Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Worth The Wait

For some reason, the wife and I have taken in a more-than-usual amount of movies in the past couple of weeks. We don't go to the "big screen" all that often, but a few movies or series seem to warrant a trip to the theater. Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and the Narnia (all in the series of each) are such great stories, and wonderful escapism. Add to that the Indiana Jones series. At the age my kids are, we can enjoy most of these together. We don't exactly enjoy paying the high price for a family of 5 to go. Regardless, closed my eyes at the ticket window and saw the newest (and probably last) movie this weekend, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Lots of fun, lots of action, vintage Indy.

The Story of Stuff

You need some time, like 20 minutes. But this is a fascinating little video called The Story of Stuff. Very interesting, and something we all should see & understand. Check it out at http://www.storyofstuff.com/ (Thanks to Troy for passing this along!)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Obama's Uphill Battle

First off, I'm not promoting any one candidate over another. There are things I like about a couple of them, and really liked one of the guys who bowed out a few months back. But I do believe in a fair fight, and from the looks of signs like this one that pop up at many campaign rallys, it seems we still have a long way to go in our country.

In my home state of Kentucky, I was not surprised in the least that Clinton crushed Obama in the recent primary. Outside of a few larger areas (Lexington, Louisville), its easy to live a "diversity-free" existence. I spent the first 21-ish years of my life in one of 2 towns in KY, and the only person(s) of color I knew during that time were exchange students from Zimbabwe during college.

I've heard lots of stories from the past. One such story happened in 1919, when all of the blacks in my home town were gathered up, placed on a train, and shipped out of town. Somewhere out there is a documentary about this event. But many years later in the mid-80's, the effects of that event were still evident. There were no blacks in or around our town. None. I know, there are lots of possible reasons for that. It wasn't exactly an area that lots of people were looking to move into in the first place. In fact, a lot of us were hoping to spread our wings and fly somewhere else (and many of my friends did). But I think there was a general vibe that those of color were not welcome. I never heard it said, or saw it in action. But I did hear comments. Stories that made me scratch my head and wonder what's wrong with people.

So I'm not surprised Obama had a poor showing in Kentucky. I don't think my experience is different from most of the state. I just thought we were closer to moving past that. Voting (or not voting) for someone because of their politics is one thing. Because of their skin color (or gender, for that matter) is quite another.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A New Book, A New Artist

Been reading a pretty interesting book. It's entitled "11 Indispensable Relationships You Gotta Have" by Leonard Sweet. Sor far, really enjoying it. The idea behind the book is that our Christian journey is as important as our destination. So influential 'partners' as we travel along are important to our success at this Christian life thing. It's sort of an iron-sharpens-iron approach, and good to ask as I read: do I have a person that does this in my life, and am I able to in turn do this in the life of another? Very good thusfar; had the occassion to hears Sweet in person last fall, and he rolled out 6 of the 11. Glad to have stumbled across this book.

Speaking of stumbling across stuff, happened to find a new artist who showed up on the most popular purchase list at http://www.independentbands.com/ (his CD is out of stock there at the moment), but followed a link to his MySpace music page, and really like his stuff. His name is Jeff Johnson. Actually contacted him, to see if he might come through Indiana anytime. I believe he's from Texas or somewhere out west. Anyway, give him a listen. He does a cover of 'Inside Out' from Hillsong United that's very cool. (Saw somewhere on some site that he was actually on American Idol, perhaps even the first season. Didn't know that or remember him, but I do like the sound of what he's doing currently...)

Tragic Day

I've long been a fan of Steven Curtis Chapman, and highly admire & respect not only his tremendous songwriting, but his humble spirit and personality. Just an amazing talent. His recent push regarding international adoption is very cool, having adopted on more than one occassion himself.

Which makes the news of the last two days that much more hard to swallow. His teenage son tragically struck & killed their 5-year-old daughter from China in the driveway of their home. I can't imagine. I think these sorts of things hit you much harder when you're a father, too. My heart goes out to the Chapman family. His music has ministered to so many over the years, including me. I hope the prayers & thoughts of the masses are felt & evident in this terrible time. You can read more about the story from this Nashville area newspaper.

Monday, May 19, 2008

When You Call To Get Your Computer Fixed...

Called customer support lately? Tried to get service to fix your computer, or anything else? Chances are you're getting someone in India. Here are a couple of actual pics from India, which should make you feel confident about the level of tech support you're getting.....

Everything That's Wrong With Politics

"Each of the Coburn Seven counts himself pro-life. If a bill came to the Senate floor that would save millions of unborn children, one assumes that pro-life members would push to improve it, accept a few necessary compromises and then enthusiastically support the legislation. It is difficult to imagine why pro-life legislation involving millions of Africans should be viewed differently. "

- Author, columnist, and former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, criticizing Senators Tom Coburn, Jim DeMint, Jeff Sessions, Saxby Chambliss, David Vitter, Jim Bunning, Richard Burr--Republicans who have signed a hold letter preventing action on the reauthorization of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). (Source: The Washington Post )

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Tale of Two Movies

Last night, I wanted to see what all the fuss was concerning The Golden Compass. So we blew a buck on it from the neighborhood McD's RedBox, our new rental friend, and gave it a whirl.

Really? People were worried about this movie? First of all, it just wasn't that good. I'm not just saying that to solidify my moral compass (pun intended), but I thought the movie just was kinda bland. The ending of the film couldn't have been more "here comes the sequel", much more than many where we all knew sequels were imimnent.

I remember the countless email forwards warning that this film was going to send our children's faith foundation into a tailspin dive that would surely land them in the clutches of Satan himself. Well, sorry. It just isn't good enough to do that. If you didn't know that the author Pullman was an athiest and was taking intentional shots at the Catholic church, well, you wouldn't know that from the movie. Compass won't drag anyone into athiesm, just like Harry Potter won't raise up a generation of wizards.

As luck would have it, our George Bush check arrived recently, so we could afford the once a year journey to the local Cinema 10 to take in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Talk about night & day. Where Compass was weak (cheesy CGI, bad acting, not that great a story), Caspian kept me on the edge of my seat (along with paying for a family of 5 to go to the movies!) I thought the first Chronicles was good, though there was some cheese. None here with Caspian. Excellently done. Of course, the religious symbolism was of special interest to me, but I think the movie is good even if you're unaware. I found Caspian to be an excellent upgrade from the first movie, and that bodes well for the remainder of the series (next up: Dawn Treader, in May of 2010).

A couple of interesting footnotes. Compass and Wardrobe cost the same to make: roughly 180 million. Wardrobe brought in 291 million, plus another 450 million abroad. That's a lot of Turkish Delight. Compass, on the other hand, did 70 million in the US, and 301 abroad. But talk of sequels has gone away, and the New Line studio was recently folded into Warner Brothers. Pullman might want to stick to books. Did the Christian 'boycott' cause Compass to fail? Not sure, but having seen it, I assume the critics didn't like it. It just wasn't good.

(Interesting article about these two from Time Magazine, where I got my stats in the previous paragraph - here's the link)