Monday, April 30, 2007

Last Mixtape Song: The River by Good Charlotte

So, the verdicts in...I did a horrible job predicting the songs lifechurch.tv would use for it's 4 songs for Mixtape, a sermon series where each week's sermon was based on a diffrent hit song.

The first week the song was current but not hot...U2's newest single Window in the Skies.
The second week's sermon used the song How To Save A Life by the Fray. Definitly hot, even though released on a 2005 album.
The third week song was 1960s classic "Turn Turn Turn!" (so definitly more golden hot than firey hot)
The forth song was so new and hot it wasn't even on my radar when I made my predictions.

Chris Spradlin, campus pastor of the Oklahoma City campus used the song "The River" by Good Charlotte off the album Good Morning Revival which was released last tuesday (March 27, 2007). Spradlin used the parable of the Prodigal Son to teach his messages.

Although this song was not on my list, it was my favorite song selection. Here's an except of the song.

“I’ve seen a vision of my life and I wanna be delivered. In the city was a sinner, I’ve done a lot of things wrong, But I swear I’m a believer. Like the prodigal son, I was out on my own, now I’m trying to find my way back home” - From The River by Good Charlotte

This message or any of the other mixtape messages can be viewed here.

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Predicting the Best Supporting Actress Nominations in April

This past year the thinest catagory by far was the actress catagories, specificly supporting actress catagories.

Of the five eventual nominees, only one of the nominees had ever been nominated before (Cate Blanchett) and actually, she was the only one with any sort of accepted pre-2006 star power. Who remember Jennifer Hudson from Amrican Idol? Had anyone paid much attention to Rinko Kikuchi or Adriana Barraza before Babel? And who would have expected Abigail Breslin to get an academy nomination before Dakota Fanning?

And yet the nominees for supporting actress offered no real surprises by the end of award season. Blanchett, Breslin, Hudson, Kikuchi, and Barraza were the chosen 5.

This year the potential for supporting roles for actresses looks a little broader, and it's without further ado that I make my first academy awards predictions for best supporting actress for 2007.

End of April
Academy Award Supporting Actress Predictions
Catherine Keener - Synecdoche, New York
Samantha Morton - The Golden Age
Mena Suvari - The Mysteries of Pittsburg
Meryl Streep - Lions for Lambs
Vanessa Redgrave - Atonement

Friday, April 27, 2007

Friends Around A Table

This morning, I've woken with the oddest feeling. My last fleeting thougths as I woke up were of a dream in which the most random collection of close friends were suddenly getting together at a large table to eat some food and spend time together. While the event was generally jovial in nature, I felt detatched, even as other people were reaquainting with one another. Not only were a large assortment of friends there, but there was also cake, and man do I love cake. But I still felt so empty and more a part of the atmosphere than the crowd.

Moving to a new place less than a year ago, developing community has been an expected challenge, but something so desperatly desired. Last July I wrote about how sustainable relationships developed in film through shared mission, shared space, and shared relationships. While relationships are forming in a new place I wish it would all happen faster, but life is not a movie and wrapped up in around 120 minutes.

And friends of mine who were so rude around the table in my dream...you just may get a phone call this week to make sure we're still on good terms.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Reconciling Personal Thoughts on Spirituality and the Paranormal

One of my favorite film concepts in cinemotography is the brain is very smart to fill in missing details. With this knowledge film makers can show close ups of people's key facial features, and the mind fills in the rest of the image making the close-up increasingly poweful.

Notice the picture of Al Pacino, left. Pacino's mom would never frame this picture next to her bed, but the cropped out forehead and hair still give us the general idea and our minds see the image in a way that appears much larger.

This powerful reality is a dangerous threashold for the mind because the mind is capable of taking small pieces of information and making them into ideas that are much larger, and potentially false, but perceived as truth.

In the late 1990s, amidst the popularity of televisions shows like the X-Files, I often listened to a popular radio show called Art Bell Coast to Coast. This popular late night radio show broadcast out of Pahrump, Nevada and dealt with often-times very bizarre paranormal issues.

Art Bell (right) often dealt with issues like UFO sightings, crop circles (way before Shymalan's movie Signs), Big Foot's and people who had Out of Body Experiences (OBE's). The also had a reserved studio line just for employees of Area 51 who might be brave enough to call.

I still remember several episodes, some radiculous (Jane Ocean who could speak with Dolphins), and some that really played with my mind (such as David John Oats and his theories on Reverse Speech).

I told my wife the other night: "Sometimes you hear one person talk convincingly about paranormal things and you believe them. You hear a variety of people discuss a variety of paranormal beliefs and everyone seems crazy."

This was my reaction to Art Bell. I listened to his show as entertainment primarily, and secondly to understand what made these people believe these things.

The increased interest in metaphysics and quantum mechanics has become the new sophisticated paranormal discussions people have. In the unclassifiable film What the Bleep Do We Know some very bizarre thoughts are spoken about as fact. Most curious is the work of Masaru Emoto who tries to show that water appears differently depending on what words, thoughts, or actions are said or around it.

Yet, these studies could easily be compared along ideas and issues where people like Dr. Elizabeth Targ studies the power of prayer on AIDS patients, or using meditation to reduce crime in Washington DC.

And at this point, these studies become a challenge for traditional Christians to reconcile. Some who are less cautious may easily praise God for the entire gamet of ideas exposed, or wonder if God lives on another planet monitoring us with Alien activities, etc. Or other Christians may write off all concepts are view any such concept as deceit from the devil.

It's a challenge because a man who believes in Alien conspiracies and Men in Black has faith just like a Christian, Jewish, or Muslim person who prays regularly.

For me, I have become a cautious person in regards to the paranormal of all sorts (whether involving crop circles or spiritual healings). Some might suggest I have little faith, but instead I believe I have a lasting nugget (or mustard seed) of pure faith. Faith that says despite all that I know people believe and think, I can passionatly pursue a God I believe is true, powerful and mighty. A good who hears and answers my prayes.

Yet, in the same belief-set, I am also very cautious. Some friends of mine in a small group were recently praising the amazing true story bestseller called 90 Minutes in Heaven written by Texas Baptist minister Don Piper. Don Piper was in an accident on January 18, 1989 and according to his true story, died and went to heaven, only to come back to life after another minister came to the scene and prayed for him.

Now, Don Piper's story sounds like a story you'd hear on an Art Bell radio show, and yet this best seller is being marketed as a true story of hope which has been in many instances embraced by the Christian community and sold in Christian bookstores as true and inspriational literature.

Many christians seem to have embraced this book because it ultimatly has an evangelical end-game and also brings hope, especially to those who have lost loved ones or who are close to death. Yet it is a dangerous game to read books like this one (or in Bill Wiese book 23 Minutes in Hell) because it can put your theology into the hands of a stranger and create truth you may want to believe but in the end could be nothing more than paranormal speculation and lies.

David Duchovny vs. Gillian Anderson

I am always interested in seeing which actors and actresses can shake iconic roles and continue to have successful film and television careers worth noting.

Of course it's not a competion, but it will be interesting to continue to watch how David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson do post X-Files which went off the air in 2002.

If it wear my guess, I would think Gillian Anderson would have the best chances of success in the years to come. I think if she could steal some Julianne-Moore-esque roles she could really shake the image of Dana Skully. I've read a few times over the years that Anderson felt trapped in her x-files role, and has no interest of appearing in another x-files movie, but would prefer to play more important roles.

Gillian Anderson has had a few roles post x-files including her Emmy nominated role in the British television series Bleak House, a role in the critical film The Last King of Scotaland (left with James McAvoy), and on Friday appears in the British thriller film Straightheads (premiering in the UK).

Personally, I would think David Duchovny would have a tougher time getting roles in A-quality films.

His most credible post X-Files credits was the theatrical film Trust The Man, and the more recent Jake Kasdan film The TV Set (pictured right). Duchovny will also be performing along side Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro in the emotional drama Things We Lost in the Fire, which comes out this Fall.

Previous Strangeculture X-Files post from this week can be found here and here.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

X-Files: Bad Blood

F.J. Delgado asked me in my last post about what my favorite X-Files episode is. I don't really remember very many specific episodes themselves, certain scenes and concepts come to mind, but one episode stands out from all of them.

It is an episode I remembered very strongly that was a comical episode where where Agent Dana Skully and Fox Mulder go to Texas to investigate a series of incidents were cows appear to have been attacked by vampires, and suddenly there has been a progression to people. In the episode both Skully and Mulder have to explain their sides of the story to director Skinner.

With a little research (aka a google search of: x-files vampire cows episode) and I see many sites where people explain in detail the episode entitled Bad Blood which originally aired February 22, 1998.


Like I said, I very much remembered this episode, especially the look and feel. Yet I never realized that the main character in this episode (apart from Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny) was Luke Wilson.

Luke Wilson played a very comidicly written role in this episode. Wilson played Sheriff Hartwell who in Skully's rendition of the events was a dashing man who had a thing for her, and in Mulder's version was a bucked-tooth incompetant Texas sheriff.

As much as I'm suprised I'm writing this...Luke Wilson really made this episode excellent. While I'm sure much of it was the writing and the tone, this frat pack actor was perfectly cast.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Vanishing Bees - Paranormal Activity?

When I read this story today of the vanishing honeybees I couldn't help but think of the X-Files movie.

The scene of Agent Fox Mulder and Agent Dana Skully running from the bee's that come up from out of the floor of the glowing bubble they somehow found themselves in.

Anyways...I think that either Alien's are abducting these disappearing bees or perhaps terrorist are kidnapping these bees and holding them hostage.

Either way, it sounds like a job for specail agents Mulder and Skully. Although a special congressional hearing has been called for June 24-30 in regards to the disappearing bees.

I can hear the theme music now.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

"Turn! Turn! Turn!" 3rd song on Lifechurch.tv's mixtape

It's week 3, and not one of my top 10 song predictions have made it onto lifechurch.tv's mixtape07.

But the 3rd song (of 4) was a song from made popular in the 1960's by the Byrd's called "Turn! Turn! Turn! (There is A Season)" which was written by Pete Seeger using a large chunk of Ecclesiastes 3 as his text.

The church sermon taught by Craig Groeschel isn't exactly using one of "today's top hits" but it's a good teaching.




For Week 1 click here (U2's "Window in the Skies") click here
For Week 2 (The Fray's "How to Save A Life") click Here

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Hello Brazil, this is your Credit Card calling

So, I got a phone call from my credit card company the other day wondering if I was in Brazil, because a recent transaction had gone through in Brazil with my credit card.

The answer was a clear 'no' and the credit card company and I went over the other transactions (all mine) and canceled my card and re-issued a new card with a new number.

I don't really care who tried to be me and buy something abroad...more curious to me is what they were buying in Brazil???

Hopefully it was more than a pound of brazilian coffee, or a handful of quartz.

I'd much rather find out they were trying to buy a quartz mine, although I don't think my credit limit would have covered that.

Maybe it was something as simple as a hotel stay in a fine Rio de Jeneiro hotel or for a tourist company to provide a tour across the Brazialan highlands or on the Amazon river.

Carnaval has passed so it doesn't have anything to do with that...maybe someone bought a lifetime of tickets to watch soccer games in MaracanĂ£ Stadium.

If only I could know.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Reel People: Angelina Jolie is Mariane Pearl

The movie is A Mighty Heart, directed by Michael Winterbottom, based on the book by Mariane Pearl (A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband Danny Pearl)

Mariane van Neyenhoff, was born in France July 23, 1967, of Afro-Cuban and Dutch ancestry. She was a freelance journalist who met her husband Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter in 1998, while he was in Paris on assignment. Mariane and Daniel married in 1999 and lived in Bombay, India where Daniel was the South Asia bereau cheif for the Wall Street Journal.

Early 2002, In an attempt to interview a Pakistani terrorist leader, Daniel was kidnapped. Using a hotmail account, the terrorist sent the United States a list of demands and threats with pictures of Daniel Pearl. Daniel Pearl was killed in Febraury of 2002 by decapitation, and a gruesome video was shot of the horrific events. At the time Mariane Pearly was five months pregnent with her and Daniel's child.

Three months after Daniel's death, Adam Pearl was born, just a few months before Pearl's killers were under trial and suspected leader of the kidnapping Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh was sentenced to death.

Mariane Pearl is one of the co-founders of the Daniel Pearl Foundation and is currently a reporter and colomnist for Glamour Magazine.

In the upcoming film, the role of Daniel Pearl will be played Dan Futterman (Capote's academy award nominated screenwriter).

Will this biographical film earn Academy Award winning actress Jolie some critical awards attention this year for her portrayal of this Real (Reel) Person?

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Reel People: Brad Pitt is Jesse James

The movie is The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. The movie is written and directed by Andrew Dominik, based on a book by Ron Hansen.

Jesse James was a famous American outlaw. He was in 1847 in Clay County, Missouri. His father, a baptist minister died when James was three out looking for gold in California. When Jesse James was 16 he join a guerilla group that terrorized anti-slavery and pro-union families. James was involved in Battle of Lawrence (also known as Lawrence Massacre or Quantrill's Raid), in an event that killed almost 200 people in Lawrence, Kansas.

After the civil war, James was shot by a union man, and his first cousin Zee nursed him back to health, he later married Zee and had four children with her. With Missouri in unrest following Union control, James and others began to lead a bandit life. By 1868, Jesse James and his brother Frank James had joined Cole Younger, forming what became known as the James-Younger gang. Jesse James first made the press in when he killed the bank cashier at Daviess County Savings Association in Gallatin, Missouri. From this point on, a relationship began with Kansas City Times editor James Newman Edwards, who would publish James' letters in an attempt to bring confederate power back in the time of reconstruction. With Edwards help, James began to become the most popular outlaw.

Many robbers happened in Kansas, Texas, Iowa and all across America by the James-Younger gang. But an unsuccessful robbert in Minnesota broke up the group in 1876, when one of the bankers stalled the group and refused to open the safe. This delay caused many in the gang to be killed by citizens of the town. Jesse James returned to Missouri, while Frank went to safer territory in Virginia.

In the recreation a new gang Jesse James recruited brother Robert and Charley Ford. The Ford brothers were actually set up by the government, namely Missouri governor Thomas T. Crittenden to help bring Jesse James in. The Ford's moved into Jesse James' house to protect him, and one day, unsuspectingly Robert Ford shot Jesse James in the back of the head.

Jesse James' mother selected James' epitaph which says, "In Loving Memory of my Beloved Son, Murdered by a Traitor and Coward Whose Name is not Worthy to Appear Here."

The upcoming film stars Mary-Louise Parker as James cousin/wife Zee. Sam Shephard plays brother Frank James. Robert Ford is played by Casey Affleck, and Charley Ford is played by Sam Rockwell.

Will this biographical film earn Academy nominated actor Pitt some critical awards attention this year for his portrayal of this Real (Reel) Person?

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Drew's Best Roles

After a few requests by my wife, we watched the documentary My Date With Drew that tells the story of an indie film maker with a personal challenge of getting a date with Drew Barrymore in 30 days or less using no more than about 1000 dollars.

This marginally entertaining film has prompted a top 5...

Top 5 roles for Drew Barrymore.

5. Casey Becker in Scream
4. Danielle De Barbarac in Ever After
3.
Lindsey Meeks in Fever Pitch
2.
Julia in the Wedding Singer
1. Gertie in ET: The Extra-Terrestrial

Feel free to list your own top 5 roles for Barrymore, it's hard when your first film gives you the role of a life-time.

"If you don't take risks, you'll have a wasted soul." - Drew Barrymore

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

"How To Save A Life" by The Fray makes it on Lifechurch.tv's Mixtape

Last week U2's window in the skies made the cut, this week it's "How To Save A Life" by the Fray.

Lifechurch.tv's pastor Craig Groeschel is doing a 4 part series using contemporary songs to show how "God can connect with us through his life-changing truth revealed through today's hottest music."

While, "How to Save a Life" did not make my top 10 list, I did predict it as a "runner-up" selection.

In the sermon, Groeshel uses this popular song and Mark 2:1-5;10-12 and this popular song by The Fray for his sermon.

The Fray's cd "How To Save A Life" was released September 2005 by Sony/Epic and has since climbed in many of the charts, the album peaking at 14 on Billboard 200, and the song has excelled on many of the charts.

The Denver based band, the Fray is led by frontmen Isaac Slade and Joe King. The video for this song is below, followed by a link to the teaching by Groeshel.



Watch this message video at LifeChurch.tv


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Friday, April 13, 2007

Priceless

Parking:
Free w/ Validated Parking Ticket

Movie Matinee for four:
$26 (thanks for paying dad)

Listening to your wife laugh while 2 men pair skate together:
priceless

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Lionsgate's Faith Based Films

The Lionsgate film studio has partnered with Thomas Nelson books, the largest Christian book publisher in the world.

Lionsgate in announcing the partnership will be working on distributing three dvd documentaries based on best-selling Christian author Lee Strobel's books, "The Case for Christ," "The Case for a Creator," "The Case for Faith."

Lionsgate is also the studio behind a film called "Church Boy" based on the life of Kirk Franklin, as well as the Thomas Kinkade inspired film "The Christmas Cottage."

Thomas Nelson publishing is the 6th largest publisher in the world, and so a partnership of this nature is surely an effort for Lionsgate to bring in the same crowd of people that swarmed to see the Passion. Also Lionsgate's Christian-based films will certainly create a market of competion with the films being produced by FoxFaith and Sony (who has distributed the Left Behind films).

(source)

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Reel People: Jared Padalecki is Thomas Kinkade

The film is the Christmas Cottage directed by Michael Camus. The film tells the story of the commerical artists' early days when he was motivated to begin a career in painting.

Thomas Kinkade was born in 1958 in Sacramento, California. He attended college at UC Berkley and the Art Center of College and design in Pasadena, California. It has been said that Kinkade was inspired to paint after he found out his mother Maryanne Kinkade was potentially going to loose their family home, at which point he painted the Christmas cottage (right). Kinkade experience great success in the 1980s illustrating with James Gurney The Artists Guide to Sketching. These artists also created the background work for the 1983 animated film Fire and Ice.

Thomas Kinkade since has become the most collected living artists. Kinkade and friend Kenneth Raasch started Media Arts Group, where Kinkade was marketed as the "Painter of Light." Largely embraced by embraced by evangelical Christians, Kinkade uses an impressionistic style, often painting cottages and church scenes in pastel colors with great luminosity. Kinkade has sold many paintings through his website, home-shopping channels, and in mall stores. Kinkade reportedly made $53 million between 1997 and 2005.

In the film The Christmas Cottage, Peter O'Toole will be in this film as Glen Weissler, one of Kinkade's mentors. And who is Jared Padalecki? He is most known for his role on the TV shows Gilmore Girls and Supernatural, and for a role in the film House of Wax. Marcia Gay Harden is also rumored to be in this film.

Could his portrayl of a real person could earn Padalecki some critical awards attention this year for his portrayal of this Real (Reel) Person. (Probably not, but I couldn't help but add it to the series)

Monday, April 09, 2007

Kaufman's Players and Their Busy Schedules

Every movie that Charlie Kaufman has ever produced and written has earned him an academy award nomination and nominations for part of the acting crew, except for his film Human Nature.

Granted, that only leaves three films Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. But all three of these films produced and written by Kaufman have their own modern day classic appeal. Nominated Actors/Actresses from these films include: Catherine Keener, Chris Cooper, Nicholas Cage, Meryl Streep, and Kate Winslet.

So what's going to happen when the ever creative Kaufman takes the director seat for his film Synecdoche, New York.

The film which reminds me of Superman Returns meets the Science of Sleep deals with a theatrical director trying to create a life size replica of New York City inside of a warehouse.

The strength of Kaufman's cast is tremendous, and you've got to wonder which of these people will walk away with a nomination from this picture.

The film stars:
  • Academy Award winner Phillip Seymour Hoffman
  • Academy Award 2-time nominee Catherine Keener (incidental once for a Kaufman film and once co-staring with Hoffman...could this be an ideal work environment for Keener)
  • Academy Award 2-time nominee Samantha Morton (Sweet and Lowdown, In America)
  • Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams (I still sometimes have a hard time believing this Dawson's creeker has that type of notoriety)
  • And the not yet nominated, but critically praised Tilda Swinton
In this list, it's hard to figure out who automatically might shine in the film and who will be noticed. But each of these actors have other critical projects this year to, so I expect to see some double sited critics awards for some of these stars.

  • Hoffman is also in three other major projects this year (Charlie Wilson's War, Before the Devil Knows Your Dead, and The Savages)
  • Catherine Keener is also in the bio-pic An American Crime and Sean Penn's directorial film Into the Wild
  • Samantha Morton also plays Mary Queen of Scots in the Golden Age and in the film Control (as well as the romantic comedy about a meter maid called Expired).
  • Michelle Williams appears as the title character in Bronte, as well as has a role in I'm Not There, and the action-thriller The Tourist.
  • Tilda Swinton has five other projects scheduled for 2005 (most notably appearing in Michael Clayton and the title character in Julia)

Talk about a work load for some very talented actors. I think Keener has the best chance at a supporting nod for this film, call it a calculated hunch. And if the film is any good, Kaufman can at least expect that they will make way for him in the original screenplay category since no one is quite as original as Kaufman.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

U2's Window In The Skies makes it onto Lifechurch.tv's MixTape

Lifechurch.tv's 1st (of 4) MixTape song was one that certainly didn't make my list. The song for this week's easter sermon series was Window in the Skies by U2 off the 2006 best of cd, U218 Singles which has classic tracks on it (Sunday Bloody Sunday, Pride, Beautiful Day, etc) in addition to two new songs, including "Window in the Skies," U2's final track on the album.

Below is the U2 music video of the new song. In the sermon, also posted below as a link, Craig Groeschel, teaches a sermon using this U2 song along side bible passages as his "text" for Easter Sunday. It's certainly worth a listen.

This song, did not make my top ten or runner's up list for predicted songs (or any commenters list). Yet, I don't really think of this song as one of today's hot hits, although of course the influence of Bono and u2 over the decades is undeniable. At least twice in the teaching, Craig prophetically mentions that the song, not popular yet, "will be." (So far, this song has only peaked at 26 on Billboard's Hot Adult Top 40 charts, and 32 on their Hot Modern Rock Tracks). (Craig, I will be watching to see if this song popularity increases.)



I you to watch the lifechurch.tv teaching below, and to express your thoughts in the comments below.

Watch this message video at LifeChurch.tv


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Friday, April 06, 2007

Children on The Laps of Rabid Bunnies

I am perplexed. Why would you want to sit on the Easter Bunny's lap?

I can understand Santa Clause...there is a mythos of Santa Clause that has been widely created by books, songs, movies, and cultural stories. In fact, films offer different thoughts as to why a kid would want to sit on Big Red's lap. Talking to the big man himself you might create a case for your personal goodness and why you deserve excellent things in your stocking. You are likely to even make suggestions, etc.

But what do you say when you sit on the Easter Bunny's lap? Does the Easter bunny care if you're good or bad...do you make a plea for 70% cacao Godiva chocolate?

There's no good songs about the Easter bunny (I challenge you to name one).

There's no good books about Easter Bunny (Watership Down and the Velveteen Rabbit are definitely not stories about Easter Bunnies).

And frankly most Easter bunny costumes are ugly, frumpy and down-right scary.

I recently asked some friends how mall's could capitalize on Jewish parents in the Spring, and clearly the best Passover exploit would be to have children stand under a door frame with blood dripping on it overhead. Not as cute, but Grandparents always love pictures.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Will Mendes Turn His Wife Into Gold?

A couple months ago I asked if Kate Winslet will receive an academy award anytime soon.

I suggested possible roles for Winslet (a prostitute, a famous person, a role that requires drastic weight gain, etc.)

And it's hard to say, but Winslet is creating buzz for reuniting with Titanic co-star Leonardo DiCaprio and also entering under the director lens of her husband Sam Mendes in Revolutionary Road.

Yet is Allison Wheeler the main character of Richard Yates' novel dealing with 1950s disallusionment, as on the outside life looks good, but in reality Wheeler desperatly wants to be a French actress.

A dose of psycho-ness is certainly something that might catch the Academies attention, and a 1950s housewife living in Connecticut certainly earned Julianne Moore a nomination in Far From Heaven...but Winslet doesn't need another nomination...she needs to go for the win, and this project is full of nomination potential but certainly not sounding really winner-esque for Winslet (or DiCaprio).

But what am I talking about this for? This doesn't come out until 2008...there's still a whole year of awards before we even get close to this one.

How I Perceived the Pursuit When I First Saw The Trailer

After posting my initial thoughts after watching The Pursuit of Happyness, I realized that I blogged about the film when I saw the first preview of the film last October.

Here's some interesting comments I made based on the trailer...

"...happy holiday movie..." HARDLY

"...a feel good drama about a father who wants to get custody of his son, and pursues a professional career in order to get his life together in order to get custody of his son and raise him the way he wants to." Um, did I not know how to use google last year? This was clearly not the premise. A preview only shows you so much.

"Will Smith looks like he does a good job in the role..." That he does!

Other Notes: I loved the comment in October Paula made when she said after watching the preview... "The thing that gets me...overcoming hardship for your own self is one thing, but struggling through with a child and keeping your spirits up for their sake...that is a level of sacrifice that, unless you have a child yourself, you may not understand."

Katherine, also asked if there was an autobiography about Chris Gardner, the book can be found here on amazon, although I know nothing about the book vs. the movie.

One last note, the movie made me want to buy a Rubik Cube...this is what I would love any faithful blog readers to buy me as a blog present.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Dis-happyness

Warning this post contains spoilers about the film The Pursuit of Happyness.

My wife, Kimberly, gets very stressed out during movies where characters are in positions were they lack security. So, needless to say, The Pursuit of Happyness was a nerve racking film for her.

Yet, during the film, I was bothered thematically with the message. For much of the film, it seemed to address various ideas about Thomas Jefferson's clause in the declaration that stated that we had the unalienable right to the pursuit of happiness.

And in the film, Will Smith, playing the part of Chris Gardner, struggles with these concepts as he and his son deal with homelessness and poverty while Gardner struggles to get a job as a stock broker for Dean Witter Reynolds (now Morgan Stanley).

Yet, the film, to me ended up being just a depressing version of Legally Blonde. Despite the fact that the film deals with questions of whether true happiness is ever attainable, the final answer to the question is that if we work hard enough, we can pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and become rich, which surely must equate with happiness.

While the interaction between Smith and his real life son in the film, are the most touching moments of the film, it's hardly much different plot wise than Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoons) devotion to fashion and image while struggling to make it as a lawyer in Legally Blonde.

Hard work does pay off, and financial security is surely preferable to poverty, and achieving for the sake of family is beyond honorable, but what if Chris Gardner wasn't impressively smart? or what if he still hadn't made the cut with Dean Witter to get the job? And how is the loss of his wife reconcilable?

To me this film left me incredibly unsatisfied. I think I would appreciated if it had just told the story of Chris Garnder's life or that time period in Chris Garnder's life, without trying to attach his story to something bigger and grander, especially something as obtuse as happiness.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Predicting LifeChurch.tv's Songs for Mixtape 07

Lifechurch.tv one of the most talked about churches in America, namely for it's innovative approaches in technology and use of multi-site campus' is launching a new sermon series beginning Easter weekend entitled Mixtape 07. While other churches will be doing Easter pageants and dramatic sermons about the central moment in Christian faith (the death and resurrection of Jesus), lifechurch.tv will kick off a four week series focusing on how "God can connect with us through his life-changing truth revealed through today's hottest music."

Over the course of four weeks, each weekend will focus on a different hit song during it's weekend church experiences.

These four songs have not been revealed, and so I've decided to create a top 10 of what I believe might show up on lifechurch.tv's mixtape. I've assumed that the songs most be very current, they may spread multiple genres, and will be songs that many people will already know. And of course, must be songs that can be turned to have some spiritual dimension.

Here are my top ten possible songs that could end up on the lifechurch.tv mixtape.

1. Waiting for the World To Change - John Mayer
2. If Everyone Cared - Nickelback
3. You're Beautiful - James Blunt
4. Unwritten- Natasha Bedingfield
5. It's Not Over - Daughtry
6. Don't Matter - Akon
7. Stand - Rascal Flatts
8. Wasted - Carrie Underwood
9. There's Hope - India.Aire
10. What Goes Around Comes Around - Justin Timberlake

Next 10 - Runners up: Better Life, Keith Urban; The Sweet Escape, Gwen Stefani; What If, Coldplay; How To Save A Life, The Frey; Not To Late, Norah Jones; Anyway, Martina McBride; Pain, Three Days Grace; For Yesterday, 30 Seconds to Mars; Bad Day, Daniel Powter; Save Room, John Legend.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Satan as Protagonist in Upcoming Films

In recent years Satan has showed up in cinema played comically by Elizabeth Hurley in Bedazzled and dramaticly by Rosalinda Celentano in The Passion of the Christ (right).

Yet, in a time period where Pope Benedict XVI is reaffirming the realness of an eternal hell, there are a number of films on the forefront that will also be examing hell and Satan.

The newest buzz about a Satan-themed film is War in Heaven, dubbed to be "the next 300." This will be based off the yet published comic book series by Jeff Krelitz and is said to be: "a Braveheart-like storyline that ultimately follows Lucifer as he leads a rebellion in Heaven. Battle sequences shows legions of Angels, including Gabriel and Michael, battling with their brother Lucifer and his army of fallen Angels." (via)

War in Heaven is still certainly, a ways off. Similarly it's hard to tell when Scott Derrickson will begin full blown production of Paradise Lost, a film greenlighted last April (as mentioned on StrangeCulture). This film version of the classic epic poem by John Milton, like "War of Heaven" includes God as a character but focuses on the Devil as the central protagonist, a character in crisis.

And of course, even on the comic front, their is a film with the Devil as the central protagonist. Daniel Craig is set to play Satan in the "what if" movie called I, Lucifer. I, Lucifer is based Glen Duncas in which God gives Satan a shot of redemption if lives out a blameless life as a human.

Obviously the Father of Lies is no stranger to the film camera, but it will certainly be interesting to see how evil is embodded through Satan in the films that come out in the years ahead, and whether Satan will be portrayed as a real being or in a mythological or comicy way.

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