' ' Cinema Romantico: Palate Cleanser

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Palate Cleanser

There’s the moment from “Sideways” I think of often, the one when Miles (Paul Giamatti) is going through his whole Proper Way to Taste Wine spiel and his pal, Jack (Thomas Haden Church), is patiently listening to it before, finally, at some point after the digression on oxygenation, asks “When do we drink it?” It’s partly Haden Church’s delivery, not quite droll, because he knows that Jack knows that this is just the way Miles is, but almost genuinely curious, like he really wants to know, is this it? Is this when we get to drink it? I often think of it when I’m watching Top Chef with My Beautiful, Perspicacious Wife. Because I know as little about food as Jack knows about wine and I like to do this extremely unfunny bit where I imagine myself at Judge’s Table saying things like that, “When do we eat it?” Now that’s not to suggest I don’t appreciate food. I appreciate it very much and I know what I like; I just can’t get into the finer points with you, the nuances, the techniques. And that’s why I loved - loved - last week’s episode when guest judge Ed Lee went to bat for Dawn Burrell at Judge’s Table. He was listening to Padma and Tom and Gail and the rest go on and on and he said something to the effect of, look, we can talk technique all day, but fact is, her food? Her food is fucking good. It was more eloquent than that, of course, but you take my point. 

When you watch so many movies and write about so many movies and think about movies all the time, it’s easy to wind up in the weeds. Not that being in the weeds is inherently bad. Getting into the finer points of movies, the nuances, the techniques, has only made me appreciate them and their specific brand of magic so much more. But sometimes I don’t want to dissect movies, or discuss movies, I just want to talk about movies, like Jason Benetti and Steve Stone, the all-aces Chicago White Sox broadcast duo, talked about movies in the middle of a game the other night. 

[The conversation has been slightly edited and condensed.]

Jason: “I felt old today, Steve.”
Steve: “Why should today be any different?”

This is announcer humor and we will let it slide. 

Jason: “But I said to Andrew Vaughn, we had mentioned once before that he looks a little like Emilio Estevez. And he said ‘Who?’ And I said the coach of ‘The Mighty Ducks.’ And he said ‘What?’ I said, you haven’t heard of it. He said, ‘I’ve heard of ‘The Mighty Ducks,’ I haven’t seen it.”

Here Jason, ever the professional, pauses to call a strike.

Jason: “You can see it, right? A little bit of Emilio Estevez in Andrew Vaughn?”
Steve: “Absolutely.” 

Andrew Vaughn does not look like anything like Emilio Estevez. But never mind.

Jason: “He was like trying to commit the name to memory. And I thought, my goodness, where have I gone?”

At which point, Steve Stone references Emilio Estevez having been in a cowboy movie, which renders Jason incredulous.

Jason: “What cowboy movie was that?”
Steve: “Well, it wasn't ‘Blazing Saddles’, I can tell you that.”

Now a few seconds of silence passes which I like to imagine were Jason and Steve wracking their brains to come up with the movie but which we all know was really the moment when the unseen researcher in the booth handed them the name of the movie on a notecard. 

“‘Young Guns!’” they both blurt out. “Young Guns” indeed. 

Deadspin Defector has the practice of Remembering Guys, when you simply name a sport and then remember some guys. This was nothing more than Remembering a Movie. I wanna remember some movies too.

Regarding Henry.
Brokedown Palace.
Lucky Number Slevin. 
Young Einstein.
Captain Ron.
First Daughter. 
Mixed Nuts.
Feeling Minnesota.
We Bought a Zoo.

Those were movies. 

[Ed. Note: the previous version of this post employed the incorrect form of ‘Palate’, which should merely re-underline the state of mind I was in when blogging. We regret the error.] 

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