Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Almost Wordless Wednesday

 Oh lazy Tuesday night.  The brain says - pull together a blog post for Wednesday. Keep your fans interested.
 The lazy brain says - ah, it's summer. No one cares.  Let the clouds roll by and just swim laps. (I did)
 Lett's paint the picture in Bedford TX (right smack dab between Dallas and Fort Worth). The heat builds during the day. A blue sky slowly fills with clouds. Perhaps a rumble of thunder? Perhaps nothing. We had eight raindrops with sunshine. No rainbow. Other parts of the area are drenched. You never know. The cicadas are LOUD
 our wacky creature sculpture merely observes the seasons and tries to NOT corrode
My sun sculpture bakes against the brick. I have not measured that temperature but it's HOT

and that's a late June day in to plunge back into the pool (that measures 90 degrees F!!)


Monday, June 27, 2016

Book Review - The Crossing

Michael Connelly is a reliable author and his Harry Bosch character proves  steady. In  The Crossing, Harry is retired but pulled back into the game and even crosses over to the other side to help the defense. Mickey Haller (The Lincoln Lawyer) needs him to investigate on the down low, but of course that is impossible to maintain. A woman’s been murdered and Haller’s client, a former gang member, has been charged. But the more Harry digs, the more it looks like a set up. Lots of arrows point to an inside the police system problem.

Harry keeps digging and soon finds a trail of murders connected to a watch, a plastic surgeon, and more. Connelly builds suspense and as a reader you will enjoy pulling together the clues. Harry is reluctant and yet he’s bored as a retired officer. He’d rather be in the trenches, reading murder reports, and doing follow-up face to face. This is a very satisfying read that keeps you dodging bullets and rooting for Harry. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Serene Sunday

pulling out some oldie pics to fill up space. I am being lazy on a Sunday.  No need to comment.

Go relax and join me in thinking about nothing. Watch the clouds roll by

Friday, June 24, 2016

Frivolous Friday

 Pulling out some old photos I've had on the blog before.  It's Ray's reunion weekend - the family gathers in east Texas. Here's an oldie from over twenty years ago. This is a small portion. They'll have around 150 people attend. Oh these crazy Texans - it's far too hot for me. (They play volleyball...outdoors...and it's going to be high 90s..)  I send my regards.
 How about a calm lake pic to soothe any Friday nerves....
 Getting ready for upcoming July 4th. Need to dig out all things red, white, and blue
 Oh yeah - this is my idea of a big gun.  Wouldn't life be simpler if everyone was issued a water gun?
The booths should open next week out in the country. After work, I need to buy sparklers!!!

Happy Weekend, everybody. Stay cool

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Movie Review Madness - X-Men Apocalypse

X-Men: Apocalypse has had so-so  reviews from “real” critics. Me personally - I liked it.  For a Saturday cheap matinee, it was entertaining with good special effects, decent acting, and it moved along. I did not find myself looking at my watch or eager to edit this film down. Plenty of characters moved in and out of the story line and that kept my interest.

Worshiped as a god since the dawn of civilization, the immortal Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) becomes the first and most powerful mutant. Awakening after thousands of years, he recruits the disheartened Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and other mutants to create a new world order. As the fate of the Earth hangs in the balance, Professor X (James McAvoy) and Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) lead a team of young X-Men to stop their seemingly invincible nemesis from destroying mankind.
James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne, Olivia Munn, Evan Peters, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Lucas Till, Josh Helman, Lana Condor, Ben Hardy

It does seem appropriate to mention that this film is applicable to the concept today of “why can’t we all get along?”  Yes, mutants have different skills and might look unique, but for the most part, they just want to get along and make the world better. So root for Professor X, Raven/Mystique, and the “good” crew to destroy the evil Apocalypse. Enjoy the battles and marvel at our speed demon who can stop time – Evan Peters. That special effect is awesome.  

All in all, this is a very entertaining popcorn movie and keeps the X-Men franchise moving along. There’s humor, drama, and yes a quick Wolverine appearance – hooray for a Hugh Jackman sighting. 

C’mon, you know you should see this on the big screen.  Enjoy and reflect on what mutant skill you’d like to have.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Much to Celebrate

Here are my folks on their wedding day.  Juanita Shutters and George Crowther united in matrimony.

Sunday - I wish my dad a very Happy Father's Day

Tuesday - I shall remember my mom's birthday.  She passed in 1992 at the age of 60.

I'll be spending Sunday in Texas. Still healing from my toe surgery, I'm not flying up to PA to hang with Dad. My sister shall treat him to lunch and then stay for a few days to trim bushes, put down mulch, and have some laughs. He's not doing the greatest right now. A bad 2015 has continued into 2016 with assorted medical issues. But he's still in his original home, still drives a bit, and he's up on current events.

I'll think about my mom on Tuesday. She liked chocolate, reading, and worked hard. She kept track of my brother, sister, and me with an eagle eye and taught us right and wrong.

Two good people to celebrate here in June - my mom and dad

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Serenity Saturday

 Summer is here.  The first bloom on the crape myrtle burst onto the patio scene. In a week, the tree will be glorious
 You have to peek out early for the Mexican petunia blooms
We had this hacked back to nothing at the end of the year. It's going crazy once again and seems to thrive against the hot summer brick

Stay cool on this serene Saturday

Friday, June 17, 2016

Sail into the Weekend

Summer temps are here in Texas - heat index over 100. Whew!  I'd like to pretend to sail away. Here are pictures of Philadelphia's harbor courtesy of my sister. She was on a friend's boat last weekend. Aah - a sea breeze

Hope everyone cruises into a fun weekend.  Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

You.I.Us - Annalisa Crawford Grand Book Tour

Welcome to the Annalisa Crawford Grand Book Tour - she zoomed across the virtual ocean to visit me in Texas. We'll eat some Tex-Mex and Ray will mix up his yummy margaritas. Cheers, y'all

You. I. Us. is a collection of vignettes, small scenes which hint at the story beneath.

Annalisa has taken that idea to another level, because she asked 15 bloggers to ask her one question each, creating small insights into her life and writing.

I am pleased to welcome Annalisa - here is the question I asked her:

 You and your husband have careers in the arts. Your boys have seen the fickle nature of the business. Every career has its trials, however do you see them following footsteps into writing and/or music? Or choosing something deemed more steady and reliable?

Hi Joanne, thanks for being part of my tour.

Both of them seem quite arty at the moment, which makes me so happy. My eldest, Connor, is taking a film-making course at college which he loves. He’s just finishing his first year, and it’s interesting to see how dedicated he is. He writes his own scripts, but doesn’t like to share them

And Ollie, the other one, is a budding actor. Credits so far include Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking Glass, several parts in a play about World War I, and a granny in his school play.

They’ve grown up with me writing all the time and my husband, Peter, going out to gigs or popping over to Europe for short tours. They’ve also seen how we’ve needed to keep up the day jobs in order to pursue our passions. So I think they’re pretty grounded, and understand how challenging it will be to pursue their dreams. I’m definitely encouraging them as much as possible—I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was about 9, and it’s worked out for me!

This is a short video from a couple of years ago called Sore Loser

And now presenting a book you'll want to buy and read

 You. I. Us.
Publication date: June 10, 2016
Genre: Short Stories (Single Author)

In You. I. Us., Annalisa Crawford captures everyday people during  poignant defining moments in their lives: An artist puts his heart into his latest sketch, an elderly couple endures scrutiny by a fellow diner, an ex-student attempts to make amends with a girl she bullied at school, a teenager holds vigil at his friend’s hospital bedside, long distance lovers promise complete devotion, a broken-hearted widow stares into the sea from the edge of a cliff where her husband died, a grieving son contacts the only person he can rely on in a moment of crisis, a group of middle-aged friends inspire each other to live remarkable lives.

Day after day, we make the same choices. But after reading You. I. Us., you’ll ask yourself, “What if we didn’t?”

About the author
Annalisa Crawford lives in Cornwall UK, with a good supply of moorland and beaches to keep her inspired. She lives with her husband, two sons, a dog and a cat. Annalisa writes dark contemporary, character-driven stories. She has been winning competitions and publishing short stories in small press journals for many years, and is the author of Cat & The Dreamer and Our Beautiful Child.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Street Photographer - Vivian Maier

Check out the documentary Finding Vivian Maier. Then head to the Arlington Museum of Art to see fifty of Vivian Maier's excellent black and white photographs.  This woman worked as a nanny and also took photographs of ordinary people. "Her images represent an incredibly poignant glimpse into the lives of regular people going about the business of daily life."  She lived in the North Shore area of Chicago. Over 150,000 plus negatives and rolls of undeveloped film were accidentally discovered, after she died in her 80s.  This is fascinating and her perspective and eye for art was uncanny. Modest, unassuming, and immensely talented.  This is street photography at its finest.

As I always say, explore your backyard. The Arlington Museum of Art is not very big, but they pull in some nifty exhibits. It's worth an hour to step inside and enjoy some culture.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Pride Star

This Pride Star stands outside the Arlington Museum of Art in Texas. I visited there yesterday and enjoyed a unique photo exhibit. However, the star caught my eye.

Seems appropriate as we reflect on Orlando

It's sad that I've had to write this before - words fail me

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Uber Adventures

photo courtesy of Dreamstock - by Leopolo.

In case anyone is interested, I am still in my boot after toe surgery. The pin is out (whew!), but I'm still healing. After two weeks of foot elevated with ice, I graduated in May to being able to go to work but no driving. Say what?  This is Texas. I work an hour away. And no, there's no public transportation. Are you crazy?

What to do?  Hitch a ride?  Fat chance and nobody I know was headed north and west to the "country".  So I gave Uber a whirl.  Quite an adventure.

It was rather easy to get a ride in the morning. There were plenty of Uber drivers circling the Mid-Cities (between Dallas and Fort Worth).  The majority had clean cars and were very professional. Two drivers were older hippie dudes - one a retired trucker, the other just floating through life. They had good senses of humor and were enjoying being Uber drivers. I had another fellow who was a college student. Uber was flexible for his schedule.  Another young fellow surprised me - He was a big fellow. Based on his accent,  I surmised he was from an African nation, but he was listening to a pop station when I got in the car. I would have not have guessed him keeping the beat to Meagan Trainor or Justin Bieber.

Everyone was surprised at the drive and how rural it was an hour away. I hope they left bread crumbs to get back to civilization.  Indeed, it was much harder to get a ride back home in the afternoon. One of my work guys had to drive me into "town" about 15-20 minutes in to even get an Uber signal. Then it was surge pricing due to lack of supply.

All in all, I survived the two weeks of depending on strangers. I spun the roulette ride wheel and was lucky.  Now I"m back in my own glorious blue Chevy Cruz. I am allowed to drive with a sandal, and then put on the boot at work. I can play my own station and music, I can pop the sun roof.

 I feel free....

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

My Boy of Summer

glorious Sunday afternoon at the ballpark
blue skies, slight breeze
free t-shirt giveaway
does it get better?

why, yes it does
quick game under three hours
coca-colas never tasted so good
dot race on the Jumbotron

root for the home team
crack of the bat
leaps in the air
a win

(double win - it was not 100 degrees - Hoorah!)

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Movie Review Madness - Captain America: Civil War

I am late to the Marvel party, but here's a review as this movie slowly eases out of theaters             

  Captain America: Civil War finds our Avenger folks at odds.  Here’s a theater Synopsis
Political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability when the actions of the Avengers lead to collateral damage. The new status quo deeply divides members of the team. Captain America (Chris Evans) believes superheroes should remain free to defend humanity without government interference. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) sharply disagrees and supports oversight. As the debate escalates into an all-out feud, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) must pick a side.

Captain America is also loyal to his friend the Winter Soldier who’s been unthawed and released to create havoc. This movie has everybody except Thor enter the fray. The Scarlett Witch uses her powers. Vision is overseeing her. Ant Man and Spider Man provide some comic relief. The new Spider Man is a smart aleck kid with some great lines. Otherwise, the film stays dark and serious as Captain America and Iron Man pursue their goals and go toe to toe. 

The movie could use some editing. That’s my usual complaint. The performances are fine and the action battles are exciting. Good film-making and special effects. Choose your team – Captain America or Iron Man, place your bets, and root for a winner. Then again, do we win if they are all divided?

Friday, June 3, 2016

Movie Review Madness - Love and Friendship

I sat and let the glory of words wash over me. It was a refreshing time at the movies for Love and Friendship.  Based on a Jane Austen novella, this smart costume drama filled the screen with beauty and cunning (Kate Beckinsale as Lady Susan), witty dialogue, fantastic vocabulary, and a quick paced tale. It was glorious and nothing blew up. It’s eighteenth century England, and what is a woman without a man and money? Woe to the widow, Lady Susan, who’s on the move. She lands at a relative’s home and instantly charms her sister-in-law’s brother. Reginald De Courcy (Xavier Samuels) is younger, full of ideals, and enjoys talks and walks with Lady Susan. Meanwhile, other suitors circle despite her devious reputation. She’s difficult to resist.

Her daughter arrives – a pale, wisp of a girl, seemingly without a backbone. She’s been kicked out of school. Now what? Marry her off? Oh dear. In typical Jane Austen fashion, the author questions the role of women in the world, and points to strong will and character, personality and wit. It’s sad if one does not have a fortune, and ridiculous to be dependent. Some of the best dialogue occurs between Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny (the brash American married to an old fart – Stephen Fry). It’s laugh out loud humorous. Oh, there’s behind the scenes conniving, a scandal at Langford, and plenty of rousing indignation in a mere ninety minutes or so.

Great acting, great writing, and Kate Beckinsale is absolutely wonderful in this role. Love and Friendship is a gem of a little flick. If you like Jane Austen, this film is for you.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Maverick Speaker Series - Dr. Jane Goodall

UTA Maverick Speaker Series brings in a variety of interesting guests. An Evening With Dr. Jane Goodall  (back in April) was tremendous.  Her talk on “Gombe and Beyond” proved enlightening for everyone in the arena and she was treated like a rock star with two standing ovations. She’s now 82 years old and travels over 300 days a year to bring her message about nature, humanity, and hope for today’s world. She walks with purpose, speaks graciously, and evokes sincerity and wisdom.

With no notes in front of her, Dr. Goodall began with her childhood. She grew up poor in the UK –it was wartime and life was difficult. But she and her brother were well loved and supported by her parents. She said the key to her life was the support of her mother. Jane loved animals and her mother scrounged money for books for her.

In 1960 at the age of 26, Jane traveled from the UK to Tanzania to work with Dr. Louis Leakey. Her mother went with her as a support chaperone, otherwise the opportunity would have evaporated. Armed with a notebook, pen, and binoculars, Jane observed chimpanzees and slowly gained their trust. Her key breakthrough was noting the chimps problem solving abilities and their skill in fashioning tools. After receiving a doctorate at Cambridge, Dr. Goodall returned to Africa and continued her work. She founded an institute to work to protect the chimpanzees of Gombe National Park.

Her work in conservation, education (Roots & Shoots program), environmental and humanitarian issues is renowned. Her 1-1/2 hour talk was truly inspirational. Her sly humor shone through, and her love of the earth and the world was evident. Her emphasis on education and books is so important. Read…… She acknowledged social media, but emphasized knowledge from reading and research. Valuable lessons to embrace. If you ever get a chance, attend a Dr. Jane Goodall event or check out old documentaries. You will be enthralled by this warm intelligent woman.