Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Less Traveled Roads

Reflections on 2013

All things considered this has been a good year.  The family was healthy this year and the grand kids are growing into their real selves.  Each grandson is very different: Avery is all about baseball and video; Addison is all football and fishing; Asher is happy with anything.and the granddaughter, Kinley is, well, the next ruler of Earth.

I am both settled and unsettled at work.  It is impossible for someone like me, who has had their own business for 20 years, to easily accept other ways.  It works much of the time, but sometimes it doesn't:  My old clients expect me to treat them like I always have, but sometimes I can't.  It has cost me a couple of clients, but it is NOT my firm.

We did not travel much this year but had great times with short trips to Houston, Fort Worth, OKC  and Northwest Arkansas. We also started going to more concerts including Jimmy Buffet (twice ), Paul McCartney,  Paul Thorn and others.  We did not make our CMA or ACM trips and won't until Country music gets better.

Favorite Concert:  Jimmy Buffet in Tulsa
Favorite Movies: Mud and Ender's Game (saw them twice)
Favorite Books:  Jack Reacher series and Andy Stanley's "Deep and Wide"
Favorite Sports Event: OSU and Mississippi State in Houston
Favorite Trip: Fayetteville to Crystal Bridges and then to Kathy Mattea concert (Because Carol was with me.
Favorite New Music: OneRepublic, and Bruno Marrs
Favorite NewTV Shows:  House of Cards,  Arrow
Favorite Old TV Shows: Justified, Home Land, Downton Abbey, Person of Interest, the Good Wife

I'm Confused and Thor 2!



I had seen all the good movies available so for New Year's Eve it was a case of find a safe movie. We went to see "Thor, The Dark World".  It was not only dark but very confusing.  Its like a bunch of guys are setting around and taking a part from "Star Wars, add in some "Lord of the Rings" and a little a bit of Super Hero from the last "Thor" with a couple of Avengers references.  For me, it was hard to follow: Just when I had it figured out they threw in a new twist from no where.



Above: Elves dressed as Storm Troopers.

Don't get me wrong. The movie was enjoyable because of the humor.  It is one of the few Super Stud movies with humor.  Visually stunning.  Good popcorn.

2013 Movie # 57,  **1/2 stars

Equal time

Less Traveled Roads

I thought I would repeat a favorite song.  It is different from Mr. Frost's poem but has a lyric that sounds like my life.

The Road Less Traveled  

And there's a road, a winding road that never ends
Full of curves, lessons learned at every bend
Goin's rough unlike the straight and narrow

It's for those who go against the grain
Have no fear, dare to dream of a change
Live to march to the beat of a different drummer
And it all might come together
And it all might come unraveled
On the road less traveled

For the road less traveled ain't for the faint of heart
For those who choose to play it safe and never stray far
Me I wanna live my life and one day make my mark
And it all might come together
And it all might come unraveled 
On the road less traveled

I've chosen a pathway I may not endure
One thing's for certain nothing's for sure
And it all might come together
And it all might come unraveled 
On the road less traveled

George Strait

2013 Movies, a Good Year

2013 was a good year for movies.  We will end the year at our 58th movie.(Last year: 46).  We have become more discerning but there have been better movies.  I believe that I have only walked out of 3 movies.  Tonight will be our last movie and a first as well.  I made movie reservations at the AMC20. Picked our seats on line, paid and all. In this theater all seats are reclining seats, and plenty of room.

As for this year's movies this is my list. It includes only 4 star or better movies out of five.  The rating was at the time of viewing and sometimes I look back and say: "That was too high or too low."  my list is calendar year  and a few of the films were part of last years Oscar race, but did not come to Oklahoma until 2013.  I will list them by ranking but have not placed them in order of preference.

*****Star

There was one:  

12 Years a Slave

****1/2 Star

There were 3:   

Gravity
                         
Ender's Game

Sapphires

**** Star

There were 13
                         
Zero Dark Thirty
Searching For Sugarman
Django
42
Mud
Way Way Back
The Butler
Prisoners
Rush
Captain Phillips
Out of the Furnace
Philomena
American Hustle




Bad Movies

There is a movie out at present that gets great reviews by the national media. Locally the papers say it is to be avoided.  I had too much time on my hands and tried it (well, half of it).  Local papers were correct.

2013 movie #56   no stars

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Saving Mr. Banks



Holiday Movies Day 2

"Saving Mr. Banks" is Disney's recount of the story of bringing the movie, "Mary Poppins" to life in 1961.  Funny thing is I never saw That movie.  But I am a big, big Walt Disney fan.  he is one of my heroes.

The movie is actually two stories: P.L. Travers wrote Mary Poppins and Walt promised his daughters that he would make the book into a movie. That's one story.  The second is a flashback to Travers' childhood and the inspiration for Poppins.  Tom Hanks becomes Walt Disney and Emma Thompson is her usual great self.  The surprise is the role played by Colin Farrell. 



I give the movie *** stars.  2013 Movie 55



Saturday, December 21, 2013

Ducks, Dynasties and Christianity

I previously made known my thoughts about Mr. Phil Robertson's book "Happy, Happy, Happy" so it is no surprise that Phil's latest thoughts did not please me either.  Let me say again I am not a fan of REDNECK Macho Gospel.  The I am right and you are not - way of communicating Jesus- has never worked for me.

It is interested that Rick Warren was recently interviewed about Gay marriage, etc.  He also stuck by his beliefs about what the Bible teaches but did not offend anyone.  He did it with LOVE.  He even made the statement that, "he wasn't as worried about what the public might think about his remarks as much as what GOD might think."   Too bad Phil did not consider the same.

I can tell by FACEBOOK that most of my friends and fellow Christians are cheering Phil.  ATTABOY.

Phil and I are the same age and I can tell you that Blacks were NOT better off the the 1950-60s than today.  Not in Lousiana and not  in Oklahoma.  The statements are absurd.

What was he doing being interviewed by GQ, one of the most hedonistic magazines in existence.  He fed their need by saying vagina and anus to make for a outrageous word picture.

This whole episode did not have the "if you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed-- (I Peter4:14).

It does sell Duck Commander stuff!

American Hustle


Holiday-Award Movies are rolling out so today  we went to see "American Hustle".  This is a semi-true account of the infamous 1978's FBI "Abscam" sting operation.  At the opening of the movie the following appears" SOME OF THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED".

The cast is absolutely great.  Recently I saw Christian Bale in "Out of the Furnace" and he was lean and mean. For this role he added over 40 pounds.  I saw Jennifer Lawrence in Hunger Games as the good girl damsel. Here she is a crazy housewife who steals the show.

This is a "Con story" or a hustle. No one is who they seem and it is much fun.  It is R for language because  the entire cast are outrageous people in a  low life world.

There is even a cameo by Robert DeNiro playing what he plays best, "A Crime Boss".

This will be up for all the awards and for all the right reasons.

The Director also did "Silver Linings Playbook" last year that also included Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.  That was great and so is this.

I give it **** stars. 2013 Movie 54

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Philomena



I went to see "Philomena" recently.  Philo-who? you are thinking.  It will be one of those Oscar nominated movies that will fly too far under the radar, especially, if your idea of a good movie is "Anchorman 2".

Philomena is PG50.  It is a true story of an elderly lady who reveals to her daughter that 50 years ago she was forced against her will to give up her young son for adoption.  She was living with Nuns in a monastery who took in unwed pregnant girls.  This revelation leads to her meeting a journalist who agrees to help her find what happened to her son.   The journalist is upper class while she is a commoner.   The story deals with humor, drama and life over a 50 year period.

It deals with the bad side of adoption as well as Christians who carry out their duty without LOVE.  It deals with a devout Christian confronting an agnostic.  It includes subjects like AIDS, Government and coping with life.  BUT with all this IT IS NOT DEPRESSING.  It is is a great tale and fascinating.  You will not soon forget it.

Its why Movies are made.  I give it **** stars.  2013 Movie # 53

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Strange and good weekend ride



This weekend we traveled to Fort Worth to do some things with family.  We had tickets to the North Pole Train in Grapevine,Texas. The full size train and depot was outfitted for Christmas. The ride took 40 minutes and it left the station went out past DFW airport and then backed up back to the station.  The train ride itself was weird because it travels through mobile home parks and industrial areas!  During the ride you are distracted by LOUD Christmas Music and girls dressed as Elfs  who wonder through the cars to talk to the kids and dance to the recorded music.  They act out as a voice reads "The Night Before Christmas".  Did I say it was LOUD.

The train arrives back at the station but stops further down the track at "The North Pole". We were directed to walk thru evergreens with fake snow falling and into a tent with a Christmas Show.  Then it is off to see Santa and buy ornaments, shirts, hats etc. so that the real reason for the season can be enjoyed.  Not saying the kids didn't like it but I wanted a good train ride!

Downtown Grapevine was really cool!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Coming Full Circle

Several years ago I was working at a large Architectural firm in Tulsa. This was before PC computers. We had word processors but to print we all sent to the same printer. As luck would have it one of the Vice Presidents prepared a position paper outlining everything that was perceived as major company problems. It was sent to the printer, but when she went to retrieve it she found that a set of specifications were printing ahead of her.

Long story  short: the paper that pointed out all the firm's flaws was printed IN THE MIDDLE of the bid documents that was now in many bidder's possession.  It was the client that called the firm to say that someone may want to remove the document before all read it.  YIKES


Today I sent my company's owner, a memo outlining a disgruntled client's thoughts. I sent it to his private account BUT due to a computer glitch, the memo went to everyone in the company.  YIKES AGAIN.  Seems a lot of people got spooked.


It will be funny someday.

Frozen for sure

Well this past weekend part of our family was heading the Branson, MO for a Christmas Lights and play weekend.  The weather cancelled all that with five inches of snow and ice.  S0-o-o-o we went Sunday to see FROZEN, the Disney movie.




The AMC Theater in T-Town has converted, renovated and otherwise changed to accommodate the changing generation who would rather set home in recliners and watch NETFLICKS.  In all theaters in the 24 room location, sets were replaced by recliners!
This is the Grandsons waiting for the movie.  Pretty cool, don't you think.

The 3D movie started with a Mickey Mouse cartoon that combined one of the original Walt Disney cartoons with a crazy 3D twist.  It was like something you would see at Disney World.

The movie was good as well.  It had comedy with Olaf the Snowman and the Moose. It had a story that would make Snow White happy, and it was a musical as well.

Great family story.  I give the cartoon ***** stars and the movie ***.  G rated

2013 Movie #52  (I have now seen a movie a week for the year, and its not over.)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Out of the Furnace into the Oscars


Wanted a good movie for a snow day so we went to see "Out of the Furnace" (Steel Mill reference).
This is NOT a Christmas Movie BUT it is an Academy Award level movie.  IT IS also a very hard movie and a hard "R" (profanity and violence).

The story is about two bad luck brothers trying to survive in a blue collar world. One brother (Christian Bale) tries to do what's right, but his brother (Casey Affleck) can't fond his way after 4 tours of Iraq.  The cast is so strong with bad guy (Woody Harrelson), uncle (Sam Shephard), policeman (Forrest Whitaker), bar owner (Willem Defoe) and girlfriend (Zoe Saldana).  This is a serious movie and so real that it seemed that we were watching real life. The director was also great.

2013 Movie #51, **** star       For serious movie buffs. It is an Oscar rich project.
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Buffett and buffeted



We bought tickets a couple of months ago to see Jimmy Buffett in concert. This was for two reasons: First it has been 20 years since he has been in Oklahoma and second, A chance to see him indoors.
JB usually does outdoor venues with 20,000 parrot heads (check my April post about the Frisco concert). The outdoor concerts are out of hand for me because the atmosphere overtakes the music.  Last night the sound was set for the venue and it was a great experience.  Jimmy Buffett made the concert all about Tulsa and Oklahoma. The Video screens behind the band many times showed scenes from our state's past and present. he and Mac McAnally does a song titled, "Back where I come from" I gave me chills.  He ended the show in the second encore by singing "Tulsa Time" and "This Land is Your Land". Great show, Great 12 piece band and back-up singers, Great Crowd---- Especially when it was freezing rain and snow outside and 24 degrees.  Jimmy has a song that says:"If we were not crazy who would go insane!"   So yes we were crazy.

Our drive to the concert on the turnpike was an average speed of 45 miles an hour.  The speed on they way back was 33.  As we left the Metro we came up on three snow plows that stretched across both lanes.  We followed them all the way home.

It did get interesting as a charter bus passed us and the snow plows on the shoulder of the road at about 50 MPH during the ride.

The fun thing about the trip home:  XM radio was replaying the concert as we travelled.

FUN times 2.

PS Jimmy will be back to Oklahoma more often since they are building a 280 million dollar hotel, casino and Margaritaville restaurant on the banks of the Arkansas building in Tulsa.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Christmas time

Deer Season

 Ah! The Classics!

Ender's Game 2

I took my 10 year old grandson, Avery, to see "Ender's Game".  Avery is a "gamer" big time and is also extremely smart.  This movie is a great match for him.  In the movie, Ender is a small boy who has an unassuming stature, but not one you can take for granted.  Ender's Game is a great story for the kids who "can be" overlooked by people who are superficial, but can be game changers!

I hope Avery saw himself, because I did.


2013 Movie #50

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

It is starting

better living through chemistry!



I have reached a magic moment on my  journey that clearly shows where I am in life.  As of yesterday, I now take 16 pills a day!  12 at bedtime and 4 after breakfast. Yikes!

I went the first 30 years taking nothing. Then at 30 I started taking an allergy pill a day. Then at 50 I added another pill for my digestion. AND NOW I suddenly understand all my Mother's complaints about insurance coverage of prescription medicine.

Catching Fire



As I have stated last year, "The Hunger Games trilogy" was a favorite of mine when the books were released.  The first movie adaptation did not disappoint and neither did the latest. Hunger Games - Catching Fire is a good movie.  The CGI mixes well with the cast and it follows the story well.
If you are a HG fan this is for you.

I give it ***1/2 stars   2013 movie #49