Monday, June 27, 2011

Movie Monday: Movies That Rock

Movie Monday
It is well known that I love music, especially hard rock/heavy metal music.  Perhaps someday I’ll compile a list of my favorite heavy metal songs, but today I’m making a list of the movies that have soundtracks that truly rock.  Most of these movies have objectionable content for kids, and some of the movies I watched in my heathen days, so if you are cautious about what you view, you probably want to just check out the soundtrack.  Fair warning, is all I’m saying. (All photos courtesy
To the list!
The Lost Boys
I could tell that this movie was totally gonna rock when it opened with “People Are Strange” by The Doors.  My friend, Robin, and I used to listen to this soundtrack on cassette constantly.  I thought I had real vocal chops when I could hold the notes to “Cry Little Sister”.  Those were the days.  The movie is pretty awesome, too.  I had a wicked crush on Kiefer Sutherland when this movie came out, and I had this poster on the wall of my dorm at Baylor.
The Wall
Every time I think of this movie, I think of two old friends:  Nichole Brooks and Calvin Madewell.  I saw this movie for the first time at Nichole’s house, and when we would go visit Calvin while we were in college, he was into Pink Floyd BIG time.  If he wasn’t playing The Wall, then it was some Pink Floyd concert video or Legend of Zelda.  Nichole and I were at his house the night that he got the crossed hammers from the movie tattooed on his upper arm by a friend.  At any rate, this is an excellent soundtrack, and the movie is filled with surreal imagery, straight from the tortured mind of Roger Waters.
Valley Girl
No, this movie does not contain any heavy metal songs on its soundtrack.  However, it features an awesome lineup of New Wave and punk songs.  My favorite song is “Eyes of a Stranger” by The Payola$”, but it hasn’t been released  on iTunes.  I content myself with “A Million Miles Away” by The Plimsouls.  I saw this movie for the first time in 1984 at my friend, Pat Matthews’ house.  I liked the story, but mostly I was blown away by the music.  I wasn’t the only one, as this movie was turned into a musical a few years ago.
This is Spinal Tap
This movie is hilarious, though the language is terrible.  In my defense, I haven’t watched it in some years, though I still remember the songs.  Sometimes, Brian and I sing the goofy, heavy metal songs from this movie for fun.  All the music was written by Michael McKean and Christopher Guest.  For being a parody/mockumentary on the heavy metal music scene, the movie is actually pretty spot-on.  Several metal bands have been quoted as saying that this movie is a good depiction of what it’s like to go on a concert tour.  I have an embroidery design on my sewing machine that says “Up to Eleven” (famous line from the movie).
Flash Gordon
The movie is pure cheese, but the soundtrack is pure genius.  This was Queen’s first foray into soundtrack producing.  The theme song is fantastic.  Every now and again, I’ll catch this movie on tv, and I can’t help but sing along.  Actually, this movie was preparation for one of the greatest soundtracks on the planet:
The tagline for this movie was “There Can Be Only One”.  Kind of like Freddie Mercury and his magnificent voice.  This soundtrack is unavailable, however.  Brian and I looked for it years ago, and we were told that the only way to get it is to buy it overseas.  There is a tribute album featuring “A Kind of Magic” by Queen, but everything else is by different artists than the original soundtrack.  “A Kind of Magic” and “Who Wants to Live Forever” are on Queen’s “Greatest Hits” album, I believe.  We have both “Greatest Hits” and “Classic Queen”, but I can’t remember which one those songs are on.  When Brian and I bought our first DVD player, we each picked one DVD.  My choice was “Highlander”.  The story is awesome, but the music is killer.  The music really enhances the plot, just as the soundtrack is meant to.
Heavy Metal
I honestly have not seen this movie in almost 20 years.  I know that there are some pretty risque’ parts, and I vaguely remember a couple of gross parts.  It’s a comic book come to life, so the women are buxom, and their clothes are prone to falling off.  The men are rippling with muscles, well except for a couple of guys.  It does have a storyline that makes sense, but really this was a movie written for the music.  The theme song, written by Sammy Hagar, is an iconic anthem to heavy metal music.  (On a side note, the highlight of American Idol for me this season was when James Durbin came out and performed “Heavy Metal” with Zakk Wylde.  I was over the moon.  Second favorite moment:  When he performed with Rob Halford of Judas Priest.)
This is by no means an exhaustive list.  There are a lot of great movies with soundtracks that rock.  These are just my top picks. 
Many blessings,

Saturday, June 25, 2011

They’re Home!

Jacob and Matthew got back from their mission trip to McComb, Mississippi this evening.  They’ve been gone since Sunday, and it’s been so quiet around here! I mentioned previously that we were planning a surprise for the boys.  First, let’s start with the before:
June 23 2011 026
God bless Jacob.  His room was out of control.  The bed was broken, the dresser was broken, it was just sad.  So, we got him some new furniture:
Jacob's room 001
We went to Weir’s Furniture Village in Plano.  If you have never been, you should seriously go.  It is a Christian, family-owned company.  Good furniture and good prices.  We picked out this sleigh bed, nightstand, and a dresser, and Brian and our young friend, Collins, went and picked it up today.  Last night, Brian and Duane (AKA Dude) took all of the furniture out of Jake’s room.  I cleaned the blinds and the floors this past week, and had been doing laundry to get ready for the transformation.
We decided that the bed should be oriented differently, so here’s how we turned it:
Jacob's room 004  Jacob's room 005
Brian touched up the paint, and I washed his linens.  We decided to let Jacob and Matthew pick out new bedspreads and sheets for their beds this week.  Matthew and Jesse have newer furniture in their room, so we bought Matthew a new pillow-top mattress for his bed.  (Don’t buy IKEA mattresses.  They do not last.)
Here’s what Jake’s room looks like now:
Jacob's room 007
All that was missing was one thing:
Jacob's room 009
The boys had lots of stories, and we got lots of love.  Lily was so very happy.  I have a feeling that she’ll be spending the night in Jacob’s new room.  She sure loves her brother.  I’m really proud of my sons.  They worked hard, and they shared with us what God revealed to them this week.  Tomorrow night at church, the youth group and the adult crew leaders will be sharing about their experiences.  I look forward to hearing more…
Many blessings,

P.S. I'm participating in Metamorphosis Monday at

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Gettin' Stuff Done!

Whew!  What a day!  I've been kicking things into high gear this week, trying to get the clutter that accumulated this past school year cleared away.  One of the drawbacks of going back to school and starting a new job last fall was that I had to put a lot of things on the back burner until I had some time to take care of them. 

I decided to mow the front yard this morning, before it got too hot.  It really doesn't take that long, though.  It was miserable before 11:00!  I was sure missing Jacob and Matthew, as they usually mow for us.  I wasn't sure if I could finish the last bit, but I kept myself going by reminding myself that not everyone gets to mow such a lush patch of weeds.  I'm telling you, the Cottles can grow some nutgrass!  We have got the horticulture of dandelions and Dallis grass down.  The great thing about weeds that most people fail to recognize is that within 24 hours of mowing, they pop right up in some sort of random, Marco Polo kind of fashion.  A day after mowing, it looks as though you have not done a thing to your yard.  Grass, on the other hand, is not that tenacious.  At least, not in our yard.

While mowing, Jesse came out and sat on the landscaping bricks and remarked--very sagely-- that "That's not how Dad does it."  He proceeded to tell me how Dad mows the yard, but I couldn't hear him over the buzz of the lawnmower.  It's too bad, really.  I don't really get enough landscaping tips from 8 year-olds.

I accomplished much today.  I'm trying to get caught up on laundry before the boys come home with two suitcases full.  Jesse and Lily helped me clean the living room.  The three of us washed the dog:
Doesn't he look pitiful?  Poor guy.

He was frisky afterwards.  He loves to be clean.  I told you I was doing laundry--and here's proof.  You can see it on the recliner and the sofa!  I think I lose the safety award, though.  If you look closely, you'll notice a pair of scissors on the floor.  Boo. :(

Since the boys come back from Mississippi in a couple of days, I've been cleaning their rooms to get ready for our big surprises (!).  I'll post pictures of what we've got planned, when we're done.

As a nice, little surprise this evening, I looked out the front door and spotted this:

Hello, Bunny Rabbit!  There were two of them, but the other one was camera-shy and hopped off.  Don't be jealous of my yard now.  We've worked hard to get those brown patches. :)

Many blessings,


Monday, June 20, 2011

Movie Monday: Mary & Max

The thing about summer:  I forget what day it is!  I almost missed my Movie Monday post, and I planned to feature a movie that was the reason I started this whole thing!  If you're not intimidated by difficult movies, and have a slightly off-kilter sense of humor, then this movie is for you:  Mary & Max

Photo courtesy of

The film is shot in black and white and sepia tones, and is claymation.  It's the story of a young girl, Mary, and her relationship with Max, a man with Asperger's Syndrome.  Mary lives in Australia and is an outcast.  Mary doesn't see the world in quite the same way that everyone else does, and she has a large birthmark on her face.  Max lives in New York, is Jewish, and is 44 years old.  Max is voiced by Philip Seymour Hoffman.  Mary is a little girl, voiced by Toni Collette.  They become pen pals, and develop an unusual friendship.

I liked this movie more than any other movie I've seen in a long time, which is saying a lot.  It is challenging, and it has a dark humor, but I'm into that sort of thing.  Even though the characters are cartoonish, this is not a kids' film.  It's the kind of movie that older teens should see, as it portrays how our differences can alienate us from others and can keep us from the things that we desire the most.  It's a story of friendship at its core, and I think that it is wonderful.  (Mary & Max is available on Netflix).

In other news, my oldest sons are on a mission trip to Mississippi.  They come home Saturday, and I miss them like crazy.  It's too quiet around here!  I'm truly, immensely proud of them for going out on a limb to help others in need.  I can't wait to hear what the Lord shows them on their journeys.  While they're gone, Brian and I are planning a surprise for them.  I'll keep you posted...

Finally, schools are posting teaching jobs!  I've been applying for special ed. and classroom teacher jobs, and I am praying for God's guidance in finding a job for the fall.  What a crazy time to begin a career in education!

Many blessings,


Monday, June 13, 2011

Movie Monday: True Grit

I finally had the opportunity to see the new movie True Grit, starring Jeff Bridges.  It was really good.  I enjoy westerns, and I am a fan of Mr. Bridges, so I was predisposed to like it.  Matt Damon played the part of LaBoeuf, originally played by Glen Campbell.  He provided levity to the dark story of a young woman who sets out to avenge the murder of her father.  Hailee Stanfield, the young actress who plays the lead character, Mattie Ross, is excellent in a very demanding role.

It's been a while since I've seen the original movie starring John Wayne.  There are some changes, as I recall.  I would like to read the book that the movies are based upon by Charles Portis.  At any rate, the movie is excellent.  The movie was shot in Granger, TX and in New Mexico. 

The plot centers around Mattie.  She is searching for a U.S. Marshall of 'true grit' to aid her in capturing her father's killer, Tom Chaney.  She settles on Rooster Cogburn, played by Mr. Bridges.  Through the course of the journey, it is discovered that the marshal isn't the only one with true grit, as Mattie herself possesses it in spades.  The use of language in this movie is amazing.  Though the setting is in the south, specifically Arkansas, the characters are not seen as hicks with a twang.  The language is formal--no contractions of any kind are used, even by the outlaws.  Cursing and foul language are kept to a minimum. 

Mattie wants justice, and she is single-minded in her determination to obtain it.  The murderer is seen from the different perspectives of his pursuer.  Mattie views him as slow-witted, while LaBoeuf sees him as calculating.  Mr. Cogburn cares very little for the character of the man who has committed this and other crimes; he is interested in the reward for his capture.  Cogburn and LaBoeuf are changed by Mattie, and she learns a lot about how our decisions can have unforeseen consequences. 

There are a number of religious motifs throughout the film.  The hymn"Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" plays throughout.  The movie begins with a quote from Proverbs.  The movie asks the viewer to consider justice.  The Bible says that vengeance is the Lord's.  Man is not to take revenge.  Mattie pursues revenge and it costs her dearly.  It is not clear whether Mattie's vengeance gives her a sense of peace.  That is left to the imagination of the viewer.

True Grit is available at local Redbox locations and on DVD/Blue ray.

Many blessings,


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Greetings from Perrin, TX!

Tonight the kids and I are spending the night with my parents.  Brian and a friend drove down to Austin to see Rush in concert.  Rush is Brian's favorite band, and he goes to see them in concert any chance he gets.  In the meantime, I loaded up the kids and the dog and we headed to Perrin. 

My parents have an offer on their land, and it is a good one.  They have accepted it, and so the next thing that they have to do is find a new place to live.  We will drive down towards Waco tomorrow to scout out some land that my parents are interested in.  They want to downsize to 2 or 3 acres, and have been looking online at places that are near to my brother and his family and that have lots of trees.  They will move their double-wide mobile home down that way.  The trick is to find the right place, at the right price.  The kids and I are looking forward to helping out with the search.  It is the beginning of a new adventure.

This evening, we walked out with the dogs and the kids looked for grasshoppers.  There is quite an abundance here, it seems.  Jesse is at the age in which collecting curious objects is an enjoyable pastime.  He picked up rocks and chased grasshoppers to his heart's content.  Right now, there is a jar teeming with grasshoppers in all different shapes and shades on my parents' dining room table.  Mom's cat is lurking nearby, fascinated.

There is something about the country in summer that is absolutely enchanting.  Wide open spaces, the sound of cicadas, the buzz of dragonflies--it's heaven to me.  It pleases me so much to see my children run and play in the setting sun.  They don't seem to have a care in the world, and this is just as it should be.

Tonight, I sat on the porch and watched the children chase our dog, Blizzard, in the red sand in front of my parents' house.  At twilight, Lily and I sat watching the woods and listening to the sounds of summer:  Cicadas, crickets, and rustling leaves.  The moon was almost full and so bright.  We looked for the first star and made a wish.  Lily scooted in close to me and I looked into her dark eyes and noticed that her face was filthy with dirt.  She looked like a little raccoon.  My little redneck princess.  She had been chasing bugs and dogs just like the boys.  Being here is rest to my weary soul.  Sometimes the concrete and congestion is just too much, and I long to be away from the city.  Even though the setting may change, I'm pleased for my parents.  They are looking forward to being closer to family.  I'm looking forward to making new memories with them. 

Many blessings,


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

End of School and some DIY

The 2010-11 school year is coming to a close.  For our family, this means that Lily has completed Kindergarten, Jesse has completed 2nd grade, Matthew has completed 7th grade, and Jacob has (hopefully) completed 10th grade ( Jacob has not finished taking exams, yet.).  Lily had her Kindergarten graduation today, and I was subbing, so Brian attended to cheer her on.  They had a great time.

I helped out in the office of one of the elementary schools yesterday and today.  There is a lot to do to get ready for summer, so I assisted however they needed, from packing up classrooms to shredding papers.  I've also been putting together teacher gifts the past few days, so I've had my embroidery machine out.  I like to embroider personalized hand towels, so I made a couple for the kids' teachers.  Here's one:

My friend, Michele, sells Mary Kay, so I purchased Satin Hands sets for Jesse and Lily's teachers and did embroidered hand towels to go with them.  Mrs. Z's towel is actually the second one.  I threaded the machine the wrong way and messed up the name on the first one.  I ended up cutting off the name and sewed on a gold band from a remnant of fabric that I have.

I hate to throw away a perfectly good towel, even if I did mess up.  I finished it and hung it up in the upstairs bathroom.  And since I was already sewing gifts, I thought I'd stitch up something fun for the kids...

The kids' bathroom is called the "Monkey Bathroom".  The inspiration came from this sign I found in Fredericksburg, TX:

So, I purchased a shower curtain from Target, hung up my cute embroidered towel, et voila!

I purchased both the monkey and crown embroidery designs from Urban Threads.  The Lil' Monkey design would be cute on onesies or baby blankets.  If you're interested in custom embroidered items, message me. 

In other news, Brian starts a new job July 1.  He'll be working at a construction company in Dallas.  This new company is slightly larger than the one he works for now.  It was a good offer and he has his present employer's blessing.  God is good, and though this is another change in our lives, we trust that this is a good opportunity for Brian and will be a blessing to our family.

Many blessings,


Monday, June 6, 2011

Movie Monday

I've decided to start a new feature on this blog, one I've been thinking about for a while.  I enjoy watching movies, especially ones that are not highly publicized.  I'm a fan of foreign films and documentaries.  I'll be featuring thought-provoking films that I've watched each Monday.  You're welcome to comment on the films I feature and to link to your own blog posts, if you are doing a post on movies, as well.

For this week, I am featuring the movie Forgiving Mengele.  This documentary was made in 2006 about Holocaust survivor Eva Kor.  Ms. Kor and her twin sister, Miriam, were selected by Dr. Mengele to participate in genetic experiments while at the Auschwitz concentration camp.  Twins were forced to endure blood withdrawals and injections of unknown substances, in addition to the emotional torture of the concentration camp.  Ms. Kor's determination to survive is admirable, and her decision to forgive her tormentors is controversial, as is shown in the film. 

The story of Eva Kor raises difficult questions about forgiveness:  What does it mean to forgive?  (This question is asked of Ms. Kor repeatedly.)  Does forgiveness need to be earned?  Can forgiveness be given on behalf of dead loved ones?  Is it right for a human being to forgive; isn't this the sole right of God?  These questions are asked, but not necessarily answered in the course of the film.  The survivors of Holocaust atrocities who live daily with the effects of the torment they endured at the hands of the Nazis are split with regard to Ms. Kor's offer of forgiveness.  Many are openly hostile towards her.  Jewish scholars are seen challenging her decision to forgive. 

The most interesting aspect of the film comes toward the end, as Ms. Kor meets with a group of Palestinian professors who want to discuss their own wounds at the hands of Israelis.  Ms. Kor's reaction to the Palestinians reveals the complicated nature of human forgiveness.  She is willing to forgive the Germans, but is not willing to ask for forgiveness from the Palestinians for the wrongs that they have experienced at the hands of the Israelis (Ms. Kor is a Romanian Jew, living in Terre Haute, Indiana.).  She says that she could not hear their stories of trauma and terror because "it is too much."  The bloodshed is happening now, and she cannot bear to hear their stories.  It is unclear whether or not she feels that the Palestinians are experiencing oppression.  She is clearly uncomfortable and fears for her safety, so she is eager to leave the meeting.

For Christians, we are commanded to forgive.  Jesus said in Luke 6:37:  "Forgive, and you will be forgiven."  We have been forgiven of our sins through the atoning death of Jesus Christ.  The Jewish scholars discuss the idea of atonement as it relates to forgiveness, and this is a significant stumbling block to their ability to forgive.  They sincerely do not feel that the Germans are worthy of forgiveness, because they have not atoned for their wrongdoings. 

I like that this movie forces the viewer to really contemplate the notion of forgiveness.  What does it mean to forgive?  The central focus of this question is the concern for justice.  Does forgiving someone mean that the wrong that they have done is forgotten, or that it is acceptable?  I take my view of forgiveness from Scripture.  Colossians 3:13 says, "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you."  In other words, we do not hold that person's sin, or wrongdoing, against them.  We do not expect retribution or vengeance.  Essentially, when we forgive, we do not consider the other person's actions worthy of punishment.  It is an action that enables us to move on from the injury and thwarts bitterness.  It is an act of cleansing--a cleansing of our hearts and minds from the idea of revenge.  (Let me also say that this does not mean that I do not believe in punishment.  I also believe in justice strongly.  However, I believe that forgiveness is a conscious determination of our will.  It is like love, in that it is not a feeling, but an action.  It is something we do to prevent bitterness from taking root.)

Forgiving Mengele is available on Netflix.  If you watch it, let me know your thoughts.  I'm curious to know what others' opinions are on this subject of forgiveness.

Many blessings,