Monday, June 14, 2021

Are YOU A Prairie Dog?



HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  So, how are you doing? Are you…venturing out?


I feel kind of like a little prairie dog, poking my head up out over my burrow and saying…
what’s going on out there? It’s strange--I’ve been fully vaccinated for several months now, and still I'm full of apprehensiveness venturing out.



We went to a friend's house for dinner, inside, all good.


And the grocery store and the hardware store, the dry cleaners and the doctor and things like that. Still, it feels that every once-ordinary activity is fraught with who knows what.


Well, I guess we do know what.


I was reading the other day that there are people called re-entry coaches, who are experts in counseling people on how to get back into the world.  The coaches emphasize doing “intentional activities.” Which I guess means no more doom-scrolling or roaming randomly around Instagram. 


There are special  coaches for kids, too. One suggested taking your child on a walk in the park  first, so they got acclimated to being around other people. Then gradually doing more things, like going to a museum, where they were actually inside with people.


Isn’t that even strange? 


But on so many levels it’s unsettling. Plus,  I have no idea what to wear. And if I did know what to wear,  I wouldn’t have that. 


It seems like the rules, whatever the rules are, are different, and we are all trying to figure out what they are. Do we just go back to how we were before? Exactly how we were before? Just forget everything happened and forget we lost an entire year and a half?


And what about  the people who have completely different life than I do? I’m a solitary person professionally, a writer, privileged enough to be able to stay home. That haunts me. 


I keep having this vision of the good witch in the Wizard of Oz, played by Billie Burke, right? Tapping her wand on the trembling munchkins and singing” come out come out...” 



How about you Reds and readers? Are you feeling like trembling munchkins?  Or champing at the bit? And..do you know what to wear?


JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I feel like I know what to wear, but I seem to have completely forgotten how to put on lipstick. Every time I wear it out of the house it feels like I’m doing it wrong. 


I’m feeling very confident in the vaccine and more importantly, in its ability to keep me from accidentally spreading Covid-19 to others, so I’m in “going with the flow” mode. I always have a mask or two with me; if a place of business asks to use it, I’ll pop it on. If I’m going somewhere new, I’ll wear a mask until I see the lay of the land. My church is fully reopened but is asking everyone to wear masks for the sake of the children, who of course don’t have an approved vaccine yet. That makes good sense to me, and I’ll continue to mask up if I’m going to be around under-16s. 


But I’m looking forward to summer theater, and baseball games, and restaurants, so put me in the champing at the bit category!


JENN McKINLAY: I’m out and about. I’ve even flown across the country. Hub is a professional musician, so he’s been gigging hard for a couple of months now (once his vaccine kicked in) and I go to his shows when I can as i’m also fully vaccinated. People do seem a bit more keyed up and we’ve watched some seriously cray-cray behavior. Roaring 20’s, anyone?


I always have a mask just in case I come across someone who’d be more comfortable if I wore one, but otherwise...what pandemic? 


HALLIE EPHRON: I’ll still wear my mask, thanks very much. And eat outdoors at restaurants if I go at all. After so many months with not so much as a cold or flu or even a sneeze that wasn’t inspired by pollen, I feel completely vulnerable (even if not to Covid). Nope. I need another few weeks… maybe even months to feel assured that this thing isn’t going to come around and bite us in our collective asses.


LUCY BURDETTE: I would say that I fall somewhere in the middle of Jenn and Hallie. We have loved being able to go out a little, see friends who are vaccinated without feeling terrified. But I always have a mask with me and wear it when I’m inside shops and stores, such as the grocery store, the local bookstore, the hardware store. Like Hallie, I’m not convinced we’ve seen the end of this plague.


And I do like not having been sick this year. And certainly when we travel, which we’ve done a little of and plan to do more, I will absolutely wear a mask and bath in hand sanitizer while enroute. John’s family has a reunion this summer, and I do worry about the kids. Hopefully a vaccine that is safe for children will come along soon!


DEBORAH CROMBIE: We are getting out and about. I’ve had lunch/brunch several times with my daughter, but I have to admit the one time it was inside AND crowded I was not very comfortable. Much better with open patios! I wear a mask in stores, but not at outside events like the farmer’s market. Still lots of hand washing and sanitizers. I’m not convinced we won’t see vaccine resistant variants, and I have loved not having had so much as a sniffle this last year and a half. I’ll be so happy when the five-year-old granddaughter can get her vaccine, too.


I’m beginning to figure out what to wear, but the first couple of months back in the world were a real struggle!



RHYS BOWEN:  I think we are lucky that we have a solitary profession so our lives weren’t so different, apart from being fearful when we went out.

I live in a county that has the highest vaccination percentage in California so I feel quite safe. We have had friends to dinner, taken a trip to Monterey and stayed in a B and B, been to an art exhibit and will be hosting a brunch for graduating grandson here ( outside in our patio). But we have been cautious about dining indoors and still wear masks in stores. 

 

I hear you about deciding what to wear. I am so used to choosing a nice top, knowing that nobody can see the shorts beneath it. 

 

HANK: Isn’t that crazy? And all my shoes, lined up on the shelves, wondering why I haven’t worn them for 15 months. Are we going back to heels? The New York Times says yes. 

 

And the mask thing is so strange. The mask is so YOU don’t give covid to someone else.  If we know we don’t have it, why are WE wearing them? To encourage the unvaccinated to do so?

 

How about you, Reds and readers? Are you feeling prairie dog?


Sunday, June 13, 2021

Play it again: Jungle Red Writers PLAYLIST

 

HALLIE EPHRON: On Monday we talked about the movies we can watch over and over again. The response was outstanding (sustained applause!!) Such a great list, and I realized it was one we'd all like to have.

So today I present to you the playlist - I hope I caught them all - listed in alphabetical order for you to have handy when you're deciding what to watch next.

As I was sorting ths list, I imagined Leeloo of THE FIFTH ELEMENT (the alien who is a supreme being and needs a crash course in US culture) fast-forwarding through ALL of these and absorbing everything essential about our world.

2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY
ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT
ANNA AND THE KING
2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY
ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT
ANNA AND THE KING
AWAY FROM HER
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (DISNEY)
BEETLEJUICE
BIG FISH
BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA
BLAST FROM THE PAST
BLAZE OF GLORY
BLAZING SADDLES
BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S
BRINGING UP BABY
BROADCAST NEWS
BULL DURHAM
CASABLANCA
CHARIOTS OF FIRE
CHRISTMAS VACATION
CINEMA PARADISO
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND
CLUE
CRAZY FROM THE HEART
CRAZY STUPID LOVE
DANCES WITH WOLVES
DIE HARD
DIRTY DANCING
DOWN WITH LOVE
DRACULA (1931)
ENCHANTED APRIL
ET THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL
FARGO
FIELD OF DREAMS
FLETCH
FORGET PARIS
FORREST GUMP
FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL
FRIED GREEN TOMATOES
GALAXY QUEST
HARRY POTTER
HELLO DOLLY
HOLIDAY
HOME ALONE AT CHRISTMAS
HOOK
HOOSIERS
HOT FUZZ
IF A MAN ANSWERS
INDEPENDENCE DAY
INDIANA JONES
INDISCREET
INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
IQ
JAWS
JUMANJI
JURASSIC PARK
LAWRENCE OF ARABIA
LETTERS TO JULIET
LOVE ACTUALLY
MAMA MIA
MEN IN BLACK
MIDNIGHT AT THE MUSEUM
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
MISS CONGENIALITY
MOON OVER PARADOR
MOONSTRUCK
MOUSE HUNT
MUSIC AND LYRICS
MY COUSIN VINNY
MY FAIR LADY
NOTTING HILL
OUT OF AFRICA
PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK
PINK PANTHER
PIRATE RADIO
PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES
QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER
REDS
ROBIN HOOD (1939)
ROBIN HOOD: MEN IN TIGHTS
ROMAN HOLIDAY
ROMANCING THE STONE
SALMON FISHING IN YEMEN
SERENITY
SHIRLEY VALENTINE
SINGING IN THE RAIN
SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE
SNOW CAKE
SOUTH PACIFIC
SPEED
SPY
STAR WARS (ORIGINAL 3)
STEEL MAGNOLIAS
TEA WITH MUSSOLINI
THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL
THE COURT JESTER
THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW
THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL
THE DESK SET
THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA
THE FIFTH ELEMENT
THE GODFATHER
THE HOLIDAY
THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB
THE KING’S SPEECH
THE LAST STARFIGHTER
THE LORD OF THE RINGS
THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT
THE MALTESE FALCON
THE PHILADELPHIA STORY
THE PRINCESS BRIDE
THE REPLACEMENTS
THE SHINING
THE SOUND OF MUSIC
THE WIZARD OF OZ
THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY
THROW MOMMA FROM THE TRAIN
THUNDERHEART
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
TOMBSTONE
TREMORS
TRUE GRIT
TRULY MADLY DEEPLY
TWO FOR THE ROAD
UNDERCOVER BLUES
WHERE’D YOU GO BERNADETTE
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING
WILLOW
WORKING GIRL
YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Wishing on the Moon with Judy Penz Sheluk

HALLIE EPHRON: It's such a good idea--an anthology of mystery and suspense stories linked by a common element: moonlight. That's the brainstorm behind MOONLIGHT & MISADVENTURE, a stellar anthology edited by Judy Penz Sheluk.

Today Judy is here to reveal what it is about moonlight that inspired her to put together the collection. She blames it entirely on her mother...


JUDY PENZ SHELUK: I was about twelve when I first met Virginia, the daughter of a friend of my parents. We were the same age, give or take a few months, but Virginia had this cool factor about her that I couldn’t begin to emulate. Where my hair was a wavy mass of frizz, Virginia’s locks were long and sleek, and while the time would come when I’d stand a good four inches above her petite five-foot-two frame, the time hadn’t come yet.

Last, but certainly not least, Virginia was a Funkenmariechen at the Toronto German Club, a fact my mother lorded over me after I’d given up both ballet and tap for lack of talent and desire.

I may have been a lot of things at twelve, but a masochist wasn’t one of them. The last thing I wanted to do was watch Virginia strut her stuff in a red velvet minidress and white lace-up boots to an adoring audience.

Anyway, it was at my parent’s cottage late one night, the adults playing cards at a nearby neighbor’s, when Virginia insisted that we go out and make a wish on the full moon. I remember it being hot and muggy, the air thick with mosquitoes, but the idea of making a wish overrode any thoughts of discomfort. Besides, you didn’t say no to Virginia. Or at least, I couldn’t.

For the wish to come true, Virginia had informed me, you had to stare at the full moon, then tap your right index and middle fingers against your left wrist while making your wish.

It went without saying that you couldn’t tell anyone your wish. Furthermore, she said, because it was a blue moon, we could each make a double wish. What finger tapping had to do with anything was beyond me, but of course I did it, and I’ve done it since, more times than I’m willing to admit.


What can I say? Having a wish come true is a bit like winning the lottery. You can’t win without a ticket, and your wish certainly won’t come true if you never wish it.

All of that and more came into my head has I tried to come up with an underlying theme for the third Superior Shores Anthology. Moonlight, I thought. But moonlight and what? Moonlight & Murder...too limiting. Moonlight & Mayhem...mayhem is so overdone. Moonlight & Misadventure...that had a nice ring to it.

As for what I wished that night, I suppose it’s okay to tell you now. I wished that I’d grow up to be a writer. Oh, and to be taller than Virginia.

Both came true. I’m pretty sure it’s all in the finger-tap.

Or maybe, it’s all in the believing. I’ll let you decide.
Readers: Have you ever wished on the full moon? Have any other moon superstitions
(my mother was a firm believer you should NEVER see the full moon through glass (window or windshield). Very bad luck until the next full moon!

About Moonlight & Misadventure: Whether it’s vintage Hollywood, the Florida everglades, the Atlantic City boardwalk, or a farmhouse in Western Canada, the twenty authors represented in this collection of mystery and suspense interpret the overarching theme of “moonlight and misadventure” in their own inimitable style where only one thing is assured: Waxing, waning, gibbous, or full, the moon is always there, illuminating things better left in the dark.

Featuring stories by K.L. Abrahamson, Sharon Hart Addy, C.W. Blackwell, Clark Boyd, M.H. Callway, Michael A. Clark, Susan Daly, Buzz Dixon, Jeanne DuBois, Elizabeth Elwood, Tracy Falenwolfe, Kate Fellowes, John M. Floyd, Billy Houston, Bethany Maines, Judy Penz Sheluk, KM Rockwood, Joseph S. Walker, Robert Weibezahl, and Susan Jane Wright.

About Judy Penz Sheluk: A former journalist and magazine editor, Judy is the author of two mystery series: The Glass Dolphin Mysteries and the Marketville Mysteries. Her short crime fiction appears in several collections, including The Best Laid Plans, Heartbreaks & Half-truths, and Moonlight & Misadventure, which she also edited. Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime National, Toronto, and Guppy Chapters, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she serves as Chair on the Board of Directors. Find the Book: https://books2read.com/u/47NPkj