THIS IS WHO WE ARE

This is what we do for the joy of the King,
For His peaceable Kingdom,
For a world in despair.
And this is why we bring any hope we can give,
Any bread from the table,
Any touch of His hand.
This is what we do.
This is where we go.
This is why we sing.
This is how we live.
This is who we are.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Weiner Poopie Revisited

I posted this last year when Haley and Lexi were so sick.  Thank God, they're doing great this February.  But since our ECONOMY is so sick this year, I think it's worth revisiting this amazingly funny video. I laugh out loud EVERY time I watch it.  I hope you enjoy it--again!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Valentine Baker

Saturday afternoon Haley and Lyn whipped together some delicious chocolate cupcakes with pink and white frosting. The joy, of course, was in the process. Here's the proud bakery chef! In the video (below) you can get a "taste" of the process. Looks like they had fun. (Lexi was upstairs taking her afternoon nap.  Next year, she'll probably be in the thick of the baking project!)




video

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Our Little Valentine - Piano Prodigy??

We had the privilege of having Emily spend the night with us last night. Jennifer and Brian were going to have a Valentine's Dinner out with a couple of close friends last night.  They don't get many opportunities to get out without Emily, so we were happy to "take her off their hands." Kristi and her girls came over for dinner (assorted goodies from our favorite neighborhood Italian restaurant, Basilicos) and some good "cousin time."  Haley and I worked on her Legos Star Wars battleship for a while.

This morning, Lyn got some great footage of Emily playing the piano in our living room.  I'm attaching it here...when she's a famous pianist we'll have this as a reminder of the "early days."  It may be boring to some of you, but I love watching it--big surprise!  :)

video

Thursday, February 12, 2009

HIKING--A New Passion??

Today was a great day.  My friend Duane Weiss and I met at the church at 8:30, and headed up the 605 freeway toward the San Gabriel mountains.  We drove to Sierra Madre and up the mountain to take one of the trails at Chantry Flat.  We were so close to civilization, but might as well have been on a deserted island.  It was wonderful!


This is part of the beautiful mountain range
known as the San Gabriel Mountains.
I felt like I was back in the Smokies!

I'm standing by the stream that makes
its way down from high in the mountains.
We crossed the stream about 10 different
times as we followed the switchback trail. 
(I only stepped into the water once when I
slid off a slippery rock.)

A beautiful view by the parking lot where
we began the tour.  It was SUCH a gorgeous
day to go on a mountain hike!

Even though it's technically winter,
there were some beautiful flowers and 
blooming trees announcing that
spring was on the way.

Looking down at the stream from
one of the high points of the trail.

We were TOTALLY cut off from communication
today.  Absolutely no cell reception.  There was 
no electricity up the mountain, even though
there were little "settlements" of cabins that
people live in.  (They haul up supplies
on mules!)  There were these periodic emergency
phone shacks that you could make 911-type calls
to the outside world.  I would definitely NOT
have wanted to have a heart attack today!

Here's Duane checking out the instructions about
how to activate/use the emergency phone.

Even though we were in a lot of shade
on the trail, it could have been REALLY
shady if the trees had their summer foilage.

Another great view.

This was looking straight down.  One
misstep would have the hiker dropping
like a rock for about 150 feet.

Here's Duane on the trail.

As we came toward the end of our 6.5 mile hike,
we were able to look down at the parking
lot where Duane's truck (the little white
speck in the distance) was parked.

IT WAS A GREAT DAY!  LOOKING FORWARD
TO DOING IT AGAIN!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Monday, February 9, 2009

Movie #5 - SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE

Well, now I know what all the hype is about.

Lyn and I saw SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE this afternoon.  Seeing it brought back so many memories of being in India in 2003.  I could almost smell curry (and other stuff!) as I watched the story unfold.

It was a fascinating plot, pieced together like a child's pop-bead neckace. It was brilliantly based upon the protagonist's coincidentally correct answers to questions on India's version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" The story was brilliantly directed by Danny Boyle, who also directed the edgy 1996 TRAINSPOTTING.  

I loved Boyle's attention to little details and the skill he applied to building tension in his storytelling.  Lyn actually gasped at the sound of a coke bottle opening!  (The way it was set up, you felt like someone was pulling a murderous knife from a scabbard.) 

More than anything else, SM is a love story.  The beautiful actors portraying the "fated" lovers are Dev Patel (Jamal Malik) and Freida Pinto (Latika).  Although they didn't really occupy the screen together very much, when they did it was really enchanting.  Back in the day, they used to call that "chemistry."

The movie is full of grit and grime, photographed in a way that is achingly beautiful.  The musical score by A.R. Rahman is simultaneously haunting and exciting. The children are angelic (although barefoot and smudged). The action is riveting.  The violence is visceral.  The romance is heartbreaking.  The ending is everything you want a movie to be, even though it's wildly manipulated.

So which film is going to win?  Who knows.  My personal preference would probably be THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, but SLUMDOG could easily take home the gold.  All five of this year's nominees are worthy contendors, each having its own list of strengths.  

Oscar night is going to be VERY interesting!

Movie #4 - MILK

Lyn and I finished up the "Top Five" movies this afternoon by watching MILK and SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE.  It was a rainy day, so sitting in a theatre was a great way to stay dry!

MILK was basically a biographical "social action" film.  It was one of those movies that was destined to be made because of the significance of the issue of gay rights to contemporary culture.  The film treated the circumstances that led to and constituted the political career of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person elected to a major political office in the U.S.  

Since most of the events are based upon historical record (and presumably upon a tape-recorded autobiography by Milk himself), there is little that needs to be said about the story line. One can check Wikipedia to find out most of the details. 

I felt like Sean Penn gave a very convincing portrayal of San Francisco City Supervisor Milk.  I never really knew much about the man himself, outside the great scandal of his being one of the victims of a high-profile double murder at San Francisco's City Hall. He and San Francisco's mayor George Moscone were both gunned down by disgruntled Supervisor Dan White (played by Josh Brolin). It was a senseless death which resulted in Milk's becoming an icon of the gay movement in America.

While the movie would not have been my personal choice for best picture, I did find it to be very well produced and acted.  Especially interesting was the inclusion of footage from actual news coverage of the events related to his career and death.  It was good to see Tom Brokaw and Walter Cronkite in their younger years.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Movie #3 - THE READER


In the jargon of dramatic arts, a tragedy is simply defined as, "a plot in which the protagonist, because of some inherent flaw in his/her character dies."  (Not all tragedies require physical death, of course, but it's more the rule than the exception.  Just think of Romeo and Juliet and its modern equivalent West Side Story.)  

I would definitely consider The Reader to be a tragedy.  In fact, I think it could be classified as a double tragedy.  It certainly reveals how an "inherent flaw" and secrecy can spiral out of control and affect many people, thus multiplying the tragedy.

Lyn and I went to the movie knowing very little about what to expect. (Actually, Lyn was more informed about the content than I was. ) I truly knew nothing about it, except that it was a love story of some sort taking place in Nazi Germany.

I certainly wasn't expecting scene after scene of nude lovemaking. After the film, I commented to Lyn that the costume designer didn't have much responsibility during the first hour of the movie, if you know what I mean!  In fact, it might have been appropriate for them to have given God partial credit for costume design, because Kate Winslet and David Kross were in their birthday suits a good portion of that hour!  (By the way, the very young-looking Kross was born July 4, 1990, but definitely looked like the 15-year old he portrayed. Winslet, was born in 1975.)

One may ask if all that bedroom business was necessary to the story, or were the screenwriter and director just pushing the envelope to see how far they could go sexually in mainstream cinema?  As it was happening, I certainly asked that question. But as the story develops, you begin to realize how important it was to establish the emotional and psychological hold this older woman had on the boy for the rest of his life.  That doesn't make it "right" or "moral," of course.  But it certainly makes it understandable, and that is the point of it.

Perhaps the best "gift" of the film is the opportunity to hear snippets of great classic literature being read aloud.  It inspires you to go blow the dust off some of the old books in your local library--the ones that haven't been checked out by anyone for years.  Or maybe pick up some of the 99-cent books on the sales table at Barnes & Noble.  It was neat to hear words so artfully strung together by some of the world's most creative minds. They were as important to the film as the musical score. (For instance, I didn't realize Chekhov wrote things other than stage plays. I'd never heard of his brilliance as a short-story writer, and certainly never heard of "The Woman And Her Little Dog.")

Kate Winslet was really amazing in this film. Although you never really "liked" her character, Hanna Schmitz, you certainly grew into feeling compassion for her.  Ralph Fiennes played the "grown up" Michael Berg.  Although his part was brief, I thought he was wonderful.  If his part were a little longer, he might have gotten the nod for best supporting actor.  Since the young David Kross is a German actor, we may or may not see him in future American films, but he is truly a fine artist.  

If you see the film, you should constantly ask yourself, "Just who IS the reader?" You'll find yourself vacillating between answers--even after the film is over.  

A word of caution.  If you embarrass easily, don't go with your mom. Or your kids.  Or your minister. Or your small group. Or your Sunday School class.  (However, if you're thinking "What Would Jesus Do?" regarding whether or not to see the film, I honestly think He would go.  Not that He'd need to, of course. He deals with these stories in real life all the time!  But I still think He'd go.) 

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Movie #2 - Frost/Nixon


Tonight Lyn and I went to our second "Oscar Viewing."  We and the other EIGHT people in the theatre were treated to a very well-produced, well-directed, and well-acted drama-mentary. Frank Langella was a brilliant Richard Nixon, and managed to bring a real humanness to our ill-fated (i.e. "scumbag") president.  Michael Sheen's portrayal of entertainer-turned-journalist David Frost was very good, although I found myself focusing on his hairstyle and SERIOUSLY toothy smile that he flashed continuously.

Somehow or other, I missed the actual interview back in 1977, but seeing the film really took me back. Specifically, it took me back to the living room of 84-year-old Lucile Jenkins, the dear neighbor who became a surrogate grandmother to Lyn and me in our first year of marriage.  I remember spending about an hour (sometimes two) with her every afternoon during the Watergate Hearings in 1974. (The Watergate break-ins occurred in the wee hours of our wedding night, June 16/17, 1972!)  Combining the scandal of the break-in coverup and the escalation of the Vietnam War, it was a really weird time to be an American.  While today's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are full of their own tragedies and horrors, they are practically a romp in the park compared to the atrocities of Vietnam and Cambodia.  All war is hellish; Vietnam was spawned in the darkest pits of Hell!

But I digress.  The film was a great looking glass into the follow-up of those incendiary days.  It also gave fascinating insight to the limited (but effective) media technologies of the late 70s.

Was it Oscar worthy?  Not so much, in my opinion.  Langella was mesmerizing in his acting, so he certainly deserved his nomination for Best Actor.  Since Nixon himself was so stiff and one-dimensional, playing him well made Langella come across that way a bit.  The character didn't offer him much opportunity for developing the nuances one likes to see onscreen.  The final interview scene, however, was the real bread and butter of Langella's performance--and maybe the whole film. 

On a scale of 10, I'd give FROST/NIXON a strong 8.



Memory Lane


I was looking at some of the pictures on my office computer during lunch.  I came across a few that I thought I'd post.  Maybe they'll bring a chuckle or a sigh, depending on the viewer.

I've officially been blogging a year now.  (Feb 1 was my anniversary!)

The top picture is of Jennifer and Brian, taken near the date they became engaged.

These three pictures are of Kristi and her
buds at Central Christian in Vegas.
Her dear friend Kathy is standing to her left
in the onstage shots.




I know Bruce looks very spiritual in the top
picture.  The truth is . . .



Sorry about the randomness of these pics.  For whatever reason, I felt "led" to post them.  

Apologies to Bruce . . . but I couldn't resist these shots.  

Monday, February 2, 2009

Move Over Mozart?

An amazing little kid.