Antidote to "Too Much Trump" is going to see Mama Mia II--Here We Go Again

Check the senior citizen rate for Mama Mi 2.
At the noonish showing of Mama Mia II, there were a fair number of people.


We needed to get away from all the chatter and bloviating about Trump and Putin and all the other stuff relating to politics.  We found a way to get a two hour break--going to see Mama Mia II, Here We Go Again.  It worked and this morning we still have songs from the show bouncing around our heads and out our mouths.  It's a good story with the movie shot on a small island where we stayed on a family vacation.

The music is from the Swedish group Abba.  I found my body responding to the rhythm of the music while sitting in the theater seats.  And the actors had smiles that were wide and infectious.  But, of most interest to our family was where the movie was filmed, the Island of Vis in the Adriatic Sea between Croatia and Italy.

It's one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to with a history that goes back to Biblical days.  While there, we rented a place for nine people.  What we got through was perfect.  The movie describes the location as being a small Greek island.  It is actually Croatian.  

The actors were great with Meryl Streep, Lily James. Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, Cher and many others.

Tonight, I bet we will be watching the original Mama Mia through live stream.  I don't want to let go of the music or the smiles.

Here's the results of my experiment with time lapse videos using my iPhone 6 plus

Do you carry an iPhone in your pocket or purse?  Have you used the time lapse feature of the video camera?

I'm determined to learn how to effectively use its video features to tell a story or to just do a raw recording of an event like today's snow storm.  It's snowing hard and I did this through our bedroom window.  I have more to learn about time lapse, but I like my start, maybe even during the storm.

Getting ready for a big Michigan snowstorm today


Hawk Island on Tuesday morning.
There was no snow yesterday when we walked at Hawk Island. That's changing in the next couple of hours, forecasters say.

 Is today's snow warning here in Lansing, just another weather false alarm?  Forecasters say this is going to bring up to a foot of snow.  We've checked our pantry, our fridge, our car's in the garage, have wood for the fireplace and have a few DVD's picked out.  My snowblower is accessible and I have plenty of gas.  We are ready.


Looking out our kitchen window.
Looking out our kitchen window this morning. No snow yet.


How can I use my iPhone5 and my point and shoot to tell stories?

My temptation is to say, "yeah, Casey Neistat is a pretty young guy who can use iPhone video to effectively tell a story.  And I am getting closer to crossing over to 70.  How much can I learn?"

I thrive on hearing stories and learning about other people.  I enjoy hearing them directly from other people and I love reading them.  And, I also feel that I have a few stories inside of me and some which are still happening.

I really need to kick the can down the road on this one with the visit of my grandson and his parents this weekend.  Miles is eight months old and I was just outside the delivery room door when he was born.  There have to be lots of little stories that can be told about their visit using words and visuals, both still and video.

Here's a couple of thought provoking YouTube videos from filmmaker Neistat that I viewed this morning.  They are helpful.


Should Christians stay away from the movie Fifty Shades of Grey?

There seems to be plenty of buzz around town and on my Facebook news feed about the new movie Fifty Shades of Grey.  Apparently, it's dominated by many forms of blatant sexuality and full nudity.  It's based on a best-selling book.

What about it?  Should you go?  Is seeing the movie oakey-doakey with God?

Check this Plugged In review that sorts out the movie from a family point of view.

Is our country and our culture getting to a point where the late wife of Billy Graham, Ruth, said that God is going to have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah if he doesn't punish our country for its immorality.

Can you connect to your unknown past through movies like "People Like Us?"

People like usSuper-wife escaped the hundred plus temperatures of yesterday and the searing sun by going to the movies where we saw "People Like Us."  I was pleasantly surprised.  It was about a guy who reconnects with family and connects with a sister he never knew he had.

Lots of pretty people in it like Michelle Pfeiffer and others.  The storyline touch a nerve in me, kind of like connecting the wrong terminals on a car battery.  Maybe not that extreme.  But, it produced a few sparks of thought and memory.

What's it like to discover that your dad had a whole another family or in some cases families?

The main character in this movie discovered that he had a half-sister that his dad had kept silent about.  He had to come to grips with a lot of issues involving himself and his family.  That's not always an easy task.  

I often think about my (half) sister who I never met.  She died in the country of Cyprus.  I don't know a whole lot more than that.  I did see a picture of her as an adult.  I saw her death certificate written in Greek which I can read a little.

Walking out of the theater, I wondered who would play my mother in a movie.  Probably not Pfeiffer.


Beer drinkers tweet more than church members in Michigan

Are Michigan churches missing an opportunity to get their word out by not using Twitter?

Check this recent study of Twitter use in Michigan reported in mLive to see if resident tweeters write more about beer or church.  It's beer.

Are pastors and church members missing a chance to go where people hangout?  In Twitter groups.

MY REVIEW: The newly-released movie Courageous about fatherhood and fatherlessness

Courageous Yes, you should go see the movie Courageous this weekend and take your wife or husband, your children's father or mother and your kids and then talk about it.  The topic:  fatherhood and fatherlessness.  

On the surface that may sound plenty boring compared to watching something where cars get blown-up or where there are writhing bodies filled with enthusiastic and explicit lust.  But, this movie tackles one of the most important topics in our contemporary culture.  The role of fathers has been allowed to languish on the altar of cultural change and we are paying a stiff price for it.

The movie focuses on four fathers who are all cops and a young Hispanic handyman type.  There are three guys, one divorced and with a son, one unmarried and with a daughter he never met, one more traditional family type who wrestled with connecting with his teenage son and who adored his nine-year-old daughter.  The black cop never knew his dad but was married and had a teenage daughter.  

In their individual families, they were struggling with being fathers and holding demanding jobs. They had to deal with young thugs in a gang that served as a major distributor of dope.

One obstacle for many to getting into this film is its inclusion of open, out-of-the-closet Christianity and male characters who read the Bible and who tried to gain a connection to God through it.

But in this period of our culture where inclusion is the buzzword, this is just part of a very legitimate story.  Film viewers need to process the importance of this for themselves.  The main issue is fathers.

Do they play a unique role in their children's lives?  Do they add something to their kids that can't be given by moms?  Are today's dads fulfilling their responsibilities?  Do they know what those responsibilities are?

These are issues which need to take center stage in churches, in bars, at the workplace and in sports stadiums.  

As fans get-together tonight and throughout the coming days for baseball playoffs and the World Series, they need to open the door for the fatherhood issue.

Courageous is a movie worth seeing and talking about.  It's a good story and its told in an entertaining way and for kids who are suffering from some form of fatherlessness, it's vital.

Go see it.

Michigan taxpayers shellout $2.86 million for Elmore Leonard's "Freaky Deaky" movie

Under it's generous grants to Hollywood film producers, the state of Michigan is paying almost half the production costs for novelist Elmore Leonard's book "Freaky Deaky" as a movie.  Total bill for Michigan taxpayers is $2.86 million.

Check the details in this Detroit News story today and ask yourself the question, what's in it for us?  There are more than 200 Michigan jobs promised for the production of the movie.  These are positions with a start and end date that doesn't span more than a few months.

Shouldn't these movies that we foot the bill for have at least a commercial for tourism for the state?  Perhaps every adult resident with a television could get a free DVD of the movie.

Our new "Apple TV" could wean us off Comcast cable

We got our new Apple TV device yesterday and hooked it up, configured it and had fun playing with its different features.  We really like it so far and we are finding that it could get us to drop Comcast for a more cafeteria stye paradigm for watching television.

Here's what we did with this new device:

  1. Streamed Netflix videos right to our television.  We watched Kite Runner and part of the musical Annie.  That leaves us with about 10,000 additional choices.
  2. Watched YouTube videos I had posted with my Flip video camera.  I've uploaded more than 500 video snippets and it was fun watching our grandson on our tv, as well as video from various vacations and events.
  3. We watched a video podcast from Ada Bible Church.  We watched the first portion of a sermon by Jeff Manion on Ephesians.  This is a great way to review or to catch-up.
  4. We viewed some of my 8,000 pictures posted on Flickr.  This was a hoot to look at the old photos.

I know there's more that it can do.  We are happy with our $99 purchase so far.  We will review what we want from tv and see how well we can get that from this device and from the various offerings on the Internet.  Here's a video of what it looks like as I take it out of the box:


Super-wife and I say "yes" to movie "Julie and Julia"

One of the nice things about being baby-boomer retirees is the ability to make a spur-of-the moment decision to see a movie which is what we did today.

Julieandjulia We took a stab in the dark by going to see "Julie and Julia."  Our connection to the subject matter, famous cook Julia Childs and a wannabe Julie Powell was tenuous at best.  If being a foodie meant being regular watchers of the Food Network's "Diner, Drive-ins and Dives" then that was us.

Walking out of the movie, we both had a smile on our face and acknowledged that we liked the story and the way it was portrayed with two women being connected through a cookbook.

I was never good at book reviews and certainly not at movies.  Usually, my main criteria is liking the story. 

It was a mashing together of Julia Childs as she started her cooking career during the late forties and 30-year-old Julie who felt a special kinship to Julia through her famous cook book about french cooking. 
She decides to get closer to her cooking mentor by cooking every dish in Julia's cookbook and then blogging about it.

The task was gigantic, but in the process Julie found her identity and gained a ton of notoriety for her efforts.

Would I like to see it again when it comes out on DVD?  Definitely.  Good story.  

Reviews and more information:

Would Obama appeal to Kevin Costner's character in new movie Swing Vote ?

Costner's character, Bud Johnson, reminded me of more than half the people I grew up with and live with in  Michigan.  "Bud" could have been from my hometown Bay City, Flint, Swingvote Saginaw or any of the 'burbs around Detroit where they build cars.

He lives in a trailer park with his young daughter who takes care of him during one of his frequent beer benders and the depths of his interest go no deeper than NASCAR. 

Bud drinks lots of beer, loves fast cars, works at a low-paying dead end job and struggles to put food on the table.  Talk political philosophy with him and he'd think Plato was a clay like toy that kids played with.  His hero was Richard Petty of NASCAR fame and not some heavy thinker or doer.

He's struggling to stay up with his day-to-day life and with his responsibilities as a single-dad. 

Would he vote for Obama?  Hmmm...I can't see it.  Michigan and so many other states are filled with Buds and their families.  Will they vote for somebody very erudite and who knows which wine to drink with which food? 

But, back to the movie . . .

Continue reading "Would Obama appeal to Kevin Costner's character in new movie Swing Vote ?" »

Movie Review: Take the family to see Evan The Almighty and feel good about it

My  wife  fresh  out of the third-grade classroom where she's a teacher and I snuck away from this afternoon's household duties and went to watch, Evan The Almighty.

We both enjoyed it and would recommend it to anybody tired of movies dipped in a combination of sex, drugs, swearing and violence.  You could take your great-grandmother and your five-year-old and be comfortable that they would both like it.

In a nutshell, it's a story about a modern-day Noah who has been told by God to build an ark as a defense against a coming flood.  This reluctant ark-builder just happens to be a newly-elected U.S. Congressman who drives a Hummer. 

Just imagine telling your wife that God told you to rebuild the biblical ark.  Then check the reaction from the chair of the Congressional committee who believes that the only power comes from the art of the deal.

It's funny, but it's not slapstick funny.  You will leave with your sides intact.  But you will walk away with a smile on your face and with some key lessons from the movie.

Steve Carrell played the Noah character and Morgan Freeman played God again as he did in Bruce the Almighty.  This movie was from the same genre.

It's worth the price of the ticket. 


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Alfie, the movie, is a lump on our culture

My wife and I went to see the movie, Alfie, this weekend.  Thinking that it's a nice story on the order of Return To Me, we decided to see it.  What a poor decision!  I should have been embarrassed for staying.  The movie is a commentary of our sad times where relationships have minimal meaning and sex is everything.  It was cheap, tawdry and Jude Law, the start should be ashamed.  He took our culture down another notch or two. 

However, reading Focus on the Family's review of the film adds an important point.  It shows how empty Alfie felt pursuing his hedonistic lifestyle.  I guess that's something I already knew.