Old Movies

I revisited another old classic movie. This time it was Woman of the Year with Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. I believe it was their first collaboration and the beginning of a lifelong romance between the two in real life.

I can’t entirely explain it, but there’s something special about these old movies set in a bygone era. In some ways, I prefer the old to the new. I think what we’ve gained in terms of technology and communications we’ve lost in terms of interpersonal relationships, ethics, morality, and general quality of life.

I’ve said it before (more than once), but if I could only have one channel for the rest of my life, I think I’d go with Turner Classic Movies. It’s the next best thing to having an actual time machine like the one Rod Taylor used in that H. G. Wells adaptation. I do think I’d like to step into one of those movie sets from the 40’s or 50’s and live there.

I’m definitely not one to say that everything new is crap and everything old is perfect, but I do think movies were much better when the emphasis was more on character and story and less on CGI and blowing stuff up. I like new movies when they are character-driven, usually smaller budget films that qualify more as art films than blockbusters.

I understand that those old movies often created an illusion of the ideal rather than represent the reality, but it’s an illusion I’d escape to any day. I don’t need reality TV because I get enough reality from Nashville traffic and the occasional headlines from the internet.

Everyone needs some black and white cinema in their lives. Everyone needs to experience the classics like Casablanca and To Kill a Mockingbird. Check out TCM from time to time. You won’t regret it.

We All Remember

I saw today where Robert Osborne passed away. I knew he had been in declining health, but I had no idea that he would be gone from us so soon. Part of me always hoped that he’d get well and return to his normal hosting duties on Turner Classic Movies. I, along with many others, will miss him.

I owe my love of classic films to Robert Osborne. No one made the old movies come alive for me like he did. He had such an old-school charm reminiscent of many of the bygone Hollywood actors and actresses in those movies. I looked forward to his introductions as much as the films themselves.

While I like the other hosts for Turner Classic Movies, none of them come close in my mind to bringing the golden age of Hollywood to life like he did. No one else had such a connection with the classic era of Hollywood like he did and carried himself with such elegant grace.

He always seemed like someone who’d be a joy to have a conversation with over a cup of coffee or tea. I imagine he would’ve been knowledgeable about many topics, but particularly about the old movies. He probably knew more about the classics than anyone and his introductions came across as warm and friendly rather than cold and academic. He was friends with many of the stars from those films, so I imagine he had more than a few anecdotes he could share.

I can’t imagine TCM without Mr. Osborne. I hope they keep up the homage to all the great films of a bygone era and while they can never hope to replace him, I hope they will continue to have hosts who will make those movies come alive to new audiences around the world.



My Report for August (Borrowed from TCM)

I’ve done this type of post before where I write about what I am listening to, reading, and watching in hopes that it might inspire you to share what you’re absorbing these days. Plus, if you’re stuck on ideas, these might be worth checking out at some point in the future.

Musicwise, I am obsessed with the songwriting of Lori McKenna. I’ve trekked home for two days successively with her albums Massachusetts and The Bird & The Rifle. Both are worth picking up if you happen to run across them in a record store. Both are filled with songs that remind me of why I fell in love with music in the first place.

Bookwise, I am about to embark on the latest in the Harry Potter universe with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I’m curious to see how this entry matches the tone and feel of the other books in the series (seeing as how it’s actually a stage play authored by someone other than J. K. Rowling).  I’m also extremely stoked to finally have my hands on a little devotional book entitled Seven Sacred Pauses by Macrina Wiederkehr (which I am fully expecting to rock my world).

I’m revisiting the strange and wonderful world of Twin Peaks, the short-lived, quirky, sometimes bizarre series that is slated to finally get around to its third season 26 years after the last episode aired way back in 1991. Maybe this means that Firefly will have a much-belated second season at some point in the near future? A brown-coat can dream.

Moviewise, I seem to be stuck on a Ingmar Bergman kick. Lately, I’ve watched both Through a Glass Darkly and Winter Light, two out of a trilogy based on Bergman’s struggle with God and faith. I don’t necessarily agree with some of his conclusions, but I have to admire that he was a brilliant filmmaker who was much more interested in creating art with a message than mass-producing eye candy that sells a lot of movie tickets.

That wraps up my report for August. Stay tuned for the next time I get around to writing about all the media I’m consuming. As always, I’d love to hear what you’re listening to/reading/watching these days. I just may add it to my ever-growing list.


Learning the Facts of Life

I had a random Union University memory today. A friend of mine mentioned that he had a jamocha shake from Arby’s when it was cold outside, which got me thinking about my own jamocha shake experience. Specifically one.

My dorm room was at the back of the campus. Across the street lived the place that made my drug of choice, the jamocha shake. Plus, the fact that I could literally walk half a block to get one made it all the better.

So I decided one night to get one. Apparently, I didn’t get the memo that they closed. I arrived just in time to be told, “Sorry, we’ve closed for the night. No jamocha shake for you.” Not in those words, but something close to that.

I did get my shake eventually, but I also learned to pay attention to the time more closely.

Today, I had a salted caramel mocha, one of the harbingers of the arrival of Autumn. It’s also one of my favorites. That, the pumpkin spice latte, and the caramel apple cider are the three best reasons to frequent Starbucks in the fall.

For me, fall is a reminder that sometimes it’s good to slow down and savor life. That to-do list never goes away and never gets smaller, but sometimes you find when you leave a few items unchecked, the world actually doesn’t come to a crashing halt. Somehow, life goes on.

It’s better when your life has margins, when you aren’t so jam-packed with busyness that you have no down time. There’s a reason why God made the Sabbath. No one can go all-out for 7 days in a row, week after week, and not burn out and break down.

I personally have never had a problem with going full speed for too long. I like my naps. I like my quality therapy time with my cat Lucy in my lap and some quality TCM programming in front of me.

If all you have time for is one deep breath, take it. Breathe in and breathe out and remember that ultimately it’s not up to you. God’s got this.



Your January Report from Yours Truly (Borrowed from TCM)

I always love when they have the monthly updates from TCM about new DVD releases, as well as biographies about the classic movie stars and information about upcoming classic movie festivals.

As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so here’s my own January report:

I recently read a fantastic book by Mark Batterson (In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day,  Wild Goose Chase, The Circle Maker) called The Grave Robber. It looks seven miracles of Jesus from the Gospel of John from the viewpoint that the God who did those miracles back then is the same God who is just as capable of producing miracles in this day and age. It definitely came at a time when I needed a spark of renewal and revitalization in my own faith, so I give it two thumbs way up.


Also, I’ve been listening to some old Bob Dylan. By that I mean his first eight studio albums, remastered and released in mono. I love the way he has with words, even if I don’t always understand completely what he’s singing about. Plus, I’m sure my two uncles are smiling down from heaven at this musical selection.


In keeping with the 60’s theme, I went to the library and checked out an old movie adapted from a Neil Simon play, Barefoot in the Park. It features Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, both looking radiant and very young in this film. It’s a comedy that manages to be funny and intelligently witty at the same time, a rare feat for Hollywood.


I think that wraps up my report for January. Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep you updated on my latest book, movie, and music finds that will probably not be new (or possibly even new to you) but they will be new to me.

So until next time, watch TCM and keep me posted on what you are reading, listening to, and watching these days.




Revisiting the Christmas Movies

It’s that time again. By that, I mean it’s time to dust off the Christmas movies and watch them all again. For some reason, it doesn’t feel right to watch them before Thanksgiving, but starting at 12:01 am I can officially start. Not that I ever start at 12:01 am. I’m just saying I could.

I have my list of annual must-see Christmas movies and I have those that I’d like to watch but the world won’t end if I don’t get around to those.

So far, I’ve seen Elf, The Polar Express, and The Santa Clause, so it’s a good start.

I prefer the older black-and-white movies like the ones they show on TCM, like It’s a Wonderful Life, The Bishop’s Wife, Christmas in Connecticut, and A Holiday Affair. Not to say that I don’t like the old color movies like White Christmas. I like ’em all.

I have all the major television specials like A Charlie Brown Christmas and all the Rankin-Bass classics. Hopefully, I can get around to watching those this year because they always leave me feeling warm and fuzzy inside. Kinda like the tryptophan effect without actually consuming all those turkey calories.

I hope you have your favorites, too. I hope you have your family traditions for Christmas. Most of all, I hope you remember that Christmas isn’t really about presents and wrapping and decorations or even those great old movies. Christmas is about the child born in a stable and laid in a manger almost 2,000 years ago. That is what Christmas is truly all about.


Sometimes You Just Need a Little Ella in Your Life



I am about to go on record and make a bold statement: I have old fashioned tastes in movies. I’m not a fan of movies with lots of unbelievable car chases and overblown dialogue and cars that turn into robots. I don’t like moves that are a BLAST (Big, Loud, And Stupid, Too).

I like movies with characters and situations I can relate to. I like well-written dialogue and well-thought out plot twists. I want to have to think a bit and not always be able to predict what’s coming next.

I like old movies. I think if I could only have one channel on my TV, it would be TCM. They show the best classic movies.

I also am becoming more and more of a fan of old music. I know I sound like an old fart when I say what I’m about to say, but I don’t care. I like music with a melody and singers who can sing. Like Ella Fitzgerald.

I love her voice and her impeccable phrasing. Truly, there was no one else like her. And there never will be.

Sometimes, I need to take a break from modern music and get my Ella fix. Her music makes me feel nostalgic for an era that was way before my time. It relaxes me and makes me feel better.

What was the point of all this? I forget. Maybe that it’s good to go old-school and retro every once in a while. Or maybe to like what you like and not card whether it’s hip or cool or if anybody else likes it.

Yeah, that must be it.

Rainy Saturdays, Maltese Falcons, and Such


Just a note before I begin in earnest: All those reports of my giving up the ghost after I wrote that blog entitled “A Prayer for the Weak” are highly exaggerated. I’m still alive and I’m still kicking (though only metaphorically). I haven’t given up. I was only trying to get into the head of someone who might have felt that way (which I have at times, though not now).

Now on with the show.

What do you do on a rainy and cold Spring Saturday? Watch old movies? Well, I did.

I chose The Maltese Falcon, one of the first and certainly one of the best of Hollywood’s film noir movies out of its golden age. I mean, you have Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, and Sydney Greenstreet and a gumshoe plot second to none.

I love the line Bogie delivers near the end of the film. When asked what he’s holding in his hands (the very falcon in question), he answers, “The stuff dreams are made of.”

What a great line. It reminds me of another, this one from the first Harry Potter movie: ” It does not do to dwell on dreams, Harry, and forget to live.”

Dreams are good. As the proverb says, without vision, the people perish. But dreams are only just dreams if you don’t do anything to make them realities.

Enough of that. I recommend The Maltese Falcon, especially when it comes on TCM with an introduction by host and old movie expert Robert Osbourne.

As always, I’m thankful for waking up this morning and having another day to celebrate the greatest gift of all– life. I’m thankful that (as a pastor once said and as I’ve quoted before) what seems impossible to me isn’t even remotely difficult to God. Making impossibilities into realities is God’s specialty, and He’s had plenty of practice at it.

Just keep that in mind and you’ll be fine.