Friday, February 27, 2015

Ms. Hen reviews MR. PENUMBRA'S 24 HOUR BOOKSTORE and wonders about the state of publishing

by Robin Sloan

Ms. Hen came to read this book because it is a featured book in her town’s library and there are events that surround it, such as discussions, film screenings, dinners and other fun things. There were about forty copies at her local library and they were all out! Ms. Hen thought that it was exciting that people in her town were actually reading a book, and they were reading the same book, so she went to a library in the big city nearby and checked it out.

At first Ms. Hen liked the book because she really wanted to like it. But then she got into it and she just wanted it to be over. It wasn’t the plot or the characters; it was the writing. The writing is juvenile, and Ms. Hen is a Hen with high standards. It’s a plot driven novel, and she continued to read it because she wanted to find out what happened at the end, which is the purpose of a plot driven novel.

The protagonist is Clay, a young man who gets laid off from his job doing marketing for a bagel company, and in desperation, applies for a job and gets hired at Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore doing the overnight shift. A lot of strange people come into the store in the middle of the night and check out books from the Wayback List, which is a type of library. Mr. Penumbra tells him not to look at those books under any circumstances. Of course Clay does, and finds the books are in a type of code.

What ensues is a type of adventure surrounding books, which includes employees at Google, a secret underground library in New York, and a robotic storage facility in Nevada. The story is not anything revolutionary, but it does pose some good questions about the future of books, old knowledge, robots and where the human race will be in one or two thousand years.

When Ms. Hen started reading this novel, it reminded her of THE ABORTION by Richard Brautigan, and she thought they would be similar, but they were not. That novel is about a strange library where people bring in self-written books, which are the only copy in existence. There was also a touch of THE LION THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE. Ms. Hen thought MR. PENUMBRA’S 24 HOUR BOOKSTORE could be considered Harry Potter for 25 years olds who don’t know much about literature.

Ms. Hen wonders how such a large amount of books like this could be published. It’s true that not many people read these days, but with books like this, it’s a wonder where the future of the written word is headed. Ms. Hen is considering going to one of two of these events to see who these people are in her town who have all read this book and to hear what they have to say. Hopefully there is at least one person who has standards as high as Ms. Hen’s. There must be someone in this town who knows quality as well as she.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ms. Hen reviews DOWNFALL and meditates on the importance of learning history

Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel

This film was on Ms. Hen’s Netflix list for a long time, and she finally watched it. She feels that it’s not always the right time to watch a Nazi movie, but she did, and she was enthralled as a hen could be.

The film is about Traudl Junge, Hitler’s secretary and the final days of World War II in the bunker in Berlin. At the beginning, Junge was chosen from five girls by Hitler to be his secretary. She was warned by her family not to get involved with the Nazis, but she wanted to do something with her life. She was 22 when she was hired.

Fast forward to April 20, 1945. Hitler is in a frenzy: the generals and advisers in the bunker scream at each other about military tactics, and they know they are going to lose the war. Bruno Ganz dominates the film as Hitler; he seems to have Hitler’s quirks and mannerisms. It’s not often that Hitler is portrayed in films; he’s usually a character in the background, but here we come to see him.

One of the background characters complained that Hitler was a non-smoking vegetarian, in that place and time that was abnormal. Not everyone who surrounded him was pure evil, and a lot of the people didn’t know what was happening in other parts of Europe. Eva Braun took care of Junge, and she was kind to her, because she knew Junge was young. Braun wanted to spend her last days partying, and she did, until a bomb hit the building where the party took place.

One of the most moving scenes of the film was when Goebbels’s wife poisoned her children and killed them all. She had complained that she didn’t want to live in a world that did not have National Socialism. After she had killed her children, she calmly sat down to play a game of Solitaire, as if nothing had happened. She and her husband died the next day: he shot her, then himself.

Traudl Junge was not arrested for her involvement with the Nazis. She was dismissed because she was a juvenile. But there were other young people who did know, like Sophie Scholl, who was executed by the Nazis for distributing literature about the atrocities, which was portrayed in the film SOPHIE SCHOLL, THE FINAL DAYS.  Another film that relates to this period in time is A WOMAN IN BERLIN, about the disturbing after effects of the end of World War II. The beginning and the end of DOWNFALL show the interview with Traudl Junge. The companion film to this, BLIND SPOT, HITLER’S SECRETARY, is the interview with her in its entirety.

Ms. Hen couldn’t understand why these people would follow this lunatic and do whatever he said, and kill millions of people. Some things will always be a mystery, but we can learn about them and try not to make the same mistakes again. Even though we wish this could be true, it hasn’t been. We just have to keep forging ahead, and try to teach future generations history.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Ms. Hen reviews LESS THAN ZERO and reminisces about the Eighties

by Bret Easton Ellis

Let’s just say this author is a big deal in Ms. Hen’s world. Let’s say she tried to read another book that he wrote and she was so disgusted that she couldn’t finish it. This novel was on her Kindle for a while and she finally got around to reading it.

There’s nothing terrible about LESS THAN ZERO. But there’s nothing fantastic about it either. It belongs to the genre of what Ms. Hen likes to call “party novels,” about characters running around going to parties and misbehaving and getting into trouble, usually by authors such as Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson, Charles Bukowski and sometimes Kurt Vonnegut.

It’s not to say that these pieces of fiction have no merit. It’s just that they’re all the same. The story of LESS THAN ZERO is this: a young man comes back from college for Christmas break and goes to a lot of parties and tries to score some cocaine and looks for his friend.

There are some graphic pieces here, but they are so tame that they are barely worth mentioning. Last year, Ms. Hen read TROPIC OF CANCER by Henry Miller, and that was the most perverse thing she had ever read. LESS THAN ZERO pales in comparison if the purpose is to shock the reader.

The author tries to attract the reader's attention with minor sexual descriptions, and also, LESS THAN ZERO has no redeeming characters. Ms. Hen did not find herself rooting for any of the young people in the book. She read about LESS THAN ZERO, and a lot of readers could relate to what happened in the book, but Ms. Hen thought it is a novel about shallow, narcissistic jerks and if a person could relate to these characters, he must be like that, too.

The one positive aspect of this novel is that it’s a time capsule for an era that doesn’t exist anymore. Young people today would be interested in reading about the Eighties, when there were no cell phones, no computers, when the world’s information was not at your fingertips.

Ms. Hen remembers what that world was like. She knows people who do not. If anything, LESS THAN ZERO can show us how much the world has morphed into something different from what it used to be. It’s about a time when people had to talk to each other at restaurants, and were not staring at their phones.

There’s a payoff for everything. Ms. Hen knows that the world is as screwed up now as it was then. But as a hen, she can only sit by and watch to see what will happen.  She will remember the past, but look towards the future, knowing we’re spiraling in an unknown direction, and it could be either positive or negative. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Ms. Hen reviews THE LOVE SONG OF A. JEROME MINKOFF AND OTHER STORIES and meditates on the importance of art being universal

By Joseph Epstein

Ms. Hen came into possession of this book by accident. She was at her chicken friends’ artist apartment building, and there was a box of books outside one of the doors in the building. Ms. Hen is always eager to grab a free book, so she picked this one because it had an interesting title, similar to the poem, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” It took her a while to get around to reading it.

At first Ms. Hen wasn’t really interested in the characters in these short stories, who are all old, rich Jewish men. Ms. Hen is not an old, rich Jewish man, so she thought she would hate this book. But she didn’t.

The stories are all about the same type of character, but each character is looking at and thinking about a character that is completely different from him. In “The Philosopher and the Checkout Girl,” a retired Philosophy professor takes an interest in a cashier at a grocery store and thinks about her life and it changes the way he thinks about his life. They become friends, then more, and they both come to realize what life is as a result.

In the story, “Danny Montoya,” a man runs into an old high school friend who is working at Home Depot. His friend used to be the best tennis player in Chicago for his age. The narrator worshipped Danny when he was young, and he knew he would never have Danny’s talent. The story was about the having the ability or the gift to be the best at something at one point in your life.

The aspect of these stories that Ms. Hen enjoyed was that every story had something in it that everyone can relate to. One of Ms. Hen’s teachers at writing school said that there should be something in her writing that should be universal. These stories succeed in that aspect. After finishing each story, Ms. Hen would stop and take a breath and think, oh, okay, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. And she would think about her own life.

There is much controversy about Joseph Epstein and his homophobia. The beginning of his Wikipedia page is all about that issue. Ms. Hen didn’t know that before she read the book, but when she found out about it afterwards, it didn’t affect her opinion of his writing. You can’t judge the artist for the art. If we did, most art would be judged unworthy. Most brilliant people are tainted or crazy in some way.

Ms. Hen likes to think she’s crazy enough to be considered brilliant. But she has a long way to go to prove this to the world. After all, she is a hen. Hens don’t become geniuses. Or do they?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Ms. Hen reviews BUTTERFLY and wonders about her capacity to do the right thing

Directed by Jose Luis Cuerda

For those who have to brush up on their history, BUTTERFLY can be a confusing film. Ms. Hen knows some things about the Spanish Civil War, but not everything, so she had to do research about what was happening in the time period in which the film took place, a time in between the Republic and the fascists, when betrayal and lies were everywhere.

The film is a coming of age story about Moncho, a boy kept out of school because of asthma. When he goes to school he is so nervous on the first day because he thinks he will be beaten, he pees his pants in front of the class. He runs away, but his kind teacher goes to his house and encourages him to come back to school.

Ms. Hen liked the teacher Don Gregorio because he reminded her of a professor she had in chicken school who encouraged her to become a writer. Moncho and the teacher become friends; he shows Moncho how to catch butterflies with a net and explains that butterflies have a tongue that curls out to eat the nectar from the flower.

Ms. Hen’s favorite scene was Moncho and his brother Ramon go to a different town to play with a band and they stay in the house belonging to a man and his Chinese wife. The woman tends to the hens in the barn. She cannot talk, but she can understand, her husband explains. Ramon has his eyes on the wife, and he plays the saxophone while looking at her at the concert.

In the class, Don Gregorio posed a riddle to the students. The question is, if a rooster lays an egg on the border of France and Spain, what nationality would the egg be? One silly boy said, it would be Spanish because they have big balls. But Moncho knew the correct answer (as did Ms. Hen): roosters don’t lay eggs.

Throughout the film, there is a sense of underlying danger. Men on horses watch the Republicans’ party, a man kills a dog of his lover and people are on edge. The viewer knows something evil will happen, and at the end, it does. The film poses a question – what would you do in extreme circumstances? Would you do the right thing, or would you do what you had to do to survive?

Ms. Hen doesn’t know what she would do if she were faced with a conundrum like that. It’s easy to say we would do the right thing, but faced with death or imprisonment of our whole family, the question hangs in the air. Fortunately for Ms. Hen, the major obstacle in her life today in the mountain of snow outside. There are other things, but none is the matter of putting her life at risk. She’s an accessory, and is meant to carry things. She carries the weight of wisdom in her wings.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Ms. Hen reviews THE LADY OF THE CAMILLIAS and decides she is glad she lives in this century, then cries

By Alexander Dumas, fils
Translated by Liesl Schillinger

Ms. Hen’s attention was brought to this novel because she discovered that it inspired the film MOULIN ROUGUE. The story is very different; the novel is not a raucous, high-strung romp like film, but a tortured love story between an idealistic man and a woman who is not expecting to find love, and is dying of consumption.

It is the story of Armand, a young man from the outskirts of Paris, and Marguerite, a “kept woman,” the lover of many men who pay for her apartment and her carriage, clothes, food, and everything. Armand meets Marguerite at the theater and is so smitten that he cannot talk. He runs into her months later, and he and his friend go with her to her apartment with another woman, Prudence and have supper. Marguerite leaves the room to cough up blood in private and Armand shows concern for her, which nobody else had ever done. This touches Marguerite, and they begin their tumultuous love affair.

The problem is that Armand cannot afford to keep Marguerite and be her only lover, but he cannot stand anyone else to be with her. The pull at each other and she seems to torture him. The story is told through Armand recounting the tale to the narrator; a man who discovers Marguerite is dead by attending her estate sale after her death.

THE LADY OF THE CAMILLIAS was better known as a play by the same name in France written by the same author. The play was first shown in Paris in 1852. The story became more famous by the opera LA TRAVIATA, which premiered in Venice in 1853.

Since Ms. Hen is a feminist hen, she struggled with relating to Marguerite’s plight, that she needed men to pay her way. But she realized that this novel was written in a different time, and we cannot rewrite history. We can learn about history and be glad that we don’t live in an era in which women’s options were limited to getting married, becoming a kept woman, a teacher or a nun.

Ms. Hen rarely cries when she reads a novel, but this novel made her cry, since it was so heartrending. Ms. Hen did her research before she read this, and the Schillinger translation is supposed to be best because it shows the desperation and passion of the characters. Ms. Hen highly recommends this novel if one wants to read a heartbreaking love story and to cry like a hen.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Ms. Hen reviews GREEN PORNO, LIVE ON STAGE and learns about the sex lives of other species

Cutler Majestic Theater
Boston, MA
February 13,14, and 15

Last night Ms. Hen went to see Isabella Rossellini in a presentation of her Sundance Channel show Green Porno. Ms. Hen is a fan of Ms. Rossellini, but she had no idea what to expect from the show. She learned beforehand that it was about the sex lives of animals, and she thought it would be videos of animals mating. She was wrong.

The videos were not of animals mating, but of Ms. Rossellini acting out the scenes, which Ms. Hen found hysterical. One of the best films was the actress dressed as a female duck and the male ducks all jumped on her to have sex with her. But the female duck has eight passageways that the semen could get it and she only allowed her favorite male duck to fertilize her eggs.

In the film about dolphins, Ms. Rossellini appears as an underwater diver. She said that with dolphins anything goes. They can even have blow-hole sex, whitch shocked Ms. Hen, because she had never heard of such a thing. Ms. Hen thinks that dolphins seem like innocent creatures, but she was wrong.

Ms. Rossellini talked about sex with birds and Ms. Hen knows about this. Male birds and roosters don’t have external penises, so they have to shoot for the female’s vagina and hope they make the mark. Hens make eggs and don’t need roosters, but in order to make a fertilized egg, they need do need the males.

Ms. Rossellini was funny and charming and was passionate about the subject of sex. She is very European in her candor. She used a lot of props and she kept throwing them all over the stage: tomatoes, stuffed animals, paper and flowers.

One of the interesting points that she made was that she wondered how Noah could put two of every animal on his ark, when some animals don’t have males of the species, some are hermaphrodites, and some are homosexual. A hilarious film was shown that showed a hand pointing down and asking each species that was not male or female to find the other one. Ms. Hen was sure that Ms. Rossellini knows that Noah’s Ark is just a story. She was just having fun with the notion.

Ms. Hen goes to the theater often enough, but this was a different type of show. It was just one person, Isabella Rossellini performing, and it was about science and animals. Ms. Hen wished chickens appeared in the play, but there was a point when Ms. Rossellini said that cows and cats were boring. Ms. Hen doesn’t think chickens are boring and hopes Ms. Rossellini doesn’t think so either. Hens are intelligent animals, smart enough to know when a show dazzles or not. And this one did.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Ms. Hen reviews ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK and cherishes her freedom

by Piper Kerman

Since Ms. Hen is a cool kid, she’s watched the Netflix TV show ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK. She loves watching a show about women who are locked up because it forces her to look at her own life with more appreciation. The show is violent and brims with tension. Ms. Hen is an avid reader, so she decided she would read the memoir. It differs from the TV show.

At first, Ms. Hen noticed how bland the writing is in the book. The real Piper was not a literature major at Smith; she was a theater major. Reading this is not at all like reading Tolstoy or Jeanette Winterson. But Ms. Hen kept reading because she wanted to discover how similar the book is to the TV show.

In the book, there are too many characters and any reader, including a hen, would get confused. The characters on the TV show are composites of the ones in the book; the reader can recognize pieces of characters in all the different women.

The TV show has more violence and tension than the memoir, and the show is written better. In the book, Piper discovers what it means to live in the moment at all times and to try to learn to make the best out of every situation. She looks for the good in every day, which is a useful survival tool for anyone. She made great friendships with the women with whom she was incarcerated and discovered that she had a lot to give. She learned in prison that she was not the bad girl she wanted to be, but a good girl.

Ms. Hen was disappointed that the chicken episode had nothing to do with the book. In the episode, a chicken runs around the prison that the cook Red wants to catch. She says that she wants to eat the chicken because it’s so smart she wants to absorb its intelligence. Ms. Hen is a very smart hen and she knows that Red would want to eat her, too, if she were real.

Even though Ms. Hen thinks ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK is not the best book she’s ever read in her life, she was reminded of how precious and fragile freedom can be. Anyone who’s been locked up should know how to appreciate life and the small things, like a hen purse or a cup of good coffee. All the little things should matter to everyone, because it's the details that make life so colorful.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Ms. Hen reviews GENEALOGIES OF A CRIME and decides she likes to be shocked by a film

Genealogy of a Crime 1997

Directed by Raoul Ruiz

Catherine Deneuve is one of Ms. Hen’s favorite actresses. Every film in which she appears, she commands attention. She has been the grande dame of French cinema for over forty years, and she is always brilliant to watch.

In GENEALOGY OF A CRIME, Deneuve plays two characters: a lawyer, Solange, who only takes on hopeless cases which she always loses; and the aunt of the man she’s representing, Jeanne, a psychoanalyst who toys with her nephew and makes him believe he is destined to become a killer.

Turn the film one way, and it is a comic farce. Turn it another way, and it is a stylistic film with bizarre angles and blurred camera work. Many mirrors and reflections grace the film, most likely because the world looks different and backwards in a mirror, but then the camera turns away and the real scene is shown.

The film is filled with quirky characters, not all of whom Ms. Hen liked. There is Solange’s mother who torments her daughter and incessantly criticizes her; the psychoanalyst Georges Didier, who mocks Solange and always brushes off his shoulders; the unstable accused murderer, Pascal, who plays mental games with Solange.

Ms. Hen gets excited when hens or chickens are mentioned in films or books. In this film, the mother has a therapy session and she tells the doctor about her dream, “I saw her standing there, and totally unconsciously, I cut her up. I say, it’s only a hen, it’ll need a lot of boiling. Then she arrives, her or her double, and says ‘Sorry I’m late mum, what have you got me for dinner?’  (The doctor) She says, what have you got me for dinner? That’s right.  (The doctor) Continue. Then she rushes at her body, that I’ve just carved up, and swallows it raw.”

Another strange character in the film is Georges’ rival, Christian, who believes that people all live in stories. He fanatically expresses that every story is told over and over again throughout everyone’s lives. He is in the process of building a museum to the genealogy of crime, so people will know the stories throughout history. Solange, intrigued by this, doesn’t understand her own story until the end.

The beauty of this film is in the surprises. Ms. Hen did not see the ending coming.  This is a film that makes a viewer think, which Ms. Hen doesn’t mind because she likes learning and trying to figure things out. Sometimes she can figure out an ending, but a good film will shock her, like this one, and she enjoys that as much as she enjoys walking free on a farm, clucking her little heart out.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Ms. Hen reviews GUT SYMMETRIES and ponders on the strangeness of being critic who is a purse

by Jeanette Winterson

Ms. Hen recently read GUT SYMMETRIES by Jeanette Winterson. She has read other books by the author, and once again, she was not disappointed. Winterson is a master craftsperson when it comes to the art of prose. Ms. Hen was swept away in the story of love and despair.

GUT SYMMETRIES is about Alice, a physicist who has an affair with another physicist, then meets his wife and starts an affair with her. Intertwined are the history of physics and formulas about the time space continuum and the way the world turns and changes.

The most fascinating passage in the novel is when Stella’s mother decides she has a craving for diamonds when she is pregnant with Stella. The old Jewish men have their diamonds sitting around the kitchen table and Stella pops them all into her mouth. The men try to get all the diamonds back, and they do except for one, which is lodged in Stella’s spine when she is born. The diamond cannot be removed without crippling Stella permanently.

When Ms. Hen read this, she couldn’t help but wonder about the logistics of having a diamond in her spine. She wiggled her spine around to try to wonder what it would feel like. Of course, nothing like this could really happen. Only in fiction.

GUT SYMMETRIES is reminiscent of AN INVISIBLE SIGN OF MY OWN by Aimee Bender in the way that it is about the obsession with the world of science or math. But GUT SYMMETRIES is a more sophisticated, international version of the story, taking the reader to Nazi Germany, New York City in the forties and fifties, and Liverpool, England.

Ms. Hen liked this novel because it was like reading poetry in the form of prose. Every fiction writer should aspire to write like this because it reads like listening to music. Interspersed are bits of dialogue in the form of a play. Ms. Hen enjoyed this because she likes things that are weird. After all, she is an accessory that writes reviews. If that’s not weird, then Ms. Hen can lay eggs.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Ms. Hen reviews BLUE LIKE JAZZ and mediates on what is it to be human and give bad reviews

Blue Like Jazz 2012

Directed by Steve Taylor

Ms. Hen wanted to like BLUE LIKE JAZZ. It seemed like an independent, cool film about a young person trying to find himself and become a better person. But it wasn’t. It was about a character that didn’t change and went back to being the person he used to be.

BLUE LIKE JAZZ is about Don, who lives in Texas, goes to a junior college, works at a communion cup factory and is an assistant youth pastor at his church. He parents are divorced and his liberal father suggests he transfer to Reed College instead of Trinity Baptist College because Reed College is a decent school where everyone has a genius IQ. Don doesn’t want to go, but he discovers that his mother is having an affair with the youth pastor and drives to Portland, Oregon to Reed College in a rage.

When Don drives to Portland, he magically turned into a rabbit chasing a pretty carrot. This is the only shining moment in the film. Ms. Hen thought the story would turn out to be like DONNIE DARKO, but it didn’t. Ms. Hen kept waiting for the rabbit to come back, she thought maybe it would appear again, but after driving across the country, the rabbit disappeared. Other people dressed in animal costumes dot the film, but they are few and far between, and when they do appear it’s strange, but oddly charming.

Reed College is a liberal bastion; a far cry from Texas, and Don is a fish out of water, a conservative Christian trying to find his way in a college in the Pacific Northwest. He tries to fit in to impress a girl named Penny, who seems like she has a mission to be as radical as possible. Don doesn’t know which end is up. Ms. Hen rooted for him so he would change and become more of an adult.

None of the students at the college who seem hip and trendy are realistic, and are caricatures. Ms. Hen hated the ending of the film when Don changes his mind and go back to his old ways. Ms. Hen wanted him to change, and not be another brainwashed robot.

Ms. Hen didn’t know what she was getting into when she started watching this film. She didn’t know that she was watching a Christian film. But she enjoys not liking things and complaining, so she decided to give reviewing it a go. It’s her first real negative review, but you can’t love everything. It’s part of being human, or being a hen.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Ms. Hen reviews Paul and dreams of eating a croque-monsieur chicken

631 Assembly Row
Somerville, MA 02145

Ms. Hen recently had lunch with one of her chicken friends at Paul, a bakery and caf√© in Somerville, in Assembly Row, a new shopping destination that Ms. Hen has described as Newbury Street  (a trendy, high-rent district) plopped down into the Kmart shopping center. Ms. Hen thinks it’s a strange place, an afterthought that somebody came up with to make the strip mall more appealing.

One of the gems of this afterthought is Paul. Ms. Hen has been there a few times and the ambience is relaxing and the pastries are gorgeous. Ms. Hen’s friend ordered the croque-monsieur turkey and Ms. Hen ordered the croque-monsieur salmon, which both came with a side salad. They ordered chocolate macarons for desert.

Ms. Hen’s chicken friend loved the croque-monsieur turkey. The sandwich had cheese melted on the outside of the bread. Ms. Hen was a little disappointed with her salmon. She thought the salmon was a little fishy and not quite fresh, but the cheese on the bread on the outside was scrumptious. She wished she had gotten the leek quiche she had gotten before, which had the perfect flaky crust, just like they’re made in France.

Ms. Hen wondered why they didn’t have croque-monsieur with chicken, which was introduced by Jacques Pepin when he collaborated with Julia Child. Turkey is not usually a French way of making the sandwich. Ms. Hen thought Paul might have the turkey for the Americans, since Americans love their turkey. Ms. Hen would like a croque-monsieur with chicken. She will make that a lifetime mission of hers: to eat a delicious grilled chicken and cheese sandwich with melted cheese on top.

The place where the bakers make the pastries is open for the customers to see in the store. Ms. Hen didn’t want to be a nosy hen and bother the bakers, but she was curious about how the glorious pastries are made. Paul started in 1889 and it has been family owned since then.

The extra large chocolate macaron was the best pastry Ms. Hen has had since she has come back from France. They’re a little pricy, but worth every penny. Ms. Hen could eat every pastry in the store, but she would become a big fat hen.  She doesn’t want to be stuffed with chocolate, just small amounts will be fine for her, thank you.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Ms. Hen reviews PADDINGTON and meditates on the necessity of charm in film

Directed by Paul King

Ms. Hen does not like family films of today. She used to like Disney when THE LITTLE MERMAID and ALADDIN were stylish, but she has little tolerance for computer animation and silly stories anymore, since she has become a more mature hen. However, she had an urge to see PADDINGTON, because the preview looked so adorable and the film got smashing reviews.

She was not disappointed. PADDINGTON is charming as a film can be. The bears look so real that they resemble kittens that can talk. The story shines with innocence. The Brown family discovers Paddington and gives him his English name. The Browns are complex characters and teach Paddington about the meaning of home.

Nicole Kidman as the villain frightens the audience with her evil doings, but toward the end, we discover there is a reason behind the things she does. Close-ups of her stylish shoes add a touch of glamour to the character.

Ms. Hen does not like the idea of a film considered a family film. She thinks that charming movies about characters that are not crass or rude should have a place in everyone’s life, even people who are not children or who don’t have children. She thinks that the comedies of today that are geared toward adults have no charm in them, and they only go for cheap laughs and are offensive. There is a place for charm everywhere, even in comedies or tragedies or science fiction.

Ms. Hen feels like she might be turning into an old fuddy-duddy hen and is not up to date with today’s sense of humor. Charm goes a long way, especially when you’re a hen and you go to see a film meant for children and you get swept away in the story and you get emotional. She only teared up a little, because hens don’t really cry. (Okay, they do, but don’t tell anyone, okay?)