Category: The Serious Stuff


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?

 

 

Feeling the Losses

Be aware, I am about to be very self centered for this post.

This has been a sad week for me.

Our family lost two pets to a brutal and vicious attack by neighborhood dogs.

Our rabbit, Thumper.

Our rabbit, Thumper.

Our pet rabbits lived in a hutch in the back yard. They had a wonderful shady spot, were loved and adored. They had just mated only last week.

But all that changed when two dogs tipped over the hutch, ripped off the bottom screening, and killed our female. My husband heard the commotion and ran outside to run them off. Except the biggest one decided to try and let him know who was boss.

He managed to get pictures and we filed a police report. Dale turned the hutch so it could not be tipped again. We thought it might be OK for Busy but it wasn’t.

Two days later they came back for Busy. They crawled under, pulled off the screen, and killed the bunny. Left him for dead in the yard. When my husband came back from his walk with our dog, he saw a vulture in the yard. Coyotes would have taken him away to have a good meal.

As you might imagine, I have devastated kids. I feel bereft and I wonder if the police an really do anything beyond slap the owners on the wrist.

If I were a shooting woman, I would sit in my yard with a shot gun and wait for those beasts to show up again. However, I need a FOID card and even then I am not safe from the long arm of the law.

That was loss #1. Loss #2 came when I looked at my writing group’s yahoo board. It was decided to shut down. We are kaput. No discussion, no nothing. It’s over.

Image by Patuska

Image by Patuska

This is the only place I have that I can talk about how characters are developing, how they are changing and growing without people looking at me like I am crazy. I see those pitying looks when people don’t realize how characters become real to you. But when you have guided and directed, sometimes they let you know when the wrong road is heading up.

It is the only place where I can be a grammar or spelling wonk and not be out of place. It is the only place I can be my nerdy self.

I am really going to miss it. Worse yet, I need to find another writer’s group.

Maybe that will take some of the pain away.

I hope.

 

 

 

 

Image from Facebook

Image from Facebook

 

I saw this meme on Facebook this morning. So nice, so nostalgic.

But I am trying to figure out which America this person is missing because there are parts of America that I never want to see again.

Which ones you ask?

Well, there is that part that thought it was OK for women to not be educated, to only run a house, raise kids, and take care of the husband. Women were not expected to have money, jobs, credit ratings, mortgages, or enough education to have a job/career to pay for all of the above in case the husband died or ran off.

Which leads to my other favorite part of America. The one that said it was OK to beat the crap out of your wife and/or children. Police, neighbors, friends, and family would look the other way if they knew that a woman was getting beat up on a regular basis. After all, she just fell down the stairs or ran into a door or something like that.

Now that makes me thing about the shame of sexual abuse. If a family member or friend or priest was abusing your kids, it was a shameful secret for the victim. It would take years of education for our society to realize that rape – no matter what – is wrong. Even so, we still like to think it is the victim’s fault.

Another old part of America I do not miss? Racism that lead to lynching and beat downs of black men who did something wrong such as look at a white woman, speak out against racism, become a little bit more than what was expected. Combine that with the mean and hateful behavior of separate schools, water fountains, and inability to sit at a luncheon counter. This was a happy place to live?

Am I saying our country is perfect now?

No way because we have some serious problems. There are shootings all over the place that are killing innocent kids. Maybe that doesn’t matter to you because it is not happening in your neighborhood or city but it is happening. Who needs car bombing in the market square when there are shootings every week?

We have veterans not getting the medical care or assistance from various programs by the government for no other reason than our politicians voted against them in Washington. Must be nice to be able to say ‘thank you for your service’ right before denying the VA more money to give healthcare to those vets. Could that be the reason why there are waiting lists at VA hospitals across the country?

We need some public works programs to get people back to work. Bridges and roads and public buildings need repair. Find that money to do  rebuilding because these projects will help the country more than anything else. Guys working on a new bridge bring that money home to their families which then get spent at stores and gas stations and on mortgages.

So now, look at that picture once again. Write in the comment section what parts of America do you miss and what you would change about now because we have a lot of fixing to do, some of it is left over baggage. I wonder if each of us picked a project to get a group of friends to work on, what would get accomplished?

Image from Facebook

Image from Facebook

 

 

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

Starting earlier this year with the release of Son of God, it is being said that 2014 is the year of the biblical movie.

Just looking at a list of movies shows that there are at least four major motion pictures with biblical or faith-based themes to them.

Last week, an independent movie called God’s Not Dead starring Kevin Sorbo was released. The story is about a college student who feels pressured to give up his faith by an atheist professor. Instead of giving in, that kid played by Shane Harper (Spencer from Good Luck, Charlie), chooses to defend his beliefs and does so scientifically.

While the critics have not been kind, I am interested in seeing this movie. I want to see how they portray the conflict and how our main character, Josh, is able to defend his beliefs.

NoahThis week, the big production of Noah makes it to the big screen. Russell Crowe stars as the man who is given the task to build a boat that will save his family and many of the creatures of the earth. I became excited about the movie after watching several trailers showing water rushing down and the very human story of all those people being left behind.

It has been reported that the word “God” is not used in this movie. Instead other names are used, which actually is appropriate considering this is a story from a Jewish standpoint. In the Jewish tradition, you do not call “God” by his name because that word is so powerful. “Yaweh” is a more common term that is allowable. I also read that the director, Darren Aronofsky, has been wanting to make this film for years but it took his great success with Black Swan to make that possible.

In April, Heaven is For Real comes to the big screen starring Greg Kinnear as the father of a young boy who states he saw Jesus when the boy was very sick with appendicitis. Adapted from the book of the same title, I expect a very gentle telling of this story. I find Greg Kinnear can be very subtle and engaging, he is able to tell a story well. I wonder how they will deal with various parts of the book that show a family in crisis as well as the moments of joy.

This fall, Nicholas Cage stars in the remake of Left Behind. I wonder what kind of performance he will give knowing how intense this actor can be. Finally, we will go through Exodus starring Christian Bale (Batman series) as Moses and Ridley Scott in the director’s chair in the month of December.

Kelly Riley, Connor Corum, and Greg Kinnear in Heaven is For Real

Kelly Riley, Connor Corum, and Greg Kinnear in Heaven is For Real

What some might say is that Hollywood realizes there is some good money to be made by playing to Christian believers. But I believe these movies do not get made unless producers believe they will actually get their money back.

I also believe that there are people hungry for movies about faith and belief. Otherwise a movie such as Heaven is For Real may have never seen the light of day. Noah and Exodus are made for the spectacle they create. But movies like Heaven are made for us normal people to ponder.

Until next week, see you in the Rental Aisle.

Are you a youth group leader?

Then you know what I am about to say is true.

Picture by Xandert

Picture by Xandert

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we get stale. How many times can we do the same lesson to a bunch of kids who may or may not want to listen?

There is a scene in Soul Surfer in which the kids are listening to their youth group leader  quietly and attentively.

That was real fiction because I have never had that happen. When I mention it to the kids, they usually say “you know that is a movie, right? It is not real life.”

So the other night when the kids gathered, I asked then to pair up and gave them six pieces of paper. I tried to hum the theme song from “The Dating Game” before I announced that tonight we were going to play a new game.

I called it “Things I Don’t Remember Talking About in Youth Group?” or something similar.

The kids laughed because they realized I wanted to make what we talk about fun but not like a test. At some point I wanted to see if they remembered anything we talk about because most of the time they are busy trying to out-talk me.

The five questions went like this:

*Who was the guy who freed the Jews from Egypt?

* Name one of Jacob’s two wives.

* What was the first name that Paul went by?

* Name six of the twelve disciples?

* Where was Jesus born and where did he die?

Bonus Question: How many people did David have to kill to prove to Saul he was worthy of being King?

The answers were pretty interesting, especially when everyone remember Rachel but not Leah. And the most disciples anyone could remember was four. Well, guess what the next few lessons will be focusing on. Yep, we are learning about each disciple.

Poster Image from IMDb.com

Poster Image from IMDb.com

As we move close to Easter and the resurrection, it is important to know about the men who kept the movement going after Jesus left the earth.

I am not sure if I will go into the deaths of each man but their lives before meeting holds interesting facts. None of these men were perfect, like the rest of us.

I can’t wait for next week’s youth group. I just need a way to make it fun.

Suggestions, anyone?

stormtight

This morning around 4:00 a.m., my husband woke me up to say he thought something was going on with our dog.

I smelled the smell of poop and thought the dog had been sick.

But it was worse than that.

He was dying as he tried to get up the stairs to be with Mom and Dad one last time. I sat with him until he breathed his last. I patted him and tried to be comforting. I told him it was okay to go on.

A google search suggested it could have been a heart attack or a stroke, especially since there had been no signs of problems in the last 24 hours.

Here is a better accounting from my husband’s blog called Rambles With Storm at his Stray Casts website.

As the news came out this week regarding Woody Allen and Dylan Farrow’s accusation towards her father, I wondered if this affects how I feel about Woody Allen the artist. Can I support a man, artistically, who has this terrible accusation rolling about?

Poster Image

Poster Image

Currently, Midnight in Paris sits waiting to be viewed at my house. I really do love this Woody Allen movie in which Owen Wilson is magically transported to the Roaring Twenties and the ex-pats era. He meets the Fitzgeralds, Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway. Giants. Gods, really, in the literary world. To have Gertrude Stein edit your manuscript is a dream come true.

My head hurts as I think about this because I feel the same way about Roman Polanski. He is a brilliant film director, The Pianist was/is a masterpiece that made us understand the suffering of the Holocaust even more deeply. And yet, Polanski has not been in this country for over 30 years because he is accused of drugging and molesting a 13-year-old girl.  Other girls/women have made similar claims against him. PianistEven being a Holocaust survivor cannot gild that fact over.

Pedophiles. We scorn them, hate them and never want to believe their victims. Who could do such a thing to a young child?

Who wants to believe that a priest, a coach, a trusted friend, a parent could ever do such a wrong to a child?

We don’t so we give that person a pass. They move on to a different job, a different family, a different child.

Philip Seymour HoffmanWhat about Philip Seymour Hoffman? Does our image of him as an actor/artist change because now we know about his heroin addiction? We know on the morning he was supposed to be picking up his kids for a day of fun, he started it off with getting high. We can laugh about parents who need wine to deal with their kids. But really, did Phil need that high so badly? Was he a bad person because the fix was sooooo important to him – beyond kids, beyond personal relationships, beyond work?

Heath LedgerIt gives me flashbacks to Heath Ledger – so talented, so young, so driven. His were legal prescription drugs but still, too many are too many. Like Hoffman, Ledger and his companion, Michelle Williams, were on the outs because of his addictions. Knowing these people cannot function without their drugs, does that change my mind about their work, their artistry?

The same goes for Hemingway. I know his reputation – the boozing, the women, the multiple wives. But as I read A Movable Feast in which Hemingway examines his Paris years, I find myself liking him and enjoying his writing. I want to get to know him better, I want to know his opinion about other writers. While I dislike Hemingway personally, I see what draws people to him. He has style, he Movable Feastlikes fun, and he is not afraid to get into a fight. When Hemingway writes about why a young boy should always carry a knife, it makes me realize his homophobia might have had some real basis to it.

Back to the original question – Does an artist’s personal life affect how we view their art?

As much as I want to say ‘yes,’ the truth may be more of a ‘no.’ I enjoy the work of Allen and Polanski, of Hoffman and Ledger. Their abilities have a certain pull, a certain truth about them. I would have never said I feel the same about Hemingway till I started reading this memoir.

When it comes to the person, I cannot say the same. Allen and Polanski have such allegations that are reprehensible. Hoffman, Ledger, and Hemingway fought against a different demon – one of addiction that most will tell you is a battle royale with addiction being the victor most of the time. The latter three I can excuse or make exceptions. But of the first two, I cannot.

I probably will watch movies by Allen or Polanski again but I will always think about their predatory behavior as well and wonder how this has affected the movie I am watching.

If that is the case, then the answer will always be yes. I might be able to make excuses for some. But knowing what I know, I will always look for clues of those unearthed secrets in their works. I will wonder if there weren’t signs of it before the accusation.

I will always wonder.

Dear Family, Friends, and Readers,

 

You may have noticed that I have been AWOL for some time. You might have seen that I have not posted for a while.

It is not because I am bored or lost my column or having a bout of depression. But I have been busy. Busy with kids, busy with extra work hours, busy with the novel. I took on some extra roles that require more time than I originally thought. I have a novel that is near completion. I have piles of sewing  and craft projects as well as some cleaning projects that require my attention.

Image by Patuska

Image by Patuska

So something needs to give and that something is this blog. Oh, I will start posting my column on a regular basis once more. But sadly, I am not visiting your blogs or replying to your comments as I should. My focus will be on finishing that novel, taking care of the craft and sewing pile, cleaning up some of the piles that have built up around my house.

My plan is to return on the new year and get back to regular posts and visiting of all of you who have supported this blog for so long. There have been many new visitors and, believe me, I plan to visit you as well.

Please wave if you see me speed by. Soon, very soon, I will have time to visit once more.

 

Karyn

What I see…

… when I see pictures of the late Trayvon Martin?

I see a 17-year-old boy trying to be tough, trying to be brash.

He does it with his clothes, with his language, with his actions. He seems to know as a black male he is a target, a never-ending target. And being young, he acts out and shows poor judgement that makes a parent bang their head against the wall.

Undated picture of Trayvon Martin, image from Wikipedia

Undated picture of Trayvon Martin, image from Wikipedia

Fact is, I know many Travon Martins.

The difference is the ones I see come from poor white families. Maybe there is a learning disability or hyper-active disorder thrown in. Maybe there is no structure at home or a mom desperately trying to get the kid to live with structure.

Some of these kids care more than you would think. And that leads them to reach out to other people who are hurting.

So when I see people trying to defame Martin by using his texts or Facebook postings, I get really upset. These postings and messages are a part of the image he tried to project. The actions, befriending a girl picked on for her appearance, speaks of a different boy.

His death is being depicted as a bigger issue, that of a young black man shot and killed by a man who looks white while being half-Hispanic. While that might have led to Zimmerman to profile Martin, to me it is something more.

It is profiling a young male, wearing a hoodie, as being a dangerous suspect. It is following  a young man who is a stranger to the neighborhood watch volunteer who has tagged that young man as being a dangerous element while his actions do not suggest any such thing. And when the suspect turns and confronts his stalker, everything goes wrong.

If I am the parent of that young man, I am angry and I want the shooter to get justice.

I want the inconsistent elements of this story explained. I want to know why the neighborhood watch guy did not follow instructions from the dispatcher. I want to know why he told Sean Hannity he did not know about the ‘Stand Your Ground Law’ when he had learned about it in a class before the shooting in which he received a grade of ‘A.’ I want to know why he followed my son for doing nothing more than walking to a convenience, buying a drink and a bag of candy, and then walking home.

We know there will be repercussions should Zimmerman get off. I am not talking about the inevitable riots and demonstrations no matter what the verdict. I am talking about young men who appear suspicious while doing nothing that are harmed by an over zealous neighborhood watch person. And that watch person will feel justified because that kid was ‘up to no good or on drugs or something.’

Think I don’t know what I am talking about? I have seen some of these kids up close and personal in my youth group. Some are in my very white, very small town. They walk around and they will give you lip. They will dress in the manner of a gang member even if they are not in a gang. They might be going to ‘alternative school’ if their acting-out behavior has gotten them kicked out of regular school.

If they have a family member with issues with the law or is a no-good-nick, they are watched just a little more by law enforcement even if they are a ‘good kid.’ The kids know this and react to it. Some fight back, some find a way out-of-town, others decide to live up to the undeserved reputation.

Image by Chilombiano

Image by Chilombiano

They will be black, white, or any other color. But I guarantee they will be the young men that people consider ‘troubled,’ young men who dress rough and talk tough, they may not start the fight but they sure as hell are going to finish it. I bet you can think of one such kid right now without too much trouble.

Trayvon Martin was not an anomaly. He lives in every town in every state of our nation within every grade of every school. Every single one of us know a ‘Trayvon’ who got to grow up, to mature, to be better, or not. Most of us know a teenage ‘Trayvon’ and the jury is still out on whether or not they will make it to the age of 25.

If I had my way, more people would reach out to those prickly creatures. Instead of complaining about the troubled ones, maybe they could befriend them, be a trusted adult other than their parent that is reliable. Yes, you will get bitten some of the time and you have to set boundaries. But if that is what it takes to prevent one more death such as Trayvon’s, wouldn’t it be worth it?

Wouldn’t it?

Editor’s note:

The Roycroft Report has a post up with a picture of Trayvon Martin after he died that was first shown at MSNBC. It is painful and graphic to see the eyes staring at nothing. It should not matter if you are a libetard or repubdickan, the death of a young man should be shocking.

 

Editor’s Note 7-14-13:

Now that we have a ‘not guilty’ verdict, I feel certain this will give many neighborhood watch guys the right to use a gun on their patrols or walk arounds. Do we teach these guys to use more caution or teach the young men how to act around extra vigilant neighborhood watch guys? I don’t know.

Over the years I have heard many people talk about the “damn kids” and the trouble they cause and that they are the reason why are country is going to hell in a hand basket.

Tattoos, and consumerism and the lack of God in their lives is bringing this country down. Alcohol and drug abuse has never been like it is now. And what about these marriages that do not stick together.

I hear it every week and quite frankly IT PISSES ME OFF.

We sit there and complain about the kids and young people these days. Just like they did in Plato’s day, just like they did during the Jazz Age and the 1960s. I hate to break it to you oldsters, but we got the example how not to live from somewhere. And I am pointing my finger right at you!

I remember when the talk was that the role of President was going to jump over the Baby Boomers. Things were going to jump from George H.W Bush to someone who was not even born in the Baby Boomer era BECAUSE that group was too selfish, too shallow.

Hello Bill Clinton, W, and Obama – three men who were born in the Baby boomer era and became president. So much for the jump-over.

That is not what I want to talk about today. Instead, I want to bring up a man who was featured in Sports Illustrated this week. This man was a football coach at a high school in Ohio that managed to survive a shooting. While three students died, more deaths were prevented when this offensive line coach chased after the shooter.

image from sports.yahoo.com

image from sports.yahoo.com

He did this while the shooter tried to take aim at him. He did this even though it could have ended his life and made a widow out of his wife. And when he chased the kid out of the school, he went back to the first room, the school cafeteria, and sat with those three boys as they were dying.

That takes guts. But this is not the end of his story. Months later after dealing with depression and PTSS, this coach hears of an opportunity to work at a high school that his own high school had merged into. The school is in a bad town, poorer than poor tax base, and kids who were just told by their old coach they were worthless.

He never understood why God save him that awful day when a student started firing in the school cafeteria. But he decided to take a chance, to let abandoned kids know what it is like to have an adult care about you.

So for those of you who complain about kids today and do nothing but sit on your butt, here is an example of a man who is doing something. What you should be asking is “Why can’t I be more like Frank Hall?”

Well, why can’t you?

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