Susan Marie Molloy

Life in the Oasis


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Chili con Carne, Life in the Oasis, and Writing

A little bit about me, my blog, and outlook on life:

You, probably like me, have been hearing ad infinitum how blasted cold it’s been lately. And if you live in that cold weather, I feel for you. I grew up in Chicago, where wintry winds off the lake fuel the bitterly cold air temperatures. Oh, yeah, and then there was the short time when I lived about 50 miles from the Manitoba, Canada border, where it seemed winter lasts 48 weeks out of the year. So, I know cold.

It’s been cool here, too, in Florida. The air temperature actually got into the 20s*F the past couple nights. Who would’ve thought? Well, so much for escaping the Midwest’s cold winters! To warm us up, I made a large pot of homemade chili con carne, and used chunks of beef instead of ground beef, for a change of dining pace.

As we were eating, I was thinking about when I started blogging, which was about 6 years ago. How it started was when my beau suggested it. His own blogging began when he retired from his long public service career and became a real estate broker, which led to him moving into the property management business, which, after that flamed out (rather, he burned out), led him to writing about beading art and wire work. Now, his occasional blog explores and comments upon the twisted side of life in It’s a Twisted Life According to Gene.

Which brings me back to my blog. I went from one leitmotif to another, and I didn’t seem to find my comfort level. Right now, if you flip through my blog, you will only find blogs as early as 2014, and those are just book reviews. Unfortunately, I wiped out a lot of articles I wrote because, in a fit of non-confidence one day, I got rid of blogs I thought were goofy. Or stupid. Or boring.

How silly.

Yes, it took me awhile, but I found what’s comfortable for me. My blog is subtitled, “Life in the Oasis”. What it means is, that my life – my world – is rich, lush, productive, and a sanctuary, while the world outside might be a foreboding wasteland at times. Moreover, my beau – my husband – is my own oasis, where he is, and always was, the one person I could always find refuge in, comfort, and happiness when the world outside was demanding, cruel, and inhospitable.

So – life in the oasis is a place – tangible and intangible – where harmony, fertility, cheerfulness, and optimistic thinking reign.

My blog focuses on the positive aspects of life, and the things I like. I write about my mundane daily life, movie and book reviews, how my beau and I keep love flaming hot, my discoveries and adventures, our travels, tips on homemaking, and other whacky subjects. I share my poems and photographs and share your blogs that grab me. And there are a variety of topics that can’t be particularly categorized, but they make it to this blog.

Since I left my glamorous 9 to 5 job (sarcasm) this past summer, I’m working at home now doing things I love (writing, reading, creating art, homemaking, travelling, being a wife, waiting on His Lordship and Her Ladyship – our two dogs, Toby and Trixie).  My blog has gently become an oasis where I hope you will find a few minutes to stop by and discover pacific, nurturing, and hilarious topics that somehow enrich your life, as your blogs do for me.

Welcome to Life in the Oasis.
Thank you for stopping by.
Sharing is cool.
Your logical, well-thought out comments here are what I live for.

©Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.

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Films: Dark Intruder (1965) and The White Rose (1923)

For as long as I can remember, old movies interest me, including the bizarre and the silent. I introduced my beau to Ye Olde Tyme Flickers, and now watching them is a part of our relaxation time.

A couple of weeks ago, we watched “The Intruder” (1962) with William Shatner, a story of a scallywag (Shatner) who floats into the fictional southern town of Caxton to “do a little social work”. It’s based on a 1959 book by Charles Beaumont who also starred. I reviewed it here, and one of my favorite bloggers, Jan Olandese recommended a similarly bizarre film, “Dark Intruder” (1965) with Leslie Nielson. I found the trailer – it is hilarious, so check it out here – yet, I couldn’t find the movie in its entirety, but I do have it on my Must Get List, so when I can find it and watch it, I’ll review it here.

In the meantime, I found a curiously interesting, yet bizarre, D. W. Griffith film made in 1923 called, “The White Rose.” It was particularly intriguing since Neil Hamilton played in it. He was 24 years old. Sounds familiar to you? You probably know him best as Commissioner James Gordon on the television series, “Batman.”

Neil Hamilton, Actor Through the Decades

“The White Rose” is basically about two Louisiana couples – John and Marie, and Joseph and Bessie, a.k.a. “Teazie” – and how they wove their way through life and romance.

The version we watched (via YouTube) of “The White Rose” had no accompanying music, so my beau and I found that easier to comment as the story unfolded.

The story was good – Teazie has a baby out of wedlock, Joseph has a career and moral crisis, John is working on breaking out of the family tradition of laziness, and rich Marie comes to a crossroads of the heart.

Yet, what made this a bizarre film is Griffith’s use of black characters. Granted, he employed black actors to play the black characters, but insofar as the main black characters, well, he used white actors and an actress in blackface.

Strange, unsettling, phony, creepy in every way imaginable, and we just couldn’t help laughing at the absurdity. Yet, those were the times, and makes for thought-provoking analysis and conversations.

Mainly, we were interested in seeing Neil Hamilton in another role apart from his more famous Commissioner Gordon character. Leslie Neilson is another actor, where, when we hear his name, we think of those “Police Squad” and “Airplane!” movies. Yet, before them, he made a lot of movies and guest starred in television programs such as “Bonanza,” and he wasn’t always the funny man.

Leslie Neilsen, Actor Through the Decades

There are so many actors and actresses that we, today, know only in more recent media. And that’s part of the intrigue of tracing actors’ and actresses’ careers to their almost obscure career beginnings.

©Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.


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Date Night: At the Movies – “Darkest Hour” and Canned Cheese Spray

When it was time to take a break from the week’s routine, my beau and I headed out for lunch the other day. Though the weather was grey and lightly drizzling, we opted to sit outside on the veranda:

We watched a few golfers get those last couple of balls on the course right before the deluge.

Our meals were good and not so good – my beau’s sausage-pepper-and-onion sandwich on Italian bread was very enjoyable, he told me. I had a cup of mushroom-beef soup, which was outstandingly good (I want the recipe!), but my plate of nachos was something to be desired. It was the canned chili and canned cheese spray that, well, overwhelmed the chips and jalapenos, and it was dreadful.

Afterwards, we went to the show and caught the matinee of “Darkest Hour,” which is a re-telling of the first few weeks of Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s tenure. While Hitler was ramming his way through Europe and getting closer to England, Churchill had his battles with members of Parliament and his poor reputation from the Gallipoli Campaign (1915-16). In a nutshell, many people at the time thought of him as delusional and crazy for seeing that the Allies were losing (at that point), and his refusal to negotiate for peace. However, after a little stumbling and forthright determination, plus much-needed cheerleading, he was confident the public would see that the Allies could win the war.

This was a pretty good movie, and the actor (Gary Oldman) who played Churchill did a great job (although the makeup department made him to look older than what I remember Churchill looking like on film during the early days of World War II). Clementine Hozier Churchill, his wife (played by Kristin Scott), looked so much like Wallis Simpson, that I could see her playing that part if there was a movie made about Edward VIII’s abdication in 1936.

In “Darkest Hour,” there are a couple of events that are what I call “Hollywood’s Artistic License,” such as when Elizabeth Layton Nel began her job as Churchill’s secretary, and his little jaunt through the subway to meet-and-greet the public. Otherwise, the movie did an excellent job showing that Churchill had a rough road to hoe with little cooperation (at first) with Parliament and his past reputation. Yet, as all great leaders learn to do, he did what was right for Great Britain and the ultimately the Allies, and he eventually won over most.

I recommend this film for its close historical accuracy, period costumes, and grand film set.

I don’t recommend the plate of nachos at the restaurant where my beau and I ate, though.

©Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.


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Film: “The Intruder” (1962)

As is in most of the country, the weather is on the chilly side here this week. Being from the Midwest, it’s really isn’t that cold for me, but for Florida, it’s a tad on the nippy side. We’re watching our newly-planted palm trees, and confident they’ll make it. As I’m writing this, it’s 33 degrees Fahrenheit (feels like 26) with soft rain with wind gusts.

One good thing about this Arctic blast rumbling its way through Florida, is that it keeps me inside to work on the couple books I’m crafting. They’re coming along.

My beau and I took a break last night to watch an old movie we found on YouTube, by letting it suggest something to us. To say the least, what we found was eye-opening, to say the most, it was one of the most provocative old films I watched so far this year. (It’s January 4th. 😊 )

The Intruder is a 1962 black and white film starring William Shatner, and tells the story of a scallywag (Shatner) who floats into the fictional southern town of Caxton to “do a little social work”. It’s based on a 1959 book by Charles Beaumont; he also stars in the film.My beau got the film rolling, and while I was Internet-researching its background, he let out a “What the hell—?” I started listening more closely, still putting one eyeball on researching this film, and let’s say, the expletives were flying. Think of any racially charged profanities, and it had it all. It showed how horrible people can be. Truthfully, I am surprised that any film past the pre-Code era had such profanity. But then, sometimes you need to get real with reality and hit people straight on. I guess they did that in 1962.

The language and the plot, though unnerving, actually brings the reality of mob mentality, racism, prejudice, ignorance, the Klan, anti-Semitism, et cetera to the forefront.  I found certain parts scary enough and brutal that I felt my heart beating faster.

The Intruder was released for a very short time in New York City, but was pulled and it seems never gained any footing to be released on a wider scale, although at the time it was praised.

I believe this is an important film, because it shows the effects of ignorance and mob mentality, and without giving away the ending, Shatner actually did good for the townspeople by revealing to them their prejudice, ignorance, and backwardness, thus opening their eyes to his prejudices and troublemaking.

And if you are William Shatner fan, you might find that his acting in this film isn’t typical; he isn’t doing the Captain Kirk gig. In this film, he’s creepy, scary, repulsive, and filthy.

He was good in it.

©Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.


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Putting a Neat Little Bow on 2017

Thank you, Everyone! You made 2017 a good reading, writing, and blogging year.  Following are a few of my thoughts about this past year and how I’m looking forward to the new one.

I Thank You.  I can’t begin to name and thank all of you whose blogs I follow, read, comment, and learn from. The same goes for all of you who followed, shared — particularly by The Militant Negro —  and commented on my blog this past year. These lists are long. Nevertheless, thank you, thank you!  I have discovered many fabulous blogs here on WordPress, and I will say there is a lot of good talent here.  (To see whose blogs I follow, please take a look at my blogroll.)

2017’s Theme. A little over a year ago, I declared that 2017 would be a Year of Change for me. I had no idea how “changed” it would be from any other year. Silly. Silly, because every year, every day, every hour, every moment produces change of some sort. If we recognize that change exists, no matter its enormity or minuteness, or its quantifying levels, we’re halfway there to using it for good, or not. It’s up to us, nevertheless, how we accept, handle, and manage it.

Writing, Published Books, and Photography. Another change was writing more, and my skills improved. Perhaps that led to more of my poetry being published. Moreover, one of my photographs for a writing anthology’s cover was chosen, and several more photographs and my poetry, were published in it, too. I’m chuffed.

Left the Old Job.  About a year ago, I knew there were changes afoot with the ol’ job. I already planned on leaving that long, horrifying, so-called career I had.  (Oh, the stories, or book, I could write!)  Life would – and did – become blissful again without the lousy job and its surrounding aggravations.

Staying in Touch. Remember letter-writing, phone calls, emails, visiting? Yeah, me, too. That’s how I continued to stay in touch with my friends and family. As long as we’re on the subject, when did it become de rigueur to use Facebook messenger only? Give me a box of nice stationery and a good Cross pen, and I’m ready–

Social Media Change.  No longer do I feel like a dirty voyeur being force-fed pictures of dead or near-dead relatives laying in the hospital bed, the perfect marriages and angelic children, announcements of divorce when those “perfect marriages” fell apart, hatred, the passive-aggressive posts, the Woe-Is-Me Crowd, and particularly the incorrect quotes and statistics on memes, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.  I left Fakebook as a whole at the beginning of the year, returned for a five-week engagement in October-November, and left again – this time permanently (except for my author page). Those couple few weeks where I popped back in solidified my thoughts that Fakebook is a vast wasteland for The Bored, The Braggarts, and The Attention-Seekers. “Silent noise,” I call it, and I am done with it. And you know what? I’m back to my old self: calm, cheerful, creative, and relishing all the productive time within my days.

Reading.  I went crazy with reading this year.  Goodreads is a good way for me to keep track of what I read, what I like, what I want to read, and to connect with other readers and authors.  This year, I read 245 books.  How did I do this?  For one, I don’t watch television.  Cut out that crap, and voilà! you have more time to accomplish real, productive things.  At work, I was able to read in my office, in between doing nothing (it was a horrifying job with no work).  Plus, many of the books I read were a length that could easily be read within the course of the day or within an hour.  I discovered a lot of writers, too.  Expanding my horizons, you see.

The Lost Art of Thanking.  This year opened my eyes to the lack of thanking, which seems to have become a new national pastime, with its passé, quaint little politeness that went the way of good manners.  This year, I was dumbstruck at the lack of thanking for the simplest things.  People don’t thank for holding a door open for them, they don’t thank for a gift made or bought for them, they don’t thank for that unsolicited compliment you give, they don’t thank for anything.  I’m speaking in generalities here; some people do thank.  However, I notice it’s more people who don’t, than do.

Tales from Daily Life.  My beau and I are enjoying our lives more and more each day, and I shared our experiences with you during this past year.  We did a little travelling. I visited my hometownCooking is still one of my passions.  We saw a lot of new movies this year, one of which we thought was bad, but most we liked.  Nevertheless, there’s a lot to do and see in our world.  Yes, there was a lot more that happened in 2017, and much of it was good,  and some not.  

Peeking into 2018.  I’ll continue to share my experiences, and keep the positive theme of my blog.  Something new is that I plan to set aside a day each week to share a blog or two of yours that I find inspirational, educational, or just plain re-bloggable.  I’m working on three (yes, three!) books to be published this year.  I’ll be gardening more.  Golfing is in sight for me.  I have some art projects that I’ll finish.  I plan to re-acquaint myself with the art of sushi-making at home.

I hope you had a good, productive, happy, and healthy year, and I wish for you the type of 2018 you want and deserve.

Tonight my beau and I are headed to a New Year’s Eve party, and I’m looking forward to turning the page on the ol’ calendar.

Be happy you’re alive. Be happy you have today. Look forward to tomorrow.

See you next year (ha ha ha).

As ever,

Susan

To see what was up in 2016, read “Wrapping Up 2016.”