Category Archives: The Cinnamon Girl

The Shack – A Movie Review

 


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The ShackI had a number of reactions to The Shack, almost all of them positive, but my first reaction struck me very early on in the movie. The voice-over narration (provided by a very much in-his-element Tim McGraw) speaks of the family at the center of the film, of the religious devotion of the mother, Nan Phillips played by Radha Mitchell, and how she has such a close relationship with God that she calls God “Papa.” It goes on to tell of the church going habits of the Phillips family and then settles into a lingering shot of the family in church, praying and singing hymns.

I turned to The Cinnamon Girl, my all-time favorite movie-going partner, and said “people will accept all kinds of things in movies: superheroes, elves, hobbits, the undead, but throw a church scene in and people stay away in droves.” This is no great insight, but I do think it is a true observation. Audiences are highly uncomfortable with depictions of normal, every-day faith on television or in film. Audiences can suspend all kinds of disbelief, but do not expect them to stomach and kind of actual belief.

If you are reading this review, you know that The Shack deals with a lot more than ordinary belief. The film centers on a very solid Sam Worthington as Mack Phillips, a man who has suffered much tragedy in his life (and has caused some, too). The final straw that breaks his relationship with God happens in a shack and the shack becomes the place where Mack will have to wrestle with his faith. As he meets the Trinity in physical form, Mack must decide if what he is experiencing is real and if, at the end of the day, that matters. Mack is so distant from God, encountering God in the flesh, as it were, may not be enough to fix what is broken inside him.

The Shack is a very good movie. In moments where I suspected it would disappoint, it did not. The movie actually asks some very big questions and provides very few answers. It tackles issues of the problem of evil in the world, the question of how an all-knowing, all-loving god can allow suffering and the tension between religion and faith. Rarely does the movie take the easy way out of these questions and it should be commended for this.

The film’s success rests squarely on the chemistry between Worthington and the ever wonderful Octavia Spencer. She is terrific here. In a role that could become tiresome and preachy, Spencer finds humor and a character arc. That is saying something considering the character she is playing. She and Worthington do fine together. He is very buttoned down for most of the film, but that is what the story calls for. Much like other actors with whom she is paired, Worthington comes to life in scenes with Spencer. Their chemistry is the second best part of the movie

The best part is Avraham Aviv Lalush. Playful, magnetic and, yes, inspiring, Lalush takes a character who has been portrayed time-and-again and makes him his own. The movie is better ever time Lalush is on screen and I wanted to see much more of him.

Not everything works and director Stuart Hazeldine is asked to capture on film things that are almost impossible to capture, but he does a fine job. The movie he has crafted is unapologetic, moving and spiritual. Adapted from the novel by William P. Young, The Shack is not always easy to watch, but it always has something to say. I have yet to read the source material so I do not know whether it was director or author who chose to have God represented by an African American woman, an Asian woman, a Muslim man and a Native American man but well done! Very, very well done!

I would be leaving something out of this review if I did not mention that I was moved by the movie. It does have emotional heft and spiritual resonance.

It deserves a wider audience than it is likely to get.

THE SHACK receives FOUR NOTES IN A MAILBOX out of a possible FIVE.

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I Will Be Her Valentine If She’ll Continue to Have Me…


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This Valentines Day, I count myself lucky that The Cinnamon Girl hasn’t come to her senses, that she still wants me as her Valentine and that she still loves me as she has for these many years.

I have the best Valentine in the world.

I am reminded of this quote from Much Ado About Nothing: “They say the lady is fair: ’tis a truth, I can bear them witness; and virtuous: ’tis so, I cannot reprove it; and wise, but for loving me:by my troth, it is no addition to her wit, nor no great argument of her folly.”

She is fair, wise and virtuous, and what I have lucked into is very special.

It’s special to be married to your best friend.

It’s special to feel romance hasn’t faded in the years you’ve been together.

It’s special to know that the person you most want to spend time with also wants to most spend time with you.

It’s special to know that someone knows you better than you know yourself.

It’s special to be in love like this.

My Valentine is The Cinnamon Girl. She’ll be my Valentine for as long as she’ll have me.

She is strong. Intelligent. Insightful. Loving. Sexy.

She is everything I have ever wanted in a partner and she is so much more than I deserve.

Happy Valentines Day, my Cinnamon Girl.

2017-valentines-edit

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Link’n’Blogs – 8.26.16 – Sometimes Yield to Pure Joy


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I loved Lincoln Logs when I was a kid. Though I never entertained the idea that I would be a designer, engineer or architect, something about putting together these wooden and plastic pieces was simply simple fun. Connecting to ideas through the blogosphere seems similar to this pursuit, hence the title of this weekly post. Each Friday, I intend to post something interesting I’ve read out there on the internets. Hopefully others will find these posts as thought provoking as I have.

I have no explanation for what may happen if you click the link below this box. You can blame The Cinnamon Girl for putting this in my head… and, if you click the link, it will be in yours, too!

Cat Adopts Monkey… Really

Cat and Monkey

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Some Dates Count, Count Some Dates – The Cinnamon Girl’s Birthday


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Regular readers of this blog, friends and family and anyone who has seen The Cinnamon Girl and me together knows something about us: we kind of enjoy being in one another’s company. We just spent a terrific weekend in Washington, DC, doing exactly what we like to do:

  • Enjoying good food (LeMadeline, Fishers Farmers Bakers, Lauriol Plaza)
  • Seeing sites we want to see at the pace we want to see them (National Portrait Gallery, the Spy Museum, Mount Vernon, both Air and Space Museum locations)
  • Walking, walking, walking
  • … and, talking, talking, talking.

Ostensibly, this trip to DC coincided with The Cinnamon Girl’s birthday. It was, in theory (because I break rules and gave her a few other items) her present, but the real present is mine. The real present is her. The real present is her presence.

I am not writing this on her actual birthday because, while some dates count, it seems to me we actually might be better served counting some dates like the dates I’ve been able to spend with The Cinnamon Girl, like the dates I’ve been amazed by her intelligence and beauty, like the dates she’s made me laugh, like the dates she’s dazzled me with her humor, like the dates she’s made our children into the young adults they are, like each-and-every date from the time I fell in love with her until yesterday- her birthday – today and tomorrow.

How many July 10ths doesn’t matter. Those dates don’t count.

Counting each day with The Cinnamon Girl in my life, that matters.

That counts.

It counts higher than I can ever reach.

 

 

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Today Is Your Independence Day! Mine, Too!


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Happy Independence Day, America!

Cap 4th

This is a post from a few years back with a few additions:

The older I get, the more patriotic I become. I have noted that progression in myself for years. I think it’s a good thing. While there is a lot to be critical of, there is also a lot to love about living in the United States of America and being an American citizen, but politics are not the subject of this blog. Impressions of the Fourth of July are!

One: This happened yesterday!

Two: Patriotic Trek

Did you know there are all kinds of patriotic episodes of Star Trek? You should know (and watch them!). Declare Your Independence with These Classic Star Trek Episodes (from trekmovie.com.)

Three: Star Trek Screws up Patriotism

There are a number of egregious references to the United States of America (not involving time travel) in the original Star Trek television series but here are two that really, really stand out: In the episode “The Omega Glory,” Kirk and the crew encounter two warring factions on a planet called “the Yangs” and “the Khoms.” Allegory alert anyone? How subtle is the clip (called by some “Kirk’s Greatest Speech Ever”) you can see HERE?

Worse, though, is the episode entitled “The Savage Curtain” during which Kirk and company encounter a being that believes he IS Abraham Lincoln! Ouch.

star-trek-lincoln

Four: Neil Diamond Gets Patriotism Right

I could listen to Neil Diamond music all day long. In fact, sometimes, I do. Somehow, some way, a number of Neil Diamond songs have become anthems for patriotism. A less obvious example is “Sweet Caroline” which Diamond admitted he was inspired to write by a young Caroline Kennedy. In recent years it has developed into a 7th inning stretch favorite for the Boston Red Sox. At no time was this more poignant than after the Boston Marathon bombing when not only the Red Sox played it (Neil was there to sing it), but stadiums around the country followed suit. You can see Neil belt it out HERE.

More obvious is Neil’s Coming to America. The break out hit from Diamond’s more-watchable-than-you-remember The Jazz Singer, Diamond’s song is a passionate anthem for the immigrant history of this country. This song has a special place in my heart as I once sang it on the radio to try to win a contest for free Neil Diamond concert tickets but, as the radio hosts were about to award me the tickets, they accidentally dropped my call. I am still bitter.  You can hear Neil HERE.

Five: The movie Independence Day

You remember the speech. Watch it HERE again. Then stand up and salute! Better than the sequel from what I hear…

Six: President Obama Almost Cancels Independence Day 

The Cinnamon Girl has, in recent years, made am AMAZING Fourth of July cake.

Here it is:

Three years ago, wondering if the cake had lost its appeal at the traditional family gathering, she suggested she was going to bring a different dessert. I let The Mater know, as she was hosting the family as she had for years, so that she could plan accordingly. About an hour later, the phone rang and Dad was on the saying: “President Obama called. He’s canceled the Fourth of July unless you bring the cake. Bring the cake.” She brought the cake.

4th Cake

 

Happy Fourth of July, all!

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I Carry This Feeling… Nine Years


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And you were right, when I walked into your house,

I knew I’d never want to leave.

The Cinnamon Girl and I have been married nine years today and I love her more now than I ever have.

We met later in our lives, The Cinnamon Girl and I, later in our lives after we’d lived a little, after we’d had children, after we’d been through ups and downs. We met when we were adults. We met when we were certain of who we were apart from other.

We met at the perfect time.

The single, best decision I’ve ever made in my entire life was marrying The Cinnamon Girl. Simplest. Easiest. Best.

Early in our engagement The Cinnamon Girl and I made another decision. This decision is easily the second best decision I’ve ever made in my life.

I don’t know which of us posed the idea first but I would guess it was The Cinnamon Girl because she is both more insightful and more wise than I. We made the decision to treat each other with kindness, always. We decided that kindness would be our default when talking to each other and about each other. We determined that we wanted to treat each other as well or better than we treated anyone else.

When you’re blessed enough to be married to someone like The Cinnamon Girl, being kind is very easy.

We’ve lived through nine years together, nine years of raising kids and watching them grow, nine years of career ups and career downs, nine years of weaving our closeness ever closer.

Nine years of kindness and charity and love.

I am a better man now than I was before. I am a stronger man. I am a kinder man. That’s what the love of this woman has done for me.

These nine years have been all but perfect. I know the next nine will be even more wonderful.

Happy Anniversary, Cinnamon Girl.

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A Mother’s Day With Cinnamon


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My wonderful wife, The Cinnamon Girl, is one of the most talented storytellers I know. This is not an exaggeration shared through love colored glasses, it is a fact. I have seen her take over a dinner party with this ability, making people laugh until they cry. I have watched her take over many a classroom with it, inspiring students and engaging them with her wit and smarts. Frankly, I love when she tells stories because she’s so good at it.

She fascinates and entertains our children. That’s another statement of fact and it’s also not something that I am exaggerating. She treats them as equals, as young adults and they more than appreciate that. They like being entertained by her, by her stories and her offhanded irreverence. They understand she has important things to say to them. They feel her love for them.

We have three wonderful kids, and that’s primarily because of what a wonderful mother she is. She has helped them grow and helped them find their places in the world. What a gift she is to them.

I simply couldn’t ask for a better partner in every way.

I couldn’t ask for our children to have a better mother.

I couldn’t ask for a better wife.

Happy Mother’s Day, Cinnamon Girl!

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