Saturday, January 31, 2015

Theory of Everything

By watching "Theory of Everything" today I have now seen all Best Picture Nominees, all but one Best Actor, all but two Best Actress, all but one best Supporting Actor, and all best Supporting Actress.  Today's movie was a treat: Great acting, Great story.  Let's face it the story of Stephen Hawking is fascinating. Eddie Redmayne mastered all the mannerisms and features of the real person that has been widely seen through the years.  He did a great job and will be one to beat. The Oscars like actors who portray handicaps  and "NAILED IT!"

The actress, Felicity Jones,  who played his wife did a great job as well. Stories like this reminds us that life behind the headlines is equal to the little that we know about Famous People.  This also shows us the tragedy of Lou Gehrig's disease.

I give it ****1/2 stars   2015 Movie #9

I got Whiplash!

Finally got to see "Whiplash". It is an astounding story of dealing with pressure, drive and proving merit.  The story pits an aspiring drummer studying at a renown music school with a tyrannical instructor who demanded perfection while using methods that a Marine drill sergeant would find harsh.  This is a tense, tense well acted movie. J.K. Simmons should get Best Supporting Actor for this.  

Having majored in a subject where the professors intentionally try to weed out the students, I understood this story.

Note: If foul language bothers, you will not survive this movie. If condescending language and politically incorrect talk offends, stay away.  The Instructor humiliates, condemns, belittles and totally messes with students' minds.  This is the music version of "Seal Training".

It is great directing, acting and story-telling.  There is a truth in this story that while "over-the-top" exists in many facets of life.

I give this ****stars. 2015 movie #8


Recently I set through a talk by a professor who stated that one can not set through a two hour R- rated movie without affecting our brains,  He was mainly talking about movies that he considered pornographic or debase. On one level I understand his point: If you go to stimulate yourself and be a voyeur, I can see that. A movie is not bad or debase because it is an "R".  It is bad when it has no merit.  There have been many movies based on Bible Stories that I don't find fit to watch, but it's because it is a bad movie.

I agree that an R-rated movie will impact the brain.  If it is good it may have a profound effect.

I saw one of them last night!

Saturday, January 24, 2015


In the summer of 1964 my parents and I drove to Tampa,Florida to see my brother and his wife. I was    a senior to be in high school.  We drove through the south (before interstate highways) on two lane roads. We were about 20 miles south of the famous Selma March when the events of this movie happened. I remember listening to the news and my Mother worrying that we might get "mixed-up" in this. I also remember seeing billboards along the way stating that Martin Luther King Jr. was a Communist!  We would stop at diners along our drive only to find big Racks of KKK handouts and signs that degraded Blacks.  As a boy from Oklahoma that grew up in Segregation, I was still shocked. I had not been exposed to this depth of hatred.

The movie, "Selma"  is a great movie in its retelling of the times.  It is excellently acted and the drama is first class.  It is emotional for good reason.  My disappointment is the rewriting of history to make LBJ look like the bad guy. History shows him to be one of King's allies and it was LBJ who freely butted with George Wallace and sent in Federal Troops.  While the movie is certainly more dramatic in its telling, truth would have served as well.

It is a worthy movie though and I give it ***1/2 stars.  2015 movie #7

Friday, January 23, 2015

Mortdecai or Pink Panther 2015

Take an awkward little man in a moustache give him a deep accented language (this time British) and make him bumbling and half crazy:  You either have the new movie "Mortdecai" or the old movie series Pink Panther featuring Inspector Clouseau.   The results are similar.

It is interesting that Rotten Tomatoes gives this movie an 8 out of 100 and the critics hate it.  I will say again that critics want comedies to be biting and almost perverse to be considered funny.  This movie is a throwback to the 1970's.  It is silly on purpose. AND it is fun. It is not rocket science either.  It is "R" rated because they wanted it to be (hence two f Bombs placed in very forgettable ways to earn the R). Otherwise it would be PG.

The recurring Gag scenes between Johnny Depp and Gwyneth Paltrow were great.

Good popcorn movie: **3/4 stars.  2015 movie#6

Sunday, January 18, 2015

American Sniper

As one reviewer said, this is an anti-war movie and a  pro-war movie. "American Sniper" is the true story of Chris  Kyle, the number one sniper in U.S. Military history.  It is also about what someone sometimes gives up for a passion.  Clint Eastwood directed this excel;;went movie about a real American hero.  The hero term gets lost in our society because  anyone who does what they agreed to do is a hero if it frightens the rest of us. Bradley Cooper is great in the title role which is Oscar worthy.  The Movie is hard "R" because it is a hard story. Nothing is timid. Nothing is restrained.

It deserves your attention.

I give it ****1/2 stars. 2015 movie #5

Friday, January 16, 2015

Trisha and the Hyper Dude

We were Garthed the other night. We scored tickets to the Garth Brooks Experience (Their Advertising). Garth is playing 7 shows in Tulsa and we went to the fifth.  It was great fun and he is totally hyper.  He sings almost 30 songs and has a techno stage worthy of U2.  Garth is one of the few entertainers that takes arena rock and combines it with country in a good way. 

There are acts like Jason Aldean that are backed by spiked-hair guitar player and a rock drummer. Jason wears a work hat , plaid shirt, and torn jeans to sing about getting drunk at bonfires.  Garth's band has seasoned players with fiddle, steel guitar, electric, keyboards, etc. and they can do rock, cowboy, country or slow ballads.

Now for the best country performance of just good country music, that would be George Strait. Garth is in the entertainment business: George on Steroids and LSD!

BUT: The best singer of the evening was Trisha Yearwood.  She truly has one of the top female voices in music. She only sung about four songs. I needed four more from her.

2015 concert #1   ****star

Taken, Again

Went to see "Selma" the other night, but the theater showing it was out of service. Needing a movie we opted for a "Guilty Pleasure".  Revenge movies starring Laim Neeson are fun. So: Yes I enjoyed "Taken 3" which is a good popcorn movie with chase scenes and fights and shooting.  These movies don't have to make sense (any more than John Wayne shooting 30 shoots with a six-shooter).

The problem with revenge movies involving the family is that it requires someone to revenge. He is loosing family members. However, at the end of the movie, he gets a new grand daughter.  Even though they say this is the last one. I smell Taken 4.

I give it **3/4 stars. 2015 movie #4

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Zoe, our beloved Dachshund, was with us almost 17 years. Last Friday, January 9, we took her to the Vet for the last time. 

I must say first, that for many years since the death of our Daughter, I have not been one to call the death of a pet: "the loss of a family member" for it is not near that kind of loss.  Saying that this was a sad and struggling loss.  We knew her quality of life was shrunk to eat, sleep and use the bathroom. She had lost control of most things. She was down in her back. She had for the last four years a large growth on her chest, her eyes were failing and she could not year well.  These conditions led her to be fearful of being picked-up or picked-on. 

On New Year's eve Carol took her out to let her do her business and while carrying her inside, ZOE bit Carol resulting in 2 stitches, a badly swollen face and infection. Some of the later was because of bad medical advice.

Since we had already been facing the idea that ZOE's days were limited, this event changed everything.  The grand kids love ZOE and have not seen the changes as we  have.  The thought of one of them getting in ZOE's face for a kiss and receiving possible severe bites was scary and troubling.

So we decided to give Zoe peace.

For you that don't know me: I am a Cat person  or was!  When we got  Zoe as a pup in 1998, we had just moved to town and our Daughter wanted a companion.  I kept a distance at first since we had a cat, but soon the dog and cat merged into a great team. Toby the cat taught Zoe to climb on the back of furniture, play and chase.  Toby died at 15 years (about 5 years ago) and Zoe won me over.

As a dog owner, much could be said but it isn't necessary. Zoe will be missed by the Grand kids and all of us.

I recently had a theological discussion with Grandson Avery and agreed with him that Dogs will be with us in heaven (recalling that Revelation mentions horses, etc.)

So out of character for me, I will just say: "ZOE, I'll see you in heaven with the rest of the family."

Thursday, January 8, 2015


It's strange to go "Into The Woods"

I was needing a movie, but I wanted a Good Movie.  "Into The Woods" was the highest rated movie in our area that we have not seen. I knew that it was based on a Broadway Musical and that should have been a warning flag. BUT look that the cast: Meryl Strep, Johnny Depp.. wow!

From the start I loved the way they too several Children's stories such as Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and  Jack and the Beanstalk and wove them into a seamless tale.  This movie started great. In the Movie's defense it was listed just over two hours.  I give the first hour ***stars.  I can't rate the last half because after an hour and a half, we left.  I didn't care anymore and the songs became so forced. It is not "Frozen" and certainly not "Fiddler".  It seemed to be a way to introduce new gowns to sell little girls.

No Wait: While we were waiting to see this Disney movie about Cinderella, the previews were of a new coming Disney Movie about: Cinderella!  They also showed another preview "Tomorrowland" which just happens to be an area in the Magic Kingdom in Orlando.

2015 Movie #3

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Experimental Theology: My 2015 Wish for the Progressive Christian Interne...

This link is a post on Experimental Theology that continually bothers me.  How do we wealthy Christians (any one reading this) deal with those that are losing in the income game.

Sometimes our response to giving is to allow things like "online giving".  Put it on the CARD!  IF you have a card and IF you have money to back it up!  Online giving is good for the top of the food chain. But I degress: I still believe that going forward the church must start reaching out to those among us that can not cope.  If we don't want the government to use our taxes, we must use the wealth that God has loaned us.

Experimental Theology: My 2015 Wish for the Progressive Christian Interne...: Over at Slate Jordan Weissmann nominates the graph above as the "Best Graph of 2014" documenting "The Rise and Rise of t...

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Imitation of a Movie

I am so glad that we haven't started a war over such a mindless "piece of crap" called "The Interview".  Being my curious self I did decide the watch this movie. For the record I was not expected much, but in fact I was still expecting more than I got.  The are two ways to see this. First: Find a theater that shows it. Second:  Rent it. Their is a third and preferred way though: Ignore it!

We decided to rent it and made it through the opening scene( 5 minutes). We shut it off.  Two days later I reconsidered and thought: :We payed for it so we should finish it.  I went back to the movie and hit play and a caption popped up and said that we had 34 minutes left.  I thought it meant 34 minutes to get it going. 34 minutes later the movie stopped and the screen said that we would have to re-rent to continue.  I felt great about stopping.

This movie was probably a contest to see who could use the F Word the most along with who many gross references can we have to oral sex, sex in general and body parts.  

I am in agreement with the North Koreans! Sony should be penalized.

If changed to PG and edited it is at best a bad Three Stooges tale,

Don't come to me and say: "But Mike it had a neat ending, after it settled down."  How Cares?

This is a bad imitation game played out to the gullible public.  I am sure that this is a darling movie for the Young Hip Crowd.  There are benefits in being older.

No stars for this.  2015 Movie #2  (I paid for it I count it.)

The Imitation Game

Benedict Cumberbatch is a crazy name for an actor. It sounds like a cartoon Character. But he is one fine actor. Through the years I have seen several stories concerning the "Enigma Machine" used by the Nazis in WW2 to send info to the troops, but this is the best so far. "The Imitation Game" tells three stories:

1. How a group of "Brains" helped MI6 British Intelligence break the codes of the Enigma Machine

2. The story of a  real working computer created to solve a critical problem that humans alone could not due.

3. The life of the leader, Alan Turing, is told in three different times. His life as a child; This Famous Event; and His life after the war.   No matter how you feel about homosexuals, our inhumanity to our fellow travelers as revealed in this film, will give you much to consider.

This story is excellently told and acted including a great performance by Keira Knightly, who is becoming a favorite.

It felt good to start the year with a good movie.  I give it ****stars out of five.

2015 Movie #1

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Reflections on 2014

The year started just ok.  I did not get a good reaction from my boss for my part in the firm. SO-O-O-O-O I resigned and started my own architectural firm. Made the decision in April and pulled the trigger in June. And I have been happy ever since.

In our church fellowship it has been a sad year and a transitional year. Of the five elders that I served with in the leadership at the end of 2013, only I remain.  The biggest loss was the death of Charlie Cook who was a mentor, ultimate shepherd, good friend of 40 years and great example of a christian businessman. The whole left by him is not replaceable by one man but maybe six. We are 'looking for them.  Our church group needs to reach the younger members better and in a more relevant manner. That is the work of this new year.

Our family is in good shape health wise and the grandkids continue to be a delight.  Our kids are excelling in their jobs and preparing for bigger things to come.  At Christmas we announced that the entire family will spend a week in Florida this year since the grand kids are a good age for Disney.

It was a great last six months all things considered, but the best is yet to come.

Favorite Big Concert:  The Eagles in Houston
Favorite Smaller Venue Concert: Alan Jackson at Hard Rock & John Fulbright in Muskogee
Favorite Movies were listed already, but best surprise was "Begin Again" because that's what I am doing.
Favorite Books: Fiction: Stephen King's "Mr. Mercedes" and "a Good Marriage"
Non-Fiction: Robert Fulghum's  "What On Earth Have I Done"
Favorite Sports Event: Taking the Grandsons to an OSU Football Game
Favorite Trip: IKEA trip for office furniture
New Music:  Rediscovering Bill Withers and Jerry Lee Lewis
TV: Completing "Breaking Bad" awesome; The end of "Newsroom"  and "Fargo" Bummer and the end of "Colbert Report" double bummer (Where will I get my news?)