Welcome to the Friday 5ive, a weekly-ish blog post featuring five things that caught my attention this week. It's hard to believe it's July already, summer is moving too quickly.
1) We like to go see the New York Yankees play at Yankee Stadium once a year, and this year we were invited to join someone in their Legends seats on the first base line right next to the Yankees dugout. The game started off rocky when the Oakland A's scored three runs in the top of the first, but the Yankees came back in the bottom of the first with an Aaron Judge two-run homer. They went on to win the game, and I got a photo of Judge coming in from the outfield before the game. He is very tall.
2) While traveling home from Florida on the 4th of July, and got to see the beginning of the Macy's Fireworks Spectacular as our car came down the FDR along the East River where they shoot off the fireworks. That was a pretty cool visual, like a scene from a rom-com movie. We finished watching the show from our balcony, which is also pretty cool.
3) Our friends came over for dinner one night in Florida and they brought over an appetizer tray with figs from their garden. It reminded us of the trip we all took to Italy a few years ago where we picked figs from the vineyard where we were staying. It was such a great memory, and the Florida figs were delicious.5) I got a lot of reading in last week. Linda Holmes Flying Solo takes the reader back to Calcasset, Maine, the setting for her wonderful novel Evvie Drakes Starts Over. Flying Solo introduces us to Laurie, a 40 year old woman who breaks off her engagement and returns home to clean out her beloved great-aunt's home. She reevaluates her future after going through her aunt's effects, and there's mystery involving a wooden duck decoy that goes missing and may or may not be the work of a famous artist, and hot librarian. It's a great beach read. (My review is here.)
4) Everyone was talking about The Old Man on FX and since I'm a big Jeff Bridges and John Lithgow fan, we tuned in. It was a bit of a slow start for me, but now I'm all in. It's about a retired-in-hiding CIA agent played by Jeff Bridges who is being targeted by the US government for his involvement in Afghanistan years ago. John Lithgow plays an FBI agent who has a past with Bridges, and his loyalties are in question. Amy Brenneman unfortunately finds herself in the middle of it all. It's very cat-and-mouse, and the flashbacks can be confusing at first. But I did guess one plot twist early on, so that makes me proud. New episodes drop on Thursdays and it streams on Hulu the next day.
I continued my streak of reading moving memoirs with Zibby Owens' Bookends. Zibby is the host of the popular podcast Moms Don't Have Time To Read and she has become a big book influencer with a regular gig recommending books on Good Morning America. She talks about being painfully shy as a child, losing herself in reading and writing, her weight and self-esteem issues, things many women can relate to (even if most of us can't relate to her wealthy upbringing on the Upper East Side on New York City, a privilege she readily acknowledges.) Owens dealt with so much loss in life, losing her best friend in the North Tower on 9/11, her grandfather, her stepbrother, and a best friend from high school all in rapid succession. She also lost her mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law tragically at the beginning of COVID. What I most admire about Owens is her ability to pick herself up and move forward. She sees opportunity where many see obstacles, and has created a wonderful career uplifting authors and readers, and now herself. Her love affair with husband number two Kyle is a sweet surprise, and I liked how she protects the privacy of her children. Bookends is inspiring and honest, and her extensive Reading List at the end of the book is a treasure trove for readers like myself.
One of my go-to authors is Anthony Marra. I loved his Constellations of Vital Phenomena (set in Chechnya during their war with Russia) and The Tsar of Love and Techno, (a collection of stories set in the USSR). He is a brilliant writer. His new novel, Mercury Pictures Presents tells two stories, one set in Italy during the rein of Mussolini, and the other in California during WWII. After Maria inadvertantly causes her defense lawyer father to be imprisoned in Italy for his subversive actions, she and her mother run away to California to live with relatives. Maria gets a job at Mercury Pictures where her talent leads her to a job as an assistant to Artie Feldman, the head of the midsize film production company. We toggle back and forth between Maria's new life in California and her father's life as he becomes a tutor for young Nino, who has aspirations to become a war photographer. This magnificient book packs so much into it, Marra creates these worlds for the reader that feel like we are a part of the story instead of just reading it. I learned so much about the movie industry at that time and their ties to the war effort. It makes me want to dive deeper into this time period and read more. This is a deep, thoughtful, meaty book, one I'd love to start right over and reread. I think this might be his best one yet, and that is saying something.
Have a safe, happy, healthy week.
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