Saturday, January 20, 2018

Women's March 2018

On January 20, 2018 was the second annual Women's March across the nation. It rained. Did I care?


I made myself a protest umbrella!

I bought an old yet large and sturdy umbrella at the Goodwill, selected some of my favorite sayings, and painted like a mad woman trying to get it finished by Saturday. I knew it would rain. It poured. Here it is in action:

My new protest umbrella got a lot of attention. Many people stopped me to ask if I painted it, wanted to know what kind of paint I used, how long it took, and if they could take a photo. I think in the future we might see a whole lot of painted umbrellas at protests! I admit, it wasn't my idea. There was an umbrella with painted slogans last year and I was incredibly inspired. I was also asked if I sold them but between the cost of paint and the time it takes to complete one, I can't imagine anyone would want to spend enough money to make it worth while. I had a lot of fun and if I can find another cheap umbrella, I might make another.

Protesters stood in the rain for a couple hours listening to speakers, many of them Native American, African American, women politicians, and choral groups. I was frozen and numb, but DRY, by the time we were ready to move, and so desperate to move and put circulation back in my body.

The organizers were far more prepared this year and instead of the two block loop that was way too short for 10,000 participants, we traversed down a hill of switchbacks:

Then around the lake located at the base of the capitol building culminating at a park filled with non-profit organizations and charity group tents. Lots of room to march and not be bottle-necked and crowed surrounded with stinky people.

Loved the variety of creative signs and the energy. Lots of motivation and cheerfulness.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Hawaii Snafu

Hawaii had some kind of emergency meltdown a few days ago broadcasting the warning of an incoming missile.

I can't imagine what people over there were thinking. It must have been a horrible feeling of doom. Unfortunately in our Trumpist climate with war literally on our doorstep due to that buffoon's unpresidential and unprofessional behavior, nothing is a surprise. The Stephen Colbert Late Show had the best response that had me literally LOL. You can see it HERE. (Although I don't think Hawaiians are laughing...maybe someday they'll see the humor in it.)

Still, if it were my last moments on earth, I'd like them to be in Hawaii.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

CT and MCS

Something is wrong with my colon. It stopped working on November 6th. I've had two different health care providers order a CT scan. This count does not include the monstrosity of a doctor at the hospital who said a CT scan would be the preferred diagnostic tool, but their machine wasn't in working order, of course. Instead, the Temple of Death and Doom did everything but the CT scan: x-ray, ultrasound and way too many blood labs. All showed nothing, of course. The CT is preferred because it is so precise taking minute slices of x-ray imagery details. It also uses an enormous amount of cancer-causing radiation, much more than any other x-ray procedure.

The formerly-fired-rehired-but-useless Nurse Lady ordered an abdominal scan without contrast. She believes my gall bladder is causing all the problems and needs to be surgically removed immediately. With little thought whatsoever, that was her diagnosis after five minutes. This may be right as something is causing my colon not to work, but she's proven to be untrustworthy in the past so I can't rely on her shoot-from-the-hip diagnosis. Besides no one is going to remove an organ from my body without a fight. However, if it is my colon and only the abdomen is scanned, will someone expect me to get another CT scan? One is enough.

The second doctor, a GI Specialist, ordered an abdominal-pelvis scan WITH oral contrast. She believes there might be an issue with my colon. Contrast is required for colon imagery because it moves around too much for a clear image. She's a very expensive specialist so I have to trust she might know more, but she also gives her children Miralax for their constipation so I don't have much faith in her since she obviously doesn't even know how to feed her kids.

POISON. Panic. There are two types of contrast: oral and IV with two main choices of contrasting ingredients: iodine and barium. None of that sounds healthy. The oral contrast is barium. That can't be good. I have to drink poison? I tried to tell the doctor and her nurse I don't do well with chemicals, but of course, this is a conventional medicine doctor and they just think I'm crazy. Chemicals don't cause problems! They disrespectfully dismissed my concerns with a wave of a hand and persisted in treating me like I'm stupid. I asked about ingredients because I know it's the fillers and additives that will make me miserable if the barium doesn't kill me first. The nurse condescendingly argued with me. When I didn't give up she sneered then searched online. Artificial flavor, benzoic acid, citric acid, natural flavor, potassium sorbate, purified water, saccharin sodium, simethicone emulsion, sodium benzoate, sodium citrate, sorbitol and xanthan gum.

XANTHAN GUM? Didn't I just write a post on the evilness of xanthan gum? This is the stuff they put in gluten-free baking that causes all kinds of intestinal problems including constipation, intestinal blockage, and abdominal pain. So what I have is going to be made worse? Great. Let's not forget about the exploding flatulence I experienced with the xanthan gum-laced gluten-free gingerbread cookies.

The nurse gave me two bottles flavored vanilla and banana. I'm clearly freaking out, but she ignores me. I start hyperventilating. I ask if there is another flavor besides banana as I know I can't get that down. She's treating me like I'm a pain in the ass, but she finds a berry-flavored container of poison. They are calling them "smoothies". That's not reassuring.

I'm in a panic. They refuse to give me any information on the side effects and I know from past experience if there is a side effect to be had, I will have it. When I get home I get online. Hives are the most common side effect followed by constipation, intestinal blockage, and abdominal pain probably due to the xanthan gum. This doesn't even make sense - why have me drink something that will make my symptoms worse? GirlAlive tells me she went into anaphylactic shock with her first and last contrast poisoning and there it is online...some experience anaphylactic reactions...and some die. If the patient has any allergies this is a red flag.

Oh. My. God. I am doomed. I will die and no one is listening to me! What really concerns me is I am to drink one of these bottles the night before. I live out in the middle of no where. What do I do if I have a reaction and can't get help fast enough?

I contact the two different radiology offices, both have my referrals. The one for the non-contrast referral located in a different city gives me all kinds of information. Benadryl is used for side effects and works well. They seem very knowledgeable and prepared, but they haven't bothered to get a pre-approval through my insurance. Am I approved or not? They cost $200 more than the other office and they are three hours away. Can I even get another referral through my new GI specialist for this office? I doubt it. And how long would I have to wait?

The other radiology office acts just like my doctor waving off my concerns as if I'm stupid and as if zero information alleviates my stress. They've never heard of anyone having a reaction. No side effects. It's right online you morons! Ignorance is an epidemic in a small town. I guess you get what you pay for. I also looked for another radiologist in every town within two hours of my location: nothing. I don't have much of a choice so I'm at the point where I guess I should just feel thankful I have any option. This radiology office is the only one within 150 miles of me.

Online I find a thread posted by a MCSer also concerned about her CT scan appointment. About ten people responded to her, all have had CT scans, sometimes multiple CT scans, and only one had minor side effects of hives. This was reassuring.

The "natural flavor" ingredient in the smoothies also gives me pause as well, but I was told by the flunky at the second radiology office this concoction IS gluten-free. Is she lying or stupid? According to a thread based on information from the Readi-Cat company the vanilla flavor is NOT GLUTEN-FREE, but all other flavors are. It never ceases to amaze me how stupid medical people are and it's advised never to trust anything that comes out of their mouths.

SURRENDER. I made an appointment only because I've been dealing with abdominal pain for two years without anyone being able to tell me what it is and all my symptoms have escalated. Pain, desperation and fear makes one throw caution to the wind. (As I write this the pain in my side is flaring will no longer let me ignore it.) I changed the appointment three times in three days because I can't decide if I should get it over with or wait giving myself time to reconsider as I get more and more stressed out with each passing day.

During third call I confess I'm scared shitless and the scheduler says, "Due to a number of people also worried about side-effects and living out in the middle of no where, we just recently changed our procedures. If you can come in 1 1/2 hour before your appointment, we will have you drink both bottles right here. That way we will monitor you and the hospital is right across the street if there is a problem." Maybe they killed a few people before getting a clue?? I'm not excited about the possibility of another expensive emergency visit to the hospital (what am I thinking?), but just slightly relieved it'll be just around the corner if it all goes wrong.

So...tomorrow morning bright and early against ALL common sense with every fiber in my body screaming at me not to do it, I will voluntarily poison myself and get radiated. The technicians are going to regret it once that xanthan gum kicks into action. LOL. If I don't live through it, this will be my last post. If I live through it, I will add an update here:

I SURVIVED! Good lord, I don't know if I've ever been so stressed in my life! I was awake most of the night practicing my confrontation so I would be assertive, not bitchy, for results rather than release. LOL.

I started driving at five am on an empty stomach arrived just before they opened or two hours before my scheduled procedure. I stopped along the way three times to go to the restroom. Nervousness is definitely a cure for constipation!

The receptionist was lovely, friendly, and accommodating. I asked right away, "I would really love to talk to someone to address my concerns. I came in and spoke to a woman last week, but received little information and the information I did receive was incorrect. This would help alleviate my stress." Nice, uh?

THE INQUISITION. She had one of the technicians talk with me. He proceeded to tell me like the others there were no side effects, oh, but if there are any, maybe some diarrhea, but rarely. Hmmm...the woman from last week told me there is no diarrhea as the contrast doesn't have a laxative effect. They still don't understand people with celiac disease will get diarrhea from drinking gluten-laced contrast.

He continued to babble about no side effects until I just got tired of it, interrupted him and listed all the side effects I read about online, told him about those side effects being the same symptoms I have now and how I have no desire to compound my misery. I told him about my friend and her anaphylactic experience. I wanted to scream DON'T TELL ME THERE ARE NO SIDE EFFECTS! but I was cool. I explained I just need to know someone here understands there are side effects and there are protocols in place. I've received little quality, consistent information which does not give me confidence. He seemed a little miffed that I knew this information, but he was doing his darnedest to remain professional. 

I also asked about alternatives and after pushing back with no, no, no, only then he started coughing up the alternatives: water-based iodine (no way) and finally just water! Yeah, you can do this test with just water, but you have to drink enough water to expand your colon enough to make it photogenic. Funny they always wait until they know you won't give up to give you reasonable alternatives. But...the results aren't as good. I actually had read about salt-water used for this very purpose, but he was unaware of this option.

I also asked him about the gluten-free flavors. He had no clue and became a little sarcastic thinking I was saying they all had gluten not understanding why I was willing to drink the berry flavor. Then I asked if I should have drank one container last night so it would be deposited in the far reaches of my colon, can I only drink one container right now since there isn't enough time for it to get through my colon anyway? He said no. This doesn't make sense to me, but I assume he's like a trained monkey just following protocol. He instructed me to drink what I could and the more the better.

My issue has always been I NEED this test and I don't want the doctor to say the imagery isn't clear enough and demand I have it redone. SO I traded the gluten-laced vanilla smoothie in for another berry smoothie and proceeded to guzzle both down...on an empty stomach. I didn't vomit as so many have. It wasn't as bad as I thought, but YES the colder it is the easier it goes down as I was able to compare the container I brought with me on ice and the replacement he gave me which wasn't as cold. After guzzling, I didn't feel good and walking made the gunk slosh around in my empty stomach making me feel worse, but it stayed down and I didn't erupt vomit in the waiting room. (Note: I don't vomit. Even if I stuck my whole arm down my throat, I wouldn't vomit. Rarely in my life have I up-chucked anything so if you vomit easily, it might not stay down. Be prepared.)

The receptionist gave me encouragement and asked about the contrast. I told her they aren't all gluten-free. She exclaimed, "Good to know!" It's an atrocity they don't know about the products they use when the information can be found through the company. They should know, but instead they give their patients false information which puts people at risk.

My personal technician was kind, friendly, and lovely. All that stress and worry for a whole week and the procedure didn't take more than ten minutes. Good lord.

Immediately after I drank apple juice, then water, then ate fruit, then more water, then a dose of Miralax just for good measure. I felt a little intestinal cramping all day long. Some nausea. The exploding flatulence started five hours later (in the privacy of my own home). Then came the headache from hell that lasted all night.

I read you'll know when the poison is out of your system when your poop stops coming out white. What? Eewwwy! I wasn't seeing white. Hmmm.... I kept thinking maybe the radioactive toxins got sucked into my body and adhered themselves to my fat cells? And then it happened...skip this next paragraph if you don't want to be grossed out as I'm sharing way too much!

THE DUMP, NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH TRUMP BUT VERY SIMILAR... The next day I expelled the biggest, fattest, dump of my life...only it was ALL WHITE. Pasty. Eeeww. It looked like some alien creature just extracted itself from my body. I stared in horror for a moment trying to see if it had an orange-tinted comb-over. Fearful it might jump out of the toilet and suck my face, I flushed fast and down the toilet it went taking the headache with it. I wish getting rid of Trump were that easy. All is good! Life is wonderful!

BOTTOM LINE. First, ask questions. Then, question the answers. The internet is wonderful for information on products, other people's experiences, and all manner of details so difficult to get from real people anymore. Knowledge is power. Knowledge is survival. I also think it's typical behavior for doctors not to tell you everything that can go wrong. I don't know how many times I've been the 1 in 12, 1 in 25, 1 in 100...and only informed of this after I've had a bad reaction. It's very difficult to trust a health care provider who doesn't recognize chemical sensitivity. These naysayers have no protocols in place for people who are chemically sensitive and no compassion either. I think I am lucky I survived the experience with so little side effects.

Monday, January 1, 2018

2017: Review and Resolution

Wow, the years are flying by! 

Life still happens even in the fast lane...good and bad.


House Painting - You can't imagine how proud I am to know I am so self-sufficient I can get on a fifteen foot ladder and paint a two-story house all by myself. I decided I would take it slowly, using the whole summer if necessary to get ONE side done. I didn't want to overdo it in terms of physical work and toxic exposure. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how one looks at it), I couldn't stop at one side when that one side looked SO MAGNIFICENT. Three sides later, my fingers, hands, wrists, and arms were in horrible pain, and my short term memory faulty. Only now after four months the pain is finally gone. Still worth it! I love to paint...even a house!

Protests and Protest Posters - I had a hell of a good time marching in protests and making protest signs. The walls of my garage are covered in colorful, cheerful, passionately-written signage. I also printed a set of cards! I love to paint and this gives me great joy. It was a wonderful feeling of solidarity to march shoulder-to-shoulder with like-minded people for worthy causes. Even with the toxic exposure of being shoulder-to-shoulder with stinky people, it was fun!

Movies - What would I do without movies? Number one form of exile entertainment.

Yard, Garage, Estate Sales and Freecyle - I went to a lot of spectacular sales this year finding all kinds of cheap, used, but outstanding items. Linens, furniture, clothes. Quality, hardly-worn clothes in my size are difficult to find, but this year I scored on more than one occasion. Freecycle freebies are such a gift! One woman's junk is another woman's treasure!

Furniture Painting - Find some freebie furniture and go crazy! I have progressed from dots to leaves! Well, dots are my addiction and they can still be found in the background. Excellent creative outlet. This year I painted a dresser and a shelf:

Fragrance-Free Online Friends - What would I do without a computer? Online people are always fragrance-free!! LOL. I have excellent friends in Malaysia, Canada, and Europe as well as the United States. Most of them are even chemically sensitive and are empathetic to my challenges. Even this limited human contact is comforting.

Blog - This is my social life. I can write/talk to myself to my heart's content and it's a gift when my readers comment and participate in the conversation. It makes me feel connected to humans. Love my blog.


Garden - My garden was great. Carrots, Italian prunes, flower, herbs, and most of the lettuce was spectacular.

This was the first time in twelve years I had fungal issues with my apple and cherry trees so the fruit was tainted. Damn. What a waste. This was my fault. In past years I've used manure tea for fertilizer and grew beautiful, giant fruits. I found out this year if you start using it too early in the season it creates fungus growth. I think that was the problem. Damn. Some of the lettuce wilted before it was ready for harvest. This was unprecedented. Not sure why. I've been working all fall and winter downsizing, dismantling some of the beds and planters, transplanting, and spraying everything with organic-approved fungus killer.

House - I love my house, but if you've been reading my posts I have been desperate to move back to civilization for years. I came very close to buying a house last summer, then backed out during negotiations when the owner couldn't for legal reasons accept my low offer. Even with the low offer I could barely afford a loan and my common sense kept screaming DON'T DO IT! I couldn't raise my offer and finally I realized buying a house would financially destroy me. Besides the stress. The owner finally did sell the house to someone who had cash - and paid $20,000 LOWER than what I offered. I think the house was in such bad shape no one could get a loan and he was forced to come down. Although I was disappointed and sad, in many ways I feel like I dodged a bullet. Oh hum. SO...I can't move. Maybe never. It's a traumatic realization, but at the same time I've come to accept it and there is a certain contentment that comes with acceptance.

Foster Care Training - Well, if I'm stuck in my house I decided I needed to make my life and house more meaningful. I'm tired of reading about child abuse and neglect or bad parents killing their babies. I took basic training, CPR, and some continuing education classes learning about trauma, behavior disorders, multicultural awareness, learning disorders, adoption, and the foster system in general. Most of it I already knew from years I spent teaching, but it was a fascinating refresher and a fun extra-curricular activity nevertheless. All trainers and fellow students were fragrance free although in most classes I was either the only participant or the class was a webinar online. I researched to find ways to deal with chemical sensitivity while working the system. I gathered loads of supplies: beds, cribs, strollers, high chairs, toys, clothes, emergency equipment, medical supplies, and a brand new washer and dryer. I even completed and submitted a thirty page application packet. It was very exciting and motivating. The final blow: I don't have any support. I have no family. No friends. Some even told me I was crazy for wanting to be a foster parent while others told me they wouldn't give me a reference. I felt continuously discouraged but viewed this as a challenge to overcome. I thought I could work around lack of support by going to the training sessions and meeting other area foster parents, but my local representative refused to issue a fragrance-free request and she stinks like a French whore making my attempts difficult. The logistics of caring for children while working full time is also a deterrent so this might work better when I'm retired. I have lots of time to get it all worked out IF it can be worked out. I need to somehow create a support system. I have been chemically sensitive for fifteen years and have not found a support system so this might all be some silly dream. Oh well. So much for trying to make a difference in the world.

Work - Lots of steady work this year. I love the security money brings. However, this year I was working so much without a break my eyes became compromised. Dry, sandy, painful. How do I read with blurry eyes? It was frightening. My eye doctor's office was scented with toxic air fresheners. They remodeled which created ventilation issues and rather than fix the problem so they don't get mold, they'd rather cover it all up with stink. Not smart. I complained. Then he tried to tell me my eye problems were allergies. He refused to listen to me. Was this revenge for complaining about the air fresheners? Or just a narrow-minded assumption because he doesn't understand MCS is not an allergy? His advice and prescriptions did nothing to help. I hate it when doctors don't listen. The second eye doctor agreed with me without question: dry eyes caused by too much computer work. He said the preservatives in the eye drops the first doctor gave me were toxic. No one should have to go to multiple doctors to get quality medical care. Substandard practitioners need to have their licenses revoked...but if standards were higher there might not be any doctors left!

Drawing Group - I started going to this drawing group in hopes of finding friends and it's now been just over a year of unwavering dedication. Sometimes it's fun to go and draw. Other times I feel like a fraud pretending I can draw and it's overwhelmingly discouraging. The people are nice, but not friendly. They come to the meeting, draw in silence, share, then leave. Not many want to converse or share in recreational activities. Most are married. More often than not I find married people to be very insular and not interested in additional friendships. Some of them stink and force me to leave early. I'm losing interest, but it does give me an opportunity to get out of the house twice a month. And, it is fun to go to places I might otherwise not visit. These collage sketches were done at a maritime museum:


Hospital Emergency - Besides the pain-induced fear of not knowing what was wrong with me, besides the shitty, incompetent 400 lb. pig of a doctor and his dismissive, apathetic hospital staff, and besides the outrageous expense, the worst part of this experience was the realization I had absolutely no one I could rely on for assistance or support. Absolutely no one. It's very depressing. Aging scares the shit out of me. I withdrew my foster care application the following day.

Health Care - Doctors are crap. There is just no redeeming value in any of them. Since the hospital visit I've seen three who were pathetically useless. The first decided my vital organs needed to be surgically removed. Just for the fun of it, I think. HA! Like that is ever going to happen! She also started scenting her "fragrance-free" office with essential oils and persists in using my appointment time to try to sell me on her new money-making project: scented homemade soaps. Does she not understand she's wasting my time? I don't give a fuck about her recreational activities. The second also failed at prioritizing my symptoms and prescribed something with contraindications that made me worse. I tried getting into a new doctor, but the office requires records from the old doctor, but the old doctor is incompetent which is why I need a new doctor and it's taken her weeks to send the records. Health care is a joke with profits a higher priority than the patient.

The Dotard Dump - The worst president in modern history. So incredibly embarrassing. He can't speak well, he can't spell, he can't think, he's a sexist, racist, egotistical, sociopathic fat man who lives on twelve cans of Coke and McDonald's junk food. Such a pig of a man. He's running the country into the ground in every way possible. We are an international laughing stock. Not sure what all those Russian-influenced Trumptards were thinking. Well, they weren't. What a bunch of gullible, stupid people. And RUSSIA is still looking at my blog more than any other country according to my blog's statistics!

CONCLUSION: It's been a very discouraging, depressing, expensive year.


Volunteering - I am determine to make my life more meaningful...somehow.

Support - I need to find friends. What a challenge! How? Most people stink. And in my area where so many voted for the Dump? I've met many of my I really want to know these people close and upfront? Hmmm.... We'll see what 2018 brings.


Sunday, December 31, 2017

December Movie Reviews

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

Amreeka is about a Palestinian mother who moves with her son to America for a better life. The first half hour or so is about their life in the Middle East with security checkpoints, surrounded by poverty, and really ugly landscape. I know this is homeland for many, but eeeewww! what a bleak place to live devoid of color and beauty. The rest of the movie is about the culture shock (it's snowing when they get there) and struggles they face in a new country riddled with anti-Middle Eastern sentiment. It was really good. ****

Beatrix at Dinner The DVD cover calls it "A Sharply Funny Comedy"...? What? The summary makes it sound like some hilarious ruse where there is a laugh a minute. Even the cover photos have all actors smiling and laughing. Someone totally missed the point or the cover writer didn't watch the movie! It is about a Mexican-American masseuse, Beatrix (Selma Hayek), who does various energy modalities and has a gift for healing. She works with cancer patients and on the side has a massage practice that caters to rich people. One of her clients (Connie Britton) has an appointment right before an important dinner party with her husband's sleazy business associates. Beatrix's car won't start so the rich lady invites her stay for dinner...? That seemed really unrealistic. They do keep saying how the masseuse is more like a family friend since she helped heal the daughter who had cancer, but still unrealistic. I know if I were in her shoes I'd feel very uncomfortable as a freeloader, not dressed appropriately, etc. The dinner guests show up, talk about raping lands and making mega bucks at the expense of the environment and indigenous people, show off their African safari kills, and even ask Beatrix to re-fill their drinks assuming she is the help. John Lithgow's character makes one want to vomit he is so vile. Beatrix is pretty brazen in her opinions, lets them know how disgusting their business dealings and recreational activities are. It was a very uncomfortable movie right to the end. Definitely NOT a comedy. Excellent performances by all. ***

Be Somebody is about teen idol Jordan Jaye who gets left behind when he leaves his tour bus unbeknowst to his managers and handlers. A few of his fan recognize him and the chase begins. He comes across pizza delivery girl getting gas at a gas station who dashes him away and he spends the weekend with her on vacation from his world tour. It was a sweet friendship/love story. Really stupid title. ***

Bokeh is about an American couple who go to Iceland for vacation only to wake up one morning and everyone has disappeared! The city is empty. The infrastructure is still working: lights, water, electricity, for a while anyway. Cars abandoned in the middle of the road are still in drive, no one answering their cell phones, internet still working, but no activity since the day before. Eventually they realize they are alone. He tries seeing the positive side of their situation while she is stressed, homesick, negative and religious. She was raised by a Christian minister so her outlook is decidedly apocalyptic. Is it the rapture? She is bent on trying to make sense and find meaning. Are they the only ones on earth not "chosen"? Are they bad? Why were they left and not others? Trying to make sense of a senseless predicament only adds to her negative attitude. It was a little slow, lacking in budget, and lacking in plot diversions that would make it more interesting.  Iceland looks beautiful. I constantly wondered how they rid this town of people so they could film. Total silence. ***

The Book of Henry This was a truly odd story that veered dramatically away from the expected. I anticipated a cliché plot: intellectually-gifted boy who does everything for his mother finds out the neighbor girl (Maddie Ziegler from Dance Moms growing up fast) is being molested by her step-father (Dean Norris) who is the police commissioner with a lot of high-powered friends, concocts some wise plan to bring justice to the situation, everyone lives happily ever after.  Jeez, it took a turn for the worst right in the middle of the movie. Totally unexpected. So weird and discombobulating, but continued with the real theme. (Sorry I don't want to divulge too much). Most performances were great. Naomi Watts was the mother. Maddie Ziegler dances in a talent show, but her acting skills were wanting. The little brother was so adorable. ***

Brave is a Disney cartoon about a little Viking girl with a Scottish accent who doesn't want to follow tradition and be betrothed to the highest bidder. So she buys a spell from a witch to change her stubborn, traditional mother and her mother ends up being turned into a bear. The cute little girl with the wild red hair is adorable. Nothing special about the cartoon unlike some Disney animated cartoons. Kids would like it. **

Collateral Beauty is about a man (Will Smith) head of a tech company who espouses the universal truths of how humans all want love, need more time, and fear death. If business appeals to these basic human needs, success happens. His six year old daughter dies and he's drowning in grief, unable to function daily at work or in life.  He spends his days at a dog park staring aimlessly and his nights holed up in his dark apartment writing angry letters to death, time and love. His business partners/associates (Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, and Michael Pena) need his major stock holder status to be able to function before the business goes belly up. When his lack of effort puts everyone's job at risk they devise a plan. First, they hire a private detective to watch him in order to find evidence of a mental breakdown and his letter writing activities are discovered. They hire three actors to represent death (Ellen Mirren), love (Keira Knightly) and time (Jacob Latimore) to confront him. To add complexity to the storyline, each of the actors is paired with an associate who is having his or her own issue with love, time or death. It was very interesting. All great performances and all-star cast. ****

Colossal with Anne Hathaway as an unemployed alcoholic who moves to her parents' empty home after her boyfriend kicks her out of their apartment. She runs into an old classmate who hires her as a waitress in his bar where she continues to stay up all night getting drunk. And that's where it stopped being somewhat sane. She can go to a park at 8:05am in the morning, hung over, and somehow, magically, a monster appears in South Korea killing everyone. It's controlled by her. She steps into the playground and she's stepping on the city buildings of Seoul. Yeah, I have no idea what this movie was really about. Someone told me with sci-fi you have to be willing to suspend realism and accept the weirdness as if it is normal. Hmmm...probably why I hate sci-fi. I kept hoping something would eventually make sense or there would be an obvious metaphor so I kept watching, but nothing. *

Everything Everything is about a seventeen year old girl who has some weird disease that makes all germs life threatening so she has lived her whole life in a sterile environment never leaving the house. She dreams of swimming in the ocean. Cute boy moves in next door and makes her question her very bland existence.  The story had an enormous amount of potential, but failed miserably at delivery. Everything, everything was wrong with it. First, if the main character has to narrate (with illustrations!) for fear the audience won't get it, then something is wrong with the script. Most of performances weren't very good, very staged, lacking in proper interpretation of the situation, lacking in human emotion and passion, bland like robot people. I'm going to blame this on the bad direction and possibly inexperienced actors.  The characters were poorly developed which contributed to the boring performances and so many of the scenes were unrealistic. How does a secluded teenager qualify for a credit card? She starts getting deliveries from online stores and the mother's response is, "Oh, that's such a nice sweater on you." Really? Who the fuck is paying for it? How does she get on an airplane when she can't possibly have proper identification? All this sidelining to keep the plot interesting was a waste of energy when someone should have instead have spent more time developing the story and characters. The dialogue was cliché and lacked passion. So many scenes that should have been poignant or moving missed the mark. Even with all my negative criticism, it was a great story. Just disappointing in presentation.  **

50 to 1 is about a long-shot race horse who somehow qualifies for the Kentucky Derby and then wins it. Based on a true story, it was a pretty clean-cut story that seemed like an after-school special. I figured they'd throw some God talk in there, but it didn't get that mushy. ***

Ghost in the Shell is a sci-fi about a futuristic Japan and robotic enhancements to humans. The latest advancement is adding human brains to robotic bodies to be used as advanced weapons. Major (Scarlett Johansson) is the first successful experiment and she was programmed to believe she was a terrorist attack victim who was saved through technology. Later she finds out she was a runaway living underground, protesting the evils of technology, kidnapped by a tech corporation, and had her brain removed. Great performances. Really awesome futuristic sets. But I'm not a sci-fi fan...too much science for me. Sci-fi fans would love it. ***

Gifted is about a precocious little girl who is very smart living with her uncle because her highly-intelligent mathematician mother committed suicide. He's trying to give her a chance to be a normal kid and sends her to public school. Her boredom gets her in trouble causing the powers that be to call her grandmother who sues for custody. It was a fairly predictable plot. One turn of events was unrealistic, but they must have thought that was a good idea to add some drama. Great performances by Chris Evans and Octavia Spencer. ***

Hunt for the Wilder People is a New Zealand film about a delinquent foster child who goes to live with two country people on their farm on the edge of the Bush. The woman is welcoming, loving, has a habit of giving homes to all kinds of strays, and composes individualized birthday songs while playing along on her little portable piano. Very sweet. Her companion is a grumpy old man who doesn't want to be bothered. After a tragedy, the government comes to get the boy to take him to juvie jail (he's been through all the foster homes that will take him) and he's not having it, running into the Bush with his dog Tupac followed the police, the military and everyone else hunting him for the reward. It was delightful and heart-warming with many LOL moments due to the outstanding writing. The kid was adorable. ****

The Keeping Room  is a near-the-end-of-the Civil War western about three Southern women, two sisters and a slave, living alone on a farm trying to survive. Two Union degenerates find their farm and the fun begins. It's very violent, but realistic. Excellent performances. What a horrible time to live especially for women. ***

Kidnap  Halle Berry's six-year old son is kidnapped from a park while she talks on her cell phone. She tears off after them, loses her phone in the chase so she can't call for help, speeding down the freeway following them for fear if she loses the car, she'll lose her son forever. In the chase they leave a wake of car accidents and general damage. She is in a car accident no less than three times as the chase ensues, still able to walk after each one, unrealistic, but really good or the story might have ended too soon. Then she runs out of gas, but the fun doesn't stop there! Never a dull moment. ****

Maggie's Plan is about a woman who wants to get pregnant but doesn't want the drama of a relationship. Then she falls in love with a married man who isn't happy in his marriage, he leaves his wife, they have a child, and then she starts falling OUT of love with him. This is where I got bored. I guess she talks the ex-wife into trying to take him back, but I was too bored to care and turned it off. *

Nina is about Nina Simone, mostly her last eight years. She was a mess. Great performances. Zoe Saldana was superb and unrecognizable. Excellent music. ****

Personal Shopper is about a woman (Kristen Stewart) who is a personal shopper to a celebrity living in Paris. She's also a medium waiting for her dead twin brother to prove there is life after death. Yeah, I know. It was very weird and Kristen as usual is exceptionally tormented. She's really good at playing tormented, but it makes one wonder if she can do anything else. **

Planet of the Apes  I have never seen this series. The first, released in 1968, is definitely dated with obnoxious 1960s horror music, really bad melodramatic performances focusing on emotional exaggeration rather than real human behavior and dialogue, bad scriptwriting, bad everything. I know it's a classic, and yes, I admit once again I have no patience for most outdated 1970s movies especially when the make-up and costumes were so unrealistic. *

Repo Man 1980s movie with Emilio Estevan. I used to think he was cute all dressed up in his Miami Vice suits, but I must have been too young to realize what a horrible actor he is. It was about a kid becoming a repo man and some alien driving around wreaking havoc. The FBI are in pursuit so they place an order to have the alien's car repossessed. It was incredibly stupid. Harry Dean Stanton was great. He's a perfect sleazy sales guy. *

Rise of the Planet of the Apes I hated the above 1968 Planet of the Apes but someone told me the new series is better.'s the prequel addressing how these apes became smart : they were lab animals for an experimental Alzheimer's drug. Great storyline! The special effects were more realistic as the apes didn't look like they were just humans with masks. It was all pretty creepy. Great storyline, but I just can't get into sci-fi. **

The Sea of Trees is a very haunting, poetic story about a man's journey to the suicide forest of Japan.  After Arthur (Matthew McConaughey) arrives and finds a suitable place to die, begins to take the pills, he sees another person walking, lost, trying to find his way out of the forest to get back to his family. Arthur stops what he is doing and tries to help, but they stumble deeper into the trees, falling off cliffs, whisked away in  flash floods, while encountering dead bodies around every corner. We get flashbacks on why he's there. Excellent movie on human relations, life, death, spirituality. This forest in Japan really exists and averages 207 suicides a year. Some people change their minds and walk out. I think it would be really weird to want to commit suicide surrounded by dead and rotting bodies. I kept wondering, Don't they smell? Still, it was a very thought-provoking movie. ****

The Show was about a reality TV show host (Josh Duhamel). During one of those bachelor finales as the bachelor selects the woman he will marry, the other girl shoots him then shoots herself. Josh has a bit of a meltdown deciding he's tired of mindless, exploitive television. After much discussion on liability and the assisted suicide legislation, his producers decide to create a show where people commit suicide on camera. He decides suicide might have a higher purpose and agrees to host if they sell suicide as a celebration of life. Yeah, the justification is a little bent.  During one taping the audience gets a little bored with a death-by-car-exhaust because it's taking so long so they opt to fake the woman's death on camera and have her die for real backstage. Unfortunately, she changes her mind! Oops! She tries to fight her way out of the car but Josh pushes her back in. She turns off the ignition, but he crawls in and turns it back on effectively murdering her for the good of the show. It's all out of control. A janitor at the television studio (Giancarlo Esposito) who is working two jobs trying to support his family, loses both jobs - one of them because Josh is an ass, and opts to go on the show so we follow his story throughout the movie watching him struggle to find work and keep his house which is in foreclosure. The theme is interesting and so true - society is hateful and cruel and loves seeing misery. It's good for ratings. Watching the audience cheer was disturbing. Great performances and great ending, but very gruesome. I almost turned it off a couple times. There is just no valid reason for suicide and so many of the contestants were leaving behind children thinking their monetary winnings would give the kids a better life...? Without their parents? Nope. Not buying that. ***

Southside with You is about Barack and Michelle Obama's first date. It's amazing a president  and his wife can have such huge popular appeal that Hollywood would make a movie about their first date! The best president and first lady ever. I miss them. ***

Ten Cloverfield Lane During some kind of catastrophic power grid failure, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) took off down the highway after breaking up with her boyfriend. She gets in an accident and wakes up in an underground bunker out in the middle of farm land built by a crazed, temperamental, touchy doomsday survivalist, Howard [John Goodman], who tells her the world has ended. He's not sure if it's Russians or aliens or whatever, but the air is contaminated and they will be living for the next year or two underground away  from danger. She's not having it. I think being chained to the wall gives her pause. He tells her she needs to be less combative, and a lot more grateful as he saved her life from certain doom. Emmett, a young man, is also with them and can attest to the atomic flash of light he saw before entering the bunker. Still not convinced, she attempts a breakout only to be met at the door by a screaming woman with blisters all over her face so she begins to believe his story. Just when they start to settle in and accept their fate, a discovery makes her a nonbeliever again and she convinces Emmett to help her escape. They make a plan and even build a HAZMAT suit out of a shower curtain just in case, but it all goes wrong when Howard gets suspicious. It's a wonderful plot as it bounces the audience back and forth between believing and not believing and not really sure what to believe right to the end. Outstanding performances. Great soundtrack. Title graphics at the beginning were wonderful and the title repeat near the end was awesome. I appreciate a movie where someone took the time to pay attention to details. Excellent story. Outstanding, unexpected ending. Loved it. *****

Trading Christmas I ran out of movies on Christmas eve, took the DVDs I already watched to the library return bin and as I'm putting them in, my hand caught on someone's returned DVD...I took it home!  I figured the library wasn't going to be open for a few days so why not. I needed a movie. Yes, I steal stuff from the library.  LOL! I'm always saying how some films are "Hallmark movies" as a somewhat negative criticism. Well, this one WAS a Hallmark movie. It was good. Very clean cut G rating. It's about a widow who's college student daughter decides not to come home for Christmas for the first time and instead goes to Arizona with her boyfriend. The mother decides she'll surprise her daughter in Boston (not knowing she left) and does a house trade with a man. The woman's best friend decides to surprise her friend who she thinks is alone for the holidays and ends up staying at the house with the home swapper. The man's brother in Boston checks on his brother's condo when the security alarm goes off and they meet. Romance is all over the place....based on a romance book. It was sweet. Yes, I returned it to the bin the next morning. ***

Unconditional Love was a movie about a frumpy housewife (Kathy Bates) who never takes risks and her love for crooner Victor Fox (Jonathan Pryce) who sings Barry Manilow songs (I was humming Manilow songs all night!). Her husband (Dan Akroyd) decides he wants more adventure in his life and leaves her. She wins tickets to a talk show to meet Victor Fox but he is murdered enroute. She decides be risky, to go to England to sob at his funeral and meets his valet (long-time secret gay lover, the ever-charming Rupert Everett) . It was funny and sweet with LOL moments. Then it got a little goofy. Great characters and great cameos by Julie Andrews and Barry Manilow. ***

Watchtower is a foreign film with English subtitles out of Turkey about a man who lost his wife and baby in a car accident. He takes a job as a solitary guard for a lookout post watching the forests for fires. A pregnant young woman leaves college to work for a bus station near this watchtower. Later we find out the reason she left was because she is pregnant with her uncle's child after being molested while living with him and his family. She has the baby one day while working at the bus station diner. That was probably the most interesting [bizarre] childbirth scene I've ever seen! She leaves the baby out by the garbage and starts walking, stumbling, blood all over her skirt, in pain and in a daze. Our watchtower guard just happened to be at the restaurant eating and sees all this going on. He finds her walking, escorts her to the watchtower for some R&R, makes her comfortable...dilly dallies. I kept screaming, THE BABY!! GET THE BABY! HURRY UP before a dog eats it! Just when I didn't think I could handle the tension any long, he does run down the mountain to retrieve the baby. It was interesting for sure with themes of guilt and conscience. I think I'd love a job being a fire guard living in a tiny cabin on top of a mountain. Beautiful scenery. Tolerable performances.  There were some extra long unnecessary views of uninteresting stuff. Not ever sure of the point for such stagnation, but I find that common foreign films. ***

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

For those of you who enjoy holiday libations, here's an idea for the empty bottles!

This is an outstanding, chemical-free, non-toxic Christmas tree. It would be more aesthetically pleasing if they would have taken the time to remove all the labels. It's still awesome just less green. It would be a lot of work to put the tree up...and take it down, store the bottles, but still very cool and clever.


Thursday, December 21, 2017

MCS World Disease Map

I just checked out this worldwide disease map for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity although I think I've seen it or one like it in the past. There are 743 people on it so far. You can place yourself on it (anonymously if you prefer), write a profile, and be available as an adviser to others if you wish. See it HERE

I'm still considering starting some kind of support group for my area. I'm not sure if it will get many members or if will help or effect change in anyway, but support is seriously needed.

Monday, December 18, 2017

I Wear Speedos

I love that song "Despacito". Actually I love anything Puerto Rican and there isn't enough Puerto Rican music out there anyway, but when one of the songs hits the top 10 in pop music, people pay attention. If you haven't heard the song here is the video:

I saw this parody on it and thought I would die laughing. It's hilarious:

It's like a mankini! 



Laughter is good...

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Christmas Shopping and Retail Toxicity

It doesn't take long for those of us who are chemically sensitive to become fully aware of the various toxic consumer products available for anyone to buy and everyone to use. The bad purchasing habits of people continue to pollute the environment seriously affecting our ability to survive in society. Some companies are well-known for their bad product choices as most of their inventory is cheap and purchased from China. Maximum profit is the priority.

A recent article on consumer awareness posted on the Organic Consumers Association website is titled "Holiday Buyers Beware: 9 Retailers Who Got an "F" Rating for Failing to Take Action on Dangerous Chemicals in Consumer Products." You can read the full article HERE.

In summary, the companies who have gone out of their way to reduce the number of toxic products are: Albertsons, Best Buy, Costco, CVS Health, Home Depot, Target and Walmart. I find this fascinating as several of these retailers are businesses I typically avoid because they carry cheap products, buy from China, and are all about profits vs. people. Some of them are Republican Party supporters so I boycott them anyway. Finding they are making an effort toward reducing chemicals in our environment is a pleasant surprise. It gives me hope.

On the other hand, here are the nine major retailers that received failing grades for not even bothering to try:

Funny...I've been saying for years Trader Joe's is just a junk food store masquerading as a health food outlet with all their prepackaged products. There you have it! Validation! The fact that Toys and Babies "R" Us is on this list is disturbing.

Bottom line, it's up to the consumers to use their spending power to let corporations know we won't tolerate poor quality and toxic products. Your shopping habits count.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Christmas Tree Syndrome

Do you have a living Christmas tree in your house? Think again!

HERE is an article about mold issues and Christmas trees.

No mention of the pesticides that are used on them. Although I don't know what organic tree farm uses to control insects, I was once told without some kind of bug control Christmas trees are covered in aphids. I would not want a bunch of bugs crawling around in my house either!

Artificial Christmas trees made with synthetics and plastics offgas toxic fumes. Some of these synthetic materials are also coated in lead-based plastics for strength that come off on your hands. This is a common material for Christmas light wiring. Over time these materials start to disintegrate leaving toxic dust all over the house. Check the labels on the boxes for health and safety warnings.

Again, only California cares about the health and safety of American citizens!

My little fake Christmas tree is made with bendable wire and synthetic needles. It doesn't stink.

Gold-or-Black-Metal-Elegant-Scroll-Christmas-Ornament-Display-Tree-Decor-3-SizesI think metal Christmas trees are the answer. They don't smell as good, but they are safe. Hang some fancy glass ornaments and good to go!

The Vatican is So Cool

When it's time to re-paint the Vatican, they use non-toxic, earth-friendly milk paint! It's made from the pope's cows' milk with non-toxic pigments and hand sponged right onto the buildings. Wow! Besides being environmentally-friend and concern for the safety of their employees and visitors, this is an age-old practice from a pre-chemical period in history that has withstood the test of time. You can read the article and watch the video HERE

They clean the statues in the Vatican garden with essential oils. Yeah, if you read my blog you know I hate essential oils. It seems oregano and thyme from Sicily kill mold and mildew. I knew that. I used essential oils to kill the mold under my house with some Thieves Household Cleaner.**

Excellent!! Too bad all this environmentally friendliness, common sense and compassion isn't more wide-spread. Governments and corporations could learn a thing or two from religion. (Who would have ever thought?)

**OK, I admit here there is some value to essential oils. Besides mold killing concoctions, I also use peppermint essential oil to keep spiders out of my house, but I still stand by the fact they should not be used on human bodies as perfume or in spaces as air fresheners!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Christmas Carrot

I dug up the last of my carrots today. The bounty always lasts until December and it's so nice to eat fresh, tasty, beautiful carrots through fall and into the winter. In previous years I made the mistake of leaving the carrots out in the monsoon rains - the dirt gets soggy and they split creating all kinds of problems. This year I covered them and they were perfect.

Look at this GIANT one! Hooray! And beautiful. I wonder if I'd let it continue to grow how big would it get? Next year I'll try that just for a fun experiment, but I'm going to need a new raised bed as the old one's floor fell out of it.

So much healthier than cookies, but not nearly as tempting....

Friday, December 8, 2017

Christmas Cookies Make Me Fart

So, my Christmas spirit is rampant and I was eager to try out a new gluten-free recipe for gingerbread cookies. To be clear I wasn't making them for myself, but for my library as I think I need to show gratitude for all the help those women give me all year long.

The challenge with this recipe is one needs to mix the dough and place it in the refrigerator overnight so it's easier to roll. That's just too much dough at my fingertips (literally) for some snacking. Initially, though, I thought I should try the cookies before I gave them to people to make sure the gluten-free option was edible.

I took a tiny bit of dough and rolled it out, baked, ate. Wonderful! How nice it is after five years to be able to make Christmas cookies. Later that night with weakened willpower I tip-toed back into the kitchen, unwrapped the refrigerated cookie dough, and extracted some more. Yum.

All hell broke loose at bedtime. My colon was rumbling loudly as if I had some alien trying to break free. And then large bursts of untethered flatulence expelled from my body so violently the walls of my bedroom vibrated. This continued until 6am. Around 2 am I got up, checked ingredients, and looked online.

Xanthan gum is evil. I seemed to remember someone telling me this once, but failed miserably at information recall as I blindly and single mindedly planned my Christmas cookie baking indulgence. Xanthan gum is commonly used in gluten-free products as a thickening agent and that's exactly what it does in the thickens everything.


People who are exposed to xanthan gum powder might experience flu-like symptoms, nose and throat irritation, and lung problems.  It can cause some side effects such as intestinal gas (flatulence) and bloatingNauseavomitingappendicitis, hard stools that are difficult to expel (fecal impaction), narrowing or blockage of the intestine, or undiagnosed stomach pain: Do not use xanthan gum if you have any of these conditions. It is a bulk-forming laxative that could be harmful in these situations.

All night bouts of uncontrollable farting tend to deflate one's Christmas spirit. Can you imagine if the library ladies would have eaten them??? I'd be on their shit list for sure.

I'm ready for Christmas to be over....

Forget BAKING my own cookies! I'll buy them:

Especially the chocolate chip ones.
Oh! The green striped ones smell like peppermint!
I have been told the green stripped ones have a gooey chocolaty middle. ARGH!

Friday, December 1, 2017

November Movie Reviews

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

Baywatch  Brainless entertainment. It had some funny moments. I liked it when the Rock told the perpetually shirtless Zac Efron he had a man-gina and kept referring to him as a boy band.  The story started out fun introducing some of the more interesting beach characters and showing what superhero-lifeguards do, but then it took a dive into a drug ring plot with these lifeguards playing detective in order to save the world. Not very realistic. Most of the stunts were not very realistic either but used to increase the entertainment factor. This is a movie I might not have selected had there was anything else available. The very sweet librarian had it in her stack to take home and felt sorry for me for having nothing to watch so she gave it to me. She said it might be good eye-candy.  She loves The Rock. I couldn't get through it. I just got bored. I think it would have been more interesting had they focused on the lives of the lifeguards and the people they save, but obviously someone thought that wasn't superhero-ish enough. *

Ben-Hur Ooooh! The 2016 remake!  The star (Jack Huston) is gorgeous. The chariot races were gruesome and thrilling, but the violence tolerable with not too much gore. Jesus was handsome. Those white horses were magnificent. Performances excellent. Morgan Freeman was awesome. It was delicious. ****

The Big Sick was about a Pakistani stand-up comedian (Kumail Nanjiani) who meets and falls in love with a quirky American girl (Zoe Kazan) while his parents keep trying to fix him up in an arranged marriage with Pakistani women. He can't tell them he's in love and he can't commit to the girl because his parents would disown him for rejecting his traditions. I didn't quite see where this was going so at the break-up fight I put it on pause and did some other things. I came very close to turning it off. It wasn't funny, or romantic, but the cultural aspect was interesting. Then I returned to it and after they break up she ends up in the ICU with a life-threatening infection and he goes to be by her side bonding with her parents.  This added some intrigue, but only enough to keep it turned on. **

Cleveland Abduction is the story of Michelle Knight who with Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus were kidnapped and held captive for eleven, ten, and nine years, respectively. Very disturbing. Besides the daily rape, violence and mental abuse these women endured, how is it that his neighbors didn't notice anything or become suspicious? How is it when the police were called because a neighbor heard screams coming from the house they just drove away after saying, "Well, if you hear screams again call us." Or the police lack of involvement when the mother reports her missing, "Maybe she just ran away [because we are too lazy to get off our asses and make an effort]."  I was absolutely horrified this woman who survived only because she wanted desperately to see her son again was denied seeing him because he had been adopted! Yes, I understand it might have been disrupted to his new life, but he was 16 years old and deserved at the very least to know his mother didn't abandon him. Such a horror story. And that lunatic committed suicide...was no one watching a prisoner? He should have been in chains doing hard labor 20 hours a day. Eye for an eye.  It makes me so angry this happen so easily and went on for so long. Are we just blind and apathetic to people around us? Excellent movie, although very disturbing. ****

Eat Drink Man Woman is a Taiwanese movie with English subtitles about a chef and his three adult daughters who still live at home. Their lives are a mix of tradition and modernity with relationship challenges. Every Sunday they gather for a family dinner.  The food looked amazing, but I kept wondering how much of it was gluten-free. LOL. ***

The Edge of Seventeen is about a seventeen-year old (Hailee Steinfeld) who is going through those teen years. Woody Harrelson plays one of her teachers and he's hilarious. Kyra Sedgwick plays her neurotic mother. Outstanding writing. I've never been a fan of Steinfeld as I find her skills to be substandard, but in this movie she was exceptional. ****

Eyewitness was an incredibly low-budget film with second-rate actors who were embarrassingly bad. It might have been made for television. It was about a mother-daughter pair who go river rafting and come across escaped convicts looking for their loot. Typical plot, cliché in every way, really pathetic, but I lasted through the whole thing. Beautiful California scenery and lots of running up and down river banks, through fields, up hills. **

Get Out was fascinating in a really bizarre, frightening way! It's about an African American man who goes with his white girlfriend to stay with her parents for the weekend.  Unfortunately, that's all I can say without giving away the plot. Outstanding performances. Excellent story, but it is truly creepy and gets creepier as the movie progresses. Great ending. Just saying...I was so afraid it was going to end badly. The "alternative ending" in the bonus wasn't so good.  Very creepy. Then I watched it again to see what I missed. *****

How to Be a Latin Lover is about a Latin gigolo who decides when he is a boy he doesn't want to work for a living. The black humor at the beginning sets the stage. As a gorgeous young man he woos older, filthy rich widows and marries one which enables him to live a life of luxury for twenty-five years - until she dumps him for a younger man. He decides he needs another woman, preferably older and richer than the last one and goes on the hunt while moving in with his sister (Selma Hayek) and her 10-year old son who has a crush on a girl at school. He begins teaching his nephew lessons in how to romance women. Rob Lowe plays his best friend who is also living off an older rich widow and Kristen Bell plays a cat woman working in a yogurt shop. It has some funny moments, but most of it was goofy. **

Jackie was Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy during the assassination and the days that followed. Portman was great except the voice was a little weird, but I think Jackie kind of talked with that weird wispy breathy sound. Loved the costumes. Was Jackie really that crazy with grief? I always felt sorry for her being kicked out of the White House so soon after and it's hard to imagine how anyone would deal with watching your husband get assassinated. ***

Manchester by the Sea was about a strange, anti-social man (Casey Affleck) who's brother dies leaving in his will custody of his sixteen-year old son. Unfortunately custody involves moving back to this hometown which would force him to confront his demons, demons which made him strange and anti-social. It was a little slow. Michelle Williams was excellent, as always. **

Office Christmas Party I thought this would be really stupid, but it was actually tolerable and with an all-star cast: Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, Kate McKinnon, and Jennifer Anniston. About an internet company that's about to be shut down if they don't get an account so they go against the CEO's orders not to spend money on a Christmas party in order to impress the account representative into thinking they have an outstanding office culture with happy employees. Wild party, crazy with some funny bits. I love McKinnon. ***

The Ottoman Lieutenant was a love story about a young Christian American nurse tired of the racist, sexist agenda of the United States heads to Turkey at the outbreak of World War I to help in an American hospital. She falls in love with a dashing Turkish Muslim officer. Rare are the movies that address World War I in Turkey. It was OK. The plot was too much like a romance novel complete with a love triangle for some extra drama: the good Christian doctor is her perfect match, yet she falls for the bad boy who's too gorgeous to really be that bad. The lead actress was a little bland in her emotional interpretations. Even the narration she did was lacking luster as if she didn't get enough read aloud practice in grade school. ***

Sleight is about this young guy who was supposed to go to college on a scholarship but needed to  take care of his little sister after his parents die so he becomes a drug dealer. He also does magic tricks on the side and appears to have telekinetic powers of some kind. His situation escalates when his boss starts expecting him to carry a gun and go after the competition, chop off their hands, etc. He gets into real trouble and has to come up with $45K as payback, but doesn't have it. Interesting movie, but a little unrealistic. I think it would have been a better movie if he really had telekinetic powers and could smack the bad guys down with a flip of a finger...or something. **

Snatched is stupid humor as only Amy Schumer can do. It's about a woman who is incredibly useless in typical Schumer style: drinks too much, acts like an air head, repeat, repeat. The opening scenes are unusual, cleverly written and humorous, but after that it becomes cliché.  The alcoholic imbecile takes her mother (Goldie Hawn) to Ecuador on a non-refundable vacation after her boyfriend dumps her. Schumer meets a handsome man and she gets drunk, again, of course. Why do people think drunken behavior is funny? Eventually the girls get kidnapped by Ecuadorian terrorists and run barefoot through the jungle. Not sure why terrorists are funny either. It has a great cast. Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack are hilarious.  Goldie Hawn has had too much cosmetic surgery which is very wrong. Her face was like a plastic mask. What happened to her smile? I struggled to find some resemblance to a woman who used to be one of my favorite actresses. We really need Hollywood to age gracefully so there are role models. It's very disappointing. The movie was tolerable. Had some funny moments, but still stupid. **

Steve Jobs Creepy movie about a very creepy guy. Was he that much of an ass? I couldn't get through it. *

These Final Hours is an Australian apocalyptic movie about the final 12 hours of the world with a play by play of which continents have been annihilated. Our hero leaves his pregnant girlfriend to head to some end-of-the-world party at his best friend's house. His best friend's sister is his other non-pregnant skanky girlfriend. Along the way he comes across two ugly men hauling off a ten-year old girl who is screaming for her father.  He can't turn away and rescues her, continuing on his journey with her in tow hoping to find her father.  He stops along the way to check on relatives. It's was an interesting story about priorities and the crazy things people might do when the world is about to end. A little unrealistic at times and some of the scenes were a little irritating like when he shows up at this wild, orgy-, drug-fest of a party leaves the little girl alone with crazy people and decides to follow this idiot girlfriend for some mindless sex? Really? He doesn't have better things to think about? I guess that was the point...the end is coming in a matter of hours why not be mindless? Or at the beginning when he takes off in his 1965 (?) attention-getting bright orange Chevy (?) with people wandering the streets carrying guns and looting, cars in the middle of the street on fire, and he doesn't for a minute think driving the only car that is working maybe he should lock the car door or carry a weapon? He runs for too long from a guy attacking him with a machete...a machete? Why not bash the guy over the head and take it from him? And who the hell is on the radio giving an update? Nothing else is functioning but some guy on a radio knows what is happening in the rest of the world? The last scene with the little girl was written poorly and the writers were confusing her with an adult. She wouldn't have behaved that way. A little melodramatic, unrealistic, some of the performances were good with moments of not-so-good, but it kept me watching and wondering what I would do if I knew I only had 12 hours to live.  ***

Why Him? James Franco plays an incredibly immature, dysfunctional, wealthy tech developer who is in love with a much younger Stanford college student. The girlfriend invites her family (Bryan Cranston, Megan Mullally) to his estate to meet him over Christmas. He wants to ask her to marry him, but only with her father's permission. It was very stupid humor, but I think James Franco must have had a lot of fun playing that part. Wouldn't it be nice to be that rich and carefree? **