Friday, June 24, 2011

My Very First Blogger Award


Hi everyone!

I want to thank Jennifer at for presenting me with the Stylish Blogger Award.  Thank you so much:  I am honored.

The Rules:

1. Thank and link back to the person giving you the award.

2. Share 7 Things About Yourself.

3. Award 10-15 Blogs Who You Think Deserve This Award.

4. Contact these bloggers and let them know about the award.

7 Things About Me:

1. I am a mother of two:  a 29-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son.

2. I love reading and would do it to the exclusion of all else if I could.

3. My favorite foods are pizza and steak.

4. I like going to the movies almost as much as I like reading.  (I did say almost.)

5. I like watching my son play baseball.  Until he came along, I never watched any sports, but have now gone to many baseball, basketball, and even football games.

6. I am a very funny person.  In another life I was probably a stand-up comic or a court jester.

7. At one time I was fluent in German and French.  But that was many moons ago; I'd need to do some serious studying to brush off those skills.

My 11 Stylish Blogs I pass on this Award to are:












I feel like I've been pictured on the cover of The Rolling Stone.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Summer Movies

In the summer when living is easy I don't always liked to be challenged intellectually.  Most people pick out "beach reads" for their speed and ease of reading.  I prefer the movie equivalents.  All of these movies are set in summer and except for one or two are purely for pleasure.  If you've got any great summer movies of your own to add to the list, please leave a comment.
  1. The Seven Year Itch(1955).  A married man (Tom Ewell) whose family is away on vacation, is alone in the hot city fantasizing about the girl upstairs (Marilyn Monroe), who comes down to share his air conditioning.
  2. The Long, Hot Summer(1958).  Run out of one Mississippi town, con artist Ben Quick moves to another where he meets schoolmarm Clara Varner, daughter of the wealthiest man in town.  This is Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward's first movie together.
  3. Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation(1958).  Mr. Hobbs (Jimmy Stewart) wants a quiet vacation, but his getaway to the shore proves to be anything but.
  4. To Kill a Mockingbird(1962).  Gregory Peck is Atticus Finch, southern lawyer, who defends a black man against charges of rape.  I actually saw the movie before I ever read the book; they're both great.
  5. The Flim Flam Man  (1967).  Mordecai Jones (George C. Scott) takes a young army deserter (Michael Sarrazin) under his wing.
  6. In the Heat of the Night(1967).  Sidney Poitier plays a black Philadephia detective sent down to a racist southern town to assist in a murder investigation.
  7. Summer of 42 (1971).  A teenage boy falls in love with a 22-year-old woman (Jennifer O'Neill) whose husband is a soldier in the war.  Though today the woman would have to register as a sex offender, back when I saw it in 1971 the movie was really quite poignant.
  8. Jaws(1975).  The first blockbuster, this one will make you rethink spending the summer at the beach.
  9. National Lampoon's Vacation(1983).  The first of Chevy Chase's vacation movies, Vacation follows the Griswold family cross country to the Walley World theme park.
  10. Field of Dreams  (1989).  This is my favorite baseball movie, and I watch it every summer.
  11. My Girl(1991).  An eleven-year-old girl (Anna Chlumsky) obsessed with death shares a poignant summer with her best friend (Macaulay Culkin).
  12. Jurassic Park (1993).  Who wasn't scared witless when they saw this for the first time?
  13. Dazed & Confused(1993).  It's the first day of summer vacation for the soon-to-be seniors in the summer of 1976.  I, too, was a senior-in-waiting during the bicentennial summer, and this movie was a fun, nostalgic trip for me.  Look for a young Ben Affleck and Matthew McConaughey.
  14. Twister(1996).  I saw this tornado thriller when I was pregnant with my son.  It was so loud, he twisted and kicked throughout the movie.
  15. Independence Day(1996).  Truly the creepiest but most fun of all alien pictures.  Still pregnant, I had to endure my unborn son's kicks throughout this movie, too.
  16. Almost Famous(2000).  Cameron Crowe directs this semi-autobiographical movie about a high school boy cum rock journalist in the seventies covering a rock band's concert tour.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Circle Game

Today is my son's last day of middle school (sigh).  While he's more than ready for high school, I'm certainly not ready for him to be a high-school student.  Truth be told, I never really got over him starting nursery school.  Anyway, this summer (like all summers) he has a list of books to read, which he will have to write about when he gets into ninth-grade English:

Chasing Lincoln's Killer
Stuck on Earth
The Rock and the River
Swim the Fly
Watership Down: A Novel

Stuck on Earth, and The Rock and the River, both of which I've reviewed for my blog, and Chasing Lincoln's Killer are all good transitional books, but Swim the Fly and Watership Down are definitely high-school level.  Watership Down, which I'm currently reading, is a classic that has been taught in high school English classes since its publication in 1972.  (I don't know how it is that I have never read it until now, but better late.)  Although I will continue to review books for middle school readers, now that my son is entering high school and will be reading young adult books, I will occasionally make forays into young adult literature and review some of those books as well.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

He's Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business
by Dick Van Dyke
Crown Archetype
304 pages
ISBN:  0307592235

I have had a crush on Dick Van Dyke practically my whole life.  At the age of five I saw my first movie at the theater, Mary Poppins,starring Dick Van Dyke as Bert the chimney sweep.  About this time, I also started watching The Dick Van Dyke Show,which to this day is one of my favorite sitcoms.  Last fall I heard him guest star on an episode of NPR's Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!  Still funny as ever.  So naturally when I heard he'd written his memoir, My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business,I had to read it.

My Lucky Life in and Out of Show Business spans his life from his early days in Danville, Illinois to his current volunteer work with the homeless at the Midnight Mission on L.A.'s skid row.  Dick takes us behind the scenes of The Dick Van Dyke Show, one of the most innovative television sitcoms ever, his Broadway debut Bye Bye Birdie, and many of his movies, including his first, Bye Bye Birdie, and my first, Mary Poppins.

Dick writes of his many friends in the business, of his political involvement in the sixties, of his two great loves, Margie and Michelle, and of his addiction to cigarettes and alcohol.  One of the most amusing yet poignant antidotes in this memoir is that of Dick's friendship with Dinky the Chimp, who costarred with him in 1966 in Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N.  Though he's 85 now, Dick has never retired from entertaining:  He has a one-man show, performs with high school kids at a local fundraiser, sings with a musical quartet, The Vantastix, and occasionally still appears in movies.  I'll say this, 85 or not, Dick Van Dyke in a movie is as much of a draw for me today as it was back in 1964.