Yesterday was a very fine day.
Once we got up, I prepped the kitchen, laying out all of the flours and spices and sugars and bowls and spoons to make cookies. We put together two different kinds of sugar cookie dough to chill in the fridge, along with a double batch of rugelach dough. Then we made brownies, blondies, and oatmeal cookies. (The blondies didn't set well, but I figured that letting them cool overnight would turn them into blondie brittle. Turns out they just became very dense, and very good, blondies.)
Speaks with Doorknobs asked the bartender about the barback, a stunning display of woodworking with a bust of a horse looking over the bar from the top center. Well, there are some folks who, once you crack the tap, can't stop. There were scarcely any other patrons, so with a little urging, we learned about the history of the bar, the politics of working with bar owners, the residential and commercial real estate conditions of Glens Falls and Saratoga... and then we learned that our bartender was back in school to train in radiology. We got a MARVELOUSLY graphic depiction of a hip replacement surgery, complete with stainless steel mallets and pulling the old hip out of the socket with the puller having one foot braced against the operating table for leverage, blood and bone chips flying around the room. He said at one point, "I have a moderately weak stomach, and this was my first full surgery. I thought I'd have not look until after the incision was done, so that I wouldn't pass out. I was sure I was going to become a secondary patient. But I finally told myself, 'Just get outside yourself and go do this.' And I was okay." The orthopedic surgeon was someone our bartender had played high school football against 21 years earlier.
Then we went in to the theater, got a very nice seat back-row center (back row at Aimie's being the equivalent of about the eighth row in a normal theater), and had a remarkably low-quality dinner. We keep TRYING to have a good meal at Aimie's, but they can't pull it off. The concept is so wonderful that we want to support it, but their kitchen staff or procedures are just not up to the task. (Same ownership as the bar, which is nearly empty four nights a week and only has real business on Friday and Saturday nights once the bands start up.)
But the movie itself, Hugo, was remarkable. It wasn't a very credible story, and the acting ranged from bland to awful. Ben Kingsley would not have gotten his Oscar for this, and Sacha Baron Cohen was channeling John Cleese from the Fawlty Towers era.
What was remarkable was the way in which 1920s Paris had become a larger-scale analogue for the clockworks that Hugo tended. This was a movie with ten million moving parts, all of which were visible so that you could see the gears turn and the cam-wheel pivot and the pawl catching on the ratchet. It was a movie about the craft of movies, made by a director, Martin Scorcese, who clearly loves the craft of movies.
In every movie, there are a few lines that I take away as ideas worth testing. From Hugo, the passage was when Hugo was breaking into a theater with his compatriot Isabelle. Since young Hugo was a mechanical wizard, it was a simple matter for him to pick the lock on a side door. Isabelle said, "We could get in trouble!" And Hugo looked at her and said, "I know. That's how you know it's an adventure!"
Nora and I have talked a lot about risk and certainty. Hugo may have some wisdom for us both.