As mentioned in my previous post, there was some plank-walking during our BVI sailing trip. Yes, we were overtaken by a Pirate on the high seas. Here’s how it went down…

Following a long and turbulent sail to the  island of Anegada, we caught a local taxi to Loblolly Bay and the Big Bamboo Restaurant and Bar. While noshing on a bit of conch stew,

Conch Stew

the local goat stopped by to say hello. Now, this was no ordinary goat. This goat was a  “spy goat”  equipped with a spy camera and trained to infiltrate unsuspecting rich American tourists. (more…)

This weekend, HK and I went to see The Descendants.  Based on Kaui Hart Hemmings’ 2007 novel,  George Clooney plays Matt King, a workaholic whose neglected wife, Elizabeth, is in a coma following a boating accident. He is suddenly faced with the responsibility of taking care of his 2 daughters; a 10 year-old smartass named Scottie, and 17 year-old Alexandra, who has been sent away to boarding school. Thrown into the role of Father, Matt readily admits he was the “backup parent,” although it becomes increasingly apparent that his wife was no Mother of the Year herself.

Further complicating his life, Matt, who is descended from Hawaiian royalty, is the primary beneficiary of  25,000 acres of pristine, undeveloped land on Kaua’i, and must make the decision to sell it to developers or keep it an unspoiled paradise. Beau Bridges plays the greedy cousin pushing him to “make them all rich”, and all of Hawaii is awaiting his final decision. No small burden to bear, especially given that he seems to be getting shit from everyone.

Only after Matt decides to become the husband and father that he should have been does he get blindsided. First, he learns that his wife will not recover, and her living will stipulates that she not be left to linger.  So the family and friends must prepare to say goodbye to her. Adding insult to injury, Alexandra informs her father that Elizabeth was having an affair. She has been furious with her Mother, and Matt tries to soften her resentment while experiencing his own emotions. Throughout, Clooney balances the fine line between overwhelming anger/grief beautifully.

Making the dutiful  journey to tell Elizabeth’s parents the news, Alexandra demands that Sid, her stoner boyfriend come along.  Sid is the kid that speaks before thinking, provoking others with an innocence perfectly played. Elizabeth’s father, played  by Robert Forster, idealizes his daughter while blaming Matt.  His struggle to withhold the truth has us grinding our teeth in frustration, but fortunately, the director throws us some comic relief in time to take the edge off.

When Matt travels to Kaua’i to confront Elizabeth’s lover, he learns that the adulterer is married himself,  adding even more layers of complicated emotion. Utilizing Alexandra’s savvy, we watch the two form a bond that was previously non-existent. In fact, the bonds formed in The Descendants is what keeps this movie from being as depressing as it could potentially be.

Alexander Payne (Sideways, Election) directs this family dramedy with perfection.  It is a delicate balance between human tragedy and sometimes hilarious (but not forced) humor.  The characters are real and fallible, and IMHO, this is one of Clooney’s finest roles, not to mention one of my favorite films of 2011.


HK’s not happy with me. After I post this, I’m sure he won’t be speaking to me. But wait…he doesn’t even read my blog, so, he’ll never know, right? OK, Shhhhhh…..

Saturday night, we had our regular DAAM night at the home of our friends Jenny and Rick. DAAM is an acronym for Dinner And A Movie, and we’ve been doing it not for a couple of years.

Here’s how it works…  We agree on a date (Saturday night), come up w/ a movie well in advance (usually a choice of several, popular vote wins), then Jen assigns one course per party.  We have a dedicated group of 8 (4 couples) that participate, and we have all become really good friends.  We didn’t know one of the couples, and knew the other 2 pretty well through neighborhood stuff, but not on one-on-one interactions.

This week’s movie was Tootsie. That’s the movie from 1982 where Dustin Hoffman is a struggling actor unable to get hired due to his rep of being “difficult”. If you haven’t seen the movie, or haven’t seen it in a while, go rent it.  It also stars Jessica Lange, Dabney Coleman and Bill Murry, along w/ lots of other familiar faces.

So, I had the main course (NY style pizza), Jen served champagne, Al and Sue brought NY Cheesecake. We always prepare food based on the “theme” of the movie.

The day of the party, I explained to HK that the protocol was cross-dressing, (since that is what Dustin Hoffman had to do to get the gig).  I helped him pick out a suitable skirt and top of mine, along w/ my “Foxy Cleopatra” wig and some big glasses. He really wasn’t too enthused about the whole dressing up part, but the group had previously talked it up.  I looked cute wearing one of his shirts along w/ jeans and a cute hat. Off we drove to our DAAM night.

We walked in to greet everybody and…for fuck’s sake— NOBODY else dressed the part. Nope, HK is none too happy with me.

Me and Tootsie

This week my friend Jen and I went to see The King’s Speech at the Tara Theater.  If you haven’t seen it yet, by all means go! This is a movie about persistence, perseverance and courage. With a good dose of humor thrown in.

Tom Hooper directed this historical drama of Britan’s King George VI and his nearly debilitating speech impediment. Yes, the King had a s        s      sssssss   stamm    er.   A stammer.   Colin Firth gives a stellar performance, portraying Prince Albert (referred to as Bertie) who eventually becomes the King.  He is so human, and you can see the pain and fear in his face when speaking publicly. I found myself sitting on the edge of my chair, silently cheering him on, trying to talk for him. At times, it was painful to watch, but in a good way.

We see Bertie talking to his intimidating father King George V, and the frustration he feels in not being able to properly communicate what he wants to say.  His father ridicules him, pushing him to “just say it”,  and Bertie falls deeper into his own inner turmoil.

Upon the Death of King George V, the heir to the throne is Bertie’s brother Prince Edward (known as David to the family). David is distraught not with his father’s death, but with the complications this will place on his life with his mistress, as he plans to marry her once she divorces her second husband. But Albert cannot retain the throne if he marries a divorced woman, and he accuses Bertie of trying to use this to usurp his position. I wanted to kick David in the nuts when he taunts his brother by stammering “B B B Bertie”

If the old adage “behind every good man is a great wife” is true, they had Bertie’s wife, Queen Elizabeth, in mind. Played by Helena Bonham Carter, she finds Lionel Logue, an unorthodox speech therapist (played by Geoffry Rush)  to help her husband. Unorthodox in that he has his new patient singing  his words and swearing his practice speeches.  (Jenny poked me in the arm when Berti breaks out with “fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck”–that is my favorite word, after all.)  It’s not often we see two men open up so completely to each other. Logue stays tough with Bertie, breaking down the social as well as emotional barriers between the two, eventually becoming life-long confidants and friends. The bond that eventually forms between the two men is heartening to watch. Bertie confides in Logue much of his painful childhood, and it is with Logue that Bertie finds his voice. I think it was this relationship that I most loved in the movie, although, for a historical drama, which I typically shy away from, the relationships were all well-developed and honest.

On the brink of WWII and the abdication of King Edward VIII, Bertie must deliver the most important speech of his life. With only 40 minutes to rehearse, he sends for Logue, who carefully and lovingly sees him through the speech.

I loved this movie and all of the emotions it evoked in me. Anger, pity, frustration, hope and joy. Now that’s a tough mission to accomplish.

Had I known “Black Swan” was a psychological thriller (some say “psycho-sexual” ) set in the world of ballet, I probably wouldn’t have gone, quite frankly. But Sunday was a shitty, dark, rainy day in Atlanta, and I had just finished lunch at my favorite little Lebanese cafe, and I was cold and bored.  Black Swan was playing in my favorite Art cinema nearby, so I just figured WTF?

Am I glad I did!

Black Swan, brilliantly directed by Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler) has just been nominated for 4 Golden Globes, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Natalie Portman) and Best Supporting Actress (Mila Kunis)

In the movie, Nina Sayers (Portman) lands the lead, dual role in the company’s artistic director’s (played seductively by Vincent Cassel as Thomas) version of Swan Lake. She is perfect for the White Swan, but pulling off the darker role of Black Swan is a stretch for the dancer.  Enter exotic Lily (Kunis-hot enough to make any hetero woman jump ship) whose brazen sexuality is a natural for the role.  A relationship of sorts forms between the two dancers, based on what,  we’re not quite sure.

Barbara Hershey plays Nina’s overbearing, ballet- obsessed Mother, who makes it clear that she gave up her “career” to raise Nina, and frankly, she spooked the bejesus out of me.  As an ex family therapist, I’ve seen lots of fucked-up Mother-Daughter relationships, but this is one for the books.  Especially unnerving is the scene in which virginal Nina takes Thomas’ advice to let herself go and  touch herself.  In the throes of a self-induced orgasm, Nina opens her eyes to find “Mommie-Dearest” sitting across the room. OMG!

Black Swan gives viewers a glimpse into the brutal world of ballet. Yes, brutal, both psychologically and physically. Winona Ryder has a brief but important role as Beth, the previous lead Swan, now cast aside for a newer, younger replacement.  We see the drive for perfection so tragically strong it can easily lead to self-destruction.  This is evident in the bloody picking,  scratching and purging we witness in Nina, as well as the suicide attempt of deranged Beth.

The entire movie seamlessly threads these discomforting, creepy, bloody scenes throughout. You know, the kind of scene where you tense your ass-muscles, avert your eyes, and hold your breath, but just can’t seem to get enough.

Combining artful operatic scenes with acid-trances and bloody horror, it is difficult to tell what is real and what is a dream, which is one of the tactics that makes this film so brilliant.  It is also what will undoubtedly make some purists dislike it.  Undoubtedly, Black Swan will be one of the most talked-about films of the year.

OMG!!!! It’s HERE! They finally made a movie about Facebook, and naturally, I had to go see it opening day! (If they knew what a fanatic I am about fb, I surely would’ve gotten premier tickets or something.) The movie is called “The Social Network” and I have to tell you, run, don’t walk to this masterpiece!

As you know by now, I am a big-time, heavy-duty facebook addict! I got hooked the first time I tried it. I have tried to kick my habit a couple of times, but the withdraws were too much! Body sweats, insomnia, lethargy and suicidal thoughts hounded me until I broke down and got my fix.  I realize that I am a slave to fb, and I’ve asked for the serenity to change…bla bla bla–

So you can imagine my utter delight when I learned about the movie. Watching the trailer online was like surfing porn for me–I swear, if I was a man, I’d have had a boner! I’ve watched it over and over. the trailer song, “Creep” originally by radiohead, re-done by Scala & Kolacny Brothers, mesmerizes me each time I hear it.

David Fincher’s film tells the story of  facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg (brilliantly played by sandal-clad/hoodie-wearing Jesse Eisenberg), but it is not a movie primarily about all things facebook. Rather, it is a study in human relationships, determination, success, failure and betrayal.  The movie opens with Zuckerberg and his (soon to be ex) girlfriend arguing, her calling him an asshole and breaking up. He rushes back to his dorm room and begins blogging about her fake bra size and what a bitch she is, and at that moment, that wonderful, angry, drunken moment, facebook is born.

Or was it? The movie centers around (more…)

Remember the  “doody” scene in the movie “Caddyshack” when some kid yells “doodie!!”  Ted Night makes Bill Murray drain the swimming pool?  Why am I asking this, you wonder?

Let me back up a bit.  About 2 years ago, a group of 8 friends started a “Dinner And A Movie” (DAAM) club. Every other month, we all converge at Rick and Jen’s house and bring a dish based on the theme of the movie.  After a couple of hours of good food and fun, we retreat downstairs to watch the movie in the “Mancave“.  We keep the movie light, usually a comedy. Movies we have watched in the past include “City Slickers”, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “This is Spinal Tap”.

For this week’s flick, with Caddyshack as the selected film (this year is the 30th anniversary of the movie), my contribution was “Baby Ruth dessert”.  We are free to do whatever we like with the given theme.  So here, with no further ado, is  my dessert.

Doo Doo! YUM!

Is there something special that you do with a group of friends?  I would love to hear about it here.

When I first learned that the book “Eat, Pray, Love” was being made into a movie, I was soooo not interested. However, my reasons for actually dishing out $7.50 for the matinee price to see it were threefold:

1. I wanted some “girl time” w/ my friend, and it was the only movie we could both agree on.

2. As the European travel editor over at, I wanted to do a movie review.

3. It’s hot as shit outside–movie theaters are nice and chilly!

Let me preface this by letting you in on the fact that I did not like the book. I liked the premise of soul-searching after a life crisis, especially one involving exotic travel, but I felt Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of the book, was totally self-absorbed and turned what could have been a beautiful adventure of self-realization into a whiny, rich-girl spa vacation. Wallowing in self-pity (divorce, failed love affair–whaaa.…) Liz decides to take 1 year sabbatical  divided neatly into 3 parts, beginning in Italy, where she will experience pleasure (read: self indulgence).  Julia Roberts plays the lead character, and I find it hard to feel pity for the dazzling beauty. Had she been rode hard and hung up wet, it may have stirred more emotion.

Next up is an ashram in India, where she devotes herself to finding spirituality. She befriends a crusty Texan and a reluctant Indian bride, both of whom have lessons to share, although you get the feeling that Liz wasn’t paying attention.  When she leaves, she has supposedly become enlightened, but it isn’t clear how that came to be. Was it the henna tattooed elephant?  Her duty to play a bubbly tour guide to an incoming group of devotees?

Ultimately, Liz ends up in Indonesia where she believes the perfect balance will magically illuminate her life.  Instead of allowing life to unfold as it may, Liz continues to control not only her experiences, but to “allow” the audience to see inside her over- indulgent mind. It seemed to me that any time the possibility of an “ah-ha” moment was afforded her, she turned it back to herself and made it, once again, all about her. UGH!  It’s  as if she expects her personal insights to become the universal truth, which, frankly, comes across as a bit patronizing.

Personally (and this comes from the social-worker inside me), I would rather have heard the gritty, real, fucked-up parts of herself that she keeps hidden well below the surface. The movie (and book) focus more on Liz’s magical year of exotic travel, never scratching the surface of human suffering.  Depressed? Looking for answers? Life not unfolding  quite as you hoped it would?  Run way for a year and gorge yourself on spaghetti and sexy men, and life will turn out fine. Just fine.

Hell, give me a nice advance to write a memoir while I take a year for self indulgence, and I’ll come up with a book, as well. And I guarantee it’ll have more substance than E,P,L.

OK, the Academy Awards are over. I watched about half of it, flipping back and forth between the Oscars and The Amazing Race (remember, I’m doing Competitours in June). I enjoyed the sparring between co hosts  Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin a lot. They work well together, in my opinion.

Over the course of 2009 and early 2010, I made an attempt to see most of the contenders. You can see a couple of my reviews here., although I did not review all of the movies I saw.

Did The Hurt Locker deserve to win Best Picture, etc?  While I liked the movie a lot, I didn’t think that is was worthy of best picture, although I do believe Kathryn Bigelow deserved best director.  I loved the movie-and the title made perfect sense, and the emotions evoked by the characters was riveting,  but for Best Picture, I’m thinking Avatar.

Was Jeff Bridges the Best Actor for Crazy Heart? Dunno-haven’t seen it yet, but likely. The trailer makes it look like he deserved to win. However, A Single Man’s Colin Firth had me from the start. OMG-he swallowed that character completely.

Sandra Bullock-best actress for The Blind Side.  Glad she won, love the gal.   We could probably be BFF’s.  However, (more…)

This weekend, my friend Mo and I went out for dinner and a movie.  We agreed on A Single Man, in part because the timing of the movie fit our schedules.

A Single Man is the directorial debut of fashion designer Tom Ford, and his departure from the fashion world is our gain when he decided to direct this movie.

The movie captures one emotion-packed day in the life of middle-aged college professor George Falconer.  Colin Firth plays George, who, following the death (more…)

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