Archives: Just for Fun

Grab Bag: As You Wish

For this month’s grab bag, let’s talk about a behind-the-scenes account of one of the most beloved movies of the 20th century: The Princess Bride.


What it’s about: Actor Cary Elwes, who stars in this romantic adventure comedy as the daring Westley, and Joe Layden pull back the curtain for an entertaining read. Readers ride along for the pre-production through the movie release and more. What was it like working with Andre the Giant (Fezzik)? How much of the famed sword fight was real? Did Elwes and Robin Wright (Buttercup) get along?

What I liked: Elwes digs deep into memory and research to bring us this heartwarming memoir of the movie and its impact on fans. He provides enough story-behind-the-story detail that will spur yet another watching with fresh eyes.

And this isn’t a tawdry tell-all that will spoil a fan’s affection for this classic. Elwes writes with obvious care and love.

I’m not crazy about: Having said that, one does wonder if the book hands us a glossed-over account. Almost no mention of any negative element makes its way onto the page. Is it possible that this entire production was that amicable behind the scenes? Again, no real complaints here, but I did wonder.

The bottom line: As You Wish doesn’t disappoint. I breathed a sigh of relief when I finished knowing that one of my favorite movies is even more special to the cast and crew than I realized. The anecdotes prove interesting, and Westley (Elwes) once again saves the day.

What about you? Which movie would you choose if you could read an actor’s account?




Review: Guys and Dolls

What are your favorite musicals? …The ones you go back to time after time–movie versions, revivals, whatever form?

To date, my list sits short and sweet: Singin’ in the Rain, Holiday Inn, Les Miserables, and Guys and Dolls.


So when a local production company rolled out their version of Guys and Dolls, the classic comedy musical flush with the shenanigans of high rollers in New York, I was all over it.

True, this version’s heritage runs long and laud-worthy. The 1950s movie starring Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando reigns as my favorite. And the soundtrack for the 1992 Broadway revival stands the test of time.

That’s a high bar.

I can say gleefully that the cast of the Brownwood Lyric Theatre’s Guys and Dolls more than held their own. From the sets and costumes to the actors and their vocal performances, this version impressed. Bigger-city theatres would be proud to produce a musical of this quality.

Equally impressive stands the Lyric theater itself. A star of Brownwood, Texas from 1914, last year it celebrated its 100th anniversary and unveiled a massive renovation. The theater is gorgeous, and central Texas can count itself lucky to enjoy such a beautiful theater boasting standout perfomances. Read more here: Lyric’s reopening

How about you? Do you like musicals? Which ones?


How ‘Bout a Thanksgiving Haiku (or Two)?

It’s a Grab Bag Monday! Get ready for anything on the fourth Monday of each month.

With Thanksgiving this week and my sassy mood right now, I’m snagging a favorite activity from this blog’s past: the haiku.

photo: Jeff Stevens

photo: Jeff Stevens

What’s that? You don’t automatically think of five/seven/five syllables of poetry when Thanksgiving rolls around? Well, me either. Except right now. Let’s roll.

My turkey’s wishbone…

“What do you wish for, wishbone?”



Sleepy, droopy eyes

Turkey exacts revenge from

the grave: Tryptophan.

What about you? Care to add your Thanksgiving haiku? (And yes, I’m aware that rhymes).

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!




All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned from Hockey Fights

It’s a Grab Bag Monday! You never know what’s going show up here.

Okay, the post title exaggerates, but it holds some merit. Hear me out.

photo by Amanda via Flickr

photo by Amanda via Flickr

I didn’t want to like hockey. I didn’t. My first twenty years did not suffer from a lack of hockey fandom.

But two things happened: 1) I dated David, my future, wonderful husband. He liked hockey. I thought, “If this sport will take over the TV for many nights for the rest of my life, I’d better give it a shot.” No pun intended. If you’re a hockey fan, you’ll get that.

2) After I watched a couple of seasons on TV with mild interest, we went to an NHL game. Up close and personal: Reunion Arena, downtown Dallas, Texas. It’s next-to-impossible not to get caught up in a good live hockey game, especially when surrounded by rowdy Texans.

And you know what else? (whispering) I liked the fights. Still do.

Never had I enjoyed fighting, but this proved fascinating. And I’ve learned things from hockey fights that apply to everyday, skateless life:

Stick up for each other.  Hockey fights often start after one player did another player wrong. Maybe a guy inflicted an illegal hit on your teammate that escaped the refs’ whistle. Maybe he targeted a player nursing an injury. Whatever the injustice, teammates stick up for each other. The same can be true in real life. We all have our family, our gang, our homies, our posse, if you will. We care about these people, and we want to protect them. Mess with one, mess with all.  True, you probably don’t need a mean right hook to settle the score, but you get the point. Loyalty matters.

Be controlled You wouldn’t know it as a spectator, but some fights (not all) are mutually planned vs. a spontaneous eruption. Players are known to make an appointment with each other to fight, so to speak. This “appointment” may be agreed upon only seconds ahead of time. It may come due after a face off or the next stoppage of play, but at the chosen time–bam! There they go. We can be choosy as well when we pick our battles. We don’t have to lash out at the first or at every provocation. We can respond only when we deem necessary.

Fight Fair. Hockey fights hold to unwritten rules of etiquette. Non-hockey friends and family shoot me skeptical looks when I insist this. To most it resembles a merciless melee. But fans know better. For example, see the picture above? As usual, they’ve thrown off their gloves so that it’s not like a Nerf battle (Confession: I secretly want to perfect the throwing of the gloves, but not like this player).

But notice these other details: Their helmets still cover their noggins, their sweaters aren’t pulled over the heads so as to blind them, they’re not pinned against the boards (the sides), and both still stand facing each other. Right now it’s a fair, evenly-matched fight. The officials will send them to the penalty box, make no mistake, but they’ll referee until someone’s at a disadvantage. …One yanks a sweater or either goes down, etc. We, too, can fight fair. When you have a beef with someone, refrain from acting trickster-like. Man- or woman-up and deal with them directly and fairly.

And if all else fails, call me. I’ll throw down my gloves for you.

Spring = Kolaches, of course

There’s a lot to love about spring. Greening grass, budding trees, sweetly-scented flowers. No matter where you live, it’s enough to invite the mind to wander deliciously and dream of beautiful days.

ShootstarI grew up in Texas and live now in New Mexico, so I’ve had a variety of things to appreciate about spring in these two states.

…Never mind that with spring in New Mexico, temperatures often flirt with the 90-degree range in February or that March through May is referred to affectionately as “the windy season.” (Here’s a secret: “windy” could mean a 25-mile-an-hour “breeze” to a 60-mile-an-hour “stiff breeze.” Forget your hairdo that day.)

…Or that in Texas, the tornado siren doubles as the neighborhood’s call to prayer.

Nope, never mind all of that. There are plenty of things to love about spring. Here’s a short list of mine:

1. Birds singing outside all day long, which makes me think of…

2. Goosebump-free coffee-sipping outside in my favorite coffee house’s garden, which makes me think of…

3. Planting a few vegetables and flowers, which makes me think of…

4. Texas bluebonnets, which makes me think of…


5. Central Texas and its green, rolling prairies and hills, which makes me think of…

6. Kolaches from West, Texas. (Not West Texas, mind you. West, Texas, which is in Central Texas, naturally.)

Yep, like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, much of my life circles ’round to kolaches – the slightly sweet, pillowy yeast roll-and-fruit pastry. Don’t ask me why. But if you try them, you’ll know.

Now, please tell me that your mind meanders like a winding stream too. I can’t be the only one.

Happy Kolache…I mean, Spring!

Let’s talk: What do you like about spring in your area?