Friday, January 30, 2009

Paige Turner

My niece, Paige, gave me a book for Christmas. She is a senior in high school and it was a book she had read in her English class. She loved it and because she loved it, I was very, very happy to receive the gift from her.
The problem was that it was a book by Jodi Picoult. Now, I don’t mean to be a book snob, certainly I have read some lousy books in my lifetime, and if we’re being honest, I’ve even bought a book or two at Target. But if you ever wander through the library in that store, you’ll find that Jodi Picoult has an entire aisle to herself! It’s true! It’s right across from the Harlequin Romances, which is why I have resisted any urges I may have had to read one of her books. But I wanted to read this one since it was a gift from my niece. And since I read mostly on the Metro, I covered the book with a cheesy, ill-fitting red book cover which gave the illusion that I was actually reading the Bible instead of a Jodi Picoult paperback. Not that I haven’t been called a Jesus Freak in the past, but with all the chortling and weeping I was doing, I was just a highlighter away from appearing a real fanatic!
Truth be told, however, My Sister’s Keeper is a pretty good book. For the most part. It’s one of those the-Chicken-or-the-Egg stories that really makes you think. It is the story of a child who was “created” by her parents for the purpose of saving her dying sister’s life and raises a lot of controversial issues along the way. It asks the deeper questions of life like how long you should keep fighting for something before you simply say, “Enough is enough”, and I was more than happy to battle away with myself to find the answers.
I am reminded of a scene in City of Angels where the doctor, played by Meg Ryan, sits on the stairway after losing a patient and wonders, when she is fighting for someone’s life ... WHO is she fighting?

Sometimes I feel like an author is tap-tapping away on her laptop developing some great characters and amazing story lines when all of a sudden she looks at the clock on the wall and says, “Crap! I gotta wrap this thing up!” While I did get a bit of that toward the end of this book, I was so busy balancing my little moral scale I didn’t even see Jodi coming at me with a baseball bat!
Ummmm ... ouch!
But the first of the two cheap shots she took was almost bearable. I quickly got back to my moral balancing act and was (although it sucked and it hurt and it made me cry) able to get through it. But the second shot, the unforgivable shot, came in the cute little wrap-it-up section of a book they like to call the Epilogue.
I wish I hadn’t read the epilogue. Sometimes I get so involved with the characters of a book, I simply can’t let them go. Hell, I’m still getting daily visits from Frank and Mamah and that was like 6 books ago. I don’t know how an author can create and mold a beautiful character and then give her a colossal slap across the face when she’s finished with her. I don’t get that. But, that is the very reason I will never read another Jodi Picoult book.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

Two friends suggested, separately, that I see Slumdog Millionaire. They both said it was amazing, but they both also said the first 20-30 minutes were extremely difficult to watch. “Just close your eyes through that part.”
Beyond that, I knew absolutely nothing about this film. Nothing. Not even the premise.
I watched the film with my vision blocked only by my own tears. I was instantly thrown back to Mumbai, India, a hellish vacation I first took in July ‘07 when I read “A Fine Balance” by Rohinton Mistry. It was, in fact, extremely difficult to watch, but oh so necessary. Slumdog Millionaire was brilliantly filmed and beautifully told. I immediately felt deep admiration and compassion for it’s young characters. Feeling their unbearable angst, as well as their childish boldness and conviction. I laughed and sobbed and openly cheered!
Slumdog Millionaire is a fairy tale in the rawest sense that drags itself through modern day sludge only to stand like a freshly polished Rupee coin in the end.
Watch it. Feel it.
Absorb the grit, the horror, the brutality. Because you will only fully appreciate the passion, hope, and sheer determination if you do so.
Go to the film and watch it with your eyes wide open!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Do You Believe in Miracles?

I've had some paid time off this January. It's been great! The only problem is that our house is cold!
Really cold.
I can see white puffs of breath escaping my dogs as they snore away in their little dog piles. My house looks like a canine Jonestown with sleeping dogs everywhere I turn. I don't like moving, either, frankly.
Too cold.
So, I snuggle up on the love seat with several blankets, coffee or cocoa (which I must drink quickly before a layer of ice forms on top), my laptop .... and the kiss of death ... the television!
I get sucked in.
Oh yes, Jessica Simpson is beautiful.
Oh my, poor Alyssa Milano, I can feel your pain, sweetie. I, too, must spend hours in Makeup before I go to work. Oh, Jennifer Love Hewitt, I am just like you!
My skin IS bad!
How did I not notice this before?
I promptly ordered Proactiv. I wanna live my life! I want peace of mind! This could change everything for me!
I think I look exactly like Vanessa Williams, I just haven't noticed because of all this acne.

So, I got the stuff.
And used it.
And it hurt like H.E.Double Hockey Sticks! My skin was raw! It put tears in my eyes! I looked down at my towel and it had stripped the color right off the cloth! You know the "before" pictures they show you on the commercials? I think they were actually taken AFTER they applied the three steps of medication and BEFORE they covered it all up with professional makeup!
I did not have bad skin.
Not really....
I do now!
Now I have to wear so many layers of foundation, I look like I just hired Mickey Rourke as my stylist.

I really hate being so gullible.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Winter Walk in My Neighborhood

in the dead of winter
when you feel frozen
not much like yourself....

A day will come
when the sun shines
a little brighter
the wind stills itself
just for an hour or so
you feel

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Welcome, President Obama!

I am absolutely thrilled to have been a very tiny part of history yesterday for the inauguration of our 44th President of the United States.
We were a small pack of five traveling slowly through the city in search of the perfect vantage point in which to catch a glimpse of our new Commander in Chief.
I wanted to watch the people, I wanted to watch the colorful surroundings as we crept along, I wanted to watch the events unfolding, but in reality, I mostly just watched my step.
We happened upon a small opening in front of a Jumbotron just in time to watch the inauguration begin. For a few brief moments on a bitter January day, I was not cold. I was not tired, or uncomfortable. The sun split through the cloudy winter sky and, together with the reality of the occasion, warmed my reddened cheeks. Along with two million of my closest friends, I listened with respect and admiration as President Obama spoke his amazing words of encouragement and hope for a new America! As the first African American president, Obama brilliantly quoted our nation’s first ever president, George Washington.
"Let it be told to the future world ... that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet (it)."
The crowd cheered! We laughed and hugged and dried our watery eyes! It was an awe-inspiring flash in time. A piece of our history I will never forget. A tick in time about which I will always remember exactly where I was and exactly how I felt.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Why We Suck by Dr. Denis Leary

On page 1, Dr. Leary promised me I would soon become livid while reading his book.
Because I am a woman.
I didn’t.
I loved it!
I laughed through the whole thing. Because I am a woman with a sense of humor. Why We Suck is a hardcover rant by Denis Leary giving his satirical opinions as to why the rest of the world hates us as Americans. It’s meant to be funny. It’s a parody ... poking fun! It’s really, really sarcastic and entertaining!
Denis Leary seems like a fun guy to be around, frankly! He loves his friends and family and is more than willing to laugh at himself (and them). I wish he and I were friends!
If this book antagonizes you, lighten up! We can spend every day for the rest of our lives being offended by one thing or another, or we can just separate ourselves from the offensive parties and laugh a little. A lot!
You could put this book on the back of the toilet with Don Rickles’ book, but your bathroom would be tied up for a long, long time!
That could be a little offensive, I suppose!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Rickles' Letters by Don Rickles

Rickles' book belongs in the toilet. Not that it’s complete crap, per se, it’s just not that funny. Was he ever funny or edgy? Anyone who could answer that is probably in a better place by now. He’s just mean and he gets away with lame jokes like, “Take off your mask, Halloween’s over.” And no one, I repeat no one, should read Rickles’ Letters cover-to-cover in one sitting as I did on the Metro today. It should be kept on the back of the stool for a No New Magazines Emergency - and that is it!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

In 1958, long, long before I was born, the extremely beautiful Elizabeth Taylor and painfully handsome Paul Newman joined the man who would later tell me the story of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and sing me songs like The Lollipop Tree, to make a little movie called Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
And 51 years later, curled up in pajamas on a Sunday afternoon with my husband and my dogs, I laughed and cried and pondered the meaning of mendacity and Southern society. Together we explored questions of faithfulness, illness, homosexuality and greed. We admired Ms. Taylor’s glorious gams and Mr. Newman’s beautiful blue eyes. We lost ourselves in Southern hospitality.
I love old movies!
The brilliant playwright, Tennessee Williams, had the good sense to let us fill in our own blanks and the Hollywood Production Code kept it nice and clean for us. I have an overactive imagination, and I appreciate books, plays and films that appreciate that about me!
This film, without a shadow of a doubt, triumphantly stands the test of time!

Monday, January 5, 2009

White Widow by Jim Lehrer

Embarrassingly, I did not know Jim Lehrer was an author when I received White Widow as a Christmas gift. I thought he was a political news figure. So, halfway through the book, I was baffled. Was Jim Lehrer a genius or a simpleton? The writing style would suggest the latter, but perhaps he was just using a mind-numbingly boring style to capture his main character’s personality. It was very well written and Mr. Lehrer obviously knows of what he speaks, but the whole thing was meticulously unexciting.
The story follows Jack T. Oliver who is a commonplace, self-important bus driver with absolutely no higher aspirations. He is repetitious, simple. A dullard. Even his fantasies, which ultimately destroy no less than four lives, are, well, lifeless.
Aside from the little issue of accountability, however, I actually did enjoy the book! I realize that in reading my review of it, you could never tell that I honestly couldn’t put the damn thing down and found myself telling the story to all of my friends over beers at the local pool hall. Perhaps Mr. Lehrer is actually the former in my original question!
Good to know!


I was driving to work the other day, a new day in this new year, with a ziplock baggy of left over turkey in my lap. As I am munching away, I saw one of my nice nearby residents going for a jog in our neighborhood. She turned as I approached and smiled at me with sweat on her brow and deep releases of breath turning white in the crisp air. I smiled back and waved at her.
With a piece of turkey in my hand.
Oh my God, I thought to myself, I am totally waving meat at my super-fit neighbor from the cozy comfort of my convertible!
I decided then and there that I, along with my country, need CHANGE! I need to get out more! I need to exercise more! I want to be the super-fit neighbor people wave their meat at ...
wait ...
you know what I mean!
So, my New Year's Resolutions for 2009 include getting fit, enjoying the out-of-doors every single day regardless of weather and schedules, taking more pictures (as proof?) and writing more.
And you, my friends, should reap the rewards of my resolutions!