Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Wordless Wednesday - Pumpkin Mania Part 2





more pumpkin mania from this year's Dallas Arboretum Fall Spectacular.  Plus a whole lot of purple.  Too early for the mums to pop. I need to go back soon.

I pay a membership fee and I like to consider this "MY GARDEN".  They do such a good job here - my money is working hard.  Enjoy!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Mouthful Monday

Feast your eyes on this new State Fair fried food winner. It's heaven.  Only 14 coupons ($7.00). Yowza.  But trust me, worth every penny. And when you convert your hard earned money into coupons, it's like monopoly money - practically free!

This is called Fat Smooth and OMG, hell yes.   Three cream puffs fried in Cafe Du Monde beignet batter, then doused in powdered sugar with a drizzle of caramel and chocolate sauce. 

It was tough, but I did share with Ray.

(we did walk over 10,000 steps that day. I feel good about it - absolutely)


Friday, October 13, 2017

Fall Friday Frolic - The Great State Fair of Texas 2017

 Oh yes, everything is bigger in Texas.  The State Fair is a marvel. It runs for a month and is SO much fun. There are shows, exhibits, fried foods galore, and how about this wall of butter carving......Crazy, right?
 Award winning quilts in the creative arts building. Folks are so talented
 The Hall of State is a gorgeous permanent building in Fair Park.  The exhibit this year was Texas and WWI. Quite fascinating.  But I've always loved this wall sculpture.
 The Esplanade. Art Deco buildings are all around. Huge auto show is inside. Ray test drove the 2018 Chevy Colorado.  No purchase yet....
and cool statues abound.

More pics in a later post.  Happy Friday - gotta love October

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Wordless Wednesday - Pumpkin Mania





Fall at the Dallas Arboretum 2017 - it's pumpkin mania..............Kerpow for Orange Power
Plus crazy gourds

Leaves me speechless

Monday, October 9, 2017

Book Review - I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere but the Pool

I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere but the Pool is a great title. It sums up this collection of humorous essays from the mother daughter combo of Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella.  Light and breezy, this book encompasses musings on all aspects of life and from the perspective of a sixty year old twice divorced successful author who lives in the Philly suburbs,  and a thirty year old single up and comer living in New York City.  From the cover blurb – They offer a fresh and funny take on the triumphs and face-palm moments of modern life, showing that when it comes to navigating the crazy world we live in, you’ve always been your own best lifeguard.

From Lisa’s chapter Collect Them All
Either way, I have too many books.
I know, I don’t think it’s a problem either.
The only thing is they’re overtaking my house. 
 She goes on to discuss putting book shelves in her kitchen, the only room without such shelving. It’s a funny chapter and one I could identify with.

From Francesca’s chapter Hi, My Name Is
“It’s a good networking opportunity.”
If there’s a more anxiety inducing sentence than that, I don’t know it.
Networking is the worst. I like people and I’m outgoing, but I like connecting with people on a real level. I make friends. I don’t make “contacts”.
She goes on to describe an event, and being the awkward outcast standing in a corner. We’ve all been there.


Lifeguard is a very fun non-fiction book I plucked from the library shelves. If you need a chuckle or two, this is the book for you.  Enjoy. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Movie Review Madness - Home Again

I paid $4.33 for Home Again and it was worth every penny.  I just wanted a movie at this time (2 ish) that was not too long ( 96 minutes) and that required NO thinking whatsoever. Home Again completed the mission as a total fluff piece.  Thank you Reese Witherspoon for delivering a worthy performance that only required looking adorable. Her big blue eyes never looked bluer or bigger. Her smile was never more radiant. And she pulled off that cute wrinkle the nose look.  As for the young men in the movie – oh so cute. Generically good looking, okay acting, and yes, total fluff puppy dog eyes. The girls playing Reese’s daughters were equally way too adorable. Michael Sheen is fine as the on-the-outs artsy husband. Candice Bergen (good to see her) is Reese’s mother.

This is a Nancy Meyers production and the writer/director is her daughter Hallie Meyers-Shyer. That says enough. Absolutely fabulous LA home setting with a kitchen to die for, and of course the pool, guest house, etc are decorated to perfection.

Shall I discuss plot? Nah. Why muddy the waters? I didn’t go to think. I went for fluff, light drama, humor, cuteness, and a happy tidy ending. BAM!!!  Totally nailed it.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Book Review - The Late Show by Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly changes gears from old Harry Bosch. This time in The Late Show he introduces us to young Renee Ballard, a tough detective trying to prove herself. She’s been shoved into the midnight shift due to some office politics – punishment for filing a sexual harassment complaint against a supervisor. It’s frustrating, but she’s working hard to do her job and move on. The book leaps into two cases that will keep her busy. First a prostitute is badly beaten and left for dead – a sign of an evil killer at large. Then a nightclub shooting has all the earmarks of gang activity and a possible cop on the inside. Oh the web tangles and Renee has a lot of work ahead of her.

From the cover blurb – As the investigations entwine, Ballard is forced to face her own demons and confront a danger she could not have imagined. To find justice for these victims who can’t speak for themselves, she must put not only her career but her life on the line.


Renee Ballard is an exciting new character and I look forward to reading more of her in Michael Connelly’s books. The Late Show proves to be a page-turner. Fast paced and riveting – everything you want in a crime drama thriller. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Arts and Letters - Artful Musings on a Sunday afternoon

Enjoyed a Sunday afternoon program at the Dallas Museum of Art. The theme of Artful Musings was Fame.  It consisted of letters about fame from the famous. Four performers - Todd Beadle, Jamie Maschler, David Quicksall, and Jen Taylor presented a program with letters, a slide show, and an accordion accompaniment. It was all quite entertaining, amusing, and enlightening.

The show was in four parts - the struggle, fame, stardom, and fleeting aspects. It began with a letter from a 14 year old to a magazine, hoping for acceptance. The author...Stephen King. Other letters included David Bowie writing back to his very first fan letter from America  - his response was incredibly gracious. Another letter read aloud was from a young Bruce Springsteen to his landlord explaining why he was late.

There was quite a variety - some from authors to their publishers along with a response (sadly a rejection or two). There was a very funny letter response from the Monty Python troupe - John Cleese wrote, then Michael Palin did a follow-up, along with Eric Idle. It was a hoot.

The program flowed and the performers read with verve. This was a well curated collection and performance piece. Fame - quite a concept.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Kimbell Art Museum presents Casanova - The Seduction of Europe

 Another splendid exhibit is at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, and it's there until the end of December. Casanova - the Seduction of Europe looks at the 18th century through the eyes of Giacomo Casanova (1725-1798). He traveled widely in Europe, dined with the stars - Catherine the Great, et al, He studied law, wrote, painted, and pursued love most of all. Let's just say he was quite the player.

The exhibit offers plenty of Canaletto (i.e. The Entrance to the Grand Canal), Fragonard (lots of cherubs), costumes, sculptures, and even a section of (sshh!) naughty etchings.  This is a very thorough collection of works, and a marvelous way to explore this time period. I always learn something and feast the eyes.
Here's my Casanova, Ray, posing at the entrance area. We had a really nice time in Fort Worth's Cultural District.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Book Review - Into the Water

I had high expectations for Paula Hawkins’ next book after her excellent The Girl on the Train

Into the Water proved worthwhile but did not blow me away. From the cover blurb the book is an addictive new novel of psychological suspense about the slipperiness of truth – and one family drowning in secrets.

Nell Abbott had been researching the various deaths by drowning in the local river. All young females, all mostly declared suicides. Now Nell is dead. Was she influenced by her research? Was she suicidal? Or was this murder?  Nell’s daughter – a vulnerable angry teen is being taken care of by Nell’s sister, Jules. Jules and Nell had been estranged, so the family dynamics are messy and Jules is not comfortable with dealing with her niece. Various detectives offer their narrative too. Plus we have the strange local flavor of the town psychic, etc.  Also, Hawkins reverts to the past to give viewpoints from previous drowning victims.

I like first person chapters, but this book had too many people telling their story and it was hard to keep a continuing thread for forward progress. Into the Water is well written. It ultimately zooms along rapidly at the end to tie everything up. The book was good, not fabulous. There was a lot of deception and hidden secrets in a small town.  

From the cover blurb – Beware a calm surface – you never know what lies beneath.


Monday, September 25, 2017

Book Review - Life in Code

Life in Code: A Personal History of Technology by Ellen Ullman is an excellent nonfiction read.  This book will get the brain cells churning as you think about technology and how it has changed you and the world.  The author was in San Francisco in the 1970s as a computer programmer. She worked in this predominant boys club and her perspective is interesting. Her viewpoint as an early coder looks at the sweep of technology, cultural, and financial revolution. She writes in very clear concise concepts and terms and is very thoughtful in her assessment.

p.83 At the time, I had my reservations about the web, but not so much about the private, dreamlike state it offered. It seemed like surfing was a sometimes interesting, sometimes trivial waste of time, but in a social sense it seemed harmless.   Something changed….Fall of 1998 she saw a huge billboard in San Francisco that said, “now the world does revolve around you.”

p.87  Companies now make you believe that only you can take care of yourself. The lure of personal service is being withdrawn. In the internet age, under the pressure of globalized capitalization and its slimmed down profit margins, only the very wealthy will be served by actual human beings. The rest of us must make do with web pages, and feel happy about it.

p. 243  In regards to programming, one must develop a high tolerance for failure, learn to move forward from discouragement, find a ferocious determination, a near passionate obsession to solve a  problem, meanwhile summoning the pleasures of the hunt.

p.303 I wanted to race in and shake young people out of their internet dreams. I wanted them to see the damage the web is doing to our culture, banishing privacy, widening the divide between rich and poor, hollowing out the middle class.

She wants folks to stay vigilant. Be aware of the good and bad uses of the internet. Still depend on people. Try to not let the world revolve around you.
 Life in Code will push some buttons if you read it.



Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday Feast for the Eyes: Plexus No. 34





Ray and I checked out the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth. In their atrium is a large-scale installation called Plexus No. 34 designed by Gabriel Dawe. It will be there for two years and includes more than eighty miles of multicolored thread.  Truly a nifty sculpture that changes in the light. As you can tell by my photos (that don't do it justice), this is truly spectacular.

Go to your local art museum and be wowed
Happy Friday and Weekend, everyone

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Maverick Speaker Series - Lou Diamond Phillips

The fall Maverick Speaker Series kicked off with La Bamba - Lou Diamond Phillips.  He's a thirty year actor, director, and producer, and a proud graduate of UTA '85.  From his splash as Ritchie Valens in 1987 La Bamba to his current role in Longmire, Diamond has worked hard to pursue his dream and commitment to acting.

The theme of his speech was commitment. You have to keep moving forward. Keep learning. Be committed to people and the world. He was enthusiastic and had a nice sense of humor.

It was a fun hour and he certainly gave praise to his alma mater. He donated any proceeds from the night to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts for UTA students involved.

Viva La Bamba!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Monday Moment

My sister gave me this clown one Christmas, and I've had him perched on various shelves for over twenty years.  After seeing IT, there's a new little creepy factor.

That's my Monday moment.  What's yours?  Any red balloons floating by you?

We are back in the 90s here in the DFW area. I've still been swimming, though the water is a bit brisk thanks to 60s in the morning. Fall should be sweatshirt weather. I am ready!

Have a stellar week, everyone.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Book Review - Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

From the cover blurb:  In Why Not Me?  Mindy Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it’s falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person to lose weight without any behavior modification, or most importantly, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you’re constantly reminded that no one looks like you.

Mindy Kaling was  a writer first, then moved into acting also with guest appearances and then her own show. Her wry humor and observations can be laugh out loud funny. While she’s been successful in Hollywood, she still seems like she’s trying to navigate the territory on tiptoes. She still seems excited about the business and opportunities, the celebrity meetings, and the parties. Yet she also can give very snarky comments, and can laugh at the ridiculousness of the business.

She admits she truly loves her parents. She always wanted to be liked as a kid in school. She admits to real anxieties in social situations. Mindy Kaling comes across as down to earth and real. You’d want her on a road trip, eating snacks, and talking…always talking.  


Why Not Me? By Mindy Kaling is a breezy read. It’s a humorous collection of essays written by a clever, smart, achieving woman. ‘Nuff said. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Movie Review Madness - IT

Stephen King’s IT is a monster tome – it’s a fast read for a lot of pages. It was a mini-series a long time ago starring Tim Curry. Now a new movie is on the big screen and it is a worthy adaptation. Derry, Maine seems like a charming little town. It’s 1988 and Billy makes a paper boat for little brother Georgie to float in the rain. Alas, a storm drain proves Georgie’s undoing as Pennywise the clown (Bill Skarsgard) smiles and lures him closer…closer…and snatches him. Kids seem to be disappearing in this town. Billy and his band of Losers start investigating and arrive at a very scary solution.

Meanwhile, the bullying of the Losers, the implied home abuse of others, and more hint at the horrors of childhood for so many. Stephen King has always had underlying themes in his work – the daily horror of life versus an otherworldly element. Sewer systems, haunted home, the well, and basements. IT taps into plenty of creaking doors, not to mention the fears in the mind.  This movie is R due to language and subject matter. The pacing, filming, and effects are excellent. The kids are all superb, and IT is a good kickoff to the fall movie season.

Be wary if a red balloon drifts in your direction.


Monday, September 11, 2017

Majestic Monday Moment

Here's your Monday moment - Ray captured this shot of the lion over Labor Day Weekend. We visited the Fort Worth Zoo.  The lion was perched high, very attentive. The view - across the way was the zebras and she kept her eye on the baby zebra. In her brain, "when's lunch?"  Ah, nature.



On another Monday moment - 9/11 - today we remember. I shall never forget.

Peace

Friday, September 8, 2017

Book Review - Anything is Possible

From the cover blurb: Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout explores the whole range of human emotions through the intimate dramas of people struggling to understand themselves and others.
One story offers a contrast between two sisters. In another, a janitor befriends an isolated man in town, and in a recurring theme – Lucy Barton(from a previous book) is a celebrated author -her life and writing affected quite a few lives in town. Several stories show her siblings’ resentments, her classmates shame. This book of connected short stories reverberates with the deep bonds of family, and the hope that comes with reconciliation.

p. 90  Almost always it’s a surprise, the passing of permission to enter a place once seen as eternally closed. And this is how it was for a stunned Linda, who stood that day in that convenience store with the sun falling over packages of corn chips and heard those words of compassion- undeserved….

p.123 setting – a small town in Italy.  Angelina is visiting her mother who has moved there. “Mom,” Angelina said, “that woman is your age, and she’s smoking, and she has her pearls tossed over her neck, and she’s wearing high heels, and she’s pedaling her bike with a basket of stuff in the back.”

“Oh I know honey. It just amazed me when I came here. Then I figured it out – the women are just versions of people pulling up to Walmart in their cars. Only they’re on a bike.”

For some reason, that little blip really amused me. It’s observations like that in these stories that make Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout a quiet read – a glimpse into ordinary lives. 


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Wordless Wednesday




When I was back East to visit my father, I was fortunate to have a weekend with good friends at Spring Lake, NJ.   Helen has a lovely shore home that's on a pond, and also not far from the beach. We enjoyed fabulous weather, fresh salt air, toes in the sand, and plenty of laughs.

plus the bonus of the eclipse

Good times.  Happy September now...will fall crispness arrive soon?

Monday, September 4, 2017

Movie Review Madness - Wind River

Wind River is a small slick indie film. It’s well done, fast paced, and quite a story. Alas, the movie opens with a young lady running barefoot for her life in a snowy region. This does not bode well. Switch to Jeremy Renner (Cody) on his snowmobile. He’s a game warden and is off to hunt a mountain lion that’s been killing livestock. Sadly, he finds the girl and recognizes her – a daughter of a good friend of his. As local police arrive and then the FBI, issues swirl as to jurisdiction. See, the land is part of the Wind River Indian Reservation, and that complicates things.

Cody ends up helping Elizabeth Olsen – the FBI agent out of her element. She’s been pulled in from AZ to Wyoming. So many layers to the story. Cody is divorced from a Native American. Their daughter also died mysteriously several years ago. He’s determined, for his Native American friend Martin’s sake, to find the girl’s killer. Slowly, threads are pulled together. She was seeing a white guy named Matt who worked out on a rig. In flashback, we see that relationship and what transpired. Like the hunter he is, Cody tracks carefully, looks for all the signs, and closes in on the story.


Wind River is not preachy but it does highlight some Native American issues. The poverty, the lawlessness, the plight of missing girls, and other underlying social/historical strains. Meanwhile, the story, the acting, and the conclusion prove to be dramatic. This is a “little” picture that deserves your attention. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Happy Anniversary, Ray

This sums up 28 years of marriage.       September 1, 1989 - we said "I do"

Ray and I went out to breakfast awhile ago. We unwrapped our silverware and Ray handed me this. Awwww!

It must be love. He makes me laugh. I make him laugh. At this juncture, we wouldn't want to have to try to train anyone else to put up with our quirks. We can sit in silence, and enjoy it.

Happy Anniversary, Ray!

Love
Joanne

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Book Review - House of Spies by Daniel Silva

Count on Daniel Silva to raise the summer alert to must read suspense thriller. House of Spies is his latest with our favorite reluctant hero, Gabriel Allon.  From the cover blurb – Allon is back and out for revenge, determined to hunt down the world’s most dangerous terrorist, a shadowy ISIS mastermind known only as Saladin.  There’s a trail of carnage in London’s West End. The attack is brilliant except for one loose thread: the French-Moroccan street criminal and ISIS operative who supplied the combat assault rifles.

Threads lead Allon and his team to Jean Luc Martel. From Saint-Tropez to Casablanca, a trail of money and connections are pieced together. Roles are played. British, American, and Israeli forces work together to fight the global war on terror. Our favorite heroine from the previous book, The Black Widow, is back. Altogether, Gabriel is the skilled hand with the vision to take the time to do it right.

From the cover blurb: House of Spies is more than just riveting entertainment: it is a dazzling tale of avarice and redemption, set against the backdrop of our times.

Daniel Silva obviously does his research. He has an awesome character with Allon and I enjoy our battle tested Israeli leader, art restorer, calm influence, and concerned world citizen. Good writing, interesting world settings, and well-paced tension will keep you turning pages. Silva has another winner.


Monday, August 28, 2017

GLOW

I never watched wrestling.  I had no interest. However , the buzz on GLOW on Netflix captured my attention and I gave it a whirl. Well, hello……..I am hooked.

GLOW. What a great series, and the wrestling is the least of it.  First there’s Ruth (Alison Brie). She’s a very intense young actress, eager to make it. Otherwise she has to keep calling her folks for some money. How embarrassing.  She auditions and makes the rounds for this new series on television. She’s a “professional” and needs information – what’s her character and motivation? She drives the director (played perfectly by the jaded Marc Maron) crazy with her questions. “Hey Strindberg”, he calls her, but she grows on him. He knows how much she cares. Meanwhile, Debbie (Betty Gilpin) is the gorgeous former soap opera star who just had a kid and is feeling fat and unattractive. Plus, complication – Ruth, her best friend, had an affair with her husband.  Awkward!!!

Now, that’s cause for the perfect wrestling match.  Anyway, the show strings together an oddball assortment of women to aim for a Saturday morning slot on very cheap cable TV. We are talking very old school TV here. The key to the show is the variety of women, the characters themselves, and the depth of their stories. It’s awesome.  You really come to care for how they interact and what’s going to happen. They slowly learn how to wrestle, and they care.  And YOU care. Plus Marc Maron’s Sam is so pathetic, you actually care about how shallow he is, but how much he actually cares about these ladies and their potential story lines.

GLOW on Netflix is a little gem and worthy of your attention.  The key is the word CARE and you will. Let’s keep this series going. I am hooked.



Friday, August 25, 2017

Friday - Who Knew?

 Friday filler.  I've been up to PA and no doubt have gathered some new senior tales...time with my father is always a treasure.  Meanwhile, here's some finally gems from our weekend in Oklahoma City. Fun times....action figure museum joy.
 Cool statue on a corner
 Ray in his element.......baseball
Great seats on the first base line

Have a super weekend everybody!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

OKC Adventures - River Sport



Sunday – head to the river and visit the new water entertainment park.  www.riversportokc.org    Wow. Now this is a day of awesome.  White water rafting – it’s a man-made course where our Olympic kayak team trains. You can kayak or join a white water raft expedition. Whew – paddling that hard is tiring. I had no idea what to expect, but it was scary and exhilarating. That water is churning.  We were on the course for about an hour with three runs through the shoots. That was plenty. I felt like a drowned rat, but I lived to tell the tale. I would consider doing it again but not sitting in the front of the boat. (Of course, that is what Ray chose!!!)

Afterward, there’s a very tall water slide, there’s a zip line across the river and back – it’s pretty fast and far and quite a ride. There’s also an action trail you can attempt. You are clipped into the very tall metal mountain – cross rope lines, and hike swinging bridges.  There are plenty of water attractions for kids, plus paddle board, kayaks, and fun.  There’s something for the whole family and the pricing is typical for a water park day. The staff is helpful and safety is a plus.

So, who knew?  Now I know and you know that Oklahoma City offers a fairly close destination weekend of adventure and learning. And yes, you still have to sing “Oklahoma, where the wind comes whistling down the plain….”


Monday, August 21, 2017

OKC Adventures - Water Taxi





 So, based on time we did not see the OKC Museum of Art, the Myriad Botanical Gardens, or the American Banjo Museum.  Those will have to be for another trip. Instead we headed back to Bricktown and caught a water taxi.  The mile long ride is fun and relaxing. Enjoy the murals on the walls, cruise under bridges, and start thinking about where you want to dine. Restaurants and bars line the area. Folks sit outdoors eating and laughing. The area is festive and you are ready to join the party. The taxi continues to cruise to Lower Bricktown and a park where you can see the Oklahoma Land Run Monument. There’s a lot of bronze – it’s impressive. It’s still a work in progress with a final count of forty five figures expected. The horses, cattle, and wagons that are there now are nifty.

Dinner – we ate at a Mardi Gras, New Orleans style restaurant. Very tasty fish tacos, mardi gras nachos, and Cajun fettucine. We rolled out of there.

Onward to baseball – the AAA Oklahoma Dodgers play at a very pleasant ballpark right in the heart of Bricktown. Family friendly and the right price – reasonable. Alas, the Dodgers did not win for us, but we enjoyed a good time.