Monday, January 31, 2011

ROMANTIC Movies You Might Have Missed Monday

The world of film is heavily marked with the romantic genre. I’d wager we all have our favorites, those classic couples that steal our hearts, give us butterflies in our stomachs, and make us cry. Around this time last year, I shared my top ten list on Dry Ground (click here to read), perhaps you’ve seen them too. It’s not an exhaustive list, for I do enjoy a good love story and many movies fit the bill. For the next few weeks, I’ll share some of my favorites that maybe you haven’t seen.

When you start exploring the archives of entertainment and actually watch some of the earliest films, you understand why we still laud names such as Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, the stars of today’s feature presentation, It Happened One Night, released in 1934. One of the first Best Picture winners (officially #5), this movie serves as the original romantic comedy and is a treat to experience.

As newspaper man Peter Warne, Gable plays his usual charming self with a measure of smugness thrown in, a foreshadowing of the roll we all know him best for, Gone with the Wind’s Rhett Butler, still five years into his future.

Claudette plays socialite Ellen Andrews who, in the first few minutes of the film, jumps off her father’s yacht in Miami because he’s pressuring her to annul her hasty marriage to rich aviator King Westley waiting for her in New York City. Completely on her own for the first time in her life, Ellen has to make it from Florida to New York without getting caught by her father’s search parties. She decides taking a bus will protect her anonymity best.

That’s where she meets Peter Warne, and the laughs begin.

Ellen and Peter strike a deal. He’ll help her get to New York in return for the exclusive story of her quest. Of course, that doesn’t mean their partnership sprouts all roses. Between her superior, naïve stubbornness and his condescending bullying, they butt heads every step of the way. They argue over the proper way to dunk a donut in coffee, the definition of a piggyback ride, and techniques of hitchhiking. He’s always bossing her around and she’s always pouting and resisting.

In the middle of barely tolerating each other, though, they discover that they make a pretty good team, becoming almost friends, almost more. Still, miscommunications crop up that threaten to unravel everything.

This movie has wit, memorable quotes, LOL moments, a stirring love story and classic charm that makes me smile every time I watch it. It’s a valued and foundational piece of film history. It’s the beginning of long and successful career for Gable, winning him a Best Actor Oscar, something he did not win for his role as Rhett Butler. Colbert also won for her performance. It’s feel-good done exceptionally well.

In short, It Happened One Night is well worth the watch.

(photos by

Friday, January 28, 2011

Weekend Tune Up

The words are so great to this song, "Live," by Nichole Nordeman, I had to share them. You can listen to the song too if you click HERE. Take the weekend to tune up your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. Be blessed, Dry Ground friends!

Did you come that we might just survive?
Did you come so we could just get by?
Did you walk among us
so we might merely limp along beside?

I was bound, I have been set free
But I have settled for apathy
Did you come to make new
And know I'd crawl right back into the skin you found me in?

It's where I am- not where I've been

You make me want to live
You make me want to live
You came to shake us
And to wake us up to something more
Than we'd always settled for
And you make me want to live

We've all been up on the mountain top
A golden glow that's bound to soon wear off
Then it's back to the mundane, telling tales of glory days
When we were hopeful that this change was here to stay

So why would a young man
Live in a waste land
When the castle of his dreams is standing by?
Why would a princess
Put on an old dress
To dance with her beloved and a chance to catch his eye?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Movies You Might Have Missed Monday - Consolidated List

Greetings to my friends!

Here's a consolidated list of Movies You Might Have Missed Mondays. Click on each to go to the review of that movie. Check back on Mondays for new additions!

1. Stagecoach (1939)
3. On the Waterfront (1954)
4. Born Yesterday (1960)
5. The Thin Man (1934)
8. Guys and Dolls (1955)
14. Bella (2006)
15. Big Fish (2003)
16. Music Within (2007)
17. Amazing Grace (2006)
20. Designing Woman (1957)
24. His Girl Friday (1940)
25. Sunset Blvd. (1950)
27. Soul Surfer (2011)
31. Inkheart (2008)
32. Ladyhawke (1985)
33. Julie & Julia (2009)
34. Patton (1970) & The Hurt Locker (2009)
39. Elizabethtown (2005)
41. I.Q. (1994)
42. Harvey (1950)
43. No Reservations (1946)
44. The Wild One (1953)
45. Now, Voyager (1942)
47. Vivacious Lady (1938)
49. My Man Godfrey (1936)

Happy Movie Watching!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

POV Wednesdays – Fat Days

Do you ever have those? Fat days? When you swear that your jeans fit tighter, you’re baking a muffin top over the waistband, you’re taking up far more space than usual? What’s the deal, you wonder? Yesterday, you felt fit and thin and ready to walk the runway during fashion week. Did that extra slice of cheese or handful of French fries or scoop of ice cream really make that much difference from one day to the next?

Actually, no, it didn’t.

I read a study once (in Glamour Magazine 2009 – I searched and searched for the link, but it’s been removed – sorry. But I really really did see it) that did a “fat days” experiment. It concluded that there are no such things. Your body does not change that drastically from one day to the next.

But it feels like it, doesn’t it?

This is a telling example of perception, namely, how you see yourself.

Some people have perceptions of themselves that are far higher than how other people perceive them.

Others have perceptions of themselves that are far lower.

I have two comments about that.

First, both are a form of pride, and therefore sin. (If we’re getting down to brass tacks, it’s true.)

Second, which relates to the first, the only perception about ourselves we should concern ourselves with is God’s.

So how does God see us?

Well, first, we are His creation. That’s saying a lot. As a bumper sticker that my grandmother used to have hanging on her refrigerator reminded us: God don’t make no junk!

Second, though, we’re fallen, sinners, separated from Him.

Third, we’re valuable. So much so that He gave His life for our redemption.

Furthermore, we’re capable and strong. He equips us to live amidst a decaying world and promises us that one day, we’ll live with Him in a perfect place made especially for us.

Finally, we’re beautiful royalty, a bride preparing herself for marriage to the King of Kings.

All these things we are because God made it so, not because we’ve done anything to deserve it.

These facts should not only transform our perceptions of ourselves, but also of other people, effecting how we treat them.

That’s what I think, anyway. How do you see it?

(photos by

Monday, January 24, 2011

Movies You Might Have Missed Monday

Since we’re on the border between “life” month and “love” month, appropriate that they live close enough to hold hands since they go hand-in-hand, I want to share about a movie that gives us both. Aptly titled, it’s Life is Beautiful.

This Italian movie released in 1997. Yes, I said Italian. The main reason you might have missed it accidentally on purpose – it’s subtitled because it’s all in Italian.

But I’m here to implore you not to let that deter you from this foreign film. I’m by no means a foreign film connoisseur, there are very few that I watch let alone like.

This one is a treasure.

It’s pretty much divided into two parts. The first half introduces us to the main character, Guido, a waiter and a crack-up. He is so funny, like fall off your chair funny. The humor does not get lost in translation, his antics alone enough to keep you rolling. In the coarse of his waiting tables, he sees the woman of his dreams and attempts to win her.

The second half starts several years into Guido and his bride’s marriage, introducing us to their son. They seem to have a nice life. Quickly, though, the dream becomes a nightmare when the Nazis move into town. Guido is Jewish, and therefore is targeted, arrested, and along with both his wife and son, taken to a concentration camp.

The rest of the story shows us how he protects his son throughout their horrifying ordeal. Although a shade of humor remains, this film elicits other strong emotions that are far from funny.

I like Life is Beautiful because it’s a masterful blend of writing, acting, music, and cinematography. It makes me laugh while also reminding me, in a stark yet not graphic visual, the value of a life and a time in history when that value was forgotten in a very public way. It inspires me to appreciate my family and friends, to hug their necks as much as possible. It’s also a different but beautiful love story.

Life is Beautiful garnered many awards. Roberto Benigni won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Guido – you might recall highlight reels of his exuberant jumping over the backs of theatre chairs to make his way up to the stage to accept his award – but he was nominated for directing the film as well. The movie won Best Foreign Film too, though it was also up for Best Picture, which is a notable feat for a foreign film.

So, this week, as we celebrate both life and love, I challenge you to step outside your box, the one that prohibits foreign, subtitled films, and treat yourself to this amazing story, Life is Beautiful.

(photos by

Friday, January 21, 2011

Weekend Tune Up

After the muddled, uncertain, stressful week I've had, this song brings great perspective, comfort and peace. Hope it meets you where you are and does the same. Happy Weekending!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

POV Wednesday – You Can Lead a Horse to Water, but…

The funny thing about perspective is that everyone has one.

And the problem with that is often times perspective wars with Truth, because there’s only one of those.

Some might say that statement in and of itself is a perspective. However, Truth, in its essence and definition, is absolute.

So, we require wisdom to decipher that which is our own perspective, perhaps only marginally influenced by Truth, and what is Truth itself. If we do not seek this wisdom, fights are imminent because we will inevitably butt heads with someone.

Shall we not, then, for the sake of keeping the peace, attempt to persuade others to our perspective when Truth is on the line?

Of course, we should. A person insisting they can handle the effects of harmful drugs or hold their breath underwater for an eternity or believe pulling a trigger would make a difference should be informed of the facts contradicting their perception.

Yes, you say, but those scenarios are based on scientific facts. Everyone knows meth destroys a person mentally and physically, holding your breath too long underwater results in drowning, and shooting an innocent does not make you a hero.

Well, apparently not everyone knows these things, because it happens all too often.

OK, then. Those are drastic examples. How about relationship perspectives? In the workplace, for example. Have you ever met someone set on being offended? Who, say, believes with all his heart the boss hates his guts. You know for a fact that isn’t so. What matters more, the truth of the matter or the perception of the individual? Both determine actions, reactions and consequences.

Sometimes, no matter how earnestly you warn people about a destructive path you perceive they tread, there’s no listening. You can hint and nudge, suggest and analogize. The more expressive of us can beg and plead, reason and threaten, but some people will barrel forward with reckless abandon because their perspective is set.

So what do we do?

What about spiritual matters? What do you do when Truth is ignored while self is satiated and glorified? How do you stand hearing for the ump-teenth time, “Don’t judge me” or “what about the sliver in your own eye” or “that’s your interpretation”?

It’s easy to get riled. When you have someone’s best interest at heart and they constantly rebuff your good intentions, strong emotions can spark.

I believe too many arguments start in the name of evangelism because while Truth is dispensed, it’s done so from one perspective. Zealots shy from considering others’ perspectives for fear of diluting Truth.

But I submit that Truth cannot be diluted. It can only be accepted or rejected.

Therefore, stating the Truth, or living the Truth, is all that is required of the evangelist. The acceptance/rejection choice is up to the evangelized.

No matter what we’re talking about – behavior, relationships, spiritual conditions, it is important to share perspective based on Truth, but also to let Truth do its intrinsic work for it is living and breathing and sharper than a double-edged sword.

It’s like that old saying – you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. The drinking will occur, but only when the horse gets thirsty enough.

That’s my POV. How do you see it?

(photo by

Monday, January 17, 2011

Movies You Might Have Missed Mondays

Keeping with the theme of life for Right to Life month, I want to remind you about a lovely movie released in 2006 that tells the story of William Wilberforce, England’s passionate abolitionist and humanitarian. The film is called Amazing Grace.

For being a faith-based, historical telling of a subject we hear a lot about from the silver screen, Amazing Grace gives you a lot of reasons not to click it into your Netflix queue.

But if you risk the time and brainpower, you’ll find a worthy surprise.

The character of Wilberforce is an inspiring one, the quintessence of a man put on this earth for a specific and profound purpose. Ioan Gruffodd, Mr. Fantastic from the Fantastic Four pictures, personifies him with an attractive charm and is surrounded by a talented and recognizable cast – not the least of which is Albert Finney in the role of John Newton who was Wilberforce’s friend, a priest, a former slave ship captain, and the author of the best known hymn in history, Amazing Grace.

Unlike other slave trade movies, this is not one that takes you to the bowels of a ship stuffed with human cargo. It’s related through the perspective of English politicians and activists who may or may not have seen the atrocities they were seeking to end as they tried to paint the ugly picture to people who had never seen it. Following Wilberforce’s resume of attempts to change stubborn minds, the movie combines a history lesson’s facts with the drama of the toll this quest put on his body, his mind, and his family.

This is one history movie that holds attention, is acted well, and has just the right tug on the heartstrings. It makes no apology as it states gruesome facts of the slave trade or while it highlights the inspiration that drove Wilberforce to persevere through a tough, exhausting fight to end such terrible, nationally-condoned practices.

Watching Amazing Grace gives the sense of triumph and hope, reminds us that social atrocities still exist but can be overcome by unwavering and conscientious people of action, and gives glory to God for His mercy, inspiration, strength, and deliverance.

And it supports the credo that “all men are created equal” and deserving of life.

Happy Monday, Dry Ground friends!

(photos by

Friday, January 14, 2011

Weekend Tune Up

A great "what if" song - whatever you encounter today, what if it's God saying "I love you"? Perspective! Just saying. :-)

Have a blessed weekend, Dry Ground friends!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

POV Wednesdays

POV – point of view – I’ve mentioned it before (here) as being an important component to get right when writing a novel.

But POV affects real life too, every day, as we interact, experience, understand, learn and react. Our point of view determines whether we laugh or cry, influences our decisions, and shapes how we treat other people. We can be right or wrong depending on our perspective. Perspective can veil or misrepresent the truth, or deepen our understanding of it.

POV is an important entity!

Every week about mid-way through, I find that evaluating my POV and making adjustments as necessary helps propel me through the rest of the week.

Another word for it is perspective.

That word seems to come up a lot in every day situations. The famous “is the glass half empty or half full” scenario didn’t become famous for nothing.

But it’s something that, I find, needs tweaked all the time. For the most part, you can’t just set it and forget it. So many variables alter perspective, such as emotions and knowledge and experience, that its delicate journey can be knocked off course with surprising ease.

Thus, POV Wednesdays. (Is the week half gone or half left? Haha.)

Anyway, I thought maybe throwing a perspective question out there once a week might be a healthy exercise.

The idea of this alit one evening as I listened to Joel Osteen, master of perspective IMO, as he challenged his congregation to consider the following statement: God does not do it to you, but for you.

Honestly, I don’t remember what context he used this in or what verse he was referring to as backup, because I was only half listening, while the other half desperately tried to write something in a novel sequel I haven’t had time to work on in forever. BUT that’s beside the point.

Point is, I think we’ve all been at the place in our lives where we’re raging at the sky (as if God is in the sky), shaking our fists and crying, “Why are You doing this to me?!?!!?”

Being the Baptist-trained girl that I am, the verse from Romans that immediately comes to mind is, “For all things work together for the good…” and I end my thought with “blah, blah, blah” because at that precise moment that I’m shaking my fist, I don’t feel like it’s true not to mention I don’t have a full grasp on what that really means.

Unemployment is for my good?

Sickness is for my good?

Betrayal, disappointment and heartbreak are for my good?

Whatever, God. Whatever You say. (Cross my arms, turn my back, pout my lip.)

But when I heard Joel Osteen put it in a simple sentence – God’s not doing this (whatever this is) to you, but for you – it resonates a little more, makes a bigger impact.

Sometimes things we’ve heard for years take on new life when restated and whittled down (or expounded on – which is why I like various translations of the Bible). That’s what happened with me with this particular sentence.

It’s perspective. If I can remember the for instead of the to, then I can be quicker to staunch a flow of pessimism and cling to trusting in our trustworthy God. I might even get to see how that thing that hurts me becomes a blessing.

How do you see it, Dry Ground friends?

Happy POV Wednesday!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Movies You Might Have Missed Mondays

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that January is Right to Life Month. Most often, we associate choosing life with the issue of unplanned pregnancy and abortion, as it should. But I’d like to push the boundaries a little with this week’s suggested film, Music Within.

It’s the story of Richard Pimentel, played by Ron Livingston (most famous for Office Space), and his quest to become a super hero.

Well, not exactly. But sort of.

Based on a true story, Music Within gives us a snapshot of what it used to be like to live in America with a physical disability. Richard is a Viet Nam vet who lost his hearing in a bombing during the war. Stateside, he encounters barriers pretty quickly when he attempts to enroll in college and is denied because of his deafness. He works hard and overcomes this barrier, but it left him with a bitter taste. He soon finds out, though, his experience pales in comparison to a new friend’s daily struggle.

Played expertly by Michael Sheen (The Queen, The Twilight Saga), Richard’s friend Art, also a student in the college Richard got in to, has severe cerebral palsy. He’s confined to a wheel chair, he shakes and jerks uncontrollably, he drools, he speaks only with great effort and patience.

They become friends because Richard can’t hear anyone speak… except for Art.

Through a series of events and over a course of nearly two decades, because of his relationship with Art and efforts to help disabled vets get good jobs, Richard influences the course of history through his involvement of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

It surprised me to find out the year that passed – 1990. Also surprised me to discover cities actually had “Ugly” laws, preventing people with severe physical disabilities and handicaps from appearing in public. Chicago was the last to repeal that law, as late as 1974!

Watching this movie may not be for everyone – not because of its subject, but because it’s rated R for language and adult situations – I mean, the main character is a war vet in the 70s. So, sensitive ones beware.

However, I still recommend it because the message is a stark eye-opener. It made me evaluate my compassion meter and question my definition of “quality of life.”

Do I see all human life as valuable, purposeful and important? Do I pass judgment too quickly on those who have to live life differently than I do? Do I question God for “cursing” individuals with certain disabilities without first considering the possibility that their quality of life soars over mine.

I like this movie for its clear, unadulterated message, but also for its humor, heart, soundtrack, and special appearances – mainly Hector Elizondo as the college professor and Leslie Nielsen! as one of Richard’s ear doctors.

The title Music Within is taken from a quote attributed to poet and scholar, Oliver Wendell Holmes, that says: Most of us go to our graves with music still inside us.

While this movie advocates that not only should people change how they think about disabled people (listen for their music), but disabled people should also alter their perspective of themselves (realize they have music to play), I challenge us all not to be that person who prevents music from flowing from anyone.

And in that way, we can all be super heros.

Have a great week, Dry Ground friends!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Weekend Tune Up

Diving back to the early years for this one - but I needed a reminder. If you do too, take a few minutes to listen to Twila Paris' God is in Control, and have a blessed weekend.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Who's In Charge?

It’s been quite the rollercoaster week, and it’s only Wednesday!

Like night and day, Monday clashed with Tuesday.

The first day of the week slammed me down with doubts, frustrations, irritations, even bad news. Or pending bad news, rather.

Thus, my attitude suffered. I felt critical, hopeless, agitated, restless, discontent.

Then the second day dawned, and with it, a brighter sunrise.

Nothing really changed. Maybe I was privy to a bit more information that eased my fears. But in all actuality, the situation had not changed. Still hasn’t. But for some reason, I dealt with it better, felt more positive, experienced a more hopeful outlook.

Here’s the thing. Had I been in charge of this universe, Monday would have ended differently. I had a quitter’s attitude. My imagination ran wild with scenarios that changed everything about my life in drastic proportions. Had I been calling the shots, I very likely would have made some rash decisions and mistakes.

But I had to ask myself who was in charge?

Me and my reckless emotions?

Or God?

Every time I wait long enough to find out what He’s up to, I remember how glad I am that He’s in charge. Which should teach me that when I don’t see… yet… trusting Him is still the best option.

No matter what tomorrow holds, or threatens to hold, trust that He’s in charge. Every time, you will be glad you did.

“Because I know Who holds the future, life is worth the living…”

Live by faith, not by sight, dear Dry Ground friends.

(photo by

Monday, January 3, 2011

Movies You Might Have Mondays

The film I picked for the first Movies You Might Have Monday of 2011 epitomizes, for me, the vision I have for the New Year.

While I understand you might think me strange (it probably wouldn’t be the first time) for choosing a movie directed by infamously eccentric Tim Burton in which the main character is on his deathbed, I hope you’ll give me a chance to explain and then give Big Fish a try.

The first reason I love Big Fish is that it is all about story telling.

Billy Cudrup plays Will Bloom, a young successful journalist (just the facts, please) who hasn’t been home for years, let alone spoken to his father, Ed Bloom, acted by the brilliant Albert Finney. But now that Ed is on his deathbed, Will feels compelled to go home to say goodbye and support his mother, beautiful Jessica Lange as Sandra Bloom. So Will and his wife, an early opportunity for audiences to appreciate Oscar winner Marion Cotillard, fly home from Paris to Alabama.

We, as the audience, soon discover the reason for the father/son estrangement is the fact that Ed is a storyteller, and every time he repeats a story from his adventurous life, Will rolls his eyes and dismisses them as ridiculous embellishments and down right lies – big fish stories. Instead of absorbing them as parts of his father unique character, Will sees the stories as brick upon brick building an impenetrable wall between them.

Will does not anticipate, however, that his wife has not heard these stories before, and therefore provides a new audience for Ed’s favorite past time. So as Ed tells Josephine of his adventures, and Will reluctantly listens in, we get to experience the colorful past of Edward Bloom.

In the flashbacks, Ewan McGregor plays young Ed, and Alison Lohman a young Sandra. Many other recognizable faces show up in these reminisces, every cameo adding to the fun outrages of Ed’s stories – Robert Guillaume, Helena Bonham Carter, Steve Buscemi, Danny DeVito, Deep Roy, even Miley Cyrus and that guy who plays Roy on The Office.

But these stories aren’t just stories. Each one has a lesson of sorts, giving them a fable quality. The main point, though, is the second reason I love this movie.

It’s all about relationships.

Questioning whether or not Ed’s stories are true takes a back seat to an intricate dance of meeting, interacting and bonding with people. It’s about kindnesses and compassion and understanding and loyalty and true friendship. In the midst of those friendships, a touching romance unfolds as Ed pursues and wins the love of his life. All combines to produce a legacy that Ed wants to pass on to his son.

This film is perhaps most, though, a love story between father and son. The end makes me tear up every time, when the two finally get on the same page.

I know folks out there who refuse to watch a Burton-directed film since his style tends to be wacky and weird. Although I love Edward Scissorhands, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, even Sweeny Todd, I can understand why the Burton Brand wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

But Big Fish is the most normal, if you can say such a thing, and though it has fairy tale qualities and takes exaggeration to its limits, the story is about real people. And thus, reveals the beauty of imaginative storytelling.

Sometimes looking back becomes the only way we learn to appreciate a blessing or a person or a situation, accompanied with regret for not realizing it sooner. Watching Big Fish gives us the gift to witness someone else’s deathbed chronicle and realize the potential for life now before it has passed us by.

Life can be exciting, blessed, magical and fun if I allow it, trust God with my adventure, and I’m thankful for each day to live to its fullest.

I hope you get a chance to watch Big Fish and I hope you live 2011 to its absolute heights.

God bless! And Happy New Year!

(photos by