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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.

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?

The final post about the dog

Family Movie Night
by Karyn Bowman
We were in the back yard that is open to the side street since we do not have a fence.
A couple of kids were walking by when their voices became louder. “Burying your dog? Did your poor little dog die?”
By the sing-song tone of their voices I knew they were not being sympathetic. I knew they were trying to make a joke at my grieving family’s expense. So I gave them the look. The ‘mom’ look that let them know if they continued there would be trouble.
As some of you may know from Facebook, our black lab died suddenly at the end of February. We believe he had a heart attack. All I know is that I was there for his last moments, his last breathe. I patted his side and let him know it was ok.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur family was heartbroken. People cried or did ‘useful’ chores so as not to deal with the grief. But it has been very strange not to have the dog around prowling for food or sharing the couch with his humans.
A few weeks before his death my husband, the two younger kids, and I were on the couch watching a favorite tv show. The dog began pacing in front of the couch until he found just the right space to get up and join us. Once he was settled, the dog began slowly pushing off my daughter while making sure his head was on my lap. As far as the dog was concerned he was the favorite kid.
While we miss his companionship, we do not miss his food stealing or clothing eating ways. I found one of my husband’s favorite winter vests in the dog’s hiding place. Sadly, he had already chewed a piece of it off.
So now we must go on without him. Doing the daily walk, which I haven’t done in any sort of regular form since winter started, is going to be tough without the dog tugging and pulling for every squirrel and rabbit. Meal time seems strange without rushing to put everything away before we ‘let the dog out.’
I thought about him as my daughter and I watched Bride and Prejudice, the Bollywood version of Pride and Prejudice. The story remains the same – boy meets girl and manages to offend her in every way despite his admiration for her. Only after she learns the truth about an unfortunate situation does she begin to realize his true worth.
Image from IMDb com

Image from IMDb com

The setting, however, is in India. And because this is a Bollywood production, the action can suddenly turn into a song-and-dance production featuring hundreds or a handful. The songs are fun, beautiful and always meaningful to the story. And who can deny the incandescent beauty of Aishwarya Rai?

As we watched the movie, I thought of how much Storm would have loved sitting with us, especially if there was the hope of eating some popcorn.
Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

How long is too long?

Family Movie Night

 

by Karyn Bowman

 

Have you ever had that feeling of knowing something was good but the downside was that it took too long to do?

 

This past week I brought home The Adventures of Tin-Tin. This is a great movie that was directed by Steven Spielberg and was nominated for an Oscar in 2012.

 

adventures of tintinI love the way the animation folds out as if you are reading right along in the graphic novel that is the source material for the movie. In some ways it reminded me of Inception starring Leonardo Di Caprio. The books, by the way, have been popular in Europe for years, and Spielberg seemed to be the perfect director to bring Tin-Tin and his dog, Snowy, to life

 

The problem started as every single kid who walked into our house had the same comment when they saw the dvd box on the table.

 

That movie is too long.”

 

Some tried to justify it by saying they fell asleep and when the woke up (a couple of times) the movie was still playing. Or they said it was good but they couldn’t keep up with it. This seems strange to me since the movie has plenty of action and adventure with blinding rain storms and a chase along the narrow streets of an old city.

 

Many times the Oscar movies are longer. They want to tell all aspects of a story and sometimes you need more than the usual 90 minutes of the average feature film. And that can be fine, especially in a movie such as any of the Lord of the Rings trilogy which flew by very quickly for me.

 

son of the maskThen again, I have been to some movies that were only 70 minutes long – the bare minimum for a full length feature film – and felt as if they would never end. There was a Dana Carvey movie like that which should have been better but never seemed to get done. I could say the same about Son of the Mask starring Jamie Kennedy as well as the Scooby Doo live action movies.

 

With all that in mind, I looked up the length of the movie for Tin-Tin. It was 107 minutes which translates into 1 hour, 47 minutes. Most movies are 1 hour, 30 minutes long.

 

I am not sure what this all means because these are the same kids who play video games for hours on end until we turn off the TV and kick them out of the house to get some fresh air. An extra 17 minutes drives them to distraction? Really?

 

pride and prejudiceWell, I will remember that the next time I am watching all glorious 129 minutes of Pride and Prejudice starring Kierra Knightly and Matthew Macfayden. The time seems to fly when I am watching this movie – all 2 hours and 9 minutes.

 

Until next week, see you in the Rental Aisle.

 

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.

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