Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Snow is Coming Down / On Our New England Town.

And it's been falling all day long . . . or at least it was falling all Sunday night and much of Monday morning. All told we got whacked with about a foot of snow, as reported here in the local paper. Shoveling the dreaded white stuff out of my parents' driveway wasn't fun, and the old saw maintaining that manual labor builds character offers me little consolation. If my aching back and sore limbs are any indication, I'm not cut out for the life of an outdoorsman.

Braving adverse weather conditions, we had dinner Sunday night at the Frigate Steakhouse, a local surf 'n turf joint of a certain age. The blinding snow and whipping winds were enough to scare off other potential diners, so we had the place to ourselves - we also closed it down, as they shut out the lights as soon as we left, even though fidelity to the posted hours would've kept the place open for another thirty minutes. The food was good, and the atmosphere exactly as it had been the last time I visited - which was probably at least seven years ago. Indeed, the atmosphere of the Frigate has probably been the same since before I was born; my brother Ken suggested that the place "feels like 1974," and I bet he's right. In this respect, the Frigate is something like another SouthCoast period piece, Thad's, which my family frequented for years before it closed in early 2003. Part of the fun of dining at Thad's was the soundtrack of cheesy Muzak renditions of easy-listening retro tunes like "Moon River." The music combined with the posh late-'60's decor and heavily-accented hostesses and waiters made a trip to Thad's feel vaguely like a visit to the set of The Lawrence Welk Show. The Frigate isn't nearly in the same league as Thad's, but the place nonetheless retains a similarly timeless atmosphere. The Muzak they played there Sunday night included a tune that my parents, my sister and I all recognized but couldn't quite identify. To us, this unnerving yet undeniably catchy song sounded like the theme of a '70's sitcom we simply couldn't recall the title of. Further research at home produced no leads, until Ken came up with the answer. What we mistook for TV music was actually "Feels So Good" by Chuck Mangione - a song I couldn't help but recognize even though I'd never actually choose to listen to it. My guess is you'd recognize it too if you heard it, though you'll have to find and download it yourself if you want to test that hypothesis. "Feels So Good" is the kind of song you may want to dislike for its schmaltziness but can't quite bring yourself to hate - perhaps because with its self-conscious pep it really does feel so good in spite of itself. With that, we conclude another foray into Novitiate Notes' pop culture apostolate.

Rounding out this post, I should mention that I saw The Life Aquatic on Christmas night with my sister Elizabeth and with John DiSalvo, who is surely pleased to be mentioned here. I kinda agree with Jonathan and with other reviewers who've commented on the film's retread feel. There were some obvious script problems, particularly in the somewhat disjointed handling of the relationship between Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) and Ned Plimpton (Owen Wilson). The semi-romance between Wilson's character and Jane Winslett-Richardson (Cate Blanchett) was also very poorly dealt with. For that matter, it also struck me that Seymour Cassel's considerable talents were wasted in what was essentially a cameo. Nonetheless, I found much to enjoy in The Life Aquatic - mostly great performances, awesome production design and music (it was fun hearing Brazilian star Seu Jorge belt out David Bowie tunes in Portuguese). I'm also glad they found a part for a three-legged dog, as I imagine animals in that situation have a hard time getting work. The Life Aquatic may not be Wes Anderson's masterpiece, but it was still well worth seeing. AMDG.


At December 29, 2004 11:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm famous! actually, though, a friend wanted to see it, so i went to the life aquatic again last night; i appreciated it much more the second time through (more time to pay attention to detail, undoubtedly anderson's strong suit) good to see you again and take care!

At January 24, 2005 2:07 PM, Blogger LilBucner said...

joe, how does Frigate stack up to Orleans House in Arlington?


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