the fall film challenge bonus round: my list

October 15, 2017

one. above suspicion - shaun dingwall. the young victoria.
two. the big bang theory - carrie fisher. the blues brothers.
three. the crown - jared harris. the man from u.n.c.l.e.
four. downton abbey - douglas reith. the queen.
five. elementary - john heard. awakenings.
six. firefly - alan tudyk. forty-two.
seven. game of thrones - liam cunningham. war horse.
eight. how i met your mother - rachel bilson. life happens.
nine. it's always sunny in philadelphia - david hornsby. flags of our fathers.
ten. judging amy - tom welling. the choice.
eleven. knight rider - jason bateman. tropic thunder.
twelve. lethal weapon - hilarie burton. the secret life of bees.
thirteen. ally mcbeal - john michael higgins. g.i. jane.
fourteen. ncis - chris o'donnell. men don't leave.
fifteen. outlander - caitriona balfe. now you see me.
sixteen. parenthood - lauren graham. it's kind of a funny story.
seventeen. dr. quinn, medicine woman - jane seymour. austenland.
eighteen. rizzoli and isles - michael massee. last man club.
nineteen. sex and the city - justin theroux. the broken hearts club: a romantic comedy. 
twenty. true detective - taylor kitsch. american assassin.
twenty-one. the unusals - jeremy renner. captain america: civil war.
twenty-two. veep - allison janey. trust me.
twenty-three. the west wing - hal holbrook. the firm.
twenty-four. the x-files - gillian anderson. the mighty.
twenty-five. the young pope - guy boyd. while we're young.

the fall film challenge: bonus round

THE RULES: if you've seen the twenty-five films selected for your original list, you are eligible to compete in the bonus round. this one's a bit more complicated than normal. i've chosen twenty-five television series, past and present. for each program, choose a film which stars an actor or actress who has appeared on that show at least once. that individual does not have to be a member of the main cast. for example, a (short) sample bonus round list:

one. ally mcbeal - robert downey jr. spider-man: homecoming.
two. the young pope - jude law. king arthur: legend of the sword.
three. true detective - rachel mcadams. doctor strange.
four. above suspicion - kelly reilly. pride and prejudice.
five. the crown - jared harris. allied.

the catch (and this is what makes it a wee bit tricky): two actors on your list can't be in the same movie. if you choose a robert downey jr. movie for one series, he can't also star in another film selected for a different show, i.e. both he and rachel mcadams are in sherlock holmes, so you couldn't pick that film for true detective. you'd have to pick another mcadams flick, one in which he does not star, like doctor strange (and make sure you check the other actors listed alphabetically section on imdb's site... sometimes filmmakers will sneak in an uncredited cameo. what if instead of chris hemsworth as thor, the director of doctor strange had opted to include a scene with iron man? i wouldn't let you count that film, that's what, and you'd stand to lose some points. but rachel wasn't cast in spidey, and robert's not got a role in strange, so you're good. got it? god, i hope so.

there's no extra credit this time, like there was in the original round. every film's worth ten points. if you change a choice, you lose ten points, so choose wisely.

three. the crown.
four. downton abbey.
five. elementary.
six. firefly.
seven. game of thrones.
ten. judging amy.
eleven. knight rider.
twelve. lethal weapon.
thirteen. ally mcbeal.
fourteen. ncis.
fifteen. outlander.
sixteen. parenthood.
eighteen. rizzoli and isles.
nineteen. sex and the city.
twenty. true detective.
twenty-one. the unusuals.
twenty-two. veep.
twenty-three. the west wing.
twenty-four. the x-files.
twenty-five. the young pope.

if you're late to the party, you can still join us! details for the regular round are here.

emily and einstein

October 5, 2017

why i wanted to read it: because i liked the title and the look and feel of the cover (but, yall, i'm really weird about paper, so maybe don't put too much stock into that one, yeah?), and these two things:

(from the back cover): emily portman is an up-and-coming new york city editor whose life is everything she imagined it would be. she has a job she loves and a beautiful upper west side apartment with her husband, sandy. but everything changes in one night, when sandy dies in a tragic accident, and emily is stunned to discover that her marriage was made up of lies.

okay. not the name of the dude so much, and definitely not the inclusion of tragic in describing the accident that kills him (because redundant), but...

in my favorite english class, taught by the fantastic dr. william weitzel, whose instruction i do miss -- that man was a genius -- we spent weeks discussing tennyson's idylls of the king (a book i did not read, by the way... we'd just finished our mutual friend, and i was depressed because we couldn't spend the whole semester talking about how awesome it is). but i remember weitzel's fascination with how this one bad thing that starts out so small can become so huge and wreak such havoc, a germ inside of a beautiful bubble. sandy's the germ; i wanted to see just how bad he could be. and yall, he's a DICK who most definitely deserved to die.

then there's this bit his wife says about him: sandy portman drew me in, like the draft of a manuscript where perfectly constructed sentences hinted at but didn't yet reveal a deeper truth (page 11). 

she must be some kind of a sucker. or a saint. i was curious to know which it was. turns out, it's a little of both.

what i liked: that bit on page eleven, and...

"i can't do this."

i turned around and fled... but when i got to the building, the odd old man was already there shaking his head. "you really can't outrun me, alexander."

the sheer staggering force of it brought me to my knees, literally, my topcoat pooling around me in the frozen slush. "you can't do this. i have so much left to do."

"technically, that isn't true." yet again he looked apologetic.

my mind raced. "i have a wife. if i die it will kill her."

"i can't disagree with you there. that woman loves you. really loves you. too bad you didn't think of that sooner" (pages 20-21).

i knew i was feeling sorry for myself, and i tried to swallow it back, but i hated that i was losing so much. my home. my husband. my belief in our marriage. the belief that i was loved (page 97).

no matter where we lived, my mother loved giving parties... one night, a woman arrived that i hadn't seen in a while, a woman i had always loved. i took coats and made sure everyone had their drinks, and when i handed her a martini, she looked at me closely and then laughed.

"every time i see you, you're more grown up," she said, and looked around for my mother. "no wonder you don't need a husband, lillian. you've got emily to take care of all the things you don't like to do."

my mother looked at me across the room. i couldn't read her expression. the set of her mouth wasn't quite a frown, but it wasn't a smile either. "yes, she plays the perfect caretaker. but i wonder, is that what you really are, em? or are you hiding what you really want to be?" she paused. "please tell me a daughter of mine wants to be more than a housewife and a hostess" (pages 129-130).

a man who hadn't felt something intense for me would never have held me like he was afraid of what would happen if he let go (page 152).

lillian barlow thought i should learn about currents and tsunamis, but she hadn't thought to teach me how to swim (page 156).

emily had been my biggest victim, not because of horrible things i did, but because i had dared her to love me, and when she did i was unprepared for the enormity of that love, the responsibility -- something that deep down i had known i didn't know how to give back. but i had taken it anyway, handling it without care.

the fact was that i had married her because in her eyes i saw the man i could be. i ended up wanting a divorce because living with her every day was forcing me to see myself for who i really was, a man who didn't have the strength to work hard and persevere and do what it took to be something beyond ordinary (page 348).

what sucked: i'm not a huge fan of the author's writing style and wish she could've told the story in fewer pages. 

having said that: i had read a few pages yesterday, but i basically got the thing finished in a day, which is always a plus in my book. i liked the ending. it's kind of a weird and cheesy story, and i definitely preferred the pages told from emily's point of view. it's nothing stellar -- definitely NOT an utter triumph like j.r. ward said -- but it's cute.

ten things to celebrate in october

October 2, 2017

one. october first. national homemade cookies day. bake a batch of cookies (and NOT chocolate chip) from scratch.

two. october sixth. come and take it day. this is a damned fine day in texas. mexico wanted their cannon back. we dared them... and eventually we won. be especially daring on this day. what's a thing you've been too afraid to do? do it. if you can't think of something... get some suggestions from your friends.

three. october sixth. mad hatter's day. wear the weirdest hat you own for the entirety of your day.

four. october tenth. angel food cake day. bake an angel food cake, but don't eat it. it's not for you.

five. october eleventh. emergency nurses day. take that angel food cake you should bake for the tenth to the nearest hospital emergency room. those nurses are angels. let them know they're loved.

six. october eleventh. southern food heritage day. according to the folks at mental floss, if you're not eating chicken and waffles on this day, you're doing life wrong. where's the best place in your neck of the woods for such a meal? go there and grab some grub.

seven. october twelfth. jon kevin's day. that's my big brother's day. have a beer for him. he'd be one away from fifty.

eight. october sixteenth. dictionary day. find sixteen of the coolest words in the world. what are they?

nine. october twenty-first. count your buttons day. so apparently the bloggess is fond of buttons. visit your local fabric store and purchase twenty-one (or somewhere thereabouts) of the funkiest buttons you can find and send them to her (mailing address here).

ten. october twenty-eighth. frankenstein friday. share ten lines you love from mary shelley's masterpiece.

nine things celebrated in september

October 1, 2017

one. september third. skyscraper day. travel to the nearest metropolitan area (if it's within a reasonable distance) and take a picture of the skyline. if the distance is too great, dig through your travel photos for a favorite skyline shot.

downtown houston, as seen from some steps near lee and joe jamail skate park.

two. september sixth. read a book day. if you're anything like me, you've got stacks of books you've been saying i'm going to read this... someday. someday's here. pick one that's been on your to read list for far too long. read some.

six impossible things by fiona wood. i bought this ages ago. i want to like it. so far i've yet to be able to do so.

three. september eighth. pardon day.
what unforgivable curses have been used on you and by whom? find the strength to forgive one person, and be brave enough to confess the forgiveness.

i wrote a letter, though i didn't get around to it until today, so technically, this was a bust. won't share the details here. hopefully it'll be received well. if not, so be it.

four. september ninth. teddy bear day. donate a new teddy bear to a children's hospital. i had lunch with a friend from high school a couple of weeks ago, and afterward we went to toys r us and got these three. aren't they happy? more importantly, they are SO soft. while i wish i could give more, i'm pleased to give these three.

five. september twelfth. national video games day. what was one of your favorite video games to play in your childhood? find an arcade that has that game and play some.

i played a couple of games of ms. pacman at the movie theater before seeing spider-man: homecoming on the first, but i didn't take a photo... so i'll let yall decide if it counts or not.

six. september thirteenth. fortune cookie day. snag six fortune cookies. give five to your friends or family, and keep one for yourself. what's it say?

mine said: you will be happily surprised by a long time friend.

seven. september seventeenth. national women's friendship day. of your girl friends, which have you known the longest? what's sustained that friendship? send a note letting her know how much you value her presence in your life.

i wrote a friend i'd made when i was three. i've not seen her since i was eight. but we found each other on facebook last year, and i'm so, SO happy we did so.

eight. september twenty-first. world gratitude day. this one's got two parts. ONE) on this day, make a concerted effort to say THANK YOU if someone pays you a compliment. women are so bad at shrugging off positive attention, like we don't deserve it. like the other day when a friend commented how sweet i was, i contradicted the compliment. if someone says THANK YOU, instead of saying NO PROBLEM say YOU'RE WELCOME. TWO) as you go through your day, make a list of everything you see for which you are thankful. there's a notes app on your phone. USE it. if you do it right, by the end of the day, it should be a rather long list. type it up. send it to me. i'll be grateful for the mail.

this one was a bust, too. i forgot about the first part and only worked on my list for about two minutes at the start of my day.

nine. september twenty-eighth. national good neighbor day. check in with one of the folks who lives nearby, if not next door. take fifteen minutes out of your day to visit.

i didn't do this one, either. she has a black and white cat that likes to hang out in our yard. i played with him a couple of times. does that count?

beach music

why i wanted to read it: i was supposed to read it earlier this year (or maybe late last year?) for a book club i'm in but didn't. i needed a book that began with b for erin's book challenge. i felt guilty for not having read it then, and my mom said she and dad had run out of gas listening to this story, they'd been so absorbed. i figured i should give it a shot.

what i liked: she had always prided herself in keeping her madness invisible and at bay; and when she could no longer fend off the voices that grew inside her, their evil set to a chaos in a minor key, her breakdown enfolded upon her, like a tarpaulin pulled across that part of her brain where once there had been light (page 3).

"i guess you think i should hire a marching band to welcome you back," my father, judge johnson hagood mccall, said to me. 

"it's great to see you too, dad." i said.

"don't look at me that way," my father ordered. "i refuse to accept your pity."

"jesus christ," tee whispered.

"say hi to jack, dad," dupree suggested. "it's a question of manners."

"hi, jack," my father said, mugging, his words soft around the edges. "great to have you back, jack. thanks for not calling, jack. for not keeping in touch."

"i tried to call you a couple of times, dad," i said. "but it's hard talking to a man after he's passed out."

"are you implying that i have a drinking problem?" the judge said, rising up to his full length, his head thrown back.

"an outrage," tee said happily.

dallas said, "like saying noah had a problem with the weather, pop."

"drink some coffee," dupree offered. "sober up before you go see mom."

my father looked at me, then sat down on a chair, falling the last several inches. 

"you heard that your mother deserted me for a much younger man, i suppose," he said to me.

dallas said, "the doc's a whole year younger than pop here."

"there's no need for your editorial comments, dallas," the judge said. "i am merely stating the facts. his money blinded her. your mother always had a weakness for material things and ill-gotten pelf."

"pelf?" tee said. "mom likes pelf? i don't even know what that is."

"that's why you're only a public school teacher in the state that ranks last educationally in this great nation," the judge said. "they allow you to teach other idiots, i am told."

"my kids are autistic, dad," said tee.

"aren't you glad dad's drinking again?" dupree asked me, trying to divert our attention away from tee. "i never feel closer to the old boy than when he's going through delirium tremens."

"i'm not drunk," the judge said. "i'm on medication."

"dr. jim beam," dallas said. "still practicing after all these years."

"i have an inner-ear infection," the judge insisted. "the medicine affects my sense of balance."

"that infection must be hell," tee said. "it's been around for thirty years or more."

"all of you were in league with your mother against me," said the judge, closing his eyes.

"got that right," tee said (pages 130-131).

"c'mon, mom," tee yelled by the window. "give 'em hell, girl."

"you're in a hospital," dallas said, "not a sports bar."

"thanks for that timely bulletin, bro," tee said. "and get ready for a full-contact scrimmage. john hardin's tying up his boat down at the dock.

"help us, jesus," dallas said.

"worse than it used to be?" i asked dupree.

"still a bit off," dupree said. "but he's become a little dangerous. he spooks easily."

"now, for the enjoyment of our live audience, ladies and gentlemen, we present madness," dallas said.

"first death," tee said, "then drunkenness."

"calm down, tee," dupree suggested. "don't let him see that you're nervous."

"i'm not nervous," tee said. "i'm scared shitless."

"he hasn't had his shot this month," dupree said. "he's fine after he's had his shot."

there was a tap on the window and john hardin made a motion for tee to unlock it. tee made a motion with his arm that john hardin go around to one of the doorways and john hardin answered him by selecting a brick that formed the border of a flower garden near a memorial fountain (page 133).

dupree said, "let's go together to get your shot,"

john hardin's eyes blazed as he spoke. "i hate you the most, dupree. you're number one on my list. then comes jack. precious jack, the firstborn son who thinks he was born in a manger. then comes dallas, who think he's some kind of genius when he actually doesn't know shit..."

"i'll go with you," tee said to john hardin. "you and i'll go with dupree to get that shot."

"the only cure that'd help me at all is for everyone in this room to get cancer and for my sweet mother to walk out of here with me."

dupree rose and approached his brother cautiously. "please, john hardin. we know how this ends. you'll get disoriented and do something stupid. you won't even mean to do it or know you're doing it. but it's in your hands. get a shot or the cops'll put out a bulletin to pick you up."

"if i needed a fortune-teller, asshole, i'd go order a chinese meal," john hardin screamed... "i'm the nicest of the brothers," john hardin said. "mom said that, not me. i'm just reporting the facts. she said i was her favorite. the pick of the litter" (page 137).

"where's john hardin, dad?" i asked. 

"he's fine. i just told your mother. i saw him at the house this morning. he looked like a million bucks. all he wanted was to borrow a gun."

dupree lowered the binoculars and looked at our father with a baleful gaze... "jesus, i see john hardin. he's holding something. yeah. congratulations, dad. it's your gun."

"you lent a gun to a paranoid schizophrenic?" dallas said.

"no, i lent one to john hardin," the judge said. "the boy told me he wanted to do a little target shooting..."

"hey. waterford," john hardin was screaming. "fuck you. that's what i think of the town and everyone who lives in it. what a rotten little excuse for a town. everyone who grows up here, or is forced to live here even for a small amount of time, becomes a complete, worthless asshole. it's not your fault, waterford. you can't help it that you're rotten to the core. but it's time. you're just not worth a shit and it shows."

"makes you proud to be a mccall," dallas whispered...

"i know what you're saying, dupree," he shouted. "you're telling everyone i need my shot and then i'll settle down... i'm never letting another car cross this goddamn bridge. fuck you, waterford..."

dupree stepped forward, the one who loved john hardin the best and the one john hardin hated the most.

"close the bridge, john hardin," dupree demanded.

"eat a big hairy one, dupree," john hardin answered, using his middle finger to give his words fuller effect. "this town is so shitty it gave my poor mother leukemia... that's my brother dupree," john hardin screamed from his island of steel. "if they had a contest to find the biggest asshole in the world, i guarantee he'd be a finalist..."

"i never understood why you lived in europe," dallas said, "till this very moment."

"lots of rentals," i said. 

"what a loser," dupree screamed back at john hardin. "you've been a loser and a phony since the day you were born. mama just told me that. she's out of her coma."

"mama's out of her coma?" john hardin said. "you're lying. fuck you, dupree mccall." john hardin's voice was as poignant as a train whistle now. "i won't close this bridge until every one shouts 'fuck you, dupree mcall.'"

"organize the cheer, brothers," dupree said. "he means it. and if the swat team gets here, they'll kill our brother. they don't play."

we ran down a line of cars and enlisted volunteers from the crowd to pass the word from driver to driver... 

the town chanted, "fuck you, dupree mccall..."

"now close the bridge," dupree shouted. "before i come over there and whip your ass.

"you gonna pole-vault, asshole?" john hardin shouted.

"there are ladies present on the bridge," dallas said, changing tactics.

"i apologize to all the ladies i might've offended," john hardin said, and there was true contrition in his voice. "but my mother has leukemia and i'm really not myself today."

"mama's out of the coma," dupree shouted again. "she wants to talk to you. she won't see the rest of us until she talks to you. close the bridge."

"i will under one condition," john hardin said... "i want all of my brothers to get stark, buck naked and jump into the river..."

"we get naked," dupree said, "then you throw the gun in the water. we jump in the water. you close the bridge. deal?"

john hardin thought a moment, then said. "deal."

dupree stepped out of his underwear, followed by tee, then me, and finally a very reluctant and grumbling dallas.

john hardin grinned happily as he savoured the sight of us, his naked and humiliated brothers. "all of you've got little dicks" (pages 244-247).

i listened to this one on audio, too (because it's seven hundred sixty-eight pages, and you readers of picky should know how i loathe long books). there were SO, SO many pages of quotes i loved that i could share with yall. these were the snippets i wanted to go back and find.

what sucked: it's SEVEN HUNDRED SIXTY EIGHT pages. there were a couple of instances of backstory that i wished weren't so lengthy.

having said all that: i LOVED this one. the writing's beautiful. i love the family dynamic. i am in awe of conroy's ability to weave tragedy with comedy. it's REALLY good stuff. yall should read it.

wicked: the life and times of the wicked witch of the west

why i wanted to read it: because i figured, given the novel's and play's popularity, i should. because i needed something with a cardinal direction in the title for erin's book challenge.

what i liked: [fiyero] "why should i keep myself so safe?" he asked her, but he was almost asking himself. what is there in my life worth preserving? with a good wife back there in the mountains, serviceable as an old spoon, dry in the heart from having been scared of marriage since she was six? with three children so shy of their father, the prince of the arjikis, that they will hardly come near him? with a careworn clan moving here, moving there, going through the same disputes, herding the same herds, praying the same prayers, as they have done for five hundred years? and me, with a shallow and undirected mind, no artfulness in word or habit, no especial kindness toward the world? what is there that makes my life worth preserving?

"i love you," said elphaba. [aka, the wicked witch of the west]

"so that's that then, and that's it," he answered her, and himself. "and i love you. so i promise to be careful" (page 214).

there were probably a couple of other things, but i listened to this one on audio, and that was the only passage i felt like hunting through the text to find.

what sucked: my biggest complaint is that maguire spends so much time talking about trivial stuff and so little time digging into details that have some relevance to the plot. maybe if i'd read the four hundred six pages, i would've been able to skim the small shit and spend more time on the more meaningful things, but then, i wasn't that interested in this story, which is why i listened to it instead. also, it's long.

having said that: i love the idea for this story. i liked seeing that elphaba could love and be loved. but i can't reconcile the wickedness i saw in her character in film the wizard of oz with the so-called wickedness of her character in this story. she's mean, sure -- angry, resentful, bitter, hostile. but i can't call her wicked, so i kind of feel like maguire dropped the ball on this one -- that he didn't make her hateful enough. i have compassion for her, in the end. and i didn't want to.

fall film challenge update

September 29, 2017

one. jackie. category: reviewed last year on slothsandmovies. natalie portman is a talented chick. jackie kennedy was a remarkable woman, and portman plays her well. i liked the way the story's told, but, despite all that, something's keeping me from saying this film is amazing, and i can't tell you what that is exactly. just that's it's there. it's really good, just shy of great. worth seeing for the history.

two. room. category: about fortitude. this movie had me bawling. that little boy is adorable, and brie larson is amazing. they both play their roles so, so well. i hadn't expected to like this one as much as i did. i was wary of watching it. borrowed it from the library and kept it for some time after its due date because i wanted to keep it; reviewed several scenes from this film on many occasions. SO GOOD. one of three that i would say is the best from my list.

three. gifted. category: about temperance. LOVE this movie SO much. chris evans is phenomenal, best work he's ever done. hands down. i love the little girl's sass and smarts. this is the best movie i've seen on my list.

four. wind river. category: about justice. AMAZING. SO, SO incredibly good. solid storytelling through and through. chilling film, but so worth watching. one of the three best on my list.

five. the founder. category: about pride. before i watched this, i thought it was better suited for greed, but it turns out it works better for this category because it's a fine example of pride going before the fall. i've mixed feelings about michael keaton's character in this one. he's persistent, tenacious, determined, fearless, forward-thinking, clever... such admirable characteristics, and it's not that he doesn't use them well. he's not necessarily a villain. i'd say he's more an opportunist. he doesn't give a fuck whom he hurts. he has no conscience. i don't want to like him. i don't think he's an admirable dude, and yet... the men he steamrolls, they could've avoided it. had they been willing to consider his ideas, they could have profited from them, but they were so unwilling to consider any ideals but their own... they should've done a better job of protecting their dream, so i didn't feel as much sympathy for them as i would've liked. it's a horrible train wreck of story; its collision is impressive. keaton does fine work. but i never want to see it again. never want to eat at mcdonald's again, either.

six. footloose. category: starring kevin bacon. okay. i have NEVER liked that song, yall. i thought it was cheesy as shit, and i assumed this movie was just as cheesy. when those opening credits rolled, i was sure my original thought was right. and then it started... i really liked this film, as predictable as it was. the casting's great, and there are some really, really good scenes in this thing. some of the dialogue is just perfect, like when the preacher's wife says: you can lift a congregation up so high they have to look down to see heaven, but it's the one-one-one where you need the work. i love dianne wiest, yall, but never more than in this movie. i've never cared much for kevin bacon, but after having seen this film, i can understand the world's fascination with him.

seven. chef. category: about gluttony. i dig this one. good stuff. i live about six hours from new orleans and have never wanted to visit that city. jon favreau's movie has tempted me to give it a look.

eight. their finest. category: starring jeremy irons. it's a good story and a pretty film, and i enjoyed it well enough. i had been happy about it, eager to tell folks i really liked it... until this one thing happened in the story (completely unnecessary, badness for the sake of badness, could've and should've been avoided, really annoyed that it wasn't) toward the end. i had been thinking it was one i'd watch again, and maybe i will because it's certainly got merit and shows a bit of history with which i was not familiar, but my enthusiasm for this one's gone, and i'd really been looking forward to watching it because i love bill nighy. also i'm with michael, who said, jeremy irons has an amazing voice, and i would listen to him read a grocery list for home depot. his role is brief (and maybe a little annoying) in this film, but yeah. he does have a damned fine voice.

nine. spider-man: homecoming. category: starring robert downey, jr. god, i love that man. he's pretty damned awesome. and this was a pretty good flick. i've never really cared for spider-man, and all the other spidey flicks i've seen haven't ever inspired me to do so. but this guy, tom holland, he does alright. and michael keaton's not so bad at playing the villain. but mostly, iron man's presence make this movie for me.

ten. the wolf of wall street. category: about greed. of the films on my list, this was the one i was least interested in seeing. i loathe the subject matter. i'm not a fan of leonardo dicaprio and have never cared for any of his films i've seen. i can't say i care for this one, but he does good work here. it's a horrible story about utterly despicable people who choose to use their talents for ill. it's well done, save for the fact that it's LONG.

eleven. the case for christ. category: about prudence. good story. done well enough. didn't inspire me a lick (and i like my god movies to make me love god). not one i want to watch again.

twelve. don jon. category: about lust. i actually liked this one and wasn't expecting to do so. joseph gordon-levitt plays a manwhore who has to watch porn to really get off. i thought it was going to be awful. i liked seeing his character grow. i loved that he would do catholic penance (saying his hail marys and our fathers) while working out. that made me laugh. and i like brie larson in this one. she doesn't say much, but what she says is good. it's got some sweetness in it that i really hadn't expected to find.

thirteen. bottle shock. category: starring alan rickman. good story. chris pine annoyed the crap out of me, and that's never happened, but despite his character's antics, the guy had a good heart. that hair though, gah. anyway. alan's his usual bad self. it plods along at times, but it's good. yall should watch it, at least for the history.

fourteen. mr. holmes. category: starring ian mckellen. didn't love this one. was bored through most of it. can't really recommend it.

fifteen. megan leavey. category: about charity. good story. the movie's not bad, but i wanted it to be better.

sixteen. war room. category: about faith. it's not unrealistic like other religion-based films i've seen. i did enjoy it, more than i thought i would. there are some really good moments in this story, and i was surprised to find them. i do think it's cheesy, but i didn't mind it so much. it inspired me, which is what movies like this are supposed to do.

seventeen. elizabeth. category: set in a castle. everybody wants to rule the world. i didn't love this one; it's not one i'd ever want to see again. but i didn't loathe it either. i did like geoffrey rush, which is a rare thing for me. i wasn't sure i was going to at first, but then... he played a pretty cool dude.

eighteen. creed. category: about hope. it's like every other rocky flick, and i knew it would be going into it, but i kind of hoped it would be better than the rest, and it wasn't.

nineteen. the big sleep. category: listed on nathan bransford's best hundred movies challenge. i wanted to love this one because bogart and bacall. it's got some good lines and great camera work, and i did love seeing these two, but it's hard to follow (or maybe i was too tired when i watched it). LOTS of tampering with evidence. lots of people dying. lots of me thinking what the fuck? meh.

twenty. snow white and the huntsman. category: about envy. never seen charlize theron overact more than in this film, and rupert sanders sure did love to have the camera on kristen stewart. there's some cheesy moments. but the special effects are pretty nifty, and i don't mind looking at and listening to chris hemsworth.

twenty-one. dunkirk. category: set in an exotic locale. didn't care for this. definitely NOT the best war film ever made. not even anywhere near the best. and for a story as badassed as this one is, it should've been AWESOME. the beginning was strong enough, and the conclusion was alright. the middle sucked ass. i was really disappointed in this one, and the music, if you could call it that, definitely didn't help sway my opinion in the least.

twenty-two. logan. category: about wrath. of the wolverine flicks, it's the best, i guess. of the x-men films, i liked it about as much as i liked the third one where jean grey's on magneto's team. i'm not a fan.

twenty-three. howards end. category: starring anthony hopkins. LOATHED this one. too fucking long and boring. didn't give a shit about the characters or their plights. STUPID movie.

twenty-four. the space between us. category: set in space. SO BAD. SO, SO BAD. i knew it was gonna be stupid, but i hadn't realized the extent. every time i thought it couldn't possibly get more ridiculous, they'd pile on another outlandish plot device. i don't understand why gary oldman would agree to be in such a pathetic excuse for a film.

twenty-five. kiss kiss bang bang. category: starring val kilmer. the only good thing is this movie was val. STUPID story, stupid script.

so i've knocked my list out, and i've plotted and prepared the bonus round to post in a couple of weeks. and sure there are a couple of gals who've knocked out their lists, too. BUT it's not too late to join in, so if you're interested in participating, click here for details.

check out what michael and audrey have seen!


September 20, 2017

speaking of men...

sunday. some dude emails me on match: hey beautiful! how's your day going? i'm joe* and you are?

joe's profile stats say he's in florida, but his headline says he's a midwest guy new to the west coast. the second sentence in his about me section says that he's recently settled in louisiana... just an fyi, guys. pick one place. i don't care if you're military. more to power to you, actually, for doing what so many are unwilling to do. but... fuck, man. i know you're all over the map; you don't have to brag about it.

next, don't ask us how long we've been on the site and how it's going so far. if you see our profile, there's a chance it may not be going well because the place is populated with an array of idiots, and some of us are choosy. i know what you want that answer to be: not long, and it's been interesting. the reality? five months, and not well.

i don't lie all that often, and never to strangers. i don't see the point in that; if i'm gonna bother to fashion some fiction for people, it's because i'm shielding those who matter to me from something ugly. i'm not gonna waste my time concocting bullshit for someone i don't know, unless i'm getting paid to do it. i prefer direct, but it usually gets me in trouble. lying is for writing, and i'm damned good at it. in life, i try to be honest. i think picky's a pretty good reflection of just how honest i'm capable of being. shit, i share stuff on here that i haven't shared with my family, but that's because i like to spare them the dirty details. they get to see me on my ugly days. i spare yall from that... a lot, so much more than it appears. anyway...

being on match is essentially a waste of money, but i'm bored and a romantic... and if a guy does write me, i usually write them back, even if i think he could be an idiot.

guy wanted me to text him. so i said i would, but only if he wouldn't use the word beautiful with me ever again. yall use it too often and too readily -- too loosely -- and have cheapened it. it's worth about a penny when it should be worth a thousand bucks. at least.

i told him to text me tomorrow (monday) because the packers game came on in two minutes, and i was gonna be busy admiring aaron's form and physique and jordy, randall and clay's mad skills.

i didn't know that bulaga and bakhtiari were out, and i'd forgotten that the falcons beat the pack twice last year (i think?) and were likely to be picking off packers all night.

so... not a good night for me. i felt like this. the whole goddamned game.

in the middle of it, i notice that the idiot texted me: hello. i didn't acknowledge it. in fact, i acted kind of like aaron rodgers does in that there gif. tomorrow is apparently a word with which this particular idiot is unfamiliar.

so i text him the next day: hello.

and then i get a text from him clarifying that it's joe from match. no shit, sherlock. i couldn't figure that out from the number you'd provided the day before.

what's he do? how's your day going, beautiful?

i am not pleased, but i figure, fuck it. we text back and forth that day, and i'm cordial enough.

the next morning, i get a text with this shit: a cup of hot hello, a plate of crispy wishes...

it's like seven or eight lines of schmaltzy, shitty, STUPID words. i looked at my phone kind of like aaron rodgers does that tablet at the start of that gif and struggled to find some decent way to acknowledge this pitiful excuse for a text. he didn't type that shit. i doubt he's capable of even being that poetic, as lame as it may be. but... i didn't want to be mean, so i said something like: that's a pretty way to start my day. and then i tossed my phone aside.

that was all i got from the idiot the whole day. but, to be honest, i didn't care to, because REALLY? this guy's five years older than me. what's he doing sending me shit like this?

i go about my day, hang out until about two a.m. with some friends. crash about an hour later.

and about two hours after that my phone wakes me up, that double beep it makes when someone's sent a text. the light's glowing. i'm annoyed that the thing's woken me up. i assume it's some of my writing friends (they're fond of sending group texts early in the wee hours of the morning).

it's not. it's the idiot. with another one of his cheesy wake-up texts. these words:

it's barely five a.m. i'm too tired and too annoyed to be too civil: ok. i know this seems like a good idea to copy and paste this stuff to me, but it's actually not.

i turn my phone off. sometime between five and ten a.m., when i turned my phone back on, i got a hey from him. i've not replied. all i've got to say is hey, and what's the point?

i keep thinking of the film hitch, when will smith says try harder stupid.

*name changed to protect the idiot.

north of happy

September 16, 2017

why i wanted to read it: because i needed a book with a cardinal direction in the title, and this one sounded interesting.

what i liked:  i've never acted impulsively in my life. felix got all those genes. it feels like i'm borrowing his disobedience, like i'm stealing something, acting unlike myself. but that doesn't keep me from putting a knee on the suitcase to force it closed...

i look at my reflection in the mirror and can almost see the back wall. all my edges are blurred... i think: i can't do this anymore. i think: i'm barely even here. i say: "i have to go, dad." 

the words come out like a whimper. so, i'm not stealing all of felix's personality traits, then. felix never whimpered... for a wild moment i consider confessing, telling them about felix, how i still see him but i feel like i'm the one who's gone. his death made ghosts of both of us and i just want it to stop (pages 27-29).

i remember going on trips to the store with mom and felix when i was twelve. felix would insist on pushing the cart, running and taking his feet off the ground, letting the cart carry him down the aisles. i'd wander behind, dragging my feet to prolong the trip. i didn't know a thing about cooking back then, but i was drawn to the ingredients in a way i didn't understand yet (page 39).

since the night of the perfect taco, i haven't really been able to make anyone laugh. dad even pointed it out a few times. "you used to be funny," he said once, as if he couldn't think of any possible reason why i may have lost my sense of humor (page 105).

on my tenth day of training with chef, i'm making another omelet. i rushed the first one and it fell apart before i could plate it, making chef snort derisively and put me back on onions for the day. the second one looked good to me, but chef stopped at the first bite, reached for the nearby ramekin of salt and dumped it over my head. i'd been so focused on the cooking time that i forgot to season.

this one, though, looks perfect. not a tinge of brown, perfectly shaped and fluffy. i garnish it with a sprig of parsley on top...

now chef is examining the omelet, lifting it up with her fork to inspect the bottom. she lets it drop with a sneer, and pushes the plate back toward me. her eyebrow's raised. "you expect me to eat that? that's not how you make an omelet." then she grabs the parsley sprig and pops it into her mouth. "don't waste a garnish on shitty food" (pages 191-192).

"a prep garde manger position is opening up. i thought a little test for you would be fun. you've been working hard, both with me in the mornings and doing what you're paid to do. your staff meals are good, but those don't really mean shit. it's a little too soon, but let's see what else you can do."

my heart quickens.

"i need a special for the day." she crosses her arms in front of her chest and nods to the clipboard. "you get to come up with one of them. if i like it enough, maybe i'll put it on the menu." i want to run and hug her. all those early mornings, those double shifts made harder by the extra work -- this is what they were for. elias was right. "and," chef adds, "i'll promote you to the line... i want to see a detailed recipe wth exact quantities of every ingredient you'll use per portion. make sure we've got enough for at least the day. i don't want to eighty-six it before we're even setting up for dinner."

"yes, chef. thank you, chef."

she nods and heads toward the door.

"um, chef?" i ask, remembering all of chef's outbursts, thinking there's gotta be some sort of catch to this. "what if you don't like it?"

"then i don't make it and you don't get the job, genius," she says, not slowing down. "and i don't let you cook again for a year. you have until the prep cook shows up" (pages 249-250).

i marked a few more pages, but they're too close to the end for me to comfortably share.

what sucked: it's a bit predictable, starts slow and the end's a little too pat for my taste.

having said that: i really liked the characters and conflict. it's a good story.

sweet jesus, mary and joseph!
i finished the challenge!!!
i did not think i would do it this time because...


so that's about
just those two alone.

but i did it. YEE!!!!!

refuge for masterminds

why i wanted to read it: because it's the last of the school for unusual girls trilogy by kathleen baldwin. i wanted to know how the story ends.

what i liked: "save your lectures, lady jane... no one will think you are a tavern wench... one look at you puts that idea to rest once and for all. there is nothing about you nearly so comfortable or amiable as a tavern wench" (page 25).

upon returning to the cove, i stand awaiting the next bit of the prototype to be ferried to the barn. alexander stops work and peers at me. "you are near dead on your feet, lady jane. take yourself off to bed. it won't do to have you collapsing in a heap." his voice echoes weirdly in the cove, and just when i think he is expressing genuine concern, he goes and spoils it all. "we've too much to do to be carrying you up the hill, as well."

"that is no hill," i argue.

"exactly," he mutters (page 67).

still stunned, i stand, unable to move, softened into a useless pudding by the merest touch of his lips to mine. at the same time, his cryptic remark bewilders me. i try to puzzle it out. does he mean kissing me would've been an ordeal? surely not. he hadn't come toward my mouth like a man about to suffer pain for the cause. is it possible he meant our kiss would devastate him more than it did me? why would he think such a thing? perhaps it saddens him that this first kiss will also be our last, our only kiss. i shake my head, unable to fathom a sentiment like that coming from him, the glib mr. sinclair -- i think not. not him. more than likely, it was another of his meaningless jests.

i am vexed now. quite vexed...

alexander turns me around, so i am facing the right direction on the path, and with a steadying hand he guides me upward. it is completely unnecessary. i am quite capable of stomping my way to the summit on my own (page 73).

"all right, lady jane, what are you up to?" he stares down his nose at me... "i see cogs turning in that dangerous little head of yours."

dangerous. not pretty. of all the things he could've called my head, lovely, or even clever, he chooses dangerous. what's worse, i am completely innocent of plotting at the moment. i was merely enjoying looking at him.

"i'm not up to anything." i cross my arms. "why should i be?"

"because you always are." he says this with a modicum of respect, as if it is not entirely an insult, even though it is. "craftier than a mongoose chasing a cobra, you are. i never know what to expect."

a mongoose?

suddenly, i want to punch him. my fists are balled and i have half a mind to actually do the deed, except that would not be ladylike, and fortunately for him captain grey and miss stranje are approaching... mongoose, indeed....

"i'm surprised you would trust a mongoose."

"with my life, your majesty." he adds a jaunty smile. but his flippant remark, with my life, jolts me back to the cold cruel fact that his life may indeed rely on whether or not i can catch the cobra.

my fists uncurl (pages 180-181).

meanwhile, georgiana and lord wyatt, tess and lord ravencross, and i, are doing our utmost to teach mr. sinclair, the most obstinate man on earth, steps to a simple country dance...

"that is not it at all." i stop and gesture vehemently at mr. sinclair's long lanky legs. "your knees must rise higher. like this."

"what do you mean?" he waves his hands at my gown. "i can't see a thing. your skirts are in the way."

i raise them, so he can see how to do a proper twirl and hop. 

he shakes his head. "still can't see it. do it again."

i repeat the step, but this time lord wyatt sputters into a guffaw. i whirl around and see alexander, the scoundrel, grinning and indicating i should lift my skirts even higher.

"wretch." i drop my skirts. "you've seen more than enough" (pages 183-184).

what sucked: it lagged at times. that's really all i've got.

having said that: it's alright. i liked jane and alexander. i wish baldwin had included more interaction between the two of them. it's better than the second but not as good as the first. i think it would've been better if baldwin had made it one book instead of three. overall, it's an interesting trilogy, though, and i did enjoy it.

tuesday topics: one. worst vacation

September 12, 2017

three days in the garden of good and evil.

i should've planned the trip better. i should've gone alone or with a different friend. i should've handled things -- so many things -- differently. i can't tell you why this particular vacation sucked, just that it did. it wasn't all horrid: the weather was damned near perfect, so i got to take what i think are some lovely photos of some beautiful things, and i got the best kiss of my life in savannah, georgia. BUT, overall, it was miserable from the moment i met my friend at the airport to the moment we went to our respective terminals to catch our flights home. i spent the majority of that weekend letting her unload, attempting to placate and offering advice. a single woman, one who is pitifully unlucky at love, counseling a married woman. it was not a good time for me.

i want to go back. plan it better, choose a better travel companion. see more.

what's the worst vacation you've taken? share it with me!

random quarter

September 11, 2017

stephanie posted about questions you didn't ask today, borrowing from two hundred questions she'd found. i thought i'd use some from that list as prompts for an rq post.

one. what is one of your favorite smells? gardenia. it's hard not to feel pretty when i've used bodycology's pure white gardenia bath products. pair that with ralph lauren's romance, and i feel fine (at least for a little while... the trouble is, i don't use this stuff every day. maybe i should).

two. what lie do you tell most often? i'm good.

three. if you had to change your name, to what would you change it? the one i've got suits me pretty well: jennifer kristin. lots of i's in my name, and for a gal who is as selfish as i am... also, jennifer is the cornish derivation of the welsh guinevere. i've welsh ancestry (damn proud of it, yall), and i'm as weak as guinevere was. but if i absolutely HAD to change it... i would choose elin (the welsh spelling) josephine, after my paternal and maternal grandmothers.

four. how do you get in the way of your own success? i let people's opinions of me matter; i believe what they believe; i assume that if someone more beautiful and bright and brave had come up with the idea for a thing, it would fly far and fast, but because i came up with it, it'll fall flat and i'll be humiliated or ignored; i let my anger at injustice and envy at others' successes color my logic. i'll think i'm better than someone and that they succeed because they know the right people; i know plenty of the right people, but many can't be bothered to help, and i know it's because i'm not beautiful and bright and brave, that if i were, they'd be clamoring to give me a hand. i'm angry. that's how. i've been angry since i was eight. it kept me alive for a long time, that anger. it's keeping me here now, but i'm stranded. i don't care much about fighting anymore. i wish i did.

five. to what stereotype do you completely live up? that mentally and physically disabled individuals can't contribute much to society and should be hidden away.

and since stephanie referenced her astrological sign in her post and i've a fondness for the zodiac...

this about aries from darkside zodiac by stella hyde:

you are either thirty minutes early, raring to go, and incandescent that everyone else is late, or you turn up four days later at a different venue and are outraged that the expedition left without you.

after a five-minute rant in the bathroom when you throw everything out of the window looking for your tube of toothpaste, you finally find it in the laundry basket. you hammer it flat with your bare hands.

temper gauge
zero degrees to boiling point is instantaneous, and occurs roughly every two minutes because people just won't do what you tell them, and you've lost the keys/hammer/remote control/plot.

yes, to all of this.

six. about what are you most insecure? my face and figure.

seven. what television show or movie do you refuse to watch? so many. television (and i realize some of these may no longer be running, but i'm listing them anyway because i can): the walking dead; family guy; american horror story; house of cards; breaking bad; vikings; criminal minds; sherlock; true detective; homeland; dr. who; dexter; lost; sons of anarchy; orange is the new black; better call saul; westworld; true blood; orphan black; the vampire diaries... movies: taxi driver; psycho; seven samurai; jaws; a clockwork orange; inception; the shining; lawrence of arabia; raging bull; the exorcist; once upon a time in the west; memento; pan's labyrinth; war for the planet of the apes; split; transformers: the last knight; it; fifty shades of grey; girls trip; annabelle: creation...

eight. who's your go to band or artist when you can't decide on what to listen? usually u2 or van halen.

nine. what's the one thing you did that you really wish you could go back and undo? it's a tie. i regret each of these things equally. the first has to do with the only man i've ever loved. sometimes i wish i could go back to approximately nine p.m. tuesday, april sixteenth, two thousand two at carlyle place apartments at the intersection of babcock and callaghan roads in san antonio, texas, to the day i should've tried harder to shove aside the thoughts swirling -- mine: how could you possibly have thought he would be interested in you? how could you have forgotten how ugly men think you are? how could you have been so goddamned gullible? why the fuck would he want to be with you when you know nothing about love and life? look at all the scars on you; stupid, foolish girl; theirs: no one will ever marry you because you're too ugly and no one wants to wake up next to something that ugly every morning; you should go kill yourself because you're a waste of valuable air and space and there are more important people who need it; ugly; stupid; worthless. i was twenty-eight. the day i'd met him, he had told me he thought i was gorgeous. i should've clung to that, but i couldn't. i should've either walked away from him that day or found a way to deal with the insecurity, but i couldn't. and since i couldn't... approximately eight p.m. thursday, march twenty-first, two thousand two at international house of pancakes at the intersection of de zavala road and interstate ten in san antonio, to the day i met him and we gave each other tarot card readings and the cards said he would not be good for me (i wasn't so stupid as to ask that question aloud, by the way, but my face was so stricken when he'd revealed that ace of spades that he'd asked about it... i knew better than to tell him. i should've walked away from him then. all those times i saw that opera carmen in my youth... i should've known to pay attention to the goddamned cards. it was his idea to do the reading, by the way. how weird is that? i'd thought it was a neat idea for a first date. i'd liked that we weren't going anywhere special. i should've known we weren't. i wish i had saved myself the heartache. i wish i had saved him from myself. i wish this didn't matter, still. it probably wouldn't if i could let myself really care about another man again, but i can't. i loathe who i was after i lost him. i was the best possible version of myself... and then i was the worst.

that's the first one that comes to mind. and i always feel guilty, and angry, that he's first, when it should be my older brother and the day he tried to give me a proper hug. he always gave me one-armed ones. i wish i could tell you the day. it was after i lost the boy, before i learned that i could love my brother again. i was hating him for all the hurt he'd caused. i was at my younger brother's house, and jon was there with us and our friends, and i was either coming or going and he went to hug me -- a good hug, with both arms, tight tight as i call it to my niece and nephew, and i didn't let him. i didn't really hug him back. i gave him the kind of hug i'd come to expect from him. i wish i could have held onto him a little better.

ten. on what topic could you give a forty minute presentation with no preparation? either what it's like to deal with depression on a day-to-day basis or how to ace an essay.

eleven. what are you afraid people see when they look at you? how flawed i am, how much i lack. 

twelve. what is one thing you really want but can't afford? major dental work.

thirteen. what gives your life meaning? writing.

fourteen. what did you think you would outgrow but haven't? an appreciation for kraft singles cheese slices and premium saltines. it's still my go-to comfort food, and i always feel like a little kid when i'm eating that stuff.

fifteen. what keeps you up at night? shame and inadequacy and fear.

sixteen. what is something you will never do again? fall in love.

seventeen. what's the best thing about you? talent, tenacity and resilience.

eighteen. which of your scars has the best story behind it? the ones behind my ears and along my hairline. surgeons took my face off twice when i was a baby.

nineteen. if you could make one rule that everyone had to follow, what rule would you make? respect others' personal space.

twenty. what bends your mind every time you think about it? the implausibility of the terminator storyline. i've been trying to make sense of that thing for like three decades and still can't do it. and here's a little something else for yall to ponder: two of my characters are named kyle and reese. i swear i didn't do that on purpose... or did i?

twenty-one. what is the most annoying question people ask you? how can you drive?

twenty-two. what's the best thing you got from your parents? their determination for and faith in me.

twenty-three. there are two types of people in this world. what are the two types? bricks and sponges. after a storm and the sun dries up the rain, bricks retain their shape and strength, but sponges have to be wrung out. bricks don't need anyone; sponges do. bricks don't have much compassion; sponges do.

twenty-four. to what fact are you resigned? that i will never be capable of loving a man, and one will never be capable of loving me, and i will die alone and despaired because of this.

twenty-five. what are three of the most significant numbers in your life? twelve, sixteen and seventeen.