Boasts & Pot Roasts

I’ve been blogging long enough now (nearly a year!) to officially have a recurring post. I will patiently pause for the mandatory mini fireworks display in your brain…

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This marks the second installment of my wildly successful “Boasts & Pot Roasts” franchise piece. And by ‘wildly successful,’ I mean my husband has read it—at least that’s what he swore to me when I relentlessly interrogated him on an unusually hot June day.  For those of you who are just catching on to this cultural phenomenon, allow me to direct you to the first post in which I described my “Boasts” as the things I’m proud to say I read, saw, experienced or heard. Sometimes they are newly released, but they can also be classic hidden gems worth a second look. My “Pot Roasts,” on the other hand, are books, TV, movies, music etc. that have received a whole lot of hype but to my estimation fall flat. Think Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty’s “Ishtar.” For those of you under the age of 40, how about Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez in “Gigli”? You get the drift. Now on to my list.

BOASTS:

Sense and Sensibility  PG 1995 directed by Ang Lee (currently available on Starz)

Many of you have probably already seen this, but I watched it again for the first time in about ten years. It is a beautiful portrait of quiet virtue. The scenery is downright gorgeous, but the writing and acting, particularly by Emma Thompson make this a cut above other period pieces. Jane Austen’s keen observance of navigating the social spider webs of her day is outstanding coupled with Director Ang Lee’s compelling visual portrayal. Miss Austen’s classic work truly shines and I think it worth a revisit.

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The Brant Hansen Show on Way-FM

My kids and I do a lot of driving. Anything that relieves the doldrums in Denver traffic, yes PLEASE! This guy makes me laugh. Way-FM is a Christian radio station. To all you K-Love enthusiasts, break out of the mold for a moment. Way-FM’s music selection is a little more hip and their DJ’s a heck of a lot more real.  Brant Hansen is refreshingly honest, heroically vulnerable and very humorous. He shares stories about his battles with social awkwardness as a person coping with Asperger’s. He is a great storyteller who manages to bring his extremely relatable struggles back to faith in Christ, all done with great comedic flair. This is one of those rare occasions where both the kids and I can happily agree. And there’s nothing better than looking back in the rearview seeing them laughing uproariously. If you can’t find it on your dial, there is a Way-FM app so you can listen on your phone or computer. The show airs 9am-1pm MT. 

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Oh my, OMAHA!

We took a road trip to Nebraska to check out the zoo. We had heard about it from a doctor of ours who is a huge zoo-goer. He asserted that Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo is one of his favorites in the country, even better than the San Diego Zoo. He was right. My kids loved it. Special features include the world’s largest indoor desert, swamp, and jungle. There is an amazing splash park for kids and an Adventure Land section where kids can climb next to monkeys separated by netting. We didn’t even have time to see the aquarium which was included in our ticket price. I am not a zoo enthusiast. “Oh wow, another far away glance of a zebra’s rear end….” Even I liked this zoo. Admission is $16 for ages 3 – 11. 12 & over is $22. Other honorable mentions for Omaha, the Joslyn Art Museum which is free to get in and had some amazing artists on display in a really great Art Deco building. We also loved the Durham Museum which highlights Omaha’s railroad history. It’s located in their historic Union station. Also of note, a scenic walking bridge that spans the Missouri river that allows you to straddle two states: Nebraska and Iowa.

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Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus (Young Adult, ages 9-15)

Summer reading doesn’t get better than this! I read the Newbery medal winner aloud to my kids and they couldn’t get enough. They were begging “just a few more pages, pleeez,” as their bedtime quietly came and went. It was too easy to comply as I also couldn’t wait to find out how the young hero, Manjiro fared from chapter to chapter. Set in the mid-1800’s, during an intense, long-held isolationist period in Japan, the honorable Japanese boy finds himself lost at sea after a violent storm. Based on a true story and actual people, he and his band of impoverished fellow fishermen are eventually rescued by an American whaling crew. That is when the adventure truly begins. The descriptions are downright sumptuous, detailing a foreigner’s first impressions of breathtaking expeditions, unfamiliar cultures, and new lands. We all thoroughly enjoyed this heart-wrenching page-turner about a stranger in a strange land who yearns to fit into his exotic American life while longing for his home—a place he may never be welcome again.

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My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir by Colleen Carroll Campbell

I sailed through this book in a couple days on my Kindle. Every time I got a spare moment, I ate it up, which would explain my extreme dip in internet surfing during that time. In this very personal depiction, the author bravely details her existential struggles with her dad’s decline into Alzheimer’s and her own battle with infertility. She shares these intimate looks into her life through the lens of some of her favorite saints, Teresa of Avila, Thérèse of Lisieux, Mother Teresa, Edith Stein, Faustina of Poland, and the Blessed Mother. The saints seem to drop into her life when she most needs them. She masterfully weaves the difficulties and crosses in her own life with that of the heroic efforts and prayers of her saintly sisters. A must read if you’d like to get to know these major female saints better while seeing their arc of influence in the life of another daughter of God.

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POT ROAST:

Anne with an E, season 2  PG (Currently available on Netflix)

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Remarkably, season 1 of this show soared into the top spot on my first edition of BOASTS. I loved the artfully nuanced and authentic portrayal of Anne of Green Gables. Each character was crafted with such beautiful complexity. And I eagerly anticipated the release of season 2. Cue the losing ‘Price is Right’ sound effect: Buh dam pa NUH… Season two takes a sharp left turn and veers from the classic 1908 novel venturing into the more modern hot-button issues of racism and homosexuality. I’m not immediately turned off by the subject matter, but the elementary way in which it was presented was tough to take. Such caricatures as I have not seen since 1970’s sitcoms. Consider the super artsy, attractive, effeminate male character who happens to be gay. He’s brooding, spends all his time sketching, doesn’t play sports with the other boys and becomes Anne’s bestie. No stereotyping there! And each show played out like an episode of Sesame Street where Elmo is discussing the most simplistic topic of littering or the importance of washing your hands. “Boys and girls, this is where Elmo tells you about how very artsy boys can become even artsier and happier with other boys just like them.” Puh-lease! The characters in season one were so rich and multi-faceted. These portrayals are superficial at best. Therefore it moves squarely into my POT ROAST list.

That concludes my second edition of BOASTS & POT ROASTS. Let the wild success ensue. Yahoo.

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