Archive for August, 2012


Flashes of Kate

Family Movie Night

 

By Karyn Bowman

 

This past weekend was the first parade for the grade school band.

 

It had been a great weekend with the weather until Sunday morning when it started raining. And I wondered if it would continue raining.

 

Thankfully, the rain stopped long enough to watch the parade to the very end and get enough candy to fill a Halloween pumpkin. There were some great cars along with fire trucks and tractors galore. There were singers, veterans, and boy scouts – classic Americana .

 

By the way, the band sounded great.

 

Last week, the kids went back to school and it was none too soon. With the passing of fair and band camp, so goes summer.

 

But as the days of summer are ending, I have been thinking about Kate Winslet. I love watching movies with this British actress because she is so interesting to watch. Even when she is in a romantic comedy that is nothing special, she lights up the screen.

 

When I watch her in The Holiday, I love how her character is very vulnerable and open to new relationships. Her character is suffering from a big blow as she watches the man she loves become engaged to another woman. She is able to take a vacation in L.A. when Cameron Diaz responds to her ad for house sharing.

 

Both women are suffering from broken hearts but it is Winslet who captures our eye as she charms not only Jack Black but the old codger Eli Wallach with her wit and charm. This movie is a lightweight jaunt compared to some of her other offerings.

 

In The Reader, she plays a German nurse who is accused of war crimes years after WWII. One of the witnesses testifying against her is the man with whom she had an affair during the war years. He was a teen at the time and a part of their courtship was him reading novels to her as she was illiterate.

 

Another difficult movie is Little Children in which Winslet is a wife and mother who starts an affair with a stay-at-home dad. A Doctoral graduate in literature, Winslet has given it all up for a stifling marriage and rambunctious child. But a part of her yearns for something more. There is also a subplot about a sex offender who comes home from jail and has a difficult time settling back in due to harassment. This film is meant for adults and makes one wonder at how life moves and breathes.

 

The last movie that I really love is The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind also starring Jim Carrey. The movie is set in the near future in which people can choose to have certain memories erased from their mind. Carrey and Winslet was an item but after a particularly nasty fight that leads to their break-up, she has him erased from her mind. So Carrey decides to do the same.

 

Of course, it is not that easy. Flashes keep coming back that they cannot explain. They find themselves circling around each other until they realize maybe, just maybe there was a reason for their loving emotions.

 

I would love to see Winslet do a “family” movie just because I wonder what she would do with it.

 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Now for that favorite time of the month when I talk about the book I’ve read for the ChickLitPlus reading challenge.

Last month, I totally bailed on the reading challenge. Not that I meant to but July just passed by so fast.  I missed out on a bunch of things.

So I did what I do best. I watched a few more episodes of Ghost Adventures and rested my feet as they hurt, hurt, hurt. Then I got off my butt and started getting myself into gear.

I cleaned a few things, did some gardening, got ready for the rummage sale at church as well as the back-to-school chores. I still need to clean up the area around my bed but I have been throwing stuff out.

One of the rules for this reading challenge is to read two debut novels during the year. I have read one debut novel this year and jumped at the chance to read another that appears on one of Samantha’s blog tours.

Image from Barnesandnoble.com

So this month’s selection is Breaking The Rules by Cat Lavoie. This first novel from the Quebec province native is set in New York City and feels as if this is written by a native who knows their way around.

The story focuses on lifelong best friends, Roxanne and Ollie, who live together in a small but great apartment.

Ollie is leaving soon to take a new assignment in London as a Green architect.   Roxanne plans to stay in her position as personal assistant to a Public Relations maven. She dreams of owning her own restaurant and is a great cook.

On his last night in New York, Roxanne throws a farewell party and manages to forget to invite Ollie’s girlfriend. Roxanne’s boyfriend shows up outside but does not join the party because he does not like any of Roxanne’s friends.

The morning Ollie leaves, he has to tell Roxy she cannot come to the airport because Rachel, the girlfriend, does not want her there. So she sees him off and before Ollie gets in the cab, they share a stunning kiss that makes them re-think everything.

However, life cannot stop. Ollie gets on the plane and Roxy goes back to work. One night she comes home to find both of her sisters at her apartment. Izzy is a lawyer having a mid-life crisis. Steffi is six months pregnant and refusing to talk about the father.

Roxy also receives a slight promotion at work, helping to publicize the new restaurant of a star chef. And her fiancee, Ethan, has different ideas about their wedding than she does. Oh and there is the looming mother-in-law who uses her nose to look down at Roxy.

With all of that action, there is plenty of drama to draw on. Roxy’x bad boss, her battle-ax future-mother-in-law, rollicking best friends and a boyfriend that is a jack-ass. Why does the slightly over-weight girl always find the one guy who treats them like crap?

Author Cat Lavoie; Image from Chick Lit Plus

Anyway, once I started reading it was really difficult to stop. I stayed up way later than I should have because I enjoyed being with Roxy and her sisters. Roxy is fun, an admitted procrastinator and someone who feels stuck in life. She loves food, is a loyal friend but also lives on the river of Denial. In other words, she is a lot like most of us who has a domineering sister, a cute baby sister and parents who try to have their girls be as independent as possible.

The writing is lively and interesting. And when the twists start coming, I thought they were imaginative and real. Most characters are developed well and we understand why Roxy hangs with them. Why she is in love with Ethan is a mystery.

This was a great book to read for relaxation and I would recommend it. Cat Lavoie has a good ear for dialogue and how bad people act in various situations.

I also need to mention that this was my first time with an e-book. If Lavoie’s book had not been a good read, I would have given up on it. I am not a fan of reading from the computer with the light in the back ground and my having to sit up the whole time. I like to read in bed while lying down and this was not a good experience for me.

You are probably wondering how it all ends. Do Ollie and Roxy figure out their feelings? What is going on with Izzy and Steffi? What happens with the bad boss?   Is Ethan really involved in this relationship? Well, you know how it goes, read the book to find out.

This is Cat Lavoie’s debut novel and it can be found at Barnes and Noble in a nook version for $2.99.

Review: The Hunger Games

Family Movie Night

 

By Karyn Bowman

 

Since Harry Potter came on the scene, movie studios have been looking for a book series that would captivate young audience members and their parents into watching a package deal.

 

Many books came to the big screen: The Spiderwick Chronicles, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Narnia, Judy Moody, Bezzus and Ramona.  Some worked out while others didn’t make it beyond the first film.

 

I hear a lot of people say “Well, they are just family movies. You shouldn’t expect much.”

 

I disagree with that because if I am plunking down my cold hard cash – which I do not have in abundance – I want the product to be of good quality. I want a family movie that has a well-told story and good action. I want characters to be believable. If my heart gets a little broken, that is Okay.

 

Movie Poster Image from IMDb.com

When The Hunger Games was announced as a new movie project, I knew little about the book. My daughter had read it which meant I stole her copy and read it for myself.

 

I really loved the book. It was exciting, subversive, and dark. I could see all of these characters living in a dangerous world, where any sort of rebellion was quickly slammed down. At the end of the book, I understood why Katniss never wanted to have children.

 

When the movie came out last spring, we were happy that it was going to be at one of our favorite drive-in movie theaters. We took our seven-year-old with us but I do not believe this was a movie he should have seen. The age of ten might be the best starting age for this movie.

 

You understand that as the games begin and we watched Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), Petra (Josh Hutcherson) and the other tributes navigate the playing field. We see what their life is like back home and come to understand the grinding level of poverty. They have to take everything they know to a treacherous Capitol where image is everything and the more outlandish the better.

 

The story telling is well done, drawing on the constant fear. The cinematography is beautiful and nearly seamless with the necessary CGI effects. What grabs my attention, however, is the performances by Lawrence, Hutcherson and Woody Harrelson. These three people have to see the worst of humanity through a process not of their choosing. To see how each character copes is as interesting as the game itself.

 

If you have read the book first, be aware that not every detail makes it into the movie. That is simply the way of movie transformation, especially when you have a limited time frame to tell the story. We will not get the whole story of the connection between Katniss and Petra . Nor will some of the subtleties of other characters be on display.

 

What we do get is suspense, great storytelling, a connection to characters and a look into a world that could be ours if things had gone differently.

 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Sticking My Foot Into It

The past few weeks, I have been seriously AWOL.

I have thrown up a post here and there. I have dropped in on a few of the other bloggers that I enjoy but the truth is I took a break from the blogging world.

So where have I been?

Image by Grafixer

First of all, we had County Fair. It was a great week in which the rabbits stayed at the fair grounds. We showed them and the guinea pigs. My daughter made a poster about her turtle and fishing. She already has an idea for her sports fishing project for next year. My son worked on a theater portfolio which made it as a state fair delegate.

A week later, we headed to the State Fair with another family so that four projects – fudge, cheese muffins, the portfolio and a paper collage project – could be judged at the state level.

The week following our State Fair trip I was working on the rummage sale for our church. We set up tables, organized items, priced them, and prepared for people to walk in on our preview sale for Friday Night and the regular sale on Saturday. Then there was the clean-up.

I bagged up clothes to put in a donation bin, shoes to go to Share Your Souls shoe charity, puzzles went to a senior apartment center and left over baked goods were served during our Sunday morning gathering.

What I have been doing is checking in on Facebook with updates of items we had for sale.  But then I allowed myself to join a conversation about a placard that stated 29% of military members were denied the right to vote.

Image from a facebook friend’s page.

I am not sure why it rankled me so much. Maybe it was because the placard did not tell the whole story.  Nor did the placard mention that the story initially broke in the fall of 2011.

So who is responsible for getting that ballot out? Well, that would be the county clerk’s job once a request has been made and those ballots have to be sent out 45 days before the election. Once you receive your ballot you have so much time to get it back and that depends on where you are stationed.

People not having the ability to vote taken away from them is bothersome. But this story is a year old. I want to know how or if this issue has been resolved because all of my searching found nothing new.

So I am asking all of you who know someone in the military fighting overseas if this happened to them. If it did, were they able to resolve the problems from the 2010 vote? Are you helping to ensure that your person in the military who is overseas is able to vote in the upcoming election?

You might question why I am asking. There is a part of me that wants to know if anyone tried to resolve the situation.  Another part of me wants to have the last word and say “See, this is not a conspiracy. This is bad behavior on the part of some 3,000+ county clerks.”

In the end, knowing the whole story is what I am after. Did this truly affect someone anyone knows? Did they make efforts to be able to vote in the next election no matter what? Do they need help from family members who are stateside in order to get their right to vote? Did the story that ran on Military.com make a difference at all?

You tell me.

 

 

 

 

The Opening Reminiscings

Family Movie Night

 

By Karyn Bowman

 

Did you watch the opening of the Olympics in London?

 

 

Daniel Craig in “Casino Royale;” Image from IMDb.com

Oh, I did and was happily blown away by most of it. From the beginning film of Queen Elizabeth II jumping out of a military helicopter with Daniel Craig as James Bond to the lighting of the copper bowls that would rise up to become the Olympic cauldron, I was spellbound for most of it.

 

I found myself crying when I remembered that the last time the Brits hosted the Olympics, The Queen’s father had been king at the time. She was a newlywed. At some point I read how poor the country was in 1948. Then again, they were a last-minute substitute when a fire destroyed the other site.

 

This time, the Olympics are the hope of the East End of London that has seen much economic turmoil. With new buildings and all of the activity, natives to the area are hoping for an economic boom. One of those people includes David Beckham, world football/soccer star who grew up on the East End .

 

So many movies went through my head as I watched the ceremonies. Some are for adults while others can be shared with children. Of course, I thought of the James Bond movies. Sean Connery (From Russia with Love) may be the best of all the Bonds but Daniel Craig (Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace) is a close second in my book. And he is only followed by Pierce Brosnan (Die Another Day and The World is Not Enough).

 

 

Kenneth Branaugh as “Henry V;” Image from IMDb.com

Kenneth Branaugh played the part of the Industrialist who transforms England from an agrarian nation to the Industrial revolution. He delivered his lines with the enthusiasm of a Shakespearian actor. How can we forget Branaugh’s speech in Henry V as he bolsters the morale of his troops.  How can we forget his silliness as Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

 

When JK Rowling took the stage and read a portion from Peter Pan, I nearly started bawling. While Peter Pan did not make an appearance, Captain Hook did as well as other villains from British children’s literature. Lord Voldemort drew himself up so tall and I remembered how much I loved the books and movie about Harry Potter.

 

But it was not Harry that drove away the evil creatures of the night. It was a nanny, Mary Poppins with her umbrella and satchel. My daughter asked about her and while I explained that Mary was a magical character I realized that we need to see this movie. Refrains of ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’ suddenly went through my head.

 

During the montage of music, I was lost on some of the references but loved the moment from Trainspotting and Four Weddings and a Funeral. I sang along with so many songs, including ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’

 

 

Rowan Atkinson as “Johnny English;” Image from IMDb.com

Perhaps my most favorite moment though was with Rowan Atkinson as Mr. Bean playing in the orchestra. I think any movie improves just by having Atkinson in a scene or two as he was in Love Actually. I love what ever he does and would rent the wonderfully bad Johnny English. Also, catch him as The Black Adder. Priceless is his comedy.

 

What a way to open the Olympics – totally eccentric, totally British, totally wonderful.

 

 Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Working the Hosta Bed

Hosta plants are valued because they live in the shade.

Happily.

But if you only have one variety, they can be boring. This is my hosta garden before I started playing with it. It had one type of hosta and nothing else.

I hated it.

So one year I tried planting snapdragons at the edges and the scalloped spaces between plants in an effort to add color. I also added a second hosta variety.  That was okay but not enough. Last year, I took leftover impatiens and planted them against the cement block wall of the house. I liked the look and wanted to explore the idea further.

The hosta garden now

So this year I went farther with the idea of planting shade friendly flowering plants. Can you see the openings? Instead of a wall of hosta, I now have pockets filled with coleus in a pink and green.

Coleus, snapdragon and impatiens mixed with hostas

In the back there are various colors of impatiens, snapdragons and dianthus. These are my three go-to plants that do well in shade on a consistent basis.

What I like is how the garden looks from different angles. I like how the colors mix and play. Now this picture does show a need for some weeding and that will happen – soon.

I would like to place some taller plants in the back for next year. During the K3 Kultivators’ garden walk this year I saw hosta gardens with red Gerbera daisies mixed in. And I can’t wait to try that out.

But I have to admit, I am happy with the results of this garden bed re-do.

Have you re-worked a garden bed?

 

 

 

Check it Out!

Normally, I would post something about movies today – or at least thinking about it. But today you can see my work over at The 4 Mothers 1Blog. These four gals are Canadians who write about all aspects of parenting – the good, bad and downright ugly. But they do so in a honest manner that I love. I do not read them enough.

But today, after you read my guest post, I would hope that you would read some of their other posts. I read one the other day about how the other three got the fourth to write about her miscarriage. I have read posts about traveling and dealing with hospital stays and the frustration of people who do not get why they have to make classroom snack concessions for your child’s allergies.

Poignant, tangible, touching. I think these words describe their blog and make it worth your time to spend a little bit with Marcelle, Carol, Nathalie and Beth-Anne.

Image

Goats

For those of you visiting my blog for the first time, thank you for stopping by. You will find liberal rants, garden pictures, movie reviews, recipes, and stories of my impossibly cute children and dog. You will also find stories of my battle with weight and book reviews. There is a quilt picture in the archives as well. But that is my house and my life – a messy hodge-podge slowly taking form.

Now if you will excuse me, it is County Fair week. And there is a Red Velvet Funnel Cake with my name on it.

Family Movie Night

 

By Karyn Bowman

 

The shooting in Colorado began asking questions about the role of movies in in our lives.

 

As the experts try to find out why the young man brought four guns and a ton of ammo to the theater, the rest of us wonder if his actions were the cause of violent movies and video

 

I am inclined to say no because I remember when the Dungeons and Dragons were blamed for a few crimes as well as some suicides and the path to mental illness. In the end, studies showed that people who played role games are less likely than non-gamers to commit suicide.

 

While as I write this the Aurora Movie Theater Shooter has not been publicly diagnosed with any mental illness, the truth is that anything can become a focal point, and a deranged mind can be twisted and turned into something requiring dramatic action.

 

The camp shooter in Norway thought he was putting an end to inclusive societal beliefs. Depression was the reason for the man who shot up an Amish school house. Revenge can be put down for any number of domestic or work-related shootings.

 

John Hinkley Jr. thought shooting President Reagan would win him favorable attention from actress Jodie Foster. Mark Chapman wanted to kill someone famous and decided John Lennon was the easiest person on his list.

 

While movies and the actors that perform in them can fill our imaginations, I do not believe only that element leads to a killing spree or increased aggression in a person. There are almost always mitigating factors  - be it the body’s internal chemist shifting the balance of neurotransmitters in a bad way or a response to a horrendous situation – at work that creates a pattern of thought that makes violence appear to be a good way to solve problems. Movie characters simply give a focus for those thoughts.

 

So what do we do about an event like this? If we know we have a relative who has these issues – too much anger, a willingness to use violence to solve problems, a larger-than-life fixation on one subject – we watch them. Watch them for acceleration of behavior, watch them for unusual behavior. Report them to the police even if it gives you a strange look from the officer(s).

 

Funnily enough, the movie we ended up watching this week was incredibly imaginative and lively. As various scenes played out I thought I was inside the head of a planner from the movie Inception. All spring and summer, I had wanted to rent The Adventures of Tin-Tin but the kids always had a reason why we should notI finally won out, maybe because we saw most of the other choices.

 

The story is about Tin-Tin, a newspaper reporter, who buys a model ship at a flea market. But this ship holds secrets to a treasure wanted by several other people who will let nothing stop them from attaining it. Tin-Tin and his dog connect with a captain in pursuit of the treasure and the man who stands in their way.

 

Steven Spielberg directed this wonderful piece of animation that changes scenes and moves quickly. He  had fallen i love with the Tin-Tin comics, buying the movie rights in the early 80s. I loved watching scenes collapse on themselves and build into something just as wonderful and grand as the scene before it.

 

Guess what? The kids liked it just as much as I did. It might have been a little saucy for them but what a great time.

 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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