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.