Thursday, September 22, 2011

TV Bites: Escape from New York

Isaac Hayes' "Gonna Get Some" Cornish Game Hens w/Wild Rice Stuffing

Had a rough week last week. Caught a respiratory infection from breathing too much smoke and ash in the air from the wildfires, combined with a bad allergy attack, that pretty much turned into a bronchitis. I was down for like five days. But then had to get better because it was ACLfest last weekend here in Austin. I only caught a couple of acts - Manu Chao (at an after show), Black Dub, Stevie Wonder, and Randy Newman (at a separate ACL taping). But that's all I really needed to see.

Now yesterday was the first day of this year's Fantastic Fest, so I thought it appropriate to feature one of my favorite genre films of all time. It's also part two of the September New York double bill. And boy do I love this movie. John Carpenter has sadly been relegated, I think, to being lionized by only genre film fans. And his films - statements about the times he lived in disguised as genre films - as far as I'm concerned, should be studied more seriously.

While this film was made in 1980, Carpenter first wrote the script in 1974, right after Scorsese made Mean Streets. (If I were going to make this a triple bill, the 3rd movie would be The Warriors, for sure.) So yeah, New York was a tough place in the late 70's and early 80's. A park like Union Square - which today is filled at night with people walking their dogs and playing chess - was considered utterly unsafe to enter once darkness came. That Carpenter - and audiences at that time - could believe New York City could shut down and be re-purposed as a maximum security prison - was not so much science fiction. In one interview as it was being released, when Carpenter explains that New York has been turned into such a prison in the film's future-present, the British fanzine reporter quips: "Isn't it one already?" I got to see some crazy s#!t when I was growing up, I tell you. But more on this later....

Friday, September 16, 2011

(shameless self-promotion time again) Great article about a great new movie....

This article was written by one our great American journalists... me. But seriously GO SEE THIS MOVIE!

Make It Funky: 'Thunder Soul' Celebrates a High School Impresario
by Ron Deutsch

1969 was a watershed year in America. Richard Nixon took the reigns of the US presidency. It was the year of Woodstock, the Chicago 8 trial, the Stonewall riots and Charles Manson's murder spree. Sesame Street debuted, and the Beatles played their last concert, on a London rooftop. It was also the year in which 55-year-old Conrad "Prof" O. Johnson went to Kashmere High School, in a rough section of Houston known as "the Bloody 5th" Ward, to teach music and lead the school stage band. Johnson needed to reach these kids, and it wasn't going to be through teaching them Tommy Dorsey or even Duke Ellington tunes. So he began incorporating funk and soul arrangements. The experiment worked. Not only were his students inspired, but they won national awards, played internationally and continued to do so until Johnson retired in 1978.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

TV Bites: Mean Streets


Got some crazy chest cold/flu thing the last few days which hit me hard. Lots of sleeping, eating lots of Thai soups, catching up on work, and planning my schedule for Fantastic Fest next week. The best part of Fantastic Fest is that my buddy and director Eugenio Mira will be my house guest for the duration. If you're unfamiliar with Eugenio's work, one of the coolest things he's ever done is actually in front of the camera. In the upcoming film, Red Lights, he got to play a young Robert De Niro! Check it out! That's mighty awesome, in my book. So how appropriate and coincidental that this is the film I chose for this edition....

Tomorrow, the 15th of September is the first day of the Feast of San Gennaro. And there's only ONE movie to watch, and only ONE food to eat to celebrate. So let's get to it....

Friday, September 2, 2011

Tickets Available NOW!! - Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, Oct. 29

Time: Saturday October 29, 2011 · 6:30pm - 9:30pm
Location: Central Market North, 4001 North Lamar, Austin, TX

For my eighth Chef du Cinema class I'll be celebrating Halloween by demonstrating a California-inspired menu of “fowl” play (chicken & egg), paired with “the master of suspense” Alfred Hitchcock's classic shocker, The Birds. The film, which takes place in the San Francisco Bay area begins as a romantic comedy between a rich socialite and a bachelor lawyer, but then takes a bizarre turn into the apocalyptic, as the world's bird population turns inexplicably against humans and begin randomly attacking us. The film was nominated for an Oscar in Special Effects and Tippi Hedren received a Golden Globe for her performance. After the cooking demonstration, we’ll watch the movie and enjoy the meal.

Alfred Hitchcock's Quiche Lorraine
Classic California Caesar Salad
Quick Processor French Bread
Coq au Vin (made with Northern California Zinfandel)
North Beach Style Zabaione with fresh Berries