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~Sunday~ Next in the series of La Streisand movies was Yentl, which I've seen before, but it's been years.

The synopsis

Rebbe Mendel is a single father who teaches the Talmud, a sacred text of Judaism, to the boys of his small Polish town. Behind closed doors, he also instructs his daughter, Yentl, despite the fact that girls are forbidden to study religious scripture. When Yentl's father dies, she still has a strong desire to learn about her faith, so she disguises herself as a male, enrolls in a religious school, and unexpectedly finds love along the way.

The trailer

My thoughts and observations

  • This is your classic boy-who's-really-a-boy meets boy-who's-really-a-girl, boy-who's-really-a-boy is in love with girl-who's-really-a-girl, boy-who's-really-a-girl falls in love with boy-who's-really-a-boy, and boy-who's-really-a-girl marries girl-who's-really-a-girl love story, where eventually [spoiler alert] boy-who's-really-a-boy gets the girl-who's-really a girl.

  • This was a study in gender norms way before its time. Pretty good stuff for 1983.

  • I absolutely love the soundtrack from this movie.

  • That face. That face. Mandy Patinkin is just beautiful in this movie.

  • Themes touched on in this movie included:

    • Friendship

    • Father/daughter relationships

    • Gender roles, stereotypes, and expectations

    • Religious traditions

    • Shamefulness of suicide

    • Following your dreams, and at what cost

  • I gave this movie two thumbs up.

Have you seen this movie? If so, what did you think of it?


Mildred Pierce (1945)...

~Saturday~  After having recently watched the HBO miniseries of Mildred Pierce, and since Bob owned a copy of it and offered to watch it with me, we watched the 1945 movie version of it.

The synopsis

After her cheating husband leaves her, Mildred Pierce proves she can become independent and successful, but cannot seem to win the approval of her spoiled daughter.

The trailer

My thoughts and observations

  • It was very interesting noting the differences between the movie and the miniseries, the most obvious being that a murder takes place at the very beginning of the movie, which doesn't happen in the miniseries.

  • After seeing both versions, it makes me want to read the book by James Cain to see what parts were culled from each, or what parts weren't in the book at all, perhaps.

  • This is definitely the youngest I've ever seen Joan Crawford in anything, and she looked pretty good.

  • Themes touched on in this movie were pretty much the same as those in the HBO miniseries, with perhaps, "murder" and "taking the fall," added.

  • The biggest takeaway from this movie for me was the shoulder pads. Can you say linebacker shoulders?






  • I gave this movie two thumbs up.

Have you seen this movie? If so, what did you think of it?


Mildred Pierce (HBO miniseries)...

~Saturday~  Compliments of Amazon Prime, I watched the HBO mini-series version of Mildred Pierce.

The synopsis

Mildred Pierce is the epic story of a proud single mother struggling to earn her daughter’s love during the Great Depression in middle-class Los Angeles.

The trailer

My thoughts and observations

  • I really enjoyed this "epic" film.

  • I didn't realize the star was Kate Winslet until part two of the (five-part) series.

  • I didn't know that Joan Crawford starred in the 1945 movie version of this novel until after I had thought, "That actress playing Mildred looks a little like Joan Crawford, in her early years."

  • I both loved and loathed the character of Veda. I loved the way she talked, all grown-up and uppity; I loathed what a brat she was.

  • I really didn't care for Evan Rachel Wood's portrayal of the older Veda, even though I wanted to, since she's from Raleigh and from a fairly prominent acting family here.
  • There was a serious lack of hot men in this film. I was not at all attracted to Guy Pearce, who played Monte Beragon and was supposed to be a "heartthrob."

  • Themes touched on in this movie included:

    • Mother-daughter relationships

    • Pride

    • Prejudice

    • Betrayal

    • Money

    • Greed

    • "Society people" and appearances

    • Independence of women

    • Drive and determination

    • Social class differences

  • I gave this movie two thumbs up.

Have you seen this movie? If so, what did you think of it?

The Main Event...

~Saturday~  Bob and I watched the next movie, The Main Event, in the list of Barbra Streisand movies, which we're working our way through in chronological order.

The synopsis

Hillary Kramer (Streisand), a successful perfume magnate awakes one morning to find that her accountant has robbed her blind and left for South America. Going through all of her remaining assets she finds a boxer, purchased as a tax write off. She decides to take Eddie "Kid Natural" Scanlon (Ryan O'Neal) who is much more at home giving driving lessons, into the ring and use him as her key to riches.

The trailer

My thoughts and observations

  • This film was entertaining enough. <Shallow alert.>Ryan O'Neal with his shirt off a lot definitely made it more interesting that it might otherwise have been.</Shallow alert.>

  • I thought that, at times, the humor rose almost to screwball comedy level, which is not my favorite genre.

  • The chemistry between Ryan and Barbra didn't reach the level I wanted it to.

  • Themes touched on in this movie included:

    • Traditional male and female roles

    • Power dynamics in relationships

    • Social class differences

    • Careers and love

    • Underdogs and "comeback kids"

  • I gave this movie one thumb up. I guess I prefer the Barbra movies in which she sings, and although I do love the title song, it only plays at the end when the credits are rolling. Here it is for your listening pleasure.

Have you seen this movie? If so, what did you think of it?


A Star is Born...

~Saturday~  Bob and I watched the next movie, A Star is Born, in the list of Barbra Streisand movies, which we're working our way through in chronological order.

The synopsis

Esther Hoffman, an aspiring singer/songwriter, meets John Norman Howard, a famous, successful and self-destructive singer/songwriter, whom, after a series of coincidental meetings, she finally starts dating. Believing in her talent, John gives her a helping hand and her career begins to eclipse his.

The trailer

My thoughts and observations

  • I have seen this movie before, and again this time, I thought, "It's quite good, but not great."

  • Themes touched on in this movie included:

    • What constitutes both love and success

    • Non-traditional male and female roles in relationships

    • Adultery

    • Self-destruction—in both professional and personal lives

    • Life on the road as a celebrity

    • Substance abuse

    • Thrill-seeking

    • Depression and suicide

  • If I were watching it alone, I would have fast-forwarded through the songs that Kris Kristofferson sang. The second time he sings Watch Closely Now is one time too many.

  • Speaking of Kris, he's adorable in the face—complete with beautiful eyes and the salt and pepper beard—but the rest of his body does nothing for me. He needs a goody trail, at the very least.

  • I agree with Bob, who says about the song Esther Hoffman Howard (Barbra's character) sings at the end of the film, "She goes through every emotion there is during that song."

  • I gave this movie one-and-a-half thumbs up, mostly for the music—Barbra's music.

Have you seen this movie? If so, what did you think of it?


Funny Lady...

~Saturday~  Bob and I watched the next movie, Funny Lady, in the list of Barbra Streisand movies, which we're working our way through in chronological order.

The synopsis

A sequel to the 1968 film Funny Girl, it is a highly fictionalized account of the later life and career of comedienne Fanny Brice and her marriage to songwriter and impresario Billy Rose.

The trailer

My thoughts and observations

  • I have seen this movie before and didn't really like it. The best I can say this time around is that it was free to watch (Bob owns it), and it wasn't as bad as I remember it being. However, I'm still not a fan.

  • Themes touched on in this movie included:

  • Although I am a huge fan of Barbra, I have to agree with most of the points made in this scathing review of the film by Roger Ebert.

  • I gave this movie half-a-thumb up.

Have you seen this movie? If so, what did you think of it?


Something old (becomes) something new...

~Saturday~  You may remember (or not) this picture from day 6 of our Michigan vacation:

BooBoo and Binky

As I noted in that entry, Bob's sister, Mary, has been slowly going through her mother Ruth's stuff (she passed away 5 years ago) and decided that she was ready to let go of some things.

One of the things she had for Bob was that purse you can see on his lap. Bob was touched and appreciated some of the contents of the purse, including some pictures that were inside it, but in the end, the purse didn't really go with his shoes.

What to do with it?

Enter Amy of The Wayward Stitch! In addition to being a talented crafts professional, she is Bob's friend and neighbor, and he asked her if she'd be able to do something with it, to repurpose (re-purse-pose?) it for Mary.

Amy immediately got excited about it, and she asked Bob to tell her a little bit about Mary for some ideas on how to personalize the transition of the purse into something Mary would like and use.

I mentioned that since Mary was such an avid line-dancer, maybe something smaller that she could take to dancing would be cool, and maybe with a fringe on it, as I've seen some like that at line-dancing gatherings in the past.

Well, Amy did a super job, and we were so excited to see the results of her work. Unfortunately, we didn't get a good picture of the "before" version of the purse, so I cut it out of the picture alluded to above.

Before and after

Bob mailed the beautifully converted purse back to Mary this week, and she sent us a picture of it sitting on their mother Ruth's dresser that she has in her room.

Mary's new purse from Ruth's old purse

Mary's reaction (as stolen from a Facebook posting of hers):

Mamma's purse. Of all my mother's momentoes, her daily purse brought me my biggest challenge—memories and love collided. She's been gone 5 years. Her purse was always full of kleenex, cough drops, safety pins, measuring tape, several pairs of glasses, you get the idea. It was tan and ugly.

"Here, hold my purse," she would say. It was not my style and I was always embarrassed... Well, finally a clear time presented itself. I took a picture and passed it along to my brother Bobby, who had it made into a smaller, much more hip purse.

When I opened the surprise, I could hear her voice, "Here, hold my purse."

Enjoy, Mary! And thank you, Amy!

Michigan vacation—Day 11

~Monday~  I woke up at 11:50, after only having been asleep a couple of hours, and I couldn't fall back asleep.

After about 10 minutes, I whispered to Bob, "Are you awake?"

"Yes," he whispered back.

"Do you want to just get up and go?” I asked.

"Yes," he said.

We had pretty much packed up before going to bed, so after getting just a few last things together, we woke up Frances and Vincent and whisked them out to the car.

Although there was little-to-no traffic on the road, it was a little treacherous driving the first couple of hours due to heavy fog on small roads (MI 127-S). Once we got to I-75, though, it cleared up, and it was much better going.

We stopped for "breakfast" on the Ohio Turnpike at around 3:30 a.m. It was one of the Service Centers on the turnpike, so we didn't have to exit, pay, and re-enter the turnpike. There was a Hardee's there, where we each had a sausage and egg biscuit and shared a cup of coffee.

Of course it was still dark out, and when we got on the acceleration ramp to merge back onto the turnpike, there was a huge deer that started to cross the road, and I thought, "Dear god, please don't run into our car."

It hesitated long enough for us to pass it, and I let out a huge sigh of relief.

Four more hours down the road, we stopped in Cambridge, OH at around 7:30 a.m., and we deemed it lunch time. Here I am greeting the sun with Vincent and Frances at that stop.

John, Vincent, and Frances at the Cambridge, OH rest stop
John, Vincent, and Frances at a Cambridge, OH rest stop on the way home

We sat on a picnic table there, and even though it was 7 a.m., Bob made us peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with our new bread, and with the same peanut butter and jelly supply that had served us so well on the way up.

Our next stop was at around noon, in Bland, VA, which was at a Dairy Queen, and at which we each had a chili cheese dog, and we split a caramel shake.

5 hours (from 7 a.m. until noon) seems like a long stretch without us having taken another break, but we were both more than ready to be back home. And Bob did whip out the ever-faithful, and most-beloved, Catch Phrase game to keep me awake and alert.

Catch Phrase electronic version

He was actually cracking me up with it, because he kept saying how amazing and great I was doing, even though I obviously sucked in at least one category—entertainment.

We pulled into Bob's driveway at right around 3:30, and I snapped a picture of my odometer—for posterity—of our 2687.2-mile trip.

Total mileage (2687.2 miles) of our trip

Frances and Vincent sure were glad to be home, too! They were the best little travelers. They didn't complain once about being on the road for 15 hours. Sleeping beauties. Both of them!

In my blog entry for day 1 of our trip, I indicated that: "The main purpose of this trip is to meet as many of Bob's Michigan relatives as possible and to see as many sights as possible—some of which are still standing, many of which are not—of Bob's childhood in Battle Creek."

I would say it was a successful trip on both accounts. I have now met a grand total of 9 of the 14 McVeigh siblings.

1991 family portrait
1991 McVeigh family portrait
Sketch of 1991 family portrait (Legend: Red = siblings met, Black = siblings not met)
The names in red induce the McVeigh siblings I&quot;ve met

In addition to the siblings, I met a number of extended family members, and a longtime friend of his.

We hate that we didn't get to see everyone while we were there, but there's an open invitation to any and all if you're ever passing through Raleigh or making it your vacation destination!

Michigan vacation—Day 10

~Sunday~  I gloriously slept in this morning.

When I got up, there was coffee waiting for me, and Barbara had made bacon and eggs for us. We sat out on the porch, where Bob and I woofed down breakfast. It was all so good.

Bob—using Charley's new-fangled car—had run to a local donut shop called Sweetwater Donuts, and we also enjoyed those for breakfast, and throughout the day.

Sweetwater Donuts
6 Sweetwater donuts left in the box
Somebody's goatee bearing evidence of a powdered donut
Bob caught with donut powder around his mouth

We spent almost all of the morning on the porch, chatting on-and-off with Barbara and Charley, as Charley intermittently stepped outside to do yard work, and to go fishing at their nearby lake for a while at one point.

On our way over to Joe and Robin's, Bob and I made another grocery store stop, this time picking up some Kellogg's cereals to bring back as gifts and a few more things for our trip, such as bananas, bread, and more dog treats, which we'd somehow run out of in spite of bringing Costco-sized quantities with us. :-)

While Bob ran into the grocery store to do that, I waited in the car with Frances and Vincent, and I called my mom for Mother’s Day.

We arrived at Robin and Joe's at about 3:00, where over the course of the afternoon and into the early evening, we had such a delightful time sitting out back having good conversation, adult drinks, and then dinner.

At one point, Joe poured some champagne for the four of us and made a toast, saying to me, "Welcome to the family," and to both Bob and me, "I hope you’ll be together for a long time." My heart was full.

Robin cooked two different kinds of pizza on the grill, and they were outstanding.

I snapped a pic as we departed.

Joe, Robin, Bob, and Gracie
Joe, Robin, Bob, and Gracie

It wasn't long after we were back at Barbara and Charley's that I said goodnight to our most gracious hosts.

Bob chatted a little while longer with them before saying goodnight. He said our thank-yous and goodbyes, and gave them a heads up that we might leave very early in the morning.

Charley and Barbara
Charley and Barbara on their living room couch

I fell asleep at about 9:30.

Michigan vacation—Day 9

~Saturday~  We started off our day by meeting more of Bob's relatives for breakfast. We met Bob's niece Stephanie, her son Drew (youngest of 4!), and her mom, Mary, at the Country Kitchen in Marshall, MI. We enjoyed catching up, and hearing about their busy lives.

Stephanie, Bob, Mary, and Drew
Stephanie, Bob, Mary, and Drew at breakfast

Back in Battle Creek, we stopped at Family Fare for seltzer water (for a mixer with my bourbon) and bottled water (in preparation for our trip home). We were going to stop by the liquor store to pick up some Canadian Club for me, but lo and behold, I found liquor right there in the grocery store. We're not in Raleigh anymore, Toto.

Kathy came over to Barbara and Charley's in the afternoon, and all of us sat out on the screened-in porch and me, Bob, Barbara, and Charley listened to Kathy tell stories that cracked me up.

Kathy telling stories on Barbara and Charley's porch
Kathy telling stories on Barbara and Charley&quot;s porch

I was sending texts to Bob as she was telling her stories, such as, "OMG, she's killing me!" and "She is an absolute delight!"

My favorite line of hers during her stories was when she hesitated to tell one, but then said, "Well, you’re part of the family now. You can hear this."

We also spent some time looking at old McVeigh family newsletters, of which Kathy was the editor, and I asked questions, all of which were graciously answered.

I snapped this picture of the siblings before Kathy left.

Bob, Kathy, Charley
Bob, Kathy, and Charley

Charley cooked delicious burgers on the grill, and Barbara set out cut peppers and tomatoes with some pasta as a side dish, and we enjoyed a late lunch / early dinner.

We had a nice night in with Barbara and Charley.



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