Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 Movies in Review

I know you've been asking yourself, "When will she post her annual movie year-in-review?" The wait is over.

Honestly, I thought it was a mediocre-at-best year for movies. Nothing really moved me or made my top 10 or even top 25 favorite-movies-ever list. Because of this, rather than tell you which ones I liked or didn't like, I decided to kick it up a notch and present my own award categories. For those of you who must know which films I actually recommend, I've added the urls. Now, without further ado, here are Freakin' Angel's top 15 Memorable Movies from 2012

For eye-candy purposes only
  1. Best Ending Unless You Like 'Em Happy:
    "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" (Steve Carrell and Keira Knightley)
  2. Best Non-Gratuitous Use of Sex:
    "The Sessions" (Helen Hunt)
  3. Best (and I use that term loosely) Use of Bods over Brains:
    "Magic Mike" (Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey)
  4. Least Enjoyable Kid's Movie:
    The Odd Life of Timothy Green (Jennifer Garner)
  5. Greatest Visual Appeal in an Ultimately Underwhelming Movie:
    "The Life of Pi"
  6. The Best Use of Awkward Teens:
    The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  7. Best-Suited for the Hallmark Channel or Lifetime (a.k.a. You shouldn't have paid to see this):
    "The Lucky One" (Zac Efron)
  8. Best Use of Chris Rock in a Polka-Dot Wig:
    "Madagascar 3"
  9. The "I'd Watch Justin Timberlake in Anything, but Clint's getting Old and Surly" Movie:
    "Trouble with the Curve" (Justin Timberlake, Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams)
  10. The Year's Most Bipolar Film (Is it a drama, comedy, sports flick, or romance?):
    "Silver Linings Play Book" (Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence)
  11. Best Use of Hip Waders:
    "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen"
  12. Least Accurately Represented by its Commercials:
    "Flight" (Denzel Washington)
  13. The Indie Film Most Awkwardly Teetering Between Fantasy & Reality:
    "Ruby Sparks"
  14. The "Oh Crap, That Could Be Us Someday" movie:
    "Hope Springs" (Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones)
  15. The "Oh Crap, That's Us Now" movie:
    "This is 40" (Paul Ruud and the actress with the annoying voice)
I haven't nagged you about leaving comments recently, but this post cries out for your response. What categories and films would you add to the list?

Next up: Books of the Year!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Random Musings, Volume 5

After Tuesday's post, let's keep it light today with a new edition of Random Musings.
  1. Why do people buy the super cheap toilet paper when it just requires you to use 5x as much to wipe? Even I buy decent toilet paper, and that's saying something.
  2. Speaking of bathrooms, in your office restroom, do you wait in the stall until everyone else has left? Because, yikes!, what if they heard you? These are the same people who flush while they're going because their bodily noises are so much different from the rest of ours.
  3. One more bathroom-related thought: Despite hand soap having been in liquid or foaming form for years, I still wet my hands first. I have no idea whether this is necessary.
  4. It can be difficult to get your husband's attention at times. One surefire way to get him to speak to you is to reduce the number of sports channels you get in your cable package. Of course, there's no guarantee you're going to like what he says.
  5. Don't you love bite-size candy? Did you know bite-size is industry lingo for "they'll eat lots more this way?"
  6. Why do we still sign credit card slips? Is someone actually looking at them?
  7. Buffets are a bad idea for cheap frugal people. We They overeat just to get our their money's worth.
  8. Is there a rule regarding how many days or weeks have to pass before you can wear the same outfit to school or work again?
  9. I love that boots are so popular. My mismatched socks have been given new life.
  10. I don't mind looking unpresentable when going out in public in the area where I currently live, but I wouldn't be caught dead looking that way when I'm out in public in my hometown. You just don't want the people who knew you 25 years ago to think you've fallen apart. The people who know you now assume you've always looked that way. 
Finally, I leave you with two bonus musings with a Christmas theme:
  1. Please don't put a to-from sticker on the gift bag you're using for my present (subliminal message). You realize I want to reuse that bag, right? I'm running dangerously low, and may be forced to purchase some. Gasp!
  2. If the gift you're giving requires batteries, for God's sake include them! The same applies to the necessary items for juicers (fruit), journals (a nice pen), and televisions (a year's worth of cable television).
Now it's time for you to log off and mail me a check for the Silvertones Twelfth Night Revelry on Jan. 12. Don't miss it!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My Own Words Fail Me

Aside from pure grief and heartbreak, a response to Friday's tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut seems  nearly impossible to articulate. Over the past few days, however, I have read a number of Facebook posts and news articles that offered words that resonated with me. I thought I'd put them together here and share them with you.

From "I am Adam Lanza's mother," by Liza Long, Huffington Post

[Upon taking her son to the hospital during one of his angry and threatening episodes] On the intake form, under the question, “What are your expectations for treatment?” I wrote, “I need help.”

And I do. This problem is too big for me to handle on my own. Sometimes there are no good options. So you just pray for grace and trust that in hindsight, it will all make sense.

No one wants to send a 13-year old genius who loves Harry Potter and his snuggle animal collection to jail. But our society, with its stigma on mental illness and its broken healthcare system, does not provide us with other options. Then another tortured soul shoots up a fast food restaurant. A mall. A kindergarten classroom. And we wring our hands and say, “Something must be done.”

I agree that something must be done. It’s time for a meaningful, nation-wide conversation about mental health. That’s the only way our nation can ever truly heal.

God help me. God help Michael. God help us all.

From an interview with Anne Graham Lotz, after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. I assume if asked the question today, her answer would be the same. I don't agree with Anne theologically (I don't believe God ever abandons us, regardless of how often we turn away from him), but she makes an interesting statement.

When asked by an interviewer, "How could God let something like this happen?," she replied:

I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?

From a Facebook post by Rob MacPherson:

In the time I have been on Facebook, I have kept my political views to myself. Paraphrasing Nikki Perrine Passante, I feel like I am in the "sweet spot" when my conservative friends think I am a liberal and when my liberal friends think I am conservative. After today's events, I feel the need to be a part of the debate. I hear the call for tighter gun laws and I think of Prohibition - when we as a country outlawed alcohol and folks still found ways to continue to consume it. We have been killing each other since the dawn of time. Laws banning the supply do nothing to curb the demand. Agenda pushers on both sides of the argument will posture - they have no solutions, only points of view - which are often self-serving and hollow. At the end of the day, what we need is love. The kind of love that includes and encourages. The kind of love that involves and forgives. The kind of love that reminds us that in the final analysis, we are our brother's keeper. I don't know if Adam Lanza would have chosen a different path today had he felt a little more love. But I do know that the longer we ignore each other, the more time we spend self-indulged and detached, the greater the opportunity for senseless violence and heartbreak. I agree with all of those who call for us to hug our kids tonight. But I would also challenge you to think of those who will go un-hugged tonight - who will go un-loved. Pray for them too - they too are your brothers and sisters.

I leave you with this thought from Rev. Dr. Kirk Byron Jones:

"We cry and cling to the hope that God's love is as relentless as evil is heartless."

Amen to that.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

No False Modesty Here

I  met a guy at work last week. He is intelligent, kind, hard-working, giving, and kinda cute. He's also young enough to be my son. And coincidentally, his name is Ian.

I first heard about this student during my job interview at Villanova. In talking about how special the community is here and their dedication to service, the VP of University Communications told me about this kid from the engineering school who was doing volunteer work in Panama. The university decided to use his story in one of their commercials. They sent a camera crew to Panama and scripted Ian's lines. And Ian politely called this woman to express his concern for his "part." I don't recall the specifics, but basically he felt that what he'd been asked to say wasn't really him. That he was being asked to build up himself, and Villanova, as the heroes in the story while leaving out the efforts of the people in the village where he was working. He wasn't comfortable with it and asked if he could rewrite his lines, and he did. And it left a real impression on this VP.

Because Ian is quite an amazing young man (prestigious scholarship, awarding winning papers, perfect grades), the attention didn't stop there. There were stories about him in the College of Engineering's publications and on its website. He spoke at a meeting of the advisory board during my second week on the job. And last week I informed him via email that he had been selected as one of the students I was going to feature in the College's annual review. He responded by saying, "I'm undecided about whether I'd like to do this. Can I stop by sometime to ask you some questions?" I replied by saying:
"Sure thing, Ian. I understand if you’re feeling 'overexposed.' I know about the commercial and other attention you’ve received (well-deserved, of course), and I don’t want you to feel like the poster child for the College.  Three professors recommended you, so I had to ask."
Ian replied saying that was his concern exactly. And then he stopped by to see me. He was a gracious, mature young man, and he politely explained that he has a hard time saying no because he wants to make everyone happy even though he isn't comfortable with all the attention. And this was not false modesty. You can spot that a mile away. I explained that this feature story was actually to be in his own words. He could speak to anything he felt passionate about or about a service experience that changed him and the people he worked with. He could write about anything at all; it would give him an opportunity to have a say and a voice instead of just being trotted out as our golden boy. I also suggested I shouldn't be his first "no." (My, "I'm kidding, but I'm serious" approach to many issues). I tried not to use my mom guilt powers to convince him. Ian decided he needed the weekend to think about it. In the end, he did in fact use me to make personal progress in his ability to say "No." He declined to be featured in my article.

The point of this story wasn't to introduce you to an amazing, bright, altruistic, and talented young man, but to bring attention to his humility. Is it just me, or is this incredibly rare? How many young people (or old people, for that matter) don't want the spotlight? Don't want to be recognized for their accomplishments and good deeds? That recognition opens doors and this kid has his whole career ahead of him. Now's the time to flaunt it if you've got it. I think of my own kids and I know they appreciate positive attention. One of them lives for it. I don't know where she gets it. HA.

I think another reason why Ian's nature took me by surprise is because I just left a job where I met or learned of many Christian leaders who have no such humility. I knew one who used every opportunity to drop his title, his degrees, his connections, and his accomplishments into every conversation, every email message, and every article. I've mentioned before the best-selling Christian author who threw a hissy fit when his name was inadvertently left off a list of book contributors in a related press release. Look at the Joel Osteens, Rick Warrens, TD Jakes, and Joyce Meyers of the world and there's no question that attention, recognition, and having a high-profile move them almost as much as the good Lord himself.

I have no idea whether this student Ian is a Christian or not, but somewhere along the line he learned and took to heart a valuable and difficult lesson:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
--Philippians 2:3-4

The world needs more Ians in it.  
If you're interested, here's a look at the Villanova commerical which featured Ian:

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Love Story

I recall a conversation with a friend on the topic of greeting cards. More specifically, cards for her husband. Her husband is the demonstrative, lavish-shows-of-affection type and she's just about the complete opposite. Sometimes she feels guilty about this and on the rare occasion that the mood strikes, she'll pick up one of those warm and fuzzy, lovey-dovey cards for her man. Unfortunately, he often doesn't see them.
"I have good intentions, but by the time I planned to give it to him he's somehow irritated me again and the mood is lost." 
This leads me to the purpose for this post. A declaration of my love for my husband. I know this is not typical Kim territory. Positive, loving, and kind are generally not words associated with this freakin' angel, but the spirit is moving me today. I did consider waiting to share this on our anniversary (Jan. 7) or his birthday (Jan. 8), but there's the distinct possibility that he will tick me off by then. So here it is.

My husband Rob. A love story. Quit rolling your eyes and go with it.

Like every married couple, Rob and I have had (and will continue to have) our ups and downs. Our arguments are generally short-lived, but there are stretches of time when they seem to come more often than either of us would like. Some years overall seem tougher than others in every way, not just for our relationship. I recall 2011 being pretty crappy, but as we wind down 2012, I find myself smiling. Me, smiling? Weird, huh?

So what's made this a year worth smiling about? I think it was the way all the forces combined to remind, reassure, and reinforce what an amazing gift the love is between a husband and wife. More than a year ago Rob was suffering with extreme back problems that resulted in ER visits and ultimately surgery. I held his hand and tried to comfort him, but was otherwise helpless while he dealt with pain that actually made childbirth seem like a walk in the park. While my heart broke to see him in such agony, I think the brokenness, when healed, made my heart--and my love for him--even stronger. And this year when my depression brought me lower than I'd been in a decade, Rob took care of me. Never losing patience or avoiding the problem despite not truly understanding what I was experiencing because he hasn't been there himself. He simply loved me when I most needed loving.

Somewhere along the line Rob also started making a visible effort to be more involved on the home front with everything from housework and the kids to my ever-growing to do list. He knows my least favorite chores and takes them upon himself. He knows I hate running errands so he does the running. And he started doing whatever he could to deal with sick kids or their appointments so I wasn't always sacrificing my career to handle everything that came along. At the same Rob started pitching in, he became more attentive and affectionate. I used to tell him I always knew when he wanted something because his level of helpful activity and romantic gestures were blatantly obvious took a marked turn. Now I never know when he wants something because his good deeds are such a regular part of how he treats me. I'm never sure now when it's time for sex.This new approach to marriage was very disorienting for a while, but trust me, I've gotten used to it.

Don't get me wrong. Rob was never a lousy husband (I know a few of those). I never questioned his love for me. But like many women, there were times I felt like my biggest job as a wife and mother was making sure everything didn't fall down around us. We were in that rut that is so easy to fall into after 15+ years of marriage, two full time jobs and full-time kids and incredibly full lives. I truly believe having cared for each other through some difficult times and actually listening to each other's needs has brought us to this much better place. I don't know if it's Rob, the new job, or the correct combination of meds (probably all three), but I haven't felt this content, this thankful, or this light in a very long time.

Rob, I know you don't appreciate being the subject of my blog posts, but I hope you know this one was written in love to thank you for all you've done, all you're doing, and all you are to me. Now don't screw it up.