We Have Both Kinds-- Country AND Western
"The Swaze" is kind of an ironic hipster nick-name for Patric Swayze, one which, I have it on pretty good authority, he relished. When he finally succumbed to cancer earlier this year, having worked right up to the point where it was fuctionally impossible for him to continue working, the internet was full of earnest lamentations by adorably earnest hipsters (and, in some cases, hipster douchbags) mourning his passing. The man is well and truly missed.
The sandwich here is a culmination of several influences, not to say inspirations, not the least of which is the experience of having ordered a hot ham and cheese sandwich from a fast-food chain and realizing, in consumption, "Hey, this doesn't suck!" (And yeah: rare experience.) The least of which is watching Tony Bourdain eat some gaudy monstrosity down in Central America-- least because, first of all, the sandwich he was eating was mortadella, and, simply put, ham is not mortadella, and secondly, in the words of Mr. William H. Joel, there's a new band in town, but you can't get the sound from a story in a magazine.
The beers were a flukey choice at best, the second to last Tsing in a six pack and the remains of a Saranac Trail Mix. They didn't go, they didn't not go . . . Or, well, I guess they went along with the sadnwich and tots in their own unique ways. Not that it matters: that is a pile of ham right there.
Which brings us to this, which is most definitely NOT the movie of the day. I tuned in to this earlier, after taking the dog for a semi-abortive walk around the block (hey-- it's hot out there, and she's old). I remembered watching it and loathing it years ago on HBO, on the grounds that the critics had absolutely brutalized it but the public absolutely lapped it up, about which more later. This time there was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ELSE ON (that I felt like watching). So, out of a perverse curiosity, related to the perverse fascination which lead to my perverse first viewing, I watched it.
It's really very bad.
The production values are patchy, and the plot is really bullshit, the issues are all cowbells-- MIA's who are really POW's! Our useless government! Those inscrutible Asians! Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is really alot like putting on a pantomime play!-- and, God bless 'em, only about three of the actors in the whole ensemble were able to ladel a decent performance out of the swirling, steamy soup.
Swayze isn't one of them.
The first time I watched I spent the whole time going "This is pretty bad . . . Hey! There's Gene Hackman! This is really very bad . . . Hey! There's Robert Stack!" (Who blusters with the best of them.) "This is actually horrible, borderline immoral . . . Hey! Who's that guy?" (Fred Ward, who even made the hammy, shadow-infested PTSD sequences semi-cogent.) This time I spent the majority of my attention reading artcles on the web, but I did manage to zero in on Swayze's performance. He was playing a guy who was going in despite his own self doubts and insecurities, but it came off as an actor who wasn't sure when to lean against the tree or chew its bark. It wasn't his fault, I don't think: it was a valid choice for the character, which could have been played way more straight up and macho, but the other guys hamming it up macho made it come off as just weak.
In 1983 there were tons of American who were desperate for reasons that our involvement in Vietnam was not futile and wrong, and believing that there were prisoner who had been deliberately listed as missing in action, either by the enemy or by our own government, so that they could be kept in prison and tortured beyond human understanding seemed like a good enough way to go about things. Which is a crying ass shame, because it's a lie, and an ugly, immoral motivation.
But I can recommend the sandwich.
Oh, and as to the name: part of the reason Swayze was, and remains, so vastly, widely loved, is that yeah, he gave us ham, but he also gave us cheese. When he was doing a role that ought to have a wink behind it, he held the wink in reserve, and then he stepped next door and did To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar. And was the baddest son of a bitch in drag you ever saw.