Reel Experiences with Robert Humanick: Transformers 4: Giving sequels, robots, movies, and numbers a bad name |Sep 26, 2014

Whatever your opinion is on him, it’s probably not news to you that Michael Bay is someone who movie fans tend to have opinions about. A populist creator of excess that has managed to land two films in the Criterion Collection series, his movies make money no matter how much people hate them.

Reel Experiences with Robert Humanick: Less is more: wartime documentary overplays its hand |Sep 24, 2014

In 2008, CNN correspondent Mike Boettcher and his son Carlos were based with U.S. forces in Afghanistan, video cameras in hand, capturing award-winning footage of the ongoing operation. Despite some extraordinary subjects and harrowing circumstances, the documentary compiled from some of this footage, “The Hornet’s Nest,” is thoroughly ordinary, forgoing the intensity of verite cinema for something closer to propaganda, save for how dramatically inert it is.

Mind Your Body: Quieting your mind leads to increased awareness |Sep 24, 2014

My primary teacher of yoga therapy used to say, “You can’t heal what you can’t feel.” This certainly offers a hint that awareness is an important key to our well-being.

Small Beginnings: Some helpful tips for flying the friendly skies |Sep 22, 2014

You’ll never guess where I am right now. I’m cruising along in the atmosphere at approximately thirty two thousand feet above the earth’s surface. Yes, I’m returning home from an adventure with my family and as I sit here in my seat on the plane, I am considering a number of things that may in fact make the experience of flying just a bit more pleasant.

Welcome to my World: A look at four-leaf clovers |Sep 22, 2014

“I’m looking over a four-leaf clover

Pickin’ in Pa: Rewarding the customer |Sep 19, 2014

When was the last time you were “rewarded” just for being a customer? I’ll admit it has been a long time since I felt special for shopping at a certain place. But, it wasn’t so long ago that merchants “rewarded” their customers with all kinds of gifts just for shopping in their store!

A Slice of Life: Deep Fried Fare… |Sep 16, 2014

Resistance is simply futile. Despite the fact that the nutritional benefits of anything which is deep-fried is essentially zilch, the scent of funnel cake batter hitting hot oil is oftentimes too great a temptation to resist.

Up to Speed with David Barr: Keselowski starts Chase strong |Sep 16, 2014

Hello readers, Brad Keselowski dominated last week at Richmond to prove that he would be someone to watch in the Chase. In case anyone still doubted Keselowski as a serious title contender, Keselowski silenced his critics on Sunday.

Reel experiences with Robert Humanick: Hear him roar: ‘Godzilla’ ‘14 raises the bar on Hollywood monsters |Sep 15, 2014

The heck with beating around the bush: “Godzilla” was the best mainstream American release of the summer, with little serious competition. Those who complained that it didn’t have enough monster action weren’t by and large simply exhibiting impatience with the rare “popcorn” movie that actually cares about more than just giant things crashing into each other – they were clearly also not familiar with the dozens of Godzilla movies made in the last 60 years, many of which focus more on the humans than the monsters and some which barely include the big fella at all.

Small Beginnings: Some insight and history on the concept of vacations |Sep 15, 2014

Did you know that according to a recent survey, forty-seven percent of Americans took at least one vacation in the past twelve months? That is nearly half the country and quite an intriguing statistic.

Ask Esther: Rent being raised; What do I do? |Sep 15, 2014

“Dear Esther, I graduated from college a few years ago and have a job I love. I’ve been renting a townhome and need to renew my lease. In so doing, I was told my rent is going to go up $100 per month.

Welcome to my world: Mom and the peacocks |Sep 15, 2014

Reprint: First Rights to Pennsylvania Magazine; local Kutztown Historical Newsletter

From Arthur’s Policy Desk: President Obama: It’s in our national interest to return to Iraq |Sep 12, 2014

One of the first lessons in studying policy making is that a single event can change everything. Vice President Chaney and others in the Bush Administration wanted regime change in Iraq before they came to power but did not have the political means (opportunity) to implement that policy.

A Look Back in History: Early Americana weathervane was one of a kind |Sep 12, 2014

A couple weeks back, I was pleased to write about the rare Americana weathervane on the Levan barn in the Oley Valley. But ironically, Clarence Shirk had a local farm auction with an identical weathervane for sale at an Emmaus farm auction Sept.

Thrivent Financial Column: September is Life Insurance Awareness Month, Think about your needs, protect your family |Sep 12, 2014

Think you don’t need life insurance? Think again!

Up to Speed with David Barr: Who will make it to the final four? |Sep 9, 2014

Hello readers, Brad Keselowski took most of the drama out of Richmond, leading all but 17 of the 400 laps in route to an easy win. With the win, Keselowski picked up his series-high fourth win of the season and will enter the Chase as the top seed.

WTIM: Music Around Town: Sept. 10 edition |Sep 9, 2014

What’s going on musically in the Berks-Mont Newspapers coverage area? A lot, and we want to help keep everyone in the know.

Reel Experiences with Robert Humanick: Beauty and horror co-exist in violent modern western ‘The Rover’ |Sep 9, 2014

“The Rover” is so bleak an experience that many viewers will understandably be forced to turn away. An opening title card informs us that the events depicted begin 10 years after a global economic collapse, and the Australian setting brings to mind the similarly desolate landscapes of the “Mad Max” films.

A dessert to savor summer |Sep 9, 2014

Fall needs to stop encroaching on Summer. Lately I’ve been thinking of Dylan Thomas’ poem, “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” and, specifically, it’s celebrated line, “Rage against the dying of the light.

Small Beginnings: the rural commuter’s worst nightmare |Sep 8, 2014

Come with me folks, as we travel down the scenic back roads of rural Berks County. As we journey along the winding way, passing bucolic farms and quaint homesteads, spying furry little woodland creatures and yielding to the occasional pedestrian or cyclist, every now and then our peaceful serene sojourn is interrupted by one of the most terrifying sights known to man.

Welcome to my World: The Eagle Point School |Sep 8, 2014

Reprint: 1986 Pennsylvania; 1993 in Kutztown Historical Society newsletter; 2012 in Berks County TV web site.

From the Item editor: Enjoying my second Taste of Hamburg-er Festival |Sep 8, 2014

Last year it was all about surviving. This year it was all about enjoying. With my second Taste of Hamburg-er Festival under my belt, I can say that I certainly see why people get so excited about it.

Reel Experiences with Robert Humanick: ‘Venus in Fur’ offers sexual politics worth submitting to |Sep 3, 2014

“Venus in Fur” is a movie that revels in deception, a conceit that extends from the filmmaker to the subject matter to the audience, and back again. Suggesting the sexual role-playing equivalent of a Russian nesting doll, the film was adapted from the eponymous stage play by David Ives, which was itself inspired by the controversial Austrian novel “Venus in Furs” – and that’s only the start of the mysterious intrigue at play.

Who makes it in? |Sep 3, 2014

Hello Readers, It all comes down to this. One 400-lap race at tiny Richmond International Raceway to determine the final few drivers that will make up the 16-driver field for the new format for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Welcome to my World: Remembering visiting family and friends |Sep 1, 2014

Reprint: Published locally 2009 in Lifestyles over 50 and Berks County TV web site 2011; 2014 Country Magazine

From the Item editor: Taking part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge |Sep 1, 2014

We’ve seen it just about everywhere. On the various social media sites and on television when it comes to celebrities. We’ve seen the positive reactions and of course the negative reactions.

Small Beginnings: Feeling grateful for our beautiful country |Sep 1, 2014

We are a little behind the vacation curve as we are just gearing up for our getaway. Most folks have already gone to the beach or done a theme park or two and they have the suitcases all nicely stashed away and the hotel soap is already melted down the drain.

Through My Kitchen Window: Avoid the school lunch slump |Sep 1, 2014

Are you packing multiple lunches, or need a fast lunch for your preschooler or homeschooler? Here are a few quick and easy lunch ideas to keep you out of the school lunch slump.

A Look Back in History: Colonial weathervanes of Oley Valley |Sep 1, 2014

When the early Pennsylvania Germans purchased their farming tracts from William Penn, these proud immigrants built agrarian farmsteads that rivaled their European counterparts, which naturally caused these Americans to place artistic weathervanes atop fashionable farm homes and gigantic Swiss bank barns, once the prerogative of European nobility.

Letter from AARP: ‘Maintain good health as you age’ |Aug 30, 2014

Preventative care is the most important thing someone can do to maintain good health as they age. As an AARP volunteer and member, I have had the privilege of being educated on how my insurance can help me prevent illness and avoid being sick.

WTIM: Music Around Town: Sept. 3 edition |Aug 28, 2014

What’s going on musically in the Berks-Mont Newspapers coverage area? A lot, and we want to help keep everyone in the know.

From the Hamburg editor: How to contact the Item and submit |Aug 25, 2014

As a community newspaper, we receive many submissions from our readers. It is something that I myself look forward to as it’s a way to get to know those in the community better and also see what they have been up to.

Welcome to my World: Anita, the Riveter |Aug 25, 2014

Reprint (2012 Berks County TV web site)

Reel Experiences with Robert Humanick: Look-alikes Eisenburg and Simon take to the screen in ‘The Double’ |Aug 25, 2014

Richard Ayoade’s film noir-infused take on Dostoyevsky’s “The Double” is successful in enough of its individual parts that it proves almost doubly disappointing in its missteps, as if a gentle, sublime spell had been abruptly broken.

Slice of Life: Mixing Up A Pie That’s Key For Summer |Aug 24, 2014

Retailers’ use of interesting descriptions to depict ordinary things has always intrigued me. For instance, the color green is simply not called “green” it’s often called “hunter” or “kiwi” or “moss.

On The Record with Carol: The Wolf’s at the Door |Aug 22, 2014

Monday, Aug. 19, President Barack Obama urged the Iraqis to unite because ‘the wolf’s at the door’ and the U.S. air strikes can only accomplish so much, http://www.ndtv.com.

A Look Back in History: American Oral History Recalled by Natives at Salem Church Picnic |Aug 22, 2014

Sunday, August 3rd, Salem UCC Church of Spangsville, Oley Township, held its annual church picnic among the picturesque grove of trees in historic Earl Township. Frequently known as “Wood Choppertown,” among the Colonial natives of Oley Township, who recalled descendants supplying the Oley Furnace and Oley Forge with charcoal to produce iron manufactured goods to meet the needs of the United States Republic during Colonial times.

Letter to the Editor: Support of the Willow Street Project |Aug 22, 2014

Dear Editor, I was encouraged to write this letter in support of the Willow Street development project after reading Nancy Unger’s letter that appeared in the Patriot two weeks ago.

From Arthur’s Policy Desk: Ferguson, MO: The Mixture of Race, Crime, Police Use of Force and the Utility of Riots |Aug 22, 2014

On August 9th, Michael Brown was killed by Darren Wilson, a white police officer. As soon as the killing was made public, every politician, platitude, accusation, argument, justification, rationalization and defense that exists in these types of situations was heard on T.

Small Beginnings: Get your ice bucket ready for a very worthy cause |Aug 19, 2014

The world is not without worthwhile opportunities to be charitable is it? Every day we see commercials and receive solicitations in our mail box for various noble causes, all seeking donations to promote their cause or fund a cure.

Welcome to my World: My son, a tinker-of-all-trades |Aug 18, 2014

My son, Kevin, the only boy in a family of four children, was a tinker-of-all-trades. When he was around 11 years old, I was a divorced Mom living in a modular home on my brother’s land. I also worked as a bookkeeper for my brother’s sanitation business.

Up to Speed with David Barr: Restart of Gordon’s life part 2 |Aug 18, 2014

Hello readers, Under the threat of cloudy skies and rain, Jeff Gordon proved that the Drive for Five is still alive and well with a convincing win at Michigan. Gordon started on the pole and led the second-most laps on the day, but he had to fend off the likes of Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Paul Menard, and teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Reel Experiences with Robert Humanick: Under-rated superhero sequel swings onto home video |Aug 18, 2014

Like any number of recent big-budget movies – particularly those of the superhero/sequel variety – “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” bites off more than it can properly chew, with too many underdeveloped antagonists and frequently on-the-nose dialogue that makes the mistake of speaking directly to the themes at play.

The Historian by Robert Wood: Inns and Taverns of Swamp, New Hanover, part 3 |Aug 16, 2014

For three days in September of 1777 the American army, about 8,000 strong, was camped in New Hanover principally in the long valley lying between Fagleysville Hill and Rosenberry Road but also extending south to Sanatoga and east to Schwenksville.

Mind Your Body: Yoga for Emotional Calmness |Aug 15, 2014

Who doesn’t want more peace in their lives? Now that most of us are plugged in most of the time, we are inundated with information—personal, community-wide, national, and international. There is too much to process and too little time in which to do it.

Reel Experiences with Robert Humanick: Thriller ‘Blue Ruin’ is now out on DVD and Blu-Ray |Aug 12, 2014

“Blue Ruin” is a prismatically efficient thriller, as daring for its unforgiving violence as its refusal to cater to audience expectations. Take an early sequence, for example (one that will remind many of the similarly tightly-wound “No Country for Old Men”): having suffered a serious injury, the main character, Dwight (Macon Blair), stops at a pharmacy for the tools needed to perform a makeshift surgery -- something he proves entirely unqualified for.

Letter to The Editor: Bicentennial celebration should include an evaluation of well being of our ‘Most Agreeable Town’ |Aug 11, 2014

Dear Editor, As we prepare for the Borough of Kutztown’s bicentennial celebration, we all look forward to celebrating the hard work and commitment of the many men and women who built our town and who nurtured the growth of a self-sufficient family-centered rural community.

Letter to the Editor: Silk Mill Project - Another Point Of View |Aug 11, 2014

Dear Editor, I am very much in favor of the Silk Project that is being proposed for Willow Street in Kutztown.

Perfect Pear Pie Recipe |Aug 11, 2014

Despite her flagrant act of trespassing, I greatly admire Goldilocks. After all, being particular and finding something that is unequivocally “just right” takes perseverance. I searched for two years to find

Reel Experiences with Robert Humanick: ‘Locke’: Driving through life’s decisions |Aug 11, 2014

Taking place almost exclusively within the confines of a moving vehicle, “Locke” is the kind of film that one might think was adapted for the screen after a successful stage run. To learn that such was not the case -- that the film’s pressure-cooker style was conceived deliberately with cinematic purposes in mind -- makes it an even more impressive accomplishment.