The Modern Widower

The neighborhood is alive with gardeners mowing lawns,
                                       and trimming hedges,
                 the mechanized hiss of twirling sprinklers
          and for those just joining us,
           it’s a beautiful day and Hailey is dead and I have nothing to do,
nowhere to be. ~ How to Talk to a Widower

From 1960s TV sitcoms such as the Andy Griffith Show and The Courtship of Eddie’s Father we have seen the widower portrayed, but what about the modern widower’s story? How does one truly handle the loss when the setting isn’t picture perfect Mayberry?

After the death of his wife, Joe Warr, played by Clive Owen, has to step back from his career as a traveling sportwriter and come to terms with not only the tragic loss of his wife, but the raising of their six-year-old son without a mother. When his teenage son from a previous marriage joins the mix, it is an experiment of raising sons without female influence. With his “just say yes” philosophy — which includes water balloon fights indoors, riding on the hood of the car and jumping into bathtubs — the standards of parenting are stretched and altered. In the movie The Boys Are Back, which is based on the memoir The Boys are Back in Town by Joe Carr, life may be Continue reading “The Modern Widower”

Peter Dinklage: Larger than Life

It’s funny how people see me and treat me,

since I’m really just a simple,

boring person.

There is just something about Peter Dinklage that I find so fascinating and it’s not the fact that he is a little person. The depth of his characters far exceed his four feet five inches.

After his father’s death, Daniel, played by Matthew MacFadyen, has the unfortunate task of planning the funeral, from handling the costs rather then being able to invest in a flat for him and his wife Jane, to ensuring the relatives all arrive since the dreadful Uncle Alfie is wheelchair bound, and giving the eulogy rather than his famous author brother. Then as if that weren’t enough things begin to spiral downward even more with a mysterious guest lurking about, played by Peter Dinklage, a bottle of Valium that’s not actually Valium, and male nudity. All this wrapped up with an incredible cast makes Death at A Funeral anything, but boring. Continue reading “Peter Dinklage: Larger than Life”

Ali Zaoua: Prince of the Streets movie

Come to the Central Library this Sunday, March 21, from 2-4pm in the Microsoft Auditorium on Level 1 for a film screening of Ali Zaoua: Prince of the Streets. This film is a memorable and moving portrait of the lives of street kids living in Casablanca’s abandoned lots. Ali, Kouka, Omar and Boubker, four young friends who are members of a gang, rebel against their cruel leader’s oppressive rule and strike out on their own, running away from “home” a second time. Although they are surrounded by crime, violence and degradation, the boys long for love and tenderness. This ninety minute film from 2000 is directed by Nabil Ayouch. A moderated discussion follows the screening.

This event is part of Seattle Reads Secret Son, a program of the Washington Center for the Book at The Seattle Public Library. Seattle Reads is designed to foster reading and discussion of works by authors of diverse cultures and ethnicities. Author Laila Lalami visits Seattle May 6-10, 2010. Set in modern Morocco, Lalami’s powerful novel explores the struggle for identity, the need for family, and the desperation that overtakes ordinary lives in a country divided by class, politics, and religion.

If you have seen this movie already or see it this weekend at the Central Library, please share a comment about it.

Not Just a Pretty Face

It’s not the power of the curse – it’s the power you give the curse.

Born with a pig snout for a nose due to her rich family’s curse Penelope, played by Christina Ricci,  must find one man to marry her from the world of high society blue blood to make that curse go away forever. Forced to hide away from the outside world by her mother while a matchmaker searches for a suitable blue blooded man Penelope’s initial interaction is an interview with each guy through a one sided mirror, but Penelope soon pushes the boundaries forced upon her and starts to reveal herself even after it frightens most suitors away. When down and out blue blood Max Campion, played by James McAvoy, gets paid to woo Penelope out of isolation they both bring out the best in one another. When she finally reveals herself to him will he be the one to break the curse forever? Produced by and starring Reese Witherspoon, Penelope, helps us discover that we have the greatest power of all.

After being horribly burned beyond recognition in a car accident the narrator goes through the endless pain and depression of his wounds. Dark and tragic the only light is a schizophrenic sculptor from the psych ward named Marianne Engel, who tells him that they have known each other for hundreds of years. In order to prove this to him she begins to tell him the story of their love along with other love stories to weave a tapestry of comfort and calm. Soon he finds himself in Marianne Engel’s care and the narrator begins to grow with Marianne Engle by his side, but at the same time his addiction to morphine becomes even greater and her manic state begins to overwhelm her time carving out the final gargoyles she must finish before their time together runs out. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson tells the story of a love that transcends time and physical appearance.

Lars and the Real Girl is charming tale of love with no bounds. After his father’s death Lars, played by Ryan Gosling, moves into the garage turned apartment on his father’s property with the house occupied by his brother Gus, played by Paul Schneider, and pregnant sister-in-law Karin, played by Emily Mortimer. Isolation is what Lars prefers and he only ventures out to go to work and attend Sunday service. Karin starts to worry about Lars’ isolation and tries in vain to get Lars to interact. When a large box arrives for Lars revealing a life sized doll Karin’s worries are no longer exaggerated. Lars is convinced that this doll is a real person named Bianca, a Brazilian missionary that is wheelchair bound! Karin and Gus seek the help of the town doctor and psychologist Dagmar, played by Patricia Clarkson. She urges Karin and Gus that the best way to help Lars is to treat Bianca as if she were a real person and soon the whole town beings to do the same. With parties and meetings with Bianca Lars is caught up in a whirlwind of activity that forces him to not only interact, but to decide how he wants his life to be.

Shamrocks, Shillelaghs, and Shenanigans: Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Children!

It’s the time of year when we all wish to have a wee bit o’ the Irish heritage in our family tree.  Whether you hail from the Emerald Isles or just wish you did, get ready to dress in green, dance a jig and follow a rainbow to its end. Construct a leprechaun trap, share an Irish tale with your wee ones and delight in the fun of St. Patrick’s Day!

Books:

Brave Margaret: An Irish Adventure, by Robert D. San Souci; illustrated by Sally Wern Comport

Margaret longs for adventure and finds it when she sets out to sea, facing sea serpents, raging storms and wicked giants. Throughout her ordeals, Margaret shows astonishing courage and strength, surprising both her enemies and those she loves.

Flying Feet: A Story of Irish Dance, by Anna Marlis Burgard

Two Irish dancers face off in the contest of their lives, each hoping to become dance master for the village of Ballyconneely. Inspired by a true story, this is the perfect tale for young fans of Riverdance or Celtic Thunder.

The Irish Cinderlad, by Shirley Climo; illustrated by Loretta Krupinski

This lively Irish Cinderella story is told with the roles reversed. Young Cinderlad overcomes a giant, slays a dragon and finds true love with the help of an enormous pair of boots.

The New Policeman, by Kate Thompson

J.J. Liddy is a member of a family of gifted Irish music performers, but J.J. is finding it hard to combine the family traditions with more popular teen pursuits. His mother often complains that there is not as much time as there used to be to take care of daily responsibilities and have time for the artistic enjoyments in life.  J.J. decides to find out where all of the time is going. It isn’t long before he lands in the kingdom of Tír na n’Óg, where the fairies are facing time issues of their own. Older elementary readers will find Continue reading “Shamrocks, Shillelaghs, and Shenanigans: Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Children!”