Monday, May 30, 2022
Friday, May 27, 2022
Meanwhile, maybe you'll go to a state park this weekend. Here's more from Cedar Hill State Park, visited a few weeks ago
Hit the trails and one cactus chose to show off a bloom.
Have a safe Memorial Weekend. With war in Ukraine, reflect on past US wars and those who did not come back. Stay cool in your pool, on a lake, or in a movie theater. The first burgers from the grill taste like summertime. Enjoy time with family or friends, celebrate your graduates, and take time to relax too.
Wednesday, May 25, 2022
Now Downton Abbey: A New Era is another dessert whipped up by creator Julian Fellowes. It hits all the marks - costumes, posh dinners, castles and grounds, and some quips from the Dowager Countess (Dame Maggie Smith). We get to visit with all of our old "friends" and just hearing the lovely tones of Carson (Jim Carter) - our favorite bristling old butler - makes one happy.
In this film, we split time between England and the French Riviera. The countess inherited a villa from an old flame. Questions about her past and fretful moments for Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) ensue. Meanwhile, Downton has been invaded by a film crew. Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) puts up with the fuss (and a charming director) because money is needed for a new roof.
All in all, if you are a Downton fan, just sit back and enjoy. You'll laugh, you'll sniffle, and like my matinee (11 am) audience of mostly senior ladies, you will applaud at the end.
P.S. It's awesome being retired and out to the movies on a Friday. Cheers!
Monday, May 23, 2022
Tough to keep a fresh coat of paint in these conditions.
More Cedar Hill State Park posts will follow. We had a fun adventure.
Friday, May 20, 2022
A literary festival on the island of Alderney, UK proves fatal for a few. Ex-detective inspector Daniel Hawthorne, along with author Anthony Horowitz attend to promote a book on a murder solved by the brilliant inspector.
A Line to Kill indicates that quite a few people on the island had motive to kill a local grandee and more connected to him. I cannot give away any more. This book was entertaining - a riddle of a story full of brilliant misdirection, beautifully set-out clues, and diabolically clever denouements. (cover blurb)
It was a good read, but I was able to put it down. I could tell that it was almost too enamored of its own cleverness, and I found it a bit annoying that the actual author had put himself in the book. As for the ex-detective, I wasn't drawn into his character. I got the book from our local library, based on a previous read The Magpie Murders, that was quite entertaining. A Line to Kill did not live up to my expectations.
Wednesday, May 18, 2022
Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. OMG. For any serious movie goer, this is hysterical.
Have you loved Nicolas Cage through the years? Through good and bad movies? Like no matter what, he was crazy or crazy good or Oscar winner good?
If so - this movie is for you. Nic Cage is in on the joke. He was one of the producers and, no doubt, gave the writers tips. I can't even remotely explain the plot, except know that there are a lot of Nic Cage references, he actually talks at times to a younger version of himself, and yes he drives like Gone in 60 Seconds, helps the US Government in a plot, and keeps a straight face through the ridiculousness.
I loved this flick for my $6. Pedro Pescal is an alleged arms cartel leader. Sharon Horgan is the divorced ex that he really loves. Car chases, Nic Cage with that Nic Cage whisper voice. What can I say? The man is legend and this movie proves it.
Truly funny! When I think back to Raising Arizona, Moonstruck, Face-Off, Leaving Las Vegas....a lot of film history. Trust me - you'll laugh.
Monday, May 16, 2022
My Life as a Villainess by Laura Lippman - I felt like I was hanging out with a friend as I read this book. The sharp observations, the humor, the general human foibles. ( P. 111 I managed to eke out an A-minus in gym class, thanks to written tests and the credit given for merely showing up and suiting up, which turned out to be a pretty useful life lesson) Amen - that's me!
p. 156 Books are by betas, for betas, the wistful girls on the fringes of things. I know this...currying favor with the brighter, prettier girls, who find temporary uses for my sharp tongue.
I enjoyed my double header time with Laura Lippman, and appreciated home run writing.
Friday, May 13, 2022
After a lifetime of legendary heists, notorious criminals Mr. Wolf (Sam Rockwell), Mr. Snake (Marc Maron), Mr. Piranha (Anthony Ramos), Mr. Shark (Craig Robinson) and Ms. Tarantula (Awkwafina) are finally caught. To avoid a prison sentence, the animal outlaws must pull off their most challenging con yet -- becoming model citizens. Under the tutelage of their mentor, Professor Marmalade (Richard Ayoade), the dubious gang sets out to fool the world that they're turning good.
Ray and I enjoyed a matinee date on a very dreary day. This animated movie was just really fun with plenty of action, a decent story, lots of laughs, and excellent voice acting. I am always amused by Awkwafina and her snarky rasp.
Do The Bad Guys really deserve such a bad rap? Watch and see if they are wolves in sheep clothing.
Wednesday, May 11, 2022
My mother took us, as children, to the library weekly. We could pick from the treasure trove of books, come home, and escape into adventures. She knew what we were reading. She knew if I'd picked a book above my general age group.
At the grocery store, she never said no to a Mad Magazine purchase. She knew it had snarky humor, but we were reading, questioning, and thinking.
I thank my late mother for her encouragement. She and my father both let us read the paper, had a variety of magazines in the house, and we could talk about or question something at any time.
Strange times here in 2022. We need to expand our reading and questioning focus, not narrow in on a singular "feed". That's my fear - people aren't thinking. Parents have no clue what their kids are really watching and how they are feeding their minds on the phone.
Read, talk, think on this whatever Wednesday.
Monday, May 9, 2022
Debut author, Nathan Harris creates an unforgettable cast of characters, depicting Georgia in the violent crucible of Reconstruction. Equal parts beauty and terror, as gripping as it is moving, The Sweetness of Water is an epic whose grandeur locates humanity and love amid the most harrowing circumstances. cover blurb)
I really liked this book a lot. Prentiss (strong and smart) and Landry (strong and challenged), now free, go to work on the Walkers' homestead. They are paid, have shelter and food, and save to move north hoping to find their mother who was taken from them as children. Isabelle and George mourn their only son Caleb (reported dead in the Civil War (?) and gain a friendship with these brothers, despite the feelings of the town.
Meanwhile secrets abound, murder and chaos emerge and Isabelle proves to be a strong healing leader with a vision for the land and town of Old Ox.
Water is an underlying theme. Parched land. The sweet taste of water after a day working in the fields. The chance to bathe in a pond, to accidentally happen upon lovers lolling by a creek. Or Landry's fascination with a fountain, and what it means for all of their lives.
Beautiful deep writing and quite a vision of humanity. This new writer is a talent with a delicate touch of humor, sadness, and soul. Sweetness!
Friday, May 6, 2022
My brain just hurts this week, so I'm being lazy on the Friday post. I have to count on brilliant quotes from writers I admire.
Indeed, reading has always been a good escape. Currently it's tough to concentrate. I'm back from PA visiting my father and still worried for his health. Despite vax, a rebound from Covid is very tough for a 90 year old. My brother and sister are beyond heroes.
I have book reviews to write - a decent queue. I need to go trim hedges - that's therapeutic.
Let's enjoy the weekend, my friends.
Wednesday, May 4, 2022
Infinite Country by Patricia Engel is a short book (190 pages) that packs a big wallop.
cover blurb - Rich with Bogota urban life, steeped in Andean myth, and tense with the daily reality of the undocumented in the U.S., this book is the story of two countries and one mixed-status family for whom every triumph is stitched with regret and every dream pursued bears the weight of a dream deferred.
Mauro and Elena, grandmother Perla, and kids Karina (born in Bogota), Nando and Talia (US born) are rich characters navigating dual worlds.
Talia the youngest was sent back to Columbia as a baby and raised by Perla. Mauro gets caught in the US and deported. Elena manages to stay in the US, scrambling for jobs, a roof for her and the kids, and dreaming of a return to Columbia. Mauro only wants to return to the US. Talia is torn, but knows her best future lies in the states.
Engel's writing is beautiful and she captures the fears, yearnings, love of countries, concerns for life, and dreams for a better future with her tale.
I wondered about the matrix of separation and dislocation, our years bound to the phantom pain of a lost homeland...And maybe there is no nation or citizenry; they're just territories mapped in place of family, in place of love, the infinite country.
I highly recommend Infinite Country by Patricia Engel
Monday, May 2, 2022
And good to look down for one lone remaining tulip.
After two years, Covid caught up to the family. My brother, his wife, and sister ended up with cough, stuffy nose, etc. All are doing fine. Dad had a rough couple of days, but thanks to vax and booster - he came through. One recovery morning as we were getting him dressed and situated, he began to sing Bruno Mars Lazy Song "I just want to stay in my bed" What 90 year old knows that?
And that's why we keep the old man going...you just never know how he'll surprise us.
Take a walk. Look for surprises. And also, have a sense of humor - that is key!