Friday, July 31, 2015

Book Launch: Athletic Antics

She stood, frozen, at the edge of the diving board. At an early age, Joanne Faries demonstrated absolutely no athletic ability. In Athletic Antics, her latest humorous memoir, the author describes riding her bicycle into the back of a car; climbing trees and sliding (not on purpose) down them scraping every inch of her body; plus surviving the duress of junior high field hockey, lacrosse, and volleyball. 

YMCA swim achievements (Tadpole, Minnow, Fish, etc.) were halted by the diving board and the teacher nemesis, Ruthie. Would Joanne move on to accomplish Flying Fish and Shark? Could she squint enough to see the other end of the pool? 

There are men who sing hallelujah upon the birth of a left-handed son, a future Hall of Fame pitcher. Left-handedness can be a blessing or curse. In archery class, being left-handed did not result in a murder, but it came close. In regards to tennis, Joanne's initial serves baffled her opponents and nabbed a few wins.  

Joanne used every English teacher pass excuse possible to work on school newspapers or yearbook, but sooner or later she faced the horror of gymnastics and had to inch her way across the four inch by sixteen-foot balance beam of death. Track and field was not her forte, nor was basketball, soccer, or any sport involving one's hands and/or feet.  

As a follow up to her memoir My Zoo World about her fear of animals in an animal loving world, Joanne Faries looks at her athletic life in quirky fashion. Laugh at her foibles, identify with her unattractive gym class attire, and fall off the ski tow rope (on the wrong side) with her. Athletic Antics covers an assortment of sports, and according to her Wii Fit Plus, Joanne Faries cannot walk a straight line.
kindle version

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Thoughtful Thursday - Mount Rainier

 are you tired of my travels yet?   On our last two days, Ray and I enjoyed Mount Rainier National Park.  Our government does such a good job, I think, with the park systems. Just glorious scenery

It is a majestic 14,100 feet.  We were at 6400 feet at the Sunrise Visitor Center.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Book Launch -Robyn Alana Engel: Woman on the Verge of Paradise

Robyn Alana Engel is the author of  Woman on the Verge of Paradise. I met her as we collaborated on a poetry collection Old Broads Waxing Poetic and enjoyed her wit and wisdom through word choice. Her blog Life by Chocolate is a hoot, and thus a full blown book is a scrumptious treat.

This is a humorous poignant memoir of a woman on the verge........she's on the verge of anything and everything. As a young sprite with questions, to a woman still exploring life, with a chocolate sundae on the side, Robyn shares the ups and downs of love, dating, and the craziness of the human race. We've all been in so many similar situations, but Robyn explores the niches and niggles that loose tooth until it bleeds. You will soar with her on the good times, and feel the heartbreak of the bad times.

Travel with Robyn on her life journey in Woman on the Verge of Paradise. Make sure you have a chocolate treat nearby. You won't want to have to put down this book and search for sweets.

A humor example from the back pages of her book:
For fun, Alternative book titles: 1) Dates and Nuts, or Nuts and Dates (original title) 2) Celibacy and Suburbia 3) Dude, Really? 4) Why I Keep Duracell in Business 5) Robyn Engel: A West Coast Carrie Bradshaw Minus the Sex, Glam, Glitz, and 5,000 Square Foot Closet 6) Fifty Shades of Erectile Dysfunction 7) One Hundred and One Shades of Anti-Erotica 8) From Birds to Prince Charming: Did Cinderella Really Get An Upgrade? 9) Prince Charming: Richie Rich With A Foot Fetish or A Woman’s Dream? 10) The Oys of Sex 11) Chico and the Woman 12) Auntie Robyn’s Anti-Fairytale 13) Thirteen

Saturday, July 25, 2015


Favorite comic strip - Pearls Before Swine.
Stephan Pastis never fails to make me laugh

this one is perfection (and yes, I cut it out of old fashioned newspaper - and no I'm not handy with scissors)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Book Review: Early Warning

Early Warning by Jane Smiley is the second book in her new trilogy series.  I reviewed Some Luck when it came out.  The Langdon family in 1953 is about to change, just like America. Walter, the patriarch has died. Rosanna watches as Joe stays to manage the farm, and the rest of her five kids scatter from Iowa. Through the 1960s and 70s, the Langdon children each follow a different path in a rapidly changing world, and they marry and have kids of their own. Twin boys are best friends and bitter rivals. A girl whose rebellious spirit takes her to the notorious Peoples Temple in San Francisco. And a golden boy drops out of college to fight in Vietnam – he leaves a legacy that will send shock waves through the family for the next generation.  (cover blurb) 

Early Warning is rich in its mix of history and storyline. The characters have depth and as Smiley weaves her tale, the pages turn faster. I liked this book more than the first. I felt it flowed better and was more interesting. Then again, it covers more than the farm era. It’s an engrossing story of the challenges – and rewards – of family and home, even in the most turbulent of times. Jane Smiley delivers once again, and now I eagerly await the third and final book.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Baseball - Seattle Mariner Style

 Outside the stadium a huge seahawk pecks Ray on the head
 It was a sunny Sunday  7/12  in Seattle. Perfect day for baseball - not too hot, not too windy. Safeco Field was a very nice open ballpark. We were impressed
 Folks from CA took our pic and vice versa. There's no crying at baseball - everyone's friendly.
 cute statue
Saw this during a walkaround. Our seats were quite safe.  The Mariners did stink it up, losing 10-3 against the hated (for Texas fans)  Angels.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Movie Review: Trainwreck

If you do not know Amy Schumer’s humor, then I suggest watching her comedy shows first. She’s this blonde haired, blue eyed innocent looking gal with a mouth on her. Yes, a tad raunchy but quite humorous. Her new movie Trainwreck  (which she wrote) continues her comedy but morphs into a love story. The movie is very R – do not take kids to this flick. 

Basically, Amy was raised to not trust relationships. Her father and mother divorced when she was young and Dad was a ladies man. Mom has passed and Dad’s in a nursing home with MS. Played by Colin Quinn, he’s a loveable jerk.  Now Amy has a love ‘em and leave ‘em attitude, and we’re just talking for one night dates. She’s got a great job for a magazine in New York, and her boss (the terrific Tilda Swinton) has her up for an editor position.   

Amy is selected to write an article on the hot orthopedic surgeon in town, Adam played by Bill Hader. They are total opposites but do hit it off, and this concerns Amy. He actually calls her after their date and wants to see her again. Gasp! She’s not accustomed to dealing with nice guys that she really kinda likes.  Adam’s buddy is LeBron James, yes THE LeBron and the man steals his scenes. He’s great in this and is concerned that Amy’s going to hurt his friend.  
Family issues, job trials, and a love life are the crux of this movie. Amy has to grow up and face a new reality for her – trust and love can go together. I know that sounds super serious, but that’s the underlying current of the movie. The exterior portion is filled with hilarious lines, good acting, and a real chemistry. Amy and her sister Kim fight but are SO close. Amy and Bill Hader look like normal people and I think that helps make the film work.  

I was along for the ride from the beginning of this Trainwreck.  Big thumbs up for an adult movie (with some bawdy kidding around).

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Oh Canada - Victoria - a jaunt from Seattle

 We enjoyed the three hour Victoria Clipper ship over to BC, Canada. Part of the tour included the Butchart Gardens. Wow - this place is phenomenal, and we had a gorgeous day to view it.

Which one has thorns?
 Sunken garden fountain. When you come across this area, you gasp in wonderment.
There are happy bees thriving in Victoria.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Something's Fishy Around Here

 We enjoyed a day in the Pike Market area.  The flower stalls were outstanding
 Hoofed it over to Pioneer Square for the Underground Tour ( Thanks to floods and fire, present day Seattle is built further back and up from the harbor. But the original sidewalks and structures below exist. This tour is a hoot - interesting history and viewpoint of Seattle in the 1800s
 A sea otter entertained Ray at the Seattle Aquarium.
 Oh, the seafood. Yes, we saw the guys heave huge fish around.
Posing before we head to our Argosy Harbor cruise. I was happy despite the gray skies - wasn't working and I'm wearing a jacket. As I post this from home, it is over 100 in Dallas.......sigh.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Sweet Seattle Memories

 Back to work today. We awoke in Dallas and it was already 80 degrees. My car this afternoon read over 100. Sigh. Ray said I'm not allowed to whine. However, see these cloudy Seattle skies - loved it and the temps in the 70s.  Space Needle is a must see and do.
 Next door is the Chihuly glass garden.  Love the Space Needle reflection
 Onward to the EMP - experimental music project museum. We explored the whole place.
 Took a dinner break at the 5 Points Café - my favorite meal - a salmon BLT and home fries. Boy, it was tasty. Ray enjoyed excellent fish and chips.
Frank Gehry knows how to design swooshy buildings. It was way cool.  Lots more pics to bore you folks. Stay tuned through the weekend.  We had SO much fun.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

See Ya in a Week

 Ray and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary.  Officially it was last year on September 1st., but after this many years, what is time?   We shall have a blast - we've always traveled well together. I think he figures if I'm happy, then he'll be happy. I'm a map studier, brochure collecting fool. And with all of that info and a basic plan, we can still wing it.
 Our goal (Ray might not know it yet) on Friday is downtown Seattle - Space Needle, Pike Market, Chihuly Glass museum, and whatever else strikes our fancy.  Saturday is waterfalls/hiking nature walk near our hotel in Bothel (suburbs).   Sunday afternoon - Mariners baseball game. Mark another park off of our list
Monday - I'm psyched for a clipper ship ride over to Victoria, Canada. Tour of the city and a few hours at Bouchard Gardens. Oh, it won't be enough time, but that's okay.

Plenty to discover. So give me a week and I'll be back with more pictures and stories to bore you.
Gosh, I love to travel.

Then again, with the way the airlines are - we could get to Europe easier than Seattle. Deep breaths, please no crying our heels together three times and we're there. When will teleporting be invented?  Surely Elon Musk or Richard Branson have the magic key....

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Movie Review: Terminator Genisys

Terminator: Genisys is a rehash of the previous Terminator movies. The ones directed by James Cameron are genius. This new flick is entertaining, but there’s no real reason for its existence. Nonetheless, Arnold is badass and amusing. As he’s aged he sounds more and looks more like a machine every day. C’mon – he’s perfect for this part. It’s difficult to believe that the original casting was O.J.Simpson. That’s crazy.

So, there’s a lot of time travel to stop Skynet from existing, to save Sarah Connor, to save Kyle Reese, to have past young Arnold fight current old Arnold. Those effects are pretty darn tricky. Then you also have the melting metal machines who take on various personages and then reconfigures themselves. Again – I never get tired of those effects. I’m not going to discuss the convoluted plot, Either you buy into it, or you don’t. The main reason to see Terminator: Genisys is to enjoy the mayhem of the future, to relish special effects, and to hear Arnold say, “I’ll be back.” His line delivery is so perfect, and he has a sense of humor. You have to be in on the joke.  

Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese is fine for his role. Emilia Clark as Sarah Connor is decent. Again, watch the original for the originality and grittiness of good filmmaking. Watch Genisys to be amused. It’s summer, it’s hot, you don’t want to think too much. Buy the popcorn and let your brain rest. Root for Arnold. Look around you at all the people messing with their phones prior to the movie. Have machines taken over the world? Think about it.  

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Book Review: The Light Between Oceans

Tom and his wife, Isabel, live on Janus Island, the far reaches of southern Australia in 1926. It’s a quiet life as newlyweds, but they thrive. Sadly as a few years pass, so have three babies. Isabel is full of despair until a boat washes ashore. Tom finds a crying, healthy baby along with a dead man. Ever meticulous, he’s prepared to log this in his record and call for emergency help. Isabel, desperate for a child, says “No one has to know.” Those fateful words set them on a course of fear, distrust, sadness, joy, and on a journey about family. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman is a superbly written, hauntingly beautiful book.  

Lucy is the love of their lives, and yet Tom questions what happened to the mother. Why was the man in the boat dead, and was he the father? On a fateful trip to the mainland, Tom and Isabel are frozen as they hear a tragic story that must involve their daughter. But that’s the key – she, now age four, is their daughter. They’ve taught her, fed her, raised her, and loved her. They are all she knows. But guilt festers, and a secret is discovered. Two families must deal with Lucy/Grace and figure out how to find happiness.  

The Light Between Oceans is magical and heartbreaking along with being joyous and optimistic about the human soul. It’s about love and you’ll care deeply about the characters and their decisions.
In the dim light, Tom listened to the cicadas that seemed to tick the seconds away, thousands as a time….He came back to the present, to the hot walls and the thick air. The last rung of the ladder that  might lead him out of hell had been taken away. (p. 294)  The lighthouse itself is a solid  – a force for steadiness and goodness.  

I highly recommend this book. You’ll be caught up in a forceful tale as you turn the pages faster and faster and root for them all. You’ll look for the lighthouse in your life, a steady beacon of hope.


Monday, July 6, 2015

Movie Review: Magic Mike XXL

This review will not be a revelation. Either you liked Magic Mike and have been awaiting the return of the male “entertainers”, or you consider these movies sinful and refuse to pay money for filth. God Bless America because either way is fine. For those ladies (the grand majority of the viewing audience) who see Magic Mike XXL, you will not be disappointed. It’s ridiculous in a good way. It’s laugh out loud funny in a good way. And it’s ab-fabulous in a good way.  

It’s been three years since Mike (the ever fine Channing Tatum) started his furniture business. One phone call does it. He misses his boys and the big dance, and thus joins them on a road trip to a huge convention in Myrtle Beach. This is a light hearted road trip with the gang – Matt Bomer, Kevin Nash, Adam Rodriquez, and the magnetically hot – been working out a lot – Joe Manganiello. There’s a brief mention of Dallas (Matthew  McConnaughey) from the first flick, but we dismiss him and move on. The boys banter and agree that they need new material. So, in one day they get Jada Pinkett Smith on board, and they are funded by Andie MacDowell. Just don’t ask how…. Extreme choreography, costumes, lighting, and of course our boys get the top time slot in the convention show. It’s raining men and money.
Magic Mike XXL has great male bodies and dancing.  That’s the point of this light hearted guy goof, and it heats up the summer movie screens for women. This is not a family flick. This is not date night. This is go out with your friends, ladies night. Just have fun and enjoy the eye candy. It made me smile (and that’s one of the jokes).

Friday, July 3, 2015

Happy July 4th Weekend

 My head almost exploded at the price of fireworks this year. Guess it's been a while since I bought some. But here's our admission to son Kevin's party in the country. Let's count all fingers and toes on July 5th
 Old Glory should wave in sunshine this weekend. Weatherman said chance of isolated showers. I don't believe him
Happy Birthday America!   My grubby little fingers have touched the Liberty Bell crack at Independence Hall in Philadelphia back in the day. Now the Bell is behind glass in a separate pavilion. Still very cool to see, and to walk Philly's cobblestone streets of history.

And Mark Twain's good for a quote for July 4th - The modern patriotism, the true patriotism, the only rational patriotism is loyalty to the nation all the time, loyalty to the government where it deserves it.    1905

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Movie Review: Aloha

Aloha can mean hello or goodbye in Hawaii.  Or, in the case of this movie title, it can mean snoozefest. There is no real point to this movie. I sat there watching it, a few weeks ago, and not caring about what was happening to the people. The only good thing is the setting – Hawaii is absolutely beautiful and the colors pop on screen. I wish I could say that was true for the acting. Bradley Cooper looks good, crinkles his baby blues, and meanders through the film. Rachel McAdams is pretty and she tries to look annoyed at Bradley. Emma Stone (whom I normally like a lot) is pretty and is trying way too hard in this film to be believable as a tough taskmaster who’s in charge of managing Bradley.  

The general gist of the film is how Bradley Cooper, as a defense contractor, learns about a secret satellite launch and has to foil the scheme. But the film is billed as a romantic comedy. Thus there are mixed messages and none of the plot works. The flirtation is not steamy. The evil doing is not that tense. Even more disappointing is that Aloha was directed by Cameron Crowe. What was he thinking?
I’m guessing the film crew surfed a lot and drank Mai Tais. They could write off a nice trip to Hawaii and hope for success in DVD and streaming. All I shall say is aloha………..goodbye, don’t waste your time.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

Photo courtesy of Ray Faries from his family reunion Saturday 6/27/15 near Emory TX

Thanks Ray