A Man Called …

There’s a book you may have heard of in recent years. It’s called A Man Called Ove and it was a worldwide bestseller.

The main character is a fellow named Ove who has known heartbreaking tragedy and who is getting on in age. He recognizes, as many of us do at a certain time in life, that the world has left him behind.

The book was written by Swedish author Frederik Backman. Published in 2012, it has been on my reading list for nearly a decade. A Swedish movie was made a few years ago. Last year, every time I went to the movies, there was a preview for a new American version that looked really good.

It opened nationwide earlier this month so I had to hustle to read the book first.

The book was one of the best I have read in the last two years. It was actually exactly what I needed. Ove’s character and his motives are layered and complex. His actions, while foreign and misunderstood by many around him, made perfect sense to me.

The story is told from his perspective so you get tremendous insight into the man. I laughed out loud in many places and found others quite sobering.

You get less of that with the new movie. Tom Hanks does a nice job translating Ove to the big screen as he stars in A Man Called Otto. Don’t ask. I have no clue why they changed the name. Regardless of what you call the character, the film shows some of the complexities of the man. It mixes the bad with the terrible, the funny with the cranky and the good that is this man. It’s not as funny as the previews might suggest. I did laugh. It is amusing but I felt like whoever made that trailer didn’t see the entire movie or understand the point.

Two days later, I was able to see the original film, the Swedish made A Man Called Ove which requires subtitles since I don’t understand the language.

I thoroughly enjoyed this rendition as well. It could be the subtitles throwing me off but this Ove doesn’t come off as complex as he is simply angry. All the same, actor Rolf Lassgård gives a great performance and I enjoyed this one too. You should see it as well.

It got me thinking about life and temperament and how we manage the things life sends our way. It’s rarely all good or all bad. If you take someone else’s interpretation of a story as fact, you’ll get the things they want you to know or consider.

If you get the whole story, in this case the book version, you’ll find much more detail and opportunities to judge for yourself. As much as I enjoyed both movies, I’ll take the book any day. In fact, read it first and I promise you’ll better appreciate both movies.

Elvis and a Classic Mustang

Yesterday found me hiding from the heat in the movie theater. My cousin Sherrie and I took in a matinee showing of “Elvis” and enjoyed two hours and 39 minutes of escapism from this crazy world we call home.

The movie was excellent and gets two thumbs up from me. Tom Hanks was great as Colonel Tom Parker and Austin Butler made an exceptional King of Rock and Roll. In all, it’s a fresh take on a heartbreaking story and would both watch it again and recommend it.

We found this classic Mustang parked next to us after the movie.

Notice the front plate. Always on my mind.

It was shiny and immaculate.

Spotting classic cars out in the wild is one of my favorite things and this one was the perfect end to my Elvis experience!

Top Gun Maverick

I decided to follow the crowd this weekend and went to see Top Gun Maverick. I had hiked that morning and thought continuing my break from reality sounded appealing.

Boy, was this ever the right choice.

To be clear, I enjoyed the original movie but am not a huge Tom Cruise fan. All the same, I’ve heard rave reviews from friends who saw the movie and thought it sounded fun.

It is packed with action, witty dialogue and a whole lot of aerial stunts. They used real planes – in fact everything about this movie feels authentic.

Best of all, this movie asked nothing of me.

There was no political bickering, no griping about inflation, no social maneuvering and no sense that you are expected to do anything except sit in the dark and try to keep up with the high flying action.

We’ve reached a point in American society where the philosophy seems to be you’re either with me or against me. We drag politics and social justice into absolutely every conversation, embracing what divides us rather than seeking common ground.

The message of this movie is teamwork and working together to accomplish the impossible. It’s about bringing everyone back from a mission alive.

I think this was my first movie experience since the pandemic began. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I stepped into a theater even though it used to be a somewhat frequent pastime.

This movie was an amazing escape from my reality which all too often is unpleasant.

Incidentally, this is a movie that you should see on the big screen. Some movies can be viewed anywhere but this one is so expansive, so action packed, that it’s best appreciated at the theater.


Once in a while you learn something random that completely changes your view of someone. Today’s case involves someone I’ve never met but who is quite familiar to me in three different ways that I never knew were related.

Stick with me for a few minutes.

If you’re like me, you have seen the holiday favorite National Lanpoon’s Christmas Vacation at least once a year since it was made. Do you recall Aunt Bethany? She was the elderly aunt with the failing memory who wrapped up her cat as a gift. Click here to view a quick clip to refresh your memory.

The actress who portrayed this beloved character was named Mae Questel, a former Vaudeville performer whose career spanned 67 years beginning in 1930.

Her most notable work was actually providing voices for some of America’s most popular characters of the 1930s including Betty Boop and Olive Oyl in the Popeye cartoons.

In fact, she voiced Betty from 1931 to 1939 in 150 animated shorts. This was the longest run for any actress voicing this role. She reprised that role decades later for the 1988 box office hit Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Her role as Olive Oyl lasted for a total of twenty years. Sadly, when Hannah-Barbera began making the New Popeye cartoons in 1978 she auditioned for the role but they gave it to someone else.

Many people may also remember her for making the rounds on television soap operas and panel shows, for some commercials and for a number of other voice and on-film roles.

Pretty cool, right?

Mae Questel gave us three iconic characters, making a memorable mark on pop culture. She died in 1998 at the age of 89 from complications related to Alzheimer’s Disease.

The photo above is a Betty Boop statue outside a pawn shop in Denver.

Hi-Road Drive In

They’re a rare sight along America’s roads but a few drive-in movie theaters do still exist. I’m happy to report this one is still operating near Kenton, Ohio.

When I saw the gateway sign for the Hi-Road Theater just off the road, there was no doubt that I would be going back for it. The colors! The lines! The sky!

They’re currently closed for the season but you can learn more about them here!


I spent last evening at the movies, watching one of my favorite films on the big screen. A local historic theater hosted a screening of The Princess Bride for free and I just had to go. It is, after all, one of the most quotable movies of all time!

If you aren’t familiar, or if the line “as you wish” doesn’t ring any bells, please stop reading and immediately go watch the movie. Then come back and we’ll chat about how fabulous it is!

The Markay was on the brink of loss several years ago but an amazing group of people with the Southern Hills Arts Council rallied to bring it back to its present glorious state. The project was enormous. It was costly. It took years because they paid cash for the whole thing through donations, fundraisers and grants.

The thought of all they accomplished by rolling up their sleeves and diving in makes my heart swell with pride and hope for other historic structures that are in trouble.

I’ll tell you more of their story someday but, for now, here’s a couple of pictures from my fun evening there.