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Movie: The Hunger Games (2012)

The World Will Be Watching 

The Hunger Games (2012) is a dystopian sci-fi action-drama movie based on the novel of the same name by Suzanne Collins. 

Synopsis: In a not-too-distant future, North America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcast throughout Panem. The 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss' young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives. [by Suzanne Collins]

I haven't read the books but I'm pretty impressed with this young-adult fiction movie genre. Jennifer Lawrence is perfect as Katniss Everdeen. Katniss is a lethal character because she needs to survive and stay alive. At the same time, she has a heart of gold and she refuses to kill other participants (known as "tributes") unless she's threatened. Jennifer Lawrence portrays the character perfectly. P.S.: Kristen Stewart, for Bella's sake, you should learn from Jennifer Lawrence.

The other young actors also give convincing performance, in particular Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark, Katniss' fellow tribute from District 12.

The older cast is brilliant too, in particular:

  • Woody Harrelson as Haymitch (Katniss' & Peeta's mentor)
  • Elizabeth Banks as Effie (the eccentric Capitol escort who reminds me of the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland)
  • Lenny Kravitz as Cinna (Katniss & Peeta's stylist)
  • Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman (the Capitol host of the 74th Hunger Games)
  • Donald Sutherland as President Snow (the mastermind of the Hunger Games)
  • Wes Bentley as Seneca (Head Gamemaker for the 74th Hunger Games)

Here are some pretty good remarks from movie critics:

  • Move over Harry Potter. A darker, more mature franchise has come to claim your throne.
  • Darker than 'Harry Potter,' more sophisticated than 'Twilight'.
  • Grounded, thoughtful and sometimes quite emotional, with its dark scenario given due weight. The movie doesn't have a glossy, romanticized 'Hollywood' feel, but rather plays everything very realistically and stark, as Katniss must endure these outrageous and horrible scenarios. 
[via] 

This is definitely not a movie for the faint-hearted. It's dark, emotional, sad, and with only a few snippets of glamorous moments. There are so many elements that reminds me of the Auschwitz concentration camp (scenes of "reaping" session, i.e. the random drawing of names), the Olympic Games (scenes of training undergone by the "tributes"), and American Idol (scenes of the "tributes" on stage). The most gruesome and heartbreaking scenes are the kill-or-survive scenes in the jungle.

Lastly, the sentence that send shivers down your spine:
- Happy Hunger Games! May the odds be ever in your favor.

I highly recommend this movie if you hate Twilight but still have faith in young-adult fiction movies. :)


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Wanna become Super?

Source

I really like this list of How to Become Super. :D

Vol. I

Spider Bite
Born a Mutant
Gain Vast Intellect
Find Mjolnir
Parents' Death
Gamma Radiation
Build Metal Suit
Learn Magic
Lab Disaster
Cosmic Rays
Wear Alien Symbiote
Government Testing


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Vol. II

Rule Small Country
Part Vampire
Fall into Chemicals
Being Blind
Deal with Devil
Master Various Weapons
Find Magic Ring
Born Underwater
Die and Return
Crash from Space
Break 4th Wall
Work for Planet Eater

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Project: Reflect 52 #12 - Every household should have a tablet


This is David's new baby, the ViewSonic ViewPad 10s 10.1" Android 3.2 Tablet.

Yay! I strongly believe that every household should have a tablet. :P


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Movie: Drive (2011)

There are no clean getaways 

Drive (2011) is a crime thriller romance movie. According to reviews, this movie receives a standing ovation during the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. 

Synopsis: A mysterious young man, codenamed "Driver" (Ryan Gosling) works as a garage mechanic and stunt driver by day and a getaway driver for local thugs at night. He falls in love with his neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan), a single mother whose husband is in prison. Meanwhile, his garage mechanic boss Shannon (Bryan Cranston) is trying to set up a race team by using money from local mobsters Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) and Nino (Ron Perlman) and getting "Driver" to be the team's racer.

"Driver" finds himself in serious trouble after agreeing to drive for Irene's newly paroled husband Standard (Oscar Isaac). Standard is double-crossed and murdered in a heist in which "Driver" is also involved. Seeking to make things right, "Driver" embarks on a mission to protect Irene and her son from the murderous mobsters who seek to harm her to get at him.

Below is the excerpt from an excellent review that pretty much summarizes why this movie receives a standing ovation.

[Source] 


It's a well-worn plot line which in the hands of someone less adept than Refn would likely be nothing more than a forgettable thriller, yet the massively talented director, who picked up the Best Director prize at Cannes this year for Drive, crafts an engaging and thrilling throwback film elevated by masterful performances across the board.

The technical achievements of Drive are more than matched by the acting of the entire cast, and Refn shrewdly selects a wide variety of performers to populate the story. Top notch support comes from Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, the ever dependable Ron Perlman, and particularly Brooks, who jettisons his familiar comedic persona in a truly frightening and villainous performance, which will surely be on the radar of voters come awards season. Mulligan shows characteristic heart in a largely overlooked role, yet the film unquestionably belongs to Gosling. 

Often heralded as one of the finest actors of his generation, in Drive Gosling delivers his best work yet as the driver; a quiet role that is all the more effective due to the subtlety of the performance. He displays an ability to ratchet up the tension using just the slightest widening of his eyes and tensing of his jawline, and when the character is pushed to act more forcefully, Gosling transitions from almost silent observer to brutal aggressor so swiftly that it leaves one breathless. It's work that he makes look easy, yet it's the most focused performance seen in an action film in quite some time. 

There's something undeniably retro about Drive, with its neon opening titles and 80s infused soundtrack, but the film seems remarkably fresh. Smart action film-making is so hard to come by these days, so Drive delivers refreshing variety, beginning the time of year when the so-called prestige pictures are released with a bang."

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Movie: John Carter (2012)

Lost in Our World. Found in Another.

John Carter (2012) is a sci-fi movie about John Carter and his interplanetary adventure based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom series of novels.

Synopsis: War-weary and former military captain John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) is inexplicably transported to the mysterious and exotic planet of Barsoom (Mars). He is reluctantly embroiled in a conflict amongst the inhabitants of the planet, including Green Martian Tharks led by Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe), Red Martian Zodanga led by Sab Than (Dominic West), Red Martian Helium's captivating Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins), and White Martian Thern led by Matai Shang (Mark Strong). In a world on the brink of collapse, Carter rediscovers his humanity when he realizes that the survival of Barsoom and its people rests in his hands.

I think I'm watching a Star Wars-like movie with some elements from Avatar and a bit of Airbender. But then again, the novels were written in 1912-1943 and that was almost 100 years ago. So, I guess it's fairer to say successful movies such as Star Wars and Avatar are inspired by these novels. Unfortunately, since John Carter comes out later, we tend to assume it "borrows" elements from Star Wars and Avatar.

The storyline can be a bit confusing and overwhelming for people like us who haven't read any of the novels. However, if you like fantasy sci-fi movies, this movie would really give you the sense of enjoyment and entertainment that you like. Putting aside forced chemistry between Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins, you might find the rest of the story engaging and entertaining. The visual effects are pretty impressive too.

Go watch if you haven't done so!


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When we talk...

When I was doing some housekeeping last weekend, I found some cute fluffy bears given by my gal friends a few years back.

Me (touching the bears): These are the onnnlllyyy (stressing the word only) bears I have gotten as presents in my entire life.

Fiance: Oh, you want bears meh?

Me (pondering for a second): Well, I'm not a typical girl. That's why I never get typical presents from you lor.

Fiance: More likely because I'm not an unimaginative guy so that's why you don't get unimaginative presents.

Me: *shut up*

XD


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Movie: Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)

Experience a New Dimension of Evil 

Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010) is the fourth movie of the Resident Evil movie series. I have watched the second and third movie, i.e., Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004) and Resident Evil: Extinction (2007). 

Synopsis: Alice (Milla Jovovich) and her clones intruded Umbrella Corporation's base in Tokyo, Japan to kill Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts). Wesker is seemingly killed and Alice heads off to Arcadia in Alaska where she hopes to find other survivors. She meets Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) who doesn't seem to recognize her or remember anything at all.

They head to Los Angeles where they meet fellow survivors Luther West (Boris Kodjoe), Claire's brother Chris (Wentworth Miller), and some others. They need to battle their way through throngs of the Undead in order to get to Arcadia, which happens to be a ship and they are about to step into a deadly trap.

I've been waiting forever to watch this movie after I missed it at the cinema. However, sad to say I find it to be the weakest Resident Evil movie in the series. No doubt there are fantastic visual effects and crisp, engaging
action choreography; but they don't do much to mask the fact that this movie is too mediocre.

The second movie (Apocalypse) was very good; the third (Extinction) was not as good; but this one (Afterlife) is disappointing! The good thing is, Milla Jovovich is still a limelight stealer but the rest of the cast seems to be not doing their role well enough as supporting cast.

Anyway, Retribution, the fifth movie in the series is coming out soon and we can only hope that director Paul Anderson won't disappoint us this time. :)


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Project: Reflect 52 #11 - My world is about to 'end' soon

 
In April, after the papers are signed, we will be 'legalized'. In June, after the ceremony and reception are done, we will be staying under one roof.

So now, his current house looks like a giant dumpster. Things are being packed into boxes and bags and they will be moved to the new house soon. Useless stuff are thrown away and unwanted items will be donated.

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The following paragraphs contain disjointed thoughts because I feel like writing a journal entry with pieces of thoughts here and there.
Events are speeding up as the big day draws near. Mixed feelings: both excitement and nervousness. Tonnes of things to be done: the legals, the house, finer details of our wedding preparation, wallet-bleeding expenses, etc. Gah!

He said his world is about to 'end' soon. Come to think of it, my world will face the same 'predicament' too. The optimists say, marriage is a brand new beginning. The pessimists say, marriage is love's tomb. Our singlehood is ending soon and what lies ahead are bigger responsibilities to be shouldered... together. Be it heaven or hell, just bring it on!

Seriously, those who are planning to get married, make sure you are mentally prepared for much stress and anxiety because there really are a lot of things to be sorted out and to be done. It's no joke.

******************************


Need a break, but no Kit-Kat. I'm on diet until the wedding's over. I can't take a lot of carbs and sugary food.

Oh Lord, I'm running around like a helpless chicken again. Please guide me.


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Five Colors High Energy Lei Cha from BMS Organics @ Damansara Uptown

Five Colors High Energy Lei Cha 

BMS Organics has this concept called LOHAS. The word stands for "Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability" which means living a lifestyle that is healthy and environmentally friendly. The term has been cleverly translated to "Le Huo" in Chinese which means living happily. 

For LOHAS Lei Cha, they use raw vegetables (chopped cucumber, carrot, long beans, purple cabbage, radish, leafy greens, black sesame seeds, and organic cashew nuts. Normal lei cha is usually served with chopped cooked leafy vegetables, fried tofu, and roasted peanuts.

Also, at BMS Organics, you will be served with a complimentary bowl of soup and two spirulina tablets before your order arrives. Interesting, right? 

Find out more about LOHAS food on their website: http://www.bmsorganics.com/


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Movie: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010) is a sequel to the 1987 movie, Wall Street. Michael Douglas reprises his role as Gordon Gekko.

Synopsis: It's the year 2008, the dawn of the financial crisis. Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) has just been released from prison after serving eight years for insider trading and securities fraud. His estranged daughter Winnie (Carey Mulligan) is engaged to a young proprietary trader, Jacob "Jake" Moore (Shia LaBeouf) who works at Keller Zabel Investments (KZI) owned by Louis Zabel (Frank Langella). Zabel is also Jacob's mentor and close friend.

After Zabel committed suicide, Jacob plots revenge against Bretton James (Josh Brolin) who's suspected of being responsible for Zabel's death. He meets up with Gekko and they team up whereby Jake will get information to bring down James and Gekko will be reconciled with his daughter.

This is not a meaningless popcorn movie. This movie focuses heavily on the multidimensional relationship of its characters, i.e. between Jacob & Zabel, Jacob & Gekko, Jacob & Winnie, and Winnie & Gekko. At times, this movie drags on with conversations full of financial jargon that could be potentially confusing. However, I find them educational and interesting.

The cast's performance is very good. The older actors, i.e. Michael Douglas, Frank Langella, and even the 96-year old Eli Wallach are like gems in the movie. Their "oldness" is delicately balanced by young and fiery Shia LaBeouf and Carey Mulligan as well as Josh Broslin who plays the main villain in this movie, sort of like Gekko during his younger days.

A moment of realization: No matter what age group you are in, you will experience the financial crisis once or more in your life. Scary, right? Better start practicing smart financial planning. You never know when the bubble will burst. Please don't end up on the train tracks or in front of a tall building, splattered. 


Here are two very interesting quotes by Gordon Gekko:
"The mother of all evil is speculation."
"Stop telling lies about me and I'll stop telling the truth about you."

Very true indeed. Be it business or interpersonal, relationships crumble when there are negative speculations and lies. Who knows? Maybe some "truth" out there are lies; and some "lies" out there are actually the truth.

If you long to watch a thought-provoking movie, this one is definitely for you.


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Some fit-tastic workout tips

Update: I found this very useful website: Exercise Finder. You can find exercises by selecting the body parts you wish to work on.

Source

15-minute total-body workout

Do these moves one after another with no rest in between. Repeat the circuit a total of three times, resting one minute between each circuit.

1. Squat: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells at your sides. Squat down as if you're sitting into a chair until your thighs are nearly parallel to the floor, keeping your knees from jutting past your toes. Slowly return to the starting position. Do 12 to 15 reps.

2. Chest press: Lie back on an exercise bench and hold the dumbbells over your chest at arm's length. Your palms should be turned slightly inward. Lower your arms until the weights are even with your chest. Press back to the starting position. Do 12 to 15 reps.

3. Bent-over row: Holding a pair of dumbbells, slightly bend your knees and bend forward until your torso is nearly parallel to the floor, your arms hanging down, palms facing back. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull the dumbbells to your chest. Lower back to start. Do 12 to 15 reps.

4. Bicycle: Lie on your back, knees bent 90 degrees and legs lifted so calves are parallel to the floor. With your hands behind your head, lift your right shoulder off the floor and curl toward your left knee as you extend your right leg. Then curl toward your right knee as you bend it
and extend your left leg. Imagine leading with your shoulder, not your elbow. Don't pull up on your head; make your abs do the work. Alternate this way for 12 to 15 reps per side.


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Body-weight challenge

Perform the following four moves as a circuit: Do one for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and then move on to the next. Repeat twice. To increase difficulty, do the exercises for 30 seconds but keep the resting time the same. This finisher will take about five minutes.

1. Speed squat: With feet hip-width apart, bend your knees to 90 degrees, keeping your chest upright. Return to standing as quickly as possible.

2. Squat thrust: With your feet hip-width apart, bend your knees to place your hands on the ground and jump your feet back into a pushup position. Quickly reverse to return to standing.

3. Mountain climber: From a pushup position, quickly bring alternating knees toward your chest.


4. Speed skip: Skip in place, quickly bringing alternating knees up toward your chest.

Source

Four-corner Farmer's Walk

Place two cones 10 yards apart. Holding a pair of heavy dumbbells, do one to three sets of the following sequence. Rest two to four minutes between sets.

1. Standing at one cone, do eight to 10 bent-over rows: Hold a pair of dumbbells and bend forward, arms hanging straight. Pull the weights to the sides of your chest.

2. Walk to the other cone and do eight to 10 biceps curls: Hold weights by your sides, palms facing forward, and slowly raise them to your shoulders.

3. Walk back to the first cone and do eight to 10 squats: Hold weights at shoulders and bend your knees to 90 degrees, keeping your chest upright.

4. Return to the second cone and do eight to 10 overhead presses: With weights at shoulders, bend your knees slightly then push the weights directly overhead. Walk back to start.


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Movie: Tower Heist (2011)

Ordinary guys. An extraordinary robbery.

Tower Heist (2011) is a crime comedy movie.

Synopsis: Many employees of The Tower, a luxury apartment complex fall victim to the Ponzi scheme of a wealthy businessman Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) and lost their hard-earned money. Among them are building manager Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller), building concierge Charlie Gibbs (Casey Affleck), and new employee Enrique Dev'reaux (Michael Peña). Wanting to get back their money and for the rest of the employees, they form a group with a crook named Slide (Eddie Murphy), bankrupt businessman Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick), and another employee, Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe). Their plan is to break into Shaw's apartment to steal his money while avoiding FBI agent Claire Denham (Téa Leoni).

I like this comment by movie critics: This isn't a great heist movie for a lot of reasons, beginning with the stupidity of its heist plan and the impossibility of these characters ever being successful at anything more complex than standing in line. However, the comedy did not go heavy on the excremental, the masturbatory and symphonies of four-letter words, and it's funny in an innocent screwball kind of way.

I have to agree that the heist plan is really absurd and impossible. But anything can happen in a movie, right? Just sit back and enjoy watching Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy's hardcore comedic performances that you make you laugh all the way. 


So yeah, this movie is innocently funny in a screwball kind of way. The tagline says it all: Ordinary guys. An extraordinary robbery.

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Project: Reflect 52 #10 - Online scrapbooking

 
I found the reason why I fall in love with Pinterest.

In case you don't know what is Pinterest, here's a simple explanation: Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

Here's my Pinterest: pinterest.com/joycescapade

Okay, let me tell you why I love Pinterest.

I was in Bintulu last weekend. One of the things I did was to dig out memorabilia from my teenage years
. Voila! I found three huge scrapbooks full of pictures of all sorts, mostly arts & crafts, DIYs, recipes, bags, clothes, shoes, hairstyle, and anything a girl loves under the sun.

No wonder I'm so in love with Pinterest. To me, Pinteresting is like online scrapbooking. 20 years ago, when there was no Internet, I loved "pinning" beautiful pictures onto scrapbooks. Today, I love "pinning" beautiful pictures onto my online scrapbook.

Life is indeed good. :P


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Many Bloody Returns: Tales of Birthdays with Bite

 
"Many Bloody Returns: Tales of Birthdays with Bite" edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelmer.

Foreword:

You're invited to a celebration of vampires by a baker's dozen of favorite authors. Sink your teeth into thirteen all-new, never-before-published stories, each one a fresh and unique take on the concept of what birthdays mean to the undead.


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Unfortunate scratches

 
Date: 5 March 2012, Monday
Time: Between 8:15 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Venue: Most likely at the open car park beside HSBC at Damansara Uptown

Damage: LEFT rear bumper has multiple scratch lines caused by an inconsiderate or perhaps stupid driver.

 

******************************


Two months ago:

 
Date: 20 January 2012, Friday
Time: Between 8:15 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Venue: Most likely at the open car park beside HSBC at Damansara Uptown

Damage: RIGHT rear bumper has multiple scratch lines caused by an inconsiderate or perhaps stupid driver.

 

******************************


It's not my fault. I didn't do anything wrong to deserve such unfortunate treatment. :( 


Should I repaint the entire bumper?


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Movie: The Devil Inside (2012)

No soul is safe. 

The Devil Inside (2012) is a documentary-style found footage movie about demon possession and exorcism. 

Synopsis: In 1989, emergency responders received a 911 call from Maria Rossi (Suzan Crowley) confessing that she had brutally killed three people. 20 years later, her daughter Isabella (Fernanda Andrade) seeks to understand the truth about what happened that night. She travels to the Centrino Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Italy where her mother has been locked away to determine if her mother is mentally ill or demonically possessed. When she recruits two young exorcists, Ben (Simon Quarterman) and David (Evan Helmuth), to cure her mother using unconventional methods combining both science and religion, they come face-to-face with pure evil in the form of four powerful demons possessing Maria. Many have been possessed by one; only one has been possessed by many. (Paramount Pictures)

Exorcism movies are sometimes overrated. You can expect the expected - contorted body postures, victim speaking in weird languages, victim acting and cursing violently, victim crawling like a spider on the wall, and stuff like that. In the end, everyone dies or something towards that extent.

The unsettling scenes are always the ones with exorcism in progress because the actors / actresses who act as demon-possessed victims always give good performances. I have no idea how do they manage to contort their body and limbs like a rag doll.

If you're craving for some exorcism moments, you might want to catch this movie soon.
 


On a side note, if you're interested to find out more about Film Production classes, you might find useful information on this website: Film Production Schools.

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Project: Reflect 52 #9 - Le planning freak

 
Yes, I'm a planning freak, but not a control freak. The two are different you see. I can plan things ahead but I can't control what's gonna happen two weeks down the road, can I?

So, I come out with many plans, i.e. the main plan, the alternative plans, the back-up plans. As long as I don't have to grope in darkness and wait in agony, I'd rather spend much time doing planning, even if most details will change sooner or later. Planning, no matter how absurdly early it is, gives me some sort of emotional stability, something I can cling to when things do go awry. Well, perhaps I should insert God somewhere along this line.

Okay, the above is all about ME. But to make a relationship or partnership works, we need the WE.

So, what we have done so far with our DIY wedding planning is to keep a record of all our wedding-related expenses, i.e. my wedding gown, wedding favors, wedding reception venue's booking fee, and many other expenses. I keep bills, receipts, and credit card printouts in a little red scrapbook with oriental design on its cover.

Also, it's now 13 more weeks to our big day. So, I have a 2012 diary with weekly view in which I keep tab of our weekly accomplishments. The diary is a thoughtful 2011 Christmas gift from Riyuna. Thanks babe!

******************************

Let's say a prayer:

Our Father,
Who art in heaven,
hallowed be Thy name;
Thy kingdom come;
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Amen.


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For One More Day by Mitch Albom

 
"For One More Day" by Mitch Albom.

Synopsis:
 

As a child, Charley Benetto is told by his father, "You can be a mama's boy or you can be a daddy's boy, but you can't be both." So he chooses his father, and he worships him - right up to the day the man disappears. An eleven-year-old Charley must then turn to his mother, who bravely raises him on her own, despite Charley's embarrassment and yearnings for a complete family. 

Decades later, Charley is a broken man. His life has been crumbled by alcohol and regret. He loses his job. He leaves his family. He hits bottom after discovering his only daughter has shut him out of her wedding.

And he decides to take his own life. 

He makes a midnight ride to his small hometown, with plans to do himself in. But upon failing even to do that, he staggers back to his old house, only to make an astonishing discovery. His mother - who died eight years earlier - is still living there, and welcomes him home as if nothing had ever happened. 

What follows is the one "ordinary" day so many of us yearn for, a chance to make good with a lost parent, to explain family secrets, and to seek forgiveness. Somewhere between this life and the next, Charley learns the things he never knew about his mother and her sacrifices. And he tries, with her tender guidance, to put the crumbled pieces of his life back together.

******************************

Here's a very lovely quote that represents the entire story:


"Have you ever lost someone you love and wanted one more conversation, one more chance to make up for the time when you thought they would be here forever? If so, then you know you can go your whole life collecting days, and none will outweigh the one you wish you had back? What if you got it back?"
 

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Another novels by Mitch Albom that I have read:


Tuesdays with Morrie
 
Have A Little Faith


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