Nathaniel Meets Willy Wonka?

How could a kid not love the movie "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory"? The original one starring Gene Wilder. After seeing the movie as a kid, I’m sure I dreamed of swimming in a chocolate river. Willy Wonka sings “Pure Imagination” at the beginning of the chocolate factory tour. Or was that “Candyman”? I can’t remember.

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Most Watched Films

The other stars Patrick Dempsey pre-Dr. McDreamy. He was a nerd—dork, geek, whatever you call him—who thinks he can buy his way into becoming popular. It works but later the project implodes. Can't Buy Me Love might still be one of my favorite movies.

Water for Elephants

It’s been some time since I’ve recommended a movie. Either because I’m not very knowledgeable concerning the art of filmmaking or because I just haven’t seen many recently. It might be both. Last weekend, Cindy and I got away from the kids for an evening, and we took in Water for Elephants. I’d read the book last fall. Well, sort of. I’d listened to the audiobook. We arrived a little early, even after stopping at Kroger for some Red Vines. Now, sneaking in snacky contraband could very well be a sin, but we reasoned that the movie theater only carries Twizzlers, a far inferior licorice product. We still dropped $11 on root beer and popcorn and $20 for the tickets.

Irreconcilable Differences (Part 1) – Married Too Long

My earliest memory of divorce involved some friends of my parents. I don’t remember many of their friends, and I didn’t know these well. But this man was notable because he had only one leg and still managed to drive a big Suburban out to Senator’s Wash, a manmade lake my parents often took us to cool off in the desert heat. I remember his wife even less, because one day she left ...

Stuff Boys Say in a Locker Room

A few weeks ago I was in the locker room at the YMCA psyching myself up for an intense workout and listening to several preteen boys showing off. One boy kept saying, “What the fhhhhhh?!!” but never completed the word, apparently not yet audacious enough to cuss in a locker room. Oh, but junior high is coming; he’ll soon muster up the courage like Ralphie in The Christmas Story when he beat up Farkus.

Realizing I’m Not the Main Character

I don’t see it much in movies anymore, but whenever there was a chase scene that usually began on foot, eventually one of the cops would stop a motorist and demand to use their car. Some sort of law, perhaps eminent domain, permitted them to simply take their vehicle for police use. Of course, there was never any time for forms and signatures and “just compensation,” and since the drivers would be listed toward the bottom of the credits (if at all), we’d never know what happened to them. That I even think about the drivers exposes a slight neurosis.

Seeing God as a Scary Monster

Here Jesus looks like someone even I could take in a fight. Not a friend I’d feel better about accompanying me through a dark alley. But really, shepherds in the Bible were strong, outdoorsy types. They likely had biceps as big as my thighs. I doubt they applied moisturizer or used mosquito spray. These were manly men who probably didn’t use antiperspirant, sort of how Sulley uses oderant.

Favorite Valentine’s Gifts

... That’s pretty much how our friendship worked. I was her stand-by friend. If she had nothing else to do, she’d call me. If she didn’t have a date on Valentine’s Day, she’d call me to see what I was doing. I think I was always kind of her backup, which is why I was anxious to tell her I was marrying Cindy. I was having visions of "My Best Friend’s Wedding."

Real Life in Punxutawney

Last weekend we watched the movie Groundhog Day on Netflix with our girls. I’d forgotten how much I’d loved the movie about egocentric Pittsburgh weatherman Phil Connors, who goes on location to Punxutawney, PA, for their annual Groundhog Day celebration, awaiting the dreaded forecast. It’s funny now to watch the movie, having moved from a city to a small town not unlike Punxutawney. It’s not a groundhog we celebrate but a pig—the biggest event in town is the annual pork festival, bigger than the county fair.

Emmet Otter and His Jug Band

Short post today. What’s your favorite Christmas movie? The classic It’s a Wonderful Life? Or maybe National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation? Last year we bought the DVD of a movie I’d seen many times as a kid at Christmas: Jim Henson’s Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas.