Monday, January 28, 2013

Happy Birthday, Elijah Wood!

Or should I say, Happy Birthday, Mr. Frodo Baggins? Anyway, today is Lij's 32nd birthday, approximately 3 years older than me since I just celebrated mine!

I remember the first time I ever saw him in a movie. It was Huck Finn and he was only about 13. I saw it a few years after the release, so I probably saw it when I was 13, and I just absolutely adored him. I think it was those big blue eyes, and his general, all-around snarkiness that won me over. While I'm years past the crush stage, I always smile whenever I see him. He took Frodo Baggins and made him into something memorable.

Seeing him at the beginning of The Hobbit warmed my heart and shot me back 11 years ago to when I saw Fellowship for the 1st time. It was the most amazing experience to relive those emotions.

Happy Birthday, Lij, we'll always love you!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Awesomeness of Liam Neeson!

Liam Neeson actually challenges Bourne for the coolest action flicks out there, starring a hero who's a conflicted killer. Of course, Liam is just awesome regardless, so any movie he makes is prone towards excellence, with the possible exception of The Phantom Menace.

This time, the family members of the men he killed in the first Taken, are out for vengeance. On a business trip to Istanbul, Bryan Mills invites his daughter Kim, and her mother Lenore to accompany him. Sort of a family bonding time. Everything's rosy until the bad guys show up, and suddenly Mills finds himself using a skill-set that he'd just as soon forget. Although that suitcase in the closet stuffed with weaponry sure does come in handy. The poor guy never goes looking for trouble, it just finds him.

It is movies like this that really make me despise people of a terrorist mindset. Don't you dare touch my family, but yours is free game, and in fact, as soon as I catch your daughter, I'm selling her to the worst scumbags out there who will ravish her repeatedly. All because you killed my son who had kidnapped your daughter way back in the first movie so he could sell her the first time. Such a nice, upstanding boy, yeah? You really raised him right, you should be proud. It's sickening. And what's worse? In some cases, it's true.

Lots of blood splatters and gunfights, and Neeson's no wimp when it comes to fisticuffs either. Very little in the way of foul language, which I appreciated, and also pretty nix on the sexual content. Just a scene with Kim and her boyfriend at the beginning that ended pretty quick because Daddy showed up at the front door to give her a driving lesson. Never mind that he found out the address of said boyfriend on the sly. He did track down Kim in a huge city in the first movie, so he can easily find her boyfriend's address.

Taken 2 is a fun way to pass the time, especially if you're an action adventure lover like me.

One tip to Lenore, though:

1) You aren't gagged.

2) You're being dragged away by men intent on cutting you into little pieces and mailing them to your family.

3) This means that they want to torture you slowly, and are NOT going to shoot you dead.

4) Your hubby/whatever is in the house, with a gun, and his whole intent is to save you.



Seriously, screenwriters should take a page out of real people's lives once in awhile. If I were being dragged off down a dark corridor, and I had a husband like Bryan Mills or Ethan Hunt or Jason Bourne, I'd be screaming to let him know where I was. It's just common sense, especially in this case where you know they don't want to ruin the pleasure of killing you slowly. Oi!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Book #2 for CCLRC: Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne (1926)

As impossible as it might be to believe, I never read Winnie-the-Pooh as a child. Sometimes I actually have a hard time remembering exactly what I did read  that didn't comprise of The Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew. However, that is neither here nor there.

There's no need for a summary since practically everyone, whether they've read the books or not, knows the story of Pooh Bear and his friends living in the Hundred-Acre-Wood, and having their adventures with the little boy known as Christopher Robin. What I hadn't expected was the charming prose that Milne employed to tell his story. He's one of those interactive authors, sort of like C. S. Lewis or J. R. R. Tolkien, who occasionally interjects himself into the conversation. As Milne is writing, or telling, this particular story, he has Christopher Robin sitting next to him, listening to the tales, asking questions, and hugging his stuffed bear, Winnie-the-Pooh.

Despite the stories being a little silly, or a lot silly, they are absolutely enchanting. I almost wish I had read them as a child because then I would appreciate them more than I can ever do as an adult. The tales are a way to awaken a child's imagination. Christopher Robin is one of those imaginative children that used to be the norm. He played with his stuffed animals in probably a little forest outside his home, and imagined they were real. I can't think of a single child of my acquaintance that would have the wherewithal to make up such a complex world of characters and so I must give kudos to both A. A. Milne for his ingenuity, and to little Christopher Robin Milne for giving him the idea in the first place.

Now, one might be surprised to learn that the characters in Milne's stories are rather different from the Disney characters we know and love. Eeyore is pretty much the same, but Piglet surprised me by quite a selfish little creature. Pooh hasn't changed one iota; he is still a bear of very little brain, but Rabbit has myriads of friends and relations who follow him and, therefore, everyone else, on their adventures.

This book covers a birthday for Eeyore, a flood in the Hundred-Acre-Wood where Pooh and Christopher Robin save Piglet, an adventure to find the North Pole, an adventure to find a Heffalump, and the time that Eeyore lost his tale, along with several other short stories. Each chapter is a different tale, although Christopher Robin does plan a party to celebrate Pooh after he came up with the idea on how to save Piglet.

So, while I never read these as a child, I want my children, when I have them, to read about Winnie-the-Pooh and learn by Christopher Robin's example. Children should have wild and vivid imaginations!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Happy Birthday, Orlando Bloom!

Orlando is better known as Legolas of Mirkwood, Thranduil's son from The Hobbit. He is the blonde-haired elf from The Lord of the Rings with an insane fandom of teen girls that threw me off him completely. It is only now, over 10 years later, that I'm starting to appreciate Legolas.

So, Happy Birthday, dear Orlando. I'm excited at the prospect of seeing you appear in The Hobbit for old times sake, just as Elijah Wood's smiling countenance in the 1st installment made me grin in return.

My one condition is that you must do something amazingly impossible, like taking down an entire Oliphant single-handedly or skateboarding on an Orc shield down a long flight of stairs, all while firing your mighty arrows at the enemy.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Library Loot - 2nd Week of January

Yes, I'm on a young adult fiction kick, and really loving it. Not that I have all that much time to read, what with school, but I snatch a few chapters here and there. I really should read that Death in the Air book from last week. I started it, but got distracted by the Classic Children's Lit Challenge that I'm doing. My bad!

New Loot:
  • Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madelaine L'Engle
  • Guardians of Ga'Hoole: The Capture by Kathryn Lasky
  • Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
  • The Borrowers by Mary Norton

Old Loot:
  • Boy Sherlock Holmes: Death in the Air by Shane Peacock
  • The Curse of the Toads by Rebecca Lisle
  • Enchanted Inc. by Shanna Swendson

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Women in Tolkien's World

Eowyn, Shieldmaiden of Rohan

The age old complaint has reared its head again.

"Why didn't Tolkien write women in his stories?"

"Why aren't there any women in 'The Hobbit'?"

Or rather:

"Why does Tolkien's world lack women characters?"

Here's my answer.

It doesn't.

Tolkien wrote Arwen, the elven princess who Aragorn loved so much his heart nearly broke over her, and who gave up her immortality to be with the man she loved. This meant living several thousand years after Aragorn died; using up every one of her years lived as an immortal.

Tolkien created Galadriel, the elven queen, whose beauty was so unimaginable that Gimli the dwarf begged of her a lock of golden hair. She gave Frodo the Light of Earendil to protect and guide him. She is the most powerful and beloved member of the White Council.

And finally, the beloved Eowyn, princess of Rohan, shieldmaiden who knows how to wield a sword in defense of those she loves. Eowyn, who disguised herself as a man so she could follow her uncle, Theoden King, into combat when they defended Minis Tirith in Gondor against the armies of Mordor.

How can you say there are no women in Tolkien's world?

If anything, Peter Jackson enhanced all of the female roles in Tolkien's world. Galadriel is in The Hobbit, a place she has never before been, and will undoubtedly fight against the Necromancer before the end of the series. Arwen, who had only a brief mention in Tolkien's books, rides to the rescue and carries Frodo on her horse Asfaloth to safety when Frodo cannot protect himself. And Eowyn, she is more magnificent than I ever imagined possible, so cool and beautiful and fierce.

Do not tell me that there are no women in Tolkien's world. If anything, they outshine the men because they are not haphazardly tossed into the story, but each one has a glorious purpose of light.

Written in response to the following article:

Why Does Tolkien's World lack Women Characters

Monday, January 7, 2013

Book #1 for CCLRC - Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild (1936)

Ballet Shoes is the story of three orphans all adopted by the same man when they were babies. Pauline was brought home to Gum's (Great Uncle Matthew) ward, Sylvia, to keep her company. He'd found her during one of his excursions for fossils, in a shipwreck without parents and no identification. The adoption was finalized and Pauline became the very first living Fossil. Two years later, Petrova (a Russian orphan) followed, and then two years after that, little Posy, whose mother was a dancer and had to give her up because she just couldn't afford to keep her.

This charming story starts with the decline of the household finances. Gum leaves Sylvia enough money for 5 years as he goes off on another adventure, but he doesn't come back when they expect him, and they don't hear from him. Finally, Sylvia resorts to taking in boards, like Mr. and Mrs. Simpson and their magnificent motorcar that Petrova just adores, then Miss Theo Dane, an instructor at the Children's Academy of Dancing and Stage Training, and lastly the two female professors, Doctor Jakes and Doctor Smith.

Fortunately, the two lady professors take such a shine to the children that they offer to teach them, and Miss Theo gets all three of the girls acceptance into the Children's Academy of Dancing and Stage Training, and even Petrova gets to spend time with her new favorite person, Mr. Simpson and his motorcar. Posy takes to dancing like nobody ever expected, undoubtedly an inherited gift from her mother's genetics. Pauline turns out to be quite the actress, and learns that even if one is excellent as an actress, one can still learn techniques and tips from observing others. And Petrova, well, poor Petrova would rather not be in theater at all, but because sweet Sylvia, or Garnie as the children call her, needs a bit of extra financing, she perseveres with her theatrical studies.

The children cannot be in official productions until they turn twelve. Then, however, they are paid for their work. Pauline's first performance was for Alice in Alice in Wonderland and she was paid a delicious 4 pounds a week. These performances ran for months at a time, or as long as the public wanted to see them.

Honestly, my fascination with Ballet Shoes stems from being a small part of that world for 6 years when I was a child. I almost wish that I'd dedicated myself to it more. My poor instructor. Looking back, I gave her a rough time by my lack of enthusiasm as I started to grow older. I got chubby, and that was embarrassing enough without squeezing me into leotards and tights.

Ballet Shoes is an intriguing look into a world that very few people understand. Characters aside, just the inner workings of the ballet interested me. That said, the girls have their likeable and their unlikeable moments. There were times when I couldn't stand Pauline or when Posy mouthed off with an arrogance unbefitting such a very little girl. Truly, though, if you love something and are good at it, why shouldn't you pursue it with every fiber of your being? This is what all the Fossils do in the end, and that is why I love the story.

A note on reading ages: I tried when I was a child to read this book, but could never get past the first chapter. Now that I'm an adult, I gulped it down. Sometimes it does take a grown-up to appreciate fine children's literature.


2007 version - This is the one starring Emma Watson from Harry Potter. I've yet to see it, probably because I didn't care for the reviews, or for some character alterations (cough, the professors, cough).

1975 version - I grew up on this version, and still love it today. It's even on DVD. This might be what encouraged my interest in ballet, actually, apart from seeing The Nutcracker live when I was 4.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Spring in January

I tend to get bored with my decor, so last year I made an effort o try something new. I went with pinks and blues and greens. It's amazing how just that little change can lift a person's spirit. I love my retro decor, but I think that will wait until it can go in a guest room. I just can't use it in my bedroom anymore. It's too loud, or something.

This was changed out just after the new year. I love Christmas, but all of those nutcrackers in my room can get a bit depressing. I'm glad I made the alteration before the start of my next semester. This color scheme is very cheerful and makes me happy.

The top of my dresser. I LOVE those lit flowers!

Caitlin painted this of me after we visited
Pagosa Springs in 2011. The frame is perfect
for it. The little beaded flower is something
I made last year, and the ATC (artist trading card)
stuck in the top of the frame is something
I made for a New Year's Eve craft party.

I painted the teddy bear years ago at a
friend's birthday party, and there's another
one of the beaded flowers I made.

This is an ATC that Caitlin made
during one of her brain-storming sessions
with her crafting friend.

Another ATC card that I made for the
New Year's Eve party. The vase is something
Dad etched a few years ago. I added pink tulle
and beaded that lovely ball for effect. The tulle
makes it work.

The shelf was a gift from last year. I wanted a
corner unit and Dad found the perfect one. The
ladies I've had since as long as I can remember.
They're so stylish!

The top of my lovely cherry wood desk.
I love glitter, hence the glittery floral
arrangement. There's even a paper crane
nestled in the center.

Another ATC that Caitlin had made and
generously gave me.
Can you tell that I love butterflies?

My Christmas gift, homemade by a very dear friend.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Classic Children's Literature Challenge - Jan 2013

Host: Simpler Pastimes
Event/Challenge: Classic Children's Literature Challenge
Specifics: Must be written before 1962.
When: January 2013
# of books: Undecided at this point. We'll see what college has planned with assigned reading.

I totally doubt that I'll get all of these read, but it gives me a goal.

1) The Princess & the Goblin by George MacDonald
2) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
3) A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
4) The Borrowers by Mary Norton
5) Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers  
6) Stuart Little by  E. B. White
7) Charlotte's Web by E. B. White
8) The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White
9) The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
10) Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

Library Loot - 1st Week of January

Weird, they're all teen books. The Boy Sherlock series is pretty cool, I must admit. It almost makes sense that Sherlock might have some Jewish heritage and be ostracized because of it.

New Loot:

Boy Sherlock Holmes: Death in the Air by Shane Peacock

The Curse of the Toads by Rebecca Lisle

Enchanted Inc. by Shanna Swendson

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.