The True Yet Sad Story of the Great 4th of July Search For McDonald’s Ice Cream

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Over the years, whenever my wife and I want ice cream from McDonald’s, something will inevitably be wrong with the soft serve machine.  Today, the 4th of July (a day when I really wanted ice cream) proved to be no exception:

McDonald’s #1 

Me:  (Walks up to Counter) Happy 4th of July!

McDonald’s Worker #1 – What?

Me:  Happy 4th of July!

McDonald’s Worker #1 – Ok.  Can I take your order?

Me:  Yes, two ice cream cones please.

McDonald’s Worker #1 – The ice cream machine is being cleaned.

Me:  Will it be a long time?

McDonald’s Worker #1 – Yes, a very long time.

McDonald’s #2

Me:  (Pulls up to drive through speaker with hopeful wife) 

McDonald’s Worker #2  (Over intercom) Can I take your order?

Me:  Yes, two ice cream cones please.

McDonald’s Worker #2 – “Our ice cream machine ain’t working right now.”

Wife:  You’ve got to be kidding.  Let’s just give up.

Me:  Never.  This is a mission.

McDonald’s #3

Me:  (Pulls up to drive through speaker) How many is this?

Wife:  Three. 

McDonald’s Worker #3 (Over intercom) Take your order?

Me:  Yes, two ice cream cones please.

McDonald’s Worker #3 – “The soft serve machine is broken.”

Me:  Really?  This is the third McDonald’s we’ve been to in the last fifteen minutes.  Are they all on schedule to be broken today on the 4th of July?

McDonald’s Worker #3 – I don’t know.  That machine breaks down all the time.

McDonald’s #4

Me:  (Pulls up to drive through speaker) How…

Wife:  (Interrupts) Four. 

McDonald’s Worker #4 – Can I take your order?

Me:  Yes, two ice cream cones please.

(Extremely Long Pause) 

McDonald’s Worker #4 – Is that all?

Me:  Yes.  (withheld jubilation)

McDonald’s Worker #4 – “$2.16.  Pull around.”

Me:  Success.

Wife:  (Rolls her eyes)

(Hallelujah Chorus plays loudly in car)

“Man of Steel” Review

We learn in the movie trailer of Man of Steel that the “S” on Superman’s chest is really a symbol meaning “Hope” on the planet Krypton.  That came to mind as Amy Adams spoke at Spike’s Guy’s Choice Awards as Man of Steel won the award for most anticipated movie of the year.  She said, “I hope that the movie lives up to all of the anticipation.” I hoped the same thing as I bought my ticket for the movie yesterday.

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You know the story – As a boy, Clark Kent learns that he has extraordinary powers, was born on another plantet, and was adopted by his earth parents.  As a young man, he travels the world to learn more about his origins and his purpose in life.  He learns to harness his powers and becomes a symbol of “Hope” for everyone on earth.

Man of Steel does a few things really well:

  1. The story is familiar but different enough to keep your attention.
  2. The action scenes were done very well.
  3. Henry Cavill was an excellent choice for the role of Superman.

Here’s where the film is really lacking (in my opinion):

There’s way too much action and not enough story.

Come on!  It’s Superman for crying out loud.  Where was the fun?  Where was the romance (besides the lame kiss and cliché)?  Where was the humor?  For that matter, where was the dialogue?

As Tom Long of the Detroit News states, “Man of Steel packs quite a wallop. A few too many wallops, as it turns out.”

Related Posts:

5 Short Summer Movie Reviews

Oz, The Great and Powerful

Review of Warm Bodies: a paranormal, romantic, zombie, comedy, narrative film

5 Short Memorial Day Movie Reviews

5 Short Memorial Day Movie Reviews

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Heading to the movies this Memorial Day weekend?  Here’s a short movie review to help guide your movie selection process.

Oblivion

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PG-13 – Starring Tom Cruise and Olga Kurylenko.  It is one man’s futuristic journey of redemption and discovery as he attempts to resurrect humanity.  The overall story contains a good believable mystery perfect for Sci-Fi fans.  Only the foreshadowing was overly obvious.  Grade – B+

Mud

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PG-13 – Starring Matthew McConaghey and Reese Witherspoon.  Adventure story about two Arkansas boys who find a man named Mud hiding out on a river island in the Mississippi.  This movie is an interesting story with a unique backdrop and engaging characters.  However, one of the boys curses periodically.  Grade – A-

Star Trek:  Into Darkness  

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PG-13 – Starring Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto – Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise lead a manhunt to capture an evil murderous genius.  Trekkies will enjoy this film filled with inside jokes, an inspired villain, special effects, and the alternative Star Trek history line.  However, some of the inside jokes may seem corny to non-trekkies.  Grade – A

Iron Man 3

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PG-13 – Starring Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow – Tony Stark/Iron Man finds his life destroyed by an evil madman.  Ben Kingsley does an awesome job as the televised villain in the movie.  Iron Man 3 is a good story which wraps up the trilogy nicely while leaving it open for further sequels.  However, someone really needs to have seen Iron Man 1 and 2 and the Avengers to fully appreciate this movie.  Grade – A-

Gatsby

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PG-13 – Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire.  This film is a modern movie adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby.  Would-be writer Nick Carraway moves next door to millionaire Jay Gatsby and slowly unravels the mysteries surrounding his cousin Daisy and his unusual neighbor.  Although beautifully costumed and surrounded by interesting music, the storyline wasn’t believable in the way that it was presented. Grade – C

Related Posts

Review of Oz, the Great and Powerful

Review of Warm Bodies

Review of Les Miserables

The Skinny on the Hunger Games

Free Vacation For Ministers (Thanks to the Generous Gifts of Others)

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Ruedi and Sandy Mettler have a calling from God.  They minister to those who minister.  Originally from Switzerland, Ruedi spent a very successful career working with Swiss Airlines before retiring with Sandy to the mountains in northern Georgia.  It was around the same time that God placed within them the vision for Shepherd’s Refuge Ministries.

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Shepherd’s Refuge is located 13 miles north of historic Dahlonega, Georgia.  The current facilities include an upper room type bedroom suite with a luxurious bathroom and a nearby yet secluded beautifully furnished one-bedroom cabin with full bath and kitchen.  Shepherd’s Refuge provides these services to ministers free of charge because of the generous gifts others have given and continue to give to the ministry.

My wife and I just returned from one of the most relaxing vacations we’ve ever experienced.  We are extremely grateful to Shepherd’s Refuge Ministries and to Ruedi and Sandy.  If you are in vocational Christian ministry and are in desperate need of uninterrupted respite, or if you are interested in supporting the ministry, check out www.shepherdsrefuge.org today.

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Life of Pi – What Is It Really About?

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

The world isn’t just the way it is. It is how we understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no?  Doesn’t that make life a story?

Yann Martel, Life of Pi

Synopsis

Life of Pi, by Yann Martel, is the story of Piscene Patel, or Pi, the son of a zookeeper from Pondicherry, India.  Pi is the lone survivor of a shipwreck in the Pacific Ocean.  Pi initially shares his lifeboat with an orangutan, a hyena, a zebra, and a Bengal tiger.  Before long, only Pi and the tiger, name Richard Parker, are left alive.  Over their 227-day ordeal, Pi gains dominance over Richard Parker and maintains it until the lifeboat finally makes landfall on the west coast of Mexico.  life-of-pi

In the book, Pi shares his story with two representatives of the Japanese government who are searching for the cause of the sinking ship.  When they disbelieve his outlandish story, Pi offers them a second, boring yet believable story that parallels the first.  He tells them that they can choose the elaborate, yet irrational story through faith, or they may select the rational, extremely believable version.  In the end, they choose the irrational story, which brings you back to Pi’s name, an irrational number.

Pi and Religion

Pi’s irrational understanding of faith is seen as he decides to follow Hinduism, Christianity and Islam simultaneously.  He uses elements of the three religions to help him through the issues that plague him during his ordeal at sea.  Throughout his experience, he credits Hinduism for introducing him to the supernatural, Christianity for acquainting him with the love of God, and Islam for familiarizing him with the daily discipline of intentional prayer.

What It’s Really About (in my opinion)

Even though Life of Pi contains elements from Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam, it’s my opinion that the book is not about religion.  It’s a book about how our lives are filled with stories.  Everyone, everywhere, is a storyteller, relaying the experiences of life in story form.  The book suggests that people use stories to process reality, helping us categorize and compartmentalize the chaotic events of our lives.  As Pi would seem to suggest, the approach we choose dictates our understanding of the world around us.  1353491113024.cached

I enjoyed the book Life of Pi and the movie interpretation.  It’s a good commentary on the stories of our lives.  However, it may confuse people about these three major religions.  No matter what Martel suggests, Pi was virtually a Hindu, adopting elements of the other religions into his Hinduism.  The book also tends to drag on in parts, tempting the reader to skim or quit reading.  The movie was very well done, staying true to the book for the most part.  However, it portrays Pi as much more of a rebellious and physically adventurous child than the book.

If you’ve read the book or seen the movie, I would be curious as to your comments.

Other Reviews by John J Frady:

Review of Oz, the Great and Powerful

Review of Warm Bodies, A Paranormal Romantic Zombie Comedy Narrative Film

Review of Les Miserables

The Skinny on the Hunger Games

Review of Oz: The Great and Powerful

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One of my favorite parts of going to the movies, besides the popcorn, are the previews.  I enjoy sitting with my wife, guessing if she wants to see the movie being advertised.  Most of the time it’s a big negative.  However, such was the not the case when we first saw the preview for the movie Oz: the Great and Powerful. 

The official trailer for the movie:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1NGnVLDPog

A brief synopsis of the film:

Oscar Diggs, known to many as Oz, is a carnival magician with flirtatious ways and questionable ethics.  In Dorothy like fashion, Oz, played by James Franco, is taken from drab black-and-white Kansas by a tornado to the colorful enchanting land of Oz.  There, Diggs encounters the three witches Theodora, Evanora and Glenda and is mistaken by many to be the prophesied Wizard of Oz.  Over time, he begins to care about the inhabitants of Oz. This unlikely wizard puts his magical arts, slight of hand, and predictable illusions to work in order to transform himself into the great man that he always wished he could become.

My opinion of the film:

I thought that Oz: the Great and Powerful was ok.  The story line had just enough twists to keep it interesting and the acting was quite good throughout.  At first, I thought that casting James Franco was a mistake.  I wondered if Johnny Depp might have been a better choice for the lead, but I suppose he was busy playing Tonto for the upcoming Long Ranger movie.  As the movie progressed, James did an excellent job of presenting the flawed persona that was in fact needed for the role.

I was impressed with the switch from black and white to color during the film.  It may have been extremely predictable, but I welcomed it completely (probably because I was ready for the screen to show a full wide screen shot instead of the old full screen shot during the black and white scenes.

I was hoping that Oz would become an instant classic.  I don’t believe that is going to happen.  However, it is extremely enjoyable and well worth the cost of the ticket.

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Related Posts:

Review of Warm Bodies: A Paranormal Romantic Zombie Comedy Narrative Film

Review of Les Miserables

The Skinny on the Hunger Games

3 Reasons Soft Drinks Hinder A Good Workout

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Anyone who knows me knows that I am a soft drink junkie, especially when it comes to Coca-Cola.  However, 3 weeks ago, I began using the App, C25Kfree (Couch To 5K free) and I began jogging for the first time in my life.

(I would really recommend the App for anyone with an iPhone who is wanting to get into shape and lose weight.  I can feel the benefits after only 3 weeks.)

After the first couple of runs, I came face to face with the cold hard reality that it was time for me to stop drinking soft drinks.  The main reason is that they were severely hindering my workouts.  Here are the 3 main reasons I found when I did just a little bit of study on the subject:

3 Reasons Soft Drinks Hinder A Good Workout

  1. Proper hydration is critical – Your body needs adequate amounts of water in order to carry nutrients to your muscles and to then remove waste produced during physical activity.  Carbonated drinks do not hydrate your body sufficiently and therefore hinder the maximum impact of your exercise.
  2. Bloating – Carbonated beverages cause bloating.  This is often seen around your waistline, when gas builds up in your stomach.  During exercise, this can result in slight stomach pain.
  3. Shortness of breath – Many carbonated soft drinks contain caffeine, which is a central nervous system stimulant.  It speeds up your heart rate and your breathing.  This is what makes you feel short of breath as you exercise and your rate of inhaling and exhaling increases.

If you’ve experienced similar results, please share your comments with me.  It will really encourage me as I continue towards my running goal.

Related post:

Why I chose to try the couch to 5k free workout app

Week Two of Couch to 5k

Week Two of Couch To 5K

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As a career Marine, my dad used to run between 4 and 9 miles each day, in order to keep fit.  I once asked him why he chose to run.  He answered that since he was required as a Marine to remain fit, he could either not eat or run daily.  “I’m sort of fond of eating,” he answered, “So I guess I’ll keep running.”

I’m also rather fond of eating, but I’m not that fond of running.  Even so, I’m in my second week of using the App Couch to 5 K.  My current workout begins with a brisk five-minute warm-up walk, then moves into 20 minutes of alternating 90 seconds of running with two minutes of walking.  This is a change in the amount of my running time from 60 seconds each time to 90 seconds each time.  That doesn’t sound like a lot, but I have to admit that it’s kicking my lower posterior.  I find myself looking at my phone to check the countdown when I’m running and it also shows that I have about 30 seconds left.  I guess I’m doing better.  I did the same thing last week when I only had to run for 60 seconds at a time and it said 30 seconds then as well.

Today, I did my workout run on the sidewalk of the Metairie Mardi Gras parade route after everyone else had gone home.  The street was clean but the sidewalk was littered with broken beads, drink cups, soda and wine bottles, and beer cans.  I think that I should get extra credit since I basically ran through an obstacle course.  What do you think?

Warm Bodies: a Paranormal Romantic Zombie Comedy Narrative Film

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Relationships can be so difficult…especially when you’re a zombie.

In an attempt to please the wife of my youth, I went to see Warm Bodies, a paranormal romantic zombie comedy narrative film based on Isaac Marion’s 2011 novel.  With a name like Warm Bodies, I was afraid that it would be filled with sexually explicit scenes requiring me to leave before the movie was complete.  However, after seeing that every other movie showing was rated R,   I reluctantly agreed.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the movie:

R is an oddly introspective zombie who spends his days wandering around the Toronto Airport.  His best friend is M, although he’s never called him by name.  R and M only communicate with grunts and moans and occasional words.  R, like all of his fellow zombies, feeds on human flesh.  He especially enjoys eating brains, because it allows him to experience the memories of the one that he is eating.

Julie lives in a walled off area of Toronto with the rest of the city’s human population.  She and her friends are sent out by her father in order to recover medical supplies from an abandoned hospital.  Suddenly, R and a group of zombies attack Julie’s team.  R sees Julie and instantly falls in love with her but is then shot by Perry, Julie’s boyfriend.  In return, R kills Perry and eats his brain, which gives him Perry’s memories, increasing R’s love for Julie.  R then rescues Julie and brings her to his home, an abandoned airplane.  The two become friends and R slowly begins to come back to life.  The effect is contagious and soon other zombies begin to show signs of humanity.  R and Julie’s relationship becomes more romantic as he becomes more human and the two find themselves caught between the paranoid human forces and the bonie zombies, virtually skeletal demons, who are out to destroy the zombie human restoration brought about by R and Julie’s relationship.  With M’s help, R and Julie must find a way for the “regular” zombies and the humans to first join forces against the bonies and to then create a new zombie/human friendly society.

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How often has a zombie been the hero in a love story? R’s quirky sense of humor throughout the odd circumstances is part of what gives this movie its charm.  His inner dialogue shows throughout that he really is human at heart. Even as a romantic comedy, Warm Bodies does contain violent scenes, mostly involving zombies’ dining habits, so viewers should be prepared.  There is also the one unmentionable profane word that seems to be in most PG-13 movies nowadays. Fortunately, there’s enough humor to take the bad taste out of your mouth.

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Warm Bodies actually could have a parallel in Christian circles.  The humans living inside the walled city could represent Christians separating themselves from the world thereby prohibiting the zombies, or lost people, from the only connection that’s going to allow them to really live.  I suppose the bonies could represent Satan, doing whatever is possible in order to keep this eternal restoration from taking place.  If you look at it from that point of view, Warm Bodies could be a great conversation starter when sharing Christ with a friend. Then again, it could just be your typical paranormal romantic zombie comedy narrative film.  Anyway, I liked it.

Other reviews by John J. Frady

Les Miserables – https://johnjfrady.com/2013/01/07/187/

The Skinny on the Hunger Games – https://johnjfrady.com/2012/10/04/the-skinny-on-the-hunger-games/

 

Review of Les Miserables Movie

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I recently had the opportunity to watch the recent movie adaptation of the musical version of Victor Hugo’s classic novel Les Miserables.  I thoroughly enjoyed this rendition of what has been called the longest running musical in history, even though there were a few disappointments.

But first, here’s a short synopsis:

Les Miserables tells a story of broken dreams, unfulfilled love, lifelong resentment, ongoing sacrifice, unrivaled patriotism, and finally redemption set with the interesting backdrop of 19th-century France.  In the story, Jean Valjean, former convict (arrested for stealing a loaf of bread) and parole violator, is hunted for decades by the unrelenting Inspector Javert.  During the time of his parole violation, Valjean takes on a new identity and becomes a successful businessman and politician.  Later, Valjean agrees to care for the terminated factory worker turned prostitute Fantine’s young daughter, Cosette.  Meanwhile, another man has been mistakenly identified as Valjean.  The real Jean Valjean appears in court and reveals the truth about his identity, giving up both his life and position in society.  Even after his confession, Valjean escapes from custody and retrieves Cosette from the evil Thenardiers.  Eight years are spent in hiding for Valjean and Cosette.  Then, Valjean is nearly recaptured because of being spotted by the Thenardiers and Cosette falls in love with the young Marius, who is loved desperately by Eponine, the daughter of the Thenardiers.  The story deepens as all of the characters interact in passionate and even violent ways.

Click here to see the official trailer:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkHHHUk8RCw

One brave experiment done in this interpretation of Victor Hugo’s epic tale is that every take was filmed with live singing.  This may be criticized by some, but it actually helps the film seem more real to the viewer.  Eddie Redmayne, who plays Marius, explains:

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“Normally if you were making an old-school movie musical, as a group of actors, we’d go into a studio and we’d record an album and then two months later we’d arrive on set.  They would play the playback and we would mime alongside it.  The problem with that is that you have to make all of your acting choices three months before you’ve even met the actor that you’re working with.  By recording it live, Tom (the director) is allowing us the spontaneity of normal film acting.” 

To see the full clip with interviews with Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Eddie Redmayne, and others, click here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-uw5TehnZA

When the recording was done, the actors used an earpiece which allowed them to hear accompaniment from a live pianist.  This meant that they weren’t confined to the tempo of a studio track, allowing them even more freedom.  Then, later, the piano music was replaced by an orchestral accompaniment following the actor’s voice for the tempo.  To me, the success of this was best seen by Samantha Barks, who portrayed Eponine, singing On My Own and with Anne Hathaway, who protrayed Fantine, singing I Dreamed A Dream.  The (good) acting made all of the difference.

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One of my favorite scenes in the production was the comic relief piece Master of the House made complete by the performances of Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baren Cohen as the Thenardiers.  Even though I’m not a big fan of Sacha Baren Cohen because of his portrayal of Borat demeaning the entire country of Kazakhstan (where I spent a year of my life), I must admit that I was able to forget his true identity during this presentation and I truly enjoyed his performance, especially alongside the talented Helena Bonham Carter.

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The entire movie production of Les Miserables, in my opinion, was very well done.  I enjoyed the improvement of the acting that is not often seen in many musicals as well as the musical interpretations of the songs presented.  Even though Russell Crowe’s vocal performance was somewhat lacking, I was very impressed by the performances of Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks, and to a lesser extent, Amanda Seyfried.  There were a few odd moments during the musical, such as the constant foreshadowing of Javert’s suicide and the unfounded cause of Jean Valjean’s death.  All in all, I wish I would have cared more about the characters, however, I cared enough about them to enjoy this production immensely.