Saturday, November 18, 2006

Chumscrubber, Flammkueche

Friday night's dinner plans morphed from "Let's go somewhere like 29 Newbury" to "Let's see if Tim and Peter want to come out" to "We're having takeout at Tim and Peter's." Which, frankly, sounded like a much better way to spend Friday night after what had been a very long work week.

So we went over and drank martinis (lavender, using the simple syrup we made this summer, and limoncello) and ate pizza. The bacon and olive was notable for the fact that it was liberally topped with actual slices of bacon. Not fried, diced slivers or crumbled bits, but entire slices, baked on top of the pie. Why don't more people do this? Why isn't there a federal law to say this is the only legitimate method of bacon presentation when pizza is involved?

And we watched The Chumscrubber
(2005), starring Jamie Bell (Billy Elliott) and Glenn Close. Best described as "Donnie Darko meets American Beauty." Bell (with no trace of a Billingham accent) plays a disaffected youth in an upper-middle-class California suburb who, between taking meds donated by his psychotherapist dad and dealing with the unexpected suicide of his best friend, has to track down the deceased's stash of prescription drugs before the local rich-kid bully makes good on his promise to kill a boy he has kidnapped.

While it handles the theme of "what's wrong with kids today" without much subtlety (no wonder the offspring are twisted when the parents are medicated, delusional, self-involved or violent--and apparently have glasses of red wine surgically attached to their manicured hands), it also features some sensitive and thoughtful performances from the teen actors.

Best work, though, comes from Glenn Close as the mother of the dead kid. Her character moves from intense fury cloaked with sociable politeness (she calls each of the neighbors in turn to tell them "... in no way do I blame you for my son's death") to silently screaming despair to quiet acceptance with graceful ease. Worth a look.

Saturday we took our fat cat to the vet for her annual checkup (the results are in: she's fat. See?)

In the afternoon we schlepped to the mall to start our War-on-Christmas shopping, and found that everyone else in the entire world had the same idea. We spent a couple of hours punching mouthbreathers and then staggered back home, freshened up and headed out to
Sandrine's for dinner. Ah, civilization. Or at least as close as one can get in a roomful of flustered Harvard professors the day Yale clobbers their football team.

Once again we were in close proximity to the yellingest table in the room; two middle-aged couples discussing their parents' senility and their childrens' apathy ("He's not ready to declare a major; he's trying to decide between biology and creative writing"), all tweed jackets and assured opinions.

We discussed which comment, spoken at high volume, would cause the most offence: "I agree with Rush Limbaugh; Michael J. Fox was totally faking it" or "Gee, I really hope Santorum runs in 2008."

Food, as always as Sandrine's, was lovely. I had the simple salad (though noted sadly that the tomatoes no longer had the summer's enormous flavor) and the duck-prosciutto Flammkueche with bleu cheese and apples. The Boy started with a baked Crottin de Chavignol, warm and creamy, and then did the Choucroute, which involves six types of meat from the same maaagical animal: pork chop, bauernwurst, weisswurst, ham hock, wiener, plus a single sweet potato wrapped in bacon, and Riesling-infused sauerkraut. Way too much pig for me, but not for The Boy! Oink!

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