Everything is a hybrid these days – from the half-and-half in one’s coffee to the electric cars zipping down the diamond lane. Screenwriters have long-nurtured hybrid consciousness, hence ye olde “cross pitch” wherein the tone of a prospective project is described as being “this meets that.” The results, to continue the metaphor, are often mixed, but the practice makes for quite a parlor game. The trick is to lay the title on your cinephile drinking buddies and have them decipher its cinematic genealogy. A couple of my favorites: “I Love the Smell of Napa in the Morning” (“Sideways” meets “Apocalypse Now”) or “My Life as a Droog” (“A Clockwork Orange” meets “My Life as a Dog”).
“1977 Redux,” a piece I wrote for the inaugural issue of F•L Magazine (as editor, I can grant myself such license), was essentially two of my favorite films, “Annie Hall” and “Star Wars” fused into a multi-genre satire – it even had haiku, if I remember. The idea was one I had first explored in a column penned for the Lumaville Daily Echo about my “perfect woman” (this is before The Contessa arrived to realign my romantic paradigm). After some intense soul-searching, I realized that my romantic preoccupations could be traced to when I was five years old, back in 1977, the year both George Lucas and Woody Allen’s films were released. That’s right, I was desperately seeking a hybrid of Annie Hall and Princess Leia. Mercifully, I never met her. The side-buns, vest and tie combination might have been a little much, now that I think about it.
So far as I’m concerned, the Contessa is Fellini’s “8 ½” meets anything starring Sophia Loren, though she would demurely deny such a comparison. Her husband, according my FilmArt3 collaborator Raymond Scott Daigle, is Warren Beatty meets “Gong Show Host” Chuck Barris, which I suppose is a compliment though I look nothing like either (Daigle is the average of the young Orson Welles and “Clerks” auteur Kevin Smith). I’d like to think that I was Lord Byron meets Peter Sellers, John Lennon and actor Alfred Molina, but I’m really just Tiny Tim meets Alfred Jarry, the French surrealist playwright and inventor of satirical pseudo-science pataphysics (as in “Joan was quizzical, studied pataphysical science in the home” per the Beatles’ “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”). Look them up – the likeness on both counts is creepy enough to have caused me a minor identity crisis. I might have to cut my hair.
I’ve heard Sonoma is often considered Tuscany meets Mayberry, which is apt I suppose, the way that Napa is “Falcon Crest” meets “The Corporation.” However, I would submit that Sonoma also has a bit of Robert Altman’s “MASH” inasmuch as, at least in my experience, there’s a quiet subversive streak swaddled in a sort of theater of the absurd. Back when music columnist pal J.M. Berry (Jim Morrison meets Sir John Falstaff) and I shared an office, we used to joke about installing a wet bar a la Trapper John and Hawkeye Pierce’s “swamp.” Needless to say, our summer-school pipedream was handily kyboshed when fate intervened and I ended up in Building 3, my corner of which I’ve styled as SoHo art gallery meets studio bungalow. The “Mash” vibe persists, but now there’s a kind of “Casablanca” meets “All the President’s Men” aspect as well. I attribute this to the surfeit of white linen suits now prevalent in the newsroom. The trend rests on the padded shoulders of Flash Lely (Peter Parker meets David Bowie, circa “Thin White Duke” period). Hopefully, this trend will ebb before someone orders a piano and we defiantly sing “La Marseillaise.”