Friday, December 23, 2011

This Relationship Corner: Your Landmark Traditions

There are many vital ingredients that make up a good relationship, and today I'm focusing on traditions. This isn't about having a traditional relationship and adhering to traditional values, though feel free if that's what you want. No, I'm talking about the traditions that the two of you create for big, landmark occasions, including holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations, traditions with the kids, and even your traditions for handling bad news.

Every long-term couple develops habits and patterns, and it's important to take a look at the most important habits and patterns and make them a regular part of your relationship. While sometimes you'll just let the tradition happen, it's very important to actively nurture and develop your them so they make your relationship better.

Six Couples Who Didn’t Kill Their Show

Sexual tension is the bread and butter of many dramas and sitcoms. Week after week, the two characters trade barbs and tease the audience with “will they or won’t they” situations in which they come so close to getting together but never quite take the leap.

The classic example of this show is Moonlighting, starring  Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd. Much of the series’ appeal was the tension between the two leads, and the show was never more popular then when they were bickering.

Six Sequels Better than the Original

I spent two columns railing against sequels that weren’t just bad, I try to pretend like they never happened. I'm sure that any of you who watched these movies would love to remove them from your memories, if not the canon entirely.

What really irritates me about bad sequels is that it’s entirely possible to craft a great sequel. A good sequel isn’t just more of the same and hoping it works like the first time. It’s being able to continue the story in a direction that’s credible, deeper, and worth investigating. The best universes take the world established in the original and give us something more, something new, and at their best, they give us a better movie than the original.

The Ten Best Human Performances in a Muppet Movie

I don’t know about you, but I was very excited to see the Muppets back on the big screen. In fact, you can see how excited I was by reading my review of The Muppets here. This was a great movie and worth your time and attention.

It was very nice reuniting with our old friends Kermit, Fozzie, Rowlf, Gonzo, and Miss Piggy. However, when it comes to Muppet movies, it’s more than just the Muppets themselves.

Jason Segel, Amy Adams, and Chris Cooper will join a long and proud history of actors who shared a screen with the Muppets. While some actors in Muppet projects just saw it as a paycheck, and barely disguised their disdain for working with them, other starts understood what these movies were about.

Eight Games That Made You Want to Smash the Controller

Some games are works of wonder and beauty, and playing them reaffirms our humanity. When life is hard and stressful, those games make us forget our worries and allow us to relax, giving us a rejuvenating boost that allows us to face another day.

These are not those games. These games make our urge to kill rise just a little bit each time until we prove critics right about video games causing violence by hunting down the level designer and throttling him. Instead, though, we have to stifle those murderous urges, especially since we’re more likely to take them out on our poor controller.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Three Best and Worst Live-Action 3D Movies

I think we can all agree that 3D is now officially a thing. It comes and goes every decade or so and is usually a passing gimmick, but this time it seems to be here for the duration. For now.

When it comes to animated movies, the 3D is usually pretty good, at least from a visual standpoint. However, live action is a whole different animal (probably a lemur) and it’s a lot more hit and miss. And when it misses, you’re sitting in the theater wearing silly glasses wondering whether paying almost double for tickets was really worth it.

My focus is on the 3D itself, as that’s the point of seeing one of these films. I’m there for the spectacle, as are many of you. Thus, this one time I’m going to give other factors a pass.

Great Skulls in Entertainment

I love Halloween, and every time the tail end of October comes around, it means several things: The Great Pumpkin will air, stores are already putting up their Christmas decorations, and you’re going to see more skulls.

As a species, humans are obsessed with skulls. And why not? They’re very cool and scary. We are both fascinated and repelled by our mortality, and you never see a skull unless someone has died. To gaze upon a skull is to see death, which is why Death is often characterized by a skull.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

More Sequels I Pretend Don’t Exist

After my last sequel article, I received a lot of feedback on what was left off the list. (The feedback wasn’t on this site. It was on a site in Canada. You wouldn’t know it.) The observations were fair; there are plenty more bad sequels that aren’t just mediocre follow-ups we tolerate, but movies that ruin the franchise.

You'd think that movie-makers would know why we loved the movie the first time and give us more of what we want. You'd be wrong, and a lot of these sequels jettisoned what we liked and replaced it with truly awful dreck.

It's also possible that this was supposed to be the script of another movie entirely and they wound up taking that script and making it the sequel. Or, the studio just didn't care about the integrity of the franchise and just saw dollar signs, figuring that the general public would pay to see an awful sequel.

Sadly, that last one has proven itself true again and again, which is why we can't have nice things.

The Most Well-Written Video Games of the 90′s

I started playing video games in the good old days of the NES. And after I performed the usual ritual voodoo to get the cart to work (you had to blow on it, tap it three times, and sacrifice a squirrel) I was usually treated to writing that consisted of “Thank You, Mario, but our Princess is in another castle” and “A winner is you!”

However, as the 90’s became a reality, and not just the setting for post apocalyptic movies, the writing for video games took a great quantum leap forward. We now had interesting characters, fantastic plots, and a desire to see how the story ended.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Best and Worst Cartoons for Adults

If you grew up in the 80′s or the first part of the 90′s, you know that Saturday mornings were a sacred time. Before Saved by the Bell ruined it for everyone, Saturdays were a time for cartoons. It was a great time to be a child, and it cemented my lifelong love of cartoons.

Fortunately, I’m not alone, and in fact, I’m part of a huge demographic of adults who like watching cartoons. However, not all attempts to satisfy said demographic have been successful. Today I’m going to explore the many cartoons made for us grown-ups.

I’ll first discuss the horrible abominations that prove the devil walks among us. Then, because I like to end on a happy note, I’ll talk about the cartoons that make the case for a kind and loving God.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

This Relationship Corner: Where to Spend the Holidays

The Holiday season is now upon us, and whether you're celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Festivus, Boxing Day, New Years Eve, or any of the multitude of holidays in December, you and your significant other will have one huge issue: where do you go to spend the holidays?

Remember, when you enter into a relationship, it's with more than one person. Both of you also get each other's families. Most of the year, visiting your families isn't a terribly stressful proposition. You go when you can, and if you are busy or live far away, they usually understand if you can't visit that often. However, when the Holidays roll around, visiting family is another issue entirely. You may expect to visit your family, as usual, and simply bring this new person along. But what happens when your partner has the same idea about his/her family?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Begun, the Christmas Wars Have

I've discovered two other inevitabilities besides death and taxes. Mention Star Wars, and someone will talk about how George Lucas ruined the series with the prequels. Mention Christmas to politicians and they'll go on about this "War on Christmas."

Given that is it Christmastime, the War on Christmas rhetoric is going strong, doubly so because people are running for President. Believe it or not, this reminds me of the one thing Lucas got right in the prequels.

While the answer to how Anakin became Darth Vader was mostly annoying, I was far more intrigued by how a once free Republic became the evil Galactic Empire. If you've never seen the prequels, I'll sum them up so none of you have to put up with a certain Gungan who will remain nameless. A massive droid army began blowing everything up, and only with the help of an army of clones was the Republic able to stop it, thus starting the Clone Wars. In order to maintain stability throughout the crisis, Chancellor Palpatine was elevated to the position of Emperor.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

This Relationship Corner: Don't be a Martyr

The great thing about being in a relationship is that you have an extra set of hands. While it would be really cool if those hands were attached to you Doctor Octopus style, allowing you to both drive and eat your sandwich at the same time, you have to settle for the second-best option: hands attached to someone you love. These aren't just any hands, they are helping hands, and when you need a favor, big or small, they are the hands you call first.

This perk isn't just one-way, though. Your partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, Imzadi, might also need a favor, and you will be the first responder. It will be your job to help reach things on a shelf, pick up something while you are out, help clean a mess, bring them something they forgot, or one of a thousand other small favors. While you won't be able to fulfill every one of these requests, because no one is that good, you'll do your share. And when you do, I have one suggestion to ensure a healthy relationship: don't whine about it.

Monday, December 5, 2011

How I Met Your Mother: "Symphony of Illumintation"

Quick Review: When it's not blowing your mind, it's pulling the rug out from under you. 

Episode Synopsis: Robin hears bad news, but hides it from everyone; and Marshall hangs Christmas decorations with a little help from his neighbor. -tvguide

Spoilers ahead, so watch the episode before you proceed. Seriously, there are some big things happening, so make sure you've seen the episode. Trust me.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

When 'Veggie Tales' was a Cult Classic

Back in the late 1990's, you could use a predictive theorem at any gathering of college-aged Christians. If the crowd numbered greater than 500, and if there were giant video screens in the vicinity, the probability of seeing a Veggie Tales video approached 100%. And as soon as Larry the Cucumber popped up in a towel and lamented his lost hairbrush, the crowd would go wild and immediately song along.

It was an undeniable truth. College-aged Christians in the late 90's loved Veggie Tales. Maybe not all of us, but plenty of us loved those videos enough to pay $15 for a 30 minute VHS. At fifty cents a minute, you'd hope it was worth it, and yes, Veggie Tales back then were more than worth it. In fact, to have a Veggie Tales video in your collection made it elite, for it was evidence of a long and harrowing journey.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

This Relationship Corner: "Will You Marry Me?"

Proposals are more an art than a science, but that doesn't mean that a little science wouldn't hurt. While there's no one way to propose, a successful proposal has several common factors that I want to address. There are also plenty of common factors present in unsuccessful proposals. It is my hope that today's installment will help your proposal be a memorable story you tell your grandchildren, and not an embarrassing Youtube video that will haunt you forever.

Let's start with the most important factor in a proposal. If you don't know 100%, that the answer is "yes," then don't propose. I realize that this isn't the most romantic advice, but I have news for you. We're talking about marriage, a lifelong commitment that requires a lot of work and sacrifice. Maintaining a successful marriage isn't easy, and if you don't have the right partner by your side, you're already starting with a huge handicap. Part of having the right partner is the both of you being on the same page, and that includes the both of you having the same opinion on marriage. If only one of you is going to be committed to your marriage, then that's a problem.

Monday, November 21, 2011

How I Met Your Mother: "The Rebound Girl"

Quick Review: An enjoyable episode that ends in a shocking reveal.

Episode Synopsis: Ted and Barney make a life-altering decision; and Robin tries to talk Lily and Marshall out of moving to Long Island. -tvguide

Spoilers ahead, so watch the episode before you proceed. Seriously, there are some great moments that you don't want ruined, and I'm not kidding about the reveal. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Bible Questions and Answers

Whenever we enter the political season, politicians like to make hay (and other farm byproducts) by speaking about their desire to legislate out of the Bible. Naturally, this causes many in their audience to ask a lot of questions.

The Bible is not a simple document, and is has a long, proud history of not being a simple document. Not everyone understands what it really says and how it applies to modern life. After all, the context of the Bible is not a world that included the internet, refrigerators, and working knowledge of deoxyribonucleic acid. It can be tough to apply all those old rules and regulations to modern life.

This can lead to a lot of tricky questions. These are bound to come up in conversation, particularly if you happen to be using the Bible as your sole argument as to why everyone shouldn't be allowed to do things you don't approve of. The following is taken from from forwarded emails on the subject, a satirical series of questions about the Bible, aimed squarely at those who want to legislate Biblical rules.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

This Review of 'The Muppets'

Quick Review: If you love the Muppets, you must see this movie.

Full Review: My original plan for this review was to simply compare this film to the past Muppet movies and see if it holds up. I was going to treat this like just another movie, but after watching The Muppets, I realized that such a perspective would miss the point entirely.

I could just tell you how great this film is, how it's very funny, witty, moving, and quite possibly second only to 1979's The Muppet Movie in terms of greatness. All of those statements are true, and if that's enough to make you go see it, by all means stop reading here, see it, and then come back to read the rest of this review. It'll still be here, and you'll understand why this isn't just another rehash, remake, or reboot. This is something we've never seen before from the Muppets, and ever since I walked out of that advance screening, I've been trying to wrap my head around why this film was great. I hope this following review does the film justice.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

This Relationship Corner: Road Trips

As we begin to date our significant other, we look for clues and signs about the direction of our relationship. Is this just a short-term fling? Or is this the beginning of something long-term? We become little scientists, putting on mental and emotional lab coats and getting out clipboards and running the numbers. Testing is an important part of the relationship process, and I'll talk more about it in a later installment.

Today's topic concerns one test that I believe you must run before committing to this other person for the rest of your life: the road trip.

Monday, November 14, 2011

How I Met Your Mother: "Tick, Tick, Tick."

Quick Review: Not the most fun episode of the season. It wasn't bad, just very, very complicated.

Episode Synopsis: Robin and Barney keeps secrets from their respective significant others; and Marshall, Lily and Ted go to a concert. -tvguide

Spoilers ahead, so watch the episode before you proceed.

Friday, November 11, 2011

What’s my Line?

What’s my line?
By Charles B. French and badchristian

A Director is trying to give motivation to an Actor playing Peter in the pivotal scene when he confronts the Sanhedrin.
Reference Verses: Acts 4:1-22

The Actor’s missed lines are all famous movie, television, Shakespeare, or speech quotes. They should be done in the style of these famous lines.

The Seven Steps of the Savior

The Seven Steps of the Savior
Charles B. French

I wrote this reading for a Good Friday service. It follows the life of Jesus and ends with His arrest, crucifixion, and death.

To Carry A Mat

To Carry a Mat
By Charles B. French

The men who carried the paralytic to Jesus would stop at nothing, literally nothing, to see their friend healed. Still, such an act of faith could not have been easy for all of them, just as taking a step of faith isn’t always easy for us today.
Reference Verses: Luke 5:17-26

Characters: John is cynical about Jesus, and Paul has his doubts. Daniel has faith and Joshua is determined to get his friend to Jesus.

The Tempter's Trainee

The Tempter's Trainee
By Charles B. French

We all have free will. The devil can’t literally make us do anything. However, this doesn’t mean there aren’t temptations out there that can trap and destroy us if we’re not careful, and even if we Christians can avoid the usual pitfalls, there are plenty of other temptations we can fall into. Sometimes what seems good is actually the worst thing in the world for us. The devil is a crafty one. He’s also a really big jerk.
Reference Verse: 1 Peter 5:8

Satan – a seeming paradox. He is very smooth and yet is a big bully. He is very full of himself and yet immature. To play him, all you need is a man in a really nice suit.
Demon – Satan’s new lieutenant. He sits back watching the master at work. He is also in a suit, but in a tweed one.
Martin – a young man just leaving college.
Nancy – a wife and mother who is devoted to everything she does
Billy – a firebrand who is out to destroy all he believes is evil

Sunday Morning Runway

Sunday Morning Runway
By Charles B. French

It’s so easy to forget what church is really supposed to be, and who we are supposed to be there to follow. 
Reference Verses: Luke 9:23-26

Characters: Jim is the announcer and Steve is the color commentator. The announcers sit at a table wearing headphones, talking into microphones. They look past the audience at the “runway.”

Plus 2

Plus 2
By Charles B. French

Church is more than just sitting through a weekly service, and to truly get something out of the experience, one also needs fellowship with fellow Believers and service in the church and/or community. (The Worship +2 concept)
Reference Verse: Hebrews 10:25

Characters: Three people are all giving their own testimonies about being a part of a church. Aaron only attends worship services. Billy only attends worship and Sunday-school, while Cathy attends worship, Sunday-school, and participates in ministry.

Parental Priorities

Parental Priorities
By Charles B. French

It can be so easy in our marriages to be overwhelmed by life, be it from our careers or our children. Sometimes parents need to take time for just themselves, recharge, and take a break from it all. A strong marriage leads to better child-rearing and a better life for everyone involved.
Reference Verses: 1 Corinthians 7:3-5

Characters: The Narrator, tells the story of  Barry and Susan, who meet, marry, have children, and become exhausted. Susan’s sister Janet is eventually forced to intervene.


By Charles B. French
Sometimes we Christians speak another language altogether, and it can be hard to translate to outsiders wondering just what we’re up to.

Characters: Mary is someone who read a flyer advertising a Christian club. When she arrives she meets Rick and Ruth, who are no help whatsoever, and Paul, who finally helps her get to the bottom of things.

Five Advent Readings

Five Advent Readings
By Charles B. French

If you are looking for something to read as you light the candles for Advent, I offer you five passages, one for each Sunday. Each week follows the traditional Advent schedule, talking about the different people who played a role in the Christmas story: the prophet Isaiah, the Shepherds, Mary, the Three Wise Men, and Simeon. 

Note: The final reading has two versions, for either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. They are the same passages otherwise.

Extreme Makeover – Heart Edition

Extreme Makeover – Heart Edition
By Charles B. French

In our zeal to celebrate Christmas, it’s easy to forget the real reason for the season and instead focus on everything that doesn’t matter. We make ourselves and everyone else miserable during a time of year when we should be celebrating and contemplating God’s great love for us.
Reference Verse: Luke 2:8-20

Characters: Gary is the type of person who makes everyone miserable by trying to make Christmas perfect. He should be dressed somewhat Christmassy and will have a cell phone.  Ty is the host of the show who wants to change Gary’s heart.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

This Relationship Corner: Birthdays

My wife and I have a tradition for her birthday. We have a lot of recipe books lying around, including the three volume set of tomes from Alton Brown. Every year, she gets to pick several recipes from one of those books for a fantastic meal, and I make it for her. It's something she always looks forward to because I'm not too shabby in the kitchen, and when paired with these advanced recipes, I produce some of my best output.

This leads me to today's topic: birthdays. Birthdays are important for a lot of us, and if they're important to your significant other, then they better be important to you. You better make a big deal about it, and above all else, you better remember when it is. In this digital age, there is no reason why someone's birthday should sneak up on you. If you can't remember it, you know there's an app for that. To forget a birthday is an act of willful ignorance. (Or a sign of severe head trauma, but men, if you're going to use that excuse, get a doctor's note.)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Land Wars and Peer Pressure

Growing up, we all succumbed to peer pressure. Whether it was to smoke, drink, or get a stupid haircut forever memorialized in our high school yearbook, we did it because all our friends thought it was a good idea. I, too, fell into peer pressure growing up, and it's something that many of us did because we thought it made us look cool. I got involved in a land war in Asia.

Monday, November 7, 2011

How I Met Your Mother: 'Disaster Averted'

Quick Review: Easily the best episode of the season so far.

Episode Synopsis: The friends recall their memories of Hurricane Irene; and Barney tries to get out of wearing the ducky tie. -tvguide

Spoilers ahead, so watch the episode before you proceed.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Finding God in Goodfellas

Christians aren't supposed to like movies like Goodfellas. We're especially not supposed to buy the movie on DVD because we can't stand the TV version and want all the cursing intact. As you can probably tell, I disagree with both of those notions. Goodfellas is one of my favorite movies, and not because I only watch movies about crooks with filthy mouths. For me, it's the story that matters most, which is why Goodfellas is right next to my giant Pixar collection. (The scene where Woody asks Buzz "How am I funny?" is classic.)

Goodfellas is an amazing story for several reasons. The first is that it is a true story, based on the book Wiseguy. In a rarity for Hollywood, the movie stays pretty faithful to the real-life events, because when you read about what the real-life Henry Hill was up to, you'll see why they didn't need to embellish. The other reason the movie is amazing is that it's a perfect morality tale.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

This Relationship Corner: Territory

Did you ever have to share a room growing up? Perhaps you shared a dorm room in college. Or you were forced to share a backseat with one or more siblings on a long family road trip. (Even worse, you had to share it back when cars didn't come equipped with DVD players...the horror!) If you've ever had to share space with another person, you've dealt with the issue of territory. You also know how it feels when someone violates your territory, and that feeling is the opposite of a pleasant surprise.

Let's go back to that shared room. The Interpersonal Communication Book (11th edition) by Joseph A. Devito refers to our room as one of our primary territories. And a primary territory, be it your room, house, or car, is your most sacred space. You don't want just anybody coming in a violating it. Now, if you already have someone in that room, your side of the room becomes that primary territory, with your bed being the most important spot, the inner sanctum.

Monday, October 31, 2011

How I Met Your Mother: 'The Slutty Pumpkin Returns'

Quick Review: Forget the Pumpkin, the best part about this episode is the real truth about Barney.

Episode Synopsis: The Slutty Pumpkin, played by Katie Holmes, returns, after Ted has searched for her every year at the same costume party since the Halloween they met and he lost her phone number. -tvguide

Spoilers ahead, so watch the episode before you proceed.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Origin Stories

Every hero has an origin story. Superman’s parents sent him to earth as his home planet exploded. Batman saw his parents murdered when he was just a child. Daredevil lost his sight when he was splashed with radioactive chemicals. The list goes on, and for most of our comic book heroes, tragedy is an integral part of their origin. It’s the defining moment that forever shapes them into the heroes they are.

This is often the case for those of us in the Christian faith. Many Christians came to the faith after suffering some horrible tragedy: losing a loved one, a debilitating injury, betrayal, abandonment, drug abuse, incarceration, divorce, or a hundred other unfortunate events. Those defining moments that brought them to faith left a permanent imprint and is integral to how they live their new-found beliefs.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This Relationship Corner: The Wedding Isn't Important

I know, it's like I'm asking for hate mail. I got your attention, though, and before you start passing out the torches and pitchforks, allow me to clarify. While the wedding day is indeed important, it is the least important day in your marriage. If you're not approaching your wedding with that attitude, you're in for some trouble.

Let me ask you this: why are you getting married? Is it because you want to get married, or do you want to be married? These are two very different motivations, and the success of your marriage depends on which one you prioritize.

Sadly, a lot of woman, and men for that matter, emphasize the getting married part. Far too often I encounter women who dream about that wedding day, and have done so for many, many years. It’s what they live for, the chance to be the center of attention and princess for a day.

Monday, October 24, 2011

How I Met Your Mother: 'Noretta'

Quick Review: The most uncomfortably hilarious thing I've seen in a long while.

Episode Synopsis: The gang discovers that their significant others remind them of their parents; and Barney and Nora's romantic night is plagued by mishaps.

Spoilers ahead, so watch the episode before you proceed.

Turkey Earthquake and the Better Business Bureau

You may have heard about the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Turkey. If not, you have now. By the end of the week (if not today) you will be solicited for donations from many charities that seem to spring up out of nowhere.

I'm not against charitable giving. However, I am against con artists using tragedy to profit from others' generosity. If you are motivated to give, then I offer you this link to the Better Business Bureau page for charities. If you have questions about whether a charity is legit, check here. Likewise, you can use the BBB site to find charities worth supporting.

You want to know that your money is going to the right place, so take a few extra minutes to make sure that your donation is not in vain.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Geeks and Bible Geeks

Any self respecting geek knows a lot of trivia. It's one of the hallmarks of our people. At a moment's notice, we'll regale you with the fact that Zac Efron got his start playing a young Simon Tam on Firefly, whether you want to know it or not.

How is this any different than someone who can quote any obscure verse from Habakkuk? Or someone who knows how many times the number 40 appears in Scripture (86) and the only one of Christ's miracles to appear in all four Gospels. (feeding the five-thousand)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

This Relationship Corner: The Dangers of Soulmates

Relationships are hard work. They are irritating, aggravating, take a lot time time and emotional investment. There's a lot of pushing a rock uphill, only to have it roll right back down. You're going to have conflict, you'll need to apologize, and there will be times when you wonder whether you were better off alone. And that's a good relationship.

Do I sound cynical? You might be reading this and wondering why I'm so negative about relationships. I'm not. I've been happily married for nine years and I look forward to spending the rest of my life with my lovely wife. We have a very healthy relationship, and we are closer now than we've ever been. And of all the many factors that make our union strong, this is one of the most important:

We don't think we're "soulmates."

Monday, October 17, 2011

How I Met Your Mother: 'Mystery Vs. History'

Quick Review: A funny episode that plays to the show's strengths.

Best Episode Moment: The research montage. It's a great analysis of the dating scene in the age of Facebook.

Best Running Gag: The spit-takes after finding out about Janet's secret. It was a lovely triad, and I'm a sucker for both triads and spit-takes.

Worst Running Gag: "I gotsta know!"

Least Effective Joke: Robin breaking the fourth wall. Has no one on the show seen a Woody Allen movie? Or 'Saved by the Bell?'

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Gospel According to Booster Gold

I believe that God can speak through anything. Furthermore, I think that when you dig deep, you can find God most anywhere. It's a great system, especially for the geek, because God is most definitely present and accounted for in the geeky pursuits. While I plan to eventually scandalize you with the idea that Dungeons and Dragons can be a Godly pursuit (unless I make a critical fumble) today my focus is on one of the greatest cartoons of our generation: Justice League Unlimited.

The Bible teaches that everyone has their own spiritual gift, and that it's never a good idea to dismiss your own gifts and instead wish you had another. Rather, it's important to embrace our gifts because not only is there great spiritual fulfillment, we also do the greatest good. It's easy to get caught up in wishing we were the next Billy Graham, Joel Osteen, or Beth Moore. Sometimes we're the sidekick, the second string player, and that puts us in the most important position of all. We second-stringers might actually be the ones who save the world, because it's the little deeds that make the big ones possible.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

This Relationship Corner: Apologies

This post is going to be directed mainly at the guys this time, though it can just as well be applied to women.

I gave my brother this advice right before he got married, and I give it to you: when in doubt, apologize. Even if you’re right, even if she started it, apologize. 

Remember in my last post when I mentioned that one of the keys to conflict is that it isn’t about winning? That’s why apologizing is helpful. It helps you bury your need to win every encounter. The point is for the relationship to win, and sometimes you have to take one for the team. (Hey, look at that, this geek can use a sports metaphor.)

Monday, October 10, 2011

How I Met Your Mother: 'Field Trip'

Quick Review: It played to the show's strengths and was overall a good episode.

Best Episode Moment: Barney and Ted polling the field trip. It's a welcome return to the kind of gags the show used to be good at.

Worst Episode Moment: The tag at the end. I kept expecting the flashback to the Edward/Jacob James Olmos conversation to go somewhere, but it didn't. The scene wasn't needed at all.

Best Character Moment: Marshall walking into Garrison Cootes' (Martin Short) office and showing him the ultrasound. Jason Segel is the king of powerful, understated performances, and he nailed it.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Check out my latest article

First of all, welcome to all my fellow Farkers. Glad you're here, hope you like what you find.

I'd like to invite you to read my latest article, The Best and Worst Cartoons for Adults. I'm sure it'll give you a lot to talk about. Or complain about. It's part of a weekly column I write for this site.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Geeky Divisions in the Christian Church

You'd think that geeks are a monolithic entity (insert 2001 joke here), but we're not. Just because we're geeks doesn't mean we all think the same, believe the same, or even all get along. The same holds true for Christians. True, we all believe that Jesus was the Son of God, but after that we start to faction, and we've been doing so since day 41.

Perhaps the biggest split in the Christian church is between Protestants and Catholics. For geeks, it's Star Trek versus Star Wars. Each side has its share of atrocities (Jar Jar Binks and Star Trek: Voyager) but each side has done good in the world as well. (Empire Strikes Back and Wrath of Khan) The divisions between fan-bases can be stiff, with each side declaring that their science fiction geeky passion is the one true geek pathway.

Seriously. Go online and find a Star Trek versus Star Wars argument in any online forum, and it's like they're arguing about religion.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

This Relationship Corner – How to Have Conflict

Conflict is never fun. My wife and I have been married for nine years and we've had our share of conflicts. The reason our relationship is healthy and getting stronger every day is because we know how to handle conflict, how to address our issues and make sure that they don't wreck what we've spent over a decade building. We also don't harbor the illusion that happy couples don't have conflict, nor do we see conflict as necessarily bad.

In fact, your relationship needs it. Conflict is like going to the dentist. If you have regular checkups, you’ll have some minor discomfort and maybe have to put up with a lecture about your flossing habits. There will be that unpleasant sucking thing and you'll have this gritty feeling in your teeth for the next few hours. 

But if you avoid going to the dentist, the next thing you know it’s time for a root canal. That involves a lot of long needles, drilling, other unpleasant things that -trust me- you don't want to know about, and the worst of all: it's going to cost you a lot of money- just like the 'D' word. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

How I Met Your Mother: 'Stinson Missile Crisis'

Robin attends court-ordered therapy and recounts what led to an assault charge.

Quick Review: It has its moments, a few good laughs, but character assassination isn't funny.

Best Episode Moment: Barney's fake company sponsoring Survivor.

Worst Episode Moment: The flashforward to Lily giving birth. The "husband isn't there for the birth of his child" trope is just too predictable and played out. They've done better.

Friday, September 30, 2011

This Christian Geek

So what does it mean to be a Christian and a geek? Are the two worldviews even compatible? Can you believe in God, believe that Jesus was the Son of God, came to Earth, died for our sins, rose from the dead, and that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life and also be a fan of graphic novels, Babylon 5, 'Weird Al' Yankovic, Doctor Who, video games, Magic the Gathering, The Big Bang Theory and many, many other geeky pursuits?

Yes. Yes you can. Any other questions?

Monday, September 26, 2011

This Review of 'Ducky Tie'

Quick Review: It had potential, but didn't quite live up to it.

Full Review: The theme was boobs. Lily has them and Ted is one. This episode was uncomfortable and hard to watch. I like these characters, I am still rooting for them, but it's getting harder. Part of that is the writers, who sometime around season five forgot how great these characters were and relied more on banal gags rather than genuine character moments.

Take Barney's Twitter comments. First, Twitter's been around for a long time, guys, so it isn't as cutting edge as you think it is. Secondly, they just weren't that creative and reeked of trying too hard.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

This Review of Weird Al in Concert

Quick Review: Go see him. It's a great show.

Full Review: Go see him. It's a great show. What more do you need to know? Fine, I'll tell you why it's a great show.

Weird Al is entering an improbable but welcome fourth decade of cultural relevance. Most of the acts he's parodied have come and gone, but he's still out there touring, and we are better for it. After all this time, Al has perfected the art of the concert, and if you ever get a chance to catch one of his performances, you owe it to yourself to see him live. This man knows how to entertain his fans.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sequels I Pretend Don't Exist

I like sequels. When done right (Spiderman 2) they can expand upon the universe, explore the characters in greater depth than the original allowed, and resolve dangling plot threads from the previous film. When not done well, and sadly this is often the case, they not only are a terrible movie, they retroactively ruin the previous film. (On the plus side, they do allow a lot of actors to pay back what I assume are massive gambling debts.)

Thus, to preserve my sanity and continued enjoyment of the first installment(s), there are sequels I just pretend don't exist. As far as I'm concerned, these movies were never green-lighted, scripted, cast, financed, catered, filmed, produced, and released. They didn't happen, and a pox on anyone who tries to shatter my precious illusion. (And yes, I am aware of the irony that writing about movies I pretend don't exist violates my own rule. I'm sure we can move past it.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

An open letter to the plantar wart on my foot

Dear Plantar Wart,

I know we've had our ups and downs in the four months since you decided to attach yourself to my foot. I attempt to excise you, and you just keep coming back. I must say, I am impressed by your tenacity. You are a worthy opponent, and I give you my grudging respect. No matter what I try, you never quit. Even when I whittle you down to nothing, you just wait until I think everything is getting back to normal and reappear with a vengeance. You are devious and sneaky, like a ninja.

So here's to you, Wart. As I continue my efforts to destroy you, your children, and so on to the seventh generation, know that I will never forget our epic conflict of 2011. May they sing about our battles for generations to come.


The Guy Who Seriously Wants You to Die!

Monday, September 19, 2011

This Review of the 'How I Met Your Mother' Premiere

Quick Review:
They try too hard and string us along, but it's not a total loss.

Full Review:
The past few seasons have been rough for the fans of How I Met Your Mother. We'll still watch anything from seasons 1-4 in reruns (or pop in a DVD and hit play-all.) However, we're a bit more picky with seasons 5 and 6, as it marked the beginning of a decline. From the horribly handled Barney and Robin relationship to the even more horrid introduction of Zoey, it was sometimes an effort to tune in every week and/or log into Hulu. We've spent six years waiting for Ted to meet 'The Mother,' and so far all we've gotten is a foot.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Why do they tolerate Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory?

This is why you use spray-paint to scrawl your death threats - fewer drips

With the fifth season of The Big Bang Theory starting up next week, I felt it would be a good idea to tackle one of the biggest burning questions of the series. If you watch the show regularly, then congratulations, you're a big nerd. You also may wonder why Sheldon Cooper's friends tolerate him. Particularly Leonard, Howard, Raj, and Penny. Sheldon forces them to abide by strict rules, assigns them strikes if they break said rules, and otherwise makes their lives miserable on a daily basis.

You'd think that five minutes with that lunatic would have them either heading for the hills or getting their stories straight when Sheldon goes on "vacation." (You have two scientists and an engineer - disposing of a body wouldn't be that difficult.) But instead, Sheldon is an integral part of the group. So much so that the three of them regularly give in to Sheldon's often insane demands, adhere to his dictatorial roommate agreement, and tolerate his outright abusive behavior. Sheldon is a tyrant who rules with an iron fist inside a toy Incredible Hulk hand.
Mussolini used to wear Batman underoos.

While some may see this as one of the worlds biggest plot-holes (right up there with why they couldn't just fly The One Ring to Mordor?) I believe that it makes sense. Below are eight good reasons why they tolerate Sheldon, and one very bad reason.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

This Review of Justice League #1

Quick Review: A great way to begin a reboot.

Full Review: If there's one thing the DC Universe loves to do, it's reboot itself. The last big reboot was Crisis on Infinite Earths, and smaller reboots (or retcons) happened in Zero Hour and Infinite Crisis to name a few. This time, through the series Flashpoint, the DCU got one huge reboot and reset. I won't go into the details, because as a some-time reader I'm not fully immersed in the continuity. Long story short: The Flash changed history and then changed it back, and in doing so reset the entire DC Universe and now everyone is starting over. (I don't suppose a "my bad" would cover that.)

And this brings us to Justice League #1, the issue that relaunches the brand new (again) DC universe. The story told is simple. Batman and all the other heroes aren't trusted and, in Batman's case, considered just as bad as the criminals. This first issue has Batman meeting Green Lantern for the first time as they fight an alien menace. This takes them to Metropolis, where they track down the only alien they know about: Superman.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Eight Good Portrayals of Christians in Mainstream Media

I can name this Christian in one cross

Most of the time, when Christians get portrayed in mainstream television and movies, we aren’t exactly shining beacons of great character. We’re portrayed as ignorant, intolerant, backwards, or just simply the villains. Before you think this is a rant about the “Liberal Media” that’s hostile to Christians, I should point out that when we Christians are left to our own devices, our output isn’t always stellar, either. (Yes Kirk Cameron, I’m talking about you.)

The good news is that there are examples of Christians who are portrayed well. Believe it or not, Hollywood (or in one case the BBC) got it right when it came to portraying what it really means to live a life of faith. These characters aren’t perfect, they have their own flaws and failings, but what they all have in common is a deep abiding faith that guides them and motivates them to help others. They embody the core tenets of the faith, and their imperfections are not that different from our own. After all, perfect characters of any stripe aren’t that interesting, and Christians are no different.

Monday, September 5, 2011

This Review of 'Fright Night'

Quick Review: Fun vampire flick in 2D

Full Review: Twilight this is not. Instead, we have a simple story of boy meets girl, boy's next door neighbor is a vampire, boy has to fight and kill said vampire with a surly and foul-mouthed David Tennant. It's a fun movie with all the vampire killing you could want, but don't expect anything with the depth of Let Me In. This is about fighting and killing Colin Farrell, and that's a movie I can get behind.

True, this is a remake, but I never saw the original, and this version worked for me. Thus, I'll only address what I saw in this one and not make any comparisons. I also only saw the 2D version. I have an aversion to post-production 3D, and I'm fairly certain that the "3D" only subtracted from the experience.

This Review of 'Our Idiot Brother'

Quick Review: It's funny, grown-up movie that ends well.

Full Review: You may not realize this, but Our Idiot Brother is a movie for grown-ups. It's not your run-of-the-mill stoner comedy, it's not even a "loveable loser makes good" kind of film. It's a story about a guy who is who he is and is perfectly okay with it. He's an idiot, for sure, but it's actually one of his endearing qualities. He loves and trusts stupidly, and in the end, that idiotic, unselfish love is what drives this story to its heartwarming conclusion.

In many ways, aside from the arrest for selling drugs, the idiot brother Ned (Paul Rudd) is kind of a Christ-figure. He shows up in the lives of his three sisters and disrupts them completely, but in the end, they are better for it. He leads them down the right path, even if it means leaving the safety of the way things were for the uncertainty of what could be. Ned is constant, and as the movie shows, that never needs changing. It could be a spiritual sequel to The Big Lebowski, as this dude does indeed abide.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Seven Parody Movies that can Stand on their Own

The parody film genre has one fatal flaw - you can't feed it after midnight. Did you get the reference? Good, then you're either a film connoisseur, a child of the 80's, or handy with Google. Otherwise, you're scratching your head wondering what "feed after midnight" has to do with anything. This is a parody film's fatal flaw - you have to understand the references to appreciate the jokes.

Which means that for a lot of films, enjoying them involves hours and hours of prep-work watching and enjoying other movies and possibly television shows. (And for some of the films that get lampooned, enjoying isn't exactly the right word for it.) Having to do homework before watching a movie makes it seem like English class all over again, where the reward for reading the book was to watch a poorly produced movie of the book made before any of us were born. (I'm looking at YOU Great Gatsby)

However, not all parody films are like that. The best are those that transcend being a parody and become an even better version of what it spoofs. It's a film you can appreciate on its own merits, and you may not even realize that you are dealing with a parody. The seven movies I'm talking about today are examples of parodies that stand on their own.