Saturday, December 31, 2016


Today, New Year's Eve, I finally made it to the movies. I went to see Natalie Portman's portrayal of  Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, known as Jackie to her millions of admirers during her lifetime.

As anticipated, it is a powerful film letting the audience into the private rooms of the White House and the machinations of crisis in the Executive branch of our government.

It is a piece in which the focus jumps back and forth between the present day for the film (after the assassination), the scrambling to make arrangements, and the personal aftermath for the title character. It begins with Jackie's televised tour of the White House and all of the original furnishings she found and brought back to the home of the American President. I remember that interview. My parents and I watched the black and white presentation, the kinetic screen flickering as it did in those days. She was a beautiful woman with a quiet, breathy voice, still the voice of a young woman, but that was before her husband was murdered in an open car in Dallas. He died in her lap before they ever made it to Parkland Hospital. It's hard to live with a goodly portion of your head and brain blasted away.

We all wondered why she jumped on the back of the car, what she was doing after the shots rang out. She was trying to retrieve all the pieces of his brain and head that littered the once immaculate black trunk of the convertible limousine. The cameras were rolling filming the motorcade that day. The awful events have been well preserved for history.

The movie opens with jumping scenes moving with electric speed from the tour mentioned above, to the assassination, and then a later scene where she is being interviewed after she has left the White House and lives in a borrowed estate. It is there she meets with the journalist, the first one she has granted an interview.
She puts up lots of barriers to his questions. Several times when she is candid with him, she tells him he can't use the information. Literally lighting up another cigarette after she finishes the previous one, he plans to depict her smoking throughout the interview. She takes another deep draw and announces she doesn't smoke. She was very conscious of her public image.

The state funeral is portrayed as the historical significance of each phase is mentioned. JFK's funeral was planned on Lincoln's. They used the same cason for the casket of the young president as they had for Lincoln.

The processional march from the Capitol to the cathedral where the funeral was being held was particularly contentious with Jackie changing her mind not once but twice. Plus Rose Kennedy wanted her son buried with the rest of the family in Brookline, Massachusetts. Jackie wanted him in Arlington National Cemetery where he is to this day.

Natalie Portman is incredible in the role.
She is aided by a strong cast which includes:

Peter Sarsgaard as Robert Kennedy
Billy Crudup as reporter Theodore H. White
Beth Grant as Lady Bird Johnson (an eerie lookalike to her character we've seen in other things)
Caspar Phillipson as John Fitzgerald Kennedy
John Carroll Lynch as LBJ
John Hurt as Father Richard McSorley

The cast works well together and are believable in their roles.

This is an immaculate representation of the real events. My only criticism is the music score was LOUD and distracting at times. I don't know if that was intentional or a problem with the theater's sound system. It was unfortunate whatever the cause.

I predict Ms. Portman to be a favorite during awards season. She's already culled some nominations. The rest of the cast is competent particularly John Hurt, Peter Sarsgaard, and Billy Crudup. Unfortunately JFK is only seen in one scene outside the actual assassination. The actor resembles his character, but is a much shorter man. For that matter, Ms. Portman is a petite woman. Jackie Kennedy was about 5'7. But that's easily overlooked. She is very strong in her portrayal of the historical icon.

The film brings the details of the murder into grisly, stark reality. Except for the Zapruder film shot on an old 8mm hand held camera, all the other footage was in black and white. Plus we never saw the carnage in the car either in black and white or color. For that I am grateful, the longshots were rough enough especially for an impressionable thirteen-year-old.

Jackie is a good film which didn't show me too much I didn't already know, except that mentioned above. It held my attention and yes it made me weep. It's hard not to when you remember that "once there was a spot which was known as Camelot." The bitter thing is the romantic glow lasted such a short time.

If you want to see a good film depicting John Kennedy in one of his triumphs, see the film Thirteen Days. It is about the Cuban Missile Crisis, considered one of the finest moments of his Presidency.

I'm sorry but when I think back on this recent election with its' name calling and incivility, I think of "Camelot" and just shake my head.

Until next time...

Be safe tonight.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Ming's Recuperation


I've been taking care of Ming and basically ignoring Christmas. Decided I wanted to do that this year and it worked pretty well for me. Haven't made it to a movie, though. Ming's had a rough time. I've been reluctant to leave him too long.

We went back to the vet for our weekly visit today. Ming IS healing but it's going slowly. The vet said there is blood flow so he will continue to heal in the eye. Ming is sixteen years old. The vet said they could do more surgery but he doesn't want to, due to Ming's age. I agree with him.

As for Ming, he's making it around the apartment very well. In fact both dogs are here with me in my office, asleep under the ceiling fan.

Yes, folks, it's almost 80 degrees outside today. We live in Florida a few miles inland from the coast. Don't be jealous, we've got a big cold front coming in tomorrow night. Friday's high will be in the lower 50s...which will give me a chance to wear my hoodies. I might wear the one that says "Send me to Hawaii...NOW!!"

Ming is seeing a bit as his eye heals. He sits in the living area and watches the dream catcher revolve suspended from the ceiling fan. There's a bank of windows in that room which  provides lots of sunlight. He also sees things at night when they're silhouetted by the lamp. He's looked up into my eyes a time or two when I've had the lamp on beside my chair.

He's not uncomfortable, especially since I replaced the hard plastic cone he had to wear with a great inflatable collar which looks like a big donut. I have to replenish the air once in a while. But as a trained opera singer I always have my breath.

So we're getting along okay. Now he knows his way around to his water dish, his towel where he sleeps in the living area, his food dish, and his puppy pads, we're pretty much back to normal.

Of course, he can't get groomed and hasn't been for five or six weeks now. The ophthalmologist vet says he can't be bathed or clipped for fear of infection in the partially healed eye. I haven't had Myrna groomed either. Now she looks like a tangled glob of shredded she's getting groomed next week. Poor little girl.

Now, then, I am going to try to go to a movie tomorrow. If I do, I will write a post tomorrow.

I haven't been paying attention to Christmas, but I have been paying attention to my Dallas Cowboys!! They're lookin' gooooooood!!!

Did anybody catch the Kennedy Center Honors last night? Among the honorees were James Taylor, Mavis Staples, and The Eagles...I made a big fool of myself singing along and rocking out. But boy, did it feel good. Nothing like an old hippie enjoying her music!

But on a more somber note, I think it's time for me to ditch the blue hair...oh well..

Take care. Rock on!

Until next time...

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Bah Humbug

It's been awhile since I last posted. In the meantime, my little Tzu, Ming the Merciless has gone downhill a bit. His condition has worsened as we found out when we saw the vet for a checkup yesterday. Needless to say, I'm not happy. Poor little guy. He's on a bunch of new medicine. Also, at the vet's suggestion I bought an inflatable collar at Pets Mart to replace the hard plastic cone. He seems much more comfortable in it. So he wears  it all the time now to keep his paw out of his eye.

Today is the one year anniversary of the day my father died. My niece and I went out to the cemetery today. I thought I'd be very down, but I'm not. It is what it is. I cannot change it

Probably my concern is focused on my little elderly dog.

Last year this was a horrendous day. I was absolutely numb, shell shocked from my dad's rapid decline at the end. During the ensuing year, I've had bouts of depression and bouts of being lost in my work, speeding through the edits for book#3 and through the draft manuscript for book#4.

The numbness lasted several weeks. I didn't want anything to do with Christmas last year but went to my niece's anyway. I wasn't very nice and ended up leaving early.

This year I am not celebrating. My niece is going out of town. I may go to a movie Christmas day. It's a good day to go to the earlier showings. Most people are still celebrating with their families and you can get in to see anything out there.

So the lesson learned over the last year is this:

I expected today to be hard. It wasn't particularly. I did fine. After the cemetery, my niece and I went to lunch at the Cracker Barrel which we both like but seldom visit. We didn't make a day of it as Ming is delicate and I don't want to leave him for a long time like I might otherwise.

I want to make sure he gets his medication on schedule to help the infection stop spreading. Poor little guy. He and his sister, Myrna, are the oldest dogs I've ever had. Like people, they have issues in old age. If he crosses the Rainbow Bridge as a result of this illness, I can't prevent it. All I can do is give him the best care I can. So that's what I'm focused on doing these days.

In the meantime I've got editing to do on Forbidden (Kapu) my first novel in the new Inquisitor series. I've begun writing Honor Thy Mother, the second novel in the Inquisitor series.

When you're feeling anti-social, working on a manuscript is a great way to pass the time. You disappear into that world and work out your feelings in the manuscript. Easiest form of therapy available...

I wish you all the happiest of holidays. Cherish your time together and hold on to your memories. They will stay with you after your loved ones are gone.

Enjoy your holidays however you may celebrate.

And enjoy our wonderful pop culture, whether you listen to Christmas music, go out dancing, or stay home and watch TV.

Until next time...

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Update on Ming

Thought I posted the results on FB last night, I thought I'd update my blog readers.

He doesn't have glaucoma. He had an ulcer on his cornea which ruptured.

So the veterinary ophthalmologist grafted tissue from his eye over the area of the rupture. He's on four different kinds of eye drops and two different kinds of pills. We go back in 2 weeks.

Ming is growling occasionally, mad about his condition. Believe me he's not whimpering or crying. But I'm letting him navigate on his own sometimes in the apt. He seems to have forgotten what he knew about the layout.  Right now he's operating from panic, but he's calming down. He found his water bowl after lunch which was good. I'm trying to be patient with him so he will get stronger and more self-sufficient while he's recovering.

I also have to give Myrna, his sister, lots of love and reinforcement, so she doesn't feel neglected.

Oh, did I mention Ming fits in his crate with the collar (elizabethan type) he must wear during recuperation? He fits in there all right. Overnight I was periodically awakened by noises coming from the crate and would tell him "go to sleep. It's all right. I'm here with you..." Little toot was working at removing the collar, which he did...sigh.

It's one big laugh riot at my place ..... NOT!!

But we will get through it.

Thanks for letting me spew.

Until next time...

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Ming the Merciless

About a year and a half ago, my Shih Tzu, Ming the Merciless, lost an eye to glaucoma. His other eye has it now, which we knew was a possibility. I saw several dogs, particularly Shih Tzus, at the veterinary ophthalmologist's clinic who had both eyes removed. So that's what is going to happen to my brave protector.

He's already lost the sight in the affected eye. He can get around inside our place. And when I carry him outside over the one step and put him down on the sidewalk, he gets to the grass and does just fine.

I watched him today as he navigated to his water bowl, his food bowl (and his sister's), to my office where he sleeps on the carpet while I work at the computer, and into the bedroom where their crates are. He's sitting at my feet right now as I type this.

All last night I worried I'd have to put him to sleep today. But I called our vet first thing this morning and she talked me out of it, telling me he would do just fine getting around using his nose and sense of smell.

I saw a posting on Facebook, a photo of an elderly dog. The caption read something like "Sure you love me as a puppy, but will you still love me when I'm old?" I kept seeing that picture in my mind last night as I tossed and turned.

Ming and his sister Myrna are the surviving members of the puppy trio I got in 2001. We lost Sparky to cancer several years ago. I have to admit Ming and Myrna have aged, but they're not too frail. They are still active with life left in them. So we will go for the surgery and I'll take care of him for the rest of his life.

They are my sweet little Tzus. They got me through the bad times when Dad died and the times when I was so stressed out about him and his behavior due to his dementia. I'm convinced they saved my life a time or two. I can do no less.

Love your dogs and/or your cats. The picture below was taken before Ming lost his first eye.  He's he black and white one.

Until next time...

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Tuna Christmas

For all of you in the Austin Texas area, I want to highly recommend the following production:

A Tuna Christmas

If you've never heard of A Tuna Christmas, it is absolutely hysterical. I made a visit to Tuna whenever possible when I lived in Texas. The originators of this whacko world in a tiny Texas town, wrote three plays that I know of about the denizens of Tuna, Texas.

It is a town filled with "colorful" characters, to say the least, such as the two waitresses at the Tasty Kreme,
Inita Goodwin and Helen Bedd. Just say the names aloud and you'll get the gist.

If you want to enjoy uproarious comedy and laugh yourself silly, you'd best get your tickets.

I am told they are sold out though the 19th.

One of the actors, Frank Benge, is a friend of mine. We've worked together on some productions. He directed me and I directed him.

Trust me, he will be incredible in this comic delight.

Click on the link above to find out more info.

This is a laugh-til-you-cry event.

I really wish I still lived in Texas. Here in Jacksonville, a tuna Christmas means Christmas dinner is the catch of the day.

Tell Aunt Pearl I said hey.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Remember to be thankful.

For some of you, this post will contain some old information. Sorry about that.

Anyway, today is not a happy day for me. I was my 94 year old father's caregiver. Last Thanksgiving was his last holiday. My niece and grandnephew met us at a local restaurant where they had a buffet. My niece walked my dad inside. He was already beginning to forget how to walk. The people at the restaurant knew us and filled a plate for Dad so he could remain seated.

We had a good time that day. But the next week he took three separate falls. Went to the ER all three times and refused treatment. On the third visit, the doctor ordered the tests anyway, told me Dad would be admitted. He ordered me to leave telling me I looked exhausted.

After several days in the hospital Dad went to hospice care where he died in five days. Needless to say I don't feel like celebrating this year.

I have very little family left in this area. My niece is in Japan right now visiting her son who is stationed there. So I am alone.

I'm working today, beginning my next novel, another of The Inquisitor series (thrillers about a vicious serial killer.) Hmmmm. Sharon "vicious serial killer" is an oxymoron...but this guy IS a champ at viciousness.

Before I came in here to work, I fed my dogs their breakfast, ate my own, and then wrestled with the gargantuan morning newspaper. I tossed all of the Black Friday circulars into the recycle receptacle unread. I read the small newspaper, checking to see what they said about the chances for the Dallas Cowboys to make it 10-1 on their winning streak when they play the Redskins this afternoon. Did the Word Jumble and the Sudoku (my daily mental acuity tests - if I can solve both, I'm on target that day- got 'em both.) Sorry, but my father and his mother both died of dementia. My best friend's mother died of dementia.  We both worry if we forget words, etc, that it may be inherited dementia. So far, it's just normal aging process.

I watched an episode of Property Brothers. Then I watched Rocky Balboa which premiered in 2006, the last offering of the long running movie serial. I like Rocky, always have. Oh I know it's schmaltzy, but part of it rings true.

No matter how many people say "you can't" - you keep fighting - you keep pursuing your dream as long as you live.

On a day which is hard for me this year, I realized I do have things for which to be thankful.

When I moved here almost seven years ago to become my dad's caregiver, I began writing once more. I hadn't written anything but articles in the last 30 years. I had written two novels in the 1970s which no publisher wanted. They're hidden away in boxes in my files.

I remembered my dream of being a published novelist and went to work pursuing that goal. This time a publisher read the prologue of my first novel Touch the Sky on one of my blogs and asked for the manuscript saying they were interested in publishing it. Now my third novel in that series will be available December 6th. My fourth novel, the beginning of The Inquisitor series is having its first edit. Entitled Forbidden (Kapu), it takes place mostly in 1898 Hawaii. It was so hard to write because I had to study the Hawaiian language for some of the characters. The new one, tentatively titled, Honor Thy Mother, takes place in the US. Whew, no foreign language to research.

Plus, two of my sixteen year old shih tzus are still with me. I've had them since they were two months old.

I have made good friends in the local writing community, live by a small lake where I can see all kinds of birds and the occasional aquatic mammal. Even though I get depressed on some days, my life is good.

So remember your blessings, love your family, be thankful, and enjoy your dinner.

I've got a turkey sandwich from the deli with my name on it waiting for me. I also bought a small pumpkin pie, an unaccustomed dissipation. (Love that phrase - it came from a Regency novel I read years ago.)

Coming out of the cloud of the last few years, I am grateful to still be here, have good friends, and three books published and two more coming out of the chute. I know, I know, but you should expect words like that out of a Texan and a DALLAS COWBOYS fan.

I am also thankful for my readers of my books and of my sometimes inane blog posts. Bless you.

Take care. Have a great holiday.

Until next time...

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


I saw Race earlier this week.  It's another of those films I intended to see in the theater, but never made it. Fortunately for all of us it's now on premium cable channels.

This is the story of Jesse Owens and his remarkable career in track and field events. If you don't know about Jesse Owens, he was a black man who got accepted at Ohio State University because of his running and jumping abilities. He went on to the 1936 Olympic Games, held in NAZI Germany, Berlin to be exact.

See, Hitler was planning to show the world how great Germany was under his leadership.  He also wanted to show the "racial superiority" of the "Aryan Race." (read that - white people from Germany.) The Games were to be a set-up to show how the Aryan athletes could best everyone else. Hitler's regime tried to bar Jews and Blacks from the games entirely.

In comes an American named Avery Brundage, a wealthy man who for years chaired the U.S. Olympic Committee. He wasn't impressed by Hitler's minions. In fact he dealt with Dr. Goebbels, head of the Ministry of Propaganda. Brundage basically told him the policy banning all black athletes and all Jews wouldn't fly. America wouldn't be involved in the games at all and would tell the world why. Brundage got his way.

The American team had three African-Americans and two Jewish men, who were all medal contenders.
If you don't know what happened, Jesse Owens took home four gold medals, smashing several world records. It would have only been three, but he had to step into the relay team when the two Jewish men were banned from competing at the last minute. Jesse had never run the relay, but he was incredibly fast. So with another teammate of African-American descent as replacements, the US relay team took the gold medals. Hitler refused to greet the winners of any event Jesse won.  He conveniently left before Jesse arrived to be greeted.

Hmmmm. Der Fuehrer had a big case of sour grapes. So much for his "master race" bulldookey (sorry had to go all Texan on you good folks.)

The film, Race, is about much more than Jesse's accomplishments. It's about his life. How he had to fight to be accepted at Ohio State and out in regular society. When they held a major banquet in his honor at a large NY hotel, he and his wife were made to take the service elevators because they weren't allowed inside the main parts of the hotel.

I was shocked to find the president at the time, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, did not even acknowledge Owens' accomplishments.  There was no notice of it from the White House. I bet FDR got a good tongue-lashing from his wife on that one.

The talented cast includes:

Stephan James as Jesse Owens. He plays the lead character with a strength of spirit and of body. He makes a wonderful film athlete.

Jason Sudeikis as Coach Larry Snyder - known for comedy, Sudeikis does a great job in this dramatic role.

Clarice Van Houten as Hitler's favorite filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl who filmed the Olympics. Riefenstahl was a fascinating woman. She was Hitler's best propaganda tool with her filmmaking. Some of her films are rarely shown to this day as they put the NAZI regime in such a favorable light.

Jeremy Irons as Avery Brundage. I remember seeing Brundage and Irons captured the character superbly.

Shanice Banton is lovely and feisty as Ruth Solomon, Jesse's longtime girlfriend whom he ultimately marries.

William Hurt as Jeremiah Mahoney, is good as another influential member of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

David Kross as Carl "Luz" Long - a German athlete, the pre-games favorite, who lost to Jesse in his signature event. Luz's story is sad. He and Jesse became great friends and remained friends after the games. Because Luz lost, he was drafted into the German army at the beginning of WWII and died at the allied invasion of Anzio in Italy. He and Jesse corresponded until his death.

Race is entertaining and keeps the audience attention throughout the film. His three daughters were consultants on the film.

It is the story of arguably the greatest track and field athlete of all time. He took the gold in two different length race events, the long jump, and the relay, breaking records in three of his events. He also broke the "glass ceiling" for African-American athletes to follow.

Until next time ...

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Dr. Strange

Marvel's Dr. Strange is a wild ride even without the 3-D. Alas I suffered an eye injury a couple of weeks ago. It's healing, but I still can't take 3-D yet. So I saw it in the XD version at a Cinemark theater. (Which basically means a bigger, wrap-around screen, with enhanced sound.)

It's the story of Dr. Stephen Strange, an arrogant, brilliant surgeon with mad skills. He treats people around him as inferiors. Self-assured in his superb surgical talent, other people are discounted in his world. He always knows best.

One evening, he has performed miraculous surgery late in the day. When it's finished, he leaves to go home, change, pick out one of his many luxury watches to wear, and go to the black-tie event. The female doctor who often assists him and is his frequent date, tries to dissuade him from going. It's a rainy night and he has a long way to travel to get to the event. He disregards her and her fears.

Later when he's ready, he gets into his Maserati or Lamborghini, one of those slick European sports' cars, he leaves the city and comes to a curving mountainous road.  He doesn't pay attention to the narrow, winding road, secure in his assurance nothing will ever happen to him.

He's wrong. He suffers a head-on collision as he has veered into oncoming traffic. The crash is terrible as he bounces off the bridge, down the rocky bank, landing upended in the river. He is found and wakes in the hospital. His hands were surgically put back together. As a surgeon, he knows they will never be the same.

After months of recuperation, he is almost broke and down to his last watch. He has sheafs of letters from the world's best surgeons refusing to take his case.  All will not take his case as it is hopeless. He seeks out a man who's been miraculously healed.

The man (played by Benjamin Bratt) tells the former doctor he needs to go to Kathmandu to seek out a spiritual teacher there.

Thus the real journey begins. Strange, at his wit's end, finally finds someone to lead him to the teacher, known as The Ancient One, played by an androgynous Tilda Swinton with a shaved head. Resistant to learn at first, his old arrogant self still in play, he has to come to a crisis to be broken down and accept what he is taught. It's a rough journey for him, but he does learn what he needs.

If you can't tell, I love most of the Marvel movies. This is one of the biggest and one of the best. The special effects are mind-bending. As with most of the other Marvel films, there are incredible images of color and destruction, some of it gorgeous.

Benjamin Cumberbatch does his usual excellent job in the role, filled with humanity, strength, and unexpected humor.

Tilda Swinton plays the Ancient One with all the strength and power of a true spiritual teacher.

Chiwetel Ejiofor, a veteran of many films, including one of my favorites - Kinky Boots (yes, he played the drag queen) - is excellent as Mordo, one of the teachers who works with Dr. Strange.

Rachel McAdams does a wonderful job as Christine Palmer, the doctor's on again off again romantic partner. (Ever notice these super hero guys don't do relationships well?!!)

Mads Mikkelson plays the villain Kaecilius with serpentine grace and evil intent.

Stan Lee, one of the original creators of the Marvel Comics world, appears in a comic cameo. I think Dr. Strange was his creation. Of course he appears in each of the films.

As with every other Marvel film, look for a scene at the end of the credits - actually in this one there are two. In the first one, we see Dr. Strange meeting with Thor. They have a serious conversation which points to the next Dr. Strange film.

I'll leave the second one a secret. You'll know when you see it. It points to the surprising possible villain for the next one.

As I said previously, this is a glorious film visually with magical special effects on an enormous scale.
Also you learn something about the whereabouts of another infinity stone. I want to see the movie where they all come together for those stones!!

This is a memorable movie in the Marvel pantheon. Enjoy it, whether or not you see it in 3-D.

Till next time...

Monday, November 14, 2016

Westworld Revisited

Folks, I don't usually do this, but the HBO series Westworld is so extraordinary, I want to give it one more recommendation.

From a well-known premise (based on the 1973 film), this series has ventured far afield. Last night's episode was so shocking I had to watch it a second time to catch all the stuff I missed due to sitting stunned and staring at the screen in open-mouthed surprise.

The cast is superb in this one. But, the champ is Anthony Hopkins. He comes across as an addled old man content to socialize with his "hosts." Then his true personality and motives are revealed and you see doddering kindly old Santa Claus become Hannibal Lecter, icy, dangerous, and without compassion.

I smell an Emmy and/or a Golden Globe.

If you have access to this one already, check it out on demand. It's amazing on several levels.

Please don't miss it. In a host of wonderful series past and present on HBO, this one is the most starkly brilliant of them all.

Until next time...

Sunday, November 13, 2016


Friday I decided to go to the first showing of The Accountant at the movies. It's the one starring Ben Affleck who is an assassin with issues. I thought I might get some inspiration for my second Inquisitor book (the serial killer inspired by the Inquisition.)

But as I stood in the line for tickets, the woman in front of me bought tickets for Arrival. My brain went "Arrival, the weird one with the aliens..." So I bought a ticket to that one instead. I'd seen the commercials and the previews. It piqued my curiosity.

Arrival is not your stereotypical "hey-the-bad-aliens-have-landed!!!"

Instead it is like being in someone else's dream. Amy Adams, a prominent linguist who teaches at some college/university (it is never clarified), is facing a huge classroom with only four or five students. Frowning, she asks her students where the rest of them are. Then the cellphones start ringing. One of the students asks her to turn on the television to a news channel, please.

She does and they all see a series of strangely shaped alien craft hovering over the Earth in twelve different locations around the world. The students are released for the day and martial law is declared until they know the intent of the extraterrestrials.

Later she sits at home staring out at the view of her exquisite lake home (tell me a university that pays enough to have such a house!) Suddenly a helicopter lands in her yard and military men emerge onto her lawn. A Colonel played by Forest Whitaker comes to her door. It seems she is one of the world's best linguists. She is asked to be a part of the contact team for the craft hovering over Montana.

She finally relents and off she goes.

There she meets a physicist, played by Jeremy Renner, heading the scientific team. Together with military representatives, they make first contact with the aliens.

Everything is indistinct as if enshrouded by mist. The creatures, much larger than humans, resemble enormous squids with seven legs on which they stand. They make loud noises, sometime with so many decibels the theatre seats shook like the old "sensurround" days of the movie Earthquake.  For you younger folk, the tremors in that movie rumbled so loudly and deeply, the chairs seemed to vibrate like they would in a quake...

The visitors have a written language which the professor ultimately deciphers so they are able to communicate. Their reason for coming to Earth will surprise you.

Then the Russians and the Chinese stop all communication with the rest of the world, unable to communicate with the visitors and sure they are hostile. Yep, the Earth is brought to the brink of WWIII.

Tense moments ensue until resolution is reached.

I won't tell you about what they learn or how the linguist learns it...

You need to see it for yourself. I'd give this one a solid nine out of ten. It is a lovely film with memorable characters, an excellent screenplay, atmospheric sets and effects, and a somnambulistic quality (like they are all walking in a shared dream.)

It reminded me of what an able actor Amy Adams is. Also showed me Jeremy Renner's capabilities extend well beyond the Marvel films. (Not that I'm bad-mouthing those - solid fan, here.)

This one will stay with you for a while.

I was so stunned by it when I started writing this post on Friday afternoon, I spelled poor Ben Affleck's name as Afflack. Somehow I knew that was wrong..Why did I see a duck? When I figured it out, I decided to postpone writing this review...

Okay, the Cowboy game is coming on!!!

Until next time...

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Prince of Tides

Okay, now that the election is in the past, I'm going ahead in healing mode by blogging about something beautiful.

This morning, sick of the news and the endless speculation of astonished pundits, I decided to watch The Prince of Tides, a lovely film directed by Barbra Streisand in 1991.

This film is based on one of my top two favorite books (I go back and forth between The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.) I just realized both of them died in the last two years.

Anyway, Conroy, who wrote the screenplay with a partner, was an astonishing writer. A victim of abuse from his hardlined father, he created beautiful lyrical language to describe cruelty committed on children by abusive parents. The prose was so magnificent you could not look away even from the most violent passages. Also, like Harper Lee, he was born and raised in the South. Filled with all the attitudes, history, and social habits unique to this region which many of us call home.

The film stars Barbra Streisand as the NY psychiatrist Susan Lowenstein. Nick Nolte gives one of his best performances as Tom Wingo, jolly football coach, always laughing to hide the severe trauma of his family's past. His sister Savannah, played by Melinda Dillon, has once again tried to commit suicide in her new home of NYC. A noted poet, she has tried to kill herself many times. Tom is called to come to NYC to be with his sister. There he meets Susan Lowenstein, her psychiatrist. The vivid tale moves with grace through an unfolding of long held family secrets as the doctor tries to determine why Savannah is so broken.

This is a powerful film has abundant healing in it, not only for Savannah, but for Tom and Lowenstein as well. The dialogue often matches the incredible prose in the novel.

It's a beautiful film filled with joy and astonishing grief at the past which broke the individual members of the Wingo family. Speaking as a long-time social worker, the responses to the trauma are based in reality.

If you would like to witness healing on a major scale, watch this gorgeous film, or even (gasp!) read the magnificent novel which was the basis for the film.

Pat Conroy also wrote The Great Santini, an autobiography of him, his siblings and his domineering father. If you've read that one or seen the film, you will get an idea just how rough Mr. Conroy's childhood was.

I know it doesn't always make sense, but pain is often the impetus for great literature, films, music, and other artforms.

Art in all its forms also gives us examples of people being able to survive hideous experiences and be healed to live content, fruitful lives.

Have a blessed day as we move on to the future.

Until next time...

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Theme from "Jaws", ba dum ba dum

It's coming!! I can see the fin in the water!!!

Forgive my silliness, but the election is now five days from today. Did you ever think it would get here? It's been a long, contentious, agonizing period the like of which we've never encountered in the USA.

Don't worry, this isn't going to be a diatribe for either of the candidates for President. In fact, it has nothing to do with them at all. So take a breath...

No, I'd like to offer some common sense about after the election. Whoever is elected for the office of President, and the down slate of positions (Senate, House, State Legislators, State Judges, Local offices, etc.) - Some people will be very upset if their candidates lose.

Okay, here's my pitch to all of you out there. If we have more of the recent pattern of refusing to work with the opposition we've seen in our Congress over the last eight years, very little will get done. We'll continue to deal with an enormous national debt; health care requirements that do not work; government funding that does not get fixed; issues for our infrastructure (you know like crumbling bridges on the Interstates which fall down and kill people?) Just an example of things that benefit our country and its citizens.

I notice the House and Senate always seem to get their operating budgets (including their salaries) voted into law. Funny thing about that.

What I am asking you to remember is that all of these people work for us.  That's why we vote them into office - to do their job, not posture and preen and get all outraged when the cameras are rolling.

We need to work together as Americans to repair the rift in our country.  We're all in this together.

In January when the new administration takes over, I ask you to study the things which you think are important for us. Email, Tweet, or use Facebook. Contact your Congressman or Senator, let them know what you think. Their contact information will be on the Web.

Most of all, please remember, when the elections are over, it won't be "us" and "them" anymore. It will just be us Americans. Let's face it, except for the Native Americans, we are all members of immigrant families who came here seeking a better life. It will be time to compromise and get to work. Hmmm, compromise is a word we haven't heard much lately.

What will I be doing election night? I have to tell you I already voted. I have been avoiding all the hoopla and speculation ever since. I'm sick of the subject and the schism between us. So I'll start out by watching "Star Trek: Beyond" and then settle down to binge watch a bit of  "Longmire."

What do you expect of a self-proclaimed Pop Culture Diva?

Take care and breathe. This will all be over soon...

Friday, October 21, 2016

Money Monster

Okay, I finally got to see Jodie Foster's film, Money Monster, last night on pay-per-view. I wanted to see it from the time I first saw the trailers at the movies.

Directed by Ms. Foster and produced by George Clooney, Money Monster is a tense drama, riveting to the end. In fact, it was time to feed the dogs, midway through the film. They sat begging at my feet, so I paused the video, got up, fed them, and went right back to watching, foregoing my own meal until after I watched the whole thing.

With an impressive cast and a talented director, this is one to see.

George Clooney stars as Lee Gates, the host of a television show called Money Monster, which uses hip dances and appropriately cheesy pop culture to give the viewers investment tips. Julia Roberts plays Patty Fenn, the longtime director of the program. Dominic West, a talented British import, excellent at playing the wealthy amoral man, plays Walt Camby, the owner of a corporation which lost $800 million dollars literally overnight and bankrupted many of the stockholders. Caitriona Balfe, of Outlander fame, plays his assistant, his mistress, and the one who suspects he was involved in the disappearance of the money. Long time character actor, Giancarlo Esposito, plays the police captain in charge of the SWAT team. Christopher Denham plays Ron Sprecher, whose comic misadventure makes him oblivious to the real danger. Lenny Venito plays Lenny, the cameraman, brave enough to follow all the action.

And last, but certainly not least, Jack O'Connell plays Kyle Budwell, a disgruntled investor who lost all his money by following Gates' advice to buy stock from the company of Dominic West. Wiped out of his meager fortune, he sneaks into the studio as a delivery man while the show is live on the air. He makes it into the studio, pulls out a gun and a vest with a bomb on it. He takes over the studio on live tv and demands Gates put on the vest and explain what happened to his $60,000.

A consummate professional, Patty (Roberts) deftly gives Gates' instructions in his earphone while directing security personnel to call NYPD.

Naturally the situation deteriorates from there with the police wanting to storm the studio and take out Budwell and possibly Gates if the bomb goes off in the melee. Patty starts releasing all nonessential personnel in the background, allowing them to leave the building.

Meanwhile the broadcast is still live. People all over the world are watching and a couple of them are involved. People all over NYC are glued to their devices watching the live drama unfold. When Budwell takes Gates out to the streets, all the while being broadcast by Lenny, the brave cameraman, the situation gets even worse. In the background Diane Lester (Balfe) conducts her own investigation of the stock fall and finds some irregularities. She speaks to people all over the world to find out what really happened.

The film grabs your attention as the people race to find the solution and save Gates.  He understands Budwell and begins to bond with him. Gates has to face some hard facts about himself, learning a painful lesson about his life. Budwell turns out to be a sympathetic character forced by the desperation of his circumstances to act as he has.

The film races to its surprising conclusion and the viewer is left feeling like you've run a marathon...i.e. stunned and drained of energy.

It didn't get great reviews when it was released, but when has that ever stopped me?

This one is a gem filled with good actors, a meticulous director, and a taut script. It also got me thinking about my upcoming inheritance and how NOT to invest it...sigh, reality bites, you know?

Until next time, take care and enjoy our rich and varied pop culture...

Saturday, October 15, 2016

I sold my mother's jewels today

Thirteen years after her death and ten months after my dad's I finally sold my mother's jewelry today. Both of my parents wanted me to have the jewelry. In fact the day after Mom's funeral, Dad trotted it all out, informing me it was mine.  He was happy to do it, even smiling. He didn't understand when I said I didn't want it.

He kept pushing and pushing until I yelled at him. "I want my mother not the blasted jewelry!" His face took on the puzzled expression I would see more frequently as he slipped into dementia.

Knowing he'd just lost his wife and would never understand anyway, I gathered up the jewelry and packed it away for my return trip to Texas.

Thus began the saga of my mother's jewelry. He asked if I wanted him to place her large solitaire diamond ring with a local broker to sell and I agreed. After a few months it sold. So I didn't have to see it or think about it. The rest I plunked in a safe deposit box and ignored. Once I went and got out a couple of rings and a diamond bracelet for a role I was playing in a current production. Other than that, I never wore it.

I probably sound like a brat. Maybe I am, but here's the and the pursuit of it ruined my family. My entire life my parents were all about money. I understand why. They were both children of the depression who grew up in genteel poverty.  Both of my grandfathers worked when others didn't. My mother's father worked construction in Miami at a time when the resort was beginning to boom. My father's father worked in law enforcement, so he always had a job. But he had six children to feed. In my mom's family there were three daughters.

Money or lack thereof was a frequent topic of discussion in their respective homes. They came to think with money they would always be safe and free of fear. Of course they were both taught otherwise frequently as adults but clung to their core belief. It was the only refuge they knew.

As a child I recognized the emptiness of pursuing wealth. I never wanted to drive a new Cadillac every year, sparkle with jewels, or wear dead animals on my back. I grew up to be a hippie. People were more important to me and I ended up in social work. My values were opposite of both my parents. I worked for the poor, the neglected, the abused, and the exploited. I went places law enforcement wouldn't go, at times knowing my life was in danger. But I went anyway because those people needed an advocate.

My parents aged and Dad retired, no longer the "big wheel" he once had been, and smarting from it. They were at a loss in retirement. Dad played golf in his expensive country club neighborhood. My mother, always shy, mostly stayed home, seeing few friends, and drinking more until she got so sick she didn't drink at all. She never connected well with people except by being the richest one in the group. Where they lived their last years everyone was on their economic level, some even higher. Her life crumbled around her. She shrank into herself and into a bourbon or vodka bottle, her diamond rings flashing as she lifted the glass to her lips for another drink.

Bedfast for seven months, gradually she put away all her fancy jewelry, wearing only her wedding rings until the day before she died. She asked Dad to put them away finally.

All of Dad's accoutrements of wealth went the same way during the ten years I was his caregiver. One by one everything slipped away. He was no longer able to physically play golf. He finally agreed to sell his beloved Cadillac, couldn't figure out how to change the time on his Rolex and wore his beloved golf clothes which hung on his much smaller frame. The last time he wore them was the last time he went to the hospital. He was wearing them when they wheeled him into the ER. He stayed there over a week and went to hospice care. The rest of his life he wore pajamas.

He was called before the homeowner's association board for the condition of his yard. He shuffled into the meeting in a stained jacket, one of his golf hats and one of his ensembles for the golf course. He was sadly arrogant, a ghost of the man he had been. He laughed at the board with scorn, saying "you don't know who I am. You can't do anything to me." They gave him a deadline to fix the dollar weed problem or face fines. He walked out of there, the shadow of the international vice president he had been, a satisfied smirk on his face. The next day he had forgotten about it, his own perceived victory vanished into what was left of his mind. I arranged for the treatments to the yard and wrote the checks to pay them.

Their house has long since sold to a new family who did extensive renovations. Dad is buried beside Mom at a local cemetery. All the things which were their benchmark for the success of their lives are dispersed.

I sold a few pieces of Mom's jewelry when we had the estate sale. Someone bought them for his wife. They had an important anniversary coming up. The woman who ran the sale said he was thrilled. I'm glad. I hope she enjoys them.

I didn't sell the rest of her jewelry while Dad was alive. I didn't want to hurt him. He'd lost so much already.

Earlier this week, a local jeweler announced they were setting appointments for buying jewelry. So I made one,drove out there this morning and sold everything I brought. They didn't pay much. I didn't expect them to. For all the baubles, rings, bracelets, a diamond heart shaped pendant, and a Baume & Mercier gold and diamond watch, I got ten cents on the dollar. That's okay. I'll use the money I got to pay expenses for Dad's estate, still not settled.

Our family life was what it was. I accepted it and went my own way, knowing I couldn't change anything.
Today I grieved once more for my lost parents.

Freed of the burden of the jewelry, I thought I'd feel better, but I am numb.

It will pass.

Until next time when I promise another movie review, take care...blessed be.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Westworld - HBO

The original film, Westworld, opened in 1973 taken from work by Michael Crichton, known in those days for his books such as The Andromeda Strain.

After months of advertising and teaser clips, HBO premiered their new much-anticipated limited series. The first episode of the series Westworld aired last night in the coveted time slot True Blood once occupied.

It starts out with background staff of the amusement park known as Westworld investigating some unanticipated malfunctions in the robotic units, known as hosts to the visitors at the park. The action switches to a scene between Ed Harris, playing The Man in Black, Evan Rachel Wood, playing Dolores Abernathy, and James Marsden, playing Teddy Flood.

The scene is a tease. Marsden has been followed by the camera from the beginning, giving the impression he is a visiting guest. The hosts are not able to kill the guests, their guns do not function when pointed at a human being. However in a confrontation with the Man in Black over Dolores Abernathy, Teddy Flood, whose shots were ineffective against his adversary is "murdered." The unaffected Man in Black drags a screaming Dolores into a barn where he shuts the door as the screaming intensifies. Then it's the next morning, Dolores is walking around the town with a smile on her face as she greets Teddy who is all hale, hearty, and also smiling. They have no memory of the night before.

Get the picture? Westworld is an amusement park for the very rich and salacious segment of the human population. When humans come to Westworld, they are free to do whatever they wish to the hosts. The hosts on the other hand may never harm a human. Even the horses, dogs, cows, etc are robotic doubles of biologicals.

Uh huh.  The advertising slogan for the 1970s movie, was "Westworld, where nothing can go worrngg."

In the original, the androids revolted and massacred the guests not only in Westworld, but in two other adjoining parks with similar themes. Two guests, played by Peter Fonda and Blythe Danner, managed to outwit The Man in Black, played by Yul Brynner as a gunfighter in the same all black outfit he'd worn in The Magnificent Seven thirteen years before. He was one of the androids determined to kill the pair. He followed them until he was finally incapacitated and could no longer move, thus allowing their escape. (I fell in love with him when I was six years old and some neighbors took me to see The King and I, the big movie that year. Bless him that man had GRAVITAS...)

From the first episode of the HBO series, I sense this one is going to be much darker, more malevolent than the original.

It's eerie and evocative with lots and lots of completely naked hosts, all shapes, all sizes, all ages. Lots of shots in one scene of unclothed hosts sitting on stools taken from behind, their derrieres unflatteringly displayed. (Just imaging mine displayed that way made me put away the sugar free chocolate!) In the first episode, very little was not shown, particularly on the men. So this probably isn't something for young impressionable children to watch.

There was the usual statement about nudity and sexual situations so trust the disclaimers on this one.

There is also some graphic violence depicted with the "guests" cheering and guffawing as they shoot down the hosts one by one in horrendous, blood spurting gore.

After one particularly brutal scene, I thought "yep, I know where this is going..."

Anthony Hopkins plays Dr. Robert Ford the creator of the citizens of Westworld.  He is seen, an amiable Geppetto, examining one of his creations while he and Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright) examine a malfunctioning unit. The host has developed "reveries" or gestures which he was not programmed to do. They decide the gestures may be a precursor to more unlearned behavior, or in other words, trouble.

I have my thoughts on what will happen, but I'll save them for the end of the series. Let's see if I'm correct. Knowing HBO, they'll have some twists in this one, no one expects.

Filmed on location in Utah, the scenery is breathtaking, a true picture of the old west. The wooden town is surrounded on all sides with sand, scrub vegetation and majestic mesas.

Just remember this is the place where nothing can go "worrngg."


Friday, September 23, 2016

The Magnificent Seven

I went to the movies at the local multiplex this morning to make the 10:00 showing of the latest version of The Magnificent Seven.

Okay, I know you may have read or heard some reviews of this remake which were mediocre at best. But you know me. I'm never about tearing down any one's creation. As a classical singer, an actor, a theatrical director, a voice-over artist, and a dancer (in my youth) as well as an author now, I appreciate just how hard everyone has to work to bring together a creation. The result may not be Shakespeare, but if it entertains, it serves it's purpose.

That being said I enjoyed this version, even though the original 1960s film is one of my all-time favorite westerns, right up there with My Darling Clementine, High Noon, and The Gunfight at the OK Corral. I'm not talking Lonesome Dove here...the saga of Texas remains first in my yellow rose Longhorn-loving heart.

This new version of The Magnificent Seven, like the first one, is based on the story lines of Kurosawa's masterpiece The Seven Samurai.

This version has a much more diverse cast than either of its predecessors. The main cast list is as follows:

Denzel Washington as Chisolm - licensed bounty hunter and law enforcement officer
Chris Pratt as Faraday - a card playing gunslinger/lover boy with very fast hands
Ethan Hawke as Goodnight Robicheaux - the greatest sniper for the Confederacy, a legend
Vincent D'Onofrio as Jack Horne - a mountain of a man who is as efficient at killing as Bible quotations
Byung Hun Lee as Billy Rocks - an Asian adept at knives as well as guns (you may remember him as the master assassin in Red 2)
Martin Sensmeier as a Comanche named Red Harvest. (more about him in a bit.)
Haley Bennett as Emma Cullen - the young woman who hires the seven & in this one participates in the final battle
Peter Sarsgaard as Bartholomew Bogue - the wealthy villain of the piece

The cast makes a tight ensemble who work seamlessly together. Each individual fits in so well, they work as a cohesive unit.

The story in brief - A small town in the mountains of California has been overtaken by a robber baron who took over because of the gold in the surrounding mountains. He has built a mine and is reaping profits. Finally, he decides he wants the townsfolk gone. He and his men interrupt a church service. Surrounded by hired bad guys with guns, knives, etc. The town's citizens are mostly cowed. A few stand up to Bogue and are killed in cold blood for their defense of their rights. One of the victim's is Ellen Cullen's husband. The town was there first. Later upon witnessing Chisolm killing a wanted man in the saloon, Ellen Cullen comes to him and asks him to save their little town. He's not interested until she tells him the real villain's name. Chisolm, who has history with Bogue, decides to help her. With Ellen and her brother in tow, they go out and recruit "the seven." Quite a tale in itself.

The actors portraying members of  "the seven" do an excellent job creating their roles. You really root for them. Alas, as in the original script all but three of them are killed in the cataclysmic climax. So all is not happy in the end. Considering the size of the force attacking them, it's amazing any of them survive.

Vincent D'Onofrio, a favorite actor of mine - a method actor, who disappears into his roles, was a standout as a bear of a man.

Also newcomer Martin Sensmeier was a revelation. Descended from Alaskan and Northwestern Native Americans and Irish forefathers, he has a body like a Navy SEAL. In real life he is an advocate for fitness for young people of Native American heritage, as well as an ambassador for Boys and Girls Clubs of the USA. I heard the director interviewed on NPR yesterday. He said when he interviewed Sensmeier for the role of Red Harvest, the actor had long hair. But when he was cast he had cut his hair short. So the director looked up info on the Comanche people (the character he portrayed) and found the men sometimes wore a Mohawk style. So they shaved his head leaving the hair in a shortened version of the famous Mohawk. With his face painted fierce red, black, and white, he was a frightening spectacle, but an honorable man. Also, he was shirtless for the entire film...just sayin' girls.

The worst part of this film was the absurd number of horses thrown, flipped, or made to fall over in this one. Sigh...I don't approve, even if it's realistic, I'm an animal rights' advocate. I looked away from those scenes.

But other than that, this was a fast-moving entertaining film. The only thing missing for me was the incredible theme of the 1960s version.  Well guess what? That's the cover music for the end credits. As we Texans are known to say AWWWWWW RIIIIIGHT!!!

If you are fond of the original film, you'll enjoy this prepared to weep for some of the lost heroes.

Until next time...

Take Her Breath Away - The Lincolnville Mystery Series, Book 4 by Kathryn J. Bain

Romantic suspense noted author, Kathryn J. Bain has released her new novel, entitled Take Her Breath Away. This is the fourth book in her popular Lincolnville Mystery Series. She's done it again with a well-written novel of suspense and intrigue.

This is the story of Rayleene Davenport and her estranged husband, Ty who become embroiled in a world of drugs and danger.

When Ty is shot in the line of duty, Rayleene reluctantly offers to take care of him while he recuperates. Due to his status as an undercover cop, identity which is compromised after his injury, it is imperative for both of them to disappear.

They hide in small town Georgia where they have a cabin unknown to most of their friends. Rayleene takes care of him but doesn't warm to him. She's has evidence he broke the vows of their marriage and cheated on her. Rayleene has her own secret, one that could prove to be deadly for them both. They are each uncomfortable thrown together in such familiar and close quarters.

As they work their way through their damaged relationship, danger comes calling when shots are fired into the cabin. Later she is attacked on the street back in Atlanta and someone she loves is killed.

The peril builds to an exciting climax...

If you like a good mystery, this is the book for you. I devoured it, literally couldn't put it down. Ms. Bain gives us another memorable work, filled with intrigue, danger, and healing, a heady combination.

Check out this great story, available from today.

For the Kindle edition
For the paperback edition

Until next time...

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Award Winning Author!!

First I have to apologize for not writing most of this month. My PC was acting up and then out of commission altogether. But it's back now and so am I.

Forgive me also for sounding my own horn, but I wanted to share with you my big news.

Swept Away, Book 2 in my Touch the Sky series won First Place in the Historical Romance category in the 2016 Heart of Excellence Readers Choice contest.

I am told I can now call myself an "Award Winning Author." Who'd-a-thunk-it?

A novelist's life is a solitary one, at least when we're writing. You sit before your computer in the place you are most comfortable writing and stare at the screen for awhile until you decide how to best say what you want to say...

We all work differently, according to our nature. Some authors plan everything to the last detail before they start writing. Some of us have a vague idea of where we're going with the story, then sit down and start the screen staring bit.

I'm definitely the latter type and my blog posts are completely extemporaneous (or off-the-cuff.) It's fun for me to work this way, keeps me alert and interested.

Oh, there are times when I have to research for the story. For Swept Away, my research included life in Norfolk, Virginia in 1837; Members of the Powatan tribe in those days; a bit of the Powatan language; and literally everything about wooden sailing ships design.  You see, there are several merchant ships figuring in the story, a pirate or two, and a British Royal Navy ship. I had to determine the route taken to Casablanca from London. On the way two of the ships stopped separately off the Iberian Peninsula by a Spanish village of fishermen. Fortunately, I speak passable Spanish, so no research was required there...

All of these things put the pictures of my story in my mind and hopefully in the minds of the readers. It makes the tale vivid. It makes it a movie. Now I grant you there are lots of historical mistakes in most movies, but hopefully not in my novels.

Just when I was confident about my knowledge of merchant ships in those days, steamships were created in 1838-1840. So my upcoming book 3 of the same series, His Wicked Lady has everybody traveling faster because they are traveling by steamships - no more following the prevailing winds and adding months to the trip. Foster Shipping is a most forward-thinking company!

I want to thank the readers of my blog who put up with my nonsense. My following isn't huge like some authors have.  But I am proud to announce I've got over 21,000 views over the life of the blog.

I hope you all keep coming back.

Have a good day, free of politics, and a warring cable company who turned everything on my tv pink today. Don't ask...

I watched dvds on which the color is perfect this morning...Just got season 4 of Longmire, one of my all-time favorite series AND Captain America: Civil War. HooHah!!

For some reason my usual political talk shows just aren't the same in pink...They're hysterical that way, but bother my eyes. I mean I like pink but not so much of it...

Thanks for letting me blather on.  Have a great day, free of tropical storms and pink Donald Trumps.

I need some coffee...

Take care.

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Sea of Trees

Last night I survived Hurricane Hermine with my little dogs. It was the first Florida hurricane in my memory, although I did make it through at least two others in Miami as a small child.  Those storms were so long ago I have no memories of them.

Hermine turned out to be mostly bluster in my part of Jacksonville. We didn't lose power, didn't get much rain, but had lots of wind from midnight until about 10 this morning. Of course the aftermath of the storm still has us with intermittent winds of 20-30 mph with gusts of 45 mph.  Needless to say, I thought about getting out and going somewhere, but common sense prevailed. So I stayed in and searched for a movie to watch on pay-per-view.

Thus, I found "The Sea of Trees", an atmospheric, enigmatic film starring Matthew McConaughey, Ken Watanabe, and Naomi Watts. This one is also in limited release in theaters right now.

It's the story of Arthur Brennan (McConaughey) a science professor at a college in New England.  His wife Joan (Naomi Watts) is constantly sniping at him, disappointed in his lack of ambition. She is a successful realtor and pays most of the bills.

As the story begins, he parks in an airport parking lot, leaves his car unlocked with the keys on the seat, and shuffles into the terminal. Like an automaton he goes through the process of checking in for his flight to Japan. On the plane he refuses anything to eat or drink. On arrival, he takes a taxi to a train station and boards the bullet train. The older Japanese couple sitting across from him watch him with apprehension.  You see this train makes a stop near Aokigahara (The Sea of Trees) - also known as the Suicide Forest.

In case you've missed stories about The Sea of Trees, it is a forest at the foot of Mt. Fuji. For generations, Japanese citizens have gone to those woods to commit suicide. It is reported to be haunted with the souls of those who took their lives there.

When Brennan arrives at the forest entrance, he enters and begins trekking deeper into the woods. He runs across Takumi Nakamura (Watanabe) battered with cuts, bruises, and leaking wrists from a failed suicide attempt. Nakamura has apparently changed his mind. He asks Brennan to help him as he is lost and cannot find his way out. So Brennan bandages Nakamura's wrists and shows him the way.

But something is wrong, Brennan was certain he knew the way out, but he cannot find the path to the exit. While they stumble through the thick forest and the bodies of successful suicides in various states of decomposition, he has flashbacks of his recent life and what led him to The Sea of Trees.

Does this sound like a horror movie to you? I can see where it would, but it isn't. It's a journey of discovery born of loss.

The ending is lovely. What can I say? I'm a sucker for spirituality and the healing it can bring.

The biggest surprise for me in the film is that it was filmed in Massachusetts, even the scenes for The Sea of Trees. They had some long shots of Mt. Fuji, but the rest was made in New England.

I have always loved Ken Watanabe, he is a talented actor capable of playing any part. McConaughy has proven his talent, especially in recent years.  He was incredible in "Dallas Buyers Club." Naomi Watts is a talented actress who has played many different kinds of roles. They form a powerful triumvirate of actors who bring life to these characters.

Maybe I'm coming down off the high of surviving the hurricane with relative ease, who knows? This film affected me more than any film I've seen in the last few months, at least.

Available on pay-per-view, at least on Comcast, and in limited theatrical review, it's worth a bit of work to find it in your area.

This one will stay with you for a while.

Until next time, take care, and avoid big blowhards with fancy French names!!!

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Night Of ... HBO/BBC Mini-Series

First, I have to apologize for not posting this sooner as last night the final episode of this amazing mini-series aired. I was so enthralled, I wanted to watch the whole thing before reviewing it. Sorry about that. However, I'm sure it will be available in its entirety for HBO subscribers On Demand and will land on other viewing services soon.

Based on a BBC series, this one takes place in the New York City area. A young Palestinian-American, Nasir Khan (Naz), played by Riz Ahmed, is a college student. One Friday he has an important exam, which he aces.  Some of his friends urge him to come to their party in Manhattan. He politely declines as he's not the type who goes out much.  He is a practicing Muslim and stays close with other Muslims and Palestinians. He lives in one of the boroughs, I don't remember which. He rarely is in Manhattan at all.

But after his whole family goes to bed at 10:00, he decides he'd like to go to the party, after all. So he grabs the keys to the cab his father, uncle, and cousin share. He drives into the city. On his way to the party, he has to fend off a couple of men wanting a cab.  He tells them he's off-duty and finally persuades them he's not for hire. Later, at a stoplight, an attractive young woman gets in to the back seat.  He tries telling her he's off-duty, but she pays no attention.  She asks him to stop at a gas station/convenience store to buy beer for her, so he does.

When he comes back to the cab she says she wants to go to the beach.  He refuses saying it's much too far. He asks her if the river would be okay. So she agrees.  They end up on the riverbank drinking beer.  She is obviously under the influence of something she took earlier. She gives him a pill which turns out to be Ecstasy. Then they get back in the cab and go to her home.

There she gives him something else which turns out to be Ketamine, a major horse tranquilizer, which is sometimes used to put dogs to sleep. They begin to have sex. He passes out.

A couple of hours later, he wakes up in  her kitchen with no idea how he got there from the upstairs bedroom. High and fearful about getting home so late, he goes up to the bedroom. He finds her lying on a blood-soaked sheet, with blood spatter on the walls, and major stab wounds on her body.

In full panic mode, he grabs his clothes, dresses and runs out the front door, only to realize he left the keys in the brownstone. The door locked after him when he went out, so he must break the glass in the door to get back inside. Unfortunately for him, he is seen by the voyeur neighbor across the street. The man calls the police and the inevitable happens.  He identifies Naz as the man he saw running from the house.

Naz is taken in for questioning while the police enter the house and find her body. The forensic team follows and you can guess what happens.

Veteran actor John Turturro, plays a small-time attorney, Jack Stone, who sees Naz sitting in the holding cell in the station. So he says he's his attorney and is admitted to the cell to talk to him.

I must say Turturro's performance is perfect. His role is an actor's dream and he fulfills that dream on every level. I'm predicting an Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe for him next year. His performance is astounding in this one. Always a favorite character actor of mine, I loved him in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" one of the funniest films I've ever seen. I could watch it over and over. This performance tops that one in every way. Amazing job.

The supporting cast are all spot on in their roles including Glenn Headly, the high-powered attorney Naz's parents hire instead of Jack Stone. Trouble is, she wants him to take a plea and doesn't care he may well be innocent. She quits the case when he refuses before the judge. Amara Karan plays a young attorney who takes his case next, with Turturro aiding her. Jeannie Berlin plays Helen Weiss, the assistant DA who prosecutes Naz's case. Jeff Wincott plays Detective Lucas, the retiring NYPD detective who doesn't believe Naz did it, but he is in the minority.

Michael F. Williams, the late Slappy White of HBO's Boardwalk Empire, does an excellent job as Freddy Knight, the powerful prisoner/lord of Riker's Island.

Paul Sparks plays Don Taylor, the husband of the victim's late mother who will inherit a nice estate which includes the $10,000,000. brownstone where the victim was murdered.

Paulo Costanzo, late of the series Royal Pains, is another suspect. He was the victim's financial advisor.
Apparently he was embezzling from her accounts.

Neither of the above suspects are seriously considered by the NYPD nor the DA's office.

This series is a powerful piece of drama, which reflects the injustice often found in America's courts and prisons.

With incredible performances and a surprising end to the story, this is an award worthy series. Don't miss it, if you can take drama at this level.

Oh, one more thing, watch for the last appearance of the cat...just sayin'.

Until next time...

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Angry Birds the Movie

I don't know about you, but lately I have been inundated with serious films, sad ones which bring you down. Last week I saw Anthropoid and wrote a treatise similar to a dissertation, giving my readers a history lesson of WWII.  Sorry about that, but I call 'em as I see 'em.

On Friday night I happened upon a movie entitled Infamous. I've been disturbed by it since then. Starring Toby Jones and Sandra Bullock, it is another version of Truman Capote and the case that inspired his masterpiece In Cold Blood. Hardly a barrel of laughs...Interesting casting, though, with Daniel Craig (our current James Bond) with black hair playing one of the killers, Perry White. I remember the film Capote in which the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman gave an Oscar winning performance as the title character. As magnificent as he was, I like Toby Jones better.  He brought more pathos and humanity to the role. They explored the relationship between Capote and White. It was magnificent but a real downer. As in real life White and his partner on the crime spree, are executed in the end.

I give kudos to Jones, best known for the evil doctor, sidekick to the Red Skull, in the Marvel Avengers movies. Who knew?

Okay, okay, we're done with the downers right now.  After seeing endless promos for Angry Birds the Movie when it released earlier this year, I was mildly interested. Yes, I know about Angry Birds, many of my friends are hooked on it or were. I don't keep up with the latest game crazes.

Anyhow today I watched it on pay-per-view. It's child friendly (for the most part) but filled with sly winks and nudges that grown-ups enjoy.  It's funny,colorful, and a bit of a mystery about where some of the characters fit into their least it was to me.

I laughed like a loon as I watched it. I laughed harder when I read the cast list. To think Peter Dinklage, Tyrion Lannister of Game of Thrones fame voices the Mighty Eagle. He was wonderful and very funny.  The rest of the cast includes: Jason Sudeikis as Red, Josh Gad as Chuck, Bill Hader as Leonard, Maya Rudolph as Matilda, and Danny McBride as Bomb.  The list reads like a Saturday Night Live reunion with Kate McKinnon added to the mix. Also included is Keegan-Michael Key.  Talent, funny folks whose line reading leaves you laughing.

My favorite though was the bird mime (French style) who would only voice "Oh. My. Goooood!" at appropriate times.

This one is almost completely mindless, but hey, that's the point, isn't it?

With all the stuff we are exposed to in the media in this election year, it's easy to get mired in all the negative press on both sides.

We NEED Angry Birds for some light-hearted insanity once in a while.

Last night I watched The Peanuts Movie and howled my way through it, even though it was a rehash of things I'd seen over the years in the television specials.

Do something fun...we all need  it these days!

Until next time...

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


Well, it's another movie marathon as today I went to the cinema to see Anthropoid. Haven't heard of it? I'm not surprised. It's based on a true story of the Czech Resistance and the successful assassination of (SS) Schutzstaffel Obergrupenfuhrer Reinhold Heydrich in Prague in 1942. Third in the line of his command after Hitler and Himmler, Heydrich was the highest ranking SS (Schutzstaffel) officer assassinated during the war. Several other German high-ranking NAZI officers were hung after the Nuremberg Trials.

Brief history lesson - in 1938 Hitler called together the European Allies, who defeated Germany in World War I twenty years earlier, for a conference in Berlin. During the conference, he swore to them he didn't want another war.  If they would only agree to cede Czechoslovakia back to Germany, he would be content. See, there were lots of people of German ancestry living in that country. After World War I, the German Empire had been stripped of much of their territory. Many German speaking people found themselves in Czechoslovakia and Poland. Hitler asked only for the Saar back (the region renamed as Czechoslovakia.) He promised them peace if only Germany could get that region returned.

Poor Neville Chamberlain (English Prime Minister at the time) flew back to London and proclaimed "Peace in our time!" Bless him, within the year, Germany declared war on England and her European allies. He was replaced by Winston Churchill and you know the rest...

There were several high-powered Czech Army Officers who made it to London, just like Polish Officers who got there later.  Anyhow the resistance was run from London, whether it was the Czech, the Poles, or the French as the war progressed. So the Czech officers in London decided to send a team of resistance fighters to Prague. Their target was Heydrich. The creator of the Final Solution - the planned extermination of every Jewish person in Europe, along with Gypsies, LGBTQ people (known in the NAZI world as  "deviants"), insane people, criminals, and anybody else they didn't like (or who didn't like them).

Anthropoid is the story of the mission. It is atmospheric, bleak, and dark at times. With the subject matter it couldn't help being dark and bleak. But there are two romances in the storyline, borne out of the desperation of the times. The resistance fighters manage to execute their plan. Heydrich is badly injured but not killed in the attack. As you can imagine, the Germans are furious and begin searching Prague for the culprits. After Heydrich dies of his injuries, many innocent citizens are killed in the reprisals.

Eventually the Gestapo (which is a German acronym for Geheime Staatspolizei -Secret State Police) tracked down some people who helped the team. With savage efficiency they extract the knowledge of the hiding place after brutalizing a teenage boy. There is a last-ditch battle with none of the resistance fighters left alive. They had all been furnished with cyanide capsules as a last resort and most used them.

In the impotent rage of having no one for a show trial which could be filmed and shown to the German people at home, the NAZI's destroyed a Czech village in retaliation, killing every living thing there.  In all they killed over 5,000 people in their manic killing spree. You see the murder of Heydrich put a chink in their much publicized armor of invincibility. Other resistance groups began murdering NAZIs whenever possible. That and the allies bombing raids on the Vaterland (Fatherland - they would never call their home Motherland) (Insecure much?) marked the beginning of the end.

Of course Hitler's insane plan to open a second front by going into Russia ended in Germany being surrounded by oncoming enemies and the pincers closed. Otherwise, my German would be lots better than it is...

The cast comprised of mostly British actors is excellent in the film.  Notable are Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan as the two resistance fighters who are the main characters. Toby Jones (the sinister scientist of the Captain America films) plays a straight role in this one. He is one of the Prague contacts for the fighters. His suicide is poignant as his glasses drop off and he drops the cyanide capsule when the Germans break into his apartment. Feeling all over the floor, he finds it.  When they break the door down, he is already dead.

Most of the people at the movies today were my age or older, i.e.Vietnam era vets and their wives. It's sad that WWII is fading into the past as most people who lived it pass away. As many of you know, my dad was a WWII vet. I grew up watching archival footage of some of the battles with him. It taught me how insanity can overtake a country and run rampant.

Please you younger folks out there, it is important to remember your history. Remember the words of George Santayana:

Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it.

Until next time...

Monday, August 15, 2016


Nominated for several Oscars earlier this year, Brooklyn, is a lovely film, an atmospheric piece set in the late 1950s.

Starring a luminous Saoirse Ronan as Eilis Lacey. Living with her older sister and their widowed mother in Ireland, there is little opportunity for her there. With the assistance of her priest, passage is arranged for her, as well as lodging, and a position when she arrives in Brooklyn, NY.

The trip is harrowing at first as the sea is rough, but with the help of her cabin-mate, an older Irish girl, who isn't making her first voyage, Eilis makes it through.

The local priest, played by the versatile Jim Broadbent, has arranged for her to live in an Irish widow's boarding house. He has also arranged a job in a local department store in the cosmetics department. As the months go by, she becomes acclimated to her new surroundings and job.

Her landlady, Madge Kehoe (Julie Walters aka Mrs. Weasley in the Harry Potter films), herself an Irish immigrant, takes a shine to Eilis, ultimately giving her the best room in the place.

Encouraged by the priest, who pays for the first semester, Eilis enrolls in bookkeeping courses at night.  She does very well.

With some of the other girls at the boarding house, she attends a dance or two sponsored by the church. It is at one of those she meets Anthony (Tony) Fiorello (Emory Cohen). Instantly attracted, they start a sweet courtship which consists of walking home together, then graduates to going out for meals, and movies. He asks her to dinner at his family home. She has never eaten Italian food, so two of the girls coach her in the art of eating spaghetti.

He takes her to Coney Island where she wears a new swimsuit. Tony whistles when she emerges dressed in the suit. He takes her to empty lots on Long Island, where his family is going to build five houses. He asks her to marry him. She accepts.

Suddenly, her sister dies of an illness no one ever knew she had. Their mother calls Eilis home.

Back in Ireland she faces conflict as she is charmed by a local man (Domhnall Gleeson), encouraged by her mother and her best friend. But I won't spoil the story for you by revealing anything else about the storyline.

This film is beautifully shot, expertly acted, and very well-directed. A story of coming of age in a different time and place, in a sense, their experience is more gentle than ours today.

It is a picture postcard of America in the late 1950s. For those of us who are old enough to have been sapient lifeforms in 1958, it is like looking through gauze in an era far more restricted than ours now. Did I chafe at those restrictions back then? You bet I did. Now I marvel that I made it through those days.

The performances are wonderful. Looking at Jim Broadbent's kind and caring Irish priest, you'd never believe he once camped his way through "Like a Virgin" in the film Moulin Rouge.

See Brooklyn, it is a wonderful water-color tribute to a time of innocence, the like of which we will never know again. Enjoy.

Until next time...

Saturday, August 13, 2016


I'm planning to go back to the movies this next week. In the meantime, I caught a movie from 2007 on cable this afternoon.

The film is entitled Breach and is based on a true story of the FBI investigation of one of their own. The performances in this one are of the heavy weight acting calibre, so are the stars.

Chris Cooper plays Robert Hanssen, an enigmatic man, though clearly troubled, with a wife played by Kathleen Quinlin and several grandchildren.

Ryan Phillippe plays the young man, Eric O'Neill (who hopes to become a FBI Agent) put in place as Robert Hanssen's clerk. He is to report to Agent Kate Burroughs (played by Laura Linney.) Her superior is in charge of the operation, Dean Plesau, (played by Dennis Haysbert).

The main cast is completed as follows: Caroline Dhavernas as Juliana O'Neill (Eric's wife.); Gary Cole as Special Agent Rick Garsey; and Bruce Davison as John O'Neill (Eric's father.)

Eric is initially told Hanssen is being investigated by the Bureau for being a "sexual deviant." (Shades of J. Edgar!) They have pornographic films he watches, and others he made with his wife. A devout Catholic, regular attendee at mass, he is a complicated man.

Eric becomes close to Hanssen, going to dinner at his home, and going to church together with their wives. He's supposed to do that in his role for the FBI. But it becomes clear he is conflicted as he gets to know the man.

Hanssen is suspicious of Eric and keeps testing him. But finally decides to trust him.

The film's pacing is taut, as the FBI keeps trying to get the goods on Hanssen only to have him do the unexpected and wriggle away.

With Eric's help, he is eventually caught. Eric pays a heavy price emotionally for the deed he did. Though the Bureau is grateful and he is assured of his appointment to agent, he does not accept. Instead he leaves the FBI.

There is a chilling scene at the end when Eric is leaving his former office with a box of his possessions and catches an elevator as the doors are closing.

Hanssen is in the elevator with Dean Plesau and an armed guard. Hanssen is cuffed behind his back. He looks at Eric with red-rimmed eyes and says "Pray for me" as the elevator closes.

As I wrote earlier, this was a real case. Hanssen is spending life in a maximum security Federal prison.  He is under solitary confinement twenty-three hours a day. They said in the film, Robert Hanssen was the most dangerous spy in the history of the U.S. He was active for decades. It is classified how many American agents were killed because he betrayed them. The film credits at the end stated 3 American agents were executed by the KGB.

This film is hard-hitting, one of those OMG-I-want-to-look-away-but-I-can't movies. I wanted to read email on my iPhone, but kept getting drawn back to the film...

If you like a good tight mystery that chills the viewer in its reality, check out Breach on the premium cable channels or rent the DVD/Blu-Ray.  It's worth it.

Chris Cooper is a phenomenal actor and gives an Oscar worthy performance in this one. Ryan Phillippe is no slouch either.

Check it out!

Until next time...

Friday, July 29, 2016

Jason Bourne

Yep, my movie marathon continues.  Today I went to see Jason Bourne on the day it opened!! Woohoo!!!
No, I didn't go to the very first showing. It was the XD version, which means 3D, greatly enhanced sound, and shown in a very luxurious theater with fancy seats equipped with electronics...It also means a "greatly enhanced" ticket price, too.  Besides, a Bourne movie isn't what I want to see in 3D - almost too much action as it is.

I made it to the first "regular" showing which started an hour after the XD one.

This is a great film franchise with the hero going through incredible scenes and always coming out at the end with no one he can trust.

This film, Jason Bourne, is no exception to the pattern of the series. We find him deep undercover, his whereabouts literally unknown in the beginning. He is fighting for money in the countryside near the Serbian border.  Crowds of men encircle him and the huge Serbian champion betting on his opponent to win.  Of course he doesn't. Bourne makes enough money to continue his travels.

Meanwhile we find his old partner, Nicky (Julia Stiles) in Iceland going to a secret facility for world-class hackers. She hacks into the CIA and finds all the dirt they don't want publicized. She copies the files and plans to broadcast them to the world. While doing that, she finds out info on Bourne - how he was recruited, who he was, and who his father was. Trouble is, the CIA noticed those files being hacked, slipped in some malware, and pinpointed the location. Nicky got a copy of the files on a drive and was about to leave when the systems there went down.

Yep, the CIA pinpointed their location and sent a missile, or drone to destroy the place.  Nicky got out just in time before the place exploded. She contacts Bourne who tells her to meet him in Athens. Trouble is, the CIA has found her picture on facial recognition entering the airport and traces her to Athens.  They are on the move, figuring Bourne will be there, too.

Tommy Lee Jones reprises his role as Dewey, the head of the CIA. He wants Bourne found and wants him taken out. Bourne is such an inconvenience, knowing where all the bones are buried. A young woman who found the hack asks to be put in charge of the operation. Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) is ambitious and cold, just the kind Dewey likes. But he mistakenly thinks she can be easily manipulated.

I have to say Tommy Lee Jones is a marvelous actor.  Recently I watched a repeat of the last episode of Lonesome Dove, in which he played Captain Woodrow Call. He was magnificent as the crusty ex-Texas Ranger.  In the end, he had me weeping buckets.

Quite a difference from his portrayal of CIA Director Dewey, an arrogant, frostbitten villain.

He calls in his Asset (chillingly played by Vincent Cassel) to find Bourne and "neutralize" him.

Thus begins a murder spree and a hair-raising series of car chases, culminating in the big one through the Vegas strip.  It's a particularly fast-paced thrill ride. No, I didn't want to see this one in 3D.

When it's all over, Bourne is battered but still free.  Lee makes one more attempt to get him to trust her and come back to the CIA.  Bourne, however, is way ahead of her. He leaves her and walks away.  When she gets into her car, there's a camera waiting on the front seat which contains her meeting with the head of National Security in which she says she can make Bourne come back and if he won't he can be taken down.

Thus, Bourne is seen walking away, once more alone and friendless, but living to fight another day. He has avenged his father's murder in this one, but still has some scores to settle.

Never boring, this movie flies along at warp speed. The reason I don't want to see it in 3D is an unfortunate tendency at times to get motion sickness with a lot of fast moving action onscreen. Today in the regular movie format, I bitterly regretted downing the protein bar I brought from home. I just wanted to alleviate the yearnings when I could hear and smell everybody else enjoying their popcorn. Big mistake there. Note to self: don't ever eat ANYTHING watching another Bourne film in the theater.

Actually, this is a great action picture. There is literally never a dull moment. Matt Damon is a wonderful actor who plays Jason Bourne with ruthless efficiency and world-weary disgust at what he has to do. He is essentially a good guy stuck in a nightmare world.

I saw him interviewed recently in which he was asked if he would do yet another Bourne film. His answer? Of course he would...Looking forward to it.

What a great way to get out of the summer heat and become engrossed in a good movie.

Until next time...

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Absolutely Fabulous: the Movie

"Sweetie, Darling, Let me in!!!" If you've ever watched the Britcom called Absolutely Fabulous or AB FAB for short, you know PR mogul, Edina Monsoon has a snootful once more and is begging her much put upon adult daughter, Saffron (Saffy) to let her in the house. She can't quite figure out the complexities of opening the door...

This was an outrageous television show and the movie carries on the tradition. The cast remains the same for the main characters with a veritable host of British fashion, film, and television stars playing themselves.

Jennifer Saunders plays Edina. She also wrote the script as she did for the television show with her writing partner comedienne Dawn French.

Johanna Lumley recreates her role as Patsy Stone, the ultra chic fashion magazine editor and Edina's best friend.  They do everything together.

Julia Sawalha plays Saffron, Edina's daughter.

Jane Horrocks plays Bubble, Edina's rattle-brained assistant.

June Whitfield plays Mother, Edina's slightly out of it aged parent.

So Edina is having a tough time with her PR business. Down to one client, singer Lulu, she is desperate to sign someone else. She had dictated her autobiography to Bubble, but didn't read it before giving it to a publisher.  When she met with him, she found Bubble had written the beginning paragraph as she heard it. But everything afterward in what looks like a 100,000 word manuscript is "blah, blah, blah..." Edina expected a big advance, but of course, gets nothing.

Hearing supermodel Kate Moss is seeking new representation, Edina and Patsy put on their fashionable best (in Edina's case it's an elaborate hodgepodge as usual). They go to a big fashion affair where designer and Sir Paul's daughter, Kate McCartney sees them come in. She tells a friend, "She better not be wearing MY clothes!"

Edina sends in her granddaughter (yes granddaughter, these two are indeed long in the tooth) to speak to Kate Moss, who is sitting on the terrace wall overlooking the Thames. Edina rushes over stumbling along the way.  She and Pats have prepared for the evening in their usual manner drinking champagne and vodka, taking whatever pills they can find, and topping it off with a few tokes of weed.  Needless to say they are both wasted.

So the inevitable happens, Edina stumbles into Kate Moss, knocks her off the terrace wall and into the river, where she disappears. A police search is held but she is not found. Everyone at the party immediately says Edina murdered the popular model. They loudly and viciously turn against her.  She is detained by the London police. Finally, she is released while they investigate. She is told not to leave the country. Her daughter is dating one of the detectives, which complicates matters further.

She becomes a prisoner in her own home with crowds of the international press outside the gates and people screaming insults. The last straw is when a brick sails through one of her windows with a note saying "I hate you." She's the subject of all the newscasts and newspaper headlines. While the populace makes a large shrine beside the Thames to Kate Moss.

Naturally Patsy is with her. Both of them broke, they manipulate someone to fund their voyage, someone else to impersonate them, and they slip out to fly to France.  On the cheapo airline, the only one they can afford, they run into the world's rudest flight attendant, played by Rebel Wilson.

Their adventure truly begins across the pond. They are confronted with their age, learning what old lovers think of them, etc. True to their nature, they find a way to manipulate their situation to their advantage and learn next to nothing from it.

The film is a hoot, with a host of memorable scenes. Lots of British and a couple of American celebs play themselves.  Look for Gwendolyn Christie, the Lady Knight Brienne in Game of Thrones; Lulu; Stella McCartney; Joan Collins (who looks magnificent for her age); John Hamm, who turns out to be one of Patsy's former lovers (he tries to run away from her when she approaches him); Graham Norton, who DOES run away from Edina; and Dawn French (much thinner than in her Vicar of Dibley days) to name but a few.

There's no message to this film and nothing socially redeemable. I guess if you like that sort of thing I'd say,

"You can't keep a party girl down, no matter her age."

This one is loaded with foul language, inappropriate references, etc. So if you don't like that sort of thing, be forewarned.

Whether Edina and Pats are fleeing the gendarmes in a stolen seafood truck, or Saffron is serenading a club full of drag queens by singing "I learned the truth at seventeen..." until all the queens are in tears, this one is a comic treasure trove, usually at the expense of the main characters.

For all of us AB FAB fans, this one has been long in coming. Go and enjoy it!

Whew, that's my mini movie marathon - two movies in two days, seen in theaters.

Until next time...