Sunday, December 6, 2009

Welcome to Beagleville

Welcome To Beagleville.

When I was praying a few days ago, I made a decision: I'm willing to let God wreck my schedule. My plans. My limited expectations... and then I took another leap. A beagle named Piper was born in September 2009 and yesterday, we met for the first time. This feeling I have is unlike any other. Fear. Deep down in a way that I know is going to change my life, my character, my schedule. And I'm a very scheduled person.

Here's to living life with a beagle... and a God that is in charge!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Myself Already Knows I'm Not O.K.

"...tell your Aunt Louise, tell anything you please.

Myself already knows I'm not O.K."

--Bill Ray Cyrus, lyric from 'Achy Breaky Heart'

I have a habit of collecting quotes, wise statements, various song lyrics that move me, make me laugh, or that I've made up. One line that's caught my attention recently was this line from "Achy Breaky Heart." Say what you want about the song, the truth is it was a gigantic hit that's probably still covering the cost of cable and internet in the Cyrus household. And fountains, and flat screens, and gasoline and breakfasts and lunches and dinners and their NES electricity bill. I don't want to converse on whether the song was a hit (admit that you have it on a CasSingle and let's move on). This lyric is so simple and yet reaches pretty deep into the human experience. Think of the struggles we have as people, as a whole, and individually. As Reese Witherspoon once said, "we each have our own set of problems." Whether you're rich or poor or somewhere in between, you have problems. A rich person's problems are different than a middle class person's problems, but what they both have in common is this: problems. And part of the solution (and the CAUSE) is found in discovering who you are. How long do you think it took for Billy Ray Cyrus to learn he was "not O.K"? And then how much longer till he was able to come to grips with that discovery? When a person stops blaming external factors for their problems, but accepts that they themselves are "not O.K." and the problems are most likely born internally, well that's a step in a good direction.

A direction that may lead to freedom, a happy life, and a hit country song.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I Saw Her Standing There: Part 4

As I slid the folded paper back into my pocket, the pastor asked for her vows. Her sister, standing closely behind her, reached out with the handwritten vows, passed them to her, and she read:
I can't remember the first time I saw you. Some people have a clear memory of the first time they met the one they love, but not me. I'd like to think it's because in some way, somehow, you were with me all along. In second grade when my mom dressed me up like a bride. Junior high, when boys were scared to ask me to dance, did they know I was destined for a better guy than they were going to be, so they gave up right there on the spot? The moments I had in high school with my dad consistently proving to me what a man is, and who a man is. Teaching me to be patient. All of it was for you and without my dad's wisdom, I may not have recognized you. But I know you. You are a good man. I can see where God is shaping you not to be just any husband, but my husband. And that's why I am so confident in our relationship. God is and will be our foundation, our rock, our shelter, and our source of strength no matter what good things, bad things, sad things, great things, memorable or forgettable things we encounter from here on. And second to the Lord, I will count on you to be my strength. To be my shield. You've proven to me your love, and don't need to prove it anymore because I'll see your love every day in the way you live. When you love my family, you love me. When you love children, you love me. And if you love to laugh, you love me. If you love compassion and humility, you love me. But if you don't love Jesus, you don't love me. However, I know the proof of our love is this day. These rings. The ceremony and the vows we're taking in front of God. In front of my family, yours, and our friends, I give you my undying faith, my love, and my life. You have the best of me and as if it ever needs to be said, I am yours. From the moment I walked in here, no, from the moment I was born, I was made for you. I just wish you would've found me sooner, because then I could have loved you longer! But for the rest of our life together, I look forward to loving you well.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I Saw Her Standing There: Part 3

I didn't know when I first saw you all that would come of our relationship. I didn't know how any girl after you just plain missed the mark, unable to achieve the height of the bar you set. I didn't know the road I'd take and that this road... it didn't include you yet. You were my friend. And that was all. Meanwhile we both tried to make other relationships work that ended without success. And our friendship grew. Our roads slowly came closer. As if we were driving in a heavily wooded forest, only noticing the trees around us and not getting glimpses of each other through the blurring forest. Had I known how this story would go, I may have done things differently. I may have thought a little more about where the road was going. And thought less about the trees I saw because they were actually hiding the whole picture. God made us for each other. That's the masterpiece. And once we both saw that what God had designed was good and was here, well there was no turning back. And now as I stand in front of you, I want to be everything you need me to be as a husband. When you need to cry, I'll get the tissues. When you need to laugh, I'll try to be funny. When you just need a shoulder to rest on, I'll wear multiple layers. When you want to be crazy, I'll scream in public with you. If you need to wrestle, I'll be Hacksaw Jim Duggan. If you need the truth, I'll open up the Bible. If you want to sing, I'll be your audience. If you want to walk around, I'll put on my shoes, too. If you're hungry, I'll cook dinn-- I'll go pick up some Mexican food. If you want to talk, I'll listen. If you want to listen, I'll talk. If you want a challenge, I'll race you. If you feel unpretty, I'll read poems I wrote about you. If you feel unloved, I'll hug you and tell you I love you. If you need your space, I'll be gone. If you need to have fun, I'll take you to the beach. I'll do my best to be what you need and what you want. The problem is, I will fail. As hard as I'll ever try to be perfect for you, I cannot be. I will make you mad. I will annoy you. I'll do things you don't expect. I'll get frustrated and have a hard time explaining why. I will never love you as much or as good as God does. But even in my failed attempts, there are two things you can count on: one, that Jesus is our life and two, I love you like the ocean. I am not perfect, but our marriage will be with the Lord's help and blessing. I am your husband. I know you love me and I love you so much. There is nothing in your past that scares me, nothing that makes me doubt your love for me. And because of that, I trust you with the rest of my life and you can trust me with the rest of yours. You are safe with me, and when you feel like you're up against the world, know that they'll have to go through me to get to you. I promise to love you when it's easy. To love you when it's hard. To love you when you expect it, and when you least expect it. I am your husband. You are free to let your guard down and be yourself. You've proven to me that God is most important to you, and I hope I've proven the same. And with my commitment to God, I also commit myself to you. It will never be me versus you, but from now on it's us versus them. And I can't imagine ever being happier about that than I am right now. Can't wait to take on the world with you, to live the rest of my life with you, my best friend. I love you.

And this is what I read aloud when the pastor asked for my vows.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Letter I Never Sent

This is a letter I never sent to a girl that I am no longer friends with. [as copied from a piece of paper]

you make me so angry. how can the same person who excites me so much also be the source of such heartache? You must know how because you seem to do it on purpose. I don't understand (and wish you could explain it to me) why you don't ever want to get married again. And why, with a man that can make you happy for the rest of your life, you hesitate and pretend to be so cautious. Explain to me why you gave a jerk over six chances to date you but you won't give me one? A guy that experiences true joy in making you happy. Is it true that girls like bad boys? Is that why you gave this guy a chance? Well, tell me- how'd that work out for you? Is he as bad as you hoped he'd be, or were you delighted to find out that he was even worse than you hoped? Maybe I should just start treating girls badly and then finally I'll find one weak girl to marry. That would be a fun life. I don't know that I can be friends with you. It will take me some time, I suppose, to decide if being friends is a good idea, or even possible. One thing I'm sure of is that even if we can be friends, I will not treat you the way I have in the past. When I spent time with you, I was giving you... me. But I'm not going to give someone my best, the best of me and not expect something in return. I'd be a fool to give so much for no reason. I liked you and wanted so much for you to like me back, but for you to consistently say no I've got to take that as an answer. You told me to date other girls if they opportunity arose, but I don't want to date other girls. I don't want to date at all! After we talked on Saturday I was so mad. And jealous, and frustrated, and hopeless. My weekend ended pretty terribly and I was wishing I could go into work on the holiday we had off. Anything I could do to keep me from thinking about what you said and how Saturday ended, I would've done it. I hate that we truly are on different pages. And I've told you more than once that I can be patient for you. And it's not even that I can be as a future promise, I feel like I've already been patient. When I sensed that you needed space, I gave you space. When I thought you needed to laugh, I told you something funny. When you needed to vent, I listened. But those are exactly the things I can't do for you anymore. Because as I see it- you, if you want some of me, you get all of me. There is no halfway. So if you don't want all of me, you can't have any. With my friends, I can give some of me, but none of them have all of me. I reserve that for someone special, for someone who will be with me a week from now, a month from now, a month and a half from now, and 50 years from now. It's not fair to me to give all of me to everyone and I won't do it. I reserve the best of me for one. So I suppose the choice is yours now. I'm not holding my breath because no matter what you choose, I expect to have a great life and I hope you will, too. I just have a strong feeling our lives would be better with each other in it. But what you settle for is what I will accept. I'm not trying to put pressure on you- there is no pressure! I mean, you've already given me extreme high's and low's so what you do next won't be anything new. Although I'm sure it'll be memorable. Hope you're week is going awesome....


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I Saw Her Standing There: Part 2

(a continuation from part one)

You should know, I've thought about this day for a while now. But not the way that most people look forward to a wedding day. Or the way she has been thinking of it. Yes, it's a memorable day and a once in a lifetime event. It will be exciting and full of happiness, but all I can think of is standing in front of so many people. My college public speaking class did little to calm my fear of being on stage, with other humans staring at me. That's what concerns me most about this day. What if I trip? Why are they all staring at us? Am I sweating? Do I smell? Is there something on my face?

At least the masses of people are looking at the bridesmaids as they walk down the aisle. This provides me with some relief. I attempt to loosen my collar with no real success. Who tied this tie so tight? Can someone turn the A/C down a few degrees, please? Do I have the right shoes on? Is my zipper down? And why is one my groomsmen wearing a navy blue Ann Klein dress suit?

These are all valid questions, and I hope to have the answers to most of them at some point. Meanwhile, I acknowledge to myself that it is a nice dress suit noting that the shoulder pads definitely add a sense of power and authority. But why navy blue? Black would have complimented the shoulder pads better.

And then I see her standing there.

As sudden as lightning strikes, all the counter-attacks I had planned for my nerves are useless because it's her. All I feel is love. All I hear is music. And all I know is this is right and good. The tuxedo I once feared would make me a sweaty mess is now the only hope I have for holding together, it not letting me explode in joy and happiness (which I hope it does because I cannot afford to pay the penalty fee for this suit!). Can she see how excited I am that she's about to be my wife? I wonder if she knows that I have no idea what I'm doing? (I'm sure her father suspects this). I've never been a husband before. But there's one thing I do know, that I love her, gosh, I love her. I'm so glad she isn't a runaway bride. If I can just get her hand in mine, I'll be able to keep her from running, but her dad is taking forever to get her down the aisle. I understand you're emotional, sir, but let's get a move on. Grandma in the front row is getting anxious about the early bird buffet special at Golden Corral.

The bagpipe player concludes as this bride and her father reach the front of the aisle. And in a moment of silence, we hear 3 bells ring. Once for the past: our lives before we knew each other, honoring how God was preparing us all along. The second bell rings for the present: the time we've spent with each other up to this point. Finding out that God indeed does have good things in store for us even right now. The third bell is for the future: the celebration of a new life together, one that we will now face as a team. The ups and downs, the twists and turns, all of it together.

The minister asks for a response from the bride's father, who then lifts her veil, gives her a kiss on the cheek and puts her hand in mine. And here begins the marriage that no power will ever separate. With a connection that I've never known before, we hold hands and I'm reminded of the first time I saw her, only a few years earlier...

come back September 1 for part 3!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I Saw Her Standing There

Silence. The pause between background music that in a few long seconds will become the soundtrack to a scene I never forget. The doors at the far end of the center aisle open. In that moment, I realize the doors were not only letting someone in, but also letting out my past, my mistakes, my misguided want, my aimless wandering. Because the room I'm standing in cannot hold both hope and despair, happiness and dread. There's not enough space for blame and guilt and when those doors open, all that's in my history of missing the mark exits. In the doorway stands the proof that God loves me. She stands next to her father (who puffs out his chest, not too much, but just enough for people to notice, because he's so proud of his daughter). He suspects that she found a man that might possibly love her more than he does, that will make her laugh, and that will serve her well. He knows very soon the time will come to give her away, that's why her life has been flashing before his eyes all morning.

The music begins to play. A bagpipe?? Yes, a bagpipe! (It was the groom's only wedding request, so everyone just goes along with it). Her mom stands up and turns to see her walk towards me. The crowd rises in wedding tradition and elevates the emotion and worth of the moment. I glance over my shoulder to see my brother. He sees in my eyes that this moment, this is a big moment. The only other time I remember a glance like this from him was about 10 years ago after we won an intramural softball game...

You see, earlier that same day I wrestled with how I could contribute to the softball team. We were in the playoffs and I wanted so badly to help us win. And by helping us win, I mean play in the game and do well. But up to that point I was pretty much just a reserve player. Only playing in games that were already won or lost by the time I got in. So I prayed for humility and decided that if all I could do was cheer on our team, I'd cheer the loudest and longest. However, late in this particular playoff game, with the score still dangerously close, the captain put me in at center field. Soon after the inning started, I caught a fly ball for the third out of the inning. In the bottom of that same inning, I was up to bat. I hit a single and that single allowed the winning run to cross home plate. We won the game! While we were still celebrating the victory, I looked at my brother, the star short stop. He was smiling and he was shaking his head, such a proud look as if to say, "you see what God can do!?" That was the glance.

And now here he is, my best man looking at me and smiling with his proud look, saying the same thing, "you see what God can do!? You are hitting a homerun this time!" I would not trade that look in this moment for anything else. Nor would I trade what I see next. This unbelievable creation walking down the aisle, with her sparkling white dress, her cute smile. In this moment, I know that I will never want anyone the way I want her.

End of part 1. Come back August 1st for more!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Life As A House, Role Models, Evan Almighty, Up!, The Wrestler

59. Life As a House
Is it 4pm? Did I just get home from school? Did I just turn on PBS? Is this an after school special? Or an after school punishment! "Life As a House" is one of the worst movies I've seen in a long time. In any movie, most character arc's take a long time to happen, nothing happens overnight. In the beginning of the movie the character will be a tough angry person, and near the end we'll see that they've changed their ways. But the son in this movie changes faster than a politician seeking office. To me, it was more like a soap opera than a movie, with all the sleeping around, the forced one liners, and the unreal circumstances. There were some good parts to the movie, but the best part of the movie was seeing how bad it would get. I will admit, it was memorable, that is for sure.

60. Role Models
When asking advice about whether to see this or not, believe that there is quite a bit of crude language and behavior. It was not worth watching and I hope I forget some of the language and images that I saw. With that said, it did end up having a pretty good message, and if I were rating the movie based on the 2nd half, I'd say it was really good, with only minor language issues. The character was played by Jane Lynch, who I thought was hilarious in this movie. My least favorite character was Bobb'e J. Thompson, who played a troubled child. He cursed and said some crude things about women and I simply can't stand when a child actor is asked to do stuff like that. Big turnoff for me and that will be what I remember in this movie. Similar to the kids in the bouncy thing in the movie "Four Christmases"... kids doing things that adults shouldn't even be doing. While I found parts of this movie distasteful, it was still better than Life As a House, no question.

61. Evan Almighty
I was not as impressed with this movie as I was with it's predecessor "Bruce Almighty". In Bruce Almighty, the team of characters made the movie work so well, with each playing their role well, and Evan Baxter (Steve Carell) playing a support role to Jim Carrey's "Bruce". I wonder if the missing element in this film was Jim Carrey? Had he been in it, would have I liked it more? Overall, I laughed sometimes, not when they wanted me to, but I did laugh some. Knowing that Wanda Sykes was in this movie, my hopes were high, but most of her lines were so obviously written to be the "joke" of the scene, it was predictable. And I rarely laughed at whatever she said. My absolute favorite part is the portrayal of God in this movie. And actually I liked his character more in this movie than I did in "Bruce Almighty". He smiles. He laughs. He is love and compassion. He's not a cruel punisher. I think so many people in America see God as a being that rules from high above, he punishes, disciplines, and hates. While most of that is completely wrong (he does discipline and punish, I think), this movie shows characteristics of God that are refreshing and attractive. Kudos to that! This is a good family film, oh, and the way they integrated live animals into the film, remarkable! If you see it just for that, it's worth it, but I'd see it again just to see how loving and genuine the character of God is.

62. Up!
If you havent seen the movie, don't read this. Quite possibly my favorite movie this year. Someone wrote a comment on their facebook page about how remarkable it was to show such a heart wrenching love story without even using words, and I admit, they are right. Right from the get-go, I was hooked. This movie has every element that a good movie needs, drama, action, humor, love, and a proper ending. My favorite character, as I bet is true with most of you, is the bird Kevin. Loved that even when the young boy discovered the bird was a girl, he kept calling him by the name he gave the bird, Kevin. Hilarious. Really good movie, great for children, adults, senior adults. Go see it! Soon I'm going back to watch it in 3D.

63. The Wrestler
Hailed as the comeback movie for Mickey Rourke, I knew this movie would make my list eventually. And thanks to Redbox, it finally happened. I saw a few previews and trailers for this movie so I suspected I knew what it was about (and because of the title, duh) but there really wasnt much wrestling in the movie. It was more about what happened in between the characters rise to the top, and hitting the bottom of the barrel, then the return to wrestling. My first reaction once the movie ended was that I didnt like it. With so much cursing, the characters constant return to the strip club and all that entails, the drug use... not a very healthy lifestyle for him and hardly a positive influence for mine eyes. However, after discussing the movie with my friend Brad one night, I have changed my mind. Not about the cursing and drugs and nudity. I still wish there was a way to do this movie without all of that. But I love the message this movie sends: do what you love, love what you do. You see, after Mickey gets injured he takes a break from wrestling. He makes an attempt at normal life by working in a grocery store. Here is a superstar of wrestling slicing my deli meat for me. He is a personable fellow, so that makes my stop for hickory smoked turkey rather pleasant, but the guy behind the counter just doesnt fit there. Eventually Mickey realizes this and he quits in the most memorable of ways. I loved the way he went out of that store, busting bottles and burning bridges! And you know what, burning that bridge didnt matter, because he returned to what he loved, wrestling. And the final scene of him soaring off the top ropes summed up how much his character grew. I suppose he will remain a wrestler until his body just won't allow him anymore. During my talk with Brad, I wondered if they could have censored the circumstances and the trials of this man and achieved the same goal of this character and what they wanted me as a viewer to learn about him. Afterall, the content was my biggest objection, but I dont think it would have been as genuine if they censored those elements of the man's life. So consider me a fan of this movie, but don't expect me to recommend it to anyone that I care for. I can't willingly subject anyone to the unhealthy lifestyle of the character, and the potential negative influence watching this movie can have on someone.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

We met online

I'm curious what people think about how social websites (MySpace, Facebook) and even dating websites (eHarmony, Match) have changed and shaped how relationships are formed and built. I have participated in 3 of the mentioned websites and my conclusion is this: relationships have gotten wider and shallower. You can have a relationship with someone you've never seen, never touched, and never spoken to with your actual voice. It's so strange if you think about it, and 20, or even 10 years ago this type of relationship would have seemed extraordinary. And now it's common. 34% of people in dating relationships admit they first communicated through a social website before ever meeting in person, 78% of those used Facebook or MySpace, 19% used eHarmony or Match, and 3% used other sites. Ok, I just made all of that up. But my point is that those percentages didn't shock you did they? Online, potentially superficial, relationships are so common. But when does all this connectivity begin to wear thin? Will there ever be a point when technology can't get any more direct? I'm sure people were asking the same thing 20 years ago, and look how far it has progressed since then! But really? How much closer can we get to people and yet still be a million miles away? With cell phones and Facebook and now Twitter and all these other ways to tell people what is going on with you, do we even need to see anybody in real life anymore? We can just continue updating our sites, having our friends and family watch us go through life on the computer screen. How sad it would be if we became so well-connected to people that we didnt need to see them anymore! Well, I, for one, am making a commitment to not be that well-connected any longer. The first step I took months ago was to close my MySpace account. More recently, I changed the privacy settings on my Facebook page. And I'm trying to be better at calling people instead of simply texting. Why make these changes?

1. Not everything I do is meant for everybody to see and/or know about. A little mystery never hurt anybody, right?

2. If you want to know what's going on with me, ask me in person (or I'll let you buy me lunch and I'll tell you anything you want to know!), or call me!

3. A real life conversation is more than just the exchanging of information, it's being with somebody, it's seeing a person express their joy or emotion when they are speaking about something they love or some circumstance they found themselves in. And also allowing that person to watch me while I talk about who knows what (I come from a family of talkers)

So as I think about scaling back my involvement on these sites (Facebook), it's not because I don't like the site, I think Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with people, show pictures and videos, basically an enriched email, if you will, but I crave real relationships. Live and in person. In the past week I realized how great it is to be with people, and as a loner, that's a pretty big realization. Don't get me wrong, I still love my alone time, but as far as relationships go, I need them to be real, not technified. This past Friday night, I attended an outdoor birthday party and got so much joy out of hanging out with friends, and for about an hour I sat in the grass and just watched everyone talking and playing music and laughing and singing. The memorable part was seeing that it doesnt take money or fancy locations or big events to enjoy each other. The next night I was at my friend Dean's condo as he worked on depopcorning his cieling and it was so much fun to be there with him and Sarah. Not sure I could've depopcorned all night like he wanted to (thanks for showing up Merilee, Wendi, and Sarah) but we had a fun time with each other as we worked. So I will end with this extremely wise statement that I will forever be remembered for:

Relationships are about people, dorkwad! So get in 'em, stay in 'em and call somebody!

But seriously, I challenge you to get less-connected on the computer, and go see a friend or call them.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Films so far!

I'm continuing to watch movies, inching closer to my year-end goal. Here is my review of 3 recent movies I've seen. Enjoy!

Everything Is Illuminated
I thought this movie was just ok, however, it got better as it progressed. One thing I don't like about movies is when they take the first 5 minutes to show credits. This movie almost lost me there. But I finished and the most memorable character, actually, is the grandfather (of the Russian guide). Elijah Wood's character definitely reached his goal of finding more information about his own grandfather, but I think the most growth came from the Russian guide's grandfather. In a metaphor or simile or whatever, the first half of the movie is to my attention opposite of what the second half is to my attention (in other words, I very much liked the first half, but was bored with the first half). It left me feeling emotional, happy for the grandfather, sad in a way for him as well, and wondering what will happen next for the Russian guide and for Elijah Wood's character. If I recall correctly, there were a few curse words, and little to no violence. This movie is one I would watch again, although I may fast forward to the halfway point.

Let The Right One In
Reminds me of the way I felt when I watched M. Knight Shamalan's "The Village". Not much goes on, but there is a lot happening. You know what I mean? I am not one to jump at the chance to see a vampire movie, but thought I'd give this one a chance. It's a Swedish film, and I'd recommend leaving the Swedish language on, and using English subtitles. If you use the English voiceover's, it is corny. By hearing the original language, you are better able to understand the characters emotion and the overall feel of the dialogue, even while reading the English at the bottom of the screen. So about the movie itself, it was strange, interesting, tense at moments, funny at times, and very memorable. The final scene was pretty great. Usually movies I watch build up to a climax, then spend the final few scenes wrapping everything up after the main characters problems are solved. But this movie is different in that the climax, the problems and the solutions are all throughout the movie. But just make sure and watch all the way to the end, and you will see what I mean. It seemed as though the filming was pretty basic, in that there were no huge explosions or enormously expensive special effects. But it was still very good. Most of it was at night (go figure a vampire movie would happen at night!) and the shots themselves were beautiful, set in a snowy town, with subtle lighting and a clean crisp picture. One of my favorite things is when a movie shows not the action happening, but shows the results of the action as it is happening, you know what I mean? Well, watch especially the final scene and you'll understand what I mean. It leaves some up to the viewers imagination and I think that's a great way to shoot a film. Overall, this movie was memorable in an uncomfortable, yet intriguing and thought-provoking kind of way. Watch it and you too may see how human vampires really are.

The Sure Thing
John Cusack must have been the "teen lover boy" of choice in the 80's. Here he is again playing the role of a guy in love (or lust in this case). Personally, I liked "Say Anything" better than this film because it focused more on the details of the developing relationship. The Sure Thing was good, not great. And here's why: it was mediocre on drawing out the side of me that would normally cheer for the protagonist. I wasnt necessarily compelled to side with him, and I dont mean I would have sided with someone else instead, I just mean I didnt feel any connection with his character. My favorite character in this film, and I wish he showed up on screen earlier in the story was the female character's boyfriend. He was extremely nerdy, uptight, and square. So much so that for her to stay with him instead of John Cusack's character would have seemed unbelievable, literally. If you have seen "The Notebook," one thing that may have stood out with you is the comparison between the two men competing for the girl. I loved how the film presented both men as good, hard-working, honest, decent men, more like a real-life dilemma. I loved that about "The Notebook," and inversely, what I may be most concerned about with The Sure Thing. It was the easiest of decisions for her to choose John Cusack over the dweeb. So there was not much mystery as to what was going to happen between them. All in all, this was worth watching, at least to see more silly 80's trends and laugh at the fashion that was popular during this decade (although there are better movies for that kind of thing- ie. Girls Just Want To Have Fun... which also has truckloads of great one-liners).

Friday, May 1, 2009

Who Is This Creep?

A friend of mine and I used to joke about certain things that guys do and how women perceive it. For intance, a guy stares at a woman from across the room, making eye contact at times with this woman. My friend and I would say "Guy makes eye contact with a girl, and also stares at her shoes... stalker? Or just wants to find out what the newest pair of Nike's look like?" The scenarios we joked about always made me laugh. But there is a deeper question I find myself asking about those make-believe situations (most of which were stalking, you know that Dean!). Let's take these 2 people as our subjects, the starer guy and the staree girl. They are in a public place, perhaps at a party or something. She constantly notices him staring at her throughout the night. Here is where it gets interesting. When is this considered flattering and when is it creepy? I suppose most women will say, "If the guy stares too long, it's creepy." But I don't accept that answer because I don't believe it's true. I mean, girls, raise your hand if you would approach Matthew McConaughey and tell him to stop staring because he's creeping you out.

I don't know if what I'm suggesting is a double standard. Possibly. However, if Matthew McConaughey is staring at you, then there are probably many, many other guys that stare at you, too, or else you just have a booger on your face. So you may have learned what a flattering stare is and what a creepy stare is. But I'll present my point in a scientific fashion. Let's say the staring is X, and there are 2 test subjects: Y and Z. Y is Matthew McConaughey. Z is the Mr. Collins (from 2005 "Pride & Prejudice"). Test 1: Your at the store buying groceries and notice Y Xing at you. You are flattered. Test 2, same exact scenario: You go to the grocery store and notice Z Xing at you. So here are the equations...

X + Y = makes you blush.

X + Z = reach in your purse to locate pepper spray.

What makes Y so different from Z? I suggest, though most girls may deny this, that it matters a whole lot who is doing the staring whether staring is creepy or not. And that makes little sense to me. In my circle of friends I hear female friends of mine talk about how creeped out they get when a guy acts creepy. But it's so not about the staring! Right?? It's about how cute the guy is. And that's the double standard. If Z is creepy for staring, then Y has got to be creepy, too. How can the same exact action be creepy if Z does it, but not if Y does it? To turn the tables, if Megan Fox were staring at me in Test 1, and Average Jane were staring at me in Test 2, and after I begged for their phone numbers to go out with me, ....ok, so I'm not a good test subject.

To use another example, let's say Mr. Collins took the exact same course of action that Mr. Darcy did in "Pride & Prejudice". I think most girls would say, "Wow, he's creepy." But because Matthew Macfadyen (or Colin Firth) are considered attractive, Mr. Darcy's actions are not seen as creepy at all, they are cherished and longed for by any girl that reads the book or sees the movie. And Mr. Collins, had he done the same things, would have been seen as cute and fun, but not unforgettable like Mr. Darcy. So there seems to be this standard of what is creepy and what is not... unless the guy is cute.

I would love to hear feedback on this subject. Steer me in the right direction. Tell me I'm wrong. Tell me I'm right. Ask me what I think about Mr. Bingley. Or Elizabeth Bennet.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, April 4, 2009


I was the 4th of 4 children. I am Fred & Terry Wilder's son. I am Shannon and Erin's youngest brother. I am Nathan's only brother. I am one of Will, Lauren, and Sarah Mickler's cousins. I am a nephew of Gil & Debbie Davis, and Bill & Julie Mickler. I am the grandson of Helen & Foster Davis, and Fred & Thelma Wilder.

When I moved to Nashville, I became Ben Wilder.

No longer someone's brother or cousin or son or nephew. People know me as Ben Wilder and what those people know of me is not based on anyone else but me. I can't even begin to explain how much freedom there has been since I stepped out of any shadow I was in. That's what Nashville and Tennessee mean to me. This city is forever a symbol to me of personal freedom, of taking on challenges, of making a life on my own. I am continuing to find my own identity here, a journey that started the day I packed my things and left Florida. If you ever wonder why I love Nashville so much, mostly it's because I feel like it's mine. Not my brother's, not my sister's, no one else's but mine! It's part of my adventure that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Think about what you treasure deep in your heart, secrets only shared between you and God, gifts he's given you, blessings that only you know, the things that make your heart melt, events that affect your life. Well, something happened when I moved to Nashville, it's like a veil was slowly removed and I've been able to see me for the first time. I began to understand more about myself. To see me more how God sees me, as a unique creation that he loves. I slowly stopped comparing myself to my brother, and I think, for the first time, not be in his shadow. Funny thing about shadows is that to have a shadow, there has to be a light and now I am in it. That's why it's easier to see myself differently than ever before. My life is turning out different than my brother's, than either of my sister's, and unlike my cousins. And that is ok! In fact, it's awesome!

I have my own shadow now. If you want to see my shadow, it's in Nashville, Tennessee.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Never Been Kissed.

This blog is about movies. But not just any movie. And not about whole movies. I am only writing about how movies end. My favorite movie ending happens in "Never Been Kissed." The movie is just all around good. Remember high school and the politics that happen with students dividing into groups based on smarts, athletic ability, musical or theatrical skill, and life attitudes and then the system of judging which of these groups contains the popular people? This movie reminds us of such adolescent behavior, and it's quite funny. But anyways, back to the point of this: the end of the movie. Drew Barrymore's character "Josie" is standing on a pitcher's mound before the start of the high school state championship baseball game. Five minutes is put on the clock and begins to tick down. She is waiting on a high school teacher, "Mr. Coulson" (Sam) played by Michael Vartan, to show up and then they can live happily ever after. It was a classic setup: they both liked each other but then an obstacle got in the way (he found out she was lying about her life) and all hope was lost. Except for this last ditch effort by Josie to win her man. Let's not get into the details of this teacher getting upset about Josie lying about being a student. So he gets upset when he finds out this girl he is totally in love with is not a student in real life? Would he rather her have been a student? Exactly why I don't want to get into the details of that right now.

Ok, so she's on the mound. The clock ticks down to zero and he doesn't show up. Now any hope that was left is completely gone. She drops the microphone onto the dusty mound. When we see her face, she is not crying her eyes out, she's not devastated. There is a look of "OK, this wasn't meant to be. I made myself available and he didn't act on that. Time to move on." She had the look of a person who was totally content with herself, her satisfaction and self-worth completely independent of another person. If the movie had ended there, I still think it would have been a great ending. However, the crowd at the baseball stadium begins to look to a corner of the bleachers. The excitement and chatter build quickly. The Beach Boys "Don't Worry, Baby" begins to play. Sam is energetically descending the stadium steps. He makes his way onto the field and takes Josie into his arms and they kiss. The camera circles around them and everything else fades away except for the two of them hugging and kissing. A phenomenal ending! As if that wasn't enough, Sam says, "Sorry, I'm late. It took me forever to get here." That last line of his dialogue is heavy with meaning and depth! In those few words, he confesses two completely different things: his literal lateness (because remember the clock ticked to zero about 3 minutes ago), and also his emotional journey leading up to his relationship with Josie (whose response, "I know what you mean," cleverly answered to both of his meanings). They both had to experience a lot to get to this point in their individual lives and in their newly established relationship. From the emotional climax of the scene, to the cleverly and well written dialogue, I can't think of a better ending in any movie I've seen. It just all worked so well! And using the Beach Boys to highlight the climax of the movie? Truly rufus!

Do you have a favorite movie ending? Is there a scene that finishes a story better than any other ending you know of? If so, tell me about it!

Friday, February 20, 2009

The 156 Project

I thought this would be a good idea: to post my thoughts about the movies I see during my journey through 156 movies. I've started calling it (at least in my head) "The 156 Project". This week I've watched 3 movies... honestly, I'm a little behind because of a few reasons: 1. being busy after work and not having time to sit down for 2 hours, and 2. whenever I do sit down, I can't seem to stay awake. But I did manage to get through these 3 movies (listed below). The number beside the movie is where they happen in chronological order in my viewing. In January of next year I will compile my list in order of my least favorite, #156, up to my favorite movie of the year, #1. Enough! Check out the movies I saw in the past 7 or so days....

18. He's Just Not That Into You (theater) PG-13
I really liked this movie. The two thoughts I came away with are the repeated messages from one of the characters: if a guy wants to be with you, he will make it happen. That is so true and something I am learning as a grown man. The second thing I will remember is something that didnt really start to bother me till days after I watched the movie: I hate marital unfaithfulness. I understand how easy it can happen, and the movie showed that, but the failed relationship in this movie frustrates me, and it's because of the character named Ben, who cheated on his wife repeatedly. The act of cheating is terrible and destructive. And this movie showed that pretty well, the emotion of the cheated-on wife, the lack of emotion of the husband towards his wife, and the evil seductive behavior of "the other woman". I was very excited to see how Ben Affleck's character came around at the end and became a real man. He manned up. Just goes to show that guys named Ben? can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em. Also, this was an ensemble cast, so it was hard to focus on one character's plight. Did I mention that Kris Kristofferson was in this movie playing a very likeable character. Kudos to Mr. Kristofferson!

19. August Rush (DVD) PG
Why Robin Williams? For a character that is serious, why Robin Williams? A pretty corny predictable movie. There were a few songs that I liked throughout the movie, but not enough to watch it again when I could be sleeping. And unless the young kid had 3 hands, there's no way he could play the music he was playing. Either that was bad editing, or they wanted us to think he was a mutant.

20. The Butterfly Effect (DVD) R
Wow. Wow. I thought this movie was very good. I went into it not expecting much, and also with little desire to watch Ashton Kutcher. To my surprise, I thought he did a good job. I rarely thought to myself, "There's Ashton pretending to be this other character," the way I think of Tom Cruise... "oh, there's Tom Cruise acting like a professional football player's agent," or "wow, this movie about the military starring Tom Cruise reminds me of Tom Cruise... except now he's dressed like he's in the military," or "What? Tom Cruise is in this movie? Which part is he going to look like Tom Cruise dressed like another character in?"

Anyway, back to The Butterfly Effect. It was very much like the "choose your own adventure" books I remember from growing up. And anyone who wanted to pretend to have control over the story loved these books. That's mostly why I liked this movie. It played out different scenarios, each having its own consequences based on what Ashton's character chose to do in a given situation. Each decision he made solved one problem but then caused another problem. So he would zap back to before said decision was made and by choosing a different course, he avoided the problem. After a series of undesirable outcomes were fixed and fixed again, he eventually found the ultimate solution. As a viewer, I definitely felt connected to the story, and sat on the edge of my seat trying to find out what he would do next, and if what he did would solve the problem without causing more problems. Very very interesting movie, with humor, drama, suspense, and thought provoking scenes. Was there a message hidden somewhere in this movie? I suppose the message is that no matter how small or large a decision seems to be, it can have huge consequences. Another message may be that your decisions affect everyone around you, and it may be hard to see, but years down the road you will see that the course of lives were dramatically affected by what you decided in a given moment.

I recommend this movie, but beware there are some scenes that may be disturbing, it is rated R after all.

21. Eagle Eye (DVD) PG-13
Lots of action in this movie. If you like sitting on the edge of your seat, this film is a good one to watch! Overall, I kept being reminded of iRobot (the film with Will Smith) so that kind of took a little of the awe away from the plot on this one. I felt like it had sort of been done before. And thinking back, I'm not so sure the plot was well extablished. I mean, things happen and it keeps you interested in what's going on with a couple of the characters, but there is no, "bam! here's the plot, come along and take this action packed thrill ride and find out how it gets resolved!" It's more like, "watch these various events happen. See our main character try to find out more about his brother. Oh, and we sort of have a resolution to these problems at the end of the movie". So overall, I do think the movie was entertaining, with a satisfying ending, but it has been done before and there is a bit too much cursing than there needed to be.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Life Is Rated R

In my quest to see 156 movies this year, I've come up with a theory. As theories go, I think it's a pretty good one, although not very scientific. But it "arrived through speculation or conjecture," so it fits the dictionary definition of theory, and here it is: life is rated R. It begins with a G rating, although if you really want to go back to the very beginning, one could argue that it begins with an X rating, but we'll say G, starting from birth. As a baby grows and journies through life, the force and influence of the rated R future slowly presses in. Molding this young G-rated life into a PG-13 life. As I think about how and why this happens, I am saddened. In a perfect world, there would be no R-rated life, our existence would be how it was originally designed to be: no harsh language, no violence, no drug abuse, which are all evidence and symptoms of the real problems... greed, lust, and selfishness. But as it is now, we do not grow into the rated R life, the rated R life grows into us. And that is sad. Think back to when you were 9 or 10... most of what you learn is from adults, right? Yes, you learn from your peers quite a bit when you are young, but even your peers have learned it from somewhere else. Adults. With the rated R life. I'm not saying every adult is at fault for innocent lives being corrupted, but surely every adult is responsible for the growth and/or starvation of the R-rated lifestyle. Concerning the generations coming up behind us, I suppose, as adults, we are either flaming the fire or shielding them from it. As an uncle of 6, I've been able to watch babies turn into young children. And I am feeling this strong urge to shield them, to protect them, to make it my responsibility (at least when I am with them) to guard their innocence, to keep their lives G-rated as long as possible. Why would I want anything else for them? Think about it, movies that are rated R have nudity, violence, danger, hard language, drug abuse and more. Which movie have you seen that's rated R because the characters were involved in excessive giving? Or being too selfless? Or for lengthy non-violent scenes? Or for consistent use of kind language? None! Here's what I'm getting at: the elements that make a movie rated R are not and cannot be positive. So why would anyone subject, or even help, the next generation experience this? But this is not about the movie rating system. It's about real life.

Like my title says, life is rated R... for me, and I bet for you, too. We should not try to hide from reality, because reality is simply that life is rated R. And there are some really great movies out there that have captured the challenge that life is... and sometimes it is violent, sometimes it does have adult material, sometimes it has colorful language because we are all human, and we are all trying to make sense of the world and the life we live. And when it get's tough, you know what? That's life, and life... is rated R. The good news, though, like every great movie, is that there is hope... and it is this: to find the one who can be your guardian through the R-rated moments of life. Then, and only then, will the life you lead have the happiest of endings.

Monday, January 19, 2009

My Pledge and Challenge

I have been on this earth for three 10-year terms. 

My first term I'd call the "physically learning stage". The next I'd call the "physically maturing stage". By the end of this second term, would you agree that most people are done growing physically (and though they may continue to grow stronger during the third term, for the most part, the dramatic physical changes happen in these first two terms)?

What is significant about the third term? Physically we have grown into adult-sized humans. But what about the other parts of being a creation with thoughts and feelings and emotions? I believe each person is created with 4 parts - body, soul, mind, and spirit. In the first two 10-year terms of life, our body and mind grow rapidly. Our spirit is influenced along the way and our personality- the parts we were born with along with our life experiences- takes shape. The personality is most likely established in the first 10-year term. And I can only assume that the soul is simply along for the ride until we reach the age where we recognize it's role in our life and begin to care about it. And that's what I think the third 10-year term is. A recognition of and dealing with our own soul. Most of us at the age of 20 move out from under a parent's protection and care to begin our own adventure, realizing that we can, for the most part, do what we want, when we want, with whomever we want. And that is a freedom that needs to be experienced! So the third term I'd call the "soul freedom and learning stage."

As I think about my last 10 years, I wonder what significant things I have accomplished. I graduated college, which in this country is fairly common because the U.S. is a very educated nation. But on a global scale, graduating college is pretty significant! There are probably millions of people that would give anything to experience and learn on a university level. So yes, that is an accomplishment. But what else? I mean, finishing college was 9 years ago. Other than college, I can't think of many accomplishments. But this is not a bad thing! Here's why: my third 10-year term has been all about the inside. Taking what I've learned and putting it to the test. My education gained in school, in church, in the working world, from friends... taking all of this and learning it again, but not from a book or from a teacher in a classroom. I've learned it working at a summer camp, living with my parents again after college, applying for jobs, working at a job that did not fit my personality, dating great girls, dating not so great girls, arguing and laughing and trusting and not trusting friends, starting new relationships and ending unhealthy ones, travelling out of the U.S., working in maintenance, attending a phenomenal church with authentic Biblical teaching, and by watching my family grow into the next generation. And in my third term, I became an adult. Not when I turned 20 years old, but it happened when I felt my heart burning for Nashville, Tennessee.

Turning 30 is a milestone, so I wanted to take time to reflect and so far, 2009 has been just that. Looking back to see where I've been, what I've done, the up's and down's, the life and death I've experienced and discovering that all of it is for a purpose. It's all building towards something great. That is why I am making a pledge to you, to myself, to anyone who will listen: I will never settle for a mediocre life. When I complete another 30 years or in the next 60, I don't want to look back and wonder where life happened. I will not be average. I will not be regular. I will not be boring. No decade of my life has been mediocre yet, and I will not let it start now. To accomplish this simple goal, I will stick to my motto from 2008 and it is this:

To grow in my relationship with God and people, and be involved in significant things.

Focusing on these 3 ideas, I don't believe anyone would have a mediocre life! It's a simple thought that I hope will overthrow any possible routine or average lifestyle I may fall into. "Grow in my relationship with God" by reading the Bible and talking to God about my life and what He wants. "Grow in my relationship with people" by spending time with my friends, making new friends, and caring when people need to be cared for. "Be involved in significant things" by being aware of what's going on around me, and choosing to take part in what I believe will have a positive affect on people, society, the country and the world.

That's it. Pretty simple, I think. This is my motto for for 2009, and my pledge to you is also my challenge to you: How will you live this year? 2009 has already begun and the clock is ticking. Will you choose to be regular? Will you choose a mediocre life? Will you let your heart be troubled by the common things in the world? Or will you throw off those troubles and live your next 10-year term, your next year... your next day with significance? I hope so. I will be doing the same in Tennessee.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

30 Things I've Learned In 30 Years

On December 26, 2008 I turned 30 years old. I wanted to search through all of my journal entries, but I didnt have that much time, so I spent a few days compiling a lot of the thoughts and lessons I learned, the heart behind much of my journal writing. So I've chosen what I think are the best 30 and made them into this list. I'd love to hear your thoughts, reactions, stories, or objections to what I list, thanks for reading! (also, I attempted to put these in order of my life, from a child, through high school, through college and through my early years as a working professional, all the way up to 2008.)

there's nothing like growing up with my 3 best friends and a great beagle.

that I'm special. My mom taught me that when I was very young.

that one way I could make my mom happy was to bring her flowers, especially purple ones.

when my mom says she'll put my dinner in the sink unless I stop fighting with my brother, she means it.

I understand why "the great generation" was called "the great generation" because I've watched my grandparents MomMom and Pop and MeMom and Granddaddy.

I've learned that things change (I remember vividly saying that I can't imagine not watching cartoons on Saturday morning).

fighting fire with fire is not the best gameplan. Fighting fire with water is better. My brother was a wrestler in high school, and while my strength didnt match his, I found that laughing while he was twisting me around was the best retaliation.

my sister Shannon talks directly to God in a way I've never seen or heard of before.

that women like my mom and sisters are rare. hidden gems that once they are found, are treasured.

if the choice is between a good friend and a girl, always choose the friend.

when my back is against the wall, I fight; I like it that way.

life is less about about what happens to me and more about how I react to it.

it's ok to have a bad day.

people with so-called mental disabilities are often happier than the rest. I think those of us without physical or mental challenges are the ones missing out on something.

I never knew what people meant when they said that children will change your life, but I know now... it's a gift for me to be an uncle.

I've learned that Heaven is probably a lot like St. Teresa Beach, FL.

that I'm a little strange, isn't it great??

I've learned that I'm just like my father, and if in the next 30 years I remind myself of him, that would be a great accomplishment.

that I'll never be stronger or cooler than my brother, but I'll always be taller.

there's nothing else on this earth as quite as beautiful or nearly as frustrating as a woman.

when I'm hungry or sleepy, I can get cranky.

My parents taught me to use "yes ma'am" and "yes sir" and in doing so, they taught me respect. I will do the same when I am a dad.

I've learned that it's ok that I don't know anything about cars. Does knowing about exhaust manifolds make me a man? I mean, really? I take my car to the dealer when something goes wrong and take it to Super Lube for an oil change.

the only thing my failed dating relationships have in common is me.

I've learned that simple living prevents headaches.. and helps me sleep at night.

I don't regret having regrets.

that I will look back and hold deep in my heart the many fishing trips I have taken and will take with my dad. But especially the trips where we caught a fish!

that one of the best late night snacks is a bowl of honey nut cheerios.

when I was 27 in Nashville, TN, I watched the Runyeon family celebrate the life of Carol Ann Runyeon, and I will never forget the way they rejoiced about her life and her legacy.

going to Vietnam with my sister and brother in law changed my life.

B. Wilder: An Introduction

My name is Ben Wilder. I am 30 years old. I live in Nashville, Tennessee. I was 26 when I moved here from Tallahassee, Florida, where in 2001 I graduated from The Florida State University. I am the 4th and youngest child in the Wilder family. I have 2 older sisters and an older brother. My parents are still married, and will just celebrated their 39th wedding anniversary at the end of December 2008. They live in Florida. My oldest sister and my brother also live in Florida. My other sister lives in Ohio.

I am caucasion, I weigh about 153 pounds. I am about 5 feet 9 inches in height. I am left-handed but I cut with scissors using my right hand because finding a pair of left handed scissors is not easy. I will most likely write a blog about this at some point. Growing up as a left-handed person is not easy and I will explain why in that blog. Stay tuned.

I am single, never been married. The longest relationship I've had to date is a month and a half. You may think I am shallow or afraid of commitment because of the short length of these relationships. I hope you are wrong. I tend to find out pretty quickly that a relationship will or will not work. I suppose it takes me about a month and a week to figure this out. So far no relationship has turned into a marriage. I cherish my role as a brother, as a son, and as an uncle. One day I may be married, but no matter what I will always be a brother, a son, and an uncle and I want to be the best at each.

My skills and talents are currently being utilized in video production. Besides working on side projects, I get paid weekly to be a production assistant at Country Music Television in downtown Nashville. I work on the Top 20 Countdown with a great host, a great producer, a great associate producer and a great crew. The environment at CMT is not like any other job environment I've had, and for that I am thankful. No more shaving everyday or wearing collared shirts. Or I can shave everyday and wear a collared shirt. They are very accepting and even encourage each of us to be ourselves. I like that about Viacom and CMT specifically.

I was in church today. And yes, that means I am a follower of Christ.

(Find me someone else who took on the sin of the world and my sin, too, died to take my place, and somehow came back to life and offers all of us eternity with God and I'll consider following them, too! There is no one else, so where else will I go but to Jesus??)

Anyway, so I was talking with a couple of friends and that's when it hit me, I should start a blog. I've never done this before, but I am excited about it. I would like to start by posting a blog at the beginning of each month and then see where it goes.

So, thank you for checking this out! Please leave feedback. I'd love to know your thoughts about whatever it is I am writing about at the time. I by no means think I have special knowledge or insider information about what life is all about, so I encourage you to present your opinion, whether you agree with what I write about or if you have a different perspective on it.

I hope, at least, you can appreciate what I write.

B. Wilder