Friday, November 27, 2009

Hong Kong Adventure

A number of years ago I was shooting a film in Hong Kong.

The script called for a sequence with a Chinese farmer and his son, to be shot on a farm well outside the city. I had permission to shoot on the farm for only one day, Sunday, so we had to start early Sunday morning.

The actor playing the farmer was already at the location. With my crew I was waiting for the arrival of the boy who had been hired to play the part of the farmer’s son and who was to come with his mother. The mom, luckily, spoke good English. She would spend the day taking care of the boy while we worked. But they were late.

We sat there and waited.

Whoever first said that time was money must have been thinking about film production. We waited some more.

Finally, I could see the two of them hurrying toward us. The mother apologized profusely; the lad had slept late. Fine, I said, get in. Let’s go.

As we started off, the woman had a request. Her son had had no breakfast. Couldn’t we get something? He could eat it while we drove to the location.

If you’ve ever spent a very early Sunday morning in Hong Kong – and who hasn’t? – you are aware that the town is closed up just about as tight as a drum. However, I did espy a small hole-in-the-wall sort of place that seemed to be open. It had a sign in front that read “Portuguese Cakes.”

I had no idea what those were but any port in a storm, as the saying goes. I gave some money to my assistant and told him to get something for the kid’s breakfast.

We waited some more.

When the assistant showed up I was startled to see that he had a large tray loaded with half-a-dozen containers of the aforesaid cakes. It seems that a Portuguese cake, at least in Hong Kong, was a variation on the cream-puff theme: each container had a sizable piece of cake on the bottom with a whopping amount of thick whipped cream on the top. It was difficult just to have to look at such stuff early in the morning.

I believe that kid had never tasted anything like those “cakes” before; he ate them all, and with gusto.

To get back to our production, no one had told me that the farm, our location, was on top of a hill. Nor that the only way to get to it was on a small winding road – which zigged off to the left, then zagged off to the right, etc., etc.

The inevitable happened.

Our boy actor suddenly let loose with a monumental upchuck, probably of a dimension never before seen in that part of the Orient.

The rear seat of our vehicle – and unfortunately not just the rear seat – was covered with gobs of partially-digested gateaux portugais, which had somehow become transmogrified into something rather like Elmer’s Glue, except that the smell was far worse.

As we continued toward the location, I could only wonder if Scorsese ever had problems like this. :-)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Car Shame

I’m ashamed of my automobile.

How do you think it makes me feel? To have to drive around in a ten-year-old vehicle without a sun (or, as far as that goes, moon) roof, with doors that have to be opened with a key, and without a system that would show me my global position?

It’s humiliating, that’s what it is.

I don’t have any strange woman with a soothing, cultivated voice emanating from my dashboard telling me how to drive. I don’t have digital maps to study (while I drive) that indicate where my favorite restaurant is to be found; I don’t have basics like a huge, ear-shattering surround-sound speaker system. (My car doesn’t even have a heated steering wheel.) The list of things my present vehicle doesn’t have goes on and on.

All I have is a 10-year-old vehicle like the above that is good to look at (the design of the ’99 model was classic and holds up nicely today), works well, never causes headaches or problems, and gets top highway mpgs.

And I'm fairly convinced that it could last another 10 years.

Surely a highly successful business entrepreneur like me (ha!) should instead have a very expensive, spiffy, luxury car with all the panoply of gadgets, gizmos and other often useless accessories that so many of the newer models have. Without such items, how will I impress people as I drive around?

As I say, it’s humiliating. But I guess I'll put up with the humiliation for a few more years. :-)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Death of Cordelia

Fourteen years, that's an elderly lady in cat years, a long life -- and in this case a happy one.
The vet referred to her as a "kitty." Look at her. Stately, dignified, Cordelia was not a "kitty."

Definitely a member of the family, she will be missed.

She was named after King Lear's favorite daughter. Lear: "Her voice was ever soft, gentle and low." Very true.

If there is a cat heaven somewhere, she, of all felines, will have made it in.

"If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans." James Herriot

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Gourmet Cuisine

Dedene recently published a post about the problems she sometimes has with the French language. Took me back a few decades.

The first day I arrived in France, years ago, my knowledge of the language was -- 'ow you say? -- rudimentary. Later I was to work in France and live in France and I became reasonably fluent, though I still manage to make my share of grammatical errors I assure you.

Anyway, that first day, knowing very little French, I went to a restaurant. I was starving. I was ready for one of those great French meals I had read about. I stared at the menu. There was nothing resembling an English word anywhere to be seen. I wanted to order something typically French but I had literally no idea what any of the dishes were that were listed on that sheet.

I decided to go with one of the items that seemed to be perhaps more French than anything else listed. It was "choucroute." It had such a Gallic feel to it. I could pronounce it okay, even if I didn't know what it was. I was sure it was a classic example of gourmet cuisine -- a piece, as the saying goes, of resistance.

When the waiter brought it to me I nearly fell off my chair. My first day in France, my first meal in a fine, expensive French restaurant, and I had ordered -- SAUERKRAUT!

Took a few days to get over that experience. :-)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My Friend Sybil

I'd like you to meet my friend Sybil.

She's our state's, Connecticut's, version of Paul Revere.

During the American Revolutionary War, Sybil Ludington rode her horse through the night for some forty miles...

Alerting everyone to the attack on the town of Danbury.

You'll find her here, right in the center of town. No need to hurry; she's here every day.

In 1777, the British landed near Westport and took this road north.

At the time, Danbury was a sleepy farm village but it had been selected to play a significant role in the Revolution.

It was an important supply depot, a town loaded with stores of all kinds desperately needed by the Americans, and the Redcoats were out to destroy it.

On the night of April 26, 1777, after hearing of the attack on Danbury, 16-year-old Sybil took it upon herself to ride her horse named "Star" to alert the countryside.

Members of the militia, farm boys, everyone in the area, heard her shout, "They're burning Danbury!""

A proper young lady of that era, she rode sidesaddle all the way.

When she returned home the next morning, soaked from the rain and exhausted, the soldiers had assembled and marched to the Battle of Ridgefield.

The Redcoats fired their cannon down the main street of Ridgefield.

One of their cannon balls struck Keeler Tavern...

Where it remains to this day.

Sybil was later congratulated by just about everyone, including George Washington.

Much later she was put on a stamp, back in the days when you could mail a letter for eight cents. :-)

Sybil Ludington, a name to remember.

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