Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Phenomena of A Street Cat Named Bob…..

February 24, 2017
I think I first heard about Bob when I came across the book at a bookstore while visiting Britain – that or my mother-in-law bought us one of the books as a present. Either way, the story of a stray cat who one day showed up in the kitchen of a formerly homeless recovering addict, is better than reality TV. In fact, after writing several successful books, James Bowen’s life was made into a movie last year called “A Street Cat Named Bob.” Lest you think this is some little movie (though it is), they did sign a couple big stars – Anthony Head (aka ‘Giles’ of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fame) and Joanne Froggatt (aka ‘Anna’ on “Downton Abbey”). Not sure if the film ever played stateside, but is available for streaming on for $4.99, so it’s definitely worth a watch.

In a nutshell, after determining that Bob didn’t belong to anyone else, James adopts Bob (or rather, Bob adopts James) and Bob becomes his sidekick when James is busking or selling The Big Issue. Busking is when you legally (with a license) or illegally pick a spot in a touristy area and show off your talent for money. Some people coat themselves entirely in silver or gold paint and then pretend to be a statue all day, whereas others juggle fire sticks, or in the case of James, play songs on the guitar. The Big Issue is a magazine covering current news issues (esp the plight of the homeless) sold by homeless or other low income residents of London and other major cities throughout Britain. The seller buys a stack of magazines at a percentage of the cover price, then proceeds to sell their stack. Anything unsold can’t be returned. When I lived in Britain I regularly bought the magazine (which only cost a pound then) which was a good read and good value.

After having read all three of James’ books, I can tell you that the movie of his life sugar coats things a bit, but a bit of creative license is par for the course when a book is adapted for the screen. Still, the screenwriter did a decent job and I assume James gave his blessing. In fact, he even has a cameo towards the end of the film, so that was quite cool. He gets his book autographed and says to the actor, “I feel like I lived your life,” or something to that effect.

Hence, if you’re looking for something to read or a good film to stream, especially if you’re a cat lover like I am, then you can’t go wrong with the whole “Bob” series.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Spring Fever...

Hello. I hope everyone had a good Valentine's Day. Yes, I know it's a sappy, Hallmark holiday that's really only fun if you have a significant other to share it with. As an old married woman I can tell you it's not always that exciting, though we did use the holiday as an excuse to go see a movie on a week night. The movie we selected was "Lego Batman." We weren't the only ones there without kids; it was about half and half. In fact, for an hour and a half movie starting at 7:30pm, on a school night, I was surprised there were so many kids in the audience (part of me wants to make a crack about bad parenting, but I will refrain), one (child) of which was quite noisy throughout the film, marring our enjoyment somewhat (again, bad parenting anyone?).
Anyway, aside from noise complaints, we enjoyed the content of the movie. In fact, it was so detail-laden that I'm sure I missed things (like 'Bad Wolf' written on the side of a helicopter my husband spotted), plus I was a bit sleepy. Although the critics were a bit mixed about it, I can definitely recommend the movie, whether or not you take a kid with you.
Friday evening we drove to the Gateway Film Center to see the Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts after my uncle reminded me they were currently playing at the cinema (he went to see the Live Action and Documentary shorts). We used to go see the Live Action shorts, but found them to usually be either violent or depressing or a combination. We both enjoyed the selection of shorts and found them to be worthy of their nominations, and thought "Blind Vaysha" to be the most artistic embracing the use of wood block prints. We mutually agreed that "Pearl" was our favorite; a poignant story about the relationship between a young girl and her father that comes full circle.
Saturday was a gorgeous, warm, sunny day too nice to not go out and do something, so after I got back from grocery shopping, I persuaded my husband to join me for an excursion to the nearby town of Grandview.
My plan was to have lunch at Pure Imagination Chocolatier, which we had last visited sometime last year to sample their ice cream (which they don't actually make; someone in Hilliard makes it for them). We were told they were eventually planning on offering sandwiches, etc. I checked the internet and saw info about it, so it was with high expectations we set out. However, upon arrival I didn't see a deli counter or anything to indicate that beyond individual chocolates and a few pastries that there was any other food on offer. Their young employee confirmed my suspicions (saying they were still hoping to do that later in the spring). Feeling a bit disappointed (me anyway), we left to go seek out sustenance elsewhere with the promise to come back later and get some chocolates to go.
Luckily further down the road we stumbled upon a food truck rally of some sort in front of the Balboa restaurant (and a few other trucks nearby). We were certainly spoiled for choice as there perhaps a half a dozen trucks offering everything from barbecue to falafels to pitas. Since the food trucks had only just arrived, many were just setting up asking that people wait a bit, so we took a walk down the street to kill time.

I had always wanted to stop in at State of Devotion that sells Ohio themed gifts. I ended up buying 4 more photo tiles for my collection (which are displayed on the back splash by our kitchen sink). Then we browsed the stacks at Acorn books where I bought a small photo book of Tokyo architecture. By the time we made our way back down the street, the food trucks were up and running, so we both decided to get pitas and ate them in the glorious afternoon sunshine. Since I had my heart set on getting some ice cream, we stopped at Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams and sampled a few flavors before deciding on a couple different scoops each (I got the Bangkok Peanut & the Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso). Our last stop was back at Pure Imagination to select 8 chocolates to fill a small box. We each chose 4 and then headed home with our purchase.
It was such a beautiful day that we definitely got spoiled considering it's still technically winter for another month or so.
Have a great week everyone! (and enjoy the next 5 warm days).

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Movies I've Seen Lately...

Movies I've Seen Lately...
I don't know about the rest of you, but this is the time of year I go into hibernation. The cold winter nights make me want to stay in and curl up on the couch. Fortunately we haven't had much of a winter this year, but the dark-by-dinner-time evenings still make me want to stay in. We have lots of choices when it comes to sourcing our movies. We subscribe to Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Playstation Vue, not to mention owning a whole drawer full of dvds (over 100).
"Microbe & Gasoline" (France, 2015)
This movie first drew my attention when last summer I saw it listed among the films playing at our local campus (independent) movie theatre called The Gateway. We were on vacation while it was there, so we didn't get to see it. Last week I came across it in an old email and checked Amazon to see if it was available. Not only was it available, but it was free to stream for Prime members. Serendipity!
Anyway, the plot revolves around two teenage (14) boys (their nicknames are the title of the film) who decide to escape their families for the summer by building their very own 'tiny house' on wheels. Why not? That sort of thing is quite fashionable now. Of course not everything goes according to plan, but the boys certainly had some exciting adventures. If you like this movie, check out "The Kings of Summer," (2013) an American movie filmed partly in Ohio. There's no subtitles to read either.
"Must Love Dogs" (2005)
This movie was amongst a cache of films I bought when Blockbuster went out of business (2010?) which I've never gotten around to watching until now. It could have been a garage sale or thrift store purchase either. I digress...
The plot of this movie, if you couldn't guess from the title, involves a middle-aged divorcee looking for love among the Single ads (spurred on by her meddling sisters). She does actually meet someone promising while also deciding where things are going with the father of one of her students. It's a good kind of problem to have (though a bit tricky), and the situation gradually resolves itself so that the movie has a happy ending (though I wouldn't have minded seeing her with the runner up either).  If you like this film, you'll love "When Harry Met Sally" which is the standard all boy-meets-girl movies should hold themselves up to.  "Must Love Dogs" is kind of the watered down version of Harry and Sally.
"Joe Somebody" (2001)
My first thought when I saw this movie was how young Julie Bowen and Hayden Panettiere looked in this (Tim Allen pretty much looked the same). I selected this film because I like the message it delivered that sometimes you start out as a nobody/underdog, but if you believe in yourself and take action to change things, you can come out on top. In this case, Tim Allen, aka "Joe Somebody" is a "schmuck" (in the words of Greg Germann's character) who gets 'bitch slapped' in the parking lot in front of his 12 year old daughter and dozens of his coworkers.

Warning, possible spoiler alert:
Utterly humiliated, he takes some time off work and is a bit despondent until confronted by the director of his company's health & wellness department (Julie Bowen aka 'Claire' on "Modern Family"). It's only when she asks him, "What do you want?" that he decides he wants a rematch with the coworker who humiliated him. Having this goal in mind, he seeks out some self defense lessons from Jim Belushi's character. Joe's coworkers rally behind him and he suddenly becomes big man on campus with a promotion, bigger office, company car, etc. Not everyone is happy with his new status and behavior, and it's the fight scene where the moral lesson is learned. Yes, a lot of this movie is cliche, but at least it's well done, and I like the casting as each actor seemed perfect for their role.

Upcoming films I hope to see.....

The new "Lego Batman" movie and the trio of Indiana Jones films (yes, I've seen them, but after a recent discussion at church about the Ark of the Covenant, I feel compelled to watch them again).

Have a good week everyone!


Sunday, February 5, 2017

What I've Been Reading Lately...

Well, I've read two books this year - both animal themed. Christmas at Battersea: True Stories of Miracles and Hope and A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron (of which the current movie is based on).
They're both tear jerkers and would probably most interest a dog lover, though cats are mentioned in both (I think there's only 2 or 3 cat stories in the Battersea book). I have to admit to crying after reading some of the stories in the Battersea book, while my coworker, who was kind enough to loan me her copy of A Dog's Purpose, said she cried each time the dog ended one life and started another. I'm still not sure I could go see that movie without bawling my eyes out, so perhaps I might wait until it's on dvd or streamable.
Christmas at Battersea is a compilation of adoption stories by very satisfied customers who welcomed a former 4-legged resident of the infamous London shelter into their homes. Of course there's both happy and sad moments in these stories; such is the stuff of life. Overall, it's very heartwarming and almost makes me want to go out and adopt another furry friend (except our resident fur baby is determined to be an only child).
A Dog's Purpose is the story of a dog, told from his (sometimes her) point of view starting life as a puppy, and continually evolving as he ends one life and then begins again as another breed (and sometimes a different sex), all the while wanting to be reunited with his boy, Ethan, whom he met during his second life. I love that the author told the story from the dog's point of view, and it really made me think. What if our pets could reincarnate? How much do our pets pick up on our moods? (I believe they do quite a lot).
I can't say enough good things about both these books, so if you're feeling a little sentimental towards our furry friends, pick up a copy today and you won't be sorry.
Also, while I have your attention, if you do think you might want to adopt a fur baby in the form of a cat or dog, we have plenty of great shelters in Franklin County. I am partial to the Capital Area Humane Society, of which my husband are perpetual donors. Back in December their building suffered severe damage when a frozen pipe burst. Luckily no animals were hurt and they're still able to be housed safely, but the veterinary center and gift shop had to be gutted. Although they were insured, that never covers everything, so I'm sure they could still use your support and donations.
Thanks as always for reading my blog, and have a good week!