Pizza and a Movie: Lady in the Van

This weekend’s Pizza Toppings at Corner Pizza:

  • Black Olives
  • Pineapple
  • 1/2 Italian Sausage, 1/2 Jalapeños

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Movie:

Lady in the Van

Just one thing to mention about the pizza: I wanted pineapple, he wanted jalapeños, and this is what we came up with. Some people love jalapeños on a pizza. I don’t.

Now, for the movie. I found this film disturbing, and not very entertaining.

I love Maggie Smith in (almost) anything, and I adore her in Downton Abbey. The best part of this movie was her performance. But the story (billed as “mostly true”) didn’t do it for me. Because of that, and because her character is so different (mentally, and in other ways) in Downton Abbey, it was difficult for me to watch Maggie Smith in this role.

I wondered, afterward, what parts of the story weren’t true, and what parts were left out. If you see it, I think you’ll know what I’m talking about.  The treatment of the (real and fictional) lady in the van’s mental illness was terribly unsatisfying for me. Watching the film was like trying to solve a puzzle without all the pieces. And I don’t like that kind of puzzle, anyway.

I’ll be watching the Oscars this weekend, and I don’t believe Lady in the Van has been nominated for anything. Some people, I’ve heard, loved this film, and the performances.

To each his own.

A dozen things I’ve learned from my writers group

Instead of “Pizza and a Movie” (we’re skipping it, today), this post is about another one of my (sometime) Friday activities. For several years, I’ve participated in a writers’ critique group (called the Writers Circle) connected with the Atlanta Writers Group.

It’s facilitated by my friend Gelia Dolcimascolo and meets twice a month at Georgia Perimeter College, now known as Georgia State University Perimeter College (I think). On alternate Fridays, some members meet at area businesses that welcome us, like coffee shops, bakeries and restaurants.

This is a multi-genre group–kind of appropriate for me, as a multi-genre author (something I didn’t plan to be, but there it is). Members are poets, short story and flash fiction writers, nonfiction writers, screenplay writers, and novelists. Genres include fantasy, science fiction, thrillers, literary fiction, women’s fiction, children’s and middle grade, young adult, and others. We read several pages of our work in progress (WIP) aloud to the group, and then discuss, sharing comments and reactions. The idea is to help each other improve, and over the years, I certainly have.

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Members at a meeting discussing someone’s work (guess which one is me)

Here are 12 things I have learned (just a partial list, undoubtedly):

  1. How to construct a story arc, and where elements like plot twists belong (thank you, screenplay writers!)
  2. How to tighten my writing (wordy = bad)
  3. How to write believable (and good) dialogue, and that if you don’t need a tag (“he said”), remove it
  4. What to do when I am stuck (write something – anything!)
  5. How to take suggestions and criticism, and use it to improve my story (thick skin = good)
  6. How to dig deep when writing about my own emotions (see ALL THE ABOVE: My son’s battle with brain cancer)
  7. That others can see the problems and issues in my writing (everything from typos to story and character inconsistencies) when I can’t
  8. What genre I am writing in, in a particular work (sounds weird, I know, but when I was working on my novel UNDERWATER–originally titled THE PROJECT–and wondered aloud, “What the heck kind of story is this?”, another member immediately responded, “Suspense, of course!”)
  9. That I can learn something from writers of other genres, even if writing in that genre is not something I could ever do
  10. To take out anything that doesn’t move the story forward, and write only what does (“if you don’t need it, take it out”)
  11. That’s it’s okay to write what you know, and use elements from your own experiences in your work
  12. How to “show, don’t tell” (paraphrasing Mark Twain: “Don’t tell me that the fat lady sings–bring her out, and let her sing!”)

Sometimes, in the midst of all this learning and discussing, things get animated. So, when she needs to, facilitator Gelia rings a bell, to get things back on track (kind of like in the servants’ area downstairs, in Downton Abbey). Recently, she added a plaque next to the bell, in the center of our table:

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Are you part of a writers’ critique group, and if so, what have you learned and how have you benefited?

Pizza and a Movie: Woman in Gold

This weekend’s Pizza Toppings at Corner Pizza:

  • Artichoke Hearts
  • Italian Sausage
  • Red Onion

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Movie:

Woman in Gold

This week, I made the pizza topping choices and the movie selection. I’d read a little about the movie and wasn’t sure I would like it. But normally, when there’s art in a film, I do.

For example:

  • Big Eyes
  • The Monuments Men
  • Ocean’s Twelve (I think that was the one about art, and not Eleven or Thirteen, but I like both of those)
  • and even My Left Foot.*

I also usually like movies about World War II (too many to list, but The Monuments Men is one of those, too.)

And you can’t go wrong with Helen Mirren.

The story was engaging, and I loved the courtroom scenes. As a bonus, one of my favorite actresses from Downton Abbey popped in as a judge (although not on the Supreme Court).  It was based on a true story, something I always find intriguing. I’m not a fan of time travel in movies (or books), but I do like flashbacks, and in Woman in Gold, the scenes set in Austria when the main character was young were powerful and emotional.

And the pizza was great!

*What are some other movies about art or that have works of art in them?

 

 

Pizza and a Movie: Far from the Madding Crowd

For my first Pizza and a Movie blogpost, here’s what we had at Corner Pizza, and here’s the movie we saw last Friday night (click on the tab above, for more info, and the archive list):

Pizza toppings:* 

  • Anchovies
  • Ground beef (hamburger)
  • Sun-dried tomatoes

Movie:

Far from the Madding Crowd 

Not everybody likes anchovies, but my husband and I do – occasionally. We rarely choose hamburger as a topping (it was his selection, that night), but we often choose sun-dried tomatoes.

It was that rare combination of both a Friday and a mid-month payday, and it was a beautiful spring evening.** I wanted to see the movie we chose (it was conveniently showing at 7:30), and my husband didn’t object. (We both like British literature, British movies, and Downton Abbey.) Plus, we had recently seen Ex Machina, so I was in the mood for something completely different.

Our pizza was very good (as usual), but, not knowing I was going to write a blog post about it, I didn’t take a photo of my first slice. On the way to the show, we discussed the name of the film. Without troubling to check, I insisted that the title was Far from the Maddening Crowd.

“It’s madding, not maddening,” said my husband.

“I say it’s maddening,” I replied. [Maddening just sounded like what it ought to be, and I hadn’t read the book.] “Let’s make a bet.”

“Okay,” he said. “You’re on.”

When we arrived, I found out I was wrong. Oh, well. It was kind of fun to guess and see if I knew it, instead of immediately looking the title up to see. The movie was very entertaining, and well done–both of us enjoyed it–and the characters were engaging. It was a great date movie!


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* Here are the topping choices at Corner Pizza:

  1. Anchovies
  2. Artichoke Hearts
  3. Arugula
  4. Bacon
  5. Banana Peppers
  6. Black Olives
  7. Capers
  8. Chicken
  9. Corn
  10. Feta
  11. Fresh Garlic
  12. Green Olives
  13. Ground Beef (hamburger)
  14. Ham
  15. Italian Sausage
  16. Jalapeño Peppers
  17. Mushrooms
  18. Pepperoni
  19. Pineapple
  20. Poblano Peppers
  21. Portobellos
  22. Red Onion
  23. Shallots
  24. Sliced Tomatoes
  25. Spinach
  26. Sun-dried Tomatoes
  27. Xtra Cheese

** And the crowd was neither madding nor maddening!


Note: In your comments, I ask that you not be critical, snarky or judgmental of our topping choices, movie selection, or my post itself…and your topping (and movie) suggestions are welcome!

 

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