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The Smells of Home

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

This is the week when we walk into the house and it smells good.

It is the smell of favorite holiday dishes cooking, simmering, and baking. As we walk through the door, even if it is the door to our own home, there is something wonderful and comforting about those smells.

It tells us that when life has handed you lemons, you have chosen to make lemon bars or lemon meringue pie or sangria with lemons, green apples, and grapes.

Movies over the years have provided us with so many images of food and drinking.

Eat drink man Woman IMDb comI think about Eat Drink Man Woman directed by Ang Lee about an Asian family who are about to go through many changes and all of these changes are announced over sumptuous dinners prepared by the father who used to work as a world class chef.

His three daughters live at home but all that changes as each one makes an announcement that forces changes. The movie is a wonderful tour-de-force of emotions that people want or don’t want known. But this movie comes with sub titles, not everyone wants to read at the movies. And it is really meant for adults, context wise.

But if you do get it, make sure to view in the letterbox formatting, it really is better that way.

Tortilla Soup Poster IMDb com

Image from IMDb.com

There is an American version of this movie called Tortilla Soup. It stars Hector Elizondo as the retired chef. And true to form there are announcements during the weekly suppers. But his three daughters prove to be up for the challenge of growing up, becoming wiser, and learning how to enjoy their father.

There are wonderful moments such as when a pumpkin becomes a soup turine and a suitor tells the father about his connections to Dodgers’ stadium over a bowl tortilla soup. It is the young man’s reaction to the soup that makes the father realize he is ok. Again, this movie is for grown-up. And that is OK, we need movies meant for us.

ratatouilleThe kid’s movie I should recommend that is all about food is Ratatoille. Maybe you’ve seen it. It’s the movie about a rat who wants to be a chef. Crazy, I know. If I were to be incredibly non-biased, I would have to say that the bones of this movie is very good although the idea is preposterous to say the least.

But I can’t.

I know this is a good movie but I hate rats. Can’t stand them. I get the willies watching this movie so why would I recommend it?

I can’t, just can’t.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Facts are Friends

There are times in our life that being right really matters.

My husband and I have this conversation often as another inane argument over some minor details rolls on until we are both yelling at each other.

It ends with me yelling “Is it more important to be right or do right?”

By that I mean sometimes it is important to give up arguing to prove you’re right when it doesn’t matter. Such as when your batty aunt insist the dinner plates are red when they are clearly blue. Just agree with her and keep her happy.

Sometimes, though, it does matter, and then being right and doing right is one and the same.

For instance, it is constantly coming up on my facebook feed that Trump won the popular vote as well as the electoral college. According to a false Google report Trump gained 62.9 while Hillary won 62.2. It’s usually followed by ‘Suck it up, cupcake. Your candidate lost. Big Time.’

You Trump fans want it to be true, I know. But this is one time where you’re not.  And it is a sad day when you have to lie about something that can so easily be fact checked. It took me all of five minutes as I went to a progressive site and choose to go to a more conservative site to have a second source.

The actual numbers run  at 62.4 million votes for Hillary and 61.2 million votes for Donald. That is according to The Nation, a progressive magazine who used The Cook Political Report as their source. Cook chooses to be non-partisan. And in case you think I am telling a fibber, it turns out that The National Review also thinks Hillary won the popular vote while losing the electoral college.  The National Review is one of those conservative bastions. (An expert stated on 11/20/16 that Hillary may have gotten nearly 2 Million more votes.)

So stop with the nana-nana-boo-boo bits. The woman won the popular vote, just not in the right places to make the electoral votes go in her favor. And we know that liking it is another thing all together. But when you lie about it, it makes the rest of us doubt every word you are saying about anything else.

Same goes with the story about the 11-year-old boy who was beaten-up in school. There is a video attributed to Fox26 in Houston. When I look for collaborating stories, I cannot find any. There is no other video or stories from other area TV Stations or newspapers in the area.

However, the amount of alt-right websites carrying this story has grown since  last week. Worse yet was when I thought I found call letters they started with a W. Any self respecting Texan who knows they are west of the Mississippi River knows that TV and radio stations begin with a “K” and not a “W.”

It is not necessary to make up these stories, as the young woman did in Louisiana regarding having her hajib torn from her head. Sure, you want to make people on the opposite side  look bad. Trust me on this, they don’t need your help. There is the real crime of a Trump voter who got beaten up in Chicago along with an uptick in hate crimes against Jews, Muslims, and others since the election.

Lying about something happening to you by a member of the opposite political party or about the numbers in which your candidate beat the other is not the way to be credible. You want to have something to say, prove your point about your view of things.

Then take my suggestion – use facts whenever possible.

 

 

 

 

Sweet Ringing of Hope

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

There is something a little sweeter in my neighborhood. The Presbyterian Church has a new bell tower.

For the last few years the belfrey was dismantled. It was kinda of sad to look at the church, wondering if the needed repairs to the original structure were ever going to be restored. I think I even said something to my husband about that.

A few weeks ago, Carol O’Connell shared on facebook the building of the new belfrey. Then I heard about a special dedication event for the bell. This past weekend as I searched the parkway for my dog’s choke chain collar (don’t ask), I heard the bell ringing and cheers from the crowd going up.

It was good to hear that ringing and not to hear any creaking as anything broke. (My head always goes to worse case scenarios so when everything works out it is like a double blessing.) To hear that ringing signals something more than a bell back where it belongs; it signals a rebirth of an organization that has struggled.

We all have that at some point in our lives. Situations get out of hand and we wonder if we can ever come back. Sometimes we fails and sometimes we make it in baby steps the whole way.

It makes me think about movies about the Great Depression when people wondered if it would ever get better.

cinderella-manI remembered watching Cinderella Man starring Russell Crowe as a boxer who has lost his beautiful home and taxi company during the Great Depression. He and his wife and three children live in a basement apartment as he works as a day laborer while she takes in sewing and ironing. Life is bleak until a chance fight shows he might still have what it takes. That is when his former manager arranges a bigger fight.

Oh, this movie is filled with sports cliches that we love. But Crowe, Renee Zellweger, and Paul Giamatti give gritty and classy performances of people on the edge who find their way back in the middles of the 1930s when nothing felt as it was going to come back.

That movie may be too adult in context for the younger children in the house. That’s when you pull out Kit Kittredge. Based on the American Girl Doll character of the same name, this girl has spunk.

kit_kittredgeSet during the Depression, ten-year-old Kit learns that while her family has been wealthy, or at least well off, they are slowly losing everything. Her father’s business has gone under, her older brother has not returned to college. Her mother is considering raising chickens.

Kit is overly emotional as ten-year-olds can be, especially when Dad leaves for a different city to find work. She learns to accept the chickens and sells eggs, she deals with their house being overrun with boarders, and brims with the hope that her father will come back soon.

Both movies are filled with grit and determination of characters who know life will get better, even if they don’t know how that will happen or what it looks like. Sometimes when we take on great projects, we don’t know what the outcome will be. But why let something as trivial as that stop us.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

The Stars Above Us

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

A few weeks ago, the husband and I did an Owl Walk at the forest preserve district on Heiland Road. We also had our 12-year-old son and a friend with us.

It was fun to walk through those woods after dark, the pine forest was as creepy as you would think it could be. We heard other critters moving about and then came the owls.

owl-eastern-screechThere were regulars and they call out once they heard our guide make the call. As we went further down the path, our guide made us listen to the cries of two hungry juveniles who were calling for food. But like parents of human teenagers, these owl parents were ignoring them.

Now that I can relate to.

One of the things I discovered on this walk was not only plenty of information on owls but how to find the Northern Cross constellation in the autumn sky. The Northern Cross is actually an asterism and is a part of the Cygnus the Swan constellation.

When you find it, you will also be in the Milky way. This time of year, the Norther Cross is near the center of the sky after dark. The problem is it is difficult to see, you need to be where there is almost no light pollution in order to see it clearly.

On my nightly walks, I go to my special places to see consellations, and planets and asterisms. I look and look. Some nights I find it easily, other nights I am happy to find the crossbar.

Stargazing has become my new hobby and one that gives me joy in finding and identifying planets. Constellations are going to take a bit more work.

Now this past week saw the release of the latest Star Trek movie, Star Trek Beyond. Set two years after the last movie, this time we are presented with a space traveler’s worst nightmare – having your ship destroyed and unable to connect with your crew members.

Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, John Cho, Simon Pegg, and Zoe Saldana return to the bridge but face new diificulties when an enemy works to destroy the team in order to gain world domination.

star-trek-beyondPerhaps what makes this movie most interesting is that it is filled with a number of references to the TV show and other movies in the Star Trek series. Numbers and images all have a reference to the original series which ran for less than three years on CBS. The movie was released closer to the 50th Anniversary of the show that inspired generations of filmmakers.

I’ll be honest in saying I haven’t seen this movie; I was always a distant trekie. But it is on my list of must sees as I am interested to see how the character of James Kirk has grown and developed as a character. Sure, we want those familiar moments (‘I can’t do it, Captain’ or ‘That is highly illogical,’ or ‘I’m a doctor , Jim, not a …”) but we also want to see where these guys are going – physically and emotionally.

Will the familiar come out of the actor’s mouth, will there be references I will not get in a thousand years? Will I enjoy myself watching this movie?

The answers are yes, yes, and a resounding yes.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

What Are You?

It is two days after the election and Donald Trump is now are president.

Let that sink in for a moment. because one of the more interesting trends I am seeing with my Trump-loving friends is shock and surprise that they are being seen as racist, white supremacist, uneducated.

“I am not that,” they are saying. “The evil press is depicting me like that.”

So the question that must be asked is this: If you vote for a candidate, do you hold some of his qualities, all of his qualities, or none?

trump-hillary

If I am to be frank, Trump said some things in this campaign that were truly deplorable.

If you voted for him do you believe what he says, do you believe his statements to be true or do you vote for his promise to make America great again?

Conversely, I voted for Hillary. Does that mean I am corrupt and willing to bend the rules to make them fit for me?

In asking that, I want to make sure I get it. There are times that I have seen Trump supporters be awful. They cold-cocked a black protesters as he was being lead out of the arena. They kick the wheel chair of a boy with cerebral palsy as he was being lead out. They screamed at a Muslim woman as she silently stood, and wore tee-shirts saying ‘Trump that Bitch.’

On the other hand, Hillary called Trump supporters ‘deplorables.’ A Muslim father  of a dead soldier ask Trump what he sacrificed for this country. Various Clinton supporters called Trump unfit for office, citing his inability to control emotions on his twitter account.

All the same, am I and others voters in this country similar to the candidate we vote for – with all of their good and bad traits? Am I a liar with a need to protect my privacy at all costs? Are Trump voters haters to the extreme?

It is tempting to paint the two camps with one paint brush for each. Liars and law-breakers, haters and violent asses.

The problem in all of this is that we are neighbors. There are no distinct areas of only Hillary voters and only Trump voters. We live next to each other and in the same towns.  Can we work to Make America Stronger Together?

Maybe not today or this week. But we are going to have to do it soon. Because the problems we face may not be solved by big government, it might be better to work with each other in our own communities. And to make all that happen, we need to let go of our pre-conceived notions.

Are you willing to try?

workingtogether

 

 

Down to the Wire Finish

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

By the time you read this, either the Cubs have won the World Series or they remain lovable losers who came this/close to ending the curse.

I don’t know at the moment if they have done one or the other. At this point in time they have won their second game and must win two more in order to break the curse.

chicago-cubs-2It was great, it was terrifying. I thought they were going to lose it all at various moments when I wasn’t thinking the team had finally gotten over their fears.

I was feeling jealous of my cousin who was in Wrigley field during this tremendous win.

I almost felt bad for all of the times I made fun of him for being a Cubs fan while I am a Sox’s fan.

Almost.

But here’s the thing. I am happy to see the Cubs get this opportunity. But if they lose, I will not let Cubs fans know just how great my team was during the time they were in the World Series. Why, even former president George H.W. Bush was in the audience and they made a point of rubbing Houston’s nose in the loss by doing it quickly.

Perhaps that is too mean, I’m not sure.

In the mean time I can send you in the direction of some great movies about baseball.

You know the ones because they all seem to star Kevin Costner. Ok, maybe not but my two favorites are Bull Durham which is about an older player trying to figure out his role in Baseball as his playing career ends. The other is Field of Dreams in which a man discovers a secret world of deceased players in his cornfield.

Field of Dreams IMDb com

Image from IMDb.com

Both movies, from different perspectives, tell a story that women can love and men can cry about without being total sissies. Maybe that is not politically correct to say but some guys still want to be macho stoics. Whatever.

You can still enjoy these stories of men finding ways to explore their feelings about lost chances and missed opportunities channeled into new opportunities such as a different career in your field or playing catch with your deceased father.

Or maybe you want to explore how the Cleveland Indians manage to stick it it their money-grubbing owner by not stinking and finding their way to the World series in Major League. It will involve a pitcher with wild throws and a voodoo spell to make a bat work. Meanwhile, Tom Berenger learns his game while in the last chance of his career to do something great.

Charlie Sheen appears in this movie as the pitcher with the strong but undisciplined arm. Dennis Haysbert is the Caribbean player who uses what ever he can to bring luck to his bat. None of these movies I have talked about are meant for kids.

rookie-of-the-yearBut there is one that might appeal to them. Rookie of the Year is about a kid who discovers a new talent. After the kid’s arm heals from a break, the kid discovers he can throw as fast as a major a. Of course he is discovered. And soon he is playing for the Cubs as a pitcher.

It is a cute and sweet movie that kids can love. While not always plausible, it is fun and appropriate for younger members of the family..

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Movies for Scardy Cats

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

At this time of year, what you are going to find are lots of scary movies. Movies about Vampires, Zombies, monsters, and serial killers.

But that is what happens in October, we get movies about crazed clowns and psychotic killers.

Not all of us are up for that. Seriously, I can handle only so many scary movies before I am done. I need levity and a bit of laughter along with my scares and creepy-crawly moments.

That explains why every Halloween season, I find myself watching Practical Magic starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. The story is about two sisters who come from a long line of witches whom appear to be cursed. Their husbands die young and usually there is a warning song from a beetle.

practical-magic-collageIt doesn’t help that the women are incredibly beautiful and some are heart breakers. Sally (Bullock) is beautiful but wants to stay close to home. She dreams of a normal life and had a deep love for her husband and their two daughters. That happiness is destroyed when he dies young. Jilly (Kidman) is a bit of a heart breaker and runs away from home at 18 to find the guy who can withstand the curse.

But one day Jilly meets that guy and he turns out to be something more than a regular guy. Soon the two women are dealing with a problem bigger than they can handle, denying the truth to their witchy aunts. Things get worse when a handsome detective from Arizona arrives to solve a missing person’s case.

This movie has some very serious moments about the supernatural, possession, and not messing with that you don’t understand or disrespect. There are funny moments as well when the four women have a margarita party or during a scene in Sally’s botanical soap and lotion shop.

This is a great scary movie for scardy cats like me because humor is scattered all over this movie. There are the ghostly parts and then there is funny or romantic scenes. It is not a good movie to watch around little ones, better for teens and older or those of us adults who want to watch something a little scary and a little sexy.

love-at-first-biteThis lead me to think about Love at First Bite with George Hamilton and Susan St. James. While I am sure there are some funny moments to this movies, it is not one I want to watch and nor can I recommend. Hamilton is more famous for his tan than his acting abilities.

I can only suggest this movie about a vampire who loses his Transylvanian home and moves to New York as a possible movie to riff on with your friends as you watch it. The vampire’s goal is to find the woman who looks like his long lost love who is now in New York City working as a supermodel. Just three bites and he can make her his forever. That is if the grandson of Van Helsing doesn’t kill him first.

Like I said, this movie is great for being ridiculed. All you need is popcorn and a smart-aleck friend to get the ball rolling. Perhaps a drinking game can be made with it.  I am going to guess that by the end of the movie what you will be horrified by is the badness of this plot which is better than being horrified because of one gruesome murder after another in my book.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

It has been over two weeks since the video of Trump was released to the public.

We heard a reality TV star, the one now running for president, state that he can grab pussy whenever he likes because he is famous and women will let him get away with doing that.

trump-videoBut every time I hear that phrase or hear people defend his words, I get uncontrollably angry.  I know there is someone freaking out and reliving a memory she doesn’t want to remember of someone grabbing her because they had to power and ability to ride over her objections.

I am not sure what is worse, him saying it, even if it was ten years ago, or people defending it.  They say it is boy talk or locker room talk or what men say all of the time when women are not around.

I have heard men blow it off, relegate it to the trash. And then there are other men who state that in their locker rooms, this is not how they talk.

That doesn’t stop Trump, his wife, and other men say it was nothing and this is how men speak.

It leaves me wondering about every man I know. Does he speak this way with other men? Does he realize that participating in this talk upholds rape culture? Does this mean the men I know who quietly condone this talk also quietly condone behavior that is rape?

And then I realize that if they do quietly condone rape, if they never speak out against this type of talk, that I cannot trust them. If this is OK in their eyes when speaking with other men, is it okay to act out on those words? Is discussion about rape normal for all men or most men or only some men?

I don’t know and that scares me. It scares me not just for my own sake but for my daughter and her friends and any woman. Who knew that making America great again meant putting women in their place as sexual objects for men like this?

Trump isn’t talking about what he would like to do or what he wishes he could do to women he finds attractive. He is talking about past action. That he kissed beautiful women, that he grabbed pussy. That he violated a woman’s personal private area.

I could be paranoid or crazy. Except I know I am not. Women know what he meant by that phrase. We know from our daily experiences of guys trying to get a quick feel, or tell us to smile or say hello, or cat-calling vulgarities in our direction that a stranger’s propriety behavior over our bodies is not going away..

It works on our sense of safety, our sense of comfort. When we see our males friends agreeing with that statement of locker room talk, that sense of safety shrinks a little more. It makes me feel scared, it makes me feel like crawling up in a corner and hiding from the world, it makes me mad as hell and not wanting to take it anymore.

I and other women are not your toy, your plaything, your sexual release – especially if permission was not given.

What do these men care? All that Mr. Trump, and men who agree with his ‘locker room talk,’ want to do is grab pussy and to hell with it being permitted.

That’s just not okay. To talk about it like that is not normal because rape is not normal. Grabbing pussy without permission is not normal. When men engage in ‘locker room talk’ and condone it, they condone the behavior that is not normal.

How many times do we have to say this behavior, this speech is not normal?

We say it until people finally understand that rape is never a crime of passion or lust. Rape is a crime of overpowering someone to do your will in the most intimate ways possible.

That is most offensive of all.

 

 

 

 

Spooky Houses

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Last week the husband and I made a field trip to Allerton, an estate owned by the University of Illinois. The original owners were Samuel Allerton and his son, Robert. Samuel made his money in the hog markets of Chicago, going on to own lots of real estate and forming one of the largest banks in the U.S.

allerton-death_of_the_last_centaur

Death of the Last Centaur at Allerton Park

His son, Robert, studied art in Europe but eventually came home to help run the family business. He may not have been an artist but he knew how to appreciate it, becoming a founder, supporter, and one of the largest donors to the collection of the Art Institute in Chicago. He took that art sensibility to Allerton with sculptures placed throughout the grounds.

For those Anglophiles, the estate will conjure images of Elizabeth Bennett and Lucy Honeychurch running about while figuring out life and choosing the best suitor for marriage.

The brick Georgian manor house has walled gardens of various themes and flora. One long section is devoted to peonies, another is filled with annuals. Or maybe they would be if we hadn’t gone in the middle of October when gardens are being dismantled and put to bed for the winter.

allerton-mansion

Allerton Mansion

We need to go again, especially on a full moon hike night.

A house like this must be spectacular but alone on the prairie, one must wonder what else could live there. It is that spooky season, after all. And while the house has spectacular gardens, it is surrounded by dense woods.

Well, we know about those spooky house movies. One of my favorite for kids in 3rd grade and up is Monster House starring Mitchel Musso (Phineas and Ferb) as a 14-year-old who begins to wonder about the spooky house across the street. He and his buddy, Chowder, team up with cute Jenny on Halloween night to get Chowder’s basketball back. Along the way they discover the house’s secret.

While fun and filled with deep meaning, this can be a potentially scary movie for the little ones. However, for the pre-teen set, it has elements of kids working together to solve a mystery even after they are not believed by the adults.

coralineAnother spooky house story that appears to be meant for kids is Coraline directed by Henry Selick. Coraline has just moved into a new house with her parents. They are too distracted to pay her much attention or to explore the house with her. So when Coraline find a door that leads to another dimension where they love and adore and shower attention on Coraline, she feels happy. That is until all of this wonderfulness doesn’t feel good and the young girl has to solve a big problem.

Again, this movie is not for the younger children but perfect for your pre-teens who love Tim Burton-like spookiness and heroines who have to learn how to save themselves..

Lastly, for the adults chances are you have seen movies such as Hill House and The Lady in Black where the house is as much of a character as any human. But I was thinking about Th13teen Ghosts (13 Ghosts) starring Tony Shalhoub. This is one of those creepy movies about a man who inherits a house from his uncle. Now the uncle was eccentric and perhaps a bit evil. But the man is in dire straits and needs this house so his kids can have a stable home. That is until walls start moving and people die off.

thirteen-ghosts

                 Thirteen Ghost with                Tony Shalhoub

My son says I prefer cheesy horror movies and he might be right because this is not my favorite genre. But after fifteen years, I still remember this movie and the fear it left inside of me. Yes, it is a “B” movie but Tony Shalhoub is in it. To me, some of the kills were imaginative and chilling as one character wound his way through the house, not caring what happened to others.

But if you’re like me, this movie won’t even make it to the watch list because nightmares are not your thing. Perhaps there is a spooky romantic comedy out there to watch instead.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Killer clowns are wandering the streets, so I’ve heard.

Killer clowns have now replaced zombies as that creature which bring the most fear to one’s heart. I am not a big fan of clowns. Next to caged gorillas, I think they are one of the saddest creatures on earth.

it-pennywiseBut there are plenty of cinematic reasons to fear them. The one that still haunts my dreams on occasion is the clown in the Steven King movie IT. Who wouldn’t be creeped out by that clown that hides in sewers and other places, stealing people to store in a cave.

While that movie was about more than a creepy monster, try the rather open sub plot about anti-whatever behavior we allow in society, it was also about facing fears. To fight that creature, the band of friends had to re-connect and work together to take that gruesome thing down for the final time. They must find strength to confront their biggest fear, a real-life childhood boogieman who must be destroyed for good.

By the way, Tim Curry played the clown and he was fantastically evil. Hard to believe he also voiced the dad for The Wild Thornberries. In 2012, Curry had a stroke that took away his voice and ability to move. He has made great strides in his recovery and I hope that he continues to do so.

killer_klowns_from_outer_space_Another movie that came to mind is Killer Klowns from Outer Space. This is one of those independent movies that became a cult classic. The basic story line is that a group of teenagers are fighting against a groups of flesh eating aliens dressed as clowns. No one believes the teens, of course. All they are left with is an ice cream truck to try and take these Klowns down.

The production values are so bad along with the acting it makes you laugh more than it frightens. I mean, how many times can they shoot their weapons and take down people and no one gets it. Suddenly it makes sense that one of the video games my kids play features a wild ride in an ice cream truck as they fight zombies. Maybe it is not an intentional reference but seems like it to me.

However, the scariest clown was a real one, John Wayne Gacy. This Des Plaines business man, who dressed as a clown for children’s parties, was found guilty of killing over 30 young men and boys. Many of their bodies were found under the foundation of his home. He was eventually convicted and put to death in 1994.

It was a terrifying story played out in real life, Gacy was just charming enough to get

to-catch-a-killer-brian-dennehey

                           To Catch a Killer                               starring Brian Dennehy

these people to trust him. While there are a variety of movies on Gacy and other serial killers, your best bet might be To Catch a Killer starring Brian Dennehy as the serial killer in the 1992 flick. It is a reminder how evil can be next door to you and you may not be able to recognize it.

Who needs fake stalker clowns when real life can be scarier?

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.