Friday, September 30, 2011
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
When my uncles came home from WW2 and Korea, they did not talk about it. This is common for returning soldiers, sailors and airmen. The Book that I just finished explains why. I just finished Laura Hillenbrand's book, "Unbroken (A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption)". This excellently told story answered many questions that I have carried around since school days. I always wondered why some veterans held such deep deep hatred for the Japanese or their products. Yes, I had seen all the movies and knew my history, but I needed the rest of the story. Here it is.
The Book centers on the life of Louis Zamperini, a guy from California who was destined to be the first track star to run a "four minute mile". He was on the verge in 1941 (it was broke in 1954!).
This story of a troubled youth who became an Olympic runner, a WWII bombardier, a POW and much more. The story is such that after I had been into the book a few days, I had to read the liner notes to assure that this is true and not a novel.
Ms. Hillenbrand also wrote, "SEABISCUIT". She can tell a story as good as anyone.
I would love to discuss this book, but I don't want to be a Spoiler. Louis Zamperini is someone that does not endear himself, then suddenly you are rooting for him, then you are disappointed in him, and then..............
This is a great story about a good guy who laid it on the line.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
The title, "Moneyball" sounds like an description of the current state of sports in general. Instead it is the new movie starring Brad Pitt that tells the story of the 2002 season of the Oakland Athletics baseball team. This true story is of how a small market low paying team was able to compete with the likes of the Yankees who had the money to buy any player they chose. It is amazing and well done. When actors perform so that you forget it is not actually happening, you are watching a great story unfold. You don't have to be a baseball fan to like this flick. It has very good dialogue and reminds you of "The Social Network".
The director added in some small scenes of family, alone moments, and other little touches that made it real to me. Preparing a bowl of ice cream for his daughter, the Brad Pitt character, Billy, asks, "Big spoon or little spoon?" A simple moment of Reality.
It is several stories: Tradition versus New Ideas; Little Guy versus Big Machine; Courage of conviction versus popular thought. The stuff dreams are made of.
When a sports movie can make the cover of "Sports Illustrated", You've got something!
I give it ***1/2 stars. 2011 Movie #46
Thursday, September 22, 2011
I am not very good at texting!
Carol and I don't text each other a lot, but when we do, we make it work. Take yesterday. I got word that I had to take a trip Friday. So I texted the news to her knowing that she was in a meeting. It said, "I have to go to the OKC office Friday." (I don't have the abrevs. down yet!)
Later in the day I went home and saw that Carol had started decorating for the Fall so I texted,
"You have really been busy today. The house is looking good." About an hour later she had not returned the text, so I checked the phone. To my surprise I realized that I sent the message to my friend, David, instead. Yikes. I quickly texted him that I made a mistake and didn't know if he had been busy or not!
Then I re-texted my message to Carol. She was glad I noticed!
When she got home, I told her my story. She laughed.
As we turned off the lights to go to bed, I asked why she didn't respond to my text about going to OKC. She said, "I didn't get any text like that."
OOPS! Sorry David. You probably didn't need to know that either!
Monday, September 19, 2011
Saturday, September 17, 2011
If you are old enough, you can remember the "Man with No Name" movies starring Clint Eastwood like "Hang'em High". The Man would ride into town and no one new who he was or where he came from, but soon you knew not to mess with him. Today we revisited that idea with an updated movie, "Drive". Ryan Gosling stars as "Driver", a guy who works as a Hollywood stunt driver and also a driver of getaway cars in Holdups. A friend gets in trouble with the Mob and he gets involved.
If you went to see, "Crazy Stupid Love", you know him as a funny romantic comedy character. Not this time.
This is an R for a reason. There is some Godfather/Kill Bill violence. There are the Mob F-bombs. (Not from Driver. he doesn't talk much.) This movie has very believable chase scenes and very believable everything! I liked it a LOT!
Wardrobe Note: In the movie "Driver" wears a tacky jacket that gets progressively dirtier and bloodier as the story unfolds.
I give this **** stars out of five.
2011 Movie #45
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
We were in a meeting at a school a couple of weeks ago and the conversation became "casual" and the old Superintendent (about my age) says, "You know guys, when I was young an old friend said to me: "Bob, There will come a day when a good SH*T will be better than sex. I thought he was crazy." Then Old Bob smiled and said, "Now I realize he was right!"
I took a 400 mile trip to the Panhandle Sunday and Monday. Western Oklahoma is just different! Once you leave trees (about Stillwater) all you see is red dirt, oil wells and terrain. I'm not saying its ugly. Its just different. You also learn fast why they are building Wind farms out here. At Fort Supply a wind farm runs parallel to the highway. By my odometer I drove by it for 8 miles and then the road curved but it was still going. Here are my Notes:
1. In the Panhandle the most frequent road sign is "Cemetery" with an arrow pointing down the section line. I counted 8 signs in about 40 miles.
2. When I started back Monday afternoon, I was still 350 miles from home and met a "Muskogee Police" car heading west.
3. On the two lane highway traffic actually got backed up about 8 deep because of road construction. A silver car a head of me decided he had enough and pulled out and started passing the cars and semi trucks. A car was coming and I kept expecting him to pull back in, but he went straight ahead and forced the coming car off the road as he kept passing. No brake light, no slowing down.
4. There is one area along the highway that felt like Arizona. I seemed I had gone to far.
5. The school project that drew me to this area is in Texoma. Half the town is in Texas and half is in Oklahoma. All the kids go to Texas for elementary and Oklahoma for middle school and high school.
6. There must be an oil well and white tanks about every 2,000 feet- everywhere. This is truly the oil patch. About every other business is petro related.
7. I like my convenience stores to be convenient! Out there you have to plan your trips.
For that length of trip I am grateful for Books on CD, podcasts, and Satellite radio. Just like the people in the wagon trains.
Friday, September 9, 2011
As a rule I am interested in what Movie Critics have to say, but I don't select my movies on that basis. Some draw me in with previews, some the cast, and some the book the movie is based on.
Critics don't know how to grade comedies, because they need a statement to be made. Fun isn't what they are looking for. That's why "shocking" works for them. They need something they have never seen before!
I have a couple of critics bother me enough that if they don't like it I probably will!
Which brings me to my favorite movie AP: "Flixster with Rotten Tomatoes". I agree with Rotten Tomatoes most of the time. They rate a movie from 0 to 100. The higher numbers above 50 get a ripe tomato symbol. The bad ones get the rotten tomato.
Examples The Help (73%), Our Idiot Brother (68%), Captain America (78%), Conan (22%),
Midnight in Paris (92%). New Movies: Apollo 18 (21%), The Debt (76%), Contagion (82%), Shark Night (14%) and the lowest I have ever seen: Bucky Larson (O%).
It is a free Ap and gives all the local movie times and schedules wherever you are (GPS).
I didn't think much of the previews for this movie because I normally don't like this kind of thing. I don't watch ER or CSI. I don't enjoy watching people cough, spit, convulse, or get cut on. Pray tell why did I go watch "Contagion"? It had all that! BUT the actors were a who's who including Matt Damon. AND it is getting great reviews! It was the best movie available tonight. (Excuse me: I sneezed).
One of my favorite books is Stephen Kings "The Stand" about a virus that spreads through the world and wipes most people out. The recent "Planet of the Apes" also implies the same thing.
Contagion is fast moving and takes place in three locations primarily, but the beginning shows very effectively how you and I pass our germs. (I started coughing during the movie.)
It is NOT a great popcorn movie, but it is well done. For you guys who like who like the History Channel or How Things happen, you will be elated.
As for me, I was starting to get symptoms by the end, and didn't want to touch anyone. You will get involved with this story. It tracks the virus around the world from Day 2 to Day 150+, but at the end shows you Day 1 (how it started).
I give it **3/4 stars. 2011 Movie #44.
My rule of thumb: If Matt Damon is willing to act in it, I am willing to watch.
Great line in movie: "He's a Blogger. Blogging is not writing it's Graffiti with punctuation ."
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
"Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell the family parrot to the town gossip." Will Rogers
"Whoever gossips to you will gossip about you." Spanish Proverb
"To be silent the whole day long, see no newspaper, hear no radio, listen to no gossip, be thoroughly and completely lazy, thoroughly and completely indifferent to the fate of the world is the finest medicine a man can give himself." Henry Miller
I'm still thinking about the movie, Our Idiot Brother, and how it pealed away the idea that being truthful and speaking good about people is looked with suspicion in today's society. Monday while I mowed the lawn I was listening to a podcast of "This American Life" dealing with gossip. In some African nations gossip works like Facebook to single out those that may be HIV positive. The process of talking about people does alert about those with AIDS, but in doing so they also destroy many innocent people as well. The next short story was about producers of "reality" shows and how the producers between shows start rumors to pit contestants against each other or to start something.
Producer on camera, "Jane, would you be bothered if John flirted with you?"
Jane, "I never thought about it."
Producer, "Well think about it."
Jane, "I guess I would not care one way or another."
Producer, "I need that in a sentence."
Jane, "I would not be bothered if John flirted."
Producer (off camera): "John, Jane said that she would like for you to flirt with her."
In the movie, Our Idiot Brother, Ned's sister(who writes for a magazine) gets mad at him for not allowing her to use a story that would be great gossip even though it would destroy someone. He was such an idiot for wanting to think good about his friends!
I was reminded of a recent Bond vote that was defeated by gossip. The opposition used no advertising. Instead the day before the vote they spread gossip that could not be proven in short time. One story was about the drawing of the proposed school. They said, " If you look close you would see that the superintendent has his name on the building. He is naming it for himself!" Of course, no one had a drawing to look at. they just believed the gossip.
Monday, September 5, 2011
I thought I had seen all the "good Movies" in my town, but with Labor Day winding down I was ready to take a chance and go see what's left. I had heard an interview with Paul Rudd (the star) and believed it worth the risk (at least until the popcorn was gone). Here is the deal. The movies have been swamped by slacker dudes with beards and sunglasses acting the idiot in R rated over-the-top bawdy, bad taste stories. The risk was: Is this another one? It LOOKS like one,
The answer was a surprising, fun and thought provoking movie. Paul Rudd plays the guy that everyone thinks is an idiot. His parole officer calls him a "Retard"! His three sisters, who are all caught up in their worlds, cringe when he comes to stay with them.
CAUTION: I am about to say some things about the plot. You may want to look away.
Why is he an idiot?
He lives a simple life and in a simple world. He tells the truth. He does not curse. He looks for the good in everything and he gives everyone benefit of the doubt. AND he has a dog named "Willie Nelson".
Everyone else is caught their complex worlds. The movie is "R" because all the "normal" people drop the F-bomb a lot and deal with adult things (some nudity). The brother does not. Great Cast including many people that you have seen on TV and the movies.
It is an adult story, but a story that needs telling. It shows how crazy most people's lives are and how shallow. A good guy is seen as an idiot.
I liked it very much. I give it *** stars.
2011 Movie #43
Friday, September 2, 2011
Call me crazy but just finished listening to Rob Bell read, "Love Wins". It is his new book with the subtitle, "A book about Heaven, Hell, and the fate of every person who ever lived" As a public service to my Christian and Agnostic friends, I will summarize the high points for you.
1. Heaven will be here on earth. Jesus will rebuild it in a massive remodel.
2. Hell is now when bad things happen, maybe later when we die we may be uncomfortable a while but not like actual fire and stuff. We can talk to people in heaven just like the rich man in the Bible. Hell is like the diagram here.
3. Rob says the Bible is clear that God is Love and won't let anyone suffer long.
4. EVERYONE will end up in Heaven. It doesn't matter what you do. God has given you "Freedom" to ignore him. He'll save you anyhow. So-o-o quit feeling guilty about church stuff, sin and other worries. It doesn't matter if you are Hitler or Mother Teresa in the end.
5. There is NO hell! Reminds me of an old joke. The difference between Northern Baptists and Southern Baptists. "Northern Baptist say, "There ain't no Hell." Southern Baptists say, "The Hell there ain't!"
and last: Even though it doesn't matter because you and everyone who ever lived are going to live together on our blue planet. keep reading Rob Bell's theology because it makes him money in his current heaven.
It is interesting that everyone from John Piper to Francis Chan has risen up to challenge him.
It is my humble uneducated opinion that Bell is full of Crap! It makes a good coffee table book for any Unitarian.