Archive for November, 2016


Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

During this first week of the holiday season, I can understand if people are not in that ‘holiday spirit.’

Last year at this time, I was not up for it. It was the first Christmas after my dad passed away and I really didn’t want to do much. It was bare bones decorating, hardly any cookies made, and I wasn’t even sure I wanted to do our traditional Chinese buffet meal for Christmas.

But I did everything with the hope that if I did it maybe Christmas would feel like Christmas. We attended Christmas concerts, chili suppers, and family gatherings. We sang and ate and praised God.

Somehow I made it through even with the help of my favorite movies.

home-for-christmas-lindaIt gave me a greater appreciation for those Hallmark movies that run non-stop during the months of November and December. I even watched Home For Christmas on Lifetime starring Linda Hamilton as a divorced housewife who lived in her car after losing her assets in one calamity after another.

I watched part of that one and other movies featuring young women who are facing emotional crisis such as one woman whose parents are Santa and Mrs. Claus. Another had an event planner trying to re-create a party from her childhood when the client wants something different. A third one featured a woman who has not celebrated Christmas properly for years until she comes to a winter resort her father recently purchased and wants her to evaluate. The problem is Christmas is the big deal at this wonderful winter wonderland resort.

I know these movies are cheesy, that they feature actors who used to be big or are never going to be stars but are solid performers. I know that there will be preposterous factors and everything will work out in the end. There might be a magical aspect or a meet-cute between our two love birds who hate each other on sight. But in the end, they will figure it out and live happily ever after.

As one of my daughter’s friend stated, these are addicting movies. After watching a few, I had a hard time staying away. But you might find you have to watch them by yourself or without the husband. These are sap fests that can make the toughest of cookies cry right into your eggnog.

christmas-in-connecticut-pictures-4

Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan

Oh, I will be watching my favorites this season. The first is Christmas in Connecticut starring Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan about a magazine writer who must entertain her publisher and an heroic sailor on her non-existant farm during the holidays.

The second is Miracle on 34th Street with Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle who must prove he is the real Santa Claus in order to protect his sanity with the help of attorney John Payne. Meanwhile he is also trying to prove to a mother and child that Santa is real.

I might add a few of these Hallmark to the repertoire when I need to recover from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. It’s not hard to do, I just have to find the Hallmark and Lifetime stations on my satellite service.

Here’s hoping that your holiday season begins and ends smoothly.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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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.