Life definitely has a habit of getting in the way of best laid plans and it certainly did for Laura so our last posts of the alphabet will be a little too Barbara heavy. Hopefully things even out next month.

Reading Challenges: (luckily there were no X or Z challenges)

W: Pick at least one word from your book that appeals to you and use while talking to friends.

Barbara – I recently read an article by Susie Dent at the Guardian who talked about words that are no longer in our daily usage such as cacklefarts (eggs), snottingers (hankies) and others but the one word she wants to bring back into usage (and it should be) is respair: fresh hope, the recovery from despair. 

Laura and I have both always been fond of special words. When we didn’t live in the same city, many years ago, she used to call me at work and assign a word to me and we’d both have to use it during our work day. I wish she had given me cacklefarts; now that would have been a challenge. But for this challenge I particularly liked the word jubilant, chiefly because of the definition given it by a character in a book I was reading: “jubilant: makes you feel you finally possess everything you’ve always wanted, you were that happy.” I suspect that is how I will feel if I ever hear I’m going to be a grandma. Another word I liked is in the book I am currently reading, “Young Jane Young” by Gabrielle Zevin. The word is “peeve” as in pet peeve. The reason I liked it so much is that the character in the book hopes to get a pet so that she can say “this is my pet, Peeve.” Boy, do I want to do that!

Y: Challenge yourself to read one book that was nominated or a finalist for any literary award the year you were born.

Barbara: I haven’t done that one yet since I’m in so many book clubs and my to-be-read list is huge, but I’ve got one on my list (you’ll just have to guess at the year)!

New Movie: Val

Laura: The 2021 documentary Val is a compilation of more than 40 years of Val Kilmer’s documentation of his own life and craft. Val and his two brothers had thousands of hours of footage from 16mm home movies they made. Those projects, together with scenes from many of the movies Val was in, present a montage of his life and an insight into the man and the actor. Yes, he comes across as a vain and self-absorbed person but an interesting and intelligent one as well. It’s sad that we now see the results of his bout with throat cancer: he has to press a button on his throat to speak and his voice is unsettling and robotic. (The film is mostly narrated by his son.) But it doesn’t stop him from public appearances, where his fans continue to show him love and respect. I enjoyed this documentary and felt admiration for his spirit. And…I just found out that Val Kilmer used voice AI to speak in the current hit movie Maverick. They were able to dub him with his own voice. When I see this movie, I’m definitely going to pay attention to that remarkable technical achievement.

New Author:  Yara Zgheib

Barbara: I’ve read several books revolving around eating disorders but “The Girls at 17 Swann Street” was the one that affected me the most. It is a heart wrenching novel, more impactful than the movies I saw because it went into more detail about all the different ways it affects the body and your loved ones. The author had anorexia so that could be the reason it was written so realistically and had such an impact.

New documentary – Wrinkles the Clown

This is one that both Laura and I watched together. OMG, talk about disturbing! Wrinkles is a clown that wears a horrible and freakishly scary mask but the thing that makes this story so horrifying is that parents call him to come to their homes to scare their children who are misbehaving. Who would do that?! You can hear how scared the kids are when they play audio of the parent making the phone call to Wrinkles. A child psychologist stated that he thought it was a form of emotional abuse and we agreed with him. Also disturbing were the people, including some kids, who found it “cool”; one preteen made a similar mask and was aspiring to be like Wrinkles. We don’t know about you, but we’ll be checking under our beds for the next couple of days!

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