Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Little Bit of The Phantom of the Opera For You

I apologize for the language…just ignore that...

You're welcome.

Blogger Recognition Award

M'dear Reyna has included me in the Blogger Recognition Award.  Thank you so much, 't'is so sweet of you;)

Rules and Regulations:
~ Attach the award.
~ Thank the person who nominated you.  
~ Provide a link to the original post on Edge of Night.
~ Give a brief story of how your blog got started and a piece or two of advice for new bloggers.
~ Select 15 blogs to nominate.
~ Comment on each nominee's blog and let them know that you've nominated them.

Let's get started, shall we?  

So.  How my blog got started.  Basically, it's the result of months of stalking *ahem*.  I'd been reading and enjoying (but not following for security reasons) several blogs for several months, and I kept thinking, I'd really like to have my own blog.  However, I didn't start one for a long time for two reasons:  1)  Security (again)  and 2)  I think that I honestly didn't think I could "do" a blog.  The blogs I read were so put together and overflowing with followers and witty posts that I didn't think I could do it.  Well, I started with writing a few reviews on Microsoft Word (they were reviews of the first two LotR movies…surprised?) and sending them to a few friends, who gave me positive feedback.  So I approached my dad about creating a private blog for only a select few people.  He gave me the go-ahead, and so, up until about the beginning of this month, "Meanwhile, in Rivendell…" was a private blog, in which I rambled happily (while not realizing how much the writing style of other bloggers was influencing me in a good way).  But then I broached the subject to my dad again, and he informed me that he was all for me making my blog public.  Glory!  So I did, and I have greatly enjoyed the benefits thereof;D  

A piece or two of advice for new bloggers?  Well, I still sort of think of myself as a "new blogger" (even though I've been blogging for about two years, I think), but I'll do my best.  

Pearl of wisdom (*snort*) #1:  Be patient.  Your blog might not take off over night.  But over time, you will gain some loyal followers.  Just wait for it.  And as Reyna mentioned in her post, the best way to gain followers is to first be a follower.  Comment on the blogs you enjoy.  And if you don't have much luck with that particular one, try, try again!  ;D  Another good way to approach the whole followers issue is that you probably won't get waves of followers until you resign yourself to the fact that your blog might not be as populous, so to speak, as another.  

Pearl of wisdom #2:  If you don't get a ton of comments on your posts, again, don't get discouraged.  It'll take a while.  Often, people might be reading and loving your posts but just not commenting.  That's okay.

Pearl of wisdom #3:  You can blog.  You have valuable, unique insights to share!  And even if it feels like no one is reading your blog, remember that you are nonetheless honing your writing skills and processing your opinions in a very practical way!  I'd say, think of your blog as your online journal.  Your online journal that you're comfortable sharing with other people, that is.  Ahem.

Now I'm supposed to nominate 15 blogs.  Um.  I doubt I'll be able to come up with that many…but I'll do what I can.  (And if I nominate you when you're already nominated, I do apologize.)

Kiri Liz at Lianne Taimenlore

Aibhilin at Me, Myself and I

Ashley at A to Z

Miss Laurie at Old-Fashioned Charm

Eowyn at Inklings Press

Kate at A Happy Medium

Davene at Spilled

Kate at Kate Conner

Paperdoll Mom at Haunted Verse

Hamlette at Hamlette's Soliloquy

Well, I found thirteen.  

Thanks again, Reyna!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

My Thoughts on "Bleak House" (2005)

Ah, the miniseries adaptation of Bleak House.  I determined to watch it after I finished the book, so I got it from the library and watched it with my parents.  That is, we watched what we could of it.  Unfortunately, the DVDs from the library were not, um, fully functional, so we actually missed about seven or eight of the fifteen episodes.  I know.  'T'was terrible.  But I was able to fill in the gaps for my parents to the best of my ability, so they at least got the general idea.  (Rest assured that I fully intend to find a way for my parents to see the whole thing.)

My overall impression?  Basically that of Huckleberry Finn:  "They told the truth, mainly.  There was things what they stretched, but mainly they told the truth."  

So here goes.  I'll start with what I didn't like, go to those matters on which I'm undecided, and end with what I liked immensely (by far the most substantial category!) :)

And spoilers, of course.

What I Didn't Like

~ Their interpretation of Mr. Tulkinghorn.

BBC, in my opinion, largely exaggerated the villainy of Tulkinghorn.  In the book he is cold, perhaps; calculating, perhaps, but he isn't basely evil.  In the movie they portray him as someone whose sole aim in life is to ruin Lady Dedlock's.  Which bugs me.  Because it's inaccurate.  So anyway.

~ The whole Mr.-Skimpole-betraying-Jo business

As far as I can recall, Mr. Skimpole didn't give up Jo to the police in the book.  I may have missed that, but I think Jo just ran away.  But regardless of whether that was book-accurate, Mr. Woodcourt and Esther bending their heads together and gossipy-whispering about the evils of Mr. Skimpole seemed quite uncharacteristic of both.  But that's just me.

~ The ridiculously exaggerated, psychological way in which the series was produced

I mean, really?  The weird camera angles, the eerie music - it was as if the filmmakers got together and thought, "Hey, here's a great, non-creepy book.  Let's make a for-the-most-part-good adaptation, but film it in the most psychological way humanly possible!"

~ The absence of Mr. Boythorn

Boythorn was one of my favorite characters in the book, and I hardly saw him in the movie (though, to be fair, I did like I said miss a good portion so I may have missed most of his scenes).  Oh, and I had mentally cast him as the land agent from North and South when I read the book, so I was a little disappointed when it was a different actor (though I really shouldn't have expected to get everything).

Those Matters About Which I'm Torn

~ Mainly Jo's death scene 

I'm not quite sure what I think about Mr. Jarndyce and Esther and Ada being there for Jo's death.  While it was sweet to have so many people surrounding him, I…hmm.  I'm just not sure.  I know I didn't like that Esther "stole" leading Jo in the Lord's Prayer from Allan.  (Yes, I know, that sounded immature.)  But I really loved that Allan was helping Jo in the book, so…anywho.  BUT, peoples, BUT MR. JARNDYCE SAID THE QUOTE "DYING THUS AROUND US EVERY DAY" AND I DIED!!!  That I liked;)

What I Liked Immensely

~ Pretty much everything else!  The cast was all spot-on, the acting was incredible - on the whole it was just lovely!:D  Including these little tidbits:

~ Mr. Guppy

When he came onscreen, I literally squealed aloud "It's GUPPY!"  I love Mr. Guppy.  I just do.  #sorrynotsorry

~ Mr. Smallweed

"That is not the spirit that made this country great, Judy!"  And then, of course, his infamous "Shake me up, Judy!"

So there we are:  Overall I liked it immensely, and I can't wait to watch it all the way through:D

Saturday, January 24, 2015

My Top 10 Soundtracks

For this list, I'm not even going to try to organize them by preference.  They'll be entirely random;)

So!  These are the soundtracks that I particularly admire.  I'll include those which I enjoy the most as a whole, so there won't be as many musicals as you might expect:D  And I'll try to be as accurate as I can, but as we all know, my "favorites" change rather often, so I might not be including all of them.

~ The Prince of Egypt

This album is incredible.  (Though, let's be honest.  It's a collaboration between Stephen Schwartz and Hans Zimmer.  How could it not be epic?)

~ Pocahontas

"Colors of the Wind" is, of course, wonderful, but the spotlight track for me is "Farewell."  It's instrumental with background vocals and it's just…*dreamy sigh*

~ The Parent Trap (1998)

This soundtrack is such a feel-good one;)  "Do You Believe in Magic?" and "Here Comes the Sun" are instant mood-lifters for me.  Listen to them and tell me you weren't smiling, at least inwardly, I dare ya.

~ The Fellowship of the Ring

Because one does not simply leave out Lord of the Rings when discussing awesome soundtracks.  Of the LotR movies, The Fellowship of the Ring probably has my favorite soundtrack, on the whole.  "In Dreams"!  "May It Be"!  "The Breaking of the Fellowship"!  "Concerning Hobbits"!

~ Little Women (1994)

I love the main theme of this movie; it's just gorgeous.  And then the track "Valley of the Shadow" when Beth dies is so achingly sweet and sad and beautiful all at the same time and just GAH.

~ Annie (2014)

"When I'm stuck with a day that's gray and lonely, I just stick out my chin and grin and saaaaayyyy, oohhhh…"

~ Beauty and the Beast 

"Prologue."  'Nuff said.

~ Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Eeeeeep how I love this movie!!!  And its soundtrack is just as wonderful.  Howard Keel's voice...ohhhh.  It's heavenly.  IMHO, that is;)  Though is it not a bit terrible that "Bless Yore Beautiful Hide" is the theme for the entire movie?!

~ The Sound of Music (1965)

THIS.  MOVIE'S.  OVERTURE.  It's huge and flawless and grand and delectable.  I love it.

~ Brave

Both the instrumental and the vocal tracks are lovely, especially "Touch the Sky," "Learn Me Right," "A Noble Maiden Fair" (which is the theme for the whole movie and is stunning), "We've Both Changed," and "Merida's Home."

Honorable mentions go to My Fair Lady (1964), The Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables, A Little Princess (1995), and August Rush.

So there you are!:D

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I Refuse

We're gonna get deep in this post, guys.  (Never fear, my next post will be full of my usual nonsense!)

Today I want to talk about fear, about what I fear, and about how I'm able to conquer fear through Him Who strengthens me.  That is, I don't particularly want to, but I think I should.  Because it's been on my heart and mind a lot lately for different reasons.  (This post will be chock-full of quotes but pretty hard up for pictures.  It'll be sprawling and rambling and probably won't make any sense to anyone but me. And my goal here is to encourage you, not to bring new fears to mind, so please read all the way to the end if you do read it.)

With all the uncertainty of life, especially regarding the terrorist threats leveled at America, I'm easy prey to fear.  I wish I had a stronger mind, or willpower, or whatever.  I wish I could say, along with Éowyn, "I fear neither death nor pain," but I can't, truthfully.  Obviously, my Savior has conquered death for me, and it no longer needs to hold any horror for me, but I do fear bodily pain.  I just do.  And I fear terrorism.  And I fear many other things, such as sickness (yeah, it's ridiculous.  You don't even want to know), and spending my life single (again, ridiculous, and let's not even get started), and what people - particularly people I would like to impress - will or do think of me.

But you know what?

I refuse to be ruled by fear.

God "has not given [me] a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV)  When fear washes over me, God's love and compassion washes over me too.  He has promised us that "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." (Isaiah 43:2)

"I know Who goes before me,
I know Who stands behind:
The God of angel armies is always by my side."
~ Chris Tomlin, "Whom Shall I Fear (The God of Angel Armies)

What have we to fear, honestly?  "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31)  No matter what horror surrounds us, we are safe and secure in the light of the Lord of hosts.  Remember:  Jesus Christ has more power in His little finger than all the hordes of hell combined.  Whatever comes our way, we won't be shaken, no, we won't be shaken!  Ahem.  I didn't even intend to include that quote, but with regard to this issue, I'm blessed in that a storehouse of encouraging and uplifting quotes are readily available in my brain - from the Bible, of course, but also from songs, books, movies, etc.  

Let's take a look at what, scientifically, fear actually is, shall we?  "Fear is a chain reaction in the brain that starts with a stressful stimulus and ends with the release of chemicals." (Taken from the HowStuffWorks website)  That's it.  That's all it is.  Chemicals.  But it feels like so much more, doesn't it?  "'Fear kills everything.'" (Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke)  Why is fear so powerful?  While I don't quite know the answer to that, nor to why we humans are so susceptible, I do know that we have not been left to face fear alone.  Through my worst waves of terror, Jesus has held me:  "Underneath are the everlasting arms." (Deuteronomy 33:27)  When I've felt that I'm too weak, that the fear will overtake me, He has never once lost control of me.  He has guarded my mind through the most intense battles, and He has helped me overcome on countless occasions.  

How, you ask?  Well, first, it helps me to make a mental list of reasons I'm glad to be on this earth (cliché, maybe, but true).  After that?  Quotes, quotes, quotes!  I'm deeply indebted to numerous songs and books for reminding me of these sorts of truths:

"'Dark is the shadow, and yet my heart rejoices.'" (from the Lord of the Rings appendices)

I could list multitudes of quotes, but for brevity's sake shall keep it at that, and include for you two songs that are especially helpful to me as well:

"When You Believe" from The Prince of Egypt

Moriah Peters' "Oh Fear (My God Is Near)"

Sorry for such a "heavy" post.  Don't worry, as I said before, I have much silliness to come later:)  But I think I needed to write this, even if just for me.  Because I want you to know…fear has a much weaker control of you than you think.  Fear can only go so far.  It flees when Jesus commands, and He will command.  So, to paraphrase a line from The Count of Monte Cristo:

Do your worst, Fear, for my God shall do His.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Tag

Reyna Nicole of A Peace of the Past has tagged me in an epic The Hobbit tag.  Thanks, Reyna!:D

Tag rules:                                                                                              

~ You must be tagged in order to take the Q&A
~ You must tag (notify) at least three other bloggers (or whatever they are on) for this Q&A
~ You must answer the following questions to the best of your ability
~ You must have seen The Battle of the Five Armies to be tagged/take the quiz

Oh…and you guys know this will be a spoiler-ridden post, right?  And as always, these pictures are not mine.  And one of them I had to get via its URL which was very strange, and as I haven't done that before I wanted to make sure to note it in case…well, just in case.  Anywho.  Moving on.

Tag questions:

1.  Tell the story of how you came to see the movies or got 'into' Tolkien in the first place.

Aherm.  That awkward story.  You can read all about it in the previous post, the tag I started.

2.  Who are your three favorite characters in The Hobbit trilogy?

Umm…let's see here.

This guy:
Bilbo, because…well…because Bilbo.  And the speech from An Unexpected Journey.  

This guy:  
Bard, because he's just a great guy.

And…I'll say Fili just for the heck of it:  

Fili, because his loyalty and devotion to his brother.  *sniffle*

(Thorin, I wanted so badly to put you on this list, and I would if I had more than three slots.  Just so you know.) 

3.  Did you cry in the Battle of the Five Armies, and if so, which scene(s) and what type (sniffling, sobbing, choke-crying)?

Okay, so I didn't actually physically cry in the theater (though I was close, ho boy, was I close), but LP was a different matter entirely.  (By the way, if you don't know to whom I keep referring when I mention Little Person, check out this post.)  Little Person was DROWNING (well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but only a bit).  The feels and pains were coming thick and fast, and so were the tears.  Which scenes?  FILI KILI THORIN.

4.  Were any deaths compelling to you, and if so, whose?

*chokes* Were any - *splutters*  How can you even - YES!  OF COURSE!  Fili's was just awful because it was the first and you could feel it about to happen and YOU COULDN'T DO ANYTHING TO STOP IT.  (Courtesy of my mother, the thoughts behind that sentence.)  And of course, you could see all of them coming, but Fili's was first, so…and then Kili and Tauriel (even though that whole thing is just so not great), but the acting was just…ohhh!  And then THORIN OAKINSHIELD DIED AND SO DID JUST ABOUT EVERY TOLKIENKNIGHT IN THEATERS NATIONWIDE.  BECAUSE HE SAID IT.  HE SAID THE SPEECH.  (And I'm Most Seriously Displeased with the Internet because for some absurd reason beyond my powers of comprehension, my computer isn't letting me pull up pictures of that most epic-est part.  Google, you're worthless.)  

Only Alice understands the pain…

5.  Overall, were you satisfied with the movie itself?

Definitely, which sort of surprises me since I went into it rather skeptical (having been pretty seriously underwhelmed by Desolation of Smaug), and because almost everyone I've talked with who has seen the film dislikes it.  I don't really understand this, but…ah, well.  There are dreams that cannot BE mysteries that will forever remain unfathomable.  

6.  Describe the movie in one word.  

FEELS.  (I know I use that word far too often.  Hush.)

Thank you so much for the tag, Reyna!!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Tag, you're it!

Guys, it has been a whopping six posts since I wrote about anything Tolkien-related!

This simply will not do, so I have decided to start a Tookish tag ("Except it won't be unusually Tookish, just LotR/TH." "Shut up, LP.").  There have been a few different LotR-related questions swimming around my mind for a while, suggesting to me how fun it would be if they were made part of a tag (likely brought on by reminiscing about Kiri Liz's Middle-earth challenge and lamenting how I wasn't able to participate).  So last night I decided, enough was enough, I was jolly well going to instigate this tag!   

So here goes!  (Oh, and I'm totally going to answer these questions, because it's just too much to resist.)

Tag rules:
~ Link back to the blogger who nominated you
~ Answer questions
~ Tag some of your own fellow Tolkienknights!

My questions:

1.  How were you first introduced to LotR/TH and was it love at first sight/read?

2.  If you could meet the actors who portray the characters in the movies, would you?

3.  What is your favorite credit song from LotR/TH?

4.  The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit - which is your favorite?  *evil laugh*  (And no, you don't actually have to decide.  I'm merciful like that. *magnanimous smile*)

5.  Who is your favorite all-around character?

6.  What is your opinion on Boromir?

7.  How many times have you watched the movies/read the books?

8.  What book is your favorite?

9.  Who is your favorite female character (other than your answer to question #5)?

10.  Who is your favorite male character (other than your answer to question #5)?

11.  Which of the movies, in your opinion, has the best ending?

My answers:  

1.  How were you first introduced to LotR/TH and was it love at first sight/read?

Ahem, so.  As a matter of fact, I grew up in a family who loved Lord of the Rings, but…I had never watched it.  First because I was too young, but then because…I had no interest.   

… *ribbit*  …

I know.  My shame is boundless.  But I eventually watched it…and again, to my (current) horror, I didn't appreciate it the first time around.  BUT.  Ho, boy, BUT.  Then did things ever change, or did they!  Sometime over the course of the next couple months, the scales fell from my eyes and I beheld the trilogy in all its epic glory *cue the chorus of "Amazing Grace"*  So hallelujah.  

2.   If you could meet the actors who portray the characters in the movies, would you?

Hehe, actually, no.  It's just that there really, to me, seems to be no purpose to the idea of me meeting those actors/actresses.  It's not like we're going to become fast friends or anything, so…what's the point, really?  Except maybe Sean Astin (because he's funny and HE'S A CHRISTIAN!!!! *confetti* Not that I don't think nonChristians are awesome people too, because they certainly are, but…you guys get it).  And Billy Boyd (because VOICE).  And…never mind.

3.  What is your favorite credit song from LotR/TH?

"The Last Goodbye" by Billy Boyd.  I have no words.  

4.  The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit - which is your favorite?  *evil laugh*  (And no, you don't actually have to decide.  I'm merciful like that. *magnanimous smile*)

Sheesh.  Why do I do this to myself?  I'd probably have to say LotR.

5.  Who is your favorite all-around character?

Ahem.  *grins*

…I guess you could say it's Faramir.  And no, I DO NOT HAVE A CRUSH ON HIM.  (Seriously, though, I don't.  I know you won't believe me, but God knows the truth, and that is enough!)

"Little Person, if you don't stop smirking at me like that I will hurt you."

6.  What is your opinion on Boromir?  

Boromir is a wonderful person and he is far too harshly judged and I will PROTECT HIM FROM YOUR CYNICISM!!!!  *coughcough*  I'm a bit protective of Boromir, dontcha know.  HE IS A GOOD PERSON, PEOPLE.  May I remind everyone that Frodo gave in to the Ring as well, and would have been lost to the darkness forever had it not been for Gollum?  IT IS NOT A FAULT NATIVE TO BOROMIR.  He is a great man, world without end, amen.

7.  How many times have you watched the movies/read the books?

I've watched The Lord of the Rings twice, all the way through the extended editions, and then selected scenes therefrom numerous times.  Then I've read the books (for both LotR and TH) once.  I've watched each of the Hobbit movies once.

8.  What book is your favorite?

The Return of the King or The Fellowship of the Ring.

9.  Who is your favorite female character (other than your answer to question #5)?

Arwen.  Duh.  Though Galadriel is fast becoming serious competition.

10.  Who is your favorite male character (other than your answer to question #5)?

Hmm, other than Faramir?  I'm gonna have to go with Bilbo.

10.  Which of the movies, in your opinion, has the best ending?

Probably The Return of the King, cuz, ya know, that has like five endings from which you can choose;)

All the warm fuzzies!

The Tolkienknights I'm tagging:

This tag is your mission, should you choose to accept it!!!