Thursday, July 31, 2008

YouTube Thursday: A Minor Movie Based on a Small Series of Books

This is just a little movie clip I found the other day. I think it could be interesting and maybe you'll give it a shot. I'm not overly familiar with the book series it's based on, but who knows? Maybe the author will make something of herself one of these days.

But seriously, I saw on another forum that I frequent that this trailer could have been 15 seconds long. Bring up the music, bring up the title: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, then put up the words, "Like you're not going to see it, probably opening weekend." And that's it. (At which point the people who STILL think Harry and Hermione were meant to be together forever and Rowling screwed up her own books would say that the lack of Ginny in the trailer shows the true pure love that Harry and Hermione share. And yes, those people are out there.)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Yes, I ended up getting the iPhones last week as belated anniversary presents for me and Sheryl.

And after 5 days of using them here's what I think of it. On the whole, I think it's a great meshing of hardware and software. Is it the single greatest phone I've ever used? Probably, but in the grand scheme of things, it still is just a phone/music player.


I love the User Interface (UI). I love how things move and just seem to flow in general. How things open, how things move. It's almost a spatial experience. When a program opens up at you, it gives the impression of a much larger experience.

I really like the iPod interface (even though I miss the click wheel of the my iPod at times). I also like that I have the entire Extended Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Batman Begins, and Casino Royal with 4 GB leftover.

The AppStore is very cool as well, although this is something that's been around on Windows Mobile machines for quite a while. Not so cool are some of Apple's restrictions around them (no apparent widespread beta testing for apps available; also if Apple is the ultimate gatekeeper for apps, I'm sure we'll NEVER see an application). So far the apps I have on mine are Google (not so great), Twitterific (pretty great), Facebook (not bad, but almost has to be used in combination with the Facebook iPhone page), Urbanspoon (looks cool, but I haven't got much use out of it), PhoneSaber (so awesome), Texas Hold'Em (great fun), SportsTap (great score updater), Midomi (song finder, but not great), BoxOffice (movie finder), NYTimes (very problematic), and Shopper (looks cool so far, but I haven't used it much). Wow that's more than I thought I had.


Seriously, Apple. No cut and paste? Seriously?

I also wish that they had allowed for some more customization of icons. You'd think a company with as many designers as customers might do that.

It also seems odd that you can't change the notifications for incoming emails. That one just seems like a basic one.

Crashing. I think because there couldn't be widespread betatesting/user testing of the apps, some got through that don't play as well with the iPhone and cause crashing. I think this can be fixed on an ongoing basis, but it makes it a little annoying right now.

So, overall, besides the waiting for them, it's been a good experience. Any of you iPhoners out there have an app recommendation?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

From Toddler to Little Boy

It's honestly amazing the difference a simple haircut can make.

Take Connor for instance: The following picture was taken a week ago. He looks like a toddler with his "mushroom" hair, as I referred to it.

This picture was taken last night, after a haircut on Saturday. It's almost like in that 20 minutes of his haircut (by dear friend Eve English), that he went from toddler to little boy.

It's honestly just a little amazing to me how quickly time has gone by with him. He's starting to be able to say sentences, let us know when specific things hurt, and pull his sister's hair.

Here are a few more pictures from the last couple of weeks.

The Kiddos hamming it up together.

A little after work Rock Band action (only one of us is actually playing the game).

Monday, July 28, 2008

New Monasticism Conference in Nashville, September 20th

Copying a post from Living the Simple Life:

Come all ye faithful to Nashville, TN, to hear Johnathan Wilson Hartgrove and others explain what the new monastic movement has to say to the larger church. The one-day seminar is based on Jonathan's latest book.

New Monasticism: What It Has to Say to Today’s Church (Baker) is Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s introduction to new monasticism and the gifts it has to offer the church in a time a rapid change. Sam Ewell’s Building Up the Church: Experiments in Faith, Hope, and Love (Wipf and Stock) is an interactive study guide based on Jonathan’s book, designed to lead small groups into an authentic engagement with new monasticism.

Otter Creek Church (located at 409 Franklin Road, Brentwood, Tennessee) will host this event on Saturday, September 20th from 8am-6pm. For more information and to register go here.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Things I'm Thinking About

  • If Jesus went to so many parties, how come so many of his followers go to so few?
  • Has my job up the tech booth distanced me from people?
  • What are the implications of how we deal with race as Jesus' followers and what does that say to the world outside our walls?
  • Why do people insist on boiling down theological issues to mathematical equations?
  • There are people that think "seeking to be a disciple of Jesus" is a bad thing? (As opposed to being or not being a disciple)
  • Is the Dark Knight the newest expression of a glimmers of God's hope in a nihilistic society or just Christians trying to shoehorn the last soap bubble of pop culture before it pops so we can look cool and relevant?
Just some things I'm thinking.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

YouTube Thursday: Darth Vader is a Thriller

I can only imagine how hard it must have been to do those moves in that costume.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Question of the Day...

Just a curiosity on my part: Which do you prefer when vacationing? Mountain, beach, city, or other?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Kinsey: The Growing Up Chronicles

Kinsey was talking about some of her formerly favorite TV shows, like Little Einstein's, Mickey Mouse Funhouse, and Dora. She's started to not like them because they talk to her.

If you don't have kids, you might not know about this. On these kids' shows, the characters will ask a question of the audience and then wait for an answer, then replying "Great job," assuming that the child on the other side of the screen gave the correct one. Kinsey has started realizing this is "crazy" because the TV can't really hear her.

In other news, Connor spiked a fever on Sunday (right before Life group, of course) and we decided not to treat it at all. No ibuprofen or acetaminophen at all. And wonderfully, it was gone yesterday afternoon. Hopefully that's the last we see of that.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Dark Knight: Review and Analysis

I warn you now. This post will have major and pervasive spoilers for the movie. If you haven't seen the movie, you were apparently one of the few who didn't this weekend. Go fulfill your duty as an American filmgoer and see it. Then come back to this post. And I apologize in advance for the length of this post. As you might imagine, I have a few thoughts.

Ok. This is basically the best movie of the year. Hands down. People are going to be very tempted to write it off as a comic book movie. And it is, but it's much, much deeper than that. Yeah, I know that people always say that about comic book movies, but for this one it's really true. It's an examination of the human response to chaos and self-preservation and it's absolutely outstanding. Make no mistake, this movie is a tragedy in the Greek sense of it. The heroes have flaws which ultimately bring them down. And that's part of the brilliance of the film.

So, what was good.

Well, of course, Heath Ledger as the Joker was outstanding. It's interesting to watch a movie like Knight's Tale and then this one and recognize the masterful acting that he was capable of. Ledger's Joker is an all consuming vortex of chaos. And it's without purpose. In my mind, he's really only a criminal because that's how society views someone who sows chaos in the way he does. He's scary, because he's so unpredictable. You don't know what he's got up his sleeve, each time he comes on screen and that's what takes your breath away each time he does. You almost hold your breath waiting to see what he does.

I loved the shooting of this film compared to Batman Begins. I watched the first one just prior to seeing The Dark Knight and it was interesting to see how much was CGI in the first one and how the Gotham of this movie is basically Chicago. I liked how much they tried to make everything as realistic possible. The city itself almost became a character in the movie, and especially the citizens.

I thought the casting of Aaron Eckhart has Harvey Dent was terrific. He really did the White Knight very well and it made his transformation into Two-Face that much more tragic.

The overall story was good, if a bit convoluted. I'm definitely going to have to see it again (IMAX, anyone?) because I want to try and follow the Joker's plots. How much relied on coincidence? How much could he have known was going to happen or how people would react to certain situations? Could he have known that Gordon would fake his own death or did his plans just ooze around that bump in the roadmap?

Maggie Gyllenhal was a suitable replacement to Katie Holmes, but Rachel Dawes was still a pawn in the whole game. Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman were stellar in their supporting roles, as usual. Nice to hear some of Alfred's non-butler-y background stories.

Not so good? Well, unfortunately, like the Burton Batman movies (who? Joel Schumacher? Never heard of him...), Batman himself can almost fade into the background on these. I think they did a good job over all of trying to counterbalance the seething serenity of Batman with the chaos of the Joker, but in the face of a whirlwind like that character, it's tough to be as memorable.

And while I liked the cameo by Dr. Crane/Scarecrow, it did make me wonder how they solved the issue of the escaped criminals in the Narrows and the fear toxin, but not too much. And the whole Hong Kong sequence was kind of pointless to me, even though the director might have been making a subtle commentary on American intervention in sovereign nations. He definitely made a not-at-all subtle commentary on technological eavesdropping.

However, one of my absolute favorite parts of the movie didn't involve any of the main characters. It was with the two ferries. On one, many of the regular citizens of Gotham; on the other, criminals being transported away from Gotham. The Joker has rigged both of them with explosives, but put the trigger for each boat on the other boat. And if one boat doesn't blow up the other in 15 minutes, he'll blow up both of them. There's a tense time where the civilian boat votes to blow up the prison boat and the prison boat is seeing this as a chance to escape. I was sure that they were going to give into the temptation of self-preservation, but at the last minute, one of the prisoners stands up and says that he'll do what needs to be done, since none of the rest seems to be willing to destroy the other boat. He takes the trigger... and tosses it out the window. And I'm might have been the only one in my theater who did, but I applauded that moment in the movie, because I knew that this was the fulfillment of the words that Harvey Dent spoke earlier in the movie: "The night is darkest before the dawn, but the dawn is coming." And when that prisoner (played by Tiny Lister) threw the trigger out the window, I knew that was the dawn that Chris Nolan (writer and director) was going for. The decision on the part of the people on each boat to not take lives, but be willing to sacrifice themselves. It was a beautiful moment in a dark, dark film. (For more analysis, check out this link: )

This is a movie that's going to be thought about and analyzed for years. This might be the pinnacle of comic book movie making and what pushes the genre out of the niche mindset and fully into the mainstream. This movie is Godfather II to Batman Begins' Godfather. The Dark Knight takes a larger scope on the whole thing and tells a deeper story than just Batman vs. the Joker. And that was the unexpected pleasure that came from it.

(Addendum 8/27) For further thoughts after seeing the movie a second time, click here.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The "Core" Gospel

We're going through a series at Otter Creek currently called "Regospeling" and we're focusing on the "Core Gospel."

Are there specific ideas that people have about what ideas or responses or practices are "required" for salvation? If you want to see one idea, you can view it here (page 2). I'm not sure I agree with the diagram. I'm always thinking about the book of James and Matthew 25 where there seems to be response required/necessary to validate faith. Without it, it's not really faith. And I fear that when we make the "core" gospel about "faith only," we can lose the broader picture of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

I'm still pondering this stuff, so other ideas that people have, I would be open to them.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

YouTube Thursday: The Dark Knight

Ok, seriously. What else was I going to post here on the day before the sequel to one of the best comic book movies ever, Batman Begins, comes out?

According to Box Office Mojo, Spider-Man 3 had the biggest opening weekend with $151 million back in 2007. My prediction: The Dark Knight will hit $200 million. This one is going to be huge and I can't wait to see it. More than Prince Caspian, more than Indiana Jones, more than Iron Man, this is the movie that I've wanted to see this summer more than any other.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Do You Notice Your User Experience?

As with most things that people do, we all tend to focus on what we do and think that it's some measure of the center of what happens, but truthfully we're not.

I am curious. How much do you notice your user experience as your navigating through the web? For instance, on the AT&T Order Status website ( (Not that I would have any reason to be checking it every couple of hours or anything...)), in order to get your results after you enter your info, you have to actually click the Submit button. If you just hit Enter or Return, the page returns an error page, with no indication of how to fix it.

Now, you might say, "Big deal, Phil. Just click the Submit button." Well, sure, but I'm the type of person that enters info through the keyboard, using Tab, and then hits Enter. Plus, I focus on usabilty and user experience, because it's what I do in the course of my day.

At any rate, I'm just curious about how much you might notice your bad experiences. How do you deal with it? Where are some of the websites that make you want to put scream?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Florida Trip and a Very Important Pop-Up Book

Here are the pictures from our trip to Florida, which was once again a great trip.

On Uncle Paul's motorcycle.

The Kids at the Beach

Sheryl and I are in SOOO much trouble when she decides to really start liking boys.

Connor didn't like standing in the sand that much.

Exhausted after a long day.

Seriously, could they be any cuter?


In other news, we broke out the potty to start letting Connor get used to the concept of at least sitting on it. Amazingly, on his very first try, he dropped some poopy in (while reading a book called "What Do You Do With a Potty? A Very Important Pop-up Book"

Seriously, he's not old enough to be doing this yet, is he?

Monday, July 14, 2008

The iPhone Saga

Short version: I wanted to buy two iPhones this weekend (one for me, one for Sheryl). I have not yet succeeded in that task.

Long version: My family's contract with Sprint has ended (we're now on month-to-month) and with the new iPhone coming out, Sheryl and I decided to give each other iPhones as our anniversary presents. Because I get a service discount with my company, I have to do it through an AT&T store. So, earlier in the week, I head to a store to do the whole iReady thing. (Note: in order to get 2 iPhones, you must have 2 physical bodies with you, so me doing this alone is not happening. Understandable, but inconvenient)

Friday rolls around and because I have a job and family, I'm not willing to wait for 6 hours in a line. I do run by an AT&T store who ran out about 10AM. So as per my plan, I'm probably not getting an iPhone Friday.

Saturday: Sheryl has a meeting at church, so I drop her off there and then head to the AT&T store in Green Hills where they were supposed to have more iPhones. I get there and wonder of wonders, I'm first in line with the kids. I'm flabbergasted. Some other people join up behind us, I'm getting pretty excited. Until an employee comes out and says that they don't have any iPhones and don't know when they'll be getting new ones in. We could, however, backorder them and get them in about 7-10 business days. I decline, deciding to head to the Apple Store and seeing if I can possible get in there, since I'm told that I open an account there and get it changed to the business discount. Also, it's the second day of the new iPhone and surely there's not a line there any more.


I end up going by the Apple Store and AT&T store 3 more times over the course of the next two days and there is a line every time. I know that activations are taking a while. I know there are a bunch of people that want iPhones (including me). But seriously, when you have a product that still has lines 2 days after launch, that's not a success in the popularity of the product, that's a failure in process and inventory. When someone wants to give you money for a product, but can't, that's a failure on some end.

Here's the end of the story: I'm going to try and backorder phones today. It's not worth my time to go every day or so to check and see if iPhones are in stock, so we can survive with our current phones until then. I'd like to have the phones, but I'm not willing to wait in a line just to have them. I'd like to have them. I'd like to be able to give Apple or AT&T $600 to buy the phones. I just can't waste my time a line to do it.

Update: I went to the AT&T store on my lunch break today and was able to order the phones. They should be in in 7-10 business days at the latest. Hopefully sooner.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Every Wednesday night, before the "regular" classes, Otter Creek does a thing called HymnSing. In one of the classes, about 30-50 people gather and sing just hymns. In our Sunday services, I think we do a good job of mixing hymns and newer songs, but I also like that old feel of the hymns too.

I usually don't have a chance to go sing because of my Wednesday night responsibilities for the services, but this week I did. I went in and sat and got ready to sing some of my old favorites and I only knew about 3 of the 8 songs we sang before I had to leave. It was an interesting experience.

Having grown up at Otter Creek, I sometimes feel like my Church of Christ background is missing a piece that a lot of people who went to other Churches of Christ got. I don't remember much of the "legalism" associated with other churches, we didn't have splits like I heard that others had, and I didn't grow up with a lot of the older hymns that apparently a lot of people did. I don't feel deprived in the slightest, but I do feel a little out of the loop when people start commiserating.

I guess there really isn't a point to this post overall, but more of a general musing.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Caption This Picture

In honor of the newest release of the iPhone 3G tomorrow (and to provide amusement for those schlubs waiting in line), I offer today's picture for captioning.

Caption this picture! Be funny!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


This weekend, Sheryl, their kids, Uncle Paul, Aunt Sarah and I got out to see WALL-E. I've read the reviews, of course, and it's apparently the greatest Pixar movie ever, which is saying something.

I really enjoyed it. Naturally, anytime you see something with a 2 year old in tow, you're going to miss some details (a dropped passy can take your attention away for a bit), but I thought it was really quite good. I loved the opening part where there was only sound, but no dialogue. I thought that the film makers did a great job establishing WALL-E as a character and his idiosyncrasies. It was a bit weird to show human emotion between two robots, especially some of the conventions of the romantic comedies, but all the work the film makers did in the first part of the movie to establish WALL-E paid off for that part.

The "environmental" message of it was about as subtle as getting hit over the head with a skyscraper girder, but it was well done too. More subtle was the message about the tendency toward inactivity that humans have. I don't think most kids will see themselves in the human characters in the movies, but I know I did.

So, was it the best Pixar movie ever? I didn't think so. I think Toy Story was groundbreaking; A Bug's Life was good, but not outstanding. Toy Story 2 was Godfather 2 to Toy Story's Godfather, an incredible improvement on the original; Monsters, Inc had heart and a concept that was almost the most creative thing I've seen on film (and had the best final shot of all the films). Finding Nemo captured the parent-child relationship in an amazing way (and works as an interesting allegory for Christianity). The Incredibles was simply... incredible. Cars was off the pace of some of the others. Ratatouille shouldn't have been the success that it was but was a pretty outstanding film.

If I had to put the Pixar films in order of preference.

1. The Incredibles
2. Toy Story 2
3. Wall-E
4. Toy Story
5. Monsters Inc.
6. Ratatouille
7. Finding Nemo
8. A Bug's Life
9. Cars

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Just got back from a trip down to see Sheryl's brother and his wife down in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. A great trip as always. So, including the trip up to Flint, MI for my grandmother's funeral (1150 miles), the trip to South Dakota (3,000 miles), and this trip (900 miles), that's 5,000 miles in three months. And that doesn't include the flying I did with Kinsey to Colorado and the flight I took to San Diego. The carbon footprint of the Wilson family has been rather substantial this year....

At any rate, I'll have pictures of that trip next week. And speaking of pictures, a great side benefit of our trips has been a chance for Sheryl to develop/enhance her photographer's eye (and Photoshop skills). Just using our little (comparatively) Nikon D40, she's been able to capture some great shots that will save us on paying a pro to take some. Here are some examples of what she's done. All of these were taken in Custer State Park in South Dakota.

Me and the kids walking through a gorge.

A great perspective shot.

Obviously a great picture of Kinsey, but notice how Sheryl blurred the edges to draw focus to Kinsey.

Same thing here, but with Connor.

I think this is something Sheryl is really good at and hopefully, it'll be something she can continue to develop (pun intended, although with computers and digital cameras, you don't really develop anymore and now I've completely ruined the joke.)

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Friday, July 04, 2008

Independence Day...

Just a thought for the day as we Americans celebrate our independence...

Didn't declaring Independence violate Romans 13: 1-7?
1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. 7Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Let me be clear. I'm grateful for being born in America and being given the freedoms that I have to do what I wish in most cases. But if we're looking Biblically, declaring independence from Great Britain would have violated this passage of Scripture. I've never heard a justification Biblically for the American Revolution, but I can only assume that it came from the idea of freedom being given to all people and tyranny breaks God's law that all men are created equal.

At any rate, enjoy the holiday. :-)

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


So while my wife was watching America's Got (Stupid) Talent, I happened to see it when there was a Heroes promo on, with Season 3 subtitled Villains.

Now, for one thing, because of the strike and no episodes in the spring, I'd kind of forgotten about the show. Part of that is out of sight, out of mind; part of it is because, well, let's just admit it, Season 2 kind of sucked. The whole Maya/Aleja.....zzzzzz, sorry, must've used an old joke there. But that plotline was just kind of bad. Hiro in Japan at least had a payoff, but it lasted too long.

My hope for this season is fewer new characters (although the title of Villains [plural] makes me think that there will be several new characters, unless some of our favorites go bad) and more action. The psychological aspects of what all the Heroes are going through is interesting on a few levels, but it's time to plow new ground on a lot of that as well.

I know I'm going to watch it, but definitely without as much initial enthusiasm as I did for the beginning of Season 2.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Boys and Girls

A few years back, Sheryl and I built a wooden swingset in our back yard. I think Kinsey was about 3 when we did it. It has a slide and some swings and stuff. It's pretty neat.

Kinsey has never been very brave about it. When she was 3 or 4, she would get very timid about climbing up the little ladder to the platform to slide down. I'd have to pick her up and help her up and stuff like that. Kinsey's never been extremely brave anyway. My joke has been that she'll never be a mountain climber and she's perfectly fine with that.

On the other hand, there's Connor who seems perfectly willing to take a bump on the head or scrape in the pursuit of fun. He's jumped off the steps of the porch, fallen off high chairs, and bumped heads. Last night, we were on the swing set and Connor decided he wanted to "s'ide" (this was after I told him we were going outside and he jumped around like he'd just won the Superbowl [or Euro 2008, if you prefer]). The first time, he needed a little help getting up the ladder to the platform. He asked for it and I put my hand on his back and he just scooted right up. And did it again and again and again. And got a little upset when it was time to go inside.

I'm a little bit cautious at assigning this as the difference between boys and girls. It could be simply the difference between a first child and second child. But I also don't want to say that there's nothing different between a boy and girl, because there clearly are, in toy preferences and Connor's interest in large, loud vehicles and Kinsey in princesses.

I guess I say all that to say that it's very interesting to have a girl and boy. And it's going to continue to be interesting to see how much they are alike and how different they will be.
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