Friday, July 20, 2018

Movie Review Madness - Whitney


Whitney is a documentary directed by Kevin McDonald.  This is a class act production and not sensational crap.  We see Whitney break out in a private church film song. Oh , that glorious voice as a teen. Then we see her truly break out on Merv Griffin, MTV, etc.  She’d been groomed by her mother, Cissy Houston, a singer in her own right. An interview with Cissy says, “I trained her to use her mind, heart, and gut. She had it. It was in her spirit.”

Such a pretty baby, girl, and young woman. The eyes and smile showed spirit – she sang in Newark, the church of her home town, and blossomed from there. Just no stopping her.  Interviews with her brothers, sister-in-law, other family, and friends give a true insight into Whitney Houston.  That voice had Clive Davis at Arista Records courting her. He won and helped groom her into a worldwide sensation. The climb was meteoric. Her rendition of the Star Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl is the absolute top version. She conquered the world.

However, the film shows the cracks in the demeanor, the demons, the inner doubts and sadness.  Yes, she married Bobby Brown and was in love. Yes, she had Bobbi Cristina and tried to be a good mother. But there’s so much that’s deeper, as she had to travel and sing and meet her fans and commitments.  No excuses.  Drugs was always in the picture. The key was the excess that did occur.
And trying to stay married and deal with Bobby’s ego.  When she became a film star in The Bodyguard, life was dialed up 1000 percent.  There was no turning back from disaster.

This documentary is sadly poignant.  Just SO much talent. The clips of her singing at every stage is joyous.  And then it hits rock bottom. Voice gone, that pretty girl with the sparkle in her eye is gone.
Bring tissues because you can’t help but tear up at the loss of such talent at age 48. Yes, she made her choices. The film doesn’t excuse it, but it digs deep and offers insight into how her entourage/family/friends just couldn’t save her.  And they do feel blame and heartache.

But her legacy of music lives on . You can’t help but crank up her tunes, raise your arms, and sing “I Will Always Love You” or “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”…at the top of your own off-key voice. Oh Whitney…if only….



Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Movie Review Madness - Incredible 2


I am very behind on movies - cannot keep up with Alex Cavanaugh. But here I am with a review. Better late than never.

It took a long time but it was worth the wait – Incredibles 2 has that Pixar magic. Animation, story line, voices, and energy make for a very entertaining two hours for young and old alike.  When we last left the family, super heroes have been banned. So Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) has slogged in the insurance world, and Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) has stayed home with the kids – Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huck Milner), and baby Jack-Jack. But trouble is brewing and a very rich entrepreneur Winston D.(Bob Odenkirk – yes, doing his Better Call Saul kind of voice) wants to make super heroes cool and necessary again.

So he wants to promote Elastigirl. After much discussion, Mr. Incredible is home with the kids – oh, that gives some funny scenes. He’s exhausted with Violet teen angst, kid’s New math (Dash), and Jack-Jack exploding into his super powers. The kid can vanish and go through walls, he can become a demon and burst into flames, and he can duplicate into many. Yikes. The dad has his hands full and tries to make it sound like it’s under control.  Meanwhile, through some careful organized saves, Elastigirl is proving woman power, super hero power, and is becoming a legend.

However, a very evil villain – the Screenslaver- threatens the whole atmosphere.  I won’t give anything else away.  Let’s just say that Mr. Incredible gets to don those tights again. Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) totally does his thing. Other super heroes contribute, go bad, and then recover.  The kids are older and more valuable and skilled. And Jack-Jack is tremendous. Plus you have Edna (voiced by the director Brad Bird) in a great sequence – she chooses to babysit Jack and design his little baby super hero outfit. It’s genius!

So much fun is packed into this film. Lots of laughs and you care about these animated characters.  It’s worth the wait.  Classy project, animation, and the pre-movie little animated flick Bao is rather poignant.
Get that tub of popcorn, buy those sodas, and spring for a really fun family outing. They are Incredible….2



Monday, July 16, 2018

Monday Moments




Orange Beach, AL

Nature is a mutable cloud, which is always and never the same - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, July 13, 2018

Fort St. Jean Baptiste





Our beach vacation began with a road trip, and that does mean a historical pit stop is required. Ray's a good sport and indulges me on our adventures.  We stopped in Natchitoches LA - quaint historical town on the Cane River. It was time to stretch the legs and mind.

Fort St. Jean Baptiste is a replication of the 1714 site - French Colonial life is depicted.  Over 2000 pine logs form the palisade and over 250,000 board feet of lumber went into the building construction.  Hinges and latches were handmade at a nearby foundry. It was interesting to tour the living quarters, the old kitchen, see the big outdoor bread oven, a church, and the jail.

It was quite humid. I can't imagine wearing the heavy layers of clothes folks wore back in colonial times. Whew!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Wordless Wednesday





Monday July 2 - Day 1 of vacation:
"Hey Ray, let's take a walk on the beach before breakfast."

Did you see those dark clouds?  It monsooned.  Deluge....hey, a little lightening in the distance....
We were wet anyway....

Ray is so gullible. I thought it would be an awesome start...

It did clear up later. Turns out weather at Orange Beach,  Gulf shores AL is very unpredictable.
Stick with me for adventure.  Never boring.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Farewell Aunt Jane

Just a quick one day post. My Aunt Jane passed at the age of 87 on Monday. Oh, she was a force of nature. Tiny with an infectious laugh.  This picture from back in the day pretty much exudes her personality. I always wanted to be blonde and vivacious like her. She was "fun", unlike my dear practical mother who had a boatload of common sense. ( That was my teen me perception)

Alas, the spark diminished and slowly the embers burned out these past years. It was time for her to go.

And now today, Tuesday July 10th, my mother will have been gone exactly 26 years. She passed at age 60 in 1992

Tough week, but good memories.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Book Review - The Leavers by Lisa Ko


The Leavers by Lisa Ko is a powerful debut novel full of rich characters, a very current immigrant tale, a story of family love, family loss, and it’s a coming of age story too.

Cover blurb – One morning Deming Guo’s mother, Polly, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, goes to her job at a nail salon – and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her.

Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid examination of borders and belonging. It’s a moving story of how a boy comes into his own when everything he loves is taken away, and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of the past.

At age eleven, Deming is mystified and bereft. His life is turned upside down and he’s signed over to an adoption agency and placed with well-meaning white professors. He’s moved upstate and renamed Daniel Wilkinson. Kids are resilient and yet, Deming/Daniel drifts – trying to please his adoptive parents and yet not feeling as if he fits in anywhere. He seems to screw up what he touches – school, his music, being in a rock band, and friendships. He’s wary, always ready to be left.

The author tells the story from different viewpoints – Deming as a kid, Daniel as a young man, and from Polly. We do learn what happened to her and how she also had to adapt and survive. Her choices left her with many regrets and she always felt the loss of Deming.  There are lots of questions in this book and no easy answers.

p.48 after Daniel is adopted   One week later, tucked into a double bed sheathed with red flannel, Deming Guo awoke with the crumbs of dialect on his tongue, smudges and smears of dissolving syllables, nouns, and verbs washed out to sea.

The Leavers is poignant and sticks with you – to me that’s the sign of a really good read.