Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Discovering Alexis Ffrench

Credit: Alexis Ffrench and Spotify

My time at Glen Eyrie was very well spent. I took scads of photos, but haven't had a chance to go through them yet. Once I do, I'll share some and post some thoughts.

Until then, here's a music recommendation for you in terms of something soothing that aligns with more of a self-care mindset.

I love piano music, always have. But I tend to forget that I love it until some new piece crosses my radar. So it is with Bluebird by British contemporary composer and pianist Alexis Ffrench. The first time I heard Bluebird, as in really stopped to listen as it was playing on the Amazon classical music channel, I was just blown away. There is such a haunting sorrow paired with hope in this piece that just moved me to tears. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Self-Care: Staying at Glen Eyrie

Photo Credit: Not Mine

I am doing something for myself that I have literally never done before. I've dreamed of it, hoped to do it, but never actually acted on it. I am going to stay at Glen Eyrie Castle for three days.

All on my own. Alone, with no work obligations and next to no plans other than to just be at the Glen, walk the trails, and spend time reading (both Biblical and fictional), knitting, journaling, and listening to Orson Welles' radio plays in my beautiful Victorian room. 

You might consider my staying at Glen Eyrie to be Self Care: Step One. 

Glen Eyrie was the magnificent home of General William Jackson Palmer, the founder of Colorado Springs, and is a now a Christian retreat center owned by the Navigators. I stayed there once before for a writer's workshop, but found myself wishing, the entire time, that I was just there to stay at Glen Eyrie with no other plans or obligations. Now, I'm finally doing it.

Monday, October 10, 2022

World Mental Health Day: Develop Relationships of High Acceptance

I'm sitting in front of my keyboard, pondering what exactly to write. I'm a little rusty, if you can't tell. The pandemic years were so difficult, in many ways, and I feel like even though I've started finding myself as a person, I lost some of the floweriness and bubbliness that I used in my writing. Or maybe that's something that just comes with age.

If there's one thing America does poorly, it's take time to rest. And when I say rest, I don't mean taking a day to try and get all the things done. Or taking a week to trot the kids to Disneyland. Because neither of those things are restful. Are they necessary and fun, yes, but restful, not in the slightest. But rest is what keeps mankind from breaking.

For me, my mental health isn't always the greatest. Exhaustion and boredom tend to go hand-in-hand with those days of emotional crisis where I just want to lay on my bed and stare at the ceiling. As an ISFP, boredom has a lot to do with it, and I'm aware of that aspect of it for myself now, more than I was before. So for me, caring for my mental health is a two-fold thing. One part is taking time to literally do nothing. Maybe read a book. Maybe watch one of my Asian dramas or a a movie in English so I can knit while watching. Maybe it's a combination of those things and then just sitting still and listening to absolutely nothing. I love the sound of silence. It's pure bliss. But, I can only do nothing for so long. The adventurous side of me needs trips up the mountain, or a drive further south, or even a day at the zoo to feel fully re-energized. Days of rest where there are no expectations and then a few days of fun are so crucial to my wellbeing.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Retro Family Lesson Time

It's so sad to me when "modern" women decide they're going to make judgement calls on women from the 30s, 40s, 50s, etc. 

Like, on a picture where the husband is sitting in an armchair reading and she's vacuuming. I heard today a comment that he's sexist. WELL, looking at the illustration (which I don't have a copy of unfortunately), it's clearly from the 1940s. Which means he's worked all day and she's a stay-at-home wife and mother. So he's tired and he's resting after being the breadwinner all day and she probably even brought him his newspaper.

The person in the conversation I was privy to paid absolutely no attention to historic context.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Book Review: Fair as a Star by Mimi Matthews (2020)

Fair as a Star

Victorian Romantics: Book One

by Mimi Matthews



I've put off reading any of Mimi Matthews' books. It sometimes happens for me that when an author is surrounded by so much hype and enthusiasm, that I end up crushingly disappointed in their work. Thankfully, that is not the case with Fair as a Star.

She handles the topic of melancholy/clinical depression with a delicate and understanding hand. There is no cure for Beryl. There are ways to help treat the symptoms of her melancholy, but there will never be a cure, and it is not her fault that she suffers from melancholy nor is it a cry for attention. It simply is what it is and what she needs most is for someone to be understanding and compassionate during her low periods because they will happen her entire life.

That compassionate approach to clinical depression is what makes Mimi Matthews an absolute winner in my book. As someone who suffers from situational depression and has a family member who has suffered from clinical depression my entire life, I strongly relate to Beryl's story. It's hard to describe what depression feels like but emptiness is a good starting point like there is a vacuum or black hole into which all of the good things have fallen. Ms. Matthews captured that reality very well.

Why I'm rating only 4 stars instead of 5 is because I do feel that a few things were wrapped up too quickly. Like the ease of Beryl and Mark ending up together. Henry doesn't seem a very forgiving sort of person, so I was surprised at how forgiving he was in the end. BUT, I probably do him a discourtesy. He's not a truly unpleasant man but has had to be pragmatic and ruthless in order to save the family farm, as it were. And while I like Mark immensely (he's a curate so of course, I like him), I do wish we'd had a chance to know him in a deeper way.

Beryl is wonderful and I love her hobby of whitework embroidery. I didn't even know that was a thing until this book and now I'm curious. My sister embroiders but I don't think she's ever done whitework.

Overall, an excellent novel with a little bit of a Sense and Sensibility vibe. I've read novels this short before, but unfortunately, the authors tend to chop their story so ruthlessly that there is no heart left. Thankfully, that's not the case here. I've already placed more of Ms. Matthews' books on hold at my library and can hardly wait to give them a try. What I'm truly eager for, though, is the second book in this series.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Japanese Drama Review: Seigi no Tenbin, Season One (2021)

Seigi no Tenbin (The Scales of Justice)

Country: Japan

Year: 2021

Episodes: 5 episodes, 50 minutes each

Genre: Law, Drama, Crime
Starring: Kamenashi Kazuya, Nao, Oshima Yuko, Omasa Aya, Kitayama Hiromitsu, Satoi Kenta

My Rating

Click to read more of my reviews for Japanese entertainment. 

Watch Seigi no Tenbin through the fansubber's site, MiaMaw Fansubs. You can go the softsub/raw method or you can join her site as a member (go here) for access to the hard-subbed episodes. Respect the fansubber, though, and don't spread the subtitles around online, upload onto thief sites, or claim as your own.

Nao-san playing Saeki Mei-san in Seigi no Tenbin

When one division of a particular law firm loses its chief to an unexpected death, his daughter attempts to step in and fill his shoes, much to the doubt of the partners in the firm. Unfortunately, this division has never made much money, certainly not to the same extent as the other "rooms" in the firm, and the first thought is to close that division down permanently. Except that Saeki-san, recently deceased chief, already had plans to bring in new blood, and his daughter, also Saeki-san (Nao), acts on his prior decision. Takano Kazuya-san (Kamenashi Kazuya) is a fireball, bringing with him heat, passion, and a thirst for excitement in the criminal law arena. The firm partners agree to let Takano try his hand at bringing the division back up to speed, a challenge he relishes but one that won't be entirely easy since, counting him, there are now only 5 lawyers instead of the previous 14 or 15. Quite a few jumped ship after Saeki-san's death.

Monday, June 6, 2022

When an "ISFJ" realizes they're truly an ISFP

Yamapi dancing at a party, which, yeah, of course I had to.

I retook the MBTI test associated with the 16 Personalities website, and here are the incredibly accurate and helpful results.

Okay, so there is nothing weirder than an ISFP spending more than a decade being mistyped as an ISFJ. These two personality types are on opposite ends of the spectrum. I actually thought I was just a crap ISFJ and spent so much time and effort for years trying to get better at being one. Turns out, I'M NOT ONE! I'm an ISFP, better known as the Adventurer, and oh my gosh, friends, it makes so much bloody sense!

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Watching F4 Thailand: Boys Over Flowers: Episode 2 (spoilers)


F4 Thailand: Boys Over Flowers

Episode 2

Country: Thailand

Year: 2021 

Read my post about episode 1.

Thyme starts to realize that not everyone can be bought or placated with money in the place of an apology. It might just be one of his first encounters with real people in real life. Boy, does he live in a silver palace.

The kidnapping scene bothers me because everyone seems to think it's fine and dandy and Thyme looks so sexy when the car door opens (a lot of people's words, not mine). But from Gorya's perspective, and viewers not familiar with the story, it's terrifying. Because we don't know his intent. It could just as easily have been rape and murder. So yes, it's funny that he gives her a car, a makeover, a fancy dress, and enough diamonds to sink the Titanic as a means of NOT saying he's sorry. It's even funnier when she refuses him and kicks him where it hurts. Because he deserved that 100%. But Thyme's behavior is not okay and it bugs me that fans of this franchise just think it's adorbs.

However, Gorya getting lost in that huge house WAS funny. Tu is an amusing sort of actress, so she makes me like the character.

Are teachers this wimpy in real life? I'm guessing yes since this drama was made in 2021 so it's at least somewhat relevant to today's youth. But it's depressing watching a teacher do nothing when her students have written nasty slurs against Gorya on the chalkboard. I can't even . . . Bullying only happens when people do nothing, and that's exactly what is continuing to happen in episode 2.

A Jdrama that I LOVE that deals with a similar cyberbullying chatroom scenario that we encounter in episode 2 is Koko wa Ima kara Rinri desu (or From Now on We Begin Ethics). I've reviewed it HERE and it is a drama well worth your time in watching. Yamada Yuki is phenomenal as the ethics teacher. The drama does something useful and tries to give explanations and advice on how to handle these types of situations instead of just, well, using them for plain old entertainment purposes. Herd mentality is a terrifying thing.

The pressure to like Ren is increasing. The problem being, of course, that in his indifference and his attempts to maintain his own serenity, he does come across as "nice." I don't know if he really is, but the actor, Dew, has excellent chemistry with Tu who plays Gorya. So yes, I see where folks are claiming second lead syndrome. I'm feeling it a bit myself, hence the gif set below. Yes, I made them, enjoy. But I still don't think he's genuinely nice. I think he's apathetic 90% of the time and the 10% that he's not, he's only helping because Gorya is interesting, not because he's emotionally invested. Maybe I'll be proven wrong later on. But he is cute and he's not beating people up with his fists which is why I'm battling liking him.


One positive change from the Japanese series is that we FINALLY have members of the F4 wanting to cancel the red card bullying trend. I have to give MJ props for speaking up. I didn't actually think that would happen where one of them might almost admit that maybe giving red cards and letting kids get pulverized was a bad idea. But he doesn't like it and he's outspoken about it which means he is now the member of F4 with the most common sense. Not common sense with girls, but that's a whole other thing. Viewers can tell that MJ and Kavin are not into the red card thing anymore (if they ever were), and at the bullying scene near the end (it's not pretty since I hate seeing girls bullied by boys), even Thyme seems to realize he's making judgement errors that are really hurting people. Not just people, but girls, and he's beginning to understand that it's not an okay thing to do.

Ironically, Ren doesn't seem like he's actually against it. Like, it doesn't seem to turn his stomach the way it does with MJ and Kavin. So that's a little funky. If I were to sort him into a Harry Potter house, I think it might just be Slytherin. Just the vibes I'm getting right now, with his apathy, his obsession with one particular girl (meaning Mira not Gorya), and his roundabout approach to the bullying issue. Don't assume that if Ren is a Slytherin that it makes him bad. I'm a Slytherin myself, and there's just a way that Slytherins view the world that makes me feel like it might fit him. We'll see. He could also be a Ravenclaw or he might have one or the other as a secondary house.

Ironically, there's a good chance that Thyme is a Gryffindor. Probably burned or stripped. All the things. If you're curious where I'm getting these words, it's the Sorting Hat Chats personality typing.

I'm really loving Gorya's courage. She doesn't just give Thyme what he wants, meaning, she doesn't cave in and apologize to him so he can save face. The girl is willing to shave her head to save her friend rather than be pressured into an apology she doesn't feel and knows would be wrong to give. But she's not foolish either, the way the heroine was in Hana Yori Dango, rushing in where fools dare to tread. Gorya knows it's dangerous, but she can't do nothing, even if it means getting hurt.

Mira is also pretty awesome. She's promising and I can see why Ren thinks she's amazing, and clearly Gorya has every reason to admire her as well. She's a tough cookie and she won't just let bullies get away with their behavior. I think she and Thyme should have some words at some point.

Speaking of Thyme, his obsession with Gorya is getting scary. Because it's beginning to affect his friendship with Ren. I mean, have these two ever fought before? EVER?

I like episode 2 better than episode 1, or rather, I may be understanding the flow better. Thailand tends to take stories that other countries have made and give them a more serious bent. They did it with one of my favorites, Let's Fight, Ghost, and they're doing it here. There's a bit more realism of emotion than what I was expecting. The red card scene in this episode really hits home because the viewers can see (like actually tell) that 2 of the F4 guys know what's happening is wrong. BUT, the only one who puts a stop to it is Ren, and only by talking about something completely unrelated to what's happening. So they're not to the point of addressing what's going on and acknowledging it as "wrong" to the entire school, but maybe they're heading in that direction. I don't know, but I'm hopeful.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Watching F4 Thailand: Boys Over Flowers: Episode 1 (spoilers)

F4 Thailand: Boys Over Flowers

Episode 1 

Country: Thailand

Year: 2021 

Read my post about episode 2.

The Boys Over Flowers franchise (or Hana Yori Dango) is my most hated franchise in Asian entertainment.

But I wanted to give F4 Thailand a chance since I've heard that it takes the story in a less toxic direction (although I didn't really see that in episode 1). From what I recall, the basics of the story remain the same, with a bit of modern updating since it's been a long time since the original manga. Like, cell phones exist now, as does social media and all that that insanity entails.

Anyway, let's get started.

Gorya is way out of her depth. Attending a prestigious high school on a scholarship, she's just trying to survive and not make any critical mistakes. Which is hard because the school is run by a group of oligarch elitist boys that everyone lovingly calls F4, because each of them reminds you of a different flower. When Gorya stands up for a friend, she suddenly finds herself on the wrong side of F4, especially the leader, Thyme, a boy with some serious anger management issues. He issues a free-for-all permission to the entire school to put Gorya in their crosshairs if they want (a red letter kind of thing), and she has to decide if fighting to stay at the school is worth the abuse she's receiving.

Bullying and cyberbullying are a main theme here. The bullying isn't sugar-coated or laughed off, so that's a plus. But it is still nasty to watch, especially since the "hero" of the story is the primary bully. There's an eat or be eaten mentality that I don't like, but is also very much a part of the reality we live in. So I'm fighting against a never ending tide.

Gorya's family is a vibrant presence in her life, and she does have a couple of important conversations with them during episode 1, including the gifting of a pair of shoes since her school shoes are so old. Her mother does need to realize that people are allowed to have crappy days and feel weak. It never helps to tell someone "you can't be like this because you've never been like this."

Attempted rape, it's a thing. If that's a trigger for you, be warned. And the F4 group don't treat it nearly seriously enough. But that's probably part of the point. They're elevated to a level where they can't always feel what other people feel anymore.

Speaking of, that's a pretty true statement, and is used as a means of urging empathy towards Thyme and his hot temper. Don't excuse Thyme's behavior, but maybe try to explain it. I'm not sure if I agree with the approach since I know it urges me to empathize with him, when I really don't want to.

Ren, the "nice" member of F4. I'm supposed to like him. Because he saves Gorya a couple of times and he has a cute smile. But I view Ren the same way that I view Lupin in Harry Potter. He's weak and a pushover and even when he does something nice, it's not going to be at the jeopardy of his status. So while I know I'm supposed to like Ren, I just don't want to. Because he's a part of the problem too.

I hate being manipulated. And that's what the creator of Boys Over Flowers wanted to do, manipulate her audience to empathize with the male lead and all of his emotional hang-ups and sorrows. But I'm not somebody to excuse bullying, especially if that bullying puts a girl in so much danger that she could be raped. I'm not cool with that.

Acquaintances have said that there some real heart changes happen to Thyme in F4 Thailand so I'm holding out hope that it's true. I'm supposed to forgive those who trespass against me because I was first forgiven. But I still can't wrap my head around ending up in a relationship with an abusive bully.

So yes, the production quality of F4 Thailand is very high. This surprises some people, but not me since I'm really getting into Thai Lakorns and so far they're brilliant. So I have no complaints about the production quality at all. I just want to see some genuine change and self-reflection happen in Thyme's life. But I suspect it gets worse before it gets better, like so many things.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Japanese Fansubber Highlights! - Irozuku Fansubs

Irozuku Subs is an incredible Japanese drama fansubber with an ever-increasing body of work. I love their subtitles, but also appreciate the respect they show official streaming platforms when a popular drama is picked up that way. They've actually stopped subbing dramas once VIKI has approved it (like Black Cinderella and Peanut Butter Sandwich), and I respect them for that choice since it shows a deeper appreciation of copyright laws and not wanting to overstep boundaries and also saving their energy for other projects. They even take on smaller, lesser-known, or publicized work which is AWESOME because these are usually the dramas that wouldn't get subbed otherwise.

🌸 Website: Irozuku Subs

🌸 Twitter: @irozukusubs

They offer hardsub downloads for anyone visiting their site, and softsubs to be joined with raw video files to anyone monetarily supporting them on Patreon. Fans can also buy them individual "coffee" which is a really great way to support your favorite fansubbers even if you don't have the funds to support them every month with a Patreon commitment.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Rewatching Mel Brooks' The Twelve Chairs in 2022

I rewatch Mel Brooks' The Twelve Chairs (1970) every year. I suspect it's one of Brooks' lesser known comedies, but it's the only one of his films that I religiously watch because it has the least amount of crude content. Go figure!

The setting is 1927 Russia, a decade after the revolution. It's a satirical look at Russia, featuring three lead male characters whose ultimate goal is tied to greed.

Brooks, Moody, and Langella in The Twelve Chairs (1970)

Ippolit Vorobyaninov (Ron Moody) is the main "protagonist." He is a member of the deposed Russian aristocracy, a man born into great wealth, a man awash with pride and arrogance in his youth now brought low after his family's wealth was taken from them. His greed is found in the little things. When his mother-in-law is on her deathbed, his first thought is, "that poor woman, that poor woman," followed by "who is going to take care of me?" Empathy coupled with selfishness.

Langella in The Twelve Chairs (1970)

Ostep Bender (Frank Langella) is the second "protagonist." He is a communist, but first and foremost, he is about himself. His own security, his own safety, his own wellbeing, is his first and only priority. He has been taking care of himself all his life, and so there is nothing he will not stoop to so that he can continue to live. When his and Vorobyaninov's roads cross on a hunt for a dining room suite that inside one chair hides a fortune in jewels, it is the joining together of two equally selfish men.

Deluise and Langella in The Twelve Chairs (1970)

Father Fyodor (Dom Deluise) is the "antagonist" if you could call Ostep and Vorobyaninov protagonists. He takes Vorobyaninov's mother-in-law's final confession, learns about the jewels hidden in that dining room suite, and starts out on his own journey to find those chairs. His hunger for wealth is greater than his holy calling and he casts aside his faith.

Enjoy this fun scene from the film, one of my favorites because it showcases Dom Deluise's brilliant comedic talent!

I make them sound nasty because they really are. These are not likable men. They're laugh-so-hard-until-you-cry hilarious, but they're not nice. And you don't want to be them! These 3 lead characters will do ANYTHING to get this wealth. For Vorobyaninov, it's because he wants to be rich AGAIN. For Ostep, it's because he's never been wealthy, and the temptation of possibly having ENOUGH is overwhelming. And for Fyodor, he's done playing the holy game, and wants an OUT. Selfish motives, one and all, and it can be funny to watch selfish people chase a pipe dream.

Langella and Moody in The Twelve Chairs (1970)

It can also be scary.

Because we're seeing this happen right now, with Russia shamelessly chasing something they used to own, but is no longer theirs. They're doing the same old thing. Does it mean I think all Russians are like the men in The Twelve Chairs? No, of course not, but it is ironic that a Russian satirical story published in 1928 that features greedy men chasing vain ambition should still be so relevant in 2022, almost 100 years later. Maybe some things don't change.

The Twelve Chairs is hilarious. It's got so many belly-laughs in it. Even my sister loves it now, which she didn't when I wrote my Frank Langella and Mel Brooks Unite in The Twelve Chairs (1970) post back in 2016. But it was hard to rewatch it this year, in this moment, at this time. Because the concept is funny when it's a satirical comedy of selfish men, but it's not so funny when the man is someone with what feels like infinite power and what he's chasing isn't jewels hidden in an old chair, but an entire sovereign nation.

Brooks and Langella in The Twelve Chairs (1970)

Kudos to Mel Brooks, that marvelous man of Jewish Polish and Ukrainian heritage who created this movie. He also has a bit part to play as Vorobyaninov's old servant, Tikon, a hilarious role for a hilarious man.

Watch The Twelve Chairs. It's pretty clean with just a smidgeon of vulgarity. Now is the time. 

Note: I didn't make the GIFS, some kind person on Tumblr did.

Slava Ukraini

Monday, March 21, 2022

Homemade Coconut Pecan Cupcakes

My sister had 2 baking tries tonight, one a super weird fail and then this one, a rousing success. She went with her old standby 1950s Betty Crocker cookbook, changed up the flavorings,  and yum, delicious cupcakes with homemade vanilla frosting. My favorite thing about historic cupcake recipes is that the crumb has an amazing spring to it, which you can kind of see in the second photo. 

I wish I could invite you in for a cupcake. Blessings!

Woodworms, barking dogs, The Lord of the Rings, and more

Garfield and I have so much in common. 

It's a blustery day in Colorado so I'm praying that we don't have any trees blow over. That happened right before Christmas with a terrible windstorm. A neighbor of ours lost 3 of their gorgeous trees, part of their fence, and a bit off their roof, so it was some intense wind.

Just a couple more brief life updates.

1) Dad's surgery is going ahead as planned, so that's happening next Tuesday. I know it'll be a long road to recovery but he's pretty tough so I'm not too concerned. And he knows the Lord so whatever will be, will be. He has to have surgery. There is no chance of this healing on its own and he would just continue to decline without it.

2) I had woodworms in a ledge in my bedroom. The gentleman who flipped our house took out the wood paneling along that wall so he must have replaced the ledge as well, but I'm guessing he got a piece that somehow had woodworms. Anyway, that's finally been taken care of. I had to order woodworm killer all the way from England since the US doesn't carry it (at least not that I found). And then I spent about a month feeling guilty at the idea of killing them so my sister finally had to do it for me. Bless her.

3) We had this one set of neighbors who were nice enough but did next to nothing to rein in their bored, barking dog. And they were right along our long fence so being outside was never a fun prospect because he would just bark at whoever was out there. Anyway, they moved! This last week. We weren't close to them so we didn't even know until one day they were there and the next they were gone. It's been blissfully quiet. Lots of houses on our street have dogs, but none of them are as ill-behaved as that one was. So I'm happy they're gone, but also hoping that their move was for positive reasons instead of negative ones. And now we're praying for our new neighbors, whoever they will be, that they're quiet, unassuming sort of people who own either strictly indoor cats or fish.

4) I purchased a new phone. My iPhone has been on its last legs for at least 7 months now, and I've just been forcing it along. I did switch to a Samsung though, and I'm a lot happier with it. The battery lasts so much longer, and I really like the design and format, although it did take some getting used to. One thing I'm not thrilled with is that the 30 or so Itunes that I purchased can't be played on my new phone. I knew Apple was proprietary but this is ridiculous. I won't make the mistake of purchasing anything from Apple again.

5) And finally, I've begun re-reading The Lord of the Rings. With everything happening in Europe, it seems the thing to do. You can read my post that compares Ukraine with the people of Rohan at Helm's Deep if you're interested. But the invasion of Ukraine aside, re-reading The Lord of the Rings is very like coming home. I love the movies and I always will, but the books are superior and The Fellowship of the Ring is my favorite because we spend so much time with the hobbits in The Shire and I love that. There is something spectacular about Tolkien's work that can never be accurately translated to the silver screen. It's timeless in a way that only the best classics are, and with every director wanting to put their own spin on every classic story out there, I'm finding that it's just better to read the books if you want the true story.

And there you have it. Yes, I've been watching Asian dramas (including some Thai dramas so that's been fun), but I don't have the energy to review them right now. I even have some reviews written but haven't snagged screenshots for the reviews and that just seems like too much work. *sighs* I should at least post my review for Buzzer Beat. I need to have one Yamapi drama review on my blog or how can I call myself a fan? I've been watching his drama from 2006 called Kurosagi, which literally translated means The Black Swindler. He's a swindler who eats (or takes down) other swindlers, kind of like a Robin Hood character. And apart from the absurd love triangle thing that cropped up halfway through the series, it's really very, very good. And I can now say that I've seen Yamapi with facial hair (albeit fake) and I hope to never see that again. *internal shudder*

I hope all is well with all of you. May you be blessed this week. ♥

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Work Changes, family update, and overall restlessness


I don't know about all of you, but exhaustion seems to be the order of the day for me. Part of it is the continued reality of Covid and how it is has changed the emotional landscape of all our lives. Now, a large portion of it is the invasion of Ukraine. As you already know, yes, I am in support of Ukraine in this conflict. I can't be anything else. I have an issue with unprovoked invasion. In the words of Captain America, "I don't like bullies." So you'll find sunflowers in a lot of pictures in my new blog posts, just because we can't be allowed to forget what is going on. I also just made a post on Ukraine using Rohan from The Lord of the Rings as an example of what's going on, so you can read that if you want.

But, both the war in Ukraine and the ongoing pandemic aside, a lot has happened in my personal life recently.

FIRST, my new supervisor of less than a year got a new job. I'm happy for her, but her new role came at a highly inconvenient time because of a software rollout we're undergoing. It just happened today, actually, the rollout, and so far, so good. But the last 10 days have been my team trying to ensure that all of the procedures, templates, knowledgebase articles, are all updated with this software change so the departments we serve are equipped. It's been one of the most tiring and stressful experiences I've had since I started this job.

Do I resent her job change? No, but I do resent the timing. 

Thankfully, we pulled through as a team and got everything done. I did work 10 hours yesterday, though, so that has compounded the exhaustion.

SECOND, my dad's having spine surgery at the end of March. It's actually a great thing because he's been having increasing weakness in his legs that are a result of pinched nerves and things in his lower spine. So they're going to go in and unpinch them. He's only 70 so he should have a good many years left in him, but he should have a good quality of life and he can't have that if he can barely walk due to this nerve issue.

So yeah, that's going to happen. I think it'll probably hit me that he's going in for major surgery as the date gets closer. I've been praying for him for weeks, now, as the symptoms worsened, and now it helps to have a solution to what's happening. His surgeon has a stellar reputation, so that's a bonus. But it's definitely been added anxiety.

THIRD, I'm kinda falling out of love with Colorado. That might seem like a minor thing, but it's really not. I'll have been here for 24 years this upcoming October. So it's pretty huge to not love the state where I live. I still love the location because it's beautiful. But, my biggest issue seems to be the people. Now, I don't know if that's more of a "me" issue, but I do know there's been a demographic shift in the last several years, an increase in crime to the point where my sister and I hate going out at night, and there's also street-racing. We had one come down our residential street several months ago, and we live 5 streets away from a main thoroughfare so that should not have happened.

We have to stay at least 5 years so my sister gets fully vested in her pension at her current workplace. But neither she nor I really want to stay here long-term anymore. What does that look like? No clue, but we'll see what happens. Fortunately, our new house is already accruing in value since it is Colorado so I suspect that when we go to sell, unless there's a huge downturn, we'll make a nice amount off it, enough to let us begin again in a less expensive place.

My job can go with me since I can work remotely. Or, maybe I'll find something new to do. Something with books again. Because I miss that.

Who knows, maybe this is just me hitting midlife crisis early. Do women even experience a midlife crisis? It's always seemed like more of a thing that men go through vs. women. All I know is that this restlessness I'm feeling doesn't seem to be going away. I look out the window at my job, right at the Rocky Mountains, and I wish I was on the other side of it. A different view, if that makes sense. The only problem with that mindset is that I'll always be taking "me" with me, so if the issue really is that I just need to deal with restlessness then moving somewhere else won't fix that. The restlessness will just follow me until I figure out why I've got it and deal with it.

So, yeah, there are just a few things going on and a lot in my head and in the world right now.

Monday, March 7, 2022

Ukraine: How did it come to this?

Does this sound familiar to anyone? Never before has Theoden been more relevant than he is today. 

This is where Ukraine stands right now. A tiny kingdom in Europe with its people fighting back invaders.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Theoden King in our modern age. 

Some things never change. Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings as a reflection of the wars in Europe that he miraculously lived through. His experiences, his fears, his anger, everything is reflected in this story. It is not an allegory, but a brutal truth.  

I never thought I would live to see this day come, that another war would threaten Europe. Freedom is at risk. The safety of all free countries is it risk. Sanctions. What good will sanctions do against a nation-eating monster? Do we, at the end of the day, let Ukraine stand alone (I'm talking about sending aid in the form of military might) even though they continue to call for aid and their people continue to die?

If it seems that I'm sensitive to this, I am. 

My ancestors fled from Russia, or rather, the Russian-held duchy that finally won its liberty and became the modern nation of Finland. I visited Finland with my family in 2017 on the 100 year anniversary of their becoming a sovereign nation on December 6th, 1917. I love my native homeland and I know they are next.

What is happening today is a real threat. There is reason to be afraid. And I am afraid. I have family in Finland. I know people with family in Ukraine, Romania, and Poland. I don't want Ukraine to fall. I want it to remain the beautiful, sovereign nation that it has been for decades. I want President Zelenskyy and his family to live. 

The people of Ukraine are brave, have been brave, and will continue to be brave. But it took physical aid in the shape of warriors to beat back the forces of Isengard in The Two Towers, and today is no different.

I get my invasion/war-related news from the UK news outlet Sky News. Which shows how little faith I have in my own media to present the news in a nonpartisan fashion. At the end of the day, the only people that the Russian government is fooling are its own.

Here are some ways to fund aid to Ukraine during this time: 

Project C.U.R.E. (much needed medical supplies and equipment)

Samaritan's Purse (to fund their disaster response team that is already on the ground in Lviv, Ukraine)

And, of course, pray. That's all I've been doing since February 24th. May God have mercy on Ukraine.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Yokohama Ryusei and Yoshitaka Yuriko star in the charming age-gap Jdrama Your Eyes Tell (2020)

Your Eyes Tell

Country: Japan

Year: 2020

Length: 120 minutes

Genre: Romance, Melodrama, Life, Sports, Age Gap

Starring: Ryusei Yokohama, Yuriko Yoshitaka

My Rating

Click to read more of my reviews for Japanese entertainment. 

Many thanks to RJGMan56 Subs for the fansubs! It's because of folks like this person that we're able to watch quality Japanese content with subtitles! You can either stream or download with English subs from their website, go to THIS PAGE!

Former kick-boxer Rui Shinozaki (Ryusei Yokohama) just wants to live his life peacefully, working a job as a night guard for a parking lot complex. He has no real ambition other than to take each day as it comes. Orphaned from a young age, raised by nuns, a kick-boxer as a profession, and then ultimately an enforcer for a local gang, Rui is tired, run-down, hopeless, and guilt-ridden all at the age of 24.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Takahashi Issei excels as the quirky male lead in the Jdrama We Are Made of Miracles (2018)

Bokura wa Kiseki de Dekite Iru

Country: Japan

Year: 2018

Episodes: 10 episodes, 46 minutes each

Genre: Animals, Life, School, Eccentric Male Lead

Starring: Issei Takahashi, Nana Eikura, Jun Kaname, Honoka Yahagi

My Rating

Click to read more of my reviews for Japanese entertainment.  

Subtitles download is available through the fansubber SuG on the D-Addicts forum and you can find the raw video files on JRaws. I'm not giving links, but you can find them if you just do a search by the site names online. 😘 

Kazuki Aikawa's (Issei Takahashi) path chases after the beauty and the mystery of the world around him. As an animal behavior professor who also specializes in fieldwork and is likely on the autism spectrum, Aikawa is almost always late to his class, constantly forgets to take attendance, and takes his students on unauthorized fieldwork excursions. But his love and knowledge of his chosen field spread to his students like a sweet perfume. One particular group of four students, Aoyama (Honoka Yahagi of Itazura no Kiss fame), Shinjo (Daigo Nishihata), Ozaki (Kana Kita), and Suda (Ryohei Hirota), find their lives forever changed for having met Aikawa. To say nothing of Koichi-kun (Waku Kawaguchi) a little boy who happens to meet Aikawa at the dentist and finds a kindred spirit in a man 4 times his age, but who still has the heart of a child.

Dentist Ikumi Mizumoto Sensei (Nana Eikura) has no idea what to make of Aikawa, her latest dental patient. Especially when he compares her to the rabbit in the old Tortoise and the Hare story, but his interpretation of the story has the rabbit running only to look down on the tortoise. So she begins a journey of self-discovery and re-evaluation of her dreams and goals. Before her steps fiercely pointed only one way but now, by degrees, she's turning to follow Aikawa along his path. As Aikawa continues learning to be himself more and more, walking to the beat of his own drum, his light shines brightly, radiating new energy into the lives of all those that his own life touches.

Issei Takahashi is my new hero in  Bokura wa Kiseki de Dekite Iru.

While I don't always walk to my own beat, I do it enough to know that it can be scary to be different. I mean, even my interest in Japan comes across as strange to some folk, but that doesn't keep me from having pictures of my favorite J-pop bands in my work cubicle or bobbing along to their music while I'm working. People are unique. We are not fashioned from the same mold. And we should not be forced to conform to a societal standard that tries to determine what is and is not acceptable in personalities. And as much as I love Japan, it is a nation of conformity. Aikawa shares his society's values to an extent, but that's where I believe conformity should end. Personalities and interests and hobbies should never be looked down on or demeaned or condemned because they're different from the norm. So long as nobody is being harmed and no laws are being broken, people should be able to be who they are freely, but that is just not the case, and that's why Bokura wa Kiseki de Dekite Iru is SUCH an important drama, praising the individual who dares to be different rather than someone obsessed with doing what society expects.

The performances, oh my goodness, the performances!

Issei Takahashi has never really been on my radar. I remember that he amused me in One Pound Gospel with Kazuya Kamenashi, but when I tried watching Kishibe Rohan wa Ugokanai yikes, man, that is a really weird drama. I just could not even get past that first episode, it was so bizarre. But some friends on My Drama List recommended a couple of his other dramas to try since I was sincere in asking, and, here we are, with me being 100% in love with Bokura wa Kiseki de Dekite Iru. Takahashi-san has proven one thing to me. He is a deeply gifted actor with a talent for nuanced expressions. And while I don't believe I will love another of his dramas like I do this one, that's enough for me. He blew me out of the water with his performance and I am eternally grateful. And yes, I do believe I also fell for the smile. Tsundere characters are always so popular in Japanese dramas, that I love it when I find a warmer male lead who smiles ALL THE TIME.

The rest of the cast, while not as marvelous, do mesh perfectly with Takahashi-san, and that's really what counts in the end. Take Nana Eukura-san. I don't always like the character of Ikumi, but I love and respect Eukura-san's performance. She and Takahashi-san have the right type of chemistry for the relationship of their characters. My favorite of the other actors is actually Keiko Toda-san, the wonderful actress who plays Aikawa's housekeeper. I adore her. She's delightful and fun and she and Takahashi-san just went at it with the quips and comebacks. Gotta love it when chemistry just works. I have to mention Honoko Yahagi since she's here and I know her presence might bring in some viewers. She's cute, she's chasing after Aikawa which annoys the heck out of me because it's the student/teacher trope, and, well, that's about all I can say. I don't seek out any of her work since Itazura no Kiss annoys me so much, so I'm not that fond of her character here. Still, if you like her, she does have quite a few scenes and does well in them.

The program itself has excellent, snappy dialogue. Aikawa is a clever man and his mind works in different and amazing ways so he's always thinking and his conversational responses are always so unique and unpredictable. It's just got some supremely brilliant writing, both serious and comedic, so I tip my hat to Atsuko Hashibe-san, an amazing screenplay writer who deserves all of the credit.

Unfortunately, there are ZERO music videos for Bokura wa Kiseki de Dekite Iru. If I made music videos then I would absolutely make one, but I don't, so I can't. It just breaks my heart because this drama so seriously deserves to be immortalized in a music video. Sometimes, the world is just cruel.

But here's the ending theme song by Super Beaver. It's an awesome song for an awesome drama and really captures the overall vibe of the series. And you can go to this My Drama List page to watch the trailer, unfortunately without subtitles, which sucks. ARGH!

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Just discovered Japanese Rock band SUPER BEAVER

One of my absolute favorite Japanese dramas is Bokura wa Kiseki de Dekite Iru (also known simply as Miracles or We are Made of Miracles). I literally had a spiritually transformative experience watching this drama, I'm not even kidding! Apart from the amazing story that absolutely captured my heart, hope, and imagination, the music of this drama is also hands' down, some of my favorite. The end theme is Yokan by the rock band Super Beaver, and OH MY GOSH, I am in love with them!

Enjoy their official music video above. 

Quick question, their lead singer, is he emo? I know there's a difference between emo and goth, but I'm honestly not sure what the difference is, but I know he has got to be one of them. And I adore him. He never hesitates when singing, just belts it out, my favorite type of singer! Love this song and am now in LOVE with Super Beaver!

I already loved the song, but I fell deeper in love after watching them sing it. Here are the ROUGHLY translated by Google translation of the lyrics, which also explains why I love this song, so much of the message resonates with me, particularly feeling emotions without a name and I'm going to see you because most of the time I'm not sure what I'm feeling, and everyone wants to be seen and loved for who they are without having to prove or excuse that their personality has a right to exist.

No matter what happened

I can’t be anyone

Then I want to like it as much as I want

Let’s go meet

Feeling emotions without a name

You don’t need a name that someone will give you

For those who have a premonition For those who are absorbed in heart

There is no right answer, life is free

For those who have a premonition Now for those who want to meet

It’s as if no one else’s eyes were there

Feeling emotions without a name

No matter what happened

No matter what you do

If so, I want to share both sadness and joy

I’m going to see you

For those who have a premonition For those who have a premonition

For those who have a premonition For those who have a premonition

Feeling emotions without a name

There is no need for meaning to force

For those who have a happy feeling

There is no right answer, life is free

For those who have a premonition Now for those who want to meet

It’s as if no one else’s eyes were there

Feeling emotions without a name

Impressed with no name, so that you can properly love the meaning you have noticed in your emotions

Lyrics SUPER BEAVER – 予感 歌詞

Friday, January 7, 2022

Rest in Peace, Sir Sidney Poitier


My dad first introduced me to Sidney Poitier when I was about 16-years-old. We watched Lilies of the Field and I have loved Sir Sidney Poitier's work ever since.

The world has lost such an incredible trailblazer. 

I highly recommend watching his films if you haven't already done so, and here are some of my personal recommendations:

A Patch of Blue (1965) - I can't fully articulate how this movie makes me feel, but it is my favorite of his movies. It explores biracial romantic relationships in 1965 and is absolutely brilliant. There is that blasted open-ended ending that the 1960s loved to use, but the viewer is left with a hope that everything will work out in the end. It was the 1960s, so who knows if that's true or not, but that was always my dream for the couple in this film. Watch A Patch of Blue, be amazed by it, fall in love with it. Here's my review for A Patch of Blue that I wrote back in 2013.

Lilies of the Field  (1963) - The first of Sidney Poitier's movies I ever saw and is my second favorite of his films. He plays Homer, a black handyman who helps a group of German nuns rebuild their chapel. Yep, that's it, the story in a nutshell, but it's so very, very much more than that, and Sidney won the well-earned Academy Award for Best Actor, the first time the award was given to a black man. 

In the Heat of the Night (1967) - I saw this one only once, primarily because I spent the whole movie in profound fear for Virgil Tibbs' life. It is brilliant and I believe everyone should watch it at least once. I need to rewatch it this month. The thing that scares me, even more, is that they had to film the majority of this movie in the north because once when Sidney Poitier visited Mississippi he was almost murdered by Ku Klux Klansmen. I can't even . . . 

Little Nikita (1988) - Another movie I was introduced to by my Dad. This one also stars River Phoenix and deals with a soviet sleeper family hidden deep undercover in the US. It's intense, but somewhat lighter fare since it doesn't really have the same racial tension due to it being 1988 instead of the 1960s. A terrific performance by both stars, and one of the reasons why I also love River Phoenix. It's heartbreaking realizing that both of these magnificent actors are gone.

My prayers for comfort go out to Sir Sidney Poitier's family and friends during this time. May we remember to celebrate the life he lived and the good, good work that he did.