Susan Marie Molloy

Life in the Oasis


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Date Night: At the Movies – The Man Who Invented Christmas

The past couple of days have been cool and grey, with off-and-on rain. It led my beau and me to an early show and a trip to the bookstore.

We went to see the movie, The Man Who Invented Christmas, a story about how Charles Dickens came around to writing the blockbuster novella, A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost-Story of Christmas (a.k.a. A Christmas Carol, published in 1843). Overall, the acting was good, the sets, scenery, and costumes were just right, and the story was fairly true to the events leading up to, and culminating in, the publication of the story.

Leave it to me to find the few “embellishments,” such as the availability of the penny dreadful, Varney the Vampire, or the Feast of Blood, used as a prop in the movie. True, Varney wasn’t available until about two years after the publication of A Christmas Carol, but this was a film, not a documentary, so there’s the creative license that can be overlooked.

It is a good movie, and it’s a movie kids can go see. There wasn’t any bad language, unless you consider “bloody” a swear word. (It is considered so in England.) There is no nudity, although there are bedroom scenes where Charles and his wife, Catherine, are in bed, but they are fully clothed and nothing adult goes on except maybe a peck on the check and a “Good Night.”

We see how a writer such as Dickens goes through the process of gathering ideas, falling back on experiences, and even collecting names for characters. The way it was presented in the movie was good; entertainingly good.

We ended our evening with a trip to the bookstore, where we picked up a copy of A Christmas Carol and a few other books. We need to go back today. I accidently bought a book that I bought a few weeks ago, and I need to return it.

Returning to the topic of The Man Who Invented Christmas: Did Dickens really invent Christmas? I don’t know. By the time he wrote it, England was already, albeit slowly, rediscovering the holiday. Interest in sending Christmas cards was already increasing (people had done cards well before the Victorian years), and although the Christmas tree saw its days in England as early at the 17th century, interest was reborn with its re-introduction by Prince Albert.

A Christmas Carol has never been out of print, and there are probably so many adaptations too numerous to list.  Perhaps the one thing Dickens saved was people’s awareness and sensibilities about how they treat other people, not only during the Christmas season, but throughout the year.

©2017 Susan Marie Molloy, and all works within.

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Date Night: At the Movies – Last Flag Flying

  1. Yesterday morning, I worked in our bead shop after having a bowl of Raisin Bran® and Cheerios® with a light spritz of skim milk. I was on my third room temperature cup of black joe, and was tired of taking photographs of beads and writing product descriptions.

My beau remarked, as he was pouring his next cup of java, “You want to go to the show? What time? Ten? One? Fo–?”

“One,” and I rushed to comb my hair and put on my face (Chicago lingo for putting on make-up).

We bought our tickets at the theater window, and since there was an hour and a half before the show started, we treated ourselves to lunch at a restaurant in the town square. Then we went to the show—

Last Flag Flying” was the movie, and wouldn’t you know it: I liked it very much (despite the vulgar language. My beau told me that, yes, men talk that way.) Basically, the story is about a father who looked up his two closest buddies in the service during Viet Nam, and the three go on a very personal mission. The way I saw it, this mission was three-fold: humanistic, spiritual, and patriotic. The three actors – Steve Carrell, Bryan Cranston, and Laurence Fishburne – worked beautifully together. Their characters were believable, I felt the camaraderie that skipped three decades without missing a beat (almost), and darn it, I want a sequel.

Without giving away the plot, this movie addressed trust, love, parenting, friendship, spirituality, and, well, men being men. That is refreshing, a movie that depicts men as men and not milk toast wimpy males. I like that.

The most hysterical scene in the movie was when Carrel, Fishburne, and Cranston where talking and laughing to beat the band. I – along with most of the audience – laughed along with them. It was worth the tears in my eyes and the hearty laughing. In fact, that scene reminded me of the 1930 Laurel and Hardy movie, “Blotto,” where they were laughing hysterically, thinking they were drinking wine, but Anita Garvin clandestinely replaced the wine with tea. Good times.  Innocent fun.

All in all, I highly recommend seeing “Last Flag Flying.”

I told my beau that the Bryan Cranston character (“Sal Nealon”) reminded me so much of him.

He noticed that, too.

©2017 Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.


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Date Night: At the Movies – Murder on the Orient Express

Last Friday, we were lucky enough to get tickets to see the latest film interpretation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. Lucky? It’s because the line was forming fast. We haven’t been to a show in a long time where a line formed at all (see my review of Dunkirk), let alone all the seats in the theater being filled. That was, in my mind, a good sign.

This was a very good adaptation of the story. I particularly liked Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot, with his outrageous moustache, A-type personality, wicked sense of humor, and French-Belgian accent. As compared to Albert Finney’s role as Poirot in 1974, both actors did equally well. They represented the character just right, as I imagined him in the several Poirot books I read.

Moreover, the current movie followed the book’s plot well. Although I very much like the way the dénouement is treated in the 1974 version, the period fashion and hairstyles in the 2017 version was somewhat better, and truer to the 1930s setting.  However, I had a little difficulty with the train’s engine (it’s a boiler on wheels, you know) hitting and being buried by the snowbank and not cracking. In the book (as I remember) and in the 1974 version, the super-hot engine wasn’t buried by the avalanche.

Since then, we tracked down a few television versions of Murder on the Orient Express, and some were awful: slow, stiff, an unemotional Poirot, and wacky scenes I don’t remember in the book.

This calls for me to dig out my copy of Murder on the Orient Express and re-read it. It’s on my Christmas Vacation Reading List.

©2017 Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.


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Date Night: At the Movies – Dunkirk

Though the skies were darkening up and the thunder was pounding in the distance, I shortened up the workday and headed out for supper and a movie.

Low sodium soy sauce was available at our table. Half the sodium, but one still has a tendency to use more for flavor — so maybe one doesn’t really cut back on sodium?

First stop was a Japanese Steakhouse for beef teriyaki and pork sayogoshi.  The atmosphere was peaceful and happy with gentle piped-in music.  That is, until a young kid let out a blood-curdling, Janet Leigh-worthy scream.  It wasn’t apparent where the screaming came from, but when a hibachi table burst into flames to my right, and those flames licking well above the dividing wall, the “hidden” kid let out another scream.  Kid was scared of the fire, the adults were laughing—

“No more fire.  No more fire,” the blue-capped chef assured all.  And everyone at the table laughed again.

The poster in the lobby.

With our meal finished, we walked down the street to the show.  We had advance tickets to see the new World War II film, “Dunkirk.”  I was excited to see it, as I read that it was darn good.  The film tries tells the true story of over 325,000 English and French troops who were penned in at Dunkirk, France in 1940 by the Germans and the small boat rescue of said troops by civilians, where the governments couldn’t produce.

I enjoyed the cinematography, and what scenes were computer generated were well done.  Yet, overall, the film left me somewhat flat; the ending just didn’t make me stand up and cheer (as some war pictures do for me) – though in real life, this rescue was what Winston Churchill called “a miracle.”  The film didn’t convey that.

This movie was a dud for me.

It will be interesting how the rest of the movie-going public assesses “Dunkirk” when it’s released tomorrow, July 21st.

©Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.


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Date Night: At the Movies – My Cousin Rachel

This week, we are at our second home (soon to be our forever home towards the end of the year).

We are busy with painting the rooms. The closets are a lot of work because of the tight quarters. In between painting, running to The Home Depot for more paint and all that, we found a little time to break for an afternoon at the show.

We went to see “My Cousin Rachel,” an adaptation of one of my favorite author’s (Daphne du Maurier) works by the same title. You might know her works from such classics as “The Birds,” “Jamaica Inn,” “Rebecca,” among others.

This movie was pretty good. I liked the period clothing and milieu, in particular. The ending was shocking and puzzling. At this point, I don’t know how well this film follows the book.

After my beau and I saw the movie, we stopped at the book store where I picked up a copy of “My Cousin Rachael.” It’s now on my reading list; a review will go up on Goodreads (maybe here, too) when I get around to reading it.

©2017 Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.