The Toxic Business of Conception and Fertility–and How to Alleviate Birth Defect Risk

The Toxic Business of Conception and Fertility–and How to Alleviate Birth Defect Risk

When I was pregnant with my fourth child, I was told I had been exposed to a virus that would undoubtedly cause birth defects in my unborn fetus. I was encouraged to abort her. After meditating and praying about the advice my physician had given me, I decided to take my chances and love and protect my baby, no matter what her mental and physical handicaps were to be. To everyone’s surprise, she came out with perfect health on all levels. My doctor shrugged and said I had obviously been lucky. However, I knew that the answer went beyond luck. I knew that my focus on keeping everything else in my environment and life pure was likely what tipped the scale in her favor. (more…)

‘Eighth Grade’ plumbs the problem solving process

‘Eighth Grade’ plumbs the problem solving process

“Eighth Grade” (2018). Cast: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson, Jake Ryan, Daniel Zolghadri, Fred Hechinger, Imani Lewis, Luke Prael, Catherine Oliviere, Nora Mullins, Missy Yager, Greg Crowe, Natalie Carter. Director: Bo Burnham. Screenplay: Bo Burnham. Web site. Trailer.

Try to think of a time in your life when you felt like you were perpetually confused. For some of us, that might come at almost any age. But, for those lacking the benefit of life experience, it most likely occurred at a time when we were still finding our way in the world – not when we were so young that we didn’t consciously think about such things but at a slightly later stage in our development when we earnestly began trying to understand our place in the realm of existence. If most of us were to apply that standard, that incessantly awkward, unceasingly confounding time probably came in our early teens, a time when we were no longer children but not quite adults, a time aptly depicted in writer-director Bo Burnham’s debut feature, the delightful and edgy new comedy-drama, “Eighth Grade.” (more…)

Mean Girls: Female Aggression Takes on New Forms in Adulthood

Mean Girls: Female Aggression Takes on New Forms in Adulthood

This week I had the opportunity to see Mean Girls the Musical in New York City. Because I love anything Tina Fey does, I fully expected to like it. I was wrong; I LOVED it. It contained the themes from her blockbuster movie of the same name: human sexuality, bullying, hierarchical structures of the animal kingdom, and the possibility that people can change. The musical was updated with current political one-liners as well as the newest female relational aggression tool: cyber bullying. I was elated when I heard the myriad of adolescent girls and their mothers sitting in the audience clap and cheer to the messages the show contained. It was a feel-good evening filled with song, dance, and inspiration. (more…)

‘Thoreau’ explores the life examined

‘Thoreau’ explores the life examined

“Henry David Thoreau: Surveyor of the Soul.” Director: Huey (a.k.a. James Coleman). Screenplay: Huey (a.k.a. James Coleman). Web site. Trailer.

Exploring the nature of our life is one of the noblest pursuits in which we can engage, and writer-philosopher Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was undeniably one of the best seekers ever to have undertaken this endeavor. As a result of his experiences, he wrote a variety of works covering a range of subjects. But, while the name is a familiar one, many of us are unable to describe his work or ideas with specificity. Thankfully, that shortfall has now been addressed in great detail in the excellent new documentary, “Henry David Thoreau: Surveyor of the Soul,” available for viewing on DVD and at special public screenings. (more…)

‘Leave No Trace’ asks us to understand the nature of our creations

‘Leave No Trace’ asks us to understand the nature of our creations

“Leave No Trace” (2018). Cast: Ben Foster, Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, Dale Dickey, Jeff Kober, Dana Millican, Derek Drescher, Isaiah Stone, David M. Pittman, Mike Prosser, Spencer S. Henley, Art Hickman, Susan Chernak McElroy. Director: Debra Granik. Screenplay: Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini. Book: Peter Rock, My Abandonment. Web site. Trailer.

Given the state of the world today, many of us have probably contemplated the notion of getting away from the stress of daily life, living off the grid to achieve a simpler existence. Eschewing a routine fraught with economic, social and even interpersonal tensions in favor of a more idyllic existence no doubt holds much appeal to those who feel overwhelmed by the spiraling demands of living in an increasingly frustrating world. Those who have a particularly difficult time coping with such conditions may find the prospect especially attractive. But is this really the answer? Or are other arrangements more suitable? And are we going about exercises like this with a clear mind and for the right reasons? Those are the issues faced by a father and daughter seeking to find answers for themselves in director Debra Granik’s emotionally powerful new drama, “Leave No Trace.” (more…)

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