Tuesday, October 25, 2016

My Kind of Team Sports

I found a new sport for me...

Synchronized Walking

I have never heard of this! I'm not sure if I'm coordinated enough and I think I'd have to go to Japan to partake, but I think I could muster enough energy for some fancy walking.

Love it.

Monday, October 3, 2016


Well, that's an exaggeration for sure. I've been cutting my own hair now for as long as I've been chemically sensitive. I just can't tolerate those smelly, chemically saturated beauty parlors and the stinky toxic hair products they use. It would be nice to have stylish hair, but I make due with whatever happens in the privacy of my own bathroom. I find short hair is so much more manageable since it only needs to be washed once a week. However, one gets tired of the same old thing so in the past year and a half I started growing mine out. Then I cut some bangs. Then I tried some rollers. It's been fun. A whole new entertainment option.

My hair has been getting too long...and stringy, but for lack of options and the convenience of a ponytail, I left it alone...until now.

Cutting layers is difficult because if they aren't even, my hair goes wonky. A friend found a video on how to do a simple layered haircut and it was so amazing I thought I'd try it. The salon that did the video used four ponytails but since I had to maneuver around my own head, I figured two ponytails would be plenty to handle. This takes about fifteen minutes start to finish at the most. Easy and successful.

First, wet your hair thoroughly.

Second, gather two ponytails at the top of your head. Be sure to pull the hair as tight as possible for an even cut. Determine how short you want the top. Cut the ponytails off!! Check to see the ponytails match in length, remove the bands.

Voila! A layered haircut.

Seriously, fifteen minutes. Probably the fastest, easiest haircut I've ever done on myself. For those of you who have longer hair, there are all kinds of videos for a layered effect using the same ponytail technique.

Here is M&M Friseure Salon demonstration. It's rather fun to watch.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

September Movie Reviews

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

The Big Short is about the housing-banking economic collapse a few years ago. Its starts out with the narrator saying the reason the banks get away with so much is because they've rigged it with legal ease and jargon no one understands creating a brain fog that makes everyone not question. That's how I felt throughout the whole movie! Lots of fast talking financial vocabulary whizzing in one ear (through my mushy brain) and out the other, but even in my cognitive haze there was this overwhelming sense of dread and panic. The sleaze and fraud of our banks, our government, our corporations IS (present tense) disgusting. Performances were all excellent, especially Christian Bale and Steve Carrell. ***

Burnt is about a chef (Bradley Cooper) who screws up his life and the lives of everyone around him, comes back years later after a period of penance and rejuvenation with the goal of getting his life back on track and working toward three Michelin stars.  He has issues with perfection and trying to do everything alone which only serves to alienate everyone. Great story, great performances, beautiful food. ****

Demolition is about a man's grieving process after his wife dies in a car accident. He's not a normal griever (is anyone?). He begins by writing multiple, heart-felt letters to a vending machine company because he didn't get the candy bar he paid for at the hospital. Then he starts taking things apart. First, the refrigerator, then his office computer, his in-laws bathroom fixtures, and then he goes crazy on his house as he tries to tear down in order to build back up. A little slow, but the performances were great. I really like Jake Gyllenhaal. ***

Do I Sound Gay? was about the speech patterns of gay men. It was really interesting addressing gender roles while growing up, children with speech impediments, how tone and inflection are perceived, interviews with speech therapists and vocal coaches, and many examples of celebrities with gay-sounding voices including various role models for gay speech patterns, for instance, Disney villains (!). Fascinating. ****

The Driftless Area was an interesting story about a woman (Zooey DeChanel) who is accidently burnt to a crisp by a low-life arsonist (John Hawkes), she comes back as a ghost, and needs someone to find her killer and "restore balance". Hawkes has been in a lot of movies lately. He's a very unconventional movie star, awesome performances, and plays "sleazy-bad guy" really well. The plot is a little slow, but the story memorable. I thought about it for days. ***

Empire of the Sun is about the Japanese occupation of China in the 1940s and a British boy (Christian Bale) who is separated from his parents and survives the war in an internment camp. Not a good experience for anyone let alone a kid. Great performances, sets, costumes, everything. ****

Of Gods and Men is a French movie based on the true story of the French Cistercian monks at a monastery in Algeria in the 1990s. With the country harassed by Islamic terrorists, they are tormented, individually and collectively. Should they stay or leave? Staying would support the village in their time of need and maintain their religious mission to serve the poor and sick. Leaving would remove them from being used as pawns in the hands of the extremists and save their lives. After much deliberation, they decide to stay and the terrorists kidnap them in an attempt to negotiate the release of terrorist prisoners in France. Lots of LONG devotional Gregorian singing (with subtitles) and lots of excessively lengthy drawn out shots of nothing which made the movie a little boring. Neither of these features added to the plot so I'm not sure of the point other than adding time to an already long film. **

Good People with Kate Hudson and James Franco who are facing eviction on their apartment, foreclosure on the old run-down house they were remodeling and their downstairs tenant dies. While cleaning out his apartment, they find $200,000 stashed in the ceiling. Do they turn it in to the cops or keep it? They decide to hold on to it for a while to see if someone comes looking, but desperation tempts them to start spending....then the bad guys show up. And if you weren't really sure if they were bad guys or how bad they were, you get to watch one of them shove a pool ball down a guy's throat. Just for clarity.  Very exciting and suspenseful. I always figured if I found a stash of cash, I'd also keep it, but I think I'd wait MONTHS to spend it and even then only $20 every now and then! LOL! I mean in this scenario the bad guys come after the good people anyway and if they hadn't found the money they'd still be blamed and tortured for finding it so why not have some fun until then? ****

Grace of Monaco with Nicole Kidman. Who would have known she was so miserable? Maybe that's the princess's lot in life? The story takes place when DeGaulle is trying to tax Monaco to finance his war in Algiera and threatens to invade Monaco and depose the prince. (Tim Roth plays Rainier. I like him.) Lots of sleaziness behind the scenes - Prince Rainier's sister plots with DeGaulle so she can rule Monaco. The fairy tale doesn't sound so fun when one hears what really went on, but I've never heard any of this before. Maybe it's all Hollywood sensationalism? ***

The Hateful Eight  I love a good western, and I especially love a western that satirically pays homage to my favorite western The Magnificent Seven so I was curious. If you have ever seen a Tarantino film, clearly the man has anger issues that are expressed through his art, but he also has a fetish with  the 1960s so obvious in his credits and music. At first you smile and shake your head. Great tongue-in-cheek nostalgia with bright orange lettering, but ten minutes of credits is way too long and it counteracts the initial effect. Then we meet the characters. Tarantino never disappoints as they are always complex, well-developed, and just bizarre enough to be entertaining. The story begins with a bounty hunter, "The Hangman" (Kurt Russell, love him, don't see him often), who never kills his dead or alive quarry as he wants to see justice...and a hanging. He is gleefully transporting his very dirty, foul-mouthed prisoner (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who he punches in the face every time she starts spewing filth. Along the way he meets a former Union officer turned bounty hunter (Samuel L. Jackson) and  the town's new sheriff (Walton Goggins, or Boyd Crowder from Justified - love him). As the blizzard moves in (LOTS of snow), they take refuge in an inn of sorts called Minnie's Haberdashery where four men are staying, waiting out the storm. Things are suspicious to say the least. Minnie is missing. Are they who they say they are? It's three years after the war and half of this motley crew are Confederates and half are Yankees. Two are officers formerly on the same battlefield. All are guilty of heinous war crimes and no one has been brought to justice. All is fair in love and war. Then it all goes to hell in a hand basket. True to Tarantino, it's BLOODY. People don't just get shot in a Tarantino film. The blood gushes waterfalls and splatters magnificently covering the whole room. That's on a good day. The violence is surreal and exaggerated. This particular movie is more like a western horror mystery with flashbacks of Carrie and Nightmare on Elm Street. Only Tarantino... Fascinating story and characters, excellent performances and cast, and superb photography. There were, however, moments I was ready for it to be over because I just wasn't interested in getting to the end, and, of course, the violence is over-the-top gross. ***

Home Invasion was so scary! It's about this very rich, but likeable woman and her eleven-year old stepson. Husband is out of town constantly and they are home alone in their mansion. Bad people arrive, the woman's visiting friend volunteers to go outside and find out if they are lost since they aren't expected. While the homeowner watches the security monitor, they murder her. Rich lady runs for the front door, closes it just in time, turns on the security panic button, grabs the kid, runs through the mansion, and calls the home security company. The bad guys circumvent the 911 call to make her think she has called the police and spray paint the security cameras. They don't know there are hidden cameras all over the house. The security systems specialist (Jason Patric) can watch the monitors and tell her how to make her way around the house without being seen and he can pull some tricks too like turning on the music at full volume. Then the bad guys scramble the cell phone reception, then the power goes out, then the bridge to their house is blocked (another bad guy does that) and the woman and stepson are discovered. It's one thing after another. Performances were good. A thrilling and nerve wracking experience. Fun. ****

I Believe in Unicorns is about a young girl who falls for a bad boy. I'm guessing they are all around sixteen years old since her friend has a driver's license, but she looks about 12 years old, playful, sweet, loves toys, lick-on tattoos and unicorns. He's grungy and immature, crush-worthy and abusive. I remember swooning over bad boys. The art effects are really interesting. The opening sequences are awesome. Very intriguing, dark, and fascinating. ***

Jupiter Ascending I don't care for wild, fantasy-sci-fi. So you are probably wondering why I bothered with this movie? The premise was interesting and I thought the first part might be worth a look: girl working as a cleaning lady finds out she's the Queen of Earth. Bees love her. I had to see that. I wanted to see the disclosure scene where someone recognizes her superpowers or someone says, "Surprise! You are the Queen of Earth!" Unfortunately they failed miserably with the anticipation and the disclosure was a let-down. Her reaction was "hmm...".  Maybe it was just bad acting (Mila Kunis), but I was not impressed. The first ten minutes is a quick summary of her life from conception to birth. No great epiphany, in fact not a hint of why SHE is the Queen of Earth. Then it all escalates into a whole bunch of futuristic weirdness with a pointy-eared Channing Tatum (as if his name isn't strange enough). Eddie Redmayne does play an awesome, scary bad guy who whispers deeply which is exceptionally creepy yet cool. It was too complex and I was too confused to be able to keep track of the plot and what was supposed to be happening. I lasted about 20 minutes. *

Just Before I Go is about a guy who feels life is too hard and he's tired of fighting. His dad died when he was a kid, his seventh grade teacher bullied him, the school bully tortured him, and his wife just left him. He decides before he kills himself he has to make amends with people from his past. It's over-the-top goofy humor at times and very serious and thought-provoking other times with some great lines and LOL moments in between it all.  The brother is so politically wrong every time he opens his mouth he's priceless. "Fear thrives in emptiness." Nice quote. ***

Little Boy is about a young boy living in California who's father goes off to war (World War II). The boy is constantly teased by other kids because he is so small, but he starts believing he has special powers that will bring his father home. He gets inspiration from a comic book hero, the local Catholic priest, and a Japanese man. It was an interesting mix of magic, religion, and mythology. The kid is SO INCREDIBLY ADORABLE and the movie exceptionally sweet.  Excellent 1940s sets, costumes, great performances, LOL moments and tear jerking scenes. Rarely does one see a movie that addresses the racism toward the Japanese during World War II. Great movie. ****

Newsies I can't quite get used to seeing Christian Bale singing and dancing. I think the first movie I saw him in was American Psycho and for me that is Christian Bale - serious, dramatic, psychotic. This was a Disney musical although it was on Broadway for a while. It was good. It's like Oliver...a production filled with poverty-stricken little boys. Good story, great costumes, great dancing. ***

Not Another Happy Ending is about a newbie Scottish novelist who is signed with a publisher and they fall in love but neither realizes it so she conveniently gets writer's block so she can't finish her second novel because if she does their time together is over. It was goofy. The story was juvenile and the acting mediocre. Her clothes were amazingly ugly, but the British (and therefore, the Scottish) aren't known for their fashion sense. Nothing special and kind of boring. **

Our Idiot Brother is about a brain-dead hippie man-boy who doesn't ever think. He doesn't listen, never seems to know how to follow directions, says whatever he wants disclosing personal conversations, and acts like a retard all the time. Now, I know that's not a politically correct term, but it's used throughout the movie and it is the best description for him. He just never thinks. In the opening scene he's selling his organic produce at a market, a uniformed police officer asks him if he has any pot to sell and he sells it to him. He goes to jail, and his hippie girlfriend has replaced him with another brain dead loser so he goes home to live with mother and stay with his adult sisters. He creates all kinds of drama with his thoughtless big mouth and vacant stares. All star cast and great performances, but the ending fell flat. They all claimed to love him just the way he is, but this epiphany didn't ring true. He didn't do anything to earn it.  Oddly enough it wasn't over the top stupid humor although my review might make it sound so. If he wasn't so irritating, it might have been a really good movie. ***

The Perfect Guy is the worst case scenario of dating gone wrong. It's about a woman who breaks up with a long-time boyfriend because he won't marry her. She starts dating this guy who is gorgeous, charming and perfect in every way. She introduces him to all her friends, takes him home to meet the parents, shows him where she hides her spare house key, and then one night in an encounter at a gas station, he snaps and beats this stranger senseless. She realizes she doesn't know who he is and she's not really interested in finding out. She breaks up with him and he's not having it. Not one iota. He's a psychopath and he starts stalking her showing up at her work, calling her all day and night. Then he hacks her computer, cell phone, plants video cams in her house, gets her fired...and believe it or not, it escalates from there. Very scary. Some of it was idiotic. I mean if someone is stalking you, threatening you, do you not notice who's parked across the street watching your house? If you live in a house that has whole walls of windows, wouldn't you draw the curtains? And I'll never figure out why anyone would stand three feet in front of someone while pointing a gun without worrying they might grab it. Jeez. Oh well. It's Hollywood. That was an intensely fun ride. This is why I don't trust good looking men. I'm pretty convinced they are all psychopaths and we are blind to their craziness. LOL ****

To Save a Life is about a high school kid who leaves his best friend from grade school behind as he climbs the ladder of high-school coolness. The ex-friend is ostracized and bullied because of his limp, a limp he received from pushing his friend out of the path of a car and taking the hit himself. Feeling alone, he takes a gun to school and kills himself leaving the ex-friend wondering why he was such a self-centered douche bag and didn't do more to help him. Good story about personal responsibility and empathy for others. WAY, WAY too much God talk. I think it's too bad only the Christians can come up with these great messages for kids, but Christianity shouldn't be the requirement for being a good human being who is kind, caring, and responsible. Anyone can strive to be a good person. Bible-beating kids into believing they can't be good without being Christian is a bad message. ***

Veronica Guerin is about an Irish reporter (Cate Blanchett) who investigates the drug lords of Dublin. They shoot her, threaten to kidnap her son, beat her up and she keeps on harassing the bad guys. She far more courageous than I'd ever be and I'm not sure how she could justify the sacrifice of her life when she had a small child. They murder her and her murder motivates people to get off their asses and make some changes. Performances were outstanding and Cate's Irish accent was spectacular. Colin Farrell makes an appearance for about five minutes. I wonder if it was his first major motion picture? ****

Thursday, September 15, 2016

EMF/MCS Community!

There is a MCS/EMF-free community being planned by R. Chris Young who is founder/owner of EMF Experts, an EMF consultation services business. Here is the advertisement:
EMF-Free Community in White Mountains
Join us on our 40 – 120 Acres in NE Arizona.  Offering MCS / EI / EHS camping facilities (water, shower, toilets), a tiny homes 'neighborhood' in the trees, larger building lots for lease, and tracts of adjacent pristine EMF-quiet acreage available for purchase.   Great year round weather, within easy drive to low-EMF amenities (medical clinic, banks, stores etc).   In process and planned to launch 2016 or 2017. 
Now, I didn't know any place in Arizona was green so I'm skeptical. The photos on the website/blog look like some place in Montana. Is it really that green? It sounds too good to be true. He says he's been searching for the perfect spot for quite a while, touring the country and scouting every western state. The White Mountains of Arizona fit all the requirements. He wants people to get on the blog post, fill out the questionnaire, and he hopes to get enough people to present a list to the powers that be and have building codes circumvented so the dream community may begin. The email response says he's received loads of replies. Sounds so hopeful.

There is also a community naming contest. His ideas are Emfree Acres or Emfree Vistas. Hmmm...sounds like a rest home or a cemetery...not a good connotation. He's liking the Emfree bit. I think it sounds too much like a chemical corporation. Any ideas?

For more information and photos click HERE.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

I'm a Farmer...

My garden is doing wonderfully and it's harvest time!

The lettuce has been crazy. The early planting is now starting to bolt and seed, but I still have two other beds of perfect lettuce. Growing it in raised pallet containers made all the difference. NO BUGS! Not one bug. Now I got smart and placed diatomaceous earth along side the rows. This stuff is a natural bug repellent or killer. It is like tiny shards of glass - bugs walk through it and it kills them. Gets rid of those pesky potato bugs that love old wood (pallets). When the lettuce was young, I soaked the soil in rabbit manure tea. Loves the nitrogen. Perfect lettuce. This variety is called "Oak Leaf Lettuce."

My carrots are amazing. First year ever for good carrots! Again, deep raised beds, up off the ground away from critters and on the southern-exposed deck for maximum heat. I also drowned them in water everyday so they never dried out. Perfect. And so sweet. These were Yaya Carrots.

Peppers! First year ever for peppers. It's just not warm enough here unless one uses a greenhouse. But again, raised beds, up on the southern-exposed deck for maximum heat. Once the fruits were set I soaked the soil in rabbit manure tea. These are Anaheim Peppers:

These are Bell Peppers:

The squash are questionable. I did not used a trellis system to lift them off the ground because I was told they need the heat of the earth. Well, they are still small. Granted, I do know they are not in a location that gets sun all day. Pumpkins are small:

Delicatas are very small, but there is still time:

I used rabbit manure as I was told squash love it, but maybe it's too much nitrogen.

And then there are apples. I am overloaded with apples because I trimmed the branches last winter. So loaded the branches are bending, nearly snapping. I culled hundreds of apples at the beginning of the summer to remove some weight. The apples at the top of the tree I couldn't get to. Then once a week I poured buckets of rabbit manure tea at the base of the tree. MONSTER APPLES! And so sweet and juicy!

I go out every morning and pick up the windfalls, at least a bucket every day. I've been taking them to my friend's horses. During the night sometimes I can hear them fall as they hit the metal ladder. I've been picking apples every day, giving them away and trying to eat as many as possible. I don't know what to do with them all. If anyone visits, they take home a bag of apples. So beautiful. The birds have be munching on them, but very few bugs holes.

I think I'm finally getting this organic gardening right. It's a wonderful replacement for a social life. Plants are not irritating, disrespectful, or sociopathic. We get along great. Gardening keeps me moving, working, and breathing fresh air.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

August Movie Reviews

***** Excellent
****   Great
***     OK
**       So So
*         Blah

Aloha with Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone and Rachel McAdams was about people on Hawaii, military stuff and corporate private stuff and old love and new love. I don't know. Performances were good but the story made me crazy trying to follow the storyline and who is in who's pocket. I thought the very, very  end was wrong, totally unrealistic. Cooper is gorgeous.**

Beyond the Reach is about a young tracker who is hired to take a filthy rich, incredibly entitled business man (Michael Douglas) big-game hunting in the desert. By accident, or just stupidity, the rich guy kills an old timer who lives in the hills. He thinks this social faux pas would ruin his reputation so he tries to bribe the tracker. When that doesn't work he makes him strip to his undies and walk while he follows with his high tech waiting for him to collapse and die in the heat. It's gruesome, but this kid knows the desert. He knows where all the caves and hideouts are. It's very tense and suspenseful. Great role for Douglas who is really good at portraying sleazy and arrogant. I think I would have liked a different ending, but I enjoy vengeful payback and the tracker is just too saintly. Great photography and performances. ****

Carol is about lesbian love in the 1950s. Carol (Cate Blanchett) is going through a divorce and her husband isn't a happy man. He files for sole custody of their little girl on moral grounds unless she comes back to him. In the meantime Carol falls in love with Teresse (Rooney Mara). The costumes, cars, music, and sets are magnificent. Excellent performances. The photography is beautiful, but the story is a little melodramatic and slow. ***

Courageous was about a group of men who get together and make a resolution to be outstanding fathers and role models after one in their group loses his nine year old daughter in a car accident. It was a great story. If all dads signed and lived by such a resolution to be honest, loving, caring, respectful, and protective just think how much society would improve. Some of the performances were really good, others really bad and there was way, way, way too much superstitious God talk for me, lots of praying to God and expecting God to change everything which I find ridiculous. It was still a good story with a great message. I think men could step up to the plate without relying on a religious crutch. ***

Drive was about a movie stunt driver/mechanic/race car driver by day/get-away car driver by night (Ryan Gosling) who falls in love with the neighbor lady. When her husband gets out of prison and he owes bad guys protection money, Ryan offers to help get him out of the mess by driving the get-away car. It all goes wrong because he was bamboozled. He's kind of a superhero in a sociopathic kind of way, but I liked the character. There was something honorable in all that revenge. An honorable sociopath. HA! What will Hollywood think of next? ***

50 First Dates is about a guy (Adam Sandler) who meets a girl (Drew Barrymore) who has a brain injury from a car accident. She wakes up every morning with no short term memory and no memory of the previous day so he has to start over every day, meeting her, and getting her to like him. It's very sweet and made me want to move to Hawaii, but you really need to like Adam Sandler's stupid humor, which I don't. However, this story has less stupid and more sweetness which made it tolerable. ***

The Forger John Travolta plays an art forger who gets out of prison early by hitting up the bad guy to bribe a judge so he can spend time with his dying fifteen year old son. (Art and cancer...what is not to like about this????)  As payment for the $50K debt owed for the bribe, he must forge a Monet and steal the original out of the museum so the sleazebag can pay his debt to some mafia boss. It was good, very complex with lots of human relations mixed with crime and intrigue. ***

From Time to Time is about a boy in England just as World War II is ending. His father is missing in action and his mother is in London trying to find his father.  He is sent to live with his formerly rich grandmother (Maggie Smith) who lives in this SPECTACULAR old estate with all kinds of antiques and dust and towers overgrown with weeds. Such a dream. Unfortunately, she is about to lose it all. He spends a lot of time searching the rooms, spiral staircases, listening to old family stories, and seeing GHOSTS! It's an outstanding story with outstanding photography with misty atmosphere and beautiful color. Awesome. *****

The Girl on the Train was dark and strange and too much philosophical babble about love and relationships. The babble, although beautifully written,  made my head hurt. For some reason I kept with it even when the video had technical problems. So frustrating.  **

Hello, My Name is Doris  I love Sally Field and this is a great role for her. Who said there are no roles for older women in Hollywood? We are seeing lots of baby boomer movies featuring older quirky female characters. This one is about an older woman who lives with her mother in a huge house filled with hoarded junk. She's odd to say the least: crazy mismatched clothes, drenched in jewelry, lots of  make-up and just slightly left to normally in terms of personality and socialization. After her mother dies, she meets a younger coworker (Max Greenfield) and fantasizes about him all the time. She stalks him which is creepy. She misinterprets his friendship as something more and he misinterprets their friendship as...well, friendship.  It was weird, and sad, and at times uncomfortable. The commentary on how older people are perceived was interesting and the message was if you are a little strange, alternative rock is where you belong. Performances were great, but there was something melancholy  and depressing that made it not as entertaining as it could have been. **

The Ides of March is a movie about a presidential primary with Ryan Gosling as an ambitious, idealistic campaign worker and George Clooney as the presidential hopeful.  The politician, of course, looks really honorable in the media as if he's the perfect candidate, but there's lots of sleazy behavior going on behind the scenes. Ryan tries to prevent a scandal from breaking and everything takes a turn for the worst with the poor guy getting backstabbed by his own people. Great performances. ***

Into the Storm is an action movie about tornadoes - not just one tornado but six at once and then the next front comes in and two GINORMOUS tornadoes converge into the monster of tornadoes. The special effects were outstanding. The performances weren't so good, in fact at times rather awful, but it was still fun. ****

I Remember You was about a man who goes for a midnight swim, gets slapped around by a wave and crashes his head against a pier. A woman jumps off the pier and saves him. He comes out of it with some kind of brain injury which makes him sensitive to light and sound and gets the weird impression he knows her somehow. She develops a really serious fear of water. It was interesting, but the overkill artsy effects were a bit irritating. The characters were odd too, kind of brain dead but I think that was for effect. **

Jane Got a Gun That is the most idiotic title I could ever imagine for this movie. It rings of sexism and it trivializes an outstanding Western-themed story. The very complicated plot is about a Southern woman (Natalie Portman) during the Civil War who escapes to the Wild West. That's the summary. I'll try not to give too much away. It begins with Jane living in the middle of New Mexico nowhere with her husband who stumbles home after being shot multiple times. Who shot him? Why? Why are they coming after the couple?  Lots of mystery keeps viewers intrigued throughout the movie. I like a movie that engages your brain by constantly slipping in hints that make you question what you don't know. There is a LOT of background the viewer doesn't know that is funneled into the story one tiny detail at  time. Love it. Even with the flashbacks. Time travel is so often disruptive and confusing but in this case it's used perfectly. Natalie is an exceptional weeper - gut-wrenching tears of misery that had me sobbing right along with her. Lots of human relationship and survival themes. Outstanding performances. Natalie's costumes are exceptional. I want that coat! And the hat! Her character is KICK ASS. The New Mexican Wild West dirt and dust are outstanding especially all over her outfits. Outstanding movie. God, I love a good Western! Stupid title. It sounds like a title for a first-grader primer and the fact she already had a gun makes it even more nonsensical. I mean with a title like that you'd think the whole plot was about getting her a gun and figuring out how to use it! *****

King Jack was about one week in the summer of a fifteen-year old boy who keeps having run-ins with an older bully and his side kicks. The bully used to be bullied by the kid's older brother who is an abusive ass. His twelve year old cousin stays with him over the weekend and they get into all kinds of mess. The performances were really good. You'd think this would be a silly coming-of-age story, but it was a rather dark and serious expose on teenage boys. I think they should have named it "The Secret Life of Bullied Teenage Boys Who Have Lousy Parents and Abusive Brothers". ***

Laggies is about an almost thirty year old directionless woman (Keira Knightley) who has the same group of friends from high school, the same high school boyfriend, hangs out at her parents' house, and works for her dad. She never grew up. She meets some teenagers and starts hanging out with one of the girls, even moving in with her and her dad to escape her life. It was a little slow, almost boring, but not very realistic. What thirty year old woman would be allowed to move in with a teenager. That screams PEDOPHILE.  I kept getting up to do things without pausing the DVD. That's a sign. **

Life after Beth is a comedy zombie movie. I think you have to be stoned to really appreciate it, but the performances were outstanding.  In this rendition, zombies are soothed with smooth jazz. LOL **

Life of Crime I don't get the title. I wish people would take the time to select better titles for movies. This one takes place in the 1970s (great costumes) and is about two guys and a Nazi pervert who kidnap a wealthy man's (Tim Robbins) wife  (Jennifer Aniston). The husband is a sleazeball who has a secret bank account from all his sleazy real estate dealings and he treats his wife like garbage. She just puts up with it. He leaves for the Bahamas (?) to meet with his mistress but before he leaves he sends his wife divorce papers. The bumbling kidnappers demand a million bucks if he wants to see his wife again...well, he doesn't want to see her again. I thought this sounded like a comedy in the previews, but it wasn't. Fortunately, it was a great story with great performances. ***

Man Up was a romantic comedy with Simon Pegg (I love him) who you'd never think of as a romantic lead but he's so charming and sweet and funny it makes him irresistible. It was a great love story, boy meets girl accidentally, they are perfect for each other then everything goes wrong. It could have been another love story cliche, but it was a refreshing twist on a typical theme. ****

The Mighty Macs was a feel-good story about women's college basketball at a Catholic college. I thought it would be more interesting than the typical feel-good men's sports stories, but it was very predictable. Close to boring. **

Obvious Child is about a stand-up comic who's boyfriend dumps her and confesses he has been sleeping with her friend. Lots of drinking, and whiny babbling, and boredom. *

The Perfect Family was about an exceptionally religious housewife who is nominated to be the Catholic Woman of the Year and needs to go through a vetting process to confirm she is worthy. It had the makings of a great comedy. One soon discovers her so-called perfect family includes an alcoholic husband, a cheating son, and a lesbian daughter, and even that had comedic potential. Unfortunately, it failed miserably as a comedy and was so incredibly boring it even failed as a drama. Most of the movie is about her lack of acceptance for her lesbian daughter very much like the other movie I watched a few months ago Jennie's Wedding. Lesbians are very popular movie themes these days. The very, very, very bad performances made it painful to watch. Kathleen Turner looks, acts and speaks like she's uncomfortable in her own body. She slurs her words, hesitates before every line as if she doesn't quite know what she should be doing, and her movements are unstable. Is she drunk????  The whole movie was painfully uncomfortable. *

Shadowland with Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes is about an Australia couple living in the outback. Their two rebellious, unhappy kids disappear one night.  Neither of them liked living there, and I'm not sure why everyone thought they'd be stupid enough to just walk across a desert, but kids aren't always smart so I guess it's not so unreasonable. Lots of family dysfunction and drama. Such bleak landscape with hellish temperatures. I don't know how anyone could actually live in such a community. It looks like Snowflake, AZ. Strange story. Great photography and performances, but didn't have much entertainment value. ***

She's Funny That Way was a very bizarre, slapstick-ish-like 1930s comedy about a group of people in New York who all intertwine through each other's lives. It was so weird at first I thought it was a Woody Allen movie. I hate Woody Allen. Some of the characters were really original - like Jennifer Aniston as an incredibly messed up psychiatrist. She kept screaming at her patients and saying what she wanted to them which I'm sure is every psychiatrist's dream. Or she'd talk at length about her clients' personal problems and saying "But I can't talk about my clients."  It was a great role for her. ***

The Shunning was about a young Amish girl who's childhood love left the community (although they don't make it clear how until later), and at twenty years old she's being married off to the community bishop so he'll have a wife and mother for his two children. She still has her boyfriend's guitar and in secret she plays it, but when she's caught she has to confess her sin and promise not to divulge in the "English ways" ever again. Then a woman shows up in the community and she finds out she was adopted. It was actually really good, but I think they ended it too soon. I suppose that was a creative decision, but I'd prefer some heart-felt closure. Heck, it was a Hallmark movie so that should have been expected. ****

The Skeleton Twins starred Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader as messed up twins who's father killed himself when they were 14 years old. It's 15 years later and as she's standing in the bathroom ready to take a handful of pills she gets a call from a hospital the other side of the country that her brother just tried to kill himself. They haven't seen each other in ten years and he moves in with his sister and her husband. Great human drama with some really outstanding lines. When I see the names Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader I can't help but expect stupid comedy. I'm glad they are doing drama. They are both surprisingly talented. I think it's going to take a long, long time to stop humming the song "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now." That was a great scene. ***

Some Kind of Beautiful was a weird, predictable Hollywood-driven love story about a college professor (Pierce Brosnan) who gets his student-girl friend (Jessica Alba) pregnant, she leaves him for another man, he falls in love with her sister (Selma Hayek), and gets deported. Hmmm...it was OK. Nothing special. Oh, how nice it would to be live on the beach in Los Angeles in that gorgeous house. ***

Soul Surfer is the story of Bethany Hamilton, professional surfer, who was attacked by a shark, lost her arm, and continued surfing. It was a great story. Just when I started thinking here's a girl with a perfect family, who lives on a perfect beach in Hawaii, spends every perfect day lounging on beaches and surfing, is perfectly beautiful, perfectly healthy even without an arm, has lots of perfect friends, perfect, perfect, perfect...Yeah, this horrible thing happens to her, but she still has a life most people in the whole world dream of so it's kind of hard to feel sorry for her. Then she goes to Thailand after the tsunami and she realizes everything I've been thinking! Great redemption. Lots of God talk, but I guess I should expect this if I watch a religious-themed movie. Carrie Underwood needs to stop trying to act. Stick with singing, honey. ***

Tammy features a character who is the quintessential all-American white trailer trash woman (Melissa McCarthy) who is shockingly stupid. She loses her job, finds her husband cheating on her, runs away with her alcoholic grandmother, robs a fast food restaurant to get her grandmother out of jail, and goes to jail for robbing the restaurant. Amazingly enough, it has an all-star cast: Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates, Dan Aykroyd, Gary Cole, Allison Janey, Toni Collette, and Sandra Oh. It is just slightly better than stupid humor so I'm a little perplexed why all these celebrities are in it. Lots of commentary on growing old, as in "I can do that [even though it's illegal]!  I'm old, so it doesn't matter!" I'm not quite sure how the main character got so trailer-trashy with such middle-class, competent parents, but it's not for me to question Hollywood.  Melissa McCarthy sure is making a lot of money these days for not being the typical actress. ***

What We Did on Our Holiday I had no idea what this movie was about. I saw the preview and it looked like a typical comedy about an English family with adorable yet pretentious kids on vacation and some good punch lines. It has much more depth than the snippet suggests.  It is about a couple with three children and in the middle of a nasty divorce they drive to Scotland to visit the husband's dysfunctional family for the grandfather's 75th birthday bash. They fight the whole time. The neurotic oldest child is convinced her parents are compulsive liars (they are) and needs to write everything down so she can keep the lies straight. The grandfather is a charming Scottish sage-like Viking who imparts his wisdom on the youngsters while he himself contemplates the value of a life well lived. Of course, kids will be kids and it's impossible  for them to keep secrets no matter how hard they try even after they've been sternly instructed not to tell anyone divorce details. At one point while the couple is overheard fighting the little boy says as a matter of fact, "They are fine. And they don't live in different houses, by the way."  And that's only the beginning of the movie. With every turn it gets better and better. I don't want to divulge too much. It takes such a delicious and unexpected turn I was thankful the preview made me think it might be tolerable. The dialogue is awesome with some outstanding LOL moments and perfect comedic timing, but it's less comedy and more human relations. Very sweet. I LOVED it, and then I watched it again. Can I move to Scotland now? *****

While We're Young is about a 40-something couple (Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts) who's friends are all having kids so they have nothing in common with them. They seem to be in a rut until they meet a young, 20-something couple (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried) and all of life's possibilities have returned for the taking. It's definitely an interesting perspective on aging. Spot on about the younger generation. ***

Zookeeper was a goofy movie about a geeky zookeeper in love with the wrong woman and the talking zoo animals who help him snag her. The first half was kind of sweet and seemed to have potential (aside from the immature humor), but the second half was incredibly lame with the talking gorilla. And unfortunately I kept thinking about that little boy who dropped himself into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo a few months ago. Watching the video of this tiny little boy stare up at a gorilla that's about to kill him was horrifying. Then the gorilla was killed to save him which was just as horrifying. Did the little boy see this movie before his visit to the zoo and thought that would be a good idea? Hmmm...even though children would love the story and the goofy humor, I think it gives them an unrealistic concept of wild animals. No, animals can't talk even in secret. They won't ride around in cars with you nor go out drinking and be your best friend. And if you fall into their cage, they will probably eat you and cause you a lot of pain while they do the deed. Besides zoos are inhumane and shouldn't be in existence. What was with the late 1970s soundtrack? Hmmm...*

Good god, I watch a lot of DVDs!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)

Tomatoes are evil. That's actually the name of a website that gave me a chuckle when I discovered it years ago. If I eat too many tomatoes or too often I experience excruciating pain from the very core of my bones. Because so many autoimmune patients are sensitive to nightshades, I always wondered if my reactions were because it was a nightshade. Hmmm...but I don't react to peppers or potatoes so it didn't quite ring true.

A friend of mine recently told me she has trouble with MSG. I remember thinking, Doesn't everyone? Since the 1970s the health industry has been warning consumers of its toxicity. Monosodium glutamate was created by a Japanese chemist to be used as a flavor enhancer. It is one of those pervasive additives that is found in nearly every processed food, but most often used in Chinese restaurant foods. Years ago one could buy a shake container of MCS called "Accent" to use like salt or pepper on your meats. Do they still sell Accent?

The reactions people get from eating MSG-laced food range from headaches, asthma, facial burning, nausea, heart palpitations, chest pain, drowsiness, and weakness. My friend's personal reactions include restless leg syndrome (or what I like to call a sleepless night in hell), jello brain, dizziness, depression, exhaustion, crying episodes, headaches, and electrical shocks. These are symptoms common to chemical poisoning.

This is called Chinese Restaurant Syndrome due to the association of symptoms after eating Chinese food. Conventional medicine information found online makes it sound psychosomatic and a few articles blame these negative reactions on anti-Asian racism! Wow. The incompetence and ignorance of the medical industry never cease to shock me. The FDA has deemed MSG as GRAS or generally recognized as safe. Of course. I wonder which chemical company is paying the FDA to sweep it all under the rug. Probably whoever produced Accent.

Then there are the ingredients with hidden MSG such as gelatin, whey protein, seasonings, corn syrup, yeast foods, soy proteins, natural flavors, vinegar, rice syrup, enzymes, citric acid, carrageenan, broth, and guar gum to name just a few. The full list may be found HERE.

What I did not know is glutamic acid is naturally found in whole, non-processed foods and could produce the same symptoms if those foods are eaten in quantity or if the person is sensitive. The foods highest in natural glutamate are: cheese, soy sauce, walnuts, TOMATOES, meats, milk and milk products, peas, broccoli, mushrooms, and bone broth.


Wow. I have been repulsed by cheese, soy, and walnuts all my life so I have rarely eaten these things. Does my body know something I don't? It usually does. I ate tomatoes not because I loved them, but because they were supposed to be good for a body. When I finally connected the pain to tomatoes, I stopped immediately.

And then there is bone broth...well, if you've read my posts on the war with bone broth when I was doing everything possible to suck it up and drink it down, you already know how I feel about it. It seems the longer one simmers the bone broth, the more glutamate it produces. Who would have known?

For anyone who accidentally overdoses on MSG, my friend's quick remedy is to mix 1/2 to one teaspoon of cream of tartar in 8 ounces of water and drink it down. It's supposed to work, but I read you can clean metals with cream of tartar so I would be hesitant.

My suggestion for anyone with MCS...stay far away from MSG. If you are eating clean, wholesome, non-processed foods or following the Paleo diet, this will be easy. If you have food or chemical sensitivities, avoid naturally high-glutamate foods in quantity and be aware of your reactions.

**Yeah, someone gave me some tomato plants for my garden. I sure love the smell. I've been giving the beautiful fruits away to neighbors.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Mystery Plant

Does anyone know what this plant is?

I planted what I thought was "Sweet Basil" in this pallet garden and when these odd plants came up I thought they were weeds. They sort of look like lilies. It's NOT basil. Initially I wondered if the soil packages I filled the pallet garden with had some rogue seeds mixed in, but the plants are coming up in pretty little rows! Then I thought it was a variation of basil as sometimes the Thai Basil has pointy leaves, but the leaves don't smell. After much deliberation I decided to eat a leaf. I know that's a little dangerous, but I didn't swallow, only chewed. It's definitely not basil, but it started to burn. So I'm at a loss, but I stopped weeding them out because I'm curious.

They were planted around May and they are only three inches tall so slow growing. This makes me think they are perennials of some kind.

Most of the plants have two stems. The plant below is mixed in with my prize lettuce. When the basil didn't come up I planted lettuce in it's place. This plant is a little larger than the others with three stems. I'm guessing it likes shade? Hmmm...

I love a good mystery. Gardening is always so rewarding.

Any ideas?

Monday, August 15, 2016

Twelve Foods a Human Should Never Eat

I just discovered Peter Glidden a naturopath who hates conventional, allopathic doctors. I love listening to his videos. He's very validating. I like knowing there are people out there who think just like me and detest the games of orange cones. He says things like, "The health care is in place to promote the sale of pharmaceuticals" and "If you are suffering, you don't have a bad gene, you have a bad doctor." His website is filled with vlogs on every subject imaginable and he's not shy about giving his opinion. His frankness provides many LOL moments. Under the tab "Learn" he talks about the Twelve Bad Foods. In summary here they are:

1.   Wheat (gluten)
2.   Barley (gluten)
3.   Rye (gluten)
4.   Oats (gluten)
5.   Oil in a Bottle
6.   Fried Food 
7.   Red Meat Cooked Well Done
8.   Potato Skins Baked/Cooked Well Done
9.   Carbonated Beverages with Meals
10. Soy
11. Corn

Most of his warnings have to do with carcinogens and he goes into great detail on how these individual items cause cancer. He has another video on the lunacy of conventional cancer treatments with some interesting facts on their lack of effectiveness along with the commission doctors get for prescribing them.

Love this guy!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Lotsa Lettuce

When I started this lettuce last spring nothing happened. I waited. Nothing. So I kept re-planting seeds about once a month in various parts of my yard. I have three pallet gardens, one ground bed and one planter. I now have lettuce coming out my ears! And it's beautiful. Feast your eyes...

I think I'll enter it in the county fair.

I also planted the basil about four times before it came up. See it to the left in the photo below? It's hardly an inch high. Usually by this time it's been cultivated three or four times. We've had a cool summer so I'm blaming all this on the weather.

So glad I love salad!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Bouncin' and Behavin'

It would take too long to list all the toxic ingredients found in hair gel or mousse besides the stink one must suffer all day until one shampoos out all the chemicals would be intolerable. I've always read egg whites are good for this and I once heard punk rockers used egg whites when they wanted their long tresses to stand straight up.

I've been growing my hair out for something new, but it's not always easy to manage. Yes, short hair is so much easier! I bought some rollers...remember those? Big, spikey rollers in hopes of smoothing the frizz and taming the wave. It took some getting use to as doing a "set" is definitely a learned skill. It worked great once I got the hang of it, but the body and bounce would go flat by the second day. In the "old days" one would use hairspray and that's not going to happen. So I decided to try egg whites. Here's what I did:

Take an egg and separate the yolk, placing the white in a bowl. Whip it up until it forms stiff peaks like meringue (think lemon meringue pie, OH!)

Wash your hair. Towel dry it. Using a blow dryer, dry it more but not completely. One at a time comb pieces of your hair into manageable parts, dip your fingers in the meringue, coat the strands, roll the rollers.

Let it dry. It takes a couple hours if you use a blow dryer every now and then to help it along.

Bouncin' and behavin'. Without hairspray it only lasts about three days, but the fullness is much better. It does make it a little hard to brush as it tangles easily. The meringue lasts about two weeks in the refridgerator.

The things I do for entertainment!!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Menu Samples for the Paleo/Hashimoto's Diet

Every now and then someone asks me what I eat and since this changes from time to time depending on what I've added or restricted in my diet, I thought I'd update.

Below are lists of meals. All food items are organic, healthy, and natural with meats grass-fed or wild-caught. There is no such thing as a specific breakfast, lunch, or dinner dish. I eat whatever I eat whenever it feels right. These meals are in order of most often eaten, followed by snacks, treats/cheats, and drinks.


Mixed Salad with Lettuce, Avocado, Carrots, Zucchini, Sweet Peas, Basil, Red Peppers, and Orange/Lemon Juice Dressing.

Hamburger Patty with Jalapeno Peppers
Original Sauerkraut
Spicy Garlic Sauerkraut
Olives (sometimes)

Baked Cod or Salmon *
Broccoli or Carrots or Peas or Mixed Vegetables

Baked Chicken with Tarragon and Olive Oil
Delicate Squash or Olive Oil-Fried Zucchini

Baked Chicken with Beans, Potatoes (sometimes), Garlic, Olive Oil, Lemons

Chicken with Broccoli, Beans, Red Peppers, Onions, Garlic, Basil, Coconut Milk, Chile Flakes *

Pot Roast with Carrots, Onions, Garlic, and Celery
Delicata Squash

Chicken Soup with Carrots, Celery, Garlic, and Onions

Sauteed Prawns with Onions, Red Peppers, Basil, Garlic and Coconut Milk *

Hamburger with Red Peppers, Onions, Jalapeno Peppers, Garlic, Zucchini, Cilantro, Oregano, Cumin, Chili Flakes, and Cayenne Pepper

Salmon Salad with Olives, Basil, Garlic, Canola Mayonnaise, Green Onions, Avocados and Lettuce

Chicken Salad with Chicken, Celery, Onions, and Canola Mayonnaise on Lettuce

* About once a month I eat rice with one of these meals.


Almond Butter
Blackberries (in season only)
Raspberries (in season only)
Plums (rarely, in season only)
Apricots (rarely, in season only)
Oranges (rarely)
Fresh Figs (rarely, in season only)


Apple Crisp (Apples, Lemon Zest, Almonds, Coconut, Coconut Flour, Butter, Vanilla)
Blueberry Crisp (Blueberries, Lemon Zest, Almonds, Coconut, Coconut Flour, Butter, Vanilla)
Unsweetened Carob Chips (trying desperately to break this habit)
Yogurt (currently trying to replace carob with yogurt)
Corn Tortilla Chips (rarely)
Popcorn (rarely)
Watermelon (rarely)


Peppermint Tea
Fresh Lemonade

Sunday, July 31, 2016

July Movie Reviews

***** Excellent
****   Great
***     OK
**       So So
*         Blah

American Sniper is about Chris Kyle, Navy Seal Sniper. I've avoided this movie for a while due to the violence. There is no way I could ever be in a war. Granted, the people he had to shoot were trying to kill American soldiers, but I know I'd be a basket case in such a situation. So sad he survived four tours to be killed by a veteran right on American soil. The injustice is mind boggling. Excellent story, excellent performances. Initially I gave it four stars until I had nightmares all night. ***

Concussion is based on a true story about the medical studies on the effects of repeated head trauma from playing football. I've never liked football. It's violent and mindless. Schools spend mega amounts of money and energy on what is no longer an extra-curricular activity. It takes priority over learning and people wonder why our education system has gone downhill. It's less a game or past time as it is an obsession. With these new medical understandings and publicity on the very real health risks of the game, why there hasn't been a mass exodus? Other than the mass exodus of football players killing themselves. The NFL corporate sleazes have known about the risks and have covered it up for years.  After reading about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the movie looked interesting and I added it to my list. Then Jada Pinkett Smith threw a tantrum about how husband Will deserved to be Oscar nominated for his performance just because he's black.  I crossed the movie off my list. The DVD was sitting all alone on the library shelf looking neglected waiting patiently to be checked out. I wonder how many people were turned away from the movie because of Jada's rant of entitlement. Will did a great job. Great accent. Without the accent I don't think his performance was special in anyway, but it was good. Valuable story. Too bad no one cares as they are all too busy watching football. ***

Diana When I first saw this on the shelf, I thought it was a general biographical documentary. Instead it was a Hollywood movie about the last three years of Princess Diana's life and her love affair with a Pakistani heart surgeon. It stars Naomi Watts. Was she really the best they could get to play the part? Not that she's a bad actress and I think she really tried, but I couldn't quite associate her with Diana at all. I'm racking my brain trying to think of an actress who would be better but I'm at a loss so maybe she was the best choice? Her dried, fried, over bleach blonde hair with black roots drove me nuts. It was more like Marilyn Monroe than Diana and Diana had a shyness that Naomi failed at capturing. Not to say she didn't try. I can't imagine having that lifestyle though...zipping around in convertibles, lounging on yachts, living in castles, and never worrying about money. Kind of hard to feel sorry for her. It made her complaints about loneliness seem immature. **

Divine Access is about a man (Billy Burke) who after his father left, his mother became religiously experimental dragging her son along with her from commune to commune. His friend runs a cable network with a religious show that airs at 2am called Divine Access. He asks him to be a part of a panel, then host his own show, then go on the road for a lecture tour. He ends up with a following camped out on his front lawn. I love Billy Burke. The soundtrack is great and the religious perspective is excellent. ****

Eye in the Sky was about the British target of a Somalian-Kenyan terrorist group that had alluded the military for six years. They are found using all kinds of really cool spy gadgets, their identities confirmed, and they are watched as they are placing suicide vests on two of their recruits. Just as the order is given to alienate them with a bomb from the above drone, a little girl brings a basket of bread to sell at the corner of the building. Do they accept the collateral damage of one sweet, innocent little girl (they show her throughout the movie so we become very attached to her sweetness) in payment for the estimated 80 or so men, women and children they will save from the suicide bomb? It takes about 30 minutes of checking with every politician in Britain and the USA to find out if it legally complies, how it affects propaganda, and military/political protocols, all the while everyone is hoping she'll sell all her bread and leave before the missile is engaged. Shit it was nerve wracking. ****

5 to 7 is about a young writer in New York who meets an older, married French woman and they began an affair. Extra marital affairs are an expectation in French culture. However, there are rules to the game. It was interesting and the ending very bittersweet and touching. ***

Footloose (2011) with Julianne Hough is the updated version. Same script with just a few story modifications. Same soundtrack except they countrified the songs and added some country-western dancing along with contemporary dance. It was good. I don't know if it had the original excitement of the first one with Kevin Bacon since it was a remake, but it was good. ***

Fourth Man Out is about four macho, bearded friends who have known each other all their lives. One comes out as gay while the other three guys try to figure out how to deal with it. For instance, after years of forcing their friend to go to strip clubs, they decide to take him to a gay dance club. It was contrived and often immature, but at times cute and sweet with some funny moments. ***

Goodbye World is a post-cyber-apocalyptic movie about a computer virus that wipes out technology via cell phones. There is a survivalist-type, 20-something family living up in the mountains of Northern California, off-grid and self-sustaining. All their friends come stay with them while motorcycle gangs and army thugs are terrorizing the countryside. The human relations aspect was somewhat entertaining when all their licentious secrets are revealed and the performances were good, but I kept waiting for them to actually do something to protect themselves and they never did. Their implied compliance was irritating. "Sure, take all our supplies! We don't like it but there is nothing we can do about it." That bothered me. Maybe I was expecting a typical Hollywood plot, but it just felt flat and left me with a feeling of incompletion. ***

The Heart of the Sea  Why didn't they just call it Moby Dick?? Excellent sets and special effects, great performances, loved the whale. Very scary. Whaling is not for the weak at heart.  Yet there was something very sad about those heartless men killing mommy whales with their babies swimming by their sides. I doubt if the 19th century book had any kind of an ecological theme, but it was obvious here. Or maybe that's just my modern day environmental leanings? And perhaps that's why they didn't call it Moby Dick. Yep, the title makes perfect sense now.  Such magnificent creatures. It made one want to root for the whale. ****

Hugo was a charming, whimsical, artsy, surreal, beautiful film about a little boy who's clock-maker father dies and he goes to live in the clock at the train station in Paris. This takes place after WWI. The sets, costumes, music and cast of characters are delightful. Asa Butterfield with the beautiful blue eyes plays the kid. It was sweet and magical, although it felt a little slow and I wanted more of a heart-felt connection between the characters. I realize that would have been the typical expectation, but the real reason behind the weirdness was really boring and unrealistic. It didn't make for much of a climax. Poor choice for a title. You'd think someone would have thought of something more clever and fitting which might have helped ticket sales. ***

The Judge was about a city-slicker attorney (Robert Downey, Jr.) who goes home for his mother's funeral which requires facing a ill-tempered, ex-alcoholic father he has never really liked and hasn't seen in twenty years.  His father (Robert Duvall), is the town judge, and after the funeral runs over and kills one of the white trailer trash ex-cons he helped put away. Excellent human relations and plot entanglements. Billy Bob Thornton plays the prosecuting attorney. I've seen him in a number of movies lately and with each movie he gets better and better. And Robert Downey, Jr was superb....he used to be such a loser. So glad he pulled himself out of the gutter and is doing so well. Excellent movie. ****

Just Peck is coming-of-age story about a sophomore boy who's exceptionally geeky and awkward. He is kicked out of band and is forced, by his MIT employed, contract-signing, parenting theory-driven parents, to join the science club and become a "science fairy" much to his horror. He has a crush on a tall, beautiful blonde girl and she inspires his science project. The anticipation of the science project presentation is delightful. Unusually smart for a coming-of-age type plot with serious themes that were surprising. Great cast and great performances. ****

A Little Bit of Heaven I saw this on the movie list starring Kate Hudson and it looked like a typical mushy love story with a cliché plot. Blah.  I whizzed past it on the list for a while before I decided to read the plot. Nope. It was an awesome film about life and relationships and, my favorite, death. Girl who has everything finds out she's dying from colon cancer. I loved her visits with God and the very end was excellent leaving one uplifted. It was perfect when she asked the doctor what causes colon cancer and he says no one knows - she replies with, "Of course you don't. Why would you figure it out and put yourself out of a job?" LOL !!!!! All star cast of great actors. It was everything that other best friend movie I watched a couple months ago was not...****

Match is about a ballet teacher who is visited by a couple on the pretext the woman is writing her dissertation on the history of dance. It's all bogus and later during the interview he finds out why they are really there. I bet this was a play at one time. With only three characters the simplicity was refreshing and the plot beautifully developed. It would do well on a stage. Patrick Stewart was exceptional and the ending was delightful emotional in an unexpected way. ****

Mockingjay, Part 2 is the second part of the third part of the Hunger Games trilogy with our hero Katniss Everdeen taking down the Capitol dictatorship. If you haven't read the books, I highly recommend them. It took so long to get this last movie I nearly forgot every detail of the story. Great ending. Excellent everything. ****

Moneyball is with Brad Pitt, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Jonah Hill. It's about baseball which is a game I tolerate a little more than football, and about bringing computer analysis into the selection of players using statistics and numbers. It was good. For people who are baseball fans, especially Oakland Athletics fans, they would LOVE it. ***

Newland is a story about a very strange, damaged little Jewish girl and her brother in a refugee camp in Israel after World War II. It has an interesting cast of characters and addresses the horrors of various wartime experiences including the corruption and sleaze of the refugee camp. It's a bit strange and a little lacking in emotion considering the subject matter, but that could be due to the performances. **

One More Time is a story about a has-been crooner (Christopher Walken) feeling old, poor, and washed up. He is constantly planning his comeback, although claims he never left. It's very sad. In the meantime he's having an extra marital affair behind the back of his sixth (?) wife. His dysfunctional family rallies around him as his support, but it all seems to focus on his youngest daughter (Amber Heard) who is directionless, but not screwed up enough to be interesting. I kept waiting for the story to get past the background and take a twist so the plot would begin, but nothing ever transpired. His singing was cringe-worthy. So was her's, although everyone kept saying how much talent she had and if she'd just apply herself she'd be as famous. I wasn't seeing it.  I kept asking myself Who is Amber Heard??? I didn't recognize her, but yet her name sounded familiar. Ah ha! She's the soon-to-be-ex of Johnny Depp currently headlining the tabloids. So weird to make your mark on the film industry as someone's ex-wife. **

Philadelphia with Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington about a lawyer who is wrongfully fired because he has AIDS. What an outstanding film. Is it any wonder why Tom Hanks won the Academy Award for Best Actor? *****

Pitch Perfect 2 was really horrible with stupid humor fit for prepubescent teenagers and unrealistic characters with dialogue that was written for children. I didn't even like the music.  I lasted 15 minutes. *

Race is the story of Jesse Owens and his Olympic Game wins that slapped the Nazis in the face. Great story, great acting, excellent everything. ****

The Rapture was horrible. Bad acting, bad script, , bad cheap sets, really, really bad religion shoved down the viewer's throat. We are all going to hell in a hand basket and it's too late to convert! <zero stars>

Risen is about the Resurrection of Christ as seen through the eyes of a Roman centurion (Joseph Fiennes). Jesus is crucified, he rises, and the centurion is sent to find the body as the powers-that-be (Jewish priests and Roman magistrates) are sure it was stolen so Jesus' followers could fabricate a miracle and create another social disturbance.  The problem is the centurion finds the body very much alive. This is another aspect of the Jesus tale that is rarely used as a movie or book theme. (See also below The Young Messiah...It's a Jesus-themed movie month!) It was very well done, great sets, great costumes, great performances, good script and an interesting take on a well-known biblical story. Loved the apostles especially Bartholomew. ****

St. Vincent is about a mean, alcoholic man (Bill Murray) who babysits the new kid next door after school. He takes him to the race track where he can learn commerce, to the local bar to learn social studies and teaches him how to defend himself against bullies. It has some great LOL moments and Naomi Watts is a superb pregnant Russian stripper-prostitute. ****

Summer Magic the 1960s Disney movie with Hayley Mills about a family who loses money and moves to the country to live in a big yellow house. Dorothy McGuire plays the mother. She must have been a smoker with those yellow teeth and sallow looking skin. Hayley Mills is adorable. The costumes are beautiful. Good ole fashioned Disney. I used to LOVE these movies as a kid. ****

This is Where I Leave You is about a man who has done everything possible in his life to avoid mistakes so he can live a perfect, predictable, rational life. Then he catches his wife sleeping with his boss, loses the wife and his job, his father dies and his world unravels. The whole family gets together with all their strange dysfunction. All-star cast of characters, great performances, interesting relationships. Jane Fonda looks great. I'm envious. Crappy title.***

The 33 is a true story about the thirty-three miners who were trapped in a Chilean mine for 69 days. It stars Antonio Banderas and Lou Diamond Phillips. Very good, suspenseful, human interest drama with outstanding performances. ****

Twice Born is a very complex story about two young lovers, one Italian and one American who meet in Bosnia and fall in love. She can't have children and they devise an elaborate surrogate plan but the Bosnia War intervenes. Twenty years later the woman brings her son back to Bosnia to show him where she met his father. By the end we find out it's not as it seems...***

Valley of the Dolls I can't believe I have never seen this movie. I've always heard a lot about it. I think it must have been scandalous back in the sixties when it came out with all that subversive behavior. OUTSTANDING theme song. I've always loved the song. It's so haunting. And to have Dionne Warwick sing it throughout the movie was awesome. I used to have my mother's old Dionne Warwick album with this song on it. The whole album was superb. I miss it, but long gone are the days of turn tables. The clothes were fantastic - matching coats, hats, purses and shoes. I loved it. Sharon Tate's clothes especially. In one scene she wears this hot pink pant suit ensemble with white shoes. Nothing special (except the color) until she removes the coat (she's out by the pool) and the hot pink hip hugger bell bottoms have a wide white belt and she's wearing a lime green bikini top. WOW. I've never known Sharon Tate other than as the woman the Manson Family murdered. She was really beautiful. Many have wondered throughout the years how far she would have gone in the entertainment industry and now I see why. And the HAIR STYLES! Long tresses ratted up high and sprayed with a whole can of toxic lacquer to hold it all in place. Of course, the story is a melodramatic Hollywood-themed soap opera - everyone is drinking, popping pills, and having premarital sex. Scandalous! They called people "fags" and "queers" a lot just to enhance the subversion theme. The acting was not so good although Susan Hayward and Patty Duke weren't too bad. Well, OK, they were better than the others, but still bad by today's standards. It was fun. And long. Very long. A wonderful example of classic 1960s culture. I can't stop humming the theme song. ***

The Walk is the Hollywood version of the true story of Philippe Petit (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the wire walker who walked a tight rope (wire) between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. It's hard to believe someone actually did it or even wanted to do that. The theme is not only "follow your dreams" but emphasizes the people it takes to make dreams come true as individual feats are rarely individual. It was a beautiful memorial to the Twin Towers. ***

Whiplash is the Academy Award winner I tried watching months ago and couldn't stomach the abuse. I tried watching it again and powered through the disrespectful screaming of the instructor, temper tantrums, throwing cymbals at his students and still hated it. I'm not sure if it's more about the student's obsession at perfection or the teacher's idea that abuse makes musical genius. Great performances, but I still didn't care for it. Too much confrontation. ***

The Young Messiah is the story of Jesus as a seven year old who is raising the dead, curing the sick, and healing the blind, but he doesn't quite understand what it all means. I found this idiotic. He might have been only seven years old, but HE IS GOD. There is very little about Jesus as a child in the Bible and I can't think of any movie that features this time period. Christopher Moore's hilarious book Lamb does, but this is a rare portrayal. I get the impression the writers had to decide how to handle it: historical realism or supernatural surrealism. They picked realism with a touch of oddness just to remind us the kid is GOD. Hmmm...not a good choice, I think. There is a weakness of plot, dialogue and performance (well, everything except the sets) that makes the movie boring. I would have liked to have seen a little more emotion and conflict. For instance when he brought the dead bird back to life instead of his cousins just looking at the bird as if that was perfectly natural, I would have liked some facial expression and dialogue of surprise and awe...or fear..or what the hell?? Maybe his mother could have swooped down, grabbed him by the arm, drug him to the wood shed and whooped his ass. When he is being questioned by the rabbi on his knowledge of the scriptures, instead of mindless recitation, little Jesus should have recited and then added his I AM GOD special knowledge in some way that made them all take a step back as if to say, "Holy shit, HE IS GOD.". There are some scenes of divine cloud formation (Girl Alive would have liked this...) and holy sun rays, but their usage was inappropriately melodramatic and didn't fit with the story as if they just stuck the scenic photographs in as a post-production afterthought. It was like looking at illustrations on a Jehovah's Witness pamphlet. I think every time little Jesus prayed is when they should have shot sun rays down on him and every time he cured someone is when the clouds should have opened up. Granted, the bonus features do admit it's was low budget film, but little inexpensive additions would have added some pizzazz and interest. The little boy they found to play Jesus is stunning, the perfect choice, but if he had acting skills, they didn't show. I would have liked the character to show more divine wisdom and understanding of the world. After all, HE IS GOD. I would have liked him to have had blue, sparkling eyes to beat in the idea he was holier than thou, too. It was OK, but it could have been great.***