Monday, September 30, 2013

I am a Guest - Visit Annalisa Crawford

I am fortunate to be a guest on Annalisa Crawford's blog. We have a mutual admiration society. I love her book of stories That Sadie Thing.  Then, I shared a poetry sample with her, and despite her initial misgivings about poetry (we are all haunted by too much symbolism in high school), she enthusiastically invited me to answer questions and promote my Wordsplash Poetry Puddle collections.  

So pop over to her blog and read our poetry discussion. She gave me some great questions. Thanks, Annalisa.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Puddle Splash Trifecta: Tread Water

It's a rainy Saturday - hurrah - and here's the launch bit for the third in the Wordsplash Poetry Puddle collection: Tread Water

she joins the YMCA

because she is afraid to fly

her dreams reveal no explosion

yet the plane is dismembered

she, alone

holds the seat cushion

flotation device

and treads water

Wordsplash Poetry Puddle: Tread Water taps into emotions and taps the typewriter. Some poems explore fears, dreams, and wayward paths. Other poems seek shelter in words. Dive into this collection, and then keep your head above water.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Wordsplash Poetry Puddle: Hazy Memory

Here is the second book in my poetry collection.

Sidewalk chalks

smeared rainbow

uneven hopscotch

smudged hearts

crooked flowers

smattering lines

mimic brain waves

of young artist

kid loose on the world

makes a mark

only to hear thunder

rain drops splatter

ephemeral dreams

The Wordsplash Poetry Puddle: Hazy Memory collection reflects on summer joys, baseball, beach trips, grandmothers, teen years, family, and love.   Feeling nostalgic? These poems are for you. Enjoy in print or on Kindle download.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Movie Madness: The Spectacular Now

The Spectacular Now is a tiny movie that is spectacular. It's not a teen movie, it's a human movie. It flows - it's well acted, well written, and the characters are folks you get to know and care about. Shailene Woodley (from the Descendants) continues to bring heart and soul to a teen girl role. She's pretty without being gorgeous, and so normal. Miles Teller (from Footloose) exudes personality, but again is nice looking without being too pretty or too macho. These kids mesh on screen and you root for them.

I am gushing, but it's because as a critic, a movie like this is refreshing. Sutter (Miles) is the party boy senior dating the prettiest girl, until he's not. Turns out he's way fun, but no one takes him seriously. His drinking is out of hand (he always has a flask, and is sipping from a fast food soda). It's senior year and time to buckle down and figure out the future. His ex is now dating the football scholar class president. After a raucous night, Sutter wakes up in the front yard of Aimee. She knows him, he fakes knowing her. She's quiet and is off to do her mom's paper route. Sutter tags along, and a friendship begins.

Only he thinks he's doing her a "favor" - letting her date a "cool" kid (in his mind), even though in reality she offers him far more - she tutors him, shows him how to love (not superficially), shows him loyalty and maturity. Does he break her heart? Sure. Does she break his? Sure. It's senior year and these kids are trying to figure out life, while dealing with family issues - missing dad, deceased dad, mothers who are doing their best. The Spectacular Now  has serious themes, but is buoyed by humor and grace. It is a quietly spectacular addition to the fall movie scene.

Friday, September 20, 2013

It's a Deluge: Wordsplash Poetry Puddle: Nature

I am excited to announce the first in the Wordsplash Poetry Puddle collection - Nature.  No memorization required.

Here's the blurb:
I hate poetry. I don't understand poetry.

Does this sound familiar?

Wordsplash Poetry Puddle: Nature has no hidden agenda. Words are used to paint a picture - splash an image on the page. Words give a sense of calm or transport the reader to another time. Hear the ocean, feel raindrops, and immerse oneself in nature.

Little stories are told on each page. Dance in the puddles with the author.

It's on Kindle too - a poem a day will keep you smiling.
Enjoy!   and coming soon - Hazy Memory AND also Tread Water

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Book Review: Let's Pretend This Never Happened

Let's Pretend This Never Happened By Jenny Lawson is terrifyingly personal, crazy hysterically funny, and while I can't say I wish I had her life, I do wish I could write with such wacky aplomb. Growing up dirt poor, with a father doing taxidermy, Jenny Lawson has a skewed view of the world. Her husband Victor is a gem, who obviously she adores and drives insane at the same time.

If you want to laugh out loud and cringe at the same time, this book is for you. Here's a paragraph that cracked me up, only because my father was a personnel manager:  p. 112

There are three types of people who choose a career in HR: sadistic assholes who were probably tattletales in school, empathetic (and soon-to-be-disillusioned) idealists who think they can make a difference in the lives of others, and those of us who stick around because it gives you the best view of all the most entertaining train wrecks happening in the rest of the company.

Check out her blog for added humor to your day -

I can't pretend I didn't read Let's Pretend This Never Happened 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Trinity Audubon Trails Galore

Another look at our nature walk at the Trinity River Audubon Center.
 Ray headed out into the wilderness. Well, we were never very far from the main building.
 Fallen logs are nature's sculpture
I can never escape a hunt theme in Texas. Sure enough, here's a deer blind. I trust it's for show, and not real hunting in a nature preserve. But, it's Texas - you never know.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Book Review: And the Mountains Echoed

Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner, has written a remarkable book. And the Mountains Echoed  is "proof of the moral complexity of life" with its intertwined tale of siblings and families over an international backdrop. The disparity between the poor and rich in Kabul, Afghanistan contrasts with loneliness, joy, and choices made.

I really liked this book and its characters. From the cover blurb - "the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page." Indeed, Hosseini begins with a father telling a fable to his children. Then Hosseini himself tells us a story from that fable  - it was as if I could hear his voice as I read.

p. 24  The day's colors slowly dissolved into gray, and the distant mountain peaks became opaque silhouettes of crouching giants.

Khaled Hosseini's descriptions blended with dialogue, inner thought, and thoughtful observations enhance the reading experience. When I closed the book after the last page, I was very satisfied with the journey And the Mountains Echoed

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Arts Weekend

Fort Worth Fall Gallery Night is a misnomer. First it's an all day into the night event. Next it was one hundred degrees at noon. That's not "fall". But we shall sweat for art. Indeed the trek through the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens to see a juried art show, just about did me in - and that was the first stop. The piece above was not part of the show, just a cool piece in the gardens. I felt sorry for a bride and her wedding party. I'm sure a September wedding seemed like a great idea a year ago.
 A favorite art stop is the Rebecca Low Sculptural Metal Gallery & Studio
Neat lady with fabulous outdoor creations. She's featuring a new artist, Ralph Moreno, and his wind spiral pieces. Ray and I enjoyed our stroll in her backyard studio.
 Glass blowing fascinates me, and this stop was worthy of attention. SiNaCa studios had an outdoor demonstration. The kiln was blazing, and the guys were twirling glass turning it into a swirly vase.
 I am contemplating a class there. Can you imagine how big a mess I can make near hot fire? I could create the ugliest most misshapen Christmas ornament ever born.
Aah - lunch at the Woodshed Smokehouse off University and Riverfront in Fort Worth. The misters sprayed and fans whirred to create a comfortable outdoor atmosphere. We sat at picnic benches and enjoyed mouthwatering beef brisket (me) and beef/pulled pork/sausage (Ray) sandwiches with homemade potato chips. Fort Worth Gallery Night during the day was a lot of fun.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Book Review: My Bookstore

Eighty four writers discuss their home away from home in this salute to favorite independent bookstores. My Bookstore is a fun read for avid book-a-holics. I was ready to pack my bags and visit all of them after perusing this book.

"A bookstore often serves as the anchor for the community in which we all live and work - the place that introduces us to new authors and ideas and that sets our children on a path to becoming lifelong readers and lovers of books."  (cover blurb)

A sampling of authors and bookstores include: Isabel Allende/ Book Passage Corte Madera CA; Dave Eggers/Green Apple Books San Francisco CA; Louise Erdrich/Magers & Quinn Minneapolis MN; Larry Kane/Chester County Books West Chester PA  and many more. Each essay is a treat.

"The entire collection is a joyful celebration of our beloved bricks-and-mortar stores and a clarion call to readers everywhere when the value and importance of these stores should be shouted from the rooftops." (cover blurb)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Movie Review: The Butler

Lee Daniels' The Butler is a presumptuous title. I think it should just be  The Butler. Forest Whitaker (Gaines) as the butler is a modest man from humble beginnings. As a kid in the cotton fields in 1926, he sees his daddy gunned down for daring to argue with the white man who just raped the mother. Fortunately, the white property owner, Vanessa Redgrave, takes the young boy under her wing to be a house servant. He learns how to be invisible and serve, to speak properly, and "obey". Ultimately, he seeks his destiny up north and gets employment at a fancy hotel. He loves his job, and is noticed by the man who hires for the White House.

This is huge, and Mr.Gaines humbly takes the job and serves with dignity. As history unfolds from Eisenhower through Obama, the director, Daniel, contrasts service with unfolding civil rights unrest. He shows Gaines' son as he soon joins the Freedom Riders, the Black Panthers, and is jailed for his beliefs. He and his father tangle because the father was raised to respect and work hard to make a living. But Gaines also slowly realizes that despite hearing presidential decisions made on the blacks' behalf, there is still an underlying tone that lacks respect.

The movie is too long and should have been edited down. It's good and yet gets a bit preachy. There's a message and Daniels hits the viewer over the head with it. Forest Whitaker alone with a shake of the head, a sad or a conflicted glance shows us a man of dignity who endured and succeeded despite odds against him. Excellent acting and worthy of an Oscar nomination. Oprah plays his wife and she's a good actress. The folks playing the various presidents and wives are distracting and overacting in fake make-up. All in all, The Butler is about a real man who lived through a lot of change in his life. His story is worthwhile and does make one think.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Book Review: The Silver Star

The author of The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls overcame her own odds to become the writer and person she is. Now in The Silver Star, she embodies her thirteen year old heroine, Bean, with heart, soul, and a fierce sense of right and wrong. This is a very engaging read and I highly recommend it.

1970, Bean and her sister Liz realize their mother is off to find herself, and they decide to head east to the family home in Virginia. Uncle Tinsley haunts the decaying Holladay mansion and slowly does his best to accomodate his nieces. Bean meets the Wyatts her father's family. Charlie was killed, but Bean, after given his Silver Star, slowly learns his story and realizes she has a lot of Wyatt intrepid spirit in her.

It's a small town, and the girls find employment with Jerry Maddox, a sworn enemy of their uncle. They keep their work quiet, until Liz is attacked by Maddox. That is where Bean steps up and declares that Liz needs to fight this obnoxious overbearing ass who had probably attacked their cousin Ruth, too, and got away with it. The trial splits the town and small town injustice enrages Bean. But she perserveres and ultimately the final resolution will satisfy you, the reader.

The Silver Star is about triumph over adversity, family love, and a teen spirit that cannot be smothered. Walls writing is smooth, her pacing is perfect, and humor shines through.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Anniversary - 24 years

September 1, 1989 we each said "I do."  It's been a good twenty four years and more to come.

Mutual love, the Crown of all our bliss - John Milton from Paradise Lost

Come live with me, and be my love
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields
Woods, or steepy mountain yields

Christopher Marlowe - 1599

I have learned that only two things are necessary to keep one's wife happy. First, let her think she's having her own way. And second, let her have it -  Lyndon Johnson

Happy Anniversary, Ray!