Friday, February 27, 2015

Crazy Snow Friday

 Friday - began to snow in the DFW area around 9 am and continued all day. Bad roads reported so we were dismissed from work at noon.  Took me 3 hours to drive home 35 miles (normally 50 minutes maximum).  Ray had a 2-1/2 hour challenge. Highways and trucks don't mix well. My little Chevy Cruz did its job, but you had to really watch the snow/slush slippery effect.
 After all that time sitting in cars it was time to play outdoors. We took a walk as snow pellets bombed our faces
And the famous new waterfall in snow.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thoughtful Thursday

 We awoke to rain on Wednesday, which turned to sleet, and then snow. By 10 am, the sun was out and everything melted.

This was the snow excitement.   Now it's Thursday. What's ahead?   Locusts?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Theater Musical - Once

 I took myself to Bass Hall in Fort Worth on Saturday, and treated myself to an orchestra seat to enjoy the musical "Once".  It was originally a movie created by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. A boy and a girl meet - he's Irish, she's Czech and they bond over music for a brief period of time. But once is the spark that changes their lives. It's a nice little love story about chance, dreams, and two cultures.
 Excellent cast and voices. These photos are courtesy of an email from Bass Hall. No photography during the performance!
The musicians were superb and the song "Falling Slowly" is sublime. It won an Academy Award, and it's haunting. If a touring production of "Once" arrives in your town, treat yourself to a ticket and two hours of magic.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Thundersleet Stops DFW Area in its Tracks

 It doesn't look like much, but this is a Dallas-Forth Worth "Ice Event" - the latest weather terminology. We had thunder. We had sleet. Hence "thundersleet" - another new vocabulary word
 My boss texted this morning to NOT come for now. Heavy sleet and bad road conditions. We might reassess at noon. A co-worker with 4-wheel drive called me and said he was headed back home - too nasty.
So, for all my friends in the Northeast - you are working far too hard with the shovels and plows, etc.
All it takes is a quarter inch of sleet to halt the DFW economy and world. I am home safe and warm.

Poor Ray - he headed out - east to north Dallas where Knight Electronics does not stop. I haven't heard from him.....hope he's okay as of 8:15 this am.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Oscar Time - Predictions Part 2

Thanks for coming back - Here are my predictions for some big awards

Best Actress

Julianne Moore/ Still Alice – it will be a huge surprise if she does not win. Her performance in capturing Alzheimer’s decline is superb

Marion Cotillard/ Two Days, One Night – haven’t seen it, but lots of buzz on this one

Reese Witherspoon/Wild – she was perfect as Cheryl Strayed. Reese does spunky well

Rosamund Pike/Gone Girl – absolutely chilling performance as a cunning scheming double crossing wife

Felicity Jones/Theory of Everything – strong backbone behind Stephen Hawking. Charming and worthy 

Best Actor

Eddie Redmayne/ Theory of Everything – he’s the frontrunner and gave a physical and emotional depth to Stephen Hawking. Math and science proved exciting

Michael Keaton/Birdman – didn’t see it, but he could knock Eddie off his perch

Benedict Cumberbatch/ Imitation Game – as Alan Turing, he made a brilliant maddening man human. Excellent

Steve Carell/Foxcatcher – creepy and intense as John DuPont. You wouldn’t recognize him

Bradley Cooper/American Sniper – he lived, breathed, exhaled, spoke and embodied Chris Kyle. Not just a pretty face


And drum roll please………… This category has tightened up and could be a surprise.

Best Picture

Boyhood – director Richard Linklater filmed a boy’s story over twelve years. We saw him grow into a young man with all the drama in between. Poignant and rich. My personal fave

Birdman – Alejandro G. Inarritu – this one has been rising. I did not see it. My father called it quirky – not sure if he liked it. But it seems to be a critical favorite

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson. This is very inventive, creative, gorgeously filmed, and unique.

The Imitation Game – the story of Alan Turing and the cracking of the Enigma Code is exciting and well acted

The Theory of Everything – the story of Stephen Hawking – it’s math, science, disease, and a love story. Brings a sniffle

Whiplash – a brilliant teacher and a skilled kid on drums. Apparently Miles Teller whips up a fantastic performance as the student

American Sniper – the toll of war on a man – we go inside the soul of Chris Kyle – brilliant marksman, patriot, husband, father, and a bit of a broken man. This is the box office winner and is worthy of attention.

Selma – a snippet of a pivotal time in US History. 1965, Selma Alabama and Martin Luther King Jr leads a quiet protest that grows and leads in the fight for Civil Rights and the Voting Act. Great performances and quite a story, quite a man.  

If you missed them in the theater, it’s time to fill that Neflix queue. I’ve been filling in the blanks and seeing some great performances. Step out of your wheelhouse and be enlightened and entertained. Have tissues handy for some, or ready for a laugh on others. There is so much creativity in this world. Dim the lights, have your bowl of popcorn ready, and escape.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Oscar Time - Predictions Part 1

Hooray for Hollywood. I love the movies, as you can tell from all of the reviews I post. So let's look at my predictions in a two part special edition.

The 2014 Oscars shall be a snoozefest. While critically acclaimed and well filmed, acted, and directed, these were not big at the box office. Until American Sniper came along, a majority of people hadn’t even seen these performances. Sniper would win if it was based on box office dollars. However, that’s not how the system works – there’s popularity, there’s advertising dollars, there’s all sorts of shenanigans we don’t know about. But Sunday, February 22nd shall be Hollywood’s big night. If nothing else, tune in for the opening introduction by host Neil Patrick Harris – that man is a winner.  

Let’s take a quick peek at the big categories – we’ll start with the first award usually given out to get the ball rolling 

Best Supporting Actress –

Front runner – Patricia Arquette/ Boyhood – over a twelve year span she played the role of the mother. Heartrendingly true performance. This is my pick

Laura Dern/ Wild – excellent job as we see her in flashback from Cheryl Strayed’s view

Keira Knightley / Imitation Game – she hung tough as the smartest woman in the room. Helped Alan Turing solve Enigma. I liked her a lot

Emma Stone/ Birdman – didn’t see this movie. But you can always count on Emma.

Meryl Streep/ Into the Woods – nope. She was fine, but I would not have nominated her. So-So singer in a musical


Best Supporting Actor –

J.K. Simmons/Whiplash – he’s the frontrunner as a tough music teacher

Mark Ruffalo/ Foxcatcher –he plays Mark Schultz – it did not end well on the DuPont estate

Ethan Hawke/Boyhood – he’s the fairweather father and gives a soulful performance

Edward Norton/Birdman – didn’t see him, but generally darn good

Robert Duvall/ The Judge – didn’t see him, but he IS Robert Duvall
check in tomorrow for Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Picture


Friday, February 20, 2015

Movie Review Madness: Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey is now out in the theaters and it’s quite an R movie. I’ve also seen reviews calling it Fifty Shades of Boring. I wouldn’t go that far. The first book in the trilogy by E.L.James was horribly written. I read it out of curiousity and figured the movie had to be better. It stars Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey – a fine specimen of a man. Dakota Johnson (daughter of Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith) plays Anastasia Steele. She’s a pretty girl, but a bit stiff – hopefully she can buy some acting lessons with her paycheck.
A brief premise. Christian Grey is the billionaire young man in Seattle who lives in fabulous locations, flies his own helicopter, has tons of cars, is great looking, can play the piano, etc – the full composite of any fantasy. (Remember this is a movie, folks. Yes in real life we want the guy who can change the oil in the car, can grill a steak, and picks his clothes off the floor) However, Christian has “issues”. Eh, nobody’s perfect. He was born to a crack addict prostitute and treated badly until he was adopted at age four by the Greys. His issues manifest themselves in his naughty playroom for nighttime activity. We shall be circumspect in our descriptions for this review.  

Anastasia is a new college graduate and a virginal beauty in her prime, with no idea of her allure. Christian wants her, but there are contracts to be signed. Ana learns about this whole new world, and questions it. There has been a big uproar for the books and the movie from folks protesting on behalf of women. I can see some points, but Ana is a consenting adult and has choices. She can and does say no at different plot points. 

All in all, not a lot really happens in Fifty Shades and some stuff is giggle worthy. The movie is better than the book, but just watch with low expectations. This is a filler movie for February. The trailer they showed late last year was HOT, and the soundtrack is actually rather good – it opens with Annie Lennox singing “I Put a Spell on You”.  
It’s February - the sky outside is fifty shades of bleak. You can warm up in a movie theater and kill two hours with pretty people and great skyline shots of Seattle, or start working on your taxes.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Birthday Month Every Month

I read a blip in a local Dallas magazine about The Birthday Party Project, and it captured my attention. I checked out the website which is very thorough, and I became more enthused over its mission.

They host kid birthday parties every month at local Women's Shelters. Cupcakes, balloons, games, music, and a lot of joy for an hour. As a volunteer I helped put up streamers, joined in a line dance (not well), and was there to chat and clean up. The lead coordinator was extremely organized with bins and the plan. I was very impressed.

The staff at the Arlington shelter were very nice and obviously cared about the attendees - the kids and the moms. The kids had a lot of fun and the one with the official birthday had a huge grin as he opened his package containing a football and a gift card.

I know I take a lot for granted in my life. Everyone should get to celebrate a birthday, but sometimes circumstances aren't right. The Birthday Party Project is working to make it possible.  Check out the website. They have been expanding to other cities - contact them if you are interested, and spread the joy of blowing out candles.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Movie Review: Selma

The film opens with Martin Luther King, Jr. (played to perfection by David Oyelowo) practicing his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. In contrast we see folks leaving a church, dressed up little girls on a staircase, when a bomb blast hits. This sums up 1964 and 1965 – a time of struggle and change in the Civil Rights Movement. The movie Selma looks at a small snipped of history – the peaceful march from Selma to Montgomery – the background, the discussions, the behind the scenes negotiations with President Lyndon Johnson (Tom Wilkinson), the hatred and the vitriol in the South, and the determination of African Americans to be able to vote without struggle.  

This is not a documentary and there have been arguments over some aspects of the film’s viewpoint of the White House actions. However, when it comes down to the people – to a woman trying to register to vote and being denied because she can’t name every county judge in Alabama  - Selma is a powerful movie with an excellent story to tell. The emphasis was on peaceful protest, and ultimately it did help the cause when a broader spectrum of the populace joined the cause. Priests and other clergy joined arms with Dr. Martin Luther King to preach a message of peace and to walk with him in Alabama.  

Excellent filmmaking and a formidable story to tell earned Selma an Oscar nomination. So many good movies this year, I don’t think it will win but it’s worth viewing. David Oyelowo embodies the spirit  of Dr. King. The Oscar nominated song “Glory” sung by John Legend soars over the end credits. You’ll march out of the theater contemplating history and a man. 

Friday, February 13, 2015


V – vacation – we always have a blast

Aawesome cook

L – laughs at my goofy stuff

E energetic, empathetic, and eternally amazing

N- nifty

T – tools – he has them and can use them


Nnaughty and nice

E - enthusiastic

To Ray - my eternal Valentine - I love you

To my blog friends - I wish you a happy Valentine weekend with love, laughter, and throw in a chocolate or two

photos courtesy of Morgue File

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Book Review: Family Furnishings by Alice Munro

Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2013, and the key to her writing is short stories.

The Nobel Prize presentation speech summed it up - Reading one of Alice Munro's stories is like watching a cat walk across a laid dinner table. A brief short story can often cover decades, summarizing a life, as she moves deftly between different periods. No wonder Alice Munro is often able to say more in thirty pages than an ordinary novelist is capable of in three hundred. She is a virtuoso of the elliptical and the master of the contemporary short story.

The Family Furnishings collection offers twenty-four accomplished tales. It is worth time and effort to read each story slowly, relish the details, and ponder her characters and their life choices.

I liked this line from the story Too Much Happiness - "Always remember that when a man goes out of the room, he leaves everything in it behind," her friend Marie Mendelson has told her. "When a woman goes out she carries everything that happened in the room along with her."

Observe life with Alice Munro. Read Family Furnishings.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Book Club Play

I usually see musicals when I go to the theater. However, The Book Club Play, caught my eye and had great local reviews. Thus, last Sunday a friend I ventured for lunch and some culture - a live theater experience.

The Dallas Theater Center offers a variety of worthy productions, and this was no exception. Written by Karen Zacarias and directed by Meredith McDonough, The Book Club Play brings us into the living room of Ana (Christie Vela) and Rob (Jeffrey Schmidt) who host the book club. Joining them are Will (Steven Michael Walters), Jen (Sarah Rutan), and newcomer Lily (Tiana Kay Johnson). Their love of books brings them together and now they are part of a documentary study about book clubs. The pervasive camera causes concern, and of course some things spoken or done (a cheating kiss) cannot be undone.

Not only is the camera intrusive, but the newcomer Lily is young and has them read Twilight. To go from classics to current throws a shockwave. And, to make matters worse, Alex (Brandon Potter) shows up randomly at the invitation of Jen. But this is unheard of. Book Club requires proper vetting according to Ana. There are rules. (Gasp!)

This play was well acted and had a lot of great lines. Anyone who loves to read, belongs to a book club, writes, or has anything to do with the written word will get a kick out of the references, jokes, and obvious love of literature and culture. The Book Club Play was a tight production, and we left smiling and vowing to perhaps once again attack Moby Dick.

 (and Rob - you should read the book, not just watch the movie)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Poem - Measles at Age Four

Measles at Age Four 

red spots exploded
every body inch speckled
fevered dreams
drenched in weariness

mom offered ginger ale
bendy straw for cracked lips
curtains shuttered
avoid sun weakened eyes
head ached, throat scratched
no interest in cartoons
signaled fever spiral

emerged from haze
limp, hard fought battle won
perhaps future kids
can avoid this disease
By Joanne Faries
(I was a kid just prior to vaccinations for measles, mumps, etc. I remember measles as the worst of the worst for me - just so darn sick. I don't usually climb a soapbox on this blog. However, how can there be any question about not getting vaccinated?)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Movie Review Madness: Foxcatcher

Foxcatcher tells the true story of the Schultz brothers – Mark and David – Olympic wrestlers and their life changing involvement with John du Pont (of DuPont fortune). We meet Mark (a superb Channing Tatum) and older brother David (Oscar nominated Mark Ruffalo) as they train in a rundown dimly lit wrestling arena. Mark’s life is training, training, training – then go home to watch tv, eat, and sleep in a barren apartment. It looks like a meager bleak existence. David is married with two kids and a sunnier outlook. One phone call changes the whole dynamic.  

Mark is helicoptered to the John du Pont estate outside of Valley Forge, PA. There he meets the eccentric man who fancies himself a philanthropist, sports enthusiast, and benefactor. He’s created a state-of-the-art wrestle training center and wants to help Mark and others train for  the Seoul Olympics under his “Foxcatcher” team name. He offers a guest house for living, food, drink, and a glimpse into the world of the rich. There’s also a dark side of drugs and partying.  

John du Pont is played by Steve Carell. You would not recognize him and he’s very worthy of his Oscar nomination. He’s eerie in his eccentricity, temper, possessiveness, jealousy, and bizarre sense of entitlement. He acts as if he owns Mark, and he wants David too. David resists but sees that Mark’s in trouble. David ultimately comes to help Mark, and he gets drawn into the payroll and du Pont circle. But he does not completely drink the Kool-aid, and this drives John nuts. Let’s just say – John with a gun in hand signals the end of the ride.  

Foxcatcher is a very good movie. It’s a tad long and I would have edited it down. However, the acting is fantastic and this insight into a murder story is chilling. Money does not bring happiness, and we see not only physical wrestling, but wrestling with demons brought to the big screen.


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Frozen Pond Poem

Frozen Pond
by Joanne Faries 

first layer glistened in the sun
second and more glazed surface bluish
until the ice was leaden gray, stolid  

word traveled before days of texts
social media was the knock on the door
excited squeals, exhorted to grab skates
caps, mittens, red scarfs, rustle of ski pants

we blew on our hands, then fingers fumbled
to lace skates. Gloves on, we wobbled
pushed off from makeshift log seats  

uncertain of space 

no indoor circle. No calliope
music blare or disco ball for couples skate
embrace freedom to dash, meander, spin 

avoid older boys’ hockey game
reddened cheeks, drippy noses
we exhaled fog and shouted, “Tag, you’re it.” 

until legs wearied, lungs burned
backside bruised from too many spills
afternoon sun waned 

we trudged home
skates clicked, dangled from our hands
kitchen light beckoned 

hot chocolate hope


Sunday, February 1, 2015


It's Sunday. One of favorite songs on the radio lately has been "Take Me to Church" sung by Hozier.

an excellent line that just strikes me is - She's a giggle at a funeral

I just love when you read or hear something that evokes emotion or an image or both..

Have a Super Sunday (yes, it's Super Bowl time). I'm ready for Katy Perry/Lenny Kravitz halftime