the (extremely belated) fall film challenge update: november

December 28, 2018

once again, i lost my film-viewing mojo. i worked on a bonus list but didn't post it because i didn't love it. i actually watched four films, not three, but damned if i can remember what the third one was, and of course i didn't log them in the facebook group, so...

one. sing. yall, i can't STAND matthew mcconaughey, but he was PERFECT for this movie. he did GOOD. i liked his character. i liked the story. STRONG cast. the first half is MUCH better than the second. the end was disappointing. had the first half been as weak as the second, i NEVER would've made it through the movie. it was cute. not one i'd want to see again.

two. the first time. found this one on netflix. i didn't love the beginning, but i couldn't bring myself to turn it off -- maybe because i liked the characters. the story was kind of weak, though. the ending was okay. not one i'd want to see again, but i wouldn't turn it off it were on.

three. fantastic beasts: the crimes of grindelwald. yall, i am SO, SO over johnny depp, and i can't tell you how much it pains me to say this because i've been in awe of his skills and work for much of my adult life. but now when i see him on screen... ugh. jude law, though. i still love him. i LOVE, LOVE him as dumbledore. i LOVE, LOVE, LOVE jk rowling for giving us such glorious magic. this one was GOOD. i liked it better than the first. i'd watch it again and again.

so... how'd the rest of the crew do? AMAZING!!! this was a magical year, yall! i'm SO impressed.

november tally:

stephanie: FIFTY
dani: FORTY-ONE 
christine: twenty-five 
andrea: twenty-five
kathryn: twenty-five
velvet: twenty-five
joanna: twenty-four
kirsten: twenty-three
alyson: twenty
erin: sixteen
lisa: eleven
brianne: five
lauren: two

total movies seen this challenge
(not counting mine):

never forget

November 11, 2018

my munkle served in the navy. so did his brother, my great uncle joe. my mom told me once that joe served with patton and marched with him in germany. i hope i'm remembering that right. i like thinking of it. my uncle chris served in the navy, too.

i will never forget the time we'd gathered in washington, d.c. with my uncles and their children and we'd toured the museums and monuments. the time we'd gone to the wall, and i'd walked the length of it, intending to go back and really look at it, only to find my uncle at the end with tears in his eyes and a gruff voice. get the others. he needed to leave. he didn't need to say anything else.

my aunt's only son was in the marines. two of my other uncle's sons were in the military -- the marines and the army.

i will never forget how they joke with each other about which branch is better. the shirts their mother wore in support of them both. the time the cousin who chose the army spent in san antonio while i was there... the times my younger brother and his then wife and their mutual friends came up for a weekend to spend time with our cousin and me. the time my cousin and i were at red robin, talking about the eye surgeries i'd had in my infancy, and how doctors would've made the corrections then... how he, who was training to be a mash doctor, paused from his meal to look behind my ears to determine whether they'd taken my face off, told me that they'd done so, then resumed chowing down on his royal cheeseburger, unfazed.

i will never forget walking into borders at selma the morning of september eleventh to see one of my staff standing at the information desk with a radio playing, my pointing at him as i passed saying, you know you can't have that up here. we're open. his face as he asked me you haven't heard? i still didn't stop. heard what? that my manager told me not to go to my parents' house. to stay put.

the younger cousins enlisted after that, i think. i remember my aunt's son had already served in one war. i remember the worry from that. i remember the last christmas we all had together, with his mother who died a year or so afterward. i remember he left on christmas day to go to saudi arabia. that he was on the front lines.

i will never forget the night i sat outside my great aunt's house when we were in colorado to bury my brother. i remember sitting on the steps, staring up at a midnight sky and the specks of white and imagining one of my older brother's oldest friends overseas in afghanistan or iraq or whever the hell he was, praying that my older brother could somehow be with him and get him home to be with wife and sons.

i will never forget the days i worked at a shipping store and a man would bring in red polybags with white stars on them, freedom hard t-shirts and other paraphernalia being distributed across the globe. the time he brought in boxes of t-shirts and caps and coffee for me to repackage and send to florida or utah or london. i will never forget how much i loved that i got to have some small hand in those products making their way to others. i will never forget the joy i felt when i'd ordered, then received, my own freedom hard t-shirts. i've worn them with pride.

support our troops.

never forget.

fall film challenge update: october

October 27, 2018

one. haunted mansion. this was not a film i'd selected. i'd spent an evening with my younger brother, his children, his wife, her sister and niece. we had an outdoor movie night, swimming and soaking in a hot tub. the ghosts make this movie. eddie murphy does NOT.

family night at my brother's house... it was this or or hocus pocus, and i'd already seen the latter, so... i voted for this one. i think i would've preferred to watch hocus pocus again. it wasn't awful. but it wasn't awesome, either. the kids enjoyed it. terence stamp starred in valkyrie with tom cruise who starred with bacon in a few good men.

two. before the flood. watched this one to learn about some work i'm doing. it's interesting enough.

NOT because i wanted to so much as i needed to for a job i'm doing. i can't STAND leonardo dicrapio. he was in the departed with jack nicholson who starred in a few good men with tom cruise.

three. easy a. i love emma stone, and she's her typical, cute self here. it's an interesting story, and i enjoyed it. it can be pretty ridiculous at times, but then almost immediately following the silly, there comes a scene that is really sweet. i like it. i'd watch it again. it's the only movie of the five mentioned here about which i can say that.

i liked it. there are some spots that are utterly ridiculous, but almost immediately after those would be something that was pretty cute or clever. emma stone starred with bacon in crazy stupid love.

four. john wick. i do love keanu reeves and ian mcshane. this movie is all special effects and gratuitous violence for the sake of those things. not a fan.

i thought the story was stupid, the film another excuse for special effects and techno music. the only good thing about it was ian mcshane and willem dafoe. i'd planned on watching the sequel. that's not happening now. keanu reeves starred in something's gotta give with jack nicholson who starred with bacon in a few good men.

five. peter rabbit. another flick the kids picked. i was really glad when it was over.

yall, this movie was SO, SO stupid. the only good thing i can say about it is that the end comes quickly. connection: rose byrne starred with bacon in x-men: first class.

and that makes twenty-five for me!

i'm hoping to complete the bonus round, as well. still tweaking my list.

the fall film challenge: bonus round

October 14, 2018

if you have completed the regular round of the fall film challenge, you are eligible to compete in the bonus round. choose one film for each of the following actors:

kevin bacon
sean bean
jim beaver
halle berry
emily blunt
alison brie
john candy
peter coyote
russell crowe
peter finch
megan fox
michael j. fox
vivica a. fox
jamie foxx
ryan gosling
heather graham
gloria grahame
alec guiness
jon hamm
ethan hawke
john hawkes
jack lemmon
walter pidgeon
anthony quayle
brett rice

if you notice, the last names of these actors sort of have something in common: bacon, bean, berry, brie, crowe, graham, guiness, hamm, lemon--kind of like something edible. you can make substitutions to the list, so long as the actor's last name is in that vein--lucy pickles, for example--but they must be approved by me.

if you have seen one film by each actor listed above, you can watch other films by those actors for extra credit. each movie is valued at ten points.

a supplement to the second question

October 7, 2018

yall get caps today because i'd started typing this in an email then decided to post it here and am too lazy to tweak it.

A friend asked me the other day what excites me. My father had posed a variation of this question many, many years ago for a creative nonfiction project I call the Griffin Inquisition—the second question. I don't know how much of that answer applies anymore, but I did like what I wrote then.

I can’t remember the last time I was excited, to be honest. It doesn’t take much to make me happy or sad, empathetic or angry. But rousing me to an excited state—and I mean to use the term to describe giddiness—is a challenge. The only things that have managed to stir up some semblance of that emotion in me in the past couple of months are the films Life Itself and What They Had—and yes, they are dramas, and yes, they will most assuredly make me cry (I’ve seen the former three times now and have wept at each viewing). 

I’m excited when I fall in love with a story, whether it’s told in the pages of a book or the lyrics and music (because yes, the music tells a story, too) of a song or on the screen, but that doesn’t happen often. I spent my years in college listening to professors run their mouths about works of literature I felt weren’t worthy of the praise. I got an English degree but did not love classic literature. It wasn’t until I took some undergraduate English courses at UTSA that a man got me to appreciate it. He assigned us Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens; it was the first of three novels we were to read for his class, and we began reading it on the first day, and I fell in love with it before I’d finished the first page. That doesn’t happen often, by the way. I was taught to be critical of text, of stories. When I’m shopping for books with other friends, they might gush over a dozen books. I’m hard pressed to find one that I think might be halfway decent. I’m TOO critical. I know this. The only books that have managed to enrapture me in this way are the Harry Potter novels, Eleanor and Park and Landline by Rainbow Rowell, The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, Right Before Your Eyes by Ellen Shanman, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

There are songs that can do this, but it’s rarer. The only one that comes to mind is Sometime Around Midnight by The Airborne Toxic Event.

Films can do it, but that’s rarer still. Life Itself is the most recent example I can give you for that.

I’m excited by the idea of love, but I’m also terrified of it. TERRIFIED. Same with sex—and the terror there is exponentially greater.

The past two years, I've spent a day cheering on IronMen near the finish line. I get pretty excited about doing that.

Several years ago, I had season tickets to the Aggies’ football games. In 2010 I watched them defeat Texas Tech, then Oklahoma, then Nebraska, all teams that were MUCH better—or so it seemed—than they. I was damned excited about that.

In 2004, when the Americans 4X100 Men’s Freestyle team defeated the Australians, which wasn’t supposed to happen, I was jumping up and down on my coffee table. 

I like to think I save excitement for things that are REALLY special. 

Those last moments are the ones that are the biggest in my mind. 

Once a man bought me a long-stem rose—because I was late, he’d said… I was late because I couldn’t fit into any of my good clothes anymore, so he’d gone to the florist next to his apartment complex and bought me one red rose. It was the first time I’d ever been given flowers by a man outside my family. That excited me, but in different ways than these other examples. Years later, another man I’d just begun dating and with whom I’d not shared any address information found out where I worked and sent me a bouquet of long-stem roses. Dozens of them. I was embarrassed, not excited. He sent me another bouquet the following week, different flowers, just as beautiful. I was as embarrassed by them as the first. Maybe it depends on the man, but I like the one rose SO much better than the bunch. But roses are easy. Obvious. It's hard for me to get too excited about them.

I suppose the best example, though, the one that makes me happiest, is the day where I'm not physically or mentally in pain. Those days are so, SO incredibly rare. They are beautiful things. BEAUTIFUL things. I can't remember the last time I had one of those.

fall film challenge update: september

September 27, 2018

okay. so first off... i've decided i'm going to attempt to watch fifty movies this time around because i've never managed to do the regular AND bonus round lists, and i want to see if i can do it. this means that i had to bump some movies off my original list. the gray areas are more immediate responses that i'd left in the facebook group.

one. tag. i LOVED this movie, yall. it was HILARIOUS. what made it awesome for me was knowing this was based on a true story. these guys have been playing tag FOREVER. once a year, just for the month of may, the game resumes. these guys had FUN making this movie, and it shows. i've watched this one twice.

two. still alice. this was beautiful. BEAUTIFUL. julianne moore is amazing. my paternal grandparents suffered alzheimer's. i expect my father will do so as well. her portrayal is pretty spot on, and the supporting cast does a good job, as well. my only complaint is that i expected this one to make me cry, and it did not.

good movie. hard to watch, mostly because my paternal grandparents had alzheimer's, and i've always worried that my father, that i would struggle with it. the cast did a fine job. connection: julianne moore starred in benny and joon with johnny depp who was in black mass with bacon.

three. life itself. this one's my favorite on my list, so far. it's PACKED with conflict, yall, and the cast -- everyone of'm -- does a phenomenal job relaying how that conflict affects them. oscar isaac is INCREDIBLE. i've watched this one twice.

HOLY FUCK THIS WAS GOOD. definitely NOT a date movie, but DAMN dan fogelman knows how to write a script... someone on twitter said she'd walked out after the first forty minutes because it was excruciating... it's NOT an easy film to watch, and the beginning isn't great by any stretch... but the last forty minutes are EXCEPTIONAL. connection: oscar isaac starred in inside llewyn davis with john goodman who starred with bacon in patriots day.

four. the bookshop. this one packs a punch, too, and i didn't think that it would. to be honest, i was kind of bored through the first half, and then all the sudden there's this power -- a kind of quiet rage. i really hadn't expected that, and i love that something so simple could be THAT powerful.

slow, but surprisingly powerful. love bill nighy here. might be my favorite of his performances. love patricia clarkson. might be her best work, but my god her character’s repulsive and vindictive. connection: clarkson starred in playing by heart with jay mohr who starred with bacon in picture perfect.

five. destination wedding. keanu reeves and winona ryder had a damn fine time making this one, i think. their characters aren't very likable, and yet i loved them. i've watched this one three times.

this one made me laugh a lot. i had a feeling it would, and i'm glad it did. it's VERY focused on the two characters and dialogue HEAVY, which i didn't mind. they are unhappy people with biting wit, and it does get to be a bit much, but right about the time you think oh god... there's just enough sentiment, just enough goodness in them to get you to the end. i don't know that i would want to watch it again, and yet, i kind of miss their characters already. i think what i like best about it is that reeves and ryder looked very much like they enjoyed making this movie. connection: winona ryder starred in edward scissorhands with johnny depp who starred with bacon in black mass.

six. darkest hour. gary oldman. god, i love that man. and i have always admired winston churchill. this one was good. there's a couple of instances where the story's a bit overdramatic; there's a couple of instances of cinematography for the sake of a pretty picture. but it's good. yall should watch it.

i got a little teary-eyed in this one, which i hadn't expected. god love winston churchill. we need more men like him in the world. god love gary oldman for playing him so well. connection: oldman starred with bacon in murder in the first.

seven. the guernsey literary and potato peel pie society. i liked this one.

pretty film, pretty story. connection: mathew goode starred in watchmen with billy crudup, who starred with bacon in sleepers.

eight. sleeping with other people. NOT a fan of jason sudeikis, but i didn't mind him in this movie. liked the story well enough. it had some moments that i felt were pretty strong.

i figured i would like it, and i did (even though i'm not crazy about jason sudeikis), but it had some strong scenes, and that surprised me. i liked the characters. connection: amanda peet starred in playing by heart with jay mohr who starred with bacon in picture perfect.

nine. love, simon. this was good. i liked it. love jennifer garner and josh duhamel. i thought the cast did a pretty good job with this one.

liked this one. good stuff. connection: jennifer garner starred in thirteen going on thirty with judy greer who starred in love happens with jennifer aniston who starred in picture perfect with bacon.

ten. operation finale. hell of a story, this one. everyone should watch it.

AMAZING. WATCH THIS NOW. connection: melanie laurent starred in inglorious basterds with brad pitt who starred with bacon in sleepers. (oscar isaac is my hero.)

eleven. hired gun. this one made me not like billy joel very much, but it made me see alice cooper in a very positive way, which i appreciated. i enjoyed learning more about how the music industry works.

i decided to watch this because my dad was a musician in high school and college -- he played with the winters brothers -- and i sometimes wonder what life would've been like had he chosen to follow the musical path. this made me feel sorry for musicians, actually. i no longer like billy joel or richard patrick. jason newsted looks like an idiot. i saw neal schon, aaron lewis and mike mushok in the credits... would've been interesting to see their clips. loved seeing pink. loved listening to rudy sarzo, kenny aronoff and alice cooper talk. connection: jon bon jovi starred in new year's eve with robert deniro who starred in sleepers with bacon.

twelve. stronger. so i watched patriots day, which was a really good look at the first responders and law enforcement agencies who worked to save those affected by the boston bombers. i wanted to watch this one because it kind of focused on one person and how the event affected him and those close to him. it was difficult to watch, but the ending impressed me quite a bit.

hard to watch, but there's a moment toward the end that makes watching it SO worth doing. gyllenhaal starred in a dangerous woman with debra winger who starred in terms of endearment with jack nicholson who starred with bacon in a few good men.

thirteen. before i fall. i liked this one. good story. predictable, but good. interesting.

this one was a hard one for me to watch, and i pegged the ending. but i liked it. connection: jennifer beals starred in four rooms with marisa tomei who starred with bacon in crazy stupid love.

fourteen. how to make an american quilt. i wanted this one to be better. SO much better. i didn't much care for this one.

for such a STRONG cast and decent amount of conflict, this movie is WEAK. connection: samantha mathis starred in pump up the volume with christian slater who starred with bacon in murder in the first.

fifteen. outside providence. this one was alright. i wish alec baldwin had been in it more.

not bad. not one i'd want to watch again. connection: richard jenkins starred in eat pray love with julia roberts who starred with bacon in flatliners.

sixteen. the miracle season. meh. i didn't care much for this one, either.

so i'm the girl who looked at the main photo on imdb's site for this film and thought west, texas. like the volleyball team there came back to win a championship after the town suffered a tragedy. it's iowa city west... and they lost a player. it's a good story, but the execution's typical, predictable, formulaic schmaltz. i loved the credits. would've liked the film better if it had had as much heart as that player had. connection: helen hunt starred in as good as it gets with jack nicholson, who starred with bacon in a few good men.

seventeen. deadpool two. didn't like this one nearly as much as the first. not sure they should've made a second one, actually. all the things that made the first one so good were absent from the sequel.

agree with zosh (who said she thought it was funny, but she still preferred the first). connection: brad pitt starred with bacon in sleepers.

eighteen. unbroken: path to redemption. i picked this one because i watched the first part of this story last year and wanted to see the continuation of it. the sequel's MUCH more well-done than the original. but there's no reason why these two films couldn't have been one.

this watch MUCH better than the first one. but there should’ve been ONE movie telling the story, not two very drawn out halves.

nineteen. why him. meh. i thought i was going to love this one. i didn't. i did like megan mullaly in it, though.

the trailer CRACKED ME UP. the movie did not. i did love megan mullaly, though, and i've never cared much for her work before, so it was really nice that i could appreciate it here. it's funny. just not as funny as i wanted it to be. connection: james franco starred in alien covenant with billy crudup who starred with bacon in sleepers.

twenty. every day. this one SUCKED. it was such a STUPID, STUPID story. don't waste your time.

SO, SO, SO, VERY, VERY, VERY B A D. DO NOT watch this shit. connection: maria bello starred in coyote ugly with john goodman who starred with bacon in the patriot.


September 13, 2018

about a year ago, a friend invited me to join her book club. it's a great group of women, and i feel so blessed to be considered their friend, but since joining, i've read two of the books chosen, and one of them was my pick (also one i'd already read -- the language of flowers). the other was a man called ove. i eventually read a third, beach music, but not because of the book club so much as i needed a book for one of the categories of erin's book challenge (feel free to join... there are about six weeks left in this session, but she always welcomes latecomers, and she'll start another challenge in a couple of months... it's neat to flip through the albums and see what others have read). anyway. three books out of like twelve. that's not bad, but most of the girls have gotten in the habit of joking that i won't read it anyway...

we're reading beautiful boy this month. i'm on page forty-four. i'm reading it because i've chosen to watch the movie adaptation for the fall film challenge (we're only a couple of weeks in, and i, too, welcome latecomers... it's neat to flip through the albums and see what others have watched).

i've been more hopeless the past couple of months than i normally am. probably more than i've been in my life, actually. i'm not fighting as much, i'm becoming more and more merciless about the things i keep. gwyneth paltrow plays plath in the film sylvia. there's a line: i feel like there's nothing behind my eyes but air. i understand that line now. i understand how a person could feel that way. for most of my life i've felt like there's nothing behind mine but water. it doesn't feel like that anymore.

i started bible study this week. we're reading joshua. that name means the lord saves, by the way. or so my notes told me. i've gotten off to a good start, much better than i have in the past. yesterday and today, i spent the better part of an hour reading parts of proverbs, of my own accord, and the recommended reading from our notes: bits from genesis, psalms, romans...

and then i've taken my copy of beautiful boy and read while walking around my neighborhood.

off and on in the course of my life i've thought that i don't believe it's possible that a man could love me. i know why he should. i know i'm worth loving, even when i'm feeling my absolute worst, i know that in my heart. my head, though... the older i get, the more difficult it is for me to believe in that possibility. i've given up, actually. not because i want to, but because it's almost easier to live without the hope.

so i'm walking and reading and come across this passage on page thirty-two:

our first cautious date is at a friend's party on the upper east side. the fine young cannibals play on the music system, waiters circulate with trays of champagne and canapes, and then, though it is a sweltering night, i walk her the length of manhanttan to her downtown loft. it takes a couple hours, during which time we do not stop talking. whenever we come upon an all-night grocery, we get popsicles.
it's dawn when we say good night at her front door.

i stopped when i read that. stopped and read it again. and wished i could know what a date like that was like without having to read about it in a book. how sad is it that a forty-five-year-old woman only knows love from the books she reads and the people she sees?

before i fell into that well of despair, i made myself get moving again, reading and walking.

i want someone to see me the way ove's wife sees him, the way grant sees victoria. i want to know the man who can't help but stay and talk with me.

my friends are quick to suggest bumble. i've been on there. i can barely get a man to say hi. i don't want to meet my guy that way. it doesn't have to be anything fantastic. i don't need extraordinary. that's what books and movies are for.

i've prayed. i've gotten down on my knees and sobbed against my comforter and begged. 

the last gift my older brother gave me was at christmas: a bottle of ralph lauren's romance. i spray it and think of the day after he died when i was out running errands, getting things for the memorial service. i heard him say i'll find you someone. such a delusion, but i believed it.

which is worse? wanting love in your life and not getting it or wanting to live without it?

the best antidote

August 31, 2018

hey!! good people!!! i need there to be an especially ginormous abundance of love being shared today.
reach out far and wide and tell as many folks as you can
that they are loved beyond measure. please.

this was the facebook status i posted the day my aunt committed suicide. contrary to what it may seem here, when depression gets the better of me, i don't share that kind of stuff on facebook. like everybody else, my facebook page is generally uplifting. i post pretty pictures i've painted or videos that warm my heart... it is a source of light for me.

that post got nineteen likes and fourteen loves and twelve comments. most of those comments were friends telling me they loved me. i wasn't fishing for that. i truly needed my friends to put love out into the universe that day. it didn't need it to come my way. not then. of the five hundred some friends i have on facebook, only one knew that something was very wrong for me that day. only one.

she messaged me:

hey friend. what's going on today? it seems like a particularly "not great" day.

god love her for her perceptiveness. god love her for giving a shit about me. 

after kate spade and anthony bourdain left us, i saw a shit ton of posts on facebook and twitter about how we should think to check on the strong ones. like they're the only ones worthy of the check. 

  1. When they all swept out of there 4 hours later, my place was a home. Not only was everything put away - but now it had a memory attached to it, a group memory, friends, laughing, dirty jokes, hard work. These are the kinds of friends I have. Be that kind of friend to others.
  2. That's the end. The "ask for help" advice is well-meaning but not really thought through. There's shame, there's enforced helplessness, there's the feeling you're not worth it, etc. My friends didn't wait for me to ask. They showed up. They took over. They didn't ask.

these are tweets from a thread i found today, and everything about this thread is SPOT ON, but these two speak volumes to me. VOLUMES.

i don't ask for help when my world is caving. it's not your job to make me feel better... or so i tell myself. i've lived with this shit for thirty-seven years. i bring a lot of this shit on myself. i don't want to burden you with my problems. i don't want your pity. i don't want your preaching -- because here's the thing... i know ALL the ways to battle depression. i know them. i have to care enough to use the tools. and if i'm depressed, i don't give a shit. about ANYTHING.

not that many people reach out to me. that's probably my fault. i know i'm not easy. i've never known easy. kind of hard to be something you don't know.

one friend has two children, a boy in california and a girl who lives at home but is about to embark on a global adventure for a few months. the boy was having health issues, and i imagine when your kid's in the emergency room half a continent away you'd feel pretty helpless. and then your girl's leaving in a few weeks... i imagine that'd make you feel pretty sad. and this friend battles depression, like me. she and her husband have partnered with another couple to operate a snow cone stand. it takes about an hour to get to it. i drove all that way to get a snow cone. to see her. that's the kind of friend i am.

i wish i had more friends like the one mentioned at the beginning of this post. i wish more of my friends thought enough of me to check in with me. i wish more of them took time for me.

because to be honest, the best antidote for depression is life. camaraderie. kindness.

the fall film challenge: my list

August 29, 2018

one. still alice.
two. how to make an american quilt.
three. the bookshop.
four. life itself.
five.  john wick.
six. before the flood.
seven. the guernsey literary and potato peel pie society.
eight. tag.
nine. deadpool two.
ten. peter rabbit.
eleven. why him?
twelve. destination wedding.
thirteen. sleeping with other people.
fourteen. easy a.
fifteen. outside providence.
sixteen. darkest hour.
seventeen. stronger.
eighteen. love, simon.
nineteen. operation finale.
twenty. the haunted mansion.
twenty-one. the miracle season.
twenty-two. every day.
twenty-three.  hired gun.
twenty-four.  before i fall.
twenty-five. unbroken: path to redemption.

i had originally intended to watch a star is born and battle of the sexes
but have decided to replace those titles with hired gun and before i fall.

and after devising the bonus round list, i have taken boy erased, bohemian rhapsody and fantastic beasts: crimes of grindelwald off and have added how to make an american quilt, john wick and john wick: chapter two. i've also taken beautiful boy, boy first man and what they had off this list and put them on the bonus one -- replaced them with the haunted mansion, easy a and peter rabbit. UGH. after watching john wick today and not being terribly impressed, i've taken the sequel off my list, which means i'm in need of another film... back to the drawing board. i don't think anyone's ever made as many changes as me.

the fifth annual fall film challenge began september first!
it's not too late to join!

for the lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights - proverbs 3:12

August 18, 2018

things can only get better

August 16, 2018

i haven't been to church in a long time. a friend talked me into going saturday. the readings spoke to me. the songs did. i bought some tamales afterward. two batches.

i boiled them both. the first batch came out just fine. i scarfed those babies down. they were divine.

the second one? i cooked them last night. i accidentally punctured the bag. they were a soggy mess. i ate them anyway.

today i got fired. from a job i loved. from a place i had loved working. that's the first time in my life i've been able to say that. that i loved working somewhere.

i'm drinking dos equis. by myself. and there's a storm brewing. please god, let the days get better soon.

the demons... the dreams i drown

August 14, 2018

hey now, take your change.

that's one of the first lines in u2's stay.

the first memory that comes to mind when i hear this song is the drive from montrose to grand junction to visit my mother's family after my brother died. i plug in pretty much the moment we pull out of the driveway until we dump our bags wherever we're staying -- it's how i deal with being in a box, whether it's my father's explorer or the shuttle from the parking lot to the airport or cramped in the window or middle seat on a flight (though to be honest, i've been pretty fortunate with the aisle seat lottery lately). i plug in to keep from having an anxiety attack. my mom's complained about this on more than one occasion. she would prefer that i be communicative and attentive. i'd prefer to keep my sanity. i win. anyway... i remember hearing this song on that trek, and it suited my mood then. i was twenty-nine. the first chords put me back in that car, riding behind my father, looking out at a gloomy colorado.

then there's that line. take your change. and i'm not in colorado anymore. i'm in san marcos. seven years younger. stupid, crazy in love with a boy we'll call elliot. not a good man. not by any means. but he'd impressed me with his talent and confidence and wit and eyes -- he has black eyes, like my grandmother's. the first time my grandfather saw her, all he could see of her was her eyes, and he fell hard. the first time i saw elliot, i couldn't help myself. i'm a sucker for pretty eyes and mad skills. the boy could play guitar better than anyone i knew. yeah. musician. i'm an idiot. i know. everybody else did, too. it was laughable in my circle of friends-who-weren't-friends that i liked him. so san marcos. hasting's entertainment -- a video and music store. i'd gone to visit one of those friends-not-friends -- we'll call him ben -- and his girlfriend. they'd insisted on watching caddyshack because i'd never seen it. so we took my car. i left my cigarettes at his apartment because he didn't like me smoking. we were standing in line to pay for the rental. val kilmer was on the cover of premier magazine for batman forever. i'd said something about that. something about him being hot.

ben laughed and said i thought elliot was the love of your life. 

i could've shrugged it off, except ben and i had gone to school together from fifth to eighth grade, and in junior high, when i'd asked him to sign my yearbook, he'd written to the love doctor...  he and the rest of my peers were relentless then, always making fun of how ugly i was. the moment he said that, i was reminded of decades before. i started laughing to keep from crying.

the cashier was holding out the change she'd made. i couldn't move. ben said get your change, jenn.

i said i realize you've never seen me upset so you don't know how i get when i'm that way, so i'll tell you: i start laughing hysterically, and i get incredibly sarcastic, and in case you haven't figured it out yet, i'm pissed. and i stormed out. i would've left them there. i would've gotten back in my car and made the three hour trek back to my solitary apartment in houston. but i let him drive my car, and he had the keys. i couldn't smoke a cigarette. had to wait until we got back to his apartment. i sat in the rear, behind the passenger seat, as far away from him as i could, pressed into the side. i could hear his girlfriend whisper, why'd you say that? i could see him shake his head and mutter i don't know. when we got back to his apartment, i snatched my cigarettes and went walking around the complex until the tears got the best of me, and i collapsed on some sidewalk. he found me. he apologized. we watched caddyshack. i remember chomping on tums like they were candy. i remember him watching me, worried.

so i'm reminded when i hear this song of how awful i am at loving. how careless. how thoughtless. and selfish.

the other day my father and i took a drive after dinner through some of the neighborhoods. it's easier for me to ride in a car when i'm in the front. i can see out more easily. i don't feel quite so claustrophobic. we had a nice chat. i enjoyed the time with him. but this one comment he'd made stuck with me. he said that i seemed less angry lately, more able to go with the flow, that i haven't been fighting as much. he didn't know if it was because of the medicine i'm taking or what, but he liked that i seemed happier.

i'm not fighting at all now. i wake up. i go about my day, and when it's over, i crawl into bed. rinse. repeat.

stay with the demons you drown...

i have given up. people said you've to let go of things, to give up the plans you have for yourself so that the plans god has in store for you can come to be. i'm not writing. i go to work. i come home. i play on the computer. i eat. i get ready for bed. i pop my pills. i sleep. rinse. repeat.

and it's not just my demons i drown now, but my dreams, too.

the fall film challenge

July 31, 2018

begins one minute past twelve a.m. september first / concludes midnight november thirtieth. you may NOT use a movie you have already seen, even in part (excluding trailers), for this challenge. all films MUST be new to you. all selections MUST have a page on the internet movie database and MUST have (had) a theatrical release. titles released outside of the united states are acceptable.

in previous challenges, membership to the fall film challenge facebook group was a requirement for prize eligibility. that is NOT the case this year. if you choose not to join the group, please find ways to communicate your progress with me so that i can keep accurate lists and ensure prizes are awarded correctly. for those who do join the group, there are nine photo albums, arranged by decade, on the group's page. once an individual has seen a film, he or she leaves a comment on the corresponding image saying when it was viewed and for what category so i can track progress. if you are not a member of the group and are in communication with me, i will make the necessary notes to stills representing your selections.

each film is valued at ten points. changes after the challenge has begun ARE acceptable.

the first five people to complete the challenge prior to november thirtieth will each receive a redbox gift card valued at ten dollars. if you complete the original list, you will be eligible to compete in the bonus round, the details of which will be revealed october fifteenth. the person to accumulate the most points at the event's conclusion will receive an amazon gift card valued at fifty dollars.

once you've joined the group and selected your films for the categories, post your choices to the group's page or email it to criticalcrass at me dot com so i may add your selections to the master list and, if necessary, upload the correlating stills to the galleries.

for previous challenges, individuals chose films that suited twenty-five categories. this year, i have forgone those for a game of six degrees of kevin bacon. choose twenty-five films that you can connect to other motion pictures in which he has starred in SIX FILMS OR LESS, counting his work and your choice. for example, the cast of black panther includes lupita nyong'o... who starred with michael fassbender in twelve years a slave... who starred with bacon in x-men: days of future past. DO NOT show the connections in your list. some of the fun this year is in seeing how others connect the films you've selected with kevin bacon. a sample:

one. black panther.
two. avengers: infinity war.
three. incredibles two.
four. jurassic world: fallen kingdom.
five. deadpool two.

in the past i've given yall helpful links. you're on your own this time. get to it.


June 22, 2018

i used to imagine were i to get married what my wedding would be like. most of the time i envisioned it at a catholic church in the woodlands, not far from where i live, and because my father is who is and is so well-loved by so many, i doubt very much the guest list would've been fewer than two hundred people. it would've been big... not so much because i wanted big but because i would've felt a need to invite so many. more presents, right?

but what i really wanted was small and simple. i wanted to get married at my great uncle's monastery so he could be there. and because my faith was rooted in that place. and because i wanted to celebrate on the lawn at sunset with my family. i would've wanted my spouse's family to know the tranquility of that place, and i would've preferred that chapter of my life to begin in someplace quiet and content.

of course, the older i got the more difficult it was for me to picture this future. my twenties came and went. my thirties. i'm halfway through my forties. the older i got the more ridiculous the picture seemed to be.

and then the monastery closed last summer.

and my munkle died this week.

i broke down at work today because the thing i most wanted to give him -- the knowledge that i would find that kind of love and have that kind of a life... that all his hopes and prayers for me had become reality. i couldn't give that to him. 

an image of what that day could've been like came to mind so fully that i was taken aback. i gripped the counter for balance and then fell to my knees and wept.

thank god no one was in the store. no one came in while i was crumpled on the ground.

brett young's mercy was playing. if you're gonna break my heart just break it.

i don't know how many more times mine can break.

let there be light

June 9, 2018

my aunt killed herself on wednesday.

i have always viewed my brother's death as a suicide -- but his method was painstaking and debilitating. he drank and drank and drank until his body said enough, and it took about a decade for that end to come. i lost my brother a long time ago, but was fortunate, just before he left us, to catch a glimpse of the man i knew him to be.

this woman, she'd been gone for years. i was too young when she married into my family to appreciate her personality to the fullest, and as i aged, her character got dimmer and dimmer and dimmer... i did not know her. 

it's easier for me to cope with her absence because i didn't know who she was. i knew of her struggles, and i know how depression can intensify them so that light, faith, hope and love are altered or altogether lost. there's a part of me that knows relief for her now. it's done. she's no longer crushed under the weight of burdens too impossible for her to bear. 

that weight, though... it, like the darkness, has shifted.

it's easy to hate when this kind of death occurs. it's easy to be angry. all that darkness, despair, fear and hatred migrate from the body of the deceased to the hearts of the living. 

it's easy to attach blame. someone somewhere must've said or done something that caused so-and-so to break.

it's easy to say that person was weak and selfish and stupid.

then we immortalize the dead -- assuming we loved them, of course. kurt cobain and robin williams are some of the best examples of this. it's such a tragedy. such an easy topic for conversation. how sad! can you believe? why didn't that person reach out for help? did you know? her instagram is always so fun and upbeat; she couldn't possibly have been depressed. and then there are the pleas from the public to get help, to reach out. to stay. hell, i've made them myself. 

i have been depressed since i was eight years old. when i was in college, i gave a presentation in an education class on child suicide, and when i was done, one of my classmates -- a middle-aged black man -- asked, so you wanted to kill yourself because you weren't a good daughter, sister, student and friend? 

i wanted to slap him. i managed to maintain my composure and responded: when you're an eight year girl, your only responsibilities are to be a good daughter, sister, student and friend, and i was failing at all of them. i reminded him that during the school year as future teachers we would see these children more than their parents would. i insisted that it wasn't a teacher's job to judge the burdens a child carries but to help that child carry them, and if that's not possible then find someone who can.

it's easy to belittle someone's struggles. it's EASY to belittle someone's pain.

by the time i was ten, i had a plan.

i've had one for thirty-five years. several, in fact. i know all the ways it can be done. i know there's never been a day where i've not thought i want to be dead. i know i wouldn't leave a note. those who know me best know damned well why i would want to leave this place. 

i also know i would never do that to my parents and brother, to my niece and nephew. i don't want one of those children to ever have to say my aunt killed herself today.

my facebook and twitter feeds are raging with suicidal thoughts. i need this to stop. i need, so much, to see light and faith and hope and love in social media, now more than ever.

  please god, let there be light.

four things celebrated in may

June 4, 2018

one. dwayne "the rock" johnson was born on may second of nineteen seventy-two. watch one of his movies. share a couple of his lines you loved.

okay. i watched jumanji: welcome to the jungle. i did not love any lines of dialogue from the film. not a damned one of them was remarkable enough to recommend it here.

two. adam yauch of the beastie boys died six years ago on may fourth at age forty-seven. what's your favorite song of theirs? give me four reasons why it's better than the rest.

the four reasons are in the lyrics:
a. they be staring at their radios
staying up all night
so like a pimp, i'm pimpin
i got a boat i eat shrimp in
got arrested at the mardi gras for jumping on a float
my man mca's got a beard like a billy goat

b. making other records cause the people they want more of this
suckers they be saying they could take out adam horovitz

c. but i rock well...
the patty duke show...
and then i bust the tango
got more rhymes than jamaicans got mangoes
that's my peg leg, that's the end of my stump
shake your rump

d. never been jumped
cause i'm the most mackinest
never been jumped
cause i'm the most packinest...
running from the law the press and the parents
is your name michael diamond?
no, mine's clarence

three. george lucas will turn seventy-three on may fourteenth. solo, the latest film in his star wars franchise, will be released on may twenty-fifth. rank all the films best to worst. where does this one fall on the list and why?

empire strikes back
return of the jedi
a new hope
the force awakens
solo: a star wars story
rogue one
revenge of the sith
phantom menace
attack of the clones
the last jedi

because i loved seeing the history of his character; i liked how none of the characters, save chewbacca, are reliable; i love alden's portrayal of han solo; i liked how the story tied in with the rest of the series; and i enjoyed it more than all the ones listed afterward.

four. emily dickinson died on may fifteenth, eighteen eighty-six. read this poetry foundation article. what are five things you learned about her from it?

a. after her death, family members found her hand-sewn books, containing nearly eighteen hundred poems.

b. the first volume of her poetry was published in eighteen ninety, four years after her death -- eleven editions were published in less than two years.

c. a complete volume of her poetry did not appear until nineteen fifty-five, but the poems were edited.

d. the first edition that reflected her order, unusual punctuation and spelling choices was not published until nineteen ninety-eight.