Category: The Hodge Podge

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.


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

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 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                               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.

Chicken Parmesan Meat Balls

One of the joys of Facebook is seeing great recipes that you are never quite sure will work.

This weekend I made a new dish from a recipe I saw on Facebook called Chicken Parmesan Meatballs. It was a cool video that showed a pair of hands dumping in ingredients and mixing it all together before cooking it all.

chicken-meatballs-ingredientsI can’t say that the video gave exact measurements but the ingredient list was easy to follow. And let’s be honest, those of us who cook a lot can make meatballs from scratch without a measuring cup.

So first I had to make the ground chicken. That took two and 1/3 lbs. of skinless, boneless chicken breast which I put through my food processor. After that I mixed in in mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, panko, and two eggs. You can put in spices such as garlic or Italian seasoning.  I added some garlic but I could have done more. I wish I had but at least I did not over salt it. I hate overly salted food.
After rolling up the meatballs I put them in a 13×9 baking pan chicken-meatballs-before-bakingthat had been sprayed with Pam. I actually had to use a 8×8 for some extra meatballs. Those went into a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes to cook. I know that most people like to fry their meatballs but I don’t. I prefer to bake them and that is what I did.

During this time I simmered tomato sauce starter (that my husband made with his bounteous tomato harvest) and a small can of tomato paste, adding small basil leaves from our herb pots. Because I did not grab enough of the starter from our freezer, I added a jar of marinara. This is when I also got the water for the pasta going.

chicken-meatballs-coveredOnce the chicken meatballs were done in the oven, I transferred them to a different 13×9 pan, squishing in all 39 meatballs. I covered the meat balls with sauce, covered that with mozzarella cheese and put back in the oven until the cheese was fully melted.

Now during this time I forced asked my daughter to set the table. I put the small green beans in the microwave, put the pasta in the water, and waited for it all to finish. During the waiting I chopped some parsley in case anyone wanted to sprinkle it over their meal. Yep, just me and the husband did that.

Now, you eagle eyed readers might note that I used an organic paste that is supposed to be better for you. I did have to cook it a little longer than the package said and I prefer a slightly softer pasta anyway.

chicken-meatballs-platedIt looked pretty on the plate and tasted good too. In fact, the left overs were gone by the following lunch time. You might be wondering why there is so little pasta on the plate. As some of you know I have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Smaller pasta portions keep my body happy.

Yep, this is a recipe I will probably make again. I hope no one asks for exact amounts on the ingredients.

What are you making for supper?



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.`

Sometimes life requires a movie that is not so serious. It requires a movie that makes fun of everything and anything.
That is how I felt when the husband and I went to see ‘Keanu’ the other day at Movies 10.
keanu-movie-posterThis movie features the comic duo of Key and Peele who have had a show on the Comedy Channel for the last five years. One of my favorite bits they do is President Obama’s anger interpreter. I laugh at a lot of their comedy.
However, one has to wonder if what they do can stretch over 90-minutes on the big screen.  Seven-ten minute bits are easy compared to a 90-minute film.
This film starts from a pretty flimsy plot. A man finds a kitten and adores his new friend. It is a very cute kitten. But when he comes home after a night at the movies with a friend, Rell finds his home ransacked and his kitten missing. So Rell goes to his neighbor’s house, a known drug dealer, to find out who tossed his home. From there Rell learns that a bigger drug dealer in town might have had reason to ransack his neighbor’s place.
So Rell takes along his friend and cousin, Clarence, to get the kitten.  They plan to go into a strip bar on the bad side of town to talk to a drug dealer named Cheddar about getting Rell’s adorable kitten back home.
This could go wrong in so many ways because Rell and Clarence are middle class guys. Their lives are pretty comfortable. Nor do they want to do much to ruin those lives. But Rell has a goal and that goal means doing whatever it takes to get his cat.
keanu-movie-key-and-peele1That includes imitating the roughest duo of thugs that no one has seen. It means training guys to be better thugs. It means doing the worst that a person has to do.
As many of you should know, this is not a movie to take little kids to see. There is a lot of swearing, drug use, violence, threatened violence, and more drug use. Just because there is a cute little kitten involved doesn’t mean this movie is for kids under the age of 12 bare minimum.
 And if you are sensitive to this stuff as an adult, you shouldn’t see it either. I didn’t count the number of each swear word used but it was a lot, in every scene.
That said, there is a lot to like in this movie. It makes fun of every black stereo-type we normally see in a movie like this. It makes fun of the tough thug, of the half-wit minions. And it also makes fun of the middle class guys who play video games that require you to kill people.
At any number of points these guys should have been called out for not being who they say they are and yet they aren’t. Each time there is something that keeps them in the game from mishaps to lucky flips to being able to explain how someone like George Michael can relate to a tougher crowd.
_B7A6370.dngAs much as I enjoyed this movie, I also had problems with it. The character of Clarence’s wife bothered me in the way she changed  by the end of the movie and I am not sure it felt right in this bit of farce. Nia Long gets credit for being willing to go out on a limb but I didn’t buy it. I wondered why the one character who knew they were faking it never let on what they knew.
So if watching a violent, profane movie with the cutest kitten on earth about two middle-class guys in over their heads is what you are looking to do, “Keanu” is totally the movie for you.
Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

I was prepared to watch and report on some film adaptation of Shakespeare for this week in an effort to encourage people to see something by the greatest writer of all time.


I choose a great picture of Roberts, not the crap-ass one others have been using.

When Doris Roberts died, I thought about all of the times that she made me laugh on Everybody Loves Raymond. Her timing was superb and she made Marie into someone you could hate or love, depending on the moment. Roberts almost didn’t take the part that would earn her four Emmy awards. At the time she had a busy stage career and thought she would not have time for the role.

Thankfully, she changed her mind and we benefited with nine years of superb comedy. One would think that at the age of 80, Roberts might have considered retirement. But she didn’t. Her credit page is filled with roles since the end of the TV series. In fact, the movie I remember her in during this post-Raymond time period is Aliens In The Attic. It is not a great movie. The story is about two families who vacation together in a huge house with their grandmother.

The cousins realize something is not right and that there are aliens in the attic trying to destroy the house to get at something buried underneath. Worse yet, these aliens can get into a human with a special device and control them. One of the funniest scenes in the movie is when Nana Rose is taken over by these guys and performs some serious kung fu. It is classic Roberts, giving everything for the scene but it did make me wonder how much of the scene she did and how much was a stunt double.

I hope they gave her plenty of painkillers for those sequences.

The other death that occurred this week is the one I cannot wrap my mind around. The artist known as Prince died at the age of 57, leaving behind not only a legacy of superbly played music but also acts of generosity and kindness that were unknown to most of us. For me, Prince wrote huge chunks of my life’s sound track including songs by the Bangles, Sinead O’Conner and Stevie Nicks.

It is shocking he died at the age of 57; he seemed too young to die. That age still seems young in some ways, people are still able to get around and do stuff for the most part. He was still performing on a regular basis.


For Prince, this seems even crazier because while he was a shy man who did not advertise his life he was a larger than life figure. He was always the coolest cat in the room.In the 80s, he put his soul into the Purple Rain album and movie. There was no mistaking that he was singing his life and his emotions.

Later, he took on record companies who treated him unfairly while still performing shows with incredible musicianship. Did you see his performance during the 2009 Superbowl in which Prince played in the pouring rain? There was the George Harrison tribute in which he did a three minute solo that could make anyone weep. Even Eric Clapton, arguably one of the best guitarists ever, stated that Prince was the best.

He was strange and quirky, guarded his privacy, and built a studio in Minneapolis that people could easily see. He had a bevy of beautiful girlfriends, two ex-wives, and a small circle of friends throughout his life. Prince knew what he wanted his sound to be, playing several instruments on his records. As strongly as he controlled his sound, he controlled his image. Those of us at the end of the Baby Boom generation will miss him the most because he was our Bowie, our Stones, our Beatles, our Elvis. And like any other person who dies long before they should have, the knowledge of his absence will simply be shocking.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Finding a Prayer Life

Most of the time, I have to admit I try to avoid the Christian Film industry.
Because most Christian film makers are more interested in the message they have to share that they mess up on the story. If characters are not bent on pointing out how this or that reflects the way that Christ did something, then they get lengthy speeches or monologues pointing out Christ’s teachings.
I don’t know about you but I do not go to the movies to be hit with a sledge hammer.
A few years ago we watched the movie about the girl who lost an arm to a shark bite. There is one scene in which the youth group teacher, played by Carrie Underwood, is presenting her lesson to attentive teenagers. She was able to pontificate without interruption. I reflected on this out loud at one of my rowdy youth group meetings and was told by the kids “you know that is a movie and not real life.”
Another issue I have are the movies that are focused on End Days. The special effects are terrible and sloppy. But that does not even compare to the dialogue which is normally clunky and serves only to move the story into the next predictable movement. Only one scene from the “Left Behind” series has stuck in my brain and that is when the pastor makes his confession to God about the true status of his faith.It was a raw, honest declaration of a man who thought he was fooling everyone, even himself, about the amount of faith he carried.
But I recently watched a Christian movie that came in theaters a few months ago and was happily surprised that the couple and their life situation felt real. Whil;e younger children can watch this movie, I doubt that they would want to as it is contexually made for adults.
The movie I watched was War Room, starring a bunch of people I had never heard of before. In some cases that is a good thing and it worked out for this movie. I came to it with no pre-conceived notions of how these actors were going to play their roles.
War Room Women
The story involves a successful couple by all appearances. Tony and Elizabeth have a large house, a beautiful daughter, and very busy lives. He is a pharmaceutical rep and she is a real estate agent. But they bicker daily. They do not talk to each other well, each conversation is a battle filled with sarcasm and meanness. Meals with their daughter is just another part of the battle field.
But when Elizabeth takes on a new client, Miss Clara, she is taught something that changes her life. She is taught how to use prayer as a way of regaining joy in her life, of regaining her marriage, of regaining her family.
War Room father and daughterI realize this is hard for some to believe. But one of the things I liked about this movie was the doubt that Elizabeth felt in trying this new way of praying. I liked that when the changes inside of her began to reflect how she treated her husband, that Tony was suspicious and wondering. I liked that their new life took time and did not immediately start off all shiny and new.
Another thing I liked about Miss Clara is that she was real. Her victory dance in the kitchen was quirky but probable for her character. Most of us know that you can’t stop a mugger in his tracks by invoking the name of the Lord. But how many of us know someone who would do it anyway. Her character was not over used but put in for the right amount of spice.
It may not be a great movie but the Kendrick Brothers and the various production companies involved have also put out Fireproof, Courageous, and Mom’s Night Out. They are showing how to make a Christian movie that is more story that shows faith instead of telling us. It forces us to ask some serious questions about our prayer life and if we want to change how we are living without the aforementioned sledgehammer. And that is a big step up for the industry.
Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Remembering Alan