Top 5 Tuesdays: Bible Stories That Should Be Movies

Admit it: there is some crazy stuff in the Bible — crazy cool, that is. But it seems like all the movies that are made from Bible stories are always about the same boring parts. So now’s your chance: what are the top five Bible stories you wish were made into movies?

Here’s my list:

5) Balaam’s Talking Donkey (Numbers 22) — Disney could easily adapt this tale of a talking donkey into their line of movies starring personified animals. The only difference being that this one supposedly actually happened.

4) Civil War in the Promised Land (Judges 19-21) — the Israelites are in the promised land. Everything should be good – but things go horribly awry when a religious man on a journey stops to rest for the night and the woman he is traveling with is raped and left for dead. The event leads to a civil war among the tribes of Israel, complete with ambushes and guerrilla warfare, before one of the tribes comes perilously close to being wiped out forever.

3) Jael and the Tent Stake (Judges 4) — Take one bad-a woman warrior, an oppressed people group, a snoozing commander of the enemy army, and a tent stake, and you have an instant classic on your hands. To add to it, the whole story is set against a backdrop of the Israelites being led into an epic war (by Deborah and Barak) against the dead guy’s army. I’d like to see the Mel Gibson Braveheart-esque version of this one.

2) Ehud and the Fat King (Judges 3) — A left handed warrior who sneaks a dagger into the palace of the enemy king because everyone thinks he’s right-handed… an oppressive and massively obese tyrant with a penchant for overindulgence… a stabbing done in secret, told in gruesome detail… the guards thinking the king was going to the bathroom, until they break in and discover the grisly scene… oh, yeah. We’re talking 300 meets Jack Bauer here. Total Frank Miller style awesomeness.

1) David, Jonathan, and Saul (1 Samuel) — Okay, really: I do not understand how no one has made this story into a movie yet. It has it all: undying friendship, sacrifice, war, romance, betrayal, and supernatural intervention. It’s tailor made for the big screen.

Okay, that’s my list. What’s yours?

Top 5 Tuesdays: Summer Blockbusters

There are essentially two kind of movies, as I see it: those which are released in the summer whose intent is solely to entertain, and those which are released in November/December whose intent is to be artsy enough to win an Oscar.

Even though it is currently snowing outside here in Wyoming (!!!), I’m still dreaming of summertime. So for this Top 5 Tuesday, it’s time to celebrate the entertaining, special effects-laden summer blockbusters!

Top Five Summer Blockbusters

5. Spider Man (2003)
I’m generally not a huge fan of comic book movies, but this one was really well done and just really fun to watch. Spiderman is the perfect postmodern hero, and this movie came out at the perfect time in our nation’s psyche (less then two years after 9/11) to inspire us toward flawed and vulnerable heroism ourselves.

4. Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Okay, so I was only two years old when this movie was released, but I’ve read enough about the atmosphere surrounding it, and I love Star Wars enough, that I had to put it on the list. Has there ever been as much buzz and excitement for a sequel (which turned out to be even better than the first in the series)? Empire is just epic, any way you slice it.

3. Pirates of the Caribbean (2003)
Like most sequel-heavy franchises, the original is still clearly the best. Johnny Depp proves his amazing skills as an actor with one of the most memorable characters of all time, and the story is propelled by just the perfect amount of levity and humor.

2. Independence Day (1996)
Oh, man – this is the quintessential aliens-attacking-earth movie for my generation. The special effects were absolutely incredible (for 1996) and ID4 quickly became the must-see action flick everyone was talking about.

1. Dark Knight (2008)
I have nothing but good things to say about this amazing movie, which is definitely the best of the Batman franchise thus far. The way Christopher Nolan and Heath Ledger were able to communicate the dark, psychologically disturbing aspect of the Joker is breathtaking, in an uneasy sort of way. This movie is brilliant.

Honorable Mention: Gladiator, Back to the Future, Ghostbusters

That’s my top five. What’s yours?

Top 5 Tuesdays: “Non-Christian” Songs About Jesus

If you haven’t been here on a Tuesday before, each week we have a back-and-forth that I lovingly call Top 5 Tuesdays. I throw out a topic and a list of the five best things in that topic in order to kick off the conversation, and then invite everyone to join in. So leave a comment, discuss, and have fun!

I had been told for many years in my journey following Jesus that I was supposed to only listen to “Christian” music. It wasn’t until we moved to Laramie that I fully embraced the fact that a song doesn’t have to be “Christian” to bring me closer to God; in fact, sometimes the ones that aren’t overtly Christian do that much more effectively.

I have a friend who always tells me when we’re listening to music, “That song is about Jesus!” It doesn’t matter if it’s the Gaithers or Bon Jovi, he is adept at teasing out echoes of the gospel from lyrics and music. It’s beautiful.

I have another friend who shares a love for good music – regardless of whether it’s labeled as “Christian” or not – and we’ve talked about how awesome it would be if there was a radio station that played good music. Not “Christian” music or “secular” music, but just good music.

Since music is one of the things we Christians love to argue about, in honor of the Rally to Restore Unity this week’s Top 5 Tuesday is:

Top 5 Songs About Jesus That Aren’t “Christian”

5. Roll Away Your Stone – Mumford and Sons
I was just recently introduced to Mumford and Sons by my good friend Jen, and I am so glad I was! Every once in awhile I will just stick a handful of their songs into Grooveshark and listen to them on repeat. This particular song has “some really talented worship team needs to play me at church” written all over it.

4. Something to Believe In – Poison
Jon and I always tried to get our worship and arts pastor to let us do this song on a Sunday morning. He never agreed – something about the distinctly 80s rock ballad style not being so much relevant. Whatever. Heh. This is an amazingly rich song about questioning the justice (and ultimately the existence) of God, and raises questions we all struggle with. It’s poignant – especially the third verse, which messes me up.

3. Doubting Thomas – Nickel Creek
There’s something about the simplicity of music in the folk rock genre that just invites really heartfelt songs about struggles and faith, and Doubting Thomas is another one of them. The honesty and rawness of this one is really refreshing, and it’s easy to find myself in the story it tells.

2. Magnificent – U2
Truth be told, any number of U2 songs could end up on this list – Yahweh, Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Psalm 40, or Pride (In the Name of Love), just to name a few. Magnificent is one of their less-well-known songs, but it is absolutely beautiful. It could be sung as a pure worship song without changing anything about it.

1. Viva la Vida – Coldplay
I’m not sure what it was intended to be about, but to me this song is a poetic picture of giving up and giving everything over to Jesus – a kind of conversion experience. I started to type out my favorite lyrics to the song, but then I realized I was pretty much typing the entire thing. Combined with some really sweet music, this is one of my all-time favorite songs.

Okay… so those are my top five songs about Jesus that aren’t “Christian” — what are yours? While you’re thinking, go throw down some dollars for charity:water.

Top 5 Tuesdays: Old School Hymns

No matter how modern or post-modern or contemporary or relevant or whatever our church services become, sometimes there’s just nothing better to lift your spirits like an old school hymn.

Here’s my top five old school hymns: (and yes, some of the “videos” are cheesy – just go with it. Heh.)

5. Here is Love (1876)

4. Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (1680)

3. Be Thou My Vision (6th century – Irish version; 1912 – English version)

2. Holy, Holy, Holy (1826)

1. Come Thou Fount of Ev’ry Blessing (1757)

Honorable Mention: Amazing Grace, On Jordan’s Stormy Banks

I’m not sure Holy, Holy, Holy would have made it that high, but that version by the group Acappella is ridiculously amazing. If you only listen to one of those, make sure it’s that one!

That’s my list. What’s yours?

Top 5 Tuesdays: Easter Candy

Cadbury Cream Eggsphoto © 2008 Sean | more info (via: Wylio)
Easter comes super late this year, which means we all have to wait longer for one of the best parts of the holiday: Easter candy! To start Top 5 Tuesdays back up again, let’s hear your top five favorite Easter candies. Here’s mine:

5. Chocolate Bunnies – No Easter candy list could be complete without chocolate bunnies. The debate rages on, though: hollow or solid?

4. Marshmallow Eggs – No, not marshmallow Peeps — I cannot figure out the attraction of those things! About the only good use for Peeps is some microwaveable fun time. No, I’m talking chocolate covered marshmallow eggs here – the best way to enjoy marshmallow goodness at Easter!

3. Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs – I bet these make the top spot in my wife’s list, and deservedly so. They are delicious and, dare I say, perhaps even better than original Reese’s cups.

2. Starburst Jellybeans – I tweeted last week that Starburst jellybeans are the pinnacle of jellybean evolution. They are everything a jellybean was meant to be. These are the ideal snacky candy!

1. Cadbury Cream Eggs – The. best. candy. ever. I know there’s some haters out there who don’t understand the confectionary perfection of the Cadbury egg, but that’s okay. It leaves more for me.

So that’s my list — what’s yours?

Top 5 Tuesdays: Animated Movies

Admit it: even as an adult, you still love animated movies. Oh sure, you went through that stage where it wasn’t “cool” to like them, and you pretended they didn’t exist, but now you’re not ashamed to admit you watch them.

Am I projecting here? Heh.

Anyway, if you match that description and, like me, you like animated movies (having kids has given me an excuse to watch them again!), this Top 5 Tuesday is for you! So dust off those Broadway-lite songs, the caricatured bad guys, and the sidekicks thrown in for comic relief and tell me your Top Five Animated Movies!

Here’s mine:

5) Anastasia – Anastasia has some of the best music for an animated film around. Plus, this is a true story. Well, okay, it’s based on a true story. Kind of. All right, a dude named Rasputin lived once. That counts, right?

4) The Hunchback of Notre Dame – One of Disney’s best, in my opinion. The music is top notch, the character development is great, the comic relief sidekicks are multiplied times three, and the main character doesn’t get the girl at the end. It’s not a faithful adaptation of the original story, but this one is good enough to stand on it’s own as a powerful narrative of religious corruption and beauty in unexpected places.

3) Toy Story – This is one of the Disney/Pixar team’s best. It is the original completely CGI animated movie, and it’s great. Memorable characters? Check. Smart dialog? Check. Innovative storyline? Check. Good balance of jokes to keep kids and parents interested? Check. It’s not appropriate for Eli yet, but I’m looking forward to watching it with him when he’s older!

2) Cars – Okay, I admit it. I tear up every time I watch the ending of this movie. It is such a beautiful depiction of the sacrificial love of the gospel it just makes me cry. The rest of the movie is great, too… a yearning for slower, simpler times. And the attention to detail means you catch things on the 27th viewing you missed the 26 times before. :) Love it.

1) The Emperor’s New Groove – I think this remains the funniest animated movie I’ve seen. I don’t remember laughing so hard or so often as I did while watching this under-appreciated flick! David Spade is great as Kuzco, and Patrick Warburton (think Putty from Seinfeld) absolutely kills it as Krunk. Fantastic movie!

Honorable Mention: Transformers: The Movie (the original – and dark – 1986 one, not the summer blockbuster crap out these days); Up (so sweet and powerful!); The Incredibles (just a lot of fun!); and Beauty and the Beast (one of the seminal American animated movies).

What’s your top five?

Top 5 Tuesdays: TV Comedies

Okay, time to attempt to contain the laughs while you think back over the best comedies on television. These don’t have to be sit-coms, just regularly-scheduled shows that were designed to make you guffaw, chortle, and chuckle as you watched.

5) Better Off Ted — Written by some of the same writers as Arrested Development (see my #1 pick) and starring some of the same actors, this series really picked up where the sadly stunted life of AD left off.

4) The Office — It’s the quality of the top three shows on my list that keeps The Office from being ranked higher — that and the fact that the show has kind of slid a little in the quality department the past couple seasons. But the first five seasons are pure comedy gold – some of the best ever on television.

3) Seinfeld — It pains me to put this all the way down at number three, because this is the seminal American comedy show. There are no words to describe how awesome the show is, and anytime I catch a rerun I still sit in awe while I crack up laughing. Is that being over dramatic?

2) Whose Line is it Anyway? — No other show has ever made me laugh as hard and as consistently as Whose Line. I know some people are snobs about this show and will only watch the British version, but Ryan Stiles and Wayne Brady are ridiculously funny in the American one. I simply cannot get enough of this show!

1) Arrested Development — If you haven’t watched this show, do yourself a favor and watch it. Tonight. Actually, you know what? Take the day off from work and watch it this morning. There’s only like 2 1/2 seasons of it, so it won’t take long. This show was way ahead of its time, the writing is genius, the actors are brilliant, and the humor will leave you laughing for months. (Shell and I haven’t actually watched an episode for a couple years now, and we will still randomly bust up laughing when the show happens to cross our minds.)

All right, that’s mine — what’s yours?

Top 5 Tuesdays: Super Bowl Commercials

Posting has been light the past week because I’ve been writing papers for school, and more excitingly, I am nearing the completion of the first draft of my book! So any time I’ve had to write has been dedicated to those endeavors. I didn’t want to get too far away from the Super Bowl (what an awesome game!) though without doing a Top 5 Tuesday list of the best commercials!

There were 85 commercials shown during the Super Bowl. Here are my top five:

1) Volkswagen – The Force

2) Best Buy – Ozzy vs. Bieber

3) Doritos – Healing Chips

4) Snickers – Logging

5) NFL – Brand American/Best Fans Ever

Honorable Mention: Chevy – Transformers and Chevy – Commercial Pitch.

What are yours?

(Check out this page at FOX Sports to watch all of them if you need help deciding!)

Top 5 Tuesdays: Board Games as a Kid

I heard from a couple people last week who were expecting last Tuesday’s top five list to be board games you played as a kid.

Silly people.

But in my benevolence, I have dedicated this week’s top five to that topic for you all. :)

Top Five Board Games You Played as a Kid
5. Mousetrap — Who in our age group didn’t like playing with this Rube Goldberg rodent catching machine when they were kids? Although, I can’t remember specifically ever actually playing the game – just setting it up over and over again to watch what it did. Fun times.

4. Milles Bornes

This card game was so fun! I remember playing it with my brother and parents for hours. It’s French, and the title means “a thousand miles” (I think) — which is the goal of the game: to drive a thousand miles before the other players. Along the way, you can hit your opponents with flat tires, empty gas tanks, and speed limits to slow them down. It was the original Magic the Gathering, only with cars instead of wizards. And speed limit signs instead of Black Monsters of the Death Pit. Whatever.

3. Battleship — Classic. I’ve always loved this game. Probably always will.

2. Fireball Island

This game was awesome — probably way ahead of its time with its 3-D layout. The idea is you’re an explorer (a la Indiana Jones) looking for a precious ruby/diamond/jewel type thing. You’ve got to hike around this island with multiple paths to choose from and bridges and… the fireball spitting idol! Whenever you rolled a certain number, you got to control the idol and spit the fireball down the 3-D terrain, attempting to knock out your opponents before they got the jewel and escaped the island. My brother and I played this one a lot.

1. Hero Quest

The ultimate board game – at least if you’re into epic RPG style awesomeness. Control a warrior, dwarf, elf, and wizard and battle monsters like orcs, goblins, zombies, and chaos warriors to complete chapter-like story quests. Plus, you can rearrange the board however you want to create your own customized quests. Awesome! If I wasn’t a “mature” grown up, I’d still play this game. Heh.

Yep – some of these are a little nerdy. But I loved them! Plus, when I wasn’t playing these I was out making obstacle courses and playing basketball, as I pointed out last week. So I feel okay with that. :)

That’s my list. What’s yours?

Top 5 Tuesdays: Games You Played When You Were a Kid

Ah, yes – childhood. A simpler time in life when the biggest worries we had were finishing homework and being home for dinner on time. No bills to pay, no groceries to buy, no babies waking you up in the middle of the night… :)

This week’s Top Five Tuesday is in celebration of those times: the top five games you played when you were a kid. So reach back in your memories and relive with me the simple joys of being a child!

5. Obstacle course – Using swing sets and landmarks in all of our yards, we’d design obstacle courses to run through – and then using the big old fat stopwatches that you’d wear around your neck we would time one another. Jump over the seesaw, through the swing, down the slide, around the tree, under the porch, throw the football through the hole, and then touch the gate… and see who could do it the fastest. Fun times.

4. HORSE – We had a basketball hoop in our driveway that was a magnet for all the neighbor kids, and we’d try and come up with the craziest HORSE shots we could. We shoot from inside the bed of the neighbor’s pickup, from the steps leading to our backyard (behind the basket), from behind the front light post… wherever we could dream up. I was never really any good, but I loved playing. It was awesome.

3. Transformers / MASK / GoBots – All these get grouped into one, because they were all essentially the same thing: toys that would transform into robots. Or other cool stuff – like the MASK semi truck that would transform into a missile launcher. How awesome is that? My brother and I would overtake the entire downstairs of our house with our elaborate scenarios involving all these cyborgs saving the world. I’m pretty sure He-Man and Battlecat got in on some of the action, too. By the power of Grayskull!

2. 500 – My dad would hit baseballs or throw the football for all us kids to chase around. I remember being really impressed that he could hit a ground ball, a line drive, or a pop up whenever he wanted to. :) We’d fight for those grounders worth 25 points, or for the football throws that were good dead or alive. Again, I don’t think any of us, least of all me, possessed much in the way of athletic prowess, but we had so much fun doing this.

1. Baseball – this was serious business – at least in my mind. I don’t think anyone else took it as seriously as I did. But we’d have like ten neighbor kids come over to our backyard and play baseball. Homeplate was a dirt patch in front of the swing set, first base was the corner of my mom’s garden, second base was the turtle sandbox, and third base was one of the legs holding up the back porch. We were in awe of one of the older neighbor kids who could hit the baseball over our fence into our other neighbor’s yard (and we got some good chuckles the couple of times the ball would hit their ginormous satellite dish).

All right — that’s my list. What’s yours?