Thursday, March 31, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things...

I am a complete movie nerd. I have been since I saw my first movie, “The Jungle Book.” I loved them so much my undergraduate degree is in film and television, and I once aspired to be a film screenwriter and director. Last week the inner movie nerd came out once again while watching the “ABC News and People Best in Film: The greatest movies of our time.” For their list go to film/. Some of the top picks I agreed with and some I did not, but it did make me think of my favorites, overall and in specific genres. These might not be the best films ever made, but personal favorites are not always critical favorites. So here are a few of my favorite things, and yes, that’s a bit of foreshadowing. I'll start with a few genres. First, comedy. My favorite in this genre is “The Princess Bride.” I’ll admit, this film had to grow on me, but once it did, it stuck and always makes me giggle. It also contains my favorite movie quote: “I do not think that means what you think it means.” There’s a film that scares me every time I see it. Da dum, da dum ... that’s right “we’re going to need a bigger boat,” for the classic “Jaws.” Spielberg created a cinematic classic with this man-eating shark. The unseen menace beneath the waters creates suspenseful tension that doesn’t go away no matter how many times you see the film. I’m also a sucker for a good Western, and “McLintock!” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” are my favorites. Animated films are not just for kids. Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” was always my favorite growing up, but I also enjoy “Up!” and “How to Train Your Dragon,” often tearing up when watching them. Some films transcend genres and almost don’t even fit in personal “best of” lists because they are just that good. These films include “Sound of Music,” “Gone with the Wind” and “Ben Hur.” Films are not made like this anymore. If the chariot scene in “Ben Hur” was made today it would be mostly CGI. It’s a scene that can never be topped. For films like this in classic Hollywood, it was go big or go home. Because most of my favorite films are Sci-fi, I do enjoy special effects, but in a industry drowning in computer-generated special effects, watching a old Hollywood studio film shot on location with big sets, costumes and drama is often a refreshing break from the matrix. But my all-time favorites that transcend these genres come with a lot of imagination and, ironically, all come in trilogy form. The first three “Indiana Jones” flicks (“Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Temple of Doom” and “The Last Crusade”) took adventure to another level and created a major, lifelong crush on Harrison Ford. The last of the three is the first film I ever remember standing in a long line for only to find out it was sold out. I do not count the fourth film in this because it was a disaster and great disappointment. The original three films are so good that perfectionist film maker George Lucas couldn’t even find anything he wanted to touch up or recreate when they were released on DVD. Second in my favorite films is “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy (“Fellowship of the Ring,” “The Two Towers” and “Return of the King”). Admittedly my passion for these films began with the books, and I do recommend reading those first. The venture into Middle Earth is only made possible on film by the writings and crazy intense imagination of J.R.R. Tolkien. I look forward to seeing “The Hobbit” on screen sometime next year. But my favorite above all favorites is the original “Star Wars” trilogy. Known today as Episodes 4 through 6, in my day they were simply known as “Star Wars,” “Empire” and “Jedi.” Any true fan of the films will tell you “Empire” is by far the best and will confess great disappointment in Episodes 1 through 3. The first time I saw “Star Wars,” I was hooked and became fascinated with film, wanting to learn how each frame was shot. All six films in the saga are scheduled to be released on Blu-ray in September. Throw in “E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial,” “Witness,” “Braveheart,” “Roman Holiday,” “Rocky,” “Glory” and a little film called “Dear Frankie” and you have most of my favorite films. Even though I think films today are not as good as they used to be, the best still live in my imagination, in the flickering screen of my mind. What’s your favorite film?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

This Week's column

The problem with Gaga
I know some people have gone gaga over Lady Gaga, but I think it’s time to get real here. Despite the dramatic overtones of everything she does, is there any talent there?
I won’t approach this from a moral or ethical standpoint, but there are issues to discuss there. I mean, come on, she did an interview on “Good Morning America” in an outfit she said was inspired by a condom.
I want to look at her from a musical standpoint.
Is her flair for the dramatic masking the fact that she lacks musical talent?
There have been many musicians who have had outrageous productions, but they had the talent to back it up.
John Lennon, for example. In the Yoko years, he seemed to live on another planet at times, but musically he was a genius.
Elton John. The man wore sequence, feathers and platform shoes in the “Crocodile Rock” days. But no one would ever question his talent as a musician.
Prince, or the artist formally known as. He went through some pretty “Let’s Get Crazy” moments himself but the drama didn’t drown out his artistry in music.
And let’s not forget Michael Jackson, the king of weird himself. No matter what he did or how strange it seemed, his music never came into question.
I’m not defending any these individuals, but their musical talent cannot be questioned.
That brings me back to Gaga.
If you take away all the costumes, make up, staging and eggs, is the music good enough to stand up to her hype and does she even live up to her own hype?
Has anyone noticed most of her music has the same backbeat only sped up or slowed down depending on the song? Think about it. “Bad Romance” and “Poker Face” are pretty much the same song with different lyrics.
If she’s supposed to be such an accomplished piano player, why are her songs all electronic pop in sound? It would be nice to see some of her piano skills expressed in her music rather than in short bursts during a Grammy performance.
For some reason she’s being praised for lyrics like “rah rah ah ah ah, roma roma ma, gaga ooh la la.” Seriously? My friend’s 1-year-old can come up with a line like that.
And let’s not forget a lot of what she does is just an act. It’s not coincidence that her behavior has become more and more outlandish since her release of the “Just Dance” single. When her outlandish live productions got some attention, they kept getting crazier. That’s not by accident. She’s using the attention to promote substandard music.
She preaches self-esteem and being who you are, but in reality she lives behind a mask. She’ll don horns, hats and crazy costumes to cover whatever it is she doesn’t like about herself. If she wants people to be themselves so badly, why does she constantly contradict that message by having to recreate herself so often?
I think sometimes we, including me (I did grow up in the 1980s which was full of all sorts of craziness), forgo all sense of musical taste to fall all into something because it’s popular or because it has a beat we can dance to. I think we sometimes should look at things more seriously and evaluate why we like things or if we even should.
In reality, without the costumes, antics and outlandish behavior, Gaga’s music would have just faded into the background of pop music. It’s the image that drives her, not the music.
If you want to hear true musical coolness, check out the “Dueling Cellists Play ’Smooth Criminal’” YouTube video attached to this story on That’s talent.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Rescued from a grain bin

Cecilia farmer Pat Owsley came face to face with a farming danger Thursday. It brought him within seconds of a suffocating death in his own grain bin and he credits God for circumstances that led to an amazing rescue.
He was checking corn in the top of a bin when suddenly he found himself being pulled down in the corn like quicksand.
As he began to sink deeper, he yelled for help. He thought the sound of machinery might swallow his cry. Still sinking, he grabbed a shovel and threw it. It passed through a small opening in the top of the bin.
Mark Williams, who was hauling the corn that day, had started up the ladder when he saw the shovel fly past. He quickly turned off the auger that was loading the corn into the truck. That stopped the vortex of pressure pulling Owsley under.
Owsley calls his ability to get the shovel through on the first try GPS, “God’s Precision Sovereignty.”
Williams went up the ladder to find Owsley stuck in corn up to his armpits. His arms and head were free but the rest of his body was stuck.
Williams dialed 911 and then called neighboring farmer Kerby Grey. After Grey arrived, he knew what to do because he had just attended a farm safety training that reviewed the exact situation.
Rescue workers arrived and the farmers, firefighters and EMTs started to work.
A rope was tied around Owsley and attached to the top of the bin. Then a barrel with both ends cut out was slid over his body and a wet/dry vaccum was used to clear the corn around him. When they cleared enough corn, to a level a little lower than his waist, they were able to pull him out.
Owsley was trapped for a few hours, but surprisingly, even being claustrophobic, he remained calm.
Williams, Grey and a rescue worker stayed with Owsley the entire time. Rescue workers in the bin and on the ground worked tirelessly to free him, even discussing alternate plans if the current one didn’t work.
When Owsley emerged from the top of the bin, he was surprised to see so many people and vehicles on the farm lot. Along with the fire trucks and other rescue vehicles were dozens of pick-up trucks.
Once farmers in the community found out about what had happened, they showed up in force. That’s how farmers are, a community that cares.
Owsley came out of the incident unharmed. He knows how close he was from a triumph becoming a tragedy. Seconds really.
He is grateful for Williams and Grey’s quick thinking and the rescue workers who worked to free him. But most of all he is thankful to God and how he used these people to free him from the corn.
He believes that all the events leading up to the situation — the shovel going through the opening on the first try, his calmness through the entire ordeal and the training Grey had received — was no coincidence. He has seen God working throughout and gives him the credit for coming out of this incident unharmed.
I am grateful too, because this farmer is my dad.
I have lived each day since amazed by how God helped him through it, grateful for those who helped and thankful my dad is safe and able to tell his story.
Words cannot express the joy I felt just being able to stand next to him in church Sunday and the time that has been cherished since Thursday.
Time may pass and the other events will float in and out of our memories but the gravity of the situation of March 3, 2011, and the blessings that followed always will be remembered.

Pat and Linda Owsley would like to thank the emergency personnel who responded so quickly to our emergency on Thursday. Everyone was very calm and professional and sought only to make a bad situation easier for us. We also would like to thank Kerby Grey and Mark Williams for their quick thinking and for using their knowledge and skills in a way that makes us very proud to be farmers in Hardin County.
Thank you to our friends and family who started praying the minute they heard and then called with well wishes and offers of help if we needed it. Praise be to God, for he is good.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

This Week's Column

His Majesty's Birthday
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is described by the American Kennel Club as “low-set, strong, sturdily built and active, giving an impression of substance and stamina in a small space.”
Their height is between 10 and 12 inches and they don’t have much of a tail.
The AKC goes on to say their outlook is bold but kindly, the expression is intelligent and interested and the Corgi is never shy or vicious.
Translation, these short little guys are friendly and love to be the center of attention. A definition that perfectly describes Duke the Corgi.
I’ve never met a dog so small who thinks he’s so big.
Corgis from Pembrokeshire, Wales, date back to the 1100s. They were officially registered by the AKC in 1934.
They are considered a cattle driving animal or farm dog. Although Duke does try to herd his housemate Boo the Labrador, his temperament seems to have arrived from a more royal usage of the dog.
He must have found out Corgis are fond of pampering because he is often known to demand it. Queen Elizabeth currently has four Corgis, Linnet, Monty, Willow and Holly as well as three Dorgis, a cross between a Dachshund and Corgi.
The queen first met Corgis when her father, King George VI, bought one named Dookie.
Although they have similar names Dookie is no relation to Duke. I was told by Duke’s previous owners he was named after “The Duke’s of Hazard.” Duke, however, refuses to believe his name arrived from the Duke boys and acts as if his name has more regal origins, as if he is the Grand Duke of Rineyville.
The fact that the queen of England has this breed explains a few things about Duke and his desire for pampering. He doesn’t really think he can sit on the floor without cushioning and thinks the best place to sleep at night is on a pillow.
He also demands attention, often barking at guests until they look down at him. As soon as he gets their attention he immediately rolls over for them to scratch his belly.
Duke also has a sixth sense for knowing when something else is getting attention. If I’m petting Boo, Duke somehow knows it from three rooms away and I hear the quickened pace of tinny little legs scurrying over to become the center of attention.
Why, you may ask, am I giving a brief history of the Welsh Corgi and Duke’s goal to be treated as well as the queen’s pets?
Sunday is Duke’s birthday. That’s right, his majesty turns 7.
While Boo and I will try our best to give him adequate attention on his birthday, I’m sure it will not live up to his expectations.
He will remind us that Hillary Swank, Jennifer Aniston and Steven King also own Corgis and he will guess they are pampered far more than he is.
While the Labrador always tops the AKC list for most popular dog, Duke is always quick to remind Boo that Corgis are more regal —after he’s used his air-ninja move on Boo to try to get him to chase him.
Yes, Duke is quite popular and, in a weird sort of way, quite the little celebrity. He’s appeared in the paper after a trip to Dinosaur World and he auditioned for the role of Toto in “The Wizard of Oz.” And yes, he will expect to be treated as a celebrity on Sunday. Actually, he expects to be treated like a celebrity every day.
If you don’t believe me, check out his fan page on Facebook,
In the end, Boo and I usually tolerate this attention ham of a dog because, after all, he is kind of cute.