Hey Philly – Enjoy The Tebow Experience

As a Denver Bronco fan, I’d like to give Philly fans some helpful advice now that the evangelical equivalent of the Pope is playing for their team.

There is good news and bad news.

Let’s start with the good.

You won’t have to worry about him getting arrested at a club or beating his wife/girlfriend/live-in mother of his kids. You won’t have to worry about him getting into a car chase around Liberty Hall or being on the front page for a DUI. Nor will you have to read about him saying really stupid things on Twitter like “FREE Insert-latest-NFL-Player-who-has-been-arrested” or “I don’t understand our justice system that puts away guilty people instead of letting them go free.” You won’t read his name and the following words ever together: strip club, alimony, deadbeat dad, domestic violence, arrested, arraigned, grand jury, or indictment.

He’s not going badmouth the ownership or his teammates or the city. Even when you boo him – and let’s face it, we all know that you are going to boo him – he won’t flinch, he won’t whine, he won’t say or do anything in retaliation. He won’t throw a temper tantrum on the sidelines or otherwise act like a prima donna.

He’ll show up to practice everyday, work-out, stay late, show up early, sign your kids autographs, visit sick kids in the hospital…heck, he may even build a hospital for you.

So what exactly is there not to love?

There are a couple of things that you probably already know about but I’ll cover just in case you lived in a cave the last time Tebow was on a NFL roster.

He has a following. And they are legion. I have a relative who honestly believes that whoever has Tebow on their team is automatically God’s favorite team. I kid you not. She also thinks that the Jet’s organization is going to straight to the hot place because of how they treated him. I haven’t the heart to tell her that they were probably going straight there anyway for other reasons, but I digress.

Because he is the real deal, a bona-fide hero on the character side of the equation, God-fearers everywhere root for him. They buy his jersey with no fear of any team having to issue a refund or buy-back.

And Tebow buys into the hype.

He’s a great guy, high character but for all his goodness, his fatal flaw, his Achilles heel is his need/hunger/craving to be a NFL QB and his followers feed this beast inside him. Tight end? Fullback? Receiver? None of those were/are an option for the gifted, intelligent Heisman Winner. He wants to be a QB. And he won’t budge on that.

Which leads me to the second bit of bad news…

He can’t pass the ball.

I’m serious.

He looks great in warm-up. He looks great in 7 on 7 drills.

But live action, real speed, precision route, small window, NFL football situations are a complete disaster. He throws it like the running back or wide receiver who is asked to throw the ball on those two, maybe three trick plays a year. You figure that the shock factor will leave the receiver on the other end so wide open that all he has to do is get it in the same zip code.

Remember Walter Payton throwing the football? Or for you hard-core Denver fans – Steve Sewell? That’s Tim Tebow.

On every play.

He is a Mack truck of a man and has the accuracy to prove it. He will finish the day 2/17, 1 TD, 1 INT and 67 yards rushing. And normally that enough for a win – which makes no sense what-so-ever, but it happens. He will make you shake your head, pull our your hair, scream at the TV, and kick your dog all at the same time.

He will increase your faith as you will pray to God in ways you never dreamed you would.

And the really good news?

All of this normally only lasts one or two seasons at the max.

You can thank me later. For now, enjoy the experience.

My Pirates 5 and Furious 7 Rant

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A picture of Johnny Depp was released today by Jerry Bruckheimer with this caption –

“Captain Jack is back and we’re not letting him go.”

Well, maybe you should. I mean, seriously the last 2.5 Pirates movies have been…Lone Ranger-ish. And that’s not a compliment. In fact, they ought to count the Lone Ranger film in the Pirates franchise. Call it – Pirates: Masquerade As An Indian – err, I mean Native American.

Has Hollywood really gotten this desperate for stories?

Yes, I loved the original movie. It was creative and fresh. I even tolerated the first hour of the 2nd sequel. Then it sort of all went downhill from there. Even the adorable, sensational Penelope Cruz couldn’t rescue it.

Ever heard of leaving well enough alone?

I have the same feelings for the Furious Franchise. Thought the first movie was incredible. Okay, incredible may be a stretch but it was a fun, action-filled movie with great stunts. A guilty pleasure of sorts. But 6 more? Especially after the disaster they called Tokyo Drift.

I will grant you that the franchise gained a little bit more mo-jo when Duane “The Rock” Johnson showed up. (Which one was that? 4? 5? They all run together.)

So far the popular opinion is raving about Furious 7. After all, Jordana is back. All this proves is that if you give Hollywood enough chances to make the same movie eventually they will get it right. See Batman until Batman Begins.

This proof should give Spiderman fans hope. Then again, don’t hold your breath.

Of course there is the equally true 2nd degree of this law and that is they will try to make even more movies after a successful one and it will turn into another disaster. See Star Wars Prequels. See also the future of Batman.

Taken appears to be following in these same footsteps. Particularly if you include Taken On A Plane – aka Non-Stop and Taken In A Graveyard aka A Walk Among The Tombstones. That would bring the total number of Taken movies to 5. At the given body-count rate of the first 5 films, we will quickly have to move this franchise into outer space and introduce aliens or an alternate planet. Taken With Aliens could spur on a whole other round of sequels.

Or what about when Liam Neeson hits 80 – Taken On Dialysis.

Obviously I am alone in my principles on this as they keep making these movies and people keep going to see them.

Oh well…only have to wait until December 18th for the real movie magic to happen.

That’s right – Star Wars 7.

But that’s totally different.

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Movie Review: Atari: Game Over

If you were a child of the ’80’s, there is no underestimating the importance of the Atari 2600. It saved us thousands of dollars in quarters as well as trips to the mall. How many sleepovers did we have protecting the earth on Missile Command? Or Yar’s Revenge? How many hours did you spend playing that stupid, impossible to win E.T. game? (Which I did beat it eventually, I’ll have you know.)

I’m convinced that Atari was the single most important invention of the ’70’s and ’80’s. Perhaps of the last 100 years as it changed computing and gaming FOREVER. And yet as influential as it was, it all came crashing down in the year 1983 due to the ridiculous hubris of the company to make a movie tie-in game named E.T. in 5 weeks instead of 5 months.

The result was an unmitigated disaster. The games tanked. The people revolted.

You can read the rest of the review here, on my other site called The Reviews.

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Book Review: Agent 6

BY TOM ROB SMITH

In terms of character arch and what each of the Leo Demidov/Child 44 books contribute, Agent 6 ends the series nicely. I will say at the outset that this particular book could have been two separate stories but more on that later.

Each book is a symbol for the Soviet regime in which it takes place. Child 44 (the first in the series) represented the harsh, oppressive, gritty, ruthless years of Stalin. The Secret Speech finds Leo (and the Soviet Union by extension) confused and conflicted in what to do with their harsh, shameful past and a desire to move forward differently but ill-equipped to do so – much like the Khrushchev years. Agent 6 is set during the Brezhnev years which were marked with ill-conceived wars with countries like Afghanistan, a crumbling economy, and communism in a general state of disrepair being led by people who refuse to see this and continue to make ridiculous self-destructive decisions in spite of the facts. True to form, Leo Demidov embodies these same realities.

The previous two books relied on equal parts mystery and thriller. Agent 6 plays heavy with politics and character development. Smith gets lost in the politics and propaganda of both sides, expertly weaving in key historical dates into the narrative and delivers a cutting critique of both free market capitalism and communism. In so doing, Smith reveals it’s the darkness of the human soul that ruins the world, not so much a particular system. There is something inanely wrong with humanity.

The rest of the review is on my other site – The Reviews.

Returning Homes

Left right after church last Sunday and headed to Birmingham via an overnight stop in Little Rock. My dad was having some surgery, and I wanted/needed to be down there. Flying into Birmingham was going to cost me a small child so the decision was to drive.

The short version of the trip is this – surgery went great. Dad is recovering nicely. He is now home. Personally, I can’t stand hospitals. Too much waiting, too much time to just sit. But I loved this time with Dad and Mary – my wonderful stepmother.

The longer version is this trip was some sort of a ‘returning homes’ trip. I drove through Little Rock – both coming and going – where Cayden was born and we spent close to 5 years. On the way there, I had the honor to spend the night with the Sudduth’s.

Scott and Beckie have been long-time friends and when we lived there, you never missed an opportunity to have dinner at their house. Never. It was an experience. Besides that, they were great friends. The long drive didn’t seem as long when Beckie met me in the driveway and gave me one of those ‘mom’ hugs. As I put my bag in the guest room, I noticed Scott had the steaks ready to grill, complete with a mushroom sauce that smelled like it was directly from Italy. A night with the Sudduths is a taste of heaven. Both in the company and the food.

The next morning was an early breakfast with Jim Mark Ingram. Jim Mark was an elder at where we served. We are both gone from that church, but Jim Mark is…well…Jim Mark is one of those guys that I’m not sure anything bad can be said about him. He’s always had a heart for kids and teenagers as evidenced by his years of support of Young Life, student ministry, Boy Scouts, and whatever other youth organization you can think of. It was a great time of catching up on our families.

In Birmingham, I got to grab some time with my favorite cousin ever – Connie. I was in love with Connie from age 7 to 13. She was beautiful, funny, southern, and smart. I was devastated when I found we were related. If we were living in Arkansas, maybe that sort of thing would have been tolerated, but in the high society circles of Alabama – we have standards. I still love Connie but I think my girls love her and her daughter more. She’s got goats, cows, bees, and whatever else kind of animal on their farm just north of Birmingham.

On the way back home, I swung back by Little Rock and grabbed lunch with one of my closest friends – Bruce. Over the most incredible ribs ever (The Whole Hog), we caught up on family, raising daughters, and faith.

In each of the instances, I’m struck how the conversations were so easy, so deep, so fast. Each relationship seeming to just pick up where we had last left it. Even after years of radio silence, there was this level of trust and vulnerability that didn’t seem to fade.

There is a love that is deeper than mere sentiment… Rich Mullins

After growing up in the military, moving around every 18 months and having lived in 6 different places as an adult, I have a different understanding of home than most. I don’t have ‘a place’ that I can drive up to and say – “This is my home!!” But what I do have are these relationships.

And that’s enough. More than enough.

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Book Review: The Martian

BY Andy Weir

Imagine Robinson Crusoe on Mars. And add in that it takes 265 days to get there if anything goes wrong. Then imagine being left for dead by your crew and you have to figure out how to survive until the next mission arrives – some 460 plus days away.

And that’s the first two pages of the book.

Weir weaves a story full of both suspense and humor centering upon the main character of Mark Whatney. Whatney is the rare breed of botanist and engineer who finds himself in the most impossible of situations where everything – the very air around him – is set up to kill him.

While the story covers close to three years of time, it is well paced and packed full of the details that puts the science in science-fiction. I am sure botanist engineers everywhere will come to see this book as a vindication of their vocation. Both of them.

Read the rest of the review here – on my other site The Reviews.

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Book Review: The Secret Speech

By Tom Rob Smith

This year the movie Child 44 will be released and that was the first of the Leo Demidov series of novels. The Secret Speech is the second. , the first in his Leo Demidov series. Leo Demidov is a KGB agent in post-World War 2 Russia and as he does his job, he finds himself less and less convinced that communism and his beloved Russia is as pure as it advertises.

The Secret Speech is book 2 of this series and we find Leo no longer a KGB agent but rather the head of a two-person department of the government that investigates murders. Secretly. Because murder is only a problem for capitalistic countries – like the United States. Not a socialist society like Russia.

Child 44 was a tightly written thriller that never let you get comfortable with either the hero or the suspects. The historical setting comes alive but never takes over the action.

The Secret Speech has a completely different pace and feel to it. Smith relies heavily on the historical setting in this novel using the actual speech Khrushchev gave in 1956 denouncing the brutal regime of his predecessor – Joseph Stalin. That speech made targets out of jailers, policemen, soldiers, and bureaucrats who staunchly supported Stalin. It gave legitimacy to a nation-wide revenge tour for many families who lost loved ones to the reign of terror that existed under Stalin.

Read the rest of the review here – on my other site The Reviews.

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Movie Review: Looper

The one benefit of traveling is I get to catch up on movie watching. Looper was one of those flicks.

I wanted this movie to be AWESOME. I wanted another Willis gem of a flick along the lines of 12 Monkeys, The 5th Element or 6th Sense. Perhaps that was expecting to much. After all, Willis hasn’t exactly killed it lately but he’s still capable of dominating a screen and delivering an incredible performance – which he does here in Looper.

What did I get? Not awesome. Not terrible either. It’s a frustrating movie.

Read the rest of the review here on my other site The Reviews.

Movie Review: Big Hero 6

I’ve been working on some changes over on my other site – The Reviews. Now it’s got a much easier search interface. You can now search for movies by title, by year released, director, actor, even how I rated it. So if you are into movies – please go check it out.

Here’s an excerpt of my latest review – Big Hero 6.

At some point, the odds have to catch up with Disney/Pixar, right? How many high quality, good family films can they make without having a dud? Big Hero 6 is not just a Disney/Pixar collaboration but it’s also a Marvel Comic partnership – and yes, if you look closely you will find your Stan Lee sighting as well.

Typical Pixar – fun movie for kids with plenty of humor and moments for the adults as well. This film particularly embodies this flavor now that Disney owns Marvel and this film marks the first animated film partnership between the three – Pixar, Disney, and Marvel. It doesn’t disappoint.

Big Hero 6 won the Academy Award for Best Animated Film this year and looking at other nominees – it deserved it. That’s not to say it is in the same stratosphere as The Incredibles or Toy Story. But it holds its own providing plenty of moments to watch over and over again.

You can read the rest of the review here.

Day 1 NCAA Thoughts

What a day of games…

*Iowa State – I drank the kool-aid. Had them in the Final Four. What a complete rip-your-heart-out-of-your-chest-while-it-is-still-beating-job.

*Baylor – I had them losing in the next round, didn’t think they had the ‘juice’ to go far but never saw them losing to a 14 seed.

*Texas – totally picked Butler. Don’t know how Barnes keeps his job at Texas.

*Harvard – what are you doing jackin’ up threes with time left on clock for 3 straight possessions when you only needed a 2 and not call a timeout one of those 3 trips down?? For such a brilliant school, that last minute was some stupid basketball.

*Cincy – They lose their number 1 thug and still win.

*Arkansas and UNC – look vulnerable. Both should be thankful they get another game.

Today – what to look for…

*Kansas – who knows what team will show up but the entire world wants to see Wichita State/Kansas in the next round. This must happen.

* AT&T commercials – love having all those legends and looking forward to where they take the commercials.

*Same for Capital One commercials with Samuel L., Spike, and Charles.

*Michigan St/Georgia – think this will be an awesome game.

Add your two cents…