Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Book Review - House of Spies by Daniel Silva

Count on Daniel Silva to raise the summer alert to must read suspense thriller. House of Spies is his latest with our favorite reluctant hero, Gabriel Allon.  From the cover blurb – Allon is back and out for revenge, determined to hunt down the world’s most dangerous terrorist, a shadowy ISIS mastermind known only as Saladin.  There’s a trail of carnage in London’s West End. The attack is brilliant except for one loose thread: the French-Moroccan street criminal and ISIS operative who supplied the combat assault rifles.

Threads lead Allon and his team to Jean Luc Martel. From Saint-Tropez to Casablanca, a trail of money and connections are pieced together. Roles are played. British, American, and Israeli forces work together to fight the global war on terror. Our favorite heroine from the previous book, The Black Widow, is back. Altogether, Gabriel is the skilled hand with the vision to take the time to do it right.

From the cover blurb: House of Spies is more than just riveting entertainment: it is a dazzling tale of avarice and redemption, set against the backdrop of our times.

Daniel Silva obviously does his research. He has an awesome character with Allon and I enjoy our battle tested Israeli leader, art restorer, calm influence, and concerned world citizen. Good writing, interesting world settings, and well-paced tension will keep you turning pages. Silva has another winner.

Monday, August 28, 2017


I never watched wrestling.  I had no interest. However , the buzz on GLOW on Netflix captured my attention and I gave it a whirl. Well, hello……..I am hooked.

GLOW. What a great series, and the wrestling is the least of it.  First there’s Ruth (Alison Brie). She’s a very intense young actress, eager to make it. Otherwise she has to keep calling her folks for some money. How embarrassing.  She auditions and makes the rounds for this new series on television. She’s a “professional” and needs information – what’s her character and motivation? She drives the director (played perfectly by the jaded Marc Maron) crazy with her questions. “Hey Strindberg”, he calls her, but she grows on him. He knows how much she cares. Meanwhile, Debbie (Betty Gilpin) is the gorgeous former soap opera star who just had a kid and is feeling fat and unattractive. Plus, complication – Ruth, her best friend, had an affair with her husband.  Awkward!!!

Now, that’s cause for the perfect wrestling match.  Anyway, the show strings together an oddball assortment of women to aim for a Saturday morning slot on very cheap cable TV. We are talking very old school TV here. The key to the show is the variety of women, the characters themselves, and the depth of their stories. It’s awesome.  You really come to care for how they interact and what’s going to happen. They slowly learn how to wrestle, and they care.  And YOU care. Plus Marc Maron’s Sam is so pathetic, you actually care about how shallow he is, but how much he actually cares about these ladies and their potential story lines.

GLOW on Netflix is a little gem and worthy of your attention.  The key is the word CARE and you will. Let’s keep this series going. I am hooked.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Friday - Who Knew?

 Friday filler.  I've been up to PA and no doubt have gathered some new senior tales...time with my father is always a treasure.  Meanwhile, here's some finally gems from our weekend in Oklahoma City. Fun times....action figure museum joy.
 Cool statue on a corner
 Ray in his
Great seats on the first base line

Have a super weekend everybody!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

OKC Adventures - River Sport

Sunday – head to the river and visit the new water entertainment park.    Wow. Now this is a day of awesome.  White water rafting – it’s a man-made course where our Olympic kayak team trains. You can kayak or join a white water raft expedition. Whew – paddling that hard is tiring. I had no idea what to expect, but it was scary and exhilarating. That water is churning.  We were on the course for about an hour with three runs through the shoots. That was plenty. I felt like a drowned rat, but I lived to tell the tale. I would consider doing it again but not sitting in the front of the boat. (Of course, that is what Ray chose!!!)

Afterward, there’s a very tall water slide, there’s a zip line across the river and back – it’s pretty fast and far and quite a ride. There’s also an action trail you can attempt. You are clipped into the very tall metal mountain – cross rope lines, and hike swinging bridges.  There are plenty of water attractions for kids, plus paddle board, kayaks, and fun.  There’s something for the whole family and the pricing is typical for a water park day. The staff is helpful and safety is a plus.

So, who knew?  Now I know and you know that Oklahoma City offers a fairly close destination weekend of adventure and learning. And yes, you still have to sing “Oklahoma, where the wind comes whistling down the plain….”

Monday, August 21, 2017

OKC Adventures - Water Taxi

 So, based on time we did not see the OKC Museum of Art, the Myriad Botanical Gardens, or the American Banjo Museum.  Those will have to be for another trip. Instead we headed back to Bricktown and caught a water taxi.  The mile long ride is fun and relaxing. Enjoy the murals on the walls, cruise under bridges, and start thinking about where you want to dine. Restaurants and bars line the area. Folks sit outdoors eating and laughing. The area is festive and you are ready to join the party. The taxi continues to cruise to Lower Bricktown and a park where you can see the Oklahoma Land Run Monument. There’s a lot of bronze – it’s impressive. It’s still a work in progress with a final count of forty five figures expected. The horses, cattle, and wagons that are there now are nifty.

Dinner – we ate at a Mardi Gras, New Orleans style restaurant. Very tasty fish tacos, mardi gras nachos, and Cajun fettucine. We rolled out of there.

Onward to baseball – the AAA Oklahoma Dodgers play at a very pleasant ballpark right in the heart of Bricktown. Family friendly and the right price – reasonable. Alas, the Dodgers did not win for us, but we enjoyed a good time. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

OKC Adventures - Memorial Museum

Part of our OKC adventures after the Action Figure Museum. What could top that? Oh there's more, so much more. 

Onward to Oklahoma City. I recommend staying at the Holiday Inn Express in Bricktown. Very new, modern, and in the perfect location. Park the car and start walking.

We walked to the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum.  The theme is Come to Remember. Leave With Resolve.  This museum is outstanding – powerful and well done. 168 people died in 1995 when the OKC Federal Building was bombed by home grown terrorists.  The Memorial is a place of quiet reflection – a large marble gateway says 9:01 (the before time when a regular day was beginning). Another gateway says 9:03 (it represents the time to begin healing).  168 chairs glint in the sun out on the grass. The tiny chairs for the children in the daycare who died are heartbreaking.  Walk the grounds and ponder.

Inside, the museum, through touchscreens, galleries, and theaters, a powerful story unfolds.  “The goal is to meet violence with vigilance.”  This tragedy united a city, the nation, and impacted the world.  It is touching and somber, but so many stories in this are about the folks who did live, the first responders, and a whole community.  I highly recommend you come to learn and reflect.

Here’s the list of museum sections:
A Day Like Any Other, History of the Site, A Meeting recorded, Confusion & Chaos, World Reaction – Rescue and Recovery, Watching  & Waiting, Gallery of Honor, Impact & Healing, Investigation-Evidence- and Justice, Responsibility and Hope.

We left there quiet and a tad sad.  And that’s okay. This museum strikes a nerve and will stick with you.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Movie Review Madness - The Glass Castle

Jeannette Walls wrote The Glass Castle – excellent memoir about her unique childhood with two off the grid parents-artsy and smart, offering a different perspective of “living” to their kids. However, the kids just wanted to eat and were tired of always moving. And yet, despite everything, those were her parents and she did love them.  Now the movie brings her story to the big screen. The book was better. I think the author’s words just strike a deeper chord. But, the movie is well acted and does a decent job of portraying the contrasts in the Walls’ lives.

Brie Larson is the grown-up Jeannette, now a writer in New York, engaged to a financial fellow, living the dream. One day on a taxi ride home from a fancy dinner, she sees her parents poking through trash, and she chooses to ignore them. In flashbacks, we see Jeannette’s life as a girl with her siblings. Often hungry, not attending school, always rushing to pack up meager possessions to move on to another squatter home. Woody Harrelson is Rex Walls – a free thinker, always dreaming, always scribbling in a notebook, “designing” the dream home – a glass castle that’s energy efficient. We also see him drink away what little money the family has, while his kids eat butter mixed with sugar as desperation. He’s bigger than life, and yet harbors a darkness.  Naomi Watts plays  Rose Mary, the artistic mother who’s along for the ride. She encourages reading and arts. Jeannette soon realizes she has to look out for her siblings and that their goal is to help each other move on.

Present day Jeannette is conflicted and gets tired of her own lies about her parents. The awkward scenes that bring together her fiance’s family with her own are heartbreaking. So much comes to a head – the hurt, the resentment, the love. How she lived made her who she is – that’s the key to the story. The youngsters who play the kids are superb. You root for them, and it’s rather amazing that they did turn out okay. They stuck with each other – sibling power is strong. Brie, Woody, and Naomi are also vibrant on the screen. The Glass Castle is quite a story – and it’s real. That’s the flabbergasting part. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Monday Moment - Action!

 Who knew?
There's a Toy and Action Figure Museum in Paul's Valley Oklahoma.  This is right off I35 on the way to Oklahoma City. On a lark, we stopped. Wow - We're glad we did

 This is just one wall of the Bat Cave.   Crazy!
 Heck yeah, there's Spider Man.
This is just one wall that features a myriad of figures. The museum has over 13,000 pieces in this collection.  We hung out for about 45 minutes. Batman, Spiderman, Wonder Woman, GI Joe - in the Pacific and European battlefields. Barbies, and more. Oh so much more.

Explore America. Get off that freeway and visit a small town.  The Shed Restaurant was worth a stop too - chickenfried steak and also chicken tenders and gravy to die for.

Monday Moment Action!!!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Beehive - The 60s Musical

Beehive - The 60s Musical.  If you live anywhere close to Fort Worth, TX book your tickets now. This show is a must see. I've talked about the Jubilee Theater in downtown Fort Worth before. It's the little theater with big voices. I've never seen a bad show, and Beehive proved to be a blast.

It's a trippy look at all the great women who made 60s music so fun, energetic, thoughtful, and enjoyable. Your toes will tap, your hands will clap. From the Chiffons to the Shirelles, to Supremes, from Aretha to Cher to Tina. Petula Clark, Dusty Springfield, and Lulu. And a final Janis Joplin song.  The young ladies in the show pulled out all the stops in vocals, choreography, humor, and grace.

Kyndal, Jenna, Ayanna, Devin, Nikka, and Mattie - they sang their hearts out.
A very special shout out to Kyndal Robertson for channeling her Tina Turner - that number was lights out fantastic.

Tease that hair, go back in your time machine, sit back, and enjoy Beehive - The 60s Musical.
The Jubilee pulls off another awesome live show.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Wordless Wednesday

Fun stuff that caught my eye in the Bricktown area of Oklahoma City - a happening place!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Movie Review Madness - Dunkirk

Dunkirk is harrowing and memorable. Look for it on Oscar night. Director Christopher Nolan, after thorough research and a serious plan, took three approaches – Land, Sea, and Air. The film moves fluidly between these perspectives and you feel immersed in the war. There is minimal dialogue and no character backstory or superfluous nonsense. Instead we follow the main lad  (Fionn Whitehead) as he navigates Dunkirk, eager to survive. His shell-shocked look as he wanders the beach, ducking from air strikes, trying to get on an escape boat starts to bring on your anxiety.  The sheer numbers of British and French soldiers stuck on the beach was staggering. How were they going to evacuate? That’s the land issue.

On the sea, we follow Mark Rylance and his boys as they sail their private boat to Dunkirk to help. There was an armada of private ships and boats who crossed the choppy channel to come to the soldiers aid. Plenty of drama at sea. Rylance projects a quiet nobility and his sense of duty is reassuring and brave.

By air, we see Tom Hardy and another fellow in their Spitfires as they dodge the German air assault, circle, weave, and shoot. Plenty of scary moments in the air.

Back on land, a group of guys commandeer a ship that’s grounded on the beach but the tide’s coming in. Once afloat, they are feeling safer until shots ring out, they start taking on water, and the fear and scrambling will have you gasping for breath yourself. Harry Styles ( One Direction singer) shows his acting chops in this film and does a fine job. Kenneth Branaugh is the Navy commander trying to coordinate boats and ships. He projects the weary responsibility of some who’s in charge, but concerned that Dunkirk is out of control.

Nolan keeps Dunkirk tight and tidies up the story line into a taut mesmerizing film. This was quite a turn in the war for the Allies. Excellent film, tough film, and not for the faint of heart. War is hell, and I’m sure movie hell depiction is only half of it. Salute those who served – innocent young lads fighting for their country and to survive.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Take Wing

Who Knew ?

Something new for my friend Trish and me - live women's basketball.  Yes, the WNBA has a local team - the Dallas Wings - and they play at the UTA College Park Center. What fun!

Music pounded. The crowd cheered. And the energy level was fantastic. Time flew by as these ladies ran up and down the court. They had a record night of sixteen 3-point conversions. Very impressive.
I'm not usually out on a Friday night. The game started at 7 and I was home by 10 pm. Works for me.

Lots of moms there with daughters. The mascot was fun - she danced all over the place.

Wings won and two players stood out - Skylar Diggins-Smith and Glory Johnson.  Nice work ladies.

Go Wings!!!  

Friday, August 4, 2017

Book Review - Tell the Wolves I'm Home

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt is a well written interesting story about a young girl and her uncle. June is shy, distant, and still trying to learn about life at age fourteen. It’s 1987 and the word AIDS is not common. Her uncle, famous painter Finn Weiss, is her favorite person in the world and he dies. But he leaves behind a “friend”, Toby, who’s a big secret. June’s mother is angry at Finn, Toby, etc about his death.  So June keeps her connection with Toby a secret. She learns more about her uncle’s life, about trust, and love.

This story is quite bittersweet. It’s a family drama that’s missing a key player – the late Finn Weiss. It’s only through his death that we learn more. It’s only through June’s love of her uncle and willingness to connect with his love, Toby, that the picture becomes complete.

p. 101  June:  I felt like I had proof that not all days are the same length, not all time has the same weight. Proof that  there are worlds and worlds and worlds on top of worlds, if you want them to be there.

p. 233  June: If I could time travel, could I be selfless enough to stop Finn from getting AIDS? Even if it meant I would never have him as my friend? I didn’t know. I had no idea how greedy my heart really was.

Tell the Wolves I’m Home is poignant and heartrending at times. It was different and I found it quite compelling. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Book Review - The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is so chillingly apt for our 2017 lives. Crap. I have chills.  It was written in 1986 and I have to say Atwood is freaking brilliant, prescient, and oh so wise. It has had a resurgence thanks to a production on Hulu (which I have not seen. It stars Elizabeth Moss  - an excellent actress).  Anyway – this book is very worthy of a read. It was our book club pick and I can’t wait to discuss it with my friends.

From the back blurb:  Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may only leave the Commander’s home once a day to walk to the food market. Women are no longer allowed to read. Women no longer have access to money. She has to pray that the Commander impregnates her. She is valued only because her ovaries are viable. She can remember the years before, when she lived and made love to her husband, played and protected her daughter, had  a job, money, and access to knowledge. All that is gone now…

Read and find out what happens. Review the life she remembers, how she exists now, and what is possible…if anything.

Atwood has created a world that is horrific and possible. Her vision is amazing and her writing is genius. I read this and shall turn around and re-read it. Wow. It blew my mind.  Quite profound.
I dog-eared this whole book.

p. 64  I’ve learned to do without a lot of things. If you have a lot, you get too attached to this material world and you forget about spiritual values. You must cultivate poverty of spirit.

p.94 What’s going on…has nothing to do with passion or love or romance…it has nothing to do with sexual desire

p.135  Maybe it’s about who can do what to whom and be forgiven for it

p.193  The moment of betrayal is the worse, the moment when you know beyond any doubt that you’ve been betrayed: that some other human being has wished you that much evil.

The Handmaid’s Tale is absolutely  one of the best books I’ve ever read.  Get it. Read it. Think. And re-read it.  And re-read it. Discuss.  Dang!!!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Happy Birthday Ray

Happy Birthday Ray!! Today's the day, my husband, lover, best friend, buddy, and all around great guy turns 61. Yikes!   So fun, so energetic, so opposite of me. Always up for anything, always laughing at my crazy crap. We just can hang or go travel and find adventure. He's up for anything I concoct, and believe me I'm always stirring up something.

Happy Birthday Ray

Love you loads!!!!