Kentucky Burgoo


Below is an article I had written about a dish called Kentucky Burgoo:


Unbeknownst to me until recently, Kentucky Burgoo or simply, “Burgoo”, is a spicy stew that is similar to Irish or Mulligan Stew and especially Bruinswick Stew. Burgoo is a communal dish that is usually served during a social event in both the American South and the Midwest. However, it is believe that the dish first made its American appearance in the state of Kentucky.

It is believed by many that Burgoo first originated in Europe – specifically France and Belgium. The name “burgoo” came from a mispronunciation of the French word “burgout”, which is a kind of gruel; or perhaps it came from “ragout, which is a spicy vegetable/meat stew. I suspect that a ragout is more similar to the description of Kentucky Burgoo. It is also believed that a man named Colonel Gus Jaubart introduced the dish to the citizens of Kentucky around 1810, eight years after it became a state. Jaubart’s Burgoo was a version of a stew – possibly a ragout – that was fed to French sailors at sea.

However, the late Kentucky historian, Thomas D. Clark believed that Burgoo may have originated in the Appalachian region of late 18th century or early 19th century Virginia, where Brunswick Stew was popular. According to Clark, hunters would count their day’s kill and cook it in a stew or soup with vegetables and highly seasoned spices. There are some who believe that Clark may have been referring to what was known as an “Appalachian Hunter’s Stew” or the “Daniel Boone Stew”.

Below is a recipe for Kentucky Burgoo from the website:

Kentucky Burgoo


3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3-4 pounds pork shoulder or country ribs, cut into large pieces (3 to 4 inches wide)
2-3 pounds chuck roast, stew meat, or other inexpensive cut of beef, cut into large pieces (3 to 4 inches wide)
3-5 chicken legs or thighs (bone-in)
1 green pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 quart chicken stock or broth
1 quart beef stock or broth
1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
2 large potatoes (we used russets)
1 bag of frozen corn (about a pound)
1 bag of frozen lima beans (about 14 ounces)
Salt and pepper
4-8 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Tabasco or other hot sauce on the side


Heat vegetable oil on medium-high heat in a large soup pot (at least 8 quart size). Salt the meats well on all sides. When the oil is shimmering hot, working in batches brown all the meats. Do not crowd the pan or the meat will steam and not brown well. Do not move the meat while browning a side. Let the meat pieces get well seared. Remove the browned meats to a bowl.

Add the onions, carrots, celery and green pepper to the pot and brown them. If necessary, add a little more oil to the pot. After a few minutes of cooking, sprinkle salt over the vegetables.

When the vegetables are well browned, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more, until fragrant. Add back the meats, and the chicken and beef broths and the tomatoes, stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, cover, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 2 hours.

Uncover and remove the meat pieces. Strip the chicken off the bone and discard skin if you want. Break the larger pieces of meat into smaller, more manageable pieces. The reason you did not do this at first is because the meats stay juicier when they cook in larger pieces. Return all the meat pieces to the pot and bring it up to a strong simmer.

Peel and cut the potatoes into chunks about the same size as the meat pieces (if using new potatoes, you can skip the peeling, but russets you’ll want to peel). Add them to the stew and cook them until they are done, about 45 minutes. When the potatoes are done, add the Worcestershire sauce, mix well and taste for salt. Add more Worcestershire sauce to taste if needed.

Add the corn and lima beans. Mix well and cook for at least 10 minutes, or longer if you would like. Here is the point where you decide whether you want a burgoo that’s been hammered into a thick mass or a stew with bright colors in it. It is your call.

To serve, taste one more time for salt, and add either Worcestershire or salt if you want. Serve with crusty bread or cornbread and a bottle of hot sauce on the side.


Top Ten Favorite TIME TRAVEL Television Episodes

Below is a list of my top favorite television episodes that feature time travel:



1. “Future’s End” (“Star Trek Voyager”; 1996) – A 29th century timeship causes a time paradox when it accidentally sends itself and Voyager to two different periods in 20th century Earth.

2. “Tempus Fugitive” (“Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman”; 1995) – Lois Lane and Clark Kent are brought back to the past by H. G. Wells, in an attempt to stop the time-travelling villain Tempus from killing the infant Superman.

3. “Endgame” (“Star Trek Voyager; 2001) – Admiral Kathryn Janeway comes from the future to try and shorten Voyager’s trip home.

4. “War Without End” (Babylon Five; 1996) – Former Babylon 5 commander, Jeffrey Sinclair, returns with a mission vital to the survival of the station – travelling back in time to steal Babylon 4.

5. “LaFleur” (“Lost”; 2009) – The remaining survivors of Flight 815 and the freighter find themselves permanently in the 1970s and become part of the Dharma Initiative, following John Locke’s disappearance.

6. “The City on the Edge of Forever” (“Star Trek”; 1967) – After accidentally overdosing on a powerful stimulant, Dr. McCoy acts erratically and disappears through the Guardian of Forever, a newly-discovered time portal on a remote planet. Captain Kirk and Commander Spock follow after learning that McCoy somehow changed history. Arriving in the 1930s, the duo meet Edith Keeler, a New York social worker who gives them a place to stay. As the days pass, and McCoy is nowhere to be seen, Kirk finds himself falling in love with Keeler… but Spock discovers that Keeler must die to restore the timeline.

7. “Déjà Vu All Over Again” (“Charmed”; 1999) – As a demon makes plans for his attempt to kill the Charmed Ones, he receives a visit from another demon named Tempus, who will turn back time until the demon succeeds in killing all the sisters.

8. “Babylon Squared” (“Babylon Five”; 1994) – A previous station, Babylon 4, reappears at the same place it disappeared four years before; and Jeffrey Sinclair and Michael Garibaldi lead an expedition to evacuate its crew.

9. “Chris-Crossed” (“Charmed”; 2003) – A mysterious woman from the future named Bianca arrives to take Chris Halliwell’s powers and bring him back forcefully to the future.

10. “D.O.A.” (“Timecop”; 1998) – After Jack Logan and his boss, Gene Matuzek are murdered, Claire Hemmings takes an unauthorized trip back to the past to warn Logan.

The Worship of Sally Draper




The following words regarding a certain character on the AMC series, “MAD MEN” is bound to result in me receiving a good deal of hostile responses … or none at all. I am so sick to death of fans putting Sally Draper on a pedestal.

I am sick of it. Ever since Season Three, when show creator Matthew Weiner made her a more prominent characters, fans have been putting a character that aged from nine to sixteen on a pedestal. Why, I have no idea . To me, there is nothing special about Sally. She has always struck me as a typical kid who will probably grow up with her own set of virtues and bullshit … just like her parents, her siblings, and nearly every other character on this show.

After the latest episode, (7.10) “The Forecast” aired, I managed to encounter two articles that waxed lyrical over Sally. In one of them, “MAD MEN: Viva la Sally Draper”, author Julianne Escobedo Shepherd claimed that Sally will be forced to spend the rest of her life overcoming her parents’ personalities. Now, I realize that neither Don Draper aka Dick Whitman or Betty Draper Francis are perfect. In fact, they are far from perfect … like every other character on this damn show. Including one Sally Draper.

Watching Sally in “The Forecast” made me realize how ridiculous are those claims that Sally is more mature than her parents. Do not make me laugh. I saw that Sally was unable or unwilling to cast any blame on her old friend, Glen Bishop, after she witnessed his reunion with Betty.  Ten years earlier, Glen commenced upon an infatuation for Sally’s mother that apparently has yet to abate. But instead of commenting on Glen’s obvious attempt to flirt with Betty, Sally went into a tailspin over Betty’s friendly response to Glen. Later in the episode, Sally had dinner with Don and her friends at a restaurant, in which one of her friends began flirting with Don. Who responded with a good deal of friendliness without making a scene. In the end, it was Sally who made a scene by blaming Don for the exchange and ignoring her friend’s attempt at flirtation.  The fact that Sally was unwilling to blame her friends for what happened between them and her parents, only tell me that not only is she still immature, but also a world-class scapegoater.

In The Washington Post article called “MAD MEN: Is Sally Draper Our Last Hope For Change?”, author Soraya Nadia McDonald speculates on whether the character will become some symbol of change on the show. Duh! Sally is the youngest major character on this damn show. By 2015, she will be at least 61 years old. Of course she is the future for a show in which the setting ends in 1970. However, this also means that whatever Sally manages to achieve with her life, she will still have to deal with her frustrations, disappointments and especially her own personal flaws. These personal flaws may or may not affect others. They will certainly affect her. And those flaws will be with Sally until the day she dies or when “MAD MEN” goes off the air.

I have notice in this latest article on how McDonald went out of her way to insult both Don and Betty … and at the same time, put Sally on a pedestal. I swear … both the media and the fans seemed to regard Sally in the same manner in which Mildred Pierce regarded her daughter Veda. Through rose colored glasses. These same fans have a penchant for ignoring Sally’s penchant for scapegoating. I first became aware of this problem back in Season Four, when she solely blamed Betty for the end of the Drapers’ marriage. Sally possesses other flaws – namely her penchant for bullying – especially her younger brother Bobby; her “sass”, which makes her a world-class needler in my eyes; and her slightly cruel sense of humor. Sally reminds me of certain classmates from young years in elementary and high school whom I heartily disliked or I had regarded with a good deal of wariness. But if there is one person whom Sally reminds me of … it is her paternal grandfather, Archie Whitman.

This is the character who is supposed to be the series’ “Great White Female Hope”? Sally Draper? A character, whose flaws are constantly ignored by the “MAD MEN” fandom? There are some who are talking about a spin-off featuring Sally as an adult. Honestly? That is one show I will never watch. How can I drum up the interest to watch a series about a character I have never harbored a high opinion of in the first place? What I am trying to say is that in the end, I am getting sick and tired of the“Glorification of Sally Draper”. The sooner “MAD MEN” is off the air, the less chance I have of encountering this phenomenon. God, I hope so.


“Spells, Lies and Remorse” [R] – 3/9



In San Franciso’s Financial District, Cole sat in a booth next to his former wife, inside the seafood restaurant, Aqua. The pair sat in silence, as they focused upon every detail inside, except each other. Once Cole found the courage to return his gaze upon Phoebe, he noticed something different about her.

“Your hair!” he exclaimed with a slight frown. “You got it cut!” Cole continued to stare at Phoebe’s dark-brown hair that fitted her skull like a cap. “When . . .?”

Phoebe’s hand flew to her hair. “You like it?” she asked nervously. “I got it cut last week.”

Cole smiled. “Yeah. It’s nice. Reminds me of the Italian haircut.” When Phoebe responded with a confused frown, he added, “Uh, it was a popular hairstyle for women, back in the Fifties.”

“Oh.” Phoebe nodded. Then she and Cole fell silent . . . again. For the half-daemon, the lack of noise seemed to stretch for eternity. Finally, Phoebe added, “Look Cole, the reason I wanted to see you . . .”

A waiter appeared to take their orders. Cole requested a martini – a Gibson – and a dish called Foie Gras Ravioli. Phoebe ordered iced tea and White Gazpacho. Once the waiter left, Cole asked, “What did you want to tell me?”

Phoebe heaved a long sigh. “Something happened to me a few days ago. Actually, it happened two days ago. I . . .” She paused and glanced away.

Cole frowned. Something had obviously rattled Phoebe. To the extent that she was displaying an openness toward him that he had not witnessed in over a year. “Okay Phoebe, what’s wrong?”

“I found your blue sweater,” the Charmed One finally blurted. “In my closet, at home.”

Now, Cole really felt confused. “Blue sweater?”

Phoebe continued, “Your old powder blue, V-neck sweater. I guess . . . you must have left it behind.”

Cole shrugged his shoulders. “O-kay. What about my sweater?”

“When I found it, I . . .” Phoebe hesitated. “I had a vision. Well actually, several visions.”


Phoebe lowered her eyes, as if she was ashamed to meet his. “No. Visions of the past. Your past. When you were the Source.”

A cold wave washed over Cole. “Oh.” Now he wished that he had never accepted Phoebe’s lunch invitation. “What about these . . . visions?” he asked in a chilly voice.

“Please Cole, it’s not what you think,” Phoebe begged. “I saw . . .” She broke off, as the waiter returned with their drinks. Then, “I saw how you had become the Source. How the Seer had convinced you to use the Hollow. I saw how the Source took over your body, after we had vanquished him in our attic. I saw everything, Cole. Including how you had struggled against his control for so long.”

Cole finally understood. Phoebe had apparently experienced the same or similar visions that Paige and Cecile had witnessed last December. A part of him – a small part – resented that all of his arguments from the past year could not convince Phoebe that he had never meant to become the Source. He also resented that it took a vision – ‘her’ vision – to finally convince her. But at least Phoebe finally knew the truth.

“Well,” Cole began with a sigh, “better late than never.” A mirthless chuckle rose from his throat.

Phoebe gently covered his hand with one of hers. “Oh Cole! I’m so sorry! All that time we had wasted! I guess . . . I guess we can’t go back to the way things used to be between us.” Her dark eyes pleaded with him.

Images of Olivia popped into Cole’s mind. No. He and Phoebe would never be able to recapture their past. And quite frankly, he had no desire to do so. He liked his life, right now. And he was in love with Olivia. More than he had realized. “No, I guess not,” he finally murmured. With his free hand, he covered Phoebe’s. “But we can try something new . . . like being friends.”

A rueful smile graced Phoebe’s lips. “That sounds nice. I guess.” Cole returned her smile.


The San Francisco Brewery Company had become one of Paul’s favorite restaurants since moving to the Bay Area over four months ago. He usually enjoyed the restaurant’s warm atmosphere and delicious food. But not today, thanks to his present emotional state.

Paul glanced at his two companions in mild frustration. He had invited the pair with the sole purpose of feeding his potion to Olivia. Unfortunately, the opportunity to slip the potion into her drink had yet to materialize. And his lunch hour was almost over.

“With this trial almost over,” Darryl Morris commented, “Olivia and I can hopefully get back to the Kostopulos case.”

Olivia smiled. “What’s the matter, Darryl? Itching to get back on the street? And I thought I was an action junkie.”

“Don’t confuse me with you, Livy”, the police lieutenant retorted. “I simply want to get this Kostopulos case over with.”

“C’mon Darryl! We’ve just received it, the day before yesterday! Besides,” Olivia paused, “Scott, Carlotta and Marcus have already started on the case.”

Paul frowned. “Kosta . . . Kos . . . Uh, who are you talking about?”

Olivia faced the ADA. “Stefan Kostopulos. He owns an antiquity shop on Kearny. Or he used to, until someone shot him, while burgling the place two days ago. Darryl had assigned the other members of our squad to investigate – Scott Yi, Carlotta Trujillo and Marcus Anderson.”

“What was taken?” Paul asked.

Morris replied, “A little over $2,400 in cash. Probably some two-bit perp had robbed the place. Guys like that are usually careless.”

“Hmph.” The grunt came out of Olivia’s mouth, before she reached for her glass of iced tea.

The police lieutenant frowned at his red-haired partner. “Please don’t tell me there’s more to this case.”

“Maybe. Maybe not. Scott told me that he found it odd that only the money was taken. Especially since there were so many valuable antiquities inside the shop. And why burgle the place in the middle of the afternoon?”

Morris sighed. “You know Olivia, you have a talent for making a mountain out of the smallest molehill. Had it ever occurred to you that the guy didn’t have time to grab anything else, beside the money from the cash register?”

“Again, why rob the place in the middle of the afternoon, when it would have been more convenient to do the deed, late at night?”

In a gesture of surrender, Morris raised a hand. “Okay, you’ve got a point. But I still think that this was nothing more than a simple robbery.”

“Really?” One of Olivia’s red brows quirked upward. “So why did you order Carlotta and Scott to check the shop’s inventory for any missing items?”

Before Morris could reply, his cell phone rang. He removed it from his jacket pocket and answered. “Hello? Oh, Sheila. Just a minute.” Turning to Paul and Olivia, he said, “You mind if I take this call in private?” The two witches nodded and Morris left the table.

Paul smiled at the red-haired woman. She smiled back. Yet, he noticed that Olivia seemed slightly uncomfortable in his presence. Showing fake concern, Paul frowned slightly. “Is something wrong? You seem tense.”

“Actually, I was about to ask you the same,” Olivia replied. “Both Darryl and I had noticed that . . . well, you’ve been a little tense yourself, these past few days.”

Paul’s body nearly jerked out of his seat. He had no idea that his anxiety over Leo’s project had been so obvious. “Really?” He chuckled nervously. “I didn’t realize that I’ve been . . . uh, tense. I guess I’ve been a little anxious ever since the case went to the jury.” He sighed loudly. “In fact, I still feel nervous.”

Olivia gazed at him with sympathetic eyes. “Worried about the sentencing?”

“Well . . .” How in the hell was he going to find the opportunity to slip the damn potion? Paul eyed Olivia’s glass of tea. If only he had the power of telekinesis.

Then to his surprise, Olivia stood up. “I’m sorry,” she said, “but I have this sudden need for a trip to the Ladies Room. Excuse me.” She flashed an apologetic smile and left the table.

Stunned by this sudden development, Paul stared at Olivia’s retreating back. He could not believe his luck. Alone at last!  With the two partners away from the table, he finally had the perfect opportunity to slip the potion in Olivia’s drink.

Paul quickly glanced around to make sure that no one was watching. Then he surreptiously removed the small jar from his jacket pocket and unscrewed the top. After another glance, he quickly poured the jar’s contents into Olivia’s iced tea. He gave the tea a quick stir with a spoon and slipped the empty jar back into his pocket. At that moment, Darryl Morris reappeared.

“Everything okay?” Paul asked, aware of the increase in his heartbeat.

Morris stared at the attorney for what seemed like a long moment. “Yeah. It was Sheila. She only wanted to remind me to pick up a few things from the store. Uh, where’s Olivia?”

“Ladies room.” Paul smiled at the police inspector. “So . . . how about some dessert?”


Upon her return to the precinct, Olivia found herself struggling to stay awake. Which struck her as unusual, since lunches rarely had an effect upon her. And today’s lunch had been light – Quiche Lorraine, salad and iced tea. Too light to make her feel this groggy.

The telephone rang. Olivia picked up the receiver and answered. “Investigations. Inspector McNeill speaking.”

“Olivia?” a familiar voice said. “It’s me, Paul. How are you feeling?”

How was she . . .? Olivia frowned. Why would Paul ask her that question? “I’m fine,” she lied. “Why do you ask?”

A long pause followed before Paul finally answered, “Well, you had seemed a little tired at the restaurant. I just . . . well, I wondered if you were feeling okay.”

Realizing that the other witch had her best interest at heart, Olivia decided to dispense with her lie. “To be honest, I’m feeling a little tired. It couldn’t have been the lunch. It was rather light.”

“Maybe you should see a doctor,” Paul suggested. “You could be coming down with something. Or maybe you should simply go home. Get some rest.”

Paul’s second suggestion seemed acceptable. Olivia informed him that she would take the rest of the day off and go home. Paul offered to give her a lift to her apartment, but she rejected the offer. “It will only take me twenty minutes or less. I should have no problem.”

“If you say so,” Paul replied in a reluctant voice. “Take care of yourself. Okay? And call me . . . if you need any help.”

Olivia frowned. Why did he seem so suddenly attentive, today? She replied, “Thank Paul. Maybe I will. I’ll see you.” And she promptly hung up.

Within less than thirty minutes, a still groggy Olivia arrived at her apartment. She dumped her belongings on the sofa and immediately headed for her bedroom. After changing into a blue T-shirt and sweat pants, Olivia laid down on the bed and promptly fell asleep.


Cole drove his black Porshe into the building’s underground parking lot and proceeded toward his space. He turned off the engine . . . and remained seated behind the wheel – deep in contemplation.

Today’s lunch with Phoebe replayed in his mind for the umpteenth time, this afternoon. He still could not believe that after fifteen months of estrangement, they had finally come to some closure over the whole ugly matter regarding the Source. No more uncomfortable moments or resentful glances, whenever they found themselves in the same room. No more of Phoebe’s fearful or hate-filled glances. Granted, they could never return to what they had shared, but at least they had finally found peace in the form of friendship.

After heaving a sigh, Cole grabbed his suitcase and climbed out of the car. He glanced around for any bystanders. When none seemed to be in sight, he beamed out of the parking garage and into his penthouse. The clock on the wall read six thirty-five. Olivia should be home by now. Impatient to tell her about today’s lunch with Phoebe, Cole dumped his suitcase on the sofa and beamed into the hallway, outside Olivia’s apartment.

The half-daemon rang the doorbell. A minute passed and no one answered. Cole frowned and wondered if Olivia had not returned home. He rang the doorbell for a second time. Two minutes passed before the door swung open. A red-haired figure in T-shirt and sweat pants appeared in the doorway. Cole noticed that Olivia looked tired and slightly annoyed.

“Cole? What are you doing here?” Olivia asked. Her suspicious tone took him by surprise.

After a brief hesitation, he smiled at his girlfriend. “I have some news I think you might find interesting.” He reached out to caress Olivia’s cheek. She immediately jerked her head away from his reach. This time, Cole frowned. “Uh, Olivia?” he said with a nervous laugh. “What’s going on? Are you pissed at me, or something?”

The annoyance in Olivia’s green eyes seemed to have increased tenfold. She heaved an exasperated sigh that left Cole feeling like an intruder. “Look . . . Cole, I really don’t have time for this. I’ve been feeling like shit all afternoon, and now you show up, expecting me to be the ever-attentive girlfriend. Now, can you really blame me for feeling pissed?” Olivia punctuated her last words with a hard stare.

Speechless, Cole merely stared at Olivia. He opened his mouth in an attempt to apologize to Olivia, but instead, he ended up stuttering. Something like this had never happened during his 118-year existence. “I guess . . . I mean, uh, I guess I should . . .”

“Leave me alone?” Olivia finished acidly. “And allow me to rest?”

“Uh, yeah.”

Olivia regarded him with cold eyes. “Hmmm, good idea.” She then slammed the door in his face. Hard. Cole stood in the hallway, feeling like a complete ass.


“THE MIRROR CRACK’D (1980) Review

“THE MIRROR CRACK’D” (1980) Review

As far as I know, Guy Hamilton is the only director who has helmed two movie adaptations of Agatha Christie novels. The 1982 movie, “EVIL UNDER THE SUN” was the second adaptation. The first was his 1980 adaptation of Christie’s 1962 novel, “The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side”.

A big Hollywood production has arrived at St. Mary’s Mead, the home of Miss Jane Marple, to film a costume movie about Mary, Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth I of England, starring two Hollywood stars – Marina Gregg and Lola Brewster. The two actresses are rivals who despise each other. Marina and her husband, director Jason Rudd, have taken residence at Gossington Hall, where Colonel Arthur Bantry and his wife Dolly used to live. Due to Colonel Bantry’s death, Mrs. Bantry – who is one of Miss Marple’s closest friends – has moved to a smaller home.

Excitement runs high in the village as the locals have been invited to a reception held by the movie company in a manor house, Gossington Hall, to meet the celebrities. Lola and Marina come face to face at the reception and exchange some potent and comical insults, nasty one-liners, as they smile and pose for the cameras. The two square off in a series of clever cat-fights throughout the movie.

Marina, however, has been receiving anonymous death threats. After her initial exchange with Lola at the reception, she is cornered by a gushing, devoted fan, Heather Badcock (played by Maureen Bennett), who bores her with a long and detailed story about having actually met Marina in person during World War II. After recounting the meeting they had all those years ago, when she arose from her sickbed to go and meet the glamorous star, Babcock drinks a cocktail that was made for Marina and quickly dies from poisoning. It is up to Miss Marple and her nephew, Detective-Inspector Dermot Craddock of Scotland Yard to discover the killer.

I surprised to learn that Guy Hamilton was the director of “THE MIRROR CRACK’D”. This movie was the first of two times in which he directed an Agatha Christie adaptation that placed murder in the world of show business. Frankly? I am beginning to suspect that he was more suited for this particular genre that he was for the James Bond franchise. Like the 1982 film, “EVIL UNDER THE SUN”, I enjoyed it very much. I am not a big fan of Christie’s 1962 novel. I understand that the origin of its plot came from Hollywood history, which gives it a touch of pathos. Along with the quaint portrayal of English village life and the delicious bitch fest that surrounded the rivalry between Marina Gregg and Lola Brewster, I believe that Hamilton and screenwriters Jonathan Hales and Barry Sandler in exploring that pathos in the end. There is one aspect of Christie’s story that the screenwriters left out – namely the connection between Marina and the photographer Margot Bence. Honestly, I do not mind. I never cared for it in the first place. I found this connection between Marina and Ms. Bence a little too coincidental for my tastes.

I did not mind the little touches of English village life featured in “THE MIRROR CRACK’D”. Although I must admit that I found them occasionally boring. Only when the citizens of St. Mary’s Mead interacted with the Hollywood visitors did I find them interesting. On the other hand, the rivalry between Marina Gregg and Lola Brewster was a joy to watch. And I feel that Hamilton and the two screenwriters handled it a lot better than Christie’s novel or the 1992 television movie. And to be honest, I have to give Elizabeth Taylor and Kim Novak most of the credit for the venomous and hilarious manner in which their characters’ rivalry played out on screen.

The behind-the-scene productions for “THE MIRROR CRACK’D” certainly seemed top-notch. Christopher Challis’ photography struck me as colorful and beautiful. However, there were moments when he seemed to indulge in that old habit of hazy photography to indicate a period film. Only a few moments. Production designer Michael Stringer did a solid job of re-creating the English countryside circa early-to-mid 1950s. His work was ably supported by John Roberts’ art direction and Peter Howitt’s set decorations. Phyllis Dalton did a very good job of re-creating the fashions of the movie’s 1950s setting. I especially enjoyed the costumes she created for the fête sequence. The only aspect of the production that seemed less than impressive was John Cameron’s score. Personally, I found it wishy-washy. His score for the St. Mary’s Mead setting struck me as simple and uninspiring. Then he went to another extreme for the scenes featuring the Hollywood characters – especially Marina Gregg – with a score that seemed to be a bad imitation of some of Jerry Goldsmith’s work.

“THE MIRROR CRACK’D” certainly featured some first-rate performances. Angela Landsbury made a very effective Jane Marple. She not only seemed born to play such a role, there were times when her portrayal of the elderly sleuth seemed like a dress rehearsal for the Jessica Fletcher role she portrayed on television. Elizabeth Taylor gave an excellent performance as the temperamental Marina Gregg. She did a great job in portraying all aspects of what must have been a complex role. Rock Hudson was equally first-rate as Marina’s husband, the sardonic and world-weary director, Jason Rudd. He did a great job in conveying the character’s struggles to keep his temperamental wife happy and the impact these struggles had on him. Edward Fox was charming and very subtle as Miss Marple’s nephew, Scotland Yard Inspector Dermot Craddock. I especially enjoyed how his Craddock used a mild-mannered persona to get the suspects and others he interrogated to open up to him.

I was never impressed by Agatha Christie’s portrayal of the Lola Brewster character . . . or of two other actresses who portrayed the role. But Kim Novak was a knockout as the somewhat crude and highly sexual Hollywood starlet. Watching the comic timing and skill she injected into the role, made me suspect that Hollywood had underestimated not only her acting talent, but comedy skills. Tony Curtis certainly got a chance to display his comedic skills as the fast-talking and somewhat crude film producer, Martin Fenn. And I rather enjoyed Geraldine Chaplin’s sardonic portrayal on Ella Zielinsky, Jason Rudd’s caustic-tongued secretary, who seemed to be in love with him. The movie also featured solid performances from Charles Gray, Wendy Morgan, Margaret Courtenay and Maureen Bennett. And if you look carefully, you just might spot a young Pierce Brosnan portraying a cast member of Marina’s movie.

Overall, I enjoyed “THE MIRROR CRACK’D”. I thought Guy Hamilton did an excellent job in creating a enjoyable murder mystery that effectively combined the vibrancy of Hollywood life and the quaintness of an English village. He was assisted by a first-rate crew, a witty script by Jonathan Hales and Barry Sandler, and a very talented cast led by Angela Landsbury.

TIME MACHINE: Battle of Bladensburg

Battle of Bladens-Waterhouse Painting


August 24, 2014 marked the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bladensburg, which was a major conflict fought during the War of 1812. The battle was fought on August 24, 1814 in Bladensburg, Maryland; and played a major role in the fate of the United States’ capital, Washington D.C. and a future battle fought around Baltimore, Maryland.

Although the Royal Navy had controlled the Chesapeake Bay region since early 1813, the lack of substantial British troops due to the Napoleonic Wars had limited to mounting small-scale raids. However, Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated by April 1814, leaving the British Army to focus full attention to the war on the North American continent. Major General Robert Ross, assumed command of veterans from the Duke of Wellington’s army and other British troops serving along the East Coast. They were transported to Chesapeake Bay to create a diversion from a British invasion of New York, led by Lieutenant General Sir George Prevost, Governor General of Canada and commander in chief in North America. Although Ross commanded the troops, the point of attack was to be decided by Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane, Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Navy’s North American Station.

When Ross and Cochrane’s forces arrived at the town Benedict, along the Patuxent River, President James Madison sent Secretary of State James Monroe to reconnoiter. President Madison received a dispatch from Secretary Monroe on August 23 that stated – “The enemy are in full march to Washington, Have the materials prepared to destroy the bridges, PS – You had better remove the records.” Unfortunately, Madison and his advisers ignored Monroe’s warning and reports. The Washington and Baltimore area served as the Tenth Military District and it was under the command of General William H. Winder, who had been an attorney before the war broke out. In theory, Winder was supposed to have at least 15,000 militia troops, but he actually had only 120 Dragoons and 300 other Regulars, plus 1,500 poorly trained and under-equipped militiamen at his immediate disposal. Secretary of War John Armstrong, Jr. and other advisers incorrectly assumed that the British were destined for Baltimore and that Washington would not be attacked since he deemed it strategically unimportant.

Winder ordered the destruction of the two bridges across the Anacostia River as a precaution to protect the Capital. This act left a route through Bladensburg as the logical approach. He also sent troops to Marlborough to intercept the British at Upper Marlboro on August 20. Unfortunately, those troops quickly returned when the Americans learned that British troops were already entering Blandesburg. Following a brief clash with Ross’ leading forces on August 22, Winder ordered a hasty retreat. Several Maryland militia regiments were summoned from Baltimore to defend Washington. Winder ordered Brigadier General Tobias Stansbury to move from Baltimore to Bladensburg and take the best position in advance of Bladensburg in order to resist as long as possible. The latter deployed his force atop Lowndes Hill, just east of Bladensburg. The road from Annapolis crossed the hill, and the road from Upper Marlboro ran to its south and west. Furthermore, the roads to Washington, Georgetown, and Baltimore all intersected behind between it and Bladensburg. From this position, Stansbury dominated the approaches available to the British while controlling the lines of communication. Then on August 23, Stansbury received a message from Winder, informing the former that he had withdrawn across the Eastern Branch and he intended to fire the lower bridge. A surprised Stansbury was seized by an irrational fear that his right flank could be turned. Instead of strengthening his commanding position, he immediately removed his exhausted troops and marched across Bladensburg bridge, which he did not burn. Stansbury ended up tossing away almost every tactical advantage available to him.

The British forces reached Bladensburg on August 24, around noon. Around noon on 24 August, Ross’s army reached Bladensburg and Stansbury’s tactical errors quickly became apparent. Had he continued to hold Lowndes Hill, Stansbury could have made the British approach a costly one. With the use of Bladensburg’s brick structures, which were ready-made mini-fortresses, Stansbury might have drawn Ross’s troops into bloody street fighting. Since Stansbury failed to burn the bridge, he was forced to defend it. Stansbury’s infantry and artillery were posted too far from the river’s edge to contest an effective crossing. The British sweep across the Bladensburg Bridge proved to be very strong. Although the Americans repulsed the British forces three times by artillery fire and launched a counter-attack led by U.S. Naval officer Commodore Joshua Barney and his almost 600 seasoned Marines and sailors. Despite their valiant repulse, the authorities in Washington simply forgot about Barney for several days. Without orders they were tardy arrivals on the field of contest. Had they been supplied with sufficient ammunition and supporting infantry, the course of the battle could have been changed. But in the end, Barney and his men were flanked and overwhelmed by British forces. Barney was wounded and captured.

Although the British had suffered heavier casualties than the Americans, thanks to Barney’s guns; they had completely routed the defenders. The British are believed to suffer casualties of 64 dead and 185 wounded. Some of the British dead “died without sustaining a scratch. They collapsed from heat exhaustion and the strain of punishing forced marches over the five days since landing at Benedict. General Winder had not given any instructions to his commanders before the battle in regard to a possible retreat. When the American militia left the battlefield, he issued contradictory orders – either to halt and reform, fall back on the Capitol where Secretary of War Armstrong hoped vainly to make a stand using the Federal buildings as strong points, or retreat through Georgetown to Tenleytown. Most of the militia simply fled the field with no destination in mind, or deserted the ranks to see to the safety of their families. The Americans actually fled through the streets of Washington, D.C. President Madison and most of the rest of the federal government had been present at the battle, and had nearly been captured. They too fled the capital, and scattered through Maryland and Virginia. That same night the British entered Washington unopposed and set fire to many of the government buildings in what became known as the Burning of Washington.

If you are more interested in reading more information on the Battle of Bladensburg and the Burning of Washington, I suggest you read the following books:

*“When Britain Burned the White House: The 1814 Invasion of Washington (2014) by Peter Snow

*“The Darkest Day: The Washington-Baltimore Campaign During the War of 1812” (2003) by Charles G. Mueller

“Spells, Lies and Remorse” [R] – 2/9



“I’m home!” Paige’s voice carried into the kitchen.

Piper wiped her hands on the apron she wore and headed for the living room. There, she found her youngest sister plopping down on the sofa. Wearing a very odd smile. “Have a nice day?” she greeted. The smile remained stamped on Paige’s face. Piper frowned. “What’s with the smile? You look like the Cheshire Cat from ‘ALICE IN WONDERLAND’.”

Paige’s dark eyes widened. “Huh?”

“The smile, Paige.” Piper’s voice radiated suspicion. “What’s the news?”

A brief pause followed, before Paige finally answered in that annoying sing-song voice of hers. “Oh . . . nothing. I have a date for Friday night, that’s all.”

“A date?” The news did not strike Piper as worthy of the odd smile on Paige’s lips. “That’s it? What is it? You’ve finally found your perfect man?”

Again, Paige paused dramatically. “Well, I wouldn’t exactly call him perfect. In fact, far from it.”


The younger woman added, “Oh, okay! I had a visitor at work, today. Harry McNeill. He asked me for a date on Friday night.”

Stunned by the news, Piper could only stare at her baby sister. Why would the scion of an old and wealthy San Franciscan family be interested in Paige? She had nothing in common with the numerous other women Harry McNeill had dated. And the only thing Paige had in common with Olivia’s younger brother was witchcraft. Even more disturbing to Piper was the fact that she found the idea of the two younger witches on a date a bit . . . threatening. “You have a date with Harry?” Piper asked.

Dark eyes narrowed suspiciously. “Yeah. Do you . . .? Are you okay, Piper? You seemed . . . I don’t know, upset by the news.”

“Upset?” Piper realized that her tone had raised a notch. She took a deep breath and smiled happily. “Why should I be upset? I think it’s great!”

Paige continued to stare at the older woman. “Ye-ee-eah. Okay.” Then she looked away. “Anyway, he’s taking me to a play, then dinner at the Golden Horn. God! I never thought I would step foot in that place.” Her eyes returned to Piper. “Why is it that we’ve never been there?”

“Too expensive,” Piper quickly replied. She sat down in a nearby chair, tonight’s dinner forgotten.

“But . . . Mrs. McNeill and Bruce had made sure that we would get a discount – just in case we ever decided to go there. Why haven’t we . . .?”

Weary of further discussions about the McNeills, Piper shot to her feet. “You know what, Paige? I just remembered that I have to finish dinner. Can we save this until . . .?” She broke off at the sight of Phoebe descending the staircase. And wearing an oddly desolate expression. “Phoebe?” Piper frowned at the middle sister. “Are you okay? Is there something wrong?”

“No, I’m not,” Phoebe replied in a strangled voice. “I . . . oh my God!”

Piper rushed forward to her sister’s side and guided the latter to an empty chair. “What’s wrong, honey?” She noticed the blue sweater clutched in Phoebe’s hands. “What’s that?”

Phoebe took a deep breath. “Cole’s sweater. I found it . . .”

“Oh God! You had a premonition about him,” Piper quickly surmised. “What is it? Is he going to hurt someone? Hurt us?”

Paige protested, “Why do you always assume that Cole is going to do something wrong?”

“Nine months ago, you would have assumed the same,” Piper acidly shot back. “Of course, that was before you saw . . .the light.”


Phoebe finally spoke. “I saw it too, Piper.” She seemed distant. Horrified over something.

Frowning, Piper demanded, “Saw what? Pheebs?”

“Cole. I saw what he had went through with the Source.” Phoebe paused. “And us.”

A deep suspicion niggled at the back of Piper’s mind. “Wait a minute,” she began. “You’re not saying that . . .?”

“Paige and the McNeills were right, Piper. About Cole. The Source . . .” Phoebe took another deep breath. “He had taken possession of Cole’s body. After we had killed him that first time.”

Piper felt a growing resentment within her chest. “Cole had no one to blame but himself!” she retorted. “He was the one who made that deal with the Seer. And he was the one who tried to kill . . .”

Phoebe interrupted. “It was the Source, Piper! The old Source. He took over Cole’s body, making him suffer for three months! He was the one who tried to kill Paige! And he would have succeeded if Cole hadn’t stopped him! Just as Darryl had managed to stop Dako from killing her. Remember? And it was the old Source who killed that innocent! And we were the ones who killed Cole . . . who was only an innocent victim of the Source! We killed an innocent, Piper!”

It was the last straw. At least for Piper. The last thing she wanted to hear was that she had killed an innocent. Especially one who happened to be a notorious half-demon. “No!” she cried. “Don’t you dare stand there, Phoebe, and tell me that I’m a murderer! Cole was never an innocent! Remember Ed Miller?”

Blue lights appeared and Leo orbed into the living room. “Hey! Is dinner ready?”

Piper and her sisters barely acknowledged his presence. Paige responded to Piper’s last question. “Oh c’mon Piper! Are we any better? After what we had done?”

“We had vanquished a murderous bastard! A demon! And right now, I wish to God that he had stayed dead, like he was supposed to!”

Phoebe stared at the older woman in horror. “Piper! My God! Why do you hate him so much? Even after what Paige and I had seen, why do you still refuse to accept the truth?”

Anger overwhelmed the oldest Charmed One. “Enough! I’ve heard enough! If you want to crawl back to that son-of-a-bitch, fine! Be my guest! But I’ll be damned if I’ll ever apologize to him!” On that note, Piper turned her back on her family and rushed upstairs, forgetting the dinner she had been preparing.


Several minutes later, Leo orbed into the middle of Paul’s apartment. He found the witch sitting on the sofa, scribbling notes from a book. Paul glanced up and greeted the whitelighter. “Leo! What brings you here?”

“I . . . uh . . .” Leo found himself unable to speak, let alone describe the quarrel he had witnessed between Piper and her sisters. Or the flood of tears released by his wife in the privacy of their bedroom. “I was just wondering how our project is coming along.”

Paul’s expression hardened. “Has something happened?”

“No,” the whitelighter quickly replied. “I mean . . . uh, the Elders are . . . you know, growing more concerned. About Cole.”

The witch’s stare remained frozen. “Why? Has there been a new development in the Underworld?”

“Huh?” Leo blinked. “Uh . . .”

“Okay Leo, what’s wrong?”

The question reminded Leo of the old days – when he used to visit Olivia whenever he felt troubled. With his relationship with the redhead strained lately, Leo has been at a loss for the past nine months. Strange that he had never considered Paul as a substitute . . . until now.

Paul continued, “Leo? Are you . . .?”

“It’s about Cole,” the whitelighter admitted. “About his time as the Source.” Then he revealed the quarrel that had flared within the Halliwell household. And Phoebe’s recent vision.

“Do you think her vision was genuine?” Paul asked.

Leo hesitated, unsure on how to answer. He finally admitted his true feelings. “I don’t know. My first instinct was that Cole had somehow arranged it. And that he had also arranged that vision for Cecile Dubois and Paige, last December. But the more I think about it, the more I’m beginning to suspect that maybe Cole had been possessed.”

Wariness flickered in Paul’s brown eyes. “Does that mean you don’t want to go through with . . . our project?”

Memories of the Elder’s warning whirled in Leo’s brain. “No,” he replied shortly. “No, the . . . project goes on. This isn’t about the past, Paul. It’s about the future. Our future. And we have to prevent Cole from endangering it.”

Paul relaxed into a thin smile. “Well then, I believe I’ve found a solution to our problems.” His smile disappeared. “Are you sure about Olivia being the one to kill Belthazor?”

Leo nodded. “Yeah. Cecile had a premonition about it.” He failed to add that the premonition had appeared when the Vodoun priestess had first met Paul. “I hate to say it, but Cecile’s talent for premonition is even stronger than Phoebe’s.”

“In that case, I’ve found the perfect spell – along with a potion – to use on Olivia. But I need one last ingredient. And it has to come from Cole. Blood, hair or some kind of skin fragment. Something with his DNA.”

Leo hesitated. Then he told Paul about the Belthazor vanquishing potion that the sisters had created nearly three years ago. And the piece of flesh that Piper had extracted. Some of that flesh still existed inside the Halliwells’ refrigerator. “Maybe I could get a slice . . .”

“It won’t work,” Paul said, shaking his head. “Don’t forget that Belthazor’s DNA has changed since coming back from the dead. I need something more recent.”

Leo protested, “But to do that we would have to get something from his apa . . . uh, penthouse.”

Paul rolled his eyes. “Forget that.”

“Or his office.”

Both whitelighter and witch paused. And stared at each other with dawning realization. Paul glanced at his watch. “It’s six thirty-eight. Think he’s left work, by now?”

With a shrug, Leo replied, “There’s only one way to find out.” He stared at the other man.


The jury foreman stood up, all eyes focused upon her. “On the first count, we find the defendant . . . guilty.” Triumphant cries, mingled with a few moans filled the courtroom. Olivia and Darryl acknowledged the verdict with satisfied nods. “And on the second count,” the foreman continued, “we find the defendant . . . guilty. On the third count – guilty.”

Pandemonium struck the courtroom. From the corner of her eye, Olivia saw a few reporters scurry outside. Television cameramen vied with each other to get shots of the stunned defendant. The jury remained in their seats – some looking impassive, some conversing with fellow jurors and one or two trying to avoid staring at the defendant.

The judge slammed his mallet and ordered the courtroom to be quiet. Once the silence had settled, he ordered the defendant to stand up. “Michael Alfredo DiMatteo, the jury has found you guilty of the first-degree murder of Sophia DiMatteo Hansen, guilty of the first-degree murder of Richard Hansen and guilty of obstruction of justice. This court will reconvene next Wednesday, on August 5, 2003; for your sentence. Court is dismissed.” After he disappeared into his chamber, voice erupted all over the courtroom.

Darryl shook the prosecutor’s hand. “Congratulations,” he said. “Did a good job.”

A polite smile tugged Paul’s lips. “Thanks, but I couldn’t have done it without your help.” His eyes slid toward Olivia. “Both of you.”

“But you were the one who put it all together,” Olivia said. “Especially since you had to take over for someone else. Darryl is right.” She gave the prosecutor a warm smile.

Paul’s face turned slightly pink, as his eyes slid away. “Um, I was wondering if you two would . . . well,” he refocused his gaze upon the two police officers, “uh, would like to celebrate. Our victory. Uh, at a restaurant. I thought lunch at the Brewery would be nice.”

Both Olivia and Darryl exchanged a brief look, before the latter replied, “I guess the squad can spare us for an hour or two. Olivia?”

The redhead nodded. “Sounds like a nice idea.”

A smile lit up Paul’s handsome face. “Great! I’ll meet you at the restaurant within a half hour. I have . . . the ‘press’ to deal with.” He glanced uneasily at the crowd of reporters gathered outside the courtroom. “Until then, I . . .”

A cell phone rang. The two men stared at Olivia, who realized that she had forgotten to turn off her phone. “Oooops!” she said with a mild grimace. “Excuse me. She removed her phone from her purse and answered it. “Hello?”

Olivia, it’s me,” a familiar voice greeted softly. “Cole.”

A warm flush spread over Olivia’s chest. “Cole,” she replied. From the corner of her eye, she saw Paul stiffened. “It’s a good thing you had called now. A few minutes earlier and I would have been in trouble with the judge.”

“So, the court is in recess?” he asked.

“Actually, the trial is over.” Olivia paused. “In our favor.”

Cole warmly congratulated her. “Now that the trial is over, I guess that means you should be free for lunch. Like today?”

Olivia hesitated. She hated to give Cole the bad news. “Uh . . . not quite.”

“What do you mean?”

Another pause followed, before Olivia told him. “Paul has invited Darryl and me out to lunch.”

“Paul?” Cole’s voice expressed surprise and disappointment. “As in our favorite ADA?” Now, he sounded downright chilly.

Olivia sighed, as she turned away from Darryl and Paul. “We’re celebrating the verdict, Cole,” she murmured. “And it’ll be the three of us. Not two.”

“Don’t worry Olivia,” Cole shot back. “I do recall you mentioning Darryl.” An uncomfortable pause followed before he added in a begrudging voice, “Well say hi to Darryl for me.” He paused again. “And give my congratulations to Margolin.”

Feeling slightly guilty at disappointing him, Olivia added, “Tell you what. I’ll make us a nice dinner, tonight. For our own private celebration.”

Once more, Cole paused before he answered. “Okay. I guess dinner would be nice. What are you making?”

“It’s a surprise,” Olivia replied. Relief flooded her body. “I’ll see you tonight . . . around seven?”

Cole murmured, “Seven sounds fine. I’ll be seeing you.” He hung up without saying good-bye. And Olivia wondered if she would find herself facing a moody daemon, tonight.


The moment he had hung up the telephone, Cole found himself wondering if he had made a mistake. Had he allowed his jealousy to get the best of him? And what was he jealous about? Olivia spending one lousy lunch with Paul Margolin? A man she had no romantic interest in?

Cole leaned back against his chair and sighed. Then a low chuckle rose from his throat. The half-daemon realized that he might have suffered a minor, yet serious bout of paranoia and insecurity. Especially since Olivia had been spending plenty of time with Margolin on the DiMatteo case, since late June. Time with both the ADA and Darryl Morris. And Olivia had mentioned that Darryl would be joining them. Right?

The telephone rang, jarring Cole out of his thoughts. Wishing that his assistant were around to screen his calls, the half-daemon reluctantly answered. “Cole Turner speaking,” he said. “May I help you?”

A familiar voice breathlessly replied, “Cole?”

He blinked. “Phoebe? Is that you?”

“Yeah . . . it’s me,” his ex-wife reluctantly replied. “I, uh . . . can we see each other? Alone?”

Cole frowned. Why would Phoebe want to see him? Had she received some kind of premonition involving him? When Cole asked her, she answered, “Well . . . sort of. Could I see you, today?”

“Uh . . .” Cole hesitated, as he tried to absorb this phone call into his belief system. “Well, I’m free for lunch. Why don’t I meet you at the Aqua restaurant, in an hour from now?”

Phoebe’s voice gushed, “I’ll see you then. Bye.”

“Bye,” Cole murmured. By the time the word came out of his mouth, Phoebe had hung up. He continued to stare at the receiver, wondering why his former wife wanted to see him.


Paul glanced at his watch. He had another thirty-eight minutes before meeting Olivia and Darryl for lunch. It was time to put the finishing touches to the potion.

He locked the door to his office and removed a small jar filled with purple liquid. He placed the jar on the floor and straightened up his body, allowing his muscles to tighten. The image of a blue flame appeared in his mind. He raised his right hand and declared, “I cast this circle to protect me from all negative energies that may come to do me harm. I draw this circle only the energies that are right for me and the most correct for my work.” In Paul’s mind, the blue flame became a circle that surrounded both him and the jar. “I create sacred space. So mote it be.”

Now that his circle had been created, Paul began the spell. “From wariness to suspicion to paranoia and dislike. I call upon the power of the elk, guardians of the Water and the West, to direct these emotions to the consumer of this elixir and have said being to express them to the demon, Belthazor. So mote it be.”

A blue flame shot up from the mixture in a brief second, before Paul deemed it safe to cover the jar. He picked it up and took a deep breath. Now all he had to do was feed it to Olivia.


“TWO WEEKS NOTICE” (2002) Review

“TWO WEEKS NOTICE” (2002) Review

If I must be brutally honest, the age of Hollywood romantic comedies had bid its farewell a long time ago. Although the film industry has released a small share of movies in this genre in the past thirty or forty years, a good number of them simply failed to measure up to the numerous romantic comedies that came from the Hollywood studios – especially between 1934 and 1965.

But . . . there have been a handful of these comedies released in the last thirty years that managed to catch my eye. One of them is the 2002 comedy called “TWO WEEKS NOTICE”. Written and directed by Marc Lawrence, the movie starred Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant. “TWO WEEKS NOTICE” was a box office hit, but it attracted mix reviews from the critics. I have only read one review of the film, in which its writer described the film as flaccid. But after watching the film, I do not think I could agree with this assessment.

“TWO WEEKS NOTICE” is about the relationship between a liberal lawyer named Lucy Kelson, who specializes in environmental law in New York City; and George Wade, an immature billionaire real estate tycoon who has almost everything and knows almost nothing. When Lucy meets George in an attempt to stop the destruction of a Coney Island community center, he hires her to replace his former Chief Counsel on the promise to protect the community center if she agrees to work for him. Within a year, Lucy not only ends up working for George’s company, but also giving advice on all aspects of his life . . . literally becoming his indispensable aide. But when George tricks her into leaving a friend’s wedding because he is unable to choose an outfit for an event, Lucy decides she has had enough and gives him her two weeks’ notice of resignation. However, matters become difficult when George blocks Lucy’s attempt to find another job. When he finally agrees to find a replacement, George considers an attractive law school graduate named June Carver . . . and Lucy is surprised to find herself becoming jealous.

Remember when I had earlier stated that I disagree with one critic’s opinion that “TWO WEEKS NOTICE” was flaccid? I am sticking with my assessment. It is not the kind of comedy that produces belly laughs. Although, I admit there were quite a few in the movie. And if I must be brutally honest, it is not exactly what I would call an original romantic comedy. I have come across movies with a similar style or characterizations. But I still managed to enjoy the movie. A lot. Original or not, I liked Marc Lawrence’s story very much. I thought he did a very good job in not only developing Lucy and George’s characterizations, but also their relationship. The movie featured some very funny scenes – including George’s first meeting with Lucy’s father and disapproving mother, George’s interruption of the wedding that Lucy was attending, their night at a New York Mets game, Lucy’s attempt to manipulate George’s brother (the senior executive in the Wade organization) into firing her, George’s mistaken assumption that one of the job applicants was pregnant, and the entire tennis party sequence that ended with George helping Lucy find a bathroom or restroom on the road back to New York City. Damn, that is a lot. But the best thing I liked about “TWO WEEKS NOTICE” were the leads Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant. I do not know if they ever liked each other behind the scenes (and honestly, I do not care), but it seemed obvious to me that on screen, Bullock and Grant were magic together.

“TWO WEEKS NOTICE” was not perfect. Like I had earlier stated, it was not particularly original. Neither was John Powell’s score. I enjoyed the songs not written by Powell a lot more than I did his music. And I am still confused over how George’s older brother, the humorless Howard Wade, managed to threatened George’s loss of funds if the latter did not drop the project to save the Coney Island community center. I suppose other critics were able to find more faults with the movie. However, this was the best I could do.

I have already praised Bullock and Grant’s on screen chemistry. But I never said anything else about their performances. Lucy Kelson is one of my favorite roles ever portrayed by Bullock. On paper, a hardcore liberal attorney might seem like an ideal role. Thankfully, Bullock did not portray Lucy as ideal. She skillfully included many of Lucy’s faults as well, making the character a fully fleshed character. On the other hand, George Wade IS my favorite Hugh Grant role. Before “TWO WEEKS NOTICE”, Grant had became known for his collection of stammering, yet charming characters that made him a star. He broke out of this rut with his portrayal of a womanizing rogue in 2001’s “BRIDGET JONES’ DIARY”. George Wade was a interesting mixture of his stammering charmers and his roguish character from the latter film. More importantly, he did an excellent job of developing George’s character from this likable, yet self-involved man to one who had to learn to grow up in order to be with a woman he truly loved.

“TWO WEEKS NOTICE” also featured some excellent supporting performances. Both Robert Klein and Dana Ivey were wonderful as Lucy’s parents – the easy going and slightly sarcastic Larry Kelson and the no nonsense Ruth Kelson, who proved to be even more hardcore than her daughter. Alicia Witt gave a charming performance as Lucy’s possible replacement, who forced the other woman to face her true feelings about George. Dorian Missick was rather funny as George’s friend and chauffeur, Tony. He was especially hilarious in one scene in which his character tries to explain the “mystery of women” to George. Francie Swift gave a brief, yet funny performance as George’s bitchy soon-to-be ex-wife. And both David Haig and Charlotte Maier proved one could be funny while portraying George’s humorless and staid brother and sister-in-law, Howard and Lauren Wade.

I suspect I am among the minority who genuinely like “TWO WEEKS NOTICE”. But you know what? Who cares? There is no law that I have to agree with every movie critic or the opinion of every film fan that catches my attention. I enjoyed “TWO WEEKS NOTICE” very much. I enjoyed its story and humor, thanks to Marc Lawrence’s screenplay and direction. I enjoyed László Kovács’ beautiful photography of New York City and I especially enjoyed the performances of the cast led by Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant. I enjoyed “TWO WEEKS NOTICE” and I feel that is nothing to feel ashamed about.

Top Five Favorite Episodes of “BABYLON 5” (Season Two: “The Coming of Shadows”)


Below is a list of my top five (5) favorite episodes from Season Two (1994-1995) of “BABYLON 5”. Created by J. Michael Straczynski, the series starred Bruce Boxleitner, Claudia Christian, Jerry Doyle and Mira Furlan:


1-2.20 The Long Twilight Struggle

1. (2.20) “The Long, Twilight Struggle” – In this chilling episode, the Narn-Centauri War comes to an end with the Centauri war machine’s brutal defeat of the Narn homeworld, aided by the Shadows.

2-2.16 In the Shadow of Zhahadum

2. (2.16) “In the Shadow of Z’ha’dum” – Babylon 5’s new commanding officer, Captain John Sheridan, discovers a connection between his late wife Anna and the mysterious courier Mr. Morden; and makes enemies of everyone around him when he has the latter detained.

3-2.18 Confessions and Lamentations

3. (2.18) “Confessions and Lamentations” – When a deadly plague threatening the Markab race with extinction reaches Babylon 5, Dr. Stephen Franklin and a Markab colleague, Dr. Lazarenn race against time to find a cure to save the Markab inhabitants on the space station in this heart wrenching episode.

4-2.15 And Now For a Word

4. (2.15) “And Now For a Word” – ISN reporter Cynthia Torqueman hosts a documentary that takes a look at the inhabitants of and life on Babylon 5, and the Narn-Centauri War raging beyond.

5-2.09 The Coming of Shadows

5. (2.09) “The Coming of Shadows” – This episode about the state visit of Centauri Emperor Turhan and the beginning of the Narn-Centauri War led to the series’ first Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation in 1996.

“MAD MEN”: “Wanted or Not – An ‘Emancipated’ Divorcee”

I wrote this article not long after the end of Season Three of “MAD MEN”:
“MAD MEN”: “Wanted or Not – An ‘Emancipated’ Divorcee”

One of the events of the Season Three finale of ”MAD MEN”(3.13) “Shut the Door. Have a Seat” turned out to be Betty Draper’s decision to file a divorce from the series’ main protagonist, Don Draper. Acting as Betty’s main supporter throughout this upheaval was her almost paramour Henry Francis.

Betty had first met the aide to New York’s Republican governor, Nelson Rockefeller, in the third episode, (3.03) “My Old Kentucky Home”. In the episode, Henry he had asked to touched her belly, while she was still pregnant with young Eugene. Betty gave him permission and a silent spark of attraction ignited between the two. They met for the second time in (3.07) “Seven Twenty-Three”, when Betty was asked by her colleagues in her local Junior League to seek his help in preventing the installation of a huge water tank that will drain the scenic local reservoir and mar the landscape. Henry managed to briefly come to her aid in the following episode, (3.08) “Souvenirs”. By the ninth episode, (3.09) “Wee Small Hours”, the pair was ready to have an affair. Until Betty realized that she did not want to engage in a tawdry affair that involved sex in hotel rooms or behind the closed doors of Henry’s office. When they had met at the wedding reception for Roger Sterling’s daughter, Margaret, in (3.12) “The Grown Ups”; it was apparent that the two had remained attracted with one another.

When Betty finally decided to seek a divorce from Don in the season finale, many noticed that Henry was by her side when she visited a divorce lawyer and when she flew to Reno, Nevada for a divorce. The hostility toward Henry’s presence was strong amongst the fans. It was not long before assumptions about the relationship between Betty and Henry appeared on various blogs and message boards about ”MAD MEN”. Many fans insulted Henry with a variety of names. Others insulted Betty. Fans expressed belief that Henry would end up treating her as a trophy wife, just as Don had during the past decade. More importantly, many accused Betty of being nothing more than a spoiled Daddy’s girl who turned to Henry, because she needed a ”father figure” to dictate her life. The fact that Henry had been seen at her side during a meeting with a divorce lawyer, and during the flight to Reno seemed to be solid evidence to them. And Henry’s advice that Betty dismiss any divorce settlement from Don in order to keep him out her life was another piece of evidence in their eyes. But I wonder. Do any of these fans really know what Betty wants? Or were they merely expressing their disappointment that she had failed to follow a path that they had desired? Is their hostility based upon their disappointment that she did not become a single divorcee like Helen Bishop . . . or that she had failed to reconcile with Don and try to repair their heavily damaged marriage?

I find it interesting that fans had heaped a great deal of disappointment and hostility upon Betty for failing to become the epitome of the new “independent” woman. No one had complained when Joan Hollway had married her doctor fiancé, Greg Harris, after he had raped her in (2.12) “The Mountain King”. Nor did they bash Joan’s character when she finally left Sterling Cooper to become a wife only in (3.06) “Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency” The ironic thing is that Joan had expressed a desire for a life with kids and a husband in the suburbs since the series began. She wanted to be a pampered housewife adored by her husband. Instead, she ended up with Greg Harris, who turned out to be a less than talented surgeon. Worse, he was incapable of kick starting a career in psychiatry after failing a job interview. Now, Joan is now forced to become a career woman, again. In (2.11) “The Gypsy and the Hobo”, Greg had decided to continue his career in surgery . . . as a U.S. Army officer. And there is a chance that he might end up in Vietnam. Although Joan expressed relief that she managed to find a permanent job again, with the newly formed Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Agency, I cannot help but wonder how she feels about her failure to become a suburban housewife of a successful careerist. Perhaps deep down, Joan had always wanted to remain a career woman. But she had allowed society to dictate her wants, just as Betty has. What will the future bring for Joan? Will she still desire the life that Betty had with Don? Or will she finally wise up and realize that that living the Suburban Dream was never really for her . . . with any man?

And what about Betty? It seemed unrealistic to expect her to become the “liberated” woman so soon after her breakup with Don. Considering Betty’s upper class background and non-conformist personality, I do not see that happening this soon in the series. After all, Season Three has just ended. Personally, I suspect that Betty might still be too scared to consider a life independent of men, or have a man in her life and at the same time, create her own lifestyle. Perhaps it will take the Women’s Movement in the 1970s for Betty to become that woman. Perhaps she will end up as another Betty Ford, an activist who managed to have a lasting marriage with a Republican politician. Then again, I do not even know if Betty will ever become the type of “liberated” woman that many seem to demand that she become. But I refuse to make any assumption on how Betty’s life will turn out. That would take a great deal of arrogance or hope on my part.

And I believe there is nothing wrong with wanting another man in one’s life. Of all the divorced or separated female characters on the show managed to move on with new men in their lives. Helen Bishop’s new paramour ended up creating resentment within her son, Glen. Mona Sterling had already found someone new by (3.02) “Love Among the Ruins”. Last season’s (2.06) “Maidenform” revealed that Duck Phillips’ ex-wife was about to remarry.

That Betty would hook up with Henry Francis does not seem all that surprising, considering their history in Season Three. The question remains on whether Henry will prove to be another Don Draper who ends up treating her as a trophy wife. Some fans seem to assume that will happen. Frankly, I have no idea. In some ways, Henry seems a lot like Don. In other ways, he seems different from Don. In the end, I believe that only Matt Weiner knows how this relationship will turn out.