Sunday, December 28, 2014

Steampunk Granny's Review of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes


This post is reprinted from my article in Go Jane News

Planet of the Apes: Then

If you’re my age, you’ve probably seen the original 1968 film, Planet of the Apes, starring Charlton Heston as Georg Taylor, the American astronaut who with his crew crash landed on a strange planet after spending thousands of years in hibernation. The film which is based on Pierre Boulle’s 1963 novel, La Planete des Singes, introduced moviegoers to intelligent gorillas and speechless, animalistic humans.


The film’s ending, along with Taylor’s shocking realization of his true location, is seared forever in my mind and I became an instant fan. Unfortunately, I found most of the sequels to Planet of the Apes a big disappointment, but at the time I wasn’t sure why. It was only after watching the 2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes and this year’s blockbuster, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes that I understood what was missing from the earlier films.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Now

To give my thoughts on The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, I do need to mention the 2011 film The Rise of the Planet of the Apes which was directed by Rupert Wyatt and starred James Franco as Will Rodman and Andy Serkis as Caesar.

The 2011 film did what all the previous films in the franchise did not do. It allowed the movie audience to become one with an intelligent species that is endangered in the real world.  Will Rodman (Franco) a scientist from the Sen-Sys Biotech Company is working on a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, a disease that his father is victim to…but we all know that the plans of mice and men often go astray.


The company does its research on chimpanzee subjects and the drug makes one of the chimps, Bright Eyes, extremely intelligent, but she goes on a rampage. Due to this mishap, Will is forced to take her infant and raise it. Infant Caesar grows more intelligent each day, but he still has animal tendencies that Will Rodman must deal with.

The drug may be a blessing for the primate characters of the film, but its side effect on humans is catastrophic. While the airborne disease becomes a pandemic nightmare for mankind, Caesar and his fellow intelligent chimpanzee friends escape to Muir Woods; their new home.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes changed the game plan on the franchise by telling the story from a new perspective. Caesar became the hero of the film; the survivor against man’s cruelty towards non-humans.


The 2014 film directed by Matt Reeves and starring Andy Serkis as Caesar, Jason Clarke as Malcolm, Gary Oldman as Drefus and Toby Kibbell a bonobo and Caesar’s second in command, focused on the lives of the primates living in Muir Woods.


In the 2014 film we see Caesar in charge of his troop of fellow primates.  They’ve not only built shelter for themselves, but they successfully hunt for food. When Drefus (Oldman) the leader of a small band of human survivors living in a section of San Francesco sends Malcom and his team to check for a source of water power to keep their city running, they encounter Caesar’s son, Blue Eyes (Nick Thurston) and Rocket’s son, Ash (Doc Shaw). Ash is injured.


The film deals with Caesar and Malcolm trying to keep peace between the two species, but mistakes are made by both sides and it’s not only the humans who thirst for supremacy; stupid choices are made by both men and beast alike.


Please go see the movie. I guarantee that you will leave the theatre rethinking our place in nature. I loved this last film the best because we were witness to an old story told through new eyes and it felt right. We need to protect the other life forms that share this planet with us and we need to do it now.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Steampunk Granny's Christmas Scavenger Hunt


Did you expect a normal Christmas from someone who calls herself Steampunk Granny? If your reply is, “NO,” then my little zombie snack you are in the right place.  I wanted the act of gift giving and receiving at my yearly “Italian Christmas Eve Eat until  You Drop” event to be more...I don’t know....meaningful?
I did all in my power to get the gifts that my grandkids had requested and there were plenty of Black Fridays mornings that found me standing outside of a Target store or a Toys R Us store at all ungodly hours just so I could arm wrestle my way into the store and grab hold of a stinking dancing Elmo doll.  What we grandmothers do in the name of love. But it was worth the bruises both physical and financially to see the little cherubs smile. Then they grew up!

Teenagers are hard to buy for! My style in clothing is either too bizarre or too conservative depending on which grandchild you’re speaking to. “Give me gift cards” was the unanimous cry from all nine grandchildren. Big sigh!!! There isn’t much you can do with a gift card, or was there?

I began a tradition a few years back to make the gift giving a challenge. I would place the gift cards in puzzle boxes. In order to get to that gift card, my grandchildren had to work at solving the puzzle that would allow them to the treasure. It was a big hit and, each year starting with Thanksgiving, my grandkids would pester me with questions about the type of puzzle they would get.

I was on a roll, but after a few years of searching for new and different puzzle boxes, I finally hit a brick wall. There are only so many different types of puzzle boxes in existence. What was I going to do this year?
I did mention that we don’t do normal at my house, right? Luckily, I came up with a Christmas Scavenger Hunt to take the place of the puzzle boxes. My oldest male grandson (THE MARINE) was coming home for the holidays and when I told him about the scavenger hunt, he said, “I don’t think so.”
My eldest female granddaughter (The Fashion Designer) said, “NO Way!!!”

After dinner and after everyone opened their gifts, I handed Allie the first clue. “It’s pouring outside,” moaned all seven grandkids in unison.
“If you want your gifts...”

They had a ball and even the two older grandkids were having fun. To get their last clue, my crew had to serenade my neighbor with Christmas songs. I guess they did a good job because she gave them the final clue.
The scavenger hunt was such a big hit, I might do it again next year...but...where should I hide the clues?
Steampunk Granny and her gang wish you a Happy, Healthy, Peaceful New Year

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Steampunk Granny reviews Mockingjay Part One


REBLOGGED FROM MY POST ON BIFF BAM POP! I have a secret to tell you. I have all the Hunger Games books but I haven’t read any of them yet. I’ve made a conscious decision to watch the films first, and then read the books. This is a reverse of what I normally do, but I’ve found that I’m less disappointed in the films if I don’t come to the table with a fixed notion of how or if the film and book jived. This past Saturday night, I went with a friend to watch the latest addition to the Hunger Game Franchise. Did Mockingjay Part 1 meet my expectations? Follow the rose.
The story picks up after Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), Beetee (Jeffrey Wright) and Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) are rescued and brought to District 13, an unground rebel hideout. Although Katniss is happy to be reunited with Gale (Liam Hernsworth), her mother (Paula Malcomson) and younger sister, Primrose (Willow Shields), she is devastated to learn the Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) has been captured along with fellow victors Johanna (Jena Malone) and Finnick’s girlfriend, Annie (Stef Dawson).                               
Her mentors are also at District 12, Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) and the delightful Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) a woman who can do fashion wonders with burlap and scarves. Plutarch Heavensbee, played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, is also at the hideout along with President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) who wants Katniss to lead the revolution.
Katniss is a reluctant rebel until she sees first-hand what happened to District 12 thanks to the diabolical President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Katniss’s reaction and rousing speech is filmed by Coin’s propaganda crew which includes the very talented Natalie Dormer of Game of Thrones and The Tudors as Cressida.

I’m not going to talk too much about the plot because this is a movie that needs to be fine wine or the fragrance of a rose. I want to talk about the concept of a future where children are sent into games where they fight to the death and all for the enjoyment of rich and pampered citizens. This is the world that Katniss and her friends live in. The people in the districts are overworked, poor, hungry, and under the rule of a police state that is governed by a tyrant. President Snow uses the white rose as a taunt Katniss. Snow admires and fears the young girl who is both a symbol of freedom to all the districts and his mortal enemy.

Katniss has fallen in love with Peeta. She never expected this to happen, but it did and Snow will use that love to destroy Katniss and the rebellion. President Coin wants to use Katniss’s anger to win her rebellion. What neither realizes is that Katniss is pure of heart and that, my friend, is a weapon that can bring down the gates of hell itself.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 was directed by Francis Lawrence and is based on the trilogy written by Suzanne Collins. The Hunger Game Trilogy eerily reflects the growing separation between classes that is going on today. Corporations are having more say on how our government is run and the middle class is vanishing; going extinct and Suzanne Collins has captured this future reality in her stories. Katniss in the film is a symbol of survival, determination, rebellion and love.
Philip Seymour Hoffman had completed most of the scenes for Mockingjay before his death. He will be missed.
I’m glad that I didn’t read the books first. I’ve gone to see all the films unbiased and I’ve enjoyed being surprised and shocked by the first three films and, I can’t wait until part 2 of Mockingjay comes out. I will read the books at my leisure and savor the images that my imagination will take from the story and it doesn’t really matter what Katniss will look like in my imagination. A rose is a rose.

Go see the film!!!!!! and here is the song from the film.

Bazaars at the Audubon Treehouse

This past Tuesday was the last night of the Treehouse Coffee Shop’s Christmas Bazaar and I was there to check out that night’s venders.  There will be more bazaars coming up at New Jersey’s favorite little coffee shop in Audubon. I’ll be doing my Steampunk Granny’s Bohemian Bazaar in April and Tina and Randy have a date set for a springtime bazaar and maybe a summer bazaar, too.

We need to support the independent vendors and bring back shopping trips to our towns!!

Last night Tina and her boys hosted these venders:
Sheryl Price who is an Esthetician has her shop, Sheryl’s Skin Therapy Studio on Merchant Street in Audubon.  Here is her site:  I will be interviewing Sheryl Price in the upcoming weeks to find out more about her studio

Sandy Johnson with her one of a kind home décor called Second-Time-Around Mosaics can be reached at

Robert G. Amadio was also there with his wood creations and he can be reached at 
Shelley Szajner, spiritual advisor, artist and author was there to sell her displaying her spiritual art and doing Tarot readings.

Shelley’s mission is life is to illuminate the language of the soul and disperse seeds of wisdom. Check her out on her site  I will be interviewing Shelley in the upcoming weeks for a list of her upcoming classes.
My editor/friend and soul sister, Patti O’Brien made me one of her bottles of LitBits

and she even put candy inside to help me when I’m overwhelmed. Her personal blog is:  and her editing site is:
Well, I’m done my shopping for the holidays, but there are more holidays coming up and more chances to buy from these venders!!!! Check them out!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Update on the New Film, 22 Years and Actress/Producer Dawn Noel


About a month ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing dancer/actress/ producer Dawn Noel for Biff Bam Pop! Dawn is from South Philly like me and she was also a neighbor and shopped at the famous "Fred & Lucy" grocery store. In the interview for Biff Bam Pop! Dawn mentioned that she was working on a new film called 22 Years. I've included a video and her interview with me and also the site to go on to contribute to the IndieGoGo Campaign.

click on photo

About the Film

After twenty-two years, Avi receives a call she never expected. Independent, well-loved by her friends, and making her way through a man's world, Avi must now face the choice - rekindle the relationship with her father or close the door and move on forever.

What We Need & Why We Need It

Through various sources, we have already raised over $2000 to help begin production on this film. This has gone a long way towards getting the material we need for production.

However; making a film is a long road that doesn't end when we pack up the camera. Once we finish photography, we will enter into another long and difficult process; the terrifying world of editing and visual effects. To finish this film, we need another $5000 to go towards essential production and post-production costs. This is why we need your help! 

Funds will go directly towards:

  • Camera Equipment and Lenses
  • Prop Rentals, Set Décor, and Wardrobe
  • Video Post-Production and Colour Correction Software
  • Music Production Software
  • Marketing and Promotional Materials
  • Transportation
  • Food; so that our actors and crew can stay happy, healthy and awesome!

Our Team

Meet our Avi, and the producer of the film, Dawn Noel.

Dawn Noel is an accomplished dancer and actress who has, expanded her career into the film and television arenas. Dawn's acting resume includes numerous commercials as well as lead roles in the indie films Salsa Lessons, Grand Slammed and My Normal. On television Dawn has been seen on NCIS, All My Children and Glee. She has also produced the short film “Shattered Pitch”.  As a dancer, was a member of Philadelphia's Koresh Dance Company as well as with Ballet Hispanico and Elisa Monte Dance Companies. She has also toured with both Madonna and Jennifer Lopez as a featured dancer in their world-wide tours.

Check out the site and help this film come to fruition!!!

Interview with Dawn part 1:

Interview with Dawn part 2:

Over the years, I have supported and promoted Independent Films and the talented people who bring their artistic brilliance to the screen. Donate and tell Dawn that Steampunk Granny sent you and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Day in the Life of Steampunk Granny

Last night I was with a dear friend and her friends from Drexel. Loretta is more like a sister to me and we’d become friends when we both worked at the Academy of Natural Sciences.

We were heading over to the Helium Comedy Club in Philly to see comedian Joe Matarese.

Joe is an amazingly funny guy and his take on growing up Italian and Philadelphia was not only right on, but hilarious. Check Joe out on his web page
Today, I was at The Book Asylum in Blackwood, New Jersey for a book signing. Rosemary and Jeff have made this quaint little gem a place to come and lose yourself in their large collection of old and new books. But this is not just a book store. Rosemary can whip up the best coffee in town and I’ve been told that she makes one hell of a Chai tea.

The Book Asylum has music on Friday nights and it hosts a writing group on Thursday nights led by author Laura Kaighn aka Lady Hawke. Check out her site:

I intend to do an interview of Rosemary and Jeff to find out why so many people love to spend hours at their place. One couple even has a reserved table. Say hi to Kevin and Rebecca.
Rebecca was the first one to buy my book and you all know my tradition. I have to get a picture.
Laurae also stopped in to shop and I took her picture too.
I sold a few books, had some great coffee and chatted with delightful patrons of the shop.

I would say it was the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Catching Up with Steampunk Granny


I'm sending out a great big Christmas and Hanukah wish to all my family and friends! 

I’ve been more than busy this past year and this past month has been a whirlwind of activities. Christmas shopping for the family has always been handled like a triathlon by me because I have such a large family with around twelve of us celebrating our birthdays on the first two weeks of December. My marine grandson, Jimmy is coming home with his true love for the holidays and we can’t wait to see him and meet the girl who is making him walk on clouds.


My husband is healing from his last medical adventure. We have a new dog named LeLe, and our Chihuahuas Godzilla and Snowflake have accepted her with open paws. The dog likes to play pool with Nathan and me.

Three great things happened to me this month.

I’m working on the second book of the Roof Oasis series and I have just been informed that my vampire story, New Home, is being published in the Babes and Beasts Anthology. I’m so excited about this. More information will follow in the coming weeks.
I was chosen as “Writer of the Year by the South Jersey Writer’s Group of which I am a member.

I was asked by Director Christopher Eilenstine to be a writer in his new horror film Shadows of the Forest.

Andy Burns of the Canadian Pop Culture site, Biff Bam Pop not only has me doing weekly recaps of extremely popular shows, but also some pretty amazing interviews on  his site. You can check it out here:  Thank you Andy.
I am doing more ghost investigations and have posted them on my blog. If you have ghosts, call me.

I’ve been blessed with a loving family and awesome loyal friends and, to tell you the truth, isn’t that really what life is all about; to love and be loved. Sending all my family and friends a hug and kiss for the Holidays. Love you all 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Life with Fred & Lucy, Episode 36: Evening In Paris

No, Fred and Lucy never went to Paris. I don’t think my father ever went farther than Wildwood, N.J. in his 90+ years. My mother on the other hand had visited her sister Anna on several occasions when Anna lived in Oklahoma. Mom also spent time in Reno when applying for her divorce from Fred before moving to Napa California with her boyfriend. Long story and I don’t want to talk about this part of my childhood on the blog. What I do want to talk about is the perfume that I had always associated with my mother when I was growing up and...after she left.

My mother loved using Evening in Paris. It was for a long time her favorite perfume. I remember Jane, little Lucy and I sneaking into our parent’s bedroom when they were busy working in the family grocery store and investigating my mother’s stuff.
                                    looked something like this, but nicer                     
Mom had a vanity set that was to die for. It looked like something right out of the movies and this is where Mom would sit and put on her make-up and jewelry. She kept her bottle of perfume on the top shelf of the vanity and we three girls would spritz the perfume on our neck after we would put on Mom’s makeup.
Evening in Paris had a strong scent, at least to me, and even though I wasn’t particularly fond of the scent, I still spritzed. When we three sisters were done spritzing and putting on makeup, we would pull out mom’s fancy slips and make believe we were famous actresses.  

Sometimes we’d forget to wash off the perfume and makeup before heading downstairs for dinner. Mom would ask, “Were you touching my stuff again?”

“No??” we lied, but I think the smell and the rouge gave us away.

“That’s expensive perfume. Don’t touch it,” she’d counter every time.

Recently someone sent me some photos about the old days. I shared them on a blog. One of the photos was a bottle of Evening in Paris. I thought about my mom. She stopped using Evening in Paris way before she took off to Reno. I think she was using Channel # something or other; it really doesn’t matter.

On one of my sister Lucy’s and my visits to Napa, we were in Jane’s kitchen having coffee with mom. I don’t know how we got on the conversation of perfumes, but when Jane, Lucy and I began laughing about our ritual of playing movie stars with mom’s belongings; my mother denied ever using Evening in Paris. “You’re all crazy. I didn’t use that cheap shit.”

“Yes, you did!” we countered in unison. Mom was in her mid to late stages of dementia by then, but we hadn’t picked up on how bad it was at that time. We just thought she was being “Lucy”.

Even though hostile to each other while alive, my mom along with Fred decided to spend their afterlife in my attic. I don’t know why except my dad’s commode is up there, and in their old age before they died, they both considered bowel evacuation as the highlight of the day. It probably has something to do with old age. I hope I don’t get like that, but I told my daughter that if I ever started talking about bowel movements, she is to put me on a block of ice and send me out to sea. It would be time “To Flow.”
So my parents are haunting my house and I’m perfectly fine with it. They help me with my Fred and Lucy stories; not too crazy about my zombie stories. Anyway...when I looked at that photo of Evening in Paris, I heard mommy say, “I did use it.”

And just for a moment, a blink of an eye second as time stood still, I smelled the perfume.