Wicked Wednesday: Movies that make you want to fall in love (again)

Okay, I admit this one is a little more obscure, with our “movies that make you…” theme, but what I’m looking for here are love stories. Wonderful, stories that sweep you up in the romance. Romances, historicals, and romantic comedies all count here. Go!

Jessie: I love You’ve Got Mail. There are so many great moments in that movie that I watch it at least a couple times each year. And I adore Love, Actually. It does such a great job of showing so many facets of the complex thing we all sum up with the single word, Love.

Julie: Does the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehie Pride and Prejudice count? Cause I’d put that on the top of my list. But if you want movie-movies, I really love When Harry Met Sally. Charming, funny, romantic. Sleepless in Seattle is also a favorite of mine.

Sherry: Oh, Julie, I love that version of Pride and Prejudice too! Colin Firth, be still my heart. That brings me to my choice Love Actually! I think I could have listed Love Actually in the last categories, laugh, cry, love. It hits every level of emotion. Maybe I’ll go watch it right now!

Barb: I’m a sucker for romantic comedies. Nora Ephron, Nancy Meyers, Richard Curtis–bring them on! It’s hard to pick a favorite. I love When Harry Met Sally. I love Four Weddings and a Funeral. I watch Love, Actually every Christmas season–preferably while doing something Christmas-y like writing cards or wrapping presents. I’m also a sucker for Nick Hornby novels made into movies, no matter how much they mess with the originals, which I also love: Fever Pitch, High Fidelity, and my absolute favorite, About a Boy.

Liz: I love When Harry Met Sally too, Barb! I haven’t watched Love, Actually in years – maybe I need to refresh my memory. This may sound totally cheesy, but there’s something about the Jack and Rose love story in Titanic that gets me every time. That whole right side of the tracks meets wrong side thing, I guess…

Dr-ZhivagoEdith: Dr. Zhivago. Does it get any more romantic than the Russian Steppes, Omar Sharif, and Julie Christie, with balalaika music in the background? Other than that, I’ll also vote for Sleepless in Seattle, even though I saw it a long time ago, and will bring Bridges of Madison County back in for a replay, even though I already used it in the movies-that-make-you-cry post last week.

Readers: Dish! Share your favorite romantic movies.


Wicked Wednesday: Movies that make you cry

Sometimes we all need to cry. When this your mood, what movie to do you seek out? Bonus points if you can name one that doesn’t lose its impact even if you watch it over and over.

Julie: An Affair to Remember, with Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant. I SOB when he sees the painting at the end. SOB. Kills me. I can watch it again and again. I’ve also cried at other movies, but can’t bear to rewatch. An Affair to Remember is that fine line of romantic melodrama that just works.

Jessie: I had a tough time with this question. I have never looked for a movie that gave me the opportunity to cry. It just isn’t my way of being in the world. That being said, some movies have made me cry. I can’t get through Forrest Gump without a few tears.

Bridges of MadisonCountyEdith: Bridges of Madison County. I don’t care what anybody else says, I love this movie and its hopeless romance. I cry through most of it every single time.

Sherry: I’ve cried my way through a lot of movies over the years from Disney to Love Story to classics like West Side Story. I guess I cry easily at movies!

Barb: It’s time to admit I’m a big blubberer. I’ll cry at books, plays, movies, TV shows and even commercials if you catch me in the right mood. For a good cry, I’ll go with Beaches, the female buddy movie where they don’t drive off a cliff at the end. But there’s always Terms of Endearment (sobbed through the book, too) or Steel Magnolias. For a sad time, call….

Readers. what movies make you cry? Is that a good thing or a bad thing.


Wicked Wednesday: Movies that make you laugh

Hi all. In June the Wickeds are dreaming of Hollywood and talking about some of our favorite movies.

Sometimes we just need to laugh, and I mean belly laugh. When laughter is what you seek, what is your go-to favorite movies and why?

Jessie: I love A Fish Called Wanda. I always adore movies featuring John Cleese and his performance as a straight-laced solicitor whose life takes an exciting turn when he falls for Jamie Lee Curtis never fails to make me laugh.

LifeofBrianEdith:  I’ll vote for just about any Marx Brothers movie: “Night at the Opera,” “Day at the Races,” you name it. Also,  and here’s another nod to John Cleese, Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” really cracks me up. When his mother says, “‘E’s not the Messiah, ‘e’s just a very nau’y [naughty] boy!” When the people are standing so far back they can’t hear him and they think he says, “Blessed are the cheesemakers.” When he’s running from his followers and loses a sandal and they stop and declare, “The shoe is the sign!” And on and on.

Liz: Ok, I’m really behind in my movie watching, so I have to go back to the 80s (but really, isn’t everything awesome from the 80s??) – “Adventures in Babysitting” with Elizabeth Shue. OMG, that movie never fails to crack me up, even today if I catch bits of it in reruns. It’s about a girl who gets stood up by her boyfriend on a Saturday night, so instead she goes to babysit for a family with a young daughter and a teenage boy who has a crush on her. But her best friend decides to run away from home and gets stranded at the bus station in downtown Chicago, so she has to go pick her up. And of course, everything that can go wrong…it’s freakin hilarious.

Barb: I loved A Fish Called Wanda and Adventures in Babysitting. One of my fondest memories is of seeing It’s a Mad Mad World in a theater in Manhattan with my grandparents. My little brother laughed so hard he got wedged between his seat and its back and had to be rescued by an usher. Now that’s a comedy. Just to prove that the Wickeds have laughed during the twenty-first century, I really loved 40 Year Old Virgin, Crazy Stupid Love, and Mean Girls.

Sherry: I loved Crazy Stupid Love and Mean Girls too, Barb. First, my oldest one — Young Frankenstein with Gene Wilder and Madeline Kahn. I can still recite lines from that movie. Jump ahead a decade to Jumpin’ Jack Flash with Whoopie Goldberg. The first 3/4 quarters of that movie are so funny, it makes me chuckle to think about it. And the end is sweet and romantic. I noticed when I looked to see what year it came out it’s called a action/thriller. It has elements of that too. My third pick is Saving Grace (2000) with Brenda Blethyn and Craig Ferguson. The blurb on IMDb says: A small-town English widow, facing financial troubles after her husband’s suicide, turns to agriculture of an illegal kind. This wouldn’t usually be my thing, but oh, my!

Julie: I love, love, love to laugh. In addition to many of these (A Fish Called Wanda–I haven’t seen that for years!) I have to add two Rob Reiner movies, Spinal Tap and The Sure Thing. I’d add When Harry Met Sally, but that isn’t belly laughs. Also, have to call out the genius that is Christopher Guest–Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind.  PS, Barb, I love the story of your brother laughing that hard.

Readers: What are your go-to movies when you really need a laugh?



Wicked Wednesday – Favorite Brew Pubs

NEWS: Jadedcup is the randomly selected winner of Edith’s author apron from yesterday’s post. Congratulations! Please send your mailing address to edith at edithmaxwell dot com.

It’s Wicked Wednesday and we’re celebrating the release of Edith’s Mulch Ado About Murder! In honor of a scene in the book, we’re dishing about our favorite brew pubs today. Wickeds, name your fave!

Jessie: I’m not sure I have ever even been to a brew pub. I have to confess, I am really not a fan of beer. For me, wine, martinis and caipirinhas are all delicious and fun but beer? I just don’t get it.

Liz: I don’t drink beer either anymore, but there is a really cool place in the town I used to live, the Willimantic Brewing Company.  Aside from the beer factor – which makes it hugely popular, the overall atmosphere is cool. It’s the former post office, and they’ve named everything on their menu has a post office theme, whether it’s something named after a town in the area or an “air mail special.” The mixed drinks are pretty awesome too!

Julie: Jessie and Liz, I love beer enough for both of you! Last year we took a tour of the Harpoon brewery. SO much fun. They make pretzels with the leftover yeast that they serve with different sauces. Can’t recommend it enough! I also love the Cambridge Brewing Company. Boston has a lot of great bars and pubs, so I am just scratching the surface.

Barb: My favorite brew pub? The one that’s hardest to get to. Monhegan Brewing Company, “Fine Craft Ale, Ten Miles Out to Sea.” You already know that if you come to Maine in the summer, I urge you to spend a night on Monhegan Island. There are no paved roads and almost no vehicles, but there is a craft brewing company, and it’s well worth the short walk to get there. On a warm day, there’s nothing like it.

Sherry: I’m not sure I have a favorite brew pub. But I’ve been to a lot of pubs I’ve enjoyed over the years. One of them is the London Bridge Pub in Monterey, California. They have such a beautiful view that any beer would taste good.

Edith: The scene in the book is at Throwback Brewery in North Hampton, NH. We discovered it on a brewery tour (crawl?) after Christmas a couple of years ago, and have been back several times. Run by two women, it has a delightful air, fabulous beer, and tasty food. They grow their own hops and I tried to be true to the outdoors seating in the scene I wrote. And they gave me the recipe I included in the book!

Readers: Do you have a favorite beer or brew pub?


Wicked Wednesday – Short Stories

Wicked Wednesday again, and we’re continuing our “What else do we read besides mystery fiction” series. Today we’re going to make a lot of our writer friends happy and talk short stories (and it’s ok if they’re mysterious!). Wickeds, name your favorite!

Jessie: I loved Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl and all of the short stories by Agatha Christie.

MysteryMostHistoricalEdith: I started with Edgar Allan Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle as a child. In recent years I’ve been fortunate enough to have one or two stories a year published in anthologies (and even nominated for Agatha Awards!), and I love perusing those collections. This year’s Malice Domestic 12: Mystery Most Historical includes a whole slew of fabulous stories, including ones by friends of the Wickeds Liz Milliron, KB Inglee, Catriona McPherson, Kathy Lynn Emerson, Victoria Thompson, and Nancy Herriman, (and yours truly) among others.

Barb: I love short stories. I chased down as many of Ruth Rendell’s short stories as I could find looking for something that happened to the characters “in between” two books in the Wexford series. And, after I abandoned literary fiction in the 1980s, it was Alice Munro’s short stories that brought me back. But my favorite mystery short story is “The Woman in the Wardrobe,” by Robert Barnard from Death of a Salesperson and Other Untimely Events. My favorite literary short story is “The Horseman,” by Richard Russo, because it is perfect. It’s recently been re-released in Trajectory, a collection of four of Russo’s long shorts.

Liz: I love Roald Dahl too – I remember reading The Way Up to Heaven in college and it’s remained one of my favorites.

Sherry: When I was in elementary school I read a book of short stories called Night in Funland and Other Stories. In the title story a kid gets on a Ferris Wheel as the dad waits below. When the ride ends the kid is missing. It was such a creepy story and I’ve never forgotten it. As an adult I hadn’t read a lot of short stories until the last few years when so many of my writing friends have great stories in anthologies like those put out by the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime and by Level Best Books.

Julie: Liz, you are testing us this month with the Wicked Wednesdays! Like Jessie, I like Agatha Christie’s short stories. I am also a Flannery O’Connor fan. The Lottery still gives me nightmares, so I suppose I should add Shirley Jackson to the list.

Edith: My son introduced me to “The Lottery.” Gah…

Readers, weigh in with your favorites!




Wicked Wednesday – Favorite Children’s Book

Wicked Wednesday again, and we’re continuing our “What else do we read besides mystery fiction” series. Today we’re talking children’s books – maybe we don’t read them all the time, but we all must have a couple that stand out that we’d gift to the young people in our lives. So Wickeds, which book would you pick?

Liz: I’ve gotta go back to Dr. Seuss for this one – Oh, The Places You’ll Go! It’s so simple but inspirational and you can go back at any age for a pep talk! My favorite quote: “You have brains in your head you have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

Jessie: I love books by Roald Dahl. The Twits is one that I love, as is Esio Trot.  I also adore books by Lloyd Alexander. His Prydain Chronicles books  are amongst my favorites. I also adored his West Mark trilogy. For budding mystery lovers of the right age, it’s hard to beat The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin.

Edith: I am going to chime in with a couple of middle-grade books by Elizabeth Atkinson.Island-high-res She had a tough time as a tween, and writes books to help other kids in that situation get through a difficult age. I, Emma Freake is a wonderful, engaging story about a girl who feels like a misfit – until she goes alone to meet her father’s quirky family for the first time, and they’re all tall redheads like her. Atkinson’s latest, The Island of Beyond, is her first story featuring a boy. I highly recommend all Elizabeth’s books – and she lives down the road from Stephen King in Maine (he jogs by her house in the mornings), so you know she’s absorbing super-creative energies in addition to her own.

Sherry: I’ve probably said this a million times here, but I love the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. They are based on Maud’s life growing up in Mankato, Minnesota. They start when Betsy is five and first meets Tacy who moves in across the street. They continue through the last book Betsy’s Wedding. As Betsy grows up the reading level increases. They are wonderful, warm books. I still read them.

smile for auntieBarb: One of the wonderful things about being a grandparent is that you get to revisit your children’s favorite books, and sometimes even your own favorite books from childhood. Some of those are classics like The Cat in the Hat, and some are eccentric books that just tickled your family for whatever reason. One of my kids’ favorites, and now Viola’s, was Smile for Auntie, in which a babushka-wearing aunt tortures a baby with tickles and silly faces, trying to get him to smile, and he does–the moment she goes away. (This book was given to my son Robert when he was an infant, by his aunt, who thought it was hilarious.)

Julie: Too many to name! I love Robert McCloskey books–Make Way For Duckings was a favorite. I also loved Harriet the Spy, and (natch) Nancy Drew.

Readers: What are your favorite children’s books (and remember, twelve-year-olds are still children)?




Wicked Wednesday – Favorite Poets

Happy Wednesday! Continuing the theme of “what are we reading that isn’t mystery fiction,” let’s talk poetry today, Wickeds. Who’s your favorite poet, or what’s your favorite poem and why?

Liz: I’ve been super into Mary Oliver lately. I discovered her years ago with her famous poem The Journey and lately I’ve been devouring her work. Wild Geese keeps coming up lately – one of her standards, but seems so relevant for me right now. I think she’s such a master at weaving life and nature into one concept. (As you can see, I like to mark my favorites!)


Edith: Mary Oliver is one of my favorites, too. “The Summer Day,” with it’s stunning, clarion-call last line: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” I also love many of Billy Collin’s poems, particularly when I can hear him read them himself in his regular, almost deadpan voice. “Purity” is a wonderful poem for authors, about his favorite time to write, and how he goes about it. Here’s the first part:

My favorite time to write is in the late afternoon,
weekdays, particularly Wednesdays.
This is how I got about it:
I take a fresh pot of tea into my study and close the door.
Then I remove my clothes and leave them in a pile
as if I had melted to death and my legacy consisted of only
a white shirt, a pair of pants and a pot of cold tea.

Then I remove my flesh and hang it over a chair.
I slide it off my bones like a silken garment.
I do this so that what I write will be pure,
completely rinsed of the carnal,
uncontaminated by the preoccupations of the body.

Finally I remove each of my organs and arrange them
on a small table near the window.
I do not want to hear their ancient rhythms
when I am trying to tap out my own drumbeat.

Now I sit down at the desk, ready to begin.
I am entirely pure: nothing but a skeleton at a typewriter.

Sherry: I confess I don’t read a lot of poetry. It’s not that I don’t like it, but it usually isn’t on my radar unless someone posts a poem. I tend to like New England poets like Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson. Here is my favorite poem of hers. I had it posted on my bulletin board for years starting in high school:

Not In Vain

by Emily Dickinson

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain:
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

Jessie: When I was a small child I received a copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein which I loved for its silliness and its wisdom. I love it still. Here’s one of my favorites:

Listen to the Mustn’ts

Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child,

Listen to the DON’TS

Listen to the SHOULDN’TS


Listen to the NEVER HAVES

Then listen close to me-

Anything can happen, child,

ANYTHING can be.

Barb: In honor of Key West, I’m including poet Elizabeth Bishop. (Though I would note that three other poets mentioned in this post have connections there. Robert Frost spent part of eighteen winters, Shel Silverstein lived there, and Billy Collins lives there now.)

One Art

by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

– Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Julie: Like Sherry, I am not a huge poetry reader. But my friend Ruth Polleys makes me reconsider it. She has an MFA in poetry, and wrote a remarkable blog called “All That Can Happen in 1000 Days”. (A line from Our Town.) Part memoir of an extraordinary time in her life, part poetry journal. Very raw.  I’ve been trying to talk her into doing something with it for a couple of years. Her passion for poetry is contagious, and her talent is real. I’m going to say that Ruth is my favorite poet. (PS, if you are going to read the blog, start from day one. It is a journey.)

Edith: These are all so wonderful. I must include one more, which I had on my wall for many years, by Rumi:

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Readers: Share your favorite poet or poem!