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Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday Film Festival: All about Eve, Soapdish and Bridget Jones

Black Friday, for me, is a movie marathon day. I had no intention of putting myself into the throes of insanity swimming around the stores.

A day on the couch, I watched a range of movies, including  "All About Eve" (1951), "Soapdish" (1991) and "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason" (2004).

Black Friday Film Festival: All about Eve, Soapdish and Bridget Jones

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Creative Dollar Tree DIY to celebrate Day of the Dead

Looking for a creative and inexpensive way to decorate for Halloween and Day of the Dead?

Visit Dollar Tree and scoop up a couple of skeleton heads--each one only $1!

Then take a bundle of magic markers and go at it.



I decided to take a bit of liberty with the tradition and dedicated two of my heads to Frida Kahlo and Elvis Presley.

Which one do you like best?

A video posted by Sophia Lisa (@lihsa) on


A video posted by Sophia Lisa (@lihsa) on


A video posted by Sophia Lisa (@lihsa) on

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Outlandishly clever - Outlander (2014)

A friend at work told me about this show, Outlander. She said it was a time-traveling romance that took place in post-WWII England and 18th century Scotland. 

Say no more. I was already hooked--it had 4 of my favorite elements: Britain, Scotland, time travel and romance. Then she told me that the show was based on a series of books by Diana Gabaldon, who lived in New Mexico.

Well, then, of course I had to represent.

I've watched the first few episodes and I'm enraptured. What kind of woman gets so lucky to have two handsome men love her?

In its second season on Starz, I had to buy the first season from Amazon Prime. But it was worth the purchase!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Houseboat - Cary Grant, Sophia Loren (1958)

To ease my soul--and my allergies--I downed a grilled cheese sandwich and settled in to watch one of my all-time favorite classics, Houseboat starring Cary Grant and Sophia Loren.
Lihsa's Reviews - Houseboat - Cary Grant, Sophia Loren (1958)

The back story on this is almost as good as the story itself: Cary Grant was deeply in love with Sophia Loren, having ended his marriage to the movie's uncredited screenwriter, Betsy Drake, to be with her. Then, before filming even began, Sophia ended it all to marry Carlo Ponti (he latered produced Dr. Zhivago).

And everyone thinks that Angelina Jolie was the original bad girl.

The movie, Houseboat, tries to sell itself as a frivolous romantic romp. But it is actually quite touching, addressing morality, parenting and family.

Newly widowed Tom Winters (Cary Grant) decides to take custody of his children, despite offers from his former wife's parents and sister. Abandoning the offer to stay in the country guest house, Tom returns to Washington DC with his 3 children, David (Paul Peterson), Elizabeth (Mimi Gibson) and Robert (Charles Herbert). 

Crammed into his a tiny bed-sleep in downtown DC, he is hard pressed to bring the youngest, Robert, around, who ends up running away. 

Meanwhile, Cinzia (Sophia Loren) is traveling with her father, who is guest conducting through the US. Tired of being trapped with him, she ducks out the window and just happens to find a stow-away, the young Robert. 

Cinzia and Robert strike up a friendship and as a result, little Robert insists that Cinzia becomes their housekeeper.

SPOILER: Sophia Loren's wedding dress is simply gorgeous!



Tuesday, April 7, 2015

INSTAGRAM STAR: @DavePollotArt - Star Wars, Super Mario, Vintage art mash-up

A photo posted by Dave Pollot Art (@davepollotart) on

I started following this guy a few months ago--and this is the post that got me going--I loved the juxtaposition of "trite and true" vintage art alongside current cultural references.

He inserts characters, images and references from Star Wars, Super Mario, Ghostbusters and more.

If you're a nerd, a geek, junker and art lover, this 'Grammer's for you!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Walken with the dead: Undertaking Betty - Alfred Molina, Brenda Blethyn (2002)

Lihsa's Reviews - Undertaking Betty
This farcical romance, Undertaking Betty, pairs dueling  mortuaries and philandering politicians to create a one-of-a-kind Welsh comedy.

Undertaking Betty has an all-star cast including Alfred Molina (Spiderman 2), Brenda Biethyn (Vera, Atonement), Christopher Walken (Hairspray, Pulp Fiction) and Naomi Watts (Mulholland Dr., The Ring).

Boris Plots (Molina) has been harbouring a 30-year crush on Betty (Biethyn), dashed when she chose to dance with Hugh (Pugh).

Thirty years later, Hugh is married to the blissfully unaware Betty but is catting around with his secretary (Watts).

And instead of Boris following his dreams to become a ballroom dancer, he ends up taking over his father's mortuary.

So begins this silly film. It is worth a couple of hours to see Christopher Walken in one of his sillier performances. His hair alone could be a character.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Stuck in your head kind of tunes, courtesy of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt


Apparently, I'm not the only one with the theme song of "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" stuck in my head. The LA Times wrote an entire article about the show's catchy tunes.

If you want to banish it, try listening to the show's Madonna-esque "Peenot Noir".

But it may just be a matter of jumping from the the frying pan into the fire.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

INSTAGRAM STAR - Just in time for Easter: @VeryFatRabbit

A photo posted by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀M A S O N (@veryfatrabbit) on

Undeniable, Irrepressible: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper)

I wasn't able to stop binge-watching 30 Rock executive producer Robert Carlock and Tina Fey's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Only available on Netflix, this series is about Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper) who is one of four women who were held captive in an underground bunker by doomsday cult leader Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (I'm not disclosing the actor because it is just too damned hilarious to ruin the surprise for you).

The women, who go into captivity as teenagers, are finally freed 15 years later. Afterwards. the media descends and they are whisked off to the Today Show to be interviewed by Matt Lauer. Referred to as the "Mole Women," they are shuttled off the show with a hearty "thank you Victims", treated to spontaneous make-overs and showered with unexpected wealth.

But Kimmy wants out. Out of the new trap called victimhood. She intends to break free and find her own way in New York.

In a mad-cap romp through Manhattan and Brooklyn, she finds, in one day, an apartment with landlord Lillian Kaushtupper (Carol Kane, of Princess Bride fame), a roommate Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess), and a job as a nanny for Jacqueline Voorhees (Jane Krakowski of 30 Rock fame).

With all the hilarious cultural references--the first one is the catchy theme song inspired by the viral sensation derived from real-life news report featuring Antoine Dodson--Kimmy Schmidt's spirit is irrepressible. One part Pippi Longstockings, one-part Amelia Bedilia, Kimmy is an odd mix of naiveté, quick wittedness, and joie de vivre.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Learn the real meaning of Jail Bait: Bates Motel (Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore)

I'm watching Bates Motel and thinking this is The Goldbergs with guns.

The prequel to Psycho, Bates Motel examines the guilt-ridden relationship between Norman and his mother, Norma Bates. Yes, I said that. Norman and Norma.

It's that same kind of ludicrous, over-the-top awfulness that makes the show so spectacularly creepy.

It reminds me of a course I took at UT on horror when I learned that the very things that make us happy will also scare us to death. Think about it: clowns, dolls, mannequins.

The show does a great job of explaining why Norman, played by Freddie Highmore, is so screwed up. Partly his mother, partly his genetics, partly his mental state, he couldn't look more like Anthony Perkins.

Norma Bates, played by Academy-award nominated Vera Farmiga, is like a hyperbolic mash-up of Donna Reed and Mad Men's January Jones. One minute she's like a streak of sunlight; the next, she's swirling debris in her wake. And then there's her obsessive cleaning.

And it has a weird, anachronistic feel to it with its smart phones and 50s dressware. The set is an incredible recreation of Hitchcock's set.

One fun fact, after reading the trivia on the IMDb site, I learned that the house is based on an Ed Hopper painting, The House by the Road.

With 3 seasons under its belt, its a great show to binge watch.

Watch it on Amazon Prime Instant Video.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

The other side of Austin's SXSW - a magical, mystery tour: Frida Kahlo, Alice in Wonderland and Lammes candies

This past weekend, I took a spontaneous trip to Austin to look at two very intriguing exhibits at the Harry Ransom Center that were just shouting my name: Frida Kahlo and Alice and Wonderland.

The other side of Austin's SXSW - a magical, mystery tour: Frida Kahlo, Alice in Wonderland and Lammes candies

I mean, isn't that the best combination ever? And in Austin, no less!

So Saturday morning, I threw some things in my Mary Poppins bag and headed out into the pouring rain. It rained the whole way to Austin. But I took a break at Hruska’s Store & Bakery and had one of the best cinnamon rolls I have ever had; believe me, I did a taste comparison the following day at Shipley's. Chockfull of pecans, there are two types: glazed or iced. Make sure and get the ones with icing.

I made it into Austin, hitting some SXSW traffic but it wasn't too bad as I was headed to the University of Texas campus.

Making my way to the Harry Ransom Center, it was the perfect time of year to go to Austin. Spring is beautiful in Austin. The Texas Mountain Laurel was in full bloom, scenting the air with grape kool-aid--I kid you not!

The other side of Austin's SXSW - a magical, mystery tour: Frida Kahlo, Alice in Wonderland and Lammes candies

The exhibit was sensational. Although there was only one Frida Kahlo, Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, it was completely worth the trip. We weren't permitted to photograph it, so I took a photo of a promotional banner instead. It was much smaller than I expected it to be but the colors were so rich and vibrant.

The other side of Austin's SXSW - a magical, mystery tour: Frida Kahlo, Alice in Wonderland and Lammes candies

The Alice and Wonderland exhibit celebrates 150 years since its publication. The collection included the very first suppressed edition, original illustrations, all the different Alice publications, films, artwork and ephemera.



This was my favorite piece of art.

The other side of Austin's SXSW - a magical, mystery tour: Frida Kahlo, Alice in Wonderland and Lammes candies

Afterwards, I drove around to all of my old haunts--the only one left standing was that wretched bar, The Hole in the Wall. I finally stumbled upon the awesome Lammes candies. OMG. Longhorn clusters, chocolate easter bunnies, pecan fudge. Yumm-o.

The other side of Austin's SXSW - a magical, mystery tour: Frida Kahlo, Alice in Wonderland and Lammes candies

Take a look at this candy case!!

The other side of Austin's SXSW - a magical, mystery tour: Frida Kahlo, Alice in Wonderland and Lammes candies

I ended up spending the night in San Marcos, eating pimiento cheese sandwiches. By the way HEB makes the best pimiento cheese!

The next day, I headed home, taking the scenic route. Isn't this a great look-out? It had finally stopped raining and and the sky was such a pretty blue ...

The other side of Austin's SXSW - a magical, mystery tour: Frida Kahlo, Alice in Wonderland and Lammes candies

And just for grins, I took this photo for my friend, Jim Ross, this historical marker.

The other side of Austin's SXSW - a magical, mystery tour: Frida Kahlo, Alice in Wonderland and Lammes candies



Headhunters Review

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Heist Love: Headhunters (2011) - Aksel Hennie, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

The Norwegian film Headhunters, with Aksel Hennie and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, is probably the best heist film I have seen in a long time. Aksel Hennie is a well-known Norwegian actor, director and producer, while Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is most well-known as Jamie Lannister from Game of Thrones.
Lihsa's Reviews - Headhunters

My sister and I love to watch heist movies. And this one didn't disappoint. Full of goony characters and slick art thefts, this movie kept me guessing until nearly the end.

Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) is a headhunter at one of the top agencies in Norway. But he has a short-man complex and a very tall and beautiful Norwegian wife whom he doesn't quite feel worthy of. So he over-compensates by spending astronomical amounts of money on homes, jewelry and an art gallery for her. So he has to subsidize his salary by stealing art.

He has a spectacular system going by scoping out possible heists by interviewing targets as clients. Then at his wife's art gallery opening he meets the taller, better-looking, more successful Clas Greev (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). He finds out from his wife that Clas owns a Ruben and also happens to be looking for a new job. So Roger decides he has to interview him as his next target.

And that's just the beginning.

Warning: it has subtitles. But even if you are averse to reading your movies don't let that keep you away. It's worth every word.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Sometimes you get fascinated by the underside of a rock: Nightcrawler (Jake Gyllenhaal, Renee Russo)


This past weekend I watched Nightcrawler with Jake Gyllenhaal.

Watching Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is like watching a maggot move onto a side of meat and go into a feeding frenzy. The more it eats, the more it wants, and it is never satiated.

He turns his too-wide eyes onto any possible feast. He starts as a bottom feeder, knocking out a security guard when confronted for stealing copper wiring. At every turn, he's trying to  get to bigger and better game. Showing no fear, he asks the scrap metal owner to hire him, giving the guy an impressive sales pitch.

I could imagine Tony Robbins being this way before he ever got big.

Turned away by the scrap metaller, Louis crawls back into the night, making his way home only to come across a wreck on the highway. That's when he sees a videographer hovering over the cops, taping the wreckage. Louis starts asking questions; that's when he finds out that the video is going to get sold. Then Louis starts calculating.

 Slowly, Louis begins to feed off the wreckage. And we get to watch the progression of his insatiable appetite.

Nightcrawler - Jake Gyllenhaal


Watch it on Amazon Prime Instant Video.




Monday, March 16, 2015

Care for a cuppa with a wee bit a' St. Paddy's Day Irish Tea Cake?

Care for a cuppa with the St. Paddy's Day Irish Tea Cake?

Come celebrate St. Patrick's Day with me! I made an Irish tea cake and it was super-easy and you'll likely have most of the ingredients on hand.

With a simple powdered sugar topping, I free-handed a four-leaf clover stencil to make the cake top's pattern.

This is a very cakey-cake, if you know what I mean. It is pretty dense. I'm thinking about adding some strawberries on Monday.

Irish Tea Cake

1/2 c softened butter
1 c white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c milk
1/4 c confectioners' sugar for dusting

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9-in round pan.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until incorporated; stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir the batter in alternately with the milk. If the batter is too stiff, stir in a bit of milk. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack, then turn out onto a serving plate. Dust with confectioners' sugar right before serving.






Sunday, March 15, 2015

Everything's coming up rose gold: CB2's letter holder

Everything's coming up rose gold: CB2's rose gold letter holder

I just had to show off one of my favorite new accessories: my CB2 rose gold letter holder.

A lovely patina, I love how it plays against my green granite countertop. And I'm not a big fan of matchy-matchy, so it looks great with my updated silver vintage desk accessories.

The letter holder is paired up with my Target Threshold file folders and, if I do say so myself, looks spectacular.

Everything's coming up rose gold: CB2's rose gold letter holder

Let me show how you how it looks with everything. It looks great, doesn't it?

If you are interested in seeing a close-up of my vintage stapler and tape dispenser, let me know in  the comments below.



Everything's coming up rose gold: CB2's rose gold letter holder


Whitney English Day Planner
CB2 Balance rose gold letter divider
Target Thank you cards
Target Threshold file folders - no longer available
Target binders
Target accordion folder - in $1 bins
Barnes & Noble letter trays
Harrod's notepad - no longer available


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Drop-Dead Diva is Drop-Dead Fantastic (Brooke Elliott, Margaret Cho)

I am so excited--the full 6th season of Drop-Dead Diva is now available on Netflix.

If you haven't seen this TV series and you love romantic comedies with a legal bent, you will adore this show.

The premise goes like this: a ding-dong blonde with aspirations of modeling is engaged to be married. On her way to an audition, she has a fatal car wreck and ends up in Heaven. Furious, she manages to wiggle her way back to earth but ends up in the body of a bookish, dowdy lawyer who just happens to work at the same law firm as her fiancé.

For 6 seasons we've watched bookish lawyer Jane Bingham (Brooke Elliott) transform before our very eyes. She gets a sense of fashion while retaining her razor-sharp knowledge of the law, and all the while watching her pine of her mourning fiancé, Grayson Kent (Jackson Hurst). By the way, Jackson Hurst is a born and bred Houstonian and attended the Catholic high school just down the street from me--see, fate!

Jane is surrounded by a host of characters--her admin Teri Lee (Margaret Cho),  her best friend Stacy Berrett (April Bowlby) and a host of guardian angels, starting with Fred (Ben Feldman). Each episode covers a couple of fun cases handled by Jane and her former fiancé's firm.

And, every once in a while, there is a musical dream sequence.

Stream the first season of Drop-Dead Diva.






Friday, March 13, 2015

Good Girl Does Good: My Last Day Without You (Nicole Beharie, Ken Dukan)



Frankly, I am amazed by the movie, Good Girl Gone Good: My Last Day Without You. I was ready for a love story but this one really went off the training wheels.

Starring Nicole Beharie from Sleepy Hollow, this girl has pipes. She wails the blues like a child cries for her mother.

But I digress.

Leticia (Nicole Beharie) has been working as an admin for less than 6 months. Niklas (Ken Dukan) arrives from Munich to shut down her company. Before his fatal meeting with the heads of the company, he has a fateful run-in with Leticia at a coffee shop. Sparks fly and the romance ensues.

What I really liked about this movie was how Leticia handles herself. This is no wilting wallflower. She is strong, determined and knows who she is. I was completely impressed by this story.

This is not your usual fluffy romance.

Watch My Last Day Without You on streaming video.




Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Kingsman is Krap (Colin Firth, Michael Caine, Jack Davenport)

I need to know how much they paid Colin Firth to be in Kingsman: The Secret Service.
Kingsman is Krap

It was a pure abomination to his reputation and his acting skills.

The thing is, it was actually pretty good up until the church scene. Then it turned into a "Kill Bill"-squared = KillBill2.

And, really, I should have had a clue when, within the first 15 minutes of the movie, the first iteration of Lancelot (Jack Davenport) is cut in half--vertically.

It was the bloodiest, most violent, display of mayhem I have ever seen.

And I wouldn't necessarily characterize myself as a milquetoast or holier-than-thou; geez, one of my favorite movies is Reservoir Dogs.

But this movie was just foul, full of over-the-top violence, disgusting language and stupidity.

From the director of X-Men and Kick-Ass, I should have anticipated the turn of events. However, it was the casting of Colin Firth and Michael Caine that lured me in. That and the lovely references to King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table; however, the use of a conference room table rather than a round table should have been the first big clue.

Don't waste your time. And surely don't take your children--it is rated R for a very good reason.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Goldbergs: 80s do-over (Wendi McLendon-Covey, Sean Giambrone, Adam Goldberg)


Nostalgic TV isn't new. There's MacHale's Navy, Mayberry RFD, Happy Days.

Now there's The Goldbergs, reviving the 80s.

Narrated by the now grown-up Adam Goldberg, he recalls his family tales via his own videotaped history.

Adam and his older brother Barry and oldest sister Erica live in their ranch-style home with their furniture-salesman father, Murray, and s-mother, Beverly.

Into its second season, there are some great scene stealers by Barry (played by Troy Gentile) and the family s-mother (played by Wendy McLendon-Covey).

Possibly one of my favorite episodes was Kara-te. Barry, convinced, he is a karate expert because he endlessly watches Karate Kid and KickBoxer, decides to wow the High School Talent Show with his self-taught moves. Troy Gentile, as Barry, is so over-the-top self-involved that instead of cringing in empathetic embarrassment, I just sit back and laugh at his delusions of grandeure and then hope he wins the school show.

Rugby shirts, warm-ups, leg warmers and VHS all make their appropriate appearance.

Stream the first season of The Goldbergs.

Friday, March 6, 2015

February Favorites!

I saw some great movies, binge watched some good TV and read some fun books. Learn more below!

Movies


The Way - Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez

This movie made me want to sell everything and walk the Pyrenes Mountains.

An unsentimental view of how man copes when his adult son decides to pursue his dreams only to lose his life.

Starring real-life father and son duo, Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez, the movie examines ambitions, dreams, grief and love.

If you love travelogues, don't mind a dose of spirituality and buddy movies, this is the movie for you. And, even though this does take place on a Catholic pilgrimage, it has a mild spiritual overtones.

Not Another Happy Ending - Karen Gillian, Henry Cusick

This British rom-com has Dr. Who darling Karen Gillian and French actor and Scandal star, Henry Ian Cusick.

If you love movies about writers, this one's for you. Jane has been trying to get her novel published. After a stream of rejections, finally the foul-mouthed editor, Willie takes her novel on. Together, they work to make it the "novel of the year". And that's when it all starts to go down hill.

Peruvian Henry Ian Cusick does a brilliant job of playing a bossy French man. And Kareen Gillian is delightful as the lovely first-time novelist, quirky menswear aside. Definitely one to watch.

HornsHorns - Daniel Radcliffe and Juno Temple - instant view

A quirky morality tale starring Harry Potter's Daniel Radcliffe examines honesty, revenge and free will.

Ig falls in love Merrin when they are just children. Their love seems destined for marriage until she is found dead.

Traumatized and distraught, he is victimized by the town and his family who believes he is her murderer. After a night of debauchery, he wakes up to find he has grown horns.

Surreal and sad, this movie examines the nature of good and evil.


TV Shows


Justified - Timothy Olyphant - instant view

This 6-season series covers a volatile, recalcitrant US Deputy Marshall's return to his hom-state of Kentucky.

Fielding feuding hillbilly families entrenched in drug wars that would put the mob to shame, Raylan Givens picks up where he left off, running into old enemies, an ex-wife and an estranged father.

Bullets fly, bombs explode and alliances flip.

All in a single episode. Based on Elmore Leonard's short story, Fire in the Hole.


Bosch - Titus Welliver - instant view

Only available on Amazon Prime, Bosch is a video series based upon Michael Connelly's detective Harry Bosch.

Much like Justified's Raylan Givens, Harry Bosch runs along the edge of the law in LA. Described as new noir, the cinematography is shadowed and gritty.

Harry Bosch is maligned, shredded and accused from all sides.

Nevertheless, he solves crimes, closes down delinquents and generally cleans up the mayhem.


Books


Pilgrim Road: A Benedictine Journey Through Lent - Albert Holtz, OSB

Pilgrim Road - Albert Holtz, OSB - Kindle

Benedictine monk takes the reader through a Lenten journey through 40 days worth of pilgrim sites.

Illustrated by the author with small sketches of the pilgrim sites drawn during his journeys, his words will transport you to these saintly sites.

Traveling from Spain to Bogota, then France then England, this book is delightful, thought-provoking and will guide you towards a deeper Lenten experience.



To Catch a Bad Guy - Marie Astor

To Catch a Bad Guy - Marie Astor - Kindle

Marie Astor's white-collar crime mystery follows former AG Janet Maple and financial investigator Dennis Walker as they stumble upon one another during their tenure at a financial investment firm.

Dennis is working under cover to investigate the firm's investments when Janet is hired by her friend to join as counsel after getting laid off from the AG's office. 

Sparks start to fly as both Janet and Dennis begin to realize their instincts are right.

A fun romp, there is no gratuitous sex and a smart read.



Kindle eBooks
Amazon Movies and TV