Tag Archive: parents

Slice of Life

Family Movie Night


When does a movie go from comedy to slice of life?


For me, it is when the action slows down and requires the main character to cross a line. This might mean he has to make a moral decision, it might mean he has to stand up to someone who wants him to do wrong.


It might be funny or serious but in the end it feels as if a moral victory has been won by the main character and we, the viewers, feel rejuvenated by his decision.


I ask this because Cedar Rapids comes to the home market this week and the reviews are mixed. Some professional reviewers loved it while others hated it.  I am curious to see this movie because when it first came out, I heard many wonderful opinions of this movie.


There was amazement that a movie that had so much raunchy humor could also be sweet and touching.


The story is about an insurance agent who gets sent to his company’s convention in Iowa in order to win back a coveted award. Tim has always lived in his small Wisconsin town and has never moved, emotionally, beyond a high school stage of life. And what he sees at this convention with the men he shares a room at the hotel is eye opening.


He shares a room with a loud mouth braggart and a black man who is much like Tim. Along the way he meets a prostitute and an assertive female agent from Nebraska who, along with his roommates, help him grow up a bit and deal with the convention.


Ed Helms stars as Tim, playing the straight man to John C. Reilly and Anne Heche, among others. This is a movie meant for adults with an “R” rating, the humor contains plenty of naughty bits that is funny in its place but not appropriate for younger members of the family.


I haven’t seen it yet. But from everything I have read, it reminds me of Barbershop starring Ice Cube. When I first saw this movie, I did not think there was much there. No car chases or big fight scenes but a picture of a neighborhood.


It was later when I saw it a second time that I realized what made Barbershop such a gem. The moments of joy, the moments of truth telling and crazy statements. People may not always get along and you wonder how it all stands together.  In the end it is about family – the one you are born into and the one you create.


This movie does have a PG-13 rating and single use of the f-bomb. Parents need to think about what they would allow their children to watch before putting in this selection.


Finally, if you are looking for a family-friendly ‘slice-of-life’ movie, one of my favorites is How to Eat Fried Worms.” The story revolves around a sixth grader who moves to a new school. Being the new kid he must get past the school bully. To do that the eating of worms are involved. The fun is seeing how a boy who has a very quesy stomach reacts to having to eat worms without throwing up. This is one movie I would watch with my younger children again and again.


Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.


Priceless Gifts

Recently, I was sent The Waiting Place by Eileen Button from Booksneeze.com to review. I  received only the book and was asked to give a review – be it bad or good.

Image from Barnesandnoble.com

I raced through it.

I found myself wanting to read more but there are only so many essays. Button writes about that sometimes wonderful, sometimes awful place in our lives when waiting is the only thing we can do. She talks about  sitting while her mother gives her the daily hair-do, waiting with her dad while fishing, waiting with a sick child in the hospital, waiting out a spouse’s depression.

What makes it interesting to me is that Button is the wife of a pastor.  But she never takes the road of suddenly opening the bible during a bad time and magically finding the answer. She looks to prayer and scripture for solace, for strength.

Her faith is challenged by various situations. And yet she sees hope, the blessings that happen in these situations. Sometimes, you have to listen for God’s word and the only time you do is when you are forced to stop and wait.

Each of these essays are a gem that you want to read again. Each one teaches without being outright preachy. That is why, according to Elizabeth Berg, The Waiting Place is “a box of literary bonbons.”

Last week I was reading this entry by a blogger who titled his post “I will Check My Phone at Dinner and You Will Deal With It.”

Picture by Alvimann

He tells the story of being at dinner with his parents and how his mother asked him to put away the phone. So he checked it under the table every ten minutes or so. Then he proceeds to state that this is the new norm, everyone does it and to get off his case. Look around a restaurant and you will see what he means. Everyone, including those people over 50, is doing it.

I suddenly felt like bitch-slapping him across the wire.

He did that to his mother and father. He did that to his mother and father in a restaurant. He did that to his mother and father in a restaurant in public.

I wanted to ask “how old are you, 11?” I wanted to ask if he had really wanted to be at this dinner. I wanted to ask if he was paying or were his parents. If it had been the latter and I was his parent, I think I would have left him the bill. Or I might have grabbed the device and said “you will get it back after dinner.” Wait, I forgot a classic parent speak. “If everyone is acting like a moron, you should too?

Overwhelmingly, the response to this blog was condemnation for the young man. He was called boorish and rude. An idiot, inconsiderate and a poor dinner partner. People recounted how they had seen that behavior in their pre-teen kids or other diners sitting at a table and not talking to one another.

In response, I took the time to come up with a few “rules” one might call device etiquette when out for dinner, even if you are at a diner. This is when it is appropriate to bring out the smart phone when having a meal with others.

You can bring out your cell phone/device …

1. While waiting, alone, for the rest of your party to show up or return from the bathroom.

2. You need to check Wikipedia to prove your point in the argument.

3. Someone asks about your new app and you are showing it to them.

4. You are a doctor on call or you are a lawyer awaiting the return of a jury with a verdict.

5. You are calling for emergency services when one of your fellow diners is suffering a stroke or heart attack.

Picture by Crass

It is that simple. I shouldn’t have to explain it. But apparently there are people who think they need to check Facebook, e-mail, twitter, etc. every few minutes or else they might be dead. The truth is you don’t unless it is for rule #4. At meal times you should be present for the conversation, for the meal presentation and the eating of the meal. If the other person gets a different dish than what you ordered, you ask to sample it.

You communicate, you share, you verbally ‘post’ your feelings. It is called “talking to each other.” We did it a lot before cell phone became more than cell phones.

How do you dictate cell phone use at the dinner table in your family?

Family Movie Night

I read that article in the Daily Journal about Mr. Palin leaving our school district and going to Grant Park to be their superintendent.

Honestly, I almost broke down crying when I saw it. I feel as if Mr. Palin has done so well by our kids and it will be a shame to see him go.

On the other hand, I understand his reasoning for moving on to Grant Park and being there as his own kids go through their school life. I really do as I have tried to have jobs that allowed me to be home more than away.

Which is not to say that I want to be understanding.  Or losing Mr. Palin is, in no way shape or form, easy. It is there and we have to deal. That’s life sometimes. That is what happens in schools. Changes happen and we as parents have to deal with those changes.

Waiting For Superman movie poster; Picture from IMDb.com.

I was thinking about this issue this week because Waiting For Superman is coming out on DVD.

This documentary was directed by David Guggenheim who also directed An Inconvenient Truth. What this movie does is to explore what is working and not working in American school systems.

There have been many criticisms about this movie – such as that Guggenheim is going after bad teachers and the unions that protect them. That Guggenheim does not address the class size issue or parental involvement. It is noted that in this movie, parents are requesting conferences which does not happen in real life.

On the other hand, it is necessary to have this discussion. We are told in study after study that American school children are falling behind other developed countries. No Child Left Behind was supposed to help but I am not sure if it ever did. Did any school ever get taken over by the feds after years on the watch list? What have we done for the last few years beyond teach our kids to have the knowledge to take tests? Was there a worth beyond those tests.

Perhaps what I expect when I will see this movie is to have some questions, to wonder and think. I hope to see where some solutions may come in, to make things better. Not all teachers are phoning it in; not all parents care about their kid’s school work. But that doesn’t mean we give up. It means we find a way to teach our kids better. So let’s open the floor for discussion.

I am starting by watching this documentary and see where it takes me. 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Let the world know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and leave a favorite pick below. You never know, I might use it in the future.

Lindsey in Mean Girls, Picture from IMDb.com

Last week, Lindsay Lohan found out that she would be going to jail for not complying with the terms of her probation.

She needed to show up for classes and court dates. That seemed to be an impossible task for Lohan. Reading all of this makes me sad because just a few years ago this girl had a hot acting career. By all appearances, she has enough talent to be successful for years to come.

Picture by MConners

What doomed Lohan, besides her own bad behavior, is the chaos train her parents choose to live on and dragging their kids along for the ride. Can there be anything more chaotic than living with an alcoholic parent? Maybe it is having an alcoholic parent and a self-absorbed parent.

Lohan appears to be blessed with both. Her father states he is trying to help his daughter while the rest of the clan pushes him out because he is grubbing after her money. Mom is not much better, gaining a TV show for a time. All because Lohan is famous –  now for being famous – but before she was a truly talented actress.

Elijah wood and Lindsay Lohan in Bobby (2006), picture from IMDb.com.

Want proof? Rent a copy of Bobby directed by Emilio Estevez. This movie focuses on the day Robert Kennedy was assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan. We see the stories of various people at the hotel for the California post-primary celebration. But their thoughts and actions are not focused on Kennedy’s chances.

Lohan plays a young woman about to marry a classmate so he will not be sent to Vietnam. Her high school class has already seen young men lost to the war effort and it hurts her to see these lives lost. Lohan glows in the part. Her actions are understated and feel right at every moment. The same happens in Prairie Home Companion

Garrison Keillor, Lily Tomlin, Meryl Streep look on as Lindsay Lohan sings in A Prairie Home Companion. Picture from IMDb.com

with Meryl Streep. Lohan is disdainful of her silly goofy mother but loves hearing stories of her father. And yet, she is great.

This can also be said for earlier performances in Mean Girls and Freaky Friday. She was even good in a trailer that was featured in The Holiday starring Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet. So where does Lohan go now?

Her newest lawyer, Robert Shapiro, has made her go back for rehab. Hopefully she stays and gets the real help she needs. Hopefully, she comes out with the ability to act like a grown-up in her personal life that her professional partners in various projects says she displays on a regular basis. All this after she serves her jail time.

Then she is going to have to cut off her parents from her life. They have no clue about limits or boundaries. Dina Lohan used her daughter’s Carvel Ice Cream card so much that the company revoked it. Lohan had been given a card that would allow for 75 years of free ice cream.

Dad can’t seem to keep his mouth shut and even dropped the F-bomb on Shepard Smith on Fox News. He complained about her new lawyer and feels that all are against his efforts to save his daughter. But then today, Lindsay has made a public statement that she wants her father to stay away for the time being. She states he is a font of negative activity in her life.

Once that all happens, Lindsay, find some indie flicks. Remind us of that great promise you hold inside of you. Wow us again. But this time, do it with your head screwed on as straight as possible.