The fall Maverick Speaker Series kicked off with La Bamba - Lou Diamond Phillips. He's a thirty year actor, director, and producer, and a proud graduate of UTA '85. From his splash as Ritchie Valens in 1987 La Bamba to his current role in Longmire, Diamond has worked hard to pursue his dream and commitment to acting.
The theme of his speech was commitment. You have to keep moving forward. Keep learning. Be committed to people and the world. He was enthusiastic and had a nice sense of humor.
It was a fun hour and he certainly gave praise to his alma mater. He donated any proceeds from the night to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts for UTA students involved.
From the cover blurb: In Why Not Me?
Mindy Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in
her adult life, whether it’s falling in love at work, seeking new friendships
in lonely places, attempting to be the first person to lose weight without any
behavior modification, or most importantly, believing that you have a place in
Hollywood when you’re constantly reminded that no one looks like you.
Mindy Kaling was a writer first, then moved into
acting also with guest appearances and then her own show. Her wry humor and
observations can be laugh out loud funny. While she’s been successful in
Hollywood, she still seems like she’s trying to navigate the territory on
tiptoes. She still seems excited about the business and opportunities, the
celebrity meetings, and the parties. Yet she also can give very snarky comments,
and can laugh at the ridiculousness of the business.
She admits she truly loves her parents. She always wanted to
be liked as a kid in school. She admits to real anxieties in social situations.
Mindy Kaling comes across as down to earth and real. You’d want her on a road
trip, eating snacks, and talking…always talking.
Why Not Me? By Mindy Kaling is a breezy read.
It’s a humorous collection of essays written by a clever, smart, achieving
woman. ‘Nuff said.
Stephen King’s IT is a monster tome – it’s a
fast read for a lot of pages. It was a mini-series a long time ago starring Tim
Curry. Now a new movie is on the big screen and it is a worthy adaptation.
Derry, Maine seems like a charming little town. It’s 1988 and Billy makes a
paper boat for little brother Georgie to float in the rain. Alas, a storm drain
proves Georgie’s undoing as Pennywise the clown (Bill Skarsgard) smiles and
lures him closer…closer…and snatches him. Kids seem to be disappearing in this
town. Billy and his band of Losers start investigating and arrive at a very
Meanwhile, the bullying of the Losers, the implied home
abuse of others, and more hint at the horrors of childhood for so many. Stephen
King has always had underlying themes in his work – the daily horror of life
versus an otherworldly element. Sewer systems, haunted home, the well, and
basements. IT taps into plenty of creaking doors, not to mention
the fears in the mind. This movie is R due to language and subject
matter. The pacing, filming, and effects are excellent. The kids are all
superb, and IT is a good kickoff to the fall movie season.
Be wary if a red balloon drifts in your direction.
Here's your Monday moment - Ray captured this shot of the lion over Labor Day Weekend. We visited the Fort Worth Zoo. The lion was perched high, very attentive. The view - across the way was the zebras and she kept her eye on the baby zebra. In her brain, "when's lunch?" Ah, nature.
On another Monday moment - 9/11 - today we remember. I shall never forget.
From the cover blurb: Anything is Possible by
Elizabeth Strout explores the whole range of human emotions through the
intimate dramas of people struggling to understand themselves and others.
One story offers a contrast between two sisters. In another,
a janitor befriends an isolated man in town, and in a recurring theme – Lucy
Barton(from a previous book) is a celebrated author -her life and writing
affected quite a few lives in town. Several stories show her siblings’
resentments, her classmates shame. This book of connected short stories reverberates
with the deep bonds of family, and the hope that comes with reconciliation.
p. 90 Almost always it’s a surprise, the passing of
permission to enter a place once seen as eternally closed. And this is how it
was for a stunned Linda, who stood that day in that convenience store with the
sun falling over packages of corn chips and heard those words of compassion-
p.123 setting – a small town in Italy. Angelina is
visiting her mother who has moved there. “Mom,” Angelina said, “that woman
is your age, and she’s smoking, and she has her pearls tossed over her neck,
and she’s wearing high heels, and she’s pedaling her bike with a basket of
stuff in the back.”
“Oh I know honey. It just amazed me when I came here.
Then I figured it out – the women are just versions of people pulling up to
Walmart in their cars. Only they’re on a bike.”
For some reason, that little blip really amused me. It’s
observations like that in these stories that make Anything is Possible
by Elizabeth Strout a quiet read – a glimpse into ordinary lives.
When I was back East to visit my father, I was fortunate to have a weekend with good friends at Spring Lake, NJ. Helen has a lovely shore home that's on a pond, and also not far from the beach. We enjoyed fabulous weather, fresh salt air, toes in the sand, and plenty of laughs.
plus the bonus of the eclipse
Good times. Happy September now...will fall crispness arrive soon?
Wind River is a small slick indie film. It’s
well done, fast paced, and quite a story. Alas, the movie opens with a young
lady running barefoot for her life in a snowy region. This does not bode well.
Switch to Jeremy Renner (Cody) on his snowmobile. He’s a game warden and is off
to hunt a mountain lion that’s been killing livestock. Sadly, he finds the girl
and recognizes her – a daughter of a good friend of his. As local police arrive
and then the FBI, issues swirl as to jurisdiction. See, the land is part of the
Wind River Indian Reservation, and that complicates things.
Cody ends up helping Elizabeth Olsen – the FBI agent out of
her element. She’s been pulled in from AZ to Wyoming. So many layers to the
story. Cody is divorced from a Native American. Their daughter also died
mysteriously several years ago. He’s determined, for his Native American friend
Martin’s sake, to find the girl’s killer. Slowly, threads are pulled together.
She was seeing a white guy named Matt who worked out on a rig. In flashback, we
see that relationship and what transpired. Like the hunter he is, Cody tracks
carefully, looks for all the signs, and closes in on the story.
Wind River is not preachy but it does
highlight some Native American issues. The poverty, the lawlessness, the plight
of missing girls, and other underlying social/historical strains. Meanwhile,
the story, the acting, and the conclusion prove to be dramatic. This is a
“little” picture that deserves your attention.
Count on Daniel Silva to raise the summer alert to must read
suspense thriller. House of Spies is his latest with our favorite
reluctant hero, Gabriel Allon. From the cover blurb – Allon is back
and out for revenge, determined to hunt down the world’s most dangerous
terrorist, a shadowy ISIS mastermind known only as Saladin. There’s a
trail of carnage in London’s West End. The attack is brilliant except for one
loose thread: the French-Moroccan street criminal and ISIS operative who
supplied the combat assault rifles.
Threads lead Allon and his team to Jean Luc Martel. From
Saint-Tropez to Casablanca, a trail of money and connections are pieced
together. Roles are played. British, American, and Israeli forces work together
to fight the global war on terror. Our favorite heroine from the previous book,
The Black Widow, is back. Altogether, Gabriel is the skilled hand with
the vision to take the time to do it right.
From the cover blurb: House of Spiesis
more than just riveting entertainment: it is a dazzling tale of avarice and
redemption, set against the backdrop of our times.
Daniel Silva obviously does his research. He has an awesome
character with Allon and I enjoy our battle tested Israeli leader, art
restorer, calm influence, and concerned world citizen. Good writing,
interesting world settings, and well-paced tension will keep you turning pages.
Silva has another winner.
I never watched wrestling. I had no interest. However
, the buzz on GLOW on Netflix captured my attention and I gave it a whirl. Well,
hello……..I am hooked.
GLOW. What a great series, and the wrestling is the least of
it. First there’s Ruth (Alison Brie). She’s a very intense young actress,
eager to make it. Otherwise she has to keep calling her folks for some money.
How embarrassing. She auditions and makes the rounds for this new series
on television. She’s a “professional” and needs information – what’s her
character and motivation? She drives the director (played perfectly by the
jaded Marc Maron) crazy with her questions. “Hey Strindberg”, he calls her, but
she grows on him. He knows how much she cares. Meanwhile, Debbie (Betty Gilpin)
is the gorgeous former soap opera star who just had a kid and is feeling fat
and unattractive. Plus, complication – Ruth, her best friend, had an affair
with her husband. Awkward!!!
Now, that’s cause for the perfect wrestling match.
Anyway, the show strings together an oddball assortment of women to aim for a
Saturday morning slot on very cheap cable TV. We are talking very old school TV
here. The key to the show is the variety of women, the characters themselves,
and the depth of their stories. It’s awesome. You really come to care for
how they interact and what’s going to happen. They slowly learn how to wrestle,
and they care. And YOU care. Plus Marc Maron’s Sam is so pathetic, you
actually care about how shallow he is, but how much he actually cares about
these ladies and their potential story lines.
GLOW on Netflix is a little gem and worthy of your attention.
The key is the word CARE and you will. Let’s keep this series going. I am
Friday filler. I've been up to PA and no doubt have gathered some new senior tales...time with my father is always a treasure. Meanwhile, here's some finally gems from our weekend in Oklahoma City. Fun times....action figure museum joy.
Sunday – head to the river and visit the new water entertainment
Wow. Now this is a day of awesome. White water rafting – it’s a man-made
course where our Olympic kayak team trains. You can kayak or join a white water
raft expedition. Whew – paddling that hard is tiring. I had no idea what to
expect, but it was scary and exhilarating. That water is churning. We
were on the course for about an hour with three runs through the shoots. That
was plenty. I felt like a drowned rat, but I lived to tell the tale. I would
consider doing it again but not sitting in the front of the boat. (Of course, that is what Ray chose!!!)
Afterward, there’s a very tall water slide, there’s a zip
line across the river and back – it’s pretty fast and far and quite a ride.
There’s also an action trail you can attempt. You are clipped into the very
tall metal mountain – cross rope lines, and hike swinging bridges. There
are plenty of water attractions for kids, plus paddle board, kayaks, and
fun. There’s something for the whole family and the pricing is typical
for a water park day. The staff is helpful and safety is a plus.
So, who knew? Now I know and you know that Oklahoma
City offers a fairly close destination weekend of adventure and learning. And
yes, you still have to sing “Oklahoma, where the wind comes whistling down the
So, based on time we did not see the OKC Museum of Art,
the Myriad Botanical Gardens, or the American Banjo Museum.
Those will have to be for another trip. Instead we headed back to Bricktown
and caught a water taxi. The mile long ride is fun and relaxing. Enjoy
the murals on the walls, cruise under bridges, and start thinking about where
you want to dine. Restaurants and bars line the area. Folks sit outdoors eating
and laughing. The area is festive and you are ready to join the party. The taxi
continues to cruise to Lower Bricktown and a park where you can see the Oklahoma
Land Run Monument. There’s a lot of bronze – it’s impressive. It’s
still a work in progress with a final count of forty five figures expected. The
horses, cattle, and wagons that are there now are nifty.
Dinner – we ate at a Mardi Gras, New Orleans style
restaurant. Very tasty fish tacos, mardi gras nachos, and Cajun fettucine. We
rolled out of there.
Onward to baseball – the AAA Oklahoma Dodgers play at a very
pleasant ballpark right in the heart of Bricktown. Family friendly and the
right price – reasonable. Alas, the Dodgers did not win for us, but we enjoyed
a good time.
Part of our OKC adventures after the Action Figure Museum. What could top that? Oh there's more, so much more.
Onward to Oklahoma City. I recommend staying at the Holiday
Inn Express in Bricktown. Very new, modern, and in the perfect location. Park
the car and start walking.
We walked to the Oklahoma City National Memorial
Museum. The theme is Come to Remember. Leave With Resolve.
This museum is outstanding – powerful and well done. 168 people died in 1995
when the OKC Federal Building was bombed by home grown terrorists. The
Memorial is a place of quiet reflection – a large marble gateway says 9:01 (the
before time when a regular day was beginning). Another gateway says 9:03 (it
represents the time to begin healing). 168 chairs glint in the sun out on
the grass. The tiny chairs for the children in the daycare who died are
heartbreaking. Walk the grounds and ponder.
Inside, the museum, through touchscreens, galleries, and
theaters, a powerful story unfolds. “The goal is to meet violence with
vigilance.” This tragedy united a city, the nation, and impacted the
world. It is touching and somber, but so many stories in this are about
the folks who did live, the first responders, and a whole community. I
highly recommend you come to learn and reflect.
Here’s the list of museum sections:
A Day Like Any Other, History of the Site, A Meeting
recorded, Confusion & Chaos, World Reaction – Rescue and Recovery,
Watching & Waiting, Gallery of Honor, Impact & Healing,
Investigation-Evidence- and Justice, Responsibility and Hope.
Jeannette Walls wrote The Glass Castle –
excellent memoir about her unique childhood with two off the grid parents-artsy
and smart, offering a different perspective of “living” to their kids. However,
the kids just wanted to eat and were tired of always moving. And yet, despite
everything, those were her parents and she did love them. Now the movie
brings her story to the big screen. The book was better. I think the author’s
words just strike a deeper chord. But, the movie is well acted and does a
decent job of portraying the contrasts in the Walls’ lives.
Brie Larson is the grown-up Jeannette, now a writer in New
York, engaged to a financial fellow, living the dream. One day on a taxi ride
home from a fancy dinner, she sees her parents poking through trash, and she
chooses to ignore them. In flashbacks, we see Jeannette’s life as a girl with
her siblings. Often hungry, not attending school, always rushing to pack up
meager possessions to move on to another squatter home. Woody Harrelson is Rex
Walls – a free thinker, always dreaming, always scribbling in a notebook,
“designing” the dream home – a glass castle that’s energy efficient. We also
see him drink away what little money the family has, while his kids eat butter
mixed with sugar as desperation. He’s bigger than life, and yet harbors a
darkness. Naomi Watts plays Rose Mary, the artistic mother who’s
along for the ride. She encourages reading and arts. Jeannette soon realizes
she has to look out for her siblings and that their goal is to help each other
Present day Jeannette is conflicted and gets tired of her
own lies about her parents. The awkward scenes that bring together her fiance’s
family with her own are heartbreaking. So much comes to a head – the hurt, the
resentment, the love. How she lived made her who she is – that’s the key to the
story. The youngsters who play the kids are superb. You root for them, and it’s
rather amazing that they did turn out okay. They stuck with each other –
sibling power is strong. Brie, Woody, and Naomi are also vibrant on the screen.
The Glass Castle is quite a story – and it’s real. That’s the
There's a Toy and Action Figure Museum in Paul's Valley Oklahoma. This is right off I35 on the way to Oklahoma City. On a lark, we stopped. Wow - We're glad we did
This is just one wall of the Bat Cave. Crazy!
Heck yeah, there's Spider Man.
This is just one wall that features a myriad of figures. The museum has over 13,000 pieces in this collection. We hung out for about 45 minutes. Batman, Spiderman, Wonder Woman, GI Joe - in the Pacific and European battlefields. Barbies, and more. Oh so much more.
Explore America. Get off that freeway and visit a small town. The Shed Restaurant was worth a stop too - chickenfried steak and also chicken tenders and gravy to die for.
Beehive - The 60s Musical. If you live anywhere close to Fort Worth, TX book your tickets now. This show is a must see. I've talked about the Jubilee Theater in downtown Fort Worth before. It's the little theater with big voices. I've never seen a bad show, and Beehive proved to be a blast.
It's a trippy look at all the great women who made 60s music so fun, energetic, thoughtful, and enjoyable. Your toes will tap, your hands will clap. From the Chiffons to the Shirelles, to Supremes, from Aretha to Cher to Tina. Petula Clark, Dusty Springfield, and Lulu. And a final Janis Joplin song. The young ladies in the show pulled out all the stops in vocals, choreography, humor, and grace.
Kyndal, Jenna, Ayanna, Devin, Nikka, and Mattie - they sang their hearts out.
A very special shout out to Kyndal Robertson for channeling her Tina Turner - that number was lights out fantastic.
Tease that hair, go back in your time machine, sit back, and enjoy Beehive - The 60s Musical.
The Jubilee pulls off another awesome live show.
Dunkirk is harrowing and memorable. Look for
it on Oscar night. Director Christopher Nolan, after thorough research and a
serious plan, took three approaches – Land, Sea, and Air. The film moves
fluidly between these perspectives and you feel immersed in the war. There is
minimal dialogue and no character backstory or superfluous nonsense. Instead we
follow the main lad (Fionn Whitehead) as he navigates Dunkirk, eager to
survive. His shell-shocked look as he wanders the beach, ducking from air
strikes, trying to get on an escape boat starts to bring on your anxiety.
The sheer numbers of British and French soldiers stuck on the beach was
staggering. How were they going to evacuate? That’s the land issue.
On the sea, we follow Mark Rylance and his boys as they sail
their private boat to Dunkirk to help. There was an armada of private ships and
boats who crossed the choppy channel to come to the soldiers aid. Plenty of
drama at sea. Rylance projects a quiet nobility and his sense of duty is
reassuring and brave.
By air, we see Tom Hardy and another fellow in their
Spitfires as they dodge the German air assault, circle, weave, and shoot.
Plenty of scary moments in the air.
Back on land, a group of guys commandeer a ship that’s
grounded on the beach but the tide’s coming in. Once afloat, they are feeling
safer until shots ring out, they start taking on water, and the fear and
scrambling will have you gasping for breath yourself. Harry Styles ( One Direction singer) shows his acting chops in this film and does a fine job.
Kenneth Branaugh is the Navy commander trying to coordinate boats and ships. He
projects the weary responsibility of some who’s in charge, but concerned that
Dunkirk is out of control.
Nolan keeps Dunkirk tight and tidies up the
story line into a taut mesmerizing film. This was quite a turn in the war for
the Allies. Excellent film, tough film, and not for the faint of heart. War is
hell, and I’m sure movie hell depiction is only half of it. Salute those who
served – innocent young lads fighting for their country and to survive.
Something new for my friend Trish and me - live women's basketball. Yes, the WNBA has a local team - the Dallas Wings - and they play at the UTA College Park Center. What fun!
Music pounded. The crowd cheered. And the energy level was fantastic. Time flew by as these ladies ran up and down the court. They had a record night of sixteen 3-point conversions. Very impressive.
I'm not usually out on a Friday night. The game started at 7 and I was home by 10 pm. Works for me.
Lots of moms there with daughters. The mascot was fun - she danced all over the place.
Wings won and two players stood out - Skylar Diggins-Smith and Glory Johnson. Nice work ladies.
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
is a well written interesting story about a young girl and her uncle. June is
shy, distant, and still trying to learn about life at age fourteen. It’s 1987
and the word AIDS is not common. Her uncle, famous painter Finn Weiss, is her
favorite person in the world and he dies. But he leaves behind a “friend”,
Toby, who’s a big secret. June’s mother is angry at Finn, Toby, etc about his
death. So June keeps her connection with Toby a secret. She learns more
about her uncle’s life, about trust, and love.
This story is quite bittersweet. It’s a family drama that’s
missing a key player – the late Finn Weiss. It’s only through his death that we
learn more. It’s only through June’s love of her uncle and willingness to
connect with his love, Toby, that the picture becomes complete.
p. 101 June: I felt like I had proof that not
all days are the same length, not all time has the same weight. Proof
that there are worlds and worlds and worlds on top of worlds, if you want
them to be there.
p. 233 June: If I could time travel, could I be
selfless enough to stop Finn from getting AIDS? Even if it meant I would never
have him as my friend? I didn’t know. I had no idea how greedy my heart really
Tell the Wolves I’m Home is poignant and
heartrending at times. It was different and I found it quite compelling.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is so
chillingly apt for our 2017 lives. Crap. I have chills. It was written in
1986 and I have to say Atwood is freaking brilliant, prescient, and oh so wise.
It has had a resurgence thanks to a production on Hulu (which I have not seen.
It stars Elizabeth Moss - an excellent actress). Anyway – this book
is very worthy of a read. It was our book club pick and I can’t wait to discuss
it with my friends.
From the back blurb: Offred is a Handmaid in the
Republic of Gilead. She may only leave the Commander’s home once a day to walk
to the food market. Women are no longer allowed to read. Women no longer have
access to money. She has to pray that the Commander impregnates her. She is
valued only because her ovaries are viable. She can remember the years before,
when she lived and made love to her husband, played and protected her daughter,
had a job, money, and access to knowledge. All that is gone now…
Read and find out what happens. Review the life she
remembers, how she exists now, and what is possible…if anything.
Atwood has created a world that is horrific and possible.
Her vision is amazing and her writing is genius. I read this and shall turn
around and re-read it. Wow. It blew my mind. Quite profound.
I dog-eared this whole book.
p. 64 I’ve learned to do without a lot of things.
If you have a lot, you get too attached to this material world and you forget
about spiritual values. You must cultivate poverty of spirit.
p.94 What’s going on…has nothing to do with passion or
love or romance…it has nothing to do with sexual desire
p.135 Maybe it’s about who can do what to whom and
be forgiven for it
p.193 The moment of betrayal is the worse, the
moment when you know beyond any doubt that you’ve been betrayed: that some
other human being has wished you that much evil.
The Handmaid’s Tale is absolutely one of the best
books I’ve ever read. Get it. Read it. Think. And re-read it. And
re-read it. Discuss. Dang!!!
Happy Birthday Ray!! Today's the day, my husband, lover, best friend, buddy, and all around great guy turns 61. Yikes! So fun, so energetic, so opposite of me. Always up for anything, always laughing at my crazy crap. We just can hang or go travel and find adventure. He's up for anything I concoct, and believe me I'm always stirring up something.
I like Cornelia Read’s writing and A Field of Darkness
was her first book. I bought it at a book sale and enjoyed the cop
investigation murder mystery thriller. Madeline Dare was a debutante, now
married to Dean (yes, she loves him), but feels stuck in podunk Syracuse. She
hates the cold, the town, and wants to escape. Visions of being a real
journalist clash with her current life at a small town paper. But, an old
mystery resurfaces and it might involve her New York city cousin,
Lapthorne – possible gay bon vivant, or lecherous killer of young girls? You
Old dog tags surface. There’s still someone alive from the
local fall fair. Girls were killed, but the killer never found or charged.
Madeline digs deeper and other girls are dead. Who to believe? Is
there a local dirty cop? What about her journalist boss? Lots of
suspects, lots of dirt, and Madeline’s husband Dean is out of town and worried
about her. Does she and her best friend Ellis get in too deep? It seems that
everyone Madeline is connected with seems to die. Not looking good for
the home team.
A Field of Darkness is well written and pulls
together the clues to lead you and Madeline to the killer. Hope it’s not
Theft By Finding by David Sedaris is a
treasure trove from his diaries 1977 – 2002. This is book one. I
now eagerly await the release of 20023 to 2017. Meanwhile I may go back
and meander through this book again. I’ve enjoyed Sedaris’s writing since
The Santaland Diaries – his short story about his time as a Macy
elf. It is freakin’ hysterical. The descriptions, the humor…I laughed out loud
as I read that . That was also his huge breakthrough. He read it out loud
on NPR and got a huge response. Suddenly, everyone wanted his essays. He wrote
about his wacky family, his upbringing in the South, his being a fish out of
water, and just his droll wit on every day occurrences is read-worthy.
Cover blurb: In his diaries, he’s recorded everything that
has captured his attention – overheard comments, salacious gossip, soap opera
plot twists, secret confided by strangers. These observations are source code
for his finest work, and through them he has honed his cunning, surprising
p. 242 September 25, 1990 Dad doesn’t pay
attention when you talk to him, so Paul’s taken to throwing the term IRS into
his sentences. Then it’s suddenly, “Hold on a second, what did you say?”
p. 255 February 5, 1991 Elaine called last
night with a possible job. (work for a small press as a personal
assistant) I think it involves typing, which might be a problem.
He’s quirky and unique. Theft by Finding
offers a glimpse into an American humor author who’s gifted with a keen eye and
a sharp pen. Sedaris also goes deep in regards to the death of his dear mother
(quite a character herself and a huge influence on David), and also his
troubled sister Tiffany. His writing is not all laughs. He addresses his
addictions and obsessions too. These are diary entries and he does not edit out
the bad and just keep the good. This is a peek into a life and you see his
growth as an author with each entry. Oh, David Sedaris is different and you
have to “get” his humor, but it’s worth the journey and laughs.
Joanne Faries, originally from the Philadelphia area, lives in Texas with her husband Ray. She considers herself fortunate to be able to pursue a writing career after eons in the business world. Joanne enjoys reading and movies, and is the film critic for the Little Paper of San Saba.