Ventura
Pinot Noir
Chili, Lontue Valley
(2008)

Ventura

Normally I avoid organic wines because when it comes to wine, it’s not just the thought that matters. This organic pinot noir, however, is one to savor. It’s fruit forward, with hints of wild raspberry that quickly melt into dark chocolate. The aftertaste is long but gentle: a little chewy and earthy. You can purchase this wine for $11.99 (on sale) at The Nature Stop on Grant Street in SF. This wine pairs extremely well with a movie, such as The Wrestler, or a historical fiction novel that reinterprets the mass confusion at the Battle of Gettysburg.

The Wrestler directed by Darren Aronofsky (2008)

The casting directors of this soul-stirring drama deserve many accolades, indeed; Suzanne Smith and Mary Vernieu’s casting decisions added even more depth to the movie’s effective and focal parallel between the wrestler and the stripper. Mickey Rourke, a steamy heart-throb of the 80’s and early 90’s, has returned to the scene radically altered from reconstructive surgery resulting from his boxing career in the 90’s. Twenty-five years ago, I’m sure he had his pick between many lovely ladies-in-waiting, but now he seems to find solace from his chihuahuas, one of whom is named Jaws (an examplary name for that particulary fiesty breed). So, it is no surprise that Rourke’s portrayal as former headlining professional wrestler, Randy the Ram, whose body and therefore life is breaking down, is stunningly accurate and heartbreakingly realistic. Additionally, Marisa Tomei’s depiction of the aging stripper is flawless. Tomei, still gorgeous, is an older actress who can steam-up the screen or sober her audience with a raw and candid performance such as this one. Her versatility as an actress compliments her role as Cassidy: the empathetic, single mother who strips for a living. Unlike Randy the Ram, she’s completely able to separate her stripper persona from her real life outside of the club. This is why the friendship and parallel between Randy and Cassidy is so integral to movie’s purpose: the relationship amplifies Randy’s tragic inability to divorce his wrestling career with his life. And, without giving too much away, that is where the ultimate tragedy lies.

Amazon: The Wrestler

 The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara (1974)

*won the Pulitzer!

To be completely honest, I’m not into war novels. Battle strategies and other such war tactics don’t intrigue me. For years my father has been telling me to read The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, and I finally did and loved it. This novel follows in the footsteps of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood; Capote, the inventor of the literary genre called literary non-fiction, expertly captured the heinous 1950 murder of the Clutter Family by writing not only of the factual events, but the inner thoughts of the main characters. Likewise, Shaara creates and showcases the inner dialogues of the main guys (i.e., Lee, Longstreet, Chamberlain, Armistead) at the Battle of Gettysburg. Not only does this humanize these historical figures, it illuminates the actual confusion at the battlefield and uncertainty about what the Civil War was about. These men were fighting against former friends and allies; some of the Rebels weren’t fighting for slavery but for their states and intangible “rights.”

I think that at times, we tend to think of these men as ideas or merely as two-dimensional figures. This novel, however, fleshes out all these wonderfully brilliant and loyal men and offers their morals, perplexities, and souls for the audience to savor, examine, and respect.

 Overall this book is paced perfectly, and it is accessible for someone who doesn’t know much about the Civil War.

Amazon: The Killer Angels

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