When we lived in Palm Springs, Calif. which is one of the hottest spots in our nation — next to Death Valley — we used movies as an escape from the heat. It didn’t matter what was playing, we’d find something we were mildly interested in. It got us out of the house where we spent most days.
Then COVID hit and movie theaters were closed. I missed movies a lot. I loved the smell of popcorn when you walk through the theater doors. I loved the few hours sitting in the dark, watching the big screen with unbelievable sound.
I remember writing during the shutdown that the first thing I wanted to do when things reopened was go to the movies.
Fast forward to September 2022 — and we hadn’t been yet. The reason why? I was uncomfortable sitting in the theater with a bunch of strangers. Once we moved, the theater was a 30-minute drive, not a few blocks. The Phoenix area has 6 million people, rather than the 48,000 of Palm Springs. Whenever I looked online, the theaters were full.
Labor Day was packed at the beach. We went early and left when floods of people set up their umbrellas and chairs. We came up with the brilliant idea of going to the movies!
We saw Top Gun. I loved every minute of it. I felt like it was a milestone of getting back to “normal.”
When I got home from movie day at a neighbor’s house yesterday, I immediately texted my kids to watch the movie “Lion.” Then I bought the movie online so my husband could watch it, too.
The movie stars Dev Patel from “Slumdog Millionaire” fame and Nicole Kidman. The actor who plays the five-year-old main character Saroo is amazing and steals the show. It’s based on a true story of a young boy who gets lost and separated from his family. He’s eventually adopted by a loving couple a continent away from home. He tries to find his family 25 years later.
It’s powerful story. It’s intense. It’s easily the best movie I’ve watched in years. It came out in 2016 and I wonder how I missed it? It was nominated for six Oscars and won BAFTA awards. It’s a movie produced jointly by Australia and the UK, but was distributed in the US by the Weinstein Company. In any case, I’m thankful for the invitation to movie day and the discovery of this movie.
As for movie day, I was a little uncomfortable going to a neighbor’s home I had never met before. She had a dozen women over, all older than me. I knew only two of them. Eventually, I relaxed and enjoyed myself. The food was delicious. It was a potluck lunch and the host hand-churned mint and strawberry-ice cream for dessert!
Have you seen the movie “Lion?” If yes, what was your opinion of it? What are a few of the best movies you’ve watched this year?
I have never posted about stats before. I’m talking WordPress numbers. But after I posted Party time! something weird happened. It’s only happened once before.
My stats boomed. I was up 1,427% !!
The question is why? Wouldn’t I like to know that secret.
The other time my stats skyrocketed was when I wrote about a Darlene Love concert I attended with my husband, dad and son. We had a venue in Palm Springs called The Follies. She was the headliner for their last few shows that included dancers in their 60s and 70s who look amazing!
I figured out why those stats boomed. I shared my blog post with Darlene Love through social media and she posted it!
If you don’t know who Darlene Love is, I highly recommend the Oscar-award winning movie “20 Feet from Stardom.” Heck, I recommend that movie because the stories of the backup singers are so powerful and it includes many big stars like Sting, David Bowie and the Rolling Stones.
What are your thoughts about stats? Do you think spikes happen because of key words, SEO, tags? Or just luck?
When I was a first grader at Emerson Elementary in Snohomish, WA, our teacher said, “Please, raise your hand if you know the Golden Rule.”
I wasn’t sure what she meant by the “Golden Rule.” She pronounced each word with such emphasis and finality it made me wiggle in my seat because I wasn’t sure what it was — and it sure must be important. I looked around me and everyone’s hand had shot straight up. So, I shyly raised my hand, too. I thought hard and hoped she wouldn’t call on me. My mind raced through all the Bible versus our Mom spouted off at a fast clip each morning. The best I could come up with was from Matthew 5:39, “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”
After a sigh of relief when the teacher called on someone else, I learned that The Golden Rule was to “treat others how you wished to be treated yourself.” After that revelation, the teacher pulled down the white screen over the green chalkboard, turned off the lights and started up the projector to show us a black and white, approved for school circa 1950s, short film on “The Golden Rule.”
It seems her parenting advice is kind of a Golden Rule itself. Be the parent you would want to have as a parent Here’s an excerpt, but be sure to click on the link above to read it in full detail. It’s worth it and it’s not that long. She gives a list of things we can do to improve.
I just searched for the term “Parenting” in the Books section on a major online platform.
Do you know what I found?
Over 50,000 titles!
This makes me happy… and frustrated.
Happy, because if you’ve got valuable insights to share—on any topic—writing a book is a beautiful way to do it. (I’ve written 15 books
Frustrated, because… hmm. How do I put this elegantly?
Let’s try this:
Good parenting is not rocket science—and it shouldn’t require 50,000 books to help parents understand what is required.
As a parent, your job can be quite simple.
To care for your child, as you would care for yourself.
The problem is that many grown-ups don’t actually care for themselves in all of the ways that matter. They know how to care for themselves in the basic and fundamental ways—like brushing teeth, washing hair—but not always in the deeper ways, like maintaining emotional health or prioritizing self-respect and self-worth (which invariably translates into making positive choices.) Yes, making positive choices is a form of self-care.
The problem is that many grown-ups never learned how to truly be well-adjusted grown-ups, in large part because their parents or caregivers weren’t equipped to teach them everything they needed to know. So they tend to pass along that “shakiness” to their children, perpetuating the cycle of inadequate parenting and shaky life skills.
It is heartbreaking, but true.
This is a problem that 50,000 books are trying to help resolve.
This is a problem that I have devoted much of my 30-plus-year career in the counseling field to solving, too.
A lot of my early classroom memories are of teachers reading to us after recess, putting our heads down on desks to play a game called “Seven Up” — at least that is what I think it was called. And those black and white films the school would order. I’d love to see them now. I bet they’d make me laugh with how corny and contrived they were. They did then.
High school friends.We were all in the Yearbook staff together.
What do you think about the golden rule suggestion in parenting? Do you use it and try to parent differently than your mom and dad?
“Eighth grade,” the movie, by YouTube star Bo Burnham was touching, emotional, realistic and absolutely worth it. My daughter and I went to the theater yesterday and together we laughed, giggled, wiped a few tears and felt awkwardly uncomfortable. The movie is so realistic and the acting by Elsie Fisher as Kayla was perfect. Complete with pimples, baby fat and an unbearable shyness, you felt her pain during her last few weeks at school as she tried to come out of her shell and fit in.
Bo Burnham’s ‘Eighth Grade’ isn’t trying to teach you anything, and that’s the beauty of it
The modern coming-of-age movie “Eighth Grade” has been praised by just about every news outlet or magazine.
Written and directed by YouTuber-turned-stand-up-comedian Bo Burnham, the film’s been lauded for its realistic, no-holds-barred look into the teen experience.
It portrays timeless themes like body-image, romance and fitting in. But it also elegantly hones in on the dynamic, and perhaps inseparability, between digital culture and Generation Z.
The funny thing is that the film is neither for nor against social media. There’s no takeaway lesson that Burnham’s forcing down your throat. He’s just trying to capture real life.
Essentially, the movie has no agenda, Burnham told All The Moms.
And that’s the beauty of it.
So what’s ‘Eighth Grade’ about?
Note: Spoilers ahead!
The movie opens with teenager Kayla, played by Elsie Fisher, speaking into a camera for her YouTube channel. A little nervous, a little pimply, and a whole lot relatable, she’s talking about how she doesn’t have many likes on her videos yet and how people tend to see her as quiet and shy, even though she’s really outgoing but just doesn’t talk much at school.
During the film, we stay with Kayla for her last few weeks of middle school.
In the Arizona Daily Sun, Dan Stoffel wrote a review: “Eighth Grade, a remarkably poignant movie.”
Eighth-grader Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher) is shy and quiet around other people, but in her YouTube videos, she gives great advice about how to put yourself out there with confidence. It’s just too bad she can’t practice what she preaches and her attempts to fit in with the cool kids—or with any kids for that matter—crash and burn.
Writer-director Bo Burnham, at the helm of his first feature, takes us into Kayla’s world as she tries to get through the end of the school year with high school on the horizon. Eighth Grade is funny, sad and at times uncomfortable, exactly like poor Kayla, who really wants to come out of her shell but just can’t seem to get things right. Her single dad (Josh Hamilton) tries to help but, like many 13-year-old girls, Kayla doesn’t really want to know what he thinks.
With a simple narrative and no splashy film-making tricks, Burnham has crafted a remarkably poignant movie by relying on the authenticity of Fisher, Hamilton and the rest of the cast of relatively unknowns. The on-screen chemistry between them seems so real it’s almost as if Burnham were filming a reality show but with better (and less obvious) scripting. I thankfully don’t have a great idea of how 13-year-olds talk, but I have to think it’s exactly like these kids. And Eighth Grade stealthily emphasizes how different their world is from when folks like me were growing up. For example, some high schoolers, just four years older than Kayla, talk about how she’s from an entirely different generation than they are. To me, that was a much longer period of time—like the era of black-and-white vs. color television, not the age at which I got Snapchat.
“Eighth Grade” had my daughter reminiscing about that awkward age before high school when you’re trying to figure out who you are. She remembered going to a couple birthday parties where everyone was on their phones and nobody was talking to each other. The movie did an amazing job showing how social media plays such a big part of our kids’ lives today. Literally, every scene had kids on their phones or computers, sharing and portraying themselves as they wanted to be seen. The movie doesn’t preach about technology but rather shows it realistically. It reminded me of a reality show but with a captivating character, you’re really rooting for. It was a great movie to share with my daughter.
If you’ve seen “Eighth Grade” what are your thoughts about it?
Last weekend, my husband and I went to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. It’s the second movie about the Portokalos family, written by and starring Nia Vardalos.
It was the first time we were alone after enjoying two separate spring breaks. First, our daughter had driven from Salt Lake City to So Cal to spend a few days with us. I delighted and luxuriated in the little moments I spent with her. Whether it was getting pedicures, or lounging in the back yard, I just wanted to drink her in, sit next to her, be near her.
I was pleasantly surprised that she allowed me! She seemed to enjoy our company and wasn’t embarrassed to have us hang out with her and teammate Maryssa. Evenings, we went to the pool, sat with the current crop of swim parents and watched Piranha practice. Just like the good old days.
My daughter and her teammate during Spring break. Honestly, I’m not that short!
The following week, my son spent most of his break with his girlfriend. Oh well. We did spend his birthday weekend with him in one of the most beautiful cities ever, Santa Barbara. He’ll be graduating from UCSB soon, and we may not have the pleasure of visiting him there more than once or twice more. Our friends live there, so we’ll be back. I’m sure I’ll feel a hollowness in my heart my first visit to Santa Barbara knowing he’s moved on.
Back to the movie. This past weekend, once again kidless, we went to see the second installment of My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
My son’s birthday celebration with our good friends in Santa Barbara. Homemade Black Forest cake by Debbie.
We’d seen the first one as a family, bought the DVD, and it was a favorite with all of us. Michael Constantine, who plays Toula’s father Gus Portokalos reminds us of my husband’s Uncle Luciano, from Sicily. When we mentioned it to him he said, “I’m nothing like him!” I don’t think he took it as a compliment.
We laughed so hard at the first movie. The second one, not as much. It was a good movie, don’t get me wrong. It had the same quirky, awkward moments for Nia Vardalos, the writer and star. There were laugh out loud moments with all the characters in Toula’s family. I felt reunited with close friends that I’d missed for far too many years.
Santa Barbara Mission with my son and husband sharing a laugh.
It hit too close to home. The aging father, the teenage daughter ready to leave home. Toula, having to rediscover and find herself after years of taking care of others. Going out to dinner with her husband, swearing she wouldn’t talk about their child.
The hardest part for me, sitting through the movie, was the tears. How much I miss my kids smacked into the center of my brain. I kept dabbing at my eyes. My husband would look over at me. I wiped my eyes some more. Finally I gave into the tears. That’s all I’ll say. Go see it for yourself and let me know how you like it compared to the first movie.
Warning. If you’re new to an empty nest, bring tissue!
Sunset at Carpinteria State Beach during a picnic dinner.
That’s the first time I heard Ray Bradbury speak — and the first time I asked him to sign a book. My daughter, who graduated high school last week, was three months old, and my son, a junior in college, was three years old. That’s a lot of years to have this book sitting on my bookshelf.
Yes, I’m now reading this collection of essays and remembering how inspiring his talk was. Earlier that same day in May 1996, I recognized Ray Bradbury at Las Casuelas the Original, a small Mexican restaurant a few blocks away from the Riviera Hotel, where he was speaking later. I introduced myself to him, as he ate alone, and I said I couldn’t wait to hear his talk.
It was one of the first writer’s conferences I had attended, and I was kind of in a fog, having a newborn child and little sleep.
Ray Bradbury was amazing. He reminded me of a young child, finding wonder in the world. He had the ability to stay young at heart and observe the world as though seeing little things for the first time. I loved his story of how he wroteFahrenheit 451 in the basement of the UCLA library at a rental typewriter for 10 cents for a half hour. He said he was literally a “dime novelist.” It gave me courage and the belief that we can do anything — if you want it badly enough.
“Garbage in, garbage out,” he said. He advised us to turn off the TV. Don’t watch the news. He said they were selling soap and there was little or no good news and it would rot our minds. Instead, “Read the Bible, a poem and an essay every day.”
How I’d wish I’d listened more carefully and followed that advice 18 years ago. How different would my life be today? The good news is, it’s not too late to start. And I’m proud to say, I started down that path yesterday.
My all time favorite Ray Bradbury book is Fahrenheit 451. My son Robert loves this book, too. I took my son to meet Ray Bradbury during another local speaking engagement years later. Robert has a signed copy of Farenheit 451 that he treasures. Ray Bradbury was a very accessible and kind man, willing to share with all of us enjoying his gift and genius — and striving to be 1/100th the writer that he was.
“What do you love most in the world? The big and little things, I mean. A trolley car, a pair of tennis shoes? These, at one time when we were children, were invested with magic for us.” — Zen and the Art of Writing