Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Wacky Wednesday Book Review - Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore

 This is the perfect book for a wacky Wednesday.  Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore is one of the cleverest books I've read in a while. It is a very fun read and with each chapter you are surprised. I could only imagine the author's wall filled with a timeline and post it notes, only to be rearranged constantly. 

cover blurb It's New Year's Eve 1982 and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight she will turn nineteen, and the year ahead promises to be one of consequence. Should she go to London to study economics or remain at home in Brooklyn to pursue her passion for music and be with her boyfriend? As the countdown begins, Oona faints and awakens thirty-two years in the future in her fifty-one year old body.

Thus begins  your adventure as a reader. It's fun to watch Oona figure out what's doing on. She has to navigate life as a stranger to her life. Fortunately, her mother is a solid fixture and is aware of Oona's time travel dilemma. There's also a fellow named Kenzi who appears in years as an aid (or more to his story).  Thanks to very wise investing (it helps as you move in time to know to bet big on Apple stock), Oona is very rich and does have a home base. 

P.318 Kenzi to Oona  "When you go from year to year randomly, I bet you see things differently. Notice more. Appreciate more."      Indeed, this book does make you think about your own life. 

Oona Out of Order is inventive, clever, and really entertaining. A good summer read. 

Monday, June 28, 2021

Monday Movie Mania - F9- The Fast Saga

 Monday Movie Mania - F9: The Fast Saga continues the absolutely ridiculous car stunt/ travel/ save the world franchise that evolved from The Fast and the Furious initial movie. I've been along for every hour, every mile, and I've been entertained. I left Ray at the curb on these a while ago. He couldn't stand the inanity. He had too many, "but that couldn't happen...statements." I could just ignore the stupidity, or I didn't know any better. 

It's nutso. It's insane. The plot lines are crazy. Each one of the nine movies ups the ante. So what? It's summer brain candy.  I'm not even going to attempt to explain the story. We get some history, we get current "must save humanity", and we get a nostalgia nod to Paul Walker (RIP).  

Hey - I love Vin Diesel's voice - that growl. Michelle Rodriguez is badass. Tyrese, Ludacris, et al - just a fun cast. John Cena is Vin's brother...sure.... Cameo by Helen Mirren - priceless. Charlize Theron is back as Cipher  (love her). 

Saw it at a Saturday matinee on the big screen - the only way to go for pure summer movie mania. 

F9....get in gear and zoom. 

Friday, June 25, 2021

Finally Friday - Amy Tan

 Finally Friday. Let's fill it with Amy Tan.  There is currently a documentary on Netflix about her - very well done and it prompted me to buy this memoir Where the Past Begins - Memory and Imagination. 

Ever since she burst on to the literary scene with Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan has been a favorite author of mine. Her writing, characters, and stories are rich. She blends the past with the present to create memorable books. And she's taken me to places I've never been. 

With this memoir, you learn more about her life and upbringing. It was not easy. Her mother's story is quite shocking - abusive marriage, fleeing China, Amy's father's (2nd husband) death from a brain tumor and her eldest son's death from a brain tumor, leaving America briefly to travel and mourn, and mental illness through the years. 

Meanwhile, Amy has her issues from her father and brother's deaths. That's a lot to deal with and she uses writing as an escape, a tool, and a career - she was meant to be a writer!

p.186  Darkness is no longer the word I would use for despair, not since going into that cave. I now think the metaphor of pitch-blackness is a good one for starting afresh, for thinking before writing. In darkness, the old forms and assumptions vanish.  Time is suspended. Noise is blocked. In darkness, I have only imagination. 

Food for thought from this memoir (that I did buy):  p. 327  Books are no longer being bought. People are scrimping on their minds. They are starving. 

Happy Friday. Don't scrimp.  Feed your face ( cream!), feed your brain - anything by Amy Tan. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Wednesday Wow - Rita Moreno Documentary

Rita Moreno - Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It is a fascinating, energetic documentary of a woman who's been a trailblazer in film, television, stage, and music. She's now eighty-nine (87 in this film), and she's a firecracker.  She's won the EGOT - Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. 

Stand and applaud just for that. 

She's had to work harder than many to break barriers and get past limited roles as the "immigrant", the "native girl", "girl with the accent", etc. Beautiful, exotic, dancer background, singer, she kicked butt as Anita in the original West Side Story.  Yes, proud of her Puerto Rican heritage, but "I like to live in America..." sung with passion and grit told her story. 

So many roles (the nun in OZ on HBO, on The Electric Company with Morgan Freeman, singing with Muppets on Sesame Street, and more in each decade) and still worked in the reworked One Day At a Time on Netflix, Rita Moreno is also an activist and she speaks her mind. She ain't shy. 

She had a long time affair with Marlon Brando. She had a long (but difficult) marriage that produced a daughter she's very close to and has done song and dance with back in the day. The daughter, in this documentary, still works with her mother and they are quite a team. 

This is a jampacked documentary and you'll come out of it feeling the energy and also shaking your head with admiration for Rita Moreno - the Girl Who Decided to Go for It. 

Monday, June 21, 2021

Monday Joy For Beginners - a book review

 Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister is a quiet pleasant read. Kate has a second chance on life after surviving cancer. In this book she reflects  on the friends she has gathered and the joy of truly living in the moment. Her friends united to help her through the dark days. What they didn't know was how much she was thinking of them.

At a celebration dinner, she tasked each with a fresh joy - something they wouldn't think to do themselves, but from her observations is necessary. Each woman - Robin (her daughter), Caroline, Marion, Ava, Daria, Sara, and Hadley - questions this opportunity, but in each of their chapters, we journey with them to a satisfying conclusion. 

Robin signs her and her mother up for a white water paddle trip in the Grand Canyon. Caroline needs to clear the bookshelves of her exes books. Daria must learn to bake bread. Sara (mother of twins) has to travel overseas on her own. Marion gets a tattoo. Hadley has allowed her cottage to be swallowed by overgrowth - she must clean out her greenery - and thus emerge from her hiding. Ava had to fund raise and do the sixty mile breast cancer walk with Kate.  

Joy For Beginners sheds a light on stepping out of the box and finding new joys, discovering oneself, and testing boundaries. This is not a preachy book and the characters are fully formed. These are women who celebrate their friendship and grow stronger from their center, Kate. 

Friday, June 18, 2021

Friday - Exciting Book Launch for Small Forgotten Moments by Annalisa Crawford

"A spellbinding, intoxicating journey into the dark heart of obsession."

Small Forgotten Moments, available for pre-order from Amazon. Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, and more!

I am very pleased to be a part of Annalisa Crawford's book launch for Small Forgotten Moments. 

She's been a blog friend forever, and I've appreciated her writing, storytelling, and ability to create memorable characters. She'll draw you in, surprise you, and  leave you wanting more. Hauntingly lovely writing highlights Annalisa's creativity. 

This new book touches down in August. Are you ready?

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Wednesday Interlude

Tough to see this wall of shimmering metal pieces.  It was really cool in person - trust me
Nature creates its own sculptures
Can you canoe?
A folly

 Just another stunning piece of Chihuly glasswork

Hope you've enjoyed these moments of Wednesday Zen courtesy of the Crystal Bridges Art Museum

Monday, June 14, 2021

Movie Magic is Back - In the Heights on the big screen

 Yes - Saturday I went to the movies. Wasn't crowded and they are still spacing seats.  But, when the lights go down and that movie begins, I am transported to another world. 

This time it's Washington Heights, NYC.  In the Heights, from a Tony winning Broadway musical, is a superb translations on to the movie screen. Written by Lin Manuel Miranda (before Hamilton), In the Heights brings a Latino community to life. We get the story of hard working immigrants - the bodega, the taxi company, the nail salon - all brimming with vitality. They are a community that works hard together, eats well together, and looks out for each other. Each character's story is full of energy and soul. 

The key is Usnavi (the very talented Anthony Ramos). He's our soul. 

I loved this movie. The music, singing, dancing, production, acting, scenery, and energy - it's a musical that soars. You will leave the theater uplifted and feeling positive. 

Movie magic is BACK!

Friday, June 11, 2021

Friday Frivolity - Confession Time

 I confess

I watch way too much television in the evening after dinner. Ray retires to his big screen for sports or build-a-car shows. I head into our bedroom and grab the remote. Hmmm. What mood strikes me?

I don't binge  - I tend to watch an episode here, another there, until I ultimately do finish a series. 


    Mare of Eastown - Kate Winslet nails a Philly accent as a detective in a very working class town. Lots going on here. A girl is dead and there are a lot of players with motives. This is an intense show but really well done and I enjoyed the local scenery (row homes, pizza, dirty grungy snow)

    In Treatment - Uzo Adubo is the new psychiatrist in a series that had starred Gabriel Bryne. Now it's pandemic time and she's healing by Zoom. Interesting episodes so far. If you are in the mood for angst, this is the one. 

Friends Reunion - OMG - this two hour special was entertaining and a nice mix of nostalgia. Lots of flashback clips and then the gang just laughing and talking about their time together. The ladies look good. Joey looks like he's eaten all the pizza, but not gotten in any workouts. Sadly, Chandler looks bad - rehab issues unfortunately. I enjoyed the writer/producers discussing the casting process and it's fun to see how young this crew was back in the day. Friends stands the test of time from that era. 

Netflix - 

    Halston - high flying super fashion designer once on top of the world, then sold his name, and it all crashed into a sad man on drugs with HIV. Ewan McGregor is really good and pulls off the flair and flamboyance of genius. This is pop entertainment and I was amused. 

    The Upshaws - I love Wanda Sykes (Aunt Lucretia and also a writer/producer). This is very sitcom funny and if you want light and silly, this will amuse you for twenty minute episodes. Kim Fields is great and Mike Epps is the man with way too many kids from too many baby mamas who's trying to keep his s#*t clean. 

    The Komisky Method - Michael Douglas is Sandy Komisky/head of an acting school. His best friend Norman (Alan Arkin -deadpan funny) has passed and now we are mourning him, dealing with his spoiled kids circling for money, and facing his daughters wedding to an "old guy" (Paul Reiser - funny). Kathleen Turner is Komisky's ex-wife and she and Douglas have a grand time on the screen. This is old fart amusing and I was entertained 

Disney - 

    The Mighty Ducks - Ray and I watched this together and got a kick out of the misfit hockey team back on the ice. Emilio Estevez is solid, and Lauren Graham does her fast talking schtick. The kids are all good and it's a root for the underdogs story. 

    Big Shots - John Stamos, once a hot shot college coach, is now back coaching girls high school basketball in CA.  Of course the girls don't accept him at first, but he knows his stuff and soon is building a winning team. Again, underdog  story - Disney pulls it off. 

Apple +

    The Morning Show - I am seriously enjoying Jennifer Anniston/Reese Witherspoon in this morning news show story.  It's a Me Too backdrop, new power struggles, and the heightened stress of aging on screen. Excellent cast includes Billy Crudup - always nice to see those dimples.     

And that's how I'm killing time most evenings.  I confess. Now,  do you have suggestions on other crap I should watch?  What have I missed?

(And keep in mind, it's been raining way too much in TX, so I'm not outside as much as I normally would be in May/June)  Yeah - that's a good excuse....are you buying it?

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Book Review - Light on Snow by Anita Shreve

 Anita Shreve is a reliable author and Light On Snow  (2004) is a worthy read. This came from a batch of books I bought on a super sale at our local library fundraiser. Definitely kept me engrossed for my dollar investment. 

cover blurb - What makes a family?

Nicky Dillon and her dad moved from New York City after the death of her mother and baby sister. Devastated, Rob Dillon drove until he landed in New Hampshire and found a house a bit out of the way. He's crafting furniture and avoiding life. Nicky, at age twelve, is sad, mad, and curious about growing up. 

During one of their daily walks in the snow, they hear a crying sound and then find an abandoned baby. They rush her to the hospital, chat with police, and Nicky is full of a lot of questions.   When a visitor shows up at their door (after news reports, etc), Nicky latches on this young woman and slowly tries to figure out how she could live with them, get the baby back, and be a "family". 

Life doesn't quite work this way. Shreve deftly weaves a tragedy story, a mystery story, and a life story into one New Hampshire winter week. 

Monday, June 7, 2021

Monday Moments - book review - Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan

 Been a while since I browsed library shelves, but I was in the mood. A new J. Courtney Sullivan book always bodes well - she's very good at the family saga. Friends and Strangers did not disappoint. 

Elisabeth, journalist and new mother, is adjusting to small time life after twenty years in New York City. Her husband, Andrew, is busy and doesn't understand how she's adrift. Determined to continue writing, Elisabeth hires Sam, a local college student who is also struggling in choices. Her academic path is threatened by her long distance love - Colin - and life in the UK. 

Elisabeth and Sam become close and in sharing secrets, their lives become too entwined. 

Cover blurb - but when Sam finds an unlikely kindred spirit in Elisabeth's father-in-law, the true difference between the women's lives are starkly revealed, and a betrayal has devastating consequences. 

J. Courtney Sullivan writes well about money, class, and ambition. Friends and Strangers embraces you and also offers you the contrasts of upbringings, city versus country, and age versus youth. Sometimes, you have to step back and let others lead their lives despite the pitfalls you can see. Then are not perfect yourself.  But it is fun to stick your nose in a book and offer opinions. This is a good spring patio read. 

Have a good week

Friday, June 4, 2021

Friday Fun Read - Where I Come From by Rick Bragg

 Finally Friday and you need a frothy, light read. Where I Come From (Stories from the Deep South) by Rick Bragg is a hoot. I've reviewed some of his work before, and I laughed my way through this whole collection. 

As a damn Yankee gal from PA, I've been in Texas (the south) long enough to appreciate his terminology.  

Cover blurb - From his love of Tupperware to the decline of country music, from the legacy of Harper Lee to the metamorphosis of the pickup truck, as well as the best way to kill fire ants, the unbridled excess of Fat Tuesday, and why any self-respecting Southern man worth his salt should carry a good knife (that's Ray - plenty to choose from in our house), Rick Bragg's stories crackle with tenderness, wit, and deep affection. 

These are short essays full of humor and descriptions of great food. After his short dissertation on New Orleans, I was ready to climb in my car and seek out his po-boys, Creole sauces, and gumbo.  

It's Friday - fry up something, pour a lot of white gravy on top of it, savor the drippings, and kick back with Where I Come From. Read with an honorary drawl and sip sweet tea.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Hanging Around Interval

 One glimpse of blue sky and some sun on Saturday. Out and about, we were inspired to get this new hanging basket. I even took a quick dip in the pool - a brisk 74. 

Otherwise Memorial Weekend was low key and that's okay. 

Friends were supposed to come over on Monday, but we agreed that, with flash floods predicted all day, it was better to postpone. It did rain, and rain, and rain some more. 

Hanging out, hanging's now June.... and I see a summer theme....just hanging