Monday, November 30, 2015

St. Andrew Novena

Much of what is below is a repost from years earlier.

I think about St. Andrew quite a bit.  He was one of the first four called by Christ.  It was James, John, Andrew and Andrew's brother Peter.  But of that quartet, only the trio of Peter, James, and John ended up being Jesus' closest friends.

I wonder if Andrew was like us and got jealous.  According to the Gospel of John, it was Andrew who brought Peter to the Lord, and the Lord seemed to like Peter better.  How often have we introduced a sibling or friend to our inner circle only to have them become more popular or have a greater apptitude for what you enjoy?

But I bet that Andrew was better than most of us.  He was probably a model of humility.  I like to imagine that he was happy for his brother and he was content to have others loved and esteemed more than himself.

My favorite story is about when he died.  They tied him to the cross, but for days and days he preached non-stop to the point where the officials realized it was doing them more harm than good.

But when they came to take him down, Andrew looked at Jesus and told him he was tired and he just wanted to go home to heaven and be with Him.  So the soldiers were unable to take him down and Andrew finally went home to the Jesus and his brother Peter on November 30th 60AD.

Today is the feast of St. Andrew.  And there is a special novena prayer that is prayed between now and Christmas.  It goes as follows:

St. Andrew Christmas Novena

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born Of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen.

That prayer is prayed 15 times a day until the ends.  My wife and I pray this together every year and have found many graces through the intercession of St. Andrew.  I pray that all of you do as well.

God Bless.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sunday Best: TV Dramas of All Time #11 - Arrow


Fresh off of the ending to the long-running DC Comic show Smallville, it was announced that they were going to be doing a show about Green Arrow.  Like Iron Man before the Robert Downey Jr. film, Green Arrow had always been a second tier character, kind of a Batman-lite.  So I was dubious about basing an entire show around him.

But boy was I wrong.

As the show developed, it not only had fantastic action, heart-breaking melodrama, and witty humor, but it also had tons of Easter eggs for comic fanboys like me.

At first I was very concerned about all the strange liberties they were taking with the character, chief of which was that our main character Oliver Queen/The Arrow (Stephen Amell), was killing bad guys.  I also had trouble connecting to all of the supporting characters and their storylines.  But after sticking with the producers' vision, I saw the slow unfolding and evolution of the characters, showing me that this creative team really knew how to use the medium of television to tell long form stories.  And this is key to understanding the brilliance of the show.  A lot of series are afraid to change things up and simply give you the same thing each week.  And while there is a generally same mixture of action/drama/humor in each episode, the producers are able to take the characters on a real journey so that even our main character is not the man we met 4 years ago, for good or ill.

I have also come to love how they've slowly brought in the more fantastical elements of the DC Universe instead of thrusting Oliver into a world of super-powers.  This not only helps ground the show into some kind of believability, but it slowly ups the stakes as Oliver gets better and better at being a hero.

What set this episode apart and what made this the threshold was how it dealt with the seemingly unavoidable suspicion that Oliver was the Arrow.  Like in Batman Begins, the long lost billionaire returns home and suddenly there is also a masked vigilante around.  Who couldn't put 2 and 2 together.  The fact that the producers look at this possibility and meet it head on shows a bit more respect for the audience that other producers have shown in the past.  But this show was also revelatory in terms of how broken Oliver is from his experiences on the island and how he really hasn't healed.  He is not a hero yet, but you can still root for him to overcome his pain.


"Draw Back Your Bow"
They often say that a hero is only as good as his villain.  And the villain in this episode, Cupid (Amy Gumenick) is a lovesick stalker that is way too over-the-top.  For the most part, Arrow has done of a good job of not going too silly with its villains, but Cupid just rubbed me the wrong way.  Although I have to say that the producers do something pretty cool in the episodes leading up to this by placing the actress in the background of a number of scenes so that when you go back you can see how she was stalking him.

This is not only the best episode of the series thus far, but it is one of the best single episodes of television I have seen in a long time.  This season finale is the culmination of the season-long build up between Oliver and Deathstroke.  The stakes are so high because the villain is not only stronger than our hero, but also much smarter with an army of superpowered soldiers.  So Oliver has to raise his own army and the confrontation is fantastic.  But that wasn't what blew me away.  It was a quiet moment back at Ollie's mansion.  SPOILERS BELOW:
For those familiar with the comics, Oliver Queen and Black Canary (Katie Cassidy) are the central couple of their comic, like Superman and Lois Lane.  And throughout the series, the two danced around this love/hate relationship involving lies, betrayal, and love triangles.  One of the things to lift the tension was the introduction of the character Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards), a high-tech nerd who is so incredibly awkward, says things that fans of the show are thinking, and has the worst kind of out-of-her-league crush on Oliver.  As Oliver keeps trying to connect to his old love, it was funny and heartbreaking to watch Felicity pine away hopelessly for our hero.  And then this:

My jaw dropped.  I never expected them to do this and it made the mushy romantic in me squeal.  But the show wasn't done with me and did not make it that simple.  Another twist lay around the corner that was so well played that I forgave the show for toying with my emotions.  It was a fantastic piece of writing, directing, and acting.  And this episode raised this show above the numerous other shows I have watched in my life.


Each week Arrow brings new challenges and new drama.  It is a show that allows its characters to grow and change and evolve in ways that brings something new, fresh, and exciting as the series rolls on.  That is why it is the #11 Drama of all time and it is the greatest comic book superhero show of them all thus far.

Friday, November 27, 2015

TV Review: Jessica Jones Season 1

Jessica Jones is the second Netflix Marvel series to come out, following on the heels of Daredevil.  Both shows are attempts for the Marvel brand to show a darker, more mature side.

Daredevil was dark.

But Jessica Jones is dirty.

Jessica Jones is about the title character (played by a amazing Krysten Ritter), a former superhero who is now a private investigator.  From the first moments of the show we can see there is something horribly broken about her and she tries to cover it with hard fighting and hard drinking.  Jessica is then pulled into a case that is directly connected with her traumatic past.  And this sets up the entire trajectory for the season.

The show has strong connections to the Film Noir tradition of the hard-boiled detective, and it is very successful in this respect.  But the show gets dragged down instead of energized by its vulgarity.

I don't mean to say that the show is necessarily bad.  There are many fine things about it that I will discuss below.  But the big takeaway for me was how this show pushed the envelope in terms of mature content for a Marvel property.

This should come as little surprise since the comic that it is based on, Alias, is the first Marvel comic ever to drop the F-Bomb, among its many R-Rated features.

The comparison to Daredevil may be a bit unfair considering the storylines and subject matter, especially because Jessica Jones suffers in comparison.  Daredevil was the darkest thing that I've had ever seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe up until that point.  But the darkness was of a kind that set the heroes in dire relief against their harrowing circumstances.  Jessica Jones does the same thing, but the level of sexuality and vulgarity acts as more of a distraction than anything.

I find it so interesting that even though there was some sex in Daredevil, there isn't nearly as much or as explicit as in Jessica Jones.  Thankfully there is no direct nudity.  But there is little left to the imagination when depicting the acts themselves.  I'm usually not one to hunt out sexism in media, but I find it so interesting that Marvel's first central female hero on screen is defined a lot by her sexuality, whereas the male heroes are not.

I find it ironic that the show's main producer/writer, Melissa Rosenberg understands how being more graphic can turn off viewers.  This show deals with the subject of rape, but Rosenberg said in an interview with the LA Times:

"With rape, I think we all know what that looks like. We've seen plenty of it on television and I didn't have any need to see it, but I wanted to experience the damage that it does. I wanted the audience to really viscerally feel the scars that it leaves. It was not important to me, on any level, to actually see it. TV has plenty of that, way too often, used as titillation, which is horrifying." 

I agree completely with her point, but I don't think she sees how this could also be applied to the other graphic content.  The show also has an abortion, which is sometimes a deal-breaker for me.  And unlike Daredevil, Jessica Jones does not have the same respect for religion.  While the show never comes out and attacks faith, there is one scene with a Catholic woman and the writing for her is so terrible because it makes her sound almost delusional.  The show flirts with nihilism, but only in the way Daredevil did as a temptation rather than a destination.

The other big drawback of the show is that most of the side characters feel like distractions and are not as interesting.  That isn't to say their performances are in any way bad.  But the non-Jessica storylines lack anything that held my interest.

Having said all of the above, there is still much to admire about the show.

The main storyline is incredibly compelling.  Jessica's struggles are not only external and filled with spectacle, but they are also internal and visceral.  There are a lot of unexpected gut punches in the show.

The writing, while admittedly vulgar, is also incredibly clever.  Plot threads are woven throughout the series and slowly pay off.  The payoff at the end of episode 9, "AKA The Sin Bin" was so cathartic that I punched the air in excitement.  And the show does a wonderful slow build the entire season as the tension and stakes mount higher and higher with each passing episode.

The performance are also fantastic.  I was a bit skeptical about Krysten Ritter only because I had never seen her tackle a character this complex.  But she was more than up for the job.  She has a disaffected cadence in her voice that could be mistaken for indifference, but she uses that tone as part of her characters layers.  And Jessica is at times repulsive and heroic and Ritter plays those contradictions beautifully.

But the standout of the show is without question David Tennant as Killgrave.  I've read a number of reviews that say that Killgrave is best MCU villain, even better than Loki, and I would have to agree.  Tennant is charming, terrifying, sympathetic, vile, funny, and disgust often at the same time.  Tennant makes every insane and evil choice completely believable.  And even though you accept that he is the worst kind of villain, there is a small part of you that hopes, deep down, there is something redeemable.  I credit that mostly to Tennant's ability to see the man behind the monster, while never letting you forget that he is a monster.

The other supporting actors are very good as well.  Rachel Taylor as Trish Walker (Hellcat in the comics), Eka Darville as druggie neighbor Malcolm, Carrie-Anne Moss as sleazy, upscale attorney Jeri Hogarth, and Mike Colter as Luke Cage are all top notch.

So because of the good content and bad content I am in the awkward position of not being able to recommend the show.  Again, this does not mean that it is a poor quality show at all or that you shouldn't watch it all.  But because of the mature content, it may detrimental for those who struggle with graphic content.

I'm hoping the second season will rise above this one.

4 out of 5 stars

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanks For Nothing (repost)

 I am very grateful for all of the wonderfully positive feedback on this essay, so I thought I would share it again.

This past year has I've seen so many difficult and challenging things that my friends and family have had to endure.  As bad as those things are, one silver lining is that it makes me pay attention to all of the good things that I was taking for granted.

Happy Thanksgiving!

(originally published November 22, 2012)

Thanks For Nothing

When I was 15-years-old, I got a little sick.  In what was obviously an over-reaction on his part, my dad took me to the Emergency Room.  As it turned out, I had pneumonia and my blood oxygen level was down to about 50%.  If he had waited much longer to take me I might have died.

I share this with you so that you will understand why I am a little bit of a hypochondriac now.  I don't freak out at every sneeze or obsessively lather myself in Purell.  But whenever I have chronic problem, I begin to have a persistent fear of the worst.

For the past 4 weeks I've had a persistent cough.  I cannot remember having one that has lasted this long.  So of course, my mind helplessly gravitated to the worst case scenarios, despite the constant assurances from my long-suffering wife.  After weeks of fretting, I went yesterday morning for a chest X-ray.

After they were taken, I was asked to wait for a moment alone in the exam room.  I stood there for 5 minutes in that room with its claustrophobic white walls and antiseptic smell and thought about all those people who came to that room and got bad news that resulted in a lot more time between claustrophobic white walls and antiseptic smells.

Finally, after hours of fretting (and trying to distract myself with a viewing of Wreck-It Ralph) we got the results.

And what did they find?


They found nothing.  I was worried about nothing.

I was put on some new medication and I've been feeling a bit better.

I didn't realize how much the storm clouds had been hovering over me until today.  I was walking around, doing chores and errands with such a light heart.  It was because I knew that my cough, though a bit annoying, was ultimately nothing.


Today is Thanksgiving.  It has always been one of my favorite holidays, and not because I eat enough turkey to put a man twice my size into a literal coma (although that is a plus).  I love that we take time out of our year to appreciate the blessings of life and give thanks to our Provider.

My boss, a man I greatly admire, once said to me that you cannot be truly happy unless you are truly thankful.  Happiness only comes when you acknowledge that everything thing you have is a gift from God.

I have tried to take those words to heart and be thankful for everything I have.  I have an holy wife, a loving family, loyal friends, a fulfilling job, and more action figures than you can shake a stick at (if that's your idea of a good time).  Bing Crosby sang that we should count our blessings instead of sheep.  But I never get to the end of count because God has been so very generous to me.

But all this time I have been overlooking something else to be thankful for.


I wrote earlier about how much I have come to realize what a blessing it is to feel normal.  But I did not take it the necessary step further.

There is nothing wrong with my lungs.  But it could have been something.  And that something could have been not-so-bad to catastrophic.  But God, in His goodness, gave me nothing.

About 2 years ago I was on the highway on my way to work in the middle of winter.  I was in the left lane when I noticed a car had skidded off the road.  I tried to get a better look, but I must have not been paying attention to the road.  Because I then hit a patch of ice and my car spun out and did a 180 degree turn that hurled me across the other lane.  And do you know what I hit?


For one of the only times I can remember, there were no cars around me on that part of the road.  I skidded off to the right embankment facing the opposite direction.  But I was fine.  Nothing happened.

A few weeks ago during Hurricane Sandy, the wind was so strong it blew down a tree in my back yard.  What did it hit?


A little to right and it would have destroyed my shed.  If it fell in the opposite direction it would have caved in the roof and crushed my wife and I.  But instead, nothing happened.

This world is so full of darkness and danger, disease and disaster.  Some of it falls on us.  But a lot of it doesn't.

So today I'm going to give thanks not only for the all of the things God has given me this past year, but I'll also praise Him for the "nothings" too.

No sudden falls down the stairs that break a limb.  No food poisoning from that new restaurant.  No angry student deciding to respond to his detention with his fist.  No home burglary in the middle of the night.  No careless accident to hurt anyone I love.

I do have my share of crosses, many of them of my own making, but I have not been crushed by them. And I am not saying that any of the aforementioned catastrophes won't one day be mine to bear.  One day, an X-ray may find something.

But not today.

Today, I am thankful for nothing.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Trailer Time: Captain America - Civil War

To my mind, Captain America: The Winter Soldier was an unexpectedly excellent film.  So my hopes are very high for the follow up: Civil War.

And so far, the trailers look pretty intense.  I like the fact that they are delving into the moral ambiguity of conflicting loyalties.  I just hope that they don't go the same thematic route as the Civil War comic.


Monday, November 23, 2015

New Evangelizers Post - The Lord’s Prayer Part 1: The Heavenly Family

I have a new article up at  

The Lord’s Prayer, also commonly known as the “Our Father” is the perfect prayer of Jesus Christ. When His disciples asked Him how we should pray, Jesus did not give a vague subjective answer. He said, “This is how you are to pray.” (Lk 11:1) The prayer is so powerful and profound that that it is the only penance that Fr. Larry Richards every gives after confession. One Lord’s Prayer prayed well can be more spiritually effective than many heaped on devotions. It is the prayer that we recite word for word at each mass, with every decade of the rosary, and many other times throughout our lives.

This article will be the first in a series, unpacking the theology of this prayer and hopefully understand its perfection a bit more.

(There are two versions of the prayer found in Matthew and Luke’s Gospel. Since Matthew’s version is the more expanded, traditionally used version, we will focus on that one.)

You can read the entire article here.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sunday Best: TV Dramas of All Time #12 - Star Trek Deep Space Nine


This is the best Star Trek series.

Hands down.

And yet, I think that it is one of the most undervalued and under-appreciated.  It came after the more popular Star Trek The Next Generation and before the highly hyped Star Trek Voyager.

But DS9 was different than all the other Treks.  They were not about exploring new worlds but in preserving the world they had.  Slowly over the course of the series, the show became a show about war.  And that high-stakes drama made it stand apart from all the other shows.  It was amazing to watch the evolution of characters that you did not get a chance to see on the original series or on TNG.  The complicated alliances and betrayals brought the series to fantastically frustrating emotional complexity.

Like other Treks there are a bevy of strange and exotic characters, the best of which is Constable Odo, who is to my mind the most complicated and tragic Star Trek character of all time.  Back this up with some fantastic performances and you have the makings of a science fiction that looks at the darker side of violence and human nature, but with that same ultimate Trek optimism about human life.

This was the episode when I realized that DS9 was not a TNG clone.  In this episode the perennial omnipotent villain Q shows up to mess with the crew of the space station.  As before, he transports the characters to exotic fantasy locales and taunts them.  And then came the moment when Commander Sisco (Avery Brooks) punches Q in the face.  When told that Picard would never hit him, Sisco's response is perfect: "I'm not Captain Picard."  And it was at that moment that I realized that this show was more violent, more dangerous than I had anticipated and that the old rules didn't really apply.

"Trials and Tribbilations"
I know that there is a lot of nostalgia for this particular story from the original series.  And there were a few clever easter eggs spread throughout.  But the story felt like a weird stretch by the producers to connect to older fans as a way to increase the fan base.  It felt very out of place and out of character for the show.

"Move Along Home"
It is unfortunate that the worst episode of the series happens so early.  I can imagine a number of fans being turned off at this point.  Thankfully it occurred after the TV Threshold episode.  The problem with this story in which Quark enters into a game where the crew are pawns, is that it is a story without purpose or consequence.  It forces the crew into strange and awkward actions (I do not need to see Sisko singing and playing hopscotch).  And at the end of it all, the whole experience feels pointless.

"Homefront" and "Paradise Lost"
Here you can see the seeds of paranoia that will later play out in series producer's later project Battlestar Galactica.  In this episode, the Changelings have infiltrated Earth and the entire planet is riddled with fear.  There is a wonderfully tense seen where Sisko even suspects his own father.  The show is a good balanced mediation of freedom vs. safety.  But the best part of the episode is where a Changeling imitating O'Brien speaks to Sisko and asks him how many Changelings he thinks there are on the entire planet causing all of this chaos.  He says to Sisko, "What if I were to tell you there were only four?"  The horror of what this statement implies is terrible and profound.  And from this point on, the dire stakes of the entire Star Trek universe is placed in a desperate perspective.


This show deserves a revisit from fans of science fiction and Star Trek in particular.  You will find some true TV treasures here.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Film Review: The Martian

This is Ridley Scott's best movie since Gladiator.

Part Apollo 13, part Cast Away, The Martian works as a survival drama and as a science fiction set piece.

Set in the not too distant future, the first manned Mars mission is imperiled by unforeseen conditions on the planet.  The crew led by Lewis (Jessica Chastain) makes the call to pull out.  However Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is accidentally left behind and forced to find a way to survive in this foreboding landscape while the people on Earth try and figure out a way to get him home.

The comparison to Apollo 13 and Cast Away are appropriate not only because of the plot and the themes, but because like those movies, The Martian is fascinating to watch.  As each new problem arrises in Mark's journey, it pulls you to the edge of your seat wondering what he is going to do next.  The script directly lays out his problems, but that explicitness actually works for the film by giving the audience a clear view of the challenging terrain ahead.  And as Mark uses all of his science know-how to survive you feel the emboldening power of man's scientific genius.

There is no doubt that this movie is a love letter to science and all that it can help man achieve.  The movie wisely makes the future look very close to the present so that we don't expect any magical Star Trek-like miracle machine to save the day.  Everything in this movie is peril.

Ridley Scott gives us such wonderful visual vistas in this movie.  As scary and foreboding as the landscape is, Scott makes Mars look beautiful in its own way.  You can understand why human beings would travel so far to explore this vast unknown expanse.  The visual design of the habitat on Mars and in space are top notch.  Scott, being the master director that he is, knows how to use special effects as a tool to storytelling and not in place of story telling.

The script by Drew Goddard (based on the book by Andy Weir), is filled with smart people being witty even in the face of danger.  This could have been annoying, but it does a good job relieving some of the tension.  While the knot builds in your stomach, a well timed wise crack gives you just enough relief to make the thrills exciting rather than unpleasant.

The biggest drawback to the movie is the man actor: Matt Damon.  In and of itself, there is not a lot wrong with his performance.  But in a movie like this you need someone who can command the attention of the audience for protracted periods alone like Tom Hanks in Cast Away or Robert Redford in All is Lost.  Both of those performances could spellbind you with the most minimal expressions.  As good as an actor as Damon is, he just is not up to that level.  Perhaps I am reading too much into him, but there is a "smirkiness" to his performance that rubbed me the wrong way.  His character is supposed to be a smart alec, but there is an arrogance in how he carries himself that prevents me from connecting to him the way that I think I should.  And if I do not completely and utterly connect to Watney on every level, something is in the story is lost.

The rest of the cast is fantastic.  Chastain does an excellent job as the guilt-ridden commander.  Michael Pena is a bright spot as he delivers much of the comic relief to the movie, as he did in Ant-Man.  Jeff Daniels plays the head of NASA who is the closest thing that this movie has to a villain.  But Daniels wisely plays him as ultimately altruistic, but burdened with too much pragmatism.  This film is also filled with other wonderful turns by such stars as Kristen Wiig, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Donald Glover.

In a movie dedicated to science, I was grateful at how much respect was afforded religion.  It is not that science and religion are opposed in reality, but in movies an artificial conflict is usually present.  But every so often characters will mention God or prayer.  There is a scene where Watney needs wood shavings, so he carves parts off of a crucifix.  But even this act is mitigated as he address Christ on the Cross and says, "Under the circumstances, I hope you won't mind."  He does not simply break down the cross and use it as fuel.  He does his best to only shave off what he needs.  Perhaps this is not the grandest sign of religious tolerance in film, but I was relieved that it was not much worse.

Thematically there is much to admire.  Above all it is a movie about hope.  The hope presented in this film is not a blind hope, presumptuous of good things.  It is a hope that says that things can get better if we just give our all and hold on a little longer.  It is wonderful to not only watch Watney's successes but his setbacks and failures.  Every time something bad happens, we ache with him.  But we also feel more emboldened as he picks himself up and keeps going.

In the end, The Martian is a movie that will make you think and make you feel.  You will think about all of the technological wonders we can achieve and it will make you feel the power of the human spirit struggling to survive.  The movie moves forward with no guarantees, making Mark Watney's fate uncertain throughout the film.  And by the time you get into the final act you desperately hope against hope that he can make it home.

4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, November 16, 2015

New Evangelizers Post: Secure in Insecurity

I have a new article up at  

For those who are advanced in the spiritual life and have learned to place God above all things leaving behind the cares of this world: this article is not for you.

But if you are like me and you find your progression in the spiritual life slow to the point that it often feels like you are regressing, then maybe you will be able to relate.

I was reflecting on the Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-21). In this parable, a rich man had an abundant harvest and felt very secure in his wealth. But that night, God would require his life. I believe that many people see this as a statement about how we have no guarantees about the future. And this is a good and apt reflection. But I think we need to bring this into a more immediate state. The parable is trying to remind us of something that we often forget:

We have no security right now!

You can read the entire article here.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Film Flash: The Intern

(meant to get this out a few weeks ago)

15 words or less film review (full review to follow soon)

Like an enjoyable sequel to Devil Wears Prada focusing on hard work and fulfillment

3 and 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Sunday Best: Top 5 Bond Films of All Time

picture by ClaraDon

In honor of the latest (and possibly last) Daniel Craig James Bond film, I thought I would rank to the 5 best James Bond movies of all time.

5.  Never Say Never Again

This is not an official Bond film because of some legal copyright issues.  In fact, this movie is actually a remake of the earlier film Thunderball.  But something about this Sean Connery swan song works so well for me.  There is a charm to Bond getting older but refusing to acknowledge it.  I love the video game torture machine.  It also has my favortie James Bond line "It's against service policy to give endorsments."

4.  Goldeneye

This is not a smart movie.  Cinemasins did an excellent job of eviserating the many story holes.  But the movie has 2 very important things going for it.
a.  Pierce Brosnan - he was a breath of fresh air coming from the super serious Timothy Dalton (I actually like Dalton, but his bond was seething with emotion in a way we were not used to at the time).  Brosnan brought the charm and the action.
b.  Great Directing - Martin Campbell made the sequences so exciting that you overlooked how silly much of it was.

3. For Your Eyes Only

This is the best Roger Moore Bond film.  Coming off of the silly Moonraker, Bond went back to real Cold War espionage.  The skiing sequence is laden with an overly-80's score, but is still a great deal of fun.  And I still am riveted as I watch Bond climb the mountain to the bad guy's lair.

2. From Russia with Love

Before Bond was purely cemented in the action genre, this movie fit more into the mold of suspense and intrigue.  In fact, much of it feels almost Hitchcockian in how it raises the tension without having to do flashy action.  To be sure there are some great sequences like the boat chase and the train fight.  But this one is low on flash and high on substance.

1. Casino Royale

I know that many Bond fans, especially fans of classic Bond, would find it almost blasphemous that I would put this Bond as number 1.  But it is, without a doubt, the best of the series.  It has the best action sequence with the parcorps chase in Madagascar.  And the rest of the action sequences are superb.  Daniel Craig embodies the terrifying killer instict of Bond in his relentless agression.  And while the plot can get convoluted, it holds your attention until the end.  It is a shame that the other Daniel Craig Bond films haven't lived up to his first outing, but I think that this is the one he will be remembered for.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Paris, Prayers, and Peace

I do not have words that could possibly give greater consolation or insight into the outrage that occurred in Paris yesterday.

I do not think that it is hyperbole to call this France's 9/11.

As we are all connected to a spiritual reality, we can all offer our prayers.

We pray for the repose of the souls of all the innocents who were horribly murdered.  Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and perpetual light shine upon them.  May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen.

We pray for all who were injured and traumatized by the attacks.  We pray that Jesus, the God of all healing, bring them a speedy recovery of body, mind, and spirit.

We pray for all those who have loved ones victimized by this attack.  We pray that God help them in their agony and loss.

We pray for those who protect the innocent.  We pray for those in law enforcement and the military who do all in their power to protect us from danger.  We pray that God grants them victory in their struggle against evil terrorism.  And we pray for all those first responders who do all that they can to aid those in need.

And we must not forget to pray for the terrorists.  Hearing the news, I am seething with anger.  But Christ commanded us to love our enemies.  This does not mean that we cannot stand up to them with vigorous force.  But we must pray for their souls.  No human being is beyond redemption.  It doesn't mean that everyone will be redeemed, but everyone can be redeemed.  I pray that those who wish to do horrible violence will have their hearts miraculously touched by the merciful love of God.

Please, O Lord, grant us peace, the peace that can only come from You!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Lack of Updates (part V)

Dear Reader,

Thank you for your patience.  I hope to soon be up to full speed in updating this blog, but my schedule has been overwhelming lately.  In the space of the past few weeks, my projects include:

-finishing a full length screenplay
-calculating and imputing grades for the end of the quarter
-grading over 100 tests
-tech week for a play I am directing
-organizing a charity even for poor children at our school
-writing my final paper for my master's class.

This is on top of some personal burdens, about which I would greatly appreciate prayers from you, dear reader.  I know that many of you have deeper and more pressing burdens, but in my weakness I am swamped.  My posts may be reduced to only one (maybe two) a week for the next few weeks.

Thank you for your patience and your readership of this blog.  Among the many things I still intend to write:

-my full review of The Martian
-finishing my list of Best TV Dramas of All Time
-a continuation of my reflections on Doctor Who
-finishing my series on Interstellar
-and more.

Stay tuned...