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Anxiety Woman’s favorite Holiday movies

I’m a grumpy, short-tempered knockabout. I keep dropping and forgetting things. I try to take it easy but it would probably be best if I took my entire vacation all at once this time of year.  Being aware that I am affected by the shortness of days only makes me feel more self-conscious of my shortcomings. I find myself wanting to sleep but unable,  wanting to go outside but unable, wanting to feel happy but …well, that’s why I blog. When I share something I hope it will help or entertain someone so that I don’t view my day as another one mooched off Mother Earth.

What helps me is a good Christmas film. I remember when I discovered “The Bishop’s Wife”. Cary Grant, or rather his double, ice skating is my fave. Olympians should attempt to recreate this scene in a pair’s competition.


That’s one dapper gent. Wait ’til you see the taxi driver skate!

I have two new favorites films this year. Like “The Bishop’s Wife” and “A Christmas Carol”, they address the illusion of money’s value.  These aren’t new movies but ones you may want to revisit each year, like the tree decorations you can’t throw out.

“Millions” came out around 2002. The only name I recognized on the DVD cover was Danny Boyle as director.  “Millions” makes many best Christmas movie lists. It looks like a kid’s film but one where the kids say “Our mother is dead,” in order to get cookies. The Saints are probably the best part in the movie for me. I love how St. Joseph gives acting notes and steps in to cover a missed line. I also enjoyed the donkey.


I just finished watching “It happened on 5th Avenue” which should have a stage adaptation so that I can play the divorcee. It’s heart is very good but unlike “Millions” which is magical and wryly funny, “5th Avenue” is more old fashioned, its humor coming from the ye old role reversal of rich and poor.

5th ave

In this still, Aloysius, the poor but happy man enters the mansion.

Here is the same entryway after his many new friends join him.


I guess this reflects some choices in my life. I choose to live with others. I choose to work at a job that gives me more joy than money. I still enjoy classic Christmas films like “Die Hard” but I’m glad I saw these too. If you have any suggestions for me, please comment. Meanwhile, Happy Holidays!



A socio-political analysis of The Meg



If you have not yet seen the film “The Meg”, perhaps your fear of giant sharks has impacted your life to the point where you need to seek professional help. You are missing out on one of the most important pieces of socio-political commentary of this century.  I suggest you might allay your fears by looking at the Megalodon as a metaphor.  Approach it as you might a poem, that is with a half of a marijuana cookie.

The Meg is an ancient creature, brought up from the depths as a by-product of a rich guy who wants more fame and fortune.  The Meg is a misunderstood outsider. The Meg does not and can not bargain because he is used to dominating all other creatures since the beginning of time. There is no one more powerful. All polls agree. This is not fake news. Did I mention that The Meg has a very big mouth? It is always opening and closing without any real words coming out. The Meg just devours. That’s what Megs do.

The Meg is attracted to light only to destroy the source of this light. It is not hard to imagine the words, “You’re fired”, coming out of his mouth each time he kills. He is particularly partial to offing whales, which are, of course, an endangered species.

The dilemma the film addresses is:  Should mankind study and respect a creature of this  majesty despite the massive death toll it will bring or should the intelligentsia work to bring The Meg down by any means – bombs, guns, or harpoons through the eyeball. It is with a “Sophie’s Choice” kind of poignance we observe that choice is a forced/ false one as there are always more Megs and the remaining characters, indeed the entire world, may die in the next film.

Jason Statham, however, can not die.  He could, but as a hybrid of John McCain and Bernie Sanders, it is highly unlikely that the franchise could continue. The mega-message here is that, no matter what, the franchise which is The Meg must continue. Statham is its biggest asset.

stathamLike many female movie stars before him, he has probably had to insure his chest. The fact that he does his own stunts makes him a stand-in for the value of authenticity in opposition to The Shark who is made of plastic and gets all his information from the internet.

The meaning of time is also explored in the film.  How many times will The Meg come back? Every four years? How much money did the film receive for featuring the over the top watches which appear in close-ups of every character?

When will the movie end? Isn’t this just Jaws in a time-machine?  Who has the time to work out that much for one shirtless scene?  Isn’t it time that there is more than one black actor per movie and isn’t there time to teach him how to swim? Is the shot of Statham harpooning The Meg a timeless tribute to Captain Ahab or is it just a way to make the film sexier than “Jurassic World”.

Like many works of art – The Meg leaves you with these big questions which you have to answer yourself. Then you may attend the sequel to see if you got them right.



Summer in Alaska Bucketlist

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Do you envision a list involving salmon, moose, bear, mountain summits, through hikes, single track bike descents, canning and preserving goals, maybe a triathlon thrown in for good measure?

Not I. I need to relax. I don’t relax in the wilderness. I’m on constant bear alert, either that or getting shot by a random bear hunter alert. Here are some of my ideas for a perfect Alaskan summer. You may find you can follow them wherever you might find yourself. After all, Alaska is mostly a state of mind.

  1. Spend as much time as possible in the hammock. This will require a good supply of insect repellant but it is much more rewarding than actually accomplishing anything after a long day of work.
  2. Share my tandem with as many people as possible. I’ve started calling friends to ride with me and  put an ad up to capture strangers. It’s an enormous bike, definitely as long as a horse but slightly lighter. What’s the point of waiting around for someone to announce that they vaguely remember I have a two seater hanging up in my shed? A tandem is the perfect excuse to advertise the need for companionship but in a sporty, retro, non-threatening manner.  I’ll try not to coerce people to wear costumes until the 2nd or third ride.tandemThis is a Gary Fisher Gemini Mountain bike tandem from the 1980’s. It is appropriate to sing 1980’s music while riding. The Police, Bruce Springsteen, Van Halen, (David Lee Roth years), Duran Duran, Blondie,  and The Bangles are all acceptable. This is not a Madonna bike. It is also okay to sing this old gem on this particular bike especially when wearing dark sunglasses.
  3. I would like to watch more of the hundred best War movies. I like the old ones best and just finished “To Be or Not To Be” with Jack Benny on You Tube.   I don’t love war but I am desperate to understand it and how it reflects the internal wars with which humans struggle.
  4. Read more books about The South. I love visiting my friend Rose Anne in Louisiana. It is as much another world as visiting my sister in Paris.  I finished reading this excellent book   and am now reading this one.  Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads  These help me understand why there is a large movement in America to reclaim “glory days” of the past.  This is a force to be reckoned with, not to be ignored.
  5. I need to write more and laugh more. I believe I am singing as much as I can without being murdered.
  6. It wouldn’t hurt to see some new movies. I don’t see many first run films but I would be willing to purchase a ticket to Bohemian Rhapsody or BlackKklansman.
  7. More raspberry ice tea. More raspberry everything. Alaska has great raspberries!
  8. Donald Trump protest art show anyone?  I bet it could be fun or would we be giving him too much attention?
  9. I guess I could go camping one time but that is my goal every summer and each time I come back not having slept and I have a backache but a few funny stories.
  10. Stay in the moment, smell the air as it changes with each bloom of the season – lilacs, roses, clover, fireweed.


The envelope I received today from Price Waterhouse

I’m a winner!

So is Hilary Clinton. My brother called to tell me that one.

My envelope was addressed to my neighbors but it was in my mailbox along with the box containing their Signature Hardware copper claw foot bathtub. Finders/Keepers. I have a really big mailbox. You could fit 140 of Donald Trump’s hands in it.


This is what you want to hide under when there is an earthquake, if it doesn’t run away on those fat little legs. Body shaming aside, they are a bit tubby.

Why did Price Waterhouse pick me? Probably because I am from Manchester by the Sea. I am one of the former residents who, like Casey Affleck’s character, moved away to make less money than they could at home. Manchester is a really pretty place but you have to be really rich to live there. Little did I know that you have to be pretty rich to live well anywhere.   Maybe the letter was meant for Casey but I think he already got one.

I hear P.W. has two copies of every envelope they give out, which is a bit excessive. I don’t write two checks when I pay my rent or have sex with individuals twice just in case they didn’t hear me the first time.

But what to do about the bathtub? I’ve already made a couple of speeches about it to my easily impressed co-workers. My neighbors might get suspicious if there’s a plumber’s van in the driveway tomorrow so I will probably have to sleep with a working man for a believable backstory.

Truthfully, I think the postman made the mistake because I am white and my neighbors are not. I don’t make as much money as them but I look like I do based on skin tone.

No that can’t be it.  I’m Catholic, like Casey Affleck’s character. I’m the one who is oppressed and just can’t beat my past including my genetic tendencies towards violence and ridiculous sensitivity to both the sun and the criticism of others. Don’t tell me I live in La-La land because I live in Alaska where no one has a tub like this and everyone is really just a loser from somewhere else. Don’t make me give it back.

 I have my doubts about the integrity of Price Waterhouse.  My first association with that kind of fancy-ass name is Fisher Price toys but their tubs are much smaller and apparently come equipped with photogenic bathers.


Move over Sunny Pawar! I’m younger than you and I’m white!

 You may ask, what do all these references have in common? Do they all involve water? Yes but NO!  THEY ARE ALL FAKE NEWS!

I only got a catalog from Signature Hardware which is the Rock/Movie/Musical star of bathtub makers. It was not addressed to me. It was not addressed to my neighbors either. It was addressed to my roommate who is black and has a much better bedroom set than I have.

We do have a big mailbox.  We just got an upgrade. With three of us living here and about 10 old roommates who still get their mail here we needed it. Besides that, it has a lock so no one can steal our Academy Award letters.

I did audition for a movie the other day but I was funnier off script than on so I don’t think that is going anywhere fast. A girl can dream about playing an old alcoholic smoker who sees dead guys coming on to her but that doesn’t make her dreams come true.

I am from Manchester by the Sea. I recognize that the movie is not so much about that town but about the small town that many of us come from. The one that never forgets the best of people and the worst of them. The small town that is our family, our workplace, our culture that we can’t get far enough away from, because they’re inside of us. I’m proud to be from a town that will now be forever remembered for alcoholism and dysfunction.

I will probably not see the movie La-La land because I don’t need more fantasy in my life especially  anymore white people’s fantasy. This includes thinking I deserve more than I get and that life is fair. I should see Moonlight. Maybe I will go with my roommates.  Meanwhile I just had my taxes done at H&R Block. They only use one envelope.

Was Noah the first Viking?

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Was not surprised to see “Noah” was already playing at the 2nd run cinema up the street. I was surprised to learn that he was a vegetarian Viking.

Here is Ragnar, the “Noah” of the TV series “Vikings”

Ragnar getting ready to build an ark

Ragnar getting ready to build an ark



Here is Noah after killing about a thousand people with the help of his rock band

So you had a bad day....

So you had a bad day…..



Not to belabor the point but doesn’t this guy look like he fell from the same tree?

The God of thunder says it's gonna rain for a long time

The God of thunder says it’s gonna rain for a long time


Is it a coincidence or an omen that Anthony Hopkins is in both Thor and Noah?

What movie am I in now?

What movie am I in now?


ah, this is the movie where I like berries!

ah, this is the movie where I like berries!


Then there’s the fraggle rock creatures who are disappointed in the human race but help Noah build the ark because he kind of reminds them of Adam.  I admit, at first I thought they were an entirely fictitious departure from the biblical text until I saw this.

Thor battling the last of Noah's rock warrior angels

Thor battling the last of Noah’s rock warrior angels


If that’s not proof of The Circle of Life then I don’t know what is!  Remember we’re all a little Viking, so  watch yourself around hammers and axes.  If you become obsessed with building a big boat and killing lots of people, you might want to chill.  One thing I did learn from the movie Noah is that vegetarians can be just as dangerous as people who eat meat.




Star Trek over lightly

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Into Darkness - An Enterprise in Risk Management

Into Darkness – An Enterprise in Risk Management

The new film “Star Trek Into Darkness” did not go far enough. They settled for places we’ve all been before.  I’ve come up with a few tweaks that could remedy a film which was more of a laxative than an adventure.

1. It’s not sexy enough to have Kirk in bed with one woman, so you add another. I would have been more impressed if Sulu popped out from under the covers as well.

2.  Dr. McCoy looks like the only person in the film who eats meat. Mssrs. Quinto and Pine may need some of those low -T pills I keep hearing so much about.

3. As in 3-D. I know it was there because when I took off the glasses I couldn’t see. But why did Enterprise kept zooming away, not towards me? Please see the 80’s film “Comin’ at ya” for the proper use of 3 dimensions in cinema.

4. Death scene. What happened to disfiguring radiation poisoning where people’s skin gets all gross? It would have been far more dramatic to have Kirk come back pockmarked and continue that way in the alternative universe for films to come. William Shatner was pretty but he wore a girdle!

5. Khan? Really? Why didn’t you just call the villian Snape and capitalize on a different dynasty? Was it too soon to call him Thatcher? Mr. Cumberbatch is such a great actor that his combination of Kirkiness and Spocktricity  outshine the two playing the parts. And have you heard his Alan Rickman imitation?

6. Scotty’s sidekick “Keenser” needs to stop being a wingman and get some action for himself. Perhaps a little lady or Kirk? He is afterall the cutest thing in the show.

7. A dead tribble is troubling, a sad statement on the creative fertility of this series. Instead of using Khan’s blood to re-vivify Kirk, why not use the tribble/Khan blood and  Mr. Pine could be reborn pregnant.

8. The use of Spock prime was too great in the last movie and too little in this one.  Maybe a dance number or dream sequence with Kirk prime for the next one? Is that too much to ask?

9. Did Kirk really say, “Take those red shirts off, do you want to get yourselves killed?” Or is that something I just think he should have said?

10. Renew the dream. Just watch this risky performance by William Shatner and stay faithful to the vision that once was STAR TREK!

My Mother, Deanna Durbin & Me

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IMG_0075          I’m not sure how old that fly is

My mother kept a Deanna Durbin scrapbook. This is one of the few items I have that belonged to her since she died 30 years ago this month.  I kept a scrapbook at her age as well. It had pictures of The Beatles, programs from the plays I was in and later rock concerts I attended.  Her book was all DURBIN, no exceptions.There are hundreds of pictures.  I had no one I was in love with like she was with Deanna, except maybe Captain Kirk. Both Deanna and Kirk  lived in fantasy worlds, but the actors who played them were/are  long lived and showed a shrewd intelligence with age. They beat the Hollywood odds. They got out alive.  I don’t think anyone but me would ever put Edna and The Shat in the same category but I believe they shared the capacity to “shat” on their Hollywood image.

Deanna Durbin died last week. She was born 3 years before my mother.   Deanna Durbin was the Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus of the 1930’s .    My mother loved Deanna, Barbara Streisand and Beverly  “Bubbles” Sills  for their voices and the dream they stood for.

 The Great  Depression was not as hard on my mother as it was on many people.  Her father had a job with Pillsbury flour then eventually, he and my grandmother started their own funeral home. They and their six children lived over and in the funeral home.  Perhaps this led to dramatic tendencies.  Despite being quite a practical person,  my mother had dreams that didn’t die with her adolescence.  She didn’t go to college, neither did her sisters. Her brothers did.  She had ambitions to sing and be in the movies.  She was star struck. She passed the habit on by buying us movie magazines, those old black and white versions of People magazine when we were sick. I got sick a lot.

Would she have traded lives with Deanna Durbin? I think so. Hell, so would I! She got to be a movie star and got to have a long marriage, kids and live in France.  My mother had a lovely voice which she passed on to my sister Beth, who now lives and sings in France. I have a loud voice but live in Alaska where no one can hear it, except through my blog.

  Here’s  some photos of Deanna at the height of her popularity.  Her real name was Edna Mae.





Here’s a some photos of my mom  after high school. That’s her in the pin stripes.

mompinup momsecretary

My mother’s middle name was Winifred. I took that as my confirmation name.  My middle name is Cecilia, the patron saint of music. If my mother meant to offer me up as tribute, she chose the wrong kid. Yet, in a sense, I am still singing. Yesterday at work we sang about twenty karaoke songs.  We did this out of joy, which is sometimes difficult to locate in the constellation of symptoms and regulations which restrict the lives of those who are recovering from mental health disabilities.  Singing is a tool to release feeling and move out of the spectator role. It’s helpful to feel like a star once in a while.

 Edna Mae got tired of  being Deanna Durbin. Like Pinocchio, and the I Robot robot, she wanted to be a real person. Even though Anne Frank had two pictures of her on a wall in The Secret Annex, even though both Churchill and Mussolini were tremendous fans, even though she was one of the highest paid stars at the time, she opted out.  She moved to France where they have socialized medicine.

From The New York Times article by Aljean Harmetz

 “Ms. Durbin, who gave almost no interviews after she left Hollywood, did send reporters a letter in 1958 that read in part: “I was a typical 13-year-old American girl. The character I was forced into had little or nothing in common with myself — or with other youth of my generation, for that matter. I could never believe that my contemporaries were my fans. They may have been impressed with my ‘success.’ but my fans were the parents, many of whom could not cope with their own youngsters. They sort of adopted me as their ‘perfect’ daughter.”

(Clearly Ms. Durbin did not know my mother.)

….” she also wrote: “I was never happy making pictures. I’ve gained weight. I do my own shopping, bring up my two children and sing an hour every day.”

(On the subject of carrying the cross of fame…)

“When my first marriage failed, everyone said that I could never divorce. It would ruin the ‘image,’ ” she told Robert Shipman in Films and Filming magazine in 1983. “How could anybody really think that I was going to spend the rest of my life with a man I found I didn’t love, just for the sake of an ‘image’?”

My mother did her own shopping, when she didn’t make us do it. This was good training. I ‘ve been doing shopping for the kitchen at my job for the last ten years. My mother was a pretty woman and a good singer. She entered a Miss Television Contest and was a runner up. She sang at The Massachusetts State House, where she worked for a time and in our church choir. Like Edna Mae, she raised a family but she shat on the image of a mother being just that. She was herself, kind of a combination of The Shat and The Durbin.

After my father died, she seemed to come out of her girdle.  She dated, wore mini skirts and swore.  She had some white patent leather boots and sewed me a home made bikini because I was so tall the regular ones wouldn’t cover my nether regions.  This said bikini was made out of an old dress of hers and I busted the butt out of it in the water at the beach. Luckily is was lined. I still like fashion but usually wear things no one else would wear. I have another sister who lives in L.A. and has made TV commercials. I am not commercial material.

Me in my vintage look

Me in my vintage look

 Deanna Durbin figured in a good number of advertisements. She sold Kotex, soap and Desotos. She not only  saved the movie world she was also saving the economy. Like the former Lance Armstrong, she was a marketer’s dream, if not a reality.




Here’s a clothing tag my mother stuck in with the photos.

IMG_0098                   IMG_0099

Deanna mellowed a bit concerning  her career as she aged,  courtesy of Michael Freeland, The Guardian.

“In a rare interview, given in 1983 to the film journalist David Shipman, she said:

 “I did not hate show business. I loved to sing. I was happy on the set. I liked the people with whom I worked and after the nervousness of the first day, I felt completely at ease in front of the camera. I also enjoyed the company of my fellow actors … What I did find difficult was that this acquired maturity had to be hidden under the childlike personality my films and publicity projected on me.”

The light comedy For the Love of Mary (1948) was her swansong. The Universal producer Joe Pasternak constantly tried to change her mind, but Durbin told him: “I can’t run around being a Little Miss Fix-It who bursts into song”

This is where I fall in line with the dream.  My mother put me in a pageant once. The infamous Jody Jordan contest in Boston.  Only I did not want to be there and could not even pretend to hide my dismay.  I’m not that good at acting. I’m good at being absurd and making people laugh. I’m passingly pretty, but isn’t everyone until they get really old? I’ve  recently gotten tired of my role as “Little Miss Fix it.”  Like my mother I’ve lived through some difficult economic times but I’m not too bad off and I still have my dreams. I’ve worked in Community Mental Health for over ten years now and I would love to be able to retire to France but that’s just not going to happen. It’s silly to think you can change the world but we all try either through social work or singing or politics or ice cream.  I can hardly fix myself, let alone the people I serve.  I really should spend more time just being me.

We are made in our own image. God may be in there somewhere but when we try to remake our image into what we think is God’s we run into trouble. I keep thinking if I dye my hair I will meet men. But I always meet men. The men are just as odd as I am. If I dye my hair I will just meet odd men who would rather me not look as old as I do.  Better to save the money for brownies and a trip to see my sister in France.

So for all you dreamers and travelers, here’s the weather report for your travels where no man has gone before. and Deanna Durbin singing  one of my mother’s, and my, favorite songs.

IMG_0074 All photos from my mother’s scrapbook and photo album. (Yes, that is a giant sausage in that dog’s mouth)