Sunday, December 21, 2014


 The neighborhoods are cheerier this time of year. Candles glow, wreaths are lit, twinkly lights abound, and then there are the manger scenes. Some are simplistic. Others have the Wise Men bearing gifts for Baby Jesus, along with a ton of supporters - Santa, Snowmen, the Grinch, Gingerbread Men, Charlie Brown and crew, et al.  Some folks might not approve, but I appreciate the spirit.

It sums up this time of year - Jingle Bells and Jesus
No matter what, we all hope for Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward Men.

 I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I shall take a short blog break and be back in 2015 with reviews, poems, and assorted writing blather. Take care, everyone.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas Countdown II

 Winter Santa kicks up his heels indoors
 This is my little Swedish gal - I got her back in the summer of 1974
 Santa fun on the shelf
Frosty and a Christmas elf

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Favorite Ornament

I have plenty of ornaments gathered from travels, and I enjoy placing them on the tree.  But this (paper) tin soldier made from a toilet paper roll is my favorite. Kevin brought it home a long time ago (he's 33 now). It has stood the test of time, and sums up a lot of Christmas joy.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Book Review: Station Eleven

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel is a different take on the future. It was named Entertainment Weekly’s top fiction book of the year, and I’m good with that. We meet Arthur Leander, a famous actor, as he has a heart attack on stage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, former paparazzi is the EMT who tries to save him, and a child actress Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as her friend and mentor dies. Meanwhile, a horrible flu is breaking out. This is the last night of normalcy.  

Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. This nomadic troupe moves between settlements never knowing what they’ll find. Kirsten lives by a tattoo on her arm – a line from Star Trek: Because survival is insufficient.  Unfortunately, the arrival into St. Deborah by the Water finds them battling a new violent prophet. The troupe is tested and friendship, love, and the new order of family proves momentous.  

Cover blurb – Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty….Strange twists of fate connect them (Arthur, Jeevan, Kirsten, and more) all.  A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it. 

This book truly reflects on the people involved. Many still remember how things were and can tell stories -rueful scratching of the head as they think back. I enjoyed Emily St .John Mandel’s characters and the lives portrayed before the flu, and now after.   

p. 32 No more Internet. No more social media, no more scrolling through litanies of dreams and nervous hopes and photographs of lunches, cries for help and expressions of contentment and relationship-status updates with heart icons. No more reading and commenting on the lives of others, and in so doing, feeling slightly less alone in the room. 

Station Eleven entertains and makes one think. It’s a worthwhile way to end 2014 in the world of fiction.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas Countdown

 Penguins guard our door
 Plenty of stockings hung by the chimney with care. My sister made the green one for me a long time ago. It's not easy being green, but Santa can find my stocking!
 Ray's mother made our cheery Christmas table runner
The bar is open and even a bottle gets a Christmas hat

Friday, December 12, 2014

Behind the Scenes - Christmas as discussed at work

Two weeks exactly until Christmas and my guys at work are complaining. It's funny because I'm "one of the guys", thus I get to listen and be amused as they grouse about their significant others. It happens every year. The complaints don't change, and ultimately they have a very nice Christmas.

These guys are generous, but a bit of Scrooge does appear.

Last year, R declared, "I'm putting her on a budget next year. She's going to have to save out of her grocery money or something."  Well, that didn't happen. Thus, this year R says, "She's over budget again. I don't know what she's doing and she claims I'm being a Grinch." 

(There are three kids and a new baby - treats can add up, I'm sure)

As for J.R.  - his wife works outside the home and earns a decent stash of cash. According to him, "I don't know what she does with her money, but she asked me to transfer some to her for Christmas. She's out of control." They have one three year old girl.  "I'm going to put her on a budget."

The B word - budget is invoked and then blows out the window with the north wind.

Aah - Christmas joy.  Are you under control?  Or blowing the budget?

I'm happy to say Ray and I have our house in order - no need to yank on the reindeer reins.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Behind the Scenes for Christmas Prep

 Everyone posts the glamorous side of Christmas on blogs or Facebook. Fantastic decorations and mouthwatering treats.  Well, here's the empty pan hoping to be filled
 Top secret - yes, I cheat and bake the instant cookies. And you know what?  People gobble them down in no time.
 Ray has a new vision for lights.  Here are the outdoor trees in our family room having a test run. You'll be pleased to note that they have remote controls. We can change the show nightly.
 Early Christmas cards are featured on the kitchen counter.  My friend, Linda, made sure I had a "cat with a Christmas sweater" card.
Mini-pecan pies fresh from the oven. I took them to work the next day...all gone!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Rejection Tuesday

Sounds of Italy 
by Joanne Faries

gladiator echo in the Colosseum
ruts of chariot wheels in Pompeii
ancient rumble of carts hauling wares
operatic arias reverberate in Venice
gondolier chatter, tourist camera clicks
shopkeeper patter, rustle of money exchange
Latin chant rolls with the mists surrounding Assisi
slurp of  gelato tongue tingle
shoe shuffle stumble on cobblestones
inner grazie for the life concerto
sigh - rejected as "where's the ebb and flow? " and "too many adjectives"
Oh well.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Book Review: The Paying Guests

It's 1922 and times are tough in London after the First World War.  "Widowed Mrs. Wray and her daughter, Frances - an unmarried woman with an interesting past, now on her way to becoming a spinster - find themselves obliged to take in tenants." (cover blurb)

Life will never be the same with the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a young modern couple. The change is unsettling with extra footsteps, music, laughter, and a dash of frivolity. Frances is drawn to a new friendship with Lilian, and uncertainty with Leonard. With this comes underlying currents of danger, passion, and drama.

This historical fiction novel has "nail-biting tension, believable characters, twists, and surprises. It's a love story, a crime story, and an atmospheric portrait of a fascinating time and place."  (cover blurb)

Opening chapter - The Barbers had said they would arrive by three. It was like waiting to begin a journey, Frances thought. She and her mother had spent the morning watching the clock, unable to relax

I found The Paying Guests to be an interesting journey - well-written and mannered. I could frown with Frances, sigh with Lilian, and worry about everyone under this one roof. Nothing like opening the door to strangers. Life would truly never be the same.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Movie Review Madness: The Theory of Everything

Science and love are a strange combination for a movie, but in the story of Dr. Stephen Hawking those are the themes.  In the Theory of Everything, Eddie Redmayne gives a tour de force performance (Oscar worthy) as the brilliant man struck in his prime by ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Holding her own is Felicity Jones, as Jane the precocious student flirting with Hawking, seeing his kindness, and stepping up to admit love and seeking marriage. He is fragile, his brain unlocking new physics theories as his body deteriorates. She is fragile steel, the good woman behind a flawed man. 

Together they strive in the academic world. She gives up a lot, but stays stoic – helping him from canes to wheelchair to motorized chair to a computer voiced machine. He can continue his work, the brain unraveling theories about time – forward, backward, black holes, big bang theory, and the element of God. The director does a good job of showing Hawking’s work and discoveries without getting bogged down into too much deep material. We grasp the import without sitting through a lecture. We also see the love and struggles by Jane as she seeks help for Stephen and in raising their three kids.  

The caretaker issue is a tricky one navigated by many. Jealousy can arise, lost hopes and dreams of normalcy cause frustration, and it certainly tests a marriage. Watch the film to see what I mean. I don’t want to give away more.  

Needless to say, Stephen Hawking condemned to a two year death sentence in 1963 is still alive at age 70+ . His spirit and brilliance have inspired many, and advanced science. The Theory of Everything brings his and Jane’s story to a wider audience.  Love and science – a unique combination and worthy tale.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Book Review: The Secret Place by Tana French

I Know Who Killed Him – that card with a picture of Chris Harper kicks off The Secret Place by Tana French.  The secret place is a bulletin board where the girls of St. Kilda’s school can pin anonymous notes. Detective Stephen Moran is handed the card by Holly Mackay, a student, and a lagging investigation kicks back into gear. Moran hopes to show his skills and get into Dublin’s Murder Squad. Detective Antoinette Conway hopes to redeem herself. Holly’s father, Detective Frank Mackay, circles to protect his daughter.  Conway and Moran must penetrate a close-knit group of teenage girls. Tough crowd.  

Tana French’s writing is sublime and the Irish setting adds a fresh flavor to the genre. In describing the Court, a mall, and the kids – They always act like they’re having an amazing time, they’re louder and high pitched. ..Their faces on the way home afterwards look older and strained, smeared with the scraps of leftover expressions that were pressed on too hard and won’t lift away. (p. 41) 

p. 48 Detective Moran at the school – The air felt full and glossy, felt high, felt shot through with the sun at mad-dash angles; sun swirling along the bannisters like water….lifting me, catching me everywhere and rising.  

p. 431  Moran again – All I could find was the look on Holly’s face and Julia’s, watching the last shadow of something craved and lost; the distant blue of Selena’s eyes, watching things I couldn’t see; Rebecca’s laugh, too clear to be human. The car was cold.
I liked the book’s structure. We’d go back to when Chris was alive and see the interactions of the teens from different perspectives. Then French brings us to present day questioning – Holly’s group versus the Joanne mean girls group. So many little picky moments. She captures the true horror of that age, when girls are figuring out friendships, loyalties and life. I personally did not immediately guess who killed Chris Harper. I just went with the flow of the book, until author Tana French got us to That Secret Place.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Movie Review Madness: Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1

Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is a place setting movie. Ever since Hollywood figured out there were big bucks to be made from splitting  finales into two parts, the game is on, and it works. They get my money. I’ve read the series by Suzanne Collins, and I do recommend the books. It’s not too late. You get more of the descriptions of despair and fuller characterizations. But if you are only watching the films, then be sure to watch this Part 1. The first Hunger Games gave us Katniss and Peta as wily competitors from District 12. Catching Fire had the two playing the game better with heightened stakes. By the end, District 12 has been destroyed and Katniss is the model for the growing revolution.   

Now, Katniss has been pulled out from under President Snow’s nose. Hiding in the once rumored ruined District 13, Katniss worries about Peta’s status captured in the Capitol. He’s transmitting a message of forgiveness under duress. Katniss does not believe he turned into one of “them”. She’s torn between Gael and Peta. She misses Cinna. She’s unsure of her message as the mockingjay. The district president, played by Julianne Moore, is wise and wants Katniss to recognize her potential as a leader. As Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) ventures out on missions, sees the destruction and poverty, her stoic demeanor cracks and she vows to do what she can.  

There are a lot of quiet moments in Mockingjay, but the tense undercurrent heightens the urgency of the situation. As the propaganda machines heat up and Katniss is showered in white tulips, she knows her battle with President Snow is for the sake of the world. Jennifer Lawrence just keeps getting better as an actress – she can look so sad and forlorn, and then kick butt. Donald Sutherland is suitably sinister. Liam Hemsworth, as Gael, is loyal to the revolution and fights hard for Katniss’s heart. Josh Hutcherson, as Peta, is soulful and tortured. The late Philip Seymour Hoffman, as Plutarch, is plucky (his performance makes us sad to know he’s gone).  And Woody Harrelson is a hoot as a regrettably sober Hammish.  

Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 makes us hungry for the true finale. It’s well filmed, has plenty of action, and gives us fear, sorrow, worry, and some humor. Raise your three fingers, and give the soulful mockingjay whistle. Katniss needs rebels on her side.

Monday, December 1, 2014

December - Full of Christmas Cheer

No, this is not my Christmas tree.  Look for this one at the Galleria shopping mall in Dallas. Very lovely mall, and you can ice skate around the tree.  Not quite Rockefeller Center, but a tad cheaper and it is indoors.

So, let's kick off Christmas full of good cheer (and maybe still a bit stuffed from Thanksgiving).
We're going to have a fun month.   No Scrooges allowed

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving Week - Sunday

Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the  circumstances of economic injustice which makes philanthropy necessary - Martin Luther King, Jr.

The most excellent of alms is that of a man of small property, which he has earned by labor, and from which he gives as much as he is able - Muhammad

Thanksgiving into Christmas is a huge time of charitable giving. I admit to getting a bit jaded from every request in the mail, etc.  However, there are many folks who live in dire circumstances and do need help. The spirit of Christmas is in giving.

Thus we transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas and open our hearts to the season.

I'll give a Sunday "Amen" to this post.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thanksgiving Week - Saturday

You are stuffed from Thursday's meal and Friday's leftovers 

Go take a walk

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving Week - Friday

Greed for ownership has taken such a hold of us that we seem possessed by wealth rather than to possess it - Pliny the Younger

Black Friday. Today officially kicks off the Christmas shopping season. Retailers and advertisers jam the message down our throats. The whole economy depends on the almighty credit card and where and how it is used.

Sales. Sales. Sales.

I admit I might venture to a store or two, watch the frenzy, stand in a line, use a coupon, and return home weary, but satisfied with my bag of loot.

I shall be grateful for the little things today - look for kids excited to visit Santa Claus, see friends and family bonding over a gift decision, treat myself to a fancy chocolate.

Step back and contemplate the month ahead. Fix a cup of cocoa, sit for a second, and breathe.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Week - Thursday

O Lord my God, I will give thanks to thee forever - Psalms 30:12

I am not a religious person, but I think it is good to give a general thanks for what we have.
On Thanksgiving Day, Ray and I shall head to Kevin's house where fourteen people shall gather, partake of a bountiful meal, enjoy each others' company, laugh, and cheer Cowboys football.

I hope the same for my blog friends. I wish you Thanksgiving good cheer, health, and happiness. I'm grateful for our writing universe.

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Week - Wednesday

Most People return small Favors, acknowledge middling ones, and repay great ones with Ingratitude -
Benjamin Franklin 1751

Old Ben knew that folks hate to eat humble pie. Indeed, it's easy to proclaim gratitude for generalities. I'm grateful for liberty, nature, and a blanket.  Depending on the situation, it's tougher to be grateful to someone, especially if you caused your own grief. Best to swallow the pride, say thanks, and move on.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving Week - Tuesday

Got no check books, got no banks
Still I'd like to express my thanks -
I got the sun in the mornin'
and the moon at night

Irving Berlin -  1946

A song in the heart can sustain a mood. Try to be down when the Pharell song "Happy" kicks in. Not possible.  I am grateful for music. 

Whistle a happy tune today

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Week - Monday

Gratitude is the sign of noble souls - Aesop

I am not noble, but I am grateful for my life.

Health, hearth, and family.

Don't have to ask for more

Friday, November 21, 2014

Kimbell: Faces of Impressionism

 The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, TX is a lovely museum that brings in superb exhibitions. Running through January 25, 2015, they are presenting Faces of Impressionism: Portraits from the Musee d'Orsay.
 Seventy paintings and sculptures are assembled demonstrating the related works of fellow artists. They often paid homage to each others works within their own paintings.
 From the 1850s to 1870s we see the evolution of impressionism. In the 1890s, painters like Cezanne go bolder with structure, Gauguin with his use of color.
Altogether, this exhibit is rich in feelings, colors, style, and a wealth of artistic history. It made for a delightful Sunday afternoon. (Oh, and brunch at Lucille's was a plus!)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Monday, November 17, 2014

Book Review: The Bone Clocks

I gave up on The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell.  I did not even skip to the last chapter and read it, and I was two thirds through the book. I flat out did not care.

I had concerns when I signed up for this at the library. I never read Cloud Atlas (supposedly genius book), but I had tried to watch that movie from Netflix and gave up on it. It was a confusing mess. Hmm. Do you see a pattern? However, movies from some books don't translate well, so I was willing to give the author the benefit of the doubt.

Oh well. I actually liked the first bit and was interested in the Holly Sykes character. I thought, "Okay, this is going to be interesting." Then we leaped to some weird shit (excuse the language) and I had a WTF feeling.

There's psychic phenomena, time jumpers, people who host others, some Constantine character - not sure if bad or good, and they "all have a part in this surreal, invisible war on the margins of the world."  (cover blurb)

The writing was fine - it was the whole jump around plot and weirdo factor.  Maybe I just wasn't smart enough to grasp the author's intent. I like challenges, but I did not accept The Bone Clocks mess.

Consider yourselves warned.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

More Philly Fall

 Last weekend was perfect. We arrived back in TX to a total winter blast. My Dad will be getting it this weekend too.  Anyway, this tree is in the neighbor's yard. The colors just popped in PA
 Ray and Dad at the Gwynedd Nature Preserve. Nice one mile walk and Ray saw a deer. We rounded a path in a wooded area and a doe surprised us
 Old working mill near my dad's house. We did not catch the tour on Sunday but we walked around it Monday and peered in the windows. Very cool
 Old Mill
Part of the water source - the Wissahicken Creek - part of the whole watershed

I promised a senior tale.  We sat at breakfast and I asked for words of wisdom. Before Dad could answer, Ray piped up, "Don't plant so much crap near the house."  Indeed - Dad has a jungle that is out of control. So for any new homeowners - whatever you have planned - take at least half of it away.

And there you go.............

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Movie Review Madness: Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler is creepy intense good.  Jake Gyllenhaal is not quite right when we meet him. He’s a thief who ultimately decides to start filming crime aftermath at night. He learns quickly and does beat Bill Paxton’s crew at their own game. With a police scanner he learns the codes and lingo and he’s there with a camera to film the blood and gore of the night. “If it bleeds, it leads”. Sure enough, the news producer (Rene Russo) starts buying his film and he works all the angles.  

Nightcrawler is a film about morals, scruples, and the length folks go to for a story. (Too far).  It’s scary good and makes you think about what you see on television. But it’s all about the ratings and Jake’s character knows he has a lot of power. This film is not for the feint of heart. Whether it’s a fire or traffic accident, Jake is there for the closeup. Does he eliminate the competition?  As I said, this movie is almost too close for comfort when it comes to what is right or wrong. Great acting and perhaps an Oscar nomination for Gyllenhaal.  Watch the evening news at your own peril. Yikes!


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Senior Tales

Here's my Dad. My brother, David, took the picture probably after yelling at Dad to stop raking the leaves. David was there to mow and mulch. Ultimately in December, a service comes to suck up the balance and haul them away. Trust me, it's a lot of leaves and you can't burn them anymore.

I can report that Dad's in pretty good shape. Slowing down a bit at 83, but keeps a clean house. Frankly he runs a darn good Bed and Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner/plus Snack place.

His clutter piles are arranged. There's plenty that should be discarded but it's not hoarder status. His fridge is filled with tons of deli cartons. His freezer is full of goodies given to him from family events. He has soups, Italian foods, etc. The man can't starve. The fridge looks like it's filled for a family of six at least.

He falls asleep at the drop of a hat and the TV is LOUD.  I told Ray that no matter what - make sure Dad is NOT grasping the remote.  His head drops and you find yourself trying to ease the remote from his hand like the Grinch easing the candy canes from the littlest Who kids in Whoville.  Ray did witness this event.

Had a super visit, and I'll report a few more goodies in another post this week. I'm catching up now - did grocery shop, laundry is churning, and of course I have shows DVR'd to watch.

Reality bites but I survived first day back at work. Life is far more fun with the senior! 

Love ya Dad

Friday, November 7, 2014

Philly Fall

 I am headed to my Dad's in PA for a long weekend - Friday thru Monday. Ray's going too - we got a super cheap airfare. It's good to check in with the senior. We've had lots of emails back and forth. Today he was cleaning the guest bedroom and putting flannel sheets on the bed. I told him we could do that, but no..........
 Yes, this house still has an old rotary dial phone. He doesn't want to remove it, because it would leave a weird spot on the wall and he does not want to have to paint the kitchen. (Makes sense)
Here's a picture from a few years ago - some remnants of leaves stuck in bushes. Not sure if we'll be raking or not. He actually does pay for a service in December, but it drives him crazy to not rake every weekend. I remember, as a kid, when we burned leaves in the street. The neighborhood was a hazy smoky mirage.

If you wonder what we're doing this weekend, most of the time we sit at the kitchen table and talk, and eat, and snack, and talk some more. So, have a good weekend, and I'll be back soon with at least one good senior tale.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Thoughts for Thursday

Since our Labor Day flood due to a kitchen sink hose burst, our house has been in upheaval. It is as if we moved without moving. As an update, all is right with the world. It took awhile but insurance came through and paid very decently for replacement of flooring and painting.

New floors went in last week, and the painters did their job on Monday. Everything looks fresh and shiny. Now, we are taking our time to get resituated. The bedroom was the first task and it's nice to not wander the house anymore looking for our clothes in random drawers.

I've been rearranging pictures. It's fun to hang favorites in different places than before - round a corner and it's like a new discovery awaits.

Slowly but surely, it's pulling together and feels like home again. My final task is my bookshelves. I shall tackle that soon. Is it time to clean out the piles of books?  i.e. send them to Half Price Books for others to discover my special authors. Or should I just restack as they were?  I have eight boxes of goodies to unload.

My guess is I'll do a bit of both. I'm pretty good at thinning the herd. (It does make room then for new books!)

The bad news Labor Day weekend has turned into a time of reflection on material goods, on the need to gather and create a nest, and a sense of what is important. I admit to whining quite a bit when it all seemed overwhelming. But I know I am fortunate in what I do have, and shall try to maintain this perspective.

and those are my Thursday thoughts.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Book Review: Some Luck by Jane Smiley

Jane Smiley’s Some Luck is part of a planned trilogy. Lots of good reading and writing to look forward to. She never disappoints.  The book begins in the 1920s as soldiers return home. Walter is a farmer in Iowa and we follow his struggles through the Depression and then on to success in the 1950s. Through the decades, Rosanna is at his side – cranking out kids and supporting Walter and their life. Frank is the handsome, willful oldest son. He’s brilliant and enigmatic. Joe, never bright, turns out to be a great farmer. Lillian, the shallow beauty, has her issues. The youngest of six, Claire, is truly her Dad’s daughter and when this book ends we have no idea of her potential. 

Personal and historical aspects of America merge seamlessly in this broad story of America and its growth. From the cover blurb – Some Luck delivers on everything we look for in a work of fiction. Cycles of birth and death, passions and betrayals, and characters we come to know inside and out, it is a tour de force. It’s a literary adventure that will span a century in America, an astonishing feat of storytelling by a beloved writer at the height of her powers.   Indeed, you can count on Jane Smiley to slowly play her cards and deliver full characters that we care about.  

p. 332  As if on cue, Walter turned from Andrea and looked at Rosanna, and they agreed in that instant; something had created itself from nothing – a dumpy old house had been filled, if only for that moment, with twenty-three different worlds, each one of them rich and mysterious.  

Some Luck starts a tad slow, but it builds. It’s a pleasant read about a family. Join in and celebrate births, mourn deaths, and worry about whether the farm will produce or not.  The book ends in 1952, and you’ll be wishing the next book was in the queue. What shall happen to the Langdon extended family?  No doubt, they’ll muddle along with some luck.  Join me in this trilogy.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Movie Review Madness: St. Vincent

St. Vincent is a predictable and yet heartwarming tale about the saints you don’t recognize immediately in your own neighborhood.  Maggie (a charming Melissa McCarthy) and her son Oliver (very cute Jaeden Lieberher) move next door to a foul mouthed drunk codger, Vincent (an irascible Bill Murray). She’s trying to start over through divorce. Oliver, a runt, has to endure the trials of being the new kid at St. Patrick’s school. He’s beat up, Vincent teaches him to fight. He needs some after school care. Vincent needs money, so agrees to sit. He takes the kid to the horse races, to a bar, and of course, teaches him some life lessons.  

We do see Vincent help a pregnant “lady of the night” who’s his friend (Naomi Watts with a Russian accent). We see him visit his wife who’s now in a home. She doesn’t recognize him, but his love shines through and he does her weekly laundry. He’ll do anything to keep her in the nice assisted living. Tough times can call for desperate measures, and we see Vincent at his worst too. He suffers a stroke, and Oliver stays close. They all work to get Vincent back on his feet. When the teacher priest (Chris O’Dowd) assigns a project – report on a saint you know – Oliver does research on his unsung hero.  

St. Vincent was an entertaining movie matinee. Plenty of chuckle lines, and a chance to sniffle too. Bill Murray is a loose cannon these days, and is great in this part. He can be snarky and yet caring. The young actor is winsome, tough, and holds his own. All in all, Vincent is right when he says , “You don’t know me.”  We really don’t know the true story of our neighbors and their lives, and often we should give folks more credit. St. Vincent doesn’t count as church, but maybe one rosary bead credit.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ghouls and Goblins

                          Soul Appearance  by Joanne Faries


eyes glowed pink
moonlight reflected
ghostly skin
pale man reveled
in his appearance
stared boldly into
children’s faces
bared skeletal chest
white hair shock
so pale, it was blue
harvest moon glare
strangers admired his
costume, blood slathered
carving knife

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Book Review: The Mockingbird Next Door

Any fan of To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize winning novel, should read The Mockingbird Next Door - Life with  Harper Lee by Marja Mills.

The author, a Chicago journalist, by sheer luck/chance/a modest letter of introduction, began a long conversation and friendship in 2001 with Alice Lee (a lawyer) and her younger, more famous sister Nelle Harper Lee in Monroeville Alabama. Marja Mills traveled to the small town to do research for a Chicago Tribune article about Harper Lee. Chicago had a book initiative and To Kill a Mockingbird was its selection.

Something clicked and Mills spent time slowly learning about the Lee sisters, their lives, love of history and literature and the south, and about fame and elusiveness. She learned about the childhood time with Truman Capote, and then life in New York. She got better insight into why Ms. Lee never wrote another book, after such huge success in her 30s.  She appreciated the "great intelligence, sharp wit, and tremendous storytelling power of these two great women." (cover blurb)

From this rare opportunity and with Harper Lee's blessing, Marja Mills wrote this book and has allowed a glimpse into this celebrated author's life. Conversational in tone, it's thoughtful, well written, and feels like home.

 p. 273  All those years later Nelle's dark hair now white, her hands arthritic, her voice in To Kill a Mockingbird still could be heard on those Sunday drives, as she and Alice remembered a place that was.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Wilson Sisters Wail

Ray was off to the deer lease this weekend. Hmm, what to do? I saw in Friday's paper that Heart was appearing at the Verizon Theater (fairly small venue) on Saturday night. Sure enough, I bought a "cheap" seat - $35 plus fees, and found myself at Radio Station 92.5's blowout.

It was almost a senior citizen convention - every old rocker around hobbled to their seats. Yep - I guess that includes me. The way I look at - everybody driving tonight had good car insurance.

Flashback to the 80s. One of the openers was Night Ranger - Don't Tell Me You Love Me and Sister Christian were their biggies. They were LOUD, but fun.  Another opener was a local dude - Monte Montgomery - darn good guitar player. I liked him a lot.

Headliners - Heart came on at 9:30 pm. and opened with Barracuda. The hits came fast - Magic Man, Crazy On You, Dreamboat Annie, Even it Up, Straight On for You, Alone, What About Love, and more.

Wow - Nancy Wilson looks the same and can play that guitar. Ann Wilson can wail - her voice is richer, maybe a little less of the super high notes, but still she is unique and pure. The two together are rock queens. For 1-1/2 hours they captivated their audience. No fancy gimmicks on stage, just music magic.

I had never seen them in all my years of concert going. Glad I had the chance. Heart is classic and still rockin'