Archives for category: films

Being a fan of Andy Samberg’s work (Lettuce, his work as Blizzy B), I was really excited to watch Hot Rod.  While I enjoyed it the first time through, the more I think about some of the scenes, the more I appreciate their brilliance!

“Was that because of us?” + “Things started off super positive, then it just got crazy” + John Farnham’s You’re the Voice = Comedic gold

The Europe soundtrack, the whispy stache, “may your hammer be mighty,” the punch-kick at 1:35, “is that a throwing star?!”…

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However, I’m not so sure about the new Nissan Cube.

I love me some boxy-looking cars, but there’s something about the asymmetric back window that screams, “No, seriously, we’re young and hip and with it. Kids these days love the wacky imbalanced look.” If I remember correctly, the Japanese version of the Cube I saw last year had normal windows.  And I really liked that version.

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Last Friday, after one one of our community‘s weekday gatherings, we watched Religulous by Bill Maher.

Some friends from our community wanted to see if he brought up any legitimate concerns about Christian faith, and to see if these were the same kinds of questions their friends might have.  The short answer: no, he didn’t really bring up anything new and no, it’s hard to imagine friends being as hostile and derisive as he was throughout the film.

Without trying to pop-analyze Bill Maher, it did seem that much of his distaste for organized religion — the Catholocism of his youth, in particular — came from a place of personal hurt.  I think many of us, unfortuantely, can relate to the hurt, frustration and anger of wrongs done in the name of Jesus or His people.

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My wife led an overnight sleepover at church this weekend for our elementary ministry.  She did an incredible job pastoring and leading the kids — and all while being very sick all week.  As everyone who knows both of us always likes to remind me, I’m a very lucky man!

After the day’s activities concluded, the kids stayed up to watch Evan Almighty.  While brushing my teeth, I overheard two of the boys talking about the portrayal of God by Morgan Freeman in the film.  One said to the other, “I never pictured that God would be a person.”  The other replied that he thought it was just because it was a movie.  Thoughtfully, the first boy replied, “But what does it mean then that we are made like God?”

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… so it’s not too late to add to my favorite things of 2007 list, right? Well, even if it is, here are some things that I missed the boat on last year but am totally on board with now!

Let’s Stay Friends, by Les Savy Fav

Let’s Stay Friends should have been on everyone’s “best of 2007” lists and is everything a great punk album should be [h/t: J. Evans for pointing me in this direction]. I’ll let Pitchfork break down the play-by-play but I will say that LSF is an incredible album, diverse in all the right ways (and not just because Fred Armisen plays drums on a couple of tracks). Apparently, their live show is legendary (maybe you’ll get to ride horsey with them or listen to them lecture sometime soon).

Mirrored, by Battles

Battles features former members of Helmet and Don Caballero, although they sound more like the King of All Cosmos getting all mathy with Slint and a cryogenically unfrozen James Brown in the distant future. Although I might describe their vocals as if Simon ran off to join Hoover (he’s already got the glasses) and convinced them to merge into Q and Not U, Battles is quickly becoming one of my new favorite bands. Thanks again, J!

Once, the film and soundtrack

At another friend’s recommendation, my wife and I rented Once. In this age of big budget blockbusters, lengthy epic trilogies and overwrought period pieces, Once is a refreshingly quiet, small film. There is something so lovely about the film; it’s hard to quite put my finger on it. The soundtrack is soaring and still, genuinely heartfelt in our time of manufactured emo angst — my wife bought it for me as a Valentine’s gift. One day I’ll learn to play Falling Slowly properly.

Just thought I’d share an excellent song & video from the band +/- (plus minus). This band includes members of Versus, who were part of the original Ear of the Dragon tour back in the day. And, even further back in the day (back in the day-er?), I went to high school with some of the band members. +/- has an indie/electronica vibe but they are no Postal Service knockoff; they’ve been around since 2001. This video won an award at last year’s San Diego Asian Film Festival.

San Diego Asian Film Festival

Speaking of which, this year’s SDAFF is coming up in October. Not sure if I can make it, but the film festival schedule looks fantastic. Of particular interest to me are Air Guitar Nation and West 32nd.

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As an aside, I love the +/- website address: plusmin.us — sort of like del.icio.us. I get a kick out of these domain hack web addresses. In addition to the corny humor, sometimes these sites just make sense. For example, whocalled.us is pretty much what it sounds like. According to their site, a person would visit when, “The phone is ringing, and I don’t recognize the number. All Caller ID says is, “NAME UNAVAILABLE”. Please help me figure out who is calling and what they want.”

Over the last couple of years, I have been drawn more & more toward the modern design aesthetic. I definitely want to live in a space that is comfortable and inviting — modernity has been caricatured for being cold and outlandish (think: the oddball Schoeners sketch from Saturday Night Live featuring Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph as strange Euro ultra-mods). I think I am drawn to the simplicity, clean lines and serenity the best of modern design and architecture can evoke.

algue.jpg

What I took away from the film Soylent Green was not the socio-political commentary about class, age or the environment — no, my takeaway was an abiding love for this chair, featured briefly in one of the apartments from the film. In fact, to this day, although its proper name is the Barcelona chair I insist on referring to it as “the Soylent Green chair.” However, being able to afford even a “cheap” knockoff is kind of a pipe dream on our limited budget, so we have been forced to find creative ways to express our design aesthetic.

Recently, we have turned our attention towards creating some interest on our wall space. Blik is a great source for vinyl wall graphics — affordable and easy to install. Back in OC, we paired the blik Fly design with an accent wall we had painted a deep shade of aqua to dramatic effect (picture this image, but in reverse). We had been considering a couple of whimsical designs for our current place: the blik Zipper (vaguely reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s Beat It jacket) and Me, Myshelf and I (fake bookshelves, complete with fake book & vase graphics). In the end, though, both designs are a little bit too smirky or hipster-ironic for our tastes.

We did, however, recently install a small DIY art project that we picked up at My Own Space in La Jolla. The seaweed-like design above is called Algue, created by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec. As highbrowfurniture describes, “Algue is interlocking plastic ‘branches’ that can be easily assembled to create web-like wall hangings, freeform sculptures, organic scrims or dramatic room dividers. You become your own designer!”

We had some good friends stay with us this past weekend, and their five-year old daughter asked my wife what was hanging on the wall. Here is an approximate recap of their conversation:

Child, pointing at the Algue hanging on the wall: Eemo (aunt), what’s that?

Adult: Well, you know when you go into the ocean, there’s seaweed. It’s supposed to look kind of like that.

Child: (Silence. Confused expression.)

Adult: It doesn’t look like that to you?

Child: (More silence. More confusion.)

Adult: Well, it’s art. It can look like whatever you want it to look like. That’s what art is — you get to decide what it means.

Child: (Further silence. Extreme confusion.)

Adult: It’s seaweed.

Child’s father, shouting from a distance: Are you trying to teach my daughter about art?!

We ended up choosing the white Algue to hang on our white walls. Reminds me of the scene in Spinal Tap, where Nigel Tufnel looks at the edited cover of their new album (which replaced the horribly offensive cover “art” with an all-black cover) and asks, “It’s like how much more black could this be? And the answer is none, none more black.”

We have a really amazing bunch of youth group students here at our church. For our recent VBS, out of a youth group of fifteen, we had twelve of them helping (it would have been thirteen, but one was out of town for several weeks). An 80% participation rate… great stuff! I’ve been bragging about them to everyone I know :)

A couple of our elders wanted to treat all of the volunteers to a nice dinner at Todai on a couple Sundays ago — which was awesome! — but the restaurant didn’t open until 5:30 pm. So, with most of the afternoon to wait, we decided to catch a film together after church. We were this close to allowing me to nerd out over Transformers, but we got there a little bit too late and it had already sold out. [A quick aside: If anyone would like to join me on this nerd-venture in SD, please let me know.] So, we ended up watching Evan Almighty together…

While I must admit that I like most films, I really enjoyed this movie — as did the students and youth group teachers who joined us. I know some people have criticized the film for being simplistic or preachy, but it was lots of fun. There was one scene, in particular, that surprised me by how it affected me. Lauren Graham’s character has just left Steve Carrell, and finds herself unknowingly engaged in a conversation with God (Morgan Freeman) at a diner. Here is what God says to her:

Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?

Many young people want to be great in God’s kingdom — which is a noble goal. But we often send the wrong message to them by upholding bigger! flashier! cooler! as the standard for greatness. Maybe, instead of zapping us with a bolt of greatness, God gives us opportunities to attempt great things for Him (thanks, William Carey!) in our everyday lives.

For example, on Saturday, September 29, 2007, walktheirwalk is hosting a walk-a-thon to raise funds to build a school and provide fresh water “for children in Zambia, Africa who have been orphaned as a result of the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS and extreme poverty.” [h/t: Marko]. While I admit the prospect of walking 12 miles makes me want to take a nap already, I am humbled and moved to know that there are kids there who make this walk every single day to and from school. And that makes me want to attempt something great for God. Members of our youth group will be there. I will be there, even if I need to be dragged across the finish line. If you are in the San Diego area, let’s do this!