Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Venus and Mars are Alright Tonight.

Some things are so bad, they're good.

Others are just plain good. Like on my walk through Carver this morning, I had to smile when I saw someone had stenciled "Spring Fling" in fanciful, sky blue letters on the brick sidewalk.

Would it be too much to ask to discover another saying maybe "Endless Summer" or "Summer Breeze"?

I'll keep my eyes peeled.

Today's unsparing heat dictated that I get my work done early and take a nap before my date picked me up just after the first thunderstorm that lowered my apartment's temperature from 92 to 88, a more satisfying drop than it might sound.

Everything's relative on the second floor.

Speaking of heat, in a lovely summertime date move, he showed up with three tomatoes from his garden as an offering.

After scrapping plans to go to 821 Cafe, we decided on Extra Billy's Barbecue, a place I hadn't been since Fall 2003.

I'm not sure much had changed in the intervening 11 years.

The primary difference to my eye was that instead of a bar full of cigarette-smoking regulars, there was now a bar of e-cigarette-smoking regulars, clutching their vaporizers with one hand and beers with the other.

Hardly surprisingly, classic rock was blaring - and I'm talking REO Speedwagon, Rush and Foreigner - until it took a sudden left turn into Mariah Carey territory with neo-soul.

Curious about onion strings, we began with a big basket of those. Basically skinny, extra-crispy onion rings (if a tad too salty), my date and I diverged on condiments since he believes ketchup should never touch fried onions and I have no problem with it.

The bartender, friendly and polite, was not only new to bartending, but by his own admission, also new to Extra Billy's. As in, it was his second night and he still needed a lot of guidance.

Fortunately, he found it in a blond woman who seemed to know how to do every job there as well as where everything was located.

But her greatest asset was that she broke into song occasionally, singing along to Joe Walsh or "Leather and Lace," like any die-hard Stevie Nicks fan might.

It's been a while since I've seen a salad bar, but EB's had one and my date wasted no time digging in. I let the kitchen do the work for me, choosing Sonny's barbecue salad with warm barbecued chicken (and, even better, mostly dark meat) over greens, tomatoes and cukes. Tasty.

A guy at the bar chatted us up, recalling old Belmont Avenue restaurants from the '80s that pre-dated my 13 years in the Museum District and making Mayor Jones bobblehead jokes about the Boulevard stadium plan. Good times.

When we left there, it was to get a drink, so I suggested River City Classic Bar & Grill because it was Not So Classic movie night and they were  showing- wait for it - a Mexican, sci-fi, musical, vampire, horror, western B movie.

I kid you not.

"The Ship of Monsters" from 1960 (meaning it begins with an intro about harnessing the power of the '50s) featured two former Miss Mexicos as women -whose main costumes seemed to be glitzy bathing suits and high heels - from Venus sent on a mission with a robot (Tor, but nicknamed "Tractor" by a Mexican) to scour the universe and bring back males to help populate the planet.

Plant their seed is how they phrase it.

After picking up some monster-like men from various other planets, wouldn't you just know they ended up on earth when their spaceship has engine trouble?

The hapless, Mexican cowboy who sings a hopeful song to the heavens for a girl unexpectedly gets his wish when he meets the two space travelers.

"What is he, Elvis Presley?" a friend joked when he burst out singing. Another time, he emerges from a bar drunk and walks down the dirt streets of Chihuahua singing, coincidentally with a guitarist and accordionist trailing behind to provide music as he sings.

When the two space women show up at his door, he reluctantly (because he's cheap, you see) puts a quarter in the jukebox in his living room to play music he can sing along as a way to explain love to them.

Why? Because, oddly enough, natives of Venus don't have love on their planet so they don't understand the concept.

This raises a few issues for me because isn't Venus the Roman goddess of love? And if the Romans associated her with love wouldn't you think the Mexicans in the '60s would have realized this and made them from someplace other than Venus?

But that's a quibble.

The point here is that the robot who accompanies them to the man's house sees the jukebox and is smitten by its shiny knobs. Now things were getting kinky.

But not as kinky as when the Mexican man asks the women if they swing his way.

Here's where it got deep. Our singing cowboy kisses one woman, falling in love immediately, but then the other one forcefully kisses him (he quickly clarifies that he's the giver and she's supposed to be the receiver) and wants him for her own.

Cat fight.

No, actually what  happens is that the sweet one goes back to the spaceship and the pushy one goes off to...that's right, become a vampire and suck blood.

"Never saw that coming!" someone in the room said.

Except that bloodsucking is a huge no-no in the inter-planetary world so she must be disintegrated by morning.

Of course she overpowers the sweet one and sends the monsters off to kill: one to kill children, another to kill women and one to kill animals. They do her bidding because she's sexy and they want to plant their seed in her.

What may have been the most laugh-out-loud funny scene in the movie comes when the cowboy returns home to find that something has eaten his entire cow (charmingly named Lollobrigida - how of-the-time is that?), leaving only the bones of its skeleton standing in its stall in the barn.

Standing, mind you.

There weren't as many people at the diner tonight as I've seen at Not So Classic Movie night before, but those who were there knew the Mystery Science Theater routine and commented throughout, calling out characters for silly behavior and riffing on bad dialogue.

Once the monsters are finally killed, the cowboy and his Venus love decide to live happily after after in Chihuahua, leaving the robot to return the space ship to Venus.

"What about the jukebox?" a guy at the bar called out as we saw the firepower indicating that the ship was leaving earth.

Cut to the ship's interior, where the robot has his arm around the jukebox, his light panel flashing off and on excitedly.

Machines canoodling. Definitely so bad it's good.

But a date two nights in a row? Honey, that's just plain good.

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