Tag Archives: reviews

Sunday Funday Questions

Via The Haunted Wordsmith

1. Who is one fictional character you would love to see more of?

– Lots! Mrs. Maisel, Grace & Frankie, all the main GOT characters like Dani, Jaime, Tyrion, Cersei, Varys, Samwell, Jon, Arya, etc.

2. Early to bed, early to rise … or I’ll sleep when I’m dead?

– Generally I’m in bed around 11pm and asleep by midnight (I’ll usually read a bit of garbage news first and/or blogs). I’m always up early and never sleep past 7am, but usually am awake way before that, between 5-6am.

3. Have you ever complimented someone but thought the complete opposite?

– Probably, but I can’t remember doing this specifically. If I want to compliment someone I dislike or give a positive review to something I didn’t much care for, I can find a way to creatively not lie outright. Not that I have a problem with lying outright if I have to. Life is complicated.

4. What is your favorite classic arcade or computer game (MS-DOS age)?

– Ladybug.

5. If you had to pick one song that best represented your life, what would it be?

– Stones by Neil Diamond.

6. Which Halloween character would best stand a chance against Santa Claus and his elves?

– The Night King. (Sorry, GOT on the brain.)

7. You can swap lives with one historical figure for a day…who would it be and why?

– Eva Braun, to kill H* early on.

8. Aliens have landed…do they come in peace?

– Sure, they even brought cookbooks. 😂

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Comedy Is Hard

It’s easy to be funny on the fly ~ most of us have come up with a zinger or three and cracked up our friends. I do it pretty often, but a lot of my jokes fail, especially in text. Imagine being funny for 5 minutes straight or 10 or 30… think that’s easy? No, it’s not.

Beware of the man who insists he’s funny all the time and humor is easy for him. They are manipulative and scary. There’s a reason why so many people are terrified of clowns ~ I’m not, but I get it. When you don’t laugh at the clown, he gets angry, very angry. It’s never his failure to be funny; it’s always you not getting it.

I love parody, but it has to be good. Crappy parody makes me cringe. I’ll give you an example. I think Alec Baldwin’s parodies of Trump on SNL are crappy. They’re simply imitating Trump’s stupidity, not adding any dimension to it. When someone came out portraying Bannon as Darth Vader? That was great parody! Larry David’s parody of Bernie Sanders had me on the floor. So effing funny.

One of my favorite parodies of all time is the film Analyze This! It gently mocks the entire mob movie genre, starring Robert DeNiro as a caricature of all the mob guys he’s ever played. I love it so much. Billy Crystal is wonderful as the straight-man psychiatrist.

I love language-centered humor and wordplays. I find a lot of country music has super funny lyrics, which is why I roll my eyes at peeps who dismiss it outright. Have you ever heard “She’s Got a Way with Words” by Blake Shelton? Omg hilarious!

The best kind of humor imo is the kind that’s intertwined with the story, not the focus of it, but inevitable, despite drama and trauma, because ~ let’s face it ~ you have to laugh at the absurdity of life lest you go completely bonkers.

Or you can do both. Some people are better at multitasking than otters.

MoviePass Update

If anyone was wondering why I haven’t poasted any movie reviews lately, there are two main reasons.

First, when I went up to NorCal for a week in early October, I got out of the movie-going mood. Even though there were some new ones I was interested in, when I returned I was all… meh, who cares. Other things seemed more important to prioritize in my free time.

Second, MoviePass finally got sucky for me, just like others have been complaining about for a while. It became increasingly difficult to find a movie I wanted to see at a convenient time and place. MP does that deliberately to save themselves money ~ the app kept going dark to make sure I got so frustrated I gave up. Finally, they pulled my nearby E-ticket theater off the preferred list, so only crappy movies were available. That’s when I canceled my membership.

No biggie. From June through September it was a great deal and I saw 16 movies at a sweet price. Now I’m just back to where I was before.

I think this weekend I will see both A Star Is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody as early matinees. Those aren’t bad prices (around $6 or $8) and I really want to see these two movies. One, the previews are fabulous; and, two, they will motivate my writing. In the novel I’m writing for NaNo, two of the characters are in bands.

Do I know anything about music or bands? Hell no! But that never stops me. I’ve also written about true love and the mob, going strictly from hearsay. Or is that heresy? 😜

Finally Recognized for Mah Awesomeness!

This time a big super duper thank you to Parallax! I didn’t get any awards on the book of face, but here in Blogland everyone is awesome, brilliant, and gorgeous! How do I know this even without seeing their photos or IQ scores? Because they like me, silly, and bestow upon me great honors. Yayyy!

Happy happy dance la la la… what? Oh, apparently I am required to do things for the award. Omg rules. 🙄🙄🙄

K, I thanked Parallax and gave a link. My award poast? You’re looking at it, kid. A brief story of how my blog started…

To cope with an unhealthy relationship, I started this blog in March of 2011. I’d had other blogs previously but went blogless for a while. 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. I began poasting whatever… stuff from the news, though not too much partisan politics, movie reviews, my ideas about writing, migraine awareness, whines regarding dating sites, etc. Since I used Facebook for my main source of social media interaction, I didn’t worry about increasing my blog readership or linking to other bloggers, etc. Once I deleted FB this year however, that changed. It would be pretty dull to blog sans feedback, so I made a point of doing prompts and interacting with my fellow bloggers, which of course makes the whole thing much more fun.

Okay, it’s not brief ~ sue me. My two pieces of advice for new bloggers are: do not feed trolls and write about yourself or things that interest you personally rather than trying to generate hits via a formula.

I tag everyone reading this, if you haven’t been recognized specifically already! 🌺

10 Influential Books

Now we’re talking! The Haunted Wordsmith asks us for 10 books and I decided to use only those I gave 5 stars to on Goodreads. Couple reasons. One, I can take screenshots of ’em to show not tell, and isn’t that what writing is all about? Two, if they aren’t right in my face, I might have trouble remembering them (like the mystery tidal wave movie yesterday). Three, I gotta have some way of narrowing down the books I love into a list and this is as good as any. Let’s begin!

1. This is a children’s book with universal themes of loneliness, friendship, abandonment, imagination vs reality, and feeling outcast from your tribe. It has really stayed with me.

2. I had already been enjoying the detective novels of Lawrence Sanders, but the McNally series notched his writing up to a whole new level for me. I realized you could fall in love with a flawed antihero who made mistakes, stepped out on his girlfriend, and overindulged in food and booze. Our protags don’t have to be perfect; in fact, they’re more interesting when they aren’t.

3. Crusie’s Welcome to Temptation showed me a fresh and sassy narrative voice that gave me hope for my own. Faking It continues this voice that I’ve fallen in love with and adds a fabulous plot, so mixed up and crazy, but somehow seamlessly blending with the love story, not jangling against it or tacked on as an afterthought.

4. I literally could not put down this book. I never knew I could even enjoy a memoir ~ I thought they were all boring celeb brags. This book is incredible (the movie just so-so).

5. What can I say ~ I named my cat after this book. The most beautiful writing to hit the page, so lovely, so poetic. I never get tired of its lushness.

6. The first and best book in the series. A gift from a friend, which captivated me so much I began watching the show, and it is incredible. I don’t normally go for fantasy and/or sci-fi, but GOT is an exception that breaks every rule.

7. Even though I didn’t list any Stephen King novels here, I have enjoyed many, as well as his short stories, and this book on his craft is a treasure. I recommend it to all writers.

8. This is the novel that hooked me into Murakami’s writing. I picked it up at B&N, sat down, and read the entire thing without pause. Then I began buying his books ~ my favorite is probably his short story collection Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman.

9. Speaking of shorts, Ray Carver is my favorite short story writer, and this is my favorite book of his collected work. But they’re all great! He writes down to the bone, cuts to the essence of an idea, nothing extra, no poetic loveliness a la Fitzgerald. I love both types of writing, no need to choose!

10. And now TULOB, my very favorite book of all time. Absolutely brilliant. The movie doesn’t do it justice at all ~ you must read the book, again and again. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I feel bad I didn’t include any poetry books (Mark Strand, Robert Frost, e.e. cummings, etc.), or Margaret Atwood or Rosanne Cash or Faye Kellerman etc. etc. etc., but again, like I did with the movies, I tried to focus on what influenced me over time, not on what I merely enjoyed a whole bunch.

Happy reading 📖!

10 Influential Movies

The Haunted Wordsmith asks us to name 10 movies that influenced us. That’s a hard question ~ I’d be able to more easily choose books. But I’m up for the challenge!

1. When Harry Met Sally. I love this movie. There are so many fabulous quotes from it (and I’m not usually a person who goes around quoting from movies). Harry is hilarious! However I don’t feel the romance between Harry and Sally is ideal at all ~ I dislike him as a romantic hero for most of the film, plus they break up, etc. He’s a jerk, let’s be honest, even though he improves, unlike yer average dude. But the romance between their sidekicks (Marie and Jess) is the one to aim for ~ love at first sight, no turning back, boom.💥

2. Risky Business. It’s sort of a stretch, but I saw this movie alone in Chicago during a time I had a crush on a guy in my computer class. After I watched it, and received the “sometimes you have to say what the fuck” message, I acted more assertively toward the guy. Of course, the ensuing drama was to my detriment and I ended up moving to California not going to Princeton. 🙄

3. Mystery flick. Saw this with my mommy around 1970 in the theater. It was some kind of sci-fi disaster story about people who had survived an apocalyptic event and were stranded out on a rocky ledge of land. Or they might have been prehistoric peeps. Either way, they believed blond hair was evil and they had to cover it with black goo to avert more catastrophe. Then there was a giant tsunami anyway. This made me scared of water and that has informed my writing. Anyone know the name of this movie? 🌊

4. Candyman. Impossibly scary. Omg 🐝! And it turns out I am allergic to bees and wasps. Was hospitalized for shock after a sting. Gahhh!

5. Analyze This! Hilarious flick which set me up to love The Sopranos. Before AT, the only mob movie I liked was Goodfellas, but now I pretty much enjoy them all. 😀

6. Doctor Zhivago. Life sucks and then you die, even if you’re rich. So, if you have a choice, don’t live somewhere hideously cold like Siberia or Chicago. ❄️

7. The Devil Wears Prada. 👠 You’re not too good to work at a fashion mag even if you have a snooty journalism degree. That’s all.

8. Life of Pi. 🐯 It’s a great storytelling gift to narrate a tale inside a tale such that the audience forgets that’s what is happening, and the narrator could be unreliable. At the end, we are asked to do a bit of work and figure out what to believe; we are never told. This interests me greatly and I have tried to write in a similar style at times.

9. Alex & Emma. You can overcome writer’s block when there are mafia enforcers after you and your publisher refuses to pay until you produce. Good to know! 😂

10. You’ve Got Mail. 💌 I learned that in fiction you can meet your soulmate, lie about your identity, deceive your current partner… and the happily ever after will still materialize. For a long time I thought this could translate to real life, so it did influence me because it seemed perfect and romantic not cheap and creepy like it actually is, but I finally realized that all this stuff is best left on the page or screen.

There are a zillion movies I love but would not include on this list because they haven’t influenced me. Musicals, forex, and most romantic comedies. Most dramas and mysteries, however enjoyable, haven’t done anything to change my POV. I chose the above films carefully, only listing those that actually have had a lasting effect on me in some way.

What are your 10?

PS: I just realized 3 of these movies were directed by Rob Reiner! I’ve been way too influenced by the meathead! 😂😂😂

Two for Tuesday: Book Reviews

1. The Duke Buys a Bride by Sophie Jordan. This is a classic romance novel, so we know how it ends; the fun is (supposed to be) in getting there. The novel begins well enough with Marcus (the Duke) awakening in a horse stall with only a vague memory of what happened the night before. I thought maybe some sort of mistaken identity puzzle or murder mystery would need to be untangled along the way to the happily ever after. No.

Marcus finds Alyse being “auctioned” in the town square by a husband who no longer wants her, and in an impulsive act, Marcus “buys” her. Even though the Duke is an educated gentleman who knows you can’t buy a person (well, there in England anyway), he feels responsible for Alyse now because she has nothing and nowhere to go. Of course, being a Duke, he acts like a jerk about it. Alyse knows he’s a jerk, but she has no choice at the moment except to accept his help.

That’s it. That’s the plot. Alyse and Marcus travel north to his estate in Scotland, and they fall in love, despite Marcus being a jerk and Alyse being a commoner he can’t possibly marry, ha ha ha.

I gave it two stars, which was generous.

2. Strangers on a Bridge by Louise Mangos. Now this first-person suspense novel has a unique twist: what if you save someone from suicide and then wish you hadn’t? The concept grabbed me, which is why I chose this book from my October Kindle first pile. And it is a good hook. The problem is that Alice (you remember Alice) is so annoying. She does the dumbest things one after another. I don’t like her husband either, and they have a terrible marriage ~ hard to believe it was good before she saved Manfred, with the crappy way they communicate, or don’t rather. Yet, I had to keep reading to see what happened, so there’s that.

And it’s fun to see how frustrated she gets with the Swiss police, so ploddingly slow and skeptical with her stalking complaints, until of course they suspect her of something, and then suddenly they’re super competent and on the ball.

As stupid as Alice is, the stuff she does near the end is unfathomably bizarre, so I have to conclude she is just a nutcase all along.

Three stars.

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! 🙄

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.

In Praise Of The WP App

No, they aren’t paying me. Though they could, if they wanted to. I wouldn’t mind. 🙂

I was not an app fan, until lately. Why do I need to clutter up my phone with dumb icons, I used to whine? I can just go to the websites. But then I got clued into the fact that apps gobble less battery. Ooh, that’s nice. Next I realized that Twitter is actually better on an app. Can’t explain ~ it just is. After that came the banking and insurance apps ~ not only more convenient, but more secure. Well!

But that’s enough. I’m certainly not going to write lengthy poasts and emails on apps, I sniffed. I need a real keyboard for these dreamy endeavors. And then I destroyed my laptop on July 4th with a glass of iced tea. Whoops! Since I didn’t feel like running right out and buying a new laptop, I began using my phone for everything. Including those long emails and bloggeries.

That’s where the WP app comes in. Not only is it ideal for starting and saving draft ideas, it also has a great newsfeed. I can read, like, and save other poasts! 🤩 In the past, whenever I wanted to save another blogger’s poast for linking later, I had to keep it open in a browser tab. Sometimes I screwed that up and closed it. Now, all saved poasts are in a tab in the app. So fab! Easier to select categories and tags via the app and to schedule poasts. Also, it’s easy peasy to edit or delete one of my own published rants and do blog admin stuffs.

It’s not perfect, alas. This morning I was forced to return to the browser newsreader when I realized that the app reader had missing poasts. Yep, there was a 6-hour window in the middle of the night through which a pile of poasts up and fluttered bye. 🦋 Sad! And the browser newsreader felt clunkier than ever. I could like poasts but not save any. There were annoying “you might like these” blogs mished in with the ones I follow. This made me appreciate the WP app even more. They need to keep the windows closed though.

However, fingers x’d, I am picking up a new (used) Mac tonight, so I will have a real keyboard again shortly. As the days grow shorter, I will resume my favored position of sitting at my kitchen table, WIP in front of me on the screen, while staring out the window at nothingness. But I will keep any beverages far, far away from the puter! 😜