Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Light ' Em Up

 My Christmas elf (Ray) was a busy boy on Monday. He took off a bonus day and scurried about with a vision of LED lights.
 My pictures don't do it justice
 We have the spirit in the front and back
I love when it reflects off the pool at night

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  Thanks Ray!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Cyber NaNo

I did not participate in National Novel Writing Month this year. However, for those who did it's crunch time. Either you are sitting back, smug, eating Christmas cookies, or you are panic writing nonsense. Or you have given up and shall do all of your shopping this Cyber Monday.

Either way, have a great day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

From our house to yours - Happy Thanksgiving weekend

Health and happiness.  Family joy and laughs
Sunshine, blue skies, and some leaves to rake (if I was in PA)
Cowboy football for Ray

I dedicate a turkey sandwich to my mother - she loved leftovers

I thank my sister - she's picking up my Dad, taking him to DE for her thanksgiving meal, and then driving him back. She'll stay overnight and Friday's her birthday - Happy Birthday, Lori - the "baby" of the family.

No need to comment on this post. I just hope everyone steps away from the computer, puts down the phone, and just hangs out.

I'll be back to regularly scheduled reviews, etc. next week.
Take care and be kind.

Monday, November 21, 2016


"When we stop and rest properly, we're not paying a tax on creativity. We're investing in it."


As we begin a Monday slog, let's contemplate a new book by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang - "Why You Get More Done When You Work Less".  This is from a book review in the latest Time magazine.  The theory is that maximum productivity requires four hours  a day of focused work. To get the most out of the rest of the day one should walk, nap, read, and contemplate life.

Sounds good to me.  When I really think about my work day - indeed, the quality of my work is best in the morning from eight to noon.  After lunch - nah, I'm watching the clock and hammering through tasks. I'm working for the pay check - this is not enrichment. 

What about you? 

At least this is a short week - countdown to Thanksgiving, for which I am grateful!!!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Pre-Thanksgiving Tablescape

Filler post. I have some reviews to write, but I get home from work and do NOT want to think

Forgive me.  As soon as Halloween was over, I cleared the dining table for the big 80 birthday.
Then last Sunday, I cleared the table for my Thanksgiving 2016 tablescape........

Oh yeah - we have the spirit, how about you?

We are not hosting Thanksgiving (Praise the Lord).  We are in line to bring fruit salad to Ray's sister's place.  They are expecting up to 25 people.  Holy turkey.......that's a lot of folks.  

Story to be continued in one week.   We just don't want the Cowboys to be turkeys - dang, they are on a roll.........

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Wednesday Reflection on 80

 The cake came out great from Wal-Mart.  The scanned icing photos made it a hit.  Chocolate goodness
 I have to brag that renting tables and chairs was brilliant  - we could fit 21 adults easily into the room. It was nice having everyone together to participate.  Kids were tucked into the kitchen
I don't have a picture of the tasty Tex-Mex from Miguelitos - it's all gone!!!
 Fun banner to greet the birthday boy
Saturday November 12th was a success as it heralded in Ray's Dad's birthday. Here are his mom, niece, and father.  He's still  recovering from some surgery that slowed him down a bit. But he's on the mend and hopefully his health improves for many birthdays to come.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Movie Review Madness - The Girl on the Train

I loved the book The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, and to me, the movie does an excellent job of bringing the book to life.  Emily Blunt is superb as Rachel, a boozy unreliable  narrator. She rides the train every day but is she really going to work. She can see out over her ex-house that her ex-husband (a creepy Justin Theroux) has with his new wife (Rebecca Ferguson – always good) and baby girl. Then there are the neighbors – the perfect couple that Rachel fantasize about.  Meagan (new hot It Girl Haley Bennett) ends up dead.  Say what?  How, why, and did Rachel see something?

It’s a convoluted puzzle with Allyson Janney as the detective who questions Rachel’s integrity, report, and reliability.  Throw in a therapist for Meagan – was she having an affair with him?  Cheating, hot babysitter, and so much more.  The book was intense and gave an added layer to the story. It could convey the confusion. The film does a very good job of giving us a back and forth thread – it bounces between characters and Rachel’s drunken interpretation of events.

All in all, Emily Blunt is the key to The Girl on the Train. She’s a fine actress who truly embodied the character and keeps us both hating and rooting for her. She adds a vulnerability to the written character.  I don’t think the switch from London to New York was necessary, but it worked okay. I liked this film and I do recommend reading the book too. Cover all bases

Friday, November 11, 2016

Movie Review Madness - Inferno

Tom Hanks is back as Robert Langdon in Inferno.  Tom is good, Inferno is so-so, but I’ll still give it a C  rating due to the running around Italy part.  Such an awesome backdrop.  I can forgive huge plot holes, the Dan Brown book, and even more plot holes.  Italy and Florence in particular are just freaking awesome.  I paid $5 for this movie, so you I can  forgive me.  You, my readers, can wait for streaming. You don’t have to fork out money. But this movie is harmless and entertaining in a ‘I’m sorta half asleep kinda way”.  Nothing wrong with that. No need to think folks – the art, symbolism mumbo jumbo is just that – all crazy talk.

I go to the movies to be entertained and this sufficed for the afternoon I wanted to enjoy. I like Tom Hanks and he was fine enough – he’s sincere and can project concern over a virus that could kill the world. Only he must solve the crazy puzzle to save us all. What better hands to be in than Tom Hanks? Seriously.   I’m not going to discuss the plot or the reason to run around Italy. Just go with it.

Felicity Jones is pretty, a good actress, and had me convinced until a plot twist. Apparently, the box office disagrees.  Where the Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown’s first big book to movie succeeded, Inferno has totally tanked.  Hey, life moves on. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Nothing Really Changes

I chose some misty Alaska glacier pics to represent our future.  I write this on Election Day 2016. I have no clue as to the finish, no projections yet, no winner.  Will there be a winner?  Are we winning or losing?   Ah, that's beyond me

I do know that on Wednesday, I shall get up, eat breakfast, and still drive my hour to work - as will most of America.  Then we watch the clock for lunchtime. Then we count down to going home. In the middle - paper is shuffled.

There has to be a future because Ray and I are hosting a party for his father on Saturday 11/12. The man shall be turning 80 and deserves a bit of a to-do.  I've got Tex-Mex ordered along with a chocolate cake. We expect 20 people plus kids.

So, post election day, the American flag shall still wave. Folks work, eat, and muddle along.  Has anything changed?

The key to me is family, love, respect, work, and life...........truly the Nike slogan "Just Do It" applies.

What say you?  I have blog friends from all  states and a variety of countries. Can we all agree - life goes on and we do our best?

 Is that good enough?

Monday, November 7, 2016

Movie Review Madness - Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange, the latest Marvel product, is a head trip. Fun, trippy special effects and a crazy plot about time and mind over matter makes this rather cerebral.  Brains over brawn. As Entertainment Weekly points out “it wouldn’t work as well as it does without Benedict Cumberbatch and Tilda Swinton – two actors who in addition to being intelligent, top-shelf stars both project a slightly alien, otherworldly air.”  So true.  They are clever and seductive, giving their characters a lot of depth.

Cumberbatch, as Dr. Stephen Strange is an ego surgeon who’s a charming jerk. Rachel McAdams has the thankless job of fellow doctor/former love interest.  After a horrible car accident, his hands are ruined so he looks for a cure in Nepal. Word has it that there is An Ancient One who can teach one mind control and more. Let the brain do the healing. Swinton is perfect as the mystic. Her right hand man, Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is the day to day trainer. Soon Strange is moving beyond logic – dimensional portals, teleportation, and more, plus weird facial hair. Meanwhile the dark forces of Kaecilius seeks to destroy the Ancient One, but Doctor Strange, now in his levitation cloak seems to have the upper hand.

Doctor Strange is just bizarre fun – high IQ wit and just wicked special effects raise the bar.  Again as, EW says, “it’s eye candy and brain candy.” Perfect afternoon at the theater.

and P.S. stay for the final, final, final credits and see that Marvel tidbit more

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Waxahachie Wonder

Blue skies and high 80s last Saturday at the Texas Country Reporter Festival in Waxahachie, Texas.
Only an hour drive to a bustling town. The center of it all is the Ellis County Courthouse (pictured above) - a fine example of gingerbread architecture. The whole town square is well maintained with plenty of cutesy shops and good restaurants. We ate lunch at the Dove's Nest - a tea room in an antique store.

It was an easy fun jaunt, a chance to stretch the legs, and mix and mingle among arts and crafts (and a fine selection of homemade jams and jellies)

Venture out into your neck of the woods - you might be surprised at what you find.

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Book Review - A Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston

Bryan Cranston A Life in Parts is not a celebrity biography. Yes, he hit it “big” with  Breaking Bad, but the man paid his dues, worked hard, and has a life to discuss in his memoir.  He’s a fine thoughtful writer and this book is excellent. This is a man you’d like to meet and have dinner with knowing there would be engaging conversation and a real person give and take. He acted at age seven in a United Way commercial with his father and had the bug. His dad was an actor, but the man disappeared and Bryan had to figure out life as a man on his own. He shared a lot with his older brother and younger sister, and dealt with a mother who became an alcoholic.

But no excuses. Cranston shares his “zigzag journey as an abandoned son to beloved star by recalling the many odd parts he played in his real life – paperboy, farmhand, security guard, dating consultant, murder suspect, dock loader, lover, husband, father.” (cover blurb). He does not shy away from any aspect of his life that led him to where he is today. As an observer of life, he honed his craft with hard work and truly studied and worked at the idea of “craft”.

After years in the business, he created the bumbling dad character of Malcolm in the Middle. Cherished years and a lot of improv joy on set.  Then because of a brief role on the X-Files and his time with Vince Gaffigan, he managed to become Walter White on Breaking Bad. Extensive chapters are spent on this special alchemy. It’s quite interesting and you’ll be an even bigger fan when you read his thoughts on the part.

Finally, he’s never finished growing and exploring. He conquers the stage with a Tony award winning performance in All the Way as LBJ – a larger than life figure.  Bryan Cranston continues to grow as a person. When I finished his book, I was ready to read more – to see where his life takes him and I look forward to more deep characters and great acting to come.  A Life in Parts – oh, so many more parts to choose from and enjoy.  Just a darn cool man. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Movie Review Madness - What Now?

Kevin Hart, the hardest working comedian on the planet, has a concert film out in theaters.  What Now? Is an enjoyable frenetic experience.  Basically Kevin asks “What Now?” because as he conquers arenas, stages, movies, and more, people are asking for more and he asks himself for more. The man never quits. This film covers his record breaking sold out show at Lincoln Financial Field in his home town of Philadelphia. This is a football stadium filled to the brim with adoring fans screaming for more.

Kevin knows what his audience wants and he gives it to them. He’s a bundle of energy ready to talk about his height challenge, his kids, his upcoming marriage, and the general craziness of the world. He is not political, not topical. He leans toward more general observations of life type of humor and the crowd eggs him on. He does capture the slice of life in a manic way. He’s not as observational as Jerry Seinfeld, but he does niggle on the minutiae of life, and he’s funny.

Oh, the language can be a tad rough – not appropriate for kids – this is R.  And the ninety minute film was plenty long enough. I was amused and then done. But I will concede that the man works hard and truly gives it his all. He’s not coasting. He wants to be mega-successful and he is accomplishing this.  He sets a very good example in this regard – there are no excuses in this world. Get out there and strive for the best you can be. And then ask What Now??