Sometimes once isn't enough.
Today began and ended in a theater with yard bird in between, because what better day for it than Sunday supper?
It was cold and windy when I walked to Movieland for my annual viewing of "White Christmas," arriving early enough to score a prime seat before the masses showed up. Plenty of people seemed to be newbies to the Movies and Mimosas concept (no previews, folks), showing up as much as 10 minutes into it and bumbling around in the dark looking for seats.
Many of them chose to sing along despite the fact that the crowd had come to hear the film, not them. Next to me was a much older woman who giggled at much of the movie's corny humor as if she were hearing it for the first time in a while. It was adorable.
In one of those overlap moments between film and real life, I spotted an army blanket on a cot in the medical tent scene, reminding me that just a few days ago, I'd ridden with my Dad in his ancient truck atop his folded up army blanket on the passenger side. It's probably the same army blanket we used to make a tent out of in the back yard as kids.
Then there were the charming 1954 period details: fishnets with seams, a match striker on a table, men's sock garters. A more stylish time in every way. I recall as a kid that the scene where the general rolls his own cigarette seemed so old-fashioned but of course now plenty of people do it.
I could say everything old is new again except I feel quite certain we'll never return to a time where people dress for dinner, spend so much time traveling on trains or use "gay" to mean cheerful and lively. Too bad, really.
It was while reading the Sunday paper in the living room and trying to catch the last of the day's sun through my south-facing windows that I decided on tonight's plan: dinner and a movie (again). Kind of like a date with myself.
My dinner destination was a no-brainer because Sunday is fried chicken night at Sasion, a short walk from home. I have to admit I was surprised when I walked in to find things very low-key with only four people at the bar.
On the speakers was Bob Marley, appropriate because the Wailers were playing at the John Marshall ballroom tonight. Sure, there's only one original Wailer remaining at this point, but eventually he'll be gone and then there'll be none, yet I bet someone will still tour under that name. And isn't one original better than none?
Soccer was on the TV, the bartender already knew my order, asking only light or dark (duh, dark) and letting me know that tonight's sides were cole slaw (peppery) and a biscuit with honey butter. Sign me up.
The bartender was refilling my water glass when I commented on how peaceful it was tonight. "For now," she laughed. "I never know with Sundays whether it'll be busy at 5 or 8:30." No doubt the holidays further skew any prognosticating.
I didn't quite qualify for the clean plate club, mainly because although I'm a biscuit hound, these weren't really my kind of biscuits. They were more of the refrigerator, flaky style while I prefer a more traditional dense and floury biscuit like the kind my Richmond grandmother made.
But I'm also a firm believer in the no biscuit left behind movement and given that the guy to my right had finished his in about three bites, I leaned over and asked if he'd want my remainder.
His eyes lit up asking if I was sure. "Seriously? I was just going to order another biscuit," he said. Only problem was his friend looked envious, so I explained to friend that the offer had been extended to the closest person and he was entitled to half. Both were thrilled with any additional biscuit forthcoming.
After collecting the car, I returned to the Criterion to see "The Homesman," Tommy Lee Jones' latest directorial and acting endeavor. As usual, he's playing an ornery old SOB, in this case one who elects to help spinster-to-be Hillary Swank cart three mentally ill women from the Nebraska territory back to the relative civilization of Iowa.
Shot to make the territory and plains look like the most monochromatic and least welcoming place on earth, the film follows the quintet's journey from west to east through Indian territory, snowstorms and days without food.
I'll admit I haven't seen enough westerns to have a qualified opinion about them (both versions of "True Grit" and "No Country for Old Men" and not much else), but this one was atypical, I feel sure. Swank played a most unusual woman for the time (1850s): unmarried, a landowner who farms and not too proud to propose to (and be turned down by) multiple men in hopes of finding a partner and companionship.
Boy, if living on the frontier was tough, try being a spinster.
Hearing multiple men tell her she was too bossy and too plain ("plain as a pail" one phrased it) to marry was heart-wrenching. Remind me never to propose to a man for fear of how he might respond.
And maybe all westerns have a lot of plot twists and sudden mood changes, but I doubt it. This one was full of surprises and unsettling scenes coming out of nowhere. Yet there were moments of humor to leaven things. Add in Oscar-worthy performances by Jones and Swank and it turned out to be a most enjoyable night of cinema even without popcorn.
Walking out of the theater beside the couple who'd been sitting near me, the woman said, "Makes you glad you're not a spinster, doesn't it?"
Oh, contraire, my dear. I am an unmarried woman past the usual age for marrying who is considered unlikely to marry. Some would even say I'm bossy.
On the plus side, that's what gives me license to offer my honey-buttered biscuits to strangers.
I'm just glad he didn't turn me down.