This is the place for friends to talk about books, movies, music, food, and everything fun!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Exciting News in the Neighborhood

Lilly Faye: Pssst, Cali! Where have you been? I've been looking for you every day for a week!

Cali: My family took a little trip, and I was billeted to an undisclosed location. I really can't say more for security reasons.

Lilly Faye: Well I'm glad you're finally home.

Cali: What did you want to see me about?

Lilly Faye: Do you remember Mr. Frank?

Cali: The Bulldog who left those flirtatious comments on your blog at Christmastime?

Lilly Faye: That's him. Guess what? He's moving in next door to me.

Cali: No!

Lilly Faye: Yes! And he sent me a really cute photo of himself.

Cali: Lilly Faye, you'll literally be the girl next door! Maybe he'll want to date you.

Lilly Faye: Do you think so?

Cali: I think it's going to be one hot summer!

Lilly Faye: Tee, hee!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Lilly Faye's Book Review: The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion, by Fannie Flagg

Dear Readers,

I've asked my friend Alfie Cat to join me in reviewing Fannie Flagg's latest novel, The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion.

Alfie joins us today from his basket. Welcome, Alfie.

Alfie Cat: Glad to be here, Lilly Faye.

Lilly Faye: As some of you may know, Fannie Flagg is also the author of several prior novels, including Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (which was made into a movie), Standing in the Rainbow, I Still Dream About You, and one of my favorite holiday books, A Redbird Christmas.

Her newest book, The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion, has two interwoven plot lines. The current-day story follows Sookie Poole of Point Clear, Alabama. Sookie is contemplating her sixtieth birthday, while exhausted from marrying off her last daughter, and dealing with her own narcissistic, overbearing mother, southern socialite Lenore Simmons Krackenberry.

Sookie's nerves are shot, and small things like blue jays chasing her beloved little songbirds away from her feeders are threatening to send Sookie over the edge. So, when Sookie receives official notice that she is not who she thinks she is, the shock is almost more than she can bear.

The second plot line follows the large Jurdabralinski family of Pulaski, Wisconsin from 1909 through the present day, in particular the Jurdabralinski daughters. From wing walking and piloting planes in a Flying Circus, to running the All-Girl Filling Station during World War II, to joining the WASPs (Women Airforce Service Pilots) ferrying new warplanes from factories to military bases around the country in the 1940s, the sisters' story is a fascinating and colorful trip across America and 20th century American history.

Naturally these two plot lines converge near the end of the novel, and all of Sookie's (and the reader's) questions are answered. But what might those answers be? How will Sookie feel about herself once she knows her real identity? Will she ever be the same?

I thought this book was a fun ride. It was just a tad slow in the very beginning, when Sookie was so obsessed with her birds. But the story soon picked up, and I'm so glad I stuck with it. In fact, once I got into it, I wished it would never end.

Alfie Cat: I liked all the talk about birds. I'm an inveterate birdwatcher, myself. In fact, I'm rather obsessed with them, so I understood how Sookie was feeling.

Lilly Faye: Yes, well, I'm just glad Sookie had such a supportive husband. Her mother, Lenore Krackenberry, would drive anyone over the edge!

Alfie Cat: I have to disagree with you on that point as well, Lilly Faye. I really identified with Lenore.

Lilly Faye: Enough said!

Dear Readers, if you'd like to know more about this novel and how it came to be, you might want to click on the link for this 25-minute YouTube video of a Southern Living Book Club discussion with Fannie Flagg herself:

The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion would make a terrific summer read. We give it two paws up. Enjoy!

Lilly Faye

Monday, June 23, 2014

Lilly Faye's Movie Review: Her, starring Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, and Amy Adams

Dear Readers,

My friends and I recently watched Her, starring Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore, Amy Adams as his friend Amy, and the voice of Scarlett Johansson as Samantha, Operating System One, a.k.a. OS1.

Her won many prestigious awards, including an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for the film's writer and director, Spike Jonze.

Her takes place in Los Angeles in the near future.

Alfie Cat: I was able to confirm that although the movie is set in Los Angeles, the actual skyline we see in the movie is Shanghai, China.

Lilly Faye: Thanks, Alfie. I thought I caught sight of Chinese signage on some of the buildings!

The movie's main character, Theodore, is in the midst of a divorce from Catherine, played by Rooney Mara. Theodore's job is writing personal, heartfelt letters for other people. He is especially good at his job.

Theodore has a number of nice friends whom he socializes with, but they don't seem to round out his life, or do much to alleviate his inherent loneliness. He lives by himself, and spends much of his free time playing a computer game and interacting with its holographic avatar, a potty mouthed "Alien Child" voiced by Spike Jonze.

As the movie opens, Theodore has just purchased a brand new Operating System, OS1, self-named Samantha. Samantha is an artificial intelligence capable of absorbing every piece of information on Theodore's hard drive, and tailoring her responses to him based on this information.

Samantha was originally portrayed as a softer, more maternal character by British actress Samantha Morton. However, after Morton completed her work on the movie, Jonze decided Samantha needed to come across as a younger, stronger, sexier entity, and recast Scarlett Johansson in the role.

In the finished film, Samantha is capable of fulfilling Theodore's every emotional and sexual need, at least for a time. Her is rated R for language, nudity, and sexual content. 

Dizzie: Sometimes THE MASTER listens to a sexy English female voice on his computer and phone. Should I be worried?

Alfie Cat: Of course not, you dolt. That's Mummy's voice.

Dizzie: But she sounds so professional!

Lilly Faye: Some critics have called Her a comedy. I disagree. I think it's an excellent study of the human condition in the computer and internet age. One thing's for certain, once you've seen this movie you will be thinking about it for days afterward. 

Anyone who would like to learn more about Spike Jonze's work process and his vision for the movie will be interested in reading this article, which originally appeared in New York Magazine, but can now be found on Vulture.com:

Lilly Faye's Movie Rating: Two Paws Up!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Dizzie Visits His Birth Family

Dear Readers, 

Dizzie had a chance to visit his birth mother recently. She must have been mighty surprised to see him, since the last time they were together Dizzie was my size!

Lilly Faye: Do you have any new photos from your trip to show us, Diz?

Dizzie: Here's a picture of me with my mom. Isn't she beautiful?

Lilly Faye: You and your mom sure look a lot alike!

Dizzie: Here's another one, Boss.

Alfie: Who's the raven-haired beauty? She's pretty hot for a canine.

Dizzie: Hey, watch your mouth! That's my sister Nettie.

Alfie: Strong bone structure obviously runs in your family.

Dizzie: What's that supposed to mean?

Alfie: Not a thing. I would totally date her.

Dizzie: Well, she wouldn't date you, so it's not gonna happen.

Alfie: Her loss. Alfie Cat knows how to show a girl a good time!

Lilly Faye: You're really fortunate to know your relatives, Diz. I have no idea where my blood relations are.

Dizzie: I didn't get to see all of them on this trip. I come from a really big family! 

It was great seeing Mom and Nettie again. But it was also nice to come home. I love my life here.

Lilly Faye: We're glad you're back too, Diz. We missed you!

And you'll always have those wonderful memories.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Better Safe Than Sorry

Lilly Faye: Hi, Cali. I'm here to make my weekly report.

Cali: Have you seen any suspicious characters in the neighborhood, Lilly Faye?

Lilly Faye: I saw two Box turtles in my backyard. One of them ate the bread Mommy put out for the baby birds.

Also, I saw a possum the other night, but he ran off as soon as he saw me. I don't think any of them were really doing anything suspicious.

Cali: I'll make note of it in my log, just in case.

Lilly Faye: My real concern is a Turkey Vulture that landed in the street in front of my house. He was as big as me!

Cali: He has every right to be on a public street, Lilly Faye. 

Lilly Faye: But he was giving me the eye! I find it hard to do my business when a Turkey Vulture is giving me the eye!

Cali: If he shows up again, let me know. I'll bark him off the street. But honestly, the law says he has the right to be on public property.

Lilly Faye: I suppose so. Thanks, Cali. Also, I brought over this blog page questionnaire for you to fill out. I know you're too busy to work on my blog full time, but my readers would still like to know more about you.

Cali: Sure thing, Lilly Faye. I'll fill it out right away.

Lilly Faye: Thanks.

Dear Readers,
You can read more about my neighbor Cali, by clicking on the "Meet Cali" page on the right side of your screen.

Lilly Faye

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Lilly Faye's Movie Review: August: Osage County, starring Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, and Benedict Cumberbatch

Lilly Faye: Dizzie and I recently watched the movie, August: Osage County, starring Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, and Benedict Cumberbatch. Meryl and Julia were nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress Oscars, respectively.

The screenplay is by Tracy Letts, based on his play of the same name, for which he won both a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize. He has described the story as "somewhat autobiographical," and based on his maternal grandparents.

August: Osage County tells the story of Beverly Weston and his wife Violet, their unhappy marriage, and its toxic effect on their adult children, granddaughter, and extended family members.  

Beverly drinks too much, and Violet pops far too many pills, even for someone suffering from mouth cancer.

When Beverly disappears, the relatives, including Violet's sister and her family, return to the Weston home in Oklahoma. As the days pass, the family tries to make sense of what has happened. Long-buried secrets come to light, and fights, both verbal and physical, ensue. 

By the end of the film you may feel battered and bruised, as though you've been caught in the middle of a terrible family fight yourself. Some viewers may find this very uncomfortable, and some may find it cathartic. Like any good story, what you take from it is going to depend on what you bring to it.

There has been a lot of criticism of the language used in the film. I don't find it excessive, because it fits the characters and the story.

Dizzie: I think folks are just shocked to hear those words coming out of Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, Boss. When male actors use those same words, no one bats an eye.

Lilly Faye: I think you're exactly right, Diz.

August: Osage County is full of outstanding performances. Chris Cooper is perfect as Violet's brother-in-law, the glue that holds the whole thing together. I won't give anything away by saying too much about Little Charlie, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, but he's the polar opposite of Cumberbatch's Sherlock.

If you watch the extras, you may think Tracy Letts looks familiar.  He's not only an accomplished writer, he also acts. You may have seen him play Andrew Lockhart, the U.S. Senator who goes after Saul's CIA job on Homeland.

Tracy Letts is the son of the late actor Dennis Letts. His mother, Billie Letts, wrote Where the Heart Is, which was also made into a movie. 

The Letts family is from Oklahoma, where August: Osage County is set. The movie was mostly filmed on location in Pawhuska and Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

If you would like to read more about Tracy Letts and his family, here is an interesting interview with him from the March 21, 2014 New York Times:

Time to rate the movie, Diz.

Movie Rating: Two Paws Up!