1988 – Barbara Kingsolver’s debut novel The Bean Trees
was the start of a great career. This is a writer with mad skills. I’ve loved
her writing through the years, but somehow had never read this book.
Taylor’s goal in life growing up poor in Kentucky was to
avoid pregnancy and move away. She succeeds – saves to buy a car and heads west
after high school. In a weird circumstance, she becomes the guardian of a baby
girl. The two make it to Tucson, meet Mattie, the owner of a car repair shop,
and Taylor has a job, a friend, and a new life. Mattie also runs a safe-house
for Central American refugees. Keep in mind, this story was written in 1988,
but seems fresh and current for today’s world.
Plenty of rich characters inhabit this book, and the baby
girl, nicknamed Turtle, is a healing force in all of their lives and a tie
that binds them together. This is a novel about love and friendship,
abandonment and belonging, and discovery. (cover blurb) You’ll root for Taylor
and Turtle and keep turning the pages of The Bean Trees.
Two Sundays ago, I cleaned up for the theater and treated myself to a matinee musical at Ball Hall. The touring production of Anastasia was topnotch.
In a journey to the past, we see a glorious life in czarist Russia- beauty and splendor. In just a few scenes, shots ring out and the family is dead. Clever scene changes bring us to a young girl sweeping streets for money. She meets two con men who decide she could pass for Anastasia, the young daughter of the Czar. Myth and rumor says she's alive and her grandmother in Paris is offering a reward for her safe return.
Strange circumstances, dreams, comments make this girl more than just a pawn for these men. Maybe? Just maybe? She could truly be Princess Anastasia.
The show through song and dance weaves this old tale into magic. Voices were strong. Acting was very good. The sets were gorgeous - one of the prettiest shows I've seen. It was a splendid afternoon where an audience was whisked by theater to Russia and Paris. Anastasia.... I believed in her.
Late Night - the movie. Screenplay written by the incomparable Mindy Kaling - score!
The awesome Emma Thompson stars. I am biased. She can do no wrong.
My friend Linda and I gave this a huge thumbs up. We chuckled. We enjoyed. It was good.
And as Linda said as we left the movie, " Gee, nothing blew up and there were no car chases."
I guess that's an epic failure for a summer movie. But for us - super duper thumbs up and win!!!!!!!
Emma plays Katherine Newbury - a female Late Night host. She's funny, sharp, spot on, and ratings are dropping. She's about to be canceled. How to fix this? Hire her first female... OMG...a diverse female of color...and see what happens. This just rocks the writer's room - lots of angst among the all white male writers. But gee..it kinda works, and then it kinda kicks ass.
I liked the theme and execution. Amy Ryan is the CEO of the channel and she's ultimately turned around. Emma's character does have to face current situations and reality - that's the key to the movie. She "needs" Mindy's character Molly - so fresh, so young, so current, and willing to speak her mind. It's not all sunshine and rainbows and that's okay.
I totally went with the plot and movie and found it quite good. The movie Late Night is a talkie - it's all about the dialogues, monologues, and acting. What a concept. All in all - I'm ready to watch this again and absorb more of the message. Yes, this is very current and worth watching. And Emma is awesome..........total support!!!
I laughed out loud multiple times as I read Southern
Lady Code by Helen Ellis. Sharp, sassy, and snarky – Ellis’s
writing is hysterical. Her mantra: If you don’t have something nice to
say, say something not so nice in a nice way. This collection of twenty
three short essays covers a gamut of subjects targeting her life as a southern
gal from Alabama who married a New Yorker and lives in Manhattan. Her
accent, white bread, and mayonnaise go far as she lives life.
Chapter Title is Today was a Good Day
some examples of Helen Ellis’ writing- I didn’t yank oxygen tubes out of my
nose. I didn’t chop off and bleach my hair in a gas station restroom. I didn’t
fall to my knees and scream “Noooooooooo.” I didn’t raise my hands toward
the heavens and scream, “Whyyyy?” I didn’t choke on a cupcake for breakfast. I
didn’t make a deal with the Dirt Devil and get my soul sucked out by a vacuum
cleaner. There were quite a few more examples
that made for a good day. Funny stuff.
p.126 In regards to recipe books -
“Vintage” is Southern Lady Code for dog-eared, with ballpoint notes in
the margins. You want the word cheese log to stand out. Slather on Ritz
crackers. Sour cream in everything. Apparently her parties are
legendary. Women in Manhattan who live on lettuce swoon over her homemade tubs
of fattening dips and Ruffles potato chips. No celery sticks to be seen.
Per her grandmother, “Give your guests what they
want.” That’s Southern Lady Code for: There’s nothing less fun than
caviar on toast point.
I highly recommend this book to brighten your day. Helen
Ellis is the kind of woman who enjoys the mystery of a manila envelope; who
has bouquets of pens instead of flowers and never runs out of stamps. (p.
198). Southern Lady Code – read it with a drawl and a
Our Friday adventure took us to Palestine Texas (about a 2 hour drive). There we enjoyed a vintage train ride from Palestine to Rusk through the Piney Woods of East Texas. Fifty mile round-trip chug - I love the sound of a train whistle, the clack of the tracks, the whoosh. Rolling hills, forest thicket, and twenty-four bridges.
A narrator filled us in on the history of the trains and the area. A soundtrack also accompanied the ride - amazing how many songs involve trains - Love Train, Peace Train, Locomotion, Midnight Train to Georgia, etc.
Ray and I had seats in an air-conditioned car, but we also wandered over to the open air car. It was a pleasant day and the breeze, wooden benches, and chatter of families added to the aura.
So many good songs fill Rocketman – a fantasy
musical based on the life of Elton John. From chubby Reginald Dwight to
consummate entertainer Elton John, the lyrics by Bernie Taupin and the score by
Elton tell the tale of a musical prodigy nerdy boy from England to the
over-the-top man who made himself Elton John. Taron Egerton does his own
singing, and while he doesn’t mimic Elton, he brings the soul of Elton to the
screen. From shy insecure boy who yearned for love and attention from heartless
parents to an insecure man unsure of his sexuality, his music skills, and
dependent on outrageous costumes and behavior for attention, Elton John is a
unique creation in music history.
Jamie Bell plays Bernie Taupin and he’s the rock who was and
is always there. Richard Madden plays the attractive love/lawyer/manager who
uses Elton. Gemma Jones is the loving grandmother for Reggie. Bryce Dallas
Howard does a good job as the selfish mother. But it’s Taron at center stage
and he’s excellent. Your Song, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Rocketman, Don’t
Let the Sun Go Down on Me, Honky Cat, Crocodile Rock, and more – your toes
will tap or you’ll want to sing along. And of course, after all the alcohol and
drugs and excess, I’m Still Standing – that sings/says it all.
Rocketman is great on the big screen, and you’ll
come out singing Elton songs – appreciative of the craft of the Taupin/John
collaboration. Like a Candle in the Wind….
All That You Leave Behind by Erin Lee Carr is a memoir of a father/daughter relationship. It's also about a journalist who died too young. The name David Carr rang a bell with me - I've read some columns or articles by him. From Erin's description, he sounded like a no-nonsense, old fashioned, pound the pavement journalist. He was a man of appetites - he worked hard, he played hard, he made friends, and kept connections. He was a memorable man.
At the end of the book, Erin Lee Carr has a list: Things I Learned From David Carr
Here are a few things that caught my eye and are worth noting as we all go through life.
Listen when you enter a room
Don't be the first one to talk, but if you do talk first, say something smart
You have to work the phones. Call people. Don't rely on emails
Ask people what mistakes they've made so you can get their shortcuts
Practice patience even though it's one of the hardest things to master
Remind yourself that nobody said this would be easy
Be generous with praise
Say what you mean and mean what you say
And finally - You are loved and you belong to me, the world, and yourself.
David Carr, journalist and author, fatally collapsed in the New York Times newsroom in 2015.
In All That You Leave Behind, his 27 year old daughter, Erin Lee Carr, writes of her devastation. As a documentary filmmaker just beginning her career, Erin reviews all of their correspondence looking for reassurances, comfort, and support. He was her rock, the embodiment of journalism. Integrity and hard work were everything to this man. How could she live up to the Carr name?
All That You Leave Behind is well written, earnest, and heartfelt. It's a poignant coming-of-age story that offers a raw and honest glimpse into the multilayered relationship between a daughter and a father. (cover blurb). It's a story about addictions and sobriety challenges. It's about work and family. He was her champion and her biggest critic. The Carr name helped her get in the door, but Erin recognizes where she blew it at times. She acknowledges when she let down her dad, and now he's not there.
This book is a window into love, with all of its fierceness and frustrations. (cover blurb)
On the cusp of graduating high school, besties Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) are good girls with valedictory grades and grand plans. But their little world has assumed that their loser classmates are doomed to failure. However, a confrontational conversation in the school bathroom has Molly learning that her party animal classmates are headed to Ivy League schools.
She turns to Amy and vows to make up for lost time - to go to that last big party at the coolest kid's house, to go wild. These girls "have a mad, cartoon-chipmunk chemistry, playing characters who know each other so well that they finish each other's sentences and step on each other's lines. What their friendship needs is a little room to breathe. Booksmart is smart about that too. " ( Time 6/3-6/10/19)
Directed by actress Olivia Wilde, Booksmart is a coming of age tale for girls. It's exaggerated, funny, and endearing chaos. "Nobody knows that we are fun, " laments Molly. I could identify with that as a total nerd in high school.
Booksmart can be silly and it crams a lot into it's 100 minutes, but I was amused and laughed out loud several times. Lots of pop culture references ring true, and the young actresses are perfect for their roles - attractively nerdy and average. Sometimes the foul language is a tad much, but that's often true these days. I could overlook it.
This might not be one for the theater for my blog friends, but don't roll by it when it's in your queue at home. It's smart enough and you don't have to read it - Booksmart!
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.