Tuesday, December 31, 2019

My Favorite Movies of 2019


Monday, December 30, 2019

Things That Are Making Me Happy

Enjoyed both of these movies although they could not have been more different. I know a lot of women, especially, will hate UNCUT GEMS because there is no likable character and it is super violent. I know many men will avoid LITTLE WOMEN because they think it is a chick flick. Well, it is based on a novel that is iconic to many women, but that does not diminish its worth. And if you like movies, you should like movies from all genres. LITTLE WOMEN is a piece of American history. Enough, off the soap box.

We got through Christmas and it was about as good as it could be. Megan and I needed a lot of rides. Some from family members, some from friends and some from Lyft. Everyone delivered us in speedy fashion. Megan was tense with DARE ME reviews coming in. It is different from book reviews because so few people read book reviews (or books)
Whereas a studio has poured a lot of money into producing 10 episodes of this show, plus more than 100 cast and crew members are looking to Megan for a paycheck. Ugh.

Taking off quickly today because I hurt my neck somehow and sitting here is excruciating. Have a great New Year and I will see you on the other side of 71.

What about you? 

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Things That Are Making Me Happy

(Autumn Fallin' by Jay May)

In a show I was watching, someone referred to a recent widow as resilient, and I guess I am too. Although I still miss Phil every day, I am also happy a lot of the time. Small things--like a book I had reserved at the library came in. Or I solved some small house problem. Or I cancelled Hulu and got Showtime and now have lots of new shows to watch. Or I had an empty day in the week, and a friend texted me, "Was I busy on Thursday?" Or on a trip to Ann Arbor with other friends, I found the perfect snowman decoration for my daughter-in-law.

Small things, yes, but these things have always made up my life. Or I went out to dinner with a friend and they were playing a song at the restaurant, I have never heard before but perfectly summed up DARE ME. Life can be wonderful if I don't fixate on loss and the President. Neither of those things can be fixed.

Reading American Spy but too soon to tell. The Grammarians was not so great.
I have downloaded BRIAR PATCH, (which I read forty years ago), in anticipation of its debut on USA in January. Went to see DARK WATERS, which is about the Teflonization of the world. So depressing but a good reminder of the even worse state we are in now without a good Justice Dept and EPA.

So much good food this week. Detroit has so many great restaurants now.. I am sold on Buddha Bowls, if you never had one. Such interesting tastes.

Still watching VICTORIA but it is no THE CROWN. It demonstrates the importance of great writing. Although I love the leads who apparently married.

What about you?
And have a happy holiday. I'll be back next week.

Friday, December 20, 2019


This was peculiar book for me. Although I read it very quickly, easily and with pleasure, it had many oddities. It wasn't until the book was half over, that its real topic emerged: the adoption of Asian babies by American couples. And the problems of surrogate mothers as well. And because the topic arises late, it leaves most of the characters lurching for their place. Characters I had begun to be interested in in the first half, barely surfaced in the second.

It is also a story of mothers and daughters. A major figure is identified mostly by her surname. Why?
And if the first half addresses privilege, the second half leaves this behind and hones in on other non-character based issues too often. It's as if, Ng becomes bored with her clever social satire and reaches for a deeper tone.

The plot mostly concerns the intersection of a self-satisfied Shaker Heights family with a single mother and her daughter. The single mother is an artist who begins to clean for the family. The daughter forms relationships with all of the family's kids. But as I said earlier, most of this goes out the window in the second half.

I kept thinking that if this book was reordered and told from the single mother's POV, it would have been a stronger story. But you can find lots of reviews who had no problem with the story. So maybe it's just me. Certainly it is a well-written, thoughtful book. Just a little short of memorable characters. Too many of them never come alive.

I see this is about to be a miniseries starring Reese Witherspoon.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Psst. Here is the first episode of DARE ME


Favorite TV of the Year-2019

I am probably mostly doing this for myself so I will have a record but anyway...Another observation, I am probably forgetting things I saw earlier in the year. Streaming really affects my memory adversely.


1. Succession (HBO)
2. The Crown (Netflix)
3. Unbelievable (Netflix)
4. Russian Doll (Netflix)
5. Fleabag (Amazon)
6. Better Things (FX)
7. Mindhunter (Netflix)
8. Schitt's Creek (Pop Sugar/Netflix)
9. Bodyguard (Netflix)
10Catastrophe (Amazon)

Monday, December 16, 2019

Dare Me Gets Its First Review

Uncertain Attraction in “Work in Progress” and “Dare Me” | The ..

Things That Are Making Me Happy

Went to see TOO HOT TO HANDEL at the Detroit Opera House, a yearly event where The Messiah is reinterpreted as a jazz composition. Always fun and we go to the dress rehearsal with all the Detroit school children and senior citizens. So lucky to have friends willing to take me along despite my being out of their way.

Went to see RICHARD JEWEL, about the security guard suspected in the Atlanta Olympics bombing. Very good acting but it really felt like a movie done on the cheap. There are far better crime dramas on TV now. This was with a group of people who have been seeing a movie once a month for ten years. A really nice time despite the movie being mediocre.

Reading THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD. Of course, it is terrific.Tried FIVE DAYS MISSING, but could not get into the writing style.

Went to visit a friend who has been ill practically as long as I have known her (20 years) with breast cancer. She remains upbeat, involved, and a real hero to me.  I am sure it is partly that spirit that has kept her going this lone.

Out to dinner with six friends. A yearly tradition but this year without Phil. Not really able to enjoy it. 

Very difficult Christmas shopping this year. I had to order practically all of it online. Most of it is okay but I'd rather see it before buying it.

Watched another season of LINE OF DUTY. Finished MRS. MAISEL. Finished Season One of Victoria. Tuned back into EVIL and was shocked at how scary and evil it is. And on a network!

What about you? 

Friday, December 13, 2019

FFB: MY Name is Lucy Barton, Elizabeth Strout

I see this is opening on Broadway in January. It will star Laura Linney, perfect casting. Here was my rview from a few years ago for Wednesday Book Reviews.

Lucy Barton, a young mother, is in the hospital after an appendectomy that left her with a stubborn infection. From her bed, she examines her past, present and future. Her childhood was an abusive one-although she doesn't despise her mother, who shows up after a many years' estrangement for a five-day visit. For much of the book, I thought her mother was some sort of apparition, and I am not sure it wouldn't have worked better had she been. Like OLIVE KITTERIDGE,(Strout's earlier book)  Lucy and her mother are not always easy to understand. Lines like this one, threw me:
    "Otherwise on occasion, and without warning, my mother, and usually in the presence of our father, struck us impulsively and vigorously."
     An impoverished childhood leads Lucy to a life that looks successful on paper: a writer with a husband and two children. Yet this hospital stay allows another woman to steal that away from her.  Yet a passivity on Lucy's part keeps the reader a bit distant from all of her travails.
     On occasion, you intuit that a writer's (Strout) life experiences are so different from yours that you will never fully understand her characters. And although I love Strout's novels and her writing, I am always looking at the page through gauze. I don't mind it though. I don't expect to "get" every novel I read any longer.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Things That Are Making Me Happy

I got the tree up this week, which was very difficult. I couldn't bear to open any of our boxes of ornaments (things we saved over 50 years)  so I got my cleaner (friend, really) to drive me to get new ones. It's not the most interesting tree but who ever really notices more than the lights. 
Saw Honey Boy, which I thought was quite good. Also A Winter's Tale, broadcast from London. I have never seen that Shakespeare play before and although it was odd, it was well done.
Went to a Christmas lunch with my book group and we blew a fuse so it was dark and some of the food was lost to us. Then I went out with friends for dinner and their car was towed away. So a strangely nice but unlucky day. 
Watched The Irishman on Netflix, which was certainly good enough, but I didn't see it as the best movie of the year. I don't know what I would pick though.
Reading Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur, about a daughter who aids her mother in conducting an affair. A strange book, which reminds me at times of CONCRETE ANGEL. 
I miss The Crown so have started Victoria. I have no idea if it's supposed to be good or not. I have never been fond of the monarchy but I am fond of history.  Still amazed at the British series Line of Duty, which is so complicated I can barely follow it. Perhaps six episodes is too many for one crime. It leads the writers down the path of many, many twists and turns. 
Speaking of following plots, my focus is still not what it was. I am hoping it will return to me and I will not lose whole parts of movies where I must start thinking of something else because I am not wholly there.
What about you? 

Friday, December 06, 2019

FFB: Miami Blues, Charles Willeford

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Bigger Than Life

If only her Dad was here to enjoy this but I am glad I am (and you are)!

First Wedneday Book Review: OLIVE AGAIN, Elizabeth Strout

This continues the story of Olive Kitteridge, an aging, former math teacher in Maine. She is as annoying and lovable as she was in the first volume, OLIVE KITTERIDGE. She marries a second time, which is a success, makes new friends, ages into an assisted living facility, endures health and family problems. It sounds depressing and it is at times, but her strength and eccentricities make it work. A good writer can make any character interesting, I think.
For more reviews, see Barrie Summy's blog.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Things That Are Making Me Happy

A lovely five days in New York, where I saw two great plays (Scotland, PA and Betrayal) got to visit with the Meyersons (thanks for getting me off on the right foot) , some other friends from Brooklyn, and Megan and lots of good meals, two okay movies. It was challenging, and there were one or two scares, but it was well worth it. And I was really lucky with the weather.

Reading OLIVE, AGAIN and NINETY GLIMPSES OF PRINCESS MARGARET. Watching THE CROWN. Love Harold Wilson, what a great actor and great historical figure. There is a great podcast on THE CROWN. And listening to Peter Morgan describing what a showrunner does, I am in awe that Megan has done this. If he is terrified waiting for the series to start, what must Megan be enduring.

And also found a fun series on you tube, "Technique Critique", where experts critique various things they find in movies: like accents, crime scene stuff, hospital scenes, etc.

What about you?