Sunday, March 31, 2013


I started the year seeing movies at a fast clip but then came March.  I saw a movie on March 1 and then on March 30 with a lot of living in between.

We craved a dark room with popcorn and so we went to see the new Tina Fey and Paul Rudd movie, "Admission".  She plays an admissions officer for Princeton University and he is the Headmaster of progressive academy in New England.  It is a funny look at the world of admissions at the top tier schools and I enjoyed it a lot.  There is also a undercurrent story that deals with adoption, unwanted pregnancy and life decisions.  For those not familiar with adoption it won't mean as much. For me it was very well done and showed various facets that caused me much thought. 

Good movie, great cast.  I give it **3/4 stars

2013 Movie #11

Saturday, March 30, 2013


This hangs on the wall of my study:

RISK MORE than others think is safe
CARE MORE than others think is wise
DREAM MORE than others think is practical
EXPECT MORE than others think is possible

a daily lesson

Adventures in Missing the point

I have watched a constant stream of mis-communication in the media, news, friends and all about.  We humans jump to conclusions. We believe anything that fits our pre-conceived ideas.  We strain for truth to be as WE see it.  Not that I know the truth!  I find myself more and more in the minority in almost any discussion: politics, church family, work, and society.  It is weird to be weird.

Example 1:  I work for a local non-profit that works to promote Music in our state. We had a great idea to create a venue to honor music and to educate the public.  We had this idea to create a Children's Music Exhibit. (Note: WE may not have been a collective WE, but a WE of the involved!)  Any who, we proceeded with the aid of a nationally known firm and did create an exhibit that really works. However along the way, it was discovered that the accounting was a disaster and the funds for the exhibit were being used by the general fund as well.  (This has been resolved and corrected).

BUT we now have a Children's exhibit that the public knows nothing about.  It was never officially opened and sets in the dark. The directors of our organization had such a bad accounting experience, that the idea of a facility to honor and educate about music bit the dust quickly.  Someone like me who has spent 16 years working with the idea doesn't even feel welcome.  Strange world.

For some reason it reminds me of Example 2

Example 2:  In the year 1999 I was leading the redesign of our County Courthouse complex.  The design required the gutting of the courthouse and a total remodel while keeping and in some cases restoring the historical elements.  During construction I got a frantic call from one of our county commissioners. I said that he received a call from a citizen irate that WE meaning I had removed "under God" from the "Pledge of Allegiance"  that adorned the front of the courthouse.  Without thinking he said to me, "Mike, You have got to change that back!"

I not believing what I am hearing said that I had two comments about this issue.

1.  The Pledge of Allegiance was 'carved' in the limestone walls. it would not be possible to remove two words form the middle of the carving and then sort of scoot the other carved letters around.

2. More Importantly the building was erected in 1924, "Under God" was added to to pledge in 1956 during Ike's term.  It has always been that way.

The phone went silent and he said good bye.

Adventures in missing the point.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Deep and Wide quote 2

"I grew up attending churches designed for church people. No one said it, but the assumption was that church was for church people. The unspoken message to the outside world was, "Once you start believing and behaving like us, you are welcome to join us.

The corollary of being a church for churched people was we had a tendency to be against everything unchurched people were for.  We were against just about everything at one time or another. We were against certain genres of music, alcohol, the lottery, the equal rights amendment, gay people and Democrats!"

Doesn't sound that long ago to me?

There's more than one way to jump!

Saturday, we took the grandsons up an indoor Jumping place. In our town a inflatable play area was set up in an old aircraft hanger. It is a great place for kids (except no air!, yikes).  I have attached a couple of photos.  But the main things is the kids can run and jump.

It reminded me of my youth, before inflatable things were available.  When I was 9 and wanted to jump during the summer, I just had to wait for cotton. You see in the 50's around my hometown of Haskell, cotton was king.  Cotton fields surrounded the town and their were as many as 4 cotton gins in the community.  The largest was Goodman's Gin and it happened to be one block from my house. It was the greatest amusement park that I ever attended.  The Goodman's had a son who played with my brother and me and therefore we also played at the gin.  During the winter we would slip into the large machine building which was two stories tall and catwalks to all the machines.  We played hide and seek, chase and such things among the machines (Designed to separate cotton from the hulls and be made into large bales of cotton.

The jumping came when the cotton came.  The trailers of cotton would line up to be literally sucked by large vacuum tubes into the system.  The hulls would fall into giant piles behind the building and the ginned cotton would flow into four holding rooms, each having a ceiling about three stories high.
Although it was frowned upon, we went into these rooms and climbed two story high piles of fresh cotton and jumped, flipped, and fell.  It was a blast,

When the gin closed for the day, we would go to the "hulls" and do the same except the hulls had sharp corners at times and were filthy with dirt.

Other times we would climb up on the cotton bales that were being collected for transport by train (nearby). The bales were 6 feet high, 4 feet wide and three deep.  They would sometimes stand 20 to a row and 6 or 8 rows deep. We would jump row to row and also create games of tag to play.

It was a great time.

Note: OSHSA did not exist then!

Besides the cotton gin, we had a railroad yard and a grain elevator nearby as well.  

There's more than one way to jump.

Note: the gin photos are from BING, I'll try to find some actual ones

Friday, March 15, 2013

Belated Valentine's post

Carol and I exchange Valentine's cards during the week leading to the DAY.  We leave our cards in each other's cars, bags, etc.  We usually start off silly and end up mushy.  One Card that I received from my wife simply said,

"On life's road, it's not where you go but who's by your side that make's the difference."

p.s  she started with a card that showed an empty box for chocolates with the caption:

The Democrats took the Valentine candy I got you!

Deep and Wide 1

I am currently reading a book that is aimed at me called "Deep and Wide" by Andy Stanley. It is about becoming a church that unchurched would want to attend.  I attended church with my daughter in Fort Worth last weekend and they were teaching a series called "Extreme Makeover" based on this book and I picked up a copy.

Instead of talking about the book, I will from time to time quote a passage or two.  Maybe it is something you need too.

"I've worked in churches that tried to be fair. Eventually, fairness became an excuse for non engagement.  The quest for consistency became an excuse not to help.  Before long, church leaders were hiding behind, "If we do it for one, we will have to do it for everyone."  To which I can hear Jesus shouting, "No you don't!  I didn't!"  If we are not careful, we end up doing for none because we can't do for everyone. The better approach is to do for one what you wish you could do for everyone, knowing that everyone is not going to be treated the same way.  I've seen churches attempt to be consistent, but I've seen consistency get in the way of ministry.  I've seen people with financial needs turned away, not because there wasn't enough money to help, but because a line item had been depleted. That's a tough one, isn't it."

Andy Stanley

The Partner

The Bible says, "Vengeance is mine says the LORD."

I shouldn't but I like revenge stories. Knowing I am not to seek vengeance, I read about others.

John Grisham's new novel, The Partner, lets us watch a master at revenge.

We have a law partner who is the youngest in a firm with five managing partners.  They have the chance to gain a large sum in a settlement and plot to remove him from the firm before it arrives.  His wife has been unfaithful since marriage.  He hates his life.  So-o-o-o he changes everything!

That's all you need to know until you read it.  Grisham weaves a yarn that makes you hang on for the ride.

If it were a movie, I would give it ****stars.

FYI:  If you listen to books like I do, Frank Muller, the master, reads this one.  He has been absent for several years after recovering from severe medical issues.

Smoke Signals

It still amazes me that the Catholic custom of picking a Pope, Amazes the world.  Everybody waits for the white smoke(including me) wondering who will be picked as if our very life was about to change. I am reminded again that there is a bond in Christianity that crosses many lines in the sand.

We, non-Catholics, say it doesn't matter, but we talk about it.

I was interested today when the story came out about the Francis getting his luggage.  The day before he was visiting Rome and staying in a Hotel. Suddenly, he was home.  But instead of riding in the Pope-mobile, he simply drove to the hotel, picked up is bags, paid the bill and came back.  He maybe a different sort.

I have also heard that he wants the "Big Chair" setting on the floor and not elevated.

You see: I have a theory.  In my life I have watched the Church of Christ become more and more like the Catholics and watched the catholics head toward us.  We all through out too much of the Bible along the way and we are slowly recovering.  

Smoke Signals seem like an old relic of times gone by, but so does civility, trust, and grace.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Dodging a Bullet!

My Mother was one of five children and of the five, two were found to have to have Huntington's Chorea or Huntington's Disease.  My uncle died of it a few years ago and My aunt is suffering from late stages of it.  It got to the point with my uncle who was widowed, that his neighbors sold their house because of his threats and actions.  My aunt goes into a rage whenever my Mother tries to visit. Something that can't happen any more.  This disease causes abnormal involuntary writhing movements and later dementia coupled with hostile actions towards family and others.  They become increasingly hard to live with.

It is said that there is a 50 percent chance that their children will get it.  Ny aunt has 4 children and 3 of them have the disease.

Today my Mother told me the rest of the story: My great grandmother had it so bad that my great grandfather committed suicide when my Grandpa was 12.  Mother then told me that my Grandpa also had it and my Grandmother Thomas suffered greatly from his actions until he died of a heart attack when I was 8.

The problem with the disease is also that it does not show until middle age until about 60.  There is no solution for this at present.

Today I suddenly feel very blessed that I (and my family) dodged a major and fatal bullet.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Charm School

I just finished Nelson DeMille's novel,"The Charm School".  It is about a secret training base in Russia that trains Secret agents to come to America as families to live among us. It is set in the Cold War of 1984 and a great read.  This book was written in the nineties but he researches so well that I got to look at life behind the old "iron curtain" and also taste life in a embassy.

I bring this up because on FX cable there is a new fiction series called the "Americans" and its subject is the same.  Communist spy families in the 1980's.  It is very close to the book in many ways.  

Both are tense and well written.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Candy Crush - If you dare

So I'm minding my own business and listen to my wife play a new game on her iInstrument. She says, "You ought to try it is like "Bejeweled" but a little more involved." (like the Titanic is like a bass boat).

Here is the deal:  As you play each round gets harder and you gain more staying power as you go. Then you get to level 28 and the wheels come off.  When you lose the round and have to repeat it, it tells you that you have to wait 30 minutes or pay 99 cents and play NOW. So the timer goes and I do something else and check back.  YES, time is up!  I can try about 3 more times until I have to wait again!    It must be like getting hooked on drugs.  Buy i'm not giving in and buying "lives".  If I start that, next I''ll be knocking off convenience stores to feed my habit.

So for now I can wait 30 minutes OR Get a life!

Doesn't it look innocent?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Road Trip

Actually, text needed.  This Museum is two hours from my home and contains some of the best American Art to be seen.  And some world class architecture too.

Real Music

Sometimes in my fast paced life I get a wake up call. I try to keep up with current things such as the latest movies, books and music. Many times the current stuff leaves me empty.  Take Pop, Rock and Country music. There are many factory made stars out there who get all the air play while great musicians are left to be discovered.

Last night we went into the urban wideness of Northwest Arkansas to one of our favorite music venues, the Walton Art Center, in Fayetteville.  In concert was  5 time Grammy winner Mary Chapin Carpenter and 3 time Grammy winner Shawn Colvin performing in an acoustic concert of Mary's music, Shawn's music and their favorite songwriter's music.   If you are unfamiliar with Mary go to iTunes and check out "Stones in the Road."

2 women with guitars and they were excellent with their guitars.  Finally a concert where the artist did not over amp the sound to hide  bad voices.  These two are still at the top of their game.  They talked between every song about the writing of it, the story of it or just the time in their lives at the writing.

During the show they talked about their life as teenagers (and mine) when in the 60's you could tun on the radio and hear the Beatles followed by Motown then followed by the Mammas and Papas.  It was about THE MUSIC.

The night reminded me of our local production at the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame:  "Music Begins With A Song".  

People my age came from near and far including a truly chance meeting.  A couple came in and took the seats beside us.  They were friends from our church days in Tulsa and had not seen them in 25 years!

Great Music in a great setting.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Quartet - Mike gets more culture

Quartet, the new movie by Dustin Hoffman, should not be confused by last year's movie, "The Late Quartet".  While they share some similarities, they are very different.  In "The Late Quartet, a string quartet performs one more time before splitting up. In "Quartet" a once renown opera quartet is reunited in a retirement home for musicians in England.  It is "Late Quartet meets Marigold Hotel" and it is great.  Those of you that watch "Downton Abbey" knows that Maggie Smith can steal any story. Dustin Hoffman does a great job directing. 

This is a story about aging without giving up on life.  It is both real and enjoyable. While it centers on Opera and even though you might not think you like opera, you will be drawn in. One of the scenes show one of the singers explaining to a group of young kids how opera and rap are similar.

Warning this is a PG50 movie. (Note: the movie is PG13 because the F-word is used twice, but because old people say it, they let it slide.

I give this movie ***stars. 2013 Movie#10