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Eagle kills, windmills and cinematic thrills

Posted by on February 10, 2008

On Saturday, some of us folks gathered for a day-long celebration of Michele being born.

We began with a couple of stops at Pleasanton wineries, sometimes called “the poor man’s Napa,” or “the poor man’s poor man’s Bordeaux.” The first winery looked as I expect a winery to look: big tasting room outfitted with plenty of logo-stamped gift products and many local yuppies swilling the home-grown brew. But the second winery was awesome. Reached by a long dirt road, you drive past several rows of rusted, abandoned farm equipment covered in wicked looking spikes. We also saw a few items of lawn furniture, some of which had been thrown onto its side after an apparently violent struggle.

“What are the odds that these people are going to drug our wine, murder us and stuff our lifeless bodies into those barrels?” I asked. “One in three?”

As it turned out, we had nothing to fear from the winemakers, who were just “just folks” folks. I peeked my head into the small tasting shack, then wandered back out with Erica and Sophia to admire the sheep grazing in a nearby field. One of the winemakers came running out after us and took my arm. “You folks aren’t leaving, are you?” she asked, concerned. “You just got here!”

“We were just trying to see if you have baby sheep out here,” I said.

“Oh, sure, we have some lambs,” she said. “Of course, we lost three lambs a little bit back. Not sure what carried them off. We think it might have been a giant eagle.”

I don’t know if she could have said anything more calculated to bring the three of us back into the tasting shack, safe under a roof.

After a picnic lunch spent, on my part, anxiously scanning the sky, we headed over to Castro Valley for some mini-golf. This was only my second time playing mini-golf, but I feel confident in saying that I love it. I could play it every day.

After the mini-golf fun was had, we returned to the city for a remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark made by three kids in their backyard. For some reason I was expecting this to be Hollywood-quality video footage, but…it was not. Most of the lines were impossible to understand, and it was often hard to see what was going on.

What they did do well was three years of pre-production, which might be an important step for my own friends to consider the next time we make a film. Like foreplay, our pre-production doesn’t have to last three years, but maybe it should last more than three minutes. These guys did a phenomenal job finding locations for their shot-by-shot remake, and demonstrated a fine commitment to props, costumes and setting things on fire. In short, it was an outstanding film — just not very enjoyable to watch.

Our day of birthday fun, however, was very enjoyable to watch. Feel free to watch it yourself right here.

Here, Gene and I are filled with loves and friendships towards Michele.

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