Friday, January 6, 2023

Blood Of The Vines - Retro Robotics

Pairing‌ ‌wine‌ ‌with‌ ‌movies!‌  ‌See‌ ‌the‌ ‌trailers‌ ‌and‌ ‌hear‌ ‌the‌ ‌fascinating‌ ‌commentary‌ ‌for‌ ‌these‌ ‌movies‌ ‌and‌ ‌many‌ ‌more‌ ‌at‌ ‌Trailers‌ ‌From‌ ‌Hell.‌ This week, we pair wines with cinematic robots of the past.

The Colossus of New York is a 1958 sci-fi which employs the old "transplanting a brain into another body" trope. Skipping the expected "I went in for a brain scan and they didn't find anything" joke, let's focus on where the brain comes from and where it goes. 

A brilliant young man is killed, which we would normally see as "end of movie." Ah, but this brilliant young man has a father who is a scientist, of the "mad" variety it would appear. He happens to have access to a cyborg - both man and machine. The term dresses it up a little - it's pretty much a monster - a lot more menacing than the cute little robot delivery cart that makes its way down La Brea and Beverly every day. I often wonder what it's bringing to someone, and who that someone is, and will they know when the robot gets there? Also, how many deliveries can the little guy make before he needs a battery charge? Yes, I have a lot of time on my hands. And I think someone else's brain may have been put into my head.

The colossus, to no one's surprise, turns a wee bit mean and starts killing people. This isn't what Doctor Dad had in mind when he saved his son's brain. A nasty bit of business at the UN building gives the colossus a sort of "Son of Sam" street cred among those New Yorkers who aren't too jaded to look up when a monster runs amok. 

Matt Brain is the winemaking genius behind Alpha Omega Wines in the Napa Valley. On the website, his single vineyard stuff simply says "click to inquire" about the price of a bottle. You know what they say about "if you have to ask," so try the Spring Mountain red for $165. Hope your wine-serving robot doesn't spill it.

From 1957, The Invisible Boy features Robby the Robot in his second big-screen appearance. He debuted in Forbidden Planet, which was set in the 23rd century. In this script, he plays the same character, who turns up back in 1957 through the magic of time travel. To say he plays the same character is charitable. He's a robot. That's pretty much his reach.

By the way, this Invisible Boy is definitely not the 2014 Italian film of the same name. That's a fantasy about a boy with superpowers, and this is a fantasy about a boy who becomes invisible. I guess here in the 21st century, being invisible simply isn't a big enough grab.

Robot wine is more than a song by Spice - and if you can send me the lyrics to that ditty, I'll be grateful. Whatever language she is singing in, I don't know it. Robot wine is more than a self-propelled machine that harvests grapes, or a device that makes wine, or brings it to you. When Alexa grows wheels and can bring me a glass of wine, that's when I’ll stop complaining that all she ever does is tell me that the Amazon shipment has arrived.

Oh, by the way, the king of exotica music, Les Baxter, did the soundtrack. It's one of a hundred or so films that he scored.

Alexa may be the most ubiquitous robot-like device in the world, but if you ask her to find a winery, will she find one that bears her name? I asked her, and she came up with Alexana Winery of Oregon's Willamette Valley. Okay, close. The Dundee Hills locale gives up Pinot Noir and Chardonnay starting at 50 bucks. "Alexa, when will that arrive?" "Considering the lack of a holiday tip for your Amazon driver, Reply Hazy, Try Again."

Kronos is a 1957 sci-fi that has become a cult favorite for its ecological stance. The title character is a big robot sent from an alien world which has used up its own natural resources. Its job - suck the earth dry of its resources and bring it all home to daddy. I'm sure that there were plenty of people on that planet denying that it could ever happen. "What, ya think we're gonna run out of energy someday? Like it'll just stop coming out of the ground someday? Like… oh crap. It's gone. The lefties were right."

George O’Hanlon plays one of the scientists in Kronos, and he would later be the voice of George Jetson on TV. His cartoon household would be kept in shape by another robot, Rosie, who was much nicer than Kronos, and much more servile.

Rare Robot Red Blend comes from Napa Valley, via Empathy wines, co-founded by master wine tout Gary Vaynerchuck. Its Bordeaux-style composition brings $60 a bottle, so suck it up before it's all gone.

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