Movies That I Like & My Kids Hate

Pop-Culture Gap In General, Movies in Particular.

“Hate” may be a strong word.  Our children are often bored by what we find interesting.  Most of us can relate.  Like a feminist matron glumly watching a lovingly gifted special edition copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves sit on her daughter’s bookshelf year after year collecting dust, we often have to resign ourselves to our children’s individuality.  Movies can provide a good barometer between generational differences.

I grew up on reruns of Star Trek.  I idolized Leonard Nimoy’s portrayal of Commander Spock, augmented by the fact that my older’s brother Michael’s intellect seemed such a close match.  Undeterred by my own inadequacies, I sought to emulate him (which one am I talking about?) in every way.

My children on the other hand, developed an affinity for the Star Wars universe.  C’la vie.  Drawn to the battles in space, the Arthurian parallels, and the unambiguous good vs. evil story line.  What’s not to like?

I think every parent goes through a stage where they attempt to get their kids to appreciates the movies or pop-culture from their childhood.

Here are three movies which I find entertaining on both the emotional and intellectual levels.  Check with the library on your streaming service.  Of course, if you’re an old fart like me, throw one or more of them in your cart on your next trip to the local superstore for about $3-$5.  I highly recommend them.

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 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968).

2001 A Space OdysseyWe’re Extra-terrestrials are we’re here to help.

Based on the novel by Arthur C. Clarke, the movie puts forth the premise that three million years ago, Aliens visited the Earth looking for species’ capable of advancement and found our Australopithecine ancestors.  Running them through a series of tests and finding them receptive, the visitors – whom you never see – nudge the pre-Homosapians on the path to the next state of evolution.

The Visitors proceed to bury a beacon below the lunar surface.   When humans have advanced sufficiently to find it, they will be ready for the next stage in the evolutionary process.

Jump ahead to present day.  Or, a few years into the future from when the movie was released into theaters.  Mankind has found the beacon and once exposed to the sun’s radiation, the it emits a beam which points to the planet Jupiter.

The Discovery, is launched to investigate.  The crew consists of David Bowman, Frank Poole, super computer HAL 9000 (surprise, I’m sentient), and three others in hibernation.

Conflicts arise, of course.   HAL, the only member of the conscious crew who had been briefed on the full extent of the mission begins to distrust Bowman and Poole.

Bowman, the only surviving member of the Discovery meets Mankind’s benefactors, enters a brief chrysalis state and emerges as the next incarnation of Man’s evolution.

My Kids: “Does this thing have an end?”

The movie is faithful to Clarke’s cerebral approach to science fiction.  Good science fiction writing does not stray too far from the known laws of physics or one of the major physical theories (Gravity, Quantum, Relativity).  This movie is the standard for adherents to that school of thought.

For teens brought up on Space Battles where small space craft can maneuver like fighter jets while in zero gravity, this can be a little boring.

Bowman’s metamorphosis does tend to drag on.  Kubrick was probably as “artsy” as a director could get while remaining mainstream.

2010: The Year We Make Contact (Peter Hyams, 1984)

2010 The Year We Make ContactAmid Cold-War tensions, a joint U.S. – Soviet Mission is launched in order to investigate the fate of the Discovery and her crew.  Again, based on the novel by Arthur C. Clarke.

This was produced during the Regan years, so like a lot of movies from that time, it is very much a set piece.  he “Visitors” are clearly replaced with God.  Did Arthur C. Clarke, famous for his atheism object?  I could find nothing on the subject.

In the culminating scene where Bowman returns to confront Dr. Heywood Floyd, the man who sent him on his mission, Bowman professes, ostensibly having seen the Face of God, that “It’s all very clear to me now.”

While the United States and Russia frantically negotiate to avoid global war, the Russian Crew of the Leonov and their American passengers attempt to remain mission focused.  Colonel Kirbuk, played in steely low-key fashion by Helen Mirren, provides the viewer with several good lessons in  leadership.  We see Kirbuk and her crew benefit from her good decisions, and we see her deal with the con
sequences of her bad decisions.  She clearly has her hands full regulating the conflicting interests not only between her crew and the Americans, but between her crew and their superiors in Moscow.  She sums up her inner struggle to Dr. Floyd by explaining that though she is a scientist, she is also an officer in the Soviet Air Force.   Was this expression of duty a nod to Reagan-era politics?  Perhaps.

My Kids: “If we must…”

My kids had zero interest in seeing this after enduring 2001, but they agreed to watch it together as an indulgence to me.  2010 has a lot more dialogue than 2001, which made it bearable, and even a little intriguing for them.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of The World (Peter Weir, 2003).

Master and Commander

This film is an amalgamation of three of Patrick O’Brien’s Captain Aubrey novels.  The year is 1805 and the Napoleonic Wars threate
n Britain’s domination of the seas.  HMS Surprise is patrolling the vicinity of Cape Horn on orders to take the french privateer Acheron out of the fight.  This presents a daunting task since Acheron outguns Surprise and possess a far sturdier hull.

Captain Aubrey, played with dash by Russell Crowe is at times loving father and stern taskmaster to his crew.  His main confidant is the ship’s doctor, Steven Maturin.  Maturin is the plot device which allows the viewer to se
e other sides to Aubrey aside from that which he chooses to show his other officers and crew.

It is actually Dr. Maturin’s character in which we see the conflict between one’s desires and one’s duties play out in full.  When Surprise drops anchor in the Galapagos, Maturin, who is recovering from an accidental gunshot wound takes a mid-shipman and a crew member on a brief trip ashore to collect samples of the indigenous small animals, insects and plants.  Making his way to the opposite end of the island, Aubrey spots Acheron anchored in the bay.

Though dismayed at the interruption to his research, Dr. Maturin is after all, an officer in the Royal Navy.  He orders all the cages dropped, releases the captured fauna, and makes his way back to Surprise to inform Captain Aubrey that their enemy is nearby.

My Kids: “I am indifferent to all of this.”

While I was fascinated by the background to all of this, my children could not relate.  The story opens at a time when the world was on the cusp of industrialization.  The generation that entered the 19th century would have nearly nothing in common with generation that exited it.  Industrialized warfare equipped with rail, telegraph and the steam engine was barely envisioned.

Long-distance communication was decades into the future.  Ship captains served as ambassadors for their nations with plenipotentiary powers.  In other words, they were able – often required to make policy decisions.

Communication back home was accomplished by bundling the crew’s letters and giving it to another ship headed back to port.  To me, this was fascinating.  To my children, not so much.


Do you have a movie or a slice of pop-culture that you love but completely bores your kids?  Or how about something the you absolutely love but your parents just don’t understand?  Leave a comment below.  Thanks.

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A Different Kind of Reformation

Islam requires reformation. This needs to be said, therefore let’s stop dancing around the issue. To my knowledge Hindus, Taoists, and Buddhists generally don’t strap on bombs, and they don’t  seek out soft targets in the Western World. One could make a valid case that the humanistic cults of the 20th century far out-striped even the best efforts of the Islam in wrecking carnage on the world.

This even allows for the Islamic rampage across the North Africa during the 7th century.  Islam needs to undergo a reformation of its own.

The West Should Demand Islamic Requires Reformation -

One Method Of Evangelism

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The De-Construction of Marriage

Marriage, as we know it is all but gone. And it’s our fault.  People will still get “married,” of course.  Couples will hold a ceremonies in front of friends and family pledging to build a life together. For a little while longer, at least.

Husband Wife Home

Reflecting on the day past or perhaps the day to come, a husband and wife share a moment.

Marriage has devolved into a mere cultural habit, effectively ceasing as a cultural institution. Regrettable, given my strong advocacy or Western Civilization.

Considering our recent social upheaval,  the de-valuing of marriage was  inevitable.  No surprise, given the Church’s unconditional surrender to the State.

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Two Minutes Out Of Your Life – Belief In God.

While God’s existence is not in question, man’s interpretation of Him remains infinitely variable.  Our attempts to understand him continue to vex us.


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Science and Nature: The Colonel’s Reading List

The Colonel's Reading List from Manning the Wall

The reading list feature on this blog really has me thinking about what I’ve collected over the last 30+ years.  Journaling about our efforts and progress with respect to the library renovation has been something of a focusing tool.

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What I Didn’t Hear

manningthewall.comNeither of you said you would leave me alone.  Why is that so hard?

We’re already handing over 60% of our labor to support the leviathan of government on the Federal, State, and Local level.  Apparently that’s not enough. Continue reading

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Leaving A Legacy

Hymn Book Spoelstra Funeral from Manning the Wall

Christian Reformed Church, Midland Park, NJ. I miss opening up a hymnal. But then, I’m a church elder who carries his bible inside his phone now, so…

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.   Philippians 4:7

Yesterday I had a front row seat at the Peace that passes understanding.

On September 20th, after a long struggle with infirmities that will befall all of us, Bernhard Spoelstra passed away.  He was my sister’s father-in-law. The patriarch of an extended family, Mr. Spoelstra left behind a devoted wife and four loyal children. This is his legacy. And it is priceless.

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Military Fiction: The Colonel’s Reading List

The Colonel's Reading List from Manning the WallI’m looking around my library with some despondency. Oh, the new coat of paint on the sheet rock – a light silver-ish blue – looks great. And the placeholders are doing the job. One folding table serves as Lois’ return. The other is the spare workstation and holds a computer and television turned to the news. Lois and I sit across from each other, a 3/4” piece of plywood serving as our partners desk. On her side I was able to install a keyboard tray using scrap lumber and a pair of inexpensive drawer slides. A pair of unfinished pinewood file cabinets on one side supports the desk on one side, and a set of braced 2x3s holds up the other end. We expect the maple wood tops in about two weeks. It’s a shared vision between spouses. It’s pleasant. Yet, I look around the room and sigh. No books. A library should have books. But a library needs shelves to have books, and the oak shelves are coming after the desktops.

Here are three selections from the shelves the bins in the basement:

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The Myth Of Corporate Taxes

This is a companion piece to this week’s episode of “Two Minutes Out Of Your Life.”

The Myth Of Corporate Taxes

Wait a sec…

There is no such thing as corporate taxes. Oh, there are fees assessed to a corporation’s earnings. There is an “official” tax bracket
assigned to the net income of all business, and corporations in particular are assigned a top rate of 39.1%. How our government came up with that is anyone’s guess.

You pay all ‘corporate taxes’… as well as your own.

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Forgiveness and Spiritual Maturity – Part Two


The Spirit hungers…

Why is it so difficult to forgive, particularly those who think and act as though they’ve done nothing wrong? Why are we triggered to offense, in some cases quite easily? In a word – Pride.

We all want respect.  It is in our nature to crave validation.  We want recognition for our efforts and for our achievements.   We need for our existence to have some value beyond ourselves, and when we perceive the desired validation lacking, it can cause a draining disharmony of the spirit.

Pride cripples…

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