09 February 2016

Another season ends

As the 2015 football season officially ended with the 50th Super Bowl this week, I found a list of football movies to watch during the offseason.
Rudy -  starring a very young Sean Astin (whose mother, by the way, is Patti Duke)
Remember the Titans - one of Denzel's best; he plays real-life coach Herman Boone
Jerry MacGuire - Tom Cruise feeding his less-attractive side, but a lovely young  Renee Zellweger
Friday Night Lights -  never seen it, but looking forward to it
The Blind Side - the story of Michael Oher's emergence from poverty to the NFL; he played in          Superbowl 50 for the Carolina Panthers. Great feel-good movie for the whole fam!!
The Longest Yard (1964) - a great classic starring Eddie Albert and Burt Reynolds (when he was hot)
Varsity Blues - a must-see for Paul Walker fans; lots of then-unknown actors you will recognize!
Any Given Sunday -  shines an unappealing, albeit fictionalized, light on the NFL as a business.
Invincible -  my all-time favorite football movie, starring Mark Wahlburg as walk-on Vince Papale.
Knute Rockne All American - 1940 classic starring Ronald Reagan, and Pat O'Brien as Rockne.
We are Marshall - great come-back story starring Matthew McConaughey and Matthew Fox. I had the privilege of meeting two Marshall professors who lived through this era of their school's history. They gave me a copy of the DVD. I prize it.
The Replacements - an all-star cast that includes Gene Hackman and Keanu Reeves; not my fave.
The Waterboy - Adam Sandler, Kathy Bates, Henry Winkler. Very funny! (I was in a movie with Henry Winkler - great guy.)
Brian's Song (1979) - sobbed myself ugly watching James Caan and Billy Dee Williams in this classic. Must-see, and you will recognize the music!
Undefeated - a 2011 documentary on high school football
The Program - I've yet to see this 1993 classic starring James Caan.
My All American - an emotional bio-pic starring Finn Wittrock as UTEP player Freddie Steinmark.
Draft Day - here's a newer feel-good film, with Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner. I love this!
Concussion - nominated for Academy Awards (2016), here's a stunning look into the concussion-syndrome that continues to plague the sport, especially among former NFL and college players.
Fighting Back - college player is drafted and sustains injury in Viet Nam; returns to play.
Black Sunday and Two Minute Warning - both films are about terrorists targeting NFL stadiums

There are others, but these are the most notable. You're welcome!

04 February 2016


Top of Form
Ubiquity. Ubiquitous. Ubiquitousness.

 Remember the ubiquitous pink flamingoes that adorned suburban yards in the 1950s? The glass grapes and wax fruit on the tables of those same homes in the 1960s? And macramé that hung in those homes in the 70s? I’ve see a lot of decorating trends come and go over the decades, so I’m going out on a limb to make a prediction for the “remember when” of the 2010s: the ubiquitous plastic topiary trees.

Topiary trees are versatile and appropriate for oh, so many settings. The plastic allows them to stay green and perfectly shaped all year long. When they get dusty, you can spray them off. [Picture a homemaker in shower with her topiary or willow balls!] Interior decorators will assure you that these gems are well-worth their discount prices, as they can be kept on the porch, in the doorway, at the office, on the patio, in the living room, and on the hearth near the fake fire. I’ve even seen miniature topiary décor in bathrooms. Oy vey -- these puppies are everywhere!

The willow balls portend even greater usefulness, as they are smaller and can be grouped in bowls, on dishes, in baskets, and next to the topiary. They are more versatile than greenery, because they can be spray painted any color to match every type of décor. But middle class homes are not the only places we will be seeing the ever-present topiary. No, doctor’s offices, banks, and car dealerships will make use of these quasi-attractive and semi-permanent fixtures to add verve and vibrancy to their otherwise lifeless workspaces.

Thanks for hundreds of industrious Pinterest pages, it's possible to fashion unique topiary pieces to fit your individual tastes. Check out this proud Pinterest post: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/300333868876496434/. Or this plethora by Pinterest pioneers: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/300333868876493891/

It is useless trying to avoid or ignore topiary trees and willow balls. They are ubiquitous, and I predict they shall remain so for the foreseeable future. One day my grandchildren will say, "Remember those plastic topiary trees and willow balls that were everywhere when we were kids?" Karma is ubiquitous.

23 January 2016

Chomping at the Bit*

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up book cover

While waiting for the closing on our home, I have been reading a lot this month. I just finished The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing**, which I knew would be -- well -- life-changing. The rules are simple to learn and easy to remember. So, as we move into the new house this week, I will be touching each item before it crosses the threshold. If it does not bring me joy, it will remain in the garage with the plethora of items to be donated. I am committed.  I have a client for whom I organize things: drawers, closets, files, cupboards, etc. If I can do it for her, I can  surely do it for myself. I am committed. The clothing that I inherited from my mother-in-law's passing, the books I have yet to donate or read, and the miscellany that has been rife in past abodes will not be allowed into this, my last, home.  Hopefully this philosophy will bleed into the garage, where a certain someone keeps far too many "tools" ("clutter" is such an ugly word!). Fingers crossed. I am committed. Anyone looking for a Japanese cherrywood china cabinet?

*On a side note: my use of "chomping at the bit" is in fact correct, according to http://grammarist.com/usage/champing-chomping-at-the-bit/

**Marie Kondo: http://tidyingup.com/books/the-life-changing-magic-of-tidying-up-hc

Book Review: A Dangerous Inheritance

I have been reading biographies, autobiographies, and historical fiction since I was twelve years old. One rainy Saturday I rooted around the books on the shelves at home and found The Cry and the Covenant, by Morton Thompson. "Is it okay if I read this book?" I asked my mother. "I don't care," was all she gave me to go on. What ensued was a graphic and riveting story of Ignaz Semmelweis's discovery of germs, based on his experiences in a Paris maternity hospital. (You can read this classic online or download it at https://openlibrary.org/works/OL7029011W/The_cry_and_the_covenant.)

As part of my 2016 goal of 52 books, I read Alison Weir's A Dangerous Inheritance, which combines the stories of two girls named "Kate" -- one the daughter of Richard III, the other the sister of Lady Jane "the nine-days-queen" Grey. The two never met, of course, as they lived in different centuries. While their stories may have been interesting, and may have even overlapped, Weir weaves a confusing and lackluster see-saw story. In a book like Toni Morrison's Beloved, readers are treated to a collage of stories that only converge eventually. Nevertheless, that read is satisfying. By contrast, A Dangerous Inheritance is plodding, juvenile, and predictable. The dialogue between medieval characters sounds so contemporary as to be anachronistic. If I had never read any of Philippa Gregory's novels on queens and aristocratic women of Tudor England, I might have settled for Weir's well-researched offering. I have read other Weir novels and enjoyed them more than this one. So, even by Alison Weir's standards, A Dangerous Inheritance falls short of satisfaction. But I made it through my book of the week. Next week, John Grisham's newest novel.

If you'd like to know more about Alison Weir, visit http://alisonweir.org.uk/books/index.asp
which is quite informative. Try one of her other novels and let me know what you think. Seriously.