Friday, September 30, 2011

"Mean Girls"

Adolescence, and in particular “High School,” is a difficult period of life for anyone growing up in western culture. However, in the United States that time seems to be intensified and made worse by the subculture that has developed there. As an observer who never had the pleasure of experiencing it first hand, but then worked within the culture for over a decade, it is easy to see how much the culture at large has been affected (and damaged) by the way things are. It is no wonder that Joss Whedon was able to gain such popularity by satirizing High School as horror. The film subgenre of High School, be it comedy, drama or dramedy does a lot to highlight the dangers and problems with High School as it is today.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Closing Time"

“Closing Time” is an interesting episode for this season of Doctor Who. Not because of the Cybermen—who like the Daleks are becoming a bit tired for how ineffective they are as adversaries; and certainly not for the return of the Cybermat—a laughable menace every time they appear. It is interesting for the opportunity it presents the Doctor to learn something he very much needs to remember and for the way he does not—maybe cannot—learn said lesson.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Charlie's Angels 2011

This year ABC brought back one of their classic TV series form the 70s/80s, and one that Entertainment Weekly included in their Top 100 TV Shows of All Time list—albeit in the “Guilty Pleasure” section: Charlie’s Angels. Charlie’s Angels gets a bad rap. It is not a show devoid of plot and only good for watching beautiful women walk around in fashionable (or skimpy) outfits. Sure, it was often quite stupid, and the quality varied from season to season. However, at its best it was a detective show with suspense, mystery and action. It also did about as much to address women’s issues as it admittedly tended to objectified them.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ten Second Staircase by Christopher Fowler

This is one of those detective stories that suffers from one of the worst sort of problems a mystery can face: an obvious solution. Then again, if done right that can still be a positive because all detective fiction readers want to be able to figure out the mystery for themselves before the sleuth does. Here, it is pretty apparent from the start. If you think about the initial murder enough it is the only possible way things could have gone and every single clue revealed along the way serves to confirm it.


Monday, September 26, 2011

The God Complex

The writers of Doctor Who have been using more and more religious and divine imagery for the Doctor for some time, and now we go ahead and go all the way. In “The God Complex” our adventures end up in a hellish hotel, (comparisons to Kubrick’s “The Shining” are unavoidable) where every room contains a source of fear.

Friday, September 23, 2011

How To Be More Human

To be human is to be what God intended humanity to be. Anything less is to fall short of humanity. Of course, all have fallen short of what humanity is intended to be. All people are sinners, and this takes away from their humanity. Sin, although a part of every human’s life since Adam save one, is not a natural part of true humanity. This is why the first step to being more human is to encounter Christ at the cross. It is at the cross where a person becomes human.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


What is the better endeavor: to do imperfectly, or to just be an expert?

An example may clarify. Take the realm of blogging.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Nine Eleven Normal

Ten days ago, the blog world was abuzz with people relating their perspective on the biggest story of the century so far. Every telling was pretty much the same, it just varied as to where one was and how one heard… most everyone had seen it happen via television.

Ten years ago today, “America: A Tribute to Heroes” aired on all the televisions across America. It represented well the atmosphere in those early days of the post-9/11 world. Unity: laying aside differences and valuing what mattered was the shared state of mind. It is funny how real threats and dangers help people to prioritize things well and see each other as human beings. Sadly, even though we could not fathom life returning to normal, it did not take long for a new normal to set in. This new normal is in some ways worse than the old.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Happy Meal Church

How are churches these days like Happy Meals?

Somewhere along the way churches ceased being living communities of people of faith and became just another product trying to be sold. Today, issues like brand, marketing, focus groups, and soft launches are more a part of church plants than common belief and sharing life. So, much like a Happy Meal, many churches today are all about the appealing, relevant packaging. They produce messages targeted at getting the most people in the building and not causing any controversy or backlash. And you have to have multiple programs that people can choose like the toy that is really what the consumer is looking for, forget the food.

Monday, September 19, 2011

"Radical lite"

It has been over a year since David Platt’s book “Radical” made its way into the global conversation and presumably many people have completed their “one year experiment.” I wonder how that worked out for them.

I did not read the book until recently and not because I had any problems with the ideas. On the contrary, what I have heard from Platt and what I know of his heart made me sure that we would be on the same page. We are, but the book still left me feeling a little let down. If anything I feel like it did not go far enough. That is not to say that the ideas are incomplete; and not that the message was lacking. The problem is the whole way the message delivery occurred and the context into which it was delivered.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

1980 in Film

1980 and 1981 are weak years in my own personal film experience. I simply have not seen as many films beginning in these years and going back in film history. In earlier years that translates into fewer poor films as those tend to not stand the test of time, but for these early 80s year I have simply seen very few films. After these two years I will limit myself to listing top films of decades:

Friday, September 16, 2011

Dead Again (1991)

 It is amazing what twenty years can do to your memory, or perhaps what twenty years of development as a person will do to the way you think about things. Twenty years ago, Kenneth Branagh released his second feature which was his first non-Shakespeare film. Twenty years ago, I really was impressed with it. Now I still find it good, but not great.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Cause all the nations
To come to your faith
To join in a chorus
To sing of your ways.
Bless all the peoples
With your holy song
Sung to the heavens
Sung all as one.
“Show us your face, Lord.
We seek your gaze.
For when your eyes are on us
So too is you grace!”

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hard Boiled

I have a lot of books that I need to/intend to read and talk about here. I even took a couple that I need to finish on my last trip away from computer and television access. However, the place I stayed had a whole library of pulpy, entertaining fiction; so I naturally read one and a half of those novels instead of what I needed to read. 

Red Harvest is a novel I have wanted to read for a long time. I have not had the chance to read any of Dashiell Hammett’s five novels before, but now I am seeking them all out. The man had a way with words! He created so many phrases and twists of sentences but avoided clich├ęs (or created a lot of them!) His prose is such a joy to read that you can actually make it through all of the terrible things happening in the story!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Hermione is a character that a lot of Harry Potter fans tend to identify with, and not just the girl fans. Rowling has hinted that she saw herself in Hermione, and perhaps that is why she is so recognizable. In some ways she is the most heroic character of the series. Harry is fated to greatness, so not many can truly identify with him, and Ron is a bit useless, so we don’t want to see ourselves as him that often. Hermione, on the other hand, is smart and resourceful.

Monday, September 12, 2011

"The Girl Who Waited"

In the original run of Doctor Who you had a series about a time traveler so that you could tell any story in time and space that you wanted. For the most part, they stayed away from telling actual time travel stories. Those stories are hard to tell because they usually don’t stand up to any thought.

These days, not just Doctor Who but all science fiction seems quickly willing to tell stories that wholly revolve around time traveling complications.

Friday, September 9, 2011

"Explorers" 1985

I saw Joe Dante’s “Explorers” around my twelfth birthday. I remember that it had a lot of promise starting out, but that it really fell apart in the third act. If you read around it looks like the studio got tired of waiting around for a finished product and released the film in a near “working print” status. Showing it to my kids today, it gets the same reaction. They like the premise and the build up, but the ending just doesn’t seem fully cooked.

That is a shame, really, because the idea is one worth pursuing.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

CSV: The Culture Shock Vacation

If you live in Europe, or anywhere else in the world where you live in such close proximity to other cultures and languages, you might want to consider a culture shock vacation. A CSV is very different from your average vacation, and certainly not for everyone. It can be an extremely rewarding experience for those brave enough to try it.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

"Fil Rouge"

          In German, there is a phrase: “Roter Faden.”  It comes from Goethe’s novel “Elective Affinities.”  It has the same meaning as the English phrase: “common thread.”  In French, it would be translated as “le Fil Rouge.”  “Fil Rouge” is also the title of a great short film from 2008 written and directed by Luc Plissonneau.  It has made some appearances at festivals, and is available to view online.  Plissonneau has another film about to start making the festival circuit.  He is a talent to keep an eye on.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Buffy Rewatch (Season 5d)

This post is inspired by the ongoing Buffy Re-watch being conducted over at Nik at Night. Check them out for a better, more detailed look at each episode every Tuesday.

<--Season 5c  Season 6a-->

The last few episodes of season five feel a bit like one long storyline. This is not so uncommon these days, but back at the end of the nineties this was still pretty novel. “The X Files” had pioneered telling an overarching story during a season, and Buffy had followed suit, but season five had very few stand alone episodes and these last ones are a sprint to the finish line.

18. Intervention

Buffy finally finds a way to approach the source of her power and discovers that: “Death is your gift.” She will misinterpret this message right up until the very end. Meanwhile, Spike has commissioned himself a “Buffybot.” Hilarity (and revulsion) ensues. However, Spike proves himself by standing up to Glory to save Dawn.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Night Terrors

Well, it finally happened. Doctor Who wasted my time. “Night Terrors” started out rather interesting. It conveyed that fear from childhood—the one where you lay in bed afraid of what lies just out of sight—perfectly. In fact, it may have done it too perfectly; because in the same way as a child I was afraid of stuff that wasn’t really there…

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Rango: Play Your Part

Many people seem to have had a hard time with “Rango.” As an animated film, it obviously should be primarily for kids, have a simplistic plot, lines that are easy to understand, and a few fart jokes as the pinnacle of its comedic intent. Instead, it is primarily a story for adults, with a lot to say, delivered in lightening fast witty lines that require a lot of life experience and film knowledge to fully appreciate—and it goes way beyond farts.


     It is an exciting time to be alive. With the internet and an increasingly global, shared culture there is a chance today to be a part of world-wide conversations. There is still the local community level of things—with the shared experiences, places, and events—to which most of the population of the world is limited. However, there is the reality that just about anywhere in the world some people have shared experience through the stories in books, movies, television and news that enables us to have things to talk about. And we can truly engage in conversations around the world.

     Is that why we are increasingly “spoiler” obsessed as a culture? Or is it that the stories we tell have reduced in quality?
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