Mamma Mia Two: What’d You Go and Do

You know…

Thoughtful writing is not that hard

Fans didn’t deserve this harsh canard

Parker, Craymer, Streep why did you

All have to take her without thinking it through

You excised an icon, a heart, a star

Why no door left open not even ajar

That might give us hope for Sophie and Sky

To share that grandkid and keep the story alive

Or find Sam happy and joyous and bright

To lay with his wife and kiss her goodnight

You took Donna and left us Cher

Who wasn’t bad but why wasn’t there

A touching scene between Donna and Mom

A healing beam from time gone on

A touching arc from the chasm of time

Everyone happy would have been just fine.

To her loyal fans from ten years strong

You promised a sequel and strung us along.

Do you truly not understand what you did?

To take what was joy and make it morbid?

She recaptured our youth our own dot dot dot

And then you stole her without even a thought

That youth has an end date, for some this is real

You gave us a throwback for which we could squeal

With delight and madness that made us reel

From the memories we savored…they were a big deal.

Words have power writers know this is true

Never been more shocked than this painful redo.

 

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Posted in ABBA, artists, Children, Director, Family, Judy Craymer, Mamma Mia, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, Meryl Streep, Motherhood, Mothers, Ol Parker, Poems, Poetry, Sucker Punch, trailers, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mamma Mia: There It Went

Not quite forty-eight hours and I am still recovering from the betrayal and sucker punch delivered by Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again.

Spoiler Alert: If you don’t want to know the plot, quit reading now.

Before I begin what I hope will be a cathartic rant, allow me to explain why this movie meant so much to me, and why literally killing the story-line is so personally disheartening.

Mamma Mia was first released in 2008. It was the year my mother got very sick, and it was the last movie she ever saw. I was hovering around my 50th birthday. My girls were around 10 and 14. I went to the movie, and during the first few scenes was looking at my watch to see when it would be over. (Don’t know why, but I found the Money, Money, Money song annoying.) I think it was the Honey, Honey number that grabbed me by the heart and drew me in.

I was instantly transported back to my own magical days of wonder. Before I knew it I was engulfed in the visual beauty of Greece, the allure and energy of youth, the palpable ecstasy of decades-long friendship. And, honest to Pete, with every scene the delightful narrative just got stronger and brighter and the denouement left me giddy with joy and pleasure.

I spent money and watched that movie SEVEN TIMES at the theater. Never before or since have I even watched one a second time. I even went alone on several of those occasions.

And then I shared it with my girls. We bought the DVD, viewed it over and over, sang with it in the car…it is not hyperbolic to say that Mamma Mia was an regular, notable influence on our family during the next ten years.

So, you can imagine our delight when the sequel was approaching. So much to look forward to! Both my girls are in another state now, and we dearly wanted to be together for opening night. Alas, we missed it by one day. I saw it a few hours before their allotted time.

I viewed it with a dear friend from high school. We arrived more than an hour early, sat through a half hour of trailers, and finally, finally! The opening shot.

And I knew it instantly…the magic was gone. The opening shot was quiet, dark and lacked energy. Expressions were dower. And then, God help me, Sophie hung up a picture of Dead Donna, and said something about “This is what mom would have wanted.”

Are you kidding me? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

They effing killed Donna???

So I have read that “Meryl Streep doesn’t do sequels.” Well, good for her. Knowing that, the writers couldn’t have had her go to Europe to see a friend? Join the Peace Corp? DID THEY HAVE TO KILL HER? And yet she shows up at the end as a damn ghost, so she did in fact do a sequel?

Well, I have not been that sucker punched since they threw Anne Hathaway under the truck in One Day. (Or maybe when they hoed the otter in half at the end of the movie, Ring of Bright Water.)

And then the grief started. Sam grieving. They had four, maybe five years of happiness before her death. Sophie grieving. Then Rosie and Tanya arrive crying. Good grief, who writes this crap?

How in the hell are you supposed to start singing and dancing and telling vagina jokes WHEN THE MAIN CHARACTER/MOTHER/WIFE/FRIEND is DEAD?

Call me a wuss but I cried for two hours. And so did a lot of other fans. And then I got really pissed.

The trailers were deceptive. Meryl Streep’s interview was deceptive. All Judy Craymer appeared to care about was shoving her sequel out of the gate.

Meryl Streep in her own words:

“Indescribable joy…pure fun…?” In what universe is a dead mother/wife/friend “joy and fun?: And for the record, I had heard rumors about Dead Donna. And this above interview had me believe my fears were unfounded. Very deceptive. Not cool, Meryl. Not cool.

However, anger, betrayal and grief aside, let’s have a look at the actual quality of the sequel.

This isn’t just the bitter talking. The musical numbers were an insulting rehash of the ones that were so strong, energetic and powerful. The jokes were equally as weak. Rosie wobbling around like an imbecile made me want to slap her down in the chair she kept missing. Sky and Sophie, who in the first movie exuded unbounded energy and sexuality, looked like they’d been married fifteen years and wanted a divorce. And, of course, Harry was still spontaneous.

There were a thousand ways this narrative could have kept the magic alive without turning it into a tragedy. With the addition of Cher, I personally was expecting a healing reconciliation between Donna and her mother. I was expecting to see the rise of the Dynamos and perhaps a bit of Sophie’s childhood.

I have spent the last two days discussing this with many fans on social media. Many of them loved this new movie, and that is their prerogative. But many also feel as I do, that it was a blind-siding script and an insult to those expecting an actual “reunion.”

I hope this crappy bait-and-switch will never quell the wonder, beauty and near divination of the first Mamma Mia. Shame on the people who killed this narrative. You didn’t have to.

Here is a fraction of what made Mamma Mia so amazingly special and the only song I cried at during the first movie. Tears of love at the bitter-sweetness of mother and daughter-hood, not in any way tears of loss and grief:

RIP, Donna Sheridan

Posted in ABBA, Anne Hathaway, Betrayal, Cher, Children, Daughters, Family, Friendship, Judy Craymer, Mamma Mia, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, Meryl Streep, Motherhood, Mothers, One Day, Regrets, Ring of Bright Water, Sucker Punch, trailers, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Teacher’s Back to School

Teacher’s Back to School

Back to school now, season’s done
What has happened to all that fun?
Of greeting friends and smiling faces
Who came to join us from far off places.

Waistline worse from all the yummies
That found their way inside our tummies.
New Year’s diet awaits the morrow
Just idea brings angst and sorrow.

But enough of negative and whining
Tomorrow noon will find me dining
With colleagues warm and bright and cheerful
Peggy Sue will grant an earful

Of witty stories from kith and kin
Who was naughty and who did win
And all of us at the table will
Laugh and giggle and not be still

Until the kids give us the eye and say
Teachers, you all now must behave!
And then we’ll settle and quietly
Countdown until the next vacay be.

Dorothy Hagan
New Year’s Day: 2018

Posted in back to school, colleagues, friends, lunch, teachers, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Amtrak Ride Leg 3: Food and Beverages

Amtrak train travel, especially compared to airline travel, gives you a great deal of freedoms. You can bring most anything legal onboard. This includes food and beverages, pillows and blankets. The above bags were filled with goodies of all sorts!

First, I want to tell you that you can search online for any information you may want regarding menus, snacks, drinks, dining times, etc. It is all on the Amtrak.com website also.

You really can go whole hog. I saw families with coolers containing juice bags, fruits and who knows what kind of sandwiches. If you plan right, you wouldn’t have to purchase a thing from the train.

Now, personally, I wanted to “be on vacation” so part of the fun for me was eating and drinking. I brought a couple of snacks for emergency hunger issues (of which there were none). My overall best snack was this:

It was crunchy, sweet, salty and had enough fat to satiate a quickie hunger pain. I still had half a bag when the trip was done.

The only other thing I wish I had brought more of was water bottles. You can buy them but, boy, when they are six for a buck at the dollar store, well, yeah. Should have brought more.

But get this! You can get cups of free ice in the cafe car just for the asking! I thought that was very generous if you were going to pour your own pop over Amtrak’s gratis ice. Nice touch, Amtrak.

So in the cafe car, which is open really early and stays open late, you can get drinks, snacks, and microwaveable anything. Believe it or not, their microwave hamburger was quite satisfying. Seriously!

If you want to eat in the dining car, you need to make a reservation. This is not because you are suddenly all La De Da; it is because the whole train isn’t going to fit in the dining car at the same time. Sleeping car passengers get first pick, and what’s more, their food is included in their ticket price. The dining car meals are pretty pricey, so this makes purchasing the sleeping car a better deal for a lot of people.

So in the dining car you will be eating with other people; there are four to a table. This for most people is part of the fun. (If you are an introvert who deplores time with strangers, may I again suggest that microwave pizza and a coke in your coach seat? Something for everyone!) I actually met a woman who lives in Alpine and gave great testimony about the Marfa Lights. (Now totally on my To Do list.) I met educators, single moms, even a belly dancer! The dining car experience is not to be missed. Make sure you go at least one time during your trip.

Next up: Interesting people!

Posted in Beverages, Bucket List, Coach, Coastal Starlight, Food, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Amtrak Train Ride Leg Two: The Staff

So…where was I? Oh, yes. First night on the train. It was a long one.

The Sunset Limited arrives in San Antonio in the wee hours. As bad luck would have it, this particular night was lengthened by some engine trouble. However, we were underway before sunrise, and I arose to some beautiful West Texas scenery.

This route goes through Del Rio, Alpine, El Paso, and Tucson on its way to Los Angeles. It was very beautiful and much more visually interesting than I anticipated. My brother-in-law suggested a trip to Alpine, getting off here, driving a short distance to Marfa for the famous Marfa Lights, and then heading back to Houston. Now that I know what he was talking about, I agree this might be the ideal “baby trip” to make before heading across the country. A trip to Alpine on the train is now On My List!

So I guess I should answer some of the many questions my readers have regarding Amtrak train travel. I will try to be succinct. (No one laugh. I know my tendencies to the contrary.)

Here you go…an easy one. How fast does the train go? According to one of the staff members, 79 mph is the top speed. I am sure we never got near that speed. A time or two we went faster than the cars on the highways next to us. So I figured probably 60-65 mph tops.

And since I just mentioned staff, I just have to say a few words on that subject.

First, I have to state that much of the reason I had enough nerve to undertake this trip was because I have a friend who takes the train herself a lot, and she has a relative who works for Amtrak. Between my friend and her relative, virtually all my wild questions about train travel were answered before I ever left the station. I sincerely appreciated this information.

My first interaction from an onboard staff member was John who works in the cafe of the observation car. He works the Houston to Los Angeles run, and it is a long one. He was exceedingly pleasant, clever and cordial. Somehow he made a microwave pizza taste like a gourmet dish. He really was that pleasant. With delays and whatnot, this man and the other staff members worked equally exceedingly long hours. And stayed upbeat, courteous and cordial to the very end of the trip. I doubt my demeanor would have stayed so on target.

On the Coastal Starlight, we had Johnny who was in the cafe, and was also very helpful and pleasant on the trip. This leg of the trip seemed to have more eaters and drinkers, and he also kept up with the demands. From the dining car to the conductors, the staff were all stellar.

I guess what impressed me most was the conductor on the Starlight. There was a passenger who was quite elderly and impaired, and the conductor himself helped the man downstairs, asked what he wanted to eat, helped him order it and delivered it to his table. Airlines, you might take note of what defines customer service.

Overall, the staff could not have been more helpful and inviting. Even with the delays we were kept informed, and treated with every courtesy.

Next up: cafe food and the dining car!

Posted in Amtrak, Bucket List, Coastal Starlight, conductors, Goals, mountains, Staff, Sunset Limited, Trains, Uncategorized, YOLO | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Amtrak Cross-Country Train Ride Gets Grade A

I dislike the term “bucket list” because I don’t plan to kick one anytime soon. But I am a fan of keeping a “goals list” because I do believe we can speak things into being. So…one of my long time goals has been to take a cross-county train trip. And so at the tender age of 58, last week I did just that.

The last time I took a train trip of any distance, I was probably 6 or 7 years old. From adulthood, I have longed to board a train and see some scenery…a LOT of scenery.  

I took the Amtrak train from Houston to Los Angeles, and another from Los Angeles to Seattle. These routes are called the Sunset Limited and the Coastal Starlight, and encompass some of America’s premier visuals in panoramic scenery. All total, I was about 75 hours on the train. It was long, but so very worth it.

For those who don’t care for the details of which I shall shortly regale, here is the skinny on why I give an overall grade for Amtrak of an A. Everything was great, much better than expected many times. The only reason for less than an A+ was because there were many delays. For the most part they were unavoidable. I was very forgiving because, frankly, if you are on a super tight schedule, you probably aren’t taking the train. So here are some pretty pictures, then I will get into the meat of the matter.

So I guess my first surprise was just how engaging every aspect of the experience was for me. I expected to do a lot of reading, writing, (like, serious writing such as blogging, poetry, recently born narratives, etc) and perhaps some idle chatter. But from the moment I arrived at the Houston station, I was enthralled by the experience of people, motion, visuals and general novelty. I could not concentrate in any way. I was like an ADD jack rabbit without my meds.

So here are my contributions to Life Aboard a Train, USA style.

I first arrived at the Houston Amtrak station about 2 1/2 hours early. It is not necessary to arrive more than 30-40 minutes, unlike the airport. You check in at the window, show an ID, and you’re done. Nothing checked or searched. It was quite liberating. Interestingly, there were a half dozen Homeland Security folks hanging around the area. I don’t know if this is normal or not. But I liked to think if there were bad guys/gals around, they might have passed on by with the presence of the Feds. When the train arrives, you get in line as follows: handi-capped and seniors, then a regular line, and finally those in sleeper cars. You are given an assigned seat if you are riding in coach, which I was. I was SO excited as I boarded that train!

I was lucky; on this train the very next car from mine was the observation car, which has the cafe in the lower level. I marched on down, got a drink from John, a most pleasant and cordial host, and sat at a table in the obs car as we pulled out of Houston. I watched the sun go down somewhere far west of the city. For you geography buffs, we followed old Highway 90 for much of the trip, even out into far west Texas.

So this post is turning into a rather unweildy process. I shall end this here and I ask you to read the next installment of the series. I’m not being coy, just practical in blogging management. Please read on!

Posted in Amtrak, Coastal Starlight, Sunset Limited, Traveling, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Five Days and Counting

In a short five days I will be embarking on a three day, three night trip on Amtrak.

I plan to blog and share pictures of the experience. I will be leaving Houston at 6:55 pm Wednesday and arriving Los Angeles at 5:30 am Friday. From LA I will take the train north to Seattle and will arrive around 8:15 Saturday evening. And my precious daughter will be there to greet me!

So here is my first blog ever done from an IPad. Hopefully, the mistakes will be minimal. Thanks to Amtrak for the picture.

Posted in Amtrak, Bucket List, Coach, Trains, Uncategorized | 3 Comments