Tuesday, October 14, 2014

You can't make a chocolate shake with vanilla ice cream

I like chocolate ice cream.  It would follow that I also like chocolate shakes.  I am not a huge fan of vanilla though.  I would almost never choose vanilla over another flavor, especially chocolate.  Vanilla is only good if you put other things in it, like oreos, but then again an oreo chocolate ice cream sounds much better. 

When I see chocolate shake on the menu board of a local eatery, I now have to question what ingredients they are using.  You see, lately, I have been getting a vanilla shake with just some chocolate syrup blended in.  Um, no!.  How would the vanilla shake lovers of the world like it if I put vanilla extract into a chocolate shake and called it vanilla.  I am sure that they would feel ripped off.  That is how I feel.  Some of these places advertise hand dipped shakes.  Really, hand dipped and you don't have any chocolate back there. 

As far as I know, chocolate ice cream costs the same amount as vanilla.  Chocolate syrup, however, increases the cost to make a "chocolate shake."  The shakes themselves are the same price though, so the extra price gets passed along to all shake drinkers and we are all paying too much because the store refuses to make real chocolate shakes.  We all lose. 

Stand with me.  Ask your local restaurants if they are serving chocolate shakes or chocolate flavored vanilla shakes.  Let them know how you feel about this.  Let the world know. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

God's Not Dead- Movie Review

I went to see this movie with a group from my church. This has been critizised by a lot of people on the internet. I don't get this, I have also seen movies such as the A-Team with groups from a church. My daughter's youth group went to see the lego movie. I have also seen movies as part of a non church organized group. To say that the gross for the weekend is somehow inflated because church groups went to see the movie is just silly. "Thor 2 would have done horribly if those sci-fi/fantasy and comic book folks wouldn't have gone to see it."
On to the review. The movie was well produced and the acting was well done. The story was somewhat contrived, and the writers were very heavy handed. One of my biggest criticisms of the movie is the demonization of atheists. All atheists in this movie are bad people. In real life, you have good people that are atheists as well. In inverse is also true. The Christian characters are all noble to a fault. There was a little bit of inconsistency as well. A muslim man makes his daughter wear a head scarf and cover her face in public but says nothing about her short sleeve shirt. This is likely just an oversight, but a noticable one.

I find myself thinking about who this movie is for. I don't think it was designed to show atheists the error of their ways and I don't think it will do that. I think there was a message in there for church leaders to understand that their congregation and their city are their mission fields and are in as much of a need as more exotic locations. The real message was to believers in general. This was not a conversion movie, this was a stand up for God movie. The movie tells believers that they just can't sit there and go with the flow, unfortunately that isn't a message that a lot of people want to hear. It seems that some of "Christians" just want to demonize others and to be lifted up. While this movie does do some lifting up and a little too much demonizing, that was not the point of the movie.
I think a lot of people will critizice how muslims are depicted in this movie as the father is very violent with a daughter that converts to christianity. I may have been among them until I met a young couple that are missionaries in Pakistan. In Pakistan, your religion is your identity, it is on your ID. I believe the question of what religion you are translates into "Who are you?" It is hard for christians to find employment as they are openly discriminated against in that country. I can imagine the very devout father being upset about this. The film also shows how devestated the father is at what he did.
That leads to my conclusion. This movie, despite its flaws, is able to invoke a strong emotional response. Will most people get the messae in this movie, no. Will this movie reach audiences that it was created for, probably not. Will this movie convert people, again, probably not. This movie, at its core, is not about building you up and making you feel right or justified in your faith. What it is about is making look deep inside yourself and truly consider what you would do if you were asked to write God is dead on a paper in a room full of people who had already done so. I don't think most people are going to like the answer to that question if they answer it honestly. God is not dead!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Revolver- book review

RevolverRevolver by Marcus Sedgwick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Alaskan gold rush killed many a man. Unlike California, where people tended to settle down and enjoy the very nice climate, the Alaskan climate turned deadly for the uninitiated for about 6 months every year. This is a story about a man that brings his whole family to Nome for gold rush, what he does to protect them, and how it comes back to haunt them ten years later.

This is a love story. Not between a boy and girl, but between man and gun. Specifically the colt revolver. We are told that it is not a weapon, but an answer. The book makes this true, just not in the way you might initially think. Apparently the author did a lot of research on guns when he decided to put one in his book and surprised himself with how fascinated he became with them. It is not surprising then, to find that guns are a major theme of this book.

The story is divided in between two time periods. The first being the Nome gold rush and the second being ten years later in a town called Giron in Russia (may be a fictional town). We don't quite find out everything that is going on in Nome until the story in Giron requires it to unfold. The author does a good job of showing how dangerous the cold is and what it takes to live in it.

This book is very short already at about 200 pages, but then some chapters are only a couple pages long and look to be split up for the specific purpose of making the book longer. It is a very quick read. It is a YA book, but adults will find it enjoyable as well. The book does include violence and the threat and allusion of sexual violence, so I would suggest upper YA (12 and up).

View all my reviews

Monday, September 30, 2013

What is Country Music?

Alan Jackson has recently said that real country music is dead and points to the poor sales of he latest album as proof. A). Allen Jackson would probably be an expert on what real country isn't. B). is this just sour grapes for having low album sales. C). What is "real country"? Let it be known that I am from Nashville, Music City, USA. Home of country music and the Grand Old Opry (never actually been). I was born in Clarksville, TN, hometown of Roy Acuff (the king of country music). So, I think this makes me an expert on this matter. But, I don't really know how to define Country Music. If you put Wabash Canonball on the radio today, I don't think many people would listen. A lot of people will point to Johnny Cash or Wayland, Willie, and Hank as what country is, but they were a division of their own and really changed it from what the people before them did. Then video killed the radio stars and you had to be able to look good and sing, but you didn't have to write (this is where Jackson fits in), Garth Brooks came along and was really the first breakthrough star. The man was a performer and could sing, but his stuff was different than what was coming before it too and kind of ushered in the age of country/pop crossover. Now I think you can take songs/artist from any of those time periods and use them as examples of real country music, but it doesn't really tell you what country is. Is it the instruments; the whine of a steal guitar, someone blucking on a banjo, or sawing on a fiddle? Is it a singer singing with a twang in their voice? Is it music performed by an artist from a certain region? I would lead toward instruments but you can use them in any type of music, the twang can be faked and can be really annoying (looking at you Jennifer Nettles....so please stop, please). Can't be regional either. Maybe it is music performed by people that grew up listening to country music. This would have worked many years ago when people where limited to their local radio station, but now the band is full of a bunch of different types of music. I like to tell people that country music tells a story and reflects country values. I think this is a good definition, but it makes you define country values. When I was growing up that seemed to be about hard work, Christian values, and a rebelous streak. I can remember family gatherings at my mammaw's with people bringing their guitars and picking and singing old hymns and standards together. That seems to be what country music is to me. Pickin' and grinnin'. Of course current country values have moved towards redneck values. I don't know what caused this, probably the death of the family farm. So now you get a lot of Jimmy Buffet type songs that glorify drinking in country music. There is a precedent for this with the outlaws, though. Musicians seem to be a diverse folk, that like to play around and experiment with other types of music. I get it. As the commercial success of country music has increased, so to has the ability of these artist to incorporate these experiments into their songs. Take Brad Paisley's latest album as an example. It is full of experimentation and you get songs like Southern Comfort Zone that come across as very traditional country and you also get the song he did with L.L. Cool J about racism that has L.L. (can I call you L.L.) rapping. It is a great album but it is very experimental and not all of the songs fall into the country category. Zac Brown Band are another example. These guys are literally students of music. They don't have one specific sound and they even have an R&B track on their album, but I would say that most of their songs are undeniably country, well to me. So what is country? How do you define it? I think I will say this, you will know it when you hear it.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie RobinsonIn the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Listened to the audio version of it. Maybe I am shaded by the reading of it. Read this for a 3rd and 4th grade book club. I think it might be a little simplistic for this age group. I believe it was unrealistic in its portrayal of race relations in Brooklyn at this point. All the jokes seem to be at the main character's expense and due to limited English speaking ability or the fact that she is actually two years younger than everyone else due to Asian people counting birthdays differently.

My 4th grader is not all that interested in it either. She is a hesitant reader in the first place, and this book just isn't keeping her attention.

View all my reviews