Friday, July 19, 2024

Finally Friday - Amon Carter Museum

You'll  see a theme right now -  Ray and I are trying  to beat the heat.  Fortunately, a good place to  escape is a local  art museum.  After a delightful  Tex-Mex lunch at Uncle Julio's, we drove over  to the Amon Carter Museum.  The featured exhibit was Moving Pictures: Karl Struss and the Rise of Hollywood. 
Karl Struss ( 1886-1981) valued photography as an art form. His soft-focus compositions and labor intensive processes enhanced the tone.  He did commercial  work such as ads for Kodak.  He made studio portraits in Hollywood - the glamour shots of Gloria Swanson and  more.  Film  stills were staged, separate from the actual filming  of a movie.
He won/shared the first Oscar for  Cinematography for "Sunrise"(1927).  He  was also  nominated for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), The Sign of the Cross (1934), and Aloma of the South Seas (1941). 

He was an innovator  and  created the Struss Pictorial Lens for soft focus  compositions. Struss worked on over  150 films during his career.  

The  Amon  Carter's collection holds  over 2,000 photographs and 5,000  negatives by Struss. Very impressive.  I always learn something after an afternoon of art and photography. Food  for the eyes. (and a great way to  beat the heat)

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Whatever Wednesday - Jubilee Theater

 It was the final hot Sunday in June and I treated myself to the cool  Jubilee Theater in downtown  Fort Worth. This place is a gem with fine acting, great productions, and thought provoking drama. That day's show Thoughts  of a Colored Man by Keenan Scott II did not disappoint. 

The director quoted Jesse Owens, " The battles that count aren't the ones for  gold medals. The struggles within yourself - the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us - that's where it's at. "  This show brings to light the internal struggles and unseen challenges that Black men face daily. 

The characters in this show - Love, Anger, Depression, Passion, Lust, Happiness, and Wisdom - all move about  the stage in small vignettes located in Brooklyn.  Work, barbershop, sports, expecting a child, getting over a break-up.  There's humor, sadness, struggle, and delight - all depicted with humanity. The  actors were tremendous and the stories they told  were powerful. 

I appreciated this fine afternoon  of theater. Thank you Jubilee for your presentations. 

Monday, July 15, 2024

Monday Moments - Real Americans by Rachel Khong

1999 -  Lily Chen, an unpaid intern, meets Mathew in New York City. He's heir to a vast fortune. She's the only child of  scientists who fled Mao's China. They fall in love despite differences. 

In 2021, Nick Chen, age fifteen, feels like an outsider on an isolated Washington state island. He senses his mother Lily is hiding  something and he decides to seek out his biological father. Note - Nick, while half Asian, is a tall blond haired blue eyed kid. 

cover blurb - In immersive, moving  prose, Rachel Khong's Real Americans weaves a profound tale  of class and striving, race and visibility, and family and  inheritance, a story of trust, forgiveness, and finally coming home.  This book is an inquiry into  the forces that roil our new century: Are we destined or made?  And, if the latter, who gets to  do the making? 

I found this book to offer a different perspective on culture, race, past, and present. I really liked the characters and the author presented the various clashing issues well as our characters worked their way through life. Secrets emerge. Feeling  are  hurt. People reconnect. Family can be very complicated. 

Friday, July 12, 2024

Finally Friday - Cool off at the Movies

Hot afternoon. What to do? What to do?  Treat yourself to the Pixar film Inside Out 2. It's worthy of a small popcorn and small soda. 

I enjoyed Inside Out (1) in the theater a few  years ago,  and it's currently streaming on  Disney. But if you didn't see it, no worries. You can easily follow the story line. 

 Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Tony Hale), Anger (Lewis Black), Sadness, and Disgust (all  are in the command central body space)  are the stars running Riley's life. She's  excited playing ice hockey, she enjoys her friends, she's a kind  kid, and  she loves her parents. You get this synopsis in the opening scenes.  

Then, Riley's  innards undergo Puberty construction and who  shows  up but Anxiety (Maya Hawke), Envy (Ayo Edebiri), and Ennui (Adele Exarchopoulos).  Let the power struggle of  being a teenager begin. The original crew don't  know how to handle these new emotions, yet they know Riley to the core. 

This animated romp takes Riley to hockey camp - should  she stay with her old friends (nerds),  or try to  get in the cool girl group?  Being a teenage girl, emotions change by the minute and this movie does a very good job  of  depicting  the confusion. I enjoyed laugh out loud moments, and could completely identify and understand.  Inside Out 2 is a very fun  way to spend ninety minutes enjoying imaginative entertainment.  Big thumbs up

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Whatever Wednesday - Ray Reunion Time

 Saturday, June 22nd, Ray trekked out  to east Texas for the 91st annual family reunion.  Here's his group - they are from the Cleo connection.  Many of the other family units boost a lot more  people.  Ray figured there  were over one hundred  people  there for the Sunday BBQ  feast. 

My tradition is  to NOT go - too darn  hot.  The past two  years I did drive Ray's folks for the Sunday meal, so they could  visit.  Last  year was the  official 90th  and that was special.   This year, the heat  was going to be even crazier and the folks mobility has  gone downhill.  

Thus, I had friends  over and floated in our pool for  "Sangria Sunday".   Ray enjoyed all of his cousins, etc.   He did win  the 42 domino tournament.  Rah!   Son Kevin's volleyball team won.  So a good time had  by all.  And Ray had a big card signed by various family members to present  to Ray's folks, so they were thought of  and  remembered. 

Another reunion is on the books. 

Monday, July 8, 2024

Monday Moments - the "New" Arlington Museum of Art

My pickleball gang branched out to visit the "new" Arlington Museum of Art.  It was previously located in downtown Arlington - it was small, had character, felt intimate, and presented the art exhibits well. 

Now they moved to an old convention center. Bigger ain't better folks. The place felt  like  a concrete temporary box and the exhibit seemed like a pop-up after thought.  Of  course, we have to pay for the "new" place so  fees were higher and they now charge for  Parking.  Boo  hiss!!  The ridiculous part - parking was way in the back of the buildings. Thus the walk to the museum was past dock  doors.  Very ugly first impression.  No signs, no sculptures.  They could at least paint a mural on the docks.  

Meanwhile the exhibit itself was "meh".  It  lacked  many real  artifacts and "wow" items.  There was one decent  short film.  The replicas of equipment created back  in Pompeii were interesting.  Obviously until  the city was buried under ash it was quite advanced.   And in the real Pompeii, Italy more  and more is being discovered. 

Thumbs down Arlington Museum of Art. You are going to have to work hard to lure me back. 

Friday, July 5, 2024

Finally Friday - The Fury by Alex Michaelides

 The Fury by Alex Michaelides.   Wow.  Holy Cow.  Damn!

A friend told me about this book and I immediately found it at the library. Then I read it in a fury.  It's nutso.  Crazy plot and characters.  Compelling and page turning.  Very creative and kudos to the author. 

cover blurb -  This is a tale of murder

Or maybe that's not quite true. At its heart, it's a love story, isn't it? 


Old friendships

reclusive ex-movie star

game of cat  and  mouse

a battle of wits

The night ended in violence and death

But who am I?

I am not  revealing a thing.  The Fury is brilliant. I could not stop turning pages.  Say, What?  Seriously?    OMG

This book is very different.  Quite the spin.                   Enjoy.  

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Whatever Wednesday - July 4th Celebration

Happy July 4th everyone
No, this flag is not upside down - duh!    
I truly hope America finds its way to support its allies (hello, Ukraine - beat Putin at his stupid game)

 Enjoy summer, family, burgers, beer, sunshine, beaches, pools, and freedom.  Democracy.

Let's reflect on history. The Founding Fathers. The Constitution. 

What  do we really want  to present  to the world?    Not the ravings of a lunatic. 

Oh dear Lord. 

Cheers all???????????????????

Monday, July 1, 2024

Monday Moments - I Declare Summer

 July 1

It is summer

Don't you love this gnome?

'nuff said.  I am floating in the pool a lot.  I thank my cabana boy - Ray.  He's the best. 

Happy July and I declare it is summer, for sure. 

Friday, June 28, 2024

Finally Friday - Neil Diamond Revue Show

Oh Yeah - So Good, So Good. Sweet Caroline and More.   The Arlington Music Hall had a very fun music revue show - Neil Diamond tunes. 
Robert Neary's voice was a tad raspy and he said he was struggling.  But the man sounded like Neil Diamond and put on a great show.  He powered through.  The band was awesome - drummer, 2 guitars, trumpet, sax, and trombone. Wow.  Sweet Caroline, indeed
The gang - so fun, so fun.   We enjoyed  Cracklin' Rosie,  Sweet Caroline, Solitary Man...

Dang - so many hits.  Good times!


Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Whatever Wednesday - Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride

 Browse the aisles (chapters)  of The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride, and you'll enjoy meeting some unique characters.  Pottstown, PA - a skeleton is found in 1972 while workers dig a new foundation for a housing project.  

cover  blurb: Turns out secrets were kept for decades by the residents of Chicken Hill, the dilapidated neighborhood where immigrant Jews and African Americans lived side by side, sharing  ambitions and sorrows. 

Go back to 1936 and meets Moshe and Chona (Jewish). She runs the Heaven & Earth Grocery Store and exudes kindness to all. Bigotry, hypocrisy, and deceit abound, but Chona is a light in the community.  A local black worker, Nate, bonds with her to keep a young  black deaf  boy, Dodo, safe. 

In reading this book in 2024, it seems like so much just hasn't changed. People are too quick to look at the differences and hate without reason. The author, James McBride, shows that it is love and community (heaven and earth) that ultimately sustain us. (Cover blurb)   The characters are rich and well developed, the story is interesting, and the writing  is sublime. Plus, some humor abounds:

p. 313  Go back to the old country?  "I like it here.  The politicians try to cut your throat with one hand while saluting  the flag with the other. Then they tax you. Saves 'em the trouble of calling you a  dirty Jew."


Monday, June 24, 2024

Monday Moments- Brian Cox memoir

 I spent the winter slowly watching the show Succession.  Excellent show. Horrible people.  And the anchor  was the father - Logan Roy  - played  by Brian Cox. He was pitch perfect.  I remember him from some movies and shows - he's followed the character actor path and enhances everything he is in. I would love to see him in the theater, and I have no doubt back in his Shakespeare days in London, he was a force on the stage. 

I read his memoir, Putting the Rabbit in the Hat, with his Scottish voice in my head. Excellent read, and some great stories and comments on  so many actors, directors,  and the  business. His  sense of humor comes through and he does not pull punches in regards to his own foibles.  

p. 215  in approaching work:  How the work is holding a mirror up to nature, about reflecting the truth, and that's what makes it interesting. It really is about reflecting  back to people how we are. 

He made me think about writing, acting,  and the arts.  I look forward to seeing what roles Brian Cox creates as a man in his seventies. It will be worth watching, for  sure!

Friday, June 21, 2024

Finally Freewheeling Friday Fun

Friday the 7th, Ray and I skipped our normal gym routine and headed out for adventure. The Goal -  A one hour drive to Weatherford, Texas and a jaunt around the lake to a trailhead featuring The Boardwalk
The 1.5 mile trail featured a plastic floating  walkway  over the marshy part of the lake. Very nifty perspective to be amongst the  lily pads, cattails, etc. 
Everything is very green and the lake is full.  No wet feet though since the trail just floats up as needed. 
We enjoyed  our walk before it got too hot.   Chatted with some  fishermen - no  real catches. A bit sweaty, but invigorated by fresh air and nature, we headed back  to our concrete jungle. 

Fun Friday. Hope you seek out some local  adventure - cool  things are in  your backyard.  (or an  hour away).  Enjoy.  

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Monday's Mystery Count is solved

 Thanks to Alex, Annalisa, and Hilary for playing  along.  This is a five gallon jug that was in my childhood home living room.  My brother finally emptied it to check the family fortune...

Drum roll............

$196.80    of pennies

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Whatever Wednesday - Motown Sound

left to right - Me,  Sharon, Becky, Charla, Nancy

 No, this is not group of show ladies. It happens to be some of my pickleball gang that I ran into at the Arlington Music Hall.  Turns out that Saturday, June 1, this was the hot place in town to be at 3 pm.  Who knew?

As  part of my getting back  into routine, and back into fun stuff, I treated myself at the last minute to a ticket. Never been to this venue, but heard it was nice (it is- very comfy seating). I like Motown music and hoped  the group  would be good (and they were). And when I sat down in row P, there were Marie and Greg, and also the above named friends.  A grand coincidence. 

The Sound of Motown group of four men turned  out to have  very good voices.  Our "Smokey" was perfect and could hit those high notes. The choreography was not quite as smooth as the Temptations  or Miracles  or Pips, but was worthy of the reasonable  ticket price. A fun two hour show - we tapped our  toes and hummed on the way out of the theater. 

Boogie on down to local  shows!

Monday, June 17, 2024

Monday Moment - Care to Guess How Much

 Happy Monday!

So this five gallon jug sat in the old childhood home living room.  Pennies were plopped into it for over thirty years. 

My brother just spent an afternoon unloading it into a counter. 

Care  to make a  guess?    No, I'm not  giving prizes.  You just get bragging rights if closest to the $, but not over.  Just like the game The Price  is Right. 

Good luck

Friday, June 14, 2024

Finally Friday - Father's Day Weekend

Happy Father's  Day Weekend to all the dad's out there.   Here's Ray's dad, L.D, with his great great grandson,  Levi
Here's Ray's younger son  Kevin with all his girls. Skylar, Wife Maria, Makyla, and Dakota
Here's my brother David with his  crew - Jeff,  Lisa, and  his  wife Cherie
Here's Ray with oldest son, Chris and with baby Levi

 And bittersweet weekend for me - Here's my late  father back  when  he turned ninety. I'm glad I was in town  for that.  There's  Lori, me, and David.   Still hard to believe dad's gone now. 

Keep  good memories and celebrate those dads that are living. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Whatever Wednesday - end of story by A. J. Finn

 Well,  this is a tricky book that kept  me guessing up until  the end of story.  A.J. Finn is very clever. 

Sebastian Trapp, a mystery novelist, invites Nicky Hunter,  an expert in detective  fiction, to come tell his story.  This is a man who's wife and son died/vanished (?) many years  ago.   How, who,  what, and why?  

He's  dying while living  with his gorgeous second wife, Diana.  His daughter, Madeleine is a bit of a lost soul. There's  a wayward nephew, Freddie, and other strands of questionable  characters.

It's up to Nicky to weave together the strands.  

cover blurb - And when a corpse appears in the family's koi pond, both Nicky and Maddie are shocked  to find that the past isn't gone - it's just waiting.  And is it Cole,  Maddie's brother, who is texting  her?

p. 310  Sebastian says, "Where the mystery and the violence are mostly within you, and where the clues  are almost ineluctably lead you someplace you don't want to go."   "We're all in that story. Life is  a thriller. The ending  is fatal and the conclusion is final."

Whoa!!!  This is a very good mystery/thriller.  The pages turn quickly and in the end you'll  say, "Holy cow! Didn't see that coming."  

Monday, June 10, 2024

Monday Moments - Crawfish Boil

 One of our new pickleball buddies, Steve, is from New Orleans originally and he's loud and  proud about his roots. He played football for LSU way back in the day - 'nuff said. 

Ray and I were invited to his 35th annual Crawfish Boil on Memorial Weekend.  Wow - quite a fest.  Friends, family, neighbors. There was a steady stream of people.  It was a hot, steamy day - I felt like  I was on the bayou.  Mardi Gras type music played. There were chests  of  beads to adorn you. 

Big  pot was filled with boiling water, seasoning  packets, a full big seasoning  bottle  of cayenne  pepper,  etc.  Crawfish imported from Louisiana, potatoes, corn, andouille  sausage, full garlic cloves, onions all went into  the hot water and churned with a huge paddle.  Finally, it was ladled onto a huge table covered in paper and everyone  dug in. 

Ray gamely peeled and ate. I was not enamored by the star of the show. However,  the potato and  corn were yummy and HOT!  Whew, my mouth was on fire!

We enjoyed our time there from  1 to 4. As we left, another  pot  was boiling, and more folks streamed in.  Those  folks  know how to party! 

Friday, June 7, 2024

Finally Friday - Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan

Kevin Kwan, author of Crazy Rich Asians, is back  with a new breezy novel, Sex and Vanity

back blurb: Lucie Churchill hates George Zao the minute she sets eyes on him at a wedding on Capri. She has always sublimated her Asian side. Years later, she's drawn to him again. Soon, Lucie is spinning a web of deceit that involves her family, her fiance, the co-op board of her Fifth Avenue apartment building, and ultimately, herself, as she tries to deny George entry into  her world - and her heart. 

Kwan name drops furiously, and has his characters flying all over the world in private jets. They drip in diamonds, drink only the best champagne, are the elite of the elite, and are often miserably making a mess of  their lives.  His writing is easy breezy and glitzy.  The life is  over the top ridiculous, but fun to read about.   If you want brain  candy,  this is sugar into the veins. Silly fun and page turning  addictive. 

A  perfect summer, hang by the pool, book. Enjoy froth.  

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Whatever Wednesday


I've stolen this photo from my brother (thanks David) to use on a Whatever Wednesday post. 

He and Cherie were up  in Portland, OR and got to visit the  carved troll exhibits that are around the city. How cool and crazy is this?

Wacky and really amazing. 

Monday, June 3, 2024

Monday Moments - The Fall Guy Movie

 What can't Ryan Gosling do?  He is perfect (again) for The Fall Guy, in theaters now. 

So, we see Colt Seavers (Gosling) on set as the best stuntman. He's flirting with his camera operator, Jody Moreno (delightful Emily Blunt). Ready for his big stunt take for leading man, Tom Ryder ( Aaron Taylor-Johnson).  Ready - set- oh no!

Eighteen months later,  Colt is ready to get back in the game. He's flown in for Jody's debut  action  film.  But where's Tom?  Colt is asked to find him by producer, Gail Meyer (funny Hannah Waddingham). Caught up in a whole conspiracy, trying  to win back Jody, and risking  life and limb on set and in real life, Colt has to use all of his skills to live and save the  day.  

It's a fun, wacky romp/thriller. Plenty of laughs and great chemistry with our leading players. Very fun flick  to see on the big screen.  Ray and I both came out laughing. 

Friday, May 31, 2024

Pearl S. Buck home

While I was in PA, I visited the Pearl S.  Buck home. It's a lovely estate and the docent gave us a very thorough tour. 
Ms.  Buck won the  Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for The Good Earth.  She also won the Nobel Peace Prize in Literature (1938) for "her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life  in China. And for her masterpieces - two memoir-biographies of her missionary parents."  
The grounds are gorgeous
She was renowned for her activism for women rights, and also her work on racial equality and mixed race adoptions.  

One faces the future with one's past  1942

Race prejudice is a shadow over all of us, and the shadow is darkest over those who feel it least and allow its evil effects to go on What America Means to Me 1943

One cool side note - my mother, as a child, remembered Pearl S. Buck - a woman in a housedress, with a lot of kids running  about. My mother's family farmed in the area and sold produce to the estate. 


Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Oh George

 RIP George Crowther   July 1931 to May 9, 2024

Very hard to believe my dad is gone.  But at age 92 - it was a long life with a lot of friends and family that loved him.   I know you, in  blog world, followed his tale as I visited him through the years. 

He was the Best! the diary that we all carry about with us - Oscar Wilde

Good memories  for all of us - me, David, and Lori.  And thanks to David's wife, Cherie - she helped dad a lot. 

We did play "Over the Rainbow" at his graveside.  He loved all sorts of music,  but Judy Garland was a fave.   Maybe she's singing in a lounge above, and he has a front  row seat. 

Monday, May 27, 2024

Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day!   A time of  remembrance and a salute  to  those who died in war

and of course, a time to welcome summer pool season

 Fly the flag, enjoy picnics, but honor the fallen

And blood in torrents pour

In vain - always in vain

For war breeds war again 

        John Davidson "War Song"  1899