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Have you noticed that lately there have been a lot of posts on Facebook with the suggestion of what this country is missing.

Jesus is the big one. We need more Jesus and more faith in God.meme jesus

 

Other people are wishing for morals and manners.

Meme morals

One of my friends shared a meme that said we need more front porches being utilized by friends and neighbors.Meme porches

My favorite is that we need to help Grandma snap more green beans.

Meme grandma beans

I am sure you are waiting for me to have some snappy come back for all of this. But I am going to keep it simple.

Great! You start.

That’s right. If you have the guts to put this on the wall, then start doing it. No one else will know what you want until you start modeling the behavior. You know that saying from Ghandi about being the change you want to see in the world? The one you have snorted about and said “Yeah, right?” That’s what I am asking you to do.

Oh, there are lots of people out there willing to be jerks, to not hold the door open or push their way to the front of the line when you were clearly there ahead of them. So be their opposite. Hold a door open, say ‘thank you’ and ‘you’re welcome’ when it is deserved. Show people how manners work and chances are they will start to pick something up.

You know that mom who is trying to get around Walmart with the screaming kid right after she gets off of work? Pay attention and you might find that she has told the child he is staying in the cart and cannot run around. Instead of standing with your buds and criticizing her for having a yelling child, support her for being willing to say ‘no’ to the child and stand her ground.

And that one about Jesus being needed in our country? Show people what Christian love is all about and, to paraphrase St. Francis of Assisi, use words if necessary. Be the only bible that others may read and live out the behavior Christ wanted us to model. And then do something bigger, like actually go to church. Once you go to church, start helping with a mission project or with youth group. I promise you will expand your thoughts and your faith. I can’t guarantee there will not be some frustration at times but how you help others will matter.

The same goes with the porch thing. Start hanging out on your porch during good weather days. Ask your friends to join you, sometime. Say hello to neighbors as they pass by on their regular walks. As you work on the flower garden in front of your house, sooner or later some gardener will ask you questions. Join the conversation and be a good neighbor.

Lastly, there is the thing about the green beans. Not everyone likes green beans, not everyone likes to snap green beans. So what. Go to the farmers market, buy a bunch for Sunday dinner, invite the family over, and have the grand kids help you snap the beans. They will hate you for it. Again, so what. Start talking to them while snapping beans about life, about memories, about them. Expand to other veggies when green beans go out of season. Expand to making cookies or pie crust together. Keep talking.

Will any of this instantly make the world a better place? Probably not. But it will make the world around you better. You will know that you taught people how to be polite, how to give to others, and how faith works in your life. You can teach them how to behave in the best possible manner. And you might learn how to cook green beans in a tasty fashion. I prefer saute in butter and thin sliced almonds.

How are you going to make your corner of the world better?

 

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

What a week.

I am so glad it is over despite this week coming being almost as hectic.

Our church help Vacation Bible School, which is time consuming no matter how well everything is planned out. And despite having good plans, we had some set backs and found our way to solutions.

VBS Surf ShackIt makes for hectic nights because life doesn’t stop. We still had work and 4H judging days. And then we found out the husband’s sister succumbed to cancer. She is gone and the family – her siblings and children – will feel that loss for a long time.

On Facebook, family and friends shared how she gave her heart and caring and tomato plants to them. Friends of her children told how she opened the doors of her home and her heart to support them in difficult times. The husband talked about how she took charge of the home when their mother was ill and made things better during those rocky times.

We had originally planned to go to the double feature at the Harvest-Moon Twin Drive-In. Those plans were scrapped by a need to drive in to Pennsylvania and another child’s friend’s birthday party. Suddenly it was just two of us, so I suggested going to a screening at one of the local theaters. The daughter suggested we go to a play instead.

We drove to the Kankakee Library to see The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. The performance space on the fourth floor was utilized for this event. I have been there before when Rick Kogan came to town and for a work-event. It made me think once more how wonderful it would be to have our own library in town. I realize it would take a referendum and a lot of work. But the benefits would be greater. Greater access to books and other materials, an opportunity for kids with no internet access at home to get their work done.

Well, enough dreaming.

The play was a fun and25th annual spelling bee fast-paced musical about a spelling bee in New Jersey for sixth graders. Each child had a different story and reason for wanting to win – or not – as the case may be. First produced in 2005, the play has a modern feel to it while the kids seem straight forward. One child is raised by two fathers, one has a mother missing from her life. One of the kids is home schooled and a little cooky while another is a boy scout. Finally, we had the over achieving boy and girl.

I enjoyed seeing local talent showcased with some great singing and fun acting. There were many laughs as audience members were asked to join the group onstage. These people may have been given easier words to which the other participants reacted in a not-so-happy manner.There are a few moments to the play that are serious and heart-wrenching. It makes a person cry after so many times when we laughed.

To be honest, I enjoyed the play from the live combo, with one member who felt the need to blow bubbles, to the surprise appearance of Jesus. It made me laugh during a week when I didn’t feel like laughing at all. And that is the best praise I can give any performance.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.`

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

This past weekend, the husband and I did something new and different.

We took a trip without the kids.

It was necessary to do this as our niece was getting married but had to have a small wedding.

There is a lot more to the story than I can say at this time. Suffice it to say this wedding was the definition of bittersweet.

Because the wedding was not till later in the afternoon, the husband asked what I wanted to do while in the Washington D.C. Area. I had only one answer for this trip – I wanted to see Mount Vernon.

Yes, that Mount Vernon that served as the home of President George Washington.

Mount VernonSo we went, paid our money so we could walk a part of the estate and through the mansion. Because there were so many people, I felt as if we were on an assembly line. There was a cordoned path for us and the docents stayed in their rooms, talking about the rooms as we walked through. No time for questions. There were rooms we walked past too quickly to really see, it wasn’t till I was at home and on the computer that I learned one room belonged to Martha’s daughter-in-law.

What really impressed us were the grounds. The gardens to the east of Mount Vernon were incredibly beautiful as well as utilitarian. Flowers planted in a natural style formed the outer edge of a square while the inside were filled with neat rows of various vegetables. Bees happily gathered nectar and most probably took care of the vegetables as well. These edges were not simply flowers but fruit and nut trees scattered so as to not cause shadows throughout the day.

As we walked about we noticed specialty tours going on. I accidentally joined one that was about all of the gardens, not just the one we saw. That was an hour long tour. There was another special tour at 4:00 P.M. in which you could have tea with Martha Washington. And then there was the Nation Treasure: Book of Secrets tour.

National Treasure II Mt VernonThe 2007 movie has a crucial scene at Mount Vernon in which Ben Gates takes the President to some secret passages underneath Mount Vernon. His goal is to find out another piece to a secret treasure that will somehow prove his great grandfather was not a member of the plot to kill Abraham Lincoln. First he has to get there and does so by the Potomac, so we get to see the sandy beach by the wharf. Then there is the party which takes place on the grounds of the mansion.

It stars Nicholas Cage as Ben Gates, Diane Kruger as he long suffering girlfriend as well as Justin Bartha as Riley. Jon Voight returns as Ben’s father and Helen Mirren joins the cast as Ben’s mother. I have only seen bits and pieces of this movie. I love the first one so much I am afraid to see the follow-up. What if it doesn’t live up to my expectations?

What I love about National Treasure is the history, the walks and/or runs through historically significant sites. And when Nicholas Cage waxes poetic about the Declaration of Independance, stating that people may not talk that way but they think it, I believe him. I believe him during every part of this movie.

Could I feel the same about National Treasure: Book of Secrets? I’m not sure. But I am going to watch it so I can re-visit the plantation I recently toured.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.`

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Cooling off sometimes means hitting a wonderfully cool movie theater.

Besides a library, one of my favorite places to hang is a nice cool and dark movie theater. Plus the kids wanted to see Finding Dory so it was one of those win-win situations.

Finding DoryAll of us liked the movie. It was fun, bright and colorful most of the time. Dory, as ever, is fearless despite or because of her memory problems.

In this movie, Dory has a memory come back to her while helping Mr. Ray lead class. In it, she remembers her parents. Suddenly, Dory realizes she has to go home to California. And like all of Dory’s ideas, they have to happen now.

Thankfully, Marlin knows a guy who can help them.

Soon, they have found their way to California, to a marine life rescue and release center. Dory pieces together bits of memories, figuring out how to find her family.

Like all good adventure movies, there are close calls and separations and reunions and companions who seem unreliable but are the best friends you’re going to ever have. We have chase scenes and close calls and the impossible solution to a problem.

Are you going to love this movie?

Probably, especially if you liked the first one. But things are different. First off, the annoying part of Dory’s memory problem is made clear. There is no rest for Marlin, he and other adults, are always on the watch out for Dory because she is easily distracted and forgets two seconds after you tell her something. Marlin can be snappy and irritable.

Secondly, there are some scary scenes, especially for those of us who might be claustrophobic. The pipe scene got to me, had me running for more popcorn when I didn’t need more popcorn. Thankfully by the time I go back to my seat, that scene was over. And I don’t feel like I missed much much or a big clue.

Lastly, this movie has a more California vibe to it, especially with the music. It is more laid back, less ethnic than the first movie.

Finding Dory HankWhat is the same as Finding Nemo are the great side characters. There are the ferocious sea lions defending their rock while helping Marlin and Nemo. We meet Becky, the slightly deranged bird. Then there is Hank the seven tentacled octopus. His only goal in life is to get to Cleveland and never return to the ocean, if he can help it. Ed O’Neil has fun with this character and makes him almost more important than Dory.

What I didn’t like was the slow opening, the heavy handedness of fair treatment to disabilities. And I think about the world as it was in the days of the first movie. Autism had not come to the great rates as it is today. ABA therapies and GFCF diets were being developed for a population that started growing like crazy. And the aging population was on the verge of a great Alzheimer’s epidemic. Life has changed in those 13 years. We look at our parents and our children, wondering how to cope with it all.

The adults may never be allowed to forget these issues. But the kids do, they just see Dory as Dory. She is strong and brave and funny and believable as she goes on an adventure of rediscovery. Pixar has done what they do best, put together a strong story with great animation. And this movie never lets us down in the process.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.`

Happy Anniversary

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Ah, summer time.

It is hot and muggy and appearing to be never ending. It is also the month of weddings.

The husband and I will celebrate 21 years of marriage this week. Our wedding took place at Starved Rock State Park. They had recently built the platforms looking out at the Illinois River. We took full advantage, forced family and friends to climb the stairs to our area.

It was a hot day, the temperature hit 95. We had a cooler of drinks along so people wouldn’t get dehydrated. But it was great to have so many family members there for our celebration. Even the Texas Bowmans came to see their brother finally get married.

Wolf Jack MichelleOne of our favorite activities together has always been watching movies. One of our first dates attending a screening of Wolf starring Jack Nicholson and Michelle Pfeiffer. It’s a well done movie about a meek and mild publisher who becomes a new man after a bite by a wolf on a lonely Vermont road. Everything changes for the publisher. He regains his lust for life and jumps into a battle at work against James Spader.

The movie is atmospheric, filled with great lines, and a solid performance by Nicholson Pfeiffer, and James Spader. But this isn’t our favorite movie to watch as a couple.

That movie is Forget Paris starring Billy Crystal and Debra Winger. Most romantic comedies end once our two leads finally become a couple. But this movie gets going once the star-crossed lovers finally get uncrossed. Sure it is fun to fall in love but sustaining it is the hard part.FORGET-PARIS_1024

We enter the scene as one couple celebrates their upcoming wedding with friends at an Italian restaurant in New York City. The woman is certain they have the most unusual story as to how they met. But her-soon-to-be husband knows a more unusual story and proceeds to tell the first part. As more friends arrive, we hear more of the story of love gained, love lost, love regained with a happy ending until it’s not happy.

Not that this couple don’t try hard; they have to work things out while dealing with long work-related road trips, sick parents, and failed fertility treatments. We get front row seats for the fights, the make-up sessions, and reunions as Mickey and Ellen try to figure out love in the modern era.

Billy Crystal co-wrote, produced, directed, and co-starred in this gem of a movie. He has a great partner in Debra Winger who gamely takes what ever is thrown at her and runs with it, including a pigeon trapped on sticky paper. Their dialogue is real, the actions heartfelt. I never doubted for a moment the emotions I saw, never doubted the arguments that took place.

This is not a movie for kids with a few scenes of sexy behavior. Besides the content being very grown-up. I doubt if many kids would want to watch this movie. The teens might, if just to snicker about this or that scene. Otherwise, it is a fun movie that is a little racy at times about the trials and tribulations of marriage after the great build up of romance.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

 

A few months ago I read an interesting article by a woman who is Type One diabetic. She talked about the mis-understandings people have about her illness, how much people don’t understand.

What people do not understand is that Type One develops when a person is young and will never go away. What people don’t understand is how she can manage her diet and still eat most of what she wants. What people don’t understand is that medication alone will not control her illness, she must take insulin. There are no cures by eating Iceberg Lettuce or Okra or Cinnamon pills.

And one of the things she gets pissed about is having her chronic illness confused with Type Two diabetes. Because, after all, people with Type Two are just lazy. If they ate right and exercised, they wouldn’t have this illness anymore.

diabetesOh, I wish that was true.

Since last August the monster I was always terrified of reared its ugly head. My blood glucose numbers were at high levels, enough that my doctor called me and told me to pick up my new medication and start taking it immediately. My A1C was a 12. I knew I was tired but I also work a lot along with a bunch of volunteering.

The diagnosis came after I worked to lose weight and change my diet. I exercised and stopped eating white bread, white sugar, white rice. I saw my belly get smaller and I thought I had made headway. I managed to lose 40+ pounds and thought I was safe.

But no.

At first I was able to get my A1C down to 7.3. I worked harder, walked more, gave up soda and flavored coffee. Instead of losing weight, as I had seen other friends do after their diagnosis, I gained weight especially in the tummy area. So I doubled down, made sure I did that mile walk minimum daily. I ate more salads and only dark chocolate. I don’t eat after 9 pm and drink a ton of water. And my morning numbers are still high.

So much for dieting and exercise.

The sad fact is that Type Two diabetes is hereditary. Just being in certain ethnic groups puts you at risk, such as African, Asian, Native American, Latino, or Pacific Islander ancestry. If your parent is Type Two, there is a 10-15% chance their child will have it. Both of my parents, one grandparent from each side, and at least one great-grandparent on each side had it. Worse yet, I was gestational diabetic with almost all of my pregnancies. My last child weighed ten pounds.

Lately, I have felt as if I was a sitting duck and there was no avoiding this diagnosis.

diabetes vegetablesThe truth is, you don’t get Type Two without a genetic pre-deposition. My mother is a thin woman who walks regularly. She does not fit the profile while I do with the extra bit of weight and two desk jobs. We are both dealing with Type Two but she doesn’t have to take insulin. I do.

You can talk to me about alternative treatments because I am willing to listen. I might even be willing to try it. But don’t sit there telling me I am lazy and not willing to work the diet. Don’t sit there and tell me if I just work it, I will be cured.

It might be comforting in some weird way to think that Type One and Type Two are different beasts altogether. It’s like you want to have a pity party because your illness is worse. Sounds like the kind of fights that happen between autistic moms who tell Asperger moms their kids aren’t really autistic because their kid is functioning while a different kid will never be able to take care of themselves or talk or get out of bed.

At their essences, both forms of diabetes are the same. The body has too much glucose and the pancreas cannot do its job without supplemental assistance. I can’t just lose weight by exercising and working my diet to make it my Type Two diabetes go away. I have tried. And I really resent people who don’t get it, even fellow diabetics.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go to bed. Getting plenty of sleep is one way to control your sugar numbers, so I hear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

I had been putting off seeing Maleficent because I knew it was a re-telling of a familiar fairy tale and I wasn’t sure I was up to it.

While the other updates on fairy tales are about girl power and taking control of your own destiny, this one goes a step further to a darker place. Something is taken from our lead character that can never be replaced and then she is treated as the villain for wanting revenge.

MaleficentHere Angelina Jolie plays a fairy who is the protector of her world which lies next to a human kingdom. The humans can see this wonderful magical area and want to take it over. But Maleficent won’t allow it, using trees for her army. The king is furious and wants her destroyed.

Only one man in his circle knows how to do this and Stephan uses knowledge from his shared childhood with Maleficent to make sure she cannot fight as strongly as she did that day. It is a great betrayal that leads to a curse on her part and maddening obsession his. And it ends with a battle royal on the day of his daughter’s 16th birthday.

If this retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story is anything, it is beautifully photographed with rich colors and well done CGI. The sets and costuming brings one into the time period as well. I enjoyed that aspect. What bothers me is the motivation for the curse, the reason behind everything which is upsetting and unsettling. I have seen and read re-told tales. Is that what Wicked is after all, tell the story from the Wicked Witch of the West’s point of view?

It is not just what was taken from Maleficent but by whom it was done, a most trusted friend. It reminds me of too many real cases of theft of this sort and how the victim is always made to be the villain in the story. It is not a movie for the younger crowd, better viewing and understanding will happen with the younger teens and older because of the context of the movie. I would be prepared to answer questions at the end.

On the lighter end of the spectrum, Zootopia comes out on DVD this week. When I first heard of this movie, I was not impressed. It took hearing a few friends’ reviews and watching it for myself to really fall in love.

ZootopiaThe story is about a bunny who lives in the country and dreams of being a police office. Not just any police force, she wants to land on the police department of the large capitol city, Zootopia. And when she does, Judy is not given the most exciting job. However, soon enough she is knee deep into an investigation that starts off being about a missing animal and leads into something much bigger.

Judy, it turns out, is quite resourceful especially when she blackmails fox Nick Wilde to help get into places she can’t otherwise. The action is fast paced, characters are well drawn and interesting, and Judy’s optimism is infectious. The other big plus is the theme song by Shakira who voices Gazelle in the movie. Every time that song comes on the radio, my minivan rocks.

While this is a great kids movie, be aware that if your pre-school child is scared by loud roars and some aggressive behavior, they may not enjoy this movie.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

That Box

Because of the new bathroom laws, I am seeing memes and video posts in which men are saying they are doing this to protect their women and girls from rape.

Texas-Sheriff-Transgender Meme

 

WARNING!!!! I am about to let loose some opinions that will not please people.

You know, as much as I appreciate the concern for my safety and my daughter’s safety and the safety of all women out there, I can think of a few things that might actually do a better job than bathroom laws.

  1. Believe Rape Victims. How do rapists get away with what they do? The first thing a woman reporting a raped is asked “What did  you do that sent the wrong signal?” or “Why should we believe you because you are a known whore, liar, druggie, female, or all of the above?” We are not believed that all we did was be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Worse yet, every guy has a story in the back of his head about how some guy’s life was ruined by a false allegation.                                                                                                                                                                           That is what rapists such as Daniel Holtzclaw count on. The former Oklahoma City police officer was convicted on 18 out of 36 charges of rape and sexual assault in January 2016. His thirteen victims included a 17-year-old and a 58-year-old grandmother.Most of his victims lived in the poor part of the city and have a history of arrests for drug and prostitution charges.These women knew they were not going to be believed and did not report the sexual assaults. That is until Holtzclaw forced himself on Jannie Ligons during an unauthorized stop after his shift was done. She reported his behavior which led to other discrepancies in Holtzclaw’s records.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Yes, some women do lie about being raped, some have regrets about sexual behavior, or are forced to call it rape by their parents. But most women don’t lie and they don’t tell because they know they won’t be believed.

 

2.        Test the Rape Kits                                                                                                                     rape kit Strange things happens when rape kits get processed as they should.   Serial rapists, the ones that should frighten the bejesus out of everyone, get found. Cleveland found this out the hard way after two reporters, Rachel Dissel and Leila Atassi,  in 2010 began a series of stories in the Cleveland Plain Dealer about rape kits that were not processed.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Starting in 2011, 4000 rape kits were tested, 1600 kits held usable DNA, 350 cases were prosecuted,  leading to the conviction of 100 rapists. Another interesting fact came together, 30% were committed by serial rapists. These are the guys who don’t care who they assault, they just want the feel of power that comes from violating another human being. One man, Elias Acevado, confessed to a number of rapes, at least two murders, and the sexual abuse of three of his daughters. One of the girls thanked Dissel because she reported her father’s abuse but was not believed.                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Another strange result?   Violent crime is down in Cleveland.

3. End the Statue of Limitations on Rape and Sexual Abuse                                Whatever you might think about Dennis Hasert, his case showed that it is hard for people to come forward with allegations. Worse yet, the laws that were relaxed to make it possible for people to report abuse would not have helped Hasert’s victims as they were too old to report what happened by 2000 when Illinois changed their state laws saying you have until 20 years after your 18th birthday.                                                                                                                                                                                                                               While several states have no statute of limitations for sexual assault, especially that involving children, there is no single rule. Some might allow 3 years, others give you a ten-year time frame to report. The Bill Cosby case is making California consider a change to no statute of limitations because of the scope and length of time of his accusers. Ask Corey Feldman why he cannot file charges against the men who molested him.

4. Stop the ‘Boys will Be Boys’ ideology                                                                                      Would the athletes of Steubenville had been better served if they grew up thinking their actions do have consequences? That perhaps raping a passed-out girl and creating a video as they were doing it might have ruined their futures more than the girl filing an assault report?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Was the girl stupid for getting so drunk she passed out? Probable. But nor does that mean it was OKay to assault her. No way, no how. Stop telling boys their bad behavior is OKay, stop laughing at their sexist antics, stop playing along with them so adult men can feel like they are still one of the boys. Stop demonstrating to boys it is OKay to cat-call and comment on a woman’s tits, ass, or body as if it is your property despite the woman being a stranger.

Do we live in a rape culture? Yes and no. It is not as in your face as it is in some cultures. Instead, it is insidious. We are constantly told how to act without being told outright. We are judged constantly on our looks, on our dress, on what body parts we do or don’t have. And if we speak out – as Beyonce has started doing – we are told to be quiet, that our opinion is not needed. Those in charge will take care of everything.

The men in charge, the men not testing rape kits, the men raping the women.

If my opinion is not enough, listen to Samantha B tell it like it is in her own unique way.

Editor’s Note: I wrote this a week before the Brock Turner sentencing. I thought it would be a good idea to sit on this essay and make sure it was the right thing to post. I have no doubts anymore.

 

Big Action Adventure

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

When your family is made of boys and their friends, action-adventure is going to be the most frequent movie selections.

In the last week, we saw two of the biggest movies in that genre.

Star Wars The Force AwakensI thought when I brought home Star Wars:The Force Awakens that this would be our Friday night movie. But no!!! The case was snatched out of my hands, barely leaving my digits intact. The movie was watched that night by the teen boys. It was watched the next day by my husband. It played a third time because the 11-year-old did not get to see it. I managed to watch bits and pieces each time till I got most of the story and saw the final revelatory scene.

What a movie! What action! What storytelling!

A part of me thought about how so much is similar to the original story. A child is in dire straits, making money by salvaging or repairing the items left behind. Their parentage has slim links to anyone else. And yet this young person is smart, resourceful, and filled with an unknown power.

There are differences in this tale. There is a villain who comes from the bravest and righteous of people. Someone formerly with the Empire’s army can no longer stomach the evil he must do. And I feel myself being pulled into the story, the conflicts, the grandness of it all despite seeing how it is a re-tread. Knowing that the sequel does not come out before 2017 is nearly painful.

We also saw Captain America: Civil War. We went to Movies 10 which now has these wonderful reclining seats. My husband loved the seats. I would have liked it if you could only recline the back. In the end I sat with the recliner at full relaxation mode, still unsure if I liked it.

Captain America Civil WarIn this final film of the Captain America trilogy, many nations are calling for responsibility from the Avengers for the damage and death their battles leave. Individual members of the Avengers are being asked to sign the Accord to provide safety. But Captain America refuses. And when the international group is targeted by a bomb, his friend Bucky is identified as the mastermind.

Cap knows this to be wrong and he makes a choice that will pit fellow avengers against each other. It leads to one epic battle that will lead to another.

It is strong storytelling with dialogue that reminds us these people are friends, life long friends in some instances. The nuances are important with a cast this large, we actually learn about them and their motivations. The action is thrilling as well although at times I was left wondering if a person could really do some of the bits they did.

As for the movie, I once again came away impressed with the Marvel Franchise. Characters are allowed to grow and develop, over time they change their opinions, show their age. Stan Lee makes his usual appearance that allows humor to slip into a serious scene that can happen between friends.

Both movies are long, meant for pre-teens and older who will obsess over the characters. I would not show them to younger children in part because of the violence and because these are movies over two hours in length.

Both are thrilling and exciting. But the more meaningful will always be the Marvel series.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Oh, Joy

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

The husband really wanted to watch Joy starring Jennifer Lawrence. But it never happened.

Joy posterWhen the movie was in the movie theaters, we never got to see it. When it came out on DVD, it took us months to finally get a copy. Once I had a copy in my hands, we never sat down together to watch the movie. I have since sent it back to the library. And if my husband wasn’t going to watch it with me, I was going to take the time to watch it anyway.

You know what? He would really like this movie.

Joy is about a woman who invents a new kind of mop that you never have to touch to wring out. She designs the item after a lifetime of failed dreams. She doesn’t get to go to college, she marries a man she loves but they cannot live together. After the divorce, they are friends but she is trying to support two kids and her mother on her salary at Eastern Airlines.

Joy creatingIt is during this period of stress and frustration that Joy invents her product. She has taken enough and she is ready to movie forward. That means borrowing money from Dad’s new girlfriend, forking over some control, and having to take action when things get out of control.

While most bio pics take the “based on a true story” a little seriously, this movie takes what it wants to be true and walks away from the rest. Characters are compilation, some events happened or didn’t happen, and the director never shies away from the fact that his movie may or may not be the whole truth. There are quirky bits that feel so strange one wonders if they must be real. Those bits kept me watching.

There there is Jennifer Lawrence who gives a gung-ho performance. Her character is the glue that holds everyone together but she is not there for herself. Strange how strong women always do that. I believed Lawrence as this woman who works through her fears to create more than a mop.

Joy FamilyIts not just Jennifer who is great in this movie. Her supporting cast includes Robert DeNiro, Bradley Cooper, Isabella Rossellini, Virginia Madsen, and Diane Ladd who make scenes crackle and spark. We watch them as strongly as we watch Lawrence. What will they do next? Even though I knew the outcome of this movie, I was rooting for Lawrence’s character to win, to shine on.

When the movie was over, with some interesting shots and some implausible action scenes, I felt great. There were times I felt as if I was watching a mob family and other times that I wondered if some of the characters could change so quickly.

This is not a kid movie although it’s one you can watch with your teenagers despite there being some tiny bits of language. No, this is a movie to watch with friends or the spouse, because we all know a Joy, we all know someone who has an idea that could go far. When the movie is done, you want to talk about it, you want to dissect it down, find out what is true and what is not.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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