Category Archives: Books

Two for Tuesday [movie reviews]

SPOILERS!!!!!

1. A Simple Favor.

This is one of the movies I was really looking forward to seeing. The previews were so tantalizing… and after watching Henry Golding slay in Crazy Rich Asians, I wanted to see him in another role. Plus, I was predisposed to like the female leads: Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick. Am I now going to say boo I hated it? Nope! I loved it. It was fabulous!

However. I would not have liked it as a book. Generally, I say to myself, self, I like the written version best and the screen is never as good as what I can imagine from the words. But not this time. There were several elements, one in particular (which I hesitate to reveal even to those who don’t mind spoilers), that are on my hate list. If I see this on a novel description, I won’t read the book. Yep, that bad. But I didn’t mind it in this movie.

There were other things that would have annoyed me as a reader ~ I would have paused and thought wtf? Why is this here? Gratuitous backstory weird sex scene. Unnecessary veering into the possibility of the supernatural. But the movie was too fast-paced to pause and think. It was just damn good fun with a satisfying ending.

I walked out grinning like an idiot. Love these three actors. Blake was especially great.

2. Puzzle. This is another movie I had been trying to pin down on Movie Pass and finally gave up. So, I just went and saw it on Sunday with a few friends. Odd flick. Not what I had expected.

I didn’t much like the protagonist. She’s supposed to be some sort of repressed genius whose mind works too damn fast for her mundane life, yet apparently not fast enough to pick up a book or any kind of smart hobby all these years until someone gives her a jigsaw puzzle. And then she doesn’t know where to buy another puzzle without traveling an hour or so by train into Manhattan to a special puzzle store. Because this genius has never heard of Target.

But they need her in the big city for the plot to work, so okay. And it seems we are supposed to dislike her husband, except I don’t. I actually dislike her new man, so there’s that. I don’t like people who jabber psychobabble at you that ostensibly is supposed to make you feel good about yourself, but is ultimately designed to manipulate you into doing what they want all along. I have a big thing about that actually! 😡 Oo Paula’s issues! But it was still an interesting movie overall about family dynamics and such, and I’m glad I saw it.

I’m looking forward to Colette, A Star Is Born, The Old Man & The Gun, Serenity, The Nutcracker & The Four Realms, Bohemian Rhapsody, Robin Hood, Welcome To Marwen, Mary Queen Of Scots, and Mary Poppins.

Geez, that’s a lot of movies. Good thing I have my trusty pass! 🙄

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The Pink Cupcake [a dating story]

A couple people have asked about my blog icon photo, so here’s the Saturday night special version. This isn’t a funny dating story with a twist at the end, but a stupidly sad one, or a sadly stupid one. Take your pick.

I had a relatively popular blog from 2004-2007ish. Then I grew weary of the (self-imposed) pressure to come up with funny and/or interesting poasts several times per day. Back then, I grabbed a lot of my topics from the news, including political stuff, and wasn’t afraid of generating arguments; now, I avoid this.

For a while, I tried keeping a super light blog about cats, cupcakes, and shoes only, but it became too boring for everyone, including me. Then my mom died, and my marriage broke up. Those two things aren’t related, but they’re both at the top of the life stress scale. I latched onto the first person who offered emotional support… and I fell in love with him. And he was married ~ one of those who was just waiting to leave when X happened, but then X turned into Y, and then Z. (He’s still there, living in the house with his wife long after X, Y, Z, yada.)

So, to cope I started a new blog, this one. My first poast was March 25, 2011. I didn’t talk directly about my relationship of course, since he knew about the blog too, but I would poast song lyrics and excerpts from books I was reading that alluded to it. Later, after we broke up, I did write a bit about how I felt at certain points, though I’ve probably deleted most of that now. Long-time readers will know him as TMW, short for “the man who broke my heart.”

In 2010, for his birthday I bought cupcakes for us. Not a cake because obviously he wouldn’t be able to take it home with him. I took a pic of mine ~ it was strawberry with a chocolate heart. Later I realized the heart was broken and I thought it was a neat pic. When I began the blog, I decided to use it for my “subtle” profile photo. If anyone asked, I figured I could say I was planning to resume doing cupcake reviews again. But I’m not planning to do that. I just like this photo. It’s held up over time.

Peanut Butter

I stole these 26 questions from Fandango, who snagged them from Barbara, at Teleportingweena. But I have an issue with 26 (yes, including our alphabet, annoying). Twenty-five is a great number, and oddly enough (hehe) so is 27. But 26? Meh! I guess I can think of it as 13×2 and be okay that way. That’s what I’ll do then: renumber the questions halfway through.

1. Share your profile picture.

– Which profile? Here’s one from last year, taken at the happiest place on earth.

2. Who are you named after?

– Paula Abdul.

3. Do you like your handwriting?

– Like Fandango, I used to have great handwriting, but now that I’ve gotten older, it sucks.

4. What’s your favorite lunchmeat?

– Peanut butter.

5. Longest relationship?

– I had a good relationship with my dad from the day I was born until he died in 2013 just before I turned 52.

6. Do you still have your tonsils?

– Nope.

7. Would you bungee jump?

– NFW!

8. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?

– Sometimes.

9. Favorite ice-cream?

– Coconut chocolate chip.

10. What’s the first thing you notice about people?

– That they’re too close to me.

11. Football or baseball?

– Neither.

12. What color pants are you wearing?

– White lounge pants with grey and pink flowers.

13. Last thing you ate?

– Peanut butter on a banana.

1. If you were a crayon what color would you be?

– Ultraviolet, baby.

2. Favorite smell?

– Cinnanommmm.

3. Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone?

– One of the partners at work.

4. Hair color?

– Light brown plus some silver.

5. Eye color?

– Hazel (this feels like filling out a dating profile now).

6. Favorite food to eat?

– Seafood pasta.

7. Scary movies or happy endings?

– Romantic comedies with happy endings.

8. Last movie you watched?

– I rewatched American Gigolo a few days back because it came up on Prime. Saw it over 30 years ago and liked it a lot. Didn’t like it that much this time. I didn’t sense any chemistry between the leads; it was just trashy and sad.

9. Favorite holiday?

– Loved Fandango’s answer, but I’ll go with New Year’s Day.

10. Beer or wine?

– Neither. Alcohol triggers migraines.

11. Favorite day of the week?

– Sunday.

12. Three or (four) favorite bloggers you want to learn more about?

– Anyone who plays along.

13. Added info you didn’t know you wanted.

Buy my books!

Insomnia

When people come to you for help, what do they usually want help with?
-Some emotionally distressing thing that I will listen to nonjudgmentally

What takes up too much of your time?
-Insomnia

What do you wish you knew more about?
-How to fall asleep

What would be your first question after waking up from being cryogenically frozen for 100 years?
-Now that was a great night’s sleep! Where’s my phone?

What are some small things that make your day better?
-Catnaps and cats

Who’s your go to band or artist when you can’t decide on something to listen to?
-Oldies mix from the 60s or 70s

What’s the best way to start the day?
-Painfree

What shows are you into?
-Waiting for the end of GOT

What TV channel doesn’t exist but really should?
-Dunno, only have internet

Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?
-My daughters

What age do you wish you could permanently be?
-14

What TV show or movie do you refuse to watch?
-Historical borings, gory horror, animated, preachy, most other stuff…

What would be your ideal way to spend the weekend?
-Pampered at a luxury spa

What is something that is considered a luxury, but you don’t think you could live without?
-Cell phone/internet

What’s your claim to fame?
-I dumped Facebook

What’s something you like to do the old-fashioned way?
-Nothing

What’s your favorite genre of book or movie?
-Lately suspense (shocking!)

How often do you people watch?
-Not much, would rather read

What have you only recently formed an opinion about?
-Beets, favorable

What’s the best single day on the calendar?
-Every day is a good day to be single

What are you interested in that most people haven’t heard of?
-Synesthesia

How do you relax after a hard day of work?
-Stare at more screens like a boneless zombie

What was the best book or series that you’ve ever read?
The Unbearable Lightness of Being

What’s the farthest you’ve ever been from home?
-Maui

What is the most heartwarming thing you’ve ever seen?
-My girls being awesome to each other

What is the most annoying question that people ask you?
-“Have you tried [whatever thing] for your migraines?”

Friday Crabfest [ranty rant NSFW]

I didn’t get a great night’s sleep and am feeling blah despite being on vacay, but I have found some energy to complain, yay!

First, I hate shopping for clothes in stores. Now that I’ve been spoiled by the vast selection of clothing online and the ease of clicking quickly to search for exactly what I want, regular meatspace stores drive me nutz. They have nothing but black! Is everyone going to funerals 24/7? Fucksake!

Also, I tried to find a casual beige or blue jacket or sweatshirt last night for my trip, but nopey nope. No jackets allowed. It’s summer, so stores will sell me sleeveless things only. I’m feeling too lethargic to try again this morning, plus who wants to spend an official vacay day at the maul? Yuck! Guess I’ll wear my lumpy old grey sweatshirt, boo.

Onto books. I have a lot of new books on my Kindle, which is great and all. I try to be openminded toward new ways of writing even though I’m old (and crabby) (don’t forget crabby), and I have grudgingly come to accept the multiple POV novel told in first person, even though for decades I found this utterly appalling. But there was always the first person rule about not saying stuff like “and then I died,” and it damn well applies to multi views too. Jesus GAWD how do these people get published and not me, waaah!

Okay, I would like to know what people did before there were leaf blowers. Seriously. Did leaves pile up on walkways and create big leafmonsters that swallowed up little children? Did they swirl into leafnados on our streets creating traffic hazards? I need to know what in the FUCK makes it so important for these nasty noisy machines to pollute the air every morning.

I was reading Foxnooz as I do because they have the best snake 🐍 and alligator stories, and I saw some bitching about how Keith Ellison got a pass from the liberal media on his alleged girlfriend abuse. So, I looked that up, and no he didn’t. But since she refuses to let anyone see the vid, what more is there to say? I am no fan of Ellison, btw, but this is just one more example of how the rightwing media blatantly lies to their consumers.

Finally, Del Taco fries 🍟 are not as good as they used to be, which is sad, but actually not because now after a couple experiences of meh DT fries, I’m no longer going to stop and get them for an occasional treat on the way home from work. Dunno what has changed, but the yummy factor is gone. Could be me, idk. Don’t think so because I still love Jack in the Box curly fries just the same. (I think it’s DT.) Unfortunately or maybe fortunately, there’s no JITB on my way home.

That’s all. We now return you to your regular stream of poasts about puppies 🐶 and rainbows 🌈.

Share Your World 1

I lied. I said I wasn’t going to participate in these Facebook type listicles, but this one looks fun and I’m bored. Bored? Didn’t I just download ninety-one new romance novels for free from Amazon? Yep, that is correct.

1. In regards to puzzles what’s your choice: jigsaw, crossword, word search, mazes, logic or numeric puzzles, something else, or nothing?

-Puzzles! Love jigsaws, grew up with ’em, but alas there’s no room for one in my little apartment, plus my kitty would attack the pieces. Crosswords are great ~ used to try to do the Sunday NYT with my dad. I have one game on my phone and it’s a modified word search (WordBrain). Fun! But not addicting like Words with Friends. I used to love logic puzzles back in the day when I bought puzzle magazines. Not a huge fan of the sudoku, kinda boring. Meh on mazes.

2. List at least five favorite treats and it doesn’t necessarily have to be food.

-whenever “Hotel California” comes on the radio. I know I can listen to it whenever I want to, but when it plays unexpectedly that is a real treat.

-whenever someone agrees to play a full pie of Chinese Checkers with me (three triangles each), knowing it will take forever, and turn into a giant clusterf*ck, but it is so fun.

-when I can hang out with both my daughters (and now my granddaughter too) at the same time.

-catching a gorgeous sunset.

-frozen lemonade and roasted corn at the Orange County Fair.

3. What is your favorite type of dog?

4. What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?

-Seeing Mamma Mia 2 with a good friend!

Thank you for the great questions, Cee.

Everyone Is A Writer

One of the blogs I follow had a link up to a zillion free romance novels on Amazon today. I took them all because… why not? The lovely thing about free books is that if they’re boring or otherwise unappealing after a page or three, I can toss them aside without a second thought. Well, not literally toss, since these are books on my Kindle, and I’ve destroyed my quota of devices for a while.

But wow… here was another reminder that there are so many writers. So many people have put time and energy into creating a written product, for a hobby, maybe hoping to turn it full-time, and, eventually, the books don’t sell and are given away for free. These aren’t writers like me with a couple reviews from friends ~ these novels have racked up hundreds of reviews. And yet. And still. They’re in the giveaway pile.

Zing. Ouch. Reality stings.

Writing Misc.

I’ve read a few books lately that have broken some “rules.” They’ve mixed first-person and third between chapters. They’ve included pieces of a “destroyed” diary in italics, so the reader would know what was going on when the first-person protag didn’t. They’ve told stories in the present tense, first-person, and then stuck in an epilogue from another character. On and on. Yet, I enjoyed these novels. Just shows to go ya!

*

I don’t have writer’s block. I’m not sure how to describe my “ailment.” I’ve written a boatload of bloggery lately, a bit of it fictional, some poetry for Twitter, etc. I still feel that all my previously outlined story and novel ideas have potential… but I can’t work on them, given my lifestyle.

One, I’m no longer capable of getting up at 5am and writing for a few hours before work. Just can’t do it. Maybe once a week, but not consistently like I did 10 years ago.

Two, I’m not capable of writing fiction for 3-4 hours at night after work. Or even two. I’m tired. I can fling off a blog poast and some texts, but my eyeballs rebel at doing solid screen work.

Three, I’m too OCD to let my cleaning and chores mount up on weekends to write. I need to get stuff done. And I enjoy seeing movies, hanging with friends, and, most of all, spending time with family when I can. I’m not going to give up that stuff to pound out chapters of a book only a dozen people at best will ever read. Not motivated.

But that’s not the same as writer’s block. If I had the time ~ if I were retired, forex ~ I’d be cranking out those stories like I did years ago when I had more energy. They are still in my head. Dunno how long they’ll stay there. That’s a different issue.

*

Conversation with my daughter…

Me: I don’t feel safe putting my documents in the cloud.

Sharon: Why not?

Me: Because I’ve already shared a photo folder with people, so they might be able to see all of them.

Sharon: You’ve sent emails to people. Can they read all your other ones?

Me: Good point.

Sharon: Now I know how Mark Zuckerberg felt in front of Congress.

My Independence Day

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I celebrated this July 4th by flinging off my self-imposed yoke of fiction writing tyranny. Hurrah! Instead of dumping tea into Boston Harbor, I spilled it all over my laptop and destroyed my keyboard, thereby depriving myself of the means to gaze at the screen wondering why a best-selling novel authored by me doesn’t materialize while I screw around reading the news. Tuesday I had a meltdown while visiting my daughters because I’m so frustrated and stressed over my lack of writing progress and success, so I suspect the tea spill was a subconscious rebellion.

Of course I could buy a new laptop, but I don’t want to. My hard drive is fine and safe, if anyone cares, and most of my stuff is backed up, but I can’t write fiction on my phone. I feel relieved. I spent the day watching movies and doing NOTHING. I’m tired of telling myself that the minute I get home from the office, after typing on a computer all day, I have to start working on a novel or else I’m failing at life. Most nights I don’t even write ~ I just sit there, tired and miserable, staring at the screen, until I crash into sleep.

Maybe my subconscious was also at work when I titled my last book of poetry All She Wrote. At the time, I meant it about a specific situation… or so I thought. In any case, I don’t intend to stop blogging or tweeting, or even writing the occasional pome, all of which are phone-friendly. I’m only talking about giving up the agony of fiction writing and the hopelessness of self-promo. These nowhere goals have been adding to my depression. (I probably shouldn’t use the word depression, but since I allow people with regular bad headaches to call them migraines, I figure I can haz a pass.)

These are the movies I watched yesterday:

1. Spaceballs! So freaking funny. I can’t believe I never saw it before. Loved it. Just what I needed to cheer me up. And whatever happened to Daphne Zuniga? So pretty! She was in a sweet romcom with my honey John Cusack back in the day. What was that? Be my google.

2. Winter’s Bone. Yikes, what an intense movie. I can see the appeal of Jennifer Lawrence now. She is incredible in this utterly bleak yet fantastic film.

3. The Age of Innocence. Generally I don’t like narrated movies, but there are exceptions to every rule, and this is one. What a lovely film. Everyone was superb. Daniel Day-Lewis is such a gifted actor ~ what a shame he retired.

I plan to feast madly on movies and books from now on. Other people have created delicious art and I’m simply going to nom up theirs and shoot down any idea that I need to write a novel, should such a crazy notion ever raise its nasty serpentine head again out of the tangled jungle of my mind. Begone, slithery, sanity-stealing, ego constrictor of doom.

Freedom!

Earning the Ending

HEA

I think most of us like to feel that an ending is deserved in a book or a movie and that applies across the spectrum of genres. I’m only going to discuss romances however. The other night I watched Set It Up on Netflix after reading a glowing review from Vox. Meh. While the office humor was cute, the romance aspect was basically all snark and zero chemistry. The ending basically consisted of the protags going hey we might as well get together now since we’re both free and sarcastic. But there was no real epiphany or character arc or anything interesting wrt either one of them. What’s sort of ironic is that this is how we often behave in real life, since people don’t like to work for things (work? waaah!), which utterly sucks ~ and idk about you, but I want my fiction to be better than real life!

Compare this to one of the best romcoms of all time When Harry Met Sally. The protags change during the film and make the audience feel an anxious longing for them to work through the obstacles preventing them from being together. When Harry runs through the streets of New York City on New Year’s Eve to find Sally, we’re right there with him, feeling his desperation. Harry and Sally both grow as characters during the film (which takes place over a decade) and do more than just snark at each other to create sparks. Think about your favorite romcom ~ you’ll likely agree that the protags have to change and overcome character traits or fears in order to be with their soul mate. This doesn’t just happen via lazy banter and geographical convenience. Love should be earned and fought for, not handed out in the last scene like a party favor.

The same goes for romance novels, which are heavier on the romance and lighter on the comedy (though the best ones are witty too). I recently read two that seemed similar cuz they both were about fictional dukes in England around the same time period, but one had an earned happily ever after ending and one did not. They were both enjoyable, for different reasons, but I gave one 3 stars and the other 4, because of the earned aspect.

In How to Forget a Duke, neither protag changes significantly during the novel other than falling in love. The main issue that keeps them apart is resolved by someone else fixing it, not by either the hero or heroine figuring out a way around the issue or deciding it is not as important as their lurve. That gave me the sads. But in From Duke Till Dawn, both protags change during the novel (and more than once) and have various epiphanies about each other, themselves, and life in general. It’s a really good book and the ending is earned. I didn’t give it 5 stars because I simply can’t bear ridiculous coinkydinks, and if a duke with his massive resources can find people anywhere, why couldn’t he have found Cassandra when she disappeared the first time? Anyway…

I’m glad I stumbled across that Vox article I linked in the first para because it referenced The Daily Beast’s 2014 essay declaring that the romcom is dead, which I hadn’t heard before. Is that true? TDB makes a good argument for it ~ and I haven’t seen many (any?) decent new romcoms in the last 5 years or so. I loved The Big Sick, if that counts as one, but even if… that’s just one. Can you think of any other recent big-screen romcoms?

Oh well, there are still are romantic books to read. Remember books? 🙂