Friday, January 25, 2013

I Know, I Know, 2 Weeks Without a Post

1. So I skipped last Friday because Alex had been home with the flu from the previous Saturday - Wednesday and by Wednesday, I had it, too. It was a mild case, since I'd had the vaccine, but it was enough to slow me down. Alex, being allergic to eggs, gets to skip the flu shot, which does not make Miranda happy, but since she's the only one who's been well in the month of January, she should be grateful.

However, since I was feeling better last Friday, my father and I went to see Zero Dark Thirty and have lunch together, but then I woke up Saturday feeling yucky again, so I laid around, watching the Australian Open. Of course, I've been watching the Open for the past 2 weeks and will be very sad when it's all done on Sunday and I have to wait for the next big tournament. Maybe I need the Tennis Channel.

Now, you all are wondering, when on earth did Sarah become a tennis fan? During the Olympics last summer. I watched the medal rounds and got hooked. I am a HUGE Novak Djokovic fan (he's not only a great player, he seems like a really neat guy) and also love to watch Andy Murray and Roger Federer play. But I'm two days behind in my viewing so DON'T TELL ME THE SCORES YET! I'll get there this weekend.

2. So about the movie, Zero Dark Thirty is an excellent movie. Jessica Chastain and Jason Clarke give brilliant performances (I know, everybody loves Jessica but with Clarke, Kathryn Bigelow has found another performer, like Jeremy Renner who worked with her on The Hurt Locker, who is good in everything he does and regularly steals the show from everybody else) and all the supporting players are good, too. But this movie asks a lot of uncomfortable questions, which is why, if you've seen any entertainment news in the last month, it's quite controversial.

I don't think any of the creators of the film support torture; I think they showed occasions of it in a way that it is difficult to make excuses for. And it is difficult to maintain the fiction that we are good Americans and good Americans would never do that sort of thing, when we know things like this were done to people like this, even if these scenes are fictitious. You can believe that every resource available should have been used to hunt Osama bin Laden down and kill him, or you can disagree, and believe that almost 10 years after 9/11, it didn't matter anymore. You can decide that in times of desperation, any means necessary of obtaining actionable information is valid and acceptable. Or you can look at the water boarding and starving and physical beating of "detainees" as never worth whatever information it might bring you.

Because I believe humanity is inherently broken and that any good we are or do comes from the grace of God, I am not surprised by what lengths people will go to get what they want. I make no excuses for the evil done by one person to another; it is human nature. And as a parent with a son who's been particularly recalcitrant in recent weeks to any suggestions of school or home work, I know a taste of desperation. But I also know that a line must be drawn delineating what is acceptable behavior and what is not, in my life, in my children's lives, and, I hope, in the lives of those who fight for my country.

I wanted to do a whole blog post entitled "Friendly Persuasion" about the connection I see between the movie and my life as a parent and had all these great ideas that I discussed with my husband, but then the tennis tournament started and I got distracted. I am glad Bigelow made the movie and the scenes of Maya as the only female in a room full of people, where she's trying desperately to be heard, are especially poignant considering that this sort of thing must happen to Bigelow herself, all the time. And I actually enjoy watching the horror of politicians who, when seeing this movie, realize now that they may have some responsibility for those who were tortured under the auspices of Uncle Sam. I want them to feel uncomfortable, because torture is wrong. But, being politicians, I'm sure they'll forget about it soon enough.

3. Speaking (writing) of movies, I may see Les Miz tomorrow (finally!), Parker on Sunday and The Last Stand with my dad next Friday. Here's hoping.

4. I've been spending a lot of time at Strive Physical Therapy this week. Because of the flu, I cancelled all of my appointments last week. So I was back there on Monday afternoon and my therapist decided that what was causing the ankle pain was my back being out, so now I'm doing a whole bunch of exercises to strengthen the muscles in my back. It leaves me a rubbery mess, but it does seem to be helping.

5. On Tuesday morning, my mother and I went to the Mt. Laurel municipal complex to go to traffic court in hopes that the case stemming from the accident in December would be settled. And it was: the other driver pleaded guilty to whatever charges she was given so now the insurance companies can finish their wrangling. And I didn't have to do anything. But it was interesting to be there and listen to the judge for a while. He seemed to be a good man, stern but fair.

6. The ladies who clean my house came Wednesday, which was good because the dust bunnies were rolling down the hall again. I didn't get to all of the piles, but I never do.

7. The snow has started falling here. It's not supposed to be much, which is good because I have plans for the weekend. However, if we have to stay in, I have the rest of the Australian Open to watch. And lots of Valentines to write.

Here's Jen.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

7 Things I Did This Week Instead of Blogging

One of my loyal readers (my mother-in-law, if you must know) was harassing me Friday afternoon for my lack of blog postage, so here are some of the things I've been doing this week, instead of writing my usual 7 Things on Friday mornings:

  1. As a result of the my car accident on December 7, the injury in my right ankle from December of 2011 was re-aggravated, so I am back at Strive Physical Therapy in Marlton 3 times a week. And I thought my schedule was plenty full before. Still, if you have to go to PT, I recommend this shop. The staff is awesome and the place has a great atmosphere. And they work you hard because they really want to recover. 
  2. The second and fourth Friday mornings of the month I am at Hope Church, participating in a small group called Raising Hope, which caters to women with school age kids, after you've graduated from MOPS. Currently, we're watching and discussing the video series by Lysa TerKeurst based on her book Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions. Lysa is the Director of Proverbs 31 Ministries, something I am only just becoming familiar with, but I am really appreciating both the tone of her video (you screw up, I screw up, but we can all be helped, together, by Christ's love and remembering a few things he's told us to help us through tough times) and her honesty. She had a sale recently so I was able to get the book on the Kindle app for my phone for $4. 
  3. Youth Group started up again last Sunday night and we kicked off 2013 with an 80's theme night (I wore a Phantom of the Opera sweatshirt, Marshall's Les Miz cast jacket and enough make-up for three people; sorry, no photos were recorded) and we had fantastic small and large group meetings. My small group is starting with Galatians 5:22-3 as a jumping off point to talk about what our  Christian faith looks like and how it affects our real life relationships with each other, but especially female friends. I know this scripture has been all over my Facebook page in recent weeks, but here it is again:                                                                                                                                                                            But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Galatians 5:22-3 (MSG)
  4. Last night I published my first survey of 2013 movies here. If you missed the wrap-up of 2012 movies, that's here. Also, my father and I are supposed to go see Zero Dark Thirty tomorrow morning, but Alex has a really loud cough and keeps threatening to run a fever, so I think I'll be taking him to the doctor, instead. Dang. Marshall and I still haven't seen Les Miz because someone in the house keeps getting sick. 
  5. Simcha Fisher had an absolutely hilarious post this week. If you missed it, read it here.
  6. My mother-in-law knew I was a bit glum this week since Alex was being a perfect beast at school (I can't remember the last time he had to be physically restrained at school, much less multiple times during the week so that he wouldn't hurt himself or the staff) so she brought me some fun Christina Dodd books to cheer me. That was Friday afternoon. Before I went to bed Friday evening I had read 3 of the 4: Trouble in High Heels, Tongue in Chic, Thigh High and Danger in a Red Dress. And I was reminded why I don't read very often: I get so drawn into the novel I'm reading that I forget to eat dinner and have difficulty looking after everyone else in the house. And then don't sleep well. I am only about 50 pages into the last book and hesitant to sit down and read it when there is so much else needing to get done.
  7. Yesterday afternoon, Marshall and I actually took the Christmas tree down and put everything away. And it was only January 12th. Pretty shocking, I know, from the house of Procrastinators-R-Us. But don't worry, the outside lights will stay on until Valentine's Day. The cold and dark of January is easier for me to get through when we still have lights up outside.
Jen Fulwiler is doing a bit better, but please keep praying for her and the baby she's carrying.  And her good friend Hallie has a page where you can send a financial donation to help out the Fulwiler family. But remember, prayers are something everyone can contribute, regardless of their financial situation. Please pray for them.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Movies to Look Forward To

It was a tough week around here, although I'm sure I will blog about that later. In the meantime, here's a glance at the movies I'm looking forward to in 2013.

January 11
Zero Dark Thirty (I wasn't sure if I wanted to see this in the theatre until my father said, Hey, let's go see this movie together next week. So we're going Monday morning.)

January 18
The Last Stand (doesn't this just look like fun?)

January 25
Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters (I know, it looks awful, but it does have Jeremy Renner.)
Parker (Jason Statham and J-Lo could be interesting together.)

February 1
Warm Bodies (I am not a fan of zombie-fied entertainment--World War Z just looks yucky--but this take on Romeo & Juliet looks fun.)

February 15
A Good Day To Die Hard (I have mixed feelings about this one; I only made it through the first half hour of Live Free or Die Hard before I got bored and turned it off, Timothy Olyphant notwithstanding. Maybe.)

March 8
Dead Man Down (This is a maybe; Noomi Rapace is an amazing actress, but she might not be worth it.)
Oz the Great & Powerful (Also a maybe; could be interesting.)

March 29
G.I. Joe: Retaliation (Don't care what the reviews say, I'm gonna see it anyway.)

April 12
42 (Surely you don't have to be a baseball fan to be a fan of Jackie Robinson; looks awesome.)

April 19
Oblivion (Looks like lots of fun.)

May 3
Iron Man 3 (Also looks awesome.)

May 10
The Great Gatsby (Looks pretty. Might be good. I often like Baz Luhrmann. Wait and see.)

May 17
Star Trek Into Darkness (One of the films I'm most looking forward to in 2013).

May 24
Fast & Furious 6 (Come on, the last one was a lot of fun.)
Epic (From the people who made Rio, my favorite movie of 2011. Could be lots of fun.)

June 7
Much Ado About Nothing (Joss Whedon + my favorite Shakespearean play = AWESOME! I have told my family I'm going to see it every night the first week it's open.)

June 14
Man of Steel (Not a huge Superman fan but early buzz is good.)

June 21
Monsters University (I still love the first one, even though I've seen it at least 50 times. Here's hoping Pixar has broken their streak of mediocrity.)

July 5
Despicable Me 2 (Loved the first one; hope this is as good.)
The Lone Ranger (Looks strange, but so did the first Pirates movie, and that turned out to be good.)

July 12
Pacific Rim (Trailer looks really cool, and it has Idris Elba. I even like him in bad films.)

July 26
The Wolverine (Could work; could fail horribly like the last one.)

August 2
Red 2 (I really liked the first one, but not sure if the sequel will work.)

August 16
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (I love the books, but the first movie was not great.)

September 6
Riddick (There were moments in the previous movie that worked, but it didn't work as a whole. Maybe this one will be better.)

November 1
Ender's Game (I only read this book a few months ago and found the kid-on-kid violence pretty hard to take, but it is a compelling story.)

November 8
Thor: The Dark World (More Tom Hiddleston as Loki? Sign me up!)

December 13
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (I liked the first Hobbit movie; it just wasn't as breathtaking as The Fellowship of the Ring. But few films are.)

December 27
Jack Ryan (I loved the books when I was much younger, but disliked every film adaptation after the first one. However, I love Kenneth Branagh's films, so I will probably give him the benefit of the doubt.)

And that's the list, so far.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Too Cold

1. Weird week. We had Pepper the pup through Saturday night, but my cousin got sick and went home early, taking her dog with her. Alex and Miranda, who had been promised a dog through Tuesday, were disappointed. But it was a good look at how the kids behaved with a dog in the house. Alex was fine, Miranda had to be watched to be sure she was allowing Pepper to be undisturbed when the dog was done playing. That's probably just a case of maturity. But I am still hesitant to have a dog that could be carried around by my kids; I would feel safer with another hound that outweighed them.

2. School started up again on Wednesday and Miranda was thrilled to go back since she missed most of the last week in December but Alex was irate and has been torturing his teaching team since. When he came home from school yesterday, I announced I was taking his crayons (the ones he has peeled and sorted from the huge pile of crayons we've accumulated in the last few years; Miranda isn't allowed to touch them; he carries them around in a plastic box that he stole from my mother) for the night and he could earn them back by being good at school on Friday. And if he wasn't, I would take the birds for the weekend.

You remember his birds, his Angry Birds Plush Toys that we so carefully packed and took with us to San Diego last summer? He loves his birds. But Mean Ol' Mommy wants an end to the school problems.

3. Simcha was really funny yesterday. Don't miss it.

4. CNN has a great preview of movies for 2013. I will probably refer to it when I make up my own list. In the next week or so.

5. If you've been looking for our 2012 Christmas letter, it isn't finished yet. We had it mostly done when the car crash happened December 7th, and haven't yet rewritten the content. Sorry. Hopefully, it will be done in the next couple of weeks.

6. Hallmark movie channel did a Perry Mason movie marathon over the weekend and I watched half a dozen or so. I liked some of them but realized what they were trying to be but couldn't quite reach was a Morse mystery. Raymond Burr was good, but John Thaw and Kevin Whately are better. Regular readers of my blog will hardly be shocked by this conclusion.

7. Many of the blogs I follow have long lists of the books they read or have read this year. I have lists of television shows or movies I've seen. I'm feeling a little insecure that while I love to read, the visual medium is easier to fit into my life right now. Because when I pick up a book, usually a novel, it is a rare circumstance that I can put it down before finishing the book. Or am I just making excuses? Or is this just a reality with the level of stress that my life has borne in the last few years? I haven't even had the emotional energy to reread the Castle book series, including the new one that has been sitting on my shelf gathering dust since its publication in September. Not sure what this means, if anything.

Jen has been in the hospital much of the week with blood clots. Please pray for her. Hallie is hosting today.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 Movie Wrap-Up

Tom Hiddleston as Loki just makes me smile, every time. 

Anyway, before I finish my list of 2012 movies, my favorite commentary on the year's movies is on WHYY's Radio Times, when host Marty Moss-Coane has the same two friends on every year to talk about the year's movies. Harry at AintitCool has a much more lengthy list. And Roger Ebert's list is always good.

2012 Movies

January 20
Haywire (This is sitting on my DVR, waiting for me to watch, as it has been for weeks. Somehow, I just haven't felt the urge.)

Underworld: Awakening (even though the first one was only mildly entertaining and the second one was so problematic I had to refer to Wikipedia's plot summary to figure out what was happening while I was watching the film on cable, Kate Beckinsale is a lot of fun to watch run around in black leather with double pistols. Maybe on DVD.)

Coriolanus (Marshall and I watched it last month and it was BRILLIANT! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Ralph Fiennes takes your breath away, both in acting and directing, and Gerard Butler and Brian Cox were perfect. I remarked to my husband afterwards that I didn't care how many money-making-but-poorly-reviewed romantic comedies Butler did if he would do something like this in-between.)

February 10
Safe House (Watched it last weekend. The critics are right, Denzel and Ryan are amazing, but the story doesn't quite serve them.)

March 9
John Carter (of Mars. It was awesome! You should have seen it. Rumors of its failure were greatly exaggerated.)

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (looks really sweet. Maybe on DVD.)

March 16
21 Jump Street (Yet another just waiting to be watched.)

March 30
Wrath of the Titans (I saw it right before it left theatres; they ran the movie just for me. It was pretty but rather hard to follow if you know a lot about Greek mythology. If you knew nothing about the origins of the characters, I'm sure it was fun. As always, Sam Worthington and Rosamund Pike are very appealing.)

Mirror Mirror (I went to see it with my mother and really liked it.)

April 13
Lockout (I really enjoyed it even if my husband choked on the serious scientific flaws in the story line. Guy Pearce was so amusingly irreverent and his chemistry with Maggie Grace was remarkable as I've never thought much of her acting. Lennie James was also good, as always.)

April 27
Safe (I did see it in theatres and while it did have plenty of plot holes, Jason Statham is still as appealing as ever)

The Pirates! Band of Misfits (from the makers of Shaun the Sheep, got great reviews but was geared for older kids so we did not see it as a family. Maybe when it comes out on DVD we can watch it together and tackle it in pieces.)

May 4
The Avengers (I did see it twice in the theatre and it was just as good the second time as it was the first. And it was the first movie we bought on BluRay. Definitely favorite movie of the year.)

May 18
Battleship (Tried to watch it last weekend; didn't make it through 5 minutes. Yuck.)

May 25
Men in Black III - (It was really fun and sweet and we had a good time; Josh Brolin was brilliant as a younger Tommy Lee Jones.)

June 1
Snow White & the Huntsman (I dragged my poor husband to see it and we did not like it. Here's why.)

June 9
Prometheus (this is the movie Marshall is most looking forward to in the summer of 2012 and while we liked it, we weren't thrilled. Here's Steven Greydanus to explain why.)

June 22
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (I really enjoyed it, more than I thought I would, and here's why. And the scene on the burning bridge with the train at the end is show-stopping.)

Brave (The story just didn't interest us and the reviews were good but not overwhelmingly so; wait for DVD.)

July 6
The Amazing Spider-Man (Even though this picture has transfixed me for months I still haven't managed to see it. I am going to try to watch it this week.)

July 20
The Dark Knight Rises (We saw it in IMAX, which means my brain felt like it was still spinning for hours afterwards. We had mixed feelings and here's why.)

August 3
The Bourne Legacy (Basically, I'll watch Jeremy Renner in just about anything. And he was good, but either the part didn't give him much to work with or the director was lacking. He's a lot more interesting in Avengers than he is in this, not to mention Hurt Locker or MI: Ghost Protocol.)

Total Recall (It was pretty and I like Colin Farrell, but it just kinda left me empty.)

August 17
The Expendables 2 (the first one was amusing; the second one kinda wore out what was interesting in the first one. The best parts of it were Liam Hemsworth and Nan Yu, although you can tell everyone's having a good time in this definitely over the top film.)

September 21
Dredd (Karl Urban is excellent and it's a good film, but definitely on the gory side, even more than AL:VH.)

September 28
Looper (never managed to see it; DVD)
Hotel Transylvania (still want to see it)

October 12
Argo (It's on so many Top 10 lists for the year, but it left town before I could see it. Dang.)

November 2
Wreck-It Ralph (still want to see this.)

November 9
Skyfall (An excellent film; still need to see it again with my husband. First show was with my dad; family tradition.)

November 16
Lincoln (I know it's good, but it can wait for DVD.)

November 21
Rise of the Guardians (probably DVD.)

December 14
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (I enjoyed it, although we saw it without the hyper-realistic film stuff.)

December 19
Zero Dark Thirty (I know it's a good film, but it would require a lot of emotional energy, like Hurt Locker did.)

December 21
Jack Reacher (still want to see this.)

December 25 
Les Miserables (Got sick last week so couldn't see it when babysitting was arranged. Next week.)