Monday, February 28, 2011

Movies You Might Have Missed Monday

Last night, the 83rd presentation of the Academy Awards aired from California. I’m sure if you cared, you caught at least some of it. If you don’t care, that’s understandable. Even some of the most extreme movie lovers I know can’t stand the politics and favoritism that often times leaks into this glitzy Hollywood evening.

For the third year in a row (which is weird), I’m in complete agreement with the Best Picture winner, The King’s Speech – a movie I’ve been raving about since seeing it several weeks ago. Truly, one of the best I’ve seen ever, let alone recently. (To read my review of The King’s Speech from Jan. 19th, click HERE.)

However, today on Movies You Might Have Missed Monday, I want to point out three films I think the Academy missed in failing to reward them. Movies that, if I were you, I’d be sure not to miss.

#1 – How To Train Your Dragon – Though nominated for best animation and also for best musical score, this fabulous DreamWorks film lost in both categories. Sure, Toy Story 3 won best animation, and I get that because it too is a great film. But if Dragon had been in any other year, without a Pixar film to overshadow it with name recognition and Disney to back it, Dragon would be a shoe-in. It’s about a young Viking who wants to impress his chief/father and show him he can be a real Viking, but his puny physical stature and scientific personality are exact opposite of what it takes. When he captures the most feared dragon of them all, the night fury, he has a chance to catch his father’s eye. There’s only one problem. He can’t bring himself to kill it. And so begins a loyal, as well as taboo, friendship that changes everything. This movie makes me want a pet dragon more than anything else in the world.

#2 - Despicable Me – Also an animation, this unique adventure wasn’t even nominated. Since when do they not have space for a total of four best animated feature nominees? I like this movie better every time I see it as I catch more and more of the clever layers of humor and irony. Gru is a villain, but he’s not a bad guy. He and the other world villains are in a contest to see who can be the best villain – basically steal the biggest world monument. Through a set of circumstances, Gru believes that he can win this contest if he employs the help of three little orphan girls. He doesn’t expect them to steal, and change, his heart.

#3 – Inception – Okay, so the two animations are personal preferences, as far as the Academy goes. But Inception is the most genius original story to come down the pike in a long, long time. It was written well, acted well, shot well – a complete, masterful package. While it was nominated for several awards, including Best Picture, its writer and director, Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight), was left off the Best Director nominee list altogether. Absolutely criminal, if you ask me. The movie is an intellectual heist movie involving dreams and ideas and beliefs and perceptions. Yes, you have to pay attention to keep up with all the levels and twists and philosophy of this world Nolan’s created, but it’s such a rewarding experience. A masterpiece of storytelling.

All three of these missed movies are on DVD/BluRay, so easily available for you to check out! If you’re in the neighborhood, come to our house for movie night. J

Happy Monday, Dry Ground friends!

(photos by

Friday, February 25, 2011

Weekend Tune Up

I’m looking forward to this weekend for two reasons.

First, Saturday is my birthday, and my Daniel and I have FUN planned. I thank my mother and father for being wonderful parents, and my Heavenly Father for giving me such an abundant and full life.

Second, the OSCARS are Sunday night! I’ve got favorites I’ll be rooting for, probably loudly and anxiously. Thank God I live in Mountain Time so I can watch it all without worrying about getting enough sleep on a work night. I’d watch it anyway, but I’m thankful nonetheless.

Anyway, this Weekend Tune Up highlights my pick for Best Picture – and everything else it is nominated for – The King’s Speech, the best movie I’ve seen in a long, long time. The soundtrack is done by a recent favorite, Alexandre Desplat, the composer of the beautiful Twilight Saga New Moon music.

This is just a short, uplifting, hopefully inspiring-you-to-see-the-movie clip from The King’s Speech soundtrack.

Enjoy, and have a blessed weekend!

(photo by

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

POV Wednesdays – The Zero Factor

The Grizzly bears at our zoo eat LOTS of fruits and vegetables. Pounds and pounds of it. But because, believe it or not, there is such a thing as a fat Grizzly, the keepers purposefully put the various sliced up fruits and vegetables in a container, then weigh the container of food on one of those little scales that look borrowed from a high school science class.

Anyone know what needs to be done FIRST, though, to get an accurate weight of food?

The weight of the container has to be accounted for. So, weigh the container first and subtract that from the total of container plus food, OR, in the fancy technological world we live in, set the empty container on the scale and “zero out.” There’s a handy button that, when pushed, makes the scale read zero even when the container is setting on it. Then, when the food goes in the container, the weight showing on the scale is the weight of the food only, the number needed in the first place.

Before such high-tech gadgets, weights were taken on balances. Set a container on one side of the balance, and something is needed to put on the other side to make the sides even again before weighing the desired material.

Therefore, the zero factor is the same thing as balance. Even Steven. And that ensures accuracy.

So, this only came to mind, out of the blue, when I was watching a TV show or the news or something, I don’t remember, and before thinking I said out loud, “I wouldn’t even watch that.” I meant that, though I’m a little more liberal in my viewing tastes than most conservatives (wishing to give most stories a chance), my conscience wouldn’t allow me to view whatever it was mentioned to spark the thought.

Like fireworks, two loud thoughts boomed in my mind at the same time. The first – the image of the scales. The other – a statement (I feel uttered by my Perfect Lover Himself as a gentle reminder) – “What makes you the standard?”

It was like I set up my scale to weigh my decisions against my conscience – my, my, my! Hello! This is the beginning of a slippery slope, the one America is racing down as quick as an Olympic bobsled run!

My scale should only be balanced by God’s Word. Period. On one side, the object of my decision (what to watch, what to say, what to or not to do) – on the other side – God’s Word. If I attempt to balance my scale with anything else, most of all with myself, I will not get it right. The read out will be wrong. I’ll be carrying weight I’m not meant to carry. I won’t be even Steven.

This might be a stretch, and perhaps I’m not explaining clearly the impressions that came to mind when I made such a prideful statement. I just know that nothing zeros out my sin except Jesus. Therefore, He must be my standard.

That’s how I see it anyway.

How do you see it?

(photos by

Monday, February 21, 2011

Movies You Might Have Missed Monday

Today, I offer my pick in honor of Black History Month.

It sports a heavy-hitting cast of classic notables including Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn and Sidney Poitier, who celebrated his 84th birthday yesterday!

The film is Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, released in 1967, a ground-breaker for its time in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

The story involves Tracy & Hepburn as the high-society parents of Joey, their young daughter who brings her fiancé home to meet them. Though priding themselves as being progressive thinkers, they are still taken aback to find that their future son-in-law is black. An interesting dramatic (and sometimes comedic) display balanced with serious political, social and moral discussion ensues.

Far from being boring or even politically correct, this movie brings to light multiple perspectives on not only the race issue but also relationships between couples as well as parents and adult children. And the great thing is the story progresses in an entertaining manner, so you don’t realize you’re watching a dissertation on social mores.

Sidney Poitier stands out in this film as he does in most of his roles (In the Heat of the Night and his Oscar-winning performance in Lilies of the Field – both top-notch). He’s so distinguished and classy, poised and confident.

Not that I have any credibility in saying so, but I believe he’s got to be one of the most influential actors in the history of film, opening doors for other minorities in a cut-throat and historically unkind business as well as inspiring generations of non-actors to reach lofty goals. And Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner summarizes that with its transparency, boldness and courage.

I challenge you to watch Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and consider all perspectives represented. If you’re like me, your compassion will expand exponentially, and you’ll be reminded that God values every person equally, no matter race or skin color.

“And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.’” (Rev. 5:9)

Happy Monday, Dry Ground friends!

(photos by

Friday, February 18, 2011

Weekend Tune Up

Watching/listening to this song produces the intended effect. Put on your smiles! It's the weekend!

Or go to THIS website.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

POV Wednesday – Beauty in the Eye of the… Perceiver

Valentine’s Day evening, after I’d taken out my contacts and washed my face and put my pjs on, my Daniel and I snuggled up on the couch to watch our usual Monday TV shows.

The thought crossed my mind that, even though I was done trying to be cute for the day (no makeup, frump pony tail, old sweats), Valentine’s Day wasn’t over - my Daniel still hugged and kissed on me. And I shook my head in wonder because I felt so grodie.

Far from trying to conjure an image or brag on my attentive, sweet husband, my point is that somehow, my Daniel finds me beautiful with or without all my attempts to pretty myself up.

It’s a perspective issue.

One I should apply to my relationship with the Perfect Lover.

As a Christian, I do a lot to pretty myself up, try to look cute to the Perfect Lover – read my Bible, go to church, watch my language, pray before I eat (even in public *gasp*) – It’s not that these things don’t please the Lord, because I believe that done with a sincere heart, they do please Him.

But His Word says that our righteous acts are like filthy rags.

In Revelation, describing the wedding supper of the Lamb (Jesus, the Perfect Lover), it says that the bride (that’s us) has made herself ready. How does a bride get ready for her wedding? For one, she puts on a beautiful dress (righteousness, in this analogy). Well, Revelation says that these linens, the dress, “were give to her.” By whom? By Him.

Jesus does not love me because of my efforts. He loves me with or without them. My value doesn’t depend on any beautification process I put myself through. It’s His unconditional, sacrificial love that makes me beautiful.

I’d live a more peaceful life if I remembered what beauty looks like in the eyes of the Great Perceiver.

Peace to you, my Dry Ground friends!

(photos by

Monday, February 14, 2011

ROMANTIC Movies You Might Have Missed Monday

Happy Valentine’s Day, Dry Ground friends!

So this week, I’m highlighting a movie I had to step out of my box to watch.

I’ll watch all kinds of movies, but I do have boundaries. For example, my stomach rolls just thinking of watching the Hallmark Channel. No offense – I know and love many people who are all but addicted to these fluffy, shallow, feel-good stories and I will admit that they aren’t all sickening. Usually, though, if I find myself unable to escape a viewing (and that has happened once or twice), I cringe at the gooey sweetness radiating off the screen and roll my eyes so many times I fear permanent damage.

But a little over a year ago, I got surprised… by a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie called The Magic of Ordinary Days.

I only watched it because it starred two actors I respect – Keri Russell who has appeared in some good flicks, my favorite being Waitress, and Skeet Ulrich who only shows up occasionally but when he does I always enjoy watching.

It didn’t take long for me to realize why Keri and Skeet would do this particular Hallmark movie – it’s such a great story!

Keri plays smart and beautiful Livy who finds herself, in the early 1940s, unwed and pregnant. Unable to remain as such in her higher society, “respectable” and “religious” family, she agrees to her father’s arrangement of a marriage to a simple but hardworking farmer, Ray, portrayed by Skeet. The story is about their awkward, difficult but ultimately tender and heartwarming relationship.

There’s so much I love about this movie, it’s almost too tough to put it into words. Livy holds tenaciously to her pride in the midst of such a humiliating situation but allows Ray’s unassuming and grace-filled gentleness to draw out her vulnerabilities, thus putting her in the perfect position to experience true love. There’s no whitewashing or excusing or ignoring when it comes to her past, but there’s also an abundance of mercy and kindness, forgiveness and redemption.

This love story brings to my mind images of the Perfect Lover, Jesus, and His unconditional love and offer of new life through His sacrifice.

The Magic of Ordinary Days is not preachy in the least. It’s beautiful and romantic without being cheesy or pat. It’s got substance and heart and depth.

So, if you’re in the mood for love on Valentine’s or any other day, throw The Magic of Ordinary Days into the Netflix queue or pick it up at the rental store. Hopefully, like me, you’ll be glad you did!

(photos by

Friday, February 11, 2011

Weekend Tune Up

Lately, I could characterize my job in two words: chaotic and uncertain. So when Pandora hooked me up with this song yesterday, I thuoght... aaaahhh, just what I needed! Hope you enjoy, and hope this song starts you off on a relaxing, blessed weekend.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

POV Wednesday – The Art of Perspective

Although I consider myself to possess an artistic mind, I am in no way an artist in the sense that I can hold an instrument in my hand, such as a pencil or a paintbrush, and use it to duplicate on paper or canvas an image that hovers in my mind’s eye.

I very much admire people who can do that.

The only time I remember remotely producing a recognizable image on paper was in an art class in middle school. That class was on perspective – a mathematical system for projecting the three-dimensional world onto a two-dimensional surface (according to

Basically, it means you can generate on paper a hallway with a floor, walls, and corners culminating with a doorway all with a ruler and a pencil.

I guess the combination of geometry and art made sense because I managed to draw the prescribed outcome.

Still, I loved the dichotomy of seeing a 3D image on a flat surface. I enjoyed the trick it played on my eyes – the optical illusion.

Like that drawing of an old woman… or a young woman… depending on how you look at it. Another good one is the two faces looking at each other… or a symmetrical vase.

It got me thinking.

A lot of times in life, say in the workplace, it’s all about how you look at it. You may see that picture and insist that it’s of a young woman. I may look at the same picture and insist it’s of an old woman. In this case, it is of both. If we blink a few times, take a step back, you might be able to see the old woman, and I the young.

If you’re butting heads with a co-worker (or a friend or spouse or family member), maybe blink a few times, take a step back, and try to see the other side of the coin, the black instead of the white, the other image. It’s possible that both perspectives are relevant and beneficial.

Stopping mid-quest toward proving your point to consider someone else’s perspective is difficult! Neither science nor art, the ability is born of awareness (like my first time hearing of perspective in art class) and practice. It is also a gift of the Holy Spirit as it produces fruit such as kindness, gentleness, love, self-control. Asking for this gift, the art of perspective, and the ability to use it will drench your life with peace.

At least, that’s how I see it.

How do you see it?

Monday, February 7, 2011

ROMANTIC Movies You Might Have Missed Monday

As the countdown to Valentine’s Day continues, I have another romantic comedy to share with you that you might not have seen, 1957’s Designing Woman.

The title itself did not inspire me to watch this the first time. The cast is what drew me – Gregory Peck and Lauren Bacall – two of the best actors of their time, which is saying a lot considering their peers.

Not only did their names draw me, but the concept of Gregory Peck starring in a romantic comedy intrigued me. Because when I think of Mr. Peck, I think most of distinguished, wise, subdued Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (another AH-mazing movie, fyi). Could he pull off a role nothing short of whimsical?

Um… yea. Like a pro!

Designing Woman is about New York sport’s writer Mike Hagen, on assignment in LA. While there, he meets Marilla Brown, a fellow New Yorker and fashion designer. After spending a few days together, they discover that they’ve fallen in love. So, before flying back to the east coast, Mike and Marilla get married.

As often happens with love at first sight and whirlwind romances, reality sets in as soon as the plane touches down. Combining two totally separate and established lives isn’t as easy as it seemed looking through rose-colored lenses. Two apartments, two jobs and job schedules, two sets of friends from two ends of the social spectrum.

All of their attempts are quite amusing, however the best twist is that Mike had been dating someone in New York, an actress named Lori Shannon. Mike has to tell her that he’s come home from California a married man. That scene takes the cake, makes me (literally) laugh out loud every time, and proves Gregory Peck’s wide range of talent. I wish I had a still (a single frame of film) of his facial expression during that scene – I’d frame it up, hang it on the wall, smile every time I looked at it.

Anyway, a comedy of errors as well as a brush with the mob put the newlyweds’ infant relationship through the ringer. The question is, will the initial spark of love that brought them together in the first place be enough to keep them together?

This is a light-hearted, funny popcorn flick giving us a rare opportunity to witness top-notch actors in roles outside their norm.

If you’re looking for something outside your norm, try Designing Woman. Hopefully, like me, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

(photos by

Friday, February 4, 2011

Weekend Tune Up

Thanks to #1 - my cousin, Heidi, for alerting me to the sale and #2 - my Daniel, for a sweet little anniversary gift (he proposed 17 years ago yesterday!), here's a song from Red's new album. Hope it makes you smile and starts your weekend off right! God bless!

Lyrics -

Slowly fading away
You're lost and so afraid
Where is the hope in a world so cold?
Looking for a distant light
Someone who can save a life
Living in fear that no one will hear your cries.

Come and save me now
I am with you
I will carry you through it all
I won't leave you
I will catch you
When you feel like letting go
'Cause you're not
You're not alone.

Your heart is full of broken dreams
Just a fading memory
And everything's gone
But the pain carries on
Lost in the rain again
When will it ever end?
It's hard to believe
It seems so out of reach.

But I
I am here
I am with you
I will carry you through it all
I won't leave you
I will catch you.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

POV Wednesday – “Just”

I was going to expound and postulate, but I’m pretty sure this picture speaks for itself.

Don’t let a teeny tiny little word like “just” skew your perspective and keep you from making your God-intended impact.

Hope your week is going well, Dry Ground friends!

(photo from