Thursday August 18th, Ray got home from work to find water pouring from the garage and front door. Busted tubing under the kitchen sink drowned the house. ServPro to the rescue. Now the roar of 19 fans and 2 de-humidifiers is overwhelming. Thus we fled Friday night to San Saba. Thank goodness for Aunt Pat's lovely patio and wine tasting.
Gorgeous sunset allowed us to relax.
I'm not a country gal, but the view and skies are tremendous in the Texas Hill Country
Ray and I will be married 25 years on Monday - September 1st. Twilight, sunset years. Together we can conquer floods and more.
The Quick by Lauren Owen is “an astonishing
debut, a novel of epic scope and suspense that conjures up all the magic and
menace of Victorian London.” (cover blurb)
It’s 1892 and James Norbury, newly graduated from Oxford and
ready to try his hand at poetry, follows a friend into high society, encounters
trouble in a private club, and vanishes after a brawl and bite from a stranger.
His best friend is dead. There is a supernatural city of evil, and James is
caught in the middle. A chilling character, Doctor Knife, is researching all manner
of creatures. James’ sister Charlotte arrives in London to find and save her
brother. She’s drawn into the gothic mystery and soon must fear for her life
too. The Quick – folks who are not undead, but do shed blood for answers walk a
fine line in underground London.
Ultimately, Charlotte finds her brother within “the doors of
the exclusive Aegolius Club, whose predatory members include the most
ambitious, and most bloodthirsty, men in England.” (cover blurb)
This book is well written and well-paced. It’s eerie and
creepy in a good way. This is not a Twilight vampire book, nor is it
Anne Rice’s Lestat and crew. It’s more highbrow and energetic. It fleshes out
the characters and describes the underbelly of London. Kudos to Lauren Owen for
her debut novel – The Quick. I’d read it with the lights on and
perhaps a fire in the fireplace. Easy to feel chilled, and a bit thirsty too.
A brief note on Lauren Owen’s bio – I’m jealous. She was
born in 1985, studied at Oxford and the University of East Anglia. She received
the 2009 Curtis Brown Prize for best fiction dissertation. The Quick
is her first and no doubt, not last novel.
brush by the lush rainforest ferns, trying to reach the waterfall. I ignore the
sweat dripping from my brow, and try to avoid swiping my leg every two seconds
for imagined insects.
and I are at a crossroads – on this trip, in our relationship, in our work. We
are overheated, seething undertones of rage in our terse answers. His focus on
water conservation and my botany thesis united us for one trip to the
rainforest. Seemed perfect until he yawned at every photo I snapped, every
tweezers of moss I gathered. And seriously how many waterfalls does he need to
time? I’m ready to throw the stopwatch into the briny deep.
here I am, trudging to another waterfall. I contemplate my biggest dilemma.
Shall I give Trey back his ring? He proposed as we packed, tossing me the box,
casually saying, “I think you’ll need this to wear.” I did not hesitate and
agreed to marry him.
This trip. Oh so many flaws in our life plan. He’s selfish. Hogs the towels in
the hostels. Obviously we both faked interest in each other’s work.
arrive at the waterfall, pay our admission, and ask the girl why she’s crying.
“Princess Diana was killed in a car crash.” This took me aback. Here, in the
rainforest on the other side of the world in 1997, Princess Diana news brings
tears. I gulp and sigh.
too short, Trey,” I said as I hand him the ring.
The Giver is another take on a
post-apocalyptic world. This one is very non-war oriented, and yet disturbing.
After “the ruin”, the elders constructed a world of black and white –
cookie cutter communities, no lying, all happiness, work, play, and family.
It’s all very subdued and controlled. At age eighteen, kids learn their fate –
their job future. Jonas is the last kid chosen and he’s given the job of
receiver. He shall meet with Jeff Bridges - “The Giver” - and shall
learn the history, the emotions, the feelings, and everything that’s been
controlled and contained to maintain a new society.
It’s a rather tortured job. Jonas can’t tell anyone the
secrets, but he’s feeling so many things and seeing his new world in color.
He learns about music, love, so many other things that can be good or bad
and yet have been part of humanity. He sees war and sadness. In bits and pieces
he offers suggestions to his favorite girl about how the world could be. He
shares things inadvertently with his younger sister. He knows that the old
folks who are “released” aren’t really off to retirement playing golf. And
little babies who don’t grow at the rate subscribed, are not designated for
Jonas is dangerous. Meryl Streep, as the elder, gives orders
for his removal. But Jonas has a mission – to reach beyond the boundaries on
the map – and perhaps then the memories of all can be reinstated.
I really liked the ideas in The Giver. It's well acted and
interesting. I did not read the book, and from what I understand they changed
some stuff that could annoy readers. I give this a thumbs up. The kids in it
are good and Jeff Bridges is always a gem. Sometimes we have to take the good
with the bad. A society that controls everything misses out on the little
things that make us human.
Daniel Silva knows how to write a thriller and The
Heist does not disappoint. If you are a fan of Gabriel Allon – super
Israeli spy/art restorer – then get set for quite a ride. Our favorite art
dealer, Julian Isherwood, stumbled upon a dead body in Lake Como. He thought he
was working an art deal, but the dead man is a fallen British spy. Uh-oh – he’s
been trafficking stolen art for a collector. The most famous “lost” piece is
Caravaggio’s Nativity with St.Francis and St.Lawrence.
Gabriel tries to recover the Nativity. His forays to
Paris, London, Corsica, and Austria dig deep into the underworld. The wealth of
a brutal dictator (Syria) lead him and his crew (the best spies ever from
Israeli intelligence) give him a chance to amass millions from this evil
dynasty. But there’s a young woman’s life at stake. She works for the banker
who moves the big bucks. She helps Gabriel, but through no fault of her own, is
put in jeopardy. What is the resolution?
The Heist is a page turner – art history
guide, current events commentary, and just plain exciting. Gabriel’s wife,
Chiara, is pregnant with twins so he has so many reasons to live. Daniel
Silva’s writing is smooth, exciting, and exhilarating. You can pick up with
Gabriel Allon on The Heist or start at the beginning. No matter
what, you’ll be rooting for the good guys to win in a crazy world.
Guardians of the Galaxy is beyond awesome
silly fun. This is a Marvel misfit movie. What could go wrong in outer
space will and it will be very amusing. Peter Quill as a young boy loses his
mother. He runs out of the hospital and is sucked into space. Twenty six years
later we see him, played by an awesome Chris Pratt, stealing an orb, living by
a mixtape, and trying to get a nickname Starlord to stick. He’s a charming
rascal. In this chase for the orb, he encounters a green girl – Zoe
Saldana – totally badass and her sister Nebula is worse. Rocket the raccoon
(voiced by Bradley Cooper) is the brains behind any operation but he’s a
creature with no scruples. Groot (Vin Diesel’s voice) is a walking tree. Dave
Bautista voices a serious Drax who takes everything literally. Altogether they
are a mess and yet they slowly conquer the fight against Ronin.
In the early stages of the movie, don’t worry too much about
all of the planets and leaders, etc. Concentrate on our self-proclaimed
Guardians. They bicker and they are a mess and it works. This movie is
hysterical as it kicks into high gear. Stay conscious of the winning oldie
soundtrack – that’s the charm of this flick. Entertaining – this is a full
bucket of popcorn and a large soda movie. Truly joyous – Ooh Ooh Child
will never be the same.
We are Groot. That’s the motto. Watch the movie and
join the club. Stay after the credits for a blip of an old joke. Guardians
of the Galaxy is summer movie magic.
The previews to Lucy looked rather intriguing
and you can’t go wrong with Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman. Right?
Well…let’s just say they were fine but the movie was different. As in, we
walked out after final credits and said, “That was weird.” I can’t put my
finger on what went wrong, but I was never fully engaged in the flick. The
director, Luc Besson, does great action sequences, and this wasn’t a cheap
film. But….it was just okay.
My husband said that maybe it had too many big ideas.
Lucy was trying to make us think about human capability and our use of
brain cells and also the concept of time. That’s a lot of material to cover.
The movie starts with a sequence showing cells splitting and
leads to the ape named Lucy – one of our ancestors. Then we leap to Scarlett’s
Lucy hanging out in Asia. She gets coerced into carrying a brief case into a
fancy high rise to give to a man. Well, this goes horribly wrong. The case has
some drug that accelerates brain capacity. Lucy is injected with a baggie of
this for smuggling. The bag leaks and she’s going crazy with intense ability to
hear, see, absorb, and comprehend everything in the world.
She looks up Morgan Freeman (playing a
professor/researcher/doctor) who is the specialist in the brain cell field.
He’s fascinated by her story and she shows up to meet him and be studied.
However, she only has 24 hours to live because everything in her has sped up to
warp speed. Meanwhile, the Asian men are after her to reclaim their prize. So,
it’s a race against time. It’s Lucy explaining how she’s thinking and trying to
understand what this means. The researchers stand around befuddled as they try
to figure out what questions to ask. Are you confused yet? And/or do you care
the key – do you care? There are talking head scenes and then violent shoot ‘em
up scenes. The movie is trying for two very different viewpoints. So, I can’t
recommend paying money in the theater for Lucy. Wait for rental
or Netflix and see if your brain explodes with interest or boredom.
From the Victorian age through the Civil War era, onward through the World Wars, and the hippie dippy 60s, and now in 2014, brides have worn a special dress on their wedding day.
American Brides: Inspiration and Ingenuity is a lovely (free!) exhibit at the Greater Denton Arts Council Gallery. Over thirty dresses are shown. Examine some elaborate beadwork. Marvel at the lace. Or turn up your nose at some ghastly peasant dresses - the brides must have had to go work the fields after the ceremony.
This exhibit is well done and worthy of a stroll through. An added bonus is lunch next door at Captain Nemo's - the steak sub sandwich is yummy.
Since 1997, Four Day Weekend has been entertaining Fort Worth audiences with clever comedy, quick improvisation skits, and crazy interactions. We went to the sold out 10 pm show, last Saturday night and howled at the humor.
The emcee, David Ahearn, got the show rolling with quick patter and observations about the audience and life. After that, the troupe - Frank Ford, Zachary Muhn, Ray Sharp, David Wilk, Anthony Bowling, Andrew Hamer, and Josh Roberts - alternated on sketches and bits. If the word given was "unicycle", they were weaving about in a hilarious circus sketch. A few lines fell flat, but all in all, their talent was astounding.
Ray and I agreed we'd go back - after all with a new audience, it's a new show every time.
I work for a small engineering test lab for the aerospace industry. The office and work areas are very basic (rather drab) and filled with tools and machinery. However, one of the guys surprised me with his artful arrangement - a bouquet of zip ties.
Sometimes it's the little things that brighten a day.
A Most Wanted Man is based on a John Le Carre
book. I should know by now – it’s going to be slow, ploddingly methodical, and
well-acted. Did I mention slow? I don’t think I’ve ever made it through a whole
Le Carre book. He’s a famous author and they keep converting his books into
movies, but they are rather boring, in my humble opinion. Hamburg,
Germany is the setting and the sun never seems to shine. A secret group of
German spies are following a rich Muslim man – they are convinced he’s moving
money from legitimate charities and businesses to a sea freight company that is
a front for terrorist work.
Then a Russian/Chechnya man named Karpov shows up in
Hamburg. His history is one of prison and possible terrorism. Somehow Rachel
McAdam as a lawyer takes him as a client. Her goal for the social service she
represents is to get him asylum. He wants to give away his late father’s money that’s
housed in a German bank – Bruhe Brothers. Willem Dafoe as Thomas Bruhe is
approached by the spy group to manipulate Karpov and ultimately get the goods
on the Muslim man. Sound convoluted? It is.
And the whole time, the head spy, Gunther (played brilliantly
by Philip Seymour Hoffman) sighs deeply, lights cigarettes, pours whiskey into
his breakfast coffee, and tries to stay ten steps ahead of the Americans (an
always sharp Robin Wright) and the regular German authorities. Gunther, so
disheveled, plays the spy game well and wants to work a legitimate deal. He
learns to believe in McAdam’s work and is convinced that the young Karpov is
not seeking trouble. He wants to be free to begin his life anew. But it takes a
long time to establish the cross, double cross, and WTF climax.
That’s the problem with A Most Wanted Man. You
want to know what’s going to happen. You enjoy the acting (the late Hoffman is
just so good and you feel sorry he’s gone), and yet you look at your
watch, waiting…..and waiting…and then, poof, it’s over. Spy work is slow,
plodding methodical, and sloooooooooow.
Had a great weekend in Fort Worth Texas. It's a nice city/town. Clean, friendly people, cool area to stroll, tasty restaurants. Just the right mix. Here's the birthday boy in Sundance Square enjoying the fountain show
It's not the Bellagio in Vegas, but it's fun. Everyone is snapping pictures and enjoying the vibe.
daytime - cool mural. Ate at the Cowtown Diner - awesome chicken fried steak. Huge thumbs down to Cabo Grande - bad service and cold food. Big time fun at Four Day Weekend - improvisation/comedy show. These guys were hilarious and clever. Many from Second City troupe in Chicago - 'nuff said. Only $20 - a bargain
View from my yoga mat on Saturday morning. The Omni Hotel was very nice - you don't get as much bang for the buck from a fancy hotel. We slept well and the staff was very nice, but c'mon - replenish the water bottles and give free WiFi - seriously, you charge? OMG - total First World problem.
Ray enjoyed the Swedish massage at the spa. I enjoyed the yoga and even did the treadmill at the fitness center. Just sitting in the lobby at 6:30 pm Saturday eve was entertainment. We watched folks roll in for a black tie wedding. Some stunning dresses. Some women were trying to NOT fall off their shoes. It was amusing to hang out and drink beer - we were clean and classy in our jeans.
Joanne Faries, originally from the Philadelphia area, lives in Texas with her husband Ray. She considers herself fortunate to be able to pursue a writing career after eons in the business world. Joanne enjoys reading and movies, and is the film critic for the Little Paper of San Saba.