Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sharknado - The Second One

That is the legitimate title of the film - hmmmmmmm it sort of implies there will be a third one.

At any rate Sharknado 2 lived up to all the prebroadcast hype.  In other words, it was bigger, grander, meaner, and funnier than its predecessor.

This time the sharks took major bites out of The Big Apple - Yep, NYC and its citizens became shark fodder.  Just as gory as the first one, this one was even more ironic and downright funny.

Everybody from Matt Lauer, Al Roker (the weatherman), Stephanie Abrams (from the Weather Channel) played themselves tracking the approaching "sharknado" as it neared NYC and then chomped it's way through the metropolis.

You'll see other famous faces in ironic roles.  My favorite was Judd Hirsch as a taxi driver who took the hero and his friends through the storm in Manhattan.  The irony of this is he used to be the star of a well-remembered sitcom called "Taxi".  It had a great cast which also included Danny DeVito and Christopher Lloyd who was memorable as the Reverend Jim.  In fact, it was due to Christopher Lloyd's improvisations that the show was known for having one of the longest sustained laughs in television history, which included all of the cast onstage.  Just remembering that scene makes me smile. But I digress.

Hirsch did a great job in the movie, but like many of the supporting cast, he was chomped eventually.

The movie started out with an homage to the film "Airplane" with the original actor who saved the plane in that one as the pilot when this plane was hit by the sharknado.  This movie's hero saved the day by landing the plane...the plot rushed on from there.

No one was safe from the sharks chomping their way - not at the NY Mets' stadium, not at the Statue of Liberty, not on the Staten Island Ferry, not in the subway, not in the skyscrapers, not in Times Square, and not on the street. Death came swift and sure, with gory, comic touches.

Sharknado 2, like the original is not for the super sensitive.  There is a lot of blood, viscera, but it is a farce for all of that.  There are genuinely funny moments, during which I hooted aloud while watching.  It is so ridiculous that it's hysterical.

Of course the mature adult in me with degrees both undergraduate and graduate, looks at the film as ridiculous.  After all, sharks can't live outside of the water.  They must constantly swim to push the water through their gills, otherwise they will die.  No way could they undulate along the ground, along a prone body, or through the air, chomping on anyone in their way and generally commiting mayhem.

The other thing was the variety of sharks depicted - everything from little nurse sharks to great whites.  In between there were tiger sharks, bullsharks, hammerhead sharks, and mako sharks to name the ones I recognized.

So yes, you have to suspend your disbelief and just live in the moment (or not if the sharks get you.)

This is like a zombie movie take-off.  You have to be prepared for all the blood, but if you can work your way through that aspect, it's entertaining farce.

I have to admit I kept rooting for the sharks in the case of the character played by Tara Reid.  She did an excellent job of returning in her role from the original.  She was just as obnoxious in this one.

During the broadcast, they posted tweets from audience members regarding the previous scenes.

Sharknado, the franchise, truly is a cultural phenomenon.

I'm sure both films will be repeated and replayed on SyFy - in fact they're repeating both back-to-back this Saturday evening.

Check it out.  That way you'll be ready for the third installment.

Steven Spielberg, look what you did!!!!

2014 ACRA Fiction Writers Conference

Here's a bit of information about the annual ACRA fiction writers conference.  It's a bargain and a chance to spend a weekend at the beach.

ACRA 2014 Fiction Writers Conference

“The best little conference in Northeast Florida

Sponsor:  Ancient City Romance Authors

Location:  Hampton Inn, St. Augustine Beach, FL

Fee: $69-ACRA Members / $79-Non-Members

Date: September 26 and 27, 2014

Featured Speakers – NYT Best-Selling Author, Heather Graham: Danielle Childers, Marketing Director, Belle Bridge Books

Conference Features: Friday and Saturday workshops; Friday night reception; booksigning; winery tour; luncheon; raffles for critiques by editors, agents, and published authors; raffle baskets; RWA 2014 workshops CD door prize; appointments; appointments with the marketing director; promo items.

For more information contact:

Or go to:



Sunday, July 27, 2014

It's official. I'm on Amazon!!!

My Regency novel, Touch the Sky, is now available in its Kindle edition on Amazon. The paper copy will be available in a few weeks. Included in the Kindle edition and the paper book is a bonus novella, Trust Your Heart, a story of the American branch of the St. John family.

No, I'm not going to review it.

But I'd appreciate reviews from anyone who buys it.

Thank you in advance.


Touch the Sky


The last person Celeste wanted to see stood before her.

Colonel Sheridan St. John smiled at her as if nothing had happened.  Rage overtook her as she noted he was still muscled and blond with those hypnotic dark blue eyes.  She could not forgive him for what he had done.  She could not forgive herself for loving him still.

If not for Sheridan, her father, Baron Hargreaves, would still be alive.

Now three years after the execution, St. John is tasked with informing Celeste that the Prince Regent affirmed Baron Hargreaves to be innocent of all charges, and declared Celeste and her siblings wards of Sheridan's father, the powerful Duke of Richmond.  Their titles are restored.  Reparations will be made to the Hargreaves family.

Sheridan seeks to win Celeste's love once more.  A seasoned veteran of war, he will conduct his campaign for Celeste's heart as he has no other.  It is the most important of his life, and will determine if they can Touch the Sky.

Trust Your Heart

Amelia St. John and Joshua Hawthorne fell in love at first sight. Separated by circumstance rather than ideology, they found themselves on opposite sides during the bitter Civil War.  Amelia, persuaded Joshua no longer loved her, married another man.

Each struggled with their own private way.  Joshua found with the Union Army, surviving its bloodiest conflicts, while Amelia fought her war deep in the Confederacy.  She battled starvation, sickness, and the death of her husband as she struggled to provide for her young son.

When the war ended, Joshua found Amelia, but the carefree girl Joshua remembered was now a disillusioned, wounded soul and a fiercely protective mother. The only male in her life she would ever allow herself to love again was her son.

Could Joshua win back Amelia's trust?

Love is always filled with possibilities.

Currently available in Kindle format.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

What to do when your blueberries explode

Somedays it just seems like you've got a target painted on your back.  At least it does in my life these days.  I like to think the cosmic energy is just weird...I mean look at all the things happening lately in the world.  It feels very active to me.  I don't always watch the news these days - just don't want to hear about all the troubles in the world.  I've got troubles of my own.

Today looked like it would be an easy day. We had no prospective buyers scheduled to come to the house.  All I had to do was to take Dad to lunch and then to the grocery store

It's supposed to be near 100 today with HIGH humidity.  My ac has been running nearly non-stop since about 11:00 this morning.  So I dressed appropriately - bermuda shorts and a cotton shirt.  No, I don't wear shorter shorts ever - even in the privacy of my own home.  I don't want to look at my thighs much less inflict them on others.  But I figure if I wear bermuda shorts, my legs (formerly the color of raw bacon fat) will get a little color. It's working.  Now they resemble bacon fat steeped in weak tea...what a lovely image!!

I took Dad to the local diner/deli.  We go there often enough that they all know our names.  One of the cooks was in the 82nd Airborne in Iraq.  He likes to talk to Dad and swap war stories about Iraq and the Pacific in WWII.  It's always a pleasant interlude going there for both of us.  We often see people that Dad knows so he enjoys it, too.

Then we went to Publix for groceries.  By that time, I was wringing wet in the heat, just anxious to get the car loaded and get out of there.  We managed to get everything loaded in the back and put the carts up and out of the way.

We got in the car, strapped on our seatbelts, and prepared to back out of the parking place.  Nobody was coming.  Nobody was backing out of the parking places behind us.  So I started backing out.  Then Dad started screaming and I saw, to my horror, that the delivery truck for the liquor store behind us was barreling backward out of the parking place.  He was clearly going to hit us broadside.  But Dad, bless him, was screaming NO NO NO out of his open window and beating on the car door.  Miraculously the guy stopped about three inches from us and pulled back into the place.  He apologized profusely and we went on...shaken but not stirred...(quick a pop culture reference!)

Then when we got to Dad's neighborhood and I turned off before the house to go to the mailbox.  Dad looked at me and said, "don't I live here anymore?"  I assured him that he did, we were just going to get the mail.  He said it in the plaintive tone I've come to know.  It breaks my heart when he does that.

We got the mail and I drove to his house.  He loves to buy canned Cokes in big packages which are hard for both of us to carry, but he buys them anyway.  Today he also had a half gallon of cranberry juice.  So I pulled into the front and told him to go through the house and open the garage door.  It's easier to bring heavy items in through the garage to the kitchen.  So he did that.  I lugged the Cokes to him and took a couple of his bags as well.

I made it back to my place and proceeded to lug my own groceries in two trips into my place.  See, I started this new eating program a while back.  I make a "green" shake each night.  The health benefits have been amazing.  I buy big bunches of fruit and baby spinach.  Today was no exception.  I had strawberries, blueberries, bananas, peaches, and a big container of baby spinach.  I also bought Almond Milk and other assorted items.  I was walking the path to my apt when one of the cartons of blueberries flew open...the kid who bagged my stuff was obviously new.  He put two pints of blueberries in a package with two big boxes of heavy non edible items.  He looked so young and eager to please that I didn't say anything.

The blueberries must have been jostled just enough for the pint to "explode" which it did in spectacular fashion all over my front entry...Sighing in resolution, I took in the other bags and then proceeded to gather up the blueberry casualties from my front entry which faces full west...yes, there's a lake there, but there's also the full power of the afternoon summer sun...

What do you do with exploded blueberries? It's hard to decide...

I didn't want my dogs to get the blueberries.  I didn't want to leave them out there to attract bugs.  This is Florida, Jack, you don't have to attract have to dissuade them from invading your home, as well as snakes and lizards...I don't mind the lizards so much, but snakes are definitely on the "unwelcome" list.

My place sits above the lake with a steep bank sloping to the water.  I have a new friend who has visited me a couple of evenings recently.  We have an otter who comes and goes in the lake.  I've seen him climb that steep bank and cross the grounds to the next lake.  So naturally, I thought of him.

I flung the blueberries down the bank in the hope that the otter or the birds who are always around will like them...

Now as I sit, finally cooled off at my computer (even the back of my neck is finally dry), I have to wonder if I did the right thing. 

What if I just poisoned that cute little otter?  Or some of the geese in the water or the turtles? In the desperation of a hot, frustrating, wonky energy day, I flung them before I weighed the consequences. 

Surely of my earliest memories was of our house in Decatur, Ga.  We had these huge wild cherry trees in the backyard.  We had an old-fashioned detached garage in the back.  The cherries from the trees would end up in the gutters on the garage.  When it rained and then got hot, they would ferment.

By the ripe old age of six, I was accustomed to watching inebriated birds fall out of the trees or off the gutters and sleep it off beside the garage...Obviously warped me for life.

I hope the otter doesn't fall prey to the power of strong exploded blueberries.  In this heat it shouldn't take long for fermentation to occur.

What a world! What a world!  (and if you don't recognize that quote, think Wicked Witch of the West..)  I'm melting, melting!!

Uh huh...I need some dark chocolate and lots of ice...

Get Ready!!!

Cue the theme music - da dum. Da dum.

Sharknado 2 airs on Wednesday, July 30th on SyFy.

Can we believe they made another one?  YES WE CAN!!!

I'll be watching, ready to take in all the silliness and gore.  It's like watching a train wreck.  You know what's going to happen, but somehow you can't look away.

Actually, I never watch Shark Week, never have, never will.  That's real.  I don't want to see sea lions and birds become dinner for great whites jumping out of the water.

But somehow I manage to enjoy the obscenely stupid hilarity of the Sharknado franchise.

The tag line for this one - Even the sharks are worse in New York.

You guessed it - it rains sharks on NYC.

Stay tuned.  My review will go up late next week...

Until then watch a movie, listen to music, read a book.  It's your pop culture, too.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Dusty's Fate by Vickie King

Vickie King has given us the second novel in her wonderful series The Braddocks.  Following the popular Carly's Rule with Dusty's Fate.

It is the story of Carly's brother, Dusty.  A private investigator, embittered by the past, Dusty meets the first woman to reach his heart on one of his cases.  Jules Donovan, a woman with her own tragic past, does not want to trust anyone, especially a man.  But she is drawn to the private investigator and gradually learns to trust him.

This is another, lovely, heart warming story of healing and happy endings from Ms. King.  She writes such vivid, real characters, the readers feel as if they're old friends. 

The Braddocks are fast becoming one of my favorite fictional families.

This one is a perfect summer read.  Check it out.  You will be glad you did.


West Virginia Private Investigator, Dusty Braddock, takes a job to put some distance between him and his hovering family, who believe he’s on a downhill path to disaster. Three years ago, Dusty's wife and unborn child were killed in car accident. He hadn’t been behind the wheel, but he believed he'd killed his wife and the baby growing inside her as surely as if he had been. The guilt consumes him and festers in his heart.

Foster system survivor Jules Donovan wants to find a guardian for her son, to assure a stable family life for him should anything happen to her. The likeliest candidate is a man who may be her brother. Getting to know this man and his family is Jules' priority, but could leave her vulnerable if a DNA test proves they are not, after all, related.

Dusty's family is connected to Jules' efforts, and the case puts him in the middle of her problematic life. Yet, he can’t seem to walk away from her or her son. Jules wants to belong to someone. No one has ever truly cared about her, or said I love you. Now, the only man who ever made her feel like she belongs wants more than she can give. But can she ever go back to her normal life if trusting him proves to be a mistake?

Links to purchase:

Barnes & Noble


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Memories for Sale

We're in the process of selling my parents' home.  The first showing was yesterday.  It went okay, at the very least we got through it.

This is a difficult process for my dad and for me watching him shrink into himself as he loses more of his identity.

That's the trouble with advanced age.  Inside you remember your life when you were young and full of vitality, energy, and passion.  Though that time may be clear in your head, you aren't so sure about today.  You may wander around in a much stranger world than you remember.  One by one your memories fade along with those things that clearly identify who you are.

Most of the people, if not all, that you remember from those years are gone.  You're surrounded by younger people, some who are familiar, some you do not recognize.  You can't trust your memory any more, because it fails and trips your thinking.  Sometimes you don't remember how to do the things you used to do without thinking.  You try to hold onto bits and pieces of your life and your identity, but it all disappears at an escalating rate.

You are left a stranger even to yourself with fewer and fewer things you remember.  It is a difficult journey for you and a knife in the heart of anyone who loves you and watches it happen.

Dad and I are taking that journey now.  I remember when my mother was dying.  I woke everyday and for a brief instant was happy to greet the sunlight filtering in my bedroom.  Then awareness would hit me with the force of a wrecking ball squarely in my heart, as I remembered what my life was like - that I was watching my mother die.

That's the way it is these days as I watch my father fade away.  There is a belief among native peoples that the human soul leaves by degrees.  There are even healing meditations to retrieve lost pieces to make a person whole once more.  But that isn't going to happen in this case. 

Here is a picture taken by the realtor's photographer of Dad's home.  It's the place where he spent the last thirty years.  The last eleven years he has lived there alone after we lost Mom.  I don't know how well he's going to take moving elsewhere, but it's time.  He made the decision and I'm glad he did.

So we are both entering a new phase of our lives.  Here's hoping the house sells soon and we can get Dad settled in securely elsewhere.

Honor your elders.  Remember they once took care of you.  And remember one day you might be where they are now...hoping someone will help you.

Take care until next time...

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel

I discovered the quirky funny film The Grand Budapest Hotel, this week on pay-per-view.  This one was nominated for several Oscars for 2013. 

With a stellar cast of notable actors, not always recognizable in their roles, it is a funny, gentle farce. It reminds me of classic film comedies of the 1930s in the look of the film, with just a touch of contemporary cynicism.

Told as a flashback by the older Mister Zero, played by F. Murray Abraham, it is the story of Monsieur Gustav, the legendary concierge of the Grand Budapest Hotel.  Ralph Fiennes does a wonderful job as the self-important yet compassionate M. Gustav.  The role is a complete turnaround from Voldemort, but just as well done. He's a bit snarky, but you'll like him anyway.

He has a penchant for the ladies - the older and richer the better.  After the death of his most recent love, he has a private conversation with his lobby boy Zero.  Gustav says to Zero - "She was wonderful in the sack." Zero replies, "but she was 83!" Gustav shrugs and says, "I've had older..."

The lovely Saorise Ronan, nominated for an Oscar for her role in "Atonement" at the age of 12, plays Agatha, a baker of heavenly cakes, with a birthmark in the shape of Mexico on her face, and an Irish lilt to her voice.  Told you it was quirky.  Ms. Ronan shines in the role, making you wish she had a bigger part.

None of the roles in this gem are huge.  Many notables have small roles, little better than cameos in some cases, but unique little bits that will leave you smiling and shaking your head.

Adrien Brody makes a credible, comic book style villain.  Willem Dafoe is barely recognizable as his henchman.  I was so unsure it was him, I had to clean my eyeglasses and look again.

Jeff Goldblum, one of my favorite actors, was evident in his role only by his voice.  I wasn't sure it was him until he spoke. Bill Murray is a dour, SNL style concierge at another regal hotel who steps in to assist Gustav and Zero. Edward Norton plays the constable who chases Gustav and Zero but ultimately bags the real culprit.

The talented Tilda Swinton plays Madame D, Gustav's doomed love interest.

Newcomer Tony Revolori plays the young Zero with a nearly constant facial expression reminiscent of an exhausted basset hound, and incredible comic timing.

Although a flashback, this is really an ongoing chase movie.  Some of the action sequences are fast-moving choreography which will make you giggle.  Look for the switching of cable cars way up in the mountains.  Everything is performed with snapped perfection of comic timing and droll self-awareness. During a fast-paced escape on a motorcycle through an icy landscape, I could just imagine the studio staff just off camera blowing artificial snow in the faces of the actors.

In the memoir sequences which comprise most of the film, the characters frequently speak directly to the camera.  How often do we see that technique? Never, at least not to this degree.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is truly unique.  The sets, the costumes, the make-up, the hairstyles, the props, all are stylized to a dusty bygone era, but add to the richness of the production.

Filled with intentional irony, the war depicted in this film is loosely based on World War I, but comes off looking like a Sigmund Romberg operetta rather than actual combat.  That is in keeping with the tone of the entire film.  Nothing is taken seriously, not the death of Gustav's elderly lover, nor the aftermath of her will.  It is all played for laughs, with a wink to the camera, and the carefully choreographed pandemonium of old silent films.

This film is charming.  It's a light-hearted froth with a few surprisingly serious moments.  For me, it's well worth a second look. You cannot capture everything in just one viewing.

And if you don't know Sigmund Romberg or his work, that's okay.  Honestly, his work is rarely performed, if ever, these days.  He belongs to a bygone era.  You can see some of his operettas transformed into Hollywood musicals of the late 1940s - through the 1950s.  The studios had stars like Howard Keel, Gordon MacRae, Ann Blythe, Mario Lanza, and Katherine Grayson with classical voices.  MGM and others made big colorful movies to showcase the classical talents.

Sorry, but the old film historian comes out in me from time to time...

At any rate, The Grand Budapest is a lovely jewel of a film in all aspects of production.  It will make you laugh and take you away from your daily life...a good thing for some of us, indeed.

See this one, you'll like it.  You'll smile while viewing the film and while thinking about it afterward.

'til next time...

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A House Divided

Sorry, Abraham (Lincoln), for stealing your phrase for my title...

Gargantuan sigh...The time has come.

We've chosen a realtor and are in the process of putting my parents' home on the market.  Dad finally decided he wanted to do it, to get out from under the maintenance, home owner association fees, lawn care, etc.  At his age, he doesn't need to be worried about it.  I'm glad he has made the decision.

Now the work begins.  We've got to clean out a home my parents bought thirty years ago and have filled with STUFF ever since.  Some of you may remember my own moving experience back in December.  I thought I had lots of stuff, but I'm an amateur...well, actually, that's an exaggeration.  My parents had much more space to fill with stuff, moved in with more stuff, and acquired more stuff in the thirty years since. What can I say?  I inherited my love of stuff...

But now that we have to deal with it and do major downsizing I deeply regret those tendencies. Somehow, we'll plow through all this.  Some will go to charity. Some will go to the estate sale.  Some will go with Dad to his new place. Some will go to my brother, my niece, and me. 

So it comes to this - dividing up the tidbits, the little pieces of a family's lifetime.  I didn't think it would affect me like it is. I've thought it would be a good thing for Dad to get out of the house for awhile.  But now that the time has come, it has hit me with infinite sadness.

Though my mother has been gone since 2003, this is still her house.  It's filled with the designer furniture she selected, her Waterford pieces, her books, the dishes she chose, the cookbooks she used, the porcelain Scarlett O'Hara doll I gave her because Gone With the Wind was her favorite movie.  Some of her clothes are still in one of the closets.  Her costume jewelry is still in her large jewelry box in the room that I used in the house.

So not only are we selling the house, but I have to say goodbye to my mom once more.  I will watch the things she loved and the house she loved go to strangers. Truly I understand they are only things with little meaning to me beyond the fact that they belonged to my late mother.  But in the wrenching way I'm feeling right now, I'm losing her again, and this time for good.

Oh sure, I'll have my memories.  The book I've written which will be out soon is dedicated to my mother.  She was a writer and an avid reader.

But the place she lived happily until her final illness and spent her last days will be lost to us when the house sells.  It will go to a new family and they will make their own memories there. That is as it should be.  A house should always be a home.

Our family will be forever changed, our memories, even our existence will eventually be forgotten. We all have our time in this realm which does not last forever.

I have been more fortunate than most.  My dad is still with us.  He's in his 90s.  So I have nothing to complain about really.

I'm sure I will gunnysack the sadness as I start clearing out the STUFF...I'll be too busy to do otherwise.  Someday when this is all over, I'll open that gunnysack and deal with the emotions inside.
Until then, I'll just write to relieve the pain, the emotional stuff, that we can really set aside.

Well, on that cheery note, I'll say take care.  Appreciate your loved ones whether they have two legs or four.

And for heaven's sake, go to the movies!!  Did you see the attendance stats for the Fourth of July weekend?  It was down 44% from last year.  Sure, maybe it was the selection of films but that is a sobering thought for film lovers everywhere...Guess that's why we've got videos.