Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
- The Dark Night ($530.9 mil). I gave it an "A" and have already bought the DVD.
- Iron Man ($318.3). Another "A", and I have the DVD.
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ($317). A solid "B", but only a weak 3 out of 4 for the series. The DVD is sitting on the shelf at home.
- Hancock ($227.9). A solid "D."
- WALL-E ($223.8). An A+, and I don't usually go for the "cartoons" (unless it's Bugs Bunny and gang). Of course, I had to get the DVD for my girls.
- Kung Fu Panda ($215.4). Haven't seen it.
- Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa ($174.9). Haven't seen it; slept through the original.
- Twilight ($167.3). Will NOT see it; can't figure out the fascination with the undead.
- Quantum of Solace ($164.3). A "C-." It made me long for the days of George Lazenby . . . and that's sad.
- Dr. Seuss' Horton hears a Who! ($154.5). Haven't seen it, but I think Suess belongs in a book not film.
- Sex and the City ($152.6). Don't care to see it, but I'm blessed with a "Y" chromosome!
- Mamma Mia! ($143.8). Will NOT see it. See note on #11.
- The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian ($141.6). A weak "B", and I purchased the DVD. I just wish Peter Jackson had decided to tackle C. S. Lewis as well as his friend Tolkien.
- The Incredible Hulk ($134.5). A "C-". For me, the Hulk will always be a Friday night at 7 p.m. thing.
- Wanted ($134.3). Haven't seen it.
- Get Smart ($130.3). A surprising "B". I thought I was wasting my money when I bought the ticket, but it made for a good evening.
- Four Christmases ($111.6). A "C-". Had a few good laughs, but belongs nowhere near the Pantheon: A Christmas Story, Home Alone, Christmas Vacation and The Santa Clause.
- Tropic Thunder ($110.5). Haven't seen it, but will probably rent it. I'm sure I will need to employ the V-chip.
- Bolt ($102.4). A solid "B". Another animation win. I'm sure the DVD will get added to the collection.
- The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor ($102.3). Haven't seen it. I saw the original and liked it, but these never-ending sequel series get a little tiring.
- Journey to the Center of the Earth ($101.7). haven't seen it, but would like to.
- Eagle Eye ($101.1). A "B-". Decent story, but the trailer has all the good scenes.
- Step Brothers ($100.5). An "F". Before I bought the ticket, I told myself that it was just junk, but I went any way . . . and was miserable.
- You Don't Mess with the Zohan ($100.0). An "F". Ditto the remark on #23 . . . amplified.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
At first I was angry. Fire all the coaches. Ship off half the players. Somehow banish Jerry Jones from the NFL. But, in the hours since, I've calmed somewhat. It was just a football game, after all. And, life goes on. And, as they say, there's always next season.
And, I now want to see something else result . . . I want a do over. I want the Dallas Cowboys to return next season largely intact . . . the same players . . . the same coaching staff . . . and, yes, Jerry Jones, too.
Looking back at the season, I see that several factors led to the collapse of this team. I lost track of the injuries several weeks ago . . . injuries certainly took their toll (think, if Romo didn't miss three games, the Cowboys would have won at least 2 of those games, and the significance of today's game would have been mute). The press (especially, Ed Werder, wreaked their havock on this team with their incessant efforts to keep the drama flowing form Valley Ranch.
I believe Tony Romo will be a great quarterback. Marion Barber, when healthy, is a beast. The line, when healthy, is the best in the NFL. I love the passion of T.O. (I'd rather him demand the ball than be complacent). Witten is a Hall of Famer. DeMarcus Ware is The Best in the league, hands down. Most of the defense is underheralded. I can do without Pacman. Wade Phillips is a great defensive coach; Garrett lost a step this year, but still has so much promise. This team, given a clean slate, can make a great run.
Print it in three-inch letters: The Cowboys will win the Super Bowl in February 2010.
Here's my picks for this season's NFL playoffs:
Eagles over Vikings
Cardinals over Falcons
Dolphins over Ravens
Chargers over Colts
Giants over Eagles
Panthers over Cardinals
Titans over Dolphins
Steelers over Chargers
Panthers over Giants
Steelers over Titans
Steelers over Panthers
The Pittsburgh Steelers will be the first NL franchise to win 6 Super Bowls. The Dallas Cowboys will be the first to win 7 (in 2011).
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I have a lot of respect for John Walsh and his family. I am glad that they have received some closure as the kidnapper and killer of their son, Adam, has finally been determined. Read the story here.
Ben Witherington is a must-read for me, whether it be his published works or his blog. Today, he offers up another interesting blog post; read it here.
The Greatest Game Ever Played. ESPN's "representation" of the 1958 NFL Championship game between the Baltimore Colts and New York Giants is must see TV. I watched it Saturday night when it first aired, and caught about half of the reply tonight.
The program ends with this incredible stat: In 1958, the NFL had 12 franchises, whose individual value amounted to less than $1 million per team. In 2008, the NFL has 32 franchises, whose individual value exceeds $1 billion per team (including the Dallas Cowboys, whose value is estimated at close to $2 billion dollars . . . of course, a billion dollar partially-public financed stadium doesn't hurt the bottom line).
I'm sad. Next Tuesday is Brit Hume's last day as anchor of FOX News Special Report. He will be missed. He is, in my sometimes humble opnion, the best in the business.
His explanation for his "retirement" says a lot about his character. He's leavng to spend more time devoted to 1-God, 2-his granddaughters, and 3-golf. Can you imagine an anchor of CNN or MSNBC (or one of the Jurassic 3) saying that?
Brit, you wll be missed!
Monday, December 15, 2008
I've never liked the term (perhaps because I was once a lineman), because it seems to promote the importance and contributions of certain players over their teammates . . . at least in the estimation of the uninformed. Any serious football fan knows that all 11 players are indispensable and vital to the team's performance (not necessary equally so, but all important, nonetheless). Tony Romo may get the lion's share of credit (or criticism) for the Cowboys' success (or lack thereof), but Marc Columbo's performance is important, as well. And, Tashard Choice doesn't make his 43-yard jaunt to end zone last night if Flozell Adams and his mates on the line do not get their blocks.
Most enterprises are like this. In every group, there will be the high-profile players and the behind-the-scenes contributors. The boos of an outfit often gets the public acclaim (or ridicule), but the secretary, the researcher, the bookkeeper, the custodian . . . they all play an important role in the performance of the company.
Churches are like this. The preacher is often out in front. Elders are often on the pedestal. Youth ministers are up there, as well. But, where would a church be if it were not for the secretary, or the one who faithfully unlocks the building each Sunday, or the one who prepares the communion, or the one who checks on the shut-ins, or the one who keeps the lawn, or the one who stocks the pantry, or the one who keeps the Bible class curriculum ordered, or the one who prints the bulletin, or . . . well, you get the idea.
I had the blessing of worshiping with the church in Farmersville, Texas yesterday evening. A delightful group. I enjoyed my time with them. I met a young man there who has Downs Syndrome; a wonderful person, with a bright smile, a kind heart, and a commitment to service. Each Sunday and Wednesday, he turns on the P.A. system, puts the numbers up on the "stat" board, and post the song numbers. He takes great pride in his jobs, and he serves his church well. He may not be a "skill player," but his service to the Lord's family is just as important and vital.
I love the words of Paul, as he addresses a church that is beset with division and pride. He tells the Corinthians, "But God has placed the parts, each one of them, in the body just as He wanted. And if they were all the same part, where would the body be? Now there are many parts, yet one body" (1 Cor. 12.19-20 HCSB).
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
A story told in Tom Callahan's biography of NFL legend helps to illustrate how much professional sports have changed over the past 50 years. The story is found on page 47 of Johnny U: The Lie & Times of Johnny Unitas (pub., 2006). Callahan quotes Unitas relating the story to Steve Sabol of NFL Films.
Unitas describing his first day in the Pittsburgh Steelers locker room in the 1955 off-season (yes, Unitas was a Steeler before he was a Colt!).:
I asked the guy, "Where are the whites?"--you know, the T-shirt and the athletic supporter and the socks, the undergarments you put on before your pads. He said, "Oh, right over there on the floor." I said, "On the floor?" He said, "Yeah, over there."
Here was this big pile of socks and athletic supporters and T-shirts. You rooted around in there until you found what you wanted. And I said, "This is professional football?" "It's the way we do it"
We went out and practiced and came back in. So, I just figured you took off your whites and threw them in a laundry hamper. "No, no, you hang them up on a hanger and we turn a big fan on to dry them up for the afternoon's practice."
How times have changed! Most professional sports' locker rooms are luxurious spas compared to what Unitas and his contemporaries endured. In fact, as I firs read Unitas's story, my mind went back to the small, cramped locker room me and my 7th grade Eagles' teammates used at Lubbock Christian School. That smell could knock you out!
This past weekend, the Dallas Cowboys held an auction of items from Texas Stadium, which will host its final game on December 21. One of the items put up for sale was a urinal from the Dallas Cowboys' locker room. The winning bid? $500! Can you believe that? And, that, in a recession!!!
I love professional sports, and am a big fan of the Dallas Cowboys and St. Louis Cardinals (baseball). I have a few memorabilia items blazoned with the teams' logos. I even shelled out $50 to watch the Cardinals play against the Houston Astros this past summer. But, the money thrown at professional sports in our country highlights some misplaced priorities in our society. Of course, to be fair, and to keep a proper perspective, the inflation in sports is outdone by many other excesses. For instance, Americans spent more on M&Ms last year than they did on tickets to professional sporting events. And, Oprah Winfrey made more last year than the entire lineups of the New York Yankees, New York Mets, and Boston Red Sox combined, together with half of the other teams in the National League!
Am I trying to make a point with this post? Not really. But, I can't believe anyone on their right mind would spend $500 for a urinal, even one "marked" by Tony Romo and Troy Aikman. I'm a fan, but that's a fanatic . . . a fanatic in need of therapy.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I have some favorite eateries:
- Rosa's Cafe
- Cracker Barrel
- Cici's Pizza
- Spring Creek
There's other regular stops, but I visit these establishments often. Why? Consistent quality. Relative low cost. Cleanliness (for the most part). And, especially, service with a smile. Most of these restaurants excel at customer service (there are exceptions, but true as a general rule).
My travels also put me together with many congregations of Christians. I meet churches of all sizes. I meet churches that are growing. I meet churches that are struggling. A common factor in churches that are doing well? You might say, service with a smile.
Growing churches are friendly churches. They are churches that care about people: churches that love being together, and churches that go out of their way to make visitors and newcomers welcome.
Sometimes, congregations fall for the notion that church growth is primarily a matter of big and fancy facilities, or polished and well-educated preachers, or a plethora of programs and offerings. These can be important contributors to growth, but the first spark, I believe, is the people-friendly quotient. After all, the example of the of greatest people-loving person should inspire us!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
So many of us would like the occasional Mulligan to employ in life--the opportunity to do-over some tough moment or unfortunate circumstance. But, life plays through.
Eighteen months ago, I thought I was driving straight down the fairway, flag in sight, but out of nowhere, it seemed, the deepest and most foreboding sand trap of my life reared its head, and suddenly I went from a good streak to an awful lie.
At such a moment there are two basic courses of action. You can flail away at the ball, hoping to pound that ball out of the sand and straight to the pin, and more than likely drive your ball deeper into the sand. Or, you can take your wedge and simply play for the fairway or green, lying up for a better view on the next shot. I must admit, I've spent much of the past 18 months flailing away at the ball: either to recapture my life as it had been (or, as close in semblance as possible), or out of an in-your-face attitude toward the ones whose foolishness (and sin) forced the sand trap. I should have been playing for the fairway.
Life will not always unfold smoothly. There will be sand traps--resulting from our own foolishness, the actions of others, a combination of the two, or simply because we are in the wrong place at the wrong time. It helps to know of the sand traps that are ahead, but our forewarning can often be brief.
"Gird up your loins," Peter wrote. Be prepared: the next shot, or series of shots may be tough. Preparation is good; a level head in the midst of the crisis, however, is better. The key to conquering the sand trap is a plan of action--a plan that is not irrational, motivated by unhealthy emotion, but a plan that recognizes the tough spot and knows that the distance ahead cannot be recaptured in one glorious shot . . . the mindset that it will take a series of steps to get back on track.
I'm looking for that next lie; it may only be a few yards from the sand trap, but it will give me a much better position to then shoot for the flag. In fact, I think I have already hit out of the sand trap, but now I'm in the short rough. But, I'll take the short rough over the sand trap any day. Yet, I will not be completely satisfied until I reach the green.
One shot at a time. That's my daily reminder.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Mannheim Steamroller is still the king of Christmas music in my CD player, but Amy Grant, Randy Travis and Trans-Siberian Orchestra are worthy princes and princesses.
I ate lunch in Aggieland. Now, I am neither an Aggie, nor the son of an Aggie, but I was impressed with the campus of Texas A & M University. It was only my second visit there; I was 13 year old the first time.
I only had time to walk around the outside of the George Bush Presidential Library, but that alone left me impressed. One of these days, I will be back to walk through the inside. I've been to four Presidential Libraries this year: those of Ronald Reagan (awesome! . . . with Air Force One indoors), Lyndon Johnson (not a fan, but a great library), and Bill Clinton (looks like an over sized mobile home on stilts . . . his is certainly outclassed by the others!).
My brief visit to the Bush Library included seeing the statue pictured below. It is of a herd of wild (and free!) horses trampling over the remnants of the Berlin Wall. Powerful imagery. Reagan's Library also has a section of the Berlin Wall. I guess Clinton's only memorial is the stained blue dress. (Forgive me, but I couldn't refrain.)
Ahhh, Braum's! I stopped in at the one in Hillsboro. Double-scoop waffle cone: chocolate chip and peanut butter cup . . . hit the spot. And, I've got the physique to prove it!!!
I must say, my week in Houston was enjoyable. The weather was perfect . . . and you can't say that about Houston very often. I visited there in June (100 degrees; 98% humidity); I returned in December (mid 50s to 80s; sight rain on one day). And, except for one long drive, the traffic wasn't too bad.
Anticipating another Big 12 Championship for Oklahoma. Go, Sooners!
I MISS MY GIRLS and home! 12 more days to go.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Have patience, have patience,
Don't be in such a hurry.
When you get impatient,
You only start to worry.
That God is patient, too;
And think of all the times
When others had to wait on you!
These words are just the chorus, but you get the point. Patience is a virtue. It is, according the apostle Paul, a fruit of the Spirit (the product of a faithful and Christ-centered life). And, it is so counter to what we often see in the world (and, sadly, too sparingly seen in people of faith . . . and, I'm raising my hand in self-analysis).
Today, I spent a lot of time on the highways and byways of Houston, Texas, the fourth largest city in America. Without some patience, such an adventure would drive you crazy . . . and maybe off an overpass!
Tonight, some unfortunate driver became impatient and paid the price . . . a price that was exacted in some measure from countless hundreds and thousands of other motorists.
You see, this driver (unknown to me), cut somebody off, an action that led to a chain of accidents and a few crashed cars. Then, traffic became backed up . . . for miles and miles and miles. I first encountered the traffic at a standstill 15 miles! from the scene of the accident. It took me and the other cars around me 1 hour to drive those 15 miles! Argh!!!
Impatience hurts. And, often the innocent!
Tragically, the point was proven beyond a doubt this past Friday in Long Island, New York. You've undoubtedly heard the sad news of the Walmart employee being trampled to death by hundreds of impatient and greedy shoppers. All because they wanted to be the first to get a discounted big screen HD TV.
Impatience is all about self. It is not concerned about the welfare of others.
Let us learn to put others first . . . and to slow down a bit!