Thursday, December 8, 2016

To Begin Again: A Review

Note:  A slightly different version of this review appeared on Goodreads in December 2016.


"At the Window" -  A woman gets punched in the face by a random stranger.
"Like Smoke" -  A clerk at an airport store. 
"Soft Like Snow" -  A mother and daughter.
"Angelique" -  Two men and a female bartender.
"Rationing Sweets"  -  A father and daughter, and her boyfriend.
"Absurd Hunger"  -  A father and son.
"The Millers"  -  A mother and daughter, and the neighbors. 
"The Probability of Him"  -  Sisters and the new boy.
"Cheers"  -  A couple relocates to Texas.
"Negligence"  -  A kids' beauty pageant.
"Levity"  -  A woman dealing with memory loss.
"Always a Story"  -  A woman and her grandfather and mother.
"Composure"  -  An aunt and niece, and the neighbors.
"Asleep"  -  A mother and adult daughter, and two men.
"D20-XC8"  -  A flash fiction that seems to me like sci-fi.
"Untied"  -  A married couple and their daughter, and a mysterious woman.
"A Little Taste of Heaven"  -  A waitress and her boyfriend.
"A Poor Mentality"  -  Female roommates.
"Solitary Value"  -  A woman in a retirement home.
"Jim"  -  An affair.
"To the Curb"  -  A couple and a homeless man.
"Dandelion Ghosts"  -  Sisters and their father.
"Disengaged"  -  An old woman.

Twenty-three stories, no table of contents.  As in her 2015 collection, After the Gazebo, a lot of her stories are about familial relationships.  There's one sci-fi flash fiction, as there is in the other collection.  "Disengaged" is in both collections.

She's a high-floor writer, so she doesn't write bad stories.  But as I alluded to above, her subject matter includes family stuff, old age, and children.  All three of these are topics I usually avoid in my reading.    

"Like Smoke"
"Rationing Sweets"
"The Millers"

Without you, life is just a bunch of days going by, a bunch of things to do.
-  "Absurd Hunger"

Rating:  Low 4 / 5  


Monday, December 5, 2016

An Elliptical Gifting Guide

1.  For somebody with a short name:  the acrostic gift package.
Example:  for Beth, you might give her a book, ether, tea, and a hula hoop.

2.  For somebody who's significantly wealthier than you:  a donation to a worthy non-profit in his or her name.

3.  For somebody who likes variety:  the five senses package: a small gift each for sight, touch, taste, hear, and smell.

4.  For somebody who likes variety but doesn't answer your drunken 3 AM phone calls:  the mind, body, and soul package.  (three items instead of five)

5.  For a single, sexy female:  a subscription to The View from the Third Floor.

6.  If you're an artist:  art.

7.  If you're a drug dealer:  drugs.

Disclaimer:  Elliptical Man does not participate in holiday shenanigans, but advises.         

Friday, December 2, 2016

Film Friday

Tex's Film Challenge

1.  Adolescence:  Rocket Science
2.  Rebirth:  Laura
3.  Comic Book Character:  The Amazing Spider-Man  
4.  Set in Washington, D.C.:  Zero Dark Thirty
5.  Set in an Academic Environment:  The Rules of Attraction
6.  Failure:  Nine
7.  Man vs. God:  Clash of the Titans
8.  Man vs. Himself:  Inside Llewyn Davis
9.  Invention or Ingenius Individual:  Imitation Game
10.  Prison:  Ex Machina
11.  Dog:  Saint Laurent
12.  Loss:  Elegy
13.  Man vs. Man:  McCabe and Mrs. Miller
14.  Man vs. Nature:  Jeremiah Johnson
15.  Monster:  Dune
16.  Pennsylvania:  Silver Lining Playbook
17.  Quest:  Alphaville
18.  Rags to Riches:  A Most Violent Year
19.  Man vs. Society:  Howl
20.  Made in the 1930's:  The Blue Angel
21.  Undesirable Elements:  Silkwood
22.  A Voyage and Return:  Knife in the Water
23.  Witchcraft:  The Loves of Hercules
24.  Made in the 1960's:  The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner
25.  A Yearning or Obsession:  Fifty Shades of Grey

Completed:  10:40 PM, November 30. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

After the Gazebo - A Review

Note:  A slightly different version of this review first appeared on Goodreads in November 2016.


"After the Gazebo" -  A marrying couple.  
"The White Room" - Sci-fi?
"Do Not Pass" - Antiquing in Ohio.
"The Suit" - A chance encounter on a bus.
"The Snowstorm" - A snowstorm.
"Movie Night" - A storm.
"Scratching the Silver" - A man's return home.
"Synchronicity" - House robbers.  
"Types of Circus" - An odd romance.
"The Regular" - An older man's daily routine.
"The Driver" - At the DMV.
"A Whole Toy" - At a fast-food restaurant.
"Afterthought" - A woman after her husband has died. 
"No Worries" - Office life.
"All He Had to Give" - A woman, a turtle, and men.
"Lying to Old Men" - A woman talking to a doctor.
"Static Time" - A surprise for mom.
"Getting There" - Mother and daughter.
"On Paper Plates" - Sister and brother.
"Two Flew Away" - A boy and his older brother.
"Animal Control" - Two partners in animal control.
"Disengaged" - An older woman.
"A Glimpse" - A woman on her 35th birthday.
"My Children in Times New Roman" - Pregnancy test.

Favorites:  "After the Gazebo", "Synchronicity", "Afterthought", "No Worries"

There's a lot of content related to familial relationships.  She's comfortable writing about different age groups, including the AARP demo.  She doesn't shy away from flawed characters or flawed lives.

Anyway, I rated it 4 / 5 stars, which is pretty good coming from me.  This is the stand-out line, though:

...  I dance for perverts because having a pervert tell me I'm hot makes me feel wanted.
-  "Lying to Old Men"


Friday, November 25, 2016

Film Friday

Saint Laurent:  Biopic of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, mostly focused on 1967 to 1976.  A lot of drugs and gay lust.  It certainly didn't ignore the fashion industry, but it didn't really explain why he was so important either.  Gaspard Ulliel, Jeremie Renier, Louis Garrel.

The Blue Angel:  A professor falls for a cabaret performer in Weimar Germany.  Sad film.  Emil Jannings, Marlene Dietrich, Kurt Gerron.  Directed by Josef von Sternberg.  From a novel by Heinrich Mann.

Rocket Science:  A stuttering high school freshman is recruited for the debate team by its female star.  A quirky film.  Some funny moments, but just okay over-all.  Anna Kendrick, Reece Thompson, Vincent Piazza.   

Jeremiah JohnsonA man decides to be a mountain man in the 19th-century U.S. Rockies.  It's an interesting film.  There's JJ's struggle with the wild but there's also his interactions with various people he encounters.  A couple plot points seemed loose to me.  There's a montage that came off as corny.  But over-all, it was worth watching.  Robert Redford, Will Geer, Delle Bolton.  Directed by Sydney Pollack.   From a novel by Vardis Fisher and a story by Raymond Thorp.      

Thursday, November 24, 2016


Thankful for food, shelter, clothes, and health.

Thankful to be living in the U.S.

Thankful for books, movies, and music.

Thankful for coffee.

Thankful for Britt.