Wednesday, September 20, 2017

It's Here!!

I am SO PROUD of this! A Dream Given Form was officially published yesterday and copies that were pre-ordered should be showing up in mailboxes over the next couple of days. As I said in my last post, this was a project that was delayed for a while, but people never gave up hope on it.

Not only is our baby seeing the light of day, the Kindle edition is currently the #1 new release in the category of Television Guides & Reviews.

Turns out that faith really does manage!

A Dream Given Form is available everywhere fine books are sold.

Sunday, August 27, 2017


Finally! A Dream Given Form, the new book by Ensley F. Guffey and me, will be published in three weeks! This book has been a long time coming, since it was delayed by my Unfortunate Brush with Not-Quite Cancer at the end of 2014. Surgery and post-surgical treatment involving non-gamma rays made this a lengthy delay, but ECW Press never wavered in their commitment to the project. Nor, should I add, did Ensley who is my husband, on top of being a dedicated and talented writer. Really - he is.

Then, just as we thought we had Dream through it's really-no-kidding final check, the planets aligned and we were able to arrange an interview with Peter Jurasik, who brought the magnificently-flawed character of Londo Mollari to life. (Seriously, the manuscript was three days away from going to the printer.) We scrambled to make the interview happen, and wow! readers will be rewarded for that, I think. Jurasik was so generous and kind and funny with his recollections and he's very serious about his craft. The interview is an amazing addition to a book that we already thought was pretty darned nifty.

Publication is scheduled for September 19, but we'll have the official book launch here in our hometown of Shelby, NC in two weeks. On Saturday, September 9, Ensley and I will sign copies at Hip-O-Kat Retro & Vintage.* There will be food, beverages, and treats. Hopefully some other uptown merchants will be in on the action! Final details are being ironed out in the next few days, but I wanted to go ahead and mention this now, in order to help you make plans to enjoy uptown Shelby that day and come on by to talk Babylon 5 with us!

*Can't make it, but want a signed copy? Never fear! Simply contact us through the comments here on the blog and we'll make payment and shipping arrangements!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Since last we spoke, I've seen a number of films that have been all over the map. Let me just give you some capsule reviews to serve as catch-up.

First, on our way out West for vacation (dry heat is hot, yes, but it's not 90% humidity like it is at home!), I watched Florence Foster Jenkins and was surprised by how charming I found it to be. It could have been a simple one-trick pony - after all, the basic plotline is rich woman loves music, wants to sing, is just awful, but those around her shield her from this knowledge.

As Florence, Meryl Streep is wonderful. Her performance is not an over-the-top caricature, which would have been easy to do. Instead, Streep pulls in and lets us see this ageing socialite as a real person with real concerns. Jenkins' singing may have been treated as a joke, but her much-younger husband (played by Hugh Grant with rare restraint) has deep affection for her that transcends money (although they have an "arrangement," the need for which is described in heartbreaking detail) and her pianist (Big Bang Theory's Simon Helberg) comes to value the underlying warmth that emanates from this woman. While not a movie for the ages, it's a solid film and one with a simple underpinning of compassion and heart - you could do far worse.

Case in point - Spider-Man: Homecoming. I've had trouble putting my finger on it, but this movie left me just unsatisfied. It's far from bad, Tom Holland is solid, and there are some nice twists and turns in here (especially regarding Peter Parker's schoolmates), yet it never quite added up to WOW! for me. Yeah, yeah - Tony Stark. Yeah, yeah - a non-cadaverous Aunt May. Yeah, yeah - Michael Keaton as a much more interesting birdman than I thought he was in that other movie. It just never was quite enough for me. Still - I prefer Holland to Andrew Garfield's turn as the Web-Slinger. (Then again, after his turn in Hacksaw Ridge, all is forgiven, Andy!) I say it's a rental, but others may well disagree, and that's okay.

Then - zoinks! as Shaggy might say. FryDaddy and I had a rare opportunity to see Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid shown outside on a clear Utah night as part of the Sundance Institute's summer programming series. Think picnic on the grounds and you're there. I'd never seen Butch on the big screen and I was entranced enough to ignore my (very) cold feet. Butch is just a fantastic film and the obvious chemistry between Paul Newman and Robert Redford is glorious to watch. Also, we both won small prizes for our knowledge of Butch trivia, and yay! for prizes. Seriously, scout around your own area - outside summer movies are quite a thing and they are worth seeking out!

Last one - on the flight home, I finally watched Arrival, which turns out to be one of the most thought-provoking science fiction films I've seen in the last few years. How do we manage first contact with an alien species when neither side knows the language of the other? There's some GREAT stuff in here about the tricks and traps that are built into language and the high degree of skill required to truly understand a language, as opposed to just understanding the surface of it, like "milk," "ball," or "war." It's a film that isn't afraid to take its time to build, which I loved. Others may find it too slow, but I say that if you like your science fiction to make you think, Arrival is for you.

Then, just yesterday, I saw War for the Planet of the Apes, which seems to close the gap between the new movies (which began with Rise in 2011 and continued with Dawn in 2014) and the original franchise. I think there could be one more film to actually close that gap and shift the audience's sympathies back to the humans from the apes, but it ends at a darned good place. Woody Harrelson has been watching Apocalypse Now and would someone just please give Andy Serkis all the awards right now? Again, thought-provoking science fiction and it plugs a major hole in the storyline - namely, why can't the humans in the 1968 version speak? Yes, the effects are incredible, but without Serkis to sell it - I just don't think it would matter.

Whew! That's enough! Several movies are still to be released this summer that I'm VERY excited about - check back to see if Valerian by the eccentric genius Luc Besson is worth your popcorn money and, on another front, let's see about Dunkirk!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Swan Song - For Now!

I've done about 250 episodes of Meet Me at the Movies for C19 TV, dating all the way back to 2012 and the time has come to hang up my popcorn bucket - at least for the time being. See, each show represents quite a time commitment. We try to cover two movies per show, so figure two movies at about two hours each. Then add in about an hour per blog post, then another hour spent filming and that's six hours per week, generally on the weekends. That's a lot of time that Meet Me at the Movies requires and that's time that I'm not spending on other things that are valuable and important to me.

So I'm leaving you all in the incredibly capable hands of Noel T. Manning II who has a vast knowledge of movies, both from artistic and a commercial perspectives. I look forward to actually watching the show (remember, it's available on streaming!) and getting recommendations!

You can access the current show here!

See you on the Catbus!
 For my very last show as a regular co-host of Meet Me at the Movies, I planted my feet like a mule and steadfastly refused to go see Michael Bay's latest BoomCrashBang Ode to Smash Cuts (the best review so far is found here!) and instead saw the limited screening of Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro. Please check out the ongoing Studio Ghibli Fest for monthly screenings through November. You won't regret seeing these masterpieces of animation on the big screen! The audience alone is worth it - it's always lovely to see something you enjoy surrounded by other people who also enjoy it.

In the meantime, Ensley and I will be ramping up our social media presence for the upcoming publication of A Dream Given Form, the ultimate guide to Babylon 5 that will be published in mid-September. Check back here for updates - we plan on having quite a shindig in our hometown of Shelby, NC for our book launch!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Victory Lap!

Back in 2006, Pixar released Cars, a rather sweet tale of the up-and-coming hotshot getting schooled by a gruff old master and together, the two of them reach the apex of their sport. It also turned out to be race fan Paul Newman's last film and I truly enjoyed the chemistry between Owen Wilson as the full of himself Lightning McQueen and Paul Newman as the Fabulous Hudson Hawk.

Now Cars 3the third installment of the franchise is out and I'm pleased to report that it's well worth going to see. Newman's voice is still there in a couple of flashbacks and new characters are added. Interestingly, the film also has a bit of a "girl power" thread as Margo Martindale voices an old-time racing great named "Louise Nash," Kerry Washington is a numbers-crunching statistician named "Natalie Certain" and Cristela Alonzo shines as the trainer-racer named "Cruz Ramirez." Yes, the old standbys are here, including Larry the Cable Guy's Tow Mater, but the real story is about Lightning finding worth in himself even if he isn't the fastest car on the track anymore. One of the most poignant lines comes from Lightning's competitor Cal Weathers (who is voiced by Kyle Petty) who comments on his retirement by answering McQueen's question about how to know when it's time to quit, "The youngsters will let you know."

And that's the heart of the story - as a new generation of high-tech, computerized machines takes over the tracks from the "race 'em on Sunday, sell 'em on Monday" actual STOCK stock racing cars, is there room for the old ways? Suddenly, McQueen isn't the hotshot - instead he's the "elder statesman" and he doesn't like it one bit. Now he knows all too well how "Hud" felt. (Confession - referring to Newman's old-school character as "Hud" and McQueen as "Hud's boy" just made me happy. It's a lovely, subtle tribute.)

Nathan Fillion voices the future of sponsorship and branding and brings his own brand of smarmy capitalism to a film that (let's face it) will be heavy of the toys, clothing, and geegaws of the upcoming holiday season.

But best of all are the NASCAR cameos and little history lessons tucked in Cars 3. While NASCAR is usually viewed as a white redneck sport (with enough brand loyalty to make sponsors salivate), there's always been a little more diversity than you might expect. And that's one of the lessons of Cars 3 as well - if you can do the work, where you come from doesn't really matter much.

May we all learn that one.

Plus - be sure you get there in time to see "Lou," the short that plays before the main feature!