Man of Steel is the Superman reboot from Warner Brothers, directed by Zach Snyder of 300 and Watchmen. It's the second reboot of the Superman franchise in seven years. I'm not sure if that bodes well for the character, but I'm game to try. I love Superman, and I'm partial to Christopher Reeve. But I also have an open mind and I just plain love movies based on comics so I'm up for it.
In anticipation of the release on June 14, I have a giveaway! I have two Man of Steel keychains to offer. They are pretty sweet and will be great for a kiddo.
Here's what you need to do:
ON THE COMMENTS OF THIS BLOG, tell me the name of the film considered to be the first modern blockbuster. The first two correct answers will get the keychains.
Please check back to see if you've won so that I can get an address. Good luck!
Click HERE for the trailer. Enjoy!
We got Buddy an iPod Touch for Christmas. Princess has had one for almost a year (she bought it with her own money) and we haven't really had to put many restrictions on hers. She has a set "bedtime" for it, she can't use it during home school studies, etc. She has a few games/apps and some music, but she mainly uses it to take pictures and to text her friends.
Buddy is all about the games. ALL about the games. We loaded a few on the iPod when we gave it to him, but he asked last week for a couple more. I helped him get online with my Apple ID and he purchased one then he downloaded a couple of free ones. No biggie. He's been happily playing ever since.
And he's been listening to some music. And playing a few more games.
Then I got the receipts from the iTunes/App Store.
Seems I forgot to log out. Buddy's been downloading songs and clicking on game apps for three days. He honestly thought that 1) he was downloading songs from his other iPod and 2) the games he was clicking on were free. Luckily he didn't go on a huge shopping spree. He clicked on a few things and then enjoyed them for a while. Then went back. The grand total of all three receipts (shopping sprees) was less than $35, but that would have taken all of his saved allowance and then some. He looked completely surprised and then horrified when I told him. But he did not whine or cry. He first said that he would just delete all of the games, but I told him that it didn't work that way. Even if he deleted them, we'd still have to pay for them. So he sucked it up and asked how much. He took responsibility and was willing to pay.
I told him that I would contact Apple and let them know what happened. Since I caught it so early (within three days) and we haven't had an instance like this before, I thought it was worth a shot. If not, we'd work something out. After all, I was the one who forgot to log out.
Let me tell you that Apple has a fantastic customer service department. My requests were handled quickly and completely. AND one of the customer service reps went out of her way to outline how to activate more parental controls and warnings on the iPod. So when I do go in and buy another app or game for him, there will be several warnings that pop up both on the iPod and on my e-mail. I love it! (So does Buddy!)
I love that, in this case, Apple has such a personal and flexible policy. I'm sure they get this kind of stuff all the time. It's got to be time consuming for them, but it's SO nice as a parent to be able to have this measure of grace as we learn the ins and outs of technology with our kids. I guess this is the 21st century version of calling an 800 number and signing up for the Columbia House Record Club while your mom was vacuuming down the hall! (Not that I ever did that.)
As an aside, I'm assuming that anyone reading this knows that I am a Christian. I believe that Jesus was God's Son who came to Earth as a man to lead a perfect life so that He could atone for our sins. I believe that. I believe the Bible. I believe in prayer. However, I do NOT believe that God is a genie waiting to grant all of my requests. I also suffer from depression. So I think that I'm a little qualified to write on this subject.
I think that that photo card is the top of what could be a slippery slope. Yes, I do believe that Jesus can heal depression. He's capable of doing anything. WILL He heal MY depression. Maybe. But I have to accept the fact that He might not. Or He might not right away. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12: 7b-10 "Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." God chose NOT to heal Paul. And He had a reason for it. We don't know what Paul's "thorn" was, but we know it was significant enough that he wanted it gone. </span>
God never promised that our road would be easy. He never promised that we wouldn't get sick or hurt or that we wouldn't go through hard times. One of my favorite verses is John 16:33. Jesus spends a lot of time in Chapter 16 encouraging His disciples. Then in verse 33 He says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” See the first "promise" in there? "In this world you will have trouble." The second promise is that He (Jesus) has overcome the world. He never says that we won't suffer or that we won't feel the effects of the evil in this world. But He does tell us to take heart because He has triumphed, and we're on His team.
Now, let's look at the passage quoted on the photo card:
1 Peter 5:6-7 (NIV) Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
In this chapter, Peter is talking to Christians who are scattered across quite a few provinces of Asia Minor. He's trying to encourage them and remind them of their calling as followers of Christ. Verses 1-4 talks to older men about leading willingly and humbly serving by example. Verse 5 exhorts younger men to follow their elders with humility. Then verses 6-7 talks about how it naturally follows that you should humble yourself before God because He wants the best for you. Humbling yourself means being open to teaching, it means acknowledging that we don't know it all and that we need help. When Peter goes on to say "Cast all your anxiety on Him", he's continuing that thought - the idea of submitting to His authority and His leading and His teaching - casting your cares and worries about life at the feet of God and asking for His leading and teaching to get you through them. He is NOT saying, "Cast your anxiety disorder and clinical depression on Him and He will heal you because He loves you." And it's very dangerous to imply that it is.
God can certainly heal my depression. I do not doubt that for a minute. But maybe, just maybe He won't. Maybe the only thing He will do is help me deal with it. Maybe He will bring others into my life to help me deal with it. Maybe He will use modern medicine to keep it at bay. He will answer my prayers concerning my depression, but He may not answer them the way I want Him to. He may say, "No."
I have been very, very depressed. I have been in a dark pit feeling alone and forgotten. And I have been told, while in that pit, that I should "spend more time in the Bible". I've been asked, "Have you prayed about it? Have you TRULY given it over to God?" It's hard to articulate how this made me feel. I had done all of that - prayed, read, prayed some more, lather, rinse, repeat. But I had felt nothing. Was God turning His back on me? Yes, someone's mother's cousin's son's girlfriend's step brother was healed instantly when he prayed 1 Peter 5:7, why wasn't I? Did I need to DO anything else? Did I need to turn around three times? Click my heels together? Did I need to write down all my anxieties on a piece of paper and burn it as a figurative gesture? What did I need to do? I was willing to do all of the steps, JUST MAKE IT GO AWAY!!!! At some point, when none of the spiritual things were working, I was able to pull my way through the fog to try an "earthly" solution. I went to my doctor. It kind of felt like I had abandoned my faith. But at that point, I felt that God was being silent and not helping me so I should just try to help myself. In reality and in hindsight, I believe that it really was God leading me to the way He was going to help me.
I am blessed that I have a Christian physician and a Christian counselor. They have both encouraged me to not only read the Bible and pray, but to GET HELP FROM QUALIFIED PROFESSIONALS. They both reminded me that God created people who are called to help others. God created physicians and counselors and researchers and medications. And that's how He chooses to heal some people. Or, I should say, HELP some people.
I'm not healed. I just have it under control. It could be that at some point in the future I can go off of my medication and be fine. I've tried to go off of it three times and have wound up back on it. I'm perfectly fine with taking one small pill a day to be able to function. Were I diabetic, I would have no problem taking insulin. There's really no difference in my mind. Would I tell a diabetic to forgo their insulin injections and pray more or read their Bible more instead? I don't think anyone would.
So please, well meaning Facebook photo card creators, please think before you create and post another one of those potentially hurtful cards. If you must post a photo card about depression, post a number for a depression hotline or a depression help website.
Better yet, if you must post something asking for a re-post, post this (and yes, I did make it my status update for a day):
Put this as your status if you know or are related to someone killed on Alderaan when it was obliterated by the Death Star. My wish is that people will understand that the Empire is a band of murdering scum. The Rebel Alliance wants to bring peace to the galaxy, but the Galactic Empire continues to kill innocent civilians. 93% won't copy/paste this. Will YOU make this your status for at least one hour?
I guess it's natural for me to think about my birth during my birth month. I just turned 45. Yes, I'm now halfway through my forties. I'm
staring down the barrel of 50. Somehow 45 has been harder than 30 and 40 combined. (Don't do the math there because it doesn't add up.) Soyeah, I have been reflective.
Things were so much different 45 years ago. If we knew then what we know now, my birthday would have either been on January 6 OR my college education would have been paid for through a malpractice settlement. It is truly a miracle that my mom and I survived our birth ordeal. I have heard the story over and over. I even remember the first time I heard it. We were at our lake cabin and somehow we got on the subject one night during a thunderstorm. Dad told the whole story. It was the first time I ever saw him cry
My mom's water broke on a Friday morning while she was at the grocery store. Woo hoo. Dream come true! So Mom, being Mom, finished her shopping, checked out and then went home to spend the rest of the day playing Scrabble with Dad and timing her
Okay Moms - think about that. Now they tell you if your water breaks, you need to go to the hospital. You MUST deliver within 24 hours of your water breaking to prevent infection. Mom, on the other hand, didn't even go to the hospital until about 1:00 a.m. on Saturday.
We were living in South Carolina at the time. It can get cold and snowy in January in South Carolina. As a matter of fact, there was a snowstorm underway. (I found this really cool account of it from the North Carolina perspective. I love the internet.) Once Mom and Dad got to the hospital, they (now) surmise that the doctor didn't feel like making the drive in because of the weather, so his instructions were to give Mom something to slow the contractions. So they did. I don't know if it was this action or Mom's own body, but after that she didn't dilate any more. However, she did continue to bleed and leak amniotic fluid. (If there are any men reading this, I just lost a significant portion of them.) Sometime Sunday or Monday they decided to try to kick-start the dilation process with more drugs. They didn't work
It wasn't until Tuesday - you read that right TUESDAY - that they finally decided to take me by c-section. Now think about that on so many levels. Mom's water broke on FRIDAY. They let her go until TUESDAY before taking the baby. Also, this was during a time when the husband was not allowed in the labor room with the wife. Mom was alone. Dad was in the waiting roomwatching father after father be called to see their new offspring. Chew on that for a while
By the time the powers that be decided on the c-section, mom was so exhausted that she couldn't sign the release papers. She couldn't hold a pen. The reality was that they had waited so long that both of our lives were in serious danger. They told my dad that it was highly likely that only one of us would survive. They asked him, in the event that a choice needed to be made, which life would he like them to save. Of course he chose my mom. And I have never let him forget that. (My first car was a Camaro.) Then, when they wheeled Mom out on the gurney to go to the OR, they brought Dad out into the hall to SAY GOOD-BYE TO HER. (As you can imagine, it was this point in the story that Dad gets choked up.) Then they took her away and he was left to wait. Again. For a long time.
Finally, the afternoon of the 9th, they came and got him and took him to see me. I'm sure his first glimpse of me was a shock, too. Think about it - I had been fighting to get out for four days. Dad said that my head was like an angelfish - skinny when viewed head-on and fat when viewed from the side. He's told me that he kept saying over and over, "She's so beautiful! She's so ugly!" My hospital picture does tell some of the story. One eye is swollen almost shut and my head is . . . just . . . weird. (Dad told me that when he sent this photo to his mother she cried for a couple of days because she thought that I had Down's Syndrome.)
I look pretty ticked off. I probably was. No one had done a darned thing to get me outta there for WAAAAY too long. I'm not a patient
person. Even today.
So they showed my angelfish mug to my dad and he fell in love. Rightly so. I mean, even though I look very judgemental, I was still adorable. But then Dad asked about his wife. To a person, everyone he asked said, "The doctor will be down in a minute to talk to you." Given the events of the day, he concluded that Mom had died and they were waiting on the doctor to give him the news. He spent the next two hours thinking that he was a widower with a newborn. Needless to say, all the doctor had to tell him was that Mom
was fine and was resting. But still the two hours of anguish took its toll. One evening when I was about nine years old we were watching a made for TV movie about some sort of disease of the week. The lead actor asked a nurse about his wife's test results and she answered, "The doctor will be in to talk to you shortly." Dad gasped and had to leave the room.
Back\ then (that really makes me sound too old), if a baby was delivered by c-section, the hospital stay was one week. Dad was not allowed to touch me while we were in the hospital. I was a week old before he got to hold me. Insult to injury, I say.
Mom, on the other hand, bounced back well. She was back to her former weight in no time. But that's only because her doctor restricted her pregnancy weight gain to TEN POUNDS! I weighed six pounds. The placenta weighs about a pound or so (I just lost the remaining male readers), plus there's the added blood volume, amniotic fluid, and don't get me started on maternal breast tissue! All told, I think my mom lost weight when she was pregnant. How I made it into this world as a healthy baby is really a miracle.
I've lived with this story for close to 40 years. It's a tough story to be a part of. My mom almost died bringing me into the world. If it had taken place just 100 years earlier, we both would have died. But wedidn't. We BOTH lived. For me, there has to be a really good reason that we both lived. Not only lived, but thrived. There were no lasting (physical) effects. I thrived and Mom healed. Mom and Dad even went on to have another kid! That's saying something! (Of course, with my little brother, she just chose a due date and then made the surgery appointment. No labor required.) For most of my life I have lived with a sense of importance - that God spared me for some grand reason. It's only been within the past 13 years or so that I realized that it might not be a huge, earth-shattering or humanity-saving reason.
My two children are alive because I lived. That's reason enough for me
WARNING! CONTAINS SPOILERS UNDER THE CUT!!!!!!!
I love Tarantino. He's a wonderful storyteller. Yes, he is ultra-violent. But I think that Hubby hit the nail on the head when he said that Tarantino is perpetually 10 years old when it comes to action and violence - the more the better. Thank goodness he stops just short of fart and burp jokes! But in terms of blood shed, bullets shot and explosions, yes, he's a 10 year old boy. In my opinion, the world needs more 10 year old boys if they write and direct this well.
This is easily Tarantino's most disturbing film. The story is pretty well sketched out in the trailer: Dr. Schultz, a bounty hunter, wants
Django to help him find the Brittle brothers and in return Schultz will give Django his freedom and take him to find his wife. No surprises there. But, as in all good road movies, the journey has twists and turns that test the characters (and the audience) to their limits and beyond. There were quite a few times when I consciously thought to myself, "I will never be able to sit through this again." I can see how people walked out. It was not because of the liberal use of the "N" word, and it was not the very VERY liberal use of fake blood (which caused giggles in the audiend on several occasions). It's the fact that what he depicts on screen actually went on somewhere in the South during the slavery years. In other (most) Tarantino movies, the violence is a direct result of the choices of the characters. If Mrs. Mia Wallace had not chosen to snort the heroin, she would not have had a needle shoved in her heart. If Mr. Orange had not chosen to go undercover, he would not have been shot. In this movie, the recipients of the most horrific violence have no choice - they are slaves, seen as property to be used and abused as the owner sees fit. That was hard to stomach. Very hard.
Let's just pause here for a moment and soak that in. People actually did things like that to other people. Calvin Candie is a fictional character, but his actions are based on fact. Tarantino does not sugar coat that in any way. He brings it all out in its ugliness and forces us to take a look: every lash, every punch, every horrifying torture inflicted on these human beings. Human beings. Humans. People. Brutal doesn't even begin to cover it. I don't know how the actors did it.
So let's move on. (breath)
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I am one of the very few people on the planet who have not seen "Les Mis" (as the die-hards call it). It's not that I haven't wanted to. It's just been a game of swing and miss. The few times I've been to NYC or London in my life, I missed it for some reason or another. When the touring company has come to town, I've either been otherwise occupied or broke. Or both. I haven't listened to any cast recordings, either. I hardly ever listen to a Broadway soundtrack without having seen the musical. I just believe that stage musicals need to be experienced for the first time in a theatre. (The exception to that was when I bought the Wicked soundtrack. But that was after seeing Idina Menzel kill it on the Tony Awards show. I had to have that song.) All songs must be in context and with the appropriate visuals. So I went into this screening with my only exposure to the songs being Susan Boyle (I Dreamed a Dream) and George Costanza (Master of the House). This is where I am coming from in this review - I cannot make comparisons to the stage version because I have not seen it. Perhaps I'm lucky that way?
Last night I couldn't put into words what I felt about the film. Some people (most?) are going to love it. It has the music, the pathos, the grime (holy cow, those teeth!) and THAT song. A lot of people, like me, are going to come away thinking, "That's what the fuss was all about?" The music and lyrics were very good. The score bordered on epic, but didn't quite make it. Something was just missing. By the time I got home, I had it. It lacked heart. It was well done. Very well done. The costumes were wonderful, the sets and production design were great. But . . . the emotion was surface. It didn't go deep, take hold and squeeze. I wanted to be blown away. I wasn't.
I respect Tom Hooper's decision to record the actors singing live during a take. I like the rawness of it. If their voice faltered, if they gasped, if their emotion got the best of them and they whispered a line, it was all there. It was true. But I think that decision may have hurt his other directing choices. A lot of the songs were done in one or two long takes - I'm sure that was because you can't do take after take after take if you are really singing. The long takes worked on a couple of the songs, but they got tedious on others. And there were WAY too many close-ups while singing. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. This production has survived on a proscenium stage for over 30 years with no close ups. Pull back already.
I think that Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe were both miscast. Hugh Jackman is a song and dance man. He is not a stand there and sing man. He has a really good voice. You want a Jean Valjean with a stellar voice that will keep you in your chair at attention for two and a half hours. I love Hugh Jackman. LOVE him. He does not have that voice.
Russell Crowe is a talented actor. Don't cast him in a role where he needs to sing. Yes, I know he has a band and he sings in the band. Different kind of singing. Different kind of performing. On stage with a guitar slung around your neck and a microphone in your face, you can get away with singing through your nose. You can NOT in a production such as this. I swear to you that several times during his songs I winced. I HATE nasal singing with a passion. Don't get me started. Put aside his singing, and he still is miscast. He had one expression through the whole movie - a stone face.* Yes, Javert is very cold and focused, but he is a very complex man. Valjean is slowly driving him insane. We need to see it. And we need to see the turmoil and, finally, the resignation as he approaches the wall over the aquaduct. That should be a powerful moment. It wasn't.
The supporting cast is actually quite wonderful. Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter are, dare I say in this bleak story, delightful. Samantha Barks as Eponine (she's played the role in London) was heartbreaking. Her voice is sweet and lovely. And darned if she doesn't have the smallest waist I've ever seen! Eddie Redmayne and Amanda Seyfried were good as Marius and the older Cosette. They were sweet little star-crossed lovers who have a cute moment in a garden.** Personally, I thought that Aaron Tveit (Enjolras) had the better voice and the better presence. I was actually sad when Enjolras died because I wouldn't get to see him on screen any more.*** The casting of Colm Wilkinson (the original stage Jean Valjean) was a nice touch.
So far, hif you've noticed, I've left out Anne Hathaway. That is because she is far and away the best thing about this movie. Her brief time on screen is worth paying the price of admisson. SHE has heart. And her song, I Dreamed a Dream, is the only song that worked on one take. Just put the camera on Anne, twenty pounds underweight from her tuberculosis, hair sawed off by a knife, blood pooling in her mouth where her tooth used to be, and let the woman sing. Ms. Hathaway, here's your Oscar.
So, overall my experience watching Les Mis for the first time was just so-so. But it hasn't turned me off of Les Mis. On the contrary, now I really want to see it on stage because I think that's where it belongs.
* That expression actually could have been pure terror at having to sing live on camera. I took that into account. Yet another reason he was miscast.
** Too cute, if you ask me. Butterflies? Really? And for goodness sake, PULL BACK! I don't need to see Marius' nose pores.
*** Not because his character was a young man who passionately stood up for what he believed and was willing to die for it. Again, a result of the whole thing just being so surface.
This is my first review as a member of the press. I got press access because of my blog. Woot! That was a really cool experience that I hope to repeat! We (my date was stina_leicht - Hubby stayed home to shuttle Buddy to and from basketball) got to sit in a special reserved section. I felt so . . . cool. Hee hee! The security was pretty tight. They searched our bags coming into the
theatre (I thought they were searching for guns, Stina thought they were searching for recording equipment - Stina was right) and then they said that there were people stationed in the theater with NIGHT VISION GLASSES and that if we brought out our phones or any recording devices, we'd be escorted out and not allowed back in. Night vision glasses people. They were pretty serious about us not recording this film.
We finally did it! We were able to convince Dad that we needed a dog!! We met sweet Ruby at a pet adoption booth just before school started. We were not looking for a dog, but she was looking for us. We welcomed Ruby into our home on Labor Day. She has been nothing but a blessing. Our cats have not enjoyed her, but are gradually warming up to her. Speaking of the kitties, we will have had them for two years this Christmas! Time flies!
Princess has had a big year. She turned 12 this April and loves to hang out with her friends, play volleyball, swim, and has a passion for interior design. She is active in her church youth group at FEFC. She still attends Veritas Academy and her favorite subject is English. She loves her “babies”, meaning Calvin, Marie, and Ruby.
Buddy has had a busy year, too. He turned 9 in June, and has had a hard time juggling football, basketball, Scouts, homework, and video gaming. He loves Minecraft, and his favorite thing to do is play with his Airsoft guns and jumping on his neighbor’s trampoline. He is extremely smart and that shows in his grades.
The highlight of our year was our trip to Yellowstone. We drove through Colorado, stopping in Manitou Springs and Estes Park and then on to Wyoming. We made the trip with Uncle Lance and his family and we had so much fun! We had snowball fights (in June!), went on many, many hikes, saw a grizzly bear and a black bear and just really enjoyed ourselves. Here are some photos from our trip.
Mom is still teaching at Veritas Academy and Dad is still owner/operator of Oxford Learning in Austin. Dad has joined a basketball league and plays ball every Saturday. Mom is becoming more involved in the fine arts ministry of our church. She ended the year by appearing in our church's Christmas production.
We hope that this edition of Porch Talk finds you happy and well. We are so blessed to have so many wonderful family and friends in our lives. We pray that this new year blesses you beyond your imagination. Please let us know how you are doing!
SCALLOPED POTATOES AND HAM
4 large baking potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch round slices
1 can cream of chicken soup (careful - not all are gluten free)
1 can water
1 ham steak, cubed
3 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
3-4 cups broccoli
salt and pepper to taste
Dump everything into the crock pot. Cook on low for 8 hours.
Buddy suggested adding bacon to it. That sounds wonderful! I think I might add some next time.
I used fresh broccoli, but I'm sure that frozen would be fine.
The recipe called for only 2 cups of cheese, but I'm upping it to 3. It wasn't cheesy enough for me.
What other modifications can you think of?
The summer has been alternately busy and relaxing. But now it's almost over. And the issues with which we ended the school year (which I have chosen not to share just yet) are starting to rear their ugly heads.
I need to blog. I've had time to blog. But when I sit down, my fingers don't move. I don't really know why. I have an idea, but I'm not sure. That's a blog in itself. Which I may or may not write.
I've been pretty chipper all summer. It's been nice having a somewhat open schedule. To choose with whom I will socialize. I haven't had any dips into depression or anxiety until last week. When I looked at the calendar and saw school approaching.
I'll try for a post later today or tomorrow. Until then. I'm here. I'm around. I promise!