Friday, December 28, 2018

Did You Hear That?

When I was about 11 years old there was a very popular song named "Teen Angel". It was about a teenage boy whose girlfriend was killed in an oh so tragic car accident. Everyone was singing it.

One day my mother came home from grocery shopping chuckling. She had seen a little girl sitting on the curb in front of the post office. And singing at the top her lungs. "Clean Angel, can you hear me? Clean Angel, can you see me?" You can find the song on YouTube. It was sung by Mark Dinning.

Sometimes we hear the words to songs wrong. It is a common thing. There are even web sites dedicated to hearing the words to songs wrong. Some of them are quite funny. Just do a search for wrong words to songs and be entertained.

The Singing Nun was a real nun who had recorded a song named "Dominique". It was a huge hit. A beautiful song sung by a nun with the voice of an angel. My aunt who was a know-it-all teenager at the time insisted that it was performed by The Singing Num. After all a real nun would never make a record.

This song is probably the most notorious song of all time. "Louie, Louie" by The Kingsmen was banned in many cities of the United States. Those in charge of banning things were concerned because they could not understand the lyrics. That meant it must have something "dirty" in it. The more cities that refused to allow it to be played, the more we wanted to listen to it.

I was fairly newly married. My husband and I headed to the laundromat to wash some clothes. As we walked in with our dirty clothes there was a song I had not heard before playing quite loudly.

Imagine my shock when the chorus began "Where were you when the ship hit the sand?" I of course heard something else. I thought they were singing about something distasteful hitting the fan. If you are interested the song sung by Little Jimmy Dickens is on YouTube and titled "When the Ship Hit the Sand". It is still difficult to write the correct words.

I cannot begin to tell you of the number of times while the television is on that my head will whip up at something I imagined that I heard. Usually it is something that I will not repeat. Usually my unclean little mind picks up sounds and scrambles them into something else. Does it happen to you\?

Friday, December 21, 2018

A Family Christmas Eve

When we were little Christmas was an expectant time. We went to bed early so that Santa Claus could come and leave us presents. We had written letters to him assuring him that we had been good. We let him know what gifts we wanted.

It was so hard to go to sleep. We would try and the harder we tried, the harder it was to relax enought to finally drop off. But eventually it happened.

Christmas morning was glorious. We would get up and file to the living room. That is where the Christmas tree was with all the presents beneath it. There was an order to opening gifts that has been followed from then on. I will tell you more later.

Some Christmases we went to spend the day with my mother's family on the farm. It was fun getting so many people together. But most years it was just our family and that was special.

One Christmas when I was 5 or 6 I awoke to hear the sounds of nuts cracking. That was Daddy. I cannot pass the nuts in the store at Christmas without thinking of him. He loved them so and Christmas was the only time they were available.

There were voices. Had Santa been there?

I got out of bed and went quietly to the door. There were Mom and Daddy wrapping gifts and putting them under the tree. Most people would say that was proof there is no Santa Claus. Of course I know better. He is real.

Every year Santa left a giant Hershey bar for each of my brothers and sisters. Mom and I got big boxes of chocolate covered cherries. They are still my very favorite.

Another year my brother and I woke up early. It was about 2:00 in the morning. We went to the living room and there was the tree with all the presents under it. We were much too excited to go back to bed so we decided to wait quietly until everyone else was awake.

We spent the time guessing what was in each package. The round one had to be a basketball. It was fun. The problem was that even our whispering got louder and louder. Mom got up and shooed us back to bed.

Then there was the year my brother and I decided to play sick and stay home from school before Christmas. We knew where Mom was stashing the gifts and we were going to take a peak. Mom was working at the time so she took our youngest sister to Grandma's. We were alone. Yay.

We went into the closet and went through everything. I found two dresses that I assumed were for my sister and me. Mom sewed most of our clothes. She had outdone herself with these and they were gorgeous. I even tried mine on. Perfect fit.

That was a terrible Christmas for me. I discovered that a major part of the fun is the expectation and surprise in the packages.

When I was about 15 I went to my boyfriend's house on Christmas Eve. I had a wonderful time with his family. He was to take me home so I would be home by 11:00.

There was a terrible blizzard that night. I lived at what amounts to be the top of a steep hill. He drove home the way we usually went. His car could not get to the top of the hill. He tried another way. No luck. We went around and tried to get up the hill past the cemetery. It was steeper than the rest.

Then we decided that perhaps he could go part way up and then turn into a subdivision. By winding through streets that only went up for a block we were finally ably to come out on my street and I made it home. He had no trouble going to his house because it was all downhill.

Because it was so late I went to explain to Mom why I did not make curfew. She understood. She was wrapping gifts for my brothers and sisters and told me I could help so that she could get a little sleep. I was happy to do it.

Then the next morning we opened our gifts from Santa. I was miserable because I knew everything the other kids were getting. I do like surprises.

As we got older the kids started buying gifts for our parents and each other. In order to make room under the tree we opened those gifts on Christmas Eve.

When I was a teenager I realized how much my parents loved Christmas and what they did to make sure that our Christmas was a good one. We did not get gifts for birthdays and other occasions. There were special things we did but money was hard to come by.

At Christmas my parents went all out. They would go into debt or sell something that was precious to them just to make sure that our Christmas was a good one. And they never ever let on. I knew but I never mentioned it to them. That was my gift to them.

One year I got my first wrist watch for Christmas. I was being recognized as the soon to be adult that I felt I was. It was before we had digital battery operated watches. It had to be wound by the little stem to keep it running every day. No problem.

The problem was that it felt hot. I told my parents but they just chuckled and told me that I would get used to the feeling of wearing it soon. I kept complaining and they kept being amused.

Then one day I showed them the blister on my arm where the watch had burned it. They took it back to the store. It seems that the watchmaker had not put in that teeny tiny drop of lubricant that keeps the gears from creating the friction that eventually caused my burn.

As we got older and began having families of our own we still tended to go to Mom and Dad's for Christmas Day. Mom always told us she was cooking and we were all welcome. Just don't get between her and the television during the football game.

Daddy never understood why any of us moved into our own homes, much less why we would want to spend Christmas Day at home. As my family got older I wanted my children to develop happy memories of our Christmases like the ones I had. So we began to spend Christmas Day at our house. Daddy did not understand.

Now Mom understood about Christmas Day. However she had a strict rule about Christmas Eve. Everyone in the family was required to be there, no matter what.

We had baked goods, candy, cakes, and pies. One year she even decided to make every fruit cake from the recipes she had been collecting for decades. I always took some of the things I had made. There were cold cuts and chips, pickles and relishes, vegetable trays... all easy to eat and no work at the time.

We all sat and talked and laughed. The kids played and told the adults what had been happening in their little lives. Daddy just sat in his chair and reveled in having his family around him. Mom even was able to enjoy herself because all the work was done for a time and she could join in without interruption.

We are a large family. We were not blessed with those soft genteel voices. As we talked the noise level would rise. So we talked louder. The noise level would keep rising and we would keep talking louder. To new members of the family it was disconcerting but they would learn to adjust.

Then came time to open the gifts. We all took our gifts to each other to Christmas Eve. Christmas morning was reserved for Santa Claus.

Daddy played Santa. He did not dress up or anything. He was the person who passed out the gifts. The first gift always went to the youngest member of the family. We would all watch as the gift was opened then ooh and aah at the gift. Then the next in line would receive the next gift and the same oohs and aahs were issued.

After each person in the family had received a gift in the order of their age and the appropriate responses were given, the gifts were not necessarily given in order. But each gift received the same presentation... we watched as it was opened and then appreciated the wonderfulness of it.

As I said we are a large family and there were a lot of gifts. Gift opening took a long, long time. We loved every second.

I miss those huge Christmas Eves. Mom and Daddy are gone. Some of the children are no longer with us. There have been divorces and marriages that have changed who is a present member of the family. Two of my brothers have died. But the spirit of Christmas lives.

I tried to keep the big Christmas Eve celebration going. But people would move too far away so they could not come. Soon it was just my children and grandchildren. There were still enough of us to have a raucous, noisy party.

Now I have moved away. I came back to the part of the country where I was raised and away from the big city that I hated. My children and grandchildren had to stay where their jobs are. My Christmases are quiet now. But I have all those happy memories and they are more than enough.

By the way, for any who doubt, Santa Claus is real. He still leaves presents for me under my tree.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Wanna Cookie?

My mother always baked at Christmas time. As soon as we were old enough all of us kids helped. We had cookies, pies, cakes. And we made candy too. And popcorn. Our house smelled so good from all the smells.

Once I had my own house I continued to make goodies for Christmas. Peanut butter cookies were my husband's favorite. He liked apple pie. When we would go to my parents house we packed a lot of baked things for everyone to enjoy.

I never learned to make "a little bit" because of coming from a large family. It was a good way to share and a good way to not waste the things I had made way too much of.

When I started having my own children I had them help me make the goodies. It was a tradition that I wanted to keep. We had so much fun and made a big mess. I should also tell you that I make a mess when I cook. I do not know how it happens but there it is. I hate the clean-up but it is worth it when all is said and done.

My children did what all children seem to have to do. They grew up. They moved to their own houses. I like my children as well as love them so I missed having them around all the time. And they began having families of their own.

Baking for Christmas is done over a period of time. You just cannot make all those things in one day. I would spend several days baking.

Then I realized that my grandchildren were not making cookies. We could not tolerate that. I invited them to my house to make cookies for the day. Each child would choose a favorite cookie to make. That would be their contribution to our Christmas celebration.

All cookies are made from scratch. There are no mixes or frozen cookies for us. We would spend a fun day making and sampling all the cookies. The children not baking at the moment would play games or watch television. It was so much fun.

My family kept getting larger. Cookie day turned into Cookie weekend. After making cookies for a day, we would go for a drive looking at all the lights and decorations. Then the next day we would make cookies with the children who had not made cookies the day before.

Still we kept growing. Now cousins were coming too. It became difficult to oversee the baking and manage all those children who were not busy. I had to institute a new routine. Girls one weekend and boys another.

The main problem there was that the boys still wanted to come on the girls weekend and the girls wanted to come on the boys weekend. I will never tell any grandchild that they cannot come to Grandma's house so I am not sure I gained anything by having two weekends. But it did allow for baking time to be separated and that was helpful.

I miss cookie day. I moved back to the prairies where I belong. After I retired I realized that it would be much cheaper to live here than in the city. On a fixed income that is a good thing. Unfortunately my children's jobs and families keep them where they were raised. There are no grandchildren here for cookie day.

My youngest son and his daughter continue to make cookies. I am happy that they do because they are both very busy people. I can also see how close they feel when they are working together and that is what it is really about, isn't it?

Friday, December 14, 2018

Remember The Reindeer And The Elves

We all know enough to leave a snack for Santa on Christmas Eve. He works hard all night to deliver gifts to good girls and boys. Cookies and milk are what we always leave out for Santa.

Did you ever consider that the reindeer are working hard too? They are able to eat snow so they need nothing to drink but I have a recipe for Magic Reindeer Food that the children can spread outside before going to bed. It makes the reindeer so happy.


In a small zipper food storage bag or empty shaker container, mix:
1/2 cup uncooked oatmeal
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup red or green sugar crystals (as used for cake decorating)

Package Magic Reindeer food in small food storage bags or holiday gift bags.

Now that you have made the magic reindeer food, the rest is easy. Before the children go to bed and have visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads, let them run outside and sprinkle the magic reindeer food around the yard. Away from the house might be good. Santa's reindeer like a little space.

After gifts have been opened in the morning, everyone can take a look to see if the food was eaten.

Are we done? Nope. We still have to thank the elves who help Santa all year. Let's make some Elf Donuts.

You will need a box of Cheerios, some small tubes of frosting (the more colors the better), sprinkles, and perhaps cinnamon sugar mixture. Perhaps you like chocolate, powdered sugar, peanut butter, or Nutella. Anything you might use to decorate normal sized donuts.

Squeeze a bit of frosting onto a Cheerio. If you wish then you can dip it into a bit of the sprinkles or maybe colored sugar. Or you can leave it plain.

Place the Elf Donuts on a saucer or in plastic sandwich bags. The sandwich bags might make them easier for Santa to take to the North Pole.

Now we have a happy Santa, reindeer, and elves. And these are projects that require little supervision for the children to stay busy on that last day before Christmas.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Christmas Movies

I love watching Christmas movies. There are so many good ones that I insist on watching every year.

I mentioned White Christmas in my last post. It tops the list

There are also all the Christmas cartoons like How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Santa Claus, and Frosty.

Holiday Inn. A song and dance man retires to a farm to relax. He decides to open to tourists for only holidays with Christmas being the final holiday.

The Santa Clause I, II. and III. A divorced father accidentally makes Santa fall from his roofand disappear. He has to take Santa's place. All are good fun.

Mrs.Miracle and Call Me Mrs. Miracle. An oldeer woman helps people through Christmas difficulties.

It's A Wonderful Life. A banker in a small town learns what would have happened if he had never been born.

Call Me Claus. A woman who no longer believes in Santa or Christmas is scheduled to be the next Santa.

Fred Claus. Santa's older brother hates everything about Christmas. When he gets into trouble and Santa is injured he has to help out.

Christmas With The Kranks. Their daughter is away working for the peace corps so they decide to not celebrate Christmas and take an exotic trip instead. When they find their daughter is coming home for Christmas they have to scramble to make a nice Chistmas. Neighbors they angered join in to help.

Deck The Halls. A man has a tight scedule for making Christmas he wants. A new family moves in across the street creating chaos and ruining his schedule.

It's Christmas, Carol. A take-off on A Christmas Carol. A young business woman is shown what life would be if she does not change her ways.

Elf. An orphan baby manages to get into Santa's bag and is raised at the North Pole. When he finds out that he is an adopted elf he sets off to find his father.

I watch many more movies at Christmas but this is my must not miss list.

Friday, December 7, 2018

At The Movies

I love movies. I have favorites that I can watch over and over and over again. My children do not really understand how I can see the same movie so many times and still enjoy it. I put it down to the fact that I must have a child-like mind.

I like either funny movies or musicals the most. Most of the time when I watch a movie I simply want to be entertained. I am not searching for a deeper meaning to life or the secret to anything. Mindless joy is perhaps a good way to put it. There are a few dramas that I like. Fewer still westerns. I prefer the old cowboy programs from television. I very seldom watch war movies or action thrillers... too much violence for me. Old scary movies are fun but the newer movies are too much blood and gore. I do not watch icky movies.

I will share a few of my favorites with you.

Grease. This is a fun movie. It deals with teenage angst. The music is great. The time it is set in is so familiar to me.

The Sound Of Music. Outstanding music. Beautiful scenes of the Austrian countryside. Even though the movie is not factual it is based on a true family which makes it more enjoyable.

Jungle Book. I love children's cartoon musicals. Jungle Book is my favorite of all of them. The songs are fun, the characters are memorable, and it has a good story. The newer version with human actors surprised me by being just as good.

Star Wars. All eight movies and I am anxiously awaiting the ninth. Star Wars are like cowboy movies with the shoot-em ups and the clear definition between bad guys and good guys. The science fiction of the future releases all limits to the types of worlds and characters available. I did not want to go see a science fiction movie but my mother gave me tickets for myself and my children for Christmas and forced me to go. Thanks, Mom.

Indiana Jones. While I am at it these are adventure stories that are well written. They deal with historical politics and religious theories without being offensive. Not easy to do. And they are full of humor that most adventure movies do not have.

Jackie Chan movies. Jackie Chan is a martial arts expert. His movies are written to highlight his prowess. But the humor makes the violence bearable.

Phenomenon. On his birthday a man sees a flash of light in the sky and is knocked down by some force. After that he gains amazing abilities to learn and experiment. He no longer sleeps. The government wants to know why and tries to experiment on him. I like this movie because the star, John Travolta, underplays the character making him just an ordinary person which makes him so much more than that. He does not understand why he was chosen to have these abilities because he was not of more than average intelligence before.

Pirates Of The Caribbean. Old fashioned pirates and their adventures. There are plenty of exciting situations. The humor is laced all the way throughout. When I watched the first of the series of movies I kept saying, "I know that guy!" about Jack Sparrow. The way he moved and the way he talked was somebody I recognized but could not figure out who it was. Later I read that Johnny Depp interpreted the character's personality as being like Kieth Richards of the Rolling Stones. "That's it." It was clear to me.

The Egg And I. When they marry a man decides to surprise his wife with a farm. He has always wanted to be a farmer. Neither of them knows anything about farming. Their mishaps and misunderstandings make for great fun. It is the first movie that Ma and Pa Kettle appear in.

Arsenic And Old Lace. Cary Grant is a comedy genius. In this movie he comes from a strange family. One brother is in prison for cruel murders, an uncle thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt and charges San Juan Hill every time he goes up the stairs. Then there are the lovable old aunts who lovingly raised him. Turns out they are putting lonely old men out of their misery.

First Wives Club. Three women who attended college together become re-acquainted at the funeral of their fourth friend who committed suicide when her wealthy husband left her for a younger woman. They discover that each of them is in similar circumstances. While extracting revenge they realize that they have the opportunity to turn something bad into something worthwhile.

Beaches. Two little girls meet on the beach in Atlantic City. They continue a long distance friendship through letters. When they are grown the poor little rich girl runs from home to stay with her aspiring actress friend. They see each other through trials, tribulations, and even have a serious estrangement for a time. This is a good movie to watch to release all those things that you need to cry about.

Pollyanna. A little girl who is recently orphaned moves in with her wealthy aunt. The aunt is cold and seems to be totally devoid of feeling. She rules the whole town with her iron fist. Little Pollyanna in her innocence goes about melting the coldest of hearts. One of many movies starring Hayley Mills who I adore.

Auntie Mame. Rosalind Russell was at her eccentric best playing Mame. Her young nephew is sent to live with her because she is his only living relative. She falls in love and vows to educate him in every way possible. Her "Bohemian" ways do not always sit well with the staid banker in charge of the estate of the boy. Then there is the running story of Agnes Gooch (played by Peggy Cass) running through the whole movie. All the strange characters that have been "adopted" by Auntie Mame add to the chaos of a little boy's life in which he feels very loved by all of them as he grows to be a man.

West Side Story. An adaptation of Romeo and Juliet set in New York City in the 1950's or very early 60's. The Jets were the gang of white boys who disliked the Puerto Rican gang of the Sharks. Each gang wanted to rule the streets. As expected violence erupts and deaths occur. Natalie Wood plays Maria (Juliet) and Tony (Romeo) is played by Richard Beymer. My favorite song of many favorites from the movie is "Dear Officer Krupke".

The Parent Trap. Hayley Mills plays two young girls who meet at summer camp. Everyone comments on how much they look like each other but they take an instant dislike to one another. Of course they are forced to spend time alone together and they come to the realization that they are twin sisters. They immediately set about plotting to re-unite their divorced parents. Lindsay Lohan also made a slightly more modern version with the same name of the movie and it is also excellent.

Alice. Because I love so many children's feature length cartoons I am not listing most of them. It just goes unsaid. Naturally I was excited when Johnny Depp starred as the Mad Hatter in a new version of Alice In Wonderland. As a confused young woman Alice falls again chasing the White Rabbit and finds herself in Underland. she is the only champion who can save Underland from the evil Red Queen and her Jabberwock. Alice Through The Looking Glass is a continuation of Alice.

Batman. I am referring to the trilogy starring Christian Bale. I felt they explained the origins and mindset of Batman better than any of the others. I also felt that it was more than possible that his gadgets might work. As a side note the company I worked for made shocks that made Batman's cape look like it could really stiffen and soar.

Darby O'Gill And The Little People. A cute little movie that at least mentions most of the strange creatures that are commonly referred to as Irish. Darby has captured a leprechaun and no one believes him. Darby is a good-hearted man but some think he stretches the truth a wee bit. In the end the Leprechaun helps Darby spare the life of his beloved daughter from the Banshee. Sean Connery (James Bond himself) sang a song ("Pretty Irish Girl") that I sing to all my little girls.

The Wizard Of Oz. Dorothy is being raised by her aunt and uncle in Kansas. She gets caught up in a tornado and she and her dog Toto plump down in Oz, a magically colorful land with a lot of weird happenings. Yet all she wants to do is go home to Kansas.

Miss Congeniality. Both I and II. An FBI agent is a reluctant entrant in the Miss United States contest to investigate a bomb threat. She has never been particularly feminine so it takes a major make-over to make her presentable and try to keep her that way. Some false leads and humorous situations later she gets her bomber. In the sequel she has become too famous to work in the field so she becomes "The Face Of The FBI". But the winner of the Miss United States contest is kidnapped and she partners with an antagonistic FBI partner to try to rescue her.

The Blind Side. The true story of a southern family who adopt a homeless young man who goes on to become a football player for the NFL. It is a very moving story.

Seven Brides For Seven Brothers. Taken from the ancient Roman legend of the Rape Of The Sabine Women. The oldest of seven brothers goes to town to get a wife to take care of household duties for himself and his brothers. When he finds a willing woman and brings her home the brothers decide to go to town and kidnap brides for themselves. A lot of singing and dancing are in order while the girls wait to be rescued.

Hamlet. Starring Mel Gibson. Who knew he could do that? The classic Shakespeare Hamlet and it is wonderful.

Singin' In The Rain.This musical attempts to show us what it was like when silent movies became talkies. The story itself is a little lame but the actors bring their characters to life in such a way that you forget it's a silly story. Some great musical numbers that are classics.

Mermaids. A fluffy little movie about a confused teenager who has to deal with her mother who moves a lot to shelter herself from infidelities. In the process she has a fling of her own and almost causes her little sister's death.

Mamma Mia. This movie is an excuse to listen ABBA's music. A 20 year old woman being raised by her single mother is planning her wedding. She comes across her mother's old diary and discovers that she may be the the daughter of one of three men. She invites them all to the wedding thinking that she will know which one is her father. But she does not tell her mother they are coming. The sequel is a little busy but it is good too.

Rio Bravo. Dean Martin, John Wayne, and RICKY NELSON all in one movie. Oh yes Angie Dickenson was there too. It is a western with all that westerns have. One of my favorite songs is from this movie. My Rifle, My Pony, and Me

McClintock. John Wayne plays the owner of the biggest ranch in the area. His daughter is coming home from school "back East". His estranged wife comes too because she wants the daughter to live with her. It is the movie where John Wayne utters his quote "But I won't, I won't The hell I won't" before he slugs a man who falls into the muddy sluice.

Fort Apache and She Wore A Yellow Ribbon. Two more John Wayne Movies. In the first Henry Fonda is the star playing a rigid commanding officer type who cannot allow himself to bend at all. His daughter is played by Shirley Temple all grown up who falls in love with the son of a lowly Sergeant. In the second movie John Wayne's character is ready to retire when the Indians stage an uprisiing.

Mr Roberts. Here is Henry Fonda again. He plays the Morale Officer of a supply ship toward the end of World War II. He longs to be on a battleship where he feels he will be more of a contributor to the war effort. In the meantime the dictatorial captain of the ship seems to have no feelings for anything except discipline and a palm tree he is growing on deck. The sequel Ensign Pulver deserves honorable mention.

White Christmas. Two war buddies follow two sisters they have taken a liking to up to a New England hotel for Christmas vacation. They are surprised to find no snow and their former commanding officer running the place. They decide to help him out. Romance and misunderstandings are mixed in with the musical numbers.

Some Like It Hot. Musicians witness a massacre at a meeting of mobsters. They manage to escape but the mob is hunting them. They go into hiding by masquerading as female musicians in an all-girl band.

Father Of The Bride. I like the original starring Spencer Tracy. The remake is just not as good. Spencer Tracy plays the father of the beautiful Elizabeth Taylor who is being married. He does not want to lose his little girl to anyone. Then he gets lost in all the chaos of planning the wedding. In the sequel appropriately called Father's Little Dividend the young couple make him a grandfather.

Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. Written by Tennessee Williams it is the story of a most dysfunctional southern family. The failed football hero is married to Maggie "the Cat" who is a beautiful but unfulfilled wife. The domineering father is dying and family members are combating to see who will inherit his estate. This is a powerful movie.

Gypsy. Based on the life story of Stripper Gypsy Rose Lee. Her mother is a pushy stage mother trying to live through her daughter June who has some talent. But June runs off to get married and she is left with other daughter Louise who has less talent and less interest in becoming a "star". As a last resort to make money Louise agrees to do a strip act and becomes Gypsy Rose Lee.

How The West Was Won. An epic tale of a family beginning with the homesteading days through the Civil War and on until everyone has sort of settled down. Just the list of famous movie stars who appear is enough to make you want to watch but it is a compelling story too.

The Silence Of The Lambs. I read this book when it first came out. It is one of my favorites because there is not a wasted word in the whole book. I knew they could not do justice to the story if they made a movie of it but they proved me wrong. The movie follows the book perfectly. A young FBI agent is sent to interview a notorious killer about solving a string of murders to see if he has insight into who they might look for.

Willy Wonka and Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. Both are based on the same story. Willy Wonka is a musical made to draw in a children's audience. There are weird spots but most are merely humorous. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is darker but I think children still like it. The owner of a candy factory that has been closed to the public decides to issue 5 tickets to choose a person to take over when he can no longer run the factory.

Born Yesterday. There are two versions and they are almost identical. A young woman endures all sorts of indignities from her boyfriend who has illegally become wealthy. He is exerting pressure on his politicians to make sure that his wealth could expand. While they are in Washington DC the boyfriend hires a newspaperman to educate her enough that she would not embarrass him at meetings. Guess what happens then.

No Time For Sergeants. A naive backwoods boy is drafted into the army. He has been so isolated that he does not realize that he is being belittled. He takes all his punishments as chores he must do to the best of his ability. My mother loved the scene where the toilet seats are rigged to salute when the general inspects.

The Music Man. A con man rolls into River City to sell musical instruments, uniforms, and instruction to the boys of the town. There is a lot of great music. And a love story. And the ending of the movie where the drab looking uniforms and a few children trying to play their instruments turns into a huge marching band with 76 trombones and so forth.

Guarding Tess. A former first lady of the Untied States is guarded by a loyal contingent of Secret Servicemen. The leader of the group had also been one of the president's security team when the president died in office. She is a demanding person who consistently irritates everyone. Then she is kidnapped and the whole nation is searching for her.

Nanny McPhee And Nanny McPhee Returns. Nanny McPhee appears as an ugly woman to people who need help with unruly children. She simply appears at the door and tells them she is there to teach five lessons (different in each movie). As each lesson is accomplished she loses an ugly part until she becomes a lovely young woman when the lessons are complete. In the meantime a lot of magical things happen.

The Mating Game.A big rambunctious rural family lives a carefree life. Their neighbor is a wealthy man who wants more, more, more. Because the rambunctious family lives for today the wealthy neighbor decodes to call the IRS to have their taxes audited. The representative who arrives is attracted to the oldest daughter  and away we go with hilarity.

The Quiet Man. A man returns to Ireland where he was born. His mother had taken him to the United States after his father was sent to a penal colony. When his mother died he decided to go back to where he came from. He falls instantly in love with a beautiful woman from the village whose brother does not want her to marry him. It is a small glimpse of the old Irish way of life.

The Philadelphia Story. This is not the story starring Tom Hanks about AIDS. That is an extremely good movie too. This Philadelphia story is a comedy. A young woman is getting married but her first husband shows up. Sparks fly and laughs are plentiful.

It Happened One Night. An heiress runs away from home. There is a national manhunt for her and a huge reward is offered. A newspaperman stumbles upon her and decides to not only collect the reward but get an exclusive story while he's at it. He doesn't count on falling in love with her.

It Could Happen To You. A policeman is good, and honest, and true. He and his partner stop at a diner for lunch when they get an emergency call and have to leave quickly. As he goes to pay for the lunch he discovers that he has no money for a tip. He tells the waitress that he has a lottery ticket and he will give her the choice; either she can split the lottery ticket with him or he will return the next day with the tip. She chooses the ticket feeling that she will never see him again either way. The ticket is worth millions and the waitress is shocked when he returns to tell her she is also a millionaire as is his wife. His wife becomes more and more greedy. He and the waitress set out having fun by doing good deeds. The marriage falls apart and the cop and the waitress are in love. The ending is one of justice.

Peggy Sue Got Married. Peggy Sue of the famous Buddy Holly song has not only gotten married but she is now divorced. At a high school reunion she loses consciousness and travels back to her high school days. This is where she tries to change her life so the bad things will not happen.

Cheaper by the Dozen. Written by two of the 12 children of the Gilbreth family. The parents were efficiency experts who taught and lectured about the most efficient ways to do almost everything. They decided to have 12 children because most things were cheaper if you purchased a dozen. The father is a strict disciplinarian but his children know how much he loves them. There are a lot of funny moments in this cumbersome family.

Calamity Jane. Calamity Jane is a heroine of the old west. She was a real person who rode and performed with the Wild Bill Hickok Wild West Show. In this movie Calamity Jane is a wild woman who is considered more male than female. Until a lovely dancehall singer arrives and all the men in town drool after her, including Sheriff Wild Bill. Calmity realizes that she loves him. This is the movie that featured the song "Secret Love."

Pillow Talk. Doris Day and Rock Hudson at their best. Doris Day is an uptight interior decorator. Rock Hudson is a freewheeling musician/playboy. The problem is that they share a party line. You will have to watch the movie to find out the rest. Any movie with these two is worth seeing.

Cat Ballou. After going to finishing school "back east" a young woman travels home to her father and his ranch. There she finds that a big mining company wants the ranch and will stop at nothing to get it. She hires a famous gunman but he turns out to be a hopeless drunk. Her father is killed and she and her gang work to gain revenge. Lee Marvin won an academy award for this one.

Fargo. I have not seen the full length movie...yet. I have been watching a mini-series on television. It is the creepiest thing I have ever seen. A lot of murder and mayhem are in order. Just remember it's creepy.

This has turned into something very long.  I apologize. You would not believe how many movies I deleted and how many did not quite make the list. There were a lot. But I highly recommend each of these if you want a good movie.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Shall We Play A Game?

I have mentioned many times that my family had little money when I was a child. We never went hungry but often we did not have money for some of the "extras" that a lot of people take for granted. New clothes were extremely rare. And most of them were made by my mother. Extras like movies or concerts were rare. Usually if we were able to go it was because we had earned the money ourselves.

I am not complaining though. There was a lot of love and laughter in our family. We enjoyed each other. We knew how to entertain ourselves.

Alone time was often spent reading or working puzzles of some sort. Puzzle magazines could be found in every room of the house.

Often we watched television together in the evening. If someone felt like making popcorn and fudge it made a happening.

We played a lot of games. Besides being fun it kept our minds sharp. My parents did not "let" us win. If we came out ahead we knew we deserved it.

At Christmas we got board games as gifts. We saved them even after the boards were worn and the pieces were missing. We used pieces of paper instead of game pieces. If the dice were missing we wrote numbers on pieces of paper and drew them randomly out of a bowl.

Almost any board game there was we owned. Monopoly, Scrabble, Parcheesi, Chinese Checkers, Checkers, and Chess are a few that I can think of.

Lay Four Out was the first card game I played. It is an easy game for small children. Each player is dealt four cards and then four cards are placed face up in the center of the table. Each player in turn tries to match one of the cards in the center. With a match the pair is placed in that player's pile of cards. When the deck has been depleted the player with the most pairs wins.

We moved on up to games like Old Maid and Concentration. Eventually we learned to play pitch (or whist), Uno, Pinochle, various poker games for matchsticks, Hearts, Spades, Rummy, and Canasta were favorites.

Of course there are many different kinds of solitaire games. They are fun card games to use when no one else wants to play. I have about a dozen that I play regularly. Some are very easy and some are next to impossible to win.

Games using paper and pencil are wonderful if you have little money. Categories is a game where one person chooses five letters of the alphabet. Another has already chosen five categories. The players try to list one thing that applies to a category that begins with each letter. For instance under the category fruits using the letter K you might list Kiwi. Our categories could get quite outrageous.

Making as many words as you can out of a larger word is fun. Tic, Tac, Toh is fun too but so hard to get a winner if you have been playing since you were very small. Connect the dots or as we called it penning the pig takes some time. You have to make the dots by putting rows of dots acroos and an equal number of rows rows of dots going down. Each person takes a turn and connects two dots with a line either across or up and down. Once a box is completely formed the person's initial is written inside. When all the boxes are formed the player with the most initials in boxes is the winner.

Mom found a fun game in a magazine.Each player would make two grids of ten boxes across and ten boxes down making one hundred boxes in all. Across the top each row would be labeled from one through ten. Down the lines each box was labeled A through J.

Into one grid the player would place two destroyers composed of three connecting boxes, one cruiser made of four consecutive boxes, and one battleship of five consecutive boxes. The other grid was left blank until the game began.

The first player would take three guesses of for instance A1, H4, and G7. The first player would place an X in the corresponding box of his blank grid. The other player placed an X on the grid with the ships. The player then had to tell the first player if he had hit any of the ships and which ships they were. If a ship was hit on all its boxes it was sunk and the other player was informed. The winner was the player who sank all of the other player's ships.

Most people have now heard of this game. It is popular and goes by the name of Battleship.

I  like word games a lot. The only things you need are a brain, a mouth, and someone else to play.

They are usually simple games used to fill time. Most people know the game of someone saying a word and the next person has to say a new word using the last letter of the previous word as the beginning letter of their word.

We might take one word and see how many synonyms or antonyms of that word we could find. Word games are only limited by the limits of your imagination.

So besides having fun and and enjoying the company of loved one we learned some valuable lessons. You do not need a lot of money to have fun. You can learn just by playing a game.

The most important lesson is sportsmanship. We all played to win. That is the object of a game. If we won we learned to do so gracefully. If we lost we did that gracefully too. That was a good life lesson.