Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Thankful for Friends and Fun - Cookie Edition

Saturday class at Cake Carousel in Arlington proved to be yummy fun with friends.
 Cookie decorating 101

 Don't look too closely at my shaky iced lines. It's tricky to do and rather involved.

And that's the reason why fancy decorated cookies cost a bunch.

I'm thankful for friends, laughs, and cookies.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Frozen 2 movie review

I went to see Let It Go 2 – aka Frozen 2. After all, Let It Go was an earworm you could not escape when the original Frozen phenomenon hit theaters. Frozen 2 does not disappoint and kids clapped at the end of the film. I’m sure many will see it again and again and again. The franchise stays on track and I agree with the Dallas Morning News – the movie has all the staying power of a snowflake. It evaporates almost on contact.

The movie is pleasant with snowy landscapes, fun lines, decent songs, and sister power. Elsa (Idina Menzel) is queen of Arendelle. Anna (Kristen Bell), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), and Olaf (Josh Gad) follow Elsa when she hears a mysterious voice from the forest. Turns out she needs to free the forest from a fog, work with native people in the area, and resolve an ancient struggle to right some historic wrongs. She has her ice powers, but she still need her posse – most of all her sister. The journey involves the scary giant boulder men, caves, a very cool water horse, and dealing with all elements – fire, water, air, and earth.

This sister bond is the key to this movie and what makes the concept of Frozen and Frozen 2 special. The movie made me happy and yes, I want to build a snowman…

Friday, November 22, 2019

Movie Review Madness - Maleficent -Mistress of Evil

So, it’s been out for a while, but I really liked Maleficent – Mistress of Evil.  This is Disney at its best. Total production, special effects and the acting of the otherworldly Angelina Jolie as Maleficent, Michelle Pfeiffer as the evil stepmom, Elle Fanning as Aurora- so innocent and pure. What’s not to like?  This is a  movie for the big screen. It’s gorgeous. The effects are excellent. The plot line works.

Aurora is grown up and she loves the Prince. Why not bring two families together? Um, well, there are the horns on Maleficent’s head, and the fangs when she smiles. Nothing a little scarf couldn’t cover. But wait there’s more….the Prince’s mom – gorgeous Michelle – is way evil and has been plotting forever to take over this kingdom. OMG. And there’s a whole other world (of Maleficent species) that have been hoping for some acknowledgement. Plenty of threads interconnect through this movie. I won’t go into more detail. You need to watch to see it play out.

But the general theme is Love. In her weird way, Maleficent is the best mother for her “beastie” Aurora. And as the plot thickens, the bond does too. The super-duper battle scene is totally worth the wait. Oh – Angelina vs. Michelle – cinema genius.

This is just absolute fun. Don’t wait for Disney Plus streaming. Support your local theaters. Everyone else is seeing Frozen at Thanksgiving. Find a seat for Maleficent – Mistress of Evil. Cheers and cranberry sauce.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Renoir: The Body, The Senses

A lovely Saturday spent with a friend at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth. The special exhibit featured Renoir: The Body, The Senses.  As a young lad growing up next to the Louvre, he spent hours studying the old masters. By the late 1880s/ early 1900s, his impressionistic style gathered raves or guffaws. Critics were divided.

This exhibit featuring his nudes and studies of the human form is fascinating. He constantly evolved. He often thinned his paint and then used layers and layers to create the translucent effect. His blending of colors on the bodies - blues, purples, yellows, etc. added a glow to skin. I stood in the middle of the gallery and gazed about - the figures just popped from the canvas. I especially liked the above portrait - Blonde Beauty 1881 - ethereal and filmy.

Go check out the latest at a museum near you. Renoir and his cohorts are waiting for you to admire (or criticize) their works.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Movie Review Madness: JoJo Rabbit

The previews to JoJo Rabbit may look a tad bizarre, maybe even off putting. On the contrary this is a nifty little artsy film that will touch your heart.

Written, directed, and acting - Taika Waititi - has truly hit the right notes in regards to confronting nationalism. Johannes (JoJo played by Roman Griffin Davis) is ten and totally psyched to go to Hitler youth camp. He's got the uniform, the knife, and his imaginary "friend" Adolf Hitler (played by Waititi) pops in to pump him up.

Never fear, JoJo is truly a kid with a heart and soul. Stuff occurs at the camp that make him question mob mentality. Back home, different walks with his mother and things she says (Scarlett Johansson) demonstrate she's working with resistance. And after hearing strange sounds, JoJo discovers his mother's been hiding a 17 year old Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in a cupboard space in his sister's room. He's not sure what to do with this information and in talking to her he has to acknowledge to himself that she's okay - not a monster.

A lot happens in this ninety minute movie - there are some funny bits just because JoJo is so dorky, and Hitler is so ridiculous. But trust me, it's poignant, deep, and the kid is SO darn good in this film.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Book Review - Patti Smith's Year of the Monkey

Anything is possible - it's the Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith

cover blurb - February 2016, a surreal lunar year begins, bringing unexpected turns, heightened mischief, and also inescapable sorrow. For Patti Smith - inveterately curious, always exploring, always writing - this becomes a year of reckoning with the changes in life's gyre: with loss, aging, and a dramatic shift in the political landscape of America. 

As Patti Smith travels from CA to AZ to KY, her dreamlike writing and haunting Polaroids give Year of the Monkey quite a reflection on a life. She's a unique woman - funny,  wise,  odd, endearing,  and weird. There are times I wasn't sure I truly understood her message or thought process. However, this book is unique and intriguing,  as is the singer poet rebel that is Patti Smith.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Movie Review Madness: Terminator - Dark Fate

Terminator: Dark Fate was written and produced by the originator – James Cameron. He did not direct this, but all of his masterful touches are there.  Forget a bunch of the Terminator sequels and just go into this one fresh. This movie opens in Mexico when there’s a lightning disturbance and out from the sky drops Grace (Mackenzie Davis) – she’s an augmented human sent to earth to protect Dani (Natalia Reyes), a young Mexican gal, who has no idea how important she is to the future of Earth.

Forget Skynet, etc. Now it’s another force sending Terminator Version 9.0 and this is one bad dude. The initial fight sequence, chase, shootings, car chase, bulldozer incident, etc is intense and certainly kicks off  Dark Fate. Ray leaned over and whispered, “I’m exhausted.” And fortunately, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton!) is there – world weary, raspy voice barking orders, no-nonsense sense of the situation, and she’s been fighting Terminators since one killed her son. Now Dani is the mission.

This movie is kick-ass sharp and yes, he’s BACK – Arnold – is on “our” side and ready to help Sarah and Grace to save Dani.  I  won’t spoil any more of the plot.  It’s all familiar and yet has some new twists. The special effects are fabulous. The pacing of the film is non-stop. You will be exhilarated and hyped by the end of the film. Terminator: Dark Fate is meant for the big screen, so get that tub of popcorn and immerse yourself in the dark fate of the world. Enjoy!

Monday, November 11, 2019

Veteran's Day 2019

photo courtesy of my friend Linda - harbor boat tour of NYC.

Lady Liberty - beacon to all the huddled masses yearning to be free. Symbol of so much along with our U.S. flag.  Gift from France, our ally

Cheers to all the veterans who have served our nation. Men and Women who volunteer to work, fight,-here and abroad - alone on a mission or alongside our allies. All to keep America free.

my opinion - respect for our allies is very key to the safety of our military so that they can serve their tours and return home safe to be veterans.

The real and lasting victories are those of peace and not of war - Ralph Waldo Emerson 1860

Friday, November 8, 2019

Movie Review - Western Star


Bruce Springsteen's concert/cinematic musings Western Stars brings an added dimension to the thirteen songs on his new album. At 90 minutes, we see the Boss perform his new songs in his own rustic barn - complete with a symphony orchestra - in front of select friends.

Our boy from Asbury Park NJ is now an elder music statesman on a ranch in CA still singing about the common man and issues - love, loss, loneliness, family, and the passage of time. He's a troubadour for troubled souls and he's still looking in the mirror trying to fix himself too.

The film has scenes of nature,  horses, Bruce looking reflective, sunsets, sunrises, and stark  desert lands. I enjoyed the film and the insights into the songs. Some were catchy, some got a bit morose. But Bruce Springsteen is a music poet and he's captured a lot of America through the years. And by his side, wife - Patti Scialfa plays her guitar and leans in for some harmony. Old clips show them cavorting as kids and with their kids - quite a life - lean times and golden.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Book Review - The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

I am a huge fan of Colson Whitehead's writing. The Underground Railroad blew me away. Now with The Nickel Boys, I think his writing is even better.

Elwood Curtis lives in the black area in segregated Tallahassee, but the Civil Rights movement is stirring and he's in awe of Martin Luther King's words. As a high school senior about to take classes at a local college, he's ready for the world. His grandmother has kept him on the straight and narrow.

cover blurb:  But for a black boy in the Jim Crow South of the early 1960s,  one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future. 

Elwood finds himself at the Nickel Academy - its mission is to provide moral training. It's true goal - to break down the soul of "colored" delinquents.  Elwood tries to hold on to Dr.  King's words, but his friend Turner thinks that Elwood is worse than naive, that the world is crooked,  and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble. (cover)

Colson Whitehead's The Nickel Boys is based off of a real life reform school in the South, where horrors came to the forefront. You'll root for Elwood's ideals and hope for the best. Twists and turns abound, and through it all the writing is stellar, the characters rich, and you'll shed a tear for the torment of tough times in the 1960s South.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Monday Moments - Fall Filler

Happy Fall and November.  I am currently in Philly visiting my dad, so I won't be around much to comment.  Here are some random fall filler pics. We've survived Halloween, now it's onward to Thanksgiving, and

 sshh! You know who sees you when you're sleeping, knows when you're awake,  knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.

Have a good Monday and week.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Jubilee Theater - Single Black Female

A few Saturdays ago, I enjoyed an afternoon of Jubilee Theater. Single Black Female by Lisa B. Thomson, directed by Vicky Washington, and starring Cherie Williams and Naeaidria M. Callihan was excellent.

Plenty of laughs, plenty of Oh NO moments, plenty of reminders of the resilience of a strong species - upwardly mobile...highly educated...take no prisoners...loving and enjoying life...all while keeping an eye on that ticking biological clock, dodging the brothas who just know that they are "Mister Right", and seeking love in all kinds of places!  (from the director's notes in the program)

I thoroughly enjoyed the solid performances, the clever dialogue, the hysterical vignettes, and the poignant moments of friendship too. Superb play.

The Jubilee Theater is a gem in Fort Worth Texas. Their mission is communication and awareness through the arts - unite folks from all backgrounds and appreciate the beauty of the human spirit.