Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in review

Here I am, finishing out 2012 with the flu. It's ironic, really, since overall my health has improved drastically this year, but there it is. Still, I was #4 in my family to get it, which is quite an improvement from being #1.

2012 has been a good year though. In addition to the health stuff, I made major leaps in my careers as a freelance costumer and writer. I'll be uploading a post of all my costumes from this year soon on Confessions of a Seamstress - watch for it! And of course, on the writing front there is my installment of Chesterton Press's "The Ruah Chronicles".

Speaking of Confessions of a Seamstress, although I only started it 18 months ago, it proved enormously popular, with my posts on Downton Abbey and Once Upon a Time costumes scoring more than 20,000 hits each. My mind still can't comprehend this!

In addition to the novel work, I also took the time to explore different writing styles, coming out with two Doctor Who short stories that I'm quite proud of. "The Contemplations of Martha Jones" directly follows the season four finale "Journey's End" and "The Legacy of River Song" is from the viewpoint of one of Prof. Song's students. Both are short, thematic pieces rather than long plot-driven stories.

I also got to travel quite a bit, spending six weeks away from home in Florida, Illinois, Maryland and Virginia. It was awesome to see so much of the country, but even better to spend time with so many wonderful people.

On the home front, I did a lot of work setting up the lower level of our house as my new living/work space. I came back home because of health reasons, for which I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my parents for making possible. I hope they find it a debt well worth holding! I'm certainly incredibly grateful, both to them and to God for watching over me here.

Overall 2012 was a good year (though not without it's challenges) and I'm looking forwards to seeing what 2013 holds!

Some Blog Highlights of 2012:
Internet Etiquette part one (part two) (part three)
When is "Old Enough" for adult books?
The Names of "Once Upon a Time"
Rumplestiltskin as "The Beast"
Thoughts about Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Violence in "The Hunger Games"
Catholic Philosopher Chick Makes Her Debut
My Great-Grandfather's Legacy
What's in a Name? (The story behind "Elenatintil")
Being Deaf Is...
Celebrating Disabilities in Fiction
Whatever Happened to Worship Dancing
What Texting Means to the Deaf
ReginaCon 2012
Ruah Chronicles Announcement
Moving Computer Tips
When a Woman Spoke to God
ITV's Titanic Miniseries
Brickfair 2012
21 Must Watch Musicals
The Pickiest Journal Shopper's Club
Dealing With Writing Critique
33 Books Everyone Should Read
How to know if NaNoWriMo is for you
Book Geek Heaven
Doctor Who Rewatch and Rose Tyler
Will OUAT Tackle Snow White and Rose Red?
The Saga of the Scribble Comics
Why I'm Not Seeing "The Hobbit" In Theaters

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Some Personal Writing Answers

Normally I don't do tag back memes... but Una Mariah had some interesting questions, so I figured I'd at least answer them. ;)

How long have you been writing? 
Since I figured out how to write three letter words. Or how to get my parents to write down the stories I dictated  I can't remember which came first.

Which do you find inspires you more: music or pictures?
Probably music, although I do surround myself with inspirational artwork as well. Music seems to move me more emotionally, however.

Do you find yourself writing from a guy's perspective more often than a girl's, or is it the other way around? 
I naturally tend to gravitate towards a female perspective (surprise surprise) but I've done male as well, and I constantly try to improve that side of my craft.

Do you prefer bands, singers, or soundtracks to listen to? 
If I'm listening to anything while I write, it pretty much has to be a soundtrack without vocals.

 Which is your favorite? (in whichever category you pick)
I consistently go back to the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack. It is just perfect!

Which do you prefer to write in: notebooks or computers?
Oh, computers for sure. Occasionally I will do a short story or something in my notebooks, but I just can't write fast enough to keep up with my flow of thought!

 Do you find yourself hoarding notebooks, even if you barely write in them?

 Have you ever done something really random or weird in public?
Um... this is kind of weird, I suppose. My friend and I were outside the Smithsonian this summer, and my feet were killing me, so I took off my shoes and walked on the grass next to the sidewalk.

Another time another friend and I were in Disney World and we got bored with all the walking around, so we just randomly broke into song...

 Do you keep folders or notebooks full of inspiring quotes or pictures?
Kind of. I have an inspiration board for my costume design, and when I update the pictures on there, I move the old ones into a notebook.

 Do you occasionally pause in the middle of a sentence, and dash off to your writing space, over come with a new idea? If so, do you yell 'YES!!!!' as you run?
No, although I have woken up in the middle of the night with an idea that keeps me awake (but not awake enough to get up and write about it.)

What is your favorite song at the moment?
I just got the Brave soundtrack, so that's kind of been on repeat a lot. ;)

 Is your hair brown? (okay, I ran out of ideas for questions. So sue me.)
*looks shifty* Why do you want to know?

Okay readers, your turn. Answer any of the questions above (seriously, I'd love to know), or throw some new ones at me. Anything writing related is game! (But I can't divulge details about the Ruah Chronicles... sorry!)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Doctor Who: "The Snowmen"


Once Upon a Time...

... there was a lonely man, far from home, who had lost all his dear ones and couldn't bear to love and loose again.

... there were three friends, outcasts of society yet confident individuals, who yearned to help the lonely man find a purpose again.

... there was a curious and intrepid young woman who could fit into two worlds, and was determined to get the lonely man to answer her questions and save the world.

I absolutely loved "The Snowmen." Like all Doctor Who it has its shortcomings, but overall it was a very strong Christmas episode. I loved the return of Madam Vastra, Jenny, and Strax. I loved that they were set up last season, so that it doesn't seem out of the blue now that the Doctor does have some loyal friends, even if he thinks he's lost all. And they're all such marvelous personalities...

But they can't compare to Clara. She's brilliant, bold, clever, and funny (although not without caution and common sense!). She is exactly what the Doctor needs after loosing the Ponds, a fact which he realizes against all of his better sense. And then she dies.

I honestly did not see that one coming. I knew we wouldn't get a clear answer on the Clara/Oswin Oswald connection for awhile yet, but I didn't expect Victorian Clara to be a different person from Modern Day Clara! Or is she? What is going on? Is she some sort of cloned intelligence? Another manifestation of the Flesh? Some fans are speculating that she is a time lord like River Song or Romana regenerated... others think she might be Jack Harkness's daughter. I like the Flesh hypothesis the best, but I think the Doctor would have picked up on that right away.

It's an intriguing mystery, and frustrating that we have to wait until spring to learn more, but "The Snowmen" holds enough goodness to stand on its own. Matt Smith gets a chance to be grumpy and quirky in a way that seems particularily reminiscent of some of the earliest Doctors... a fact which is underlined by the numerous references to classic who, from the revision of the title sequence to the Tardis's new interior - which is terribly similar to it's earliest on-screen incarnations. And even the villain, "The Great Intelligence" is a classic Who entity (for more info, check out the Wiki synopsis!)

And then there are the literary references, with clearly stated allusions to Sherlock Holmes, and less verbal but still delightfully front and center allusions to Mary Poppins (has Moffat been reading our tumblrs???).

For me it was an episode full of favorite moments. I love the visuals of Clara climbing the staircase... I love the humor... I love the "One word answer" challenge, and I absolutely adore the banter between Clara and the Doctor. In fact, although I am 100% a Doctor/River shipper, and prior to yesterday had absolutely no intention of shipping the Doctor and Clara, ever... I can't deny that there is some crazy chemistry there. I do hope they're going to handle it right, as - despite chemistry - we don't need another Rose situation. And even though the villains were somewhat underplayed... I think that was appropriate for a Christmas special.

I think Clara is going to be a fascinating companion to watch, and "The Snowmen" is going to rank right up there with "A Christmas Carol" in terms of popularity.

Downton Abbey 2012 Christmas Special

I'd better state this before you even think about scrolling down - there are spoilers in this post. If you haven't watched the episode, don't read it, even if you have somehow heard the biggest spoiler.

Which really wouldn't be that surprising, as the British papers have been pretty vocal about it. There's almost no way to be an American, on the internet, and remain an unspoiled Downton Abbey Fan. But do try, please!

*spoilers below*

I'll admit, I was nervous when I heard that this special would be taking place at Rose's house. I hadn't been thrilled with Rose's character during the earlier episodes and wasn't keen on seeing more of her. However, her character was handled well and the actress was given a chance to really prove her acting chops, which turn out to be quite formidable. Plus, her relationship with her parents and theirs with each other was well written, and both her father and mother were well cast. And at the end it becomes quite clear that Rose is about to become a season regular, bringing fresh youth to the show that lost it's most passionate young bloom this year.

Lord and Lady Grantham remain background figures, but do well in very supporting roles. We didn't see nearly enough of Cousin Violet, but her bits, as always, are priceless.

The dialogue faltered at a few places, particularly during Edith's lines, and it seemed strongly to me to be poor writing, not poor acting. Which is a pity because Edith is brilliant when given decent stuff to do. This whole 'mad wife' editor proposing for her to be his mistress storyline is just frustrating. Seriously, Edith?

Anna and Bates finally got a chance to just be sweet and in love... not dealing with manipulations, downstairs politics, or prison sentences. It was a refreshing change, especially to see Anna looking young and happy again.

It was also enjoyable to see the servants having fun as well, although I'm furious with Mrs. Patmore's slimy suitor. Thankfully the lady is made of stronger stuff than to be laid low by his duplicity!

I'm also glad with the resolution of the Thomas/Jimmy storyline. It allowed them both to show their maturity, and reach a compromise wherein they can live in the same house and even have a solid friendship.

Alfred and Daisy should get married and start a restaurant. Just saying.

Edna... I feel like she was only thrown in there to give Branson something to do. Poor Tom. He just sat around being confused the whole episode. Although it was lovely to see him with little Sybbie... though nothing can compare to the cuteness of Carson playing nursemaid!

And now I have to turn to the best and worst of the episode.

Mary was a beautiful, serene, mother-to-be. It was delightful to see her and Matthew together, anticipating the birth of their child. And then, a happy birth, with no complications... a son and heir! All was right with the world. In my mind, I want to think the show ended there. Some storylines unresolved... but with hope for the future.

And then they killed Matthew.

No warning, except that he was driving too fast, and those of us who had heard rumors of Dan Stevens leaving the show got suddenly suspicious...

Let's be honest here. Sure, Dan has a right to go and do what he wants with his career, and three years probably was as long as he wanted to do Downton.

BUT. His character was one of the most central figures, and certainly the most pivotal. If you'd asked me which characters could not, under any circumstances leave the show, I would have answered Matthew or Mary.

For Dan to leave, now, with such a sudden resolution, really leaves the show in a bind. We already lost Sybil, now Matthew is gone, and with it are two of the most beloved, sweet, admirable characters on the show. I have no doubt they can and will carry on with another season or two, but the show will loose some of it's luster, and already has lost fans. I'm not the only viewer who feels that Steven's move shows a lack of consideration for his co-stars, who have to carry on without him.

Of course, they will manage. In real life, people die, and we carry on. Mary will manage, as Branson has (perhaps they even will together, as some fans speculate). Still, to have such a violent, unexpected death on the Christmas Special is jarring and just plain cruel to the fans.

I will keep watching because I care about the other characters. I love them all, and I'm looking forwards to the addition of Rose to the cast. But it's a grim day. I first started watching the show because of Dan Stevens (who I loved in "Sense and Sensibility") and it will be hard to watch a Downton without him.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I was interviewed!

Hannah at "Ink and Paper Dreams" hosted an interview with me on writing, particularly juggling writing with work and/or school. I think it turned out well, and should be interesting/helpful to other aspiring writers out there.

Read it here.

(I actually really enjoy doing interviews, so don't be shy to send a request my way if you'd like to feature another viewpoint on a topic that you've seen me blog about. You can contact me at elenatintil [at] gmail [dot] com.)

American Girl Dolls get Hearing Aids - at Last!

My first introduction to American Girl Dolls came over 15 years ago. Back then there were just five dolls: Felicity, Kirsten, Addy, Samantha and Molly. No American Girl of Today, no Best Friends, no tie in books, no self-help books, no magazine. Just those original five dolls and their books in a well-loved catalog. Because of my strong Swedish heritage, my first doll was Kirsten and I absolutely adored her. Later on Felicity and Josefina would join her, as would one American Girl of Today doll. Like most girls of that time, I picked out the "Today" doll that looked most like me (and there were not nearly as many options back then!). Brown hair, blue eyes... and a pair of glasses. She was totally me.

Except she didn't have hearing aids.

By the time I got my "Elizabeth" doll, I'd been wearing hearing aids for about five years, and knew I would wear them for the rest of my life. Although I lived in the hearing community, my deafness was never very far from our minds. One year for Halloween we even carved my pumpkin with hearing aids! So, understandably, I was sad that I couldn't have aids for my doll.

If you've never looked closely at an American Girl Doll's ears, you're going to have to take my word for it that there is no way to easily make an aid that will sit on the ear... there just isn't enough 'lip' on the lobe or 'depth' in the ear canal to keep it on, especially as played with by a child. So even though I've always wanted aids, I understood that there was not an 'easy fix.'

Imagine my delight and surprise when this appeared in my facebook page yesterday!

You have to send your doll in to receive a special piercing behind her earlobe to hold the aid on. This doesn't surprise me in the least, and I'm thrilled that girls today will have the option of getting an aid (or two) for their dolls! I do hope they offer more colors, however, as I'm sure there are many girls that would prefer blue, purple or green! (I'd go ahead and get them myself if they came in a skin color). 

I've always been impressed by AG's doll hospital, which is a must when a single doll costs over $100. They do truly mean for their dolls to be heirloom keepsakes after a childhood of hard play and have gone through a lot of work to make this feasible. My three dolls (Kirsten became my sister's - long story) still are displayed in my room, and once in a while I'll still make new clothes for them (Felicity became Jean Grey this year).

Anyhow, long story short, I am delighted by this new option, as well as another new disability sensitive offering - dolls without hair

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Changing Hearts

I feel that writing about anything would come across as trite after the shootings in Connecticut yesterday.

So I'm going to take this post to extend my prayers and sympathy to the victims, their families and their community. I can only imagine the grief, fear, and questions they must be dealing with right now. May God be with them.

It is when we see these things happen that we feel the call in our heart to raise a better generation. To be there for our friends, to raise up our children, to share the love of Christ, so that lonely, mentally ill people will not resort to these horrific acts for attention or revenge. This statement isn't about changing laws, it's about changing hearts.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

But I am still /excited/ about "The Hobbit"

First off, I want to say thank you to everyone who read and commented on my explanation of why I physically can't go see "The Hobbit." I am thankful to live in a world where people can be open and want to learn about what makes everyone different, and how they can help those with physical (or any) handicaps.

That said, even though I probably won't be able to see the film for at least half a year...

I am extremely excited.

I was not yet 15 when "Return of the King" was released in theaters, and it was the only LOTR movie that I was able to see on the big screen (before captions were really available at all). It was an utterly magical experience...

I'd first seen "The Fellowship of the Ring" some 18 months previously, and fallen completely in love. I had, of course, read the book first, and scoured magazines for pictures to drool over the visual feast Peter Jackson and his crew had created. While there are places where the adaptation angers faithful fans of the book, I think it is hard for any of us to argue with the design decisions.

There were rumors about the "Hobbit" being translated to screen as well almost immediately, but a rights war started and for a long time we pretty much gave up hope that this film would ever happen.

Guillermo del Torro was signed on to direct at last, which was exciting news as his film aesthetic seemed like it would be a good fit. But the waiting got too long even for him, and he had to move on with other projects (for which none of us can really blame him, poor guy).

And then it really began happening. They wrote the script, which turned into two movies (and later, three), and started casting. We were thrilled to hear of all the returning actors, and book fans should even geek out over Legolas's reported appearance at his father's court in Mirkwood, a detail I was certainly hoping they would not overlook.

We worried about finding the perfect Bilbo (we shouldn't have), and how the dwarves would be portrayed, and whether the darkness of the films we already had would intrude on the more youthful tone of "The Hobbit." But we knew early on that Jackson would be including stories from the appendices, and though it will forever change how we view "The Hobbit," it is, in the end, I think a more faithful choice for translating the history Tolkien created in its fullness to the screen.

I could be wrong (and I'm sure there will be things that frustrate me), but all in all, the posters, trailers, and news stories seem to indicate that this is going to be a fantastic new trilogy. I am thrilled that eventually I will get to see it, and that tonight old fans will flock to the midnight opening with new, younger fans in tow, and a new era of Middle Earth love will begin.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Why I'm Not Seeing "The Hobbit" in Theaters

I'm a huge LOTR fan. Like all good fans, I've read the books multiple times, (including the Silmarillion), read countless of Tolkien's other writings, biographies, etc, watched the movies too many times to count, made my own fan film, studied the Elvish language, and watched the progress of the Hobbit since before ROTK was even released.

However, I'm not going to the midnight opening. I'm not even going the next day, or the next week. And it's not just because movie theaters can give me migraine headaches.

It's not even because there isn't a close-captioned version to see.

Most of you know I'm deaf, and absolutely /must/ have subtitles to watch any type of video. (Many thanks to all you YouTube-rs who subtitle your films! Love you guys!). Movie theaters have struggled to provide technology that is both cost effective and accessible for the handicapped without pushing out the non-disabled.

Rear View Captioning was a pain in the neck, sometimes literally. Using a mirror on a stick system that Leonardo da Vinci would have been proud of, it was difficult to adjust properly, and shook annoyingly whenever you shifted in your seat. Forget getting up to go to the bathroom, or letting anyone pass you, it meant readjusting the whole thing, and even then you had to look back and forth between the mirror and the big movie screen. Awful, but better than no captions.

Open Captioning was marvelous. The words were right there on the screen. My family members who were used to captions didn't even notice they were there... however I know people who complain about subtitles and would have avoided those showings.

Both of these instances keep the available watching options limited, as there were few theaters with the space and/or money to arrange/install the necessary features. Usually only one or two movies would play at a given location in a week, and unless you live in a metropolitan area, good luck finding an accessible theater. The closest to me even now is 20 minutes away - beyond that it is 45. When I lived in Fargo? Nothing.

New technology is working to overcome this. It features a headset you wear, that beams the words 'onto the screen'... or so it appears to you. They're displayed inside the goggles. Non-intrusive, and run by an infrared signal that goes through the theater, they can be worn in any movie, at any time. Suddenly the options are limitless.

Or are they?

Take a look at the eyewear we're supposed to wear.

For some people, wearing goggles is no big deal. But for most people with hearing aids, we already are carrying a lot of weight on our ears. Adding something more to that is not an option. I personally have to wear the lightest prescription glasses my eyeglass provider carries, and I still have to let my hearing aids dangle off my ears every now and then to give my ears a rest. (Yes, I do know my hearing aids are hanging out, I put them there!) When I explained the system to my deaf aunt, she was likewise frustrated and annoyed, saying that she hoped they'd go back to open captions which she also preferred.

Likely this will work for some people. The theaters love it, as every theater within driving distance of my house have now implemented it. I now have no choice - no movie, no subtitles, or painful ears and head.

I expect at some point (when my health has improved further so that I'm no longer afraid of migraines) I will give this technology a try, just to be 100% fair. But it's not an experience I'm looking forwards to, and not something I think I would undergo - even for the Hobbit.

Hopefully over time better technology will open options... or DVDs will release at the same time as the theater versions. Movie watching is an ever-evolving scene and who knows what the future will hold?

Looking for Christmas ideas?

I've collected some of my favorite gift ideas in this post. All of these are unique, awesome, and absolutely worth buying! Plus they are all sold by small, family owned businesses, so not only do you get great presents, but you are supporting some wonderful people as well! 

Jewelry? Check!

My friend Shaylynn (who has been featured a few times on Confessions of a Seamstress) is an enormously talented young lady and runs a store on Artfire to host her whimsical creations. She specializes in wirework, with a steampunk and fantasy flair, and also offers religious pieces. I love how she uses everything from watch parts and guitar strings to rhinestones and beads to create her effects!

Some of my favorite pieces:

Books? Check!

This year Catholic author Regina Doman and her family expanded their publishing company, Chesterton Press, to begin carrying titles by other authors. I've loved every single title I've read, and I'm looking forwards to reading the others!

Titles I love?

Fairy Tales retold... I don't think I will ever be able to convey how much I adore these books. If you haven't read them yet, pick up copies for yourselves as well as any teens on your shopping list! 

Ben Hatke is a talented artist and writer, and his first book has been received with enormous delight by young readers. Perfect for kids of all ages, and tons of fun to read as a family as well! I read the whole thing in one sitting and can't wait to read the second volume, which is also carried by Chesterton Press.

Chesterton Press offers some really good adult fiction as well, but so far Rachel's Contrition has been my favorite. Powerful, evocative and well-written, it is a fabulous choice for any of the women readers on your list. 

Soaps? Check!

The Goat Milk Soap Shop is run by my friends Amanda, Megan and Teresa. Although I've not yet tried the soaps myself, they're on my list, especially since they carry bars that are fragrance free, which is wonderful for those of sensitive skin! They also carry goat milk soaps with essential oils, and regular fragrence soap made from high quality organic, natural ingredients. If you've got any questions about the soaps, the girls would be more than happy to answer them!

I'm looking forwards to trying:

Scent free and made with goat milk - sounds like the perfect soap for the allergen-plagued! 

Made with essential oils, this also looks like it would be a great smelling choice to add to my list!

And if chemical scents didn't bother me, I would love to try the delicious sounding Cherry Almond!

Baby stuff? Check!

I have a few baby quilts left, and I'm selling them each for just $35! If you're interested in one of them, just send an e-mail to elenatintil [at] gmail [dot] com. (They also make great lap quilts!)

 Blue Stripes


 Pink Power

 Violet Flowers

Southwestern Evening

Like the quilts, but don't see a design you like? Custom versions start at $50 apiece.

Hopefully this post has given you some ideas for your Christmas shopping and perhaps made the whole process a bit easier! 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Restoring Faith in Weddings

Went to a wedding last night and boy am I exhausted!

I've been sick this week (reaction to paint fumes which knocked out my immune system and allowed a nasty virus in) but thanks to vitamins and prayers, I was able to not only make it to the wedding, but dance at it! I even felt well enough on Friday to finish sewing my dress for the occasion! (Pictures and diary coming soon on Confessions of a Seamstress!)

While most of my paternal cousins married several years ago, this was the first wedding among my maternal cousins. Which was a bit odd, since I'm the eldest cousin, but the groom is the next down and he and his bride are such sweet, lovely people that it was truly a joy to see them united. They've dated for several years, so we've been able to get to know her well over many Christmases and family gatherings.

The ceremony was traditional Missouri Synod Lutheran. Everything moved smoothly and the minister's words to the couple were wise, humorous and of the perfect length. I was surprised by the opportunity to sit in the front row with my aunt and uncle (parents-of-the-groom), a rare privilege of being deaf, so I had an excellent view of everything.

We then transferred to the reception locale, which was a newly opened and absolutely lovely winery. The reception hall was huge (but not in the least ostentatious!), with perfect decor and lighting (always difficult to find the right balance!). The food was unusually good, and my gluten-intolerance has improved just enough that I was able to enjoy one of the gourmet cupcakes.

Seriously, cupcakes! They're a growing fashion among bridal couples and I think they're fantastic. They're the right size to be a smaller serving for children and sugar-conscious, but two of them makes a perfect larger serving for those with larger and stronger stomachs! Plus you can easily make them in various flavors, so everyone can have their favorite. Literally the only option I didn't see was an allergy-conscious version (and I suspect more and more weddings will offer this as gluten, dairy, nut and sugar allergies rise in public awareness).

Oh, and did I mention the live band? Always a fun treat at a wedding! And thanks to the venue's capabilities, there were also plenty of disco lights to delight the numerous, adorable children. A bit loud, but worth enduring for the chance to go out on the dance floor with my family! (Even Grandpa!)

It's been a year in which I've seen much of the dark side of weddings, enough to make me grow to dislike them in general. But last night was a really lovely event that went a significant way towards healing that wound.

So I'm thankful for it, but even more thankful for my cousin and his wife, that God brought them together and is giving them a future together.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Making of Downton Abbey and a word for Anglophiles in General

After the news of a new addition to the royal family made all anglophiles squeal, we're in need of some extra British-loving stuff, right?

So you might really enjoy pursuing this extensive article on the making of our favorite historical drama...

Or, if you're sick of "ENGLAND IS PERRRRFECT" (or a resident/former resident of the UK who is tired of misconceptions and idealizations about their home), you might want to check out "The Anglo Files: A Field Guide to the British" by Sarah Lyall. Warning - contains profanity and sex detail. Worth pursing anyhow if you're an adult who wants to really understand or write accurately about modern life in the UK but can't afford to move there. It's definitely not all Jane Austen and tea cups (but there's tea... lots of it.)

Don't get me wrong, I've been in love with all of the British Isles since I was 11 years old, and I've been dying to go back since my first trip when I was 16. However, I do know that the expansive gushing Anglophile craziness is annoying some Brits who are tired of being misconstrued and idealized. Case in point... when I visited England, my group of homeschooled teens was not allowed to turn on any television. It was all too risque. We may love England, but it's not all Downton Abbey and Beatrix Potter.

(Fun fact, "The Anglo Files" details how Beatrix Potter made the hedgehog a universally adored critter in England. True story.)

Or, y'know, you could just make a mug of tea and settle in for a marathon of Doctor Who as you count the 20 days until the Christmas Special...

Monday, December 3, 2012

It's official... Royal Baby is on the way!

Buckingham Palace announced today that Prince William and Princess Kate are expecting their first child! No word on when the due date is, but obviously sometime before the end of next summer. Kate is suffering from extreme morning sickness, which is a rare and really horrible but totally treatable problem. 

Congratulations, Will and Kate! Wishing you all the best!

This birth will go down in the history books because it will be the first English royal child born that will immediately be assured of his or her place in the succession, even if it is a girl (in the past, girls would always be proceeded by any brothers, even if they were younger). 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

OUAT 2.9 - "Queen of Hearts"

Spoilers lurk below!!!

WELL. I had some trepidation heading into this episode, but over all, I think it did a great job of answering the most important questions of the season, tying up some storylines and starting others... definitely a better constructed plot arc than last season!

For one, I was not expecting the use of the lake. It's great writing, but I'm not used to OUAT being so good at set-up. It was a perfect way to use two portal instruments that were otherwise useless - the powder and the bean. And obviously it was very well foreshadowed.

It was really nice to get some more flashbacks. We saw clearly how Hook and Cora began their partnership, and surprisingly Regina has a part in that history, as does Belle! It'll be interesting to see how those two women react when Hook shows up in Storybrooke.

Speaking of Regina, she's really starting to grow on me as a character I genuinely like. The more we see of her past, and the more we see of how genuinely she is trying to reform, the more hope I have. This episode was obviously a pivotal place for her, where she finally put Henry's desires over her own feelings.

While we got only glimpses of Aurora and Mulan, I felt their lines were handled more deftly and they were better directed. Mulan actually showed some emotion, and Aurora is positively adorable! I'm looking forwards to seeing them in their quest for Phillip, who hopefully is not lost forever!

But by far the best part of the episode was getting to see Emma and Snow be badass. Snow is an absolutely lethal fighter, and Emma, despite her lack of formal training, manages to hold her own, and even defeat Hook - way to go girl! Who else thought that Cora was really going to kill Snow? And then who thought - for the briefest of moments, that Emma was going to die? I couldn't imagine how they were going to write their way out of it.

But now... now we know that Emma being the "savior" and being the "product of true love" is more than just ending the curse. She's got enough magic in her to instinctively force back Cora, who is arguably the most powerful magic-user in the series (even Rumple is afraid of her). It'll be really interesting to see this develop over the second half of the season, which will probably return to the Storybrooke/flashback format of season 1, now that Cora and Hook are sailing into town... it remains to be seen how Aurora and Mulan's thread will be integrated into all this, but hopefully we'll get to see more of their backstories as well!