Thursday, June 30, 2016

Another Movie-Themed Liebster Award

Phyl at Phyllis Loves Classic Movies tagged me with this.  I really liked her questions so even though I just did one last month, I'm doing this again :-)  I'm not going to tag anyone this time around, though, so if you want to play, go ahead and consider yourself tagged!  You can just use these same questions again.

1. Out of the classic movie stars still alive (Olivia de Havilland, Doris Day, Debbie Reynolds, Eva Marie Saint, Kim Novak, Sophia Loren, Julie Andrews, Angela Lansbury, Joanne Woodward, Robert Wagner, Jerry Lewis, Sidney Poitier, Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, to name some), who would you most like to meet and what would you talk about?

That's such a hard choice!  Kind of a toss-up between Doris Day and Debbie Reynolds, but Julie Andrews was a huge part of my childhood, and Dick Van Dyke too.  Hmm.  What if I interviewed Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke at the same time and asked them all about making Mary Poppins?

2. That one classic movie you really want to see but can't seem to get your hands on a copy.

One?!?!  Okay, the 1939 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame with Maureen O'Hara as Esmerelda has been on my to-watch list for a loooong time, but it has yet to cross my path.

3. Current movie star crush (and by current I mean the one you're crushing on right now, not necessarily a current celebrity).

Alan Ladd.  "Crushing" is too mild a term at this point, though.  So are "swooning" and "gushing."  "Obsessing" might come close.  As you might be able to tell from a certain Pinterest board...

4. James Stewart or Gary Cooper?

James Stewart!  No contest.

5. You're interning at a studio and you find a box (let's say 23 ft) hidden away that hasn't been touched in decades. What do you find inside?

A treasure trove of "lost" Rudolph Valentino movies!!!!

6. What would you write your thesis on if you got a films studies degree?

Oh, either something to do with John Wayne or the film versions of Raymond Chandler's books.

7. What TV house would you like to live in?

I always thought the Taylor home on The Andy Griffith Show looked comfortable.  Though I really wonder what Andy is pointing to here.

8. A Classic Movie Star asks you to help them write their autobiography, who is it?

Eeeeee!  Um, presumably someone who's still alive, so... Doris Day, maybe?  I do try to always buy pajamas that look like she would wear them.  I'm sure that would help somehow...

9. Do you prefer films with over-the-top costumes that are a feast to the eyes or films where the costumes aren't noticeable and where your main focus is the story?

Either way, my main focus is going to be the characters and story, so it makes little difference to me, I'm afraid.

10. Last year TCM had a free online class on Film Noir. What topic would you like to see a free class on in the future?

They did?  And I missed it?  Bummer!  Well, in the future, one on westerns would be awesome.  Especially if I knew about it and could participate.

11. What Olivia de Havilland film are you most looking forward to seeing in July?

Well, I'm going to be rewatching The Proud Rebel (1958) tonight to put the finishing touches on my review of it for a certain blogathon.  But I think I'll also try to watch The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) with my kids this weekend.  Or maybe I'll finally convince them to try Captain Blood (1935), if they're in a piratical mood.

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Quotation Tag -- Day 3

The third and final day!  Once again, here are... The Rules:

Thank the person who nominated you 
Nominate 3 new bloggers every day 
Post a new quotation every day for 3 consecutive days
(Hey, I got them all done in a single week, at least!)

Here are the final three quotations about writing that I want to share:


(It's nice to know he had days like that too.) I'm doing this:

(That's my favorite reason for writing.  So I can read the story!)

L'Amour tells it like it is.:

(Yes!  Time to turn that faucet on.)

Today, I am nominating Eva at Coffee, Classics, and Craziness, Jamie at Through Two Blue Eyes, and Meredith at On Stories and Words.  Play if you want to!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Spindle Chat: Kathryn McConaughy

It's Thursday again, and time for the final chat with one of my fellow Five Magic Spindles authors.  Please welcome Kathryn McConaughy, author of "Guardian of our Beauty."  Set in the Ancient Near East, this story has a far different flavor from any fairy tale retelling I have ever encountered before.  Which isn't surprising, considering Kathryn does things in real life like go on archaeological digs in the Holy Land.

Kathryn started a new blog recently too, called The Language of Writing, which I think you'll especially dig if you're a writer.

Here are her answers to my questions :-)

My favorite book when I was a child:  Brian Jacques' The Long Patrol. I loved his Redwall series, which combined high adventure, riddles, and every accent in the UK. Nowadays, the lack of characterization (especially noticeable in his later books) tends to annoy me.

My favorite book now:  Either George MacDonald's The Princess and the Crone, A Double Story, or George MacDonald's The Curate's Awakening. Whether he's writing fairy tales or realistic novels of nineteenth century life in England and Scotland, George MacDonald has no equal.

A book I never want to read again:  Just to pick one, Boccaccio's Decameron. My mom found this on a Great Books list and assigned it to me in junior high. I was old enough to understand what was going on, but not old enough to realize that my mom had no clue what was in it, and just STOP reading.

The book that made me want to be a writer:  The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks. Although I had been writing long before I read this book, the first story I actually thought might someday be published was inspired by the Shannara world.

A book people might be surprised to learn that I love:  Reaper Man, by Terry Pratchett. Normally, the whole paranormal fiction thing (vampires, zombies, etc.) does nothing for me, but this book, with the socially inept but soft-hearted Death as the main character, and a parasitic Mall organism as the main villain, manages to parody all of paranormal fiction while at the same time creating a convincing and hilarious world.

The book that I want to read next:  The fifth book in Naomi Novik's Her Majesty's Dragon series. The series feels exactly like a set of real Napoleonic-era travel volumes or memoirs--but with dragons! In the earliest books, the presence of dragons makes relatively little difference to the course of events in the war; but as time goes on, the effects begin to snowball... Napoleon makes it to England! (And that's all I'm going to say!)

The first TV show I watched every episode of:  Stargate SG-1. Initially intrigued by the Ancient Near Eastern connections of the premise, I fell in love with the characters and stuck with the series even through seasons 9 and 10 (ugh). I am just too much of a completist!

A TV show I want to try:  Castle, with Nathan Fillion. I am a big fan of humorous cop shows of the less-gory variety.

The song that always cheers me up:  Anything from the new movie version of Annie, even the songs that are supposed to be sad. My favorite for cheer-up power is the helicopter song (possibly called something like "The City's Yours").

A movie that I fell in love with recently:  Zootopia, from Disney. I laughed so hard in the theater... it's a good thing there were only 3 people there! Fuzzy animals + humorous cop action + great characterization + creative world!

A book I've read over and over:  There are a lot of books in this category, but I will go with Janet Kagan's Hellspark. If you like linguistics, anthropology, or perfectly-realized wacky human cultures, plus great humor and characters, this is the scifi book for you.

My literary hero:  Anthony Trollope, who decided to supplement his income as a Royal Post Office worker by writing novels of English life. He was in his forties. He proceeded to write about 50 massive novels in the next 30 years (and learn Latin)!

A movie ending I'd like to change:  The end of Avengers: Age of Ultron. You can't kill Pietro! He was in hundreds of comics, X-Men and Avengers and Inhumans... now you can't bring those stories to the screen! (Oh, wait--the X-Men franchise still has him, but not Wanda... why can't you work out a shared universe, guys?)

Thanks so much for participating, Kathryn!  I've had a lot of fun introducing my new writer friends to my blogging friends, and I hope you've all enjoyed this as well.

If you agree or disagree with Kathryn about any of the cool stuff she brought up, or if you just want to say, "Hey, is going on an archaeological dig in the Holy Land actually fun?" please leave her a comment!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Quotation Tag -- Day 2

Day two!  Once again, here are... The Rules:

Thank the person who nominated you 
Nominate 3 new bloggers every day 
Post a new quotation every day for 3 consecutive days

Here are my three writing-related quotations for your edification and enjoyment today:




(Well, I'm focusing more on YA than children, but anyway, I like this.)

Seuss also said: "“Ninety percent of the children’s books patronize the child and say there’s a difference between you and me, so you listen to this story. I, for some reason or another, don’t do that. I treat the child as an equal.” #seuss #quotes:

(Why do so many people think children are not people yet?)

Today, I am tagging Heidi at Sharing the Journey, Mary Horton at Sunshine and Scribblings, and Cordy at Write On, Cordy!  Play if you want to :-)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Quotation Tag -- Day 1

Blessing Counter tagged me with this weeks ago, but I'm very behind on my blog reading and writing, and am only now getting around to participating.  How did my summer get so busy, I ask you?  Well, thank you, Blessing Counter, because this is something fast and quick I can post about this week, which I kind of needed.

Anyway, here are... The Rules:

Thank the person who nominated you 
Nominate 3 new bloggers every day 
Post a new quotation every day for 3 consecutive days

I think I can handle that.

Because I feel like it, I'm going to focus on my favorite writing quotations.  I'm feeling a little slumpy right now because it's summer, and writing is always hardest for me in the summer.  Hot weather makes me sluggish and lazy.  Anyway, I'm also going to share three quotations a day because I love a LOT of them, and even narrowing it down to 9 is hard.  So here are today's:

Every writer has trouble writing. Even you, my dear. (original quote by Joseph Heller):

(This is comforting on days like today.)

Here's some sound advice from the legendary Ray Bradbury (

(I heartily agree.  Which is why I'm writing nothing but westerns these days.)

How to Get Your First Draft Done | Spilling Ink  Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott:

(Good to hear right now, as I struggle with getting a first draft off the ground.)

Today, I am tagging Ashley at Of Bookshelves and Daydreams, Grace at Fictionally, and Kathryn at The Language of Writing.  Play if you want to!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Spindle Chat: Grace Mullins

Today's Five Magic Spindles interview is with Grace Mullins, author of "The Ghost of Briardale," which sounds like it's going to be the funniest story in the anthology.  It revolves around "Roselee, a ghost with a faulty memory, who flits through the halls of an insane asylum in search of the mortal boy who can help her save the day."

Grace blogs at Fictionally, and you can like her Facebook page here.  Now for her answers!

1. My favorite book when I was a child: The Mandie Mysteries by Lois Gladys Leppard. They’re the major reason I became such a book nerd, and still hold a dear place in my heart. It was a devastating day for me to find out that she passed away before finishing Mandie’s story…

2. My favorite book now: I think I’ll answer with a book series, because choosing one book is pretty hard for me. The series I choose is “The Ladies of Distinction” series by Jen Turano. LOVE those books, and think you need to read them, too. Like now. Right now.

3. The last book I read: I re-read Secrets Kept by J.L. Mbewe, the first book in “The Hidden Dagger” trilogy. The sequel just released, and, as I wanted to refresh my memory before diving into book two, I decided to go ahead and re-read the book. I’m glad I did, because I’d forgotten more than I realized! Plus, I think I enjoyed it more this time than my first read of it.

4. The book I want to read next Many. But to choose just one, I’ll say Embers by Ronnie Kendig. It just looks like such an AMAZING fantasy. I’ve read some of it already and already feel love for it. 

5. What I'm reading now: A Princess No More, also by J.L. Mbewe, one of a few short stories that fit in the world of “The Hidden Dagger” trilogy. I want to read some of these before I move on to the second “Hidden Dagger” book.

6. My favorite author: Again, I don’t have just one favorite, so I’ll categorize by genre. Historical: Jen Turano -- Fantasy: Anne Elisabeth Stengl -- Contemporary: Melissa Tagg (I feel like I’m excluding so many favorites… *sad face*)

7. The first TV show I watched every episode of: I’m not 100% sure, but I think Little House on the Prairie. I used to really like the show, and would sometimes watch up to four episodes a day because Hallmark Channel was so kind in indulging my love for the show by playing it twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon.

8. The TV show I think should get more love: I Love Lucy. I know it has somewhat of a fan base, but I feel like my generation should appreciate it more. I Love Lucy (especially when I’m eating ice cream) is my happy place, and I do not understand when people do not show the excitement I feel when we speak of it.

9. My all-time favorite movie: I think probably the 2006 film Miss Potter fits this position for the time being. While it is somewhat sad, it is also charming, darling, wonderful and…Oh, now I want to watch it!

10. A movie I've watched over and over: Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. I even went and saw it when they put it back in theaters a few years ago even though I own the film… (SO EXCITED for the upcoming live-action version!!!)

11. A movie coming out soon that I'm excited for: Does coming out on DVD count? Because I’m soooo excited for the third Kung Fu Panda movie. I didn’t see it in theaters, and kind of need it now. (Yeah, I have a big inner child).

Thanks for your fun answers, Grace!  I'm really enjoying getting to know you via your blog, this little Q-and-A session, and on Facebook :-)

Everyone else -- please say hi and let Grace know if she's mentioned any of your favorites!

Friday, June 10, 2016

April and May Period Drama Challenge Tag

Here we are with the latest recap for the Period Drama Challenge.  Miss Laurie has combined April and May into one recap post here, where you can find links to allllll the delicious movie reviews people have submitted in the past two months.

And today, I'm going to answer her tag questions at long last.  We were gone most of this week to the beach, where my husband was attending a church convention, and my kids and I were having adventures like watching dolphins, eating seafood, and of course playing at the beach.

1. What period dramas did you view in April & May? 

I watched and reviewed And Now Tomorrow (1944), Beyond the Rocks (1922), Captain Newman, M.D. (1963), and Angel and the Badman (1947).  I also watched The Sheepman (1958), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975), The Sign of Zorro (1960), The Proud Rebel (1958), The Light of Western Stars (1940), The Swiss Family Robinson (1960), and The Longest Day (1962).  They were some good months for movie-watching!

2. Do you prefer to watch period dramas that have a happy ending or a bittersweet ending? 

Happy endings for me, thanks!

3. What media forms do you prefer to use when watching period dramas (i.e. purchased DVDs, rented/borrowed DVDs, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu)? 

I prefer DVDs, but now that my brother and his wife gave me their old Roku device and I can watch Amazon Prime movies on my TV, I like that a lot too.  I do watch some things on Hulu and YouTube too, when I can see hard-to-find things that way.

4. Which period drama character's wardrobe would you like to own? 

Emma Woodhouse as portrayed by Gwyneth Paltrow.  Here are my three favorites of hers:

5. What period dramas are you looking forward to viewing in June 2016?

Lucky Jordan (1942) and Two Years Before the Mast (1946) are high on my list for new-to-me movies, and I'm hoping to rewatch Branded (1950) and The Great Gatsby (1949) and review them before the challenge ends.  I just watched Gatsby for the first time last night and it is reverberating in my head right now.  Very good adaptation.  I'm also leaning toward rewatching Slow West (2015) if I get a chance.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Spindle Chat: Ashley Stangl

Our next Five Magic Spindles chat is with Ashley Stangl.  Her story, "Out of the Tomb," is probably going to be the most action-packed, as it involves "Tanza, a tomb raider on a distant planet, who struggles to make a living and doesn’t need a long-lost prince to complicate her difficult life."

Here's the cover image for her story, which clearly should be made into a movie or video game:

Ashley just started a blog recently, called Of Bookshelves and Daydreams, and I'm sure she'd love it if you dropped by.  But for now, let's get to her answers to my questions.  I love that she answered some different ones from Michelle.

My favorite book when I was a child: As a child, I was a “Little House on the Prairie” fanatic. My mom bought me the books one at a time as she stumbled across them at thrift stores, and in an out-of- order fashion, I devoured the whole series, and then reread it countless times. These Happy Golden Years and Little Town on the Prairie came to be my favorites, and Cap Garland was my first literary crush (I couldn’t resist that crooked smile). I haven’t reread the entire series since graduating high school, but I mean to return to it soon.

A book I've read over and over: Manalive by G.K. Chesterton, to me, is not so much a novel as it is medicine, to be taken whenever I need an infusion of joy, energy and optimism in my life. It’s a short novel about a four young people living in a London boarding house, whose lives are turned upside down by the arrival of Innocent Smith, a huge, energetic man who lives life with boundless enthusiasm for everything. When Innocent’s accused of being an insane criminal mastermind, the characters stage an impromptu trial to determine his guilt or innocence, leading to some very interesting revelations, great humor, and lots and lots of philosophical discussion. Each time I read this book, I come away with a better understanding of the philosophy, a richer appreciation for the plot and characters, and new motivation to life live to the fullest.

The last book I read: I recently finished reading The Star Bell by Stephanie Ricker, a sequel to her Cinderella-in- space story, “A Cinder’s Tale” in Five Glass Slippers. It’s a worthy follow-up to that story and to the prequel, The Battle of Castle Nebula. I love these characters and this universe, and after reading The Star Bell, I’m already impatient for the book in the series. 

What I'm reading now: I’m in the middle of several different books, since I’m in a bit of a reading slump where I can’t quite commit to anything. I’m four chapters into Charles Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend for a read- along on Goodreads, and I’m just starting to understand who the characters are and what’s going on. I’m a few stories into Lord Peter Views the Body, and though I’m madly in love with the Lord Peter novels, Peter’s not made for short stories, and I’m struggling with this collection. I’m nearly finished with I Am Margaret by Corinna Turner, a terrifying but very compelling dystopian novel. I’m listening to Shannon Hale’s The Goose Girl, one of my favorite fairy tale retellings, in a wonderful full-cast audiobook form.

But the book that looks like it’ll get me out of my reading slump is Atlantia by Ally Condie. It’s a YA sci-fi/fantasy/dystopian novel about an underwater city, and though I’m not connecting to the characters or the plot, the premise is interesting and the prose is so easy to read that reading feels relaxing again. I hope this will give me the motivation to actually finish a book!

The book that made me want to be a writer: When, in my early high school years, I was struck by the desire to write a story of my own, I remembered Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, a Cinderella retelling I’d read in elementary school. I loved fairy tales, and thought there should be more books retelling and expanding the stories (not knowing at the time that retellings were already a thriving genre). I wrote a retelling of “Rumpelstiltskin” that was truly horrible (trying to be a serious story and a ridiculous parody at the same time), but from that point on, I considered myself a writer, and fairy tales continue to provide inspiration for most of my stories.

My literary hero: Faramir, from The Lord of the Rings, is without a doubt the character whose heroism I most admire. I was struck breathless by his refusal to use the Ring even if it meant that the kingdoms of men would fall. In our relativistic culture, I’ve come to expect heroes who rationalize evil actions, who are forced to put aside their ideals and commit evil acts to prevent an even greater evil from triumphing. Faramir was a wonderful surprise, a character so moral and noble and brave that he would reject evil no matter the circumstances. He’s a warrior who fights for all the right reasons, a leader who truly cares for his people, and my favorite character in the entire trilogy. I can only pray that I’ll manage half of his moral fortitude.

My favorite author: G.K. Chesterton. He’s a larger-than- life, yet oft-forgotten author from early 20 th -century England, and a true literary genius. His Father Brown stories were the first detective stories to approach mysteries with tactics different from Sherlock Holmes. His novels are quirky gems. His poetry ranges from whimsical to epic and has a masterful sense of rhythm. His essays are like candy—it’s hard to stop after just one. His mastery of language is stunning; his sentences leave me astonished by what he can accomplish with words. His voice is genial, inviting, yet totally confident, as he draws from hundreds of different topics to create arguments or metaphors or paradoxes. I’ve not read as much as his work as I’d like to—I tend to reread the Father Brown stories, Manalive, The Napoleon of Notting Hill, and a few of his essays and poems over and over—but I can’t think of another author whose writing skill I admire more.

The last book that made me cry: The novelization of the Star Wars movie, Revenge of the Sith, by Matthew Stover, is so good that I’m almost angry at it. How can a novelization of a Star Wars movie—and not a very good Star Wars movie—be great literature? Yet the book has stunningly beautiful character construction, and makes the movie into a compelling, heartbreaking tragedy. I almost started crying over the death of a villain, for goodness’ sake! But after Anakin’s fall, the depth of Obi-Wan’s despair shattered my heart and made the tears fall.

The TV show I think should get more love: Agent Carter. If it had received more love, it wouldn’t have been cancelled, and the cancellation is a tragedy. Captain America is my favorite Avenger, and I loved the chance to see what happened immediately after the first movie. This show is everything I love—a post-WWII drama about spies and superheroes, with a wonderful crime-fighting duo of a fantastic lady spy and an enthusiastic British butler. It’s like ABC called me up and asked me what I wanted in a TV show. The plots were convoluted and hard to follow, but the characters and their relationships were fantastic, and the humor and action were top-notch. Alas, it was too good to live, and now I’ll never know the resolution to that cliff-hanger!

A movie coming out soon that I'm excited for: Finding Nemo is probably my favorite Pixar movie. When I heard about Finding Dory, I was skeptical, because the first movie was a perfect standalone adventure. But the more I hear about Finding Dory, the more I believe that they actually have a legitimate story to tell, and I’m excited to see what it is.

I’m also excited for Love and Friendship. I love a Jane Austen adaptation, but one can only have so many versions of Pride and Prejudice, so I’m thrilled that an adaptation of Lady Susan is finally coming to the big screen.

The first album I bought with my own money: I’m not sure that it’s the very first album I bought, but several years ago, I found Garth Brooks’ Double Live in the five-dollar bin at Walmart, and it’s still one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. Garth’s a great storyteller, and the live versions of his songs are almost always better than the studio versions—"Callin’ Baton Rouge" and "Shameless" are infinitely more dynamic in concert, and of course it’s great to have the extra verses of "Friends in Low Places" and "The Thunder Rolls."

The song that always cheers me up: "Crash and Burn" by Thomas Rhett is not the greatest song ever played on the radio, but it’s a wonderfully catchy summertime song, and I always want to dance along to it.

Thanks for all the fun answers, Ashley!  We have a lot of common interests, from LOTR to the MCU.

Everyone else, please say 'hi' to Ashley and let her know if you have common interests too :-)

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Spindle Chat: Michelle Pennington

To help while away the time as we wait for Five Magic Spindles to get released, the other four authors and I have been getting to know each other better.  They're all such interesting writers, and I decided to feature them each here so you could interact with them too.  So I sent them each a list of questions, and they got to choose which ones they wanted to answer.

Today, allow me to introduce you to Michelle Pennington, whose story "Spindle Cursed" sounds like it will be the most romantic in the collection.  The official description says it's about "Arabella, a living spirit trapped in her own comatose body, who helplessly watches from the realm of dreams as her usurping cousin plots to destroy her once and for all."  And look at the beautiful artwork that goes with her story!  That dragon just thrills me :-)

You can visit Michelle's website here and like her Facebook page here.

Okay, time for Michelle's answers to my questions.

My favorite book when I was a child: Putting the label “favorite” on a book is so hard, but I’d have to say The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope. It is a retelling of the ballad of Tam Lin and features old English history mixed with fairies, old pagan customs, a bit of romance and an awesome heroine. So read it!

My favorite book now: Again with the favorites. Since I’m being forced to pick, I’d have to say The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer. But truthfully, every time I try to pick my favorite Heyer Regency romance, I end up by naming at least ten of them.

A book I've read over and over: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See? —I have four kids, so I’m just being real here.

A book I never want to read again: I’m going to say the whole “Wheel of Time” series. I read them and absolutely loved them, but let’s face it, I don’t have room in my life to read those 4,000,000+ words again. (Yes, I looked it up.)

The last book I read: Water Girl by Juliann Whicker. It’s a YA fantasy romance with mermaids and sirens set in a mid-american high school, of all things. I loved it and was fascinated by the love interest. He was just completely different than I’ve seen in other YA books.

What I'm reading now: Funny enough, and I’m not lying, A Branch of Silver, a Branch of Gold by who else but Anne Elisabeth Stengl. Of course, I won’t still be reading it when this interview goes live because it’s good and good books don’t last long in my hands.

My literary hero: I’d have to say Lindsay Buroker. She’s an indie author (like I am for the most part) who writes fantasy with extremely superb characterization. I fell in love with her reading her steam punky series, The Emporer’s Edge. It’s a total master class in how to develop characters, build a world, write fight scenes laced with humor, and make every book in a series better than the last one. The first book, same title as the series, is always free so give it a try.

My favorite author: As I alluded to above, Georgette Heyer will always be dear to my heart. Seriously, my mom and I joke that we hope to get to heaven and find that she’s still writing so that we can read new books with her touch of genius.

The last book that made me cry: I don’t cry that often when reading. I laugh and rant and grumble and sigh happily, but I don’t cry often. But when I read Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe for a book club a couple of years ago (not sure how I never had to read it at school) I bawled my eyes out. It swamped me with this overwhelming glimpse at the magnitude of evil that has been done to people throughout the world’s history.

The last book that made me laugh: Okay, so bear with me on this one. I’m a huge fan of Bollywood movies, the cheesier the better. So, I recently read Love Muffin and Chai Latte by Anya Wylde. I found it vastly amusing. I laughed out loud through most of the book. I also chuckled through Adorkable by Cookie O’Gorman.

A book people might be surprised to learn I love: I’m not really much of a zombie book reader, but I loved The End Came with a Kiss by John Michael Hileman. It’s super cool!

The book I pretend I've read: In most company, I won’t make a big deal of the fact that I haven’t read The Hunger Games. People stare at me like I’ve been living under a rock, except the ones who know I’m a voracious reader. Those people demand to know why not. Maybe it’s all the hype or the first person present (not my favorite), or the frustrating love triangle, but I’m never going to read it. There, the truth is out.

Thanks for the awesome answers, Michelle!  I'm so looking forward to reading your story.  Soon!!!

Everyone else, please give Michelle a warm welcome.  Do you have any bookish tastes in common?

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

"Dave" (1993)

Dave Kovic (Kevin Kline) runs a temp agency.  He spends his days convincing people he knows to give jobs to other people he knows.  He also moonlights as an impersonator of President Bill Mitchell (also Kevin Kline), opening car dealerships and showing up at birthday parties, that sort of thing.

One day, Secret Serviceman Duane Stevenson (Ving Rhames) shows up at Dave's house and asks him to serve his country by being a stand-in for the real President.  Smile and wave while the President is otherwise engaged, that sort of thing.  Dave is a patriotic do-gooder and can't wait to help out, so they whisk him off to Washington D.C.

It turns out that President Bill Mitchell is a charismatic jerk who's having an affair with one of his secretaries.  (Yeah, this came out during the Clinton administration, why do you ask?)  Dave gets to pretend to be the President while Mitchell and said secretary (Laura Linney) rendezvous.  But then Mitchell has a stroke while in flagrante delicto that renders him a comatose vegetable.

President Mitchell's right-hand man, Bob Alexander (Frank Langella) cooks up a scheme to keep his position of power and maybe eventually get himself declared President.  With the President's other aide, Alan (Kevin Dunn), he asks Dave to just keep pretending to be the President for a few days.  They downplay Mitchell's condition and emphasize how its Dave's patriotic duty to help the country feel like their President is still in control.

Because this is a comedy, Dave agrees.  He even manages to fool the First Lady (Sigourney Weaver), the press, and even many of the White House staff.  For a while, it seems like Bob Alexander came up with the perfect solution.  He sends the Vice-President (Ben Kingsley) to Africa and pulls the strings on his new Presidential puppet, and everything is fine.

But Dave realizes he has a lot of power now, and he sets about righting some of the wrongs he sees around him.  He wants to balance the budget and help the poor, and when he realizes that Bob Alexander has a decidedly scurrilous agenda, he decides to try to fix that as well.

Dave is one of my very most favorite comedies, partly because aside from Bob Alexander and Bill Mitchell, all the characters are just so nice!  Dave isn't just cheerful and kind, he also has a deep desire to help people.  I relate to that a lot.  First Lady Ellen Mitchell has a passion for helping the homeless, Secret Serviceman Duane helps Dave navigate his first few days in the White House, and the Vice-President is a sweet boy scout.

Kevin Kline seems to be having an absolute blast in this comedy.  This is the first thing I ever saw him in, and I've had such a soft spot for him ever since.  He absolutely nails Dave's blend of sincerity, naivete, and earnest happiness.

This is also the first thing I ever saw Sigourney Weaver in, and I think of her as Ellen Mitchell first and foremost even though I've seen her in several other things over the years.  She brings an elegance and gravitas to the role, with an undercurrent of sorrow that is hugely appealing to me.

And this is the first thing I ever saw Frank Langella in as well.  It took me several viewings of his The Mark of Zorro (1974) to wash Bob Alexander out of my head, because he embodies the role of corrupt politician so flawlessly, and I'd always associated him with it.  He sneers, glares, smooth-talks, and connives with the best of them.

Is this movie family friendly?  Mostly, but not entirely.  There's a scene of the President and his secretary enjoying each other that's pretty easy to skip.  Later, the First Lady interrupts Dave while he's showering, and you can see some rear nudity through the shower door.  There's a little mild cussing.  That's it.

I wrote this review specifically for the Frank Langella Celebration that's going on today through June 3 over on Carissa's blog, Cab Drivers and Coffee Pots.  If you want a taste of this movie, you can watch the trailer on YouTube here, and it gives you a great idea of the movie's flavor.  It does include a little of that shower scene, though, so maybe don't watch it around impressionable young kids who ask a lot of questions?