Monday, July 31, 2017

Book Review - A Field of Darkness

I like Cornelia Read’s writing and A Field of Darkness was her first book.  I bought it at a book sale and enjoyed the cop investigation murder mystery thriller.  Madeline Dare was a debutante, now married to Dean (yes, she loves him), but feels stuck in podunk Syracuse. She hates the cold, the town, and wants to escape. Visions of being a real journalist clash with her current life at a small town paper. But, an old mystery resurfaces and it might involve her New York  city cousin, Lapthorne – possible gay bon vivant, or lecherous killer of young girls? You decide?

Old dog tags surface. There’s still someone alive from the local fall fair. Girls were killed, but the killer never found or charged.  Madeline digs deeper and  other girls are dead. Who to believe? Is there a local dirty cop? What about her journalist boss?  Lots of suspects, lots of dirt, and Madeline’s husband Dean is out of town and worried about her. Does she and her best friend Ellis get in too deep? It seems that everyone Madeline is connected with seems to die.  Not looking good for the home team.

A Field of Darkness is well written and pulls together the clues to lead you and Madeline to the killer.  Hope it’s not too late!!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Book Review - Theft By Finding by David Sedaris

Theft By Finding by David Sedaris is a treasure trove from his diaries 1977 – 2002.  This is book one.  I now eagerly await the release of 20023 to 2017.  Meanwhile I may go back and meander through this book again.  I’ve enjoyed Sedaris’s writing since The Santaland Diaries – his short story about his time as a Macy elf. It is freakin’ hysterical. The descriptions, the humor…I laughed out loud as I read that .  That was also his huge breakthrough. He read it out loud on NPR and got a huge response. Suddenly, everyone wanted his essays. He wrote about his wacky family, his upbringing in the South, his being a fish out of water, and just his droll wit on every day  occurrences is read-worthy.

Cover blurb: In his diaries, he’s recorded everything that has captured his attention – overheard comments, salacious gossip, soap opera plot twists, secret confided by strangers. These observations are source code for his finest work, and through them he has honed his cunning, surprising sentences.

p. 242  September 25, 1990  Dad doesn’t pay attention when you talk to him, so Paul’s taken to throwing the term IRS into his sentences. Then it’s suddenly, “Hold on a second, what did you say?”

p. 255  February 5, 1991  Elaine called last night with a possible job. (work for a small press as a personal assistant)  I think it involves typing, which might be a problem.  We’ll see.

He’s quirky and unique. Theft by Finding offers a glimpse into an American humor author who’s gifted with a keen eye and a sharp pen. Sedaris also goes deep in regards to the death of his dear mother (quite a character herself and a huge influence on David), and also his troubled sister Tiffany. His writing is not all laughs. He addresses his addictions and obsessions too. These are diary entries and he does not edit out the bad and just keep the good. This is a peek into a life and you see his growth as an author with each entry. Oh, David Sedaris is different and you have to “get” his humor, but it’s worth the journey and laughs.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Movie Review Madness: Spiderman - Homecoming

“Another Spiderman?”

“Wait a minute. Don’t leave this review. Stick around for awesomeness.”

Yes, I am happy to report that Spiderman: Homecoming is absolutely  joyous. It’s  a boundless energetic bundle of a web slinging kid (fresh faced wide-eyed Tom Holland as Peter Parker) battling robotic Vulture (tightly played by Michael Keaton – villain but not off the rails nuts). Parker’s mentor, Iron Man (always just snarky Robert Downey Jr) wants the kid to keep it local – save the little old ladies and earn the right to play with the big boys. But Peter is chafing at the bit to use his skills and prove his mettle. His best buddy in high school is in awe, but somehow they are still the nerds, butts of jokes.

Poor Peter, typical teen. He can’t seem to please anyone or do things quite right. He’s not there for his Academic team, he screws up homecoming, he’s lying to his Aunt May (the ever hot Marisa Tomei), and no one (i.e. Happy (Jon Favreau)  his connection to Iron Man) will hear him out  on the evil arms dealers led by the Vulture (who  is also a “nice” suburban dad). At one point, Iron Man even yanks his nifty Spiderman outfit – he’s screwed up so much.

But there’s redemption, of course. Can’t keep this Spiderman down. The effects are eye-popping, the writing is funny and exuberant, and the movie never gets bogged down in back story, moping around, or over earnest messages. Tom Holland brings this Spiderman to life in Homecoming, and he’s a welcome presence on the Marvel big screen. No need to read the instructions on this new suit, is there? Hang from the ceiling, fling yourself into  a room, and hum that Spiderman theme song.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Movie Review Madness - The Big Sick

Bad title – The Big Sick.  Awesome movie.  This is well written, well-acted, poignant, and based on a true story. It’s a rom-com with heart, just a little film that deserves a wide audience.
Kamail Nanjiiani is from Pakistan and trying to make it as a stand-up comedian (He succeeds in real life). Anyway, his mother and father are constantly setting him up with a good Pakistani girl. Problem is, Kamail has fallen for Zoe Kazan, a white girl. Yikes!  She’s energetic and wonderful, is eager to meet his folks and wants him to meet hers. She’s told her folks everything about him. We see him deflect her questions, and when he shows up for dinner with his folks he dodges their questions. Quite a quandary.

Of course, religion and family obligations cause issues and there’s a breakup. Too sad.  Fast forward and Kamail gets a call. Emily is in the hospital. Bam, she’s in a medically induced coma. Her parents show up – the firecracker –Holly Hunter (always good), and Ray Romano (low key father who feels for Kamail’s situation. Slowly they deal with each other as Emily is in a coma. Funny, sad, and so many good lines. This movie just builds and builds and touches on so many things without hitting you over the head.

So, will Emily wake up? Does Kamail escape family obligations? How does his comedy progress? Chicago to New York, perhaps?  Dating, love, connections, and the whole cultural thing. The Big Sick just runs on all cylinders. This is a smart, caring, excellent flick. I could see it again and enjoy it even more. Take a tissue or two, trust me.  You will be cured of being totally jaded after seeing this movie.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Friends From College

I had high hopes for Friends From College on Netflix,  Alas, not so much now.  I went to college. Did not gather too many friends and no one acted this way. Maybe I did not go to Harvard…. Hmm.
So, these folks with their Ivy League schooling are seriously messed up. They are still either sleeping with each other and regretting it, barely employed, employed but hating it, have children that are destined for therapy, and are just flat ass jerks.

I had high hopes for this show but eight episodes at thirty minutes each was not a huge outlay of time. Nonetheless it was sad. Four hours of whiny pathetic people who f**cked around. Very sorry for the language but that’s what they were doing. Very soulless. Very sad and pathetic.

Colbie Smulders – a normally good actress, is decent in this show but is wasted. She’s a lawyer with a sucky hedge fund – not funny.  She wants to get pregnant – rather sad considering her husband who’s cheating on her (Keegan Michael Key –normally funny dude). Beyond that, you have Fred Savage playing a gay guy who’s a book publisher dude. He’s a jerk to his boyfriend.  All in all, everyone is a bit of a jerk to their significant other. What’s the point to this show?  Maybe I’m being cranky, but none of this seemed real.  It was just annoying.

Oh well. Yes, I committed four hours of my life to save YOU from ruining four hours of yours. You are welcome!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Disaster! in Bedford

 Support your local theater. I am ashamed of myself. I go to Dallas and Fort Worth for various theater shows and musicals. But I've never been to Onstage Bedford in my own backyard. Well, Ray and I remedied this on Saturday July 8th. First dinner at La Bistro in Hurst - yummy Italian food. Then off to the show for what turned out to be quite a fun evening.

Disaster! is a musical based on every disaster film you can think of. It spoofs The Poseidon Adventure, Titanic, Towering Inferno, etc.  A variety of characters are attending a casino opening on a floating barge. Of course explosions ensue, an earthquake causes a tidal wave, there are piranha loose from the aquarium, and meanwhile the actors are singing and dancing away to an 80s soundtrack. The application of these song in times of dire disaster prove hysterical.

The actors give it there all and enthusiasm abounds. At times a teensy pitchy singing, but the end result was just an enjoyable time. The theater is quite nice -seats 100 people, so intimate. Sound, sets, and lighting, etc are all quite professional.  I will be back for more shows.

If Disaster! strikes your local theater, go check it out. You will survive!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Pool Pause

 Here's a snapshot of the past Sunday at our house.  We were celebrating summer birthdays - Ray, Bobby, Kevin, Maria, Becky, Makyla, and Hunter.  Tough times floating in the pool. That's how we roll
 It all went well until time to leave.  Then Skylar (age 2) above with her mother, had a complete I'm-so-tired-from-swimming-meltdown. Oh well. The party isn't a success until there are tears.  Too much sugar and salt water
And then someone chose to nap through the day....always a good option.  Dakota - age 2 months did not don a swimsuit

Happy mid-week everyone...........let's countdown to the weekend once again.

 Happy Birthday to all of you summer "kids"!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Book Review - Saints for All Occasions

J.Courtney Sullivan has been a reliable author in my list. She spins family sagas with heart, develops rich characters, and produces satisfying conclusions.  Saints for All Occasions, her latest, does not disappoint.  I actually heard her speak once at a book festival. She’s young and personable and I’ve been rooting for her. At this point in her career with three books (The Engagements, Maine, and Commencement) under her belt, I’d say she’s doing darn well.

The book begins in Ireland and Nora and Theresa Flynn are headed to America. Nora, the elder, is responsible at 21. Theresa is energetic and pretty at age 17. Unfortunately, she ends up pregnant and Nora has to devise a  plan to avoid family shame. However, the decisions made will forever haunt them both. Flash forward fifty years. Nora sadly must deal with the death of her oldest son, Patrick. He was the good looking black sheep – hard drinking and trouble. Now what? We learn about the siblings – John, Bridget, and Brian and their interactions with their brother and parents. And what of Theresa, now Mother Cecilia, cloistered in a convent. What happens when Nora contacts her about this death? Suddenly an aunt no one knew about appears in their lives at the funeral.

p. 234  Nora:  Now she saw that marriage was like being in a three-legged race with the same person for the rest of your life. Your hopes, your happiness, your luck, your moods, all yoked to his.

p. 320  Without warning, grief might poke you in the ribs, punch you in the gut, knock the wind out of you. But even then, you seemed just fine. The world went on and on.

Saints for All Occasions moves between the past, the present, and the family life versus the convent life. Secrets in a family can break and bind at the same time. Sullivan spins a grand tale and it keeps you interested until the end. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Movie Review - The Beguiled

The Beguiled opens in 1864 Virginia. It’s a hot steamy day as a young girl combs the woods for mushrooms. She comes across a wounded Union soldier and helps him back to the Seminary Girls home and school where a few young ladies remain. The headmistress (Nicole Kidman) helps clean his wound and sew him up. She chooses to not put out the blue scarf as a signal to the local Confederate patrols. Instead she agrees to protect him as he heals. And so the tension begins.

The soldier (played by a charming Colin Farrell) has his smooth Irish brogue working for him as he verbally seduces each female – girls from age 10 up to the older teen (a hot stifled Elle Fanning) to a yearning for a man’s touch young woman (a repressed but lovely Kirsten Dunst). And the headmistress herself is not immune to his charms. Each female in the house slowly feels she is “special” in his eyes and they vie for attention. Whether it’s dinner where they all dress up, play music, sing, and flirt. Or if they come into his room to “check on him”.

Tension mounts and this movie is a slow burn. Each moment hints at danger, and in the distance musket shots echo. Director Sofia Coppola has an eye for filming a pretty picture, each southern tableau dripping with moss and sexual heat. Jealousy builds and then erupts. Then all hell breaks loose in the house. Let’s just say this does not bode well for the one man in the pit with circling cats. I won’t say more. The Beguiled is a mood movie. It’s a slow pace build to quite a finale.  Excellent acting and storytelling. When do you wave the blue scarf?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Movie Review - Baby Driver

Ansel Elgort is Baby – an innocent young man listening to music in his car. But wait, it’s a getaway car and as 1994s “Bellbottoms” blares, Baby revs the engine and the bank robbers get away. Baby Driver is a very fun running on all cylinders heist movie with a killer soundtrack.  See, Baby has tinnitus from a long ago accident that killed his parents. He keeps the music playing as he lives life and drives for bad people. He’s been indebted to Doc (Kevin Spacey) and he’s working to pay back money. Once he’s free, he plans on escaping. He meets a waitress (the lovely Lily James) who steals his heart. But he can’t seem to escape this criminal element. Jamie Foxx is psychotic. Jon Hamm is crazy. This would be a very generic car chase/bank robber movie without the whole cast.

Director Edgar Wright’s jukebox thrill ride (Time 7/10/17) absolutely works on another level. Every chase – on foot or by car is precise. It’s seedy and slick and energetic and bold. Baby Driver is why we go to the movies  in a theater to witness a film on the BIG screen. Eat popcorn, slurp a soda, and chuckle at the humor, wince at the pain, and root for Baby. Ansel Elgort is growing up and he’s convincing as a bad good boy. We know he’ll be redeemed by love and drive into the sunset with his gal. What song will be playing? Speed to the theater and find out. Vroom, vroom. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Book Review - Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid had some buzz, so I decided to get it from the library.  It’s a very thoughtful book, not long, rather somber, and does leave an impression. Hamid’s writing is deliberate and precise with well-drawn characters.  Nadia and Saheed meet in college classes. He’s more interested than she is, but he’s shy. When he finally gets her to go out and meet several times, he’s in love. Unfortunately their country is on the brink of war and upheaval. Life changes rapidly with a key death, a move, and then a life of transition for Nadia and Saheed. They are together, united as a couple, united as refugees, and trying to figure things out.

The book is set in the future and yet so much seems very current (a real shame). Doors open and close. Food is not available. People aren’t welcome. Sound familiar? Exit West isn’t about war per se.  It’s a strong backdrop, and that affects Nadia and Saheed. The book is more about their relationship and how a couple reacts in crisis and whether they grow together or apart. I can’t say this book is for everyone, but I found it interesting and thought provoking.

p.138  …and when the tension receded there was calm, the calm that is called the calm before the storm, but is in reality the foundation of a human life, waiting there for us between the steps of our march to our mortality, when we are compelled to pause and not act but be.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Book Review - Eligible

Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Prep (a darn good book) is out with Eligible – a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice.  From the cover blurb – equal parts homage to Jane Austen and bold literary experiment, Eligible is a brilliant, playful, and delicious saga for the twenty-first century.

I hear screams from Jane Austen fans, and I understand. Pride and Prejudice is a treasure. It’s the one. It can’t be duplicated.  I agree.

However, this is a clever interpretation with lively characters running amok in the twenty first century. Cell phone etiquette and first impressions, dating, and marriage, health and wealth. A lot of life doesn’t really change nor do goals of Mrs. Bennet. Unfortunately she can’t always get her daughters to do what she wants- i.e. get married.   And Chip Bingley is shallow. Fitzwilliam Darcy does not give a good first impression. And Liz Bennet is independent and shows pluck.

Eligible is a breezy read. It’s funny and tackles gender, class, courtship, and family issues.  I enjoyed the book, and it made me want to re-read Pride and Prejudice. Nothing wrong with that.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Wordless Wednesday


summer.  This is at my friend's pool.  I plan to order my own flamingo float as soon as I get home

Wednesday means countdown to the weekend

good luck with the rest of the week everybody!