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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

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

The other night when I got home from a softball game with the daughter in tow, there was a sheet of paper on my porch table.

It was about our little Country Market, about the roof caving in, about how we should support the owners in their time of need.

That bit of light you see through the door is sky.

That bit of light you see through the door is sky.

It has been very strange to not have that market available. There have been dozens of times in which I have thought to myself that I need to go to the store and pick up this, that, and the other. My husband says he has done the same. Then we remember we cannot go into the store.

That ‘oh’ hangs in the air before the thud of realization.

A store like that makes a town. It was a big factor in our decision to move here. So whenever I am with people I ask “What do you know?” I ask “Are they going to re-open?”

The response for the first-timers are always shock and disbelief. That was my own reaction when I came home from work that Tuesday. One of my son’s friends was bunking on the futon because they were evacuated from their apartment.

But then we talk about what that little store means, how getting fresh meat and produce really matters. With the closing of that store, even if it is only for a short time, we are suddenly in a food desert. Dollar General might have limit choices of meat but fresh fruits and veggies are not there.

It is sad and frustrating. So my wishes and hopes are that Larry and Sandy decided to re-open, that any and all repair work goes smoothly. And that our little store re-opens soon so that  we can mix and mingle  once more while we buy our groceries as a community.

I thought about movies that focused on small businesses. The first that came to mind was Barbershop starring Ice Cube as a man who has inherited his father’s barbershop on the south side of Chicago. Ice Cube is able to cut hair and has about six other barbers cutting hair in their chairs.

Barber Shop starring Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Eve, Micheal Ealy, Anthony Anderson, Troy Garity, David Keith, Sean Patrick Thomas

Barber Shop starring Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Eve, Micheal Ealy, Anthony Anderson, Troy Garity, David Keith, Sean Patrick Thomas

But this is not what he wants to do with his life. Once he can get rid of the barbershop, this man knows he can find a better way to support his wife and expected child. Trying to get rid of his father’s shop is an ordeal until a local ‘business’ man makes an offer. When Ice Cube learns of the new direction for the old barbershop, he feels regret. He looks around and realizes why a simple business like this old shop is so important to the community.

Is this a movie for the younger members of the family? I would say no. It moves too slowly without enough chases scenes, explosions, or fights to keep their attention. Plus, there are some language issues that make me a little embarrassed, let alone a child under 13. I am not sure if kids over 13 will like it because of the adult issues of owning a business but not loving it. There is a sub plot about stupid crooks involving Anthony Anderson but the language these guys use is not appropriate for younger children.

That said, I do enjoy this movie as an adult. I love the interaction of the staff at the barbershop, I find the theft storyline funny, and I love how Ice Cube underplays a role he could have hammed it up. Instead, he let the story play itself out and that is what I love about this movie.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

A Lovely Work Area

A found table, a few work tools neatly stowed away. that may be one part of heaven.

 

 

Garden table

The Great Gob Smack

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

Today I am going to share the big secret I rediscovered in the last few weeks. Every now and again this one has to smack me upside the head. But every time it does, I swear I have the same shocked reaction.

Time moves on, kids grow up, and I keep getting older.

It hit me seeing pictures of Mallory Boomsma’s wedding from a few weeks back. Our family know Mallory from 4H and I remember when she loved to hold the new baby in our house. That baby is now 13-years-old and doing the same as Mallory. She loves to play with babies.

When did that happen? How did Mallory get old enough to marry and my girl old enough to be as Mallory was way back when? And why do I keep finding gray hairs mixed in my dark locks?

Well, this realization really smacked me in the face, again, when my youngest did not want to watch The Incredibles with me. There was a time when I could bring home the latest animation flick and be called a hero. Nights on the couch with popcorn was the norm and everyone was happy.

Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

But when I brought home that movie recently, I got snarky comments and rolled eyes. A few days later, I brought home a Goosebumps movie and was a hero once more.

Except, I wasn’t going to watch that movie with them. I was not the least bit interested. This series is poorly made and watching PG horror flicks is not in my wheel house at all.

The pushing of Mom away with youngest child has started. Time is moving on.

Well, at least I can watch The Incredibles if I want and I do.

This is one of those movies that borders on perfection. It lands on my list of perfect movies because the characters mix well together, the angst/conflict is something all of us can relate to (have I settled in my day-to-day life as a grown-up), and the action scenes are, well, incredible.

The story is about how superheroes are put into hiding because of fear and financial damages. It is not easy to go into a 9-5 life when you are used to saving the day.

But that is what Bob and Helen (Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl) do with their three children in a nice quiet suburb of a large metropolitan area somewhere in the USA. A job loss and a potential new sideline throws the family, going through normal isolation issues, into something more serious, more dangerous and potentially bringing the family closer.

I love the dialogue of this movie, the way the family interacts and gives conflicting messages. I enjoy the active discussion about what makes people special and what makes us all ordinary. I love how, for once, the villain is done in by his own callous behavior. And the actions scenes really pump me up whether it is in a burning building or with a giant robot.

It is a movie that I will watch again. Until grand kids show up, I guess I am watching it alone.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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.

 

 

 

 

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

Lately, I have been reading books and watching movies about the Holocaust. What saddens me the most about this time period is the absolute hatred for Jews that seemed to go beyond hating Jewish Bolsheviks, it went beyond the desire to have a pure Aryan race. It was an evil that went beyond the need to be right no matter what.

I saw this in The Book Thief, I read about it in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. In the Gabriel Allon series by Daniel Silva I see the long term effects of being a Holocaust survivor – whether it is you or a family member.

XMen Days of Future PastHowever, this past weekend the husband and I went to see X-Men: Days of Future Past. Suddenly, we were right back in a holocaust of those who are different. I know the title sounds like some horrible grammar rule gone crazy but the story requires that you suspend disbelief at all costs.

As the movie starts, we see a world in which mutants are hunted down by giant robots called Sentinals. But as with any campaign to eradicate one group, it stops being about only those creatures and includs anyone who aids them or are related. We see piles and piles of bodies and bones in a darkened world in which Sentinals have the ability to use any skill from any mutant.

They were created by a scientist named Trask who used DNA and other tissue from Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence). It is at this point that Professor X/Charles (Patrick Stewart), Magneto/Erik (Ian McKellan), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), and Storm (Halle Berry) find a lone surviving group of mutants who can escape the Sentinals on a regular basis using a form of time travel.

That is when Charles and Erik come up with a crazy plan to send Charles back in time to talk to his younger self. When it is deemed that Charles would not make the trip, Wolverine goes in his stead. This is when things get really strange as Wolverine eventually meets up with a younger Charles and Beast, plan to break Erik out of prison (it’s complicated), and stop Mystique.

I found this to be an interesting movie, slow only in a few parts, and yet able to laugh at itself. The acting is top tier by the key players of Jackman, Stewart, McKellan, Michaeal Fassbander, James McAvoy and Lawrence. The special effects for this movie are outstanding. My favorite moment has to be when Quicksilver stops an attack during the prison break scene to the soundtrack of Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce. That might be the last time we have a good laugh but it is a fascinating scene.

It is a dark movie that I would not recommend for kids under the age of ten because I don’t think they are going to understand the total context of this movie. We live in an age where scary things happen but not like this in which neighbors and family members might turn you in for being ‘different.’

Nazi Germany would have never happened without the fear of wondering if you would be next to disappear, to be marched to death camps, or killed before your family’s eyes. Especially if you had spent the last several years watching this happen to neighbors and friends or anyone who disagreed with the powers that be.

The X-Men have always had the Holocaust as an undercurrent, that those dark times could and will return. It is that fear which permeates the movie, making it compelling and terrifying all at the same time.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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

With Memorial Day weekend quickly approaching, I know many people have thoughts about picnics or backyard cook outs.

Old CemeterySome will hang flags from their porches or display small flags in their yards. Others will remember to visit cemeteries to visit with loved one or attend small town ceremonies.

I always think about my grandmother, Ruth Day Weinhold, and wish I could get myself together enough to visit her grave site in Wheatland Township in Will County. Not too far away is the old Methodist graveyard where my great-grandmother, Susan Grill Weinhold, is buried.

However, Memorial Day was not meant originally for visiting our dead but to remember the military members who fell through various various wars. The holiday was first approved in 1868 by Gen. John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic as a way to honor those killed in the Civil War. But as the years passed and other wars took more young men, the holiday’ meaning was expanded. Red poppy flowers are now sold so we do remember them.

And we should. No matter what you may think of these various war, the rightness or the wrongness of it all, we should remember the veterans and help out in whatever way we can. Some were drafted; in the last thirty years it has been voluntary service. That does not matter. What should matter is that these men and women get the support they need for medical services, to find work after their service is done, and to live as all of us want to do.

Flags of Our FathersI thought about movies this week that was fitting for this topic. What I kept going back to time and again was a double feature by Clint Eastwood. Flags of My Father and Letters from Iwo Jima show the Pacific theater from WWII from two points of view.

The former tells the story of the men who raised the flag on Iwo Jima that is shown in the iconic photograph. It delves into the stories of three of those men, how they came back to do war bond tours only to have to return to the Pacific. We find out how each man’s life ended as well.

The second movie tells the Japanese side from the viewpoint of a general who visited America in the 20s and a young soldier who wants to stay alive so he can return to his wife. The General writes beautiful letters to his family but the heartbreak is there. He knows he will not be returning. The young man works to stay alive and eventually finds himself with the General.

Letters From Iwo JimaNeither movie shies away from the difficulties of war, neither is afraid to show how a man might loses his bearings and turn to alcohol to numb the pain or commit atrocious acts out of stressful frustration. Eastwood imbues each movie with a certain amount of grace and truth that stands up to repeat viewings. That is the sign of a brilliant director in my mind.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

 

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.

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