Friday, August 29, 2014


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

We head into the Labor Day weekend with The Cephalopod Coffeehouse.

The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you've finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same.  In this way, we'll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers.

To join us or to visit other participants, please click on The Armchair Squid, the blogger who is the host with the most. Here we go:

My brain sizzles. Flames shoot from my fingertips. Pyrotechnics explode where I dare to walk in my house.  My eyes dive and pounce on the sentences. The words make me wince. Then I shout my approval. My book choice for August is Nothing In Particular by Kate LeDonne.

Trigger Warning: Book depicts severe abuse in a number of scenes.

Kiera Graves is a teen-age girl with big dreams who is stuck in a small town where she serves as a virtual slave to her abusive parents––especially her father, who is a school administrator and protected by the community––but every time they knock her down (literally and figuratively), she gets back up and defies them by surviving. She's supported in her struggle by a small group of close friends, a few adults who see the truth, and by disappearing into her love of music. It's the eighties. Welcome to Indiana.

Although Nothing In Particular is set in Indiana, it could just as easily be located in Florida or Alabama or Washington or . . . pretty much anyplace, I guess, because abuse doesn't have boundaries.

I liked this book as soon as I saw the cover. It's very creative.

About five minutes after I opened the envelope in which the book arrived, I began reading. I took time off from blogging to read––to read with particular care because this book means a lot to me, especially coming so soon after our series on bullying. Kiera is bullied in such an extreme fashion. Most of the kids in her high school hate her because she dares to be different. She's not another cow in the herd. She's intelligent and talented and so hard working.

I also relate to her parents calling her "you little shit" because that was my mommy's special name for me.

As I got into the book, I started to wonder if it hadn't been edited. I noticed some errors. But as I continued, I realized that it's written in stream of consciousness. Fortunately, the book includes information on how to contact the author. I took advantage of that situation and proceeded to (probably) make a pest of myself with questions. LeDonne confirmed that the book is stream of consciousness, but acknowledged that it has a few unintentional errors, although it was edited.

No, no, no, I protested. This book should have errors. Kiera is in a hurry. Everything is coming at her so quickly. She's telling her story as fast as she can, in the true voice of a teen-aged girl. Mistakes are natural and appropriate. 

You know the errors are okay when your Queen of Grammar approves of them.

LeDonne's voice is powerful, and her story is credible. Anyone who thinks that what Kiera experiences could never really happen knows nothing about abuse and the power of a psychotic authority figure: 

I remain in a ball. If I uncurl, he will beat me worse than if I can protect my abdomen. I cry and whimper for him to stop. Through my tears, I see my mother standing at the door watching, with a taunting smile. My father drops me like a sack of laundry and I try to scoot away. He kicks me in the head really hard. That's the last thing I remember. Living here is like living in a house that is burning down, and the windows and the doors have been nailed shut. 

I feel very moved by Nothing In Particular, which earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Highest Approval. If you're afraid of reading it, I understand. I offer a small spoiler: Kiera will be okay. I relate to the portrayal of abuse, but it didn't send me into intense, wailing anxiety. This kind of book is important because some people don't believe this sort of thing happens. They don't believe that a trusted figure in the community and his attractive wife might be assaulting their child. Often, Kiera's most basic needs aren't met. She doesn't even get to eat regularly. And medical care? Forget about it. That's a reason for another beating.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this kind of garbage happens all the time. We need to read these accounts, whether they are fact or fiction, because knowledge is power. 

I received my copy of Nothing In Particular in exchange for an honest review. I don't think I can be more honest about this book. It's excellent. If you're an eighties music fan (Nicki Elson), then you'll really love it.

You can purchase it in multiple places:
Barnes & Noble Nook Book at

From Amazon at

The link I provide for Amazon will lead you to the softcover version of the book. They also have the Kindle version, just as Barnes & Noble has the softcover.

I wish you a pleasant Labor Day weekend, and do me a favor, please? Don't bully anyone, and if you know of someone who is bullied, even if the bullying comes from family members, then please try to help that person. Some people may claim their bullying is a joke. It's kind of like someone who makes a racist statement and then says, I don't know why you're taking it that way. It's just a joke.

Abuse is no joke. It's just abuse.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Thursday, August 28, 2014


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

I'm so glad I can present an appropriately titled movie that I like very much. It's Labor Day (2013, PG-13, Available On DVD).

Adele (Kate Winslet) is depressed. Her husband left her because he couldn't stand to be around her sadness anymore (poor him). She lives alone with their son Henry (Gattlin Griffith), who I think is about twelve years old. Adele seldom leaves the house, but once a month she and Henry shop for supplies. During a shopping trip on the Thursday before Labor Day, a man approaches Henry, who is looking at comic books. Frank (Josh Brolin) requires assistance. He is wounded and bleeding some. With his hand on Henry's neck in a possessive manner, Frank insists on going home with Adele and Henry. Frank (Josh Brolin) has escaped from prison.

Is Frank a threat, or is he Adele and Henry's salvation?

I didn't know much about Labor Day. As I watched the opening credits and discovered it was based on a novel by Joyce Maynard, I took it as a good sign. I'll add the novel to my Amazon wish list because the screenplay is so good.

I'm impressed by Josh Brolin's performance because he's tender, yet frightening. He keeps the audience guessing about Frank's true intentions. He's also smoldering. I don't think I've seen him sexier, and I did not think Josh Brolin could be sexier. Kate Winslet is excellent, as always. Adele is needy, off-kilter, but strong enough to confront a challenge. I like a character that grows and changes, as Adele does.

I read on the Internet Movie Database that quite a few people don't like this movie because they think Adele is stupid and weak for doing as Frank tells her. Rather, I say she's confused and frightened, but willing to do what she thinks is necessary to protect Henry.

Labor Day earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Highest Approval with The Gold Star for Sexy and a Blue Ribbon for Poignant.

Please pardon my blogging absence of late. I wanted to read a particular book with particular care. I'll review this particular book tomorrow (Friday) for The Cephalapod Coffeehouse blogfest. Prepare for my review because this book makes my brain sizzle, kinda like when I stood in the puddle of water and touched the back of the leaking refrigerator, which you can read about HERE just in case you missed that particular adventure.

I have also been taking advantage of my Affordable Care Act health insurance (thank you, President Obama; I love you). I lost my colonoscopy virginity on Monday. I don't know why the preparatory drink is called Golytely when it should be called Goshityerbrainsout, but drinking the stuff and having a colonoscopy is better than finding blood in your poop and learning you have late stage colon cancer. I apologize for being so graphic. You really don't want colon cancer, though, and if you have it, it's better to find out as soon as possible. The colonoscopy itself was nothing. Apparently, I have quite the comely colon.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Quiet, please.

I am reading.

Tiptoe away to avoid trouble.

But first, please enjoy this offering from fishducky:

Friday, August 15, 2014


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

I titled my post THE FIELDS MEDAL! THE FIELDS MEDAL! because of the sequence in Good Will Hunting when Sean (Robin Williams) chastises his former college roommate, Professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgard), for pushing Will (Matt Damon) to be what Lambeau wants Will to be.

Lambeau: You're angry at me for doing what you could have done; but ask yourself, Sean. Ask yourself if you want Will to feel that way, if you want him to feel like a failure.
Sean: Oh, you arrogant shit! That's why I don't come to the goddamned reunions, 'cause I can't stand that look in your eye. Ya know, that condescending, embarrassed look. You think I'm a failure. I know who I am, and I'm proud of what I do. I was a conscientious choice, I didn't fuck up! And you and your cronies think I'm some sort of pity case. You and your kiss-ass chorus following you around going, "The Fields Medal! The Fields Medal!" Why are you still so fuckin' afraid of failure?

I can't remember if it's in Good Will Hunting or something that I read––maybe A Beautiful Mind––that The Fields Medal is described as the Nobel Prize for mathematics, only it's so much more important that it's only awarded every four years.

This week has been a hard one. Sad for many of us. But at least one cool thing happened: for the first time ever, a woman won The Fields Medal.

Maryam Mirzakahni, 37, is a professor at Stanford University. She grew up in Iran, so she is also the first Iranian to win The Fields.

I hoped The Hurricane would be the first woman to win The Fields Medal, but it's okay by me that Maryam Mirzakahni paved the way.

You kick mathematical ass, chicky baby. Congratulations.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Thursday, August 14, 2014


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Today's first movie is Parkland (2013, PG-13, Available On DVD).

Many of you will recognize this name immediately because it's the hospital in Dallas where President Kennedy was taken after he was shot.

President and Mrs. Kennedy arrive in Dallas. Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti) takes his place along the motorcade route with his motion picture camera, and then takes his place in history. Doris Nelson (Marcia Gay Harden) is a nurse at Parkland Hospital who remains calm while everyone around her, at first, is too shocked to take action. Robert Oswald (James Badge Dale) faces the shame of his brother Lee Harvey Oswald's actions. Their mother, Marguerite Oswald (Jacki Weaver), revels in the attention heaped on her family. A host of other well-known actors also appear in the movie, including Billy Bob Thornton, Zac Efron, Colin Hanks, and Jackie Earle Haley.

All of these characters come together to portray the assassination of a president on November 22, 1963. This movie isn't about conspiracy theories or solving crimes. It's about chaos.

I felt quite touched by Paul Giamatti's performance. Zapruder is reluctant to allow anyone to see the footage that depicts the actual shooting. Marcia Gay Harden is also quite good. She's the kind of take charge nurse I like.

I am a bit amused, however, by the disclaimer at the conclusion of the movie. From the Internet Database: Although based on a true story and depicting real-life people the end credits state: "All characters in this film are fictional and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental."

Although we see President Kennedy in news footage from that day, an actor is credited as portraying the president. I guess the actor plays the corpse.

Parkland is not a brilliant movie, but it's interesting and moving. I don't think I'd show it to children––it would be too confusing for them––but I would definitely watch it with teens and be prepared to explain the action and to talk about the ubiquity of the question among multiple generations: Where were you when you found out President Kennedy had been shot?

Parkland earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Approval.

Our companion documentary is JFK: One PM Central Standard Time (2013, TV-PG, Available On DVD and Netflix Streaming). Narrated by George Clooney, this show should be available from multiple outlets.

The photo representing this movie on Netflix says "PBS." The above photo, from the Internet Movie Database, states that it's part of the "Secrets of the Dead" series, which is on PBS. IMDb also notes the following: Shown in Britain on 22 November 2013 as a one-off special under the title "JFK - News of a Shooting" to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's assassination. Whence it came, it's an interesting documentary that, similar to Parkland, is about chaos. But in this case, the chaos revolves around reporting what had occurred in Dallas, with a special focus on CBS News and Walter Cronkite.

The documentary is filled with fascinating details; i.e., Walter Cronkite had to make the initial TV report that the president had been shot from a radio booth because no camera was available in the newsroom. After the camera was obtained, it took about 30 minutes for it to warm up so Cronkite could go on the air. The show his report interrupted was As The World Turns.

Cronkite had been a wire service reporter. He absolutely would not report something unless it was confirmed by official sources. His behavior was so different from that of today's so-called television journalists and all their speculation. They seem to be hired, for the most part, for their affability and good looks, or sometimes their anger with the totality of humankind.

Thus, in spite of information coming in from reporters on the scene, including Dan Rather, Cronkite began his stint on the air by stating that three shots had been fired at the presidential motorcade (see news clip below). Cronkite gradually released more information as he received it. 

Quite a few journalists who were in Dallas that day present their recollections. One woman (I'm sorry; I don't know her name) says the press car arrived at the hospital before the president's car. A Kennedy aide revealed immediately that President Kennedy was dead. (In Parkland, doctors discover a faint pulse that leads to a desperate attempt to resuscitate the president.)

Priests were called in to give the president the Last Rites. As they left, they revealed that Kennedy was dead. Finally, a spokesperson for The White House held a press conference to confirm that President Kennedy was dead. After that confirmation, Cronkite reported the president's death.

At the news conference, the time of death is set at 1 p.m., although no one actually knew what time Kennedy "officially" died.

Again, I don't recommend this film for children, but if you are so inclined, then you should watch it with teens. You may be astonished by some of the details you learn.

JFK: One PM Central Standard Time earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Highest Approval and Appreciation for Disseminating Information.

I am tempted to watch Dead Poets Society this weekend, but I don't know if I'm ready for it yet.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Monday evening I learned that Robin Williams died, apparently because he decided it was time to go. Newspaper articles state he suffered from severe depression and had, on and off, been more than a dabbler in the use of drugs and alcohol.

I felt numb when I found out. I wasn't without feelings, uncaring. I felt as if I were in a bubble and nothing could touch me.

You see, it could have been me––except I wouldn't get all this publicity, thank God.

I started to feel the loss on Tuesday when I read a headline that said something to the effect of the following: Robin Williams needed to know that depression is temporary and that people who are suicidal should ask for help.

The problem with all these platitudes and "it's gonna be okay if you ask for help," is that depression isn't necessarily temporary. I've been depressed for as long as I can remember. Yes, I truly think I was depressed even when I was a small child.

As for asking for help, let's not go there because I don't want to discourage anyone from asking for help. And by writing those words I've probably just discouraged someone, so I'm going to go ahead and say that asking for help isn't easy and that people who ask for help don't always get it.

I wasn't a big Robin Williams fan when I was young. I never watched Mork and Mindy. I think it was on at the same time as The Waltons, and I was a John-boy fan. Loved the whole family. I didn't want a boatload of kids, but I knew I wanted my family to be close and loving.

So I pretty much ignored Robin Williams. In about 1984 or so, we watched a Robin Williams stand-up comedy show. I'm pretty sure we saw it on videocassette because we didn't have cable TV. It was a miracle we had a VCR.

X thought that Robin Williams impersonating Nadia Comaneci with a high voice and silly accent was hilarious. Robin Williams moved from one character or joke to the next without stopping to catch his breath. I didn't think he was that funny. I wondered what was on the other side of that mania. He had to come down sooner or later.

Then he started making movies. Some of the movies were silly, but some of the movies were lovely. I don't know how many times my kids and I watched Dead Poets Society. I discovered I liked Robin Williams, the actor playing the part of a teacher who inspired his students. I especially liked the quieter moments in the film, when he quoted poetry.

And then along came Good Will Hunting. Robin Williams won the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award, and he deserved it. Every time The Hurricane came home from college on break, she watched Good Will Hunting. I don't think she watched it to see Robin Williams. She watched because of the relationship between the professor and Will, and because of the math. But we didn't have any complaints about Robin Williams. He was great.

I know I've seen him in movies since then, but none of them thrilled me. It's enough for me that he made Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting because those were two heartbreakingly beautiful parts.

It was good knowing you, Robin. I don't know why I'm here, and you aren't. It's not because I'm a stronger person than you are. I'm sorry you're gone.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

I can't remember if someone was talking about a writer's love of eavesdropping on a blog or on some writers' forum-type thingy. But I definitely love to eavesdrop. I learn so much from it, and it gives me ideas. I especially enjoy listening to conversations in Spanish. I think, Those people have no idea that I know what they are saying. hehehehehe

What? They just called me a "fat whore" in Spanish? Well, that's not very nice.

But insults don't make me give up the listening addiction, and sometimes listening gives me a blog post.

Willy Dunne Wooters arranged for me to use the pool in his very nice apartment complex. One day last week, two young women, probably about twenty years old, were prancing around the pool in their bikinis (WDW is not allowed to go to the pool without me now that I know about the bikini-clad girls.)

One girl said to the other chicklet, My mother is so stupid. We went to a restaurant that had a sign that said 'free wi-fi.' She wanted to know where the wi-fi was. She actually thought you can see wi-fi.

The other girl shook her head and said, Old people and technology.

Yup! That's me, and everyone else older than . . . 50? 40? We are such idiots.

Then my two chicklets started talking about Facebook. I'm sick of everybody not knowing how to spell, one of them said. They keep spelling awesome wrong. It's a-w-s-o-m. Why do they, like, put in extra e's, ya know?

The other girl shook her head and said, Nobody knows how to spell anymore. I'm glad I learned, like, ya know, how to spell.

Me, too, ya know, chicklet. Like, me, too.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug