Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Not Your Childhood Dark Shadows

Hey all,

I know I did a blog similar to this one a couple years ago, but I think another one is due.  Remember back when I talked about the remaking of movies?  You know, like Psycho and The Thing?  

And now there is a new trend where they take TV series and make them into a movie.  Examples are Mr. Bean, Alvin and the Chipmunks and even South Park.  But when they try to make a cult classic into a movie, it's a hit or miss operation.

Case in point.  The Star Trek movies.  While I wasn't impressed with the first one, I didn't think it sucked big hairy donkey balls the way a lot of critics did.  And I really enjoyed all the rest of them.  But I'm a trekkie and proud of it.  For the most part I accepted the way they "updated" things and could handle how they made Jim older (but not so much wiser), Bones just as starchy, though he had trouble walking, Scottie given it all he had in a uniform about three sizes too small, and of course Spock, who other than sagging jowls, seemed just the same as he did back in the sixties.  The others too, worked for me, so I was able to enjoy the movies.

The new Star Trek with hot Chris Pine and Zachery Pinto was a little bit harder to get into for me.  I loved the movie, don't get me wrong, but some of the changes made--Uhura bonking Spock--as well as the timeline switch did bother me a bit.  But I was able to get over it and just let the story take me away.

But I wasn't sure how I would respond to the new Dark Shadows movie with Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins.  I LOVED that show.  Loved, loved, loved it.  My best friend Kris and I would watch every episode and discuss it ad nauseum.   So when I heard they were making a movie out of it, AND Tim Burton was directing, I wondered just how out there it would be.

I saw a few of the trailers and knew immediately it wasn't my childhood Dark Shadows.  If the original was campy, this one was over the top, just short of ridiculous looking.  But...I always like to give a movie a fair chance, so while Jonathon went and saw Act of Valor (Good, but not enough SEAL action in his opinion) I went and sighed over Johnny.

Except I couldn't.  As Barnabas, his makeup was so over the top ,I couldn't get past it.  It was one of the things in the movie that to me was too much.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Knowing it wouldn't be MY remembered Dark Shadows, I tried to put that away and go into the movie as if it were a new story for me.  And I was able to for the most part.  The storyline was similar--but not exact, the actors all were pretty damn good in their parts and of course, Collinswood and the surrounding areas look pretty beautiful on screen.

Overall I liked the movie.  It WAS campy--majorly so--but I still enjoyed it.  Many times I found myself laughing out loud over something when I least expected it.  There were parts that were just silly, and IMHO it gave only a passing resemblance to the original, but it was fun, never-the-less.

The only thing I took exception to was...  ***SPOILER ALERT***

The sex scene between Angelique and Barnabas.  It was awful.  I mean, not in a too much sex way.  They made it silly and stupid, the both of them rolling around her office, destroying furniture and ripping holes in each other's clothes.  I think they were hoping for CAMP, but it was so over the top I cringed through the whole scene.  I was grateful for the obligatory cigarette at the end.  At least I knew it was over.

Part of it was it always bothers me when  a character--vampire, human, werewolf or space alien from the planet Zenox--has sex with someone they despise just to save the one they love.  Hate it.  Hate it.  Hate it.  As a plot device you'll NEVER see me using it.  One, I find it despicable when lovers cheat-no matter what reason--and two, it's lazy.  Find another way to introduce angst.  But keep his pants on while you do it!

Now you may think I'm panning this movie, but I'm not.  Other than a few missteps, I think it was very entertaining.  They set up for a sequel and I'd go see it.  But I warn all who are fans of the original, don't see the movie expecting a trip back in time to the Collinswood of your memories.  I'll say it again, it ISN'T your childhood Dark Shadows.

Instead try going into it with an open mind and just let it entertain you.  Once I did that, I had a great time.  Except for the weird makeup...and the sex scene.   And Helena Bonham Carter's hair.

Have you seen this movie?  Let me know what you think in the comments below!

See you on Friday with a tale from the Lighter Side of Life!

CJ England
Follow Your Dreams

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Peaceful Relaxing Day in Holland

Hey all,

As promised, I thought I'd put up some of the pictures I took during our recent trip to the tiny town of Zaanse Schans.  While this is an obvious tourist trap, it is one of the best I've ever been in.  It's beautifully restored, carefully maintained and run mostly by volunteers, so they REALLY do want to be there.

It's only about forty-five minutes out of Amsterdam.  Thirty by train and fifteen more to walk to the town.  It's got several working windmills--the first we'd seen, dozen's of restored homes, gardens, a cheese farm, clog making shop, coopery, pewter shop, bakery and of course, souvenir shops.

We'd been waiting for a nice day and finally got one.  Blue skies, a light breeze, everything to make you want to take a road trip.  And we expected to be up to our eyeballs in tourists, but that wasn't the case.  A few tour buses in the morning, but it actually wasn't crowded at all.  We loved that part.

We started with the windmills.  They have several there.  A paint mill, a sawmill, an oil mill and a spice mill, just to name a few.  All of those are working, and all but the spice mill actually had the blades going.  It wasn't too windy, so it was more of a lazy turning that was more for show than actual work.  Here are some pics of the windmills.  

All the mills looking out from the village.

 One of the mills.  It wasn't working that day.

 This one was the paint mill.  The view from beneath the blades was great.

See, I told you so.  That is the oil mill closest to us and then the saw mill in the background.

A view back towards the other mills from the deck of the sawmill.

And here are some pics of the village and attractions...

The main street.  So very pretty.

Some of the houses and gardens were like dollhouses.  I could have taken hundreds of pics.

One of the gardens here.  A beautiful peaceful spot.

 Making clogs.  Here it is done by machine, but we saw a video on them doing it by hand.  Talk about a lot of work!  Sheesh!

And finally, one of the Dutch volunteers in the Cheese Farm, complete with traditional costume.  And the cheeses were yummy too!

All in all it was a wonderful day and we very much enjoyed ourselves.  Even though it was touristy, it was fun and informative, and we were lucky enough to go on a day that wasn't too busy.  I'd go again, just to enjoy the beauty and serenity of the area.

I hope you enjoyed the pics and the info on Zaanse Schans.  For more information on this delightful town, check out their WEBSITE.

Until Wednesday when I'll have an interesting movie review for all of you to ponder!


CJ England
Follow Your Dreams

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Lighter Side Looks At Signage

Hey all,

I saw this online today and had to write about it.  You all know I love weird signs, but this one isn't so much weird as a WTF? moment.

This banner hangs over RedHawks Field in Oklahoma City. Kind of a big deal and you know the sign wasn't done by little Timmy in the locker room.

So now read it carefully.  See anything wrong?  It may take a moment, but it's there.  Got it?  Good.  I saw it and thought, "What the hell?"  Whoever did this is supposed to be a professional.  How do you make a mistake like that and NOT see it.  

And then there are the people who bought the thing.  Wouldn't you look at the banner?  Check it out first?  I bet it cost a bundle.

What about the guys who hung the banner?  Do you think they read it?  Of course they did.  But did they really LOOK at it?  And if you saw the mistake, would you hang it anyway, knowing in this day and age you'd be setting yourself up for worldwide ridicule?

Seriously, this sign had to go through several people before it went live, so why was it that it took a ESPN sportscaster to point out the mistake.  Read more about it Here.

Maybe they thought that extra L wasn't a big deal.  I guess I'm alll for creativlly spellling any and alll words that willl make us stand up and take a llong llook.  LLOLL

Until Monday,


CJ England
Follow Your Dreams

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

It's Never to Late to Follow Your Dreams

Hey all,

Did you see this?  A seventy-three year old woman has scaled Mount Everest.  And that's not the only amazing part.  It's the second time she's done it.

You can read more about it HERE, but in a nutshell, Tamae Watanabe reached Everest's 29,035 foot high summit from the northern side of the mountain in Tibet on Saturday morning with four other team members.  She broke her own world record that she made a decade ago.

To me, this is amazing.  And fills me with hope.  If this woman, an octogenarian no less, can follow her dreams and scale a mountain, just think what can the rest of us do?

I've followed my dreams for years, and sometimes it's not easy.  Sometimes you have to choose between dreams, and that can be even more difficult.  For example, one of my dreams has always been to travel the world.  But another dream I've had is to have my own home, built with my own hands and decorated with memories.

When Jonathon was offered the job with Cirque du Soleil, we had to choose between those two dreams.  It wasn't too hard of a choice, the idea of traveling with the circus was exciting, and knowing we'd be able to see places we'd never seen before was the cherry on top of the dream.  Eventually we can still have that dream house, so in actuality that dream was just postponed a bit.

We're not sure how long we'll be with the circus--could be one year, could be ten, so finding our home could take a while.  But if a seventy-three year old granny can scale the tallest mountain in the world, I think Jonathon and I can build a house, no matter how old we are.

Dreams are funny things. They give us hope, and more importantly, they can--if given  the chance-- change the world.  T.E. Lawrence said it well...

All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.

I love this quote, because when I dream, I want those dreams to make a difference.  Whether I write them down in a book for others to enjoy or live them out in my own life, dreaming is such a part of me, I can't imagine a life without dreams in it.

I pity those who don't dream, and even more, I hurt for those who don't believe in them.  Dreams are like hope.  When you don't have them, you're empty.  This is one of my favorite bible verses...

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life (Proverbs 13:12).

And I believe, if you insert the word dream in certain places in this sentence, you'll see why.

Dreams deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.

So share with us.  Do you have any dreams you won't let go of?  That no matter what happens, you keep on holding them close, knowing that sometime, somehow, you will make them come true.  Then I applaud you.  

Because as you know, following your dreams to happiness is one thing I believe in 100%.

Until Friday all,

CJ England
Follow Your Dreams

Monday, May 21, 2012

Pretty Woman...Walking Down the Street...

Hey all,

A mini rant today.  Not much of one, but more of an observation.  One that many people might recognize.  Or at least be amused by.

I dressed up the other day.  Jonathon and I went out to dinner on one of the the elegant dinner cruises they have here in Amsterdam.  it was a wonderful night, filled with love, good food, wonderful ambiance, and the beautiful lights of the city.

It was an awesome time.  One I'll never forget.  I love dressing up and having a date night.  We don't do it often enough.  And I have to say, I looked damn good, too!  Jonathon's tongue fell right out of his head.  LOL

Yet that's where the mini-rant comes in.  

It's very disheartening to look so delicious, and as you're walking down the street, VERY few of the handsome men look at you.  And why?

Because they are looking at all the other delicious men!!!!


You've seen the cartoons, read the jokes, but now--*sigh*-- I've seen they can be the truth.  At least here.  A LOT of the handsome men in Amsterdam are gay and so no matter how great I look, I don't have the equipment to make them want to look twice.

It was actually both amusing AND irritating.  Of course, knowing Jonathon loved the way I looked was important, but it's always an ego boost to see other men take a second look.

And there were a few that did.  We had to walk from the tram stop to where the boat was berthed, so we passed a lot of men.  But it was easy to see those who loved women vs those who were attracted to men.  

I had several men do double takes, a few give me big toothy smiles and even had one big black guy make an obvious naughty suggestion in Dutch.  But I knew what he was asking.  LOL  Jonathon just gave him the fish eye, and he backed off, but it made me giggle.

But the gay guys...not a second glance.  Not one.  And since many of them are drool worthy, it made me pout a bit.  Jonathon thought it amusing, and we laughed over it at dinner.  But it is true, and for us sexy, heterosexual women, it just doesn't seem fair.  All those young, delightfully handsome men and not one looks at us.

*insert pout here*

Anyway, like I said, it's just a mini rant and more giggle-worthy than irritating, but it's true.  And I know it's not only here in the Netherlands, but all over the world as well.

So, what about you?  Any of you have a story to tell about this?  I'd love to hear it!  

Until Wednesday,

CJ England
Follow Your Dreams

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Lighter Side Heads Down Memory Lane

Hey all,

I pushed back this blog a week, but this type of things never gets old.  LOL  A trip down memory lane to give you a few laughs.  It's amazing what you can do with an historical photograph.  Enjoy!

Teaching them young...

 Poor Captain Hook.  He's up to his ass in alligators.

LOL  I've seen this movie

I think I've seen this hairdo on fashion runways.  *snort*

 I guess they DID have computers back in the olden days.  They just looked like file cabinets.

And finally, the best for last...(IMHO)
*snort*  Even back then they knew it was silly.

There you have it.  A few giggles to take you into your weekend.  I'll be back on Monday with more news and fun!

Hugs to all,

CJ England

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

When is Free Speech Too Costly?

Hey all,

Today's post is one that is being tweeted and blogged about in many places right now.  As you know, Obama switched his stand on gay rights, and the newsies went crazy.  Some of the things they are writing are, as Karen on Karen Knows Best would say, "bat-shit crazy".  Others follow a more mellow approach, but two of the crazies stood out for me and made me say, WTF???  Let's listen to Jane...who I'm pretty sure escaped from her keepers to go to this public meeting.

Now I as I read further, I see she is mentally ill and under 24 hour care, but I ask you, who thought it was okay for her to come and vomit out this type of poison, ill or not???  Unfortunately, someone, somewhere who hears this IS going to believe it.  And so, on it continues...bigotry, stupidity and ignorance.  Whether you agree with allowing gay rights or not, this type of behavior is unacceptable.

And then there is Paul Cameron, an extremely vocal member of the Family Research Institute who is  considered an expert by many of those who agree with him.  Listen to what he has to say...

Read the whole Article“The long term goal of the homosexual movement is to get every little boy to grab his ankles and every little girl to give it a try,” warning that children might be “forced to at least once experience homosexual acts.”  Seriously?  You actually think that???

Again, right or wrong not withstanding, I think the goal of gay people worldwide right now is to be treated like human beings.

What do you think when you read this kind

Be back on Friday with some Lighter Side!


CJ England

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Royal Treatment

Hey there,

Hope all you moms out there had a wonderful Mother's Day.  I sure did.  Even though my kids are far away, Jonathon made sure my day was a special one.

He bought me flowers--of course--but getting flowers in Amsterdam is something even more extraordinary.  Especially when he adds a few hemp chocolate cookies to the mix!  *grin*

But his biggest gift was the whole wonderful day itself.  He took me out of town to a beautiful European castle.

Muiderslot Castle is about fifteen minutes out a Amsterdam--just a short bus ride away.  We'd been waiting until the weather got better, and today it was nice and sunny, a perfect time for a day trip.

Here's a bit about the castle...   

 The first castle on this site was built around 1280 by Count Floris V of Holland, to control the estuary of the river Vecht into the former Zuidersea. And undoubtedly it would also have been used to raise toll from passing ships on the river Vecht, as this river flowed through the territory of the bishops of Utrecht; opponents of Floris.

You can read more HERE.

We wandered through the castle, seeing all the different rooms.  They've restored them--all back to what was considered the Golden Age, when the Dutch Shakespeare, PC Hooft, lived in the fortress.  You can read more about him HERE as well, but here are a few of the rooms they've refurbished.

PC Hooft's Work Room - He did a lot of his writings here.

 The Prince's or Guest Room of the Castle.  The bench you see there sits next to a fireplace and you can flip the back over so you can sit on either side.  That way if you get hot, you can just sit on the other side.  I want one!!!

The kitchen.  One of the best set out kitchen's I've seen in a castle.  And there is art everywhere.  Quite impressive.

And then there were the gardens.  We were blessed that we waited until spring to see the castle because the gardens were popping with all kinds of new life.  Check these pics out...

Pretty cool, huh?  I have to admit, we walked through with our glass of wine and took all kinds of pictures so we could someday make our garden as beautiful.

So, there you have it.  A great relaxing Mother's Day.  After the castle, we just walked around the town, had a drink at the pub near one of the working locks on the canal and then headed home, satisfied and happy with our day.  As you're reading this, I'll be receiving my next Mom's Day gift, a candlelight dinner cruise through the beautiful city of Amsterdam!  I adore my sweet baboo!!!

You all have an awesome Monday, and I'll be back on Wednesday with some more news and fun!


CJ England

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Lighter Side Wishes Moms a Weird Mother's Day

Hey all,

I was going to do a trip down memory lane today, but then I came across this news article that just cracked me up.  Looking for something special to get your mama this Mother's Day?  Check out these available oddities.  Click to make bigger...

But I will ask up front, where do they come up with these ideas???

Would you buy this for your Mom???
Pillows are nice and cleavage is nice, but so far there hasn't been anything combining the two (other than tacky slang words for breasts). However, the Intimia provides a soft place for cleavage and also helps treat the heretofore unknown problem of cleavage wrinkles. Your mom and her "girls" will be happy.

How about this one?
You may not want to admit it, but your mom must have been a desirable, sensual person -- otherwise, you wouldn't be reading this. Acknowledge her seductive side with a night shirt that looks like a trench coat covering lingerie. She probably will blush when you give it to her, but she will quietly thank you later in the evening. 

This one is just creepy.  
Baseball stars get honored with their own bobbleheads, so why not Mom? Frankly, she does a lot more than hit home runs. For between $99 and $149, Mom can get a bobblehead that looks just like her -- mom jeans and all. 

And finally, hmmm...not sure what to even say about this odd gift.
Angelina Jolie isn't the only mom who has beautiful lips. Now any mother can get the plump, bee-stung look with Luscious Lips, a suction-powered lip plumper that fits over the lips and works by using a technology similar to bicycle pumps or those weird-sounding flutes used in bad animated cartoon. 

So what do you think?  Any of these something you can see your mother using?  I know I sure couldn't.  And that last one could be used in an erotic book.  Oh yeah! LOL

Anyway, please tell all your moms Happy Mother's Day for me.  Give them a hug and a kiss and let them know you care!

Hugs, and see you on Monday.

CJ England

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

God Save the Queen!!!!!

Hey all,

Sorry this is late going out, but things have been a bit hectic.  The life we've chosen to live is wonderful, but fraught with distractions and fires you have to put out.

Today's blog is, as I promised last week, about Queen's Day.  What is Queen's Day you ask?  Here is the snippet from Wikipedia.  It says it better than I ever could...

Koninginnedag or Queen's Day is a national holiday in the Netherlands. Celebrated on 30 April (the 29th if the 30th falls on a Sunday), Koninginnedag is Queen Beatrix's official celebration day. Though Queen Beatrix was born on 31 January, the holiday is observed on 30 April as it was the birthday of her mother and predecessor, Juliana.  Many of the traditional activities are held outside, and observing the holiday in April makes suitable weather more likely.

Koninginnedag is known for its nationwide vrijmarkt ("free market" or flea market), at which many Dutch sell their secondhand items. It is also an opportunity for "orange madness" or oranjegekte, for the national colour, when the normally straight-laced Dutch let down their hair, often dyed orange for the occasion.

What they don't say is the Dutch also drink, party and get generally crazy during the day and the preceding night, which is called Koninginnenacht.  

We were lucky enough to be here in Amsterdam for this day, which is a little like Mardi Gras in the USA.  It has costumes, drinking, lots of great music AND a parade.  Except this one has boats that float down the canals.  ALL DAY LONG.

It was a blast.  We spent the day wandering from place to place, listening to music, checking out the free markets, laughing at the costumes some people came up with and of course, having a few drinks.  But my all time favorite activity was the boat parade.  Jonathon and I found a great place right on the canal, had a glass of wine and just sat for several hours watching all the boats go by.

The boat parade is really nothing more than an excuse for a bunch of people to get on a boat (rented in a lot of cases) and spend the afternoon drinking with friends.  And it was a hoot to watch them.  You could tell the ones who'd never steered a watercraft before, they were scary.  Add a few drinks to the mix and it could be a disaster.  

We did see a few traffic jams, but everyone was friendly and happy with life, so there were no real emergencies where we were.  (Though I did read later a boat sank when too many people crowded to the bow.)

Some boats were themed, others were just party boats, but everyone was out to have a great time, and as far as we could see, they succeeded.  I know we had a wonderful day!

Here's a few pics of what we saw. Click on the pic to make bigger.  And enjoy!

A carnival sat in front of the Royal Palace in Dam Square.  Rides, a great Haunted House, food and games of all kinds.  It was like being a kid again!

Queen's Night street party.  Music, dance and a hundred thousand of your closest friends.  We were surprised that most of the music was western and in English.

A Free Market where everyone in Amsterdam puts out the things they want to get rid of.  The sale starts early in the morning and goes all day long.  They even have one of the parks set up only for kid sellers.  They sold toys, drinks, treats, played games and even danced and sang.  Amazing.

At the Museumplein, everyone was having a great time.  We listened to music, ate ice cream and some intrepid orange wearing souls even waded a bit.

Remember those boat traffic jams I mentioned?  Here's one of them.  We were sitting across from the Hard Rock Cafe near one of the bridges, and it was a tight fit.  Add a few extra boats and it became a near impossible one!!!

As I mentioned, some of the boats were themed.  This one, created by one of the local gay groups, was called The Prison Barge.  They wore costumes, balls and chains and smiles.  It was great!

One final boat picture.  Can you guess what this guy is doing behind the curtain?  If you said peeing, you'd be right.  Creative and hilarious, I guess they had to find a way somehow.  After all, they were on the boats all day long and no one wanted to stop for a pee break.  Easier for the men than the women, another one I saw was a circular shower curtain you wore to do your business.  Not sure I could, but after a few beers, I guess you'll do anything for relief, LOL.

A sea of orange at one of the venues playing music.  You couldn't even move, things were so crazy and packed with people.  It was fun, but we could only handle so much!

And finally, a the drinking part.  *smile*  It was a wonderful day, and if anyone ever has a chance to enjoy Queen's Day themselves I highly recommend it.  Wander, observe, laugh and sing.  I'm not an orange fan, but I have to tell you, on Queen's Day, it was a beautiful thing!

I'll see you on Friday where the lighter side takes a quick trip down memory lane!

Hugs to all,

CJ England