Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Book Review - A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman

A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman is a great read. Ove is a hoot, a very original character, and each chapter just builds until you realize this old coot is quite lovable.  By the end, the book is quite poignant and you will shed a tear at the finale. And that’s what makes an awesome read.  The author captures a man’s life, feelings, and shows how humans touch each other.

From the back blurb – At first sight, Ove is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet, a curmudgeon with staunch principles, strict routine, and a short fuse. People think him bitter, and he thinks himself surrounded by idiots.

But as he keeps trying to commit suicide (trust me, this plot works. You learn his reason, his attempts, and his failures (fortunately) ). New neighbors prove to be lifesavers and aggravating.

He drives a Saab, keeps his tools organized, shovels the walks in his neighborhood, and desperately feels the loss of his wife. She was obviously a saint.  You’ll learn his backstory and that explains a lot. Each chapter title is funny and Backman’s humor will keep you turning pages.

p. 336 – At the bottom of the sheet he’s written in capital letters “YOU ARE NOT A COMPLETE IDIOT”. And after that, a smiley, as Nasanin has taught him.

Trust me, this is high praise.  Read the book to get to this page and smile through tears.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day

 The patriot's blood is the seed of Freedom's tree -  Thomas Campbell
All we have of freedom, all we use or know, this our fathers bought for us long and long ago - Rudyard Kipling

Happy Memorial Day.  As we celebrate and grill, swim, and hang out - let's remember........

Friday, May 26, 2017

Book Review - Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson weaves various mysteries together with connected characters and family drama.  After her big breakout Life After Life, I am a huge fan. This book came before it and shows her masterful command of the English language.

I shall give you her opening paragraph and then leave you to find her book in the library or buy it and go from there. Trust me. By the end, you will be enthralled.

How lucky were they? A heat wave in the middle of the school holidays, exactly where it belonged. Every morning the sun was up long before they were, making a mockery of the flimsy curtains that hung limply at their bedroom windows, a sun already hot and sticky with promise before Olivia even opened her eyes. Olivia, as reliable as a rooster, always the first to wake, so that no one in the house had bothered with an alarm clock since she was born three years ago.

Okay – super teaser.  The sisters camp out. The oldest two awaken to find Olivia gone………..and that’s just one of the mysteries.  Fifty years later, the sisters still seek Olivia.

What tragedy occurred?  What made them keep seeking her? 

Sad, surprising, and so many connected tales.

Awesome read

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Movie Review Madness - Fate of the Furious

Fate of the Furious is the eight installment of the Fate car chase franchise. What the heck – we know what we are going to get. And we love it.  This movie is still in theaters (yes, this review is a tad late), but it’s fun to see on the big screen. I am a huge Vin Diesel fan and he does not disappoint. With a voice that sounds like a motor growling, he’s a surprise. Did Vin turn on the family group and join Charlize Theron (a sultry smart villain) in her plot to take over the world?  Say it ain’t so.

I won’t give it away.  But the gang works hard to figure out what the heck is going on, as a nuclear sub could be captured and used for evil.  Fast cars, fast computer connections, and a lot about family. That’s the key to the Fate story line. Oh yes – we have Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson using his Mojo to thwart evil. Kurt Russell, Tyrese, Ludacris, Michelle Rodriguez, and more. The gang is gathered and ready to drive

This is just fun over the top crazy and worth seeing on the big screen  Spring for the big tub of popcorn and zoom along for the stunts, the quips, and of course – the cars.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Monday Moment - Art from the Phillips Collection

 How about a Degas?

 Throw in a Cezanne?
So many awesome paintings in the Phillips Collection that is being shown at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth TX  ( )

Duncan Phillips had a vision and the money to amass an amazing amount of art. I enjoyed reading all of the blurbs about what he chose and why?  At some point he wanted a Van Gogh and basically put the word out.  Oh, if you have money, you can get what you want.

Lovely exhibit and I am very grateful to be able to zoom to Fort Worth on a Sunday and peruse such beauty.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Art Adventure - Architecture with Louis Kahn at the Kimbell

 Spent last Saturday in Fort Worth at one of my favorite art museums - the Kimbell.  And it was designed by architect Louis Kahn (1901- 1974).  This exhibit was quite fascinating.

 Born in Russia, his family moved to Philadelphia. He earned great renown in his city planning efforts. His library at Phillips Exeter Academy is famous, as well as the Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA.  And the Kimbell itself is considered one of the premier art museums designed in the world.

Drawings, films, plans, and building models all gave us a view of a man forever ahead of his time. His use of space, light, and natural materials gave a modern flare to the world around us.  I enjoyed this exploration of a craftsman.  Here are some quotes by Louis Kahn:

A plan of a city is like the plan of a home - streets, corridors, quiet areas, culture areas, get togetherness, and a workshop.

The sun never knew how great it was until it struck the side of a building.

In regards to the Fort Wayne, IN Performing Arts Theater - the concrete concert hall is protected from the nearby railroad by a brick envelope. It's like a violin case - it's a musical instrument containing people. 

Support your local museums and check out any exhibit. You'll come away with a greater appreciation of the arts.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Monday, May 15, 2017

Movie Review Madness - Guardians of the Galaxy 2

Guardians of the Galaxy 1 was so refreshing and fun.  It’s tough to beat. Thus Guardians 2 is a bit much – plenty of excess, but still extra good hilarity and worth seeing in the theater. I am Groot, now with baby Groot (voice by Vin Diesel) is still an awesome tag line, no matter the dialogue.  Lots of plots, tons of action, and of course, the Star Lord (Peter Quill) himself, Chris Pratt, is ever more confident and handsome and cool as our leading man.  Zoe Zaldana’s Gamora returns as well as Rocket the raccoon (Bradley Cooper). She provides the hot, smart, and sexy. He’s our master of quips and irreverence.

Kurt Russell appears as Ego, Quill’s father. He’s a hoot – self-absorbed villain with a grand scheme to take over the world with his DNA. His wild planet is a feast for the eyes. There are plenty more plot lines and then teasers as the Guardians will fit into future Avenger story lines. Sly Stallone appears as a space thief. There’s a woman in gold who’s out to take over the world but is foiled by the Guardians for now. Teaser after teaser appears and it’s hard to keep track (I thought) of who is who.  But it’s still a bit tongue in cheek and raucous.  You won’t be bored or check your watch.

Big thumbs up. Pay for the big screen experience. Treat yourself to some popcorn and stay and stay and stay until the lights come up.  Groot as a teenager is a plus moment at the end.  Guardians of the Galaxy Part 2 has a great soundtrack and kicks off our summer cinema season.  Just have a blast.  We are all Groot. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Mother's Day Weekend

 My mother as a young girl - a somber lass who loved to read
 Her modest birthplace in Indiana
Mom and Dad's wedding day - June 11, 1954

Happy Mother's Day Weekend.  I salute my mother. She's been gone since 1992 - alas - stomach cancer.  She was super healthy, teeny tiny, never drank, never smoked, and yet............dang........
what can you do?

She's still a force in my brain.  Oh she could move fast.  Somehow I always think of her hanging up laundry in our backyard.  Those trees are gone, but the clothes line hung just so, and the sheets wafted in the wind.

She loved breakfast...but late. Never a true morning person.  She drank tea, not coffee, and ate Tasty-kakes - the chocolate ones.  (A Philly product, also - Pudge's cheesesteak sandwiches - yum)

She loved Christmas, stuffed animals, and always made our birthdays special.

She would have gotten a huge kick out of her grandkids (Lisa and Jeff), and Ray's boys - Chris and Kevin and their kids - Abby, Makyla, Skylar, and one on the way - Dakota.  Treats for all

Happy Mother's Day Weekend everyone.  I hope you are celebrated and remember your mothers and your grandmothers.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Wordless Wednesday

Downtown Fort Worth in Sundance Square.  Love the smiley face clock.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Monday Moment - Unicorn

A unicorn pinata fell victim at a party for a two year old. Only the head swings free. The body thumped to the ground, candy guts flying everywhere much to the glee and giggles of little girls.

Keep  your head on straight this week (and giggle).

Friday, May 5, 2017

Book Review - I've Got Sand in All the Wrong Places

I’ve Got Sand in All the Wrong Places by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella is a hoot.  Lisa is known for her lawyer/crime thriller books, but with her daughter she’s carved a niche of humorous essays. The two yin and yang on various subjects.  Cover blurb – it’s a multigenerational take on a variety of topics, from on line dating to fleece as formal wear, sounding like two girlfriends you’ve known your whole life. Lisa is based in Philly, Francesca in New York. They joke, they fight, but always love their way through life’s best and worst moments.

Join Lisa and Francesca as they travel from the beach to the city to the suburbs and all the places in between, exasperating, supporting, and enjoying each other along the way.

p. 4 Lisa on the Jersey Shore. You’ll get sand in your sneakers. You’ll get sand stuck in the elastic in your bathing suit. The sand will come back to the rental house with you, where it will fall on the floor, and when you drive home, it will be in the well underneath the gas pedal. You will track it inside your own house, and you will feel a grittiness under your toes in your very own bedroom, maybe even your sheets.  Don’t let the sand bother you. Think of the sand as fairy dust. Because it is. It’s a magical sprinkling of a summertime mood.

I love that idea!  And I chuckled my way through this library book. Check it out if you need a pick-me-up kind of read. Short little chapters that are big on laughs and observations we’ve all had.

I’ve Got Sand in All the Wrong Places is just plain funny. Enjoy

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Book Review - Carve the Mark - by Veronica Roth

From the author of the Divergent Series, Veronica Roth, we have a new YA trilogy to explore. Carve the Mark introduces us to a galaxy powered by the current, and everyone has  a gift.  Cyra is the sister of the brutal Shotet ruler. Cyra’s gift gives her pain and power – she is used by her brother to inflict torture, but she can also absorb others pain and that proves useful. She’s smart, resilient, and eager to destroy her brother.

Akos is from frozen Thuvhe. He’s generous and a fighter who’s captured by Shotet soldiers. He will do anything to get his brother out alive. In meeting Cyra, he learns about her world. Cover blurb – Will they help each other to survive, or will they destroy one another? Carve the Mark is Veronica Roth’s stunning portrayal of the power of friendship – and love – in a galaxy filled with unexpected gifts.

I was a tad stunned as I navigated this book. I had trouble keeping track of all the weird names, gifts, and trying to figure out who hated whom and why. Maybe someone was dead based on history, but then they’d pop up on another planet. There were good moments in this book, but I found it rather confusing and a bit repetitive. They’d fly here and fight. Then fly here and fight. And then we’d talk about what we want to do, and scurry around a ship to evade, then invade, and then….WTF.  I’d be interested to know if anyone who likes future/fantasy world stuff enjoyed this book. Am I missing something? I liked Divergent a lot and read the series quickly.

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth did not make its mark on me. I doubt I’m up for two more…

Sign me – tortured

Monday, May 1, 2017

Monday Moment - almost two

I was in PA over Easter and Ray sent me this picture from TX of the wee one, Skylar, in her Easter finery.
How cute is this?

She'll be two this week.

And the shock is coming.......she's used to being the baby star. But uh-oh a new baby sister is due in June. Someone's world shall be rocked to the core.

Oldest sister is eight.  Skylar at two.  And new baby girl (Dakota) will be fresh cuteness........

This shall be fun to watch and experience.