Wednesday, April 26, 2017

hashtag tags

Have y'all noticed that I always seem to combine tags?  Like, when was the last time I devoted a whole post to just a single tag?  I have reflected on it, and have been unable to find the answer.

Ah, well.  As you may have guessed, I have indeed been tagged and awarded, and I am indeed about to fill out both honors.  Many thanks to Hamlette and Ev for them -- I appreciate it, old sports!!

(Also the first, I am very sorry about how I've left your beautiful comments hanging without replies for so long.  Rest assured that they have been read and re-read with the utmost delight and that I really do hope to get caught up on comments at some point in the not-too-distant future.)

(Also the second, has anyone else been having problems with Pinterest lately?  The eye candy in this post will have to be whatever I have in the ol' iPhoto reservoir, because Pinterest isn't allowing me to access my pins.  WHICH IS REALLY FRUSTRATING.  BECAUSE I KIND OF COULD USE IT FOR A GRADUATION PROJECT.  So this post will be all hodge-podgy and eclectic and nothing at all like my usual pristinely organized posts.  Humph.)

(Also the third, has anyone else been having problems with Blogger lately??  It has been refusing to properly interpret symbols like the heart thingy.  WHICH IS ALSO REALLY FRUSTRATING.)

Anyway.  Moving on. 

~ Hamlette's tag ~

Les rules: You must be honest. You must answer every question. You must tag at least 4 people.

1.) What book has been on your shelf the longest?   I truly do not know.  Ella Enchanted is the one that springs to mind, but it could also be Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Perloo the Bold, Doomwyte, 101 Dalmations, or another one altogether.

2.) What is your current read, your last read, and the book you'll read next?  My last read was Shadows on the Grass, by Isak Dinesen.  I'm currently reading Uncle Tom's Cabin for school (I'm not sure what my current read for fun is, since I haven't been doing it a lot lately), and I don't know which book I'll read next.  I HAVE TOO MANY CHOICES.  (Ha, kidding, that's not a thing.)

3.) What book did everyone like, but you hated?  Hermmmm . . . probably either The Great Gatsby or Robinson Crusoe.  To be fair, I don't hate TGG, but I was less enthusiastic about it than some in my class.

4.) What book do you keep telling yourself you'll read, but you probably won't?  Not sure if this counts, but I've been avoiding John Steinbeck's books.  Also kind of William Faulkner's.  And Moby-Dick.  

5.) What book are you saving for retirement?  No idea.  I haven't any specific plans to that end as of yet.  

6.) Last page: read it first, or wait 'til the end?  It depends.  I typically find myself skipping to the end and reading the last line, at least.  

7.) Acknowledgement: waste of paper and ink, or interesting aside?  I like reading the dedication, but that's different than the acknowledgement, yes?  For a few moments there I was confused.  So, anyway, yes -- I like the dedications; the acknowledgements, not so much.  (Unless they're humorously written, and even then I tend to skim.)

8.) Which book character would you switch places with?  These kind of questions stress me out.  I'm pretty sure I take them too seriously, because my immediate thought is "I WOULDN'T GO BACK OR FORWARD IN TIME OR CHANGE PLACES WITH SOMEONE BECAUSE THAT WOULD GO AGAINST GOD'S PLAN FOR ME SO HA!"  0_0  (So yeah, clearly I over-think it.)

9.) Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life? (Place, time, person?)  
I have a feeling that Anna Karenina will always remind me of December 2015, because that was when I read it, whilst recovering from wisdom teeth surgery. 

10.) Name a book that you acquired in an interesting way.  Blogger review programs?  The "take a book, leave a book" thing at the library?  Like Hamlette, the majority of my books are acquired in normal ways. :-P

11.) Have you ever given a book away for a special reason to a special person?  Yup -- I gave a copy of Peter Pan to one of my friends because we had performed a selection from it for a school assignment, and she had never read it. :)

12.) Which book has been with you most places?  . . . ?  The Bible?  I'm not sure, sorry!

13.) Any "required reading" you hated in high school that wasn't so bad later?  
Hehe, well, funny you should mention it -- as a matter of fact, I've been wanting to retry American literature, because when I took it my freshman year of high school (way back in the day, ha), it left me Decidedly Unimpressed (to say the least), and I feel I should give it another try.  But the only book that I read in school and then re-read on my own (that I can think of, at least) is The Great Gatsby, and my feelings on it were pretty much the same.  

14.) Used or brand new?  
Used, all the way!  That is to say, I've nothing against brand new books, but thrift stores have spoiled me, and I can only rarely countenance the prices of brand new books. 

15.) Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?  

16.) Have you ever seen a movie you liked more than the book?  
Hehe, yes.  Probably more than is in accordance with the unwritten codes of bibliophilia. ;D  Let's see (most of these, I enjoyed the books fine, but just liked the movie better, probably because it was the first form of the story I experienced): Wives and Daughters, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables, probably The Lord of the Rings, maaaaaaaybe Little Women?  I don't know.  Book-LW is pretty awesome, too.  

17.) Have you ever read a book that's made you hungry, cookbooks included?  
Cookbooks, yes.  Looking at cookbooks makes me want to cook.  Also Brian Jacques' Redwall series!  (I ought to get the cookbook that goes with that, actually . . . )  And strangely, I tend to get hungry when watching P and P '95.  

18.) Who is the person whose book advice you'll always take?  
YOU GUYS' *showers confetti and beaming smiles upon you*

19.) Is there a book out of your comfort zone (e.g., outside your usual reading genre) that you ended up loving?  What have I read that's out of my comfort zone? . . . Does The Aeneid count?  I wouldn't have thought I'd enjoy it, but I did.  Parts of it did get *ahem* a little dry, but overall . . .  I think a large part of it was just the particular translation I had, though.

I tag . . . 
Kate Marie
Abby P.

And anyone else who wants to do it, of course :)

~ Ev's award ~

1.) Do you have any family heirlooms?  I use a little container thing of my mother's for hair ties and clips in my bedroom.  Does that count?

2.) Opinion on Letterwriting?  It is probably "an excellent practice," and I really ought to be more prompt about it. 

3.) Do you prefer tea, coffee or cocoa?  Cocoa, please!

4.) Whats your favourite childrens story?  Peter Pan.  :)  Because reasons.

5.) What movie or Period Drama ending really frustrated you? And how would you change it?  *cracks fingers*  (not really)  WELL.  I guess if I'm going with just one, the ending of Dear Frankie.  THAT MOVIE HAD SO MUCH PROMISE.  And then that ending was just . . . ugh.  How would I change it?  I'D FIX IT, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.  (Meaning What's-His-Name wouldn't just walk off into the alley and away from Frankie and his mom, and What's-His-Name and Frankie's Mom would end up together.  DUH.)  Circle of Friends' ending was also very irritating, but that whole movie was just . . . a topic for another time, let us say. 

6.) Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?  Don't ask someone who's about to graduate from high school that question!!  (I have ideas/Hopes & Dreams and all, but I don't really wish to discuss them. :-P)  

7.) What makes you nostalgic?  Springtime. (Especially cherry blossoms and the scent of lilac and honeysuckle. And freshly-mown grass.)  The opening music of the Mariel of Redwall audiobook.  Just thinking about The Dear Old Days Gone By Forever, Never To Be Spoken Of.  (Among many other things.)

8.) If you had to describe yourself as an animal, what would it be?  I really want to find out what my spirit animal is, actually!  But I don't know. :-P

9.) If a loved one was to serenade you, what song would you most like them to sing?  
Haha, I'd probably just blush and feel Extremely Awkward.  In fact, and I hope this doesn't sound ratty of me, I think I'd rather pass.

10.) If you could change your name to anything what would your new name be?  
Maybe Arwen? (No, seriously.)

11.) Whats your favourite biscuit to dunk?  
You know, I typically don't actually like dunking my cookies.  Sometimes I'll dip Nilla Wafers, ginger snaps, or biscotti into milk, but other than that I rarely dunk.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

"Tale as old as time . . . " | | Beauty and the Beast {2017}

Before I begin this review, I would like to draw all of your attentions to the fact that today is the birthday of a very special person: Miss Jessica Prescott.  I've had the privilege of counting Jessica as a friend for a while now, and it is such a blessing to know her!!  (To which I'm sure everybody else who knows her will attest! ;D)  Jessica's a very active, encouraging part of the blogosphere (happy face), even though she doesn't have a blog (sad face), and she's always available for encouragement and fun and general friendliness.   Happy birthday, Jessica!!!

And now, the review :)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Okay.  Okay.


Y'all, I don't even know how to handle life begin this review.  I guess I'll just go for it.

First things first, however.  If y'all would not read this until after you have seen the movie (if you're planning to see the movie), I'd really appreciate it.  Not because I'm concerned about spoilers (much) -- after all, I'm assuming we all kind of know the storyline of BatB -- but because I know from personal experience that there is nothing like hype and gushing for ruining a movie-watching experience.  And I may or may not engage in quite a bit of hype and gushing in this review.  So.  If you are looking for any content warnings or wondering what my opinion is on The Certain Controversial Issue (ahem), I guess you can just skip to wherever I announce that I am about to talk about The Certain Controversial Issue?   But otherwise, if you know that you're going to watch this, puh-lease don't read this review just yet.  Of course, I can't stop you, but it'd mean a lot to me if you didn't.  Okay?  'Kay, thanks.  

Moving on!  (Also:  this is long.)

I went to see Disney's live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast in theaters on March 19th, 2017, with my parents and a friend.  (I don't know why I felt the need to let you in on those specifics, but there you are.)

I went into it with fluctuating expectations -- for one thing, I love the 2015 remake of Cinderella so much, and how would BatB be able to compete?  For another, the BatB people had a more substantial starting point in the animated film than the Cinderella people, and didn't that kind of make it both easier and harder to follow it up with a "real people" version?  Also, I had been uncertain from the beginning as to what I thought of the casting of Emma Watson as Belle -- mainly just because I hadn't seen her in anything (but always kind of connected her to Harry Potter), and because she didn't really "look like Belle" to me in general.

So, all that to say, I went in trying to prepare myself to be let down by the movie, to be honest.  After all, though I did -- of course -- like and enjoy and appreciate the animated version, it had never really been a favorite Disney movie, for me personally.  

But, um . . . 

I kind of loved it.  A lot.  

I don't actually know how to express it.  You know how I/we flippantly say that this or that movie "brought joy" to our souls?  Well, this movie actually brought me joy.  Not exuberant happiness (though it did that, too), but the same deeper, quieter, throbbing joy that I experience when I watch the end of The Lord of the Rings -- wistful and longing and thought-provoking.  I'm being totally serious.  This may sound improbable, but I don't know if I can place a movie that has affected me in that particular way, given me that particular, clearly distinguishable feeling, since Lord of the Rings.

(Of course, I realize that this movie may not -- probably will not -- affect everyone the same way it affected me.  And that's fine.  But I wanted to share with you the way that it did affect me.)

I should get on to the "actual" reviewing part of the review, shouldn't I?

Emma Watson very soon won me over.  Even now, looking at her just in the stills, she doesn't really look like Belle, to me -- but it's when you see her in the movie itself, acting . . . that's when you get it.  She does Belle VERY well.  She captures her courage and her intelligence and her sense of humor and her sweetness and her non-pretension and all that.  (Side note:  It was about to drive me crazy that her skirt was hiked up for so long, but then my mother pointed out that the makers were probably trying to reinforce the whole idea of her being absent-minded and what-not.  So that's actually kind of cool.  But still.  I'm glad her skirts were worn normally after awhile. :-P)

Dan Stevens' Beast was also quite good.  More on that later.  

The household staff!  Hearts forever.  I particularly enjoyed Ewan McGregor's Lumiere and Ian McKellen's Cogsworth, and the camaraderie between the two of them. :)  Also, the little boy who played Chip?!  When he was human?!  Major cuteness alert.  

I also really like Kevin Kline's Maurice.  Having him as more "level-headed" and more of a painter than an inventor turned out better than I thought it might.  

I wasn't quiiiiiiite as sure about The Wardrobe (ain't no way I'm going to try to spell her real name out) and Maestro -- they were cute and fun additions, but perhaps got a leetle too much screen time?  I'm not sure.  Lemme think about it. ;)

Okay, so, Luke Evans' Gaston.  ALL THE YES.  Bombastic, ridiculous, and arrogant -- Gaston to a T.  

Some of his lines, though (I'm probably paraphrasing):  "No offense, Agathe." ~ "She hasn't made a fool out of herself just to gain my favor.  What would you call that?"  "Dignity?"  "Well, it's enormously attractive!" ~ "You've read it?"  "Well, not that particular one, but -- books, yes." ~ "Think about the war, think about explosions and widows . . . "  "Ah, widows!"

Luke Evans does a good job of making Gaston almost likable . . . until he punches Maurice and *semi-spoilers* ties him up to be eaten by wolves *end of semi-spoilers* and then you remember that he's a legitimately Bad Guy.

I suppose now would be as good a time as any to get the Talk about the Controversy out of the way (I only have that phrase in a bigger size in case anybody is coming here from my pre-review warning). *sigh*  (Spoilers for a minor plot element follow.)

So.  Some of you may know, some of you may not know (I myself did not know until the night before I went to see it) that BatB has incited controversy and, I am told, boycotting, because of the fact that LeFou is gay in this version.  

Yes, I find this unnecessary and unfortunate, given the fact that I believe homosexuality is contrary to God's Word.  However, I do not think that this negates the substantial value in the rest of the movie.  For starters, it's "a minor thing."  LeFou's homosexuality is by no means the focal point of the story.  Also, since LeFou is historically a rather ridiculous character, I don't honestly feel that making him gay is that much of a "triumph for the gay community," or anything like that.  Now, granted, they do give LeFou more depth in this version, as well (which I like).  I don't want to try to persuade you to go and see it if you've decided, for conscientious reasons, to pass on it, but I do want to say, for the record, that it did not lessen my love for the film.  It is restricted mainly to some insinuations and, to be honest, some making fun.  And *semi-spoilers* during the final number of the movie, LeFou ends up dancing with another guy (who was "presented" as a gay character during the storming of the castle -- another rather irksome two seconds). *end of semi-spoilers*  That's it.  

Right, that's taken care of, thank goodness, and we can move on to cheerier subjects!

There are so many little details that I love in this movie -- one of the things that delighted me was when the staff shows Belle to her room, and an instrumental snippet of "Home" (from the Broadway musical) plays for a few moments.  I was geeking out for a second there, hoping/thinking she was going to actually sing it.  I suppose I'm okay with the fact that she didn't, though it would have been fun to hear/see. ;D

The Beast's new number, "Evermore," was nice.  I will admit, my first impression was that "If I Can't Love Her" (also from the B. musical) would have been better, but then I realized that it wouldn't really have worked, chronologically speaking, since he already did love her at that point.  (Plus, they were remaking the Disney movie, not the Broadway musical.)  As I've thought about the song since (and seen various Pinterest edits *ahem*), it has certainly grown on me. ;-P  And Dan Stevens' voice was unexpectedly powerful!  As were all the cast's voices, for that matter -- I was pleasantly surprised when Emma Watson started to sing the first time.  I had, I confess, in my condescending, musically-"educated" way, expected a nice-but-not-really-that-great voice.  But I thought she sang really, really well, and serves my arrogance right!

Adding the scene where they go to Paris and Belle finds out what happened to her mother was a great touch.  I liked how the Beast (calling him Adam doesn't seem natural) didn't try to hide the doctor's mask from her, and how he didn't try to make her feel better with "extraneous talking."  It gave a good glimpse into how they would work together as a couple. :)

The makers hit the nail on the head with re-envisioning the Disney movie, I think.  They added enough new bits to keep the watcher from thinking they were watching the exact same movie all over again, yet they didn't try to change it too much, either.  They all seem to know how important the animated version is to so many people, and they respected that.  (For instance, having Belle see the Beast talking with the horse when she sings the line "New and a bit . . . alarming . . . "?  Gold.)

I liked how they gave the Beast a backstory so that we have an idea of how and why he became the way he is.  I liked this Beast better than the animated one overall -- I think maybe they gave him more depth in general.  Also, the very beginning of the movie was cool.  I felt that the narrator (was that Hattie Morahan?) spoke the intro a little too rapidly, and it was a little different having a woman's voice rather than a man's voice do it, but I appreciated how they made the opening period-correct.  It was a little disturbing seeing Dan Stevens in all that French makeup, but it was cool to have that nod to accuracy even in a fantasy movie. :)  

And speaking of Hattie Morahan, the sub-plot of Agathe/the Enchantress was great!  I had forgotten that H. M. was going to be in it, so that was a fun surprise. :)  And, of course, it was cool seeing her opposite Dan Stevens again, because Sense and Sensibility '08. ;D


They included the Belle-looking-into-the-Beast's-eyes shot after he became human again, and it was fabulous.  Such a neat parallel to the animated movie, and such a powerful part in general!!

And then they were reunited with the household and we got to see everybody's human faces and there's just a lot of happiness. :D :D

lurved the wedding dance.  Can we talk about the growl?!  "How would you feel about growing a beard?"  *growl and subsequent giggling*  IT MADE ME SO UNREASONABLY HAPPY. :D  

Aha!  I have cast support on this! ;D  

Like I said, this movie captivated me and gave me joy -- like, actually.  And since that Sunday afternoon, I have been a little afraid that the next time I see it, it won't mean as much; that it'll have lost its luster.  I'm afraid it won't uplift me in the same way again.  

But I think -- given the feelings I got just from writing this review and finding pictures for it and recalling favorite parts -- that it will. :)

Friday, April 7, 2017

15 Reasons to Believe in God's Awesomeness towards Us Humans

* stars and moon through cherry blossoms

* stretching when you wake up in the morning

* county fairs

* thrift store book hauls

* hopes fulfilled

* chilled apple juice when you're sick

* spring & summer

* looking forward to things

* music on portable devices

* realizing that He's actually helping you to love Him & to want to be with Him

* authors

* nostalgia

* puppies

* babies

* thoughts