Family Time

After celebrating the completion of our house sale with dinner at the house of our good friends Ashley and George Friday night, Lee and I shared a relaxing breakfast this morning before heading over to my best friend Jeff’s house to celebrate the high school graduation of his daughter Emma. I’ve known Jeff for 12 years which means I’ve seen his kids grow up from little munchkins to the amazing young adults they are today. They are like nieces and nephews to me, and my kids have the same relationship with him.

It’s always a great time to partake in wonderful food and joyful celebration of a milestone event like graduation, and it was a blessing to be there for Emma and watch her have such a fun time with her friends.

Later this evening Lee and I met up with my kids to go see Solo: A Star Wars Story. Although Lee and I had already seen the movie, we had no issue with seeing it a second time (as well as seeing it through the eyes of my kids). Going to the movies has always been a part of what we do as a family, and it’s one of the things I will miss the most once we move to the D.R.

Still, we’re blessed to have this time to create new memories together and share these wonderful moments with each other. I know it will be these memories that will, in part,  get me through the challenges that lie ahead in our ministry, so the more we can make between now and July 1, the better.

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Solo!

Solo!

I grew up on Star Wars. The original trilogy is embedded in my childhood, and the entire saga as a whole is part of my personality DNA. I know we don’t talk about the prequels, but start to finish, from Episodes I through VIII – and including Rogue One – Star Wars in many ways makes up who I am.

So imagine my excitement as Lee and I sat down this evening to watch the premiere of Solo: A Star Wars Story. It is the origin story of everyone’s favorite scoundrel Han Solo, and screenwriters Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan do an exceptional job both telling the tale of how Han became Han *and* staying true to the elements of the original trilogy (hear that, Rian Johnson?)

For those not familiar with the elder Kasdan, Lawrence wrote the screenplays for The Empire Strikes Back (SW Episode V) and Return of the Jedi (SW Episode VI). To say he is intimately familiar with the character of Han Solo is an understatement, and he and his son Jonathan bring to life the telling of how a young man from the planet Corellia came to be such an influential player in the rebellion against the empire.

Then there is the brilliant directing by Ron Howard who salvaged the project after the original directors were let go. Howard applied his personal touch to the film while giving nod after nod after nod to the foundational material that is the Star Wars saga. The acting by all involved was great (Alden Ehrenreich is surprisingly phenomenal as Han), and the finished product is, to me, the best Star Wars film after Empire. It’s simply superb. 

Personally, it completed a part of my childhood I did not know was missing. But seeing how Han met Chewie, how Han won the Millenium Falcon from Lando Calrissian, and to see Han and Chewie pilot the Falcon together for the first time; it all brought a tear to my eye.

I loved the movie and I can’t wait to see it again. As giddy as I was these last several weeks for Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2, Solo: A Star Wars Movie made me feel like a kid again. And isn’t that why we go to the movies in the first place?

The Best Medicine

The Best Medicine

Following the passing of my uncle yesterday, it felt strange going to the movies tonight. However, we bought our tickets to see Deadpool 2 last week, and I mourned my uncle’s death in earnest last night. Besides, if laughter is the best medicine, then what better place to be than the premiere of DP2?

The movie was great. It started with a surprising twist and the action and intrigue paced the movie from start to finish. Perhaps not quite up to the standard set by the first Deadpool movie, but overall DP2 does not disappoint.

And the laughing helped. After a long day in which I spent way too much time at the neurologist’s office (I had to follow-up given the results of last month’s MRI), my heart was still somewhat heavy and my thought process was all over the place.

It was a heavy day and it was nice to finish in a light-hearted way.

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Avenge Me

Avenge Me

My day started at 4:00 AM. I had to be at the airport by 5:00 AM so I could make my 6:00 flight to Miami. From there a two-hour flight to Santo Domingo, and from there a three-hour drive to Samana. As if this long travel day weren’t grueling enough, it occurred on the night Lee and I would be attending the premiere of Avengers: Infinity War. Thankfully we were able to get our tickets refunded (thank you, Fandango), but it still stinks I have to wait ten days to see the film.

Waiting got me like ….

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Once You Go Black

Once You Go Black

I love movies. I specifically love Marvel movies and seeing what the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has become. As a writer, I geek out at the breadth and scope of the MCU, as well as the challenges that come with trying to maintain continuity from movie to movie. The MCU started with the first Iron Man movie in 2008, and I can only assume the writers involved did not foresee the explosive success Marvel would have in cinema over the next ten years.

I also did not read many comic books as a kid. For me, the MCU ties back to warm memories of my childhood (given I would watch Spidey and Friends on Saturday mornings) but also allows me to discover these characters and storylines through the eyes of an adult.

Watching Black Panther tonight, I left the theater with an enthusiastic sense of “well done.” Without regurgitating much of what’s already been written about the movie, I have to applaud the creative team of the film for producing an entertaining story that is also timely and poignant. I think there is truth in the critical feedback of this movie as being groundbreaking, and I will borrow from my friend Enaye, an educator and African-American woman when she says:

“Seeing a major mainstream movie with a predominately black cast that was not the stereotypical story of slavery and/or struggle for freedom, or Tyler Perry style comedy (no offense to Perry) was refreshing. Seeing fierce black women warriors with depth of character and not hyper-sexualized was amazing!” 

I really can’t state it better than she did, and I, too, noticed how the women in the movie were not garbed in gratuitous, tight outfits which I feel are a misogynistic throwback to a male target audience. With Black Panther, there was none of that, a fact that should be applauded in and of itself.

Lupita Nyong’o and Letitia Wright in Black Panther (top). Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow (bottom).

I am glad Black Panther is breaking records at the box office. I am thrilled to think of a young generation of African-American kids growing up with characters like NakiaOkoyeShuri, and T’Challa as their role-models. And I am glad to see a movie that challenges the status quo as well as the still-antiquated perception we see in our country towards people of color. To quote the title character, “In times of trouble, the wise build bridges while the foolish build barriers.”


P.S. For a great spiritual take on the movie, please see Greg Morse’s article about the movie on the Desiring God site.

Things I’ll Miss (Part 2)

Things I’ll Miss (Part 2)

I love going to the movies. Big-release feature films geek me out. I love buying tickets in advance via Fandango and sitting in oversized leather seats at CineBistro. I loving being in the audience for opening night so that no one gets to spoil anything for me about a movie I love.

So with the recent releases of trailers for both Solo: A Star Wars Story and Deadpool 2, I twinge with a mental ‘darn it’ at the knowledge I’ll have to wait quite a while after their releases in May before I get to see them.

I love, love, love Star Wars. I grew up on the original trilogy, and the idea of a Han Solo origin story is wonderful to me. I also love the film was directed by Ron Howard, which, to me, means it’s bound to be a great film.

As for Deadpool, there is perhaps no film that does a better job at combining humor and action. Yes, the language and content is not for everyone, but if you like super-hero flicks and you love Ryan Reynolds (who doesn’t?), then Deadpool is where it’s at.

Unfortunately for me, my first shot at seeing these films, each with a May 25 and May 18 release date, respectively, will be once they’re already out on BluRay. Yes, Lee and I will be doing wonderful work in the Dominican, but it’s a safe bet I am going to be a little bummed this Memorial Day weekend.


WARNING: Very bad language in the Deadpool 2 trailer.

Here are the official trailers for both movies. Gil is awesome. 

Getting Back to Bruce

Yesterday my wife and I decided to take an adventure, skip work, and go to Winter Park for a screening of the new movie Divergent. We invested a lot of time and energy to make it all happen.

This blog post started off as a rant. A rant against all the hormone-crazed pre-teens, teens, twenty-somethings, and older women who ruined my movie experience last night. It was originally titled “Just Not Worth It”, and it was going to be a blast at how lust-filled women filled a movie theater with swooning chatter over Ansel Elgort and Theo James. So much so I actually found myself yelling – and I mean yelling – “Shut up!” in the middle of the theater.

I was going to go off on having to wait for hours and hours and hours only to have a tsunami of estrogen capsize my evening. Not to mention the fiasco of how we had to check our cell-phones at the door for the movie screening. You can only image the chaos this caused on the way out. Oh yeah, then there was the 90 minute drive back home.

I was furious, and I WAS going to rant about all that.

But as I started typing, I realized the uniqueness of the evening, and how it did end up being, after all, another big adventure for us.

In the end, we ended up with author Veronica Roth signing our copy of her novel, actor Ansel Elgort signing it as well, and getting to be two of only a few hundred people in the country who got to see the film a couple of weeks before its national release. We also made a new friend while waiting in line, and watched her have one of the greatest days of her life as she met Ansel in person.

Lee

You see, this blog post is not about me expressing my anger over something that is, at the end of the day, inconsequential. This blog post is about God speaking to me through my own words and reminding me about what is important. I’ve been angry all day, and I carried that anger with me in everything I’ve done today. I found myself snapping at people at work – although, truth be told, they really kinda’ deserved it – and I haven’t been able to really focus at all.

I feel it in my neck and in my back. What’s more, I feel it in my gut, mostly because I took out my anger and frustration on my wife as we drove home last night.

Always Angry

It’s not the first time I’ve let my anger get away from me, and I know it won’t be the last. I identify a lot with the character of Bruce Banner, and I know one of my biggest challenges is keeping my personal hulk at bay. Prayer and focus have been crucial in helping make this happen, but I lost sight of that last night.

As I began typing this blog post and found God re-arranging my personal narrative, I know it’s because He wants to see a lot more of Bruce and a lot less of the other guy.