Friday, April 06, 2007

March 2007

Books Read:
Superman/Batman Public Enemies By: Jeph Loeb, Ed McGuinness, Dexter Vines
Teach With Your Heart By: Erin Gruwell
Me, Myself, and Bob By: Phil Vischer
House of Hilton By: Jerry Oppenheimer
Loser By: Jerry Spinelli
Mirror on America Ed: Joan T. Mims & Elizabeth Nollen
Illinois: Art of the State By: Joanne Trestrail
The Diviners: A Play in Two Acts and Elegies By: Jim Leonard, Jr.*
*This work is a play.

Movies Viewed for the First Time:
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)
The Love Bug**
Facing the Giants
Hell's Angels
Silent Hill
The Brothers Grimm
The Manchurian Candidate (2004)
The Gollum
Blades of Glory
The 39 Steps
Are We There Yet?

**Originally saw this film befre I was in grade school.

From the books I read this last month the top three that I read were Me, Myself, and Bob; Loser; and The Diviners. Me, Myself, and Bob is by Phil Vischer, the guy who created VeggieTales. It's basically a memoir of his life. For those of you who don't know, Big Idea Productions (the company behind VeggieTales) went bankrupt a few years ago. The company basically grew too large too fast, took on too many big projects, and in the end faced a lawsuit from an evil distributor that forced the company into bankruptcy (the decision was later overturned). VeggieTales is now produced by a different Big Idea. Vischer doesn't hold much back and talks in depth about the failure of the company he founded and what he ended up learning from it. One of the themes that the book deals with is that sometimes we have to let our dreams die before God because sometimes we come to love our dreams more than we love God. I can relate to that. I had a dream once and God asked me to give it up. It was the most difficult thing I've ever done. It's not that our dreams aren't important, because they are. Many times our dreams come from God. It's just that the most important thing in life is loving and following God and sometimes even the best dreams can become a distraction to that and the only way God can get our attention is to have the dream die. That doesn't mean the dream will stay dead because God can resurrect those dreams in a new, different, and better way than anything we can imagine. In other words, a dream delayed is not necessarily a dream denied. (That's an original Tom Varner quote so you might want to write that down ).

Loser is an amazing piece of literature. It follows the life of a boy from just before he enters school through middle school. It is full of insights and captures the essence of the innocence and wonder of childhood; something that many of us lose as we grow older, but something that is essential to discovering the kingdom of Heaven. Jerry Spinelli is an amazing writer. He's one of my favorites and if I can write one work that is as deep and meaningful as many of his books, I will be a happy writer indeed.

Lastly in literature, there is The Diviners. It is a play that takes place in southern Indiana during the early days of the Great Depression. The story revolves around an "idiot-boy" named Buddy Layman and a former preacher who has given up preaching named C.C. Showers. It illustrates the profound friendship that can develop between a teacher and a student. It also illustrates the difficulties and tragedies that occur when wisdom and love are forced to fight with ignorance and indifference. I first saw The Diviners nearly a decade ago. I highly recommend that if you have the opportunity, go see this play. Be warned, though, it's incredibly sad.

As for movies, I don't know where to begin. Lon Chaney starred in The Hunchback of Notre Dame and it is an excellent example of how talented "The Man of a Thousand Faces" was. I love Hugo's novel and sometime I would like to make the ulimate film version of the story.

I really enjoyed 300, but it's very much a guy movie. It's all about honor, glory, and doing the right thing. Things that I know many women just can't understand. It's violent, but not as much as I was led to believe.

Facing the Giants is a great family movie that is a great example of how a movie can honor God. For a "Christian" movie, it's not too bad. The acting is pretty good and the story is well written. What I found most amazing about the movie is that it was entirely made by a church. Everyone involved was an amateur. It's one of the best all amateur films I've ever seen.

TMNT was pretty good. It was just nice to see the Turtles back on screen. The Brothers Grimm showed me once again how great a director Terry Gilliam is (he's one of only a handful of people who can use film to tell a fairy tale and do it right). I was disappointed by Blades of Glory. I've become a Will Ferrell fan, now. Blades of Glory had so much potential, but it just didn't live up.

Here's a little something of what I've learned these past few weeks: life is incredibly difficult and full of challenges and trials. You can strive your entire life to do the right thing only to be faced with one obstacle after another. The temptation to give up will be incredibly strong. Don't give up. Don't give in. As I've often told my youngest brother: never give up, never surrender. Give your best. Keep pressing on. Afterwards when you look back, you'll realize that the journey was much more fun and enjoyable because you gave it your all. Most importantly, love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. You won't regret it.

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