Showing posts with label Book of the Week. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Book of the Week. Show all posts

Friday, December 13, 2013

Alone for the Holidays: A Checklist and The Week in Reviews

I just about had a heart attack when I realized there were only two more Saturdays until Christmas. But then I realized we were going to be alone this year anyway and I guess Saturdays don't really matter that much anymore to me since I am retired.  Every day is Saturday.  But I still get nervous about getting everything done.

Here is what I have already done.

Sent out holiday cards.  Check
I griped about the lost art of correspondence in an earlier blog  so I take my own advice.  I don't believe in the annual "bragging" letters so many people send out.  I like hearing from my friends but reading about their dog's graduation from obedience school or little Jimmy's home run last April isn't my cup of tea.  What I do want to hear is that I have been a good friend.  So that's what I try to do each year when I send out my cards.  I write a little personal note letting my friends know what they mean to me or I remind them of a happy memory that includes them.  All in all, it doesn't really take that much more time than that long, typed, impersonal letter.  By the way, did I tell you my son made partner in his law firm?  Oops.

All of the trees are up and decorated.  Check
Yes, I said "all."  Not sure how it happened but we have a tree in the living room, tree in the family room and trees in the bedrooms.  Two are real.

Living room tree. 

Real tree in old fashioned decorations topped off with red velvet bows.

(2016 Update - the living room tree is now a fake tree with a new look)


Family room tree. 
Real tree in gold and white accented by pieces of ribbon.  My more sophisticated effort.  And yes, that's a large Beatles poster behind it.  I told you I was a fan. ( Remember my blog, "Why the Beatles Matter?")

Bedroom tree. 
 Fake tree with all of the leftover ornaments.  But it's comforting to have a little tree in the bedroom since I spend so much time there.

There are also little trees in the guest rooms.

Decorations are up.  Check

Presents to those far away have been sent.  Check.

So that is what I have done so far.

But it is actually a rather sad exercise as we will be all alone this Christmas. 

Those three stockings on the right are for our dogs. Our two children will be spending Christmas with their other families this year.

I still need to

  • Buy decorative empty boxes so it will look like we have presents under the trees.

  • Get out the dogs' holidays sweaters and Santa costumes.  At least we have them.

  • Bake.  No one will be around to see you get fatter, so what's the diff?

  • Watch Lifetime Christmas movies and cry.

But then, after the "to do" list is done...

Get over it, throw a party and then head off to some great place!

Like Paris!

Are you going to be alone this Christmas? 
If so, what are your plans?

Now on to the Week in Reviews.

It's been a slow week because of the holidays.


It's Nazi Germany right before WWII and young Liesel is being fostered by the Hubermanns, a German couple.  When she arrives, she can't read but has kept a book to remind her of her dead brother.  She learns to read and finds solace in stealing books and reading them to others, especially the young Jewish man the family is hiding.

When Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson are starring you can usually expect some good acting.  Unfortunately the characters are stereotypical and the script and dialog is a bit of a jumble.  This film is an adaption of the best-selling and award winning book by Marcus Zusak and appears to be suffering from the translation.  Trying to pack everything from a book into a two-hour film sometimes doesn't work.  It didn't here.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Good intentions, but just misses the mark.  Wait for it on DVD if you still want to see it.

Movies You Might Have Missed
And some you will be glad you did!
(I see the bad ones so you don't have to)

Hapless failed NYC playwright stages a fake suicide to get her boyfriend back only to end up back home with her gambling addicted mother.

The jury is still out on Kristin Wiig in romantic comedies.  She is a brilliant comedienne, but she struggles with the pathos.  Annette Bening is the star here.  I always forget what a good actress she is and here she plays against type as a floozy.

Rosy the Reviewer says...See it for Bening's performance and a few laughs.

True story of an Alaskan State Trooper who joins forces with a young woman, who was almost a victim of a serial killer, and together they bring him to justice.

It's up in the air about Nicholas Cage's acting, but here he does quite well.  On the other hand, there is no question that John Cusack is a consummate actor and here he is slimy and twitchy as befits the serial killer, Robert Hanson.  And it's all very frozen and cold and Alaska-like, as it should be.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Wasn't expecting much.  But this film delivered beyond expectations.  A recommended crime thriller.

A journalist and his girlfriend get pulled in while they investigate a cult whose leader claims to be from the future.

I am a big fan of Brit Marling, who co-wrote this screenplay.  She also co- wrote and starred in The East and Another Earth, two other very interesting indie films.

Rosy the Reviewer says...See this for Marling.

***Book of the Week***

Johnny Carson by Henry Bushkin (2013)

An inside look at the enigmatic, fiercely private Carson by his lawyer and friend.

It makes me sad to think that the current generation probably doesn't know who Johnny Carson was, but for Baby Boomers, he was a welcome addition to our homes late at night.  I know he kept me company many a night while my husband was in Vietnam.  He hosted "The Tonight Show" for 30 years (1962-1992) and was the highest paid performer of his day. I sometimes have a problem with biographies about people who are dead as there is no way to know the truth behind the dish, but Bushkin was there for much of Johnny's career and he has a lot to share, such as Carson's womanizing, sometimes heartlessness toward his family and a run-in with the mob.  However, it's a bit heavy on the business side of Carson's life and career (divorce settlements and contract negotiations), but I guess that's to be expected since this guy was his attorney and business manager.

Rosy the Reviewer says...He was one-of-a-kind.  If you are not that familiar with him, a better "starter" book might be Lawrence Leamer's "King of the Night."  Check your local library.

That's it for this week.

See you Tuesday!

And Happy Holidays!

Thanks for reading!
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Friday, November 29, 2013

Gratitude and the Week in Reviews

[I review the movies "Dallas Buyers Club," "The Way Way Back," "Scenic Route," "The Internship," "And While You Were Here" and the book "House in the Sky."]

But first


It's the day after Thanksgiving and, except for the scream I let out that was like a banshee from hell when I stepped on the scale, I am full of gratitude.

And when I think of all that I am grateful for, happy and sometimes funny memories come flooding back.

So the first thing I am grateful for is all of the happy and funny memories I have.

So here is my list of what I am grateful for with some accompanying happy and sometimes funny memories.


We found each other over 30 years ago when we were both at loose ends, and over the last 30 years, we have tied those loose ends together and created a happy life.  He has been a good husband and father.

I am so grateful for that.

Happy, Funny Memory:  On our first date, late into the evening, we sang a boozy duet of "Endless Love" together (and I'm not talking about karaoke.  It was just the two of us).

I knew he was the one.

My son

He and I were all alone and I didn't know what the future would be until I met Hubby.  Now 33 years later, my son is a successful attorney and partner in a law firm.  But more importantly, he is a wonderful, kind man, husband and father.

I am so grateful for that.

Happy, funny memory: When he was about the age in the picture above, he told me he loved me "more than life itself."

I was so happy!  I couldn't believe it.  For one thing, what a mature thing to say, but even better, that he loved me that much.  It wasn't until later when he was watching Walt Disney's animated "Robin Hood" movie, which was a particular favorite of his, that I overheard "Robin" say to "Maid Marian," "I love you more than life itself."

So much for that. 

My daughter

My daughter was an amazing student, like her brother.  She was given the opportunity to go to Stanford and that has held her in good stead as she moves forward in her career.  But she is also a wonderful, kind woman who is happily married.

And I am grateful for that.

Happy, funny memory:  When my daughter was learning to speak she had trouble with her compound consonants such as "TR."  She would turn them into "F's."  She also used to like to point at things she would see as we were driving around and yell out what they were. 

Trucks were a favorite.

Well you get the picture.  My mother was not amused.

My parent's long lives

Since I wasn't born until my parents were 40, I am so grateful they both lived to be in their 80's and 90's.  When you think that my parents were 72 when my son was born, it was a miracle he and my daughter (they were 76 when she was born) knew their grandparents at all.  But even though they were young when they knew them, my parents are remembered by my children.  And it doesn't hurt to come from a family with longevity.

I am so grateful for that.

Happy, Funny Memory: My Dad playing and singing this on the piano.

A peanut sat
On a railway track
His heart was all a flutter
Around the bend came number ten
Choo! Choo! Peanut butter!!!
And then he would chuckle that deep so-satisfied-with-himself chuckle of his.

And this time of year especially, my mother's pies.


I know there is much to despair about with FB but being able to keep up with old friends and meet new ones has helped me immensely as I have moved to a new town, embarked upon retirement, and, dare I say it, old age?  I can keep up with my children, my friends, my relatives, my old friends from long ago...

I am grateful for that.

Happy Funny memory:  I am talking to and sharing with friends from 40 years ago which brings back all kinds of happy and funny memories.

Seattle Stair Walks

Walking is my favorite exercise.  Yes, I go to the gym, but long walks are my exercise of choice.  Add to the walk new neighborhoods and environments and I am in heaven.  When we first moved to Seattle we went through at least two "urban walks" type books and that helped immensely to get to know the place, but we have had the most fun with "Seattle Stairway Walks" by Jake and Cathy Jaramillo. Seattle is a town of hills and stairs to get up and down those hills.  Every walk includes beautiful residential areas, lush greenery and stairs and more stairs.

Happy Memory:  That my ass is smaller because of this book.


I am grateful that I have a pension from 30 years of work and can retire.  I know many people can't (like Hubby) or worry about how they will manage without a job.  Retirement enables me to spend time with myself, something I am finding very rewarding.

I am so grateful for that.

Happy Funny Memory:  Working on it.

My Nexus card

We would go to Canada and when crossing the border see this entrance to the border patrol called NEXUS.  It hardly ever had any cars in it.  I decided to investigate.  Hubby and I are now "trusted travelers" and we can not only use that fast line to get across the border to Canada, but we can use the TSA Pre-check line at the airport.  We can keep our shoes on, no need to pull out the Ipad or the cosmetics.  It's quick and easy.  Love it!

I am so grateful for that.

Happy, Funny Memory:  Thinking nah-nah-na-nah-nah as we whiz through security at the airport or across the border.  No, not really, that would be immature and mean.

The fact that tea isn't fattening

It seems like such a small thing, but let me tell you...anything that is not fattening is a blessing.

I am so grateful for that.

Happy Memory:  High tea at The Ritz in London.


With children and grandchildren living hundreds and thousands of miles away, Skype helps keep us connected.

I am so grateful for that.

Happy Funny Memory:  Watching "Cars," the movie with my grandson.  He is obsessed


When we first got TIVO, I thought this would change my life - well, my TV viewing habits anyway.  No more would I be a captive to the TV.  I could set up automatic recording for shows I liked and then watch them when it was convenient.  Well, that was the idea. 

The reality is it affords me the opportunity to watch way more TV than I ever could have without it. And that's not a good thing.  I find myself setting up Season Passes (this is an action that will automatically record an entire series of a program) for shows I probably never would have watched. 

Not so happy, but funny memory:  I fell to a new low when I actually watched an episode of "Buying Naked."


Hubby gave this to me for Christmas last year.  It works with TIVO and allows you to watch everything on your TV remotely from an IPAD or another device as if you were in real time at home.  It is very cool when you are traveling, especially in other countries where the TV is in a different language.  Not that I spend much time watching TV when I am traveling. Really, I don't.

Strange, funny memory: Here is what I have used it for.  When I am traveling, I turn it on and if I can access my TV from my IPad, I know my TV is still there and we haven't been robbed!


I am grateful for libraries, not just because they sustained my career, but because libraries represent what this country is all about:  freedom - the freedom to read, the freedom to access information, the freedom to view and it's a place for people to gather to exchange ideas.

I am grateful for that.

Happy Funny Memory:  All of the wonderful people I have worked with and met, some very funny.


No elaboration needed here. 

And there is someone else who is grateful for that who will remain nameless, but his initials are W.G.P.

He is so grateful for that.

Speaking of which, my list would not be complete without my gratitude to the Wine Guzzling Poodle and his two cohorts.  They have given us too many happy, funny memories to recount.

This actually is not a complete list. 

I think of things I am grateful for every day.
I am grateful for that!

What are you grateful for?


Now on with the Week in Reviews. 

Take a break from holiday madness, do something nice for yourself, and lose yourself in a film or a book.



Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

Matthew McConaughey plays Ron Woodroof, a hard living homophobe who finds himself with the AIDS virus.  It's 1985 and he can't get the drugs he feels he needs to save himself.  So he sets up a "buyer's club" to help himself and other AIDS sufferers get the drugs they need from Mexico and other countries and the FDA tries to stop him.

Much was made of McConaughey's weight loss and his transformation is amazing.  But Jared Leto must also be recognized.  Looks like he did the same thing.  You would never recognize him from teen heartthrob days, though he makes a beautiful woman.  Both will no doubt be recognized by the Academy come Oscar time. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you liked Silkwood or Erin Brockovich, you will like this film.  But it's the acting that stands out here.

Movies You Might Have Missed
And some you will be glad you did!

(I see the bad ones so you don't have to)
Duncan is 14 and on vacation with his mother and her new overbearing boyfriend.
An unflattering picture of adults at play through the eyes of children.
It's interesting to see Steve Carell in an unsympathetic role, but Allison Janney is the one who steals the show in the role of the ditzy, drunken next door neighbor with a heart of gold.  You don't often see her play these types of roles.  I am thinking - Academy Award nomination?  Also Liam James is a fine young actor who can convey his character's transformation just through the use of his shoulders.
Rosy the Reviewer says...a sweet coming of age story that shows how the sins of the parents can rain down on the children. 
Highly recommended.

Scenic Route (2013)
Two lifelong friends are on a road trip through Death Valley and their truck breaks down.  Bad stuff happens. 
I enjoy the occasional horror film and that's what I thought this was going to be, but actually, it was more of a character study about what happens when you are stranded and broken down into your barest most base self and secrets and regrets are revealed - a kind of demented, violent "My Dinner with Andre."
Rosy the Reviewer says...It's one of those "will they or won't they" get rescued movies with an ending that will likely spark discussion. I liked it but, Josh, you are too handsome for a Mohawk and romantic comedies miss you!
Two salesmen (of the worst kind) find themselves jobless so talk their way into an internship at Google.
Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are both funny guys and this was a cute premise, but this film misses the mark.
Rosy the Reviewer says...This is no Wedding Crashers.  
It's predictable and I didn't laugh.
Unhappy married woman in Naples meets and falls for a young boy.
The lush Naples backdrop is the star here.  Otherwise, a rather vapid story with vapid characters.  Jamie Blackley, the young love interest, is worth watching.
Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like travelogues, you might enjoy this.  And can Kate Bosworth be any skinnier?

***Book of the Week***

A House in the Sky (2013) by Amanda Lindhout
An adventurous young woman travels to dangerous destinations and finds herself a kidnap victim in Somalia.

For 460 days, Canadian Amanda Lindhout endured all kinds of deprivation and sexual abuse at the hands of her captors, resorting to converting to Islam in hopes of finding compassion in her captors. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...a harrowing read.  If you liked "A Mighty Heart" or "American Hostage," you might like this.

Try your local library for DVDs and books listed.

That's it for this week.


See you next Tuesday
where I will share my travel tips for seniors
(and others too)!

Thanks for reading! 
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