Last night my dp friend Svetlana Cvetko (Inequality For All, Inside Job) and I met Zero Dark Thirty screenwriter-producer Mark Boal at Giorgio Baldi (114 West Channel Road, Santa Monica). No interview, no recording anything — just a friendly candlelight sit-down. I had the most delicious dover sole of my life. The lemon and wine sauce did the trick. An expensive dish ($40), but I’ll never forget it. Just like I’ve never forgotten a slice of chocolate-chip cheesecake I had about 26 years ago in the medieval village of Rothenburg, Germany.

Boal told me a story about meeting an Al Qeada admirer when he was camping outdoors in Jordan’s Wadi Rum and staring at the glistening night sky. The lesson of the story is that if you talk straight to a stranger and politely refuse to back down when he implies that perhaps you should fear him and defer to his views, you’ll not only be okay but you and he might even become pals. I decided to visit Wadi Rum and do the whole camping-and-riding-camels thing when I finally visit there. I’ve never been east of Crotia or west of Vietnam.

In any event, we were sitting in the front area and before Boal arrived I noticed Sean Penn as he walked in and sat down at a rear table. When I hit the head about 45 minutes later I saw that Penn was sitting with a white-haired older guy. Didn’t recognize him. Hazy features. Penn’s agent or manager, I figured. Or some non-pro Malibu friend. Anyway they got up and left a while later and as he walked out the older guy was out of the shadows and bathed in amber light, and I said to Mark and Svetlana, “Holy shit, it’s Clint.” I told myself it was the subdued lighting as I never miss a famous face, but the fact is that the director of Mystic River doesn’t look as distinct or stand as tall as he used to. At age 82, who does? But he looks good. I hope he’s forgotten about A Star Is Born.