Monday, June 30, 2014

July Junque

Last day of June, and I've been rather lazy with my blog. Yesterday as I sat on the patio, I looked up and snapped this picture. I decided I would try to snap a daily photo and post it as July Junque.  The "que" classes up the word "junk".  I shall still post some movie reviews and whatever strikes me.

 Or we can just poke into a corner and see what pops out.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sixty Years

Front row center at last week's family reunion - Joyce and LD Faries - married sixty years today.

two crazy kids

starry-eyed in ‘54

up and said “I do”

we don’t care if we’re poor 

rich in love

they forged ahead

raised a family

broke some bread 

years flew by

America went to the moon

LD & Joyce said

“p’shaw we are OVER  the moon” 

sixty years as a couple

brought laughter, tears, and joy

together they built memories

what’s the secret? Don’t be coy 

through good times and bad

look around, the answer is here

faith, trust, and commitment

family, friends, and good cheer 

you gotta laugh and forgive

root for Cowboys, for sure

the key for Joyce & LD

is a love that is pure

let’s celebrate the 60 years

reflect on the magic for goodness sake

we should all be in awe

now let’s eat some cake

Happy 60th Anniversary

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Movie Review Madness: The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green has been a young adult fiction phenomenon. The movie version starring Shailene Woodley as Hazel Grace Lancaster and Ansel Elgort as Gus is a worthy film. It’s sharp, sad, plucky, gutsy, and the key to these teens’ lives is to not just be oblivion. They want to matter and they don’t want their cancer to define them. Yes, these kids have cancer. No, that’s not the point of the movie. The point is ultimately teen love, heart, and sheer living with every fiber.  

Shailene Woodley continues her streak of tremendous acting. She’s so smart and so real – her Hazel is snarky, wise, and a passionate girl who has lung issues that can kill her. Gus – so wise, full of soul, and yes, he’s darn cute – has a bone cancer that took his leg. But he’s strong and sees the glow of Hazel. My review is gushy because this is such a great movie. Lots of laugh out loud lines and moments. Even during some tough breathing times for Hazel, she’s spunky. That’s the key. While her mother (played by a very good Laura Dern) tells Hazel to make friends, it’s only out of concern. The mom wants Hazel to be sorta “normal”, and embraces Gus. He infuses Hazel with energy and indeed some normalcy.  

Hazel and Gus are obsessed with a book by a Peter Van Houten called The Imperial Affliction. It’s like a defining cancer fiction story. Gus uses his “make a wish” to take Hazel and her mother to the Netherlands to meet Van Houten. He (played by Willem Dafoe) is a total jerk, but that’s rather key to the movie. It strengthens the kids’ relationship and also defines the issue of living with cancer. They also visit the Anne Frank home and that’s very powerful as Hazel lugs her oxygen up a zillion teeny steps. 

All in all, the movie is a faithful rendition of the book. Bring tissues. I won’t say more about the plot. The Fault in Our Stars has depth, great acting, and lessons that don’t pound you over the head, but should be embraced.  See the movie, sniffle a bit, and then enjoy life, breathe deep, run, love, and avoid oblivion.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Summer: Sultry or Sulky and Soccer

First day of summer and it's sultry in Texas. We should be mid-90s today and humid.

The chance of sulky was very high this morning. I ran to Kohl's to check out their swimsuit sale. I realized this week that a few of the suits I had were revealing far more than necessary. I swim a lot and the pool just does its wear and tear. But I have to be in the right frame of mind to undergo the agony of trying on swimsuits. The potential for shrieking in the change room was very high. However - success. I found two suits that were modest, promised a "slimming effect", and they weren't hideous. Whew!

Today, June 21st, my mother would have been 82. She passed at age 60. I commented in an email to my father that it's hard to picture how she'd look, etc if she had lived. I figure she'd be even tinier, with her very neat wavy hair a silver white color. My father agreed that it's difficult to project - she's frozen in time for us.

She liked football - American. Not soccer football. World Cup is huge and I read a bit, but haven't watched it. Ray turns it on but tends to move on - he said he can't stand "the flopping about for fake injuries" and the "run here, run here, run pass, run pass, run pass and nothing seems to happen."

Guys I work with were commenting too - "Hey, it's a round ball. Every kid can kick it along. At least American football takes a funny bounce. Could be more interesting if they used a bowling ball." Ouch.

No respect, World Cup fans. No respect from we self-absorbed non-fans. Sorry

So, it's Sangria Saturday. Waiting on some friends to come for a pool float and visit. Snacks and sangria in flamingo glasses.

Summertime and the living is my new swimsuit (I'm going with the black one today)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wordless Wednesday, Torrid Thursday, and Fried Friday

Almost officially summer, but our Texas thermometer is pushing 100. Whew! The crepe myrtle is in full glory, the flamingo signals summer fun, and the moss rose brightens my day.

 Give me the splendid silent sun with all his beams full-dazzling - Walt Whitman  1865

Old Walt obviously did not sit and fry on my Texas patio.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Monday Motives

It was a bit of a morose Monday -  everyone was grouchy at work for no apparent reason. (then again, it was Monday - that is reason enough).

 I'm lacking inspiration in the blog department. I decided to open my Quotationary book and look to some quotes on motive. That could jump start some writing this week.

Give me virtuous actions, and I will not quibble ....about the motives - Lord Chesterfield  1748

Never ascribe to an opponent motives meaner than your own - J.M. Barrie 1922

Love draws me one way, and glory the other - Cervantes 1615

here's a goodie
A man always has two reasons for the things he does - a good one and the real one - J.P. Morgan

And of course, Oscar Wilde is the finale
Had it been merely vanity that had made him do his one good deed? Or the desire for a new sensation?....Or that passion to act a part that sometimes makes us do things finer than we are ourselves?   1891

Saturday, June 14, 2014

One Day University

Need a break from the everyday? Like to learn new things but don’t want to commit to a full semester of classes? Want some enrichment without tests? Then One Day University is for you. I attended a session in early May and came home excited about new and old ideas. Various sessions expanded on today’s issues and offered a new dimension to current events. The professors were eager to teach to a full house (over 100 people in the ballroom. Most folks were age forty and up.  Comfy chairs provided at tables, along with a notebook and pen). In one hour they gave a mini-lecture on a subject and allowed time for some Q&A. There was no political agenda, and plenty of humor. Plus a very tasty lunch for purchase. Conversation and new friends were a bonus.  

Each session flew by, and as I left I’d chat with newfound friends. One lady came in for the weekend and took advantage of the Hyatt’s special rate of $99. She said, “I emerge from my Louisiana swampland and treat myself to some learning.” She was a hoot. This was her third year to attend.  

This was the May schedule:

Session 1    A. China, Russia, and India: the Rise of the Rest  Stephen Kotkin/Princeton University

                Or B.   The Future of Healthcare – Michael Sparer/Columbia University

Session 2:  A. Global Economy – Paul Bracken/Yale University  or B.  Abraham Lincoln: Fact from Fiction – Louis Masur/ Rutgers University 

Session 3:  A. Psychology of Money – Jeff Hancock/Cornell University or B. Darwin: What he Got Right and Wrong-Susan Lindee/ Univ. of PA 

Session 4:  A. Four Books Every Book Lover Should Read – Joseph Luzzi/Bard College  or B.  What we Know About the Universe- David Helfand/Columbia University 

Session 5:  A. Four Films That Changed America – Marc Lapadula/Yale University or  B. How to Listen to and Appreciate Great Music – Michael Alec Rose/ Vanderbilt University 

Whew – Tough choices but I went with  A, A, A, A, and finally B which was the best class of all. Professor Rose contrasted Beethoven, Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, and tied it up with some Disco tunes.  

So consider attending One Day University in the fall. Make a weekend out of it.   Saturday, September 20, 2014  9:30 am  - 4:30 pm in the Arts District – Winspear Opera House and Dallas City Performance Hall.  Details at      Upcoming subjects include Brain Science, Foreign Affairs, Machiavelli (History), Gershwin, Intuition Psychology, and more.  

“I am still learning”   Michelangelo 


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Book Review: In the Blood

In the Blood by Lisa Unger will have you rapidly turning pages. I have read some of her previous books and she is getting better every time.  We meet Lana Granger who’s lived a life of lies. Her father is in prison for murdering her mother. Was Lana involved? And now that she’s graduating from college, her friend Beck goes missing. A few years ago, another friend was found murdered. Is this all tied in to Lana? 

Lana herself still needs counseling, and when she takes a sitter job for a very troubled 11 year old Luke, her fears heighten. She thought she was smart, but Luke is extraordinarily brilliant, manipulative, and possibly a psychopath. Is he involved in Beck’s disappearance? Lana’s college mentor questions her actions in regards to dealing with Luke, Beck, and her future.  

In this social media age, it might be difficult for Lana to “keep her ominous secrets buried.” (cover blurb).  P. 20 “I caught sight of myself in the mirror, a slim black line with folded hands and furrowed brow, an ink stain on cream silk.” 

p. 46 “In my darkest moments, I wonder if it was a cheat, an escape from that cosmic yawning. Maybe there was an angry god somewhere, raging. He wanted us, he almost had us.” 

In the Blood is smart, stylish, and slick. The plot will keep you and the police guessing until the end. It’s satisfying to read a book like this – an entertaining, well written thriller. It is not gory, but don’t slip in the blood.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Movie Review Madness: A Million Ways to Die in the West

A Million Ways to Die in the West is irreverently funny. If you like Seth McFarlane’s Family Guy, Book of Mormon, and the movie Ted, then this flick is golden. I would have deleted a few gross over-the-top bits, but I am not his target audience. Otherwise, he was writing my thoughts completely about life in 1882 in the west. Totally freakin’ miserable. You could die at any moment, and frankly the most dangerous place to be is at the doctor. But rattlesnake bite, mountain lion, bar brawl, duels, any disease – especially cholera, stampede, getting photographed at the fair, killed by the big block ice shipment. The list goes on and on.  

And there’s Seth’s Albert, a baby faced nerd who hates his life. But he loves his girl (Amanda Seyfried) a vapid climber who dumps him for Neil Patrick Harris – the successful owner of the Moustachery.  Fortunately, Anna (the gorgeous Charlize Theron) rolls into town. Unfortunately she’s the wife of the most notorious outlaw in the west – Clinch (Liam Neeson). But she befriends Albert, teaches him to shoot, and wisely points out that the girl isn’t worthy of him. Yes, they fall for each other, but one fateful kiss is seen by one of Clinch’s fellows. Now Albert is on death’s door awaiting a duel with the best in the West.

Aaah – but nerdy Albert has his ways. I won’t give any more away. Let’s add that Sarah Silverman as the town whore is hilarious. Even funnier is her deeply Christian boyfriend (Giovanni Ribisi). Their scenes are priceless. A Million Ways to Die in the West is filmed like a John Ford flick and the music background is perfect Sergio Leone worthy.  It has cheap laughs and has not been greeted with great reviews by the critics. My husband and I had low expectations and the movie rose above them. We were entertained and there’s nothing wrong with that. Go to a matinee, then grab a burger afterward. Truly a worthy date. Sometimes you have to go for silly, and sly Seth, the sheep boy, is too clever by far.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Book Review: Under the Wide and Starry Sky

Nancy Horan had great success with Loving Frank, a fictionalized account of Frank Lloyd Wright. Now she takes her skills and entertains us with Under the Wide and Starry Sky starring Robert Louis Stevenson.  This is a love story, a writer story, and a tale of fragile health.  Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne, a tempestuous American, came to Europe to study art, escape a philandering husband, and find her own identity. She meets Robert Louis Stevenson –  a Scot, ten years younger, weak lungs, no money, and a gift for telling a tale. He’s a lawyer who hates the law and decides to devote himself to writing, despite his father’s misgivings.  Together the odd couple embark on a love affair and marriage that “spans decades and the globe. The shared life of these two strong-willed individuals unfolds into an adventure as impassioned and unpredictable as any of Stevenson’s unforgettable tales.” (cover blurb) 

As a writer, it was fun to read about his slow success in magazines and finally books. In the late 1800s, writers depended on the mail for letters of success or rejection. He was often down to his last penny when something would pay off. His success with Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde cement him as a classic author. He also had a winner with A Child’s Garden of Verses.  He was close to death many times and seemed to find health on the high seas and finally in the South Seas islands. Fanny nursed him, fought for him, and also wrote and published. She recognized his genius and had to live with his peculiarities. Nancy Horan captures the personalities and we root for Fanny – her passion, her self-esteem, her pride, her American identity, and her love for RSL. This is a smooth enjoyable read as Robert Louis Stevenson and the woman behind him come alive on the page.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Movie Review Madness: Chef

Chef is a savory morsel of a movie. You will come out of the theater hungry for a cubano sandwich. Jon Favreau’s chef is on top of his game in Dustin Hoffman’s restaurant. He’s prepared to create the best meal of his life for a famous Los Angeles food blogger critic. Hoffman says, “No, prepare the hits people come here to eat.” Alas, the critic (a pompous Oliver Platt) blasts him for his tired presentations and lazy lava cake. A social media war escalates and the chef is out of a job.  

He takes the advice of his ex-wife, Sofia Vergara, and meets with her former ex-husband, Robert Downey, Jr (small role that he makes magic on screen). It’s food truck time, and this turns the movie into a summer road trip/father son bonding and sizzling food heaven. John Leguziamo, sous-chef, adds a fun dimension. They kick off the Cubano sandwiches in South Beach, and there’s no turning back. The son, at age 10, turns out to be the tweeting, filming, marketing genius. Crowds gather wherever they roll – New Orleans, Austin, etc.  Laughter, love, and memories are made as the boy grows up, the dad sees his son as a person, and the glory of cooking simmers.
Chef is heartfelt soul food.  It brims with humor and life. Forget a tub of popcorn. Enjoy the movie and then treat yourself to a meal at a family owned restaurant or gourmet food truck. Spend time with your family and friends, visit a farmer’s market, and treat your palate. Spice up your life after enjoying Chef

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Poem: First Day

first day 

varies year to year dependent on weather

rainy cool nights bring the chill

postpone the expectations

pool lounge laziness 
first day cloudless, slight breeze

kids run/walk to diving board

minimal bounce hurls them shrieking

arm flail, half tuck, cannonball burbles 
she saunters to shallow end, dips the toe

lowers one step, and another

pale legs shimmer, as she oozes

breath intake as slight splash cools  
small of the back

she initiates plunge immersion

emerges renewed, winter memory erased

adjusts bathing strap, leans back to float


first day of summer declared
by Joanne Faries

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Movie Review Madness: The Railway Man

The Railway Man is based on a true story that shows the horrific aftermath of war – the mental despair that can occur. We meet Eric Laskow (Colin Firth) as a world weary man riding trains in England. His brilliance shines through when he chats with Patti (Nicole Kidman), and they fall for each other. Soon after marriage, she sees the real Eric as he suffers from war flashbacks.  

In flashback we uncover his story. World War II in Burma, the British are beaten by the Japanese and men are taken prisoner. Eric Laskow, from the signal corps, and his buddies managed to steal enough parts as they dismantled gear to rebuild a radio. Meanwhile they are part of the slave labor building a railroad. Unfortunately, the Japanese discover the radio and also a map Eric has drawn. He admits to the radio and the map but had no ulterior motives. They suspect spying and Eric is subjected to horrific torture. The film handles this well – you cringe just watching the reactions of other prisoners.  

In present day, Patti wants to help. She seeks out a fellow war hero to get more of the story. Henley tells her and also reveals to Eric that he’s found the Japanese man who did the torture. The man now conducts tours for the war museum. To reach some closure, Eric travels to Burma and confronts the man. He’s come to kill him, but as they talk he breaks down. He realizes, as does Takashiki, that they are different men now. Sadly they did their jobs as twenty year olds, with huge regrets.  

There is closure for The Railway Man. This well done low key film depicts the underlying horror of war with gravitas. Colin Firth is restrained and you feel for the fiber of his soul.  It is a very serious film that tells a great tale of forgiveness and bravery.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Silent Sunday

 Photos courtesy of Ray Faries from San Saba two weeks ago. The rugged Texas hill country has its moment of colorful glory

color abounds
beware the beauty
deep deception
thorns pierce the soul