Where to begin? The reason there's been so much radio silence a SLIFR over the past week is that I've been on a little recon mission to rediscover the joys of life in Eugene, Oregon, where I've been hanging out fishing, watching movies late into the night and getting up late into the morning with best friend Bruce, known to SLIFR readers as "Blaaagh." Bruce recently got a wonderful job as a text and trade books manager at the University of Oregon bookstore and is currently in transition from the Bay Area, operating out of a very happening studio apartment bachelor pad in downtown Eugene. Since we live so far apart and are usually busy as hell with the everydays of life we usually only get to see each other, if we're lucky, two times a year, and now that he's back in Oregon, that two times might be cut back to once a year, at least for a while anyway. So we're trying to take good advantage of time spent together up here, and so far it's been pretty great and ultra-rejuvenating.
We drifted down the spectacular McKenzie River all day Saturday-- driftboat and oaring courtesy of Bruce's brother Chris, fisherman extraordinaire and perhaps the funniest man alive, who was also an excellent instructor in the basics of fly fishing as well.
We ended up with lots and lots
of strikes and five beautiful rainbow trout in the bag when we hit the boat ramp at dusk.
The next morning, Chris and I did up a man-sized breakfast--
I poached a bunch of eggs and he poached the trout in orange juice and butter, after stuffing the body cavities of the little swimmers with rosemary pulled fresh from a giant bush growing in the courtyard of Bruce's apartment building. I have eaten absolutely nothing, in my recent memory, as delicious as that breakfast-- there's something very primal and satisfying about cooking and eating something you've gone out and wrested from Nature's grasp on your own.
The only thing I can think of to compare with it, in terms of sheer satisfaction of hunger, quality and richness of atmosphere, was the GIANT
pizza we ripped through at Ike's Pizza, located right across Highway 126 from the boat ramp, after we finished our river excursion Saturday night. ("Oh, my God, they ate that whole GIANT-- 26"--pizza?" Ike's fresh-faced, teenaged pizza cook was overheard to marvel.)
Chris, who, next to Bruce, easily ranks as one of my favorite people, was on his way back to Portland by noon, and it wasn't long after that we hooked up with Psaga, who made her way down from Corvallis, along with her delightful amore Scott. We parked on the UofO campus and, responding to a request from Psaga and Scott, mind you, Bruce and I proceeded to take them along a campus tour of all the famous locations used in the feature film National Lampoon's Animal House which, as you may or may not know, was shot on campus in the fall on 1977. (Bruce and I, both cast as extras, members of the infamous Delta House, met on the set nearly 30 years ago.) We ended the day at the spectacularly eccentric Bijou Cinemas, which was once a mortuary, with a screening of Robert Altman's latest, A Prairie Home Companion, which was loved by all-- I hope to get a chance to write about it soon.
And today, the first day on my trip (which has one full day left to go) that I've cracked open the laptop and taken a look at what's been going on in the blogosphere over the last week, finds Eugene cool and overcast-- perfect Eugene weather. I'm in a kind of atmospheric bliss right now as I sit near Bruce's apartment window and drink in the gorgeous cloudy sky. Rain has been promised for later today, but even if it doesn't happen, the feeling outside (and inside) is such an improvement over the 96-degree hot heat we had yesterday that grousing about that would seem ungrateful indeed. I'm unable to transfer any of the many pictures I shot onto the blog until I get back to my home setup-- and those Animal House location pix have given me a very good idea for the foundation of my long-considered post on the film and our experiences with it, so I'll save them for later, when I finally get my DVD screen-grab capabilities up and running. But when I get back to L.A. I will sprinkle a few good shots of my adventures here in Eugene for all the world to see for themselves what relaxation means to me. Even in relaxation bliss mode, though, a phone call from my three girls back home-- especially two phone messages in which both of my daughters were tearfully pleading for their daddy to come home now-- have got me looking forward to enduring the plane ride-- including an absurd routing through Salt Lake City-- just so I can kiss their beautiful faces and tell them all about Daddy's/Hubby's fun time in one of his favorite places, spent with some of his favorite people.
EUGENE TRIP CINEMA:
Night Moves (1975; Arthur Penn) I started watching it in the Salt Lake City Airport and finished it on the flight into Eugene. Penn's take on the malaise of an aging detective (Gene Hackman) seems almost (almost) as radical in its treatment of the genre as did The Long Goodbye. Insistent, uncomfortable and compelling, this is one of those movies that looks a lot better the more miles you have on your personal odometer.
Vampyr (1932; Carl Theodore Dreyer) Started somewhere over Utah, finished just as we began our descent into Eugene. Surreal, beautiful imagery that at times seems transmitted from another world-- perfect mid-air viewing.
Deep Red (1975; Dario Argento) Bruce, Chris and I started his one Friday night, but as the hour got later and we realized wee were going to have to get up fairly early on Saturday to make our fishing trip, we had to bail out after about an hour. This is one of Argento's really good ones, though, so I imagine I'll finish it off on the plane back to Salt Lake City tomorrow morning. (Update 7/12, 11:08 pm: Still haven't finished it yet!)
Hollywood Boulevard (1976; Joe Dante, Allan Arkush) Miracle Pictures' greatest achievement was received with the spirit in which it was made as Chris, Bruce and I settled in for a lotta laughs after a long day on the river. The copious nudity of the delightful Candice Rialson, Tara Strohmeier, Rita George and a bevy of '70s-era natural beauties was well appreciated too.
A Prairie Home Companion (2006; Robert Altman) About as joyful a movie about death and longing as I think I've ever even. Bonus: After a campus tour in the hot heat, it as equally joyous to discover the Bijou has recently become air-conditioned...
Wrong Turn (2003; Rob Schmidt) Lousy, derivative kill movie delivers the gore on top of an incredible pile of unpleasant, cliched "characters" and moronic behavior by said UCC's. Even so, this is the kind of crap that is often just the ticket for when Bruce and I get together, so we enjoyed it nonetheless.
The Omen (2006; John Moore) We made our way to the movie bargain of the weekend Monday night-- $1.50 admission, ghastly purple/yellow/red stripey cineplex decor, excellent popcorn. More to come on the movie itself.
Sorry, Wrong Number (1948; Anatole Litvak) The trip finished off with this hysterical little number-- I've never seen more elaborate flashbacks-within-flashbacks, nor do I ever remember being made to sympathize with the motivations of a murderer quite so strongly as I did here. Barbara Stanwyck is terrific, which means unbearable, as the bitchy invalid heiress who comes to believe she's overheard plans for her own murder over the telephone. A little overripe and excessively expository at times, but the ending is still a shocker.