Friday, July 29, 2016

Amie Smith on becoming a baker on Cape Cod


HALLIE EPHRON: We’ve all dreamed about that moment of transformation when we remake ourselves. I did it when I was working in high tech and contemplated becoming a writer.

It started in my head. Seeing myself as a writer. Then becoming one gradually. Day by day. Step by step. Taking classes. Writing essays. Joining a writing group. Starting a novel. NOT quitting my day job but cutting back so I could write... until the transformation was complete.

When I worked in high tech, I worked with Amie Smith who went on to transform herself, too, but into something I consider much harder and riskier. BLAM: One day she was a corporate marketing writer and the next day she was opening Amie Bakery on Cape Cod in scenic Osterville.

Or… maybe it wasn't quite that sudden. I invited her today to JUNGLE RED to share her story.

AMIE SMITH: I think all creative people need an outlet. After completing the professional pastry program at the Institute of Culinary Education in NYC. I wanted to make so many things but had no place to serve them. It also became my mission to educate people about authenticity in pastry.

Mass produced, chemically processed dessert is the rule. I wanted to be the exception.

From the time I graduated in 2009 I knew I wanted a storefront. But it wasn’t until the spring of 2014 that the right space suddenly became available. I needed to gut it and start over. I jumped in with both feet. I had lots of experience with construction projects and zero experience running a food operation. It was the scariest time of my life.

My father was a baker before I was born. Ironically, he left the job after I was born due to the long hours. Every year we would make a huge batch of butter cookies using a bakery-size formula (translation—hundreds upon hundreds of cookies). One day he took me to his friend’s bakery and I was mesmerized, watching pastries being made all day long.

HALLIE: What was it like, setting up the space? And did you get help from someone who’d been there?

AMIE: Once I started renovations, every single day people were stopping by and telling me stories about previous owners or how their grandparents used to take them there. I quickly realized this place had a storied past. Coincidentally, one of the legendary owners, Peg Mullen, used to own my house! 

The space was in dire need of updating and I wanted to evoke some of the nostalgia of the former soda fountain but make it feel like you were visiting a beautiful café in Paris too.

As for planning the kitchen and the rest of the operations, I had also read a lot about how to open a bakery; I attended a course at King Arthur Flour on this topic, spoke to countless mentors and friends in the industry, and became familiar with local health department requirements.

HALLIE: Your baked goods are fabulous. What’s your best seller, and where’d the recipe come from?

AMIE: Our most popular items is a raspberry walnut shortbread bar. It’s not only one of my favorites, but also it is a sentimental favorite. Barbara Gitto was my dearest friend’s mother and she lived in Osterville—and that is how I came to know this beautiful village. She was an amazing baker and this is her recipe.

On the savory side, our quiche flies out of our cases.

HALLIE: Why are you so passionate about baking from scratch? Isn’t it more profitable to resell desserts made elsewhere?

AMIE: Food evokes emotions and memories and I realized how much I missed the baked treats  grew up with—and that few people today even know or understand what baked goods were like a long time ago, or have tasted Swiss meringue buttercream.

I like to tell people to look for the perfection of imperfection. If the crust looks like it’s precision cookie cutter and every crust is identical, it’s likely that it is mass produced.

HALLIE: My day begins at 7 at the computer. Yours begins... where, when? And when does it end?

AMIE: Well, being open seven days a week in this kind of business has meant being at work 24x7. My bakers start at either 4 or 5 a.m. depending on the time of year and if they have issues or questions, I have to address text messages at all hours.

So my day can start in bed getting a text at 4 a.m. or a bit later around 7 at the computer and goes until the shop closes.

HALLIE: Would you be willing to share one recipe with us?

AMIE: Absolutely. I just reformulated our coconut macaroon recipe and it’s one of the easiest things to make. Macaroons are often my go-to recipe when I’m at home and I need a quick dessert for dinner. It also happens to be gluten-free, which is a popular request at the shop.

AMIE BAKERY COCONUT MACAROONS
14 ounces unsweetened shredded coconut
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup melted chocolate (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Line sheet pan with parchment paper.
Combine the coconut, condensed milk, almond extract, and vanilla in a large bowl.
Whip the egg whites and salt on high to medium-firm peaks.
Carefully fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture.
Use an ice cream scoop to form macaroons. Mixture is a bit loose so pack scoop and gently dispense.
Bake 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown.
Cool and dip in melted chocolate if desired. Store in refrigerator or airtight container.

Yield 13 (if using a 2-3 oz ice cream scoop)

HALLIE: J'adore coconut macaroons. This is my sweet spot. What are yours, and do you have bakery like Amie's where you can indulge in the perfect imperfectios? 

Amie Bakery is right in the middle of Osterville on Cape Cod at 3 Wianno St. Her web site is full of advice on baking and the right tools and gadgets.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Delia Ephron's SIRACUSA: A stone paradise where marriages unravel

HALLIE EPHRON: I’m so delighted to welcome my sister Delia Ephron to talk about her new novel, SIRACUSA. Goodreads reviewers are drenching it in praise. “IT’S MASTERFUL” “Superb!””Captivating and intoxicating.” A starred review in PW. Dark and suspenseful, a week after its pub date it's in its third printing and being turned into a major motion picture.

Am I jealous? Not saying.

The story is told Rashomon-style with four narrators, two couples who vacation together in Sicily’s Siracusa.

In one corner: Michael (a playwright) and Lizzie (a magazine writer), a childless couple.
In the other corner: Finn (a hip chef in Portland Maine) and his wife Taylor (Portland’s events coordinator and publicist); their sylph- and sphinx-like 10-year-old daughter Snow (named because she was born during a snowstorm—Lizzie thinks she’s “wallpaper”) is traveling with them.

It’s compulsively readable, and you know all the while the story, for all its normalcy, is careening toward cataclysm as lie after lie is revealed.
 

I happen to know that Delia and her husband often traveled with another couple, dear friends (unlike the two couples in the book who mesh only on the surface), but I had to wonder what in her travels inspired Siracusa?

DELIA EPHRON: Siracusa inspired the book. I was there on vacation. It's this falling down place in Sicily on the Ionian Sea and the old section is remarkable. The Romans knocked down all the trees in 212 B.C. to build warships and never replaced then. It's paved with ancient stone, narrow streets, tattered buildings. A stone paradise.

The first day I thought, this is the most magical place I have ever been. The second day, I thought, if I don't get out of here fast I'll go mad.
When I got home I realized it was the perfect place to set a story about marriage, about two couples on vacation careening toward disaster.

Of course then I had to go back and do serious research, which I did, several times.

You are a better more experienced traveler than I am. BUT, travel intensifies everything, doesn't it? Friendships can grow closer or go up on the rocks. The isolation of travel is great if you're feeling romantic and unbearable if you're not.  So isolating these couples by putting them on a vacation in a foreign place was perfect for the story I wanted to tell.

HALLIE: And in that “bad hotel?"

DELIA: Truly you never know which your best trips will be. Traveling is unpredictable. And the bad hotel -- it can happen on a vacation -- and for Taylor this is terrible. She blames Lizzie, who made the reservation. But that's just salt in the wound.  Other wounds are bigger.

HALLIE: So many of your other works (“You’ve Got Mail” “The Lion is In”) have wonderfully flawed but likeable characters, but in this book the characters are anything but. What was it like making that shift?

DELIA: Very freeing. This is a dark book -- very funny in parts, but wicked.  I didn't worry about whether anyone would like Lizzie, Michael, Taylor and Finn. I wanted them only to be real. Interesting and compelling.

So many people have said to me, "I thought I liked, say, Finn, and then I thought, I don't like him at all."  As a reader your opinion keep shifting as the betrayals and lies and paybacks mount up. And of course my characters all have opinions of each other and of Snow. The reader discovers that.

HALLIE: One of the most troubling characters in the book is Snow, Taylor and Finn’s daughter. As the mother of daughters I found myself squirming. Where did Snow come from?

DELIA: My wicked brain. Here's the thing: I'm very interested is how attached some mothers are to their daughters -- relationships
I've observed where the lines are blurred. Taylor loves her daughter more than her husband, which happens sometimes in marriage. Snow is sphinx-like, as you said, an enigma. Is she shy or is she cunning? Is she manipulating or being manipulated? Should I love her, want to protect her, or fear her?

HALLIE: (That picture of Delia and me was taken before the premier of her movie, "Hanging Up.") Four viewpoints, intertwined and overlapping is so hard to pull off. Perfect for this story, since secrets are its fuel. But did you find it challenging? Did you have to map it out?

DELIA: So difficult. By the time I hit the third quarter of the book, my head was swirling. Who knew what, who didn't, what would be revealed and to whom. I had lists on my wall keeping track. But I don't outline.

I started Lizzie, Michael, Finn and Taylor with problems. Michael is having an affair and Lizzie doesn't know. Finn and Lizzie had a summer fling many years before, and he is feeling shut out of his marriage. So I start them there and, as I write, the story, takes off.

The most important line I wrote early on that gave me guidance, was a line of Lizzie's: "Couples collaborate, hiding even from themselves who is calling the shots and who is along for the ride." 

I have an inner compass about plotting. I trust my subconscious to take me where I need to go. I knew something BIG would happen in Siracusa, and one day I realized, Oh that's it. That has to happen. I got so excited.

HALLIE: You’re writing a screenplay now for the book. Are you having to alter the story structure? Whom will we root for??

DELIA: Oh, you need to root. H'mm. I wasn't thinking about that. I'm very excited that Siracusa has been bought for film and that Alfonso Gomez Rejon will direct ("Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl). 

With a screenplay, I have to find the movie in the book. Create the visual medium and telescope the story to hold onto its essence. So what is the central current?

Also do I need a Rashomon? Film has other ways of indicating point of view. Do I need to alter the story to make it work better. In film I don't have the luxury of the "inner voice" unless I do voice over. 

So all these problems have to be address. Also this is about marriage and friendship -- characters make lots of observations about that. Need to keep that aspect. How?

HALLIE: What an interesting problem. Novels lack the visuals of a movie, but we do have narrative voice.

I'm still mulling Delia's remark:  

The first day I thought, this is the most magical place I have ever been. The second day, I thought, if I don't get out of here fast I'll go mad.
TODAY'S QUESTION: Have you ever traveled somewhere that left you with that feeling?

Signed copies of Siracusa are available at:Barnes & Noble, Upper West Side, NY
Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA
Wellesley Books, Wellesley, MA
RJ Julia, Madison, CT
Diesel Bookstore, Los Angeles
BookCourt, Brooklyn, NY
Politics & Prose - Washington, D


"Delia Ephron’s Siracusa is a stunning portrait of two marriages coming unraveled during the stress of travel abroad. Insightful and engaging. A must read!"—Sue Grafton








Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Life among the 3-year-old Disney Princesses


HALLIE EPHRON: As the grandmother of a three-year-old I am acutely aware of the Princesses phenomenon as it applies to little girls. Our Franny Lou is obsessed with princesses. Belle is her favorite. (Belle nightgown. Belle big girl panties...) She sings all of "Let It Go" from Frozen at the top of her lungs and at every opportunity.

Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel, Jasmine, Pocahontas, she loves them all and carries around little action figures which, heaven help me, I bought for her.
Last week there was a piece in our local paper about Princess birthday parties. The MOTHERS dress up as princesses, too. Speaking for myself, this is a bridge too far. I will not dress up as anyone's fairy godmother.

Were you besotted with Disney princesses when you were little, and what do you make of this--beyond it being a spectacularly successful merchandising effort? And is it a step back for women's lib or just another wrinkle on the way to liberation?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:
I would love, LOVE, to hear Franny Lou sing Let It Go. I am obsessed with hearing little kids sing it--it is SO hilarious.

Disney princesses. Ah, gee. When I was growing up, there might
have been Cinderella. Which, thinking back, turned out well, and you know, thinking about it even more, I used to complain, when I had to do chores, that I WAS Cinderella.   But I didn't see that as romantic or desirable.

Snow White? Yeesh. Sleeping Beauty? Well, these days, I love sleep, so maybe so. And sometimes my garden, like hers, is out of control.  And I must confess, I used to threaten my mother with what would happen when my REAL parents--royalty--came to get me. She would suggest I make my bed in the meantime.

I think, these days, a Disney princess is a different deal. And I do wonder what their point is.  I could make a remark about Ivanka, who is a lovely young woman, and a story in herself,  and Chelsea, ditto, but I won't. And, in other news. look how perfectly Sasha and Malia have turned out. 

RHYS BOWEN:  When I was little I played at princesses all the time. I would have loved all the Disney stuff, action figures, castle and dresses. But alas I was pre Disney marketing. I had to make do with an old curtain draped around me and the arm chair as my coach. And my great aunt to be my faithful servant/old woman gathering sticks/wicked queen depending on the game.

Of course all little girls love to dress up and that longing stays with us. We wear prom dresses. We read about Will and Kate.

My granddaughters are now past the princess stage but it was awfully adorable to see them swirling and curtsying and singing all the songs. Now it's Lulu Lemon and Raybans!

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I only saw the first generation Disneys.
Snow White (Yuck! Creepy! All those little men gave me nightmares,) Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella. But I never wanted to be any of those princesses.

My cousin and I played with action figures from Gunsmoke. And of course I had every toy horse ever made, and they had great adventures, so it wasn't as if we were lacking in imagination... Kayti says the only Disney movie she remembers loving is Robin Hood. My poor kid grew up on PBS documentaries!

I've never even seen Frozen! Maybe I'll get to watch all these things with Wren. But...I'm not sure how keen I am on the whole Disney princess thing. Just call me #TotallyOutOfIt.

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: I loved princesses back in the day and was delighted when Disney introduced Belle when I was about 22 — a brown-eyed brunette who loved to read!

Got to go through it all again with Kiddo, who loved the princesses — until he didn't — but I still think he secretly likes them and the movies, too. We also went through Mulan, Tangled, Alladin, et al — it's a whole new princess world now.. Now we have Elsa and Anna from Frozen.
Loved Frozen and am proud to be friends with Kristin Anderson Lopez and Robert Lopez. Kiddo used to play with their daughters and I even wrote part of MR. CHURCHILL'S SECRETARY in their kitchen. (Noel knows them from Avenue Q days.) I loved the fact that "true love's kiss" could be from sisters, not just a man/woman romantic situation....

Plus, you know, Idina Menzel tearing it up.

Did anyone catch the new Cinderella, directed by Kenneth Branagh? Gorgeous and Kate Blanchette was truly chilling as the stepmother. And of course now there's the film version of Into the Woods — those Sondheim lyrics provide so much food for thought about what happens _after_ "happily ever after."

Oh, and we're also fans of ABC's "Once Upon a Time" — which is a whole fairytale mashup that turns the tales we all grew up with on their head and can be quite clever. We all love watching it together as a family on Sunday nights.


HALLIE: This is bringing back memories of watching the first Disney movies, having a Disney Cinderella picture book that had glitter in it, and it is pretty great that the girls in Disney movies have evolved into strong characters who have opinions and talk back. Still waiting for one that's not skinny and beautiful.

Today's question: Have princesses invaded your life, and if so have you surrendered and welcomed them in?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Iceland! Hallie shares a great vacation

HALLIE EPHRON: A few weeks ago you may have noticed that I was conspicuously absent from Jungle Red. I was in Iceland for 8 fantastic days of bird watching and waterfalls and glaciers and basalt cliffs and volcanic sand beaches and delicious hearty soups and breads, fantastic icey water, and the cleanest air you'll ever breathe. 

It was also soccer madness -- the Icelandic team had just, against all odds, beaten the Brits in the quarterfinals of Euro 2016.

First, you need to know: Iceland has a population of at 320,000. That's half the population of Boston. A million foreign tourists went there in 2014, and that number doubled in 2015 and is expected to double this year again. People like it. They go. They tell their friends. It takes about 4 hours from almost anywhere in the northern part of the northern hemisphere (e.g. New England) to get there. I'd go back in a minute.

The only way to tell about this trip is through pictures... 

No, it does not get dark in July. Here's me sleeping in our hotel room in Reykjavik. It's 2 in the morning. That's sun, trying to come through the blinds. It simply did not set. And any time you got up and walked around, there were people out and about on the streets.


Waterfalls. Spectacular waterfalls around every bend in the road.





Basalt cliffs and volcanic sand beaches. The rock formations are spectacular, but the beach has fierce waves that hold back and lull you into a sense of false security and then roar in and sweep away everything and everyone in their path.


Birds! It took 7 hours to drive from Reykjavik (tunneling under one fiord and going across another by ferry) to the Latrabjarg bird cliffs, Iceland's westernmost point and home to millions of birds: northern gannets, guillemots, fulmars, kittiwakes, and yes, PUFFINS by the thousands. A birdwatcher's paradise.






Thermal activity. Iceland is located on the rift where the North American and Eurasian plates grind against each other. It's riven with volcanos and geysers, the landscape more often lava flow than meadow. All of Iceland's power is comes from natural steam. Icelanders are philosophic. Yes, that nearby volcano could blow any minute.  (The original geyser that is named "Geysir" is in Iceland.) They're getting ready to EXPORT electricity.

(How cheap is it? It's cost effective for Australia to ship bauxite to Iceland (this is one long boat ride) and smelt it there using geothermal and hydro power, and ship the aluminum to customers around the world.)




You could happily live on bread and water. It's that good. And the soup. Crab soup here, but the lobster soup and cauliflower soup and the carrot/coconut soups were delicious, too. Um, great cookies, too. And the bread is fabulous. Everywhere.





Reykjavik's nose. This spectacular church is on the highest point in the city and visible from everywhere. Echoes of waterfalls and basalt columns in its design.

Vistas. Fiords to cross. 

Dollhouse towns. Tiny towns with homes and churches that look like dollhouses. I kept expecting to see little wooden trains chugging around.




Glaciers. They're blue. It's cold, but not cold enough to keep them from shrinking. Still beautiful but for how long? 



Horses with a sense of humor. Icelandic horses are smaller and friendlier and they have rock-star hair.


Soccer! This jumbotron was right outside our hotel window, and those red and white flag wavers are Poles rooting for their team (they lost.) And that's my husband outside our hotel which was going all out for its soccer star players. 


  
Vikings. They really define the place. Marauders, they picked up beautiful Celtic women on their way to taking over Iceland.


Unpronounceable street names. Yes, it was a challenge reading street signs and then matching them to our maps. And it was not cheap.
 
Has anyone else been there? Please, share your expeiences.

Monday, July 25, 2016

GHOSTBUSTERS: Girls' night out!

Congratulations Celia Fowler, yesterday's winner of an ARC of Susan Elia MacNeal's THE QUEEN'S ACCOMPLICE.
 
HALLIE EPHRON: And I thought nothing could ever get me back into a real movie theater. At 10 to 15 bucks a pop? Five more for yellow popcorn?

Turns out all it took was a sh-t storm over remaking one of my favorite movies with an all-female cast.

As anyone who isn’t living under a rock knows, the Internet has been awash in nastiness from outraged (mostly anonymous) fans of the original GHOSTBUSTERS who turned thumbs-down long before the remake was even filmed, never mind released. What did they expect? After all, if you name a movie after an iconic portable vacuum cleaner, the ladies are bound to jump in and take over.

Zoot alors, a young female "film critic" blogger decried of the remake: “This isn’t about feminism. This is about greed.” Uh, so what’s yer point? Welcome to Hollywood.

As someone who loved the original GHOSTBUSTERS (GHOSTBUSTERS II not so much) and who’s a huge fan of Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones, if I could’ve bought my ticket six months ago I would have. I went to see it at one in the afternoon on day-two of its run at my local AMC theatre. Only seats left were in the front, but we grabbed them.

Maybe I was seduced by the theater (when did they convert to stadium seating with red leather recliners). Or the A/C (it was 92 degrees out). 

It certainly was not the 20 (really, 20) minutes of coming attractions for 10 (really 10) movies followed by an ad for Coca Cola that ran AFTER the supposed movie start time. And it certainly wasn’t the great sound system that was so loud I had to stuff tissues in my ears.


Whatever it was, I loved it, beginning to… hmmm, maybe three-quarters through when, as my friend Michael Courtemanche pointed out, it tipped over into too much SFX and too little funny. Plus, watching villainous creatures rampaging through New York feels a little too close to watching the news.

But then, the final credits are sublime!! An unexpected bonus after the mayhem.

And the cameos! My favorite: Annie Potts! She played the  receptionist ("Whaddaya want?") in the original (one of the guys says to her: “Janine, someone with your qualification would have no trouble finding a top-flight job in either the food service or housekeeping industries” ) turns up as a clerk in a haunted hotel.

Confess. When’s the last time you went to a real movie theater, laughed yourself silly, and what other iconic bro-bonding movies would you like to see rebooted with a female cast?

LUCY BURDETTE: Hmmm, not sure I'd be running out to see this movie, but we love seeing movies at the Tropic Cinema in Key West. We walk to the theater--a huge bonus--and if you're a member, you get reduced prices. We saw SPOTLIGHT (loved it), the animated Oscar shorts (not so much), Helen Mirren in the English version of THE AUDIENCE (heaven), BROOKLYN (good), and I saw ROOM (tough but amazing.) So nothing laugh-out-loud, but lots of good movies in a real theater!

HALLIE: Hmm. Not too many belly laughs in those.

RHYS BOWEN: How about Twelve Just Women? I have to remind myself sometimes that it's only recently that women were allowed to sit on a jury.

Most iconic male movies would feel awkward with a female cast--that the object of the movie was to prove a point. And I don't know if I'll see Ghostbusters in the theater. As Hallie said it's just too loud and overpowering. The last movie I saw was Love and Friendship. More my style and quite funny.

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I went to see GHOSTBUSTERS Sunday after it opened with Ross and two Smithies (mine and her friend.) We all enjoyed the movie, although I'll agree with you, Hallie, that I was just waiting for the SFX bonanza in the climactic fight to get over so the flock could get back to the good stuff - the interactions between characters.

I was explaining to Ross afterwards how wonderful it is to see a movie with women front and center where the sex of the main characters ISN'T the point. In so many, many films today, actresses play The Woman: the mother, the wife, the gf, the damsel in distress. The fact the character is female is the main point and feature of the character: "Look, our hero regrets breaking up with his wife!" "Look, our here's daughter is in danger!" "Look, our hero is an ordinary schlub who winds up with a babe 5X hotter than he is!"

In GHOSTBUSTERS, as in Paul Feig's BRIDESMAIDS, THE HEAT and SPY, the stories could easily be told around a group of guys. Really - picture Jonah Hill in the Melissa McCarthy roles and Vince Vaugn as Kristin Wiig or Sandra Bullock. The fact that they're filled with women instead of men is..revelatory, like the first time I saw a female Episcopal priest. "You mean women can do that?"

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: We'll be seeing Ghostbusters this week and taking Kiddo, of course! So excited to see a movie that would pass the Bechdel test — where "The Bechdel test (/ˈbɛkdəl/ bek-dəl) asks whether a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. The requirement that the two women must be named is sometimes added."

If you're looking for another movie (for the young (or young-at-heart) with strong female leads, I'd recommend Pixar's Academy Award-winning Inside Out, with Amy Pohler and Mindy  Kaling.

HALLIE: I loved Inside Out. And it might actually be the last movie I saw in a movie theater before Ghostbusters. (Before that: UP (in 3D)

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Hmm. Not sure I'll go to Ghostbusters. You are so right about Bechdel, Susan! And it's such an amazing filter.  Anyway, I'm intrigued by the question "when was the last time you went to a movie and laughed yourself silly?" I am really having to think about that. Sadly, it might have been -oh, gosh, I am spacing the title. But it had animals, and they sang Polka Dot Afro.   Does watching The Court Jester at home count?  I did cheer all the way through Working Girl, and then cried, but that's different.

And sadly, and anti-all of this, I really laughed at The Wedding Crashers. But they could easily make that with women. Wait. Now, really mulling this over, if they did, it would be SUCH a completely different movie, and the women would be reviled as "everything a woman is not supposed to be." Whereas for Vince Vaughn and what's his name, they are hilarious.

Which is, I guess, the point of this.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Honestly, I am so out of it that I didn't realize until a week ago that the remake of GHOSTBUSTERS had become this big cultural deal. I thought, oh, okay, well, that might be fun. I liked the original, so why not? And then I find out people are incensed because the characters are played by WOMEN? Is this the dark ages, or what??? (No, don't answer that...)

I'm sure we'll see it, but probably when it's available streaming. We are so spoiled to our very fancy movie theater with reclining seats (and pillows and blankets, I kid you not) and dinner and drinks service. But it's expensive--although not more than dinner out somewhere and then a movie at a regular theater. Still, we only go every couple of months, and we usually save those outings for "must see on big screen" movies. This summer it will probably be STAR TREK, and then JASON BOURNE at the end of August. (I have confessed before that I'm an action movie junkie...)

The movie I think of right off the bat that makes me laugh until I cry is so politically incorrect that I'm not going to admit to it:-) 

HALLIE: What guy flicks do you think they should remake with gender roles reversed?

I nominate:
Easy Rider
The Sting
Duck Soup
The Hustler
Blazing Saddles
Monty Python and the Holy Grail