#review

#Review: Hobbs and Shaw 5/5

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I admit it: I agreed to see Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw for one reason—Joe Anoaʻi, aka Roman Reigns. Gosh, that man is gorgeous. It didn’t matter that his role was tiny, or that he didn’t utter a word. This was his film debut and I needed to see it. In that regard I was not disappointed. Joe/Roman was prominently on screen anytime he was in a scene. 

The movie as a whole also does not disappoint. The premise is engaging. Who doesn’t love family drama, especially when you know all parties truly have everyone’s best interest at heart? The action scenes get your adrenaline pumping and, unlike some movies, didn’t drag on so long that whatever disbelief you suspended crashed back. 

 The glue that holds it all together is the cast. Idris Elba and his fine self makes the perfect villain. Vanessa Kirby as Hattie Shaw steals the show in terms of her fight scenes. She is totally bad-ass. But as the two protagonists, Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham carry the full weight of the movie, and no one could do it better. 

The chemistry between them reels you in. Their physical prowess and impressive comedic timing make you glad you showed up and stayed for the ride. I know I am.

Overall rating: 5/5 stars

PS Stay for the credits!i

My 600lb Life and Me

I have been trying to lose weight for a few years now. I’ve joined Weight Watchers, Tops, followed Atkins, Body Clutter, and the Body type diet. You name it, I tried it. I might have lost a pound or two but always gained it back. The desire for sweets and potato chips was stronger than my desire for fitness.

I also have the bad habit of watching TV while I eat. This adds to my tendency to overeat because I’m not paying attention to the food. Then I discovered the TV show My 600 Pound Life, which follows a patient for one year in their weight loss journey. Now, if I watch TV while I am eating, I watch this show. Trust me, this makes me acutely aware of how much food I eat.

I binge watched every season in their entirety, fascinated with the success stories and in awe that the doctor, renown bariatric surgeon Dr. Nowzaradan, didn’t throw in the towel with several of these patients. I certainly would have. 

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The show is mesmerizing, and I believe it’s at least partially responsible for the combined 64 pounds my partner and I have lost since starting this “Program”. I recommend it to anyone who is struggling with their weight.

As a writer, I also realized that the show closely follows the Hero’s Journey. Each episode begins with the ordinary world of the patient. We see the patients at home sharing their backstories. It’s a bit of an info dump but it works.  Next, they are offered the chance of help, but something stands in their way. Transportation to Houston where the doctor is located can pose a huge issue. Finally, a call to adventure forces the patient to make the trip and they meet the mentor, Dr Nowzaradan. Entering Houston, they cross the first threshold to become his patient. Win, lose or draw, their lives are never the same.

After the call is answered, we follow the patient through a series of tests and challenges. The doctor’s first order is to go on a very low-calorie diet and lose a large number of pounds in a month. Most patients fail this test and fall prey to temptation, some several times. They receive assistance from nutritionists, physical therapists, counseling for their emotional issues, and sometimes drug rehabilitation. With the help of these allies they deal with their issues (or not), and experience a revelation. Their reward is weight loss surgery. But the surgery is not the magic elixir many of them believe it will be.  

Now the patient must learn to eat properly and increase their activity using all they’ve learned. There is usually a setback but with the mentor’s help, they pull things together and begin to lose again. The show ends on a hopeful note with the patient making progress towards their transformation.

Over the course of their multi-year journeys, these heroes can loose 400-500 pounds. By their example, I’m reminded that I too can reach my weight loss and fitness goals.

#Review:John Wick 3 5/5 Stars

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As usual, when going to see an action movie that’s been in the theater a while, my partner and I were the only women in the audience for John Wick 3. Not that it matters; I just find it interesting.

Keanu Reeves did not disappoint. As Wick, a classic “bad guy that you root for”, he swaggers. And smolders. Moreover, he made all of the improbable fight and torture scenes believable. And there were many such scenes. The action seemed unrelenting, and created fast pacing that skirted the edge of being too much. Exhilarating.

The situation the protagonist found himself in was interesting. He’d been excommunicated from the ruling order of bad guys and forfeited his life. His quest was to get his life back.

Unfortunately, a situation(or set-up) is not a plot. Stuff happened. No rising action, no darkest moment, no arc of growth for Wick.

Still, Keanu on the screen for two hours kicking ass and not taking names is worth the price of admission. Add to his presence a couple of well trained, beautiful attack dogs and you have a blockbuster. My rating:5/5 stars.

A Concert to Remember: Sir Tom Jones

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It should be no surprise to those who know me that I go to as many concerts as I can. Even in the wake of the passing of the One and Only (Prince), I still have an appetite for good music and talented musicians. When I had the opportunity to see Tom Jones in concert, I knew I had to do it.

I was just a kid when he was on TV, but I remember watching his variety show with my mother. She, like many women in her day, was entirely smitten by him. Not only could the man sing, but he could Move. That's Move, with a capital M. Move in the way that, even just watching, your body remembers. Yeah, my mother would have been one to toss her bra and panties on stage if she'd gone to a show. (They don't still do that, by the way. I wish they did. I probably would have joined in.)

Today, Sir Tom is 78. It would be untrue to say that he is sexy for a man of his age. He is gorgeous and sexy for ANY age! The salt and pepper hair and beard, that freaking twinkle in his eyes...The man still has it. But when he started to sing, I nearly slid off of my seat. His voice is exquisite. It has always been extraordinary and it is still. Strong. Perfect. One of the songs he sang was Tower of Song, by Leonard Cohen. It is so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes. Tower of Song.  He also did a slow, uber sexy version of his hit, Sex Bomb. Sexy with a capital S. Sexy in the way that even just listening, your body remembers--Listen for yourself::Sex Bomb on YouTube

Unfortunately, the Foxwoods audience wasn't well-behaved enough for me to completely immerse myself in the music. The group of entitled, middle-aged beer drinkers sitting right in front of me (six deep, men and women) were loud, continually in and out of their seats getting--guess what--more beer. When they weren't shouting to each other or drinking, they were on their phones or drunkenly begging my friend to dance with them. I guess I looked too irritated to bother asking.

Sir Tom sang and played with the audience for a full two hours, no break. When he broke into his fast hits like  Delilah, What's New Pussycat?, She's a Lady and It's Not Unusual, the crowd went wild. So did I.

And its no wonder. Guess when he was born? June 7th.Same day as Prince.

Ladies and gentlemen, there are no coincidences.

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Binge Watching #Stranger Things: A #Review

I never seem to have time to watch a show while it's playing in real time. Consequently, I occasionally fall victim to binge watching. My latest is the Netflix series, Stranger Things. I saw the trailers and meant to watch but—no surprise here—I forgot. That is, until my nephew connected with me to tell me his opinion. He said the acting is good, the cinematography and music are “leaps and bounds ahead of other shows”, and the story is so good each episode feels like a movie. Since we tend to like similar things, I knew I had to try it. I watched the first episode and was hooked. I didn’t stop until I’d devoured the entire season.

My nephew was right. It was a beautiful show with gorgeous camera work and music that set a mood so well it was as if I was in the scene with the characters. But reflecting on the experience, I think if I’d I watched one episode each week I may have gotten bored and wandered off like I have with so many other shows—Beauty and the Beast, Legends of Tomorrow, Haven, to name a few.

On the surface, Stranger Things seemed to have huge flaws. Too many one dimensional adult characters—the doctor, the government agents, the police, the ex-husband. Most of the acting was so over the top it verged on parody—including Winona Ryder, who I’ve respected for years.The teenage drama storyline would have been hard to watch if it had dominated any episode. And at various places I thought, “Oh they're redoing Species, or ET,” or now that I think about it, any number of sci-fi tropes we’ve seen hundreds of times.

Worse, some of the twists and turns were illogical. For instance, the main character, Mike Wheeler (played by Finn Wolfhard) turns on the young girl (the one he’s risking a lot to help) for protecting him. Who does that? Or poor Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) a character so gratingly negative I kept wishing the monster would get him. Thankfully we had Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) who was completely adorable and softened my reaction to the others.

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Another clear bright spot in the show was young Eleven, played by Millie Bobbie Brown. Her expressive face (and acting chops that belie her age) made me care about her despite the plodding backstory that was explicitly designed to make her sympathetic. I also connected to Jonathan (Ryder’s oldest on, played perfectly by Charlie Heaton). These two, along with Gaten, are the reasons I watched episode after episode. I plan to watch the show again to figure out how they brought these young protagonists to life and what hooks kept me glued to my seat for eight hours.

Eight hours? Remind me to never admit that again.

The Setting Thesaurus Books Are Here!

As a reader I’m one of those people who skip ahead when I see long sections of description of anything—setting, sex, fights---because I find most to be boring and/or repetitive. As a writer sitting down to pen my first novel, HOUSE OF THE RISING SON, I struggled with description because I didn’t want MY scenes to be boring and/or repetitive. I found myself falling back on my favorite words and style. I also tried to find just the right nuances for the feelings that my characters experienced. I was thrilled to discover the first editions of the thesaurus series by Angela Ackerman, and Becca Puglisi. I found myself referring to these books over and over to help add variety to my work. I credited The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression with helping me to bring my characters to life. I'd hope there would be more from these amazing writers.

writershelpingwriters_logo_300x300px_finalWell, there's some good news on this front. Two new books have released this week that may change the description game for writers. The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to City Spaces and The Rural Setting Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Personal and Natural Spaces look at the sights, smells, tastes, textures, and sounds that a character might experience within 225 different contemporary settings. And this is only the start of what these books offer writers.

In fact, swing by and check out this hidden entry from the Urban Setting Thesaurus: Antiques Shop.

And there's one more thing you might want to know more about....

Rock_The_Vault_WHW1Becca and Angela, authors of The Emotion Thesaurus, are celebrating their double release with a fun event going on from June 13-20th called ROCK THE VAULT. At the heart of Writers Helping Writers is a tremendous vault, and these two ladies have been hoarding prizes of epic writerly proportions.

A safe full of prizes, ripe for the taking...if the writing community can work together to unlock it, of course.

Ready to do your part? Stop by Writers Helping Writers to find out more!

The Devil Made Me: A Review

Lucifer has stolen my heart. That’s not a statement you hear every day. And I haven’t always felt this way. I try to watch at least the first episode of all new programs that have a supernatural element. Finding them on TV isn’t always easy but On Demand helps.

And not all get second views.

Lucifer almost did not get that second view. The show started out too predictable with the trope I hate…two men vying for the attention of the single woman. Early in the program I had told my partner that I didn’t think this was going to be a keeper.

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I am not sure exactly when my opinion changed. Maybe it was to his loyalty to his friend Delilah? Maybe it was Maze? More likely it was his interaction with Linda. I love hearing the secret desires of these characters and his determination to see the bad people punished. His brazen behavior became humorous and his smarmy smile became endearing.

I’ve read that certain groups have tried to have the show cancelled and when it didn’t air one Monday night, I was afraid they had succeeded. After a bit of research I learned that the show was bought by HULU, which I do not get. So, I lost my On Demand option. But for now at least I have a reason to look forward to Monday night television  again