Archive for June, 2014

Get to Know a Home School: Jenni of Portraits by Jenni

I was so happy to be contacted by nerdinthebrain.com to be a part of an ongoing series about homeschooling. Here’s my answers to her questions. ūüôā

Advertisements

My Classic Movie Pick: Kisses for my President

With the possibility that former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may run for President in 2016, there is a classic movie that will run on June 30th on Turner Classics that already tackled that topic, a woman President for the United States.

In 1964, Kisses for my President, opened at theatres around the country. ¬†Made by Warner Brothers and starring Polly Bergen as the President and ¬†Fred MacMurray as the First Gentleman. ¬†It’ s a fun exercise about the what ifs of a woman sitting in the Oval Office and the perplexities her husband runs into as the first, First Gentleman of the land.

kisses for my president poster

Leslie McCloud(Bergen) has just been sworn in as President and her husband, Thad(MacMurray), and their two children, Gloria(Anna Capri) and Peter(Ronnie Dapo) are being ushered ¬†into the First family’s ¬†Living Room. ¬†There is a humorous moment when the first couple discover that the President has a very masculine decorated bedroom and the First Gentleman has a very feminine bedroom. ¬† ¬†That scene can be viewed here.

As the plot continues, Leslie is extremely busy dealing with issues and doesn’t have as much time for her husband or her children. ¬†There is also a Senator Walsh(Edward Andrews) who covets the White House for himself and ¬†he doesn’t like the fact that there is a woman President. ¬†He’s out to foil Leslie’s Presidency. ¬†There is also a South American dictator( Eli Wallach), Valdez, who arrives in Washington to ask for money. ¬†Leslie asks Thad to show the dictator around town which turns into a misunderstood news story about a bored First Gentleman whooping it up with Valdez. ¬†Senator Walsh is only too happy to use this event as a way to get at Leslie and chip away at her power. ¬†The two children who feel ignored by their parents ¬†begin to get into trouble and then there is Doris Reid(Arlene Dahl). ¬†Doris is a wealthy businesswoman who lives in Washington and just so happens to be Thad’s first love! ¬†She slinks her way into the White House, putting 2 and 2 together: wife is too busy, Thad is lonely and doesn’t know what his role is, so Doris makes a plan to get Thad alone and to try and reignite their past romance, which she reminds Thad ¬†that Leslie stole him from her.

Here are two more clips from the film: MacMurray, in his pjs,  accidentally gets lost looking for the dining room and he encounters tour groups.  Clip One.      The second clip is Arlene Dahl starting to zero in on MacMurray.  Clip Two.

Kisses for my President is pure comedy. ¬†It’s not a serious drama and perhaps audiences in 1964 wouldn’t want to see the topic of a woman president presented in any other way? ¬†The film was conceived by Robert G. Kane and he also wrote the screenplay with Claude Binyon. ¬†Curtis Bernhardt produced and directed the film. ¬† ¬†As I mentioned in the first paragraph, the film will air June 30th at 9:00 am EST/8:00 am CST, so be sure to set your dvr to record it. ¬†It is available to buy from TCM’s Shop, and ¬†it is available through Amazon and their instant rent. ¬†Youtube has two clips from the film that can be viewed here and here.

kfmp poster 2

My Classic Movie Pick: In Like Flint, for the 1967 Movies Blogathon

When I learned ¬†that classic film bloggers¬†Silver Screenings¬†and The Rosebud Cinema¬† declared June 20-22 as 1967 in Film Blogathon, I jumped at the chance to write about a film from that year. ¬† ¬†Be sure to visit these wonderful blog sites to read about more films that premiered in 1967. ¬†¬†1967 in Film Blogathon I have always enjoyed a spy caper movie. ¬†When the first James Bond flick ¬†Dr. No¬†hit the movie screens in 1962, it was a huge,smashing success. ¬†It only cost $1,000,000 to make the film but it raked in much more in profits. ¬†Hollywood took notice and more spy movies went into production to capitalize on this new movie genre. 1966, two screenwriters, Hal Fimberg and Ben Starr, wrote a film plot centering on a new American ¬†super spy named Derek Flint. ¬† 20th Century Fox loved the idea and asked Daniel Mann to direct. ¬†Lee J. Cobb was signed to play the super spy’s boss, Lloyd Cramden and James Coburn was hired to play the super spy, Flint. ¬† This first film, Our Man Flint, did great at the box office and that led to 20th Century Fox making a sequel, 1967’s In Like Flint, with the change of Gordon Douglas for director, and only Fimberg wrote this second film’s screenplay.

1565in_like_flint In the first film, Flint takes some fun jabs at 007 and ¬†his gadgets, ¬†shows he is cooler than cool, a master of disguise, a karate master, and a charmer of the ladies. ¬†He has a trio of scientists to deal with as the main baddies. ¬†In 1967’s sequel, the times were changing and this was reflected in the plot, pitting our super spy against a group of feminists who want to take over the running of the world!

These ladies are using their make up corporation Fabulous Face as a front for their plans, and using their spa resort in the Virgin Islands as their secret base. ¬† The ladies have successfully kidnapped the US President(Andrew Duggan), replaced him with an actor who has had ¬†plastic surgery to make him look like the President, made Flint’s boss Cramden look like a scandal swamped idiot who has to be put on administrative leave, and have sent two Russian lady cosmosnauts into space in order to gain control of a new space platform. ¬† Their last goal, to replace male world leaders with strong females, is in the works when Flint has to infiltrate their HQ’s and stop them. ¬† ¬†It was fun to see Anna Lee, British actress and one who usually played such polite, gentle characters get to play the leader of these feminist baddies!

Lee J. Cobb is good as the spy boss, head of Z.O.W.I.E., which stands for Zonal World Organization Intelligence Espionage. ¬†He admires Flint’s skills but also is frustrated with him because Flint often goes it alone on missions, refusing the gadgets offered to him. ¬†Flint doesn’t use a gun, he relies on his karate skills, and at times, he reminded me of a proto-type for MacGyver, without all the girls! Flint has a cool jet, a fab apartment with the latest 1967 home furnishings, and 3 ladies who take care of him at home. ¬†In the first film, he had 4 ladies caring for him and as Flint meets with Cramden(Cobb) in the second film, Cramden asks about those 4 ladies and is told that they all got married!

Flint’s new ladies, a blonde, a brunette, and a redhead all get tricked into going to the spa run by Fabulous Face in the Virgin Islands. ¬†The spokeslady for Fabulous Face, Lisa(Jean Hale) has a plan to brainwash Flint’s 3 ladies into believing that women should run the world, that men are worthless. ¬†However, Flint’s 3 gal pals are immune to the brainwashing so into cryogenic shower stalls ¬†they go for future efforts.

Flint's gal pals under the brainwashing hairdryers.

Flint’s gal pals under the brainwashing hairdryers.

Meanwhile, Flint is in Moscow trying to find out about the cosmonauts and the new space platform. ¬†He gets to be in a Moscow Ballet number with their star ballerina, Natasha(Yvonne Craig-tv’s future Batgirl) and then back at her place, in between kisses, tries to discover what the Russians are up to. ¬†He realizes he has to get to the Virgin Islands, to that spa where his 3 ladies are being kept prisoner. ¬†Fabulous Face holds the key. ¬†The closest a Russian plane can fly to the Virgin Islands, in 1967, was Cuba, so in a jab at communists, he dons a Fidel Castro outfit, with beard and dark sunglasses and boards a plane to Cuba. ¬†I caught the jab as all the passengers on the plane looked like Castro, ¬†the stewardess was a plain, sturdy woman, and they had to share their seating area with crates of chickens!

Flint's time with Natasha is interrupted by the KGB.

Flint’s time with Natasha is interrupted by the KGB.

Cramden, in Washington D.C., with the help of ¬†young ¬†Lieutenant Avery(Thomas Hasson), has discovered that the Z.O.W.I.E. office has been bugged, that the President is a fake, that Cramden’s own forced scandal was part of a larger plot, and it all points to Fabulous Face. ¬†Cramden declares that Flint’s not the only master of disguise and comes up with one to help him get into the spa. ¬†It was interesting to see Cobb play in a film that was a campy take on spy films. ¬†Usually Cobb acted in serious, dramatic works. ¬†He did fine and I like to think that he enjoyed himself, even when he had to don make up, wig, and heels!

Flint learning about the Feminists plans of taking over the world.

Flint learning about the Feminists plans of taking over the world.

Flint, Cramden, and Avery get to Fabulous Face and so does the double-crosser, General Carter(Steve Ihnat).  Carter was working for the US Government as a liason for them and Z.O.W.I.E.  He was actually working with Fabulous Face on their plans, but decided to double-cross the ladies and take over the world for himself.  This turn of events causes Flint and his side to work with the lovely ladies on an Operation Smooch, to bring down General Carter and his minions.

Coming up with a plan to stop General Carter

Coming up with a plan to stop General Carter

Operation Smooch!

Operation Smooch!

In Like Flint is a fun, silly romp into the world of super spies, super villains, and 1967.  The opening shots of the film are close ups of ladies getting massaged and bathed at that spa, filmed in  the color red with  gauzy swaths of fabrics obscuring things a bit, an obvious nod of how James Bond movies open.   James Coburn is great as Flint.  He exudes cool and while he may not have had drop dead handsome looks, his voice is one to reckon with!  I could just sit and listen to him read a phone book!

Here is the link from TCM of a trailer for the movie, and it is available to buy through the TCM Shop.   In Like Flint is available to buy via Amazon or to watch on their instant rent.  Also, a kind soul has put the entire film up on Youtube.   So kick back on your groovy couch and plan to watch this coolest of cool spies in action!

Tearjerkers, 1939 vs 2014

** This post contains spoilers**

My college student daughter, who is home for part of the summer, suggested on Friday morning that she, her twin sisters, 14 year olds, ¬†and I, ¬†go and see the ¬†new tearjerker ¬†movie, The Fault in Our Stars. ¬†I inwardly groaned at this suggestion. ¬†I really didn’t want to spend my evening watching a movie in a theatre full of teen girls sniffling and crying. ¬†I also didn’t want to get caught up in the plot and find myself sniffling and crying! ¬†However, college daughter’s idea prevailed, so after supper, with tissues in our purses, we traveled to Waynesville Cinema 8. ¬†(I don’t understand why Rolla’s Forum Theatre can’t seem to get the newest movies thus, losing our movie going dollars to Waynesville. ¬†That may have to be a blog topic for another day!)

The Fault in our Stars

I settled in my seat as ¬†the movie began. ¬† The plot was pretty simple. ¬†Hazel Grace Lancaster is 18 ¬†years old and has been battling cancer since she was a child. ¬†First she had thyroid cancer but then it metastasized into her lungs. ¬†There is no cure but she has been on an experimental drug and so far, no new tumors and the tumors she has aren’t growing. ¬†She lives with a portable oxygen tank and a breathing tube under her nose. ¬† Her parents worry that she is depressed so they urge her to attend a support group for teens living with cancer that meets at a local church. ¬†Reluctantly, Hazel Grace attends where she meets her future love, Augustus Waters. ¬†He, having beaten osteosarcoma ¬†in his leg and wears ¬†a prosthetic leg, ¬†attends the support group to be there for his ¬†friend, Isaac, who is living with retinoblastoma which will leave him blind.

As I sat there and watched these teen characters dealing with cancer, life, and death, I kept comparing it to another tearjerker movie made in 1939 that also dealt with love, cancer, life, and death. ¬†That film was ¬†Dark Victory, which starred Bette Davis in a tour de force performance. ¬†Davis was nominated for Best Actress at that year’s Academy Awards and Dark Victory was also nominated for Best Picture, but being that the year was 1939, they didn’t stand a chance due to a film about a tough southern belle fighting for her land and trying to figure out who she really loves as the Yankees invade the South during the Civil War.

Dark Victory

In Dark Victory, Bette is Judith Traherne, ¬†a rich party girl. ¬†She loves to watch her ¬†horses compete at the races, she loves to spend her money on parties, and she has a lot of friends in this monied set. ¬†She has also left a trail of broken hearts around her. ¬†(Ronald Reagan plays one of her pals, ¬†a lovable drunk!) ¬†Judith begins to have chronic headaches so she ¬†sees her doctor who recommends that she see a Dr. Steele, who is young and brilliant about brain problems. ¬†It doesn’t hurt that he is quite handsome, too. ¬†Dr. Steele determines that Judith has a tumor and needs brain surgery to treat it. ¬†During the surgery, he discovers that the tumor is malignant and nothing can be done for Judith, that she has 10 months left to live. ¬†The doctors decide not to tell Judith, but Dr. Steele does admit the truth to Judith’s friend, Ann. ¬† Judith ¬†accidentally gets a look at her medical file and finds out the truth. ¬†She is angry that Dr. Steele hadn’t told her but did tell Ann. ¬†Judith decides to follow the bad advice of eat, drink, and be merry for who knows what tomorrow will bring. ¬† One evening she runs into Dr. Steele, who gets her alone and scolds her for this type of living. ¬†He advises her to find peace with the diagnosis so that she can face death with dignity. ¬†She realizes he is right. ¬†Judith and Dr. Steele also realize that they love each other and wed, deciding to live each day as it comes, ¬†knowing that death will take Judith sooner than later. ¬†When Dr. Steele is invited to speak at a medical convention about ¬†new ways to treat brain diseases, Judith urges him to go. ¬†She knows how hard he’s worked and been looking forward to speaking. ¬†She ¬†doesn’t reveal to him that her eyesight is failing her. ¬†As he drives away in the taxi to the airport, Judith bravely takes to her bed to prepare to ¬†die with dignity.

I compared and contrasted the two films in my mind.  Dark Victory has Judith for the main character: a strong, independent young woman. The Fault in our Stars has Hazel Grace for the main character, not yet in her twenties, with strong opinions, she is still  dependent on her parents for clothing, food, shelter, and paying the onerous medical bills.  In both of these plots, the main characters fall in love.  Only in Dark Victory  is a true commitment made with a marriage.   That one little point keeps me from liking the 2014 movie.

How refreshing it would have been for the author, John Green, to have Hazel Grace and Augustus ¬†marry one another! To wait to consummate their love for one another! ¬†They could have had a simple ceremony in front of a judge, and then ¬†lived in the basement at the Water’s home, since Augustus had turned it into a “cool” apartment-like abode. ¬†Teenage pregnancy rates don’t need anymore encouragement than they already get from the entertainment industry. ¬†Sadly, a better plot point was thrown out the window to go with a perceived societal ¬†idea that teens can’t wait to jump into bed with one another.

On the way home, my daughters and I were surprised that we didn’t sniffle and cry like we thought we would. ¬†I said that I found the plight of the parents in the film more touching. ¬†Watching these parents bravely be there for their dying kids, especially a flashback scene to when Hazel Grace almost died at the age of 11, ¬†got to me. ¬†The scene where Hazel Grace and Augustus shared a passionate series of kisses at the Anne Frank House struck my twin daughters as “awkward” and weird how the surprised bystanders visiting the Frank House started clapping.

Dark Victory was originally a play written by George Emerson Brewer, Jr. and Bertram Bloch. ¬† As I mentioned earlier in my post, The Fault in our Stars was a book written by John Green. ¬†Dark Victory was labeled as a Woman’s Picture when it came to the box office in 1939 and I’m pretty sure The Fault in our Stars was labeled as a vehicle to pull in the teenage girl audience.

Dark Victory will be airing tonight on Turner Classic Movies at 1:30 am CST, so if you are able, set up your dvr machine to record it. ¬†That’s what I plan on doing and I’ll let my daughters watch it with me, popcorn to eat ¬†in a giant bowl, and let them see a similar plot and how Hollywood and the social mores of 1939 handled it.

 

My Classic Movie Pick: The Woman in the Window

Poor Edward G. Robinson. ¬†He reached stardom playing evil gangsters, mob bosses, when in reality, he was a good stage actor who could play drama, comedy, and tried at various times in his Hollywood career to break out from the “gangster” label. ¬†Fritz Lang, an Austrian-German director who had arrived in Hollywood in the 1930s to get away from the Nazi’s, who had banned one of his films in 1932, gave Robinson a chance to play a role that wasn’t a gangster part. ¬†The film was 1944’s The Woman in the Window. The Woman in the Window Robinson plays middle-aged ¬†Professor Richard Wanley, a professor of Psychology. ¬†His wife and kids have recently gone on a vacation and he is alone at home. ¬†He decides to hang out at his club one evening, spending time with some good friends at their Men’s Club: District Attorney Frank Lalor(Raymond Massey) and Dr. Barkstane(Edmond Breon). ¬†As Professor Wanley walks to the club, he notices a painting of a beautiful, young woman in the window of a nearby shop. ¬†He stops to admire the painting and when he meets his friends, they spend some time discussing the beautiful woman in the painting. ¬† On his way home, Wanley again, stops to admire the painting and the subject of it appears hauntingly, her reflection in the window, catching Wanley off guard.

Prof. Wanley noticing the painting.

Prof. Wanley noticing the painting.

Prof. Wanley having fun with his pals at their  Club.

Prof. Wanley having fun with his pals at their Club.

The beautiful Alice Reed's reflection in the window.

The beautiful Alice Reed’s reflection in the window.

The beautiful, young woman is Alice Reed(Joan Bennett) and she knows that this middle-aged man is entranced by her beauty. ¬†She decides to demurly take adavantage of Professor Wanly. ¬†She invites him to have a drink with her at a local bar. ¬†Then she invites him to her apartment for more drinks. ¬†As Wanley admires more works of art in Alice’s apartment, an angry man bursts in accusing Alice of cheating on him and he tries to attack her. ¬†Alice grabs a pair of scissors and tosses them to Wanley, who the angry man has turned his attack on and Wanley stabs the man in the back, killing him! ¬†So much for a quiet evening of drinks, art, and talking!

Looking at paintings with Alice at her place.

Looking at paintings with Alice at her place.

Prof. Wanley being attacked by a very angry friend of Alice's!

Prof. Wanley being attacked by a very angry friend of Alice’s!

In shock after murdering a man.

In shock after murdering a man.

The mild-mannered professor is in a state of shock. ¬†What should he do? ¬†Here, he thought he’d just enjoy a nice evening with the beautiful woman in the painting and now a murder has happened, a murder he committed in self-defense, but a murder none-the less. ¬†Robinson does a wonderful job portraying a middle-aged man, who despite having a wife and two children, a satisfying job, and good friends, is just a tad bit lonely. ¬†He feels a tad bit vulnerable due to the fact that he is aging.

Joan Bennett is good as the femme fatale of this piece. ¬†She is beautiful, she knows it, and she’s more than ready to make Professor Wanley her fall guy. ¬†What her hard-boiled, hidden persona doesn’t expect is to develop true feelings for the professor. ¬†I wouldn’t call it love, but she does care about him and starts to feel guilty for how she is manipulating him when the mastermind behind the money-making plot via blackmail, Heidt(Dan Duryea) enters the scene, demanding that they get more ¬†money from the professor.

Heidt and Alice discussing getting $5000 from the Professor.

Heidt and Alice discussing getting $5000 from the Professor.

Duryea is so excellent as the real baddie of this film.  In real life, Dan Duryea was a very nice guy.   A married man with kids, acting was his talent and he supported his family with his skills.  For some reason, he made his mark as playing bad guys but instead of not taking those roles, he took them and ran with them.

Behind the scenes shot of Duryea and Robinson.

Behind the scenes shot of Duryea and Robinson.

The Woman in the Window airs from time to time on Turner Classic Movies and I’ve put the movie’s trailer here for viewing. ¬†The film is available to buy through Amazon. ¬†It was also available at one time on Netflix and may still be available. ¬†Lastly, some kind soul has put the entire movie up on Youtube! For a great film noir with a twist of an ending, seek out The Woman in the Window.

TWITW ending hint

My Classic Movie Pick: The Enchanted Cottage

The Enchanted Cottage is not a fairytale film for children. ¬†There are no princesses needing rescued by a prince, no evil fairies or witches out to spoil all the fun. ¬†No cute, talking animals. ¬†This 1945 film, made by RKO Studios, is a fairytale for adults, set in the real-time of 1945. ¬† Featuring the skills of Robert Young, Dorothy McGuire, and Herbert Marshall, who serves as the film’s narrator.

The Enchanted Cottage poster 1

 

WWII  has ended and John Hillgrove(Herbert Marshall), who was blinded while fighting in the war, is playing the piano for a party that he is hosting for newlyweds Oliver and Laura Bradford.    As the film opens with this scene, Hillgrove tells his guests the love story of Oliver and Laura, via a long flashback.

Years ago there had been an estate built by an English nobleman, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in  New England.   A fire had occurred, burning most of the great house except for one wing.   The nobleman has that wing rebuilt to be a new, cottage-styled home.  The nobleman decides to begin renting out that wing as a haven for honeymooners.  Years go by and now a widow, Mrs. Abigail Minnett(Mildred Natwick-excellent as always) runs the cottage for honeymooning couples.  It is to this cottage that Laura Pennington(Dorothy McGuire) applies to work as a housekeeper.  Laura is a very plain, shy young woman.  With the recent death of her mother, and having no other relations to fall upon for help, she decides to go out and seek her forturne.   Mrs. Minnett likes Laura and does hire her.    Mrs. Minnett  tells her that there is a legend attached to the cottage, that when honeymooners etch their names onto the glass of one window, their union will be especially blessed.

Laura being interviewed by Mrs. Minnett.

Laura being interviewed by Mrs. Minnett.

Oliver Bradford(Robert Young) soon arrives with his ¬†fiancee, Beatrice(Hillary Brooke). ¬†Oliver is from a wealthy family, and a pilot in the Army Air Corps. ¬†He has rented the cottage and as soon as he and Hillary see the Justice of the Peace, the honeymoon will begin. ¬†Hillary isn’t impressed with the cottage, thinking it too simple. ¬†Laura overhears her and steps in to tell the couple about the cottage’s legend. ¬†Oliver takes Hillary’s engagement ring to etch their names on the window’s pane and the diamond falls out of the setting! ¬†Then, Oliver is contacted by his air group-he must fly out immediately, so no wedding yet. ¬† Soon, Mrs. Minnett receives a telegram from Beatrice cancelling the couple’s ¬†lease.

Oliver and Hillary arrive at the Enchanted Cottage

Oliver and Hillary arrive at the Enchanted Cottage

A year goes by and Mrs. Minnett receives a telegram from Oliver Bradford, asking to rent the cottage for himself for an indefinite period of time.  When Oliver arrives, Laura and Mrs. Minnett see that his face is disfigured and his arm is disabled, from a horrific plane crash he survived in the war. Oliver is bitter, his egagement to Hillary was broken.  He is mad at the world and has decided to live as a recluse.  Laura is heart-broken that he has become this way and with her common sense, gentleness, and compassion, Oliver begins to return to his old self.

Laura and Oliver, having one of many discussions about life

Laura and Oliver, having one of many discussions about life

Oliver befriends the narrator at this point in the film, Hillgrove, who happens by the cottage one day.  He encourages Oliver to learn to live again despite the disabilities.  He also tells Oliver that the war left him blinded but he has adapted and life has gone on.(An interesting side-note, Herbert Marshall who plays Hillgrove, was a soldier for the British during WWI and lost a leg, and yet resumed his acting career after the war.)

Giving Oliver advice on living with a disability

Giving Oliver advice on living with a disability

Conflict arrives in Oliver’s life in the form of his mother, Violet(Spring Byington). ¬†Byington had a long career, often playing fun and understanding mothers so it was a surprise to see her play such a rotten mother in this film! ¬†Violet and Hillary arrive to talk to Oliver but he refuses to see them. ¬†3 weeks later, Violet sends her son an ultimatum: if he doesn’t return to the family home she will be moving to the cottage to live there with him! ¬†Oliver doesn’t want that at all, so he quickly proposes marriage to Laura. ¬†Laura, who really loves Oliver but hasn’t told him, agrees to marry him. When the couple returns to the cottage for their honeymoon the enchantment happens. ¬†Laura sees Oliver without the disfiguring burn on his face and no disabled arm. ¬†Oliver sees Laura as a beauty. ¬†They etch their names onto the window’s pane. ¬†Mrs. Minnett reassures them that their true love for each other lets them see each other as perfect, despite the meddling of Violet and her cruel words when she discovers they have married one another.

How love lets them really see each other

How love lets them really see each other

Then Enchanted Cottage was a 1922 stage play, written by Arthur Wing Pinero, a play about a returning WWI Vet with a disability. ¬†It had been previously filmed as a silent film in 1924 that starred Richard Barthelmess and May McAvoy. ¬† Harriet Parsons, a ¬†producer at RKO, aquired the rights to the play to remake a newer film, set in WWII and in New England. ¬†Parsons hired DeWitt Bodeen to write the screenplay and she chose John Cromwell to direct. For a lovely, romantic movie with a 91 minute running time, seek out The Enchanted Cottage. ¬†It airs from time to time on Turner Classic Movies. ¬†It is available to buy from Amazon, ¬†and a kind soul put the trailer clip on Youtube. ¬†The OV Guide has it listed as a a film to watch online for free. ¬†Can’t beat that! .

Two Wonderful Reads for the Family this Summer

My oldest first cousin on my mom’s side of the family, John Seither, ¬†has a very talented wife. ¬†Marci Seither, besides being a great wife and mom to 6 kids-3 who are grown and 3 still at home-has found for herself quite a niche as a writer. ¬†She began writing feature articles, op/ed pieces, and human-interest articles and as her writing career expanded, she entered the realm of book writing. ¬†In 2013 and this ¬†year, she has written and published 2 books!

The first book, The Adventures of Pearley Monroe, was the book that was inspired on a homeschooling field trip with her kids. ¬†Marci is a native Californian and stories about the early pioneer families who came to live in California have always fascinated her. ¬†Several years ago while on a field trip with some of her children to Sutter’s Mill,¬†¬†they saw many buildings and one in particular caught Marci’s eye: a simple, white, clapboard building. ¬†She asked about it and was told that it belonged to the Monroe family. ¬†Peter and Nancy Monroe had been brought to California in 1849, slaves from Missouri. ¬†They had been forced to leave their son, Andrew, behind in Missouri. ¬†In 1850, California entered the Union as a free state and that released the Monroes from slavery. ¬†Nancy then spent 21 years trying to reunite with their son, Andrew, and it finally did happen. ¬†Marci was moved by the Monroe family’s story and told one of the docents at Sutter’s Mill that this family’s story needed to be told. ¬†The docent agreed and told Marci that since no living descendents existed for the Monroe family that getting their story down would be a wonderful thing to happen. ¬†Marci informed the docent that she only wrote feature articles for magazines and newspapers but he told her that if she was serious about writing down the Monroe’s story in a book, he could give her all of the information he had collected and saved for many years and get her access to the archive library for research purposes. ¬†With the docent’s plea and challenge, this book was born.

Pearly Monroe is a 12 year old boy growing up in Coloma, California in the 1880s, growing up in Gold Rush country.  There are many adventures along his path and they add to his learning that in life, hard choices need to be made and wisdom needs to be sought after.

Recently, Marci got the neat opportunity to visit teacher Michael La Marr’s 4th grade class at Del Paso Manor Elementary School in Sacramento. ¬†The class had read Marci’s book and loved it, so their teacher made a plan for Marci to do a surprise author visit with his students and it was captured on local television station KCRA-3.

This is a fun read, aimed at children ages 9-12 but it would also make a great family read aloud book, and it would also be a great supplement to a homeschool unit study on California or the Gold Rush, or both!

Marci’s second book, my husband and I had a bit part to play in it. ¬†Empty Nest: Strategies To Help Your Kids Take Flight. ¬†With lots of humor, godly wisdom, and common sense advice, Marci writes about her experiences in releasing 3 of her children to the world, ready to live their own lives as adults. ¬† There are 13 chapters in the book, dealing with children leaving for college, for the military(that’s the chapter my husband and I gave part of our voices to), helping the siblings stay connected to the one who has left, parenting solo and saying good-bye, what if the child comes back, coping as a couple with no more children to raise, and many more important topics to read about. ¬†There is also a reflection section at the end of each chapter, in order to think and ponder on the chapter and good ideas are also listed at each chapter’s end, to help one cope with this new stage in the family dynamic.

For Summer 2014, when life slows down a bit, take some time to look for these books and grab your nearest hammock, shady spot, glass of lemonade in hand, and read!