Saturday, March 26, 2011

One for the Irish: THE BOXER

I realize that St. Patrick's Day is over and all Irish celebration along with it. However, this month cannot pass into nothingness without my official ode to this (perhaps my favorite) movie.

Very few films take on the modern IRA issues in Northern Ireland and even fewer of them are desperately romantic. I have always been fascinated with the Irish Catholic/Protestant clash or more specifically those who still want home rule for Northern Ireland and those who want the British to remain their government. If you're at all interested or curious about the modern outcomes of this ancient feud, this is your flick.

It's the story of Danny Flynn, a man who has spent the last 14 years in prison for his involvement in an IRA attack when he was just a boy. He's done his time and has determined to rebuild his life without any further association with the IRA who he saw through in prison and blames for taking his youth. But it's not that easy. The IRA is on the Eve of peace talks with the British Government and some of the rebels don't feel that peace should ever exist between the two cultures. They resent Danny Flynn coming home, to their Catholic neighborhood and not pledging his loyalty again. Especially when he is clearly still in love with his child hood sweetheart and doesn't care that she is married to a prisoner of the cause. She's also the head of the IRA's daughter.

The characters in this movie are so astonishingly real and moving. They stay with you forever.

WARNING: The accent is difficult to understand the first time. I mean, I'm an avid anglo watcher and even I struggled at first. Also, there is a LOT of swearing in this movie. I mean, a lot!

But, having said that -- it is the most romantic, passionate, interesting, haunting movie I've seen in years. And it may be my favorite movie ever. Which I've never said before about anything.

Daniel Day Lewis, Emily Watson. The Boxer.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Come On People -- Romance Novels -- Admit it already!

I'm having a problem. The only book I've been able to stomach in the last three months has been a romance novel by Julia Quinn. And I read it in one night.

I wish I could say this hasn't happened before.

It has.

The truth is, about a year and a half ago when I was in London, my mother pulled out "The Duke and I", the first in the Quinn Bridgerton series, because she couldn't concentrate on the plane over. After scoffing and rolling my eyes and looking down from my lofty classic lit heights, I read the damn thing my first night there.

But that's not all.

Soon, EVERY time we passed anything that MIGHT have books in it, I ran in and died six hundred deaths every time I had to ask some seventeen year old Oasis tee shirt wearing clerk if they had any Julia Quinn. At Waterstones, he actually said, "I'm sorry. That would be in the FEMALE section." As if I were asking for tampons. Pretty similar though, when you think about it and equally embarrassing. I read 7 books on my vacation and came home and finished every single book she has ever written.

Why?! What is this power they hold? I don't like other romance authors, can't bear the idiocy and yet, say Julia Quinn and I'm a slave for you!

Help me readers, what is this mystic force romance writers hold over us? Why are the books impossible to put down? How is it that they MUST be read the very first night of purchase or we will simply diiiiiieeeee?

I have lovely books at home, romantic, thought provoking, ambient books. And there they remain, at home. At least for these last three months.

Julia! You've ruined me!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Top 5 Things I know about Love So Far

HAPPY NEW YEAR my blogging friends! I don't often think of love, at least, I don't often think of myself qualified to speak on the subject. After all, what do I know? My longest relationship lasted three years (two of which we were in different countries) and ended with one phone call. And I pride myself on being single. I do it well. I'm not one of those girls who has been planning her wedding since she was three or sitting around drowning my sorrows if I don't have a man of the moment. I only care sometimes and it usually lasts for an hour.


I'm thinking about it tonight. The reasons for this are not important. We all think about it sometimes, don't we? And I've realized that after 35 years in the game, I have realized some absolute truths. Take it with a grain of salt and chalk it up to Gigi's life experience:

#1.) If a guy wants to, he will. IF A GUY WANTS TO, HE WILL!!! There are no exceptions to this rule. Ever. Even if he's shy, EVENTUALLY, he will. You might have to wait longer than you want to but, if he wants to, he will. This includes calling, asking out, getting your number, kissing you, keeping dates, etc... If a guy wants to he will. No exceptions.

#2.) Most of female heartbreak comes from ignoring rule number one. We make exceptions that don't exist because we want someone so much. It doesn't work like that. If he didn't ask, if he doesn't call, if he doesn't kiss you, if he doesn't propose, cry, scream, throw stuff at the tv, go on an epic road trip with your best girlfriends, your sisters and recognize him for what he is -- not the guy for you. He doesn't see who you are, therefore, he does not deserve the tears that are being shed for him. He's not shedding them for you.

#3.) Live your life like a princess so that you will not be tempted to believe you are worthless. I don't mean a princess like, a self-indulgent diva who believes in being Kim Kardashian. I mean a lady who behaves like a lady, presents herself as a lady, lives her life as a lady and therefore has no reason to doubt that she doesn't absolutely deserve and expect to be treated like a lady. The only reason jackasses are allowed to behave like jackasses is because we women allow it to happen. Think of all those guys with the naked ladies in the windows. 9 times out of ten you see a WOMAN get out of the car. That man gets away with that jackass behavior and Heaven knows what else because the woman he is with is soooooo excited to be given ANY attention from ANYONE that she has been sold the mess of pottage. She has forfeited her kingdom and her birthright. You are a princess. You are of noble potential. Live up to it. Believe yourself to be a lady and behave like one. When this is done, jackasses don't even apply for the job.

#4.) Be the person you want to end up with. I've heard this before of course. I've lived my life this way and let me tell you that being Mormon or LDS really, seriously, limits your dating pool. What happens when even in your limited dating pool, the guys are a serious deterioration of who you are? Nothing. Still be the person you want to end up with because you will. Even if there is no guy -- you will end up with you. That's an absolute guaruntee. Get the education, discover the places, be as kind and generous and talented as you would imagine your dream man to be. Why? Because then you will have the world and even better, you will have you -- your best you. No one can create your happiness, contentment or peace but you. IF a man who values the same things/qualities you do does present himself and follows rule number one, you will be glad you were prepared and ready to meet him. If not, you will be the architect of your own life and start living RIGHT NOW instead of waiting for someone else to start it for you.

#5.) Have faith. If you're doing what you're supposed to, being who you're supposed to be, hope, love, happiness and awe inspiring things will find you. Your destiny, whatever that is for YOU, will find you exactly the way it's supposed to and the battle scarring of horrendous regret will not be your lot. YOU will be living YOUR life and in the words of "Under the Tuscan Sun", "impossibly good things can happen" and they will happen to you.

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all your loves and loves lost and loves yet to come!

Friday, December 17, 2010

It Feels Like a Charles Dickens night...

In 1843, Charles Dickens had writer's block. Anyone who's ever started and restarted and thrown away and screamed to the Heavens for some kind of answer know what horror is contained in those little, tiny words:

Writer's Block

So he went to Scotland, on holiday, as the legend goes. He had Scottish ties and found himself wandering around Greyfriar's Kirkyard (or cemetery to us). Now, this isn't just any ghost yard. T.S. Elliot and JK Rowling have also found their literary salvation among the haunts there. But it is a sad place too. Trouble and poltergeists loom large in the cemetery's past and if you ever have a chance to do the ghost tour there .... be prepared to scream like a little girl. I did
And maybe Dickens witnessed his own apparition there on the cemetery grounds because when he came upon the gravestone of one " Scroogie", he misread it for "Scrooge". According to the guides of the churchyard, Dickens was instantly intrigued by the great and powerful tombstone, obviously designed for a great and powerful man. And yet, there were no flowers, no epitaphs, no evidence of any kind that this man was remembered for all his wealth and power.

And it got him thinking.

Today, a hundred and fifty years or so later, the Western world pretty much recognizes Christmas in the way Charles Dickens imagined it should be recognized in 1843. It's interesting to note that before "A Christmas Carol", the traditions mentioned in the story were not necessarily traditions of the day. Lighting the Christmas tree was a foreign concept brought over by a foreign Prince (Albert) and the idea of Christmas Eve parties and carols were how Dickens imagined it should be. And so it is. Even now.

We all have our favorite versions, of course. And aren't we fierce about defending our "Scrooge" as the greatest? My vote is always for the ONLY English version filmed actually in England with an all English cast: "Scrooge" 1970 with Albert Finney. It is the ultimate version of all versions with the deepest despair and the most miraculous of transformations and rejoicing.

And what of "Scroogie"? The forgotten man who was destined to inspire one of the most miserable misers in history? According to the experts at the graveyard, he was actually a most generous and giving soul who was well loved in his community. Or so the story goes. And yet, wasn't it said the same of Scrooge after the ghosts were through with him? Perhaps "Scroogie" had a bit of Jacob Marley in him, his last kind deed was inspiring a young writer with writer's block.

Charles Dickens in 1843

MERRY CHRISTMAS Scroogie and Charles Dickens and all of you wonderful readers and your families!

God bless us, every one!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I Met Kate Morton!

First, let me say, that I've been a dismal blogger, completely failing in my planned Halloween/ Thanksgiving/ Christmas rants. However, I'm repenting of my absence now by telling you all that last night I MET KATE MORTON, author of "House at Riverton", "Forgotten Garden" and most recently, "The Distant Hours."

It wasn't easy.

But it had to be done. When I read House at Riverton, I was hypnotized for days and, as a writer, rather depressed. Who can compare with that for a first novel? It made my own little manuscript look like left over play-do on a Seasame Street set from 1982. And I'll be honest, I cried. A lot. But then, when the tears had stopped (or, I was in public again) I realized how grateful I was that there still were true artists in the world. Kate Morton is the real thing. Like Bronte, like Austen, like Cezanne. She's it.

Her and JK Rowling. But I digress.

As I sat down to read the Distant Hours on Sunday night, a little needling started at the back of my brain. "I wonder if she would ever visit Vroman's bookstore in Pasadena, California?" Now, if you've never been to Vroman's, I'm sorry. One of the last independent bookstores on the West Coast and just about the cutest thing you'll ever see, it also happens to be 2 hours away from where I live. However, back in the day when my best friend and I used to do cool things like hang out in independent bookstores, we accidentally found ourselves at a book signing for Anne Rice. And if Anne Rice could be in Vroman's, why not Kate Morton?!

So I looked. On Sunday night. She was scheduled -- on TUESDAY!

Oh how the logic and reason tumbled together with laziness and fatigue shouting that driving to Pasadena after teaching for 6 hours only to drive 2 hours home again might actually kill me. But this was Kate Morton, the only living writer I worship (and JK Rowling). So I did it. Yes I did. Got there two hours early ( you never know! The woman has sold more than 3 million books! Sheesh!) And I waited, alone for two hours. In the end, there were about 20 of us and I think I was the only one who had actually read the book. 20 people. For Kate Morton!


Those of you who write will understand. Most of the time you are a foreign species worrying about things most people would never consider. You have an inner dialogue that goes something like this "but she can't just go out in the forest, who would go out into forest in the middle of the winter. I don't care if there is a glow in the woods. Who cares?! I suck! This is horrible. My character has no backbone, no pacing, no motivation. I have no backbone, no pacing, no motivation. I'm fat." Something like this. We think about things like word choice and tone and bang our heads against walls when we suddenly realize that we've spent 2 long years writing a half-wit version of Jane Eyre. How marvelous it was to actually talk to someone who is so decidedly an expert and realize that she speaks "writer" too. That I speak "writer". I'm not making it up. My weirdness is allowed. I'm part of a group. A group with Kate Morton in it.

She spoke of her love of reading, the process of writing her book and the writing process in general. And here's the deal, folks, she's living the dream. She is quite simply as stunningly poised and beautifully elegant as her characters. She is an international best seller on an international book tour after spending 6 months living in England for research for the Distant Hours.

And she's gorgeous.

If there is a Heaven, I am convinced it looks a lot like the world of Kate Morton and if you want a peek into what that is, pick up one of her books -- you'll swim in it.

You can search here for my review on "House at Riverton".

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Top Halloween Movies For Cold and Stormy Night.

I'm not the kind of girl who likes gory, violent movies. Halloween for me is pumpkins and magic and something mysterious in the air. And Halloween is not Halloween without these three FABULOUS films.

Practical Magic is delicious Halloween fun and every time I curl up with my cocoa, I want
Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock's hair, their magical powers and THEIR HOUSE!!

The house in San Juan on the Puget sound

The Conservatory

The Kitchen

The second fabulous pic on a romantically stormy night is The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. What do you do when you are a beautiful widow who's just moved into her dream cottage by the sea and find you're now haunted by a devilishly attractive sea captain?

Rex Harrison is the Captain who loves Lucy

Lucy can't understand why she's hypnotized by this portrait until...

... she sees the real thing...

And finally! It may sound childish, but if you've never seen Disney's "Legend of Sleepy Hollow", you are in for a treat!! First, the illustrations are the most idyllic New England, Halloween scenes ever -- it's only 30 minutes but it is like chocolate cake after a steak dinner. Halloween isn't Halloween without Ichobad Crane!

Curl up on the couch, light the fire, unplug the phone and feel a little bit of magic.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Halloween and Ramalama Bang Bang

It's time to feel a little spooky, to wonder about that sudden breeze as you walk home alone, to peer into dark corners and wonder if they're truly empty.

Halloween is coming.

Where I live, there is only sunshine and brutal heat. When I want to feel that tingly of the unknown, something romantic and mysterious, nothing sets the mood like, "Ramalama Bang Bang" by Roisin Murphy.

Roisin Murphy
More specifically I watch Wade Robeson do his thing on "So You Think You Can Dance" and let the 18th Century undead give me goosebumps all up and down my arms.
And I think about becoming a professional dancer -- again.

And Hot Australian coreographers.

If you haven't seen it yet:


Now that you've seen it at last:

You're welcome :)