"Reel Reviews: Greenbook: Academy Award winner lacks character development" by: Jessica Shepard

   On one hand, the “Greenbook” gives a fairly decent cinematic glance at life in early 1960s America.
   On the other, it falls short in doing more to flesh out its main characters – specifically Dr. Don Shirley.
   The movie won Academy Awards for “Best Picture,” “Best Original Screenplay,” and “Best Supporting Actor” for Mahershala Ali and is directed by Peter Farrelly.
   Set in 1962, the film is inspired by the true story of a tour of the Deep South by Jamaican–American classical and jazz pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and Italian-American bouncer Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) who served as Shirley’s driver and bodyguard.
   The film was written by Farrelly, Brian Hayes Currie and Vallelonga’s son, Nick Vallelonga, based on interviews with his father and Shirley, as well as letters his father wrote to his mother. 


"How’s that cold, wet, soggy thing working out?" by: Mike Reddell

   As I rise early each morning - involuntarily because of my dogs and not the long-ago drive to pound the pavement – I look for signs of a clear day.
   We had one of those Sunday, but MaLinda decided we must clean out a storeroom that was perfectly designed to be forgotten and left alone on one end of the house.
   A nearly cloudless day with early spring temperatures - something to give thanks for since they don’t come around that often.
   Besides, it’s stock show weather. 
   And truly I’ve found in my other stops in my newspaper career that inclement weather and stock shows go together. 
   The one exception was up in Fairfield, where their stock show is in June.
   So, that’s an argument for having stock shows in cloudy, wet weather – and temperatures mostly in the 60s, not the mid-90s.
   That Fairfield show was an uncomfortably warm event – more so for the animals than me.


"Finding weird food combos online, enticing or disgusting?" by: Jessica Shepard

   So, I was browsing Facebook the other day looking for inspiration on my next column when Buzzfeed shared a list of 13 “interesting food combos.”
   But, I didn’t stop there, Buzzfeed also pointed me towards a list of 18 other interesting food combos.
   It’s sort of like going down the rabbit hole when you’re just clicking links online.
   Somehow I ended up in “pregnancy craving” territory and after being thoroughly nauseated, I closed out my browser window.
   Naturally, my interest was initially piqued – mostly because I know of some strange and unusual combinations myself and because it’s always funny to see what other weirdos eat.
   All I can say after reading that list is that I appreciate my own bizarre palette and definitely won’t be trying anything new soon.
   I mean, I did find a few of my own preferences that made the list like peanut butter on waffles, potato chips in sandwiches, and cream cheese with pepper jelly.


"In a wall of worry, fear can make you money" by: John Sample

   Another week and more gains. The Standard & Poor’s 500 stock-index has climbed back to the 2800 level. 
   It was not that long ago that we worried the same index would drop below 2640. 
   It did, and contrary to many predictions, the world did not end. It is only at such times that I am grateful to being older and approaching another birthday, which I usually find very annoying. 
   See what politics can do for you, just when you thought it was totally appalling from both sides of the aisle.
   I have often mentioned my concern that the market is highly valued and a pullback seems on the horizon. 
   This week we had news that the housing market continues to show signs of slowing substantially. How that will impact the economy? Housing drives so many consumer purchases and touches numerous segments of the retail trade from Home Depot to Wayfair. 


Women may need to make extra financial moves

   On March 8, International Women’s Day is observed, with events celebrating women’s social, political and cultural progress. Yet, women still face serious economic challenges. 
   How will you cope with them?
   Many factors put more economic pressure on women, but two stand out. 
   First, women still face a gender pay gap, earning about 80% of what their male counterparts receive, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. 
   Second, women typically take far more time out of the workforce, first to care for children and later to care for elderly parents. 
   This lost time can result in lost wages, lower Social Security benefits and fewer contributions to retirement plans.
   So, to help counter these forces, you need to take action. 
   Try to put as much as you can afford into your 401(k) or similar retirement plan, and boost your contributions whenever you get a raise. 


"Life is all about successes, failures; we can walk with Jesus every step" by: Betsy Monico

   The guests who frequent our house these days will laugh at this statement, might fall in the floor, or flat out call me a liar! 
   I was once an obsessive housekeeper. When we lived in Dallas, Thursday meant cleaning day.  
   Our house looked absolutely precious and spotless at all times!  Now, the closets were stuffed full and cabinets were never in excellent order, but everything looked fabulous! 
   I must confess though, my obsession caused my first motherhood fail. 
   My oldest rolled out of a chair when she was only a month old; when I ran to the back of the house to get my “Swifter” mop. Oh, I cried and cried! I questioned my ability to parent; however, parenting was not the real issue. 
   The real problem stemmed from my tidy house obsession.
When we moved to the country, I miraculously kept up the pace! 
   It took the dust a year or so to settle down, although my husband quickly planted grass seed.  


"Strive to be like Solomon, who asked God for wisdom" by: Caleb Gibson

   Will Smith’s new portrayal of the genie in the new movie Aladdin is something to definitely tilt your head at. 
   Can Will Smith be able to live up to the role that Robin Williams played, I don’t think so, but it will be interesting to see. 
   Now this idea of a genie, granting three wishes is known in our culture, but did you know that this is similar to what happened in the story of Solomon. 
   The Bible says that God appeared to Solomon in a dream and said, “Ask what I shall give you.” (2 Chronicles 1:7). 
   Solomon replied, “Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people, for who can rule this great people of Yours?” (2 Chronicles 1:11). 
   Here Solomon could have asked for anything he wanted gold, honor, or a new chariot. Instead he asked for wisdom and knowledge.
I like how the Jubilee Bible recounts this story; it says that Solomon asked for a, “hearing heart” (1 Kings 3:9). 


"Reel Reviews: How to Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World ends trilogy on high note" by: Jessica Shepard

   So, I’m always down for a good children’s movie and after reading several favorable reviews from friends on Facebook, I headed out to see “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.”
   The Hidden World is loosely based on the book series of the same name by Cressida Cowell, produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Universal Pictures. 
   It is the sequel to How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014) and the final installment in the How to Train Your Dragon film trilogy. 
   The film is written and directed by Dean DeBlois, the film stars the voices of Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Cate Blanchett, Craig Ferguson, Gerard Butler, and F. Murray Abraham.


"Speaking up on proposed media guidelines" by: Mike Reddell

   I spoke up against Mayor Mark Bricker’s proposed code of conduct last week at city council’s workshop.
   I have rarely addressed council on an issue in my long career, despite many misgivings of what I was hearing from different councils.
   This time, it was different.
   I found the mayor’s code of conduct unnecessary – a 19-page lecture on how council should comport itself coming from a mayor who recently has bounced from one controversy to another.
   And that was before I read the code’s section on dealing with the media.
   It also is a document that leaned hard on the council members’ conduct.
   And, overall, the code was a measure of putting the mayor before the council.
   City Attorney Anne Marie Odefy explained the mayor’s inclusion under the code’s recommended behavior “was understood,” if not articulated.
   Council members had different takes than I did.


"March needs a holiday to bridge the gap until Easter" by: Jessica Shepard

   With President’s Day over, there’s almost nothing standing between us and Easter.
   By that I mean that there aren’t any more major holidays to celebrate or observe.
   Well, unless you count Spring Break, but since I’m no longer a college student, it doesn’t do much for me anymore. 
   That means we’ll have over a month’s worth of work without any holidays.
   To be completely honest, I think that sucks and we should make an official holiday in March.
   And before someone suggests St. Patrick’s Day, that’s not a nationally recognized holiday that gets you off work.
   I need at least one Monday off to make it until Good Friday and Easter.
   After taking full advantage of my off day, I’m often in a better mood and have more energy to get things done.
   With events piling on with each passing day, any little break is greatly appreciated.


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