Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 revisited

Favorite Trip: Disney World

Favorite Movie: Love & Mercy

Favorite Concert: Paul Thorn at the Hanger , Chris Stapleton at the Hanger
Favorite Book: The Wright Brothers

Favorite TV show:  FARGO 2

Less Traveled Roads

Mike's Favorite Movies

If you read my drivel you know that I rate movies from one to five stars based on the following:

1.  Did I like it.
2.  Did it move me emotionally.
3.  Is it entertaining, historical or thought-provoking.
4.  Was it creative and well crafted.

I could care less what the movie ratings or critics say (although I read them). Most critics judge by is it a new idea. Critics also don't like comedies unless they are extremely controversial.  I haven't seen all the movies either so this can't be a years 10 best.  BTW I didn't want to see many of the movies critics liked!

Here are my ***** star movies in alphabetical order:

Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Hateful 8
Love & Mercy
Steve Jobs

My ****1/2 star movies that could be ***** star are

Theory of Everything (from 2014, did not see until 2015)

Other movies with special merit ****star were

Spy, American Ultra, Still Alice, Paper Towns, Ex Machina, and Intern


Hateful Eight

Disclaimer:  This is NOT a recommendation because I don't want to be responsible for any sudden need to shoot people, or pound people with profanities, or otherwise cause immoral behavior.  If you are easily offended, leave this discussion.

We went to our last movie of the year last night and saw "The Hateful 8".  "Magnificent 7" it is not. The guys in that movie wouldn't last pass the credits.  I have been wanting to see this since first reading of it so I was NOT surprised. If you like any of Tarantino movies (think Dajango) you will like this.  His movies are bloody, funny, revolting, sarcastic, and very real.

Tarantino surrounds his cast with people that he has history with him and that can go with the flow. There is much dialogue and for the most part could be a stage play. Most of the nearly three hour movie thanks place in one room. Hateful 8 is his 8th movie because he takes much time with the story and the details. His attention to small details and moments that add so much texture to the story.

As two the story, the beginning where we meet the actors is classic and filled with humor.  As some have said,there is some "Blazing Saddles" in this as well as some drama, some mystery and some action.  Yes, there are bloody scenes but not as much as I expected.  There is extreme profanity but it almost seemed to be necessary for the situation. There was one short scene of immoral acts between men that I could have done without but it was designed to shock. It worked!

I laughed like a kid through much of this over the top story. Maybe this is a character scar but it was a lot of fun.  

For me it is one of the year's best. *****

2015 movie #63

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


"Concussion" is a powerful movie from the start. This is a well crafted true story of the Concussion problem in football centering on the NFL. Will Smith is great in the role of  Dr. Bennet Omalu who uncovered the cause of death in several athletes.  He is superb.  Great story with great cast: Alec Balwin, David Morse, Paul Reiser, Luke Wilson, Gugu Mbatha and Albert Brooks.

This is a great movie. ***** stars

2015 Movie 62

Joy at the movies

The movie "Joy" opened with a scene of little Joy using paper to make fences, houses etc. as she imagined a life of creativity. The scene changes to adult Joy working like crazy to be caregiver to her estranged parents, ex-husband and kids. Joy is NOT a joyful story. It has humor but it is about a serious person on her own without help from anyone.  It is also the true story of a determined lady who became a success after battling almost everyone. Jennifer Lawrence is great.

I know when I am seeing great acting when I was getting mad watching her dad (Robert DeNiro) ridicule her.

Yes, this has a happy ending, but getting there is the real story.

I give it ****1/2 stars     2015 Movie #61

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Star Wars Part 2

Saw it again with the whole family. That was a major logistical undertaking.

But it is 2015 Movie # 60

Friday, December 25, 2015

The Big Short

Sometimes I go to the movies and actually learn something. It is usually seen something new or seeing history explained.  "The Big Short" schooled me on the housing bust that caused the economy to tank in 2008. They even pull over and park during the movie and use famous people to use analogies to explain the story.  The cast is exceptional and the story is riveting. Seeing Steve Carell in a serious role was cool, too. He is good.

The Big Short tells the story of how three groups of investors figure out that the housing market was propped up by bad loans based on variable rate mortgages which would kick in in 2007.  They basically bet the mortgage companies that things would go bad.  Which it did.

This movie is both exciting and depressing. Depressing because you see that no one was ever held accountable. (Think of Bernie Sanders current comments)

It is a hard R because of the constant use of the F word.  But in the story it somehow fits!

Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt and Marissa Tormei make this a great movie based on the book by Michael Lewis.

Yes it is *****star in my book.

2015 movie #59

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Force Awakens

The title of the new Star wars movie has several meanings.

"The Force Awakens" is the Newest Star Wars movie after the three prequels. We are now up to date in a galaxy far, far away. Simply, us Star Wars fans are very satisfied, Great story, great characters and great fun. It lets us know what happened to our old favorite cast and introduces us to the new ones that will carry on from here. It is far easier to change the Star Wars cast than it is to change  James Bond.

Also awakened is Disney Studios who now owns the Star Wars franchise having paid Lucas 4 Billion.  They will make half of it back just on this movie and merchandise.

Star Wars is the ultimate movie entertainment appealing to all ages while mixing the plots of romance, westerns, war movies and space with a side of humor.

Several people on Facebook proudly state that they have never seen any of the Star Wars movies.
I feel sorry for such snobs.

I give it **** stars  2015 movie #58

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Experimental Theology: The Imagination of Peace

Experimental Theology: The Imagination of Peace: Last summer when we were traveling in the UK the question I was asked over and over again about the US was this: What's up with all ...

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

In the Heart of the Sea

The movie this time is "In the Heart of the Sea", the new Ron Howard movie.

The reviewers don't like it (Rotten Tomatoes gave it 41%). I read the reviews and it seems that the whaling business is not for them but they did like the special effects.

I however thought the previews told me what to expect. It is about hunting for whales on the high seas in small boats in a time when they were without benefit of radar etc. since they were only a few years beyond thinking the world was flat.

The movie is harrowing with shipwrecks, storms, lost at sea, and a giant whale who doesn't want to be bothered.  This is a story behind the novel "Moby Dick" that was the basis for Melville's writing.

I enjoyed it movie for what it was.  That was one mean whale!

I give it ***stars. 2015 movie 57

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Experimental Theology: Just Pray

Experimental Theology: Just Pray: The recently released ad from the Just Pray initiative from the Church of England .

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Cartoon fix

What am I?

I am being told to hate Muslims.
I am being told to buy guns and train to use them like a militia.
I am being told to build walls to keep those not like me out.
I am being taught that we only are God's chosen.

I must be an Israeli.  
They do all this!

BUT I follow Jesus

I am to love all.
I am to be a peacemaker.
I am to seek those I can help including strangers.
I am the luckiest person alive because God loves me anyway!

I'm just saying that I am disappointed in the false message that I see my Brothers buying into that and showing Christianity with  a dim, dim candle.  

The only current politician that talks more like Jesus and professes Jesus is believed by many I know to be a Muslim who of course MUST be hated.  He is leading America to doom and he wants to get rid of guns and he is meek and he only has about a year left.  After he leaves we will see him in a different light. Currently it is a dim, dim candle that we use to view reality.


Modern Times

Modern Times was written by the futurist, David Zach.

He makes these statements:

"Children take the messages from the world today and will reflect them back in words, deeds and beliefs. Children are the message we send to the future. What have we been trying to say?"

Modern Times

Nothing can wait,
nothing can last,
nothing can satisfy.

No one can be unhappy,
no one can be judged,
no one can be trusted.

Nothing is hidden,
nothing is certain,
nothing is forbidden.

Everything is a need,
everything is a choice,
everything is possible.

Monday, December 7, 2015


I needed a good movie and I found a great one.

"Trumbo" starring Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) and with Diane Lane, Louie C. K., John Goodman and Helen Mirren was marvelous. This is the true story of a movie screenwriter who got caught up the labor strikes in the 1940's and was a member of the communist party because of basic beliefs and not beliefs in overthrow, etc.  He was not only black-listed but served a time in prison for "Contempt of Congress" when he refused to testify before the House on Un-American Activities.  The story shows how he and his fellow writers were shut out of work by people like John Wayne. One scene shows him talking to Wayne about the fact that Trumbo was a veteran of WW2 while John Wayne only made war movies!

Trumbo continued to write under assumed names and even one an Oscar for "Roman Holiday" that he could not receive.  His later movies included "Spartacus" and "Exodus".

The movie reminds us that patriotism taken to the extreme is as evil as what patriots are against.

This is a powerful movie.

2015 Movie #56  I give it ***** stars

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Secret

"Secret in Their Eyes" is one of those surprises that come every once in a while.  You see the trailer for the film and think: Wow, this is a great cast, but I'm not comfortable with the story."  Then it gets so-so reviews and I put it off. Finally I revisit the cast and say: "What the heck."  I go see it.

First thing: The trailer (preview) is shown completely out of sequence and I realized that most things that I had guessed about the movie were wrong. The pace and story unfolds differently and though I still thought I was following it, I didn't figure it out until one of the characters did.


O loved to be fooled at the movies!

Not telling you anything else! Be surprised.  Julia Roberts is great!

2015 Movie #55  I give it ***1/2 stars

Monday, November 30, 2015


Last week I visited my old church home. When I designed the worship space for this church in 1985, I was envisioned to soon be filled and overflowing. When the new facility opened it seated 3,500 people (counting the balcony). 2,500 in the round on the main level and another 1,000 up stairs. When new, attendance ran 1,500 a week including 800 from the bus program. There were 27 buses in use. Twice a year at special events the building was full.  It was a successful and growing church that the Tulsa area knew much about.

Last Sunday was another story. The attendance is now 100!

The church facility and 35 acres has been to the school district for the site of elementary campus.

The Church family will relocate to a private school campus where they will rent space.

Not all dreams and visions end well.

Love The Coopers

When I first saw the preview for "Love the Coopers" I thought it to be a Christmas fluff movie: fun, shallow and entertaining. I kept putting it off for the bigger movies. Yesterday, we went to see it and: It is NOT Fluff!  This well written movie of the Cooper family coming home for Christmas. Four generations under one roof and a story for every family member. It is an all-star cast.  The stories include first kiss, sibling rivalry, potential divorce, dead-end jobs, no jobs, and not having a good relationship.  All this has elements of fun mixed with reality and angst.

It gives anyone much to consider.

2014 movie #54  I give it *** 1/2 stars out of five.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Quotes on the Less Traveled Road

"There is a point at which everything becomes simple and there is no longer any question of choice, because all you have staked will be lost if you look back. Life's point of no return."

Dag Hammarskjold

Holiday Movies

When Holiday movies arrive there is something for everyone.

The Hunger Games series came to an end in a way similar to Harry Potter: Divide the last book into two parts. "Mockingly part 2" is just that.  Since I read the books a few years back, the last movie was a little fresher even though I knew the result.  It was a good enough movie but glad its over.

2015 movie #52  I give it **1/2 stars

We took our granddaughter to see "The Good Dinosaur" and although it is a kid's movie (meaning the  Dad dinosaur dies like Lion King) the story is for adults.  At the beginning of the story a giant meteor is heading for the earth but misses, leaving the dinosaurs alive. the premise is that the dinosaurs take the human role and the human, a little boy named Spot, takes on the animal(dog) role.  From there the movie is basically a western with varmints, rustlers, and cattle drives.  Not sure if this was inventive or lazy!

2015 movie#53  I give it **1/2 stars

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

There's Burnt and also Burnt Out!

I've see two movie in the last week. One movie was  "Spectre" the latest James Bond flick and the other was "Burnt".

Since high school when me and my two friends stood in a two block line at the Circle Theater in Tulsa to see "Goldfinger" on Christmas night, I have seen them all. From "Doctor No" to "Spectre"; from good James Bonds to bad ones, form cartoon-like stories to intense ones like the current Daniel Craig ones.  Along comes "Spectre" and James Bond is BURNT OUT.  It is an okay story with the super villain that wants to control the world and there is a Bond girl and he still drinks martinis.  But as Mr. Craig has said to the press, he wants out. It shows in the movie.  It is a good popcorn movie but not memorable.

As a movie I give it **1/2 stars. 2015 Movie #50

"Burnt" on the other hand was very good. Iy may be because I like food movies and Bradley Cooper, but it came at a time that I needed a movie about someone who screwed up and is trying to re-build their place in the business. The chef, Cooper, is a guy who grew to be one a the top chefs in Paris but wasted it away with booze, drugs and arrogance.  We don't see this part but get the drift quickly. We watch the labor and sweat while he gets rid of demons and changes into the person he could be.

Great Movie but you will leave wanting to cook something. Great cast as well.

I give it ***1/2 stars. 2015 movie #51

Friday, November 6, 2015

George Barris

I discovered George Barris at 9 years old. My brother bought hot rod magazines in the 1950's and I would look at them. The custom cars and street rods fascinated me and led me to model cars. Which in turn led me to building my own custom "model" cars using the kits that I could buy. Soon I was buying parts and parts of kits directly from the factory and my fate as a designer had began.

George Barris was known as the King of custom cars. My hero. Almost every car that you have seen in TV shows and many movies were designed by him. From the Batmobile to General Lee; From the A-team van to the Munster's coach;  he was the man.

By high school had had almost 100 cars on display in my bedroom.  This talent served my well in College where I used a model 18-wheeler in my thesis project.

No more talk. Here are the things that inspired me.