Category Archives: Movies

friday randomness

Sky - 9-2-2016Orange-pink puffs dotting the sky tonight, brighter and more vivid than my cell phone photo above.

It’s been a busy week — a big project at work that required much focus and attention to detail combined with a stress test — and now I’m more than ready for a three-day weekend. As usual, we don’t have much planned. The Husband has been getting into watching old movies and we just finished watching Bonnie and Clyde. Like most people, I knew the basic premise of the story but never saw the movie. (A bonus: the late Gene Wilder is in this one.)

What I am planning is as much reading as I can pack into these few days. I just received a review book for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. A few more are on their way for another freelance assignment which I just landed this week and am thrilled about.

Also hoping to get at least one walk/run in. I’m attempting to do Couch to 5K, which deserves its own post.  I walked for a half hour on Thursday, including several very short (like 30 second) intervals of running.

One of my coworkers bought our entire office Chipotle for lunch today and I am now officially addicted to their burrito bowl and guacamole, which I’m sure I could live on for the rest of my life. Yes, I had never had Chipotle before today’s lunch. I live a very boring life.

Forget Donald Trump’s prognostication of taco trucks on every corner — just bring me Chipotle every single day.

99 Days of Summer BloggingThis is post #96 of 99 of my 99 Days of Summer Blogging posts. Almost there!





– I am hooked on The Piano Guys, whose music my cousin introduced to via Spotify. Most of my week at work was consumed by a pretty intense project and they were perfect

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currently …jing-a-ling-a-ling-a-ling-ling

Christmas 2012 (30)

poinsettia, at my mom’s

“It’s that time, Christmas time is here
Everybody knows, there’s not a better time of year
Hear that sleigh, Santa’s on his way
Hip, hip hooray, for Christmas vacation

Gotta a ton of stuff to celebrate
Now it’s getting closer, I can’t wait
Gonna make this holiday as perfect as can be
Just wait and see this Christmas vacation.” 
~ “Christmas Vacation” ~ written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, performed by Mavis Staples

Currently …
Quiet Sunday afternoon here, with the usual football on TV (we’ll get to see the Eagles tonight!) reading the papers and blogs, and a simmering crockpot on the counter.  I’m on the third day of a stubborn headache which isn’t responding much to the usual remedies (Advil, lots of water, several doses of my prescription Maxalt) but hopefully this disappears soon.  I know I had some gluten on several occasions last week, so that could be to blame along with the crazy weather. After near-record highs last week, colder (and more seasonal) weather has returned — along with the first dusting of snow —  but I’m hearing that the warmth may be making a comeback for Christmas.

Vacationing …
Thanks to having an abundance of use-’em-or-lose-’em vacation days remaining this year, I’m off from work until January 4!  (There’s one day that I’m planning to head into the office, but I’m anticipating that will be fairly casual and low-key.) Since the time off that I had at Thanksgiving was spent in the hospital with The Husband, I’m more than ready for this. I’m very much looking forward to a week of downtime with family, friends, maybe a movie or two, and some good books.

The WitchesReading …
Not much this week, actually. Still working on The Witches. This is good, but taking forever to get through.

Watching …
Speaking of Christmas vacations, last year we introduced the kids to the classic “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” We watched it again on Friday.  I can count on one hand the number of movies I’ve watched more than once (I’m not big on repeating many things) but this is one of them.

Not Watching …
Who else is completely uninterested in anything related to Star Wars? I saw the first three when I was little, and they never held much of an appeal for me. I remember having a Princess Leia doll but that’s about it. None of the three people I live with have any desire to see it either, which is good. (It’s also good for clearing out a lot of posts in my Feedly!)

Cooking …
I’m making a new crockpot recipe today (Yellow Split Pea Chowder) from 5 Ingredients or Less Slow Cooker Cookbook by Stephanie O’Dea. I’m using Trader Joe’s vegetarian soy chorizo in this, which is a new ingredient for us.

(Update: Of the four of us, only The Husband liked it. Too spicy for my taste.)

Shopping …
We’re only buying for the kids this year. No adults, so that helps. My kids usually don’t ask for very much at all, which makes them difficult to shop for. I have iTunes gift cards for both kids as well as our nephews and niece. I’m probably going to go shopping tomorrow and get a few little things, plus some clothes that they need.

Anticipating … 
Christmas week with family and friends!

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Best of the Burghosphere: And the Award Goes To …

Almost every week, it seems, Pittsburgh is being named to yet another list.  You know the ones I mean: those clickbait morsels that proclaim something to be the Best This or the Most That or the Top 10 Whatever, all compiled by every type of media outlet from Forbes to Nerdwallet. Judging by the accolades bestowed on Pittsburgh in the last two yearsMost Livable City! Top Ballpark in the Country!  Coolest American City You’ve Never Been To! — the best of life can be found at the confluence of three rivers.

Pittsburgh also happens to have the best bloggers and the best blogging community in the country.  It’s true.  I read a lot of blogs and most of their creators don’t talk about their cities with the pride that we have here. They certainly don’t talk about the blogging community in those cities, if indeed one exists at all. They simply don’t have what we do, which is 460 bloggers (the number of members in Pittsburgh Bloggers, a Facebook group) who are dedicated, innovative, caring, and connected.

We capture the heart of Pittsburgh and its 90 neighborhoods, offer insightful perspectives on issues that may be glossed over by traditional and mainstream media, and mobilize others to engage in diverse initiatives that impact change in our city and elsewhere. Above all, we’re a community of many strong, passionate voices that care deeply about Pittsburgh and its people.

Several months ago, my friend Sue had an idea to celebrate all the fantastic blogs and bloggers in Pittsburgh.  The result is the inaugural Best of the Burghosphere, and I’m delighted to be among 20 bloggers who are taking part in this project, which launches today in conjunction with National Blogging Month.

Web Banner Best of

For Best of the Burghosphere,  participating Pittsburgh bloggers were assigned another blogger and asked to become familiar with their site, if we weren’t already a reader. Our task was to think of a fun Best of the Burghosphere award category of our own creation that fit that person’s blog and announce this prestigious honor with a special post on November 1.

Boos2I was assigned to Booferson J. McGrugen (not necessarily his real name) who blogs at Boo’s Insane and Inane Ramblings (formerly known as The Insane and Inane Ramblings of the Man Dubbed Booferson J. McGrugen).  I was only somewhat familiar with his writing before I had the pleasure of exploring his blog, which I would categorize as one where Boo offers his perspective and opinions on movies, television, comics, politics, and issues such as increasing the minimum wage, smokers’ rights, and the current state of journalism. His stream-of-consciousness, matter-of-fact posts are direct, honest, and without a shred of egotistical pretense.

For the Best of the Burghosphere awards, I wanted to create a Pittsburgh-centric category for Boo that would recognize and pay homage to his extensive knowledge of movies. With that, I am pleased to present Booferson J. McGrugen of Boo’s Insane and Insane Ramblings with this distinguished award:

Best of the Burghosphere:
Official Movie Critic Blogger of Everything Filmed in Pittsburgh. Ever.

Boo, I hope this reflects the spirit of your blog and your passion for movies.  I enjoyed getting to know you and your blog through this project. I look forward to meeting you at one of the Best of the Burghosphere events and to reading more of your ramblings!

Special thanks to Sue Kerr for organizing this fun project and to Most Wanted Fine Art for hosting two Best of the Burghosphere parties later this month. Interested in joining us?  Click here for more information.


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Road Trippin’ with Rob Lowe

Love LifeLove Life
by Rob Lowe
Simon and Schuster
Audio published by Simon and Schuster
7 hours, 33 minutes 
Narrated by Rob Lowe

If I need to spend five hours in a car with anyone, Rob Lowe will do very nicely, thank you. I mean, I can certainly think of worse people to road trip with, y’know what I mean?

Now, celebrity memoirs by people who don’t even need their name on the book cover are usually not my thing. But if you’re a child of the ’80s as I am, you might find Love Life irresistible.

Because, well, it is. Almost all of it, that is. In my view, the first chapter had way too much name-dropping, too much talk about Malibu parties from back in the day, and too much … well, just too much.  (The comparison of the Dick Van Patten clan to the Kennedy family seemed over the top, making this feel no different than any other celebrity memoir.)

However, this quickly becomes the entertaining audio I was anticipating for my drive across Pennsylvania.

Rob Lowe filled my car with long-ago tales of debauchery, a tearjerker about sending his son off to college, and a female co-star who had a difficult time kissing him. (Note to Rob: if you ever find yourself in such a predicament again, I’ll be happy to help you out.)

Those of us of a certain age know all about Rob Lowe’s past.  And what makes this book work is that Rob Lowe knows that we know. He doesn’t hide from it; instead he self-deprecatingly transforms what he’s learned from decades of Hollywood experience into something resembling – OMG, this makes me sound like I’m ready for the fucking home – fatherly advice.

“I think it was Alfred Hitchcock who said 90 percent of successful movie-making is in the casting. The same is true in life. Who you are exposed to, who you choose to surround yourself with, is a unique variable in all of our experiences and it is hugely important in making us who we are. Seek out interesting characters, tough adversaries and strong mentors and your life can be rich, textured, highly entertaining and successful, like a Best Picture winner. Surround yourself with dullards, people of vanilla safety and unextraordinary ease, and you may find your life going straight to DVD.”

A little cheesy? Absolutely, without a doubt. But again, somehow, it works.

Rob Lowe is an entertainer. He’s spent his entire life doing exactly that. In that regard, Love Life does not disappoint.


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Remembering Farrah, and Her Role of Many Lifetimes


As it was five years ago, the news is all about the anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death today. Farrah Fawcett also deserves to be remembered, too. Here, then, is an encore of my tribute blog post from June 26, 2009.

With the passing of Farrah Fawcett yesterday, it’s easy to remember her for the 70s icon that she undoubtedly was. But it is her later work, first the play “Extremities” about a woman who fights back against a rapist and the 1984 groundbreaking (and controversial) movie “The Burning Bed” that I believe to be her most significant.

Her portrayals of women affected by violence and domestic abuse allowed others to become educated and aware of the signs of domestic violence. This was in a time when domestic violence was talked about in a whisper, if at all. “The Burning Bed” was a controversial movie for the heavy issues contained within.

It was a role that many other actresses might not have felt brave enough to take on, but which Farrah did. And by making a contribution to erase the stigma of rape and domestic abuse, she became a champion for women whose voices were silent. Finally, they were beginning to be heard.

They were heard on the hotlines, and “The Burning Bed” was reportedly the first such movie to include a toll-free domestic violence hotline at the closing credits, that of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which continues to be available for people in crisis at 800-799-SAFE. Anyone can call them and be referred to a shelter nearby. Farrah later became a board member of NDVH, and identified with the issue of domestic abuse.

There’s no way to measure how many women Farrah touched by her portrayal of a battered wife. But if she saved only one life, or inspired only one woman to seek help and find her way out, then Farrah becomes more iconic in a way that deserves our remembrance, honor and gratitude.

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The Sunday Salon: Summer Lovin’ (of Reading, of The Fault in Our Stars, of Young Love, of Sharing Books with My Girl)

The Sunday Salon

Just stopping into the Salon for a quick post today, as I have to work this afternoon. We’re kicking off the library’s Summer Reading Program today and quite the party is planned. For now, I’m enjoying some time on the deck reading the paper and blog posts.

The Girl and I have big plans for our own summer reading.  We saw “The Fault in Our Stars” last night and we both loved it. I could have done without the screams and swoons from the other tween/teenage girls in the theater, but that’s a small price to pay for what was a great movie. I thought it was so incredibly true to John Green’s novel, which The Girl brought with her to the movie (because, why not?) and is re-reading for the second time. She’s indicated that a third reading might not be out of the question.

Some people have expressed incredulity that a) I would want to see such a movie (clearly, they don’t know me as well as they think) and b) that I would take/allow my 12 year old to read/see this because it’s so sad. It’s about kids who have cancer.  Well, yes, this is true. Hazel’s cancer also happens to be thyroid cancer, the same kind that The Husband had. (You know, “the good cancer.”) Said with all the sarcasm I can muster.

It’s sad, yes, but as I wrote in my review of The Fault in Our Stars, you’ve cried over more superficial crap, like America’s Dancing With Real Housewives Who Have No Talent, amiright? I certainly have. This book – and now I can add, this movie – earns and is worthy of your tears.

It’s also an incredible example of young love done right. Yeah, there’s a love scene, but compared to other portrayals of teens and sexuality, this one handles it appropriately and with integrity. Some with more conservative views might (and will) disagree, but that’s my .02 on sale.

I have to admit, I love sharing this love of a particular book (and author, because she is now a major fangirl of John Green) with my daughter. Her summer reading plans include reading all of John Green’s novels and finishing the Harry Potter series.

As for my own summer reading, there’s a vacation in our future, so that means my vacation reading planning is in full swing. I have specific criteria for this, as I’ve written about previously. My full list isn’t complete, but two books that will be coming along are The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt (on my Kindle) and The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert, both of which fit nicely with The Big Book Summer Challenge being hosted by Sue from Book by Book.  I’ll have a separate post about that, perhaps later this week.

Till then, gotta run. Enjoy your Sunday!





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Pittsburgh’s Ready for Its Close-Up

If you’re in Pittsburgh, you have to be living under a rock – or at least not in Oakland – to know that the movie “Fathers and Daughters” is being filmed here.  I mean, this crew is everywhere. 

Apparently, Pittsburgh is standing in for New York. And let me tell yinz, it sure as hell feels like New York driving-wise when they decide to film during afternoon rush hour, as they did yesterday.

No matter. We’re getting used to the sight of stars in our midst.

Even yours truly, who walked right past Russell Crowe this afternoon and thought, that guy sorta looks familiar.

(Yeah. I really did.)

But even though moviegoers will be led to believe they’re watching a movie set in New York, someone saw fit to make sure that the crew remembered that they were in da Burgh.

Terrible Towel on Fathers and Daughters Movie Trailer

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