Category Archives: Movies

Creature Features & Jigsaw Puzzles

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I have a clear memory of watching Creature Features with my mom in the basement of our townhouse in Illinois, which she had turned into a rec room with a ping-pong table, TV, stereo, etc. It was Illinois, if you missed that in the preceding sentence, 40 miles north of Lake Michigan, where it got so cold that if you dropped a record on the floor it would shatter like a dinner plate. (This actually happened.)

I’ve always said I remember putting giant jigsaw puzzles together with my mom while we watched scary movies, and generally, but I was trying to call up a specific memory of this and it’s not working. It actually doesn’t even make sense. The only table we had in the basement large enough for a 1000-2000 piece puzzle was on the side of the room that didn’t have the TV. The stairs were in the middle. Right in front of the stairs was a little storage type room my dad used as a darkroom for photography. On the right side was a TV, sofa, coffee table, etc. On the left side was an old dining room table, another sofa, and the stereo system. We would have had to use the old dining table for the puzzles. So how would we have been watching Creature Features at the same time? Memory fail.

Even though I enjoyed these campy horror movies at the time (because mommy was there), I’ve disliked horror since. Pretty much the entire horror film genre falls into the dislike pile, but I do reserve some exceptions for books, Stephen King in particular. It’s not because the movies themselves are all terrible; it’s because I don’t enjoy having my emotions manipulated to that extent. Now you’ll say I don’t mind the same thing when it happens in the romcoms. And I’ll just shrug. Because people are inconsistent, and I’m a people too. Shockeroo!

The two Creature Features that stayed with me all these years I dub “Coconut Sea Monster” and “Alpine Beheader.” The first was about guys on a military submarine who kept getting murdered brutally cuz one of them had morphed into a monster due to radiation exposure. We didn’t see the murderer until the end and he looked like he was covered in coconut. It was really freaky! The otter one was about peeps trapped in a ski resort during a blizzard and some snow vampire kept grabbing one at a time and ripping off their head. Icky!

You know, this could very well be why I dislike both sailing and skiing. A-ha!

Still love coconut though. Nothing comes between me and a coconut donut.

As far as jigsaw puzzles, still love doing those, but don’t have room for them in my current place, can’t isolate one from the kitty anyway, and they seem sort of time-wastey when I have so many otter projects I want to finish as far as writing and needlework and staring at the walls. Someday though… when I retire maybe, bring on the jigsaw puzzles again! Hey, I wonder if they have Creature Feature puzzles? That could be a thing.

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Creature

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That’s Entertainment

Entertain

Along with many other things, I’ve become extremely picky wrt movies as I’ve aged. It also helps to have an enormous variety from which to choose. I have several theaters nearby, access to Amazon Prime, Netflix, HBO Now, and my own library of DVDs. When I’m in the mood for a flick, I don’t have to settle for any old yawner.

The bottom line about a movie for me is entertainment. If I want to read about an event from history, I’ll look that up myself. I don’t want to see two hours of a long, dragged out battle or unrelenting gore. Gah. Of course there are exceptions, like if Brad Pitt is plotting to kill Hitler, I’m in. I don’t want to watch a bunch of robots, zombies, or Bruce Willis. I don’t like horror and mostly dislike science fiction, unless it’s really compelling and/or about human relationships primarily, not blasty laser battles. Forex, I liked The Martian, Arrival, and Blade Runner 2049.

I love a good romcom, which basically means one starring Meg Ryan. There are a few others in my fave list, such as 27 Dresses and My Big Fat Greek Wedding. But not many. Most are awful, unless they star Meg Ryan. Oh, Sandra Bullock did some good ones too, but now she mostly does those /who needs men anyway/ movies, which are even better. One is coming up later this year ~ Ocean’s 8 ~ and I’m totes seeing that (have to see the otter three Oceans first).

Love mob movies. One of my fave movies of all time is Goodfellas. Love spoofs of mob movies too ~ Analyze This! And of course The Sopranos on HBO rocked. (A bunch of series shows are fab ~ GOT, SFU, BB, G&F, etc.) Comedies generally? Depends. Some are great, some horrible.

I thought I would enjoy seeing old musicals on Prime, but I have to admit I don’t. They’re so boring. Guess I’m a newer musical lover only. Sound of Music, Chicago, Walk the Line, My Fair Lady, Fiddler on the Roof, Zorba the Greek, Grease, Hair, Mamma Mia! A sequel to Mamma Mia is coming this summer, yay! I just saw The Greatest Showman and liked it a lot.

Regular dramas? Hit or miss. It just depends on the specific movie and I can’t count on reviews at all. I don’t trust Rotten Tomatoes/critics because my opinion doesn’t gibe with the norm. Forex, I loved Collateral Beauty and it received crappy reviews; Baby Driver was raved about everywhere and I found it mediocre. Loved Lion, didn’t like Manchester by the Sea. Enjoyed The Accountant, and I think a sequel is coming. Other films I liked last year include Lady Bird, Kingsman, The Big Sick, Wonder Woman, and The Glass Castle.

I’m planning to see Molly’s Game and Phantom Thread at the theater soon. Those both look interesting via their trailers. I’ve completed S2 of my Game of Thrones rewatch and am enjoying it just as much (if not more) the second time around. My list of wanna-sees on Prime etc. is long and getting longer, almost as impossible as my list of books to read. But those are both nice “problems” to have, right? There is always some form of great entertainment around. What a wonderful luxury!

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Entertain

Twice Upon a Yesterday

Red umbrella

[Warning: this poast will contain extreme spoilers for the above 1998 movie, aka The Man with Rain in His Shoes and If Only, depending on the country.]

When I noticed that Prime was showing Twice Upon a Yesterday starring Lena Headey from Game of Thrones, I decided to watch it even though the storyline didn’t appeal to me that much. I generally don’t go for rom-coms with science fiction elements, but ever since I finished my GOT binge this summer and have been waiting for S8 like everyone else, I’ve been missing Queen Cersei. I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see Lena.

TUAY has an interesting take on the concept of do-overs with certain things amenable to change, while others seem inevitable, even if they are reached via an alternate path. Of course, we are not treated to every possible universe in TUAY, only two, and teased with a third at the end. In U1, Victor cheats on Sylvia, confesses, and she dumps him. He tries to win her back before she marries someone else, telling her what an idiot he was, how much he loves her, etc., but he fails at this and ends up in a bar where he’s given a red umbrella. The umbrella is apparently a key to unlock time travel. Victor next encounters two dustmen who give him the chance to do-over his confession, which he does, lying about his affair instead.

In U2, Sylvia is happy because she doesn’t know Victor cheated on her. Victor hurts the woman with whom he cheated on Sylvia by coldly dumping her, but that’s fine ~ we’re supposed to be rooting for the Victor/Sylvia romance. Victor is happy once she’s gone and all is well. Except… Sylvia ends up meeting her lost fiance from U1 anyway. They still fall for each other. Would this happen in every universe? Well, we don’t know. So far, we have two for two. Now, Sylvia cheats on Victor while he remains faithful. Sylvia leaves Victor and they both end up with new loves, but Sylvia’s doesn’t work out and she wants Victor back. She goes a bit insane too.

The movie ends with Sylvia coming into possession of the red umbrella and getting her chance at a do-over. At which point will this one begin? How will things work out in U3 now that Victor seems very much in love with the bookstore girl?

Normally I wouldn’t have enjoyed such a goofy movie, but something really held my attention here and it wasn’t just Lena’s fine acting. Everyone is fab in this film, and the fantastical plot is somehow more intriguing than it seems at first glance. I guess we’ve all indulged in these what-if scenarios, haven’t we? What if I could go back in time and do something over? Where would I start? What would I change?

It’s a fun and hopefully harmless waste of time, ultimately pointless, like fantasizing how to spend our lottery winnings.

My Take on PassionFlix

I know my blogfans can’t wait to hear what I haz to say about PassionFlix: “a premium streaming entertainment service that will provide your fix of classic romantic movies and launch original film adaptations of romance novels.” [quote via Bustle]

Honestly I was pretty freaking excited about the concept, one which I thought of myself ages ago. I mean, of course I thought of it ~ why wouldn’t I? There are so many mediocre romcoms (and lots of great ones too!) and so many good romance novels; it’s only natural to wonder why “they” don’t make the better ones into movies, beyond P&P. It puzzles me, forex, why no Jennifer Crusie romances have been made into movies. Faking It could be a super fun movie, among others. Bet Me, Welcome to Temptation, etc. Then there are the old-timey romances with dukes and pirates. Peeps luv pirates. So much potential!

Anyway, after reading the Bustle article, I ran right over to the PassionFlix site, thinking hey maybe I will subscribe right away! But um… none of the books they have on their list to be made into movies are ones I’ve heard of. Some of the authors ring a bell, like Sylvia Day and Jill Shalvis, but not in a happy bell ringy way. Oh well.

They also stream other romantic movies, so I might sign up for a couple months just to be supportive of the concept. We’ll see. It’s a great concept. Maybe eventually there will be a Crusie book movie. A girl can dream…

And I know some of you are suspicious (or hopeful) that this is simply a pr0n site. Well, it does have a “barometer of naughtiness” (lol), but from the streaming movie list, it doesn’t look that way, unless you consider these movies pr0n:

“We have everything from Moonstruck to Thomas Crown AffairClueless to Last HolidayOverboard, BabyBoom, Roman Holiday, Strictly Ballroom, Love Story, Like Water for Chocolate, Bride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Mansfield Park, Kate & Leopold, She’s AllThat, Sabrina and Wuthering Heights. [from the Bustle article]

Unfortunately, I’ve seen almost all these movies, or can easily get them from Prime or wherever, so the only thing that would really tempt me to join would be fab original content. As I said… maybe later on.

Buffet Paralysis

Choice is good; too much choice leaves me paralyzed. Not talking about dating again, though I could be, but that’s too boring. I’m talking about social media generally ~ there is simply too damn much of it now. When we had only Usenet (BITGOD), supplemented by our frantic, gossipy, occasionally flirtatious backchanneling emails, that already took up way too much free time, especially for those of us trying to do Serious Writing. Gawd forbid if we had Real Jobs too, yipes.

Then came, what, some other drippy sites, then blergging, then faceblop, which isn’t just one thing now, but has spawned into a devilmass of special groups to soak up every fucking minute of the day. Yes, you can turn off all those notifications, and I have. Also, there’s twatter and instapeep and group chats on messenger… and this doesn’t even touch actual news sites and e-magazines we might want to read and a constant flow of shows to watch via Prime or ‘Flix or whatever thing plus books on Kindle all piled up and regular books too and it’s all driving me insane. Good for you if you have a handle on all this shit. Yay you.

I’m paralyzed by this. I feel if I neglect Facebook and chats, then friendships will fade, especially with people I don’t see in meatspace. If I give up Twitter, then I won’t have a “presence” to promote the books I never write anyway. Instagram is no big deal to spend less or no time on, but it takes up the least time in the first place, so that doesn’t help much. I already don’t read as much as I’d like to, for a writer. I don’t actually watch many movies at home and no TV shows now that Game of Thrones is done for a while. I’ve been writing nothing this summer, nothing at all.

Summer’s almost over and I’m really bummed about my lack of progress. I have a few new poems this year, that’s it. No inspiration for a new novel and only a few more ideas for poems. BITGOD I used to feel I had plenty of time to myself, plenty of time to write, even time to exercise after work, and I have that same amount of time now… I just have to stop letting the internet steal it. September is always a good time for me to make a fresh start. Perpetual student here.

~*~

PS: Don’t bother looking up BITGOD since I just invented it. Use your noodle. 🙂

Twelve Years Gone By

Please excuse my lack of bloggery… I was busy attending my daughter’s wedding. ❤

I seem to be out of writing mode, which will change shortly as I’ve rejoined a great prompt group that meets weekly, plus September always motivates me. I’m a student at heart. New school year, crisp notebook, let’s go!

But in the meantime, I wanted to say something, so I decided to turn to my trusty old Ultrablog archives. Apparently I said nothing 10 years ago (hard to believe), so I went back 12 (I don’t like elevens). Twelve years ago I was married, had two children living with me, and for some bizarre reason went to see the Dukes of Hazzard movie.

Now, if you had asked me point-blank an hour ago, Paula, did you ever see the Dukes of Hazzard movie? I would have said no and I would have probably even denied knowing there existed a Dukes of Hazzard movie. But archives do not lie! And if Google Drive says I saw a movie, then I saw it. I suppose in the scheme of things that forgetting the Dukes is no great loss. I hope I don’t forget anything important however, such as a subthread from Game of Thrones.

I said I liked the movie except for Burt Reynolds being miscast as Boss Hogg. I also said the TV Roscoe was funnier and I was disappointed that “Boots” played over the credits at the end and we didn’t get to see the sexy car wash scene. I have no idea what I meant by that. The Nancy Sinatra song? Wha? I suppose I could look all that up, but someone will know, so I’m not going to bother.

I really miss when my online writing friends blogged instead of blopped on Facebook. FB is junk food for writers ~ and not even the good junk food like tacos or Oreos, but the worst junk food like those skinny yucky pretzels. You can sit there for hours and eat a million of them and you’ll never be satisfied, only thirstier and thirstier.

Pretzels

Tick Tock

It’s after 9pm and I’ve accomplished nothing tonight.

Well, that’s not precisely true. I spent time calling and emailing peeps in attempts to fix mistakes and figure out confuzzling stuff. But there’s so much more. I feel completely stressed out by all the things. I haven’t written any poetry lately, though I’ve scribbled down ideas when I’ve thought of them. That’s not the same though, a couple words here and there. You lose the mood, the feeling, the gestalt of the piece.

I didn’t do much over the long weekend because I didn’t feel well. But that’s not really true either. I cleaned a bunch, hung out with friends, watched fireworks, crossed a lot of items off my list. I keep adding stuff to the list though! I’ve been reading a good book (Ted Chiang’s Stories of Your Life), but I wasted some hours watching bad movies too. 😦

It seems as though all these electronic time-savers just gobble up more and more time. I long for the days of the checkbook and pencil ~ I am officially old now. So many of my hours are eaten up by “helpful” technology, a sparkly illusion of convenience. No, I’m not giving any of it up or asking for advice; I’m just complaining, right here on my laptop connected to the internet. It’s what I do.

I have a million tabs open up there… mostly poetry sites I want to check out, maybe to submit stuff, or to get ideas, or whatever. They’ve been open for days, maybe a week. But I’m not looking at them tonight ~ I’m too tired now. W10 wants to update again, but I can’t let it cuz I’d have to close the tabs. These tabs, and the whole North Korea problem… it’s all making me very anxious.

Happy belated 4th (USA readers), day late, dollar short.

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Illusion

Fireworks

4AM

I watch from my window
While your tail lights vanish in the rain.
The streets smearstain
Into a red and green fingerpainting,
Flickering with the traffic signals,
As fickle as your interest in me.
Blurred and tearstreaked,
The wet masterpiece
Stays illuminated
By a cold lemondrop moon.

I know I’ll never see you again.

All the frothy promises
And cottoncandy plans
Dissolve in the morning mist.
My lips still hum from your kiss,
But I feel your vague disappointment,
Your perpetual darkness
Guarded by barbedwire.

I wander outside to feed the ferals—
Two slinky shadows, silhouettes cut from coal;
Crunchy nuggets clink into the cats’ dish.
How I wish I could make a wish,
But there are no do-overs here.
I always fail with a complicated man;
I don’t respond well to the tortured genius soul
Who needs the perfect femme fatale,
A Marilyn to his Al.

I fail with the uncomplicated too.

You told me I was nothing like her,
The ex who depressed you—
I thought that was a good thing;
But now I imagine you search
For her likeness,
In hopes of recreating some sick
Woody Allen type lobster scene,
To find catharsis
And absolution.
And though I sneer and snark,
I want to play a part
In this execution.

I gaze up at that judgy stone face,
Unflinchingly—
In my disordered state:
Jammie pants, damp coat,
Tangled mass of bedhead.
“Is it something I said?”
Yes.
I ponder this relationship chess;
I might just be on the precipice
Of finally understanding
Something,
Anything,
A small piece of this
Jagged, glassy, bloody puzzle.

“Is it something I didn’t say?”
Also yes.

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Precipice

Spectre

Seriously, don’t even read this at all if you plan on seeing the flick.

Spectre

*****SPOILER ALERT*****

Still here?

You haz been warned.

OK, I saw Spectre yesterday, and it was a lot of fun as Bond movies always are. Craig does an awesome Bond (and I was one of the original skeptics). Overall, I recommend the movie to Bond fans and action movie lovers in general.

But.

I was disappointed in a couple things. Right at the start there was something I considered a faux pas. Bond’s in a hotel room with a beautiful girl and tells her he’ll be right back. He goes off to kill a guy, get chased, leap across rooftops, etc., as he does… and then the film cuts away to the opening song and credits. Wtf? The Bond of old would have kept the date and they should have shown that. (“Now, where were we?”)

Next, I did not like two of the main plot twists. One, Franz the villain turns out to be Bond’s brother via (Bond’s) adoption, which leads to a bunch of babble about Franz killing their father out of jealousy and always having it out for Bond cuz he stole daddy’s attention. Ugh. Yuck. Two, Franz announces that he has taken his mother’s surname and is now called Blofeld (complete with white cat). No! No no no no. This was not a REMAKE of an old 007 flick, but a progression in the life and times of James Bond, and it’s totes uncool for them to grab back a done and dusted bad guy. (Supposedly, Blofeld died at the start of For Your Eyes Only.) What next ~ Scaramanga? Goldfinger? There was no reason not to have a new bad guy with a new name “reboot” Spectre. No reason at all.

I think writers should be a lot more careful with reboots/remakes and the like. Either you stick to the original and update it with cellphones and shit, or just move the hell on and write something new. Certainly don’t take a franchise and grab stale fries from fifty years ago to scatter about a film in the here and now. That’s kind of a cheat, and we know what happens to writers who use cheats a la Stephen King’s Misery.

My last criticism of Spectre is more basic. I object to this kind of SOS writing we’re seeing in action movies lately of having the hero always be a dude who is bravely going against his own government because of one flimsy piece of info, and then it turns out his boss is in cahoots with the villains, or is the biggest villain of all, blah blah blah. Usually Alex Baldwin plays a belligerent general at some point. Then, there are always one or two other peeps in the gov’t who believe in the hero and help him save the world, thereby putting their own careers in jeopardy. Yawn.

I am sick of this storyline altogether. Write something else, dammit.

Other than these minor nits, I enjoyed the movie. If it’s true that Craig is tired of playing 007 and tossing out his tux, I look forward to the next actor (rumored to be Idris Elba).

007

PS: Here are some other reviews I found interesting.

Silverado Country Fair

Rob and I went to a fair yesterday in Silverado Canyon, about 25 miles inland. It was so hot out! My car temp was 106F when we headed back. Despite that, the fair was really fun. We saw a bunch of cool art, met some of the artists, and did a craft ourselves. I was really pleased to find some dangly kitty earrings made of real silver, just like some I lost years ago, for only $10. I polished them at home and they look adorable.

Here are some fair pix…

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Donkey looks sad all cooped up. There were cute goats too and their owner said they’d been “debutted,” which made me feel too bad to take their pic.

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Rob is weaving by crisscrossing various blue yarn strands in a grooved cardboard disc. I did one too in browns and called the result a monkey’s tail.

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We decide to take a cookie break…

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Zomg! There’s a cookie in my cookie! It’s like a turducken… or would be if there was a PB cup on top of the Oreo. (Bakers, take note.)

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Rob won a yellow monkey in the beanbag toss! Lookit his long fluffy tail! The monkey’s, not Rob’s.

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Rob gave the monkey to me (aww, thanks!) and we decided to name it Donovan ~ Donny for short. Can you figure out why?

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I wuvs him. 🙂

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I bought a toy for Gatsby, and as you can see… he’s utterly thrilled.

After the fair, Rob and I went to see Mission Impossible ~ Rogue Nation at the $3 theater to get some A/C. Fun movie! And the freezing cold Coke Icee hit the spot.

What a great day. I love fairs.