Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Food Review: The Roast Grill

At long last, back from a four month hiatus, the blog returns….

It takes a truly remarkable topic to be the post after such a long lay off, and the Roast Grill is just such a topic. I had passed by the small, unassuming restaurant a number of times, but had never darkened the door. So, when a quick lunch meeting with Tony became possible, we both agreed that The Roast Grill was the perfect, long over due choice. There are maybe 15 seats in the entire place, including the bar. The first thing that catches your attention is all that the eatery does not serve including: ketchup, fries, cheese, mayo, kraut, sweet tea, or chips. Also, don’t plan on using the plastic there. The Roast Grill is a cash only establishment. What the Grill does have is hot dogs, and a 70 year old chili recipe that is worth the trip. The hot dogs were perfect and the chili was amazing. The glass bottled Coca-Cola’s seemed to fit as well. So, if you haven’t been, do yourself a favor and swing by the Roast Grill. The food is wonderful and the unpretentious atmosphere is even better. (Just make sure to not ask for ketchup!)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Reflections on Ash Wednesday

Michael here...

Today was my first experience with an Ash Wednesday service, and I found it to be meaningful and thought provoking. (I'm not Catholic, so the newness of the service allowed me to focus on the message more clearly.)The short phrase that was spoken as the sign of the cross was being marked on our foreheads really caused me to think. It was simply, "turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel". The more I thought about, the more profound it became for me. After all, isn't sin simply those times when we don't have faith in the Gospel. When I write Gospel I mean the good news that Jesus Christ is indeed Lord. That despite the broken nature of our world and the pain and suffering all around us, Jesus is indeed ruling over our universe, and will set things back to right. Not only that, but that he plans to use each of us to help accomplish that mission. It's faith because I can't always see that. The world is just too messed up and too painful at times, so I have to trust that Jesus is indeed at work, and that His plan will ultimately prevail. My anxieties and fear come when I don't believe that Jesus is really in charge. It's in those times that I fear that the powers that are in charge will destroy me and crush any hope that I have. But if Jesus is indeed Lord as the Gospel proclaims, then it's not all up to me after all. The pressure's off. I don't have to work so hard to make things work out, after all that seems to be GOD's job anyway.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Film Review: Like Dandelion Dust

There are literally thousands of movies released every year, and several thousand from the past that await viewing. In order to make sense out of that chaos, you need a plan and some basic rules on how to choose what movies you plan to watch. Two of my rules coincided in a movie that I recently viewed. Rule #1: The Barry Pepper Rule: Simply put, if Barry Pepper is in a movie, then it is mandatory viewing. I don't know why exactly, but i know that it's true. This rule rarely leads me astray (see the movie "3" about racing legend Dale Earnhardt for an exception to the rule). Rule #2: Avoid movies that have clear and blatant agendas. This is almost impossible, because all movies have an agenda of some sort. It's the blatant ones that I feel are trying to manipulate me that I work hard to avoid. This includes religious movies that include crosses in every scene, evangelism by the bucket loads, and some sort of tearful repentance scene set to a backdrop of Casting Crowns music. While invoking the Barry Pepper rule I picked up the movie "Like Dandelion Dust" recently. I didn't realize that it was adapted from a book by a well known Christian inspirational author. I am pleased to say, however, that I didn't feel manipulated in the least, and actually enjoyed the film. It's a story about adoption and redemption, and the inner turmoils that occur within the family that gives up a child and in the family that takes a child in. The film does a nice job of not villifying either side of the struggle, which provided a great tension throughout. It's movie worth seeing, and yes, Barry Pepper was excellent.

Also, do you have any movie watching rules that you employ? Feedback is welcome!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sugarland's Grasshopper Cupcake

Michael here...

Tony has said of me that I am unable to pass by a new or cool looking bakery or coffee shop, and sadly it's true. This past weekend led me to Chapel Hill where I took my daughter and her friend our for her birthday. After a gut exploding dinner at Pepper's Pizza (I went with the Ball Park slice, which was pizza with andouille sausage, feta cheese, and pork bbq), we strolled down Franklin St. for a little dessert. We landed in Sugarland bakery, a carb lovers delight, that is obviously operated by people who love their craft. The girls went with gelato, but I chose the 72,000 calorie Grasshopper cupcake. It was delicious, all minty and sweet. If you ever get the chance, drop in at Sugarland and enjoy any of their wide assortment of dessert items. (Also, the coffee was really good).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Be Still, Be Now

Michael here...

It's been a while between posts, but here goes....

I don't know about you, but my life feels chaotic at times. What's worse, there are periods when I really enjoy the chaos. I love having several things going at once, and the pressure that comes from needing to perform in a time crunch. Eventually, however, my mind and body pay the price. I lose my ability to enjoy small things and my thinking becomes a muddled mess. It's in those fragile (and often frightened) moments that I return to the GOD who loves me even when I can't perform. He's been there all along, I've just managed to lose sight of him for a bit. I try to forget my past and ignore my future, and rest right here and right now in His unconditional and extravagant love. I don't know why I forget these times so easily and plunge back into the chaos, but I'm grateful that GOD is patient and always eager for my return.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Oscar Buzz: Jeremy Renner in The Town

Michael here...

The more I think about it, the more I think that Ben Affleck isn't a horrible actor. I never really like him very much in what I see him in, but now I think that it's just that there are two or three other actors in his movies that I like more, the same was true of The Town. Jeremy Renner played Affleck's childhood friend, and stole every scene he was in. Many may remember Renner from his lead in The Hurt Locker. He doesn't disappoint in this role. Loyal, edgy, scary, but ultimately sympathetic, Renner filled his character perfectly, and gave a pretty good movie depth and connection, making it in my estimation a really good movie. I don't think Renner will be close to winning the award for Best Supporting Actor (should be a race between Christian Bale and Geoffrey Rush), but deserved to be nominated. The Town is worth seeing for Renner, and what ended up being a good story.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The King's Speech

Michael here...

Tony and I hope to blog on a lot of the Oscar worthy movies before the awards come around. He tackled True Grit (which was amazing), I'm gonna review The King's Speech. The King's Speech takes on the true story of King George VI, who took his place on the throne due to his older brother's irresponsibility. King George (played by Colin Firth) was a good man, but struggled with self doubt and most notably a severe stuttering problem. After all attempts to get help seem to have failed, he reaches out to a unconventional practicioner ably played by Geoffrey Rush. The story was a bit slow, but well told. If this movie lands awards, however it will be for Firth and Rush. It's hard to imagine anyone giving Firth a run for Best Actor, but stranger things have happened, and although I don't think he will win, Rush should recieve a nomination in the Best Supporting Actor category. This movie is dramatic and humorous in turns, and leaves you with a contented feeling of hope. Be prepared for the pace, but I recommend this movie whole heartedly as movie with a good story and excellent acting.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Art of Taking Away

Michael here...

OK, we are only two blogs in to the new year and both have mentioned nude photos in some way, I am putting a stop to this madness! No more talk of nude least until the summer...

A new year means a fresh start and for many of us it also means a time of reflection, organization, and planning for the future. For me that tends to mean adding things. Adding new disciplines, hobbies, family and career goals, but the adding doesn't really work, until I've taken something away. Perhaps one of the most beneficial disciplines of all is the art of taking away. What things exist in me right now that clutter my mind and my soul? Where am I doing too much just for the sake of doing? Where am I buying too much just for the sake of owning? Are there places where I am pursuing too many shallow relationships to avoid seeking depth in other relationships?

I need space open in my life for GOD to pour whatever He will in. It's so hard not to try to fill that space myself though, with things that I think will fit.  May GOD grant us ever increasing grace as we seek to take away in good and holy ways.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

2011, nude pictures of me and True Grit

Tony here:

Like Michael, I am looking forward to a new year of thoughtful commentary on those things that make life more interesting. My faith comments have been sparse this past year so I plan to dedicate myself to a little more time on the subject.

However, let’s start with a very serious topic. Michael claims that he will not post any nude pictures of me because this is a family friendly blog. I understand that logic. What I don’t understand is why he asked me to send him several nude pictures last week. Oh well…

…as for the comments requesting a picture of me and Michael, let’s just say I have a face that is best left to your vivid imagination and keep it at that.

Now for the first movie review of the year. True Grit. The Coen Brothers (who I typically love for their quirky inventiveness) have crafted a western that has brought the genre full circle. This time they leave their distinctive eccentricities behind and create a more conservative movie that harkens back to the days of John Ford westerns like Stage Coach. Those early films were replete with archetypical western characters, thrown together by fate for a short while and tasked with resolving a good versus evil dilemma. At its heart, True Grit is that type of rootin-tootin western movie. Forget the 1969 John Wayne version when you see this one. The Coen Brothers have based their work more on the original Charles Portis novel. The dialogue, or more accurately, prose, of the characters is like music or poetry. You grasp to comprehend each word because they convey something rich and meaningful.  Hailee Steinfeld, as the strong-willed Mattie Ross, is simply terrific. Add to that, great performances by Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon (in a nice constrained piece of acting that could have easily been over the top), Josh Brolin and the underappreciated Barry Pepper. Include this movie with The Searchers, Once Upon a Time in the West and Unforgiven as westerns that must be seen.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Off And Running in 2011

Been a slow blogging start to 2011, but we are looking to get cranked up again now. Many thanks to everyone who have been following the blog and who have recommended it to others. We love the feedback, and interaction. One important thing to note: for the hundreds of you who keep asking for a picture of Tony in the nude, we keep saying "no", and will not back down on that. This is a family friendly blog after all.....