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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

Fighting the Ban

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

While preparing for this week’s column, I remembered that it is Banned Books Week.

There are many freedoms we think about on a regular basis, but the freedom to pick and choose what reading material or other mediums of expression we want to consume is something dear to my heart.

Movie Poster Image from IMDb.com

Movie Poster Image from IMDb.com

Every year the American Library Association puts out a list of books that have been challenged and it never ceases to amaze me what is being challenged. Books such as To Kill a Mockingbird, Huck Finn, The Hunger Games, and Where’s Waldo.

The problem with with the first two is that they use language appropriate to the time period in which they are set that is no longer deemed appropriate in polite or mixed-race company. The Hunger Games is brutally violent in places. But what these three books and the Harry Potter series points out is the wrongs of bullying, racism, and tyrannical governments. They name the wrongs in our societies, display them for all to see and understand.

Sometimes it is hard for us to look at those ugly aspects. But if we are to become better as a society, we must view them and change accordingly.

Knowing what I was going to write about reminded me of stories my mother used to tell from her growing up years in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. The Catholic kids would pay the protestant kids to see the biblical movies of the time because the Catholic Church had forbidden their parishioners from attending. The thought was these movies glamorized the bible stories, sexed them up a bit, and that was not appropriate viewing for anyone.

She talked about seeing Samson and Delilah along with The Ten Commandments. Other flicks from this time include David and Bathsheba, The Robe, Ben Hur, and Solomon & Sheba. In recent times, I have seen protests against The Passion of the Christ and The Last Temptation of Christ.

Poster Image from IMDb.com

Poster Image from IMDb.com

While I understand that some of these movies may not portray the picture of the bible as some people may want, I also understand that much – not all- of what is portrayed is fairly accurate for the time period. I, personally, can never watch The Passion ever again because of the level of violence in it but nor can I deny its ability to tell the story well.

When it comes to reading material or movies that kids in your family want to consume but makes you feel uncertain, I suggest reading or watching the movie/TV show first without them around. Knowing what is in that medium helps you direct the conversation as to why or why not you will allow your child to have that material.

In the end, I do not recommend banning books because you make the undesirable into something irresistible. Especially for people like me who want to know what made a book targeted for banning. When I found out Where’s Waldo was on the list because there was ‘reportedly’ a topless woman in a beach scene, I searched through that first book in the series.

I have yet to find her.

Until next week, see you in the Rental Aisle.

Looking for a Good Mystery

Family Movie Night

 

by Karyn Bowman

 

Do you have a favorite type of book or movie?

 

Book Denise SwansonFor me, it is mysteries. Love them, can’t get enough of them. I am happy to read a number of book series including Denise Swanson’s Scumble River series featuring school psychologist Skye Dennison.

 

So how did I develop my love of mysteries? It started with Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes in the movie series of the 1930s and 1940s. Perhaps it was because Sherlock was always certain, always sure. He was always a gentleman with the ladies, always stand up with the men. And Dr. Watson as portrayed by Nigel Bruce seemed to be a bit of a lovable bumbler. It made me wonder why such a sharp man would want to have Watson around unless it was because Sherlock never had to work hard to understand him.

 

 

Poster Image from IMDb.com

Poster Image from IMDb.com

Since the movies with Robert Downey Jr. that was directed by Guy Ritchie, it seems that we are in the middle of a Sherlock revival. The BBC has a new Sherlock series starring Benedict Cumberbatch who lives in modern day London. Martin Freeman plays Watson as a wounded war veteran who pretends he wants a boring life but is energized with every case Sherlock drags him on.

 

In America, we have Elementary starring Johnny Lee Miller as the consulting detective who recently came out of rehab. His Dr. Watson is played by Lucy Liu starting off as his ‘sober companion’ but has now become his colleague. She, too, is excited about the cases Sherlock follows, but more importantly she cares about Sherlock as a friend.

 

In the movie starring Downey Jr. and Jude Law as Dr. Watson, the time frame is in late Victorian England but we see the rougher and dirtier parts where Sherlock solves his crimes and finds relaxation through boxing. Law plays Watson as a smart man with a gambling problem who is frustrated by Sherlock and yet needs to protect the detective.

 

 

Poster Image from IMDb.com

Poster Image from IMDb.com

What all three have in common is that some of the layers of truly gentleman-like behavior have been stripped away from Sherlock. He is capable of having manners but he is so focused on the task at hand that using those manners fall by the wayside. This might strike some as completely rude behavior or perhaps a hint of Asperger’s Syndrome on the Autism spectrum. Some might call it being book smart and street dumb. I doubt that last remark because all three versions of Sherlock could take care of themselves if left on the streets alone.

 

In the kitchen is another matter entirely.

 

One thing I have been told is once you have seen Cumberbatch play Holmes, it will be hard to go back to watching Miller play Holmes on the CBS TV show. Well, I believe that one should not necessarily judge one version against another. You must judge how each version operates, you must judge the show by the rules it lives by, and if that version does what it sets out to do.

 

The goal of each of these new versions is to bring Sherlock Holmes to life with a modern sensibility of how people emotionally work. Two of these series makes it clear that Holmes uses hard drugs to find peace. All three show a man who is rude and abrasive but not totally devoid of human feelings. All three show a man who loves a challenging puzzle and works hard to solve it. All three show a man who has managed to attach one friend who is willing to go the distance for him.

 

To see that character fully formed is why I watch whichever version of the enigmatic Sherlock Holmes I can find.

 

 

Until next week, see you in the Rental Aisle.

 

Sweets for the Sweet

Getting around in the blog world has proven to be a bit difficult this summer.

I was considered under-employed by the Unemployment office which meant I still had to ‘look for work’ while collecting their check. They want you to go into business and ask for applications despite the fact that everything – and I do mean everything including filing for unemployment – is done online these days.

Image by Earl 53

Image by Earl 53

One job application required a survey to be completed as a psychological test. Because of my answers on that survey, I was given a note at the end saying they did not want me. I am not even sure what I said that did me in. To be honest, it made me not care anymore about finding a job because I felt certain I was no longer a wanted commodity.

But this past week, I worked too much even in my part-time part-time job and Unemployment cut me loose. While I had planned on that money, I also knew it was time to start looking in a different direction to get something that would suit my schedule and work with the library job which I really enjoy.

While I plan to rant and rave about how being unemployed really sucks at some other point in time, what I really need to do is share something that was shared with me. And it is something sweet from one of my favorite bloggers, The Daily Compost.  I go to Jennifer’s blog and never know what to expect and that is OK. I like being surprised. It could be photography or poetry or whatever she is thinking about.

 

Super Sweet Blogging Award

Jennifer has informed me there are several things I must do for this latest award.

First off is to answer some questions about sweet things.

 

  • Cookies or cake? Or both? It depends on the cake and the cookies but chances are I am going for the quick snack that does not require a plate and fork. I recently tried Gluten-Free peanut butter cookies that were the BOMB!
  • Chocolate or vanilla? I am a woman with a chocolate addiction. There is no other answer.
  • Favorite sweet treat? While I love chocolate, my favorite pie is actually Key Lime Pie. Go figure.
  • When do you crave sweet things the most? After any nasty day that starts with my husband asking me to do something three times within a ten minute span. At that point I turn around and tell him to do it if it makes him that anxious which leads to a fight which leads me to storm out of the house for a good cup of coffee and an apple fritter.
  • Sweet nickname? I do not have one of these, not sure why or if I care why. People call me by my name and I do what I can for them.

 

The next part here is to list a baker’s dozen list of blog that I feel deserving of this award. I am not justifying why I like any of them, it is simply going to be a list. I only ask that you visit the people and have fun at their blogs.

  1. Fashion for Lunch
  2. Prada for Breakfast
  3. Rufus’ Food and Spirit  Guide
  4. Caffeinated Politics
  5. Broadside Blog
  6. Loves and Stitches
  7. Lego-A-Day: Less often now
  8. The Crochet Crowd Blog: Knot Just Yarn
  9. 4Mothers
  10. Alec Nevela-Lee
  11. Another Stir of the Spoon
  12. Red Pen Mama
  13. 101 Books

By the way, when you get to these other blogs, tell them I sent you.

Who are you reading in the blogosphere?

 

Did That Really Happen?

Family Movie Night
By Karyn Bowman
When one of your favorite critics says something that goes against your basic judgment in a movie, it makes you wonder why you like this critic in the first place.
I assume that people have that feeling about me when I give a thumbs up for a raunchy comedy. I love those things because they make me laugh and laugh hard.
The problem might be that critics are people, too. When we go into a movie we might try to not have any preconceptions but it is difficult. Especially if the movie is a remake, a continuation of a series or based off of the writings of Nicholas Sparks.
Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

When I went to the screening room on a regular basis, I can tell you the room was filled with men. When it came to romantic comedies or romantic dramas, well, their eyes would roll to the back of their heads.

Why do we have to watch this piece of crap?”
Which is my sentiment exactly on most – but not all – Adam Sandler movies.
I bring this all up because the husband and I recently watched the date-night flick, Safe Haven starring Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel. The movie started its life as a Nicholas Sparks book in which a woman leaves her old life and runs away to North Carolina where she meets a great guy and falls in love. She has a secret and he is a widower with two kids.
When I read Richard Roeper’s review several months back, he made the comment that the last ten minutes tells you a lead character is either crazy or stupid. While the rest of the movie would have received two and a half stars from him, this last portion sent his rating down, down, down. It made me curious, but because I am not a Nicholas Sparks fan I was not willing to pick up the movie for the last ten minutes.
This past weekend, I told the husband to rent something while I recovered from working a rummage sale. So he picks up this movie thinking it might be a romantic comedy. I tried to be fair, waiting for the not-so-happily-ever-after moment that seem to accompany all Nicholas Sparks movies.
When that does not happen, I am surprised. This turns out to be a nice little crime/romantic drama in the same manner of Sleeping With The Enemy without the annoying dress-up scene. But then the last ten minutes happen and I have to judge if this makes the one character a crazy person. Does it change the whole tone of the movie?
Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

The answer is yes because there are some questions that were not answered for me. There were some issues that needed clarification that I did not get. It doesn’t ruin the whole movie for me nor do I understand Roeper’s completely overboard reaction. Perhaps it depends on how you accept the supernatural in your life, perhaps it depends how you think this event adjusts the rules of the movie.

Every movie is based on a set of rules, the ones that determine how the world works in the story. Vampires burn up in the sun, one person rules the town with an iron fist, two people hang out in different crowds and should not mix with each other. A movie goes wrong when the rules no longer matter and no longer direct the story.
Safe Haven changes one rule at the very end of the movie. But it was a rule that was somewhat consistently followed throughout the movie, we just did not know it. Does it ruin the movie? Not in my eyes but then again I live with a ghost dog in my house. I am used to life not always being what it seems.
Until next week, see you in the rental aisle. 

A few weeks ago, I got into a dust-up on IMDb.com with someone who stated he could name 30 better animated movies that Despicable Me 2.

Normally, this would not bother me until the idiot put up a list. A list that was very incomplete and did not even include anything from Studio Ghibli.

So I am starting my own list of animated movies that are some of the best in regards to being a complete package type of movie coupled with animation style/techniques.  This list is subjective and based on what I have actually watched. I wish I could say they are in order of what I think is the best But I know some of the ones at the bottom should be closer to the top. But the next dilemma is who goes lower and that is not a question I want to answer today.

I am not explaining or defending any choice until the comment section, should anyone want to have that discussion.

Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

1. The Incredibles

2. Spirited Away

3. Toy Story Series

4. The Iron Giant

5. My Neighbor Totoro

6. Snow White

7. Cinderella

8. Beauty and the Beast

9. The Jungle Book

10. Shrek

11. The Adventures of Tin-Tin

12. Howl’s Moving Castle

13. The Lion King

14.  Fantasia

15. Tarzan

16. Up

17. Sleeping Beauty

18. Kung Fu Panda

19.  Ponyo

20. Aladdin

Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

21. Dumbo

22. Wallace and Gromit

23. Monsters, Inc.

24. The Nightmare Before Christmas

25. Coraline

26. James and the Giant Peach

27. Lilo and Stitch

28. The Rescuers

29. Monsters Vs. Aliens

30. Finding Nemo

What movies do you rank as some of the best in animation?

To say that this year’s garden is better than last year’s would be too easy.

Last year we were in the middle of a drought combined with mind-numbing heat. My favorite weather guy started a count of how many days in a row we had above 90 degrees.

If not being able to tolerate that kind of weather makes me a wimp, so be it.

But this year’s garden is different not just because of the milder summer. I have taken a more active role regarding the volunteer plants that are pretty but in the wrong spots.

Side view of the front garden

Side view of the front garden

In the front garden I planned better for the fall in which I have always wanted to have Flowering Cabbage.  The husband picked up several plants for me and I worked it around a mum that was given to me. They are lying low in the front while the mid-section of the garden is filled with white Shasta daisies and purple cone flowers.

I love this section but plantings never seem to survive here. I have mixed in quite a few perennials as well as thrown in hundreds of seeds. Nothing comes back the following year. Early spring seedings fail. Once the season is over I might have to work over the space and have my husband or son overturn part of the space with compost.

Frenchie the dog

Frenchie the dog

 

My other solution is to fill the site with statuary. This guy used to belong to  a man by the name of Frenchie. But he died and the dog went to our neighbors who sold him when they moved away. Sadly, the last set of owners managed to break off his nose and right paw. My son and his friend retrieved Frenchie from the dump for me and placed him in his new spot. At some point I must repair him.

Hollyhocks and Sunflowers

Hollyhocks and Sunflowers

Now if you look on the west side of the house, you will see Hollyhocks  and Sunflowers co-habitating easily. Black-eyed Susans fill the lower spaces.

Four O'Clocks

Four O’Clocks

But walk a few more steps at the right time of day and you will be greeted by a mass of Four O’Clocks. They prefer to bloom in the shade and get it on that side of the house during morning hours. My grandmother had these on the west side of her house but a tree gave shade in the afternoon so they burst out every day at the end of the day.

Gourd Vine

Gourd Vine

On the other side of the house is a new planting – bird house gourds. The problem is my vines are growing great but there is no fruit. I have flowers but they are not moving into fruit as one would expect. Bees have recently moved into a pillar on the front porch. I am hoping this will begin the fertilization process.

New Growth

New Growth

Finally, I have made progress on the new rose bush. There are budding branches turning into growing green stuff. It is exciting to watch as this plant was delivered to me and needed planting almost immediately. I over-watered at first but then corrected myself, putting the new bush on the same schedule as the old one.

My neighbor states an old proverb about transplanting roses. The first year it survives, the second year it is live, the third year it thrives.

How is your garden growing this summer?

 

Related posts:

Working in the Spring Garden

 Working the Hosta Bed

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

When Hollywood people die, it is always heard that they passed too young.

In the case of Cory Monteith, one of the stars of Glee that is true. The 31-year-old actor had been a star for the last four years because of the Fox TV show that featured musical song-and-dance numbers. His character, Finn, may have been a bit dim in the brain but quite the sweetheart.

Cory Monteith with Kevin McHale, Image from IMDb.com

Cory Monteith with Kevin McHale, Image from IMDb.com

The Canadian actor had started branching out into movies recently. His last role was that of a young man dealing with the aftermath of trauma and Monteith felt he could bring something dark to the role considering his past drug use. The movie is called All The Wrong Reasons and word is the film is heading to the Toronto Film Festival in September.

Monteith struggled with drug addictions for the last 15 or so years. Families who deal with that know how hard it is to watch a love one fight and not be able to help that person. There is no word yet how Monteith’s death will be dealt with on the show but I hope they give him a huge sendoff.

On Monday afternoon as I was trying to get something done, my husband announced that Dennis Farina passed away at the age of 69. Maybe you recognize Farina from his days on Law and Order, maybe you recognize him from his days on Crime Story. Farina played mob guys or cops and he did it well. The former Chicago police officer was a tough talker who was ready to throw a punch when he had to do it. But playing one sort of character can lead to typecasting for an actor and soon enough, Farina was more of a side character than the featured role.

Perhaps his most well-known part was that of Ray ‘Bones” Barboni in Get Shorty, a movie based on an Elmore Leonard novel of the same name. It was a tough role in which Farina plays a South Florida mobster looking for the Shylock he does not like who now lives in California.

Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

But this was not his reportedly best movie. That came nearly 20 years later when he starred in The Last Rites of Joe May. The story follows a down-on-his-luck low-level gangster who has always believed that good fortune is around the corner. When the man is diagnosed with a terminal illness, one would think he would finally feel down. That is until he believes that good fortune may once more be waiting for him.

If anything, the legacy of Dennis Farina is that you can be an ordinary guy and find your dream. He was good-looking enough and talented enough to get into a movie here and there until he wound up on a poplar TV show. Then came more movies, more TV shows, and special projects. It took a lot of work, a lot of perseverance. But if that is your dream, isn’t that what you will do to make it happen?

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Play Ball!

Family Movie Night

 

Family Movie Night

 

by Karyn Bowman

 

This week is the week of the All-Star Game.

 

As fans gather in the 3-year-old stadium in the borough of Queens in New York City, you know that this game is less meaningless because the winning league gets home field advantage in the World Series. While that might not be the fairest way to determine who has home field, it is what the league has come up with for now.

 

There is one benefit to the all-star game. It will be big time singers doing the national anthems of Canada and the United States. About 15 years ago, Sarah MacLachlan sang “O Canada” and I am not sure if I have heard a better version. That same year Kelsey Grammer sang the “Star Spangled Banner.” While Grammer has a good voice, he was completely outdone by MacLachlan.

 

This year the honors will be done by 2013 American Idol winner Candice Glover and Canadian Recording Artist Scott Newsome who does the Canadian anthem for a number of sport franchises. I have to admit I am looking forward to hearing their renditions.

 

The problem I have every year is deciding which movies to showcase for this week.

 

 

 

Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

Everyone knows that the best baseball movies ever made star Kevin Kostner. His turn as a hippie-turned-farmer baseball fan in The Field of Dreams has provided some of the best quotable lines ever. That is until we get to Bull Durham, an adult drama about a baseball fanatic that trains minor league players in her own special way who crosses paths with a veteran catcher.

 

Both movies came out in the late 80s and might be showing their age in regards to hairstyles and fashion. But both movies give us a truer than true depiction of people at very different points in their lives. Some are looking for reconciliation while others are pursuing a dream that may never come to fruition.

 

These movies along with Minor League are very adult-oriented and probably better suited for couples to watch.

 

Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

This week the movie about Jackie Robinson, 42, is coming out on DVD. The movie depicts how Robinson is chosen by Dodgers owner, Branch Rickey, to break the color barrier of Major League Baseball. It depicts a somewhat sanitized version of the racial insults and backwards behavior that Robinson and his wife, Rachel, endured as Robinson becomes the first black man to play on a major league team.

 

It is a movie I have not seen yet but plan to as soon as possible. When I think back to this time period, I am amazed at what a wonderful time it was for our country as we recovered from WWII. But the tremendous hatred for one group of people because their skin color was darker than the rest always leaves me flummoxed and upset. I have not seen it so I cannot tell you which family members should not watch it but with a rating of PG-13 it my guess that this one is better for tweens and teens who can follow along better with the context of the movie.

 

Until Next Week, see you in the rental aisle.

What is That? Snicker Salad!

In the summer time, I have one mainstay in my pot luck arsenal that never fails.  It also has the advantage of being quick and easy to put together.

Considering the events of the past week, I am sure some of you are wondering why I am not getting into a long discussion of what the Trayvon Martin decision means to me.

The simple truth is, in my opinion, I believe we will hear of more teenage boys being killed because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. They were deemed threats whether they are or not, and someone will of take care of them – all while congratulating themselves for taking out a thug in training even if that is not true.

If that last paragraph is too much to handle, you have a couple of options. “Tsk” the next time a boy is shot, volunteer your time with some sort of youth activity, or yell “get of my lawn” when ‘those’ boys walk by.

Now that the subject has been covered, Let’s talk about Snicker Salad. There is nothing healthy in this salad, not even the Granny Smith apples.

The Ingredients

The Ingredients

 

It is a mixture of apple, snickers, vanilla pudding and cool whip that is rich and tasty. I start by placing the candy bars – all three – in the fridge to get a little stiff for cutting down.

Chopping the candy bar.

Chopping the candy bar.

I like to cut the candy bar length-wise into three strips. then I slice width-wise as big or as small as I like. Towards the end of the third bar, I begin slicing a little bigger than I started. After that, I peel and chunk up the apples. I used to dice the apples. Now I make bigger slices but it all goes  together well no matter what.

Chopped Apples and Candy Bar

Chopped Apples and Candy Bar

 

In my big bowl I mix the large instant pudding package with 1 1/2 cups of milk. I mix it all up until the powder is completely incorporated. Normally this is the time when I add one half of a 16 oz container of cool whip. But for the purposes of the picture, I put in all of the ingredients in one bowl so one could see how it might look.

Before the Big Stir

Before the Big Stir

The hard part starts here as one has to stir all of the ingredients together. The cool whip does not always want to cooperate and the snickers wants to stay together. But with a few gentle stirs and maybe a hard one or two, the salad begins to cooperate. The apples ensure mixing and the cool whip encourages creaminess.

That’s it! you are done. Cover your dish, bring it to the summer party and watch as people ‘oh’ and ‘ah’ over the simplest dessert ever.

Where's the Spoon?

Where’s the Spoon?

 

And the best part? You may never bring home leftovers after the party when you bring this dessert.

 

 

 

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