Taylor Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down” Video’s 13s and 7s

Jun 17, 2019 by

Taylor Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down” Video’s 13s and 7s

Monday morning. It’s release day of Taylor Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down” video with her in it and it is loaded with easter eggs of her favorite number 13 and the number of her album Lover, lucky number seven.

So here we go.  Right off.

13 elements and dice that add up to 13.

In the second screen with the 13 elements, the cat, the rollers, the lipstick, the red dice, (the ones in the container mostly equal six) but the ones in front total to 13.) So there’s two 13s right there.

Then Taylor complains about the time being 7 a.m. (reference to 7th album) and looks at her watch where the one is a 13.

Then she’s headed out to the pool in here bling sun glasses. And yes, across the top they have sparkles across them. And just how many stars or what ever are there?

Why 13 of course.

How many else should there be?

Let’s skip forward to the part where TS comes walking down Main Street of her trailer city. She’s walking with the guy, pumps and all and she’s got blue hair and that Mr. T starter kit necklace with that big bold 13 in gold.

Now of course the protestors how many might there be? I’ll answer such a rhetorical question on my own. Somewhere between the number 12 and 14.

This keeps going. We get to the sun bathers in front of the trailer, of which TS is one, this time in a yellow swimsuit, an she’s sunning in front of the 13 protestors.

This time, however, she’s sitting in a group of seven, (album “Lover” number) and telling them to cool down.

But

the

most

excellent 13 possibly of all time, and you have to be looking for this one, comes from the symbolic Taylor and Katy Perry make up where Katy is dressed as a hamburger, and Taylor is a bunch of fries.

And how many fries are there?

Yep. There are seven in the front.

There are six in the back.

There are 13 french fries.

Count them yourself.

Taylor Swift’s 13 French Fries

 

 

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Fleabag Season 2–Phoebe Waller-Bridge At Her Best

May 17, 2019 by

Fleabag Season 2–Phoebe Waller-Bridge At Her Best

May 17, 3 p.m. in the afternoon and I’ve already devoured the six-episode season 2 of Fleabag on Amazon Prime and am in awe of the work of Phoebe Waller-Bridge as a writer and actor. 

She announces early in episode 1 that this is a love story, leaving one to think that the first episode is a love story, but really, all six episodes become an over-arching love story with little ones sandwiched masterfully in between.

Yes, I know, Phoebe and the show isn’t known for the best language or kid-friendly situations. That’s a given. If you could get past that and get to the heart of the story in Season 1 you saw how Fleabag, Phoebe’s character, was dealing with a surprise trauma she was running from until it was thrown in her face in the last episode as a major reveal.

Season 2 picks up 371 days, 19 hours and 26 minutes  later and Fleabag says she’s changed. Her old self wasn’t getting her anywhere, so she’s decided to make a change. And then we go through six episodes of her trying to do just that.

There is much more heart in Season 2 than one would ever have anticipated. The writing is masterful. The last episode where Andrew Scott talks about love is written from the heart.

The new and guest stars Andrew Scott from Sherlock fame as Jim Moriarty, Fiona Shaw from Killing Eve playing a counselor, and Kristin Scott Thomas, help enliven the series (the English call a season a “series”).  

One often hopes that a second season will be as good as the first. I’ve been disappointed in the second season of Killing Eve. After episode one even, I could tell Phoebe’s role in writing had been cut way way back. As the season has dragged on, it’s become almost a different show than season 1. Night and day to me. It’s still a good show, but the Zing that was there with Phoebe’s writing is NOT there.

With the second season of Fleabag, I have no problem in arguing that Phoebe’s mantra in how she writes with “Panic, panic, and hope,” is more than evident. It was brought to life in every page she produced in the script for these six episodes. The greatest regret I have is that there were only six shows in this season and now I’ve seen them all already.

That’s not to say I won’t see them several times but….

Will there be a Season 3? Sian Clifford, who plays Fleabag’s fictional sister, recently said no. The way Phoebe walks away from camera and waves at the end of the last episode, that kind of seals it, too. Even the way the last episode is laid out, Fleabag S2 ends in a good place. It is wrapped up nicely, shall we say.

But not to worry. Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s career is on its way up. She is a masterful writer, she’s young, and funny, and she’s going places. And that’s the best part of everything about her. As a budding but older person writing, I’d do most anything to spend an hour of time listening to Phoebe talk about her theories. She says if she could ask anyone 73 questions, she’d ask Rasputin. So I have two 500-page books at my side in my TBR pile to figure out what the questions and then the answers might be. And I keep going back into my Work in Progress and asking myself, how would Phoebe turn this on its head? That sort of thinking is shaking up my short in a way I could not have anticipated, and hopefully one my future agent, and then future readers would not have either. As you’ll see from the 73 questions, “Panic, panic, and hope.”

Not only that, the beautiful quote she lives by, “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect,” by Anais Nin.  Phoebe has cut it to “We write to taste life twice.” When you watch season 2, anyone who has ever been in love, or fallen out of love, or searched for love and not ever felt they’ve found it, well, you’ll feel like you’ve tasted life twice. And that is what makes Phoebe Waller-Bridge one of the best writers out there acting and writing today.

 

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The Book of Dust

Feb 7, 2019 by

I read Philip Pullman’s The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage:  last week and was told going in that there were things about the book that are not as good as his previous trilogy, but I’d seen a recommendation for this book regardless and had decided to give it a read.

To start with, Pullman’s fantasy work is not something I would normally read. It still is not.

The Book of Dust

Reading about Malcom and his daemon Asta was curious I will admit. The first few pages did, I must confess, however, draw me right in. But I have to say, from a writer’s stand point, at one point I began to wonder how burdensome the daemons must have felt–having to write about another character for every character–because in this version of the world, everyone living must have a daemon very, very near them and if they don’t, it’s supposed to be pretty draining.

My friend Tom at Interabang Books in Dallas said this book didn’t sell like publishers hoped it would. Not in comparison to the previous Dark Materials trilogy. Again, I’ve not ready anything else by Pullman, but I can say where I felt there were a few weaknesses in this story. I do not mean to be critical of Pullman. He’s published, I’m not, so there’s that. He also invested a lot of time to create, as have I, so I respect his work from that standpoint. This isn’t easy so anyone who gets their work on paper, heck, even into a computer from start to finish has made quite an accomplishment, so I refuse anymore to tear something to shreds. (Here are some thoughts that confused me, or I thought could have been stronger, how’s that?)

One happens when the baby Lyra is taken away by the Holy police to a nunnery that is supposed to be heavily guarded and damned near impossible for anyone to get in or out of. Malcom, Alice and their daemons float up to the place in their boat, find a drain with a metal cover, lift it, Malcolm and his daemon Asta float in, get past the second drain, waltz up a hall way, get stopped once, claim to have wet the bed, get sent to where they were going, lie down in an empty bed, wait for the head priest and nun to come in and argue about the baby, leave while the nurse in the room is snoring, and then sneak out with the baby unseen. What was supposed to have been impossible was done without any resistance whatsoever. Mkay.

There is a deluge in England and Malcom’s boat floats from Oxford to London, sometimes being able to float down specific streets, etc. That just seemed like too far a leap for me.

Then the book just leaves one sort of hanging with a whole bunch of characters. Yes, this is going to obviously be a trilogy, but there’s so much non-closure for so many of the secondary characters. They’re literally just left floating in the flood. I was always led to believe that even for a trilogy, you tied everything off, mostly, and didn’t leave things floating, pardon the pun.

I read the book from Sunday to a Wednesday. It’s 438 pages and all in all, it wasn’t a bad read. It wasn’t ridiculously hard to understand like Good Morning, Midnight or something like that, which the local book club has been reading. Talk about a nutty book…..

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War and Peace

Dec 26, 2018 by

My daughters gave me a copy of the 1,358-page version of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace for my birthday in early December. I began reading it on Dec. 7 and finished seventeen days later on Christmas Eve.

Considered the best novel ever written, I shall not ever disagree with this assessment. War and Peace is the most profound book I have read in dealing with the human condition and with Tolstoy’s discontent and outright contempt for the oversimplification of journalists and historians. In fact, it was these parameters that he sought to overcome in writing this book. In his research and own experiences in battle, he saw that far too much was eliminated in the reporting and recording of journalism and history for them to be even close to accurate, so he set about to writing this book, which he did not consider to be a novel–for it does not really have much of a begining, middle or end–in an effort to tell the fullest story as possible about the Napoleonic wars.

The beauty in this book is in the depth of the writing, and yet the simplicity of it as well. As daunting as it may seem to pick up a 14-hundred page book, it flows like water flowing from a stream or a tap in your kitchen. And while there are in fact about one hundred characters within the work, once you lock on to Pierre, Natasha and Prince Andrey, all the rest of them essentially revolve around these three and then criss-cross because these three are intertwined with each other. Pierre and Andrey are best of friends. Pierre has known Natasha since she was little. Andrey becomes engaged to Natasha, whom she in part knows through Pierre. Add in support characters around those three and you have the other hundred or so, including Napoleon and Russia’s Emperor Alexander I.

There are descriptions of great battles from 1807-1812. There are love stories. There are stories of hardship and strife. There are stories of death and suffering. There are explanations about how historians got things way wrong. There are glimpses into the spectacle of Russian high society and its aristocracy. There is even a dual for honor. All are explained and told with the simplicity noted above so one who is reading feels immersed in the scene and empathetic to the characters looming large.

Count Pierre Bezukhov

Pierre Bezukhov, the main protagonist of the work, and I, seem to have much in common. Nasty marriages that left us in emotional and financial tatters not necessarily of our own fault, a longing to help others no matter the cost or consequence to our own selves, and the quest for knowledge, to right our own wrongs and to leave the world a better place.

Pierre was a trusting soul and got taken for a ride by many. He comes out okay in the end though.

Last week I saw my pain doctor. I’m down 26 pounds now since October, largely due to meds, but I’m also trying. As I was leaving, my doctor told me when he was younger, after one of his first heartbreaks, someone had told him that the most important thing in life isn’t money or property or anything of that like. “The most important thing in life is your health,” he said. “If you have your health, all those other things can get taken care of.”

That isn’t necessarily how Pierre lived his life, but as the war turns in 1812 and the French are retreating from Moscow, Pierre has epiphanies about life and living and he becomes a new man.

Two hundred years later, and a year or two plus, I’ve been learning as well, after so many hardships that the things I have had done to me, and the things I have caused or walked into, while they have affected me in ways that may never stop, they can only dominate me if I let them. And I am tired of giving others power over me when I should not. Even if it is just a memory at this point.

There are still those out to get me, those who think they can ruin me. I think that boat sailed long ago. The only way for me to go at this point in life is up, so knock yourself out trying if you feel so low as to try. You’re wasting your time.

I have recommitted myself to God and to using every day the rest of my life to working to his glory, to getting myself healthier. Despite my continued back and leg pain, Crohn’s, and whatever else is going on inside me, I’m still fighting. Yes, I go to Medical City of Dallas nearly five days a week it seems for one doctor’s visit or another, but I am doing so to get myself well. To find the cures to what ails me.

I am reading all the books I can to enrich my mind. I finished me goal of reading 101 fiction novels. Now it is time to start revising my novels again. But with more strength, more knowledge, more skill.

It is time to take back the life that has been stolen from me by others for whatever reason, to give back what is owed, to live out the remainder of my life on firmer footing and in the best health I can get to.

Sure, there are going to be those who seek to stand in my way. That is just human nature. I’m better equipped now than I was several years ago when so much of my world fell apart.

One of the greatest things I learned from Pierre in War and Peace is that while one is still living, there remains the chance to keep fighting for what is right, for what is best, and for the good of the world.

That’s exactly what I intend to keep doing.

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Thanksgiving 2018

Nov 21, 2018 by

Thanksgiving 2018

My how the year has flown. Preparations are underway for Thanksgiving 2018. The Christmas decorations are already in place–three trees inside this year–four if you count the Charlie Brown tree–and the special Christmas City across the bar between the dining room and kitchen needs to annex another area, perhaps it moves to under one of the trees next year. Some say I should wait to decorate for Christmas until after Thanksgiving, but I never do anymore. I want to get the most out of what Christmas can be and decorating, particularly early, gives me hope.

Maycee, looking for Janet’s damned stray cats or Santa Claus, Thanksgiving 2018.

My three girls are coming tomorrow. This year Chandler, the eldest, is bringing a cheesecake. The elder twin, Reagan, has made dressing for her friends at work by having me FaceTime with her and talk her through the process. Haley, the younger twin (by seven minutes) has made a family favorite–chicken broccoli casserole. I don’t know if she’s bringing any with her tomorrow, but it has been a joy the past few months to see traits in me come bursting out of the girls that I didn’t realize I’d ingrained in them so deeply.

This is an unexpected side of parenting that I’ve not experienced before, at least not to this degree–not since they have become so independent as they have become. They are encountering the hardships that life has to offer and to break the pain or strain of a situation, they’re resulting to some of my jokes to cheer each other up, and doing so when I’m not there. “This is when Dad would say … ” and then they all chuckle and giggle and it’s funny to them because they know I’d be there to add levity to a situation that has none.

That gives me comfort as I grow older, as I deal with the pain that has been inflicted upon my body the past two and a half years and feels like it’s never going to leave. But things like what I’ve mentioned above, the cooking of my recipes, the telling of my bad jokes, gives me hope, courage and comfort. I’ll be missed when I am gone, but I’ll also keep on living through my girls–no sons.

And that realization is probably the best and truest blessing God could bestow on me this Thanksgiving.

It’s been another hard year of dealing with the pain in my back. The lumbar is still wreaking havoc. This summer and fall, the thoracic spine has been out of whack. Hopefully, before New Year’s and the out-of-pocket reverts to a massive sum on the first, a lot can be done to at least settle my thoracic down. Other ailments have cropped up I never would have guessed possible. My doctors are working on those.

But my daughters are growing up into fine young women and I’m more proud of them each and every day. My church family has stood by me even though my attendance, largely because of the fatigue from the Crohn’s disease and back pain, has been dismal. And I’ve met some great people in the medical field who truly care about the health and well-being of others.

And of course, I have to mention Maycee, my dog. Yes, she barks to ward off my next-door neighbor Janet’s damned stray cats, and she can’t stand the neighbor at the end of the building who owns the German Shepard, but Maycee loves me in a way I cannot describe. Anyone who says dogs don’t know how to love their owners clearly has cats.

I will miss lunch tomorrow with my three brothers, sister and Mom as they gather in Montgomery, Alabama. Dad will eat with family in Northern Indiana. I wish I could be in three places at once. Nonetheless, I am so thankful for the love of my daughters and dog, Maycee. I could not have made it through 2018 without the four of you. There is just no way. Thank you. Now God bless us every one.

 

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When Life Gives You Lululemons

Oct 1, 2018 by

When Life Gives You Lululemons

It was something out of character for me to read Lauren Weisberger’s When Life Gives You Lululemons, almost like picking up Cosmopolitan magazine I would think and reading it cover to cover. But several weeks ago it was big on the New York Times Bestseller Hardcover List and it spent several weeks there and in my quest to become a better reader, I bought it, read it, and studied the novel in hopes of it making me a better reader.

When Life Gives You Lululemons

To her credit, Weisberger at least knows that U.S. senators don’t ride around in limousines all the time like Lisa Wingate errantly seems to think in Before We Were Yours in modern day South Carolina.

Weisberger’s plot hinges on a senator being in cahoots with a local police department being able to frame his wife with DUI on a holiday and a Hollywood-based spin doctor being able to get her out of trouble after finding the senator’s wife and the spin doctor have a mutual friend in the suburbs of Connecticut. So the story winds around the three women who learn new things about themselves–mostly about the spin doctor who learns that she’s not a washed up spin doctor and that there is more to life than helping the country’s elite lie their way out of their sick problems. So much so that at the end of the book … well, I don’t do spoilers, you’ll have to read it for yourself.

When I read books I usually actively underline passages that I might like to come back to or find insightful about the human experience. I didn’t underline anything in this book.

This is/was not my genre and it does have a happily ever after ending. How nice. But if you want to read anything that’s based upon reality or anything that will advance the cause of humankind, this is not the book.

 

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One of those ‘God Things’

Sep 22, 2018 by

One of those “God Things”

There are times in life when I’ve found myself saying I’m in the middle of one of those “God Things.” Where no amount of my own pushing seems to be getting my anywhere, and then when it’s God’s time, things click right into place.

The seal of The Grammatic Artist.

Over the past three or four weeks now I’ve been working on the premise for a book project. I actually have a very well developed Hero’s Journey. The story takes place in two worlds. One where my primary character is having a dream/encounter where an angel has appeared and is taking him to a meeting with God. On the outside world, he’s on his way to the funeral of his maternal grandfather, the last of his grandparents, and the woman who takes the seat next to him on the flight, not his wife–she has declined to go with him–tells him it sounds like to her he’s grieving a lot more than the loss of his grandfather.

The day I really got to working on the plot of the Hero’s Journey, I found myself at Kinkaid’s Hamburger’s with my own personal mentor Ron Rose. The discussions we had were timely to what each other were doing. The conversation itself became on of those God Things.

As I continued working, things have fallen into place in like manner.

This past Monday I spent an hour with my preacher who suggested I do more to punch up the ferociousness my lead character has when he has his meeting with God, assuming this is a work of fiction. One I’m trying to make more mainstream than a Christian novel.

Then tonight, I met someone at a Mexican restaurant who it sounds like can help me punch up some of the scenes I’ve been struggling with. Another God Thing. She herself has written a book about finding God in unlikely places. I ordered hers from Amazon already. What are the odds?

I’m behind in my book reviews–nine books behind right now–When Life Gives You Lululemons, The Summer that Melted Everything, Imagine Me Gone, My Name is Lucy Barton, Are you There God? It’s Me Margaret, The Outsider, Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine, Across the River and Into the Trees, and Tailspin, all because I’ve been working on this new book idea.

But that’s okay, because I’m into one of those “God Things,” and when those are happening, well, anything can happen from there….

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