Saturday, December 15, 2018

that's Christmas to me

⛧ twinkle lights
⛧ Hallmark tree ornaments
⛧ presents
⛧ lots and lots of Christmas music
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, One Wintry Night, and other Christmas picture books
⛧ poinsettias
⛧ ribbons 
⛧ nighttime
⛧ evergreen trees
⛧ hot chocolate and peppermint
The Nutcracker 
⛧ family
⛧ choir concerts
⛧ people who put a lot of time and effort into their outdoor Christmas light displays
⛧ wrapping paper
⛧ stockings
⛧ hush
⛧ holiness
⛧ piano playing
⛧ sweet treats
⛧ potato soup
⛧ Salvation Army people
The Nativity Story and other Christmas movies
⛧ blankets and pillows and inflatable mattresses
⛧ candles and shadows
⛧ Advent
⛧ scarves and gloves
⛧ icicles
⛧ fires in the woodstove and the smell of smoke
⛧ seasonal headers
⛧ anticipation
The Sound of Music

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Emma Approved {webseries}

I just finished re-watching the YouTube webseries Emma Approved--which, for those of you who don't know, is a modern-day adaptation of Austen's Emma.


It's bright and colorful (literally), funny, sweet, and clever.  It doesn't deviate too much from the original storyline because there's really no need to, but the changes that it does make are tasteful and productive, and the show offers a fresh, new take on the classic.  It has some great character development, fun sets, and good casting.  I think the main thing, for me, is that it just makes me happy.

Let's discuss the characters, shall we?

Senator James Elton is quite well-done, and what's really fabulous is that he ends up with Caroline Lee from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (a.k.a., Bingley's sister--that Caroline). 

Annie Taylor and Ryan Weston are both good, as well, though they don't really have much screen time.  (As a side note, I like that Annie does find out about how Emma lied during the whole wedding situation and that the two of them resolved that.)

Emma's sister, Izzy, is still married to Knightley's brother in this one, but we only ever see Izzy.  The makers took her in a slightly different direction and delved into some different subject matter in making her an unheard, struggling "housewife" and dealing with that.  I think the way they dealt with it was good, in the way that it ended.

Harriet Smith and Bobby Martin are really cute and sweet together and as individual characters.  Harriet, especially, is given quite a bit of development, and we see that she has things to teach Emma, as well, and is not only an inept youngling in need of Emma's "refining touch".  She also doesn't end the story positively worshipping Emma and thinking that she has no flaws.  That's good, because that's a pretty critical issue within the storyline of Emma, and I think that sometimes it needs a little more attention than it receives.  

Maddy Bates is good, as usual; though in this one she's really not that much more talkative than anybody else, so it's even harder to understand/forgive Emma's at-times snide attitude towards her.  But, in the end, that's resolved and Emma learns her lesson (like always), so it's alright. :)

Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill are both well-portrayed.  I'd say Frank is stronger as a character in this one; he doesn't have extremely deep development, mind you, but at least he's fun and this actor seems to understand the character and does a good job bringing him to a modern-day setting.

Jane isn't developed quite as much as one might like, either, and she can also be pretty serious/borderline unfriendly at times.  But she's still good, just not quite as enjoyable as Frank (though I guess that's the point).  

I have never quite come to a decision about what I think of Frank Churchill in general, in any Austen adaptation--he makes me conflicted--but he convinces me of his deep-down-goodness in this adaptation, at least.  And the videos of Frank and Jane together--which I only found out about this time around--are, to borrow a Knightley-ism, "disgustingly adorable."

Next we come to Alex Knightley--or, as this Emma dubs him, "Snarky Knightley."  This Knightley, like most Knightleys, takes a little while to grow on me, but in the end he's great.  In the beginning, he's almost a little too snarky/not funny enough for me, but as the series progresses he starts having more and more adorable expressions and lines and interactions with Emma (more on that presently ;)).  I also like that, while he confronts Emma a lot, he doesn't come across as constantly bashing her decision-making or thinking that he's always better or smarter or whatever than her.  I think that's something that can sometimes tend to dig under my skin a little in other adaptations, so I like that there seems to be slightly more equality in their relationship in this one. 

And last but not least, we have Emma Woodhouse herself--founder of company Emma Approved and therefore a life coach, professional matchmaker, and event planner.  Emma seems particularly insufferable at the beginning of this webseries: she's conceited, condescending to Harriet, and generally just a little Irritating.  BUT, a few episodes in, you start seeing why everyone loves her despite their occasional frustrations with her: she really does want to help people, however much the occasional impure motive may sneak into her machinations, and she's actually quite cute in her type-A, control-freak eccentricity.  

I also feel like this series, possibly more than any other adaptation, gives Emma a very good, very thorough arc.  By the end, I actually feel like she's making progress in overcoming some of her bigger flaws, while her quintessential Emma-ness is still intact.  This version doesn't insinuate that all or even most of Emma's traits are bad; merely that she needs to grow in respect for other people's thoughts and wishes, in tearing down her vanity, and in getting her priorities straight.  Her playfulness, her work ethic, her desire to help others, her ingenuity, her loyalty, her generosity, etc. . . . none of these are depreciated. 

(Plus, she has the BEST wardrobe.  I don't love absolutely every single one of her outfits--and some of her bottoms seem a wee bit short for a workplace--but overall . . . very nice.)

I mean, look at that.

And this brings us to THE BEST PART OF THE SHOW: the portrayal of Knightley and Emma's relationship.  Their banter is fabulous, their honesty is admirable, and JUST EVERYTHING IS CUTE.  

They are adorable, and this is the part where I take up a lot of time and space with gifs and pictures to prove it to you.

Of course, for all this fun, there are some serious parts, too.  For instance, I personally think the Box(x) fiasco is handled well in this one, and Knightley's conversation with Emma has more potency for me because he actually starts getting emotional himself and you can see and hear that better than I think you can see or hear that in any other adaptation I've seen (and I think I've seen most of them).  And then, of course, there's Emma, who's a sobbing mess over there because deep down she's Soft.  

Also, I think the way they end that episode, with Harriet coming in to check on Emma and Emma just begging her to not leave, is really good and provides a little more insight into some potential facets of Emma's character. 

Content-wise, the series is pretty clean.  There's your occasional mild, generic cuss word/taking God's name in vain, plus what I believe is only one instance of stronger swearing.  There may be a little innuendo, but honestly I'm not sure that there is.  (I mean, you find out that someone got pregnant before getting married, but that's all that I'm remembering.)

If you like a creative reimagining now and then, I can't recommend this highly enough!  I know people have strong feelings on Austen ;-P, so not everyone may enjoy it like I do, but it's worth a try.  And if you do try, give it a good try--give it a few episodes to grow on you. ;)

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Movies: Months in Review {October, September, & November 2018}

Clearly I got rather behind with these.  Heh. :-P

Oh, well; we're here now!  (I haven't watched that many new-to-me movies these last few months anyhow.)


Black Panther (2018)
*nodding*  Solid movie, deserves the hype.  The characters are likable and the romance is subtle and slight and happy. :)

{But that villain BUGGED ME, MAN.  [Until my brother pointed out that his motivation for "claiming" Wakanda had less to do with his father and more to do with the fact that he was frustrated with the Wakandan people's isolationism and refusal to extend help to their brethren.  That I get (and it would probably anger me, too).  But the whole, "Oh, my father was killed in defense of another person but still he was KILLED and I was abandoned and therefore I was "forced" to kill hundreds of people to get to this place" . . . mm, nuh-uh.]}

Chicken Run (2000)
Ha.  As much as I'm not a fan of Claymation, this one was entertaining, if only for some of the quirky, British-tinted humor.

[Definitely not one it would have been good for Younger Olivia to watch, however--she would never have gotten over that chicken slaughter at the beginning.  (And honestly, Current Olivia was and is still a little shook up about it.)]

Clueless (1995)
At first I just selected some scenes, but then I caved and watched practically all of it.  It was silly, but it's supposed to be; and it was funny, which it's also supposed to be.

Coffee Shop (2014)
I loved seeing Rachel Hendrix and Jason Burkey again and as a couple (because October Baby), but I gotta say that this was pretty cheesy even for me.  (And I can tolerate a whole lotta cheese in film. ;-P)

Nim's Island (2008)
Not a big fan of this one, but it had some fun parts, and Gerard Butler and Jodie Foster were both nice.

Room (2015)
Whew, okay.  I recently read the book and so naturally wanted to see the movie.  It was excellent, and it made me cry more than once.  I guess it was different, for me, seeing it instead of reading it.  "Powerful stuff," my dudes, powerful stuff.

Seabiscuit (2003)
"You don't throw a whole life away just 'cause it's banged up a little."


The Princess Switch (2018)
I enjoyed the outfits and some of the funny lines in this one ("Prithee, tell"), even though it is pretty cheesy also. :-P

The Shallows (2016)
Why did Olivia want to watch this?  *shrugs*  Management is uncertain.

Seriously, I don't know.  I guess it's because sharks, while scary to me, don't terrify me.  (Because, I mean, if I want to ensure that I never get attacked by a shark, I could just never step foot in another body of water again.  Boom.  I guess I just feel like this is one thing I can so easily control. xD)  Plus, sharks (and practically everything about the ocean) kind of fascinate me, too, even while they give me the shivers.

And this one is more of a survival story than a thriller/crazy-freaky-shark story (at least, to me), so I honestly kind of enjoyed it a good bit.  There was definitely a lot of blood, but blood in itself doesn't usually bother me very much.

It's also a touch corny at times with all the slow motion and everything, but I guess, overall, it'd be a "recommend with caution," from me?
Treasure Planet (2002)
Finally got this one watched!  It's been "on my radar" for quite a while, so I'm glad I can now say I've seen it. :)  It didn't really do as much for me as I'd hoped it would, but I did love Emma Thompson as that captain cat lady.  She was fabulous. ;)  ("Zip your howling screamer.")

(And, man, I hated that spider/scorpion thing.)

Meet the Robinsons (2007) *
(* This is one I actually watched several months ago but forgot to mention in its proper month-in-review post.)

Another animated one I've had on my to-watch list for a long time!  Again, not my favorite as I don't usually like time travel and I didn't love the big plot twists (such as the one with the villain!  though it might grow on me).  But it was fun, and honestly, I feel like Goob is such a mood.

i mean the under-eye circles and everything


Have you been watching anything good lately? :)

Monday, November 26, 2018

Bambi {1942}


Bambi is that movie that everyone knows but few people--at least, so it seems to me--actually watch very often.  And I'm no exception: I think I watched this movie all the way through at some point very early in my life, but for the past fourteen years or so (at least), this film has been nothing but a pop culture reference to me.  Everyone knows about The Big Death, everyone knows that Bambi himself is the quintessential symbol of innocence or whatever, everyone knows about Thumper (and Flower) . . . but beyond those commonplace impressions, I had no real recollections of this film.  So when, several days ago, I checked it out of the library based on a somewhat impulsive whim to see what it was really like from a young-adult perspective, I didn't really know what to expect.  I hoped that I was steeled enough, even in my intensely defensive-of-all-animals heart ;), that I would not be too devastated by the aforementioned Big Death, everyone's declarations that it was a traumatic experience of their childhood notwithstanding.  I wondered what--if any--real plot there was to the movie.  I wondered if it would be rambling and pointless or sad and affecting.

What I found was what is definitely the quietest and most thoughtful of Disney's films.  (That I know of, at least).

True, it isn't strong on plot.  The story is basically just a contemplative look at life for woodland creatures, and would not be very appealing to anyone except those who might be interested in hugely understated, even sparse storytelling that relies heavily on extended periods of silence and delicate visual canvases; or in cute little forest animals; or in both.

That said, for those who are interested, it delivers a unique cinematic experience.  (Wow, way to make this sound super serious, Olivia.)  The film compels you to settle and still, and to simply go along with its meandering flow.  It does have a slightly melancholic bent, but it has moments of springtime and jollification and color, too.

Aesthetically and visually, I found the movie very satisfying.  It's not afraid to spend a deal of time in silence, merely showing the viewer scenes of the forest.  It's a simple film.  It plays with light and shadow and depicts the change of seasons and the process of "coming of age" with a leisure that refuses to be hurried or imposed upon.

I especially liked all the parts with Bambi's mother, and just the way the makers portrayed the mannerisms and "customs" of deer in general.  As someone who has had the pleasure to see deer on a regular basis due to the location of my home, I like how the movie captures the timeless elegance and delicacy and strength of the animal.  Even though we see them all the time, my family and I almost always pause whatever we're doing and rush (quietly) to the window whenever one of us signals a deer sighting.  I think that's fascinating, personally.  For some inexplicable reason, deer have a hold on us humans.  There is such majesty in a buck, such nobility and courage in a doe, and such adorable innocence in a fawn that we just can't look away.  They're breathtaking creatures; and snarky hunting-related remarks aside, I think it's quite a little something that Walt Disney Studios devoted an entire film to exploring and celebrating that.

One hardly need elaborate on the cuteness of little Bambi, but . . . seriously, the cuteness of little Bambi.  (And his friends.)  What is life.

The Big Death does seem to be the climax of the film, with everything following after feeling like a somewhat extended denouement.  But even so, it was pleasant to find that it didn't end abruptly right afterwards, as I thought it did.  And if was nice to see Bambi and his homies grown and thriving (especially Bambi, after his Trauma), even if the series of scenes on "twitterpation" was honestly a tiny bit too semi-sexual for me, innocent and natural though all of it is.  

The end is satisfying and closure-filled, rushed though it may be.  I was really quite pleasantly surprised by this movie, and I wager I'll be watching it again at some point.  It's just a kind of film that I find interesting--though, again, I'll reiterate that I don't think it'd necessarily be worth the watching time for everyone (or even for most people).  Ya gotta have the peculiar combination of interests that I do. ;D ;D  

If any of you do, however; or if any of you are interested to rewatch a childhood movie from an older perspective; or if you're in the mood for a really quiet and somewhat thought-provoking way to spend an afternoon, consider Bambi.  (If for nothing else, than for all the cute widdle animals. <3 :))

Monday, November 19, 2018

Ask Me Anything Answer Videos, Pt 2 || My 5th Blogiversary

Here with the second installment of my AMA answers!  I'm sorry it took me awhile; I ran into some technical surprises (and was also just lazy hehe). ;-P

Anyway, here are the last of them!  Same rules apply as the first part:  most of these (with the exception of the very last video) were filmed quite a while ago and some information may be obsolete or no longer accurate.  Feel free to ask if you have questions. :)

Thank you all so much, again, for your questions!  I had fun answering all of them. :D


~ Answers to Meredith and Tessa ~

~ Answers to Evelyn Louise and Jessica Prescott ~

~ Answers to Natalie ~

 ~ Answers to Faith G. and Vanessa ~

~ Answers to Molly Rebekah ~

~ Answers to Catie ~

"That's all, folks!" ;)  
Thanks again!!!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

My own personal fictional cinnamon rolls.

Howdy, peeps!

You know how when we talk about sweet or adorable characters and flail over them, we sometimes call them "cinnamon rolls"?  They're the characters that are A Little Something Special.  They're a little extra burst of sunshine and cuddles (or, depending on your bent, of storm clouds and flying daggers).  They're the ones everyone universally decides need to be protected from the big, bad world.  They bring this out of us:

And this:

And this:

 And this:

And this:

And this:

You get the drift.

They're like puppies, essentially.  (Or kittens, or baby otters, or whatever Small, Young Animal floats your particular boat.)  They're sugar 'n' spice 'n' everything nice.

Welp, as you can see, I decided to do a post about the fictional characters that have earned themselves the title of "my cinnamon roll".  There are lots of characters I love who are undeniably of the cinnamon-roll variety, but this post is dedicated to a small, core group of those whom I have claimed for myself.  These are the ones that I have taken it upon myself to appoint my especial wards. :-P  They're not necessarily my all-around favorite characters (although a few of them are); rather, they're characters who really embody this confectionary quality to me--the characters who spring to mind when I think, "Who are my cinnamon rolls?"


Loki being all, "Yeah nope you're probably right def best for us to go our separate ways I'm definitely
 not secretly devastated by the thought that you don't want to see me again yep"

Thor + Loki
from the Marvel movies

Loki's been a favorite of mine since the first movie, but more recently Thor has snuck into my heart, too.  And the two of them TOGETHER . . .

Their brother dynamic is one of the most precious things in the Marvel franchise and it needs to be protected with all the passion of thousands of united fangirls.

And, to go on record:  they do need to address the magnitude of Loki's very real sins.  He has killed lots of people.  (So I'm told, I don't actually remember that much of the earlier movies lol.)  As much as I love my precious, hurting, confused son, he does need to own up to and repent of that.  It's just that I personally have faith that he will (even if they don't show it in the movies).

I am firmly convinced of Loki's redemption. :D

But anyways, to return to the brotherhood:  their bond is portrayed so movingly and humorously and heartbreakingly and I'M JUST A FAN, FAM.  The way Thor is blindsided by Loki's betrayal but then refuses to let go of the idea that he is still redeemable . . . *buries face in hands*

Plus, of course, THEIR BANTER is fabulous.  "We are not doing Get Help."  And then their interactions when Thor's imprisoned by the Grand Master . . .

Suffice it to say that Thor: Ragnarok is definitely my favorite Marvel movie, and the only one so far to actually make me happy. <3 <3

(Just noticed that there are a lot of ellipses in this section.  Huh.)


from The Lord of the Rings

MY SMOL BEACON OF LIGHT AMID THE GATHERING DARKNESS.  I wuvs him. <3  (Check out this post to learn more about why.)


Killian + Emma
from Once Upon a Time

Individually, these two are two of my favorite characters on the show, and together, they activate full-on fangirl and mother-hen modes simultaneously.  I love their relationship to bits and pieces (and have already gushed about all the reasons why here), and I also get extremely protective whenever someone tries to mess with the two of them.  (Whiiiiiich is pretty often. *sigh*  All the characters on Once, really, are harassed pretty often.)

Like, for instance, when a Certain Character with "golden" connotations does AN UNTHINKABLE THING to the two of them at a certain point in Season Five.  *very pointed looks*  Hoooooo, boy, I was mad.

(Okay, to be fair, it's not like THAT out of the ordinary--considering how often Things Happen in the show--but just all the various circumstances of the situation, combined with the aforementioned Certain Character's attitude concerning the situation, conspired together to create one Boiling Mad Olivia.)


I guess, if I'm being ruthlessly analytical, Killian Jones is more my cinnamon roll than Emma Swan.  Probably solely because, though Emma is scarred and desperately in need of people to love on her and protect her, I also look up to her in a way that I don't tend to 'look up' to my cinnamon rolls.  Does that make sense?  Like, I'm not saying that I don't admire my cinnamon rolls (see: Shasta); I'm not saying I don't want to be like my cinnamon rolls (see: Faramir).  I'm just saying that the primary, initial reaction I have to my c.r.'s is more of an "I will protect you from anything and everything also you're the actual cutest thing in existence goodbye" type of thing than a "Wow, you're so admirable I need to strive to emulate you more!" type of thing.

Anyway.  Whatever the specifics of my definition, Killian Jones is definitely a cinnamon roll to me.  (And so is Emma Swan.  For sure.  But I guess, again, I'm just trying to emphasize the degrees here.)  In fact, a friend of mine (😜) and I recently figured out Killian's exact identity:  He's a dark chocolate cupcake who's low-key five years old.


('Cause, also, once he starts to grow and mature as a character, he's kind of running around frantically like, "I need to save ALL THE PEOPLE to atone for my past sins oh my gosh where's Swan is she okay also where's her boy and where's my mate ahhhhhh #stressed" <3 <3)


from Leverage

Parker is such a quirky character.  She has her moments of vulnerability and uncertainty (springing from her childhood), but on the whole she's just zany and awkward and content with that.

She's very fond of money.  Not necessarily in an avaricious way; more in an "I really love the actual physical form of currency and jewels and stuff like that" way.

She loves jumping off of buildings in a variety of ways: backflipping, plunging, cabling . . . she'll do any of it, happily.

She has a surprising and endearing affinity for Christmas--and, specifically, snow.

She impulsively tazes people.  And stabs them.  (With serving utensils, but still.)

She has no last name--at least, not one that is ever revealed to Leverage viewers.  (That I remember, that is; I could have forgotten.)

She's fiercely loyal.  Once you have her love and trust, you're going to keep it--and profit by her aggressive protectiveness of you--no matter how odd you are or how checkered your past.

In trying to figure out a good, concise way to describe Parker to the uninitiated, a squirrel suddenly came to mind; and honestly, that's a pretty good illustration.  Parker is like a squirrel.  Her day-to-day mannerisms and movements have a squirrel-like energy, and she has that darting attention span that one can associate with those types of rodents.  She's also just as acrobatic as a squirrel. :-P

I'll reiterate, though, that for all her eccentricities, Parker does have her moments of vulnerability.  She comes from a haphazard past in the foster care system, and she's by no means unscathed.  And whenever some of her scars are grazed by painful reminders, the team around her--the family that life has constructed for her--converges in a telling depiction of the way Parker unknowingly winds people around her strange little finger.

As independent and self-sufficient and big-n-tough as Parker usually acts, she has her own brand of unique sweetness that means that to know Parker is to love her, and to love her is to want to protect her from anything that even hints at hurting her, no matter what.


from Once Upon a Time

Tilly makes her entrance into Once in the seventh season, and GUYYYSSSS.  This girl totally stole my heart.  When she first appeared, I was creeped out.  When she continued to appear in the first episodes, I was kind of like, "ehhh not sure about this one".   But then when STUFF STARTED HAPPENING, she quickly became my favorite new-to-the-show character.

She's fantastic, guys.  She has a lot on her mentally and emotionally, and she's struggling with the confusion of blurred and warped memories (#thankscurse) and the pain of being an outcast due to her quirky nature.  As things get weirder and weirder in Hyperion Heights, her relationships with two father/friend-figure policemen deepen, but she's haunted by a vague and nagging knowledge that something isn't right, that there's something they're all missing, and she's flailing to figure out what as she gets dragged deeper into conspiracies and serial killings and stuff like that.  (The seventh season is a wee bit dark.  Not a fan of all that, heh. :-P)

But she's been conditioned to feel rejected and unwanted and slightly insane, so she's tormented.  It's heartbreaking as she comes to the conclusion that, "Nobody sees me."  She feels so alone and so bewildered.

LOOK AT THAT FACE.  Can you even.

BUT THEN she starts coming out of that.  She starts realizing that some people--some good, loving people--do see her.  She starts realizing that she's "not an orphan; not invisible".  Not insignificant.

And guyyyyssss, it makes me so proud of and happy for her. <3 <3 <3 <3

She just breaks through your defenses and makes you love her, in all her playful and unusual glory.

[Quick disclaimer:  I do disagree with certain aspects of her character (she identifies as lesbian), but I don't think that should change how I feel about her.  If we start loving people less because we disagree with them, I don't believe we're following the example that Christ set for us.]


from The Horse and His Boy

Honestly, if I had to pick one single character who is, to me, the epitome of a cinnamon roll, it'd probably be Shasta.  He's scared and concerned and inexperienced and unfailingly courageous in spite of it all.

He can be all Salty™ and snappy (usually with Aravis lol) but in the end he'll do what needs doing, no matter what.  He's got a strong sense of duty, a fair share of humility hiding beneath the bravado that he sometimes tries to display, and a sweetness and curiosity that make me love him.

He's wonderful, and that is all. <3


And there you have it.  Thoughts?  Comments? ;)