Tag Archives: art

Treadmill Films 46-54 — Good Films

Good films are about the things we all struggle with, those things that make us human.  Good films help us to realize that we’re not so very different from each other, that we have more in common with each other than we have differences.  Good films address this universal humanness in a very specific way; and in these specific stories we are able to find ourselves.  I don’t have to be a heartbroken hobo, a gender confused child, or a struggling artist to find my own story in their stories.  And of course a good film does all of these things well.  It’s a great thing when an artist creates good art. But one person with a brush, paint, and canvass I can understand.  It takes a lot of people to make a movie.  It’s really a miracle that so many good movies are out there.

I think the movies in this batch run from good to great. I’m sure it says something about me that I think three of the four great ones are the ones about kids.

Other stats for this batch: 4 are about a struggling artist of sorts, 3 are (almost) 40 years old or older, 2 are foreign language films, and 1 is a documentary.



Tomboy. Oh to wrap our kids up and keep them safe. Best father daughter hug ever. Amazingly talented young actors. A lot good here. See it.

The Kid with a Bike. Heart breaking, heart warming quiet little good Samaritan story. Love looks like this: saying hold on, but not so hard.

The Croupier. A lot is cool about this movie’s plot and protagonist. Too cool maybe? And who zoomed who at the end? I didn’t quite follow.

The Hustler. Is it only possible to win by cutting all ties & standing alone? Does money ruin the purity of competition? Isn’t Paul dreamy?

The Conversation. Liked all the parts–sound, scenes, performances, music, the 1974ishness of it all. But altogether it didn’t click for me.

Mud. Huck and Jim, and can a boy believe in love, and family and friendship is hard but worth it, and great performances. Amazing movie.

Amadeus. My kids: That looks like the most boring movie ever. Me: I know, but it’s really good. The first adult movie I remember liking.

Taxi Driver. My theory: Travis Bickle is America of the 1960’s/70’s. We don’t know how to solve our problems here, so we use guns far away.

Surfwise. Crazy dad seems right about this: It’s easier to die when you’ve lived. So go out and make memories. That way you don’t die alone.



I realize now that I missed an opportunity a couple Sundays ago to illustrate the zombie communion. This one was done recently by the same boy that drew the Spiderman, the one who fell in the lake. It’s another in the series “I should be working on yearbook, but doodling is more fun, if less productive.” I think I could fill a gallery with such a series. It was originally done with just pencil. It looked really good. I suggested some color. The artist wasn’t sure, but gave it a shot. I don’t think either of us were happy with the results, but neither of us wanted to tell the other. I had in mind more of a light shading. The artist of course had in mind his original black and white. There’s a moral there about sticking one’s nose where it doesn’t belong, or about deferring to others one’s own artistic vision. Still I got a zombie drawing out of the whole deal. So that’s nice.



Here’s what I said about this book after reading it this summer. “Difficult to read at first as it read like a bad research paper. But once Bill grew up I thought this was really interesting. I didn’t know the difficulty Coz went through. I also enjoyed reading the bits of routines that I still know by heart.” I tend to write short reviews.

The difficulty that I was referring to was Cosby being labeled too black and militant by some and not black or militant enough by others. Of course the book said nothing about him drugging and raping women. What a drag. I tend to try believe the best about people. But the evidence is a little overwhelming. As a kid I had at least a dozen Cosby albums, and most of those I had memorized. I watched Fat Albert. And in the 1980s the whole family enjoyed The Cosby Show. I loved the guy. So what seems to be the fact that he date raped and sexually assaulted dozens of women is hard to take. That’s evil behavior. And I know there are books written and films produced and discussions carried on about the separation between the artist as a person and his or her art. But it’s one thing when an artist makes beautiful art, but isn’t a beautiful person, when they’re bad to their wife, or a-holes to those around them. But decades of evil behavior. How can I, or my son, who I shared my Cosby albums and The Cosby Show with, and he loved them as I did, how can we enjoy those episodes or those beloved routines again. I’m not sure I can. And that sucks. And I see that mourning my childhood is a pretty self centered response to the rape and sexual assault of dozens of women. But sad is how I felt first before I was angry at a person who would do those horrible things.

Like a Literature Assignment

This is kind of a cheat.  It’s a word for word repeat of a previous post from not long ago.  In reading that post a week or so after writing it, I noticed that it was kind of poetic.  So I rearranged it that way.  And here it is.


You really don’t have to have much artistic skill
or deep philosophy
to create something kind of sweet
and beautiful.
Sometimes it just takes a box of crayons
and something else
that you’re really not that interested in.

Like an literature assignment.


I’m not so sure about this one from last Easter.  I call this one rambly at the beginning, and I wasn’t wrong. It still needs some editing.  It’s either going too many places, or not going anywhere. But I’m not going to mess with it now.  And it works better with the pictures, which you can’t see here.  However, most of the people I talk about can be found under “Friend’s Stuff” there on the right of this blog. You might be better off going there than reading this message.


My idea for this week’s communion meditation is hopefully going to be inspiring; it’s about inspiration.  Which is fitting for the first Sunday after Easter, I think.  And maybe a bit of a departure.  Sometimes I see myself as the one who delivers these dark, brooding communion messages.  This one turned out to be lighter and maybe a little rambly.

(Speaking of rambly, me as the dark one made me think about some of the other regulars up here.  

B – has all these pieces and ideas that I don’t see how they will come together, and then they do

R – the educated one, quoting his professors and making us think

I – tells seemingly simple stories that are really these deep metaphors for spiritual things

B – a solid message, and we also watch to see if he will cry

J – talks right to us, and expects us to pay attention and answer; and it seems like he comes up here with an idea and wings it.   If I did that, I would end up taking about what I had for lunch, which is why I read it word for word, but josh gets where he set out to get with no map

It’s cool, the differences.)
At any rate, a little post-resurrection inspiration on a beautiful spring day seems fun.

The other night, as Maryellen took part in an email discussion with my brother about scripture being god breathed, god inspired, and what that means, I was checking Facebook, and the blogs that I read. And I was just amazed and blessed at the talent of people who I actually know.  I have a nephew who draws an Internet comic strip.  A lot of times it’s about video games, and I don’t get the jokes, but other times it’s about relationships and college life, and it makes me smile.  Another guy I know does a strip called Watusi the talking dog which is both cute and hip at the same time. And a girl I went to school with writes these amazing poetry and prose pieces about god, growing up in Abilene, and being a mom, and being on the t.v. show Wipeout — I know, right.  I went to highschool with her.  She’s my age.  And there’s Vanessa, some of you know her, and her amazing paintings.  And Sarah, who you don’t know, and her amazing  paintings.  And you’ve seen Hannah’s photos, and maybe Jessie’s photos.  And how about Jill’s dog treats?  Yeah, those are for dogs.  And I am awed at the talent of these folks, and at what it is that drives them to do these things.

And what does it mean to be inspired.  In writing this, I came to the conclusion that I have no idea.  The word “inspired” comes from the Latin for in-breathed.  When we think of spiritual inspiration we often think of god-breathed.  Like Adam, or the prophets, authors of the scriptures, or the designers of great cathedrals, or great works of art, or mediocre works of art, or even terrible works of art.  Is god more or less with a three-year-old finger painter than with a Van Gogh; a great sculptor or a great mother; a preacher, a cook, a good neighbor?  Again, I don’t know. I do know that not everyone’s inspiration results in a painting or a poem.  We all find ourselves inspired to do any number of things: clean, sing, carve, crochet, teach, repair, whittle.

It may sound silly, but sometimes when I’m twisting a balloon and telling a silly joke or pretending that I don’t know that I dropped something while the kids yell and point, I feel inspired.  When I stayed up past my bedtime to write this, I felt a little inspired.  When I sat down the next day to revise it, not so much.

But this is the conclusion that I am drawing today.  Inspiration comes from love.  The love of the art, whether it’s painting or building, or gardening, or parenting. And the love of the people that the art, the work, is for.  That’s what Jesus told us to do.  To love people.  To love them all the way.  And sometimes we do that, love people, only because we know we should, and it’s not much fun, but we do it anyways.  And sometimes, thank God, with a little inspiration, it’s easier.  And Jesus, to show us how, to inspire us to love, loved us all the way.  And before that Good Friday and Easter, he told his disciples, and through the scriptures, he tells us,  that when we sit down together, maybe over a little wine and a little bread, to remember him and what he did, and to be inspired, and to go out and show his love in as many ways as we can.


Ask Me About Joni Tickets

ask me about joni

Joni is of course Joni Eareckson Tada. She was a person who became paralyzed. Because of her faith she believed that she would be healed. She wasn’t. This caused some time of self reflection, but she eventually worked her way through it. She became famous for her story and her paintings. She painted by holding the brushes in her mouth. The tickets (referenced on the button) are for the movie that was made about her life. She starred in it. As I recall, churches would contact movie theaters and get them to book these Christian movies and then church members would help with the ticket sales. The theaters made money selling tickets, and the churches helped people hear about Jesus. I just was a kid when all this was going down, so I may not have my facts quite right. I remember Time to Run being another one of these movies. This was before VHS/DVD; nowadays Christian movies like this–seems like there was a football movie and a firefighter movie–just go straight to video so churches can show them on their own big screens.

I’m not a fan of the division of art into categories of Christian and secular. Although I guess if the purpose of a piece of art is to get someone to make a religious decision, that puts it in a different category. I think the word for art, the purpose of which is to persuade, is propaganda. I know that word carries a bit of baggage, but some propaganda is considered pretty good art: Picasso, Norman Rockwell, Casablanca, Chaplin’s Little Dictator, Animal Farm, Dr. Strangelove, and Red Dawn (ok, maybe not great art, but Wolveriiiiiiines!).

Anyway, if you were asking, you can buy the Joni movie (6.6 on imdb) on Amazon. I can’t find Time to Run (7.6 imdb).

When I first published this on facebook it lead to a bit of a discussion.  Much of it is below.


  • Andy There is a great movie now touring the country that is both a great piece of art in and of itself (great acting, powerful story, great cinematography, etc..) but also a powerful Christian movie. It’s based on the life of Rich Mullins and called “Ragamuffin” and if you want to look at more info you can check out their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/richmullinsfilm

    Bryan They’re still doing the “partner with theaters” thing. This past year, our Celebrate Recovery group worked with the local Nevada theater to get them to show “Home Run”, which was a baseball movie with a similar religious point. It didn’t beat you over the head with it, but I don’t think anyone could leave thinking it wasn’t trying to persuade you towards Christianity. Overall not a great movie, but definitely better than anything starring Kirk Cameron.

    Carrie Saw her movie, read her book and had her album.
    Matt Carrie, one of the reviewers on imdb said that every teenage girl she knew back in the day had a copy of Joni’s book.

    Bryan, one of the youth groups we worked with years ago brought one of those Cameron movies to a lock in–so that they could make fun of it.
    Anyone seen Blue Like Jazz? I read it and liked it.
    Oh,and speaking of great art, I wish I had a Thief in the Night button.

    Andy Are you talking about the semi-recent ones by that church out of Georgia? I’ve seen three of them… Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous… they all have an element of cheesiness to them…I think it’s the so-so acting and so-so writing. Courageous came the closest to a good movie though.
    I’ve listened to the audiobook of it (Blue Like Jazz) … and I have a couple of other Donald Miller books that I want to read on my bookshelf. I liked some of it…

    Bryan Blue Like Jazz was a good book, but haven’t seen the movie. If you want true cheesiness, I suggest the Left Behind moves. Kirk Cameron takes terrible material to a whole new level of weirdness.
    Andy Oh yeah. Those are awful.

    Matt Thief in the night was from the 70s, end of the world, mark of the beast, guillotining believers, amazing. I saw it in the basement of the Methodist church back when. It may even have been the first of a trilogy.

    Marnie I had a copy of the book. I think all of the girls in our youth group read it and saw the movie. Really vivid memories of this being a huge turning point in my faith. That and some mission weekend we had. I remember the couple who led it. He was black and she was white. That was breaking barriers back then.


Doodles as Art

Doodles swirls

There’s something cool about zoning out and letting your right brain run things for a bit.  It may reveal something about the person doodling.  Maybe it doesn’t.  If it does I guess these two were having a pretty good day.

My daughter said it looks like the second picture is all about my wallet.  My wallet is covering the name of the artist.  So that piece, I guess, is all about her.

Batman and the Outsiders


Batman and the Outsiders #7, Feb. 1984 by Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo. As a kid, I read a lot of Batman, but I don’t remember The Outsiders. The Outsiders are a group of five heroes I also wasn’t familiar with: Geo-Force, who is strong, fast, and can fly; Halo, who has some kind of aura powers, the different color auras giving her different magical powers; Metamorpho, who I think can change himself into any element; Black Lightning (who I had heard of) who has some kind of vague power over all things electrical; and Katana, who does martial arts with a magic sword. They are a bunch of newbies, bankrolled by Bruce Wayne with Batman there in some sort of advisory capacity.

The story was fun with a kind of Twilight Zone twist.  In the previous issue, the team, with the exception of Katana, has been frozen by a mad scientist. He’s taken Katana because he needs to harvest her organs so he can put them in his sick wife. To help him with this he has three robots named #1, #2, and #3. It appears that he has built these robots based on plans he stole from a 1950’s mad scientist.


The rest of The Outsiders soon escape from their freezing thanks to the magic powers of Halo. It’s funny that they try to explain how she was able to use her aura powers just before the freezing happened to blah blah blah blah blah.


It’s like when Dr. Who tries to explain something. It’s all “Who Cares!” It’s not real science, or even close, so what difference does it make? Just say you melted the ice from the inside while you were frozen and let’s be done with it. Phew. Sorry.

So the rest of the gang escapes and then tracks down Katana and then helps her escape, using all their super powers. This is what’s fun about team comic books–watching them work together to solve a problem or win a fight using everyone’s special abilities. That’s enough. Some team books get real talkie with everyone in conflict over their role in the group and who should or shouldn’t belong, and it becomes this boring soap opera.  There’s just a bit of that here.  But this book mostly focuses on the action, and it’s a fun little fight.


And in the end there’s a little twist, and Black Lightning uses his magic powers, and it all ends well, except for Batman’s little moralizing.

judge much

He doesn’t know these people. Who is he to judge them for trying to escape from society, when that’s obviously what he lives his life doing.  Wayne Manor, anyone? Bat cave?
Dear art,

Raise a theme. Provoke discussion. But don’t tell us what’s what.  Leave that to us to figure out.  Thanks.
Having said all that, this was a fun story. Two unknown super heroes up.


Mystery Woman


This piece of student work actually hangs in my house, hence the protective and reflective glass (Can you find Batman?).  I was really taken with this when it hung in the school hallway.  I told the artist over and over how great I thought it was.  He didn’t seem to be that crazy about it.  He finally gave it to me.  I would have paid for it, and I’m not sure I didn’t.  I’m not sure what it is about this piece.  I love the colors.  I love the mystery.  I love those eyes; this is a sexy painting I think.  And I love the juxtaposition of the presumably Muslim woman’s portrait hanging on a presumably Christian American’s wall.  I haven’t talked to the artist in quite a while.  I believe he’s studying art somewhere.