Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Movies I've watched in the past few days...

Transformers (Bay, 2007)
Brazil (Gilliam, 1985)
Letters from Iwo Jima (Eastwood, 2006)
Mystic River (Eastwood, 2003)
North By Northwest (Hitchcock, 1959)
Sin City (Miller/Rodriguez, 2005)
Wag The Dog (Levinson, 1997)

The only one I wouldn't highly recommend is Transformers, which I still might recommend depending on who you are. (And a few of those, certainly, aren't for kids.) Next up for my viewing enjoyment (though not for a few days, unfortunately): Hot Fuzz, which I am pretty stoked to see. I really will try to review a few of these I just saw, and I still have a draft saved of my thoughts on Zodiac, which is another great movie. (I really need to write more, or at least finish what I start.)

Stealing some thunder here, Chris linked to this nifty little tool for picking a presidential candidate to pull for, and Jason linked to this spoiler-filled discussion thread on the Harry Potter ending, which, by the way, I thought was perfect. Book 7 surpassed all the others, in my opinion, and J.K. Rowling did herself well. Check out the link only if you're done reading or if you've never read at all, because I think it may make you want to.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Now this is cool...



Yup, that's Heath Ledger as the Joker and Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes.

And here's The Dark Knight teaser trailer, all part of a sweet viral campaign. I have complete faith in Chris Nolan that this movie will rock. I'm tired of movies letting me down (Transformers would be a good example) and I am looking forward to TDK like none other. I know Heath Ledger doesn't seem like the obvious choice to play the Crown Prince of Crime, but a look at this ought to make you feel better. And if you're still doubting, watch Batman Begins again, take comfort in the fact that Aaron Eckhart is playing Harvey Dent, a.k.a. Two Face, and find something to do until July 18, 2008. It'll be worth the wait.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sweden

I'm off to the land of squishy red gummy fish, meatballs and a famous chef. Myself, eight high-schoolers and another leader (Lord-willing, if we get her passport troubles squared away) will fly out tomorrow morning for Chicago, then on to Frankfurt, Stockholm, and finally to the tiny town of Tranas in south-central Sweden.

We'll be gone for eight days working with MTW missionaries, running a VBS, helping with sports camps, delivering newspapers, attending youth meetings and painting a scoreboard for a new baseball field they're building.

Pray for us, for me as the leader responsible for keeping all those kids in one piece, and pray for Sweden. I'll admit I don't know a lot about the culture or country, but I'll know a lot more in a week. While we're there we'll be keeping a blog I hope to update a bunch. I'll be posting there for the time being. Or here.

I'm also starting (finally) to put some photos online. Check out what I have so far. I promise it'll get a lot bigger soon.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Derek Webb

I finally downloaded The Ringing Bell, and through listen one "This Too Shall Be Made Right" stood out both musically and lyrically. Check it out on your own (and the rest of the tracks) and definitely don't hesitate to pick up the newest release by one of the best artists around making music for the glory of God.

I didn't intend for this to be a review of any sorts, more just a personal comment, but I still don't think this album matches the brilliance of his solo debut She Must and Shall Go Free (as I would say about all of his follow-ups), and (for better or for worse) his Caedmon's stuff will always have a fond place in my heart... but, he's definitely putting together a solid discography. If you don't know Derek Webb. Do. His songs tend not to immediately blow you away, but they stick with you. Spend time with all his CDs... he has some important stuff to say.

UPDATE: I'm through listen two, and I'd also recommend "The End" and "A Love That's Stronger Than Our Fear."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

"The Freak Show" season

For whatever reason, after the famed Pirates division-winning teams of my youth fizzled and left for greener pastures, so did my interest in baseball--for a few years. The 1997 season, dubbed "The Freak Show" by announcer Greg Brown, brought back my fevered interest in the Bucs. (I suppose it's easier to justify being a fair-weather fan at age 14--though only slightly.) That was the year of Kevin Young, Al Martin, Jose Guillen, Cordova and Rincon's combined no-hitter, and, my favorite Pirate that year, Smilin' Joe Randa. Our payroll was only $9 million, and I can remember when Jon Lieber struck out Albert Belle, the $10 million man, three times in a game. It was the last year we actually made a deadline deal to help us in the short-term. It was the year that almost .500 almost secured us a division title. And it's being wonderfully remembered by P-G writer Paul Meyer.

Check out the story so far here, here, and here.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Short order

Via Slate, the legend of the "short cappuccino" lives! This seems to explain things for me; I had heard that Starbucks actually lost money on the short cappuccino, which apparently isn't true. Instead, they just don't make as much.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

9 back

40-48. Can the Pirates make up 9 games on the first-place Brewers in the second half? Doubtful.

Was going 5-2 against the Cubs and Brewers over this past week impressive and a big step in the right direction? Absolutely.

If you care at all about Pirates baseball, I agree with Bob Smizik: Who Bob Nutting hires to replace resigning CEO Kevin McClatchy will most likely determine how long my kids will have to wait to see another winning baseball team in Pittsburgh.

"We'll know by who he hires if he understands that owning the Pirates is more than a business deal, it's a sacred trust with the fans of this region. If he hires a man steeped in baseball experience, Nutting is on the right track. If he hires, for example, a bean counter from one of his other companies, we'll know the Pirates are doomed."

No games for a couple of days for the All-Star break. Check out the Pirates "first-half" stats here.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Review: Ratatouille



I saw Ratatouille last night, and Brad Bird/Pixar didn't disappoint. Great, beautiful movie, and in the spirit of Amadeus and it's presentation of the music of Mozart, I truly feel like I've gained an appreciation of food and specifically culinary Paris, all because of a rat named Remy and a director named Brad. Building off of his previous Pixar film, Bird again tackles the idea of being "incredible." In The Incredibles he told us that there are indeed special/gifted/incredible/great people in the world, and this time he defined it a bit more, saying that while not everyone is great, greatness can come from anywhere. (Pay attention to the food critic's speech at the end, because he says exactly that.) I could tell you a lot of reasons why I liked this movie (the voice acting of Peter O'Toole and Brad Garrett, for example), but rather, I'll just tell you to go see it for yourself, and be prepared for a treat.

Rotten Tomatoes
IMDb

P.S.
I'll be at the Pittsburgh Project this week. And... only two weeks til we leave for Sweden! A heads up for those of you who read my blog more than we actually talk: I'm not going to be studying at Pitt in the fall like I'd originally planned. Some stuff came up/happened, and basically that along with a lasting sense of uncertainty about the whole thing made me decide not to start back at school right now. I got asked to return to China, and I declined (again, for right now), but that made me really start to think more about my ministry here at the church, in the youth group, and about the relationships I've built since I started in November. It's been such an answer to prayer for me personally and a real privilege to be a part of the lives of some great, great kids. I would've kept working at the church even if I had started classes, but I'm wondering if this or something similar might be a part of a long-term call. College ministry, perhaps? Or seminary. But, most of all I know this is what God is calling me to do right now, and I'm satisfied. Along those lines Jim Eliot's quote has been floating around my head: "Wherever you are, be all there." I look forward to building on the solid foundation I have now at the youth group (by being "all there") and look forward to the Lord's plans for this next year. He's affirmed to me again that they are indeed His plans, and when I do hear His call for me to go, I'm ready to say, "Here I am."