Friday, October 31, 2014

THE CEPHALOPOD COFFEEHOUSE: PHILOMENA

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

It's time for this month's Cephalopod Coffeehouse.

The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you've finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same.  In this way, we'll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers.

To join us or to visit other participants, please click on The Armchair Squid, the blogger who is the host with the most. Here we go:


I love the movie Philomena, which I reviewed HERE. I think Dame Judi Dench should have won the Academy Award for Best Actress. 

When I watched the movie, I hadn't yet read the book on which it is based. I'm glad I did. The book is very different from the movie.

Philomena the movie focuses on Philomena's relationship with journalist Martin Sixsmith, who discovers what happened to Philomena's son, born in 1952, who was taken from her and given up for adoption by nuns in Ireland who kept unmarried pregnant girls as their slaves.

Philomena the book, by the aforementioned Martin Sixsmith, includes information about Philomena and the loss of her child, but it zones in on what happened to her son, Anthony, who was adopted by Americans (or should I say purchased?), and had his name changed to Michael Hess. The Hess's took Anthony/Michael because they were adopting a little girl named Mary, who was Michael's best friend. Their prospective mother could see that Michael comforted Mary and made her happy.


Michael and Mary when they were adopted.


Michael doesn't seem to have had a very happy childhood with the Hess family. His new brothers teased and belittled him. His adoptive parents were such dolts that they couldn't figure out why Mary spoke only in "gibberish," which Michael translated. It took a visit by an Irish priest to explain that the children spoke Gaelic. 

This book is my favorite for the month of October because I learned so much about Michael and Mary Hess and their lives in the U.S. I am troubled, however, by Sixsmith's recreations of conversations and his descriptions of Michael's feelings. Yes, he has sources, but the book has no notes nor citations. 

I learned undisputably that Michael Hess grew up to be very intelligent. He became a lawyer for The Republican National Committee. He was gay, and he died from AIDS.



Michael Hess as a lawyer for The Republican National Committee.
Note his high forehead.
It's the result of forceps used to pull him from his mother's body.
He was a breech birth, delivered by a nun.
No doctor was in attendance, and Philomena was given no pain reliever then,
nor when her child was sold.

Knowing the few facts I've included in the above caption should be enough to make one curious about this book. And that's why I like it. It satisfies my curiosity about the story behind the movie:

The morning shift in the laundry lasted until a short lunch break, when the mothers were allowed to see their children. Another shift followed and evenings were spent in cleaning and chores around the building. The hour after dinner was set aside for knitting and sewing. The girls had to make the clothes their children wore, and many became accomplished seamstresses. There were no radios or books, but the girls were allowed to sit in the nursery with their babies or in the day room with those who were already toddlers. It was this hour––the time they looked forward to most--which brought the girls close to their children and established the bond that would haunt mother and child for the rest of their lives. To allow such love to blossom seemed crueller even than taking the babies away at birth.

This passage demonstrates Martin Sixsmith's sympathy for his subject. He also helps to expose a practice in Ireland that had gone on far too long and didn't end very many years ago; that is, sending unmarried, pregnant girls to convents and then selling their babies to Americans who wanted to adopt them, followed by the nuns' refusal to tell mothers where their children were, and their refusal to tell the adopted adults who returned whence they came. Michael Hess visited the nuns more than once, and was never told that his mother was looking for him.

Philomena, in spite of its flaws, earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Highest Approval.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug



Martin Sixsmith and Philomena Lee at the premier of the movie,
Philomena.


 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

MOVIE WEEKEND: THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

sniff
sniffle
wipe away a tear
let loose with a sob

Y


Yes, it's a two-hankie movie today: The Fault In Our Stars (2014, PG-13, Available On DVD).



This movie got a lot of attention. It's based on a young adult novel, which I haven't read, and it's a tearjerker. I was afraid it would be sappy. It isn't. I didn't cry while I watched it, but I felt moved. It's tender and poignant and happy in a way that most stories can't possibly be happy.

Hazel (Shailene Woodley) and Gus (Ansel Elgort) meet in a cancer support group for teens. They know they're going to die.

Augustus Waters: What's your name?
Augustus Waters: No, your full name
Hazel Grace Lancaster: Hazel Grace Lancaster

Gus calls his new friend Hazel Grace. She insists they are just friends. Her cancer has expanded from her thyroid into her lungs, so she carries an oxygen tank everywhere she goes.

Augustus (Gus) was an athlete. He had to have a leg amputated because of cancer. Gus has a cocky joie de vivre that brings out the best in everyone around him. He likes to keep an unlit cigarette in his mouth. The sight of Gus with a cigarette in his mouth made me smile from the start.

Hazel Grace Lancaster: Really? That's disgusting!
Hazel Grace Lancaster: What? Do you think that is cool? Or something? You just ruined the whole thing.
Augustus Waters: The whole thing?
Hazel Grace Lancaster: Yes, this whole thing.
Hazel Grace Lancaster: Even though you have freaking cancer, you are willing to give money to a corporation for a chance to acquire even more cancer? Let me just assure you that not being able to breathe? SUCKS. Totally disappointing. Totally.
Augustus Waters: They don't kill you unless you light them. And I've never lit one. It's a metaphor, see: You put the killing thing right between your teeth, but you don't give it the power to do its killing. A metaphor. 

Hazel and Gus agree to read each other's favorite novels. Hazel gives Gus An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten (Willem Dafoe). The books means a great deal to Hazel. Its plot is similar to her experiences. She longs to ask the author some questions about his book. Gus arranges a visit for them with Van Houten, who has become a recluse in Amsterdam. While they are in Amsterdam, they visit the Anne Frank house. Anne Frank, of course, was doomed, just as Hazel and Gus are.

Gus and Hazel have a bond that continues to develop. Gus knows he's in love with Hazel Grace, and eventually, she realizes she loves him, too. 

Hazel Grace Lancaster: I fell in love with him the way you fall asleep: Slowly, and then all at once.

Woodley and Elgort play their parts naturally and with seemingly little effort. The screenplay is excellent. Laura Dern deserves a shout out for playing Hazel's mom. 

My favorite funny scene is when Hazel and Gus, with Gus's friend Isaac (Nat Wolff), egg Isaac's former girlfriend's house. 

Augustus Waters: Hello, are you Monica's mother?
Monica's Mom: I am...
Augustus Waters: Hello, ma'am. Your daughter, she's done a great injustice, so we've come here seeking revenge. You see, we may not look like much, but between the three of us we have five legs, four eyes and two and a half pairs of working lungs, but we also have two dozen eggs, so if I were you, I would go back inside.
[Monica's mother looks freaked and goes back inside]
Isaac: Did... That actually worked?
Isaac: That was the stupidest speech I've ever... That actually worked?


I feel as if I took part in their experiences, which makes the story a great example of writing that can convey feelings most of us never have.

A few bits of trivia: 

  1. Don't look for An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten. It's a made-up book within a book.
  2. When Gus and Hazel visit the Anne Frank House, they're on a set that recreates the house. The Frank House did not allow filming.
  3. Some of the details from the book have been changed, according to online sources.
I wouldn't show this movie to children. Teens? They might wallow in grief, or laugh at the absurdity of a couple getting together when they know they will die. That's my way of saying that I have no idea how teens will react to the movie, but a lot of them have read the book on which it's based.

This movie is difficult to describe. I don't think I've ever seen anything like it. It's unique, and that's a word I don't use lightly.

The Fault In Our Stars earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Highest Approval. 


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug



Hazel Grace Lancaster: But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn't trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful.







Wednesday, October 29, 2014

TODAY I AM A PICKLEOPE-OPE-OPE

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

If you haven't visited Pickleope yet today, I suggest you go while the gettin' is good.

Pickleope is moving to WordPress to start a new blog called Strangely Naked. I know you'll want to add StrangelyNaked.com  to your blog roll, and/or follow by email. Pickleope as Pickleope or Strangely Naked is not to be missed. 

Because of a promise made long ago, Pickleope includes me in this final post.

Yes. I am now a Pickleope. 

You have to see it for yourself. The drawing taught me things I never knew about me.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

I SMELL SMOKE

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

I'm sorry, but I'm too tired for more of the inquisition. I've spent most of the last two days putting potting soil and plants in the pots that surround my deck.

I lifted things I shouldn't lift and contorted my body in ways it didn't want to go. I have mosquito bites on my eczema.

Go ahead. Burn me at the stake.

Or wait until I feel better, and I promise to finish answering the fifty questions.

Fishducky sent me this cartoon. I hope you enjoy it.



Thanks, fishducky!


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

HALFWAY POINT OF THE SPANISH INQUISITION

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

We've just hit the halfway point of The Spanish Inquisition, but I don't think I'll get far today. My tummy is unhappy. It's probably the result of being tortured. Let's get on with it, though, and here's number . . . 


26. The reason I started blogging?

Marriage (30 years) + Cheating (Him) + Gambling (him) + Not A Nice Person (him) = Divorce



Blogging is my therapy.

27. Fears?


Something on this corner cabinet could be out of its designated spot.






How will I find people tiny enough to use this china cabinet and tea set? And when I find the people, what if they don't like the kind of tea I have?




What if someone moves the tiny grandfather clock in this grandfather clock?



A poodle wearing a poodle skirt, and dancing.


Mornings  

Something on this dry sink could be out of its designated spot.





Pickles


Please don't make me go back to work at the nursing home. I don't know why, but all the old men kept goosing me.



Palmetto bugs





Bad grammar




I hate it when Paul comes home from a tour and he has this crabby look on his face:



I hate it when Jon comes home from a tour and catches me with Paul.


Someone might take away the medicine I bought from that nice man in the back of the bar.


This could really be me, and I don't mean the woman in the mirror:





I hate it when Ryan comes home before Johnny leaves.



I hate it when Johnny comes home before Ryan leaves.




What if this is me and I don't know it?



You don't really think I could get pregnant, do you? I'm 55.





Maybe this is me:



What if this is my ass?


It's a good thing I don't scare easily.


28. Last thing that made you cry?

The conclusion of Billy Elliot (see HERE)

29. Last time you said you loved someone?

Carol's son was here this morning and he fixed my gate, my front door, and my roof. What's not to love?

30. Meaning behind the name of your blog, WOMEN: WE SHALL OVERCOME?

First I called my blog Dumped First Wife. That was kind of a downer so I went all triumphant instead.

31. Last book you read?

Nothing In Particular by Kate LeDonne (not really--I'm lying because I want to give Kate a big, fat SHOUT-OUT). The last book I actually read is In The Midst of Life by Jennifer Worth. She wrote Call the Midwife.

32. Books you are currently reading?


This question said "book." The next person can change it back to "book." I read books--one in bed, one in restaurants, one or more in the family room, one at the pool during August. Here's my current list:

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris
The Blogger's Survival Guide by Lexie Lane and Becky McNeer (I edited this book quite some time ago and I had forgotten a lot of the good tips in it)
Ashes by Brandon Ax (currently editing)
Wild Tales by Graham Nash (Cherdo shared this one with me. If you don't follow Cherdo, you should get on over to Cherdo On The Flipside.)
Little House In The Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (I'm reading this one out loud to my pretend grandchild)

33. Last show you watched?

Lillyhammer on Netflix Streaming

34. Last person you talked to?

Franklin--I just told him we need to close the backdoor because mosquitoes are getting in.

35. The relationship between you and the person you just texted?

Favorite Young Man--not sure how I met him.



Oh, wow! We got through a lot of questions today in spite of my unhappy tummy. I think we should celebrate by going back to Brian Setzer's rockabilly roots with The Stray Cats:





Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Monday, October 27, 2014

LET'S GET MONDAY OFF TO A GOOD SPANISH INQUISITION START

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

To see my answers to the first three parts of The Spanish Inquisition, click HERE, and HERE, and HERE. I can't believe some bloggers answer all fifty of these questions in one post. My attention span is not that . . . what? Whatever. Let's get on with it.


19. Loud music or soft?






20. Where do you go when you are sad?

I find Franklin or Willy Dunne Wooters, and I put out my arms and HUG. Sometimes I call or email a friend. So I guess the answer is that I go wherever I need to be in my house to do that stuff.


21.  How long does it take you to shower?

Not nearly as long as The Wooters Man. Probably fifteen minutes, including make-up.

22.  How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?

I don't understand the question. What is "morning"?

23. Ever been in a physical fight?


Beaten up? Yeah. Fought back? Once.


Would kill for my children.

24. Turn on?

The Wooters Man 

Dogs 
Beautiful music and works of art
Books
Laughing with friends

25. Turn-off?


Noise and/or bright lights



Well, all righty then. We're halfway done. I wonder how long I can stretch this out. If I'd done one question/day, then fifty days.

Last week on Thursday I posted a video of In The Mood, which you can see HERE. The video led to some discussion of big band music. I remembered that "the guy" from The Stray Cats had started an orchestra. The Silver Fox from The Lair of the Silver Fox (C'mon, where else would he be from? Oh my god I just ended a sentence with a preposition) reminded me that the guy is Brian Setzer. He added that Brian Setzer has almost as many tats as Favorite Young Man. 

Now that I've seen Brian Setzer's arms, I suspect he may be FYM's tattoo equal.

I want to finish today's post with The Brian Setzer Orchestra because if this music doesn't get your week off to a good start, then I don't know what will.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug




Sunday, October 26, 2014

I LOVE THIS MOVIE

A weepy conclusion:




Billy's dad holds back his tears. Michael's face, fills with joy and pride for his friend.

This movie gets me every time.