Sunday, December 20, 2015

What do you do with grief during the holiday season?

When you're a believer and someone you love dies who isn't a believer, what do you do? The platitudes of comfort that one believer offers to another are almost meaningless because there is no hope of eternal life for the person you've lost. True, I don't know what miracles the Lord Jesus works at the very end of someone's life. Maybe there is an Andrew like in Touched by an Angel who spends 5 minutes with everyone on earth right before they die, sharing the good news. It's possible.

My father's oldest living sister, Janet, died a few months ago. A more generous, accomplished and compassionate woman you couldn't hope to meet, but she never claimed an interest in faith or God. My aunt is gone. And I have no hope of ever seeing her again. This is literally the first loss I've ever experienced where the other person wasn't a Christian. What do you do? How do you handle the shock? Or how about the guilt that you should have done more? Should have said more. Should have shared more without fear bogging you down. It's crazy, I know. People make their own choices in this life and it's not like she never heard the good news, because I know she did, many times throughout her life, from my father, from their mother, and from who knows how many other friends and acquaintances.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Dichotomy of Thanksgiving and Black Friday

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I pray special blessings on each and every one of you at the start of the holiday season. Isn't it amazing how we have so many holidays crammed up so close together? I know Halloween already happened, but for some reason, I never really include it in the truly festive holidays that I love so much. Oh, I love Halloween, but Thanksgiving and Christmas both have so much more of a spiritual and faith-enriched theme to them than merely getting a sugar rush from all that Halloween candy.

And because Thanksgiving is such a faith-based holiday, especially if you look at its rich history and the thankful hearts of the pilgrims, I'm always confused and confounded by Black Friday. You spend all of Thanksgiving helping prepare the meal, sitting down with family, saying a (hopefully) heartfelt prayer of thanks to the Lord for His goodness before tucking into the meal. Maybe you even watch a movie as a family or the football game, but Thanksgiving is pretty much family and gratitude oriented.

Follow that with Black Friday, where crowds mull impatiently at store doors at 4am, pushing, shoving, grabbing, cursing, and a vast over-spending of money that Americans don't actually have. Wait what? How do these two dissimilar events occur in the span of two days? I just don't get it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Woohoo, Snow Day off from Work!!

I think Compassion has changed its snow day policy because, for the first time since my mom has worked there (which is nearly 5 years), they called a snow day! Woot, woot! Get a load of that gorgeous snow! And thank goodness for the new snowblower my parents bought last year on sale! That cut the shoveling time by at least half, if not more!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Christmas Fiction Extravaganza!

Christmas Fiction Extravaganza!

I'm hosting this over on my other blog, Bookshelves & Daydreams!
I'll start publishing Christmas book reviews the day after Thanksgiving! You can join in the fun and blog your own book reviews, or you can simply read my thoughts on the many Christmas books that I'm already reading and planning to read. Either way works for me.
But if you could share my button on your blogs in a post and then in your sidebars, that would be absolutely terrific! I'll hop around to different blogs on the weekend and officially invite folks, this is just to get the ball rolling as it were.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Experiencing an Authentic Scandinavian Meal

Even though my family hails from Swedish/Finnish roots, the Sons of Norway opens its doors to anyone with Scandinavian heritage, little caring if you're actually Norwegian or not.

Two years ago my family, meaning myself, Caitlin, Mom, and Dad, attended the Lutefisk dinner that they host yearly in November. My grandfather (Mom's dad) always cooked lutefisk for Christmas, but he passed away before Caitlin and I ever met him so we'd never experienced anything like an authentic Scandinavian meal apart from a few Swedish meatballs. It was a lively and glorious experience, all except for the lutefisk itself.

What is lutefisk exactly?

Lutefisk is dried whitefish (normally cod, but ling is also used) treated with lye. It is then either baked (how my grandfather apparently prepared it) or boiled (how the cooks at Sons of Norway prepare it).

Let me just say that lutefisk with lye is pretty gross. It is gelatinous, wobbling on its platter as its brought to the table, and just all around nasty.  Then again I'm what . . . 4th generation Swedish American? I didn't grow up eating it so naturally it seems weird.

Your next question is probably, why would you ever want to go back?

I love tradition. I love being around people of a similar heritage and customs to my own, who know what I'm talking about when I mention a Dala Horse or a Tomte and can appreciate the deliciousness of adding cardamom to bread.

So while my father is salmon fishing in Oregon (because the last lutefisk dinner was waaaaaaaay more than enough for him), we (Mom, Caitlin, and I) reserved space at this year's Lutefisk Dinner for this afternoon.

It was heavenly!

Friday, November 13, 2015

For France

Nothing I say can make the fear and the pain go away. But you are not alone. The world grieves with you and empathizes with you. America has stood where you are standing, watching our Twin Towers crumble at the hands of terrorists. Know that my prayers and the prayers of millions of people around the world go out to you right now. Evil will not triumph. It never has in the past which is why it keeps trying to win. May this tragedy be overcome, may the evildoers be vanquished, and may peace and comfort reign in your hearts and in your nation once more.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

First Snowfall of the Season

I'm not talking the first snow of the year, but the first snow of the season, after you've gone through the heat of summer and then watched the leaves falling, and then finally, even before you expect it (like this crisp morning in Colorado) you wake up to little crystals coating every surface of your yard and house.

My very first thought immediately flies to Christmas. So many good memories are tied up in Christmas for me, traditions, family and friends, books and movies, Christmas concerts, gifts under the tree, an elderly cat happily drugged out on catnip with her paws wrapped around her Christmas stocking. The very first snow of the season reminds me that winter is almost here, and with it, Christmas. Even though the sun bursts through the clouds by 10 am, melting all of the snow by noon, it was still there, and it still turned my thoughts to December.

Snow also reminds me of other things. Like when I lived on the coast of Oregon as a child and only experienced snow twice. Caitlin and I made the tiniest snowman ever on both of those occasions and then watched him shrink each day until he looked rather like an emaciated albino penguin. Or how about the move to Colorado when I was 14-years-old, to a house in definite snow country, and that winter falling in love, absolute love, with snow and sleds and full-sized snowmen.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Living Life in the Slow Lane

"Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." - Psalm 90:12

You'll notice some changes to this blog. I've been praying for months for God to give me a specific theme, a purpose for this goal that goes beyond film and books. I love both of those things, and I'll still share about them sometimes, but I also feel the Lord wants me to share my observations about life from my perspective. The perspective of a homeschooled young woman in her thirties who has deliberately chosen to live a slow life and not get caught in the race to achieve. I hope you'll stick with me during this transition over to something that will bring me fulfillment and I hope will encourage others to slow down, take a deep breath, and just look at the glories of God that surround us every single day. I'm going to start sharing my heart on this blog because that's what God is asking of me.

I like my life. It's good that I can actually say that with conviction and sincerity. It doesn't mean I never have periods of melancholy because I haven't reached certain heights of expectation that I've set for myself. But those are always the moments when God is able to reach me with some new truth about myself.

Do you ever fool yourself into thinking you want something, but you actually want something entirely different?

Take the concept of employment. Women have been "liberated," whatever that is even supposed to mean, and so we're able to hold down jobs and be "independent," again another word I'm not entirely sure has a viable meaning. I'm not discounting women who work. I work full time and enjoy it. I love my coworkers and I love knowing that I'm making a difference because my fingers process money and set up accounts for the Lord. That money goes to release children from poverty in Jesus' name because I work at Compassion International. That's an incredible mission and one I stand behind wholeheartedly.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

What would you have me write?

I've done two things tonight: redesigned my blog template and moved almost all of my MBTI posts to draft.

Regarding the first, it was waaaaaaay past time for a change. I don't like keeping the same blog design forever, but for some reason I felt obligated to keep the last one because I spent money on it. This one only cost me my time, and I love it so I guess you could say the change was definitely worthwhile. I can also promise a Christmas layout as soon as December hits and then a winter theme once January rolls around!

Now, about the second change. I almost never study up on Myers-Briggs stuff anymore. I'm by no means an expert on the subject and I don't want to give people that impression any longer. Plus, I really tire of those being the only popular posts on my blog 90% of the time. So they're gone. Not deleted. I might someday feel differently and decide to republish them, but for now, I want them off my blog so I don't feel like I'm representing myself as something that I'm not.

In other news, I've actually read a collection of short stories by James Thurber over on my other blog Bookshelves & Daydreams. For those of you who are unaware, Thurber wrote The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and since I just watched both movies for that fun blogathon a few weeks ago, I felt I should at least read the short story. Which I now realize is a short story. Try going into a collection of short stories thinking they're a novella. It's preeeeetttty confusing!

Really, you could say there's been some good things and some sad things in my life this past month. My Aunt Janet who I loved very much passed away a few weeks ago. Which is why I wasn't really blogging much this month. And why I didn't participate in the Hamlet read-along over at The Edge of the Precipice. Sorry, Rachel, I totally meant to read with you, but with my aunt's death I lost a lot of motivation to do anything. This set of short stories by Thurber is the first thing I've finished reading in nearly a month and even they took me a good week to finish. It's a good thing I wrote those entries on Walter Mitty and Little Miss Marker a week beforehand or they would have never gotten finished.

On a positive note, my department at Compassion International hired on 25 or so new employees, some temps, some permanent. It was an addition way past due, and I'm very, very happy to have them. Of course, I'm a tad worn out with all the socializing with new people, but so far they're all very nice and upbeat.

What I really mean to say is that life will continue on. I'll start blogging again, although I really would love it if you would give me some post ideas. What do you like hearing about from me? At the moment, giving me ideas is one of the most helpful things you can do. But it is nice to be back with everyone, and with a new blog template to boot!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

How many times can you remake Little Miss Marker?!

Please make sure to check out the They Remade What?! Blogathon.

It's a bit of a shock when you agree to something and then find out after the fact that your library only has 1 in 4 films. Not such a good thing. So I tracked down films 1, 2, and 3 on Amazon for a decent prize, made even more decent with rewards bucks through my credit card. One might call me obsessive and say I could have backed out of this topic, but I really didn't want to, and honestly, I was quite curious about Tony Curtis' film and Shirley Temple's. I only saw Shirley's movie once a long time back, and didn't care for it, so my memories were really sketchy, and my experience with Tony Curtis had been limited to his role in Walter Matthau's Little Miss Marker. How crazy is that, that the dude would get a role in the same movie twice!?

Anyway, I tracked all 4 films down, and did get them all watched, much to my relief and no small amount of pride.

For those of you unfamiliar with the story, let's start there.

Sorrowful Jones is a bookie, meaning he takes illegal bets on racehorses. On top of that, Sorrowful is a tightwad if ever there was one. Matthau's film even has the Tony Curtis character telling him that he knows Sorrowful still has the first dime he ever made, which might actually be true. One day, a desperate man walks into his establishment, wanting to place a bet with a marker, meaning a little slip of paper meaning he's good for the money. Sorowful doesn't take markers, but for whatever reason, in some he has a soft heart, in others he has an ulterior motive involving the winning horse, Sorrowful agrees to take the guy's marker. In this case, the marker is his little girl, whose name ranges all over the place. Sorrowful now has the little girl, daddy doesn't come back with the money, and Sorrowful is stuck with her. Softening of heart, protective fatherly instincts, and all of that, kick in, along with all sorts of emotional connection to the female lead, whose name also ranges all over the place.

The only really major variance in plot is the Tony Curtis film, 40 Pounds of Trouble, from 1962. This one is about a casino manager in Las Vegas named Steve McCluskey who's slightly on the lam from California so he can avoid paying alimony to his ex-wife. A guy in the casino loses a bundle, heads back to California to get it, never comes back, and good, old Steve realizes that the guy's daughter has been left behind.

Such are the plot main points.

Now, to examine the films under individual topics: Sorrowful Jones, The Kid/Doll/Marky/whatever, thoughts on the plot, and then my final thoughts.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Danny Kaye or Ben Stiller? - A Duel of Walter Mitty!

Danny Kaye has been a favorite actor of mine since the first time I saw White Christmas when I was somewhere around 5-years-old. I love this man for his absolute skill at being slapstick silly and being so absurdly adorable while doing it.

So I leaped at the opportunity to write a comparison post for Danny's version of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty from 1947 and the Ben Stiller version of 2013 for the "They Remade What?!" Blogathon.

Being objective, however, is going to be a struggle since I've not even seen the remake yet, and love the original. Ben Stiller and I are not buddies. I've seen, oh, maybe 4 of his movies throughout my life and been unimpressed by all of them, mainly because he's in them. But I don't want to be unfair to him and so I am giving him a sporting chance to impress me with his remake of a well-loved classic film. So I'm going to write about the original film first, which I just watched, and then give the remake a shot in the 2nd half of this post (watching it for the very first time!).

Instead, let's begin with The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, the 1947 version. Danny Kaye's Mitty works for Pierce Publishing in New York City as a proof reader and spends the better part of his days imaging himself in various scenarios. He's the captain of a ship carrying Indian spices who's in danger of going down in a whopper of a storm. He's a riverboat gambler in the Deep South, or a World War II flying ace for England, or a western gunslinger set out to save his lady love, or even a world-renowned surgeon. You name it, he's imagined it, and always with the same beautiful blonde by his side.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Magical Realism in Femnista (Sept/Oct 2015)

I can hardly believe it's time for Femnista again. This particular issue is a delightful rendering of all things dealing with Magical Realism. What is magical realism? You'll just have to read this issue and find out!

My favorite article is by far the one by Elora Shore entitled Cowardly and Courageous, a moving tribute to Dustfinger, one of my favorite literary characters created by Cornelia Funke. Hats off to Elora for such an excellent article.

Article topics are: A Snicker of Magic, Teen Wolf, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, The Fisher King, Mithermage, Severus Snape, Winter’s Tale, Dustfinger, The Vampire Diarie

May you enjoy reading it and please share it with your friends! Self-publication only works if people support your efforts!

Read online or download.

A FREE product of Charity’s Place. Want to contribute? Click here for more info.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tolkien Party - Imladris (A Fanfiction) by Me

I'm including this for the Tolkien Blog Party of Special Magnificence (hosted by Hamlette)

Fourteen years ago, I was so avidly in love with all things Tolkien that I delved into fanfiction. This week, I've done something I almost swore to myself I would never do. I looked back at some of my writings, grimaced at the emotionalism of it all, and decided to give this story, one of which I'm particularly fond, a rewrite. I nearly posted it here without editing it, but couldn't, in all good conscience, do it. The core of what you see is the story I imagined all those years ago, but any skill you might find in these lines is a result of many years of practice and deliberate schooling. Thank goodness I didn't just throw Imladris up here without taking the time to hone it, if you will. May you enjoy this story as much as I enjoyed writing it all those years ago, and as much as I enjoyed editing it yesterday and today.

Synopsis: While Frodo lies wounded in Elrond's house, the hobbits deal with the pain of nearly losing their cousin and friend along with the guilt that they could not protect him.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Tolkien Blog Party of Special Magnificence 2015 (hosted by Hamlette)

It is again time for Hamlette's A Tolkien Blog Party of Special Magnificence! And I'm so proud of myself for actually participating this year because I reallllllly love Tolkien and have reallllllly wanted to participate in this blog party before, but never made the time!

Please come and join in the fun if you like, post answers to Hamlette's questionnaire on your own blog, leave a comment on her post letting her know you've done so, participate and revel in all things Tolkien!

Now, on to this lovely questionnaire Hamlette developed!

1. What draws you to Tolkien's stories?  (The characters, the quests, the themes, the worlds, etc.)

A. So, I love fantasy. Hopefully everyone knows that by now. I can pretty much attribute that love first and foremost to Narnia, and because of Narnia, I tried Tolkien's world. Never looked back. You know how they say some stories are epic? An epic love story, an epic adventure, an epic this or that? Tolkien's stories are all of those things and more. The world feels real, the characters feel real, and these are life and death struggles of good against evil, at the very basic level of our being. These stories are alive, and that's why I love them.

2. What was the first Middle Earth book you read and/or movie you saw?  What did you think of it?

A. I saw The Hobbit animated film when I was around 10 or so and then read The Hobbit for the first time when I was 14-years-old and we'd just moved to a new state and I needed some familiarity. Really loved the animated film as a kid until I realized that Gandalf's name was horribly mispronounced. The book? It's still one of my favorite books of all time. A kid's adventure story like The Princess and the Goblin, nothing more or less, and that's what I love about it. Tolkien's world hadn't been fully developed yet and so I love the simplicity of The Hobbit.

3. Name three of your favorite characters and tell us why you like them.

In a world as dark as the one Tolkien penned, the characters need a father figure to guide them. Gandalf is that figure. It doesn't mean he's always right in his judgement calls. Let's be honest, he makes some mistakes. But I always felt that Gandalf was always dependable. I especially love him in The Two Towers film when he says "Look to my coming, at first light, on the fifth day. At dawn, look to the East." And when that fifth day comes, at dawn, guess who's there, riding to save the day?

Gandalf, who is so powerful and mighty, is a lover of small things and small people. He doesn't discount someone simply because they could not be counted among the very wise or the very great. He's a lover of hobbits, a people that don't always love him back, but who he goes out of his way to befriend and defend with his life. What's not to love about a character like Gandalf?

I gave serious consideration to my options for this second choice. I've never actually chosen Aragorn as a favorite character, not when it comes to one of these types of tags or memes. But I do love him know, far more than I ever did when I was young and watching The Lord of the Rings movies for the first time.

When you love Aragorn, you're loving three versions of him. You love Strider, the mysterious Ranger who you're not entirely sure can be trusted. You love Aragorn from the films, the reluctant king. And you love Aragorn the noble-hearted, self-assured king in Tolkien's stories. Three different versions of the same man, and it has taken me 14 years to reach the point of loving all three versions.

Strider, I think, will always be my favorite version simply because he is so enigmatic. I'm rarely drawn to kings, so it makes sense I would love the kingless version of Aragorn the best, but I must deeply respect the Aragorn of Tolkien's original work and empathize with the tortured soul version of Aragorn that Peter Jackson invented. All three have merit.

This should surprise no one and if it does, well, that just means I haven't talked about him enough.

Bilbo was the very first character of Tolkien's that I ever encountered, both in film and in book form and he is steadfastly adhered to my heart. Bilbo is now, and always will be, one of my top 5 favorite characters.

He's the one who you would never, ever suspect of wanting to go on an adventure. He's peaceful and calm at home, and yet, he steps outside himself and into one of the greatest literary stories of all time. He took the literal step of faith and it transformed him. He is like my own personal hero. I'm content and complacent in my life, but if Bilbo can take such an enormous step of faith, then why can't I?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Sizzle in Key Largo

Part of the Lauren Bacall Blogathan hosted by In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood

My first movie with Humphrey Bogart was The African Queen and I distinctly remember disliking him. Of course, I was only about 13 at the time, and he seemed like a rough and tumble bully. Fortunately for me, I decided to rewatch The African Queen several years later and liked it so much better the 2nd time around. If I hadn't tried it again, there's a good chance I would never have given Bogart another look, which means I would have never watched Key Largo, and never met Lauren Bacall.

Ahh, Key Largo. The name alone is synonymous with all the best that film noir had to offer its audience. Intense plot, dramatic lighting and shadows, and stunning characters of every description, from the hero Frank McCloud (Bogart) to the villain of Johnny Rocco (Edward G. Robinson). And of course, Nora Temple, played by the estimable Lauren Bacall. A war widow, her character watches over her father-in-law, James Temple, handicapped and the owner of the Largo Hotel in the Florida Keys. When Frank McCloud pays them a mercy visit to tell them stories about the bravery and heroics of Nora's deceased husband, he never imagined for one single moment that he would be walking into one of the most hellish nights of his life, and that's saying a lot considering he's a soldier.

I'm confessing right now that my knowledge of Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart as people is nill. I go out of my way to avoid knowing about the personal lives of actors that I like, mostly because I don't want to let any negative behaviors on their part influence my opinion of them. I've never looked at Errol Flynn the same way since I discovered what a louse and a cad he was in Hollywood, and so I don't want the same thing to happen with Bacall and Bogart. So I can only say what I observe, and that is how much I love in Key Largo.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Clever Girl: Lauren Bacall in How to Marry a Millionaire

Written for the Lauren Bacall Blogathan hosted by In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood

My experience with Lauren Bacall films only began once I developed an interest in Humphrey Bogart. Once I made Bogie's acquaintance, and watched Key Largo (which I'll post about tomorrow), I loved Bacall at least as much as Bogart.

One thing I realized in watching this movie is that she was lucky in her films with Bogart. She was never overlooked or overshadowed, certainly never second fiddle, not even to him. But here, in How to Marry a Millionaire, she is almost an afterthought for the modern viewer. Why? Because Marilyn Monroe is the "it girl" and if a movie has her in the cast, then of course, the movie is about her.


Everything that happens in How to Marry a Millionaire is because of the cleverness of Bacall's character, Schatze Page. Schatze is the leading role, she is the heroine, and she is the one came up with the idea for this crazy scheme in the first place!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Fall Themed Evening Tea with Maple and Pecan Scones

There are just some days when you need to have an Afternoon Tea. We just turned ours into dinner, which we've done before, and this was just a time when we needed it. Enjoy! I'm sorry you couldn't join us.

These are lovely sausage rolls (or bangers) from Willy's Emporium in Old Colorado City. They're the most delightful people ever, such a sweet couple, and the shop is named after their little dog, Willy. And yes, they're British.

These are pecan and maple scones, our own recipe altered from a couple of different recipes. They were absolutely yummy!

Another look-see at our delicious pecan scones. Ooh, and we topped them with turbinado sugar, which added just a lovely bit of shine to the top. And we toasted the pecans. Yum!

One of our favorite teapots, plus it's large enough for three of us. And yes, we always use a drip catcher on the spout of our teapots. It helps so much in containing any messes.

King Soopers made the tart shells, and we bought the lemon filling from Bernideen's, also down in Old Colorado City, which is sadly no more. The owners retired and are very much missed!

Here we have raspberry jam and homemade clotted cream, flavored with just a tinge of caramel. It was a perfect pairing with the scone.

Delicious sausage, flaky pastry, and HP sauce, an authentic sauce from England that really pairs nicely with this particular sausage. So good.

One of my favorite teacups, hand-painted from Japan, part of 6 teacup set that I absolutely adore and spent waaaaaay too much money on. The tea we chose for the evening was Celestial Seasoning's Roastaroma, a delicious caffeine free herbal tea with a rich, full-body flavor, almost like a black tea. And you can use cream!

Getting ready to dive in!

And now almost done. And the scone was as delicious as we were hoping. Wish you could have joined us!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Remembering Tolkien

J. R. R. Tolkien
January 3rd, 1892 - September 2nd, 1973

My relationship with Tolkien began with a hobbit, one Bilbo Baggins by name. I was fourteen, browsing the shelves of my local library, and plucked an Alan Lee illustrated copy of The Hobbit from its space. My life is forever changed. Such a wide range of possibilities opened up, an entire new world of wonders. This lead to a glorious span of 4 years as The Lord of the Rings films were released where I eat, slept, and breathed everything Tolkien. Those years are long gone now, but my affection for this man and his stories will never fade.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

So endeth NBC's Hannibal . . . and not a moment too soon!!!!!!

How is it possible for me to start out really liking a show, its psychological facets, its cleverness, its intellectual dialogue, only to reach the very last episode, the final moment of the entire series, willing it to JUST END ALREADY. That is the culmination of my relationship with NBC's Hannibal.

And why, might you ask?

Because all of the characters, bar none, became Hannibal in the end. Did you catch what I just said? THEY BECAME HANNIBAL. We're talking Will Graham, the supposed hero of Red Dragon. We're talking Jack Crawford and Alana Bloom, who were once the good guys. Every single one of them became dead inside. Hannibal literally killed them, not physically, but morally, mentally, and spiritually, they are dead. I mean, in this last episode, they let COPS DIE so their little plan to catch the freakin' Red Dragon would come to fruition! EFFIN' HEROES DON'T DO THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

artwork by Loakenshield (Girl of Gisborne)
The only one who wasn't a dead man walking was Francis Dollarhyde, the Red Dragon, played, if I may say, brilliantly by Richard Armitage. Or maybe I was just so starved for SOMEBODY to show some EMOTION that anyone would have worked in that role. No, I'm not going with that angle because I know Armitage can act. I've been watching him act for years, have loved him for years, and so he alone impressed me in this 3rd and THANK GOD final season.

Okay, so now you know one reason for my sudden and very effective loathing for this once great series.

Now on to the 2nd reason. I thought, back at the beginning, that all of the little Hannigraham fans were sick and twisted and that it would lead to a big fat nowhere. Not so. Okay, so there were no sexual scenes of a homosexual nature between Will and Hannibal (not counting, of course, the ones between Alana and Margot Verger). But you know what? There didn't have to be! The insinuation was enough all on its own, especially in this last season, especially in this last episode.


Not that I want to be nice and warn you of spoilers, but I will because, after all, it is the accepted thing to do. 

Spare Parts (2015)

This is probably one of those movies you've never heard of, or if you did, it was only in passing. I saw the movie trailer for it once, and was just dying to see it when it hit the theaters, but never made the time. Yes, I do feel guilty about that, but I put it on hold at the library as soon as I learned it was coming out on DVD.

The story is simple. We have Carl Hayden High School in a poor community in Phoenix, AZ. Within this high school are a lot of teens who are not legal US citizens, if you get my drift. Their parents are illegal immigrants to this country, and by default, so are they, even though they've lived the majority of their lives on US soil. Spare Parts covers the true story of 4 teenage boys from this high school, all without legal documentation, who enter and win a major robotics competition, going up against prestigious tech schools like M.I.T.

It's a pretty simple story. Four illegals enter a robotics competition and win it.

When I first heard of this film, I wasn't aware that these kids were undocumented. It wasn't until I started watching Spare Parts that the light bulb flickered. And it really got me to thinking. Now, I consider myself conservative, both moral and fiscal. Whatever that even means anymore. This does not mean that I am 100% against raising taxes all of the time. Nor, as I discovered watching this movie, does it mean that I want to ship illegal immigrants back to Mexico.

The boys in this story are real. They were real young men, with real hopes and real dreams and real fears. They were brought here as children. They had no say in the matter. Oscar Vasquez wanted to serve in our military, but couldn't for years because of his undocumented status.

What is America? Aren't we the place of dreams and freedom and liberty? Why wouldn't people want to move here? And if you live in a country where your financial circumstances are so dire that you would risk your very life to sneak across the border, then maybe that's something America should be addressing. I still hate that we have so many illegals in this country. But I understand why they've come, most of them, to create a better life.

And for kids like Luis, Oscar, Lorenzo, and Cristian, there has to be a solution to get them legalized. They're practically US citizens already, but with none of the benefits. Yes, I understand Spare Parts is probably a politicized version of the truth. I am well aware. But I also know that I don't want to see young people suffer because of circumstances outside of their control.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Bride and Prejudice (2004)

Oh my gosh, there are times when I absolutely LOVE Bollywood! It's bright and cheerful and so many gorgeous colors all in one fantastic kaleidoscope!

I would like to make some grand statement that I'm watching every single adaptation ever made of Pride and Prejudice, but no, I just wanted to watch a Bollywood film and I hadn't seen Bride and Prejudice yet.

Let's start with what I loved!

Aishwarya Rai! She is one truly stunning woman, and not just stunning, but talented too. I've seen her in Jodha Akbar, a movie I will undoubtedly save for another post because I love it so much, so she really was the clincher in me wanting to watch this movie. And she did not disappoint!

The musical numbers! Yes, literally, I love musicals, and so that very first musical number at the wedding when the guys are dancing to the girls . . . it just won my heart. Plus, I kind of have a teeny crush on Naveen Andrews even though he played Jafar on Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Or maybe because he played Jafar. So that dance he did at the beginning, wooing his version of Jane Bennett, was just adorable!

If only all Mr. Bingleys were like Balraj!
I mean, come on, now. He had so much personality in the small amount of screen time they gave him. I'm really starting to appreciate Naveen and wishing he had more roles in movies I would actually want to watch. But such is the hand of fate, and so I must be satisfied with the few things he's done that I care to watch. Ahhhh, how I must suffer!

Okay, okay, you knew it had to happen. I had to move on to what I wasn't 100% sold on.

Darcy. So, undoubtedly Martin Henderson would have worked as Darcy if not for one thing.

Does anyone have an idea what it is?

It involves a massive miscasting that occurred and one that I looked not for until a certain actor rose up out of the sea and approached Lalita (Elizabeth) because he was transfixed by her musical prowess. Who is it, you ask?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Completing the Walk for Life in Colorado Springs!

For the unaware, this is a pro-life event I participate in every year as a way of raising money for the local pregnancy center called Life Network. Hundreds of lives are impacted and changed for the better every year and I am so blessed to be a part of it.

Yes, this happened back in June, but I'm actually getting the photos up, so go me! This is of me, on the left obviously, and my dear friend, Lynn. We've done this Walk for Life together for last 5 years or so and it's always such a great experience. In other news, I've dropped about 8 pounds since that photo so the shirt will fit much better now!

Needless to say, we were not alone. This isn't even a smattering of the people on this walk. There were at least 1,000 people there, possibly more, all walking around the lake in Memorial Park in Colorado Springs. It was a bit of a nippy day for it, but such a worthwhile event.

My heart literally floated out of my chest and hugged this dad and his son. What an incredible testimony he's living with his son right here, right now. These two were my favorite moment in the entire walk.

Woohoo, Lynn and I made it to the finish line! And then we headed off for lunch together. It was such an awesome day, even with the overcast sky. It's always a huge blessing when we're given an opportunity to make a difference in Jesus' name!

Rachel, my dear, thank you for giving to this worthy cause! *hugs*

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Living Behind the Veil with Hannibal

Despite almost my better judgement, I've continued watching NBC's Hannibal. Now in its 3rd and final season, it's grown more trippy and disconnected as time progresses, which is undoubtedly part of what has lead to its inevitable downfall. The 1st season was inspired, awash with metaphor and allegorical conclusions. Each individual character was unique, and now they feel like cookie-cutter mock-ups of Hannibal himself. The original vision of originality has dissipated until there is very little left of it. At least, until the episode And the Woman Clothed in Sun.

I'll be honest, most of this season has been ho-hum for me, at least until now. Bedelia had the best moments in the entirety of this episode. She began the series cold, impersonal, and somewhat afraid of human touch. The audience felt something of a disconnect from her because they didn't know what she was really thinking or feeling. She was void. Now, at long last, she's given voice to how she views the world around her and how she views herself. It's fascinating to encounter someone so entirely devoid of conscience, but not devoid of empathy. She opens herself up to Will in this episode, finally showing her true colors. It is both a chilling and intriguing moment of clarity and truth, the very first moment of truth Bedelia has shared with anyone.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Deconstructing an ENTJ

One of the problems with personality typing is that we try and put people into boxes.

But you can't say than an ISFJ will do "this" particular thing every single time because that's what ISFJs do. Why? Because an ISFJ's actions are based off tradition and past experiences. Any tradition. Any past experience. My past experiences are different from every other ISFJ's experiences out there. Our brain patterns may work in similar ways, but my values do not have to be another ISFJ's values. It's the same with any personality type.

Take my newish friend, an ENTJ. I'll call him D to protect his identity just in case he ever finds the time and the motivation to read my blog. Up until meeting D my experience with ENTJs was limited to television and film where they are always the masterminds who usually take over the world irregardless of body count. They're scary. They're single-minded. And they don't give a damn about humanity. But D is not Raymond Reddington from The Blacklist, and I can honestly say, THANK GOODNESS! Because as much as I love Red, he's scary as hell and I would never want to personally make his acquaintance.

If there's one thing I've learned during my developing friendship with D, it's that he does not fit a weird stereotypical mold of how ENTJs should behave. He's not some crazed power-hungry lunatic out to take over the world. Don't get me wrong, he is driven. Almost insatiable in his need for success, so much so that he works 3 jobs in order to buy the camera equipment he needs to be the best professional photographer he can be. If that means he gets 3 hours of sleep a night, so be it.

Did you hear that? That's me screaming in the background.

Yes, his desperation to succeed drives me crazy because it's like I'm watching him kill himself. And I HATE that. If there is one thing I, as an ISFJ, cannot stand it's watching a friend overwork themselves to the brink of destruction and poor health. D has stomach ulcers for goodness' sake, and he's not yet THIRTY.

Ahem, now that I've ranted (and he already knows how I feel about his crammed schedule so he won't be surprised if he reads this), we can move on.

So, yes he has the undeniable drive of an ENTJ.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Happy Birthday, John Stamos!

Lori posted this pic and wished him a Happy Bday on her Facebook and I couldn't resist sharing! They're still such good friends all these years later, love it!
So, Happy Birthday, John!
Love ya, Uncle Jesse!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Femnista Jul/Aug 2015 - The Middle Ages

Within this issue of Femnista, you will find articles on Robin Hood, on the epic Kingdom of Heaven, on Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert from Ivanhoe, on Tristan and Isolde, even on The Princess Bride, and more!

It's a delightful collection of musings and ponderings on anything from The Middle Ages, and I thoroughly enjoyed delving into the life choices of Brian de Bois-Guilbert, who happens to be one of my favorite literary anti-heroes.

May you enjoy this issue of Femnista!

FREE. Download it here. Or view it online here.

Product of Charity’s Place. (Click to read back issues, movie reviews, etc.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

I have to forgive THOSE people?

Forgiveness. What does it even mean? I spent literally years living next door to people who despised the very ground my family walked on. And I'm ashamed to say that I did a fair bit of hating in return for the hating they showed us. It's the human reaction to such circumstances, even though it's not the heavenly reaction. For that, I will always suffer mild guilt. Is there a bridge I could have crossed to meet this family halfway? Is there something I could have said, something I could have done, some gesture that would have suddenly turned the loathing into love? I don't know.

All I do know is that forgiveness is crucial if I am going to move on from this place in my life. They're not next door anymore. A house foreclosed, mixed feelings of sorrow for their circumstances and hesitant, unbelieving relief that they were finally, after 11 years, leaving the neighborhood. No longer would I have to step out my front door and see their house. No longer would I dread that garage door going up. And no longer would I have to pretend not to hear the mock whispers of derision intent on bringing about a reaction that would warrant calling the police.

This was my life for 11 years. It's my life no longer. I step out the front door and see a "For Sale" sign on the lot. The rooms are barren, the driveway deserted, and my soul feels lighter than it has ever felt living in this neighborhood. Even in the backyard, my heart would clench at the sound of their voices, and I constantly fought the instinct to run away, to hide in the house, to never set foot in a place where I would be forced to remember they existed.

But I have done what I previously thought was impossible. I've forgiven them. For all the years of rancor and distasteful scenes, for all the bitterness in my own heart. I've forgiven them. And I pray for them. That they find peace in their new home, a fresh start, that they would be free from the same bitterness that for years managed to enslave me. Forgiveness isn't about them. It's about me. It's about both letting go and taking back at the same time. Recovering a piece of myself that was lost. A heart that was almost destroyed.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Mr. Holmes (2015)

When I first realized Ian McKellen was going to play an old Sherlock Holmes, I balked. Not because of Sir Ian, but because the very idea of an "old" Sherlock Holmes just didn't sit right with me somehow. It's a reminder of mortality . . . the notion that the world's greatest detective could grow old. And worse yet, grow senile.

Such is the case with Holmes. It is now well into the early 1940s and Holmes is aged, well into his 90s, if I were to make an estimated guess. He's become something of a recluse, hiding himself away in the country with his bee gums for the past 30 years. Why? All because of his last case, the case that went wrong. Now that he's setting out to correct the misconception John Watson created about this particular case, he can barely remember the details. They come to him in irksome snatches where only a few years before he could have told anyone every single detail of any one of his cases. Not so now.

If not for Roger, the young son of his housekeeper, Holmes might have actually given up trying to remember. But the lad wants to read the story Holmes is writing, is eager, even desperate, to connect to the world-weary detective. And Holmes finds an affinity in the boy's wit and intellect, for Roger loves learning in ways that the child's mother cannot even begin to comprehend. So the two, old man and young boy, journey together down memory lane, as Holmes fights every step of the way to maintain the vast intellect that earned him so much respect during his career.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Moving all of my book reviews to a new blog!

So, I've done something almost unthinkable, but also something I've meant to do for a year.

I've split this blog into 2 blogs with the other one named Bookshelves and Daydreams. I feel a little bit . . . strange having done this because change doesn't come easily for me. But I think in the long run, and probably the short run, this will streamline my blog posts in a way easiest for you, my readers.

Honestly, I hesitated to post book tags or participate in giveaways or write too many book reviews because I didn't want to irk some of my readers with too many "book related" posts. That will no longer be the case and so I can post about books, upcoming or classic, as often as I like for those of my readers who enjoy my book reviews and would like to see more of that ilk! So I'm finally, as I write this, letting some excitement start to flow.

I consider myself something of a Dustfinger lover from Inkheart and I thought of him a bit while making this change because he is so unrelentingly adverse to change. He never truly adapted to our world even after living in it for 10 years. Even though my beloved Dustfinger never overcomes his longing for the Inkworld, it doesn't mean I have to stick with the sameness of having just a single blog. Of course, if I were him and could manipulate fire into flower petals while in the Inkworld, I doubt I would be entirely pleased at being uprooted to our sad, ordinary world. No, not at all, and it is because I long to write posts about favorite literary characters, like Dustfinger, participate in read-alongs, be involved in giveaways, that I absolutely must do this split.

In fact, the split is already done. If you look back through my posts on this blog, you will find that all of the book reviews are gone. They have now migrated over to Bookshelves and Daydreams, and so it will be from this point onward. For those of you still interested in reading about faith related posts, movies, my personal life, and any ISFJ posts that I may have written in the past, feel free to continue reading this blog. I won't stop updating Musings of an Introvert, I promise. Different doesn't translate into bad, only a new chapter. Who would read books at all if there was no climax and the characters never learned anything? I am in the midst of my learning.

So I encourage you, if you have enjoyed my book reviews and would like to see more of them and other things regarding books as well, then hop on over to Bookshelves and Daydreams. Also, if you ever misplace this new blog link, just look over into my sidebar and you'll find a photo link to it, right under my profile.

Thanks again, everyone for all of your support, and I'm sure we'll go through many more years of blogging together.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Liebster Award

I was nominated for this award by Hamlette over on Hamlette's Soliloquy, and got to this one a lot faster than the favorite actor's tag, so I'm proud of myself. Thanks, Hamlette!

Here are the rules when nominated for a Liebster:
 a) Answer the eleven questions of the tagger.
 b) Share eleven facts about yourself
 c) Nominate up to eleven other bloggers
 d) Ask those nominees 11 new questions

1.  Do you have a favorite mug or teacup?

Actually, I have so many that it's hard to pick just one. I have a gorgeous hand-painted set of teacups from Japan that I adore, and that set is probably my favorite. I'll try to take a photo of it when next I do a tea post.

2.  Are you an adventurous eater?  (Do you try "strange" foods?)

Not usually, but I did try Ethiopian food for the first time only a few weeks ago and really loved it. Very exotic and flavorful, lots of spices!

3.  What fandoms are you into?

Oh boy, there isn't enough time in the world for me to cover this and I would still forget some of them. The main ones are still The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek, but I also love Teen Wolf, When Calls the Heart, and a new miniseries called Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell based off a book by Susanna Clark. Seriously though, there are a ton of fandoms I love, far, far too many to mention.

4.  What famous author/book do you not really care for?

I'm really not fond of Hemingway, which is strange because I love Fitzgerald and you would think the two would be interchangeable.

Oh, and I've never really enjoyed Pride and Prejudice in book form. I enjoy film adaptations of it, but the book itself, not so much. Sacrilege of some sort, I'm sure.

5.  What obscure author/book are you nuts about?

I'm crazy over Cornelia Funke's Mirrorworld series! Most people know her because of Inkheart, and that series is excellent, but there's something about the Mirrorworld that just speaks to me.

6.  What's the oldest movie you've ever watched?

I've watched A Trip to the Moon by Georges Méliès from 1902, a stunning silent French film that I absolutely love.

7.  What did you have for breakfast today?

Two sunny-side up eggs fried inside slices of orange bell pepper with melted cheese on top. Divine.

8.  When did you first see your favorite movie?

The Fellowship of the Ring, seen the day after Christmas 2001, in theaters, with my sweet father.

9.  Do you prefer fantasy or sci-fi?

I like both equally although I often find that very few sci-fi films live up to my standards.

10.  What did you expect your blog to be like when you started it? 

I think originally I thought my blog would be about my personal life, but to be honest, sharing too much about my personal life with total strangers makes me nervous, so I gravitated towards entertainment type posts instead, films and television especially. I didn't expect to ever have 48 followers though, so that's quite exciting.

11.  Has it changed?  If so, how?

Yes, it's changed a great deal. I'd never imagined I would write book reviews, yet here I am doing just that. I'm still not sure what I think of that side of my blog, to be honest. I also write, sometimes, about life as an ISFJ, and I'm not sure what I think of those posts either. It saddens me that they're always the top posts on my blog. I'd rather write something longer-lasting than simply advice on how to befriend an ISFJ when in reality, we're all different. No other ISFJ will be like me because they haven't had the same life experiences as me, which is awesome because that means, even with a personality type that millions of other people have, I'm still entirely unique.

11 Facts about Me
  1. I love attending the Colorado Renaissance Faire every year.
  2. And I go in full costume.
  3. I love the ocean more than the mountains.
  4. If I had the guts, I would quit my job tomorrow and take a driving tour of the country.
  5. I've seen Michael Bublé 3 times in concert.
  6. I'm tired of reading Christian romance.
  7. I would give anything for the Colorado skies to cease their hailstorms.
  8. A part of me never wants to leave home.
  9. Fandom t-shirts are my favorite, comfy attire when I don't have to impress people.
  10. I wish I didn't feel guilty about not liking everyone I know.
  11. And thankfully my faith is secure in Jesus Christ: my Redeemer, my Savior, and my Best Friend.
Now, I don't religiously follow a whole lot of blogs, so I can't nominate 11, but I will nominate those that I would love to see get a little more traffic and attention because I think they're awesome.

I gift the Liebster Award to the following 4 blogs:

A Shroud of Thoughts
Lady of the Manor
Idle Wanderings
His Redeemed Child

And finally, my questions to these terrific bloggers should they choose to participate:
  1. Where do you go to decompress from the world?
  2. If given $10,000, what would you do with it?
  3. What is one major renovation you would love to make on your house?
  4. What is one movie that you love and didn't expect to love?
  5. What is the oldest knick-knack you own and what is its sentimental value?
  6. Do you own any books you keep out of obligation, but actually hate?
  7. How many countries have you visited outside of the one you live in now?
  8. Have you ever read only part of a book, but claimed you've read the whole thing?
  9. Dry climate or humidity?
  10. Sherlock Holmes or John Watson and why?
  11. Why did you decide to start blogging?
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