Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Just a Monday/Tuesday in My World

What happens when publication day for the print issue falls right after a holiday weekend? Well, if you have my life, you get to write an editor's column (because my columnists both had unexpected and unavoidable delays and couldn't e-mail anything in) and a movie review, because the movie review guy didn't get to see a movie over the weekend.
So here's my editor's column.
My movie review will follow.
Have fun.
Print it out and line a bird cage or two. They might enjoy it.

Starting a new year off right
In less than two days (depending upon when you read this), we'll be saying goodbye to 2006 and hello to 2007.
It seems like only yesterday we were sitting around worried about the end of the world as the calendar rolled to 2000.
Seems silly now, how everyone put together Y2K packs and prepared for the worse case scenario as 2000 came in with a mixture of fear and apprehension.
I can hardly believe it's time for a new year. I don't feel another year older. But as I watch the days click off the calendar, it plainly true -- another year, filled with clutter and junk, is almost over, and while the New Year is ready to start, providing a clean canvas full of numerous opportunities and a variety of potential.
As I ponder life in 2007, I my mind is filled with a variety of questions -- What will I do different in 2007? How will I make a difference? What changes will I make?
I'll admit, I haven't made any resolutions. But I am pondering what I will do in 2007 that will make a difference in my life.
If anything, I'm still finding ways in which my trip to Brazil continues to impact me even though I've been home for almost two months.
It's made me want to focus less on the frantic lifestyle Americans take for granted and instead make do with less fluff and stuff.
It makes me want to focus on what is important-spending time with friends and family members.
That spirit of giving crosses over and makes me want to find ways to give back to my community, through service and non-profit ventures.
This past year, I've met numerous people who have done things to help others in need. The list is endless, but includes:
• Rebekah Walters and Madison Wilson, Irving elementary students who snipped off their long hair off for Locks of Love;
• Kim Bannasch and Shirley Eyraud who began a chapter of The Compassionate Friends of the Four States after experiencing the premature deaths of their children;
•Debbie Mayberry and others in Joplin who work to help orphans and abandoned children in Maceio, Brazil; and
• Teachers and administrators at Joplin High School, including Keith White, Vallie Cook and Jeannetta Moss, who work every day to help young men and women find ways to stay in school despite numerous obstacles.
Most recently I met Kerry Freeman. Freeman is the mother of Christina Freeman, a Joplin student killed in 2006 by a drunk driver.
Freeman, and her family, has turned their grief over Christina's untimely death into a call to action.
Since February, Kerry has spent at least eight evenings standing alongside the road providing hot drinks and food for the officers conducting DWI checkpoints in Joplin, Webb City and adjacent counties.
Kerry said her goal is to show the officers that someone does care about their efforts to stop people from causing alcohol related injuries or deaths.
People like these inspire me to do my best to stop complaining about my life, and instead increase my efforts to help others.
So here's to 2007, may it bring health and happiness and a chance to make a difference in other's lives.

Friday Flicks: A change from the typical holiday flick
Call it my quest to find something beyond the typical Hollywood flick.
Ever since a friend turned me onto documentaries, I've been searching for different movies to watch that are not mainstream releases.

I've even had to turn to an on-line source to find the DVD's, because the films are not typically found on the shelves of my neighborhood rental store.
Last week I had a chance to watch Born into Brothels a documentary following children who live within the red light district of Calcutta, India.
Photographer Zana Briski spent several years working and living with the children who call the brothels home.
Initially, Briski wanted to photograph the women living in the brothels, but found the children to be more accepting of her presence in their lives.
Using point and shoot cameras, Briski worked with a group of students, teaching them about photography before turning them lose within their neighborhoods to shoot pictures.
Briski, along with film director Ross Kauffman, later filmed the children at work and play, documenting their lives.
The effort later won numerous awards, including a well-deserved Academy Award for feature film documentaries during the 77th Awards ceremony.
In addition to the children's photographs, which make up the core of the film, the documentary also highlights Briski's struggle to help her students move beyond the limits placed upon them by India society.
It shows the efforts she goes through to help the children become enrolled in boarding school - move which would not only provide them with a strong education but remove them from the negative influences found within the brothels.
For some of the girls, education will be the only thing, which keeps them from joining "the line" - prostitutes who line the streets of the red light district waiting for work.
Briski finds that many of the schools will not accept the children because their parents are involved in illegal activities.
The film does more than simply show the children's lives; it pulls the viewer into the world found hidden within Calcutta.
It leaves you wanting to help the children succeed, cheering when they do and crying when things just don't go well.
You see how the actions of adults may impact a child's life for years to come, when one parent decides their child cannot attend school-even after the lengths Briski and others went to ensure his admittance.
The film also highlights the beginning of Briski's non-profit organization, Kids With Cameras, which strives to help children in third world locations through photography lessons and more.
While the movie does not have a Hollywood ending, it does leave viewers with hope. One of the DVD extras provides an update on where the children are, three years later.
Additional updates, through November 2006, can be found on-line at www.kids-with-cameras.org.
The movie may not be "pretty" and it does contain some gritty language (from adults no less) and images. Watching it was well worth the time, energy and effort it took to find the DVD. In the end, it's a movie that sticks with you, almost hauntingly.

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