Alphabetical Movie – The Majestic

You know, I really loved The Majestic the first time I watched it.  Until I watched it for the Alphabetical Movie Project, I hadn’t watched it again.  I didn’t really understand why it was considered a bad film.

I don’t think it’s a bad movie.  But wow.  It is nowhere near as good as I remember.

I generally think I’m a bad judge of movies on a single viewing.  I like a lot of films the first time I see them because I’m focused on the stuff that was good.  Most films have at least a few parts that are good.  It took me a few weeks of thinking about the film before I finally concluded that yes, Man of Steel was pretty dumb.

There was still stuff I liked in the film that I liked.  Can’t recall what that stuff was but I remember there were a lot of parts I liked.

When I watch a movie in the theatre, I want it to be a good experience.  I like seeing films in the movie theatre but it costs a lot to see go to the theatre.  If I’m going to shell out money and time to see a film, I want to find something to enjoy.

A few years later, I’ll go back to a film like The Majestic and realize that my desire to enjoy the film was what made it worthwhile.

I’m not saying that is a bad thing.  Unless my goal was to watch a bad film, it is actually a good thing to walk out of the theater feeling like it was time well spent.

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Friend a Day – Teri Flores

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Teri is one of those special people that makes you grateful to have been in the right place at the right time to know her.

Teri and I live a long way apart and that is a shame.  We see each other once every few years and fall into long, easy conversations that only end when we are in desperate need of sleep.

Pretty remarkable that a friendship can be that strong after only one year at college and long periods of time with little or no contact.  The internet has made regular contact much more common and for that small favor, I’m grateful for Facebook every day.

Terry is an artist and she shares her work on Facebook all the time.  I know that what I see is only a fraction of what she produces but I love the passion she has to create.  She always seems to be exploring that part of herself and every now and again she posts a snapshot of what she’s working on.  Every snapshot makes me wish I could see more.

When we were in school together, I remember spending long hours in the art studio talking while she worked.  She really loved being an artist even if she was often frustrated by the process of making art.  From everything I see, she still loves being an artist.

She has a wonderful wit that gets her though a lot of life challenges.  She isn’t always happy but she refuses to be sad.

I think the reason I like talking with her so much is because she is so good at it.  Conversations with her are interesting because she speaks with such a distinctive character.

She’s also a devoted mom and whenever she talks about her son, you can see her brighten up more than usual.  That kid is super lucky.

But then, anyone who knows Teri is super lucky.

 

Friend a Day – Levi Weinhagen

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What constantly impresses me about Levi is how positive he is about everything.  The Friend a Day blog posts, which I borrowed from him, were all about saying great things about people in his life.  The internet can frequently be a very negative place and having someone making an effort to actively fight that negativity is refreshing.

Levi is a very talented writer and producer.  The shows he produces with Comedy Suitcase (along with Joshua English Scrimshaw) have long been favorites of my kids.  There have even been some tears when we arrived at a show too late to purchase tickets.

Not your fault, Levi.  You can’t help it if what you produce is so good everyone wants to see it.

In a theater market that is as rich as the Twin Cities, it is great to see Levi and Joshua working so hard to produce comedy that is targeted towards families.  I think that has helped inspire me to explore more scripts that my kids could actually watch.

He’s a very devoted dad and that has helped inspire his podcast, Pratfalls of Parenting, a podcast featuring performers who are also parents.  He is a gifted interviewer who helps bring out the best in all of his guests.

Watching Levi on stage is a genuine treat because he’s willing to put his body on the line in the most creative ways possible.  When he was doing the Pratfall Olympics at Die Laughing, it was as much fun to watch him falling all over the sage as it was to watch his daughter gleefully bounce in her chair.

I don’t get to spend a lot of time with Levi, which is too bad.  His positive attitude and intelligence is always worth the time.  Someday, perhaps, we’ll end up working on the same project together.  That would be all sorts of cool.

I’m pleased that knowing Levi led me directly to this project.  I always look forward to what he does next.

Speaking of what he does next – Levi has started up another project called Worth Stealing and you know what?  It’s another great and positive idea.  You can read all of his friend a day posts on his web site leviweinhagen.com.

Geeks Without God Spins Yarn at Die Laughing

Geeks Without GodDie Laughing was an amazing experience for a lot of reasons but one of them was the opportunity to record a couple of live episodes.  Audience feedback really makes the podcast so much more fun.

This week’s episode features local comedian Elizabeth Ess.  She wanted to talk about the Hobby Lobby case now before the Supreme court and we were happy to oblige.  We spent a long time talking about the details of that case and making jokes.

There were also a lot of interruptions as we tried to reach our fundraising goal.  I thought I was going to cut the interjections out but in listening to the raw file, it actually was kind of fun.  Hopefully listeners will agree.

I edited a few things – mostly conversations with people in the back of the room – but for the most part, the episode is as originally recorded.

So hey, if you want to hear us talk about religious liberty and head shaving, this is the episode for you!

I Am Privileged!

As Facebook slowly transitions away from a site where people say meaningful things about their lives to a site where people post the results of  various buzz feed quizzes that report on important personality traits like your alignment (I’m chaotic good), what Firefly Character you are (I’m Luke Skywalker), how long you would survive a zombie apocalypse (I died of a heart attack when I saw the report on television) or what kind of ladder you use to change a lightbulb (a badly balanced stack of used video cartridges).

The most popular quiz for the last few days has been a 100 question quiz on how privileged you are.

Before I go any further, I’m going to ignore the fact that everyone taking the quiz should have scored at least a 20% because of the fact they had the free time to take a 100 question quiz on the internet.  Right there you are doing a lot better than most.

So I filled out the quiz and my score was 68 out of 100.  It seems like I’m fairly privileged.  I was surprised, though, because as a straight white male with some amount of financial success, I expected I would be swimming in privilege.  About the only way I don’t have privilege is because I’m an atheist and I am not part of the wealthiest 1%.

I probably would be if I sold those video cartridges.

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Friend a Day – Windy Bowlsby

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I’ve known Windy more than half my life, I think.  We met at the Renaissance Festival, helped form  CONvergence, and have recently done a lot of theatrical collaborations. She is brash and self confident and filled with nearly limitless energy.

Windy and I are very similar and that means we’ve had some epic arguments over the years.  It is a testament to our friendship that we have consistently managed to remain friends in spite of those arguments.  Because I’m not kidding – they have been epic.

She is someone who is tenacious and will fight with all her might to achieve that which she has set out to do.  Be it teaching, roller derby, dancing, singing, costuming, or being a mom, she doesn’t do things halfway.  She jumps in with both feet and dares the cosmos to make her fail.

If you know Windy, you know that the cosmos would run and cower in the corner rather than cross her.

Her passion for life and for the things she does are always fun to watch.  She’ll drag others along by sheer force of will.  I’ve seen her come up with some crazy ideas and my typical response is “if anyone can make this happen, Windy can.”

And you know what?  She always makes it happen.

If she’s afraid of failure, she never lets it show.  Instead, she will focus her considerable talents on figuring out a way to get it done.  If she does fail, she will never fail the same way again.

She also does an amazing Captain Kirk impression.  I’m pretty sure Shatner himself would be impressed.

I’m pleased to have been able to call Windy a friend for so many years.

Windy doesn’t have a blog but you should definitely follow her on Twitter and listen to her podcast, Xanadu Cinema Pleasure Dome.

Putting it Together – Friend a Day

Sometimes I think it is hard to look at a good idea someone else had and accept that it is OK to do that thing too.

Image from Levi Weinhagen

In music, that happens all the time.  You hear a song that you like and you decide you are going to cover it.  As an artist, it is tremendously flattering to have someone cover your music because it means what you wrote something that resonates with someone else.

I’m not talking about music, though. I’m talking about an idea.

My friend Levi Weinhagen started writing a friend a day blog series at the beginning of this year.  The goal was simply to write something nice about a person in his life every day for 100 days.  I was fortunate enough to have been one of those people.

When he started doing it, I thought it was a great idea.  An idea I wished I’d had.

I’m a cynical guy.  I try to write jokes for a living.  There are many things I do well but being sincerely nice to someone is something that I can handle for an entire sentence.  Maybe two.

To write four or five paragraphs of nice about the same person?  Now that’s a challenge.

Talking about a challenge means I’m talking about the benefit I derive from such an exercise.  The benefit to others is so much more than that.  How cool is it to log on to Facebook in the morning and see that someone wrote an entire blog entry just about you?  It makes you feel special and important.

And we all deserve to feel special and important every now and again.

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