Thursday, February 28, 2013

Building up mental muscles

When you're sick for a long time (and I mean in a 'confined to bed for months' way), you kind of loose the ability to push yourself through things. Not that there is much you can do - after all, there are plenty of illnesses where pushing makes yourself worse, so you have no choice but to become resigned to making the most of a sedentary life.

I've been getting so much better over the past year. It's truly amazing, and I am so thankful to God. However, my 'pushing' muscle has really atrophied. I keep working on building it up, and I am able to get through a lot more now than I used to. So that's good.

Still, every now and then I get laid up with something and the muscle reverts back to the resting state. I recently recovered from a week-long migraine, and the thing about migraines is that you cannot push yourself or they get worse. So I had to spend a week going "yes I could /maybe/ do that but then I'll have a relapse so I'd better not..."

Migraine is over now. However my body hasn't gotten the message that it's time to get back to work. It's really, really hard to push myself to do the hard stuff. I've gotten lazy. I have to not beat myself up over this, but just do my best to build up that muscle again and get things done.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Migraines, Delays and Legos

So there was not OUAT review this week because I was suffering a migraine and barely made it through the episode itself. In fact, if it weren't the big "Bae Reveal" week I wouldn't have pushed myself even that much. (Loved the episode, though! I may need to rewatch it soon here!)

Which could be a contributing factor to why this migraine lasted a week, although there were a lot of things making it a difficult recovery. Then I traveled home, adjusted to being back after a two week absence, and had an awesome Oscar/birthday party. (Oh yes, I turned 24!)

I'll try to get some good posts written up later this week (after I reply to my seriously flooded inboxes!) but for now, enjoy this picture of the awesome custom Gambit/Rogue Legos my boyfriend got me for my birthday. :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

OUAT 2.13 - "Tiny"

Normally the episodes that focus on a peripheral character are rated as "boring" by half the fans, and "cute/intriguing/introspective" by the other half. From what I hear so far, this episode was no exception... but I've enjoyed it more than any other peripheral character episode since Belle's first appearance last year.

Spoilers follow.

Let's be honest. Jorge Garcia is probably one of the most endearing actors around. He perfectly captures an attitude that - while very grounded, realistic (and sometimes pessimistic?), is nonetheless utterly adorable and endearing. Like his role on ABC's other hit drama, LOST, as Hurley, Garcia here plays a well-meaning, loyal character... who is just a bit misunderstood.

Or maybe more than just a bit.

We previously met him through the eyes of Emma and Hook, and learn that he has a good heart, but distrusts humans greatly and has been very jaded. In "Tiny" we learn why. And it's a good explanation. Although it was pretty funny to see David's face when Anton tried to kill him.

Because apparently it is David now, which explains a lot, although I find it interesting that in a world where no one but Regina was supposed to have a "Happily Ever After," David was actually restored to his true identity and given his birth name back. Is this just a slip in the writing, or is there some deeper meaning here?

Anyhow, Prince James makes a return, and apparently he was an arrogant, selfish womanizer. Who is having a fling with a woman named Jacqueline, aka Jack the Giant Killer. (Who seems to have just been to Wonderland, where she slew a Jabberwock and got some magic size-altering mushroom). Jackie was an interesting character, but her appearance was abruptly begun and ended. Will we get to see more of her? How did she take up with Prince James?

 Another scene we didn't get to see nearly enough of was the interaction with Belle and Ruby. I loved the Little Red Riding Hood nod with the basket of goodies, and also the exchange of the book. As for the other patient sharing his knowledge with Belle... ominous! What is going to happen?

Rumplestitlskin's "Quest" was likewise given minimal screentime, although the scenes we did get were probably the most insightful and profound in the entire episode. I really, really enjoyed the dynamic between Rumple and Emma, seeing Rumple vulnerable and Emma comforting him. Loved that she called him "my father" for the security guard's benefit. It certainly seems to be foreshadowing the family dynamic that the preview for next week all but confirms...

Henry's Father Neal is Baelfire.

Most popular fan theory of all time, and there's still a chance that they could throw a major twist, but at this point I think it unlikely. It would make sense, it's been strongly foreshadowed, and it will have maximum emotional impact.  We'll see what happens...

Two final notes. #1 - Yes, Regina has reunited with Cora... but I'm not sure she'd really become that evil again that quickly. Her conversation with Hook was a bit too much... could it have actually been Cora in disguise again?

#2 - while the bit scenes did actually work pretty well in this episode, we have to be honest and acknowledge that the cast is really getting too big to really keep the fans happy. I'm delighted that Anton joined the dwarves - it was one of the best scenes in the episode and gave me tons of sappy happy feelings... but how often will we get to see him? And we haven't seen present-time Mulan or any sign of Aurora since before Christmas.

Seriously. It's time for a spin-off show.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Let's Talk "SMASH" Again

First the usual disclaimer, "SMASH" is an adult show. It contains a disclaimer prior to airing, and on Hulu they won't let you watch it unless you sign into your account and prove you're over 18. So if that's not your cup of tea, pay this no mind.

That said, I continue to find much in the show worth watching, as it takes the life behind the stage and shows us all of it - good and bad. Glamorized? Not this! Dramatized? Nope. Theater is messy.

And I continue to like it, despite the problems many critics pointed out last season, problems so severe that showrunner, Theresa Rybeck was fired. The whole story behind that move has been written up quite well in this article - worth checking out if you're interested in such things.

So. Let's talk about "SMASH" again.

(Didn't hear my first impressions? Read them here.)

First of all, I'm probably biased. I came in on episode 4 of season 1 and was instantly hooked. When I really like something, I can ignore the weaker points and focus on the good ones. That's not true for everyone, and I know there were enough storylines that really bugged people. If the show was on any channel but the poorly preforming NBC, it would have already gotten axed. Thankfully for the fans, it is on NBC so by their standards it is doing well.

(Forgot what last happened? Check out my review of the Season 1 Finale.)

The first hour of the two hour premiere aired first online a couple weeks ago, and I watched and appreciated it. I wasn't able to watch the second half when it aired due to travel issues, but I did finally finish it yesterday. Overall I really liked it. It kept the good stuff from last season, while tweaking and snipping out the problematic bits.

For instance, Julia's complicated marital problems. Frank officially left in the first episode, which really made him out to be a jerk (and he'd come around so well in the finale!) but was sort of necessary to get him off the show. Julia's son (who can remember his name?) is likewise living offscreen. This, along with major criticism of Julia's writing for Bombshell (while the rest of it was praised) leaves Julia in a major funk. "SMASH" has not shied away from dealing with depression before, and considering it's prevalence in our culture, I think that's a good thing. It also gives us the chance to see Tom really being there for Julia, which lead into some really beautiful scenes. While Conservative viewers will have been bothered by Tom's sexual orientation, it nonetheless creates a very good dynamic for Julia and Tom to have a strong, completely platonic friendship.

Speaking of Tom, he encouraged his boyfriend Sam to accept an offer to star in "The Book of Mormon." This is a bit of growth for Tom, who has struggled with relationship insecurities and selfishness in the past, although it leads me to wonder if Sam is leaving the show. We got some good scenes with him and Tom, and him and Ivy, but it's unlikely he'll be appearing much after the show goes on tour. Which would be sad, as I've always enjoyed Sam.

And Ivy! Oh man, she bugged me so much in season 1, but she's done a 180, completely grown-up, learned humility, and actually become someone I respect and enjoy watching. I'll be curious to see where they are going with her storyline, and dearly hope they keep this character growth and don't let her fall back to the scheming, selfish  Ivy of last season. Added bonus this season is the speakers on my new computer, which allow me to really hear the music in it's full glory. This also means that for the first time I can really distinguish the quality between the voices of Ivy (Megan Hilty) and Karen (Katherine McPhee). Yikes. Karen sounds lovely, but Ivy is amazing. I now properly understand why people have been bashing McPhee's singing voice. Which could be unfortunate, since the show hinges on Karen doing a better Marilyn than Ivy...

Of course, we may not need a Marilyn. With Bombshell's assets frozen, we only got one new Marilyn number in the first two episodes. It's not a bad move on the writers' part however, as we do need that added tension. It also creates an interesting twist for Eileen, who has to decide what to do about her boyfriend's shady dealings, and perhaps even finally accept help from her ex-husband (who I am starting to find kind of endearing, in a comedic way).

But even if Bombshell goes forwards, will it have a director? Derek's life is taking a major dive after word of an alleged sex scandal hits the press. Obviously Derek had this coming, and I think it'll be really interesting to see them handle this issue, especially in light of the rising social awareness of the prevalence of the 'rape culture' America is currently suffering. Derek is a classic case of a man in a powerful position who really does not understand how his actions could be perceived as sexual harassment - a lesson he clearly needs to learn.

On the lighter end of things, new member of the cast, Jennifer Hudson, brings a fun new number and confident personality to steer Karen in the right direction to stardom. I hope we'll see her again soon!

As for the other new additions, I'm not sure what I think of them or the new musical. One of the appeals of the show for me has been the more vintage style music in the Marilyn numbers... part of me is concerned about the new musical taking on too much of a "pop rock" feel, which would get boring fast. But we'll see. The songwriters have been fabulous so far, with most of the forgettable songs being the covers, not the originals, which are quite above par.

What do you think? Will you be sticking around for Season 2? What do you hope to see happen?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Hello Florida...

Safe and sound by the ocean! However, while I actually have decent internet this time, Facebook is being spazzy. So if you're trying to follow me there, don't worry if I'm quiet for awhile.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A "Pride and Prejudice" Writer's Group

I facilitate a monthly writer's group which consists both of group exercises and solo writing time. Since this week was the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice," we decided to do a P&P themed writing exercise. We each took a scene from the book and rewrote it from another character's perspective. They turned out so well, that I asked the group if I could share them on this blog, and they all graciously agreed (thanks guys!). Anyhow, they're quite brilliantly written, and very funny, so I highly recommend taking a look at them if you're an Austen fan. Spoilers if you haven't read the book/watched the movie.


Mrs. Forester's Letter
 By Elizabeth Hausladen
- a reply to Lydia's letter, which she left after eloping with Wickham in Brighton.-

My dear, naughty Lydia,

Or, I suppose I should say, "Mrs. Wickham." What a fright you have given us! As you know, I have a most calm and mature disposition, as quite befits a married woman, but when I discovered you gone I quite fainted from the shock! And you know I am not in the habit of fainting above twice a month unless something truly horrid happens.

Not that your wedding is a horrid affair my dear - and I am sure I am nothing but overjoyed at your change in circumstances, but really, you did promise that I could help you plan your wedding trousseau!

And then on top of this most cruel disappointment, I had to brew simply pots and pots of tea to calm Colonel Forester down, as he was most agitated. And to make matters worse, Dennys came and told him all sorts of nasty stories and now the Colonel does not believe you are married at all! I told him that he was quite silly and of course my darling Lydia was married, but I don't think he believed me. Now he is quite insistent on going to Meryton to tell your father all about it. I am all apologies about that, but after Dennys' stories it really couldn't be helped.

I must tell you that Wickham left some of his debts in Brighton unpaid. Trifles, really, I'm sure, but they do seem rather upset about it all and I think it might be best if you and Wickham stayed in Scotland for the rest of the summer. Although I shall miss you most dreadfully. Colonel Irving's wife has been most solicitous of my well-being and concerned for you and I think she may attempt to fill the hole left by your departure, in which I shall certainly encourage her as I am most bereft.

I have packed all your things, as you asked, except the six lawn hankerchiefs you borrowed from me this summer because you were always dropping yours in front of officers, and I shall send the trunk on to Longbourn with my husband. I couldn't find your second best bonnet until everything was quite packed, but I shall take good care of it and never wear it out in the rain.

I am quite desolate without you, dearest Lydia, but wish you every happiness that is not to be shadowed with sadness over abandoning me.

Yours, always, with affection,

Harriet Forester.

By Meg Graham
-Elizabeth coming to visit Mr. and Mrs. Collins....aka, Elizabeth's reconciliation-

Charlotte pulled her husband along as they went to greet her best friend.

"Really my dear, there is no need to be excited!" Mister Collins huffed, clearly not pleased with his wife's rushing about.

"But I have not seen Lizzie in so long," Charlotte's face was beaming as the carriage made it's way down the dirt road towards the house. 

Soon, the party arrived at the gate and they were welcome warmly as they were greeted at the door. 

Charlotte, unable to hold in her excitment any longer, rushed over to embrace her best friend.

"Oh Lizzie," she exclaimed through a few sniffled. "I've missed you so!" Charlotte pulled away from the hug, but kept Elizabeth's arm wrapped around hers. "I am so pleased you have come."

"As am I, my dear Charlotte, as am I."

"Hello Miss Bennet," Mister Collins greeted in his always proper, always well-mannered, way. "Both my wife and I are elated to see you. Welcome to our humble home. Please, let me give you a tour. Come Charlotte, my dear."

Charlotte blushed with a shy smile as she led Elizabeth along behind her husband as he rambled on about the landscaping and the house fixtures outside.

"My cousin has not changed," Elizabeth mused, whispering in her friend's ear. "Even in his affections towards you, dear Charlotte, he is very much the same. But," she added smiling fondly at Charlotte. "I can see now that you are indeed happy here with him. And that, my dear Mrs. Collins, is enough to make myself happy for you."

"Thank you, Lizzie," Charlotte beamed, a small, relieved smile on her face. "You have no idea how much that means to me." she patted Elizabeth's hand before continuing. "Come," she said. "You and Maria must come and see the house........"


by Joel

-Lady Catherine de Bourgh tells the story of her confrontation with Elizabeth from chapter 57-

I did not begin until we were quite well on our walk, I dare say. None could accuse me of impropriety, but really, I found it hard to stand the insolence of Miss Bennet's disingenuous silence. There was no doubt that she knew her wrong, but she acted as though she had nothing to be ashamed of. It is a wonder I could hold myself back so long. As soon as we entered the copse, I confronted her with the impossibility of her union with my nephew. She swore to be ignorant of any such rumor. Faced with such a bald, cold-blooded lie, my darkest fears awoke. Perhaps she did not merely spread this rumor, but had actively enticed him!

When I questioned her on this point, she refused to tell me anything. Even when I pressed her, asserting the rights of my dear Anne, she contradicted me, denying the facts that were plain to everyone.

“Why may not I accept him?” she asked. (The impertinence!)

“Because,” I said, “because honour, decorum, prudence, nay, interest, forbid it.”

In spite of this eloquence, for I must say I spoke quite forcefully and well, she remained headstrong. I warned her that she would only bring unhappiness and misery on both of them. Indeed, now you can see what it has come to. This marriage! If only she had heeded my advice.


Mr. Collin's Proposal
By Katie Kacalek
-From the perspective of…Mr. Collins-

After breakfast, just after he had finished his second role, but not before Mr. Bennet had left the table, Mr. Collins took a sip of coffee—in order to appear casual—and as he set down his cup, began:

“May I hope, madam, for your interest with your fair daughter Elizabeth, when I solicit for the honour of a private audience with her in the course of this morning?” (After giving the matter some thought, he decided to install the adjective of “fair” to the mention of the young lady, guessing she might feel snubbed—as ladies were prone to be—at not being addressed directly).
He did not listen to Mrs. Bennet’s reply or her short exchange with her daughter, knowing of course that his suggestion would surely be accepted. Since it would have been rude to stare at the ladies and Mr. Bennet as they left the room, he turned his attention instead to a rather amateurish needlework on the wall and pretended to admire it.
Exactly one breath—time enough to clear the air—after the door had shut behind Mr. Bennet, Mrs. Bennet, Miss Bennet, and Miss Bennet, Mr. Collins turned to Miss Bennet and began his proposal.
He spoke moderately and earnestly, calling to mind as he did so the page on which he had written the speech two nights before. It was folded in his pocket, but he had no need of it; he prided himself on being an excellent orator. As he spoke his voice rose and fell in a perfect imitation of actual speech; the lady standing before him was doubtless fooled by his appearance of spontaneity.
It was a brilliant speech, carefully and artfully constructed to provide Miss Bennet with all the most prudent and applicable information as quickly and in the best order as possible.
Just as he was reaching the climax of his proposal—finances—the unthinkable happened.
She interrupted.
He was never interrupted.
He had been giving sermons every Sunday to peasants and children and even then he had never been interrupted.
“You are too hasty, sir,” she interrupted and followed through with a rejection.
However, although the timing was somewhat…less than ideal, Mr. Collins was prepared for such a turn of events. Young ladies often rejected their suitors, no matter how appropriate, beneficial, and exceedingly handsome they were. He countered her rejection and prepared his next move.
Again, she protested.
And again.
…And again.
Really, her conduct was bordering on absurdity now.
It was not until she turned and departed from the room right in the middle of his descriptions of their wedding china patterns that he was forced to consider that, perhaps, her rejection of him was based in earnest intent.