Southern Way

Southern Way

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

End of the Tour - a Movie Review

Rarely do I come to the end of a film and walk out of the theater with one thought - Wow! that was a great film. It was not a great comedy or some coming of age story. It was not an epic period piece with a cast of thousands or scifi with computer aided effects that are unbelievable. The End of the Tour is an excellent movie. It is well cast with Jesse Eisenburg playing the role of David Lipsky, the Rolling Stones reporter who is interviewing David Foster Wallace, who is played by Jason Segel, just after Wallace's novel "Infinite Jest" was released to insane critical acclaim. 

It is the true story of this interview between two very unlikely people over a period of five days based on the book by the same name written by Lipsky. Lipsky, a writer himself - although not nearly as successful at that time - at first sees Wallace as someone to be idolized. After all Wallace has done what all writers dream of - wrote and published a book that is reviewed as one the of  masterpieces of the 19th and 20th centuries. His editor does not know whether Wallace is man or myth given all the stories about his checkered past. Lysky's  first contact with Wallace is anything but friendly, when Wallace tells him to lose his phone number.

But soon the two settle into a relationship although Wallace is very complicated and private. He is terrified of fame and the power it may have. Lipsky's questions at the same time intrigue and scare Wallace. He fears how Lipsky may word the article and characterize his quotes to show him in some untrue way. Lipsky assures him that is not so and plows on. Segel plays Wallace as a big hulking character trying to fit into a world both not his size and that he is unsure of. While Lipsky is very small and lithe and easily makes his way around. Wallace can be endearing but is socially awkward and the price of fame is almost more than he can bare.

One cannot help but feel for Wallace's tragic figure. He let Lipsky come into his world and in some ways his worse fears came to bare- although, many only in his mind. When your mind is so big and your world is so small, it is not hard for there to be constant battles going on.

I knew the basic story line and characters before I went to see the film. But Eisenburg and Segel put so much emotion and energy into the characters - often just with subtle looks and few words. The dialogue is well written, the conversations and thoughts flow, and nothing is wasted.  They played off each other well. There was electricity between them that sparked at times and was charged at other times. When it was all over, the story was played out so that I walked away knowing a lot more about the two authors and a little more about me. 

Yes, Wallace died way too young. But this gives us more of an insight into the brilliance of the man and also how complicated he was. Genius is often troubled. 

As a comic aside, Joan Cusak has a great role playing Patty the lady the publicist has assigned to drive Wallace around on the last stop of his tour. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

I Like Girls That Drink Beer

Ah, gentle readers I have not abandoned ship. I have been traveling. My DH and I took a lovely trip to Coral Gables and saw how the 10% lived - very nicely in case you ever wondered. 

Then my girl friends and I took several days to enjoy the cooler temperatures of the NC mountains. And, in visiting Asheville, I found myself on streets not dissimilar to Haight-Ashbury of the 60's. There was free love among the young people. I almost stumbled across a young man and his dog sitting on the sidewalk, guitar in hand, with a hand made sign - "Living on Poetry". 

The hotel we were staying in had a lovely large patio with large sofas and chairs of overstuffed cushions. Each afternoon, we would make ourselves at home around 3:30 or 4, to solve the problems of the world or discuss whatever came to mind or nothing. 

Having traveled together many times - we come prepared. We would set up camp with a small cooler of Coronas and limes, a bottle of wine, chips, crackers, cheeses, olives, and an assortment of gourmet meats. Needless to say, no one else was as "prepared" as we were. The other guests would wonder out with a drink or two from the bar inside and find a chair while we unabashedly enjoyed ourselves.

Now being good southern women, we were quick to offer our smorgasbord to anyone who looked interested. We got a few takers. Most folks were not sure what to make of us. Needless to say they found us most entertaining.

Friday evening as we sat on the patio, reflecting on life, our day, the future of the universe and men - in general, we noticed a large party of people gathering at the other end. After some time, it was clear this was a wedding party, most likely the rehearsal party. And, it was a group of extremely good looking young folks - all well mannered, well dressed, and well to do. 

Soon a young lady called everyone forward and introduced the Bridal Director - aha, we were correct. Then we realized, this was not the rehearsal party - this was the rehearsal. They were fixing ready to have the wedding rehearsal right there in front of God and everyone - including the three of us and our cocktail spread. Since there had been no sign saying the patio was closed and other folks (unconnected to the group) were milling about, we assumed that we were not interfering - so we sat back for the show. 

After some wrangling - that resembled herding cats, the procession started- down the "aisle" and we had a front row seat right at the "alter". The first group came down and a lady about our age, turned to us and asked if she could sit in one of the chairs in our area. Naturally we welcomed her. Since there was still some mass confusion with the director trying to get the groomsmen to settle down, she looked at me, smiled and said, "God that beer looks good."

I was quick to offer her one. "Oh, no, I couldn't do that?"

"And, why not?" Before she could answer that I had a cold bottle out of the cooler, had put a slice of lime it, and handed it to her. She just smiled and took a long sip.

"Oh, that is so good. By the way I am the mother of the bride."

I immediately smiled at her and said, "Bless you my child." She went to say that they were from North Carolina but the groom's family was from Chicago and this was a destination wedding. The ceremony itself was at a farm outside of town. We continued our visit  while the rehearsal went one. She continued to enjoy her beer and thank us for it.

When the rehearsal was over, she insisted on getting a picture of us and introducing us around to the family. I had snapped a few cell phone shots of the rehearsal, just to prove I have not made the story up. 



When I posted the pictures on Facebook with a comment, "We were enjoying our adult beverages and found ourselves in the middle of a wedding rehearsal", I got several comments. My favorite was from my sister-in-law who said she had heard of wedding crashers, but never rehearsal crashers.

Whatever, I felt it was a good deed for a MOB. No doubt she enjoyed that cold beer and that moment of sanity shared with women away from the trauma of her daughter's wedding. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Send in the Clowns

My darling granddaughter is one year old. My how time flies. Just a year ago, we were waiting by the phone with bated breath for that call to pack our bags and come to the hospital. Now we have a walking, talking (well 2 or 3 words), joyous little girl. 

And with the upcoming coming anniversary comes the First Birthday Party - the Grand Fete. My daughter, the consummate hostess, will no doubt do a good job balancing the family, the neighbors, and the kids without going over the top.

I remember 30 years ago when my DH and I planned her First Birthday Party. One of our good friends had a son who was born 10 days before our daughter. The mother being older, this being her third marriage, and the father already having three sons of his own,  knew this was going to be her only child. So, needless to say, her world revolved around him.

My daughter and I attended his party a week or so before we had hers. Being the end of May in the deep south, it was warm - very warm, so she had the party around the neighborhood swimming pool. We entered the gate to find wrought iron ice cream parlor tables set-up with chairs around each decorated with multiple balloons. 

There was a table where someone was serving ice cream for all the kids. There were hot dogs and chips for everyone as well lemonade. Several areas were set aside for different games that were going on simultaneously. On a far table was a cotton candy machine - and naturally someone there to whip a cone for anyone who wanted one. It was quite the circus. Needless to say everyone was having a grand time. What else could the kids want?

Why did I ask? About that time the gate opened and to everyone's delight in walked several ponies for the kids to ride. Ice cream, games, hot dogs, lemonade, cotton candy, and a pony rides - a child's wonderland. And to think just the following week - every single year - my child's birthday party was going to follow this grand gala. I could only imagine what it would escalate to as he got older. 

I made the mistake of describing the earlier party to my father who doted on my daughter. His first response was, "Well of course she can have ponies. We can have clowns and . . ." 

I begged him to stop the madness - which really hurt his feelings. Knowing him, if I didn't curtail those ideas now, God only knows what he would come up with. After all this was the man who hosted a Halloween party for me when I was 6. There he had dry ice in a cauldron in the basement of my house with someone dressed as a hag to ensure the "ambiance" was realistic. 

Then when I was in high school he set up a policeman to act as if I was being arrested on my own hayride party in town. At age 15 he threw a surprise wonderful "Sweet 15" party for me with all friends. When someone told him it was sweet "16" not "15", he just threw another surprise party the next year to get it right. The man was all about entertaining.

So I  tried to plan my daughter's event keeping the earlier party out of my mind. I had no intention of getting into a birthday party war with my friend. So we just had a backyard hamburger cookout with loads of friends and family and their children. A grand time was had by all and at age one, my daughter never knew there wasn't a pony. Although the entire time I listened (with fear) for the sounds of a circus band leading the whole show into my back yard. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Course Heading, Captain?

The replacement router is in - that is the good news. It has a new 12 digit alpha numeric password. My DH gave me a typed sheet that had the names and passwords to the three WiFi systems in the house. Yes, the T-Mobile server operates on 2 frequencies - Joy. However it it is the 5GHz that runs fastest and jumps highest.

I know we are only talking about networks and connections. My devices simple need to know which way they need to point and the magic password to open the door. 

I sat down and updated my laptop. That was not hard. I updated my phone - no sweat. I went to my printer and it did not seem to find the new WiFi system, so I manually entered it. Keep it mind this is a painful process - for example to enter an upper case "E", one has to select the "3" key and smash it 5 times - d,e,f,D,E..... and then continue on to enter the name of the network which has 24 digits (alpha numeric, upper case, lower case, and with characters). After that the password needs to be entered.

I did this 3 times with no success. Finally my DH appeared at my office door in response to my screams and moans. Only then did he share that, oh by the way, "Your printer may be like mine and not recognize the 1st T-Mobile system and need to be on the 2nd."

Yes, that being the case, I was able to set the printer up. The printer was connected to the WiFi. Unfortunately, my laptop did not get the memo and, although my printer indicated all was well and it was communicating with the mother ship - my laptop failed to recognize its presence.  I'll spare you the details of the following extremely frustrating hour of my life.

By days end, all my devices were connected to one network or another. Hopefully this was going to be the end of my WiFi nightmare. After all, with multiple networks any device could now easily connect to another system should the initial system go down. Come to think of it, it as if my entire life is now run by WiFi networks controlled by the Mother ship - the modem. That's a little much.

I crawled into bed, turned on my iPad to check my email and the news and turned out the light. After I had made sure that the world had not blown up - it had not. There was nothing earth shattering in my email - there wasn't.  I wasn't interested in reading any of the digital books I had so I turned it off, put it on my bedside table, and settled in for long summer's nap.

Suddenly I was aware of a series of bright green lights coming from the upper corner of our bedroom. It eerily reminded me of some scene from a Stephen King novel. I then remembered my DH saying that he was going to mount the new modem in our bedroom to give it optimal reach to the end of the house. I closed my eyes and tried to sleep but those green lights seemed to pierce through everything. I turned over so my back was to that wall. The face of my clock radio reflected the light.

Even at night the mother ship watches.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Ricki and the Flash - a Movie Review

Meryl Streep is the ultimate thespian chameleon. Perhaps this is why any decent female actor fears that the year she has an Oscar worthy performance Meryl will simply make a movie. That said Ricki and the Flash, Meryl's latest film doesn't quite flash so much with the critics. 

Meryl plays Ricki (aka Linda) a mom of three who left her family for LA and her dreams to be a rock star. Fast forward, her husband Pete (Keven Klein) has moved on, done very well financially and married again. Her three kids have grown up, reared by their step mom, Mareen (Audra McDonald).  Meanwhile Ricki's dream has not worked out so well. She and her group are the house band in a small bar in LA. During the day she works in grocer. She is flat broke and having commitment issues with her lead guitarist Greg (Rick Springfield) who is the voice of reason and madly in love with her.

Pete calls her home to deal with their daughter Julie (played by Mamie Gummer - Streep's real life daughter) whose husband has walked out on her causing her to spiral into depression. The rest one can imagine. Ricki has to face her past - what she left and lost and what she has become. The family has to deal with her showing back up and their pent up feelings.

All the touchy feely aside - which I must say is thankfully dealt with in a humane way to the audience without too much gnashing of teeth, reliving the past, and drama. Yes, there is emotion and the raw pain, loss, and guilt but thanks to Diablo Cody (who also wrote "Juno") and the direction of Jonathan Demme ("Silence of the Lambs") the audience and the family is navigated through the angst without much trauma. 

Streep did all her singing and plays the  rhythm guitar - something she mastered after months of preparation. (Once again something only an actor of Meryl's professional dedication would take on to make the character better.) The chemistry between Ricki and Greg is real and sweet. Gummer plays the role of the depressed wronged daughter very well often throwing lines into conversations like daggers in a fight. Then standing back with no emotion watching the battle ensue. 

I particularly like the role of son Josh's fiancee Emily (Hailey Gates) who plays this primpy bitch who is appalled by the sight of Ricki. Emily looks as if she wants to shrink is disgust every time Ricki is around,  She truly sees her as a freak of nature and wishes she would disappear before Ricki ruins her wedding. 

Unlike some of the critics who said it didn't quite pull through. I enjoyed the movie. True it wasn't Meryl's best film, but it was heads and tails better than "Hope Springs" and I even thought a tad better than "It's Complicated". She was able to bring an edgy aging voice still having talent, a vulnerable side telling her emotions often with just the countenance of her face or the raising of an eye brow, and pull off the entire movie wearing those God awful boots and that funky hairstyle as only so unbelievably talented Meryl Streep can.

But she had help. Kevin Klein played his role well as the stoic abandoned husband obviously still infatuated with his former wife. Rick Springfield was brilliant as the ever supportive Greg with great lines like (paraphrased) "Where ever we sit will be the cool table", when Ricki learns that the bride has relegated her to the back table with the harpist at the wedding instead of the family table.  

It will not garner her an Oscar but it keeps Ms. Streep  at the top of the game. Who else can sing and play rhythm guitar as a rock and roller and pull it off with such aplomb while playing her role in a film. It is enjoyable, heart warming, and funny and well worth your 101 minutes. After all don't we go to the movies to be entertained.

All I ask of You

Like many married couples, my DH and I have differences of opinions. One example is rearranging furniture in the den (like the typical woman, if I can change my mind, why can I not as easily move the sofa? Another issue is sushi, I love it, he calls it bait. To each their own. But I digress.

He is 6'4" tall, I am but 5'2". Normally this is not an big issue (no pun intended). Sure the location of the driver's seat in the car is always a mild point of contention. However, the folks pictured below have caused some words between us, not the people personally. Let me explain.


   

          

  

We like to go to the movies. Many we see are shown in the giant megaplexes with stadium seating. While I generally like to sit on one of the higher rows in the middle, my DH prefers (ie we always) sit on the end of the last (top) row in the theater.

There are also the many films we see in smaller independent art houses. These offer a more intimate setting and usually serve beer and wine in addition to the traditional fare of Coca-cola and popcorn. They also have smaller theaters that are not as sloped as the megaplexes. These art houses also (for some odd reason) do not "stagger" their seats. In other words, the seat in front of you is not a situated a bit to the side so you look between two seats. No, you look directly at the person in front of you.

Well - over the person in front of you, unless - you got it - they sport a bee hive hair do or are very tall. Being height challenged either of the former present an issue for me. To make it worse, by sitting in the far back corner, I have to look diagonally across many rows to see the screen. Without much slope, I have to overlook whatever hairdos or heads are taller than I am. It doesn't take much to qualify. For my DH, this is not a problem.

This pass weekend we were sitting waiting for the film to start. I was praying that no one would choose the seats directly in front of us so I would be able to actually see the movie. The trailers were about finished and I had breathed a sigh of relief, when a lady with a large hair-do and her very tall companion settled into those seats.

Instead of trying to sit on my knees, or sit in a contortionist position looking around the patron in front of me, I just turned to my DH and said, "I have to move. You do not have to go with me but I cannot sit here." 

As I moved down the aisle, he followed. I settled into a seat on the third row. Although the characters just thirty feet or so before me were large, there was nothing between me and the silver screen. My DH, on the other hand, made some comment to the effect of this not being his favorite. 

I would never equate myself to someone with a life challenging issue as those relegated to the "Handicapped", "Disabled" or "Challenged" - whatever PC title they give it these days - seats down front. However, perhaps they should add a few seats in the back of these theaters, each raised a bit (or a bit more). Reserve them for those of us with short statute so we can have an equal view of the screen without having to sit with necks crooked back, eyes blinded by the light and strained by the mammoth characters on the screen. 

Of course given the choice I would choose the sore neck, blinding light, and strained eyes to enjoy the film over the view of the back of someones neck or the glow of the film as a halo around a "stunning" large hairdo. I can always buy the soundtrack later. It is the film I came to see. Operative word there being "see". Is this too much to ask?

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Why Can't We Be Friends

I am on my computer a lot. I keep my checking account on a spread sheet. My job search is mainly virtual. I shop online. I write this blog. You get the picture.

Several years ago, we got our first Time Warner router. And we got the super duper fast (as in Road Runner beats Wile Coyote fast) router. My DH always being one for security assigned the system a 14 digit alpha numerical password. It was secure. I could never remember the password, so I had to refer to my digital password holder each time I needed it. Every single solitary device that was online needed the password. This included my laptop, WiFi printer, iPad, bedside XM clock radio, the WiFi system on my phone, etc. Eventually everything was synced and secured. Life was good.

Then last October we changed our cell phone carrier to T-Mobile (and cut the bill in half). In doing so my DH picked up a new router. He thought it was an "interesting" device but questioned whether it was worth the trouble. That was until he read on C-Net that this device was the best thing since sliced bread, the Betsy Wetsy Doll, and Silly Putty. The reviewer said that it had a shelf price of $400 but T-Mobile customers could get it for almost nothing. Anyone on T-Mobile would be nuts not to use one according to them. Supposedly this provided superior WiFi service over any other router.

So, you guessed it, my DH installed the router replacing the Time Warner router. Of course by doing so the WiFi system now had a new name and a new password so in order to connect to the new system, all our devices had to be reset with the new system name and password. I was mildly annoyed - even though this password was only 12 digits in length.

Of course it wasn't long after that when my hard drive failed and I had to get a new one,  which required me to re-install many of the programs and applications on my laptop and reenter passwords.

Naturally as soon as I did that Microsoft downloaded their new bouncing baby - #10. And, contrary to everything Microsoft promised, some programs and applications were affected and yes, I found myself having to re-install applications and programs and - re-enter passwords.

Finally - I had a new hard drive - that was set-up. Windows 10 was installed and running (fairly) smoothly. The new T-Mobile router was installed and we were all synced (after entering the new 12 digit alpha numeric code) like those daisy carrying flower children on the hillside in that infamous Coca-Cola commercial we were singing in harmony. Life was good.

I went to Greenville to visit my daughter - and my dear precious granddaughter, who by the way in case you did not know is the smartest, most precious, and most beautiful child EVER born - just saying - last week. Friday evening I returned home and when I opened my laptop I was greeted with "Not Connected to the Internet". I did not have time to deal with the computer, I went to bed.

In bed, I opened my iPad to look at the news. All I could read on the screen was "Unable to connect to Wifi." This is when I emitted a primal scream. "Nooooooooo!"

I then learned that the T-Mobile router had some issue and my DH had to reinstall the Time Warner router (the one with the 14 digit alpha numeric password). So yes, my laptop, my iPad, my Wifi printer, clock radio,  Ipad, and cell phone had to be reprogrammed.

Then my DH explained - "But the good news is we are getting a replacement T-Mobile router in a few days so we will be able to re-install it soon."  

Aurghhhhhh!!!!!!

It is times like these when I yearn for my Daddy's Underwood typewriter, Mr. Hall's slide rule, and the US Postal Service. That my dear is a sad state of affairs. Why can't I just whisper nicely in each of my device's ear, "Play pretty, now. You hear."

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Feels so Good on a Magic Carpet Ride

Music makes the world go 'round and no doubt there have been minor skirmishes over what the best genre is, who the best artists are, who the best writer is (or was), etc. To each their own.

I was raised reared in a house with a lot of music. Aside from my Mama's personal piano concerts many afternoons, accompanied by her tumblers of bourbon and ginger ale, my Daddy had music going all the time. When they built our home in the early 60's, much to my mother's dismay, he installed (what was at that time) a state of the art sound system that piped music and radio into every room in the house. There was a centralized intercom system that allowed him to send tunes of his choice or programs from local radio stations throughout our home. 

Dad loved music - all types of music. So my early introduction was eclectic. He loved traditional country music - Hank Williams (Sr), Porter Wagoner, and Johnny Cash. I learned to dance to the big bands. There were LPs of Latin tunes, some classical, gospel, and R&B. When "Light" country came out, I learned all the words to songs by Glen Campbell, Lynn Anderson, and the like. 

It was not unusual to walk into our den to sounds of Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass. Dad's collection of Broadway show tunes were some of Mama's favorites. Dionne Warwick, the Carpenters, Tom Jones, BJ Thomas, and  pretty much anything Burt Bacharach wrote was very popular around the house. 

I always equate special memories with certain songs - tunes  I remember playing in the back ground during a given moment of my life. The evening I attended my first prom as a sophomore - I remember "Summer Breeze" by Seals and Croft. I can remember hearing "Tryin' to Get the Feeling" by Barry Manilow (I know, I Know it is what it is) playing as I waited up stairs for a special date to pick me up. Anytime I hear "This Girl's in Love" or "Lazy Crazy Days of Summer" I think of special times with my Daddy. "Mona Lisa" reminds me of trips to the beach. And Roger Miller's "King of the Road" brings back memories of the many cocktail parties Mama and Daddy had when I was little.

As I got older, I brought Carolina Beach music home and that was thrown into the mix. Daddy always told me, "There is so much more out there, so many more styles and artists." I found that hard to believe. We always had so much music, and Dad's collection cut such a broad swath I never thought much about it. I never cared for "acid" rock or hard core rock and roll, but like anyone of my age I grew up on the Doobie Brothers, Rod Stewart, the Eagles, and the Rolling Stones 

But I remember walking into a fraterny house one crisp fall afternoon my freshman year and hearing this wonderful horn. The music blasting from the windows was unlike anything I had ever heard. When I finally found the source, I was introduced to Chuck Mangione and his fluglehorn. Suddenly the lovely notes of "Feels so Good" would forever take me back to porch parties with dear friends. 

I am so grateful that as I get older there are these magical notes that trigger those memories and take me back to those times long gone. Music is the magic carpet that allows us to have those feelings - just a few times more, if only in our minds. So in my dotage all it takes is a few notes of an old tune and those memories tumble back from the recesses of my mind. Just hearing that flugelhorn brings back that crisp fall afternoon like it was yesterday and that is about as magic as it gets.