Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The story of King David, which is the story of Jesus Christ, which is the story of the salvation of all humanity, begins with the story of Samuel; and the story of Samuel begins with the story of one unhappy, unlucky person named Hannah, who prayed to the Lord for her dearest desire; and, when she finally got it, gave it up out of gratitude for the God who heard her heart's wordless cry.
God? I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

December 25, 2012

Stayed up later than I have in Quite Some Time, finishing one last present. Slept in my clothes like a little kid. Headache like somebody's driving a stake between my temples.
Happy Christmas, my dears; and I hope everyone has a marvelous, blessed, happy, and issue-free day.
More to follow.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

An Unexpected Journey

Note: This is not a play on words, for once, I am actually talking about the Hobbit.

Firstly, I've discovered that I never want to go to another movie I actually care about at any showing BESIDES the midnight premier. Ever again. Because for years, I've been damaging my blood pressure over the fact that people sit stoically and unaffected in a theater, mindlessly consuming a masterpiece as if it was the world's job to entertain them, and leave without so much as putting their hands together a few times in honor of cast, writer, director, producer, or whatever a 'best boy' is. These people spent years of their lives and long, agonizing, sleepless nights into making the movie you just spent two hours watching, the least you could do is clap, right? (Can you tell I've got a pet peeve?). The midnight premier, however, is an entirely different story. People, like, care. Not only did they clap AFTER the movie, they clapped when the lights went down and the commercials started. They clapped at the opening credits. And they clapped, lo and behold, during the movie too. And cheered. And hooted. And so on. Whenever there was a particularly great scene. So, no more. If I don't make it opening night, I might just wait for the DVD from now on.

On the topic of the movie itself, I was completely blown away. It's difficult to find anything else to say. Peter Jackson and the lot have done it again, as far as I'm concerned. It was well imagined, well cast, and so on. Visually, it lived up to the expectations of viewers looking for the same level of excellence as the previous films. The writing was tight, picking up and cutting off (oh, that cliff hanger) at exactly the right points. The first film fills the role of setting the scene for the trilogy. Major characters, major conflict, enough character development to get things rolling. For readers of the book, it left off just before one would expect the introduction of Beorn (Mikael Persbrandt). I'm a little befuddled, and I'm sure I'm not the only one, over the decision to make three movies of one book. With that kind of pacing, The Lord of the Rings series could've taken up about ten movies (maybe then Tom Bombadil would've been welcome. Yes, I'm still sore about that.). I've heard it said that they wanted to give themselves the space to work artistically. Whether it was that or money, I guess, depends on how good the other two turn out.
"brighter, fresher color"
As an old (and third-generation) fan of Tolkein's works, and having read The Hobbit three times, I'd say it made the cut as far as faithfulness to the original. There were deviations from the original, but they were nice deviations. Sylvester McCoy's Radagast the Brown (nipped from Fellowship of the Ring, unless I'm mistaken) had heart and humor (though that might just be my love of hedgehogs talking). It's hard to say, after the first movie of a trilogy, whether the addition of Azog the white orc and the Necromancer was a good decision in the long run, but it was an understandable one, at least. It was a simple book, a kids' book. And as much as I would've loved to see this movie be simple and kid-friendly (and maybe with something less than a PG-13 rating), in order to be on caliber with the first three movies, it needed more conflict.
And there was some of the innocence and simplicity of the book, at least in comparison with the Lord of the Rings movie. A brighter, fresher color scheme, a lighter musical score, and altogether more light; plus everybody looked younger. Not sure how they managed it, when it's been ten years since Fellowship, but all the returning characters looked believably younger. Even Gollum (Andy Serkis) was a lighter, more likable character, as evidenced by the scattered bouts of laughter during the Riddles in the Dark scene, which may or may not've been the best part of the entire movie; and Ian McKellan returning as Gandalf made it all worth while.
As for dwarves, there were an awful lot of them. Far too many for each one to get a memorable character. There were moments when one would show up in a scene, and my thought was, "Alright, now they're just making this up, 'cause I know he wasn't there before." As for the ones that did get developed, you've got Thorin. Thorin has to be taller than the lot, and more intense. I'm not sold on Richard Armitage's performance yet (maybe I just need to watch it again), because in my mind, he was less tall and intense, more eye-candy and irritable. On the topic of eye candy, one wonders if he and Kili (Aiden Turner) exist to satisfy the Aragorn-and-Legolas corner of the market. Then you've got Bombur, who's usually stuffing something in his mouth. When he's not breaking furniture. It's okay, though. They've got two more movies to work on Dwarves. And then there's Bofur. Bofur, top, third-from-the-left, pretty blue eyes, funny hat, big smile. Just in that picture, he stands out, doesn't he? He stood out in the movie, too, just about stole the show. He was a little more down-to-earth, a little more complex. He had a scene, one-on-one with Bilbo, that I won't go into detail on for the sake of spoilers, but it was a spectacular performance. My favorite dwarf, hands down, and maybe my favorite character. And I swear to you, I didn't notice for a second that it was James Nesbitt. If I'd ever known he was in the movie, which I'm sure I must've, I'd forgotten it entirely, and I didn't notice it. I loved him in the dual title role of Steven Moffet's Jekyll miniseries. Jekyll stole your heart and Hyde was utterly despicable. It's got to say something about his acting (or maybe just the make-up department) that I've loved his work before, but didn't recognize him.
When I say he almost stole the show, I do only mean almost. Because it was almost impossible to watch anybody else when Bilbo was on the screen. And not in the way of the gaggle of girls who sat in front of us (and I quote, "I don't even really want to see this movie. I'm just here for Martin Freeman." Further eavesdropping confirmed that they were Sherlock fans.) I'm with Peter Jackson in the opinion that he was the only choice for Bilbo. The slightly bumbling, big-hearted everyman who's yet do discover his real strength. It's Freeman's niche, but that didn't make it repetive or predictable. It was an absolutely gorgeous performance. I've still got goosebumps.
There's much to look forward to, with this series. Characters and relationships, conflicts, villains. It'll be a treat to see more of the Necromancer than a growling shadow and more of Smaug than a tail, an eye, or a nostril (Benedict Cumberbatch, in both cases). I'm a little worried, of course; will it feel anything but belaboured by the third movie? But I'm on my toes for next Christmas, nonetheless.

My Classics Club List

Official list, subject to change/grow (hey, you never know).
Start Date: 12/21/12 (Yes, intentionally. I'm being ironic.)
End Date: 12/21/17, I guess. We'll see. May introduce some sort of positive/negative reinforcement system on myself.
Okay, so, as I worked, this list went from fifty to fifty-four, which is, I guess, okay. Gives me some wiggle room. This is going to be a useful project, let me clear away some major goals. Hit everything I managed to skip in high school (a lot of Dickens, came into my love for his work a bit late). Work through a few books I've never liked, finish some books I've started (and loved) but never managed to finish. Sample some authors I've never actually sat down and read. Some of it, old favorites and stuff I know I'll love, is on here mostly as an indulgent treat for myself. To those ends, this is a pretty varied list, I'll try to mix it up. There are some books here I'm ashamed to admit I've never read, but one might as well be honest when one can, I guess.

Books (re-reads indicated with an *, partial reads with **):

High School Clearing-up:
1. Oliver Twist**, Charles Dickens
2. Great Expectations**, Charles Dickens
3. A Christmas Carol**, Charles Dickens
4. The Grapes of Wrath**, John Steinbeck
5. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain
6. Walden and Civil Disobedience (mostly slept through those)*, Thoreau
7. Macbeth, Shakespeare
8. Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad

Things I'd Maybe Ought to Have Read Already
9. Animal Farm, George Orwell
10. 1984, George Orwell
11. Farenheit 451**, Ray Bradbury
12The Lord of the Rings**, J. R. R. Tolkein
13. Dracula, Bram Stoker
14. Le Morte d'Arthur**, Thomas Mallory
15. The Call of the Wild**, Jack London
16. Slaughterhouse 5, Kurt Vonnegut
17. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
18. Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
19. Around the World in Eighty Days, Jules Verne
20. Little Women**, Louisa May Alcott
21. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
22. Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe
23. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
24. Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes
25. Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane
26: The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank
27. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum

"Indulgent Treats"
28. The Complete Sherlock Holmes**, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
29. A Tale of Two Cities*, Charles Dickens
30. The Picture of Dorian Grey, Oscar Wilde
31. Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters AND Seymour: An Introduction, J. D. Salinger
32. Nine Stories, J. D. Salinger
33. Love's Labours Lost, Shakespeare
34. The Silmarilion, J. R. R. Tolkein
35. Sanditon**, Jane Austen
36. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
37. Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald
38. The Poems of John Keats, John Keats
39. Lust for Life**, Irving Stone
40. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce
41. Three Men on the Bummel, Jerome K. Jerome

Just Because/Possibly a Little Optomistic/Other
42. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
43. To The Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
44. A Room of One's Own, Virginia Woolf
45. Agnes Grey, Anne Bronte
46. Shirley, Charlotte Bronte
47. A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess
48. Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux
49. The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas
50. Middlemarch, George Eliot
51. The Time Machine, H. G. Wells
52. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
53. The Agony and the Ecstasy, Irving Stone
54. Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card

The Classics Club

I've been meaning to do this for a while, never seem to have the time. But I'm leaving in three weeks, and I want to have it done by then.
For anybody who doesn't know, The Classics Club is, well, here's a handy little quote from their blog: "The Classics Club is a club created to inspire people to read and blog about classic books. There’s no time limit to join and you’re most welcome, as long as you’re willing to sign up to read and write on your blog about 50+ classic books in at most five years. The perk is that, not only will you have read 50+ incredible (or at the very least thought-provoking) works in five years, you’ll get to do it along with all of these people."
So, essentially, five years, fifty books, with reviews posted here, my personal blog. I think I can do that. Five years is a really freaking long time from now, and I have no idea at all where I'll be or what I'll be doing in five years, but I'm game for trying.
I'm mostly doing this to make sure I keep reading. Because the next nine months are going to be really busy for me, and it might be easy to let things like that, things that are so important to me, die away. I want to keep me, and the things I do in in my me time. I want to keep my eyes on the eventual college-bound, "High School English Teacher" goal. This'll be good for that.
Technically speaking, I should do about ten books this year. I might not have that kind of time. I'm gonna shoot for a minimum of three, and if I have to play catch-up when I finally come home (wherever home is by then), so be it. Que sera sera.
I like the idea of signing up to be a part of something bigger than just me (didn't mean for that to sound deep); it'll keep me accountable, to a degree. Make sure I ACTUALLY do this reading thing. That sounds nice. Better than just posting a reading list here all by my onesie and trying to keep up with it. My one hesitation, though, about joining the official Classics Club is that it's a community. Lots of bloggers talking to each other, sharing a love of the classics. This sounds awesome. However, I'm already not sure I'm even going to have time to keep up with my personal blogs, social networking, etc. I don't know how often I'll have access to the internet. Or a computer. It's all a little unpredictable. So, as much fun as featured posts and weekly group round-ups and read-a-thons sound, I really don't think I'll be able to be an active, participating member of this community. I feel really bad about that. But I think I'd rather go for it and try my best rather than not try at all. Hopefully my efforts will be met with understanding. Don't know how it'll go, but worth a shot, right?
Here's hoping! Official entry post/list to follow. :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

On the Organizing of One's Internets

So, I've been using the internet for, rather a long time. Made a facebook in January, 2009; posted my first blog post here in April of the same. Long time. Joined inkpop around the same time, and when it transferred to Figment, so did I.
Towards the beginning, I didn't really have a plan. New blog idea? Make a new Google account. You want my real name? Sure, here you go. Who would want to go looking for me? What harm could it do? Lose your Twitter password again? Just make a new account! Didn't think my usernames through, didn't occur to me that I might not eventually love these book or television characters enough to want to be called by their names on the internet. And, never dreamt of the inconvenience going by a billion different names could cause when you want to connect with the same group of people across more than one website. Basically, I made a royal mess, with more email addresses, passwords, and usernames than anyone should need. Managed to keep up with it all for this long, but no longer.
Because, here lately, it's been driving me nuts. On top of Facebook and Blogger and Figment, there's the other writing website for fanfiction, the joys of Tumblr, and all the different uses for Twitter. Plus, Google accounts started linking up with Google+ accounts, which one doesn't really want more than one of, especially not in one's own name, largely because, like I've always said, I don't really want people I know reading this blog!
It was time for a change, and I knew it, but the final straw was when the email address I've been using since I was thirteen went defunct. That was when I HAD to do something. So I spent the better part of a day reading Google help articles, combing through Youtube histories, arguing with Google Drive over letting me have my files, getting into ancient accounts to change email addresses and usernames; and by the end of the day I'd deleted four various accounts and organized everything into two very neat ones.
Why two? Because I'm about to be a missionary. Missionaries, as a rule, need some kind of support; and nothing helps support along like emotionally compelling blogs and twitter feeds about, well, what I'm up to (bonus points if you're a fantastic photographer and post pictures of the grinning faces of children you've been ministering to). I know that sounds cynical, but it's just the truth. I need to be track-able, to a certain extent, by people in my real life, and I have to have a way keep them updated with what I'm doing. So, the real me now has an internet presence, woohoo.
However, I don't want everything to happen under that 'me.' I still want to keep my writing and my Tumblring, as well as this, my personal blog, separate from all of that! Thus, person number two was born. The screen name that's been slowly taking over that side of my internet usage, is the name that I'm posting under now: Zoie. It's the pen-name I use on every writing website, every just-for-fun website that I've got a profile on. So, from now on, it's the name I'm posting under here, as well.
Thanks for your patience as I've been trying to figure this all out, for your indulgence as I try to change this from a fourteen-year-old drama queen's rantings, to a proper, grown-up blog-about-things, and your tolerance as I try to figure out just what, exactly, I want to call myself.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Public Service Announcement

So...NaNoWriMo starts in two hours.
For the record, I might not be blogging much over the course of the next thirty days. Then again, I might be blogging more than usual. Procrastination is a lovely thing.
Do feel free to join me, though. There should be a link to the home site on that > side of this post. Or, alternately, the young writer's program for young people. Also, follow @NaNoWriMo and @NaNoWordSprints, as well as the #NaNoWriMo hashtag on twitter for to-the-minute updates, and read the Office of Letters and Light (the nonprofit behind NaNo) blog for inspiration. Figment's got an official Figgie-Wrimo group; and the NaNoWriMo forums are endlessly helpful and supportive. Also, feel free to look me up on either website, Figment or NaNoWriMo, username Zoie Gale. If the thought of participating in this psychotic thirty-day mad-dash for 50k has even crossed your mind, do it. No, seriously, do it. You'll be glad you did. I've never once regretted it. If it's nothing else, it's a whole lot of fun, and it's not too late to sign up. :)
Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I'm gonna go snag a couple hours sleep before locking myself in the bathroom and converting the bathtub into a writing haven.


I stepped out my door about five minutes ago, after about two day straight of hiding from Sandy, and realized that the seasons had changed while I'd been inside. Leaves were whipping across the street in a chilly breeze. It's.....fall! One does have to be careful about blinking, doesn't one?
And it's not only Fall, It's Halloween. So this is what started running through my brain:

By Harry Behn

Tonight is the night
When dead leaves fly
Like witches on switches
Across the sky,
When elf and sprite
Flit through the night
On a moony sheen.

Tonight is the night
When leaves make a sound
Like a gnome in his home
Under the ground,
When spooks and trolls
Creep out of holes 
Mossy and green.

Tonight is the night
When pumpkins stare
Through sheaves and leaves
When ghouls and ghost 
And goblin host
Dance round their queen.
It's Halloween.

Memorized that one ages ago, but had forgotten most of it. I had to look it up, and I'd completely forgotten the poet's name. 
Also, the subject of ghouls and ghost and goblin host, go and download Neil Gaiman's super-creepy (and also free) audiobook 'Click-Clack the Rattlebag' before it's too late. Today's your last day. It's magnificent.
There'll probably be a post following this one later, another Halloween post, about the adventure of taking Riley trick-or-treating and hunting for Whovians in our sleepy little neighborhood, but, for the moment, Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

There and Back Again

So that Texas thing I was talking about? Totally happening. The urban mission where I applied to be a semester missionary liked the look of my application and accepted me, I'll be headed out first part of January.
First thought: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Second thought: I've got so much to do. This isn't a two-week missions trip with Global Expeditions. This is a nine-month commitment, and it takes a lot more effort. There's plane tickets to worry about, I've got to figure out the sweet spot of what clothes and stuff to take with me and what to buy there for optimum budget-friendly-ness, there's the question of piecing together my wardrobe (which is currently mostly in boxes in my grandmother's garage an hour away). And I have to have my plane ticket, to know what airline I'm flying with, to know the baggage allowances, to know how much I can take with me. Ugh.
There's the question of living arrangements. My room and board are covered, mostly, but I've got no idea where I'll be staying (and then there's the question of roommates and host families that very much affects what kind of stuff I'll need).
I'm also working to pull together a cook-book for myself of all those home-recipes I don't want to be without. Andrew and Daddy have agreed to record some guitar-ey stuff for me to put on my iPod to take with me.
I also have this sort of half-formed plan of organizing and streamlining my internet stuff for maximum convenience. The one thing I know about the time I'll spend there is that I'm going to be, well, rather busy. But I'd still like to keep up this, my personal blog, fairly faithfully; as well as start another (similar to the one I kept before/during/after my missions trip summer before last) for missions-specific stuff that's family/friends/real-life friendly, and maybe some kind of twitter-feed-ticker for both of them for updating on the go. This might take doing.

The one thing I have to keep hanging onto, even when plan and specifics threaten to take over my brain, is that this is God's will for my life right now. I need to remember to rest in that. Because it's a feeling I never, ever want to lose. Being in the center of God's will. It's nice.

Also, hope everybody's warm and dry and safely out of the angry clutches of Sandy McFrankenstorm. I know we had a bit of downed-power-line excitement last night. I also know that that's nothing compared to a lot of other places. My prayers are with everybody who lost family, friend, livelihood, home, or so on.

200th Post!!

So, erm, woohoo! :)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Lust for Life

(Post title being a reference to the biographical novel, bearing the same title, of the life of Vincent van Gogh, written by Irving Stone)

 I've been thinking about Vincent van Gogh. And about sunflowers. About how he's the reason that I love sunflowers. Because they make me think of the person I'd like to be. I'd like to be the sort of person who would've stood by him. I'd like to think I would've stood by him. Because he was spectacular, even though he was different and difficult and tragic. He deserved to have somebody stand by him, just one person to take his hand when the rest of the world turned their backs on him, to make his life better and brighter when it was dark, to give him hope and strength and quiet the demons in his head. And that's the person I'd like to be. I'd like to love the different and the difficult, and to be able to see the spectacular in the different and the difficult. 

I've been thinking of Vincent van Gogh. You know he started out his life wanting to be a missionary? His whole heart wanted to serve God and help people, and he was so willing to give up what he was born for to do it. He wound up in a mining town, trying to preach hope and redemption to people who had literally no way out, and he made himself sick trying to help them, gave them everything he had, down to the shirt on his back, to try and make their lives better. And he just saw too much of pain and hurt to go on believing in a good God. And then these people, the mission board, decided that he wasn't good enough to do what he was doing, and that was enough to make him snap, to turn his back on God. I've wondered why God would let that happen to someone who loved Him and only wanted to serve Him, but then I kind of realized: it took snapping and turning away from God for him to make a selfish decision. Without that, he never would've chosen to do what made him happy for the rest of his life. Cause he didn't paint for anyone else, not a soul ever told him that was he was doing was good, was worth it. He did it because he loved it. And think of what the world gained because of it? Maybe God let him go, pushed him away, to let him do what he was born to do, and to give the world a gift. Maybe what we think of as the selfish decision, can sometimes be the most beautiful thing of all.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

New Beginnings

Maybe a bit of explanation is in order. Maybe I should stop quibbling and come out with the honest truth. Our landlords evicted us from our lovely little house, stating "a new business venture" as their only reason. With an utter lack of other options, we moved in with my father's parents. This has been a mixed bag of good and bad things.
Because my father's parents' home is an hour away from our previous home and our home church, we had to take our leave of the church that's been more than a home and more than a family to me for the last four years. 
They gave us a reception after church a week ago today, featuring a laying-on-of-hands, a tie-dyed cake, and a lot of tearful goodbyes. I never realized people I'd known for so short a time could mean so much to me. I never realized it would be like pulling out a part of myself to say goodbye. I never realized the impact they'd had on me, or I on them, or how important it is to say everything you need to say. I feel like there are some things I left unsaid. But Brandon hugged me goodbye and Stephen would've if I'd let him. Corinne cried and made me cry; and Joy stood next to me the whole entire time talking about almost nothing, pretending her husband wasn't itching to leave. And then I cried myself into a piercing headache on the way home and slept for most of the afternoon and that was a week ago today.
This morning I got up and dressed like a person and we all piled into the car and drove to a brick building five minutes down the road. It's a new church, a church plant, meeting in a very old, pews-and-vaulted-ceilings building. I know what that feels like.
As wrong as it might be, I'm tired. I didn't want to go. But I did.


Pull in the driveway. Conspicuous. Surprised face in the parking lot. I know the thought process. Are they lost? No, they're coming here. Wonder how many? Will they come back? Quick, smile. Shake hands.
Where should we park? Is this okay? Shuffle through the door. Smile. Shake hands. Forget their names as quickly as they forget mine.
             "I'll never remember them all. I might ask again."
Table of donuts. Juice and coffee. Awkward laugh at an awkward joke. Oh, look, the praise band. Skinny jeans. Boots and scarf. Jacket's too tight. Beard and button up, hipster Jesus. Fitted t-shirt, worship leader. Smile. Shake hands.
Find a pew. Did we steal someone else's? No, no dirty looks. Stand and sing. Don't know the tunes, easy enough to guess.  They're clapping. Can I clap? Do I have the right? Clap and sing a song I don't know. Keep on beat. Words. Worship words. I want to worship. My feet want to move. My hands want to rise. Can I worship? Do I have the right?
Familiar words touch old hurts. Not ready for this yet. Still sore. Sing. Worship. Don't think too hard. Don't cry. Not a good time to cry. 
             "And then we'll have a time of meet and greet."
Sinking feeling. Shake hands. Forget names. Smile. People are the same everywhere. 
Communion. Will they let us take? Should we take? Okay, pass the plate, don't spill. Wait? Don't wait? Don't wait.
Offering. Wish I could give something. Wish I weren't broke. Wish somebody wasn't broke.
           "And the conclusion of our series on David..."
My luck. Just my luck. Last of a series. This always happens to me. Psalm 23. I can do Psalm 23. Oh, it's the sheep sermon. And he has a lisp. They all have a lisp. Little church laugh at sermon jokes. Take notes. Smile.

Closing song. Shake hands. Smile.  
          "Hope we see you again."
And all the while, my eyes like magnets to the plaque in the corner.
El-Roi. The God Who Sees Me.
Hagar's name for God. My name for God.
My God.
My God is the same here as He has been everywhere else I've ever been.
My God is here.
My God sees me.
My God.
Don't think too hard. Don't cry. Not a good time to cry. 


Friday, October 5, 2012

Stuff and Things

Hi, all. Rather than having bunches of posts about various things I've watched, seen, read, or listened to, I'm gonna try and clear it all away in one post. Will try to keep it from being too terribly long. Here goes.
~~Harry Potter. Finally watched ALL the movies. Yes, I know, I'm severely behind the times. Not sure what I have to say about them, beyond that I enjoyed every single second of it. And that Snape might be the single most heart-wrenching, provocative character ever. Period. And express my general what-the-heck-ness about that whole Ron-and-Hermione thing. I can't be the only one, can I? Maybe this just shows my ignorance, and maybe I should shut up and read the books before I make judgments (and, really, I'm meaning to. You know, whenever I have a spare MONTH just lying around); but I would've rather seen Harry and Hermione.
~~Doctor Who. As in, is back. Season seven. *explodes*
For the sake of sparing you spoilers in case you haven't seen it, I won't go into particulars (except that, when it comes to Angels Take Manhattan, have a couple hundred boxes of tissues at the ready). Actually, this might have to be a post of its own. Merp. :/
~~Sherlock. In case you didn't know, season two has been added to the Netflix streaming library (so no more waiting around at the bottom of waiting lists for the dvds to be free). Very convenient for any American fans out there who have not already used proxies or piracy to watch it online. Anybody who was patient enough to wait ten months. Person I am describing, if you actually exist, I salute you.
~~Ophelia. Young adult novel by Lisa Klein. Can be found here (Amazon). It's a retelling of the story of Hamlet, from, predictably, Ophelia's point of view. I love some of the grey areas it clears up, for all that it took quite a few drastic liberties; and Ophelia is a much more sympathetic character in this version, which is nice. Plus, it's got an utterly gorgeous ending, visually and story-wise, that was absolutely worth reading the entire novel. Again, spoilers. Read the book.
~~Hugo. As in, finally watched. Picked it up at the library (Oh my. A library system that has dvds. O brave new world!). Gorgeous plot, gorgeous casting, gorgeous score, great cinematography. I'm utterly in love. And it's steampunk! Why wasn't I told that it was steampunk?
~~Jeeves and Wooster. The Granada, Hugh-Laurie-and-Stephen-Fry version. Also a library find. You know how sometimes, you read a book and you've got these pictures of the characters in your head, and then you watch the movie and they just get it completely wrong? Well, this isn't one of those times. Hugh Laurie IS Bertie Wooster (which is kind of crazy when you think of him as House. Could you get a more polar opposite?). And Hugh Laurie, then 31, reminds me decidedly of another tall, skinny, blue-eyed British 30-something. Wildly ironic, because he played this person's dad on another tv series, Fortysomething. Funny how things work out.
~~The Graveyard Book. Neil Gaiman. Yes, I know, again, behind the times. But I can't not mention it, because I absolutely loved it. You know how sometimes a book becomes a part of the way you think? This one's going to stick with me for a while. Favorite quotes:
“Bod said, 'I want to see life. I want to hold it in my hands. I want to leave a footprint on the sand of a desert island. I want to play football with people. I want,' he said, and then he paused and he thought. 'I want everything.”
“He would go somewhere no one knew him, and he would sit in a library all day and read books and listen to people breathing.”
I feel like that sometimes. I don't want to deal with people, I just want to go e near people and feel like a person.
~~Once Upon a Time. The ABC series. Only mildly entertaining, yet strangely addictive. Curse you, mediocre television, for worming inside my head and not letting me go. Stuck watching season 1 on Netflix because we're not caught up enough to watch season 2 on live tv. *shakes fists*
~~Babel. As in, the new Mumford & Sons cd. I've read mixed reviews on it, seen it accused of being disingenuous, and I'll concede that they've found something that works and stuck to it with their second album, and that the album version of Below My Feet is nowhere near as good as the version that leaked a few months ago; but their music is every bit as good, and the emotions feel every bit as true, in Babel as they did in Sigh No More. The massive sales numbers alone tell you that this band's still got it.  But don't let me decide for you, check out my youtube playlist of the cd. For Those Below and Reminder being my favorite songs, with Babel and I Will Wait tied for second.
And, last but not least...
~~Elementary. First off, let me just say...
I am ashamed.
I just knew I should've waited until I saw it to say anything about it. I should've guessed I'd wind up eating humble pie. Johnny Lee Miller brings this sort of manic, puppy-dog, I-need-you-to-like-me energy to the title character, to the point that he's almost unrecognizable (and definitely nothing at all like Cumberbatch's version). I don't love the Watson (not because of gender or race, but because of some other things they changed). But I do like the show. It will, at the very least, tide me over until Sherlock comes back. But, un-canon as it (unarguably) is, I it. It's...cute. Incredibly cute. Come on, that last scene? Watson's a Mets fan? And the Elvis Costello, Watching-The-Detectives outro? Utterly adorable. And funny. Sherlock (the tv show), for all that it's worlds better, is almost never funny. As much as it pains me to say it, I was wrong. And I'm quite looking forward to episode two. :)

Aaaand, I think that's it. Forgive the mile-long post!


For a couple of weeks now, I've been sitting here with this sort of dull, throbbing guilt. "I should blog. I should probably blog." I know it's been a while.
But see, my laptop finally kicked the bucket. Went to meet its maker. Shuffled off this mortal coil. But you get the picture. So it's either been steal an ipod from a brother, kill my back at our wildly inconvenient home computer, or try and battle my sister's laptop (which is a very little bit healthier than my own). Really, doing anything internet-related hasn't been easy these days.
Which isn't a good thing at all with NaNoWriMo coming up. I still haven't worked out how I'm going to manage, but I'll figure it out. And I've got my lovely story idea, have laid in a supply of fine black teas, have cleared my schedule, have several pages of notes and research, and have attached myself to a NaNo Newbie as their *ahem* "mentor." Which means lots and lots of guilt if I run screaming from the whole crazy idea, or don't keep my word count up, or don't quite make it to 50,000. Guilt can be a lovely motivator.
Found out this morning that I did not in fact win the Defy the Dark contest. I had, of course, seen that coming; but that doesn't mean I wasn't disappointed. In fact, I was. Especially considering that the person who placed third took the same subject I did (swamps in the American South), and did it better. But I gave it my best shot, and maybe I'll do better next time. Love that hypothetical "next time."
The good news is, I've got lots of time to spend on my writing right now, as I don't actually have that much to do. Or, really, anything. Breakfast dishes and sweeping the floor, and then for the better part my days are my own.
For the record, I hate it. Lovely as it is to have time to do what I will, the slow, creeping uselessness is starting to get to me. I've been reading a lot of books, mostly YA fiction, which is always a slightly depressing pastime. And writing, which is cool. But the good news is, it probably isn't going to last.
Now, I feel like I can say this here, because a very few people I know read this blog, and most of them already know, but it's far from public knowledge amongst my friends and relatives yet, and I'd like it to stay that way, at least until I know for sure.
I will probably be moving to Texas in January. Not my family, just me. The group I volunteered with when I went on my missions trip last summer has a semester internship program that includes room and board. And as much as I was wildly looking forward to attending community college and holding down a part-time job, somehow this missions thing feels right. So I'm pursuing it. I've got an application in right now (that includes a frighteningly honest testimony and sort of about-me thing), and I'm waiting to hear back from the gentleman in charge of the semester volunteers. And unless that response consists of, "No way, you are absolutely 100% wrong for our mission and would you please run in the opposite direction as quickly as possible;" this feels like it's going to happen.
Fingers crossed and whatnot, pretending not to be mind-numbingly nervous.
And, I think that's essentially it. Might follow this up with a "media I have consumed recently" style post.
Have an epic Friday!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dark Knight Rises OR How to Get a Literature Nerd to Watch A Superhero Movie

I meant to write this quite a long time ago. As in, day we came home from the movie theater. Turns out, that didn't happen, but oh well.

I'm not usually a fan of superhero movies. Didn't like Hulk. The Spiderman saga got old after the first movie, avoided Iron Man just because Robert Downey Jr. Neither Captain America nor Thor had plots. Yet to see the Avengers, but, with the exception of Loki, I'm not all that interested. Any that I've missed just didn't even hit my radar.
It's been different with the Batman trilogy, a bit. There's a level of emotional complexity that caught my attention. And,  Heath Ledger's Joker was nothing short of inspired. But, even knowing that, when we went to the theater the other night, I would've rather seen Brave. Love a Pixar, me. But the siblings wanted to see Dark Knight Rises, and I'm usually up for anything.
So here's the thought process:
Sat about ten rows ahead of Mum and Dad and Riley with the two older siblings, the really excited ones, clapped for The Hobbit trailer, even though I'd seen it, much to their embarrassment. Looper looks really good, as does Red Dawn. Wow, is that Josh from Drake and Josh? He got older. The Expendables 2. Chuck Norris, Sylvester Stalone, and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the same movie? Yikes. Then, finally, the movie came on.
Christian Bale has a lisp. You can't hear it, but you can see it, especially because for half the movie, his mouth is the only thing you can see. And I'd half-expected to spend the entire movie stuck on that fact.
And then, Tom Hardy. Is that Tom Hardy? He can't be Tom Hardy. His voice sounds really funny. Oh, my. That is Tom Hardy. Is there such a thing as a better actor than Tom Hardy? I don't think they exist.
So there I am, mildly entertained. Ann Hatheway was such an obvious choice for Cat Woman, but still utterly perfect. Neat little love triangle, her, Batman, and the other chick.
And then it hits me. The French Revolution. This movie is the French Revolution. Lower-to-middle class taking back their town from the corrupt, decadent upper class. Gorgeous historical allusions, lots of socio-political implications for our own time, Vive la Revolution, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, and all that. It was a bold move for a movie to make right now, and a classy one for a movie to make ever. The history buff in me was enjoying herself.
The literature nerd in me had just read A Tale of Two Cities.
So in the end (avoiding specifics for the sake of spoilers), by that graveside, with that reading, and the, "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known," I almost exploded. Actually, I started clapping, again to Anne and Andrew's embarrassment, but whatever.
And then the movie's over and, as usual, nobody besides my family claps. Seriously, it's like people just think they're entitled to this excellent piece of art that so many artists spent years of their lives perfecting. Whatever.
And then we get out of the theater and I'm grinning and babbling and "But, Daddy, that was Sydney Carton's last soliloquoy from Tale of Two Cities, that thing that they read there at the end, I can show you, I've got the book in the car," faster than either of my parents felt like keeping up with. I did actually have the book in the car, by the way. And I proceded to read the last page aloud. 
So, gorgeous movie, on acting and writing and casting and special effects and all of that; but that ending? THAT, Hollywood, is how you get a Literature Nerd to Love a Superhero Movie.
Also, for the record, I saw that No-THIS-is-the-real-bad-guy twist coming a good five minutes before anybody else. Just saying. ;)

Magic Mike

Here's me taking the conservative viewpoint for once...I'm frankly disgusted with this movie. With it's general existance, with the content, with everything about it. I should even apologize for using a picture in this post, but this was the least obscene one I could find.
And while we're being frank, Magic Mike qualifies as cinema about as much as Fifty Shades of Gray (another pet peeve of mine) qualifies as literature; namely, it doesn't. In both cases, a thin plot line and poor writing act as a framework for cheap erotica or bad porn. This. Is. Not. Art.
Now, I'm not advocating some sort of official boycott, not preaching censorship in the name of Christ. The world is going to create these things, I'm aware of that, and I accept that.
What I'm not willing to accept, however, is watching my Christian sisters flocking towards this piece of cinema for lack of a better word. I'm genuinely shocked, and saddened, and frustrated, and frankly disgusted. I just can't believe that they can in good conscience consume such an obscene piece of entertainment. When we're supposed to set an example and hold ourselves "in the world but not of it," and strive to be holy as He is holy, and set our thoughts on "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right," and et cetera. I just don't get it.
I'm not trying to point fingers, I know I have my hangups. I do! I could list them off to you, and I'm far from proud of them. But intentionally (and driving to a theater and purchasing a movie ticket seems pretty intentional to me) seeking out one's hangups is not how to deal with them. Keeping out of temptations way is how to deal with those hangups. And sitting in a darkened movie theater subjecting myself to two-and-a-half hours of male strippers does not smack of avoiding temptation of me.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Defy the Dark - Redux

Back and ready for the flailing. 
Since we last spoke, I've been back over the piece, stripped out twenty-eight more words to be within the 4,000 word limit, tagged, published, and entered the story, and refreshed my page on Figment about five-million times hoping for reviews.
Not that they matter, 'cause it's not a heart-hogging popularity contest this time (not to be rude, I promise). The powers that be have sworn to read every single entry, which is nice. And, while peer reviews are great, I'm not allowed to edit a single word of the prose. So no matter how glaring a grammar error somebody points out, I can't go fix it. Still, affirmation, you know.
The actual writing of the piece was a roller coaster. As great as the prompt was ("It's not about the darkness, it's about who we are when we defy it," or something like that), I had ABSOLUTELY no inspiration. I went through about thirty useless ideas I didn't care about before deciding to go back to the beginning, use a little bit of ALL the ideas, and just throw something together.
So then I spent three days on Nana's couch (still haven't covered the living-with-Nana thing, have I?) tapping it out. Four-thousand words later, here I sit. I wrote through mind-numbing frustration, a darling little cousin who I love very very much but who didn't exactly help the focusing idea ("Whatchya doin? Are you STILL writing? Don't you want to play a game?"), sharing a room with a brother who wants all lights, laptop included, off at ten-thirty, a blinding, teeth-hurting headache, a pulled muscle in my side, Mum ("You haven't done anything all day!"), my own self telling me it wasn't worth it and wasn't any good and that I had no chance. Twitter and Tumblr (I think I updated my Twitter about fifty times) were both a help and a hindrance: standing at the ready when it got to be too much and I needed a break, but also standing at the ready to distract me when I felt like procrastinating. I think I skipped upwards of six meals and lived mostly on tea (new, lovely, loose-leaf tea, bahaha). I even survived a college-themed melt-down, and kept on writing, can you believe it?
I wouldn't have survived it without White Noise Radio, Write or Die, Edit Minion, Owl City, or my frightfully long Youtube music playlist. The internets must love me.
And, now it's done, and I'm about to gnaw my arm off waiting for the results. I know I'm just one name in upwards of a thousand; the chances of my winning are, shall we say, negligible. But, fingers crossed anyway!
You wanna know what's funny? I'm all of a sudden wildly looking forward to NaNoWriMo.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Defy the Dark

Quickly and without details posting my entry for the defy the dark contest. Will give full griping, chattering, and generally carrying on.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

White Noise

I've found my lifeline when it comes to writing in a house with eleven people. And it's right here, at
Actually, I like the brown noise option better, but either way, it's lovely. None of the distraction of music (which, yes, can be a distraction if you can procrastinate like I can), but all of the noise-blocking goodness. Even great with my broken headphone jack (stuff still plays out the main speakers even with the headphones plugged in), 'cause it's background-ish and everybody just thinks it's my dinosaur laptop constantly running it's fan, which is a thing that is normal. I've cranked out almost two-thousand words today, to a story that's been giving me loads of trouble. (Which is great, because it's my Defy the Dark contest entry, which is due in like three days. Yes, not done yet. Yes, I'm pushing it. Shut up.)
Only downside is, when you take the headphones out, the real world feels terrible quiet and odd, like when you're used to sleeping with a fan and then, for some reason, you can't. But other than that, lovely.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Well, Procrastination...

Which is really no excuse for how lax I've been about blogging lately. But there's stuff going on and I'm largely hiding inside my own head and feeling under-motivated; so I haven't felt like doing anything so self-aware as blog. Even though blogging is what I usually do when I'm procrastinating. So now I'm procrastinating my procrastination. Except that now, I don't feel like it. I'm hiding from hiding inside my head. So either I've quit procrastinating, or I'm procrastinating procrastinating . . . procrastinating.

And on that note . . . goodnight.

Man, that was annoying.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ladybugs and Sunflowers

(with my lovely little cousin)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sad Songs

Check it! In honor of Owl City's new record, releasing tomorrow, here, for your listening pleasure, is Adam Young's Tumblr, on which three of the most recent posts are demos of brand-spanking-new (i.e., newer than the new record) Owl City songs. Also, Adam Young is writing sad songs. Whyyy is he writing sad songs?

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Firstly, blogging on Riley's iPod. Because of reasons. Moving reasons. Not fun.
Secondly, it has occurred to me that my two-hundredth blog post is coming up soon (!!!!!). And I wanted to pose the question: what should I do to celebrate? Mum is advocating a sort of a recap of my favorite past blog posts, and while I'm not opposed to the idea, I am still open to suggestions?
Aaand, lastly, I'm getting a pretty sustained two or three hits a week from somewhere in Russia. Are you a real person? Because Daddy is relatively convinced that all of my non-US hits are from some sort of web-trolling robot thingy (okay, he said it more intelligently. He might have used the word spider? Which I am even less comfortable with. I'm ssscared of spiders.) But if you happen to be a real person, could you be so kind as to comment, just once? Just a word or two, or, like, a punctuation mark or something. Actually, that could go for everyone. If you are not Reese or Annie or another regular commenter, could you in some way confirm to me that you actually exist? I would rather appreciate it. :)
Okay. I think that's everything. Now to check my work and make sure there are no awkward autocorrect mishaps.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Ohhh, I should blog...

Kinda don't feel like it, though. And having a difficult time coming up with anything to blog about.
I could talk about how we still don't know when or where we're actually moving, or where I'm going to be living and what I'm going to be doing abouuuut a week from tomorrow. But I don't feel like it.
I could talk about going to lunch and window-shopping at the frilly French antique shop with Grandma yesterday.
I could hazard an opinion on a sticky socio-political topic, like how this stupid Chick-fil-a thing is NOT a freedom of speech issue (believe me, if it was, I would be involved) and how no thank you, Mr. Huckabee, I will not be joining my fellow Christians in assembling en masse to "Eat Mor Chikin."
I could pick a piece of media I've consumed here lately and tell you exactly what I thought about it, but somehow I've not found the time to be reading right now; and the only things I've watched recently are Star Trek: Next Generation, the newest season of Falling Skies, and that silly Captain America movie with the lack of plot. Is it just me? None of these movies, not that one, not Thor, and, if witnesses are to be believed, not The Avengers. Why are these movies so popul-

Oh. Never mind. I see where that could have a certain . . . intellectual . . . interest. And I'm sure the writing is truly excellent and the characterization is marvelous and the plot has an ingenious simplicity to it that has been lost to the thousands of viewers with less discerning palates. Ahem.
I could lament my lack of inspiration on the front of the Defy the Dark harperteen contest, which has lovely prizes and opportunities but which I am having the darndest time figuring out what I'm going to write for.
Or how I've been feeling dizzy and queasy all morning. Or how my brothers had a friend over last night. Or the art projects I'm working on. Or the Olympic games, Gabby Douglas, Danny Boyle, and how disappointed I am NOT to be in London with Global Expeditions this month. Or the exciting Doctor Who trailer BBC1 released earlier this week and how quickly series 8 is coming up and how leery I am of Jenna Louise Coleman. Or the new season of Falling Skies. Or going to the Friends of the Public Library for (probably, hopefully) the last time yesterday and buying a copy of Northanger Abbey (finally!). Or the Figment friend who self-published his Sherlock Holmes pastiche on Amazon and then gave it away free to everyone who'd supported him on Figment. Or how I've quit biting my nails and they're getting long enough for me to accidentally scratch myself in the face while sleeping. Or how I'm getting kind of tired of Charlie the Unicorn and Minecraft.

However. I'm tired of being on the computer and not in the mood for blogging and, despite the headache and the dizziness (probably dehydration, I should do something about that), I'm sure I could find something more important to do. I might pick a topic or two mentioned here to expand on later, I might not. And, umm, I think that's it. Enjoy your Saturday!

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Tale of Two Cities ~ a project

With my newfound fixation for book-binding, I guess I've gotten a bit over-zealous. I figured out the coptic stitch, with the help of this lovely tutorial, I made myself a travel journal; I guess I figured I could do just about anything. So, I rebound my copy of A Tale of Two Cities.

It took me forever (I'd say about forty hours of work total, seriously), but I did it. I didn't want to have to take the time to copy all my notes into a new copy, see? And I've got a BUNCH of notes; from the first time I read the book, for school, throughout the whole thing; and about a third of the way through from my second, closer inspection of it. And it was my dad's before me, and it was utterly falling apart, so I decided to rebind it.
After I'd ripped out the covers completely and peeled off the canvas that was holding the glue-bound pages to the flyleaf, I started by taking a small cup of vinegar, some Q-tips, a pot of boiling water, a knife, some nail polish remover, and a very bright light to work by and dissolving the glue from the spine. Silly me, I figured the pages would've been in signatures (like a composition notebook, the paper folded over and connected in the back) to begin with. But no. As the glue dissolved, the pages fell out into single sheets. Roadblock the first.
So I found some red thread and I arranged the papers into sheets of sixteen and I hand-stitched each page to it's opposite (using a healthy dab of glue to hold the final knot down). Then I used a screw driver to bore some holes in the original covers, an ice-pick to pop the holes in the papers, used the lovely stitch from the tutorial to bind it all together, and viola! It is reborn.

Now I'm just really, really glad it's over.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

 Oh, my lovely little bedroom, how I shall miss you! It's been a lovely six months. (Also, I'll quit the reality-avoidance and actually explain the moving thing as soon as I actually know something. Yes, indeeed, it's that sort of week.)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Yesterday, It Was Eczema...

And if you know me, you know that that's a quick cheat sheet to my state of mind. Yesterday, the back of my hands were red and cracking. Today, with enough aloe, they are so no longer. This morning it was a twisting, turning stomach and a great big fat heavy weight on my chest and a shocking lack of motivation. The desire to bury my head in a book and hide, very nearly claimed me for it's own. A couple of realities were starting to sink in, and my mood wasn't pretty. I remembered, though, that the grass needed cutting. Here was something I could do that would be useful, while still allowing a certain level of reality avoidance also. Perfect.
So I spent several hours behind our push-mower and went through several playlists on my iPod, and now my attitude is quite a lot better. I've got back my sense of adventure and my can-do-ness.
I have also got, though, a bug bite on my forehead. Of the sort that I'm allergic to. If both my eyes don't swell themselves shut by the end of the night, I'll eat my own hat. And as embarrassing as this is going to be, I've talked myself into posting a picture of the aftermath. Without further ado, I give

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Feeling a Little Meta...

And in the mood to examine my reasons for blogging and the future of this blog. I started the blog to have something to do when I was bored. It grew from that to a writing exercise, a place to vent my opinions, and a way for people who want to know about my life but don't live nearby to keep up with me. But here's the thing: I like writing. It's what I want to do with my life. Well, among other things. And I want to write well, and I want to write things people want to read. I want to write a blog people want to read. It's not just about hits and site traffic, though that's a way of gauging it, of course. I just want to write things people like! And you hear these lovely success-stories of travel writers or food writers or fashion writers discovered because of their blogs, and I would like for that to happen to me. In a perfect world.

Now see, I post two sorts of things here: media posts (those kind of review-like things where I consume media and then write/rant about it), and personal posts (where I ramble about weekend plans and keep you updated about things like my emotional response to being in the young adult life group). Of the two, you can guess which gets more hits. If you guessed movie reviews, you were right. Especially because the sorts of movies I watch are the sorts with fandoms and cult followings. But the people who read my blog frequently, let's face it, don't really care what I thought of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.  They, mostly, want my take on my life. But how Vacation Bible School went doesn't exactly do great things for widening my readership. Is that my problem? Am I just too broad as far as topics go? But that's frustrating, because my life encompasses all these things! From my personal comings and goings to the movies and books I love (or hate): all of it's me. Now see, if I could do something like this lovely lady (who calls herself doodlemum), and make the everyday occurrences of my life something people are actually interested in, I'd be doing pretty good. Thing is, I don't have the talent. Or at least, I haven't happened upon it yet.
So here's the question: How to I write things that people want to read, while remaining faithful and honest to myself and to the few readers who actually read this blog because they care about me?  What do you think? Any ideas? Suggestions, criticisms, wild complaints, rantings? Feel free to comment!

P.S. Also, thanks, I think, to whoever added a random personal post from two years ago to the stumbleupon library. Kinda weirded out, to be honest, but also appreciative.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Stuff And Things

Before I go any further, I'd just like to say that the number of hits this blog got yesterday was more than ten times my daily average......
Proof that use of a particular celebrity's picture is an effective (though ethically questionable) way of upping your blog traffic. Face it, Ella. People are more interested in Benedict Cumberbatch's face than they are in what you have to say. Not that I'm blaming anyone, of course.
Coming soon: With the purchase (aka, read) of each blog post, readers will also receive a picture of a dishy British actor, absolutely free of charge. ;)

 In other news, VBS has come and gone; quite the same as every year. Me and Joy and goofy costumes (Hawaiian island theme this year, oversized men's hibiscus-print button-ups), and trying to talk to between ten and twenty precious, hyperactive, curious, impressionable first-second graders about how much Jesus loves them. This year, it involved my Aunt Becky and cousin Cara staying the week with us (Cara, being in second grade, was in my crew. :), a vicious fire-ant attack, a failed jaunt to the new thrift store 'round the corner, and an incredible amount of Shaun the Sheep. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I spent my first Wednesday night Bible study in the young adult's class day-before-yesterday. It . . . wasn't awful. Okay, well, it was awful, but it wasn't so awful. I was sitting at the foot of the table with two married couples on my left and a married couple and a dating couple on my right and. . . yeah; and then the topic was purely enraging, knowing God's will and telling the difference between your will and God's, which is like the main theme of my life right now, so I didn't talk. If I had talked, I might've exploded, which would've been really unfair to the rest of the class, it being my first week and all. And I felt out of place and awkward and shy, and I'm afraid Joy took rather more of my ilk than was really fair, for which I am both sorry and indebted. And hopefully these things get better in time.

It was also Riley's first week in pre-teens, and Anne's first week in youth. I am old.

Also. Um. Well, lastly, though not least. . . ly (?), we're, um, well, just in passing. We're moving. My brain=

I'll be back with you with more information when I have regained the ability to *ahem* "can."

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Birthday Wish That Will Not Be Received...

Similar to my "Happy Birthday Steven Moffat" post a couple of months ago; no matter if there's no chance at all of the person involved seeing the post, one might as well wish a body a happy birthday when one can, so:

Happy birthday and many happy returns to Mr. Benedict Cumberbatch. :)

Monday, July 2, 2012

In Which I Create a Tumblr Blog and am Chased by a Rooster

.......It's been an odd week. Okay, it hasn't been a week, it's been like four days. But whatever.
The start of the oddity was when I started a tumblr account. It sounds pretty run-of-the-mill, but it seemed climactic at the time. The main purpose of it was, at least in theory, to increase my traffic on THIS blog. See, Tumblr's better for the social-networking side of blogging, so theoretically, get to know people over there, find people interested in the same sorts of things I'm interested in, find way to direct my followers over there ...over here.
The theory breaks down around the time that I remember that I'm pretty much Socially Useless, even on the internet. So my tumblr is going to sit there with three posts and zero followers until the cows come home.
And while I'm waiting on the cows to come home, I've got enough to worry about with the chickens and the turkeys.
See, I'm house-sitting. Supposed to be simple, right? Feed the housepets, bring in the mail, watch the homeowner's entire movie collection, etc. Well, no. As I said, chickens and turkeys. And rabbits. Oh my.
The people I'm house-sitting for left a lovely blue sheet of paper stuck to the fridge with explicit directions about who's supposed to eat what and so on, but I'm still a bit unclear on the difference between chicken food and chicken scratch. And right now, the roosters aren't getting along with each other, the turkeys, or me (thus the being chased by a rooster bit); the rabbits have taken to sitting in the back corner of their hutches and staring at me warily, mostly I think because I had to make an awful lot of racket this morning with the hutch door and a six-foot shovel in my (entirely successful, I might add) attempt to kill a rather large and mean-looking writing spider; and I still have no idea just where I stand with the turkeys. So, essentially, it's just me and Gandalf. Gandalf being the rather overweight tabby housecat. I'm not sure if he's sweet or just lazy, but he's barely moved from my feet since I've been here. And he rather likes being scratched under the chin.
His name makes for some interesting (and occasionally awkward) happenstances, though. Like, when he tries to escape whenever the front door is open, and  you turn around and tell him to stay, and then you realize what you just implied. "Gandalf, YOU SHALL NOT PASS!" Yeah. Or when he's on one couch and you're on the other and you say, "Gandalf, no, don't you want to come sleep with me?"

*cricket, cricket*

So anyway. Hopefully me and the roosters will come to terms eventually, and perhaps the turkeys will choose to be less enigmatic, and the rabbits will decide that I'm not actually a shovel-wielding maniac, but rather their spider-killing, carrot-bearing friend, and everything'll be just hunky-dory. In the meantime, I think there's a dvd of Phantom of the Opera calling my name around here somewhere..

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Elementary (my dear Watson?)

I've been trying to avoid weighing in on this topic, but it just. keeps. getting. worse. So, um, because I don't want to actually say bad things about this obviously flawed idea, I'mma give you the resources to let you, well, form your own opinions. So here, without further ado, I give you CBS's soon-to-come "original" series, Elementary, coming this Fall. Don't say I didn't warn you.
I think that's the, well, the most prime example, though this first one and this latest one are pretty, erm, telling, also. Though,I guess it could surprise us and be lovely. Anything's possible, and all that. I suppose we'll just have to wait and see.
And, THAT is about all I have to say on the subject.

 Well, that and (throwing diplomacy to the wind)....

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Shaking the dust from my feet...

...kinda like that feeling when you slam shut a really good book that took you forever to read with a victorious smile...
I've finished my last course, high school is officially (well, officially comes Sunday when they put the piece of paper in my hand) over. Sometimes, things take so long that you never realize they'll eventually come to an end, and then the end sneaks up on you, and it's kind of . . .
Strange. But wonderful.
And all that's running through my head is the last scene from Hawking (you know, this movie that I mentioned a few posts back?).
And in this last scene, Stephen, the main character has just won a major victory, one that was a long time coming. And another character, his fiancee Jane, takes a deep breath, and asks him, "So what now?"
His reply: "I am going to eat creme brulee and a huge number of chocolate truffles, and try very hard to make you see how wonderful Wagner is, and how Brahms is not so wonderful."
Okay, so this sounded more profound in my head. But, in short, he's saying, I'm going to do all of the silly, enjoyable things I have been wanting to do, but have not had the time to. I'm going to do what I want to do.
I'm going to do what I want to do.

And then the other character pulls the main character's feet back down to the ground and says, "I meant with work!"
Meaning: No, seriously, what are you going to do?
Frankly? That one's still a question mark, at the moment, and one that I'm working on answering, believe me. For now, I'd like a chocolate truffle.
And Stephen's next line is significant, as well.
"I believe in the possible. I believe, small though we are, insignificant though we may be, we can reach a full understanding of the universe. You were right when you said you feel small, looking up at all that out there. We are very, very small; but we are profoundly capable of very very big things."
And then, looking out, a little defiantly, at everything in the universe at once, he says, grinning, "Can you hear me?"
Can you hear me?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Just quickly...

Okay. I know, I'm a bad person, it's been entirely too long since I've been on. Is it lame to say that life has just been Too Insane here lately?
So, umm, I'm going to actually be logging off my blogger. It'll be a while before I'm back on, but hopefully I'll be able to come back with a vengeance and be my old blogging self.
Here's to a week (two tops) of doing whatever the homeschool equivalent of cramming for finals is.
Love always,

Saturday, April 28, 2012

So I Finally Watched Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy...

Last night, after the family went to bed. Not how I wanted to do it, I wanted everyone (especially Andrew!) to be able to see it.
But then the movie went and got itself rated R, and for good reason, too. The language was vile, and the bedroom scenes were, though skip-able, uncomfortably and un-family-friendly-ly explicit. I suppose, anything to get viewers, but I don't see the purpose of making the movie worse than the book.  Not that there wasn't . . . stuff, in the book, but it went mostly unstated; and stating the unstated really cheapens the affect.
So I watched it all by my onesie, bore the language, and skipped the gratuitous love scenes.
The main complaint I've seen about the movie is that it's unbelievably difficult to follow. I'm sure that people who have made this complaint would be surprised to learn that it was much, much simpler than the book. It was put in chronological order, several sub-plots and back-stories were shortened or cut all-together, and some minor characters, though having a place of honor in the book, were marginalized. The movie was much less . . . subtle, than the book; which is, I guess, okay. Four-hundred page book to two-ish hour movie, there's going to be some slicing and dicing. It's okay, as long as you hang on to what really matters, which, for the most part, they did.
On the topic of subtlety, two things about the movie really impressed me. One: They never showed Ann's face. George Smiley's lovely, enigmatic Ann, his idealized, idolized, adulterous wife; who keeps him from ever being really, completely rational: the movie very intentionally never showed her face.
Two: The possibility that Bill Haydon and Jim Prideaux had ever been more than best friends went completely unspoken. In the book, in order for it to exist at all, it had to be hinted at in somewhat-specific terms: in the movie, the possibility was there without ever parting with a little bit of delightful ambiguity.
One thing that was handled really well was the atmosphere. Atmosphere was one of the biggest and best parts of the book, and the movie captured it thoroughly. Ugly, nondescript buildings; dark little back rooms absolutely choked with cigarette smoke, gentlemen in expensive, seventies-era suits and leather gloves, drippy gray London afternoons,  sad, sporadic piano music. It was perfect.
Casting, more than anything, is make-or-break with book-to-movie, and in this case, was fantastic. I thought Toby Jones as slimy Percy Alleline would be over-the-top (think: The Dream Lord), but it wasn't. After loving Tom Hardy's Heathcliff in a Masterpiece Classics Wuthering Heights, I did not expect to like his Ricki Tarr, but I did. Loved it, actually, it was like watching a completely different actor, which is impressive. Gary Oldman played George Smiley as cold and reserved and thoroughly competent, but still with the tired and hurting undercurrents from the book. And Colin Firth as the suave, charming, down-to-earth Bill Haydon was nothing short of inspired.
The same kind of inspired the casting of Benedict Cumberbatch for Peter Guillam could have been, if Guillam's character hadn't been, well, shrunk. In the book, he has a couple of really great scenes, scenes where his complexity really comes through. He drives a sports car, and he's young and dashing, which becomes something that Smiley envies. And yet, under the cool exterior he's tortured. He's hitting a bit of a mid-life crises, and he's scared, and he's doubting himself and questioning his actions. And his Camilla, many years his junior and probably not being faithful to him, keeps him distracted and injured. But no. His scenes were trimmed back and scaled down, his part was simplified, and his all-pervading girlfriend was replaced with a one-scene boyfriend. Not that that's the part that bothered me the worst, it wasn't just that I don't want to see my favorite actor play gay. If that was the character, if that was the challenge, then so be it. But that wasn't the character. Mr. Cumberbatch was thoroughly capable of making Guillam everything he was in the book, but I don't think he was given the chance. And depth in characterization is one thing that this movie could not afford to sacrifice. Or maybe I'm just grouchy because my favorite character in the book was not as cool in the movie.

I liked the movie, don't get me wrong, I really did. It was well-done and entertaining and enjoyable and very "grown-up," to quote one of the stars. But, I have to say it, I liked the book a whole lot better.
And I think I'm gonna go start reading the sequel.

Monday, April 16, 2012

......I might've just gotten my first rejection letter.
Okay, I did just get my first rejection letter.
From a magazine I sent a story (funny, I don't even remember which story) to a couple months ago.
"...We appreciate that you think enough want your work to appear in our pages, and we reviewed your submission respectfully and with care but decided not to accept your work for publication..."
It's funny, my little brother is asking me to explain to him why this is a good thing, and I can't entirely explain it, but it definitely, definitely is.
May it be the first of many. Meep!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

How to Listen to Music

Thank you, Adam Young, for saying something I've been trying to say for ages.
In case you don't know, Adam Young is the mind and the talent and the heart behind the beauty that is Owl City (maybe an acquired taste, but I'm getting to that...). He's a very talented musician and lyricist, and incidentally a great blogger.
And in a post last month (this post, actually), he hit on something that's been bugging me for a while.
I get a little neurotic about the music I listen to. Actually, I'm downright self-conscious. I'm really bad about getting into a band on my own, usually I just steal from someone in my family, or occasionally a similarly-minded friend. And when I do discover a band I like, I'm petrified to own up to it. I feel like I have to learn absolutely everything about a band before I admit to liking them, and I'm scared that if I admit to liking them, somebody will have beat me to it, or know something about the band or the music that I don't know and I wind up looking stupid. And if I do discover something on my own, I share it everywhere, try to get my parents and siblings into it, anything I can do; I guess just because I want somebody to tell me that it really is good and it's not just me and it's okay that I like it.
This has been harder here lately, as it would seem that my tastes in music aren't lining up with my families as often as they used to. Mumford and Sons gets on everybody's nerves, Snow Patrol is "dramatic and annoying," come to find out, nobody can take The Feeling seriously because, "But...he's gay!!" and Fleet Foxes (which I listen to more because they're pretty and relaxing than because I actually adore them), well, I haven't been brave enough to play them in front of anyone yet.
Are you staying with me here? General theme=being brave enough to like what I like without caring what other people think. And here's where Adam Young comes in:
"Sometimes people ask me what’s on my iPod that I consider a “guilty pleasure” and I never know how to respond because what I listen to is what I enjoy and I don’t care about deciding something I like is “awkward or uncool” because of who or what it associates me with by default. The whole idea of having a “guilty pleasure” musically has always been weird to me. Why should I feel guilty about liking something I genuinely enjoy?"

I read this, and in my head, it's just like "click!" Okay. I get it now. Thank you, Mr. Young, for making sense.
And all that to say, well, read his blog post. And you know, check out the rest of the blog while you're there. Good stuff. :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Feeling Successful

Partly because I managed to finish The Importance of Being Earnest. And once I turned it on, the entire family that had been refusing to let me watch it slowly trickled in and sat, spellbound, staring at the television and trembling before the might of Oscar Wilde's wit. But anyway.
Mostly I'm feeling successful, and a bit accomplished, because my sister just came to me to ask for something to read. And after starting for my room to tear through my shelves in search of something ("Something modern!" she says) that the picky miss would take, I remembered: Oh yeah! I finally did it! Broke down and cataloged my library! So I went to my laptop instead, read off titles until I found one that was satisfactory, noted the makeshift call-number, proudly lead her to my bookcase, and made her watch while I put my hand directly to the book she wanted.
Epic win.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Today was a good day. Sundays, lately, aren't always, with the people-drama and such; but today was good.
First was, obviously, church. Helped Mum with stuff, hung around with preschoolers, chatted with people I haven't talked to in a while, snagged a few minutes to talk to my bestie about, of all things, the Hunger Games, among other things. The worship set was utterly fantastic. Our God Saves, Psalms 3 set to music, How He Loves, and Chris Tomlin's Our God. I adore Our God; it's one of the ones we sang over and over again in Dallas, and listening and worshiping to it this morning, for a moment I was back there, on campus in Garden Valley. I'd forgotten how much I miss it. After worship, I sort of ditched on sermon and helped Mum in Worship Arts Ministry (WAM for short) instead. Which consisted of listening to/helping with the first-fourth graders work on their part for Children of God, yes the Third Day song, yes it's going to be incredibly cute, with the worship leader; watching them have a blast free-worshiping to irritating kids music, grape-vining around in a circle with some of the youngest members of the dance group, and leading the whole group in a rehash of their hip-hop project however many months ago, MaryMary's Shackles. And then, I swear, it was the cutest thing ever. Mum asked the class the question "Why is God worthy of our praise?"
You had the standard Sunday-school answers (He made us, He died on the cross for us, etc.), and then you had first-fourth grade boys. I love first-fourth grade boys. Just a sampling:

"God is stronger than two light-sabers.""

"God is bigger than twenty tractors."

"God is stronger than the big guy with the mohawk on Ben 10."

After church we came home, ate lunch (quickly), and then left. To go on a social visit. Confession: I didn't want to go. Nothing against the people, it was a relatively new family from church that I've been wanting badly to get to know better; but it meant being "on" as Mum would put it. Dad couldn't understand it for the life of him, but for me, as much as I like some people, nine times out of ten I will get out of a social situation if I can. I'm no good at it, and I feel like I get locked out of my own head, and I turn into this annoying person with nothing useful to say, and I never ever know what to do with myself, and it's just . . . ugh. And after a particularly trying week of school, today I just wanted to curl up on the couch and nap.
.....I had so. Much. Fun. I couldn't believe how comfortable I felt, or how easy it came. They have teenagers, two girls a bit younger than me and a guy my age; which was part of why I was so nervous (I'm not good with people my own age I haven't known since forever), but it was kind of . . .perfect. We (me, Andrew and Anne, and the three of them) were all piled into their living room, with the adults on the other end of the house, and there was Mario Party and Man Vs. Wild and Prince of Egypt and, of all things, the yuck documentary Food, Inc. Seriously, it's nasty. Don't watch it if you ever want to enjoy food again. Which is exactly what I said earlier to (okay, I'm going to have to come up with blog-names for these people); and within thirty seconds it was playing. And, I don't know, I guess I just don't act like that much of a kid very often; but it was uncomplicated and kind of perfect.
The youngest girl is almost fourteen and hugely fun. It's her I was already friends with, as we have a love for dance ministry in common. The older girl is quieter, more introverted, and I think we have more in common, but because of that, we have a hard time getting to know each other. And, wonder of wonders, I think I might, kind of, have a friend...who's a guy. Or at least, a male acquaintance, near my own age, whom I can hold a three-word conversation with without stupidity. How weird is that?
I also discovered a very bad habit of mine. Well, I've known I had it, I just didn't realize how dangerous it has the potential to be. And that habit is, I tend to mirror accents. Not intentionally, certainly not to be rude, I just . . .do it. Which is really bad when your hosts are from a Spanish-speaking country. -_-

~Collected Thoughts~

~The Adventures of Tintin. Which we watched as a family Friday evening. And which was fantastic. I mean, really? You put Steven Moffat, Stephen Spielberg, and Peter Jackson working on the same movie, how in the world is the end result going to be anything but fantastic? And the voice cast, too: there are an incredible number of familiar names on that list. And it was hilarious and very well written, with some very Indiana-Jones-style action and really really great characters. And....well, I won't dwell on it in great detail, but it was definitely worth watching and I highly recommend it.
~Through the Looking Glass. As in, the sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I read it for the first time earlier this week, and enjoyed it even more than the first one. It makes a bit more sense (if sense is ever a word that can apply to Lewis Carroll) and has a character I adore that I didn't even realize existed. The White Knight=<3
~The Importance of Being Earnest. The 1952 movie version. I've got it on my Netflix queue, and I want very much to finish it, but nobody ever lets me. I'm convinced I'll only get to watch it in five-minute increments when nobody else is in charge of the remote.
~I have a new lovely little friend. For extremely cheap at the Dollar Deals (Like Dollar Tree, only cooler) in town, I got a little pink box I can stick my iPod in and plug it into that lets me turn my iPod into an alarm clock, which is extremely convenient.
~I love liking the same kinds of music as my brother. Because whenever he gets up the gumption (or happens to have pocket money to spare), if I pitch in a bit, he buys music I like but don't feel like buying. Like a thirty-two track cd of Athlete singles. I liiiike Athlete singles. :)
~I really. Really. Really. Really wanna see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. It's meant to be coming within the next couple of weeks, but I'm getting incredibly impatient.
~And. Erm. I think that's it. Ttfn!