I am a coffee addict. This dates back to the time I used to do the morning show on TNL Radio and had to wake up at obscenely uncivilised hours, get dressed, drive to the station and remain coherent on air for three hours, at a time when most people were picking the sleep from their eyes and wondering whether to have another fifteen minutes snooze or not.
To avoid babbling like a deranged lunatic, I found that the one thing that would give me a short, sharp shock was coffee. (Of course, my detractors would argue that the coffee made not an iota of difference and that I babbled like a lobotomized gibbon anyway. But that's another column altogether). Anyway, I soon realised that I needed coffee and needed large quantities of it. But I also realised how difficult it was to get good coffee , since the way to make it in Sri Lanka is to add enough milk powder to make it go from brown to albino, and land enough sugar to feed a small Ethiopian village for four days. It's not so much coffee , as coffee-esque, if you know what I mean. And London is no different, with the grey sludge coming out of the machines and cafes here execrable to say the least, toxic to say the most. Here the common routine is to splash scalding water on a pile of dehydrated powder of the kind that NASA pioneered back in the era of the Apollo landings. What you get is not so much a beverage as a sediment.
So it was with great pleasure that I discovered the chain of Seattle Coffee Houses which are all the rage in London. Seattle, on the North-West Coast of America , up near the border with Canada is famous for many things - amongst them inventing the musical form known as grunge which spawned bands like Nirvana , Soundgarden and Pearl Jam . It is also the headquarters of one Mr. William Gates Esquire and his world conquering Microsoft.
But while the two are worlds apart, I bet the one thing they have in common is a love of good coffee. The story begins in the late 80's when local coffee entrepreneurs got creative with the beverage offering it frothed, foamed, flavoured and iced - basically, any way you wanted it. Seattle's rainy weather may have something to do with this obsession with finding the perfect antidote to a gloomy day.
It's now known as the Espresso Capital of America and the coffee revolution that started there has spread around the world. 'Bittersweet yet rich and comforting, complex yet satisfyingly bright , uplifting, rich, earthy with subtle depth, dynamic, distinctive yet easygoing ...a companion, a joyous meditation'. No , not a theatre review, but a large quote emblazoned on the walls of one of the Seattle Coffee House branches. These are not fast-moving places - they are places where you can hang up your coat, take a seat and have a brief respite from the rigours of the retrace. An oasis of dark orange sofas, Mark Rothko-like canvases of reds and blues, newspapers, sacks of coffee beans from Kenya and Papua New Guinea piled in an untidy heap. The names of the different coffee blends roll beautifully off the tongue .....Arabian Mocha Java Blend, Colombia Armenia, Sumatra Lintong, Guatamala Antigua, Mount Rainier Blend. And you have to learn the lingo of coffee, the jargon that sets you apart as a connoisseur as opposed to a dabbling amateur. In the coffee gourmet world, cups are divided into short (8 oz) , tall (12 ox) and grande (16 oz) . You can have a single, double or triple when it comes to espresso, referring to the number of shots poured into each cup. If you want it 'dry', that's extra foam; 'wet' means you want extra steamed milk. 'No fun' means you want decaffeinated coffee while 'skinny' means you want fat free skimmed milk.
'Harmless' means you want it 'skinny' and 'no-fun' which kind of misses the point really. 'Wild' means you want it with whipped cream and 'with wings' means you want it to take away. I walked in one rainy day in London ,and ordered a short hazelnut latte from the barista, the coffee bartender on duty. 'One short hazelnut latte' he yelled to the coffee maker , and then turned back to me 'With wings ?' he asked. I looked at the grey skies outside , and the sleeting rain , and then at the cozy couch and the stack of newspapers. 'Nah' I said, shrugging off my coat. 'I need a break.'
My darling daughter
I am glad you agree with me but you question as to whether what I wrote was practical. It made me think. Daughter, unless we seek an ideal, the reality will make us justify any situation. To me the ideal would be to make those around me happy. To do that I will have to accept their limitations and give them the support of my love.
Today, the reality makes so many demands, the word love itself is used so loosely, we use it to describe what we feel, whatever the object be. I am amused when I hear people say "we love this food or that, we love a film, or a book, a show on TV, some outlandish hairstyle or a dress" and I wonder what is this love they speak off? What does love really mean in a world that seems to equate a passing fancy, to that of a concept of care and concern, of tenderness and need?
Love to my mind daughter is the feeling within me, that is willing to sacrifice for the joy of another, it is built on commitment. Understanding, acceptance and forgiveness are interwoven into the concept of love. 'It is accepting the good times and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weakness.
You know daugher it is so easy today to wrap the concept of love in material things, presents, parties, dances, all the good things that seem to say "I love you." and yet unless each one is willing to gift themselves to the other, sacrifice their own longings to bring happiness to the other no material gift can ever express love.
As Valentine day comes and greeting cards scream "I love you" how little those words mean, unless they are converted to say "I care for your happiness, it means more to me than mine." Daughter, as you grow older and reach out to others I hope the love I dream of, will be yours, for if you have love in your life, it can make up for a great many things you lack. If you don't have it no matter what else is there, it is not enough". May the love you receive one day, bring joy to your life.
Thirty years ago, cartoon hero George Of The Jungle swung to fame on American TV. And now the chimp friendly chump is back - as the star of Disney's big Christmas flick. Here's how the film makers created a very 90s king of the jungle!.
Take An Idea
In 1967, wacky animated TV show George Of The Jungle took a comic look at the Tarzan story. And drummed home by an infuriatingly catchy theme song, the show lodged itself in the brains of thousands of the cartoon fans of the time..
Find The Right Crew..
Fans such as movie producer Jordan Kerner, who's worked on such hits as The Mighty Ducks and The Three Musketeers.I remember watching the cartoon and, of course, singing the theme song over and over, driving everyone crazy! It was sharp yet silly, and had lots of action. When I was asked to get involved in this film version I knew it was a great opportunity.
Search For Your Star
Everyone involved agreed there was only one choice for the role of George Brendan Fraser! 'Brendan was perfect for the role', says producer Kerner. 'He's an incredible physical comedian. And he can perfectly project that George is very smart - in spite of crashing in to trees - and no matter what he does, always comes out on the right side.'
Scout For Locations
Although most of the movie was shot on a set in California, some scenes were filmed on location. San Francisco appears in the city sequences, including the thrilling rescue sequence on the Golden Gate bridge. And the real living, breathing jungle landscapes were supplied by Hawaii's stunning countryside.
Get Your Set
The set was built just outside Los Angles in two airplane hangars measuring 225x25m. So in most of the jungle shots you see, every leaf twig and vine has been painstakingly arranged or built by human hands.
The animal roles in the movie were filled by a mixture of human actors in animal suits and real live critters. Recognize any furry faces? Capuchin monkey Binks, who plays George's little monkey mate, also starred as Jim Carry's bosom buddy in Ace Venture pet Detective. And if you think you've heard Ape's voice before, that's because it was supplied by Brit comedy legend John Cleese!.
When the wildlife needed a little extra help, a team of animatronics experts were on hand from Jim Henson's Creature Shop, the folks who gave us The Muppets. They created everything from a man-sized gorilla suit with remote controlled facial features, to an automated lion's head, fearsome fangs and all!.
If Brendan Fraser's face is new to you - get used to it! George has made him a megastar in the USA, and he's got a handful more new movies on the way. Take it away Brendan!
Do you remember the original George Cartoons?
I remembered a little muscular man who swung on vines and who knew a talking ape. And of course I remembered he sings 'George, George, George of the jungle - Watch out for that tree!'
So how was it to play a cartoon?
Great! I loved all the unusual stuff - the stunts, the locations, the animals. I loved all the clowning. And the clumsiness came naturally!.
Are you clumsy then?
I went through a massive growth spurt when I was 15 - I'm 1.88m tall now - and there wasn't a door frame my head didn't hit!.
Did you have to get very fit for the part?
I worked out at the gym for six months before we started shooting. And the muscle I put on was like a suit of body armour, which was good because I got really beaten up! I bust a toe, I hurt my neck... At the end of everyday everyone else cracked open a drink, I cracked open the first aid kit!
Did you do any of the stunts?
I was really keen and I made an effort to prove myself early on. Before I knew it, there I was, hanging 40m up in the air on a wire. So that look of complete terror I have is 100% genuine!
What was your fave stunt?
The rescue scene on the bridge. Stunt man Joey Pristine played George for that scene thankfully! That shot took three days, and the helicopters you see weren't ordered by us. They were real news teams who came to check out what was happening!
And what was it like Co-starring with animals?
I was in awe - Tai the elephant has made more films than me! And Binks the monkey would act until the scene went the way he wanted. If I made a mistake, he'd pull my hair or put his tongue in my ear - he's feisty, man!
Continue to Mirror Magazine page 2 - * DIANA The crash investigator and the mystery driver
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