Monday, December 20, 2010

Best Movies I've Seen in 2010

Michael here... ok, enough of the slow roll out, here's the rest of the list. We would love for any of you submit some of your favorites from the year as well.....

6) Bright Star (2009) Not overly well done per se, but a great story of John Keats and his ill-fated relationship with Fanny Brawne. Abbie Cornish was breathtaking as Fanny Brawne.

5) A Serious Man (2009) The trials of Job with some temptations from the life of David thrown in for good measure. The Coen Brothers almost always pay off, and they did again here.

4)The Son (Le Fils) (2002) See earlier post.

3)Get Low (2010) Great story, great acting. Meaningful without being sappy.

2)Blue (1993) The first installment of Kieslowski's Three Colors trilogy, which made me a life long devotee of this amazing director's work. This one is more melancholy than Tony's choice of White, but the truth is that all three should be mandatory viewing requirements.

1)Five Minutes of Heaven. (2009) I don't know why I loved this movie so much, but it was incredible. A great story about forgiveness and redemption. Simple and straight forward. Liam Neeson was superb.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Best 10 Movies I Have Seen This Year (Tony's Version)

1.)        Gosford Park (2001)
Robert Altman’s masterpiece of multiple story lines, class distinction and murder in a 1930’s English country estate
2.)        Get Low (2010)
Robert Duvall leads a great cast.
3.)        Let the Right One In (Sweden 2004)
            Just watch it for the climactic swimming pool scene
4.)        Requiem for a Dream (2000)
            The movie that showed that Aronofsky could be a cinematic genius
5.)        In the Bedroom (2001)
The second Sissy Spacek movie on the list (Get Low was the other),Tom Wilkinson is excellent
6.)        Dirty, Pretty Things (2002)
            Gritty movie about lower class immigrants in London and what they do to survive
7.)        4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Romania 2007)
It’s better not to read a lot about this film, if you want to see it, just watch and see how it unfolds
8.)        In America (2002)
            A hopeful, sentimental film about Irish immigrants in New York City
9.)        In Bruge (Ireland 2008)
Michael showed me this one, very dark comedy or as I like to call it, Hit Men Having Fun
10.)      White (Poland 1994)
White is the second in  Krzysztof KieĊ›lowski’s Three Colors Trilogy and the most fun to watch

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Best 10 Movies I've Seen This Year (Part 2)

#8 Inception (2010): I don't this movie was great, but it was good. The special effects were good, the story line was creative. It wasn't something I'll double back to, but it was worth one viewing. Also, a really good cast.

#7 The Devil's Backbone (2001): I have Tony to thank for this one, I don't tend to head toward the horror genre much, and would have missed this gem completely. I don't even really regard this a horror movie, in the classical context. There's definately a supernatural element in the movie, but the story is really well told. There aren't scary scenes just for the sake of being scary. It all moves the story forward. Viewer beware, this movie is Spanish with English subtitles.

The BBQ Song

Jessica Chestnut sent me the following link to a terrific video. It expresses in song what I tried to say in my BBQ blog. Please check it out.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Best 10 Movies I've Seen This Year (Part 1)

Michael here...

Ok, it's nearing year end, a time to look back and evaluate, and even though I could look back at more meaningful things, I've chosen to look at the movies I've seen. I'm going to put them in order from 10-1 based on the quality of the films combined with how much I liked them personally. These movies are not all movies I've seen in theatres. They include movies I've missed in the past that I doubled back to on dvd. So, I'll also include the year they were released. Please chime in with comments about the movies I list, or with favorites of you own.....

#10 Despicable Me (2010)
I like cartoons, and I'm not ashamed to say it. (ok, a little ashamed). This movie was clever, fun, and thoughtful. I'm a bit of a sucker for family drama at times, so if you throw a story about orphans at me, I'm all in. Also, those little yellow guys were really funny....

#9 Ordet (1955)
Ok, this one is not for the tame of heart. Several sources rate this as one of the most spiritually significant movies of all time. The pace is grindingly slow, and for whatever reason, the emotional affect of most of the actors is incredibly flat. It really makes you think, and in it's own way pulls a great deal of emotion out of you. If you are brave this holiday season, grab a copy from Netflix, (it might be tough to find otherwise), and settle in. I would love your feedback!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Quest for Bar-B-Que

From Tony…

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of attending the UNC-Kentucky basketball game with my friend Daniel Freeman. It was a fantastic basketball game with Carolina pulling out a slim victory. After the game, we walked out of the Dean Dome into a winter wonderland of snow and ice. It was great day, but to make it even better, we decide to go to Allen and Son Pit Cooked Bar-B-Q for dinner. We picked up my daughter Amanda and headed for the tiny, nondescript building on the outskirts of Chapel Hill.  With the snow falling outside, we sat and ate delicious traditional eastern North Carolina Bar-B-Q sandwiches. It was the perfect way to end the day.

This got me thinking about BBQ / Barbecue / Bar-B-Q/ Bar-B-Que.

To our northern cousins, or yankees, as some southerners call them (that is, if they stay up there, they’re called damn yankees if they move down here,) barbecue is an event. It describes the cooking of any food outside on an open flame. As in, “Hey youse guys, let’s have a barbecue.” They also refer to the device for cooking outside as a barbecue. As in, “Hey youse guys, let’s cook on the barbecue.” Sometimes, it’s a verb. As in, “Hey youse guys, let’s barbecue some burgers.”

 For a southerner, barbecue has only one definition, pork, hopefully slow cooked over hot hickory coals, chopped or pulled and served with a vinegar based sauce, coleslaw, Brunswick stew, hushpuppies and a large glass of sweet ice tea.  However, this is where the debate about barbecue really begins. In North Carolina, the Civil War isn’t about north and south, it’s about east and west.

Eastern North Carolina Barbecue is traditionally chopped or pulled pork from the whole hog with a sauce that is predominately vinegar and pepper. Western North Carolina Barbecue (sometimes referred to as Lexington style) is traditionally chopped from the pork shoulder ( a hog’s front legs) and served with a sauce that is a mixture of vinegar, sugar and ketchup. It is the addition of ketchup that is anathema to eastern NC barbecue purists. Ketchup is something you put on your fries, not your barbecue.

It is worth noting a few other barbecue styles. South Carolina has the distinction of offering a chopped pork barbecue with a dull yellow mustard based sauce. Martha and I ate at Maurice’s outside of Columbia, South Carolina and enjoyed a yellow barbecue sandwich accompanied by something called barbecue hash (gravy and onions over rice.)

Martha and Amanda drove through Memphis a couple of years ago and stopped at Neely’s Interstate Bar-B-Que. They brought me back several pounds of beef brisket and pork and a large bottle of Neely’s sweet, tangy sauce. It was terrific.

Finally, at my nephew’s wedding in Houston, I was treated to Texas style barbecue. It was beef brisket, smoker cooked with oak and served with a light brown sauce. They have a tendency to focus on the flavor of the beef rather than having a strong sauce taste.

Having completed this treatise on barbecue, let me end with a few restaurants I like. The aforementioned Allen and Son in Chapel Hill, Wilber’s in Goldsboro, King’s in Kinston  and Smithfield  Chicken “N’ Bar-B-Q in a number of locations.

(In memorium: Snooks Old Fashion Barbecue in Advance and Murray’s Barbecue and Seafood in Raleigh were great barbecue joints that are no longer with us.)  

Anybody with BBQ joint suggestions, please leave a comment. I am always on a quest for better barbecue.

Films That You've Never Heard Of But Should See!!!!!

Michael here...

As American filmgoers, we watch movies to be entertained. We tend to enjoy lots of flash and special effects. We like for our stories to be neat and cleanly explained. Foreign filmmakers do not seem to care much about any of that. So, the movie that I recommend should include this warning: Do not expect to be hand fed, you will have to think for yourself, and chew on it. But if you do, I believe the experience will be well worth it. The movie is Le Fils (The Son). It was directed by the Dardenne brothers, who are expert storytellers. It's in French with English subtitles, but don't let that hold you back. This movie is deeply spiritual without slapping you in the face. The pace is slow, but builds like a freight train, so hang in there in the early going. Although released in 2002, I only got around to watching it this year, and it is easily one of the 10 best movies I've seen this year. The emotion is gripping, and left me broken and hopeful all at the same time. Happy Viewing!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pumpkin Challenge Finale

Michael here...

Ok, the great pumpkin challenge is over after this post. I had pumpkin ice cream with fudge sauce at Cold Stone Creamery, but didn't post on it, and there is a pint of Ben and Jerry's Pumpkin Cheescake Ice Cream in my freezer. I'm so done with pumpkin (for a least a good week or so), and I've ingested about 40 zillion grams of carbs during the process. But thanks to all who chimed in with pumpkin suggestions! I'll close this post with one final pumpkin review. Connie Faison from my small group made a pumpkin cheescake which was just the right amount of pumpkiny, and a perfect touch of dessert at the end of a long day.

Pumpkinocity: 10 out of 10
My gratitude for amazing friends: To the moon and beyond.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Things I Don't Bring

Michael here...

"Somewhere we know that without silence, words lose their meaning; that without listening, speaking no longer heals; that without distance, closeness cannot cure"      -Henri Nouwen

So many of my interactions with others are filled with my words or actions to attempts to either prove myself to them, or to help them with something, when what is usually needed is for me to shut my mouth and just accept them where they are, and listen to them. I have to constantly remind myself that people don't need to be fixed, they need to be loved. God did not equip any of us to fix all the problems of the people around us, but he did equip us to forgive, to show mercy, and to love. Sometimes what I don't bring is what people need the most.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Love That Says No

Many people know the story from the Gospel of Mark that tells of Jesus becoming angered at the "moneychangers" in the temple. He overturned tables and chairs and generally made a mess of their business operations, saying, "Is it not written, My house shall be called a house of prayer? But you have made it a den of robbers." Those people in the temple sold "acceptable" sacrifices to those who travelled to Jerusalem, and had begun to take advantage of them, and were turning a pretty profit. But what was the point of Jesus' rant? He would leave the temple that day and the money changers would just continue to run their schemes. I think the point that Jesus made was actually more for those standing around than for the money changers, and I think the message was: "It's not ok with me that people take advantage of you". Consistently allowing others to abuse or humiliate us is not the same as loving those oppressors. Being taken advantage of is not a spiritual discipline. Sometimes love needs to say: "This is just not ok anymore". For those who suffer, standing up to the abuse or mistreatment is harder than words can say, and great support and courage are required. But if you have ever suffered mistreatment, please know that you matter more than you could possibly imagine. This topic is deeper than we can cover here, so I'll stop and invite any feedback you have.....

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pumpkin Experience # 12

Pumpkin Experience # 12 (and yes I am getting weary) was a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Gloria Jean's. As a pumpkin freak, I have had my share of pumpkin spice latte's, and I've found that they can be amazing or just as easily can be too syrupy, creating a not great after taste. Gloria Jean's delivered beautifully. I opted to go without the whipped cream, and found that the drink was just the right amount of sweet and pumpkiny.

Also, it's clear that I am not going to get close to the 25-30 pumpkin posts I had hoped, so faithful readers, I am appealing to you. Anyone who has eaten or will eat anything pumpkiny over the rest of the month, sign in, and then respond to this blog with your critique. Together we may yet reach the hallowed number of 30 pumpkin posts!

Pumpkinocity: 9 out of 10
Held Needed: 12,347 out of 10

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pumpkin Experience #11

Pumpkin Experience # 11 was Roasted Garlic Pumpkin Soup courtesy of the good folks at Whole Foods. I am a big fan of Whole Foods, but this soup was a stretch even for me. It was the color and consistency of baby food, and tasted like what I can only imagine the stuff from the other end of a baby tastes like.

Pumpkinocity: 2
Best flavor of babyfood: Banana

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

True Perfection

Michael here...

A longer quote, but well worth it....

"This is true perfection: not to avoid a wicked life because like slaves we servilely fear punishment, nor to do good because we hope for rewards, as if cashing in on the virtuous life by some business-like arrangement. On the contrary, disregarding all those things for which we hope and which have been reserved by promise, we regard falling from GOD's friendship as the only thing dreadful and we consider becoming GOD's friend the only thing worthy of desire and honor. This as I have said, is perfection of life. "                        -Gregory of Nyssa

This is not to say that as followers we are ever not friends of GOD, but that marinating in that friendship is the greatest possibly way to pass the minutes of our lives. Friendship is not forced, but only to be enjoyed. His friendship is always available to us, it's just that we don't always take time to enjoy this great truth of our existence. Relationship is not driven by a fear of punishment or a hope of a reward, but of simply drinking it in deeply.

Pumpkin Experience #10

Pumpkin Experience #10 was the Pumpkin Praline Pancakes at Ihop. I've had the pumpkin pancakes at Ihop before, but there's a twist on the version they are offering up this time around. This year there are pralines scattered across the top as well as some caramel sauce. The pancakes were delicious, but I think the caramel sauce is a bit much. I really didn't need the extra 1200 carbs, and the sweetness distracted from the pumpkinocity that I was craving. All around though, a solid pumpkin experience.

Pumpkinocity: 7 out of 10
Better place for the caramel sauce: I would think apple wedges (Granny Smith preferably)

Monday, November 8, 2010

All In or All Out or Maybe Something Else

Michael writes...

What is it about relationships that terrify us so much? We all seem glued to one of two extremes with people. Either we keep them completely out because we are afraid of their rejection, and whatever else may happen when I let them see the real me. Or we let them all the way in because I need them to be ok with me for me to feel ok about myself. The first option keeps us lonely because we were created for relationship, the second makes us completely dependent on what others think of us. The middle ground is so hard! We are such fragile creatures! (I'm putting myself at the top of the list) The truth is that Christ's sustaining love is enough, but that seems impossible for the clay vessels that we are to hang on to for long.  Feedback???????????

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Frightening Films

Tony writes:
Michael and I decided that for October we would watch one “horror” movie each week leading up to Halloween. We chose Let the Right One In (Sweden), The Devil’s Backbone (Spain), Splice (Canada/France) and The Orphanage (Spain). The subject matter of each film varied and included entities such as vampires, ghosts and a scientifically created creature. One of the common elements was that all the films except Let the Right One In were produced by Spanish filmmaker , Guillermo del Toro, who is probably best known as the director of Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth. We both were taken with how different the films felt from typical US horror movies. The pacing was much slower and methodical. The films did not seem preoccupied with cheap scares. They were thoughtful and in-depth portrayals of everyday people caught up in other-worldly situations. What caught my attention was the fact that the “monster” in each film was eventually portrayed as a sympathetic character while some of the “real” people were the actual fiends. This theme was especially so in Let the Right One In and The Devil’s Backbone. One final note, I think that the swimming pool scene at the end of Let the Right One In was one of the most clever horror scenes ever. If you get a chance, check it out.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pumpkin Experience # 9

This pumpkin quest has been enjoyable, but not without challenges. I understood that sacrifice would be involved, ( ie. the 7 million carbs I have ingested over the past three weeks) but I was ready. I'm not an egg nog fan, or any sort of nog fan now that I think of it. But this blog is a higher calling. So, when I ran across pumpkin experience # 9, I knew I had no choice but to give it a try. Pumpkin Experience # 9 was Pumpkin Spice Nog. I found it at a local grocery store and it was the color and consistency of the seafood sauce I love at most Japanese restaurants. I wasn't super excited about trying it, so I just got up my courage, opened up the fridge one day and drank a huge gulp. I woke up 2 hours later on the kitchen floor, mumbling to myself about seafood sauce and Charlie Brown's shirt. Thinking that it was some kind of fluke, I decided to drink two more gulps. The next thing I remember, it was two days later, and I was standing on the roof of an Ihop in South Carolina with what appeared to be a large cat on a leash. Upon closer inspection, I found that my pet of choice was actually a raccoon. (Blogger's note: FaithFoodandFilm does not recommend keeping a raccoon as a pet as they carry disease and are generally mean spirited. If you should decide to keep a raccoon as a pet, do not mock them, as it would appear that they hate that more than anything. If you should mock the raccoon, and in the brawl that ensues, he should happen to scratch your cornea, please go to your local ER immediately.) So, in closing, I would not recommend Pumpkin Spice Nog.

Pumpkinocity: -12
Dangers of punching a raccoon in his arrogant little face: Immense

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pumpkin Experience # 8

Hearty, delicious, and sweet, that's what the lady behind me in line at the check-out was saying about me, when I was purchasing Pumpkin Experience #8: Pumpkin Apple Tea Bread from Whole Foods. In a head to head with the Pumpkin Chocolate Pound Cake from an earlier blog, the Pumpkin Apple Tea Bread would win comfortably. It was moist and just the right amount of pumpkiny. It goes perfectly with a strong cup of coffee, preferably something a bit dark with earthy, chocolatey tones, and not the fruity or floral tones.

Pumpkinocity: 6 out of 10
The girl in the check out line's phone number: Unlisted

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pumpkin Experience # 7

I usually steer away from the pastry selections at major chain coffee shops. I always fear that they have been there for 3 weeks, and have been sprayed with some sort of glossy spray to make them look appetizing, but the great pumpkin quest calls......

Pumpkin Experience #7 was the Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin at Starbucks. The muffin part was ok, not super pumpkiny though. There was a cream cheese icing dollop wedged into the top of the muffin, which was very good, but made it seem more like carrot cake than pumpkin muffin. Next time I'll just opt for a tub of cream cheese icing and coffee.

Pumpkinocity: 2 out of 10
Number of hours of insomnia after a tub of cream cheese icing: 73

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pumpkin Experience # 6

Pumpkin Experience # 6 was the Pumpkin Whoopie Pie from Cleveland Cake and Coffee Co.  My daughter had a friend over and they both had the traditional version of the whoopie pie with super chocolately cake and a really sweet creamy middle. My pumpkin version is the one wedged in the middle. It was sweet to say the least (I'm on carb overload), but it was good. It's really hard to beat the original version, but the pumpkin whoopie pie is worth a try during the season.

Pumpkinocity: 5 out of 10
Witty Second Rating: Unavailable

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pumpkin Experience # 5

The Fresh Market is to food lovers what crack is to a junkie. That's a good analogy for all of you who may be trying to prep for the SAT's. My Pumpkin Experience # 5 was the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pound Cake from The Fresh Market. It's really hard to go wrong with anything from The Fresh Market, and this was no exception. They've had a wild berry pound cake in the past that I liked better, but pumpkin and chocolate chips go together like Duke University and deep unending hatred, that is perfectly.

Pumpkinocity: 6 out of 10
The dark and evil nature of Duke: unending

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pumpkin Experience # 4

My daughter and I have fallen into a semi-weekly tradition of stopping in for some doughnuts on the way to church on Sundays, and it was there that I ran into Pumpkin Experience # 4: the Pumpkin Doughnut at Dunkin' Donuts. First, let me get this off my chest... I don't know who started the horrible myth of DD having really good coffee, but I just don't agree. I love coffee, and DD just doesn't work for me. If a goat learned to play golf, and became really good, and wore those really great plaid pants and a Scottish hat with a huge tassel on it, and then if that goat washed his ball in the ball cleaner in between holes at a really nice course, the water in that ball washer would be as close to what DD coffee tastes like as I can describe. Anyway....I liked the doughnut. It was one of their cake-like doughnuts, kinda dense with a light glaze on the outside. It was just the right amount of pumpkiny, and my daughter really enjoyed it as well.

Pumpkinocity: 7 out of 10
The amount I would pay to see a goat play golf: $1247.89

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pumpkin Experience #3

I dropped back by Cleveland Cake and Coffee Co. to grab the rest of their pumpkin offerings, and found Pumpkin Experience #3: The Pumpkin Empanada. Picture a fried pie, but baked and not so heavy. The pumpkin filling was delicious, but the crust was a bit bready. I love the creativity though, and will be a devoted disciple of Cleveland Cake and Coffee Co. for many years to come as a result. If only they could make a huge one, I would use it as a tasty pillow to sleep on at night.  But then again, if they had that here, why would we want to go to heaven?

Pumpkinocity: 5 out of 10.
Sweet Dreams as a Result: 37

Love Motivates

Only one of the twelve disciples had the courage to show up at the crucifixion of Jesus. Judas had already sold out. Peter had already been broken by his betrayal. Fear scattered the rest. But John who spoke of love more than any New Testament writer, stuck with Jesus until the end. I don't think that it's a coincidence that John stood his ground. (Many thanks to Frank Viola in his book From Eternity to Here for opening up this idea) The truth is that the only true motivator in our lives is to be deeply and truly loved. Fear motivates for a while, but in the end causes us to run away from rather than to what matters most. Money can motivate us but as Judas found, will utlimately leave us empty. Love motivates us to follow. Love will allow us to face our fears and will calm our doubts. Love alone can lead us to the type of obedience that is not poisoned by legalism. May we all love well, from the depths of love that God has poured into our souls.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fair Food

While Michael continues his adventure to seek out the most exotic pumpkin flavored food around, I, on the other hand, have visited the state fair and eaten exactly the same thing for the last 15 years. This year was no exception. Our family tradition is to get french fries from Al’s French Fries (located near the northeast corner of the Jim Graham Bldg.). A pork chop sandwich from the Pork Chop Shop (located between the education building and the Dorton Arena). This is followed by corn on the cob. We have tried various places but I believe the best by far is from Connie’s Sweet White Roasted Corn (across from the lunch stands that back up to the race track). Amanda always gets an ice cream cone. It is the vanilla rectangle of ice cream atop a cake cone, dipped in chocolate and rolled in sprinkles or peanut chips (sold at various locations around the fair). Martha always gets a country ham biscuit. This year she was especially impressed with the home made buttermilk ham biscuit from Hunnicutts (one of the lunch stands that backs up to the race track). My brother Mike swears by the Carolina Packer Brand hot dogs served at Kings hot dog stand (across from the grand stand). He likes his dog’s with mustard and chili and believe me, he is an expert on hot dogs. We highly recommend each of these items. Give them a try.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pumpkin Experience #2

Pumpkin Experience #2 was unexpected, but totally amazing. I dropped into Cleveland Cake and Coffee Company for a quick cup of coffee (they use Cup-of-Joe beans, best in Raleigh), and I noticed among their bakery goodies a shining beacon of taste and hope. Pumpkin Experience #2 was the Pumpkin Scone at Cleveland Cake and Coffee Company. It was soft and moist, with just the right hint of pumpkin. It had a light glaze on top which added to the taste, but didn't make it too sweet. (I can't stand scones that are too sweet). It was brilliant and gave me hope for future generations of people yet to walk on this planet.

Pumpkinocity: 6 out of 10
Hope for the future: greatly improved

Pumpkin Experience #1

It's only fitting that Pumpkin Experience #1 this year if one of my pumpkin pleasures that I look forward to all year long. It's the amazing Pumpkin Cream Cheese at Bruegger's Bagel Bakery. I could eat buckets of it. My personal favorite is having it slathered on a hot Sesame Bagel, but I'll leave the bagel variety up to you. I could eat this stuff every day. If I could I would liquify if and run it through a IV, so that I could ingest it while I sleep. I'm tempted to use it as orange colored hair gel for what hair I have left, but I just can't bring myself to waste even an ounce of the pumpkiny goodness.

Pumpkinocity: 9 out of 10
Hair Gel Possibilities: 3 out of 10

The Great Pumpkin Quest 2010

So far as I can tell we have yet to weigh in of the food part of this blog, so here goes! Every year when Fall finally hits and the temperatures fall, and everything smells like football and fireplaces; restaurants, bakeries, and stores bring out 40 zillion pumpkin themed treats. I love it, I live for it. I may be obsessive, but pumpkin tastes soooo much better in October-November. So, over the next two months I will attempt to chronicle my pumpkin quest (hopefully with supporting pictures as I am able). I welcome any hidden pumpkin finds that you have happened upon!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Football Fashion

Since alliteration seems to be a hallmark of our blog, I am writing about the greatly debated topic of football fashion. Michael and I have discussed the best uniforms in college football and seem to have similar lists. When I mentioned it to my friend Daniel Freeman (who is 20), he immediately listed Oregon and Virginia Tech as two of his favorites (two teams that would be near my bottom ten.) It was clear to me that this may be a generational disagreement. I have a tendency to like the classics while Daniel liked the more radical “modern” look.  Regardless, I once read that a writer chose Penn State’s uniforms as the best because they were simple, iconic and classic. He then chose Penn State’s uniforms as the worst because they were boring and unimaginative. My criteria begins with a great helmet design. Then a uniform I find interesting. I have also included which version of the team’s uniform I like. So, here’s my top ten list. Let the debate begin…
1. Michigan (blue jersey-maize pants)
2. Southern Cal (cardinal jersey-gold pants)
3. Florida State (garnet jersey-gold pants)
4. LSU (purple jersey-gold pants)
5. Nebraska (cream jersey-scarlet pants)
6. UCLA (blue jersey-gold pants)
7. Alabama (crimson jersey-white pants)
9. Texas (white jersey-white pants)
9. Oklahoma (crimson jersey-cream pants)
10. Notre Dame / Navy (navy blue jerseys-gold pants)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Pillars of the Earth

“The Pillars of the Earth”, an epic written by Ken Follett a few years back, was very well received in most circles. It was so well received that a mini-series was spawned out of it. I generally have learned to back cautiously away from mini-series. They can be a huge waste of time and generally don’t live up to the hype. (See “Band of Brothers”, “John Adams”, and “From the Earth to the Moon” as exceptions to that rule.) So, I initially put off tackling the series. I took on episode 1 on a whim when I had nothing else really to watch and am very glad I did. The series does an admirable job telling an amazing story. The interweaving of faith as portrayed in cathedral building, and political corruption play well of each other. The series was also exceptionally well cast. Ian McShane was amazing as the dark and conflicted Bishop Wallerin. Matthew Madfayden shone as Prior Phillip, and the rest of the cast fit like perfect puzzle pieces. The story covers a lot of territory, so the first episode introduces a lot of people and starts their progression through the narrative. Hang on tight through that and the pace will pick up. Let me know what you think if you get a chance to see some or all of it. I highly recommend it as well worth your time!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Train Wreck Movies

Train wreck bad you can’t take your eyes off them. Thanks Dawn for a classification in which I am truly an expert. No one has seen as many bad movies as I have. Unlike Michael, who has a talent for finding the obscure great movie, I have the opposite ability. So here goes with my top ten all time guilty pleasure you can’t stop watching…
1. Road House
2. The Abominable Dr. Phibes
3. Starship Troopers
4. The Spy Who Loved Me
5. Varsity Blues
6. Re-Animator
7. Shogun Assassin
8. Our Man Flint
9. Them
10. Lair of the White Worm

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Comfort is for the Weak (thank heavens!)

Comfort has become sort of a dirty word in Christian circles. We deem it appropriate for older folks or those who have cancer, but feel that the everyday Christian shouldn't need comfort. Many Christians place themselves in uncomfortable settings to feel more spiritual (ie. fasting, super long prayer times, Promise Keepers, etc...). Not that those things are bad, because they aren't, it's just that it's easy to start believing that things that hurt a little are more spiritual. If we are not careful our motivation can become a bit off. The truth is, we need comfort and we want comfort. It's a fact of life that anyone who is uncomfortable instinctively and reflexively seeks comfort. Comfort is the homeostasis for which we were created. The Garden of Eden before the Fall (life as God intended) was the definition of comfort. Our desire for comfort in a painful, brutal world, is a sign that we were created for more than this world can offer. The problem isn't comfort, but that we take on the job of providing our own comfort, and that's a job that God wants all to Himself. The Garden of Eden worked because God provided all that Adam and Eve needed, and they trusted what He provided. When they sought to find their own comfort (knowing everything by eating from the forbidden tree) things broke down. The comfort we provide ourselves is always short lived and less than satisfying. (ie. drinking too much, hours in front of the tv, countless relationships, buying the newest and best...) Our challenge is to seek out the comfort that God uniquely provides, but that is for the next post.....

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Michael's Lists

It's only fair that I reply to Tony's last post with my own lists of best movies ever, and my favorite movies. So, here goes....

Best Movies Ever
10. On The Waterfront: Brando at his best, classic in every since of the word.
9.Saving Private Ryan
8.High Noon: Perfect tension, perfect real time drama, perfect casting. I love Grace Kelly
7.Trois Colours: Kieslowski's classic trilogy of Red, Blue, and White. If you haven't seen this, drop whatever you are doing and watch them now!
6.Citizen Kane
5.The Lord of the Rings trilogy
4.The Godfather parts 1 and 2.
3.The Searchers: Greatest Western of all time.
2.Modern Times: Charlie Chaplin at his absolute best.

My Favorite Movies
10.Tommy Boy
8.The Count of Monte Cristo
6.What's Eating Gilbert Grape
5.The Thin Man/ The Thin Man Returns
4.To Catch a Thief
2.Saving Private Ryan

This is the part where we welcome comments, or even your own lists, fire away!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Best and Favorite Movies

OK, now that Michael has released his John Ford fetish, it's time to seriously talk movies. I have to agree with Michael that Ford's collaborations with John Wayne in Stagecoach, The Searchers and the marvelous The Quiet Man resulted in true classics. Recently, Michael and I listed the Best Movies Ever and our Favorite Movies. We limited the selections to 10 each and used whatever criteria we felt was relevant. My Best Movies List was based on the full motion picture experience: acting, directing, cinematography, score, editing, social relevance, ground breaking content and/or techniques or anything else that made a particular movie stand out above the crowd. As for Favorite Movies, the criteria was simpler. I had to really like the movie and be able to watch it over and over without tiring of it. So here are my picks:

Best Movies Ever
1.)           The Godfather Parts 1 and 2
2.)           Saving Private Ryan
3.)           Pulp Fiction
4.)           Alien/Aliens
5.)           LA Confidential
6.)           Unforgiven
7.)           Patton
8.)           Lord of the Rings Trilogy
9.)           To Kill a Mockingbird
10.)        Once Upon a Time in the West
Favorite Movies
1.)           The Right Stuff
2.)           Saving Private Ryan
3.)           Pulp Fiction
4.)           The Shawshank Redemption
5.)           Love, Actually
6.)           Seven
7.)           Aliens
8.)           Excalibur
9.)           Out of Sight
10.)        Star Wars: A New Hope

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

John Ford: The Significance of Being Alone

Ok, Tony weighed in on faith, so I guess I should post something on film....

John Ford is by far one of the greatest directors of all time. Beginning in the silent film era and extended into the 1960's, Ford churned out over a hundred films. His favorite actors included the likes of John Wayne, Henry Fonda, and Maureen O'Hara. You could literally watch his movies and find great topics of thought and discussion for years, so for the sake of space and simplicity (I'm all kinds of simple), I'll take one theme and start from there....

Ford excelled at portraying the beauty and pitfalls of being alone. The rugged individual who despises needing anyone is the hero in countless Ford films. The American ideal of a self made man conquering his own world of wilderness is set across various backdrops, genres, and time frames. The detachment and loneliness pours off the screen in Ford's "Rio Grande" starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. They play a still married couple separated by war, duty, and now a grown son (they have differing opinions as to what his future should look like). Their love for each other is clearly evident, but the unspoken space between them seems impossibly vast. My Ford favorite, "The Searchers" ends with one of the greatest scenes of isolation in film history as Wayne's character, Ethan, having fought to bring home his kidnapped niece to bring a family back together and to begin healing, is left alone to walk off into the distance of Monument Valley. He walks away slowly and with purpose, and you can't help but feel the contrast of the joy of home and the duty he feels to be separated from it.

I could go on all day, but I recommend grabbing a Ford film and embracing the beautiful cinematography and haunting loneliness for yourself....

Elite: (the absolute best must see movies)
The Searchers

Essential: (great movies that are well worth your times)
The calvary trilogy (Rio Grande, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Fort Apache)
The Quiet Man
Stage Coach
How Green Was My Valley

Recommended: (for the committed movie viewer who wants a deeper look at Ford)
The Grapes of Wrath
They Were Expendable
Horse Soldiers

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Rules (Mosaic Law)

After a recent Bible study, Amanda, my 21 year old daughter, and I had a long discussion about the role of the Old Testament Mosaic Law and today’s culture. After the discussion and prayer, I went to bed. The next morning I woke up with a clear message. I rushed to write it down and do further research on the internet. The following is what I was led to write.

Why are there so many rules, why are they so diverse and why are they so archaic when viewed from our perspective?

There are so many because they are a set of guidelines to show how far short we fall to God’s ideal. If the list was short and simple, many of us would simply say. “I follow those rules so I am OK.”

The rules are to show us what we lack, not as a measure of our goodness and self-righteousness. The purpose of the Old Testament law is to convince us of our inability to keep the law and point us to our need for Jesus Christ as Savior.

Romans 7:7 But I can hear you say, "If the law code was as bad as all that, it's no better than sin itself." That's certainly not true. The law code had a perfectly legitimate function. Without its clear guidelines for right and wrong, moral behavior would be mostly guesswork.

Galatians 3:23-24 Until the time when we were mature enough to respond freely in faith to the living God, we were carefully surrounded and protected by the Mosaic law. The law was like those Greek tutors, with which you are familiar, who escort children to school and protect them from danger or distraction, making sure the children will really get to the place they set out for.

God is outside time, He is eternal, He knows the future, so why do so many of the rules not reflect our present day standards. Clearly, because He didn’t want them to or need them to. They were intended as a snapshot. They reflected a specific time and culture. They were a specific message to a specific people in a specific place and time. We are not intended to use them as a strict guideline for us today. Some of the laws were to show the Israelites how to obey God (the Ten Commandments,), others were to show the Israelites how to worship God and atone for their sin (the sacrificial system) and other laws were to make sure the Israelites saw themselves as separate and distinct from others in the same region (the food and clothing rules). None of these Old Testament law is mandatory for us today. Christ fulfilled all the demands of the Mosaic law. We don’t sacrifice animals today because it is understood that Jesus fulfilled the law of the sacrifice. Yet, we sometimes ignore that Jesus fulfilled all aspects of the Mosaic Law. Jesus either fulfilled all of the law, or none of it. We are no longer bound by its standards. Does that mean we have no standards. Of course not. We are now under a new set of standards, those centered on Jesus Christ.

Matthew 5:17-18 Jesus said: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished”

Romans 10:4-10 The earlier revelation was intended simply to get us ready for the Messiah, who then puts everything right for those who trust him to do it. Moses wrote that anyone who insists on using the law code to live right before God soon discovers it's not so easy—every detail of life regulated by fine print! But trusting God to shape the right living in us is a different story…The word that saves is right here, as near as the tongue in your mouth, as close as the heart in your chest. It's the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—"Jesus is my Master"—embracing, body and soul, God's work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That's it. You're not "doing" anything; you're simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That's salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: "God has set everything right between him and me!"

Ephesians 2:14-15 The Messiah has made things up between us so that we're now together on this, both non-Jewish outsiders and Jewish insiders. He tore down the wall we used to keep each other at a distance. He repealed the law code that had become so clogged with fine print and footnotes that it hindered more than it helped. Then he started over. Instead of continuing with two groups of people separated by centuries of animosity and suspicion, he created a new kind of human being, a fresh start for everybody.

In place of the Old Testament law, we are under the law of Christ which is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…and to love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). If we obey those two commands, we will be fulfilling all that Christ requires of us: “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:40).

The Old Testament law was never intended by God to be the universal law for all people for all of time. We are to love God and love our neighbors. If we obey those two commands faithfully, we will be upholding all that God requires of us. Everything else are requirements that fall outside our relationship with Jesus and can be looked on as attempts to cause us to judge each other or place barriers between us.

(Disclaimer: To be fair, everything here was what I was led to write, however, several items are copied form sources on the internet that I didn’t think to note. I will try to do a better job of crediting other sources in the future.)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Finally!!!!!.......A Blog??????

What to blog?

Well that question was easy enough to answer. The most substantive converstations that Tony and I tend to have revolve around one of the three topics listed in the title of this blog. Faith seems to be a topic that grows best when it is poked and prodded with difficult questions and honest discussions. We are a part of a small group that does just that, and the overflow of those conversations seemed to us to be good blogger fodder. As for film, I think I speak for Tony when I say that we are obsessive about good movies. In fact, we are rabid about ok movies, and pretty content with downright awful movies. Discussing good movies only adds to their depth, and proper movie digestion should be done with others. Lastly, a great meal is like the setting of a great play. It sets the stage for great discussions and sharing of life. Expect to see restaurants we love, dishes we crave and possibly recipes we massacre sprinkled through the following entries. Now for the more difficult question....

Why blog?

Seeing as there is about 2 billion blogs in existence, the majority of which cover faith, film, or food in some way, I don't think either of us expect to share anything deeply new or life changing. So far as I can tell the reasons to blog are as follows:

First, we both love new thoughts and perspectives and hope that our musings on faith, film, and food will encourage feedback. Neither of us have a problem with dissenting viewpoints. We are quite comfortable with people being wrong (just kidding). We hope that our thoughts will inspire other's thoughts which will in turn inspire us further. It's all very selfish really...

Second, I (Michael) have for some time suspected the CIA of listening in to discussions that Tony and I have been having only to steal the best of the ideas to sell to food and movie critics as well as to famous theologians. For instance check out the a portion of the comments made by a well known movie critic about the movie, "No Country for Old Men"....

"A truly great movie, I loved every minute!"

Now check out something I had said just days earlier....

"That movie was great, I really loved it!"

Coincidence? I think not.

So, this blog is our chance to take credit for all of the truly great ideas that cross our brains, and will ensure that faith, food, and film poachers like St. Augustine, Orson Welles, and the Apostle Paul will stop stealing our epiphanies.

Grace and Peace! (another example of a saying the Apostle Paul stole directly from me)