The Bonkers Lincoln Lawyer

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Tab and I dove into The Lincoln Lawyer last night on Hulu. We figured Matthew McConaughey + courtroom drama = win, right?

In the far off land of Los Angeles, Matthew McConaughey is defense lawyer Mick Haller. Mick has figured out a scheme most Angelenos would balk at in an instant, he works out of his Lincoln. Mobile, free from having to pay property taxes or outrageous SoCal real estate costs, Mick is the man. Until one day, Reese Witherspoon’s ex-husband, Ryan “Pretty Boy” Phillippe, hires Mick. Turns out the rich white dude Ryan is playing (Louis Roulet) has been accused of beating up/trying to rape a woman and kill her. BUT SHE LIVED!

A bunch of other stuff happens. Ryan (playing Louis) turns out to be evil. SPOILER! McConaughey, being the top dog that he is, plays the game and brings him down. Also, JUSTICE!

The biggest crime in The Lincoln Lawyer isn’t the films plot but the way it hands out small amounts of screen time to amazing actors. I’m still trying to figure out why Bryan Cranston is in this movie. And what about William H. Macy? And future Aunt May (Marisa Tomei)?

I was good with the movie up until it’s 11th hour super conspiracy theory reveal and biker beat up. But the smoggy Los Angeles landscape made me miss my home state. Take a deep breath… cough, cough, cough. Ah, asthma.

Final Note: Someone please tell Matthew to stop pointing with his middle finger? It’s rude.

THE END

What’s your favorite McConaughey courtroom drama?

Settling in with SteamWorld Dig

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Picked up developer Image & Form Games SteamWorld Dig last night for the 3DS– I figured why not, the 3DS sits on my nightstand collecting dust. I love the compact design of the system versus the Switch, especially for nighttime/in bed play–. Spent a whole $2.91 for the game on sale too.

I fell in love with SteamWorld Dig 2, on the Switch, sometime last year. Echoes of the Atari classic Dig Dug are strong with this game series. Minus the violent blowing creatures up with an air hose…

I love Digs core gameplay loop:

  • Head down to the mines.
  • Dig mine shafts in a way that allow traversal and ease of harvesting minerals.
  • Dig deep. Fill your bags with as many minerals as you can carry.
  • Once your bags are full, head back to town and cash-in said minerals for money which equals upgrades. Who doesn’t want bigger bags and a stronger pick?

In the small bit I played last night, I can see the influence Dig 1 had on Dig 2 (no duh, right). Fun to see where characters got their start; relaxing to settle into that familiar mining loop. Definitely check this series out if you haven’t had a chance. I am also thinking about picking up SteamWorld Heist on the Switch (on sale right now for $4.99).

What do you think of the SteamWorld series? Have you had a chance to play?

Adoption Update – Level One A

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I was telling Tabitha last night that if adoption were a video game, we have finally reached the first level. The tutorial and character creation process were the initial first steps:

  • PRIDE Training (40 hours of state-mandated classes)
  • FBI Database Fingerprinting
  • Fire Inspection
  • Health Inspection
  • Home Study

With our home study approved, we are now certified by the State of Texas to adopt. We can now put in interest requests through the Texas Adoption Resource Exchange (TARE); we can also now go to meet up events (where you can interact with kids available for adoption) as well as have our caseworker alert us to children available for adoption who are not listed online.

The adoption process is weird. A mixture of buying a home and speed dating. Level One A, of the adoption game, looks like:

  • Looking through pictures of children in an online database
  • Going to a meet up event
  • Our caseworker notifying us of a potential match

After initial inquiries are made, which includes our caseworker “selling” another caseworker on our family via telephone conference (home buying), we then enter the speed dating phase. Level One B includes:

  • Our family driving to whichever region the potential child is located in and then going on a day outing with the child.
  • The following weekend, a follow up over night visit (probably in a hotel room, especially if the child lives out of town) with the child.
  • The following weekend after that, a day trip/overnight visit again?
  • Eventually these visits shift from being on neutral ground to the child coming to our house.

The biggest hurdle of Level One A is going to be finding a match. We have to agree on the match; our caseworker has to agree on the match. Already, we are learning that:

  • It’s good to have a caseworker who says no and is looking out for our family (versus just trying to place a child and move on).
  • That descriptions of children, on TARE, do not include all the details. Sometimes even surprising our caseworker…
  • That there are not a lot of younger kids (ages 7 and younger) up for adoption online.

Bottom Line: We know that God has a child in mind for us. We just have to wait, trust, and talk, as a family, through the adoption process.

I’ll keep y’all updated. Maybe not so much in this Level One A stage… but more IF we make it to Level One B. Prayers are appreciated.

Bryan

On My Radar – Some Distant Memory – Announcement Trailer

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This looks like a perfect bedtime game.

Hundreds of years after the collapse of civilization, you are the Professor, an archaeologist searching for the sunken city of Houston. Helping you are the Commander, an explorer from another colony, and ARORA, an artificial intelligence built to help the survivors of the Collapse.

Detroit: Become Human

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My wife and I recently finished playing through Detroit: Become Human together. By the time the credits rolled:

  • Markus died.
  • North died.
  • Alice died.
  • Luthor died.
  • Hank lived.
  • Connor might as well be dead.
  • Kara made it across the finish line, alone.
  • Alice’s abusive father was given closure.

Decisions, slight choice variations, gave us a super sad ending. Our ending was so bad, that as the credits rolled, Tabitha and I were on Youtube watching other endings. I’m not sure I have ever done that for any other game.

Director David Cage likes to swing for the fences with his games. In Detroit: Become Human, I think he finally pieced together a coherent world with an unrelenting storyline. A story that grabbed my wife and I from the beginning… and didn’t let go. Detroit was the perfect summer game.

— Welcome to Spoiler Country —

I loved:

  1. The feeling of real consequence.
  2. The branching choice paths/story variations.
  3. Playing through the game with my wife. Our late night conversations about the story.
  4. Alice being given closure when her abusive dad shows up at the bus terminal (no, I didn’t kill him in the beginning).
  5. Kara making it to freedom.

Hillary Clinton is President in Detroit: Become Human

I disliked:

  1. The language. I felt like the f-word was used as emotional shorthand.
  2. How much I was made to dislike humanity. Humans are gross pigs! Only towards the end of the game were one or two humans given a chance to shine.
  3. Markus dying. I should have retreated from the police versus sacrificing Markus. Markus held Jericho together; he was the glue. Without Markus, the option for peace was removed and violence became the end game with new leader North.
  4. Connor dying.
  5. Alice dying. The foreshadowing that the river crossing into Canada being treacherous was true. Bullets kill androids too.

Freedom. Equality. The end of slavery for androids everywhere. In the closing moments of Detroit: Become Human, I was presented with two choices:

  • Suicide – In Detroit’s case, this equaled one last defiant act of freedom.
  • Slavery – Become a puppet leader, to an evil corporation, used to control the newly freed androids.

After spending hours with Connor, I struggled with these two choices. There was no way I was going to choose suicide… so I forever imprisoned Connor to his corporate masters. Tabitha looked at me, “Bryan!” I immediately wished I could go back and change that choice. Death was a better decision than eternal slavery. Instead, I let my human emotions enslave a person and a people. So much for all their blue blood spilled.

A Fresh Perspective

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A few weeks ago, Tabitha, Wyatt, and I had the chance to go and visit another local church. One of my brother-in-laws was speaking and there was no way we were going to miss that!

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

Stepping out of our own church context was refreshing! I loved how the church we visited gave time, during the service, to missionaries they support. We watched a video in which the missionaries gave an update on what has been going on with them. Their video reminded me that missionaries no longer have to feel so alone due to technology. That we can hear from them, stepping out of our local context, and get a picture of what is going on with the global church. I love this! Too often, I think, churches become too inner focused:

“What programs can we provide to bring people here.”

“If we build this THING, people will come to us.”

“If we have this meal, we can invite _________.”

Too often, we pull back into our comfort zones instead of pushing out and embracing others where they are; embracing those in our communities (outside our churches) and even those around the world through missionaries. I am thankful for the glimpse God gave me, in that “missions moment”, of the church abroad. Thankful for those Christians who act as the hands and feet of Christ where I cannot… but can through them.

I also loved the time of worship. I realize this is a personal preference, but I loved hearing hymns sung. I loved being able to sing without paying attention to octave changes and just pay attention to the lyrics. Reminded me that my background, growing up, was void of hymns. How I discovered the richness of them once I was in college. I want my son to love the hymns too (something I’m going to work on).

Tabitha and I have been talking for awhile now about taking a Sunday morning, when we are not serving, and visiting family at their respective churches. Stepping out of our familiar gave me a fresh perspective on the church as a whole, and my church as well. I can’t wait to do it again!

And yeah, my brother-in-law did a great job speaking too.

If you know of any resources on teaching hymns/hymn history to kids OR have any thoughts you’d like to share, drop them in the comments below. 

From Across the Net – “These Have Been Good Days, But Hard Times”

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But I both feel and know this: God is good. Though I have had some moments of self-pity, I don’t think I’ve had as much as one moment of doubting God’s goodness or kindness or noble plan. Though I can’t say I have any idea why I am going through this, I have never doubted that it is God’s will and that somehow it is good, even if I cannot quite see it. I have never doubted that somehow it is better than the alternative, even if I never see it on this side of eternity.

You can read more here

From Across the Net – “Hey Church: A Fallow Year Ain’t A Bad Idea”

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I liked this:

We look at the busy culture and rather than be counter-cultural to busy, in order to defang it in the long term by building non-busy practices into the lives of our people, we decide that we will allow the culture to set the rules of the game – busy, busy, busy- then play by their rules.

You can read more here

Quiet Wisdom – Looking Forward

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Photo by Joshua Allwood on Unsplash

I was having a rough time teaching Sunday school this past week. One of those times where I felt like a stranger in a group I’ve known 10+ years. The path of faith felt heavy, I was tired. In the midst of me fumbling through a lesson, one of the guys, who doesn’t talk too much, spoke up. He said (and I paraphrase):

As a high school coach, football practice has started back up. With the heat, no one wants to be there. He said as he watches the guys run down the field, he watches their heads, where they are looking. Many of the guys look around, making sure that they are keeping pace with others… instead of giving their all and running.

He said that we all do that as Christians. We focus too much on others, comparing, instead of looking forward and running the race.

And with that, God slapped me upside the head.

Are you looking forward or looking around?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. – Hebrews 12:1 (NLT)

Adoption Update – Congratulations!

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We received an email from our caseworker late yesterday (8/7/19). An email that began with:

Congratulations! Your home study has been approved.

Moving forward, I’m not sure where this leads us. But we have an tentatively scheduled appointment with our caseworker for the end of August. I’ll keep y’all updated.

Bryan

Adoption Update – We’ve Got Cabin Fever!

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If the Hall Family were a ship right now, I’d tell you that we are sailing through the doldrums. The wind has stopped blowing, and our adoption momentum has come to a stand still. We are waiting for the State of Texas to certify us as being able to adopt. Our caseworker, during her last visit, had made it seem like we would be certified quickly… and the weeks go on…

In the meantime, we have been asked to put together a book, a family brochure if you will. Our book will aid in helping Future Hall get to know us/transition into our family. Besides a few pending items, we are almost finished putting the book together.

If you are the praying sort, please pray that:

  • Our certification would be approved by the State8/8 Update: We are approved!
  • That our caseworker, with God’s help, would be able to find the right child for our family

Hopefully, as we wait for our next step, we won’t be writing/staging any elaborate productions. Then again, maybe a little bit of creativity would help us as we sail through the adoption doldrums. Until next time.

Bryan

From Across the Net – “I Opted Out of Facial Recognition at the Airport – It Wasn’t Easy”

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Photo by Keith Chan on Unsplash

Always interesting what we do not question in the name of convenience. Thankful for those who do question.

As I watched traveler after traveler stand in front of a facial scanner before boarding our flight, I had an eerie vision of a new privacy-invasive status quo. With our faces becoming yet another form of data to be collected, stored, and used, it seems we’re sleepwalking toward a hyper-surveilled environment, mollified by assurances that the process is undertaken in the name of security and convenience. I began to wonder: Will we only wake up once we no longer have the choice to opt out?

Until we have evidence that facial recognition is accurate and reliable—as opposed to simply convenient—travelers should avoid the technology where they can.

You can read more here

Lost the Plot

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In between craziness at work, change at church, and the unknown of adoption, I have to admit that I have been thinking a lot:

  • Reassessing my career (updating my resume)
  • Trying to figure out what God is saying after my church voted 93% in favor of our interim pastor
  • Wondering how long it will take to be placed with a child (we keep hearing 2 years)

With all these swirling thoughts, I got thinking about JohnnyBGamer. I love how the site has morphed into more of a personal blog for me. I especially need a place, right now, to work through thoughts and share ideas. But I got thinking about the idea for a gaming-based ministry, God gave me long ago. An idea that never included:

  • Articles on discernment
  • Answering questions such as: Can Christians do ____________?
  • Finding a spiritual bridge between whatever game I’m playing and connecting it back to a spiritual truth (no matter how weak the link)
  • Justifying why I’m playing (insert game here)

I think I got lost somewhere between the idea of being a combo of a Christian Gamespot mixed with what would later become GameChurch. Somewhere along the way, I got wrapped up in running a Christian video game Facebook group (which I stepped down from last year) and wanting to compete with GameChurch (which has since become something else). I forgot that God never called me to be this online thing. He always has shown me that it is more about building relationships than playing games. The games are simply a gateway to making friends and having a conversation. People are the focus.

I’m not sure what any of the above means moving forward. But I am thankful to be able to put into words what has happened over the years. I lost the plot.