Movie Reviews

Haven't done this in awhile - but then, have been watching more series than movies!

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I watched Akeelah and the Bee last weekend. I’d heard about it when I started my Starbucks obsession last fall, and my mom had free tickets, but by the time she had time, it wasn’t in the theaters any longer. So I put it in my queue, and Blockbuster sent it to me instead of Supernatural.
It was good! IT was about a little girl from a poor, rundown school. The principal wants the schoolboard to hear something GOOD about the school for a change, and he wants to start with a spelling bee. Akeelah doesn’t want to be labeled a “schoolgirl” by her peers, so the principal blackmails her into the competition. She handily beats kids who can’t spell words like “grovel,” but finds no joy into it, till she meets her coach, a former spelling bee champion played by Laurence Fishburne.
Their relationship is the heart of the movie, but the teacher in me liked the underdog story. I would show it to my class, but it had a four letter word, and ”ass” two times. Tell me why they had to stick bad words in a PG movie?

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Just My Luck was a cute romantic comedy. I didn’t really like how it started, and a little slapstick goes far, but I did like the ending, though I would have had her angst over her decision a little longer.

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I bought The Miracle Match because Gerard Butler was in it, and it had such limited release, I didn’t think Blockbuster would have it. It’s about a 1950 soccer team in St. Louis who are recruited to represent the US in the World Cup, I think it is.
If you’ve seen one underdog sports movie, you’ve seen this one. Gerry showed some pretty athletic moves as the team goalie, and it was cute how he spoke in an American accent, but unless you’re a Gerry fan or a soccer fan….

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Beowulf and Grendal is…interesting. Gorgeous scenery, indecipherable dialogue. I need to watch it again with the subtitles. Good message about tolerance, and Gerry looked gooooooood. Big. Broad shouldered, big hands. Formidable. Lots of cussing. More action than I expected. Mixed review, but if you’re a Gerry fan, it’s not to be missed! I will probably watch it again today if Supernatural doesn’t come.

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I’ve also been watching The Unit, which, if you’re writing military heroes, is a great resource. You see what kind of men they are, what kind of women they love (my favorite part) and the missions they go on.

What have you seen lately?

Grey's Anatomy - spoilers from last night

I did not like Grey's Anatomy last night.

I know, shocker. But it felt - off a beat. Just not right.

I loved that Callie rode to Meredith's rescue, but don't you think George would have loved her all the more if he knew she'd covered for his friend???

Alex has shown no growth.

Cristina is SO selfish.

I get that Bailey is upset with Izzy, but the scene where she goes to the house fell flat. I know Izzy is in a place now where she's not ready to fight back, and I know Bailey isn't one to show her emotions, but it just felt - I guess I just would have done it differently. I may, later, too!

And as much as I loved seeing McSteamy (OMG OMG OMG, WHY didn't I tape this show instead of Supernatural?) that felt like a huge cop-out. Derek can't be the bad guy for leaving his wife now. Well, he wasn't a bad guy for leaving his wife, necessarily. He was a wienie for not making the right choice in the first place.

So, did you see it? Did you like it? Am I skewed because I was so invested in the Denny/Izzy story that now is so back-burnered?

Sorry I couldn't find any pics of him towel-clad. I bet I'll be able to find them tomorrow!

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Insane, I tell you!

Yesterday was insane. The boy woke up when I was paying bills (otherwise I would have been gone already) and his hand was swollen and blotchy. First thought - spider bite. Second thought - better call in FAST to get a sub! They don't like us to call in after 6:30 because the likelihood of the position being filled is low. SO I called my principal - voicemail. Called subfinder. Called Cindi - voicemail. Called school. No answer. Wrote out emergency lesson plans and emailed them to two members of my unit. Called school again - finally got an answer, told them what was going on.

Then I had to wait an hour for the dr's office to open. Called at 8:30 - busy. Called. Called. Finally got an appt at 10:30. Okay, could relax. I watched an hour of Beowulf and Grendal, then we left so I could go by the post office and the cleaners on the way (well, not really on the way, since the dr is just across the hwy, but you know what I mean.) Dropped off clothes, was longer in the post office, dropped $30 to mail a ms and two contest entries.

Went to dr, waited FOREVER. Finished reading my RWR and wrote two pages in my little pirate notebook. The boy came out, saying the dr thought it was an allergic reaction to a skeeter bite, and for him to take Benadryl. If that didn't work, she'd prescribed an antibiotic. So to reward ourselves for our freaked out morning, we went to Chick-Fil-A, came home and ate while watching AMC, since Supernatural STILL isn't here!

The boy is over 6 ft tall, and the Benadryl knocked him on his butt. I watched the rest of Beowulf and he watched Lost and played on the computer while I napped and finished reading What, No Roses?

I got up and checked my email to find that, probably 5 minutes after the last time I checked my email, my agent had emailed asking for copies of my ms.

Only I didn't even have a full ream of paper!

I ran to WalMart and dropped ANOTHER $30 on paper (8 mss worth of 24 lb) and got myself Halloween cookies as a reward. Spent the next FOUR HOURS printing 8 mss. I was just praying the toner would hold out. So today I have to run back to the post office with four flat rate boxes and spend ANOTHER $30. (This is all pre-GH entry, too!)

I saw Bones, kind of, because of the printing, and watched the first two episodes of The Unit (which is GREAT if you're writing Special Forces!) Writing? Other than the two pages in the dr's office, I wrote my last newsletter article as librarian (YAY) and two blogs.

Seriously, going to work would have been less stressful!

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Seriously? Heather Locklear? Seriously.

As much as I hated Morrigan's Cross, I LOVED Angels Fall. I read on RT that they're making it into a movie for Lifetime. HURRAH!

With Heather Locklear as the heroine.


NOT that I'm ageist, but, dude, she's 45. The heroine was significantly younger.

The hero is this guy, who admittedly looks pretty good in this pic, but in most of the other pictures I saw, looks pretty smarmy.

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Why don't they let ME cast movies? I promise they wouldn't all be Gerard Butler/George Clooney/Denny Duquette. Though, you know, they'd be my top three choices. And the heroines would be Inara from Firefly, the actress from Rent, Veronica Mars, maybe Charisma Carpenter.

Seriously, I'd be really good at it.

BTW, What, No Roses is pretty darn good. I'd enjoyed A Connecticut Fashionista in King Arthur's Court, so I picked up this one, too, and I'm not disappointed. Time travel to the 1920s. Fun! I liked the talking rat in Michelle Rowen's Angel with Attitude better, though.

No Supernatural yesterday, but I did get Beowulf and Grendel. I need a mental health/movie day.

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The Golden Heart

So, it’s that time again…the GH and Rita entry forms are up on the National website. Time to decide if entering is worth the $50 for a contest with great prestige but no feedback.

I’m entering Beneath the Surface. I need to rewrite the synopsis to give it more punch, but other than that, it’s ready to go.

I want to enter Alex, though it’s not done. I don’t know if I want to put myself under the pressure to finish it in under 2 months. Plus, it’s untested. It hasn’t been out to a contest, and at this point, not even to my critique group. Or Trish or JoAnn for that matter. And $50 is a lot of money for something that hasn’t shown success.

Do you plan to enter? What helps you decide if you should enter a manuscript? What do you do to prepare your entries?

I hope these DVDs come today.

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Morrigan's Cross

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Y'all know me. I love Nora. You also know I never write bad reviews. I finished reading Morrigan’s Cross this weekend. Took me a long time, and not just because the print was microscopic. (That could have been what made me cranky. Come on, folks, you know Nora's good for it - add a couple extra pages, an extra dollar to the cost of the book. SHEESH!)

It was a good story, the kind you find yourself thinking about at different points in the day, but I had one major quibble.

I hated the heroine. HATED. Loathed. Despised. She was such a know-it-all, the best fighter, the best thinker, the best WHATEVER. God, I couldn’t stand her. (Did you pick up on that? Subtlety is not my thing.)

Because of this, I never got a handle on the hero. He was vague and he was quiet and he was a sorcerer. And he was from the 12th century. And his name was Hoyt. Seriously. But we hardly ever got to know him. Though I knew enough that the heroine didn’t deserve him.

The other thing I didn’t like was how easily everyone jumped on the mission (a big vampire war). Hoyt says jump, and everyone jumps, no quibbling, no matter what they had to give up. It was…I dunno.

JoAnn and I were talking about it and we agreed it’s a very stream-of-consciousness book, like we’re in Nora’s head when she’s coming up with the story.

I will read the rest of the series, which is why I struggled through Glenna’s story. But she better not be the best WHATEVER in those books, too.


I have been a car enthusiast for as long as I can remember. Does anyone remember the little fortune telling game you’d play with your friends, where you’d fold the paper, then stick your fingers in it? You’d either have colors or numbers that you’d choose, and it would tell you what kind of car you’d have, and who you’d marry?

I was always very specific on the cars – usually based on the cars Charlie’s Angels drove.

My brother is a muscle car guy. The first car he bought was a 1968 Pontiac Firebird. In 1989.

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He later sold it to pay for his wife’s college. She promised to buy him a new one.

I love Dean’s car in Supernatural, a 1967 Chevy Impala.

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Or Angel’s, a 1967 Pontiac GTX. Only his is black.

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My personal preference runs to classic SUVs, like Keanu Reeves’s car in Speed. Was my heart broken when he left it on the street with the door open! I couldn’t find an actual picture. His is silver.

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I’ve mentioned I have a 1987 Land Cruiser, but I would love a 1976 Cherokee, complete with the Indian Head decal.

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Are you a car girl? Do you drive down the street and know what kind of car everyone has? What’s your dream car?

Ten Things

My other news yesterday was that I got a new kitten. I got out of the car at work and I heard a kitten crying. I told my friend Cindi, who arrived at the same time, and she said, "No, it's a bird." But I was sure. I walked across the street and there was a little orange and white kitten in the tree. I got him down but didn't know what to do with him. I didn't want him hit by a car, so I took him to my classroom and went to find one of my students' parents to babysit him till the end of the day.

I'm naming him DD - Denny Duquette. I'll have pictures as soon as the dh fixes my camera!


1) Sonic commercials
2) stress
3) being late for something
4) cramps
5) messes
6) my commute and the idiot drivers I encounter along the way
7) cooking and grocery shopping
8) talking on the phone
9) having to explain jokes
10) money issues


1) kittens
2) getting good mail
3) Diet Coke with Lime
4) Sunday breakfasts with my guys
5) bad movies
6) cold fronts
7) reading in the tub
8) flowers
9) classic SUVs
10) my kids

Hope I can finish Hot Shot this weekend!!!

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Late-Breaking News!!!!

The dh called me at work today, which he never does. I was worried, but I shouldn't be. He just called to tell me he heard the Emmy nominations.

He got THREE nominations this year!!!!

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He loved winning last year - I'm so glad he'll get another shot!

Hard Work - Its Own Reward?

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At my chapter meeting this week, we had two authors selling their new releases. One was signing her very first book, one was signing her first book in ten years.

When I joined SARA ten years ago, one was struggling, where I am now. I would sit and listen to her good news/bad news, depending on the month, and I would hope for her. The other author was doing well, selling historicals consistently.

Then, for ten years, nothing. The published author focused on her other business, her day job, until writing pulled her back about two years ago. The unpublished author watched other writer friends sell and sell, and she turned back to her day job. But in the past couple of years, her muse called and she answered.

The published author emailed me one day last summer, out of the blue, to invite me to join her critique group. Shortly after that, she got a contract for a mystery series. (NOT that I had anything to do with that – are you kidding? I think I finally had the nerve to critique her last week, after a year of the meetings!) But I watched her work her butt off, just like any other writer.

Wednesday night, at the meeting, she hugged me and said she loved working with me, that our hard work – on both our behalf – would pay off.

I looked at these two women and thought, “You know? It’s important to be a writer who works hard.” I don’t want to be a dilettante. I want to have the reputation of a writer who works hard, like these two women did. I want to have a reputation for persistence and determination and drive, like these two women have.

I know there are a lot of us hard working writers out there, and it’s good. It’s hard, it’s frustrating, but it’s good. It means something. Don’t ask me what! But it means something to someone, maybe someone watching us from afar, maybe for our own satisfaction.

Maybe I’m rationalizing, but I feel more at peace than I have in awhile. I think it has to do with this realization.

Oh, and I REMEMBERED! The scene with Hot Shot! I really hope to finish it up this weekend.

Seriously, if you made his shirt and helmet yellow, this could be Gabe.

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Last weekend at my critique group, we worked on Surface, and my cps said the emotional stakes weren't high enough. My characters are estranged, but they didn't have a really good, clear reason. One of my cps mentioned that Surface reminded her of an Audioslave song, "Doesn't Remind Me." Being the obsessive person I am, I bought it from iTunes and put it on my Surface soundtrack. I was driving home Tuesday, listening to it over and over, and got this visual of my heroine sitting in the office of an infertility specialist, waiting for Adrian, who forgot and didn't show up. This is the straw, the last promise broken that she's able to endure and her reason for leaving. He thinks her reason is a whole other thing, though they fight about the appointment.

I don't think I would have come up with that if not for the zone I was in for that song.

The other song on that soundtrack that hit me yesterday was Tom Petty's "Running Down a Dream." I've heard that song thousands of times - my brother used to play it every morning when he lived at home, it was his wake up song. But yesterday, the words, "Running down a dream/it never would come to me" hit me right between the eyes. I'd put the song on there because Adrian is chasing his dream. But yesterday it spoke to my dream.

What music has impacted you or your writing?

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WHY didn't I get UP???

This explains a lot. And will make it a VERY long day. Plus I'm talking at SARA tonight.

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I opened Hot Shot last night for the first time in over a week (Open House knocked me on my butt, and then I was working on Surface this weekend.) I read the scene, a new scene where Peyton visits her husband's grave. Good, emotional, only...I don't remember what I wanted to do with that scene. I mean, clearly she's going to realize it's time to move on, that she needs the courage to move on, but did I, like, expect her to hear Dan's voice or something? So, frustrated, I told Trish and Stacy, and then I went to bed.

Where I realized what I meant to do.

Did I get up and write it down?

What do you think?

Usually if I repeat it to myself over and over I won't forget it.

Guess what? Yup, forgot it. So will concentrate on the way to work. Hope I won't forget it again once I remember it, before I can write it down!

Anyone see Smith last night? I forgot Simon Baker was going to be in it. He was surfing, and DAY-um!

In honor of his skills:

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(Have you noticed I haven't been very faithful? Once I'm JUST working on Alex, hopefully I can be faithful again.)

What I Didn't Do This Weekend

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I didn't clean house.

I didn't cook.

I didn't change my purse.

I didn't change my toenail polish.

I didn't color my roots.

I didn't work on Hot Shot.

I didn't work on Alex.

I didn't watch any DVDs.

I didn't call my brother.

I didn't sit in my patio chair.

What didn't you do this weekend?

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I think I literally lost my mind a little on Friday.

I haven't been happy with my classroom layout this year. It's too restricting, and with one of my students in a wheelchair, not very accessible. We're stuck in our desks most of the time, and I don't like that. So on Friday afternoon, I decided to do an Extreme Makeover. I took away the desks, and we're going to use tables. Which means we had to find homes for stuff that was in the desks. So I went to Big Lots after school and bought baskets. And then I went to JoAnn Fabric on Saturday morning and got tablecloths. My thought was to make it more homey looking. Then I got out my fall decorations, and I'm taking about half of them to school. Then yesterday I went to Dollar General and got more baskets. (I may take back some of the ones I got at Big Lots.)

But here's the thing. I want to have it ready when the kids walk in this morning. I think the earliest I can get in my room is 7. The kids come in at 7:45. I'm hoping I can get it done!

Also in the insanity department - I was at critique till FOUR on Saturday. Great ideas flowed. I had my butt in the chair till almost 10 last night, making changes to Surface, but it's much better. I've decided to enter it in the GH.

In honor of the book, here's Adrian.

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Contests again

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I'm giving a talk to SARA on contests this week. My bit includes which contests to enter and why, and then the coordinator's perspective and the judges' perspective.

I thought for which contests and why, I would talk about them deciding what they wanted from a contest, and give them the categories of longer contests, contests with no synopses, electronic contests and contests with more prestige.

For coordinator's perspective, I'm completely blank. I insisted on doing this part, and I don't even remember why. I think I wanted to tell them what the coordinator's job is like so they can see that.

For judges' perspective, I'll talk about font (Trish J PARTICULARLY likes 50 pages in TNR 12), proofreading, double checking that all the pages are there, then going into the story itself - consistent characters, cliches, POV.

So....I'd like a little help. What can I add?

Trish M and I are both a little obsessed with Supernatural right now.

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Y'all, I stink at decisions. I waffle, I debate, I lie awake at night, I stress six ways from Sunday.

I had a big decision to make this past couple of weeks. I initiated the change, and then when the ball came back in my court, I didn't really know what I wanted. On the one hand, there was good and bad, and on the other hand there was good and bad. Classic dilemma, come to think about it, based on what we're learning in class. (Our current theme is risk and consequence.) I took a risk, I had a consequence that involved taking another risk.

I chose the risk that was least disruptive to my life. My dh says I fear change. Well, who doesn't?

I'm thinking about entering contests again. Only which contests and which books? Decisions.

I'm awake this early on a Saturday morning after being up past midnight to get my son from a dance because I have other, less important decisions to make. (And it's bloody hot! 80 degrees at 7 AM!) Like, should I buy Supernatural on DVD from or just wait till Blockbuster decides to send it to me because my Blockbuster store didn't have it. (Though Hollywood Video might...) Because, see, if I buy it from, I'll get a good price, but still have to wait. For $10 more, I can get it from Walmart today.

I'm also debating going to JoAnn Fabric before my critique group. See, I redesigned my class yesterday and I need some little baskets and stuff. Never mind that I spent $50 on this yesterday at Big Lots. I want what I want. And I also need to go by Lakeshore to get some charts. Critique is 45 minutes away and starts at 10. Both stores open at 9. Oh, oh, AND I just drank my last Diet Coke with Lime, so I have to go by and get a bottle somewhere.

You know I'm going to be late, right?

But my point is, everything I do is like this big DECISION. We're having a birthday party for one of the teachers in our unit on Tuesday. They told me to decide what to bring. I told them to TELL me what to bring. I'm tired of making decisions!

Are you good at decision making?

We haven't seen Gerry in awhile, and I did buy his new DVD, The Miracle Match.

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Dreams come true

OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!!! Go SEE!!!! I'm crying, y'all.

Michelle Willingham | Blog � Dreams come true

I'll Be Missing You

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Beloved Texas Governor Ann Richards died this week, and I cried. She embodied so much of what is good about Texas and what is good about women, and she was just an awesome woman. She was even on an episode of King of the Hill!

Then last night we were watching The Simpsons and Troy McClure was on. We looked at each other and said, “We miss Phil Hartman.”

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There are other celebrities I will be sad never to see again. John Spencer from The West Wing.

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John Ritter – not that he was a great actor or anything (maybe he was) but he always made me smile, even as Buffy’s mom’s creepy boyfriend. Plus his death was so sudden.

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Princess Di. I won’t say more at the risk of bawling.

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Mark Frankel – I had such a crush on him when he was Gregory Orloff in Young Catherine.

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What celebrities do you miss?

Favorite Scenes from TV Shows

A lot of the shows I like are no longer on except in syndication. But sometimes I'm flipping through the channels and one of them is on, and I'll stop long enough to see That Scene, and then I'll move on.

This was actually harder than I thought because I wanted to list scenes, not episodes, and in a lot of the shows, I have favorite episodes.

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The Thanksgiving pants - when Phoebe brings her old maternity pants for Rachel, and Joey has to eat the whole turkey, and he puts on the stretchy pants. I die laughing every time.

"In the Jungle" - Ross finds out Marcel is now an actor, and so the friends go to the movie shoot and sing "In the Jungle" to get his attention. Joey gets all into it.

Ross and Rachel's first kiss.

Monica and Chandler getting caught in London.

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Jayne's song - the crew is in Canton, where they find a statue of Jayne, the rough and tumble muscle guy, who has become a folk hero for something he did on accident. After hearing the Jayne song, Wash says, "I want to go to the crappy little town where I'm a hero." And the look on the doctor's face during the song - priceless.

When the crew is trying to give the money back to the mobster guy, and his muscle guys come after them and they accidentally send one of the guys into the engine. The next guy is absolutely ready to cooperate after that.

When they go rescue River from being burned at the stake. "What does that make us?" Mal asks. "Big damn heroes, sir," Zoe replies.

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When Jack's butt is in a sling as he and Audrey try to escape somewhere and he makes a call, and Tony shows up in the nick of time.

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Burke and Cristina's first kiss

Burke and Cristina dancing just before he finds out she kept her apartment.

Burke getting in the hospital bed with Cristina after she breaks down after her miscarriage, even though her mother warns him she doesn't like to be touched.

"It's her turn." When Izzy goes to Denny's room after his transplant, after she's been interrogated for cutting the LVAD wire, after Denny has proposed to her. Bailey is in the room and tries to chase Izzy out but Denny says, "It's her turn," and Izzy accepts his proposal. They are just glowing with happiness.

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When the bad guys steal a horse for stud purposes, but need the *ahem* so they hire a hooker to get it from the horse.

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I love their songs. "See My Vest," when Mr. Burns steals the Simpson puppies to make a suit or something, and he does a song and dance about all the other animals he's killed for fashion.

The "Planet of the Apes" parody, especially "Dr. Zaius," sung like "Amadeus" and the line, "I love every ape I see, from Chimpan-A to Chimpan-Z."

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Buffy and Angel's first kiss

The prom scene where Angel shows up - I would have written it the same way!

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When Angel sings karaoke so Lorne will help him - he really mangled "Mandy."

The very last scene - "Personally, I want to slay the dragon."

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Sawyer and Kate's drinking game

Sawyer needing glasses.

There are a TON more, but I did have Open House last night and am a bit brain dead.

What can you add?

Life's Too Short for Ugly Towels

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I got new sheets this weekend. Aren't they pretty?

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Made it very hard to get out of bed.

But then I went into the master bathroom, which no one ever goes into (even I prefer using the main bathroom, which is on the other side of the wall and exactly the same size). Since no one goes in it, it gets the reject handtowels. You know, towels that caught my eye once upon a blue moon but are now dingy and snarly and have me wondering what I was thinking.

Depressing towels. Ones I'm too cheap to throw away.

But then I was thinking. Seriously, how expensive ARE handtowels? Five bucks? Maybe? Admittedly, it's hard to find handtowels to match the peach decor of the master bath (yes, as in peach tile, floor and TOILET), but anything would be better than the white, blue and pink striped ickies that are in there now.

And the red plastic trashcan under the computer desk in the middle of the living room - what's a new trash can? Twenty bucks? I can splurge.

Oh, and the TOASTER - I've had it since my WEDDING (almost 20 years!) It is beige plastic, and lately it's been eating more of my PopTarts than I have. Time for a new one of those, too.

What household accessory do you put off buying? What do you hold onto for an unreasonable amount of time?

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Open House is tonight, but when I get home, DENNY should be here!


M.J. Fredrick's books on Goodreads
Breaking DaylightBreaking Daylight
ratings: 11 (avg rating 3.33)

Beneath the SurfaceBeneath the Surface
ratings: 11 (avg rating 4.00)

Hot ShotHot Shot (Samhain)
reviews: 2
ratings: 10 (avg rating 4.00)

Where There's SmokeWhere There's Smoke
ratings: 6 (avg rating 4.00)

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I'm a mom, a wife, a teacher and a writer. I have five cats and a dog to keep me company. I love bookstores and libraries and Netflix - movies are my greatest weakness.
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