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This is a Kids Movie?

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

The other day my daughter and one of her girlfriends made a comment about some cute and cuddly creature they wanted to buy or own or simply possess.

When I asked “what happens if it gets wet?,” the girls looked at me as if they had no idea what I was talking about. Then I remembered that they had not grown up in the 80s and knew nothing about Gremlins.

Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

How is it that these girls who have watched The Breakfast Club knew nothing about one of the biggest movies of that decade? Gremlins sparked a wild toy craze and a not-so-great-sequel several years later.

To me if a sequel takes more than two years to get from script to screen, there is something wrong. But that is another story for another day. In watching Gremlins, I came to realize I never watched the movie. When it originally came out, I was in college and too cool for a kid’s movie. I mean, there are puppets in it. I was not interested. It wasn’t until the other night that I saw it for the first time.

What Gremlins portrays and what it appears to be about are two different things.

The story starts with with an inventor father giving his son an early Christmas gift of a mogwai that he bought in a store in Chinatown. There are three simple rules for taking care of one of these creatures. Do not get them wet, do not feed them after midnight, and do not take them out into direct sunlight or even shine a bright light on them.

Billy, as portrayed sweetly by Zack Galligan, breaks the first rule inadvertently. The second rule is broken when his clock is stopped at 11:30 p.m., making him think he still has time to feed the critters.

What starts off as a cute movie about small town life and the meaning of the season, becomes something different. The send up to It’s A Wonderful Life turns into a parody of sorts to monster movies from the 50s and 60s. But these are deadly monsters. The town drunk and a science teacher are the first victims and their mischief reaches out to the rest of this small city until they finally come together at the movie theater.

GremlinsThis is a movie that’s strangely conflicted. I have heard it described as a kid’s movie but I would not show it to kids under the age of ten. There are too many elements, such as Phoebe Cate’s story about her father’s disappearance and the death of various gremlins, that are too adult in context. Nor is it a classic horror or monster movie that would appeal to older teens or adults because the mayhem is light weight in comparison to the standards of even 80s horror and monster movies.

Can you have a cutesy monster movie? I guess this movie would be the proof. If I was to share it with anyone, I guess it would be with tween kids and those who do not really like the full-on gore of most monster movies. However, if I never see it again, I am pretty much okay with that, too.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Halloween This Way Comes

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

Halloween approaches.

For whatever reasons, summer has left us all too early and fall barely started before becoming colder than desired.

I love fall weather. I like being able to run around in a tee-shirt and a sweater. Because my body temperature tends to run high, I love that time of year when a jacket is all you need to get by. I even love it when my car is hotter on the inside and I am taking off my jacket because it is too warm.

It seems almost impossible that just a week ago it was so warm that I was running around in shorts. I tried to do it on Monday and Tuesday but already the temperature dipped lower than was comfortable. Somehow it makes all of the Halloween decorations I see up throughout town all that more appropriate. Of course, there are pumpkins and cornstalks all over, left from Pumpkin Fest. Left over scarecrows have moved from the light posts of Station Street to the front yards. But more and more skeletons are creeping out of the closets and storerooms. Purple and orange lights brighten the early evening.

Notice the flying bats

Notice the flying bats

It is too early for carved jack-o-lanterns from real pumpkins. I hear if you wash a carved pumpkin with a bleach/water solution or cover the insides with vaseline, the pumpkin will last longer. I am almost willing to try it out.

What I am noticing is an influx of scary movies. But at my house, the most watched horror program is American Horror Story which can be seen on the FX channel. Each season has a different premise, a different storyline. The first season focused n a family that moves into a restored mansion. They slowly discover that the house is haunted by anyone who has ever died there. But what they do not realize is that almost everyone they have contact with in that house is a ghost.

American Horror Story

American Horror Story – First Season from blastr.com

The second season is set in an insane asylum where evil lurks within the heart of nearly every person who works there. The third season followed a girls’ school that is meant for witches while the fourth season takes us to a freak show.

I catch glimpses of the show, partially because I am not a horror genre fan. But what I see are wonderful bits of acting and writing. The tension is palatable. My son says he likes the suspense of the show, that while you might be able to predict what is going to happen next it is the scenes after wards that are not so easy.

I have a friend who has grown attached to this show as well. She says it is addicting and before you know it, you have watched an entire season.

The thing is, this is a show for teens and adults. It is not meant for small kids and I do not allow my ten year old in the room if his older brother is in the middle of a show. The context as much as anything else feels more adult to me and not appropriate for a child in that tween age-range or younger.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

What’s Coming up?

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

Did you tick everything off your summer bucket list?

Beach 2014We didn’t manage half of what we wanted to do although this past weekend we did the one thing I have been dreaming about. We went to the Indiana Dunes state park, sat on the beach, and played in the water. It was a wonderous sun-soaked time, one of the few days that felt truly warm enough to get out on the beach.

In a summer that has seemed less than sizzling, so has gone the summer movie season.

Beyond a few movies that were adaptations from Young Adult books that were meaningful explorations of emotion and identity, there were few movies this summer that made me say ‘yes, I have to see That!”

However, I do not feel the same way about the movies coming up in the fall.

One of the most interesting pictures coming out is Gone Girl starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. Their marriage seems idyllic until she disappears on their fifth wedding anniversary.

The movie is based on the best selling suspense/thriller novel by Gillian Flynn and promises to be exciting and a possible Oscar contender.

Gone Girl with Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike

Gone Girl with Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike

The story is about a couple who move from New York to Missouri after a job loss. The husband took the last of his wife’s trust fund money to start a bar in his home town that succeeds and supports the couple as well as the husband’s sister. But when the wife turns up missing, the husband becomes the number one suspect, things begin to get complicated.

I am fascinated because not only is the life of this couple comes under the microscope, the husband gets extra hard scrutiny from the media. In this case, it is a Nancy Grace type who tends to judge the case first and let the facts speak towards her conclusion.

Excited? I know I am.

For my kids, the big movie that has them excited in The Hunger Games. This is the third movie in the series from the third book. Because so much material needs to be covered to make fans happy, the movie versions will break the third book in half so we get two movies to cover one book.

This time around, Katniss must find a way to bring Peeta home from the Capitol. Nor can she deny what must be her role in this revolution. She must become the mocking jay and appear to lead the fight against President Snow.

The next installment of The Hunger Games should be filled with explosions, excitement, and intrigue. I know I am excited to see it.

Finally, we will see the end of the Hobbit trilogy. Finally, we will find out if the dwarves get their mountain back and if the dragon does real damage to the lake village. We will find out if Bilbo gets back home. There is much to find out and the beauty part if that it will all look fantastic because that’s how Peter Jackson rolls.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

As many of you know, I am working on a battle against weight.

I used to weigh 225 pounds. I have been told that being tall makes that weight look less than it is. But let’s face it, a 48 inch waist is still a 48 inch waist. No amount of height is going to make that waist look any smaller than it really is.

I am also dealing with the beginnings of arthritis which really sucks some days. My energy gets zapped and before I know it, I am taking a two hour nap and not the 20 minute nap I was hoping to do instead. I get those flares of a small temp with no reason for it, especially in the winter time. Fatigue is not my friend and I try to work around it all of the time.

In the last few years, I have taken off a lot of weight and 7 inches around the middle. Those seven inches were hard won as I have a deep and abiding love for food. I love trying new recipes, I love things with fat and sugar. If it is deep fried, well, I am in heaven. But research has told me those things are not good for me so I have learned to cut back.

Soda is once a week, cookies and candy are eaten less often. I try to stick to water and ice tea for drinks while snacking on popcorn a little more often.

But still, I could lose about 10 more pounds. The diet and exercise has been good but I need a little extra push. So I thought I would take a gander at the Paleo diet. Some people call it the Caveman diet.

Paleoista by Nell StephensonI picked up Paleoista  by Nell Stephenson. Look at that cover, she looks hip and happy with legs way too long for her body. But that is beside the point.

Then I began reading the book. I was OK with giving up processed food. I mean, I know how to make sauces and such, I shouldn’t rely on noodles from a bag or sauce from a jar.

Eating more fresh fruit and vegetables actually sound like a good idea to me. That is how I have lost a lot of my weight by incorporating fresh or frozen veggies and fruits in the diet. Eating more protein seemed like a good idea as well.

Then I got to the part that said no grains because people in the paleo era were nomadic, therefore they did not have time to plant and wait for grains to grow. That meant no bread, no pasta, no donuts, no cereal, no cake.

After that I go to the part that said no legumes because that would have taken too much time to grow before the group had to pick up and leave again. So no refried beans, no white kidney beans in many of my soups, no beans in the chili or any number of dishes.

But the worst came when she said no dairy because traveling with a cow or goat would not have happened. Which means no milk, cheese, ice cream, sour cream, cottage cheese, or cream cheese.

All credibility was lost when the author made the statement that these three groups are not really food groups and therefore you are not missing out on anything.

Really?

I have learned the hard way that wheat bread – not white bread- is the way to control my sugars from doing the big surge. I have learned that Barilla’s pasta with semolina is a better choice for me than even Prince (even if Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day).

I have learned that I feel better when beans are a part of my soups. I feel better when I eat them. As for milk, I only drink whole milk so that the fat slows down the uptake of the sugar in the milk. But I rarely drink more than a half a cup on any given day.

I like butter on my freshly cooked corn-on-the-cob, I like cream cheese on my bagels.

But here is what I do not do. I do not eat like a pig. I know my serving sizes and I stick to them. I allow myself days to cheat and eat some forbidden things because to totally take them away would be killer. I would never stay on that diet.

Perhaps the Paleo diet worked for the author of this book. But for me, it would have been a total wash. I refuse to follow any diet that says stop eating entire food groups.

So I guess I will go back to what I was doing with eating more veggies and fruits, drinking water, and getting plenty of exercise. Perhaps I should up that walking distance again. More exercise seems to be the best  answer to any of my weight problems in the long run.

What diet books have you read lately that seemed like a bust after you started reading the book?

 

 

Planet of the Apes

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

This week is going to be a blur.

I already know it because it is the start of 4H judging season. This past Monday was the food judging night. We prepared by making cookies, sweet rolls, and cheese muffins.

Wednesday is the clothing judging day. And then starts the race to get all of the rest of the projects done. Along the way some of our chosen projects will get pushed to the wayside. We did not get them done and therefore, it is not going to happen. I am not sure if that is better or worse than the year someone’s corn stalks were attacked by raccoons or when it was so dry there were not enough tomatoes to put on a plate.

To me that is OK because there is always next year. Maybe something was too much of a challenge for this year but next year it will make more sense or have more relevance. At least, that is what I am hoping.

Planet of the Apes - DawnThis past weekend saw the release of Dawn of The Planet of the Apes and it is a movie that is being called better than the 2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It is very rare that a sequel is better than the original movie. The only other movies in my book like that are Toy Story 2 and Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Both movies continue the story in spectacular fashion while making their own compelling and watchable film.

Over the weekend, one of the cable stations ran the 2011 Planet of the Apes movie. As I watched with my son, I noticed that certain elements from the original Charleston Heston movie had to be retained. The line, the famous line of “Get your hands off of him, you damned dirty ape” was re-written but included when a hateful zoo keeper tortures Caesar for fun.

It is a long movie, set in San Fransico. James Franco plays Will, a scientist looking for a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease that plagues his father, John Lithgow. Caeser was born to an ape who was given a drug to help cure Alzheimer’s but it also made her smarter. Caeser inherits these abilities which become known after Will takes him home.

There is much, much more. But what I find most interesting of all is how the Apes develop. The back story involves a man-made virus. And the teens at my house felt that this was a reasonable concern. I told them that the original movie gave nuclear war as the explanation.

Planet of the Apes - RiseRemember the final scene when Heston comes upon the top of the Statue of Liberty on the beach? It is then that he realizes Man destroyed the planet somehow, that this is how the Apes came to take control. Funny how the explanation for what destroys life as we know it now comes in the final scene of the 2011 movie as well.

Both movies are compelling while dealing with our fears. Just as my generation feared nuclear destruction, it seems our children also fear a man-made tool of destruction. But this one is created in a lab.

Wondering who should watch this movie? I would go with tweens and older. I personally think parts of this movie is too long and drawn out to keep the attention of the younger kids. Some of the actions might be too violent for them as well.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Dinosaur Garden

Dinosaur in the garden

 

For the Love of Benedict

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

Because I see so many movies, I am always surprised when I begin to see certain actors turn up again and again.

Sometimes it is because they are the flavor/the cutie of the moment. And sometimes it is because that actor is so good everyone wants to use them in every possible way.

The latest actor who seems to be everywhere is Benedict Cumberbatch. His most famous role is that of Sherlock Holmes in the BBC series, Sherlock. The Sherlock Holmes character seems to be enjoying a bit of revival with the Guy Ritchie movies, the BBC series starring Cumberbatch, and the CBS series starring Johnny Lee Miller. I have watched them all and appreciate the difference of each production.

With Cumberbatch’s performance, there is the usual high level of confidence in his knowledge about, well, everything. This Sherlock doesn’t suffer fools although he can be kind at times as well. What I love most about Cumberbatch’s performance is the insouciance he gives Sherlock. The way he is a petulant child despite his high intelligence.

Holmes is a bear to deal with in the best of circumstances but when he is without a case he is libel to start shooting a gun at the awful wallpaper of his flat. And once he gets a case, he happily steps on the coffee table to get to where he wants to go like a teenager making their way to the kitchen for food.

The thing is, as I watch all of the movies I meant to see last fall, I start noticing Cumberbatch in many of them. Last weekend, I watched August:Osage County starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts.The story is about a family gathering together after the disappearance of the patriarch. Soon it becomes a funeral gathering. But it is a mean spirited one in which two women from an older generation feel the need to tear down their spouses and children at every turn.

Cumberbatch plays the son of the aunt who has fallen in love with one of his cousins. It is a brilliant performance in that he does not play a confident man or a smart one. Little Charles is simply trying to get through life and is happy he has found someone those little joys.

You could almost say the same about his performance as a plantation and slave owner in 12 Years a Slave. It is not that his character is suprememly smart or stupid. He is a man of his times in which you needed slaves to run a succesful plantation. His character might have some decency but not enough, not enough to stand up to those things he knows are wrong.

Finally, there is his character in Star Trek Into Darkness. Cumberbatch plays Khan with steely eyed fearsomeness. He is smart, crafty, willing to blame it all on anyone but himself. Fierce, loyal to his fellow creatures, and willing to double cross all because the means do justify the ends.

There are two other movies I have not seen yet that feature Cumberbatch. The first is The Fifth Estate about Julian Assange of WikiLeaks. The second movie is The Hobbit:The Desolation of Smaug in which Cumberbatch voices the dragon. I have them on my list of must-see movies because for Adults, Cumberbatch is always a great actor to watch.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

In Camp NaNoWriMo

Did I tell you I am taking a complete leap of faith?

This summer I jumped on the Camp NaNoWriMo band wagon. It is the write-a-novel-in-a-month online community that normally runs in November. For the months of April and July it runs in a ‘less’ structured format so that what people are working on include poetry, screenplays, dissertations, or anything they want at the word count best suits their project.

For the next 29 day, I am writing 1600 or more words a day in order to complete my second novel. While the first one is done and in need of some heavy duty editing, I really needed a break from it. It is time to put that work aside and get deep into a different story.

2014-Participant-Facebook-Cover 2

For now, I am living with Fiona who has issues. Like none of the rest of us do. But she has them and needs to work some things out. Every time I write another chapter, I find out a little bit more about this art professor/potter.

It also means I have a stack of art books to look through so I can understand her world just a little bit more. I am having fun with this and so far, I am keeping up. I hope by the end of the month I can say I have written a book and need to find a literary agent.

What leaps are you taking this summer?

 

 

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

This has been one of the strangest springs in my lifetime.

The winter lasted so long that the buds on my dogwood tree never formed and, therefore, never bloomed. Come to think of it, I do not remember seeing Magnolia trees in bloom this year either.

The locust trees bloomed but it seemed like a very, very short time that they were out. Finally, last week, the Linden trees set out their flowers and the soft gardenia scent drifted through the air as I walked my puppy along our usual route. The smell lasted six days, maybe a week. It would make me stop in my tracks and look for the trees giving off the scent.

I am not sure how many of these trees exist in the parkways around town. All I know is that each year in the month of June, I truly appreciate them.

Fault in our StarsOne of the things that have been happening with our family is my girl’s need to see some movies that come from Young Adult literature.

A few weeks ago, she went with her friends to see The Fault in Our Stars starring Shailene Woodley. It is based on the book of the same name by John Green. I read it, loved it, and sanctioned her going. The story is about a girl with terminal cancer who meets and falls in love with a boy who lost his leg to cancer.

While the story takes some twists and turns that you don’t expect, there is one thing that you do expect: There is going to be a whole lot of crying. In fact, the girls told me virtually everyone in the theater was sniffling or weeping. There was no way to avoid it.

The group thought it was a great movie and really enjoyed it.

Then this past weekend, we watched The Perks of Being a Wallfower starring Emma Watson. This is a story about a freshman boy who is bullied and teased in high school because he is smart. But then he finds a group. It starts with Patrick in his shop class. Then Charlie meets Patrick’s step sister, Sam. Soon, he is in their group.

The perks of being a wallflowerAs we race to the end, there are teenage dramas and high school milestones. Couplings, divisions and re-groupings occur. But at the very end we learn a secret of what makes Charlie tick. It is devastating and yet the clues were there all along. We didn’t quite connect them together.

It ended with me explaining how the story got “there,” pointing out the clues. The next day as we talked about the Wallflowers movie and the Fault in Our Stars movie, the girl made the comment that while she really liked the latter, it was the former that was the better movie.

When I pressed for an answer, the reply wasn’t ‘because.’ The reply was that Wallflowers was a richer and deeper movie. While Fault in Our Stars was a good movie, it wasn’t as good as the other one.

Which explains why I like the flowers of the Linden tree above all others. The scent is richer, denser, a little more complex. The hints of sadness make the moments of triumph all that much striking.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

It is summer time and your beach- read is not going to be some long-winded tome on butterflies, mosses, or goldfinches and the people who explore these topics.

 

Image from Chick Lit Plus

Image from Chick Lit Plus

Really, who wants to read five hundred pages when there is a wonderful breeze slipping past as the sun dances on the waves of the water? And that drink at your side might have a little extra kick in it.

 

I am ready for something light-weight and fun when Chick Lit Plus sent me a copy of Tax Cut by Michelle Lynn Seigfried.

 

This is Seigfried’s second novel featuring single-mom Chelsea Alton, a New Jersey municipal clerk who won a settlement against her former employer for unsafe working conditions. This has allowed her to stay home with her adorable 2-year-old girl. But the settlement is getting low and while being at home is great, Chelsea is starting to miss work.

 

When she gets a call from a friend alerting her to a job opening, well, she decides to jump on it. Mom and Dad are retired and willing to babysit the adorable granddaughter. Things progress at work but as Chelsea settles in, she begins to notice funny things. They are not connected until chips and pieces appear to fit  it all together with disappearing residents, ramblings of a woman with dementia, and bosses seen talking to people they shouldn’t be otherwise.

 

Then there is the subplot of the potential boyfriend. He is a single dad and a great kisser. But Chris cannot seem to make a relationship work from a perfectly willing woman who is crazy about him.

 

Image from Chick Lit Plus

Image from Chick Lit Plus

I found Tax Cut to be an interesting novel that is a perfect vacation read. Want a little time to yourself then go and hang out with Chelsea and her friend, Bonnie. Bonnie is everything a side kick needs to be; she is sassy, confident, and not without a few resources and connections. She works well with Chelsea whether it is in the office with a crude co-worker or checking out why a former employee left.

 

While the pacing could have been a little tighter, it did not stop me from enjoying the book. Plus, I am very familiar with the mom routines that show up so I felt as if I was someplace I already knew. When we finally get to the action, let me just say it goes very quick. But it is an end that satisfy, especially for those of you with a boss you hated.

 

Would I read it again? That is always my big question and the answer is yes. On those days when I am gifted with some time to myself, I am willing to hang out with Chelsea and Bonnie once more.

 

To Purchase Tax Cut (Jersey Shore Mystery Series #2):

 Amazon:  http://t.co/dZvYKmEy51

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tax-cut-michele-seigfried/1117789686?ean=9781494215330

To Purchase Red Tape (Jersey Shore Mystery Series #1):

Amazon:  http://t.co/asOvRiAD9J

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/red-tape-michele-seigfried/1115098453?ean=9781482012880

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