Reflections from Private Bob

Here I am a few weeks after I entered the US Army in October 1968. That day in October, when I raised my hand and became a soldier, seems so long ago. Yet it seems like yesterday. I can feel the fear of entering military service knowing that my friends John and Joey had recently died in Vietnam. I remember being drafted and knowing that I did not want to fight in Vietnam. That trip to the recruiter was deeply driven by a desire to find a path that did not include the War in Vietnam. I signed up for an extra year to serve in the US Army Air Command working on missiles with nuclear capability.

I served stateside for three years at a missile firing range in New Mexico. During my military service I grew up a lot. I learned valuable life skills - LOL, like doing my own laundry. I developed technical and interpersonal skills that would last me a lifetime. I met my first wife Ellen. I got outside of my comfort level in a major way as I learned to live away from home and my family. In the end, I wonder what my life would have been like if I had not been drafted.

... reposted from November, 2014

Jackie | ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

I am not sure what I expected to learn when my wife Ann and I watched this movie a few nights ago. I thought that it would be somewhat of a bio-pic detailing the former First Lady's life before and after the White House. I was wrong about that.

The movie focuses on the aftermath of her husband's assassination. It was a moving depiction of the trauma of that event and how she navigated feelings of shock, rage and anger. It gave me a new appreciation for Jackie. Images of the president dying in her lap helped me understand how impossible the situation was for her.

I thought that Natalie portman did a good job in the title role. Yet the story itself overshadowed her acting. Watching this movie brought me back to that awful day in a high school in Brooklyn when I learned that President Kennedy was murdered.

I liked the movie and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★☆☆☆.

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the 007 meme

I have loved these stories since I consumed all of the Ian Fleming spy novels in high school. So I thought it appropriate to do a meme based on the movies that I (mostly) love so much. Answering with my favorite Bond:

car: BMW 750iL (with remote control drive) in Tomorrow Never Dies

gadget: Oddjob's bowler hat was great. 007 watches always had cool stuff.

location: Hard to beat Jamaica in Dr No and Golden Eye.

song: All Time High from Octopussy. Runner-up is Live and Let Die.

singer: Shirley Bassey for Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever.

villain: Gert Fröbe as Auric Goldfinger. Runner-up is Charles Gray as Blofeld.

henchman: Harold Sakata as Oddjob. Runner-up is Richard Kiel as Jaws.

movie: Goldfinger. Tomorrow Never Dies is a close second.

actor: Sean Connery. Pierce Brosnan is runner-up.

actress: Jill St John as Tiffany Case. Michelle Yeoh as Colonel Wai Lin is runner-up.

quote: Bond: Do you expect me to talk? Goldfinger: No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die!

What are your favorites? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook.

Blade Runner 2049 | ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆

If you loved the original Blade Runner flick. If you are a part of the Blade Runner cult. You might like this movie. If not, I suggest that you wait for it on video.

The movie is almost three hours long. I think that it could have been a pretty good two hour movie. It is filled with long stares accompanied by strange and loud sounds. It goes about two hours before Deckard (the iconic original Blade Runner played by Harrison Ford) appears in an almost cliché fashion.

The movie deserved it's R rating, yet I think that some of the imagery was borderline gratuitous in nature. Ryan Gosling was pretty good in the lead role. The storyline was pretty good with a twist towards the end. It was just too long.

I liked the original Blade Runner but thought this movie was too long, over-hyped and overrated. On a scale of ten, give it ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆.

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Hidden Figures | ★★★★★★★★★★

I am sure many of you have already seen this fantastic movie. Ann and I watched it last night on HBO. Oh my. I knew a lot about this story but had no clue how it would affect me. The heartbreaking images of racism, discrimination and bigotry in the 1960s were so troubling. Watching the impacts of the racist "separate but equal" ideology on beautiful Americans of color greatly moved me.

The movie is about three amazing African American women. It covers their groundbreaking work in the early days of NASA. The story is about faith, persistence, courage and character in the face of adversity and struggle.

Here are a few themes I loved about the movie:
  • Faith: I love the beautiful impact that faith had on these hidden figures;
  • Discrimination: these scenes were heartbreaking and deeply moving;
  • Patriotism: great images of African Americans cheering for the astronauts.
The story was not really about NASA but I really enjoyed reliving images from my youth when Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom and John Glenn risked their lives in space. I loved watching how the whole country came together.

The acting was superb. Taraji P Henson, in the lead role of Katherine Johnson, was superb in presenting a great image of beautiful genius. All three of the 'hidden figures' presented us with powerful images of grace.

Lastly, I hope that the story stays with me. I pray that it will continue to change me. That it will cause me to be thankful for the beautiful ways that people of color have overcome and become living testaments to Dr King's dream.

I greatly loved this movie and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★★★.

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Happy Labor Day

A beautiful ode to the joy of labor by Walt Whitman.

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat,
The deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench,
The hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

me is for meme

  1. Who are you named after? My uncle's first name is my middle name.
  2. Last time you cried? I regularly teared up seeing victims in Houston.
  3. Soda or Water? Water. I tend to refill sodas too much for my own good,
  4. What's your pizza? Italian sausage and mushroom.
  5. Do you still have your tonsils? Got them removed when I was about 5.
  6. Would you bungee jump? Not no but hell no!
  7. Did you go to college? Goofed around in community college and was drafted.
  8. Untie your shoes when taking them off? Usually.
  9. Roller coasters do you like them? No!
10. Favorite Ice cream? Pistachio.
11. Favorite things? Being with my wife Ann.
12. Shorts or Jeans? Shorts means the weather is warm!
13. What are you listening to right now? Instrumental Folk Radio on Sonos via Pandora.
14. Favorite Color? Blue.
15. Tattoos? I am too cheap for body art.
16. Color of hair? Blonde gave way to brown in '68 which gave way to gray in '90. #likehavinghair
17. Eye color? Blue.
18. Favorite thing to eat? Alaskan King Crab!
19. Scary or Happy endings? Neither. Thoughtful endings with a twist do it for me.
20. Android or iPhone? Android works so well with google fiber! And it is way cheaper.
21. Car? Our Toyota Sienna ramped van is great for getting Ann around town!
22. Favorite holiday? Easter marks the start of Spring, nice weather and new beginnings for me.
23. Beer or wine? Depends on the meal and my mood.
24. Night owl or mornings? Mornings. Yet I'm not as much of an early riser as I once was.
25. Fave day of the week? Mondays are good for retired guys like me. ツ

The Founder | ★★★★★★★★☆☆

Caught this interesting movie about McDonald's mega-franchiser Ray Kroc, wonderfully played by Michael Keaton, on Netflix a few days ago. I was fascinated by the quazi-historical perspective offered in the narrative. A few thoughts about it:
  • The story is about the breakdown of relationships in business and in marriage.
  • Ray's journey took a turn when he felt rejected and unappreciated.
  • The McDonald brothers revolutionized the restaurant business.
  • Ray took franchising to a level never seen before. Other chains followed his lead.
  • Fast food franchising is all about real estate. Not sure that I ever understood that.
  • Great leaders know how to treat their employees. Others rely on contracts.
I really liked the movie and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★☆☆.

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Dick Gregory, 1932-2017

Dick Gregory was an American civil rights activist, social critic, writer, entrepreneur, comedian, and actor. I remember watching him on TV. He passed away yesterday. Here are a few things that he said.
Love is man's natural endowment, but he doesn't know how to use it. He refuses to recognize the power of love because of his love of power

I'm not a comic. I'm a humorist.

It's cool to be healthy.

I never learned hate at home, or shame. I had to go to school for that.

Hell hath no fury like a liberal scorned.

Fear and God do not occupy the same space.

Riches do not delight us so much with their possession, as torment us with their loss.

The most difficult thing to get people to do is to accept the obvious.

Once I realized the value of making people laugh, I got very good at it. Fast.

To me, seeing a really great comedian is a bit like watching a musician or a poet.

Poor is a state of mind you never grow out of, but being broke is just a temporary condition.

When you have a good mother and no father, God kind of sits in. It's not enough, but it helps.
Please join me in asking God to comfort Mt Gregory's family and friends.

Collateral Beauty | ★★★★★★★★☆☆

I found this movie to be a thoughtful examination of the grieving process and how people mourn in different ways.  Howard, played by Will Smith, is a successful partner in an ad agency. His world is turned upside down and inside out when his young daughter dies.  The movie is about how Howard processes his pain.

I loved how real and raw his reactions are. How he processes his pain by writing letters to death, time and love. And how these three visit Howard and dialog with him about what is going on in his life. Here is his beautiful discussion with love:
Howard: "I saw you every day in her eyes, and I heard you in her voice when she laughed, and I felt you inside of me when she called me "Daddy." And you betrayed me! You broke my heart."

Love: "No. I'm in all of it. I'm the darkness and the light, I'm the sunshine and the storm. Yes, you're right, I was there in her laugh, but I'm also here now in your pain. I'm the reason for everything. I am the only "why." Don't try and live without me, Howard. Please don't."
There are several twists and turns in the movie which really made it interesting.
I genuinely liked this inspiring movie and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★☆☆.

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Blogging Revelation

Yesterday I finished my 97 day devotional series on the Book of Hebrews at my faith blog. I found it to be a great learning experience as the book has never been an easy read for me.

Today I stepped a bit deeper into uncomfortable waters by starting a series on the Book of Revelation. I am looking forward to this as I have not studied it much since bible college.

I invite you to join me (when you can) at as I daily share my thoughts about this last biblical book.

Blogroll Update

I plan to update my blogroll this week.

You can see the list by scrolling down on the left sidebar.

Let me know if you would like to stay on or be added to it.

Just leave your blog's title and URL in the comments section.

All I ask is that you are a regular reader and I am on your blogroll.

The Shack | ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

The book version of this movie was all the rage a few years ago. I was never interested in reading it. Yet I did enjoy watching the movie version with our small group from church. Here are a few themes from it with my comments.
  • God is good: I loved the look on Papa's face when asked about wrath. The message came through clearly that God is good when things are bad.
  • God loves us: The message was clear that in great tragedy God is walking with us in it and not causing bad things to happen to us.
  • Universalism: I felt that there was an 'all dogs go to heaven' theme in the movie. Even so, I liked the subtle message that hurt people hurt people.
I thought that the story was a bit contrived and told mainly to communicate a message. The acting was okay but not great. Ending was a bit simplistic.

Overall, I liked the movie and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★☆☆☆.

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Manchester by the Sea | ★★★★★★★★★★

Heard this was a sad movie. I really did not want to watch it. So glad I did. It was not sad. It was a beautiful reflection of life after great loss. It showed a beautiful reality of family life in the aftermath of crisis. And how it takes so long to come to grips with tragedy.

Casey Affleck won a Golden Globe Award for his role. He deserved it. He carried the movie playing an uncle who becomes the sole guardian of his nephew after his brother's death. The tension between what he wanted to do and what he knew he should do was beautifully written and acted. Lucas Hedges and Michelle Williams were great in supporting roles.

I loved Manchester by the Sea and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★★★

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