Sunday, September 3, 2017

To Dream the Impossible Dream

On a day when the rain just didn't want to stop, a trip to Spain sounded mighty appealing.

Not Spain the actual country - although I'd happily accept an invitation any time it comes along - but the film "The Trip to Spain," which was playing at Movieland. I'd seen the last in the series, "The Trip to Italy," in 2014, two years after my own first trip to Italy and enjoyed every moment of it.

But Spain, that was fresh territory for me.

My date and I began with glasses of Fazio Aegades Grillo and a record listening party to test his memory and launch tangents. Listening to the Grass Roots' "More Golden Grass" led us to "The Supremes Sing Holland Dozier Holland" when he heard a similar musical phrase ("whoa, whoa, whoa"), which necessitated me demonstrating the same sort of connection I'd heard between a song on the Brass Ring's "Disadvantages of You" and another on "The Association's Greatest Hits."

Nothing is new, kids, we just recycle the riffs of the past and hope no one's paying attention.

Because that kind of musical tangent-following can lead a couple of music nerds down endless rabbit holes while we starved to death, we stepped away from the turntable and made our way to Peter Chang's for dinner.

There were far more families with young children than you might expect on a Saturday night, but we were seated at a table in the bar area far from high chairs.

Since it was my date's first visit to Peter Chang's, he was understandably overwhelmed at the menu, but seemed to have little problem pinpointing a wine we'd both love. Cherrie "Les Chailloux" Sancerre Rose delivered all the textbook charms of a good Sancerre with its clean-tasting grapefruit flavors the color of pink diamonds. The Loire never disappoints.

Bowing to the power of Peter Chang's dry-fried anything, my companion chose dry-fried shredded chicken while I took our server's advice and opted for dry-fried flounder with wood ear mushrooms, potatoes, broccoli, onions and peppers. Naturally, an air-filled scallion bubble pancake accompanied our meals so we could pinch up food and mitigate heat when necessary.

It's such a pleasure to experience Peter Chang's with a first-timer and my date did not disappoint as he rhapsodized over the pancake and accustomed his palate to the spiciness. Our only complaint was that we had to request chopsticks because they weren't automatically offered.

There was no way either of us could finish such enormous servings, though we gave it our best shot as the families moved on and the second wave of Saturday night date couples began taking their places. And while we qualified to stay, we had a movie to catch.

We came in out of the rain into the theater just as two friends - a fellow theater panel member and a former art gallery director working on a new book - did, providing some last minute socializing before finding theater #2.

Although my date hadn't seen either of the first two installments of the series featuring Brits Steve Coogan and Rob Bryden, I felt like I knew him well enough to know how much he'd enjoy the dry humor, middle age ruminations and vocal impressions that are standard in these films.

Me, I go because the movies encompass my interests: travel (with splendid photography of places I'd love to see in person and an introduction to a sleep aboard ferry I can only dream about), food (Bryden is supposedly writing restaurant reviews so we see loads of shots of kitchen prep and sumptuous plus rustic dishes being delivered to their table) and endless brilliantly clever banter.

Their conversations about aging were just icing on the cake.

That so much of the dialog is improvised ensured our interest and attention, in the same way that listening to an erudite and comedic friend riff on life at a party does. What will he say next?

Less than an hour into the film during a quiet moment in dialog, I could hear fireworks outside the theater coming from the Diamond's final fireworks display of the baseball season. Yet another unpleasant reminder that summer is fading and cooler weather looms.

But while we were entertained by conversations about Cervantes and Don Quioxte and seduced by scenes of Spain, its architecture, mountains, monuments and churches - not to mention fabulous seaside restaurants - I forgot all about Richmond and rain.

In fact, scenes of them driving around the countryside instead brought Joni Mitchell's "California" to mind.

So I bought me a ticket
I caught a plane to Spain
Went to a party down a red dirt road
There were lots of pretty people there...

Never have red dirt roads and the red dust clouds that trail vehicles on them looked so appealing. And certainly, never has a rambling discussion that begins with the Moors and segues to Roger Moore been so laugh-out-loud funny.

Probably to no one's surprise, I'm also a fan of tilting at windmills. Whoa, whoa, whoa...

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