Sunday, January 31, 2016

Meadows Museum - Fifty Years

Treasures from the House of Alba: 500 Years of Art and Collecting was a landmark exhibition.  More than 140 artworks were shown - paintings, tapestries, and sculptures. These normally reside in palaces in Madrid, Seville, and Salamanca.  Titian, Goya, Rubens, Rembrandt. It's a who's who of art including from 1426, Fra Angelico's The Virgin of the Pomegranate - this piece glowed.

The current Duke of Alba (the 19th) actually came to SMU to open the show. The collection never traveled before. This is quite the coup for the Meadows Museum. As of 5 pm Sunday, January 3rd, the exhibit closedand headed back to Spain.

Kudos to director Mark Roglan for his hard work in coordinating such a splendid show. The Meadows Museum is a classy gem, and should be valued in the Dallas art world. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Book Review - Rainbow Chasers

Rainbow Chaser by Connie Biltz is a book full of lovely poetry.  There is no hidden agenda, no secret symbolism, no need to be afraid of poetry.  She uses imagery, rhyme, whimsy, and the unexpected in her poems (cover blurb)

I enjoyed her humor and sheer joy in her approach to the world - nature, family, everyday  life.

I cannot pinpoint a favorite poem - they are all filled with joy and wonder. The author is authentic and she gives subtle pause.......subtle surprise as she views the world.

I highly recommend this book.  Become a rainbow chaser and embrace the poetry of Connie Biltz. You will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wordless Wednesday

okay - I have to say something.  These are teensy panes from a stained glass art piece in the office (writer cave)

the light was shining just right the other day and I snapped these pics

so peaceful and yet deep


Monday, January 25, 2016

Movie Review - The Big Short

The Big Short is an excellent movie. Who knew a movie about the housing bubble could be hysterical? This movie is frenetic, serious, comical, fast paced, irreverent, and brilliant in its scathing wit. Michael Lewis wrote the book – it is calm and clearly incisive in explaining how making bets against the housing industry seemed insane, and that banks were too big to fail. The movie throws calm out the window and with a wide range of characters played by Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt, and more – we see math and economics come to life as certain individual investors calculated the folly of the subprime mortgage industry.

This movie explores the folly of humans and the trust they put into the financial system. The hubris of Wall Street and the billion dollar money flow proved explosive. The movie explains some of the more esoteric terms (collateralized debt obligations or synthetic CDOs) with examples by chef Anthony Bourdain creating a new stew from three day old halibut, or Selena Gomez at a Vegas gaming table. The movie is splashy and scary as we hear Melissa Leo (an official at Standard & Poor’s) explain away ratings because she can’t have the customer go down the street to Moody’s. As the Wall Street Journal movie review says, “high dudgeon gives way to heightening disbelief, followed by horrified belief, about rampant deception, self-deception, and the system’s frailty.”

Great acting all around. Clever film making about a darn tricky subject. The Big Short is smart and sharp, and as a movie will not sell you short.  Expect to see a lot of Oscar buzz on this one. And unfortunately do we learn from our mistakes? Alas, money makes the world go round, and up and down, and bubbles burst. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Not a Blizzard

feather flake wisps

swirl outside my window
layers of gray clouds
explode like a pillow fight
dervish whirlwind of white
blankets the earth
shroud of calm
muffled sounds
until boot crunch steps
erase the pristine land

I'll dedicate this to my Dad, sister, brother, and all the hearty souls back East who are under blizzard conditions. My poem is how snow should be presented. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Book Review - Humans of New York Stories

Cover blurb -Humans of New York Stories   is the culmination of five years of innovative story telling on the streets of New York City. Photographer Brandon Stanton has stopped, photographed, and interviewed more than ten thousand strangers, eventually sharing their stories on his blog - Humans of New York.

This book is a compilation of this work and it is fascinating.  Whimsy, humor, brashness, bragging, humble, heartbreaking, shy, outgoing, pathos, and so much more. Every picture, every quote demonstrates the incredible variety in humans and their spirit.

You truly can't make up this stuff. Reality is astounding.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Movie Review - Carol

Carol directed by Todd Haynes is a lush period piece set in the 1950s.  The cars are vintage. The sets are stylish. New York City absolutely shines. The stars are stunning.
Cate Blanchett won her Oscar for Blue Jasmine because she dominated the screen.  In Carol she has to share it with Rooney Mara and it’s worth it.  This is a low key artsy flick about forbidden love.
It’s very modest, unassuming, and totally hot.

Carol (Cate Blanchett) is rich, married, a mother, and yet very much on the prowl.  Therese (Rooney Mara) is young and working a Macy’s counter in the 1950s. Cate leaves her gloves. The rest is magic.
This is a complicated tale of a growing fascination and love.  Therese is almost engaged to a young man. Carol is married to the very rich and powerfully conceited Kyle Chandler. How could she resist?  And yet, her college friend (Sarah Paulson) provided complications in the marriage. Now Therese is bait. There’s a road trip where the women bond. It’s all done tastefully and discreetly and yet there’s Carol’s child involved.  Mental health issues. It’s a tough judging world in 1950s and Therese is collateral damage in the fight for love.

Rooney Mara is a gamine Audrey Hepburn. She’s young, beautiful, with huge soulful eyes and a soft manner. Cate Blanchett exudes style and rich knowledge. She’s dangerous and magnetic. What shall win out??  This is a very classically made film with good pacing, beautiful sets, and excellent acting. Nothing blows up, except a few hearts. Both performances are Oscar worthy but shall probably cancel each other out. Carol is just a really nice film, absolutely worth your time and effort. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

already gone - Glen Frey

My father took me and Helen to our first big concert - it was The Eagles.........I think their first tour. The Spectrum in Philly. Boz Scaggs (!!!) opened.

Helen and I weren't old enough to drive so I'm guessing we were junior high age. My Dad was way cool and loved the Eagles from Day One. I chatted with him tonight (he's 84) over the death of Glen Frey and we mourned together.

Take It Easy............and so many hits.  The Eagles were the soundtrack of my life.

He passed at age 67 - not that old in this day and age.  I've seen the footage "the History of The Eagles" and they were so damn good. Great songwriting, good singing, and a lot of charisma.

David Bowie this past Glen Frey.............the soundtrack of my passing away......

big sigh

But the music lives on............RIP Glen Frey

Motown The Musical - a toe tapping Sunday

Get Ready, Get tap your toe.......reach out and touch somebody.....ain't no mountain high enough.......ABC, Easy as 1,2,'s a Ball of Confusion........but not if you're with My Guy or My Girl

Hitsville USA - the roots of Motown and Berry Gordy. Quite the story and the epitome of the American Dream

Motown the Musical tells the story of Berry Gordy's dream and the soul/pop/R&B glory of so many artists - - Diana Ross and The Supremes, the Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Jackson 5, Martha & the Vandellas, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and the Pips, the Commodores......  The list is endless and the songs are etched in the songbook of my life.

I wanted to be Diana Ross when I saw her on Ed Sullivan. She was exotic and talented and sexy and beautiful.

And Michael Jackson..........oh my goodness - he was an old soul in a young body - so talented with that sweet voice and those dance moves.

I treated myself on Sunday to a ticket in the mezzanine at Bass Hall.  The lights went down, the show went on, and I was tapping my toe.  Bliss, absolute bliss - the voices were extraordinary and the dancing was like air.

I highly recommend Motown The Musical if the show rolls through your town.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Movie Review - The Hateful Eight

There’s good Tarantino – Pulp Fiction, and there’s bad – Django Unchained comes to mind. Let’s add his latest,  The Hateful Eight,  to the bad list but it could have been so good.  Someone needs to give director Quentin Tarantino a machete to cut this film from three hours to less than two. Someone needs to not be so indulgent with Quentin being so full of himself, and just say, “Get on with the story.”

The opening scenes are gorgeous as we watch a stagecoach in the snow. He also shows what looks like a gnarled tree is actually a stone crucifix – ah, symbolism. In the first hour, we pile a mix of outlaws and lawmen into the coach, only to arrive at Minnie’s Haberdashery in a blizzard, and find another group of suspicious characters. The clock is ticking for a bloodbath. Samuel L. Jackson is a principled bounty hunter given to well proclaimed pronouncements. Kurt Russell is holding onto Jennifer Jason Leigh, an urchin outlaw.  There’s a sheriff, a hangman, cowboy, and a general. There is leftover feelings from the Civil War and banter on racism and bigotry. Too much meandering, too much rambling talk, too many cold characters we don’t care about.

In the final thirty minutes, we find out why everyone is at Minnie’s except Minnie and her husband. Tarantino flashes back to show us the behind the scenes gathering of these vultures. It’s almost like an Agatha Christie game of Clue, only with extreme violence. It’s a shame. The acting is fine. There’s some interesting dialogue. It’s filmed richly and the musical score is grand. But, The Hateful Eight is cold and ugly, devoid of a reason to unspool.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Art Stroll and Variety

If you need an art fix, the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth has a superb exhibition on Gustave Caillebotte The Painter’s Eye.  Caillebotte (1848 – 1894) was a vital but low key member of the Impressionists. He had money and often bought his fellow artist’s works. He himself proved highly skilled in his perspectives – cropped figures, unusual vantage points, and views of daily life. The Floor Scrapers depicted shirtless working class men planing wood floors – shocking at that time. Caillebotte used a subdued palette and a structured style. His On the Pont de l’Europe and Paris Street, Rainy Day show geometric precision, and captured a scene like a photograph. The collection on view is impressive and worth a stroll. 

Also on view right now through February 14th, Castiglione – Lost Genius. Masterworks on Paper from the Royal Collection.  Giovanni Bendetto Castiglione was a creative man conquered by demons. He painted, was a brilliant printmaker, and a draftsmen with unbounded technique. He was also violent, erratic, and overly ambitious. Consequently, he moved from Genoa to Rome, and ended in Mantua, Italy. Now ninety fine drawings, etchings, and monotypes are on display. He worked during the 1640 and 50s – addressing biblical themes of death, decay, and earthly trials. Lighting and drama created stunning images. His own self portrait shows a dashing figure, determined and obsessed. 

And finally, step from the past into the future with Kehinde Wiley A New Republic at the Modern Museum of Fort Worth. This prolific artist has paintings of street life in Harlem. He explores African American men using European traditional portraiture. Contemporary likeness on ornate backgrounds offers a unique perspective. His World Stage project contains bronze busts, and a chapel-like structure with stained-glass pictures. The work is stunning, vivid, and exemplary. 

A Sunday afternoon alternative to football - exercise your feet, eyes, and brain

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Ch ch ch changes

Ziggy Stardust - ethereal unique rock creation

The Thin White Duke - ever evolving rock, pop, catchy hooks and phrasing

David Bowie left this earth but shall remain an influence forever

Changes - the yearning in that song gets me every time

Monday, January 11, 2016

Movie Review - Joy (or lack thereof)

Joy is not. It’s not a happy movie. It’s not an exceptional movie. It’s a rather annoying movie. I give it a solid C. A Facebook friend and his wife loved it. We had a short written discussion about it and agreed to disagree. Can I appreciate a character driven movie? Yes, absolutely. Have I liked previous David O. Russell flicks? Yes – Silver Lining Playbook and American Hustle were excellent. I found Joy rather tedious and just was not drawn into the line of storytelling.

Based on a true story, Joy is an extremely smart gal, destined for great things, who ends up working to try to make ends meet, to keep her kids fed, to keep her mother able to just watch soap operas, to keep her ex-husband still living in her basement and doing his singing gigs, and to take in her crabby father (an annoying Robert De Niro). The house is falling apart, and she seems to be the only sane one in the crowd. Jennifer Lawrence is excellent as Joy. I had no problem with her at all – she projects a fierceness and intelligence that leaps from the screen. I can be invested in her character and I wanted her to succeed.

She’s always been a thinker and an inventor, and she arrives at a concept for a new mop – one that has a detachable head for throwing in the washing machine, one that has a wringer effect so you don’t have to touch the dirty mop with your own hands. Ingenious! She creates a model, manages to convince Bradley Cooper’s QVC guy to take her on, and she appears on the show to sell the mop herself. Overnight success, right? Well, no. There’s a lot about patents and molds and contracts and getting ripped off and Joy battling everyone while still carrying everyone on her back.

It’s a pull one up from the bootstraps movie. Normally I like those. But – while I liked Joy the fighter, and Joy trying to be a business woman, I detested the peripheral characters and how they were presented. Admittedly, this was based on a true story and perhaps this poor woman really had to put up with all of these nut jobs, but I found myself very detached from the film. I kept thinking, “This is so annoying.”   Thus, it gives me joy to save you, the film goer, from seeing Joy. Consider this my first good deed of the new year. You are welcome. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

January Poem - Needled


I believe

I believe in Christmas obliteration

Joyous decoration occurs in early December
painstaking placement of treasured ornaments
heartwarming welcome to Santas and snowmen
time honored traditions prevail
two foot tall nutcrackers greet everyone at
the front door, while jaunty caroler figures
sing from bookshelves galore

the tree stands tall, as a red velvet cloth hides
its ugly stand. Shiny packages, complete with bows
beckon to be opened. Up until December 25th, Christmas
poses with no bad side for the camera.


it is over.

naked, the fake tree lists to port.
like a minesweeper I whoosh the figurines and baubles
into boxes. Done. Finished. Farewell faithful holiday
treats. Gaudy reds and greens seem too garish for January

Christmas does protest and tries to linger
lights refuse original packaging
one Santa hides on a far shelf, daring to be found and boxed

and no matter how often you vacuum, there are needles
the tree, in pieces, is stuffed into the attic

a week later                        needles
two weeks later                       needles

Easter arrives                                       needles

I believe they win

by Joanne Faries

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Movie Review: Star Wars - The Force Awakens

I had to go see Star Wars: The Force Awakens just because. This wasn’t just a movie. It was a life event.  I did not grow up enamored by Star Wars – I don’t think I’ve actually seen the original one from start to finish. It’s more of a cultural thing for me – I know the key players, and the whole “Luke, I am your father” thing. Just to participate in water cooler chat, I had to see this movie. And I did see it – I paid matinee price of $4.75 for regular digital cinema. I did not pre-buy. Instead my husband and I walked up fifteen minutes before show time on the opening Friday, and purchased seats. Theater ended up full enough but not packed. Folks stayed hushed, and I was entertained. Has my life changed? No. Will I need to see this again and again? No – once is enough. Could I participate in work conversation on that Monday? Yes, and I brought a different perspective for the young men who had such high expectations.

I understood the plot line without knowing the previous six movies. I enjoyed Harrison Ford as Han Solo – he seemed amused himself, like a kid who could lighten up and ultimately collect a large paycheck. General Leia (Carrie Fisher) has lived her nine lives and more. Our new heroine, Rey, played by Daisy Ridley is excellent. She has energy and chutzpah. Stormtrooper, hero Finn (John Boyega) is interesting as a conflicted warrior. Chewbacca growls. The new droid, BB-8, is very cute and a star. I won’t go into the story – it’s the old good vs. evil interplanetary style.

One problem, according to my guys at work – Adam Driver as Kylo Ren is a weenie. He’s in all black with a helmet and the breathing voice thing, but he’s NO Darth Vadar. Yes, there’s a light saber fight that’s shocking, but then what?

 Ultimately, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is not overpoweringly new film making. J.J. Abrams, the director, stayed true to the franchise and delivered a solid meal, but not a flight of fancy. It has potential with Rey and Finn, and maybe it can fly in some new directions. But for now, after all these years, it awoke, yawned, and stretched but did not soar. 

P.S. I realize I am not the target audience. The box office $$$$$$$$$$ are making Disney very, very happy. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Ease into January

I'm not ready for a major 2016 post. I'm not ready for January of a new year, or traffic, or accounting clean up of 2015, or being serious again.

So, Happy Monday.  Back on Saturday, a friend and I wandered into a store that was "giving" Christmas stuff away.  This fellow caught my eye and I decided he could hang out in the backyard for awhile.

If a scarecrow keeps the crows away from the crops, will a metal snowman keep away feet of snow and ice??

It's worth a shot. I'll let you know if it works