“Year of the Monkey” (February 8–January 27, 2017)—Anything Can Happen !



Monkey2016Happy New Year –Chinese Style! Although the Chinese New Year 2016 doesn’t officially begin until February 8, many people start thinking of the animal sign on the first of the New Year.  [And much of Asia, including Japan, does not wait until February 8. Many now celebrate during the first two weeks of January.]

As the Year of the Sheep comes to an end and the Year of the Monkey arrives, 2016 will be a year of invention and improvisation, unpredictability and unexpected change. The Year of the Monkey is considered the most volatile in the twelve-year cycle.

The Monkey is considered intelligent, witty, and inventive. The ninth animal in the Chinese zodiac, the Monkey is also believed to be a magnificent problem-solver and independent high achiever. Clever and nimble, monkeys are playful, energetic creatures who move from activity to activity, swinging from branch to branch. Though honored in Buddhist tales, the Monkey is also famous as an irrepressible trickster.

All animals in the Chinese zodiac have a dark side too. The problem-solving in the Year of the Monkey can turn opportunistic and untrustworthy, unscrupulous and devious, capricious and misguided.

Some may gamble, speculate, take unnecessary and highly risky chances but for some there will be ingenious outcomes. Business can thrive in surprising ways under the Monkey’s optimistic and shrewd influence.  Anything can happen. Everything is in flux.

Communication also takes on a humorous, even mischievous and light-hearted side as an antidote to the stressful changes which will occur. Some risks will have astonishing results and unconventional solutions are needed to solve old problems. Daring to be different leads to success but r tremendous effort is also required. Now is the time for bold action; even the wildest ideas may succeed.

Remember this year will reward individualistic and highly original enterprises. A lot of global economic growth due to entrepreneurship can be expected in the Year of the Monkey. Also expect a lot of life changes. The Year of the Monkey 2016 is a good year to break free and take calculated risks as there is nothing more powerful or rewarding than following your instincts, passion and intuition. This is the best year for changing jobs in the next decade! Don’t look back!




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“Carol”—A Salty Portrayal



The Academy-Award nominated film, “Carol”, starring Cate Blanchett in the title role and Rooney Mara as Therese, a department store “shop girl” deals with a lesbian romance set against the closeted and intolerant era of 1950s America. First titled “The Price of Salt” (and retitled “Carol” in 1990) , the novel was controversial when first published in 1952 prompting the author, Patricia Highsmith, to use a pen name. Other books of the time exploring the same subject, tended to have the heroine devolve into suicide or madness, if lesbianism was even hinted at .

Highsmith apparently drew from her own experience to portray that even a very wealthy woman had to stay under the radar. “Carol” ferociously depicts the discrimination and personal torment that lesbian women faced in the fifties. The romance between Carol and Therese is the major plot, as well as the entrapment in a society’s mores that doesn’t allow them to love.

This could easily have been one of the best movies of 2015, but it is not. I liked it but it wasn’t as good as it could have been. The family dysfunction beautifully displayed at Christmas time (symbolic of family and stress) is not balanced. What should have been a torrid love affair implied between Therese and Carol falls flat. The chemistry between the two actresses was glaringly missing.

Tightly controlled and magnetic performances by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara (as well as Kyle Chandler as the offended husband of Carol) are slowed down by director Todd Haynes (of “Far From Heaven”) who seems to focus on visual scenes at the expense of the storytelling. “Carol” expresses not only a story about two generous souls falling in love but also the mindset of a society entrenched in hard-hearted “values”.



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3 comments on ““Carol”—A Salty Portrayal

  1. This movie was nominated? Wow, I had no idea! I love the story, I just felt like something was missing. I was expecting more hatred for the lesbian community. However, the movie description and what actually happened in this film seemed to have left the more obvious disapprovals out. Then again, the movie really only focused on a handful of characters.

  2. I thought CAROL definitely should’ve made it to the top ten The Academy Awards nomination list, they picked only eight. Consider it 9th on my list for the cinema-photography alone. Much of the hidden love/lust sequences are seen behind windows spotted with raindrops (tears). The story was compelling though unbelievable, even for a married-with-angry-confused rich husband. Carol decided to ‘run away,’ why was it west in the winter only as far as Iowa or Ohio? Midwest characterizations notwithstanding, the struggle between love for one’s child, and love as an adult in 1952 are felt deeply. I’ve ordered the book … stay tuned, but GO! I found it much better than way too s-l-o-w Brooklyn which did make it to the list.

  3. Diana, I am so excited that I’ve discovered both of your websites as I was researching how to set up a website, and as a sister SheWrites author soon to be. I bought Things Unsaid to read and give to a friend who is suffering from the same dilemmas of parents, once rich, who have left things in a terrible mess for their children to have to pick up, including having to support them. I also saw the movie, Short Term 12, which I loved, that you reviewed in a recent post. I also appreciate your art and am fascinated by your immersion in Buddhism, and look forward to reading one of your books on women and Buddhism. I feel that I’ve walked into a world of treasures simply by finding your website! Thank you! MJ

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“Short Term 12” —Fostering Care



Short Term 12

In this 2013 film debut by Destin Cretton, we see Grace (Brie Larson) as a counselor in a group home for “at-risk” youth,–Short Term 12— a facility for “transitioning” out adolescents into the world. Grace is a beautiful, extremely vulnerable case worker who relates to everyone in the Short Term 12 residence. She struggles in a precarious balancing act between being a surrogate parent/friend/disciplinarian on the one hand and being a “professional” without emotional attachment to the young residents. We do not know Grace’s secret, but as viewers, we know she has personal demons.

Short Term 12c

Mason (poignantly played by John Gallagher, Jr. from television’s “Newsroom”) is a fellow counselor and product of the foster care system himself. Passionately in love with Grace, he eventually peels away at Grace’s defenses. Jayden, a young newcomer to Short Term 12, who has suffered and has also built almost insurmountable defenses to protect herself, is assigned to Short Term 12. Grace, who involuntarily identifies with Jaden, slowly chips away at the emotional distance between them as as Mason does with Grace. The major plot is now set.

Marcus, one of the oldest residents at Short Term 12, is about to be emancipated, but dreads life outside the group home. Talented and well-liked, Marcus is –as are all the young wards of the state—deeply wounded, dumped there as garbage by family members. The overriding theme in “Short Term 12” is the damage that dysfunctional families inflict on teenagers, jeopardizing their chances for future stability.

A riveting bird’s-eye view of a group home for troubled teenagers, “Short Term 12” has the feel of a documentary, a series of scenes of adolescents both lost and scrambling to make sense of the world they’ve been thrown out of and then back into. Larson gives a luminous breakthrough performance that foreshadows her next major role in “Room”, for which she has been nominated this year for Best Actress by the Academy Awards. (She won this year’s Golden Globe in that category). Just as Jennifer Lawrence astounded in her breakthrough role in “A Winter’s Bone”, this young actress will undoubtedly also amaze us in future films.

Lending subtlety and layers to a very flawed character, Brie Larson evokes, for the viewer, both sympathy and frustration with her choices. If the editing and tightening of the narrative had been more accomplished, I would consider “Short Term 12” a masterpiece. However, filmed in only 20 days by a newly-minted film graduate, it nonetheless is an engrossing study of young adolescents and adults who deserve much more from society and family. A wonderful human drama.

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3 comments on ““Short Term 12” —Fostering Care

  1. Sounds like a good ‘see.’ But we’ve lost our OSIO. Do read Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS a lovely novel 51 weeks on NY Times BestSeller lists that shows the inside and aftermath of one foster child. She’s our resident ‘famous author’ in Monterey Count and she co-founded Camellia Network, a non-profit whose mission is to connect every youth aging out of foster care to the critical resources, opportunities, and support they need to thrive in adulthood.

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