Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Woe is Wednesday

Went to the Fort Worth Zoo a week or so ago.  I snapped this picture of the orangutan - so reflective.
His hand to his forehead...I picture him thinking of all he must do the next week, or pondering some hi-jinks his kids have gotten into, or for today just thinking, "Wednesday is Hump Day"

Hope your week has been decent

Monday, November 12, 2018

Movie Review Madness - Bohemian Rhapsody

The first time I heard the song Killer Queen on the radio, I perked up my ears. This was a new and different sound and the lead singer’s voice soared effortlessly.  1970 – Freddie Mercury (lead singer), Brian May (guitar), Roger Taylor (drums), and John Deacon (bass guitar) formed Queen. The rest is another chapter in rock history. The film Bohemian Rhapsody brings the Queen story to life, and actor Rami Malek embodies the heart and soul of Freddie Mercury. He’s uncanny (and should be up for an Oscar).

I’ve read other reviews that say this film follows the usual rock story – struggling musicians, the big success, the excesses, the inevitable clashes, the egos, and the break-up/ final triumphs. Well, yeah – I’m very fine with that. Mercury was an outsider, in London with immigrant parents. He was always seeking his father’s approval, but knew he was different – meant to be a performer. And when he opened his mouth (his very unusual overbite mouth) – the voice of an angel emerged. Forming Queen – a group of misfits – the band explored and went beyond the norm. Their album, Night at the Opera, was groundbreaking. Bohemian Rhapsody, the song, was six minutes. What radio would play that? What are they singing? Is it gibberish? And operatic?

I enjoyed the film, the music, and Freddie’s story. He found true love early, but then strayed –confused, caught up in excess, but inherently lonely. The band was his family. And he did contract AIDS, was aware that his life was going to be cut short. He rallied the band back together to play Wembley stadium in England for Live Aid. Talk about taking a final curtain call – this was a performance for the ages. We are the Champions, We Will Rock You, Somebody to Love, and on and on.  Bohemian Rhapsody will stir you, make you want to stomp your feet and clap, and frankly sing-a-long like Wayne and Garth in a car.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Book Review - Clock Dance

I love Anne Tyler’s writing and Clock Dance does not disappoint. This is not my favorite of hers – I did like A Spool of Blue Thread more, but even lesser works are better than most. Trust me, Tyler knows how to capture ordinary folks (often “older”)  – their thoughts, their lives, and she gives them dignity and understanding. Often tough to do in this day and age.

Cover blurb:  Willa Drake can count on one hand the defining moments of her life.  1967 – schoolgirl coping with her mother’s disappearance. 1977 – college coed considering a marriage proposal. 1997 – young widow trying to piece her life back together. 2017 – yearning to be a grandmother.   Then one day, Willa receives a startling phone call from a stranger. She flies cross-country to look after a young woman she’s never met, her nine year old daughter, and a dog. This impulsive decision will lead Willa into uncharted territory.

Interesting and quirky, Willa turns out to have some nerve and backbone. She’s willing to say no to her stiff second husband, and continue her journey of self-discovery.  Clock Dance by Anne Tyler is full of surprises. We’re all fighting the battle against Father Time. This book is a lot about how we choose to do it – are we in charge? Or is time itself?


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Wednesday Contemplation

I borrowed this from Robyn's 10/29/18 post.   Timely words to contemplate

Monday, November 5, 2018

Monday Election Eve - Vote

Tuesday , November 6, 2018 is another Election Day.  We are fortunate in America. The dates are set for elections - it's not random, it's not willy-nilly, it's not after one group dissolves, and others are formed. It's very regular and we get to choose.

Ray and I chose early voting.  We are a "divided" household and, no doubt, "canceled" out our votes. But we did it and we'll still be alive and talking on Wednesday morning.

Today is Monday. I hope you've done the same - early vote, or you'll be stopping at the polls on Tuesday between 7 am and 7 pm to give your vote, your opinion, and exercise your freedom.

Good luck, America!

Friday, November 2, 2018

Friday Miracles

Wednesday 10/24/18, Dr. Michael Blair, in just ten minutes executed a miracle. He removed a severe cataract from my left eye and did laser stuff that removed my extreme astigmatism. I awoke and could see the clock on the wall without glasses.

That has not been possible since third grade, age eight. ( am not ancient either - just born with bad eye genes. My father has already apologized!)

Wednesday 10/31/18, Dr. Michael Blair, in just ten minutes executed another miracle. He did the exact same thing on my right eye.

I can see........distance........without glasses.  For those of you who have always been able to see, you have NO idea of the magnitude.  For those of you with glasses....holy cow. I can see the clock when I wake up in the morning. I can see the stupid ESPN crawler at the bottom of the TV screen again.

Science miracles do occur.

Do not take vision for granted. There is so much to see and read. It's fabulous. I am awestruck.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween

 I saw the original Halloween starring Jamie Lee Curtis.  Michael Myers was scary then. I don't think I'll subject myself to him in 2018.
 My parents had me watch Psycho a long time ago. Classic Hitchcock. Creepy, scary, and knife slashing shower scene.
 Scream - amusing
The Spiral Staircase - another super oldie that my folks had me watch a long time ago. Our television was in our basement - the old paneled rec room.  Talk about scary back in the day.


Happy Halloween. No need to comment.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Monday Mania

Let's have a spook-tacular week

Friday, October 26, 2018

Book Review - Woman in the Window

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn is a taut thriller with shades of Hitchcock and other black and white noir films. What’s up with Anna Fox? She’s a recluse, watches old movies,
chats with her husband and daughter (?), and spies on her neighbors. Does she witness a murder at the Russell home?

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger?  Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one- and nothing – is what it seems. (cover blurb)

This book kept me hooked and questioning Anna. Is she reliable despite drinking a heck of a lot of wine. Did she meet a Jane Russell? Or is the wife of Alistair Russell the real Jane Russell? Is Ethan the innocent confused son?  Lots of questions to answer with a very unreliable source.  What happened to Anna and her family? Oh, that is key to the Woman in the Window.  Will the police, the psychiatrist, the physical therapist, etc be able to piece together answers to this puzzle?

Slick writing, sophisticated suspense. I recommend this book and dare you to piece together the answers. It kept me hooked until the end and then you say “Whoa!”   Enjoy the ride.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Wednesday Wow - Rachmaninov

A friend, Trish, invited me to join her for a night of Rachmaninov and the Fort Worth Symphony.
I couldn't say no. I took an Uber into Fort Worth, basked in the glory of Bass Hall, and soaked in the beauty of classical pianists. I admit I know nothing about classical music. Many refrains of Rachmaninov are no doubt part of movie soundtracks - I could recognize refrains.

The three pianists sounded awesome to my untrained ears. Plenty of dramatic arm flourishes, rapid riffs up and down the keyboard, and the symphony sounded beautiful. I thought the conductor was thoughtful and encouraged the group.

I did read the review in the paper and OMG - I was SO wrong. Apparently the conductor had no clue, the symphony drowned out key elements, and the pianist I liked the most - Yeol Eum Son, was over dramatic and not worthy.

Big sigh.  Best to not know anything.  Just bask in the glory of sound, feel the music, and Uber home content.

Support your local symphony and musicians. Do not over think. Let the music wash over you.

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Old Man and his Gun is a charming movie based on a true story. Forest Tucker liked to rob banks. He was good at it, too, until he got caught and then he was pretty good at escaping prison (including building his own boat and sailing out of San Quentin island). But that’s back story. 1981, We meet Forest (played by the excellent Robert Redford) as a dapper dressed, polite older gentleman robbing banks in Texas, Arkansas, and beyond. He appears elusive until John Hunt (Casey Affleck), a Dallas cop, digs deep to pursue the man. It’s a cat and mouse game, and really fun to watch.

Meanwhile, Forest meets Jewel (the sublime Sissy Spacek). He says he robs banks, but she doesn’t believe him. They meet at a diner when he’s in town, and ultimately spend time chatting and sitting on her lovely ranch front porch. Oh he spins quite a few stories, says only married once a long time ago with no kids. Says he’s a salesman. No matter what, he speaks with a twinkle in his eye and a thoughtful manner. Their screen time together is so pleasant.

So, in ninety minutes you get to meet the bank robber, his buddies (dubbed by the news as The Over the Hill Gang), his lady friend, and the cop. You get the build-up, the behind the scenes planning, the cop figuring out the puzzle, and you root for everyone concerned. Yes, the old man has a gun, but this is not a violent movie. So, sit back, enjoy the ride, watch a masterclass in acting, and enjoy the dialogue and the silence too.  The Old Man and his Gun is quite a true story- you just can’t make this stuff up.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Movie Review Madness - A Star is Born

What doesn’t Bradley Cooper do?  He acts, he flashes that sweet smile and those clear baby blue eyes, and he’s managed to come off as a real nice guy. Now he’s directed his first feature film AND he sings in it. In a 2018 remake of A Star is Born, Cooper is Jackson Mayne, an alcoholic musician with tinnitus, who’s not keeping it together. His brother, Bobby (Sam Elliott), does his best but Jackson is self-destructing. Then one night after a show, in search of a drink, he has his driver stop outside a place. It’s a drag bar, but the young lady featured to sing had been a former server. Everyone is enthralled with Ally’s performance, and Jackson falls hard.  Ally (a superb Lady Gaga) has tried to get in  the business, but she’s unconventional looking. She’s heard the critiques about her nose, etc,  and doesn’t need the verbal abuse.

Of course, in movie world – boy meets girl, boy gets girl up on stage, girl takes the crowd by storm, and conquers the music world very quickly. We watch Ally’s rise and root for her. Lady Gaga can belt a song and can really act too – she’s the real deal. Meanwhile, even though in love, jealousy rears its head. Jackson’s alcoholism is on a collision course with Ally’s success.  A Star is Born is solid. The story has good bones and this version works. The music is current and the singing is excellent. Cooper and Gaga have chemistry. My only usual complaint – it runs a tad long. I think Cooper could have edited or tightened it by fifteen, twenty minutes. Still, I’ll say Bradley Cooper can do it ALL – a director is born! Sing it loud.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Wednesday Wow - State Fair of Texas time

 Gorgeous Friday 10/5/18 at the great State Fair of Texas - 2018.  Ray and I began on the big Ferris wheel.  Whee!!!
 Auto show shiny
 Football rivalry - The Texas Longhorns vs Oklahoma  Sooners coming up that Saturday
 Yes, we ate our Fletcher's corny dogs. That's tradition
Just took a picture of one of the stands featuring a new fried concoction.  I went back to last year's winner - Fat Smooth - a fried beignet. It did not disappoint.

11 am to 7 pm - over 10K steps, and maybe 10K calories.  That's the Wednesday Wow - Texas does it up BIG

Monday, October 15, 2018

Book Review - There There by Tommy Orange

Tommy Orange’s first novel There There is a relentlessly paced multi-generational story about violence and recovery, memory and identity, and the beauty and despair woven into the history of a nation and its people. (cover blurb)

He intertwines twelve characters as they travel to the Big Oakland Pow wow. Each has their reasons – explore traditions, face their heritage, honor family, and question the life and plight of urban Native Americans.  Here is a voice we have never heard – a voice full of poetry and rage, exploding on to the page with stunning urgency and force.  (cover blurb) As a member of the Cheyenne and Apache tribes of Oklahoma, Tommy Orange explores complex history, writes of spirituality, and looks at addictions and abuse as he introduces his characters.  Each character is interesting and complex. They live in a world I’ve not seen, but I’m aware of from current news.

This work of fiction is quite strong, relevant, and thought provoking. I liked his writing and voice and the characters stuck with me even after the final page. There is a There There worth exploring.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Book Review - The Postmistress

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake offers two perspectives on the news in 1940.  First Iris James, as the postmistress in a coastal MA town, takes her duty quite seriously. However, one day, she slips a letter into her pocket, knowing she delays the inevitable but feels it’s for the best. She reads a heartbreaking letter and does not deliver it.  Meanwhile, Frankie Bard broadcasts overseas with Edward R. Murrow. She feels compelled to make sure Americans know what is happening in Europe. She doesn’t want folks to not believe that Nazi Germany is building evil and that it affects the world.

Cover blurb:  The Postmistress is a tale of two worlds – one shattered by violence, the other willfully na├»ve – of two women whose jobs are to deliver the news, yet who find themselves unable to do so. Through their eyes, and the eyes of everyday people caught in history’s ride, it examines how we tell each other stories, and how we bear the fact of war as we live ordinary lives.

This is a solid story with engaging writing. There’s a love story and a story of survival.   P. 351  A story like a snapshot is caught, held for a moment, then delivered. But the people in them go on and on. And what happens next? What happens?   This book has a sense of urgency and is a worthy read.  Another winner. I’ve been on a roll.

Thanks, Linda Hoffman – a friend, and a reader who shares her excellent finds.  Shout out, my friend!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A Simple Favor is a delicious, twisty turning fun film full of deception, beautiful people , a vlog, surprises, and friends? Anna Kendrick is Stephanie, super single mom who hosts her video blog, makes the best school food treats, and is conservatively eager to please. When son Miles and his friend Nicky beg for a play date, she agrees when Emily, the cold as ice beautiful Blake Lively, invites Stephanie over for a martini. “Momma needs a reset button.”  Oh my! 

Stephanie has never met anyone like Emily, who drinks, curses, wears power clothes, works in the city, has the hot author husband, and dares Stephanie to be bad. Then the phone call, “Can you pick up Nicky and take him after school for a bit? I’m swamped at work.”   One simple favor turns into days…where is Emily?  Stephanie posts her concern on her vlog. Shaun (the luscious Henry Golding) involves the police. What’s going on?  Then a body in a Michigan lake turns out to be Emily – DNA and tattoo match.  End of movie grieving?

Oh no. That was only the beginning. I won’t give more away. Grab the popcorn tub and hang on for a wild ride in suburbia. Good acting. Lots of twists. And several, “Say what?” moments.
Just A Simple Favor…that’s all. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Tuesday Thought

No, this does not sum up my birthday. I had a splendid Monday and the whole weekend.

This was a sign in front of the Hall of State in Fair Park - Dallas Texas. It's State Fair of Texas time. More pics next week. 

However, this one made me laugh.  Obviously they had a reason to post this. Most museum places say no food, no drink. That's rather clear.  But, no balloons???   Seriously?

Well, the Hall of State is a gorgeous Art Deco building with really high ceilings.  I'm guessing some poor fool came in with a helium balloon and let go.

Dang - just ruined balloons for everyone.

Happy Tuesday.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Birthday Salute to ME

 Today, October 8 - I'm officially truly older than dirt.
 I can remember black and white TV and clicking the three or four channels. I remember red dye and when cereal said "sugared" and meant it.  I remember "smoking" candy cigarettes in the kitchen while Dad had his one Camel.

 Ray and I did marry - Justice of the Peace, in jeans, then a fun party that night.
Picture on the right is my very casual author picture....Maybe I should update it.
And here I am with Ray in Cozumel, cruising onward.....I know less than I did back in the black and white era. Still questioning, still stumbling, still a left-handed, green-eyed gal from PA.  (a damn Yankee in TX)

Assuming I make it to Halloween, I will then have lived longer than my mother. That's mind blowing.

But cheers! I plan on eating chocolate cake and enjoying my whole birthday weekend - Friday and Monday off.  Go to the State Fair, hit a movie, celebrate with friends, and of course, hang with Ray.

Happy Birthday to ME......... Yikes!

Friday, October 5, 2018

Book Review - The Whole Town's Talking

Fannie Flagg has been around forever and her books read like an old friend stopped by to chat. The Whole Town’s Talking is a light breezy read that entertains.

Elmwood Springs, MO is home to the Nordstoms. Lorder moved there from Sweden, farmed, ordered a mail order bride – beloved Katrina, became the town’s first mayor, and chose the place on the hill for the cemetery.  Naturally he was the first to arrive at the resting place. And much to his surprise, he “woke up” and could hear town folk visit his grave. Soon other seniors passed away and joined him. All in all, Flagg keeps us posted through the decades on the folks who are alive and prospering, and the folks who die. Some pass too young – boys who went to Vietnam. Some arrive and are annoyed that they still have to hear the town talk (old man Henderson). Some arrive at the cemetery, participate, and then suddenly leave.

She mixes real life history with Elmwood Springs growth, and we enjoy the company of the founders, their offspring, and their grandchildren. This is Americana at its best – chatty, catty, generous, patriotic, and greedy. The author knows people and keeps her sense of humor as she regales us with town talk.  The Whole Town’s Talking is just plain fun – a good read on a rainy day that will keep you chuckling as you turn the pages.  After a few chapters, go stroll through your neighborhood and find something or someone to talk about. Make sure it’s good or juicy!  Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Wednesday Wow - more Cruise/ Cozumel Moments

 I like looking at the wake....zooming along at 20 knots or so
 Quaint charm in Cozumel

 Lush greenery thanks to a daily rain
and can't go wrong with a gorgeous sea sunrise

Happy look ahead to the weekend

Monday, October 1, 2018

Book Review - The Other Woman

The Other Woman by Daniel Silva
(cover blurb) She was his best kept secret – a mysterious Frenchwoman begins work on a dangerous memoir. It is a story of a man she once loved in the Beirut of old, and a child taken from her in treason’s name. The woman is the keeper of the Kremlin’s most closely guarded secret. Long ago, the KGB inserted a mole into the heart of the West – a mole who stands on the doorstep of ultimate power.

And of course who shall come to the rescue of civilization?  Gabriel Allon -  art restorer, assassin, chief of Israel secret intelligence – is back to reluctantly join in a quest to thwart treason, restore global order, and of course, arrive home safe to the arms of his lovely Italian wife, Chiara, and their twins. Gabriel is getting older, more world weary, and yet those deep green eyes burn when there are wrongs to be righted.

Daniel Silva knows how to keep pages turning. Double crosses. Twists. World travel locations. Whirlwind espionage with the strongest cast of characters around. I’ve written plenty of Silva reviews on this blog. Add The Other Woman to my list of compelling reads. Silva is scary current with a pulse on our fragile world situation. Reading his work is like having the key to our future. Now, who’s our Gabriel Allon? He can conquer the bad guys…gotta love fiction. (or scary truth?)  Enjoy!

Friday, September 28, 2018

Movie Review - The Wife

The Wife is a solid flick, maybe a tad predictable. BUT.  And this is a big BUT …watching Glenn Close is a master class in acting. She is compelling even when silent. Her eyes and face must be watched. Let Oscar races begin for fall.

Jonathan Pryce plays Joe, the author, awaiting a phone call from Sweden. Sure, enough he wins the Nobel Prize for Literature and who’s by his side? Joan (Glenn Close), the wife – ever supportive and caring through the years. So, the trek to Stockholm brings out family dynamics between Joe, his son, and Joan. Joe is vain, insecure, and has failing health. Joan is classy, smart, and stands in the corner watching the whole schmooze. We see flashbacks to when she met Joe at Smith College in 1958. She’s the talented student in literature. He’s the young, hot professor in a “bad” marriage. She marries, they have kids, he’s the talented author.

Oh, but there’s more to that story. We gain insight as Christian Slater (a reporter, biographer) asks probing questions about Joe and Joan. He has theories about the body of work and success of Joe. You can see where this is all headed, but it’s worth the 100 minute journey just to watch Glenn Close. Good lines, good pauses, blue eyes that can flash anger, signal disappointment, smile, and show fierce determination. The Wife, the wife – a woman to be reckoned with, not to be taken lightly.  Tight film and excellent performances. As an author/writer, I enjoyed the literature aspect of this movie.
Solid B for bravo acting.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Wednesday Wows

 fave thing on the Cozumel cruise - the treat that greets us when we come to our room
 very clever towel art
 our room steward on the Carnival Valor was awesome
 a morning poolside with a lot of towel creatures
 a close up

Monday, September 24, 2018

Book Review - Unmasked by Andrew Lloyd Weber

Unmasked by Andrew Lloyd Weber is part one of his memoir.  Oh it’s a bit much. The man goes into far too much detail of his childhood, and he does blather a bit. BUT, this book is immensely skim worthy. He’s chatty in the humorous British way – he can be snarky and you, the reader, do feel like you are at tea or perhaps a bar and he’s regaling you with stories. So, it’s a fun book if you are interested in all things Weber and theater.

His behind the scenes look at the London stage and Broadway is fascinating. The amount of work involved in putting on a show is amazing. And certainly , his successes are not to be sneered at, nor does he shy away from the failures in his book. He dishes on various people and his collaborations with deep talent – Tim Rice, Robert Stigwood, Harold Prince, Cameron McIntosh, and Trevor Nunn. There are plenty of details on his first hit – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, the fabulous Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, the groundbreaking Cats, and he ends this book with the history dazzling Phantom of the Opera.

He’s obviously a brilliantly talented man with interests in architecture and music. His witty anecdotes of numerous celebrities  - Sarah Brightman, Judi Dench, Mandy Patinkin, Patti LuPone, Michael Crawford, Betty Buckley, and more will keep you turning pages. There’s a lot to be learned and shared in Unmasked.  If you like theater, this is a book for you. If you’ve seen Phantom more than once…this book is for you. If you are a T.S Elliott Cats fan….well, read for the Memory….like I said, you can skim and hum and chuckle along.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Book Review - Calypso by David Sedaris

David Sedaris is one of my favorite writers and his latest book, Calypso, does not disappoint. He’s hilarious. His observations on people and life can be a tad rude, and yet spot on.  From the cover blurb – This is beach reading for people who detest beaches, required reading for those who loathe small talk, and love a good tumor joke. Calypso is simultaneously Sedaris’ darkest and warmest book yet – it is comedy born out of that vertiginous moment when your own body betrays you and you realize that the story of your life is made up of more past than future.

His twist of phrase, his timing, and his family dynamics will keep you turning the pages. In each essay, you feel like he’s just hanging out telling stories. I’ve been to one of his author talks and that’s worth the price of admission in itself. He’s quirky and knows it and can laugh at himself.

He’s bought a beach house and family can gather. Oh, the stories there…and his thoughts too -
p.13  When visitors leave, I feel like an actor watching the audience file out of the theater, and it was no different with my sisters.  The show over, Hugh and I returned to lesser versions of ourselves.

p.67 I’m not sure how it is in small families, but in large ones relationships tend to shift over time. You might be best friends with one brother or sister, then two years later, it might be someone else. It doesn’t mean you’ve fallen out….just that you’ve merged into someone else’s lane. The beauty of it is that it’s always changing.

p.91  Memory aside, the negative just makes for a better story: the plane was delayed, an infection set in, outlaws arrived.  Happiness is harder to put into words.

Well I can state that David Sedaris makes me happy. His writing is just different in a good way. He’s funny and also can be poignant, then hit a snarky note that’s perfect.
Catch that Calypso beat.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Wednesday Wows

 Ray's company Knight Electronics treated the company to a cruise from Galveston TX to Cozumel Mexico. Very generous.   Here we are on our beach day at a nice little private resort beach
 Ray had his margaritas. I'm a Corona gal.  Tasted good after a swim, snorkel, and accompanied by chips, queso, and fajitas. Yum!
 Later, sunset Saturday night
 Sunrise Monday morning
back at the beach - a little Day of the Dead friends saying Adios