Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Royal Wedding

After so many tragic things on the news over the past few years, what a blessing it was for there to be a global event that was a celebration. We can share happiness as well as tears. :)
~ My Last Facebook Status on the Wedding

Just so excited to be watching all of this right now... been waiting for something on this scale ever since I first fell in love with England at the age of 11.... :) :) :)

The Royal Wedding didn't have the same meaning for everyone. It even made some people mad. But for those of us who have studied and loved English history for years, yesterday was a special chance to be a part of that which we've loved for so long.

When I was a pre-teen I fell head over heels in love with the British Monarchy. I've never thought it was perfect, but it fascinates me. Sometimes it's easy to forget that these are normal people born into an extraordinary life. I don't mean a fairy-tale life, I mean a high profile life that requires daily public appearances even age the age of 85 (which the Queen just reached). I don't think the average person can even begin to comprehend what it means to have your life regulated and watched in that way. And then the speculation and media attention has taken it's toll on marriages and Princess Diana's life.

It's not a fairy tale. And it's precisely because it's not a fairy tale that yesterday meant so much. I am happy that these people who go through so much -- out of duty and public service (NOT out of a desire for power but because they believe it is their duty by birth) -- could have a day of happiness.

I'm a die-hard romantic. I ask every couple I know how they first met. I squeal when my friends get engaged. And I am so happy that Will, who lost his mother so tragically at such a young age, and Kate, who waited 8 long years for her Prince (the press called her "waity-Katie"), are at last together.

And besides all that, I've actually walked down the center aisle of the Abbey with my own father, just after the 2005 Palm Sunday service. That really brings the whole event that much closer to home.

The truth? I got misty-eyed when Kate arrived at the Abbey.

Those of us who watched live will probably never forget the moment when Kate slipped out of her hotel and we saw the first glimpses of her dress. She and her staff did a marvelous job of keeping even the name of the designer a dead secret. All we knew beforehand was that the dress would be white, and (keeping with Westminster Abbey rules) would have covered shoulders.

Expectations were high due to Kate's reputation of being a classy dresser, but there were many audible gasps when she first emerged. Her dress was beautifully exquisite. Feminine and (all things said and done) modest. I was absolutely blown away. (And more than a little impressed when I heard the details of the handsewn embroidery!)

Her tiara was special too. Some speculated she would wear Diana's bridal tiara, but Kate instead went with a tiara formerly belonging to Dowager Queen Elizabeth (deceased mother of the current Queen). I thought this was special as the Queen Mum was an important part of the royal family for the better part of a century and only recently passed away. What a lovely way to honor her memory and make her a part of this day as well.
William's uniform was carefully chosen as well. He wore the red of the Irish Guard, honoring the recent losses that division had experienced in Afghanistan.

Abbey protocol prohibited any kisses under the Abbey roof, so Kate and Wills shared their first public kiss of married life on the balcony of Buckingham Palace about an hour and a half after the ceremony ended.
LOVED the traditional wedding liturgy. So beautiful.

The Wedding service, which was Traditional Church of England, was beautiful and meaningful. I was especially moved by the vows and am halfway considering using this marriage service in my own wedding (whenever that may be). I also really loved the homily, which was short and poignant. Pippa Middleton served as her sister's maid of honor, and took charge of the adorable younger bridesmaids. It was so sweet to see her tending to the little flock of children!

Awww, Kate just curtsied to her new Grandmother.... :)

The queen looked lovely in canary yellow, accompanied by her husband the Duke of Edinburgh. Queen Elizabeth just celebrated her 85th birthday and the Duke is 90. What a blessing for them to attend the wedding of their eldest grandson to such a lovely young lady! After all the trauma and drama of the past few decades, it must be very reassuring for the queen to see the level-headed Kate as her grandson's choice for future queen. Roguish grinning Prince Harry was his brother's best man. It was lovely to see these very close brothers walk down the aisle together.

OMG they really decked out the Abbey... was not expecting to see that much greenery inside! (Or that much light... it was much darker when I was in there!)

Westminster was gorgeous, decked out with real trees to stimulate a country garden.

There were many gorgeous guests in attendance as well. And while I think Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie (daughters of Queen Elizabeth's second son, Andrew) are lovely, their clothing style is downright terrifying. I have extreme sympathy for the girls and wonder WHAT their stylist was thinking?
Prince Charles and Camilla looked lovely as well. For all they've gone through, their marriage seems to have settled into a quiet and respectful relationship, strongly blessed by Charles's sons. I understand Camilla's steadfast determination to respect Diana and quietly go about her royal duties has begun to really raise her popularity in the eyes of the British people. Anyhow, she looks quite lovely and elegant here, and certainly knows how to properly smile!
It's easy to see where Kate got her good looks! Her mother, Carole Middleton, was a graceful picture of mature beauty and just beaming with happiness.

And of course we could hardly forget the gorgeous David and Victoria Beckham! In fact, Victoria is so well dressed that I didn't even realize she was sporting a baby bump until a news report pointed it out!!! Boy do I feel silly...

One thing I'd like to point out. Some people have raised concerns about the money spent on the wedding. While I can't find an exact cost, it seems to be definitely under $50M. Now while that may sound like a lot, I need to say that this is less than half of the price tag for the typical Hollywood blockbuster. And provided a lot longer entertainment, joy and sense of unity to a much larger audience than the normal film. I've got no problem with going to see the immensely more expensive (and far less important) "Thor" next week, so I'm definitely not going to make a fuss about the cost of the wedding.

The wedding was magical, and I am so thankful that the technology of today allows even a couchbound American with a migraine to share the excitement and joy of the occasion.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Are you ready for the ROYAL WEDDING?

Are you ready for the ROYAL WEDDING?

Migraine has prevented me from getting a preparatory post up sooner... but I've been following this event since the day William proposed to Catherine.

(Secret confession? I'd occasionally check the internet sources to hear if there'd be any news about either of the Princes getting engaged. Yes, I'm a die hard Anglophile.)

Anyhow I'll be getting up at around 3:00am to start following the festivities. Don't feel like getting up that early? You can start watching pre-wedding specials in many places now... or just catch up over on the Royal Wedding Insider run by the BBC.

Guess what? You don't even have to get out of bed to watch the proceedings! The British Monarchy has it's own YouTube Channel which will be broadcasting the event live! All sorts of relevant information will be displayed alongside the broadcast, which may make it even more informative than the regular TV.

The Royal Wedding Insider will be live blogging the event, and I plan to as well if this migraine allows. Hopefully I'll see some of you then!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How to Turn a Skirt into a Sundress - Part One

What do you do when you have a cute skirt that just doesn't look good on you anymore? Either you give it away or you alter it.

I picked up this skirt at JCPenneys several years ago for about $4. It was cute and an irresistible deal... but was too poofy and too short to really look good on my long figure.
My solution? Cut it up and turn it into a dress! It was pleated with lining, which gave me more than enough fabric to create a sundress.
I didn't have an exact idea in mind, so this sketch isn't what the final dress will look like. It's fairly close, however.
I made the top tier of the skirt out of the original lining.
I thought I could do the bottom tiers without altering the original skirt, but it was gathered in the wrong places so I had to cut the layers apart and reattach them.
Thankfully this made ironing a LOT easier. My iron cannot do proper steam no matter how I try it, so I go the industrial method and just use a spray bottle to spray the fabric with water right before I iron it.
I've had too many instances of the gathers in tiered skirts ripping out so I made sure to finish and reinforce the inside with zigzag stitching.
A look at the skirt:
The blue fabric is incredibly thin. This makes it good for gathering, but very see through. So I raided my fabric stash and found a cream curtain that I could cut up for the dress lining.
Skirt with lining.

Next time: Part Two -How to self fit a bodice.

Monday, April 25, 2011

WHO is the Impossible Astronaut? Doctor Who 6.1 Review


Yes. Spoilers. I'm not just quoting River Song, I'm warning all of you who have not yet seen "Doctor Who: The Impossible Astronaut" to run away NOW. Trust me, please, and do not spoil this episode for yourself.

First off I want to do a little dance of excitement. This was the first ever DW episode I had a chance to watch on TV. Furthermore I was able to do it with a room of nearly twenty other DW fans. It was amazing and epic.

All that goes to say, it's probably a good thing Easter forced me to wait an extra day to post this review so that I could have time to critically think through this episode. As opposed to, you know, spieling off happiness and excitement induced by crowd euphoria.

First off, let's send up a round of cheers. Steven Moffat is back.

Not that he wasn't in charge of the show last year, but the episodes he wrote and produced then were really not anything like the terror-inducing timey-wimey brilliance we were used to. Don't get me wrong. I loved the last four episodes of season 5 to death. There was plenty of timey-wimey brilliance too... but it just didn't feel very "Moffat-y-ish".

No more. Moffat is back in full force with what he rightly calls his 'scariest monsters yet' and a season premiere that invokes more questions than probably any previous episode of Doctor Who ever -- finales included!

The cold open was pretty unexpected. I fully anticipated that Amy and Rory would be traveling with the Doctor, and was surprised that they'd settled down into normal life in England. I like it because it makes sense, but it surprised me.

First question. Why was River back in prison? Some people have hypothesized that she feels the justice of her sentence and goes back to complete it when she's finished whatever important adventure she needs to have. I'm also getting kind of confused about what exact order River is traveling in. At first it seemed fairly straightforwards, but the further we go, the more confusing it seems... I'm looking forwards to the day when I can sit down and watch all of River's episodes in 'her' order.

MAJOR shock when the Doctor died. And was burned. And Canton confirmed that he was definitely dead. Say what? Excuse me? Matt Smith cannot be the last doctor. That's impossible. So...

(Random thought: The Impossible Astronaut can't actually BE the Doctor, can it?)

I feel like Amy really grew up in this episode. She was (and seemed) pretty young last season. More confident in herself than Rose, but still not extremely... deep. However Karen Gillian brought some great depth in her performance here and this may be the season that makes an Amy fan of me. We'll see...

Everything in the Oval Office was so brilliant. And awesome. And hilarious. And River operating the Tardis better than the Doctor... how does she learn this? I still wonder. Did the Doctor teach her, or someone else? Her previous comments on the matter left that issue open to discussion...

And while I'm here, the Doctor/River banter was FANTASTIC in this episode. They totally have the old-fashioned "screwball comedy" wit flowing here and I adore it. Way to go!

...and yes. Now we come to... the Silence. Or the Silents. We're not exactly sure which is the correct way to spell their name... but more on that in the future, I expect. Anyhow, they are CREEPY. Monsters you forget when you don't see... I'm not sure if that's more or less frightening. But they themselves are just eerie. And the noise they make... uuuuugh. Hate. Yet all of this said, I'm not entirely sure they are evil. They could be... but they could also have another purpose entirely.

That Abandoned Warehouse creeped me out SO MUCH. The remains of experimentation/torture... so gross!

Question. Is Amy really pregnant? Why are BOTH she and River sick? According to Doctor Who Confidential, Amy's pregnancy will play a role in this season... but as we know, Amy+Pregnancy does not necessarily = baby.

Is the Lodger Tardis connected to the little girl? Because both episodes contain a little girl asking for help...

WHO is the little girl in the space suit? My first thought was that she was Amy and Rory's daughter, and I'm seeing that thought repeated a lot around the internet so I'm not the only one... other people are going so far as to speculate that RIVER is Amy's daughter. I dunno about that one... And to be honest, I don't think it actually IS Amy's daughter. But I find it interesting that a lot of fans got that impression.

River's speech about the day she fears... OMG. Just... OMG. Heartbreak.

So much to process. Wow.

End thoughts? I wouldn't say this is my favorite opener -- I loved "Smith and Jones" and "Partners in Crime" more. However I would definitely place this above "Rose," "New Earth" and "The Eleventh Hour."

Favorite Quotes (Thanks to

Amy: “At the personal intervention of the King, the unnamed doctor was incarcerated without trial in the Tower of London.
Rory: Okay, but it doesn't have to be him.
Amy: “According to contemporary accounts, two night later a magical sphere some twenty feet across was seen floating away from the tower, carrying the mysterious doctor aloft.”
Rory: Okay. It's him.

Guard: You better get down here, sir. She's doing it again. [...] Doctor Song, sir. She's packing.

The Doctor: I'm being extremely clever up here and there's no one to stand around looking impressed! What's the point in having you all?

The Doctor: Time isn't straight-line. It's all... bumpy-wumpy. There's loads of boring stuff. Like Sundays and Tuesdays and Thursday afternoons. But now and then there are Saturdays. Big temporal tipping points when anything's impossible. The TARDIS can't resist them. Like a moth to a flame. She loves a party, so I give her 1969 and NASA [?] space in the 60s.

The Doctor: Swear to me. Swear to me on something that matters.
Amy: Fish fingers and custard.
The Doctor: My life your hands, Amelia Pond.

River: President Richard Milhouse Nixon. Vietnam. Watergate. There's some good stuff too.
The Doctor: Not enough.
River: Hippy.
The Doctor: Archaeologist.

Nixon: Who the are they and... what is that box?
The Doctor: It's a police box. Can't you read? I'm your new undercover agent. On loan from Scotland Yard. Code named The Doctor. These are my top operatives. The Legs, The Nose and Mrs. Robinson.
River: I hate you.
The Doctor: No you don't.

The Doctor: I'm going to need a SWAT team ready to mobilize, street-level maps covering all of Florida, a pot of coffee, twelve jammie dodgers and a fez.

The Doctor: Doctor Song, you've got that face on again.
River: What face?
The Doctor: The "He's hot when he's clever" face.
River: This is my normal face.
The Doctor: Yes it is.
River: Oh, shut up.
The Doctor: Not a chance.

Delaware: So we're in a box that's bigger on the inside and it moves through time and space?
Rory: Yeah, basically.
Delaware: How long have Scotland Yard had this?

Rory: What did you mean— what you said to Amy? There's a worse day coming for you?
River: When I first met the Doctor—a long long time ago. He knew all about me. Think about that. Impressionable young girl and suddenly this man just drops out of the sky. He's clever and mad and wonderful. And knows every last thing about her. Imagine what that does to a girl.
Rory: I don't really have to.
River: Trouble is, it's all back to front. My past is his future. We're travelling in opposite directions. Every time we meet I know him more, he knows me less. I live for the days when I see him. But I know that every time I do he'll be one step further away. The day's coming when I'll look into that man's eyes—my Doctor—and he won't have the faintest idea who I am. And I think it's going to kill me.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Making Yourself Write is Hard.

A writer's greatest enemy is herself.

(or himself. But you guys know what I mean, right?)

I'm talking about procrastination. Every writer knows it. When it's just you and the computer it's so easy to get distracted.

"Ooooh, that's an interesting news story... oh, I HAVE to read this blog post on characterization... ha, I just thought of a funny Facebook update... good grief, when did it get to be 5:00? I've got to get supper made..."

Sound familiar? It definitely sums up a good part of my life. Not that I don't do useful things online or otherwise (sewing! cooking! shopping! friends! school!), but if I don't prioritize my writing, it simply isn't going to happen. There will always be something important (or fun) that I can do instead of write.

I mean, face it. Writing can be intimidating. Even if you know you're not going to show your first (or third, or tenth) draft to anyone, there is still a pressure hanging over you. If you mess a scene up it might derail the whole story. Or why should you bother to write when you don't have your main character figured out yet?

These are perfectly valid concerns. But instead of ignoring them, you need to engage them. Maybe it's not time to write yet, but you need to think or discuss these problems until you've got them figured out.

Don't have a really valid excuse? Then it's time to write. No excuses. Shut down the internet, close the door, pull up that willpower and type out a scene. Maybe all you do is write for 30 minutes. That's still better than nothing. Some days you might be able to do more. And maybe some days you won't write at all. But you've got to do your best to do it.

It's hard. Really hard. I'm dealing with extreme fatigue in my life right now that makes it hard to do anything. Some days I can barely write on my low-key fanfic I'm doing with a friend, let alone my latest novel.

What I do know is that I feel a heck of a lot better about myself when I do manage to get some writing done. Even if it is only 30 minutes.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

You are invited to a Festival of Fairy Tales

One of the highlights of my life for the past three years has been the Annual Fairy Tale Fan Festival to celebrate the works of Regina Doman. Fans of "The Shadow of the Bear" and its sequels gather for a long weekend of party, fellowship, learning and faith. I've been at every year and have seen it grow and become something very special. Last year I even took on the job of event coordinator, a job I will be continuing this year.

What's even more exciting about this year? The Festival (or ReginaCon as we sometimes call it) is coming to the Midwest! Regina and her husband Andrew will be flying out to join the fans in Silver Lake, Minnesota on the 23rd through the 26th of June.

Furthermore, the highlight of this year will be the premiere of "The Shadow of the Bear" movie which I have been directing, producing (and now editing!) for the past three years.

The pictures on this post are from last year's adventures. If you have been following my blog, you may remember hearing about such events as our Narnia Scavenger Hunt, Jane Austen Ball, Murder Mystery Night, Workshops with Regina (and myself!), a staged dramatic reading of "The Importance of Being Earnest," and more!

This year is looking set to be our biggest year yet. Some of the events we are planning include:

- Writing workshop with Regina
- Murder Mystery (with a historical/time travel element)
- Talent Show
- Filmmaking Workshop (with me)
- A Fairy Tale Novel Swing Dance (we're renting out a space for this!)
- "The Shadow of the Bear" Movie Premiere -- a formal event with a chance to meet the cast and crew!

And the best part? You can get all of this -- plus food! -- for only $50! (Or $20 per day if you can't make the entire event) Plus, we have a family discount. Parents and younger siblings are completely welcome (and have greatly enjoyed it in the past). Our hosts in Silver Lake have a large property with room for a few guests inside and a LOT of guests outside. I don't know about you, but I'm looking forwards to a camping adventure!

Whether you're a Regina Doman fan or a lover of fairy tales who wants to meet like-minded people, this Festival is the place for you.

To Register and learn more details about the event, please visit

I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Goodbye, Sarah Jane

I begin to feel this is the year of goodbyes. Yesterday the fandom of Doctor Who was heartbroken over the news that Elisabeth Sladen, who famously portrayed companion "Sarah Jane Smith" had passed away from complications in her battle with cancer. She was only 63. Sarah Jane has been very much acclaimed as the general all-time favorite companion of the Doctor. She began her journeys with Jon Pertree (#3) and spent quite awhile with the beloved Tom Baker (#4). She made Whoverse history when she came back six doctors and thirty years later to appear as a guest companion of David Tennant (#10) in three separate episodes.

The first return appearance went over so well, that Sladen was signed on to star in her own show - "The Sarah Jane Adventures." The premise of the show was "what happens to earth when aliens invade and the Doctor isn't there?" Cue Sarah Jane and her team of spunky kids, including her adopted son, Luke. The show ran for four seasons and included guest appearances from several Whoverse stars, including Tennant and Matt Smith (#11).

For nearly 40 years Sarah Jane Smith has been an iconic figure in the world of Doctor Who. Though I only 'met' her a year ago, she's been an important and beloved part of my adventures with the Tardis (and without, in the first two seasons of The Sarah Jane Adventures).

I can't believe she's gone. My heart goes out to her family and friends who are dealing with a loss we fans can only begin to feel.
Goodbye, Lis. Goodbye, Sarah Jane. We will miss you.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Tower Challenge

Over on the Fairy Tale Novel Forum (which I administer) we have a section called "The Scribe's Corner" where all sorts of writing related topics may be found. Recently a member (Forest Dweller) posted what I thought was a pretty fun writing challenge...

Using your imagination, picture to yourself {in as positive a manner as you are capable of please} what your life would be like if you lived in a tower your whole life and what you would do every day to while away the hours. Think about it, really think about it: what does your tower look like? How'd you get there? Does anyone live with you? Do you read/bake/paint/sing/practice the Force/etc. to while away the hours or do you just sit there and daydream about escaping the tower someday? Are you content with your situation or do you long for something else? Do you ever actually get to go outside? What happens if a terrible storm blows through and rips the roof off your tower? What would you do? Perhaps you've been out battling trolls/goblins/orcs/vampires/werewolves/nasty thugs and are only in your tower for a short time to recover and let things settle down a little?

Once you've got a general, naturally very rough idea of your tower experience figured out, grab some paper {or the nearest computer} and start writing! Don't worry too much about spelling and grammar while you're writing the first draft of your story, you can polish most of that up later before posting about it.
To read more about the challenge and enter, hop on over to ForestDweller's blog! The deadline isn't until June 18th so you all have plenty of time to explore living in those towers!

This is an especially good challenge for those who want to practice how environment affects and alters character development.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Art -- a sick girl's best friend

Meant to write up some sort of awesome post today, but -- tada!-- migraine hit. Or something like that. (Yeah, I should get a prize for weird health problems)

Anyhow, my friend Alicia recently asked me to color a piece she drew and I got to it yesterday. It's up on her tumbler if you'd like to take a peek:

I'm pretty happy with the deep romantic quality of it. It (surprisingly) didn't take that long to do, and I had fun trying out a different hue set on it as well.

All sorts of posts planned for this week, so stay tuned!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

"Little Women and Werewolves" and the Retelling of Classics.

When "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" first came out, I was simultaneously horrified and intrigued. I heartily dislike the horror genre, but I adore a good parody and was delighted by the idea of Lizzy Bennet going around fighting evil with a katana.

Granted, the idea has merit. A good parody can bring both laughter and new insight to an enjoyment of an old favorite. That's part of why I enjoy seeing classics in new time periods, or fairy-tales retold, or why one of my favorite musicals is "Kiss Me Kate."

However a poorly done parody/retelling is at best a farce and at worst a travesty and an outrage.

I picked up "Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters" first, feeling that would be less creepy to begin with as it didn't have Zombies in the title. I got about halfway through and was amused at some bits, but overall ended up being too bored to continue. The book relied entirely upon its shocking premise, and reduced Austen's wonderful characters to one-dimensional cardboard cutouts.

"Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" got off to an even poorer start. When I saw Lizzy Bennet reduced to a mere shadow of her brilliant self, I set aside the book in disgust. What's the point of retelling a story if you don't respect the original themes? Why use a character like Lizzy if you don't intend to actually use her? She has so much potential to make a story come alive, but these days people don't use her (or poor Darcy) for much other than selling power.

"Android Karenina" looked like it was heading in a slightly more interesting direction, but I have not yet mastered the ability to follow the complicated cast and naming systems of Russian novels and the introduction of robots called by number names only made the confusion worse. I gave that up too.

So after three strikes out, why did I even bother to pick up "Little Women and Werewolves?" #1 because our Borders was closing and everything was $1.99, #2 because the cover was kind of cool, and #3 because I was in a Little Women mode.

Now it need hardly be said that I'm a bit of a Little Woman buff. I've read the book countless times and adapted the first part of it for a film when I was in highschool. Needless to say, give me an adapted/abridged version and I can just about tell you which sentences were changed from the original novel.

I was prepared to be lax in my expectations and read the novel solely for amusement. However it became hard to sustain that amusement when the local werewolves started -- very graphically -- ripping apart their victims. And when I say graphic, I mean graphic. It was blood and gore in minute scientific detail.

Things went from bad to worse as Jo was revealed to be in love with Laurie, (who, along with his grandfather was a werewolf), Mr. March and Beth were both written not as dear and wise people, but as ones who are slightly addled in the head, and... (wait for it) Mr. March turned into a werewolf.

The crowning horrors were when Beth basically committed suicide and Amy allowed Laurie to turn her into a werewolf. And let's not even get into the absurdity of having Jo criticized for writing sensationalist stories when she is the heroine of an intensely sensational story!

The only thing that even begins to work in this adaptation is the creation of the werewolf hunting "Brigade." This is clearly a reference to the Klu Klux Klan and is part of the books message on tolerance (accepting werewolves). However I found this ultimately racist and disturbing. Werewolves in this mythology absolutely must consume human flesh or they will die. The Marches befriend werewolves under the thought that "other than one night a month they are just like us."

People of other skin colors than us do NOT go around killing under the guise of madness every month. That comparison is offensive.

Jo March and her family would never rationalize killing of any sort.

By all means, turn your leading man into a werewolf. But don't have him in any way still rationalize his acts of murder by the end of the book. Find a cure, or have him flee human society, or lock himself up every month or... something. There are plenty of ways to write a story that is accurate to the original characters and upholds basic human morality within the horror genre.

Unfortunately, that art seems to be entirely lost in this generation of writers.

I almost never post a review this scathing, but this book horrified me so much that I couldn't not post a warning. I plan to take my copy to the nearest Half Price Books and see if I can exchange it for something more worthwhile.

First Behind-the-Scene video for "The Hobbit"

It's almost surreal to see these sets reassembled and the Weta crew back together. After nearly ten long years the project is finally happening... and it looks great. I was especially surprised and delighted that they actually showed us some of the actors in this first glimpse. Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis were featured, of course, but Martin Freeman (Bilbo) and Richard Armitage (Thorin) get some bits as well and they look fantastic. However I must admit that I'm still adjusting to the idea of attractive dwarves. Not that I have anything against the concept, I think it's a necessary move, it's just... different.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Girls in Full Color

Although I've been doing some experimental sketching lately, all of my finished "audience-worthy" pieces are in full color. I'm a little addicted to color, I think it's pretty awesome.

First up is a full-color version of the Rogue sketch I showed you last time.

Then we've got a full color of my variation of Jubilee. The fireworks were interesting to perfect.
Next we've got a sketch of sometime X-Man (but mainly X-Force member) Domino...

And Domino colored. (Click photo for enlarged version to see all the detail!)

Then I took a break from X-Men and went out to the black to sketch a lovely young lady named River Tam. (Reference photo here:

And then I went full out with digital painting to complete this work. (Click photo for enlarged version to see detail)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Parents in Disney Films and the real audience of fairy tales

Here is an interesting post from an adoptive mother on her thoughts on "Tangled."

Honestly I'd never thought about that situation before and I have to sympathize with it. However I've also seen other families with adoptive children buy the film for their kids and say nothing negative about it -- instead simply declaring how much they love it.

And I think that's the proper attitude to have because for the most part, it's NOT Disney's fault that adoptive/step-parents are portrayed in a negative light in their movies. These elements are taken directly from the original fairy-tales!

True, in Rapunzel the birth parents get some of the blame as well, as they bartered their daughter in exchange for a plant. However the original Rapunzel also has the girl getting pregnant out of wedlock and the prince getting blinded by thorns for his sins. Someone has to draw a line somewhere.

Snow White? Cinderella? Evil Step-mother definitely in both of those tales. Furthermore in some versions we get to see the princess's father, who is clearly a pretty weak guy. However, in Snow White I see the adoptive family being the dwarves, and they obviously would do anything for their princess.

What about Sleeping Beauty? Aurora is adopted by three kind fairies who adore her.

What about parents in general in Disney?

My mother was always a little ticked that the mom died in Little Mermaid. And yet this is also part of the original tale. However in that version, the Mermaid's grandmother still lived, a position which is taken by Flounder and Sebastian in the Disney version. True, Triton is rather overbearing, and yet I've seen well-meaning fathers (not mine, thank goodness!) be extremely strict and harsh with their daughters, sending the girls into lives of lies and deception as their only way of living anything like what their friends have.

We get good parents in Mulan. Wise and honorable parents who dearly love their daughter and want what is best for her.

The parents in "The Lion King" are fantastic. In fact, Mama Lion gets off easy, as she remains kind and loving even when her "Hamlet" counterpart shows an evil side.

What about Beauty and the Beast? Poor Maurice is made out to be rather ridiculous. And yet, isn't ridiculous a bit better than the original fairy tale, where the father trades his daughter for his life?

Pocohantas? For a film that takes a lot of liberties with history, they actually got Powhatan fairly right. And, as we know nothing about Pocohantas's mother, nearly every version of her story that I've read leaves her out.

Aladdin? Believe it or not, originally Aladdin had a mother in the film! However, they had to fit their running time and determined that Mama didn't move the story along fast enough. Jasmine has a loving father, who might seem a little silly yet makes the right decisions in the end and clearly only wants what is best for his daughter.

What about Peter Pan? If anything, this is Disney's strongest mother film, as Mrs. Darling and Wendy herself both present a positive, admirable picture of the virtues and necessities of mothers. In fact, since Wendy plays an adoptive mother, this ends up being positive on the adoption front as well! In the animated film they didn't have enough time to show the fact that all of the lost boys ultimately are adopted by the Darlings, but live action versions have been quite good about showing this.

Going back to my original thought... I don't mean to completely dismiss this mother's concerns. In her situation, I can see her point and why she would be worried. My point is simply, if anything, Disney made the fairy tale much more forgiving of parents.

Madam Gothel has always been a character who could be either sympathetic or villianous. Disney chose the villianeous route because their formula insists on a villian and Madam Gothel is the most obvious one. That said, they did tone her down from the heights of their other villians so that you can at times sympathize with her. Still, I think they made the right choice that for a positive family film, it was necessary that the 'real' parents be shown as loving and good, and the kidnapper as bad. Can you imagine how traumatizing it might be for a child to watch a film that showed the real parents as being willing to give their child away for a PLANT? That's material for an adult story, not a children's retelling.

Which I think explains a lot of the changes made in Disney's adaptations. If anything, they tend to make parents MORE kind or at least, realistic than the original stories. It's necessary though, because what we tend to forget in this day and age is that fairy tales were NOT originally "children's stories." They were stories the whole family enjoyed, and in many cases, they were morality stories of caution and consequences for those who did wrong. Case in point, the original Rapunzel has been CONSIDERABLY watered down to be appropriate for children. However an accurate retelling of the original tale would ONLY be appropriate for adults. The whole point of the story is the danger of locking a child away in an ivory tower where they have no idea of the reality of life and can become victims for predators. A good kid's story? I think not. Sounds more like a cautionary story for... parents?

Wow. This piece got a lot more rambling than I expected. I'll sign off now and give you all a chance to chime in.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

I didn't always consider myself a patient person. And yet God's taught me a lot about patience over the last few years. To my surprise, I'm realizing that patience is absolutely crucial in both of my chosen professions.

#1 - in sewing. Sewing is fussy, finicky and fickle. It is necessary to move slowly and complete every step in order to produce a well-constructed garment. When I was younger I didn't have the patience for this and positively raced through projects. As a result, there were a lot more tears involved then were necessary.

When I was in college I had a part time job as an alterations assistant. Let me tell you, there is nothing to teach patient sewing better than working in alterations. Alteration work has to be precise, which means you have no choice but to take your time, otherwise you're going to make a mistake that will need fixing later on. Once I got used to this, it was like my brain was rewired. I got used to taking time to get things right on my projects, and the quality of my work vastly improved.

#2 - in writing. I've been learning a lot lately about how a good book takes time to create. It's not just writing a first draft and then you're done... you have to let the book grow. You have to take time in between chapters to let the plot simmer. You have to soak in life, grow, learn, and then bring your lessons back and apply them to the story. My first novel took me four years to write and I'm still not certain that I won't have to make a few final revisions. My nano novels (both of them) faltered precisely because I was going too fast on them. My current novel was started over a month ago. I've been writing on it every week (though certainly not every day) and I'm up to nearly 40 pages, some of which have already been rewritten.

Guess patience really is a virtue, huh? And maybe I've grown up into a patient woman after all.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Conviction and praying for the President.

So today God convicted me of something.

I visited a new church, which was awesome. I've been looking for one for quite awhile and this one has been on my mind to visit but I never worked it out until today. I liked it and am hoping to go back.

Anyhow, the paster (who was also awesome) preached a great sermon on the subject of prayer. As his text he used Timothy 2:1-6. The first two verses especially really stood out to me.

"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way."

I'll admit it, I don't spend much -- if any -- time playing for those in authority. Sure I pray for my family and friends and occasionally other individuals that my friends request me to pray for. However it's never really crossed my mind to pray for, say, Obama.

By that I don't mean "pray that Obama will be saved." Not that prayers for the salvation of everyone aren't important, because they are (and I'm not saying that Obama isn't a true Christian because I honestly don't know and I'm not going to make public judgments about that). However that's only a part of it. I'm talking about prayers that our President will have the wisdom to make the right decisions that honor God and his plan, even unintentionally.

I don't know if this is just me, or if it is a common lack in my generation. Do you think about praying for those in authority over you? What if you don't agree with them? How do you pray for them then?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Steampunk Austen and Royal X-Women

Did you grow up loving dress-up games? I certainly did. As an adult I occasionally get to don costumes for midnight movie openings and LARPs, but it's been quite awhile since I've gotten to dress up my dolls.

However, thanks to the power of the internet, it is now easy to play dress up without having to spend a penny. This week a friend of mine introduced me to Doll Divine and I've since become rather addicted. In fact, my work last night has got me thinking of writing a Jane Austen retelling set in a steampunk universe. Would you be interested in seeing me do that?

Anyhow, below I present to you Miss Elizabeth Bennet...

And her royal highness, Jean Grey (yes, the little bird is a nod to the Phoenix Force)

Want to see more?

Austen Heroines


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Happy Birthday Hannah!

This is a special birthday post in honor of my friend Hannah's 18th.

Hannah is a spunky, sweet, creative young woman who writes some of the best humor of anyone I've ever met! We met over at the FTN forum several years ago, and met in person at ReginaCon 2009.

(Below -- Hannah and I as Annamarie and Elizabeth Swann in a POTC/Princess Bride murder mystery)

On the forum we have a sort of very extended adopted family, in which Hannah is my grand-niece. She is known for going on crazy FBI missions and occasionally going back to her pirating roots.

In real life Hannah is full of laughter and fun and seemingly on a mission to make the world a happier place.

Happy Birthday, Hannah!
I'm so glad you're my friend and 'niece' and cannot wait until I have a chance to see you again.