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I just finished reading a fun and light book by Sophie Kinsella, Can You Keep a Secret? The heroine, Emma Corrigan, is reminiscent of one of my favorite characters of all times, Bridgett Jones, and spills all of her “secrets” to a complete stranger during a bumpy airplane ride. These “secrets” aren’t really serious, mainly things like- what kind of underwear she prefers to wear and that she really doesn’t love her boyfriend, etc. Like I said, it’s a fun and light read!

So it got me thinking- what might my secrets be? And while I wasn’t able to come up with any “secrets” per se, I do have a number of “wishes” that are always on my mind that I’d like to share.

1. I wish I could tell Oprah how sorry I am for everything I’ve said about her.

2. I wish I could really sing. Not so that I could go on tour- I love my life now and don’t need the headache of an international sell-out. But, I’d love to be able to really perform 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton at the office Christmas Party. I would act like it wasn’t going to be any big deal, I’d be a little shy, and then it would be AWESOME. People would talk about it for years to come.

3. I wish I always had a pair of scissors with me when I saw those “balls” hanging from a truck’s (or Mazda’s- you know who you are in Little Rock) trailer hitch. I’d just do a little snip-snip.

4. I wish I could be featured on the Today Show– but not because of a tragedy, or some sorry story. I’d like to be called as an expert of something I love like the movies. Maybe I could have my own segment, joke with Al Roker, and be awkward with Anne Curry.

5. I wish I had my own stylist. He or she, preferably someone like Cinna from the Hunger Games, wouldn’t have to work for me full-time, they could just pick out my wardrobe and dress me for special events like Supper Club and Bible Study.

6. I wish all of my friends lived next door to me. We could share a backyard like sister-wives, but not husbands. I’d have the adult hang-out in my backyard, one friend would have a pool, another a trampoline, and so on. And we’d never get tired of each other or get in a fight.

7. I wish I could time travel. This is so cliché but it truly is one of my wishes. I would just observe and try not to drink the water. My top three, time destinations: Cleopatra’s era, JFK assassination, and an early Elvis concert.

8. I wish that I could pay off Sarah McLachlan (and the Humane Society) to stop playing those Angel commercials. Every time I see one I wish that I was rich and could make it worth their while to pull all those spots, immediately.

9. I wish everyone had a dog like Greta and a lifetime supply of Diet Dr. Pepper.

10. I wish I had ten wishes to make it an even number, but nine really sums it up.

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I love to be entertained. I’d say it’s one of my favorite hobbies. I love a good book, a well-written television show, and everything about going to the movies. Harry Potter, Hunger Games and Mad Men are my most recent loves. I couldn’t wait for the next book, that next episode, the next film. But each has come to an end and this last year I found myself a little depressed.

I’ve tried all sorts of replacements: DivergentHunger Games reworked; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo– shock value;  and the worst yet- ABC’s Once Upon a Time– the Lost writers trying to fit the Lost blueprint into the popular fantasy genre, not to mention the horrendous special effects. I had almost given up.

Then a ray of light, hope in the midst of my despair! Downton Abbey.

I happened upon this little historical fiction on PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre right before New Year’s Day. Because I was highly disappointed by the BBC’s The Hour last year, I didn’t expect much from Downton. I thought I’d try a few episodes while my husband watched the 10,000 bowl games that I care nothing about.

Well, right off the bat- The Titanic sinks and the Earl of Grantham is left with no heir to his title, his money, and Downton Abby, a fictional estate in Britain’s North Yorkshire. The story follows the Earl, his three daughters, his American millionairess wife, and his meddling mother played by Maggie Smith. As the aristocrats grapple with the antiquated world around them- dealing with issues of inheritance, different classes in a changing society, and love and marriage, a parallel but very separate society in the servants’ quarters tackles the same issues.

The things I loved about Season 1:

The writing is superb– Each storyline is well developed and relevant. Each character is intriguing and vital to the plot. Mary is selfish yet endearing. I feel sorry for Edith and hate her all at the same time. I am appalled by O’Brian and equally repelled by Thomas. I cheer as the love develops between Mr. Bates and Anna, and hope that Matthew can figure it all out before the War begins. There are many characters, many story lines, and no lack of action. This show never slows down.

The art direction is fantastic– Highclere Castle in Hampshire is used  as a setting and could not be a more perfect and beautiful backdrop as the drama unfolds. The costumes are equally as stunning, bringing to mind the 1998 film, The Titanic, (sans early/cheesy computer generated special effects) and giving Mad Men a little competition in the television period-drama category.

The Season Finale puts both the writing and the art direction together beautifully. The excessive and dated aristocratic society come face to face with its absurdity as World War I is announced- announced during the most beautiful and lavish garden party- complete with linen-clad guests, white roses and a mint julep.  It’s a story for the eyes as well as the heart.

The things I hope for Season 2:

Better character development- Season 1 left me disliking Thomas so much that I couldn’t believe in him. He was too evil, too mean, and too selfish. The writers even managed to weave in a thread of humanity for O’Brian but left Thomas as terrible as ever. What bothered me the most about Thomas’s characterization was that he is the only homosexual character. I was troubled that the only gay character was the only completely horrible character- and I long to see him made real. To my relief, the beginning of Season 2 provided Thomas some depth, and the beginning of a back story which might prove to help.

The unrequited love story lines- I’m so over the unrequited love story lines and so tired of all the whining. I just get so Twilighted out and wish people would just say how they really feel! The relationship between Mr. Bates and Anna begins to take a very intelligent and intriguing turn in the Season 2 premiere that I applaud. On the other hand, the Matthew and Mary love story that is based upon the “I love you but I just can’t say so” mentality wears on me. My hope is that the writers are developing Mary’s character- maturing her and allowing her to show some empathy for Matthew’s fiance- instead of just creating the inevitable drawn out love affair that we expected for Season 2.

All in all, I can’t wait for Sunday nights. Thank you PBS for a wonderful surprise. How did I miss this one for so long?

I dare say that all of The Tiger Lilies readers will enjoy Downton Abbey too- you will not be sorry- at least until the episodes end.

Also, if you dig what I dig, check out this blog, YABookBridges.com. There is a post about Vixen, a book series set in 1920’s Chicago. I know I’m going to check it out.

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Don't worry, we're about to Manage some Mischief.

I had the time of my life at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. After Matt denied my request to celebrate our fifth anniversary at Hogwarts, a.k.a. Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, I easily convinced my sister that we needed  a “girl’s trip,” and fast.  After only a day of planning, Reagan and I had secured a hotel room, plane-park-and express pass tickets, and child care for our children. We were off like a Nimbus 2000.

I was already suffering from a mysterious pre-trip dizziness, (which the genius doctor at the after-hours clinic diagnosed as a possible brain tumor) but it didn’t matter, I was going to Florida. I packed only the essentials: a messenger bag, a visor and granny panties. And if these items weren’t enough to classify this as a “girl’s trip,”  for our pre-Park fare, we bought wine and cookies at the local grocery store. We had a great night-before carb load and were ready for an early morning.

Reagan and I woke up at the crack of dawn to get to the park early. Upon arrival, my dizziness lost its battle to an intense adrenalin surge as we raced to the back of the Islands of Adventure Park. Entering The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was surreal. I’m not making this up: the Castle, the Hogwarts Express, Hogsmeade etc. is breathtaking. We later learned that Universal Studios spent an estimated $200 million on this creation, and I am here to say, every penny was well spent.

Hogwart's Express

Platform 9 3/4

Entering Hogwarts

After entering the gates of Hogwarts, you are instructed to stow all of your belongings in a locker in order to ride, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.”  Stowing all of your belongings is mandatory. This should have been our first clue. Then, as we walked through the Herbology Greenhouse Three, the following sign was posted:

See the stick guy vomiting over the side of the boat?

I’m pretty sure whatever  potion they slipped us had a little bit of Tiger Lily in it. We were about to be motion sick out of our minds.

But before the nausea ensued, we walked through the Hogwart’s corridors, past Dumbledore’s office, and through the Griffyndor Common Room. Right before you get on the ride, Harry, Ron and Hermoine appear from underneath the invisibility cloak in the Great Hall. They explain that we will be flying through the grounds of Hogwarts, and that we should beware of a dragon that Hagrid has let loose. At this point in the line, the 13 year-old in front of us began to panic, and Ron made the Great Hall actually snow, by accident, of course.

Talking Portraits

Dumbledore's Office

Griffyndor Common Room

At this point in the line (probably about 75 minutes into our wait) I was feeling impervius to motion sickness. And even as the Sorting Hat warned us of the dangers of the ride, Reagan and I boarded our enchanted bench.

The Sorting Hat

After four minutes of the coolest ride I never experienced, (about two seconds into the simulation, Reagan and I both closed our eyes– tight) I silently willed myself onto the moving walkway that led to the end of the ride. Reagan and I walked side-by-side without a word, through Filch’s Emporium Gift Shop and straight to Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom. We were both concentrating really hard on not puking our guts out. (If only we had a Purple Puking Pastille.)

It only took about a half an hour before we were ready for the Dragon Challenge Roller Coaster. To get on this ride, you walk along a path laced with banners for the Tri-Wizard Tournament. After passing through the Champion’s Tent, which showcases the Triwizard Cup, you then choose whether to ride the Hungarian Horntail or the Chinese Fireball Dragons. We chose the Hungarian Horntail and quickly found ourselves in the midst of a levicorpus spell.

Banners leading to the Coaster

Champion's Tent

It was after The Dragon Challenge that we had to the leave The Wizarding World all together. After a good hour of complete still-ness, and a few bottles of water, we went back for more. The last, and only ride in The Wizarding World that we really enjoyed was Flight of the Hippogriff. It’s a kiddie roller coaster that won’t put your equilibrium in check- if you even have any after the previously mentioned rides. And as a bonus, while waiting in line for this kiddie coaster, you pass right by Hagrid’s house.

Hagrid's House

Look closely to the right and you can see the Hippogriff flying right by.

By day two, we were back to just “hang out” in Hogsmeade. This was probably my favorite part of our trip. We had a Butterbeer, sat on the patio at the Three Broomsticks, bought some candy at Honeydukes, had a laugh at Zonkos, and watched some lucky kid get chosen by his wand in Olivander’s Wand Shop.

It may look cold, but it's June in Florida.

Fantastic.

Inside Honeydukes: Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans; we also bought a few chocolate frogs.

Inside Zonko's. They had Extendable Ears but no Love Potions.

Darn kid. It should have been me.

And although we were pretty upset that Olivander picked some little kid over the two of us, we bought our own wands before leaving. I chose a replica of Hermoine’s wand and Reagan chose a generic wand– or, excuse me, it chose her.

Hermoine's wand. It has a vine on it that signifies loyalty.

Reagan's wand.

Overall, I would say we had the time of our lives. It is so fun to see the books come to life, and I had the best company and Harry- Potter-expert in my sister as a tour guide. I would venture to say that this is one of the places I would think about if Expecto-ing my own Patronus.

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Unlike the Blair Witch Project which received 3 stars from the Motion Sickness Association of America and the latest Jason Borne installment which scored an amazing 4 1/2 stars on the Motion Sickness Scale, Avatar received an impressive and yet-to-be achieved 5 star rating. It will most definetly take movie goers a full five days to fully recover their equilibrium.

Avatar starts us spinning from the very first scene and spits us out with a terrible case of sea-sickness that would rival any rough-water dinghy ride in the Cayman Islands. (This movie reviewer’s personal worst motion-sickness episode.) But Avatar is a such a mesmerizing and new ride with such special effects and amazing scenery, that no matter how sick you start to feel you won’t ever want to ask to get off.

Avatar will be just like the Tea Cup ride at Disney World. You will both love and hate it.

First, the plot: Donning 3-D glasses in an IMAX setting, movie goers are introduced to Jake Sully, a paraplegic ex-Marine who is going to an alien-filled planet, Pandora, which is rich with natural resources. Sully’s mission, along with other new recruits, is simple: take on an Avatar body like those of the natives, infiltrate the native’s society, gain their trust and then betray them. It is the age-old story of white man taking what is not his. But much like Avatar’s special 3-D effects, the plot takes its own expected twist. To no one’s surprise, Sully falls in love with the native people and a certain native maiden named Neytiri, and a John Smith/Pocahontas/Dances with Wolves scenario is introduced.

And a total and complete nauseating sickness overtakes the 3-D movie goers.

Now to the dialogue: The most sickening part of the movie was not its special effects or cheesy plot, but the terrible dialogue lines and sterotypical roles assigned by writer/director and cheesy “King of the World” himself, James Cameron. Here are a few examples: The head scientist, Dr. Grace, who obviously hates meat-head Marine, Sully, tells him, “Let your mind go blank, that should be easy for you.” Later, the hard-ass helicopter pilot Trudy (Anna Lucia from LOST) smacks her gum (of course), then smirks and triumphantly spouts off, “You guys should see your faces” as the new recruits are introduced to the visually breathtaking scenery of Pandora.


[Here Cameron tells Sam Worthington (Jake Sully), “Now go over there and say, ‘You had me at hello.’ It will be perfect.]

But the most gag-inducing dialogue was assigned to the bad guy, Colonel Quaritch. The queasy feeling begins to creep in right from the start when Col. Quaritch explains to the new recurits, “You’re not in Kansas anymore” when they land on Pandora. How original. And you really feel the need to hurl as he rounds out his terrible dialogue perfumance with, “Come to Pappa” when challenging the hero to duel in the final scenes.

And finally, the most dizzying effect: Mother Nature. Compounding the motion sickness caused by the incredible visual effects, the gut-wrenching dialogue and unoriginal plot line is the appearance of the Mother Nature-diety character, Ewya. It’s not the nature part that we turn “green” over, it’s the obvious parallel to Oprah Winfrey that Cameron draws here.


[Because she didn’t like her Avatar, Oprah obviously chose the next best character that she thought fit her the best: the all-knowing, all-controlling deity character, Ewya.]

Ewya is the spiritual leader. She is all knowing, she loves everything, runs everything and even gives and takes life. She’s an expert on mating rituals and lifetime mates, although there’s never a Father Nature in the picture. Instead there’s just a stand-in “Stedman” tribe leader who lets “Gail,” his wife, run the show. And Gail and Ewya are pretty close. I think Ewya is so excited when Sully comes back to save the day that you hear a “Jaaaake Sullllly!!!” coming from the Life tree at one point. Nauseating.

By the end of the movie, you just wish that it would all end. Like nighttime in the forrest, movie-goers are going to feel like they are taking a bad trip at a neon-lit Rave. You will be begging Ewya to make the ceiling stop spinning.

The final word: You will be sickened by Avatar, but you must watch it and you won’t be able to look away. Take a few deep breaths, keep your eyes on the horizon and have a barf-bag at the ready. You’re in for a visually stimulating and vomit-inducing ride.

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“This is a stick up! You and your broad get over there you mutt, I’m taking your money, see, and even though this movie ain’t too swell, you’re gonna’ say you like it, or you’ll be pushing up daisies!” Director Michael Mann of Public Enemies.
Was that over-the top? Did I throw in way too many mobster-sayings? Did it sound cliché? Were you waiting for Bugs Bunny to jump out and chomp on a carrot? Well if you said yes to any of these questions, you might skip Public Enemies this weekend.


Despite its amazing cast of characters, a good story and the possibilities of fantastic set and costume design, Public Enemies left me scratching my head. What was it about this movie that made it virtually impossible to achieve a suspension of disbelief?

It wasn’t the plot. The story delivered.

John Dillinger, a notorious bank-robber of the early 1930’s, breaks his buddies from an Indiana jail in the opening scenes. He then goes on a crime spree in Chicago, robbing banks like a gangster should. A team of men, in dapper suits and fedora hats rob big banks in mere seconds with Dillinger at the helm and a get-away-car waiting outside. There are oozies galore and a bit of blood and guts, but it’s not too gory. With characters like Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd on board and a beautiful “black bird” female-love interest to spice up Dillinger’s down-time, I really enjoyed the story.

Character-non-development? Although the character development left a few stones unturned, this wasn’t the problem. We don’t really care why Dillinger did it; we just want to see him do it!

As history remembers him, The Robin Hood of mobsters, Dillinger refuses to take the bank customers’ money, instead only stealing from the bank vault. What a saint! The movie enlightens the audience to only one thing about Dillinger’s childhood—that it was abusive—and we learn nothing of his adult life before robbing banks. But we know this: he’s funny, he’s charming and he’s popular with the ladies, enough for me.

Maybe it was the acting. Or the over-acting of one particular actor—Christian Bale. Yes, this is part of it, we’re getting closer.


Coming off of his blockbuster Batman hit, Bale is a rising star despite his off-screen tantrums. Cast as Melvin Purvis, the FBI agent who lives to bring down criminals and was appointed by J. Edgar Hoover himself, Purvis is not a character-stretch for Bale. It’s almost as if he’s being type-cast as a good-looking justice seeker. (Anyone remember his break-out performance in Newsies? That’s when I fell in love.) But this time, Bale doesn’t have a Batman mask to hide behind and his depiction of Purvis is so intense and over-the-top that you begin to wonder if Bale’s good-guy performance is being pulled from the pages of a comic. I think he even uses the “Batman voice” a few times.


Was it Johnny Depp?

No. He was amazing.

Was it the cinematography or the lack of set and costume-design? Yes. Yes. And Yes again.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. And then I had to hide my eyes because I thought I was going to be sick. It wasn’t quite as “wonderful-nauseating” as a Borne film, and definitely not as Blair Witch grainy and intentional-amateur-esque, but something in between. It was just a mess of awful camera work that made me sea-sick and left me laughing. Everything seemed fake. I couldn’t get into any of the action scenes because I felt like at any moment, we would see the geeky guy that made movies in high school pop out from behind the camera to make his Hollywood-director’s début.

Also, there were no special effects, save one, where an FBI agent decides on a slow-motion summersault through the air before shooting one of Dillinger’s cronies. And my favorite, laughable moment, is when Dillinger is awoken by gun-shots in his Minnesota hide-out. With Depp channeling Jack-Sparrow, the Director quickly cuts to Depp’s crazy eyes when he hears the gun-shots. (My movie-going friend and I bust out laughing in the theatre.) And without going into detail—the set and costume design was weak at best. Let’s just say it was no Atonement.


I blame the Director, Michael Mann for this potential Hollywood-blockbuster’s death. The obituary for this summer-movie could read: “Born to be a Hollywood Blockbuster, Public Enemies died an amateur-disappointment that left this world on the wrong side of equilibrium. Johnny Depp and Christian Bale are it’s only survivors.” And then I’d lay a Tiger Lily at the gravesite.

So should you see this movie?

Absolutely. Ladies, if you can get both Johnny Depp and Christian Bale for the price of one Blockbuster-renter, I say go for it. But save your $17 bucks for a ticket and popcorn for Harry Potter. I’m sure it will have better special effects.

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