Gotta have some wacky Christmas going on. Ray has a membership of some sort with Maker's Mark whiskey. It has proven amusing. As you can see, his Maker Mark bottle received a sweater one year. This year - ear muffs (and Ray got a ski type headband)
It's that time of year for some Christmas classics. Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory is wonderful. Then How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss is fun. "Twas the Night Before Christmas" must be read on Christmas eve. Don't forget A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
Or sit and tell your own Christmas tales - the magic is there
Two batches of Christmas cookies are already gone - my guys at work gobbled them as if they never had sweets in their lives. And Ray said goodies disappeared quickly at his company luncheon on Thursday.
Just me and a Betty Crocker pouch of peanut butter cookie mix - add egg, oil, and water. So easy to bring joy.
Spotlight is fast paced and tells quite a tale
based on true events. I’ve always liked a “hold the presses” movie and this is
old fashioned news beat story telling. Back in 2001, the Boston Globe’s special
news team – Spotlight- started researching information on priest abuse. The
numbers grew and they realized they had more than a few priests involved – this
was a whole system of lies. Interviews, knocking on doors, confirmation of
names, and more research yielded an amazing sad expose of lives forever
affected due to the trust given to the Catholic church.
Tight film making and great acting gives Spotlight a
classy edge. Michael Keaton is the editor raised in Boston and entrenched
in the parish affected. Liev Schreiber is the new comer to the area who
questions the fiber of the system. Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams are the
boots on the ground researchers, digging ever deeper and getting the necessary
interviews to confirm the pain and suffering of former altar boys. Stanley
Tucci plays the lawyer who’s been fighting the church for a long time. The cast
interaction heightens the drama and sense of urgency to the story.
Oscar buzz surrounds this film and it’s a worthy contender.
If you want a well done, smart film experience, then train your eyes on Spotlight.
Mary Karr’s The Liar’s Club was a sensational
memoir. She followed it up with Cherry and Lit. Now
she’s using her skills as a writer and years as a professor and combining the
two for The Art of Memoir. It is not a step by step how-to book,
but rather a general discussion of the elements needed to put a personal story
down on paper. From the cover blurb – she breaks open our concepts of memory
and identity, and illuminates the cathartic power of reflecting on the
past: anybody with an inner life or complicated history, whether writer or
reader, will relate.
She uses other writers as examples and also delves into her
own process. She admits to fear. She describes the concern of baring her soul,
facing demons, and dealing with her own family and their perspective on their
roles in her life. Mary Karr says, “ In some ways, writing a memoir is knocking
yourself out with your own fist, if it’s done right.”
Everyone has a story, but how do you make yours interesting
to others? She discusses all the senses and how to throw your reader into
the life you are depicting. She says, “ Everyone has a past, and every past
spawns fierce and fiery emotions about what it means.” If you are writing a
memoir, you are taking a side and trying to be fair in the exposition of the
tale. Will the reader stay on your side? Or will they drift and wonder what you
are hiding? It’s a dance of sorts, and words are the musical pacing.
I enjoyed The Art of Memoir and marked off
many pages for the wisdom, wit, and advice Ms. Karr shares. She’s been a
favorite writer of mine and does not disappoint. P. 215 Writing, regardless
of the end result – whether good or bad, published or not, well reviewed or
slammed – means celebrating beauty in an often ugly world. And you do that by
fighting for elegance and beauty, redoing or cutting the flabby, disordered
parts. Whether you are a writer or a reader, The Art of Memoir
will strike a chord in your heart and have you digging into your own life story.
The original Rocky was a sleeper movie – low
budget, heartwarming story, and a lovable lunk mumbling “Yo, Adrian.” It won
the Oscar for Best Picture back in 1977. Then the sequels arrived, each more
outlandish than the next and the series became an excessive joke. Now, after a
long time, Creed arrives on screen and it harks back to the
original – a heartwarming story, a lovable lunk mumbles “Yo Adrian”, and
there’s a kid with a chip on his shoulder who manages to prove to himself that
he’s worthy of his name and he’s a fighter.
Michael B. Jordan is Adonis “Donny” Johnson, illegitimate
son of Apollo Creed – the champion boxer back in the day. Donny fights his way
through foster care until Apollo’s second wife takes him in and provides a home
long after Apollo died. Donny never knew his father. Fast forward to today when
Donny is winning fights in Mexico, quits his respectable financial job, moves
to Philadelphia, and seeks out the Italian Stallion himself – Rocky Balboa.
Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) keeps a low profile these days running a restaurant.
He has no intention of taking on a boxer to train. But something about this
kid, the history, and the chance for redemption for Apollo.
Now the focus of the movie is on training – running through
the streets of Philly (which looks awesome in this film), the physical and
mental strain, the slow build-up to a huge match against Ricky “Pretty Boy”
Conlan – a tough boy from Liverpool with a grand reach, fast feet, and a faster
lip. Who has the staying power? Adonis Creed who must acknowledge his
name and the demons that come with it? Or Rocky, old guy, who gets a medical
diagnosis that ain’t pretty? They have to fight together.
Creed is a boxing movie and yes it culminates
in the Big Fight. But it’s way more than that. It’s about esteem, family,
history, guts, determination , roots, plus heart and soul. Michael B. Jordan is
excellent – he’s physically ripped, but he’s more than that. His face reflects
his feelings and you want to root for him. Sly Stallone is great too – he’s
always been underrated, and he shows a deft touch as a mentor. Philly shines,
and yes, you want to run up those Art Museum steps with the Rocky theme wafting
over the city. Step into the ring and soar.
JK Rowling, writing as Robert Galbraith, is so darn good.
I’ve featured her first two novels – The Cuckoo’s Calling and The
Silkworm – and now she’s back with Career in Evil. I
think this is the best Cormoran Strike book yet.
From the cover blurb – When a mysterious package is
delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a
woman’s severed leg. Her boss, detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but
no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be
responsible – and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and
Yowza – now that will make you turn pages.
Indeed, the book progresses with some grisly murders. It’s
obvious a serial murderer is on the loose. Cormoran and Robin are under police
surveillance. They, in turn, are doing their own investigative work. Meanwhile,
chapters offer up the killer’s viewpoint and as the reader, we have no idea who
this is. We are as stumped as Robin and Strike. Meanwhile, Robin is
maybe getting married, maybe not. Trying to maintain a relationship is very
tough in this business. And at one point, Robin and Strike are at odds – now
that makes it tough for the reader. We root for both of them – they are our
Cover blurb – A fiendishly clever mystery with unexpected
twists around every corner, Career of Evil is also a gripping story of a man
and a woman at a crossroads in their personal and professional lives.
I love JK Rowling. She truly is a superb writer with a
clever imagination and a gift for rich descriptions and characters. This is her
best mystery yet and kept me guessing until the very end. Turn on all the
lights, snuggle under an afghan and treat yourself to a great read.
The new film Brooklyn is an immigrant
tale written by Nick Hornby. 1950s small town Ireland does not offer a lot of room for growth.
It’s a land of predictability – you live, marry, and die. But more is meant for
Eilis Lacey. Her sister Rose arranges via the priest for Eilis to travel to
Brooklyn, live in a respectable boarding house, and work at a department store.
Rose will stay in Ireland, continue working as a bookkeeper, and care for
their mother. So Eilis ventures into an unknown world. After a bout of
homesickness, she soon meets a young man. It’s shocking but he’s Italian.
But it’s not Ireland. It’s America, and it’s okay. Eilis grows into her job –
learning to laugh and interact with customers. The local priest (Jim Broadbent)
sponsors her night school so she can achieve her dream to someday become an
accountant. She’s blossoming before our eyes into an independent young woman –
Circumstance bring her back to Ireland and she has to face
her past to decide on her future. The auld sod is in her heart, but she’s torn.
She has a new life in Brooklyn. This tender movie is sweet, poignant, and
well-acted. Saoirse Ronan’s clear blue eyes captivate the screen. She’s
excellent and you root for her. Jim Broadbent is perfect as the local priest
looking out for her. Julie Walters is a welcome presence as the boarding house
marm. Emory Cohen, Tony the Italian suitor, is a charmer. And Domhnall Gleeson
is the Irish lad in the old home town.
Brooklyn presents choices, growth, humor,
love, and tells a tale about home and what the word embodies. It’s rich and
presents the energy of America. It’s a good movie to see in this holiday season
and to give thanks.
Joanne Faries, originally from the Philadelphia area, lives in Texas with her husband Ray. She considers herself fortunate to be able to pursue a writing career after eons in the business world. Joanne enjoys reading and movies, and is the film critic for the Little Paper of San Saba.