Fast and (Not Always) Furious

I don’t “watch” TV. The last series I actually watched was the last season or two of NYPD Blue, back in the early ‘00’s. My life was just too complicated to worry about being home to catch a program, because nine times out of ten, it just wasn’t going to happen. And my life was so much better for it! Free time I never had before.

But, thanks to the availability of On-Demand programming, whether streaming Hulu or Amazon or Netflix or Hoopla, I do get to see some shows – on my time, when I’m able, and it’s no crime if today’s not one of those days. If it’s a television show, we’ll watch one episode during dinner – everyone around the table, talking and watching. That’s how I got through six seasons of Sons of Anarchy, two fabulous seasons of Penny Dreadful, a full 12-season recap of NYPD Blue, and now my husband has me watching Blue Bloods, a mild police drama starring Tom Selleck, though I still think of him as Magnum, P.I., and the original Sweeney Todd himself, Len Cariou, whom I adore in anything.

Blue Bloods is okay. It’s got good actors, it’s entertaining, but it’s not deep. Each episode is self-contained, bright and polished like an old Quinn-Martin production, and none of the gritty realism and continued drama of NYPD Blue. It’s very clean and family oriented, but the writing is not always the greatest, with occasional weak scripts and clichéd lines. Because each episode wraps up on its own, nothing can get too much meat to it.

The last episode I watched had to do with insurance fraud over a valuable car – the car allegedly from the Steve McQueen movie Bullitt, which they touted as one of the greatest car chase scenes ever.

So of course we had to watch it.

My dad’s favorite sport was cars – race cars – not the NASCAR stock stuff, but the elegant turns of the Monaco Gran Prix, the high-speed chase of Formula One, or the Holy Car Holiday in our house, The Indy 500. I thought Jackie Stewart was the greatest announcer in history. And I learned to drive stick on my parents’ automatics just by the engine sounds my dad would make when he pretended he was driving a race car – when I finally did learn stick, it was effortless because I could tell when to shift by the sound of the engine.  So I don’t mind a bit if I have to watch a car-chase movie. And I guess I’ve watched a lot of them.

Bullitt, as a movie, is typical of the late-60’s-early-70’s dark genre: a slow movie where actors must have been paid by the line, because nobody says anything unless they absolutely have to, all the actors are deadpan, and the sound quality is horrible because they really did just take a cheap microphone out onto the street, with little soundtrack, and there’s no great conclusion, they just sort of end with a “Life Stinks” blackout. What was strange was realizing not only there was Zero airport security, but no paramedics yet (1968; paramedics weren’t even an idea until 1971), rotary phones – not even push button, glass IV bottles, and no gloves during surgery. San Francisco lends itself to many great film chases (such as the comedy What’s Up Doc?), and this one does not disappoint, pitting a 1968 Ford Mustang 390 GT against a 1968 Dodge Charger 440 Magnum. That they manage to hold those corners is impressive.

Fandango listed their account of the ten best car-chase movies (a bad thing to think about as summer approaches and pavement is dry and the weather begs you to take a long drive) as:

  1. Bullitt
  2. Max Mad: The Road Warrior (still my favorite movie of all time)
  3. To Live and Die in LA
  4. Deathproof
  5. The Blues Brothers
  6. Ronin (I think this should be number 2 myself – it’s truly awesome)
  7. Smokey and the Bandit (How can you not love this one?)
  8. Gone in 60 Seconds (the 1974 original, though I like the remake better as a film)
  9. The French Connection (more famous than Bullitt, but the same era of filmmaking)
  10. Terminator 2: Judgment Day

For myself, I’d add Batman: The Dark Knight (anyone who can flip a tractor trailer end over end ranks high in my book), and the new Bourne movie, Jason Bourne, which opens with a wicked car chase through Las Vegas that got me from the first go.

Even if you don’t like car movies or car chases, I highly recommend the movie Ronin, as well as French Connection, Jason Bourne, and even Bullitt, movies where the storyline takes precedence and the chase is inconsequential and there’s no harsh screeching music track – like the Fast and Furious films, the thinking person’s car chase films; a little something for everyone.

 

Oprah’s Books of Summer 2014

readingO, The Oprah Magazine has announced their picks for summer reading.  Here’s a sampling of some of the titles.  Grab a chair and a cool drink and enjoy some summer reading!

bloodBlood Will Out: The True Story of Murder, A Mystery and a Masquerade by Walter Kirn – In the summer of 1998, Walter Kirn—then an aspiring novelist struggling with impending fatherhood and a dissolving marriage—set out on a peculiar, fateful errand: to personally deliver a crippled hunting dog from his home in Montana to the New York apartment of one Clark Rockefeller, a secretive young banker and art collector who had adopted the dog over the Internet. Thus began a fifteen-year relationship that drew Kirn deep into the fun-house world of an outlandish, eccentric son of privilege who ultimately would be unmasked as a brazen serial impostor, child kidnapper, and brutal murderer.vacationers

The Vacationers by Emma Straub – For the Posts, a two-week trip to the Balearic island of Mallorca with their extended family and friends is a celebration: Franny and Jim are observing their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, and their daughter, Sylvia, has graduated from high school. The sunlit island, its mountains and beaches, its tapas and tennis courts, also promise an escape from the tensions simmering at home in Manhattan. But all does not go according to plan: over the course of the vacation, secrets come to light, old and new humiliations are experienced, childhood rivalries resurface, and ancient wounds are exacerbated.

chinaChina Dolls by Lisa See – It’s 1938 in San Francisco: a world’s fair is preparing to open on Treasure Island, a war is brewing overseas, and the city is alive with possibilities. Grace, Helen, and Ruby, three young women from very different backgrounds, meet by chance at the exclusive and glamorous Forbidden City nightclub. Grace Lee, an American-born Chinese girl, has fled the Midwest with nothing but heartache, talent, and a pair of dancing shoes. Helen Fong lives with her extended family in Chinatown, where her traditional parents insist that she guard her reputation like a piece of jade. The stunning Ruby Tom challenges the boundaries of convention at every turn with her defiant attitude and no-holds-barred ambition.  The girls become fast friends, relying on one another through unexpected challenges and shifting fortunes.i am having

I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum – Despite the success of his first solo show in Paris and the support of his brilliant French wife and young daughter, thirty-four-year-old British artist Richard Haddon is too busy mourning the loss of his American mistress to a famous cutlery designer to appreciate his fortune.  But after Richard discovers that a painting he originally made for his wife, Anne—when they were first married and deeply in love—has sold, it shocks him back to reality and he resolves to reinvest wholeheartedly in his family life…just in time for his wife to learn the extent of his affair. Rudderless and remorseful, Richard embarks on a series of misguided attempts to win Anne back while focusing his creative energy on a provocative art piece to prove that he’s still the man she once loved.

one moreOne More Thing by B.J. Novak – A boy wins a $100,000 prize in a box of Frosted Flakes—only to discover that claiming the winnings might unravel his family. A woman sets out to seduce motivational speaker Tony Robbins—turning for help to the famed motivator himself. A new arrival in Heaven, overwhelmed with options, procrastinates over a long-ago promise to visit his grandmother. We meet Sophia, the first artificially intelligent being capable of love, who falls for a man who might not be ready for it himself; a vengeance-minded hare, obsessed with scoring a rematch against the tortoise who ruined his life; and post-college friends who try to figure out how to host an intervention in the era of Facebook.  Along the way, we learn why wearing a red T-shirt every day is the key to finding love, how February got its name, and why the stock market is sometimes just  down.care and

The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear –  By July 1914, the ties between Kezia Marchant and Thea Brissenden, friends since girlhood, have become strained—by Thea’s passionate embrace of women’s suffrage, and by the imminent marriage of Kezia to Thea’s brother, Tom, who runs the family farm. When Kezia and Tom wed just a month before war is declared between Britain and Germany, Thea’s gift to Kezia is a book on household management—a veiled criticism of the bride’s prosaic life to come. Yet when Tom enlists to fight for his country and Thea is drawn reluctantly onto the battlefield, the farm becomes Kezia’s responsibility. Each must find a way to endure the ensuing cataclysm and turmoil.

mockingThe Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee by Marja Mills –  In 2001, the Lee sisters opened their door to Chicago Tribune journalist Marja Mills. It was the beginning of a long conversation—and a great friendship.

In 2004, with the Lees’ blessing, Mills moved into the house next door to the sisters. She spent the next eighteen months there, sharing coffee at McDonalds and trips to the Laundromat with Nelle, feeding the ducks and going out for catfish supper with the sisters, and exploring all over lower Alabama with the Lees’ inner circle of friends.

Nelle shared her love of history, literature, and the Southern way of life with Mills, as well as her keen sense of how journalism should be practiced. As the sisters decided to let Mills tell their story, Nelle helped make sure she was getting the story—and the South—right. Alice, the keeper of the Lee family history, shared the stories of their family.mercy

Mercy of a Rude Stream by Henry Roth – This book marks the astonishing return of Henry RothA book of time, memory, and desire, this new novel is set in the New York of World War I: a colorful vibrant, carelessly brutal city where an immigrant boy, Ira Stigmanm is coming of age. Like Joyce’s Stephen Dedalus, Ira begins to discover the genius and the burden of his imagination, as he takes his first tentative steps toward adulthood.

quickThe Quick by Lauren Owen – 1892: James Norbury, a shy would-be poet newly down from Oxford, finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society and finds love in an unexpected quarter. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Alarmed, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him. In the sinister, labyrinthine London that greets her, she uncovers a hidden, supernatural city populated by unforgettable characters: a female rope walker turned vigilante, a street urchin with a deadly secret, and the chilling “Doctor Knife.” But the answer to her brother’s disappearance ultimately lies within the doors of the exclusive, secretive Aegolius Club, whose predatory members include the most ambitious, and most bloodthirsty, men in England.

 

Linda Reads: Let Me Be The One by Bella Andre

let meLet Me Be The One  is book six in The Sullivans series.  All of the books in this series can be read alone.   This series of books is beautifully written and a joy to read.

Ryan and Vicki were best friends in high school, but have long since gone their separate ways – Vicki to Europe as a sculptor and Ryan as a star baseball pitcher in San Francisco.   After a failed marriage, Vicki finds herself in San Francisco applying for a prestigious position in the art community and finds herself in an awkward position with one of the judges.   Even though she hasn’t seen him in years, her first thought is to call Ryan for help.

Ryan volunteers to be Vicki’s “pretend boyfriend”  to protect her from the unwanted advances of an influential judge.  But both Vicki and Ryan have trouble with the “pretend” part.  Neither wants to ruin their friendship by becoming lovers, but that’s proving to be quite difficult.  No matter how hard they try, their “love” for each other overtakes their “friendship”.

Touching, sweet, romantic and sexy, with likeable characters, this book is my favorite so far of the series.

Linda Reads: You’re The One By Robin Kaye

This is book two in Robin Kaye’s Bad Boys of Red Hook series.  They do not have to be read in order.  Book one is Back To You and is available at the Cheshire Library.  The series concentrates on three men who bounced around the foster care system until a New York cop took them under his wing.

You’re The One centers around Logan Blaise, the manager of a successful Napa Valley winery.  He’s engaged to the winery’s owner’s daughter and living the high life.  When his foster father becomes ill, Logan heads back to New York to temporarily oversee his father’s restaurant, the Crow’s Nest.  No sooner does he arrive, the chef has a family emergency and has to quit.

Skye Maxwell comes from a famous restaurant family in San Francisco.  She has four brothers who were gifted with their own restaurants on their 30th birthday.  Being an exceptional chef, all Skye has ever wanted was a kitchen/restaurant of her own and she expects to receive her own restaurant on her 30th birthday.   Instead, she is promoted to Business Manager of all the family restaurants.   Devastated,  she very quietly and secretly disappears.  She heads to New York City, hoping  to find a job as a chef on her own merits, not on her family’s reputation.   She ends up in Brooklyn and stumbles upon the chef wanted sign in the Crow’s Nest’s window.

Right away there is an attraction between Logan and Skye – a love/hate attraction.  Both characters have to overcome formidable obstacles in their pursuit of love, happiness, independence, and acceptance.  Both have families interfering with their journey, both have self-doubts to overcome, but neither one can deny the incredible chemistry that exists between them.

Ms. Kaye writes a heartwarming, believable story set in the wonderful backdrop of Brooklyn and San Francisco.  It is warm, funny and very entertaining.  Secondary characters add another interesting layer to a very well-written story.