Monday, December 30, 2013
by Joanne Faries
faint frilly flakes
tickle the nose
Happy New Year everybody! I end this year with a poem. We do not anticipate snow in Dallas for New Year's Eve or Day, but what the heck - I wrote a snow poem. And I'm throwing a snowball your way. It's been a good year. My poetry collections are published and languishing on Amazon. I swear I don't look at the numbers anymore, and if Amazon sends me some money I treat Ray to a taco (at Taco Bell - the 99 cent menu). I hope all of my writer friends can buy the full enchilada plate. My 2014 resolution - keep blogging because it's fun. Finish my next humorous memoir - Athletic Antics. And just have fun. I wish everyone good health and good cheer. Chat with you in 2014.
Friday, December 27, 2013
It has been fourteen years and a lot has happened since we met Bridget Jones first in Diary and then in Edge of Reason. Now author Helen Fielding is back with current technology, slick dialogue, texts, and tweets, and a widowed Bridget. Alas, Mark Darcy died in an overseas peacekeeping mission five years ago, leaving Bridget with a toddler, Billy, and a baby, Mabel.
Fast forward and the kids are in school, Bridget's working on a screenplay, and she's lonely. Her friends all agree it's time to date, but Bridget is out of the social media loop and all the new lingo.
Middle age single motherhood is not for the feint of heart. Bridget Jones Darcy bumbles her way through in Mad About the Boy, a funny heartwarming, timely tale. The cover blurb offers typical Fielding laugh-out-loud lines:
"Is it better to die of Botox or die of loneliness because you're so wrinkly?
Is it normal to get fewer followers the more you tweet?
What do you do when your girlfriend's sixtieth birthday party is the same day as your boyfriend's thirtieth?"
Yes, Bridget dates a boy toy for awhile, suffers writer rejection, is constantly late for her children's school programs, and can't bare the thought of Facebook. Mad About the Boy is a quick breezy read. It's mind candy and you'll chuckle all the way through.
"Is sleeping with someone after two dates and six weeks of texting the same as getting married after two meetings and six months of letter writing in Jane Austen's day?"
I chuckled. I think Helen Fielding is clever and this book is not rocket science - it's fluff, but good fluff. Read it with a mouthful of leftover Christmas chocolates. Enjoy
Monday, December 23, 2013
by Joanne Faries
this time of year
mom and dad whisper
say "Get out of here."
I won't look in the closet
it is tempting, I say
but I'm on Santa's good list
and I want to stay that way
rustle of bags
buckets of bows
yummy smells from the kitchen
Christmas star glows
we hum holiday songs
wish for peace on earth
all year long
Sunday, December 22, 2013
I don't understand folks who say, "It's all such a bother. I hate this time of year." Indeed, it is ridiculous that holiday red and green decorations fight for floor space with pumpkin orange in October. Then the poor turkey gets shoved aside for the Christmas ham.
Ads blare from all media, and consumer reports declare doom and gloom for the economy based on shoppers' wallets. There is a lot of pressure to purchase goods, decorate the home, hang a fantastic light display, attend parties, bake cookies, send cards, and be of good cheer.
But that is the key - be of good cheer. Take a breath, step back, and enjoy moments. Stay in budget and don't just frenzy buy. Pause for a second and gaze at a decorated tree or store window. Savor the colors and whimsy.
Sit with the kids at the kitchen table with white paper and cut out snowflakes, then tape them to the front windows. Sip hot chocolate and read Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol or Dr.Seuss How the Grinch Stole Christmas, OR the Trinity Writers' Workshop Christmas Collection.
Sing a carol off-key in the car, and let that idiot in front of you make an illegal turn. Chill out. Hug your kids and your seniors. Slurp a candy cane and make a sticky mess. Lick a baking bowl, and eat a mouthful of chocolate morsels.
Look for the star in the east, and contemplate peace on earth, goodwill towards man.
I wish you a Merry Christmas (or any holiday you celebrate this time of year)
Saturday, December 21, 2013
Robert Redford is superb. He's 70+ now and while fit, he shows his age. His weather-beaten face reflects his frustration as he repairs a hole in his boat, then has to flee in a lifeboat after a killer storm. The ocean is vast and unforgiving, and he was a speck, a piece of flotsam. Great film making and acting. One man in a boat versus a large ocean proves hypnotic.
Thursday, December 19, 2013
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri is another dazzling book by this Pulitzer Prize winning author. Her prose is musical, her characters are rich, and she puts the reader in the middle of place - whether it's Calcutta, India or a seaside town in Rhode Island. You can smell the air and feel the heat or cold.
cover blurb: "Two brothers bound by tragedy. A fiercely brilliant woman haunted by her past. A country torn by revolution. A love that lasts long past death. The Lowland is a tale of great beauty and complex emotion; an engrossing family saga with a story steeped in history that spans generations and geography with seamless authenticity. "
Inseparable brothers, Subhash and Udayan, are opposites with different futures. Subhash is quiet and scholarly, ultimately making his way to a new life in America. Udayan is brash and impulsive and participates in a rebellion to erradicate poverty in India. Unfortunately the family is shattered by Udayan's choices. Subhash must pick up the pieces, make choices, and try to raise a daughter.
Lahiri weaves Indian customs within new world expectations. She's excellent at depicting internal conflict, and outward strife. Her characters are intelligent and display heartfelt emotion. Her writing is sublime, and when you finish The Lowland it is with a sigh of regret at leaving these peoples' lives, and yet knowing they are going to survive and succeed.
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
You can go home again.
Sunday, December 15, 2013
With the help of two strangers connected to Ashley, Scott seeks clues in the father's disturbing films. Marisha Pessl includes documents that look like newspapers, film blurbs, and excerpts from a frightening website by those obsessed with Cordova. Her writing is enthralling, the suspense is taut, and this thriller suprises until the end. Night Film is a tight read from start to finish.
p. 63 "I ducked through the opening, the rancid smell of garbage overpowering, unseen animals scurrying away as I made my way along the path....As my eyes adjusted to the dark, I could see the crumbling brick exterior, a door to my left. I stepped toward it, tripping on an old bicycle, some plastic bottles, and pulled it open."
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Home is in Texas with Ray. But home is also here - no doubt as long as Dad is alive and shoveling snow, raking leaves, and vacuuming the carpet. He's darn healthy and has nice neighbors. Nothing really changes here, but it's clean, packed with memories, and we sit at the kitchen table and talk forever.
I'm very fortunate. I might have to dig in the basement and see if that big red stocking is still around to hang on the front door. Cheers!
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Poor and getting evicted, Jennifer sends her son in Baltimore to stay with her well-to-do parents in Harlem. The Reverend (Forrest Whittaker) and his wife (Angela Bassett) welcome the young teen but immediately impose house rules. The teen rebels and wants to know why he and his mom are so poor, and his mom never contacted her parents.
It all comes together at the Christmas Eve service with confrontation, family drama, and a gospel chorus to boot. Mary J.Blige has one song and she soars. All in all, the story is predictable. But Black Nativity has an excellent cast, and Jennifer Hudson can sing. Man, she can sing.
Monday, December 9, 2013
A couple agrees to "adopt" a young girl and raise her as their own since the mother had "issues". Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson are perfect as the parents. He's a softie, and she's tough as nails with a heart of gold. The girl, Liesel, learns to read and is obsessed with books. She grows and learns a lot when the family takes in Max, a Jew.
Air raids abound. The father is conscripted for the army despite his age. So many boys leave and don't come back. The father and mother don't subscribe to the Nazi way, but they also fight to survive and not cause trouble. The Book Thief is a touching film about human spirit, love, family, and survival. Take a tissue because you'll sniffle at the end.
Saturday, December 7, 2013
At 7 am, it was 28 degrees and we had ice covered with close to two inches of sleet. No work, no schools, huge cancellations and treacherous conditions. That's Texas.
Friday, December 6, 2013
From his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom: I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter. I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.
A Nobel Peace Prize winner, Mr. Mandela is now at rest. However, we on this earth have a lot more hills to climb.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
She and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) are back to participate in the special Quarter Quell - like a Survivor All Star version, they must compete against former winners from each district. The new gamemaster, Plutarch (Philip Seymour Hoffman) created a jungle world of toxic fog and evil monkey attacks.
Who works with whom? Is Plutarch with the President in trying to eradicate Katniss and her influence? Are hunky Finnick (Sam Claflin) and punkster Johanna (Jena Malone) allies to be trusted? Rebellions in the district abound - three fingers raised silently and the mockingjay whistle are a call to arms and a sign of hope for desperate people.
Keeping us on edge is Jennifer Lawrence herself. This plucky actress can do no wrong. She's fearless and yet questions herself. She feels responsible for the people and is torn by the burden. She is the Girl on Fire and when Hunger Games: Catching Fire ends we are pumped for the Mockingjay finale. Whew!!!
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
As Tris, Four, and her friends seek a solution to gain entry to the Erudite fortress, she must count on some folks she didn't trust before. Choices become sacrifices which become loss, burdens, battles, and more choices. At sixteen, Tris grows up a lot. Veronica Roth has written an exciting series with strong characters. This is a fast read and I'm ready for the final book in the series.
"Insurgent is a noun. A person who acts in opposition to the established authority, who is not necessarily regarded as belligerent." p. 458.
Follow Tris into battle, and make wise decisions with her. You will keep the pages of Insurgent turning as the pace quickens. Enjoy.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
Inspired by the holiday shopping season and standing in line at Kohl's, I reflected on lines - past and present. Thus I present a new poem:
faced forward, turned around
leaned against wall
smiled, nodded as others joined
checked watch, tapped toe
chatted about nothing
weather, sports, or "What's taking so long?"
self indulgent blather
faced forward, turned around
leaned against wall
smiled, nodded as others joined
checked watch, tapped toe
chatted about nothing
weather, sports, or "What's taking so long?"
self indulgent blather
Friday, November 29, 2013
Former military cop, Jack Reacher, travels once again with his toothbrush and his wits. Brawny and over six foot tall, this military machine is prepared for almost anything except the thought of fatherhood. However, he's come from South Dakota to Washington DC to meet with Major Susan Turner at his old 110th MP HQ. But Turner's now imprisoned, and he's on his way due to criminal charges of murder. Plus another case has risen - paternity.
Nothing is as it seems. Reacher breaks himself and Turner out of jail and heads west to meet his alleged 15 year old daughter. Along the way, he discovers two American soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan under Turner's watch. Here at home, four soldiers stationed out of Ft.Bragg seem determined to stop Reacher and Turner from drawing conclusions about those deaths, money, trades, and a network of intrigue out of Afghanistan.
p. 177 "You're like a predator. Cold, and hard. Like this whole thing. You have it all mapped out," said Turner. "You're swimming toward them, and there's going to be blood in the water. Your or theirs, but there's going to be blood."
Jack Reacher moves at a quick pace, not to mention he's involved in car chases, fights, ambush on an airplane, a little love in the afternoon, and plenty of dining at greasy spoons. In Never Go Back, "Jack Reacher questions who he is, what he's done, and the very future of his untethered life on the open road." (cover blurb). This is a fun book in a great series - page turning intrigue at its best.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
From London, Peru, Philadelphia, Tahiti, and Amsterdam - "The Signature of All Things" is a sweeping panorama of life. Its unforgettable characters - missionaries, abolitionists, adventurers, geniuses, and the mad - all tell a tale of life's ups and downs. New ideas, new discoveries are exciting. Then there's heartache and heartbreak - nothing new there. Elizabeth Gilbert's rich writing kept me mesmerized. This is a dense read, but fantastic in its details, emotions, and plot lines.
p. 447 Alma writes "Anything less than a fight for endurance is cowardly. Anything less than a fight for endurance is a refusal of the great covenant of life."
"The Signature of All Things" will stick with you - the characters, nature, and you'll find yourself looking at moss growing on a tree in a whole new light.
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Now in London, he encounters the most spectacular girl played by Rachel McAdams. They meet cute, he messes up some timing, they meet again and it's on to love, marriage, and babies. Through it all, you're engaged with his odd family, you realize the love and respect Tim has for his father, and you learn how he copes and manages the time travel. It's a bit of a stretch, so you have to suspend reality at times. Nonetheless, the actors make it work and they are so sweet and kind and rather twinkly.
Almost Time is a pleasant way to spend two hours. These are likeable characters. The dialogue is humorous and light. And the message - enjoy your moments, marry someone kind, and appreciate life - is a good one to review for one's own life.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
layered afternoon sky
dusk loomed as sun's final rays
autumn glory. Golden leaves,
burnt orange, and rust reds
glowed. Wind rustled.
created rippled shadows
apple crisp breeze
teased hot cocoa nights
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
As an added bonus, Thor needs to release Loki from prison. His knowledge and hidden places are needed, plus Loki (Tom Hiddleston) adds tension to the whole dynamics. The best scenes are when the brothers are on screen exchanging barbs. All in all, the filmmaking is rich, the battles are glorious, and a bare-armed Thor shines as he wields his hammer.
This is fall eye candy at its best. So round up the family, buy that tub of popcorn, and zoom to another realm for adventure. Thor brings light to a Dark World.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
We left pumped up and enthusiastic. Thanks, Ray for our Saturday night date to see Pink.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
So - I sorta began a NaNo but was never truly vested in the enterprise. I admit failure and I'm okay with it.
Are you distracted by the pretty pictures? ...............yeah, me too.
Sunday, November 10, 2013
The film "12 Years a Slave" chronicles Northup's journey to hell and back. Chiwetel Eijofor needs to work on his Oscar speech now. His performance is spot on and often without dialogue. Just the puzzlement and despair on his face, and then his determination to survive is breathtaking. His first enslavement is with a "kind" plantation owner played by Benedict Cumberbatch. However, the overseer (Paul Dano) is petty, mean, and evil. Northup and Dano come to blows and the result is not pretty. Ultimately, the owner sells Northup to another. Then he's moved to another and here's where the going gets tough. Michael Fassbender's plantation owner is nutso evil. He flaunts his affair with a slave girl, Patsy, in front of his wife. She, in turn, manipulates Northup.
Mid-1800s was not a pretty episode in American history, and this film does not approach it lightly. The beatings, degradation, and slave life is depicted brutally honestly. It's not an easy film to watch, and yet it is absolutely intensely well done. Eijofor is one of those actors you've seen in lots of things - television and movies. Now he has leaped into the forefront of Oscar watch with this role of a lifetime. Brad Pitt, who is a producer on this film, is a hero also. As a white man who abhors slavery, he's Northup's connection to friends up North and his final passage to freedom. I'm not giving away a huge plot line - the man lived to write his book, but the twelve years he lost to happiness is horrific. This is not a popcorn movie. It is just great filmmaking and storytelling.
Thursday, November 7, 2013
Beatris has never really felt like her clan family -Abnegation. She is a tad selfish and she yearns to break free. Well, she has her chance to change her life. Turning age sixteen allows her to pick from all worlds - Amity, Candor, Erudite, Dauntless, and Abnegation. She takes the test which involves a drug serum and hallucinogenic situations. She tests as a Divergent - meaning she's not conclusive and ultimately could be trouble. She needs to keep her results quiet, but she does choose the Dauntless family and becomes Tris. Her brother Caleb chooses Erudite. Thus both kids reject their selfless lifestyle.
As Tris, our heroine learns to jump onto and off trains, fight, kickass, leap from buildings into a net that she does not know is there, and altogether becomes daring. And yet, some selflessness is still instilled in her, and she questions her planet. What is the whole plan? The leader Eric is brutal, but the "co-leader" Four becomes a love interest. Tris is naive and yet learning. Her friends Christine, Al, and Will - everyone is working to find themselves, score points to earn their Dauntless title, and not become factionless (i.e. homeless).
Well, Tris, as a Divergent, is able to manipulate scenarios plus she's freakin' brave. Her scores are topnotch even though there are suspicions about her. Slowly, she gathers information and chats with her brother. The Erudites are planning a full out war over Abnegation's government and they plan to use Dauntless as the fighters.
The pace quickens and the battle is crazy. Fortunately, Tris is able to see her mother, father, and family. The results prove shocking and you, the reader, are hooked for the next book - Insurgent. Trust me - read this series now before the first movie in March 2014. Books > film
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Meanwhile, Somali desperado/fishermen are told they need to get back out on the water and earn some money. The lead Somali - Barkhad Abdi -(nicknamed Skinny) is not a trained actor, but his fierce charisma holds the screen. Sure enough, they are tech savvy and their gear plots the course of the Alabama. They approach quickly, circumvent the water hose blasts, and manage to get aboard. Captain Phillips had feared for this very incident. He had his crew doing practice drills, and then had to announce, "This is real world. Hide in the engine room." It became an outwit, outplay, outlive the terrorists real-life game.
Ultimately, the Somalis take Phillips as hostage in the small life boat. As they pilot it toward their port, a bigger brinksmanship occurs. US Naval power and Navy Seal expertise work to defuse the situation. Skinny seeks dominance over the situation. He truly believes he will get ransom money, survive, and his goal is to go live in America. Captain Phillips has faith in the Navy, and he quietly tries to create tension amongst the pirates. This earns him some beatings. The movie does not go overly political and yet there are some lines showing the level of desperation involved in Somali life for these young men.
Director Paul Greengrass excels at directing the actors and action. He ratchets tension - we feel the lack of air in the lifeboat, the thirst building, fear, and lack of control. Captain Phillips is a great modern seafaring adventure that demonstrates America's reach and power. It's also about men and a will to win and live. Climb aboard, mate, and prepare for an ocean of entertainment.
Sunday, November 3, 2013
The Fort Worth Cultural District is a treat on a lovely fall day.
Friday, November 1, 2013
However, I've published non-fiction, flash fiction, and poetry. Somewhere, there is a novel inside of me. Surely I can develop a character arc that is remotely interesting to read. Okay - I think I'm already behind on my word count.
I'll keep you posted on my progress and maybe even upload some of the bizarre crap my fingers type. This could be amusing.
Gotta go NaNo now.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Evelyn was engaged to a young man who passed away suddenly. Thinking she would never love again, she ended up marrying his best friend and now forty years later she frets over her son's divorce. Delphine's seen passion and now fury. James, a paramedic, struggles to make ends meet and worries about his family. Kate and Dan, together but unmarried, are content with their arrangement. However, she's embroiled in her cousin's wedding preparations and has somehow lost one of the diamond rings.
All of these characters are well drawn, and the reader cares about everyone's tale. Life is about for better or worse, love found and love lost, and hopes and dreams for the future. The Engagements is a fun read, and you'll laugh or commiserate with the characters' situations. Sullivan's story sparkles like the glittering diamonds featured.
Monday, October 28, 2013
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Today ESPN has many outlets worldwide. It is a 66 BILLION dollar business. It is now owned by Disney Corporation and brings in half of Disney's profits - that is an amazing statistic. Ray and I enjoyed Mr.Rassmussen's talk - he's now retired and shares his wit and wisdom as a speaker. It's always good to gain perspectives from innovators like him.
And Ray's probably watching something on ESPN right this minute.