the fall film challenge recap

December 12, 2015

one. any set in new york city. the intern. i wish they'd cast someone other than anne hathaway. normally i don't mind her. but you can't pair her with someone like robert de niro. and the dude who played her husband? he basically ruined this movie for me.

three. any that features a child as the main character. stand by me. so good. SO, SO good. best movie on my list. easily. i don't know that i'd watch it again, though. i feel like once is enough.

four. any disney film. brave. i dozed off a lot in this one--not so much that i was oblivious to the plot and all, but... ugh. the only thing i liked were the triplet's scenes.

ten. any mentioned in denim in the oscars: a look at jeans in cinema. erin brockovichi liked this one a LOT (except for aaron eckhart. pansy). i'd watch it again.

eleven. a film about a knight. gladiator. man, i miss richard harris on the screen. that man had mad skills. connie nielsen's pretty good here, too. the rest of it, though... meh. not russell crowe's best work. and i definitely did not care for the story.

twelve. a love story. the duff. it's cute. completely unbelievable, of course. i liked the main characters quite a bit, though. i love mae whitman, and the boy's nice looking... for a boy. i ended up buying this one.

thirteen. a movie about something miraculous. cinderella. so bad. SO SO bad. richard madden was too pretty... and not anything like i imagine prince charming being. no. just... no. cate blanchett wasn't quite awful enough. helena bonham carter wasn't quite magical enough (and usually, i LOVE her).

fourteen. a film starring an actor/actress with the same first name as yours. alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. meh. i have no strong feelings about this one. didn't love it, didn't loathe it. won't watch it again.

eighteen. any film with a score of ninety percent or greater on rotten tomatoes. how to train your dragon two. cute. i LOVE, LOVE, LOVE toothless. i liked the first movie better, but this one was alright. i'd watch it again.

nineteen. a film about a superhero. avengers: age of ultron. meh. not nearly as good as the first. parts of it were alright. it's not one i'd make an effort to see again, but if i came across on one of the television's movie channels, i might watch it again. it's got some nice eyecandy.

twenty-two. a film about a personal victory. big eyes. i'm glad i watched it. but i'm over amy adams, and while christoph waltz typically owns despicable and loathsome, he doesn't quite do so here--though there surely are moments of utter nastiness. it's not a film i'd want to see again.

twenty-four. any set in a country you would most like to visit. woman in gold. i'm glad i watched this one, too. i can't say the cast does a remarkable job of telling the story--even helen mirren--but they do well enough. i liked it. i'd watch it again.

twenty-five. a film set in a zoo. fierce creatures. kevin kline's got skills, too, yall. i forget. it's a pretty funny movie. complete nonsense, of course, but i knew that going in. my older brother loved movies like this. i'm sorry i couldn't watch it with him. i don't know that i'd watch this again.

so...that's my list. as for the challenge's collective results, check this out:

andrea: fifty! finished original list thursday, october fifteenth; finished bonus list monday, november second.
christina: fifty! finished original list friday, october second; finished bonus list tuesday, november third.
christopher: fifty! finished original list tuesday, october thirteenth; finished bonus list thursday, november twenty-ninth.
michael: forty-five. finished original list monday, september twenty-eighth.
karen: forty-two. finished original list thursday, november fifth.
stephanie: thirty-six. finished original list friday, september twenty-fifth.
cherie: twenty-five. finished original list monday, november thirtieth.

strategy matters

November 29, 2015

excerpts of a guest editorial by the caledonian record of st. johnsbury, vermont:

"Black Lives Matter" student protests are happening on college campuses throughout the country. The following represents a small sampling of some of their demands:

Smith College: Media must pledge support for protests or they can't cover them.

Amherst College: President must make a written apology for "institutional legacy of white supremacy, colonialism, anti-black racism, anti-Latino racism, anti-Native American racism, anti-Native/indigenous racism, anti-Asian racism, anti-Middle Eastern racism, heterosexism, cis-sexism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, ableism, mental health stigma, and classism; White students who put up "All Lives Matter" and "Free Speech" posters must be disciplined.

Emory: Raises and promotions for all black faculty.

Towson, Brown: White students stop protesting in favor of black students.

Kansas: A separate, black-only student government.

A number of protesters called for buildings to get name changes. Still others, ironically, have demanded separate buildings and/or campuses exclusively for minorities. In all cases, people who disagree with the protesters or who won't bow to their (often ludicrous) demands are being labeled bigots.

this post is not an attack of the editorial. the piece concludes with the counsel that a different strategy might be best.

i work for a newspaper. my job is to cover the news. i don't have to agree with or even like the people about whom i write. i don't have to attend the events i cover, unless i feel a personal interest in doing so; many of the articles i write are either about individuals who seek to raise awareness of a cause or have an impressive story to tell or about upcoming events of interest to a majority of the community's residents. my editor says write this; i write it.

the requests made by these individuals ARE ludicrous. a man should make more money because he's black? my standing with my black friends who feel slighted is offensive? a separate, black-only student government?

are you SERIOUS???

thousands of african-americans have fought for equality in this country. it's been sixty years since rosa parks was arrested for not giving up her seat on a bus. it's been fifty-two years since the march in birmingham.

martin luther king, jr. and his friends marched in suits. they presented reasonable, eloquent arguments to sway the majority to be better to each other. they had patience and class.

what the hell is this with wanting separate student governments? why are we regressing? why are these people so incensed by past tragedies they themselves have not experienced? how can they justify such egregious demands?

some citizens of this country have done AWFUL things to each other. SOME. the answer is not perpetuating this by exacting awful revenge on ALL people of a particular race by making such ridiculous requests. this disrespects everything for which king and other civil rights activists fought. there's a right way to fight. it's not this way.

. . .

this, yall... THIS. the president of oklahoma weslayan university nails it.

the thirty-fifth question

November 23, 2015

this post is one of many for a creative nonfiction project i began several years ago. i call it the griffin inquisition. i've asked my friends and family to pose questions, things they want to know about me that would require more than a yes or no for an answer. the most recent addition comes from my friend, erin.

i know you are a big fan of music. pick a song that is a favorite lyrically, and tell me why and how the lyrics speak to you so strongly.

the prince of darkness
the indigo girls

my place is of the sun, and this place is of the dark
and i do not feel the romance; i do not catch the spark
i don't know when i noticed life was life at my expense
the words of my heart lined up like prisoners on a fence
the dreams came in like needy children tugging at my sleeve
i said i have no way of feeding you, so leave
but there was a time i asked my father for a dollar
and he gave it a ten dollar raise
and when i needed my mother and i called her
she stayed with me for days
now someone's on the telephone, desperate in his pain
someone's on the bathroom floor doing her cocaine
someone's got his finger on the button in some room
no one can convince me we aren't gluttons for our doom
but i tried to make this place my place
i asked for providence to smile upon me with his sweet face
but i'll tell you my place is of the sun, and this place is of the dark
and i do not feel the romance; i do not catch the spark
my place is of the sun, and this place is of the dark
(by grace, my sight grows stronger) 
and i do not feel the romance; i will not be
(and i will not be a pawn for the prince of darkness any longer)
maybe there's no haven in this world for tender age
my heart beat like the wings of wild birds in a cage
my greatest hope my greatest cause to grieve
and my heart flew from its cage and it bled upon my sleeve
the cries of passion were like wounds that needed healing
i couldn't hear them for the thunder
i was half the naked distance between hell and heaven's ceiling
and he almost pulled me under
now someones on the telephone, desperate in his pain
someone's on the bathroom floor doing her cocaine
someone's got his finger on the button in some room
no one can convince me we aren't gluttons for our doom
but i tried to make this place my place
i asked for providence to smile upon me with his sweet face
but i'll tell you my place is of the sun, and this place is of the dark
and i do not feel the romance; i do not catch the spark
my place is of the sun, and this place is of the dark
(by grace, my sight grows stronger)
and i do not feel the romance; i do not catch the spark
(grows stronger)
by grace
(my place is of the sun and)
my sight
(and this place is of the dark and)
is growing stronger
(i do not feel the romance)
i will not be a pawn
(i will not be)
for the prince of darkness any longer

the song is the fourth track on the indigo girls' self-titled album. i was sixteen, i think, when that album was released. i'd been battling depression for eight years. i was terrified i would lose the war. every night i cried myself to sleep. every night i prayed i wouldn't wake up. every morning i woke. every day i was certain i was in hell.

there were songs that i favored, like bette midler's the rose, for example, and this one that i would sing to myself. and if i couldn't sing them, i'd be writing the lyrics down. over and over again. 

it didn't occur to me that the songs were prayers. not until i was in college, and my aesthetics professor was telling the class that singing was the highest form of praise, of prayer. and maybe i survived then, maybe i survive now because i sing. maybe it's because of songs like this.

the lyrics with which i most identify are these: 

the words of my heart lined up like prisoners on a fence
the dreams came in like needy children tugging at my sleeve
i said i have no way of feeding you, so leave...
my greatest hope my greatest cause to grieve
and my heart flew from its cage and it bled upon my sleeve
the cries of passion were like wounds that needed healing
i couldn't hear them for the thunder...

it's so easy to get lost. it's so easy to give in. to feel as though there is no good within you, that no good can come from you. that all your dreams are wasted. i struggle, even now, especially now. the thunder is so raucous, so ominous. and hope can be so vicious. 

but there was a time i asked my father for a dollar
and he gave it a ten dollar raise
and when i needed my mother and i called her
she stayed with me for days

and i know that's the other reason i've survived... because of them. because when i woke, my mom had my clothes clean (and sometimes pressed), and my breakfast made and my lunch packed and a smile on her face. and when i came home she was there with a snack and kind word and all that jazz. and even though i didn't see my father much in my youth, i knew he was always there, giving... and that his extraordinary generosity wasn't limited to the cash in his pocket. they give and give and give. i do my best to be as generous as they.

it's hard for me to sing this, now. it doesn't work quite so well as it did in my younger days. but i have loved this song for decades. the lyrics... the melody... they can be soothing. also, i like the reminder that everyone struggles with something, and maybe my struggles are much smaller than they seem. maybe i am much stronger.

what tune(s) do you most love and why?

the picky playlist

November 22, 2015

erin made a soundtrack for her life -- her hot one hundred -- using billboard's year-end lists. i'd originally done the same, but i didn't love the result, so i redid it. instead of using the year-end's selections, though, i'm using hot one hundred lists compiled each year (mostly) the week of my birth, only i don't love anything on the charts that week, so we'll start with the year after. and it's hard whittling it down to one hundred, yall. it hurt to cut some from the list.

la grange. zz top.

dream on. aerosmith.
bohemian rhapsody. queen.

go your own way. fleetwood mac.

you really got me. van halen.
mamas don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys. waylon jennings and willie nelson.
we will rock you/we are the champions. queen.

i will survive. gloria gaynor.
roxanne. the police.

lost in love. air supply.
the rose. bette midler.

don't stand so close to me. the police.

open arms. journey.

separate ways (worlds apart). journey.
should i stay or should i go now. the clash.
photograph. def leppard.
i melt with you. modern english.

against all odds (take a look at me now). phil collins.
hold me now. thompson twins.

crazy for you. madonna.
save a prayer. duran duran.
don't you (forget about me). simple minds.
everybody wants to rule the world. tears for fears.
the boys of summer. don henley.

kiss. prince.
why can't this be love. van halen.
your love. the outfield.
the power of love. jennifer rush. 

livin' on a prayer. bon jovi.
with or without you. u2.

hysteria. def leppard.
angel. aerosmith.

one. metallica.
wind beneath my wings. bette midler.

nothing compares to you. sinead o'connor.
hold on. wilson phillips.
personal jesus. depeche mode.
i remember you. skid row.

get here. oleta adams.
where does my heart beat now. celine dion.
silent lucidity. queensryche.
she talks to angels. black crowes.

right now. van halen.

ordinary world. duran duran.
i will always love you. whitney houston.

streets of philadelphia. bruce springsteen.

name. goo goo dolls.
i got id. pearl jam.
caught a lite sneeze. tori amos.
high and dry. radiohead.

foolish games/you were meant for me. jewel.
secret garden. bruce springsteen.
the freshmen. the verve pipe. 
silent all these years. tori amos.

sweet surrender. sarah mclachlan.
given to fly. pearl jam.

angel. sarah mclachlan.
back to good. matchbox twenty.
special. garbage.

two thousand
breathe. faith hill.

yellow. coldplay.
pour me. trick pony.

in the end. linkin park.
how you remind me. nickelback.
wherever you will go. the calling.
a thousand miles. vanessa carlton.
standing still. jewel.

i'm with you. avril lavigne.
unwell. matchbox twenty.

my immortal. evanescence.
numb. linkin park.
someday. nickelback.
you raise me up. josh groban.
when i look to the sky. train.

she will be loved. maroon five.
collide. howie day.
somewhere only we know. keane.

because of you. kelly clarkson.
photograph. nickelback.
over my head (cable car). the fray.
black horse and the cherry tree. kt tunstall.

how to save a life. the fray.

love song. sara bareilles.

the climb. miley cyrus.
so what. pink.

when i look at you. miley cyrus.

don't you wanna stay. jason aldean.
for the first time. the script.
arms. christina perri.

stronger (what doesn't kill you). kelly clarkson.
rumour has it. adele.
shake it out. florence and the machine.
lonely boy. the black keys.

stay. rihanna featuring mikky ekko.
just give me a reason. pink and nate ruess.

all of me. john legend.
say something. a great big world and christina aguilera.
brave. sara bareilles.

shut up and dance with me. walk the moon.
shake it off. taylor swift.
believe. mumford and sons.

what songs comprise your hot one hundred?

twenty-five favored sports flicks

November 15, 2015

entertainment weekly made up a list of twenty-five sports movies that score. and it's a pretty good list. i'm not opposed to it. but it failed to recognize some stories that are worth some recognition, and i felt inspired to make a list of my own.

the blind side
chariots of fire
chasing mavericks
cinderella man
the cutting edge
draft day
eight seconds
the express
fever pitch
for love of the game
glory road
happy gilmore
the karate kid
major league
the program
saint ralph
the sandlot
we are marshall

what's on your list?

the north and the south

November 13, 2015

shot seconds before the pack scored on the panthers 

myrtle beach... two days before departure

myrtle beach... two hours before departure

north carolina

bodie lighthouse, kill devil hills, mayberry, rodanthe and woodfin valley.

fall film challenge: bonus list

October 14, 2015

one film for each of the following actors. have fun.
and be sure of you what you pick... no changes permitted.

one. anne hathaway.
two. ben stiller.
three. miley cyrus.
four. vin diesel.
five. eddie murphy.
six. will ferrell.
seven. gwyneth paltrow.
eight. katie holmes.
nine. ione skye.
ten. jonah hill.
eleven. ashton kutcher.
twelve. justin long.
thirteen. maggie gyllenhaal.
fourteen. nicolas cage.
fifteen. owen wilson.
sixteen. pauly shore.
seventeen. john c. reilly.
eighteen. sylvester stallone.
nineteen. tyler perry.
twenty. channing tatum.
twenty-one. vince vaughn.
twenty-two. patrick wilson.
twenty-three. megan fox.
twenty-four. gary busey.
twenty-five. renee zellwegger.

wanna play? original list and rules are here.

what i don't want

October 13, 2015

i had lunch with a friend yesterday. we were talking about how she'd met her husband through a dating website. that instead of making a list of what she wanted in a man, she made a list of what she hadn't liked about her exes and then looked for the opposite.

that scene in the notebook when noah's badgering ally with what do you want? it's so easy to ask that question. answering it should be simple. but it's not. not for me anyway. i'm a typical aries -- the thing i want most in this moment could be the last thing i want five minutes from now. add to that the raging hormones of a bipolar gal. it's like i'm doubly-jinxed.

i'm off men at the moment... maybe forever. i don't even know why i'm writing this post.

except... i don't want to be off men. i like them... even when i don't want to... even when i shouldn't.

what do i want...

when i was a kid and people asked me what i wanted to be when i grew up, i'd always say teacher and a waitress because teaching didn't pay very well, and i wanted to make lots of money.

that's what i said. but what i really wanted was to be like my mother.

one of my oldest memories... and i don't even know if it's real because i can't picture it... but i sense it, i feel like it's true... coming home from elementary school, maybe when i was seven or so, to find her standing at the ironing board starching my father's shirts and the table linens while she waited on my older brother and i. it's a good memory... if it's true. i like thinking that it is.

my house had such warmth in it. the world was so cold outside. when i grew up, i wanted to make a home as welcoming as ours was... i wanted to be so giving, so good. i wanted to love that well and be loved that well.

i'm forty-two now. the likelihood of this want ever being a reality for me is almost nonexistent.

but... yesterday in my facebook feed... i kept seeing pictures like this:

that's not to say i'm not guilty of doing this with guys. the last couple i've played with... i didn't really care to know anything too serious about them... i just wanted the company. but even then, i strived for thoughtfulness -- i'd send them cookies and curb the sarcasm, and that, yall, is a rather huge feat for me. i didn't want to dig too deep into their histories. i didn't want them digging too deep in mine.

i was less compassionate than normal. mostly because i've all but given up on that dream i had as child. almost...

what i haven't liked:

the guy who showed up two hours before i was supposed to meet him and at my apartment, an address i had not given him. who'd researched every residence, every traffic violation and god knows what else before i'd even known he'd wanted to go on a date.

the guy who assumes that my seriousness is disinterest... i tend to clam up when i'm interested, the best kind of defense mechanism... the more interested i am, the less likely i am to speak... and then, when we'd finally gone on a date, he couldn't be bothered to park his truck and walk me back up to my apartment after having seen the movie... in fact, he was so eager to bail, he didn't even put the engine in park when he'd gotten to my complex... he'd stopped just long enough for me to get out and was out of sight before i'd even gotten to the sidewalk.

the guy who does what he needs to do get himself aroused without considering whether i am.

and...this is worse... the guy who arouses me and then disappears. bastard.

worse still... the guy who wows me and then vanishes. so rare. so beautiful. such jackasses.

the guy who holds you while saying he doesn't want a relationship. what the fuck are we doing laying on your couch then, with your arms around me? what's the point of dating, then? if you don't want a relationship why do you toy with a gal's affections? do you think we give them so freely? seriously... three guys have impressed me. in forty-two years. three.

the guy who can't say when he's not pleased by something trivial, let's the little things build until they've snowballed into something huge and unforgivable and walks without a word. and then, when confronted with the silence, says he thought he'd addressed it.

then there's the guy who says a gal's got reservations and internal conflict... he's aware there's an issue, he mentions it, but he can't be bothered to scratch the surface of the thing. can't be bothered to care. can't be bothered to help.

the guy who would rather make like there was bad connection and hang up -- because his gal was saying something he didn't want to hear -- over and over and over again.

the guy who makes a gal do things she wouldn't normally do because those things please him. and i'm not talking about little things -- i've put fake nails on my hands for a guy before... i've colored the grays because, while i have accepted the things are gonna be on my head, the guy doesn't want to see'm. it's my hair, and i've had enough of coloring it. god gave'm to me. i'm trying to embrace this. i've earned the damned things (partly from putting up with all this bullshit)... but those are little things. i've done bigger things i'm not proud of doing because the guy had asked me to, and i was weak... or something. i don't want to be pushed. i don't want to be made to feel like i'm less because i'm unwilling to do a thing.

the guy whose idea of a valentine's day gift is phone sex.

the guy who can't be bothered to remember my birthday, even with something so small and simple as a phone call... even when i'd told him twice that my birthday was coming up.

the guy who catches up to the gal in the bmw on the freeway to check her out because she'd been checking him out and paces her for a long moment... with me in the passenger seat.

the guy who takes a gal out for dinner while he's still married to someone else.

the guy who brings champagne instead of vodka... first of all, you can do a lot more with vodka than you can with champagne. second, i'm not posh and gloss, by any means... champagne's not my style. but mostly, when you offer to bring something over for the dinner i'm cooking you, and the thing i'm cooking calls for vodka... be a good listener. bring me my vodka. and it's tito's, dammit... not that skyy shit.

the guy who asks what i'm looking for... and in that moment i realize it's him and say so... guess what happens then...

twenty questions

September 9, 2015

one. given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest? rainbow rowell.

two. would you like to be famous? in what way? i want to write one book that resonates with at least one person. if it takes being famous for that to happen, so be it.

three. before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? why? it depends on the situation; usually no, but i've that whole can't-talk-to-people thing, so...

four. what would constitute a perfect day for you? right now, i'd be content with a day where i'm not telling myself god, you're ugly first thing in the morning or look at how fat you've gotten; it's disgusting while i'm getting dressed or you're so stupid while i'm at work. if i could have a day where there's no hate in it--from within or without--that'd be a beautiful thing.

five. when did you last sing to yourself? to someone else? today. i can't remember.

six. if you were able to live to the age of ninety and retain either the mind or body of a thirty-year-old for the last sixty years of your life, which would you want? the body. i'm perfectly fine with getting alzheimer's. but not being able to walk would suck. i know, because i've had knee reconstructive surgeries. that pain's a bitch.

seven. do you have a secret hunch about how you will die? nope.

eight. for what in your life do you feel most grateful? i didn't have to watch alcoholism take my brother over a period of several decades. it was quick. and a few months before he'd died, i'd found a way to love him again; i hadn't been able to do that for a long time.

nine. if you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be? we wouldn't've moved so much.

ten. if you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be? affability.

eleven. a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know? that a man could love me; that i could love him.

twelve. is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? why haven’t you done it? writing this stupid book i've been screwing with since college. because it's not an easy thing to do.

thirteen. what is the greatest accomplishment of your life? i'm still here.

fourteen. what do you value most in a friendship? humor.

fifteen. what is your most treasured memory? christmas eve morning, when my older brother came home after a binge that nearly killed him. we'd assumed we weren't going to see him. my mother was convinced of this. i'd happened to be coming down the stairs just as he'd gotten to the front door. i let him in the house. he looked broken. i'd never seen him like that before. i'd never seen him as weak. i knew he was, but i'd never seen it. i stopped hating him that day. ironically, that's the best christmas present he could've given me.

sixteen. what is your most terrible memory? playing with the boys in my adolescence.

seventeen. if you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? why? if you count taking a month off to go on a road trip of the southeastern coast as changing life, then yes, i guess. otherwise, no.

eighteen. what does friendship mean to you? listening, laughing, leaning and letting one lean. just being there... good AND bad.

nineteen. when did you last cry in front of another person? by yourself? yesterday. today.

twenty. your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. after saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. what would it be? why? the bulletin board of pictures of my older brother that mom and i made for his memorial here. because that's pretty much all i have left of him.

what would your answers be?

random, but not the quarter kind

August 24, 2015

this is one of those posts that i'm doing because i feel like i should post something, but i really don't have anything to say...

the random quarter posts began for this very reason. but i already did one this month. i can't do another one.

so i guess i'll just tell you about what's been going on with me.

my great aunt passed away two weeks ago.

i missed her granddaughter's--my godsister's--wedding that following weekend because the booking company my mother used screwed up our tickets. i could've spent saturday in san diego (bummer).

she got a voucher for their error for less than half the value of the two tickets. she let me use it. it's not easy, using one of their vouchers. it's not like you can go to their website and book the flight yourself and enter some code. you have to call. you have to spend three hours of your time confirming the flight details with a dude who can barely speak english, only to find out that he screwed your flight up, too. so for a second there, i was going to go to north carolina for a week in november (YAY!). but the idiot booked the flight for november first rather than november fourth (fucker). and i can't take ten days off work. at least i'm pretty sure i can't. i've asked my boss. she didn't seem too eager, but she'd said she'd ask.

me, my munkle and the red truck

my family went to utah this past weekend to see my munkle (for those of you new here, my great uncle--one of several older brothers to the great aunt who recently passed and the only brother left alive--is a monk). i did not get to go. part of me is bummed about that. in forty-two summers of going to utah, i've only missed two. part of me is just like my great aunt--not too keen on watching a loved one leaving. and he will be leaving, and soon. i know it. i know it. he walks with two canes now, relying very heavily on them both. from what my parents and brother have said, he's not all there--he's not quick-witted; he'll have conversations with my mother where he'll talk to her about her, like she's someone else. his hands don't work. he's a carpenter, my munkle. he makes the most beautiful things. the fact that he can't make his hands do the making is a source of great contention for him. understandably so. but mostly... what i remember most is the way his face beamed with pleasure and how fiercely he would hold on to me, his arms so much like the carpenter's vise. i don't want to see his face if i can't see it the way it's always been. i don't want to hug him if he can't hug me the way he's always done.

i've been working on five stories. one of them is about a woman and the efforts she's made to raise awareness for the fatal, degenerative, genetic disease that's plagued her son for seven years.

and i have friends who are very sorely troubled by life at the moment.

i need a light. has anybody got one?

. . .

and of course, moments after i post this... browsing my facebook feed, one of my friends had posted this hours before, and i only just now saw it:

you will be nowhere tomorrow where god hasn't been (max lucado).

that's a pretty good light.

random quarter: the q&a edition-august

August 10, 2015

one. do you need a cold shower? no.

two. describe the room you're in right now. office. gray walls and carpet.

three. what do you lie about? lots of things. hello? writer.

four. when was the last time you were on an airplane? july sixth of this year.

five. today you destroyed a box of club minis.

six. who are you? a modern-day miss brill.

seven. what was your last great meal? babin's halibut with lump crab.

eight. write down your last sent text message. you're pretty wonderful, as well.

nine. what are you running from at this moment? wellness.

ten. how many stamps are on your passport? no clue.

eleven. what is your resolution for tomorrow? get through the day.

twelve. what is your favorite thing to do on a saturday morning? sleep.

thirteen. what do you like best about your body today? the freckle on my heel.

fourteen. my body and my brain really bothered me today.

fifteen. in a hundred forty characters or fewer summarize your day. work, errands, shower, play, sleep.

sixteen. what can't you forget? all the ways i've failed.

seventeen. what would you like to tell your father? shouldn't be proud of me.

eighteen. what's the best part of your life right now? job. nights and weekends off.

nineteen. what did have for dinner? six chic-fil-a nuggets and water.

twenty. do you make enough money? yep.

twenty-one. did you complete your to-do list for the day? didn't have one... so, yes?

twenty-two. what question (or questions) do you love to answer? the ones in this book.

twenty-three. what's your favorite piece of clothing? this shirt.

twenty-four. write your recipe for creativity. pour madness into bowl. stir.

twenty-five. when was the last time you worked out? no clue.

motion picture monday

August 2, 2015

one. the blind side.
released: 2009.
starring: quinton aaron, sandra bullock, tim mcgraw.
what makes it awesome: sandra bullock got that oscar for it. but really? michael oher's story's a pretty remarkable thing.

two. cinderella man.
released: 2005.
starring: russell crowe, renee zellweger, paul giamatti
what makes it awesome: paul giamatti got that oscar nomination for it. but really? james j. braddock's story's a damned remarkable thing. also, i really liked russell crowe in this movie. the trailer still gives me chills, and i've watched this movie dozens and dozens of times.

three. draft day.
released: 2014.
starring: kevin costner, jennifer garner, chadwick boseman.
what makes it awesome: not kevin costner. not by a longshot. but the cinematography's pretty nifty, and the story's good.

four. fever pitch.
released: 2005.
starring: jimmy fallon, drew barrymore, kadee strickland.
what makes it awesome: jimmy fallon. love that man.

five. for love of the game.
released: 1999.
starring: kevin costner, kelly preston, john c. reilly.
what makes it awesome: now here, costner does good. this is my favorite of his films, hands down. i also love kelly preston in it. this of my favorite of her films, hands down. and the story, yall, is SO, SO good. i love how well-constructed it is. i love how it mixes past and present, and how the past has such a huge influence in the outcome of one game. i love the opening credits. if you haven't figured it out yet, i am a HUGE film geek. i love watching a story start to unfold, and when it's done well, like it is here--with the perfect music and the characters slowly coming into focus... it's just neat. this is a really good movie. almost makes me like baseball.

six. miracle.
released: 2004.
starring: kurt russell, patricia clarkson, noah emmerich.
what makes it awesome: the history. the music. the cast. the opening credits--they're the best ones i've ever seen. but dear god, yall... the story. the triumph.

seven. seabiscuit.
released: 2003.
starring: jeff bridges, tobey maguire, chris cooper.
what makes it awesome: can't stand tobey maguire. can't STAND him. never really been a fan of jeff bridges, either. or chris cooper for that matter. but they're so, so good here. it's a long movie, plodding along at times--but i think that's the point, considering the world was barely plodding along when this story took place. considering that the characters, when their paths cross, are so broken and lost. the music's pretty. the trailer still gives me chills, and i've watched this movie dozens and dozens of times, too.

the fall film challenge: my list

August 1, 2015

one. any set in new york city. the intern.
two. any incorporating hot air balloons in the story. up.
three. any that features a child as the main character. stand by me.
four. any disney film. brave.
five. any set in egypt. raiders of the lost ark.
six. a close friend or family member's favorite film. 
seven. any with the word great in the title. oz the great and powerful.
eight. any starring harrison ford. american graffiti.
nine. any that features an idiot as the main character. a fish called wanda.
eleven. a film about a knight. gladiator.
twelve. a love story. the duff.
thirteen. a movie about something miraculous. cinderella.
fourteen. a film starring an actor/actress with the same first name as yours.
alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
fifteen. a film about the olympics. without limits.
sixteen. a film on time magazine's list: the top ten newspaper movies
seventeen. a movie with a question in the title. dude, where's my car?
eighteen. any film with a score of ninety percent or greater on rotten tomatoes.
how to train your dragon two.
nineteen. a film about a superhero. avengers: age of ultron.
twenty. any film with subtitles. amour.
twenty-one. any incorporating unicorns in the story.
harold and kumar escape from guantanamo bay.
twenty-two. a film about a personal victory. big eyes.
twenty-three. a film with black or white in the title. black mass.
twenty-four. any set in a country you would most like to visit. woman in gold.
twenty-five. a film set in a zoo. fierce creatures.

take the challenge! click here for details.

the fall film challenge

July 31, 2015

begins one minute past twelve a.m. september first / concludes midnight november thirtieth. you may NOT use a film you have already seen, even in part (excluding trailers), for this challenge. all films MUST be new to you. each film chosen for the challenge may be used ONLY ONCE, i.e. a film used for the something miraculous category may not be used for the personal victory one as well. all films selected for the challenge MUST have a page on the internet movie database. films can be viewed in the theater or at home, but all films must have (had) a theatrical release; made-for-television movies are not eligible.

the first three people to complete the challenge prior to november thirtieth will each receive a redbox gift card valued at twenty dollars. the one person to accumulate the most points at the contest's conclusion will receive an amazon gift card valued at fifty dollars. each film is valued at ten points, yielding a total points of two hundred fifty. details of a bonus round will be revealed october fifteenth. 

to participate, you must be a member of the fall film challenge facebook group. once you have joined and chosen your films to fit the below categories, post your list to the group's page or email it to criticalcrass at me dot com so that i may add your selections to a master list. only those who have submitted lists to me are eligible for the prizes. 

one. any set in new york city. 
two. any incorporating hot air balloons in the story.
three. any featuring a child as the main character.
four. any disney film.
five. any set in egypt OR that has an egyptian character OR that stars an egyptian actor/actress.
six. a close friend or family member's favorite film.
seven. any with the word great in the title.
eight. any starring harrison ford.
nine. any featuring an idiot as the main character.
ten. any mentioned in levis strauss' list: denim in the oscars: a look at jeans in cinema.
eleven. a film about a knight.
twelve. a love story.
thirteen. a movie about something miraculous. 
fourteen. any starring an actor/actress with the same first name as yours.
fifteen. a film about the olympics.
sixteen. a film on time magazine's list: the top ten newspaper movies.
seventeen. any with a question in the title.
eighteen. any with a score of ninety percent or greater on rotten tomatoes.
nineteen. a film about a superhero.
twenty. any with subtitles.
twenty-one. any incorporating unicorns in the story.
twenty-two. a film about a personal victory.
twenty-three. a film with black or white in the title.
twenty-four. any set in a country you would most like to visit.

motion picture monday

July 26, 2015

released: 2002.
starring: hugh grant, rachel weisz, toni collette.
what makes it awesome: i really liked hugh grant's character in this movie. and the story's good.

released: 2006.
starring: meryl streep, anne hathaway, stanley tucci.
what makes it awesome: meryl streep and stanley tucci.

released: 2009.
starring: jennifer aniston, jennifer connelly, bradley cooper.
what makes it awesome: over all, it's not. but there are scenes, usually those involving jennifer aniston's and jennifer connelly's characters that i love.

four. hitch.
released: 2005.
starring: will smith, kevin james, eva mendes.
what makes it awesome: kevin james.

released: 1992.
starring: joe pesci, marisa tomei, lane smith.
what makes it awesome: joe pesci's finest work. also marisa tomei does good, too.

released: 1989.
starring: sally field, julia roberts, tom skerritt.
what makes it awesome: the cast, especially sally field--best ensemble in a film EVER. and the script is flawless.

seven. trainwreck.
released: 2015.
starring: amy schumer, bill hader, lebron james.
what makes it awesome: i have never loved a judd apatow film until this one. yes, it's hilarious. but it's got so much heart, too.

random quarter: the q&a edition-july

July 25, 2015

one. should you trusts your instincts? nope.

two. who do you miss the most right now? minn.

three. today you wore maroon, striped polo, jeans, flip-flops.

four. what was the last fruit you ate? honeydew melon.

five. what do you feel most grateful for today? watching sunset at lake woodlands.

six. how many cups of coffee did you drink today? none.

seven. did you exercise today? nope.

eight. the best hour of was sunset. why? because it's summer in texas.

nine. what was the last personal letter you received? thank you note from natalie.

ten. what's the last movie you saw in a theater? trainwreck.

eleven. when was the last time you cried? today.

twelve. what was the last beach you went to? coligny beach at hilton head.

thirteen. are you wearing socks? nope.

fourteen. what was the last road trip you took? austin in november.

fifteen. today were you a wallflower or a social butterfly? wallflower.

sixteen. on a scale of one to ten, how healthy are you? three.

seventeen. what makes you miserable? lack of faith, i suppose.

eighteen. what makes a good friend? consideration.

nineteen. what is your favorite thing to do on a friday night? watch movies.

twenty. is something in your way? yes. can you move it? no.

twenty-one. something that made you worry today? the wonder twins.

twenty-two. what's your favorite gadget? my mac.

twenty-three. what makes you cynical? life.

twenty-four. what's the last meal someone cooked for you? chicken, beans, potatoes and melon.

twenty-five. when's the last time you had pizza? last saturday. what kind? california pizza kitchen's blt.