Monthly Archives: June 2022
THE WAY SHE DESCRIBED HER HUSBAND to me was to say he was a roommate that she tried to tolerate. I found her statement sad. To live every day trying to tolerate your significant other sounded like an awful way to live. I asked her if she ever loved him and she said yes, when they were much younger. From my own experiences, I was familiar with the progression of a relationship; you know, the initial falling for someone known as the “honeymoon” phase. This is where one begins to have feelings for the other, some would say infatuation. The next stage is where things start to get serious, where the dating couple begin to define their relationship and talk about the future. Next is the tough stage labeled “disillusionment.” Here is where doubt plays a part as fantasy and reality merge together. Once the couple can push through this stage, they will come to stage four which is real love. It is acceptance of each one’s flaws and imperfections, where one focuses more on the other as both are in it for the long term, for better or worse. The final stage is where the couple work together as one, blending strengths and weaknesses that can make a difference. I had to ask her what happened that changed their relationship. FROM THE THINGS SHE TOLD ME about her marriage, one thing stood out for me. There was a lack of communication between the two of them. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen relationships dissolve because the people were not able to communicate their feelings to each other. There was someone I dated years ago who would not share their feelings with me. At times I would ask how they felt about a situation that happened to them, just to get an idea of what things illicit a negative or positive reaction in them. More times than not, they would say what they thought I wanted to hear which I found ludicrous. As you may have guessed, the relationship did not last long. It is funny; after many years, I still remember my college sociology teacher who used the term “holy deadlock” to describe a couple who have lost their love for each other and do not have the energy to make a change. When friends of mine have been in a relationship that appears to be unhealthy, I will ask them why they are staying in it. Several have simply said they do not want to be alone. But this begs the question, “Aren’t they already alone?” In this dramatic comedy, one can see what happens when one has lived such a life. WIDOWED AND RETIRED, A FORMER SCHOOL teacher decides to become a pupil to experience something she had never experienced in her marriage. With Emma Thompson (Late Night, A Walk in the Woods) as Nancy Stokes, Daryl McCormack (Pixie, Peaky Blinders-TV) as Leo Grande and Isabella Laughland (Harry Potter franchise, The Last of the Haussmans) as Becky; this movie took a story done many times before and gave it a twist that was perfectly executed by Emma and Daryl. I thought they worked well together, making their characters believable and emotional. This was one of Emma’s best performances. Considering the limited location, I was never bored while watching and listening to these two adults having a full conversation about personal issues. The writers did an excellent job. Communication is the key in any relationship and this picture displays it in a thoughtful, beautiful way.
3 ½ stars
WE WERE SITTING AND HAVING A SCRUMPTIOUS dinner at a restaurant, when a couple walked up to me and said, “What a surprise to see you eating all that food!” Now if they were total strangers I might have been offended; however, I knew them from my fitness classes. I asked them why it was a surprise to see me with a plate of food and they replied they assumed with me being so healthy teaching classes, I would have stayed away from restaurant portion sized food. I could not resist so asked them what they thought I would have been eating; they said a healthy sized salad. Really?!?! Granted I always try to eat a salad every day but more of an appetizer size before the main course. We exchanged a few more words before they wished me well and excused themselves. I sort of wished they had stayed longer to see the chocolate dessert I was expecting soon. My friends at the table were curious to know, based on the conversation they heard, why the couple thought all I would be eating would be raw vegetables and tofu. I explained how this has happened to be before throughout my teaching years. People assume based on how I look and act in class, that I am some type of “intense fitness person” who maintains a strict diet. To tell you the truth, I am used to hearing this; but I try to impress upon them and the rest of the members of my classes that one must find balance with their daily food intake. I can splurge on a Saturday night because I am carefully watching my food choices during the weekdays. HAVING EXPERIENCED INCIDENTS SUCH AS THESE throughout my years of teaching fitness, I wonder if it is in our nature to quickly make assumptions based on visual information. I have certainly been guilty of doing such a thing from time to time; though I do not act on such assumptions unless proof is provided. For example, I was introduced to a friend’s friend. From the brief time we all spent together, I felt he was a cheat. We all went out to eat and when the bill came, he picked it up, scanned it and told us what each of us owed. Because he was the only one who ordered alcohol, I would have thought he would have taken that out of the money we owed, but he did not. Not too much later after that meeting, I heard about him cheating a friend out of money. In this case my impression was correct. But I can certainly see how acting on first impressions can result in erroneous conclusions. If you need to see some proof, then I suggest you view this comedic drama. COMING HOME TO PREPARE FOR A night of partying, two friends discover a woman passed out on their living room floor. They wondered what the police would think if they saw this scenario. With RJ Cyler (The Harder They Fall, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) as Sean, Donald Elise Watkins (Free State of Jones, Black Box) as Kunle, Sebastian Chacon (Angelfish, Pose-TV) as Carlos, Sabrina Carpenter (The Hate U Give, Tall Girl) as Maddy and Maddie Nichols (Anderson Bench, Like Son) as Emma; this thriller posed multiple questions for the viewer to ponder. I enjoyed this film and thought the writers did an excellent job of presenting significant issues in a poignantly funny way, side by side with real concerns and feelings. It did take me a little time at first to get into the story until I realized that part of the film felt like an eighty’s slapstick comedy, though it was kept to a small amount. When the movie ended, it did not leave me; I kept thinking about how easy it is to make assumptions about individuals without getting to know them. If the writers hoped they would get the viewer to think while entertaining them, they succeeded.
MY JOB WAS NAVIGATION ON THE ship; rarely did I ever take on the role of captain. We were traveling in uncharted space; so, we were under a yellow alert, which meant everyone had to be at their assigned places, ready to go into action. I wound up steering the ship because my commanders were impressed with my instincts and ability to outmaneuver alien spacecraft. Our ship looked like an arrow; it was built streamlined for maximum speed. The front half was a triangular shiny silver shape, and the back half was an oversized cylinder that housed our massive engines. The bridge was at the base of the triangle, slightly elevated above the front half. At the forefront, just under the tip of the front part of the triangle, were a series of weapons that were incorporated into the design of the ship. We as a crew always strived to come in peace; however, if we were threatened, we could quickly become assertive to protect ourselves. On one trip, we encountered an alien ship that was shaped like half a circular dome with two long engines jutting out on one side. The dome had a honeycomb pattern to it. Without warning they started shooting at us, but luckily are protective shields withstood the blasts. I quickly steered the ship to dive underneath the enemy and blast them with our aft laser cannons to disable their craft. It worked. I NOTICED IT WAS GETTING LATE, so I quickly got up from the floor and put my rocket ship back in the kitchen drawer that held serving utensils. My rocket ship was a pie server. The enemy spaceship was a strainer that I hung back up on its hook in the pantry. There was so much cookware that I was never at a loss for finding something that I could pretend was a rocket ship or alien headquarters. There was a hand mixer that was one of my favorite kitchen items to turn into a rocket ship because by turning the handle, the two beaters would spin and become the engines that would propel the converted ship forward in the air or submerge and propel it underwater. Our kitchen was a treasure trove of objects and things that would stimulate my imagination to create a multitude of outer space adventures. Even ballpoint pens would become rocket ships to help Flash Gordon defeat Ming the Merciless and any other character I had seen or created. The feelings I have attached to these memories were stirred up while watching this animated, action, adventure film. DESPITE BEING STRANDED ON A FOREIGN planet, the mission still needed to be completed according to Buzz Lightyear, voiced by Chris Evans (Gifted, Captain America franchise), no matter what was taking place around him. With Keke Palmer (Hustlers, Joyful Noise) voicing Izzy Hawthorne, Peter Sohn (Luca, It Starts with Murder!) voicing SOX, Taika Waititi (The Suicide Squad, Free Guy) voicing Mo Morrison and Dale Soules (Aardvark, Orange is the New Black-TV) voicing Darby Steel; this science fiction movie was enjoyable. The animation was outstanding, with several incredible looking scenes. I thought the cast did an excellent job with their characters and was surprised by the emotional depth that was instilled in several of them. My concern with this picture comes down to the story line. The opening scene appeared to steer the story one way, but then there was no other reference to it the rest of the time. With the multiple story lines, I found they were distracting at times and lowered the connection between viewer and character. Granted, the story was not unusual or that exciting; however, the messages being conveyed were touching and the execution of events with its own unique humor made the time go pleasantly by. Though this Pixar movie might not reach the super status level of their previous works, I still found it stimulating and imaginative. There were two extra scenes during and at the end of the credits.
I COULD NOT IMAGINE WHAT THE COMPANY did to him that would make him seek revenge. Most of my interactions with him were pleasant and non-confrontational; he was a salesperson after all. If I were to base my opinion on material things, I would say he was making a good living selling the company’s products. He was always fashionably dressed; I cannot recall him ever wearing anything that appeared old or worn. Both his and his wife’s cars were always new and sporty; I think he traded in his cars every other year. Also, I remember him showing me vacation pictures from time to time. So yes, I believed he was successful at his job. There was no indication of his scheming to get back at the company. I did not learn of his misdeeds until after he was fired. If there were any other actions brought against him, I was not aware. It turns out he was either running a clever ruse or the company’s protocols left much to be desired. It turns out he was having the company set up what they believed were new accounts. However, most of them were friends/acquaintances of his or post office boxes he was setting up himself. His “customer” orders were turned in after he changed the prices on the products, getting the items below cost. Once the product shipped, he would arrange to receive them at these various locations. Since all his orders were marked prepaid, he would turn in cash for them. UNBEKNOWNST TO THE COMPANY, HE WAS renting storage space at various locations. The way I heard how the story went was a fellow employee found a posting on a social media site that showed one of our products. After investigating further, this employee discovered our products were being sold for a cheaper price than what we could sell them for. Essentially, he was stealing from the company by lowering the cost of all the products he was buying from us under an alias, then putting them up for sale on several internet sites. Every sale had a huge markup which he pocketed for himself. I also heard he tried stealing a customer master list from us, but he was caught with it and tried making excuses on why he wanted to take it home. As I mentioned earlier, if the company pressed charges against him, I was not told. All I knew is he had damaged the company’s name by stealing from them. Oh, and I heard once he sold the product, he was never available to offer any type of customer service to his buyers. Too bad I could not find out his reasons as clearly as the ones that were laid out in this action, adventure film. A VIKING PRINCE SPENDS YEARS PREPARING to avenge his father’s death that he witnessed as a young boy. His rage is what kept him warm. With Alexander Skarsgard (The Kill Team, The Hummingbird Project) as Amleth, Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos, The Prom) as Queen Gudrun, Claes Bang (The Square, The Last Vermeer) as Fjolnir the Brotherless, Ethan Hawke (Tesla, The Kid) as King Aurvandil War-Raven and Anya Taylor-Joy (The New Mutants, The Queen’s Gambit-TV) as Olga of the Birch Forest; this drama was beautiful to watch despite all the blood and violence. I thought the cast was excellent and well suited to their roles; however, I could not figure out what this film wanted to be. It was part fantasy, part Game of Thrones and part folklore; it was distracting. The story was not that unusual. If it were not for the cast and filming, I would have been bored and uncomfortable having to sit through all the cringe-worthy scenes. In my opinion, the script needed to be more refined in its ability to tell an exciting, dramatic story. Using this film as a reference point, the couple of times where I was revengeful were nothing compared to the intensity displayed in this picture.
2 ½ stars
THERE NEVER WAS A TIME WHEN the shop’s floor was clean of chicken feathers. A relative worked at a butcher’s shop not too far from our home. I was young enough where I needed adult supervision still, not old enough to go by myself. The feathers were mostly whitish in color, covering most of the floor; it looked like it was snow melting after a couple of days of warmer weather. I would walk around, shuffling my feet, to stir up the feathers so they would float in the air for a moment like dust on a windy day, before gliding back onto the floor. The sound of clucking chickens was constant, coming beyond the swinging doors behind the counter. I was too young to understand these live chickens would soon be killed to become someone’s meal. At that age, I must have thought they were being kept as pets. There were several men all dressed in long, white aprons that stood behind the glass counters to take customers’ food orders. Besides the chicken feathers, my other strong memory is the different pieces of equipment these men would use to fill orders. Blocks of meat would be pushed through one hole and come out like thick strings in an opposite opening. It was the oddest thing for me to watch, yet I would be mesmerized by the different shapes and sizes of things being wrapped in some type of waxy, white paper that came off big rolls at each carving table. AS I WAS GROWING UP, IT did not take long for me to realize that every item in that shop came from a live animal. When I was a small child, I did not make the connection that animals were a food source; in my mind they were pets. But after this new realization, I stopped going to that butcher shop. I did not want to see the process from live to grocery bag. To this day I do not eat red meat; the idea of it has never sat right with me. With that being said, I can appreciate the fact that the items in the butcher shop were as fresh as one could get compared to most people’s way of shopping today. When I see a package that mentions GMO (genetically modified organism), I get scared. The idea of eating something that has been genetically altered frightens me. Maybe it is my ignorance on the subject, but I wonder how the human body will manage something that was tweaked, for whatever reason, to produce a stronger or disease resistant product. What then does the body do with that when it is consumed? Before you answer that, maybe you should see what takes place in this action, adventure sequel. WITH DINOSAURS NOW LIVING OUT IN the open among humans, the standard list of animals on the food chain is in a bad need of an update. With Chris Pratt (The Tomorrow War, The Kid) as Owen Grady, Bryce Dallas Howard (The Help, Rocketman) as Claire Dearing, Laura Dern (Marriage Story, Little Women) as Ellie Sattler, Sam Neill (Ride Like a Girl, Blackbird) as Alan Grant and Jeff Goldblum (The Mountain, The Grand Budapest Hotel) as Ian Malcom; this science fiction film had excellent special effects and chase scenes. It was enjoyable to see the blending of the original cast with the rebooted one; however, past that, this movie lacked the exhilarating fun found in the first picture of this franchise. The script was a mixture of story lines, none that really did a decent job of telling a good story. Some of the humor and references made to the earlier films were amusing, but I only wished the writers could have written a better, evil character in a thrilling setting. Instead of going out with a big bang, this movie was tired and bored. The dinosaurs would have been better off to have stayed extinct.
ONE OF THE HARDEST THINGS ABOUT teaching fitness/yoga classes is filling in for an absent instructor. Though I never refused unless logistically I could not make the class, there always was apprehension on what I would encounter from the participants. Like going to doctors or hair stylists, people find an instructor they like and stick with them. Walking into a class to find out a substitute is filling in for your favorite instructor usually leads to some level of disappointment. I remember filling in for a fellow yoga instructor and as I was introducing myself, three participants rolled up their mats and walked out. Ten minutes later as we were doing our warmup poses, a member asked me why I was not turning the lights off; evidently the assigned instructor teaches in subdued light. When I told the member I needed light to observe how each person was doing the poses; she made a sour face, uttered what sounded like a “harumph” before gathering her things and stormed out of the room. I totally get how individuals have expectations before they walk into the fitness room; but I must ask what options do they think are available? Either the substitute instructor teaches class, or the class would have to be cancelled; under these circumstances, wouldn’t it be better to deal with a different instructor’s style of yoga instead of no yoga at all? WHEN IT COMES TO INSTRUCTORS OR really anyone who is in a visible position, people are funny about those they like. Where I experienced more of the negative aspects when filling in for another instructor, I have heard from those instructors who have subbed for me. They have experienced the same negative reactions to their presence in my classes. I understand disappointment; when I go to a live theater event and the leading star’s character has a stand-in, I am disappointed, but I am not going to deny myself the experience of seeing the production. Just like those stories one hears about a rabid fan doing things to catch a glimpse of their favorite celebrity, people want what they want as they say. I have read about millionaires who pay exorbitant prices to get a singer to perform at one of their parties. Or what about the individuals who do an outrageous act in the hopes of getting their celebrity crush to notice. I had a member who turned into a stalker, who would pop up at the oddest times to talk and ask me out until I had to file a complaint. As I sat down to watch this action crime comedy, I wondered which way would one of the main characters act, upon meeting their celebrity crush. DOWN ON HIS LUCK AND NEEDING the money was enough incentive for Nick Cage, played by Nicolas Cage (Pig, Between Worlds), to accept the offer to show up at a wealthy man’s estate. If nothing else, it would be a new role for him. With Pedro Pascal (Wonder Woman 1984, The Mandalorian-TV) as Javi Gutierrez, Tiffany Haddish (Like a Boss, Bad Trip) as Vivian, Sharon Horgan (Game Night, Dating Amber) as Olivia and Neil Patrick Harris (The Matrix Resurrections, Gone Girl) as Richard Fink; this movie was a lighthearted, fun experience. What made it so was the pairing of Nicolas with Pedro; they were great together as they played off each other. The idea for the story was novel, where I could appreciate the tongue in cheek flavor of the script. The writers were creative in setting things up for Nic to spoof Nicolas’ old films. Honestly, there is not anything that is a surprise here per se; however, it was just fun to see Nicholas doing such an excellent job parodying himself. As the film ended, I wondered if the movie studio would do another film with the two main leads; I think it would be a hoot.
MAYBE I AM BIASED BUT FROM the people I have met, those that told me they had a wonderful time in high school were more than likely part of a clique or group. I am not saying that as a negative or positive; it is simply my findings. When someone is part of a group, they immediately have a social structure in place where they can find support, friendship, kinship, and a variety of other attributes. But if one is not part of a group, they could have a tougher go of it through their school years. Trust me, I should know. It was not until my junior year before I found a group of students that I would hang out and do things with, in and outside of school. Before you think I was a hermit or something when I started high school, I want to state I did have friends throughout my years in school; the only difference early on is none of us were part of a group. We did not participate in sports activities, let alone any other sanctioned groups of the school. I was on the school paper one year, but after that nothing else. PART OF THE REASON I DID not want to be part of a group/clique was due to the ones I did see when I started high school. There was a sport, a cheerleader, a druggie, and an academia (brainiac) group, along with a few others. The most lethal group to me was the “popular” group. Freshman year I saw two older girls get in a fight that was vicious. They were scratching, slapping, and ripping each other apart until a teacher came and broke them up. The reason I knew they were part of a popular clique was due to hearing a couple of junior students talking in the lunchroom. It turned me off from wanting to be part of a group. Also, my high school was one of the smaller ones in the city; maybe if it had offered more options of interest, I would have had a different mindset. It is easy for me to say this now, so many years later; but back then I always had an issue being part of a social pecking order, where one is supposed to look and act a certain way. I always gravitated to those who embraced their individuality. Maybe it would be easier to explain if I suggest you watch this comedic drama. AFTER BEING IN A COMA FOR 20 years since her high school senior year, a former cheerleader who was hoping to become the prom queen, wants to return and win her crown. With Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect franchise, Isn’t it Romantic) as Stephanie, Angourie Rice (The Nice Guys, The Beguiled) as young Stephanie, Mary Holland (Happiest Season, Keeping Company) as Martha, Sam Richardson (We’re the Millers, Hooking Up) as Seth and Zoe Chao (Downhill, Love Life-TV) as Tiffany; this movie’s saving grace was having Rebel Wilson as the lead. If you like her style of comedy, she gave it her best with the little the script provided her. Besides being predictable, there was only a couple of times where I chuckled at a scene. For the most part, the script tried to do too much and wound up doing little. There were scenes that were not believable, some that were touching, others that tried to be funny; yet all together they did not blend well with each other. At times, the musical numbers seemed to have been created because the writers did not know which way to go next. Overall, there is not much here to make the viewer want to go back and experience their high school years. There was an extra scene during the ending credits.
1 ¾ stars
THE SENTIMENT WAS TOUCHING; BUT unless there was follow-through, I knew the relationship would not be sustainable. We worked at the same company for several years and formed a bond early on because we were similar in so many ways, both personally and in work ethic. She had a childhood that mimicked mine and I think that is what cemented our relationship the most; we reacted the same to the situations that came up in the office. When she told me she was leaving the company I was both sad and glad. I would miss her, but I was happy she found a job that paid her better. On her last day she came into my office to say goodbye and let me know we will still be friends, that our work time did not define our friendship. We agreed we would stay connected and get together. She left on a Friday and when I came back to the office on Monday, it did not take long for me to miss her. With our time together, we came to a point in our work relationship where we did not have to explain what we were doing; we already knew how the other would manage the situation as it revealed itself. FOR SEVERAL WEEKS AFTER SHE LEFT the company, we stayed in touch via text and phone calls. I would keep her abreast with any unusual activities that arose among the employees she knew. We agreed to meet for lunch a couple of times and had an enjoyable time sitting and talking to each other. However, as time went on our times in getting together were growing further and further apart. We texted more than called each other and even the texts started to get fewer. I knew if we did not incorporate some type of activities into our relationship besides just sitting and eating, there would be fewer and fewer things to talk about. I mean how much does it really matter to hear about an employee’s exploits at the office after being away for so long? Mostly these days our friendship is limited to sending and receiving birthday and holiday cards. It is an odd situation but not an unfamiliar one to me. You grow together while at the same company, but once one leaves the relationship does not stay the same. It is funny; I feel the same about this prequel franchise to the Harry Potter films. I have a stronger connection to the Hogwarts series than the movies I have seen so far for this current franchise. WITH AN ELECTION COMING UP PROFESSOR Albus Dumbledore, played by Jude Law (The Nest, Black Sea), is aware one wizard is trying to stack the deck in their favor. However, the professor cannot act against him directly due to a magical pact created a long time ago. With Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl, The Theory of Everything) as Newt Scamander, Ezra Miller (Madame Bovary, Justice League) as Credence Barebone, Dan Fogler (Balls of Fury, In Like Flynn) as Jacob Kowalski and Mads Mikkelsen (Another Round, Doctor Strange) as Gellert Grindlewald; this action, adventure fantasy left me with a bland feeling. I felt the drama was usurped by the action. Now there were parts of this movie that were exciting and magical, however, the script felt more one note than incorporating some highs and lows into the story. I normally enjoy Mads’ performances but, in this film, I did not think he was utilized fully for his character. A base comment for this picture would be to say it was lackluster; without the sparkle of wonderment, the magic and creativity did not pop like they did in the Harry Potter films. It almost felt as if the writers and studio were following a set game plan to produce this film. As I mentioned earlier, unless there is interest on both sides, this franchise is destined not to succeed.
THROUGHOUT MY ELEMENTARY AND HIGH SCHOOL years, I only met two individuals who had been adopted. They happened to be half-sisters, who shared the same mother; a married couple agreed to adopt them both. When I was told about their adoption, I became curious about them. They had the same color hair and eyes; one was taller than the other. That was pretty much all they had in common as far as I could see. The taller one was studious and quiet, while her younger sister did poorly in school and was considered a wild party person. They were not part of my circle of friends for the most part; however, there were times we would be eating at the same lunch table. While eating, I would keep an eye on the two of them to see if they ate the same type of food items. I do not know why I focused on this; I guess I was simply intrigued about their story of being birthed by one woman and raised by a different one. As I said earlier, I had never met anyone who had been adopted. From my observations, I chalked up their differences were due to having different fathers. I have not thought about them for some time, but I wonder with the easy availability of DNA testing if they ever were curious to learn more about their genetic history. THE REASON I MENTIONED DNA TESTING, is because I had recently heard about a woman who, out of curiosity, decided to get tested because she was curious to find out what countries her ancestors originated from. When she received the results, she learned something more that she was not expecting; her DNA did not match with her dad. This news did not settle in immediately; but after studying her results again, it sunk in that the man she knew her entire life was not her father. Sadly, she could not ask either of her parents because they were both deceased. As far as she was concerned, her mother must have had an affair with another man; either her father knew and her parents decided to never say anything about it, or her mother kept it a secret her entire life. The woman was devastated by these results. I know it bothered her because she became angry that she could not confront her mother to find out the truth. Since this person is only an acquaintance, who I have had no contact with for some time, I now wonder if she delved deeper into her DNA results to see if she might have had any half siblings she could reach out to for any answers. It would be a shock if she experienced anything close to what happened in this startling documentary. AWARE SHE WAS ADOPTED, JACOBA BALLARD was curious to know if she might have any unknown relatives. A DNA test could help, and it did, but not the way she was expecting. Directed by first time director Lucie Jourdan, this film played out like a suspenseful crime story. The story is so incredible that I was in synch with what was unfolding for Jacoba. The use and mix of actual recordings with reenactments went seamlessly and made for a more powerful statement in my opinion. As the story progressed, I found myself going deeper into shock from what was happening. I will also add that I became angry while watching the outcome of an issue that was being worked on. To think before we had the ability to test our DNA, there could be many people living under a delusion/fantasy. Be prepared when watching this documentary; it might have a bigger effect on you than you expect.