Monday, March 30, 2015

Ode to Spring

 You can't go wrong with a Sunday morning stroll at the Dallas Arboretum. What a splendid day.

Nature is talking.  Stop to listen.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Movie Review Madness: Insurgent

Insurgent is the second movie in the Divergent series, and I thought this was tighter than the book by Veronica Roth. I liked the whole series and reviewed the books in the past. But if you haven’t read them, no worries – just enjoy the action and adventure as Shailene Woodley (as Tris Pryor) kicks it up  a notch.  She’s a little thing, but she’s bad ass, and carrying a lot of weight on her shoulders. Her nightmares reveal her concerns – anyone she loves seems to end up dying. Her mother and father died protecting her and their factions. She killed her good friend Will, but he was going to shoot her first. Now she’s afraid for her boyfriend Four (handsome Theo James) 

They are hiding out with Amity under the reluctant protection of Octavia Spencer. But Jeannine (evil Kate Winslet) puts out a call to find all divergents. She needs someone to break the puzzle of the magic box that holds a message from the past. The army descends on Amity and Tris, Four, and Caleb flee. Tris and Four seek out Dauntless. Caleb decides to find his Erudite people. In their travels, Four encounters a surprise hiding amongst the factionless – someone he thought was dead, and still refuses to acknowledge. With life in disarray, Tris decides to face Jeannine, and subject herself to the puzzle test. So far no divergent has lived while trying to break the simulation tests.  

Will Tris prevail? Who shows up to help fight Jeannine and her Erudite empire – Candor? Dauntless? The Factionless? What is the message from the past and what does it bode for the future?

Is there life beyond the wall?  So many questions – go see Insurgent to root for Tris and Four. It’s the old theme – why can’t we all get along?


Friday, March 27, 2015

Bass Collection at the Kimbell

Fort Worth Texas is fortunate to have the Kimbell Art Museum And even more fortunate to have Texas philanthropy. Nancy Lee and Perry R.Bass amassed a fabulous collection of art work that is now on view at the Renzo Piano Pavillion. Thirty seven works - paintings and sculptures cover Impressionist to post WWII art.   The brochure features Claude Monet's Gare Saint-Lazare. 
I enjoyed a stroll through the exhibit with a good friend, Becky Thorne. We discussed the above Van Gogh - the thick slathered paint - we chose to behave and not touch the textured canvas. Lunch at the Kimbell buffet is always a treat - tasty creations with fresh ingredients.

A winning combo - art and food in the Ft.Worth Cultural District!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Movie Review Madness: Still Alice

Julianne Moore deserved her Oscar win as Alice in Still Alice.  Based on the book by Lisa Genova, this portrait of an intelligent, talented achieving linguistics professor who learns she has early onset Alzheimer’s is devastating. We see Alice celebrate her 50th birthday with her loving family. Then we see her jog and lose her way. We see her in a lecture falter and stumble over words – and words are her trade, her specialty. She repeats herself, forgets her son’s girlfriends name at Thanksgiving, and repeats again.  

Julianne Moore’s portrayal is reflected in her face. We can watch the flicker of confusion, the hesitation, and the despair. Alec Baldwin as her husband is dedicated and does a good job with his growing frustration and concern. The grown children all deal with the situation. The eldest daughter (Kate Bosworth) fears for her mother and also is worried about having children. The son does his best to help his father. Youngest daughter (Kristen Stewart) is pursuing acting, but does come home from Los Angeles to New York to be the at home caregiver. Stewart stretches in this role and is excellent as she asks questions, and truly touches her mother’s soul, even as Alice slips away.  

Take tissues. There are so many moments that just break your heart. Tough movie on a tough subject, and yet deep deep within she’s Still Alice.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Book Review: The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown is an interesting read as nine Americans rowed to an epic quest for gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. It was the Depression and the University of Washington’s eight oar crew was never expected to defeat the elite teams of the East Coast and go on to represent the United States in Berlin. But these were a tough batch of kids, accustomed to hard physical work. The author lets us meet them and feel their frustrations, fears, and anxiety. Joe Rantz in particular was abandoned off and on by his family. He truly lived hand to mouth to pay for school, and was often hungry. Rowing gave him an anchor – something to achieve, and the quest for the Olympics was beyond his wildest dreams.  

Brown paints a picture of an era and we see how the crowds gathered for rowing events. There was a huge rivalry between Washington and California schools. Up to 40,000 people would show for a regatta challenge – lining the banks of a river and cheering on their teams. As a reader, you will learn about the skill of rowing, the power and unison needed. You’ll learn about the boats – the craftsmanship needed for a fast lean line. And you’ll delve into the psychological aspect of rowing and how the coach had to blend the right personalities into a boat.  

I enjoyed this non-fiction book. I admit I skimmed a bit as I got closer to the end. I found it a teensy repetitive, and yet even though I knew the outcome I found myself eager to get to the Olympics and the big races. Oh no – the team is placed in the outer lane. Oh no – it’s rainy. Oh no – a key rower is dreadfully ill. There were so many factors against the U.S., and yet there was sheer guts and determination.  No matter what, you root for The Boys in the Boat and are giddy along with them in 1936.
Row, row, row your boat………..not gently down the stream, but all out muscle screaming flying like the wind.


Monday, March 23, 2015

A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal

What the heck am I going to write about for the month of April?
I am going to fill 26 days with ........................drum roll..........
Eye on Texas.   This crazy eyeball sculpture is in Dallas across from the Joule Hotel.  But Dallas and Fort Worth are too obvious to explore. I always say you should look in your own backyard for fun. Well, Texas is a huge state, so that's a lot of terrain and there are a multitude of little cities and towns.

 I'm going to pick a place for each letter of the alphabet and advise on the excitement - it could be one traffic light, maybe one historical marker, or perhaps something beyond unique.  Join me as I peruse a map and search out some good eats too.

I have a bizarre subtheme in mind too. But you'll have to read my blog daily in April to see what else is in store.

Oh, we're gonna have a ton of fun, y'all..........See ya in April

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Movie Review Madness: Cinderella

No animation, no singing bluebirds or mice. However, the new live action Disney Cinderella is truly a magical feast for the eyes. I shall mention Dante Ferretti, the production designer because he deserves high praise for the richness of the castle, ballroom, and the lushness we see on screen. Lily James is a gorgeous Ella – beautiful within and out. Richard Madden is a handsome Prince Charming. Helena Bonham Carter is a wifty fairy godmother. But it is Cate Blanchett as the Evil Stepmother who amps this movie. She just oozes selfishness and nastiness abounds as she turns poor Ella into the house servant when Ella’s father dies.  

They stick with the familiar Cinderella story. Raised by two loving parents, Ella wants for nothing. Sadly her mother dies but not without the words, “Have courage and be kind.” That motto shall sustain Ella. The father remarries thinking this will be good, bringing the Lady and her two horrific daughters into the home. But he dies, and Ella becomes Cinderella, sleeping at the hearth for warmth and cooking and cleaning. A chance meeting in the woods, and the Prince now seeks the commoner for marriage. But his father has other ideas. So a huge ball brings in royalty and the public. The Evil Stepmother schemes to have her daughters marry the prince. But Cinderella, thanks to the magic of the fairy godmother, appears at the ball and wins the Prince’s heart once again. The transformation scene is splendid – pumpkin to carriage, mice to horses, lizards to footmen, etc.  

At the stroke of midnight, Cinderella must flee the ball, leaving a glass slipper behind. The search is on for the girl’s foot to fit the slipper and become the Queen. Who shall it be? Will the ending be happily ever after? This is an excellent popcorn movie for the family. There were plenty of little girls in the audience wearing their princess outfits. And frankly, the motto “Have courage and be kind” is a good lesson for young and old. Cinderella is a classic and this movie upholds the tradition and more.  

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Poem: Whir

garage door opens
signals arrival of my love
he tosses keys, frowns, cycles mail
 slowly shakes off the work day
hangs dress trousers
crumpled shirt thrown
Into laundry bin
dons jeans and t-shirt
he can breathe
laces sneakers and smiles
“walk around the block?”
by Joanne Faries

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wordless Wednesday (Almost)

Just so you know, Bedford is safe from zombies.  Yes, Ray has been practicing with the fun targets I bought him.

Oh we do have a crazy household

Monday, March 16, 2015

Arts and Letters Live - Selected Shorts

 When you are a kid, you enjoy being read to out loud. Well, turns out - it's a joy as an adult, too.
The latest Dallas Museum of Art's program Arts and Letters Live featured three selected short stories read aloud by three known actors. Truly inspirational. The theme was Surprised by Love, and yes, each story had a twist.
Jane Kaczmarek (known as the mother in Malcom in the Middle) read The Proxy Marriage by Maile Meloy.  She seemed touched by the story herself.
Mary Kay Place (from the Big Chill to Big Love) has a wry sense of humor and she brought her voice to Who Am I This Time? by Kurt Vonnegut. This was my favorite.
Rene Auberjonois (Broadway and Star Trek:Deep Space Nine) gave a rousing read of The Big Cat by Louise Erdrich. This story built slowly, but was rich in description.
This program turned out to be a very fun 1-1/2 hours. Check it out if Selected Short Stories comes to your area. As an author, I've read my own writing out loud - it makes you think about word choice, rhythm, and whether there is a flow.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Spring Fling Saturday and Sunday

 I have not been out to the Dallas Arboretum this year. But their annual spring frolic has begun and even with the snow a week or so ago, tulips are blooming. Let's start our spring fling with these pics from my archives - 2009

I know we are all so ready for that pop of color, the freshness and purity of spring.

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Book Review: A Flavia de Luce Novel

Alan Bradley’s series featuring Flavia de Luce is awesome. She’s an eleven year old chemist/detective with a sharp eye, sharp tongue, and an interesting family. I’d start the series with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, but if you jump in with this book you are fine. You’ll just want to backtrack and read more. The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches is intriguing writing at its best – the Crime Writers’ Association is correct in giving author Alan Bradley awards.  

So, Flavia and family are at the train station in 1951 awaiting the arrival of her mother. Alas, Harriet de Luce, an English war heroine, arrives in a coffin via train. The whole town turns out for the event and a few stray relatives show up too. A man is pushed in front of the train and killed. Who did it and why? Also,  Winston Churchill makes an appearance and offers sympathy to Flavia plus a comment about “pheasants”.  So, while in mourning and confusion, young Flavia encounters more mysteries. Was her mother murdered and by whom?  Flavia works in her lab, finds her mother’s will, seeks clues from an old reel of film, and must unravel old mysteries.  

Her mother’s plane Blithe Spirit proves to be a pivotal turning point in the investigation. Bradley spins a good tale and mystery with plenty of red herrings and clues. It’s up to Flavia to figure things out and you can count on this way-too-wise for her age child. She resents not remembering her mother, and yet apparently looks and acts just like her. The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches is a rousing tale and Flavia de Luce is a worthy detective.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Six Word Memoir by Larry Smith

A good friend sent me an article (2/15/15) from her paper, The Philadelphia Inquirer. A local boy, Larry Smith is married to Piper Kerman (Orange is the New Black) and a prolific writer in his own right. He encourages folks to tell their stories and his Smith Magazine issued a challenge in 2006 - write your six word memoir.

Here's one of his:  Old mixtapes foreshadowing my postmodern troubles

He received one from his friend Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) : Me see world. Me write stories

So what's your story?

Here I am - She works to earn travel money


Landlocked in Bedford, yearns for ocean

Share your tale in six words.  It makes you think, that's for sure

Monday, March 9, 2015

Musical: Kinky Boots

 Saturday February 28, Linda and Tom Hoffman and I saw the musical Kinky Boots at Dallas Fair Park Music Hall. Wow - what a production.  Based on a true story that had been a movie, Harvey Fierstein wrote the play book and Cyndi Lauper created the music and lyrics for a Broadway musical. Now the touring groups are kicking up their heels
 Here are a pair of signed boots from the Broadway show
 Here's our touring group. Picture courtesy of an email sent by the Dallas production. The premise is Charlie Price has to save his family's shoe factory. His new niche is stiletto boots for drag queens, et al. In working with Lola/Simon, the key theme is acceptance of a person, even yourself, without judgment or preordained thinking and presumptions. The factory is a family and has to work together too. All in all -  fabulous sets, catchy tunes, lovely voices, and the show makes you smile.
Linda and I in our very basic shoes. We've been friends for over thirty years!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Soothing Saturday and Sunday

sometimes you have to be at the right place at the right time. It was 8 am and I rounded the corner to see this refracted light from our front door. The picture doesn't really do it justice, but the rainbow of colors was way cool

Friday, March 6, 2015

and more Texas snow

 behind this iced shed door is my snow shovel.  Why did I not put it in the garage? It's Texas, baby.
 The wind howled and the snow drifted
 Opened the garage this morning to find this daunting hump. Will my Cruze navigate it?  Ray reported no official lanes on the highway. We don't have plows here. They just spritz sand on the bridges.
 snow topper
I liked the pattern

We've had a challenging few weeks. However, temps should get above freezing by noon and by the weekend it shall be in the 50s. Next week - 70s.

That's the Texas way to handle winter.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Golden Books Legacy and more

 Took a little jaunt a week or so ago to the Irving Arts Center. It's about twenty minutes from my house. I was impressed - they have art galleries, a theater, and a small sculpture garden.
 The main exhibit I wanted to see was The Golden Books 65 Year Legacy.  They displayed fifty or more original artwork illustrations from Golden Books. Biographies of the artists were interesting, and one stuck out - Richard Scarry. Yep, he began in the Golden Book world. One of the richest illustrations was from Little Red Riding Hood. It was spectacular.
Another small exhibit contained gorgeous black and white photos by Terry Cockerman. He took them in the Big Bend area of Texas. Stunning contrasts.

I was very glad I took a little adventure on a Thursday. Poke around in your own backyard - you never know what you might find.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Book Review - The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

From the cover blurb – There she sits, the girl on the train. What she sees, gazing out the window, will change everything.  Indeed, Rachel rides the slow commuter train, often drinking gin and tonic from a can (yes, she has a problem). The train stops and she can see a young couple on their terrace. She names them Jess and Jason and assumes their lives are lovely. One day though, she sees another man kiss Jess. Later in the week, the news announces a woman is missing, and Rachel realizes that’s “her Jess”. Does Rachel have valuable information for the police? Is she reliable enough? 

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins is a page turner with a mystery, messy characters, and it’s a compulsive read.  The night the woman went missing, Rachel awoke from a blackout with blood on her head. She remembered something about the underpass on her walk from the train. She is a walking disaster – divorced but still calling her ex-husband Tom. She’s practically received a restraining order from him and his new wife, Anna, to stay away from them and their baby. Rachel’s lost her job and her roommate has issued an ultimatum and a date to kick her out.  

As Rachel tries to remember what happened to her that night, she realizes that the incident is entangled with the missing woman. She even reaches out to the husband (real name is Scott) who is a prime suspect. Everyone is fair game in this mystery. No one is a nice person and everyone has a complicated back story.  

p. 318  You can feel it: it’s like the hum of electric lights, the change in atmosphere, as the train pulls up to the red signal. I’m not the only one who looks now. I suppose that everyone does it – looks at the houses they pass – only we all see them differently.  

The ever present train gives the author, Paula Hawkins, a way of viewing the world from a different angle. It’s a neat perspective. Join Rachel, The Girl on the Train, and help her find herself and solve the mystery of one night. Don’t be lulled by the clickety-clack of the old train. Punch a roundtrip ticket – it could take a while.


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Silent Sunday

This was actually Friday afternoon.  Saturday turned to rain.  Sunday continued rain - a bit of freezing drizzle to add a nice glaze.

It will be 100 degrees in Texas far too soon.