Friday, August 17, 2012

the expendables 2

As of this very moment, its 217.  In the am.  In the morning.  I just walked in the door, flipped on the TV, sat down and fired up the laptop.  On the TV is "Payback", from 1999, back before Mel Gibson displayed his anger management issues...

...remember when he was just cool?  With "Braveheart" and "Ransom" and "Lethal Weapon" movies and even that crappy "Conspiracy Theory"... now, he does a movie like "Edge of Darkness" and "The Beaver" and no one gives a darn.  Sad, really...

Why is it so late, you ask?  Because I was sitting in a theater at midnight with my buddies Mikey and Tommy Mac, watching the glorious dude movie called "The Expendables 2".  

The original came out in 2010, and I was so pumped for it, I even wrote a preview post... and the movie didn't disappoint.  It was the 58th Coolest Thing of 2010, and I wrote, "...what is the movie even about?  Some crap about a corrupt government and the overthrow of a brutal dictator and so on and so on and who gives a rip.   Seriously. It's awesome. If you like real substance and deep plotlines, then don't watch this movie..." 

And truly, the same line can apply to "The Expendables 2"... only more.  And better.  Most of the cast returns, with Sly, Dolph, Statham, Couture and Terry Crews, with Bruce Willis and Ah-nald making longer, more notable appearances.  Jet Li only gets a little screen time, but we get a few additions to make up for Li's loss, including a surprisingly likable Liam Hemsworth and the bad-A chick Nan Yu, as Maggie Chen.

And lest we forget, the villian this time around, a chews-the-scenery Jean Claude Van Damme as... wait for it... Vilain.  Yes, we have the villian Vilain. 

The Expendables team find themselves in debt to the rogue businessman Church (Bruce Willis) and are sent to retrieve some valuable property before it falls into the wrong hands... but in order for there to be a story, there has to be some wrong hands around, which there are. 

I'd go into more detail, but there's no need... lets face it, like the first one, you aren't coming to this puppy for a deep plot... though I will admit, its got a better plot than the first one.  All in all, I enjoyed this one more than the first film, despite the lack of Jet Li screen time... perhaps it was the appearance of one Chuck Norris that filled the void.

There are a ton of nods to the old action films and cliches of the past, including Bruce Willis and Ah-nald mocking each other's most famous catchphrases ("Yippee-ki-ay!" and "I'll be back", respectively), and lots of laughable moments, though I feel like you'd have to be a little older, maybe late 20s, into your 30s and beyond to really get the jokes. 

Each of the actors hold their own, and Jason Statham continues to be awesome, and you can just tell all of these guys look like they are having fun. 

The language is actually not a huge factor, and though I'm sure there were some, I don't really remember any F-bombs at all. The violence? Completely over the top, almost to the point that it's ridiculous... not that I'd let Campbell watch it, but its a silly violence, not a serious violence, if that makes sense... it is Rated R for a reason, but its still just a lot of fun.  Silly, nostalgic and fun.  I rank it better than the first. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012


As Teber was teaching our Life Connection Class on Sunday--and has been for the past few weeks--about our faith and the reasons behind it (a great series of lessons, and a great presentation of this part of the Gospel) and it made me think of something that I wrote back on October 12th, 2000.

Its a little write up centered around a little tune by Nichole Nordeman called "Fool For You", a song that discussing that even though we may not understand why we believe it, we believe it and are willing to live the life of those beliefs--no matter the cost to our reputation or our image. (note: this song is also featured on the two disc "Love, Pride & Deep Fried Chicken: The Soundtrack to d$'s Life" collection, forthcoming).

I have taken it, give it a little editing twist, added and subtracted and now I simply call it "Nothin' But a Fool". Here goes...

There are times when faith and common sense do not align, when hardcore evidence of You is hard to find. I am silenced in the face of argumentative debate--is a long hill, its a lonely climb--they want proof. They proof of all the mysteries I claim, cause only fools would want to chant a dead man's name. Maybe its true but... I'd be a fool for You. Because you asked me to. A simpleton who's seemingly naive, I do believe You came and made Yourself a fool for me.

Nichole Nordeman rocks my face off. In the late 90s and early part of the 2000s, when I was deeply absorbed in Christian music (before it all started sounding exactly alike and I discovered podcasts and audiobooks), Nichole Nordeman was one of those artists that helped to change my life--dcTalk, Jennifer Knapp and Watermark also have that distinction. And from the album "This Mystery" comes a song that also changed my life. But first, an oddly connecting anecdotal story...

Well, let's begin in 1997... I had a crush on this chick, and I thought of ways to impress her. I'm not going to lie to you, I was a dumb dater then... what I mean by that is, all the stuff I know not to do now, I learned by doing it then and realizing how dumb I was... I'm lucky anyone would have me. Okay, back to the story.

So, I called this girl up, and sang... yes, sang "My Girl" on her answering machine. Now you sit there and laugh, but at the time it seemed like a good idea... well, if you must know, I didn't hear from her for a long time. Yes, it was dumb. And I'm sure I looked incredibly stupid... and foolish. But you know what, I liked her, so I didn't mind looking like a fool for her.

Not to many years ago, someone asked me about God. They were an atheist, and they asked me all sorts of questions that I, being a new Christian, couldn't give a solid answer. Truth-be-known, I'm not sure I could answer some of them now, but it was some of the old unbeliever favorites like "How can a loving God allow such sin in the world?" and "Why do you praise a dead man, Jesus?" and that kind of stuff. You and I both know, in our hearts, the answers to both of those questions, but its hard trying to relay those answers without your opponent having an open mind to the idea of Faith. So, I looked like a fool. But you know what? I like Jesus, he had done a lot for me, so I didn't mind looking like a fool for him.

I admit that in my darkest hours I've asked what-if, what if we created some kind of man-made faith like this? Out of good intention, or emotional invention, after life is through, there will be no You. They want proof of all these miracles I claim, because only fools believe that man can walk on waves. Maybe its true, but I'd be a fool for You because you asked me to. A simpleton who's seemingly naive, I do believe You came and made Yourself a fool for me.

Now, I know I'm not the only one who has done this... wondered what if?

What if... God really doesn't exist?
What if... other religions and beliefs are actually right?
What if... when I die, there is nothing?

Those questions you never acknowledge that you ask, because you want to be strong in your faith, but when you are really at a low point, Satan smacks you with the sin of unbelief. And if I am wrong in what I believe, when it’s all said and done, boy, will I look like a fool. But if believing makes me a fool, I love God, so I don’t mind looking like a fool for him.

But then I think about Jesus, who came here two thousand years ago. He preached to the masses, to the crowds, to everyone. He wasn't popular with the "important" people, he could care less that consorting with that woman at the well was deemed undignified and frankly, could give squat about the Pharisees opinions when he visited the low life tax collectors at their houses. He did it because he loved them... and us. They called him a fool. But he loved us so much, he didn't mind looking like a fool.

Unaware of popularity. Unconcerned with dignity. You made me free. That's proof enough for me.

We as humans are so prideful, if we lower ourselves down enough to look foolish for something or someone, then that means we hold them dear to us... you wouldn't be a fool for just anyone, I'm sure. But when you love someone, you make a fool of yourself sometimes... have you ever been embarrassed for worshipping or praising God in public? Its okay to say yes, because I have... but you know what? Praise Jesus, Hallelujah, pass the cornbread. Sometimes the deepest, most impactful worship you can have is when you just raise your hands, shut your eyes and let God move you however he sees fit.

For a time, I would even close my eyes and sign the worship music--I knew sign, I loved sign and for me, it was a glorious way to worship. Somehow, over the years, I became self-conscious of that and stopped. And that truly is a shame. Who knows... maybe during something I know (like the next time we sing "The Air I Breathe", which might be never, as that's a forgotten classic), I'll just let it go and throw my hands up. We find ourselves sitting next to John and Ashley Wolf many times on the front row of that side-section, so I hope I don't smack Ashley during my over dramatic sign for "...and I-I-I-I-I I'm desperate for You..." If I do, though, then we'll both look like fools. Fools for Jesus. And isn't that how it should be?

I think so.

I would be a fool for You, only if You asked me to. I'm a simpleton who's only thinking of the cause of Love, I will speak Jesus' name. If that makes me crazy, they can call me crazed, I'm happy to be seemingly naive. I do believe You came and made yourself a fool for me.

life connection connections

The Lovely Steph Leann and I do love our Sunday School Life Connection class at Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship), as some of our favorite people are in there.  When the "Young Marrieds" started in 2005, we had only 6 or 7 couples--ourselves, The Hawbakers, The Barnetts, The Watkins, The Shaws, maybe one or two couples I can't think of, a couple named Frank and Amanda Hanson, and another couple who weren't married, but engaged to be so within a few months (I think they subsequently broke up, but that's neither here nor there--they, and the Hansons, didn't return after a few weeks).

None of us had kids, and the majority of the couples in the class now either weren't even married at the time (in fact, Willis & Meredith Watkins were getting married later that spring), weren't members of the church, weren't even residents of the state, or some or all three. 

From January of 2005, our class has exploded in size.  Yes, its been 7 years and alot can happen in 7 years, but we started out being taught by The Robinsons, then Jason & Emmy Turnbow--the class blew up in size a few years later, and ended up splitting because it was just to flippin' big.   The Lovely Steph Leann and I helped lead the charge into the great unknown of starting a new class out of the old class... and here we are.

Now, we are about 25 couples strong--and we are one of those lucky, blessed classes that at least 17 or 18 of those couples are really active.  And we have enough kids in this group now to supply an entire Chinese gymnastics squad.  And they are young enough too.

There is a three teacher rotation in our class at the time, which works pretty well... Big RyRy (Ryan Sherman), Tebershaw (Tebe Shaw) and winner of 2 BET Soul Choice Awards for his latest Moody Gazette Best Selling book "I Can't Even Walk (without you holding my hand)", JustFish, aka Justin Fisher.  So far?  Its worked out great... kinda like a Matthew-Mark-Luke thing, where you have three different personalities, three different styles and three different perspectives all on the same subject, this being the promotion and furthering of the Kingdom of Christ and its Scriptures. 

Why just spill this info, seemingly random?  Because I do a newsletter every week for our class called, funnily enough, The ShawFiSherman Times--and its become fairly popular at this point, full of important infomation, dates, events, birthdays and anniversaries, plus usually some thoughts on whatever at the end. 

And, because I'll probably start posting some of those, I didn't want to have to explain all of this stuff everytime I mention our Life Connection class and its workings... so there's the scoop.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

take a day

As part of my association, and training, with Distinctive Journeys in becoming a Disney Vacation Planner (!), I have also been asked to contribute to a Disney Blog, made up of guys and gals who... well, who love Disney and want to talk about it.  This is the first article I submitted...

The Lovely Steph Leann and I have been to The Most Magical Place on Earth many, many times, and have even made it out to The Happiest Place on Earth once last year.  Our vacations usually last any number of days, but more often than not, we spend at least five nights there.  Our longest has been a nine night, ten day excursion in which we were able to do so, so much, including tours and shows and other fun things. 

Between the two of us, we have a wealth of Disney knowledge, and even more things that we think we know... but one thing is completely and totally assured--you will be exhausted.  We've often joked that "we need a vacation from our vacation" because when we return home, we unload, collapse into bed and go to work the next morning, though the nature of my job allows me sometimes to take the next day off to recover.  She, however, remains wiped out for days to follow.

Every trip we've taken thus far has been without kids of our own, and we are prepared to take our new family member, our son Campbell, on his first visit this November, when he'll be 11 months old.  We swore we'd wait a little while longer, at least until age 3 or 4, so he could remember it, but we are we kidding?  We probably would have delivered him at the Magic Kingdom were it an option. Perhaps in line at Splash Mountain--after delivery, we could do the parental ride-swap.

Anyway, as I help other people on their own vacations, I offer one piece of advise about traveling to the parks:  Take a day. 

Its so tempting for all of us to hit the World, get unloaded, toss on your pin lanyard and grab your tickets at head to the bus stop, or get the car pulled around and try to get there in time to get fast passes for Soarin', or to hop on Peter Pan before the wait time is an hour, or maybe to grab a safari ride before all the animals conk out in the mid-afternoon heat... and The Lovely Steph Leann and I are no different. 

Like most, we have our days planned out weeks in advance, taking into consideration magic hours, dinner reservations, possible delays and constructions, and even when we want to meet Mickey and the Fab Five or the Pooh Gang or "If we do the Cinderella breakfast, we are likely to get Snow White, Cindy, Aurora, Belle and probably Jasmine, so maybe we can get Poppins and Alice at the Supercali, and try to see Rapunzel in between Small World before we get to Tomorrowland and..." 

But we've learned in our planning to find one day somewhere in the middle of trip, perhaps the halfway point, or a day before or after, as our "rest day".  When I say "rest", its not necessarily a "catch up on sleep, never leave the room" day... to the contrary, its a "sleep in past our 6am wakeup time, maybe to 730 or 8, get showers at our own pace, go to a late breakfast, walk slowly everywhere, and do NOT, I repeat do NOT, go to the parks" day. 

This is our day to take it easy.  By this time, we have already hit all the parks at least once, probably stayed til midnight at Epcot or past it at the Magic Kingdom, or gotten into Animal Kingdom or Hollywood right before 8am, we've had several early morning breakfasts and late night dinners and we've done lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of walking.   And we walked alot too.

We found that day in the middle to be vitally important to our survival, a day when we can do brunch at Kouzzina (at Boardwalk, you have to sacrifice half a park day to do this anyway), maybe go down to Downtown Disney to scope out some things we want for our visit later that week, and, in the instance of our last vacation, we were able to nap in the afternoon before taking in La Nouba--instead of dashing off of Toy Story Mania, racing across Hollywood, catching the ferry or the bus, or running to our cars, getting to the hotel a few minutes later than we wanted, dashing around like crazy people looking for the outfits we were going to wear, "did you get your ticket?" "I thought you had it!" "Do we need our reservation number?!" "My camera is full, I need to delete pictures!" "I bought you a memory card"  "I forgot it in the room!" "I still can't find my ticket!" kind of afternoon (let's be honest--we've all had one of those afternoons, right?  Right.)

Take that day.  And with your kids, its even more important... let them spend as much time at the pool as they want, or maybe head to DisneyQuest, or just resort-hop and spend some time in other kids areas they haven't seen.  Plan for an evening show like La Nouba or Hoop de do Revue or a resort dinner at the California or O'Hana, so you'll have plenty of time to get ready. 

And the next day, after you've had a day of rest, your feet, your body, your mind and your family will thank you.