These Are a Few of My Favorite Things*

Favorite ThingsFair Warning: If you came here for one of my usual crime fiction blog posts, my apologies. This is going to be just a little different. Do come back tomorrow, though, for your regularly scheduled crime fiction post.

Still here? Thanks!

I don’t normally do this sort of post, but Tommy and Tuppence, the feline overlords who are ably served by FictionFan, have tagged me for the Six Questions Tag. And honestly, I’m a bit afraid to do anything counter to their wishes. So… here goes.

 

One Beauty Product You Would Recommend to Your Girlfriends

OK, ready, ladies? Listen closely, because I’m only going to say this once. Smile. That’s right. Smile. Your own smile is your most potent beauty product, guaranteed to work every time. Smiles are welcoming and friendly, and they put people at their ease.

How do I know? I conducted intensive research with the assistance of my husband, who was happy to share what he thinks is beautiful in women an expert. So you don’t have to just take my word for it. This comes from real authority!

 

Three Books Everyone Must Read

This was really difficult for me, because I don’t very much like to be prescriptive about what adults should read. Besides, there are so many excellent books out there, from all over the world. But here are a few of my ideas.

At least one or two of Shakespeare’s plays

These stories have it all. Sex, money and greed, family dysfunction, murder, war, wit, sly political statements, you name it. So there’s something about the human condition to capture nearly any reader’s attention. More to the point, Shakespeare’s work has become such an integral part of Western culture that you really need to have a sense of it in order to have a sense of Western culture. If it’s been a while since you read some of Shakespeare’s work, there’s no harm in re-reading.

Stranger in a Strange Land – Robert A. Heinlein

You may not think you like science fiction (actually, it’s not my genre, as a rule – it really isn’t). But this novel is (at least for me) a lot more than a sci-fi story. It’s a look at the way we think, at an outsider’s perception of humans, and what it’s like to re-think everything. As Heinlein himself said: ‘each reader gets something different out of that book because he himself supplies the answers . . . . It is an invitation to think — not to believe.’  

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd – Agatha Christie

I admit, I have a very soft spot for Agatha Christie. But this particular novel really did have a profound impact on the crime fiction genre. And although plenty of people don’t regard it as Christie’s very best, it does show her skill at leading readers up the proverbial garden path.

As I look over this list, I see just how limited it really is. There are dozens of other novels from other places that I think everyone ought to read. But there could never be room in just one post for all of them.

 

Favourite Online Shopping Site

We may not like them, but Amazon has the whole online shopping experience sewn up. I can’t say I’m overly proud of this, but it is a really convenient way to shop…

 

Favourite ‘Phone App

What do I like best? My ‘phone’s camera. If you’re kind enough to read my blog on anything like a regular basis, you’ll know that I always include a picture with each post. Most of them are taken with my ‘phone. I wouldn’t be without it.

 

One Dish You Are Really Good at Making and its Recipe

Let me start by saying that it’s hard to be a gourmet chef if you are a writer with a ‘day job.’ Most of the time, you’re happy to find recipes that basically cook themselves. I see you nodding your heads, fellow writers.

And that’s the beauty of this particular recipe, which my family members well-qualified culinary experts have heartily endorsed. Sorry, vegetarian friends, this one’s a meat dish.

Chicken and Rice

5-6 chicken thighs (kosher or free-range is best). I’ve found that six serves four adults.
2 cups rice (organic rice, if that’s your preference)
4 cups water
1 package dry onion/mushroom soup mix

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F

Place chicken in a 13 x 9 x 2-inch/33 x 23 x 5 cm pan. Add in the rice and water. Stir once. Then sprinkle about half the soup mix on the chicken. Stir the other half in with the rice and water. Cover tightly with a lid or with aluminum foil.

Put in the oven and completely ignore for the next two hours.

When the kitchen alarm goes off, stop writing, get up and take the dish out of the oven. Serve to hungry family members.

See? It’s really easy.

 

Five Movies that I Can Watch Over and Over Again

Shadow of a Doubt – Alfred Hitchcock

I admit to being a fan of Hitchcock’s work. This happens to be one of my tops. There’s a real buildup of (non-gory!) suspense as a young woman begins to suspect that her uncle is not all he seems to be. Even though I know the ending, I can still watch it any time.

The Big Chill Lawrence Kasdan

This is a terrific story of a group of former college friends who get together when one of their number dies. It’s so much better than that description, though. There’s wit, deep friendship, a really interesting storyline, and some terrific dialogue. And William Hurt. If you’ve ever had a group of friends you could rely on, even at two in the morning, this film will resonate.

The Sting – George Roy Hill

What a great film about likeable grifters. Every time I see that film, I see something else in it that I didn’t notice before. May I particularly call your attention to the terrific train scene. Just sayin’…

The Godfather – Francis Ford Coppola

Need I say more? It’s a game-changing film based on an excellent novel. And, incidentally, it’s one of the very few films that inspired a really good sequel. This one shows Al Pacino doing some of his best. Work. Ever.

The GraduateMike Nichols

Oh, come on! A young Dustin Hoffman in that sports car? That Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack? That anti-suburbia Establishment message? It’s a classic. And did I mention Dustin Hoffman?

Honourable Mentions

Hey, it’s my blog 😉 – Here are a few other films I absolutely love:

Raiders of the Lost Ark – Steven Spielberg

The Rocky Horror Picture Show – Jim Sharman

Rear Window – Alfred Hitchcock

Gone, Baby, Gone – Ben Affleck

 

So there you have it. Now, please go check out FictionFan’s responses. And please, FictionFan, let Tommy and Tuppence know I’ve obeyed them…

 

 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s My Favorite Things.

40 Comments

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40 responses to “These Are a Few of My Favorite Things*

  1. Totally with you on the smile Margot and it doesn’t take any time at all to apply – love your answers and the number of experts you have to endorse you 😉

  2. Col

    A choice of only 3 books and 5 films is very tough…

  3. Very good point about the smile, Margot, and so true. I am going to try your chicken and rice recipe. It sounds great. My favorite movie of the ones you picked is The Sting.

    • I really love The Sting, Tracy – such a great film, isn’t it? I hope you’ll enjoy the chicken and rice and that it works for you; I like how little ‘babysitting’ it needs. 🙂

  4. I absolutely adored this post, Margot. Not only do I agree with everything you said, but you had me LOLing. The only thing missing was a tongue sticking out the emoticon’s mouth after “It’s my blog.” Hilarious!

  5. What a delightful and funny post! And I do like your film choices – and of COURSE Shakespeare!!! Despite the terrible, terrible limitations you were subjected to…

    • Thanks, Marina Sofia 🙂 – And you’re right; it was so, so hard to choose just three books and five films. That was probably the hardest. But even with that, I couldn’t forget Shakespeare…

  6. Lots of agreement here!

  7. Great choices, Margot, and I like memes when they don’t pop up all the time in your blog 🙂

  8. Haha! Tommy and Tuppence are most pleased that you have submitted to their will! (Which I’m pleased about, too, since it gets me in their good books, for once… 😉 )

    Yes, smiling is good and, unlike a lot of cosmetics, not overpriced! Great choice of books – Shakespeare and Roger Ackroyd being well up there on my own list, and I think I read the Heinlein many years ago, but may have to re-read sometime. Like you, I’m not really into telling people what they ‘must read’ though. Taste is so subjective. Love your films – especially Shadow of a Doubt, Rocky Horror and Rear Window… oh, and did I forget to mention Dustin Hoffman?

    • 😆 I’m always happy to help ensure that you stay in your masters’ good graces, Fiction Fan.

      As to smiling, it is easily available at the right price, isn’t it? And it works every time.

      I agree it’s a little awkward to tell adults what they ‘should’ read. But really, you can’t go wrong with a bit of knowledge of Shakespeare. And Agatha Christie…

      Glad, too, to see that we have similar tastes in films. But seriously, we are talking about Dustin Hoffman… 😉

  9. I think you and I have a lot of the same tastes! Love seeing Agatha Christie and Hitchcock on your list. And the chicken recipe sounds right up my family’s alley. 🙂

  10. Great choices there Margot, not arguing with any of your books (minus the Heinlein, still not read it) and the films are all great – and I’ll have to try that recipe soon too 🙂

    • Thank you very much, Sergio 🙂 – That means a lot to me coming from a film and book expert such as yourself. I do recommend the Heinlein if you get a chance. And if you try the recipe, I hope you’ll enjoy it.

  11. Oh so good of you to share. I agree with your complete list. I would like to take this opportunity to make you terribly jealous – there is an Agatha Christie exhibit here in Montreal. It surrounds her travels with her husband to middle eastern countries. I have time yet because it is open until April. Hope I get a chance to go (for you of course) 🙂

  12. What a great quote Margot – so true:”Heinlein himself said: ‘each reader gets something different out of that book because he himself supplies the answers . . . . It is an invitation to think — not to believe. “

  13. Kathy D.

    Great meme and interesting answers. I agree with several of the favorite films. As a bit of family trivia, thought I’d mention that my devilish Irish great-uncle George was actually in the real sting upon which the movie was based. He was the person who wrote the racing scores on the chalk board.
    Yup, this was a real criminal caper. He was also a bootlegger during Prohibition. That is one skeleton in my family’s closet. He was a sweet, charming guy who grieved terribly when his spouse of decades died.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Kathy. And I didn’t know you had such a close connection with The Sting – fascinating! I’ll bet your great-uncle had a lot of great stories to tell. And it’s good to hear he was also a charming person; somehow, it’s nice to hear that the film captured that truthfully.

  14. Great post, Margot! I liked your choices and I will be trying out your Chicken and Rice recipe as I love eating both.

  15. I love The Big Chill, too. I think I’m about due for a re-watch!

  16. Kathy D.

    Also, to add to this great list, I would add “Notorious,” “Casablanca,” “Key Largo,” and “The Lady Vanishes.” I could watch all of them many times over.
    Also, I saw Christie’s “Cards on the Table,” with the real Hercule Poirot, David Suchet and the unforgettable Zoe Wanamaker as Ariadne Oliver. Such fun.

  17. A beautiful smile and chicken and rice, what more could you want?

  18. Great lists, a lot of shared tastes here, and must try that recipe…

  19. Keishon

    Loved your answer about smiling being your best beauty product 🙂

    I’ve never seen the Ben Affleck adaptation of Gone Baby Gone but seeing it on your list says I need to give it a shot.

    • Thank you, Keishon 🙂 – I’d be interested in what you think of that film version if you do see it. I thought it was done quite well, but your mileage may vary.

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