Friday, January 31, 2020

Friday Fun - Revolution - The Beatles

She Loves You Yeah, Yeah, Yeah
You say you want a revolution?
Baby You can Drive My Car
Let It Be
Penny Lane
Eleanor Rigby
Twist and Shout

and so much more.

The Fort Worth Symphony nailed it this past Sunday. It's not just four lads with guitars and a drum set.  The Beatles truly had some amazing orchestral songs and the symphony was on full display. Along with a band and excellent vocalists, they kept us singing along with over thirty songs from the Beatles brilliance. And as a bonus, stunning video and animation. Pictures from the Abbey Road archives gave us a flashback to those young lads from Liverpool who changed our world.

Truly - a Revolution experience.   Shout out to Linda, Tom, and Julie - we had a fun lunch and then some culture. A rave review afternoon.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Wednesday Wisdom

You don't have to reach for the stars, to be among them

Today, a good friend I've known since high school, Terri Leonard Cook, is being put to rest. She passed away Saturday morning after a long kidney battle.  She is pictured top right when the PA gals got together in 2004.

Terri was incredibly brave through two kidney transplants, tons of dialysis, and plenty of other health struggles in between.  Through it all, she enjoyed her family, grandkids, and friends. Thoughtful, kind, artistic, funny -  Terri loved Elton John music, Harry Potter, and books.

She will be missed and remembered. I'm fortunate I knew her as a friend.

Wednesday wisdom - don't take your health for granted. Be a good friend. And listen to Goodbye Yellow Brick Road....

Monday, January 27, 2020

Movie Review - Bad Boys for Life

Bad Boys, Bad Boys, whatcha gonna do....

They're back - older, wiser, and one wants to retire. Mike (Will Smith) is still a bachelor, working old school, driving fast, and not wanting things to change. Marcus (Martin Lawrence) is ready to retire, he's got a new grandson, and is tired. He's made it fairly safely through his twenty five years - he's done.

But, there's some revenge kills happening and Mike's on the list. The young crew, AMMO, a special police division, are researching cartel action, trying to piece it together. Mike and Marcus have that banter we love and they are in for this last ride together. Hope it's not to die together.

Bad Boys for Life is a mix of crazy blow 'em up, serious friendship, cop history, old school techniques versus new age technology - all against the backdrop of Miami - blue water, fast cars, bikinis, and glitz.

Ray and I enjoyed this piece of fluff. Plenty of funny lines about old age (we're talking 50s here, but in cop life that's a long time). Smith and Lawrence have great comic timing and you can tell they had fun making this film. Bad Boys for Life - hug it out.  Then change that grand baby's diaper.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Book Review - Prairie Fires by Caroline Fraser

I was extremely excited when I bought this book. I loved the Little House series written by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and I was interested in reading about her life. Well, be careful what you wish for. Caroline Fraser has gone above and beyond in her research and detailed writing of Laura Ingalls Wilder's life.

Prairie Fires is a Pulitzer Prize winning piece of non-fiction. It is beyond detailed and frankly, for me,  it got tediously boring. I think the reference notes have reference notes. This is my problem. I do not fault the author - she absolutely achieved her mission. She covered grandparents, parents, droughts, grasshopper, deaths, and more in extreme detail. Her epic tale of Wilder's life truly encompasses an amazing story of survival. It spans Indian Wars to Dust Bowl.

I guess I wanted Laura-lite. I wanted to zoom to her writing career. Truly her life of struggle, rootlessness, and poverty made Laura Ingalls Wilder the writer and achiever she was late in life. She recast her hardscrabble life into a childhood series on homesteading. I skimmed a lot in the book and it was interesting, but also a bit of a slog.

Congrats to the author for her Pulitzer and for her hard work. She truly revealed a complex Wilder life in Prairie Fires.  I admit - I just wanted to roast marshmallows for a few hours.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Wednesday Wisdom

Wherever the people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government -
 Thomas Jefferson

Check your sources folks, read a variety, trust but verify, and think...ponder....think

Monday, January 20, 2020

Monday Moments - Martin Luther King Jr.

I've used this picture before - Peace and Teach.  I think it's applicable for Martin Luther King Day - a day, a concept, a man's dream that still needs to be fulfilled.

A dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed "that all men are created equal."

Let freedom ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city. 

An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.

Much to contemplate, much to teach and learn. 

Peace on this MLK Monday - we should all have this dream

Friday, January 17, 2020

Book Review - Text When When You Get Home

Text Me When You Get Home by Kayleen Schaefer hit me with a very positive vibe. I am someone who's kept longtime friends (junior high, high school, and college. I even have a friend from grade school days). I value friends and I work at keeping friends. This book's research and reporting demonstrates the power I have - a solid foundation of friendship.

Back cover blurb - A beautiful portrait of how modern female friendship has evolved to be a positive force that is making women stronger than ever - You will find something in this book that will make you want to text your own person and tell her how much she means to you. 

I met the author's parents at a business Christmas dinner. Lovely people and you could tell how proud they are of their journalist daughter. The book idea piqued my interest and so I got it. They had reason to be proud. This is a very hands-on friendly book with plenty of examples from Schaefer's own life and friendship journey. She's in a competitive field, but learned she needed solid friendships to keep her grounded in this crazy world.

cover blurb - Text Me When You Get Home is a validation. A thoughtful heart-soaring deeply reported look at how women are taking a stand for their friendships and not letting go. 

I'll give a shout out to my valued friends - Joan, Helen, Trish, Terri, Lisa, Mary Ellen, Debbie, Linda T, Linda H, Julie, Trish V.  I am very lucky!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Wednesday Wisdom - Friends

When we’re together the energy and adoration are striking. But underneath that, there’s a subtler sense that we’re intertwined, knit together. My friends inspire me to pull myself together, to shake off whatever might be trying to rattle me that day, or to own what I’ve done well. Just being around them is often all the propping that I need.

This quote is from Text Me When You Get Home by Kayleen Schaefer   page 179 and it applies to my long time friends back in PA.  I've know some since junior high, others high school, and three from college days.

This is wisdom. Friends are the rock. 

Monday, January 13, 2020

Movie Review Madness - 1917

1917, a movie directed by Sam Mendes is absolutely superb. It’s WWI and there appears to be a retreat by the German forces in a no-man’s land in France. But no – it’s a trap, and two messengers are sent to warn a British commander to not attack. Don’t put sixteen hundred men into a sure death. The key – one of the messengers, Blake, has an older brother in a regiment there.

Just think, no cell phones, no fancy radars and instant communications. Telephone lines were cut. In one long camera move, we follow our lance corporals through mud, trenches, rats. It’s immersive and horrifying. Dean Charles Chapman is Blake. George MacKay is Schofield, his buddy. Together they are pushed to extremes – straight ahead, past the dead horses, watch for the craters. It’s foggy and mucky and tension filled. Time is of the essence and Mendes keeps the pace moving along with our heroes.

Do the lads make it in time to save their troops?  I won’t tell. You have to see it on the big screen, be under siege yourself from the elements and from fear. Abandoned places…and then shots ring out.  Mendes said, “I wanted something that had the quality of a dream at times, but had real-life stakes.” He succeeds, and so do these actors. War is hell.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Book Review - Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz fills the genre of Agatha Christie, et al.  This book is really clever with lots of twists and turns and whoa moments. I really enjoyed this read and kept turning pages. And then I went, “What?” and had to keep reading.  Forget Ray,  forget house cleaning, cooking, etc.  – I had to finish this book.  That says a lot.

Alan Conway is a bestselling crime writer. He’s been a pain in the butt for his editor, but Susan is willing to deal with his antics. He’s been a proven winner. As she reads his latest Atticus Pund mystery, she’s confident of the normal bodies, suspects, and red herrings. But…there’s another story embedded – one of ambition, greed, jealousy,  and murder at Pye Hall. Alas, pages are missing. What’s the ending?   But wait, Alan Conway is dead – suicide or murder? 

Susan Ryland’s self-investigation into her lead author’s possible murder proves intriguing – it leads into family issues, neighbor issues, too many close encounters, and dead ends. What to make of the book vs. real life?  I can’t write more. I don’t want to give away anything.

Cover blurb – Masterful, clever, and ruthlessly suspenseful, Magpie Murders is a deviously dark take on vintage crime fiction.

Trust me. You need this book. You will read and question every clue, every path, and you’ll come away amazed at the finale.  This is an excellent story.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Wednesday Wisdom for 2020

Happy 2020

Here's  a new segment I hope to make a "thing" for 2020.  Some Wednesday wisdom. A quote, a thought, something useful to make us think for the better.  (Plus, I should have written a book review, but I got lazy - Ray made really good enchiladas and I'm sleepy. I can't think and write - must go watch TV. So much for my resolution to watch less. Ha!)

So - from Gloria Steinem - The Truth Will Set You Free,  But First It Will Piss You Off!  2019

page 39

When people say to me, "What shall I tell my daughter?"  
I always say: The most important thing is to listen.  This is how she learns she has something to say. 

I am fortunate - my parents truly always listened.  They did not have solutions every time, or they just made good suggestions.  But they gave appropriate guidance.  This is valuable in this day and age when kids/girls are bombarded by almost too much information.

Listen and give focused attention to what your daughter is saying. She will value your time and energy.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Movie Review - Bombshell

Bombshell, I think, is a must see movie. Based on fact, it chronicles the downfall of Fox news titan Roger Ailes (played with lecherous perfection by John Lithgow) after multiple accusations of sexual harassment. Gretchen Carlson, former Fox and Friends co-host (Nicole Kidman) got the ball rolling with a lawsuit and then felt shunned, twisting in the wind, waiting for others to substantiate her claim. Headliner Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) grapples with her experiences, her life, her power, and what it could mean to come forward also. And finally, Margot Robbie is Kayla, a composite character. She is a compilation of many women’s stories. She’s the young foot soldier determined to make it big, to help shape America’s moral fabric. As she climbs the ladder,  she begins to question what it really takes – must she relinquish dignity, truly climb on that casting couch.

Carlson basically was the forerunner of the Me-Too movement. Her bravery got women talking (together and to the people who count, the ones who can fire a man with such hubris to think that his word and power will not be questioned). The Fox news building was abuzz with people taking sides, trash talking, starting rumors, etc. Meanwhile, Megyn Kelly was walking a fine line. Charlize Theron is uncanny in her portrayal of Kelly. She shows how victims don’t always recognize the insidiousness of sexual harassment, and that an unspoken culture of silence can help perpetuate it. (EW Jan 2020)
When Megyn Kelly made her decision to accuse Ailes, the Fox owners – the Murdochs – recognized that this was huge,  it was time for Ailes to go. This was not a situation that could just be shoved into a corner. Women were talking and demanding action and respect.

Bombshell handles the whole story in a very classy manner. This isn’t strident. The movie shows the politics of power, the actions of men and women, the culture of men and women in the workplace. The actresses are excellent at portraying the delicate matter of negotiating the workplace, of trying to be successful while keeping ones dignity. I was impressed and you’ll be transfixed by Theron, worthy of Oscar buzz. Kudos all around.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Movie Review - Little Women

Director Greta Gerwig brings Little Women to life on the big screen with a blaze of ferocious purpose, urgent passion, boisterous humor, and the nourishing essence of family life in good and bad times. (WSJ 12/24/19).  This classic is splendid and the performances are so rich. Saoirse Ronan embodies Jo March with her soul. Emma Watson is Meg, Florence Pugh is “bratty” but sympathetic Amy, and Eliza Scanlen is dear doomed Beth. Each of these actresses are superb – so much life and sisterly love and battles.

Timothee Chalamet is the neighbor lad Laurie who loves Jo, but doesn’t realize how doomed is their relationship. Jo’s energy and determination to be a writer causes her anger at being a female in this day and age (1860s). “ I can’t get over my disappointment at being a girl.”

Laura Dern’s Marmee is perfect as she says, “I’m angry nearly every day of my life.” But she leads by example in caring for her family while Mr. March is at war. Mr. Lawrence (Chris Cooper) is solid as the rich neighbor who is drawn to the female energy and glad to help in so many ways. And Meryl Streep plays Aunt March – the crusty rich aunt who expects the girls to fawn over her. Meryl is kept in check and Greta uses her wisely.

The movie moves back and forward in time. Once you get in the flow, the structure works well. It gives a good picture of the March sisters – young and putting on plays vs grown and navigating adulthood, Beth’s illness (bring tissues), an artistic writing career. Jo March is the central figure of Little Women  - she is a wonder woman for the time. Author Louisa May Alcott’s book is meaningful today and this movie is richly well done. I loved it.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year - 2020

Happy New Year  - 2020

I wish good health and peace to my fellow bloggers.

Wisdom is understanding how eternal truth can be applied to life

The growth and development of the soul is more important than power and glory - Henri Amiel

What a great treasure can be hidden in a small selected library. A company of the wisest and the most deserving people from all the civilized countries of the world, for thousands of years, can make the results of their studies and their wisdom available to us.    Ralph Waldo Emerson

Here's to happy reading in 2020.