Monday, January 22, 2018

Movie Review Madness - I, Tonya

I, Tonya is a hoot.  It’s a mockumentary version of the crazy shenanigans that occurred with the U.S Figure Skating program leading up to the Olympics. Tonya Harding, scrappy unconventional skater with the ability to turn axels versus the ice princess, Nancy Kerrigan.  We hear “interviews” with Tonya, played by Margot Robbie, saying she did not know anything about the plan to get Nancy out of her way. The husband, Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan), is not the brightest guy in the world. His buddy and Tonya’s bodyguard, Scott, are bumbling idiots. And finally, La Vona Golden, Tonya’s mom, is brilliantly played by Allison Janney (who won a Golden Globe for this role) and she’s harsh. She pushes Tonya to excel. She smokes, drinks, curses at the rink, and is just a piece of work.

All in all, did Tonya know that Scott was going to arrange for Nancy’s knee to be whammed by a steel bar? Did Jeff really arrange for this to occur or was he just going for threats?  We’ll never know and you have to watch this film with tongue in cheek appreciation. It’s snarky and hilarious.

From a review in EW – “absurd, irreverent, piercing portrayal of a life and career in unchecked and checkered glory”.   I, Tonya proved to be a fun film to see on a cold day. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

Book Review - Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton

Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton was discovered after his death. It’s a tad rough around the edges and started a bit slow. But the story kicks into gear and turns into a fun interesting read. It’s a touch of the old west with hints of Jurassic Park to come. Who knew fossil hunting could be so dangerous, rewarding, and thrilling?

William Johnson, a spoiled Yale student, joins a world renowned paleontologist (Marsh) on a summer expedition to the Wild West. But the (cover blurb) paranoid and secretive Marsh becomes convinced that William is spying for his nemesis Cope. He abandons William in Cheyenne, WY, a locus of crime and vice. William joins forces with Cope and stumbles upon a discovery of historic proportions. With this extraordinary treasure comes exceptional danger.

Fossils, Darwin’s theories of evolution, Wild West characters, gold rush towns, and more abound. Dragon Teeth is a decent romp led by a na├»ve young man:

p. 9   You, sir, have made a wager,” I replied. And in that moment I realized that, through no fault of my own, I would now spend the entire summer in some ghastly hot desert in the company of a known lunatic, digging up old bones.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Wordless Wednesday - New Digs

 I don't have before pics, but trust me the place I work, Omega Research, just moved into the 21st century.  New laptops, computer stuff, and more space

 my view from my desk
two big monitors - now I can actually see stuff. 

Will I be more productive?   Hmmm.........that remains to be seen

Monday, January 15, 2018

Book Review - Lilac Girls

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly is a well-researched novel based on a real life New York socialite. Caroline Ferriday, as liaison to the French consulate, made a huge difference in WWII for French orphans. She also impacted Polish women from Ravensbruck concentration camp who suffered unspeakable horrors. Caroline managed to get them to the USA after the war for reconstructive surgery and help in returning to “normal” life.

Cover blurb: Kasia Kuzmerick is a Polish resistance fighter sent to Ravensbruck. Herta Oberheuser, a German doctor, is sent to work at Ravensbruck and committed to horrific surgical experiments on camp women. Caroline Ferriday is a woman on a mission. The stories cross continents as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten. This debut novel reveals a story of love, redemption, and terrible secrets that were hidden for decades.

Lilac Girls is  a rich debut novel filled with well-drawn characters and compelling drama. As the stories unfold, you will be shocked at what occurred and the strength of humans to survive.

p. 440  Caroline waved toward the lilac bushes that swayed in the breeze. “It’s fitting in a way – lilacs blossom after a harsh winter.  It’s a miracle that beauty emerges after hardship.”

Be sure to read the Author’s Note at the end. Kelly’s  path to finding this story and bringing it to life in novel form is fascinating. The life of Caroline Ferriday was admirable and worthy of more attention. Her strength and persistence made for a compelling read. I finished the book in awe. 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Movie Review Madness - Pitch Perfect 3

Pitch Perfect 3 is silly, campy fun and a great way to spend a winter two hours. Hang out with a tub of popcorn, listen to tunes, laugh, and come out smiling. The Pitches are back in fine form. 

Well, the Bellas are out of college and in the real world, and that’s a bummer. Anna Kendrick’s a music producer but feeling discouraged with the kids and crap she has to deal with. She quits. Now what?
Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson – so fabulous. Her throwaway lines are gems) is bumbling along. At a Bellas reunion, the ladies all agree they’ll do anything to sing together again. How about a USO show? They have a connection and suddenly are landing at a base in Spain. Hilarity ensues. Of course there’s a riff-off with the other bands (and they have instruments…shocking!)

Are there love connections? Yes. These ladies are on a military base for goodness sake.
Are there some daddy issues? John Lithgow appears from a long ago past to connect with Amy. But his nefarious past proves troublesome. Just go with the plot line. Rebel is vulnerable and strong.

Pitch Perfect 3 has awesome mash-ups and plenty of girl power. Don’t judge. I got my five dollars of matinee entertainment.  And hey, can’t go wrong with a George Michael finale tune – Freedom 90. Seriously, so uplifting. The Bellas are fine and ready for their own freedom in the world. Sing it loud!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Wordless Wednesday - Almost

 Christmas highlights - I got a Super Spirograph. I always ask for stuff that we can keep here and play with kids. I loved Spirograph as a kid myself. My father liked. it too. What a hit. If I'm in the mood to do something artsy, I'll be playing with my new toy.
 I don't think you can have Christmas and little girls without the appearance of Barbie. And her hair already looks like a tousled mess from her Corvette ride.
Music - here's the key - bang the maracas on the tambourine....try it.  (That gift left our home!)

Yes, we are brilliant and evil.....

Happy Wednesday

Monday, January 8, 2018

Movie Review Madness - Darkest Hour

 Never Surrender

Those words are the key to Darkest Hour.  Wow – Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill is superb.  Neville Chamberlain does not have the support of Parliament. Viscount Halifax is still an up and comer. Who to tap for Prime Minister? Oh dear. Winston Churchill appears to be the man that can appease all sides. He drinks a lot, smokes those infernal cigars, he’s insufferable and goes through secretaries like crazy. King George VI (Ben Mendelsohn) is not a fan. He’s a tad afraid of the man.  Winston’s wife Clemmie (the incomparable Kristen Scott Thomas) asks him to try to be patient, but she’s pleased he’s finally getting the accolades he deserves.

It’s dire times for Western Europe. Hitler is swallowing up countries – Poland, Holland, Belgium, and now in France. The United Kingdom must declare war or negotiate peace. But is Mussolini of Italy the one to work with. Oh dear. Churchill has a quandary. He’s in the War Room, looking at the map with despair. Thousands of young man are on the beaches of Dunkirk – stuck as the Germans narrow the circle. Now what? Civilian boats set sail and it looks as if the plan will work. Winston seeks out his people, the citizens for an opinion – fight or flight? That’s where he sees and hears – Never Surrender.
His great speech to Parliament at the finale of the film is stirring. His words still ring out today. History was made.

Director Joe Wright captures the times. There are many nuanced touches and tough characters. He gives us a slice of history on the big screen and doesn’t waver in showing flaws and strengths. It’s a wow.  I loved a line from the movie in regards to Winston – “He mobilized the English language and sent it off into battle.”

Friday, January 5, 2018

Movie Review Madness - Star Wars Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi has more than myth going for it. This is a movie filled with character, emotional arcs, and a real story line.  It’s exciting and rich filmmaking. I still would have cut approximately thirty minutes (yes, I realize I am not the target audience, but some of the air battle scenes go on too long.  We get it – zoom zoom, swish, and shoot)  (And there is one too many trips up and down the mountain with Luke and Rey – we get it. He’s trying to break her down. And gee – she’s persistent).  Picky, picky, I know, but that’s me being a critic.

Otherwise, Rey (Daisy Ridley) is in fine form and showing more and more power. Her confidence grows and she’s learning. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is evil, yet we get more of some emotional undercurrents.  Po, Finn, Laura Dern as a military leader – steely enough, and new Resistance worker bee – Rose – all get to rise to the occasion and be a hero.  I’m not going to delve into more plot line. Suffice to say, the Resistance is battling the First Order and the Supreme Leader Snoke. Take sides and root for winners.

And there’s Leia – the late Carrie Fisher – still in the film, still important. The filmmaking they achieved when she was alive is fabulous. She’s grand, she’s funny, and she lends gravitas. As for Luke, is he the last Jedi? Mark Hamill’s blue eyes are more vulnerable, less piercing. Older, wiser, and weary – Luke is a key to the magic.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is one to see on the big screen. I know it came out before Christmas, but if you haven’t seen it yet, what are you waiting for? A galaxy far, far away….

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

RIP - Sue Grafton

Alas, Sue Grafton passed at age 77 before completing her alphabet mystery series. A fun, decent writer gone too soon.

A Is For Alibi started it all in 1982. Kinsey Millhone, a young private detective, let us into her life in Southern California and led us through a lot of puzzles. She was dogged, intrepid, smart, wily, and also keenly perceptive about the human condition.

Ms.Grafton said, "I find it more interesting to see what the constant exposure to violence and death really does to a human being, how a person incorporates that into their psyche." (from The Times interview 1985)

Y is for Yesterday was published in August, 2017. That is her final book. According to her family, Sue Grafton never wanted the series turned into movies, TV shows, or allow a ghost writer to continue in any vein. Thus, the alphabet ends at Y. (from her DMN obituary).

Sue Grafton was a solid author with a unique character in Kinsey. She grew in confidence in front of our eyes. By keeping the series in the 1980s, Grafton avoided the ease of too much technology. Old fashioned,hardcore beat footwork was the name of the detective game.

I hoofed along with Kinsey and enjoyed the ride, cruising up and down the CA highways, stopping for a run at the beach, and trying to guess the outcome of the mystery. Sue Grafton's work lives on.


Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year 2018

Happy New Year

A bit brisk in Texas, and I know it's quite the deep freeze around the nation.

Welcome back. Hope everyone had a good holiday, a week of family, fun, and also reflection and contemplation of what's ahead.

I already broke a resolution. Well.......I contemplated jogging. The thermometer proclaimed 28 degrees and I said, "Hell, no."  So, that's out of the way. Whew!

I do plan on posting more movie reviews, book reviews, and general jargon in 2018. I hope to attend some theater, symphonies, museum exhibits, and more. I'll give you peeks into the arts, and share the fun.

Write more?  Yes, it's a plan.

Fine writing, next to doing nothing, is the best thing in the world - John Keats

He did nothing; he was a poet - Sheila Mooney

I'm a lousy writer but a hellava lot of people have lousy taste - Grace Metalous (Peyton Place)

Let's have a laugh or two, and make the best of 2018.

Blog on!