Here I unpack the closet of my life!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Mr. Holmes: Movie Review

Review by Kathleen Costa 
Details at the end of this review on how to enter to win a DVD copy of Mr. Holmes. 

It is post WWII. Long retired to his Sussex farmhouse and suffering from the onset of ‘senility,’ 93 year-old Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) is greeted by his housekeeper Mrs. Munro (Laura Linney) and her son, Roger (Milo Parker). He has returned from Hiroshima with a questionable treatment using a prickly ash mixture to stave off his mental and physical decline. Dr. Watson is long gone and with a failing memory, he is compelled to pen his last investigation, The Case of the Dove Grey Glove, before his memory will not allow it. A close relationship unfolds between Holmes and young Roger often soliciting an opinion about the case as a mentor would with an apprentice along with sharing the responsibilities for caring for his apiary. Dr. Watson may be absent, but Roger appears to fill that void as companion and caregiver.
Image Source Miramax

With troublesome symptoms of senility, Holmes flashes back to his final case and sets out to pen his version of the investigation. He recalls, thirty years long gone, a husband Thomas Kelmot (Patrick Kennedy), distraught over the changes he observes in his wife Anne (Hattie Morahan), who is struggling in the wake of two devastating miscarriages. The husband is very uneasy with her behavior after she takes an interest in the glass harmonica…did he hear her call out the names of her departed children? As Holmes follows her, he sees evidence of her dark intentions. Approaching her and divulging his conclusions, she asks that they share in the strain of their loneliness. His reaction suggesting she return to her husband has devastating results leading to his self-imposed exile.

Seeking a treatment for his mental decline, Holmes flashes back to his travels to Japan where he is greeted by Mr. Umezaki (Hiroyuki Sanada) who confesses he and his mother are fans of his legendary personae and is eager to find the prickly ash he is sure will successfully manage his symptoms. Mr. Umezaki and his mother are surprised that many of the characteristics they were interested in from Watson’s stories had been “created by his imaginative license.” He indicates, “Deerstalker? I never wore one,” and “I prefer a cigar.” Showing Holmes a letter, Mr. Umezaki explains that his father went to England many years ago and sadly never returned having indicated in a ‘Dear John’ style letter he sought Holmes’s counsel and advice. Holmes says he has no recollection of his father saying that he may have “wanted a new life.” They part, the young man crushed by Holmes’s words.

Although honesty is the ’best policy,’ Holmes curmudgeon-style can be a brutal pill to swallow, sometimes with unforeseen consequences, and when young Roger mirrors this style Holmes looks deeper into his own behavior and that of those around him. He concludes his story, has a revelation about Watson’s motives for some of his literary embellishments, and tries to settle feelings with a truth about Mr. Umezaki’s father. Life is uncertain for Holmes, but he seems secure in the idea that he is not alone.

This film was the perfect end to a lustrous life. Ian McKellen was the epitome of the iconic figure, and Milo Parker, as Roger, emulated well Watson’s caring companionship and delight in learning from Holmes. The added focus on Holmes’s ‘bees,’ prickly ash, and royal jelly led me to seek out more information wondering if there is a natural therapy for my own occasional lapses in memory. I teared up when Holmes created his own ‘circle of stones’ similar to that which he observed in Japan, and Roger goes off to teach his mother about the bees.

As a ‘Sherlock Holmes’ fan, this movie earned a 5/5 pots of honey and royal jelly!

Be a Fan!

To enter to win a copy of Mr. Holmes, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “holmes,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 30, 2016. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

2016, A Year of Change

I am just popping here for a moment to let you know that this blog is getting a reboot very soon! You may already notice the cool new header! In the meantime, you know you can always find me at Kings River Life!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Carolyn Hart Book Review & Giveaway

Death Comes Silently by Carolyn Hart

I have been a fan of Carolyn Hart’s Death On Demand mystery series ever since the first book and was excited when I received the latest one, Death Comes Silently.

Annie Lawrence Darling owns a mystery bookstore called Death On Demand and this setting is one of the things I love about this series. When I read one of these books I can imagine myself in this wonderful bookstore surrounded by great mystery books, the coffee nook where I can get a cup of coffee while I’m there, Agatha the big black bookstore cat, and I can take a moment and try to win the monthly contest where Annie puts up book covers on the wall and the patrons have to figure out what books they go with. I also enjoy recognizing author names as she mentions books in her store.

Through the years, I’ve gotten to know the characters in these books and reading one is like returning home. There’s the eccentric mystery author Emma Clyde, there’s Annie’s friend Henny who makes me think a lot of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, Annie’s flighty mother in law Laurel who can be hard for Annie to deal with, but at other times can be great help. The best characters though are Annie and her husband Max. Max has a consulting firm where he helps people with their problems, but insists that he is not a P.I. Annie and Max make me think a lot of Nick and Nora Charles in The Thin Man movies—they are charming, funny and very much in love.

In Death Comes Silently Annie asks a fellow volunteer, Gretchen Burkholt, to cover for her at a local charity because she needs to be at the store for Emma’s latest book signing. Annie gets a frantic call from Gretchen saying she’s afraid of the handyman, but also informing Annie of a scandal over the death of a local wealthy citizen. The volunteer is known for over reacting so Annie ignores it and goes on with the event, but is shocked to find the volunteer has been murdered. Feeling guilty and being her normal curious self, Annie sets out to find the real killer, as Henny is determined it was not the handyman.

Annie attempts to uncover the family scandal that she feels is at the real root of the murder, only to find there’s more skeletons in their closet than she ever bargained for and to end up being a target of the murderer herself.

If you have never read one of Carolyn Hart’s Death On Demand books head on out and find them now. You can start at any point in the series, but it’s fun to start at the beginning and watch Annie and Max’s relationship blossom and grow. These books are charming, fun, funny, clever and kind of like comfort food without the calories, but instead with a great mystery!

Enter for a chance to win a copy of Death Comes Silently by emailing us at kingsriverlife [at]gmail[dot]com with the subject line Silently. Contest ends Monday, April 30, 2012. 

Also check out some wonderful mystery author video interviews from Left Coast Crime on our youtube channel

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Things Lost

Almost a year ago now I lost my best friend for good--that friend is something no longer in my closet, yet the pain remains. For those of you out there who can relate to that kind of loss I share on this near anniversary a poem in my closet, because of a friend who no longer is. 

Empty Soul

You bind me like a witch's spell though you no longer touch me
I still feel you in my soul, though you’ve gone away.
You tore your love from me, why won’t you let me be?
You haunt my dreams, though I can no longer see your face.

There was a time you said forever
There was a time you said you loved me more than I did you.
You made me feel the love of friendship like I’d never known
It seemed so very real, but was it ever true?

Where did that love go? Why does it hold me still?
Why did you break your promise to never leave?
One mistake? I’m only human—you have made your own
Why did you leave me here, why did you leave me with an empty soul?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pink in my closet

First off I need to clarify that I do not mean the color! I have maybe one pink piece of clothing in my entire wardrobe which I got after a friend told me it went well with black.

The Pink in my closet is the singer—whose music has been a constant companion over the last few months. I’ve been a fan for some time but over the last few months I’ve been going through a difficult emotional journey—one of my dearest friends decided to walk out of my life.  Long story, won’t bore you all with it, it’s over and done. Mistakes, misunderstandings…things we should have been able to work through, but we didn’t. Pink’s music has really been a comfort to me during this time—from the tough, party songs like “Raise Your Glass” to the beautiful acoustic version of “Glitter In The Air”. The strong songs give me strength and make me want to fight the battles of life and the more vulnerable songs touch my heart.

But the song that has touched me the most is “Who Knew”. I relate so much to those words and hearing someone else express them so well makes me feel a little less alone in this journey. If you have never heard this song, yet you have had someone you love suddenly walk out of your life, then you NEED to hear it.

And this woman is real! I saw an interview with her on Oprah last year where she made it very clear that she “really” sings on stage--she’s not Auto Tuned.  Her voice really is that incredible! In a world now of Auto Tuned singers it’s so refreshing for there to be one who is not. As a singer myself I appreciate that even more. Honestly, when a singer is Auto Tuned because they can’t sing and they are famous as a singer--well that just doesn’t seem fair to me. You shouldn’t become famous for something you really can’t do! There are far too many great singers out there that better deserve that break. I know on TV/movies sometimes it’s needed and most singers add some special effects to their voice when they record—but that’s different.  

But this wasn’t meant to be an Auto Tuning rant lol. Pink writes from the heart--she is strong and vulnerable and real. Sure she can be a little outrageous sometimes but it’s just who she is and I love it. She writes what she feels and isn’t afraid to put it out there so we the listeners can be touched by her words and music. I also love that she’s different and proud of it!

I think the entertainment world would be a little better off if there were a few more performers like her. Granted, I could do without the F bombs she drops now and then--but maybe even that is just more of her being herself and being real. In that same Oprah interview she wasn’t ashamed to admit that when she and her husband were having problems she needed to do some growing up and realize what really mattered in life.

Thanks Pink for being “in my closet” and for your music walking with me through a difficult journey! Check her out for yourself on her website.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holiday Movie Memories!

 We all have special Christmas and holiday season memories from our childhood. For me many of those memories are centered around holiday movies and TV specials, and I’m guessing I’m not alone.

When I was little, I remember every year watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on Christmas Eve. It wasn’t Christmas until I got to enjoy Rudolph’s story of misfits triumphing over hardship—though I’m sure at that age I just thought it was all cute. I love Rudolph to this day, and it frustrates me that they now play him as soon after Thanksgiving as they can manage.

Something else I remember as a small child was the Bing Crosby Christmas special—another vital part of every Christmas. After Bing died, for the longest time Christmas just didn’t feel right. This was probably my earliest introduction to the wonders of Bing Crosby and Christmas. When I was a little older I discovered White Christmas and Holiday Inn and I was in love—not only with the wonderful music, but with Bing and his partners Danny Kaye in White Christmas and Fred Astaire in Holiday Inn.

Around that time I also discovered It’s A Wonderful Life. I’m pretty sure I cried the first hundred times I saw that one.  Watching those three movies was a part of every Christmas for myself and my siblings until we all moved away. Now I only get to see them now and then as my own children have their own Christmas favorites.

When my kids were little, along with introducing them to the classics like Rudolph, Charlie Brown Christmas, and Frosty the Snowman, they enjoyed new favorites like Garfield’s Christmas (something that is still a must see for us every year), Barney’s various Christmas specials, Thomas the Tank Engine, Bob the Builder, Winnie the Pooh, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, and I’m sure there were many more. Eventually they graduated to newer holiday movies like Jingle All the Way and Elf.

Another favorite of mine, and now my children’s as well, is the classic story of A Christmas Carol. While we have enjoyed many incarnations through the years, the one that is still a must see each Christmas is Patrick Stewart’s incredible version—come on you can’t beat Captain Picard as Scrooge!

Being not only a mystery writer, but also a mystery fan, many of my Christmases have also included a couple mystery Christmas favorites such as Sherlock Holmes and the Blue Carbuncle, and Poirot’s Christmas.

I’m sure there are many others I have missed mentioning. I have so many special memories with my siblings, and later on my own children, watching all these wonders of the holiday season. The holidays still aren’t complete without getting in a few of these treasures. Sure it’s TV and movies, but I’d hazard to guess that they are a big part of most of our Christmases, and really it’s more about who you watch them with then just watching them. 

Why not share some of your favorites! Perhaps we will all discover some new holiday treasures to share with those we love!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving Chicken Noodle Soup

As we approach another Thanksgiving I think most of us start thinking about the wonderful food we will be enjoying that day, but I wonder how much that food varies from home to home. I know the traditional Thanksgiving consists of turkey, sweet or mashed potatoes, rolls, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and maybe ham.

However, for many Mexican households here in the San Joaquin Valley the meal looks a bit different with tamales often being the mainstay of the meal. For my own family and its German background, we added our own touches to the traditional potatoes and turkey. Every year my Grandma Lewis would make homemade chicken noodle soup. Her day would start early making the dough for the noodles. Then it would be rolled out and cut. For most of her life, it was cut by hand with a great big dangerous looking knife. Later on, someone in the family bought her a noodle-making machine, which made it much easier.

After the noodles were cut, they would be laid out to dry. I remember Grandma smacking many a hand that tried to eat the drying noodles, especially my brother Drew—he still tries that to this day.

While the noodles dried Grandma would bake the turkey and boil the hen in the water that later would be used to cook the noodles. Finally, when it was getting close to time for the meal, the noodles would be cooked and cut again in the big kettle so they wouldn’t be too long.

At dinner, the soup would be what everyone fought over and the turkey came in second. It wasn’t until I was married that we had someone at our Thanksgiving dinner table that heaven forbid didn’t like the noodle soup! That’s when I had to start making stuffing for him, and our daughter Jessica who decided she would take after her dad.

Another Thanksgiving tradition in our home growing up was cream pies instead of pumpkin. Chocolate was the family favorite but Grandma always made a lemon and a coconut as well. Sometimes someone else in the family would bring a pumpkin pie, though my dad would never touch it. As far as he was concerned, and still is, the only pie is chocolate pie!

Until my grandma was unable to physically handle it, Thanksgiving was always at her house and I have the honor of living in that house now—a home filled with memories of a wonderful lady. It was more than just her incredible food of course, she made everything on Thanksgiving feel so perfect and homey, and it was great having all the family together and taking the time to thank God for another year.

Our Thanksgivings have changed over the years since her passing, but my sister Sheryl has taken on the mantel of making the noodles now since my mom’s health makes it difficult for her to make them anymore. After all, it just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving in the Ham/Lewis household without chicken noodle soup.

I’m sure you have your own special twists on Thanksgiving dinner as well. Why not share them here at the Closet—perhaps we will all find something new we can try this Thanksgiving dinner! And if you are preparing your first Thanksgiving dinner and could use a little advice, check out the experts on the Food Network.