Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sense and Sensibility



What am I doing reviewing such an old film? Hasn't every Jane Austen fan already seen it? What is the point of bringing it up?

The reason I write this is because I have come to see that this is one film that, though regarded as good family fare, is not truly appreciated for the gem that it is. It's a film that may take repeated watchings to fall in love with, but that is because it has a good deal more to it than first meets the eye.

I'll admit, the first few times I saw it, I didn't think it much out of the ordinary. I vastly prefer the books of "Pride and Prejudice" and "Emma" to "Sense and Sensibility" and my brain automatically assumed that the movie would fall into the same order of preferance.

My opinion started to change when I read the diaries that Emma Thompson kept during the shooting of the film. I began to see the craft and brilliance behind the film and was ready to look at it with new eyes. I realized that Thompson and the rest of the crew had pulled out everything that was good about this book, and worked to strengthen the weakenesses.

Last night I finally did watch it again and found myself savoring every moment. That is usually only a description I'd apply to Pride and Prejudice, so it astonished me to find the same beauty and perhaps even more depth of the heart within this older (and non-color corrected) film.

Though the book of "Sense and Sensibility" is one of Austen's earliests and not nearly as well crafted as her later works, in some ways it is even more accessible to ordinary young women than, say, Pride and Prejudice. Marianne and Elinor are not just dealing with the question of whether to marry for love or money, but with the question of "how does one conduct oneself when one is in love?" And that, believe it or not, is a question that every young person deals with. Do they show themselves richly enamored (as Marianne does) or remain guarded and aloof (like Elinor)?

The times may be differant now, but even though our society embraces the openness of Marianne, we also see Marianne's heartbreak and embaressment repeating itself over and over again in our young people.

We are also introduced to two unusual (for Austen) but also strangely accessible love stories. We see Elinor fall in love with a man whom she discovers is engaged to another. And like so many girls these days, she has to hid her emotions and force herself to be happy for her rival. Why? Because it is the correct thing to do. And Elinor does it without bitterness or jealousy. Not because she is a saint, but because she is sensible.

Then there is Marianne, who falls in love with a man who is good looking and charming, and holds her heart out wildly for him and all the world to see. But he is not Prince Charming (though Hollywood would say he should be) and rides off with money instead of love. Marianne is left heartbroken, very literally in the sense that she nearly dies because of it.

But there is still hope for her because of Colonal Brandon, a character who is admirable and honorable in every way. The sort of man that (again, by Hollywood) would often be shoved off as "the old guy" and seen unfit for our beautiful heroine. And yet in this story one cannot help falling in love with Brandon and wishing desperately that Marianne's eyes would turn from her unworthy but handsome Willoughby to the devoted and wise Brandon.

But more than the story, it is the Characters themselves who make this story memorable. And I find it truly a joy to watch the actors at work.

There is Emma Thompson who, though a good fifteen years older than Elinor is meant to be, plays the part of the older Dashwood sister perfectly. Kate Winslet (who is one of my favorite actresses) is a perfect romantic and beautiful Marianne.

Alan Rickman was brillantly cast as Colonal Brandon, and in my opinion there could be no better actor for the part. And even Hugh Grant as Edward manages to make that character much more likable than I found him in the book.

The supporting cast is extremly enjoyable as well. Having widened my viewing selection since the last time I saw the film, I have a new appreciation for the abilites of Imelda Saunton as Charlotte Palmer (well known for her work as Professor Umbridge in the Harry Potter series) and cracked up just about every time Hugh Laurie (Now the sarcastic Dr. House) came onscreen as her - yes, sarcastic- husband Mr. Palmer.

And beyond all this, it is simply just a well made film. The screenplay is extremely well done(I mean, Thompson won an Oscar for it!) and the Cinematography is really quite good.

And those, my friends, are the reasons why I found myself completely in love with this movie at last.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Austenbook

If Pride and Prejudice had Facebook.

Many, many thanks to my friend Delaney for putting the link to this on her blog and thereby granting me many many laughs!

This is basically a facebook news feed of the events in Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice." It's absolutely hilarious, and doesn't take that long to read, so fans of P&P- click the link above!

The Mystery of the Presents Under the Tree

One of my favorite things about Christmas is the mystery of the presents under the tree.

That's not to say that I don't love giving gifts as well. I do. In fact, the older I get the more I enjoy it, and the more I suspect that gifts are my secondary love language. (Words of Affermation is primary). I really love choosing the right gift for the right person, making sure it's unique and special.

But I also, as I said before, love the mystery of the presents under the tree.

It's the inner detective in me that loves looking at those packages, matching them up to what I know I asked for, and trying to figure out what is in each one. Of course, now that I'm an adult, it's usually pretty easy to figure out what package holds what present.

So does that mean that the interest of the mystery fades as I grow older? Certainly not!

When my mother was a child, her parents used to use a code on their presents. They would make up new names for each of their children and label the packages with those names. The answer of which child belonged to which name would not be revealed until Christmas. My mother, who doesn't find mysteries very interesting at all, absolutely hated it.

Well one year my siblings and I found out about this tradition, and somehow we persuaded our parents to use a code on our presents. It instantly raised the drama and guessing games to a new height, and ensured that we still had surprises on Christmas morning.

Now that we are all so mature and intelligant, we use a double code. So far this year we have had appearances of "Wolverine" "Colossus" "Shadowcat" and "Rogue." We're still waiting for Nightcrawer and Storm to show up. (As you can imagine, part of the fun is getting to assume the name of our favorite characters on Christmas morning.)

So that is why, even though I've left childhood behind, I can still enjoy the magic and mystery of the presents under the Christmas Tree.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ben Barnes + Twilight

My reaction? "Please do not link those two names together!"

From Narniaweb:

Ben Barnes Rumored to Be Seeking Role in "Twilight" Sequel
MTV writes: With the buzz building for these roles, MTV News has confirmed that 27-year-old "Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" heartthrob Ben Barnes is throwing his hat into the ring. The actor is already quite popular with the "Twilight" fanbase and shares the same manager as both Copon and "Twilight" star Cam Gigandet. Barnes is believed to be campaigning for the role of Aro, a mind-reading vampire whose "New Moon" encounter with Edward and Bella helps shape their destiny together. Thanks to Trinity for the alert.

Considering all that I've posted on this blog, can someone tell me why I'm groaning instead of cheering?

Oh, it's my subconcious remidning me of how creepy and icky Aro is. BLEH.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

If Austen Villians met each other...

...what would happen?

My friend Alex passed this oneshot onto me and I think it's a well done and hilarious piece of work. Congrats to the author, whoever she is!

How Important is a Cell Phone?

For those of us who have them, the answer would be "Indispensible." The majority of the American population over the age of 16 (and I'm afraid it's probably even younger than that) has a personal cell phone. And really, they are marvelous inventions that most of the time make our lives much, much easier. Except, of course, when one is taking a name and gets interupted by a vibrating phone.

However I recently went two weeks without a phone due to loosing my old one and I was forced to really face the reality of how much we depend on our phones. I actually managed to survive just fine, but I found myself feeling quite amused and slightly annoyed whenever someone said "but it's dangerous to drive without a cell phone!" or something along those lines.

Because, of course, it's only in the last decade that cell phones have been really common. For thousands of years before that people went on great journeys and adventures without cell phones and managed to survive just fine! I mean, Christopher Columbus discovered America without a cell phone. The Apostle Paul went on all of his missionary journeys without a cell phone. Father Abraham traveled from Ur to Canaan without a cell phone. Those were all much more dangerous journeys than driving fifteen minutes to visit one's grandparents - even if it IS snowing outside.

Sure, all those journeys would probably have been easier with cell phones, but the point is - they managed without them. So it's really not something worth fussing or worrying about if you have to go two weeks without a cell phone. I mean, you still have pay phones and house phones and internet and, if all else fails, smoke signals.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

A friend of mine who is starting out into the world of Independant filmmaking just made a really cool short film for an upcoming youtube contest. It is a very well made film that they were able to make with some pretty amazing equiptment and actors. It's well worth the 5 minutes it takes to watch and if you like it, I encourage you to pass this message on! It would be awesome if a young independant Christain filmmaker like Brooke could win the youtube contest!

Here is the e-mail she sent to me-

Hello everyone!
I just wanted to let you know that I have finished my first short film for the Sundance/YouTube contest called Project: Direct. The film is five minutes long and it is titled "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall". It was shot using the Red camera, and it's about a mirror that reflects the truth. Please watch and rate it on YouTube and spread the word!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHgshn0vIW0. I would really appreciate if you would add your comments and tell your family and friends to watch the film. Sundance judges will vote for the top 10 films of those submitted. YouTube users will have to vote for the winners out of the 10. I will need everyone to vote if it gets that far.

Here is the link to the film blog:
www.mirrormirror-film.blogspot.com where you can read more about the film. I hope you like it!
Brooke

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Brideshead Revisited

No, this isn't a review because I'm not nearly smart enough to begin unraveling all the threads and meanings in this book. All I know is that I loved it - strange as it is - and I'm willing to reread it for the rest of my life in an effort to figure it out.

I'm curious though. I know some of you have read it and I would like to know some of your thoughts on it. Why do you like it? What do you see as the meanings and themes within it?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Discernment vs. Discretion

http://relevantmagazine.com/life_article.php?id=7634

My friend Chloe brought this to my attention as another contribution to the ongoing discussion of what, as Christains, should be our attitude towards media? I rather like it.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Preparing for Christmas

I'm trying to actually prepare for Christmas this year. It's difficult because suddenly everything in my life is revolving around SOTB (check the movie blog for the latest news!). I've noticed this tends to be a trend. For the past four years or so there has always been something major occuring in December that takes my focus off the real meaning of the Holiday season. And so Christmas always tends to take me a little by surprise.

There are two things I'm trying to do to keep me mentally aware, if not completely focused, on the season. One is just playing Christmas music. This isn't hard because it's probably my favorite part of the whole holiday- I adore Christmas music. Granted, some of it is secular, but even the secular stuff makes me go "Oh, it's Christmas."

Secondly, of course, is interacting with the Christmas Story. I've been reading some of the passages in Luke, this time with more of a interest in Mary's story. I also told Mary's story to one of the little girls I nanny. It's surprising how little young children really know beyond "Baby Jesus in the Manger." And so I wonder, how much do most adults know?

At some point, probably not until the 23rd or 24th of December, I'll pick up book four of Bodie and Brock Thoene's A.D. Chronicles. Book four through six deal with the nativity story and are extremely well done. Hopefully I'll be able to do a few blog posts on those.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Under the Greenwood Tree

I paid a quick visit to my library today and while browsing through the DVD rack came across a BBC title I had never heard of before. Since it was a historical piece and was actually close-captioned (not all BBC productions are) I decided to give it a try. I'm quite glad I did because I spent a good deal of the 90 minute film chuckling over the humorous incidents that pervade the film.

Under the Greenwood Tree is the story of Miss Fancy Day, a school teacher who comes to a small town and finds herself wooed by a wealthy farmer, the parson, and a humble carrier boy. She is forced to choose between what is proper- and what she knows will bring her happiness.

But lest this sound cliche- there are some other elements that make this film more than your usual "follow your heart" film. For one, all three suitors are given depth and character. The wealthy farmer, though physically the least attractive, is a kind and gentle man despite his gruff exterior.

Also the film has a genuine sense of "community"- the whole town is allowed to participate in the story, giving it a background and texture that many such stories lack. There is an amusing musical subplot to add further humor to the mix.

Though filmed on a low budget the film is decently crafted, with attention paid to the beauty of the place and not merely the story. It is tied neatly together though my guess is that the book holds more in it's pages than there was time to portray on screen. Or perhaps not- since BBC is known for its accurate adaptations.

Whatever the matter, it is a clean, fun story that fans of Jane Austen and the like will enjoy. With a bit more grit, grim and music than the typical Austen tale!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

On Temperment in Jane Austen

This past year I've been extremely intrigued by the Four Temperments. At some point here I'll do a more detailed post on how it's affected my writing, but for now, I'd like some aid in determining the temperment of the main Jane Austen characters.

As a quick review, the four temperments are Choleric, Melancholic, Sanguine and Phlegmatic. In the very briefest overview, Cholerics like to do things their way, Melancholics the right way, Sanguines the fun way and Phlegmatics the people's way. But it's more complicated than that so please do a bit more research before offering opinions on the theories below.

Froggy/Ella and I decided that:

Elizabeth Bennet is Choleric (with Sanguine undertones) and Mr. Darcy is Melancholic

But Emma Woodhouse and Mr. Knightley gave us more trouble. I'm pretty sure that Emma is mostly Choleric because of the way she likes to control people and situations. But I'm not sure whether her secondary temperment is Sanguine or Phlegmatic. And I believe Mr. Knightley is some combination of Melancholic/Phlegmatic but I'm not sure which is the dominent one.

Now Catherine Moreland and Henry Tilney...I'm pretty sure that for them we decided that Catherine was Sanguine and Henry was Phlegmatic. Any contests on that?

Sense and Sensibility was our last attempt. I believe we designated Marianne as Sanguine and Elinor as Melancholic. And then I voiced the idea that Edward is also a Melancholic, which is why he and Elinor are such a boring couple. People of the same temperments almost never marry, and are not very interesting to read about. But Edward may also be a Phlegmatic, so I'm not sure. And I think that Willoughby is Choleric.

One final couple I was thinking about last night were Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley. I think it goes almost without saying that Jane is Phlegmatic and Bingley is Sanguine.

Now...any disagreements? Or do you think we figured right?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Twilight (Unofficial Movie Review)

Right, so...you knew this was coming, right?

I'm sorry that this couldn't be the *official* review, but apparently the small production budget left no room for captioning. Therefore I can comment on just about everything but the script itself. ;)

I will say, however, that from what I could see, the film did seem to tighten up some of the plot problems of the book and therefore as far as plot goes, is stronger than the original. It did a better job of setting things up, adding suspense, and trimming unecessary fat.

Stylistically...well, I'm not a huge fan of director Catherine Hardwicke's choices. I'd been worried since the first trailers about her use of a hand-held camera and my fears were not unfounded. The shakiness isn't so much to create nausea, but it does detract some from the moments that should have been slow and beautiful, rather than constantly moving. I think Hardwicke could probably watch the 2005 Pride and Prejudice- or even Harry Potter (to which Twilight is so often compared) a few more times. However I will say that it wasn't quite as shaky/bad as I expected, so that was a relief.

The characters were much better handled. I felt they cast the perfect Bella- any place where she didn't fit the "book Bella" seemed clearly to be script or direction- not the actress. She is great at the subtlety, but still retaining Bella's clumsiness.

Edward? Not quite as sold on him. No offense to Robert Pattinson, but he simply looks too old to pass as a 17-year-old. I mean, even the oldest-looking 17-year-old that I know doesn't look quite as mature as Pattinson does.

That was sort of a recurring theme among the rest of Edward's brothers and sisters- only Jasper seemed to pass as a high school student.

However, that said, I loved the rest of the Cullen family. Carlisle was the perfect patriarch, Rosalie distainful and resentful, Emmett playful and teasing, and Alice charming and sharp. A loved how each of them really took on their characters, even with limited screen time, and even more limited dialogue. Jasper is perhaps my favorite example of this, with his stiff, military posture, and the way he followed Alice around like a devoted puppy.

Esme is perhaps the shakiest, but the book never gave her a huge role so there was very little for her to go off on.

I felt the three evil vampires were extremely well done. I know some people have been upset by the fact that Laurent is black, but...honestly...if a black person gets bitten by a vampire, I don't think they're going to turn white!

Jacob seemed perfect to me- I can't wait to see more of him in the next three films (which I think we can be pretty sure are coming.)

I think the only character that felt miscast/misdirected was Angela. She's an okay character in the film, but really did not seem to fit the book Angela at all. I don't know what effect this could have on the future films- whether they'll adapt her a bit to be more of a friend to Bella.

While I felt that overall the Cullens visually fit my mental images of the characters, I missed the dark circles under their eyes that were so often described in the books. And I was not at all happy with the Cullen's house...could they have changed it any more from Meyer's original description? It felt far, far too modern for vampires with such roots in the past.

Hmmm. I think I'm going to skip the clothing all-together. I can't be too depressing in one post, can I?

Although I do have to say that the music was a mixed back. There were some really nice pieces- but there were also some modern vocal tracks that just...are really going to date the piece in about ten or fifteen years. That's one reason why I think Harry Potter is, once again, going to outlive and outrank Twilight. The HP crew have been careful to stay away from vocals that could date or detract from the film. Even LOTR, though using some vocals, worked extremely hard to keep them stylistically in tune with the feel of the film. I wouldn't say that Twilight's choices are...jarring...necessarily...I just don't think they were...necessary.

As far as age apprioprieteness? If you want details, head on over to Pluggedinonline and they'll give you the rundown. I felt that it was tastefully done- a wee bit more graphic on violence than the book, but they kept the sensuality in check. Thankfully.

And the final verdict? Well, I can't give that until I see the movie with close-captioning and can actually understand the dialogue. But I can pretty much guarentee that I'll be buying it the week it comes out and enjoying it for years to come. Because, when it's all said and done. I just can't get enough of those Cullens!!!

Oh...and one final detail...did anyone else notice the wolf picture hanging on Bella's wall when her father first shows her to her room? I did a silent squeal...



Thursday, November 20, 2008

X-Men Quiz






You Scored as Jean Grey

Jean Grey is likely the most powerful X-Man. She loves Cyclops very much but she has a soft spot for Wolverine. She's psychic so she can sense how others are feeling and tries to help them. She also has to control her amazing powers or the malevolent Phoenix entity could take control of her and wreak havok. Powers: Telekinetic, Telepathic






Jean Grey




70%





Storm




60%





Cyclops




60%





Nightcrawler




60%





Rogue




55%





Colossus




55%





Emma Frost




45%





Iceman




45%





Wolverine




40%





Beast




30%





Gambit




25%

Monday, November 17, 2008

In Search of Good Fiction

I, alas, am in the tragic position of having little or no fiction to read. I have plenty of non-fiction, but living completely on that is like living on...tofu. Nutritous, but not always very tasty. (Although I do find it helpful for my writing- more on that in another post.)

So I'd like to ask for good book recomendations. From my book list at the bottom of this blog you can see what I've already read and what sort of books I prefer. I'm generally pretty open to differant genres- only I don't do horror. At all.

I like historical fiction, although I'm open to good present day or anything with a fantasy element. (Maybe not outright fantasy though- unless it's REALLY good. So often fantasy is poorly concieved and written). In particular, giving the time of the year, I'd be interested in any young adult/adult historical fiction dealing with the Pilgrims and the Mayflower. All the books on the subject in my house are for preteens or teens and at this point in my life, not really satisfying anymore. ;)

So...anyone want to come to my rescue?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Why do the English write the best Fantasy?

I was thinking about this before taking off on my Virginia trip.

There are three series acknowledged the world over as being the peak of Fantasy. Indeed, at this point in time, they are some of the best known literature in the world. In fact, they're so well known, that I think I hardly need to name them.

First, of course, is J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings," second is C.S. Lewis's "The Chronicles of Narnia" and third is J.K. Rowlings "Harry Potter."

All right. Even if you don't approve of Harry Potter you still have to admit that it's a publishing phenomenon. And even if you've never read any of them, chances are (unless you've been stranded in the wilderness with no communication with the outside world) you have at some point at least heard of all of them.

So why- why oh why oh why- are all three of them written by British authors? What is it about Britain- which is tiny compared to the U.S. that enabled it to produce these masterpieces?

I mean, Americans can hold their own in other literary genres. But in Fantasy we're pretty lacking. "Eragon" has been popular, but I think most of us can agree that it lacks the literary merit and sophestication of the three Giants, and will not have nearly the popularity in future genrations that they will. The closest thing we've got is "Star Wars," which is perhaps not surprising since Americans have sort of cornered the film market. And "Star Wars" is in the murky area between Sci-Fic and Fantasy. And hey, C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy had a lot more depth than "Star Wars" if not the same entertainment value.

So what is it that Britain has that the U.S. does not?

I'm guessing it goes back to mindset and upbringing. The British have a far longer history and tradition of legand than we Americans do. Though we may appreciate the myths and stories of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, I don't think we can ever quite understand them.

Obviously there is more that should be said on this subject, but I think I'm going to have to do some more thinking before putting anything else out there. Thoughts would be welcome...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

How time flies.

What is time? Is it a thing? Is it a dimension? A place?

Many, many authors come to grapple with this question in their writing. Any time travel novel must treat time travel as something either magical or scientific. Magical would include books like "A Conneticut Yankee in King Arthurs Court" in which the hero is transported to the past by a blow to the head. Scientific would, of course, include a machine (in fact, they nearly always do) or a theory that had some reasoning behind it- something like "Timeline."

In fact, I'd make the argument that pure science-fiction always uses a machine. Anything else would require something bordering on magic. Which is why Madelaine L'Engle's books "A Wrinkle in Time" and "A Swiftly Tilting Planet" sit squarely between Sci-Fic and Fantasy. "Wrinkle" is more science fiction, but the means by which they travel is still more magical in form than scientific, no matter how much she says otherwise. "A Swiftly Tilting Planet" moves to more spiritual terms and lets time travel be a power that a creature can have. "Many Waters" on the other hand, actually uses a machine for the outward journey, although the journey home is more miraculous than otherwise.

And then, of course, there is God, who is outside of time. Which leads us to wonder, is heaven itself outside of time? Are the saints and the angels outside of time as well?

Monday, November 3, 2008

The final day

Because my dear friend and forum daughter, Rachel, has already written a perfect description of this day on the forum, I am simply going to copy and paste it in here. All credit goes to her.

So I am finally home and I am very sad. I miss everyone so much...it is hard to believe how much we really bonded over that short period of time.

*sighs*So to tell you what happened yesterday. It was very busy but an incredibly great day.

1) We had our writers workshop with Regina. It was very good and I learned a lot about writing and how you put a story together. You all can look on that thread for more info. Elena took lots of notes which I am going to steal since I was not there for every workshop.

2)Next we got ready for the tea party. Basically putting on skirts and just making ourselves pretty. As we girls tend to do. Marie - - - - (I am so sorry I forgot her last name ) who did the voice for Mrs. Brier and Mrs. Foster came over and gave us a quick but informative etiquette class. Then while we all drank tea Mr. Andrew came and told us his and Regina's love story. It was so sweet!! He promised to type it up and put it here on the forum for the rest of you to read.

3) Then we got ready again this time for the dance. We did hair, make-up, and clothes. Everyone had such beautiful dresses!! The forum girls had more medieval/fairy taleish dresses while the girls from Long Island had gorgeous prom dresses! (I'll post pics later)Marie Miller came with her sisters Tess and Carolyn (sp?) and played music. We also had an open floor and all the forum people got up and sang "Into the West". This included Bowman. We also danced the Virginia Reel again and had just a grand time. Everyone met the guy who did voice of Fish from the Radio Drama and Ben, the man Regina based Paul on. Very cool.

4) Bowman and his roommate gave us a sword demonstration. It was very cool and we all had a great time. They had a choreographed fight that was very funny. (pics to come)

So all in all it was an absolutely amazing time! I am so glad to have been blessed to be able to attend! I thank Regina and Mr. Andrew for being so generous and putting this on for us. God bless you two! Rachel~

Friday, October 31, 2008

Painting, dancing and family

We started off the morning on Thursday with a writing workshop taught by Regina. It was a ton of fun and despite the fact that I know quite a lot about writing, I DID learn some things. Regina is a good teacher. ;)



The big project of yesterday, though, was working on the Middle Earth Mural in the meeting/school room. We are basically painting the landscape of Middle Earth around the upper edge of the walls. The original plan was only Hobbiton, Rivendell, Lothlorian and Edoras, but we kept thinking of new places and new details so it's going to be quite intricate when it's finished!

Then the new groups arrived- we had about six girls from Long Island, and then our friends Lady Rachel and Emmy from the FT-forum!!!!

All six of us forum girls gelled immediatly and we've been having a blast ever since. Rachel and Emmy (and some of the Long Island girls) helped us work on the mural. Then we had a fiddle band (whose violinist was the cover model for Blanche Brier) come and play for us. Since we were outside and had plenty of space, Meg taught us how to dance the Virginia Reel! It was so much fun!

Friday found the forum girls talking and scheming and singing like madwomen...er...yeah....seriously, it was like a bunch of long lost sisters discovering themselves. We watched half of my version of Little Women at lunch, then headed back up to the meeting room for part two of the Writer's Workshop. (Again, my notes can be found on the forum.)

We had some free time before supper, so Bowman the Black came over and gave us some weapon demonstrations. I got to practice the quarterstaff and foam sword (foam swords ROCK!) with Lady Rachel. Lady Rachel is, incidently, my daughter on the FT-forum. So I can forgive her for bruising me. I was being quite aggressive anyhow.

After supper a couple of us dressed up in our murder mystery party costumes and took the little kids out trick or treating. That was fun, because I haven't gone for several years. Plus any excuse to sing crazily in the dark is a plus in my book.

Once we got back the mystery itself began. I played a reporter and therefore had a good excuse to start questioning everyone right away. I'm not sure I did a very good job though, because I discovered a vital clue early on but forgot it later when it became important. *thunks head against keyboard*

Anyhow. The party was awesome. Especially because Andrew was playing the part of a drunk guy and was just hilarious in his portrayal. It's always fun to see someone really get into their part.

That should bring it all up to date. I believe there are pictures on both the forum and facebook- with more to be uploaded soon.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sixth Day and Twelfth Night

Yesterday was the sixth day that I've been down here at Shirefeld. I found myself counting it out on my fingers twice- six days already? It can't be! Only four left??? *cries*

We had a laid back morning of watching the kids and cleaning up after breakfast and lunch. (I got to make my own breakfast, and fried up some mashed potatoes. Fried mashed potatoes are my favorite way of reheating mashed potatoes.) Meg and I also took some pictures, which are up on Facebook and the Forum if you haven't seen them yet.

Then Regina, us girls, and the kids headed down to town. I was dropped off at Christendom College, where our friend Bowman the Black gave me a very nice tour of the campus (Christendom is beautiful, has a very small student body, and very high expectations). Meanwhile the others brought the kids to their music lessons, then did a bit of thrift store shopping.

Back at home we all worked together to get supper made. Rosie (Regina's eldest daughter) and I made two cheesecakes for dessert. We added pumpkin to one of them, which was an absolutely brilliant idea because it tasted somewhat like pumpkin pie.

After supper all of us (including Andrew) sat down to watch the movie Twelfth Night. It is the version with Helena Bonham Carter, and even though it wasn't close-captioned I was familiar enough with the story to enjoy it a lot. It was hilarious!

Following the movie the older children and we girls sat around the fire for awhile. Meg, Alex and Katie were catching up on their internet/computer stuff, and I was crocheting while planning a skit with Rosie.

But we were getting rather loud and it was late, so we hurried off to bed. Only I didn't really go to bed. I took my computer over to the addition and watched the first dvd of X-Men Evolution that Bowman the Black had lent to me. It was only an hour, so I was able to do it without loosing too much sleep. And very good. I think I'm now officially an X-Man fan. ;)

Today I believe we are expecting about thirteen more people to join us! Should be fun!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Del Toro's Frankenstein

New article popped up this week about Del Toro's adaptation of Frankenstein. I'm pretty impressed- it looks like he really *gets* the point of the story and is going to do it justice. I'll be excited to see it- if the rating isn't too high.

Yes, believe it or not, I'm a pretty big Frankenstein fan. I had to study it in two of my college classes last year and just fell in love with it. There are so many layers to that story that I can totally understand. And it grew even more interesting when I began researching Mary Shelley herself. Actually, one of my life-goals is to write a novel about Mary Shelley. I have my research books on a shelf in my room- I just have to wait for God to tell me that the time is right.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Random bits of coolness

I'm constantly amazed at how many things happen in one day here...We had quite a long car ride down to the airport to pick up my friend Megan, and so I had a lot of time to think over the past few days. It occured to me that I haven't remembered everything when writing my posts- such as the fact that we watched my film, Little Women the other day.

Today, as I previously mentioned, we drove in to pick up Megan. That was an adventure in itself because it's quite a ride to the airport- but all among beautiful the beautiful Northern Virginian Mountains. It's simply gorgeous this time of year with all of the trees turning color and the light shifting among the clouds.

After arriving home, Regina, baby Polly and I went grocery shopping. It was great to be able to chat more with Regina on the ride and learn more about her writing, etc.

Supper was a LOT of fun. All four of us girls cooked (I directed the making of cream cheese mashed potatoes!) and we had guests! Danny (who plays Fish on the audio drama) and his wife Michele, as well as Bowman the Black and another student from Christendom College. After supper Danny played his guitar, and we all sang and danced with the kids. It was a blast. The songs were all fun and crazy- we even had some Disney Robin Hood to top it off!

We also got to talk to Danny about his experience as an extra in M.Night's The Villiage. It was awesome to hear about that- how he got involved with it, what shots you can see him in, and what actors he was able to meet.

THEN, after supper, we talked with Regina and Andrew about some of Regina's upcoming books. It's really awesome- I can't wait to see what's coming next. Alex O'Donnell and the Forty Hackers (which is the next work in progress) looks absolutely amazing- we were able to see a wee bit of dialogue and it was just hysterical.

And finally, Regina had a chance to look over a couple chapters of my latest book. I was quite happy with her feedback- it was very encouraging. :)


Now...pictures ARE coming- and I'll clarify- BOTH Facebook and the Forum will have pictures. I just don't really know what to take pictures OF. Suggestions would be appreciated.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fairy Tales

As one would expect, Regina's children love fairy-tales just as much as she does. This morning the middle ones and I photographed a sequel to Snow White and Rose Red using the same dolls that they used for their project of the first one. I hope to have it up on the blog here soon.

Then this afternoon all of the kids and I (except for baby Polly) went on a looooong walk. They discovered a cool woods down the road, that "Looks just like a fairy-tale!!!". That was cool.

When we got back from the walk, Bowman the Black (one of the few guy members on the forum) had stopped by to say hello, so I had the chance to meet him. He and Andrew told me about his current writing project, which sounds very interesting. I'm looking forwards to reading it.

This evening two more fans arrived- Puritylover and Ella11 from the forum- both lovely young ladies! We were also joined for supper by Regina and Andrew's friends Nick and Clare. Nick was one of the models for Paul Fester (from "Waking Rose" and "The Midnight Dancers") and so after supper he gave us a brief introduction to some basic aikido moves. That was pretty cool!

Work on the addition progresses- I love what Regina is doing with her meeting/school room. It already reminds one quite a bit of the Shire from "The Lord of the Rings" (they are big LOTR fans) and we came up with an idea of putting bits and pieces of various LOTR places around the wall, going off the points of the compass for location. I hope it works out- it would be very cool.

Pictures will be on the forum or on Facebook- I don't think I'm actually going to post them here. You all know my blog policy.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Covered in Paint

Right now I'm more or less covered in paint splatters...but quite happy about it. We've all been working hard to get everything ready- so far I've done some priming, some painting, some window staining, some dishwashing, and lots of hanging with the kids. And the funny thing is that I love it all! My own siblings are quite old so it's fun to be with the little ones- and then Regina and Andrew are just awesome to talk to.

Tonight Regina and I and her eldest daughter were painting two of the upstairs rooms...we were useing a rather interesting system in which we painted with old oven mitts. Or rather, banged on the wall. Made for an interesting collection of sounds when we started singing random musical tunes...another mutual interest Regina and I discovered.

Afterwards we had a long and interesting talk about what films we find interesting and why. Apparently I need to see the film "Labyrinth" which sounds rather interesting. I picked up a few more interesting things about what inspired "Snow White and Rose Red."

This morning, of course, we went to Mass, which was absolutely beautiful. It's been a number of years since I've been to a Catholic Mass, and never in a traditional church like theirs (only Cathedrals and more modern buildings). So it was very cool.

Afterwards we drove up to an Apple Orchard which is on a very high hill surrounded by other, higher hills. It was gorgeous- we had wonderful weather today and apparently the forecast is going to be quite good for the rest of the week. We discussed the possibility of going back later this week, which I hope we can because I want to get pictures of the amazing vista.

After a visit to their son Joshua's grave, we returned to the house. The girls showed me around the property and we had a good lunch. During clean-up Regina and I got into a very interesting conversation about what makes Catholocisim differant from Protestantisim. (For those of you who don't know, I am a Protestant, Regina and her family are Catholics). Regina explained a lot to me about Marian Theology. It was very interesting and intriguing because I had never heard it explained the way she did it. Definetely a lot of food for thought there...

(I know I missed yesterday's post- it's still coming because it's rather specific, but it needs to be edited)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Visiting

Good morning everyone! I'm still not sure whether that's an oxymoron or not, but seeing as I got woken up by a kitty for almost the first time in two years, I'm quite happy. ;)

For those of you who don't know, I am currently visiting my favorite author Regina Doman and her family. I run her fan forum and several of the other fans will be joining us later this week.

I arrived safely last night, had a lovely supper with the family, and then spent the first half of the evening getting to know the house and the kids. The kids and I discovered a mutual interest in drawing, so we all drew pictures while Andrew (Regina's husband) read from Regina's third book, "Waking Rose." Then we had evening devotions and the children went off to bed.

I have to laugh just thinking about the second half of the evening because it was so fun and so unexpected- I had no idea that Regina and Andrew would have time to read the entire typed portion of the movie script on the first night! But they did! I got so much awesome feedback on the scenes...character motivations (my actors are going to squeal!)...some fun new lines and brief appearances by Fish...all this on just the first night!!!

Andrew went to bed around 1:00, but Regina and I stayed up chatting until 3:00 AM. That was pretty cool. Besides the movie we just talked about things in general...getting to know each other. It was lovely!

Now I should probably get up and see what everyone is up to- I think we're going to be painting part of the house today. (They are working on an addition to their house and are trying to get as much done as possible before the other fans arrive).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Well although Mamselle Duroc tagged me for this several days ago, I've been putting it off (I don't often do memes). However, it's been making the rounds so I thought I'd indulge. ;)

THE RULES
Link to the person who tagged you, list the rules, write six random things about yourself, tag six-ish people by leaving comments on their blogs and let the person who tagged you know that you've written the post.

1. I've dyed my hair....7...(I think) times in my life, and my favorite color so far has been the wackiest one- maroon.

2. I think I have almost ten large containers of fabric in our garage. And I still buy new pieces every year.

3. I sing. All the time. Everything from Phantom of the Opera, to worship music, to random Disney songs. In fact the only non-movie-related music that I really love is "The Sound of Silence" by Simon and Garfunkel. And yes it drives my family slightly insane.

4. (Stealing this from Lady Rose) In our forum family I have...13 children. And live in Rivendell. And have one daughter married to the non-evil-twin brother of the Witchking of Angmar (see Lady of the Rose's blog for details), and another daughter married to Charlie Weasley. The rest of my sisters are married to various gentlemen from every thing from Anne of Green Gables to Twilight. And my favorite adventure so far has been the time we played virtual Quidditch together.

5. If my last writing project were published in book form, it would be over 300 pages long. And I'm rewriting it from page one.

6. I have a hidden wish to someday dress up as Bellatrix Lestrange from Harry Potter.

I tag anyone on my blogroll who has not already been tagged for this meme. So if you're there and haven't done it yet....THIS MEANS YOU!

Monday, October 20, 2008

On Writing...again...

Writing is a part of my life. It has been ever since I was a little girl and first learned how to make letters into words and words into sentances.

Or perhaps it reaches back further than that. While writing hinges on words to work properly, and while a writer must be a wordsmith, he or she must also be a storyteller. And ever since I first began playing with dolls, long ago, I've been a storyteller.

In fact I distinctly remember one time, when I was a young child, going to my mother with a story I had made up in my head. My parents were impressed enough by it to type it up while I narrarated it to them. I believe I still have those papers somewhere.

So that brings me to now. Writing is still a part of my blood. However it's not a simple thing. It's not always easy just to sit down and write- and yet, I must.

I've heard over and over again from many differant wise people that as a writer, I must write. It doesn't have to be on my story, it can be something quite silly, and yet I must never stop writing.

So that is why I indulged in fan fiction this summer. That is why I go through the trouble (and joy) of keeping up the blog. It is because I am growing as a writer, even if I am not actually working on a novel.

But...I DO have a novel. I've been working on it for two years and it has finally presented a form to me that I think will actually work. So I've spent the last two weeks typing away furiously at it. Sometimes it's rather a bit of rubbish, and I use the backspace key a lot, but usually, even if I'm not in a "writing" mood, after I've been typing for about ten minutes the wheels will start turning.

Writing is work. And you've got to keep at it. But hopefully it won't kill you in the process, but instead revive and invigorate you. And who knows? Maybe someday we'll find our novels on the shelves of a store and introduce our beloved characters to a wider audience...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Indiana Jones 4

I didn't type out the whole name because technically this isn't an official review. On the advice of my father (who knows my deep-rooted aversion to aliens) I didn't expose myself to the visuals of the final third of the film (except for the happy ending) so I can't really go in depth on all of that.

My thoughts are these:

The whole alien plot is pretty creepy and stupid.

But-

Cate Blanchett does a pretty good job as a Russian

Marion is BAAAAACK!

and finally....Mutt Williams is even better than I was expecting. He's not a stupid sidekick- he knows what he's doing and really, at some points, out-Indy's Indiana himself! That was a pretty nice twist, and it makes sense.

(SPOILER!!!!)

I mean, what else would you expect from the son of Marion Ravenwood and Indiana Jones?

So hopefully if they go through with a 5th Indy movie (as the buzz is reporting), they'll be smart enough to give Mutt even more screen time, and pick a plot that is not nearly as disturbing as stupid aliens.


EDIT: Oh, and I should also say that there's some pretty good cinematography and cool use of shadows. It's Spielberg, so I shouldn't be surprised. He's a master with that stuff.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Many Levels...many times...

Several of my friends and I sat down tonight to watch the 2005 Pride and Prejudice together. Though I've seen it many many times before, I can watch it over and over again because it is just such a beautiful piece of art. The language, the adaptation, the music, the acting, the cinematography, the colors...and the symbolisim...

The more times I watch it, the more I can focus on things like symbolisim. Others have pointed out the meanings behind the birds in the films...and the weather. I paid particular attention to the weather this time. How it is stormy when the characters are emotionally upset, and particularily the dramatic, punctuating use of thunder in the first proposal scene between Lizzy and Darcy. (To be contrasted with the second proposal scene, which is the picture of tranquility.)

And, really, that's why we read or watch anything multiple times. It's because we can find new meanings, lines and words and emphasis's each time we go through.

The other reason is, of course, going back and greeting old friends and joining them once more on their adventures...but if it were exactly the same everytime it would grow boring. We have to approach art from differant angles- or, to put it simply, at differant periods in our lives.

So I suppose we all have our own particular "classics." Books that may never be regarded as classics by the world, and yet are to us because they continue to be relevant to us at whatever stage of life we are in. Because we can continue to find those meanings and those levels. Whether it's Pride and Prejudice, or Star Wars, or Peter Pan, we keep going back because we know we'll find something new. And, at the same time, something very old and very true.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Importance of Education- REAL education

"No...I mean something about what a dreadful teacher she is, and how we're not going to learn any defense from her at all," said Hermione.

"Well, what can we do about that?" said Ron, yawning. "'S too late, isnt' it? She got the job, she's here to stay, Fudge'll make sure of that."

"Well," said Hermione tentatively. "You know, I was thinking today...[...]...that maybe the time's come when we should just- just do it ourselves.

"Do what ourselves?" said Harry suspiciously. [...]

"Well- learn Defense Against the Dark Arts ourselves," said Hermione.

"Come off it," groaned Ron. "You want us to do extra work? D'you realize Harry and I are behind on homework again and it's only the second week?

"But this is much more important than homework!" said Hermione.

Harry and Ron goggled at her.

"I didn't think there was anything in the universe more important than homework," said Ron.

"Don't be silly, of course there is!" said Hermione [...]. "It's about preparing ourselves, like Harry said in Umbridge's first lesson, for what's waiting out there. It's about making sure we really can defend ourselves."

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Pg 325
Yes, I'm using a Harry Potter book to make this point. The reason for this is that HP #5 is structured around the importance of being prepared- even if that means going against the system to do so.
As illustrated in the passage above, an evil and unprepared teacher has descended upon Hogwarts, and is making a right muddle of the school's most important subject. Without proper training, none of the students will be prepared to face the forces of evil descending on the world (which the goverment is currently refusing to believe).
So the students take matters into their own hands. They realize that it is not tests and papers and homework that is important- but rather what they are learning.
Why is this important? It's important because in this day and age, very few people truly care about what they're learning. They go to school because they *have* to. They get a four year college degree not because they really want to learn what's being taught, but because they want an " good education" and the degree that will get them a high paying job.
Well, first of all, if a degree is all that's important, why bother with a Liberal Arts college? Yes, in our system for some jobs that is the only way- which is slightly stupid.
What is the use of learning something if you don't really care?
And why don't you care? Shouldn't you?
First of all I should say that I'm not blaming young people for this attitude. Once the goverment made school mandatory, no one really had any choice about what they were going to learn. All they could do was learn what the goverment required. It didn't matter if the subjects or teachers were irrelevant- they had no choice but to get the best grades they possibly good. Because it was the grades that really mattered. Grades, apparently, are a test of how much you know.
But here's the thing that I think any person knows. Things stick in your mind if they are interesting to you. Sometimes you may not want to learn them, but they interest you, so they stick in your mind anyhow. And there are of course some interesting things that slip out anyhow. But if you want to remember something, for it's own sake and not because of a grade, it is much more likely that you will.
So what's the point of this?
The point is, everyone needs to come to a place in their life where they take a step back and look at their education. And it is especially important to do this before going off to college and spending thousands of dollars on a four-year-degree.
What I learned a year ago was "Don't go to college if you aren't going to take advantage of it." If you ever find yourself going through a class only for the grade, then stop and think. You're paying for this. Why is it important? Is the piece of paper that is called a degree really worth years and money to sit through classes that you forget?
Ultimately, I think the grade system, at any level, is somewhat stupid. I was forced through high school math by being told "You need it for College."
Well so what? What if I get to the point where I'm not in college anymore? Then what use were all the years I spent on math?
To sharpen my brain? To build discipline? Well couldnt' I have learned something more useful than Algebra???
I'm saying all of this not to make you discontent with your school system, but to make you stop and think. Why am I here? What is the purpose?
And then to determine an answer.
If your school isn't teaching you what you think you should be learning- don't give up. There are plenty of books and videos and smart people around you who can help you learn what you think you need to know.
Take charge of your own education.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Whatnot and Wingnuts

Time to welcome another friend to the blogosphere! My friend Max has joined us with Whatnot and Wingnuts, a blog which is already surprising me by it's depth, even though I've known Max since he was born. :)

So, without further talk, click here if you want to see some interesting and intriguing ideas...including some C.S. Lewis stuff, which I know you all love.

Snapshots of Random Beauty: October '08

We are often too busy to stop and look at the world around us, and notice the beauty of the colors, shapes and patterns that form the changing seasons. I'm implementing a new feature on this blog to draw attention to this deficit....to be called, "Snapshots of Random Beauty"
Looking through the wire
A humble surface
Forgotten fruits
Still in bloom
Berries and Leaves
Two roads diverging in a yellow wood. ;)
Crimson set apart.
A Tree of Gold
Sunshine.
Dreamy afternoon
Wisps and mists
The details and the larger picture.
Shadows and colors
a break in the wall
A rainbow of colors
Pumpkins in the leaves
Autumn in the backyard
Purple still flowers
A Cat's eye view

The Road Not Taken, By Robert Frost

A year ago I was sitting in a variety of classrooms, learning a variety of subjects that were more or less interesting. But while I was learning these more or less interesting subjects, I was internally debating the wisdom of a four-year college degree. After all, my major was English Literature and Writing, and that wasn't going to immediatly land me a job when I graduated. At least, not the type of job I wanted.

The following poem, which we studied in American Lit that semester, in many, many ways describes what I was feeling then (and have felt since). It is written by my favorite of the modern poets, Robert Frost, who manages to be simple, beautiful, and understandable in an age when the face of poetry was fast changing.


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the differance. Who knows? Only God can truly see where our paths will take us. All we can do is take the one that he seems to be pointing too, and pray for guidence every time we come to a fork in the road.

One thing I should probably make clear- I haven't totally abandoned higher education. At some point I'm going to finish my degree so that I can someday homeschool my children. But at this point in my life it doesn't make sense to be sitting on a college campus, when I could be doing other things like, say, making "The Shadow of the Bear" into a film or nannying four amazing children.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Drawing of Lady Jane Grey

Based on the cover of the DVD for the movie "Lady Jane" starring Helena Bonham Carter and Cary Elwes.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair is not a movie I would pick up off a shelf and just watch. It looks much too...suspicious...for that. But at the third recommendation of a very good friend of mine, I decided to give it a try. And I was pleasantly surprised.

The heroine of the movie is Rebecca "Becky" Sharp. She's a social climber, but not an unlikeable one. She's smart, witty, beautiful...and genuine. That was what made the movie more than just a soap opera or a tragedy...Becky is real. Her heart isn't made of stone, although she hardens as she matures. She's human though, and makes mistakes, but is forced to pay for them. And Reese Witherspoon does a fantastic job of portraying her.

The rest of the cast is fantastic as well. It is a rather large cast, though, so I'd only recommend this film to those who can follow complicated social plots and are prepared to think about things afterwards.

As I said to one of my friends, this is like Jane Austen on hormones. It is set against the backdrop of war and thus brings harsher realities than Austen's heroines deal with.

What I also enjoyed was that I couldn't predict everything. The romances are just as complicated as those in real life, with multiple triangles weaving in and out of the story. And the ending is somewhat unexpected, though not unsatisfying. Most importantly, it is realistic.

The main theme of the story is social position vs. true love. Not surprisingly it makes the strong point that our loved ones are far more important than social position. Perhaps that doesn't seem directly applicable to our lives today, and yet I think we can all understand how temperal things of the world can overshadow more important, eternal things such as faith, hope and love.

I'm pretty much just throwing out thoughts here...I don't have a concrete thesis that I'm writing this with, but I thought this movie was too interesting NOT to write something about. I think it's worth watching. However, it is rated PG-13 for good reason. It's definetely an adult movie, with the sensuality being about the same as Phantom of the Opera but the themes being more mature. Still, I will note that it wasn't as "adult contented" as I expected it to be, and if you're into period films with deeper themes, this one is a good one to watch.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

DisneyWorld Adventure!

I apologize for the lengthly absance....but I hope I make up for it with this extensive photo post on my trip to Disneyworld!
The pictures are all somewhat out of order....first is the firework show at Epcot
Cinderella's Castle
Our shadows. (I went with my friend Meg, who often posts as Princess_At_Heart over at the FT Forums.)
A show at Magic Kingdom
The light parade at Magic Kingdom. (Is this Flora or Fauna?)
A London street at Epcot.
Italian pillar at Epcot
Roofs of Germany at Epcot
Florida moon.
A Bagpipe band! (At Epcot)
My Pretty dessert. ;)
Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse (which was closed for renovation. Rats.)
A Pirate Demonstration with Jack Sparrow.
Our Hotel.
The front building at the hotel.
Audrey Hepburn's handprints at Hollywood Studios.
Susan Pevensie's LWW dress at Hollywood Studios
Lucy and Edmund's costumes
Edmund's torch and chess piece
Caspian's costume!
The Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom
Cinderella's Castle at Night
Another look at Cinderella's Castle
The Mural under the castle.
An inspiring plaque at Hollywood studios.