Sunday, July 26, 2009

Jolly Mystery at the Jubilee

Talent overflows in the Fort Worth area. You just have to poke your head around corners, put a name on the waiting list on a Saturday evening, and celebrate with jubilation when the name is called. Preview night at the Jubilee Theatre ( proved to be a hoot. Sam Shade: A Detective Musical had us chasing the Maltese Chicken, and no we aren't talking Chinese food.
And "No, don't do it Sam, don't sing." Sure enough, the leading man never got a number, but he kept everyone else around him singing a fine tune. Comedy, drama, and a heartfelt love song by the lascivious secretary, Lucy Lipschlitz (amazing voice of Sheran G. Keyton) kept the audience alternately laughing and applauding. Two standouts for me were Major A. Attaway and Aaron D. Petite (they played versions of the Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre Falcon characters).
All in all, kudos to playwright/composer Joe Rogers for imagination and creativity. Bravos to the fine singers, dancers, and actors of the Jubilee organization. It was an entertaining Saturday night and thanks to the city of Fort Worth/Sundance Square for FREE parking.
Support local theater: Sam Shade runs 7/31/09 thru 8/23/09 at the Jubilee Theatre
You know, "life is a mystery".

Friday, July 24, 2009

Idol Idle Word Splash

Once in awhile, as a writer, it is good to emerge from the darkness of the writer cocoon and see what the heck America is up to. (yeah - dangling preposition - so what?) American Idol is a phenomenon for Fox television and music in general. I watch when the show hits the top ten because usually you are witnessing some talented kids. And yes, I've bought some CDs and enjoyed singers (not necessarily winners) from Idol. Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, and believe or not, Elliott Yamin have entertaining discs.
Well, a month or so ago, a friend Evelyn called to say she and Linda were going to get tickets for the 2009 tour. "You want to join in? It was a great batch of kids." Sure. Last night, 7/23, I witnessed America screaming, America squealing, America opening its purse strings and forking out dough for tickets, parking, food, and souvenirs. Forget the electric bill - America is paying for entertainment - and to see Adam Lambert. Oh yeah, Kris Allen won. Nice kid. Plays guitar and piano. But, who's kicking ass with Led Zeppelin? Who's singing a totally amazing version of "Mad World"? Who's bringing down the house with Fame and Let's Dance a la David Bowie? It's Adam Lambert - 2nd place. The kid is amazing and can sing.
Kudos to 5th place Matt - he has practiced and really pulled it together on the piano. Very enjoyable set. 4th place - Allison, age 17 - massive lung power. She rocked Heart's "Baracuda".
Like the Olympics - post skating - where the kids just skate for fun and are awesome, this show brought out the real talent of these singers in a relaxed setting. Sure, it's a new set of pressure, but these performers are thriving. Yeah, it's business. But heck yeah - it's fun. More power to American Idol for keeping the entertainment industry humming. Some might say it's a sell out or too commercial. Nah - I say - it's America. The good will rise to the top, the bad - eh, not so much. The almighty dollar speaks, and that's okay.
More music talk to come - stay tuned for summer sizzling videos and cds.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

It Could Be Rubbish

Movie review time. This whole week represents summertime fun. Movie on Sunday and here's my thoughts on it below. Moon Day on Monday. See American Idol tour tonight - so music discussion coming up soon. I'm on a full entertainment splash. It's summer time!

I did watch the ABC special on J.K.Rowling and it showed her typing the final words to The Deathly Hollows, the grand finale book. She sorta sighed and wistfully said, "It could be rubbish." slight pause...."But I'm happy. I wanted to know what happened to Harry, and I'm pleased."

That sums up the writing process - the author wants to find out what happens to her characters. Then she hopes you want to do so too.

So, here's my review that appears in the Little Paper of San Saba:

It's the sixth Harry Potter film and this reviewer thinks the series gets better and better. "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" is amazing filmmaking, excellent acting, and deep characterizations. At this point, you can't just wander into a Harry Potter film and catch up. Best to read all of the books (by J.K.Rowling) in order because they are a magical experience indeed. Or, if you must skip reading (sigh), then watch all of the films in order. The series has been building and now we are deep into Harry's teen years. He's almost a senior at Hogwarts School of Wizardry, he's finding love, and he's dabbling in stronger and stronger potions. His mentor Albus Dumbledore is leading Harry to find the clues, to find the way to battle and win against the ultimate evil - Lord Voldemort. (Ssshhhh! Don't say his name.)

The special effects in this film leave me awestruck. The amazing cast of British actors is a lesson in diction, phrasing, and delivery. Alan Rickman as Snape - oh so dark, oh so cunning. Michael Gambon as Dumbledore - so kind, so intelligent,so imposing. Maggie Smith - inimitable. A new addition to the ranks - Jim Broadbent as Professor Slughorn, ever masterful. Helena Bonham Carter as Belatrix - dark mistress and a total wack-a-do. The kids have grown and frankly have learned to act - they are quite good and have added depth to their characters. Daniel Radcliff is Harry, Rupert Grint is Ron, and Emma Watson is Hermione. I won't forget to mention Hagrid, played by Robbie Coltrane - that loveable mountain of a man.

So, too many plot points to mention. Harry's potion book was used and signed by The Half Blood Prince. Whoever that was, was brilliant, giving Harry clues to better his magic and spells. Dumbledore has Harry looking into the memory bowl to see Tom Riddle as the odd but genius child who grew into the master of the dark arts - Voldemort. He's the one who killed Harry's parents and many more and now seeks Harry. This episode of the series explores friendships, new found loves, and loyalty. It truly all comes down to good and evil with love the key to survival. The final book in the series is "The Deathly Hallows" and it is being split into two films. Potter fanatics are disturbed by this. I can, however, see it play out into two hugely strong films. There's a lot of action to come and frankly, shouldn't be crammed into one flick.

Thus, see "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince", and enjoy the buildup to the greatest battle of Harry's life. This film will keep you wanting more, and it will come in a year or two. Whew! See it on the big screen. This is worth admission, drinks, and popcorn. Kudos to a magical world.

(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons under the Wand category)


Monday, July 20, 2009

Any Excuse for Cake

You never know what will occur where I work. Sometimes we set things on fire, sometimes we break things on purpose, and we do check parts for corrosion.
We also have fun, and my boss is a space and lunar lunatic (in a good way). Thus, to honor the 40th anniversary of the lunar landing and moonwalk, he and his wife hosted a neighborhood party. Fortunately employees did get to eat lemon cake (see above) and homemade ice cream.
He was also asking folks to give their tale of that day. What did they remember? Well, I was ten years old and clueless. Absolutely zero interest at that time. I do remember my father stayed up to watch Neil Armstrong take his step. Sunday night I watched a salute to the late Walter Cronkite and I think I've watched enough video of his space program reports through the years, that it is as if I remember watching the whole thing live.
To this day, it is an amazing feat and certainly an event worthy of delicious cake. I've read my current issue of Time magazine - cover story is the moonwalk. I should probably read a memoir or two from these famous astronauts. Plus there's plenty of music as a backdrop - Elton John's Rocket Man, David Bowie's Space Oddity, The Police Walking on the Moon, Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, plus Moon River, Fly Me to the Moon, and more.
What are your moon memories? Or pick a favorite moon song..........Just don't take moon day literally. We don't need any neighborhood or workplace incidents!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friends in a Juried Art Show

I was excited to get an email the other day from my good friend JB Harlin. He and his wife are talented photographers - I'm talking true art here, from the school of Ansel Adams or Edward Weston. Anyway - could get exciting in the Harlin household. Both JB and his wife, Susan, have a photograph selected. Here's a copy of the email announcement:

Hello Everyone,
Hope summer is not baking everyone as badly as here in North Texas. On a cooler note, Susan and I have each had a photograph selected for the 2009 TAC Juried Membership Show at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center. We would like to extend an invitation for anyone interested to join us Friday August 7th for the competition reception and awards presentation. For more information please visit our BLOG. . .

As always, thanks for your support,JB & Susan

So, check out their blog and let me know your opinion on the pics. The crispness of their black and white photographs, the subtle shades of gray, the nuances into the depths of nature. I generally go Wow! and Wow! again as I realize the richness of their work.

Personally I'm hoping they tie for first place! Good luck you two and thanks for sharing your art with us. The show will be at the FW Community Arts Center for the month of August. Stop by.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Winning Words!

Wrote a dark little story, under 500 words, followed all of the rules, and I WON! I submitted back in February and Sunday night I received this happy email. Whee!!!!!!!!!!!

It's funny. I think of myself as more of a humor writer, but all of the literary journals have deep meaningful stories, with sorrow and shattered lives. As my father said, "Comedies don't win Oscars." He's right. And sure enough, my sad little tale WON.

Thanks to all my friends and family who support me.

Dear Friends of Portia Steele:
Congratulations! You are a winner in the 2009 Portia Steele Awards "Excellence in Poetry and Prose" competition.
You can see your place in the competition at the following webpage: and click on the date under Prose and Poetry winners label. Just click on the year 2009.
-- or -- go directly to the winners page
Once you've visited this webpage, you can click on the title of your work. It's been published on our website.
Over the next couple of weeks, you will receive the winners' certificate. First place winners will receive $100.
I want to thank all of you for your participation in our contest. It was most enjoyable reading your works, and even more enjoyable recognizing you as winners in our 2009 competition. Please be sure to keep an eye on our website for the 2010 announcement. Next year, the rules will be a bit different. I think you'll find them interesting and a challenge to your writing skills.
Dennis Steele
President, Founder and Trustee, Portia Steele Awards Foundation.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Heated Words

After a heatstroke inducing trip to Arizona one year (Honest to God, the GPS lost its mind - had no clue where it was in the hot car), we did come away with one awesome idea - misters. My handy husband said, "I can do that" and indeed installed connective hoses on our patio overhang. Now in crazy heatstroke inducing Texas summer, we turn on the mister system and cool down poolside. It works - physically and mentally.

Let's talk about hot movies. One of my favorites is Body Heat, starring William Hurt, Kathleen Turner, and Ted Danson. My favorite line from Mattie is "You're not too smart are you? I like that in a man." Oh baby. And when she steps out onto the patio with all the windchimes - indeed, you think it'll be a breath of fresh air. But the tinkling chimes only beckon you to the hair dryer effect.

How about A Time to Kill - Ashley Judd and Matthew McC. spritzing all over the place in Mississippi. Good read by John Grisham, decent flick.

The Long Hot Summer - classic Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. There's acting royalty steaming up the screen.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - Elizabeth Taylor as Maggie the cat, and again Paul Newman. Meow

White Heat - can't go wrong with classic Jimmy Cagney

Here's proof folks - the temp at 5:21 pm on Sat. 7/11 was 104 F on our patio. I'm afraid the wireless sensor could implode soon.

Hot television - F/X features Rescue Me on Tuesday nights. Sure there's plenty of sexual heat outside the firehouse, but frankly the dialogue in the firehouse is snappy, snarky, and hilarious. Great writing.

Starting soon on AMC - Mad Men 1960s Madison Avenue advertising. Slick sets, great characters and writing, plus January Jones with Jon Hamm. It doesn't get much hotter.

So, there's plenty of ways to cool off and survive the heat. There's always Fargo - probably one of the snow whitest, coldest looking sets for a movie. But sharp, funny, sick (in a good way) dialogue with Bill Macy and Frances McDormand - cool, very cool filmmaking.

Tell me your HOT picks for summer.........books, tv, movies - old and new............


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Water cooler chat

Gotta love the English language - "slangs, puns, and putdowns - freshly minted coinages from the white-hot furnace of electronic culture." (1)

Time spent on Facebook - Social notworking.

Brickor mortis - dried up housing market.

Daylighting - work a second job while on the clock for your first job.

Cramer-Krasselt, a Chicago ad agency compiles a zeitgeist dictionary and their new words zap into life as we know it.

I laughed out loud at textually frustrated, ecconoisseur, and enoughism, off gridding - lots of words identified by "societal trends, such as sin vs. salvation spending." (2)

Language is ever-evolving and phrases for 2009 will no doubt disappear by 2010 only to be replaced by a pack of new idioms. Writers - keep this in mind for book characters who want to stay cool and trendy.

(1, 2) Thanks to the Dallas Morning News Business section for their article "Making Light of Language" (June 28, 2009).

One final painful term - steeply devalued retirement account: 201K
Arrrgghh - I'm not laughing now.


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Post 4th Fizzle or Sizzle

Fugitives from the law - Ray lit my killer bees fireworks and we had a little mini-display without setting ourselves on fire. We did enjoy the City of Bedford's display from our front yard - could see the show zoom into the sky from the Boy's Ranch. Thumbs up on the ooh! and aah! factor.
The week after July 4, 1776 must have been a huge letdown for the major players as they clopped on horseback back to the farm or awaited reviews in the local press. Sweating under powdered wigs and smiling for the local citizens who questioned ones wisdom and words must have been a drag. What would our Revolutionary heroes make of today’s interactive, instant news world? Would the Declaration of Independence have been written and signed or would it have been tweaked with blog leaks and twittered commentary?

I think Ben Franklin’s Facebook page would have been incredibly popular and he’d have been reprimanded dearly for keeping his cell phone on ring. Thomas Jefferson’s blog would have a lot of folks bragging that they read it, but none that could understand his esoteric treatise on democracy and freedom. George Washington’s huge fan base would have everyone in Philly tweeting about his whereabouts. Finally, there’s poor John Adams - nary a comment or friend. (Abigail, on the other hand…)

Social networking certainly has its place, but when it comes to great writing and deep thinking, it is best to turn to solitude. Whether by the glow of the computer screen, or the flicker of candlelight, writers should contemplate quiet and history, dig deep, and then let the words click, the ink flow. Oh, the pen is mighty. Yes, create your platform and your outlets, but make sure your words live up to the hype. This was true in 1776 and now in today’s 2009 world.
Enjoy July and make it sizzle, not fizzle

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

july fireworks preparation

Pristine pool. Glorious red, white, and blue. God Bless America.

Our trumpet vine has finally decided to blare - blast it's orange color. We keep it very contained on one fence. It is pernicious and tries to take hold everywhere. Tough, hardy, rather like Texans in July - refusing to fade in 100 degree heat. Wait, we've had a cold spell - only 90 yesterday. Guess it's been a tad steamy overseas at Wimbledon. I love watching grass court tennis. Go Roger Federer, the Swiss steamroller. And as of today, the Williams sisters are on their way to perhaps meeting in the final. Fireworks, indeed!

Yard art - thought this little wire flag was cool and could brighten our back corner.

I'm normally not allowed near a match, but I managed to light my sparklers without setting me or the yard or the house on fire. I wanted to set this up so I could then snap a picture. Had to work quickly, but the shot turned out okay. Sparklers are my favorite and I have a ton of them for this weekend. Also, some killer bees - they sounded cool when I bought them. Ray shall be in charge of that match!
Here's a little thought for the weekend courtesy of the late actress Tallulah Bankhead: Never practice two vices at once.
Happy 4th of July weekend!!!!