The Trip to Italy (2014)

I recently had the good fortune of attending a CMYE (community manager Yelp event) where I was able to snag a pizza from &pizza while watching a screening of The Trip to Italy, starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, at the Landmark E Street Cinema. (One of my favorite spots in all of DC, seriously.)

The Trip to Italy

The Trip to Italy was originally broadcast as a 6-episode television series on BBC Two, as a sequel to The Trip, which took place in England (and is available now on Netflix!). I believe both TV series/films had similar premises: Coogan and Brydon play slightly-fictionalized versions of themselves and play off each other as they take a foodie road trip.

What you need to know about The Trip to Italy is there is no point. Once you have accepted this, the movie is pretty enjoyable. It’s mostly improvised by brilliant comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. I’m personally more familiar with Coogan — who I haven’t seen without his longer hair before!

Steve Coogan, circa 2012 (Photo: The Telegraph)

Here are a few things you can expect when you sit down to watch The Trip to Italy:

  • PLENTIFUL. IMPRESSIONS. Coogan and Brydon are talented impressionists. Some of the impressions you’ll hear include:
    • Michael Caine
    • Christian Bale
    • Tom Hardy
    • Al Pacino
    • Robert Deniro
    • Marlon Brando
  • References to The Dark Knight Rises

    • References to how impossible it was to understand Bane in The Dark Knight Rises
  • References to The Godfather and The Godfather II
    • References to how The Godfather II is maybe the only time a sequel was as good as/better than the original

      (This clip wasn’t shown in its entirety in the edited-down film.)
  • Alanis Morrisette songs
  • Following along the poet, Lord Byron, and his time in Italy
  • Nods to several old Hollywood films that were filmed in Italy
  • Gorgeous Italian scenery porn
  • Gorgeous Italian food porn
  • British humor
  • Every so subtly, two aging actors acknowledging their changing place in the world and mortality

I really recommend watching this for just a little aimless stroll of a comedy. If it gets released on Netflix, as The Trip has been, I really really encourage checking it out.

Internet Slowdown Day – 10 Sept 2014 I wanted to keep my distance from net neutrality because I didn’t think it would truly be compromised. I signed a petition during the SOPA/PIPA protests and didn’t think too much of it. We are now about to see the end of net neutrality. It’s easy to take action and if we don’t, the […]

Alaska: The Last Frontier

Last time on “Starr blogging regularly and in time with actual current events in her life”, I had started telling you guys about my family trip to Alaska by telling you about the cruise ship where I spent most of the vacation.

Let me tell you about Alaska itself. In brief, I loved Alaska. It left a really deep impression on me that I’m going to attempt to summarize in a 3 key points.

1) There’s something incredibly patriotic about visiting Alaska, our last frontier. I felt more American coming home. Seeing the vast expanses of untouched land out there and thinking about the folks who came out here in search of a better life really helps you think about the history of the state and of our nation. This is the same pristine beauty that people beheld during the gold rush. Even though we think of the United States in terms of the cities, seeing Alaska makes me think of the scenic beauty in this country that many Americans will never see outside of a calendar or screensaver. I was seeing a side of America that seemed unmarred by modernity. I felt connected to the grandness that Americans before me had fallen in love with.

Driving down Seward Highway

Seeing bald eagles soaring everywhere definitely lends to the overall feeling of AMERICA.

2) Another thing that lent itself to my increased feelings of American identity was how much respect there was for the First Nations people. Each state has its own culture, and the culture of Alaska seems very much connected to the cultures of its First Nations people. I learned as much about the Tlingit during this trip as I did about the Lenni Lenape (the First Nations people of New Jersey that we learned about in the fourth grade). I saw more Native American art on this trip than I have maybe ever seen, and a great deal of it wasn’t in a museum. From the totem pole outside the governor’s mansion to the sculptures in the airport, it was clear to me that the First Nations people of the region are held in reverence, and I can only hope that the rest of the country can follow suit.

The Tlingit story of the Eagle and the Raven features very prominently in Alaskan decoration
Totems at the Totem Heritage Center in Ketchikan, Alaska. These were over 10 feet tall and you can see the years that have tolled on them
Decoration on the glass roof of a bus stop

3) A very uniquely Alaska point in American history is its rich gold rush history. Most towns/”cities” in Alaska started out as prospecting towns, so I learned an immense amount about the incredible pasts of these towns. The preparation that went into going out to Alaska was massive. To leave home and go thousands of miles to live in this cold frontier, you had to bring literally one year’s supply of food with you. Think about people making multiple trips over mountains and ice fields with pounds and pounds of cans and sacks so that they could feed themselves and their family for possibly an entire year. One big takeaway is that where there is gold, you will find so many saloons and brothels, oftentimes more than there were prospectors!

Creek Strete in Ketchikan, the most picturesque Red Light District I saw on this trip.
One of the brothels on Creek Street
Dolly’s House: where both men and salmon swim upstream to spawn

Other fun tidbits from my trip:

  • I went ziplining for the first time in my life with my brother — on North America’s fastest, longest, and highest zip-line. It was GREAT.

    A rather unattractive photo of me coming back to the ground
  • The state flower of Alaska is the forget-me-not. I’ve always liked forget-me-nots but I think I came home loving them.
  • I wasn’t able to see any live salmon but Alaskan salmon is a big deal and you likely already know that
  • No aurora activity while we were there, but remember the great thing about summers farther north in latitude: crazy early sunrise, crazy late sunset.
    This photo was taken our first evening in Alaska at dinner. It was 10 PM.

    Sunrise: 4:33 AM Sunset: 11:22 PM
  • I tried reindeer meat via reindeer sausage included in some dishes. I don’t really eat non-Chinese sausage but it was pretty good!

    Seafood étoufée from Simon & Seafort's in Juneau, Alaska, featuring some chunks of REINDEER SAUSAGE
    Seafood étoufée from Simon & Seafort’s in Juneau, Alaska, featuring some REINDEER SAUSAGE

FUN BONUS: Finding my name in random places!

One of the Tlingit totem poles was carved for the STARR family
Walter A. STARR, U of Cali graduate who went out to Alaska in search of gold
Art by Grace Freeman

All in all, I had a great time in Alaska and was so rejuvenated by the time we made it to Vancouver for the last leg of our trip. Here are just a few random fun photos from our trip:

A snowplow for the old railroads
A whale skull hanging among antlers

Hole in tree

Broadway… in the “city” of Skagway
I passed this 10 times and then on the 11th… a little giggle.
The namesake of the Star House

Favorite Childhood Movies (part 1)

In honor of the 20th anniversary of The Little Rascals and the cast coming together to recreate the movie poster, I thought I’d reminisce a bit and think about some of my favorite childhood movies. These are the ones that I watched really often, either in school or at home. (Also, I’m not including any Disney animated features here because well, that list would get really long.)

It breaks my heart a little bit when people don’t get that I’m making references to (memorable scenes that I often quote included!):

  • The Little Rascals

    When people don’t understand why I squeak through this song, I am almost as embarrassed for them as for myself.
  • The Sandlot

    A friend once thought I was having a stroke because I was saying “for-ev-er” so weird. I wept for him on the inside.
  • Annie (1999 version)

    Starring a young Lalaine, Sarah Hyland, and Victor Garber, who I would always refer to as “Daddy Warbucks” no matter how many other roles I saw him in.
  • The Brave Little Toaster (technically distributed by Disney)

    This movie was kind of scary, I had a hard time finding non-nightmare-inducing clips!
  • The Land Before Time + sequels

    I think about “Big Water” really often… and tree stars.
  • Older Scooby Doo films

    I had a teacher who loooooved Scooby Doo and rewarded the class if we behaved by showing Scooby Doo movies. Every single one had this old theme song.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

    The only film to have Disney characters side-by-side with Looney Toons. This was a great one, rest in peace Bob Haskins.
  • Jumanji

    My brother was TERRIFIED of the poacher in this movie but I watched it multiple times at home anyway. Rest in peace Robin Williams.
  • The Parent Trap

    My friend who teaches fencing says that a lot of kids used to cite this movie as the reason they started fencing. Now they’re getting too young for that. Rest in peace Natasha Richardson.
  • Babe

    Baa ram ewe! I didn’t go vegetarian for a long time after watching this, but I definitely thought about Babe when I did.

That’s a good list for now. I need some time to reminisce and be nostalgic for a little bit.

Are these movies as important to you as they are to me?
What are some other key movies from your childhood that you still quote today?