Peanuts and Popcorn

"Spot" and Arlo (Disney/Pixar)

“Spot” and Arlo (Disney/Pixar)

Unlike my family, I was moved but not crushed while watching UP. I was touched with Brave and I got a little lump in my throat while watching Inside Out. But The Good Dinosaur? That flick messed me up.

The Good Dinosaur is really one of the more unique Disney/Pixar films. It’s a western that features dinosaurs with creatures that eat other creatures and there isn’t a single frilly princess. It deals with themes that include the importance of family, facing your fears, and making your mark in this world. That doesn’t sound like the making of an emotional film, but then again, neither did story about a house elevated by balloons.

Some families will take issue that the story begins with Darwin-like principles. For those that do, try to take solace in the fact that it is just a story without any agenda attached. Instead, it illustrates real-life scenarios in a make-believe world.

The premise is that the supposed asteroid that wiped out all of the dinosaurs on the planet, missed the earth entirely. Dinosaurs supposedly grew to build homes, till soil and grow plants all on their own. Arlo is the youngest of three children to grow up on the farm with Momma and Poppa who encourage their children to do something great to make their mark in the world. Although all three kids work hard, brother Buck and sister Libby make their marks fairly early on by mastering their daily chores. Arlo’s job is to feed the chicken-like creatures whom he is terribly afraid of. Poppa wants nothing more than to get Arlo to not only face his fears, but to conquer them. He helps Arlo to set up a trap to capture the creature that is stealing corn from the family. As it turns out, the “creature” is actually a little human boy. Feeling sorry for the boy, Arlo lets him escape. When Poppa finds out that the boy has been let go, he takes Arlo on a dangerous journey to get the kid.



Being that this is a Disney film, a life-altering event happens – actually twice – which leads Arlo on a journey that will change his life. Arlo finds himself lost and in need of getting back to his family and who shows up? The kid.
The two start out as adversaries at first, but in time, Arlo and they boy learn to rely on each other. The boy acts more like a dog and soon Arlo adopts him as a pet and names him Spot – of course. The two learn how they are more alike than they are different and face many trials together meeting a variety of strange dinosaurs both friend and foe.
Arlo gets his best training away from home from Butch a T-Rex voiced by Sam Elliott. He and his two children, Ramsey and Nash herd cattle and teach Arlo to do the same. Later that night the four dinos and the boy sit around the fire and tell tall tales on how they each got into danger and received their scars. Ramsey tell how she once bit the tip of her tail off to escape some danger. Her brother responds with “Who does that?” It is here that Arlo learns that being afraid is neither good nor bad – it just is.

As silly as it sounds, this film share many emotional scenarios that brought me to my knees. The film speaks truth, healing and encouragement for all who see it. Just as any Pixar/Disney film is appropriate for both boys and girls, this one will probably appeal more to boys and is an excellent film for fathers to enjoy with their sons. Just bring some Kleenex.

The Good Dinosaur is also one of the most beautiful animated movies out there. You will swear that some scenes are actually photography, but there not. How the animator were able to create the realistic-looking water in the river and leaves on the trees will forever be a mystery. It is just amazing.


“Sanjay’s Super Team” a new Disney/Pixar Short

Accompanying The Good Dinosaur is the new Pixar short, Sanjay’s Super Team, which is not only directed by artist Sanjay Patel but it is also based on his relationship with is relationship with his father. This short will shock some Christians as it explores religious matters of Hinduism. Disney and/or Pixar usually shy away from anything sounding religious and this is a very personal project of Patel’s, so it will be interesting who well the public reacts to it.

The story features Sanjay wanting to watch his superhero TV show rather than join his father for meditation and prayer. Sanjay starts to imagine that the gods his father is praying to are like superheroes fighting for him. This may alarm some parents, but the short is not “preachy” and I doubt that it will pull our children from their Christian roots. There is a lot in this short that I did not understand, but the story is more about a father’s disappointment when he wants to share his faith with his child and the child wants nothing to do with it. This is something that many fathers, of all religions, can relate to. At the very least, it is a lot better than last year’s short, Lava about a lonely volcano.



Adding to the list of legendary singers who have gone on to perform farewell tours, (with many of them changing their minds after they were over), is Christian music icon, Sandi Patty. Her “Forever Grateful: The Farewell Tour” will begin on February 11, 2016 and will blaze through more than 90 cities worldwide.

“What a privilege it has been to share my story and faith through song for so many years,” says Patty. “My heart is full of gratitude for so many who have been along this journey with me. I could never have imagined my career taking me to so many amazing places and meeting so many people who have changed my life forever…. My desire is to use this next season and the “Forever Grateful” tour as an opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to as many people as possible!”

Using the word “icon” to describe a Christian singer may seem as an improper choice of words, but Patty has had an influence in music genre since her debut and is the most-awarded female vocalist in gospel music history. She has won five Grammy® awards, four Billboard Music Awards, three platinum records, five gold records, over forty Dove awards, and twelve million units sold.

As a classically trained singer, she is not everyone’s cup of tea, but just about everyone has a Sandi Patty song that appeals to them. Some enjoy her Christmas albums, for others, the song, “Via Delarosa” holds special meaning. Patty has sung duets with many Christian artists including Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Kathy Trocoli, but perhaps the most successful was one that she sang with Wayne Watson, “Another Time, Another Place.” Watching the 1991 music video, it is amazing how much this song (minus Watson’s mullet) holds up.

The Forever Grateful Tour is sponsored by World Vision with a lineup of special guests including Veritas and members of Sandi’s family. Concert tickets are now available.

Forever Grateful Tour dates:

  • 2/11/2016: Lufkin, TX
    2/12/2016: San Antonio, TX
    2/13/2016: Houston, TX
    2/14/2016: Shreveport, LA
    2/20-27/2016: Sandi Patty & Friends Caribbean Cruise
    3/3/2016: Amarillo, TX
    3/4/2016: Wichita Falls, TX
    3/7/2016: Poplarville, MS
    3/10/2016: Meridian, MS
    3/11/2016: Marion, IL
    3/13/2016: Wichita, KS
    4/1/2016: Clearwater, FL
    4/2/2016: Tallahassee, FL
    4/3/2015: Pace, FL
    4/7/2016: Raytown, MO
    4/8/2016: Tulsa, OK
    4/14/2016: Indian Trail, NC
    4/15/2016: Richmond, VA
    4/17/2016: Aiken, SC
    4/21/2016: Nashville, TN
    4/22/2016: Hixson, TN
    4/24/2016: Anderson, IN
    4/29/2016: Longview, TX
    4/30/2016: Austin, TX
    5/1/2016: Oklahoma City, OK
    5/27/2016: Highlands Ranch, CO
    5/28/2016: Alto, NM
    5/29/2016: Albuquerque, NM
    6/9/2016: Shipshewana, IN
    6/18/2016: Hattiesburg, MS

Vincent Kartheiser in "Mad Men" and in "Saints and Strangers."

Vincent Kartheiser in “Mad Men” and in “Saints and Strangers.” (AMC and National Geographic Channel)

Like so many others, I couldn’t stand the character of Pete Campbell in AMC’s Mad Men TV show. So, you could imagine my surprise to learn that Vincent Kartheiser has the leading role in Saints and Strangers, AFTER I finished watching the TV production which is airing on the National Geographic Channel. Vincent Kartheiser plays the pilgrim and saintly Mayflower traveler, William Bradford. The two roles couldn’t be more dissimilar.

“It was a challenge for me to undertake this role and find that level to play him at because the role is very modest and very devout,” Kartheiser told the New York Post “I’m used to playing a character that is much louder and brasher … more reactionary and mischievous and this character is not that.“He’s steady and thoughtful.”

Kartheiser is totally unrecognizable in the role. I’m used to seeing the actor with a crisp and clean look. In Saint and Strangers, he’s got shaggy hair and a burly beard. The fact that he can jump from one character to another so completely different, is a great achievement as so many actors typically play a version of themselves in everything that they do.

While I recommend watching the two-part movie/miniseries, pace yourself. It’s fairly “talky” and slow moving at times. With that said, by watching it, you really get a sense about what life was like for the pilgrims good and (unfortunately, mostly) bad. Bradford makes for a good leader who learns how to deal with others as he goes. Whether a new baby is born on the ship (yay!) or another passenger dies (boo!) he states that it is God’s will. Fortunately, Saints allows Bradford to explore that a bit further and as he does, he becomes more human to the others on this journey.

One of the most unlikely friendships is the one that develops between himself and Squanto (Kalani Queypo). Squanto was native who was taken from his tribe at an early age to serve as a slave to some English explorers. He is the only one who can truly communicate with the tribes and the outsiders. Both Quanto and Bradford feel both a part of this new world and outside of it at the same time.

Saints and Strangers will be presented at the following times. Double check your local listings as they may be different where you live:

  • November 23 – Part One: 7:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. / Part Two: 9:00 p.m.
    November 24 – Part Two: 1:00 a.m.
    November 26 – Part One: 7:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. / Part Two: 9:00 p.m.
    November 27 – Part Two: 1:00 a.m.
    November 29 – Part One: 9:00 a.m. / Part Two: 11:00 a.m.
    November 30 – Part One: 3:00 p.m. / Part Two: 5:00 p.m.
    December 3 – Part One: 3:00 p.m. / Part Two: 5:00 p.m.

(Capitol Music)

(Capitol Music)

Colton Dixon’s The Calm Before the Storm

Former American Idol hopeful, Colton Dixon, never made it past the #7 spot on the show’s 11th season in 2012 but like other “idols,” he has proved that you don’t need AI’s permission to be a success.

In October, Dixon won the award for Rock/Contemporary Album of the Year at the 46th Annual Dove Awards for his album, Anchor. Shortly afterward, Dixon created a unique concept in modern music making. He released the dual EPs Calm and Storm. Both are a collection of revamped tracks from his library of previous work with Calm being filled with all mellow tracks and Storm with heavier sounding re-mixed tracks. And then came the third album which is the two combined together creating, The Calm Before the Storm.

Although all the songs on the album are his, they sound distinctly different from what you are used to. This isn’t an album to rock out to on you next road trip with a bunch of buddies. In fact, you may not want to listen to it in your car at all. The album is so unique, that it is really a theatrical production for your mind. Seriously. If you have seen Dixon in concert, this is nothing like that.

The Calm Before the Storm is more acoustic, artistic and instrumental in its presentation. It also shows a maturity in Dixon’s music that takes him beyond a teen fan favorite. It beckons you to find a quiet spot in the house to lay down, plug in, close your eyes and dream. Listen to the music and see what images come into your head. That might sound a little too “new agey” for some, and if that is you, so be it.

“You Are,” which Dixon sings with his sister Schyler, is definitely the best of the bunch. It’s a heart-felt praise song that is a lot less celebratory and more reverent. I could listen to this over and over again. It’s very powerful. The lyrics include:

When I can’t find the words to say how much it hurts, You are the healing in my heart
When all that I can see are broken memories, You are the light that’s in the dark
You are the song, You are the song I’m singing.
You are the air, You are the air I breath in
You are the hope, You are the hope I needed.
And when my circumstance leaves me with empty hands.
You are the provider of my needs.
When all my dirtiness has left me helpless.
You are the rain that washes me.

Here is the song line up on the album:

1. Limitless (Acoustic)
2. Never Gone (Acoustic)
3. You Are (Acoustic)
4. Through All Of It (Acoustic)
5. Where I End (Studio Version)
6. More Of You (PRO_FITT REMIX)
7. Back To Life (BLRZ Remix)
8. Echo (Neon Feather Remix)
9. Dare To Believe (JSapp Remix)
10. Anchor (BLRZ Remix)