Christmas list

Hanging out with the LBD (Paco, my ten pounds of terrier/chi terror), and seeing what the day brings. Jamal and I had a very nice time last night with the family, and today I just had a great visit with a long-time friend who stopped by with her husband.  We hadn’t talked in about five years, not because of any drama, mostly because life just kinda kept happening, and we didn’t keep up with each other.  I’m not the most Christmas-ey of people, but seeing Laury and Steve gave me a great gift of good cheer when I wasn’t looking for one today.

Can we look at the list now?

1.  It just seems to me that the Christmas crush was a bit more…pulpy this year.  Granted, it was a broad spectrum of behavior out there, and I’m certain that I allowed some of the bad behavior to affect me more than usual, but… it’s the holiday season, and so many horrible events have taken place recently, that it wouldn’t have killed you grinches (and you know who you are) to be a little nicer, to the retail staff, to other people in the parking lot, even to your own family.  Maybe you didn’t feel like it, but sometimes acting “as if” can put a person into a better sprit – never fear, crabby folk, we’ll give you a chance next year; just hope that everyone in your family is still here for you next year.  For the rest of you, who held places in line for strangers, who wished cashiers happy holidays, and who were aware that there were other people in your sphere of existence besides yourselves – your halos are showing; thank you.

2.  Seeing the Christmas lights is always my favorite part of the season; I love when they start appearing, and I get a little blue when they come down. What I find interesting (and a little bit scary) is the appearance of the enormous balloon figures on the lawns in our neighborhood:


I gauged this Santa at ten feet tall, but he was taller than the house, so he was maybe more like fifteen.  And what’s a little odd about these decorations (maybe it’s just me) is that they are deflated during the day, then are inflated to monster size at night.  Seems like a Santa (or a giant penguin, like the one on my block) that could suffocate Mom and Dad and take the kids away to his evil workshop at the North Pole where Oogie Boogie lives; wait, I could be mixing up my movies….anyhow, it could be scary, dunno.

3.  I found a cool website:  If you enjoy all things seaside, you will want to take a look; our Christmas tree is covered with seashells and mermaids, and my vision for the master bath (once the guest bath is finished) is that it will feel like the song “Under the Sea.”  (My husband Jamal is on board with my design taste, which is cool.)  And my taste is all over the place, so I have to be careful, because I like this:


And I like this:


My coastal living has a little bit of the apocalypse mixed in – works for me (and thankfully, for Jamal).

So I think that’s it for today; I missed writing here, so coming back is my shameless, self-promoting, self-centered gift to you.  And one size fits all! I wish you all good things today – let your heart be light, and I’ll see if I can do the same. Deal? Deal!

Au revoir mes amies!

Beginning today, “Julie Wrote What?” is going underground – I will be starting a new blog about the movies, of which the title has yet to be determined. Thanks to everyone who took the time to read “Julie Wrote What?”  I hope you will enjoy what I have  to say about the movies, and tell me what you think.  Bye for now, campers!


New blog is “After The Picture Show,” and it’s up and running; hope to see you soon –

8 1/2 things

1.  I watched “Hanging Up” for the bajillionth time today; it’s with Diane Keaton, Meg Ryan, and Lisa Kudrow, and Walter Matthau.  I cried at the end, like I always do, and the thing that keeps me coming back to this movie (aside from Meg Ryan’s floor-length camel coat, which I WANT in an unnatural way, and can’t even find anything remotely similar to) is that Walter Matthau reminds me of my father.  To be specific, Walter Matthau’s arms remind me of my dad’s arms – his relationship with Meg Ryan also hits a nerve.  I miss my dad every time I watch this movie.  I miss my dad, period.

2.  It’s summer in southern California, never mind the calendar. It’s warm, and dry, and breezy – no giant fires yet, but October isn’t over.  Our seasons should be renamed – Three Days of Rain, June Gloom, Hot like the Surface of the Sun, Still Hot, Fire Season, and Cold and Dry. (We’d go from four to six seasons, but at least they’d be more accurate.)

3.  Go see “Seven Psychopaths.” Don’t question me, just read about how good it is, and go.  This movie deserves attention; it’s well-written, funny, and has Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, and Colin Farrell (and Tom Waits with a bunny). Who else do you need for entertainment?

4.  I loved how the SF Giants ended their playoffs, 9-0, in the pouring rain.  I also love how they’re playing like bosses in the World Series.  I read a great line once, that baseball is a game of moments, and that’s how I appreciate the sport. And the last game in the NL playoffs was a moment; congratulations, guys.

5.  I have recently been listening to a huge amount of country music.  (When I say “huge,” I mean that before two weeks ago, I would be able to listen for about three songs of any country artist and have to tap out.) I will be back later to expand on this development, as I’m finding it very interesting, but have no way to account for it.  I believe that Joe Walsh may have something to do with it, as I watched him on an episode of “Crossroads,” playing alongside Brad Paisley, Luke Bryan, and other country stars. I’m convinced  some  strange sort of transference occurred, because I will now listen all day. I will also take suggestions, as I’m all over the place right now…y’all. Uh-oh.

6.  The bathroom remodel is a go for Tuesday; our guy Mark estimates between three and four weeks.  To have a bathroom with walls, and a pretty shower and tub, after three years, hasn’t quite sunk in yet. Once it happens, I may continue writing from the bathtub, as I plan to take many long bubble baths after being deprived of them for so long.

7.  Please vote.  I won’t ask you to think the same way as I do, but I will ask you to go vote on November 6th (or sooner, if that’s what you do). If you are a woman, remember that we didn’t always have the right to vote, and that women fought, were jailed, and died, so that we could. Vote – vote – vote – vote – vote! It makes a difference.

8.  Knots of Love is a wonderful organization that accepts hand-knitted  and hand-crocheted caps and donates them to cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy, so that they might feel better.  One of my caps was accepted by the organization, and sent to someone in Laguna Beach, so that they could wear it and feel better. I share this because it was important to me to do something that I love to do, and be able to help someone who needed comfort.  Also, I share it in case any of you are interested in knitting or crocheting caps for Knots of Love; their website is

Phew! Time for Italian food –  Ciao!

Dark Knight – the rising and the aftermath

I went to see “Dark Knight Rises” on Saturday with my husband, and although I know this  probably isn’t going to win me any friends, I didn’t think it was that good. Too much exposition, no grand cinematography, and exactly two scenes near the end that were close enough to what I was expecting from the movie to make me think that the last half hour had been directed by someone different than the first two hours, but I was wrong. The movie settled right back into its half-way long shots that didn’t astound me, and so much dialogue to build the story, instead of action to illustrate the story, that I got up and left twice, just to get a break from the endless stream of yammer – (not like Tarantino yammer, which I eat up like jellybeans; this was more like, oh, you need to know all of these details or you won’t know what’s happening, which makes me squirm).

I have seen every Batman movie from the first one with Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson, and liked them in varying degrees.  I wonder about myself so often, and even now I wonder if what happened in Colorado affected what I thought of the movie.  I don’t think that it did, but I still wonder. And I wonder what was going on in James Holmes’ mind that night, and what had been going on his mind for so long that led him to the theatre that night. I think helplessness and rage are just two of the emotions that I’m feeling about what happened, along with being terribly sad.  My heart goes out to the victims and their families – there are no easy answers here,  just pain. I won’t stop going to the movies, and from the looks of the packed houses on Saturday night, most other people won’t stop, either.  The irony (for me, anyway) is that now one of the places that we could go to escape the pain of life has become another reminder of that pain.

Summer’s knitting, inside and out

Here’s what I’ve been doing recently instead of writing:

These are all in various states of completion (two are actually finished); at last, a clear illustration of either my tenacity or my OCD – it’s a tough call.  They do look kinda cool all lined up like this, though…I’m knitting like a fiend, hoping to have these ready for the Christmas season.  I might have to throw some hats in there as well, dunno –

I can add the Turtles, and Micky Dolenz to my concert list – went to see the Happy Together tour at the Pacific Ampitheatre last night, and it was wonderful.  The Turtles, the Grass Roots (saw them at Magic Mountain when I was 13!), Micky Dolenz,and the Buckinghams; and when the Turtles launched into the beginning of “Peaches En Regalia,” which I determined was their way of saying “Hi, Frank (Zappa),”  I thought I was going to pass out from joy. Being surprised in life is….well, surprising, and I love when it happens. Well done, guys, well done.

I’m going to see “Savages” this afternoon; Oliver Stone is always over-the-top, so looking forward to some scenery-chewing, lurid, gory good times. “Moonrise Kingdom” was one of the two movies that I liked this summer; “The Avengers” was the other one.  We’ll see if I can add “Savages” to the short list – off to the movies I go!

You going out like that?

This is a completely superficial and judgmental piece.  That said, let’s roll on with my rant on fashion!

I am no fashionista, believe me (my weekend uniform is ripped jeans and boots), but I feel like I pay attention to what I wear, because I like to look nice (even if it’s just me who thinks I do), and I feel like I succeed most of the time, even if it’s casual most of the time.  I was thinking about different eras in history, and what we wore then, and did a little research about how we dress now. (Warning: some of these images are graphic, and all of them are appalling).  I mean no disrespect to anyone in these photos, but I can’t believe that these good people woke up in the morning (although I think two out of three just kept going from the night before – still applies), put on these outfits, looked in the mirror and said, “I look good!” (Red undies outside the leggings, really?)

Watching “La Dolce Vita” a couple of weeks ago, I was struck by how beautiful the women all were in the film; part of their attractiveness (at least to me, anyway) was that they didn’t try too hard with what they wore.  Their clothes were simple, and perfect (and the men didn’t look too bad then, either; Marcello, you devil, you) :

I will tell you that I’m a happy mallrat from way back; if you know me at all, you know that I’m the person for whom malls were designed. Recently,  these three have taken up the main floor of the Sears at my go-to mall with their apparel:

It’s all right there; every time I walk through Sears on my way to the rest of the mall, I have to walk around the clothes, hanging in big clumps like jewel-toned moss in the center of the floor, corsets and garters, right next to the mom jeans and the seersucker blouses.  And the abundance of animal prints – I love animal prints, and I think they look great in small doses, or else we run the risk of looking like Kimmy up there, less sexy kitten and more Halloween costume (that’s a Halloween costume, right?). I think that the amount of animal print that one wears should be in proportion to how close it is to midnight, and how near one is to L.A. Proximity is everything.

There are a couple of little rules that I’m working on following (for myself, but you may get something out of them), because not only is getting older not for sissies, but trying to dress nicely as one gets older is also not for sissies:

If you were old enough to remember wearing a trend once before (leggings, super-short skirts, for example), don’t wear it again. Very few women can get away with this; VERY few.

Don’t shop in the juniors section, unless you are one.  Trying to dress younger if you aren’t is like wearing a neon sign with your age on it.  (This is a tough one; I really don’t try to dress younger, but I do dress somewhat like I’ve always dressed, so I guess you could say that I dress younger, since I’ve gotten older…eh, who knows? I eat like a twelve-year-old, it should only follow that I dress like one.)

Cover it up.  Seriously, if you must wear the leggings that are now back in fashion, wear a shirt that covers your butt. (I know I’ve slipped into mom mode, don’t care.) Even if leggings are BLACK, that doesn’t mean no one can see through them.

If the clothes don’t fit, don’t buy them – simple, but you would be amazed at the numbers of women (including myself, although I’m really working on doing better with this one) who ignore that guideline and buy clothes that are either too tight or too loose.  In the ’70s, we used to lie down to put on our jeans – let’s not go through that anymore, ‘kay? Pinky swear…

Spandex? Just say no, unless you’re going to the gym. (I can’t even start on what I see at the gym, so I’ll give it a rest – for now.)

To review:

Let’s skip the spandex, buy clothes that fit, and save the leopard print onesie for the club; I’ll conclude my rant with these, my final words to you for today – if you must wear leggings, the red panties go underneath. Words to live by —-

Pass the popcorn, it’s Movie Talk!

Wes Anderson‘s new movie is coming out – check out the trailer on YouTube if you like; it made me very happy:

I’m hoping that it will be on the level of “The Royal Tenenbaums,” one of my absolute favorites.  I love this movie for so many reasons, and I know that some of my friends overdose on the quirk, so it’s an entirely subjective love based on personal feelings and experience, not based on any other standard – if you haven’t seen it, and you end up seeing it, you will get to know me a little bit better, if that’s your idea of a good time.

Speaking of the quirk, I’m watching “Fight Club” right now on AMC.  This is why I like Brad Pitt – for someone who has leading man looks and persona, he has made movies like “Fight Club,” “Kalifornia,” and “Twelve Monkeys,” where he does smart character work, which is so much more interesting, and probably more interesting for him to do, as well. One of my favorite movies last year was “Moneyball,” which I saw twice; again, even though it was the lead role, I felt like he infused character actor qualities into the part.

I saw “La Dolce Vita” this week for the first time, on the big screen at the Bay Theatre in Seal Beach. So much has been written about the movie, that it would be impossible for me to say anything new, so I’ll just say this: it was intoxicating, and swept me away. Impossibly beautiful women, dreamlike sequences, and a young and handsome Marcello Mastroianni.  Chaotic, decadent, sexy, and crazy – and I felt different when it was over, like something rich and new had been added to my brain.  This is what I want movies to do for me, what I’ve wanted since I was a kid in the third row at the Towne Theatre in Long Beach, or in the balcony of the Crest Theatre in Long Beach, on a Saturday afternoon, with my torn ticket in my hand, waiting for the magic….Ciao, bella! Save me a seat at the matinee –

Post-Oscar ramblings

Now that awards season is over:

Elizabeth Taylor in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (think of the bar scene when she’s dancing with George Seagal), and Snooki – two of a kind?  ET was a broad by her own admission who liked lots of men (I am nothing if not understated), got very tan, wore heavy eyeliner,  and loved to party. More non-familial DNA transference? I wonder if they ever met…?

When Angelina Jolie stuck out her leg and threw her head back and grinned onstage at the Oscars, I almost felt sorry for her.  It looked awkward to me, like she had been advised to…what? I still can’t figure out what the intention was there, and now that I’ve said it, moving on –

Loved “Hugo,” “Moneyball,” and “The Help;” I thought “The Descendents” was a well-made movie, but it is in the category of movies that I appreciate, but will never see again (add “Saving Private Ryan” and “Shakespeare in Love” to this category).  I wasn’t happy with “Beginners,” (walked out about 45 minutes into it), because I kept waiting for greatness, and I wasn’t getting it (judgmental much? Yes, I am.).  Haven’t seen “The Artist,” but it is playing down the street from me, so it’s tentatively on the schedule for this weekend.

I think Daniel Craig should play Richard Burton in a movie, and here’s why:

He might have to put on a little weight, but couldn’t you see him doing this? They even share the same widow’s peak! Eh, maybe I’m a little sleep-deprived, but I think it could work.

Any stars of today who remind you of the classic stars?

I shot my cell phone (but I did not shoot my old PC)

I’m at the end of my four-day Christmas break, watching “The Witches of Eastwick” (Susan Sarandon, Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Jack Nicholson – let’s see, Michelle Pfeiffer and Jack Nicholson both played villains in different “Batman” movies; the family had a couple of “Batman” discussions over the break, including how many stars have played Batman, who were the bad guys in each one, etc. Guess my brain hasn’t moved on, plus I love playing “what other movies have these stars been in together?”).

Spent Christmas eve and Christmas day at the family’s house – the whole family holiday get-together has changed over the last couple of years, and maybe you have noticed it at your house, too – while talking and watching television, and eating, we are also checking email, playing games, checking Facebook, texting, and looking up stuff.  (I’m mostly knitting and chasing the dog, but I’ve also been known to take a peek at my email, and lots of peeks at Facebook – in addition to being ADD, I also have a touch of ocd; just a touch, so it’s in small letters).  Everyone has a cell phone, and there are also iPads and laptops lying around, in case someone gets an uncontrollable Angry Birds urge.  (My husband was startled one afternoon, when, out of nowhere, he heard me yell, “Die, pig, die!”  while sitting on the couch with the iPad in my hand.  It’s not a relaxing game, but it is irresistible).

When in my lap, my dog will actually push my hands away from the keyboard so he can be petted – he believes he is the alpha laptop, and isn’t pleased about sharing real estate with my Mac.  I wonder if any studies have been done on animals who live with families who have no computers or cell phones, as compared to those who live with families who have multiple devices, and if there are differences in health, mental state, and behavior. Might make for an interesting experiment, if the variables were controlled (sorry, my psych minor is showing, or should I say, my almost-finished minor – I balked at statistics, so there you go).

I think one of my New Year’s intentions will be to have more conversations, and limit the technology in my life – the phone is silenced more than before, and now I have to work on curbing Angry Birds and Facebook (not eliminating either, I love Angry Birds, and Facebook has brought some wonderful people back into my life.) We’ll see; maybe you can text me and let me know what you think…ha!

(P.S.  I don’t know if this is obvious, but the title of this post is meant to be read to the Eric Clapton song, “I Shot The Sheriff.”  Yes, I am a little bit corny, and a little bit rock and roll…)

2nd annual almost-completely superficial Thanksgiving post

Just took out a lemon cranberry crumble cake from the oven, and I’m waiting for it to cool before adding the lemon glaze.  While this happens, I think it’s time to make a list of those things that I am grateful for on this Thanksgiving.  If you are expecting family, friends, and my dog, not that kind of list. Love you, love them all, but here’s what also floats my boat this year:

1.  Going to the movies – even though the experience isn’t what it was when I was a wild-eyed child, going to the movies is still something that I always set forth to do with the optimistic hope that I will feel the same way that I used to feel when I walked out after seeing “Serpico,” “Sophie’s Choice,” “Cabaret,” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” – as if I had been somewhere else, and  could see the world differently now, if only for a little while.  I think the most recent films that have made me feel transformed afterward have been “Midnight in Paris” and “Julie and Julia.” Oddly enough, both films were set in Paris; it’s possible Paris could make this list next year, if I can survive all the happiness this year.

2. Online shopping! (Or what I like to call, “Click, click, boom!” I have no idea why, except that maybe the “boom!” is the sound of my checking account exploding.)

3.  Books.  Don’t roll your eyes and mutter, “Old lady, books are so 20th century…” I bought a Nook, and it’s a slick piece of plastic, really; however, it can’t match turning the pages of a REAL book.  And if it comes to living in a world completely without books, sign me up for the Neptune Society –

4.  Coffee, especially the sound of it being brewed in my handy dandy Keurig coffee maker.  Not to be a shill for this thing, but it was a Christmas present last year, and is a brilliant little machine.  I am also especially grateful  not to have been a married woman in the ’50s, as apparently a woman’s entire reason for existing relied on her being able to make a decent cup of coffee  (check out “Coffee Jerks” on YouTube; it is pretty funny, and explains “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman” to me).

5. Finding the funny – sounds simple, but I know that there are souls in the world who can’t find it , and who never even care to try.  Laughing is one of the greatest gifts in life, and what is so cool is that you can give it to yourself and someone else at the same time.

I have to go work out – there is a plateful of carbs in my immediate future.  Many thanks, campers; let’s march on through the holidays with a big drumstick in one hand and a garlic dinner roll in the other! Onward!