Monday, May 30, 2011

30 Rock: Season 1 Reflections

So, I know I'm behind the times, so pretend it's 2006. We've recently begun watching 30 Rock, from the beginning. So for those who watch, let this be a reminder of what you enjoyed in season 1.

Here are my favorite things, performances, and memories in this season.

► Actor/Character who made me laugh the most: Tracy Morgan as Tracy Jordan
► Actor/Character not in the main credits who I wished was: Keith Powell as Toofer
► Most Comical Boyfriend of Liz Lemon (Tina Fey): Dean Winters as Dennis Duffy the Beeper King
► Most Comical Girlfriend of Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin): Condoleezza Rice (no actress played the part, just regularly referenced)
► Favorite Celebrity Playing Themselves: Chris Matthews in the episode "Hard Ball" (1.15).
► Favorite limited role performance: Emily Mortimer as Phoebe (3 episodes)
► Most Disturbing limited role performance: Paul Ruebens as Gerhardt (1 episode)
► Favorite Joke: Jenna's movie "The Rural Juror" which no one knows how to pronounce.
► Comic who didn't make me laught: Main credit actor Judah Friedlander as Frank Rossitano.

See responses to these same topics for: Season 2.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Reel People: Brad Pitt is Billy Beane

The film is Moneyball. Money Ball is directed by Bennett Miller (Capote) with a script by Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zillian. The film Moneyball is based on the book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis, author of another recently successful cinematic conversion, The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game.

Billy Beane

William Lamar Beane III was born in 1962 in Orlando, Florida. He grew up in San Diego, California. His father, a naval officer, taught him how to pitch and encouraged his athleticism, which led him to play baseball, basketball and football.

Billy Beane decided that he wanted to focus on baseball during the end of his high school years, and despite this, Stanford tried to recruit Beane on a joint baseball and football scholarship. Stanford hoped that Beane could be their replacement quarterback for John Elway. Yet, Beane's dedication and being drafted by the Mets in 1980 led Beane to choose Baseball over Stanford. He would play in the minors while attending the University of California San Diego. At UCSD he would get his bachelor's degree in economics.

The Mets earlier draftee Darryl Strawberry went straight to the majors, but Beane's ability didn't pan out as expected. Beane would make his major league debut in late 1984 with the Mets, and over the course of six years in the majors (playing for the New York Mets, the Minnesota Twins, the Detroit Tiger's and the Oakland Athletics's) would play as a reserve outfielders. The sustainability of Beane's major league baseball career was in jeopardy and his player career ended after 1989 season (his career batting average .219 with 66 hits), despite the fact that the A's won the world series in 1989. Beane did not play a single game in the world series.

In 1990 Beane approached Oakland Athletic's General Manager Sandy Alderson during spring training asking for a job as an advance scout, and he held this position through 1993 when he was then given the position of Assistant GM to the A's in 1994.

Major changes occurred in the A's in 1995 when team owner Walter A Haas Jr. died, and his high spending salaried where adjusted. New owners Stephen Schott and Ken Hoffmann took over as owners order GM Sandy Alderson to slash payrolls.

Alderson and Beane worked together to make one of the most cost-effective teams in baseball using the baseball statistical analysist known as "sabermetrics" to try to determine empirically which players had the highest and lowest team value.

In 1998, Sandy Alderson left the Athletics to work for the Major League Baseball commissioner's office as executive vice president for baseball operations. Billy Beane became the team's general manager during this transition.

Billy Beane continued to run a lien team which had one of the lowest payrolls, but the highest success, particularly in light of the low payroll.

In 2003, Michael Lewis' book, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, focused largely on Billy Beane's lean financial strategies and success.

In 2006, Beane's team was in the American League Division Series where they bet the Twins, but otherwise Beane's ability to have a winning season has been limited, and the team has not gone to the playoffs since 2006. One of the reasons some people believe Beane's team performance has decreased over the years is that other General Managers have begun to use similar empirical systems to value players.

In 2007, Beane was given a position on the board of directors for softwear company, Net Suite, Inc, (NYSE: N). Beane was asked to join the company due to his ability to combine empirical data with instinct in buisness decision making functions.

Beane's current contract currently extends to the end of 2012. He lives in California with his wife Tara, and their two twins. He also has a daughter, Casey, born in 1992 from his first marriage.


The long awaited film project originally was to be directed by Steven Soderbergh with a script by Stan Chervin. Chervin continues to get story credit for the film, but the script was significantly re-written by Aaron Sorkin (who recently one the Oscar for his screenplay for the biopic The Social Network) and Steven Zillian (also an Oscar winner, he won for Schindler's List).

In the film, Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane as the general manager of A's. While Jonah Hill plays the part of Peter Brand, a finctional character based on Paul DePodesta who was Beane's assistant at the time Michael Lewis' Money Ball was written.

Phillip Seymore Hoffman plays Art Howe (who managed the Oakland A's from 1996-2002).

Baseball players portrayed in the film include Scott Hatteberg (played by Chris Pratt), David Justince (played by Stephen Bishop), Miguel Tejada (played former baseball player, actor Royce Clayton), and John Mabry (played by David Hutchinson).

Child actress Kerris Dorsey plays Casey Beane and Cold Case star Kathryn Morris plays Tara Beane.

Robin Wright Penn also appears in the film.

Brad Pitt has received two Oscar nomination (Twelve Monkeys and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). Will Pitt receive another Oscar nomination or perhaps even a win for his portrayal of this Reel (Real) Person?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Disney Seal Deal Withdrawl

Earlier this month I shared how Disney was attempting to patten the term "SEAL Team 6" for the purpose of movies, TV, clothes, stocking stuffers, and video games. This after the elite military team took out Osama bin Laden.

Protecting themselves from what could be a long drawn out battle (and who wants to battle Navy SEALs), Disney pulled back this week and withdrew it's trademark request particularly after the U.S. Navy voiced not only dissatisfaction but willingness to fight over their rights to trademark something that they believed they owned.

In fact, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article on the subject, days after Disney put in their trademark request, the Navy requested rights for 'SEAL Team' and 'Navy SEALs.'

Apparently, the real name of this elite team "Naval Special Warfare Development Group" or DEVGRU. Which is interesting, because it apparently isn't as catchy as team 6, although I sort of like it better.

So, will we see a movie of this in our lifetime, I'M SURE. But will it be Disney? I suppose that's up for some negotiation.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sesame Street's "What I Am" with

Over a year ago, I shared the joy of watching catchy Sesame Street songs with my toddler on youtube, particularly those songs that have celebrity performances.

Last year around this time the hit was Destiny's Child "New Way To Walk."

We certainly have some favorites, although my almost-three year old daughter has an attention span that extends beyond a 90 second sesame street song, although she certainly is not too old to enjoy watching some Sesame Street songs.

Recently, we've discovered a new favorite gem. I won't lie -- this one for some reason sort of makes me tear up when my almost three-year old daughter and I stumble through the lyrics together.

Surprisingly, I can't find it for sale or for download. So, no "What I Am" in the car with the kids.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Passion of Joan of Arc, Torture, & Sherlock Holmes

The Passion of Joan of Arc
Recently I watch The Passion of Joan of Arc, the 1928 French silent film (for those who are scratching their head on how a silent film can be in another, the little black screens between scenes that tell you what people are saying are in with subtitles, the impact of it being foreign is minimal).

Carl Theodore Dryer's film tells the story the story of Joan of Arc's trial in England, include her imprisonment, torture and death.

The element of torture in this film is done so strikingly because I found the emotional torture and games played to be far more villainous and hard to watch then I would have expected. A scene that really struck me was when Joan, who in act of protest has committed to wear male clothing until the English leave France, is given the opportunity to attend mass. Deeply devoted to the Lord, she longs to do so, but then is told she can only do so if she changes her clothes.

Caught between her convictions she is forced to make a choice, and a choice that creates an opportunity to be seen as unfaithful by the religious leaders trying to pin her to a confession that she hasn't encountered God as she has claimed.

Every so often, I'm struck my how I feel about torture. Over the years of blogging, I find myself returning to this topic.

But I find myself becoming increasingly appalled at the idea of torture. I think I struggle with the concepts of torture in any context, whether examples of abuse in the context of culture, the home (physical or sexual) or political.

And I think this type of polical-religious torture in Joan of Arc is so disturbing as well (not to mention the soft-gentleness of Maria Falconetti's portrayl of Joan in the film).

I think I struggle to find a context where as a rule or policy torture is acceptable. I understand that sometimes in war hard choices need to be made, and it's hard to know what it is like to have to make such choices, but I must be honest, I find myself unable to tolerate the idea in any context.

Sherlock Holmes

I think the challenge with torture in the sense of war and criminal behavior is that in these scenarios there is justifiable situations where someone is known to have information or be involved in evil schemes but without a confession or exposing information those trails can go cold, and so torture starts to seem like a unfortunate, but justifiable means to an end.

I think that it is this less-than-flattering thought that speaks to the magic of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes series, and the film and television spinoffs that the concept of Holmes has created.

In a Holmes story (or any modern spin-off, whether that's the TV show Fox's House, MD or USA's Psych) there is these ridiculously smart "detective types" who are capable of solving crimes (medical or criminal) without needing to interact with people in any way beyond simple observation.

The idea that physical clues speak louder than human words has an appeal - these masterminds don't have to hurt or torture the criminals, they just have to outsmart them and pin them in a corner with clues and facts.

Perhaps this is romanticized crime fighting. But I think in the realm of entertainment, there's something magical in the Sherlock Holmes style story that cuts the torture from the criminal story.

Images from The Passion of Joan of Arc and Psych (James Roday and Dule Hill).

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Tree of Life & Cannes

If you're the type of person who makes Oscar prediction list, often well before it's truly appropriate, then Terrance Mallick's The Tree of Life may have previously appeared on those list.

If I recall right, this film has been in some form of talks since 2005, and so for the past three years I've been seeing this film on people's best picture prediction list, often including certain stars as contenders in the acting races (especially Jessica Chastain).

So finally the film universe can collectively release an anticipatory sigh of relief that this film has finally premiered. The Tree of Life, which premiered at the Cannes film festival has finally come out! And with so much anticipation, it's hard to fully measure what that said about the film. Was early excitement over-rated, or less than excitement a reflection of hopes raised too high?

Whichever the case, the film has now gone on to win the Golden Palm. The Palm d'Or the biggest prize of the competition is not in itself indicitive of later award season success.

Typically the non-English language film winners have seen little play in award season, but in a situation like The Tree of Life winning, you have to think this is more like a win for a film like The Pianist (2002) or Pulp Fiction (1994), rather than the Irish fim The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006), or the Thai winning film from last year Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010).

Actor/Actress Side-Note

Similar hits and misses with award season occurs in the actor and actress race, so based on those trends I would say this years French-winning actor Jean Dujardin (The Arist) probably won't be on Oscar contender, but I expect people to suggest the possibility of this years female winner, Kristen Dunst (who won for Lars Von Tier's Melencholia).

Pictured is Kristen Dunst at the Cannes closing ceremony and an international released poster for The Tree of Life featuring a still of Brad Pitt.

The Golden Carrot (or, Thoughts on the Palm d'Or)

The Cannes International Film Festival wraps up shortly with a presentation to the director of the best film in competition. The winner receives the prestigious Palm d'Or (which is French for The Golden Palm).

Other international film festivals seem to enjoy there prizes having this same naming convention. In Berlin you win the Golden Bear, and in Venice you win the Golden Lion.

So what if a film festival came to your home town...what type of golden prize might your winner take home?

Today's Parade Magazine listed food festivals across the United States...perhaps this is a good place to start for what your cities prize might be.

Should a festival in Kauai, Hawaii award the Golden Coconut? Or New Mexico award the Golden Chili Pepper? Or in Idaho present the Golden Potato?

And while Gilroy, California could host a festival and award the Golden Garlic Clove award, I think I'd rather Holtville, California award the Golden Carrot.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Small Things - Big Problems

Just as a point of clarity, I full understand I am saying nothing new in this post.

Once Seth The Sportsman helped me figure out why my valves on the outside weren't set up right, and then how to fix my RPZ valve (Reduced Pressure Zone Device), I ran into another problem

Seth could not anticipate my third problem. I still had water spraying out of the drain valve near my sprinkler water shut-off.

Another youtube video called this my "drain nipple" and believe me, I was a little fearful google searching sprinker drain nipple - but the search results were not only tame, but also unhelpful.

Frustrated, I took a break and came back to it the next day where I traded out my "drain nipple" with another "drain nipple" on the same system. The nipple was leaky no matter where I put it.

I took my leaky nipple to the hardware store, and quickly realized that the guy there did not call it a drain nipple, but rather a valve...and I quickly confirmed, not feeling fully confident using this term in public.

Instead, we got a new valve after some searching and the difference between mine and the replacement was a rubber stopper in the bottom that had apparently fallen out of mine during the winterization process.

Three dollars later, I'm back in business and I've replaced the tiniest part (missing a tinier part inside) and everything was how it should be.

But the lesson there is HUGE - and that is SMALL things can make a BIG difference. I know you know it already, but it's so true (and sometimes frustrating, unless you find the fix, and then you pat yourself on the back).

Pictured is my drain valve I replaced. There's a little rubber piece inside that was missing which caused water to spray out like crazy in my utility closet.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Disney & Seal Team 6

I saw word of this on twitter and had to confirm. The United States Patent and Trademark Office List the request made by Disney Enterprise, Inc. for "Seal Team 6" the Navy Seal team that took down Osama Bin Laden.

Here's a summary of their trademark request (filed May 3, 2011) just two days after Osama Bin Laden was killed.

Trademark Request One (85310970): Entertainment & Education Services

Trademark Request Two (85310966): Toys, games and playthings; gymnastic and sporting articles (except clothing); hand-held units for playing electronic games other than those adapted for use with an external display screen or monitor; Christmas stockings; Christmas tree ornaments and decorations; snow globes

Trademark Request Three (85310957): Clothing, footwear and headwear

It's an interesting world where the entertainment world, and the political world combines like this. I must admit, it's a little disheartening. I'm sure some will claim it's brilliant oopportunitism, or that if it wasn't Disney it'd be someone else.

I'll be interested to see what ends up being done with these trademarks and if any Navy Seal's Killing Osama Bin Laden become a snow globe, T-Shirt, Disney video game, or movie.

DIY & YouTube

My handyman skills rank LOW on the do-it-yourself scale. But, my google search skills are high.

My wife makes fun of the fact that I regularly do a youtube search to figure out to fix things, I think every year over the past couple years, I've needed a little help de-winterizing my sprinklers.

This year, was no exception. In fact, with water spraying from the sprinkler box and this year, Seth The Sportsman came to the rescue with this video (no need to watch it unless you're having the de-winterization blues).

Thank you, Seth - even the problem you had turning on the sprinkler's in your video ended up being my first problem as well, and so got the triggered spring fixed. Go, Seth!

My wife, who makes fun of me for these searches is also amazed when these things get fixed, whether that's the sprinkler system, the garage door, or the garbage disposal. Then the praises come, even if the form of "wow, you actually fixed it."

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Things We Do Not Expect

"Things we do not expect, happen more frequently than we wish."
- Roman playwright, Titus Maccius Plautus

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Liam as Lincoln No More - Hello Day-Lewis

In 2006, I did a post excited about Steven Spielberg's film Lincoln, with a note of interest over the fact that Liam Neeson would be playing Lincoln, and in fact, I found it surprising the similarities in their looks, height, and even age.

5 years later, the film did not come out in 2007 as expected, Liam is out, and Daniel Day-Lewis is the star.

Like the casting of Liam Neeson, Daniel Day-Lewis is not an American actor, rather he's English with British and Irish citizenship.

Daniel Day-Lewis is current 54 (like Liam in 2006). Lincoln died at the age of 56.

But Day-Lewis' height doesn't stack up, he's guessed to be 6'1", compared to Lincoln's 6'4" (pre-top hat).

Daniel Day-Lewis is the star amongst a great cast (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Hawkes, Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Fields, Hal Holbrook).

Liam's performance vs. Day-Lewis performance are certainly different prospects, but as long as Daniel Day-Lewis isn't over the top it could be a fantastic performance.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Cooper, Hancock & Reitman revisited

In early 2010 I did a post about three directors, Scott Cooper, John Lee Hancock and Jason Reitman.

My praise for these three directors was that in 2009, despite their lack of celebrity status, they directed respected character films. These character films were relatively simple and focused on the actors and actresses in the performance in roles that connected both with audiences and with critics.

Based on their 2009 successes (Crazy Heart, The Blindside, Up In The Air) I expected that more than anything that they would have great casting power and that their films, and more specifically their casting decisions were worth watching.

Well in 2010 none of them directed a feature length film, as I would expect, but I was hoping that they would each be doing some work here in 2011. But the only one of them with a film set to come out this year in Jason Reitman who is coming out with the film Young Adult.

Young Adult pairs up Jason Reitman as director and Diablo Cody as screenwriter - after working together previously on the film Juno, which earned each of them an Academy Award nomination (and a win for Cody).

So, in getting on with my point I thought would speak to the cast that Raitman's film has attracted. The film stars Patrick Wilson and Charlize Theron.

Now Patrick Wilson sort of had his "critical success breakout" with Little Children but Oscar hasn't called his name yet, so I'm watching for that.

And Charlize Theron - well it's interesting because my January 2010 post about "casting" strangely mentions Theron - in describing the films these directors had done I said: "These aren't deglam projects like Charlize Theron in Monster, but performances that regular people will embrace as well." So...there's a little StrangeCulture trivia for you for the day.

But honestly, I think this could be the type of film directer that brings Charlize Theron back to Oscar night for the 3rd time (previously winning for Monster and being nominated for North Country).

So, if you're reading this wondering -- what's Young Adult even about, I will start by saying, based on my experience with Raitman, premise doesn't begin to tell you about the movie, but from what I've read it's the story about a divorced fiction writer (Theron) who returns to her home town to try to rekindle a relationship with her ex-boyfriend, who is now married with kids.

Generic premise, but I'm hopeful - it's Jason Reitman, who has impressed me with Juno, Thank You For Smoking, and Up In The Air.

And hopefully we'll see what Cooper and Hancock do soon.

Thursday, May 05, 2011


Maybe I'm wise beyond my years, or not wise at all - but it has become a common occurrence over the past year or so for the company to ask me if I would like to relocate.

This question regarding relocation always comes with this look that says "we'll make sure it works out real good for you" and I don't know if that means they're presenting be the bottom rung of a corporate ladder or flashing dollar sign eyes at me.

But regardless, I'm always really quick to say "no."

There was a time, my wife and I were living in the town we went to college and for our engagement and our first months of marriage we often dreamed and talked about what would get us to leave. We even talked about "work relocation" but knew it was impossible since we both worked for organizations that only existed in a single location -- where we lived.

My "career path" wasn't long term, and when an opportunity that was right came up - we moved.

But this scenario was different then what's presented now. Now, another major move since the one mentioned previously, we have settled in exactly the place we want to live, and would be happy to live here forever, we are near family, rooting ourselves in the lives of other people, and making home with young children.

All my "no" saying, has so far worked out, and other opportunities crop up where I work that certainly reinforce the previous decisions to avoid moving or taking jobs with frequent travel.

Frankly, I think the concept of relocation is a tricky one - even if I was forced to move to keep my job, I'd still say "no." The concept of place, family and home out-weigh the concept of job.

Some might suggest that the bad economy should make me more interested in such suggestions of making the company happy, but frankly, the economy makes it more worrisome because should something negative happen to my company, or a season of lay-offs the idea of being stranded in a city I don't like with a home or a lease sounds awful.

Additionally, with a working spouse who also is happy in her current work situation, the though of readjusting our entire lives around my career seems strange.

For other people, or perhaps in other times, the job factor might be higher in determining living location, but at least at this time in our lives, my professional life is, while an important part of my life, just a piece of my life. And thus, relocation just is not an option.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Vomit Enducing Summer Movie List (2011 Edition)

This is the 6th annual Vomit Inducing Summer Movie list…how crazy is that?

Previous early May list can be found here by year: 2006, 2007, 2008 , 2009, and 2010.

The goal of this list is to identify the worst summer movies before they come out. Granted there's an occasional good one that may slip through the list when re-reviewed year end -- but generally speaking this ends up being the worst of the worst.

May 6: Jumping the Broom
The poster with it's tag line "The Taylors are Downtown - The Watsons are Uptown" is enough in itself to do me in. Sorry Angela Bassett.

May 6: Haunted 3D
An Indian Horror film in 3D? Unless this film has a bollywood style dance like Slumdog Millionaire did at the end...not to mention a two and half hour run time. I couldn't be more confussed. Plus how many art house theaters have 3D screens?

May 13: Priest (in 3D)
A priest goes after vampires. Oh yea, and Paul Bettany plays the action hero in this horror film, and the cross on his forehead makes him look sort of like he wants to be Harry Potter.

May 20: 35 and Ticking
Not so interested in a movie that's about a premature midlife crisis at the age of 35. Sorry Meagan Good, I know your also in Jump The Broom, so my apologies for including you in two of the first four blah films of Summer 2011.

June 3: Beginners
Ewan McGregor finds out his dad, Christopher Plummer, is dying of cancer and has a young male lover. Pass.

June 17: The Art of Getting By
A romantic comedy staring Freddie Highmore (Finding Neverland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, August Rush). I don't think I'm ready for Highmore to be in that type of role. I don't care how old he is, I consider him to be 8 or 10 years old. This film premiered at Sundance under the title Homework. I'm uncertain which bad title is worst.

June 24: Bad Teacher
Cameron Diaz as a trashy middle school teacher. I'm done with Cameron Diaz and I'm done with middle school. It doesn't sound funny - it sound's awful. The poster makes me think of Christina Applegate and the 1991 film Don't Tell Mom The Baby Sitter's Dead.

June 24: A Little Help
Jenna Fischer and Chris O'Donnell star in a "comedy" about the life of a dental hygentist after the death of her unfaithful husband. Maybe I'm missing out on where the comedy comes into play. This film is not to be confused with The Help, the adapatation of the popular book coming out later in the Summer.

July 1: Monte Carlo
Nicole Kidman is one of the producers of this film about three friends pretending to be socialites in Monaco. Staring Selena Gomez, Katie Cassidy, and Leighton Meester. I'm afraid I will have no problem missing this film. This film makes me think it's a Ya-Ya Sisterhood Traveling Pants type of film.

July 15: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows (Part 2 in 3D)
Won't we all just be glad when this is over. I know some of you disagree. And you are probably too old for these books too, and that is sad. Also consider this the finale for the people who love Harry Potter so much, but also don't know how to read. Imagine their shock when they see how this all ends.

July 22: Friends With Benefits
Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake, after having film roles that were respected in 2010, do a low brow film that seems trashy, cliched and uninspired.

August 5: The Change-Up
It's like Freaky Friday, but freakier. Here's the summary: "A comedy in which a married guy switches bodies with his best friend in order to woo his co-worker." The film staring Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds. I'm not sure exactly who the audience is for this? People who want to change their bodies with one of their male friends?

August 5: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
The origin story that no one was waiting for. Staring that guy who bombed at the Oscars last year...what's his name again...oh yea, James Franco.

August 19:
Conan the Barbarian
How many people are going to be disappointed when the find out Conan O'Brien isn't in this film? Will Jason Momoa, the star of this Conan film do his predecessor Governor Arnold Schwarzenagger proud by also being nominated for a Razzie award?

August 19: Spy Kids 4: All The Time in the World
This could be a fun game - figure out what critics headlines might be for a title like this...I predict we'll see some articles called "SPY KIDS 4: I wouldn't see this film even if I had ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD."

August 26: Apollo 18
It's like the outer space version of The Blair Witch Project. Except this doesn't seem to have the buzz of say...Cloverfield. With a cheap production budget, a la The Blair Witch Project, it might get praised post release for his high profitability percentage (because it wouldn't take much) but I think it'll be more blah than amazing.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The Sermon on the Mount

"If you could go anywhere in time where would you go?" The question is one of those generic and awkward what if type of questions. They're the type of questions that take me too long to sort through to give an answer on the spot, because I want it to be right.

Usually (I think) my answer to that question would be to go to the time of Jesus - because, well, frankly, I can't imagine anything better than seeing Jesus during his time on earth. But for some reason, in my head I've always pictured being at the last supper.

But the reality of the matter is, the last supper despite some of it's glorious moments, also seems to carry with it some weighty moments as well that might be too bizarre to experience in hindsight - namely the knowledge that Jesus' death is just days away, and the disciples would probably not have had a clue. Similarly, the betrayal of Jesus by Judas is closely associated with this event.

So for whatever reason, I was thinking about this today, and realized that of all the times in Jesus' life I would want to see would be the early point in his public ministry when he gave the sermon on the mount. This teaching (found in Matthew 5-7) is really so powerful. While many of the teachings might seem less dramatic today, I can only imagine how these teaching were heard on the ears of the first hearers - but even today, some of these teachings are quite unique and powerful. Honestly, it many ways, it gets to the heart of something so unique about Jesus and what it means to follow Christ.

So to bring it full circle, I was thinking about this today, and realized of all the times in the life of Christ, this would be the time I would want to see if I could go anywhere during any time.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

The NFL Draft, Sports, My Daughter, and My Blog

The above video is one that was taken at our breakfast table this morning before church. My daugter, Linden, really got into football (as much as you can expect for a two year old) this past year, and particularly was fond of TCU quarterback Andy Dalton.

So we shared with her the news today that he had been drafted and would no longer be playing for TCU, but rather the Cincinnati Bangels.

That being said, when it comes to this blog, I normally focus on movies, with an occassional dip into other things that would fall into the cultural realm. Yet, over the past year, I've been toying with the idea of sports coverage - not because I have much to add to the conversation, or because my readers have a tendency towards a sports interest. But instead, because I think my lack of sports knowledge could find it's own comic niche her on Strange Culture - perhaps an effort to throw myself into the conversation in a way I previously didn't care. Not to mention, some of the most interesting times in sports are some of the least interesting time in the yearly film schedule, so perhaps it could work out?

And as for the draft -- I do have a couple thoughts.

1. Sports commentators during the draft are forced to talk for a long time between selections in which really no action is taking place, and there is little too discuss.
2. Sports commentators should have write in boxes underneath their name (similar to jeapordy) in which a record is kept of their guesses (right and wrong) throughout the course of the draft. Viewers seem to have an unusually high level of forgiveness to these sports casters who are consistently wrong in their guesses every 10 minutes.