Archive | Entertainment

Obligatory Letterman Post: The time I almost got on the show…

In July of 2009, my wife and I were in New York City for a trip that was both business and pleasure. I had a meeting to attend in the city, and we came a few days early before my work began so that we could see the Big Apple together for our anniversary.

We got into town on a Thursday morning, and one of the first things I did was to ask the hotel concierge how to get David Letterman tickets. I’m not much of a late night TV guy anymore, but I cut my teeth as a faithful Letterman viewer back in the 80’s. Letterman was still New York to me, and I wanted to see him in person in the Ed Sullivan Theater. The concierge, however, insisted that getting tickets would be more trouble than it was worth and that I probably couldn’t find any even if I tried. So I dropped it. We had plenty to do without trying to crack that egg. Continue Reading →

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Top 10 things I love about the new Star Wars trailer

I don’t know about you, but the second teaser for the new Star Wars movie got me all verklempt. No kidding. Or maybe it was just something in my eye. Whatever it was, the appearance of Han Solo and Chewey was the coup de grâce.

J. J. Abrams is speaking the superfan’s love language. This is an absolutely brilliant preview. It conjures all the feelings of my childhood while pulling my interest forward into new storylines. It is everything you’d want out of a trailer. In fact, these first two trailers are already better than all three of the prequels. They have exorcised my Jar Jar Binks demons. The force is strong in Abrams.

I know I’m not the only one eagerly anticipating Episode VII. December 18 can’t get here soon enough. So while we wait, here are my top 10 favorite things about this new teaser trailer: Continue Reading →

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How has “The Breakfast Club” aged after 30 years?

John Hughes’ classic “The Breakfast Club” turned 30 this year. To put this in perspective, we are as far removed now from “The Breakfast Club” as the “The Breakfast Club” was from James Dean’s “Rebel Without a Cause” (let that one sink-in, GenXers).

Daniel Drezner asks in The Washington Post how “The Breakfast Club” has held up after three decades. Drezner says that he watched “Rebel Without a Cause” in 1985 and found it completely outdated and unrelatable as a teen-angst drama. He wondered if that’s how teens would view “The Breakfast Club” now. So he decided to watch “The Breakfast Club” with his 14-year old son to gauge whether the movie still communicates now as it did back then.

What happened? His son was genuinely engaged in the story and with the characters, and he watched right through to the end. But his son also thought much of it to be laugh-out-loud corny. Some of it has aged well, and some of it… not so much. You can read the rest of it here.

Over the years, my wife and I have re-watched some of the iconic films from our teen years—”The Breakfast Club” among them. What always strikes us is not so much how dated the movies are but how much we have changed since the time when we were originally engrossed by such films. The big drivers of so-called “teen angst” don’t seem so big 30 years on. Also, after you get some years under your belt, you find that the easy immorality and self-regard endemic to the whole genre doesn’t wear well in real life. You’ve seen too many friends and loved ones wrecked by those things to be enthralled by them like you were 30 years ago.

In short, as you grow up, so do your tastes. Yes, there are still some things to appreciate. But it is impossible to watch these films with the same eyes that you had 30 years previous. What once put stars in your eyes now often leaves a tear. And that is a good thing.

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A few thoughts about “American Sniper”

I saw American Sniper last night. Let me add my voice to the chorus of others saying that this is a great movie. When the credits began to roll at the end, every person in our theater sat in stunned, admiring silence. No one said a word. Eventually, we all began to file out with a lump in our throat and a full heart.

The movie was hard to watch. It was very violent but successful in evoking in some measure the real horrors of war. And maybe more than anything, it portrays how wicked Al Qaeda in Iraq really was. Somehow that fact seems to have been lost on many Americans ten years ago when popular support for the war waned. But there really was a “Butcher of Baghdad,” and he really did kill children with a power drill. And there really were torture chambers where unspeakable atrocities occurred. In other words, there really is good and evil in the world, and that fact comes out clearly in the movie. You end up loving Chris Kyle because he looked that evil in the face and charged toward it without flinching. He was an unabashed patriot. Continue Reading →

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Tooth & Nail: Do you know this record label?

Back in the 1990’s, contemporary Christian music (CCM) was at its zenith in terms of sales. Some of it was good, but a good bit of it was kind of not. It just wasn’t the kind of music that connected to younger listeners, especially college students.

Enter an off-the-beaten path independent record label called Tooth & Nail. With a shoe-string budget, Brandon Ebel founded the company in 1993 and began signing Christian bands with a more modern sound. It was the kind of sound that the kids were listening to in those days. It was certainly the music that I was listening to back then—bands like MXPX (formerly known as Magnified Plaid), Sometime Sunday, Starflyer 59, just to name a few. Continue Reading →

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My Brief Thoughts about the “Unbroken” Movie

To understand my thoughts about the new movie Unbroken, you have to know a little bit about my expectations. They were low. Why? Because I loved the book and could not imagine a movie coming close to recreating Laura Hillenbrand’s wonderful narrative. For that reason, I didn’t expect much. So the film didn’t need to be great to exceed my expectations, and it did exceed them without being great. Still, I think you should see it. Here’s why.

First of all, let me just say that I am grateful that Angelina Jolie got a fire in her belly about making this movie. The story has been languishing in Hollywood for decades, and somehow she got it done. Zamperini’s story is so big and so important, and yet no one has been able to pull it off until now. No doubt, her relationship with Zamperini had something to do with this. All things considered, she did a fine job with the portion of the story that she decided to tell. But the difficulty is that it really is only a portion of the story. Hillenbrand’s narrative of Louie’s life divides into three major phases: pre-crash, crash-imprisonment, post-war. Jolie focuses almost entirely on the middle phase. In Hillenbrand’s book, the resolution occurs in the post-war phase. Because Jolie doesn’t include that, she has to create her own mini-resolution out of Zamperini’s release from prison. But anyone who knows the story knows that Zamperini’s war didn’t end there. I am grateful that Jolie at least told some of the story, but there really is something big missing at the end.

Continue Reading →

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Trailer for the new Star Wars movie

The trailer for the new Star Wars movie was released yesterday, and it already has over 13 million views on YouTube. The new series will be directed by J. J. Abrams. The conclusion of the matter: The Abrams trailer is already better than all three of the prequel movies. No kidding. As Darren Franich recently described it,

This is a trailer that features X-Wings, Stormtroopers, Tatooine, the Millennium Falcon, a red lightsaber, and a red-brown desert speeder—it’s like an Episode IV mixtape, “Now That’s What I Call A New Hope!”

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If you didn’t get the SNL joke, this post is for you.


SNL’s opening sketch has been making the rounds over the weekend (see above). It lampoons the President’s executive order granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. It occurred to me that there are probably countless viewers who don’t get the joke because they are too young to remember the source material for this skit. For those of you who fall in that category, this post is for you. Continue Reading →

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My thoughts on “Interstellar”: It asks all the right questions but gives all the wrong answers.

I saw the movie Interstellar a couple nights ago, and I’m still thinking about it now. It’s a mind-bending meditation on the meaning of life set within an epic intergalactic journey to save humanity. Superficially, it’s a sci-fi flick. But most fundamentally, it’s about metaphysics and theology.

Here’s the plot in a nutshell. At some point in the not too distant future, the world becomes increasingly uninhabitable to humans. The food supply is afflicted by blight, and the world becomes a giant dustbowl. America no longer has a military and has ceased to lead the world in innovation and technology. In this dystopian future, the decline of American greatness seals the fate of the planet. It is only a matter of time before human beings on earth will all die of asphyxiation and lung disease. Continue Reading →

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