Financial Fast coincides with plans to clean, count blessings

OK. So now, Michelle Singletary is psychic.

Well, that’s not true. But it felt that way last night when I began reading Chapter 6 of the 21-Day Financial Fast, which coincides with DAY 6 of the fast the Washington Post columnist is leading people on across the country.

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 12.09.35 PMI had had a great DAY 5, and was up late. So I began reading Chapter 6 early.

I need to read Chapter 6 every day – even when this fast ends. Its title: You Can’t Buy Contentment. Its purpose: Reminding us to be content with and thankful for what we have.

I was already on that road. As I searched my closets for something to wear to a gala, I stopped for a minute and saw all the stuff I had. And I felt overwhelming guilt that I had not been thankful enough for what’s already in my house.

The gala went great, and as I sat having a cup of coffee, I was happy. But it didn’t last long because I began whining in my head about what I couldn’t do Saturday.

Saturdays are my favorite day.  Saturdays are the day that, no matter what, I get to choose what I’m doing. There is no activity already on the calendar, no work, no meetings, no plans.

I usually have a great lunch somewhere outside my house, alone or with friends – and I go to the movies. My daughter and I used to go to the movies on Friday nights. We’d see movies as soon as they premiered. When she grew up, I continued to do that like it would kill me to hear conversations Saturday about a  movie I hadn’t seen. And I began preferring to go alone most times  (I’m one of those people who cannot stand conversations in theaters. I think there should be fines).

hr_Jack_Ryan-_Shadow_Recruit_14I had already begun to whine in my head about not being able to see the new Jack Ryan movie. And that lemon artichoke tilapia that I love at a nearby restaurant? It was calling me!

But, I told myself, the movie will be playing for at least a month and will show up on the DVR. And the restaurant will still be open in February. (Thank you, God, for giving me a moment of clarity about why I’m doing this fast in the first place). Continue Reading

I’ll Be There for “Die Hard 10!”

I’ve said it before – and it doesn’t matter who agrees: Bruce Willis knows what he’s doing. Unlike actors who could care less what we fans want (Zac Efron leaving high school, Denzel Washington becoming a crooked cop, Willis knows that no matter what he does, his career began with “Die Hard.” No, not “Moonlighting” (although what he did was take David Allison out of Maddie’s arms and into a New York precinct.

Willis has range. Some of his best roles came in films with great character and unusual names – 2003’s “Tears of the Sun” (when he was a special-ops commander rescuing a doctor and 70 unexpected refugees from a Nigerian jungle) and the brilliant “16 Blocks” (when he was a veteran cop escorting witness Mos Def to from a police precinct to a courthouse while bad guys tried to kill them in every block).

But no Willis character has endeared him to the public as much as John McClane, the gun-toting, fun-loving, whining hero who saves the world once a year.

So the moment I heard the release date for “Die Hard 5,” I marked my calendar. Yes, I’m among those awaiting “Die Hard 5” the way some kids are waiting for the next “Twilight” movie. I can’t get enough of John McClane – and I, for one, am thrilled that Wills, who could eschew action films, hasn’t forgotten his roots, appreciates action and has at least four shoot-em-ups coming down the pike. His fans appreciate it. No, we really appreciate it.

So for those actors who don’t get it, don’t care and think they’re too good to do popular films, they should learn a lesson from Liam Neeson, whose 2008 “Taken” was such an unexpected blockbuster that Liam Neeson gave us action fans new lexicon “I have a very particular set of skills.”

They should learn a lesson from Robert Downey Jr., perhaps America’s greatest actor under 50. (Morgan Freeman and Robert Duvall still rule the over 50 set.)  Downey donned an “Iron Man” suit, and as I sat in the theater on opening day, I knew it would be huge, possibly the biggest film of the year, perhaps the decade. Continue Reading

New “Muppet Movie” for children of all ages; grouches need not attend

Folks – you know, those people who determine pop culture – will say that the best moment of “The Muppets” is when Academy Award-winning actor Chris Cooper breaks out into rap, sort of like that moment when Tom Cruise, playing nasty studio exec Les Grossman, begins rapping in “Tropic Thunder.”

But there were two better and more important moments for me when I saw it Saturday evening in a theatre full of parents and kids – and one grumpy couple.

One, near the movie’s end, was when Kermit sat in a sliver of moon and began singing my favorite song . . .

“Why are there so many songs about rainbows
and what’s on the other side? . . .

I couldn’t believe the lump that rose in my throat as I listened to a song that was more than three decades old.

“Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
and rainbows have nothing to hide.”

I had gone to see the movie for the same reason that I had dragged my daughter to “Aladdin” and “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Lion King” and “Finding Nemo” – because I love fantasy and magic and the color of rainbows – even if she just tolerated them.

“So we’ve been told and some choose to believe it.
I know they’re wrong, wait and see.”

I wanted to connect her with the beauty of escape and to feel what I did as I’ve gone to the movies for so long: Film can take you anywhere you want to be and some places you didn’t even know you wanted to do.

“Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.”

The great Paul Williams and Kenny Asher co-wrote the “The Rainbow Connection” for the first “Muppet Movie.” It was nominated for an Academy Award in 1979 for Best Song. Williams later spoke with great reverence about the song, which opened and closed the film:

“It’s one of two favorite songs I’ve written in my life, and oddly, they’re both from The Muppet Movie. (The other is “I’m Going to Go Back There Someday.”) When we started working on the film, Kenny and I and Jim (Henson) and Jerry Juhl (the late Muppets head writer) all agreed that we had to establish Kermit’s soul from the very beginning. And to do that, he has to ponder some big questions. Kenny and I began to write this song — the song addresses that inner voice that tells Kermit he can try to do these big things. Then Jerry Juhl did this great thing in the script at the end, when the stage explodes and the end of the rainbow appears — the actual “rainbow connection.” That’s the proof of the whole Muppet philosophy.” Continue Reading