Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Wednesday Wow - State Fair of Texas time

 Gorgeous Friday 10/5/18 at the great State Fair of Texas - 2018.  Ray and I began on the big Ferris wheel.  Whee!!!
 Auto show shiny
 Football rivalry - The Texas Longhorns vs Oklahoma  Sooners coming up that Saturday
 Yes, we ate our Fletcher's corny dogs. That's tradition
Just took a picture of one of the stands featuring a new fried concoction.  I went back to last year's winner - Fat Smooth - a fried beignet. It did not disappoint.

11 am to 7 pm - over 10K steps, and maybe 10K calories.  That's the Wednesday Wow - Texas does it up BIG

Monday, October 15, 2018

Book Review - There There by Tommy Orange

Tommy Orange’s first novel There There is a relentlessly paced multi-generational story about violence and recovery, memory and identity, and the beauty and despair woven into the history of a nation and its people. (cover blurb)

He intertwines twelve characters as they travel to the Big Oakland Pow wow. Each has their reasons – explore traditions, face their heritage, honor family, and question the life and plight of urban Native Americans.  Here is a voice we have never heard – a voice full of poetry and rage, exploding on to the page with stunning urgency and force.  (cover blurb) As a member of the Cheyenne and Apache tribes of Oklahoma, Tommy Orange explores complex history, writes of spirituality, and looks at addictions and abuse as he introduces his characters.  Each character is interesting and complex. They live in a world I’ve not seen, but I’m aware of from current news.

This work of fiction is quite strong, relevant, and thought provoking. I liked his writing and voice and the characters stuck with me even after the final page. There is a There There worth exploring.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Book Review - The Postmistress

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake offers two perspectives on the news in 1940.  First Iris James, as the postmistress in a coastal MA town, takes her duty quite seriously. However, one day, she slips a letter into her pocket, knowing she delays the inevitable but feels it’s for the best. She reads a heartbreaking letter and does not deliver it.  Meanwhile, Frankie Bard broadcasts overseas with Edward R. Murrow. She feels compelled to make sure Americans know what is happening in Europe. She doesn’t want folks to not believe that Nazi Germany is building evil and that it affects the world.

Cover blurb:  The Postmistress is a tale of two worlds – one shattered by violence, the other willfully na├»ve – of two women whose jobs are to deliver the news, yet who find themselves unable to do so. Through their eyes, and the eyes of everyday people caught in history’s ride, it examines how we tell each other stories, and how we bear the fact of war as we live ordinary lives.

This is a solid story with engaging writing. There’s a love story and a story of survival.   P. 351  A story like a snapshot is caught, held for a moment, then delivered. But the people in them go on and on. And what happens next? What happens?   This book has a sense of urgency and is a worthy read.  Another winner. I’ve been on a roll.

Thanks, Linda Hoffman – a friend, and a reader who shares her excellent finds.  Shout out, my friend!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A Simple Favor is a delicious, twisty turning fun film full of deception, beautiful people , a vlog, surprises, and friends? Anna Kendrick is Stephanie, super single mom who hosts her video blog, makes the best school food treats, and is conservatively eager to please. When son Miles and his friend Nicky beg for a play date, she agrees when Emily, the cold as ice beautiful Blake Lively, invites Stephanie over for a martini. “Momma needs a reset button.”  Oh my! 

Stephanie has never met anyone like Emily, who drinks, curses, wears power clothes, works in the city, has the hot author husband, and dares Stephanie to be bad. Then the phone call, “Can you pick up Nicky and take him after school for a bit? I’m swamped at work.”   One simple favor turns into days…where is Emily?  Stephanie posts her concern on her vlog. Shaun (the luscious Henry Golding) involves the police. What’s going on?  Then a body in a Michigan lake turns out to be Emily – DNA and tattoo match.  End of movie grieving?

Oh no. That was only the beginning. I won’t give more away. Grab the popcorn tub and hang on for a wild ride in suburbia. Good acting. Lots of twists. And several, “Say what?” moments.
Just A Simple Favor…that’s all. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Tuesday Thought

No, this does not sum up my birthday. I had a splendid Monday and the whole weekend.

This was a sign in front of the Hall of State in Fair Park - Dallas Texas. It's State Fair of Texas time. More pics next week. 

However, this one made me laugh.  Obviously they had a reason to post this. Most museum places say no food, no drink. That's rather clear.  But, no balloons???   Seriously?

Well, the Hall of State is a gorgeous Art Deco building with really high ceilings.  I'm guessing some poor fool came in with a helium balloon and let go.

Dang - just ruined balloons for everyone.

Happy Tuesday.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Birthday Salute to ME

 Today, October 8 - I'm officially truly older than dirt.
 I can remember black and white TV and clicking the three or four channels. I remember red dye and when cereal said "sugared" and meant it.  I remember "smoking" candy cigarettes in the kitchen while Dad had his one Camel.

 Ray and I did marry - Justice of the Peace, in jeans, then a fun party that night.
Picture on the right is my very casual author picture....Maybe I should update it.
And here I am with Ray in Cozumel, cruising onward.....I know less than I did back in the black and white era. Still questioning, still stumbling, still a left-handed, green-eyed gal from PA.  (a damn Yankee in TX)

Assuming I make it to Halloween, I will then have lived longer than my mother. That's mind blowing.

But cheers! I plan on eating chocolate cake and enjoying my whole birthday weekend - Friday and Monday off.  Go to the State Fair, hit a movie, celebrate with friends, and of course, hang with Ray.

Happy Birthday to ME......... Yikes!

Friday, October 5, 2018

Book Review - The Whole Town's Talking

Fannie Flagg has been around forever and her books read like an old friend stopped by to chat. The Whole Town’s Talking is a light breezy read that entertains.

Elmwood Springs, MO is home to the Nordstoms. Lorder moved there from Sweden, farmed, ordered a mail order bride – beloved Katrina, became the town’s first mayor, and chose the place on the hill for the cemetery.  Naturally he was the first to arrive at the resting place. And much to his surprise, he “woke up” and could hear town folk visit his grave. Soon other seniors passed away and joined him. All in all, Flagg keeps us posted through the decades on the folks who are alive and prospering, and the folks who die. Some pass too young – boys who went to Vietnam. Some arrive and are annoyed that they still have to hear the town talk (old man Henderson). Some arrive at the cemetery, participate, and then suddenly leave.

She mixes real life history with Elmwood Springs growth, and we enjoy the company of the founders, their offspring, and their grandchildren. This is Americana at its best – chatty, catty, generous, patriotic, and greedy. The author knows people and keeps her sense of humor as she regales us with town talk.  The Whole Town’s Talking is just plain fun – a good read on a rainy day that will keep you chuckling as you turn the pages.  After a few chapters, go stroll through your neighborhood and find something or someone to talk about. Make sure it’s good or juicy!  Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Wednesday Wow - more Cruise/ Cozumel Moments

 I like looking at the wake....zooming along at 20 knots or so
 Quaint charm in Cozumel

 Lush greenery thanks to a daily rain
and can't go wrong with a gorgeous sea sunrise

Happy look ahead to the weekend

Monday, October 1, 2018

Book Review - The Other Woman

The Other Woman by Daniel Silva
(cover blurb) She was his best kept secret – a mysterious Frenchwoman begins work on a dangerous memoir. It is a story of a man she once loved in the Beirut of old, and a child taken from her in treason’s name. The woman is the keeper of the Kremlin’s most closely guarded secret. Long ago, the KGB inserted a mole into the heart of the West – a mole who stands on the doorstep of ultimate power.

And of course who shall come to the rescue of civilization?  Gabriel Allon -  art restorer, assassin, chief of Israel secret intelligence – is back to reluctantly join in a quest to thwart treason, restore global order, and of course, arrive home safe to the arms of his lovely Italian wife, Chiara, and their twins. Gabriel is getting older, more world weary, and yet those deep green eyes burn when there are wrongs to be righted.

Daniel Silva knows how to keep pages turning. Double crosses. Twists. World travel locations. Whirlwind espionage with the strongest cast of characters around. I’ve written plenty of Silva reviews on this blog. Add The Other Woman to my list of compelling reads. Silva is scary current with a pulse on our fragile world situation. Reading his work is like having the key to our future. Now, who’s our Gabriel Allon? He can conquer the bad guys…gotta love fiction. (or scary truth?)  Enjoy!

Friday, September 28, 2018

Movie Review - The Wife

The Wife is a solid flick, maybe a tad predictable. BUT.  And this is a big BUT …watching Glenn Close is a master class in acting. She is compelling even when silent. Her eyes and face must be watched. Let Oscar races begin for fall.

Jonathan Pryce plays Joe, the author, awaiting a phone call from Sweden. Sure, enough he wins the Nobel Prize for Literature and who’s by his side? Joan (Glenn Close), the wife – ever supportive and caring through the years. So, the trek to Stockholm brings out family dynamics between Joe, his son, and Joan. Joe is vain, insecure, and has failing health. Joan is classy, smart, and stands in the corner watching the whole schmooze. We see flashbacks to when she met Joe at Smith College in 1958. She’s the talented student in literature. He’s the young, hot professor in a “bad” marriage. She marries, they have kids, he’s the talented author.

Oh, but there’s more to that story. We gain insight as Christian Slater (a reporter, biographer) asks probing questions about Joe and Joan. He has theories about the body of work and success of Joe. You can see where this is all headed, but it’s worth the 100 minute journey just to watch Glenn Close. Good lines, good pauses, blue eyes that can flash anger, signal disappointment, smile, and show fierce determination. The Wife, the wife – a woman to be reckoned with, not to be taken lightly.  Tight film and excellent performances. As an author/writer, I enjoyed the literature aspect of this movie.
Solid B for bravo acting.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Wednesday Wows

 fave thing on the Cozumel cruise - the treat that greets us when we come to our room
 very clever towel art
 our room steward on the Carnival Valor was awesome
 a morning poolside with a lot of towel creatures
 a close up

Monday, September 24, 2018

Book Review - Unmasked by Andrew Lloyd Weber

Unmasked by Andrew Lloyd Weber is part one of his memoir.  Oh it’s a bit much. The man goes into far too much detail of his childhood, and he does blather a bit. BUT, this book is immensely skim worthy. He’s chatty in the humorous British way – he can be snarky and you, the reader, do feel like you are at tea or perhaps a bar and he’s regaling you with stories. So, it’s a fun book if you are interested in all things Weber and theater.

His behind the scenes look at the London stage and Broadway is fascinating. The amount of work involved in putting on a show is amazing. And certainly , his successes are not to be sneered at, nor does he shy away from the failures in his book. He dishes on various people and his collaborations with deep talent – Tim Rice, Robert Stigwood, Harold Prince, Cameron McIntosh, and Trevor Nunn. There are plenty of details on his first hit – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, the fabulous Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, the groundbreaking Cats, and he ends this book with the history dazzling Phantom of the Opera.

He’s obviously a brilliantly talented man with interests in architecture and music. His witty anecdotes of numerous celebrities  - Sarah Brightman, Judi Dench, Mandy Patinkin, Patti LuPone, Michael Crawford, Betty Buckley, and more will keep you turning pages. There’s a lot to be learned and shared in Unmasked.  If you like theater, this is a book for you. If you’ve seen Phantom more than once…this book is for you. If you are a T.S Elliott Cats fan….well, read for the Memory….like I said, you can skim and hum and chuckle along.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Book Review - Calypso by David Sedaris

David Sedaris is one of my favorite writers and his latest book, Calypso, does not disappoint. He’s hilarious. His observations on people and life can be a tad rude, and yet spot on.  From the cover blurb – This is beach reading for people who detest beaches, required reading for those who loathe small talk, and love a good tumor joke. Calypso is simultaneously Sedaris’ darkest and warmest book yet – it is comedy born out of that vertiginous moment when your own body betrays you and you realize that the story of your life is made up of more past than future.

His twist of phrase, his timing, and his family dynamics will keep you turning the pages. In each essay, you feel like he’s just hanging out telling stories. I’ve been to one of his author talks and that’s worth the price of admission in itself. He’s quirky and knows it and can laugh at himself.

He’s bought a beach house and family can gather. Oh, the stories there…and his thoughts too -
p.13  When visitors leave, I feel like an actor watching the audience file out of the theater, and it was no different with my sisters.  The show over, Hugh and I returned to lesser versions of ourselves.

p.67 I’m not sure how it is in small families, but in large ones relationships tend to shift over time. You might be best friends with one brother or sister, then two years later, it might be someone else. It doesn’t mean you’ve fallen out….just that you’ve merged into someone else’s lane. The beauty of it is that it’s always changing.

p.91  Memory aside, the negative just makes for a better story: the plane was delayed, an infection set in, outlaws arrived.  Happiness is harder to put into words.

Well I can state that David Sedaris makes me happy. His writing is just different in a good way. He’s funny and also can be poignant, then hit a snarky note that’s perfect.
Catch that Calypso beat.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Wednesday Wows

 Ray's company Knight Electronics treated the company to a cruise from Galveston TX to Cozumel Mexico. Very generous.   Here we are on our beach day at a nice little private resort beach
 Ray had his margaritas. I'm a Corona gal.  Tasted good after a swim, snorkel, and accompanied by chips, queso, and fajitas. Yum!
 Later, sunset Saturday night
 Sunrise Monday morning
back at the beach - a little Day of the Dead friends saying Adios

Monday, September 17, 2018

Book Review - The Book of Polly

The Book of Polly by Kathy Hepinstall is a hoot.  This book has Southern flair, a dynamo heroine, and a unique family.   I chuckled out loud multiple times, and was also surprised at very simple twists and turns.  I think the cover blurb gives you the full flair and gist of the book:

Ten year-old Willow Haven is obsessed with the fear that her mother, Polly, will die. Polly – a take-no-prisoners Southerner who lives to drink margaritas and antagonize the neighbors in their small Texas town – was in her late fifties when Willow was born. Willow knows she’s here by accident, and she is desperate for clues about all that preceded her, especially Polly’s secret past.  The Book of Polly is a hilarious and bittersweet story about the grip of love in a truly quirky family – it’s a page turning battle royale…where the weapon of choice is love.

A friend lent me this book. I recommend you look for it in your library or, what the heck, find it on Amazon. It’s got heart and humor – a fun summer read.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Soar with Superman at the Symphony

Went to the nicest show last Saturday. The Fort Worth Symphony presented an abbreviated version of their regular program at 11 am. As part of the Family series, it was the Superhero, Juniors. Kids could wear their costumes - lots of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. ( I wore my Underdog T-shirt. Yeah, I'm that old). The show was only 45 minutes - just right for ages 4 to teen. Ticket prices were $15.00.!

The place was packed. This was a bargain and so entertaining. The conductor gave great intros to the tunes. He had folks clap who were first time symphony goers  - there were a lot. It was an excellent way to let folks see and hear a symphony in a relaxed environment. And frankly, the place stayed quiet. You could hear some kid voices and questions, but in their "indoor" voices.

The themes soared - Captain America, Avengers, Wonder Woman, a step back to Lone Ranger, Batman, and I enjoyed the Incredibles music. And of course the finale was Hans Zimmer's creation Man of Steel....Superman.

Look in your own backyard - the arts are not unobtainable. And I had to smile - two little boys behind me kept asking their dad before the show began, "Is this only music?  Really...and we have to sit still? No videos?"   They did sit still and they did enjoy the "only music".

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Movie Review Madness - Searching

Searching is quite different in a good way. We first meet the Kim family via pictures, videos, their phone interaction. We see the good times and sadly the bad, as the mother gets reminders for doctor appointments, and then is in the hospital, and then she’s gone. From there the movie depicts life in texts with the dad played by John Cho and his daughter Margot, a high school student. Only child, pianist, gets decent grades. The interaction via facetime and texts seem “normal”.  That is until, Margot doesn’t respond. And then she’s not home. And very quickly Dad is worried. He phones the police, alerts are put out, and the detective (played by Debra Messing) suggests he dig deeper into  her phone and laptop. Find friends, get the scoop.

Keep in mind, this movie is playing out with us seeing computer/phone/facetime/facebook/ etc.responses. Sounds weird, but it works. And as he digs he questions if he even knows his daughter. I won’t give away any more, but of course there is banking, money flow. There’s a lot of questions for boys and girls alike – who knew Margot? There’s questions on data manipulation and friendships made on the internet – what’s real or not?

Searching has a ton of twists and turns and the suspense builds with each text, each new finding, each new avenue on the internet. John Cho is excellent as the very worried father. You want him to keep digging, don’t give up, and trust me you’ll be jumping to conclusions yourself. Who did it? Where is Margot?  I suggest you seek out a theater and find out.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Monday Moments Part 2

 More from a Sunday stroll at the arboretum in August

 pure poetry in the Poetry Garden
 C'mon everybody, be free
Be a whirlwind today!

Friday, September 7, 2018

Dedicated to Teachers

By now, everyone should be back to school, back in the trenches, back in fall work mode.
Vacation is over. Beach towels are washed and put in the cupboard.

Pencils sharpened, new school shoes still unscuffed, peanut butter sandwiches cut in quarters taste yummy.

Good luck to all the teachers out there. Despite the administration b.s., you hang in with lesson plans, tolerance, and humor. You care. And you try.  And you try to make the kids care.

Teaching is a tough profession.  I liked this picture above that I nabbed off Facebook.

I wish for a calm 2018-2019 school year for all.

Teach in/and Peace

The trouble with every one of us is that we don't think enough...knowledge is the result of thought - 
    Thomas J. Watson Sr. - Former CEO of IBM

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

I am excited to be a part of 

Where in the World Blogfest

thanks to an invite by Sherry Ellis 

Prompt: If you could go through the Earth and end up in another country, where would you go?

Australia (again)
 Lovely country, wonderful people, and so much variety. I need more time in Sydney, Melbourne, and I want to visit the west coast. G'day mate)

but that's just me. Let's see what happens with:

Page Count: 93 
Digital Price: 3.99 
Print Price: 7.95


BLURB: Squirt doesn’t believe Bubba can dig a hole to China. But when the hole swallows them, the kids find themselves in Xi’an, China, surrounded by Terracotta Warriors.

It gets worse when the ghost of the first emperor of China appears. He tells them they can’t go home until they find his missing pi. The kids don’t know where to begin until they meet a girl and her grandmother who promise to help find the pendant.

Soon they realize they are being followed. And they are no closer to finding the missing pi. Will Bubba and Squirt ever make it back home?

About the Author: Sherry Ellis is an award-winning author and professional musician who plays and teaches the violin, viola, and piano. When she is not writing or engaged in musical activities, she can be found doing household chores, hiking, or exploring the world. Ellis, her husband, and their two children live in Atlanta, Georgia.

Author Links:

Sounds like quite an adventure for kids to enjoy. Sherry's writing brightens a day.
Get your copy now!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Happy Anniversary Ray

Happy 29th Anniversary, Ray.   
Love of my life
We have so much fun with more to come

Enjoy your dove hunt weekend.
We can celebrate any day of the year, and we do!

September 1, 1989 - September 1, 2018
Dang, that's a long time