Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Harry Potter 6 Trailer out!!!

*squeals happily*

I love the titles..."To Know the Future"...."Return to the Past"...

Never imagined that Tom Riddle was ever quite so young...but I suppose he IS only eleven.

Oh- and since I'm doing a HP post, (though brief, since I know many of you are not HP fans), I might as well note that today is Neville Longbottom's birthday. So Happy Birthday Neville! (Neville is a main character in my fan fic, hence the notice here)

If you saw the trailer, please tell me what you thought of it! It hasn't been subtitled yet, so I have no idea what was being said, but the images certainly looked good! (Who is the girl in the bathrobe with the wand? I first thought it was Ginny, but then seeing the high quality picture I realized it's not her. It can't be Fleur because she's not in this film. So who is it? Merope Gaunt? Someone completely new?)

Beauty and the Beast- Progress continues

I actually made it outside for a bit tonight and got to watch over half of "Be Our Guest." It is looking very nice! Kudos to our young choreographer who is doing a fabulous job with our large cast and in spite the mosquitos...

Meanwhile costuming continues inside. Lots of little things- straps here, glue there, iron this, tack that. But there are some bigger things too- today I played around with the fur for the Beast's hands. I think the end result is going to be pretty good.

My biggest limitation (other than time and budget) is heat. It is the middle of the summer, after all, and I am seriously concerned about some of our actors overheating. Some of them (such as Cogsworth, Monseiur D'Arque and the Beast) just have so many layers to their costumes. I think at this point I'm almost more concerned about that than about getting everything done!

But the pieces are coming together. We've been able to borrow a lot for which I am immensely grateful. When you see the pictures of the final cast, you'll understand.

Speaking of pictures, I don't know if I'll have time to take any until next week, but stay tuned because you never know. They'll be very cool when they do end up coming...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Billy: The Early Years

Now this film, telling the first part of Billy Graham's life, is one that I am eagerly awaiting!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Week in Review

Sometimes I think I have no life outside of a computer. Well, this week proved that that isn't true, although I certainly did do a lot of writing/blogging/chatting, etc. (yay for chatting at 2:00 in the morning. It's crazy and fun!)

Mostly I've been busy with Beauty and the Beast costumes. We open in less than two weeks, so the tension is definetely mounting! I'm going to be sewing three days next week, and who knows how many the week after that!!!

Our cast did take a break on Thursday night to run over and watch another community theatre's production of the same show. They were a very high-quality production, with amazing sets and costumes (Their silverware was shiney!!!). And guess what? They're going to let us borrow some of the pieces! Like Cogsworth's costume and the shiney silverware! Hurrah! Don't get me wrong, I love making costumes, but when you're this short on time you're happy to get any "boosts" you can!

Otherwise, it was great to just see the show performed live. I have never seen it on stage before, so it was nice to see how they did their blocking, sets, costumes, etc. They had a great Belle, and a fantastic Babette, a fairly good Gaston, and a Beast who had evidently been directed to walk with a rather amusing lumbering walk. It was a really fun experiance.

And then last night we were busy with a surprise for my dad (work-related) which is why I was away from the internet for 24 hours. Wow. It's sad that even that amount of time can seem like a tragedy to me. But then, I think I have a rather valid excuse. With my hearing loss, the internet is the most practical way for me to communicate with the outside world.

And now, before you all think I'm a lazy couch potato (I'm not! I make costumes and have a job nannying!) I'm going to go outside or something...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Beauty and the Beast Costumes- Update 4

First off I have a glimpse at Gaston's evolving costume...I'm quite pleased with how it's turning out so far. And the vambraces are a big hit!
Here is a peek at some of the rough sketching I do. I don't always sketch a costume- but sometimes I need to get a feel for the shape of something like the Beast's collar, or plot out Mrs. Pott's dress, or simply write down measurements for something more fitted, like Gaston's tunic. (All sketched below)
We are working on the Beast's crown below...originally it had blue, green and red stones, but our Beast didn't really like the red and green, so I painted over those. You can barely tell! And then we're going to do some more "antiquing" work to make it look less plastic-y.
I've had some lovely ladies who have put the finishing touches on the Pepper:
And the Salt:
Here is Salt's jacket. We cut out the lining to create more room and breathability, then lengthed and added to the cuffs.

More, of course, coming soon!

And in other news, I was finally able to actually see Beauty and the Beast performed on stage tonight. Another community group (more professional than us- they actually had a theatre!) was performing and a bunch of us when down to watch them. We had a blast!

The Lost Longbottom

Normally I avoid fanfiction...I wrote quite a bit of it in high school, and found it helpful to developing some writing skills, but now I try to focus on more productive and professional projects.

Recently, however, my friend Megan and I have both been enjoying Harry Potter- books, movies, etc. While I tend to go the more traditional route in which characters I enjoy (and the deeper meanings, etc), Meg is a diehard Cedric Diggory fan. And, unfortunately, there just isn't much in the way of fanfiction for Mr. Diggory that is not perverted by slash.

So, as an early birthday present for Meg (which is no surprise to her) I am writing her a Hogwarts story, with Cedric as an important (though not main) character, and exploring the somewhat interesting concept of the Neville Longbottom implication of the Prophecy. We know he's not important...but do the Death Eaters? And what if they're completely mistaken and end up with Neville's twin sister instead?

So, without further comment, I am presenting a fanfic for your enjoyment- which I sincerely hope is better written than the majority of fan fics out there. The Lost Longbottom.

Beauty and the Beast Costumes- Update 3

Here is the promised update! They aren't all the best, because they're not all being worn, but you can see some of what we're doing. Below we have our Beauty and our Beast (faces blurred because of my personal blog policy) in the blue dress you've already seen, as well as the tunic we made for our Beast. (Yes, that's his real hair. Aren't dreadlocks awesome?)
Below is our project in process of the dress for our "Pepper." She comes out and does a Tango with our salt. We're combining two already existing dresses and it's a bit tricky...but I think the end result will be lovely! (By we I mean myself, as designer, and my team of moms and friends who are generously contributing their time to come and sew/cut/iron/paint, whatever. I could never actually do all this work myself)
Below- a better look at the Beast's tunic. I wanted an antique lace look, so we took the crocheted lace off a bedsheet and used it for the trim. Much more manly than the delicate stuff that you'll see on the girl's dresses.
Here is an example of an already existing dress that we repaired and "spruced up." We gathered the bottom of the skirt to create the lovely drapes and we will be adding a petticoat to the bottom.
Gold= Salt cap, silver= Pepper cap. We're actually adding more to these- they're not quite done yet.
Fabric for the Beast's vest and coat. We had quite a debate over whether to use the lighter or darker fabric, but in the end the dark won. (My preferance, so I'm quite happy. We may spray a bit of gold paint on it to give it a shimmer, though)
Pieces of Mrs. Pott's costume!
We're making six of these aprons and matching mob caps for our "silly girls" (the girls who have crushes on Gaston). It's slipperly fabric, so more work than you might expect. (I've actually had to do nothing beyond direction and design so far on these particular pieces- that may change, but it's been lovely to have such capable helpers!)
A somewhat blurry picture of Lumiere's coat. We added the cuffs, and now I have to add a white panal and color to the front, with some more of the gold ribbon.
And the work continues!!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Word about my recent silence

I just thought I would let you all know that my recent lack of posting has been due to ill health that has plauged me for the past week and a half. I'm well on the mend now, and hopefully tomorrow I will have another photo-filled update on Beauty and the Beast costumes- we've been making great progress, I've just forgotten to have batteries in my camera! And somehow, I didn't think you all would find the posts nearly as interesting without pictures. But soon I hope to tell you more about Mrs. Pott's hoopskirt, the salt and pepper pot costumes, and my brillant restructuring of what will probably be Lumiere's coat. So- stay tuned!

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Thought on Superpowers

We like the idea of doing cool things.

We'd love to fly like Superman-

Shoot webs out of our hands like Spiderman-

Move objects with our minds like Luke Skywalker-

Be superstretchy like Mr. Fantastic-

Ride a broomstick and play quidditch like Harry Potter-

or any of the other countless things that superheros, fantasty heros, and and science fiction heroes get to do in the literary/film universe.

But I was thinking one night, that if we actually had those powers, after a time they'd become pretty ordinary to us.

And then I thought...what about the powers we do have? How much do we underestimate them?

We can hear

Write stories


Create things with our hands

Walk upright

Paint pictures


and most of all...we can think. We have minds that give us an individuality that no other animal can boast.

And yet, like superheroes, we all have our own unique *powers.* I'd love to be a better singer, but God gifted me with writing and costume design. And yet in a way I take even these for granted.

But they are superpowers. Not everyone has them, and animals don't have them at all.

I don't know about you, but I'd much rather be able to write and design costumes than fly. Much more interesting and useful, don't you think? ;)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

What do I listen to?

Though I don't often listen to music while I'm actually writing (it's slightly distracting) I do find myself inspired by music...and then of course there is the fact that I'm constantly singing or listening to music.

I feel that music is a big part of who I am...I'm still trying to figure out why I love the songs that I do. I don't usually enjoy music if I don't know what the lyrics are- and I believe that a song has to be connected to a movie or story that I love for me to become emotionally attached to it. This has been part of my discovery that I am at heart a storyteller, and that everything in my life revolves around the telling of a story.

This also probably explains why I'm not big on many of the popular bands and music groups. I tend to go for movie soundtracks- and usually musicals. There are exceptions of course (like Simon and Garfunkel's "Sound of Silence" which was written for the rather perverted movie "The Graduate" but is still and amazing and moving song) but probably 90% or more of my music is from movies. The songs that I list on my favorites are almost exclusively so.

So why do you listen to music? When you do you listen to it? In the car? While doing the dishes? While writing? Do you respond more to melody or lyrics- or the combination of both (as I do)?

While you ponder that, I'm going to share some of the music running through my ipod right now. I've put my list of favorites on are some songs I'm listening to, and some of my thoughts on them as I do so.

(I don't usually write random thoughts and reflections down in this blog, so enjoy this!)

Right now I'm listening to "Wishing You were Somehow Here Again" from POTO. That is perhaps one of the most hauntingly sad songs of that musical (though they are all rather haunting and sad) and definetely on my list of favorites.

Next is something more lighthearted..."The Simple Joys of Maidenhood" from "Camelot." This is what I would call a satire song (another great one being "Me" from Beauty and the Beast) and is hilarious. The bonus is that I have the original Broadway cast recording with Julie Andrews singing it!

"Reflection" from "Mulan." My sister got me into this song and I've really grown to feel a connection with it. I think most of us can understand the feeling that the world sees a differant person than we really are.

"Just You Wait!" from "My Fair Lady." My best memory of this song comes from several years ago, at bible camp. I was canoing with a couple of my friends and (after getting lost on a side river) we rounded the last bend and one of them burst into a rousing chorus of "Just You Wait!" Most hilarious.

"May It Be" from "Fellowship of the Ring." I don't think any music will ever be able to bring up as many memories as something from LOTR. I spent a good three years of my life completely absorbed in these books and movies...reading them, researching them, drawing pictures, writing fan fics, and of course, ultimately making my own version of FOTR. And beyond all this, I honestly feel that this movie trilogy is one of the best ever made. The creative team behind the production was just able to capture the beauty and depth of Tolkien's world the way I don't think any filmmaker has ever been able to do in an adaptation. Truely something that I, as a filmmaker and writer, deeply appreciate.

"Sigh No More Ladies" from "Much ado about Nothing." The beginning lyrics. "Sigh no more ladies, sigh no more, but be ye blithe and bonny, the fraud of men was ever so, since summer first was leafy" and it is perfect when I'm in a slightly medieval mood...

"Bless Your Beautiful Hide" from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I LOVE this musical! It is so funny and so...outrageous! I would love to write a novelization of this someday, it seems like it's begging to be written! And yet I wouldn't mind another film adaptation as well. I'd love to see what a new director would do with characterization (since I recently saw the new version of Sabrina and was very pleased with the character development they added. Scandelous, I know! But then, I'm curious about the new "My Fair Lady" for this same reason.)

"Far From the Home I love" from "Fiddler on the Roof." Maybe it's because I have a vague wondering whether I'll ever end up leaving home to follow someone I love (I certainly wouldn't put it past myself to do so) but I've always loved and identified with this song. And yet, it's strangely funny, that a female sings this song when, after all, the biblical mandate is for men to be the ones to leave their families...

"Singing in the Rain" need I give explanation for this favorite? Has there ever been a soul who could listen to this song and not at some point in their life be tempted to burst out dancing on a rainy street singing the first lines? Really my only favorite part of that musical...

"I won't Grow Up" from Peter Pan. Over the past two years I've been dealing with growing up. And it's strange because at some point in every one of our lives we have to come to the realization that we are not children anymore. We are adults. And as such there are certain things that we can no longer do without being immature and irresponsible. We have duties and expectations that we must live up to. Still, at the same time, it is important to keep a childlike heart- a childlike faith- and a childlike imagination, even while maturing and growing in wisdom and love.

"Playing with the Big Boys" from "Prince of Egypt." This probably seems like a strange selection, so let me explain. Prince of Egypt may be an animated film, but in a strange way it really captures the flavor of the biblical story in a way that is extremely powerful. When I watch this scene in the movie, I am always reminded of how evil and false the gods of Egypt were. The darkness that comes over the room, the smoke, the evil voices of the magicians- the fear that dominates these people. And yet Moses knows that his God is with him- and I can never for the life of me understand why he doesn't stop the whole thing- except of course that you don't just stop elaborate musical numbers. ;) But seriously, this is one of those moments where as a Christain I think I can see depths in this song that many others would pass over.

"Marian the Librarian" from "The Music Man". Ha- this is just one of my fun favorites. How could it not be? It's fun, and witty,'s in a LIBRARY!!!

"Something There" from "Beauty and the Beast." Until I heard the new songs from the Broadway musical, this was probably my favorite B&B song. One of the reasons was that in the film it's the only song in which the Beast actually sings! But also I love how it shows them falling in love...and so unconventionally!

"Hoist the Colors" from POTC3. I have to admit, when I first heard this music, first saw this in the theatres, I got chills up my spine. I knew at once that this movie was going to be radically differant from the others- daring, chilling, darker...and a strange way I loved it. And since then I've always loved the 3rd movie more than the others. In a way I think it depicts the darkness of the times more accurately than the fun and life of the first one, or the wierd plot-absent Jack/Elizabeth-shipping of the second one.

"When you taught me how to dance" from "Miss Potter." This was a beautiful movie that charmed it's way into my heart...and it is for the movie's story of art and writing and tender love journey as well as for the beautiful melody and lyrics that I love this song. It's actually during the credits of the movie, so if you haven't watched them all the way so next time you see the movie!

"Molassass to Rum" from 1776. This is another one of those chill-inducing songs. I first saw it performed in a professional theatre with the lighting effects and it's really...thought provoking. For those unfamiliar with the story, at this point in the drafting of the Declaration, the northerners wanted to include something about the freedom of blacks as well as whites. But the southern representatives protested this, and the song is sung by their leader, showing the northerers their own hypocrisy, because it is a cycle - molasass to rum to slaves- that the northerners financed (something with the molasass or rum...can't remember exactly). It's just one of those songs that shows the uglier side of history and makes you go..."oh." And the look of horror and yet unability to contradict was SO evident on the faces of the northerners (the actors who played them) well done.

"All I ask of you (reprise)" from POTO. This is one of the great songs of unrequited love and is another that nearly always brings emotion out of me. Unrequited love, really truely shown in all of it's pain, is rarely explored as well as it is in POTO (although the character of Snape in the HP series is another heartwrenching example). This song in particular sums up the despair and anger that drives the Phantom..."I gave you my music/made your song take wing/and now, how you've betrayed me/denied me and betrayed me..." Oh the anguish!

And I will finish with another song from "Camelot"...the title song of course. Lively, sweet, hilarious, and yet a bit bittersweet. This is the during the most glorious time of King Arthur's reign- when he wooed and married Guienever, when Camelot was the center of Chivalry in England, and Might was used for Right. When there, in short was simply not, a more delightful spot, for happily-ever-aftering.

Mmm. So there is my rather rambling blog post which I had fun writing, and which I hope will give you some amusement too. And now, it is your turn. Either in the comments below or perhaps on your own blog, would you please share some of your own favorite songs, why you love them, and what keeps drawing you back to them?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Blog Reviews

For awhile I've been wanting to do a series of posts on the differant links I have on the side of my blog. I have my links up for a reason, but without some sort of description I know that you, my readers, can't really appreciate them.

So for this post, I'm going to do a brief intro to each of the blogs that I link to. I don't necessarily always agree with everything on the blogs, but they are nearly always interesting, informative and appropriete. (Or they will caution you if there is something to be aware of).

I'm going to go down the list in the order that they are currently displayed- which means that whoever posted most recently gets to go first!
This is the blog of prominent film critic, Jeffrey Overstreet. He has been writing movie reviews for Christianity Today for many years, and his book "Through a Screen Darkly" is used in many college classrooms (including my intro to film course). He is thoughtful, well educated in film critique and his opinions are usually worth reading (although sometimes I disagree with them) and his almost daily feature "The Browser" is where I get a LOT of information about upcoming films.
Actually, I got this link through one of Regina Doman's articles. This is a Harry Potter-based blog run by a Christain, which makes it a great source for those of us wanted to dig deeper into the theology behind the series. I've only just started reading his posts, but have enjoyed it so far.

Regina Doman's Updates
I suspect that most of you already visit this, but for those who don't, this is the personal blog of one of my favorite authors, Regina Doman. She links to articles about and by her, includes updates on her writing, and sometimes just plain interesting facts about her life. As her forum administrator I've been mentioned on there once or twice, so that's another reason to read it...(*wink wink*)

My Spare Oom
Grace, my forum *niece* is a new blogger and therefore her blog is still evolving it's identity. She has a delightful sense of humor and sweetness and I look forwards to reading more from her!

Lady of the Rose
Lady Rose, my forum *sister* has been blogging longer than I have, and is pretty similar in what she writes. She does, however, have a great interest in the American Civil War and the Catholic saints and often does informative posts on both.

The Time When Lilies Blow
Mamselle Duroc, also from the forum (though no relation yet) is an extremely thoughtful young lady with a love for all things vintage. Her blog often sports a picture of one of the lovely actresses from the old days of Cinema, and like me she enjoys writing up book reviews. Her most recent project is poetry memorization, which means that she's been sharing some very beautiful poetry with us over the last few weeks.

Delaney, my forum *daughter* (one of the more responsible ones!) has most recently been keeping us updated on her theatrical adventures! I'm looking forwards to some more Shakespeare-based posts from her, since she has recently professed a great interest in him...(hint hint nudge nudge!)

Sarah's Journal
Sarah Beth Durst is an author I've recently discovered and intend to keep my eye on. Her first book, "Into the Wild" was worthy of a review from me, and I have her next book "Out of the Wild" on hold at the library. One of the highlights of her blog are her occasional sarcastic and hilarious commentaries on obscure fairy-tales.

My dear friend RJ is currently sailing in Greece, which makes her blog a fountain of information and adventure. Plus, of course, hilarious and entertaining stories about the differant people she is meeting along the way...and the way God continues to speak to her.

The Fellowship of the FT Forum
I don't think I need to say much about this one- I've done two posts about it in the past!

Paul, my forum *brother* runs this blog, which contains Catholic commentary on life, theology and the arts. Of course, it can get a bit silly sometimes, but that's Paul. The blogstaff is currently going through a rather difficult time, since they lost their fellow writer and good friend Marc to a tragic accident two weeks ago. Please keep them in your prayers! (And watch the beautiful and touching video tribute on Paul's blog)

Danceler's Prince Caspian Costumes
DeLancy, a friend from Narniaweb, has recently announced her decision to revive her thread with the intention of doing posts on non-narnian projects. I am delighted and eagerly looking forwards to hearing more from her, since she is a talented seamstress and I have recieved much inspiration from her!

Isaac is a beginning blogger, and a good writer for his age. I'm looking forwards to watching his blog develop as he continues to write on it!

Josh's Thoughts Blog
Josh is another good real-life friend of mine who is fairly new to the blogosphere. His posts are nearly always worth reading, though he doesn't update nearly as well as I'd like. Like me, he is a budding film director and critic and brings unique and insightful perspectives to his posts on film and faith.

And I believe that's all for now, folks! I'm hoping to do another post about my weblinks and book list as well!

When I was in Europe...

My forum *niece* Grace requested to hear more about my European adventures from three years ago. Now it so happens that at the time I wrote up a piece for our homeschool newspaper, so I'm just going to copy and paste that in here for you all to enjoy! Please keep in mind that it IS three years old, and attribute the poorer writing style to that! Also, it's slightly more "educational" in tone than what I usually post on my blog, because I was trying to make it interesting and informative for the younger readers in our homeschool group.

This March my Dad and I had the privilege to visit three of the most fascinating cities in Europe- Rome, Paris and London. We spent a total of 12 days touring and walked over 80 miles with a group of 34 other homeschooled teens and their moms. We got to see some of the most famous places in the world and have some pretty wacky experiences as well!

Roma, Italia- Walking into Rome was like an entirely different world. Signs in Italian, cobbled streets, cars that looked like toddler toys and pizza without tomato sauce- how much more could there be? Palm trees grew right by the road ways, but there wasn’t much for grass. Every time we turned a corner another ancient structure popped out at us. In the ancient section of Rome we saw the Coliseum, where gladiators fought two thousand years ago. Nearby stood the victory arch of the Emperor Constantine, who made Christianity legal in Rome. A few minutes further on and we reached the Roman Forum, where we reenacted the death of Julius Caesar just a few yards from a stone that marks his final resting place. Beyond the Forum is the Capitoline Hill, which holds a prison cell that meant more to me than the highest wall in Rome. This was the cell where the Apostles Peter and Paul both spent their last days. The ceiling was low, my head was only a few inches from the ceiling at the highest point. It was round and dark and damp. There were no windows. And to think that this was the place where Paul wrote the book of 2nd Timothy!

Vatican City, the capital of the Catholic Church, lies on the other side of Rome. It’s massive walls surround the smallest country in the world- not to mention the extensive art collection of the Vatican Museum. This collection includes the Sistine Chapel, a hallway of magnificent tapestries, (floor to ceiling embroidery!) and hundreds of sculptures. My favorite part was the Basilica of St. Peter's, the largest cathedral in the world. It is so huge that you can’t even grasp the size of it. The people were absolutely tiny next to the walls! Another amazing piece of art is located near the entrance- the Pieta. This work, done by Michelangelo when he was 25 years old, is a sculpture of Mary holding Jesus after he was taken down from the Cross.

Once done with Rome, we boarded an overnight train that took us to Paris, France.

Paris has to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world! All the buildings are the same light yellow color and are decorated in the same style, lots of iron worked balconies and window treatments. And their food was SO good!

One of the best days of the entire trip was the day we went out to the Palace of Versailles. This palace was built by Louis the Sun King three hundred years ago. (Prior to that the Kings and Queens lived in the Louvre, a Palace which is now famous as the largest museum in the world and the home of the Mona Lisa) Versailles is huge- but we only were able to see a few of the rooms. Among those was the chapel where Marie Antoinette was married. We also saw the Hall of Mirrors, but they were restoring part of it so we didn’t see it in it’s full glory. Oh well! After touring the Palace we had the opportunity to walk in the gardens. Then we went down to a little cluster of houses that were built as a play village for Marie Antoinette. It survived the Revolution in perfect condition and now stands just as it was two hundred years ago.

That night we all met under the Eiffel Tower. Let me tell you, it’s size can’t be guessed from pictures! It took us over and hour and a half to get to the top and down again. Part of the way down we took the stairs- no matter how far we walked we didn’t seem to be getting anywhere! But the view at the top was worth it. All the lights shone in the city below- Paris is called the City of Lights.

We also saw the Cathedral of Notre Dame (but no hunchback), The Louvre Museum, the Artists Quarter, and took a boat tour on the Seine River. Many of us also bought ourselves berets that we wore proudly around the city- though the true Parisians had put theirs away for the spring!

Saying goodbye to Paris, our next train took us under the English Channel to the Capitol of Great Britain- London!

London, England- Being what my dad calls an Anglophile (Lover of the English) I was most looking forwards to this city and seeing all of it’s historical places. I was not disappointed. Hampton Court Palace, the home of King Henry VIII (the guy with the six wives, remember?) was amazing! It has 40 rooms just for preparing food! I could just imagine that I had gone back in time 500 years and that old Henry himself would walk around the corner! The Tower of London was a similar experience. It is the fortress of England- complete with two outer walls, full-time guards and resident ravens. (The ravens are paid employees of the queen and have their own passports!) The Tower is famous for two things- #1, it holds the Crown Jewels, including the largest diamond in the world. #2, it was the final lodging place of many of England’s most famous prisoners. These include Sir Walter Raleigh, Anne Boleyn and Queen Elizabeth I.

London itself was exactly how I imagined it to be. Our hotel looked like it had come right out of Mary Poppins, little red telephone booths were everywhere, and yes, they do drive on the wrong side of the road over there! We ate “British” food, including sausages and mash, and fish-n-chips. Dad and I road in a British taxi-cab and we bought everything with British pounds! The exchange rate was really bad while we were there, each of our dollars was worth the equivalent of 50 cents in British money! We attended Palm Sunday service at Westminster Abbey, which is across the road from Big Ben and Parliament. We saw a replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and went shopping in Piccadilly Circus. (It’s not a circus, it’s a square) Our last night we attended a performance of The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre. It was amazing! Of course, a rather interesting addition was the fact that a couple of our guys went in kilts!

So yes, that was my European adventure! My hope is that in the next year I will either be able to go to Europe again, or make another film. However, as one of my friends so wisely pointed out, God probably has something completely differant in mind. Isn't that the truth!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Coffee-House Experience

I'm not really a coffee house writer. Although I can write in pretty busy situations, I do like my privacy for all those random faces I make when visualizing scenes. However tonight some of my friends wanted to go downtown and listen to a free concert that a popular Christain band member was doing, and I thought it sounded like something that would, quite randomly, be fun.

So we drove down to the coffe shop and I brought my writer's notebook and worked through the first draft of the plot for my rewrite of Thistles. Because it deals with time-travel, all of the little details really have to be mapped out from the get-go. Not an easy thing to do- especially when I have to handwrite it all. But being more or less confined to my chair, I had no choice but to hammer away at those details until I had figured out the importance and relation of them all. It's far from perfect, but I have my map now, and there's light in many places that were still pitch-black earlier today.

Speaking of light and dark, we drove through the most amazing weather on our way home. The rain was pouring down like crazy. On one side was the dark, stormy sky, with lighting flashing over the skyscrapers and cathedrals of the city. On the other was the golden haze of clouds masking the sunset. The contrast was almost eerie.

And then as we drove away from the city the fierceness of the lightning gave way to layer upon layer of misty clouds, shot with rays of light, and the golden haze vanished to reveal the huge orange sun hanging in the west.

There are some benefits to being a backseat passenger, as opposed to driver or navigator.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Northanger Abbey

I just finished watching the latest BBC adaptation of Northanger Abbey...(yes RJ, I went snooping around in your DVDs yesterday)...and I must say I was quite delighted with it. The ending went a bit too fast, but the beginning was perfect. Austen's beginnings are usually quite important, and Northanger Abbey has one of the funniest. The whole book, of course, is a parody/satire of a Gothic Novel and this adaptation totally embraced that. Catherine's imaginings work quite well on film- I only wish that the running time was longer!

Of course, I should also add that since some actual Gothic novels are narrarated onscreen, this adaptation is not as suitable for younger viewers as the book is. However for us older watchers it's quite fun! Henry Tilney is without a doubt the most humerous of the Austen heroes, and Catherine Moreland is in many ways the most *normal* young teenager of the Austen heroines (the youngest of all, I believe). Her naive assumptions and wild imagination give this whole story much more interest than a normal Austen book. Unlike the other five novels, it does not dwell wholely on the functionings of society, since the purpose, of course, is to poke fun at the Gothic novels that were popular in Austen's day. It's also the shortest book (and film adaptation) which makes it a good introduction to Austen for a newcomer- or someone who doesn't want to tackle the finer works of Emma or P&P yet.

The only drawback is that it's harder to find these new BBC adaptations, which is quite the pity. I wish we Americans had a similar production company to make sure that our population continued to get exposure to the great literary works of our country. (Not that we have quite the same level of humerous romance- Little Women is about as close as you can get here!)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Beauty and the Beast Costumes- Update 2

Well, work continues. I have the bodice for the gold gown nearly completed (apart from the shouder drape and rosettes)
The apron for the blue dress is done
And here, as promised, is a closer look at the white knite eyelet fabric. Isn't it lovely?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Yet another version of Robin Hood?

That takes even greater liberties with the legand...

Russell Crowe and Sienna Miller are playing the Sheriff of Nottingham and Maid Marian in the film "Nottingham" which will include a love triangle between those two and Robin Hood.

It's an interesting twist, although the idea of Marian taking a second look at anyone but Robin is hugely annoying to me.

Still, while I'd like to see a version that harks back to the good old adventure days of Errol Flynn and the like, it's not as though there's a "book" to be purist about. Robin Hood is a legand, with each generation adding something to the cannon. It just gets annoying when things sneak in that totally twist the original premise.

So, if it's not rated R, I may end up seeing this one. It's worth keeing my eye on, anyhow.

Far Traveler

As I think has become apparent by now, I love historical fiction. Probably better than anything else, including fantasy. However, as I have also mentioned before, it is extremely difficult to find decent and appropriete fiction- especially now as I move into adulthood and find much of it soaked with sex and language.

Far Traveler is meant for teens and young adults- unfortunately, because it's a story that could have been a gripping adult novel as well.

However, along with the Rosemary Sutcliff books, it is a great story of Anglo Saxon England- and unlike Sutcliff's work, it is geared towards a female audience.

Aelfwyn is a princess of Mercia, a grandaughter of Alfred the Great. When her mother dies she finds herself a mere pawn in the hands of her uncle.

Escaping from an unpleasant marriage, she disguises herself as a boy and runs away, posing as a traveling minstral. What she doesn't expect is that this guise will give her a perfect role in an insurrection against her uncle...

What I enjoyed about this book was that the author actually works against the cliches of this plotline. Aelfwyn is not a tomboy. Indeed, a major part of the plot is that she cannot master riding the great war horse that her mother gave her. She would much rather study her books...

Furthermore, she doesn't want to dress up and run away as a boy. She does it because she literally has no choice- it is that or marry a man 3 times her age (at least). And I'm sorry if that's cliche, but I can't think of any girl that would reasonably accept being sent away from your people to marry a man that much older than you. It's just not right.

What I also enjoyed were the referances to Anglo-Saxon literature and poetry. Caedmon's hymn, of course, gets passing mention, but even more than that, the poem "The Wanderer" is quoted (which readers of Tolkien may find surprisingly familiar to a certain song of Rohan). For this alone I would highly recommend this book to any parent as worthy of being included in their history course.

To the young people themselves I would say that it's an unusual story, with an unusual heroine, and a hero type that I think we should see more often. Go ahead- order it from your local library.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Beauty and the Beast Costumes- Update 1

Thanks to the help of my friend Hannah, I have already made very good progress on Belle's blue dress (as you can see below). The white fabric is actually a beautiful white knit eyelet- I'll try to get a better picture of it soon!
And here are the three fabrics (lining, underskirt, and bodice/overskirt) for Belle's gold ballgown.
Bodice assembly for the gold gown!

Introduction to "Beauty and the Beast"

This Broadway Musical has just soared to hover near the top of my list of "favorite" musicals. As I've said elsewhere, I am currently costuming a local production of this, an opportunity I am thankful for because it has given me a chance to fall in love with the "new" songs.

And of course, now I'm going to share them with you. (How is it that youtube can possibly escape lawsuits for all the copied songs you can find on there? I don't understand it, but it certainly makes my job easier here...)

No Matter What Belle wonders if she is unusual- her father reassures her

Me Gaston comes to propose to Belle...this man's self-opinion knows no bounds...

Home Belle, though a willing prisoner, mourns for the home she left behind.

How long must this go on? The Beast wonders how much longer he must be forced to suffer under the spell.

If I can't love Her After Belle runs away, the Beast looses hope (probably my favorite new song- if you only listen to one of these, this is the one!)

Human Again A hilarious song sung by Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, Babette and the Wardrobe, talking of all the things they hope to do when they are human again, filled with hope as the Beast and Belle seem to be falling in love

Maison de Lunes Gaston, Lefou and the Asylum Keeper plot against Belle and her father (I thought it would be creepy, but it's actually hilarious)

If I can't love her (Reprise) The Beast, having given Belle up, looses his last hope- even more than before.

Transformation, end duet Belle does a reprise of Home- realizing that her home is with the Beast. The Beast transforms...sings to Belle...and then everyone greets each other and lives happily ever after.

Note- there are mutiple versions of all of these songs, but I chose to post the ones compiled by FusionAngelFuAn, since they are pictures rather than mediocre high-school performances.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

In Memory of a True Knight

Yesterday I logged onto my account at the FT-Forum to find out that one of our members had died in a heroic attempt to save his father's life. Marc and his friends have participated on the forum and he was a regular writer at Paul Xavier's website (Paul is a very good online friend of mine).

This has been a difficult thing for many of us on the forum- but I can't even begin to imagine the suffering of his family and friends. All our prayers are with them at this time.

From Regina Doman's blog:

Marc Girard, 18, looked like your ordinary Catholic teenager. But he was

He had a Facebook page. He was a part of the Fairy Tale Novel Forum
(even though, like most guys, he hadn't read the books :) ). He was careless
about spelling. He hated having his picture taken. His avatar was a man making
funny faces. To his four younger siblings and to most of his friends, I am sure
he sometimes seemed very ordinary. Even though he took his Catholic faith
seriously, and sometimes challenged his high school friends on different

His friend Paul Ethier was surprised when Marc told him that he was
planning to join the Franciscan
Friars of the Immaculate
, who had a friary near the Girard home in Griswold,
CT. Marc was accepted as a postulant, and was going to join the Maine, NY friary
in August.
The Girard family had been through a lot. Last year they suffered
two hardships in a row: first, their home burned down. The only thing in Marc's
room that survived the fire was his picture of Padre Pio.

The family lived on a trailer through the winter, but then this spring,
the property was foreclosed.

father Thomas was working hard to keep the family together. In his free time he
helped the Friars of the Immaculate on their outreachs: this past spring he was
"Grand Master" knight for their group, The Knights
of Lepanto
, as Catholic fathers and the friars "initiated" their sons into
Catholic knighthood. The photo at the top shows Marc carrying a "penance pack"
of 15 pounds of rocks during the "intiation."

Thomas found a new house for the family, and they were going to move on
the first day of July, yesterday, in fact.

The day before the big move, Thomas took his two sons, Marc and Lucas
and daughter Hannah swimming at a pond down the street from their old house.
There was an island a short distance from the shore, and they decided to swim
out to the island.

Marc took his younger brother Lucas, 11, along and they swam safely to
the island. Mr. Girard took their daughter Hannah, age 7, in his arms and came
along behind them.
Hearing his sister Hannah screaming, Marc turned back and
the boys saw her bobbing in the water. Their father was gone. Marc stopped
several feet before reaching the island. He sent Lucas ahead and went back for
his father and Hannah.

Marc swam out to Hannah. He pushed her towards shore until she was
safe, told her to pray, and then dove back in to find their father.

He died trying to save him.

Read the rest here.