Thursday, February 29, 2024

Bonus Leap Year Day 2024 - Year of the Dragon

 It's the Year of the Dragon 2024    I've been gathering some assorted quotes from the Wall Street Journal that struck me - all very random.  So enjoy this bonus post on a bonus day.  Why February?  Dang - generally cold, dreary, totally useless.  


Art is the expression of man's pleasure in labor - William Morris

I much prefer the sharpest criticism of a single intelligent man to the thoughtless approval of the masses - Johannes Kepler

Television is an invention that permits you to be entertained in your living room by people you wouldn't have in your home - David Frost

Children at play are not playing about; their games should be seen as their most serious minded activity - Montaigne

I liked Keplers the most, especially in this most ridiculous election year. 

I hope you are playing  today - it's a bonus day of  total frivolity.  Use it wisely (ha!) my friends. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Whatever Wednesday - Bright Star

 Sunday afternoon in Hurst TX - Artisan Theater presented Bright Star, a  Tony nominated show created by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell. 

This was a really lovely local production. The talent was outstanding - vocals, acting, sets, etc.  Wow and kudos. 

This musical takes place in North Carolina in 1923-24 and also 1945-46.  As it goes back and forth in time, we see a story unfold about two young lovers who were not destined to be together.  We also follow a story about a young man destined for writing greatness.  So many paths cross.  Hearts broken. Reconciliation.  Oh man, this tugs the heartstrings. 

So, good story.  Very good songs.  Excellent vocals. 

Fun afternoon.

Support your local theater companies.  These folks are working hard and singing  their hearts out. 

Monday, February 26, 2024

Monday Moments - Kenan Thompson Memoir

 As a fan of Kenan Thompson on SNL, I was excited for his memoir and it did not disappoint.  When I Was Your Age is quite funny, very real, just a dude talking to us.  He's the longest ever cast member and sketches like "Black Jeopardy" are hysterical. He's still got a baby face, and he absolutely cracks the cast up. 

His goal in life was to act and be funny. And his family life was good. His mom worked darn hard to make his dream come true. From the Mighty Ducks to All That  to Good Burgers, Kenan was destined to be a star. 

He's a dad to two girls and SO not cool now. He's got dad vibes and he's good with that. 

cover blurb - This book is packed with hilarious yet poignant essays that are aimed to offer any parenting advice, focusing on positivity, and having fun in life.  He tells his story about auditions, failures, going bankrupt, and getting on SNL, a true dream come true.  Then he had to work hard to succeed there - fortunately getting paired with a very young Colin Jost (writer at the time). They clicked and the rest has been history. 

I laughed out loud at this book as a true fan of Kenan. He's down to earth and sheds some good comments on SNL cast members and guest hosts. He comes across as a really nice guy who's worked incredibly hard at his craft, often being  the "token black dude", but not letting that be his story.  He's beyond talented and funny and I'm glad I read his book. 

Friday, February 23, 2024

Finally Friday - Mean Girls, the Musical

 So we had the original 2004 hilarious movie by Tina Fey.  Then there was a Broadway musical. Now we have the 2024 musical movie Mean Girls and it is truly funny. 

Tina Fey's creation is hysterical. It's campy fun. Renee Rapp as Regina George captures the Hot Girl Leader of school. 

Angourie Rice as Cady Heron is the innocent young lady who grew up overseas and is clueless. 

Christopher Briney as Aaron Samuels is great as our token stud. 

Clicks abound. High school is brutal.  But this musical has great voices, good acting, and is just an enjoyable two hour romp for all of us who survived.  Believe me - I understand the Mean Girls vibe and I was not a cool girl. I was on the receiving end of the high school horror. I can laugh now!

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Whatever Wednesday - Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult

 You just can't go  wrong with a Jodi Picoult book. She is SO on top of topics and Mad Honey  (written with Jennifer Finney Boylan) hits a hot topic - trans issues. 

Olivia McAffee starts over with her son, Asher, after a picture perfect marriage that goes dark.  She moves home and takes over the family beekeeping business. 

Lily Campanello relocates for her senior high school year. 

Paths cross. Asher and Lily fall in love. But trust...

cover blurb: Then one day, Olivia receives a phone call. Lily is dead. Asher is being questioned by police.  Flashes of temper by Ash (so much like his father??).  Lily's secrets....?

Secrets, risks, love, suspense.  Mad Honey is a darn good read, with twists and turns I did not anticipate. 

Monday, February 19, 2024

Monday Moments - American Fiction movie

 What better way to celebrate President's Day than with a movie satire. American Fiction is fire! 

Thelonious "Monk" Ellison (the brilliant Jeffrey Wright)  is an African American upper class writer and professor. His novels are praised by not widely sold. Newcomer Sintara Golden (Issa Rae) panders to black stereotypes with We's Live in Da Ghetto and that irks Monk to no end. 

The man has money troubles and he writes a ridiculous cliche book - deadbeat dads, gang violence, drugs and he calls it Fuck  (sorry by me for using the word) - just asking for trouble.  It goes on (spoiler alert) to win awards.  

There are SO many conflicting issues going on in this movie and it's well done. I'm not explaining it well, but trust me this is worth watching.  I laughed out loud, cringed, and much of the situations for black writers, educators, performers are darn too true. This movie makes you think, laugh, and appreciate the acting. 

Friday, February 16, 2024

Finally Friday - Tom Lake by Ann Patchett

 Head to Tom Lake this weekend via Ann Patchett's comfortable writing. Her style is sublime, her characters rich, and Ann Patchett weaves a family tale. 

It's 2020 pandemic and Lara's three daughters return to the family cherry orchard in northern Michigan. While picking cherries, they pick their mother's brain for the story of Peter Duke, a famous actor with whom she shared both a stage and a romance years before at a theater company called Tom Lake. As Lara recalls the past, her daughters examine their own lives and their relationship with their mother, and are forced to reframe their understanding of the world they thought they knew. (cover blurb)

P. 116  There is no explaining this simple truth about life; you will forget much of it. Lara was thinking.  Memories are then replaced by different joys and larger sorrows. 

p.152 "If we're going to be miserable and cry, let's do it in the lake," says Nell. 

Lara:  I drop beneath the surface and open my eyes. It's as if someone brought up all the diamonds at Tiffany's and crushed them into dust, then spread that dust across the water so that it sifts down evenly, filtering through the shards of light that cut into the depth. 

(cover blurb) Tom Lake cuts into the depths of youthful love, married love, and the lives our parents led before they were our parents.  I can't think of a better way to spend a weekend, than to enjoy this book. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Happy Valentine's Day

Love does not exist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Happiness is the china shop; love is the bull - H.L. Mencken
My Ray
But love me for love's sake, that evermore

Thou mayest love on, through love's eternity

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Welcome love this fine day. Love of friends - near and far (that includes you my blog friends), partners, pets, nature, music, art, sports, whatever brings a peace, a smile, a calm.  And look in the mirror. 

Happy Valentine's Wednesday! 

Monday, February 12, 2024

Monday Moments - Jane Smiley and Writing

 The Questions That Matter Most: Reading, Writing, and the Exercise of Freedom by Jane Smiley.    Wow - quite a title and a lot to think about.   I've read most of Jane Smiley's fiction and it's excellent. Here in her essays, her skills, thought process, and deep dive into character are quite educational and thought provoking. 

cover blurb - Smiley dives beneath surface level interpretations to examine the works of de Navarre, Dickens, Trollope, Beecher Stowe, Alcott, Twain, Cather, and more.  Smiley works to think harder and, in  her words, with "more clarity and nuance about the questions that matter most". 

I had to really think here. Great writing. Impressive contrasts and comparisons. She has inspired me  to go back and read some classics that I haven't read in a zillion years. I need to approach with a new appreciation. 

I got this book at the library after perusing  the shelves. Her name made me grab this book and I'm glad.  Got the gray matter astir.  Dang!

Friday, February 9, 2024

Finally Friday - Freaking Fun Music from the FWSO

Super fun Sunday Jan 21st.  I treated myself to an afternoon of the symphony orchestra and the music of Billy Joel and Elton John.  Two thumbs up winners.   The vocalist, Michael Cavanaugh, had starred on Broadway in "Moving  Out" - the Billy Joel musical.  He was handpicked by Billy to play the part. The man can play the piano like crazy,  and his voice is perfect for all of these songs. 

 Look at that  list.   Awesome  all around.  The conductor, Ron  Spigelman, looked like  he  was having a blast and the orchestra sounded stellar.  We all came out of Bass Hall just happy and rejoicing in the music  soundtrack of our lives.   Win! Win!

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Whatever Wednesday - Someone Else's Shoes by JoJo Moyes

 cover blurb - Who Are You When Forced to Walk in Someone Else's Shoes

JoJo Moyes always writes incredible characters and a fully developed novel.  Nisha Cantor, an American in England, is married to a rich jerk. He's cut her off from everything she owns and her biggest thing (she thinks) is a pair of Louboutin shoes. Alas, at the gym, bags get swapped. The gym closes. And Samantha Kemp ( a middle aged shlub with husband issues) has picked up the bag with those shoes. 

For Sam who's holding on with a thread to a sales job, those shoes prove pivotal to her image. 

When the two women finally meet, they will discover that each needs the other to put right the wrongs that have been done to them - and to the women around them, from Jasmine (a true gem) to Sam's steadfast friend, Andrea.  (cover blurb)

This is a fun read but almost ties up too neatly with a ridiculous solution.  I enjoyed the read, but had to chuckle at the contrived ending. I still recommend this book as a total chick junk brain candy time waster.   And that's okay.  

Monday, February 5, 2024

Monday Moments - The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot

 Have a box of tissues ready by the end of the book. You'll have a good sniffle or two after reading The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin.  This story is heartwarming with delightful characters, a lot of charm, and the power of friendship and love.  Huge thumbs up and big hug. 

It's the Terminal Ward at the Glasgow Princess Royal Hospital. Lenni is seventeen years old and dying, but still living. In a hospital arts and crafts class, she  meets Margot - eighty three, purple  pajama wearing rebel.  The two of them have one hundred years between them and they begin a series of works from their lives and tell the stories to accomplish one hundred paintings. This showcase of one hundred represents stories of love and loss, of courage and kindness, of unexpected tenderness and pure joy.  (cover  blurb)

Friendship transcends time and the book makes you think about your legacy. It's a very sweet story and you will absolutely love Lenni and Margot. Happy tears!  Snif, sniffle. 

Friday, February 2, 2024

Finally Friday - Groundhog Day

Happy Groundhog Day!  Will the groundhog see it's shadow?   Six more weeks of winter ahead?

Here are some  past February snow and ice pics.   We'll see what happens

I sure hope the grid holds up and we keep  power  on. 
A nice dusting of snow is fine, but let's not go crazy. 

Hot chocolate and a good book - I can handle that for  six more weeks. But can Ray?  Ha! He'll be waving the white flag. 

Cheers all and I hope it's a sunny warm weekend.