Sunday, October 30, 2011

Surgery News

So. I'm in need of major prayer requests.

Without going into a lot of detail, I'm having surgery on Wednesday. It's a laparoscopy so it's minimally invasive and I can go home the same day, but it still requires cutting and anesthesia and such. I'll be dealing with pain and confined to bed for about a week afterwards.

Reassuring bits? I've had a procedure done before so I'm familiar with anesthesia and its effect on me. Laparoscopies are quite safe and I know women who have had them done, so I'm really not afraid. Also, my problem isn't life threatening, just life inhibiting, so if the procedure doesn't work I'm not in danger of dying or anything.

Not so reassuring? There is no guarantee that the procedure WILL work, and that's what I would like to ask for prayers for. That if this is the way God wants to heal me, the surgery will be successful. Prayers for a quick and complete recovery would also be appreciated!

Thank you all so much being so supportive and encouraging as I deal with these issues this fall. It means the world to me!

Friday, October 28, 2011

What is the plural of Fog?

Did you know it was possible to get 110 points on ONE Scrabble word? I sure didn't. However when my dad put down a 7 letter word, he not only covered two triple word bonuses, but he also got a 50 pt bonus for using all of his letters.

Yes, yes, I was very tempted to throw in the towel at that point, but figured a move that epic should be celebrated by at least finishing the game. And I did manage to close that gap so that I only lost by 60 points in the end. In fact, with 275 points, I think it might have been my highest scoring Scrabble game ever. Which was kind of cool.

We had a couple of words come up that we had to check in the dictionary. Okay, a lot of words. The most perplexing one was "fogs." I mean, that's not a word we tend to use. "There were a lot of different types of fogs settling down in the valley that night." We finally did figure out that it was the correct plural of "Fog" and could be counted in the game, but boy, that was kind of crazy!

Also, "Za" is a legal Scrabble word. "Az" is not.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time in a far away land, a prince awakened a princess with a kiss. But on their wedding day an evil witch appeared and cursed their kingdom, saying that she would send them to a place with no more happily ever afters. They search high and low for a way to deflect the curse, but the only answer they find is the little baby the princess carries inside her...

Once upon a time in a loud and cutthroat city, a young woman named Emma makes her living by lending and collecting bail bonds. Sweet and demure she is not, but apparently someone thinks she's a princess in disguise. That someone is 10-year-old Henry who claims he's the baby she gave away when she was 18, and that she, Emma, is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming. His town, Storybrooke, is populated with amnesiac fairy tale citizens, and Emma is the only one who can set them free...

'Once Upon a Time' is exactly the show fairy tale fans have been waiting for. It's got princes, princesses, swordfights, evil witches, curses, prophecies, fairies, dwarves, mysteries, and yes, of course, true love.

It's also clean, well written, engaging, entertaining, well orchestrated, beautifully costumed and populated with some really cool and well developed characters.

So tune in on Sunday night, 8/7c, on ABC. You're in for a treat!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Secrets of Larger Families

Have you ever wondered what it's like to raise a large family? How does that even work?

I certainly have! Granted, I have a bit of experience since the families I nannied had 4 and 6 children. Still, there were plenty of days when I thought "how could I ever handle this many kids?"

And yet I would like a larger family. More than three, for sure (which is what my parents had). I always wished for more siblings growing up and since I'm planning to homeschool my future kidlets, I think having a family on the larger side makes quite a bit of sense. In the end though, it really depends on what God calls me to.

Anyhow, I believe in being prepared, so I love articles that deal with the logistics of raising more than the typical American two. I came across a pretty good one today that sums up a lot of what I've heard from other sources.

No, I don't plan to have eight children. But I do have quite a few more domestic skills than this blogger, so if she can do it with 8, I would think I could manage with 4, 5 or 6...

I know many of my readers come from larger families. What are your thoughts on this? Any tips the writer didn't mention? I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Secret Klutz? Or not...

Some people are just prone to klutz attacks. It's not a bad thing, as long as they don't hurt themselves. Sometimes it can be fairly funny. For instance, my sister and I always joke that when she falls in love it's going to be a regular rom-com with the coffee spills and other crazy heroine tripping attacks.

I've never really fallen into the klutz zone. I'm really good at catching myself if I trip, and spilling stuff just about never happens.

Well, until this year. Now my number of scars has gone up to 5 (from 2 previous to this summer) and there was a really spectacular incident with a cup of tea the other day that should have been caught on film and sent in to "America's Funniest Home Videos."

So anyhow, I'm now really mystified as to what caused this change. Did I get dropped into "The Princess Diaries"? Are 22 years of suppressed hurts coming out? Have I always been this klutzy, I just kept away from dangerous things?

Actually I suspect it's really just that I'm tired all the time and lack of concentration causes issues like that. Hopefully that'll get better after my surgery in November because today's incident was way too close to leaving me toeless.

But, you know, I wouldn't turn my nose up at the "Princess Diaries" option either.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Women and Comics

(Today's post is guest written by my good friend, C. M. Miller. He and I have been chatting quite a bit about girls in geekdom and he was inspired to write up some of his thoughts for my blog. Enjoy!)

I will wholeheartedly admit to the fact that I am a huge nerd. The biggest source of my nerd-dom comes from my love of comic books, and it’s because of this love that I find myself drawn to situations such as roleplaying via social networking sites. I myself am a fan of it because it draws both players and followers alike in and gives them a sense of connection and familiarity to their favorite heroes. And it’s within this world of fantastical realism that I’ve made quite an eye-opening discovery.
            It’s sort of a given that comic fans are generally going to be male. This has kind of been the given since the invention of the superhero. But you can probably imagine my surprise when I found that Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Wolverine, and many other pillars of machismo from the comic book world were being played by girls. This trend is due mainly in part to the rise of the comic book movie. Because of the success of films like Thor, Captain America, and X-Men: First Class, females are finding themselves drawn into the world of superheroes that, for the longest time, was quite a sausage fest. I personally believe that this trend will move beyond just online roleplaying and into mainstream mediums such as actual comics and films.
            The idea of a strong female comic character that could carry her own series has long been considered a misguided idea perpetrated by supporters of women’s rights. But this rise in female readership will, in my mind, undoubtedly cause an up-swell in demand for more strong female characters. Personally, I hope this does become a reality, as I am quite a fan of these kinds of characters. However, I sadly cannot predict the future and can only sit back and see what lies in store for the female comic audience.

(What do you think? Are we girls making our voices loud enough for the big companies to hear us? Join the discussion in the comments below!)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Downton Abbey

It's easy to write off Downton Abbey as just another BBC Miniseries. Yet to do so would be to miss out on a beautiful gem of drama and a deep and insightful look into the social hiearchy and psychological journeys of the citizens of 1912 Britain.

Downton Abbey is the story of an entailed estate currently belonging to Lord Grantham. However, he has no sons to inheirit, which means the property and money will pass to the nearest male relative upon his death and leave his daughters penniless. Eldest daughter, Lady Mary, has been engaged to the current heir, but when that heir is a casualty of the Titanic wreck, everything changes.

Now the estate is due to go to a distant cousin. Who works. As a lawyer. And doesn't use a valet. Horror of horrors! Mary certainly won't think of marrying him, and he isn't interested in middle daughter Edith. And matters just become more difficult from there.

Meanwhile there is another world beneath stairs. The lives of the servants are given just as much screen time and sympathy as those of their employers and Downton Abbey paints a compelling and empathetic picture of the lives of the working class. Never before have I so clearly felt that I understood what it was like to work as a servant in the Edwardian/Victorian age.

Technically this show is probably the finest piece of work I've ever seen from the BBC. Costumes, writing, acting, cinematography -- it is all fantastic and a definite cut above past dramas.

But what really sells the story to me is the heart behind it. The characters are not stereotypes and one dimensional. They are living breathing people who genuinely care about each other and the future of Downton Abbey. They have their flaws, but they also have their virtues, something which I feel is often lacking in television and period drama these days. I don't just want to see scandal and rivalry... I want to see love, trust and sacrifice as well.

The show (at least the first season) is fairly appropriate. There is one footman who is a homosexual and there are two brief subplots that deal with that, the most obvious being in the first episode but nothing graphic. Then later on one of the women has a love affair, but again nothing is seen and there are clear and disastrous consequences.

Over all I would say this is a top notch show that I would highly recommend. I will be eagerly looking forwards to watching subsequent seasons when they're released on DVD.

Oh, and did I mention that it's quite funny? Maggie Smith plays the hilarious matriarch. I've borrowed some quotes to share with you all and whet your appetite for more:

• Cora: "I hope I don't hear sounds of a disagreement."
Lady Grantham: "Is that what they call discussion in New York?"

• "What is a weekend?"

• "Last night! He looked so well. Of course it would happen to a foreigner. No Englishman would dream of dying in someone else's house."

• "One can't go to pieces at the death of every foreigner. We'd all be in a constant state of collapse whenever we opened a newspaper."

• Cora: "I hate to go behind Robert's back."
Lady Grantham: "That is a scruple no successful wife can afford."

• Lady Grantham: "Why would you want to go to a real school? You're not a doctor's daughter."
Sybil: "Nobody learns anything from a governess, apart from French and how to curtsy."
Lady Grantham: "What else do you need? Are you thinking of a career in banking?"
Cora: "Things are different in America."
Lady Grantham: "I know. They live in wigwams."

• Lady Grantham: "You are quite wonderful the way you see room for improvement wherever you look. I never knew such reforming zeal."
Mrs. Crawley: "I take that as a compliment."
Lady Grantham: "I must've said it wrong."

Friday, October 14, 2011

New Avenger Trailer Analysis and Transcript

I could hardly call myself a geek if I didn't comment on the new Avengers trailer, now could I?

I'll admit, I haven't been terribly enthused about the movie because I wasn't too keen on the line-up, particularly in the girl department. I mean, of course I was delighted that Joss Whedon was directing, but still...

Anyhow, the new trailer has gotten me very excited about the movie. It looks like it's going to be a ton of fun, but with some really good character development. And Whedon is a brilliant, brilliant man when it comes to ensemble cast characterization.

I'm glad they're keeping the team fairly small, although I'm still a little ticked that we've seen five guys on the team (plus Nick Fury) but only one girl. And I like Black Widow just fine, but I would rather have seen a more traditional Avenger woman -- Wasp, Scarlet Witch, or even Ms. Marvel.

I also feel that the trailer focuses a little too much on Tony Stark, and I'm really hoping he doesn't dominate everything the way Wolverine dominated X-Men. However I know he's their strongest property right now so from a marketing standpoint it makes sense. I just hope we can see more from the others in future trailers.

Anyhow, it looks like it is going to be an epic and fun movie and I'm looking forwards to next summer!

My friend Matt was awesome and typed up a transcript of the trailer for me! I'm going to post it below in case any other hearing impaired viewers need it. :) (We're a little uncertain about the identity of a few of the offscreen speakers. Please let us know if you can identify any of them!)

Loki: "You were made . . . to be ruled."
"In the end, it will be every man for himself."
[Stuff blows up]
[random helicopter]
"What do we do?"
Fury: "We get ready."

Fury: "There was an idea . . . to bring together a group of remarkable people. So when we needed them, they could fight the battles that we never could."

[Iron Man flies through the city.]

Fury: "Gentlemen . . ."
Fury: "What are you prepared to do?"

Stark: "No offence, but I don't play well with others."
Cap: "Big man in a suit of armor. Take that away, what are you?"
Stark: "Uh . . . genius billionaire playboy philanthropist."

Thor: [laughs]

[stuff blows up, people punch things, Black Widow poses for the male audience]

Stark: "If we can't protect the Earth . . . you can be damned sure we'll avenge it."

[Iron Man flies out of the water and into the city]

[Avengers title]

Stark: "Dr. Banner, your work is unparalleled, and I'm a huge fan of the way you lose control and turn into an enormous green rage-monster."

[Banner loses control and turns into an enormous green rage-monster]

Banner: ". . . thanks."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pan Am

Imagine a time when regular airplane travel was still new. When the idea of zooming through the air was terrifying and strange. When Pan Am Airlines decided to encourage and lure in more travelers by creating the perfect stewardess. A classy, elegant lady with a reassuring smile and a kind voice ready to fetch whatever you need.

ABC's new show, Pan Am, tells the story of four of these stewardesses and the rest of the crew on their jet. These spunky young women represent a wide demographic of the changes going on during this period.

Maggie is stubborn, sassy and full of spunk, the girl you call at the last minute when your regular doesn't show up.

Collette is French, sophisticated and charming, capable of handling any situation with grace.

Laura is naive, shy and the new face of Pan Am after a LIFE photographer snapped her face and got it on the cover of the magazine.

Kate is Laura's big sister, capable, determined, adventurous, and with a huge heart for helping others. Oh, and she's also a courier for the CIA.

And while the core cast spotlights the women, the pilot (Dean) and co-pilot (Ted) are great supporting characters as well and add some masculine interest to the show.

The show is about relationships, politics, intrigue, and social change. It has wonderful characters, great writing, beautiful cinematography, and fantastic costumes (see my sewing blog for more about the Pan Am costumes!).

It also has gorgeous locations, with episodes taking place in London, Paris and Berlin so far.

I started watching the show skeptically, but was absolutely blown away by how good it has been. So far it's been the strongest premiere of the year, and I'm including the summer shows in that statement as well. I can't wait to see where it goes and I highly recommend it!

As far as appropriateness goes -- there has been a total of one implied sex scene and one inappropriately behaved passenger. Both situations involved appropriate consequences and were discretely handled. Kids won't be interested in the show because it's written for adults, but as far as adult shows go, it is very clean.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

An Update of Unexpected Things

Oh my poor neglected blog! I'm so sorry. I've been working myself up to post some pretty difficult news.

Despite all of our hard work, my health has continued to be debilitating. It finally became clear that there was no way I was going to be able to make school work, so I made the decision to withdraw from college.

It was a hard decision, but I've had a lot of peace and calm about it. Just as I knew I was meant to go to NDSU, I also know that withdrawing was what had to happen. All the whys and hows aren't clear, but I'm able to believe that God has a plan (something that I definitely struggled with for awhile).

And surprisingly enough, things have been going pretty well despite being very sick. My family has been absolutely incredible. They all deserve medals for being so supportive. My friends have been pretty amazing too. And God has brought some other kind of lovely things into my life as well.

Anyhow, it's been a really insane and totally unexpected turn of events and I appreciate all of you being patient as my attention was drawn away by all of this.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Wedding of River Song... the review.

It's time for the Final Installment of this week's Doctor Who fest. Afterwards I promise I shall return to posting things that will appeal to non-DW fans as well. ;)

First off, if you haven't seen "The Wedding of River Song," do not read past this paragraph. There will be spoilers, and if this review spoils the episode for you, I shall be heartbroken. So have compassion on my heart and just watch it. Thank you! :)

----Spoilers Abound---

Remember how I said there were two lines I wanted explained in this episode? And as long as they were explained, I wouldn't care what else was left hanging?

Well they were explained. Perfectly. And more lovely lines, lovely characterization, and awesome stuff made this episode very nearly perfect for me.

(It was too short to be 100% perfect, but it was very close).

Some of my theories were right, and some were wrong. We didn't have a ganger, but we DID have a tesselecta which fulfilled the set-up and pay-off requirement brilliantly, and fooled us all with the ganger red-herring. So kudos, Moffat.

The eyepatches were perfect, and gave us BAMF moments for both Rory and Amy. ("I'm Pond. Amy Pond." So awesome!)

The parenthood aspect was subtle, but there, in its significant role in the wedding. Parental consent on behalf of the brides parents is evidently the main part of a Time Lord wedding.

Well, that and bowties. ;)

And River was wonderful. For a few days I struggled a bit with her overdramatic line that she would suffer more than the entire universe if the Doctor died... but then someone pointed out that she is a very, very young River. And I remember what I felt even a few years ago being in love, and even now I could see myself saying that line. Because when you contemplate someone you love dying (even in a non romantic love way), it's the most terrible thing imaginable. In fact it's not imaginable. The Doctor, of course, is ancient and mature and can sacrifice loved ones for the good of the universe. But young River? No. She can't. Because she's only just begun to live.

The question was perfect. Definitely guessed by fans, but so obvious that most didn't take it seriously. But it is perfect, and I expect that will be a major role in the 2013 50th anniversary year.

And then we've got the Doctor going back to being the shadowy adventurer. The lone rescuer. No longer the focus of every major force in history and space, but someone who slips into the background and performs his heroic actions in secret. This was a necessary turn, and I'm so glad they're setting it up so well.

There is so much more I could say about this episode. And yet I still find it hard to be coherent about it. My reaction when I think of it is to smile and laugh and dance and cheer... because those are the feelings Moffat made me feel. Moffat the master. Moffat who doesn't care about tying up every single scientific little detail, to the annoyance of many. Moffat who brings us the wedding of the Doctor and River Song in an alternate reality on top of a pyramid, involving a robot and a bowtie.

I loved it.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Doctor Who Finale --- are you Ready? And Predictions

The Doctor Who season finale airs in America in just four hours. Are YOU ready?

This season has been a wonderful adventure for me. My first time following Doctor Who as it aired, and being able to share the experience with family and friends, both virtually and in front of the TV. I owe my grandparents a lot of thanks for welcoming us over every Saturday night to camp out in their basement while we took our adventures in Time and Space.

And I really think this season, more than the previous ones, was meant to be watched as aired. It was so plot heavy that waiting week to week and theorizing was really a vital part of the show. I can't imagine future audiences will have quite the same impact when they can watch all 13 episodes in one day (should they so wish).

So what do you think will happen tonight?

My predictions are fairly simple and some of them are extremely popular on various fan sites right now.

  • I think we'll see a ganger. Either the Doctor, or River, or Rory. But the flesh was too well set up in the first half of the season not to reappear. Plus there have been far too many clues that all is not normal with the Doctor at least half of the time. (If you're not in on that secret, I'll give you two clues. Apple. Rubik's Cube.)

  • Following up on this, I think a ganger will play a part in the wedding. Either it's not the Doctor, or it's not River, or the wedding is just for show.

  • The eyepatches have to do with avoiding control by the Silence and allowing the wearers to remember the existence of the Silence.

  • A lot of people have wondered why Amy and Rory didn't seem more distressed earlier this season about not being able to raise River. I think we're going to find out why.

  • Both in the opening two parter and the mid-season finale, many of us felt as though they were only seeing half a story. I think we're going to learn about the other half tonight.

But at the end of the night, there are only two things I want answers to, and they're both based on lines of River Song's.

"I'm sorry my love." ~ River Song as the Tardis explodes

Who is her love? Is it the Doctor... or is it more complicated than that?

"Are you married, River?"
"Are you asking?"
"Hang on, did you think I was asking you to marry me, or asking if you were married?"
"No, but was that yes or yes?"
~ The Doctor and River at the Wedding of the Ponds

Is she married or not? And if so, to whom?

The episode is called "The Wedding of River Song." If we don't get the answers to these questions, there is something seriously wrong with Steven Moffatt's brain.