A Good Surprise

Remember the good ol’ days of expendable income and movie tickets that cost less than $5? Remember when midnight movies were only $1? Those were good times. We paid to see a lot of movies in the theater, even movies that we would consider “renters” these days. I remember keeping up with the movie seasons and waiting for opening nights. Somehow, it was easier to keep up with new movies. Was it because there were fewer tv channels? Was it because we couldn’t dvr our shows and fast-forward through all the commercials, including movie trailers? I’m not certain of all the reasons why, but I know that I do not keep up with Hollywood and the latest movie news like I used to. Every now and then, a friend will post a movie trailer or production update for The Hobbit on his/her facebook, but, other than that, I don’t really know what’s going to be COMING SOON to a theater near me.

This is all well-and-good until I find out about a film that I would have wanted to follow from the moment the studio said, “Action!”

A couple of weeks ago, Karl sat me down and said, “I need to show you something.” He used his serious voice, so I thought he was going to show me something bad from the news. I had no idea what to expect.

“It’s not a video of someone hurting himself, is it? Because you know I don’t want to see that.”


“Cat video? I love those.”

“No. Just sit down and watch.”

I sat, a little tense because I didn’t feel prepared. I like to mentally/emotionally/whathaveyou prepare for whatever I’m about to see. It’s strange. I think it’s because I don’t like surprises. Even more strange is the reason I don’t like surprises: I don’t want my reaction to disappoint whomever has planned the surprise. Because if there’s one thing I am terrible at faking, it is emotion.

But I detected a slight smirk on Karl’s face. This particular smirk can mean a few things, but, after 19 years of studying his face, I deduced that it meant he knew about something that I didn’t. Now, you need to understand something: we poke fun at one another over the things we don’t know. “Oh, I’m surprised you didn’t know that,” is one thing we jokingly say to one another when we find something the other one didn’t know (thank you, Tommy Boy). Yes, we are terrible people with twisted senses of humor.

So, prideful person I am, I determined that I would recognize whatever I was about to see and declare, “Oh, I knew about that a long time ago.”


I plopped down next to Karl. He clicked “play” and stared at me. I can’t be certain, but I think he was watching for my reaction. Talk about unnerving! I felt like one of those ridiculous young girls who video themselves watching Twilight movie trailers and post them to youtube so that everyone can see the response to their first viewing of a Twilight movie trailer. Roll my eyes.

So, anyway. It was a movie trailer, and I recognized it immediately. I knew exactly what it was, but I was clueless.  I heard a woman’s voice sing, “I dreamed a dream in time gone by,” and gasped. I had no idea that a Les Misérables movie/musical was in-the-making and I could not hide my surprise and delight, which, I am sure, is why Karl wanted to watch me watch the trailer. I knows me well and, I think, he likes me a lot.

After replaying it two or four times and pointing out everything the new trailer has that the Liam Neeson/Claire Daines movie doesn’t, I’ve decided that this movie is going to be the best thing ever. I’m more excited about it than pretty much anything else.

The movie premieres on Christmas Day which means that I have about two months left to cram in one more reading of the book. My copy has 1463 pages, which means that I must read at least 25 pages per day if I am to finish it before the movie opens. (As if I’ll actually get to see it the day it opens: Christmas Day is a busy day for a mom!)

I’m so excited!

LOTR and Me

I love it when my children share; it warms my heart.  I get a little irritated, however, when they share their viruses, which is what they’ve been doing this weekend.  I’m spending the day checking temperatures and doling out meds and beverages.  To lift our spirits (and keep us still), we are watching “The Trilogy.”  That’s what I call The Lord of the Rings.  There are many trilogies, but, for me, there’s only one.  I like to remember how I was first introduced to it.  It involves eating crow and embarrassing myself in a movie theater.  Perhaps it will amuse you today.

Karl was a fan long before I.  He had read the books many years ere I met him. When The Fellowship of the Ring hit movie theaters Christmas 2001, he was there.  Hannah was 2, Benj was about 1.5 years old, and Noah’s birth was imminent; I didn’t get out much.

Truth?  I was not the least bit interested in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  But for good reason: trilogies were my enemy.  You see, Karl is also a fan of the Star Wars franchise.  Words cannot describe his affection for SW….I’ll say this: beside our wedding portrait stands the huge Imperial shuttle, Tydirium.

In 2001, we had survived the disappointment known as The Phantom Menace and were anticipating the release of Attack of the Clones in 2002.  Revenge of the Sith was merely a promising twinkle in Karl’s eye.  He was in the process of collecting action figures, and it was driving me a little batty.  So you can understand how the thought of endorsing another trilogy sent me into angry fits.

I refused to see LOTR just for spite.

This is how I remember my repentance.  In 2003, after The Two Towers was released on DVD, I saw a little of it as I passed through the family room.  (By this time I had four children; Abbey was just an infant.)  The music alone piqued my interest.  Knowing me like he does, he knew I would enjoy the movies if I just gave them a moment.  He invited me to sit beside him and watch for a few minutes.  I think it was seeing Treebeard that sealed the deal for me.  How could I not fall in love with a walking, talking tree?  After my interest was “full-on,” he stopped Two Towers and happily put Fellowship in the DVD player.

He may have gloated a bit about being right.  He came home from work the next day and caught me watching them again.  “Oh, you don’t like those movies,” he quipped.

My mission became reading the trilogy before The Return of the King premiered in theaters.  With 3 small children and an infant needing my constant attention, my reading time only came during naps and after their bedtime.  If you’ve read the books, then you know that one does not simply rush through Tolkien; he is savored.  I hadn’t enough time to read the final chapter before the date set for movie-going.

I remember that evening like it was yesterday.  As Karl was pulling our swagger wagon into a parking space at the theater, I was reading of Frodo’s entering Shelob’s lair.  Talk about a terrible stopping point!  Sick with anticipation, I did my best to settle in and not annoy everyone in the packed theater due to a bad case of nerves-induced logorrhea.

But then it happened.  Shelob stabbed Frodo and began wrapping him up…well, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  Karl had to whisper, “Be quiet and keep watching.”

The worst came nearer the end.  Sam and Frodo finally made it into Mt. Doom.  I had survived Sam’s carrying Frodo into the Crack of Doom with a few tears.  The lump in my throat made it difficult to breathe, but I recovered in time for my hands to grip Karl’s arm that much harder as I watched Frodo stand to drop the ring into the volcano.  “Do it. Just do it,” I said to myself.  But instead, as you probably know, he turned and put the ring on his finger with the words, “The ring is mine.”  I gasped and gave a loud, “NOOOO!  No, he didn’t!”  I could not believe it; I almost came out of my chair.  I must have been the only one because my exclamation was met with shushing from all around.  My date laughed at me.

I was a weepy mess through the credits.  I finished the book the following week.  And have finished it again and again the last 7 years.  I still dread the last chapter because I’m never ready for the adventure to end.

As I write this, the final credits for The Two Towers are rolling.  We’re taking a short intermission for refilling drinks and temp checks before we begin the final film.

That’s my LOTR story.  What’s yours?

Live Weak (trailer)

(Subscribers may need to click through to view the video)

From the Live Weak blog:

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Live Weak is a documentary about the glory of God as revealed in the life of Christian Schmidt, a young man with numbered days to preach the Gospel.

Christian died battling cancer on November 2, 2010. The film documents the final ten weeks of his life while seeking answers to why an all good, all loving and all powerful God would allow suffering in the lives of those who love Him – something that Christian experienced firsthand.

The film will be released in June of 2011. For updates and more information, visit http://www.liveweakdoc.tumblr.com

To read Christian’s blog, including his sermons, visit http://www.christianschmidt.wordpress.com

“Soli Deo Gloria to the end.” – Christian Andrew Schmidt