Wednesday, May 31, 2006


It seems that, since we are done with school, Cindy and I are much more relaxed about the time that the girls go to bed. So, last night, around 8:00, I happened by Megan's door. Both girls were on the bed, and Katie was dramatically reading "The Berenstein Bears Get The Gimmies" to Megan. Later, Cindy told me that both girls said their nighttime prayers together and then exchanged a stuffed animal.

"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted..." Eph 4:32

Monday, May 29, 2006

15 Reasons Why I Should Turn Off My TV

A good friend of mine showed me this list of 15 reasons why I should turn off my TV. I agree with what is said in the article, and have been noticing that it has only gotten worse, according to a study that came out this week. In that article it summarized:

"According to the study, today's 70 percent of TV shows that include sexual content average 5.0 sexual scenes per hour, as compared to the 64 percent of shows in 2002 that had sexual content and that averaged 4.4 sexual scenes per hour. The contrast is even sharper with the 1998 figures -- 56 percent of shows and 3.2 sexual scenes per hour."

Recut Trailers

Have you ever seen the family film "The Shining?" Or, what about the Zombie Flick "West Side Story?" No, well, I have a collection of trailers where scenes have been cut together to make films appear to belong to a different Genre.

Recut Film List

Word of caution, the "10 Things I Hate About Commandments" drops an F-Bomb in the "Samuel Jackson as the Burning Bush" section.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Review: X-Men: The Last Stand

Before I tell you about this movie, you must know that I never read the source material, which may explain why I have never really liked any of the X-Men movies, including this one. With the exception of Superfriends and the late 80s Justice League of America (which was itself a parody of grouped superheroes), I have never liked "leagues." I would much prefer to see Jack Hughman star as Wolverine in a movie about Wolverine. This movie is about many superheroes and supervillians (lots), so it is difficult to have so many A list characters and develop a story about them where you genuinely care about the character. Since Wolverine was the primary focus of the first two films, I thought that this outing was going to focus on Scott Summers (Cyclops), but I was wrong. Then I thought it was going to be about Jean Grey (Phoenix), but, again, wrong. Angel? Nope. It wasn't about a movie, but a goal. A drug has been found that will allow the X Gene to be isolated, and reverses the mutation that it causes. This leads to interesting weapons for the military. Magneto and company see the potential threat and decide to strike first. It is up to the X-Men to try and stop them.

Hats off to Kelsey Grammer as the Beast. Cindy and I had no idea he was in the movie and was knocking our heads together to try and figure out who owned that familiar voice. I love to see an actor come into a genre that he is not known for.

X-Men: The Last Stand is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action violence, some sexual content and language. I would strongly urge parents of young children to see the film first. Mystique (the blue lady) reveals a lot more skin this time around, and the entire gamut of language is thrown around.

As posted on Good Coffee, there is a super secret scene at the end of the film, so, stick around.


Fourteen years ago yesterday, Cindy and I stood before the Justice of the Peace in Panama City Florida and said "I do." It was a short affair, witnessed by two of my class mates at follow on school. The couple that had just been married looked really young, and the couple after us smelled of bourbon. Because the Air Force does not recognize fiances when it comes to dependents, and I wanted us to fly out together to Okinawa, I married my best friend two months earlier than I had anticipated.

Friday, May 26, 2006

My Linguistict Profile

Many have told me that I often come off without my native southern accent. You can definitely see the influence my Yankee wife has had on me!

Your Linguistic Profile:
55% General American English
20% Dixie
15% Yankee
5% Upper Midwestern
0% Midwestern

Lost Finale

If you have not seen the finale of Lost and are planning to watch it later, please read after you have seen it.

This week, many of my favorite shows (24, Lost and American Idol) have concluded their seasons with big finales. I am glad that Taylor won American Idol. I was upset that Jack was left in danger in 24 and we have to wait until January of 2007 to find out what happens. But, Lost has had me thinking over the past two days.

It was that last scene with Michael. Michael has done some very bad things this season: killed Ana Lucia and Libby; lead Hurley, Kate, Jack and Sawyer to captivity and apparently let the leader of the Others go. But in the end, the Others give Walt back to Michael, along with a boat and a heading that will allow them to escape the island. As Walt and Michael pull away from the dock in the boat, there is a shot of Jack, Kate and Sawyer, bound, gagged and on their knees. It looks almost like they are about to shot in the back of the head. For a brief moment, their eyes connect with Michaels.

You really despise Michael. And here is what has been swimming in my head since Wednesday: what would I do, and how far would I go, to get my daughters back? I keep coming back to the realization that I have absolutely no idea of what I would do, what lines I would cross, to save my daughters.

Urban Legend Emails

You know what annoys me? How a wonderful tool like email can be used to spread urban legends! How many emails do I get in a week about some missing child or request for financial opportunity? Once you start realizing that Urban Legends are commonly passed, your Spidey Senses starts to tingle when an email smacks of UL. Typically, a quick google will reveal the UL. I use to reply to the sender with a link and a smug "please check your facts" type of message. But not anymore. But still it annoys me.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Last Day Of School

Today is a half day here at the Bryan Academy of Education and the Fine Arts. It also marks the end of Katie's second grade and Megan's first grade year. I am really proud of both of them for the progress that they have made in both Math and Reading. It was a struggle (7+6), but you made it! Congratulations. I also want to recognize the Teacher of the Year, Cindy. She sacrificed many afternoons and evenings preparing lessons and activities to get the students to this day. Tomorrow, we will have a third party come in to test the girl's knowledge. Last year, we administered a standardized test to track where they were, and this year we wanted to try something different. The summer months will bring math reviews, summer reading programs and letter writing to grandparents.

So, Kids, savor the sweet months of Summer. You deserved it!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Wages and Gifts

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 6:23

One of the gifts that Cindy gave me was a nice leather journal with a snap. It is not the first time that I have received such a gift, and I often use it to write sermon notes, or sparked ideas that may cross my mind during bible study. I particularly like the design of this journal because it incorporates a holder for my ball point pen.

From the sermon this week by Reverend Thorpe, I had written down this verse from Romans. The sermon topic was Hell, and how we Christians have become indifferent to it. Anyone who goes to work understands what a wage is. I go to my job, work forty hours and receive a paycheck every two weeks. That paycheck is the wage that I have earned for my services to the company I work. I also should be paid a wage for the sins that I commit against God: death. I have observed death enough to know that it is the natural conclusion to life. The leather journal with the a snap was a gift that Cindy gave me. I did nothing to earn it, and if I tried to repay Cindy for the journal, would it still be a gift? No, it would be something that I have purchased. Eternal life is a gift that God gives. And It does not mean that I will not die physically, unless the Lord returns before I die.

I think, however, that one should consider the possibility that if the eternal life is life beyond our current context, then the death referred to is also a death beyond the our concept of death. When you wonder "why are Christians so Jesus Happy," it is because his death purchased that gift for us. His death covered the sin that I have committed in the past, and he is faithful to forgive the sins that I will commit today. But, there is a catch: Jesus does not force himself on to anyone (often, we assume that role), but stands at the door and knocks. The individual must open the door.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Forget Hell

Yesterday, we had Jerry Thorpe preaching at Atlantic Shores. His sermon was on Hell, and how we, as Christians have trivialized it by ignoring the reality of Hell. This was not a "fire and brimstone" sermon, but it certainly was a public shaming. Sometimes churches need that. There was a line in the Screwtape letters that essentially stated that making the word "Puritan" a bad word was one of the greatest achievements of Satan. Hell is too familiar on our lips: How the hell are you? What the Hell? I am gonna raise some Hell today! It goes on. It becomes so familiar that it maintains all of the impact that an exclamation mark has on a sentence.

This trivialization dumbs down what Hell is. I know it brings up questions (how can a good God send people to Hell, etc), but to go as far as to think that Hell does not exists, is to remove the need for Jesus. Or, maybe you are like me, and treat Hell like some crazy relative that you don't like to talk about. There is a penalty for breaking the law: get caught speeding, and you pay a penalty. Unforgiven sin reaps a terrible reward, and many Christians forget about this.

If you were at a lake, and there were drowning people in that lake, and you were part of a rescue team , you would use any means at your disposal to save the drowning victims. Unfortunately, if we (Christians) were as concerned with rescuing people from that lake as we are concerned about rescuing souls, what would we see? We would see a nicely cultivated shore line where we have built us a really nice place to enjoy the lake. Meanwhile, we were simply told to rescue the people. That's all. Rescue the people.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Chesapeake Jubilee

When we moved to our current house, we discovered that we had the best seats in Chesapeake for the Jubilee held each year. Our cul-de-sac had a great gathering last night in the circle to get to know each other, have some food, watch the children play and then enjoy the fire works. I tend to be a home body and last night was a great opportunity to get out and reconnect. There was a fantastic feeling of closeness with our neighbors last night, and I am truly blessed with where I live.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi - Quick Review

804 minutes. That's how long it takes to watch all of the Star Wars films. We've been at it since 6:00am, and now we have finished. Megan fell asleep in the last film, but Katie hung in there with me.

As I was watching ROTJ, I remembered that George, Allen and I watched this for my birthday 23 years ago at the Bush River Mall Cinemas (it was still a four plex at the time). Strange that I find myself watching it again on my birthday all these years later. I also remember that Jay and I ditched school in 1986 when it came out on VHS (back then, it took a while for films to get released to tape).

The other thing that I wanted to note was about the use of puppets versus cg. Although the puppet Yoda was terrible in TPM, he was awesome in TESB and ROTJ. In addition, none of the Jabbas ever looked right except for the puppet in ROTJ. Could it be that the real actors had something to interact with? Could it be that the puppets have a weight in the real world that CG just can't duplicate. CG Yoda was well done in AOTC and ROTS, but something was missing...I think it was the life that only the puppeteer brings to the performance. The same with the CG clones versus the actors in the Stormtrooper outfits. I read on IMDB that all the clones in ROTS where CG, and they while they move convincingly, there is something not quite right about them.

It really is difficult comparing the films of the original trilogy to each other. I think they all stand well on there own, or as part of the story arc. You either love or hate the Ewoks, and I definitely never hated them. The Jabba palace scene is an evolution of the Cantina from ANH. I can remember countless times trying to duplicate Luke's flip of the skiff with a diving board (it never worked, and I really messed my finger tips up). It is absolutely amazing to see the Space battle at the end and realize that it is all models and blue screen.

My major peeve with the DVD is the 1997 additions. This includes the new song routine in Jabba's palace as well as a new "Celebration" song at the end. When the DVD was released, Lucas replaced Sebastion Shaw (Anakin) with Hayden Christensen. I am looking forward to my September version when I can get Lapti Nek, Yub Nub and Sebastion Shaw reinstated.

Star Wars Episode V: The Empires Strikes Back - Quick Review

Was I ever wrong when I said that the third act of Episode III was arguably the best ending of the Star Wars Saga. It has nothing on TESB. In fact, I will go on record that this is the best of the series. I will go further and say that it is because of TESB that so many fans were disappointed with the second trilogy. TESB defined Star Wars. Sure, Episode IV introduced us to the SW galaxy, but TESB made the war between the Rebellion and the Empire real.

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope - Quick Review

Rewatching this made me realize why this film turned the movie going world on its ear in 1977 and established itself in our popular culture. Compared to what came in I-III, the story was very simple and honest. I don't think that watching the second trilogy has really altered my viewing, and IV still stands out in a class all by itself. It was a lot of fun to rewatch this.

What I dislike about the version that was released on DVD is what was added to the film in the 1997 release. Much of the computer animation look amateurish when compared to the work in I-III, and I still don't think that it adds to the film. In fact, it detracts because it is so obvious when it happens. The worst offender has to be the establishing shot as they enter Mos Eisley.

So, I am definitely looking forward to owning the version of Star Wars that is coming out in September. Yes, it is going to be a non-frill release, but, I can finally retire my VHS Tapes and Laser Discs.

Now, it's time for dinner break and a trip to Red Robin.

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith - Quick Review

Three movies into the Star Wars Marathon, and man, does ROTS pack an emotional punch. This is definitely the best of the "new" Star Wars movies and only slows down to get all of the main characters into their final positions in the 2nd Act. But, once Obi-Wan tells Padme that Anakin has turned to the dark side, it is a roller coaster to the end. The Third Act is arguably the best of the entire series as it completes the second trilogy and establishes the first. I am looking forward to the next three movies because this will be the first time that I have gone straight into the original trilogy after watching the second. I am curious if the second trilogy alters the "feel" of the original now that all of the back story has been revealed.

Red Green Birthday Cake

I had to share my birthday cake with you. Cindy and the Girls went with the "Red Green Show" theme and wrapped my presents with the Handy Man's all purpose tool: duct tape. In addition, the cake was red and green and featured a roll of duct tape.

Keeping with one of Red's Phrases, "If the ladies don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy," my wife still finds me handsome.

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones - Quick Review

We are down 2 films and have four to go. The thing about AOTC is that it is plagued by two very plodding acts. Those acts are just not "fun" and feel like the business end of the movie before you can get to the third act (which absolutely rocks). Does the third act make up for the first two? Absolutely. I start enjoying this film when Anakin and Padme are in the Lars' Tech Dome, and Anakin confesses how he slaughtered the Tuskin Raider camp. He knows that he has done something very wrong, but, there is something very alluring about the power that the dark side offers.

Something that I had not clued in before is that Anakin is to bring Balance to the Force. So, this implies that the Force was once balanced and now is out of whack. I am assuming that this is a balance between the Dark and the Light side, and currently the Dark Side outweighs the Light.

The last battle sequence absolutely rocks. I love the images of the Jedis charging the droids with their lightsabers; the Clone ships descending at the right moment to save the day and Yoda going toe to toe with Dooku.

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace - Quick Review

Just finished watching The Phantom Menace on the Star Wars Marathon. I think that after seven years, I have forgiven the film. When it came out, I enjoyed it, but it wasn't what I was expecting. It could not possibly live up to the hype. It wasn't the like the original films.

There are two things that really jump out at me. First of all, the special effects and CGI is just absolutely amazing. Jurassic Park showed Lucas that the technology had arrived to make his first trilogy, but Phantom Menace is light years ahead of JP in terms of effects. The second thing is that the film was really well cast, but, the dialog is choppy. I use to think that it was bad acting, and that accounted for the cheesy dialog. But let's face it, Star Wars has always had cheesy dialog (Power Converters at Toshe Station, anyone?). However, it's the pacing of the dialog that doesn't seem natural. Take the dinner scene in Anakin's hovel. It seems like it was years between each bit of dialog. It doesn't flow.

Seven years later, watching it at home with the kids, it was a blast. Well, Attack of the Clones is about to start, so, gotta go.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Morts, Einsteins and Elvis...Oh My.

In my career world, there are some who I really think are Rock Stars. One of those is Rhocky Lhotka. I have been to several conferences to hear him, and even had my picture taken with him once upon a time. I have a classic picture of Katie reading one of his books. I came across a Guest Opinion that he has written for the Visual Studio magazine entitled Software is Too Darn Hard. The opinion was adapted from an article on Rhocky's blog.

I tend to not express my opinions about programming too much, but my number one pet peeve is summed up by Lhotka:

Software development is too darn hard. As an industry, we spend more time discussing "plumbing" issues like Java vs .NET or .NET Remoting vs Web Services than we do discussing the design of the actual business functionality itself.

And even when we get to the business functionality, we spend most of our time fighting with the OO design tools, the form designer tools that "help" create the UI, the holes in data binding, the data access code (transactions, concurrency, field/column mapping) and the database design tools.

Does the user care, or get any benefit out of any of this? No. They really don't. Oh sure, we convince ourselves that they do, or that they'd "care if they knew". But they really don't.

Couldn't have said it better.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Watch out for the Big Guy on Skates!

Today I received an early birthday present from my parents: Roller Blades! I sorta knew this was coming, and since I also know that Friday is pretty much filled up, I went ahead and opened them. I haven't been on skates since the last time I went to a skating rink (say, around 1979) and never on roller blades. So, with some fear and trepidation, I put them on (along with the wrist guards) and received helpful instructions from the Munchkins. I did OK on the patio. After church, I donned the equipment once again and went out into the cul-de-sac for a few test runs. What a blast! But, try stopping with that break...haven't figured that out yet.

Star Wars Birthday Marathon

I have decided this year, that for my birthday (aka, "The Day Of Chuck"), I would like to spend the day watching a Star Wars Marathon, Episodes I - VI. Here is my tentative schedule for Friday, May 19th.

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace 133 6:00 AM 8:13 AM
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones 142 8:30 AM 10:52 AM 0:17
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith 140 12:00 PM 2:20 PM 1:08
Star Wars 125 2:30 PM 4:35 PM 0:10
Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back 129 6:00 PM 8:09 PM 1:25
Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi 135 8:30 PM 10:45 PM 0:21

It will be a day long remembered. I just wonder if the kids are truly up for it?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Just Wondering... looks like we are going to start to do something about the porous border that we share with Mexico. One of the ideas that I heard being thrown about is a 700 mile long fence. So, I was just wondering, do you think that any illegal immigrants will be hired on the cheap to help build the fence?

Perfect gift for those who like their religion warm and fuzzy

Hey parents and grandparents! Want to give your child a toy that will not only be safe, but send a good message? Then check out the Holy Folks! Give your kids Moses, Mary, Noah or Jesus Plush Toys and watch them play and pray with their new best friend.

The Holy Folks Jesus doll comes complete with a shepard's Staff. His magnetic hands can firmly hold onto the magnetic staff, and also come together in prayer position.

The Holy Folks Mary doll comes complete with baby Jesus doll. Her magnetic hands firmly hold onto the baby Jesus, and also come together in prayer position.

The Holy Folks Noah doll comes complete with 2 Elephants. His magnetic hands can firmly hold onto the magnetic Elephants, and also come together in prayer position.

The Holy Folks Moses doll comes complete with 10 Commandment tablets. His magnetic hands can firmly hold onto the magnetic tablets, and also come together in prayer position.

(seriously, I don’t think these toys are appropriate, and perhaps a bit tawdry)

Two Funny Videos

Have you seen “Darth Vader Calls The Emperor?” Just for the record, does have language and is not kid friendly, but, very funny.

Also, Pepsi and Mentos puts to rest, once and for all, why you should not mix Pepsi and Mentos. This time, it is performed on a live human subject.


Monday, May 15, 2006

Two Reviews: Poseidon and Ice Age 2

Sometimes, it helps to point the expect-o-meter to the low setting before going out to see a movie. That’s exactly where mine was set when I took in a showing of Poseidon this past Saturday at the Dutch Square AMC Theaters. Just the day before, I had read the 1.5 star review of the movie in the State Newspaper, and I almost did not want to go and see it. I am so glad I did.

Once again, I had no complaints about Dutch Square’s Theaters. Missy runs a good ship over there. It was great fun talking with Winn at the front door. The projection and sound levels were spot on. Nothing distracted from the film itself.

Here is where the review fails, and generally speaking, this is a problem with most reviews: it fails to put the film into a proper context. What are we going to see? A remake of an Irwin-Allen disaster flick! Not necessarily Citizen Kane, but darn entertaining. And that’s how I walked away from the current version of Poseidon: entertained.

I can not say the same with Ice Age 2: The Meltdown. I took this in at the Columbiana Grande Cinemas. My biggest complaint about the showing of this film was the condition of the screen. In a movie where white is the predominant color, a dirty screen shows up like a red spot.

But, worse than the dirty screen, was the story. I was surprised by the first movie: it had chemistry between the characters However, this outing was just bland. The warming climate threatens to flood the valley where the animals have settled. At the other end of the valley, there is a promise of a boat where everyone will be safe (I could not tell if this was going to work into an alternate telling of Noah’s ark…it didn’t). So begins the road movie. Along the way, Manny meets a female mammoth raised by possums. The two possums did provide some chuckles, but they worked really hard for each one. Along the trek, the group is pursued by two prehistoric animals who never seem to pose a real threat and we are treated to outtakes of the Squirrel trying to get his acorn (which has very little to do with the film). I was bored the entire time. The animation was brilliant, but the story was all wet.

Reunion Recap

Not often can you slip back into friendship that has not been actively cultivated for over twenty years, but that definitely happened at my Friday night get together. I have seen Jay on and off over the years, and recently reconnected with Rick and Todd in the blogsphere, but the last time that I saw George was at his parent’s house, ten years ago. The funny thing about getting together was, once we started relaxing, our personalities had not changed all that much. Maybe a bit more mello, but, I contribute that to the affects of fatherhood. I missed Alan, and wished it would have worked out for him to be able to make it.

Watching our senior American English Literature project helped project us back as well. When I was a senior, I thought I looked much older, but man, I was definitely a kid. The movie helped to frame memories of being seventeen with a whole lot of life ahead. It also made me miss another friend that we have not been able to reconnect with since the ten year Airport HS reunion, Steve.

The next day, Todd, Jay and I discovered that Columbia, SC does not do brunch. So, we settled on the next best thing: IHOP. One person should not be allowed to eat an omelet and three pancakes. Attempting to walk some of it off, we toured the USC campus and then headed out to West Columbia to see if the old Comic Book shop was still pulling our subscriptions.

Saying goodbye to Todd, who had to go and DJ a wedding, Jay and I headed out to see Poseidon. We had nearly an hour to kill before the 3:00pm showing, but I heard a familiar voice as we were purchasing tickets. During college, I had worked at the Bush River Mall Cinemas, and some of the employees that I knew there now worked at the Dutch Square cinemas (Dutch Square’s manager, Missy, was hired at Bush River the same day I was, so we go way back), The familiar voice belonged to Winn. At age 68, he is doing what I hope to be doing in retirement – working back at a theater. As we talked, I remembered that he was also friends with Dave, the best man at my wedding who, you guessed it, I have lost touch with. I found out that Dave was working out of Greenwood South Carolina, and with a quick trip to White, I have secured an address. I am sending out a brief snail mail to him today to confirm his identity.

So, for a reunion weekend, it really turned out great.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Road Trip!

I have come to discover the benefit of driving from Chesapeake Va to Lexingto SC after work: a full extra day to spend with Mom and Dad. I went into work yesterday, planning to leave around 3:00, but the excitement over tonight's reunion had me rather restless at work. Not only that, but, my blood pressure got worked up over a client who manages the data in our application with her own set of Excel Spreadsheets. Excel has been the bane of my existence (datawise, anyways).

But, around 11:45, I went to my director and asked if it would be ok if I convert to a half day and leave at lunch. No problem. The only problem that did come from it was, Cindy thought I was home for lunch and we were still looking at a 3:00 departure. Around 1:15, I told her "oh, by the way, I am done." She gave me that look that only wives and moms know how to give. The look that will melt a Husband or Son like a forgotten crayon on a car's back dashboard in the middle of summer. I ran a few of the errands (including getting Shock for the pool and taking the kid's to Coldstone to redeem "recital" coupons), and we were off by 2:30.

Save a brief potty stops and a dinner dash, we made it to Lexington right at 9:00. By 10:00, I was out like a light. Mom is taking the day off and we are going to catch Ice Age 2 around lunch time. I like driving back into Cola Town and I don't know if it is because of nostalgia, or just familiarity. Probably more of the former.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Looking Forward to Friday

I am so looking forward to this weekend! I will be traveling from the Home Office here in Chesapeake, Virginia down to South Carolina. Its mother’s day weekend, and it will be the first time in many years that I will actually get to be with my Mom on that day.

Also in the cards is a chance to get together with several of my Pals from high school: Rick, Todd and Jay. The festivities that are in the works include a viewing of the “Director’s Cut” of a film that we made as Seniors in High School, but the real treat will be just getting together.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Bilbo Baggins Triumphant

Last night, we finished the adventures of Bilbo Baggins as told in The Hobbit. Interest in reading (and, in my case, rereading) this book came on Christmas Day of this past year when I received a video game based on The Hobbit. The kids were already familiar with Bilbo from the Rankin-Bass adaptation, and so off we went with Bilbo and thirteen Dwarves in a Quest to defeat a Dragon and reclaim a treasure.

I was most surprised that chapter two, Roast Mutton, had the most affect on Katie. For a while, I was learning about the undocumented adventures of Tom, Bert and Bill. They seemed to turn up everywhere, and many pieces of paper were consumed in detailing their exploits.

The most satisfying parts of the book were the chapters that either expanded what was in the movie, or had been removed all together. For the kids, these were completely new and you could see the look of enjoyment on their faces.

Unfortunately, as with most “long” books that we read, what begins with a good start, ends up as an unfinished journey. Then a friend of our family related that, as the quickest of the eaters in their house, he would simply pull a book out and start reading aloud after he had supped. What an idea, and that was how we made short work of the last five or six chapters.

Friday, May 05, 2006

United 93 Review

I wanted to write about this last night, but the latest “Red Green Show” came from Netflix. It’s all about priorities. Thursday is starting to turn into a movie night for me, and last night I watched United 93.

The film was shot exclusively with a hand held camera, with a good amount of grain on the print, making it seem like a documentary. The musical score was remarkably unnoticeable, except in key moments. And all of the actors felt real, with the emotional impact of the movie coming from the final, fatal moments.

What else can be said about the plot or the story? You go into this movie already knowing the ending. It is not a film to be “enjoyed,” but experienced.

I had this conversation about Titanic a few weeks ago. I believe the reason that movie impacted so many people was because they experienced a tragedy that history had summarized as “Ship hits Iceberg and Sinks.” History lost the scale of the event and Cameron made it real. For three hours, you were a participant.

United 93 accomplished the same thing. You are in the FAA control rooms, you are in the Flight Control Centers, you are on United 93. History is turning the events of that morning into “Terrorist Fly Planes into WTC and Pentagon. Fourth Plane crashes into Pennsylvania Fields.” We are forgetting something that should not be forgotten.

The movie is reverent to that morning and to the victims onboard. It does not pass judgment on the terrorist, nor does it make any political statements: it is good historical fiction and I recommend it for the intended viewing audience indicated by the rating. I had believed that it was too soon for this type of movie (I am sure more are to come), but I was wrong. This film will help you remember how you felt on Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

I know I did.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Hump Day Happenings

Sometimes, our small group is like going a few rounds with Mike Tyson. That’s what I really appreciate about our SG leader: lessons can be tough. We have been going through Psalm 119, and got to verse 113: I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love. What keeps coming back to me, week after week, is, do I love God’s law and how do I know that I do. It is easy for me to tell you, “Yes, I love God’s Law.” It is, quite simply, reflexive for a Christian to respond that way. Wouldn’t it be odd for the response to be, “No”? Where I am going with this is, do my actions reflect my speech? Sadly, not as much as I would like to think they do. So, what are you going to do about that?

Orchestra rehearsal was a mixed bag. By 7:30, I am mentally drained from the day and I typically do not enjoy going to these rehearsals. Last night we had a full trumpet section (and a new trumpet player from the School of Music). We have been praying for the trumpet section in particular, and it is neat to see that prayer answered. Once the Choir came in at 8:30 for the run through, I really got pumped. The music we play is exciting, and having the Choir add the words just completes the experience.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Corolla Retreat

Wow! I have made it to mid-week and feel like I have come up for a bit of air. The last two weeks have been something of blur, all starting on Easter Weekend. The big highlight was our small group study’s retreat at a beach house in Corolla, NC. I’ve lived in Hampton Roads for 10 years now, but I have never been to the outer banks. The house was really nice, and nothing like my memories of staying at beach houses on Edisto Island, SC.

My memories of beach houses include houses on stilts and linens heavy with the smell of the salt water. As a young child, I remember my Granddaddy Bryan fishing from the shore. It was there that he first introduced me to coffee, granddaddy style (that is, lots of sugar, lots of milk). Grandmother Bryan taught me how to tell the difference between a male and female crab and how to put one to sleep. I remember stories of pirates, pretending water towers were rocket ships, and sitting on the porch during a downpour.

The weekend retreat to Corolla was a great time to get to know two other families in our group. There was lots of good eating, sitting in a hot tub and jumping into an ice cold pool. I got an opportunity to give a morning devotional to the men and the ladies ended up briefly shopping. Not only was it a retreat from daily lives, Cindy and I went without the girls. It was an odd feeling being without them, but, it also was a needed respite.