Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Suburbicon Movie Review

            Matt Damon and Julianne Moore starring. George Clooney directing.  A Coen Brothers script. What’s not to like? Well according to most reviews and the effervescent Rotten Tomatoes, quite a bit.
            Thank goodness I didn’t read any of the reviews before going to the movie. The game for me with books and movies is if I can guess what’s going to happen next. The twists in Suburbicon took me by surprise, not just once, but several times.
            I liked the movie. There weren't a lot of laughs, but I left the theater smiling.
            The plot seems straightforward. Set in the 50s in a "planned" community, twin sisters, Rose and Maggie (both played by Moore), sit on the Lodge family backyard porch with Nicky (Noah Jupe), Rose’s young son. A black middle-class family, the Meyers, has moved into the house on the street behind them and their backyards converge, separated by a short, flimsy fence. Neighbors have voiced their concern over the new family. They’re worried about a rise in crime and devaluation of their homes.
            A boy, about the same age as Nicky, steps out of the Meyers’ house with a baseball glove and ball, and tosses it into the air. Nicky’s Aunt Maggie tells him to invite their new neighbor to play catch.
            Nice, huh?
            Well, don’t get too comfortable with your assumptions. The movie unwinds with what seems to be a tale of two families: the black family and the white Lodge family. But except for the boys who become friends, the two families never cross paths. As unruly crowds gather in front of the Meyers’ house, a robbery and murder occurs in the Lodge home. The perps are white, and one of them is scary mean (Glenn Fleshler). They chloroform the entire family, holding the cloth on Rose’s face for a long time. She dies, leaving a grieving husband, Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) and Nicky.
            Aunt Maggie steps into the role of caretaker for the family, only she quickly transitions into mean Auntie, all the while speaking in her soft, amenable voice. Moore’s acting is brilliant. She comes across as compliant, even when she’s grinding up lye for a white bread sandwich. I’m not gonna tell you who the intended victim is . . . that’s one of the surprises.
            The murders in the Lodge home multiply while the police fight off the angry white mob at the Meyers home. We see evil played out on two stages: Unthinking mob violence on one and Coen Brothers inspired psychopathology on another. The black family doesn’t fight back or seek to incite confrontation. The white family tries to solve its problems with more murders.

            In the end we’re left with the innocence of children, who guilelessly reach out to each other again.


Monday, November 06, 2017

Circe: A Reinterpretation

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This is a mischievous rendering of the goddess Circe. She had a wicked sense of humor, and used her magical powers with an ironic twist. Yeah, she turned her bff Scylla into a sea monster, but the girl was always stealing her lovers and bragging about it. She’d slap her ass and say, “They can’t get enough of this, but it's head the homeboys want.” Then she’d tilt her neck back, suck in her cheeks and in a grotesque mime pump her closed fist in front of her mouth.

So Circe made a magic potion which gave Scylla six heads, each with three rows of teeth, and banished her to the sea. Naturally, this put Scylla in a very bad mood and she became a peril to all sailors who passed near her. Whenever a ship passed, each of her heads would seize one of the crew. They truly received head.

Back to Circe. Besides Scylla, she got a bad rep in The Odyssey. The sailors had been at sea for a very long time. "Let's party!" Circe said, "your vice is my command." They heard the word vice, and acted like pigs at a trough party, and presto chango! can you say oink oink? It was all a huge misunderstanding and Odysseus and his men returned to normal and spent a year with Circe, long enough for her to get knocked up.

She had a kid with Odysseus, Telegonus. Like any single mother, she didn’t stop him when he wanted to meet his dad who was back in Ithaca. He got there okay, but Whoops! accidentally killed his father. It happens. He brought the body back to his mom and took Odysseus' widow Penelope and son Telemachus with him. Circe made them immortal and married Telemachus, while Telegonus made Penelope his wife.

Shite sometimes works out.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

LitCrawl 2017: Nerds* On Surfboards and in Bikinis* Read Their Prose.

I'll be reading at the Kahuna Tiki (link below) along with some great talent.

Malibu Writers Circle | A Cool Buzz and Some Tasty Words

Date(s) - 10/25/2017
8:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Kahuna Tiki

11026 Magnolia Blvd - Los Angeles

*I am a nerd
*My bikini is in the shop

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Marshall: Showdown in the Courtroom


Who do you call to the defense of a black chauffeur accused of raping wealthy white woman in conservative Connecticut? The NAACP promptly sends out Thurgood Marshall.

         Yes, the Thurgood Marshall, an ambitious and dedicated young attorney, not yet the first African-American Supreme Court Justice. He’s played by Chadwick Boseman (Jackie Robinson in “42”). Boseman’s acting is good and will certainly earn him an academy award nomination. He manages to present the young Marshall as smart, ambitious, and even a bit cocky. Let’s not forget the swagger, either, which provided some heart and humor to this famous lawyer.
         The movie is a tense courtroom drama (Connecticut v. Joseph Spell) rather than a cradle to grave biopic. This is not the future man in robes but a real person who smoked and drank, loved and lost.
         Remember, this was 1940. Marshall had more than a decade of experience to earn before Brown v. Board of Education, a landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the Court declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students to be unconstitutional.
         There are several twists in the story. First, in order to try the case in a state where he’s not admitted to practice law, the NAACP hires Sam Friedman (Josh Gad) an insurance attorney who has never litigated a criminal case. He doesn’t even want the case fearing that defending a black man might ruin his legal career. Marshall and Friedman face not only prejudice based on color, but Jews are not exactly allowed in the country clubs, either. The two, Boseman and Gad, make a fine combination – sparring and challenging each other, but there’s also respect. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gad is nominated for Best Supporting Actor.
         To further complicate matters the judge (James Cromwell) orders Marshall not to speak in the courtroom while allowing him to sit at the defense table. That means Marshall must be the coach, the “court whisperer.” It’s hard for both attorneys, but they’re relentless.
         What’s Twist #2? While we’re hoping things will go Marshall’s way, new evidence is introduced. Spoiler Alert! Just kidding, I’m not telling.
         A final note, the music is outstanding. Never intrusive and even inspiring. As is this story.

Sunday, August 13, 2017


This story was published in a couple of anthologies. Remembering Mom:

In her thirties, Nellie wore miniskirts and go‑go boots, false eyelashes and hairpieces, and seemed oh‑so with it, up‑to‑date, and modern. Her small square teeth gleamed in a perfect line behind a red lipstick mouth. She laughed and giggled weak‑in‑the‑knees through days where nickel and dime tips forestalled economic disaster. Her life was hard work and more work and raising kids, and sexual trysts on the sly. Nothing long‑standing, nothing lasting. 

         Even the children metamorphosed into upwardly mobile wraiths who disappeared, then reappeared with babies. But Nellie was strong, looked younger than her age, and then there were her teeth. Perfect. She had no cavities.

         In her fifties, she finally needed dental work. Nellie traveled to Juarez, Mexico to get the work done cheap.  The dentist suggested gold fillings for three of her front teeth.  He patted her knee.  "Special price for you."   

         Her children had only seen gold teeth on winos and the occasional rap music star. "Why?" they asked each other in disbelief.

         Nellie shrugged.  "He said gold would last forever."  

         She flashed her golden smile often, and the kids gave her $500 to get the gold taken out. Nellie bought a new water heater instead.  “I look fine,” she said. “You try taking a shower in ice cold water and see how you like it.”

         In her seventies, her teeth began to trouble her. They would have to be removed. "Give her the best dentures available," her children told the dentist, secretly relieved that the gold‑lined teeth would go. Nellie would look like every other senior citizen equipped with porcelain choppers.

         "Don't let the dentist keep that gold," Nellie warned her children when they took her for the surgery. "I paid a pretty penny for it!" 

         "Everyone wants their teeth blazing white these days," her children told her. "You'll look modern."      

         Nellie frowned.  "I don't want people to know I'm wearing false teeth.  Makes you look old." 

         The dentist fitted her dentures perfectly to her mouth and handed her a mirror. Nellie smiled at her reflection, turning her head to the right and the left. She ran her tongue over her small square teeth gleaming in a perfect line and nodded at the dentist, satisfied.

         Her children waited in the lounge and stood to greet her as she left the office. She gave the dentist a hug.  “You’re a genius!” she gushed. “I look better than ever.” 

         Nellie turned and smiled wide at her sophisticated children, gold now lining every single artificial tooth in her mouth.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017



introverted, Probably.

Fearful, I reject this.

unsociable, Like my cat. She has a strict schedule. Pretty much no in the day. Oh yeah, she’ll meet your car and roll around on the driveway playing pretty kitty, but she won’t let you touch her. 

She waits for me at night, curled up in a corner of the bedroom. I open a book. She meows and head bumps the book. No hb’s for humans. I scratch between her ears, her neck, under her chin, maybe we do elevator butt. Then, I push her down next to me and return to my book. She usually moves to the foot of the bed, right where my feet will go. 

Turn off the light. She makes her way up to me, lays down as close to me as she can get, but with her head facing out so she can make a quick getaway. I’m mostly not like my cat. Not so regimented. I hope.

inhibited, I can’t own this.

reticentreservedretiringprivate, Hell no! 

reclusive, I like the sound of this. It’s solitary.

Solitude is the state of being alone without being lonely.

shytimid, Aw.

aloof, I wish.

indrawn, as in introspective, yeah.

Informal standoffish, Rube version of aloof. Oh yeah, baby.