Monthly Archives: May 2020

The Lady Says No (1951)

I got a collection of old black and white movies from Goodwill and have been super excited to start watching them. I cannot say, however, that the first one was a total success!

The Lady Says No (Film, Comedy): Reviews, Ratings, Cast and Crew ...

The story follows a young woman who writes a book (“The Lady Says No!”) encouraging women to say no to men more often and value their own worth. No accepting cat calling! No accepting your husband dallying with other women!

But—the movie goes on to show—she really knows nothing about men. And you quickly learn she knows nothing about men when the flirtatious male lead shows up and charms her socks off with very little effort. She then realizes her advice to say no is more harmful than helpful and that really, women ought to say yes more. Wallah.

The main message of the movie was fairly cringe-worthy, which is a pity because it had some truly funny, memorable moments. I really like David Niven in My Man Godfrey and think he had some potential here.

But, ah, yes. This movie did not age well.

Another Dead Streak

It amazes me how I can go 108 days blogging in a row and then just forget to blog one night. Argh! I am so aggravated with myself. I even knew what I wanted to blog about too. Someday I will make it a full year! (Maybe I already have? It seems to me the streak I lost in January was a particularly lengthy one.)

Here we go again! Welcome to Day 1 😉

Would You Rather Fictional Grab-Bag Edition

Stealing this wonderful idea from katiescottagebooks (whom you should follow if you don’t already!) who got it from (whose blog I just followed! How cute!)

I made my sister, Bethany, do it with me for fun.

Would you rather, be a tenant of Mr. Darcy or Mr. Knightley?
Bethany: Darcy. I just hate Knightley.

Me: Knightley. He seems more hands on with his management style.

Would you rather spend a day in the 100 Acre Wood or Neverland?
Bethany: 100 Acre Woods. Neverland is scary.
Me: 100 Acre Woods, they run around murdering each other in Neverland!

Would you rather attend a tea party with the Mad Hatter and company or meet the Wizard of Oz?
Bethany: Tea party with the Mad Hatter. I’ve always wanted to be in Wonderland.
Me: Maybe Wizard of Oz…I feel Mad Hatter is a little too trippy for me.

Would you rather spend a summer at Netherfield with Jane and Mr. Bingley, or at Hamley Hall with Squire Hamley?
Bethany: Obviously Jane and Bingley. They’d be quite great to visit.
Me: Same. Mostly because I haven’t read Wives and Daughters and don’t know Squire Hamley.

Would you rather be “rescued” by Gilbert Blythe or Colonel Brandon?
Bethany: Probably Gilbert. I don’t know. I’d be fine with either.
Me: Gilbert! Easy. Col Brandon is a little too mopey for my tastes.

Would you rather marry Laurie or John Brooke?
Bethany: John Brooke. Laurie is annoying. John Brooke seems like a nicer guy.
Me: Laurie. I think he has potential.

Would you rather have to participate in a skirmish as a member of Robin Hood’s Merry Men, or as a member of the Musketeers?
Bethany: Robin Hood’s Merry Men. They are just better.
This is really hard. I did go through a Three Musketeers phase where I read the books and watched like 7 different movie adaptions. But I’d have to go with Robin Hood as well. I do love fighting unjust taxation!

Would you rather have a jolly holiday in a chalk painting or enjoy a tea party on the ceiling with Uncle Albert?
Bethany: Oooh…chalk painting if I get to go on the carousel.
Me: Chalk painting if Burt comes along.

Would you rather have to chaperone, through their entire courting experience, Lydia Bennet or Anne De Bourgh?
Bethany: Anne De Bourgh. I don’t think I could handle Lydia.
Me: I’m not sure I could handle Lydia either, but I feel like Anne would be supremely boring. So I will give Lydia a go.

Would you rather marry Mr. Wickham or Mr. Elton?
Bethany: You see…I don’t know. Probably Wickham. Wickham is at least charming. Mr. Elton has a terrible personality.
Me: Wickham is more charming…but he runs through money too fast. As much as Mr. Elton creeps me out, he does have a nice parish.

Would you rather spend the rest of your life in Middle Earth (starting from the time of the journey of the ring), or Narnia (starting from the time of the Pevensie’s first visit)?
Bethany: Narnia. It is…Narnia. Also Narnia doesn’t have giant, talking spiders. And I’d get to meet the Pevensies! And the Beavers! And Mr. Tumnus!
Me: Yeah, Narnia always wins.

(Then we decided to add one.)
Would you rather visit Sanditon with Charlotte or Bath with Catherine?
Bethany: Catherine!
Me: Catherine as well. I’d try and steal Mr. Tilney from her.

Word Girl and the Neighbor Kids

I wrote last September about how my neighbor kids enjoy staring through the floor level windows of my basement apartment at me sitting on the couch. Eventually, my sedentary lifestyle must have palled on them (or school started) and they quit coming around. However, with summer months here and the windows wide open, I have once again gained my small audience.

This time, however, at a very specific time: 8:30 PM.

Bethany and I watch Word Girl on PBS at 8:30 during the week days. The neighbor kids are big fans of Word Girl. Even if we close the blinds, it is too stuffy to shut the windows, so they lurk near the window.

At first it was accidental. Their mothers chased them outside and they were standing by the door whining to be allowed back in. The TV show began and suddenly we heard their surprised exclamations as they recognized the opening notes of the show. Then muttered shhhhhs.

The next day it was only one or two kids by the door, but they hovered with silent intentionality.

Yesterday they played nearby but kept a solemn eye on me.

I haven’t seen them today yet, but we shall see if they remember.


One of the attorneys who gave me advice on my law review note sent me a cheesecake from his hometown bakery to commemorate my graduation. It is not every day someone sends me cheesecake, so I called up my sister Anna (who works at the Cheesecake Factory) and told her to come eat it with me and give me her professional opinion.

My two sisters and I had a lovely day together and came home to enjoy our treat. First bite…

Well, we concluded. It didn’t taste as good as Aunt Danica’s cheesecake. But what did?

Second bite…it was better than Wal Mart cheesecakes. Probably.

Third bite…wow there is so much left….

Fourth bite…water. We needed lots and lots of water to wash this down.

It was an absolutely lovely gift and I greatly appreciate the gesture. But we concluded the best thing to do with the rest of the cheesecake was send it home to my teenage brother.

Have a Picnic

I e-mailed my boss a question about an article I’m writing for work. He responded:

“Hello there. It is Memorial Day. Go have a picnic.”

If you are looking for me, I will be wandering around aimlessly outside.

Beyond the Mask (2015)

I remember several petitions circling in 2015 among my friends to get Beyond the Mask into movie theaters when it first came out. I don’t remember if I signed it, but I sure hope I didn’t. This will not be a positive review.

Beyond the Mask is an “American Christian historical action-adventure film.” Or at least, that’s what Wikipedia says and I couldn’t describe it better. It follows William Reynold, a British East India Company assassin/mercenary who decides to turn honest when his old bosses try and kill him. When not involved in a fight to the death (which happen about every 30 seconds), he spends a lot of time mooning over the helpless blonde-haired, blue-eyed heroine. But just when you think the movie can’t get any slower…he moves to America and turns vigilante for the American colonists?

It is very clear that this movie was inspired by All Of The Favorite Home School Action Movies. Pirates of the Caribbean, Phantom of the Opera, Les Mis, Lord of the Rings, probably Narnia, The Legend of Zorro, Romeo and Juliet, National Treasure, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Robin Hood, Ivanhoe, The Count of Monte Cristo…and so many more. It scrupulously follows the “arc of a good story”–from the young and handsome hero and his quest to redeem his honor, to the hapless heroine, the wise mentor (a very strange and Leprechaun-like Benjamin Franklin), the evil villain (who is so evil he apparently murders family members for fun.) And yet despite all this, the plot falls flat.

The Good:

(For the record, Bethany says there is no good. But you know what they say–couch insults constructive criticism between compliments.)

The movie tries. I can understand why it generally went over well with Christian audiences. It is full of action and explosions and romance and yet remains squeaky clean. The actors do what they can with the roles they are given. (Bethany says, “No, the acting was not good. Only Gimli was good.” John Rhys-Davies–aka Gimli–plays the villain. So disclaimer there.) The costumes are…sometimes pretty. At least, I usually liked the heroine’s gowns. And…well, like I said. There is clearly a passion for good, swashbuckling stories here. And just because I don’t think it delivers on that passion doesn’t mean I can’t respect the attempt to bring it.

The Bad

To be blunt, the very thing that probably brought Christian audiences in is what lost my sister and I. It is the problem of most Christian movies and books. Namely, it brings a sledgehammer to do a chisel’s job.

The hero’s conversion experience is the great climax of the movie. Which isn’t necessarily bad. But there is no subtlety about it. He misunderstands grace and love. Then someone reads him a lecture about grace (granted, it was the heroine and not a random pastoral character, so I guess that was good.) Suddenly, his motivation, his understanding, his life changes. He is empowered to change the world. It is a familiar, basic plot and allows for no subtly. You will not be allowed to miss the message about grace. They will say it…and say it again…and again in case you missed it. Honestly, it is not the worst part of the movie and it has been done much worse before but my sister and I rolled our eyes frequently.

This is also just a terribly plotted movie. Characters die for the hero and my sister and I kept going, “Wait! Who was that? Why did he do that? Why do we care?” The bad guys are cookie cutter villians without clear motivation. (Maybe greed?) The romance was insta-love and unbelievable. The transition to the American Revolutionary War was awkward. And it was all so, so historically inaccurate.

My sister refused to believe home schoolers directed this thing. “No home schooler would make such egregious mistakes!” she kept saying. (Alas, both directors were homeschooled according to their bios.) Instead of enjoying the climatic final action scene, we spent it Googling “When was rubber invented?” “When was wire invented?” “Where did bombs come from?”

Finally, the movie itself. We tried to grant it grace because of the budget (hopefully most of its 4 million dollar budget went to paying John Rhys-Davies because he deserves something for being in this movie.) But the green screen was awkwardly evident and frequently the background characters’ costumes are…odd. (At one point, the villain attends a party where all the background characters are wearing the same coat.)

This is yet another attempt to make a Christian movie that falls short…and I think most of the problem lies with the plot. (Bethany: “And everything else.”)

Whatcha Reading
? 5/23/2020 Book Update

It has been a while since I last did a book update! And as I am currently in quite a few of them….I thought it might be fun. I read a lot. In fact, I have so far read 145 books this year alone. I also really like reading multiple books at once. So, when the number get particularly unwieldy, I do a post on here about what I am currently reading.

At the moment, I am reading: Symposium by Plato, A Hero of Our Times by Mikhail Lermontov, The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim, Dare to Lead by BrenĂ© Brown, The Prospering by Elizabeth George Speare, Hear This Woman by Ben and Ann Pinchot, The Surrogate Proletariat by Gregory Massell, Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop, and The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King. Plus, kind of sort of The Great Debate by Yuval Levin but my hold is about to expire and I’m not sure I will renew it.

The TA I worked with last semester frequently recommended Plato’s Symposium. It is probably one of Plato’s more famous Socratic dialogues. So far I am finding it quite interesting, though I do not think it will be my new favorite. Too many statements like: “Then he and every one who desires, desire that which he has not already, and which is future and not present, and which he has not, and is not, and of which he is in want;–these are the sort of things which love and desire seek?” (Took me six tries to figure out what Socrates was saying. And I still probably am missing something.) Reading on Kindle.

I actually loved A Hero of Our Times by Mikhail Lermontov when I first started reading it. Then about 2/3rds of the way through, it switches from a narrative to a journal and almost completely lost my attention. I think I am going to just force myself to finish today. Reading on

I’ve been eyeing The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim for quite some time. I even own a copy of it. But it is taking more effort to get through than I expected. There are lovely descriptions and delightful characters but I feel like I’m perpetually waiting for the plot to start. The synopsis promises a bit more comedy of manners, so maybe that will start soon. Reading a soft cover copy I own.

My brother lent me his copy of Dare to Lead by BrenĂ© Brown. I’m enjoying it so far, though not finding it particularity applicable. Or maybe applicable is the wrong word. There is lots of good content about leadership, but as I am not in a position of leadership at the moment, I am not precisely jotting down notes. Reading a hardcover copy owned by my brother.

The Prospering by Elizabeth George Speare is proving surprisingly…challenging to get through. Initially I was delighted by it. I love Elizabeth George Speare and have read every other fictional book written by her at least twice. But I think there is a reason this one did not take off. It takes a darker, more mature tone, and yet the narrator is a child which feels awkward. It will be interesting to see where it goes. Reading a hardcover copy I got through an inter-library loan.

Hear This Woman by Ben and Ann Pinchot has been on my to-read list for years and I honestly can’t remember what inspired me to read it originally. It is certainly nothing like I expected. Written in 1949, the synopsis merely reads, “Follow Faith Holmes in her journey to bring all American Women together.” The story so far is more complex, surprisingly feminist, and actually quite heavy and political. Reading a hardcover copy I got through an inter-library loan.

Speaking of weird books on my to read list…The Surrogate Proletariat by Gregory Massell spends almost 500 pages describing how the Soviet Union tried to target Muslim women and spread communism from 1919 to 1929. I haven’t gotten particularly far but I’m intrigued. (File under ‘things I did not learn about in history class.’) Reading a hardcover copy I got through an inter-library loan.

Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop is an urban fantasy novel and book 3 in The Others series. Mixed feelings all around about the series so far but I’m sufficiently intrigued to keep reading. I keep telling myself I can drop it at any time, but also…? Reading via my library’s Libby app.

I have purposefully and quite successfully avoided The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King for years now, but enough friends have recommended it that I am giving it a try. The book kicks off the popular Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series, which, just like it sounds, involves a retired Sherlock Holmes and his equally intelligent female apprentice. I am not precisely a Sherlock purist but still…that description…we’ll see. Reading via my library’s Libby app.

What are you currently reading? Anything good?

Days Off

I’ve been rather lackadaisical since taking my last exam. I keep telling myself I will do the things I pushed off while finishing this past semester, but then I don’t do the things. It has reached the point where my friend sent me this meme and said: this is you.

And she’s not wrong. But also…ouch?

Eating Healthy

Bethany and I have been trying to eat healthy. Or, to be more precise, I am trying to eat healthier and by virtue of me cooking for her, Bethany eats healthy.

Day 1: Baked salmon with baked sweet potatoes and avocados.

Day 2: Leftover baked salmon and sweet potatoes with salad.

Day 3: We give up and eat frozen pizza.

All things in moderation, right?