fall film challenge update

September 29, 2017

one. jackie. category: reviewed last year on slothsandmovies. natalie portman is a talented chick. jackie kennedy was a remarkable woman, and portman plays her well. i liked the way the story's told, but, despite all that, something's keeping me from saying this film is amazing, and i can't tell you what that is exactly. just that's it's there. it's really good, just shy of great. worth seeing for the history.

two. room. category: about fortitude. this movie had me bawling. that little boy is adorable, and brie larson is amazing. they both play their roles so, so well. i hadn't expected to like this one as much as i did. i was wary of watching it. borrowed it from the library and kept it for some time after its due date because i wanted to keep it; reviewed several scenes from this film on many occasions. SO GOOD. one of three that i would say is the best from my list.

three. gifted. category: about temperance. LOVE this movie SO much. chris evans is phenomenal, best work he's ever done. hands down. i love the little girl's sass and smarts. this is the best movie i've seen on my list.

four. wind river. category: about justice. AMAZING. SO, SO incredibly good. solid storytelling through and through. chilling film, but so worth watching. one of the three best on my list.

five. the founder. category: about pride. before i watched this, i thought it was better suited for greed, but it turns out it works better for this category because it's a fine example of pride going before the fall. i've mixed feelings about michael keaton's character in this one. he's persistent, tenacious, determined, fearless, forward-thinking, clever... such admirable characteristics, and it's not that he doesn't use them well. he's not necessarily a villain. i'd say he's more an opportunist. he doesn't give a fuck whom he hurts. he has no conscience. i don't want to like him. i don't think he's an admirable dude, and yet... the men he steamrolls, they could've avoided it. had they been willing to consider his ideas, they could have profited from them, but they were so unwilling to consider any ideals but their own... they should've done a better job of protecting their dream, so i didn't feel as much sympathy for them as i would've liked. it's a horrible train wreck of story; its collision is impressive. keaton does fine work. but i never want to see it again. never want to eat at mcdonald's again, either.

six. footloose. category: starring kevin bacon. okay. i have NEVER liked that song, yall. i thought it was cheesy as shit, and i assumed this movie was just as cheesy. when those opening credits rolled, i was sure my original thought was right. and then it started... i really liked this film, as predictable as it was. the casting's great, and there are some really, really good scenes in this thing. some of the dialogue is just perfect, like when the preacher's wife says: you can lift a congregation up so high they have to look down to see heaven, but it's the one-one-one where you need the work. i love dianne wiest, yall, but never more than in this movie. i've never cared much for kevin bacon, but after having seen this film, i can understand the world's fascination with him.

seven. chef. category: about gluttony. i dig this one. good stuff. i live about six hours from new orleans and have never wanted to visit that city. jon favreau's movie has tempted me to give it a look.

eight. their finest. category: starring jeremy irons. it's a good story and a pretty film, and i enjoyed it well enough. i had been happy about it, eager to tell folks i really liked it... until this one thing happened in the story (completely unnecessary, badness for the sake of badness, could've and should've been avoided, really annoyed that it wasn't) toward the end. i had been thinking it was one i'd watch again, and maybe i will because it's certainly got merit and shows a bit of history with which i was not familiar, but my enthusiasm for this one's gone, and i'd really been looking forward to watching it because i love bill nighy. also i'm with michael, who said, jeremy irons has an amazing voice, and i would listen to him read a grocery list for home depot. his role is brief (and maybe a little annoying) in this film, but yeah. he does have a damned fine voice.

nine. spider-man: homecoming. category: starring robert downey, jr. god, i love that man. he's pretty damned awesome. and this was a pretty good flick. i've never really cared for spider-man, and all the other spidey flicks i've seen haven't ever inspired me to do so. but this guy, tom holland, he does alright. and michael keaton's not so bad at playing the villain. but mostly, iron man's presence make this movie for me.

ten. the wolf of wall street. category: about greed. of the films on my list, this was the one i was least interested in seeing. i loathe the subject matter. i'm not a fan of leonardo dicaprio and have never cared for any of his films i've seen. i can't say i care for this one, but he does good work here. it's a horrible story about utterly despicable people who choose to use their talents for ill. it's well done, save for the fact that it's LONG.

eleven. the case for christ. category: about prudence. good story. done well enough. didn't inspire me a lick (and i like my god movies to make me love god). not one i want to watch again.

twelve. don jon. category: about lust. i actually liked this one and wasn't expecting to do so. joseph gordon-levitt plays a manwhore who has to watch porn to really get off. i thought it was going to be awful. i liked seeing his character grow. i loved that he would do catholic penance (saying his hail marys and our fathers) while working out. that made me laugh. and i like brie larson in this one. she doesn't say much, but what she says is good. it's got some sweetness in it that i really hadn't expected to find.

thirteen. bottle shock. category: starring alan rickman. good story. chris pine annoyed the crap out of me, and that's never happened, but despite his character's antics, the guy had a good heart. that hair though, gah. anyway. alan's his usual bad self. it plods along at times, but it's good. yall should watch it, at least for the history.

fourteen. mr. holmes. category: starring ian mckellen. didn't love this one. was bored through most of it. can't really recommend it.

fifteen. megan leavey. category: about charity. good story. the movie's not bad, but i wanted it to be better.

sixteen. war room. category: about faith. it's not unrealistic like other religion-based films i've seen. i did enjoy it, more than i thought i would. there are some really good moments in this story, and i was surprised to find them. i do think it's cheesy, but i didn't mind it so much. it inspired me, which is what movies like this are supposed to do.

seventeen. elizabeth. category: set in a castle. everybody wants to rule the world. i didn't love this one; it's not one i'd ever want to see again. but i didn't loathe it either. i did like geoffrey rush, which is a rare thing for me. i wasn't sure i was going to at first, but then... he played a pretty cool dude.

eighteen. creed. category: about hope. it's like every other rocky flick, and i knew it would be going into it, but i kind of hoped it would be better than the rest, and it wasn't.

nineteen. the big sleep. category: listed on nathan bransford's best hundred movies challenge. i wanted to love this one because bogart and bacall. it's got some good lines and great camera work, and i did love seeing these two, but it's hard to follow (or maybe i was too tired when i watched it). LOTS of tampering with evidence. lots of people dying. lots of me thinking what the fuck? meh.

twenty. snow white and the huntsman. category: about envy. never seen charlize theron overact more than in this film, and rupert sanders sure did love to have the camera on kristen stewart. there's some cheesy moments. but the special effects are pretty nifty, and i don't mind looking at and listening to chris hemsworth.

twenty-one. dunkirk. category: set in an exotic locale. didn't care for this. definitely NOT the best war film ever made. not even anywhere near the best. and for a story as badassed as this one is, it should've been AWESOME. the beginning was strong enough, and the conclusion was alright. the middle sucked ass. i was really disappointed in this one, and the music, if you could call it that, definitely didn't help sway my opinion in the least.

twenty-two. logan. category: about wrath. of the wolverine flicks, it's the best, i guess. of the x-men films, i liked it about as much as i liked the third one where jean grey's on magneto's team. i'm not a fan.

twenty-three. howards end. category: starring anthony hopkins. LOATHED this one. too fucking long and boring. didn't give a shit about the characters or their plights. STUPID movie.

twenty-four. the space between us. category: set in space. SO BAD. SO, SO BAD. i knew it was gonna be stupid, but i hadn't realized the extent. every time i thought it couldn't possibly get more ridiculous, they'd pile on another outlandish plot device. i don't understand why gary oldman would agree to be in such a pathetic excuse for a film.

twenty-five. kiss kiss bang bang. category: starring val kilmer. the only good thing is this movie was val. STUPID story, stupid script.

so i've knocked my list out, and i've plotted and prepared the bonus round to post in a couple of weeks. and sure there are a couple of gals who've knocked out their lists, too. BUT it's not too late to join in, so if you're interested in participating, click here for details.

check out what michael and audrey have seen!

tuesday topics: nine. favorite television series

September 26, 2017

i know i should name them in order shown in these photos, but i'm rolling with order of awesome.

one. this is us. i love the way this story is told. i love mandy moore and milo ventimiglia in it.

two. the west wing. i miss this program. SO much. at least once a year i binge on it. so clever. SO well done.

three. game of thronestwo months of programming... and then ten months of WAITING. (two years, now. THANKS, you rat bastard writers). but DAMN, when it's on, it's ON.

four. lethal weapon. clayne crawford plays martin riggs better than mel gibson. it hurts me to type that, feels a little bit blasphemous, but there it is.

five. cbs sunday morning. the best thing about this program are the stories steve hartman shares and the actors and musician interviews.

six. thursday (and sundaynight football. especially when it involves the green bay packers. go pack go.

seven. the big bang theory. because sheldon. and bernadette. and penny.

eight. blue bloods. i like the interaction this family has with each other. it's law and order but with heart.

nine. madam secretary. i like how it shows home and work family dynamic, how tea leoni tackles this role. she's brilliant.

what are your favorites? share them with me!

and i'm linking up with bre and lauren.

sunday stories: set in schools

September 24, 2017

i spent yesterday with some of my writing friends, first at blue willow bookshop (best independent bookstore in houston) to hear one share her children's story about harvey the cat, and then went with another one to barnes and noble booksellers, where a manager hosted a sort of scavenger hunt, looking for teen books that fit certain categories: ten tales that involve a love triangle; ten in which the characters go on a road trip; ten that have been made into movies...

the activity appealed to me, and i was a little disappointed when it was over. i could've spent hours in that store, lingering in the stacks and making lists of books -- even if i never read some of those stories. i enjoyed scanning the selection. i love making lists, so i thought i'd continue that project on picky, and today i have for yall ten favored stories that are set in an academic environment.

i'm interested in what sorts of lists yall would make, so i hope you'll link up for this one. my list looks like this:

for me, halloween is the best holiday in the world. it even beats christmas. i get to dress up in a costume. i get to wear a mask. i get to go around like every other kid with a mask and nobody thinks i look weird. nobody takes a second look. nobody notices me. nobody knows me.

i wish every day could be halloween. we could all wear masks all the time. then we could walk around and get to know each other before we got to see what we look like under the masks...

i knew it wasn't a bleeding scream they were looking for. it was a boba fett.

i was going to go and sit at my usual desk, but for some reason, i don't know why, i found myself walking over to a desk near them, and i could hear them talking...

one of the mummies would say: "it really does look like him."

"like this part... " answered julian's voice. he put his fingers on the cheeks and eyes of his darth sidious mask... "if i looked like that," said the julian voice, kind of laughing, "i swear to god, i'd put a hood over my face every day."

"i've thought about this a lot," said the second mummy, sounding serious, "and i really think... if i looked like him, seriously, i think that i'd kill myself... i can't imagine looking in the mirror every day and seeing myself like that. it would be too awful. and getting stared at all the time..." the mummy shrugged. i knew the shrug, of course. i knew the voice. i knew i wanted to run out of the class right then and there. but i stood where i was and listened...

i know the names they call me. i've been in enough playgrounds to know kids can be mean. i know, i know, i know. 

i ended up in the second-floor bathroom. no one was there because first period had started and everyone was in class. i locked the door to my stall and took off my mask and just cried for i don't know how long. then i went to the nurse's office and i told her i had a stomach ache, which was true, because i felt like i'd been kicked in the gut (p. 73-79).

thirteen reasons why
the next day at school i asked so many people the exact same question, where were you last night? some said they were at home or at a friend's house. or at the movies. none of your business. but you, tyler, you had the most defensive -- and interesting -- response of all.

"what, me? nowhere."

and for some reason, telling me you were nowhere made your eyes twitch and your forehead break into a sweat... hey, at least you're original. but your presence, tyler, that never left. 

after your visits, i twisted my blinds shut every night. i locked out the stars and i never saw lightning again...

why didn't you leave me alone, tyler? my house. my bedroom. they were supposed to be safe for me (hannah, pages 88-89).

eleanor and park
park noticed the new girl at about the same time everybody else did. she was standing at the front of the bus, next to the first available seat.

there was a kid sitting there by himself, a freshman. he put his bag down on the seat beside him, then looked the other way. all down the aisle, anybody who was sitting alone moved to the edge of their seats. park heard tina snicker; she lived for this stuff.

the new girl took a deep breath and stepped further down the aisle. nobody would look at her. park tried not to, but it was kind of a train wreck/eclipse situation...

the bus stopped again, and a bunch more kids got on. they pushed past the girl, knocking into her, and dropped into their own seats.

that was the thing -- everybody on the bus already had a seat. they'd all claimed one on the first day of school. people like park, who were lucky enough to have a whole seat to themselves, weren't going to give that up now. especially for someone like this...

the girl started moving toward the back of the bus. right into the belly of the beast. god, park thought, stop. turn around. he could feel steve and mikey licking their chops as she got closer. he tried again to look away.

then the girl spotted an empty seat just across from park. her face lit with relief, and she hurried toward it.

"hey," tina said sharply... "that's mikayla's seat."

the girl stopped and looked up at tina, then looked back at the empty seat...

"i have to sit somewhere," the girl said in a firm, calm voice.

"not my problem" tina snapped. the bus lurched, and the girl rocked back to keep from falling. park tried to turn the volume up on his walkman, but it was already all the way up. he looked back at the girl; it looked like she was starting to cry.

before he'd even decided to do it, park scooted toward the window.

"sit down," he said. it came out angrily. the girl turned to him, like she couldn't tell whether he was another jerk or what. "jesus-fuck," park said softly, nodding to the space next to him. "just sit down" (pages 7-9).

the perks of being a wallflower
i look at the teachers and wonder why they're here. if they like their jobs. or us. and i wonder how smart they were when they were fifteen. not in a mean way. in a curious way. it's like looking at all the students and wondering who's had their heart broken that day, and how they are able to cope with having three quizzes and a book report on top of that. or wondering who did the heartbreaking. and wondering why (p. 142).

all the bright places
"what in the hell were you doing in the bell tower?"

the thing i like about embryo is that not only is he predictable, he gets to the point. i've known him since sophomore year.

"i wanted to see the view."

"were you planning to jump off?"

"not on pizza day. never on pizza day, which is one of the better days of the week." i should mention that i am a brilliant deflector. so brilliant that i could get a full scholarship to college and major in it, except why bother? i've already mastered the art (page 13).

harry potter and the sorcerer's stone
out on the stone steps, harry turned to the others.

"right, here's what we've got to do," he whispered urgently. "one of us has got to keep an eye on snape -- wait outside the staffroom and follow him if he leaves it. hermione, you'd better do that."

"why me?"

"it's obvious," said ron. "you can pretend to be waiting for professor flitwick, you know." he put on a high voice. "oh professor flitwick, i'm so worried, i think i got question fourteen b wrong..." (p. 269).

the truth about alice
so why don't i mind living here? first, everyone leaves me alone. which is to say they ignore me. which is not as bad as it sounds. to be honest, it's really rather nice to be afforded such freedom of time and of space to read, to think, and to study, and to be left in peace. when i sit by myself in the cafeteria rereading the hobbit for the thirteenth time just because i want to, i don't look out onto the sea of faces and wish i wasn't alone. i simply acknowledge the sea exists and go back to the hobbitit isn't difficult for me.

secondly, i haven't minded living in healy because my grandmother is a loving and caring woman who has raised me with affection and compassion.

lastly, alice franklin lives here.

alice franklin with the raspberry lips and the bad reputation and the faraway eyes (pp. 34-35).

we are okay
before hannah left, she asked if i was sure i'd be okay. she had already waited an hour past when the doors were closed for winter break, until everyone but the custodians were gone. she had folded a load of laundry, written an email, searched her massive psychology textbook for answers to the final exam questions to see if she had gotten them right. she had run out of ways to fill time, so when i said, "yes, i'll be fine," she had nothing left to do except try to believe me.

i helped her carry a bag downstairs. she gave me a hug, tight and official, and said, "we'll be back from my aunt's on the twenty-eighth. take the train down and we'll go to shows."

i said yes, not knowing if i meant it. when i returned to our room, i found she'd snuck a sealed envelope onto my pillow. 

and now i'm alone in the building, staring at my name written in hannah's pretty cursive, trying to not let this tiny object undo me (pages 1-2).

a separate peace
"the reason, sir, was there we just had to jump out of that tree. you know that tree..." i knew, mr. prud'homme must have known, finny knew, if he stopped to think, that jumping out of the tree was more even more forbidden than missing a meal... 

phineas was the essence of this careless peace. not that he was unconcerned about the war. after mr. prud'homme left he began to dress, that is he began reaching for whatever clothes were nearest, some of them mine. then he stopped to consider, and went over to the dresser. out of one of the drawers he lifted a finely woven broadcloth shirt, carefully cut, and very pink...

"this," he then answered with some pride, "is going to be my emblem. ma sent it up last week. did you ever see stuff like this, and a color like this? it doesn't even button all the way down. you have to pull it over your head, like this."

"over your head? pink! it makes you look like a fairy!"

"does it?" he used this preoccupied tone when he was thinking of something more interesting than what you had said...

he did wear it. no one else in the school could have done so without some risk of having it torn from his back... 

it was hypnotism. i was beginning to see that phineas could get away with anything. i couldn't help envying him that a little, which was perfectly normal. there was no harm in envying even your best friend a little (pages 22-24).

the duff
"spanish, huh?" he said, glancing down at the scattered papers as he grabbed them. "can you say anything interesting?"

"el tono de tu voz hace que quiera estrangularme." i stood up and waited for him to hand over my papers.

"that sounds sexy," he said, getting to his feet and handing me the stack of spanish work he'd swept together. "what's it mean?"

"the sound of your voice makes me want to strangle myself."

"kinky" (pages 17-18).


September 20, 2017

speaking of men...

sunday. some dude emails me on match: hey beautiful! how's your day going? i'm joe* and you are?

joe's profile stats say he's in florida, but his headline says he's a midwest guy new to the west coast. the second sentence in his about me section says that he's recently settled in louisiana... just an fyi, guys. pick one place. i don't care if you're military. more to power to you, actually, for doing what so many are unwilling to do. but... fuck, man. i know you're all over the map; you don't have to brag about it.

next, don't ask us how long we've been on the site and how it's going so far. if you see our profile, there's a chance it may not be going well because the place is populated with an array of idiots, and some of us are choosy. i know what you want that answer to be: not long, and it's been interesting. the reality? five months, and not well.

i don't lie all that often, and never to strangers. i don't see the point in that; if i'm gonna bother to fashion some fiction for people, it's because i'm shielding those who matter to me from something ugly. i'm not gonna waste my time concocting bullshit for someone i don't know, unless i'm getting paid to do it. i prefer direct, but it usually gets me in trouble. lying is for writing, and i'm damned good at it. in life, i try to be honest. i think picky's a pretty good reflection of just how honest i'm capable of being. shit, i share stuff on here that i haven't shared with my family, but that's because i like to spare them the dirty details. they get to see me on my ugly days. i spare yall from that... a lot, so much more than it appears. anyway...

being on match is essentially a waste of money, but i'm bored and a romantic... and if a guy does write me, i usually write them back, even if i think he could be an idiot.

guy wanted me to text him. so i said i would, but only if he wouldn't use the word beautiful with me ever again. yall use it too often and too readily -- too loosely -- and have cheapened it. it's worth about a penny when it should be worth a thousand bucks. at least.

i told him to text me tomorrow (monday) because the packers game came on in two minutes, and i was gonna be busy admiring aaron's form and physique and jordy, randall and clay's mad skills.

i didn't know that bulaga and bakhtiari were out, and i'd forgotten that the falcons beat the pack twice last year (i think?) and were likely to be picking off packers all night.

so... not a good night for me. i felt like this. the whole goddamned game.

in the middle of it, i notice that the idiot texted me: hello. i didn't acknowledge it. in fact, i acted kind of like aaron rodgers does in that there gif. tomorrow is apparently a word with which this particular idiot is unfamiliar.

so i text him the next day: hello.

and then i get a text from him clarifying that it's joe from match. no shit, sherlock. i couldn't figure that out from the number you'd provided the day before.

what's he do? how's your day going, beautiful?

i am not pleased, but i figure, fuck it. we text back and forth that day, and i'm cordial enough.

the next morning, i get a text with this shit: a cup of hot hello, a plate of crispy wishes...

it's like seven or eight lines of schmaltzy, shitty, STUPID words. i looked at my phone kind of like aaron rodgers does that tablet at the start of that gif and struggled to find some decent way to acknowledge this pitiful excuse for a text. he didn't type that shit. i doubt he's capable of even being that poetic, as lame as it may be. but... i didn't want to be mean, so i said something like: that's a pretty way to start my day. and then i tossed my phone aside.

that was all i got from the idiot the whole day. but, to be honest, i didn't care to, because REALLY? this guy's five years older than me. what's he doing sending me shit like this?

i go about my day, hang out until about two a.m. with some friends. crash about an hour later.

and about two hours after that my phone wakes me up, that double beep it makes when someone's sent a text. the light's glowing. i'm annoyed that the thing's woken me up. i assume it's some of my writing friends (they're fond of sending group texts early in the wee hours of the morning).

it's not. it's the idiot. with another one of his cheesy wake-up texts. these words:

it's barely five a.m. i'm too tired and too annoyed to be too civil: ok. i know this seems like a good idea to copy and paste this stuff to me, but it's actually not.

i turn my phone off. sometime between five and ten a.m., when i turned my phone back on, i got a hey from him. i've not replied. all i've got to say is hey, and what's the point?

i keep thinking of the film hitch, when will smith says try harder stupid.

*name changed to protect the idiot.

tuesday topics: ten. sexiest men alive

September 18, 2017

one. robert downey jr.
two. chris hemsworth.
three. gabriel macht.
four. taylor kitsch. 
five. chris evans.
six. luke evans.
seven. milo ventimiglia.
eight. theo james.
nine. matt bomer.
ten. karl urban.

who makes the cut? share your ten sexiest men lists with me!

the beauty of the bayou city

September 17, 2017

houston. i lived in that city for two years, almost immediately after graduating from college. it's not my favorite place to live. but god, i love that skyline. it's gorgeous. almost makes braving the nastiness that is bayou city traffic worth it.

book challenge by erin: bonus round

September 16, 2017

five points: freebie – read a book that is at least two hundred pages. six impossible things by fiona wood.
ten points: read a book that starts with the letter b. beach music by pat conroy.
ten points: read a book that has a yellow cover. furiously happy by jenny lawson.
fifteen points: read a book that has an animal on the cover. let's pretend this never happened by jenny lawson.
twenty points: read a book that was published this year. turtles all the way down by john green.
twenty points: read a book with a compass or cardinal direction in the title. wicked: the life and times of the wicked witch of the west by gregory maguire.
twenty-five points: read a book from this list of banned books in america. blubber by judy blume.
thirty points: read a fictional book about mental illness. essential maps for the lost by deb caletti.
thirty points: read a book with a non-human main character. emily and einstein by linda francis lee.
(this is a change; i'd previously selected the art of racing in the rain by garth stein.)
thirty-five points: read a book tied to disney movie. a wrinkle in time by madeleine l'engle.

it's not too late to join, yall.

north of happy

why i wanted to read it: because i needed a book with a cardinal direction in the title, and this one sounded interesting.

what i liked:  i've never acted impulsively in my life. felix got all those genes. it feels like i'm borrowing his disobedience, like i'm stealing something, acting unlike myself. but that doesn't keep me from putting a knee on the suitcase to force it closed...

i look at my reflection in the mirror and can almost see the back wall. all my edges are blurred... i think: i can't do this anymore. i think: i'm barely even here. i say: "i have to go, dad." 

the words come out like a whimper. so, i'm not stealing all of felix's personality traits, then. felix never whimpered... for a wild moment i consider confessing, telling them about felix, how i still see him but i feel like i'm the one who's gone. his death made ghosts of both of us and i just want it to stop (pages 27-29).

i remember going on trips to the store with mom and felix when i was twelve. felix would insist on pushing the cart, running and taking his feet off the ground, letting the cart carry him down the aisles. i'd wander behind, dragging my feet to prolong the trip. i didn't know a thing about cooking back then, but i was drawn to the ingredients in a way i didn't understand yet (page 39).

since the night of the perfect taco, i haven't really been able to make anyone laugh. dad even pointed it out a few times. "you used to be funny," he said once, as if he couldn't think of any possible reason why i may have lost my sense of humor (page 105).

on my tenth day of training with chef, i'm making another omelet. i rushed the first one and it fell apart before i could plate it, making chef snort derisively and put me back on onions for the day. the second one looked good to me, but chef stopped at the first bite, reached for the nearby ramekin of salt and dumped it over my head. i'd been so focused on the cooking time that i forgot to season.

this one, though, looks perfect. not a tinge of brown, perfectly shaped and fluffy. i garnish it with a sprig of parsley on top...

now chef is examining the omelet, lifting it up with her fork to inspect the bottom. she lets it drop with a sneer, and pushes the plate back toward me. her eyebrow's raised. "you expect me to eat that? that's not how you make an omelet." then she grabs the parsley sprig and pops it into her mouth. "don't waste a garnish on shitty food" (pages 191-192).

"a prep garde manger position is opening up. i thought a little test for you would be fun. you've been working hard, both with me in the mornings and doing what you're paid to do. your staff meals are good, but those don't really mean shit. it's a little too soon, but let's see what else you can do."

my heart quickens.

"i need a special for the day." she crosses her arms in front of her chest and nods to the clipboard. "you get to come up with one of them. if i like it enough, maybe i'll put it on the menu." i want to run and hug her. all those early mornings, those double shifts made harder by the extra work -- this is what they were for. elias was right. "and," chef adds, "i'll promote you to the line... i want to see a detailed recipe wth exact quantities of every ingredient you'll use per portion. make sure we've got enough for at least the day. i don't want to eighty-six it before we're even setting up for dinner."

"yes, chef. thank you, chef."

she nods and heads toward the door.

"um, chef?" i ask, remembering all of chef's outbursts, thinking there's gotta be some sort of catch to this. "what if you don't like it?"

"then i don't make it and you don't get the job, genius," she says, not slowing down. "and i don't let you cook again for a year. you have until the prep cook shows up" (pages 249-250).

i marked a few more pages, but they're too close to the end for me to comfortably share.

what sucked: it's a bit predictable, starts slow and the end's a little too pat for my taste.

having said that: i really liked the characters and conflict. it's a good story.

sweet jesus, mary and joseph!
i finished the challenge!!!
i did not think i would do it this time because...


so that's about
just those two alone.

but i did it. YEE!!!!!

refuge for masterminds

why i wanted to read it: because it's the last of the school for unusual girls trilogy by kathleen baldwin. i wanted to know how the story ends.

what i liked: "save your lectures, lady jane... no one will think you are a tavern wench... one look at you puts that idea to rest once and for all. there is nothing about you nearly so comfortable or amiable as a tavern wench" (page 25).

upon returning to the cove, i stand awaiting the next bit of the prototype to be ferried to the barn. alexander stops work and peers at me. "you are near dead on your feet, lady jane. take yourself off to bed. it won't do to have you collapsing in a heap." his voice echoes weirdly in the cove, and just when i think he is expressing genuine concern, he goes and spoils it all. "we've too much to do to be carrying you up the hill, as well."

"that is no hill," i argue.

"exactly," he mutters (page 67).

still stunned, i stand, unable to move, softened into a useless pudding by the merest touch of his lips to mine. at the same time, his cryptic remark bewilders me. i try to puzzle it out. does he mean kissing me would've been an ordeal? surely not. he hadn't come toward my mouth like a man about to suffer pain for the cause. is it possible he meant our kiss would devastate him more than it did me? why would he think such a thing? perhaps it saddens him that this first kiss will also be our last, our only kiss. i shake my head, unable to fathom a sentiment like that coming from him, the glib mr. sinclair -- i think not. not him. more than likely, it was another of his meaningless jests.

i am vexed now. quite vexed...

alexander turns me around, so i am facing the right direction on the path, and with a steadying hand he guides me upward. it is completely unnecessary. i am quite capable of stomping my way to the summit on my own (page 73).

"all right, lady jane, what are you up to?" he stares down his nose at me... "i see cogs turning in that dangerous little head of yours."

dangerous. not pretty. of all the things he could've called my head, lovely, or even clever, he chooses dangerous. what's worse, i am completely innocent of plotting at the moment. i was merely enjoying looking at him.

"i'm not up to anything." i cross my arms. "why should i be?"

"because you always are." he says this with a modicum of respect, as if it is not entirely an insult, even though it is. "craftier than a mongoose chasing a cobra, you are. i never know what to expect."

a mongoose?

suddenly, i want to punch him. my fists are balled and i have half a mind to actually do the deed, except that would not be ladylike, and fortunately for him captain grey and miss stranje are approaching... mongoose, indeed....

"i'm surprised you would trust a mongoose."

"with my life, your majesty." he adds a jaunty smile. but his flippant remark, with my life, jolts me back to the cold cruel fact that his life may indeed rely on whether or not i can catch the cobra.

my fists uncurl (pages 180-181).

meanwhile, georgiana and lord wyatt, tess and lord ravencross, and i, are doing our utmost to teach mr. sinclair, the most obstinate man on earth, steps to a simple country dance...

"that is not it at all." i stop and gesture vehemently at mr. sinclair's long lanky legs. "your knees must rise higher. like this."

"what do you mean?" he waves his hands at my gown. "i can't see a thing. your skirts are in the way."

i raise them, so he can see how to do a proper twirl and hop. 

he shakes his head. "still can't see it. do it again."

i repeat the step, but this time lord wyatt sputters into a guffaw. i whirl around and see alexander, the scoundrel, grinning and indicating i should lift my skirts even higher.

"wretch." i drop my skirts. "you've seen more than enough" (pages 183-184).

what sucked: it lagged at times. that's really all i've got.

having said that: it's alright. i liked jane and alexander. i wish baldwin had included more interaction between the two of them. it's better than the second but not as good as the first. i think it would've been better if baldwin had made it one book instead of three. overall, it's an interesting trilogy, though, and i did enjoy it.

tuesday topics: the next batch

September 15, 2017

nine. favorite television series.
eight. books on your to be read list.
seven. films on your to be watched list. 
six. sports stories: football.
five. things you love about fall.
four. ways to treat yourself.
three. things for which you are grateful.
two. holiday flicks.
one. favorite thanksgiving dish.

tuesday topics will resume september nineteenth. i hope you'll play along.

show us your books

September 12, 2017

one. the help. erin sent me this book years ago, and i finally got around to reading listening to it for her book challenge and am so glad i did. it's AMAZING. i wanna be as compassionate as celia and as courageous as skeeter, aibileen and minnie. five.

two. all the bright places. i read this in hours, not days. a handful of hours. it's FAST fiction, which is one of my favorite things. and i love theodore and violet. five.

three. the beginning of everything. it had potential. it really did. the author came up with a damned fine idea for conflict, and she nailed high school clique behavior pretty well, i think. but the execution leaves much to be desired. she can't write. one.

four. gone with the wind. one thousand ninety three pages. one THOUSAND. AND ninety-three pages. christ on crutches. i opted for the audio book on this because the hardcover's not as fat as the paperback, but it's as heavy as a doorstop, and the font's small, and they fill the pages with words. i couldn't get to page two hundred. so... library. i made the mistake of thinking it's one boxed disc set. it's TWO. FORTY-ONE discs. and i accidentally picked the second half. but i was like, screw this. i'll do this one first. and i'm SO, SO glad i did because if i'd listened to the first half first i NEVER. WOULD. HAVE. FINISHED. IT. that said, the movie never made me cry. the book does. several times. i like scarlett better for having read the book. and i KNOW she doesn't stand a chance in hell of getting rhett back, but i like that she thinks she can. i recommend reading it, but start at page eight hundred twenty-four. all the story before has too much textbook history in it, and i learned that shit in ninth grade american history. i can't give it a five because it's ONE THOUSAND PAGES. mitchell should've been able to get it done in under HALF that. four. a very lenient four.

five. the book thief. erin sent me this one, too. my mom read it and loved it so much she gave a book report on it to the gals in one of her social groups. i've got little flags all through my copy of pages she wanted to share with them, all the points of story she felt were critical. (gone with the wind is her favorite book by the way. she didn't like that i was bitching to her, and often, about how long it took me to get through that thing -- TWO months. GAH. way too long... but this isn't about that). i read almost three hundred pages of this one before i resorted to borrowing the discs from the library. this one reads like dickens' our mutual friend. there's lots of details, and they're good. and it's beautifully written, but it bored me quite a bit because the pace is. SO. SLOW. and then i got to the last cd and was crying. and even though this one and gone with the wind made me cry, that doesn't happen often yall. i can only think of two other books that have done that: the fault in our stars and the language of flowers. four. a less lenient four than gone with the wind because zusak told his story in half the pages mitchell did.

check out jana's list and steph's list.

tuesday topics: one. worst vacation

three days in the garden of good and evil.

i should've planned the trip better. i should've gone alone or with a different friend. i should've handled things -- so many things -- differently. i can't tell you why this particular vacation sucked, just that it did. it wasn't all horrid: the weather was damned near perfect, so i got to take what i think are some lovely photos of some beautiful things, and i got the best kiss of my life in savannah, georgia. BUT, overall, it was miserable from the moment i met my friend at the airport to the moment we went to our respective terminals to catch our flights home. i spent the majority of that weekend letting her unload, attempting to placate and offering advice. a single woman, one who is pitifully unlucky at love, counseling a married woman. it was not a good time for me.

i want to go back. plan it better, choose a better travel companion. see more.

what's the worst vacation you've taken? share it with me!

random quarter

September 11, 2017

stephanie posted about questions you didn't ask today, borrowing from two hundred questions she'd found. i thought i'd use some from that list as prompts for an rq post.

one. what is one of your favorite smells? gardenia. it's hard not to feel pretty when i've used bodycology's pure white gardenia bath products. pair that with ralph lauren's romance, and i feel fine (at least for a little while... the trouble is, i don't use this stuff every day. maybe i should).

two. what lie do you tell most often? i'm good.

three. if you had to change your name, to what would you change it? the one i've got suits me pretty well: jennifer kristin. lots of i's in my name, and for a gal who is as selfish as i am... also, jennifer is the cornish derivation of the welsh guinevere. i've welsh ancestry (damn proud of it, yall), and i'm as weak as guinevere was. but if i absolutely HAD to change it... i would choose elin (the welsh spelling) josephine, after my paternal and maternal grandmothers.

four. how do you get in the way of your own success? i let people's opinions of me matter; i believe what they believe; i assume that if someone more beautiful and bright and brave had come up with the idea for a thing, it would fly far and fast, but because i came up with it, it'll fall flat and i'll be humiliated or ignored; i let my anger at injustice and envy at others' successes color my logic. i'll think i'm better than someone and that they succeed because they know the right people; i know plenty of the right people, but many can't be bothered to help, and i know it's because i'm not beautiful and bright and brave, that if i were, they'd be clamoring to give me a hand. i'm angry. that's how. i've been angry since i was eight. it kept me alive for a long time, that anger. it's keeping me here now, but i'm stranded. i don't care much about fighting anymore. i wish i did.

five. to what stereotype do you completely live up? that mentally and physically disabled individuals can't contribute much to society and should be hidden away.

and since stephanie referenced her astrological sign in her post and i've a fondness for the zodiac...

this about aries from darkside zodiac by stella hyde:

you are either thirty minutes early, raring to go, and incandescent that everyone else is late, or you turn up four days later at a different venue and are outraged that the expedition left without you.

after a five-minute rant in the bathroom when you throw everything out of the window looking for your tube of toothpaste, you finally find it in the laundry basket. you hammer it flat with your bare hands.

temper gauge
zero degrees to boiling point is instantaneous, and occurs roughly every two minutes because people just won't do what you tell them, and you've lost the keys/hammer/remote control/plot.

yes, to all of this.

six. about what are you most insecure? my face and figure.

seven. what television show or movie do you refuse to watch? so many. television (and i realize some of these may no longer be running, but i'm listing them anyway because i can): the walking dead; family guy; american horror story; house of cards; breaking bad; vikings; criminal minds; sherlock; true detective; homeland; dr. who; dexter; lost; sons of anarchy; orange is the new black; better call saul; westworld; true blood; orphan black; the vampire diaries... movies: taxi driver; psycho; seven samurai; jaws; a clockwork orange; inception; the shining; lawrence of arabia; raging bull; the exorcist; once upon a time in the west; memento; pan's labyrinth; war for the planet of the apes; split; transformers: the last knight; it; fifty shades of grey; girls trip; annabelle: creation...

eight. who's your go to band or artist when you can't decide on what to listen? usually u2 or van halen.

nine. what's the one thing you did that you really wish you could go back and undo? it's a tie. i regret each of these things equally. the first has to do with the only man i've ever loved. sometimes i wish i could go back to approximately nine p.m. tuesday, april sixteenth, two thousand two at carlyle place apartments at the intersection of babcock and callaghan roads in san antonio, texas, to the day i should've tried harder to shove aside the thoughts swirling -- mine: how could you possibly have thought he would be interested in you? how could you have forgotten how ugly men think you are? how could you have been so goddamned gullible? why the fuck would he want to be with you when you know nothing about love and life? look at all the scars on you; stupid, foolish girl; theirs: no one will ever marry you because you're too ugly and no one wants to wake up next to something that ugly every morning; you should go kill yourself because you're a waste of valuable air and space and there are more important people who need it; ugly; stupid; worthless. i was twenty-eight. the day i'd met him, he had told me he thought i was gorgeous. i should've clung to that, but i couldn't. i should've either walked away from him that day or found a way to deal with the insecurity, but i couldn't. and since i couldn't... approximately eight p.m. thursday, march twenty-first, two thousand two at international house of pancakes at the intersection of de zavala road and interstate ten in san antonio, to the day i met him and we gave each other tarot card readings and the cards said he would not be good for me (i wasn't so stupid as to ask that question aloud, by the way, but my face was so stricken when he'd revealed that ace of spades that he'd asked about it... i knew better than to tell him. i should've walked away from him then. all those times i saw that opera carmen in my youth... i should've known to pay attention to the goddamned cards. it was his idea to do the reading, by the way. how weird is that? i'd thought it was a neat idea for a first date. i'd liked that we weren't going anywhere special. i should've known we weren't. i wish i had saved myself the heartache. i wish i had saved him from myself. i wish this didn't matter, still. it probably wouldn't if i could let myself really care about another man again, but i can't. i loathe who i was after i lost him. i was the best possible version of myself... and then i was the worst.

that's the first one that comes to mind. and i always feel guilty, and angry, that he's first, when it should be my older brother and the day he tried to give me a proper hug. he always gave me one-armed ones. i wish i could tell you the day. it was after i lost the boy, before i learned that i could love my brother again. i was hating him for all the hurt he'd caused. i was at my younger brother's house, and jon was there with us and our friends, and i was either coming or going and he went to hug me -- a good hug, with both arms, tight tight as i call it to my niece and nephew, and i didn't let him. i didn't really hug him back. i gave him the kind of hug i'd come to expect from him. i wish i could have held onto him a little better.

ten. on what topic could you give a forty minute presentation with no preparation? either what it's like to deal with depression on a day-to-day basis or how to ace an essay.

eleven. what are you afraid people see when they look at you? how flawed i am, how much i lack. 

twelve. what is one thing you really want but can't afford? major dental work.

thirteen. what gives your life meaning? writing.

fourteen. what did you think you would outgrow but haven't? an appreciation for kraft singles cheese slices and premium saltines. it's still my go-to comfort food, and i always feel like a little kid when i'm eating that stuff.

fifteen. what keeps you up at night? shame and inadequacy and fear.

sixteen. what is something you will never do again? fall in love.

seventeen. what's the best thing about you? talent, tenacity and resilience.

eighteen. which of your scars has the best story behind it? the ones behind my ears and along my hairline. surgeons took my face off twice when i was a baby.

nineteen. if you could make one rule that everyone had to follow, what rule would you make? respect others' personal space.

twenty. what bends your mind every time you think about it? the implausibility of the terminator storyline. i've been trying to make sense of that thing for like three decades and still can't do it. and here's a little something else for yall to ponder: two of my characters are named kyle and reese. i swear i didn't do that on purpose... or did i?

twenty-one. what is the most annoying question people ask you? how can you drive?

twenty-two. what's the best thing you got from your parents? their determination for and faith in me.

twenty-three. there are two types of people in this world. what are the two types? bricks and sponges. after a storm and the sun dries up the rain, bricks retain their shape and strength, but sponges have to be wrung out. bricks don't need anyone; sponges do. bricks don't have much compassion; sponges do.

twenty-four. to what fact are you resigned? that i will never be capable of loving a man, and one will never be capable of loving me, and i will die alone and despaired because of this.

twenty-five. what are three of the most significant numbers in your life? twelve, sixteen and seventeen.

gone with the wind

September 9, 2017

why i wanted to read it: it's my mother's favorite book.

what i liked: there's a lot, yall. a LOT. it would take me days to type up all the things, so i'll just share a few specifics.

"that's no way to handle men, my dear. you are forgetting your early training."

"i don't need you to tell me how to behave," she said and wearily put on her bonnet. she wondered how he could jest so blithely with a rope around his neck and her pitiful circumstances before him. she did not even notice that his hands were jammed in his pockets in hard fists as if he were straining against his own impotence. 

"cheer up," he said, as she tied her bonnet strings. "you can come to my hanging and it will make you feel lots better. it'll even up all your old scores with me -- even this one. and i'll mention you in my will."

"thank you, but they may not hang you till it's too late to pay the taxes," she said with a sudden malice that matched his own, and she meant it (page 587).

"so all i can say is, keep that pistol of yours handy -- and when i'm in town, i'll try to be on hand to drive you."

"rhett, do you really -- is it to protect me that you --"

"yes, my dear, it is my much advertised chivalry that makes me protect you." the mocking light began to dance in his black eyes and all signs of earnestness fled from his face. "and why? because of my deep love for you, mrs. kennedy. yes, i have silently hungered and thirsted for you and worshiped you from afar; but being an honorable man, like mr. ashley wilkes, i have concealed it from you. you are, alas, frank's wife and honor has forbidden my telling this to you. but even as mr. wilkes' honor cracks occasionally, so mine is cracking now and i reveal my secret passion and my --"

"oh, for god's sake, hush!" interrupted scarlett, annoyed as usual... "what was the other thing you wanted to tell me?"

"what! you change the subject when i am baring a loving but lacerated heart?" (page 684).

"really, scarlett, i can't go all my life, waiting to catch you between husbands" (page 832).

"did you ever in your novel reading come across the old situation of the disinterested wife falling in love with her own husband?"

"you know i don't read novels," she said and, trying to equal his jesting mood, went on: "besides, you once said it was the height of bad form for husbands and wives to love each other."

"i once said too god damn many things" (page 837).

strange, what a pang it had been even in her pain, to know that she would not have this child. stranger still that it should have been the first child she really wanted...

rage had been swallowed up in pain and she wanted rhett. but he was not there and she could not bring herself to ask for him. 

her last memory of him was how he looked as he picked her up in the dark hall at the bottom of the steps, his face white and wiped clean of all save hideous fear, his voice hoarsely calling for mammy...

whenever scarlett opened her eyes, she said, "melly?" and the voice answered. and usually she started to whisper: "rhett -- i want rhett" and remembered as if from a dream that rhett didn't want her... she wanted him and he didn't want her.

once she said "melly?" and mammy's voice said: "s'me, chile," and put a cold rag on her head and she cried fretfully: "melly -- melanie" over and over but for a long time melanie did not come. for melanie was sitting on the edge of rhett's bed and rhett, drunk and sobbing, was sprawled on the floor, crying, his head in her lap...

"i've killed scarlett, i've killed her. you don't understand. she didn't want this baby and --"

"you must hush! you are beside yourself! not want a baby? why every woman wants --"

"no! no! you want babies. but she doesn't. not my babies... i wanted to hurt her -- because she had hurt me. i wanted to -- and i did -- but she didn't want me. she's never wanted me (pages 962-965).

behind that door, melanie was going and, with her, the strength upon which she had relied unknowingly for so many years. why, oh, why, had she not realized before this how much she loved and needed melanie? but who would have thought of small plain melanie as a tower of strength? melanie who was shy to tears before strangers... scarlett felt her courage and self-confidence ooze from her as she realized that the sword which had flashed between her and the world was sheathed forever (page 1012).

"you are tired," he said, still watching her. "you'd better go to bed."

"but i must tell you!"

"scarlett," he said heavily," i don't want to hear -- anything."

"but you don't know what i'm going to say!"

"my pet, it's written plainly on your face. something, someone has made you realize that the unfortunate mr. wilkes is too large a mouthful of dead sea fruit for even you to chew. and that same something has suddenly set my charms before you in a new and attractive light," he sighed slightly. "and it's no use to talk about it" (page 1027).

what sucked: that it's more than ONE. THOUSAND. PAGES. holy CHRIST. mitchell must have been BORED OUT OF MIND to write that much. also, i question whether the editor was in his or her right mind prior to press, letting that book fly with that many pages. the hardcover's as heavy as a doorstop. it's more a history text book than a novel. at least until you get to the eight hundredth page or so.

i borrowed the audio book from the library. it's TWO BOXES of cds. there are FORTY-ONE discs.

having said that: i don't think i've ever bitched at a character more than i did at scarlett while reading this. jesus, she's a STUPID girl. i cried listening to this one, though, and in the handful of times i've seen the movie, i've never cried for her or for rhett. and there's so much sorrow in scarlett's heart in the last of this thing that the film just can't capture. also, ain't no way in hell scarlett gets rhett back. this is one hell of a tragedy. mitchell sure knew how to pile on the damage.