>The ultimate family vacation super-8 movie

>Disneyland Dream (1956)

In July 1956, the five-member Barstow family of Wethersfield, Connecticut, won a free trip to newly-opened Disneyland in Anaheim, California, in a nationwide contest. This 30-minute amateur documentary film tells the fabulous story of their fun-filled, dream-come-true, family travel adventure, filmed on the scene at Walt Disney’s “Magic Kingdom” by Robbins Barstow.

In December 2008, “Disneyland Dream” was named to the National Film Registry by the Librarian of Congress.

Note: The first uncredited screen appearance by Steve Martin occurs in the film at around the 20:20 mark – very brief, in the lower right corner. He is the 11 year old in pink shirt, black vest and top hat, hawking guidebooks.

Found at the Internet Archive.

Robbins Barstow, the creator of (and the dad in) the film died in November of this year. His obit is here.

>A Tour of the Deschutes Brewery


We began with some tasting while waiting for the tour to begin.
Our guide knew just about everything about the process and her enthusiasm was clear.
Nothing like fresh hops! Wonderful smell, and part of the secret to one of the world’s hoppiest beers.
People come from all over, even places that do not sell Deschutes. One way or another people find out just how good it is. The white pins show where the distributors are. The latest is in Minnesota. My friend Brian likes that a lot.
Lots of big tanks for lots of good beer.
Overall it was an informative homeschooling experience.

>vacationing over, rest needed


Three longs days of traveling, intense heat, too much coffee, strong drinks, family visits , book stores, fun parties, and lots of good friends have finally done us in. We are back, hunkered down, and needing to recover. But we are doing good and glad for the opportunities we’ve had.

I also came away with two prizes at cheap prices:
Jean Renoir: Letters, Ed. Lorraine LoBianco and David Thompson, Pub. Faber and Faber, 1994.
Jean Renoir: A Conversation with His Films 1894-1979, Ed. Christopher Faulkner and Paul Duncan, Pub. Taschen, 2007

>Flying United (for the last time?)*

>Becoming one of my least favorite brands.

I arrived home Friday night from the sales conference in Las Vegas. It is good to be back with my wife and kids, sleep in my own bed, etc.

I have to say something about my flight experience. In my previous post I mentioned how great Virgin Airlines is. Now I have to describe my overall experience on United Airlines. Here’s how it went:

Tuesday: Trying to leave town with a 6:15 AM flight. We sit on the plane for an extra hour and a half because of a hydraulics problem with the plane. While we sit there they turn off all power to the plane, which means no lights and no air-conditioning while we wait. Another airline fixes it for United and we’re off. The planes lands with a teeth-rattling thud in San Francisco. We’re late. We all miss our connections.

Friday: Trying to check in my bag. As I stand in line and watch the person ahead of me, I see a man behind the counter working on the printer for the bag-tags. He disconnects the machine and walk away with it. I step up to the counter and the ticket agent goes to print my bag-tag and is stopped short. Where is the printer he wonders. Fifteen minutes later, after getting his supervisor involved and phone calls to tech support, he finally gets a tag printed and checks in my bag. I have been standing at the counter the entire time wondering what kind of airline this is.

Friday: Flying from Las Vegas to San Francisco, trying to get home after a long week. The flight is delayed because some fuses have blown on the plane. An hour an a half behind schedule we board. We are all wondering how old the United fleet must be. My gut tells me United may not be as safe an airline as they should. I pray I see my family again.

Friday: Flying from San Francisco to Oregon. The plane was delayed over two hours because the autopilot was broken. We were told that it was likely we would have to stay the night and take an 8AM flight on Saturday. My wife tells me my oldest is nearly in tears waiting for me to get home. They did get the plane running, but we landed in Oregon almost three hours behind schedule.

Ironically, the nicest United employee I dealt with was the boarding ticket counter person for the last flight – and it was his first day on the job! The others were not so friendly. I guess once someone has worked for United for a while cynicism sets in. No surprise there.

That’s three different flights, three different planes, three different mechanical problems, and three flight delays – all in less than a week! Nice job United! Most of us that were flying United for those flights have vowed not to fly with them in the future if we can help it. Remarkably, it still could have been much worse.

It’s good to be home… finally.

* * * * * * * *

I am not the only person who has struggled with United Airlines, check out
here, here, here, and here.

…or this clip from Mad TV:

*I had titled this post “United Airlines = poo” but my wise wife suggested I change the title.

>where the sales people are

>Today was a travel day, mostly. I’ve been on the go now for 16 hours. The goal: get to Vegas for my company’s World Wide Sales Conference. Just in case you’re wondering, that’s 5,400 sales people all in one place, and yes it’s insane.

I had to get to the airport at 5:00 AM. The lines were crazier than I had ever seen. Then, after sitting in a United Airlines plane for an extra couple hours because of a malfunction that kept us from taking off, I missed my connecting flight (Virgin Air) in San Francisco. [Note: a Horizon Air mechanic actually fixed the plane. Someone commented that it might be in his interest to not fix a competitor’s plane perfectly. Nervous laughter.] San Francisco was a mob as usual. Fortunately Virgin Air had a later flight from SF to Vegas.

I have to say that the difference between United and Virgin is the difference between darkness and light. I love Virgin Air. New planes, nicer people, hipper styling, giving everyone on the plane a gift, etc. Too much to go into now, but I recommend them if you have the chance.

Also, it was no fun arriving three hours late to the hotel only to find they did not have the room ready. Finally I got a call on my cell from the front desk telling me the room was now ready – at 7:30PM!! Fortunately the rooms at The Palazzo are posh.

Somewhere East of San Francisco

The cool/funky interior of Virgin’s plane.

The first General Session of the sales conference. 5,400 people, rock music, gigantic video screens, and the superstar CEO. It’s quite a show.

Looking out my hotel window.

Finally, I used to think that a cell phone was the coolest thing, then I thought a cell phone with a camera was the coolest thing, now I am generally appalled at the poor quality of my phone’s pictures. What is the world coming to? What have I become?

>The Red and the White


There is a communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine drunk. And that is my answer, when people ask me: Why do you write about hunger, and not wars or love?

M. F. K. Fisher, The Gastronomical Me, pub. 1943

I dream of vacations and I dread them. Call me a glass-half-full kinda guy who thanks God that he has a glass. We just got back from our week-long vacation at the unique Fort Worden in N.W. Washington – right next to wonderful little Port Townsend. We vacationed with five other families, stayed in the same building (the old nurses’ quarters), and let the kids rule the roost (for the most part). We also took turns with each family (actually two families at a time) cooking a dinner for everyone else. When our turn came we decided on pasta. Here’s the basic low-down:

Cooking for 25+ can be a bit daunting. I figured I needed to start early – the sauces were my contribution. I knew we had a lot of different tastes to accommodate, so I chose to do both a red sauce and a white sauce. Most of the ingredients were purchased at Aldrich’s Market which, if you’re ever in Port Townsend, I would recommend you get your groceries there – or at the Food CO-OP, my other fave grocery in P.T. One of my biggest concerns was the kitchen we had available in our rooms at Fort Worden. Since we brought none of our own cookware, we were at the mercy of what was available. Fortunately, we had what we needed, even though lack of familiarity with a kitchen can throw off a cook.

A Lusty Red Sauce (for the strong and tender hearted)
The key to cooking a good, thick, dark, meaty red sauce is time. Certainly the ingredients are critical, but there are many variations that will lead to excellent results, but time – as in, letting the sauce simmer for a long time – is key. What follows is about half of what I made for the group.

Ingredients (I love reading recipes and the listing of the ingredients is the best part):

  • Note: buy organic if at all possible. I like to believe the food tastes better, but I know that we can all do with less chemicals applied tot he planet.
  • 1 typical can/jar of red sauce (I like to start simple, so this is partially semi-homemade)
  • 1 large can of diced tomatoes (if you want to peel and dice them yourself, go ahead, I applaud)
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • a 1/2 bunch of fresh basil
  • A bunch of mushrooms (you decide the amount and the kind)
  • 4 to 8 large garlic cloves
  • 1/2 lb of ground beef
  • 1/2 lb of thick-sliced bacon
  • 1/2 lb of sweet Italian sausage links
  • Red wine (Cabernets or Zinfandels are good choices)
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Sugar – anywhere from a couple of tablespoons to a half cup, depending on your preference for sweet sauces. The kids like the sweet.
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh ground pepper

Optional ingredients:

  • Whole Olives
  • Red or Yellow bell peppers (roasted, peeled, and diced)
  • Capers
  • Molasses

Throw the red sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, a couple tablespoons of the balsamic, about a cup or more of the red wine, the basil (torn or chopped up), and the sugar in a big pot and bring it to bubbling, then turn down the heat a bit and let it simmer. The rest of the wine is for the cook. Additional bottles will be opened for the guests. Chop the onion into thick chunks and toss in a frying pan. Do the same with the mushrooms and add them to the onion. The point here is to get the onion and mushrooms pre-cooked a bit before going in the sauce. When you feel they are softened enough add them to the sauce and stir in. Chop the garlic and place in the frying pan with plenty of olive oil. Sauté on low heat. It’s easy to burn garlic and the goal is to mellow it out while retaining what is best about garlic, so cook it on lower heat than you think, and let it sit there a while. When the garlic begins to look somewhat translucent, but before it turns brown, add it to the sauce. Then chop up the bacon, cook it (not crispy) and toss it in the sauce. Slice up the Italian sausage and do the same. Then cook up the ground beef and add it to the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Now here’s the clincher: Let the sauce simmer on low or med-low for at least three hours. If the sauce begins to thicken too much (due to evaporation) add more wine. Also, I like to add 2 to 6 tablespoons of olive oil to the sauce as well – gives it an additional hearty yum factor.

Let each individual ladle how much sauce they want over the pasta noodles. Penne is a good choice for noodles, but experiment with whatever noodles you think will work. Invariably your guests will take a medium amount at first because they are not quite sure if they will like such a hearty sauce – especially if they are used to the typical weak sauces so frequently served up. But then they will go back to seconds, maybe thirds, praise you, praise you again, and then find a comfortable place on the couch to finish of their second or third glass of red wine with inspired conversation.

Note: I do not emphasize specific amounts for the ingredients very much. This is a sauce “to taste” and I think it is very personal. All food should be personal and should reflect the personality of the cook as well as something of our humanity. This sauce is clearly a “heavy” sauce and is not at all the same as the wonderful light tomato sauces common in Italy (so I have read and tried to duplicate). I say BE BOLD in your sauces – and make no apologies!

A Transcendent White Sauce (for the young, the gracious, and the wise)
This sauce is so simple and so essentially perfect that, in order for it to go badly, one has to purposely set about to make a ruin of it. And like the red sauce above, this sauce is designed to be made “to taste” to suite the personality of the cook.


  • 4 to 8 large cloves of garlic
  • 1 pint of heavy whipping cream
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb of turkey apple sausage links (or similar mild/sweet sausages)
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Sea salt (to taste)
  • Fresh ground pepper (to taste)

Again, go with good quality ingredients – it’s worth it.

Peel and slice the garlic (do not crush the garlic or use a garlic press) as thin as possible – use a sharp knife. Place the garlic in a frying pan with a generous amount of olive oil. Sauté the garlic on low heat for as long as you can without it turning brown (sometimes this can take 30+ minutes on really low heat). Because garlic will burn quite easily it must be watched – so put on some good music, fill your glass with wine and stay near the stove.

Slice up the sausages and sauté them until they are well cooked – even a little crisp around the edges. Just at the moment before the garlic turns brown from the heat add the heavy whipping cream, the sausages, the sea salt, and the fresh ground pepper. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Then turn the heat down to a good simmer. Stir occasionally and let it cook down until it thickens up quite a bit – this could take 20 to 30+ minutes, even an hour.

I have never had this sauce burn, but I suppose it could, so check it frequently. When done pour over freshly cooked pasta (I like bowtie for this one), add Parmesan, toss, and serve immediately.

Bread and wine are critical ingredients for living well, so my experience tells me. We provided fabulous bread (plus olive oil & balsamic, and some fine cheeses) for the crew from a wonderful little local bakery in Port Townsend called Pane D’Amore. The wine and cheeses came from Aldrich’s.

When I walked in to Pane D’Amore I waited in line, and when it came time to order I said I wanted a loaf of Cibatta, a baguette (French, not sourdough), and an Olive loaf. When I was handed my order the woman said it was rare for anyone to know exactly what they wanted. Oddly enough, here is a funny (not exactly intentionally funny) little video report about the bakery:

I’m rarely any good at getting through life, especially when it comes to loving people and being friendly. I can get downright grumpy at times. But one thing I love to do is cook for others. I don’t have many recipes in my bag of tricks, but these two I’ve had some good success with. Never do they turn out exactly as they have done before, but each time they seem to always please the palate and make people glad they came to dinner. Try them for yourself and let me know how they turn out and if if those you serve it too don’t also praise you for ability to raise the pasta bar just a little.

Also, I have made this blog primarily about cinema, but I find that I have the desire to write about food as well – and maybe other things too. Let me know what you think. Personally, I think good movies and good food make a nice combo.

>for me, more like ocean’s three


I have been out of pocket this week at my employer’s annual Americas (N. & S.) sales conference, so blogging has had to take a back seat. Even so I do have a couple (or so) of film-related moments.

This year we are where we were last year, at The Venetian, in Las Vegas. The other night a few of us walked down the strip to the The Bellagio for some steak at Prime Steakhouse. I could see the famous fountains outside the window, but did not get outside to see them up close. That’s my first film reference for this post – of course to Ocean’s Eleven. Unfortunately, even though I bought a new phone that has a camera built into it, I forgot to take any pictures of the fountains, hence the web-grab image above. (btw, the rare fillet mingon with a bearnaise sauce was exquisite! Much better even than the excellent steak frites I had the day before at Bouchon – which has become one of my fave eateries.)

Also, Chris Gardner spoke to our sales team (about 2,000+ headcount), which was kinda cool. Just in case you didn’t make the connection, he wrote the book that became the film The Pursuit of Happyness. Now I have to say that his story is remarkable and inspiring, and his message is a good one. But I also have to say that I found him rather full of himself and in need of making sure we knew about his successes (like just how many copies his book sold, etc.). I would rather have had Will Smith as our guest speaker, but I did enjoy Chris Gardner. Again, I forgot to get any pics. Anyway, that’s my other film reference for this post.

Also, we have had the comedian Jake Johannsen as comedy relief during the general sessions at the conference. He is rather funny guy – been on Letterman a few times. And don’t forget, he played a drug dealer in Loaded Weapon 1 (1993). So that’s another lesser movie reference. Again, no pictures. I really haven’t figured out the fact that I’m carrying around a camera with me.

Finally, I have to say that I am not impressed with Las Vegas. This is my second time here and I find the place fake, dirty, and very boring. Maybe it’s a fine setting for a film or a music video. But, then again, probably most people who truly love Vegas would not find watching a film by Angelopoulos or Buñuel to be anything other than boring. I guess there’s something for everyone in this world. I am also surprised by how many young couples with little kids and babies are here, even in smoke filled rooms with their kids. And, just in case you needed to know, I’m a very efficient loser at the slots. Bye now.