Dec 30, 2007

KING SIZED BLOGS: Best & Worst of 2007 - MOVIES

So there was a little delay in getting this last King Sized post up.  My reason for that was that I wanted to get all of this year's reviews up on my Rotten Tomatoes site.  That way I can do links to the full review for movies that I mention in this entry.  And, once I am done, be sure to jump over to Greg's site for his opinions.

Movies - ahhhh, I love them so.  This year was a great one for me.  Thanks to several factors, I saw more movies than I had in years.  First of all, my kids were older, so it was easier to get babysitters (well, until the newest kid showed up).  Second, I traveled for conferences and such several times.  And, as anyone can attest who travels for work, there ain't a whole lot to do in between meetings.  But, just about every city has a movie theater.  Third, a bunch of guys at our new church go to movies during the week after the kids are in bed - and then swap off so the wives can go another day.  Fourth, we moved and our new cable operator has On Demand, so I can see movies through that.  As a result, I actually saw twenty movies so far, with hopefully some more soon.

Anyway, instead of the traditional BEST and WORST splits, I am going to do my Movie Review for 2007 my way.  That will serve as the Best and Worst.  Trust me, you'll see.

ENCHANTED - This sweet, funny, modern twist on the classic fairy tale was genius and amazing.  Here's hope that his can carry over in Disney's other offerings under the new Pixar management.

MEET THE ROBINSONS - Moronic, predictable, and it didn't even follow the basic rules of sci-fi and time travel.  How can you screw that up?  Go watch Star Trek or Back to the Future.  It isn't that hard.  I gave it a much better review than it deserved because I was desperate to watch movies.  Now, I realize how dumb it was.

RATATOUILLE - It is a movie about rats . . . in restaurants . . . with French people.  It couldn't be cross-promoted with restaurants.  There were very few toys and merchandise.  But it could, possibly, be the best Pixar movie ever made.  It couldn't rely on those other things, like toy cars I still am buying for my son.  It just had a great story, real humor and emotion, and a beautiful look.  Rats never looked so good.  Neither did French people.

IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON - This truly fascinating look at the men who made up the moon missions.  Great footage.  Insightful interviews.  I was hooked from the very beginning and stayed that way until the very end.  I would rank it in the Top Five for the year, you know, if I was doing this that way.

GHOST RIDER - It made a ton of money and continued the madness that has people convinced Nic Cage is a movie star.  But I walked out about 20 minutes in.  I knew the concept, and knew that there would be some disturbing elements.  But, geez, what a horrible start.  Bad acting, worse effects, and just an overwhelming sense of evil.  And that was just Cage.  The rest of it was just as bad.  

SAW IV, CAPTIVITY, HOSTEL II - I don't watch these films.  I never will.  I find them revolting, and am disgusted that they even exist.  

BOURNE ULTIMATUM - Call me common or easily impressed, but since I (along with most people in America) won't see any of the movies that are nominated for Oscars, what's wrong with naming this film the best?  It was unbelievable.  Between this film and last year's The Good Shepherd, Matt Damon is showing that he can do more with no words than most actors can with entire monologues.  And that will get him nothing from the awards, because they want scenery chewing and over the top parts.  Everything about this movie was great - from the premise to the screenplay to the acting to the action to the look.  

OCEANS THIRTEEN - I loved the first one, learned to like the second one, and thought the third one was brilliant.  It took a chance by going back to visit its greatest success.  That could have just served to highlight its failure, if it had missed the mark.  Instead, it kept the fun and excitement of the first movie, lost the preening of the second one, and added in some more nifty elements.  Good job by all.

LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD - Everything about this was flashing big bright "STAY AWAY - BIG FAILURE AHEAD" signs.  It had been years since the last film.  No one was asking for this one.  They edited to a PG-13.  And Bruce Willis is as hit and miss as you can get.  Instead, by adding in Justin Long, wild stunts, and a frightening realistic premise, the film was crazy fun.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST - This is really just an indictment of the second film.  There was no reason that any of these movies should have sucked.  I'm just glad they didn't pull a Matrix by blowing both sequels.  

SPIDERMAN 3 and SHREK THE THIRD - These movies were disappointing for different reasons.  Spiderman wasn't bad, it just was not want people wanted.  Shrek seemed to lose the mojo it had in the first two.  Either way, neither series is in too much danger.






Dec 23, 2007

Three Birthdays

I am taking a short break from the stunning End of the Year stuff for this post.  Don't worry, I'll pick right back up with those rankings that have you on the edge of your seats.  But I wanted to post this before its relevance was no more.

The week of December 18-25 is an interesting one for me.  As for most people, there is Christmas Eve and Christmas on the 24th and 25th.  Growing up, my Grandma's birthday was on the 23rd.  When my wife, Heather, entered my world, I had another date added to that week.  Her birthday is on the 19th.  And then our daughter was born on the 22nd.  So now, that week has become a big collective celebration highlighted by three birthdays - one at the beginning, one in the middle, one at the end.

The first birthday is Heather's.  This one is always hard.  Part of the reason is that during Christmas, when you have to get stuff for everyone and their mom and their barber, it gets a little tight in the old moneybag.  So, it becomes hard to really let her know how important she is to me through my usual love language - gift giving.  [For more information on love languages, refer to Dr. Gary Chapman's stellar work Five Love Languages.  This blog in no way is brought to you by Dr. Gary Chapman or his ministry.]  I really am amazed at what a wonderful woman I have been blessed to have as my wife.  After nearly seven and a half years of marriage, the newlywed haze is long gone.  But I still sometimes sit there and look at her and can't believe she's my wife.  She always had been the ideal one, but I was sure that I couldn't get her.  Ha ha.  Showed what you get for thinking!  I am not sappy very often - dedicating songs on the radio and writing poetry while wearing a beret and crying, but the new Alicia Keys song No One always reminds me of Heather.  I sing it real loud in the car and bought it for her.  Such a sap.  I guess I figured out how to give her something that communicated my love pretty well (and for just 99 cents.)  Well that and the Exam Krackers books.  [This blog is not sponsored by Exam Krackers.]

The second birthday is my daughter's.  She turned four yesterday.  As she gets older, it gets even more enjoyable to have her as my daughter.  Sure,  there is the natural problems with a child thinking they are in charge.  But she is awesome.  She is so beautiful and funny and smart.  She sings so pretty all the time.  And she runs up to me and hugs me out of nowhere, just to say, "Daddy, I looove you."  As I said last year in her birthday post, I wanted a girl.  I love my boys.  They are incredible and crazy and strong and challenging.  But there is something about a little girl.  I have seen so many girls who were damaged by their dads and by guys.  And I wanted to have a girl so that I could raise her right and help her to be a confident, beautiful, principled woman.  When I look at her, I see those things already being instilled.  It is interesting to see her - even at the age of four - starting to experience emotions and behaviors usually associated with older girls.  She loves to shop and dress up.  You can tell when she kind of "likes" a guy - even when they are 20.  She loves babies.  And she talks about how one day, she'll be grown up and be living on her own - the thought makes her cry (she's not the only one, I guarantee).  I just want this whole thing to slow down.  I don't want to give up her sitting in my lap and falling asleep at night watching the Food Network.  This birthday, while it brings such joy, also carries with it a tiny bit of dread - of the day I'll have to call her to wish her Happy Birthday and send her birthday flowers instead of handing them to her.  For now, I'm going to enjoy Four.

The last birthday is Jesus' birthday on Christmas.  Yes, after many years of ministry I am perfectly aware of the reason this date was picked for the celebration, and that Jesus probably wasn't born then, and all the things to pick holes in Christmas as a religious celebration.  But this is the date that is used, and I end up spending money on presents and dessert, so we'll go with this day.  It is one of the three greatest days there is (the other two being Good Friday and Easter Sunday).  It is the day that God decided to put into motion His plan to restore His relationship with mankind.  He didn't do it with an army or a squadron of angels.  It was with an innocent little baby.  If anything, that showed that the purpose of this act was intimacy and not revolution.  He came in the most inauspicious way possible to change everything from the inside out.  And THAT is the reason I celebrate Christmas.  You could take all the other stuff away (trees, presents, candy, baked goods, savory meats, cider, slobber, drool) and this day STILL would be more important than the rest.  It was the day it all began.  And the world will never be the same.  I know I have readers of this blog who are Jewish, or who have no religious opinion.  So I apologize if this offends you.  I don't apologize for writing about it, though.  It is at the core of who I am.  My job is as a minister, trying to bring the restorative message of the Gospel to people.  My family is founded on the Bible.  My marriage was ordained by God, and is blessed and protected by Him.  And my children are taught right and wrong based on His Word.  So I cannot separate that from MY life, even if the rest of the world can replace the birthday boy's name with an X.  This birthday is amazing because I received the gift, I am the beneficiary, I am the one who celebrates.  All in all, that makes for a pretty rocking week if you ask me.

Dec 21, 2007

KING SIZED BLOGS: 2007 Sports Response

Rather than put my sports response to Greg's picks in another themed post - like Movies, I thought I would do a MiniPost (same as a usual post in every way, except 1/8th the size).
  • RE: Jimmy Johnson's Twofer - You are indeed right, Greg. As all the good church growth bandwagoners say, "It is not in my wheelhouse." I had no idea that Johnson had even switched to NASCAR. I still see him on the FOX NFL show, so I figured he didn't have time for both. And I am sure those helmets mess up his hair. But, bully for him. Lucky that NASCAR, NASTRUCK, NASWAGON are not sports, otherwise Johnson would probably get worn out doing pregame AND driving in one day. [Yes, I am one of those "critics" Greg mentioned. Just because it takes skill and talent to do something well, it does not mean it is a SPORT. I am driving to Jacksonville later today. Wow, I'm an athlete.] So I apologize a great amount to all you NASCAR fans for neglecting your little championship. [Normally, this is where I would make a crack about it being good for me that most NASCAR fans can't read OR use a computer, but I don't want to get pelted with squirrel offal. That's a real word - look it up.]
  • RE: The Colts - I don't know why, probably I'm just evil. I don't like Peyton Manning. Sure, now that he has some of the funniest commercials out there (like this one), I am warming up to him. But I have never liked him as a player. He's in good company. I couldn't stand Dan Marino, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Joe Montana, Dale Murphy, or Jimmy Connors. I loved John McEnroe and hated Ivan Lendl. I loved Michael Jordan and hated Karl Malone and John Stockton. I can't stand Allen Iverson. I don't like Andruw Jones, but like Barry Bonds. It is completely arbitrary. The Colts just get caught up in the Manning-issues.
  • RE: The Rest - I don't hate John Madden. I don't like him as much as Kornheiser, but I always enjoyed Madden as an announcer. I haven't played his video game since 1996. (Although I do think it is hillarious that people think he has anything to do with that game besides putting his name on it.) I think Jon Kitna would do better as a player if he kept his yap shut. I don't know who RayRay and Weldon are, or care.
  • ONE OTHER THING - I just want to go on the record to say I really admire Kevin Smith of UCF for coming back for his senior year. I think he is a great young man who really has his head screwed on straight. His reasons for coming back were noble, admirable, and appreciated. As a Knights fan, I am thrilled he will return because he makes us so much better. That being said, he probably cost himself about $20 million doing it. But, as this article says, (which is ironic that I like this article b/c I usually can't stand this writer), if only there were some more people who valued loyalty and education.

Dec 19, 2007

KING SIZED BLOGS: Best & Worst of 2007 - SPORTS

Well, I knew the first topic would be a dud - thanks to Greg's refusal to be a drooling, dozing, television zombie.  So, let's go with something more up his alley: SPORTS.  First, I would like to make a small correction for the Television article.  I should have had American Idol at least under Best Honorable Mention.  That is probably the show we watch most consistently.  Anywhoooo.  On to sports.  And get ready to get all flustered.  I'm not being Skip Bayless, I swear.  And, no surprise, the worsts far outnumber the bests.

  • KEVIN EVERETT RECOVERY - The more you read about this story, the more crazy and awesome that it becomes.  This Buffalo Bills player should be paralyzed right now.  Instead he is starting to walk and recovering.  It was thanks to God and a doctor who was willing to take risks.  They lowered Everett's body temperature to combat swelling in a very risky and experimental maneuver.  It is amazing to hear of a positive story with a medical professional who was willing to put his entire career on the line for this player.
  • NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS RUN AT 19-0 - I don't care what you think about this team or its coach or anything.  Personally, I hate the Patriots, I think Bill Bellichick is a jerk, I think Tom Brady is a scumbag, and I think most Patriot fans are arrogant turds.  (Sorry Kevin - you are the exception.)  BUT, these things are great for sports.  Everyone follows it.  The ratings for those Pats games are enormous.  And the Super Bowl, if it features an undefeated Patriots against either Dallas or Green Bay could be the highest rated show ever.  I know I watch them every week.  And you have to admire greatness.  They are a GREAT team.  You get to see teams like that every 30 years or so.  Enjoy it.
  • COLLEGE FOOTBALL UPSETS - I love watching all the big-shot BCS schools get tripped up.  It makes College Football fun.  I hated watching college football for a large stretch of the 80s and 90s because the same teams always went 10-1 and hogged the big games.  Of course, while the regular season was exciting, the Bowl Matchups are, eh, um, not?  And the same teams ended up hogging the bowls again.  Oh well.
  • HONORABLE MENTION: UCF's Football run (I had to put that), UF's Gator Slam (ugh), NBA resurgence, Dwight Howard, Bret Favre's resurrection, state of Florida's FIVE bowl teams, Dungy winning Super Bowl
  • BASEBALL STEROIDS: I'm so far beyond being surprised by this story.  It is just disgusting and ridiculous.  How can baseball legitimately hold itself up as a serious sport now?  Hundreds of players have been tagged - either by the Mitchell report or clubhouse rats or drug testing.  The Home Run King is a user.  The 340 game winning Rocket is a user.  The lineup is littered with players who were the dominant ones.  And even the Report has questions - based on shaky witnesses, run by a dude on the Board of the Red Sox (where hardly any Sox players are named and 22 Yanks are!), no fair trial for the accused.  Baseball managed to screw up its efforts to clean itself up after screwing up for years in refusing to clean itself up.  Confused?  Imagine those young fans who have to sort through all the asterisks and wonder why the greatest players of a generation aren't in the Hall of Fame.
  • MICHAEL VICK & ATLANTA FALCONS:  This covers so many points that the Worsts would have stretched to three pages.  First, there is Bobby Petrino weaseling a new contract out of Louisville, only to screw them over and go to Atlanta.  Then, Michael Vick gets busted for dog fighting and destroys his life and the team.  Then you have players verbally attacking Petrino for being a jerk.  Then you have players supporting Vick and getting fined for it.  (Just think how big of jerk Petrino had to be for the players to verbally support a dog killer and try to throw you under the bus.)  When the team was barely limping to the end of the year, Petrino jumps ship (after promising to stay and being refused permission to talk to other jobs) to go BACK to college to browbeat the Arkansas players.  Then the owner of the team starts negotiating to replace the current GM Rich McKay WITHOUT TELLING McKay he wasn't coming back.  Only the negotiations are with such a big name (Parcells) that it hits all the papers - before Big Tuna screws them over to court the Dolphins.  What a crappy franchise.
  • BILLY DONOVAN: I know UF fans are willing to forgive and forget, but the five Orlando Magic fans aren't.  He weasels an extension out of UF to stay and not take whatever job was floating around.  Then he leaves and takes the Magic job.  Then, after announcing it and everything, CHANGES HIS MIND over the weekend and goes back to UF with a nice fat extension.  I know it is going to work out for Orlando.  Ron Jeremy, I mean Stan Van Gundy is a great coach and the Magic started the year great before December happened.  But I think Donovan will never be an NBA coach now.  Unless the Falcons get a team.
  • JOE TORRE'S SENDOFF: Okay.  Your coach leads you to five World Series in six years or something like that.  Then the other teams catch up.  You haven't WON a World Series since 2000.  BUT you still win your division, go to the playoffs, win in the playoffs.  So, you naturally blame the manager.  Threaten to fire him.  And then cut his salary and tell him to earn it back through incentives - only the incentives are the same thing he's been doing every year that wasn't good enough.  WHA?  Then you anger one of the most popular players your team has ever had by publicly saying he isn't good enough to manage - causing him to leave too.  Brilliant, Hank.
  • KOBE BRYANT: So, you are a young superstar.  You have won your third straight NBA title with your fellow superstar and supercoach.  What next?  Force the team to trade that other star, get the coach to quit or get fired, and make the team build everything around you.  Now, you get to be THE MAN.  So you start getting huge stats, but your team is horrible.  Every big game you have seems to hurt the team more.  So you pitch a fit and don't do anything, just to show how bad your team is.  You grumble.  You gripe.  You get the coach to come back.  And then you demand a trade.  Because the team didn't do enough to win - didn't bring in any huge talent.  Wait, you twit.  You HAD huge talent.  You had the best center in 35 years.  You had four future Hall of Famers starting every night and didn't win the title.  YOU forced the trades.  YOU canned the coach.  YOU were behind EVERYTHING.  And now YOU are mad at how it turned out?  Grow up.
  • 2007 HEISMAN:  Let me begin by saying that I am NOT angry Tim Tebow won the Heisman.  I know that he is incredible - absolutely mind boggling on the field.  I know he is a great person.  Heck he saved a bus of nuns and orphans on the way to the ceremony.  Right now he is personally delivering one million toys to children.  What I am saying is how did Kevin Smith get completely ignored for not only the Heisman, but also the Best Running Back awards?  He didn't need to win.  But I don't get how McFadden is one of the top four, when he had 400 yards less than Smith?  Smith is 181 yards from an all-time rushing record (though even I think its bogus to let that stand when 3 extra games went into it).  How is that not worth a top five finish at least?  Ridiculous.
  • HONORABLE MENTION: Pacman Jones, Red Sox winning World Series, Dolphins winning in Week 14, Peyton Manning winning Super Bowl, NBA Gambling Ref, Patriots Camera Work, Don Imus vs. Rutgers
I'm sure I forgot a ton - straighten me out Ramer.

Dec 16, 2007


Well here it is - that time of year again.  Just when you are about to go absolutely crazy trying to get the final details ready for Christmas, here comes KING SIZED BLOGS to push you over.  For those of you who don't remember, this is a joint production between my blog and Greg Ramer's.  Basically, I write some annoying stuff, and then Greg responds.  We cover several topics.  We'll start with Television.  Then we'll also address Sports, Movies, and possibly Music.  If anything else strikes our fancy, it may jump up too.  So let's stick this pig.

To begin with, I want to cover just the calendar year of 2007.  That would be the 2nd Half of 2006/2007 season, the Summer, and the first half of the 2007/2008 season.  Just wanted to say that in case that is helpful to anyone.
  • LOST - Personally, I felt the entire third season was great - even the six episodes from 2006.  But if you remove the six B-grade episodes from the total score, the series was back to "Best Show on Television" status.  Absolutely gut-wrenching and tense, with the richest mythos on television.  The season finale was unbelievable.  It was better than about 95% of all movies.  And the last few episodes managed to make Heroes' finale look like amateur hour.
  • 30 ROCK - Sure the show started a little rough in 2006, but by 2007 the show was the funniest 30 minutes on television.  (Yes, that includes its NBC comedy buddy that is listed next.)  The beginning of this season was even zanier and funnier.  Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, and the rest are absolutely gut-busting.  The episodes are brilliantly written - even addressing things like the Iraqi war, racism, corporate greed without being heavy-handed.  And the guest stars are unbelievable.  Any show that can say Jerry Seinfeld was only the fifth best guest star knows how to stunt cast.
  • THE OFFICE - There are two major challenges of all long-term shows.  First, how do you advance story lines without losing what made the series popular?  And second, how do you become popular and stay "cool"?  These were the battles for The Office.  We'll see how things go overall, but to date they have handled some potential landmine story lines with humor and brilliant writing (Jim & Pam romance, Michael & Jan romance, Ryan's promotion).  There have been some bumps (like the one hour episodes this fall), but overall I laugh -- a lot.
  • BIG BANG THEORY - By far our favorite new show from 2007.  It helps that we are geeks and the show is about geeks.  The laugh track is pretty annoying, especially when getting used to watching no canned laughter on NBC's Thursday shows.  But it is a very very funny show.
  • MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL - I put this on last year too, but 2007 was a brilliant year for MNF.  There have been four legitimate classic-level games this year - ones that make you kick yourself for falling asleep too early in the morning.  And adding Ron Jaworski instead of Joe Theismann was a great move.
  • FOOD NETWORK -   When exactly did a channel about food become one of the best stations on television?  Their roster of newer shows are amazing: Dinner Impossible, Bobby Flay's Throwdown, Feasting on Asphalt, Ace of Cakes, Diners Drive-ins and Dives, Iron Chef America.  And their "Next Iron Chef" short season was six weeks of tension, brilliance, and fun.  Best reality show I've seen in years.  And it had an unexpected outcome.  The guy who was very shaky week one wins the whole thing - we wanted the guy who came in second to win.  But then one his debut episode on Iron Chef, everyone realized why he won.  We actually watch it more than any other channel.  Great stuff.
  • HONORABLE MENTION - Shrek the Halls, Scrubs, Upside Down Show
  • WRITER'S STRIKE - I don't know where I stand on this.  It is very easy to feel like you have to side with the poor writers instead of the greedy billionaire owners.  But the strike has undeniably ruined what could have been a great season.  It makes me wonder if things will ever be the same on television.  And what happens when this goes on for months and months?  I can't wait to see the horrible reality shows we are forced to deal with to fill hours.  On the plus side, we watch a lot less television.  And a lot more Food Network.
  • ESPN - I officially am tired of ESPN.  With the exception of Mike and Mike in the Morning and live sporting events, I can't think of a single show on ESPN that I would even watch.  They began the entire process of sportswriters just being argumentative to get face time.  And they have blown more stories than any other news outlet.  Would CNN or ABC get away with an anchorman insisting that he was sure a corporate CEO was abandoning his company for a rival - the same day as the Annual Meeting - only to be proven wrong?  Yet ESPN did that with LSU's football coach.  Some of the personalities I used to like (Chris Berman, Stuart Scott, Kenny Mayne) have become so arrogant and self-involved that I hate listening to them.
  • YO GABBA GABBA - Seriously, watch this once.  It will scare you forever.
  • HONORABLE MENTION - Cable News Shows, Sopranos Finale, Most of 2007 Season
Now over to Greg for him to tell us how he doesn't watch television.  Come on Greg, get lazier and watch more of the tube.

Dec 12, 2007


I just wanted to go on the record to announce that I am NOT taking the University of Michigan Head Coach of the Football Program position.  While I greatly admire the job that the Wolverines do, I have NO INTENTION of leaving my current position to move to Ann Arbor.  I am COMMITTED to stay here with Defender Ministries and to see it through until the very end.  Thank you.  There will be no time for questions.  I have work to do.

Dec 8, 2007

Changes coming

I have been thinking a lot about it, and I am deciding to make some big changes to ye olde bloge.  I know I have said this many times before, but this time I plan to follow through.  You can expect the following things in the next few weeks:
  • Year End Special: The last few years, this has been done through King Sized Blogs - my two-man effort with Greg Ramer.  If he is interested, I will probably do that again.
  • In the Words of Kids: I am blatantly stealing this from Brad Crawford of the UCF BCM.  Since he has not been able to do this often, I am going to try to do this.  I am going to relate humorous and insightful comments from our kids.  
  • Weirdness Unleashed: This is going to be posts on the strange things I encounter during the week.
  • Top Five: Apparently everyone loves lists.  These are going to be silly, funny, and interesting lists that I make up.  They are not scientific or proven.  But I said so, so in the blog world, that has some validity.  
  • Entertainment Reviews:  I have stopped putting my movie reviews on the blog and have left them on the Rotten Tomatoes link.  But I am going to started double-posting them.  Just because.  
  • Just Thinking: This will be my longer posts on a variety of topics.  
Those are the plans.  Let's see if I can keep it up.