Another splendid exhibit is at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, and it's there until the end of December. Casanova - the Seduction of Europe looks at the 18th century through the eyes of Giacomo Casanova (1725-1798). He traveled widely in Europe, dined with the stars - Catherine the Great, et al, He studied law, wrote, painted, and pursued love most of all. Let's just say he was quite the player.
The exhibit offers plenty of Canaletto (i.e. The Entrance to the Grand Canal), Fragonard (lots of cherubs), costumes, sculptures, and even a section of (sshh!) naughty etchings. This is a very thorough collection of works, and a marvelous way to explore this time period. I always learn something and feast the eyes.
Here's my Casanova, Ray, posing at the entrance area. We had a really nice time in Fort Worth's Cultural District.
I had high expectations for Paula Hawkins’ next book after
her excellent The Girl on the Train.
Into the Water proved worthwhile but did not
blow me away. From the cover blurb the book is an addictive new novel of
psychological suspense about the slipperiness of truth – and one family
drowning in secrets.
Nell Abbott had been researching the various deaths by
drowning in the local river. All young females, all mostly declared suicides.
Now Nell is dead. Was she influenced by her research? Was she suicidal? Or was
this murder? Nell’s daughter – a vulnerable angry teen is being taken
care of by Nell’s sister, Jules. Jules and Nell had been estranged, so the
family dynamics are messy and Jules is not comfortable with dealing with her
niece. Various detectives offer their narrative too. Plus we have the strange
local flavor of the town psychic, etc. Also, Hawkins reverts to the past
to give viewpoints from previous drowning victims.
I like first person chapters, but this book had too many
people telling their story and it was hard to keep a continuing thread for
forward progress. Into the Water is well written. It ultimately
zooms along rapidly at the end to tie everything up. The book was good, not
fabulous. There was a lot of deception and hidden secrets in a small
From the cover blurb – Beware a calm surface – you never know
what lies beneath.
Life in Code: A Personal History of Technology
by Ellen Ullman is an excellent nonfiction read. This book will get the
brain cells churning as you think about technology and how it has changed you
and the world. The author was in San Francisco in the 1970s as a computer
programmer. She worked in this predominant boys club and her perspective is
interesting. Her viewpoint as an early coder looks at the sweep of technology,
cultural, and financial revolution. She writes in very clear concise concepts
and terms and is very thoughtful in her assessment.
p.83 At the time, I had my reservations about the web,
but not so much about the private, dreamlike state it offered. It seemed like
surfing was a sometimes interesting, sometimes trivial waste of time, but in a
social sense it seemed harmless. Something changed….Fall of
1998 she saw a huge billboard in San Francisco that said, “now the world does
revolve around you.”
p.87 Companies now make you believe that only you
can take care of yourself. The lure of personal service is being withdrawn. In
the internet age, under the pressure of globalized capitalization and its
slimmed down profit margins, only the very wealthy will be served by actual
human beings. The rest of us must make do with web pages, and feel happy about
p. 243 In regards to programming, one must develop
a high tolerance for failure, learn to move forward from discouragement, find a
ferocious determination, a near passionate obsession to solve a problem,
meanwhile summoning the pleasures of the hunt.
p.303 I wanted to race in and shake young people out of
their internet dreams. I wanted them to see the damage the web is doing to our
culture, banishing privacy, widening the divide between rich and poor,
hollowing out the middle class.
She wants folks to stay vigilant. Be aware of the good and
bad uses of the internet. Still depend on people. Try to not let the world
revolve around you.
Life in Code will push some buttons if
you read it.
Ray and I checked out the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth. In their atrium is a large-scale installation called Plexus No. 34 designed by Gabriel Dawe. It will be there for two years and includes more than eighty miles of multicolored thread. Truly a nifty sculpture that changes in the light. As you can tell by my photos (that don't do it justice), this is truly spectacular.
Go to your local art museum and be wowed
Happy Friday and Weekend, everyone
The fall Maverick Speaker Series kicked off with La Bamba - Lou Diamond Phillips. He's a thirty year actor, director, and producer, and a proud graduate of UTA '85. From his splash as Ritchie Valens in 1987 La Bamba to his current role in Longmire, Diamond has worked hard to pursue his dream and commitment to acting.
The theme of his speech was commitment. You have to keep moving forward. Keep learning. Be committed to people and the world. He was enthusiastic and had a nice sense of humor.
It was a fun hour and he certainly gave praise to his alma mater. He donated any proceeds from the night to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts for UTA students involved.
From the cover blurb: In Why Not Me?
Mindy Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in
her adult life, whether it’s falling in love at work, seeking new friendships
in lonely places, attempting to be the first person to lose weight without any
behavior modification, or most importantly, believing that you have a place in
Hollywood when you’re constantly reminded that no one looks like you.
Mindy Kaling was a writer first, then moved into
acting also with guest appearances and then her own show. Her wry humor and
observations can be laugh out loud funny. While she’s been successful in
Hollywood, she still seems like she’s trying to navigate the territory on
tiptoes. She still seems excited about the business and opportunities, the
celebrity meetings, and the parties. Yet she also can give very snarky comments,
and can laugh at the ridiculousness of the business.
She admits she truly loves her parents. She always wanted to
be liked as a kid in school. She admits to real anxieties in social situations.
Mindy Kaling comes across as down to earth and real. You’d want her on a road
trip, eating snacks, and talking…always talking.
Why Not Me? By Mindy Kaling is a breezy read.
It’s a humorous collection of essays written by a clever, smart, achieving
woman. ‘Nuff said.
Stephen King’s IT is a monster tome – it’s a
fast read for a lot of pages. It was a mini-series a long time ago starring Tim
Curry. Now a new movie is on the big screen and it is a worthy adaptation.
Derry, Maine seems like a charming little town. It’s 1988 and Billy makes a
paper boat for little brother Georgie to float in the rain. Alas, a storm drain
proves Georgie’s undoing as Pennywise the clown (Bill Skarsgard) smiles and
lures him closer…closer…and snatches him. Kids seem to be disappearing in this
town. Billy and his band of Losers start investigating and arrive at a very
Meanwhile, the bullying of the Losers, the implied home
abuse of others, and more hint at the horrors of childhood for so many. Stephen
King has always had underlying themes in his work – the daily horror of life
versus an otherworldly element. Sewer systems, haunted home, the well, and
basements. IT taps into plenty of creaking doors, not to mention
the fears in the mind. This movie is R due to language and subject
matter. The pacing, filming, and effects are excellent. The kids are all
superb, and IT is a good kickoff to the fall movie season.
Be wary if a red balloon drifts in your direction.
Here's your Monday moment - Ray captured this shot of the lion over Labor Day Weekend. We visited the Fort Worth Zoo. The lion was perched high, very attentive. The view - across the way was the zebras and she kept her eye on the baby zebra. In her brain, "when's lunch?" Ah, nature.
On another Monday moment - 9/11 - today we remember. I shall never forget.
From the cover blurb: Anything is Possible by
Elizabeth Strout explores the whole range of human emotions through the
intimate dramas of people struggling to understand themselves and others.
One story offers a contrast between two sisters. In another,
a janitor befriends an isolated man in town, and in a recurring theme – Lucy
Barton(from a previous book) is a celebrated author -her life and writing
affected quite a few lives in town. Several stories show her siblings’
resentments, her classmates shame. This book of connected short stories reverberates
with the deep bonds of family, and the hope that comes with reconciliation.
p. 90 Almost always it’s a surprise, the passing of
permission to enter a place once seen as eternally closed. And this is how it
was for a stunned Linda, who stood that day in that convenience store with the
sun falling over packages of corn chips and heard those words of compassion-
p.123 setting – a small town in Italy. Angelina is
visiting her mother who has moved there. “Mom,” Angelina said, “that woman
is your age, and she’s smoking, and she has her pearls tossed over her neck,
and she’s wearing high heels, and she’s pedaling her bike with a basket of
stuff in the back.”
“Oh I know honey. It just amazed me when I came here.
Then I figured it out – the women are just versions of people pulling up to
Walmart in their cars. Only they’re on a bike.”
For some reason, that little blip really amused me. It’s
observations like that in these stories that make Anything is Possible
by Elizabeth Strout a quiet read – a glimpse into ordinary lives.
When I was back East to visit my father, I was fortunate to have a weekend with good friends at Spring Lake, NJ. Helen has a lovely shore home that's on a pond, and also not far from the beach. We enjoyed fabulous weather, fresh salt air, toes in the sand, and plenty of laughs.
plus the bonus of the eclipse
Good times. Happy September now...will fall crispness arrive soon?
Wind River is a small slick indie film. It’s
well done, fast paced, and quite a story. Alas, the movie opens with a young
lady running barefoot for her life in a snowy region. This does not bode well.
Switch to Jeremy Renner (Cody) on his snowmobile. He’s a game warden and is off
to hunt a mountain lion that’s been killing livestock. Sadly, he finds the girl
and recognizes her – a daughter of a good friend of his. As local police arrive
and then the FBI, issues swirl as to jurisdiction. See, the land is part of the
Wind River Indian Reservation, and that complicates things.
Cody ends up helping Elizabeth Olsen – the FBI agent out of
her element. She’s been pulled in from AZ to Wyoming. So many layers to the
story. Cody is divorced from a Native American. Their daughter also died
mysteriously several years ago. He’s determined, for his Native American friend
Martin’s sake, to find the girl’s killer. Slowly, threads are pulled together.
She was seeing a white guy named Matt who worked out on a rig. In flashback, we
see that relationship and what transpired. Like the hunter he is, Cody tracks
carefully, looks for all the signs, and closes in on the story.
Wind River is not preachy but it does
highlight some Native American issues. The poverty, the lawlessness, the plight
of missing girls, and other underlying social/historical strains. Meanwhile,
the story, the acting, and the conclusion prove to be dramatic. This is a
“little” picture that deserves your attention.
Joanne Faries, originally from the Philadelphia area, lives in Texas with her husband Ray. She considers herself fortunate to be able to pursue a writing career after eons in the business world. Joanne enjoys reading and movies, and is the film critic for the Little Paper of San Saba.