Friday, July 27, 2012

Book Review: My Formerly Hot Life

The subtitle for My Formerly Hot Life by Stephanie Dolgoff is Dispatches from just the Other Side of Young. The title caught my eye and the writing struck my funny bone. When the author's on a train and a good looking man asks for the time and that's truly all he wants is the time, Ms. Dolgoff realizes that something has shifted in her life and she's not sure that she likes it. While she's happily married and has children, it dawned on her that somehow you have crossed an invisible line: You are not young, relevant, in the mix woman you used to be. But neither are you old, or even what you think of as middle aged. You are no longer what you were, and not quite sure what you are.  (book jacket blurb)

Indeed, friendships, fashion, beauty, body image, and marriage are topics for her wit and insight. She discusses formerly thin, formerly cool, fomerly carefree, and how so much that seemed important in the twenties is looked upon fondly. However, being comfortable and content and not up on the latest club scene makes sense now. Her chapter on three friends trying to coordinate a "girls night out" is hilarious. The recovery time from "fun" takes so much longer as a formerly.

P. 104 on swimsuits: I tried a few tankinis which are like assisted-living facilities you go to before you need the round-the-clock nursing home type care of the Miraclesuit.

p.155 on having a fit: I operated under the mistaken belief that I had a designated numerical size , which was usually two sizes smaller than my actual body, and it was my full-time job to try to make my body fit into 'my size'. I could have simply bought bigger clothes.

As a Formerly, I no longer labor under this truly cruel misconception.

Jacket blurb: while you may no longer be as close to the media-machine generated idea of fabulous, you can do many, many more things fabulously.

My Formerly Hot Life is a light quick read and relevant for all women - those who were a formerly and those approaching formerly, and yes, the young ladies who can't imagine they'll ever be a formerly. Laughs all around.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Author Talk: Daniel Silva

 Saturday July 21st, the Dallas Museum of Art hosted a special Arts & Letters Live event with author Daniel Silva. I have not read his new novel The Fallen Angel yet, but I'm a follower of lead character Gabriel Allon's adventures and I look forward to an exciting thriller. However, the talk delved much deeper - Silva's research, travels, world economic and political chat, and his view of publishing today were all on the evening's menu. We enjoyed appetizing plot teasers as well as deep dish opinions.
Mr. Silva began writing as a Middle East correspondent. After returning to Washington and working for CNN, he began his first novel, The Unlikely Spy. It wasn't until his fourth, The Kill Artist, that he created Gabriel Allon - an art restorer and Israeli secret agent. Now with his fifteenth book, Silva still doesn't bore us. He blends art, smuggling, danger, and world threatening secrets. Espionage, intrigue, and fascinating characters are the hallmarks of Silva's novels.

When asked, "Which is harder - writing the book or doing the book tour?" Mr. Silva laughed, paused, and said, "Well......I like meeting the readers, but the actual travel is a beating." He proceeded to tell some funny travel horror stories from his current tour. It's not glamorous.

Because the publishing industry is demanding, he'll return after Labor Day and hunker down to work on the next novel with the expectation that it will be completed by March 2013. He writes seven days a week, full work hours. His research is thorough and his editing precise.

He personally is not keen on social network expectations and prefers paper to e-books.  He works alone and doesn't "understand the idea of writer critique groups. I'm not reading my work to a bunch of people." Silva does run words by his wife, but otherwise, he relies on his own ability as a writer to produce product.

Daniel Silva was a delightful interview. His sense of humor and his obvious intelligence gave the audience a well-rounded sense of a quiet talented man. If you haven't read any of Silva's books, seek one out now and you'll be hooked.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Winter in July

 Here's a fluff piece for a super hot July day in Texas. Supposed to 108 degrees F by six tonight. Whew! Our pool's a spa. Thus, let's go back to early July in Clearwater Florida. Ray and I headed to the Clearwater Aquarium, which specializes in aquatic animal rescue, rehab, and release.
 Winter is the famous dolphin featured in A Dolphin's Tale. Found as a baby caught in a net, wounded - survival was doubtful. However, the creature persevered. Then with the creation of a prosthetic tail, Winter thrives, swims like a pro, and is a hero to many. The research involved has helped in producing better prosthetic limbs for soldiers. We never did see Winter, but the documentary at the aquarium is a tearjerker - very impressive story.
This is Panama and it delighted the crowd with dolphin antics. Anything for a treat. The Clearwater Aquarium offers a lot of teaching moments for young kids. They are a non-profit organization, ever vigilant in the care of our precious sea creatures.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Book Review: father's day by Buzz Bissinger

Twenty four years ago, twin boys were born to Buzz and Debra Bissinger. Three minutes made the difference for Gerry, now a graduate student at Penn, and Zach, a special needs young man. Three minutes made a difference for a marriage (ended) and perceptions of fatherhood and life.

Buzz Bissinger decides to take a road trip with Zach, now twenty four, from Philadelphia to Los Angeles to learn about his son and ultimately himself. Throw perceptions and assumptions out the car window. Buzz discovers that Zach's world has a certain logic and that Zach is growing, patient, kind, fearless, and is a hardworking (at Target) young man of character (who's uncanny with maps and directions - highly useful on a road trip).

The author of father's day writes a book full of insight, humor and reality. As father and son revisit their past, old friends, and voluntarily go to Odessa, TX (Buzz claims this has to be a travel first), they talk, encounter frustrations, enjoy amusement parks, and bond. Zach loves his father at total face value - that shines through. Buzz discovers deeper layers of love, rids himself of guilts, and truly respects Zach for his uniqueness.

Three minutes does define a life, but never in the way I had always imagined. So many times I never thought I would get there. But we are a family, all different, sometimes divided, sometimes in pain, but unconquerable. Father's Day.   Buzz Bissinger

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Nora Ephron: Great Writing Remembered

Salute to Nora Ephron (1941-2012)

Nora Ephron wrote for the everyday woman, and yet she raised our own thoughts and words into a magical blend of wit, feminism, and intimacy. She achieved success as an essayist, journalist, screenwriter, director, novelist, and playwright. Ephron wrote with warmth and her extraordinary voice shone through. Her romantic comedies - When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and You've Got Mail allowed characters to bemoan their own fates. She demonstrated that true romance is hilarious and crushing and melodramatic and preposterous all at once (EW 7/13/12)

Her Oscar nominated screemplay for Silkwood, co-written with Alice Arlen, could have been overwrought and self-righteous in its subject matter. Instead, it showed nuclear industry whistle-blower Karen Silkwood as a real person, flawed, and yet looking to do right. Her novel, Heartburn, was a thinly disguised tale of her marriage breakup to journalist Carl Bernstein. Heartbreak and adultery could never be funnier. When Harry Met Sally kicked romantic comedy scripts to a higher standard, and holds up today after twenty plus years. Julia and Julia was Ephron's final film as writer and director. Love, cooking, and Julia Child were combined to create one of Meryl Streep's finest performances and a worthy word bouillabaisse.

It seemed as if Nora Ephron wrote effortlessly. No wasted words, no overdramatic scenes. Just little insights, funny asides, and clever wordplay. It all added up to a great collection of work, memorable characters, and a secret desire to be her friend. You just knew dinner conversation with Nora would be sparkling, witty, and fun. With her passing, we've lost a valuable writer role model.
Here are snippets:

Above all, be the heroine in your life, not the victim - Wellesley College commencement address, 1996

The Godfather is the I Ching. The Godfather is the sum of all wisdom. The Godfather is the answer to any question. What should I pack for my summer vacation? "Leave the gun, take the cannoli". Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) in You've Got Mail

Destiny is something we've invented because we can't stand the fact that everything that happens is accidental - Annie Reed (Meg Ryan) in Sleepless in Seattle

To spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible - Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) in When Harry Met Sally

In my sex fantasy, nobody ever loves me for my mind - Crazy Salad:Some Things About Women

I look out the window and I see the lights and the skyline and the people on the street rushing around looking for action, love, and the greatest chocolate chip cookie, and my heart does a little dance - Heartburn

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Spider Man - Amazingly Familiar

Amazing Spider Man is not a total retread. It's been ten years since Tobey Maguire starred as Spider Man and now he's been usurped by Andrew Garfield. Andrew brings more awkwardness, emotion, and teen angst. Tobey only had one expression. Andrew is darn cute, bumbling, and sad. Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane never really clicked for me. Emma Stone (one of the best young actresses today) is superb as Gwen Stacy. She and Andrew are hot on screen (and off apparently) and their screen pairing works.

We meet Peter Parker as a young boy, just as his parents need to flee. He's left with Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen - so good) and Aunt May (Sally Field - best aunt ever). The kid has issues and we see him again in high school, ever the outsider, picked on by bullies, and wanting a connection to this past. He finds an old briefcase of his fathers and the secret papers with the key formula for cross species connection. Uh-oh. He looks up his father's old partner, played well by Rhys Ifans, and trouble ensues. Ifan's is on the brink of being shut down. Obviously Robert Parker was the brilliant scientist and Connor's the coattail partner. Well, now Connors is looking to use himself as the human study - trying to regenerate his arm. The experiment goes awry, of course, and he becomes a huge lizard terrorizing New York.
Meanwhile, Peter wandered around the lab, slipped into a restricted area, and got bit by a spider. Suddenly he doesn't know his own strength, can spin webs with his hands, and soar from rooftop to rooftop. He's the amazing spiderman vigilante, whether at school or on the streets - he's searching for answers. The only person to know his secret is Gwen, and she's the daughter of the captain of the NY police (played as always with wry humor by Denis Leary). There are a lot of issues with Peter/Spiderman/cops/good and bad.

Great action sequences, solid character development, a steady family situation with Aunt May wondering what the heck is going on with her teen nephew. Budding romance with some nice kisses and teen heat. The Amazing Spider Man is familiar and new at the same time. It provides worthy summer entertainment, and sets us up for sequels. Treat yourself to a tub of popcorn and enjoy a decent family movie. Be caught in the web of movie magic.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer Movie Magic Named Mike

Magic Mike's advertising looks like a total chick flick cheesefest party. Well, it is a chick flick - seriously ladies, only go with a group of women. Do not foist this film upon your man. But, it's not cheesy. It has a plot, dialogue, and ultimately characters you care about and sure, it's HEA - Happily Ever After.

Based on Channing Tatum's life before acting, we meet Mike as he rolls out of bed. There's a collective gasp from the audience (theater full of women) as we absorb his backside beauty. Oh my! Onward to a club featuring Matthew McC. as the club owner Dallas. He's so sleazy and perfect in this role, and he's got a body that won't stop.

Channing's character Mike does construction, furniture building, and many other businesses on the side. But his key cash is from the stripping job and he's the star. He does end up pulling in The Kid, Adam, who's a nineteen year old with no direction or motivation or ability to hold a job. The Kid seems to attract the women and slowly learns how to strip. I personally think he's the weak link in this film. I didn't find him sexy or alluring or wanted to take him under my wing. I'm not sure what young actor today would have been better, but think about it when you watch the film and offer a suggestion. Channing and Matthew pop off the screen with heat. This kid barely registers a temperature for this critic.

The kid's sister, Brook, is very protective and totally different from any woman Mike has dated. She looks like a normal attractive young lady and works as a medical assistant. I liked her in this film and rooted for her as she dismissed Mike as a "thirty year old stripper going nowhere." Ouch, that hurt. Mike thinks he's going to be an equity partner when Dallas expands to Miami. Hmmm, think again. Did I mention the word sleazy? Yep.

The dance numbers sizzle and all of the other actors in the film are mere eye candy in comparision to Channing and Matthew. There are whoops at times from the audience and it makes the whole movie experience fun. Ultimately, stuff gets a bit serious, and gee - stripping with the indulgence of late nights, drinking, and drugs ain't pretty. This is for mature audiences only. Magic Mike is summer fun and a great night out for gals. Channing Tatum is growing as an actor, and he sure is darn good looking. Whew! It's not just temperatures outside that are heating up........go see Magic Mike for a summer screen explosion.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Still Lazy: Life's a Beach

 Back from Clearwater, Florida.  Nothing beats white sand, clear water, cabana boys, and lots to read
 Here was the view from my chair. We used tons of sunscreen and rented chairs and umbrella. Still got burned a bit, but gosh, it was worth it. Hmmm - which direction shall we walk this morning? Hmmm - which direction this afternoon?  Two magazines, a paperback, and multiple Kindle reads later, I was content. Ray and I vied for the laziness award.
 I can report that total strangers were discussing their reads - Yep, Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy definitely topped the list for women from what I can tell.  I heard, " It's poorly written, but I can't stop reading."
Yep - I read the first one on my Kindle and cringed. Yet I admit to clicking through and wondering what was going to happen - I haven't chosen to pay for more.   I will recommend Roni Loren's  Crash Into You - same ero-rom com genre but well written with interesting characters. It's a HOT read. And her sequel Melt Into You just came out.
Beach sunset - aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh.  Why do I live in Texas? I am too far from water. Oh well, that's what vacation is for. I admit I'm fortunate to return to a lovely home with a pool. Ray and I work hard and we're lucky.
Here we are in front of my Aunt Audrey's home in Sarasota. Caught up with her and my cousin Sandy - it had been five to ten years since our last visit. Maybe we need to go to Florida more often. I better load up my Kindle.

Wimbledon - love this time of year. Now it's Federer vs. Murray. Sorry UK fans, I love the Swiss tennis machine - I think Roger will kick Andy butt - place your bets.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

July Fourth Week - Summer Break

 Summer break. Vacation. Hiatus. Laziness. Whatever you want to call it, I'm doing it. But I also wanted to celebrate July 4th week. So Happy Birthday America!

Fireworks, Picnics, Boating, Swimming, Dairy Queen, Croquet, Beach Volleyball, Driving,
Wimbledon (Thank you England), watermelon, s'mores, reading trash and blasting tunes. Ain't life grand?

Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.

God Bless America