The NFL on REO: Five Predictions For the Upcoming Season

Here at REO, we are in a constant state of evaluation and evolution. We do this because we want to create the best content possible for you, our readers. A few months ago, we launched The NFL on REO as a more comprehensive and complete look at the game of professional football. So far, it has been a successful decision on our part. But, we are not content to just let things remain the same and grow stagnant. We want The NFL on REO to be as informative, entertaining, and thought-provoking as possible, so we have decided to change things up a bit. Instead of this being just one man’s perspective, we felt it would be a benefit to our readers to include more voices and more perspectives. So, from this point on, The NFL on REO will include contributions from many of the REO writers. We hope you enjoy the tweaked format.

For this week, Mike Lytle has gazed into the future and made five predictions for the 2017-2018 season.


Mike on the Mic

After my NBA predictions last season went so well I decided to look into my crystal ball and make some NFL predictions for the upcoming season. The NFL is much more unpredictable than the NBA so my crystal ball is a bit cloudy. Even so here are a few things I think could very well happen this season. They are in order of how likely I think they will happen, with one being the least likely and number five being the most likely.

1. The New England Patriots will finish 15-1 this season. Not 16-0, not 14-2. They will lose exactly 1 game in the regular season. Love them or hate them, the Patriots are always in the mix. They typically win 13 or so games each year regardless of who they add or subtract, who gets injured, or even what controversy they have created for themselves that particular year. Last season in games that Brady started they were 14-1 (including playoffs). They should have a healthy Rob Gronkowski this year and they’ve added quality players on both sides of the ball. They won’t go 16-0 like they did in 2007. That is virtually impossible, but they will be very good and only have one slip up until the Titans take them out in the playoffs!

2. A wide receiver will break the 2,000 yard mark this season. This has never happened before in the history of the league. Calvin Johnson came the closest in 2012 when he totaled 1,964 yards. Teams pass more than ever before and the rules allow for a more wide open game. This record will fall at some point and this will be the year. Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr. are just three of the guys who are capable of breaking this record if things break right for them this year. Last season was actually a down year with no receiver even topping 1,500 yards. I expect to see those numbers trend up this year.

3. The Panthers and Cardinals will both bounce back. In 2015 these were the top two teams in the NFC going 15-1 and 13-3 respectively. They met in the NFC championship game with the Panthers winning and going on to lose in the Super Bowl. Last season they both regressed and finished under .500. I expect both to have winning records and fight for a playoff spot this season.

4. Bill Belichick will be less than forthcoming at a press conference. He may be angry about something that did not go exactly right in practice. Perhaps he will not like a question or the tone of a reporter after a 37-10 victory. He may even be having the best day of his life. Whatever the circumstances I am predicting that he will mumble and answer all questions in the shortest and least informative way possible.

5. Media and fans will overact to wins and losses each week for the first two months of the season. The NFL season is short. They only play 16 games and injuries are more likely than in other sports so it is difficult to predict anything or really be sure how good (or bad) your team might be. This leads to huge overreactions each week, especially early in the season. Your team loses a close game on a last second field goal and they are the worst team ever. They win a close game because the other team misses a field goal and they are suddenly great. My advice would be to give it time before rushing to judgment, but I don’t expect that to happen.

Let me know what you think if these and if any loyal reader has a bold prediction they would like to make feel free to do so in the comments.





Our Five Favorite Dinner Scenes of Film

Some of the best conversations occur during a meal. Sitting at a table and breaking bread together is almost mystical in its power to produce vibrant and enjoyable discussion. It’s no different in the world of entertainment. Movies are full of examples of great scenes set around a meal or a table. Some are funny, some are sad. Some are tense while others are full of joy. Some are heartwarming yet others can be heartbreaking. We have chosen to spotlight five scenes that capture so much about what makes a great dinner scene work.


Back To The Future 2

Back to the Future 2

The scene where Jennifer gets taken to her future 2015 home and the McFly family sits down over pizza is not as elaborate or as funny as other dinner scenes but it has stood out in my family since this movie was released in 1989.

And in a trilogy rife with mind-bending time travel, exhilarating plots, and inimitable character performances, it boggles my mind why this short scene is so entertaining.

Is it because Michael J. Fox plays all of the McFlies? That does make me smile so surely that’s part of it. Is it how fun it is to see the domestic aspects of an imaginative futuristic world with double ties and pizza hydrators? Without a doubt. Is it because it’s so utterly quotable? Seeing as how often my brother Jeremy says, “Fruit! Fruit please!” and I can’t help but reply with “Why don’t I just shove it all in my mouth ?!? HA HA!” when I have food in my hand the size of that tiny, yet-to-be hydrated pizza, I’d say definitely.

BttF sets the standard for fun, summer action-adventure, summer popcorn cinema and in the midst of all the movie’s twists and turns this simple meal that lasts 90 seconds and barely impacts the plot stands out. I love it. (Gowdy Cannon)


The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer

The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer

I have always loved a good “dinner” scene almost entirely because they are so conducive to great dialogue. The nightclub scene in The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer is a prime example of that. Maybe one of the best. I have watched BatBS every few months for the past few years and appreciate it more every time. It is an easy to underrate lighthearted comedy that is chock full of great writing, wonderful scenes, and extremely witty quotes. At the center of it all is Richard Nugent (Cary Grant), and the sisters judge Margaret (Myrna Loy) and Susan (a teenage Shirley Temple) Turner. Susan has developed a huge crush on Nugent. In exchange for the dismissal of a wrongdoing, judge Margaret orders Nugent to “date” her younger sister until her crush wears off. During the course of this “courting,” Nugent and Margaret fall in love. On the flimsy pretext of wanting to discuss their legal arrangement, Nugent and Margaret attend a nightclub for dinner, drinks, and dancing. And then everything comes crashing down as most of the personal dynamics encountered throughout the film converge in this single scene and collide in a beautiful explosion of dialogue. (Ben Plunkett)


Heat

Heat, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino

Two of the most famous, decorated, and iconic actors of all time, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, had never been in a scene together on film. They had been in the same film, The Godfather Part 2, but they played characters during different time periods. These two actors had spent decades wowing audiences with their craft, but had yet to speak to each other on camera. That all ended with Michael Mann’s tour de force crime drama, Heat.

Pacino plays a detective. De Niro plays a master thief. After a lot of cat and mouse moves, the film finally places them together in a diner somewhere in Los Angeles. They are two masters of their craft, both in the film and in real life. They feel each other out. They give information and they hold some things back. When Pacino leans in to deliver a line, De Niro counters it with a slight shift here or a slight move there. They present their philosophies of life with dialogue that is crisp, tense, playful, and precise. They end their conversation with very specific promises that they are willing to kill the other if it comes down to that. Now that they have met, they won’t want to do that, but they will, because that’s the job. That’s the way it is.

In a movie filled with memorable performances, genius set pieces, and impressive directing, this scene stands above them all. And to make matters even more astounding, the final scene in the film is almost entirely one take filmed with two cameras over their shoulders. They barely rehearsed because they wanted to preserve the spontaneity and energy of the scene. The diner scene in Heat is a masterpiece. (Phill Lytle)


Meet the Parents

Meet the Parents

Ben Stiller honestly has had more misses than hits in his career to me. And Robert De Niro, he of a legendary filmography with too many hits to try to list, had never had a role that I’d seen that was fall on the floor funny. And even though the two sequels were forgettable, everything came together perfectly for an excellent 95 minutes of comedy in Meet the Parents.

And for all the scenes that make this move totally rewatchable–Greg losing it on the airplane, the volleyball game in the pool (“It was a big shot!”)–the first time Greg has dinner with Pam’s parents is one that causes tears of laughter every time.

Jack’s poem about his mother is simultaneously disturbing and hilarious. Jack’s continued subtle and psychological intimidation of the nervous and awkward Greg causes Greg to pop a cork in an urn of Jack’s mother’s ashes. Then Greg tries to work his way around a lie about growing up on a farm by talking about milking a cat, which prompts one of the greatest follow up questions of all time by Jack. And to round it off, Jewish Greg tries to impress Jack by saying grace at the meal and recites “Day by Day” from Godspell.

And it all works. I have fallen on the floor laughing during this scene more than once. It is truly one of the funniest dinner scenes in movie lore. (Gowdy Cannon)


Babette’s Feast

Babette's Feast

As mentioned, I love “dinner” scenes in movies because they are so conducive to great dialogue. The long dinner scene in Babette’s Feast is certainly no different. However, there is a lot more than just the dialogue going for it. A whole lot more. In short, two sisters are leading an extremely humble life leading a small, elderly flock of pious Lutherans in a tiny Danish village. Yes, they are very pious, very devoted to their faith, but they know nothing of grace or joy. Into this scene steps Babette, a world-class French chef fleeing much hardship amid the French Revolution. She enters the employ of the two sisters. After several years she wins a lottery of 10,000 francs from her homeland. Instead of spending it on herself, she opts to spend the entire thing to make a top French gourmet meal for the sisters and their congregation. In the end Babette’s presents the true face of grace and joy to the graceless, joyless villagers. But the scene is a masterpiece for more than one reason. In my opinion, it is the king of this specific genre. And the dinner scene is only the centerpiece of a masterfully adorned cinematic table. The whole movie is dense with layers of theological and philosophical meaning. It is perfect and an absolute joy to watch every single time. (Ben Plunkett)




Five TV Moments That Made Me Ugly Cry

I’m a man.

And while I believe men and women are created equally yet distinctly by God, I sometimes hate gender stereotypes. For example, I cry over fictional moments. I have for decades. From the time I first saw Gargamel in his pursuit of the Smurfs until I finished my first ever reading of To Kill A Mockingbird a few weeks ago, I have cried dozens of times over TV, movies, and books. Maybe hundreds.

So I was glad Phill Lytle got REO on the board on this topic a few weeks ago by confessing the same. Now I feel that as a website we are ready to delve into this further. I’ll go next by writing about five TV episodes that brought on the ugly tears. Youtube clips of the moments are embedded in blue highlights.

[This is obvious, but we will note it anyway: Major spoilers are ahead. But they will not be given away in the headings so if you have not seen the TV show mentioned and plan to in the future, skip to the next one.]

 

1. Family Ties “Say Uncle” (1984)

The 80s was truly a golden run of TV for me. Family Ties was a show I watched weekly with my family. It had an incredible cast headlined by Michael J Fox and Michael Gross. It had warm familial and political humor and to this day I am humored that Alex P. Keaton was an unabashed Republican. And it had one exceptional recurring guest star–Tom Hanks as Uncle Ned.

This was before he was an uber megastar, but he was still lovable as the carefree uncle who contrasted with the responsible Keatons. But this came at a price: He was an alcoholic. And in an unforgettable episode they try to get him to get help, but he doesn’t and in the climax he strikes Alex, causing a stunning transformation from jovial sitcom to a sober reality. Ned is brought to tears. Steven tells him to get help or get out of his house. And Elyse, his sister, makes one final plea for him to call AA. He does, making a joke after he picks up the phone before saying, “My name is Ned Donnelly, and I have a drinking problem.”

I was about 7 years old when I saw this and I cried like a baby. I got this episode through Netflix DVD several years ago and it has not aged well, but at the time it was about as good as TV got.

 

2. Scrubs “My Lunch” (2006) 

Bill Lawrence and his Scrubs production team were masters at concluding episodes with dramatic story arcs while a perfect song musically and lyrically played behind the action and JD’s inner monologue gave us closure. The crowning jewel is a Season 3 episode where in the beginning Dr. Cox invites JD to lunch for the first time ever and in a touching mentor-to-protege moment, tells him that he can’t blame himself for deaths that aren’t his fault.

Then back at the hospital, Dr. Cox makes the call to use a deceased woman’s organs for three patients who desperately need them. It turns out she had rabies. As a result, all three of them die. As the last one is coding and they try to revive him, “How to Save a Life” by The Fray plays and Dr. Cox loses it after the patient flatlines. He goes to leave and JD gives Dr. Cox his own advice about death and blame. Dr. Cox says, “You know what, Newbie, you’re right” and then leaves as the episode ends.

Incredible acting by John C. McGinley + incredible plot twist + the perfect song = Five minutes of Gowdy bawling

 

3. House, M.D. “Fetal Position” (2007) 

The drama in House was so tense, confrontational and cerebral that there were not many cry moments in the series to me. Most episodes I was too busy thinking about why I believe what I believe about God and disturbed by the conflict House created as an atheist (or too depressed by the illness) to shed any tears. This Season 4 episode is no different in general; it has moral dilemmas, boisterous arguing and enough stress to melt your face.

But there was one moment that is so different from the typical House fare that it stands out like the little girl in the red petticoat in Schindler’s List. A 42-year-old pregnant photographer falls ill and House believes the “fetus” (as he adamantly calls it) is the cause and has no problem wanting to abort it. But as old as the mother is she demands a different answer. After several scenes of all the other dynamics I mentioned, exploratory surgery on the “fetus” is agreed upon by Cuddy and House. And during the operation, a tiny little hand grabs House’s. The baby and mother are both saved but what got to me was that House stopped calling the yet unborn human life a “fetus” and started calling it a “baby.”

REO makes no qualms about our position on the unborn and I personally hate that it is a political issue that parties fight about. But I was stunned to tears that anyone in Hollywood would communicate something I as a Bible-believing Christian feel deeply about. In a tornado moment where morality and truth met emotion, the episode showed us why life in the womb is so sacred.

 

4. Lost “The Candidate” (2010) 

Lost could have its own list for me and most of the staff of REO, but I was determined to have a list of variety. Yet Lost affected me emotionally like no other show ever. And of all the moments that caused me to ugly cry today I’ll limit myself to mentioning the scene where Jin refuses to leave Sun and they drown in the submarine together.

Sun and Jin’s marriage was so great precisely because it survived so much. Both of them had issues, but Jin was betrayed far worse. And he sacrificed deeply to stay with her, only to lose her for a long time because of the island. And then promised he’d never leave her again. So for him to not abandon her in the face of death was huge. When he said “I won’t leave you. I will never leave you” in Korean followed by “I love you, Sun” in English…I’m a basket case of emotion just thinking about it. He kept his promise. I bet I cried for 15 minutes the last time I watched it. I bet I would cry just about any time I watched it, even just the two-minute clip on Youtube. It is that powerful. The music that plays behind this moment is called “Life and Death” and it is impeccably written and aptly named. What a show.

 

5. The Office “Goodbye, Michael” (2011) 

Michael Scott is truly one of the great sitcom characters of all time and if pressed I’d probably put him right behind George Costanza on a Top Ten list. And as I’ve written before, he was so outrageous he could be Funny Michael (By the end of 4th grade the lunch lady was whom he hung out with most), Awkward Michael (kissing Oscar), Redeeming Michael (buying Pam’s painting) and even at times all three at the same time (mic dropping and walking out of Ryan’s class).

But there was only one occasion of tear-jerking Michael, to me at least. For his last episode, he took off his microphone at the airport and gave us one last “That’s what she said” and walked away. There was the part with Pam right after, but this moment was pure, quintessential Michael and I could not help but cry as I knew a legend was departing and it was over. No more Michael Scott. The episodes after this proved to me that he was irreplaceable and he will never be replicated. And his goodbye was pure emotional torture.

 

I could have given and looked for more of this from our staff, but we hope to do more of this sort of thing in the future. Feel free to share your TV cry moments below if you’d like. No judgment from us!




Five 20th Century Sports Moments That Would’ve Blown Up Twitter

Imagine @FeuxBoPelini in 1992…

I love Twitter. During big events in the U.S. I’ve discovered (and tweeted) that the worse the event, be it a presidential debate or basketball game, the funnier Twitter is. I’m on Facebook to get people to pay attention to me. I’m on Twitter to pay attention to other people.

So I also love it when a sports moment causes Twitter to explode. Like the LeBron block in the 2016 Finals. Or the last out of the Cubs World Series win. Or when Peyton Manning put Kevin Durant on blast at the ESPYs the other night[1. I don’t know if I’m using this correctly, but I think it is a hilarious idiom that I try to work into every conversation with my wife these days. God bless her.].

And I’ve been thinking about moments before 2008 that would have caused the biggest Twitter meltdowns. Jordan’s “I’m Back” in 1995 would be a huge one. Franco Harris’ Immaculate Reception vs. Oakland has been replayed a billion times. Kirk Gibson’s 88 World Series Game 1 home run certainly. And the list could go on and on.

And it would be endless. So instead of trying to narrow down this list, I want to write about a similar but distinct list. I want to write about moments that were not THE story, but were a footnote in reality yet still would have trended on Twitter. For fans like me, they are unforgettable. And just imagining the tweets that would have come from them brings joy to my mind.  Here are five:

 

The Major Story: Dallas destroys Buffalo in Super Bowl XXVII 52-17, winning their first since the 70s and handing Buffalo their 3rd straight Super Bowl loss.

The Twitter Moment: Don Beebe chases Leon Lett down from behind to prevent a meaningless TD at the end.

This may be the loudest non-TD play in history for a game decided by 35 points. If you watched the game you remember it. Beebe instantaneously became a legend of team pride and hustle. He had no reason to keep running. The game was over. Lett became an instantaneous butt of jokes. He celebrated a few yards too early. The only thing it meant historically was that Dallas didn’t set the record for most points in a Super Bowl. Yet as far as fan reaction, it meant a ton. Beebe’s and Lett’s names would have been at the top of the trending list and I can see the “Hold My Beer” tweets in my head.

 

The Major Story: Larry Bird steals Game 5 of the 1987 Eastern Conference Finals from Detroit and the Celtics go on to win in 7 to set up Celtics vs. Lakers III.

The Twitter Moment: Dennis Rodman and Isiah Thomas say that Larry Bird would be just another player if he weren’t white.

Racial (and racist) comments are aplenty on social media and with U.S. History being as it is, that will always be the case. So I have little doubt that when Rodman made this comment that Thomas echoed that it would have caused a race war on Twitter the same way politics and athletes like Colin Kaepernick do today. The NBA in the 70s and 80s was a breeding ground for racial strife and I remember when this happened. It blew up. Thomas had to answer for it repeatedly to the national media, including to Bird’s face at an impromptu press conference. Imagine how Twitter would have reacted.

To be honest, while it was not the wisest comment to make I do believe Thomas was joking in some sense and it was completely overblown. You have to hand it to Bird, too. He told the media that he didn’t think anything of the comment and that they shouldn’t either.

 

The Major Story: Hakeem Olajuwon averages 32-11-5, dominates Shaq and Houston sweeps Orlando in the 1995 NBA Finals

The Twitter Moment: With under 10 seconds left in Game One and the score tied, Nick Anderson of the Magic misses 4 consecutive FTs.

Sports can make you a hero and a goat, often within the same time frame. Just a couple of weeks prior, Nick Anderson had a moment of glory, stealing the ball from Michael Jordan in a play that became an image of that series, the only one that Jordan lost as a Bull after 1990[2. Though it was the year he came back near the end.]. But then Anderson had a chance to give Orlando the lead late in the first Finals game and missed two free throws, got his own miss, got fouled again and missed the the next two. My brain tells me not to feel bad for professional athletes but my heart does. I can easily envision a slew of hilarious Michael Scott gifs in response.

 

 

The Big Story: In 1998, rookie Kerry Wood for the Cubs strikes out 20 Houston Astros, an MLB record, and holds them to 1 hit in a dominant pitching performance

The Twitter Moment: The hit could have been ruled an error, giving Wood 20 K’s AND a no-hitter in the same game, a feat that has never been accomplished.

You can watch it below and make your own judgment and you can hear the announcers say it looked like an error. I agree. I was not a Cub fan yet, still 4 years away from moving to Chicago. And at the time I felt the same. I can only imagine the hours and hours of Twitter debate this would have sparked.

 

 

The Big Story: In the 1993 Sugar Bowl, underdog #2 Alabama romps defending champion #1 Miami 34-13.

The Twitter moment: With Bama fully in control, the Tide’s George Teague walks down Miami’s Lamar Thomas and strips the ball.

This is not like the Lett play to me. It is in some ways: the game was a blowout and a player got caught from behind. But it was the inverse of the play above and more than that, it was a statement. Alabama was given very little chance in this game. Miami was a 4-time champ and cocky. And Bama’s defense destroyed them and their Heisman QB Gino Torretta. Here it finally looked like Miami would break the invincible Bama D and score a TD. And then Teague emasculated Thomas. The next we saw of Miami’s trash-talking receiver, he was on the bench with a towel on his head. The play didn’t even count but it absolutely encapsulates what happened that night. It would have brought a feast of tweets in reaction.

 

So, that’s my list. What are some that I missed that you would have included?

 




The Five Hours of World Conquest




Five Truths Band of Brothers Taught Me

The 2001 HBO miniseries, Band of Brothers, is easily one of my favorite things in the world. It is not just one of my favorite TV shows. Not one of my favorite pieces of entertainment. One of my favorite things. Period. I have now watched it from beginning to end at least six times. It is a pretty big commitment, spanning 10 parts, each around one hour in length but I’ll gladly do it every couple of years. I love the story. I love watching these “characters” as they train, serve, and fight to defend the world from tyranny and evil. I call them characters, but the men we watch on screen are all based on real-life soldiers and the filmmakers did a fantastic job keeping the story as real and accurate as they could, within the constraints of television.

I could write dozens of articles about the series, and believe me, I have been tempted to do just that. For this go around, though, I will limit myself to just one. Next week, I will be publishing an article about watching movies with wisdom, and I feel like working my way through Band of Brothers with an eye for teachable moments goes hand in hand with that. There is so much applicability found in the series, not just for soldiers or war time, but for every day life. So here they are – the five teachable moments in Band of Brothers.


 

Times of testing have the potential to forge lasting bonds

Dick Winters and Lewis Nixon in Band of BrothersWhen you go through something powerful and life-changing, such as war or combat, it is transformational. An even deeper level of transformation can occur if you go through that event with other people. A bond is formed. A fellowship. A brotherhood. The men of Easy Company that survived the war, walked away forever marked by their years of service. They also walked away as part of something bigger than themselves. They were forged into a unit by training and trials, and it etched lasting connections to their fellow soldiers. These were the bravest of the brave. Men who endured hell on earth fighting for freedom. Men who pushed through hunger, thirst, cold, pain, and fear. Yet even these men, when witnessing the death of a fellow brother, were left broken and unable to carry on, their bond was so strong. They were able to take anything the war had to throw at them, yet some of them crumbled underneath the weight of losing a friend. These men formed relationships that lasted the rest of their lives. Dick Winters (ostensibly the lead character in the series) even spoke at Lewis Nixon’s funeral over 40 years after the war. That was the strength of their friendship.

Intense periods of life have a way of creating lasting, life-long friendships and relationships, as long as we don’t keep people at arm’s length. While these moments might be painful and difficult, the bonds formed have it in them to carry us through to our next season of life and beyond. Nurture these bonds and be thankful for them. These bonds can be a blessing for the rest of your life, even though their creation might have been in the midst of great heartache and struggle.

 

You can still thrive even if you have an awful leader

Captain Herbert SobelFor those that have seen the series, you know who Captain Herbert Sobel is. Played with a perfect mixture of arrogance and insecurity by David Schwimmer, Captain Sobel was the officer in charge of getting Easy Company ready for the war. He was a petty tyrant. An aggressively mean and vindictive man. He was hated by nearly every soldier under his command. So much so, many of the non-commissioned officers staged a mutiny of sorts simply because they refused to go into battle with him as their leader.

Most people can relate to having a supervisor, manager, or boss that is like that. Mean. Angry. Impatient. Petty. The men of Easy Company could have used this as an excuse to not become one of the best companies in the war. They could have raged and whined about how Sobel treated them, and become worse soldiers for it. Instead, they worked harder and harder to overcome his capricious punishments. They strove to become the most disciplined and well-trained unit possible, in spite of a leader that treated everything as a personal slight. So, even if your boss is a jerk, use that as a springboard to better yourself. Out work your supervisor’s lack of leadership.

 

Everyone is capable of unimaginable evil and transcendent good

Private Mularkey and German solider on HBO Band of BrothersThere is an scene in the second part, Day of Days, where an American soldier, Private Mularkey, encounters a captured German soldier, only to find out that they grew up in almost the same area. Mularkey is stunned. How could this “American” be fighting for the enemy? What would possess someone to leave their country to go fight for the Nazis? He comes to find out that this particular soldier was simply following the wishes of his family who had been called back to the motherland.

Throughout the series, we witness endless moments of bravery and self sacrifice. Frankly, it is overwhelming to witness the things these men had to do and the things they had to go through to ensure the freedom of not only our country, but of the world. These were great men. Yet with all that said, history has told their story and they fought for the winning side. They fought for the righteous side, while the Germans fought for the losing side. The evil side. Many of those German soldiers were simply following orders. They were simply fighting for their country, just like the American men that fought for theirs. This is in no way an attempt to equate the two sides, and the series doesn’t fall into any of those post-modern, deconstructionist traps that hamstring so many recent war films. There is clearly good and evil involved in the war. But the point stands. How easy is it for humanity to gradually fall into greater and greater evil, out of duty or patriotism or obligation? We all have the potential to strive for the light or to descend into darkness.

Courage is not the opposite of fear

Private Blithe in Band of BrothersPerhaps the most difficult episode to watch is Carentan, the third installment. Much of the episode follows Private Blithe as he struggles with overcoming his almost paralyzing fear. Watching a soldier shake and scream when bullets are flying over his head proved to be much harder for me to watch than seeing the men actually shot and injured. It gets so bad that he experiences hysterical blindness late in the episode. Eventually, through the guidance and example of one officer in particular, he is able to overcome his fear and bravely fight next to his unit.

Courage is not the opposite of fear. I realize this point has been made before by others, but this and other portions of the series drove it home so firmly that I knew I had to include it. These men were afraid. Some of them were terrified. And they still did their jobs. They did what was right. They put their lives on the line time and time again. That is a lesson I need often.

 

It is okay to have heroes

Major Richard Winters in Band of BrothersI challenge anyone to find a more heroic television or movie character than Major Richard Winters. As portrayed by Damien Lewis, Winters is quiet, soft spoken, brave, decisive, and most importantly, completely above reproach. His quiet faith is presented with no derision, instead it is seen as a source of strength. He goes above and beyond the call of duty throughout the series. He is respected by all the men in his company. He is honored by those of higher rank. In all this, he remains humble and unassuming.

Every time I watch Band of Brothers, I know how it will end. I know exactly how the final lines will hit me like a punch to the gut. I know I will cry. Finishing the series a few nights ago, I braced myself for the final line. I knew it was coming and a had convinced myself it wasn’t going to get me this time. Major Winters is recalling his time in the war and a correspondence he received from a fellow soldier. When describing his accomplishments and achievements in battle, he once again takes the focus off himself and turns it towards his fellow soldier. In a letter he received he read the following words, and felt they summed up the entire experience for him perfectly, “I cherish the memories of a question my grandson asked me the other day when he said, ‘Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?’ Grandpa said ‘No…but I served in a company of heroes’.”

We live in a time that celebrates scandal. An era that champions arrogance and celebrity. It is becoming more difficult to find heroes in our modern world. That does not mean we should stop looking. It is okay to have heroes, as long as they are pushing you to be better and do more. It is okay to have heroes if they nudge you towards humility and self sacrifice. It is okay to have heroes as long as their lives point to a fuller, deeper understanding of true heroism, which isn’t flashy and showy, but unassuming, sacrificial, and meek.

 


So there you have it. That’s what I learned this time around. What are some lessons you have learned watching this amazing, groundbreaking series? We would love to read about them in the comment section below.
 
 




My Irrational Love For the Karate Kid Franchise

Daniel: Hey, what kind of belt do you have? 

Miyagi: Canvas. JC Penney, $3.98. You like? 

Daniel: [laughs] No, I meant… 

Miyagi: In Okinawa, belt mean no need rope to hold up pants. Daniel-san… [taps his headKarate here. [taps his heartKarate here. [points to his beltKarate never here. Understand?

 

 

Nearly everyone loves the sports underdog. Nearly everyone loves it when a bully gets his comeuppance. Nearly everyone loves a sage mentor teaching a protege about life and skill.

So it’s no wonder that the 1984 movie The Karate Kid was so well received in the U.S. that it spawned three sequels and a remake that all together earned well over $400 million at the American box office.

But even with that success, I still sometimes feel like I love theses movies a tad too much. Well, most of them. They were a cultural phenomena in the 80s and to many I am sure have not aged well. But to me, I adore them more now than back then. And in honor of the 33rd anniversary of the release of the original this week, I wanted to give my thoughts on each of the five movies in the franchise.

 

The Karate Kid (1984) 

Karate Kid PosterAmerican moviegoers in the 80s had a ton of martial arts exposure thanks to still legendary names like Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris. By that time we already had a pantheon of movies about a sports underdog overcoming great odds to win. Yet we had not seen the two put together quite like this.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about this movie is that Daniel comes across as a whiner for much of the movie and his love interest isn’t interesting at all to me, yet the aforementioned tropes are so good they overcome the lesser aspects.

Most notably, Pat Morita gave the world a gift with his performance as Mr. Miyagi. He is utterly quotable: “Lie become truth only if person want to believe it.” His broken English is insanely endearing. The scene where we learn that this humble, easy-to-overlook maintenance man can kick major hindquarters in karate makes me ridiculously giddy.

But the star moment of the movie to me is the way he teaches Daniel-San karate. He makes him wax his cars and stain his fence and other menial, backbreaking chores. And of course Daniel eventually gets upset by it and threatens to break their pact and quit. So in one of the truly special moments to me in movie history, Mr. Miyagi shows him that everything he is doing is subconsciously teaching him karate. He is teaching Daniel his way with Far Eastern methodology and without the dojo mentality. Mr. Miyagi in this scene does an epic mic drop before that was even a thing. “Wax on, Wax off” was a huge part of the 80s American movie vernacular.

Make no mistake, this movie hinges on how good Mr. Miyagi is. Beyond the karate, we feel for him deeply when we learn about the death of his wife. And his excellence in bringing this unique character to life overwhelms the weaknesses of the other two main characters to me.

Kreese, Johnny and the Cobra Kai are excellent villains and perfectly easy to hate. The climactic fight in the tournament is superbly dramatic and the music compliments it well. There is so much to love in this movie that how poorly it has aged has not affected my fan hood in the least.

 

The Karate Kid II 

Is it possible that I love this sequel more than the original? This is something that rarely happens, especially if you take out Top 1% movies like Empire Strikes Back and Godfather 2. Yes, yes it is possible.

Maybe it is the fact it takes place in Okinawa. And the stakes become more real. This installment definitely captures the magic of Rocky in that it finds a new, fresh way to keep our champion in the underdog role. Mr. Miyagi’s telling Daniel near the end, “This not tournament, this for real” pretty much captures how they were able to take a great idea and two years later make it even better. Beating Johnny the Cobra Kai in a city tournament was classic. Facing Chozen in a theoretical fight to the death is just terrifying. And intense, even if it is a tad over the top. I pretty much stop breathing during this scene every time I watch.

But the movie scores big to me as well because it develops Mr. Miyagi even more, teaching us more about his past and his failures and his reason for leaving. These scenes are not cheesy at all.

But at its heart, the story is the Miyagi/Daniel relationship. Even as Daniel is getting throttled by Chozen, Miyagi is shouting out instructions that help Daniel. And even though I’ll never understand how Daniel merely swinging his arms back and forth turned the tide in the fight, no one can deny the music, the choreography and the cinematography of this scene come together for a chill bump-inducing masterpiece.

And for it to end with Peter Cetera singing The Glory of Love…well that is just the cherry on the captivating movie conclusion sundae.

 

The Karate Kid Part III 

Karate Kid III Whereas the second one masterfully kept us interested in Daniel-San as the underdog, this one absolutely fails in every way. This movie is an abomination. It’s horrible in every way it can be. It is tired, boring and unnecessary and the fact the first two made $200 million in the US between them and that this one tanked at $38 million is proof.

When I showed my wife this franchise early this year I refused to show her this one. I will tackle her if she ever tries (since we own all of them). The fact that this movie exists and it doesn’t cause me to feel any less passionately about the whole series is a testimony to how good the others are. I saw this movie a couple of times in the 80s and tried to give it one more chance about ten years ago. Nope. I am surprised I have not just thrown it in the garbage yet.

 

The Next Karate Kid 

The Next Karate KidAs far as quality we find this reprisal of sorts in the franchise between the magic of the first two and the dumpster fire of the third one, released in 1994. It was obvious that Daniel was done as a character so to add some spice they make Mr. Miyagi’s new project a female. And not just any female: Hiilary Swank several years before she shocked the world with two Best Actress Oscar wins.

So the fact that you have such an acting talent alongside the iconic Mr. Miyagi means this movie has some redeeming value. The story itself is retread and does not capture the imagination of the beginning of the franchise. But at least it brings the novelty of a girl, Julie-San, being the one who needs to overcome demons and bullying. Not a necessary movie but I don’t mind watching it if someone wants to see all of the “Karate Kid” movies.

And we get to see Mr. Miyagi light somebody up one more time before retiring the character forever so that alone almost makes it worth watching.

 

The Karate Kid (2010)

The Karate KidFirst, let me be clear that there is no doubt this movie belongs to this franchise. The title, as well as the obvious and subtle references to the plot of the original manifest its strong connection to the 1984 version.

And I had little faith they could redo the original in a modern way and not destroy it. They did the opposite. It exceeds the original in my mind and competes with KK2 for the best of the franchise.

First, Mr. Han is an incredible updated version of Mr. Miyagi. I had never seen Jackie Chan like this. He absolutely knocks this role out of the park.

This can be seen best in the re-imagining of the “menial task is teaching kung fu” scene. As memorable as this moment is in the first one, I think this movie improves upon it. Dre doesn’t hang up his jacket like his mother wants him to. So Mr. Han uses that as the basis for developing his muscles and reactive instincts, by having him take off and hang up his jacket for hours at a time. Which is a small but powerful difference from “wax on, wax off”. And the mic drop speech given by Mr. Han at the end of this scene is even more potent: “Kung Fu lives in everything we do. It lives in how we put on the jacket, how we take off the jacket. It lives in how we treat people. Everything is Kung Fu.” Please note that as a Christian I don’t believe this in real life but I cannot deny it makes amazing cinema. I stood up and clapped in the theater at this moment.

Jayden Smith is pretty good in his role but just as with the originals, it rises and falls on the mentor. I could not love Mr. Han any more and I refuse to try to pick who is better out of him and Miyagi.

 

So as summer heats up and Hollywood makes the news with regularity, we at REO take time to remember the summer blockbusters of yesteryear. For me, almost nothing tops The Karate Kid, or three variations at least. I love them, indeed, far beyond logic.




Five Ways to Become the Church Janitor’s Worst Nightmare

I have worked part-time as a church janitor for the better part of 17 years. It might surprise you to hear this, but I actually enjoy it. It allows me to move around, do something very practical and tangible, and see immediate results from my work. That said, there have always been aspects of the job that get under my skin. Instead of ranting and raving about them internally, I figured I would put together a handy little list of the Five things you should avoid if you would rather not have an angry church janitor stalking your sanctuary each week. Trust me – you don’t want to get on our bad side. We control the toilet paper supply. (Special shout out to my boys for helping me put the videos together for this article.)

 

Paper Towel Disposal: The Right and Wrong Technique

It’s pretty simple: if you handle paper towel correctly after you wash your hands in the bathroom, you will save the janitor much heartache. Below, you will find two videos that demonstrate the two approaches for disposing your used paper towel. The first video is the common, albeit completely improper way to do it. As you will see, the trash can fills up quickly and soon becomes an eyesore and a nuisance.

 

In the second video, you will witness the proper way to handle the paper towel. If you take the time to wad up that paper as much as possible before throwing it away, you will save space, save the janitor time, and maybe even save the world.

 

The Tools of the Trade: Using the church’s stuff in ways you would never dream of using them at home

The typical church janitor uses a few tools every time they clean. A broom. A dust mop. A mop. A vacuum cleaner. Things like that. Sometimes, these tools are borrowed or used by other church members. Sometimes this does not end well. The following are true stories. The quotes are fabricated…mostly…but the scenarios are 100% accurate to reality.

“Oh, you aren’t supposed to vacuum mulch? My bad!”

“Oh, I’m not supposed to use the dust mop to clean up the soda I spilled? They really shouldn’t use the word ‘mop’ in the name then.”

“Oh, the mop shouldn’t be used on the gravel outside of the church? I’m going to have to plead ignorance on this one!”

“Oh, the broom isn’t a communal broom to be taken home whenever we feel like it? I wish someone would tell me these things!”

 

Crimes of a Wet Nature: The Improper Disposal of Liquid

Are you familiar with what I like to call “trash juice?” No? Allow me to elaborate. (You might not want to read this while eating.) Trash juice is the wonderful and aromatic liquid that forms at the bottom of a large trash can when the disposed liquid and refuse become one flesh and together discover an escape through a small crack or seam in the bottom of the trash liner. Trash juice is odious and fetid. It is a misery to clean. The primary culprit in the creation of trash juice is the seemingly innocent act of throwing away a cup or container full/half full/quarter full of liquid. Here is a delightful stop motion video to explain what I mean. (The video works best with the volume on.)

 

In the demonstration above you witness the improper technique. There is a simple solution to this problem but it is rarely, if ever, utilized – POUR OUT YOUR LIQUID IN A SINK PRIOR TO DISPOSING OF YOUR CUP/CONTAINER IN THE TRASH CAN.

 

No Trash Liner = No Trash Accepted: Access Denied

Most churches have multiple trash cans. Almost every room will have one. So do us all a favor when you have trash to dispose of and you see the one trash can that does not have a trash liner (because the church janitor is currently in the process of taking said trash out and has not yet replaced the liner) – please don’t use that trash can. You might not think it is a big deal, but it is. It’s a huge deal. Your time-saving action will force the janitor to have to retrieve that bit of garbage out by hand. And that is super gross.

And so help me, if I see you throwing away a cup full of soda into a can with no liner, I will be tempted to imitate Weird Al Yankovic in the not-surprisingly overlooked 80s action comedy, UHF. Avert your eyes if you are squeamish and easily upset.

 

The only differences are,  I am a janitor and not a librarian and will be using my broom instead of a sword. And since my broom is not sharp, it will take me much longer to achieve the desired result.

 

Glitter: The Devil’s Dust

Glitter is evil. 100%, absolutely, unequivocally evil. I am convinced it was invented by someone whose only purpose in life was to bring pain and suffering to all janitors, housekeepers, and cleaners across the globe. Do not be fooled by its sparkle! Once you use glitter it never goes away. EVER. It will cling to every surface, every article of clothing, ever inch of exposed skin. It will not sweep away. It will not mop away. It will not scrub away. There is no greater metaphor of the destructive and pernicious effects of sin in our lives than glitter. It was birthed in the bowels of hell itself and seeks nothing less than the total annihilation of all that is good, noble, and pure. And we use it in church more than anywhere else in the world! FOR SHAME!!!

When the precious church children make a craft that uses glitter, the following gifs will walk you through my mental, psychological,  and emotional response:

 

My first response is absolute resignation. I am helpless to the horrors that await me.

It is then that I summon an unbridled bellow of frustration and desperation in it’s purest form.

Then, I throw a little hissy fit. Or a big one. Judge not lest ye be judged people.

Then, I Hulk out in the least intimidating or impressive manner possible.

Finally, I channel all of that rage, all of that anger, all of that hate and I do this. I would say literally, but you all know how I feel about that word being misused. But seriously though, it’s really close to literal. Super close.

Moral of the story: Don’t ever use glitter. Ever.

Ever, ever, ever.

Never ever.

EVER.

EVER.

 

That’s it. Avoid those things or do those things correctly and all will be well. Well, mostly. I still need to deal with people cutting their nails in church, church members bringing Chinese takeout into the sanctuary, worshipers taking…

 




The Definitive Guide to Awkward Silences

So you’re out and about, gallivanting around town with someone, anyone. It may be a good friend, a mere acquaintance, a close family member, a distant relative, whatever. Anyway, there is the dreaded lull in the conversation and you’re thinking, “Oh great, this is awkward. Now they’re going to hate me forever because I haven’t done my part to fill every millisecond of silence with some sort of jovial conversation. And they obviously already do hate me because they are awkwardly silent as well. What’ll I do! What’ll I do! Say something! SAY SOMETHING!” Hang on, my friend, things may not be as grim as you imagine. There may be a good reason for their silence. Here are five kinds of awkward silences and their logical reason.

1. The Awkward Silence of Feasting – Talking between bites is fine and dandy, but I prefer to spend most of my time while eating concentrating on my food. I know I’m not alone in considering feasting a very, very serious business indeed. However, there are those who have the gift of concentrating on eating while holding a continuous conversation without showing everyone the matter wallowing around in their face. Unfortunately there are also those people who do both of these things, but don’t possess this gift. These poor souls just can’t talk (but insist on doing so on a constant basis) without displaying the food in their mouths to the world. If you are such an individual, you are very well advised to primarily restrict yourself to consumption concentration.

2. The Awkward Silence of Contemplation – Sometimes what you construe as an awkward silence might just be the other person thinking. There are those who have been known to do strange things like this from time to time. There are dozens of us! Dozens!!!! There is so much to think about: Thoughts and thoughts in thoughts and thinkers’s of thoughts and thinkers’ of thoughts in thoughts in thoughts. It never ends. I’m putting private prayer in this category.

3. The Awkward Silence of Concentration – This is related to contemplation but is more specific. While in contemplation you are considering a thought or group of thoughts in your head; with concentration you are honing in on something in the real world like a book, a movie, Bigfoot in the backyard, etc., etc., etc. Maybe your awkward silence right now is a result of reading this article. If so, bless your heart all to pieces, my friend.

4. The Awkward Silence of Friendship – It is often the case that when people are best friends or close family for a long time, the awkward silences turn into comfortable silences. At least that is often the case. Maybe you are one of those souls where no amount of familiarity can instigate the awkward silence of friendship. If this is the case, I feel for you, but know that this is a community of welcoming and acceptance. We embrace all levels of awkwardnicity. Other than that, I don’t know what to say. This is awkward.

5. The Awkward Silence of Awkwardness – Okay, there’s no way to get around this one. Sometimes an egg is just an egg. There’s no confetti or chocolate inside. Sometimes the awkwardness is mutual. In other words, you are right to be as full of despair and anguish as you originally thought. Kidding. It’s never the end of the world. Or is it?

There you have it. There is usually a mixtures of two or more of these visages of awkward silences. For instance, for me it might be the awkward silence of feasting and concentration if I’m eating lunch while watching Bigfoot play with the cats in our backyard.




Five Classic Curmudgeons of TV and Film

Movie and Television history is profuse with amazing and unforgettable crusty old men. Mean, cranky, ancient, eccentric – got to love those aged dudes and their disdain of all these hippies (everyone under 50) and newfangled contraptions. In our adoration of these wise, gray-haired, ne’er-do-wells, we have decided to highlight five iconic crusty old curmudgeons from either film or TV lore. Note: This is not necessarily a “best-of” list. These are simply the five cantankerous old coots that we have chosen to write about. – Ben Plunkett

 

Arthur Spooner – The King of Queens
by Gowdy Cannon

Frank Costanza could go from 0 to outrageously psychotic in two seconds. Arthur Spooner could get there, just a bit more slowly. And sometimes that was actually funnier. Arthur was Carrie’s dad, but it was his interactions with son-in-law Doug that showed how uninhibited Jerry Stiller was as a comedic actor and that caused me to cry tears from laughter. From the simple way he called him “Douglas” to their insane, petty, over-the-top, roll-on-the-floor-laughing showdowns in the kitchen, Arthur Spooner was just different enough from Frank, yet just enough the same. My favorite moments:

–Arthur tries some of Doug’s kids breakfast cereal and gets the prize 3D glasses. Doug is clearly upset because the cereal is his but he tries to be an adult about it. But he can’t because Arthur won’t stop acting juvenile. So Doug acts childish in return and the back and forth ends with Arthur ripping up the glasses and Doug destroying the still-full box of his own cereal as Carrie walks in.

–Arthur asks Doug how many stamps he needs for tickets he is mailing. Arthur doesn’t like Doug’s answer so Doug insults Arthur’s mooching off his family. It ends with Arthur destroying Doug’s sandwich and Doug destroying Arthur’s mail.

–Arthur asks Doug to pass the “catsup”. Doug won’t until he says “ketchup”. Arthur refuses so Doug pours an insane amount of ketchup on Arthur’s burger, demanding that Arthur call it “ketchup” as both yell back and forth until Arthur cedes. “And that’s how we learn”.

(And my personal favorite)

–Doug is answering a political survey over the phone when Arthur comes in and tries to make a phone call on the same line. He realizes what Doug is doing, insults his answers and this begins an exchange of severe putdowns between the two (including “Why don’t you tell him you’re enormous?” and “Why don’t you tell him you live in our basement?”) that ends with Doug asking “Why don’t you tell him your total salary last year was $12?” To which Arthur replies: “That was after taxes!” I don’t know why that Arthur line is so funny. Maybe the look on his face. Or the volume of the conversation. Or how inane the comment is. But I hurt from laughing at it and I’ve seen it several times.

As far as cranky old curmudgeons, Arthur Sponer takes a backseat to no one.

 

Carl Fredricksen – Up
by Phill Lytle


Merriam Webster defines crotchety as: subject to whims, crankiness, or ill temper. Thesaurus.com gives us these synonyms for crotchety: Cantankerous, crusty, grouchy, grumpy, and ornery. When we first meet the older Carl Fredricksen, he is all these things and more. He has grown sour after the passing of his beloved Ellie. He is prone to outbursts of anger, is mean-spirited to Russell, a young “Wilderness Explorer.”, and doesn’t seem to enjoy much about his life anymore. In other words, every second he is on screen is a joy for the audience. His complaints are hilarious. His lack of patience with Russell, and anyone else for that matter, never ceases to amuse. Buried deep down in Carl is a noble, honest, and good man. It takes some time for the audience to find it, but the journey is no less enjoyable during the search.

Favorite moments and lines:

Already exasperated with Russell’s constant talking and enthusiasm, Carl says, “Hey, let’s play a game. It’s called “See Who Can Be Quiet the Longest”. The line is perfectly delivered by Ed Asner, one of the great curmugeonly actors of all time. But the response by Russell takes the joke to another level, one that makes us laugh, but also reveals a great deal about our main characters, “Cool! My mom loves that game!”

Once they have nearly reached their destination by air, they are forced to continue the rest of the way on foot. Carl, wanting things quiet delivers this little nugget of gold to Russell, “Now, we’re gonna walk to the falls quickly and quietly with no rap music or flashdancing.” I’ve always loved that the two things Carl mentions are rap music and flashdancing, as if those were obviously things Russell would be involved in.

Finally, early in the film, when the builders are trying to get Carl to leave his home, he spots one of the businessmen in the distance. The man is wearing a suit, looking distinguished and professional. Carl yells at him, “You in the suit! Yes, you! Take a bath, hippie!” I think that one speaks for itself.

 

 

Merlin – The Sword in the Stone
by Ben Plunkett and Phill Lytle

He is, perhaps, the progenitor of all curmudgeons. Merlin is both cranky yet full of vigor. Quick tempered yet a great teacher. Ornery yet kind and caring. The first time we meet this magical old hermit is right after young Arthur literally drops in on him and Merlin is literally waiting. Along with Merlin’s even more curmudgeonly pet talking owl, Archimedes, Arthur is prepared for his rightful place of king. Every kid I knew wanted to have a mentor like Merlin, someone who could transform us into a fish or a squirrel. Someone who could teach us about the world. Someone to take note of us and invest in our lives. Someone who would fly off the handle and disappear to Bermuda when he got angry…

Favorite moments and lines:

Merlin tries to explain the way of the world to young Arthur, telling him that everyone faces adversity, “Oh, bah! Everybody’s got problems. The world is full of problems.” Merlin gets his beard caught in the door and yells, “Oh, blast it all! There, now! You see what I mean?”

When Merlin transforms Arthur and himself into squirrels, an older, lady squirrel becomes quite enamored with Merlin. Growing every more frustrated, yelling “Madame!” at key points of discomfort, Merlin finally decides enough is enough, “By George! I’ve had enough of this nonsense! ALAKAZAM!” He transforms himself back into a human being, leaving the female squirrel confused and upset. “There! Now you see? I’m an ugly, horrible, grouchy old man!” Even Merlin recognizes that he belongs on this list.

While he could be a very grouchy curmudgeon, Merlin also had times of great wisdom, like when he taught Arthur the lesson of love during his very squirrely adventure: “Ah, you know, lad, that love business is a powerful thing,” said Merlin.
“Greater than gravity?” asked Arthur.
“Well, yes, boy. In its way, I’d, uh… Yes, I’d say it’s the greatest force on earth.”

 

 

Frank Costanza – Seinfeld
by Ben Plunkett


Ah, Frank Costanza. Prone to psychotic outbursts. Hilariously and boisterously confrontational. No wonder his son George is a mess (with the very capable assistance of the almost equally psychotic Estelle, of course). The senior Mr. Costanza was portrayed to perfection by Jerry Stiller, whose acting, I imagine, was key to making Frank one of the most iconic crusty old curmudgeon’s of all time. But like all of Seinfeld, there was seriously great, hilarious, and memorable writing going down. A handful (but not nearly all) of Frank’s most memorable quotes and moments:

– “Serenity Now!”

– In my mind the episode “The Strike” is the perfect Seinfeld episode in just about every way. It is in this episode that much to George’s chagrin, Frank’s creation, the alternative holiday Festivus, is revealed to the world.

– “This is Frank Costanza. You think you can keep us out of Florida? We’re moving in lock, stock and barrel. We’re gonna be in the pool. We’re gonna be in the clubhouse. We’re gonna be all over that shuffleboard court. And I dare you to keep us out!”

– Festivus wasn’t the only case of Frank thinking outside the box. In the episode “The Doorman” in another insane fit of invention Frank collaborates with Cosmo Kramer to invent the Bro/Mansierre to assist older fellas in holding up their increasingly sagging chests.

– “He stopped short. You think I don’t know what that’s about? That’s my old move! I used it on Estelle forty years ago! I told everybody about it! Everybody knows! (demonstrates the move) Mmm! I stopped short.”

 

Lt. Mark Rumsfield – The ‘Burbs
by Phill Lytle


I’ve long considered The ‘Burbs to be one of the Tom Hanks’ greatest films. I realize I am in the minority, but I am not alone. I’ve met many people that believe the film is wildly underrated. What makes the film work so well is not just the fantastic performance by Hanks, but the wonderful and eccentric supporting cast. No one steals more lines and earns more laughs than Bruce Dern as Lt. Mark Rumsfield. Rumsfield is a retired military man, yet still living in constant vigilance and readiness for war. He is opinionated, suspicious of everyone, and ready to jump to the worst conclusion possible at the drop of a hat.

Favorite moments and lines:

Unfortunately, most of his dialogue is salty, after years in the military, and I will not reprint it on REO. (The film is rated PG-13, so the saltiness is not as extreme as it could have been.) Just watch the movie and enjoy his well directed vitriol and sarcasm. But, for the sake of this article, here are a couple I can mention:

Rumsfield takes great pride in his yard. Unfortunately, he has a neighbor (Walter Seznick) down the block whose yard far surpasses his own. His reasoning why his yard can’t compete with Walter’s, “That old fart. He’s got the best lawn on the block. And you know why? Because he trains his dog to crap in my yard.” A bit coarse and rough around the edges, but straight to the point.

When a group of our main characters head over, uninvited, to the new neighbor’s house, Rumsfield does his best to make everyone uncomfortable with questions, poking around, and examining as much of the house as he can. His interaction with the new family, the Klopeks, is delightful in its boldness and rudeness. One particular exchange has always cracked me up. Introducing himself to the youngest of the Klopek family, “Rumsfield’s the name. Don’t think I caught yours, sonny?” Hans, responds nervously, “H-H-Hans.” Rumsfield responds in the most natural manner possible, “Hans! Oh-ho! A fine Christian name. Hans Christian Andersen! What are you, Catholic?”

That should give you a good idea what to expect from Lt. Mark Rumsfield and an indication why he made our list.