Jerome Weiselberry’s Bookcase

I may spend too much time on YouTube. Just when I think it’s getting a bit stale, and I should be doing other things, something fresh and exciting comes along.

Meet Jerome Weiselberry.

Despite the name (there’s a story behind it), she’s a 20-something woman who knows a lot about books and movies and is happy to share that knowledge on her YouTube channel. Most of her videos present her sitting comfortably in front of her trusty bookcase, lined with books thick and thin, small and tall.

It’s a plain setting but an effective one. As Jerome speaks, you get to look at her, check out the books, try to read the titles, and admire some representatives of her large owl collection, which she places on the shelves and changes depending on the season and her mood. I’m a bit of an owl fan myself.

Occasionally, a plush Godzilla makes an appearance.

I first encountered her when I had written a movie review for The Towering Inferno and looked on YouTube to see if anyone there had covered it. By chance, Jerome had reviewed it just a month before, and had done a fine job with it. I was hooked.

She starts each video with a cheery “Hello, everyone!” before jumping into a review, or series of reviews on what she has seen/read recently. Her speaking style is exact, pleasant, deadpan yet enthusiastic. That’s the best way I can describe it.

I’ve never met or seen anyone smile while talking, except for that fast talking lady who used to peddle next-day carpets on television. But Jerome does it with a natural charm, and her smile is infectious.

She seems to know all the film and book review buzzwords, and her knowledge of old movies is awe-inspiring. A friend of mine guessed that she may have majored in film studies, and I would agree. But even laymen like me can understand her. Her brief side comments and observations only add to the fun.

At the end of each video, she invites all interested to “leave your thoughts in the comments below” before emitting a high-pitched “Bye!” while waving one hand in a blurry flourish. The perfect sign-off.

I was worried about her bookcase for a while. See, Jerome’s videos go back seven years, and for a time the top shelf was bowed downward with the weight of books. It seemed like it might snap in two, like the splitting of a mighty oak, sending those books cascading to the floor. She must have noticed this too, for one day the shelf was straightened, with the heavy books moved to the lower shelves. Potential disaster averted!

The owls remained, of course – those weren’t going anywhere.

I would recommend this channel to those who love movies and books, especially older, classic ones, but also monster movies, horror movies, aliens from space movies, Jane Eyre, westerns, Star Wars, something that popped up on Amazon Prime last week, you name it. Talk about eclectic.

There’s my review. As always, leave your opinions in the comments below and I’ll see you soon. Bye!

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Camp Willard

My one and only camp experience came when I was eight. I don’t remember my mom asking me if I wanted to go; I would have politely declined. But go I did, for two weeks of day camp in the summer of 1967. The place? Camp Willard, Lexington, Mass.

I wasn’t exactly traumatized, but here I am writing about it, a lifetime later. So what does that tell you?

Each day my mother drove me there every day around nine and picked me up at five. Arriving there, at the J. W. Hayden Recreation Centre grounds, you found your group and lined up behind a counselor. Then, the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by a group song, most likely “My Country Tis of Thee.” Our moms would head back home, leaving us kids in Camp Willard’s care.

Time for softball!

Didn’t like playing softball? Too bad. It could be the heat wave of the century, but we had to troop out to the ball field and roast there for roughly 90 minutes, every day. I played right field, a quiet place to contemplate my fate, under that goddamned, unforgiving sun. Something about the smell of a grassy field on a hot summer morning stayed with me; I sometimes catch that scent in my current-day office park.

When softball was done, outside activities took over. Arts and crafts, done on picnic tables are my main memory. What did we make? Who can remember? We used those same tables to eat our lunches; stowed away in a cool place until noon.

As in school, lunches and recess were my favorite parts. Recess in camp meant any time I could steal away to find some shade. Shade, both then and now, is nice.

Afternoons were a bit scattershot. You could go inside to the rifle range (air rifles only) and try to shoot targets on sheets of paper. Or do another activity. It seems the counselors were a bit less concerned about us then; we’d have to sign out and then head off to the next thing.

Speaking of counselors, it was my first experience with them. We were only eight, but these guys (they were all guys) seems only slightly older, like 10 or 11. That can’t be right, though. Let’s just say they were not the most mature. Nice enough kids, but more like shepherds than recreation workers.

I know the Centre had a bowling alley in the basement, but I can’t remember bowling at all. Same with the indoor swimming pool. It might have felt nice on a hot day, but swimming was never on the agenda. In the name of J. W. Hayden, why wasn’t it?

One day we did woodworking outside, with small hand saws and what seemed like chunks of plywood. I made something…what was it?. Oh yeah, a shield of some kind, painted red white and blue. I wonder what landfill it’s buried in now.

When the day was over (thank you, Camp Willard), our moms would arrive as we lined up again, this time to address the flag as someone played Taps. It was very emotional. I found my mother and was grateful, as ever, to plop into the family Country Squire and return to our leafy neighborhood.

Did I get off easy? Were there worse camp experiences? There must have been. But I can’t say I enjoyed myself.

A few years later, a horror movie featuring an evil rat and thousands of his friends was released. It was called Willard. Perfect title, I thought.

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Call Me Magoo

“Some kids may call you Four Eyes.”

This was my preparation for entering my second grade classroom with a new pair of glasses. The warning wasn’t necessary, but it did tell me I was going to be different.

When a kid actually called me that name, I just looked at him as if to say, “Thanks for that, you unoriginal shmuck.”

Back then, at age 7, a common question was “Can you see what’s on the blackboard?” I always said yes, but there must have been some clue that sent me to the eye doctor’s. When my glasses finally arrived, everything got clearer. At school, I could still read the blackboard, but…much more easily.

From that time to now and beyond, I always had and will have glasses. But the journey from there to here was not without bumps.

When junior high rolled around, I took them off much of the time. Not for reading, but just walking around, having lunch, etc. I didn’t like the way they looked. So I tried contact lenses. They were hard and gas permeable, and they hurt like hell. Back to glasses.

In the Coast Guard they took my glasses away until I was seen by a military eye doctor. I ended up with a pair of “birth control glasses,” heavy, black rimmed, guaranteed to drive off the ladies. I never wore them.

I tried contacts again. Same experience as before. I just don’t think my eyes are made for them.

Later, in the civilian world, I could experiment a bit. I tried aviator type glasses, metal rimmed, more up to date styles. A far cry from ‘birth control’.

Glasses were an important and ingrained way of life for the next couple of decades. Until the Progressives Era.

Around ten years ago my optometrist advised me to get progressive lenses; although there didn’t seem to be much choice. This meant turning my head this way and that, high for distance and down for reading. Also from left to right as I read. I find this so complicated I don’t think I’ve ever really mastered it.

Which could be my problem.

For that reason, I haven’t liked any pair of new glasses I’ve had since then. They look fine on my face, I just can’t see out of them, not the way I want to. There are Mr. Magoo days where I’m squinting at everything, and other days when things are clearer.

My last visit to the Concord Eye Center was instructive, and I think, helpful. I told them my new glasses were not working out for me. Everything seemed blurred. I half expected an argument, but the nice lady optician carefully examined the new glasses, my old glasses, and me trying both glasses on.

There was all the time in the world. I relaxed.

She finally did some adjustments to the new glasses and advised me to try them for a day or so. Worst case scenario, I could call for a new eye exam, maybe with a different doctor.

That was two days ago, and so far, so good. I can see distance, I can read. I still don’t have the “Wow, these are so much better” feeling I usually have with new glasses. But these are progressives and with those, nothing is ever perfect.

Oh, another nickname I encountered: Goggles. Haven’t heard that one in a while.

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The Movie that Time Forgot

It was late 1974 and a few friends and I went to see the latest movie blockbuster. It was called The Towering Inferno.

Until I stumbled upon this in a corner of Amazon Prime, I had mostly forgotten it. But in a rush, it all came back. The fun of being in a group, of walking into the old Colonial Theatre in Laconia, the smell of popcorn, the anticipation of seeing Hollywood generated fire, and possibly explosions.

After a mental coin flip, I decided to rewatch this old timer. Lots of jokes were made about it back then, as well as a slew of other ‘disaster movies’. Soon, even parodies of these (Airplane) were quite popular. But now, as the movie began, with it’s serious, insistent music, and giant-lettered credits, I felt drawn in. This helicopter moving along the coast of California was obviously delivering someone important.

The chopper sets down on a large tower. The VIP leaves the aircraft. It’s Paul Newman, playing the Architect.

Plot in a nutshell: Architect has designed the world’s tallest building, with 135 floors, in San Francisco. The developer (William Holden) may have skimped on the electrical requirements, with the help of his engineer son-in-law (Richard Chamberlain). So there are a few bugs to work out before the Inaugural Gala that night. Architect is there for the party, and to see his girlfriend (Fay Dunaway) after which he plans to decompress in the desert for a few years.

The fire starts out small: a sparking fuse box igniting a box of greasy rags (didn’t they read the fire prevention brochure?) that begins on Floor 81 but spreads fast. Meanwhile, roughly 300 people have gathered on the top floor, the Promenade Room, in their finest, fanciest duds.

The fire is discovered and the S. F. fire department is called. Enter the no-nonsense Battalion Fire Chief (Steve McQueen).

It’s a huge cast of characters with lots of subplots and motivations. But when the fire gets out of control, all those become less important than staying alive. Fire Chief and Architect put aside their differences to battle the fire and save as many lives as possible.

Quick lesson on blowing things up.

I was amazed at the quality of the special effects. The fire looks real, and is real. Models of the building were produced for the exterior scenes, but you’d never know. For a long movie, the suspense never lets up. The music (an early John Williams score) gives the film that ‘wow, this is an important motion picture’ quality. Even the acting is good. Fred Astaire was nominated for an Academy Award, playing a charming Confidence Man.

One of the images that stayed with me is the con man standing in the street at movie’s end, looking bereft and lost, holding a cat.

If you come across this one, give it a chance. You’ll get to see what the disaster movie craze was all about, at its peak, and at its best.

The Towering Inferno Director: John Guillermin US Premiere: 10 December 1974 Copyright 1974 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and Warner Bros. Inc.
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All Vaxxed

I remember some long waits in my childhood: the one for Christmas, the one for summer vacation. Even some when I was older. Nothing, though, will surpass the wait for the second vaccination.

It’s amazing to me how time slows down when something big is coming. Ever since I got my first Covid shot back in March, it seemed like April 23 would never get here.

That first shot went well, with a minimum of bother and almost no pain or side effects. I considered myself lucky. And then, as the long wait began, I began to hear things.

Some people fared worse after the second vaccination. Some didn’t. You heard of people getting the virus after the first shot, but before the second. And a few were getting the virus after both shots.

Added to this were reports of new strains of the virus, from South Africa and other countries, that have made their way to the U.S. This might lead to more shots in our future.

All of this was buzzing in my mind last Thursday, and I found it hard to fall asleep that night.

Friday morning I was a bundle of nerves. Thankfully I had work to take my mind off things. My appointment was for 12:50 p.m., after which I’d take the afternoon off. Possible side effects, you know.

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The drive to the old Sears at the mall felt weird. Walking in, I noticed a different atmosphere than the one back in March. It was a lot emptier, for one thing. I checked in as before, and answered eight questions related to the virus. All of the answers needed to be ‘no’. Then I got into a short line with just a handful of people, and struck up a conversation with an older gentlemen in front of me.

We talked about the mall, what might happen to it (it was 90 percent empty) and what might replace Sears. A new anchor store would be the best outcome, I said, but we both agreed that anything could happen. The old Circuit City, at the mall’s other end, was now a trampoline place. No one could have imagined this back in 1990, the year the mall opened.

Then we got separated, and I was led to Station number 4. And it was nothing like my March experience. Instead of the brisk, professional nurse of my prior visit, I got a middle aged man with white haired crewcut. On his shirt was the insignia of the Concord Fire Department. Paramedic, I guessed.

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His manner was strange. He tried to project authority but also seemed unsure of himself, walking around me as if I might explode at any second. His nervousness made me nervous. And the way he spoke rattled me, just like a cop might at a traffic stop. “Do you know why I pulled you over?

Sitting there, with two other stern volunteers nearby, I felt as if I were in a police station. Then the fireman asked me to roll up my sleeve. No problem. I expected to feel a jab, but when I glanced to my left I could see him putting on gloves, and making a production out of it. A nurse or doctor would have had them on in a couple of seconds, but this guy was taking forever.

All the while, I was holding up my sleeve, waiting, waiting. He finally got around to my arm, and this time I felt nothing. No pain, no sensation. As in March, I had the feeling, “Did this actually happen?”

We were finished. As I was leaving, he handed me my white card and a round Lindt truffle. Sort of a good luck token. I sat in the waiting area for ten minutes and exited. The whole visit was 25 minutes, much quicker than before.

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So now I’m home, around eight hours after getting fully vaxxed. No effects so far. A couple of cat naps, but I take those anyway. I don’t feel the heavy fatigue I’ve been hearing about.

I hear there’s a two week period after the second shot where you’re in another kind of in limbo. What else is new? Two more weeks I can do.

After that I can exhale – maybe. As more of us, including kids, get the shots, we can all start to exhale. And get out there to do the things we used to; knock on wood.

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Half Vaxxed

First shot was March 27. Second shot will be April 23. I’ve now entered that tense limbo period of being half vaccinated for Covid-19.

Part of the reason I’m writing this is so I will remember this whole pandemic period and how it wrapped up. You don’t hear many personal accounts of the last big pandemic, the 1918-21 one. I’ve read that it was so painful that no one wanted to remember.

The only pain I’ve felt was a jab in the arm, then nothing. More on that later.

It’s a miracle that we even have a vaccine now, much less several. All you heard in the later months of 2020 was “When is the vaccine coming?” No one was asking, “How will it be distributed when it gets here?”

I just assumed that Top Men somewhere, or maybe Top Women, were working on a timely and smooth distribution plan. Then January rolled around and we found out: Not exactly.

The whole week that began with me discovering that I could set up an appointment and ended with me getting the appointment, I told everyone, ‘I could write a book’. But there was nothing special about my experience. Everyone could write a book.

I won’t go on forever about the trials and tribulations of navigating a government website. Here are just a couple of things.

In the midst of the long, online questionnaire provided by VAMS, they asked about my health insurance. Why? I thought. It’s a pandemic. But no, they wanted the company name, policy number, group number, ID number, etc. I looked all this up and dutifully entered all the numbers. It seemed crazy, but I wanted to comply.

I mentioned this to a co-worker later that day, and he said, “I read somewhere that you can leave that page blank. No one cares.”

Great. All that aggravation for something that one cares about. Why, VAMS? Why?

I’ve been using computers for most of my adult life, but I kept getting tripped up by idiotic things. For instance, I couldn’t just say I was White. First I had to report that I was not Black or Hispanic. When I did this in the wrong order I had to start over.

I can just imagine a 90 year old man trying to perform this task alone. “So, young man, you call this doohickey a computer? What’s it do?”

Somehow, I finished. Two months dragged by. Finally, vaccination day. I knew the shots were to be given inside a former Sears store at the mall, but little else. I walked though the glass doors, and checked in with a National Guardsman at 12:20.

I got into a long line that snaked its way back and forth, down hallways and around corners. If stretched out, I’d guess it was a quarter mile long. But it moved. My fellow line standers and I could eventually see the eight stations up ahead, plus smaller ones in between. I was assigned to station 6 ½.

The nurse, or whatever she was, gave me my shot. (Pfizer-BioNTech, if you’re curious.) It hurt a little. Another Guardsman handed me a card with my next appointment. I rested in a different chair for a while, then left the building at 1:20. One hour had passed.

I felt okay, but I’d heard stories of people having a 24-hour reaction, something like a real flu. I dreaded that, thinking I’d crumple at any moment, unable to drive or walk. Not to worry though. No reaction at all, as if the shot hadn’t happened. But it did – right?

So here I am. Waiting again, for shot number two. I’ve heard that some people have a stronger reaction to the second one. Trying not to worry about that, but you never know. 

Will I be glad when this is over? I guess. Normalcy by June, please.

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A Walking Tour of Europe? Yes, Please

I like to walk. I love to travel. I’d love to walk and travel in Europe, in fact, several European countries are on my list. The problem, for me and most everyone, is there’s a pandemic going on.

So for now, I’m a weekend hiker and an armchair traveler.

Thank heaven for this British series of travelogues, currently on Amazon Prime. They are called Footloose and are produced, written, narrated and edited by married couple Dave and Debra Rixon. They’ve covered their native country, as well as Ireland, Scotland and many others, walking the rural trails and discovering the highlights of major cities. 

Yes, they do sometimes hop on a boat or train, but for the most part it’s basically Dave following his attractive wife Debra as she walks and walks and walks to wherever it is they’re going. Hence, Footloose. Sometimes Dave points his camera at her actual feet, to drive the point home.

Aside from absorbing the sights and sounds of these far flung places, you get to know Dave and Debra. I’ve seen enough of these so that they feel like the British friends I never had. Dave is the quieter of the two, but always ready to climb narrow, slippery stairs for the chance of a good view. “Stairs, Dave,” Debra will say, and hubby starts his ascent. He’s solid as a rock, and never complains.

Debra is a little harder to describe. She possesses a soft, calming voice, and always enunciates. She seems tireless, and complains only a tiny bit. Her interviews are something to behold, since everyone she meets seems happy to speak to her. Both are good at what they do, and they mesh well.

Any arguments between the couple must happen off camera, but we know there are arguments, because Dave mentioned it once as they viewed a familiar site:

“Debra, remember that blazing row we had up here?”

“Yeah, but I think I blazed a bit more than you.”

Dave is a skilled cameraman/editor, so in addition to filming Debra he takes in the cities, flowers, birds, cows, sheep and the marvelous landscapes. I’ve always wanted to see Ireland, etc. and now it feels like I have. Debra blends in several voiceovers, tossing in bits of history that are always interesting. Barnaby Smith provides the original music.

They’ve been doing these programs since 1998 and show no signs of stopping. Good for them. Happy trails, Dave and Deb, and we’ll see you at the pub.

(Note: For those not yet acquainted with the series, it might be best to start with their first film: The Original Footloose in England – Along the Ridgeway. Here you get a sense of how it all began, and see the couple as honeymooners. Made in 1998 and remastered in 2020.)

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Nineteen Seventy One

As I think about my life, there is one year I keep coming back to. It was an odd, transitional year. A final year at one school, a wrenching move, then a new school in a whole new place. Ups and downs, shocks and clear sailing. And some slow-healing scars.

Time machine? Set the controls for 1971.

I had spent the first six months that year in Mr. Como’s sixth grade class. He was a tall man, thirty-ish, with a distinguished black handlebar mustache. Even tempered to the last. Good teacher.

In the spring we did a class outing in Boston with a visit to a French restaurant (we all took French) and then, on the spur of the moment, to his house. His wife was there, equally nice, and it was cool to see how our teacher actually lived. This would be my lasting memory of Mr. Como.

‘There you go’ – McCloud’s famous catchphrase

My last day at Parker Elementary also sticks in my mind, at least the end of it. After saying goodbye to my classmates, I walked down the concrete stairs of the old school one final time towards the main road. The Who song “I’m Free” played in my head, like the soundtrack to a movie.

I was free of this school, but another, unknown school loomed in my future. We were moving as a family from Lexington MA to the Lakes Region of NH.

The summer I spent in New Hampshire was like the ones from 1968-70, with me raking beaches, trimming trees, watering flowers and mowing lawns. I had never heard the term Landscape Laborer, but that’s what I was. This fall, however, there was no going back to Lexington.

Soon, those circulars with Back-To-School sales started arriving. (God, how I hated that expression, back-to-school, with the stupid pictures of apples, schoolbooks, etc.) In late August, my mother drove us to the regional high/junior high school to register her three sons.

It was a huge, cavernous building, encased in a terrible green plastic material. The sunlight could shine through it, sort of. In any case, we only saw a little piece of the inside on our visit.

I never saw these in New Hampshire!

First day of school. Four of us, my brothers and I plus a neighbor kid, all waited for the bus by the highway. It would be a thirteen mile trip; no seat belts, no music, no guarantee of a good seat. Luck of the draw, always.

Home room was uneventful, but then came the twin horrors of learning to dial a locker combination, and then finding my new classes in less than five minutes.

Somehow I survived the first week, then the first month. I was starting to dread one thing in particular, however: gym class. For some reason, I brought my regulation tee shirt and shorts with the Kingswood logo, but always forgot to bring sneakers. It just never occurred to me. The only way I could participate was to wear socks, which looked totally dumb.

Even after bringing the damned sneakers, gym class was no picnic. We learned the basics of football and basketball, two things I had no aptitude for. The other kids noticed. If you were good at sports, you had their respect. If not, you didn’t. I didn’t.

One mean kid, Syd, started to single me out. He was our squad leader and looked for ways to tick me off. This came to a head in the locker room one day, where he slammed my locker door shut while I was getting dressed. I objected. He then pushed his open palm into my glasses and my upper head.

Just one more question, ma’am.

I saw cartoon stars for a minute, then noticed the gym teacher standing there. He sent us to the principal, where we both got suspended for one day.

My glasses were not broken but the earpieces were stretched out.

When I got back I was the center of attention due to the ‘fight’. I didn’t want a rematch, but Syd did. I spend the next month or so avoiding this jerk. Maybe I shouldn’t have.

Finally the holidays rolled around. Family time, good food, relaxation. No school.

I did make my peace with gym class, long bus rides, and life at Kingswood Regional School. Syd and a few kids like him receded into the background. I made friends, some of the best I’ve ever had. It all took a while though.

Nineteen seventy one was a rough ride, but perhaps it would have been rough anywhere. When you’re twelve and changing schools, anything can happen. I made it through in one piece, with wobbly glasses and definitely more cautious, but otherwise unscathed.

1972 was better, and 1973 even better. Hang in there, kids.

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Cheesy Christmas Movies That Are Actually Good

Okay, Christmas movies have a reputation. They’re easy to make fun of. On the other hand, for the most part I like them. Other people must too, since the assembly line for them never seems to end. So why do we like them?

The formula, usually, goes like this. It’s Christmas time. Our young woman (or man) works in the big city. They’re ready for that big promotion, project, deal, or maybe a marriage proposal. But, oh no! Things go south. Maybe visiting the folks back home isn’t the worst idea. They haven’t gone there for years! Then the obligatory drive though the old home town. What’s changed? Will Mom and Pop welcome them with open arms? Who’s still here?

Maybe that old crush from high school or college. Hmmm.

There is more to the formula, but you probably know it. The Meet Cute, the continual bumping into the old or new crush, the eventual appearance of City Guy (or Gal), the big misunderstanding, the Dark Night of the Soul, then finally, rapprochement.

Satisfying, yes. But you can’t just do the same plot over and over. There must be variations.

A couple of recent movies are worth mentioning, as well as an old favorite. What they have in common is they’ve strayed from the formula and found inventive new ways to keep our interest.

Two sisters from A Christmas Movie Christmas

The first is A Christmas Movie Christmas. Two sisters (Lana McKissack, Kimberly Daugherty) with nothing jobs and no love life fall asleep and are transported to Holiday Falls, the perfect Christmas town. They wake up in a strange house (with hair and makeup done) and meet Gram Gram, the grandmother they’ve never seen or heard of. They meet beaus, save the Christmas Pageant, and put their big city lives on track, employing every trick in the Christmas Movie book. Funny, surprising, over the top at times, but it works as satire with a heart.

A Puppy for Christmas, despite its fuzzy, G-rated title, has elements of darkness to it. It also has Cindy Busby, who plays the mean/rich girl in Heartland. Here her character is a bit sweeter, ready to seal the deal with her guy by buying a dog. But she soon finds herself both homeless and single, as well as struggling at work. Her boss suggests taking time off and her well meaning but obnoxious co-worker invites her to his family’s Christmas tree farm for the holiday. She accepts, enjoys the change of scenery, trains her dog and solves multiple problems. It’s a Christmas miracle!

Featuring Buster, the Pup.

The third one has been my favorite for several years: The 12 Dates of Christmas

The plot is familiar; it’s basically Groundhog Day. But the variances and the skillful touches put into it makes me forget the earlier movie. Made in 2011, it still holds up today.

Kate (Amy Smart, Varsity Blues) is a young woman with a life plan. Step one is to get old boyfriend Jack back. But there’s a hitch: he’s about to propose to another woman. Meanwhile, Kate has a blind date with Miles (Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Saved by the Bell), whom she seems to blow off only minutes in. An earlier fall in a department store may have jostled something loose, as Christmas Eve for Kate begins to repeat itself.

Single-minded Kate is not so nice but learns from the repetition of her days and becomes a better person, even changing the lives of those around her. 12 Dates Of Christmas has the agility to take background, two dimensional characters and flesh them out quickly. For instance: A random guy on the street and his girlfriend suddenly gain importance halfway through. 

There’s a lot of juggling going on here, and the movie keeps most but not all balls in the air.

The fresh, breezy quality to the dialogue draws you in, as well as expert pacing and the interesting use of music, including the old chestnut the movie is named after. I like they way the song’s lyrics are imprinted in a subtle way; two turtle doves in a jewelry store, nine ladies dancing in a bar. Well, a conga line anyway.

There will be a dark night of the soul, many misunderstandings, and a fine resolution. Hey, it’s a Christmas Movie. You can bet your holiday cookies that a gentle snow will fall as the young couple unites, mere minutes into Christmas Day.

With a partridge in a pear tree.

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Kit Kats

I have adopted a cat named Josie. She’s twelve and has dark brown fur with black stripes. Right now she’s pacing behind me, wondering when I’ll be done. Click click, click click, go her claws on the bare wood floor. Patience, Kit Kat.

She’s not my first cat. That honor goes to Tiger, a yellow striped devil we picked up when I was 12. He was an amazingly good natured animal, even changing my mother’s mind about cats. He seemed to be always smiling, like the tiger logo for Esso/Exxon gasoline.

There were a few cats in between, all beloved, all missed. The last one was Cheezy, who loved to sun herself in a corner of the back yard. Then one day, the coyotes came.

That was 2006. Lots of changes since then. I thought about adopting a cat when I became single in 2010, and then again early this year. It didn’t happen for whatever reason, but fate came calling in August when my ex-wife told me she was moving to Arizona. Would I come over and meet her cat, and perhaps adopt?

I did, and a week or so later, I brought Josie home.

It was not a smooth transition. Josie headed upstairs to my bedroom and stayed mostly hidden there. Thankfully she found the litter box and used it, one less thing to worry about. But she was not settling in. I decided to call the local vets and have her checked out, for my peace of mind.

She was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection, possibly brought on by the stress of the move. Also she had two teeth that needed removal. That last part could wait, they said.

Labor Day weekend turned out to be cat nursing weekend for me, adding medicines to her food and giving her lots of attention. The kitty seemed to be warming up to me, sleeping on my bed most nights, but also getting up umpteen times to visit her litter box.

A few weeks later, she went back to have those teeth removed. It turned out that four were extracted, with another nursing period. This time I had to give Josie liquid medicine from a dropper. Such fun. Any cat owner who has done this has my sympathy.

Things are settling down now. She tends to follow me around the house, and has become more clingy since the dental work. But she loves to hang out, sleeping on my lap while I recline. It’s becoming a calming routine.

We have one thing in common; we love to watch birds. I put up two bird feeders, one with suet that the woodpeckers like. I think both our jaws fell open when a humungous Woody Woodpecker stopped by, almost dwarfing the feeder itself. “Did you see that, Josie? Wow!”

I have discovered I am sensitive to cat dander, so on my doctor’s advice I have kept her from my bedroom. That’s helped. So now she sleeps on the downstairs couch, in a cozy oval bed.

There have been ups and down since Josie aka Kit Kat has come to live with me. But I think we’ll be okay. We’re both calm and quiet, like to relax, and play once in a while. Life is good.

All right, Kit Kat. I’m done. What was so important?

Josie at rest.

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