Welcome to the Digital Viking: The EDSBS Guide to Spicy Living. Published every Friday, the Digital Viking embraces zesty living with a six-part review of the essentials:
--A patron saint invoked for inspiration
Diligent study of the Digital Viking's recommendations will increase spiritual happiness and liver circumference. Apply weekly and live daily for best results.
Mentioned earlier this week but not adequately enough to satisfy our tribute gland, Richard Feynman is our patron saint today. Unlike many of our Patron Saints, Feynman did not drink after his twenties because he sensed he could become a terrific alcoholic, and that this might interfere with brain function and eventual Nobel-hood and general genius-ness. He later won a Nobel, so we'll take it as a fair trade. (He also took acid, but was mildly embarrassed by the experience.)
Feynman won the Nobel Prize for Physics for his work on quantum electrodynamics and is generally regarded as one of the most brilliant minds of the century, and that's awesome if you're into accolades. What gets Feynman patron sainthood is his restlessness, his boredom with the mundane and accepted, and his cheery, quirky way of reconciling these with his equally relentless curiosity.
A kind of brilliant pet raccoon in human form, Feynman solved the tedium of Los Alamos during the Manhattan project by learning how to crack safes and by drumming and dancing with the Navajo. (He would play the bongos throughout his life, usually while spitting out gibberish like "I gotta have orange juice" over the beat.) He watched the Trinity test through a car windshield because he thought the windshield was enough to protect him from the radiation. Feynman lost his wife at a young age, and compensated the way men should by going on a lady-slaying spree through Las Vegas and Rio De Janeiro. (He was even good at being a widower.) He could have gone to the snooty and extremely exclusive Institute For Advanced Studies at Princeton, but sensibly chose Cal Tech because it was warm. You're damn right he had a hot tub like Joe Biden's, and you're damn right he didn't wear a swimsuit when he went in because that's why you have your own hot tub in the first place.
You might have picked up a pattern of Feynman not giving a fuck in the best possible way. This is indeed a lifelong trend, since he did draw, dabble in biology, and simultaneously figure out why the Challenger exploded with the enthusiasm of someone who was concerned only with solving problems and not with how he looked while doing it. (Though through three different eras of style, you have to admit he was a sly-looking manbeast. OH AND JUST LOOK AT ME CHILLIN' WITH THE BONGOS.)
He even did cancer like a boss, since the tumor they found in his back--hello, non-lead windshield--was the size of a football and its removal still didn't kill him. His last words, according to his sister, were "I'd hate to die twice. it's so boring." When you live the way Feynman did, it has to be.
To the living which is spicy:
Orson: Baijiu. China's rocket fuel for the common man, and a superb way to end up getting beaten with sticks by five angry old Chinese men who really didn't want you to vomit on their mah-johngg table. Baijiu is a clear liquor described thusly by Wikipedia:
A highly fragrant distilled liquor of bold character. To the Western palate, sauce fragrance baijiu can be quite challenging. It has solvent and barnyard aromas, with the former, in combination with the ethanol in the liquor, imparting a sharp ammonia-like note.
Challenging is fair. So is "nail polish with undertones of pigshit and nutkick," since most of the stuff we drank in China came across less as a deliberately brewed beverage for human consumption, and more of a mistake in pulling industrial solvents off the shelf when you were reaching for hooch. Baijiu is the choice of a billion people for taking the Blotto Train To Oblivion Village, and though some brave souls have attempted to work the White Dragon into cocktails, they're just concealing the essential nutkick element of baijiu in packaging. It's playful, but ultimately you're still drinking Chinese hobo wine.
Serve it warm. Then serve more. Recite some poetry; turn on the karaoke machine. Talk about how cheap the other is, and then perhaps get into a fistfight with your buddy over a card game. Smoke: smoke more than you should, actually, and then begin properly smoking. Work an 18 hour shift at a factory, and then get stinking drunk. Hock up a loogee loudly, spit it on the ground, and don't even think of looking around to see if anyone cares, because they shouldn't. Fall asleep on a mat with a radio blasting at 105 decibels, and then wake up for an hour of vigorous table tennis played while smoking. BAI JIU CAN MAKE THIS ALL HAPPEN FOR YOU.
Holly: We are currently treading rising waters in the cold dead center of a nineteen-day work week, so our contributions today will be mercifully brief, but OOOOH LOOKY FLAMING SPANISH COFFEE GROG, which is coffee with rum in it that you can set on fire! We would drink it on fire right now, too, and not feel a blessed thing. IT'S A COMBUSTIBLE COMESTIBLE Y'ALL [twitch]
Doug: For this selection I'll have to ask you to sublimate, at least temporarily, any contempt you may hold for the French, for while they may have given us the Maginot Line and the enduring popularity of Jerry Lewis, they also gave us Melissa Theuriau, the Citroen DS and the Concorde. Not to mention the refreshing and très simple Parisian Cocktail -- three parts gin, four parts Noilly vermouth, and three parts creme de cassis, shaken with ice and strained into your artsiest-looking glass.
Perfect for relaxing on a warm, breezy evening with a copy of Le Soir and decrying how every culture on Earth is full of troglodytes except for yours.
Holly: Real football is over, AND pro football is over, that means the Super Bowl. The runup to the Super Bowl means menu-planning, and menu-planning means diligent study of whatever Sarah Sprague's dishing up this week. There is a cocktail weenies recipe in there that even the primmest of hausfraus would allow at her table, hand to God.
Doug: Many years ago I proposed the theory of bacon as the universal food, i.e. something so good it would go with anything. Despite the scoffing that ensued, I still maintain that bacon would taste awesome sprinkled on a bowl of vanilla-bean ice cream, but it's all academic now -- my theory has been disproved by Bacon Beans. Yes, there is such a thing as bacon-flavored jellybeans, though "bacon-flavored" in this instance is at best an approximation. The bros I cajoled into trying them at the SB Nation confab in Washington a few weeks ago agreed almost unanimously with my assertion that the actual flavor comes a lot closer to "tire fire," but your results may vary.
Orson: Spam Musubi. It's cut-rate Hawaiian sushi made with Spam, and you can almost feel yourself sprouting lineman-sized legs eating it. Yes, it sounds horrible, and it is so much better than you imagine because the pseudomeat is first grilled, and then wrapped in rice, which in case you didn't know is the trusted flavor-booster rocket of carbohydrates since any meat tastes at least 50% better when surrounded by a generous helping of it. Our Hawaiian vacation will consist of two things: 1. Finding the deluxe spam musubi with furikake and egg on it in a local 7-11, and 2.) Throwing a Wes Byrum doll into a volcano.
Doug: As with just about everything else the U.S. tried in the seventies, the attempted rescue of the embassy hostages in Tehran was a monolithic clusterfuck, yet it could have been even bigger and clusterfuckier. Plan B, "Operation Credible Sport," involved landing a C-130 inside a soccer stadium with the help of backward-mounted JATO rockets, picking up the hostages, and then blasting out of there again. Yes, sir, I see no problems whatsoever with this exercise.
Orson: IT'S CHEATING AND I KNOW SHE'S NOT REAL BUT DAMMIT SHE'S A TRAINED KILLER WHO'S STACKED LIKE FLAPJACKS AND INTO INTERRACIAL PORN AND LINGERIE AND GEEKY DUDES DON'T TAKE IT AWAY FROM ME--
Lana Kane, fictional cartoon spy.
Doug: On the one hand, I would love to own an Aerocar. On the other hand, seeing how people in Atlanta drive and merely imagining how that would translate to general aviation, I guess I can see why it didn't catch on.
Holly: Dirigibles! They get you places in that old-world style we so aspire to, AND it's fun to say! Dirigibles! Dirigibles!
Orson: The hardy Norwegian Rat of pickup trucks, the old Toyota Hilux.
So indestructible they might yet outlive the human race.
Doug: I haven't seen "Rubber" yet, but the trailer alone merits inclusion in the Digital Viking video library.
A sentient tire that kills people through psychokinesis? There's not a chance in hell this movie ever makes it to Columbus, but it might come to Atlanta, and if it does, open invitation to an EDSBS FIELD TRIP, MOTHERFUCKERS.
Holly: As long as we're going sight unseen with one choice, let's break the one other cardinal rule and revisit something we've already done. The new season of Archer premiered last night, but we finally broke down and purchased the DVDs when Season 1 disappeared off Netflix Watch Instant. The unaired Archer pilot episode contained thereon was, quite literally, like nothing we've ever seen on television before, and a superlative example of running a joke repeatedly and gleefully into the ground long past its expiration date. It's a practice we're quite fond of here. (If you've already seen it, be a lamb and don't spoil the joke. And yes, we watched the entire thing.)
But really, this is all just a lead-up to the ZOMG WORLD-BEATING UNINTERRUPTED SHOT surrounded by four hours of a little movie called ...
Orson: Children of Men. Is there ownage? Oh, yes, there is ownage.
It is hard to say you love Children of Men. You love puppies, because they are cute and nip your heels and are fuzzy and round. You love the taste of beef stew on a cold night because it is comfort food. You love a particular pair of shoes because they are comfortable, reliable, and do not smell like hot death (yet.)
Children of Men isn't so much lovable as it is just staggering in its totality. Most movies have a wink/nod artificiality to them. Catherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel sit in a coffee shop playing other people, CGI things that are not really giant white bears are on the screen. They talk to an actress who is playing a part. Harrison Ford is playing himself protecting his wife his children his wife.
That is not the case with Children of Men. I am still not certain Alfonso Cuaron did not actually create this in an alternate future where women stop having children and the world is seized by an infertility crisis. It would be admirable in scale, and appalling to do because by the time you watch Clive Owen stumble out of a bombed coffeeshop in the opening scene a shitload of people have already died. Alfonso Cuaron is one of history's great murderers, and you cannot convince me otherwise.
Did we mention a woman is holding up her own severed arm at this point? Did you notice the Abu Ghraib Hood Man standing in the background of the Bexhill scene, or the King Crimson playing behind Theo's trip into the Art Ark to meet his cousin? What the hell is his gimp/boyfriend playing with, and what the hell is wrong with him? You don't even question the Pink Floyd flying pig because, well, that just seems par for the course about 20 minutes into the film. It's so complete you just accept that Battersea Power Station would still have Roger Waters' pet pigs floating over it.
At the time we watched it for the first time we were just finishing up being involved in the world of refugees. It was in a hotel room in New Orleans for the 2007-08 BCS Title Game, and we watched it in a hotel room at the Canal Street Inn just a stone's throw away from the homeless encampment sprawled out under I-10. By the time Theo got to the uprising scene in the refugee camp, it looked like someone had taken the little bag containing all the horrible images, stories, moments, and inferences about exactly how bad the universe truly can be and had spilled them onto the screen, and then left a little extra on the street to watch through the mesh-wire reinforced windows of the hotel.
(PS. Don't ever watch Children of Men in a hotel where the still-visible effects of a natural disaster can be seen from a nearby window, or you will become convinced you are in Children of Men, and in case this recommendation does not get the point across that is NOT where you want to be ever.)
I didn't really move for the last 20 minutes of the movie, and that's before the movie peaks with the best-timed RPG shot ever filmed. (It really should have had its own Oscar for Special Achievement.) It's The Waste Land put to flim. Dead T.S. Eliot would have sued for the rights to the movie, but he saw it and was too moved to say anything, and crawled quietly back into his crypt shaking his head.
This is one of the best films you or dead T.S. Eliot will ever see.This means you should probably see it.