Book Opinion: Prince Lestat by Anne Rice

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What to say, what to say…

When I was a teenager, I found Interview With a Vampire. I liked it and proceeded to read the rest of the books, along with the ones about the Mayfair Witches and all the rest. I was excited to see she was writing another vampire story. Then I read it.

The thing people who have not read these books don’t realize, is that Lestat is kind of the chorus girl who breaks out and eclipses the star. Interview With a Vampire is Louis’ story, not Lestat’s. He figures strongly in it of course, but the book is about Louis. After that one, Lestat became the focus. Such a mythology has built up around him and he has such a strong voice in her writing, that it’s almost like he’s real. In fact, go to New Orleans on a regular Tuesday, and I guarantee you that within an hour of wandering the French Quarter, you will find some guy dressed up like him, purply glasses, long blonde hair, velvet frock coat and all. Just walking down a dusky street. This new book does none of that justice.

The gist of the story is that one of the original vamps has inhabited the body of another ancient vamp, but in spirit form and he is physically telling older vamps to burn fledglings. They are all scared and are looking for a gathering of the older vamps and begging for a leader, guess who? The story is pretty good, and definitely do-able, the problem with this book is the mechanics of it. Without going too deeply into details about glossaries and appendices etc, because it may take you two weeks to read this post like it took me two weeks to read this book, I’ll sum it up. Because it’s been so long, and because the author wants to add to her audience, we are treated to a dictionary of sorts of vampire terminology as it’s used in the Vampire Chronicles. Then, we get a big fat commercial for about a third of the book for the EARLIER books. The Vampire Chronicles and/or names of individual books are mentioned four thousand, three hundred and fifty seven times in the space of the first section of the book. I exaggerate of course, but you get my drift. We then get a different vampiric author for each chapter, giving back stories, world history, etc, etc. I am yawning just remembering it. Then suddenly, we get a Lestat chapter. It flows well, you can hear his voice, especially if you are a long-time fan, you get in a reading groove because it’s well written, then it switches back to someone else, and it takes you a day and a half to read one chapter. Then at the end of the book, we have an appendix of Anne Rice supernatural characters with a little blurb about each one, and then another appendix of Anne Rice supernatural themed books with a short paragraph describing each one. Again, it’s a commercial for the entire cannon of vampire stuff.

There are a couple of interesting surprises involving a young man named Victor, and a young woman named Rose, which set us up for more vampire stories, which if they are done properly could be enjoyable. Now that the commercial that is this book is finished, I can only hope that whatever creepy spirit possesses her when she is writing in Lestat’s voice, will show up and spare us glossaries, dictionaries, appendices, further mention by name of the earlier books, long flowery descriptions of clothing and overuse of the word “bespoke,” as well as an absence of long drawn out, boring world and vampire histories. You made me a little sad Anne, but I’ll chalk it up to the fact that it’s been something like ten or eleven years since you wrote a book and clearly your publisher/editor person didn’t really care what you wrote because they knew it would sell a lot and make a butt-ton of money regardless of the content. It probably won’t work out so great along those lines next time, so tighten it up girl; and if you are surrounded by yes men, get somebody who will tell you the truth and actually WORK with you. I still love you though, and I look forward to being able to give you another chance.

Have a great day everybody, stay warm and be nice :-)

NBC’s Live Performance of Peter Pan

I am a huge Peter Pan fan. About a year ago, I saw Cathy Rigby in her signature roleĀ of Peter, on her farewell tour. I loved it. It was beautiful, well-acted and clearly Rigby has turned into Peter Pan over the years. I am also a huge fan of things I can watch with my whole family on television and not be bombarded with constant sex talk, violence, and political references, so imagine my excitement when I found out that NBC was doing another live musical for the holiday season. We watched last year’s Sound of Music, and once Carrie Underwood got past her first few nervous minutes, it was pretty good. Peter turned out to be a bit of a mixed bag for me.

It followed the story very well. Mrs. Darling, played by Kelli O’Hara, was perfect. Her voice was beautiful and she was in possession of the presence that only Broadway performers have. Minnie Driver did a good job as the narrator and grown-up Wendy. I feel like I’m expected to know who Allison Williams, aka Peter is, but I have no clue. She did a good job, and from certain angles, she pulled off being a boy. Her beautiful voice was all girl, even though she seemed to be cutting off soaring high notes to keep from sounding too much like a girl. It didn’t work and next time I suggest she just go ahead and go for it. She was very good with the Pan postures, but that tunic could have been a little longer. Even though she has about zero body fat, the girl thighs and rear were visible. That’s not her fault, the costumer should have noticed.

In fact, most of my issues with the show had nothing to do with the actors, rather, little details like the tunic length and some of the casting drove me to distraction. So let’s address the casting. Smee is supposed to be an old guy. He was not, but he was my favorite. Christian Borle was one of the highlights for me. He was funny, and played the part of Smee very well, he was just about twenty-five years too young. Christopher Walken. What to say about Christopher Walken. At first, I thought he was looking down and slightly to his left with a glassy eyed stare to make Hook appear disconnected and scary. As the show went on however, I realized that he was looking at a teleprompter, because he never stopped doing it. Ok, he stopped once in a while, but overall, he never stopped doing it. It was really in the wrong place. The whole time. He’s having trouble with voice strength. It happens, and again, wrong age. He was a bit to old for the part of Hook, ten years ago he would have been perfect. Hook is a full grown adult, but he’s not a grandpa, that should be Smee. See where I’m going here? Casting people, have you READ Peter Pan? Seen the movie? Seen the Broadway show? I really think they did CW a disservice. In their quest for a big name, they made the wrong choice.

The Lost Boys. This casting criticism gets an entire paragraph of it’s own, and it goes back to, “Hey casting people, have you ANY familiarity with Peter Pan?” The Lost Boys are supposed to be boys. Little boys, saaaay ten and under. These guys were the Lost Men. I have not seen more hugely muscular calves, leg hair, ropey, muscled arms, and five o’clock shadow in one place maybe ever. They were huge. When they were singing about getting a mother, my daughter said, “Mother, they have wives.” It took two pirates to kidnap each Lost Boy. Did I say they were huge? The only appropriately aged and sized “Lost Boys” were John and Michael Darling. I’m completely serious here. It was just really bad casting. Really bad.

All of this being said, I enjoyed a nice night of entertainment with my family. We had snacks together, laughed in a good way at the pirates. Pirates are always my favorite and if dancing pirates are wrong, I don’t wanna be right. The scene with Peter and Wendy in the boat reminded me of The Little Mermaid, go on and kiss theee girl, but I liked it. It was really pretty. The little miniature, fog laced London reminded me of the Peter Pan ride at Disney World, which worked for me, and the Lost Boys hide out was every little kid’s dream fantasy fort. The sets were beautiful, most of the costuming was good, and it was enjoyable overall.

Suggestions to NBC for next year. Mainly, three words. New. Casting. Director. For a tv event like this, you don’t need to drag in people everybody knows, or are supposed to know to get an audience. You need to hire Broadway caliber actors to populate a Broadway caliber show. And for pete’s sake, read the original material before you make even those choices. There are a lot of people out here in America who are familiar with what these stories are supposed to be, and we WILL notice when you get it wrong, and it WILL color our perception of what you are trying to do.

My other suggestion is to make another one. PLEASE. We are starving for stuff like this out here. We get enough exposure to inappropriate sex, graphic violence and cruelty on the news. It’s not entertainment. This actually WAS entertainment and we want more of it.

Have a great day everybody and be kind. :-)

Cades Cove, TN

We live about five hours from Gatlinburg, TN. If you’ve never been there, it’s a town just outside the entrance to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. Gatlinburg has gone over the years, from being a sleepy little mountain town to a tourist mecca. It has a decidedly German flavor to many of the buildings and in the summer, there are beautiful flowers everywhere. I know lots of people don’t like tourist towns, and I often don’t like them either, but I like this one. It is a great gateway to the beautiful park, and inside that beautiful park is Cades Cove.

Cades Cove was a community way back in the mountains. Today, it is basically a museum of past Appalachian living. There are a few houses, some churches, a nice visitor center and a campground. We decided to take a bike ride on the loop road, and quickly discovered that it’s a lot hillier than we ever thought it was from the car. We had to bale, but in the meantime, I got some awesome photos.

A morning view from the Loop Road.
A morning view from the Loop Road.

We got there early, it was shady and cool. Suddenly, the sun rose all the way and the humidity began to creep up.

The boy beginning to realize that a black shirt was a bad choice...
The boy beginning to realize that a black shirt was a bad choice…
The Loop Road.
The Loop Road.

We realized that we were going to all die and dry up like empty corn husks if we kept going, so the sight of this cross-over road was a welcome sight.

Posts along the cut over road to chop that trip in less than half.
Posts along the cut over road to chop that trip in less than half.

The boy was in the worst shape because he had on a black shirt. My husband is the kind of person who trades us for crappy meals in restaurants, and will give you the shirt off his back. His shirt was NOT black and large enough to allow for air circulation when it was put on my son, so they traded shirts. I’m not sure if it shows well enough for you to tell, but that black shirt was TIGHT on the hubs. It was really funny, and a little embarrassing…

The hubs goofing off because the boy's shirt was too small for him, the boy dying.
The hubs goofing off because the boy’s shirt was too small for him, the boy dying.

Lesson learned from this? Just because you can handle an eight mile loop road bike ride on a perfectly flat island in Michigan when the temp is in the low 60’s, does NOT mean you can handle a loop road bike ride on a hilly, 80 degree, humid Tennessee morning. Just say no. The Cades Cove Loop Road is for cars. Use one.

Have a great day full of level walking/riding paths, cool temps and low humidity. Be nice :-)

Thanksgiving Reflections

Thanksgiving was kind of weird for me this year. My Mom died in June of 2013 after eight years of illness, leaving me a fully grown orphan, and this year is the first string of holidays that will be carried out normally without either of my parents. Halloween didn’t bother me even though we always did a lot at Halloween, Thanksgiving on the other hand…

Macy's Parade
Macy’s Parade

Last year, my daughter’s marching band participated in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC. Having never been to NYC, my husband, son and I went along as followers. It was a band trip, and she was mostly with the band, and we didn’t get to see her hardly at all, so it simultaneously sucked and was wonderful. We loved NYC and plan to go back next summer for a few days WITH my daughter so we can take her to the Public Library (which she will love) and so she can take US to the top of the Empire State Building after dark. Anyway, last Thanksgiving didn’t tickle my grieving because we were not home. We were gone the entire week and when we got home we were so tired we mostly slept. I don’t even remember putting up the Christmas tree last year, but we clearly did it, because I DO remember it being up on Christmas Day.

NYC Public Library.  That's my idea of heaven right there...
NYC Public Library. That’s my idea of heaven right there…

THIS year, we didn’t go to NYC. We didn’t go anywhere. The only one of my kid’s grandparents that is left is my mother-in-law. She came over for dinner and we played games after dinner. We had a good time. But it was a quiet holiday. It was a little sad, and a little lonely. All of our friends have families of their own to go to, and despite my best efforts, I can never find any strays to invite over.

I usually have a very “Thanksgiving-y” looking table. I love to decorate things. If I had as much money as they do, I could give Martha Stewart or Sandra Lee a run for their money with my “table scapes.” As it is, I do pretty well, but I just couldn’t bring myself to bring out the fall colors. This year, I used my mom’s ivy adorned china, and my grandmother’s silver. Then I went around the house and gathered up a bunch of stuff that reminded me of fall and Thanksgiving and the journey that was taken across the pond in a search for freedom and did my table with all new stuff. Ok, the china pilgrims are always out, but none of the other stuff is. I decided to change things up. Shake up at least the appearance of our celebration. The after dinner game was new too. Usually, we have a wii bowling tournament. I really didn’t want to do it this year because all it does is remind me of people who are no longer here, both friends and family. Plus, my mother-in-law has been going to wii bowling at the Senior Center for the last year and a half or so and would’ve kicked all of our behinds ;-)

Part of this year's tablescape.
Part of this year’s tablescape.

I know that these light on people holidays are just a phase of our lives. Someday our kids will get married and have kids of their own, and we’ll have next gen family and in-law family to get together with. I know that as time passes, friends will need a place to go, and I’ll keep looking for strays. I KNOW this is just a temporary condition, but it doesn’t make it any easier. I know that after you lose someone, it takes about three years to begin to recover, so we have another year and a half and the loss of my Mom will get easier, but for now, knowing all that doesn’t really help.

Another view of the table.
Another view of the table.

I am thankful though that we had fun. My food was amazing if I say so myself. We laughed a lot playing the game after dinner and we got a nice drive in when we took my MIL home. It was a beautiful holiday and I’m grateful for everyone that was there. I’m also grateful for the ones who weren’t because they left me with enough good memories to make me miss them. That’s cool, right?

Have a great night, and be the light for someone whenever you get the chance. :-)

Nighttime Michigan Avenue

Although I live in the suburbs, and honestly, would live in the forest if I had the chance, there are a couple of big cities that I love. New York and Chicago being two of them. I recently got to spend a long weekend in Chicago, and the first night there, we went out for a walk on Michigan Ave. I was having trouble with my flash, so in some places where I needed it, it didn’t work, so a couple of things came out a little blurry; in other places, I didn’t want the flash, so I was happy that it didn’t work and I got some cool pics of motion, and some pretty pics of the nighttime lights. I hope you like these.

PURPLE!!!!!!!!!
PURPLE!!!!!!!!!

I have no idea why there is a painted horse on the sidewalk, but I thought it was pretty. Actually looking at it again, maybe it’s decoupage…

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I was trying to get a photo of the shops and the lights, but this bus drove through my shot and I thought it wound up looking cool.

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I liked the color of the leaves.

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I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving filled with food, friends, and family; or maybe you’re more the understated holiday type and you wanted and got a quiet time by yourself or with those who are the closest to you; whichever, I hope it was great. Don’t go get trampled in stores for “stuff” today, stay home and look at pretty photos or eat leftovers, or put up your decorations for the next holiday you celebrate, or read a book, watch a movie, take a nap, hug a dog, kiss a baby, help someone or just veg out in front of the t.v. We’ll be starting on the Christmas tree. Don’t do anything stupid and be kind to someone, we all need it! :-)

Recipes: Spiced Cranberry Sauce

I don’t like cranberries. They need enough sugar to choke a horse to make them edible in my view, and the jellied stuff that my mother loved and that my daughter loves… just no. A few years ago, I decided to research recipes for something better, and I came up with my Spiced Cranberry Sauce, which I actually like. I only make it once a year, so clearly, it’s not chocolate or anything, but in my picky view, these are the bomb.

Here's what you need.
Here’s what you need.

1-12 oz bag of cranberries
1/2 cup honey
2-3 T firmly packed brown sugar, or to taste
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
1/4 t. nutmeg, or more if you like it
3/4 cup water

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Put the cranberries in a colander, and root through them. They sometimes have little stems attached, and there are often rotting ones that need to be picked out. Rinse them well too, just like any fruit or veg.

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Put all the ingredients in a saucepan, bring it to a boil, lower the temperature to simmer, put a lid on it and simmer away until the berries pop and the sauce thickens. This usually takes between 15-20 minutes, but keep an eye on it. Stir often and don’t let it burn.

My grandma's pressed glass bowl.
My grandma’s pressed glass bowl.

Once it cools, pick the cloves out, but you can leave the cinnamon sticks in there for a little garnish. I like to put it in a crystal bowl, or a pretty glass one, like this oldie that belonged to my grandma, because the color is so beautiful. Stick a spoon in it and you’re done!

Top view when it was still pretty warm.  It'll thicken up more as it cools.
Top view when it was still pretty warm. It’ll thicken up more as it cools.

In case you are wondering about the honey I use, here’s a picture of it.

We get it in Gatlinburg.
We get it in Gatlinburg.

And a short explanation of why it’s so dark.

I haven't tried the honey drink recipe on here, but it sounds good.
I haven’t tried the honey drink recipe on here, but it sounds good.

So there’s my recipe. It’s really simple, and it’s good. I hope you give it a try.
I hope all of you out there have a wonderfully Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow. If Uncle Joe gets drunk, or Aunt Sally is crazy, don’t let it get under your skin. One of these days they’ll all be gone and only when it’s too late, will you find the humor and family lore in it all. Here’s to full hearts and full bellies. Be good and careful and kind to one another. :-)

Abandoned Apple Farm

My Facebook friends have already seen some of these pictures, so I apologize to them for posting stuff they’ve already seen.

When I was a little girl, my mother took my brother and me to this apple farm every year to get our Halloween pumpkins. It was awesome and the inside of the store smelled like apples. I’ve thought of it often over the years, so a few weeks back, my husband and I took a drive out to see if it was still standing. It was. Sort-of.

The store.
The store.
Old Mrs. Fagley's spot.
Old Mrs. Fagley’s spot.

Right next to the fireplace, beside that white pillar that you see, the grandma of the family sat. She reminded me of a Russian fairy tale grandma. She was always bundled up, and working on some kind of crafty thing. She never looked up. If I am remembering it correctly, she smoked a pipe. I was simultaneously fascinated and terrified of her. I wanted to talk to her, but I was too little to have the guts to do it.

Abandoned books and an apple sticker.
Abandoned books and an apple cider sticker.

If the books hadn’t been so moldy and gross, I would have liberated them from their depressing captivity. As it was, I had to leave them behind. A sad state of affairs for a book lover such as myself.

Freezer door.  Beautiful.
Freezer door. Beautiful.
What was BEHIND the beautiful freezer door.  Scary, scary, scary.  Didn't linger here...
What was BEHIND the beautiful freezer door. Scary, scary, scary. Didn’t linger here…

Speaking of abandoned books. I love this photo. So simple, so bleak.

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I think that’ll have to do for this post. I have a lot more pictures from this day. I’ll have to do another post with some of them another day. Don’t wanna bore ya.

Have a beautiful day, send positive vibes into our troubled world and be kind to someone. :-)

Mission at San Juan Capistrano

When I was a little girl, California was a kind of promised land for my mother. She always wanted to move there, and we went on vacation there a number of times growing up. I came to love it back in the day, but part of the problem travelling with my dad, was that he never wanted to pay for anything. I think he figured once he paid for Disneyland, he was tapped out. We drove past lots of cool places, but it wasn’t until my husband and I started travelling, that I actually got to go into most of the places I’d seen, but never really seen. Does that make sense?

This is one of my favorite places.

The Mission at San Juan Capistrano.
The Mission at San Juan Capistrano.

The Mission was established on November 1, 1776 by Fray Junipero Serra. It is the only Mission in Orange County, and it is beautiful.

This reminds me of Hotel California by the Eagles.
This reminds me of Hotel California by the Eagles.
The ruins of the original Mission, destroyed in an earthquake.  It reminds me of something from Greece or Italy.  Very beautiful.
The ruins of the original Mission, destroyed in an earthquake. It reminds me of something from Greece or Italy. Very beautiful.

I can almost picture monks or friars moving down this walkway.

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And finally, as a person who was a kid when the Hotel California album by the Eagles came out, the next photo brings that 70’s icon to life for me. The Mission Bells.

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If you ever get to southern California, I highly recommend a side trip to the Mission. It is beautiful and peaceful, and I have a billion more photos of the joint that I’ll get around to posting sometime. If you are freezing or buried in snow today, I hope the beautiful California sunshine you see here helps a little. Have a beautiful day and for God’s sake, be kind to somebody. :-)

Flowers and Butterflies

Beautiful orchid
Beautiful orchid

The Krohn Conservatory in Cincinnati Ohio has a Butterfly Show each spring. After a long, cold, snowy Midwestern winter, everyone around here is ready for some greenery and color. In fact, more than the cold, the dreary browns and grays of late winter, after the snow is gone, but before it gets warm, is the thing that does the biggest number on my psyche. I love the Butterfly Show. The crowd stinks, but the warm air and life inside that giant green house is good for my soul.

Bonsai roots
Bonsai roots
Indoor waterfall.
Indoor waterfall.

These butterflies are iridescent blue when they are opened up and relaxed. Unfortunately, the butterfly show is over run with little kids who are apparently there without parents. They try to grab the butterflies and swat at them sometimes and it’s hard to get them still on something, I’d be satisfied with ANY butterfly sitting still. This beauty was way up high on the side of a tree, I captured him with my zoom.

Trying in vain to get a picture of one of these guys opened up and relaxed.
Trying in vain to get a picture of this guy opened up and relaxed.

Got one!
Got one!
Easter Lilies everywhere!
Easter Lilies everywhere!

I love the Easter Lilies. The place smells so sweet.

The Krohn is beautiful all year long, but the Christmas season and spring are my favorite times. I’ll add some Christmas pics when the season gets closer. Enjoy your day! :-)

First Photo Post: Old Bethel Methodist Church

One of the new things I want to do here, is add photos. I take lots and lots of pictures, and consider myself an evolving amateur photographer. I’ve finally gotten a nice camera, and using it is quickly becoming a passion of mine. I don’t own Photoshop, and I haven’t started an Instagram yet, so any and all photos I will post here, are whatever showed up in my camera. Someday, I might get fancy and get one of those editing programs, or use Instagram, which my daughter tells me, comes equipped with filters or something; but if and when I DO get fancy, I’ll let you know that the photos have been altered in some way. For now, they are au naturel. I hope you like them. :-)

Old Bethel Methodist Church.
Old Bethel Methodist Church.

This is a great old building. The park is centered around a man-made lake, created in the 1970’s. From what I was told, the valley was just flooded by the Corps of Engineers, and a number of houses are still at the bottom of the lake. I went to elementary school with a girl who told me her grandmother’s home was taken by the corps for the lake. She was given money of course, but she had to move, and none of the houses were destroyed before the water came. I imagine if the stories I’ve been told are true, it would be incredibly creepy to be able to go down there and see what’s left. This little church and it’s cemetery, probably served many of the inhabitants of the flooded community.

Gettin' artsy...
Gettin’ artsy…
View from the cemetery side.  The stones are really, really, old.
View from the cemetery side. The stones are really, really, old.
Steeple. Remember that old kid game you did with your fingers... here's the church, here's the steeple, open it up and see all the people... Idk, maybe it's mainly a Midwest thing.
Steeple.
Remember that game you did with your fingers when you were a kid… here’s the church, here’s the steeple, open it up and see all the people… Idk, maybe it’s a Midwest thing.

I hope you all enjoyed my first foray into posting photos. Have a great day and please be kind to one another :-)