Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

La La Land and Baywatch in the Same Week, Oh My!



I finally got to see La la land starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Not that it was high on my list of movies to see. In fact, from the mixed feedback I’ve heard it wasn’t even on the list. But one of the ‘Gathering Girls’ found a copy at the library, invited us over and there was no way I was going to miss an afternoon with my posse of new friends. What a fun time we had. We got the two-cent tour of her condo, ate sandwiches we each brought with us and watched the movie while doing our share of cat-calling the action on the screen. Then we laughed and talked about silly stuff like the “dress codes” for getting full body massages and yearly mole checks---no underpants for the former, in case you’re wondering, but you get to keep them on for the latter. 

Back to La La Land: I’m glad I saw the movie because I’ve got a better handle on why the film ran away with the awards it did. The reviewer at The Guardian probably explained its popularity the best: “For the millions of Americans who are depressed and anxious about the state of the nation, La La Land is a trifle that seems more substantial because of our desperate need for distraction.” And I also agree with a review I found at Reel Talk Online: “La La Land is fun and cutesy, and made me leave the theater with a big, goofy smile on my face. But there's one distinct difference between good movie musicals and great movie musicals: with a great movie musical, you can strip all the song and dance numbers from it and it can still be great. Because it has a great story, great dialogue, pitch perfect performances.” La La Land is short on dialogue and the story could be boiled down to one sentence: A jazz pianist and aspiring actress fall in and out of love.

One of the Gathering Girls had already seen La La Land but she kept mum about what was coming after the ‘turning point’ of the story other than to say, “We’ll all need a piece of cake when the movie ends.” Yup, bring on the Pepperidge Farms chocolate fudge layer cake! We got cheated out of a happy ending. And not a single song in the film will stand the test of time like Gene Kelly’s “Singin’ in the Rain” did plus Ryan and Emmy couldn’t match the singing and dance talent of Debby Reynolds and Gene Kelly. Ohmygod, I was totally crushing on Gene Kelly when I was a kid. I saw all his movies, took tap dancing classes because of him and Fred Astaire and I promised anyone who’d listen that I was going to marry Gene when I grew up. Jean and Gene. I did briefly date a guy named Gene and I think we both tried to like each other because of the twin names thing. If we had stayed together we probably would have been one of those goofy couple who wears matching, argyle sweater vests. (If digression was a martial art I'd be a grandmaster.)

That was Saturday then Monday came along with its scheduled monthly brunch with the Gathering Girls and I worried that we’d run out of things to talk about, seeing each other so close together but we didn’t. After eating, two of us headed to the movie theater to see Baywatch starring Dwayne Johnson. The New York Times reviewer said: “Baywatch is sleazy and wholesome, silly and earnest, dumb as a box of sand and slyly self-aware. It’s soft-serve ice cream. Crinkle-cut fries. A hot car and a skin rash. Tacky and phony and nasty and also kind of fun.” What a bunch of contradictory words strung together and I read them before seeing the movie. But you know what, the movie was all those things as it spoofed the original TV series with lines like: “Why does she always look like she’s running slow-mo?” “You see it too? She’s the reason I believe in God.” I remember watching an episode of Baywatch on TV in the early ‘90s with three-four guys in the room and they were hooting and howling about the slow-motion running of Pamela Anderson. This time, the slow-mo running and other nods to the original series had us laughing like little kids at an amusement park. 

As cheesy as Baywatch was and as disjointed as La La Land was I hope Hollywood makes more of these fluff-stuffed films as a counter-balance to all the stressful things going on around the world and in Washington, D.C. A few hours of escapism with some gal pals who love to laugh as much as I do was just what I needed. Before the mini movie marathon I was starting to feel overwhelmed by this, that and the other thing, but I’m recharged now.

“Here's to the ones who dream, Foolish as they may seem, Here's to the hearts that ache, Here’s to the mess we make.” That’s the chorus of a song Emma Stone sang in La La Land. But don’t waste your time trying to figure out why I thought that it’s a proper ending to this blog entry. I just knew the minute I heard it that I loved it enough to find a way to work it in my next writing session. ©



28 comments:

  1. I think we all could use some silly nonsense to cool our blazing ire at that king of fools.

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    1. I fear it's going to get worse before it gets better.

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  2. I am only watching things that make me happy. Nothing that will blow up, kill, hurt or be about politics. Not even Veep. Done!!

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    1. That's survival mode and sometimes we have to be there.

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  3. Yes, we do need an escape and movies like those give us a few hours to reset.

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    1. I have a feeling I'll be going to the theater a lot this summer.

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  4. It sure sounds like you are having a lot of fun with the Gathering Girls, I am happy to see this, I have not watched either of these movies myself but smiled at the reviews you shared.

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    1. We are but we are having some problems planning things because of the physical limitations of three of the five of us.

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  5. How wonderful for you to get together with these women and share laughter. Good for you.

    My mother is a huge fan of old Hollywood via the films. Through her, I became quite the fan of Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor dancing into the hearts of America. No one like them.

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    1. When I was looking for "Singin' in the Rain" clips I was reminded of Donald O'Connor. There were so many good tap dancers in the movies back in that era. I hope more musicals will come after La La Land.

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  6. Just like some of the musicals during WWII took away the fear, so do these kinds of movies.

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    1. I hope the fact that these kinds of movies are making money that they will start getting away from making so many movies that full of guns and violence.

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  7. What fun movie adventures! Maybe you could host a Gene Kelly film for the next visit! Especially if everyone brings their own brown bag lunch ... you could buy a box of coffee from Starbucks and even some sort of treat!!

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    1. They'd all have to sit on my bed to watch movies at my house. I'll probably do a board game day. We've talked about us each have the others to our houses before the summer is over. Hopefully we'll stick with the same brown bag thing with the host providing beverages and dessert.

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  8. I generally don't like fluffy movies - not that I go out to watch movies, preferring to watch them, if at all, when they come on free TV at home - but I can understand they'd be good entertainment watching in a group, and definitely a distraction from current politics. I liked the tap dancing part - admire the skill - and was reminded of Michael Flatley.

    Amidst all the political shenanigans, I am sorry that Alex Honnold's free climb of El Capitan, Yosemite has somehow not got its proper due. That guy is unbelievable. I don't understand why some people are criticising him for taking extreme risks etc etc - no one ever said that when people tried to break the 4min/mile record. The guy is definitely not an idiot. Just watching him climb, I get scared and often have to look away. USA - you have a son to be proud of! ~ Libby

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    1. Alex's climb was on one of the news programs I watch. That was amazing. I watched a group of kids try the rock climbing wall at the Y and so many of them only got about ten feet off the ground before they got scared. The amount of practice Alex did must have done blows my mind. Do you know how he got back down? I know National Geographic photographed it so I'm wondering if their helicopter picked him up.

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  9. No helicopter. He down climbs, or walks down apparently.

    I'd be worried about sudden wind gusts, birds, etc too but apparently he scopes out his climbs thoroughly beforehand. But who can prepare for the unexpected?

    Last year I read of Dean Potter, another self-taught solo jumper, BASF etc - he'd just tragically died, with a companion jumper, attempting a dangerous jump through a narrow neck of El Capitan, Yosemite. It saddened me greatly. He left behind a long-term girlfriend, and dog (who often accompanied him, harnessed in a haversack. I've sometimes thought of the dog (Whistler?) missing his master. ~ Libby

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    1. Amazing! I can't imagine what that first step going down would be like. The concentration it would take for a climb like that blows my mind. One false move and you'd fall. I'd let go if a bug crawls up my arm, let alone encountered a bird.

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  10. (Apparently he doesn't need to practise his climbs that much either. I find him absolutely amazing). I pray he stays safe.

    Just google Alex's name - plenty of stuff on the internet. As also on Phillipe Petit, another self-taught, though he's on the wire - the walk between the twin World Towers. ~ Libby

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    1. Well do.

      The wire walkers actually annoy me because I think that are endangering others if they fall or distract someone on the ground and they always crave a crowd of watchers. Alex seem to do it the love of climbing, not the fame.

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  11. Wow, I felt so good after reading your blog Jean. I've always loved musicals and " Singing in the Rain " was a faourite of mine especially the scene of Gene Kelly singing in the rain. Loved it. Now " Lala Land looks like a movie I would love. " Baywatch ", well if I was younger I would go see especially about the beautiful ladies but not now. At 67, I know what everything looks like. Ha,ha,ha.
    Have a great day my friend and it's nice to see that you are with many wonderful friends See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. Nice to meet a fellow fan of Gene Kelly. He made a lot of feel-good movies, didn't he.

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  12. I liked LaLa Land because I thought the bright colors, the costuming, and song/dance sequences were so much fun! And the story was interesting to me because it was more realistic than "they lived happily ever after". It prompted my husband and I to have a long road trip conversation about how our lives might have been incredibly different if we'd made different choices about our relationship early on. Love that you are having so much fun with the Gathering Girls!

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    1. The gathering girls had the same kind of conversation after the movie about different choices. I liked the story and the movie but I also thought the editing left a lot to be desired...way too chopping and hard to follow, especially in the opening and ending dream sequencing.

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  13. Movies generally aren't my thing. I rarely find one that appeals, although the ones that do usually turn out to be time well spent. It is great that your group can go and enjoy one now and then. I noticed your comment about physical limitations playing into your choice of activities. That's more and more a part of my life, too. A couple of my best friends just aren't able to go for a walk any more, let alone a hike. It's one good reason to make younger friends as we age -- they can keep up with us. I know my day will come, but I guess while I'm still able to be out and about, I'd rather be doing that than sitting in a movie theater.

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    1. I'm really bummed out that physical limitations has to be factored so heavily in any activities we might do. We tried to plan going to a small town fair and three of the six of us decided it would be too much walking for them, then one person had a funeral come up at the last minute and that left just two of us that went. So as promising as the summer was looking for a while, it doesn't look that way anymore. All the outdoor art shows, quilt shows, etc. are out.

      If you figure out how to make friends with younger people, let me know. Those I am friends with are worse off than me physically.

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  14. I loved Singing in the Rain. Did you know that Debbie Reynolds didn't know how to dance before that movie? She had to learn for the movie. She was so overwhelmed one day that she crawled under the piano, curled up in a ball and started crying. Fred Astair came along and asked her what was wrong. She said, "I'll never learn to dance." He said, "Come with me, and I'll show you what it takes." She went with him and watched him practice the same steps over and over and over again. Then she knew. I can't believe how great she was in that movie. She said there was blood in her shoes after dancing some of the routines. I loved those old movies.

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    1. I didn't know that until I was fact checking for this this blog. It's an amazing story of how Fred became her dance coach. She was so young---only 18---but she was a gymnast which made the director believe in her ability to learn.

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