All By Myself

I tend to go to movies by myself.

Some people find this odd.

When I go to see a film by myself, I am totally absorbed into the film…I can sit exactly where I want…I can see whatever film I like no compromises… I feel that a movie is the one place I don’t need anyone to make conversation. The movie is on- there is no talking.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t go with other people- yesterday I saw a movie with a friend and I was glad I did because it was a movie that required a post movie discussion.

Going to the movies by myself is my number one self date…

Are there any things that you do by yourself that others may think that it’s odd to do solo?

What are your favorite self dates?

Are there things that you only like to do with others?

Discuss:

My Month in Books and Movies: January 2022

BOOKS

BookAuthorGenreRating
Shakespeare for Every Day of the Yearedited by Allie Esiricompilation1
Hercule Poirot’s ChristmasAgatha Christiecozy mystery2
The MaidNita Prosecozy mystery3
The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining WomenKate Moorenon-fiction 4
Perestroika in ParisJane Smileyfable5
When Ghosts Come HomeWiley Cashmystery6
The Narrowboat SummerAnne Youngsonwomen’s fiction/self reliance/starting over7
I’ll be Seeing YouElizabeth Bergmemoir8
Dava Shastri’s Last DayKirthana Ramisettiwomen’s fiction/family saga9
The PlotJean Hanff Korelitzpsychological drama10
A Little HopeEthan JoellaInterconnected short stories11
The Love HypothesisAli Hazelwoodrom com- there’s a misunderstanding and one sex scene12
The Last Thing He Told MeLaura Davepsychological thriller13
Fleishman is in TroubleTaffy Brodesser-Aknerliterary fiction14
If OnlyJudith Arnoldlight fiction- family/older woman15
  1. I like books that are to be read a page a day for a year. And it’s Shakespeare.
  2. Charming mystery for fans of Poirot. It’s light, but interesting and fun. Typical Christie
  3. Very quirky main character- I like quirky, but if you don’t, beware. Interesting take of judging people and expectations. On the light side, if you don’t want to think too much.
  4. I’m surprised by how much I liked this book. The story of the fight for justice for people poisoned by radium at their workplaces. Story is told simply, which in this case helps, because too much jargon would have made it a boor. A few too many details about how the women dressed and how much their husbands were in love with them- slowed down the story for me. Just because they were women doesn’t mean we need what can be referred to as feminine details. However, incredibly interesting tale.
  5. Sweet fable. The main characters are a horse and a dog and a bird. If this isn’t your thing, skip it. But if you just want a little lightweight charm, this is for you.
  6. Aging sheriff wondering what the future holds- surprised me in a good way
  7. Quaint story about three women coming to terms with changes in their lives, both wanted and unwanted. Light female empowerment- what you can do if you set your mind to it
  8. Memoir about needing to put parents in a care home. Written as a series of journal entries chronicling the way she felt about her parents feelings. Brings up many discussionable points- may write blog about it
  9. The premise of this book is really interesting- the actual book is not. Family saga that thinks it’s way more out of the box than it actually is. Could be interesting for a book club because there are things that would be good to discuss, but overall annoyingly average
  10. This is an easy read if you like psych dramas. The story moves at a reasonably brisk pace and there’s not to much to trip over. This is not necessarily a good thing. I expected more.
  11. This is not really a novel, not really short stories, so I don’t know what to really call it. It’s really about a few inhabitants of a small town and how they interact with one another, sort of. I applaud the author for trying to make sense of the random connections that we make with one another, yet I felt that pretty much every story was incomplete.
  12. If you were to see the cover of this book, you would get that it’s exactly like its cover- If you want a trite, predictable read, go no further. Sometimes I need that…
  13. There was a lot of hype about this book. I don’t get the hype.
  14. This is a reread for me (book club). I hated it when I first read it, because I hated all the characters. On the reread, I was able to concentrate on the bones of the book a bit more, and it is a well written novel. However, I still think the characters are precious and whiny and I really wanted them all to fail miserably.
  15. If only I hadn’t thought this book looked interesting when I saw it while browsing. This book annoyed me on many levels. The protagonist talks about how she eats salad with no dressing because she’s afraid of gaining weight. Why of why are we allowing women to do this to themselves. She hates every salad she eats- do I want to read this. The character is so bored with her life that she keeps imagining the paths that she should have taken. The problem is- who cares? She’s a trite, cliched boring character and no matter what road she took she would be a boring, trite, cliched character. it’s not shocking that she barely has any friends, a surface relationship with her children, and the most boring marriage. Let’s write about fun, intelligent women in their 60’s…not hollowed out shells.

MOVIES

MovieWhere SeenGenreRating
CODAApple TVfamily drama1
EncantoTheateranimated/childrens/musical2
Being The RicardosAmazon Videobiopic/drama3
Parallel MothersTheaterforeign language/drama4
BelleTheaterforeign language/animated5
The Tender BarAmazon Videocoming of age6
The French DispatchTheaterabsurdist7
A Herotheaterdrama/foreign language8
MacBeththeaterdrama/you know…Shakespeare9
PresidentTheaterdocumentary10
Don’t Look UpNetflixcomedy/satire11
The lost DaughterNetflixdrama12
In The Same BreathHBO Maxdocumentary13
  1. This movie is so good. Laugh. Cry. Experience all the feels. Great acting, great story, great screenplay- there is very little wrong with this film. If you can, subscribe to Apple TV for a month- watch this and Ted Lasso. Totally worth the money for the app to watch these shows.
  2. Beautiful songs, gorgeous animation. However, it tries to give too many messages. That being said, if you have a kid who loves Disney, this is a win
  3. Decent biopic- slightly choppy scene by scene. Editing could have been tighter. Excellent acting. In the battle of the Leading Actress biopic, I must give the edge to Nicole Kidman. IMO, the four leads should all be nominated for awards- the acting makes this movie come alive.
  4. This movie has moments of brilliance. It also has two excellent plot lines and neither felt complete or whole. Would be better if it focused on one story line and not two. I don’t think they meshed as well as the director hoped they would.
  5. Beautiful animation. Coming of age and resilience- but I felt there were plot holes
  6. Based on a memoir, this is a decent coming of age story with a better than average performance by Ben Affleck
  7. If you like the work of Wes Anderson, you will like this. Decent screenplay, but otherwise average
  8. Well done morality tale, but probably goes about three steps too far. Should have been shorter- movie drags into boringness
  9. Beautifully shot version of Shakespeare- but you really need to love MacBeth, because my Husband needed to leave the movie before he went mad…
  10. Very good documentary about the 2018 Presidential Election in Zimbabwe. Obviously seen from the viewpoint of the people opposed to the current President and officers. Makes you question the meaning of a Republic/Democracy. Has made the Oscar short list, but I don’t think it’s strong enough to garner a nomination.
  11. This is a decent satire featuring an all star cast. The story goes a little all over the place, and the script could/should have been better. While I don’t think it deserves an Oscar nod- the all star cast and topic will probably be hard for some to resist.
  12. I like Olivia Colman as an actress- however, I think she’s very average in this aspiring to be average drama about a women who keeps thinking about her past. Uneven and confusing pacing. I just didn’t care about the story or the characters.
  13. Documentary about COVID. Sorry- still too early for me to watch a doc about this topic. I question docs made while something is still happening. There was a point where Cuomo looked like a God- did we need a doc about that small portion of 2020? I don’t think this will be nominated for an Oscar.
This is the Barnes and Noble Bingo challenge. My goal is to complete the whole card this year! Feel free to do this with me!!!

Highlights of the Week That Was

I slowly get back on my feet….the city slowly gets back on its feet…

Tea Book Club
Took a tea break at Barnes and Noble
Guess who got vaccinated?
Theater for the New City did a pop up showcase on Saturday outside their theater. This is the Pablo Band. Wonderful on so many levels.
Movie I watched at home- FYI- I thought it was convoluted
This is an Instagram that I just thought…why? Why do we feel the need to project the image that we don’t eat when we begin a relationship? Conversely, why do we feel the need to let ourselves go once we are in a relationship? Is this a topic that should be thrown off on an insta post? This idea may end up as a future post. Tell me if you think it is worth discussing.

Highlights of the Week That Was- March 7

This is a comic from my blog buddy Matt. If you want to check out his amazing work www.aprolificpotpourri.art
this is how I was trying to prep for my podcast: can you say cut and paste
It was so nice to be in a theater
This is The Strand bookstore in NYC- at the same time there were two movements going on- 1) Save a beloved Indie bookstore from going out of business 2) Don’t save it because the owner invests in stocks of large corporations like Amazon, so you’re not really supporting a small business
What I watched this week. Quite good and Daniel Kaluuya is just amazing
Seen in gift shop at Morgan Library
https://anchor.fm/laover50/episodes/Gratitude-Saturday-ers9qr

One Star

I had a very interesting conversation with TJ Fox the other day. We were discussing reviews and rating systems and I said I never give a one star review (or five star for that matter), and I usually discount one star reviews as well. TJ asked- “Don’t some things warrant a one star?”

And I got to thinking…

Is there anything so bad that it should be given the lowest star count on a rating system?

What would make a book so bad that it would deserve only a star?

My thought process is that a book would need to lack in all areas. The plot would need to be ridiculous, the characters one dimensional, the dialogue unbelievable, the setting mundane and lifeless. There would be no rhyme or reason to the chapters or structure. it would need to make no sense. And the grammar would need to be completely off the mark. I have yet to meet a book that lacks in all these criteria simultaneously.

When reviewing something, what goes into it? When you tell someone “Don’t read” or “Do Read” or “Must read” on what basis are you setting that? How much of that is personal preference?

I have a really good friend S. Her taste in books is opposite mine. She never enjoys the books I like. Is she wrong? Am I wrong?

No. Because that’s the problem with reviews: you can be biased by what genre or style you like or don’t like.

I recently read Taylor Jenkins Read “Daisy Jones and the Six”. The story unfolds in an interesting way: from the perspective of someone making a documentary of a band. So the story is told in snippets of how interviewees answered questions. I thought it was a brilliant way to tell a story of this sort. I love quirky ways of telling a story. Others don’t. How fair is it to give this book a one star review because you don’t “like” the method? (I saw one star reviews of this book, so this is a legitimate concern)

I don’t like science fiction. Just don’t like the genre. Would it be fair of me to rate a sci fi book one star?

I did not like the TV show “Breaking Bad”. I stopped watching after season two. I also only watched one episode of “Game of Thrones”. Is it fair for me to say DNF (did not finish) or one star because it’s not my taste?

This week I talked about book to movie adaptations: plot changes, characters eliminated or changed, miscastings…. To someone who has read and loved a novel, the adaptation of it just falls short. But what if someone never read the book and just watched? I never read the Inspector Lynley books, but I thought the series on PBS was pretty good. But Jane Fritz thought that it was totally miscast. We would rate it differently because we are viewing it from two different angles. Would it be fair for Jane to give it a one star because it’s not what she wanted to see based on her preconceived ideas?(to be clear, Im using this as an example- I don’t know what she actually would rate the series) Just like me with the Malkovich Poirot: I thought it was HORRIBLE because I am a Poirot purist. But what if I had never picked up a Christie? Would I still think it was horrible?

So…

How does one write an impartial review? How do you divorce personal preference and just look at the bones of a work? What should a review be based on?

 

Who?

We all agreed that John Malkovich was by far the worst Poirot ever. Though to be fair, I  saw a movie with Tony Randall playing the detective, which was just…..indescribable…. It was done in the sixties, so I’ll forgive it to a point…. But what other roles have been horribly miscast?

I love Tom Hanks. He is one of my favorite actors, and he actually seems like a really great guy. Fine actor. I can’t tell you how good I think he is. Except, you know, he can’t play everyone. For example- “Bonfire of the Vanities”. Not only was this a horrible adaptation of a book, it was just a horrible movie. I mean horrible. And miscast is an understatement. The last person who should have played the arrogant prick of a main character was Tom Hanks.. (In hindsight Kevin Spacey would have been perfect actually…)

And how about the iconic Dan Brown character, Robert Langdon. I remember reading DaVinci and was casting the movie in my head. I immediately thought Liam Neeson. Maybe Russell Crowe. Tom Hanks never entered my imagination. I have no doubt that Tom Hanks is a brilliant guy- but he doesn’t play as an elbow patch wearing Harvard academic. Not. at. All. And they keep making the movies with him, and I keep watching them, and I keep shaking my head…..why oh why?

This is one of my problems with film adaptations of books. As a reader, you get a mental picture of a character. This week a couple of people had very interpretations of what Jack Reacher should look like. And that’s great, because we all bring our own interpretations into things. But when you have imagined a character one way, and then see them on a big screen as something else….well, it’s hard to change your mind.

Sometimes you have the perfect casting. Colin Firth is Mr. Darcy. End of discussion. I will never read P and P again without picturing Firth. Jennifer Ehle is Elizabeth Bennett. David Suchet is Poirot.

It’s a wonderful thing when an author writes such a brilliant character that we all “know” what they will actually look like. We know how they would act, we know how they would react. Some authors have the innate ability to bring a character to life. Things like this are what makes a great book: iconic characters and settings. And a literature purist just doesn’t want to see the dream fade. They want the character to live on in their memory.

If I overthought this subject a little more, I could probably argue that there is some psychological component to this. We imagine something and then the reality is quite different. Maybe we want to keep our fantasies safe…..but this is a blog for another day…

But anyway….worst miscastings?

Eliminating and Melding

I love books.

I love movies.

I don’t always love books made into movies.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when characters are eliminated or melded together. I understand why it’s done: keep production costs down by reducing headcount, keep storyline cleaner, save time. I understand the practicality- I am all about the practical. But….

The first time I encountered this daunting character thing was upon reading Gone With the Wind. SPOILER ALERT: In the book Scarlett has three children, Bonnie is her third. The movie adaptation of this book only has her having one child.

Blasphemy.

Even at twelve, I was incredulous that this had been allowed to happen. It was a 9 thousand hour movie, with 8 billion people in the cast. Really? They couldn’t cast two kids? The additional kids were a great way to really look at Scarlett’s character as a whole person. Being a Mother changes you, or should change you? Did we miss integral parts of the story because they weren’t included in the movie? Did the premise change? How much of the integrity of the book was compromised by cutting out these characters?

Not long after my disillusionment with the movie/book dilemma of GWTW, I encountered another slight- “Rich Man, Poor Man” (SPOILER AHEAD) In the movie there is a sister character and a girlfriend character. In the mini series, these characters were combined.

What? Combine a sister and a girlfriend to make one character? Madness…

Now, I admit that RMPM is not a classic of literature- it’s a page turning soap opera of a story. But you take any lesson or value or literariness out of the book by melding these two characters together. If the book had melded these characters it might not have gotten published- that’s how strong the need is for there to be two separate characters. Nature/nurture was a strong foundation of the novel, and it was completely reduced to cheap and tawdry in the mini series. But I guess even back in the seventies we just wanted cheap and tawdry…

So- which book/movie adaptations annoy you the most regarding eliminating or melding of characters? These were the ones that came to mind because these were the first time I recognized the phenomenon.  Which characters were integral to the storyline of a book but ended up in the vast black hole of unused characters?

 

Week in Review- March 18-24

Another week in the books!  Here’s a little wrap up of my week:

What I Listened to:

Claude Debussy: Treason- Oriental Influences for Flute and Piano

Lucy Dacas- Historian

Yuja Wang

Grateful Dead- The Best of The Grateful Dead (Live- remastered)

Borns- Blue Madonna

Romeo Santos

Esa-Pekka Salonen- Memoria

My Fair Lady soundtrack

Apollo Fire

What I Watched:

“Call the Midwives” (I know- I’m late to the party.  Love)

Queer Eye (I miss the original Fab 5, but still love the concept)

New York International Children’s Film Festival- Shorts Program 3.  My daughter and I have been going to this festival since she was three.  We love voting on our favorite movies.  If I find the program I will list the films we saw.  Our favorite was “Negative Space”.  I know “Geneva Convention” won the category though. (technically last week, but…)

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“Instinct” This could become my new favorite show.  I know it’s a golden age of TV, but I like my TV light and easy.  I have home ADD- I can’t just watch TV, I have to watch along with doing something else, so thoughtful TV shows are out of my realm.  This is a nice. cozy mystery starring Alan Cumming.  Seriously perfect for me.

“Keep the Change” I love indie movies, my Husband doesn’t.  Recently, he found out about an amazing Italian place across the street from one of my favorite indie movie theaters.  Sometimes it’s a win/win.

What I went to:

Angela Hewitt performing Bach’s :Goldberg Variations”.  She is an gorgeous pianist, but I have to say the first two thoughts after the 90 minute no intermission performance were 1) Wow.  She has that all memorized.  and 2) look at how stiff she is when she got up from the piano.  That takes a lot of stamina

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Cooper Hewitt  Saw “Access and Ability” exhibit which was a cool exhibit about the functionality of design and “Bob Greenberg Selects” which was just his curation of tech objects in our world.  This is just a fun space and cool if you have kids and are visiting. (technically this was last week but I didn’t mention it because I was in a lousy funk last week and didn’t feel like writing about it

What I’m Reading:

Finished “Portrait of a Lady” ( I actually liked this book when I first read it 30 years ago.  Not so much on the reread)

“A Piece of the World” Christina Baker Kline (remind me not to have my two book clubs meet within days of one another…)

Funnyish part of week:

My daughter has applied for three summer internships so far (the other four are in the works of being sent out).  I thought she would definitely get called back for one of them:  she didn’t.  I thought she had no  shot at another: so of course she got an interview.  So another moment that I literally know nothing.  But- she did get an interview with the one she really wants, which was almost a disaster because she didn’t get the first email they sent….

Random Question (getrandomthings.com)

Are you related or distantly related to anyone famous? Infamous maybe…  But, my cousin plays lead guitar for a fairly popular singer, but that’s borderline if he’s famous or not.  Otherwise, no.  My family is utterly unremarkable.

Stitchfix:

Yay!  Very happy to love my box.  Yes- I am obsessed!!

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The Awards

I love movies and I try to see at least one movie a week.  Seeing movies is probably my favorite pastime, and is not something I do out of boredom: I look forward to my movie time.  So with that in mind, I present my Oscar choices.  If I am picking a category it means that I have seen all the nominees.  Let me also clarify: these are my favorites, not necessarily what I think is going to win- there are so many other factors involved in that.

Best Picture- Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri

Best Actress: Margot Robbie

Best Actor: Gary Oldman

‘Best Adapted Screenplay: Call Me By Your Name

Best Supporting Actor: Sam Rockwell

Best Director: Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk)

Best Supporting Actress: Allison Janney

Best Original Song: This is Me (The Greatest Showman)

Best Original Score: Dunkirk

Best Animated Feature: Coco

Best original Screenplay: The Big Sick

Best Cinematography: Dunkirk

Best Live Action Short: The Silent Child

Best Film Editing: Dunkirk

Best Costume Design: Phantom Thread

Best Sound Mixing: Star Wars

Best Production Design: Dunkirk

Best Make Up: Darkest Hour

Best sound Editing: Star Wars

Best Documentary Short: Heroin(e)

If you couldn’t tell, I did not like The Shape of Water.  I thought it was a movie trying to accomplish a whole of things and actually accomplishes nothing.  If (when) it wins a bunch of awards, I feel it will go the way of Birdman (which I did not like either) and no one will ever talk about it again.

Would love to hear about what other people love!

 

 

 

OMG- So Stupid

I’m still in the weeds here in NYC- full calendar today, book to be read, words to be written, house to keep going.  But I made a commitment to myself, that if I had internet, I would post 5 days a week.  So here’s a quick story.

On Saturday, I went to the movies with Husband and Daughter.  We went to buy movie snacks, popcorn, iced tea and cookie dough bites.  Our local theater has the fountain drinks that you serve yourself, so Husband took stuff and went into theater, I took stuff and I went to get our drink.  I grabbed napkins and straws, filled up cup, grabbed popcorn and went into theater.   As I was walking towards them, I noticed they were eating popcorn.  And I was holding popcorn.

I had stolen someone’s popcorn.  Unintentionally, but still.  I went to my family, who were laughing at me.  I handed them the drink.  I walked towards the lobby both mortified and laughing.  How stupid am I ?

I went to the woman behind the concession stand.  I explained that I stole someone’s popcorn and handed her the bucket.  She was trying not to laugh in my face, which was hard, because I was trying not to laugh as I said, “Well, someone is going to say that they lost their popcorn, so here it is…..”

And that’s my story for the day!

keep writing!!