Thursday, April 28, 2011

Methinks I love Dickens (and as a bonus, you will discover where they're taking the hobbits!).


I finished reading Nicholas Nickleby late last night, and absolutely loved it!

I think, because of a time shortage on my part, I'm going to mash my review on The Hunger Games and Nicholas Nickleby together into an upcoming post ;) I promise, it's coming!

But anyway.....

*confession*

I read the book only because I had heard of a good film version, and very much wanted to see it because of.... the casting...... *coughs* I shall refrain from saying more. Dear mother almost never allows us to watch films based on books unless we read the book first.

So, almost grudgingly, I started reading the book.

But what resulted was an eternal love of Dickens, chocolate, and Smike. Nicholas is automatic.

In lieu of a review for a moment, let me just say that I enjoyed Nickleby more than any book I had picked up in awhile. If you haven't read it, I highly urge you to!

At any rate, here is the trailer for the version that I'm watching this week:







And as a bonus......

I found this uproariously hilarious, or else completely annoying, LOTR spoof. I can't stop chuckling over it.

(The POTC 'I've got a Jar of Dirt' vid like this is hilarious too.)






See y'all later!! I'll be back with a review or two, and an acceptance speech!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Abby Has Just Declared...


There is nothing more awesome than sitting on one's bed nibbling at the ear of a chocolate bunny while reading Dickens. 

So there. 



;)

Thank You Jesus





Dear Jesus,

Thank you for dying for me.

Thank you for washing me clean by your precious blood.

Thank you for your resurrection and the hope of eternal life.

Thank you for providing reconciliation and a new relationship with you.

Thank you that I'm forgiven.

Thanks for conquering death.

Thank you for an amazing, blessed Easter church service. 

Please help my feet to recover from wearing those heels.

Thank you for your love. You're amazing.

Love, Abby



"He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said."
~Matthew 28:6

Happy Resurrection Sunday, all you lovely people! :D


Friday, April 22, 2011

And the world considers it foolishness.


Why do we call it Good?

Today we remember that our God and Father sent His son to die for the sake of someone else. To pay for someone else's debt that they could not pay. To pay for crimes He did not commit.

Whose sin did He pay the price of blood for?

Yours. Mine.

Today we remember that our Lord was beaten to a pulp, even beyond that, and led as a lamb to the slaughter because of us. Because He is so in love with us, He faced death for us.

Jesus is the ultimate hero.

The one completely innocent person to walk the earth, was sentenced to a brutal, brutal death with the weight of the whole world's sin on His back.

Why?

Because of love. And God is Love.

Why do we call it Good that He was whipped and pierced and cut and bruised beyond recognition? That He was forsaken by His companions, betrayed, and scoffed at and mocked?

Why do we call it Good that the God of the universe died on that bloody cross?

Why is that Good?

Because God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, so that whoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have eternal life.

It is Good, for us, because God through His son bridged the gap between humanity and Himself. Because reconciliation was made by the precious blood of Jesus Christ.


But it all would have come to naught if it ended there, at the Cross. There would be nothing good at all about the suffering and humiliation and execution of Jesus if it ended with His body laid in a tomb to rot away.

No...


It is Good Friday, because Sunday is coming....

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In which I read a book to be knowledgeable about a movie...


Anybody else read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins??

I recently finished reading the very first book of the trilogy.

My goodness, it was good. {review coming soon}

I had previously read another series by Collins, "The Underland Chronicles," and I enjoyed those very, very much.

I had heard about The Hunger Games, but hadn't quite brought myself to read them yet.

Then I started hearing movie buzz, casting choices, etc., etc., etc.

Oh my! They're talking movies now! It's about time I'm in the know, by golly!

So, I bought the book, read the book, loved the book.

Now I can be a top authority on the upcoming films.

*chuckles*

I'll get an in-depth review to y'all soon, but here's a brief thing on The Hunger Games:

It takes place in a futuristic version of North America, where the world we know is mere ruins, and the land is now called Panem, which is a mercilessly ruled empire. There are 12 districts, and to keep the districts under control, every year two tributes are chosen from each district, one boy and one girl, to participate in a fight to the death known as the Hunger Games. Our main character, Katniss Everdeen, volunteers as tribute to save her younger sister. Things get complicated from there as a romantic relationship starts to evolve between her and the other District 12 tribute, Peeta Mellark, which certainly hampers things when you realize they're going to have to kill each other later.

While violent, I didn't find the book to be as graphic as I felt other readers made it out to be. It definitely earns it's PG-13 rating for the upcoming movies, though some people have said that to depict it properly it would need an R rating.

But I digress.

Anyhow, is there anyone else at least mildly interested in The Hunger Games? Looking forward to the movie? Because like everybody else and their dog, I am starting to have opinions about the growing cast list, but I don't want to post about that if none of you actually care ;)

(Seriously, though! They've already cast three whole districts, and I'm worried about their choice for Peeta..... but I think Rue and Glimmer were cast perfectly. :P I'll stop talking now.)


So please, speak up! I want to hear your opinion :D

Sunday, April 17, 2011

April's Beautiful People


Oh dear.

My writing is dying. Feels like it anyway.

I'm working on finishing my NaNovel, for the sake of finishing, and then I'm tearing it apart and re-writing it. I'm sorry, dear characters, it's not your fault-- but I hate my story. It's not your fault, I promise.

But yeah. I hate my novel. However, I'm going to finish the job I started and then I'll be free to re-do the entire thing. (can't wait!)

Anyway, now that I've said that...

While my novel/plot/storyline may be a disaster, my characters are alive and well. Good thing it's Beautiful People and not Beautiful Novels, etc... *coughs*

With that, here's the April edition of Beautiful People. (see the button in my sidebar if you're curious about it.)

Character of the month: my dear MC, Ronan Chance.


1. How old is he?
He is fifteen years old at the start of the story.

2. What does he do in his spare time?
Dreams? Haha. Well, actually, there's a big, big old tree just outside his village, it sort of hangs over this little creek, and he loves to climb as high as he can and sit, and in the mornings he has a spot with his back to the west, and in the evening before/after supper he has another spot where he sits and watches the sunset, and just sort of thinks a lot.


As well, there are plenty of lads in the village in the vicinity of his age, and cause all sorts of fun mischief in their free time.


3. Does he see the big picture, or live in the moment?

You know..... he's one who knows what he wants to do in life, but he takes things as they come, and while he will try to get to where he wants to be to a degree, he won't force his way there under normal circumstances-- he likes to play his life by ear. He's pretty laid back in this respect.

4. Is he a perfectionist?

As far as his craft goes (he's currently a blacksmith's apprentice), he tries to do his best but isn't afraid to admit fault or imperfection. 
But for himself as a person, he is harder on himself than most, and he is very determined to be very deliberate in everything he does, and, because his da really has hammered this into him because of his own past, to never do anything that he would regret later.
So, he is a perfectionist in certain respects, but he's a pretty low-key guy overall.

5. What does his handwriting look like? (round, slanted, curly, skinny, sloppy, neat, decorative, etc)

When he does bother to write, it's meticulously neat, not exactly calligraphy but definitely precise, and pretty round. 

6. Favorite animal?

He likes to play with is best friend's dog, which is a mix of a hound and something else, they don't know what. Also, he likes horses, takes to them easy. But animals aren't exactly the first thing to be on his mind. Oh-- and in the future (Shut up Chance, no questions right now!) he will enjoy falconry immensely, and may in fact find a close companion in his bird.

7. Does he have any pets?

Nada. Poor lad. 

8. Does he have any siblings, how many, and where does he fit in?

If he had any, they would be half siblings, but none of them are revealed at this time and honestly,  I really don't think he has any. 

9. Does he have a "life verse" and if so what is it?

You know, I've been thinking about this.... and honestly, no verse has actually stuck out to be to be for him yet. So yeah, I'll let you know when I find one :D

10. Favorite writing utensil?

What is there? Quill pen, charcoal stick, dust on a plate of armor...... whatever works and is available. 


Okay guys, there it is for you :D If you haven't joined this yet, you really should!!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Articulation and how I'm learning to succeed in it.


You know, sometimes, there are those books that are really good, you love them, you would encourage people to read them, but you can't, for the life of you, tell anyone what made it so good or why you liked it so much??

I don't know. Maybe you folks are way more succinct than I am. I don't know.

But yes, that would  be me, a lot of the time. Half the time I can't articulate a single thought to save my life.

See, my family went to the bookstore the other day, and I noticed The Wednesday Wars on the shelf.

"Oh, that's a really good book. I really liked it." I say, gesturing to it.

One of the guys who works there was talking with us about various books, and after I mention The Wednesday Wars, he asked me what is was about.

"Um... uh... it, er, hm....." I'll spare you the gory details of my very shameful attempt at talking about the book. Even though I liked it and knew what it was about in my head, when it came to articulating my thoughts, I failed miserably.

Later on at home, me and my dear mother were discussing the, herm, incident. Dear mother noted that I would have to do something about that. It's not just with talking about books that I have trouble.

(Because, you know, a good director has to be able to articulate things. *nods* Very important skill.)

I admitted that I can, in fact, articulate. I just need time. Heck, most of the reviews on this blog have taken several days, sometimes a week and a half to complete, because I have to gather my thoughts and actually think about the book/movie.

Mom noted that reading shouldn't be "plow the book up and then toss it aside," but that one should think about it, chew on it a little bit, etc. Not that I always plow through books, but I certainly don't analyze them very  much, or think too much about them in that sense. *hangs head in shame*

"Why was it so good, Abby? What did you like about it??" Mother would ask.


I ought to know these things.... not necessarily off the top of my head, but it shouldn't take me days to formulate a coherent answer.

Which prompted an idea.

What if I kept a notebook by my bed (I read mainly right before, or in place of, sleeping.) and after putting down my book(s) for the night, jot down notes: what the story was about, what impacted me, what I liked about it, things about the characters, word choices, anything!

We both decided it was a good idea. I was very excited :)

SO.... I found a notebook, *coughs* titled it most importantly in my genetic doctor handwriting:

from Hereon after,
 this Notebook shall 
be USED
for my observing and studying
of the
BOOKS
and other worded documents
that I shall read,
to
heighten and train my
abilities
of
articulation

A completely inarticulate title. *shakes head* Even if it makes no sense, it got the point across... I think. :P  

Anywho, so. Now I have a place to organize and articulate my thoughts while reading-- hopefully it will help my skills in processing information and quickly being able to articulate and communicate it. I might even use it while watching movies, too.

In my sidebar now, actually, look for a section called, "From The Notebook," 'cause I'll be posting little snippets from my notes every couple days. :D 

Now, I could probably talk about the first two or three chapters of Jane Eyre without very many "um's..." and I could probably tell you the entire plot of One Good Knight :) Of course, I won't do that right now, but I'm just saying.... having a place to put those thoughts while they're fresh is really great.

Anyway, if you happen to have trouble making sense of your thoughts and communicating things, then I highly suggest getting a notebook, or a Word Document on the computer, or some other way to be able to jot down thoughts conveniently as they come, and while they're fresh... because it is definitely helping me. And it doesn't even have to be for the books you're reading-- it could be for anything!

Well, I hoped that helped. And if all you took from this jumbled-up post was that I need serious help in articulation, then that's fine with me. It's true.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Oh. My. Word. (aka First Video from the set of The Hobbit!)


YES. Yes.  YES.


'Tis the first video from the set of The Hobbit, my friends, with Pete himself walking us through the different departments of pre-production, as well as the days leading up to Day 1 of shooting, and the beginning of that wonderful, celebratory day.





So, no, no clips per se, though we do get to see a take of Bilbo picking up the Ring for the first time (squeal!!), and we get to see some blocking with the dwarves in Bag End.


Enjoy, my friends.



(video courtesy of ComingSoon.net)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

For my Script Frenzy Friends.... (and a question for my readers)



Here's an outside-of-the-home-base procrastination station ;)

If you don't know what Script Frenzy is, it's the sister to the National Novel Writing Month challenge. Instead of writing a 50,000 word long novel in 30 days, you have to write a 100-page script, be it for TV, film, whatever, within the month of April.

Crazy right? I would be doing it too, but I'm still working on my NaNovel from last year, and I have two screenplays in the works right now anyway.

Anyway, Frenziers: (did I just coin a term??)

I found an article on the Writers Guild of America site with a list of 101 Greatest Screenplays. To my knowledge, they aren't exclusively Oscar-nominated screenplays. But my guess is they're just considered very well-written screenplays.
(Disclaimer: I have only seen 2 of the 101 movies included in the list, those being Star Wars and The Princess Bride, and I'm not taking any responsibility for anything offensive found in said screenplays.)
And besides, I don't think the list was so much 101 Greatest Movies and it is Greatest Screenplays.

However, anyone who's interested in reading screenplays (it definitely helps when writing one!), the list has no links to the screenplays, but later in this post I'll have a link list, including some sites where you can read screenplays.

***

Oh, question for the readers... (I now have a poll in the sidebar, just 'cause I want to hear your opinion, but this question is a little more specific.)

I know most of my dear followers are more of the bookish variety than those who are interested in the cinematic variety of storytelling. However, would y'all mind if I post more stuff concerning movies and screenplays and the like? Would I make the lot of you feel extremely lost? Would I be speaking gibberish to you? Or, would screenplay/movie talk be useful/handy/helpful to anyone? Let me know in the comments, please!

***



Okay, back to my Script Frenzy friends. Here's some linkage:


Click here for the link to the WGA 101 Greatest Screenplays list.

The following are links to screenplay sites, in no particular order:


SimplyScripts.com (This link goes straight to movies scripts, but at the top of the page are links to other types of scripts. Click on the name of the film to read the script.)

Daily Script  (Again, this link goes straight to movie scripts. Click the name of the film to read the script.)

Internet Movie Script Databse (IMSDb) (This link goes to the homepage. It's a very large script database. You can scroll through films, and to get to the script, click on the movie title, then on the following info page, look for the link that says, "Read {movie name} Script."

***

Whew! All that linkage was exhausting :P

Lemme know if you find other sites that are better-- I'd love to know about them!

Alright, hope that was helpful folks. Don't forget to check out the poll in my sidebar :)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Another Lord of the Rings Moment

(click the last picture to watch the entire ending of FotR on Youtube. The video starts with Frodo standing on the shore holding the ring in his hand.)


"Go back, Sam! I'm going to Mordor alone."

"Of course you are. And I'm coming with you!"

"Sam. Sam, you can't swim!"

"Sam!"






"SAM!!"

















"I made a promise Mr Frodo. A promise!"

"'Don't you leave him Samwise Gamgee.' And I don't mean to. I don't mean to."

"Oh, Sam."




Choosing Their Religion - PluggedIn.com

If you have five or ten minutes to spare, please read this thought-provoking article from Plugged In.



"Today’s teens can program their iPods to play only the songs they like, bypassing record-company executives and radio programmers. With TiVo they are in control of what they watch and when, no longer at the mercy of TV executives and advertisers. Meanwhile, they’re getting their news from Internet blogs that tell them basically what they want to hear, no longer relying on traditional news channels layered with editors. 

It’s hardly a surprise, then, that many teens are forming their religious worldviews with the same mentality—by picking and choosing among things they like and leaving the "hard" stuff behind, largely without the benefit of traditional gatekeepers such as teachers and pastors.

That is one of the disturbing results uncovered by sociologist Christian Smith of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who headed 2004’s National Study of Youth and Religion, which surveyed more than 3,300 13- to 17-year-olds throughout the country. 

I Consume, Therefore I Am
Smith, who also co-authored Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, said that a primary driver of teens’ pick-and-choose religious beliefs is a society that sees people as little more than consumers. It’s a culture in which personal choice is supreme and what’s right for you is right, period. While it’s one thing to buy corn flakes that way, such thinking has dire implications when framing theology."

Continue reading:

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Guardian's of Ga'Hoole Movie Review



I watched this film about a week ago, at home on DVD. A friend had enthusiastically told us (me and my younger siblings) that it was good and we would love it. So, we watched it!

And I absolutely LOVED it.


I've come to a theory.
You can get away with a lot of things in animated films that would be the death sentence for any live action film. You can have weird-paced dialogue ("weird" for a live action film), you can introduce characters after characters like the world's going to end tomorrow, and the things that would come across as cheesy in anything live action like exposition dialogue, etc. you can have in an animated film.
And sometimes, it actually works very well, and you don't even realize that those things would be awful, if it were a live action film.

Don't get me wrong: I love this movie. It really got me for some reason.
But I was just fascinated by the fact that this film, if it had been about people and not animals and live action, would have failed epically. 
Needless to say, Ga'Hoole is based on the first three books in a series by the same name (I believe), and cramming three book's worth of content into, what: hour and a half, two hours, is a challenge for anybody. But me, having not read any of the books beforehand, and actually (this is extremely rare for me) not having read up on the film or watched clips/trailers or read a lot of reviews (anything I heard was from friends who had seen it), I felt like they did an amazing job.


Welcome to the world of Aussie-accented owls, adventure, intrigue, and the ability to stretch your wings and take to the sky. 


From the get-go, this film just spews truth and uplifting, amazing things. In the early dialogue, Soren's father is telling all three of his owl-kids (two of them are too old to be called owlets...) stories of the Guardian's of Ga'Hoole, saying how their duty was to "mend the broken, make strong the weak, and vanquish evil."


If I wasn't won over before that, you can bet I was when I heard those words. How can a movie go wrong teaching that?? *big grin*


Soren, the main character, was great. He was in some ways the very stereotypical naive young hero, but as well, he had a level of genuineness about him. He is, in essence, a dreamer. Which I think any of us can identify with- be it daydreaming or dreams of aspiration. He's a dreamer and is in love with tales of heroism, and legends-- sorts of things that are unseen, but he has faith in. 







Seriously, though, I don't know what it is about owls, but having a story completely in a world of animals, and especially a particular kind, gave it the same charm that Redwall has (though I do admit the old TV show has something lacking....). It's a new set of beings to explore and experiment with in the film medium. Very fascinating.


I think the requirement to study the owls and tell them apart by their markings and height, etc., was part of the reason for my extra attention. But it does draw you in, slowly and surely, no matter what level of attention you give to tell apart the birds. Visually, the movie is totally eye candy. It was a pure joy just to watch (and I sorely regret not seeing it in 3D in theaters-- it actually would have been worth it!). And I was thankful that the joy didn't stop with the visual effects. 



The characters, while they may not be three-dimensional, as characters go, they were very fun and diverse. The voice casting was excellent as well. Each character was incredibly unique, even the antagonists were individually interesting.


As far as the story goes, some might call it cheesy, but again, being about animals AND being animated, I felt like it was perfect. It didn't seem rushed and was rather out of the box, and fresh. By that I mean it wasn't a carbon-copy of Star Wars ;)


I love that while Soren wants to be a hero, and though he is the main character, he doesn't become this great big hero who takes care of the bad guys single-handedly, everybody looks up to, he's their only hope, etc. etc. Rather, he goes on this mission to find heroes, not become one, and he's shown what it really means to be one. I thought that was really, really neat. 





I have nothing truly criticizing to say, except that some people may get tired of the slow-mo moments. I know Zack Snyder (the director) is big on slow motion and pulls it off well in some films, but a few sequences in Guardians seemed inappropriate for slow motion. Other parts were pulled off well enough though. 


And need I say the graphics are amazing?


***


Possible concerns:


There is some violence, though mostly bloodless, and as well, there's this thing called moon-blinking, and it's what happens if an owl falls asleep under the light of the moon, and after they wake up, they;re just not the same. (In the film, the pupils of the moon-blinked owls turn a weird pale color.)


While I didn't find it disturbing, my almost 10-year-old brother did suffer from nightmares the night after we watched it. Just to warn you, in case weird things like that would frighten your children/siblings.


As well, there are these mysterious blue flecks that contain energy and is used to wreck havoc/destroy good owls because evil owls set traps. Also, slightly frightening for younger kids, possibly. Any child who found Sith lightning terrifying wouldn't like it ;)




As well, there is only one use of the h-word, but I think it's used appropriately. Soren is reading the Ga'Hoole chronicles, about all the battles and wars and such, and he says (or something of the same gist) to the owl who recorded everything, "You know, these don't sound anything like the way my dad told them. He made them sound so heroic and great and wonderful, but this sounds like..." and the older owl finishes for him. "Like hell?"
And it's true, about war and all. The word wasn't used as cussing, so I was alright with it. 

***





And besides that, who couldn't resist a movie with an Owl City song smack-dab in the middle of it? *cheers for Adam Young*


I came away from the film happy, satisfied, inspired, and feeling like I had seen something with serious heart put into it. The film felt very, very genuine and earnest, and it shows. *applause for the filmmakers*


Anyone up for an adventure, a diverse fellowship of owls, discovery, dreams, and a stirring tale of what it means to be a true hero, none of it to be taken too seriously, please go watch The Guardian's of Ga'Hoole.


Anyway, there's my two cents (or more) on The Guardians of Ga'Hoole. 


Did you see it? How did you feel about it?


PS, they left the ending open for a sequel, seeing as there are more books. Anyone up for a sequel? It'll beat Percy Jackson 2, in my opinion.