And if you’re still in the mood for more bad taste, visit “25 Insanely Sexist Vintage Valentines” at courtesy of BuzzFeed. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Yeah, it’s been a sucky year. But in the immortal words of Commander Peter Quincy Taggart, “Never give up! Never Surrender!” For now, raise one for all of use, because we’re going to need it in the new year. But when has anything worth having ever been easy? Here’s hoping all that strife has been worth it!
Happy holidays to all!
Movies are my favorite form of escapism, and when I first posted this list a while ago, the only diversion I needed was one from the over-commercialism of the season. How quaint that seems now. Without going into the reasons why, let’s just take these little gems for what they’re worth, a short vacation out of a reality that’s become too grim of late. So get cozy, grab the popcorn and lose yourself in these trifles of holiday storytelling.
1. The Shop Around the Corner ( 1940) – Must be my Eastern European blood calling to me, but I just love this sparkling Ernst Lubitsch romance set in a prewar Budapest gift shop. Starring James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan as two battling sales clerks who don’t know they’re falling in love via the post, as each other’s anonymous pen pal. Stellar secondary characters, including a priceless William Tracy as the cheeky delivery boy, Pepi. The Christmas Eve menu at the end had me salivating.
2. The Man Who Came to Dinner ( 1942) – After dining at a Ohio local’s home during a lecture tour, notoriously acerbic radio personality Sheridan Whiteside slips on his hosts’ icy steps, and takes over not only their house but their lives. Starring Monty Woolley as The Man and Bette Davis as his aide-de-camp, the snark and sarcasm are so sharp and quick you’ll come away nicked but you’ll be laughing too hard to care. Still fresh over seventy years later, The Man is based on Algonquin Roundtable-er, Alexander Woolcott, his cronies thin veneers of Noel Coward, Harpo Marx, Gertrude Lawrence and all who were definitely in-crowd.
3. Holiday Affair (1949) – No one did heavy-lidded better than The Mitch, and the very fact that he actually made a holiday film piqued my curiosity enough to watch it. Just by the look of this poster you could see the only thing that remotely indicated that it had anything to do with Christmas was war-widow’s Janet Leigh’s sheer wrapping definitely promised presents for someone. Oh, somewhere among the movie’s a plot involving a department store clerk and a retail spy, a sassy kid, a train set, a jilted–oh who cares! Mitch smolders and Janet’s a brush fire waiting to happen.
4. A Christmas Story ((1983) – All nine-year-old Ralphie wants for Christmas is a genuine Red Ryder BB gun, and he’ll do darn near anything to get it. Based on the recollections of storyteller Jean Shepherd’s In God We Trust – All Others Pay Cash, Peter Billingsley had the part of a lifetime that until this day loops every Christmas on cable channel TBS. Darren McGavin ought to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award for one priceless part as Ralphie’s dad who spouts the immortal words, “It’s a major award!”
5. The Holiday (2006) – Don’t ask me why I like this story of American movie trailer maker Cameron Diaz, and English wedding column writer Kate Winslet who swap their respective Hollywood and Surrey homes for the Christmas holidays. Maybe it’s got something to do with Jude Law being tossed into the mix, I don’t know, but the whole thing sure sounds like a good idea to me.
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No lie, it was freaking ninety degrees in Jersey today. Like it’s the middle of July, I’ve been blasting the air conditioner inside my house and on the road. What’s worse, here it is three days from October, and I’ve yet to see anyone cradling Pumpkin Spice coffee yet (not that it’s any great loss to mankind). But how would you when the only thing anyone still wants steaming is the hot fudge atop their sundae? Really, I’ve had it with summer already. I want the temperature bearable. I want a frost to finally get rid of these bastard mosquitoes who’ve been chomping my legs all summer. But let me give you a few more reasons why I’m so much more about Autumn than the hellacious weather this year passed as summer. (And if you think you’ve read some of this before, well hey, you can’t plagiarize yourself, and dammit, some things just bear repeating):
1. Apples – Gala, Cortland, Mac, Granny – sure you can get them at the supermarket all year ’round, but this time of year, you can pluck them right off the tree. Here in the Northeast there’s no shortage of apple farms, and luckily enough, no shortage of Apple Festivals and Hard Apple Cider samples either. This abundance of apples leads to the inevitable apple cakes, apple muffins, apple sauce, fried apples, apple fritters, apple dumplings, apple doughnuts, applesauce, apple lasagna…
2. Cooler Nights – Seriously, I have nothing intrinsically against summer, but I also like to get a good night’s sleep. And I don’t care what you say about air conditioning – the only difference it makes to my downtime is I get a bit of Sinus Inflamed Fitful Sleep instead of wallowing the night away in a pool of sweat-soaked sheets. Big difference from leaving the window opened a tad and tucking the covers under your chin. Plus you can snuggle up with the person next to you and not have your skin go phwhuck! from the contact. So much pleasanter. And quieter!
3. Better Movies – With the summer blockbuster season behind us, the studios finally roll out their “serious” films, as we get closer to Oscar time. Goodbye car chases, blue screens and dick flicks, I can finally revel in some meaningful dialogue and decent acting. Now if I could only find a theater that’s actually showing one I would be happy.
4. Boots! – And tights and leggings and socks. Look, there’s nothing like freeing your feet for sandals and walking barefoot. But with that comes a lot of leg and foot maintenance. I mean seriously, pedicures aren’t cheap–$35, $40, $50 a pop, and you wouldn’t want to see what my toenails look like when I do them myself. It’s worth every penny, but sinking your tootsies in knee-high boots and zipping them over a tight pair of jeans has merit, too. Not to mention skipping a time or two with the razor or wax job. Invaluable.
5. Scarves Are Back – Love them. LOVE THEM. They make you look artsy and dramatic, and keep your neck warm at the same time. What other article of clothing can you buy at Target that says so much for so little? Plus they keep the collar of that wool jacket you look tres chic in from itching so bad you’d like to rip your skin off. Ah, the price of fashion…
Let the leaves fall!
I’ve been told that several “Easter eggs” have been planted throughout Outlander Season Three premiering this Sunday, September 10 on Starz. So what’s an Easter egg? It’s those little hidden gifts the producers like to plant in various scenes that only true fans will know the significance of. Sounds like fun and I can’t wait to look for them. But you’re an old-time devotee of the series, then you’ve already noticed quite a few pieces of coal as well. What I mean is we old-timers have been on the Claire/Jamie team for twenty-five years now since the Diana Gabaldon’s first book of the series, Outlander, debuted in 1992. And as readers of the books–sometimes two or three times–there’s certain things that have veered from the texts. Personally, I’m not complaining, as many variations have either had no significance or even improved the story. And since Diana Gabaldon has had such an active part in the production, she must approve of the changes. Plus ultimately, showrunner Ronald D. Moore is certainly entitled to his own vision and for the most part, I overwhelmingly approve. Still, there are some things that have veered from the written text that stand out for me (and if you don’t want to know what they are, if you think I’m a spoilsport and should just shut up and watch, then stop reading right here):
- Claire, unlike the very talented, blue-eyed Caitriona Balfe, has brown eyes. In the book they are described as very unusual and “sherry-colored.”
- The wedding ring Jamie gives Claire is a silver band decorated in the Highland interlace style, a small Jacobean thistle bloom carved in the center.
- Jamie gets violently seasick, so bad he’s literally unable to come on deck when a ship is in motion. After he is liberated from Wentworth Prison in the book, he’s mostly unconscious and it’s not until France when he’s taken to the monastery to recover. The fact he’s unconscious is a lifesaver. Gabaldon deals with this quirk of Jamie’s in an inventive way with a novel character in Book Three and sailing on a ship becomes pivotal to the plot. Not that I’m telling you here!
- In the books, Jamie and Claire’s daughter, Brianna, is described as tall and big-boned, size 16 and six-feet tall. There is no doubt that she is Jamie’s daughter, with her height and flaming-red hair. She was also born and raised in Boston, and there’s no doubt in my mind she pahks her cahr in Ha-vahd yahd.
Don’t get me wrong–I love-love-LUFF this series, and I can live with any of these changes and enjoy it tremendously. But I’m not going to deny the fact as a tall and big-boned woman, I would have loved to see an equally tall and big-boned woman playing the part of Jamie’s daughter, especially in this year of Wonder Woman. But if that would mean living without Jamie each Sunday night at eight, well, come on. Life is all about compromise, isn’t it?
Sunday night at eight. You’ll know where I’ll be.
That’s me in all my hefty glory staring up at the sun (yes, it’s true the camera adds ten pounds. Or it’s what I choose to believe!) I was staying at a hotel in Smithville, NJ, and as it happened our room had its own deck on a pond (or “lake” as they chose to believe), which gave us a great view of the moon slowly chipping away at our local star. Okay, so it was only at approximately 76-80%, and the sky didn’t really darken, and the birds didn’t hit the trees to roost. But it was really, really chill looking at this cosmic event. Or as Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted, “The divided United States of America will unite today, sharing a cosmic event predicted by the methods and tools of science.”
So why is this important? I mean beyond the expected scientific significance? Because of all the rampant divisiveness lately, this was one instance where we all came together as humans, as like the setting and rising of the sun itself, the eclipse affected everyone. Everyone had a chance to revel in or marvel at it, as even complete strangers, caught up in their glee over it, were willing to share their solar glasses so those unequipped could have a peek. Although I and my husband didn’t view it in a group per se, we were at a public place (the hotel we stayed at is in the middle of a little commercial village of shops and cafes), with people walking by, kids fishing in the pond, or employees milling about, with everyone ready with a comment and the willingness to share their eclipse glasses if you didn’t have a pair. We had three pairs and gave away two, one before and one after the peak, both of them to kids. Both were delighted.
So what’s next on the nature extravaganza schedule? Welp, we’re now officially in hurricane season, which is supposed to be more active than normal, which is apropos as this October brings us to the five year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. Not only that, but current studies are showing us it’s not only the West Coast that should be worrying about earthquakes, and we’re way overdue for one on the East Coast. Really? Now I’ve got to worry about that?
Maybe I’ll just wait for the leaves to change. As the eclipse just showed, some nature is much more passive than aggressive.