Friday, May 30, 2008

Indiana Jones and The We Should Have Used Our Skulls To Write This Kingdom

SPOILER ALERT: I will be giving away all kinds of plot points in this post.

The key to watching INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL is this: Do not think.

I gave this advice to a friend who said, “Okay, I won’t think much.”

He missed the point entirely.

Don’t think AT ALL.

It may ruin the movie for you.

There is a lot of fun to be had in this flick, but an occasional thought will reveal that not much makes sense. So enjoy the pretty pictures and remember the good ol’ days when the lore established in the beginning paid off at the end.

Here is my short list of “A Few Ways Indy 4 Could Have Gone from “Hey, Look, There’s Harrison With a Fedora, I Like Him!” to “Wow, That Was A Good Movie””:

1- In the opening sequence, it is revealed what the mystery is about. I thought: “Cool, they are going to have an interesting, archeological explanation to Area 51, aliens, etc.” Clearly, it wasn’t just, well, aliens – or else they wouldn’t have given away the act three reveal in the opening sequence.

So suggestion #1: Come up with an interesting explanation to Area 51, aliens, etc.

2- When you got two menacing FBI guys with the power to destroy careers, and they promise that they will be watching every step that Indy makes from now on… maybe they shouldn’t disappear completely from the movie. They made a promise to Indy and to the audience…

3- Vine Swinging – If this were the first film, and it were Indy in the tree, rather than watching a monkey for three seconds and that translating that to instant Johnny Weissmuller level skill, Indy would’ve fallen into it. He would have fumbled, grabbed a vine, swung accidentally, run into another vine, grabbed it for safety, fell forward, run into another vine…

Then he would have realized that he was traveling forward, he would have smiled, grabbed a vine, and-

Run into a tree. Before grabbing another vine. The sequence would have been fun, funny, and disbelief would have been more willingly suspended.

4-The villains getting what they deserved: Should’ve been cooler than, “Oh, that guy shouldn’t have waited that extra three seconds before leaving,” and “Oh, that girl is, well, I have no idea what is happening. But I bet her head explodes.”

5- Let Indy have a moment with the aliens. Another cool setup (with absolutely no payoff) is when Indy realizes that the visitors are archaeologists – just like him.

They have common ground! They speak a common language! They understand each other!

They never interact!

Ah well.

6- If you got a cool visual, at least attempt to have it make sense. One of many examples: The guys’ skulls are hyper magnetic? Cool, sure, especially when following a trail of gunpowder through a warehouse.

But when these interdimensional dudes were alive, how did they manage to walk through the treasure room to get to their thrones without their heads being bashed in by flying tiaras and doubloons?

Wait, that’s thinking too much.

Just my (darn it, thinking again!) thoughts,


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Father Brown's Father

Today is G.K. Chesterton's birthday -- so I was going to post, but Jeffrey already did it better. Love the quotes that Jeff picked, including one relating to his own field:

“By a curious confusion, many modern critics have passed from the proposition that a masterpiece may be unpopular to the other proposition that unless it is unpopular it cannot be a masterpiece.”

Or my favorite Chesterton chestnut:

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”

Oh, for any of my "unchurched" friends reading this and feeling prickly about it --don't. He isn't talking about you -- he is talking to those of us in the church. Hard pressed to find any of us Christ-ians living Christ's ideal.

-Just my thoughts,


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Joy Drafts

As you are aware, my friend Cory is writing/directing the FRAGGLE ROCK movie.

What you may not know is that he is giving some great insights into his process of writing at the same time - where he manages to combine the words "joy" and "first draft."

Just my thougthts,


Friday, May 23, 2008

Lions and Crocodiles and Buffalo - Oh My!

At our church drama group’s meeting, friend Cassie did a little devotional on the this video.

I liked it so much, I’m stealing it.

So first, watch the video – Battle at Kruger.

Spoiler alert for the squeamish: it ends well. Really, it does. Trust me.

Okay, so now that you’ve watched the video – oh, wait some of you haven’t. That’s okay, I’ll wait.

Dum dee dum dum, dum dee dum…

Okay, now then:

Cassie saw this video a bit back, and like me she tends to see metaphors all around us. Here’s some of the metaphors she saw in the video, as it applies to our spiritual and community lives.

1. The Lions: Reminded her of 1 Peter chapter five, verses 8: “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

2. The Flight: First instinct when the attack comes is to pick up and run all willy nilly – rather than use our gifts and strengths to stand together. This leaves the weakest among us most vulnerable – ala Baby buffalo.

3. The Crocodile: Seems like over kill, that croc attack, doesn’t it? But the truth is, it is when we are at our lowest, when we are suffering that the attacks compound on us. As the Irish say, “When it rains, it pours.”

4. The Cavalry: If you listen close, you will realize that it is the cries of Baby that bring the herd back. Lesson here: you (we!) are not alone – so when you are in need call out!

5. The Attack: A few of the leaders go up and start kicking some butt – or rather butting some cats. But it is the unity of the group, the impressive wall of support of the community that gives the leaders the ability to succeed. We’ve been given community to support each other in our need…

6. The Protection: Notice that once Baby gets away, the herd makes a fortress around her – the community makes a wall of protection around the weak.

7. “He chased him away”: Finish the battle – it isn’t just about getting the lions off of Baby, but getting the lions far away from Baby, so there won’t be another attack.

Cassie brought up the appropriate verse in Ecclesiastes 4:10: “If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!”

And wrapped up with the full verses that she started with in 1 Peter:

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion king for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

Just my thoughts,


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Catcher in the Rye, Hold the Mayo

For this month’s book club, we read THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Sallinger. It was swell. It killed me, really.

Salinger shows an understanding of human nature in the simplest of things. Like when the protagonist, Holden, is waiting for a girl that’s late. He’s upset until he sees her – and how pretty she is.

Holden points out that all those cartoons of guys who are angry because their dates are late is all bunk, because, “If a girl looks swell when she meets you, who gives a damn if she’s late? Nobody.”

Yeah, the bane of all us guys with pretty wives/girlfriends – too hard to stay mad. We’re just not programmed to combat good looks.

Holden has a few other ideas that struck me, mostly as they reverberate throughout my own take on life, religion and politics.

First, in talking about a comment made about himself near the beginning of the novel: “It’s partly true, too, but it isn’t all true. People always think something’s all true.”

Second, closer to the end of the book, he is railing against a debate teacher that kept telling him to unify and simplify his speeches.

“Some things you can’t do that to. I mean you can’t hardly ever simplify and unify something just because somebody wants you to.”

I find it interesting that Sallinger makes the case up front, and towards the end, that some things in life aren’t so simple as to be able to be reduced to a bumper sticker; even people aren’t so simple as to be reduced to a label (or at least one that is all true).

Sallinger’s novel itself has often been attacked – typically by those that have simplified the novel, and tried to make it “all” one thing.

Of course, you can’t win elections without oversimplifying things like the issues. (“If you question our methods, you’re anti-American!”)

And it’s easier to win an argument if you can claim something is all true. (“If A is at all true, then B must be completely false!”)

And it’s a pain to try and keep congregants happy if you make outrageous claims like “G-d is multifaceted and complex.”

Okay, I admit it – rather than figure all this complex stuff out, I’d like to forget about it and just spend my time contemplating how swell my girl looks.

Just my thoughts,


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Timely quote, from Jason's quoteboard:

"People in the media say they must look at the President through a microscope. Now I don't mind the microscope, but boy, when they use the proctoscope, they've gone too far."

-Richard Nixon

Friday, May 16, 2008

Morale Boosters

Some inspired silliness to get you through the weekend.

One of our readers was at his child’s school for a pirate themed event. They sported a t-shirt with a picture of a pirate, and the words, “The beatings will continue until school morale improves!”

From Jeff Overstreet’s blog, the final, redemptive scene from the original STAR WARS saga. Not quite how I remember it, but…

Also from Jeff, a take on the PC/Mac commercials, using Marvel/DC comics. Said to say, a little too true…

From Brian Davidson, who warns: “Don’t watch this drunk,” and “If you like graffiti, this takes it to a whole new level. And if you don't, you may not survive it...” Graffiti animation – I gotta wonder how long this took, and all in public spaces! Warning --- it is freaky.

And below, a repeat -- but a timely portrait of a now popular superhero, courtesy of Bryan Ballinger.

Just my thoughts,


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Speed and Saving

I was going to talk about SPEED RACER today, but instead I got jazzed about something over at Jeff Overstreet’s blog.

So on Speed I’ll race through my thoughts:

It’s not as bad as the critics say.

I enjoyed it.

Everyone I know who isn’t a professional critic that saw it enjoyed it.

It is twenty minutes too long in the middle.

The critic who said, “If I can’t follow it, how can a child?” doesn’t understand that children are much more savvy and attuned to this sort of thing than he is. It’s like saying, “Hey, if I can’t get into the kingdom of heaven, how can a child do it?”

Says more about that speaker than the child.

Okay, so now about Jeff’s blog, Looking Closer Journal.

Dan Merchant wrote a book (now a documentary) with one of the best titles ever:

“Lord, Save Us From Your Followers.”

Jeff talks about. So go read Jeff.

That’s all I wanted to say.

Oh, listen to the Matt Lauer interview. Favorite line, “We are way more comfortable being right than we are about trying to do the hard thing of loving one other.”

Just my thoughts,


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

You Know What Rocks?


Friend Cory is writing/directing the Fraggle Rock movie with the Hensons.

Congrats Cory, for landing such a cool project.

And congrats Hensons for landing such a cool talent.

Just my thoughts,


If you check out Cory's blog, scroll down to the Hoodwinked news for some heroic casting. Pretty cool, if you ask me.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Dag Nab All that Objectivity!

Jeffrey Overstreet got a letter today, and it’s a bit of a doozy.

Mr. Overstreet published a positive review of NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN at Christianity Today. The emphatic response starts out with:

“I cannot believe that any Christian could review this movie as objectively as you did!” (There were actually seven exclamation points, but I removed the extra ones for fear that they would poke an eye out.)

Now some of y’all, like me, are probably thinking that this is going to be a positive letter, starting out with such a strong compliment.

But you would have misunderstood the exclamation points: the letter-writer doesn’t consider being objective a compliment –in fact, he sees it as an insult.

Second sentence (and third thrown in for fun):

“This is exactly what is wrong with our society! Tell it like it is and don’t be afraid to offend anyone!!!!!”

The letter goes on to rant about what an awful movie this was; which is cool. I don’t always agree with Jeff myself, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

But I am disturbed by why he’s mad at Jeff himself – the three anti-Christian qualities that he considers to be the root of problems in America:

Jeff is objective – he doesn’t prejudge movies, and actually uses the movies themselves to form his opinions
Jeff tells it like it is – he is honest and truthful
Jeff isn’t afraid to offend others, especially with truth

Seems to me that rampant objectivity and honesty isn’t a problem in this country at all; in fact, they seem to be rare qualities.

And where does this fellow get off claiming that Christianity SHOULD be marked in such a way? That Jesus exemplified dishonesty, narrow mindedness and the fear of offending with Truth?

I guess I’m not riled by this because a lone nutter feels this way, but because I fear that he isn’t a lone nutter.

I fear that the country really is embracing a lack of objectivity and a lack of truth as virtues.

Certainly our specialized news channels (know what you think about the news before it happens!) and politicians (I’ll know what I believe as soon as the polls are in) seem to reinforce those “virtues.”

Hey, lack of truth in our culture has been around for a long time. But we used to pretend that we weren't intentionally dishonest (“I never lied. I just misunderstood the definition of the word ‘is.’”)

Are we really at the point where we can now boldly call someone out as unChristian and unAmerican because they are open and honest?

Just my thoughts (until the new poll numbers tell me I was thinking differently),


Friday, May 09, 2008

From Creative Screenwriting:

"When I examine myself and my methods of thought I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing knowledge."

– Albert Einstein

Thursday, May 08, 2008

From Jason's quote of the day:

"So, what's on your mind, if you'll pardon the overstatement."

-Fred Allen

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

All the Leaves Are Brown

I was listening to a podcast that friend Cory put me onto (, when one of the speakers mentioned that a guy in a band happened to be a Christian.

His partner hurriedly interrupted with, “We should warn our listeners that he’s more of a California Christian.”

Being a Christian who lives in California, I was curious as to what that meant.

And being lazy, I didn’t want to do any research or actually make an effort to contact the guy who threw up the shielding remark to protect the innocent.

Instead I sat and thought of how California may be different from where the real Christians live, and applied those differences to faith.

Here is how California Christians differ from the rest of y’all (at least us SoCal Xians):

-We deal with a level of spiritual warfare that y’all don’t have to face. We call that ethereal battle the “405 freeway.”

-Which leads to: we are more apt to be seen praying on the road, window down, often the prayer shouted at another driver (reflective of our evangelical nature) as we have one finger lifted to the heavens in praise.

-We have historically been more apt to follow the precepts of Genesis in being good stewards of the planet, and will show our support for the green by proudly driving our Hummers to “Save the Planet” rallies (even if said Rally is two blocks from our house…)

-Side note: The Beach Boys wish they all could be California Christians.

-We proudly have brought the divine into every day life and conversation by making ubiquitous the phrases “oh my g-d” and “like, for sure” (a direct translation of the term, “amen”). Case in point, I refer you to the recent “Gossip Girls” posters showing two worshippers in ecstatic prayer, calling out the text equivalent, “OMG.”

-We see our bodies as a temple, and thus will only eat organic salads, organic botox and organic mind altering drugs. And we keep our bodies in shape, even if we have to suction fat or insert implants to do so.

-We take seriously the admonition to put “no idols before thee” – and thus have scheduled Idol for 9 pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, a full three hours after (not before) “The 700 Club.”

-We believe that the Bible is inerrant and perfect as is, and we wouldn’t change a thing. We do, however, have a few small notes, maybe a couple of suggestions, an idea or two to help with the marketing -- and reserve the option to bring in our own writer if needed.

That’s my short list – maybe you have a few of your own to add.

As for me, the next time I hear a snarky reference to Californians, I will smugly smile in the knowledge that our Governator faced the devil himself and saved us all from the End of Days.

Can you say the same about your governor?

Just my thoughts,


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

It's Fun For a Girl and a Boy!

I have a Slinky on my desk, one of the office presents given me by my wife.

Some people can't be in the office without picking it up and playing with it. (Jason resists -- instead he shoots nerf hoops.)

Jill was one of those people before she moved to the milder climes of the east coast. Maybe that's why she thought to forward this quote to me:

“Some folks are like Slinkys - not good for anything, but you smile when you push them down stairs.”

Just my thoughts,


Monday, May 05, 2008

More Than a Fool's Day

Well, I survived April.

Still not making my 10,000 steps a day quota. Last week I went to Catalina, and spent a day hiking and in general was more active than ever. Averaged 9,000 steps.

Can’t imagine doing better than climbing the Hermit Gulch Trail in my desk-bound existence.

Maybe they mean 10,000 metric steps. Gotta get me a converter.

Also fell short with script Frenzy. The slogan is: 100 pages in 30 days. I’m blaming my number dyslexia for my 30 pages in 100 days.

Don’t make fun of my number dyslexia, it’s not pc!

Did manage to finish planning for Cath’s birthday party.

Of course the planning consisted of calling a local arcade and ordering the kid’s birthday special.

Miniature golf and ten tokens for arcade games – have to say it was a blast. Plus we each got a slice of pizza (or a slice of the cardboard container that houses pizza, hard to say from the taste) and a cup of ice cream.

And our guests all willingly became five (or four, for some of them) again for one night of outrageous fun.

Still behind on Lost (just started the Michael episode – are they going to succeed in making me forgive him?) and Battlestar (just finished the ep where the wife finds out, and the confrontation in the launch tube. And may I say – wowza! Cold, cold, cold.)

Now on to May – the month of catching up! (Okay, maybe not this year…)

Just my thoughts,