Archive for January, 2015

My Classic Movie Pick: Far From the Madding Crowd

I have read several of British author Thomas Hardy’s (1840-1928) novels.  I wasn’t forced to read them for a class, I read them of my own free will.  Several of Hardy’s  novels have been turned into movies, notably Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and Jude the Obscure.  While those novels are well written and interesting tales, they have downer endings.  I wanted to focus my classic movie pick on a Hardy novel turned movie, that doesn’t have that sad ending, so I chose 1967’s Far From the Madding Crowd.  The film was directed by John Schlesinger who has been credited with helping actress Julie Christie’s career to get off the ground when he cast her in the film, Billy Liar, and then he  directed Christie in her Academy Award winning Best Actress role, in the film, Darling.

Far From the Madding Crowd poster 1

If Far From the Madding Crowd were transported to that silly U.S. Game show, The Dating Game, then the beautiful bachelorette would be Bathsheba Everdene(Julie Christie).  Bathsheba is now wealthy, as she’s inherited her late Uncle’s profitable farm. She’s a very  Modern Miss for the 1870s Victorian England and she has announced that she’ll manage the farm herself!  This news shocks many in the  rural community of Weatherbury, where the tale is set, and earns her some negative views.

 

Bathsheba Everdene (Julie Christie)

Bathsheba Everdene (Julie Christie)

On to the Bachelors!  Bachelor #1 is Frank Troy(Terrence Stamp), a dashing Calvary Officer in Her Majesty’s army.  Troy is a rogue; he loves the ladies and the gambling tables.  Bachelor #2 is Mr. William Boldwood(Peter Finch), a neighboring, wealthy farmer who has never married.  He is at least 20 years older than Bathsheba.  A quiet. polite gentleman, but a possible new passion could turn him a bit crazed! Bachelor #3, Gabriel Oak(Alan Bates) is a shepherd by trade.  Strong and ruggedly handsome, he has a  lot of common sense and knows how to run a farm.  All three of these men are interested in the single, beautiful Bathsheba.  Which one should she choose for a husband??

Calvary Officer Frank Troy(Terrence Stamp)

Calvary Officer Frank Troy(Terrence Stamp)-Bachelor #1!

 

Gentleman Farmer, Mr. Boldwood(Peter Finch)

Gentleman Farmer, Mr. Boldwood(Peter Finch) Bachelor #2!

b

Shepherd Gabriel Oak(Alan Bates)

Shepherd Gabriel Oak(Alan Bates)Bachelor #3!

Bathsheba, who knew Gabriel Oak from her childhood, succeeds in hiring him to be her head shepherd.  He notices that she  is an impetuous sort of girl when she sends a Valentine to the neighbor, Mr. Boldwood.  Boldwood is surprised and  touched by the missive, so much so that he seeks Bathsheba out and proposes to her!  She agrees to think about his offer of marriage, but during the allotted time that she has asked for in contemplating Boldwood’s proposal, she meets Calvary Officer Troy.  He is so handsome in that red uniform, he marvels Bathsheba with his sword handling skills, and he knows she is rich.  Bathsheba and Troy soon marry, much to Boldwood’s great sorrow.

Married life begins for the couple and sadly,  Bathsheba is at first blind to her new husband’s faults and he has a bundle of them.  He antagonizes the farm’s field hands with his pestering, he gambles away a lot of Bathsheba’s money, and he also has another woman from his past that will soon enter into the plot and drive Troy to disappear.

After waiting the prescribed amount of time to have Troy declared legally dead, Bathsheba agrees to marry Mr. Boldwood.   A huge engagement party is planned by Boldwood and all of Weatherbury are invited.  When all are gathered and enjoying the party, an unexpected guest arrives and it drives Boldwood to act out in a crazy and violent manner.

While all of the drama, passion, and turmoil roil around Bathsheba, Gabriel has managed to be the calm observer and when asked, gives wise, honest answers.  Will Bathsheba wake up and realize that Gabriel is the man for her?  Is she doomed to remain single after these disastrous first two tries at gaining a husband?  One must seek out this film and find out the answers to those questions.

Luckily, it will air on TCM on Tuesday, March 3 at 7:45 am est/6:45 am cst.  Set your dvrs!  Far From the Madding Crowd is also avaible to buy via TCM’s Shop in a dvd or a blu-ray dvd.  It is also available to purchase at Amazon.

While the film isn’t on You Tube, some kind soul did post it’s trailer, one audiences would have seen in 1967 to

promote the film.    FFTMC poster 2

 

 

 

Resolutions, Part Three

My last resolution is  to explore, consider, hash out, and plan out for 2015 how  we as a family are doing with giving. Not giving of time but with monetary donations.  Afterall, one is born into this world with nothing materially and when one dies, it has famously been said, “You can’t take it with you!”

In 2014, a former youth minister who served at First Christian Church of Florissant when we were members of that church,Titus Benton(he now serves as a youth miniser at Current Christian Church in Katy, TX)wrote a thought-provoking book and a spirtually convicting book, titled Grip: Let Loose, Dig Deep, & Take Hold.  To me it was challenging in the ways it caused me to evaluate how my husband and I spend our family’s income, and how we could do more with what we are given to help others in this world who are less fortunate than our family.

We Americans know the names: Rockefeller, Edison, Carnegie, Ford, Du Pont, Vanderbilt, Morgan-surnames from some of the wealthiest families America has produced.  Nowadays, one would probably add Buffet, Gates, Jobs, Cuban, and a steady stream of countless others.  We, in the middle-class, think of these folks as the wealthy. However, and I found this eye-opening from reading Grip, how does my wealth stand up when compared to the World’s?  According to the World’s Economic Standards, due to our family having a house, vehicles, husband’s job, ability to purchase food, clothing, fuel, we are in the top 1% of the richest in the world.  So, technically, we could add our surname to the list I compiled earlier in this paragraph!

We all know about the suffering in this world:  natural disasters that hit without warning, such as the horrible earthquake that hit Haiti, or the Tsunami that devastated the lives of many in Indonesia, the sicknesses that run rampant especially in third world countries, people who are starving, who don’t have access to clean water, people in our own country who are sick, lonely, or in prison.  How often do these people and their needs cross our minds?  Maybe they don’t at all, unless we hear about the latest disaster on the news.  What can the typical American do about these horrible problems?

I would simply suggest that A. Find a charity of your choice that seeks to deal with a problem that you want to see gone.  B. With the help of the internet, you can find out how the charities you are interested in donating to use their funds that they receive; how much goes to the actual work of defeating the problem? How much money is going to overhead costs, like tv commericals and the CEO’s paycheck? C. Examine your monthly expenditures.  After the mortgage, insurance, utilitiy bills, school fees, food, gas have been set aside, I would challenge you to go over the things your family buys each month that aren’t needs for survival.  I’ll pick on one expenditure, Starbucks.  I am not a fan of their coffee as I find it too strong, and I also think they overcharge, but if you decided to not go there for a month, and set that money aside that you’d normally spend there, at the end of that month, you could send that money to a charity.

I would also get the kids involved, if you have kids, and make this a family project.  If we want the future generations to care about the less fortunate in this world, we parents have to lead by example.  Let the kids brainstorm about other ways to save money up for a month such as no restaurant visits or no visits to the movie theatre for a month, and then put that saved money towards another charity.

So, this, my last resolution, is a bit of a challenge, a bit of something for you to consider.  For a thought-provoking read, I heartily recommend ordering the book Grip: Let Loose, Dig Deep, & Take Hold and you can do so through Amazon.  For those of the Christian faith, are you living out your faith by helping others or are you just turning a blind eye to the needs in this world? To those who don’t claim a religious faith at all, I’ll close out with a good quote by John Bunyan(1628-1688), which was also used in Grip:”You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”

 

My Classic Movie Pick: Colorado Territory

Joel McCrea was one of my grandma’s favorite actors.  She told me that years ago when I was probably 12 or 13 years old.  At age 12 or 13, I had no idea who Joel McCrea was, but when I began to watch classic movies in my high school days, I did find out who he was.  A tall, good-looking actor, often playing in comedies or dramas in the 1930s and 1940s; I could see why he was one of my grandma’s favorites!  In the late 1940s and heading into the 1950s, McCrea was aging and he turned increasingly to roles in Western films.  Colorado Territory was just such a career changing role and it fit McCrea’s persona to a T.

CO Territory

In 1941, famed Hollywood director Raoul Walsh had a huge box office hit with a gangster movie, High Sierra, that starred Humphrey Bogart.   Jumping ahead to 1949, a similarly plotted film treatment landed on his desk, Colorado Territory, written by Edmund H. North and John Twist.  Their screenplay took High Sierra and pushed it back in time to the 1870s.  Walsh loved the story and  got the greenlight from Warner Brothers to make this “newish” version of his earlier film.

In Colorado Territory, we meet outlaw Wes McQueen(Joel McCrea) stuck in a jail in Clay County, Missouri.  He’s a notorious bank robber and train robber and known for being very fast with a gun.  A sweet, little old lady arrives at the jail with a cake and some handknit woolen socks for McQueen, telling the jailor and sheriff that she’s McQueen’s Aunt Georgina(Hallene Hill).  She is informed that she won’t be allowed to see McQueen, but that the basket of goodies will be delivered to him.  As the aunt leaves, she tells the sheriff to give McQueen a message, that his old white horse has been broken to drive buggies by his Uncle Pluthner.  The basket is given to McQueen with the message about his old white horse.  McQueen immediately perks up, because he realizes it’s a coded message and that Pluthner isn’t really his uncle but a former Pinkerton agent turned outlaw.  With an unraveling knitted sock, McQueen is able to escape from his jail cell in a way that would have made tv’s MacGuyver proud!

McQueen starting to unravel one of the socks.

McQueen starting to unravel one of the socks.

The next morning it is discovered that McQueen has escaped.  A bell is rung in the town, and a posse is rounded up.  The chase to catch McQueen is on!  Meanwhile, McQueen has met up with Pluthner(Harry Woods), who tells him that McQueen’s old robbing buddy, Dave Rickard(Basil Ruysdael) is living in Colorado territory and he wants McQueen to help him with one more train robbery, which will yield a large haul of cash, and that they can split it up with Pluthner, and then they can all scatter to do what they want with their lives.

McQueen makes a short stop at his family’s farm.  He sits on his horse, looking wistfully around as he remembers his boyhood there.  The new owner’s son appears, on his way to a fishing hole.  McQueen recognizes the boy and asks him how is his family doing?  The youth answers his questions but when McQueen asks about Martha, the boy’s face clouds up with sadness.  He motions to McQueen that Martha is over yonder, buried in the cemetery.  McQueen is very sad to learn of this news.  He goes alone to pay his respects to Martha and from McCrea’s somber acting, we can tell that Martha was a very important person in McQueen’s life and future plans.  This scene also allows the audience to feel empathy for this outlaw, who went from a mischievious youth to bad choices to now, wanting to just pull off one more robbery and then he’ll pursue a quiet, upright life.  We are rooting for McQueen, hoping he can make this change.

McQueen visiting Martha's grave

McQueen visiting Martha’s grave

To get to Colorado territory and avoid the posse, McQueen takes a stagecoach and meets  fellow passengers, Mr. Fred Winslow(Henry Hull) and his pretty daughter, Julie Ann(Dorothy Malone).  Winslow is a chatterer, and goes on and on about leaving Georgia behind for a rich ranch he has purchased, Rancho del Sol.  Julie Ann is exasperated with her father and several times tells him to stop telling about their personal affairs to this traveling stranger.  McQueen lies, and tells the Winslow’s that his name is Jeff Rogers and that one day he, too, would like to farm or ranch in the West.  When bandits are about to  attack the stagecoach, McQueen impresses all with his ability to defend and defeat the would-be robbers.  At the stagecoach depot, McQueen spies a wanted poster with his picture on it and he deftly tears if off the wall and discards it while accepting the award of a good horse that will help him get to the his next point -an abandoned mission town, Todos Santos, where the rest of the train robbing gang are waiting for him.

McQueen sees the bandits approach while on the stagecoach

McQueen sees the bandits approach while on the stagecoach

Winslow reveals he moved Julie Ann to Colorado to get her away from a scoundrel back in Georgia

Winslow reveals he moved Julie Ann to Colorado to get her away from a scoundrel back in Georgia

Dprpthy Malone as Julie Ann-can she take Martha's place in McQueen's heart?

Dorothy Malone as Julie Ann-can she take Martha’s place in McQueen’s heart?

 

McQueen arrives in Todos Santos and meets his robbery team.  What a bunch of misfits!  There’s the brute, Reno Blake(John Archer), who has brought along a dance hall gal, Colorado Carson(Virginia Mayo)-a half-breed, rough kind of woman.  Rounding out the trio is Duke Harris(James Mitchell) a smart-alecky, psychopathic guy.  James Mitchell is so good in his role-I had only really known him previously from his role as Curly in the dream ballet sequence of the movie version of Oklahoma! and his long-standing role on the soap opera All My Children.  I really think he should have been nominated for a best supporting actor, he does that well with the role of the twisted Duke!

Meeting the robbery gang at Todos Santos: Reno, Colorado, and Duke

Meeting the robbery gang at Todos Santos: Reno, Colorado, and Duke

Duke giving McQueen some more information about the robbery

Duke giving McQueen some more information about the robbery

McQueen having to break up a fight between Duke and Reno

McQueen having to break up a fight between Duke and Reno

McQueen lets it be known that he is in charge of this robbery for Rickard and Pluthner.  Reno and Duke aren’t happy about this, but keep their complaints to one another.  Colorado can tell that McQueen is a better man than Reno or Duke could ever hope to be and she begins to flirt with McQueen.  One night she overhears him murmur Martha’s name in his sleep, and when he awakens, Colorado asks him about Martha, then throws herself into McQueen’s arms, essentially asking him to take her with him when the robbery is done.  McQueen gently refuses her, taking her arms down from his neck and explains that there is someone else he wants to plan his future with, Julie Ann.  He tells Colorado that he’ll make sure she gets a cut of the money and that he will expect her to go off on her own to start her new life.

Colorado realizing McQueen is a better man than Reno

Colorado realizing McQueen is a better man than Reno

Showing McQueen how well her broken leg has healed!

Showing McQueen how well her broken leg has healed!

Colorado begging McQueen to take her with him after the robbery

Colorado begging McQueen to take her with him after the robbery

 

The town’s station agent(Ian Wolfe) visits the gang.  He’s a nervous sort of fellow, and a weakling.  He has arrived to tell them the specifics of the train’s arrival and how much money it will be hauling in the safe.  What he doesn’t tell the gang is that he’s really working with the U.S. Marshall for the region.  The Marshall(Morris Ankrum) has gotten information about the attempted train robbery and he’s pretty sure McQueen’s behind it.  More double-dealings are revealed: Pluthner has arranged with Reno and Duke to keep the money for themselves and to kill McQueen and Rickard, and Reno and Duke have their own plan brewing, to keep the money for themselves, killing McQueen, Colorado, and Pluthner in the process.

The robbery happens but it doesn’t go according to anyone’s plans and McQueen discovers all of the double-crosses that were going to happen.  Unfortunately he is shot in the shoulder and while he and Colorado hide out at the Winslow’s ranch for a bit, McQueen sadly discovers that Julie Ann is not the girl he thought she was and he decides then and there to not plan a future with her as his wife.  Leaving the Winslow’s ranch to head back to Todos Santos with Colorado, he realizes that perhaps Colorado is the woman he really loves.

It's Colorado who McQueen really loves!

It’s Colorado who McQueen really loves!

 

Uh oh! Seeing those smoke signals!

Uh oh! Seeing those smoke signals!

With McQueen and Colorado now planning their new life together at the old mission, with money in their possession and just a short ride over a mountain ridge to Mexico, they suddenly are awakened from their plans by the sight of smoke signals-an Indian that the US Marshall had sent to search for them found them at Todos Santos and sent the signal to let the Marshall and his posse know where McQueen and Colorado are hiding.

One of the film's last images

One of the film’s last images

I won’t reveal the end of Colorado Territory as I want the potential viewers to seek this film out!  It’s a well-acted film, a storyline that doesn’t have any plot holes, and it touches on that philosophical question, can a person really change their life around?

Colorado Territory will be shown on TCM on Saturday, April 25th, at 4:30 pm EST/3:30 pm CST.  It is also available to view on Amazon’s instant rent or for purchase.  I’ll end my blog with a few more movie posters for Colorado Territory and I find them a bit amusing as they all focus on Virginia Mayo over Joel McCrea!

T.his poster I find quite well done

This poster I find quite well done

Two posters, comparing the two main characters of High Sierra and Colorado Territory

Two posters, comparing the two main characters of High Sierra and Colorado Territory

From my limited highschool French, this  movie isn't all about the girl of the desert!

From my limited high school French, this movie isn’t all about the girl of the desert!

CT poster 2

Resolutions, Part Two

Last week I wrote about my goal to be healthier and my ongoing weight loss program.  Today’s post is all about decluttering our house of STUFF!  After almost 26 years of marriage, 7 kids in various stages of leaving the nest and still needing to be in the nest, a dog, a turtle, and having moved and lived in 7 different homes, our family has accumulated a lot of stuff and lots of it needs to go!

I don’t watch the tv show about the people that hoard things to the point that they can’t even really live in their homes, but at times, there are areas in our house that are starting to pile up and I don’t like that that is happening.  Books that we need to evaluate if we should keep them or give them away, toyboxes overflowing with toys that aren’t played with anymore, old computer games and computer parts, VHS tapes and a VCR that according to our kids, has bit the dust.  Clothes-I will pat myself on the back here, as every year I have our kids go through their closets and dresser drawers and cull through their clothes-hand over to me what they can’t fit into or what they just plain don’t like anymore.  Off to Goodwill the clothes depart.  Husband is the only one who won’t go through his clothes-he even still owns a ghastly pair of “earth” shoes, from the his junior high days that I have threatened to send to the grave with  him!  It didn’t help when the main character on Breaking Bad, the chemistry teacher, even wore a pair!!!  Husband delighted in telling me that fashion repeats itself, and the earth shoes stayed in his closet!

The dreaded Earth shoes!!!

The dreaded Earth shoes!!!

I did begin a mini-book give away last week when a former homeschooling music program our kids participated in when we lived in the St. Louis area was asking for donations of educational picture books for their Young at Arts students.  That was a nice feeling, to go through our myriad stacks of picture books and pull some out for donating and delivering them.  I have also planned on a toybox purge this month.  Some of our 7 kids have been polled if there are any toys they want us to keep for their future families: Legos, American Girl dolls, a doll house and it’s occupants and furnishings will be saved and the wooden toys my Dad made, those will be kept.  I think the rest will have to go.  Need to double-check with the firstborn if he cares about his matchbox cars or not and that NFL football his uncle gave him years ago.

A site that I have found very helpful in being a more organized person, and has great tips on decluttering a home, is  Flylady.  Flylady? No, she is not a superheroine, but a real person, Marla Cilley, who earned her nickname from teaching fly fishing.  She is a real person and used to be a cluttered gal, with a home she was embarrassed to let anyone into for a visit.  After living this way for a number of years, she had had enough and began her own system for becoming organized and having a company ready home for visitors.  She eventually wrote some books about her system of staying organized and also began a helpful, online website, which one can check out here, at Flylady.net.

Some common and  wise sayings via Flylady.

Some common and wise sayings via Flylady.

      Flylady

Flylady’s system is pretty easy to follow.  A home is divided up into 5 zones : Front foyer and dining room areas, kitchen, bathrooms, master bedroom, living room/family room.  Each week of the month, the cleaning focus is on that room, and the assigned tasks usually take no more than 15 minutes.  There is also a weekly Home Blessing, with 7 tasks done weekly, to help keep the home visitor ready, and each task is about 15 minutes in length.  There are also daily kid challenges (i.e. chores) that entail the kids in your home to help keep their bedrooms picked up, and to keep track of their stuff, and even recipe ideas for that ultimate dinner saver, the crock pot.  Flylady does sell house cleaning tools, but it is optional if you want to buy any or not.  There is no fee for looking at her website and trying out her methods.  She also stresses to take care of yourself, get enough sleep, drink enough  water, get daily exercise, and eat healthy foods.  Saturdays she urges all to have family fun time-on an outing or at one’s home.  Sundays, she encourages a day of rest, to worship and recharge as fits one’s beliefs.

2015-here’s to getting organized, to decluttering; I for one don’t want my adult kids having to decide what to do with all of Mom and Dad’s stuff, after we have left this mortal coil!

 

 

Resolutions, Part One

Resolution: per Webster’s Dictionary, states: “The act of resolving or determining upon an action, course of action, method, procedure, etc.”  With January here and almost halfway done(!), I decided that  for my next 3 Tuesday blogs, I’d focus on some resolutions I have made.

bbq

My first resolution began this past July.  I was at a bbq visiting with some Florissant friends, and one friend in particular, who looked fabulously fit, was happy to share with me how she had lost some excess weight and had been able to  keep it off for two years.  Her method was a low-carbohydrate way of eating, or low-carb, for short.  As I drove home to Rolla later that  evening, I decided that I had to do something about losing my excess weight.  I had had a health scare in November-December of 2013, where my vision in my left eye was dimmer, there was eye pain, a diagnosis of Optic Neuritis was declared and tests for Multiple Sclerosis were run, as Optic Neuritis is often a first symptom of MS.  The tests were negative and at the follow-up with the Neurologist, she kept asking me if Diabetes ran in my family’s health history.  I was able to tell her no, that it didn’t.  She then encouraged me to lose weight, even though my blood pressure and other vitals were in the normal ranges.

On that drive  home, I mulled over in my mind that it was time to get back to a normal weight for my 5’6″ height.  I had successfully lost 20 lbs on Weight Watchers 8 years previously.  Back then, Weight Watchers was  based on a points system.  Certain foods were assigned points and I was allotted to eat 24 points a day.  This system worked but when I had lost the 20 lbs., WW suddenly cut my daily points down to 20!  That came as a nasty surprise to me and I began to slack off of the program and gained back those 20 lbs and then some.  Ugh!

Mary Englebright Expectant Momma Illustration

Mary Englebright Expectant Momma Illustration

In my younger years, I was always a normal weight for my height.  Then, in 1991, motherhood arrived.  You know how James Bond, 007 Super Spy has a license to kill?  I took  my first pregnancy to mean that I had a license to eat!  With 6 more babies arriving, from 1994-2003, my weight kept creeping up.  Low-carb, from my friend’s descriptions of it, seemed like a good way to lose weight and my research began in earnest.

I went to the Atkins Diet website and read all about the program.  There weren’t points assigned to foods.  It was simply a matter of restricting carb laden foods.  The first two weeks were the most stringent of the plan and the second week of my new eating regime I found myself at camp, working as a volunteer, and facing high carb treats at every meal!  But I went to camp prepared, with nuts, flavored waters, and when on the mornings that breakfasts were pancakes or sausage gravy and biscuits, I stuck to eating almonds and drinking my coffee black!

After those first two strict weeks, I could begin to slowly add healthier carb items back in to my diet, and have been sticking to this way of eating since late July/early August.  I have lost 33 lbs and only have 20 more to go and then I’ll be in the healthy range for my height.  Thanksgiving and Christmas were full of carb heavy foods, but I planned accordingly, skipping some treats, letting myself have some of others, and I didn’t destroy my weight loss plans too badly.

It has been fun to give away larger-sized clothes that I can no longer wear to Goodwill. It’s been a pleasant surprise to fit back into smaller-sized clothes that I forgot I owned!  My snoring has stopped.   The compliments from a few individuals have been music to my ears.  I also inspired my parents to give low carb a try and they got nice and fit for their recent 50th Wedding Anniversary party!  My dear husband has also decided to embark on low carb, as he did it several years ago to much success, but then got away from it.  He and I both know that it is the maintenance of a low carb way of eating that is even more challenging than the losing of the weight.

One book I intend to read  is Gary Taube’s Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It.  Taube is a science writer and he decided to write a book exploring why we, Americans in particular, become fat? One of the most interesting facts in the book to me was that years ago, in America and Europe, if a patient went to his doctor for weight loss advice, the common answer was to cut one’s carbohydrate intake.  Shortly after World War II, that mindset in the medical community changed to the method we see today, lowfat, high carbs.  If one looks at the food pyramid that our own Federal Govenment plasters everywhere, it doesn’t fit a low carb model at all!

The Food Pyramid when following a Low Carb Eating Plan

The Food Pyramid when following a Low Carb Eating Plan

The Us Government's Food Pyramid-note the huge, suggested daily servings of high carb foods!

The Us Government’s Food Pyramid-note the huge, suggested daily servings of high carb foods!

 

While I have been on this low carb journey, I’ve learned to look at food labels very closely:specifically noting the serving sizes and carb contents, measured  in grams.  It is very shocking how high some food products are in carbs-especially juices, sodas, and even some of the “healthier” drinks on the market.  Even many of the gluten-free products on the shelves are still very high in carbohydrates.  My youngest, age 11, who loves the Eat This, Not That book series, likes to be my food label reader and  carb checker.  He has been amazed to note the high levels of carbs in some foods, too.   Our 16 year old, who is very tall and skinny and loves to run each day, has been my “Jiminy Crickett”-that conscious for Pinocchio in the Disney animated movie-asking me if sneaking a cookie is worth it, how many carbs are in it, etc.  I have also begun using an app, My Fitness Plan, as suggested to me by my 20 year old daughter.  This app has a handy log for keeping track of what I eat each day, a graph to show my weight losses so far, and I can even record my walks and other forms of exercise if I choose to do so.   It’s nice to have the family being supportive of my efforts to be healthier.

This, in a nutshell, is my first resolution, albeit begun in 2014, and so far, the journey to be healthier has not been too hard.  If you are wanting to lose weight, I heartily recommend reading about the low-carb method, and do check with your doctor beforehand, to see if it would be fine with him or her, and listen to any other advice that they may have to offer on getting healthier in 2015.

 

My Classic Movie Pick: Intruder in the Dust

My twin daughters, 14 years old, read the novel To Kill a Mockingbird last semester in their English class.  I recalled having to read that same book when I was in junior high and then getting to watch the movie in class, as we wrapped up that novel.   I was surprised, and pleasantly so, when a year ago I stumbled upon a movie airing on TCM that was a similar plot to Mockingbird and  was also written by a Southern US born and raised author, William Faulkner; my surprise was that here was a movie just as involving and good as To Kill a Mockingbird, but it was unknown to me.   That movie was 1950’s Intruder in the Dust, made by MGM 10 years before To Kill a Mockingbird was published and 12 years before its film version was released in theatres.

iitd poster 2

There are 4 main characters in this film: Lucas Beauchamp(played so well by Juano Hernandez), Chick Mallison(Claude Jarman Jr.), John Gavin Stevens(David Brian), and Miss Habersham(Elizabeth Patterson).  These 4 all live in the same small town in Mississippi.  Lucas is a black man who owns property.  He owns some acreage outside of town, with a modest home, and the river runs through his land.  Chick is a typical, gangly 15 year old teenager, who enjoys rambling around in the woods hunting.  He’s polite, quiet, and often deep in thought.  His Uncle John Stevens is a well-thought of lawyer in town.  Miss Habersham is a kind, polite elderly lady who proves that she isn’t one to just sit in her rocking chair and knit all day!

Lucas Beauchamp

Lucas Beauchamp

Chick

Chick

Uncle John

Uncle John

Miss Habersham

Miss Habersham

The plot is about a murder, a wrongly accused man, those trying to protect and prove that man’s innocence, and those who want to see the accused man dead.  At 87 minutes, it is a fast-paced film and hits all of the right notes in portraying Faulkner’s book, and it was filmed in Faulkner’s hometown of Oxford, Mississippi.

A businessman, Vinson Gowrie, has been found murdered.  It is assumed that Lucas Beauchamp is the murderer and he is arrested and charged with the crime.  As Lucas is being taken to jail, the townspeople form an angry mob leading to the jail’s front doors. In the crowd of onlookers is Chick.  Lucas makes eye contact with him and asks the boy to find his Uncle John, and to ask Uncle John to be his lawyer.  From this point, the movie becomes a flashback, with Chick urging his Uncle John to take up Lucas’s case.

Chick relays to his Uncle John that in November  when he, Chick, was out hunting with his friend Aleck, Chick accidentally fell into the frigid waters of the river and Lucas happened to hear his cries and rescued him, took him to his own home, put him by the fire, and got him some warm clothes to put on while waiting for Chick’s wet clothes to dry.  Chick tells his Uncle that he was ashamed that he never properly thanked Lucas for saving him, allowing it to the fact that he wasn’t raised to show respect to  black people.  From that point in the movie, Chick and Lucas do develop a friendship.   Chick also recalls for his Uncle John how one day when at the General Store, Vinson, the murdered victim, insulted Lucas and was about to hit him in the head before the other men in the store stopped him. Chick theorizes that that incident could be why Lucas has been wrongly accused.  Uncle John finally agrees to take Lucas’s case.

Chick, drying off at Lucas's home

Chick, drying off at Lucas’s home

With the flashback now over, the film goes forward to the present.  Uncle John visits Lucas in jail and learns from him that a white businessman, a lumberyard owner, had beaten Lucas to get him to confess that Vinson Gowries, the man’s business partner,was the culprit stealing lumber from the business.  Lucas refuses to divulge anymore information to Uncle John, but he does tell Chick to go and dig up Vinson’s body as he is positive that the bullet in the corpse is not a match to the bullets in Lucas’s gun.   Uncle John finds out about the plan to dig up the body and disagrees with it, but Chick and Aleck find a helpful soul in Miss Habersham, who is convinced of Lucas’s innocence.  Together, the 3 go on a mission to dig up that corpse.

Uncle John getting information from Lucas while an angry mob grows outside of the jail

Uncle John getting information from Lucas while an angry mob grows outside of the jail

I don’t want to divulge anymore of the plot but suffice it to say that it is a good mystery, well-acted, and worth seeking out for a viewing.  Intruder in the Dust can be found via Amazon either to buy or view on their “instant rent” and  it will be shown on TCM(Turner Classic Movies) Monday, January 19th, at 6:00 am EST/5:00 am CST, so set that dvr!

Publicity still for Intruder in the Dust

Publicity still for Intruder in the Dust

Claude Jarman Jr. (Chick) meeting Intruder in the Dust's author, William Faulkner.

Claude Jarman Jr. (Chick) meeting Intruder in the Dust’s author, William Faulkner.