Category Archives: Reviews

Nurse Jackie: Addiction Fucking Sucks

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When the series finale of Nurse Jackie ended and the credits began to roll, I was kinda like, “Ummm…so, THAT’S it?!” My feelings were mixed and I felt dissatisfied. After a few minutes passed and I really started to think about it, I soon realized that it was actually quite perfect.

While the writers brought to us: colorful characters (Zoe was by far my favorite), tragically hilarious storylines and sarcastic one-liners – the show was about addiction.  There was no real beginning and therefore, no real ending was called for. They wrote, for us, merely a glimpse into the life of one woman and her illness.

We are spoiled, as viewers. We like to have everything spelled out for us and then wrapped up into a box of closure topped with a bow. We want that big shoot out or that island wedding or some cataclysmic lesson. When everything doesn’t fit back into the packaging at the end, we are frustrated. “Fuck that! What happened?!” Well, folks, life happened. And I guess we just have to accept that the end wasn’t part of the story.

The tale here was simple: addiction fucking sucks. And addicts just aren’t who we once pictured them to be. They don’t come with flags and badges. And no one is immune. Addicts are smart, creative, funny, successful, kind, compassionate – they bear the most wonderful human qualities. They are loved and respected. They live their lives like everyone else – until, they can’t.

Jackie was very good at what she did – a skillful and polished addict. Her lying was survival. Her manipulation – masterful. And Eddie was as textbook co-dependant as one could be. Where there is a Jackie – there is almost always an Eddie. “You are my everything,” he said. They almost welcome the torment – they feed off of it. At least, for a while. Then there are also Zoes – who will worry and tend and clean up until they are strong enough to finally break away. They still carry their love, only it is more and more carefully protected as time goes on.

I cannot count the addicts I have known and even loved. I cannot measure the impact of each blow by their actions. But I am grateful that I have been able to avoid being a Jackie, so far. And for the most part, I have not stood in Eddie’s shoes. I have, however, been a Zoe. I have also been various co-stars and extras standing in the background attempting to duck from the impending shrapnel.

I have my issues, that is for sure.  This bouquet of neurosis has sheltered me from personally developing the disease a number of times in my life – and for that I am thankful. Having had a father, step father, grandparents, uncles, cousins and friends who battle with addiction – I know just how easily it could come for me. My father died at 46. My stepfather has been sober for decades. Others I have known and loved have all lived (or are living) their own story – each with different outcomes.

Dependency is a tightrope and each acrobat comes with their own finite set of chances. Sometimes there is a net on which to fall but eventually that net will fray and become unreliable. Either way, the exact conclusion can never truly be predicted.

How does it end for Jackie? What happens after they run to her as she lies half-conscious on the floor? It doesn’t really matter. We have many options from which to choose if we wish to fill in our own blanks. Perhaps we can insert our own experiences. Or maybe we can just be okay with knowing that the story wasn’t about how it ends – but rather the tenacious grip dependency can wield.

We know what we need to know – that Jackie was enslaved by an illness – like so many we see, know and love. That this illness can creep on suddenly or take decades to evolve. That some people do gain their freedom – to a certain extent. And that many end their stories dreadfully. But most of all, we know that addiction fucking sucks.

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Maleficent: It’s All About the Story (possible spoilers)

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Today, I took the girls to see Maleficent. I was not particularly looking forward to it. I am not much into kid movies unless there is a lot of adult-friendly humor and I especially don’t love the whole Princess/Castle/Fairy Tale themed thang. I also never really appreciated the acting talents of Angelina Jolie very much. So, I was going for the popcorn and to make them happy for 90-some minutes.

Well slap my ass and call me Judy…I actually liked the damn thing. It certainly could have used more humor. The acting was kind of forced and over the top (though I suppose the genre calls for it). And there was nothing that really made it wonderful or spectacular. But I absolutely adored the story and messaging.

There are few things more annoying than the whole ‘damsel in distress, a man must save her’ story line. Boring and gross. And while the original fairy tale is written this way, the movie is not. It still had enough of the old version to spark memories of reading those books as a child – the 3 silly pixies were always my favorite even though I had forgotten all about them until today. But it was really a completely fresh narrative.

Without giving too much away – I have to say, I truly appreciated the spin on the kiss element. From the time we are little girls, we are read stories about a man coming to the rescue. In movies, the love of a man is the greatest goal a gal can hold. In the original Sleeping Beauty, Aurora needed to be kissed by a man in order to awaken from her spell coma.

Well, this movie said ‘fuck that’. This movie told us that true love comes in many forms and that the love from a mother, friend, godmother, etc can be just as valid and meaningful as the love from a man. Princesses don’t need a Prince to save them, goddamnit, and I am so glad Hollywood is finally catching on.

Another concept I applaud in this film is the fact that there is good and bad in us all. Some have more villain than hero and vice versa. But we are all flawed and complex and multi-dimensional – again, some more than others. A fairy tale in which the bad guy is the also the good guy – how authentic is that.

Love, forgiveness, anger, fear, jealousy…what a wonderful character, Maleficent. How I envy any actor playing that role. And Jolie wasn’t so bad after all. But it really all came down to the story. Fantastic re-write.

Showtime’s ‘Time of Death’ – Ummm WOW.

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If you know me or read my shit, you know I am often overly sensitive. I am empathic and have my own mental issues and because of this, typical life occurrences – even when they are not happening to me directly – affect me more than the “average bear”.

My daughter (9) walked in while I was watching the new Showtime series, Time of Death. She may have noticed tears in my eyes and asked me what I was watching. I told her it was a show about very sick people who are dying. Her reply was the same exact reply most of my friends and family would give, “Why would you want to watch that?!”

Not only am I an emotional person, but, as some of you may know, I have an almost obsessive phobia of death. Much of my anxiety comes from this stupid (sometimes crippling) fear. So, most people who know me would tell me to stop watching stuff like this. But I can’t. And I don’t want to. I watch documentaries and read books about death, dying, afterlife, etc. And while some might think this only perpetuates my fears, it truly does not. It’s kinda like exposure therapy, I suppose. So quit telling me what to watch, damnit! Gesh.

Time of Death is a truly remarkable 6 part series (really hoping there will be more) that follows the end of life for a couple of different people in each episode. And throughout all of the episodes, there is one continuing story that deals with a family whose 48-year-old mother is dying from cancer. During this series, you really get to know this family and their struggles.

Maria was a single mother of 3 children – 2 teenagers and 1 adult daughter. The filmmakers do some brief interviews, but it is mostly just a view into their daily lives – some footage taken with handheld cameras carried by Little, the 25-year-old (very beautiful, strong and intelligent) daughter. During the time of their filming, Maria’s teen children struggled with their dire circumstances by lashing out. And the older daughter had not only the challenge of her mother’s illness and impending death, but also taking on the responsibility of younger siblings.

This family did not hold back. They were honest and raw. And they allowed us to watch; subsequently growing from their experiences. I have such admiration and respect for Little and her mother. And my heart goes out to the kids, whom even though they were making terrible choices, did they best they knew how at the time. They were scared and angry and they simply didn’t know how to process those emotions. And I do not doubt they will live with some regret. I say this due to my own personal experience with my father who died at 46 – after our long estrangement.

I finished watching episode 5 two nights ago and I still cannot get them out of my mind. In that episode, Maria died. And even though everyone watching was expecting that outcome – I mean, obviously – I suppose I wasn’t ready for it quite yet. I wanted her to have more time with her family. Quality time. Without the illness caused by the chemo and radiation. I wanted her to have the chance to have her younger kids come home from foster care before she left this earth. I wanted her to find peace while still here.

But that just isn’t how life plays out much of the time. We don’t all get Hollywood endings with closure and reconciliation. Life can be ugly and gross and full of bullshit. Death, equally so. I suppose it is our job to find the beauty, meaning and essence in both when we can; and cross our fingers and count on others when we can’t.

Below are two clips from the show. And below that is the first full episode. I dare you not to be riveted and emotionally exposed. I dare you not to care about these people and really think about what is TRULY important in your own life.

 

 

 

Free full episode:

2013 Emmy Awards…In My Words

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Sadly, today – on Emmy Sunday – I am plagued with yet another throbbing headache. This is the fifth day of this bitch and I ain’t happy about it. This happens often in the fall as the weather changes. And almost always when the barometric pressure is around 30. I am pretty sure this is another extraordinary reason for my needing to live in San Diego.

But every year…okay, ALMOST every year, I try to write an Emmy post. Not an Emily Post…because, let’s face it, my manners are shit. No, an EMMY post. I love the Emmy Awards because DUH I love television. This year is especially exciting (well, as exciting as a televised, over-the-top, self-congratulatory awards show can be) because I am a fan of so many of the shows nominated. Throughout this year I have been able to catch up on a few I had been neglecting.

Anyway – it is almost time for another epsom bath and hot compress, so let me hurry along…

And there is when I stopped writing because my headache just would not let up.

Let me start again…

Merritt Wever – Fuck Yea!!

I cannot even TELL you how much I love her character on Nurse Jackie. I am even willing to say that Zoey is my favorite character on all of television right now. And there is no one who could play it more perfectly. She makes me want to be her BFF every time I watch. Absolutely thrilled about her Emmy win.

Tony, Tony, Tony…

Oh Tony Hale. How I adore thee. I don’t think I could ever love him more as any character other than Buster in Arrested Development. But he sure makes a close second in VEEP. His awkward, doting portrayal as Gary is nothing short of hilarious. His win for Best Supporting garnered a big YAHOOO in my house.

Tony Hale even stayed in character during a bit at the awards show…

Breaking Bad…Duh

Another win I was quite happy about was, of course, Best Drama – Breaking Bad. After seeing Aaron Paul and *even worse* Bryan Cranston get ROBBED of their rightful statues…this was a sigh of relief. I mean, seriously, I don’t see how there could be any doubt. Breaking Bad is by far one of thee best television shows to ever…well…be. Direction, writing and especially acting on this show is just miles above most anything else. The fact that Sunday will be the series finale is leaving me a little heartbroken, quite honestly. And I sure hope Vince Gilligan is already hard at work on his next project.

A couple other moments I liked about the Emmys this year were: the tributes, the choreographers’ big dance number (usually I fast forward the musical scenes) and Bob Newhart‘s appearances (just because I love him…can you believe all these years and this was his FIRST Emmy?? Simply mind-boggling)


(this one made me cry yet again…)

All and all – I really enjoyed this year’s show. I am pissed that Cranston, Paul and some others did not win. I also think Corey Stoll from House of Cards should have at least been nominated. Neil Patrick as the host…meh. He’s alright. I’d like a little more edgy humor, but I guess that is more for the Golden Globes. Yea…it was a decent year. Lots of good stuff to choose from.

 

Finally, A Princess Who Doesn’t Make Me Puke – Patch

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When I was growing up I don’t recall being consumed with princesses or being covered with pink boas or sparkly dresses. Sure, I had Barbies and I wouldn’t have considered myself a tomboy by any means. But it just didn’t seem we were forced into consumer princessism like girls are today.

I have a 12-year-old stepdaughter and a 7-year-old daughter. For the past 11 years or so, I have witnessed the increasing amount of princess crap being crammed down their impressionable throats. I never liked it much, but, compared to Bratz Dolls and other strangely skanky alternatives, I gladly chose the crowned beauties.

I suppose the whole princess concept was gross to me. They had to be perfect, “lady-like” at all times, long flowing hair and eight-inch waists and worst of all – they were always expected to strive for nothing other than to be chosen by some sword-wielding Prince.

Today I took a couple of seven year olds to see Brave, the new Disney Pixar “princess” movie. I was sort of dreading it as I rarely see children movies I actually like. Toy StoryNemo and Wall-Ewere exceptions, but usually my goal is to simply stay awake.

But I have to admit, I really liked this one. I thought the message was great and better late than never. Merida is a princess in Scotland who was raised to be proper and perfect and when it was time for her to marry – she wanted nothing of it.

Merida longed to be riding her horse, shooting arrows and climbing mountains. She appreciated her moments of freedom with great abundance. And her out-of-control red hair matched her fiery personality. It’s not that she wasn’t princess material; but more like other princesses simply haven’t caught up to her independent standards.

Of course, her mother was insistent on her doing what is expected of her and marry. They butted heads much the same way most of us gals did with our mothers. Sometimes I think there were moments when no one angered me more than my mother. She could just look at me in a certain way and I would snap. But eventually I learned to deal with her naggy criticisms and she learned to deal with my obnoxious mood swings and we became close.

Merida was very angry with her mother and employed a witch to cast a spell  that turned her mother into a bear. While on a quest to reverse the spell, the mother was able to see how capable and talented her daughter truly was and Merida was able to see how much she truly needed her mother. I think that is a lesson so many of us can only hope to learn before it is too late.

I want girls to grow up without limits on their potential. I want girls to know it is okay to color outside of the lines and think outside of the box. I want girls to know that a man’s approval or desire is absolutely NOT their purpose in life – prince or not.

There are elementary students wearing belly shirts and eyeliner. I see pre-teens who look trashier than some bar hags. And I wonder, do they even know why they are presenting themselves this way? And why do parents let them?

Emphasis on brains over beauty, skill over seduction, independence over imprisonment and capability over apathy…this is what I wish for every girl growing up in today’s world of impossible expectations and lessening virtues.

I hope I can raise my girls to be more like Merida – the princess who chooses a sword over a crown and herself over the approval of others.

Bravo, Disney…it’s about (once upon a) time.

 

http://mountpleasant.patch.com/groups/opinion/p/finally-a-princess-who-doesn-t-make-me-puke

 

A Carb-Free Miracle, For Reals (from Rayne Report)

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I am not sure if I believe in miracles…but I will scream from the rooftop about these Miracle Noodles. Well, maybe I will just blog about it instead. I have quite the fear of heights and let’s face it – people already think I’m nuts.

Now, there ARE a few steps to follow and it will never be, feel or taste EXACTLY like pasta noodles. Get real if you’re living in THAT world. But I will assure you, I am a picky bitch when it comes to my grub and I was more than pleasantly surprised.

These “noodles” are made from a very high fiber plant grown in Asia often referred to askonjac or shirataki. They are virtually calorie and carb free. No fat. No dyes. No gluten. This particular fiber (called glucomannan) is said to have many health benefits. It is also very filling which helps for dieting and calorie control.

See the rest of the review at The Rayne Report….

 

The Rayne Report: An “Enlightened” Review

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Last night I watched the season (hopefully not series) finale of Enlightened. And I fully realized just how damned impressed I am with this show. And I am begging for a 3rd season.

Enlightened, on HBO, stars Laura DernDiane Ladd (Dern’s real life mother), Luke Wilson, Timm Sharpe and Mike White (who also writes and directs the show). Sunday ended the second season and it is unknown if the show will be returning. While it has gained much critical acclaim, viewership is sadly low. And once again, the viewing audience may be left holding their di…I mean remote in their hand. Boy does it infuriate me when such a high-caliber program gets the boot because of shit advertising and a public which refuses to give something intelligent a chance.

Enlightened is woven beautifully with humor, angst, inspiration and realism. The writing is pure and not at all pretentious. And I just love that each character has qualities you adore and ones you can’t stand. The acting – perfect. To see this go would be a shame. Although there are many fans who feel the two seasons were all that were needed. They think the finale left the story in a good place. And I can agree with that. White did a wonderful job writing an ending that could leave fans satisfied while also opening a door to many possibilities.

Please visit The Rayne Report for the full review and trailers. 

 

Garnier Fructis Fall Fight Hair Care – A Review (The Rayne Report)

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Garnier - Fructis - Fall Fight Fortifying ShampooGarnier Fructis – Fall Fight Shampoo and Conditioner

What the product website claims:

Save Up To 1500 Strands Per Month

Notice strands in your bathroom sink or brush? Improve hair’s resistance to everyday hair-fall due to breakage.

The formula with energizing caffeine, fortifying biotin and fruit vitamins, strengthens hair from root to ends, reducing falling, breaking strands.

I have been losing hair since I can remember. I mean, I do realize we are ALL losing hair throughout the day. But mine would often clog the shower drain. A typical day would usually result in a quarter sized ball of hair lost in the shower. I already have the thinnest, finest most annoying hair in all the land – further loss will surely lead to baldness. I am so not in the mood to be bald.

Please visit The Rayne Report for the full review.

 

Whatcha Watchin’?? (part one)

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It is no secret that I am an incurable television addict. I love my shows and each day there is a little crack rock of programming in which I smoke. I thought – hey, why not blog about the crap I am watching?! Thrilling, I know.

Please know these are in no particular order whatsoever.

Dexter – Charlie and I caught up on past episodes of Dexter last summer…so we were all ready for a new season. It was prefect timing because Breaking Bad withdrawal was starting to kick in. What I love most about Dexter is the suspense. It also has it’s humor and oddities which set it apart from other dramas. But the suspense and crazy ass story lines is what really catches me. Its ridiculous and over the top – but done well enough to get away with it and even thrive because of it. For those who are unfamiliar, Dexter is about a blood splatter specialist with the Miami police force who just happens to be a serial killer. But he is a lovable serial killer 🙂 And he only kills bad guys which helps.

Homeland – Considering this is on directly after Dexter, this spot seemed appropriate. Homeland is a new show featuring Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin and Damien Lewis. Great cast!! Damien Lewis was in a short lived cop show last year and I have been a fan since. What a great actor. The show is really engulfing. Never bored for a moment and it deals with a lot of very serious subject matter. There is a lot of sex, so watch it after the kids are in bed unless you feel like having an uncomfortable conversation on a Sunday night. The show is about an American soldier who spends years in an Iraqi prison. Once released and rescued, he returns home in hopes to rebuild his life. His wife, having had a relationship with his best friend while he was gone also has to adjust after thinking he was dead. Claire Danes plays a homeland security agent who lives a life of espionage and symptoms of bipolar disorder. She is convinced that the soldier has been turned and is now on the other side.  Fascinating to say the least!!

House – I have been a huge fan since hello. I have seen every single episode and loved each one. Well, at least, like a lot. But I gotta say…it MAY be jumping the shark this latest season. Most of the original cast is gone. There is this new chic who DRIVE ME BATTY. I don’t know if it is her character or her acting – but her speaking and expression is so flat, I almost doze off. Dr. Cuddy is now gone (now staring on The Good Wife). Chase, Taub, Cameron, 13…all gone. Tho I think Taub and Chase may be reappearing. I dunno. I still like the stories and I will always love House. But I gotta say, I am a bit disappointed this season. House is about a vicodin addicted Dr. who takes extreme measures to prove he is right and has a brain big enough to cure just about anything…but not without consequences.

Up All Night – Well come on now. I cannot resist Will Arnett. He really is just too funny in anything he does. And the pairing with Christina Applegate is brilliant. The premise isn’t all that new to 30 minute sitcom land. But the writing by far makes up for that. And the acting…the supporting cast is equally as good, especially Maya Rudolph. The show is basically about a couple in their 30s who is getting a huge dose of reality in the form of a way too cute for real life baby. The show is quite funny and worth the watch.

Whitney – This one took a couple episodes to get it right but it did. I am so happy to see the hilarious and smart comedian, Whitney Cummings, do so well. I have a feeling Chelsea Handler should be getting vodka laden thank you baskets for a year for the explosion of Cummings career. Not only is she starring in, writing and producing this show – she also is creating laughter behind the scenes at 2 Broke Girls (which is also kinda funny, actually). Both shows are live audience sitcoms, which aren’t so prevalent these days.

American Horror Story –  So, I have mixed feelings. Within the first 10 mins of the first episode, I told my husband to turn on Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia instead because it was freaking me OUT! I said I wanted to watch it during the day LOL. He said no and we continued watching as I fought off a TV induced anxiety attack. The acting – a wee little over acted in places, but most of it was exceptional!!! Jessica Lange stills rocks a script. And the Friday Night Lights chic really IS a good actress. Directing/Editing – very artful and it draws you in. Some of the camera shots are very picturesque. But it can be a bit heavy handed. Too much weird moving around makes me feel kinda dizzy 🙂 I never really love David Lynch-like stuff. I thought it tried to hard to be weird just for the sake of being weird. I never really enjoyed “trippy” type movies/shows. For example I HATED The Doors and Natural Born Killers. Altered States was NOT a favorite LOL. I did feel that this show was a wee bit like this but the other parts more than made up for it. All and all I am looking forward to the next episode and I think that says a lot 🙂 There is NO way I am even going to try to tell you what this show is about. But I did just hear that Cam (Eric Stonestreet) from Modern Family will be making a guest appearance and I CAN. NOT. WAIT.

Modern Family – What can I say. This is by far one of my favorite shows of all time. For me, non stop laughing…literal out loud laughing. I always say Cam is my fav character on the show, but honestly, they are all so good – each and every one of them – I cannot really chose a favorite. The writing is simply impeccable. Joke after joke. The story lines are so funny and heartwarming. The messages are genuine and meaningful. I just absolutely love love love it. Modern Family is a humorous look into 3 different households of one perfectly imperfect family.

Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia – This show has been cracking us up for about 4 years now. Inexcusable, dark, horrible humor. I love it. It is certainly another LOL show. I have teared up many times watching it – just from laughing so hard. Much of the laughter is through a hand over my face as I gasp and say OH MY GOD about a thousand times per episode. Talk about over the top!! But it really does go beyond that edge to make it unlike any show ever made before. You cannot be easily offended if you want to enjoy Sunny. They are definitely equal opportunity offenders!! But this show is an absolute riot and VERY underrated.

Okay. That does it for part one. Time to watch some TV 🙂

The Green Room Goes Green

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My friend Maureen turned me on to The Green Room with Paul Provenza and I finally got around to watching it today.

Hilarious. Absolutely one of the funniest shows on TV.Definitelyy the best in its format. And this particular episode really broke television ground…you will see why…and yes, that joint is real…

I am SO frustrated!!!! I cannot get the video to work…but here is the link…

Watch Kathy Griffin Shot Gun Weed on The Green Room
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This show is a must see!!