Southern Way

Southern Way

Friday, June 26, 2015

In a Galaxy not so Far Away

There is always the inevitable question, "What are you doing these days?" 

While visiting with some old friends this came up once again. As a smart ass I am tempted to say something like, "on my way to my challis in the south of France", or "was just released from the psych unit at the state hospital - hopefully this time I will be stable" or "ordering the next round, what will you have?"

Seriously I should just say "unemployed", trying not to look desperate as I try to find some form of employment. And, if one more (well meaning) person says "oh there are plenty of things out there you could do" I am going to poke my eye out. Yes, I can "do" a lot but the issue is finding someone who will employ me to "do" these things. From the outside it looks so simple, so reasonable but reality sucks.

The fifty something black hole is real. And for those in other parts of the Galaxy it is hard to imagine. For our generation it has always been study hard, work hard, and you will be rewarded. No one bothered to tell us that the rules would change and there is nothing we can do about it. Oh sure there are opportunities out there. You just hope you are in the right place at the right time and know the right person on the right day and pray you are not left handed. 

I wish I could just say, "Retired, and you?"

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Aloha - A Movie Review

What can you say about a movie that Rotten Tomatoes gave a 20% and IMDB gave 5.3 out of 10? Well that depends on how much you rely on someone else to tell you what you would like to see. Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Bill Murray, Alec Baldwin, and Rachel McAdams bring a lot of star power to the table in Aloha. Heck Bradley Cooper just with his blue eyes brings a lot to watch - but I digress. 

Yes, the critics panned the movie. OK, the critics bashed the film. But, I went anyway. I found the story enjoyable. Maybe the bar was set so low based on what I had heard that anything would be better than what I expected. Do critics expect something different from an all star cast? Whatever! I got my monies worth and you most likely will also if this is your type of story.

There are several story lines here. There is the boy meets girl. Boy likes girl. Boy stands girl up. Then boy sees girl again and realizes what he missed. There is super star who fell from grace and joined the "gray side" (a quote from the movie) and now is on his way back. Then there is the go get'em spit fire girl so focused she finds herself blindsided by the rogue. And all of this revolves around privatizing the US space program. Have a lost you?

Cooper is remote, Stone is perky, McAdams is burdened, Baldwin is irate, and Murray is up to something. The Hawaiian gods need to be appeased, the military brass need to be satisfied, old wounds need to be healed, some need to realize that what they have is true love, some need to realize that true love is worth giving up a lot for, some need to learn the truth, and some need to learn they cannot get their way. 

Put all this together and it makes for an interesting story when the film is well cast, the story moves along without stumbling, and all the intertwining parts mingle correctly without getting knotted up. I cannot help it if some folks wanted more.

One caveat - there were many many reviewers who were up in arms that the movie was set in Hawaii with many Hawaiian characters, including Stone's character  whose father is half-Chinese and half-Hawaiian, none of whom were cast by ethnically correct actors. This was an issue.

All this said, I recommend this feel good movie. It is 105 minutes worth your time.

I Don't Like Spiders and Snakes

While searching for a new swimsuit yesterday (a most painful chore) I overheard the following conversation.

"Lord, I haven't seen you in ages. Where HAVE you been?"

"Good gawd. I've been a swamp."

"A swamp. Do tell?"

"Well the state offered this class where I could get all my education credits for this year, all at one time just in five days. So I signed up."

"Uh huh."

"The class was ecology which I needed since I will be teaching 5th grade life science this year. And Lord child they had us spend those five days in a swamp - an honest to God swamp. The Congaree National Park. Have you ever been there?"


"Well, you know when you leave Columbia on Bluff Road pass the stadium?"

"Uh huh."

"Well you keep your ass going. You keep going for miles - miles into the middle of no where. I did not know that road went that far. It is 15 mother loving miles out there. And when you get there there is nothing but woods. Nothing! Just trees, water, trails, and a board walk."

"I've never been."

"Well, there's more than that, there's bugs and snakes. Everyday we just hiked - up and down these long ass trails looking at trees and bushes. They showed up pig tracks and deer tracks. We saw birds - I don't know what kind because I was too busy worrying about the bugs and watching out for snakes. And they are pretty funny out there. Don't you step off that there trail. Don't want to damage the environment."

"So you were there every day?"

"Everyday from 7 O'clock in the morning until 4 in the afternoon. And when I got home it took me an hour to scrub every part of my body to make sure there wasn't any type of critter on me. God knows what we could have picked up out there. A swamp! Me in a swamp! For five days. I thought we might be walking through the woods and then in a class room looking at a movie or maybe a slide show. I wasn't ready for the swamp. There wasn't anything in that there literature about no swamp."

"Well did you learn anything?"

"Yeah, that I don't like no swamp."

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Far from A Madding Crowd - A Movie Review

My prediction - one of the best films of the year. And if not, the gods bestowing the awards will have erred. Far from the Madding Crowd is yet another film (based on a novel by Thomas Hardy) where Carrie Mulligan shows the strength of her talent. As Bathsheba Everdene, she plays a strong willed and most independent young lady in a story that starts in 1870 in England. The story is the tale of the intertwined relationships she has with three men. 

Over the course of the movie we watch as she matures and starts to question love and independence. She always seems to have control of it all, or does she? Matthias Schoenaerts plays Gabrial Oak, the steady dependable sheep herder (the strong quiet type) who seems to always be there for her. Micheal Sheen plays William Boldwood the middle age prosperous farmer who becomes besotted with her. And Tom Sturridge plays Sergeant Troy, the dashing officer who quickly infatuates Bathsheba and sweeps her off her feet. 

The story moves along and never lags. The characters are well developed and well cast. The scenery and costumes are so well done. There is one small "stumble" in the introduction of Sergeant Troy into her life that I found a little random, but then I do not hold that against the film.

The original version of the movie was made in 1967 with Julie Christie, Alan Bates and Terence Stamp. However, I never saw it or heard of it before so I can offer no comparisons.

I fear say more lest I spoil the story. Some critics panned it. A.O. Scott of The New Times was less than enthused but then when is Mr. Scott ever enthused with much, other than himself?

It is 119 minutes I highly recommend. 

I'm Still Waiting

There is a code among campers, an unspoken understanding of how you treat one another - an honor among those who seek the great outdoors. Some of these unwritten, rarely spoken but understood rules of the trail are:

  • always politely wave and smile as you walk past anothers campsite
  • if you must seriously study the quality, make, and model of anothers equipment never stare and only comment when you have a compliment or a question about their satisfaction with some piece of equipment
  • be quiet at night and respect other's peace 
  • always leave your campsite cleaner than you found it
  • be quick to offer assistance or be happy to share any equipment or supplies you may have that a fellow camper may need 
  • always be quick to offer to help any fellow camper who seems to be in distress of any kind
  • when using a shower at a campground keep in mind there are usually others waiting and be quick and efficient with your time
We have always followed these, after all having a good southern upbringing they pretty much come naturally. That said, not everyone shares that understanding or appreciation for their fellow camper. Take the last "understanding" for example. This is one that irritates me the most.

If you follow me, you know that I enjoy camping but I have one rule - I require access to a hot shower - daily. One of our favorite campgrounds is in a national park. It is an excellent place to go. The sites are well tended, shaded, and large. There are 60 tent only sites. This is all good. They only have one shower for each gender. ie there is only one shower for the women at 60 sites (which means a ratio of more than 75 to one for people doing physical activities -hiking, kayaking, etc- every day). 

After camping here many times, I have adopted a motto - the early bird gets the worm. Or, in this case, the woman who gets up early (around 5:30 or 6 am in the morning) has a good chance of getting a shower without a wait. This has been my practice for the past several years. And, it has served me well. Usually I find the bath house empty, sometimes there is someone finishing up, but worse case I never have to wait long. But even at that early hour, I am quick to get in and out less I make anyone else wait.

One morning while we were there I gathered my things at 5:30 and headed to the shower. When I opened the door I heard the shower running. Being prepared, I had brought something to read as I waited. The lady showering must have just started as I got there because she took a while. Then the shower stopped and she stuck her head around the corner. "Are you waiting for the shower?" she asked.


"Well, you may want to come back later I am going to be a while."

I just paused in sheer amazement. "No, I'll wait."

"Well I come early to shower."

"I do to. I learned that a while back given there are so many women having to use this one shower."

"As I said you may want to come back later, I hate to make you wait but I take long showers."

Not to be intimidated I smiled and said, "I have something to read I'll wait."

I could tell this did not please her, but as far as I knew no one anointed her Queen of the Nile. If I left, it would just encourage her and God knows when I would get a shower. 

As Diana Ross sang "I'm Still Waiting".

Finally she finished. When she came out I could tell she still was not happy. But I held my own and smiled. The worse thing, there was little doubt in my mind she felt entitled and that I had bothered her. I don't think it dawned on her that even though she got to the shower at 5:15 or whatever time, she was still not entitled to that attitude. All she had to do was say something like, "Oh, I didn't realize anyone was waiting. I'll be right out." Had she had said that, I would have thought nothing of the amount of time she took. 


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Little Lord Fauntleroy

I don't get my knickers in a knot when I receive a wedding invitation that is not engraved or is pink or purple - to each their own. And, I am past the point of worrying about one using initials in the address in lieu of full names. I realize folks these days are busy and don't have the time or are not willing to take the time to get their guests' full names.

However I do find it, especially in the South, unnerving when the forms of addresses are incorrect. One of  my pet peeves (to borrow a favorite phrase from my Mama) is the use, or rather misuse of the title "Master". Addressing a young boy as "Master" evokes portraits of the little one dressed as Little Lord Fauntleroy.

And usually, when someone refers to their son or grandson as such they have no doubt subjected the young lad to a portrait sitting costumed in the required get up of velvet breeches and a wide lacy Victorian collar. I dear say some may still be in therapy due to such get up and humiliation.

Amy Vanderbilt stated "that in the USA, unlike the UK, a boy can be addressed as master only until age eight, then is addressed only by his name with no title until he turns 18, when he takes the title of Mr. although it is not improper to use Mr. if he is slightly younger. "Mstr." is used as a prefix for boys on the UK Passport Service online application form." 

Robert Hickey, deputy director of the Protocol School of Washington, stated that "use of Master [as] an honorific when addressing boys is considered old fashioned outside of conservative circles."

Basically in the United States, the use of this term is considered honorific at best and old fashion at worst. In my estimation (ie my humble opinion) it is arrogant. Little boys should just be little boys. John McCall Pillaster VI, should just be that, John McCall Pillaster VI - isn't that enough. 

And, yes, little girls are still referred to as "Miss" until they are married or choose "Ms." or become a doctor of some type. Perhaps unfair that McCall's little sister is "Miss Margaret Pinckney Pillaster" from the day she is born (in formal address) but such is life. 

So as I said, I only get my knickers in a knot when mothers dress their darling sons in them with the wide Victorian collars and then insist they are "Masters". If they want their little boys to be a "Master"they  should have been British and there they could have enjoyed the title until age 8. 

But then as my dear Aunty used to say, people in Hell wants ice water.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Still Crazy After all These Years

A few people have asked me when am I going to write another book. There is no easy answer. I simply have not considered that. Well, actually I have. However, several people in my life need to achieve room temperature before I can start on my next draft.

My dear Aunt Kat was very clear that I should never speak ill of those around me. My Aunty was quick to amend that with an irreverent, "Unless they cannot hear you." My pious Aunt J'Nelle would have told me it really did not matter because no one was going to read it any way.

I guess there was something to be said about having a little ol' blog that hardly anyone read. It was just my way of crying in the wilderness. It didn't matter what I said or who I talked about, the chances were slim or none they were going to read about it. After all my Mama was scared silly of the "Internets". And the other characters I spoke of in such an irreverent tone were either dead or had no idea what a Blog was. 

These days I am stopped in the grocery store, at dinner, at funerals, at the beach, and in the road with well meaning fans who are quick to comment about something I wrote that they found funny. Or something I mentioned that they could relate to. This was all well and good until a certain several folks commented about how much they enjoyed reading the Blog. Little did they know that some of the stories were thinly veiled references to them. 

It was very fortuitous that they let me know they were readers because, well let's just say they may not have been cotton to find themselves front and center in one of my posts. But truth be told, I can't help what people do. Some folks just don't have a sense of humor when their indiscretions are shared. But I digress.

So now I am awaiting the timely demise of some characters in my life before I can proceed with any more epistles. Someone once said that us southerners don't hide our family secrets. I totally agree, we open the closets and watch the skeletons dance. But everyone has that family member who is crazier than a ding bat, that neighbor who is two bricks shy of a load, or knows that lady at church who would drive a Baptist minister to drink hard liquor in public, in front of God and everyone. 

These folks are so unique, so over the top, that there is no way to tell their story, to refer to their issues, or even mention them by some other name without Hell and half of Georgia (or at least everyone in town) knowing exactly who you are referring to. But I'm taking notes in the mean time.

After all, Mrs. Hewett, my Girl Scout leader, always told me to be prepared.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Vanity Fair, Fake or False

There are always the reunion cliches.  The car commercial where the nerdy class member shows up at the reunion driving the latest high end sports car. The crowd parts, with a murmur, as he enters the room. The men are in envy and the women swoon (most of whom would never have given him the time day in high school). 

Or there is the former overweight ugly duckling, who thanks to the latest weight loss product, is shown looking in the mirror with great satisfaction as she walks out of her house. Her entrance into the high school gym under the "Welcome Back Class" banners also garners much attention, especially from her former classmates, many who have put on the familiar middle age pounds. Ah, we can all dream. 

I can remember a sorority reunion fifteen years after graduating college. Twenty five or so of my sorority sisters and I rented beach houses for a long weekend. I was looking forward to a fun time. One of my best friends and I were some of the first to show up. Since it was just us girls I kept it simple and packed my swim suit, shorts, t-shirts, and a sundress  - for the one dinner we planned to have at a local seafood place. Nothing fancy for a simple weekend at the beach with old friends. 

Or so I thought. The weekend was fun and I was amazed at how well the group had aged and prospered. Out of the 25 of us, only 3 had to work, all but two were married, one was a widow, and one was divorced. There was a plethora of kids aged from newborn to teenagers - of course most had pictures. The group as a whole was well tanned, fit and slim, and extremely well dressed. The parking lot was full of Mercedes, Lexuses, Infinities, Range Rovers and the like. 

The following week, I was on the phone with my friend doing a postmortem of the weekend. "Well I guess I did not make a very good impression with that group."

My friend just laughed. "I wouldn't say that. You realize most of those cars were rented for the weekend. Several of those girls had some "work" done last year as soon as we planned the reunion. I know for a fact 4 of them have been on starvation diets for months and I have never seen most of them dress like that. And I seriously doubt any of those tans came from anywhere but a tanning bed."

I was shocked. "Maybe I did not take the weekend seriously enough. I thought it was just a weekend at the beach with friends. I didn't get the memo I needed Hertz, a personal trainer, a stylist, and a plastic surgeon to prepare for it."

"Neither did I, but whatever. You and I had a good time and spent a lot less time, effort, and stress preparing for it."

Even so, I always wondered what my sisters went home from that weekend thinking about me. There I was in my t-shirt and shorts, pasty white skin, driving a Toyota and not thinking a thing about it - clueless to the parade of the pretension and vanity was all around me.