Friday, April 30, 2010

Book ‘Em!

I KNOW! A post every day this week! If you've started to look for the Four Horsemen, well, I don't really blame you.

I should warn you from the start this post may have a hillbilly tone to it. That's because I'm still reeling over the awesome episode of Justified Tuesday night. I have a habit of internalizing the tone of something I've watched or read when it's really strong and really good, or when I've spent too much time in that world. This is why I start rounding my vowels and may let out a gar-rhage or two when I've been watching too much BBCAmerica. Also, because I have a tendency for pretentiousness but that's a post for another day. Know that in my head today at least, that opening line came out as "Ah doont rally blame yew." Yes, the inside of my head does get scary sometimes.

Book 'Em! is TLS Friday feature. With a long weekend stretching before you, wouldn't you like to know of a good book worth reading? Or conversely, one not?

Maybe I can help. Though probably not by leaps and bounds over the past few months. These are titles from writing friends, well-reviewed new books that intrigue me, and the newest endeavors by proven masters of the game. Only yesterday I picked up Meredith Duran's Wicked Becomes You and Carrie Lofty's Scoundrel's Kiss.

Meredith is one of three newish romance authors whose work I think heralds a new and exciting resurgence of the historical romance genre. The other two authors of this triad are Joanna Bourne and Sherry Thomas, both with new books in the next 2 months. Huzzah!

Not only are their books tightly plotted, their characters full-bodied, and their settings visually evocative, but the prose is quite simply glorious.

Unfortunately, I am desperately, desperately, desperately attempting a full court press on my own work and if I dive into the lush verbiage of these ladies, I am doomed 1. not to work and 2. to get their (excellent) voices stuck in my head and sifting through my work. And let me tell you, a prithee does not work/fit into a biker gang face off.

Whoops, I short shifted Carrie Lofty there. The first book I read by Carrie was What a Scoundrel Wants, a turn-it-on-its-head re-imagining of Will Scarlet of Robin Hood fame and there is almost nothing heroic about him. And then he meets his match. Carrie's writing is fierce and quick and wickedly entertaining. I'm looking forward to sinking into Scoundrel's Kiss, just as soon as I write my way through an antiheroic journey of my own.

I have no qualms recommending both these authors and the upcoming and backlist titles of Bourne and Thomas too. Start with Bourne's The Spymaster's Lady and Thomas' Private Arrangements. With any luck, somewhere down the line I'll be back with reviews of all.

Happy reading!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Linked Up Thursdays

Welcome to the inauguration of my newest feature: Linked Up Thursdays.

I have a lot of blogs/sites in my RSS feeder. I mean a lot. Many of them I've come to through recommendations from others – the natural ouroboros of blog reading. Some I put in the feeder because they looked interesting or apropos to my writing and eventually publishing dominance (a-hem) and I wanted to be able to go back to them for reference in the future. And some are just damn fun.

I reordered the list so that those I wished to see every day were at the top. Thing is, my tastes change. I used to read Television Without Pity (TWoP) religiously, clicking onto the site several times an hour to refresh the info in the years before I knew of the feeder option. This fed my T.V. obsession with snarky recaps and an online society that loved good and bad television enough to talk about it. Then NBC bought it from its clever and witty founders (good for them!) and it changed, became more commercial, targeting the NBC and affiliates shows more than anything else. Also, those snarky founders took their cash and moved on to other challenges, so the voices I loved were gone. Thus, so went my addiction to the site. Oddly enough, this happened around the end of my 20s, making it seem more of a natural progression than anything else.

I felt a similar loyalty to Tomato Nation, loving Sarah B.'s snarky voice, cat love, and Jersey girl upbringing so like and unlike my own. Not coincidentally, she was also a founder of TWoP. But then it changed, becoming more advice and poll oriented and less journal/story oriented. And that's OK – her career and life moved and changed and her creative output changed with it. And so did I.

A few months ago, I realized the sheer impossibility of keeping up with all of them and the sucking wastage of time I was investing in trying to do just that. Right now, I have 667 unread posts in my RSS feeder and that's AFTER I've gone through my dailies. Yikes.

Clearly, I must parse.

But since I am inherently lazy and frequent revel in excess, instead, I'm going to highlight one blog every Thursday. Perhaps in reviewing the blog, I'll discover those I can do without. More likely, I'll discover more to add to the list, but such are the dangers one faces in the Internet realm.

Who's the lucky inaugural blog? Crazy Aunt Purl.

Initially I came to this blog through the Smart Bitches site. Immediately, I liked her voice and the LA-vibe, so it got added to the feeder. Plus - writer! (Crazy is right, she gets up at 4am most mornings to write. All I can say is, Ugh.) Also, while I most definitely do not knit (not a domestic goddess, remember?) my sister and my father's wife do, and I wanted to remember the site to refer them to it.

And now I'm hooked.

Laurie Perry aka Crazy Aunt Purl saw the unexpected end of her young marriage and self imploded. And then crawled her way out. She loves to knit and travel (well, that's one of two for me), has several cats, and just sounds like someone I could enjoy a good bottle of wine with – probably several. She has published two books Drunk, Divorced, and Covered in Cat Hair and Home Is Where the Wine Is and if those titles don't give you a good sense of her humor, you're just not paying attention. Recently everything electronic in her life blew up in one week – hair dryer, work computer, Jeep all kablooey one day after the other. I would be homicidal. Somehow, she wasn't.

Laurie is a must read of my day. Admittedly, I skip over the knitting stuff because it's a language I don't and likely will never get. I do like the finished product pictures though because ooohhhh, pretty. I enjoy reading the day to day musings of a woman who got whacked over the head by life and not only picked herself up, but fashioned a new and better life from the detritus that fulfills her like nothing that came before. Life doesn't end if you're not married at 35. Really it doesn't. Sometimes, it gets better. I can relate to some of that. Some of the rest, I'm still working on.

In the end, don't pay attention to me. Check out Crazy Aunt Purl for yourself..

Disclaimer: I took no enticements to review this blog site though I can be appreciated (in many ways) with good wine (take note Laurie!).

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Following Merrily Along

Look! Over there! To the left – no, your other left! What's that? What does it say?

It's the Follow Button!!

I've been playing with the layout of TLS this week. Some items have been successful (the search function) some not (the Amazon link. Flipping Blogger – grrr). One thing my Luddite skills managed not to screw up was implementing the Follow Button.

LOOK – two whole people follow me! Hello my people! LOVE you!

Are you one of the mprhm-something people who read Two Left Shoes? Well, click the follow button there then! Confetti and balloons will fall from the sky all around you! Probably not, but you never know.

I write these posts for me and satisfy my narcissistic tendencies (all bloggers are narcissistic by very nature of blogging) by imagining the thousands of anonymous readers out there hanging on my every word (not really). How much better to actually see those (low) numbers in action following merrily along?

So have a heart and click follow. I'll bask in your adoration for a whole minute, I promise.

These are some of my baby step to finally customizing TLS. Eventually, I hope to figure out how to upload my own images and tool the layout to be more me (me! me! me!) and less template #6. Scary, I know. We'll all have to scrunch our eyes up together and grin and bear it.

With any luck, you'll all still follow along.

Caveat: I feel the need to clarify for the potentially new readers visiting TLS for the first time (it could happen!) that I am not really, no way, no how, this narcissistic. I am, however, this sarcastic. More so really. Better hang on.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Appointment Television: Justified

Recently, during a stimulated conversation over drinks after work, a co-worker genially called me a television snob. I own up to it without compunction. I prefer television with high concepts, good writing, and stellar performances. I don't like tricks or clichés or very special episodes or pandering. I like something that's going to challenge me, that expects me to get the joke regardless of its reference points, that uses adult words and responses to potentially real situations or at least real to the world the show inhabits.

This doesn't mean that I don't adore "stupid" T.V. I usually get hooked into genre shows that may not appear at first glance to fit my snobbish preferences. And I like silly stuff too – you can never have enough of the silly in your life. But even that which might seem marginalized or ridiculous usually has more at its core than what might be seen in its pitch. Like Buffy or pretty much anything written by Joss Whedon. Or Burn Notice – smart, clever, and fun with things that go boom. Or Chuck – smart, clever, very funny, often silly, occasionally outrageous, and utterly geektastic.

Justified is not silly, or marginalized, or even remotely ridiculous. It is, however, absolutely fantastic.

Justified follows U.S. Deputy Marshal Raylan Givens. Raylan is of the shot to-kill-school of fugitive retention, though he will give fair warning before he does so. In the pilot episode, Raylan has given a known Bad Guy 24 hours to clear out of Miami, where Raylan is stationed, or he, Raylan, will kill him, Bad Guy. Of course said Bad Guy doesn't go anywhere and Raylan confronts him pool-side of a swanky Miami hotel. Faster on the drawn, Raylan kills Bad Guy, a justified shoot as Bad Guy drew first. Still, the Marshals are less than happy with Raylan and transfer him to the Lexington, KY office, essentially, Raylan's hometown.

Played by Timothy Olyphant (late of Deadwood), Raylan is quiet, intense, restrained, accomplished, pretty hot, incredibly angry, and quite simply, not messing around. With Raylan's return to Kentucky, a can of riotous familial worms blows open and each episode unveils another tidbit of his fascinating back story from digging coal in the hills with a white supremacist former friend to his con man ex-con daddy still playing the grift even against Raylan himself.

My critique partner and I have decided that like his Daddy, Raylan runs his own con on the criminals he captures, spinning the long monologues he uses to convince them to give up their guns or get ready to die to con them into doing what he wants, and sometimes that's not to give up their guns so he can shoot them. My brilliant CP is working on an article on that very theme, so I'm not going to belabor the point but will let her do the heavy lifting and link to her article when it's done. I will say this kind of examination of the program happens because it is so smartly written and so complex.

Justified is based on a short story by Elmore Leonard called Fire in the Hole. Dramatizations of Leonard's work seem to be hit and miss (Out of Sight versus Get Shorty). I really enjoyed Out of Sight and was very fond of the short-lived Karen Sisco series that sprang from that movie but could never be tempted by any of the others. I recently read an interview with Leonard where he said how he's never liked the films made from his books. Justified is the rare one to arrive with his blessing (he's also a producer on the show) possibly because there are times when the show clearly lifts and/or mimics his dialogue and style. His characters are quirky and his bad guys get nearly equal screen time even without Raylan's presence. In this way, it's black, villainous humor like a better Pulp Fiction at times, which makes sense since Tarantino cites Leonard as a clear influence for that movie. This correlation came full circle as the mob hit men from one recent episode are discussing Pulp Fiction during a stakeout. My brain actually turned inside out turning that back on itself two or three times (Leonard to Pulp Fiction to Justified to Pulp Fiction to Leonard…stop the madness!!!)

But it's Raylan who's the draw. As the sixth episode airs tonight, Raylan has taken up with a woman who shot her abusive husband in the pilot. Now he's trying to keep the hillbilly, white supremacist, ex-con filled, bat-crazy family of the dead husband from killing them both, has bailed his father out of jail only to learn the old man conned him from the start so now he wants to get daddy dearest back behind bars, and has justifiably gunned down 1, 2, 3, 4 - a whole bunch of bad guys, which the FBI does not like. They're sort of investigating him. Oh, did I mention his ex-wife works in the courthouse? Yep, coming home is working out just fine for Raylan Givens.

The writing is clever (and we know how I like the clever, people), sometimes raw (flexing those loose basic cable language muscles, though not gratuitously), salacious, quick, and very funny. As the episodes proceed and explore ever deeper the mythos of the series and the history and conflicts of the characters, raising the emotional stakes every week, Justified gets sharper, funnier, impactful, and more must see with each passing week.

Justified is on the FX network on Tuesdays at 10 PM EST and is usually rated MA for mature audiences due to language, violence, and sexual content.

Disclaimer (because I don't want Raylan to show up and shoot me): I received no incentive to write this review other than an inability to delete the show permanently from my DVR if only to see Raylan's hospital confrontation with his daddy one more time.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Movie Mondays – Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightening Thief

For the last few years, my younger friend and I have made a tradition of seeing Harry Potter movies together. Now that the franchise is nearing its end, we've been on the lookout for a similar series to lock into for our movie nights. Nothing could ever top the HP oeuvre, but we have hopes that something will turn up sufficient enough to fill that void.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightening Thief (hitherto PJ) might be it.

Lord knows the producers tried to position it that way. Trailers lead with the statement "from the director of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets…" This would be referring to Christopher Columbus, who did indeed shepherd these two books to their big screen debuts. Never mind that Chamber of Secrets is widely regarded as the worse HP film of the lot. But Sorcerer's Stone was a lovely introduction to the HP world and a delightful movie at large. Columbus brings a childlike mentality and vision to his movies and he definitely knows how to draw out his child stars. He just isn't the guy you want to mature a series, not seeming to be able to raise the material to the next level. Hence the mess that is Chamber of Secrets.

But he's a great selling point to kick off a new series like PJ, a franchise desperately trying to be HP's heir.

Like my first experience with HP, I haven't read any of the Percy Jackson books before seeing the film. I've never liked a movie based on a novel when I've read the novel first but I usually like both if I've seen the movie first. Jurassic Park was a fantastic movie and then I read the book, which I found to be phenomenal. One enhanced the other. But, conversely, I thought The Firm was a nonstop thrill ride when I read it and was salivating for what turned out to be a travesty of a movie. And, ever since I caved and read the entire HP canon (right after The Goblet of Fire movie because I couldn't wait to see what happened next) I haven't fully liked a film version of the series. So I've learned my lesson: watch first, read at leisure.

From the start, PJ looked entertaining, not the least due to the adults peppering the trailer. Sean Bean, Pierce Brosnan, Kevin McKidd, and Melina Kanakaredes along with others lent themselves to the Olympian pantheon. Quite frankly, those first three pretty much guarantee that I'm at least going to look twice at the thing.

A brief summary of our story. Percy (Logan Lerman) is a NYC teenager struggling with a cesspit of a stepfather (Joe Pantoliano) and a mundane teenage life. His best friend, Grover (Brandon T. Jackson, and no, he isn't blue) is lame and uses crutches to support his weak legs. During a class trip to the Met (hello lovely!) headed by Percy's prescient if crippled (lot of that going around) teacher Mr. Bruner (Pierce Brosnan), Percy is attacked by a museum curator transformed into a mythical harpy (I've met some tight-assed curators in my time, but that's a bit too literal). Turns out, Percy is the son of Ares, God of War (Kevin McKidd), and is a half-god himself. Since the rumor mill on Olympus claims that Percy has stolen Zeus' (Sean Bean) lightning bolt, all manner of nasty things are now pursuing the kid. He escapes with Grover's crutch-less help (he's a faun!) and a revelatory assist from Mr. Bruner (he's a centaur!) eventually fleeing to a Hogwarts-like school in the forest where the spawned and abandoned children of the gods are trained to be warriors. Oh, and along the way, his mother (Catharine Keener) is kidnapped. By Hades (Steve Coogan).

Needless to say, our intrepid hero and his sidekicks – who now include Athena's (Melina Kanakaredes) fierce and passionate daughter Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario) – decide to go off on their own and rescue Mom and capture the lightning thief in order to clear Percy's name.

No problem.

A mixture of new-school tech and old school monsters, this is Clash of the Titans-lite (Harry Hamlin version). It clicks right along with numerous action and chase sequences before we even get within glance of the final denouement. Logan Lerman was impressive in 3:10 to Yuma and has the promise (and looks) of a young DiCaprio. He ably portrays a young man exploring his unexpected identity and coming to terms with parental absence, even if here it was more thanks to an edict from the king of the gods that more realistic parental error. All three young actors go for broke and while Grover's frequent comic asides seemed to me too forced to be authentic, I'm sure the average 15-year-old thought them hysterical.

I did enjoy the modernization of the monsters' lairs. Medusa's domain made me think of a shop called Poor Richards on Route 32 along the Delaware River that sports a similar statue garden. No snakes there though. And the idea of Las Vegas being a bastion of forgetfulness was clever.

Pierce Brosnan as a centaur was only slightly less silly that Pierce as a singer. Still, if you're going to be taught warcraft, it might as well be from double O. There are swords and mock battles and real fights and the kids get bang up enough to the point that "please, just a little bit of peril" crossed my mind. The other adult cameos for the most part were too short to be significant. Except for Coogan. Playing Hades, Lord of the Underworld as a burnt-out rock star, Coogan stole the show. Worth the price of admission right there.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is a far cry from the Harry Potter franchise. It's unfortunate that so many "children" fantasy flicks will be held up to and likely fall short of the HP standard. That's the risk you run, especially when you blatantly court that audience. On its own, however, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is an entertaining start to what could be an enjoyable franchise on its own merits. No matter what the gods say.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is rated PG for action violence and peril, some scary images and suggestive material, and mild language.

Disclaimer: Somewhere I've got the receipts to prove that I paid for the tickets on this one, all by my lonesome, and received no inducement or bribery to do so. Also the snacks.

Recommendation: I'm going to start adding a recommendation to these reviews. Somewhat obviously, today it's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The best HP of the lot to date, it's layered, complicated, intriguing, suspenseful, heavily doused with thematic images, revelatory for the mythology of the series, and beautifully shot. If you've never seen or heard of it, well, you probably live in a cave. Check it out.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Movie Monday – Up in the Air

I love to fly. I absolutely love it. I love the smell of airports, the whoosh of the electronic "sidewalks", the creek of plastic chairs, the endless entertainment of people watching. I love it all – though maybe not the kids.

I still feel a sense of adventure when I fly and this affects how I feel about its mechanics. I don't mind taking off my shoes at security and I guran-dang-tee you that I will, 90% of the time, be pulled aside for a random additional security check, though so far, I've managed to avoid the beige room with the two-way mirror. I don't care. To any who object, I'll just point out that some jackhole with a whackout bomb is going to be apprehended this way so buck up, arrive early, and learn to wear slip-on shoes already.

The only time I've been really peeved by any of this was when they wouldn't allow my unopened can of Coke through and that was more outrage over being forced to pay two bucks for the same thing at the vendors inside the security orbit rather than keep my .75¢ can. I'm just that cheap.

I've paid my traveling dues, losing hours waiting for delayed flights, arguing with pissy airline employees (twice on the phone to far off states on behalf of a family member who was literally waiting at the gate), and even running across football field lengths of corridor to catch an 11pm rickety twin-prop to Madison, WI (thank you O'Hare airport). Maybe I haven't had to fly as part of my job (everyone I know who has insists that it will rapidly change my feelings about flying), but I've had more than my fair share of complications and bad trips to consider myself a seasoned air traveler. And still I unequivocally love it.

In the movie UP IN THE AIR, George Clooney agrees with me – though with a lot panache because it's George. Here he plays Ryan Bingham, a man whose job is to travel around the country firing people. It's an empty and extremely satisfying life and he loves it. So does his perfect match, Alex Goran (Vera Farminga) whom he meets in a hotel bar (natch) through the tried and true mating ritual of comparing perk cards. They begin an affair conveniently managed by determining which city they'll both be in at the same time. Stockpiling frequent flyer miles with the eventual goal of achieving the millionth mile mark when the Captain Sully-like pilot actually comes and sits with you! (And Hel-lo Sam Elliott!) Our George is loving life.

Then modern progress and cheeky up-and-comer Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) ground him, prospectively for good. And suddenly, our boy George has to evaluate his not-as-great-as-he-thought life.

Full disclosure: I've been fired, sorry, downsized (makes it all sound better, doesn't it?) and it sucks, full stop. I even lost my mind a little both times (really, don't ask). So I couldn't watch this film unbiased. Each time I watched Clooney or Kendrick fire someone no matter how much humor or pathos Jason Reitman's great script brought to it I felt a pang and had nasty self-worth eradicating flashbacks.

This is a very nice film. And why wouldn't it be? It's hard to go wrong with Clooney. By now, his name on a project is an automatic – automatic green light, automatic money maker, automatic Oscar nod, automatic quirky humor, and so on. And I've been keeping tabs on Vera Farminga since seeing her excellent work in the doomed U.S. version of the fabulously creepy British import TOUCHING EVIL. (Jeffrey Donovan, better known at Michael Weston of BURN NOTICE, was also tapped for this one, an early attempt at original programming by the USA channel. Obviously, USA recognized the gold mine it had at the time because BURN NOTICE rocks hard, almost if not completely because of Donovan's incredible work. But I digress.)

UP IN THE AIR doesn't disappoint in these given automatics either.

Writer and director Jason Reitman has crafted a very smart, unapologetic script. And I could recount the various themes it espouses, but eh, I don't want to belabor what will be evident to anyone who watches it. Likewise, I'm not going to comment on its relevance to real-world scenarios at large, namely the recession, as better reviewers than I have already exhaustively explored that.

For me, what carries this movie are its two relationships, one romantic (Clooney to Farminga) and the other a mentorship (Clooney to Kendrick). And the revelations and humor, small come-to-Jesus moments and real emotional resonance abounding in these pairings is engrossing. These are two players at the top of their game and one newcomer quickly following in their path. It's a genuine pleasure to watch them expertly navigate through Reitman's story.

But like the companies Ryan Bingham represents, in the end, Reitman screws with you. You think you're going on a journey with these characters in one direction, watching George's heart grow three sizes as he comes to term with the dramatic turn in his life and the ensuing revelations it brings, and with a harsh mid-course correction, Reitman up and undoes all of it, metaphorically firing George just as he's finally learned where the copy paper is stored. And it works.

For the most part. There is one mind screw that I did not see coming and instead of thinking, "Huh, look at that. You got me," what I actually said, (yes, out loud) was "Hey – dirty pool Reitman!" Not just because George was heartbroken (poor baby) but because none of the buildup even minutely alluded to that moment. Which was likely the point. Argh. I think I just talked myself out of my gripe. Again.

Grudgingly, I'll admit that it thematically chimes along with the rest of the film. Many of the people shown being let go looked like they'd be hit by a Mack truck (a rare moment of art correctly representing life) and George likewise looks completely flattened in that moment. And then he still has to move on and live with it. But still, I claim foul.

All in all, UP IN THE AIR is smart, sad, and funny. Take two hours plus and go fly away with George and company. But be sure to bring along the antacids – just in case.

UP IN THE AIR is rated R for language and some sexual content.

Disclaimer: I was not provided any incentive to review this film. I rented it and watched it under my own volition and at my own cost. Satisfied alphabet agencies? Good. I aim to please.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sunday Is On Its Way

It is Easter weekend and for once I'm ahead of the curve, making my sumptuous breakfast casserole before 10pm. This prep is one of the few things I do traditionally for Easter and Christmas other than sing. It's not a high holy day if I'm not singing, at least to my mind.

It helps that the prep is only cutting, shredding, and mixing. A trained monkey can do that. Right now, I'm waiting for the microwave sausage links to cool enough for me to cut them up. My fingers are already singed by my impatience in not waiting for the first batch to cool. I've got an arm's length of things to do including dying my mother's hair and hitting the supermarket for her bloody fruit boats and I still want to get 2500 words written today.

I enjoy making the casserole though, enjoy the eating of it more, and enjoy watching others enjoy the eating of it even more than that. As I've noted here before, my church choir sings for all three Easter Sunday services and so we arrange a breakfast for the music community to enjoy in between services. Many of us contribute, still more set up and clean up – often many of the same people doing it all. I make casserole and over the years, I've learned to make two as the first is practically inhaled before I can get the foil off the top, leaving none for those people still attending service and worse, no reason to compliment me on my meager skills, though that's somewhat less important, I guess.

It's a long morning.

This is also one of the rarer times when my latent mothering genes rear up and, to make things oh so much more fun, they then mate with my pathological need to please along with my barely suppressed need do everything exactly right or not at all. See? There's a reason I don't do this stuff.

It's a beautiful Easter weekend. We haven't had good weather for Easter in years, and I'm reveling in it, even if I'm just watching it pass by my window as I work. Hollis keeps jumping into and out of the window behind my desk, bumping heads with me as she passes by. There's sausage to cut, cheese to shred, hair to dye, words to write, and glory waiting on the horizon.

Sunday is on its way.

On Easter morning, I think most of Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, those brave women who set out before dawn to bathe and consecrate the body of Jesus. All Christ's followers and friends had spent a fearsome two nights since the Crucifixion of Christ, frightened and devastated, scared they would be next, fearing to believe in the promises their beloved Master had given them. That He would return. That they would see Him again. And then these brave, devoted women struck out from the break of day to be there for Him as they were there at the cross. And oh my, were they rewarded for their faithfulness.

And when the resurrection story is read from scripture tomorrow morning, I'll hear Mary's voice as I do every Easter morning Rabboni! the shock, the awe, the sheer joy at seeing the one she loved so much before her again.

An egg casserole cannot compare to that. But I faithfully make it, preparing food to feed those who have risen at dawn to serve their Master. We come as we do every year to stand and sing and eat and praise and worship our Savior, He who has risen from the dead. He who is coming again.