Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Brief Introduction to the Best Picture Nominees -- with Legos!

Not familiar with some of the Best Picture Nominees for the 2011 Academy Awards? Then check out these pictures done by a fan, featuring one scene from each movie -- in Legos!

My brother was a big LEGO fan when he was younger, so much so that my father had to build a special box that separated all the different colors into their own sections so that we could build easily. Our biggest project was without doubt when we set out to recreate scenes from all of "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers." That was pretty epic.

So needless to say, Alex Eylar's work has my full interest, and I highly suggest you check it out. :)

(Photo by Alex Eylar)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

X-Men Art for the Week

This week's drawing round up.

First off is a piece I did inspired by the thought "Who does the laundry at the X-Mansion?" This is the only picture where the reference photo is partially my own photo, and not official X-Men art.

Then, to please some Nightcrawler fans and try a new format, I did a close-up on Kurt Wagner's face. That was interesting...

And my favorite is probably this picture of Emma and Scott, which I had a LOT of fun with. It's best when viewed in full size, which you can see by clicking on the smaller version below.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Sense and Sensibility - Facebook Style

This year is the 50th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility." In celebration of this, I hereby present to you a humorous piece depicting this famous novel - Facebook style.

Mr. Dashwood, Mrs. Dashwood, Elinor Dashwood, Miss Marianne Dashwood, and Margaret Dashwood listed NORLAND PARK as their city.

Mr. Dashwood to John Dashwood
“Take care of your stepmother and sisters.”
John Dashwood said: “Of course, Father.”

Mr. Dashwood deactivated his account.

Marianne Dashwood is in the depths of despair.
Elinor Dashwood said: “Marianne, I don't think you ought to display your feelings so publicly.”
Marianne Dashwood said: “Elinor, how CAN you be so unfeeling! Our father just died!”
Elinor Dashwood said: “Still, we ought to keep our public displays of emotions in check and not give way to despair.”
Marianne Dashwood said: “...”


Elinor Dashwood gives up.

John Dashwood is contemplating how he might assist his sisters.
Fanny Dashwood said: “Not by giving them money.”
John Dashwood said: “Oh, I thought perhaps a hundred pounds or so per year.”
Fanny Dashwood said: “In ten years that is a thousand pounds our precious Henry won't have! I'm sure your father only meant that you should send them an e-card on their birthdays. That's more than most natural brothers would do.”
John Dashwood said: “Ah, you're quite right as always, Fanny.”
Fanny Dashwood said: “Of course I am. Now lets go move into our new house.”

John Dashwood and Fanny Dashwood listed NORLAND PARK as their city.

Fanny Dashwood is planning all sorts of improvements for Norland Park.

Marianne Dashwood and Fanny Dashwood are no longer friends.

Margaret Dashwood cannot stand Henry Dashwood.
Elinor Dashwood said: “Margaret, we must be nice to him. He's a stranger here.”
Margaret Dashwood said: “He is the most annoying boy I ever met and he stole my pony.”

Fanny Dashwood is expecting a visit from her beloved brother Edward.
Mrs. Dashwood said: “Oh! How... nice.”
Fanny Dashwood said: “We'll need to give him Margaret's room. She has the best view.”

Margaret Dashwood and Fanny Dashwood are no longer friends.

John Dashwood needs a break from the henhouse.

Edward Ferrers checked in to NORLAND PARK.

Edward Ferrers to Fanny Dashwood
“I believe the servants directed me to the wrong room, it appears to belong to one of the family. Don't worry, my new room has a lovely view of the stables and I do admire horses.”

Edward Ferrers is now friends with Elinor Dashwood, Marianne Dashwood, Margaret Dashwood and Mrs. Dashwood.

Edward Ferrers to Elinor Dashwood
“Was that your drawing on the library table?”
Elinor Dashwood said: “Yes, it was. Thank you, I've been looking for it.”
Edward Ferrers said: “Oh, no problem. It's a beautiful drawing.”
Elinor Dashwood said: “Thank you.”
Edward Ferrers said: “Would you like to go riding with me tomorrow?”
Elinor Dashwood said: “That would be very pleasant, thank you.”

Mrs. Dashwood thinks they must stay at Norland Park a bit longer.
Marianne Dashwood said: “Mother! Are you serious?!?”
Mrs. Dashwood said: “My dear, take a look out the window.”
Marianne Dashwood said: “Oooooh. Elinor and...?”
Mrs. Dashwood said: “Indeed.”
Marianne Dashwood said: “He's not very romantic though, is he?”

Marianne Dashwood to Elinor Dashwood
“He's a bit dull, but when he is my brother, I shall love him dearly for your sake.”
Elinor Dashwood said: “What on earth are you talking about?”
Marianne Dashwood said: “You know EXACTLY what I mean.”

Fanny Dashwood to Mrs. Dashwood
“We need to have a talk.”

Fanny Dashwood and Mrs. Dashwood are no longer friends.

Mrs. Dashwood is packing up her daughters and leaving Norland Park.

Sir John Middleton and Mrs. Dashwood are now friends.

Sir John Middleton to Mrs. Dashwood
“I may have the perfect new home for you.”

Edward Ferrers to Elinor Dashwood
“I must speak with you before you leave. There is something you don't know about the years I was educated.”
Fanny Dashwood said: “Edward, why on earth would Elinor care about your education?”
Edward Ferrers said: “Uh... no reason.”

Mrs. Dashwood, Elinor Dashwood, Marianne Dashwood and Margaret Dashwood listed their city as BARTON COTTAGE.

Marianne Dashwood thinks her new home is tiny and desolate.
Margaret Dashwood says: “But we're by the ocean! Maybe we'll see pirates!”
Elinor Dashwood says: “It is small, but cozy. I think we'll be very happy here.”
Mrs. Dashwood says: “Of course we shall. Especially after Edward comes to visit.”
Marianne Dashwood says: “Oh yes. All shall be better when Edward comes.”

Elinor Dashwood sometimes despairs of her family's discretion.

Mrs. Dashwood, Elinor Dashwood, Marianne Dashwood and Margaret Dashwood are now friends with Sir John Middleton, Lady Middleton, Mrs. Jennings and Colonal Brandon.

Colonel Brandon to Elinor Dashwood
“Your sister plays the piano with much feeling.”
Elinor Dashwood said: “Uhm... thank you?”
Colonel Brandon said: “Too much feeling can lead to bad ends. I have seen it happen.”

Marianne Dashwood thinks Colonel Brandon is an old fuddy duddy.
(only viewable to limited friends list)
Elinor Dashwood said: He's not THAT old!
Mrs. Dashwood said: Indeed, he's younger than me. What do you think I am, Methuselah?
Margaret Dashwood said: He can't be that old. Mrs. Jennings says he's gonna marry you!

Marianne Dashwood thinks Mrs. Jennings is an interfering old busybody.
(only viewable to limited friends list)

Colonel Brandon is going to visit Barton Cottage.

Mariane Dashwood to Margaret Dashwood
Margaret Dashwood said: “But it's going to rain!”
Marianne Dashwood said: “Nope. It's not.”

Mrs. Dashwood, Elinor Dashwood, Marianne Dashwood and Margaret Dashwood and John Willoughby are now friends.

Elinor Dashwood is worried about her sister's twisted ankle.

Marianne Dashwood is in RAPTURES.

John Willoughby has met a very delightful family.
Marianne Dashwood said “This wouldn't be ours, by any chance, would it?”
John Willoughby said: “How very perceptive you are, Miss Marianne.”
Marianne Dashwood said: “Why thank you! Would you like to come over to dinner tomorrow?”
John Willoughby said: “I would be honored to. Perhaps we could read more poetry?”
Marianne Dashwood said: “Are you trying to be the perfect man?”
John Willoughby said: “Am I succeeding?”
Marianne Dashwood said: “I shall let you know presently.”
Margaret Dashwood said: “I think I'm going to puke.”

Colonel Brandon isn't sure what to think of this Willoughby fellow.

Mrs. Jennings must now rearrange her matchmaking plans.

Sir John Middleton thinks that Willoughby has a splendid little pointer!
Marianne Dashwood said: “But can he dance?”
Sir John Middleton said: “Why, I'm not sure...”
John Willoughby said: “I can absolutely dance. May I claim you for the first one tonight, Miss Marianne?”

Colonel Brandon REALLY doesn't like Willoughby.

Colonel Brandon set up an event: PICNIC AT DELAFORD.
Mrs. Dashwood, Elinor Dashwood, Marianne Dashwood, Margaret Dashwood, Sir John Middleton, Lady Middleton, Mrs. Jennings and Willoughby are attending.

Colonel Brandon canceled the event: PICNIC AT DELAFORD.
Sir John Middleton said: “Oh no, must you?”
Colonel Brandon said: “My errand cannot be delayed.”

John Willoughby thinks Colonel Brandon is a stick-in-the-mud.
Marianne Dashwood said: “LOL.”
John Willoughby said: “Could I ask you to come with me to visit my aunt's estate instead? You know, the mansion I'm going to inherit someday.”
Marianne Dashwood said: “I think I might faint with the delight of the invitation!”

Elinor Dashwood is wondering why a certain visitor has never arrived.
Margaret Dashwood said: “Yeah. I miss Edward.”
Elinor Dashwood said: “*headdesk*”

John Willoughby to Mrs. Dashwood
“Might I solicit a private audience with your daughter, Miss Marianne, tomorrow morning?”
Mrs. Dashwood said: “ABSOLUTELY!”

Marianne Dashwood does not know how she will be able to sleep tonight.

John Willoughby to Mrs. Dashwood
“I am afraid I must leave for London at once. I do not know when I shall return. Goodbye.”
Mrs. Dashwood said: “Uh... goodbye?”

Marianne Dashwood THE WORLD HAS ENDED!
Elinor Dashwood said: “What has happened?”
Marianne Dashwood said: “IT IS TOO HORRIBLE TO TELL YOU!”

Mrs. Dashwood to Elinor Dashwood
“I don't understand. Weren't they engaged?”
Elinor Dashwood said: “I don't know. Didn't she confide in you?”
Mrs. Dashwood said: “I don't know. I thought she confided in you!”

Margaret Dashwood thinks men are a lot of bother.

Mrs. Dashwood, Elinor Dashwood, Marianne Dashwood and Margaret Dashwood are now friends with Miss Steele and Lucy Steele.

Mrs. Jennings has decided she must find husbands for Miss Steele and Lucy Steele.

Lucy Steele to Elinor Dashwood
“We are going to be best friends!”
Elinor Dashwood said: “It is a pleasure to make your aquintance.”
Lucy Steele said: “I feel as though I already know you. You see, your sister-in-law's brother, Edward Ferrers, is actually my secret fiance!”
Elinor Dashwood said: “EDWARD?”
Lucy Steele said: “Oh yes! But you must PROMISE never to tell ANYONE!”
Elinor Dashwood said: “I would never betray the confidence of the sisterhood.”

Elinor Dashwood finds herself in a pickle.

Marianne Dashwood misses her beloved Willoughby most terribly.

Mrs. Jennings has invited Elinor Dashwood, Marianne Dashwood, Miss Steele and Lucy Steele to the event: A TRIP TO LONDON.
Elinor Dashwood said: “Thank you, but I couldn't leave my Mother.”
Mrs. Dashwood said: “Of course you can!”
Marianne Dashwood said: “Oh Elinor! We must go! We might see Willoughby!”

Elinor Dashwood agrees that there are some things one cannot fight against.

Mrs. Jennings, Elinor Dashwood, Marianne Dashwood, Miss Steele and Lucy Steele have checked into LONDON.

Marianne Dashwood cannot wait to see Willoughby!

Marianne Dashwood is still waiting for Willoughby's letter...

Elinor Dashwood to Marianne Dashwood
“Will you please come shopping with us?”
Marianne Dashwood said: “I cannot. What if Willoughby stopped by?”
Elinor Dashwood said: “You can't spend your whole time sitting by the door. Come, at least join us at the ball tonight. Willoughby has been invited.”
Marianne Dashwood said: “Oh then well of course!”

Marianne Dashwood to John Willoughby
“Willoughby! Why have you not answered my letter?”
John Willoughby said: “...”
Miss Gray said: “Pray, who is this woman, John?”
Marianne Dashwood said: “WHO are YOU?”
Miss Gray said: “I'm his fiance.”

Marianne Dashwood is heartbroken.

Fanny Dashwood and Lucy Steele are now friends.

Lucy Steele is so very excited to meet a certain someone's family!

Elinor Dashwood, Marianne Dashwood, and Lucy Steele are attending the event: SUPPER WITH THE FERRERS

Mrs. Ferrers thinks that Elinor Dashwood is a very fine young lady, but have you seen the beautiful painting Miss Morton did?
Marianne Dashwood said: “Who cares about Miss Morton?”

Marianne Dashwood cannot stand Mrs. Ferrers.

Edward Ferrers to Elinor Dashwood
“I thought I might pay a visit this afternoon.”
Lucy Steele said: “Oh, you must!”
Lucy Steele said: “i mean, I would love to met you!”
Edward Ferrers said: “You're staying with them?”
Lucy Steele said: “I most certainly am!”

Elinor Dashwood wonders if things could get more awkward.

Colonel Brandon to Elinor Dashwood
“I heard about Willoughby. Perhaps it will help your sister to know that the man is a scoundrel who seduced and abandoned my adopted daughter and her child.”
Elinor Dashwood said: “Sir, you cannot be serious!”
Colonel Brandon said: “Regretfully I am.”

Marianne Dashwood will never face life with a smile again.

Miss Steele wishes Edward would hurry up and marry Lucy.
Fanny Dashwood said: “WHAT?!?!?! ARE THEY SECRETLY ENGAGED?”
Miss Steele said: “Oh crap.”

Lucy Ferrers is terrified but knows she can depend upon her darling Edward.

Marianne Dashwood CANNOT believe that EDWARD is secretly engaged to LUCY.

Elinor is really glad the secret is finally out.
Marianne Dashwood said: “YOU KNEW? How on earth did you keep it inside you? Oh Elinor, I am so sorry!”

Mrs. Ferrers is no longer friends with Edward Ferrers.

Colonel Brandon to Elinor Dashwood
“I find myself very sorry for Edward Ferrers and I think I might have a living to offer him. Could you perhaps tell him?”

Elinor Dashwood thinks things did indeed get more awkward.

Edward Ferrers is wondering exactly why Colonel Brandon wanted to give him a living. Is the Colonel sweet on Elinor?
(viewable only to limited friends)

Marianne Dashwood thinks life is nothing more than a series of tragedies.

Elinor Dashwood thinks it is high time to go home.

Marianne Dashwood cannot resist the chance to walk by Willoughby's home – even if it is raining. For it is far better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all.

Elinor Dashwood is terrified that her sister's sickness will prove fatal.
Colonel Brandon said: “Please, is there anything I can do to assist her?”
Elinor Dashwood said: “Bring my Mother.”

John Willoughby to Elinor Dashwood
“I heard Marianne was dying. I could not stay away. You must believe that I truly loved her. I was going to propose to her when my aunt found out about my love child and insisted I marry the baby's mother. She was a foolish girl that I never loved – how could I marry her when I was in love with your sister?”
Elinor Dashwood said: “Because it was your duty and your mistake to atone for.”

Marianne Dashwood feels very sorry for Eliza and her baby and is very glad she did not, after all, marry Willoughby.

Mrs. Dashwood is so very thankful that her daughter has recovered.

Elinor Dashwood is thankful to be home.

Colonel Brandon to Marianne Dashwood
“Might I call on you tomorrow?”
Marianne Dashwood said: “Yes, you may.”

Marianne Dashwood's relationship status is IT'S COMPLICATED.

Margaret Dashwood is wondering if someone wants to tell her why the servant says EDWARD is married to Lucy Steele?

Elinor Dashwood has decided it is time to move on.

Colonel Brandon is wondering if Marianne might like to try his piano at Delaford.
Marianne Dashwood said: “I should love to.”

Marianne Dashwood and Colonel Brandon are now in a relationship.

Marianne Dashwood has come to realize that her sister Elinor is her greatest role model.
Elinor Dashwood said: “Isn't that rather high praise?”
Marianne Dashwood said: “No. I've been sentimental and foolish and have let my emotions overcome me. I ought to have conducted myself with your restraint.”

Edward Ferrers is on his way to Barton Cottage.

Edward Ferrers to Elinor Dashwood
“How are you? It has been a long time since we've talked.”
Elinor Dashwood said: “I am quite well. And how is Mrs. Ferrers?”
Edward Ferrers: “My mother is quite well.”
Elinor Dashwood said: “I mean your wife. You know. Lucy.”
Edward Ferrers said: “You mean Mrs. Robert Ferrers? Lucy decided she'd rather marry the brother with the money and so here I am, absolutely single.”
Elinor Dashwood: “Absolutely single?”

Edward Ferrers changed his relationship status to SINGLE.

Elinor Dashwood to Edward Ferrers
“I... don't know what to say.”
Edward Ferrers said: “Say you will marry me.”

Elinor Dashwood and Edward Ferrers are now MARRIED.

Marianne Dashwood and Colonel Brandon are now MARRIED.

Margaret Dashwood is turning the empty bedroom into a pirate cave.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sense and Sensibility is hardly a fairy tale.

After reading this article on why women supposedly like Jane Austen, I decided I needed to write a post on why "Sense and Sensibility" means so much to me, and why it hardly acts as "female wish fulfillment."

The Dashwood sisters are not rich, or even financially comfortable young ladies who can spend all their days practicing feminine accomplishments. They are gentlewomen in distressed circumstances and owe the roof over their heads to the generosity of a distant relative. It is only due to the kindness of others that they receive the opportunity for such things as nice dinners, a bit of dancing, or a chance to see London. Nor do they have any sort of fatherly protection. It is only due to Marianne's lack of fortune that saves her from marrying an unrepentant seducer.

These are young women that are forced to become independent in every sense of the word. They have only the wisdom of each other to rely upon (which places Elinor in a very lonely position indeed). They are forced to worry about such things as budgets, and spend their days in a tiny, drafty cottage. They cannot have fine dinners or parties and are lucky if they're invited to join others in their extremely desolate neighborhood.

But despite all this, do Elinor and Marianne sit around and mope about their circumstances? No. Well Marianne overdramatizes a bit, but in the end they learn how to make the best of it. They trade pianos and ballrooms for wildflowers and country amusements and determine how to expand their tiny cottage. They learn that appearances are deceiving, and the worth of a man is not judged by his looks and wealth, but by his integrity and honor (Going back to that article I mentioned at the beginning, Edward Ferrers and Colonel Brandon are hardly princes on white horses!).

Indeed, when all is said and done, I strongly feel that Marianne and Elinor, more than any other Austen heroines, live lives and learn lessons that are similar and applicable to young women of today.

Anne Hathaway and James Franco practice for the Academy Awards

Just a peek at the fun in store for us this year!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A look at the Academy Award Nominations for 2011

32 days until the Academy Awards! It's time for me to spill my thoughts regarding the 2011 nominations.

Disclaimer -- due to the fact that most of these movies have not yet made it onto film, I've been unable to see as many as I would like. Bear in mind while reading any comments! Also, there are a few catagories in which I felt I was not at all qualified to offer any sort of opinion and so I removed them from this list. You can see the full list of nominees at

Performance by an actor in a leading role
Javier Bardem in “Biutiful” (Roadside Attractions)
Jeff Bridges in “True Grit” (Paramount)
Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Colin Firth in “The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company)
James Franco in “127 Hours” (Fox Searchlight)

~From all I hear, these nominations are well-deserved. Colin Firth is the general favorite right now and I have to say I'm 100% behind that. I haven't seen the film but I've heard so much about it and from what I understand, Colin Firth really does a phenomenal job as George VI.~

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Christian Bale in “The Fighter” (Paramount)
John Hawkes in “Winter's Bone” (Roadside Attractions)
Jeremy Renner in “The Town” (Warner Bros.)
Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right” (Focus Features)
Geoffrey Rush in “The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company)

~Little to comment about here, but it would be splendid to see Geoffrey Rush or Christian Bale come away with an Oscar.~

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right” (Focus Features)
Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole” (Lionsgate)
Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter's Bone” (Roadside Attractions)
Natalie Portman in “Black Swan” (Fox Searchlight)
Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine” (The Weinstein Company)

~This year is weird for me in that not only have I seen none of these films, but I'm also completely unfamiliar with three of these actresses. I do love Natalie Portman, so even if I'm not very enthused by all of the content in "The Black Swan," I do understand the complexity of the role and would enjoy seeing her walk away with an Oscar.~

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Amy Adams in “The Fighter” (Paramount)
Helena Bonham Carter in “The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company)
Melissa Leo in “The Fighter” (Paramount)
Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit” (Paramount)
Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom” (Sony Pictures Classics)

~My personal favorite here would of course be Helena Bonham Carter. That woman is amazing and it is high time she returned to period drama and got recognized for her brilliance. That being said, I also understand that Hailee Steinfeld was pretty fantastic and would approve if she walked away with the award.~

Best animated feature film of the year
“How to Train Your Dragon” (Paramount) Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
“The Illusionist” (Sony Pictures Classics) Sylvain Chomet
“Toy Story 3” (Walt Disney) Lee Unkrich

~"The Illusionist" was a total surprise in this category, as I was completely expecting "Tangled" to receive the nomination. However my friend Chloe has been raving about it and I can appreciate the recognition of a foreign/indie film. However my vote for this one is (unsurprisingly) going to go to Toy Story 3. Still, I wouldn't be at all upset if "How to Train your Dragon" won. Pixar has swept the awards for so many years now it's not even funny, and "How to train your Dragon" really was very good.~

Achievement in art direction
“Alice in Wonderland” (Walt Disney)
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part
1” (Warner Bros.)
“Inception” (Warner Bros.)
“The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company)
“True Grit” (Paramount)

~Granted, I haven't seen all of the films here. But I have to really say that my vote is going to Harry Potter. The art direction for the entire series has just been fabulous, and the "Tale of the Three Brothers" was a daring but brilliant piece of design.~

Achievement in cinematography
“Black Swan” (Fox Searchlight) Matthew Libatique
“Inception” (Warner Bros.) Wally Pfister
“The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company) Danny Cohen
“The Social Network” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Jeff Cronenweth
“True Grit” (Paramount) Roger Deakins

~Oh, INCEPTION, please win this one! All the others seem to me to fall in the territory of "been there, done that" (except possibly Black Swann...) and I feel "Inception" really should get this one.~

Achievement in costume design
“Alice in Wonderland” (Walt Disney) Colleen Atwood
“I Am Love” (Magnolia Pictures) Antonella Cannarozzi
“The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company) Jenny Beavan
“The Tempest” (Miramax) Sandy Powell
“True Grit” (Paramount) Mary Zophres

~I suspect "The King's Speech" might win this one. However, that said, my vote goes towards "The Tempest" which features very original costuming. Just check out the trailer if you dont' believe me!!

Achievement in directing
“Black Swan” (Fox Searchlight) Darren Aronofsky
“The Fighter” (Paramount) David O. Russell
“The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company) Tom Hooper
“The Social Network” (Sony Pictures Releasing) David Fincher
“True Grit” (Paramount) Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

~Pretty mad that Christopher Nolan didn't get a nomination here. That being said, since I haven't actually seen any of these films, I feel highly unqualified to offer any sort of an opinion. Personal favorites would of course be the Coen brothers.~

Achievement in film editing
“Black Swan” (Fox Searchlight) Andrew Weisblum
“The Fighter” (Paramount) Pamela Martin
“The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company) Tariq Anwar
“127 Hours” (Fox Searchlight) Jon Harris
“The Social Network” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter

~If I'd seen any of these I could possibly offer an opinion, but honestly I just don't know. I'll be pretty interested to see who carries this one.~

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
“How to Train Your Dragon” (Paramount) John Powell
“Inception” (Warner Bros.) Hans Zimmer
“The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company) Alexandre Desplat
“127 Hours” (Fox Searchlight) A.R. Rahman
“The Social Network” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

~It would be really interesting to see "How to Train Your Dragon" carry this one, although I doubt it'll happen.~

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
“Coming Home” from “Country Strong”
(Sony Pictures Releasing (Screen Gems))
Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and
Hillary Lindsey
“I See the Light” from “Tangled”
(Walt Disney)
Music by Alan Menken
Lyric by Glenn Slater
“If I Rise” from “127 Hours”
(Fox Searchlight)
Music by A.R. Rahman
Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong
“We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3”
(Walt Disney)
Music and Lyric by Randy Newman

~I haven't seen "Tangled," but if it's written by Alan Menken, I know it's gotta be good. So that's my vote.~

Best motion picture of the year
“Black Swan” (Fox Searchlight)
A Protozoa and Phoenix Pictures Production
Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklin,
“The Fighter” (Paramount)
A Relativity Media Production
David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark
Wahlberg, Producers
“Inception” (Warner Bros.)
A Warner Bros. UK Services Production
Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers
“The Kids Are All Right” (Focus Features)
An Antidote Films, Mandalay Vision and Gilbert
Films Production
Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray,
“The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company)
A See-Saw Films and Bedlam Production
Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin,
“127 Hours” (Fox Searchlight)
An Hours Production
Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson,
“The Social Network” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
A Columbia Pictures Production
Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and
Ceán Chaffin, Producers
“Toy Story 3” (Walt Disney)
A Pixar Production
Darla K. Anderson, Producer
“True Grit” (Paramount)
A Paramount Pictures Production
Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
“Winter's Bone” (Roadside Attractions)
A Winter's Bone Production
Anne Rosellini and Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Producers

~Okay, any of the pictures I pick I definitely have an agenda behind. I'd love to see "Inception" win it, in the interest of acknowledging a truly remarkable bit of big budget science-fiction. It would be amazing to finally see an animated film win, as would happen if Toy Story 3 somehow won. Since neither of these are very likely, my third choice would be "The King's Speech" because I think it's just such a cool story and has so many good actors in it that I appreciate.~

Achievement in sound editing
“Inception” (Warner Bros.) Richard King
“Toy Story 3” (Walt Disney) Tom Myers and Michael Silvers
“Tron: Legacy” (Walt Disney) Gwendolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague
“True Grit” (Paramount) Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey
“Unstoppable” (20th Century Fox) Mark P. Stoeckinger

~"Inception" please. Considering that sound is a major plot point in the film, it sort of needs to win.~

Achievement in sound mixing
“Inception” (Warner Bros.) Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick
“The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company) Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen and John Midgley
“Salt” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Jeffrey J. Haboush, Greg P. Russell, Scott Millan and
William Sarokin
“The Social Network” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark
“True Grit” (Paramount) Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and
Peter F. Kurland

~Can I say "Inception" again here?~

Achievement in visual effects
“Alice in Wonderland” (Walt Disney) Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas and Sean
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” (Warner
Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz and
Nicolas Aithadi
“Hereafter” (Warner Bros.) Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojanski and
Joe Farrell
“Inception” (Warner Bros.) Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and
Peter Bebb
“Iron Man 2” (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment,
Distributed by Paramount)
Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick

~This is a bit of a hard one. How can I choose between "Inception" and "Harry Potter"?~

Adapted screenplay
“127 Hours” (Fox Searchlight) Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
“The Social Network” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
“Toy Story 3” (Walt Disney) Screenplay by Michael Arndt Story
by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee
“True Grit” (Paramount) Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
“Winter's Bone” (Roadside Attractions) Adapted for the screen by Debra Granik & Anne

~Is "Toy Story 3" in here because it's a sequal? Well, glad to see animated films getting taken seriously in this year's nominations. However my vote here is going to "True Grit." From all I understand, it's a very good adaptation of the book (which the John Wayne version actually didn't follow closely at all, I understand)~

Original screenplay
“Another Year” (Sony Pictures Classics) Written by Mike Leigh
“The Fighter” (Paramount) Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric
Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric
“Inception” (Warner Bros.) Written by Christopher Nolan
“The Kids Are All Right” (Focus Features) Written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
“The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company) Screenplay by David Seidler

~I'd like to say "Inception" here, but I have to seriously give David Seidler kudos for taking a subject like a king's speech impediment and turning it into such a well-received film.~

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Elenatintil's Academy Award Extravaganza

I LOVE movies. I've got a collection of over 100 DVDs myself, and I'm working on completing my fourth feature-length film. I love surfing the internet for tidbits of news and rumors, and I'll even pick up People Magazine in the doctor's office to see what I can learn.

So is it really any surprise that the one television event I actually look forwards to and watch is the Academy Awards?

The show has cleaned up in the years since I started watching. There have actually been some really fantastic programs, with my favorite highlight being Hugh Jackman's opening musical number two years ago. How can you top that?

This year's hosts are Anne Hathaway and James Franco, two actors I really enjoy. Not to mention they're both two of the youngest hosts we've seen in years and should bring a really interesting vibe to the show.

The official nominations were announced today, and in honor of this I wish to announce my own blog event to take place between now and February 27th.

We are going to have our own Academy Awards, and all of YOU are going to get to vote! I'll have a poll set up for each catagory, starting with the bottom of the list and working upwards to Best Picture. I'll be taking the polls down as soon as they close, so you'll want to tune in on February 27th to get OUR results, as well as the official ones!

There are also some fun interactive plans I have that I'll be revealing over the next week. Meanwhile, stay tuned for a post discussing my opinions of the 2011 nominations!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mere Christianity – Chapter Two

“Some Objections”

Mere Christianity was originally a series of radio talks that C.S. Lewis gave during World War II, specifically directed to the men serving in the service. It has been edited into the book format it exists in today, but the format of the radio talks still remains. This is clearly illustrated in chapter two when Lewis refers to the letters he's been receiving from listeners regarding chapter one.

I think this format is exactly what makes this book so valuable. In some ways, it's almost like a blog. Lewis had a chance to expand not just on what he saw as issues, but on the issues that his listeners brought up. This provides a much more comprehensive explanation than the normal theology book that, at most, would only be tested amongst a small circle of friends and editors.

Using these letters, Lewis continues to build upon the principle of Moral Law from chapter one. He wishes to separate the instinctive knowledge of Moral Law from the natural impulses of human nature. To do this he utilizes the example of music.

“Strictly speaking, there are no such things as good and bad impulses. Think once again of a piano. It has not got two kinds of notes on it, the 'right' notes and the 'wrong' ones. Every single note is right at one time and wrong at another. The Moral Law is not any one instinct or set of instincts: it is something which makes a kind of tune (the tune we call goodness or right conduct) by directing the instincts.”

As a musician, I can really appreciate this analogy and I think it's absolutely true.

Another section that jumped out at me (so much so that I underlined it, which is a shocker because I abhor writing in books):

“If no set of moral ideas were truer or better than any other, there would be no sense in preferring civilized morality to savage morality, or Christian morality to Nazi morality. In fact, of course, we all do believe that some moralities are better than others. […] The moment you say that one set of moral ideas can be better than another, you are, in fact, measuring them both by a standard […] you are, in fact, comparing them both with some Real Morality, admitting that there is such a thing as a real Right, independent of what people think, and that some people's ideas get nearer to that real Right than others.”

Amen, Mr. Lewis.

I have a tendency to start skimming when I'm reading non-fiction. This is part of the reason why I decided to do “Mere Christianity” for the blog project. I knew the format was going to force me to pay attention and really understand the ideas Lewis is positing. So far, it's working great!

Random thought. I absolutely love Lewis's use of capitalization to highlight his point.

Looking for the King

If you've been frequenting any of the websites I have recently, no doubt this book has popped into your awareness. The premise is quite intriguing. Young American's searching for remnants of King Arthur under the mentorship of the Inklings? What could be better?

Well, that's a case in point.

Author David Downing is an Inklings historian with a (as I understand it) lot of knowledge and credentials under his belt. As such the chapters that contain Lewis, Tolkien and Williams absolutely come alive. The dialog, thoughts, expressions -- they all bring to life these famous men. I could have gone on reading those chapters forever.

However the rest of the book struggles from lack of experienced novel craftsmen ship. The original protagonists are weak, their interactions cliche` and lackluster, and the search for King Arthur works as nothing more than a MacGuffin. What's so terribly frustrating is that it's a really good idea that could have been an amazing book if the execution had been stronger.

However, having said that, it's a short enough book that it's worth picking it up just to read the chapters featuring C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Charles Williams.

And who knows? Perhaps the sequel will be better.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Evolution of a Rogue

I decided to take on Rogue as my next X-Men project. Choosing to challenge myself further, I picked this reference photo and made a detailed sketch.

(click any image for full-size viewing)

The catch was, this picture really was too detailed for tracing paper to work adequately. So I scanned the sketch in, loaded it into GIMP and colored the image red. I also used this chance to make the image about twice as large as the original, so that I'd be able to work in more detail. Then I printed out a fresh copy.
I then went over the red print out in black ink and scanned it back in.

Now I could select only the black and eliminate all the red, leaving me with the nice black lines I wanted. Then I colored in the layers, going over some of them more than once to achieve the contrast I wanted.
Since Rogue is one of the characters I'm playing on a forum RPG, I made a signature with this picture. A brush and a softglow filter completed the effects.

(Please ask before reposting any of these images anywhere, or doing anything with them. Thanks!)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thoughts on the religious symbolism in LOST, Season 6

I finished LOST yesterday.

Yeah, I know it's pretty late after the fact. But I didn't watch the show until this summer, and season six was pretty much impossible to get ahold of. I finally signed up for Hulu Plus a month ago (not sure if I'm going to stick with it for very long, but I do love Hulu) and finally realized that this gave me access to season six (with the all-important captions). Since I'm still more or less confined to bed (yeah, I know, it really stinks), I was able to watch the whole season in just a couple of days.

(WARNING! Spoilers ahead! Do not read if you have not watched Season 6!!!)

And you know, it was weird. At first I felt very disoriented and found it very strange to jump back into the show, especially since I had already seen the finale. Then the emotional draw sucked me in and I found myself caring just as much as I ever had. Which, to be quite honest, I hadn't expected since I'd given LOST very little though in recent months.

What surprised me even more was the strong religious metaphor, allegory and symbolism in this season.

(But, honestly, considering what the main publicity photo was, should I be surprised?)

Watching this season made it very clear to me why Catholicism was highlighted so much in the earlier seasons. It used to bug me that all the Christians were Catholic, but Season Six relies so much on Catholic theology and imagery that it makes sense that they had to prepare viewers for it.

Why do I say this? Well, a few reasons.

(And I wish to post a disclaimer -- I am NOT Catholic, but I have many, many Catholic friends whom I've discussed Catholic theology with, I've read a lot on the subject, and I've attended Catholic Mass many times. I feel I do know what I'm talking about, but I apologize in advance if I've mixed up any facts.)

First off, Jacob and Jack passing on their authority by the sharing of a cup is blatently mirroring the Last Supper. The reason it feels Catholic to me, rather than just generally Christian, is that Protestants see the communion cup as a symbol, rather than having any real power. Catholics very literally believe it the body of Christ and having very real and important power in they daily life of following Christ. When Jacob and Jack pass on their authority, the water is pretty clearly the physical means of this passing. You could argue that it's a symbol, but I think it's more than that.

Secondly, Jacob's "job offer" to Richard Alpert uses suspiciously indicative imagery. He asked Richard to be his intermediary between himself and the residents of the island. Now while I wouldn't call Jacob "God," he does carry a lot of God allusions and in this particular instance, it sounds a LOT like Jesus calling Peter to be his rock. In the Catholic Church, the Pope is the intermediary between God and Man. The Pope himself is not without sin (just as Richard is not) but when he speaks from God (as when Richard speaks from Jacob) he is believed to speak infailably.

Thirdly is Hurley's visions of those who have passed. His dead friends regularly come back to talk with him and guide him. I see in this pretty strong parallels to the Catholic belief of the appearances and revelations of the Saints. This parallel grows even stronger when you consider that, in the end, Hurley is pretty much portrayed as the most blessed and pure of heart. He's clearly a man who communes with "angels" rather than "devils" to put it to extremes.

Finally and I think most poignantly are the "flash-sideways" which in the end are revealed to be an inbetween space. After death, yet before the "Losties" are ready to go on to eternal life. There is nothing like this in Protestant theology, but it shares some very interesting similarities with the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory. The purpose of Purgatory is (very, very simply stated without dealing with mortal and venial sins) to purge away any sins that were not dealt with in life. It's a place of preparation and cleansing, so to speak. This is pretty clearly what the inbetween place is on LOST. Each character has to reach a point where they are ready to move on. They have to work through the darkness and sins still holding them back. Think I'm overreaching? Just look at Ben's conversations with Locke and Hurley at the end. He's not ready to go. He has some more things to work through. Considering that he has perhaps more sins on his soul than any other character (more or less, let's just keep this simple), this again backs up the purgatory parallel.

Does that mean LOST is a Catholic show? No. There are plenty of confusing bits as well. Jacob feels like a "God/Christ Figure" but takes responsibility for The Man in Black turning to evil. That's a huge theological muddle. Then there's the whole constant play between "dark" and "light" which evokes more of the eastern belief that good and evil need to be balanced. Which again, is hugely problematic in Christian theology. Finally of course is the "All Encompassing Church" which combined as many possible religions as it could into a building that was obviously a Christian Church. I doubt I'm the only person to find that particular hodge-podge offensive. Yet I also understand why they chose to write it that way. LOST is comprised of characters, viewers and writers of all religions and that was just the way it was going to play out.

But there are some bits they hit right on the head. The Man in Black/Smoke Monster/Evil Locke is pretty brilliantly written as the ultimate deceiver. He keeps one guessing as to his true motives right up until he plants the bomb on the sub. Which is of course what the Devil does. He deceives us into thinking that his ways are for our good, when ultimately all he wants is our destruction.

What about the light in the cave? Well, that's one of the most complicated and crazy bits of the show. The way I decided to look at it is that it isn't about there really being an actual force of magical goodness. It's more complicated than that. Different viewers can take away different meanings from it, but I see it as a Garden of Eden, with all that's in it, and I see Jacob as the angel guardian set over it to keep humans from returning. I'm not saying that's what it actually is, but what I personally have chosen to see it symbolizing.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Anne Hathaway as Catwoman and Girl Superheros in General

Anne Hathaway cast as Catwoman

From klutzy princess, to superspy, to Jane Austen, Anne Hathaway has demonstrated that she is a very versatile and talented actress. So this casting news sounds like I'm going to have to catch up with the Batman movies, because there's no way I'm missing Hathaway as Catwoman.

If, indeed she plays Catwoman. As the article states, only the character, not the super-alter-ego has been mentioned. However I say it's high time for a girl to get a masked identity in a Batman movie. So far most of the recent comic book movies (apart from X-Men and Fantastic Four) have decided to keep their girls strictly in the roles of damsels in distress. Which can be interesting the first time or two, but by the time you get to Spiderman 3 and Mary Jane is still doing nothing more than hanging from a car and screaming, it gets annoying. Granted, Liv Tyler (the Hulk), Gwenneth Paltrow (Ironman) and Katie Holmes (Batman Begins) were allowed to give their characters more depth than just screaming. Paltrow even got to be more of a formidable force in Ironman II (although we still have yet to see her in her own Stark suit, which actually happens in the comic). The closest we've seen in any non-team movie (that I'm familiar with, at least) is Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in Ironman II. And that was pretty awesome.

Dont' get me wrong. I'm not a feminist. But I think it's annoying, cliche and unrealistic for girls to only be portrayed as damsels in distress. If I were in love with a superhero, I'd find a heck of a lot more to do than get captured all the time, and if I did, I certainly hope I'd have more presence of mind to do something like plan an escape than just scream and cry.

So here's hoping that Hathaway gets to play the full part of Catwoman and continue to pave the way for some awesome girl action.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mere Christianity -- Chapter One

After much consideration, I decided to conduct my first blog reading project on C.S. Lewis's "Mere Christianity." I knew it had fairly short chapters, which make it less intimidating for a first project than Chesterton's Orthodoxy (which was the other favorite pick amongst my readers).

My goal will be to do at least three chapters a week, possibly more. Please feel free to read along with me and chime in along the way! (I do request that you read the chapter reviewed before joining in any theological discussions, as the purpose of the blog is to chronicle my thoughts, NOT recap every theological point made by Lewis, as that can easily be accessed by reading the book).

Mere Christianity Reflections – Chapter One

The Law of Human Nature

Two things I love about C.S. Lewis.

Firstly, he knows exactly how to frame a thought. He doesn't rush ahead of himself, but takes it bit by bit. And then even as you're thinking of possible arguments against him, he counters them, as though you're there, speaking over his shoulder while you're writing.

Secondly, he doesn't talk down to you. He talks to you man-to-man. He's positing a thought, an idea, and in a manner of old friends, leading you to see things from his direction. He never suggests or insinuates that you, the reader, are ignorant or sinful – at least not without taking equal blame upon himself.

In chapter one, Lewis deals with the belief that there is a Law of Human Nature that all humans fundamentally know and know they ought to obey. He demonstrates this not by trying to prove it through facts and historical data – but rather just by human observation. You can't help nodding your head and going “yeah, people do talk that way, and yeah, they do expect you to live up to some sort of standard while talking to you, even if they don't actually live up to it themselves!”

And I think what is really important about this chapter is that Lewis devised it to be directed towards any ordinary person who picked the book up (or rather, listened to his original radio talks during WWII). Even though this entire concept is completely Biblical, he never tries to drive a non-Christian reader away by appealing to Biblical authority. He relies entirely on ordinary observation, with ideas and suggestions completely familiar and accessible to the average person, no matter what religious persuasion.

Kitty Pryde -- Project Breakdown

Encouraged and inspired by the results of Emma Frost, I decided to tackle another X-Girl yesterday. Originally I was just going to try a different rendering of Emma, but for some reason Kitty got in my mind and insisted on being drawn.

As before, I started with a referance photo, which you can view here.

I then sketched it into my sketchbook...

Once the sketch was completed, I went over it again with pen on tracing paper. As you may have noticed on my Emma picture, the lines were very rough. Using pen on tracing paper enables me to get much smoother lines. The smudges can easily be erased on the computer.

I then uploaded the tracing onto the computer. Using my Wacom Drawing Tablet, I cleaned up the lines and colored it in on my GIMP software. I use layers to get the cleanest possible lines, and I typically use three shades per color - dark lights, medium tone and high lights. I also will use the smudger to blend in some edges.

Voila! Kitty Pryde of the X-Men!

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries

What if the newly married Mr. and Mrs. Darcy found themselves falling into one mystery after another? What if their sleuthing, wit and comraderie was reminiscent of "The Thin Man's" Nick and Nora? What if they not only solved mysteries within the cast of "Pride and Prejudice," but also ventured through the covers of Austen's other novels? What if I wasn't simply saying "What if..."

Guess what? I'm not. This is indeed the premise of Carrie Bebris's "Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries" which begin with "Pride and Prescience" and have continued on now for five volumes.

Pride and Prescience
The wedding's over and Darcy and Elizabeth are off to -- nope. No honeymoon. Instead mystery and murder sweep them away as newly-married Caroline Bingley starts acting very, very strange... is she going mad, or is there something more sinister at work? It's up to Darcy and Elizabeth to find out!

Suspense and Sensibility
Kitty Bennet is being chaperoned for the London season by her sister Elizabeth. As luck would have it, she quickly wins the heart of the rich and handsome Henry Dashwood. All seems ready for a happily ever after, when suddenly Henry's clean-cut demenor vanishes and a darker personality comes to the forefront. Darcy and Elizabeth investigate again, this time with the help of Elinor and Edward Ferrers.

North by Northanger
Elizabeth and Darcy are vacationing in Bath, when they recieve an invitation to visit an old friend of Darcy's mother at Northanger Abbey. But is Captain Tilney all he seems? Why is Darcy being framed for theft? And does their only hope really lie in Lady Catherine de Borough?

The Matter at Mansfield
Elizabeth is all set to encourage Anne de Borough to take independance and begin dancing at balls... when Anne surprises everyone by eloping! Darcy, Elizabeth and Colonal Fitzwilliam must track down Anne and the mysterious Henry Crawford... but what will happen when an accident strands them all at Mansfield Park?

Intrigue at Highbury
Elizabeth and Darcy are passing through the town of Highbury, when a highway robbery forces them to stop and seek justice. Turns out Emma and Mr. Knightley have a mystery of their own, and the two couples must join forces to solve the matter of the Gypsies and the Churchills. And along the way, Emma just might try her hand at matchmaking again!

After wading through countless volumes of shameful Austen spin-offs, this series was a breath of fresh-air. Well written, fairly true to Austen, and with engaging plots I found I could easily count it as the best Austen sequel work around.

I read the series completely out of order, so I can honestly say that it's possible to just pick one up and start reading. In fact, I advise Jane purists and younger readers to skip the first two, as both mysteries deal with supernatural elements (and the second contains allusions to more mature content). The later three are nearly completely free from anything more than the hint of a ghost, and I do recommend them very highly.

I have only two regrets about the novels (apart from the annoyance of the Indiana Jonesque supernatural bits in the first two). #1, that Catherine and Fanny don't ever actually make appearances, and #2, that I have to wait for #6 to come out!

UPDATE 8/26/2015 - After the release of Book #7, "Suspicion at Sandition" (which was excellent, as was book #6), I decided to reread the series. It is just as good the second time through, and actually this time I enjoyed the supernatural elements. I guess I just wasn't prepared for them before, but with advance notice I was able to appreciate them as good stories.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

An Emma Frost Experiement

I'm writing an X-Men Fanfic/RPG with some friends, and one of the characters I'm writing is Emma Frost. Emma tends to have a fairly immodest fashion sense in the comics, so I needed something more appropriate to serve as my profile picture of her. The easy answer was just to make my own. So I took an existing picture that had fairly basic lines and an attack pose (as oppose to the provocative stances they often draw comic heroines in), and did my own sketch.

Then I used our beautiful new scanner to scan my drawing in and do my own coloring. The result? Voila.

MORE River Song

"Some days are special. Some days are so, so blessed. Some days, nobody dies at all. Now and then, every once in a very long while, every day in a million days when the wind stands fair and the Doctor comes to call, everybody lives." ~ Professor River Song

This could be one of my absolute favorite Doctor Who quotes. There are definitely others I adore (I'll just say "lots of running," "the angels have the phone box" and "Madam de Pompador" for starters), but this is one of the most poignant.

I just finished watching "Silence in the Library" and "Forest of the Dead" for the second time, and loved it much, much better this time through. Now I know River, and I see her side. When I first watched it, all I felt (as of course, Moffat meant us to do) was the Doctor's bewilderment. Who was this strange, cocky woman waltzing in and claiming our Doctor?

But now, since the fifth season has come out, we've been able to experience their future/previous adventures. We see how the Doctor and River work together and how brilliant a pairing they are. And suddenly, the Library episodes take on an entirely new meaning. This time, the end hits in a deeper place. River means something now.

The Doctor: River... Who are you?
River Song: You're going to find out very soon now, and I'm sorry, but that's when everything changes.

No! I don't want everything to change! Not if it means River is evil, which the show certainly has been hinting at.

Who is River? Come on and hurry up, spring 2010, so that I can find out! But if it means River is going to turn evil, than stay away forever, okay?

No, seriously, I need answers. Who is River? When she opens the Tardis Door and says "I'm sorry, my love!" WHO IS HER LOVE? When the Doctor says there's only one time anyone would ever learn his name, WHEN IS THAT? And is there ANYTHING in the fact that Captain Jack AND River Song are BOTH from the 51st century? (Unless I'm' getting my facts mixed up...)

Yes, I know this is my second River Song post. Steven Moffat, I'm sure you're laughing evilly somewhere. I've never been this insanely curious about a TV show before!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Same Family, Same Library... very different books.

Since I've been ill, my sister has been cheerfully running lots of Library errands for me. Today mum asked her to pick up some books as well. When she returned home with the 'loot,' we had a laugh over how completely diverse our selections were.

Closet Control

Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Health

I Have Found It (Bollywood Sense and Sensibility)
Matters at Mansfield (Or, the Crawford Affair)
Doctor Who: The Complete Second Series
Doctor Who: The Complete Forth Series

Friday, January 14, 2011

Off the Map

It's show premiere time again, and there's some interesting new concepts popping up this year. I haven't been able to watch "The Cape" yet (Hulu hasn't captioned it for some odd reason) but I did check out ABC's "Off the Map" yesterday.

"Off the Map" is a medical drama with an interesting new twist -- it's set in South America. It revolves around a team of doctors dealing with the difficulties and shortages of practicing medicine in the jungle. Three of the doctors are old timers who know the ropes and can use coconut milk effectively to save surgeries gone wrong. The other three are newcomers who have just finished their residencies at home in the US and have come to the jungle to seek adventure... or to escape problems at home.

Episode 1 introduces us to all the characters, allows each of the newcomers to confront their own case and difficulties, and hints at deeper secrets on everyone's parts.

Although it is clearly an ensemble cast, two characters stand out as ones I know I'm going to enjoy watching. First is Lily Brenner, a eager, clean-cut young woman with a strong work-ethic and joyful spirit -- yet a tragedy in her past. Secondly is the rugged Ben Keeton (played by Martin Henderson, star of "Bride and Prejudice") who runs the staff with an iron hand and seems like he should belong in an adventure movie, not a medical clinic.

Content-wise it looks to be squarely PG-13. There is some innuendo, but it was much more veiled than I've come to expect from such things. Younger viewers would probably not even catch on to the subtext. However I wouldn't recommend this show for family viewing because it is a medical show and isn't shy of showing pretty gruesome wounds (episode #1 includes a victim with his arm stuck in a zipline and it is hard to watch if you're not used to that sort of thing). I'm not a gore person so I did find myself cringing at a few parts. However other than that, the show seems really promising and I look forwards to next week's installment!

Genre Feasting

Action. Romance. Mystery. Adventure. Suspense. Literary. Fantasy. [your preferance here]

The way I see it, one genre is like ice cream -- good, but limiting. Many genres is like a Thanksgiving feast -- wonderful flavors to satisfy all the different tiny cravings an eater can have. And so many layers to delve into and explore. So many elements to intrigue and delight.

Of course, all published books today must have one dominant genre, otherwise bookstores don't know where to shelve them! However I despair of romances that are only about the emotions of falling in love, and the thrillers that are only about the chase. Give me complexity of interest and both relationships AND adventure!

This was one thing I enjoyed about "Inception." It broke genres all over the place, tying in so many different themes. It was adventure and heist and loves story and psychological thriller all rolled into one.

Or take Harry Potter. It's a fantasy adventure that is also mystery, political comedy, and even shades of Jane Austen (Rowlings claims "Emma" as her favorite book).

My writing always bears multiple flavors. The hard part is choosing the dominant one...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Spiderman First Peek

It's not a remake, it's a reboot. (Reimagining rather than retelling) And since comic book stories are about the characters rather than which actor plays them in which movie (except maybe Hugh Jackman as Wolverine), I'm totally on board.

I'll admit right up front, Spiderman is not one of my favorite Marvel Heros. I'm all about the X-Men (which some nods to the Avengers, and the Fantastic Four) because it features ensemble roles (always my favorites) plus girls as heroes and not just as damsels in distress.

However this picture looks pretty promising. I'm already in love with the costume, which looks far more real and intriguing than the last version (which always felt digital to me even though it wasn't).

Monday, January 10, 2011


So I finally saw "Inception." It took this long because it's really hard to see films in theatres when one has to rely on finding a close-captioned version. And then Redbox didn't have it... and my friends were waiting for Christmas to get their copies. So it wasn't until January 1st that I was actually able to borrow it.

And, of course, I loved it. Well, maybe not "of course." My brother didn't (he 'only' liked it), and I would not consider myself a Christopher Nolan fan, having been put off by the other three films of his that I've seen.

But Inception is brilliant. It deals with dreams (which fascinate me), has actors I really like (the wonderful Ellen Page and yes, I do like Leonardo Di Caprio), and is absolutely top of the line in every single other category. It has action, adventure, mystery, introspection, philosophy, relationships, romance... in other words, it is a perfect genre blender, which is always my favorite kind of story.

For my the shining points were the heart and conscience brought by Ariadne which is a vital part of the film and something I think many films in this action vein could benefit from. Without weighing the story down, Ariadne and the Mal/Dom problem brought a reason for the action, a reason for the audience to become emotionally invested and gain something from the story.

I also loved the sequence when Ariadne is designing the dream world. I tend to do that sort of thing myself in my dreams, although my changes of color and location have less sticking power than hers. (What is her secret? I neeeeed to know...)

I'm sure fans of the film would love to see me go into all sorts of details regarding my hypothesis regarding the ending and such... and I'd be happy to answer any questions or discuss speculation in the comments. But not here. Because what I've really been thinking about is why Inception has done so well, and why nothing like it has been made before.

So... thoughts...

We all dream.

Well, most of us do. There are exceptions to this rule, but generally I think it's safe to say that the majority of the world experiences dreams when the fall asleep at night.

Dreaming is also a fairly popular topic of conversation. I couldn't even begin to count the number of times weird, poignant and just plain hilarious dreams have come up when talking to friends. It's a surefire subject that everyone can join in on.

And, let's face it, dreams are just plain interesting. While same may be far too confusing to make any sense, many of us have woken up going "that was a really interesting story... I should turn it into a book or something..."

(In fact, Stephanie Meyers did. But that's another story.)

So when I consider this, it's really not surprising that a well-made movie about dreams became one of the most popular and discussed movies of the year. What is surprising is that no one has ever done anything like this before. I'm going to guess that the most limiting factor was the CGI component, because something on this scale could not have been attempted a decade ago.

The other limiting factor, however, is probably studio approval. "Inception" is an incredible daring, edgy film that fits far better on Art House and Independent shelves than mainstream. If Christopher Nolan hadn't knocked out so many successes in recent years, there is no way he could have gotten approval. But after "The Prestige," "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight," he's won a trust that few filmmakers ever get.

In fact, the last really big film we got of this sort was "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." That was a brilliant but mind-boggling film that was rather less accessible (both because of format and mature content) than "Inception" and made a much smaller splash.

"Inception," however, has been unmistakably big. It was the only film that could truly be called "adult focused" that make it onto the list of top ten grossing movies for 2011. And there's a lot of talk that it'll be a serious contender for Best Picture. Will it? Debatable. The Academy strongly dislikes giving it's awards to anything in the fantasy/sci-fic realm, and such films are usually happy just to be nominated, or at best win a special effects or sound award (Return of the King being the ONLY film of this category EVER to win best picture).

But we can always hope, right?

Updates, Mere Christianity, and Dresses

Continuing to make itty bitty improvements! I actually had a bit of cheese yesterday and today and was able to keep that down fine... still dealing with nausea and some other complaints, but I'm hoping that I'm on the mend!

In other news, I've decided that I will be reading "Mere Christianity" for my book blogging adventure. Thanks to all of you who gave your input! I hope to start it in the next few days. My illness has muddled my head up quite a bit so I don't feel quite up to pondering heavy thoughts just yet. Soon, though!

In the meantime I've had an itch to create, and though I can't sew, I can draw on my Wacom Bamboo Tablet. So I present to you two more sketches to enjoy! I think it's obvious that I've been reading a lot of Jane Austen lately. As for the wedding dress -- well, there are just a lot of wedding pictures and ideas cropping up all over the place, so I thought I'd try my hand at it. It's actually the first piece I've done completely in white, and I'm very happy with the way it turned out. White is probably the hardest color to manage depth in -- even more than black.

(Click for larger images)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Black Winter Coat

I bought fabric for a winter coat over a year ago. Been far too busy to make it, but hopefully I'll have a chance to get it done in time to wear with milder weather in March and April.

I am happy about my ability to replicate the texture of the material into this drawing. Thank goodness for brushes and copy and pasting abilities!

(click on the picture for a larger representation, where the texture is more visible)

Top 10 Films of 2010

As the calendar flips over, all sorts of interesting statistics start coming out, including the list of which movies grossed the highest in 2010. I have to say the list is delightful, encouraging and a little bit surprising.

1. Toy Story 3
2. Alice in Wonderland
3. Iron Man 2
4. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
5. Inception
6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
7. Despicable Me

8. Shreck Forever After
9. How to Train Your Dragon
10. The Karate Kid

What astonishes me most of all is that I've actually seen 7 of this year's top 10 (the ones in bold) and enjoyed every single one. And I expect to see the other three at some point in time.

Which ones did you see? Let me know in the poll opposite!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Sickness, Stevia and Entertainment

Sorry for the utter lack of posts this week. Sickness continues and my brain has been utterly turned to mush. Since making the bracelet on Monday I've done pretty much nothing productive except watch and read stuff that I'll probably review eventually.

I'd like to take a moment to praise "Zevia Natural Diet Soda" which is made with the completely natural and healthy sweetner Stevia. It comes in many flavors, has no calories or sugars and is completely safe for sick people to drink. Been one small bit of enjoyment in the misery of being sick.

Okay so Eureka, Doctor Who, and Jane Austen spin-offs have also kept me in good company. I'm so very blessed to have family members taking good care of me, and going above and beyond the call of duty to make library runs as well.

Thank you all for your patience (and the prayers I know some of you have been sending up.) I really hope to be back writing again by Monday.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Since I'm on bedrest for the next few days with an inflamed pancreas, I decided to take the time to do some "just for fun" beadwork. I'd been thinking about getting back into it lately, and a recent post by my friend Shaylynn inspired me to get to work. Half the soundtrack of "Into the Woods" later, I completed this green bead chain bracelet.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Ink and Fairydust - January 2011

Dear friends,

We all have different markers by which we measure time. For me, one of the major ones has become the production of I&F every month. It seems I hardly get one issue out before another comes along! The months seem to fly so quickly, and now it's already 2011!

This month we bring you ideas for parties, staying sane in winter, and beating off that procrastination monster! We also have some really wonderful pieces about poetry and poets, including one fun "what if" story!

Read it here:

Also, our website has been undergoing some revamping! Have any suggestions about further changes we should make? E-mail us at inkandfairydust [at] yahoo [dot] com.

Finally we've been making more of a conscious effort to keep our facebook page busy with updates and tidbits throughout the whole month. It's a great way to stay up-to-date with the very latest I&F news!

If you don't have facebook, you can sign up for our mailing list anytime at inkandfairydust [at] yahoo [dot] com

Wishing you all the very best for 2011!