Monday, December 30, 2019

Almost Happy New Year - Monday edition

2019 is almost over and we face we look it in the eye, face our fears, be ready to battle the jaws and teeth of destruction?

Family and motherland are but two circles that are part of the wider circle of humanity. Those who teach morality and who limit one's duties only to family and country teach a selfishness which is dangerous for all of us. 
Calendar of Wisdom - Leo Tolstoy page 377

Here's to selflessness - concern and caring for our fellow beings. Ponder our part as the year ends.

Friday, December 27, 2019

TGIF - Christmas edition

 TGIF - I'm off to work today. But here's a glimpse of some fun from last Monday night. We drove/walked through Prairie Lights wonderland.  It sure gave us the spirit.
and Christmas morning - does life get any better if you have a new pair of hot pink boots (I know my pic makes them look red).  This 2 year old was thrilled!

The season is winding down. Hope everyone is still enjoying some new treats, nibbling on sweets, and laughing with family and friends.

Cheers to the weekend!

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas to All

Assorted Christmas pics through the years.

I hope your Wednesday Christmas is merry and bright. We'll be up bright and early to trek to Kevin's house. We'll see the girls be excited over Santa surprises. Breakfast and then lunch. Family visit, laughs, and joy.  I can only hope there's peace for all.  I know that's not reality, but we have to keep working toward it.

Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand, and for a talk beside the fire; it is the time for home.     Edith Sitwell

Merry Christmas one and all in blog land. Cheers and blessings.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Movie Review Madness - Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker

Ray and I joined the hordes at the movies this weekend to see the “final” episode in the Star Wars Saga – Rise of Skywalker.  It is very entertaining, well done, and lots of special effects. I’m not a fanatic and was late to the whole party. I don’t know that I’ve seen every episode. But, I enjoy the general theme – underdogs fighting the empire. Underdogs seeking truth, justice, freedom, and  caring for humanity. What’s not to like?

Acting is good and Daisy Ridley as Rey kicks butt. Always poignant to see ghostly Mark Hamill as Luke, ghostly Harrison Ford as Han Solo, and the late Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia – still a leader, still the one all look to. Whatever footage they had of her, they blended well and it works.  Adam Driver is great as Kylo Ren/Ben  - evil force trying to get Rey to join him on the Dark Side. Will he win, will she crater? Po, Finn, et  al – can they fly and fight for victory. Creepy Emperor Paletine – how’s he still hooked to machines and pulling strings?

I won’t give away big reveals – who’s really related to whom? Say what?!!!  I think there are still questions that true fans must ponder. I need  to ask my guys at work for some clarification.  But I could roll with it all and be entertained. And frankly when the John Williams Star Wars theme music swells, I can feel the exhilaration – you just know something cool is going to happen on the big screen regarding a galaxy far, far away.  And that’s what movies should do – transform and send you to another realm for a few hours. We, in the full theater, were united and rooting for our scrappy resistance fighters.
Jedis  - light sabers ready…. And go!

Friday, December 20, 2019

What's in Your Queue? Dec 2019

What’s in Your Queue?  
I watch way too much Netflix and Amazon streaming. At this point, I can’t fathom adding even more streaming services. (I do admit Disney lurks…that darn Mouse, and Marvel, and Disney Wish Upon a Star magic – we shall see if I succumb. However, I still need to read, write, and go outside for some fresh air, for goodness sake.

But here’s a very brief listing with some comments on various shows.

The Irishman – Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci,  and every actor who’s ever appeared in mob movies, star in a Martin Scorsese saga. This movie is way, way, way too long – 3-1/2 hours. C’mon, Marty, use the edit button. I watched it over several nights – almost like a mini-series. For a person who is not keen on guns, I confess to liking mob movies. I like the language, I like the different ways of “offing” people,  and I like the scenes around the dinner tables. These guys eat well. If you liked The Godfather series, Goodfellas,  etc, then you’ll appreciate The Irishman.  This does not cover new territory and it moves a bit slow,  but I liked the acting. De Niro gives great shrugs – he says a lot with them. Al Pacino, as Jimmy Hoffa, gives good looks and can bark a great line. The special de-aging effects are amazing and Marty does know how to film a scene.

Marriage Story – Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Alan Alda, Laura Dern. Directed by Noah Baumbach who can tear out your heart with one scene. This is Kramer vs. Kramer as we watch the destruction of a marriage.  Charlie (Driver) is a rather self-involved director. Nicole is an actress settling in L.A. for a mediocre show. The two are seeing a therapist, but drifting apart. They do have a son and we see the effects of their disintegration through his actions. This movie is heart wrenching, well-acted, well done, and quite the character study. Not just a light flick for a Friday night. You have to be ready for a soul search.

Comedies – any Jim Gaffigan special, any Ilisa Schlesinger, any Sebastion Manecuso.   You will laugh.

Classic series – Friends.  I am up to season 6 and must plow through before it’s yanked from Netflix at end of year. I am reliving the hilarity. This series stands the test of time and is awesome.

Jack Ryan Season 2  - arrgghhh.  We were psyched for this after season one.  What happened? This is a mess with Venezuela. Jack and crew are slashing through the jungle. The evil German villain dude is annoying. The overall plot has holes.  And Jack keeps going off the reservation. We found this all rather predictable – no good surprises.  Disappointing.

Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – season 3.  Snappy patter, spiffy clothes, fast and frenetic in a good way. Great acting and just funny. This show is different in a good way and you can’t be slouching in your chair half asleep while watching it. Lots of wordplay, and it moves quickly. Comedy isn’t for sissies and Midge Maisel is staying on her toes…in heels. Good stuff.

That’s if for now. That should fill up your time if you are bored. Or turn off the TV and read a good book…..I’m on the Magpie Murders right now and it’s quite intriguing.  Cheers!

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Wordless Wednesday - Christmas Edition

How's that for a Wow! display?  My sister snapped this pic at Longwood Gardens and sent it to me the other night.

The season is moving along rapidly. Hope everyone is taking time out to enjoy family and friends, stroll through a garden, or just sit and stare at your own Christmas tree. Ray and I do that a lot. Go for some calm amidst the clamor. And yes, eat another cookie...

Monday, December 16, 2019

Knives Out is a jolly good whodunit. Big cast, plenty of plot curves and twists, a creepy old family manor, and just when you think you know…wait there’s more. This is a very fun flick to enjoy – a nice break from the holiday scramble.

Oliver Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) has the family gathered for his 85th birthday. Everyone has a selfish reason to be there and they are counting on inheritance money someday. Well, Oliver, a renowned mystery author, is found dead the next morning with his throat slit. Suicide? Or murder? The siblings and spouses gather – Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette, along with the nurse (Ana de Armas) to be questioned by police and a hired (by whom?) private investigator, Blanc (played with great fun by Daniel Craig sporting a southern accent).

Who argued with whom? Who stormed out? Who’s been double dipping? Who manages the publishing company and wants to expand to movies and tv? Who’s self-made but still seeks daddy’s approval? Oh the knives are out everywhere, along with footprints in the mud, dogs barking in the middle of the night, and Oliver’s mother (yes, she must be over 100) who seems to always be at the right window at the right time. What did she see?

Daniel Craig is a hoot pondering the clues, questioning the red herrings, and keeping this self-absorbed selfish family (all well-acted and great to see in combinations) on its toes. Knives Out is quite clever, very entertaining, and might make you appreciate your own family, however modest your gatherings, even more. I can tell you it was not Mr. Mustard in the library with the candlestick. Enjoy!

Friday, December 13, 2019

Book Review - We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter is quite a family saga based on a true story. Full of hope, luck, destruction, love, and perseverance – this book features three generations of the Kurc family. 1939 Poland, in the hometown of Radom, dark clouds are circling Jewish families.  Cover blurb: Soon the horrors overtaking Europe will become inescapable, and the Kurcs will be flung to the far corners of the world, each desperately trying to navigate his or her own path to safety.

The sweep and scope of the book take you to Paris jazz clubs and the Siberian gulag, along with South America.  As you read this book you’ll hold your breath for this family – Sol and Nechuma, Genek, Mila with baby Felicia, Addy, Jacob and Bella, along with Halina and Adam. As you read one story line, you will be eager to turn pages to read about someone else and then meanwhile, you are concerned for another couple.  Communications break down and each person worries for the safety of their kin. Fortunately, their strong faith and love truly binds them and no matter the lack of food,  the evil they face, and the depth of despair they face,  their goal is to reunite.

Georgia Hunter writes a compelling story and weaves the plotlines well. We are the lucky ones to get to meet the Kurc family and root for their survival. We Were the Lucky Ones is rooted in truth, and that makes it an even better read.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Wordless Wednesday - Christmas Edition

It's not just the front yard folks. The back is the best - it's for us to see and enjoy.

The icicle lights are a new edition - they flash, change colors - fabulous!

Oh yeah, it's Christmas season in Bedford TX

Thanks Ray!

Monday, December 9, 2019

Theater - Dear Evan Hansen

Black Friday - I spent the afternoon at the theater in Dallas - Fair Park Music Hall. The Dallas Musicals presented the touring production of the Tony Award winning Dear Evan Hansen, and it was a treat.

A lonely teenager lies and ups his celebrity quotient in school as the unknown before "best" friend of the kid (Connor Murphy) who committed suicide. But it was his (Evan's) letter, his own cry for help to himself, that the parents think was Connor's last words. In truth, Connor bullied Evan. Evan adored Connor's sister Zoe from afar.

Evan's single mom works a lot and goes to school, and, while she cares deeply, just isn't around much. Connor's folks grab hold of Evan as a conduit to their son's life. Evan hangs on to them as a lifeline of how a family "should" be.

This is a serious, angsty subject dealt with in current form - social media slides on the screen, a spare stage, and melodic tunes with strong lyrics - "When you're falling in a forest and there's nobody around, do you ever really crash, or even make a sound?" The pressure for kids these days is apparent in this very current musical.

 I was extremely impressed by the matinee understudy, San Primack. His voice was clear as a bell. Everyone was quite good and Dear Evan Hansen will stick with you.

Friday, December 6, 2019

December Movie Review Madness - Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

“We can all use a little kindness”.  This is the lead on the movie poster for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and it’s very appropriate for our world today.  Last year’s documentary on Fred Rogers was superb and truly gave us a lot of insight into the man who created Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. What more needs  to be said? This new movie is based on a true story and is an added bonus salute to the man, the myth, the down to earth hero.

We actually see more of Lloyd (played by a very sincere troubled Matthew Rhys). He’s a journalist who’s known for unearthing the dirt, the real scoop on folks who seem too good to be true. He’s assigned a small (400 word) Esquire Magazine puff piece on Fred Rogers. Lloyd has anger issues from his past and he’s currently a new father, on a new path with his wife (the very intensely good Susan Kelechi Watson). He’s loaded for bear, ready to find the chinks in the Mr. Rogers armor. Instead he’s disarmed by this sweet sincere man (played by our American acting saint Tom Hanks) who seems genuinely interested to know Lloyd. He can’t believe what he’s experiencing. It’s as if he’s on the interview block. Fred Rogers manages to get under his skin, make him question himself, make him face himself.

Mr. Fred Rogers,  as embodied by Tom Hanks is the real deal. He’s no saint. He’s a man. But he’s someone in the moment. He’s someone who genuinely likes people, is interested, and takes the time to truly listen, to truly think, and to truly care – for young and old alike. As we learned from the documentary and we see in this portrayal – he respected children and knew kids deal with very grownup type issues, but in their own way. He guides. He’s there. He pulls you in and you are his neighbor and friend – a word he does not take lightly.

Bring tissues. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is sniffle worthy in a good way. We do need some kindness these days. This is a good family movie for our holiday season.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Wordless Wednesday - Christmas Countdown Edition

My hubby elf, Ray, was home this Thanksgiving weekend (not deer hunting. Bambi, you're welcome)

He used almost every extension cord he owns to throw down the neighborhood gauntlet.

Tis the season in Bedford,  TX.

Monday, December 2, 2019

December Movie Review Madness - Ford v Ferrari

Strap in. Put your helmet on and gird your loins. Ford v Ferrari is an A-rated movie with a  lot of zoom.

Henry Ford II (the incomparable Tracy Letts) has been insulted by Enzo Ferrari and he’s opened his check book. He wants a Ford race car to win the Le Mans 24 hour race. Who’s the man to do this? Carroll Shelby (perfect performance by a spot on Matt Damon) is a racing genius. He won the Le Mans. He designs cars. He has a vision. Who can drive a winning car? Shelby vouches for the “difficult” Limey  -Ken Miles (another genius role done by Christian Bale). Miles breathes the air of racing. He can sense one tic, one engine miss, one esoteric nuance that embodies a vehicle.

But within Ford you have the suits and Josh Lucas plays the biggest jerk of all. He wants the marketing power,  he wants the limelight. Shelby says this can’t be done by committee and he takes Henry Ford II for the ride of his life. The man is crying and gives carte blanche. Miles wins races and proves he’s worthy of being on the team. Shelby keeps him reigned in just enough.  The movie keeps us on edge with lots of oomph as we enter Le Mans.

Ford v Ferrari is really good and you don’t have to know or care about racing. It’s about art vs. commerce, devotion vs. cynicism, inspiration vs. deadness, and it involves some crazy. Men who can’t help but be outside the box with a passion. And wow – the acting chemistry works. The cinematography works. Your heart will accelerate as Miles shifts through some nutso driving. And you’ll root for Ford Motor Company (America!) to win the darn race.

It’s holiday movie season and this one is a winner. Zoom Zoom