Monday, February 28, 2011

Book Review: Death By Chick Lit by Lynn Harris

You’ve heard of Lola Somerville. Or not. Her first novel, much anticipated by her mother, was promptly eclipsed byĆ¢€¦everyone else’s first novel. These days, seems no one Lola knows can write a letter to the editor without having it optioned for a major motion picture. Sure, Lola thinks, I have a great geek-hottie husband and a cool apartment in “up and coming” Brooklyn—but just once, can’t I write some random article and have Jodie Foster call me for the film rights? Or jeez, okay, Minnie Driver. Just *something?*Then one night at a swanky book party, Lola finds her frenemy Mimi McKee, author of Gay Best Friend, dead in the basement, throat slashed with a broken martini glass. And when the bodies of It-Girl writers begin to pile up, Lola starts asking dangerous questions: Are the murders connected? Am I next? If not, um, why not? If I solve the mystery, then will my agent remember my name? And as Lola digs deeper, the stakes get higher. Will getting her hands on the killer—and the book deal bound to follow—mean losing the people she loves most?

This book was a delicious read for me...everything the reviews promised and proclaimed. Witty, filled with satire, and a good old-fashioned murder mystery. Lynn Harris writes about Lola Somerville's life and her relationships with husband Doug and best friend Bella with such authenticity I felt like she was writing about me. (Ok, so I'm not married, nor living in Brooklyn any longer.) But being a frustrated writer, trying to get a book deal...I could relate to Lola's angst about her colleagues. All the characters seemed true-to-life, such as the geeky husband, and Lola's absorbing his love of Sci-fi and collectible knowledge. The relationship and genuine concern she has for her best friend was very genuine. And the worries and concerns which Lola faces (IE: Do I want to have a child? Am I ready to be a parent? Have I lost my identity since I've become a married woman? Should I settle down or play the field?) are what we face....especially when in our mid 30's.

As for the mystery portion of this novel, it keeps you wondering who in deed is the culprit. There are some obvious choices and some red-herrings. Will you guess who the killer is? I didn't see it coming, so was pleasantly surprised. I originally selected this book for several reasons: (a) the title was catchy, (b) I have a dog by the name Lola, (c) I am a writer myself, and (d) I'm taking this Chick Lit challenge.

Death By Chick Lit is an easy read of only 242 pages. And I will definitely be reading more of Lynn Harris's work. You can purchase Death By Chick Lit thru the author's web site by clicking on the link 'Lola Somerville' above, or online, at Amazon. This novel is available both in hard copy or for your e-reader.

This is book review # 3 for the Chick Lit Plus 2011 Challenge. Remember, it's never to late to start to read!

Monday, February 21, 2011

When illness hurts, what would you do for love?

Unconditional love: to love someone regardless of the loved one's qualities or actions.

Selfless Love: an essential stage in the evolution of love is being able to love others regardless of their behavior.

These are the wikipedia definitions for these two words, and I think the most common and easiest to understand. Sometimes we find it difficult to love someone unconditionally, or to give our love selflessly to someone who is difficult. But love is the most powerful, and gratifying gift you can give to someone as well as yourself. If you're curious as to what other euphoric gift you can give to yourself would would be forgiveness. But that's another entry for another time.

If you live with or have  someone you love who is a victim of the illness dementia, you know how difficult it can be. Not only is the person who has fallen victim to this horrid disease suffering as their mind plays tricks on them, with disorientation, and memory loss but those who love the person has to suffer as they watch the ill loved person deal with the fear, frustration and emotional outbursts. I would not wish dementia on anyone, not even my worst enemy. It is not an illness to poke fun at or to take lightly. There are different causes which can cause dementia, and not to give false hope but if the disease is detected early enough and the cause diagnosed, it can be slowed or even stopped if treated.

Sadly, I live with a wonderful woman who suffers from dementia. My aunt. who is like a second mother to me has been diagnosed with the disease. My aunt used to socialize with our friends and loved to do crafts. She loved to travel and had a sharp sense of humor. when I was a kid, she made me awesome Halloween costumes, and took me to my very first concert, which happened to be Bon Jovi. She also threatened to bop the guys on the head with her camera if they thought to pass me the joint they were smoking or even offer me a bump of snow. That's how my aunt rolled. And then in her sixties, she started slipping away from us. Maybe it was sooner, but we just didn't notice or didn't want to accept the fact that she was becoming more difficult or forgetful. Denial sometimes seems better than to accept the fact that the one you love isn't the same as they had been. There have been days where my aunt has been completely herself, then slips in to someone argumentative and difficult to please. There have been moments where a physically handicapped woman literally flipped pieces of our sectional sofa because she was convinced we were going to hurt her physically. She can be completely lucid and then ask me the same question eight times in one day. It is emotionally and mentally draining to try to keep myself patient and accommodating to her. It is depressing to see someone who made beautiful crocheted blankets not even be able to put her shoes on her correct feet. Anyone who is an hostage to this uninvited illness, regardless of having it or being adjacent to it knows all too well of what I live with and have very briefly described.

When you are the caregiver for someone who suffers from dementia, you don't really have many avenues of support. Sure there are support groups to attend. However those who are in them can only give you the lukewarm comfort that the person who lashes out at you isn't themselves but the illness speaking. They can only swap 'war stories' with you....not give you a solution. The facilitator reminds you to be patient when answering the same question for the 10th time that day. If you have family nearby or friends, they often tune you out when you rehash the latest episode of what transpired...because let's be honest. People don't like to hear depressing news. Again, ignorance can be bliss. And more often than not, you will not find that family member to come and relieve you from your world for a few hours. So you just repeat to yourself for the umpteenth time that you love this person, and know that they are scared, and confused, and wonderful. And you try to find something to comfort yourself...a fictional book, or stroking a pet, or relying on your faith to get you through the rougher moments.

My aunt is my world...the second mother in my life. She has kissed my boo-boos, and attended my dance recitals. She has gone on vacations with me, and done some pretty wild stuff with me. She has encouraged me to follow my heart, and accepted my faults. So I can make sacrifices for her and her well-being without thinking twice. I currently work part-time, at night due to being fired two years ago and lack of jobs with the economy the way it is. But I need more of an income...because things are very tight. However due to  my aunt's physical handicaps and health issues, she can not be left alone by herself. She gets confused,and falls easily. She just fell this past Saturday when both my mom and I were at work. Thankfully my mom came home straight from work and found her. But who knows how long she had been on the floor. My aunt's insurance will not cover for a home aide to visit, and my aunt wouldn't feel comfortable with that anyway. We can't afford to pay for an aide to visit out of our pockets.

So I am making the conscious decision to care for my aunt as long as I possibly can. Instead of looking for a full-time job with all the bells & whistles I'm going to take a second part-time job. Something close to my house which will afford me the luxury of working only a few days a week, or several hours in the day. That way my aunt won't be left alone for too long in the day, and will give me the extra income which I need. I'll keep my evening, part-time job which will give me a break as my mom will be home to be with my aunt. When you love someone unconditionally, you put their needs first without a thought to yourself. When you love some one selflessly, you do what is best without resentment or throwing it in their face. When you love someone unconditionally you put their needs first and do so because you know it's best for them. When you love someone selflessly and unconditionally, you love them in good times and bad, and weather the storm out together.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Gaga writes songs when drunk and high

OK! Magazine: First For Celebrity News :: Latest Celebrity News :: Gaga writes songs when drunk and high

This is so not shocking. Because anyone who can write the lyrics: "Raaah, ahhh, ah, ah, ah" really seems to have a solid musical background.

I don't hate Lady Gaga...but am so tired of her already. She is just trying to be a new Madonna, as she likes to shock the public. back in Madonna's lean years, she was very contriversial and was constantly trying to shock and change her appearence. As it is, Gaga is now in trouble for ripping off a Madonna song anyway. For someone who is 'so unique and fresh', she really isn't.

And would you want your child idolizing or emulating a performer who brazenly admits to being drunk and high when she is in creative mode? I know I wouldn't.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Movie review: 'The Rite' Critiqued by a Catholic Paranormal Investigator

Ask anyone what kind of movies I enjoy...and they'll answer 'I honestly don't know.' However the correct answer to that question is that I LOVE ALL KINDS OF MOVIES. If it is well done or that it is of something of interest to me, I will gladly watch it. Oh who am I kidding...I like poorly done movies that have gotten bad reviews as well. {I do own Spice World: The Spice Girls movie, after all}One of my favorite genre of movies however are horror movies. Blood and guts splashing across the screen does not bother me. What does make me cover my eyes, and jump instead is that which is more psychological or has to deal with the paranormal....or more importantly...evil spirits.
     Funny, right? This revelation coming from someone who partakes in paranormal investigating. A woman who knows that there is such a thing as life after death, and has even experienced and interacted with those who are no longer of the living. But with the good (spirits) there are bad...ask anyone who has been in the field of paranormal research, and is a seasoned veteran. Regardless of what your religious belief is you will find stories about those who are not of the light, who seek to mislead and harm the living, and even like to torment those who are not living. For those of us who are paranormal researchers, when we partake in an investigation, we put up protection for ourselves and our team members. There are various methods and ways to do this: offering up prayer, wearing blessed medals, carrying crystals, the use of sage before and after an investigation...the methods of protecting yourself are countless, and vary on your beliefs. The most important thing in investigating is putting up your protection so you do not fall under attack by a (not necessarily evil) spirit, but also protect you from having it follow you home.
     I've swayed from the topic of this blog tonight, but just wanted to drive home how important it is to protect yourself when dealing actively with the spirit realm. Even if you do not participate in paranormal investigating, should try and offer up a prayer. (I don't mean to come off as a holy roller) but just remember that the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled off was to have man forget the he exists.Which brings us (finally) to my review of the movie 'The Rite' starring Sir Anthony Hopkins. New Line Cinema released this film on January 28, 2011 and it closed the weekend in the # 1 slot. I have to say that it is now ranked among my favorite movies. Not because of it being a horror movie, or because (the awesome) Sir Anthony Hopkins is in it. But because I believe that this film is one made with integrity, hard work, and is the most truth-based film which is about possession I have ever seen. I am not sure what the mass public will make of it, or will understand the truth to it.I fear that it will become a movie which is swept under the carpet and overlooked by film critics and snobs because it isn't a thrill-a-minute film or a mockumentry such as 'Paranormal Entity'.
     Colin O'Donoghue plays the young seminarian Michael Kovak who is not quite sure of his place in the world. Should he do the right thing, and stay in the family business, or 'escape' by the only means he has and join the seminary. As a seminarian, he questions his actions, questions his faith, and seems even more unsure of his place in the world. Although critics berated Mr. O'Donoghue's performance in this film, I believe he played the roll perectly. Yes, he did not eat up his scenes with Anthony Hopkins (but then again who could?) He was very subdued, and I think that a person in his position would not be very verbose and larger than life. The scenes where 'Michael Kovak' is very nearly beaten and has to dig deep in himself not to lose his battle, you can really see and sense the emotions rolling off  Colin O'Donoghue. You want to cheer and give him a hug. And other times when he will not admit to what his eys see, and he denies what he expierences you just want to slap hm. Knowing several gentlemen who have gone through the seminary and have become fine priest's...I know what their school work is like, and the psychological evaluations and strain they are put under. Between the script and the performance of Colin O'Donoghue I thought they captured it very well.
     SIR ANTHONY HOPKINS is simply genius, as usual. His emotions are all over the place, from quiet and scholarly to pompous and arrogant to out right scary, to very humbling. There is nothing you can give this man that he can not pull I will not go in to rantings on how superb he was. I will say that for those of you who do love 'Dr Hannibal Lector', there is a scene in the end which is just as delicious as our old friend 'Dr. Lector'. I believe Hopkin's portrayal of Father Lucas Trevant in 'The Rite' was spot on, for those who have seen the evil and had to battle it. People who perform exorcisms and banishing, I have found are both eccentric and strong. They have seen the ugliness which exists, and fight it...and after awhile it wears them down. Once again, the script and Hopkins performance nail this on the head.
     For someone who goes in to the theater to see 'The Rite' and expect to see pea soup spewing actors, and people crawling across ceilings, you're going to be disappointed. The special effects in the film do not quite go to that extent. But do not be fooled. Bodies are twisted and contorted in to unnatural angles, and there is several special effects makeup scenes. The film which is based on true events is outright horrifying. Because it shoes you how the Devil can wear someone down, and plays on your weaknesses and insecurities. This film is scary because it makes you face the truth that evil does indeed exist. It is equally frightening on a visual and psychological level.
     What was even more frightening to me was the fact that a a set of parents brought their small children to see the film. And when I say small children, I am talking ages 6-10 years old. Before the film started the mother was saying to the kids 'this isn't going to be scary.' and then when the movie ended she asked them 'see you weren't scared, right?' Dude, I am almost 35 years old and I was scared in scenes! But I was scared for these kids. Why the hell would their parents bring them to a rated R movie...and one which is based on demonic possesson? And what the heck was going through this woman's head, to think that the possibility of this happening was not scary? I had wanted to catch up with her, to ask her..but they left the theater before I could have gotten the chance to. Perhaps that was for the better. Either way...go see this film. You will not be disappointed.