Tag Archives: movies

Extreme Fletchercise

As Americans learned more about vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan over the weekend, it was most likely intended that we each find something about the man we could relate to. I know I did.

Yesterday’s Washington Post reported:

“In his private life, Ryan pursues the hobbies of an everyman with an overachiever’s zeal. He sweats through grueling ‘P90x’ workouts in the House gym. He beats other legislators in contests to recite the most lines from ‘Fletch.’ And he fishes for catfish – with his bare hands.”

I’d take him. In a Fletch-off, that is. I’m not proud of this, but I’ve got the whole movie memorized. I even have an autograph that Chevy Chase wrote to me in 1988, suggesting I name my unborn baby Fletch. No kidding.

Well, good as Paul Ryan may be, I can’t imagine him and his fellow legislators vying for such a distinction as reciting the most lines from this zany movie. Or maybe I can.

Call me crazy, but this might just unlock the secret to bipartisan civility. Visualize House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, sitting with the Committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, in the Members’ Dining Room.

Ryan: I’ll have a Bloody Mary and a steak sandwich, and a steak sandwich.
Van Hollen: Just get me a glass of hot fat. And bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia.

The two finish lunch and part with a tee-hee about Dr. Rosenpenis in the Records Room.

I dare Congressman Ryan to work a line into his acceptance speech at the GOP convention, or maybe in his debate against Vice President Biden. Perhaps, if backed into a corner on how he’d pay for further tax cuts, he can reply simply, “Put it on the Underhills’ bill.”


Filed under Movies, Television and Radio, News, Politics

El camino

Wow. Just wow.

To be bold but unmistakably certain, I tell you that I saw the best movie of my life on Saturday afternoon – The Way.

You know how I get. I experience something great and must shout it to the world. Some say I exaggerate.

The first thing I did when I got home from seeing The Way was to call my mother and order her to grab her purse and head to the theater immediately. I sent enthusiastic text messages to a couple of people.

At a dinner party that night I cornered everyone in the room, one by one, and gushed, imploring friends to go and see it right away.

The same thing at church on Sunday morning. I had heard about the movie from several church friends, so I tried to avoid preaching to the converted.

People first asked what it was about, then urged me to not reveal too much: “What was it about? No, don’t tell me,” was how each exchange typically went.

One person said, “Tell me in just one sentence. No more.” Me, one sentence? Are you kidding?

I hadn’t seen a single preview for The Way before the lights went down, so truly I knew very little. In fact, going back just now and viewing the trailer online, I’d suggest to anyone who hasn’t seen a preview to refrain. Just go.

Also, see The Way with someone if you can. My father had invited me to go with him last weekend and I had to decline. I wish I had gone with him. I’d still have seen it again with Saturday’s companions.

I will tell you I cried many times in two hours, once or twice with sadness but mostly with a full and happy heart.

I won’t tell you what it’s about, or even the premise. I’ll simply tell you what came to light for me, what I observed about life. If you don’t want to know even that much, stop reading here.

  1. The world is a journey on which we encounter those from distant places and differing mindsets, carrying a vast array of burdens, dreams, goals and vulnerabilities. This seems haphazard, but it could not be more deliberate.
  2. As we travel the journey—sometimes walking alone, other times huddled tightly together—we must take turns carrying each other’s baggage, lightening each other’s load.
  3. There are times when we need to rest before the next scheduled stop; other times when we need to feel our momentum and blow right past it.
  4. There will be times when we hurt or disappoint each other; times when we hurt or disappoint ourselves. Times when we surprise each other and ourselves.
  5. Sometimes when it appears we have failed, we have really prevailed.

Buen camino.


Filed under Movies, Television and Radio


Much has already been written about Woody Allen’s new movie, Midnight in Paris, yet all through the movie I thought of things I’d like to write about it. I loved everything about the film, and it spurred so many thoughts and reflections that I definitely plan to see it again.

Midnight in Paris is also about great writers and, because I know I’ll never be one, I’ve deemed it best to let the movie speak for itself. Pretty much.

There’s just one thing around the edges that perplexes me and it almost has nothing to do with the movie per se.

Before seeing the movie yesterday, I had read a lot of reviews, published by critics and posted by friends. I also took a glance at the synopsis in our paper’s Weekend section, just to get a refresher before I went. It was a decent recap that I found helpful. But—and, without checking, I assume this is required by the Motion Picture Association or some self governing body—the summary was followed by the obligatory caveat:  “Contains some sexual references and smoking.”

Smoking? Do we honestly need to warn viewers or the parents thereof that they might see characters smoking?

Oh, for heaven’s sake. It’s a Woody Allen movie that essentially takes place in Paris in the 1920s. Do we really think some 12-year-old will see Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald puffing away while listening to Cole Porter play piano in the background, and run to 7-Eleven for her first pack of Marlboros? At twice the price of a movie and Milk Duds?

As a parent, I understand the need to regulate our adolescents’ intake of adult themes. I know there are tweens all over the world telling their parents this very day that they’re seeing Kung Fu Panda 2, when they’re really sneaking into The Hangover 2. But if my kid went to the movies and came home with Ernest Hemingway as his role model, well, maybe that’s a bad example. Let’s just say if my kid came home from Midnight in Paris inspired to be a great writer, by a writer who happened to smoke cigarettes in Paris in the 1920s, is that something that merits a warning?

Hey, I grew up watching Lucy and Ricky Ricardo light up in virtually episode and I never smoked. Jeez.

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Filed under Movies, Television and Radio, Rants and Raves

Green-eyed fan

My husband makes no secret of the fact that he is wildly in lust with actress Natalie Portman. He quivered all the way through Black Swan. From the seat next door, I could tell he was projecting himself onto the screen with her. Never mind that he is almost old enough to be her grandfather.

Just a few days ago, he harrumphed at the fact that she’s starring in a romantic role opposite Ashton Kutcher in the upcoming No Strings Attached. His feeling is that Kutcher is no match for Portman’s talent, beauty and experience. I am pretty sure my husband won’t be rushing to see his love share a screen—or bed—with the actor he pretty much considers a goofball.

On the flip side, I am an Ashton Kutcher fan and have been since he played a goofball on That 70s Show. Never mind that I am more than old enough to be his mother. Apparently, he’s quite intelligent. He can act okay enough, is plenty handsome and, I dare say, is pretty darned appealing.

Here’s the funny thing. According to a Vanity Fair piece appearing online yesterday, my husband isn’t alone. In fact, the magazine’s Juli Weiner has a theory about why men won’t be rushing to see the No Strings Attached: Jealousy.

Remember, in Black Swan, while sizzingly sexy, Portman didn’t play opposite a male lead per se. This, I suppose, is why men may have found it easy to imagine themselves on screen beside her. Weiner posits that one reason men aren’t eager to see her upcoming movie is that “men are saddened, revolted, and tortured by jealousy at the mere thought of Portman’s paramours.”

Very well then. The movie opens January 21st. Who’s up for a girls’ (well, middle-aged ladies’) night out? The guys can stay home and weigh in on VF‘s poll, “Who Is the Person You’d Least Like to Imagine Sleeping with Natalie Portman?” (As of this posting, John Mayer’s in the lead.)


Filed under Family and Friends, Movies, Television and Radio, Reading

Tale of two cities

This is a tale of two movies.

Last weekend, like many Washingtonians, I rushed to see Fair Game, the tale of an investigation into the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq which, through a series of political and media responses, led to the outing of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame. International intrigue. Political power plays. Criminal charges against a White House official. It’s a true story set in the nation’s capital and cities around the world.

Washingtonians like movies set in our back yard. We are eager to see if the movie-makers got it right—the geography, the photography, the historiography.

 I wonder whether, in other cities, Fair Game is getting as much love at the box office as, oh, I don’t know, anything else.

Saturday night, I arrived at the theater 35 minutes before show time to find the movie already sold out. I envied my fellow wonks who would be nestled comfortably in their stadium seats, taking in the talent of Sean Penn in the role of former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, Plame’s husband, who played a pivotal role in this historic real-life drama. I immediately got tickets for Sunday.

In the meantime, though, I was already in a movie mood. So I drove to my local shopping mall and saw Morning Glory, about a fictitious national morning news show. I’ve always thought it would be fun to work in broadcast news so, for me, this movie was a fantasy. Obviously, it takes place in New York, a city I love but know only as an outsider. A fantasy story taking place in a fantasy city.

For this reason, I didn’t concern myself with believability or accuracy or geography for that matter. I didn’t wonder if a taxi transporting a character six blocks can drive from Point A to Point B without crossing three boroughs, or whether or not a station can deviate from its scheduled programming to air a live feed from an hour away on three seconds’ notice. It’s fantasy; I don’t care.

So Morning Glory was amusing and entertaining—because all I had to do was sit back, get an artificial glimpse into the TV news business and munch popcorn. And try not to wonder whether the message was a lampoon or defense of what network morning programs have become.

Sunday it was back to Washington and back to reality with Fair Game. I found the movie to be very well done, the acting superb. There was one little geographic inaccuracy.

Joe Wilson hopped in a cab and asked to be taken to The Palisades. Before long, an overly chatty cab driver got on Wilson’s nerves and Wilson asked the driver to pull over. “I’ll walk,” he said. As he got out of the cab, we see that he is at the U.S. Capitol–seven miles from The Palisades.

It wasn’t fun to relive such an unfortunate event in U.S. history and I left feeling uncomfortable. But at least it was about something real. Two thumbs up.

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Filed under Movies, Television and Radio, News, Politics

Bring’em back

I just heard about a new book about which I could get pretty excited. My dilemma is whether to go ahead and order now it or hope I get it for Christmas.

It’s called Let’s Bring Back: An Encyclopedia of Forgotten-Yet-Delightful, Chic, Useful, Curious, and Otherwise Commendable Things from Times Gone By and it was written by the Huffington Post’s Lesley M.M. Blume.

By how you know I am quite nostalgic;  just the mention of a blast from the past lifts my spirits.

According to the product description on Amazon.com, the book “invites you to consider whatever happened to cuckoo clocks? Or bed curtains? Why do we have so many “friends” but have done away with the much more useful word “acquaintance”? All of these things, plus hot toddies, riddles, proverbs, corsets, calling cards, and many more, are due for a revival. Throughout this whimsical, beautifully illustrated encyclopedia of nostalgia, Blume breathes new life into the elegant, mysterious, and delightful trappings of bygone eras, honoring the timeless tradition of artful living along the way. Inspired by her much loved column of the same name and featuring entries from famous icons of style and culture, Let’s Bring Back leads readers to rediscover the things that entertained, awed, beautified, satiated, and fascinated in eras past.” Are you aquiver?

Learning about Let’s Bring Back reminded me of another book that evokes similarly fond memories.

American Greats was edited by Stanley Marcus (of Neiman Marcus) and Robert A. Wilson. It too revisits innovations and events that made a significants on American life. For example, the Corvette, the ticker tape parade and Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, among 280. American Greats is more of a coffee table book, which makes leafing through the photos and commentary all the more fun.

Stanley Marcus has since passed away, but I’d like to share a little story about Robert Wilson, if I might.

Bob Wilson and I worked for the same company about 20 years ago, though our paths crossed only a few times. He was far more senior than I. I admired him as one of the brightest and most creative minds in the company–and one of the humblest. Ten years later, in 2000, I was delighted to have our paths cross again. We had both gone in different directions but found ourselves working on a video shoot for a day. At the end of the day, I was driving him to the train and was looking to make polite conversation. I had remembered he had young children when we knew each other before. So I asked, “How are your boys doing?” Bob replied, “Very well, thanks. Luke and Andrew just finished filming Charlie’s Angels and Owen is in a movie called Meet the Parents.” It didn’t compute.

About a week later, I received an autographed copy of American Greats, with a note thanking me for my work on the project. It wasn’t until I was watching the closing credits of The Royal Tenenbaums—starring Owen Wilson and Luke Wilson and co-written by Owen–that it clicked.

Serious digression, I know. The point was to do three things:

  1. Tell you how intrigued I am about Let’s Bring Back
  2. Encourage you to pick up your own copy of  American Greats
  3. Ask you, what treasures or American greats would you like to bring back?


Filed under Marketing/Advertising/PR, Movies, Television and Radio, Reading

Toy commercials

It seems to me that, the older we get, with all the life experiences we’ve accumulated, the less easily shocked we should be, when, in reality, the more easily shocked we actually are.

I was puttering around the house yesterday afternoon and had the television on in the background. The channel was Comedy Central and the movie Coneheads was playing. Fun little film, based on the 1970s Saturday Night Live skit. Star-studded. Light-hearted. PG-rated. My son saw and enjoyed it when he was five. It provided a sweet backdrop for the chores I was doing on my lunch hour.

Then, all of a sudden, thwack. It could have been one of SNL’s commercial parodies. But it was real. It was shocking. It was noon, for heaven’s sake.

The commercial was advertising the Tri-Phoria Massager. “Tri” because it’s three massagers in one. “Massager” because, if you look online, you will see the product name that isn’t permitted on television. I’ll give you two clues that reveal what it is. One, it’s manufactured by Trojan. Two, it’s shaped like a, well, like a Conehead.

I won’t be inserting, uh, er, placing any links in this post to product websites or video commercials because I’m already embarrassed and paranoid about where my research has taken me. You can find these on your own.

Just a word of advice: if Coneheads comes back on over the weekend, don’t watch it with your kids. And, if you do, plan ahead to explain why the Tri-Phoria is different from other toys they see advertised on TV.

Tri-Phoria, Transformer. Could be a frightening mistake.

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Filed under Marketing/Advertising/PR, Movies, Television and Radio, Uncategorized

Toy with me

Last weekend my husband and I, sans child, went to see Toy Story 3.

Somehow I managed to miss 1 and 2, even though our son was six when the first one came out; perhaps these were part of a guys’ night out.

Friends and family members who remember what an awful time I had when our son left for college in 2006 made sure I saw Toy Story 3 and that I brought along plenty of Kleenex.  Used every last one.

We weren’t the only childless adults in the theater, which is a testament to this particular series of Pixar animated films and, I dare say, to the therapeutic effect of being surrounded by toys for two hours.

Until we got to the heartbreaking part where Boy leaves Mom, I enjoyed re-living my own childhood through the animated toys. 

I had practically every one of those classic toys.  Those I did not, my brothers or cousins or friends did.  Someone in our family, perhaps grandparents, had the old cymbal-slapping monkey.  My brothers had the See ‘n Say The Farmer Says, as did our son.  I like to think of that one as onomatopoeia machine.  I loved the telephone on wheels that googled its eyes when you pulled it along on its string.  I also had a doll in about as good of shape as Big Baby, abused by love.  I had a few Barbies, but not Metrosexual Ken.  Oh, and who can forget Slinky Dog?

After seeing the movie, I went up to our attic, where a few of our son’s old toys have retired, and to the basement, where the old books and games are, to apologize for sending them there.  I pulled some fire engines off the shelf and rolled them to a make believe emergency–big pileup of Matchbox cars–and paid overdue homage to some other old friends.

One fellow who was never banished to Floors 3 or B was Pippo, a sock monkey named for the series of Helen Oxenbury books we enjoyed so much.  He still lies on our son’s bed, mainly to keep alive the childhood spirit of the room in the absence of our boy, now grown and living out of state.  I suppose Pippo is our Woody.

I think I’ll see if my husband wants to play Candyland tonight.  We can call it a playdate with destiny.


Filed under Family and Friends, Movies, Television and Radio, Reading

What’s your line?

One of my readers requested I write a piece on memorable lines from movies.  Initially I loved the idea.  We all have our favorites.  The reader kicked off her request with a classic line, uttered by Olympia Dukakis in Steel Magnolias: “The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize.”  From that same movie I always liked:  “If you can’t say anything nice about anybody, come sit by me.”

As I developed the piece I broke out in hives because I didn’t know where to stop.  I would love to know yours but please, don’t break out in hives.

First, let’s eliminate all the obvious ones:  “Go ahead, make my day.”  “You can’t handle the truth.”  “Frankly my dear…”  And let’s clear away this one that’s going around now, from Get Him to the Greek, “When the world slips you a Jeffrey, stroke the furry wall.”  I already got some great quotes from Princess Bride and Monty Python movies on my June 2 post on bdelygmias.

I’ll throw out a few and let’s see where they take us. Perhaps you’d like to respond either by identifying the movie or, better yet, giving me another line from the same movie.  Be forewarned, there might be multiple quotes from the same movie.  Or, feel free to post one or more of your own, with or without the movie cited.

  1. Don’t much excite you except whores…and biscuits.
  2. Does this proposition entail my dressing up as Little Bo Peep?
  3. The Zen philosopher Basho once wrote, ‘A flute with no holes is not a flute. A donut with no hole is a Danish.’
  4. We consider ourselves bi-coastal if you consider the Mississippi River one of the coasts.
  5. I got off that boat with nothing but my dancer’s belt and a tube of ChapStick.
  6. We have so much in common.  We both love soup.  And snow peas.
  7. There’s what’s right and there’s what’s right and never the twain shall meet.
  8. Now you take that diaper off your head and you put it back on your sister!
  9. I found myself driving past convenience stores…that weren’t on the way home.
  10. Value this time in your life kids, because this is the time in your life when you still have your choices, and it goes by so quickly. When you’re a teenager you think you can do anything, and you do. Your twenties are a blur. Your thirties, you raise your family, you make a little money and you think to yourself, “What happened to my twenties?”  Your forties, you grow a little pot belly, you grow another chin. The music starts to get too loud and one of your old girlfriends from high school becomes a grandmother.  Your fifties, you have a minor surgery. You’ll call it a procedure, but it’s a surgery. Your sixties, you have a major surgery, the music is still loud but it doesn’t matter because you can’t hear it anyway.  Seventies, you and the wife retire to Fort Lauderdale, you start eating dinner at two, lunch around ten, breakfast the night before.  And you spend most of your time wandering around malls looking for the ultimate in soft yogurt and muttering “how come the kids don’t call?” By your eighties, you’ve had a major stroke, and you end up babbling to some Jamaican nurse who your wife can’t stand but who you call mama.  Any questions?

Oh, no, we didn’t even touch Young Frankenstein.  Or any Woody Allen.  Hives.

Hint:  If you are totally stumped, check the tags below for clues.


Filed under Movies, Television and Radio, Quotes

Monica and Erma

In the book-turned-movie Julie and Julia, the character played by Amy Adams blogged about her pursuits to model the work of her idol, Julia Child. She shared her joys and frustrations as she plunged fearlessly into the metaphoric bouillabaisse of gourmet French cooking.  In her daily blog entries, she assessed her own success or failure to meet each challenge.

My idols are good writers.  They range from Pulitzer Prize winning authors (John Kennedy Toole) and news journalists (Helen Thomas) to skilled story tellers (Craig Dees) and clever bloggers (Carla Curtsinger of The Sticky Egg).

I especially love humor writers.  Erma Bombeck is my Julia Child.  If I were to embark on a project à la Julie and Julia, it would be terribly humbling.  I dare not even try to model Erma’s artistry.  Even so, as I look back on my 50 years, it would be tempting to wonder whether I suffered as many pitfalls and pratfalls as I did just so I could amuse my friends with stories of my own foibles.

Even though I am the child of two very funny people, one a professional humorist, my true talent lies not in producing humor but rather in passionately appreciating it.  And while this blog may be a platform for evangelizing about delicious prose, I hope you’ll also allow me to also tell an occasional personal story in homage to this dear icon.

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Filed under All Things Wordish, Family and Friends, Foibles and Faux Pas, Reading