Movie drought

I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve been to an actual movie theater. Summer is my time to go to movies, but I haven’t been to any. None of the recent releases have seemed remotely interesting to me.

Long airplane trips with entertainment consoles have given me a chance to catch up a little, but what disappointment. “Clash of the Titans” was Greek mythology filtered through the new atheism. The theme was “Man must become free of the gods!” Besides that tiresome anachronism, the movie got all of the myths wrong! Thinking to improve on some of the greatest and most wondrous tales of Western civilization, the movie reduced Perseus to an action hero.

Then there was “Alice in Wonderland,” another film that sounded good. But Tim Burton drained the story of all of its humor, logic, fun, and, well, wonder. He tried to make it dark. He turned Alice into an action hero.

The worst was “The Ghost Writer,” in which director Roman Polanski–by the way, Switzerland has decided not to extradite him after all for fleeing his U.S. conviction for statutory rape of a 13-year-old child–sets up a ponderous tale that asks, in effect, how could a thinly-veiled British Prime Minister Tony Blair support the Bush war on terrorism? The movie imagines an ex-prime minister charged with war crimes for that. The reason turns out to be that he was essentially a plant by the CIA who has been running England for years.

So, help me. What have been some good movies lately? I know, the new “Toy Story” and “Shrek.” I’ll Netflix those eventually. (Though I’m running out of movies I want to see on Netflix!) But is there anything not kid-oriented? Our wedding anniversary is coming up, and we always go to a movie as part of the celebration. What should we go to? “Inception” does sound interesting. Is it any good, or will it just annoy me?

Watching television

I am not what you would call an early adopter. Our one-and-half year old granddaughter was poking the buttons on our television set and somehow she broke the thing! The screen would light up, showing no picture, and then fade to black. Since that set dated from about the time when her mother was her age, we decided to buy a new one. I find that you can’t just get one with a cathode-ray tube anymore, so we ended up with a high-definition TV. I’m marveling. We are literally watching TV. Not watching programs, just watching our television set, surfing around for striking visual images. I realize that most of the rest of you have already had that experience with HDTV and now take it for granted, and I realize that some of you are standing tall against the baleful influence of this device. I salute that. But I am enjoying the stunning clarity and beauty of these pictures.

Power outage

Our electricity went out yesterday from 3:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. Was it the North Koreans? Our area’s top-secret agencies? An infrastructure attack on our area’s top-secret agencies? No. Apparently it was just trees that blew over because of a quick storm we had. But how fragile we are. I couldn’t get on the internet, watch television, watch movies, play games, write, read. We cooked out on the grill, lit some paraffin lamps we have, and visited. I guess that’s what they did in the 19th century. But no air conditioning! Anyway, we are way too dependent on technology. And yet, I don’t know what can be done about it at this point.

Vacation tips

Well, we just got back from another grueling road trip, whereupon I have to get ready for an even more grueling trip abroad next week. (You will note that despite the grueling nature of said road trip, I managed to keep up my blogging pretty well, missing only one day, by my reckoning.) So, as the summer unfolds and many of us hit the road, let’s talk about vacation tips.

I like to patronize the independent businesses and roadside joints with a big EAT sign out in front, but those are sometimes hard to find in today’s interstate travel and sometimes one’s travel companions require certain standards of reliability. So let’s talk about chains and franchises.

BEST MOTEL CHAIN. Hampton Inn, for spacious rooms and really comfortable beds.

BEST CHAIN RESTAURANTS. Famous Dave’s, Longhorn, Chili’s


BEST FAST FOOD. KFC, Long John Silver’s

BEST BATHROOMS. You tell me.


These are not ex cathedra declarations, just my views so far. I am totally open to other suggestions. If you have other road trip tips (BEST GASOLINE STATIONS, BEST CONVENIENCE STORES, etc.), please let us all know.

It’s nature to nurture

The conventional view in academia today is that sex is biological, but gender is a cultural construction.  That is, roles that are attached to being male or female are nothing more than the impositions of culture.  Well, I just observed my 15-month-old granddaughter picking up her first doll.   She had played with teddy bears and the like, but she never even saw a doll that looked like a baby.  This one wasn’t hers.  But she picked it up, cradled it, supported its head, and kissed it.  How did she know to do this?  No one taught her to.  She is not particularly receptive to culture at her age.  Her brother, at the ripe age of three, had no interest in that particular toy, even though he has some inchoate notions of babies from the existence of little sister.  But she knew immediately how to play mommy.

My last board meeting at CPH

Well, I just finished my last board meeting at Concordia Publishing House.  When I was first elected by the LCMS convention back in 1998, I did not realize that the term of office was the same as the U.S. Senate, 6 years!  Then I got re-elected.  I’ve been going to quarterly meetings for 12 years.  That’s 48 meetings!

And they have been eventful.  Lots of changes, controversies, and challenges were taken up by the board during the last 12 years.  Now, I leave with a good feeling.  The quality of the books and other resources being published at CPH has shot up during my term, and now the house is turning out books like the Lutheran Study Bible, the Treasury of Daily Prayer, The Lutheran Service Book, the Concordia, and scores of other superb products.  That quality includes Biblical and confessional fidelity and depth.  Not only that, the company has never been stronger financially, defying the times and the trends.

So, farewell, CPH!  I’ll miss my quarterly box of free books, but you are in good hands.