Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reflections of 2011

2011 brought out all possible emotions. On the bad side I went to the depths of fear, bitterness, and defeat as I dealt with the loss of my business, my staff and my control. I entered 2011 in fear because my path was clear but hard. I let many people down and had no remedy. We live in a world where everyone wants security and I could not guarantee an easy path for anyone.

In the beginning it was hard going to work at a place filled with furniture and equipment that I bought but no longer owned, and I was still working with the same clients though I could no longer make decisions concerning their projects. It is working.

But you know what: I made it. Through the biggest snow storm, the worst summer in history, and my first earthquake!

On the good side of my emotions were relief, peace and love. I have a very loving family that makes anything worth while. My grandkids couldn't be more perfect, if I could have designed them myself. They are the definition of joy. My kids, Lindsey and Nate, make me so proud. They are great parents, accomplished in their professions, and have proved that they can excel.
Carol is the best soul mate a person could dream of. She kept me together and has been my rock in the storm and in the good times too. Last but in no way least, My LORD has led me through this valley and back up the hill.

2012 has to be better. I started 2011 ending my business and ended the year losing my oldest brother, Bob, to cancer. In the process of his loss, I came to realize that I may have lost my other brother too. Time will tell. I am so, so glad that in the last two years, I was able to form a strong bond of love with Bob. I will always remember his joy of finally getting to a NASCAR race.

In other fronts I was happy to be involved in the creation of the Children's Music Exhibit at the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame. Another events that thrilled me was Advent at our church and getting to share a my study of the servant, David with my church family.

Great projects this year that finished were: Morris Elementary School, Reynolds Community Center in Poteau, Kiefer Event Center, Kiefer Early Childhood Center, and Oklahoma Union Gym.

2012 projects to look forward to are: NSU Leoser Dorm remodel, Texhoma Schools and Cameron Softball park.

It is time for my annual best list:

Best Concerts: Brad Paisley with Leroy Niemann and Blake Shelton at Pizz Hut Park in Frisco. Though it was Hot! Damn Hot!; Vince Gill, Zac Brown Band and of course Paul Thorn!
Best Live Performances: Christen Chenowith at the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame Induction and Drumline in Fayetteville.
Best Books: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein,Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson.
Best Trip: To see the Oklahoma Panhandle and Western Oklahoma!
Best Architecture not by me: Fort Worth Science Center and Children's Museum
Best Movies: The Descendants, The Company Men and Midnight in Paris.
Best Event: Advent at Muskogee Church of Christ
Best New Favorite Restaurant: Salvastino's Pizzeria in Bixby, Oklahoma
Best Sporting Events: the OSU/OU Football game and Avery's ball games.

In 2012 I believe that my AMBITION is returning with a vengeance. It is my intention that 2012 be a BIG YEAR!

Buying a Zoo

To end this year at the movies, we went to see "We bought a Zoo!" It sounds like a kid movie and it is a family movie, but the story is for adults: It's about starting over, dealing with loss of a spouse, and getting in over your head. Normal everyday stuff. While the story is similar to Descendants at one level, it is not that deep. It is a good movie with a good story that is loosely based on a true story. Matt Damon is good in anything.

The previews that you may have seen, only deal with the beginning, a great story follows.

I give it ***stars. 2011 Movie #61.

New Year's Resolution

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Mike's 12 Favorite Movies of 2011

As I have stated many times, My list has nothing to do with the academy awards these are the best movies that I have seen. Not all the big movies have come to "our neck of the woods". So their are a couple of movies that may be considered 2010 movies, but we didn't get them until January. This year I went to 60 movies (61 when I go tomorrow). The movies in this list are movies that I rated 4 stars or 5 stars. I have tried to list them in best first, but like most things some that I saw early in the year are faded in my Memory.

1. The Descendants (*****)
2. The Company Men (*****)
3. Midnight in Paris (*****)
4. Drive (****)
5. Another Earth (****)
6. War Horse (****)
7. My Week with Marilyn (****)
8. Adjustment Bureau (****)
9. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (****)
10. Super 8 (****)
11. The Help (****)
12. Moneyball (****)

There were several that got 3-1/2 stars and barely missed the cut:

13. Mission Impossible 4 & Fair Game (Tie)
14. Bridesmaids
15. Ides of March
16. The Big Year
17. Tin Tin
18. Source Code
19. Captain America
20. J. Edgar
21. Rango

Last year I saw 62 movies, this year about 61 (Half were very good and the other half would have been good rentals.

Probably the most disappointing movies for me were

61. Muppets 2
60. Hangover 2
59. Sherlock Holmes 2
58. Sanctum
57. Hall Pass

There are good movies coming but that's 2012. I goal this year is to only see 52 movies. I shall start considering RED BOX, but it will be difficult.

War Horse

I went to see "War Horse" today. Sometimes the Hype for too long and too much can cause too high expectations. Today, as the movie started, that thought bounced around my head. The movie is very old fashioned at the start, but over the 2 and one half hours I came to the realization that this is a pretty darn good story. I will not say it is the year's best, but it is on the same par with Spielberg's other 2011 movies: "Super 8" and "TinTin".

No one depicts war like Spielberg. He makes it raw and real. I ran an interview with him and he says that there is only 9-1/2 minutes of war scenes in the movie.

In this movie the Horse is the star, and the story spans the length of World War I. It shows the war from the British side, the German side, and the side of those caught in the middle. It is a story of the human spirit told through the eyes of a beautiful horse. I movie suitable for the family.

I give it **** stars. 2011 Movie #60.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

It could be worse!

My Annual Gift to me!

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other , just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads to way,
I doubted if I should make it back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood and I -----
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2012 is coming

My Christmas is just beginning!

This year like most I want stories from Books, CDs and DVDs. Santa came through again I got four new books and one documentary to immerse myself. I have started two: Macro and Brad Paisley with more to go. I'll let you know about them.

My Week With Marilyn

I'm a boy from the 1950's and toward the end of that decade several things were in gear. There was Elvis and the birth of Rock and Roll. There were Movie Magazines and Teen Magazines. (This was the original Entertainment Tonight, Rolling Stone and MTV) There were people that constantly graced the covers of these monthly mags like Liz Taylor, Elvis, Pat Boone, and, of course, Marilyn Monroe. We all knew about Marilyn whether we tried to or not. She was everywhere on the covers of Life, Look, Saturday Evening Post, and the scandal rags. We saw her in Bus Stop, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, etc. She was popular until her death and then she became an ICON. Everyone from Madonna to Sharon Stone has tried to imitate her but no one has pulled it off. UNTIL NOW.

I went to see "My Week With Marilyn" today to relive my youth (or youthful day dreams!) I had seen stories about Michelle Williams portrayal, but I needed to judge for myself. the movie is a true story of a 1956 movie that she made in England, "The Prince and the Showgirl" that stared and was directed by Sir Laurence Olivier. The story teller is a 23 year old kid named Colin Clark who was an assistant on the set. The story is about Marilyn's difficulties on set that caused her newlywed husband, Aurthur Clark, to head back to the states. She befriends this errand boy and he becomes the only person who can settle her.

This movie is like her life. It is not about sex, it is about companionship. There is only one nude scene with a naked backside, which is consistent with her life, She was about allusion and flirting. But mostly it deals with her struggle to be happy.

I really liked this story and from what I have heard it is all true and based on books by Colin Clark. Acting is great with people like Judi Dench and Kenneth Branagh and even the girl from Harry Potter, Emma Watson.

FYI: Only the last photo here with the flower is the real Marilyn!

The year is ending on high notes: **** stars
2011 Movie # 59

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas with a Dragon Tattoo

We went to see "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" to Officially start movie week. Having read the book and having seen the Swedish version of the book. The pressure was on to show me a great adaptation of this great story. If you haven't seen the Swedish version, this is a great movie. If you have, this is a very good movie. As they say, the book is better, but only because it is complete. In 2 and a half hours you just can't cover it all. What it did cover was spot on. i was disappointed that they slightly changed the ending. It is not enough to get worked up about but the other version was most accurate.

The cast did a great job, Daniel Craig found himself a great part that is good for the next two parts. The actor that plays the "Lizbeth" is totally uninhibited!

Note: If you are one of the few that did not read this book series, you are in for a shock. This is very intense with nudity, murder, profanity, and molestation. This is serious stuff told in a raw way as in the book. It is also the basic good versus evil and man's inhumanity to man. The book gives life to each character as no movie has time.

I still think this is a very good movie and give it ****stars. 2011 Movie # 58

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Santa in 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

TinTin without the Rin

I grew up watching Rin Tin Tin on Saturday mornings on TV. Rin Tin Tin was a German Shepherd dog of a boy that was part of the Calvary. Elsewhere in Europe their was a comic book hero named, "Tin Tin" a boy newspaper reporter who gets into "Indiana Jones" type adventures. This kid is 80 years old now. We don't know him in the USA but the rest of the world was anxious to see this. This movie has already made almost 400 million world wide, but judging by tonight it has a ways to go here. There were 4 people in the theater tonight.

That, however, is no judgement on this film by Stephen Spielberg. It has his magic. It is a great action story and the 3D "Motion Capture" form of realistic animation is truly wild. It is fun, fast paced and unlike any animation that I have seen. Great movie for all ages.

I give it ***1/2 stars. 2011 Movie # 57

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Silent Night revisited

Note: I have probably mentioned this before but today's church service made me think again about Christmas Carols in my life.

I was a child in the 1950's, a simpler time where everything was not challenged in the public arena. However, I was also born into a very conservative Christian community. The Bible was taught so literally, so carefully, and so demanding, that there was no opinion allowed. Christmas was celebrated on December 25, but since it could not be proved in scripture our community would not put added emphasis to this time of year. As a matter of fact the "Christmas Carols" in our hymnals might be sung in July or March but never in December.

At the same time during December at my school in Music Class we sung Carols such as "Silent Night", Away in the Manger" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem". We would have Christmas Pageants at school and Christmas Band Concerts using the themes of the Birth of Christ along side Santa Claus.

I fast forward 50 years. Christmas in the Christ sense is not to be found in the Public. Schools can not sing "Silent Night" and Nativity references aren't found in "Holiday Parades".

But alas, My Christian Community, this year, has adopted Advent. We are spending ALL of December talking, singing, and reliving the coming of Jesus to the world and I AM SOAKING IT UP WITH GREAT RELISH.

Today, we sung all the Christmas Carols including "Silent Night". I have longed for this time all my life. I get emotional just thinking about it.

To many of you this sounds crazy to think that a Christian Community is so late to this celebration, but it is sweet just the same. My hope is that ADVENT will remain our tradition.

It seems so fitting that at Christmas, we put Christ back in Church.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

MI4: The James Bond for our time.

I was in high school when "James Bond" movies became THE Christmas movie. I remember Christmas 1964 when me and my high school buddies stood in a two block long line in 30 degree weather to see "Gold Finger" at the Circle Theater in Tulsa. I was worth to get the last three tickets. We could not set together but we saw cool cars, cool women, and crazy action. Secret Agents and Bad guys and saving the world at the last second.

Yes, friends I just talked about "Mission Impossible 4, Ghost Protocol". Tom Cruise and company have a great thing going. They left my 3 sequel theory in the dust with this addition. No it is no more real than Sherlock, but it is what we want. The story connects the dots and it has a human quality. It also features the BMW concept car that I have read about. And it is set in two of the world's new cities and the world's tallest building. In my reading I found out that some of the shots of Tom Cruise outside the building were actually him.

It is fun but not serious. It is the traditional Christmas action movie that I want. Not the dark brooding Batman crap.

I give it ***1/2 stars. 2011 Movie 56

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sherlock Schlock

Schlock is defined as shoddy or inferior. (just saying)

We kicked off the Christmas Season movies tonight by going to see the highly entertaining Sherlock Holmes series starring Robert Downy Jr. Well I went against my own theory of action comedy sequels which simply stated says, "the 3rd one sucks!" I was proved right again.

This one depends on fast paced, special effects and lame dialogue. I really wanted to like it. I really did. I asked my wife who liked the series better than me to help me, because it may just be me. She couldn't defend it either.

See it if you wish. You may find escape here. I did not.

I give it *1/2 stars. 2011 movie #55

Update: Carmike Cinemas sent me a message that they would repair the Men's Restroom, immediately!
They fixed one of the 2 broken urinals and did NOT fix the lights. Watch where you walk!
It's a Mission Impossible! Speaking of "Mission Impossible", I need one about now.

Maybe tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dealing with death

Last week was an unusual time for me. My oldest brother died. On many levels I was prepared.
He had cancer and the prospects did not look good. Last Monday I was told that he would leave the hospital and move to skilled nursing/hospice, but he would not hold through January. About six weeks! He died the next day.

I know that people deal with death differently. My middle brother, who flew in from Florida, is in one camp. He is scared of death, he hates funerals and his emotions cause him to be one irritating person to be around.

My Mother deals with it from a different angle. Since she did not approve of the church that my deceased brother was a member, we had to have the service at the funeral home! I know that in her heart she is worried that he is not in heaven. Because of these thoughts she did not participate with my brother's family at the wake.

I blogged about my tangle with these two, but I am proud to report that they "played nice" the day of the funeral. As soon as the service ended, my brother skipped out and headed to the airport.

No, I am not proud of their actions, but they are family. We will survive.

I will say that getting the opportunity to speak at Bob's funeral was good for me. I got to focus totally on his memory and not the current irritation. I told of the big brother that I watched grow up. I talked of his teen age years, his work, his hobbies and his influence. Those are the memories that I will cherish.

I am on record about one thing though: I have previously (before this episode) told my mother that I will speak at her funeral so that I can apologize to the audience for things she has probably said to them. He response: "I don't care what you say because I won't be there!"

Friday, December 9, 2011

Movie Night extras at CARMIKE Cinema

We have two movie theaters in our city. The one we went two night was Carmike. The photo shown here was taken by my phone in the Men's room. As you can see two of the three urinals are out of order and have been for MONTHS! While the photo may not show clearly is the two stalls are in the dark because the light above them has been out for WEEKS!

This is NOT bad management. It is NO Management.

In case anyone from CARMIKE happens upon this post: We are talking MUSKOGEE, OK.

There are many things that I could complain about this theater, but I'll start here.

I don't know if you know how the business works. This place should be showing dollar movies, but because of the policy that a theater chain can only have a certain movie within a certain geographical area. Many of the best movies come to the Carmike because their competitor in our area is Dickinson Theaters who also has theaters in Tulsa. The Tulsa Dickinson Theaters get the same movies as the Carmike gets here.

SO, Carmike gets good movies and doesn't have to change anything!

Celebrating Early: New Year's Eve

We needed a mindless movie in the worst way today. I looked down the list and chose "New Year's Eve". After all "Rotten Tomatoes" gave this film 5% out of 100! Sounds mindless, Yes?

No, it has plenty of gems to make you think. This is the follow up to the "Valentine's Day" movie that came before it. It is an A-list group of Hollywood actors and an A-list group of TV actors in about 6-8 overlapping stories that weave like a tapestry. It's not academy award stuff. but it is well done. It is about relationships (good, bad, happy, sad). It is also about the clash of the past and present and the promise of better times ahead.

I have been dealing with all the subjects this week. The Robert DeNiro character was even dying of cancer.

This may not be what everyone needs right now, but it was what I needed. it is very similar to the VD movie, but I liked the sights and sounds of the Big Apple on it's biggest night of the year.

AND I like the sound of "2012".

I give this **1/2 stars, but it worked tonight as good as a **** star show.

2011 movie #54

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Well Worn Words: Go Along to Get Along!

"Go along to get along" is a neat saying. Too bad it left the building about the same time as Common Sense. In the past this statement seemed like a cop out to me, but now I miss it. Seems like no one cares any longer about getting along. Instead, everyone only wants to "Get their way!"

We offend each other at the slightest incident. We think winning is accomplished when the other side is destroyed. We "Know" that our way is THE way so why compromise. I see it in every facet of life: Politics, Church, Organizations, Education and Family.

My oldest Brother died Tuesday night. He had terminal cancer, but he took a sudden bad turn and died quickly. My other brother flew in from out of state and was here when he died. He went to stay with our Mother who is 92. Sounds normal so far.

WELL: I am exhausted. I have spent the most of today as a referee. You see I was born into a headstrong family (actually "HardHeaded fits best!) Yes, I even except blame and guilt for that gene, but next to my Mother and out-of-town brother, I'm a slacker!

They started fighting as soon as he arrived. They are apart now. I felt like a mediator going from one to the other listening to versions of the same incidents. They tell essentially the same stories, but vary greatly on who started it and who was the bad guy.

I needed a whip and a cattle prod. They agreed on one thing: The other was totally wrong, mean-spirited and unworthy.

I listened to them and then started quoting my Paul Thorn song: "I don't like half the people I love" . "They've all got good qualities, but the bad ones keep covering them up!"

They could not understand why I wouldn't take sides. Especially, my brother! He thought that since I got along good with my Mother, that I must be against him! I told him that my job was to love them both! I told him that I put up with many things in life that I'm not comfortable with BUT so what? Everybody knows where I stand on just about everything. My job is not to make everyone like my point of view,BUT toleration goes along way.

My Mother plays the religion card so I just asked her: "What there was in her actions did she learn from Jesus!"

It is like spraying a garden hose!

No its not fixed but three hours later some civility popped up. I have my hands full.

By the way, did I mention that my oldest brother died?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Yes, its that time!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Muppet Movie & Bad Decisions

OK, Its been over a week since I've been to the movies. I needed one but had seen all the good movies in our town. Today, I read an article in the state's largest newspaper where the movie critic stated that the new "Muppet Movie" may be one of the year's 10 best! I also looked on "Rotten Tomato's" (one of the few critics I trust). They gave this movie a 98% out 100. And stated that movie goers surveyed gave it a 94%. So we went and got some great popcorn, our diet cokes, and chocolate covered peanuts, but we forgot one item: Kids!

I really liked the Muppets TV show. It had a mix of slap stick and adult humor that all could enjoy. I even like the Muppet Movie years ago that had Peewee Herman.

This new version started like a bad version of Glee and went south from there. Should have brought kids to keep me awake. Popcorn was gone, peanuts gone, and NO reason to stay.

ouch! FYI: Pixar actually has a Toy Story cartoon before the movie AND better than the movie!

SO I give this * star. No one under 10 should be admitted. FYI: There were 8 people in the theater at the 7:00pm show and three were kids. When we left after 30 minutes, there were 4 left. One couple left before us.

2011 Movie #53