Tuesday, November 27, 2012


This morning I went Christmas shopping for needy family at 7am!!

Our local realtors association had a benefit dinner to raise funds for needy families in the county.  The funds were divided up and paired with profile sheets for needy family members so we'd know what age, height, weight, and sex each child is when we were shopping.  The local KMart opened at 7am for us so we could shop for our families before going to work.

My friend Joey & I got a family with 4 children, 2 boys and 2 girls, ages 6, 10, 13, and 15 and a budget of $435.  Between shopping the sales plus the extra 10% off non-sale items, Joe & I made a huge impact for our family!

Each of the 4 kids got:
  • a winter coat
  • a pair of shoes or boots
  • a set of sheets
  • a fleece throw/blanket
Then based on their sex, age, and 'wish list' we also got:
  • Barbie dolls
  • football and basketball
  • skateboard
  • jewelry
  • perfume
  • cosmetics
  • board games
  • remote controlled car
  • clothing
We tried really hard to get things we really thought they would like and be able to use while maximizing our budget.  It took us nearly 2 hours, but the satisfaction we received from this event was well worth the time spent.

Next week I will try and join the volunteers who will be wrapping all the gifts too.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving mini-drama

We'd heard from Spouse's sister that his 2 brothers who are 'flakes' were bringing Spouse's mom with them and had planned to leave DC Wed at 3pm.  This means they should arrive by 6pm so we waited for them to eat dinner.  

At 7pm they still had not arrived so Spouse called his sister to get a cell phone number for 1 of the flakes, knowing his mom would not have her cell turned on.  His sister didn't have a cell number for either of them, and neither of them had ever called us to tell us when they would arrive, nor did they ask for directions, so we had no idea where they were, when they'd actually left, or when they'd arrive.  Unfortunately this is typical behavior for these two.  They are so dysfunctional and self-consumed they have little to no regard for others.  

Since Spouse & I expected them around dinne time we'd postponed eating, thinking we'd eat with them when they arrived with his mom.  But by 8pm they still hadn't arrived and we'd heard nothing from them, so Spouse & I left to get a quick bite to eat and pick up a few last minute items from the grocery store.  We later learned that they arrived at our house just minutes after we'd left, finding the house locked.  They went to a bar/restaurant and had a bite to eat while we were doing the same thing somewhere else.  As they came in the door they asked where they could smoke so Spouse told them either out front (in the yard) or out back on the screened porch.  One of the flakes said he'd use the empty beer can in his hand as an ashtray.  How charming!

Later that night Spouse's sister and her 3 kids (ages 15,  17, and 20) arrived.

Thanksgiving day went rather smoothly, with everyone getting along and enjoying a delicious dinner.  That evening the 2 flakes were preparing to leave, as both of them had to work on Fri and were not staying overnight again.  We sent them on their way with a silent sigh of relief.  A little later our stomachs finally had enough room for dessert so I went out onto the rear screened porch to get the pumpkin pies off the porch table.

That's when I discovered that the flakes had dropped their cigarette butts on the porch floor!

I was stunned at their inconsideration.  I just couldn't believe that 2 people could show such disregard for someone's property to throw dozens of cigarette butts on the floor.  How did they think these would get cleaned up?  The truth is they didn't care.

When I came back inside I told the others what the flakes had done.  Although everyone thought it was absolutely terrible, in reality no one was truly surprised by their selfish, inconsiderate behavior.  They've all become used to it.  Had the flakes still been present when I discovered the butts, I would have handed them a broom and dustpan.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday

Many retailers opened on Thanksgiving night to lure in even more Black Friday shoppers.  I am NOT one of them.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Family arrival

Mon I cleaned the house and made sure there were clean sheets on the beds and clean towels in the bathrooms.

Last evening Spouse & I bought all our Thanksgiving ingredients at the grocery store.

After work today he'll prepare and cook the turkeys which when done he'll allow to come up to room temperature and will then sit in the fridge overnight.  Then tomorrow he'll put them in the Nesco roaster oven on a very low temperature and bring them back to hot for dinner.  This allows us to have the oven free all day on Thurs for baking the dressing, sweet potatoes, casseroles, and biscuits.

Tonight the family arrives.  Unfortunately Spouse's brother-in-law Eric is away on business travel so he won't be here, but Spouse's sister Mary and her 3 teenagers and Spouse's mom will definitely arrive tonight.  

There is also a possibility that 2 of Spouse's brothers might show up tonight, but we don't really know for sure.  I find this uncertainty to be very frustrating and kind of rude.  Having 2 extra people (who don't share a bed) stay overnight will change the sleeping arrangements for the others who managed to confirm that they'd be staying with us.  But these 2 brothers are flakes so this behavior is, unfortunately, par for the course. The 2 flakes have to work on Fri so (if they come at all) they will leave Thurs night after dinner.  Spouse's sister, the kids, and his mom will stay with us until Sat. 

But we will not let this possibility of family drama diminish our enjoyment of some family time together and of course a delicious meal!  Here's what we're having:
  • Spouse's famous citrus herb roasted turkey
  • dressing with granny smith apples, pecans, and cranberries
  • mashed potatoes and homemade gravy
  • green bean casserole
  • macaroni and cheese
  • corn casserole
  • sweet potato shuffle
  • pineapple dressing (side dish)
  • biscuits
  • homemade cranberry sauce
Here's hoping that that there's no family drama in YOUR Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Film Festival: day 4

Synopsis: What would you do if each time you woke up you were at a different age in your life? For Lovell Milo this is not a theoretical question, but an every day part of life. Since the age of 26, although he’s never quite sure when that was, his world has been this way, a literal card shuffle, never knowing what he’s going to get dealt. The more his life jumps from year to year, the more restless he becomes, and ultimately he begins searching for clues to find a way out. Finally he notices a pattern to what he is experiencing and discovers there may be a reason for and a solution to this madness. A mesmerizing puzzle of a film, Shuffle is a blackand-white portrait of a disheartened young man’s second chance at life, a chance he may miss out on if he doesn’t play his c ards right.

My thoughts:  This was my favorite film of the festival.  Each day Lovell wakes up at a different time in his life, and struggles to figure out why and how to stop it.  Watch a trailer here.

Synopsis:  David Wozniak, who has worked his way down to being the delivery guy for his family’s butcher business, is 42 with not much going for him. For pocket change, he routinely donates sperm to a Montreal artificial insemination clinic, but a processing error has led to his sperm being used over and over, to successfully father 533 children!  Now, a group of those kids is suing the clinic to learn David’s true identity, as David hides behind his legal rights to anonymity, while a media circus ensues. The media dub the mysterious donor “Starbuck,” in honor of a true-life Holstein bull famed for his stud services.  Never one to accept a responsibility that he couldn’t better shirk, David sneaks through a variety of impersonations to peek into the lives of his young progeny, and discovers a talent for parental nurturing he never knew he had. Ken Scott’s uproarious high-concept comedy was the number one box office hit in Quebec last year, and it’s not just because audiences were in tears with laughter. They were in tears from the wellspring of joy that comes with the rediscovering of unconditional love.

My thoughts:  This was my 2nd favorite film of the festival.  It was very funny, very sweet, and very tender.  Watch a trailer here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Film Festival: day 3

Synopsis:  When Margarita, an illegal Mexican nanny, is fired by her cash-strapped yuppie employers, it sets in motion a chain of events that leaves her torn between loyalties and the law. Desperately in love, but feeling rejected by her shy, commitment-phobic girlfriend, Margarita becomes resigned to starting a new life back home in Mexico. The family quickly discovers that Margarita’s modest salary is the only good investment they’ve ever made and hatches a series of ill-conceived schemes to keep her in the country.  Suddenly, it seems like everyone wants to save Margarita; everyone that is, except the one person she actually wants to be saved by. In the guise of a family drama, Margarita looks, through the eyes of a hard-working illegal, at social injustice as it relates to class, race and immigration policy. With warmth, humor, and candor, Margarita also tells the story of the disillusionment, resentment, and alienation that inhabit the margins of our closest relationships.

My thoughts:  If you're like many you believe all illegal aliens should be deported, this film will cause you to think twice about such a blanket policy.  Beautifully acted, this story helps illustrate the very real human side of the immigration issue.  I liked this film a lot.

Time to Spare
Synopsis:  Maarten, a gay, 40-something music teacher, goes through empty nest syndrome when his savvy younger sister Molly decides to leave the home the two have long shared, to move in with her boyfriend. Her departure does open up new opportunities to him, however, when he meets Arthur, a closeted but very attractive man, and the two hit it off despite their differences. All does not go smoothly in either couple’s relationship, and soon Molly is moving back home and reconsidering her options even as Maarten’s mate Arthur reconsiders his own. Can true love ever be found in a world where all truth is relative?  First time feature film writer/director Job Gosschalk evokes terrific performances from his gifted cast in this vividly rendered seriocomic melodrama. The complexity of characters and storyline combine to create a richly moving tale that evokes both laughter and tears.

My thoughts: This film was great.  It expands one's definition of family and how far family members will go for each other.  Watch a trailer here.

Out in the Dark
Synopsis:  Nimer, a Palestinian student, is dreaming of a better life abroad. One fateful night he meets Roy, an Israeli lawyer, and the two fall in love. As their relationship deepens, Nimer is confronted with the harsh realities of a Palestinian society that refuses to accept him for his sexual identity, and an Israeli society that rejects him for his nationality. When his close friend is caught hiding illegally in Tel Aviv and sent back to the West Bank, where he is brutally murdered, Nimer must choose between the life he thought he wanted and his love for Roy. First time director Michael Mayer crafts a romantic drama that refuses to play it safe and in doing so captures the intensity of a relationship that is put under immense pressure every single day. Love between barriers leads to a life in the shadows and being left out in the dark.

My thoughts: I thought this film was great.  The story was solid, the acting was superb, the dilemma was very real and timely.  Also, it didn't hurt that both lead actors were hot.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Film Festival: day 2

Let My People Go!
Synopsis:  A Nordic gay couple seeks reconciliation after their fantasia existence implodes in Let My People Go! a kitschy romantic comedy fusing Jewish and gay cultures. Nebbishy Ruben lives with his pretty, blond boyfriend while delivering mail in small-town Finland. A money parcel mix-up ends in a lover’s quarrel, sending a tearful Ruben back to Paris and his devout but dysfunctional Jewish family. With Passover approaching, much melodrama ensues involving the ditzy matriarch, philandering father, ill-tempered brother and unhappily married sister. Making matters worse, Ruben must repel the advances of a closeted family friend and Jewish community elder, Maurice Goldberg. Lavish to behold, this absurdist comedy offers an inspired marriage of camp and farce that both celebrates and sends up gay and Jewish stereotypes in a deliciously perverse fairytale that milks laughter from every madcap situation.

My thoughts:  The terms "absurdist", "camp", "farce" and "madcap" in the synopsis above were all accurate, but the film was entertaining and I did chuckle several times.  Watch a trailer here

10% Shorts
1. Coffee & Pie:  In this self-proclaimed anti-romantic comedy, yet offbeat love story of sorts, a couple is breaking up. Manipulative June feels her moral superiority justifies the breakup.  October learns from seasoned waitress Billy-Jean, that revenge is a dish best served with pie. This sweet as pie short will be enjoyed by all.
2. Couples Therapy:  Each week, Vince and Daniel attend couples therapy, and each week they have something to talk about, and thus, each week Vince and Daniel attend couples therapy.
3. Fallen Comrade:  Two soldiers form an indelible bond in training camp, but when shipped to the Afghan front, one is forced to deal with the specter of his partner’s death when their unit is caught in an ambush.
4.  Flyer:  A street flyer leads to a surprising discovery in this black and white award-winning film from one of Canada’s favorite filmmakers.
5. Fresh Air Therapy:  Petra and Kerstin, a German couple, are spending another unpleasant session with their counselor when a power failure and natural body functions bring them closer together. Will they still need therapy?
6. Its a Boy:  It has been said that out of the mouth of babes can come some sage advice.  This short proves the adage correct, as three babies discuss their sexuality and debate if being gay, bi, or straight is a choice.
7. Its Not a Cowboy Movie:  Brokeback Mountain was aired on TV last night. Vincent watched it and has been completely shattered. He takes advantage of the recess to describe the film in a touching and naïve way to his classmate, Moussa. In the girls’ bathroom, Jessica, also deeply moved by the film, bombards her best friend Nadia with awkward questions about her gay father.
8. Silver Stiletto:  Two men are found dead in a dumpster outside of well-known gay bar and their wounds suggest a trained killer. Detective Alexis Morgan has a crazy theory. Could the disheveled Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz impersonator sitting in his interrogation room really be the murderer?
9. Tsuyako:  In postwar Japan, Tsuyako, a factory worker and mother, must decide between duty and love, her family and her freedom. A winner of over 50 top honors at international film festivals, Tsuyako is powerful, beautiful, and elegant. 

My thoughts:  I could have done without #4 and #6.  I liked all the others, and some were absolutely amazing, like #3 and #9!  All in all a very good collection of GLBT shorts.

In the Family
Synopsis:  In the town of Martin, Tennessee, Chip Hines, a precocious six year-old, has only known life with his two dads, Cody and Joey. And a good life it is. When Cody dies suddenly in a car accident, Joey and Chip struggle to find their footing again. Just as they begin to, Cody’s will reveals that he named his sister as Chip’s guardian. The years of Joey’s acceptance into the family unravel as Chip is taken away from him. In his now-solitary home life, Joey searches for a solution. The law is not on his side, but friends are. Armed with their comfort and inspired by memories of Cody, Joey finds a path to peace with the family and becomes closer to his son. The director, Patrick Wang, allows the film’s ambitious length to patiently interweave flashback sequences that reveal the complex nature of Cody’s relationship with Joey, their relationship with Cody’s family, and Joey’s relationship to his orphaned past. Rarely has the nature of what it means to be in a family been examined with such rewarding nuance.

My thoughts:  This film's story couldn't have been more relevant after the recent marriage equality victories in several states earlier this week.  The film was very, very good but could have benefited from some editting since it was nearly 3 hours long.  But the film did a great job at showing what sometimes happens when emotions run high.  Sage advice can sometimes come from the most unlikely source.  Watch a trailer here.

Kiss Me
Synopsis:  Romance can unfold at the most inopportune moments, and that’s precisely what happens to hetero-inclined Mia and self-aware lesbian Frida, two 30-something career women who meet at a party celebrating the engagement of Frida’s mother and Mia’s father. While the two women’s status as future stepsisters is a formidable obstacle, not to mention Mia’s own engagement to a man, the two begin a passionate, emotional and erotic dialogue that leads to significant conflict between their loved ones and families. Their parents, in particular, must wrestle with the collision of the personal and political that their daughters’ evolving relationship creates. From the beginning, director
Alexandra-Therese Keining fashions an organic, nuanced viewpoint of Mia and Frida’s unfolding romance. Thanks to the intricacies that drive the plot, the resulting story arc wisely sidesteps clichéd melodrama and gains significant momentum via the actresses’ obvious chemistry and genuinely empathetic performances.

My thoughts:  I was slightly annoyed by the premise of this film.  A woman is engaged to marry a man she's lived with for 7 years then suddenly falls in love with another woman who is already in a relationship with a woman.  For some reason we are supposed to be sympathetic to these women who have just found 'new love' with each other, even though they both wind up destroying the relationships and lives of the others they're with.  I suppose its 'romantic' that their new love is so strong and engrossing that it makes them end their current relationships in order to be with their new love, but I guess I'm a little more old fashioned.  I think you should end a relationship before starting another one.  Watch a trailer here.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Film Festival: day 1

Today I saw 5 films.  I'll share the film catalog synopsis and my thoughts on the films too.

Keep the Lights On
Synopsis:  Keep The Lights On chronicles the emotionally and sexually charged journey through the love, addiction, and friendship of two men. Documentary filmmaker Erik and closeted lawyer Paul meet through a casual encounter, but they find a deeper connection and become a couple. In an almost decade-long relationship defined by highs, lows, and dysfunctional patterns, Erik struggles to negotiate his own boundaries and dignity and to be true to himself.  Danish actor Thure Lindhardt, who embodies Erik’s isolation and vulnerability with a gentle presence, anchors director Ira Sachs’s fearlessly personal screenplay. Harrowing and romantic, visceral and intellectual, Keep The Lights On is a moving film that looks at love and all of its manifestations, taking it to dark depths and bringing it back to a place of grace.

My thoughts:  I liked this film's portrayal of what it can be like to be in love with a substance abuser without being preachy.  The pain of missed important appointments, the fear of not knowing where they are, the vanishing ability to trust.  It was sexy, dark, and sad.  Watch a trailer here.

For 80 Days
Synopsis:  Abandoned by her daughter and ignored by her husband, 70-year-old Axun, is living out a traditional life in a Basque farmhouse with little in the way of happiness or fun. Out of a sense of duty, she begins visiting her comatose ex-son-in-law in the hospital. Axun soon realizes that the high-spirited woman visiting the patient in the next bed is in fact her childhood friend Maite from 50 years ago. The two women revive their friendship, but hit a brick wall when Maite reveals her lesbianism to the unworldly Axun. When the memory of a childhood kiss between the women resurfaces, Axun finds herself caught between a late-blooming but all-consuming passion, and her sense of obligation. Maite, on the other hand, has been out for 50 years and finds Axun’s conservatism grating. Will Axun take her chance at love and follow her heart, or succumb to the call of duty? For 80 Days is an utterly engrossing and charming film which is made all the better for outstanding performances.

My thoughts:  I found this film delightful!  Sprinkles of comedy and beautiful scenery lightened this story of marriage, friendship, duty, and passion.  Watch a trailer here.

Synopsis:  Gayby, written and directed by Jonathan Lisecki, is a feature film based on an award-winning short film. Jenn and Matt are best friends from college who are now in their 30s. Single by choice, Jenn spends her days teaching hot yoga and running errands for her boss. Matt suffers from comicbook writer’s block and can’t get over his ex-boyfriend.  They decide to fulfill a youthful promise to have a child together… the old-fashioned way. Can they navigate the serious and unexpected snags they hit as they attempt to get their careers and dating lives back on track in preparation for parenthood? Gayby is an irreverent comedy about friendship, growing older, sex, loneliness, and the family you choose.

My thoughts:  Although the story of gays and lesbians assisting each other to have a child is not a new one, Gayby tells the story in a hilarious, fresh way.  It didn't hurt that the male lead was super cute!  Watch a trailer here.

Ten years after Yossi and Jagger, the tragic love story of two IDF officers serving in Lebanon, director Eytan Fox returns to find out what has happened with Yossi.  Dr. Yossi Hoffman has become a valued and dedicated cardiologist, often using his work as a way to escape his anguished life. He lives alone, still closeted, unable to break through the walls and defenses built around him since the death of his lover. Even his co-workers find it almost impossible to get close to him. His daily routine at the hospital is shaken up by the arrival of a mysterious woman. He follows her, and through the surprising connection they make, receives a rare opportunity to deal with his trauma. Yossi then travels to the southern city of Eilat. Surrounded by sea and sand dunes, he meets a group of young Israeli IDF officers, among them Tom, a handsome and self-confident openly gay man, who represents a new world, different from the one that shaped Yossi.

My thoughts:  Although I enjoyed this film, I felt it was slow and lacked focus until about 1/2 way through when Yossi confronts the woman from the hospital and then goes to Eilat.  Despite the need for editting it was an enjoyable film.  Watch a trailer here.

Escort in Love
Synopsis:   A spoiled rich bitch left in dire circumstances by her husband’s death turns to the world’s oldest profession to earn some necessary dough in this cheerfully non-PC sex comedy brimming with witty dialogue, funny sight gags and savvy comic performances. Tart-tongued Alice is forced to sell her luxurious villa and move with her adorable 9 year-old, Filippo, to a rooftop in Rome’s multi-ethnic, working-class neighborhood. Facing debtor’s prison and the loss of Filippo to social services if she can’t come up with a large sum of money fast, Alice enlists the help of Eva, a high-priced escort. The scenes in which Eva tries to mold her protégé’s fashion sense, personal grooming habits and seduction skills are hysterical. Meanwhile, the friendly locals embrace the lonely Filippo, who starts to blossom. It takes Alice longer to warm to her new wonderland, but the sparks she strikes with sexy Internet cafe owner Giulio move the process along.

My thoughts:  This campy comedy was very cute and fun to watch.  In a not-so-subtle way the story reminds us not to judge a book by its cover.  Watch a trailer here.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Getting excited

Although I've not mentioned it here on my blog yet this month, I'm really getting excited about the Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival which begins tomorrow!  I have been attending for several years and always enjoy the wonderful selection of films.

This year I have arranged my work schedule to be off work for all 4 days of the festival and am planning to see 14 films.  Many people say they couldn't possibly see that many films but I don't find it to be hard at all, as long as the films are good.  Despite Rehoboth Beach being a relatively small town, I feel the RB Independent Film Festival's quality rivals that of much larger city's film festivals.

Today I picked up my tickets for all 4 days' films and am eager to get started tomorrow!

Monday, November 05, 2012


Tomorrow is election day.  I hope all of you are planning to vote!!