Tag Archive: notes from rumbly cottage


bannedbooks-2016

 

It is that special week again when we celebrate books that were challenged or banned in libraries and school libraries across the country. I hope that the ALA does not mind I took their great graphic and the list of the top ten banned or challenged books for 2015.

  1. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”).
  3. I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
    Reasons: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group.
  4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
    Reasons: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”).
  5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
    Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”).
  6. The Holy Bible
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint.
  7. Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
    Reasons: Violence and other (“graphic images”).
  8. Habibi, by Craig Thompson
    Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence.
  10. Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
    Reasons: Homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”).

So ask yourself when was the last time you read a banned book, on purpose?

Civil Disobediance

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

With Pumpkin Fest coming and the theme being Pumpkins in Paradise, my mind keeps playing the old Jimmy Buffet song, Cheeseburgers in Paradise.

Wrong, so wrong and yet there it is.

pumpkin-fest-porchInstead, I am trying to focus on the fun aspects of the annual fest with the parade going by my house, pumpkins on our steps for decoration, and the need to make sure all cars are properly parked and out of the way before parade time.

Well, at least our steps are filled with pumpkins.

But this week has also seen the release of the latest Marvel Comics movie, Captain America:Civil War.

For fans of action movies and movies with a bit of fantasy, this is a winner.

I like Marvel for allowing characters to grow and develop. I like that they explore themes and realistic emotional scenarios. Most of us may never deal with aliens trying to take over our world. But we do have family members dealing with post-traumatic stress. And for those who follow politics, we know people who may like each other but really disagree on how to keep America safe.

In fact, that issue drives this movie. Because of the events in past movies and lives that have been lost and cities that have been damaged beyond repair, it has been decided by the UN that superheroes need to register and that they will only ‘help’ in situations in which they are called upon to help.

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) agrees with this policy and feels superheroes need to be reined in. But Captain America (Chris Pine), the WWII hero, feels this is the wrong way to go. He is a veteran of the war in which people were separated out for their differences and does not want to be impeded to give help whenever help is needed.

Captain America Civil WarThe fight becomes brutal and personal when Bucky, the Winter Soldier, resurfaces as the possible culprit of a nasty bombing and assassination of an African king. There will be long time repercussions from this event. Soon, people are divided and they are recruiting new and old members to join the fight.

I find this to be a well done addition to the series. It is the last of the Captain America movies, although not the last time for us to see Captain America. It features the inclusion of new characters (Ant-Man and Falcon) while unveiling a few new friends (Spiderman and Black Panther), one of whom are clearly in awe of everyone he is fights for and against.

It is an entertaining movie with it’s one-liners and smart retorts. Characters still speak to each other as friends, even when they hate each others’ guts. There are plenty of explosions and fights to the death, including the last big fight between Cap and Iron man.

This may not be a movie for your youngest child or one that has a short tolerance for the action violence. There is one spot that might make a protective parent wary. But in the end , I enjoyed the movie for being willing to ask tough questions about power and the wielding of it.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Feel the Binge

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

One aspect of this new way of looking at movies and TV shows through streaming that I find fascinating is the ability to binge-watch anything.

And I do mean anything.

flashMy older son still at home is currently watching The Flash, a newer TV show on the CW network about the DC comic speedy superhero. Before that, he watched all of the latest episodes of Arrow, about the crime fighting archer., another DC comic book superhero.

And he does this through Netflix.

My daughter does the same but with an Australian show about a group of students studying at a prestigious dance academy in Sidney. I started watching the show with her and found myself intrigued.

So how does one start in a binge session.?

I think there are two theories on this.

The first requires planning and thought. First start with buying a DVD or checking out your steaming system for a complete season of your favorite show. Before you can plan the watching time, there is another factor you must take into account: The snacks.

big-bang-theoryMy personal preference is for Cheetos but since that is off the diet now I go for buttered popcorn sprinkled with cinnamon. Perhaps you prefer nachos or pizza. The point is you want to make sure you’re completely stocked for a season’s worth of The Big Bang Theory or Ninja Warriors. That includes beverages and TP. There is nothing worse than being in the middle of a binge watching session and running out of TP.

That requires you to leave the house after hours of binging wearing pajama pants and a tee shirt with greasy food stains on it. Ain’t nobody got time or the desire to see that.

finding-bigfootBut once you’re set, go for that binge session of Downton Abbey or Finding Bigfoot or SpongeBob. Keep at it all day and all night until you have seen each and every episode whether it is on a DVD or streaming.

Theory one requites planning and organization, which some of us like to do.

Then there is my second theory.

It’s the one in which you find yourself with free time, like an entire day of free time. So you turn on the TV, search through available programming and start watching something, something you have vaguely heard about, such as Supernatural or Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Dog with a Blog. The first episode or two are great or at least passable but you want to see more.

buffy-the-vampire-slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The next thing you know fourteen hours have passed, you made it through a season, and the dog is dancing around with his legs crossed. Your clothes are rumpled, stained with any food you found in the meantime, and you begin to dance around the room with your legs crossed.

There is no planning, no stored snacks or TP, and the dog is ready to bite you.

But what a great run of your favorite TV show in a matter of hours.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

The Craft of a Good Actor

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

It wasn’t that he was goofy looking or had funny eyes that made Gene Wilder funny. It was that he was willing to take every character and every scene to the nth degree. He wasn’t the romantic lead or the true action hero. But what Wilder gave us was perfect comic timing and ideas that seemed outlandish until he performed them.

VARIOUS - 1979

Mandatory Credit: Photo by STEVE WOOD/REX/Shutterstock (74497b) GENE WILDER VARIOUS – 1979

Interestingly enough, Wilder stated that comedy was even funnier when you played scenes straight. You don’t need to make funny faces or sounds, playing the scene as most people might live it can be funny.

As soon as the word came out that Wilder passed away last week, my husband instantly stated we needed to get Blazing Saddles. It is this movie, Willy Wonka, Young Frankenstein, and Silver Streak that may be what Wilder is known for doing. It is these movies that he seems to be the straight man while creating total havoc.

It is a different formula from what the Marx Brothers were doing but his work makes us laugh just as hard. It could be the timid accountant in The Producers or the mad creator doing the soft shoe with his monster in Young Frankenstein. His performances always seem like he is completely present in that character no matter what the character is doing, whether it is a mean character or someone kind of sweet and lost.

Wilder had not performed in movies for the last twenty years. He stated that he did not like the modern films with so much swearing and explosions that seem to make no sense to the actual story. Then in the last three years, Wilder dealt with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. He left public life after that. It was comforting to hear that in the end he was surrounded by family and listening to Ella Fitzgerald.

tom-cavenaughAnother actor in that mold of playing it straight no matter what is Tom Cavenagh. My son watches the CW network show, The Flash in which Cavenagh plays a bad guy masquerading as a good guy. Each side of his character is believable. I find his character especially compelling because Cavenagh has played a number of good guys.

His first big role was in the TV show Ed in which he played a former New York lawyer who comes home to his small town, buys the local bowling alley, and sets up a new law practice. He sweetly romances the girl he had a crush on during high school with some success and some failure. But you instantly like this guy. It feels that what you see is what you get. I have noticed this in other movies as well.

But in The Flash, there is something different driving the character. He has a desire to create what he needs to happen in the future and so he must be a mentor to the one person he will destroy in the future. While I would say that The Flash is better for teens and young adults, Cavenagh’s other movies – Yogi Bear and How to Eat Fried Worms are better movies for younger children.

As for Wilder’s movies, Willy Wonka is better for the younger generation but his other movies are more suited for teens.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Hathahate

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

For whatever reasons I am seeing a lot of hate for Anne Hathaway.

Why would any one hate Anne, right? I know what you are thinking, she was so cute in those Princess Diary movies. And she was great in Les Mis, she sang so beautifully in that movie. I honestly thought she was an angel in Jean’s death scene.

But there are plenty of people who hate the 33-year-old actress.

Anne HathawayThey say she grew up in the theater and therefore she has picked up a lot of ‘theater kid’ bad habits. She is always willing to give it one more try, willing to suck up to the director. She has little ticks that give away what she is thinking about as she is acting.

In fact, there are times that I wonder why she didn’t go harder in various scenes in movies such as The Intern (2015) where she could have been a more Miranda Priestly type. I always felt that character, with as much as she had to say about modern feminism, needed to be tougher in the workplace. Yes, she is cool and hip but her assistant has a meltdown worthy for a boss who is meaner.

Perhaps the problem is more that Anne Hathaway is incredibly beautiful and talented. It is true that she became known because of a Disney movie. She performed in a few other fairy tale-based movies. But Hathaway has also taken risks, such as when she was Jake Gyllenhall’s wife in Brokeback Mountain (2005). She is playing a woman who may or may not know that her husband is gay. But she went after him and their marriage is not entirely unhappy.

Anne Hathaway CatwomanAnother risk taking role for Hathaway is in The Dark Knight Rises (2012). Here she is playing Cat Woman, not as a sexy siren but as a woman willing to do what it takes to survive. Perhaps not as seductive as Michelle Pfeifer’s turn, Hathaway brings a toughness we haven’t seen in her before. Yes, she is a criminal and she is willing to do what it takes to get the job done. In this version, Selina Kyle does not have any regret over her actions. She has her reasons and sticks to a code of her own making.

Her toughness really comes through in Rachel Getting Married (2009) as she plays a young woman released from rehab in order to attend her older sister’s wedding. While filled with one liners and heart breaking truths, it gets down to the nitty gritty about guilt and how one comes back from the worst thing they ever did in life. Hathaway does not play it safe in this movie, seldom letting her own sunny personality come through.

Les Mis Fantine IMDb com

Anne Hathaway as Fantine in Les Miserable, image from IMDb.com

Perhaps my favorite movie with Hathaway is Les Miserables (2012). It is a long, heart breaking opera-style movie about the poor in post-revolution France. Here, Hathaway must be hopeless, downtrodden, filled with despair as she loses her job and must find other degrading ways to earn the money needed to support her daughter. And yet she is the moral center of the story, she is the one who gives us hope in the end.

Is the Hathahate true hate or is it jealousy?

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

We all need a bogeyman, something or someone to blame when life doesn’t go the way we want. But we also crave for a way to make life feel safe.

That is when certain movies are good for nothing more than setting up a villain and working to destroy him or her.

We all have some sort of action movie that is great for stress relief, that helps us see sometimes problems can be solved.

Bruce Willis Die Hard IMDb com

Bruce Willis as John McClane in Die Hard, picture from IMDb.com

I always felt that was the appeal of the Die Hard series. John McClane as the rogue cop always managed to take down the terrorists, the villain, the bad guy with smart aleck one liners and a profane cry to let his opponents know there was nothing he wouldn’t do to save his family.

We love it of course, as John McClane does it all by fighting the bad guys be it opportunistic journalists or foreign terrorists seeking to kill while getting away with the cash.

London_Has_Fallen_posterTo me, that is the appeal of London Has Fallen starring Gerard Butler. This movie is a sequel to Olympus Has Fallen in which disgraced Secret Service officer Mike Banning saves the life of the president and his son when terrorists attack the White House.

It’s two years later in London Has Fallen; Butler is now the personal guard of the president played by Aaron Eckhart. He goes along for every trip, including a funeral service for the Prime Minister of England. It looks to be a security nightmare that various agencies are working to prevent.

Until that is the worst does happen. Bombs explode on bridges, monuments, boats. Leaders from a variety of countries are killed. Many of the cops are not real cops but terrorists waiting to cause complete destruction.

I can’t tell you the number of things I could not believe Gerard can do. He hung out of a speeding car and shot at the other vehicles driven by the villains. He took over the driving when the other guy was shot while driving. He took on various enemy combatants and beat them at their own game. All the while, the personal guard of the President is doing everything he can to keep his charge alive. The nursery awaiting his child had six security cameras in it.

London has fallen 2Is this movie any good? Well, there are some great explosions as various buildings are destroyed. The unending supply of minions is humorous when you take the time to think about it. The movie is watchable with funny little moments thrown in, such as the president finding himself behind the wheel of an SUV after seven years of not driving and wondering if he can still do it.

I think there is an audience for this movie with some cheesy lines and an easy villain with whom we can relate. There is swearing and some bloody violence. It is not for the younger kids. My son wants to watch it and at 19, he is the perfect age for it. I have to admit, I will probably not look for this movie but if it shows up on cable, I will probably watch it.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

The Political Yarn

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

In these weeks of political focus, two conventions deciding our presidential candidates, I have been thinking about those movies that dip into that realm.

Perhaps it is me but I see politics and societal commentary everywhere from the recent kid movie Zooptopia to blatant political satire of Our Brand is Crisis.

Our Brand is CrisisThis latest movie starring Academy Award winner Sandra Bullock is about a broken political consultant who prefers to work on pottery in a backwoods home. But she is pulled back into the game to help a South American politician win the presidency of his country.

She is not only battling the personality of a politician she doesn’t like but also a competitor helping the other (and perhaps) better candidate. This is the story of a woman battling depression, addiction issues, and altitude sickness to help a candidate she is being paid to help. What she does for her employer is not always pretty and in the end, she has to decide if she can live with her actions.

It is a good solid movie that is not meant for young children with its swearing and violence. Then again, children might be bored with the adult context of the movie.

wag the dogAnother movie that might bore them to pieces is Wag The Dog starring Robert DeNiro as a political operative who needs to create a distraction for his boss, the POTUS, who may or may not have been inappropriate with a girl scout-like group. So he brings in movie producer Dustin Hoffman to create that distraction involving a potential war in Albania.

It is a big boondoggle of a set up that could give a movie producer bragging rights for years or at least a really great story if only he could tell the story. Which he can’t because it is all top secret. Is this scenario possible? I don’t know but sometimes when I watch the latest scandal, in the back of my mind I am always wondering if this is the tail of the story or the real meat of it all.

Again, not a great movie for kids with it’s low key action and some bad words. Even adults who prefer a lot of action will probably be bored by this movie. But I love it for every actor, including musician Willie Nelson, who moved out of their comfort zone to give great performances making fun of a process that needs to be ridiculed.

mr smith does to washingtonFinally, if you have not seen Mr. Smith Goes to Washington with Jimmy Stewart, perhaps you should. This 1939 Frank Capra is a classic about a politically naive man who is appointed to the Senate and wages a war against corruption. He even runs a filibuster to make sure right is the law of the land and not big money.

For me it is how politicians go to Washington, how they leave depends on the evil they do to others. With great speeches and tremendous acting Stewart and Claude Rains put together a movie that searches for the true meaning of political action that is meant to help the rest of the citizens, not harm them.,

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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.`