Monday, December 25, 2017

Peace be with You

The stockings and gifts are opened, Christmas brunch has been eaten, the cats are in a catnip coma, and the prime rib is coming to room temperature.

Now I can sit at my computer for a few minutes, listening to Andy Williams' Christmas album, and just reflect. As I've already mentioned, it's been a tough year. A year of weariness and emotional upheaval and uncertainty. Have you ever experienced that feeling of being always off-balance? Of never knowing where you're going to land and whether there's safe harbor? That's been me, this last year.

But sitting here, musing on Christmas day, I'm thankful. I'm thankful for this one last Christmas with my family the way it's always been. Next year will be different. I'm going to be in a home of my own, and likely my sister will either join me or she'll get a place of her own.

I'm reminded of Virginia Woolf, in a way. I'm a single woman with a successful job. If I'm going to make anything of my writing and of my faith, then I need a room, or in this case a home, of my own. All the uncertainty of the past year fades under that reality. My fear of change, of altering the traditional, has actually held me back in moving to the next level of my life. It's not so much about marriage and children, but growing into myself, becoming the woman I am meant to be.

Excitement flutters in me now when I think of having my own space. There's no room left for fear, only exultation that my time is coming. The Lord has opened many doors in my life before, and here is another one that it is nearly time to walk through.

Blessings to you all and Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Four Things Tag

I randomly found this tag on Thrifty Bibliophile, and thought it sounded like fun. I don't mind doing tags every once in awhile, especially if they don't require me to spend a whole lot of time on them. Why am I doing it Christmas Eve? Because we're pretty much all set for Christmas, which is awesome! 

Four Jobs I've Had
  1. Library Shelving Page
  2. Library Circulation Assistant
  3. Data Entry Associate
  4. Data Entry Specialist
Four Things I Don't Eat
  1. Stuffed Bellpeppers (ewww on so many levels particularly with the hamburger meat)
  2. Red Chili (Dennison's is the only type I can stomach)
  3. White Chocolate (bleh)
  4. Those weird little baby octopus (YUCK!)
Four Places I've Lived
  1. California
  2. Oregon (3 different homes)
  3. Colorado (3 different homes)
Four of My Favorite Foods
  1. Sushi (yep, the real kind of sushi with the raw fish and everything, so yummy!)
  2. Noosa Yogurt
  3. European breakfast buffet with smoked salmon, tomatoes, rye toast, etc.
  4. A really excellent Chicken Caesar Salad
Four Movies I've Watched More than Once
  1. The Apartment with Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine and Fred MacMurray.
  2. The Lord of the Rings
  3. Rogue One
  4. Thor: Ragnarok
Four TV Shows I Watch
  1. Gotham
  2. Once Upon a Time
  3. Stranger Things (it sorta counts)
  4. Trollhunters (another Netflix original)
Four Things I'm Looking Forward to This Year
  1. Renting an apartment or buying a house
  2. Pursuing my writing with deeper purpose and focus
  3. The possibility of working from home
  4. Getting back into the blogging scene
Four Things I Can't Live Without
  1. God's love and His promise of salvation
Four Places I've Visited
  1. Helsinki and Vaasa, Finland
  2. Disneyland
  3. Vancouver, Canada
  4. Mesa Verde, Colorado
Four Pet Peeves
  1. The foot jiggle from people who think they have ADHD but don't (just STOP)
  2. Being reminded of things I've already done because I remembered to do them
  3. Talking instead of working while on your employer's dime
  4. Tailgaters with blaring music
Four Things I Wish I Could Do
  1. Retire now
  2. Lose weight and keep it off
  3. Get in the car and drive to wherever strikes my fancy
  4. Finish everything in the span of my 33 years that I've started and haven't yet finished
Four Subjects I Studied at School
  1. Victorian Literature
  2. The British Romantics
  3. Composing Poetry
  4. Creative Writing
Four Things Near Me Right Now
  1. An unopened pack of Luke Skywalker party napkins (why? Because I love them)
  2. A pair of Elvis Presley blue suede slippers
  3. Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton (a book my sister lent me)
  4. 3 different types of hand lotion (I obviously need to commit to just one)
I Tag . . . 

Because it's been awhile since I've been active on here and have no clue how many people are still reading my blog, pretty much anyone who wants to participate can. I'd love it if DKoren and Birdie would, actually, if I'm going to tag someone specific.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

I'm back and Merry Christmas!

My precious Bucky Boy enjoying his Christmas tree this year.

I look back over 2017 and a part of me thinks, “Wow, this year sucked.” There was a system transition at work that has yet to be completed even though we began in January 2017. Talk about wearing on the mind and soul.  I began battling a mild form of depression and started taking meds to combat it. This year has truly been a flux of up and down and back and forth; emotions whirling and friendships rising and ebbing a bit depending on my ability to interact.

But there’s another part of me, a somewhat larger part, that is now able to see quite a few of the blessings that have flowed my way in 2017. With the Lord’s help, I’ve finally overcome something I’ve struggled with for years. That’s the epitome of awesome, right there. My family traveled to Finland (our first major trip outside the country) and discovered family ties, ancestral land, and just an incredible culture of people that we never imagined experiencing. Finland is amazing and I love it with my whole heart and it connected a lot of the dots about my values and the pacing of my life. Apparently you don’t have to have been born in Finland to live a Scandinavian lifestyle.

Another thing I’ve learned, and I’m sorry it took this long to learn it, is that I should never try to change up important things when I’m in the middle of intense life experiences. Like this blog. I’m much more than just one thing, and while I deeply admire the people who are able to blog about just one thing, that’s not me. I can’t compartmentalize like that. I love classic films, but I’ll go for weeks, even months sometimes, without watching one. I love books, but heaven knows I don’t always want to sit down and review them. There are times when the books I read are too personal, too intimate to my soul, for me to really want to share. I write, I knit, I crochet, and I think, think, think, probably like the majority of people with “intellection” in their top 5 Strengths/Finders.

I tried to put myself in a box, format myself into what I thought others expected of me, but I can’t do that. I have to be free to be who I am. I love the Lord and I need to express that when the urge hits me. If I read a book that inspires me to talk about it, I need that freedom to write about it. It’s the same with movies and television, no matter the era. Travels and writings and craft projects may need to be shared.

All this is to say that after a hectic time of growth and stress and overcoming the loss of loved ones over the last couple of years, my blog is returning to Musings of an Introvert. This is what it should have been all along because that’s when it truly felt right to me and I was engaged with it. I know I’ve lost quite a few readers due to my hiatus and that’s okay. People come and go. But the intensity of my identity needs to be channeled somewhere and I always found blogging to be therapeutic when I did right.

To those of you have still have me in your blog rolls, thanks. I appreciate you and I missed you. And to any new readers that may crop up along the way, cool. We’ll find our way together. Merry Christmas!

The Greatest Showman (2017)

After spending 2 glorious hours in the theater today watching The Greatest Showman, one thing struck home. Nobody should care whether the movie is a true representation of P.T. Barnum’s real life. That’s not what The Greatest Showman is all about; rather, the movie is the embodiment of believing in impossible dreams and of loving yourself despite what the world says.

My sister cosplays and depending on what she’s wearing and where she is, it’s hilarious watching people try desperately to not look at her. To pretend they don’t see her and that she isn’t dressed in full Victorian garb, bustle, corset, and all. Why? Because she’s different and people do . . . not . . . like . . . different.

P.T. Barnum was different.

And The Greatest Showman represents him as the glorious type of different that ignites the imaginations of the people around him. This movie tells you that it’s okay to be different because you still have the right to happiness, to family, to love, despite anything that anyone may say to the contrary.

So I pretty much spit on the Rotten Tomatoes critics that are complaining about everything from The Greatest Showman not being true to history (Really? You mean Barnum didn’t sing and dance modern show tunes through his life story?), claims about it being formulaic (Hmm, I’m pretty sure Sing got some pretty serious praise and The Greatest Showman is waaaaay superior), and containing some of the worst songs in show tune history (Ummm, you're going to try and teach me about music, now? I know what I like).

Honestly, it really just feels like modern critics have the exact same approach to the exciting and fantastical as the humbug critic in The Greatest Showman. Awww, did the poor wittle babies take offense at such an accurate representation of themselves? To steal a quote from George Gilbert, a favorite radio character of mine from Father Gilbert, modern film critics are "narrow-minded and prejudicial."

You put Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron in starring leads in a larger-than-life musical about chasing dreams and you’ve got a winner. I haven’t fallen this hard for a film since Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them hit theaters, and it’s disappointing to find the same critics who praised the lackluster LaLa Land being so boorish about this fresh, invigorating and just plain fun musical. Just when I really needed a toe-tapping good time, The Greatest Showman popped up to surprise and impress me, so much so that I wished I'd had the time to buy another ticket, turn around, and see it twice in the same day!

Hugh, it’s good to see you back doing musicals again and not bulked up to the nines playing Wolverine. You’re so much better than just an X-man and The Greatest Showman proves it.

And Zac, WOW. I have so totally missed you, dude! Not that you haven’t been in movies because you have, but, come on now, do obnoxious frat boy roles really match you? You’re better than those characters, and I LOVED you as Philip Carlisle. I miss hearing you sing and that number you and Hugh perform together is AMAZING. My advice for what it’s worth and that’s very little is to shelve any future frat boy films and stick to the classier roles. They suit you. Just own that you're a classy gent and run with it.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Award Winners for a REASON: The African Queen (1951)

The African Queen (1951)
starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn

I'm back! I can't believe it's been almost a year since I last posted on this blog. Taking a break from certain things proved to be necessary for my emotional survival this last year. We're had a lot of upheaval at work and just overall stress and the last thing I needed was the additional weight of trying to write movie reviews on a regular basis. But I'm back and willing to give it my best shot.

The basics haven't changed. I'll still be watching and discussing classic film and actors.

However, I've also decided to incorporate modern movies set in the era of old Hollywood. Those can be loads of fun. Like, right now, I'm rewatching Zodiac, which is of course about the Zodiac Killer and takes place in the late 1960s to early 1970s. Not a classic movie, but set in the right era. It'll be a fun expansion since I really do love movies set in the era of classic Hollywood, period.

On to The African Queen from 1951.

Please tell me that everyone has seen this movie at least once?

Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn SHINE in this glorious film that is based off C. S. Forester's book of the same name that I have yet to read, but is on my bookshelf. This movie is actually filmed on location in Africa. Do you know how rare that was in the days of classic Hollywood, to film a movie anywhere other than a studio?

The basic story is this: Katharine Hepburn (Rose) and her brother are missionaries to the Congo in 1914. They've been there for 10 years. World War I breaks out and the little African village they minister to is raided by the Germans and all of the Africans are driven off. The shock of it puts Rose's brother into an early grave and she's left alone until Humphrey Bogart (Charlie Allnut), the captain of a sweet little vessel called the African Queen, shows up on her doorstep. He's been delivering supplies and mail to them for years, but now he takes Rose on as a responsibility to get her to safety. Except that Rose decides they need to destroy a German gunboat named the Louisa that is on a lake far down the Ulanga River. It's a dangerous proposition and Charlie is reluctant to even start, but together the two form an unusual partnership and even end up discovering they are soul mates.

The African Queen is a gorgeous film for two reasons.

First, like I already said, it was filmed on location in Africa.

Second, Humphrey Bogart was never more brilliant as an actor in all his life than in this film. Which explains his Academy Award for Best Actor! He earned it . . . hands down, no arguments. You'll also never see him in any better physical shape. Not a spare ounce of fat on his body anywhere, or on Katharine Hepburn for that matter. The two sparked!

Did you know that filming The African Queen was a welcome break for the actors from the McCarthy Hollywood red scare? Katharine Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, and Bogie's wife Lauren Bacall were all under fire by the Army-McCarthy Hearings that were nothing more than a glorified witch hunt for communists. So for them, getting away from Hollywood was refreshing, despite the physical trials of a difficult African climate.

While one of the film's benefits was its authentic setting on location another was that it was an independent film, directed by John Huston yes, but funded independently. Not being attached to a major studio gave the actors a bit of breathing room. John Huston approached Bogart first, without any funding at all, and Bogart got Hepburn on board since he'd never acted with her and thought their chemistry might work with the story. The funding came next and the rest, as they say, is history.

While Bogie is the only one to come away from The African Queen with an Oscar, it's a good thing since it was his only one. But it was still an honor for Hepburn and Huston to be nominated in addition to being nominated for "best-adapted screenplay."

It's normal to wonder if your movie is going to be a success or a flop. But I don't think anyone anticipated that The African Queen would be such a phenomenal success. Now 66 years later, fans still marvel at the connection between Bogie and Hepburn and the absolutely stunning scenery as the African Queen floats down the Ulanga River, through white water rapids and sometimes under fire from German guns.

Oh, and by the way, the remastered DVD is AMAZING! You can tell how hard the restorers worked to present modern audiences with the best version of The African Queen that was humanly possible.
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