Archive for June, 2008

Dark Floors: The Lordi Motion Picture – A Review

Posted on June 16, 2008. Filed under: Reviews |

  Dark Floors: The Lordi Motion Picture – A Review

While I’m not a huge fan of horror movies or the Finnish metal band Lordi, I was slightly intrigued when I saw that a movie had been made with the band as supporting characters. Costing nearly three million euros to produce, this was not meant to be a cheap flick. The plot revolves around a father (Noah Huntley from 28 Days Later) and his autistic daughter (Skye Bennett, Torchwood) trying to escape from a hospital after an MRI goes wrong. Upon entering an elevator with four other people they become trapped in the dark hallways of what is now an empty hospital. Dead bodies litter the floor as the group attempts to make its way to freedom.

In the beginning I was highly impressed with the production value. Special effects and relatively decent acting kept my attention for a while. The movie initially did a great job of making you fear the unseen. You never knew what was going to be around the next corner or what tricky mind game was going to be played next. Unfortunately, my mind began to wander as things began to fall apart.

The Lordi band members in their full stage garb began popping up and it was at that moment that I feel the movie became forced. The monsters were un-original; they seemed like band members trying to scare people. Also I quickly began to realize that I’d seen this plot before in the Silent Hill series of games and the Silent Hill movie. The characters were never fully developed so you weren’t given the chance to bond with them in a way that made you care about them or their predicament. And come to think of it, you never really discover the reason behind why their monstrous tormentors were chasing after them.

For all of the imperfections in this movie, there was one main theme that kept my interest throughout. We learn early on that the only way out is for the father to sacrifice his daughter by giving her over to their pursuers so that he and the other people might live. While I’ve heard THAT story before, I’m always interested in how it’s going to be interpreted by others on the big and small screens.

For me, it helps to have an actor play out the anguish of a parent mulling over the painful decision of having to give up their child for the well-being of others. I think that it allows us to see through the material world that we live in, a spiritual truth that at times may be difficult for us to grasp. We all know that the sacrifice that God gave through his Son was not an easy one for either being. The choice was inherently difficult for both. We have often seen the trials and anguish that Jesus was put through but the pain of the Father can be subtly displayed for us through movies such as this.

While not the perfect movie, Dark Floors does have a few redeeming values. From the intensity of the fright in the beginning of the movie to the spiritual lessons it attempts to convey, this movie keeps itself afloat long enough for you to finish it and continue to ponder how you yourself would react to situations such as this.

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“Daddy saved the day!”

Posted on June 11, 2008. Filed under: Good Titus, Me and only ME ranting |

Today, Titus and I went shopping at Costco, stopped in the food court and grabbed hotdogs and pizza.
As we were leaving I told Titus that we were going to Reese and Malcolm’s house (Maurice’s house, those are his children). As we pulled out of the parking lot I thought about what I need to do to be more humble and how to be a better servant.

As I was driving down 86th Street approaching Zionsville Rd. I pulled up at a stop light next to a lady in an SUV. I just happened to notice a small whisp of white come out from under her front right wheel well. I figured it would be nice of me to let her know that maybe her car was overheating. I rolled down my water and hollered at her, “You’re steaming!” Rather annoyed, she rolled down her window and asked what I’d said and once again I told her that she was steaming. When she asked me where she was steaming from (the white whisps were still rather hard to see) I looked as far as I could into her wheel well (I was sitting in my car after all) and noticed that there was a fire and fiery stuff was dripping onto the ground.

I looked at her, my eyes wide in shock, and said, “OH SHIT! Your car’s on fire!”

She yelled back, “OH SHIT! What do I do?!”

Thinking quickly I yelled at her to pull into a relatively empty parking lot next to some small restaurants and a liquor store. I dipped into her lane and followed her into the parking lot. I jumped out of the car and could see plainly that the fire had started to get a whole lot worse. Greyish-tan smoke was starting to billow out from under her hood at this time. Someone pulled up to us at this time and I hollered at him, “Call 911!” then took off to the closest restaurant. I ran in the front door of El Rodeo and asked the first person I saw if the restaurant had a fire extinguisher. They rushed to get me one and I ran back outside to the burning SUV.

By this time, flames were coming out the sides of the fire walls of the wheel wells and flames were shooting up the windshield. The lady that had been driving the SUV had grabbed Titus from out of my car while I was inside and moved him further away from her burning wreckage of a car. I ripped the pin out of the fire extinguisher and stuck the hose right through the fire wall and pulled the trigger. Bright Yellow powder shot out of the nozzle puffing out through the seams of the engine hood. The fire was stubborn and wasn’t giving an inch, I had to start moving a little back because it was getting hotter and I couldn’t get the nozzle directly on the fire anymore. I continued to spray and pray for some success but it didn’t come. I heard the fire engines beginning to approach (at which Titus began yelling, “Wee-oo, wee-oo, wee-oo”) and backed away from the fire to let the pros do their job. The last bit that I could do was move my car out of the way so that it wouldn’t interfere with the fire fighters.

I went and sat down next to the SUV’s owner (her name was April) and figured I’d just keep her company. I knew that if I was in that position, I wouldn’t want to be alone. I felt like crying for her. I asked her if she’d need a ride anywhere. She didn’t. Her husband worked just down the road and she would go home with him. Titus kept her company and kept her spirits up. He knew she was sad and gave her a hug. I snapped some pictures with my phone of the firemen putting out the fire and destroying her car in doing so. I figured it would be good for her for insurance purposes. I let her know that I could send them to her phone, she looked up at me, sadness in her eyes and said, “I don’t have insurance.”

My heart sank, I didn’t know what else to do for her. I turned my head away as I fought back a tear. Myself, Titus and April sat in silence and watched the fire fighters do their job. As it came under control and they began to clean up their hoses I said, “I’m so sorry. Isn’t there anything I can do for you?” She shook her head and looked out to her car again.

She sighed and said, “You know, I’m just glad you stopped me. My car was on ‘E’ and I was on my way to Speedway (a gas station) to get some gas. The car was making some noise and I figured I’d look at it while I was filling up. I’m glad you told me something was wrong before I got to that point or before I decided to just go on the highway.” In a way that put it all into perspective. The results could have been disastrous if she’d gone to fill up her tank while her car was on fire. It would have been bad enough had she been tooling down the highway with her car a flaming mess but to add gasoline into the equation is a recipe for catastrophe.

I’m not trying to make this bigger than it’s supposed to be but I believe the Holy Spirit did put me in a position to help (not that God caused the fire but that God used me to help that lady). It really was a humbling experience for me.

Titus loved it too. He got to see fire trucks and firemen do their thing today. We had originally planned to go to an event where you pay $5 and your kid can climb around fire trucks and police cars but there’s always a bajillion kids at those things and your kid has to share. There are never enough bodies to field all the questions that your own kid has either. We didn’t get to go to that today because we’d slept in too late but the fire fighters that were there helping us today were more than happy to give Titus the first-class treatment. He got to put on their helmets and play with their safer equipment. They even let him sit in the driver’s seat and press all the buttons that he wanted to. He even got to make the siren go off. The firemen posed for pictures with him and showed him all over the place, they showed great patience and answered all of his questions (and he had a ton of them). They even gave him his own red fire hat with “Fire Chief” written on it, which he has worn all day long. He even took it to bed with him.

As neat as I thought it was and as glad as I was to be a servant rather than be served on, Titus made my day. When he got home he told Marcia all about his fire fighter adventure. I began by asking him, “Do you want to tell mommy what happened today?” he looked at her, smiled and said, “Daddy saved the day!” Once again, I feel humbled.

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My one and only poem

Posted on June 10, 2008. Filed under: Spiritual Musings |

This is why I don’t write poetry, cause I suck at it. Here is a poem I wrote after looking at some titles for blogs that I’d typed up. I thought to myself, “Hey, self, that looks like a poem in the making.” So I did a little editorial work to it and added some stuff and thought I’d give this poetry thing a try. Let me know what you think, seriously, I want to know if I’m hurting the world by writing tripe like this.

Longing for your company again
It’s been lonely without you
Don’t know what to do next
Just sit here and wait for you to call

But you don’t

It feels different this time
We’ve lost touch for so long
I need your help again
I think I can trust you now

I’m sorry

I know you’ll pick up when I call
All I have to do is finish dialing
It’s so much easier when you move first
I think I can hear you breathing

You’re so quiet

Sometimes I think I hear you whisper
Gossamer beating against the air
Was that your shadow on the wall?
If I squeeze my eyes shut, I can see you

I can’t focus

Was that you calling my name?
No, it’s just my imagination right?
One day we’ll see eye to eye
The fire will eventually smolder

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Taking Stock

Posted on June 10, 2008. Filed under: Spiritual Musings |

There are times in everyone’s lives that they stock of where they are, what they’ve done and where they are going. About a year ago I’d gotten into quite a deep depression because I was taking stock of my life every couple of hours and coming up wanting. Thankfully my life began to get some traction again and I don’t spend the majority of my days lamenting the path that I’ve taken. Not that it’s not wise to do that every once in a while, just not all the time.
There are times when you also need to take stock of your life spiritually. I learned a long time ago that when we wish to look at how we’re doing in our pilgrimage of faith we need to look at it in snapshots. I cannot compare where I am today with where I was yesterday. I’ll only get disappointed and disheartened. It’s been a long time since I’d done it last and recently it was kind of forced on me.
Someone mentioned something to me recently that really got me to thinking about my growth, or lack thereof, over the last few years. For a while I could look at my life and see consist growth. Then I hit a wall and I pretty much know where that wall was. The problem with it is that at the time I don’t think that I knew that I’d hit a wall.
Maybe it’s due to the fact that I didn’t do any sort of stock taking for awhile. Maybe it’s because I thought that I was doing just fine. I think that I’d achieved that level of intellectual arrogance where I thought it was time to stop learning and time to begin to merely absorb, that the spiritual side of the Christian life had taken a back of the bus seat to theology and life itself. I know that with a job, no school, no one to really talk to about spiritual matters and the problem with the pain killers had lent to the neglect of my spiritual life.
Examining my pilgrimage I’ve come to discover that there are plenty of things that are lacking in my life. I think about Galatians 5:22 and the Fruits of the Spirit (which I’m thinking about doing a small series on) and how my life has not seen an increase in or is completely missing many of things in that passage. I’ve been trying to think of why these things are missing in my life, what it means and what needs to be done to change.
I know that I’m not content. I know that things need to move forward. I know I long for the old days when it used to come so easy. Maybe this is just another part of the growing process. Maybe this is the spiritual equivalent of moving out of the house and realizing that your parents were right. I don’t know and I won’t pretend to know. But I’ll try to keep you informed and maybe someone else can join me in the same sort of examination and we can grow together. The invitation is there, I’m willing to start down a new path in my journey and I’d love some company.

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Battle for Haditha – A Review

Posted on June 9, 2008. Filed under: Reviews |

 Battle for Haditha – A Review

On November 19th, 2005 a tragedy occurred.  A roadside bomb in Haditha, Iraq (located in the Al Anbar province) exploded, killing one U.S. Marine and injuring two others.  What happened next is still shrouded in controversy.  It is alleged by some that the remaining Marines may have sought retribution for their slain comrades and went on a rampage killing 24 and wounding 2 (15 of those that died were civilian non-combatants including a 1 year old).  A few Marines claim that they had received small arms fire from one of the houses and moved in to clear the area.  We may never know the true story of the events from that day but writer/director Nick Broomfield (Kurt & Courtney, Biggie and Tupac) and first time writer Marc Hoeferlin (Ghosts) deliver to us an accounting of what may have happened on that fateful day and give us a peak into the lives of people who must deal with the realities of war.

From beginning to end, Battle for Haditha gives you the feeling that you are watching a documentary.  While the characters are fictionalized, the people they are meant to portray are all too real:  A Marine who keeps a picture of his kids in his helmet to remind him of why he’s fighting, a young couple attempting to live normal lives amidst the chaos of war, an aging insurgent (who is an ex-Iraqi Army officer) who plants a bomb because he needs money and for the love of his country not for the stereo typical religious reasons.  Each of these people could have been as real as your next door neighbor. 

Unlike other war movies of late, Battle for Haditha delivers its message without getting preachy.  You can feel the impact of a war on everyday people where there are no bad guys and no good guys.  Everyone is doing what they do for love of country and the belief that what they are doing is right.  Too often movies have demonized one side or the other in its attempt to make a point or to drive home an emotional impression.  Here we are given a story in which both Marines and insurgents are shown as victims of circumstances out of their reach. 

Patriotism and love for ones country is okay, even virtuous, but at times we forget that those we are fighting also love their country and do what they feel is best for it and their families.  If we were placed in the same position we may react the same way, using any means necessary to force out someone we may perceive as an occupier.  While it may not be popular to sympathize with your enemy in this way, we are called to love our enemies and one of the first steps to loving them is understanding that they are human just as we are and they feel just as we do.

 A final point that I’d like to stress is that Battle for Haditha illustrates, almost poetically, the fact that violence begets violence.  Each violent act, from the moment of the initial IED blast to a tape of a young girl who survived the Marine assault on her home being shown to a group of insurgents, creates a ripple effect in which more people become victims. This adds exponentially to those who wish for vengeance and retribution, continuing the cycle of killing and destruction.  Every one of the characters deeply wishes for peace and longs for the time when the world seemed safer.  This is what they fight for, this is why they are doing what they do but it’s a sad oxymoron:  fighting for peace.  We see that a radical break from the cycle of violence is sorely needed and it takes a God-given courage to be the one to turn the other cheek.

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