Monday, February 29, 2016

Mellow Monday

 Let's have a mellow Monday as we gird our loins for Super Tuesday.  I promised more flower pics from the Dallas arboretum
 Last week was just a preview of spring

 The Wright Brothers got to dream near White Rock Lake
Albert Einstein - just chilling........

Happy Monday - and yes, it's Leap Monday.....nothing like a bonus day in February

Friday, February 26, 2016

Oscar Countdown

Sunday February 28 is Hollywood’s big night – The Academy Awards. And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actor
Leonardo DiCaprio/The Revenant – he’s the big fave. I have not seen the film and don’t plan to, but I’m sure he’s worthy. He fought a CGI grizzly bear!!
Matt Damon/The Martian – fun choice and so good
Bryan Cranston/Trumbo
Michael Fassbender/Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne/Danish Girl

Best Supporting Actor
Sylvester Stallone/Creed – seeming the sentimental fave. He was good but Michael B. Jordan deserves this nomination
Christian Bale/The Big Short – oh he can do crazy smart well
Tom Hardy/The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo/Spotlight – spot on
Mark Rylance/Bridge of Spies – superb and subtle

Best Actress
Brie Larson/Room – big fave and I agree. She blows you away
Cate Blanchett/Carol –captivates
Jennifer Lawrence/Joy – frankly she acted well, but not a winner. (annoying movie)
Charlotte Rampling/ 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan/Brooklyn – truly a stunning role in a tiny but excellent film

Supporting Actress
Kate Winslet/Steve Jobs – she won the Golden Globe and is always up for a great classy speech
Rooney Mara/Carol – should be a lead actress nom
Rachel McAdams/Spotlight – good job in a large ensemble movie
Alicia Vikander/The Danish Girl – she’s an up and coming actress
Jennifer Jason Leigh/Hateful Eight – crassly good  in this gross flick

Best Picture/Director
The Revenant/Alejandro G. Inarritu – seems to be the hot choice right now
Spotlight/Tom McCarthy – my personal fave. It was hot early on, but seems to be fading
The Big Short/Adam McKay – clever, sharp, and oh so edgy
Bridge of Spies – well done
Brooklyn – a classy little film. Worthy of watching
Mad Max: Fury Road/George Miller – ugh in my opinion. One big chase and a bit of a bore
The Martian – quite entertaining and worthy crowd pleaser
Room/Lenny Abrahamson – intense and well done, but tough subject

Good luck to all………..Hollywood still churns out some very worthy product that stretches the mind and soul. They entertain, amuse, and can make us weep.

Chris Rock as host should prove interesting as usual. The man is astute and funny. 
Happy Weekend everyone

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Winter Howlers

This time of year is the dumping ground for new movies. The film industry hopes you are checking out the Oscar contenders, but if not they still fill the theaters with product. Here are a list of movies that I have no interest in seeing and will probably end up on DVD or streaming soon. The brief commentary I give is based on Entertainment Weekly and The Dallas Morning News reviews. So spend your money wisely – welcome to the winter howlers:

Hail Caesar – Coen brothers salute to Hollywood with an all-star cast. I’ve heard mixed things – I think it could be amusing if you don’t expect a lot. George Clooney plays a matinee idol screen star who’s dumb as a stump and kidnapped for ransom. Hijinks ensue

The Choice – more Nicholas Sparks claptrap. Boy meets girl. Can boy woo girl? Drama ensues

The Boy – creepy horror, if you like that thing. I heard this was actually okay for the genre

Fifty Shades of Black – the Wayans brothers make fun. No doubt some cheap laughs

Dirty Grandpa – even Zac Ephron with his shirt off can’t save this one

13 Hours: Secret Soldiers of Benghazi – better to read the book or watch the news

The Finest Hours – bad accents at sea. Better to read the true story book

Jane Got a Gun = oh Natalie Portman, you can do better

The 5th Wave – young adult angst and end of the world

Ride Along 2 – Kevin Hart is really funny but I heard this was a complete repeat of Ride Along 1. Surely Ice Cube and Kevin could have been more original

Daddy’s Home – this actually sounded very amusing and got decent reviews. I just never made it to the theater. Will Ferrell is the awesome, upstanding stepfather. Mark Wahlberg is the deadbeat dad back in the picture. Competition and hijinks ensue.

After reading this list………maybe get back to your Netflix streaming – so many good shows, so little time  (check out Chelsea Handler's four documentaries.  Also watch Australia's very funny Dreamland)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Wordless Wednesday (Almost)

 Spring Fling time at the Dallas Arboretum.  Actually it starts next week, but no one told the flowers - they are in bloom NOW!

 special sculptures placed around the grounds. I hung out a bit with William Shakespeare
Linda T. and I had a chuckle with Mark Twain

You folks will get tired of all my flowers pics - I have a ton waiting to blossom as "filler".  Enjoy!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Scout's Honor

Harper Lee passed away on Friday at the age of 89. She won the Pulitzer Prize for her book To Kill a Mockingbird, now an American treasure. She continued to live in Alabama, and stayed true to her roots and valued her privacy. The book, her words, shall live on......

p. 9  Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it. In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop: grass grew on the sidewalks, the courthouse sagged in the square. Somehow it was hotter then....
The story is told by Scout, a tomboy nine-year old girl now grown up -  looking back and reflecting....

Scout, her older brother Jem, friend Dill (based on boyhood friend, Truman Capote), and father Atticus Finch - the noble lawyer - these characters come alive on the page. It's a small town southern tale, and a powerful story covering racism. It's an American story. And there's the elusive neighbor Boo Radley.

It's a family story with a strong father
He turned out the light and went into Jem's room. He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning

If for some bizarre reason, you have never read To Kill a Mockingbird, stop reading this blog, go get the book, start reading, and don't stop. If you had to read it for school as a kid, now read it as an adult. Oh you'll appreciate it all the more.

and if you have never seen the movie version, well for goodness sake, Gregory Peck embodies Atticus Finch. It's a worthy version of the book.

R.I.P Harper Lee - American author

Friday, February 19, 2016

Ode to Winter

Gray matter

 chill permeates
toes to nose

gloomy day

Picture taken in 2010.  Poem written in February 2014
I dedicate this to all my blog friends enduring winter weather. This year in Texas, we are warm

and on that note - Happy Weekend everyone

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Movie Review Madness - Pride and Prejudice AND Zombies

If you have never read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, well shame on you. It’s a literary classic in a good way. And if the movie version doesn’t bring to mind Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy…well, never mind. This just isn’t for you. But…if you are all things Austen, then make haste to see Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  What sounds horribly wrong actually works. Seth Grahame-Smith did the mash-up version. He was loyal to the book and language and threw in a zombie apocalypse for good measure. The book was quite humorous and now on the big screen, it is a kick-ass tale from the 1800s.

Elizabeth Bennet (the lovely Lily James) is “a ruthless slayer of the undead hordes” (Time mag.). She and her four sisters still seek husbands to ensure financial security, and much of the movie still embraces the manners and morals of the time. Elizabeth meets her match with Sam Riley’s Darcy – together they pinwheel through the air wielding weapons. Their swordplay and wordplay prove to be electric.  Elizabeth looks out for her older sister Jane (charming Bella Heathcote) who must marry first and falls for the dashing new neighbor. But are the Bennets worthy? There’s quite the dance, but love indeed wins out and zombies are slayed too.

Intelligence is key to the Austen primer. Fortunately “our Elizabeth is fully capable of taking care of herself, but it’s still nice to have a man around the house, especially when zombies are afoot.” (Time)
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a lark in all the good ways.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Movie Review Madness: Deadpool

From the opening credits to the final post credit teaser, Deadpool is snarky, spiky, and hilarious.  This is the anti-Marvel super hero who protests, “I’m no hero”. Instead self-mockery has him busting the fourth wall. He turns and talks to his audience, lets us in on the joke. Ryan Reynolds has finally received the perfect role. He can show off those abs as he’s tossing a Sexiest Man Alive magazine. He voices a smirk with every line and we eat it up. This is a perfect date movie – action, crazy violence, and Reynold’s butt. Deadpool is very, very R – do not bring your children.

Director Tim Miller keeps things hopping. We meet Deadpool as he’s shooting up some bad guys. Flashback to Wade Wilson, a slick mercenary diagnosed with cancer. He’s got the perfect girlfriend, Vanessa (lovely and smart Morena Baccarin) – a montage of their “fun” together is a highlight reel of HOT holidays. Trust me. Wade turns to evil Ajax (Francis played by Ed Skrein) to cure his cancer, but alas he is turned into a mangled face cancer-free mutant. Wade dons his red spandex, becomes Deadpool and seeks revenge for losing his face and (perhaps?) his girl (his choice).

The whole time he’s shooting or sword slashing, he’s mouthing commentary – lots of culture references along with a Hugh Jackman/Wolverine salute. It’s all in good fun. I keep using that word because this movie does not take itself seriously. It’s truly crazy amusing, fast paced, nutso entertainment.

February (or any month you see it) just got FUN.

Friday, February 12, 2016


Happy Valentine's Weekend

special hug for Ray

(for very funny Anti-Valentines - check out )

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Maverick Speaker Series - Ron Paul

A week ago Tuesday evening, Ray and I headed to The University of Texas at Arlington for another segment of the Maverick Speaker Series. This one presented former Texas Congressman, Ron Paul. In a one hour speech he discussed "Liberty Defined and The Future of Freedom".

Interesting man of conviction. He has been a "consistent spokesman for limited constitutional government, low taxes, free markets, and a return to sound monetary policies based on commodity-backed currency." (from the program blurb)

I have to say he was like a grandfather rock star to the students in attendance. It was an enthusiastic group with plenty of applause for his tag lines. He told the kids they were inheriting a mess, but it could be cleaned up with common sense. He's an advocate of personal liberty and feels that concept has been hijacked from its true form.

In one hour, he could not flesh out major policies. However, he gave salient points to consider and in an ideal world, a lot of it made sense. He talked fast and threw out a lot of history and where things went right and wrong (in his opinion). My head was spinning by the end - I needed more time to ponder a lot of his theories.

Bottom line - the talk made me think, it made Ray and I talk, and I assume students came away with a reason to do some research and dig deeper into America's issues. It was good to get out of the house on a Tuesday night and meet a maverick - Ron Paul.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Poem - Yellow Splash

yellow splash

amidst crunchy brown grass
flower stalks bent after
february freeze
shed shriveled leaves
forlorn garden remnants
gasp, surprised by tepid days
shocked by bitter cold nights
wind chill factor fury

yellow burst blazes
blisters raw winter canvas

one dandelion


by Joanne Faries

Friday, February 5, 2016

Be a Doll

Here I am with Dolly. Apparently she was a favorite friend back in the day. But after those very early years, I was not infatuated with dolls or remember playing with them much. I was certainly not a collector.

I remember Thumbelina. She had a wind-up key and from the commercials she should have been kicking her legs and practically rolling over and standing up. False advertising and major disappointment when mine on Christmas morning barely stirred.

Most of my dolls ended up with bad haircuts. I was not handy with scissors anyway. I cut what I knew. Looking in the mirror, all I saw were crooked bangs. I cut 'em, as I saw 'em. My mother wasn't pleased.

As for Barbie, I probably owned one, but it's not memorable. She did not influence my life. Thus I read the 2/8/16 issue of Time Magazine with curiosity. Barbie is on the cover and there's a whole discussion about American beauty, culture attitudes (now there's curvy, tall, and petite sizes), and the message being sent to impressionable brains by a doll.

But, face it  - Barbie means bucks for Mattel Corp. If she ain't pulling in the dough, she has to be put out to pasture or reinvented.

And for kids they care about the tangible product there an app for that?

So - what are your thoughts on Barbie? Were you a doll (or action figure) connoisseur?  Any favorites?  And how many of you flung your toy from a catapult or had it careening in a toy car off a ramp you created?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Movie Review - Room

Room is absolutely Oscar caliber. Wow. The book was excellent and now the movie brings it to the screen. The author adapted the screenplay and that bodes well for quality Wow – I am still blown away.
The premise – a young girl (age 17) is abducted and stuck in a garden shed that’s on lock down. She bears a baby from her kidnapper and we first meet them both in “room”. He’s turning five and she’s twenty-four. Brie Larson (Joy) deserves an Oscar hands down. Jacob Tremblay (Jack) deserved a nomination.  The performances are touching, nuanced, and amazing.

She’s raised this boy without the “father” seeing him or being involved. She puts up with Old Nick’s visits and forced sex.(The boy goes to the closet).  She only has a skylight and television to remember the outside world and freedom. Now that Jack turns five she knows he is her link – her chance for them to escape. She has to explain concepts of the real world. At first he doesn’t grasp it, but then thinks things through. He’s reading Alice in Wonderland and she equates some of the concepts.  She works up an escape plan (I won’t give away details). And it works (this is not a huge reveal) but has consequences.

The second part of the movie is about re-adaptation to the real world for her, and new adaptation to a whole new world for Jack. Who does better?  I’m sure you can guess but the journey is fascinating and well done. Joan Allen as Joy’s mom is always excellent. She thought she lost her daughter and now she’s back. There are lawyers, media,  etc to deal with. The world has moved on while Joy was stuck in the “room”.  For Jack, that was his “world”.

Room is touching and gives one perspective. I can’t emphasize enough how well acted this movie is. You feel for Joy. And Jack is a revelation. ..he’s a newborn at age five.  Wow. I keep saying Wow. Trust me – join me in saying Wow! It’s a tough subject and yet (I’ll give this away) it ends well. There’s hope for all.

Monday, February 1, 2016

such a gorgeous weekend

 Holy cow - it was perfection in North Texas this weekend. Up in the 60s or more.  Clearest blue skies and minimal wind
 We're talking lawnmowers and leaf blowers - no snow blowers, obviously  - sorry my Northeast friends
 Local Chisholm Park in Bedford.  Above - a wood duck - such pretty colors.
 Fat ducks thanks to all of the bread folks throw in the pond.
Ray and I got in our steps and enjoyed the calm.