Saturday, June 25, 2016

MOVIE WEEKEND: LEARNING TO DRIVE

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

I love a movie with an uplifting conclusion, and Learning to Drive has exactly that (2014,  Rated R, Available on DVD and Amazon Streaming).


Patricia Clarkson is a great actress. I don't know if I first saw her in The Station Agent or Lars and the Real Girl, but she won me over right away. She can play sweetness and light or tormented or persnickety. You need it, Patricia Clarkson can do it.

In Learning to Drive, she's joined by no less than Sir Ben Kingsley, who plays Darwan, a Sikh Indian taxi driver and driving instructor who is troubled by his new, arranged marriage. Clarkson is Wendy, a book critic who is troubled by the sudden end of her longtime marriage and, perhaps even more important, her inability to drive.

Wendy lives in New York. Not driving has never been an issue because if her husband couldn't take her where she needed to go, she could take cabs or the subway. But then her daughter Tasha (Grace Gummer) wants Wendy to visit her at the farm where she has taken a temporary job, and where she has fallen in love. Wendy must learn to drive so she can make the journey to see her daughter.

Clarkson and Kingsley work together so well that they don't need to speak a great deal. Their emotions can be conveyed with a look or a few words. Learning to Drive, especially the relationship between Wendy and Darwan, never seems predictable to me. Instead, their emotional connection is touching, poignant, and amusing. Both characters need to learn to make other connections: Darwan with his new wife and Wendy with her daughter.

The movie also has a funny sexual escapade when Wendy goes on her first date after her marriage
breaks up, and she experiences Tantric sex. Oi!

Watch Learning to Drive for the screenplay and for the acting.

This movie is definitely not for children. I have no idea if it would interest older teens. I know Favorite Young Man wants to see it, but he's way past his teenage years. Perhaps I should dub him Favorite Older Man.

Learning to Drive earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Highest Approval. I first watched it on a DVD from Netflix. I'll watch it again on Amazon Prime Streaming.

Happy viewing with a happy ending!


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Friday, June 24, 2016

FLASHBACK FRIDAY

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Michael D'Agsotino of A Life Examined decided to start a new bloghop. It's called Flashback Friday––a time of the month where you can republish an old post of yours that maybe didn't get enough attention, or that you're really proud of, or you think is still relevant, etc. 


If you'd like to join us, we've decided to make this happen on the last Friday of every month. Enter your blog's name into the Linky List below and grab the code so you can put the list on your page and spread the word.

And Summer Will Not Come Again first appeared on my blog on June 12, 2010. You might recognize the title, as it's the same as that of a well-known short story by Sylvia Plath. Get a tissue to wipe your eyes a bit after you read this one. It's about Robin, a foster dog who lived with me briefly during the spring and summer of 2010.


Robin has come here to live.

Robin has come here to die.

Robin is some sort of bulldog mix. She has had I don't know how many litters of puppies. She has a terrible limp. She has a scar around her neck from being chained. Her ribs are sticking out.

And she has cancer. About four months to live, according to the vet.

My son's young lady love wants her to know what happiness is before she dies, and I think she already has it figured out.

Happiness is curling up in a chair in the family room and getting your tummy scratched.

Happiness is regular meals.

Happiness is a fenced in back yard where you can run with the other dogs and feel free but safe.

Happiness is batting at Mom's arm when she's reading to make sure Mom doesn't forget you for one second and you don't get in trouble for wanting attention.

Happiness is getting into Mom's bed at night and cuddling up as close to Mom as you can get.

I named her Robin because it is still spring. Summer will arrive soon, but right now, at this moment, it is still spring and the robins return in the spring.

So Robin has come to us during the spring. We will see her through the summer and care for her and give her all the love she wants and needs.

Then when fall arrives and it is time for the dying that precedes winter, we will see Robin through her death and we will make sure the death is as calm and gentle as possible.

Robin, you are loved.

Robin, this is what happiness is.

I am so glad you are here.



The first time I post Robin's story, it received four comments. It's gained more attention since then. It's one of my favorite posts, so that why I use it today. I still miss Robin.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Please join us!


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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

TIP TUESDAY: IT'S ABOUT TIME

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

This blog post is intended to help authors understand certain rules used for the publication of writing in a book. You need to know the rules in case you want to break them. Our source is the bible of the publishing industry, The Chicago Manual of Style, Sixteenth Edition. 

Beloved bloggers: Carry on as you were. It I understand your post, then it's fine.

Today we talk about time. An event occurs in your book during the 1950's. What have I done wrong?

It's the 1950s, or the fifities, or the '50s, but not the 50's. You can learn this by asking what the 1950's possesses? Does it have a xylophone or a row of duckies in the bathtub? Probably not, so get rid of that lame apostrophe in 50's.

As important as writing the time correctly is knowing that an apostrophe is not used when we write a plural, unless we intend ownership.

Margarita's are 2/$2.00. No, no, no, no. Why add the possessive to the plural of margarita? Who owns the maragita that I want?

Margaritas are 2/$2.00. Yes, I like that price.

Frozen strawberry with a sugar rim, please.

We'll talk about time more in upcoming TIP TUESDAYS.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

From the moment I awake in the morning:





Monday, June 20, 2016

WHICH WAY HOME PROLOGUE

You've heard people say their lives changed overnight, right? They woke up and heard the lottery numbers and knew they were millionaires. More often, the change is bad because one day everything is fine and the next day it is all fucked up. 

I read once that Marie Antoinette's hair turned white overnight while she was in jail, waiting to lose her head. 

I bet Marie's hair changed color during the few seconds it took her to seen her own beheading in a nightmare  That  hair probably went white in the same time it took the nightmare guillotine's blade to slice through her milky neck.

The thing people don't think about is that the overnight device is just a saying, a cliché. It hardly ever takes that long: eight hours, twelve hours, or however you define overnight––for life to change so thoroughly. Most of the time it happens in one to two seconds.

How many seconds does it usually take to purchase that lottery ticket or to make the simplest decision to stop someplace to eat ice cream? These decisions may be part of a change that's a long time in the making, but when their hair whitening change attacks, it truly happens in a flash. 

And the flash can be so bright it nearly blinds you. Then comes the long wait until you get another so-called overnighter that changes your life again.

I know. I'm seen it. I've been through it.

And if you think about it, then you'll remember it's happened to you, too.


What do you think of my adverbs? Overdone? Appropriate? More adverbs needed? hahahahahaha


Sunday, June 19, 2016

WHO IS JOY MANGANO AND WHY DOES SHE WRING OUT MOPS ON TV?

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

I can answer my own question: Joy Mangano is the inventor of the Miracle Mop along with dozens of other products. She wrings out mops on TV because it has made her a millionaire.

On Thursday I wrote a review of the movie Joy and promised I would return to tell you about the real Joy, so here I am.

I warn you that if you have not yet seen the movie Joy and intend to do so, then you will find spoilers in this post. 

Let's begin by watching Joy and her Miracle Mop in a 1996 infomercial:





The Miracle Mop was Joy's first big seller on television, but when you watch the movie Joy, you'll discover that her last name is never uttered, and Joy, portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence, spends only a couple of minutes demonstrating her mop on TV. Joy Mangano and director David O. Russell state that about fifty percent of the movie tells the story of the real Joy.

So how is Joy like Joy, and how is it different?

Similarities:

Joy was a struggling single mom, who had dozens of ideas. When she finally learned how to build and patent them, she was off and running.

She was the caretaker in her family who was strongly influenced by her grandmother, a waitress.

Joy made the prototype for the mop in her father's garage (a business, not simply a garage for a car).

The Miracle Mop did not sell well at first. Joy insisted on demonstrating it herself on QVC, which was about to drop the product.

Joy's best friend is named Ronnie, not Jackie, but she really called in during Joy's first appearance on QVC (without revealing she was Joy's friend) to help her sell the Miracle Mop.

Joy sold 18,000 mops during her first hour-long pitch on TV, although some sources state the mops sold in 20 minutes, and others say 30 minutes.

At the end of the movie, Joy leaves QVC in 1999 for HSN when they bought her company, Ingenious Designs LLC. One of her inventions, Huggable Hangers, is HSN's biggest selling item.


Differences:

Joy has two children in the movie. She actually has three.

Joy does not have a half-sister named Peggy. She doesn't have a half-sister, period.

The invented QVC executive played by Bradley Cooper asks Joy to have 50,000 mops ready in one week. The number was 1,000.

To create her product, she received some financing from her father and (maybe) some of his wealthy girlfriends, used her own life savings, and took out a second mortgage on her house, but she also asked friends and other family members for money.

Her ex-husband is not a Venezuelan failed singer. He was her classmate at Pace University (she did not give up attending college to help her parents through their divorce). Joy hired him to work for her company because he's a good businessman and because she wanted him to spend more time with their children, who are now adults. Two of them work for the company, too. The third has her own Web site and is a model.

Joy's mom, Terry, is a composite of characters. The soap opera she watches is not a real show.

Joy Mangano and Jennifer Lawrence

About the time the movie Joy was released (Christmas, 2015), Joy re-imagined the Miracle Mop and sells it for the same price as the original: $20. She holds at least 100 patents.

Joy is not a struggling single mom anymore. She remains unmarried, but very close to her children. She owns at least two mansions––one in New York and one in Florida when HSN has its headquarters.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug



Joy, second from left, with her three children:


Thursday, June 16, 2016

MOVIE WEEKEND: JOY

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

I thought Joy was a straight up biopic about entrepreneur Joy Mangano. It's true that the original script was about Mangano. Director David O. Russell became involved with the project and re-wrote the script so that it's loosely based on Mangano's life, but more important, he made Joy a paean to strong women (2015, PG-13, Available On DVD).


Joy (Jennifer Lawrence) has the weight of the world on her shoulders. She works as an airline reservations clerk; she has two children with her ex-husband Tony (Edgar Ramírez), who lives in her basement; she takes care of her mother Terry (Virginia Madsen), who had a breakdown when she and Joy's farther divorced so she stays in bed all day watching soap operas; she does the books for her father Rudy's (Robert De Niro) poorly run business, and Rudy's most recent love interest dumps him so he moves into Joy's basement with Tony; and she contends with her nasty step-sister Peggy (Elisabeth Rohm), who always has something unkind to say to or about Joy, especially to Joy's children.

The one person who encourages Joy is her grandmother Mimi (Diane Ladd), who also narrates the movie. However, her advice to Joy was to get an education, get a job, get married, and have children. Mimi doesn't quite see how talented Joy is.

Joy is filled with ideas for inventions, such as a self-wringing mop, and she has the smarts to design and create her inventions. When she starts her own business, how can she become a success when so many people in her life bring her down?

The main thing Joy has going for it is Jennifer Lawrence's performance. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for this film. Did she deserve that nomination? That I can't answer, but in spite of Joy allowing so many people to take advantage of her, she comes to epitomize the strong woman who carries on no matter what. In that sense, the performance is good.

Other members of the cast, especially Robert De Niro––who has become a caricature of himself––do not live up to Lawrence's performance.

I like the movie because of Lawrence and her character's experiences. I love people who are persistent for the right reasons, so I like the plot. The screenplay could be better; it might have made the other performances stronger. At times, Joy comes off as a fantasy. Which parts of it are true? I'll try to tell you about Joy Mangano tomorrow.

Joy earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Pretty High Approval. I doubt if it would interest your kids, but you might invite your teenage daughters to watch it with you. I would want to talk about the good and bad points of Joy's character. I'd also warn young women not to go out on their own, as Joy does, to confront shady people engaged in bad business practices.

If you feel any interest in Joy, then I say, give it a chance. Happy viewing!


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Wednesday, June 15, 2016