Category Archives: Reviews & Recommendations

My analysis of popular books, movies, and other media.

Missing Parents in Disney Films

My wife and I went to see Toy Story 3 tonight.  It was another great film and it was wild to see the end of a saga that began for us when we were still in high school (1995).  It also made for a great date night, too!  On the drive home, we started talking about the movie and the trilogy.  As we talked we made a startling observation:  there is no dad in any of the Toy Story movies.  And not only that, but we also kept thinking about it:  the first Toy Story movie has Andy’s young sister as an infant without any mention/sight of a father (even though we meet Sid’s couch-potato dad next door).  So, I start to tweet about my amazing discovery.  My friend, Matt Dearman, replies that it’s a trend in most Disney films.  Since my wife is pretty much the Disney expert – we started thinking about it.  The results were stunning. Continue reading Missing Parents in Disney Films

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Letting Go of LOST

As I watched the final 5-6 episodes of LOST, I began to notice that the writers weren’t pacing themselves to be able to answer the massive volume of questions that they had raised over the past 6 years. Strangely, I didn’t mind. As the show drew to its finale, I found myself much more interested in what was going to happen to Jack, Hurley, Kate, etc. and how the story itself was going to end.

There has been much written on the finale and people have been on both sides of whether or not it was an acceptable way to end the series. Some reviews have been irrationally harsh and others just disappointed, I felt that the finale was not only a satisfactory ending to the story, but also very well done. 3 Reasons Why:

1. The finale didn’t get ‘lost’ in the questions. Every summer my wife and I watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy. When I get to the end of Return of the King, I never find myself saying, “What a hoax! All of that just to throw a ring into some stupid volcano?! I just wasted 9 hours of my life!” Most stories we love don’t answer all the questions that arise as the story is being told because the answers to those questions would distract from the main storyline. In the end, Walt’s final destiny didn’t really have a bearing on the story- so I don’t really need to know what happened to him anyway.

2. The finale was exquisitely acted. Did you know who Jorge Garcia was before LOST aired six years ago? How about Michael Emmerson? Even though we may have seen Matthew Fox in Party of Five, he wasn’t even the well-respected actor he has become as a result of his work on LOST. And who the heck was Evangeline Lilly back in 2004? I have never been more impressed with an entire cast of actors than this one. All of the main characters delivered week-in and week-out for six years. They made this story believable. And their performances in the finale were no different. Every show will find its ending, but not every show will have an ending with a cast as well-put together as we had for LOST. I don’t think any of them wasted the past six years of their lives.

3. The finale confronted the audience. I don’t know what you felt as you watched the finale, but I felt stripped naked by the whole thing. As I watched Hurley ask Ben for help and then saw Ben beam with honor – I immediately thought, “Woah, I never would have thought to ask Ben for that.” How many television shows are you watching that cause you to re-evaluate your own humility?

Those who watched the finale looking for all the answers, probably missed what the writers of the show have been telling us for six years: “Um, these characters are made-up…nothing in this show is real…but your life is real and you identify with some of these characters…so, how lost are you?” The finale confronted all of us by bringing the stories of all the characters into one central focus. They were all ‘lost’ because they were all desperately insecure. Those insecurities led them to fight, destroy, and corrupt – just as the Man in Black described. Not until people discovered ‘their destiny’ did they start behaving selflessly. Ironically, LOST has been more about the people watching it than it has ever been about Jack, Kate, Hurley, Locke, or the smoke monster.

Congratulations to the entire cast and crew of LOST. Thanks for six years of great storytelling and entertainment. Well done.

What did you think of the finale? Were you satisfied with the ending?

[you can leave comments at the top of this post]

Everything That Rises Must Converge

ABC’s epic television show, Lost, is about to begin its sixth and final season in just under two-weeks. I cannot recall a more anticipated series finale for a television show in recent history (except for that of Seinfeld, of course). Regardless, hopes are high for the final season – and rightfully so.

Like Benjamin, we, as viewers, have been loyal to the show for 5 years now – researching hints, digging for easter eggs, talking with friends for hours about what things could mean. Every time, though, we run into dead ends, red herrings, and smirks from Damon & Carlton. Even then, we still stuck up for a show that all of our friends said we were crazy for following because it was ‘too hard to follow’ and ‘bound to disappoint’ – even when we couldn’t explain what the show was really about.

The ending of season five left us right back where we started in the first episode of season one: finally getting a better understanding of John Locke’s enigmatic comments about backgammon and Jesus Christ. Lost is obviously a show about duality (as this blog so keenly illustrates). However, I think it is also a show about singularity.

Backgammon is a game that indeed has two sides, but only until the game is over. To win the game one color must gather all of its pieces to the other side of the board – leaving the other color behind. And the game is not just sheer luck of the dice, either. It requires strategic placement of pieces in response as well as anticipation of what the other color will do. In as much as Lost has provided us with five seasons of climactic back and forth play between these two sides, it is evident that season six will be the Omega Point that Jacob refers to in the opening of the season five finale:

Man in Black: “They come; they fight; they destroy; they corrupt. It always ends the same.”

Jacob: “It only ends once. Anything that happens before that is just progress.”

Why tell this story? As magnificent as the show has been, why would ABC spend millions of dollars producing this television show? Why would so many people give so much of their time, effort and thought to a piece of entertainment that seems to be an elaborate telling of a story that is thousands and thousands of years old?

Because we are curious how the game will end… because we believe in destiny… but also because we believe we can change the future. Lost will end the same way that this story has ended for thousands of years: with the apocalypse. The real question is: what happens after the game is over?

The answer lies in the shadow of the statue. In fallen civilizations and worlds that have always destroyed and corrupted (from Egypt to present day), grace has always lurked in the shadow of wickedness, sin, and godlessness. After the end of all things, all men will see past the red herrings of the world and clearly proclaim that He, Jesus Christ, is, indeed, “Ille qui nos omnis servabit” (he who will save us all). And, then, when all is finished – when the fallen rise from the dead – He will be all in all. John 12:31-36, Ephesians 1:3-10.

The only question for Lost fans is who is ‘he?’

Election Observations

1. A historic night – no matter what candidate you voted for. Unfortunately, for my generation and those younger than myself – there is a certain element of this history that we can’t fully appreciate because we didn’t experience the pain of the civil rights movement. Still meaningful for my generation, but the magnitude of it all is somewhat lost on us…well…lost on those of us who aren’t African American.

2. Watching an election has never been so much fun! Throughout the course of the day these social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc were just buzzing with people throwing their support out to their candidate. These sites were in their infancy in the previous election and have really made this process much more interesting. I’m curious to see how these types of sites will be a huge factor in 2012. $10 says we see the candidates more in chat rooms than in gymnasiums (and we’ll see Facebook’s profits go through the roof!).

3. Apparently, several American Christians are afraid of Barack Obama. That is stupid on so many levels. And, yes, I mean stupid.

4. A lot of American Christians are obsessed with the phrase, “God is in control.” Funny how it only comes out when we’re trying to console ourselves. ….that’s always bothered me. “You keep using that word….I do not think it means what you think it means.”

5. I’m thinking that many American Christians are afraid they might actually have to stand up for what they believe in because it is fast-becoming the minority view. And, ironically, instead of standing up for our beliefs, we find it easier to just slander the person who is threatening our cushy lifestyle. Whoops! So much for standing up for those beliefs. (see also 1 Peter 2:13-15)

6. I don’t agree with any of Barack Obama’s policies, principles or philosophies and don’t have to – even though he is my president-elect. That’s pretty awesome. Hard for me to imagine living in a place where I couldn’t freely do that. I probably take it for granted.

7. The single most popular Facebook status of the day: “I am praying for my country.” Why are we saying that? Did we stop praying while a Republican was in the White House?

8. If John Madden were doing the color commentary on tonight’s election he would say, “Obama beat McCain – bam! – right now!” I mean, McCain got straight up embarassed tonight. Landslide victory for Obama. Haven’t seen one of these in a looooong time.

9. I think John McCain’s concession speech was amazing. Everyone is saying that it was ‘gracious.’ I thought it was inspiring. It blew Obama’s acceptance speech out of the water.

10. No one cried tears of joy when George W. Bush was elected president. Maybe it’s just me, but I wouldn’t have cried if McCain would have been elected – and I doubt many others would have either. Why?

11. I think Obama’s election is the best economic stimulus package that George Bush has come up with yet.

12. Gov. Bobby Jindal for President in 2012!!! 🙂

Your observations? Add to the list…