Friday, December 5, 2008

Just for fun

I love reading The Onion. This is a cover of one of their weekend magazines. If you need a laugh, check out the Onion. Be warned though, there is some language in some of the articles.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Reality Bites

Many upon many teenage girls have been waiting for this day, because on this day Twilight comes to theaters. A lot of the girls that I teach every day already have tickets to go tonight. In case you don't know what this phenomenon is all about, Twilight is based on a book of the same name written by Stephanie Meyer, and has spawned three sequels. These books are about a girl named Bella who moves to a small town in Washington state, who falls in love with a stange guy named Edward who just happens to be a vampire. These books have been flying off the shelves. Some would even compare this series popularity to Harry Potter. I would disagree with that assesment, but that is a topic for another time. Being a high school teacher I have seen many female students with these books under their arms, trying to grab any spare minute they can to read a few pages. When I've asked about these books, I find that I get the same answer, which is that they are a "Vampire Romance." When I ask more questions, I find out that girls are attracted not to the story, not to the characters, but to this idea of a perfect romance that lets nothing stop it, not even the need to drink blood, avoid sunlight, and go easy on the garlic. I have some concerns about this, especially because of its popularity among young girls. It has nothing to do with vampires. I actually like vampire stories, but for other reasons. Vampires are simply a plot device for these books. I also want to make it clear that this is not a knee-jerk reaction like the one that so many gave about Harry Potter. I like Harry Potter and again that is a discussion for another day. Harry Potter did not make kids think that they could go to school and become a wizard. What is dangerous about Twilight for girls is the same thing that is so dangerous about pornography for boys, well, one of the things about pornography that's dangerous. That danger is in unreal expectations. Pornography builds this idea about sex for boys that is completely unrealistic and dangerous because it makes them expect certain things about women and sex, and when the real thing comes around, there is a big letdown because expectations were so high. The same is true for the perfect romance. Just like guys want perfect sex, girls want the perfect romance, and books like Twilight make them think that it is possible. Then those expectations are never met, which can lead to many a problem later in life. What's harder about things like Twilight is that you can't just make a blanket statement about it like you can pornography. I don't think that I would say don't read it, but I would say let's read it together and talk about it, because any unrealistic expectations hurt the one who has them, but it really hurts the one they are put upon. Marriage and romance and sex for that matter can be hard and diffiucult at times, and it takes work for them to work. The best thing to do then is put a stake in the heart of unrealistic expectations. Sorry, but the pun was there so I had to use it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Quantum of Solace

It has been awhile since I have gotten to see a movie in the theater, so I was really excited to see the next installment of Daniel Craig's Bond. I absolutely loved Casino Royale, but I think that was due in part to having low expectations going in. As far as Bond films go, From Russia With Love was my favorite until Casino Royale, which meant that I had to really keep my expectations in check last Saturday night, because having high expectations can kill a movie. But Quantum lived up to my expectations. There is no way that it could be better than Casino Royale, but I was not expecting it to be. I loved it anyway. I like our modern Bond, who actually opperates in the real world, where the bad guys have a shade of gray, and you actually have some continuity between the films and the action scene at the beginning and the rest of the movie. That last sentence will make more sense if you are a Bond fan. Action was real and brutal, the relationship between Bond and M worked very well, and the sexual aspect which is so heavy in other Bond films was almost absent from this one, which is a welcom change of pace. Craig makes a perfect Bond because he is his own, not trying to re-create Connery, which is what all the others were trying to do, or have done to them. I also liked the nod to Goldfinger. My only complaint was the exploding hotel at the end, which had the whole "evil lair self destructing" feel to it. I would also say that I can't understand most of the negative reviews. As a friend pointed out to me, everything that Roger Ebert loved about Casino Royale, he did not like about Quantum. I for one don't get it. But this is one I'll be getting come DVD time.

Quantum of Solace gets a 9/10
Casino Royale got a 10/10

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Farewell Michael Chrichton

Michael Chricton died on Tuesday, Nov 4. I have been a big fan of his work since my Algebra teacher in 7th grade showed us the movie version of "The Andromeda Strain." Most folks probably know him as the author of "Jurassic Park" which Steven Spielberg turned into a wonderful film. I think the one thing that I always enjoyed about his storied was that they always had a sense of caution to them. The whole point of "Jurassic Park" was that these great leaps in genetic engineering had been made, but were they the right leaps to be made? I also appreciated how in his later days he was one of the few who in the name of actual science, cautioned against global warming hysteria, like Al Gore's "An Inconvienient Truth." His books had a very naturalistic worldview, but were still great stories. Not all of his books have grabbed me, "Rising Sun" being the most notable, but I do look forward to the next one that he completed before his death.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fun at School

Every year for Homecoming Week at school there are dress-up days and it's a great opportunity for this Star Wars geek to let the Dark Side out with his kids before school.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Don't Go Outside!!!

Hey kids, when you go outside this afternoon, be sure to stay away from the GIANT SPIDER EATING A BIRD by the fence!!!

This picture was taken in someone's backyard in Australia. It's real!

I am constantly amazed by God's creation.

This speaks for itself

Here's a great cartoon by Erin Bonsteel from

Monday, October 13, 2008


What I can't understand is why so much "Christian" stuff out there is simply a knock-off of some other popular product. Guitar Hero is a very popular and, yes, fun game. So does that mean that by default someone in the church has to copy it? I'm thinking especially of t-shirts that take a motto or a phrase that someone has worked hard on and invested a lot of time and money in only to have someone else come in and make it sound Christian and put it on a shirt or other product. The "Got Jesus?" shirt comes to mind. How much time and money was invested in coming up with "Got milk?", only to have that idea highjacked by a christian t-shirt guy wanting to make a buck using our Lord's name. If anything, should we as God's people be creative and inventive, and not simply copying or stealing other ideas?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

Enough Already

Even though I got my major in Politcal Science, I have a real love/hate relationship with our electon cycle. I get tired of the commercials, and I really think that the debates need some overhaul. The debates should feature questions created by us, not journalists. That way we get to issues that matter to us, not some talking head who has an agenda, and moderated by one who will keep the candidates under control.

What concernes me more now is what Washington is doing with our current financial crisis, which it is in large part responsible for by pushing lenders to lend to folks who a) don't have the money to pay back what they borrow, b) buy much more house than they need because they can borrow so much, and c) are not smart enough to understand the difference between fixed-rate and variable-rate interest rates. This problem came from flawed liberal thinking that believes that owning a house is a right. Sorry, but owning a home is a privilage and a responsibility. The book of Proverbs has much wisdom about being wise with our money.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Who Do You Say That I Am?

I am not showing this picture to reveal my thoughts about who I am supporting for President in November. Why I am bringing this up is because of the assumption that some in our day make about who Jesus Christ is. It is very common today to say that Jesus was just a good person and had some good teachings that we can learn from. That is the assumption behind this pin. Jesus was a do-gooder. That begs the question of the title of this post. Who does Jesus say that he is? John 14:6 says "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Jesus is more than just a good teacher. He is the only way that sinful man can have any hope of salvation. The Gospels are full of places where Jesus claimes to be not only the way of salvation, but God himself. In John 10:30 Jesus says, "I and the Father are one." Somehow I don't think that those who would make this claim connecting Jesus as a community organizer to their candidate would also want to claim that he is also God. But that shows ultimately what they believe about Jesus. He was not a community organizer. He was the one who, "though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men......Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:6-11. The work of Christ was more than a political slogan. It has restored the broken relatioship between man and God. I know that's not community organizing.

The Geek Unleashed

What a great day yesterday was to be a life-long Star Wars fan and a casual gamer like myself. This is one game that I have been waiting for since I heard of its inception. In fact, it was one of my primary motivations for upgrading to the Xbox360. I have only played for about an hour's worth, and what an hour it was. While I have to say that the best overall StarWars game goes to Knights of the Old Republic, this one gets a close second. Finally the Force is done right! Now if I only had the money for that Ultimate Vader costume. I am taking donations if anyone wants to help this Star Wars geek become even more geeky.

Messin with Sasquatch

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Bigfoot. I think growing up in prime Bigfoot country and being related to an eyewitness adds to my fascination. That being said, the beef jerky commercials that are titled "Messin With Sasquatch" get me every time. Good stuff.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

It's been awhile

Wow. I can't believe that I have not posted since March. Sorry to all my faithful readers who are probably no longer readers! Since I am such a movie lover, I'll rank from best to worst the films that I saw over the summer. Here we go....

1. The Dark Knight
2. The Incredible Hulk
3. Iron Man
5. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
6. Prince Caspian
7. Kung Fu Panda
8. Tropic Thunder

You may notice that there were a few that are missing from an earlier post of the ones that I wanted to see, and some that are new. That's just how the summer goes I guess.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Jade Giant Returns

Believe it or not I do actually like other things besides movies. But since I think we are on the verge of a great summer movie season, I can't help myself. Especially now that we'll start getting flooded with all the previews for the movies that will be coming out. Anyway, last night the preview for "The Incredible Hulk" premiered on the internet. What I liked about it was that it has the feel that the Hulk should have: Banner on the run, trying to keep himself under control, being chased by the military, etc. It also reminded me of the 70's t.v. show that I loved as a kid. I'm glad to see that the Abomination is in this as well, not some goofy thing that was in Ang Lee's "Hulk" of a few years ago. My only bone to pick is that the Hulk should look bigger & more powerful. I know that the cgi guys work on the effects until the last possible minute, so there's hope that his look will improve. But overall, this will be a good one. I am excited to see thw Hulk as he is meant to be seen......smashing stuff.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Spring Break Reading

I always look forward to breaks because it gives me a chance to break out of the routine and actually get some reading done. I have been wanting to read Atlas Shrugged for awhile now, but especially after reading Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series. I'm sure that I'll never watch The Incredibles the same way ever again. Hopefully I'll plow through it and can write a review soon, although I doubt I'll bring anything new to the discussion of Objectivism. Keller's The Reason for God is the next book that my small group is reading together. I only have to read a chapter a week, but the book is so engaging that I may have to read the whole thing and then re-read each chapter week by week. This is actually the first book by Keller that I will have read, but I am familiar with his work at Redeemer Presbyterian in New York. I am disappointed that there is no fiction that has caught my eye. Hopefully George R.R. Martin will get his next book out soon.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Movie Posters

I have always enjoyed the posters that go with the movies that I'm excited about. Here are two that I found that I think do a great job at capturing what these films will be about. If only I had not run out of wall space!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Grab Your Whip & Fedora

Unless you have been living under a rock, then you know that the trailer to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull came out on Valentines Day. While Spider-Man will always have the #1 spot in my childhood heart, Indiana Jones will forever be a very close second. It seemed to be easier to predend that I was Indy than Spidey, because all I needed was an old hat of my dad's and a broken fan belt from the car. I don't know how many time I recreated the truck chase from Raiders of the Lost Ark in our front yard. I will never forget our summer trip to Montana and finding a real whip in a gift shop! My #1 Christmas present of all time was getting the 12 inch Indy figure when I was told before Christmas that mom was having trouble finding one. I still kick myself for getting rid of that one by the way. Trying for weeks to convince my mom to let me see this, only to have success when she learns that it's rated PG and not R. Ah memories. Anyway this trailer brought tingles to my spine and a tear to my eye. May 22 cannot get here soon enough. You can check it out for yourself at Yahoo Movies.

Summer Movies!!!!!

I love summer because I get to go inside a nice cool theater and enjoy movies. January to May can be a wasteland for a movie lover like me, but Cloverfield was a notable exception, so I anticipate the summer movie season a lot. Here are the handful of movies that I will be sure to see this summer:

1. Iron Man- May 2
2. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull- May 22
3. The Incredible Hulk- June 13
4. The Happening- June 13
5. Hellboy 2- July 11
6. The Dark Knight- July 18
7. Star Wars: The Clone Wars- August 15th

I'm sure there may be a few more that I'll go see, but these are the ones on my radar right now.

Truth Made Simple

The Elders at Westminster Presbyterian are going through this book as part of our training. What I really like about this book is that Sproul does a great job of making the complex understandable and accesable to everyone. I can appreciate it because it takes our doctrinal standards found in the Westminster Confession of Faith and explains them in words that anyone could understand and appreciate. It's deep enough to take your time reading and contemplating, but also easy for anyone to read and understand, even without going to seminary!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cloverfield: A Monster To Believe In

Let me say from the beginning that I was not a fan of "The Blair Witch Project." I thought it was not very scary or worth my time for that matter. Cloverfield will inevitably be compared to that film because they are both from the new genre of "found footage" films. I have to say that I was expecting a fun monster movie, but got much more. Cloverfield may in fact be the sign of new life in this new genre because it did what Blair Witch could not. Let me let you in on a little secret, Cloverfield is not about the monster. Cloverfield is about the people who try to survive. I was surprised that I found myself caring about the people who were on the screen. They were real people trying to understand and deal with what was happening. What made this so powerful was the 20 or so minutes of the goodbye party for the main character, which was taping over a day at Coney Island with the girl he finally got together with. You get some of this throughout the movie as well. Why this works is that the same story would have worked if it was a natural disaster rather than a monster. The main character wants to correct a mistake that he made with the woman that he loves, and puts himself and his friends in danger to find her. As much as I rail against the "Hollywood Ending," I wanted these people to get that ending because I cared about them. That is what makes the movie work so well. Another thing that makes it work so well is that the viewer is left with so many questions about the monster. But the movie does not answer them because we see the story through those experiencing what is happening. They don't get any answers, so neither do we. We're left wanting more. We're left sad for what happened to those people whom we came to care about. So what about the monster? What is it? Where did it come from? I'm sure that there are so many theories that will drive conversation for years to come, or until we get a sequel. I liked that we did not get a full view of the creature until near the end. I liked how much like the creatures in the work of H. P. Lovecraft, this monster defies easy description. And it was genuinely scary at times. I jumped, which his hard for a movie to get me to do. And I'll admit that the little things that crawl off the monster made my skin crawl, and led to one of the most creepy moments in the film.
This movie gives me some hope for movies in the future. You can have big monsters or events. You could have a well known comic figure. But if the audience does not care about who is on the screen, the movie will fail. Cloverfied is not a failure. I can't wait to take a walk through it again.

Cloverfield gets 10/10

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Framework for Prayer

Back in the Fall I started reading this book with two other pastors from our church and two teachers that teach at WCA. When I was in seminary I was fortuante enough to get to read quite a bit of Carson, but it was much more academic than this book. While Carson here speaks of a spiritual reformation, I would call it a spiritual revolution because of its impact in my prayer life. I don't want to broadcast the intimate details of my prayer life here because I believe that it would not be appropriate. However, one thing that I will mention because of this book is that this has not simply given me a "breath of fresh air" to my prayer life, but has rather given me a new framework from which to pray. I wish that I could say that I have perfectly put it into practice, but if that were true then I could also scale walls like a spider.
Carson shows from the prayers of Paul how the apostle structured his prayers and how he prayed. It's challenging to see how we typically pray vs how he did. It especially reveals our priorities and what we find important. I am challenged in each chapter that I read. My hope is that as I read and try to apply what I'm learning, that my prayers will change, not because of any formula that I'm following, but because my heart, by the Spirit, is aligning itself more with the priorities of the Spirit. May this bless you as well.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

A Pirate's Life Not For Me (But this book is)

This book has been on my list to read for quite some time. It was published in 2002 so it came out before pirates became popular again. After reading the Prologue, (YES! YOU SHOULD ALWAYS READ THE PROLOGUE!) I was hooked. Zacks writes in such a way that you know that he has done his homework, but does not bore you in the presentation of the work that he has done. I think that what grabs me the most about this book is how unappealing the life of a pirate is to me, but how appealing it was to men in the 17th century. The idea of taking your life in your own hands just to go to the bathroom does not sound fun to me. Nor am I in any hurry to have my teeth fall out and my bones go soft because of scurvy. How about taking a week of backbreaking labor just to fill up barrels of drinking water that will go sour in just a week or two? Sounds like fun! Sign me up!
One thing that has been bothering me about the Pirates of the Caribbean films, while I thoroughly enjoyed all three, is that pirates became freedom fighters. They became the underdogs against the big "corporate machine" of the East India Trading Company. I think that if we think about real pirates being like Jack Sparrow, we miss the boat, I mean ship. Pirates were murderous thieves. As Zacks points out in his book, they wanted money and sex, and would do whatever it took to get it. But that does not make for a good movie. It makes me wonder what our next "hero" will be. Pirates were not heroes, and it's tragic that many folks will begin to view them as such because of fun movies and great performances.
But aside from that, Zacks' book tells a great tale about Captain Kidd, and dead men apparently do tell tales. Grab this book and read it. I can't wait to read his next one about Jefferson and the pirates at Tripoli.

Friday, January 4, 2008

I Am Legend- A Missed Opportunity

I am a big fan of the original novel by Matheson. The story of the last man on earth facing a world of vampires was well written and had a great ending. It had been in development for quite awhile after having two previous attempts at bringing this story to film.
What makes the book great is how Neville goes through his day to day routine and how that slowly breaks down. It helps that each night people who he knew call out to him trying to get him outside. I won't spoil the end of the book here, but it it the ending that makes the book in my opinion.
I'm assuming that if you are reading this that you have seen the movie or are familiar enough with it that I don't need to explain everything, and not worry about giving spoiler warnings.
As far as the Will Smith version goes, I have to call it a missed opportunity because so many things were missing that it spoiled a great opportunity. Here is what I mean:
-A virus instead of vampires- Not a huge problem, but the infected were never really explained well. Are they savage creatures or some type of new society? Pick one. Savage creatures don't keep dogs. Straight up vampires would have worked much better and needed less explanation.
-Survivors- What made the film work for the first 3/4 was Smith by himself. Being the last man on Earth is what drives the whole story. Is he going crazy? Are his chances for survival slowly dwindling?
-The ending- Do I have a problem with his death? No. I have a problem with the lady's monologue at the end wrapping everything up in a nice box. The book does not end in a nice box and that is what makes it powerful. This movie could have left us pondering what the book does. What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be human with other humans? At the end of the book I was going "Wow." Many great conversations could be started from a book like that. At the end of the movie, I missed my $7. The movie was ok for the first 3/4. But the end was its end.
I would give it 6/10