Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Always Remember

Less Traveled Roads

Mike's Favorite Movies 2014

Again this year I am listing my favorites. This is not Oscar predictions just my personal ratings of the top movies that I viewed. I rated many good movies 3 star which means above average out of 5 stars.

So here is my list:

I had one 5-1/2 star movie (never had one before:  "Boyhood"

I had four 5 star movies:
"Begin Again"
"Birdman"
"Chef"
"Wild"

I had one 4-1/2 star movie:
"Rudderless"

I had five 4 star movies:
"Edge of Tomorrow"
"Get On Up"
"Gone Girl"
"Lone Survivor"
"St. Vincent"

Mike's Top 11 movies (Not counting Unbroken) out of 55 movies attended.

I recommend all.

Unbroken



"Unbroken" will be my last movie of 2014. Movie #55  We will see it at the Warren Theater.

I may write a review tomorrow but I wanted to acknowledge it before year's end.  This was a great book about a great life. I am prematurely disappointed at the news that the segment about the Billy Graham Crusade that changed his life was omitted. If that is true the movie may not be one of my favorites.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Big Eyes




I was attracted to the movie, "Big Eyes", because of the stars: Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz. I am not a fan of the director, Tim Burton.  This is a true story of the artist who painted the Big Eyes series that portrayed children with big sad eyes back in the 1960's.

Margaret  Keane created this series of paintings and her husband hustled them as his own works, saying that no one would buy "woman art".  It is a fast paced, well acted story of life in the sixties and the world of manufactured success. This movie is isn't getting much push but its because it is a PG50 movie. (PG13).  This is a crazy story.
.
I love all movies of these two actors.

2014 Movie #54

I give it ***1/2 stars

Penguins the Movie


We took our grand daughter to see "Penguins of Madagascar" over the Holidays.  It was the only kids movie available. I was indifferent about this animation going in BUT I was very surprised and delighted. It is a fun and witty movie that ALL will enjoy.  The writers had a blast using movie stars in puns through out and great dialogue.   This is a great popcorn movie that doesn't require kids to enjoy.

2014 movie #53  I give it ***stars.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Thought

Taken from Richard Beck's great Blog: "Experimental Theology" a writing by Dorothy Day:

"We cannot love God unless we love each other, and to love we must know each other. We know Him in the breaking of the bread, and we know each other in the breaking of the bread, and we are not alone any more. Heaven is a banquet and life is a banquet, too, even with a crust, where there is companionship.

We have known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community."

Monday, December 22, 2014

Judge not lest you- Wait! There goes another one!

While I am in a judgmental mood, I will share something that happens everyday.

My office is a storefront on one of the main downtown streets. I see people pass the window all day and park to visit nearby businesses.  My side of the block is shared with a furniture & appliance rental business, law offices and a major loan company (pay-day type loans, etc.)

All day long people park and go in and out of these businesses, Almost none are in good moods.  They are paying out the nose to get by, get out, or get through! No I don't know their stories and can't gain much knowledge in these 60 second shows, but if body language means anything, these people are not happy campers.

Like most things in life we tend to have to say, "Well, it made sense at the time."

"It made sense to rent to that flat screen TV. We keep paying on it weekly and we can own it." ($600 TV for $1,400.00)

"It made sense to borrow that thousand dollars to pay bills with, "(20% interest)

" I guess we will take bankruptcy since we owe $30,000 in credit cards."

60 second stories on their faces. 

I can read these stories because I have lived some of them!

I could say that these people look like people just returning from Jerry Springer, but that would be judging.

By the way my spot on Jerry Springer is coming up!  It just  seems to make sense at this time.

Mike has a grouchy old man moment!

The grandsons spent the weekend with us. Sunday morning as we were getting ready for church, Avery (11) put on a grey t-shirt. We ask him the put on a long sleeve shirt but was informed that he did not bring one AND after all he had worn this shirt to his church. So what's the deal?

I spoke up with three good reasons:
 1. It's December 21, the first day of winter with the temperature about 38 degrees.
 2. Long sleeves are more appropriate for church AND the t-shirt looked sloppy and too casual.
 3. It's Christmas and everyone tends to dress up more for Church.

He reluctantly put his blue hoody on over the grey T-shirt.

We get to church, he is grumpy and then worship starts.

Our worship leader steps forward IN HIS GREY T-SHIRT AND JEANS and begins the service.
I look over at Avery and he is already out of the hoody. 

I will say in comparison that Avery's shirt did have a pocket and fit him much better than the Leader's shirt. (I am grasping now!)  In my defense, I looked around the room and no one else was wearing t-shirts.

Carol later assured me that I was over-reacting and being a grouchy old man. YIKES!

Mike changes his mind!

I have previously agreed with some of my brothers at church that I would try not the blog about things at church.  I will not betray any confidences or discuss private things like Elder meetings, etc. BUT I have inhibited myself and have decided to write about things that I see in public as a fellow sojourner.  I think I am wise enough to know the difference.  I trust that by choosing to read this blog, you have decided to look at my take on things.  This is at your on risk for I am not asking to be graded. I doubt that I measure up to your high standards. :)

WILD


Another Big Story with a Short Title:  My quick summary of "Wild" is that it is well named.

This movie is based on a true story and book by Cheryl Strayed played by Reese Witherspoon. Cheryl decides to hike the 1,000 mile Pacific Crest Trail from Southern California up to Canada.
By itself the journey is wild enough, but the flashbacks of her past life is wilder still. Cheryl was a self destructive person who makes bad decisions in bad relationships and meaningless "quick" encounters.  As they movie began, I was wondering how a young lady could go out into the wild facing many dangers and uncertainties. Quickly, as I got to know her past, I could see that she was right at home.

This is a strong movie about taking time to reflect on demons, on the death of a parent, on bad decisions and on the need to reboot a life gone crazy. I know the story works because it challenged me to reflect on my past as soon as the credits started rolling.  Her story is night and day different from mine and yet.... and yet on some level I related.

This is a hard R movie with sex and profanity about an R rated life. On another level it is just a great story that tells me that you can run but you can't hide.

This film rates with the year's best: I give it *****stars

This marks my 52nd movie of 2014 (one a week!)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

FURY


I have been slow to see this film. I knew it had good reviews and was well acted, but I also knew that it had an "Alamo" type ending.  We went last night. It is a well done movie with grit, grime and gruesome war scenes akin to "Saving Private Ryan".  It is hard to watch at times but worthy. It is also Hard "R"!

NOT A POPCORN MOVIE!

I give it ***1/2 stars  2014 movie 51

War never ends quietly.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Standing in the Breach


Jackson Browne has a new album out and it is great.  You won't here it though because he is demographically challenged. That means he doesn't sing about getting drunk, partying and other banter. This collection of songs compares well to the "Running on Empty" album. We were in Starbucks this weekend and they were selling it at the check out.  Starbucks has good taste!

Here is the last lines of the title track:

And though the earth may tremble and the oceans pitch and rise
We will all assemble and we will lift our eyes
To the tasks we know lie before us
And the power our prayers beseech
And cast our souls into the heavens
Atanding in the breach.

You don't know why its such a far cry
From the world this world could be
You don't know why but you still try
For the world you wish to see
You don't know how its going to happen now
After all that's come undone
And you know the world you're waiting for may not come
No, it may not come
But you know the change the world needs now
Is there, in everyone.

Jackson Browne

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Kathy Mattea 2014

I

n 2010 we were lucky enough to get tickets to see Kathy Mattea in Eureka Springs. Her Christmas tour is a rare treat. For the first half of her almost 3 hour concert she performs the songs that made her famous. The second half is a full Christmas performance with much heart, faith and joy filling the room.

Friday night She came near to Tahlequah and we were able to enjoy it again.  It was superb. She has four super talented musical masters with her and she also plays guitar, flute and percussion.  It is a joy.

My favorite two songs are "Where have you been?' performed in the first half and "Mary, Did you know?" in the Christmas half.  If you don't get emotional listening to these, you heart problems.

Big Hero 6: Mike gets fooled!

 
When I saw the preview for "Big Hero 6", I imagined another lovable cuddlyDisney Character in a "duck out of water" sort of way.  The first half of the movie was in that vane.  And then------it changed into an animated super hero flick, the very kind of movie that I try to avoid.  It is a movie for computer minded kids (Grandson Avery to be exact) and is a movie for geeks and nerds by design.

I am sure the target audience loves it, but in this world of Avengers, Batman, and the rest but I need a break. Another Comic Book Movie.

Great graphics.  The Joke on me was that I thought Big Hero 6 was the big inflatable robot but to my surprise it is 6 more heroes good for 6 more sequels.

Yes, It's ok for kids, but not ok for this Grandpa.

2014 Movie #50   I give it ***stars for the first half and **stars for the second half,

Friday, December 5, 2014

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Mike has surfaced!

My Christmas present this year was to have been a new iPad Air 2 with 128 gig and 4g.  Funny thing happened along the way.

You see I like Apple products. I have a MacBook, an iPod classic, an iPod Nano, an iPad 2, and Apple TV.  I needed an iPad that is always connected to the internet for my Panhandle trips.  I had looked and visited my future iPad several times at the Apple Store.  Then I saw a commercial comparing the iPad Air with a  Surface from Microsoft.  It was a Microsoft add so it always won.  It had something that caught my eye though--a stylus that allows drawing, editing, etc.  I figured that it was like the Palm of old that also promised the same but did not deliver.


Then during Christmas Shopping at the Mall, I happened onto the Microsoft Store which has just opened across from Apple.  After playing for a while, I was hooked on the Surface.  It is a laptop with the same power as my MacBook AND a Tablet that I can sketch with and email.  


The Pro 3 did not come with 4G so I went to ATT and rearranged my business account and purchased a HOT SPOT. With that both the Surface and the iPad can send and receive anywhere. AND it handles 10 devices at a time with 15 meg speed. So family vacations take a new twist.

I am still learning but it has been great so far.

I have Surfaced!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Leadership thoughts

"The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and will to carry on." Walter Lippmann

"Leadership is the ability to get men to do what they didn't want to and like it."  Harry Truman


Another Bird Movie: Mockingjay


Finally made it the see "Hunger Games, Mockingjay Part 1". As Harry Potter did, they divided the last book into two movies.  This way they can explore deeper (into my pockets).  This is a good movie and does a good visual job showing the war that comes after the games.  The book so gave such rich mental images that the movies can only get close. But very entertaining.

Not much more to say.  I give it ***stars. 2014 Movie 49.

P.S. Sad to see Phillip Seymour Hoffman's last movie.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My Worlds Collide: Birdman




Ok, so I wrote the post below about parenting and then went to the movies.  We went to see "Birdman" in the Big City (it's an independent film). The movie stars Michael Keaton, Zach Galifanakas, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts and more.

My first collision was the dialogue between Keaton (Birdman) and his daughter played by Emma Stone.  He admits to being a bad Father  for always being away working in the movies and she agrees.  They must have read my blog!

The second crazy thing needs set-up:  I rant a lot about how everyone wants to see super hero movies and great dramas  and black comedies (Birdman) get little notice. Dialogue movies loose to action flicks. This is why I go to Tulsa to see the movies I like.  "Birdman" is about an actor, Keaton, who has starred in 3 blockbuster movies, Birdman, Birdman 2 and Birdman 3, that made billions.  He refused to make a 4th version and instead the story starts with him directing and starring in a Broadway play.  He is only know for the superhero and NO one takes him for a serious actor.

This is a complex movie told in an unusual way with scene cuts and fades that keep the story moving.  There are many plots going on and the play being made is extremely similar to the main story.  His alter-ego, Birdman, haunts his thoughts and he is faced with little support except from his best friend and attorney, Galifanakas.


Extremely well written and acted.  You may not see it but it will be in all the oscar talk. Possible many awards here.

It is ***** stars but probably PG50 (younger people won't see it). It is really R for profanity.  Keaton and Norton wear "tight-whiteys" more than the guy on "Breaking Bad".

2014 Movie # 48

Parenting 2014

I am constantly amazed with the people that I see on FACEBOOK, at church and in the community give comments about how Baby Boomers were/are bad parents. A FACEBOOK post by a Christian that I respect had this post:  "How baby boomers ruined parenting forever: "A good parent is said to "provide" for children. It is no longer enough to simply love them. Love is the sidebar to achievement, an insufficient defense against an unyielding future. That is the cruelest legacy of the helicopter parent, one that will endure long after the smoke has cleared."

I sent a response as follows: "If you think we Baby Boomers were bad parents, you should have witnessed our parents. It would put things in perspective to have parents from the depression era!"

NOTE: I have never and don't plan to start telling others how to parent.  I never thought I was very good at it because one of the things I was taught early that messed me up was that: MY JOB WAS TO WORK AND PROVIDE.

I AND OTHER BOOMERS DID NOT INVENT THAT IDEA.

We were taught it by our parents generation who had survived a Depression, World War II, and the Korean War.  As for my situation, my parents had 10th grade educations. My dad worked 2 jobs his whole life and found time to be Mayor and an Elder.  My Mother worked most of her life and also worked on the Election Board and found time to help with Cub Scouting.

The other day  after telling my Mother about our day going to the Grandson's football games, she commented that her and dad never came to my little league baseball games.  I commented that I would ride my bike across town to the ball field and get in the back of a pick-up with 10 others kids and go 20 miles to a game at night.  (That started at 8 years old.)  They did watch me play football in high school but did not come to basketball or baseball games. 

Kids like me did not have a lot of training about the future or families. We were taught to work. I started mowing lawns as soon as I could handle a mower. By ten years old I mowed about 4 yards a week. At 14 I was working summers at the local Canning Company loading trucks!  I also had a paper route and worked for the Chamber collecting tickets from local businesses for the weekly drawing downtown.

When college came, it was up to me.  As was most things.  Sure, I knew I was loved, but I was raised where the words not said and kisses and hugs were not witnessed.

I might also add that being in the first TV generation was a major factor. It was my parent's generation that showed us and told us kids all the things that "we could not live without."  AND when we asked for them our parents said, "Go to work."

Naturally when time came to have kids, we wanted  them to have it easier!

So when people accuse our group of being bad parents, I won't disagree. WE didn't have a chance.

P.S. This is especially on my mind today since my first child died on this date in 1979. 
She would 41



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Quote

"Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God's will."      Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Bonhoeffer

 Just finished reading the biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  I have always respected him and his great writings about his beliefs and teachings. But this book gave me the big picture of his life. I even learned how to pronounce his name. His story is amazing in that it shows German Christianity during its darkest hours of Hitler and World War 2.  I discovered things that shocked me all over again. I also followed the life of a man who stood for his GOD, his Family, His beliefs and what is right.

I recommend this work.

Interstellar




Okay, Christopher Nolan is one of my favorite directors.  He did "Inception" and "Memento" and so he does challenge me. You cannot take his stories for granted, Even his Batman trilogy was not ordinary super hero stuff.

"interstellar" is a modern day version of the dust bowl.  America is a large dust bowl. Everyone is in survival mode. NASA has gone underground.  So we slowly meet a diverse cast of small town farmers, space scientists and former astronauts.   The movie stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, Topher Grace, Michael Cain, and John Lithgow. WOW!

Lets go save the planet or maybe life in general!

Watch closely because Mr. Nolan has tricks up his sleeve.  Fun movie. Wild Graphics. Surprise end.

See it in IMAX. I wish I had.

I give it ***1/2 stars. 2014 movie #47