Friday, August 4, 2017

Heat Wave

This heat wave is making my roses crazy! And the house is so hot they are opening too fast.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

We Got Haze

Forest fires in the north have hazed the environment. Unusual temperatures in the 100s make outside pretty unbearable...except in the early morning hours. During my walk I happened to glance at the horizon and the sun just coming up over the hills was a vibrant red! So beautiful. It took me too long to walk home and grab my camera so much of the red was replaced by orange, but the view was still amazing:

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

July Movie Reviews

*****  Exceptional
****    Great
***      OK
**        So So
*          Blah

Anesthesia was about this mix of people questioning the meaning of life. It was a little too abstract for me and even the lectures of the college professor went way over my head. I normally don't like Kristen Stewart but she was really outstanding in this movie and had some great lines on the futility of life. **

Arrival is a sci-fi with a whole lot of human emotion thrown in to make it less science-y. It's about this linguistics expert (Amy Adams) who is called to help the government try to translate alien language when twelve extra-terrestrial ships land all over the world and no one knows who they are nor what they want. The octopus-like creatures make strange whale-like sounds and when Louise starts showing them words they spray black ink-like substance on the glass partition creating abstract shapes. Because Earth is divided into various countries all with different leaders, many with their own alien ship to deal with, we humans can't quite get it together and sharing information on each of the ships becomes problematic. Naturally China and Russia decide to do their own thing and plan to attack their ships (idiots) based on misinterpretation of the alien communication. It was long, drawn out, somewhat boring, and Adams was unemotional through most of it. It was like she was in a trance. which might have been appropriate, but still irritating. The music was obnoxiously irritating although fitting in a weird way. There was time jumping, too, although you don't realize what is going on until the end. Actually I'm still not real clear what was going on...and that's how I know it's sci-fi! **

A Ballerina's Tale is about the rise of Misty Copeland, first African-American principal dancer in a major ballet company. Lots of history on other African-American dancers. Just watching her exercise exhausted me. It was fascinating especially the part where she talks about the pain tolerance of dancers and we find out for two long she was dancing with fractured bones! Eeeew. Excellent documentary. ****

The BFG is based on Roald Dahl's book of the same name about a little orphan girl with insomnia and one night she sees a giant roaming the streets of London. Afraid she will tell other humans about giants, he snatches her and carries her to Giant Land to live with him in his very cool cave. The other less friendly giants want to eat her so they have to figure out a plan. Outstanding!! Good lord! Talk about bringing this book to life and with such wonderful special effects. *****

Blood Relative was about a young woman who ran away from her broken home and multiple step-fathers when she was a teen. She contacts her ex-con, ex-biker father (Mel Gibson) while on the run after shooting her drug-cartel boyfriend. It doesn't take long before they find her. He taps into his connections with various gangs, prison inmate friends, and biker clubs for assistance all the while trying to not violate his parole. It was really good. I don't normally like shoot-em-up movies with lots of violence, but this one wasn't so mindlessly bloody and the plot was excellent. Great role for Gibson. ****

Born to Be Blue was based on a true story about trumpet player/heroin addict Chet Baker and his rise then fall then rise again. Outstanding performance by Ethan Hawke. The time travel and flashbacks were a little discombobulating, color to black and white, but that's just me. Depressing story due to the drug addiction. ***

Denial is about the libel trial between a Holocaust professor (Rachel Weisz) and a Holocaust denier who claims the Holocaust never happened and the very strange English legal system where the defense has to prove the accuser is wrong. It was good. Weisz fake Queens accent was irritating, but maybe it was supposed to be. ***

Effie Gray is the true-ish story of art historian John Ruskin's wife (Dakota Fanning) who he ignored and treated like garbage. This story line was featured in the movie I saw about the Pre-Raphaelite artists a while back. Most of the plot deals with her marital situation which was very depressing. In the end she falls in love with artist Everett Millais and gets a divorce which is unheard of in the 1800s.  Most of the performances were excellent, but the plot was slow and not very interesting. Dakota Fanning rocked a great English accent, but if the character was supposed to be Scottish...hmmm? Her character was very stoic which might have been appropriate, but Fanning tends to be unemotional no matter what character she's attempting and that's not a compliment. **

Every Thing Will Be Fine was about a writer (James Franco) who when driving in blizzard conditions on a country detour hits a boy on a sled. He gets out and the boy is sitting in front of the car in a stupor. He sighs and thanks God. He walks the boy up to the house, carries him on his shoulder, makes conversation, and when he reaches the door the mother asks where her other son is. The driver didn't realize the older brother he hit was under his car. A really memorable scene! The movie is about how this man and the dead boy's family deal with such a trauma. Interesting. Maybe a little slow. The music was really melodramatic like a ghost story which was a little unsettling. ***

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them the latest J.K. Rowling film about a British wizard / magical creature advocate (Eddie Redmayne) who travels to America carrying a suitcase full of magical creatures. When bad things start happening, it's all blamed on the few innocent creatures who had escaped. Redmayne's character, Newt, was such a quirky, nerdy guy with so much bizarreness he was just another creature. The story was incredibly convoluted with way too much going on, way too many theories and rules and weird names of things it lacked connection. Even the never-ending special effects were so bombarding the exhaustion of it inspired...apathy. Oh, another building falling apart, another explosion, another poof of smoke, ho hum. The thing that makes Harry Potter is so lovable is it is all about humanity: relationship bonding between friends, family, community, and situation. Lots of human emotion. This was like a bad sci-fi trying to be clever through fantasy with individual players either for or against society lacking connection. Even the protagonists were antagonistic toward each other. Destruction rebuilding effects were cool and the ecological/animal protection themes were excellent although I think they could have added much more emotion through these fantastic beasts. Colin Farrell plays the bad guy and then he changes into Johnny Depp! I wonder how much Depp got paid for his five second cameo? **

Fences is about a former baseball player for the Negro League in the 1950s. Now he's a garbage man supporting his family. Lots of long-winded speeches about life. It was written as a play and it feels like that. Even though the performances were outstanding, especially Denzel Washington, I didn't care for it as a movie. I wanted it to get to the point of the plot but it just rambled on. *

The Founder is about how Ray Kroc (Michael Keeton) built the McDonalds empire. Fascinating. He teamed up with the McDonalds brothers to franchise their fast food restaurant based on speed, quality control and product reputation, signed a contract giving them ultimate control of the product and as he was losing money he found the "back door" and bought all the land out from under them!  They threatened to sue him but realized they already lost and were forced to sell the whole franchise corporation and their namesake to him. Kroc was a great businessman, but the story was pretty sleazy. The imitation milkshakes said it all! Great story. ****

Hell or High Water What a stupid title. I guess it could be worse, but I know it could be better. This movie is about two Texan brothers (Chris Pine and Ben Foster) who go on a modern day bank robbing spree. The bank recently foreclosed on their family ranch, wheeling and dealing their mother before she died in the sleaziest way possible after oil was discovered on the property. Jeff Bridges plays the almost-retired Texas Ranger who goes after them. Excellent performances, excellent sets (the dirt and dust of Texas), and excellent thought-provoking story. I enjoyed the intrigue as it wasn't clear why they were robbing banks (sorry for disclosing too much) and I love a corporate greed revenge theme. Great ending. ****

Hey, Hey It's Esther Blueburger is a strange coming-of-age story out of Australia about a weird little girl who goes to a very pompous, mundane private school where no one gets her and everyone teases her. She has no friends, spends her lunches alone in a room, and befriends a duckling from the science department until it ends up dead for a dissecting project.  She does have a brother who is just a bizarre as she is. She meets a girl from the local public school and begins skipping her school so she can go to school with this other girl where she blossoms in the misfit group and proceeds to find notoriety as the school bully. I hate the title. **

Jungle Book (2016) Outstanding. I loved, loved, loved the cartoon version as a kid. This one featured a human boy and a whole lot of digitally enhanced animals, some looked very real except they were talking, some didn't. Great voices by Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Scarlett Johansson and Christopher Walken. I was surprised they included the songs although I think it was easier to add the music to the cartoon movie. Beautiful sets. Loved it. Kids would absolutely love it although it does get a little violent and scary. ****

A Monster Calls Good lord, I had no idea what this movie was about. I had just watched The BFG and the previews for this movie looked similar:  kid, companion giant, special effects.  I had no clue. It's was about  kid who is dealing with his mother who is dying from cancer. Yeah, he's also dealing with bullies, an absent father, and a witch of a grandmother, but it was more about the fear, anger, guilt from anger, denial, isolation, and the fantasy world created to avoid the reality.  Spot on. I sobbed. With the exception of the bullies, it was my story, same age and same evil grandmother and absent father. It hit a little too close to home. Outstanding performances, awesome special effects, beautiful settings and scenery.  The watercolor/ink illustrations were beautiful. Great themes. ****

Moonlight is about the evolution of a gay black man from boyhood growing up in the hood with a drug addict for a mother, bullied constantly through school, and coming to terms with who he is as an adult. Very sad on so many levels. Great performances, but it was a little slow. I had no idea what was going on the first half hour. ***

Pelé was the story of the famous soccer player from childhood to the World Cup. Excellent story. Excellent performances. The kids were adorable. ****

A Perfect Day is about a group of humanitarian aid workers during the war in the Balkans in 1995. A man, or as they constantly refer to him "the fat fuck," from one of the villages fell or was thrown down the local well and his dead body has contaminated the water supply. Due to a number of conflicting bureaucratic regulations with various peace agreements, it's forbidden to get him out even though the village desperately needs water, but even if they could they can't find a rope and spend much of the day searching for one while encountered dead cows laying across roads which is known to be a trap for mines. The characters are hilarious (Tim Robbins and Benicio del Toro), but the war themes are heartbreaking. It was good. Loved the dog. Vicious animal on a rope. They decided to slip him some tranquilizers, but in the end, as they say the tranquilizers only made him worse. Then they zoom into the dog. Hilarious shot of the dog. LOL.  ***

Pete's Dragon  I've got a theme going on here - kids with friendly, giant companions. There seem to be a lot of children's films based on books produced just in the last couple years. Every time I come across one I think hasn't this been out for a long time??, but I think I'm just remembering it from my days as a children's librarian.  This movie started out the total opposite of a children's movie: car accident with dead parents, tiny boy alone lost in the woods with wolves chasing him. Jeez. Enough to give kids nightmares. Then the dragon saves him and the dragon is like a big playful kitten that chases its tail, sleeps on its back, jumps, rolls, plays with anything that moves, sneezes, and flies. And very protective. The dragon didn't look as realistic as I would have liked BUT it was lovable and friendly and after the horror that was the beginning of this story, the dragon needed to be like a big, friendly, cuddly, green furry stuffed  animal. Adorable story. Great performances. It's a North American  Jungle Book only without the singing...oh, there is one song, but animals don't sing. Great role for Robert Redford with his animal rights advocacy. *****

Snowden Is he a traitor or a patriot? This is the story of Edward Snowden, his background, his government experience and pretty much his disgust with the sleazy way the American intelligence operates.  Clearly he's a patriot. ****

Time Out of Mind is about a homeless man (Richard Gere) as he exists in the city, negotiates the bureaucracy of shelters, keeps safe on the streets, sells his clothes for alcohol, and deals with his demons. Most of the framing is filmed through windows, from the building out to the street or vice versa, however, what was exceptionally striking was the soundtrack. Lots of noise. There is never silence and usually three to four different sounds intermixed on top of each other - people yelling, people talking, pigeon wings flapping, traffic, sirens, coughing, singing, tapping, horns honking, music, utensils clanging, laundromat dryers banging, new voices screaming, different voices laughing, both the inside building and outside street noise simultaneously.  And it's all amplified over the dialogue between the main characters. Really ingenious. Then Ben Vereen shows up half way through playing another homeless man who talks loudly non-stop and follows Gere around. All this clatter was incredibly irritating to me as someone with a hearing sensitivity, but added so much to the experience of being homeless and mentally ill "lost" in a large city. There was an unsafe element to the noise and I just wanted peace. STOP THE FUCKING NOISE!  At one point near the end of the movie Gere's character explains to someone when his life fell apart, he couldn't stop the noise in his head. Ah ha! It was very depressing and a little slow, but I think even the speed of the movie was purposeful as well. Really brilliant filmmaking which is why it gets such a high rating. ****

EMFs and Cell Tower Locations

There is a website called Antenna Search that will locate cell towers and antennas within four miles of your home. I know we have towers because I can see them on the far hill. I didn't know we had NINE!?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

"How I Spent My Summer [Vacation]"

A more appropriate title would be "How I Spent My Summer" as vacations are few and far between.

I've been working on painting one side of my house all summer. Every couple of years I paint only one side to keep it maintained and to avoid total exhaustion. This is the west side and although not the southern exposure side, it gets afternoon sun and wind from the ocean. It's the weather side, the bad side. It takes a beating in the winter. You can see from the photo above how the heat of the afternoon sun hits my house as all that white primer is where I scraped loose paint right down to the wood.

Besides scrapping loose paint, this project has also involved washing it with soap and a brush, bleaching it (twice) with my new garden sprayer and rinsing, repairing loose shingles, caulking and then going over sections I didn't think were clean enough with a rag only because I'm paranoid of peeling. It's exhausting, but I'm doing it slowly. I can justify all this extra exertion in my life by saying it's saving me a lot of money by doing it myself. This also affords me the luxury of not having to hire a sleazy construction worker who will charge me max and do a lousy, half-ass job. So many of them know less than I do about proper painting procedures I don't see the point in wasting money. And that means I get to do the work. Blah. But I know it'll get done to the best of my ability. Home ownership is not as fun as it sounds.

Of course, all this work is toxic. Primer is incredibly stinky and bleach just nasty. Exterior paint is deadly with all the chemicals that make it weather resistant and strong. There is no way to get around that unless one uses bare wood shingles but even those need to be treated with chemicals far more toxic than paint. I wear goggles, a mask, gloves, and a jumpsuit for protection. It seems to work to stay safe, but uncomfortable in the heat. I only work in the mornings before the sun is shining on this side of the house.

A problem I'm having is the ladder. I bought this ladder a couple years ago at a garage sale with the sole purpose of getting this painting project done. It scares me to death and I don't have a problem with heights. It just feels dangerous. Extended out too much and it is very bouncy and feels unstable especially when trying to balance myself along with a paint can and paint brush (or sprayer or cleaning brush).

Tomorrow I paint. I have considered hiring a teenager to paint the apex at the top just because it's too high, but then what happens if his balance isn't any better than mine and he falls and dies!? I'll decide tomorrow if it's worth it. I may have to leave the top unpainted!

I canceled the teenager. He falls and dies his parents would sue me to satisfy their grief. I decided I can do this. Don't be scared. Then I tried extending my ladder to the top and it just doesn't reach! Oh well. So I extended it to the max and tied bungie cords around the parts to make me feel more secure while it bounced. One of those bungie cords escaped my grip and smacked me in the mouth giving me a big, fat lip...the only injury.

The finished product:

So lovely. It makes all that toxic work worthwhile. Notice how dull and greenish the old color was in the first photos? So bright and cheerful now. This house has always been two-toned but I think the paint dulls greenish OR maybe the former owners ran out of paint and bought more that didn't match? It's a mystery. The old color is more green-blue located in high spots and on the back side and the rest is a blue-green which is what I've been matching. Did you notice where the very top apex is not painted? Yeah, me neither. I don't care. HA!

See the drips on the lower photo? Yeah, me neither. I picked a section that had few drips. Damn drips were out of control!

Hooray for self-reliance!

Hmmm...summer is only half over. Maybe I'll paint another side?

Ah ha! So I'm feeling energetic and decide to do another section. I had to remove the mailbox and a downspout and it's clear there was a green-blue paint on top of a beige paint with the blue-green on top of it all. The mystery is solved!

Under the downspout and mailbox.

Back of the house...very greenish.

This blue finally matches the blue in my crazy porch.

I do kind of like the greenish-blue, but the bluish-green is really pretty. The color of my van is in between the two -  maybe more blue than green also. Doesn't matter. I love the blue!

I'm definitely getting a good painting fix.

The things I do for fun....

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Santy Claws, Jr.

I sleep with windows wide open at night. Love the fresh air.

Last night I awoke at 2am listening to strange distant sounds, metallic sounds. Was something walking on my roof? In my gutters? I listened. No, too far away. In my neighbor's gutters? Too curious to stay asleep I got out of bed and using my superhero hearing sensitivity zeroed in on the location of the noise. It took me to the hall landing and I peered outside the open window into the night. The noise was coming from my shed. I ran downstairs for the flashlight and peered through the window. I couldn't see movement and the noise stopped. I went back to bed and the gnawing continued. Rats? Only rats are that relentless in their gnawing. During the bewitching hours my yard becomes a very popular haven for hungry animals with fangs so I never go outside in the middle of the night. I decided to wait until morning. I closed the windows and fell asleep to the faint sound of gnawing in the background. I resolved to scatter cayenne pepper all over everything tomorrow...maybe buy some rat poison. I hate rats.

But I love opossums! And I know I have a opossum friend who visits my yard every night as every morning if I didn't fill my water bucket so it's heavy, it's laying on its side.

And she steals my strawberries, but spits them out. (Not anymore with all the chicken wire!)

And there is a thoroughfare under my fence.

I don't want to use rat poison as the opossum would eat it too.

So this morning I went out to the shed armed with my flashlight to see what was going on, checked for holes (although the shed is metal the floor is plywood), and made a plan. I look in the corners. My eyes scanned under the wheelbarrow, garden hose, and large plastic pot. Wait! Inside the pot was a pair of tiny little eyes staring up at me. The little baby opossum wasn't sure what to do.

Momma must have dropped him and couldn't get him out which is why she was frantically trying to tear down the shed last night.

I can hear my neighbors next door and one yells good morning not ten feet away. If I tip the pot over and let him out and he runs to her house, she'd kill him. So I gave him a container of water, a couple apple cores, and closed the shed door a little so cats couldn't get to him. I'll wait until dusk and let him out hoping momma is nearby ready to rescue him.

I love opossums! I guess the babies sneeze to call their mommas. Ah, so cute.

For such a little guy, he sure does stink... dusk I tipped over the pot. Sneezer sat in there for a while not knowing what to do then carefully crept to the back of the shed. When it got dark I went up to my bedroom and scanned the front yard. Sure enough I saw glisten of white and movement of something creeping through the garden so I ran to the side window to watch the shed. I just wanted some closure, to know he is safe and back with his momma. Nothing. Now while I changed windows for a better view he could have ran to her sneezing "MOMMA YOU ARE BACK! THANKS A LOT FOR DESERTING ME!", but I saw nothing. No happy ending. All night I was worried I'd get up and find him still hiding in the back of the shed, but he was gone. The next night there Sneezer was again sneaking through the gardens. I shone the flashlight on him and his eyes looked electric. He's so small. As long as he doesn't move in under the house and mess everything up, I'm fine with his visits...for now.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Happy Story

Girl Alive posted this on her blog recently: 

Her happy story was, "I CAN EAT ANYTHING!"  

It made me...happy!

So I thought, hmmm...


I imagine how different my life would be if there were no chemicals. How would the absence of chemicals impact the world? Would the missing convenience of chemicals make life harder? Would the toxins along with my health issues all disappear making my life much better? Slower? Safer? Worse? No perfumes, colognes or other personal poisons, but also no cars, gasoline, computers, phones, or paint. All chemicals are toxic, but are there some more acceptable than others making the risk worth it? Ponder, ponder, ponder...I wondering how I can reword my story to be more needs specific?

What is your four-word happy story?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Cancer-Causing Toxins

Cancer research might actually be heading in the right direction...finally!!

Friday, June 30, 2017

June Movie Reviews

*****  Exceptional
****    Great
***      OK
**        So So
*          Blah

Alone Yet Not Alone was the story of a German family who emigrate to the Pennsylvania area in the 1700s during the French and Indian War. The Delaware Indians want their land back and after the British told them they get nothing they begin terrorizing the settlers, killing the adults and kidnapping the children as replacements for their tribal members who were killed off by smallpox. The story is based on true events and follows the experience of this family's little girl. Performances were really horrible. Men playing the Indians were really embarrassing. The fake German accents were horrendous. The lead actress as an adult I think must be a model. She did more posing than acting, but she was just too gorgeous for the part. The story was good, but unrealistic with lots of violence, but no blood. The murder and mayhem were only suggested. ***

American Pastoral is about a high school football player heir to a glove factory (Ewan McGregor) and a beauty queen (Jennifer Connelly) who get married, live the most idyllic life imaginable out in the country, and raise a crazy-ass, out of control, smart mouth, daughter (Dakota Fanning) who ends up being a teenage unibomber during the 1960s anti-war revolution. It was such a sad, depressing movie. Once again I said, "I'm so glad I never had kids." Excellent performances especially from Jennifer Connelly. ***

East Side Sushi is about a Latina woman who is a really good cook. Her father works two jobs and runs a fruit stand. She helps him out by selling fruit until she gets robbed. She sees a wanted sign in the window of a Japanese restaurant and applies. After working in the kitchen for a year, watching the sushi chefs and experimenting at home, she gets really good at sushi, creating Mexican-style sushi rolls. The restaurant owner refuses to promote her...she's a woman and the wrong nationality, after all. So she enters a sushi contest. It was really good. I think they should have called it "Konnichi-Juana" though. That was what the sushi chef at the restaurant called her, but maybe movie goers wouldn't have understood what it meant. It was a great story on multiculturalism and race relations. ****

Ender's Game is a futuristic sci-fi about aliens who came down to earth in hopes of colonizing because their planet is dying. They attack, we attack, and the legend has it we destroyed their army. Fifty years later and we are still preparing for their return by training the smartest kids on earth. One moves through the training ranks (Asa Butterfield) and ends up the commander, then he finds out he's been played. All-star cast with Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Hailey Steinfeld, Viola Davis, and Abigail Breslin. ***

Free State of Jones It amazes me when I find an outstanding movie, especially one I've never heard of! Matthew McConaughey stars as Newton Knight, true story of a Confederate soldier who defects to bring the body of a young boy home and starts an army rebellion of deserters and runaway slaves to defy the Confederate Army ravaging their properties. This is a side of history we never hear. Not all white people in the South were racist and not all supported the Civil War. Knight was also in a common law marriage with a former slave and started his own interracial community. His descendants still live in Jones County and their heritage and the history of the whole county is a source of community pride. However, I watched the bonus and his family has segregated themselves into the Black Knights (those who are more African American) and the White Knights (those more Caucasian) and don't get along. Wow. That's disturbing. What was the point of the rebellion if the leaders family doesn't even get along? Such a dishonor to his memory. Great story. Excellent performances. Love the gun-shooting women. As it should be. *****

The Good Lie is a fictional story about the Lost Boys of Sudan and follows the experiences of a group of children from a village that was massacred. They walk about 1,000 miles to Ethiopia then Kenya and live in the refugee camp for 15 years before they are granted a visa to come to the USA. Reese Witherspoon is their employment case worker. Great story, great performances. So horrifying and sad so many were left orphans yet survived against all odds. ****

Hidden Figures is about the space race in the 1960s, but more specifically about three African-American women who worked at NASA in engineering and computation amidst all the sexism and racism that was going on during that time. Great story and excellent performances. It was interesting they were in the "computation" department and the girls were called "computers." Loved it.  Very inspiring.  ****

Hostile Borders is about a young Mexican woman who was brought to the states as a child with her illegal immigrant parents. When she is caught in a credit card theft ring they deport her. She doesn't speak Spanish and goes to live on her father's ranch. She ends up getting involved with some kind of smuggling.  What a mess, but it's hard to feel sorry for her when she's such a loser.  Do they really just deport them without any kind of prosecution? That seems really wrong. ***

I Am Michael was a weird story about a gay activist (James Franco) who decides to give up being gay. Such a tormented soul. He decides the panic attacks he is having are God speaking to him, calling him on a path toward God. According to Wikipedia, the panic attacks were caused by celiac disease. Hmmm... It was very strange to say the least. I kept thinking maybe he had a brain tumor and I was hoping by the end he'd come to his senses.  So weird. It's a TRUE story! Great performances, just a weird story. ***

La La Land...Six Academy Awards? WHY? First, it's a great throw-back to the early Hollywood musicals. It kind of reminded me of Singing in the Rain and I LOVE Singing in the Rain. It also has that Hollywood follow-your dreams theme, too, and that alone probably got it votes for awards. People in Hollywood followed their dreams so it resonated with them. I love it that someone is still making musicals...and that's where my love ends.  I wasn't moved by the songs. At the very least the songs in a musical have to hit you over the head so you want to hear them over and over again. I thought Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone were horribly miscast. Neither of them could sing. Having them break into random song with those whispery, wimpy voices struggling to hit notes they were unable to hold was wrong. I could envision Anna Kendrick in the lead role. I think she has the talent to give those songs voice and she can probably dance. In fact, the movie kind of reminded me of that movie she was in about being a Broadway actress, something about five years (?) and it was weird that time jumped five years in this movie, too. Clearly neither of them could dance. Even with the big dance productions the dancing was adequate. But maybe the point was not everyone gets their dream. I hope there was a point. If Gosling is playing the piano, he's awesome. The jazz music was great. The soundtrack and lip syncing didn't always match which drove me nuts. The love story started out really sweet and old-fashioned but then it felt depressing right to the end. The blackout between scenes was odd although they were probably trying to copy old Hollywood scene changes from the silent era along with the large "The End" scrolled across the screen at the end. Kind of disappointing and I don't see what all the fuss was about. ***

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Wow. Zac Efron has become the stupid movie king. This one is about two idiotic brothers who destroy every family function they attend with their moronic humor and immaturity. They are told they must find suitable dates for their little sister's Hawaiian wedding so they place an ad on Craiglist. Two equally idiotic girls see them on  talk show and decide they can be smart enough to fool these two morons into believing they are "good" girls thereby winning a free vaca to Hawaii. One of the girls is played by Anna Kendrick. Hmmm...didn't she win an Academy Award? Is she that desperate for work? I really thought the movie would have some redeeming features because of her presence, but I was really wrong. Zac doesn't miss an opportunity to take his shirt off. Of course. **

Now You See Me is about four street magicians who are hired to pull off a huge heist. Lots of celebrities in this one: Jessie Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and my favorite, Mark Ruffalo. I didn't even predict the ending. It was good, except I felt like I was constantly in the dark or one step behind the whole time which I think was the point. ***

Ordinary World is about a rocker guy (Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day) who was about to be famous then left the band to have a kid. Twenty years later he's a man-boy turning forty, he still acts like a kid in a rock band only he's a middle-class, middle-aged family man who doesn't seem to think most of the time and his family just smiles at his uselessness. On this day everyone forgets his birthday, his brother fires him from the family business for not pulling his weight, so he pays for a fancy $2,000 a night hotel room and calls up all his ex-band mates for a party. What a mess. At the end of the day more than $3,000 in debt because the party trashed the room (of course) he finds out it wasn't even his birthday. He didn't quite know what day it was...and this wasn't about drugs! It was an odd, yet irritating story about someone who derailed his dream and wouldn't let it go, but yet is attempting to live a typical, ordinary life and failing miserably. So sad. **

The Overnight is about this clean-cut couple (Taylor Schilling and Adam Scott)  with a young son who move from Seattle to Los Angeles. They are worried about making friends. They meet another couple (Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godreche) with a young son at the park and they are invited over for dinner. From dinner, they put both kids to bed and it escalates from smoking pot, to watching weird porn, to discussing the guy's paintings of butt holes, to skinny dipping, to drinking in the hot tub, massage parlor sex shops, and clearly they are being groomed for some swinging orgy. It was funny and weird at the same time. The ending was great. ***

Passengers was an amazingly bizarre story that was absolutely fascinating, or an incredibly imaginative sci-fi with a whole lot of humanity - which is the only kind of sci-fi that should exist. It's about a space station heading to another planet filled with 5,000 (?) people who have been put into hibernation pods for the 100 year journey. The ship gets hit, damaged, and one of the hibernation pods opens prematurely (Chris Pratt). He gets out, freaks out, and then goes stir crazy for a year even considering floating himself into space and ending it all. One day while roaming aimlessly, he sees this woman sleeping in her pod (Jennifer Lawrence) and for months he studies her biography, listens to her tapes, and reads all the books she's written. He falls in love with her and torments himself over the decision whether he should wake her up so he has a companion knowing his self-centeredness would condemn her to die on the ship without ever reaching the new planet. Fascinating story about life and human relations. Kudos to the person who wrote it. Excellent performances by all. I love Jennifer Lawrence. Chris Pratt had so much soul. ****

The Pool is about a young eighteen-year old Indian boy from the country who works as a hotel boy in the city but dreams of going to school to improve his life. His ten-year old friend works for a restaurant and together in their free time they sells plastic bags on the street until the government bans plastic bags. He sees a big house with a pool and watches it from his perch high on a tree overlooking the estate planning how he can swim in that pool. His friend suggests he break in one night, but he doesn't want the stress of doing something illegal - he wants to feel welcome. He follows the home owner and his daughter around town and works his way to getting a job helping the man maintain this huge gardens. No one ever swims in the pool. There is an estrangement between the man and his daughter, but you don't find out what is going on until much later in the movie. The two boys befriend the daughter and they go sightseeing all over the city. It was a great movie. The ending was unexpected and rather uplifting. ****

RED 2 If you like the spy genre, you will love this movie. It's about an international spy/hit man/government agent (Bruce Willis) who has "retired". His partner (John Malkovich) shows up while he's shopping like a normal guy with his wife at Costco. He informs him he has a bad feeling that they are in danger...then his car blows up...but he's not really dead because he faked his death. But there is some weapon of mass destruction that everyone is looking for and bad guys think he knows where it is, but he doesn't. So they all go looking for it along with every other international spy in the world. It is a comedy, but not a stupid comedy, with lots of  people dropping dead left and right. All-star cast besides Willis and Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Anthony Hopkins, Brian Cox, Neil McDonough, Helen Mirren...I think every role is played by a well-known actor. Mirren is the English spy...she is absolutely hilarious and really gorgeous. She is my idol. I want to be just like her when I grow up. Zeta-Jones is the Russian spy - she looks just like Natasha from Rocky and Bullwinkle. The Asian guy with the fancy suit and Justin Bieber hairdo I've never seen, but he was excellent. Great chase scenes (especially the last one with that blue car). The weird thing was the first time I tried watching it I just couldn't get into it. Maybe it was too fast or the plot too complex. I've never liked spy movies. I've never even seen a James Bond my whole life. And I don't really like superhero comic movies and this is a DC production. I turned it off. Then I realized I didn't even get to the Hopkins part and on the previews he was absolutely insane. Literally. So the next evening I tried watching it again. I might have been less tired or more patient. I don't think I liked it any better, but I got through it. ***

Sky is about a French woman on vacation with her husband in the Southwest. Her husband is a bit of an abusive pig and one night he comes back to the hotel drunk, tries to rape her, and she bashes him over the head with a lamp. She runs, dodging police every chance, then three days later she turns herself in only to find out she didn't kill him. She visits him in the hospital and then dumps his sorry ass. Freedom! She heads to Las Vegas because that's where the truck driver is heading, meets a guy who thinks she's a hooker, falls in love with him, but he's not interested...he's dying. It was a very good and interesting human relations movie. ***

Southpaw was about a former foster child, now champion boxer (Jake Gyllenhaal) who's wife (Rachel McAdams) gets killed and he falls apart, loses his house and custody of his daughter. Outstanding death scene. He's suspended for a year but finds a trainer (Forest Whitaker) who is willing to take him in and give him a job so he can get his life back together and regain custody of his daughter. I don't see the attraction of boxing, watching men beat the hell out of each other. So creepy. Great performances by all. ***

Suicide Squad was a weird, over-the-top comic book character movie about the worse criminals on the planet gathered to fight something. It was unbearable and I only lasted about twenty minutes. I really hate these hype-up superheroes. No humanity what so ever. What is the point?*

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Not-So-Tiny Houses

Tiny houses aren't so tiny anymore!  This one is 37 feet long and was featured on Tiny House Swoon. It's called the "Denali". Great video:

Can I have this? I don't even care if it's not on wheels!! But someone needs to "gift" it to me because at $77,000 I might as well buy a real house...with property attached. My neighbor's RV cost them $80,000 and I remember thinking Good house cost that much! LOL.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

March for Equality and Pride

The March for Equality and Pride was on Sunday. At 11am everyone gathered at the local park to listen to speakers and poets. The poetry was really excellent and featured winners of a "slam poetry" contest who were heading to the nationals. One Native American poet sang a song in Choctaw on equality. There was a black-trans-vampire comic who was hilarious. When she said only nerds wear New Balance I tried to cover my shoes. At least no one was looking at them and thinking "white supremacy."

At noon we headed to the main street, assembled behind banners, the disability trolley, and the percussion band and marched our way down an empty four lane street with police blockades. There was first aid, security, and a guy with a bullhorn leading chants like:

"What do we want?" 
"When do we want it?" 

"NOW" was what was supposed to have been the response, but most people were yelling, "YESTERDAY!" This march, although not the largest I've been to, was certainly the most organized.

It was fun. Lots of friendly people. Lots of stinky people. Hmmm....

And, of course, for me it was all about the signs. I took a hiatus from painting for a couple weeks since I got so sick last month so I was raring to go.

Initially my friend who is in charge of finding the protests told me it was for Equality. Equality? What kind? Gender equality? Racial equality? LGBTQ equality? She thought a sign saying "Love Not Hate Makes America Great" would cover everything and I thought that would be a good idea so it could be used at a number of protests:

It looks like one of those Valentine candies with the sayings on them. LOL.

Finally I found march information and confirmed was for LGBTQ equality or gay rights. However, during the march we did chant for every marginalized group in America so it did end up being all inclusive, as the world should be. I was inspired. I think some of the funniest signs are for gay rights. I saw one online that read, "Leviticus Also Said, 'No Hair Cuts', But I Guess We Are Skipping That One!" or "If God Hates Fags Why Am I So Cute?" My absolute favorite sign that had me laughing out loud was a painting of Jesus holding his head in frustration and saying "I said I hate FIGS!" HAHAHAHA! Gay people have a sense of humor. (They are gay...) I wish I could be so clever.

Anyway...I jumped into painting and it didn't take long before I became ill and my body hurt all over. Will I never learn? For some reason my mask and other protective gear didn't seem to matter. My body load hasn't recovered from May's overexposure, but does that stop me? Heck no. I decided just in case there were some religious nuts lining the march with "God Hates Fags" and "You Will Burn in Hell" signs, I wanted a protest sign that addressed religion. A counter-counter-protest sign.

Love was our theme for the day. The back of this sign is a rainbow.

Flags...I had no idea there were so many types of flags. Most people know the LGBTQ community uses the rainbow as a symbol. The various colors mean: red (life), orange (healing), yellow (sunlight/vitality), green (nature), blue (harmony/serenity), purple (spirit), and some flags add a pink (sexuality) and turquoise (art/magic) with some variation.

Did you know there are flags for bisexuality (pink, purple, blue), transgender (blue, pink, white, pink, blue), genderqueer/androgyny (purple, white, green), pansexual (red, yellow, blue), and asexual (gray, white, purple)?

It amazes me how much I don't know sometimes....

These two ladies hand painted their overalls with every protest slogan and filled them with buttons and patches representing the causes they support. They said they wear them to all the protests and don't have to carry signs! Great idea.

What was really fun is when we got to the rally at the end, there were many really excellent speakers. One woman represented a Black Alliance group and was a minister at a church. She started talking about Jesus and what he stood for "Jesus was all about love...I saw a sign that was perfect. Where was that sign?" She searched the crowd. Whoa! It took a minute to realize she was talking about my sign. I was sitting with my sign laying down beside me so I grabbed it and held it high

She yelled, "There it is! 'Love Thy Neighbor. That's It. That's All. The End.' That says it all!"

LOL! Whoa! Call out!! Very cool. Sometimes I make these signs and I often don't feel like anyone is really noticing them. Fun.

But my sign production momentum wasn't over. I had this urge and vision of one more. I think it's my best one so far and I've decided if I can create a handful of designs I really like, I might make them into cards and give them away as Christmas presents or something. LOL I'm saving this sign for a Black Lives Matter or Immigration protest:

Love it!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Fruit Fetuses

Oh, my fruit trees are fruiting! It's so exciting. It looks like I'll be once again up to my eye balls in fruit this year. I can't wait!

Apple babies:

Again, the apple tree is overloaded with some branches loaded with three to four little apple babies in a cluster.

Last year some of the baby apples fell off or later in the season I had to pick about 200 so the branches wouldn't get weighed down and break.

Cherries are loaded too. Babies are lovely:

Italian prunes are developing, but they aren't as loaded as the apple and cherry trees. Next year I'll have to chop off a branch to get it producing more.

So lovely.

My lettuce is ready to eat, already! Lots of green onions and radishes, too. I've eaten a few early peas and in another few weeks they should be ready to harvest.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May Movie Reviews

*****  Exceptional
****    Great
***      OK
**        So So
*          Blah

All Good Things is about the disappearance/murder of Katherine Marks, wife of psychopathic real estate mogul David Marks. Great performances. Just goes to show we never really know a person. The frightening aspect of this story is at the end David Marks is found not guilty of anything and he's now living in Florida still in real estate. ***

 Before We Go is about a woman who is stranded in New York after getting her purse stolen then she missed her train back to Boston. She meets a trumpet player who is busking in Grand Central Station to avoid attending his friend's pre-wedding party where his ex-girl friend is with her new boyfriend. He offers to help her somehow get her home before her husband gets home and they spend the night going from one idea to the next. Great story. Simplistically brilliant. Great middle of the night New York scenery. ****

Casual Encounters is about a man who is dumped on radio by his girlfriend. His friends at work get him to join an online dating site called Casual Encounters for casual sex. He keeps telling them he is a one-woman, committed kind of guy, but does it anyway. Then he falls for his co-worker. It was an odd comedy, trying too hard, but tolerable. **

Cloud Atlas I avoided this movie for a long time because I'm not fond of weird sci-fi stories nor movies that jump through time and this one did both. Blah. It features many different storylines, two set in the 1800s, one in 1930, one in 1973, one in 2012 and maybe two more in the future. I think. I don't know for sure as I couldn't keep track. The theme is love never dies and is reincarnated with each death so the characters are reincarnated in each time period. The make-up was fun especially when they changed a person's race. Hugh Grant was a sleazy nuclear something in one scene and a tribal warrior in another. That was fun. Susan Sarandon was an eighteenth-century noble woman and then some kind of witch doctor. Halle Berry and Tom Hanks were all kinds of people in love in each new life. But it was hard to keep track of all the different storylines and the bizarre sci-fi stuff. ***

Dancing, A Man's Game was a television special in 1958 featuring Gene Kelly talking about dance. He starts out comparing dance movement with sports including guests such as Mickey Mantle, Sugar Ray Robinson, Dick Button, Johnny Unitas and Bob Cousy. From there he demonstrates classical ballet, the history of tap dance, and modern dance. It was interesting, although at times really sexist. Men always lead and women must always follow, BUT women can do things men can't birthing babies. hehehe ***

Disfigured is about an obese overeater and a non-eating anorexic who meet at a fat acceptance support group. The anorexic woman tries to explain she sees herself as fat and needs support, but members become very hostile and ask her to leave. The two embark on a friendship. This was a low-budget, amateur film addressing body image and how we perceive and usually reject our bodies no matter how they look. Judgment and negative feedback from others is a non-stop influential factor. Everyone has an opinion on how an obese person or thin person should live. The movie just barely hints at underlying emotional causes for eating disorders/overeating and totally ignores any possible physiological causes. I remember reading a study that indicated obesity might be caused by a virus. Or I wonder if overeating is directly related to some vital organ not working correctly (pituitary gland). Can it be a chemically-induced effect? Something poisoning people that  shuts down a normal weight-regulating function? My experiences with thyroid medication makes me wonder. I think throughout history obesity has been blamed on personal eating and exercise habits assuming people just need to practice self-control. Blame the victim mentality. The medical system has failed miserably at searching outside the box and finding real solutions. (What is new?) The writing was a little cliché and the performances were not good to the point of irritation. but for all its faults, the movie does inspire dialogue which is its redeeming factor. **

Gambit was about a Monet expert (Colin Firth) who works for a horrid, abusive man (Alan Rickman) who constantly berates him for being wimpy, spineless, and useless. As revenge he plans an art forgery and theft using a Texas rodeo star (Cameron Diaz). It was silly and a little stupid. Diaz's Texan accent was cute but I think she's getting too old to play cutesy sex kitten type rolls. Firth was adorable, as usual, but the role was beneath him. **

How I Live Now is a futuristic drama about World War III. Sixteen year old Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) is sent to England to live with cousins as the war begins. Yeah, hmmm...not sure why if the war is breaking out in Europe her dad would send her to England Why not just say in New York or send her to California? She resents and rebels, angry at her father for wanting to "get rid of her."  Her cousins live on a really cool, yet dirty farm in the English countryside and Daisy is a bit of a clean freak, washing her hands constantly, refusing to eat gluten and cheese, sneezing around all the cats. (I identified with her immediately...hehehe.) Their mother is some kind of government employee who heads to Geneva.  Daisy falls in love with her cousin Eddy... her cousin? Hmmm... A nuclear bomb falls on London and the enemy invasion begins along with an evacuation. The kids all hide out in a barn until soldiers invade, separate the boys from the girls and they yell to each other to meet back at the farm if they get a chance to escape. Daisy and her young cousin Piper are sent to live with a couple and work on a farm until the enemy soldiers attack and they take off with map, compass and gun to find home. It was a great story although not very well thought out at moments. Saoirse Ronan has the most beautiful eyes. Performances are great. English countryside is outstanding. Can I move there now? ***

The Immigrant is about a Polish woman in 1921who arrives in New York with her sister after their family was killed in the war. The sister has tuberculosis and is quarantined. A sleaze ball pimp (Joaquin Phoenix) makes a deal with the immigrant officials and buys her right out of Ellis Island so they tell her that her aunt and uncle's address doesn't exist. Joaquin convinces her he's her only hope and then forces her into prostitution.  With no money, no family, and no work, she eventually complies as she's desperate to get her sister back. Excellent yet disturbing story. Wow. ****

In a Valley of Violence stars Ethan Hawke as a Civil War/Indian War veteran who is heading to Mexico with his dog to escape his demons. He passes through a town and the town bully, who is the sheriff's (John Travolta) spoiled son picks a fight with him, gets his ass whooped, and then with a few of his cronies, goes after Ethan and shoots his dog. It's not smart to shoot a man's dog. Ethan is out for revenge. It's one of those weird blood-driven comedy westerns with incredibly dumb caricatures of cowboys, a serious storyline and lots of violence. The female characters were especially offensive and obnoxious: airheads with loud shrill voices. Ethan's character wasn't very interesting...I was hoping he'd at least have superpowers or something redeeming about him, but he didn't. **

Like Sunday, Like Rain is about a woman who dumps her loser boyfriend who has been treating her like garbage for too long. She loses her job because he shows up and makes a scene and she moves out of their apartment. With no job and nowhere to live, she takes a temporary job as a nanny. The twelve-year old boy is incredibly smart, filthy rich, but doesn't really relate to kids his own age. In one of the first scenes we watch as the maid wakes him up, puts his robe on him and actually ties the belt for him! He seems a little rebellious to this treatment, but his domineering mother (Debra Messing) is enough to make anyone rebellious. Now I thought this would be some typical Hollywood feel good movie about a spoiled brat tamed by a Mary Poppins or something along those lines, but it wasn't. She treats him with respect, admires his intellect, and maturity. He cooks gourmet meals for her, gives her tours of the art museum, and plays his cello for her. They fulfill each other's need for companionship and have the perfect relationship - if it wasn't for their age difference.  I also thought it might get weird since he is a twelve-year old adolescent and his one friend keeps saying his nanny is "hot", but it really didn't. Good story about relationships. ***

Lion WHAT AN AMAZING MOVIE!!! It's based on a true story about a five year old Indian boy who while helping his old brother work in the middle of the night gets too tired. His brother has him sleep on a bench in a train station and tells him he'll be right back. He wakes up, goes looking for his brother, gets on a train, falls asleep again, waking up to find he's locked in the car traveling for days to who-knows-where. He ends up in Calcutta, doesn't even speak the language and  joins the thousands of other homeless children surviving on the streets.  Lucky for him he ends up being adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty years he's tormented by guilt and memory which prompts him to use the latest Internet research tools to check train routes, calculating speeds to determine location, and with bird's eye maps search for the familiar landscapes of his former home. I can't imagine the terror that little boy experienced losing his family. Sunny Pawar who plays five-year old Saroo has got to be the absolute cutest. Dev Patel plays older Saroo and I have to say I have never watched movie with him I didn't love. He's awesome, talented, and so very gorgeous! Very heartbreaking story. Outstanding. I can't believe it didn't win any Oscars, but it was up against a lot of competition. *****

London River is set against the July 7th terrorist attacks in London. An African Muslim man from France and a Christian woman from Guernsey are each looking for their missing adult child. They come together when they realize their kids were a couple.  Excellent performances. The story was a little slow at times but I think maybe it was supposed to add to the drama. ****

Love's Enduring Promise is a Michael Landon, Jr. production so it's like watching a modern episode of Little House on the Prairie. It's about a community of farmers and families who struggle. Katherine Heigl and January Jones were the main characters. Lots of God talk. Beautiful scenery. ***

Magic Mike I've always meant to see this movie and am often reminded as it's constantly being referenced all the time in the media. And it features the best looking men in Hollywood: Matthew McConaughey, Matt Bomer, Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello. It's about a unemployed nineteen-year old who is sleeping on his sister's couch and works for one day as a temporary construction worker for another construction worker's assistant... Mike (Channing Tatum). After he gets fired, he runs into Mike at a nightclub and is introduced to the world of male stripping. Very interesting. It's filmed in a weird yellowy technicolor reminiscent of old porn movies. ***

Marion River is about a woman who goes home when her mother is dying and lives in the family home with her two sisters while dealing with past domestic abuse issues. Performances were great. The story was very intriguing because they never quite tell you exactly what happened during their childhood, just little hints throughout the story. ***

Mother's Day was a comedy about mother's of all kinds: divorced mothers, step mothers, lesbian mothers, grandmothers, obnoxious mothers, and even dead mothers. It had a star-studded cast with Jennifer Anniston,  Kate Hudson, Julia Roberts, Jason Sudeikis, Timothy Olyphant, Jennifer Gardner, Margo Martindale, among others.  It was really great, and this is coming from someone who normally doesn't like anything having to do with Mother's Day. ****

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee Robin Wright is a housewife married to an older publisher and they just moved to a retirement community. She's very docile, but was a bit wild as a young girl. She starts sleep walking and often ends up at the convenience store where her neighbor's son works. Wright's performance was outstanding. Interesting story. ***

Rules Don't Apply is about Howard Hughes in the late 1950s -60s. The soundtrack was awesome and the sets/scenery were really spectacular. They used some kind of colored filter so the panoramic views of Hollywood looked like an old photograph. The street views were amazing special effects along with all the costumes, cars, and details. Interesting story about one of Hughes's contracted starlets who is small-town religious, sweet, and enthusiastic. Her mother is played by Annette Bening.  All-star cast even down to the minor parts. Warren Beatty who wrote, produced and directed the film, as well as starred as Hughes,  was excellent. I didn't like the plot and how it panned out. Hmmm...***

Somewhere is about a celebrity...who has a daughter.  I lasted through forty minutes of excruciating boredom before turning it off. The daughter shows up for about 10 minutes then back to his mundane, directionless life. Maybe it would have gotten interesting, but I wasn't seeing it. The first two minutes of him racing his car around a desert race track set  the tone. I should have taken the clue then. *

The Station Agent is about a man (Peter Dinklage) who has a fascination with trains and works in a model train store. His boss dies and leaves him an abandoned train station in the middle of nowhere. He just wants to be left alone but the quirky town's folk won't go away. Bobby Cannavale is hilarious, Patricia Clarkson is wonderfully weird, and Michelle Williams is adorable. I didn't want it to be over. I wouldn't mind if someone left me a train station although I don't know if I'd want the trains roaring by in the middle of the night. You'd have to really love trains to tolerate all that noise. ****

Tracks is based on the true story of Robyn Davidson's 1700 mile trek across Australia with four camels and a dog. Mia Wasikowska stars with Adam Driver as the National Geographic photographer who meets her every five or so weeks. Excellent story and performances. She was so dirty and sun burnt and all that dirty, tangly, stringy hair hanging in her eyes - I think I would have cut my hair off just so I wouldn't have to deal with it. It amazes me she didn't have more problems. Every time a car with people drove up I kept thinking they were bad people. She sure had a lot of courage to attempt this alone as a woman. ****

Trouble with the Curve was a baseball movie about an aging baseball scout who is losing his vision (Clint Eastwood) and his attorney daughter (Amy Adams)  who helps her father for a few days while struggling with their somewhat estranged relationship.  Justin Timberlake plays one of the other scouts who was one of her father's recruits and ends up being her love interest. Good story especially with a strong female character who knows more about baseball than most men, but the performances were not good. Or was it the dialogue? The script? It sounded like everyone was very carefully reading their lines for the first time as if they didn't know their characters. Especially Eastwood. He was tripping over words and I could hardly understand what he was saying with that gravelly voice and his articulation issues. It was as if he couldn't breathe when he spoke. Watching (listening) to him was uncomfortable and he spent most of this time grunting and scowling. Even Amy Adams seemed to pronounce each syllable too carefully like she was trying too hard. She's normally an outstanding actress. Maybe it's bad direction? Even so, for a baseball movie, it had a lot of heart which made it enjoyable.***

World's Apart was good, but too abstract for me. I like a simple plot. This is Greece with all its socio-political-economic problems and there are three different, but interrelated stories with a second chance theme and Eros, god of love. One is about a Greek girl who falls in love with a Syrian refugee. Her father has joined a group that goes out and harasses, beats up, and shoots immigrants claiming they are ruining the lives of Greeks. The second story is about a Swedish woman who has been sent to Greece to prepare a Greek company for a corporate takeover, slashing departments and firing employees: globalization in the worst possible way. She falls in love with one of the company's managers creating a conflict of interest. The third story is about an older German man who begins meeting a married Greek woman at the grocery store every week. She speaks just enough English to tell him his country ruined her country and their family is miserable because of it. None of the couples speak the language of the other person, but can communication in English, although not always fluently. There was some message about how emotion in speech is more easily understood than words. There was way more symbolism and meaning than was comfortable. It's one of those movies where I felt like my pea-sized brain was constantly missing the point which is always frustrating. ***

The World's Greatest Dad is about a father (Robin Williams) with the worst teenage son you could imagine. He's a rude, disrespectful, mouthy, belligerent, hypersexual bully who cares about no one and nothing. His father is a failed writer teaching poetry at a high school. His girl friend is another teacher who wants to keep their relationship a secret but is dating the other English teacher who is far more popular. His life is dreary and depressing. He's also a wimp who can't stand up to his spoiled teenage brat, lets him mouth off, lets him be rude and disrespectful, buying him whatever he wants. Bad, pathetic parenting at its worst. He finds his son dead from asphyxiation while masturbating and stages it as a suicide writing a heart-felt suicide note. The note ends up published in the school newspaper and it starts a cult-obsession with this kid who treated everyone like garbage and no one liked. He's now a martyr-like figure, idolized as a celebrity of sorts fueled by this father's lies when he decides to publish his son's fake diary he writes himself. Everyone thinks they misunderstood him and now see him as the epitome of teenagery. It was very weird and the fact that Robin William's committed suicide by hanging made it even more bizarre and creepy.  It was anything but funny, although the promotion for it says it's hilarious. Hardly.***