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Jen’s parents (and grandma) were in town for the weekend.  It was really great to see them. On Sunday they babysat our sweet little girl so we could go on a date.  My lovely wife acquiesced to my request to spend our date night watching the new Batman film – The Dark Knight Rises.

Dark Knight Rises Poster

There will be no spoilers, because this is how I felt before I saw it.

The film was excellent.  I think I liked it better than The Dark Knight.  Joker was a great villain, but I think Bane was even better.  Bane was more believable as a villain, and thus, more terrifying.  Zealots like Bane exist in far greater quantities than murderous, psychopaths like the Joker.  In honor of this great film, I have collected on this post various cool/funny/entertaining things pertinent to The Dark Knight Rises. Enjoy…

In Honor of the Voices of the Batman Series:

Fact: Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy put together some of the best voices in film.  For a long while I’ve said that you could have an amazing film if you just got Liam Neeson, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Sean Connery to sit in a room and talk.  Christopher Nolan got three out of four in his films.  Also, Heath Ledger and Tom Hardy developed great voices for their respective villains.  Here are some examples.

Liam Neeson:

I loved Liam Neeson’s performance of Ra’s al Ghul.   Here is a list of the Top 10 Liam Neeson performances (I don’t know if I agree, but it gives a nice glimpse at the versatility of Liam Neeson).

Michael Caine

Michael Caine was brilliant in all the Batman films.  I mean “brilliant” in both the British and American senses.  Here is Michael Caine imitating Michael Caine.

Morgan Freeman:

Although a relatively small role in the films, Morgan Freeman’s Lucius Fox character is incredibly endearing.  Don’t believe me, go watch The Dark Knight Rises and get back with me.

Gary Oldman:

Gary Oldman does a great American accent for Commissioner Gordon.  I mean, he usually sounds like this:

Tom Hardy as Bane:

Even though some people found Bane’s voice difficult to understand, I think Tom Hardy gave a masterful performance. (See 1:00 mark)

Heath Ledger as  the Joker/Tom Waits:

Lots of people have been posting a video of Tom Waits and saying how much Heath Ledger’s Joker sounds like him. I completely agree. Here they are side by side:

How Much Would it Cost to be Batman in Real Life (Original Source)

The Lion King in the Spirit of The Dark Knight Rises

I hope you’ve enjoyed this Batman sharefest. Until later friends…

It has been a long time since I last blogged.  Life is busy.  Between my regular job, tutoring, and preparing for the school year, I am quite busy.  We have had to take our daughter to a lot of doctor’s appointments, but she is progressing well.  We haven’t been able to get out much, but life is good.  Due to the massive heat that oppressed our area for several weeks, we have not been able to go out as a family much.  As we thought about what to do while stuck in the house, we decided to try out the 30-Day Free Trial from Netflix. We can watch Netflix on our tv through our Wii, which is pretty sweet.

Netflix Wii

I doubt we’ll sign up for the $8/month subscription at the end of the 30 days.  I have a feeling we will have watched most of what Netflix has to offer that we like by then.  Plus, I don’t really want to add another bill a month.  Since this has been a record-hot month, and since we have been debating continuing the subscription, we have worn out our Netflix Instant Queue this month.  Here are some of my favorites that we have watched.

My Favorite Things on Netflix Thus Far (in no particular order)

Deadliest Warrior (tv series)

Deadliest Warrior Cast

Deadliest Warrior is simply a manly show.  It tests the killing power of various type of warriors – both ancient and modern – and pits two warriors against one another in a battle simulation.  Some of the matchups include: Samurai vs. Viking, William Wallace vs. Shaka Zulu, KGB vs. CIA, etc.  I realize that these tests aren’t necessarily that accurate in reflecting who would win in a one-on-one deathmatch, but I love watching all the different fighting styles and learning about different weapons.  This is a show Jen does not watch with me, but it works great for the times that I give Lily a bottle late at night.

Troll Hunter (film)

Troll Hunter Poster

Troll Hunter? Seriously?  Yes.  I first saw the trailer for this a couple of years ago.  I thought it looked awful….yet appealing.  My friend Peter watched it on Netflix a while back and liked it.  So, one night I watched it.

This was the first Norwegian film I’ve ever watched.  It purports to be a documentary.  It has a certain Blair Witch feel to it, except not as jerky and it is not scary.  I really enjoyed this film.  The CG Trolls were really well done.  The dialogue (or at least the English subtitles) was clever.  If you like fantasy films, there’s a good chance you’ll be entertained by this.

Downton Abbey (tv series)

Downton Abbey cast

I initially watched Downton Abbey because Jennifer wanted to watch it.  I have really enjoyed it though.  The character development is great (e.g., we hate Thomas and love Anna).  The plot lines are engaging. Plus, I enjoy the historicity of it.  Early 1900s England was in the midst of a fascinating political and cultural history.  Compared to Deadliest Warrior and Troll Hunter, Downton Abbey might seem a sissy choice, but it has been well worth our time.

Sherlock (tv series)

Sticking to the British public television genre, I have greatly enjoyed Sherlock.

Sherlock (BBC)

I have always loved good detective stories, and Sherlock does not disappoint.  I didn’t expect each episode to be the length of a short film, but I have been grateful for that.  This series is well-written.  Plus, Dr. Watson is played by Bilbo Baggins.

Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns (documentary)

Ken Burns Baseball

I’ve been itching to watch this documentary for years.  I have enjoyed being able to watch it in short increments.  Baseball is my favorite sport.  History is my favorite subject.  This puts them both together.

X-Men (tv series)

X-Men Cartoon

I watched the X-Men cartoon series every Saturday morning at 10:30 for the bulk of my childhood.  I discovered it on Netflix this weekend.  Jennifer just shakes her head whenever she walks in the living room and I’m watching X-Men, but I don’t care.  It is nostalgic.  And the Gambit in the cartoon is 100 times better than that joker they cast in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

 

So, that’s a handful of shows/films I’ve enjoyed on Netflix.  What about ya’ll? Any suggestions?

Until later friends…

Can you believe it is 2012 already? Me neither.  Unlike many people, I am not worried about the supposed Mayan Apocalypse that is supposed to hit this year.  This doesn’t bother me for several reasons.  One being:

Life is really busy right now. There are a couple of things I’d like to blog about, but I do not have sufficient time for those right now.  So here are some of my random ruminations about less important things:

  • I am really itching to watch Tombstone and eat a Tombstone Pizza

Doc Holliday I'm Your Huckleberry

Tombstone is a great movie.  I was reminded of it today when I came across the last name Huckleberry. It caused me to remember Val Kilmer‘s line as Doc Holliday: “I’m your huckleberry.” If you haven’t seen this film, you need to.

  • Whatever happened to Val Kilmer?Val Kilmer

 

I always was entertained by Carlos Zambrano, but it was time for him to move on.  I don’t know a whole lot about Chris Volstad.  His 4.59 ERA makes me nervous.  I do, however, like that he plays by the code.  You might remember a little altercation he had with Nyjer Morgan, as summarized on wikipedia:

“In September 2010, Volstad was involved in a bench clearing brawl against the Washington Nationals. In the day’s previous game, the Nationals’ Nyjer Morganintentionally ran into Marlins’ catcher Brett Hayes on a play at home plate where Morgan was called out. Hayes separated his shoulder and it was determined later that night that he would miss the remainder of the season. In Morgan’s first at-bat, Volstad threw at Morgan, hitting him. Morgan proceeded to steal two bases when the Marlins had an almost double digit lead, breaking an unwritten rule of ethics in the game. Offended by Morgan once again, Volstad threw another pitch at Morgan in his next at-bat, with it going behind Morgan’s back. Morgan quickly charged the mound, despite the fact that Volstad stood nearly a foot taller than him. Morgan’s punch at Volstad missed, and Morgan was promptly clotheslined by Marlins’ first baseman Gaby Sanchez, resulting in the bench clearing brawl. Volstad was suspended for 6 games because of the incident.”

Here is a picture of the aftermath of the clothesline:

Chris Volstad Gaby Sanchez ClotheslineIt will be refreshing to have a starting pitcher that prefers to defend his teammates instead of punching them in the face.

  • Here is one of many exciting items I found photo-worthy at a recent trip to a flea market:Flea Market Patriotic Rooster

Nothing quite says “I’m an ardent patriot” quite like a ceramic rooster in a star-spangled jumpsuit.

  • Excited about a quality, automatic coffee brewer:Bonavita Automatic Coffee Brewer

The Bonavita coffee maker is only the second automatic coffee brewer to be certified by the SCAA, and we have one at work! It is wonderful.

That’s about all I have today. Hope all is well with you.

Until later friends…

 

Coriolanus Poster with Ralph Fiennes and Gerard Butler

Coriolanus is my new most-anticipated film.  This film is an adaptation of the play Coriolanus, written by good ‘ole Billy Shakespeare.  I’ve never read the play, but I am considering reading it before I watch the film.  Coriolanus is based on the life of the Roman general Gaius Marcius Coriolanus.  I won’t give away the story, but you can tell from the trailer below that it is really intense.

I am excited about this film for several reasons:

1) Ralph Fiennes is a Superb Actor

Ralph Fiennes in Schindlers ListIf you have not seen Schindler’s List, you need to.  Not because it is entertaining, but because it graphically displays the horrors of the Holocaust.  Ralph Fiennes accepted the role of Amon Göth, a Nazi concentration camp leader, and he played that character to the most chillingly evil level possible.  I consider his portrayal of Göth to be one of the top film villains to have ever been created.  He deserved an Oscar for it.  His other acting work has been great too. I loved him in the Constant Gardener.

2) It is About Time We Have Another Shakespeare Adaptation

Romeo and Juliet (Dicaprio and Danes)I mean, Romeo + Juliet with Leonardo DiCaprio was interesting, but we need a new, respectable Shakespeare adaptation.  I think Coriolanus is very promising.  Ralph Fiennes is a much better actor than Leo.

3) Ralph Fiennes vs. Gerard Butler Looks Great

Lord Voldemort vs King LeonidasThese guys play great, manly roles.  I am excited to see them go toe-to-toe.  I’m especially excited to hear them talk trash in Shakespearean English (even if Gerard Butler will sound very Scottish).

4) Brian Cox’s Line: “Coriolanus has grown from man to dragon”

Coriolanus Has Grown From Man to DragonThis line by Brian Cox during the trailer makes this movie seem even more manly and awesome.

Needless to say, I think this movie looks like a great action flick.  If you had never heard of Coriolanus, you probably didn’t even realize that this was a Shakespeare film until near the end of the trailer.  I am excited to see this adaptation.  I think the setting of a Roman military struggle in modern-day Serbia was brilliant.  I look forward to December 2, 2011 when this will be released in the US.

Ralph Fiennes as Coriolanus

Until later friends…

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On Friday I posted a short post about the new Harry Potter film featuring an artistic rendering of my patronus.  I have not yet been able to see the movie.  We spent all weekend studying for the GRE, which went really well (although I can’t blog about it or its contents for fear of losing my soul based on all the things I had to sign before I took the test). After the GRE, Jen had her wisdom teeth removed – all four of ’em.  She is still recovering, but is doing much better today.  We have made a double-date with some friends of ours to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 on Thursday, and I am pumped.

I am very excited about this movie.  I resisted the Harry Potter craze as long as possible.  The first book came out when I was in middle school, and I can recall some lady at one of those traveling book fairs waxing eloquently about how it was such a great book blah, blah, blah.  I was a burgeoning teenager in no need of more childish literature involving magic and wizadry.  I ignored Harry Potter.  By the time I was in high school, Harry Potter was a full-blown phenomenon.  I, however, was a Tolkien fan.  I rigidly stood against the Harry Potter series as a childish challenger to the great Tolkien and Middle Earth.  Plus, I was (and am) a devout evangelical, and many people in my circles of influence saw the “sorcery” of Harry Potter as suspect at best.

Harry Potter Conjuring EvilIn college I had a whole heap of friends that geeked out over Harry Potter.  I watched half of one of the films with some of them on a trip, and although interesting, I did not get hooked.  To me it simply was not nearly as epic as Middle Earth (and I use the term epic intentionally as a literary term, not like all these half-ignorant teenagers that constantly spout “epic fail”).  This all changed once I got married.  My wife liked all the Harry Potter films, but had never read the books.  She asked me to watch the films with her before Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince came to theaters.  I agreed, and I enjoyed the films this go around.  I enjoyed each film more as the plot took on darker and more adult themes (and I mean adult in the common sense of the word, not in the perverted sense employed by the moral Cretans that run “adult bookstores”).

Being the book-nerd that I am, I decided that we had to read all of the books before the next film was released.  Being a seminary student, I really did not have much time to read for pleasure.  So, we borrowed the audio books from the Louisville Public Library in order to listen on trips to Tennessee.  We loved listening to these readings by Jim Dale (although i will forever hate his rendition of “Weasley is our king”).

Order of the Phoenix Audio Book Jim DaleWe completed the series shortly before the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 was released, and we greatly enjoyed the entire experience.  This series is spectacularly written (although I do still prefer Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings).   I have no qualms about being a Christian and enjoying this series of books and films centered on wizadry.  In the midst of going through the books and watching the films, I have never once thought, “I should look into practicing magic myself.”  Some people may think that, but they are already mentally unhinged.  Some of the fears that some Christians have about the popularization of magic may have some merit, but the fact that the vast majority of the anti-Potterites also love the Narnia series or Tolkien is hypocritical.

Harry Potter is not a Christian series.  It does not have a hidden allegory of the gospel.  But like all good literature, it bears marks of common grace.  Virtue is lauded, although one will not find a perfect character in the series.  Self-sacrifice and love are also lauded, and to quote Jesus – and Bagheera from Disney’s Jungle Book – “Greater love has none than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”  For these reasons, and many more, I heartily recommend the Harry Potter series to anyone.  I also recommend that you read this great post from Christian songwriter Andrew Peterson on reading Harry Potter as a Christian, it is the best I have read yet.

Andrew Peterson and Harry PotterSo, if you haven’t already. Go read the series, or at least watch the films.  You will enjoy them, and if you don’t, it is very likely that you are uncultured.

Until later friends…

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two was released today.  A ton of my friends went to see the midnight showing last night/this morning.  I have a job, and I am preparing for the GRE on Monday, so I did not go see it.  Jen and I will go see it sometime next week.  I am excited to see the movie, even though inevitably I know I will walk away saying, “It was good, but the book was better.”  I am looking forward to seeing some major wizadry butt-kicking.  I am not looking forward to seeing the deaths of certain characters that I like (who will remain nameless for those people that have not read the books).

The LA Times had an article about an App that allows you to find your own patronus.  One of my friends got a goat.  I didn’t want to end up with a goat or otter.  So, I decided to make my own patronus:

My Patronus is a bear cub with a tommy gunThat’s right, my patronus is a bear cub with a tommy gun.  My patronus shoots dementors out of the sky from afar, and mauls them up close.  Step off.  That is all I have for today.  Accio comments!

Until later friends…

Everyone loves movies that depict the life of musicians.  Whether it was Jamie Foxx playing Ray Charles, or Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon playing Johnny and June Carter Cash, musical biopics are always successful.

Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles

Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon as Johnny and June Carter CashI say it’s about time we had another musical biopic.  Yet, I think we need a happy biopic.  While I love Walk the Line, and I enjoyed Ray, they both dealt with a lot of difficult life situations (e.g., drugs, affairs, etc.).  We need a good biopic that glosses over all the indiscretions of the artists and just shows us great music and makes us laugh.  That’s why I recommend we get a biopic of Simon and Garfunkel in the works.  Seriously, who doesn’t love Simon and Garfunkel?

Simon and GarfunkelI don’t think I’ve ever met a human being that did not love “The Sound of Silence.”  Seriously, one of the best songs ever.

I suggest that someone make a Simon and Garfunkel movie soon.  I also suggest we make it comedic.  We don’t need any more drug subplots.  I’ve already got the casting figured out too.  Steve Carell and Will Ferrell.  Similar height disparity, and they both have decent singing abilities.

Steve Carell and Will Ferrell Dear movie producers, this film already has the majority of the plot and soundtrack written for you by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.  Just get Steve Carell to play Paul Simon and Will Ferrell to play Art Garfunkel, and you will have the first great comedic musical biopic.  No need to thank me for the millions of dollars you’ll make.  Just give me a cameo role as a background musician.

Until later friends…

I have posted a couple of times about my love for comic book movies.  In one post, I jokingly edited some photos to combine two of my favorite things: comic book heroes and specialty coffee equipment.  One photo I used was this one of Thor and a Mypressi Twist

Mypressi Twist

My attempt at humor with Thor and coffee equipment is nothing compared to this hilarious trailer by Conan O’Brien.

Very clever Coco…very clever indeed.  That’s it for today, I just really wanted to share this hilarious Thor trailer with you.

Until later friends…

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