Jury Duty and “Lady Bird”

On Tuesday morning I had to report to the Gadsden County Court Annex for jury duty. Looking around at the 60 or so folks assembled in the courtroom I figured I had a fairly good chance of avoiding being chosen to serve. They only needed six jurors and an alternate, after all, so what were the chances I’d be chosen?

Long story short, I was one of the first 18 people called forward, and then after the lawyers’ questions or voir dire (literally “to speak the truth”) I was one of the lucky ones selected to serve on a trial this week. That’s all I can say, other than, “crap.”

We didn’t have to report until Thursday, and since I had a free afternoon on Tuesday, and Studly Doright was out of town, I decided to go see the film, Lady Bird. I’m so glad I did.

Lady Bird struck so many chords. I saw myself in the mom, played brilliantly by Laurie Metcalf, and in the quirky daughter, played by Saoirse Ronan. I giggled and cried and laughed out loud. There were moments so heartbreakingly familiar that I cringed. I wanted to wrap both mother and daughter in my arms and hug the hurt away.

I want my daughter to see this film. And someday, I want my granddaughters to see Lady Bird. It’s about as honest a portrayal of mother/daughter relationships as I’ve ever seen, and that’s the truth. Wonderful.

Call your mom. Hug your daughter. Give yourself a pat on the back. We’re all doing the best that we can.

Peace, people.

Addendum: The trial was fairly cut and dried on Thursday, and I was home by noon. Civic duty done.

Loco for Coco

With Studly Doright out of town on Wednesday evening I treated myself to a movie that I was fairly certain he’d never go see in a theatre. It was a spur of the moment decision to go, and I was still trying to choose which film I wanted to see when I approached the ticket kiosk.

It came down to a tossup between three movies: the third Pitch Perfect movie, the one about Winston Churchill, and the Pixar film, Coco. In the end I chose Coco because it had an earlier starting time.

Coco was wonderful from start to finish. I’m no movie reviewer because I’m such a pushover, but I’d put this film up against anything I’ve seen in many years. The music is wonderful, the animation is outstanding, and the story so sweet that the grandmother sitting next to me sobbed as much as I did through the last five minutes.

On that note, I must warn you that the story is pretty intense and might be hard for some children to handle. Plus, there are dead people in it. Well, dead cartoon people, but it might be a bit scary for some young viewers.

Let me know if you’ve seen Coco. I’d like to discuss it with others.

But What About Ewoks?

While Studly Doright had to work today I took myself to see the newest offering in the Star Wars universe. I’m a big Star Wars fan and can quote much of the dialogue from episodes IV, V, and VI (the original trilogy) by heart. I’ve seen every Star Wars film more than once–even episodes I, II, and III (the second, rather misguided trilogy.)

I’ve been pleased so far with the newer films: Rogue One and The Force Awakens. Unlike the second trilogy these films felt true to the original saga. The gritty Rogue One was especially satisfying after the whole Jar Jar Binks years, and I am totally enamored of the main characters in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Rey, Finn, and Poe are as good as Leia, Luke, and Han.

Now, having said all that, this latest film, while good, and full of great action sequences, special effects, and quick dialogue, felt a little too Disney-esque to me. Don’t get me wrong. I love Disney as much as I love pepperoni pizza. Maybe more, but I don’t want to be distracted by overly cute animals in my Star Wars films or in my pepperoni pizza. And don’t even equate the Ewoks from Episode VI with the cutesy animals in The Last Jedi. Ewoks were warriors!

I’m not saying The Last Jedi wasn’t worth seeing; it just wasn’t as fulfilling as I’d hoped. Maybe I’m jaded. Maybe I’ve grown up. (Studly Doright laughed when I read that out loud.) At any rate, I need to see it again. I’ve got dialogue to memorize. And who knows, maybe those cutesy animals will grow on me.

Peace, people.

Battle of the Sexes

Every now and then it’s good to remember that even though women are still fighting battles to control our own bodies we have come a very long way on the road to equality. The film Battle of the Sexes starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell as tennis stars, Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, provides viewers with some pointed reminders of just how far we’ve progressed, and who we should thank for that progress.

I remember watching the hype leading up to the big match between King and Riggs, as well as sitting glued to the tv to view their epic match from start to finish. I was 16 when Riggs and King faced off on the court. My family made a big deal of the match and my dad said from the beginning he thought Billie Jean would beat Bobby Riggs. Is it any wonder why Daddy was my hero?

The movie recreates the vibe of the 70’s perfectly: The hair, the clothing, the music, the misogyny. Carell and Stone are wonderful in their roles. I give this film 10 thumbs up. Yes. Ten. I’m not much of a movie reviewer, but I know what I like.

Peace, people!

Who’s That Girl?

Studly Doright and I watch a good many movies. New movies, old movies, funny movies, action movies, we like them all. Well, Studly doesn’t care for horror flicks, but everything else is fair game.

Studly is extremely gifted in the art of identifying actors in different roles. We will be watching a movie and he’ll lean over and whisper, “That’s Idris Elba,” and I’ll say, “No way.” He’ll insist and I’ll refute until I break down and google the answer. Sure enough, that’s Idris.

When I watch a movie I become so immersed in the story that the actor ceases to be an actor and morphs into the character he or she is portraying. But every now and then I’m the one who spots the actor, and when I do I celebrate with cries of jubilation. Last night was one of those nights.

We were watching an older movie on television and a fresh young actress seemed vaguely familiar. I turned to Studly and said, “That’s Mary Steenburgen!”

“No way!” He said.

“Is too!” I claimed. Quickly I googled the film and gave a triumphant shout. My victory was short lived though when he realized the male actor was Jack Nicholson and I argued with him. And of course, it was Jack.

I guess I’ll never be ahead for very long. Oh well, he doesn’t look nearly as good in a dress as I do.

Two Movies in Two Days

If I had a fortune I’d spend all my time traveling to exotic places, but I don’t so I do the two next best things: read and go to movies. 

On Sunday my friend, Lee Ann, and I went to see La La Land. I’d had some reservations about the film based on feedback online. With the opening number all my doubts were erased. It’s a gorgeous film with fun music. 

Ryan Gosling is handsome and adorable, while Emma Stone melts my heart. No wonder it’s the odds on favorite to win best picture honors at the upcoming Oscars. Yes, the choreography is just so-so, and Gosling and Stone aren’t the greatest vocalists, but I left the theater with a smile on my lips and a desire to dance to my car. Lee Ann discouraged me from doing that.

On Monday all of our company returned to Indiana, and Studly Doright had to go to Orlando for work. Left all alone I was antsy after the active weekend, so I took myself to see the film, Lion. Another best picture nominee, Lion is by turns heartbreaking and hopeful. 

Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman perform beautifully in their respective roles as an adoptee from an Indian orphanage and his adoptive mom. The gorgeous Rooney Mara plays Dev’s love interest. But the scene stealer, without a bit of artifice in his performance, is Sunny Pawar who plays the young version of Patel’s character, Saroo. 

I’ve now seen three of the six best picture nominees. Including the two mentioned above I’ve seen Hidden Figures, not once but twice. I’ve no desire to see Hacksaw Ridge, but both Fences and Hell or High Water are still on my wish list. Who knows, maybe I’ll chase those down this weekend. Unless I win the lottery. If that happens, I’m hitting the road.

Peace, people.

What We Lost

Studly Doright was out of town much of last week. My days were busy, but my nights were long and empty without my favorite guy here to make sure the tv was set either on American Pickers or Sports Center. I find that I’m not nearly as fluent in the art of Remote Control Manipulation as Studly.

On Wednesday evening I took myself to see Hidden Figures, a film about the importance of a group of African American women as human computers at NASA in the early 1960’s, and the obstacles they faced while simply trying to do their jobs. 

Because they were Black, these women weren’t allowed to use any restrooms other than the one in their wing of the building, often necessitating long, frantic walks to take care of basic needs. Because they were Black, they couldn’t get coffee from the communal pot in their office. Because they were Black and female they weren’t allowed to sit in on critical meetings, even when their presence might have resulted in quicker solutions.

This is a good film, and it made me furious. It should make all of us furious. When I think of all we have lost as a nation because we refused to recognize the abilities, the talents, the intelligence of all people regardless of race or gender I want to scream. 

Who knows what diseases might have been cured, what inventions developed, if society hadn’t been so intent on excluding women in general and women of color in particular from full participation in society?

And what groups of people are we excluding now? What groups do we try to keep in their place? Oh, maybe there aren’t separate restrooms anymore, but our new commander-in-chief would love to discriminate against Mexican Americans and Muslim Americans. He treats women as chattel to be grabbed as needed. 

My rant is over, but this argument isn’t. Get pissed off. Don’t allow trump to segregate or alienate or exclude any group of people because of his fears, his insecurities. 

Now I’m going to master that damned remote control. If a group of women could figure out how to put men in space and safely bring them back to earth, I can surely figure out how to efficiently switch between multiple channels in order to avoid commercial interruptions.

Peace, people.

Whistle Stop Cafe

Studly Doright bought a new old motorcycle as a gift to himself for his upcoming birthday necessitating a quick trip to Atlanta, Georgia, on Friday evening. About 50 miles outside of Atlanta I saw a billboard for the Whistle Stop Cafe, made famous in Fannie Flagg’s novel, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe and the film, Fried Green Tomatoes. 


I’ve read the book more than once, and I’ve seen the movie enough times to be able to quote entire lines of dialogue from memory, so being something of a kid I began an earnest campaign for us to make a side trip to the cafe on our return to Doright Manor on Saturday.

“Please, oh please, oh please can we visit? I want to yell ‘Towanda!’ at the top of my lungs and eat fried green tomatoes!”

Studly, being the patient man he is grumbled something like, “Hmmmph.”

I took that to mean, “Certainly, sweetheart, whatever makes you happy!”

Of course he was driving in Atlanta traffic at the time, so my interpretation might’ve been off by a word or two.

We spent the night in Atlanta, picked up the motorcycle, which happily met Studly’s expectations, at 10 a.m., and then plugged the address for the Whistle Stop Cafe in Juliette, GA, into the GPS. 

Juliette is about 55 miles south and slightly east of Atlanta, nestled in the gently rolling farmland and forests of southeastern  Georgia. Turning into its main street felt like stepping back in time.


Studly and I arrived just in time for lunch. That’s his “new” ’72 Yamaha R5 in the photo.


For an appetizer we had the famous fried green tomatoes. So delicious!


The cafe isn’t large, so be prepared to wait for a table should you ever visit. Studly and I sat at the horseshoe shaped lunch counter. 

He had fried chicken and I ordered grilled catfish and a glass of sweet tea. Both meals were seasoned and cooked to perfection. The prices were reasonable as well.


I kept expecting Idgy and Ruth to come strolling in the door.


After lunch I wandered around main street for a bit, but I knew Studly was eager to get his purchase home to see if it would run. I did buy a brand new Brighton bag, retail price $145 that I bought for ten dollars before we started home to Doright Manor. That was my Towanda moment. Here’s Kathy Bates with hers:

https://youtu.be/lx0z9FjxP-Y

Peace, people!

Whisky Tango Foxtrot Meets Tarzan

 

Tina Fey
 
Saturday evening Studly Doright and I stayed in to watch a movie on On Demand. He’d played golf all day in 100° heat, and couldn’t muster the energy to wade through noisy theater crowds to see the new Tarzan movie, but promised we could go on Sunday.

After perusing the On Demand offerings we quickly settled on Whisky Tango Foxtrot, starring Tina Fey. Based on a true story, WTF follows the exploits of war correspondent Kim Barker, played by Fey, who risks life and limb to get her stories on camera while embedded with Marines in Afghanistan. In the film Barker befriends fellow reporter and rival, Tanya Vanderpoel, played by Margot Robbie. 

Studly and I enjoyed the movie which didn’t do terribly well at the box office. WTF was gritty fare, not Fey’s normal comedy genre, although there were amusing scenes. Billy Bob Thornton is good as the officer in charge of the Marines who comes to show grudging respect for Fey’s character.

On Sunday afternoon Studly kept his promise and took me into Tallahassee to see the newest rendition of the Tarzan saga, in 3D no less. I believe I’ve written about Tarzan’s influence on my young life. Having spent many a Sunday morning in front of a black and white TV watching Johnny Weismuller wrestle lions and alligators, I felt like I’d been raised by apes, as well. So I was eager to see how this version stacked up.

I already had a mad crush on the newest Tarzan, Alexander Skarsgård of True Blood fame, but could he pull off the role of Lord Greystoke/King of the Apes? Oh yes. Ohhhh yes. (Excuse me while I fan myself vigorously) 

(Okay, I’m back) The rest of the cast was well chosen. Samuel L. Jackson and Cristoph Waltz were both major players. I didn’t know the young woman who played Jane; although, she looked so familiar. Where had I seen her before? 

Throughout the film I pondered that question. Whoever she was her character was the perfect match for Tarzan. Strong-willed and witty, she held her own against the bad guys, led by Waltz’s character.

When we returned to Doright Manor I googled the cast for Tarzan and realized why Jane looked so familiar. We’d just watched her in Whisky Tango Foxtrot the night before. The lovely and spunky Margot Robbie was Tarzan’s Jane. 

Tarzan, the film, was fun. Tarzan, the man, was hot. And Margot Robbie, it seems, is everywhere. See WTF. See Tarzan

 

Alexander Skarsgård