Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Wacky Wednesday - Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel


 The Sea of Tranquility  by Emily St. John Mandel is anything but calm. 

I reviewed her book The Glass Hotel and there are some carry over characters in this new book.  The author amazes me with her very forward thinking, her twists and turns, and her writing style. 

Edwin St. Andrew is banished from his English home and sent to Canada in 1912. 

Two hundred years later, a famous writer, Olive Llewellyn is on a book tour all over Earth. She's from one of the moon colonies. 

Gaspery Roberts is a hotel detective turned time  traveler with the Institute. 

All three have something in common - the sound of a violin echoing in an airship  terminal.  

cover blurb  This is a book of art, time, love, and plague -  a virtuoso performance of time travel and metaphysics that precisely captures the reality of our current moment. 

I was intrigued and  also confused at times. At the end, I nodded and had to go hmmm?  !!

Monday, September 26, 2022

Monday Moments - a visit to Venice via Art


 Venetian gondolas by Arthur Carter is one of the paintings featured in an Amon Carter Museum exhibit that closed a week ago.  Glassmaking in Murano, lacemaking in Burano, and the beauty of Venice itself - all were featured topics for American artists abroad in the late 1800s.  It's a fascinating look into a time of grandeur and artistry. 

John Singer Sargent had several good prolific years in Venice. Along with James McNeill Whistler, they were the hits of the salons. 

Friday, September 23, 2022

Finally Friday - Pajama Day?

 I was thinking that this week after the two week celebration of the Queen's life, that everyone involved must have exhaled and said, "It's pajama day."  

I'm sure King Charles, et al were tired of all the pomp and circumstance and fancy shoes, hats, and ribbons.  

They are human - King Charles,  his Camilla, Prince William and Kate, etc. 

Surely a day behind doors where you sleep late, declare any meal at any time - bacon!, ice cream, comfort foods and a binge of something ridiculous on Netflix. 

Now, I also know that, alas, true duty in the name of the Crown is mandatory.  And these poor souls have to dress up once again, force a smile  or two, sign some papers, and keep calm and carry on. 

But the thought of pajama day must linger...freedom from public scrutiny and tabloids.  Rainbows and unicorns...and bacon

Cheers to all. I hope this made you think of your own fabulous mundane life and to be grateful. I often  do say I am glad  to be boring.  So, enjoy your weekend.  Still hot in TX and I shall plunge in the pool, then get  out and read.  It's a good life, despite  the wackiness of the world.  Have a good one!





Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Wacky Wednesday Whatever

Let's just take a wacky pause with some memes.   Oh yeah - the ladies rock!
Friends!
I've been known to ignore some vacuuming in lieu of a good read
Yes,  I worry about America

 Can't go wrong with a Maya quote.  And just hear her voice, that distinctive voice, deliver these words with deliberation. 

Amen

Monday, September 19, 2022

Monday Musical - Ain't Too Proud to Beg

Treated myself to a musical last Sunday and it was a good one.   Ain't Too Proud to Beg tells the story of The Temptations. Lots of drama with  a ton  of dancing and that amazing Motown sound. 
The show was developed from the last surviving Temptation - Otis Williams' memoir. How he left the South, hit the streets of Detroit, formed a group, combined later with another  group, and put together the unique sound of The Temptations is all played out in quite a saga. Add the power of Berry Gordy and his Motown machine, plus the song writing talent of Smokey Robinson, and you had hit after hit. 

Ain't Too Proud to Beg, Ball of Confusion, Just My Imagination, Papa Was a Rollin' Stone, Cloud Nine, I Wish It  Would Rain, and so so many more...

The singer/actors in this production were stupendous. The original Temptations - Eddie Kendricks, Melvin Franklin, Otis Williams, Paul Williams, and David Ruffin - were buddies, brothers in soul, but ultimately fame, drugs, alcohol, wore some members down and the group splintered. 

This musical gives us the happy with the sad in the searing lyrics and soulful  renditions of songs. I came away applauding, humming, and tapping my feet. Excellent  Broadway touring production. 
 

Friday, September 16, 2022

Friday - Don't Put Baby in the Corner

First - not in the corner was Shania  Twain (age 57) in her Las Vegas residency at Planet Hollywood.  I was very excited to get tickets. Her current documentary on Netflix was really interesting. 
We had nosebleed seats but the woman can sing! Ten outfit changes,  six  excellent backup dancers, a  talented band, and Shania  herself - she belted out her tunes, she  talked, laughed, and  really gave a  sincere performance. The video effects and  staging were top notch.  Man, I Feel Like a  Woman - finale song - and She IS All  that. 


 Out of the Corner by Jennifer Grey is quite  the memoir. A bit eye-opening and jaw dropping at times. 

She begins with the NOSE. She always liked her quirky, different look BUT in Hollywood, it can be a tough sell. Jennifer Grey grew up in the world of Broadway and Hollywood. Her father's Joel Grey (Cabaret) and her mother was Jo Wilder. Jennifer finally succumbed to cosmetic surgery and it changed her looks completely, and her life. 

Read about her Dirty Dancing drama. Enjoy Ferris Bueller adventures. She was young and she was rather wild in the 1970s club scene. She was engaged to Matthew Broderick,  and  then to Johnny Depp. Her tales of loves and losses made me do a double-take. 

cover blurb - Distinctive, moving,  and powerful, told with generosity and pluck, Out of the Corner is a heartfelt and provocative account of an ongoing personal evolution, a coming  of age story for women of every age.  Jennifer Grey - oh my!!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Book Review - Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger


 1961 Minnesota. Frank is thirteen with a tagalong younger brother, Jake. Older sister, Ariel, dates the rich kid, Karl Brandt, and she's ready to leave for Julliard. In this small town, life is good for the preacher kids until it's not. 

One death - a young boy dies on the train tracks.  2nd death - a homeless man near the river and train trestles. Frank finds him and is drawn into the  mystery. 3rd death -  strikes too close to home and affects the whole town. 

Meanwhile, Frank is dancing between being a kid and growing up. He's observing his father's calm ways. He  sees his mother's restlessness. And where does Ariel sneak off to in the middle of the night? 

William Kent Krueger's Ordinary Grace is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God. (cover blurb)

I found this book  to be a calm folksy read with strong  characters that I cared about. 


Meanwhile,  the opposite of calm is Las Vegas.   We had a helicopter flight over  the Strip and that was a Wow. Only ten minutes, but the glow of the lights  is extraordinary.  Then  after landing, we went to  the Neon  Museum. It's the graveyard for old neon/ argon signs.   Here's an old Aladdin  Lamp. 



Walking through this outdoor museum and hearing  the  history was fascinating. Quite the works of handmade art!

Monday, September 12, 2022

Monday Moments - Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II RIP

 Strictly a post of respect

Her Majesty,  Queen Elizabeth II, passed at age 96. 

wow 

A woman who, as a girl, took a vow  to serve her  country and she kept that vow through  fifteen Prime Ministers, a multitude of US Presidents, wars, peace, a pandemic, and seventy years as queen. 

I absolutely admire, respect,  and am in awe of her life. 

Yes, she had her moments of fails - the handling of Princess Diana proved challenging. 

Nonetheless, she was human. She loved her Prince Phillip. She loved her children despite issues. 

She was a grandmother and great grandmother, loved her Corgis. 

She exuded graciousness, class, and obvious intellect and humor.. 

My father (age 91) said his late sister, my Aunt Janice, had a pen  pal from Canada back when she was  around twelve. Apparently the girl sent my aunt some souvenirs of Princess (at the time) Elizabeth. How cool is that?

All in all, I just wanted to post about her.  In her late years, she SO reminded me of my own grandmother - the white hair, sturdy shoes, and always a broach. 

Class act!  Will the world keep spinning without Queen Elizabeth II?

  I was counting on her to carry on and keep calm.  What shall we do?



Friday, September 9, 2022

Clinton Presidential Library

Back in June, I drove  from TX to PA with some pit stops along the way. The Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, AR proved to be an interesting afternoon. This is a very modern building with a lot of video screens and interactive material.  It's set up with The Early Years, Life in the White House, Oval Office, Cabinet Room, Campaign Trails, and more. There's also a twelve minute overview film. 

On the exterior grounds, there were a variety of globe designs

As you can see from these two postcards, it's a dramatic building and setting overlooking the Arkansas River. 

 Here's a pic I took as I walked in.  Time flies, and it's funny how much of the presidency and those years 1992 - 2000 I forgot. Good times, bad times, the ebb and flow of America. Programs that worked, those that failed, and in looking at exhibits I could reflect on where we are today. 

Staying in tune with history is important, and visiting Presidential Libraries are a way to anchor some time periods. Excellent pit stop and Little Rock, AR is a bustling  little city. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Wacky Wednesday - The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield


 Vida Winter is a famous author with a missing tale. Now at her deathbed, she chooses a young woman, Margaret Lea, to come hear her life story and perhaps fill in the missing gaps. 

cover blurb - Margaret is mesmerized by this tale of gothic strangeness, of a remote estate, feral children, a governess, a ghost, and a devastating fire. 

You will be drawn into Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale and will not sleep until the final page. 

This book keeps you guessing, makes you wonder, and in the end, deposits you breathless yet satisfied back upon the shore of your everyday world. 


Meanwhile, let's enjoy our visit to Las Vegas. The Flamingo is a classic and the old girl looked  pretty good. 
However, their check-in was an absolute cluster. It took two times in  their line for a total of 45 minutes  each to finally get in  our room. Here, Ray is NOT  happy. We did go eat,  rolling our bag behind us. 
We felt a bit "Flocked"

But our room was worth it - quite a view..... We settled in and enjoyed  our rest of Thurs/ Friday/ and  Saturday. 

Travel is a challenge these days.  Our flight was delayed a bit (one hour) due to maintenance  issue. Flight back had to wait on  flight  crew.   Big sigh. 

Monday, September 5, 2022

Happy Labor Day Monday

Labor?  What's that?   Am I obnoxious about being retired?  Heck yea!   It's nice to do what I want, when  I want, or just be lazy.  It's great to be able to travel east for a month and hang with my sister at Rehoboth Beach.
Or have lunch with friends in Redbank, NJ after visiting a cool art gallery
This meme can apply at times
Or I can take dad to a very cool car museum.  We had a good summer visit with plenty of laughs. It was nice  to not have  to worry about work or using up vacation time. 

 And there's the pickleball passion.  Fun game. I took lessons in the spring  at the local college. Now I have a whole new  batch of friends and we play up to three times a week.  Ray's brand new knee works well and he's joined the gang. We do mix up pairings, so I don't think Ray and I need counseling...yet. Actually, we play pretty well together. 

And retirement is fun - eat meals when we want, hit a spur of the moment movie, just float in the pool, and sit on the patio and read. Or kick back in a chair and nap  ( I  mean meditate)

Happy Labor Day for those still working. Thank you for your time and efforts. Save those pennies...it's worth it. 

Friday, September 2, 2022

Freaky Friday Book Review - The Candy House by Jennifer Egan


 The Candy House by Jennifer Egan is weirdly good, and yet  I don't know if I can explain it  in a review. 

Bix Bouton is  a  tech god who comes up with a deal to externalize your memories. "Own Your  Unconscious" allows you to access every memory you've ever had and to share with others. Think about the consequences of  this. It's mind boggling.  

cover blurb - The Candy House  is a  testament to the tenacity and transcendence of human longing for real connection, love, family, privacy, and  redemption.  There are  "counters" who track and exploit desires and there are "eluders", those who understand the price of taking  a bite of the Candy  House.

Jennifer Egan is certainly creative and this book challenges the reader. Far from sweet, her writing explores technology and culture. 


Meanwhile last week, Ray and I went  to Vegas. One  of our stops was  the Mob  Museum. Yes,  three floors of an old courthouse are dedicated to the Mafia.  Really interesting history and exhibits - including  a wall from the St. Valentine's  Massacre in Chicago. 

 I think John Gotti's statement applies  to our tech world that records everything these days. 

It's funny that Prohibition  kicked Mob  activity into high gear. Big business, baby!

Have a good weekend everyone

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Happy Anniversary Ray


33 years ago, we said "I do" in front of a Justice of the Peace. And the next day we had a big party - margarita machine and two cakes (one chocolate groom's cake and one lemon wedding  cake)
Ray may try to hide from me once  in awhile, but he always comes back.   "No dear, you don't need to bring the dead deer with you, " I say. 

 33 years later, we are hanging out and having fun.  It's a good gig - this marriage thing. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Dreamgirls

Treated myself to a Sunday matinee musical at Bass Hall.  The Jubilee Theater presented Dreamgirls, and it was fabulous. 

 I had great seats in the orchestra parterre level. 

Dreamgirls was a hit on Broadway and in the movies (starred Jennifer Hudson, Jamie Foxx, etc).  It's a tale of music dreams, girl groups, greedy managers, friendship, love, lust, and power. Good songs, dancing,  and amazing voices made this a wonderful  afternoon. 

The signature song, "I'm Not Going, "  sung by Effie (Contessah Irene Davis) is a show-stopper. The woman can SING and this one hit deep in the soul. 

I was glad that Bass Hall was filled to the brim. Folks could witness the talented Jubilee ensemble in a larger lovely setting. The final curtain drew everyone to  their feet.  Fabulous afternoon. 

Monday, August 29, 2022

The Sixth Man by David Baldacci


 You can always count on David Baldacci to keep the pages turning. Sure enough, The Sixth Man, does not disappoint. 

cover blurb - Sean King and Michelle Maxwell return in their most shocking case: a high stakes struggle where the relentless needs of national security run up against the absolute limits of the human mind. 

Edgar Roy is held as a serial killer in a Federal Supermax facility. His mind  is  no match for machines - perfect memory and  the ability to pull all data into his brain and process it for solutions. He's the answer to high stakes security issues. But is there a higher force at work to derail him?  What about his mysterious sister who did work for deep pockets of government surveillance?  

Hang in for a crazy ride as Sean and Michelle dig deeper to solve and  save the government. Whoa!


and on the topic in the news with Texas libraries all in a tizzy...I like this meme.  Freedom to read. 

Now I do  think it's up to parents to monitor their OWN kids and know what they are choosing  and reading. Age appropriate is a consideration.  Frankly the choices could give a lot  of insight into their child and what that  child is seeking. However,  do not blindly start banning books you have not  read, but have a predisposed idea on the subject matter. 

Big sigh on so many levels of this issue.   Freedom to read. Freedom to not...but don't ruin it for the rest of  us.  Same with movies,  television, theater. If you don't like it, don't participate. But don't keep me from delving deeper. 

Friday, August 26, 2022

Backyard Find - Top O Hill Terrace Tour

Last week Ray, Tom and Linda, Julie, and I visited our own backyard (Arlington TX) for the Top O' Hill  Terrace Tour - touted as Vegas Before Vegas.  What a hoot.  The brochure says Sermons and Hymns now ring across the terraced hills which once hummed with  the playing of slot machines and roulette wheels. 
On the grounds of the current Arlington Baptist College, glamorous celebrities enjoyed gambling, music, liquor, and more (think ladies of the night) in the 1930s and 40s.  The tea room founded in the 1920s on a terraced hill in Arlington, was bought by Fred Browning and turned into "the place  to be". Underground tunnels were dug for escape, guards at the front gate could sound an  alarm system, and rich folks could romp in splendor. 
Alas, a fiery Baptist preacher, Dr. J. Frank Norris decided to ruin the fun and made it a mission to have police  raids,  etc to rid Tarrant County of this palace of sin. Sinners vs. saints.  The Baptists ended up winning. 

 Much was destroyed and removed. Fortunately under current leadership and with a  lot of research that continues today, the history is being acknowledged and the story told by Mrs. Vicky Branch. An impressive woman, she is telling  the tale with a nifty power point show and tour of grounds. Folks keep adding  to  her information too. One  man was a kid who helped his bootlegging father bring the booze onto the grounds. A lot of nifty tidbits plus the names - Sally Rand, Clark Gable, HL Hunt, Gloria Swanson, John Wayne, Gene Autry, et al - are presented with humor. 

We enjoyed our two hour tour and  were amazed at what  occurred in our own  backyard.  Now, go have a Saturday adventure of your own.!

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Wednesday Whoa Movie - Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris


 What a wonderful gem of a movie.  Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is delightful  from start to finish and Lesley Manville is spot  on. 

It's 1957 and Mrs. Harris lives a simple life as a London  cleaning  lady. She's stuck  in  a rut, misses her Eddie from the war, and struggles to make ends meet. At one of her jobs, she falls in love with a Christian Dior gown hanging in a closet. She now has a goal and saves every penny possible to go to Paris for such a magnificent dress. But she keeps getting  knocked back until it seems her Eddie from above helps make  it happen. 

Once in Paris, Mrs. Harris encounters the snooty manager at Dior played by Isabelle Huppert. But a rich Count, the regular workers, et al are charmed by this common cleaning  lady with a goal. It's a bit magical, but Mrs. Harris's heart helps the house of Dior. The fates seem to move in mysterious ways and there's some twists in the tale of the gown. I won't tell more. 

Go to Paris with Mrs. Harris and enjoy a lovely movie.