mid-year one-line movie reviews

A few thoughts about some of the movies I have been watching this year ...

A Monster Calls | ★★★★★★★★☆☆.
    •   beautiful story of a boy coping with his mother's terminal illness

American Made | ★★★★★★★★☆☆.
    •   a very good story about a pilot caught up in the Iran Contra scandal

Amistad | ★★★★★★★★★★.
    •   an amazing movie that contrasts the cruelty and the compassion of human beings

Atomic Blonde | ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆.
    •   way overrated and pretty forgetable

Baby Driver | ★★★★★★★★☆☆.
    •   a surprisingly good action flick with a soul

Battle of the Sexes | ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆.
    •   more about Billie Jean's lesbian awakening than tennis

Band Aid | ★★★★★★★★☆☆.
    •   I liked the way that the characters found a way to heal their marriage

Dunkirk | ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆.
    •   an interesting story that moved way to slow for me

Farenheit 451 | ★★★★★★★★☆☆.
    •   surprisingly good futuristic tale about public ignorance and government control

Ghost in the Shell | ★★★★★★★☆☆☆.
    •   okay sci-fi flick

The Girl on a Train | ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆.
    •   I really expected more but liked it okay.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 | ★★★★★★★☆☆☆.
    •   enjoyable super hero flick if you enjoy such things

Ibiza | ★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆.
    •   I am being generous in giving this Netflix movie one star

Justice League | ★★★★★★★☆☆☆.
    •   enjoyable super hero movie

Kingsman: The Golden Circle | ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆.
    •   bad sequel to the original which was pretty good

Logan | ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆.
    •   pitiful ending the the x-men series

Salt | ★★★★★★★★☆☆.
    •   great action flick with good twists and turns

Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi | ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆.
    •   disappointing but not as bad as many reviewers thought it to be

Wanted | ★★★★★★★★☆☆.
    •   great action flick with good twists and turns

War for the Planet of the Apes | ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆.
    •   disappointing third installment of the apes franchise

Feel free to weigh in on these reviews and let me know what you think..

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the t/log driverless logging truck

A Swedish startup has unveiled an all-electric, driverless logging truck.
The t-log has a range of about 120 miles on a charge
and can travel about 50 mph fully loaded.

nationalism vs patriotism

Sometimes people thank me for my military service. That last word. Service. Is what I think patriotism is all about.

There are many ways to serve our country. The military is one way. Voting is certainly another way. Helping a homeless shelter or a food pantry is another way to serve our community.

From the very beginning patriots have been serving our country by putting the welfare of others before their own. This past week we celebrated independence and honored the sacrifices of patriots who served in the fight for freedom.

So be a patriot today. Find a way to serve your community. In doing so you will serve your country and show your patriotism. And remember that there is a difference between nationalism and patriotism. One is about cheering and the waving of flags. The other is about serving and helping our neighbors.

Rabbi Kushner on Life

I used a quote from Rabbi Harold Kusher's excellent book today in my devotion titled 'the power of pain'. Though you might enjoy reading some other quotes from books by the rabbi.

“One of the basic needs of every human being is the need to be loved, to have our wishes and feelings taken seriously, to be validated as people who matter.”

“I'm not perfect, ... But i'm enough”

“When facing a dilemma, choose the more morally demanding alternative.”

“Forgiveness is a favor we do for ourselves, not a favor we do to the other party.”

“Pain is the price we pay for being alive. Dead cells—our hair, our fingernails—can’t feel pain; they cannot feel anything.”

“The purpose in life is not to win. The purpose in life is to grow and to share.”

“Good people will do good things, lots of them, because they are good people.
They will do bad things because they are human.”

“One man alone can't defeat the forces of evil, but many good people coming together can.”

“God is like a mirror. The mirror never changes, but everybody who looks at it sees something different.”

“If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul”

“God is the light shining in the midst of darkness, not to deny that there is darkness in the world but to reassure us that we do not have to be afraid of the darkness because darkness will always yield to light.”

faith in timing

The sentiment in this image challenges me at a deep level. I think that we all feel that we are captains of our destiny and in control of our lives. Yet life often does not happen according to our plans and timing. Hear what I think about some of the things that folks have said about this idea of timing ...

“Life is all about timing... the unreachable becomes reachable, the unavailable become available, the unattainable... attainable. Have the patience, wait it out It's all about timing.” (Stacey Charter)

I struggle with the idea that things will happen if we just have patience because sometimes patience has nothing to do with the things we want. Sometimes we wait to simply discern God's will. Sometimes waiting is about inner change.

“Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it's all over.” (Gloria Naylor)

I love this perspective on timing. With children especially it is so hard to consider God's timing in the development of their character. Trusting God in this area can be so difficult. We all want to save our kids and our friends from pain.

“You cannot afford to wait for perfect conditions. Goal setting is often a matter of balancing timing against available resources. Opportunities are easily lost while waiting for perfect conditions.” (Gary Ryan Blair)

It is funny how we can use the idea of timing to advance the cause of procrastination.

“Hitting is timing. Pitching is upsetting timing.” (Warren Spahn)

This reminds me that great timing for one can be bad timing for another. Sensing the speed and arc of the proverbial pitch is what life is sometimes all about. And we cannot hit the homer if we do not take a swing.

“The timing of death, like the ending of a story, gives a changed meaning to what preceded it.”
(Mary Catherine Bateson)

My 43 year old niece died in October 2011. It reminded me that my wife Ellen also died when she was 43. Sometimes the timing of death makes absolutely no sense. Faith in God's timing is tested most in these times.

... I first published this in April 2012.

Desmond Tutu on what it means to be Human

Desmond Mpilo Tutu is a South African religious leader, theologian and Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Here are a few things he has said about being human.

All of our humanity is dependent upon recognizing the humanity in others.

If you want peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.

Without forgiveness, there's no future.

Be nice to whites, they need you to rediscover their humanity.

My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.

We inhabit a universe that is characterized by diversity.

A person is a person because he recognizes others as persons.

We may be surprised at the people we find in heaven. God has a soft spot for sinners. His standards are quite low.

Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.

a spring meme

My obligatory seasonal meme with a tip-o-the-hat to my friend Ollie.

  • Favorite smell - bacon, of course
  • First job - YMCA camp counselor
  • Current job - VP of Human Resources, Retirement KC
  • Dream job - I no longer dream about employment.
  • Astrological - Taurus, you now I am bullish. ツ
  • Favorite Pizza- Chicago Deep Dish … joking … NYC pizza of course!
  • Favorite foot attire- Crocs that I use for slippers.
  • Roller Coasters - Yuk!
  • Favorite candy - Chunky with M&M Peanuts a close second.
  • Favorite ice cream - Pistachio
  • Pet Peeve - Folks who say "the bible says" based on their interpretation.
  • What are you listening to right now - the sound of silence
  • Color of your vehicle -tan
  • Color of eyes - blue
  • Favorite holiday - every day is a holiday when you are retired
  • Night owl, morning or day person - morning
  • Favorite day of week - Monday
  • Tattoos - No but if I did it would be Lady Liberty
  • Like to cook? As long as a frying pan or grill is involved.
  • Beer or wine or neither? Depends on the meal.
  • Can you drive a manual transmission? Sure but ramped vans are all automatic.
  • Favorite color? Blue
  • Do you like vegetables? Depends
  • Do you wear glasses? Sometimes
  • Favorite season - Spring

Share how you would answer in the comments or on your blog.

It's fun to learn odd little things about people.

please do not #prayerbomb my friends

I loved reading this message from my friend Letiah on Facebook. She is a member of the clergy with the Church of the Nazarene. Letiah uses crutches to get around.
Letiah @ Young Clergy Network
My first time here. I was prayer-bombed today because I'm crippled. I did not fight it. I chose to endure the spiritual abuse because I knew it would make him leave faster. I was right. Prayer & go. Didn't even take the time to get to know me at all.

I'm surrounded by Christians who see me as a project right now. I just came to visit the new local coffee shop in my neighborhood. Perhaps if I was viewed as a human the quickie prayer might have focused on something else. I am not angry. This has happened too often in my life for anger to take up space about this. I am just naming the ignorance and ableism that is obviously present in our world and its systems.

Sadly, this is continued evidence that this narrative is widely lived into in the church. Why do people with disabilities widely refuse to attend church? Why do we have issues with our bodies and being? I would suggest because we don't like feeling like projects.

I would also suggest that many of us have accepted and even like the way our disabled bodies bear the image of God in our world. We are NOT here on earth to provide a source of inspiration or to be fixed. Our humanity has been blessed since the very beginning.

We are very good....crutches... and all.

Rant over.

BTW. The iced chocolate Chai is delicious and I'm still crippled. Just in case you were wondering.
Being in a wheelchair and disabled, my wife Ann has had similar experiences of being prayer-bombed because of her disability. I think that the problem with #prayerbombing is a confluence of bad theology and bad manners. I have often said that folks wanting to #prayerbomb Ann should be asking her to pray for them.

Like Letiah, Ann responds with beautiful grace to #prayerbombers. Hats off to Letiah and Ann for the grace and strength they display to us every single day.

So please try not to #prayerbomb my friends. Instead, ask them to pray for you.

Weightless Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking passed away today at the age of 76. I share this 2007 post to remember him.

I'm taking a few moments this morning, the day after Stephen's weightless ride, to share a few of his quotes:
It was amazing, I could have gone on and on. (about his weightless experience)

God not only plays dice, He also sometimes throws the dice where they cannot be seen.

I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.

The whole history of science has been the gradual realization that events do not happen in an arbitrary manner, but that they reflect a certain underlying order, which may or may not be divinely inspired.

To confine our attention to terrestrial matters would be to limit the human spirit.

When one's expectations are reduced to zero, one really appreciates everything one does have.

It matters if you just don't give up.
Stephen has suffered for many many years from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease). This flight was the first time in 40 years that Stephen moved freely beyond his wheelchair.


Thought I would challenge my self a bit in February by posting 26 devotions in 28 days on words in the bible. The first word of the day is zeal. Click here for more.

Tripadvisor Readers likes Me

  Readership Badge
    46,000+ Readers

Just got another email note from Tripadvisor that said:
Bob, 46,836 readers have read your reviews –impressive! As a leading contributor, your advice has really made its mark in our travel community. You've also earned a Readership badge with TripCollective. Congrats.
I do not review as many restaurants as I used to but feel free to check my reviews out here.

concept-i car

Toyota's Concept-i Car on display at the Detroit Auto Show [more]

Get Out | ★★★★★★★★☆☆

I did not think that I would like this movie because it was labelled a horror flick. I think the tag was wrong - it is more like something that you would have seen on the Twilight Zone. Ordinary story turned really weird. Normal people become really creepy.

I thought that the acting was pretty good but the acting did not make this one good - the plot is everything. The setup has a 'guess who's coming to dinner' vibe. You get the impression that it is all about racism. And it is. Only not what you think.

I enjoyed the twists and the turns. I could not figure this one out. It kept me engaged all the way through. The editing seemed to be spot on and the casting was good.

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

Catch my other mini-reviews by selecting the Movies link in the menu bar above.

Fall Flicks

Here are a few one liners about the flicks I have (re)watched this Fall but have not reviewed.
  • Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆
    Not a great Superman or Batman movie. Wonder Woman showed up though.
  • Florence Foster Jenkins ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
    Meryl Streep acting like she cannot sing.
  • Going in Style ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆
    Fun movie about three old-timers who are cheated out of their pensions and rob a bank.
  • The Great Wall ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆
    Matt Damon fighting reptilian monsters to protect the world says it all.
  • Jack Reacher: Never Go Back ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
    If you liked the first one, you will probably enjoy this one too.
  • John Wick: Chapter 2 ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
    If you liked the first one, you will probably not enjoy this one.
  • Keeping Up With the Joneses ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
    Fun movie about when spies move into the neighborhood.
  • La La Land ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆
    A movie that was simply too full of itself. Major disappointment.
  • Logan ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
    A swearing, bloody and disappointing end to the X-Men Origins and Wolverine series
  • Miss Sloane ★★★★★★★★☆☆
    Jessica Chastain excels in this flick about the dark side of lobbying in DC.
  • A Monster Calls ★★★★★★★★★☆
    A beautiful story about a young boy coping with his single mother's terminal illness.
  • Moonlight ★★★★★★★★★☆
    A great flick about growing up gay in an African American community.
  • Sister Act ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
    I love watching this old movie about how God works in and through a nightclub singer.
  • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
    Tin Fey plays a journalist recounting her wartime coverage in Afghanistan.
  • Why Him? ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
    Story about how your daughter's boyfriend might be better than you think. A bit racy.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆
    How Professor Xavier went bald and other insignificant X-Men triva.
Have you seen many of these? Let me know what you thought about them.

Catch my other mini-reviews by selecting the Movies link in the menu bar above.