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    Monday, November 28, 2005

    Teresa Remembers a Devoted Reader

    We often tell you how much our readers mean to us and I was reminded of that all over again when I found this note from a couple of years ago in my files:

    The e-mail I received this morning was simple. "I just want to tell you that my dear sister died today and to thank you for being such a friend to her." I first heard from Lourdes Goulart through snail mail. She was a young woman from the Azores living in America at the time and wanted to know if my name was Portuguese. She sent me an e-mail the following year to let me know that she was suffering from cancer that had originated in her breast and spread to her spine. She had returned to the Azores because medical care there was free. I sent her one of my autographed books, then rounded up several other books from my generous friends.

    Shortly after that I received a beautiful cross-stitch of a windmill she could see from the window of her hospital room. Lourdes apologized for its quality because the chemo was weakening her eyesight. I thought it was beautiful. We exchanged e-mails and books several times after that. Her e-mails were always bright, witty, and filled with humor and humanity despite the suffering she was enduring. I couldn't begin to imagine what it must be like to have bits of your teeth break off with each meal or to have the cutest orderly at the hospital catch you with your pants around your ankles when you collapsed in the bathroom of your hospital room because you were too weak to sit on the commode. She told me how she'd fled from the dentist in her wheelchair after he told her he would need to pull all of her teeth because the mental image of herself--fat and swollen with no hair or teeth was just too much to take in.

    She fantasized about American food (especially Mexican and Chinese :)) and talked about how hungry the steroids made you, how you just kept stuffing yourself, imagining the calorie count, and at the same time contemplating eating your mother's fingers if they got too close to your plate.

    She started my most recent book the day before she entered the hospital for the last time. She didn't want to read past the first page because she didn't like to be interrupted once she started on a good book. She left me with this bit of wisdom: "Sometimes the best you can hope for is to survive today and have something to eat tomorrow."

    Go with God, Lourdes, and I hope He was waiting to greet you with a romance novel in one hand and a fat Mexican burrito in the other.

    Monday, November 21, 2005

    Teresa Ponders an Embarrassment of Riches and Romance at the Movies

    It's so rare to find a satisfying romance at the movies that I nearly dissolved into raptures of delight to discover not one but two of them this weekend! On Friday I had the distinct pleasure of going to see the new theatrical version of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE with Keira Knightly and Matthew MacFadyen. To be honest, I was prepared to be disappointed. I had seen the rather murky looking trailer that made even the gorgeous Keira Knightly look washed-out and blotchy. Plus as we all know, every version of P & P must now be compared to that platinum standard of the 1995 BBC mini-series with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.

    But I found the new movie to be thoroughly delightful and exhilarating! At just a little over 2 hours long, it couldn't cover quite as much ground as the mini-series (Wickham and the two younger sisters had very minor roles), but it beautifully captured the romance and robust good humor of Austen's story. I was caught off guard by several laugh-out-loud moments. Keira Knightly embodied Elizabeth Bennet's intelligence and wit. (Her portrayal also reminded me a little of Jo March in LITTLE WOMEN.) One glimpse of her smile and you knew why Darcy's heart was captivated. MacFadyen as Mr. Darcy won me over in the moment when I realized his voice had the exact same timbre as Alan Rickman's. The murkier cinematography actually ended up making the movie seem more vital and historically accurate. The gritty images of daily life are contrasted with breathtaking shots of the English countryside, including one of Mr. Darcy striding out of the mist that almost rivals Colin Firth's rising up out of Pemberly's pond on the female gasp of appreciation scale. (Yes, this is an actual scientific device. I have one in my office.)

    Next up is the rather luscious and dangerous Joaquin Phoenix channeling Johnny Cash in WALK THE LINE. At the literal heart of the movie is Cash's longstanding and long-unrequited love for June Carter (the ever ebullient Reese Witherspoon finally being allowed to put her Nashville accent to good use) and the trials and travails he must suffer before finally settling down with the love of his life. From the foot-stomping power of the very first scene, music is the thread that binds these two restless hearts and what makes the movie even more remarkable is that Phoenix and Witherspoon did all of their own singing!

    If you're looking for a taste of romance this Thanksgiving, I wholeheartedly recommend these 2 movies!

    Monday, November 14, 2005

    Nine Things Teresa Loves About Her Job

    1) Getting woken up by a cat instead of an alarm clock

    2) The freedom to exhibit lunatic behaviors without getting carted away to the nearest mental hospital like a) waltzing in one's office with invisible partner b) talking to one's self like a schizophrenic while practicing dialogue on daily neighborhood walk c) making out with a large stuffed pink pig while blocking out love scenes (Let's see--if the hero's paw was here, then where would the heroine's snout be?)

    3) Falling in love with a sexy, gorgeous new man every year and having one's husband not mind as long as those royalty checks keep coming

    4) Having 350 pics of Russell Crowe on one's screensaver and assuring husband it's "research"

    5) Having office decorated with Fairy Tale Barbies, Beauty and the Beast memorabilia and talking replica of Captain Jack Sparrow from PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN

    6) Talking to your talking replica of Captain Jack Sparrow as he mumbles sweet nothings in your ear

    7) Buying all of the romances you want and assuring IRS it's "research"

    8) The ability to zone out during boring conversations with excuse of "Oh, I'm sorry, I was just thinking about the next plot twist in my book."

    9) Watching repeated viewings of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE with Colin Firth and assuring editor waiting for late manuscript that it's "research"

    Saturday, November 05, 2005

    Romance is Back and So is Zorro!

    What woman can resist a mysterious masked man with a delicious accent and a horse that can rear up on command just in time for a photo op against the setting sun? Zorro is one Latin lover who has been charming the ladies for decades. Who better to portray him in THE LEGEND OF ZORRO than the luscious Antonio Banderas, reprising his role from 1998's THE MASK OF ZORRO. For those of you who remember that film, Banderas was something of an anti-hero in that movie--a wisecracking ne'er do well recruited by Anthony Hopkins to don the infamous mask, defend the common man, and win the heart of Hopkins' winsome long-lost daughter Elena.

    In LEGEND, ten years have passed and Alejandro/Zorro is still married to his beloved Elena and is the doting papa of little Joaquin, a precocious budding Mini-Zorro. Taking a cue from SHREK II, the screenwriters amped up the romance in the movie by driving a wedge between Zorro and Elena at the very beginning of the movie. This sets the stage for several humorous and passionate encounters worthy of any historical romance with a feuding hero and heroine destined to end up in each others' arms.

    I'm happy to report that Antonio is still hot and even after bearing 2 of Michael Douglas's children, Catherine Zeta-Jones is still so beautiful it hurts your eyes to look at her. (And after seeing her in those gorgeous 1850's period costumes, I'm convinced she's the only actress working today who could actually do the role of Scarlett O'Hara justice.)

    If you're a sucker for an old-fashioned swashbuckler with delightful touches of humor and a sexy undercurrent of romance, I highly recommend you grab the family and take in THE LEGEND OF ZORRO. (Although there is a little violence, I think I can recommend it for most ages. There was a little boy behind us who was plainly delighted by the entire movie, especially little Mini-Zorro.)