Saturday, April 28, 2012

Two movies and a book

Thought I would share today about a good book I just read and two good movies I have seen.

Wife and I don't go to the movies very often except for the week between Christmas and New Year's. We talk about it a lot and have a lot of weekend conversations where we discuss going to see a movie. We'll even get so far as to look up the feature times.  In reality, though, we usually don't make it.

I have made two exceptions to this rule lately. Both movies I saw were based on books I had read -- Blue Like Jazz and Hunger Games.

Blue Like Jazz is an "indie" (independent) film based on Christian writer Donald Miller's book of the same name, the book that catapulted him to notoriety.  The film almost never happened. Nashville filmmaker Steve Taylor worked with Miller several years ago on making a movie out of BLJ but scrapped it when they decided they just didn't have the funds to make a film.

Some folks got wind of this and, long story short, raised the money through a web site. Each person that contributed is named as an associate producer in the movie's ending credits.

I loved Miller's book. It's a compilation of essays in which he candidly confesses his struggles with conventional Christianity.  He talked about moving from Houston, TX to Portland, OR where he attended a progressive liberal arts college (Reed).

Miller struck a nerve with believers and non-believers alike, especially believers like myself who have been left cold by more conventional Christian leaders who would purport to speak for all Christianity. Besides the message Miller delivers, affirming his faith, his writing is beautiful -- both sensitive and humorous. 

OK, this part was not supposed to be a book review but I get carried away.  I liked the movie Blue Like Jazz; I didn't love it. The movie presents a fictionalized account of Miller's life and his experiences at Reed -- very different from the book, while still conveying the same faith affirming message.

But it is not for the faint of heart, very much earning its PG-13 rating.  The fictionalized Donald Miller's experiences at Reed are crazy. I had to really stay with it, hoping for the resolution of the story that it did indeed have. It was worth it.


Hunger Games is based on the movie of the same name, the first of the trilogy by Suzanne Collins. I wrote about the book in this space right at the end of last year. I found the book incredibly weird but incredibly compelling.

The movie did the book justice with only a few insignificant departures from the story line. Unlike many movies I see based on a book I have read, many of the characters and scenes were very much as I had pictured them as I read. I highly recommend it.


After Wife and I visited Walt Disney world a few weeks ago, I couldn't quit thinking about its sheer mass. I mean, the place is huge, so much more than a theme park (well, it's four theme parks, but so much more).  I had been there a number of times but I had never really considered its enormity.

I was curious about some of the history behind WDW and how it all came about. I found a book, Married to the Mouse, by a college professor, Richard Foglesong.  Foglesong recounts Disney's early days in Orlando and the unlikely relationship developed among the city, the two counties on which the Disney developments sit, and "the Mouse."

The Disney company was able to become an entity unto itself, negotiating almost unheard-of deals with both city and county governments in central Florida. I found it fascinating, although the author is pretty detailed about land-use and government, which might bore you if you're not interested in that kind of thing.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Moving right along

I guess the older you get, the more you ask the question, "Where did the time go?"

If I look back on older posts on this blog, I see that theme a lot. And since I'm getting older all the time, I'll be asking that more and more, I guess. If you have an answer, I'm all ears.

Yesterday Daughter and I took a walk on one of the wonderful walking trails we have in our community. This one goes alongside some of the youth soccer fields and she saw some of her students playing.

Some things never change. There are the ones playing who already show some athletic prowess. There are some who are mildly interested. And then there are those who are much more interested in all the other things going on like butterflies or bugs or whatever, not quite sure the direction they are supposed to be kicking the ball, should the ball happen to come in their direction. To them I want to say, good for you, you have your whole life to grow up.

The parents were also much the same way they were back when mine were little -- some getting way too involved and worked up over 3 and 4-year-olds playing organized sports (which is probably too young anyway, but that's another post for another day), some cheering wildly for their child but not too concerned about the game's outcome and some not quite sure what's going on.

As we watched them for a while I was totally taken back to the time I was a parent watching one of mine play. In fact, as I looked at the parents looking on as their little ones ran around on the soccer fields, in my mind I became one of them and convinced myself that there really was not much difference in age between me and those parents.

I shared that with Daughter and she quickly brought me back to reality.


After such a mild winter and an early, warm spring, we are all shocked when temperatures plunged this weekend. Highs yesterday were in the mid to upper fifties, but you would think we had just had an Arctic blast. Parents on the aforementioned soccer fields yesterday were wrapped up in gloves, scarves and blankets.

That's a little extreme.


Younger Son is about to finish his first year of college, speaking of "where did the time go."  He'll be home for the summer in just a couple of weeks. He's going to visit Older Son and DIL for a few days in May, then will start his summer job when he gets back.

Daughter continues to be our "roommate" so we'll have a rather full house here compared to the norm.

Empty nest anyone? Not this one. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Still magical

As I wrote in my last installment, Wife and I spent a couple of days at Walt Disney World on the end of our recent Florida vacation. We had spent the first part of the week going to spring training baseball games.

I love Disney World. I am not a big theme park guy but I love Disney. Wife and I went there in 1985, the year after we married, and we took family trips with two of our three in 1995, then the whole crew in 2000.  In 2007, when I took Younger Son and three of his friends to spring training, we spent a day there. In '08, when Wife, Younger Son and I went again to spring training, we spent another day.

Of course if you want to "do" Disney World, you can't possibly do it all in a day, or even two. But no matter how much time you have, if you're in the Orlando area, you can hit a few high points.

Walt Disney World is huge, consisting of a total of four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom), water parks, hotels, a big shopping complex called Downtown Disney, a sports complex, and probably more that I don't even know about.

It is a totally different experience going to WDW as two adults. We could definitely be a lot more spontaneous and flexible, just taking things as they came. We made it to all parks except The Magic Kingdom.  We were headed over there but it started raining so we opted out.

We definitely got our money's worth at the other parks, though. We spent a lot of time reminiscing about our family trips there.  My rule was that we would not take a child until he/she was seven. I have no regrets about that decision. I have watched people at Disney World with babies in their arms and in strollers and they do not look happy. Babies in Mickey Mouse's lap will never remember it.

Wife and I rode one roller coaster, a new one at Animal Kingdom that has a Mount Everest theme. We were foolish to do that as our bodies no longer handle fast rides well, especially if they go backwards. We were both green when we got off. We talked ourselves out of being sick but we could have been. I think we learned our lesson.

It's still a very magical place, though, and there is always something new. Can't wait to go back.