“Call Me Hitch. Hold the Cock.”

I went to a Vanity Fair screening of HITCHCOCK a few nights ago. I sat in the darkened theater and watched Sir Anthony Hopkins transform himself into Hitch.

“You can call me Hitch, hold the Cock!”

I looked around the theater and wondered if I was perhaps the only person there who had actually met the man.

I was young, and he was impressive. So was Hopkins in this film.

Dad and Hitch

The film is a love story between Hitchcock and his wife Alma set during the making of PSYCHO. I was surprised by this and by how much a part of Hitchcock’s genius was shared by his strong and capable Alma. I guess the tag line for the film should have given me a clue: “Behind every PSYCHO is a great woman!”

And Helen Mirren as Alma was brilliantly played. She took my breath away.

I loved the film, but probably for more personal reasons than the typical audience member. In some ways, I watched my young life play out.

So much of the film resonated with me and my life– with my mother and father mortgaging the houses to make films, my Dad feeling inadequate in the eyes of the entertainment industry, his burning desire to find the next project, his pranks, his fears the night before production begins, his nightmares, and the most of all, his need to find a way to sell a film when the studios refuse to put their money behind it!

And then there were the little things I loved about the film–the sardonic, mischievous quips, the house with the swimming pool, the driver, Chasen’s restaurant, Paramount Studios, the cigars, the coastline, the publicity stunt.

Let me digress and talk about the publicity stunt for a moment. I know my Dad respected Hitchcock for his brilliant direction. I also think my Dad emulated Hitchcock to some degree. And I am sure you are aware that Dad is considered the poor man’s Alfred Hitchcock. But Hitchcock stole a sheet from Dad’s playbook when he went out to sell PSYCHO and put together a marketing manual. Come on!  I cringed in my seat. At least give a nod to Dad. Hitchcock’s publicity stunt was all William Castle!

Hitchcock was a wonderful director, and I enjoyed the scenes where I got a glimpse into his directorial style. I just wish there had been more of these special moments. I thought the director, Sasha Gervasi, found a wonderful way into the story– the complicated, repressed, but remarkable relationship between Hitch and Alma.

I walked away from HITCHCOCK thinking my dad’s life would make a much more interesting film….but then I am biased.

Dad promoting one of his films.

Hitchcock promoting PSYCHO.

Fifty Shades of Orange

Patricia Blanc was out of her comfort zone. Now this is indeed a first. And it happened when she traveled to India–Agra and Rajashtan (Northwest India).

She captured her experiences in photographs. Fifty Shades of Orange indeed.

Patricia was struck by the contrasts. Vivid colors, abject poverty, misery and beauty in the faces of those around her and at the same time a stunning spirituality.

 

Of course, once again, here in India, Patricia ate the street food and did not get sick.

Eye Therapy at Ram’s Gate Winery

It always amazes me that if I hop in my car and drive thirty-five minutes from my home in Marin County I can be in the country. And it’s such lovely country. Wine Country. Indeed it is “Eye Therapy.”  A mini-vacation for all my senses but initially my eyes soak in most of the glory.

When you enter Sonoma Valley, on the right hand side of the highway you pass the Ram’s Gate Winery “Gate.”

The winery opened about a year ago and I have passed it many times and hadn’t really noticed the barn on the hill.

This time, with Juliette at my side, I decided to stop and discover.

Words usually come quite easy to me but I am having trouble finding the right words to describe this place.  I could say, “country charm meets urban chic,” or “contemporary interpretation of rustic charm permeates a sophisticated sense of time and place.”  But these phrases don’t really describe the experience we had at Ram’s Gate.

Yes, the architecture is lovely and really is a new interpretation of an old barn.  The furnishings are modern, bold, and comfortable.

The vistas in every direction are glorious and there is so much to look at, both inside and out, that we had trouble deciding in which direction to begin our little sojourn.

Tables were full with young, urbanites and the bar space was limited with crowds buzzing around this extraordinary place.

You see, at this winery they not only have wine tastings but also serve small plates all afternoon long.

It is really not lunch and it is not a wine tasting.  I am not sure what “it” is but “it” is lovely. We nibbled on cheeses and a charcuterie platter plus a lovely sea bass and risotto rounded into small balls.

I had a glass of  sparkling brut from the North Coast.

Juliette decided on a fleet of wines, a sampling of four of Ram’s Gates wines: a Chardonnay Carneros, a Chardonnay Ulises Valdez Diablo, a Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County, and a Pinot Noir Sngiacomo Roberts Road Vineyard.

It was difficult to take “it” all in. The charm, the wine, the food, the sunshine, the trendiness, the beauty, the choices.

It was a lovely way to spend the afternoon. Even with the buzz of trendy urbanites, the dazzling countryside eased us into peaceful bliss.  Or perhaps it was the wine.

We left happy. We left a little bit hungry. And we left knowing we would return to this little oasis so close to our homes.

Next time we might choose to try a picnic.  You see, Ram’s Gate will pack you a picnic and send you on your way to explore their estate, with wine, cheese, cured hams and salamis, and of course a blanket to sit on. It seems that the Ram’s Gate owners have thought of everything!

The mysterious “it” of Ram’s Gate Winery is of course sharing “it” with people you adore.