July 2010


Movies&MP&MUSIC&pop culture&television&web15 Jul 2010 11:30 pm

So this week’s mashed potatoes represents something of a renaissance for me in that i’m discussing media that has reminded me why i like each of these delivery vehicles… a movie that was absolutely engrossing and struck an emotional chord… an album that reminds me why music is so powerful… a television show that hits on every level… a book that is inspiring (not in the way you might think)… and last, but not least, a series of commercials – yes, commercials – that gave me at least an hour of entertainment, but represented so much more…

well, what are we waiting for? off we go…

MOVIES: Toy Story 3

Pixar is simply untouchable when it comes to telling stories that resonate with everybody… Toy Story 3 culminates a trio of films that not only bring toys to life, but spurs the imagination of anyone paying attention… these toys find themselves dealing with struggles common to the aging process… we grow old, we search for our identity, we worry about our purpose, and – as represented in this last movie – we come to grips with our mortality…

the gang finds that Andy, their once-faithful owner has grown up and is headed to college… since college kids generally don’t play with Mr. Potato Head and other toys – okay, most college kids (you know who you are) – the gang finds themselves wondering if they’re headed for the trash can or the attic… turns out, they end up with option C, a day care center (a.k.a. retirement home?)… but even that isn’t what it seems and the action begins when Buzz, Jessie, and crew decide they need to escape…

Toy Story 3 is packed with action, filled with the unexpected, and certain to make you fight back a few tears… it’s simply amazing how much emotion can be conveyed through the eyes of toys, how many lessons can be learned about friendship and forgiveness, life and death… one more winner from Pixar…

MUSIC: Wicked Soundtrack

i know, i know… i’m so very late in jumping on this train…i mean, it’s at least five years old by now, right? (seven actually)… hey, i admit, i slept on it – even though many people told me how great it was and a few years ago it was quite popular… (you’re gonna be pop-u-ooo-lar)… and i’ll even admit that it was Glee that got me to check it out… a combination of their version of Defying Gravity and reminders of how absolutely fantastic Kristin Chenoweth can sing…

The songs range from fun and quirky, to serious and inspirational… listening to the album (on repeat for days) has given me a renewed sense of appreciation for music in general and has made me kick myself over and over for not going to see the show on Broadway… i also want to read the book, which has been on my shelf for a few years now, too… Anyway, it’s definitely worth checking out unless you absolutely can’t stand musicals… Stephen Schwartz has a masterpiece here – not that he needs me to tell him that…

TV: Friday Night Lights

in the world of television, there aren’t many shows with better writing, deeper characters, or more gripping plotlines than Friday Night Lights, which recently returned for season four… at least to NBC… i know that it aired previously on DirecTV’s special channel, but those of us without are getting it all now… and given that the main stars of the series “graduated” last season, it’s been amazing to see how fresh and relevant the show has remained…

yes, the show is about football, but that’s simply the premise behind a series that, um, tackles some incredibly difficult themes… this season has included issues of losing loved ones, abortion, and several other moral dilemmas… Also, the show features the most realistic, genuine, and compelling married couple in Coach and Tami Taylor… they argue and fight, but always recognize their love for each other… without giving anything away, the show has proven itself time and time again and this season has provided some of the most powerful moments on screen…

BOOKS: Devil in the White City

Erik Larson has crafted a history book that would’ve made me pay attention in history class growing up… the time is the 1890s and Chicago is on the verge of hosting the World’s Fair… the book, which features some of the finest bit of writing that i’ve read in a while – it’s eloquent and exquisite, describing the scenes in the most compelling ways – explains all the efforts necessary to pull off this enormous event… the fair was the birthplace for many things – Juicy Fruit gum, electrical lighting using alternating current technology, the Ferris wheel, and, oh yeah, American serial killers…

in the shadows of the White City, H.H. Holmes, America’s first serial killer, set up shop and conducted his dark and devious trade, leaving a body count of at least twenty-seven… Larson juxtaposes these two scenes, brilliantly interweaving storylines in a novel-like presentation that makes it seem somewhat difficult to fathom – much less believe… but true as it is, and dark as it may be, it’s definitely a gripping and chilling tale from the turn of the century… certainly America would never be the same again… i still have about 100 pages to go and i am still captivated by each page… and i just can’t get over how well it’s written… would that i could write like that in my own way…

MORE: Old Spice Commercials

seriously, Old Spice commercials… i can’t say that i was sold on the original airing of the “I’m on a horse” commercial… it did grow on me in a strange and unexplanable way, but even then i thought it was just the sheer idiocy of it all… with the follow up launching a couple weeks ago, the ad team apparently felt that they could do even more… so, for the last two days, the copy writers, camera crews, and social media gurus, basically took over the internet, launching a real-time, interactive campaign that found Old Spice Man answering tweets and comments with customized video spots throughout the day… reportedly, the team produced just shy of 200 videos over the course of two days and garnered an audience of around 6 million viewers… and these, my friends, were almost all comic genius…

i can’t recall a time that i was more okay with a shirtless dude talking at me for hours on end… that he stayed in character and that the writing team was churning out scripts and the video team getting them produced in an estimated rate of seven minutes per spot is simply astounding… unbelievable impact and respect earned, though i’m not sure if it was more for the ad team or Old Spice… either way, some of these are great… (My favorites so far, include @Haley (his daughter), @Demi Moore, and @GStephanopoulos)… the good news is that this success will probably change the way people advertise… other companies will surely launch similar campaigns… the bad news: other companies will surely launch similar campaigns… and they probably won’t be nearly as funny… well done Old Spice and Old Spice Man… and i mean that sincerely…

peace… love… bdg…

Bookshelf08 Jul 2010 11:09 am

i know i’ve been quiet this week, but i’ve been away, or simply wiped out from the heat wave… anyway… here’s a quick update that continues a daisy-chain that reached me from writer, editor, and cousin Jodi Whisenhunt… what is on my bookshelf?

1. How many books have you read so far in 2010?

Counting books that i’ve read exclusively in 2o1o, i’ve turned the pages of The Gospel According to Lost (Chris Seay), Saint (Ted DeKker), The Last Battle (CS Lewis), The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (CS Lewis), Plan B (Pete Wilson), Will the World End in 2012 (Raymond Hundley), and The Last Christian (David Gregory), which totals a pathetic seven… HOWEVER, i also FINISHED I Am America (And So Can You) (Stephen Colbert), Live from Middle America: Rants from a Red-State Comedian (Brad Stine), The Magician’s Nephew (CS Lewis), and The Silver Chair (CS Lewis), all of which i began between November and December of o9…

So, short answer, somewhere between seven and eleven books so far…

2. What percentage is fiction/ non-fiction?

It appears to be around 45% non-fiction, leaving 55% fiction.

3. What’s your favorite 2010 read so far?

I’ve really enjoyed reading some of the Narnia books to the littles (when they sit still long enough), but overall, I’ve been most taken in by a book I’m reading right now – Devil in the White City (Erik Larson) of which I’ll be writing more in the coming days…

4. What are you currently reading?

Besides the aforementioned, I’m currently reading: The Principle of the Path (Andy Stanley), Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll), Hear No Evil (Matthew Paul Turner), Weird Ideas That Work (Robert Sutton), A Horse and His Boy (CS Lewis), and i’m listening to the audiobook for Stuff Christians Like (Jonathan Acuff)

5. What’s at the top of your to-be-read pile?

at the very top… The Jesus You Can’t Ignore (John MacArthur) and Chosen (Ted DeKker) – followed closely by the rest of DeKker’s “Lost Books”…

well, that was fun… now it’s your turn… go ahead and put your answers below as a comment or feel free to snag the questions and post them on your own blog (and link below) so i can see what’s on YOUR bookshelf…

peace… love… bdg…