The Casting Dock

Posts from — October 2010

Fighting World Hunger One Movie at a Time (Guest Blogger)

You all will be sad to know that the budget for the much-anticipated movie sequel “Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance” was slashed almost in half recently, from $135 million to a paltry $75 million. If you don’t remember the first installment, let me help. It’s the one where Nic Cage fights evil by dressing in a lot of leather, riding a motorcycle, and turning into a demon with a flaming skull for a head.

If you’re like me, the preview from the original “Ghost Rider” is probably burned in your mind somewhere, pushed back into a recess so deep you hoped you’d never find it again. Selective memory is not always a bad strategy (though as a child my parents told me otherwise with the occasional spanking). Some things are worth forgetting. Quickly. And “Ghost Rider” was one of them. Why did we try so hard to forget about this movie? Or, if you somehow missed the previews, why did you groan when you read my synopsis above?

Because the movie was terrible, and everybody knew it would be as soon as they saw Cage’s face burst into flames in the preview. You didn’t have to see more than two minutes to know. The movie critics who had to not only watch the entire movie but actually pay attention to it confirmed our suspicions. “Ghost Rider” received a pitiful rating of 26% on Rotten Tomatoes.

The reason I am summoning this painful, repressed memory is because I have a theory. Let’s call it the Sorcerer’s Paradox (named after Cage’s recent Disney-sponsored misstep, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”). Here’s the basic thrust: Nic Cage’s capacity to find himself in predictably terrible movies has the potential to be extraordinarily beneficial to society at large. Or in other words, Nic Cage’s movies are so bad that they can be immensely good. How, you ask?

Whoever decided to cut the budget for “Ghost Rider 2” was close to uncovering the Sorcerer’s Paradox. This decision-maker probably stopped by the set one day, watched for a few minutes, and thought “Why in the world did we give this thing $135 million? We don’t stand a snowball’s chance in Ghost Rider’s hair of turning a profit.” What kept him short of unleashing the full Paradox is that he merely slashed the budget. Why stop there? If we could convince Cage and his filmmaking cronies to take the initial budget for one of his upcoming and clearly unpromising movies and redirect it entirely into charitable ventures, I am convinced we could make a significant dent in some global social ills.

Let’s put the Sorcerer’s Paradox to the test, starting with its namesake. The budget for “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” (2010) was $150 million according to the-numbers.com. It made only $63 million in U.S. theaters and received a score of 42% from Rotten Tomatoes. The budget for “Bangkok Dangerous” (2008) was $45 million; it only made $15.2 million in U.S. theaters and received a score of 9% from Rotten Tomatoes. “Lord of War” (2005), which did manage a 61% on Rotten Tomatoes, had a $42 million budget and only grossed $24 million in domestic theaters. Give me the money that it cost to make three Cage movies that everyone knew would stink, and I could have had $216 million to join the fight against hunger, cancer, unemployment, and the Soviets.

Are my statistics misleading? Sure—there are DVD sales, television rights, and international ticket sales that swell the total earnings. Does Nic Cage occasionally put out some entertaining movies that do well in American theaters? Absolutely. Two words—“The Rock.” But do me a favor: take two minutes, watch this preview for Cage’s next flick (the imaginatively titled “Drive Angry”), and tell me we couldn’t have stopped this movie and AIDS in one fell swoop.

October 29, 2010   3 Comments

A teaser…

Today is a big day, ladies and gents.  Well, not really…it’s actually a very normal, low-key (though unseasonably warm!) Thursday, BUT tomorrow will be a big day, at least for my faithful blog readers it will be!  We will be having our first guest blogger!  I know what you’re thinking, But Lisa, we’ve only had you for a mere 2 weeks.  We want more of you.  We looooove you.  You inspire our lives and make our days meaningful (what’s that??? I mayyyy be overestimating the worth of my blog and the extreme enjoyment you each glean from it? Well, whatever…let’s just pretend that you all love me and every enlightened little word that drips from my mouth.)  So, where were we?  Oh yes, you all were staunchly protesting this guest blogger with beseeching eyes and pouty lips.  Do not fear, faithful blog readers, you will see plennnnnnnty more of me, but you’ll just have to trust me when I say, this guest blogger will not disappoint.  In fact, let me give you some tasty snapshots of this person just to whet your appetite:

1.  This person’s guilty pleasures are female pop music, cookies, and The Bachelor/ette.

2.  One time I found this person standing next to his/her book shelf with a computer making an alphabetized and categorized list of every book that he/she owns.

3.  This person spits in the toilet everytime before he/she pees, like clockwork (ok, yes, I give in–it’s a guy…you caught me. That clue was really not gender nuetral: I don’t know any girls that spit in the toilet, period, let alone religiously before they pee…and I’m not sure I’d want them guest blogging if I did {just kidding–I would never discriminate}).

4. We (being a group of people) have established that he could run the 40 faster than Mike Lowell (there isn’t a total consensus on this, but there’s really only one person holding out in the negativo column…)

5.  He loved the “jeans” with elastic at the bottom as a child.  I also learned last night that his most embarrassing moment was wetting his pants in third grade because he was laughing so hard when the kid who, in his words, spent a lot of time in his own world, came bouncing into the classroom with his hair in a ponytail on the top of his head. After the “incident,”  he then sat in the bathroom and waited for someone to bring him a change of clothes. Poor kid.

6.  He has a knack for being awesome at things that don’t really pay dividends in regular life, or as he says, “for things that just don’t matter.” Examples include playing the video game Madden and pool basketball.  He seriously is freakishly good at both of those things, but what does that really getcha?

7.  He is a nerd in the most endearing sense of the word (you should hear him talk about ancient Rome…) but is also an athlete and STRONG sports enthusiast.  A killer combo in my eyes.

OK, enough random ramblings.  It’s time for the big reveal…my first guest blogger will be:

This Sexy Beast. 

Otherwise known as my adorable husband (and yes, I am aware that 98% of you knew I was talking about Jerry from point 1 {and if not, you definitely should have known it by point 3…} and yes, I am aware that those random facts were truly rannn-dommm and really had nothing to do with the quality of guest blogger that he will be…but they made you a little curious, didn’t they??!  And for the record, I should say that the Bachelor/ette is my guilty pleasure, not his…I just wasn’t ready to own it yet…)

But in all seriousness, he is HILARIOUS and despite knowing him so well that I can often predict what he’s thinking or anticipate his witty one-liner about something, he STILL routinely makes me lose it laughing…not to the point that I have wet my pants…but I leave that role for him in this marriage…(ohhh, Pam with a zinger…)

To give you a taste for his style, here is a little blurb that he sent in an email chain a month or so ago when we were talking about clowns and birthday parties:

In kindergarten we had some kind of circus activity for parents to come see. We all dressed up as different circus-type personalities and had acts. They cast me and some other kid as the strong man. Apparently they didn’t realize I’d grow up to be a skinny white dude, even though I was skinnier and whiter at the time than I am now. It gets worse. What do strong men apparently wear at the circus? Leopard-print costumes that look like what some WWE wrestlers wear: one strap over the shoulder, lots of leg showing, etc. I proceeded to lift up dumbbells made of cardboard for the parents. In retrospect, it was demoralizing. Do you ever look back on the things that parents and teachers make kids do and wonder, “What ever convinced them that this was a good idea?” I do…

And I dug up this picture from the archives to really drive the visual home (if only he was holding the dumbbells…):

It’s just SOOOO good.  Gets me everytime.  I mean, really savor that; it’s tasty…

October 28, 2010   4 Comments

So We Run

About a year ago a really good friend of mine (along with another friend of his) began the process of starting a non-profit called So We Run.  SWR has a refreshingly simple mission: to provide lightly used shoes to people in need, both locally and internationally.  This past summer SWR took a group of four guys down to Guatemala with the organization Little Lambs International to lay the foundation (literally) for a future orphanage, bringing suitcases of shoes in the process.

I love the humbly simple, yet profoundly meaningful mission of this non-profit and I love my friend’s leadership, vision, and heart to pour his time, energy, and (when necessary) money into this venture.  He posted the following note on his SWR facebook page, which I thoroughly enjoyed so I asked permission to copy it here for all 7 of you to enjoy:  {Check out SWR’s website here if you’re interested in hearing more about it…}

A few days ago I was fortunate enough to pick up a somewhat well-known author/speaker from the airport and take him to Gordon College for a lecture he was giving at the school.  My general rule of thumb with folks like this is to keep the conversation to mundane items like the weather, color of the leaves or Dunkin Donuts vs Starbucks coffee (side note, we both think Dunks has better coffee).  However a “small” traffic jam extended our time together, and unfortunately (or fortunately) we ran out of trivial things to talk about. 

So we started talking about family.  Then about traveling the world.  Then about SWR’s trip to Guatemala.  Then about So We Run.

First and foremost, I’ve talked to quite a few people about SWR and never have I had a more captive audience than this author/speaker.  He held onto every word like they were vital instructions for how to disarm the nuclear warhead that was underneath his seat.  He simply repeated over and over again, “Wow!  That is so great!” 

I still feel somewhat uncomfortable “pushing” SWR but the more he affirmed me the more I kept talking.

I then told him the story about the first individuals we helped (missionaries in Southeast Asia that run a soccer school) and eventually told him our catch line “helping kids be kids.”

Again, I couldn’t believe how excited he was. 

On a side note, this individual travels probably 25 days out of every month.  Meets “logistics coordinators” for small colleges probably every other week.  But he valued me and he valued SWR. 

After I told him about our vision for “helping kids be kids” he said.  “What makes that most important is that it offers dignity.”  I didn’t know exactly what he meant but I let out one of those deep understanding “MMMMMHHHHMMMMMMMMM” as if he said something that I was already thinking.  Luckily for me, he continued.  “What makes it so great is that you are offering a small piece of dignity.  Really, shoes are not a necessity but simply having something extra can be so empowering, encouraging and uplifting.  I think that is what makes your organization valuable.  It gives people dignity.”

I’ve been thinking about what he said for the last few days now.  Dignity. 

Dignity.

There are times when I think that SWR isn’t doing enough good.  We aren’t feeding the hungry.  We aren’t curing terrible diseases.  We aren’t stopping unnecessary violence.  Are we even making a difference? 

I think we are.  I think having pride is good.  I think being empowered is good.  I think belief in oneself is good.  If giving a kid a pair of shoes can facilitate positive thinking and affirm them as valuable, then I think what we are doing is good.

I probably will never figure out a way to end poverty.  I’m not smart enough.  But maybe one of those kids in Southeast Asia will.  Maybe one of those kids in Guatemala will figure out a medicine that eradicates the world of HIV/AIDS.

Thanks speaker/author (who shall remain anonymous) for reminding me what’s important, and for valuing me.   Ironically, that’s sorta the point of SWR I guess.  Valuing people.

October 26, 2010   1 Comment

a restful weekend

 

I had a little sicky this weekend.  Not super sick, just the initial oh-no-my-throat’s-sore-I-feel-it-coming kind of sick that makes you want to lounge around in an attempt to stave it off.  Luckily this sicky onset dovetailed nicely with a super restful weekend. 

Sunday was the epitome of a relaxing day.  Jer had to watch The Thin Red Line for a panel discussion that he will be participating in tonight at Gordon College, his lovely place of employment and our alma mater.  I perpetually bugged him with the camera, my poor, sick, workingish (do we consider watching a movie on your laptop in bed as working??!)-on-a-Sunday husband, thus producing the above look.  Jerry typically really struggles to know what facial expressions he’s making.  I know that sounds really…well…silly…but he can’t just produce a facial expression to match an emotion on the spot…his expressions are generally just not quite right in capturing the emotion.  An attempted sad face might look a little more petrified than sad, an attempted happy face might look a little more perplexed than happy…you get the idea.  Anyway, this picture captured exactly what I knew he was thinking at the time. Well done, Jerry.  And in my own defense, I put the camera down after that one. I’m not always a pest.

So although it wasn’t exciting, a restful Sunday morning with a book and cup of tea, followed by some delicious whole wheat broccoli pizza (thank you Trader Joes), and topped off by evening church and a pancakes-for-dinner fundraiser for said church’s college fall retreat was just what the doctor ordered.  Well, that and some Nyquil. Mmmm, Nyquil. I mayyyybe took a little too….it’s just so good.

October 25, 2010   3 Comments