I loved this book. Becoming by Michelle Obama is well written, thought provoking, and very inspirational. I personally liked her as a First Lady and I now have even more respect for her as a strong woman, a role model, a caring person who has put a lot of thought into her life and is still striving to be awesome. She has flaws. She has doubts. But she truly CARES. She truly gave it her all to be a First Lady and to represent for the American people.
Born on the Southside of Chicago to modest folks - her mother worked, her father worked - steady and hard despite having multiple sclerosis. (He set an amazing example for Michelle and her brother and passed very young - a devastating period in her life.). Her parents encouraged education and emphasized that as an African American you had to work twice as hard and never give up. Michelle took this advice to heart - and as an African American woman, she had to work triple at times.
Law school, community service, public service - her path varied, but ultimately landed on helping people. Meeting Barak Obama proved transforming - he was a yin to her yang - and perfectly exasperating at times in every way. She did not want the spotlight, but said yes to his political aspirations. They proved to be quite a team, and a family with daughters Malia and Sasha. Lots of struggles along the way. Lots of questioning. This book allows Michelle to explore their lives and give a great deal of insight into struggles, arguments, high and low points.
I bookmarked a ton of pages in Becoming. Lots to think about. I'll give you the final lines in the book- It's not about being perfect. It's not about where you get yourself in the end. There's power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there's grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become.
I'm in Philly visiting Dad, so I just scheduled some silly fun filler for Friday. Since I do love the movies, and shall probably come back with a review of something I'll see with Dad, let's just read some quotes about films today.
Pictures are for entertainment, messages should be delivered by Western Union - Samuel Goldwyn
For me the cinema is not a slice of life, but a piece of cake - Alfred Hitchcock
Good movies make you care, make you believe in possibilities again - Pauline Kael
I've got this preoccupation with ordinary people pursued by larger forces - Stephen Spielberg
Happy Friday all. Fingers crossed I make it back aboard a plane tomorrow and fly to DFW to be greeted by Ray's shining face. Enjoy your weekend.
Time to see Dad. Assuming the TSA sorta did their job back on Saturday 1/19 (don't get me started on this shutdown crap-a-roni) - I should have boarded a plane and flown to Philly. My sister would have picked me up at the airport and then driven to Dad's in the suburbs. Fingers crossed that the weather cooperated. Even more, I hope we get to Pudgies for a Philly cheesesteak sandwich - the best around.
By Sunday 1/20 - snow-maggedon might have occurred. This picture is from several years ago - my sister took it on her balcony. Fear not folks. I shall be indoors at my dad's and toasty warm. He's a little hot house flower these days and keeps his heat cranked. And supposedly my brother hired a guy for the season to plow my dad's driveway.
Traveling in January is a serious crap shoot, but I didn't get back east at end of last year, so it was time. Time for some laughs with dad. Time to just sit at the old kitchen table and watch dad shuffle papers. Time to watch dad snooze in his recliner (hint - always make sure you have control of the remote)
Hope you are having a good Wednesday. I am. I'm not working!!!
It's Martin Luther King, Jr. - Monday holiday. Frankly, anyone who is honoring this day should read James Baldwin's words or see the film If Beale Street Could Talk.
Written in 1974, it takes place in the late 1960s. Powerful words cover a time of trouble. The film directed by Barry Jenkins honors the book well with moving performances. Tish (Kiki Lane) and Fonny (Stephan James) are young, in love, and have known each other their whole lives. Now he's 21, she's 19, he's in jail for a rape crime he did not commit, and she's newly pregnant. Young lives turned upside down. Their families are working hard to help get Fonny out of jail. Tish's mother (played by the fabulous Regina King) even goes to Puerto Rico to talk to the victim to admit she lied about picking Fonny from a line-up that was rigged by a crooked beat cop.
You might be thinking 'yeah, yeah...what did he really do? Why did the cop have it in for him?' The book and the movie both cover the racism, the difficulty for a black male at that time to not be harassed just because...
p.135 Levy said "Watch out for the cops." One of the most terrible, most mysterious things about a life is that a warning can be heeded only in retrospect: too late
If Beale Street Could Talk is a love story. I loved this couple and Jenkins is a brilliant director. The movie takes its time, there are pauses in the dialogue, searching glances, and Tish and Fonny both have soulful eyes. In reading the book and watching the movie, I did find myself wondering if times have changed all that much...and that's sad that my conclusion was - Not Enough.
Poet, Mary Oliver passed away yesterday at the age of 83. She didn't write "fancy" poetry, as she called it. She just wrote from the heart and could capture nature, life, and love with stunning imagery. I admired her work, and fortunately, her words will live on.
Here is a stanza from Dream of Trees by Mary Oliver
Nothing can replace Mary Poppins starring
Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. That’s absolute movie law. However, Mary
Poppins Returns, is a nice homage to the original with plenty of little
reminders (including a scene with very old but spry Dick Van Dyke) of some
tunes, frivolity, and instead of chimney sweeps we have lamplighters. All
plucky dancers. This is a movie with musical scenes – if you hate that,
bow out now. This is a movie with incredibly wise, cute kids – if you hate that
bow out now. But if you are ready for Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins – practically
perfect in the right way – then you are in for a treat.
Michael (Ben Whishaw) and Jane (Emily Mortimer) are grown up now and Michael has kids of
his own. His wife passed. Life is in disarray on Cherry Street Lane, and they
could lose the house. Time for a wind shift and the arrival of Mary Poppins,
carpet bag and talking umbrella in hand. Spit spot – soon she has the kids
clean and orderly and ready to be kids again. Each errand or outing is an
adventure with a ride in an animated carriage, a swim under the ocean, or a
dance with the lamplighters led by Jack (Lin Manuel-Miranda – sparkly eyes and
cheeky grin). All in all, they must find bank shares to keep the house from
foreclosure. Oh the mean banker (Colin Firth at his stuffiest). Can they beat
out that stroke of midnight?
Pleasant tunes, jolly dancing, colorful film-making, and the
calm control of Mary Poppins. You can’t lose. I enjoyed Mary Poppins
Returns a lot. After a busy week and on a gray dreary Friday, this
after work matinee replenished my soul and made me feel like a kid again.
The Favourite would not be everyone’s cup of
tea. But if you like period piece movies, lavish sets, rich costumes, and
spot-on acting, then this will keep you entertained. My friend and I liked the
whole movie up until the ending. Then we kinda said, “What…? Well, that
was a bit weird.” However, I do not regret my time and energy seeing a matinee.
It’s the early 1700s, and Queen Anne (Golden Globe winner
Oliva Colman) is a crotchety royal with an attitude. Spoiled, fat, and over
indulged, she’s a ridiculous head of state that all the lords and ministers
must maneuver about to get stuff done. England is at war with France, but most
are trying for a truce. Money for the war is tight. Shall they raise the
landowner’s taxes? Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) has the queen’s ear and
affections. She can cajole and work the system to get things done. Then Abigail
(Emma Stone) arrives – she’s Lady Sarah’s down and out cousin who’s pretty,
smart, and conniving. She manages to gain the queen’s favor. Or does she?
That said – let the games/cat fights begin. Colman is superb
as the queen – so fussy and needy. Weisz and Stone lob biting dialogue and
stinging retorts with glee. All three women are just excellent and that’s what
makes the film work with many memorable scenes. The Favourite is
lovely on the big screen with the ornate rooms and grounds of the castle.
Settle in and place your bets on who comes out a winner or loser and is the
favorite after all, and who is a sad mess.
Vice is snarky good fun. If you liked The
Big Short written and directed by Adam McKay, then this film is for
you. It’s sharp, clever dialogue and structure cracked me up. Who knew that a
film about Dick Cheney could be so amusing? It’s about an average guy in
Wyoming who got a wake-up call from his fiancée – Lynn. Stop drinking,
get your act together, or I’m leaving you. Sure enough, Dick truly got
straightened out, went to school, made connections, and was in the right place
at the right time.
Christian Bale gives a genius performance. It’s uncanny. Amy
Adams as Lynn is spot on – she’s the Lady Macbeth behind the scenes control.
Steve Carell as Rumsfield is a power tool. And Sam Rockwell as George W.
is a bit cliché as the bumbling dude. The movie, from the beginning, is
full of fact and fiction….just roll with it. No matter what, we know what
did occur under the Bush presidency, and a whole lot of it was thanks to Vice
President Cheney. This is a movie about power, power grabs, control, and
it’s a tad scary as to what did occur – even if it was only fifty percent
true. Crazy times that affect us even today.
But scenes with focus groups manipulating vocabulary. Scenes
in regards to the military. Scenes about consolidation of powers. OMG.
It’s sad. It’s a hoot. I admit I lean left and have despised Cheney. But
I had to say “Kudos” to what the man accomplished. And yes, it’s taken with a
grain of salt. I like a good chuckle and I laughed out loud a bunch. I’d say
that Christian Bale should start preparing his Oscar speech. Vice
is a film. This is NOT a documentary. It is well done and I’ll use the
snarky word again. I like a smart sharp film – this totally entertained.
Aquaman is eye-popping entertainment and
cheesy fun. Jason Momoa is a big man with a big heart, a head of wavy hair, and
a twinkle in those eyes. He’s in on the joke and has a smashing good time
underwater or on dry land. It’s time for him to rise above his mortal means and
join in to help Atlantis. It’s been his destiny all along. In back story,
we see him learn swim skills, trident skills, and more from Willem Dafoe. It
was summer camp for the kid. He also is loyal to his mortal father and honors the
memory of his mother (a fishy Queen Nicole Kidman).
Other members of the cast – Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson,
Dolph Lundgren – offer a swimming stew of friendship, revolt, power struggles, jealousy,
and more. The key to survival for underwater Atlantis and the surface world is
the Trident of Atlan. Aquaman’s quest to find it and put it to good use is fun
and the plot weaves in and out of seaweed, fish, and seahorses carrying
underwater knights. The movie effects are well done as life bobs along in
the water – bubbles, waves, and more.
Jason Momoa carries this movie and is a worthy addition in
the DC pantheon. He swaggers, grins, and can hoist a Trident above all others.
No need to hold your breath for too long. Treat yourself to a huge tub of
popcorn and dive into Aquaman, the movie.
and here's an ancient pic. I should be writing a movie review, but I'm not. My father, who is now a teeny tiny hunched over man, is our star senior of the moment. He's "healthy".
Forgive me my friends for another filler kind of post. I'm wearing comfy pants and I'm winning Ray's company football pool. Oh yes - there's no good strategy other than "hey, my cousin Rob went to Syracuse - that's a pick." Or we hate Ray's old boss Jim and he went to Purdue - I'll pick against him. Yes, it's genius.
I admit to some distraction - not a good excuse, but Ray's dad is in a rehab and doing well. He's 82. Had back surgery and getting his bearings. He wants to get well and is working hard. Root for him.
Ray's mom is having surgery today 1/2/19 - a broken bone in the leg and 2 in the ankle area. Don't even ask what happened...big sigh and she wouldn't let paramedics take her to the hospital. But we're here now...and we shall see what happens. Pray that social workers get her placed somewhere...i.e. not our house. We are not medical folks. She needs professional care.
So - 2018 did not end awesome. 2019 starts as a challenge.
I know that many folks are far worse off. (hey, Robyn - thinking of you in Chico - near Paradise)
But we'll get this figured out. And I promise some movie reviews. And Here's to 2019.
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.