“My heart is astir with gracious words; I speak my poem to a king; my tongue is the pen of an expert scribe.” Isaiah 46:1

Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Night At The Theatre

I went to the theatre for the first time last night. So I've had a whole day to mull over the experience. I saw the musical Once with Stuart Ward and Dani de Waal, and it was good. I didn't have some Cher moment like in Moonstruck (granted, that was an opera and a notable one at that), but I did have fun. I laughed, tapped my foot to the music, unconsciously tensed during the emotional scenes, and absolutely couldn't believe it'd ended so quickly. (Just like a foreign film, they never let you see the "true" end.) Afterwards, I bought an ill-fitting t-shirt and half-guilted myself into buying a signed copy of Ward's own album (my sister and her husband are musicians). Honestly though, I count both of these items treasures, tokens of my first visit to the theatre.

I arrived too early. The website told me to pick up my ticket preferably 30 min. before curtain. So of course I got there practically 45 min. early. What a drag. Anyhow, after getting my ticket and, finally, getting seated (in the back and off to the right, btw; student discount), I ate my $5.00 Cliff bar immediately. (There was no way I was going to rustle around trying to tear open that thing in the dark.) People were up on the stage, looking around and buying "spirits." If I'd had more pluck, I might've gone up there, but from where I sat it looked pretty simple to me. A homey set with the walls covered in mirrors and fake candle lights. Simple, but noticeable.

After a while, what seemed like musicians started playing up on stage. Real, grass-roots folk music. Stuff like Rend Collective. I loved it, of course, and thought, "Oh, how nice. They have some kind of pre-show." Well, this pre-show was actually comprised of the actors, and after each one had had a little "solo," this guy (who you just KNEW was the main guy) got center stage with his guitar and swept us away into his music. Just like that, the story had begun.

All the actors were musicians, so they played all the music. When scenes changed, they'd get up from their seats on the side, play a short ditty, wheel around objects on set, and transform the stage in no time at all. It was amazing, and I really enjoyed those bits. I couldn't tell you which song was my favorite, but I really liked "Falling Slowly," "Gold," "When Your Mind's Made Up," and "The Hill."  (After looking up the film, I've come to love "Say It To Me Now.") Honestly though, I enjoyed absolutely every single song, except...

I didn't care for Ward's voice too much. He wasn't bad, but I felt like he wasn't letting it all out. That might've had to do with the microphones because I felt as if he should've gotten "louder" at parts but held back. Dani de Waal's voice was beautiful though. Her voice soared. I wish she had more singing parts. And I loved her costume.

As for the acting, I suppose it was good. Throughout the first act, I kept thinking, "This looks like a play. It looks fake....That comeback, that was too quick. You can tell they're just acting..." and on and on. I hate when I do that. It's like when I start reading a novel and keep thinking, "This is just a book. I'm reading a book. I can't see the pictures." So I had to do what I do when I'm reading: forget the words and focus on the story. Immerse yourself in the characters' world and what's going on with them. And when I did, I enjoyed myself much more. I felt much more.

That said, if this is Broadway, then I think there might be a little hype involved. But who am I to say? This is my first impression, and little do I know of the work it takes to put on a production like that. I think movies give us the idea that certain events or experiences will always change our lives in a deeply emotional way, like having your pet dog die or traveling to Europe or going to the theatre. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don't. I think it's better to drop the expectations and open ourselves up to being surprised. But I digress.

Once was good. The music was captivating, the production original. The jokes were funny, and I felt like falling in love over a guitar, a piano, and a Hoover vacuum cleaner. I enjoyed myself immensely, and if I had money and time, I'd go see it again on Sunday night. I'll just have to settle for endlessly listening to the soundtrack on YouTube and putting the film on hold at the library.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Back to School

In ten days time, I will once again embark upon my journey in that great institution known as University. For two years now, it has claimed me, and Yah willing, it shall again for just two more. I’ve got my textbooks, my notebooks, and all my classes figured out. Now I’m just waiting . . . and hoping and wondering what’s in store for me.

I know I will laugh. And cry. And embarrass myself multiple times. I will awake from nightmares about finals week . . . or spending my last dollar-fifty at a broken snack machine only to find it working for the next guy. I will deprive myself of sleep, nutrition, and sometimes even a morning shower. I will panic. I will gain 5 pounds. I will feel the like world is truly falling apart this time.

But I will also smile, until I look goofy—and I will eat my lunch outside on the lawn. I will root for the home team and, win or lose, buy myself an ice cream cone. I will get A’s, B’s, and some . . . other letters. I will watch the leaves turn orange. I will solve differential equations and forget how to add fractions. I will stay up ‘til midnight, nodding to Phil Wickham and muttering over my homework. I will lose 5 pounds. I’ll give an incredibly intelligent answer in class . . . at least once . . . in my life. I will finish a paper 15 minutes before it’s due and celebrate by procrastinating on the next one. I will abstain from coffee. And I will be that awesome college girl who’s dreaming big and working hard, putting (almost) everything she’s got into earning a big, white and shining piece of paper.

And then it’ll be over. No more deadlines. No more cram, rush, empty, repeat. No more missing my breakfast or falling asleep on the bus or stressing about an upcoming exam at work. 

Yet, even with all that, I'm extremely excited to start this semester. I like pushing the limit and working as hard as I can. I like solving crazy math problems and learning how things like electricity works. I love joking around with my classmates and earning the approval of my professors. I've grown so much while in college. Looking back, I can say that I'm a different person than when I started--more confident, a little bit wiser--and I still have two more years to go. So for a nerdy homeschooled kid, I'd say that was "not too shabby."  

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Keep my heart pure
Keep my heart clean,
Lead me to the valley--
to Your field where I may glean.

I'll take Your hand
Won't let it go
Because You are my Only One,
My Only One and Lover of my soul.

~inspired by the Book of Ruth, Ezekiel 16, and Hosea 2:14

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Liebster Award

First of all . . .

Thank you, Carla from Little Hummingbird! I was so happy to receive your nomination! I love your blog and am so glad to have connected with you!

Here's how this award works:

+ Thank the amazing blogger who nominated you
+ Answer the 11 questions the nominator provided
+ Nominate a few bloggers who have less than 200 followers
+ Post 11 different questions for your nominees to answer
+ Contact your nominees to let them know you've nominated them

So here go the answers:

1. Favorite song?
Oh, gosh, this is an extremely hard one. I like all kinds of music (i.e., Beethoven, My Fair Lady, Coldplay). This week's favorite is "Long Way Off" by Gungor.

2. Winter, spring, summer, or fall?
Definitely spring. Nature bombards my senses with freshness and vitality. I love watching the greens, pinks, purples, and yellows coming back to life . . . and then there's the air. Here in the Arkansas backwoods, every breath is scented with rain-kissed forests and blooming wildflowers. I never get enough of that air.

3. Top five places you want to visit in your lifetime?
   *London . . . I've been in love with the place ever since I discovered Austen and Dickens at the age of 13
   *Israel . . . I mean, it's the Holy Land!
   *Geneva, Switzerland . . . to see the Large Hadron Collider (I'm a physics nerd.)
   *Route 66 . . . does that count as a "place?"
   *Alaska, Australia, Antarctica, or some other extreme, adventurous, edge-of-the-world place

4. Favorite book genre?
Classics. Preferably, 19th century British novels.

5. Least favorite dessert?
Cherry pie--all the gelatin and mush and red and . . . yeah.

6. Poetry or prose?
Prose? I think. 

7. Ideal summer vacation?
Sun, heat, green, water . . . family, friends, heaps of food . . . bicycling, reading, laughing. So a week or two at the lake or a cross-country road trip?

8. Favorite subject in school
Physics, by a long shot. You get to understand how the world works! How exciting is that?! No long, analytical papers on the symbolism of rain in One Hundred Years of Solitude. No dreadful lectures on the convoluted politics of Ludwig von Mises. Physics is just you, Creation, mathematics, and your curiosity. 

9. What is one thing you're looking forward to this year?
My sister's betrothal ceremony!!

10. Who/what are you a huge fan of? Why?
British culture. They eat fish and chips! They talk like they know what they're talking about. BBC period dramas rock, and no one else can claim giants like Christopher Wren, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Horatio Nelson. Brits have been around for centuries. There's so much to their culture! How could I not love it?

11. If you had to describe yourself in seven words, what seven words would you choose?
keen, generous, quirky, critical, hesitant, passionate, quiet

Okay, here are my nominations! Congratulations, guys!
Kelsey at Kelsey's Notebook
Caity at 1 Day in the Life Of

1. Favorite place to eat?
2. Do you like Shakespeare? Why or why not?
3. Apple or PC?
4. What is one thing you love about yourself?
5. What's the craziest thing you've ever eaten?
6. What are 3 skills you wish you had?
7. Favorite movie?
8. Best winter memory?
9. Would you go skydiving with me?
10. If you could say 10 words or less to Elvis, what would you say?
11. What's one of the best things about being alive?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Scientist Makes Revolutionary New Movie

Three . . . two . . . one . . . And we’re–
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you all for tuning in. I’m your host Barbara Roberts, and tonight, we’re covering what is predicted to be one of the most important events ever. In a few hours, an Academy Award will be presented to the celebrated biophysicist, humanitarian, Asian, and now filmmaker, Dr. Ignoramus Phil for his movie “The Corn Made Them Do It,” which gives an ingenious answer to today’s “White Problem.”
I’m here with Edgar Densnow, author of Run For Your Lives Because They Really Are After You, and Agnes Wright, head biologist at the Institute of Science Inc. They’re going to give us the scoop on tonight’s event. Thank you both for joining us. So, Edgar, can you tell us a little about what’s in store for us this evening.
Of course, Barbara, and thank you again for inviting me. (Ever since my book’s publication last year, I’ve been forced to stain my shirts with jam and hide from the police under blackberry bushes. The government’s got eyes and ears even under my bed.) However, I’m glad to be here now, openly celebrating the end of the “White Problem” and the man who’s made it happen. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has planned a five-hour long ceremony to introduce the doctor and then an hour long ceremony to hand him the award. Afterwards, he will give a speech thanking his chiropractor, his mom, his boss, and his garbage man. Such important words. But Dr. Phil is an Asian, so he’s obviously smart; and what’s more, he’s a scientist, so he obviously knows everything. All the way around, I’d say he more than deserves this award.
white guy
I couldn’t agree with you more, Edgar. You’re so very knowledgeable in these matters. And now Ms. Wright, could you explain why is Dr. Phil’s film so important right now, and why do you think it’s winning an Academy Award?
Well, Dr. Phil’s film is very political in nature. As we all know, the African American and Hispanic populations exceeded the Caucasian race in our country a little more than 5 years ago. As a result, Whites began losing their jobs, wearing straw hats, and stealing used cars. Everything was fine until last spring when our president ran the campaign “White Won’t Make You Right.” He called Whites the “trashbags of society” and suggested they take high-jumping lessons. He also said, quote, “From the time they left their toy boats on the coast, they’ve infected the world with prejudice!” End Quote. Almost immediately, Whites began demanding equal rights, like college scholarships for Caucasians and free meals at McDonald’s. The nation has been turned absolutely upside-down!
However, in “The Corn Made Them Do It,” Dr. Phil demonstrates what can be done. In one scene, a Mexican immigrant suggests sending the Whites to Outer Space to make peace with the alien races. The plan is adopted. Scientists create genetically altered produce which produce space-traveling desires and build rockets that fly the Whites to the Moon. And, voila! No more “White Problem!” That’s why Dr. Phil’s movie is so important. It provides our government with a solid answer to the current political situation.
the corn made him do it
Official Photo for “The Corn Made Them Do It”
Excuse me, Agnes. Just out of curiosity. What are mixed raced families saying about this?
Well, if you have one drop of blood in you–you are White. That’s a scientifically-proven fact. Even our former president was mixed raced but only claimed his Hawaiian heritage. However, mixed races genetically have no decision about their race. When they’re children and get sent to school, their classmates vote on it.
I can totally see that. However, many people are also saying that Dr. Phil’s suggestion is just another form of ethnic cleansing and that he’s actually a very prejudiced man. What do you have to say to that Edgar?
We have to understand that Whites are very emotional. They have power issues. Just look at history. They’re always trying to take over the world. On the other hand, Dr. Phil has a background in magnetohydrodynamics from the University of Pyrite and has 25 large-print, double-spaced, gold-inked letters after his name. He’s an experienced scientist with a modern brain and access to the latest technology. We can understand the mistakes of past scientists because they don’t have the instruments we do today. But in this century, he just couldn’t be wrong!
Besides, flying off to Space isn’t dangerous anymore. Like astronauts, they’ll live off of packaged goods and water, which we’ll send up to them every so often. Oxygen can be transported as well. All space pods will have a White technician aboard, so all problems can be fixed. They’ll have no government officials to video them in the bathtub and will have no other races to exterminate. It’s really the perfect solution.
Well, there you have it, ladies and gentlemen!  Thank you so much for coming in, Edgar and Ms. Wright. We’ve learned so much. Tune in after the commercial to watch the beginning ceremony of Dr. Phil’s first award at the Oscars!
[Off Camera]
So, how’d you get this job, Barbara?
Oh, well. The other interviewee was a blonde. She wasn’t smart enough.
(first pic has link)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Marriage, Money, and Manner: the 18th century socialite's perfect disguise

First Off: the zombies
I really couldn’t believe it. From among the pristine archives of English literature, Seth Grahame-Smith chose the prim and proper world of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to infect with those horrid, drooling zombies. In his Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (PPZ), Elizabeth Bennet fights against those putrid undead for her life as well as her heart. Despite the obvious departure from the original, I think Grahame-Smith may have unwittingly stumbled upon an intriguing similarity between Austen’s pristine world and our own . . . basically, the zombies.
In PPZ, the zombies—rotting, crawling, and hunting—are literally there to affect the characters, but in early novels like Frances Burney’s Evelina and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I think the zombies are there too, just somewhat disguised. Like the theatrical opera singers the Branghtons laugh at, those disguised zombies comically flop about in “out-of-the-way postures” but aptly depict the Real World, where social protocol easily masked the emotions on the inside. That said, I think the overall zombie of Burney and Austen’s novels is Society itself—the pretentious persons, the public disguises, the illogical faux pas—who endlessly preys upon life and liberty. I saw it most when the characters faced situations involving marriage, money, and manners.
  • Marriage
In 18th century England, marriage had little to do with love. The sole “business of [Mrs. Bennet’s] life was to get her daughters married,” and business it was. After being groomed to “paint tables, cover screens, and net purses” for 16 or 17 years, ladies were expected to catch a “single young man in possession of a good fortune” within 2 or 3 seasons. However, women like Charlotte Lucas who, at the ripe old age of 27 and with hardly any fortune, usually settled for what they could get (i.e., stupid Mr. Collins) because Society looked coldly upon independent, single women. So, when Elizabeth rejected Mr. Collins and Mr. Darcy, she risked complete censure from Society and, maybe more importantly, the assurance of financial security. Tough cookie, huh?


  • Money
As so we come to the money. Any advantageous marriage needed bribing by a nice fortune. Elizabeth and Evelina got lucky, but most times, puny fortunes and low connections “very materially lessen[ed] their chance of marrying men of any consideration in the world.” With the Bennet estate entailed away, Elizabeth and Jane’s chances waned further though connection to their Uncle Gardiner, a resident of Cheapside who made his living in trade (of all things!). Society just could not forbear such mixing between the wealthy and the hard-working. When Lady de Bourgh hears the rumor of Darcy and Elizabeth’s engagment, she cries, “Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?” Family connections in high society were kept pure, with long lineages of wealthy, noble members. That’s why Mr. Villars worried about Evelina. A innocent, handsome girl without fortune or name was simply . . . brains to flesh-eaters like Sir Clement Willoughby and Lord Merton.
  • Manners
The name of the game was propriety, or at best, the appearance of it. 18th century England was the age of sensibility, the reign of the fop. Following le bon ton (meaning, “in the fashionable mode”), conversation could be “so arranged, as that [people] may have the trouble of saying as little as possible.” Yet, what they did say and do mattered.
Pride and Prejudice revolves around this. Darcy divides Jane and Bingley because of the Bennet’s low social status and, largely, for their “total want of propriety.” In light of Darcy’s own conceit and “selfish disdain for the feelings of others,” Elizabeth rejects his proposal, only later to see her blinding prejudice towards him.
In Evelina, our dear girl is haunted by that ridiculous Mr. Lovel, who she accidently snubbed at a dance, and constantly imposed upon by the Branghtons, Captain Mirvan, and Madame Duvall. Her reputation, “the most beautiful and most brittle of all human things,” constantly comes into question because of her ignorance of Society’s insanely intricate protocol. It’s the ever-polite, ever-graceful Lord Orville who seems the voice of reason in a world where betting on a race between two 80-year-old women is the best alternative to racing phaetons.

However, big money and a weighty title could often override Society’s marble eye. When Evelina meets the forward, but popular, Lord Merton, she’s extremely surprised that “a nobleman…can possibly be deficient in good manners, however faulty in morals and principles!” In other words, this lord could get by with rude behavior, but lower people could not. So, even British high society had its contradictions . . . and favoritism, perhaps?

So What Do We Care?
For those long-dead people Burney and Austen mixed with, Society was a way of life, the ultimate drama performed in front of the world’s stage. The wealthy were pressured to marry for money or prestige, ridiculed for a wage well earned, and ostracized for “the appearance of evil.” Yet, for all that, many of them saw the consequences and still accepted that way of life, convinced they had no other choice. Mr. Villars captured this perfectly when he wrote: “[A]las, my dear child, we are the slaves of custom, the dupes of prejudice, and dare not stem the torrent of an opposing world, even though our judgments condemn our compliance!” Like tottering zombies in PPZ, those “slaves” and “dupes” thrive on forfeited freedom and mindless obedience to however the world tells them to act.

On the other hand, women like Elizabeth Bennet and the satirical Mrs. Selwyn decided to live for themselves. They choose to act within the boundaries of Society while not becoming slaves to it. That’s why I think Society—not the people/characters—is the real zombie. Zombies have no choice. They’re driven to violence and depravity, but as humans, they did have a choice. We still do today. Society still has a set of illogical rules, but it’s our decision whether we fall prey to its demands or not. We can choose to be like Elizabeth, or like Charlotte, meekly submit our happiness to the fools of this world.
Isn’t that the process of becoming an individual anyways? Finding our unique balance between what’s required/expected of us and what our hearts lead us to do? Falling prey to Society’s plague or just playing along? What do you think?

(click on last two pics for links)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Game is On!

            Since Arthur Conan Doyle’s first publication of “A Study in Scarlet” in 1887, Sherlock Holmes has become the most portrayed literary human character in film—a 2012 Guinness World Record. With exactly 254 film portrayals of renowned detective, starring renowned actors such as Basil Rathbone, Jeremy Brett, and Robert Downey Jr., it would seem difficult to create a fresh adaptation without rehashing old material. Yet, co-creators Steven Moffat, producer and screenwriter of the popular television series Doctor Who, and Mark Gatiss, a living dictionary on all things Sherlock Holmes, have done just that. In 2010, they aired the first season of Sherlock, a television series that brought that legendary sleuth to life in 21st century London—a technological city teeming with skyscrapers, cell phones, and black taxicabs.
The first episode, “A Study in Pink,” begins with John Watson, played by Martin Freeman, who has recently been invalided out of the War in Afghanistan and unhappy with life. He finds a source of adventure and daring in the astounding Sherlock Holmes, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who he meets through a mutual friend at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. After an astonishing demonstration of Sherlock’s deduction abilities, John decides to take up lodgings with Sherlock at 221B Baker Street, where he quickly learns about Sherlock’s work as “the world’s only consulting detective.”
I really enjoyed the colorfulness of some minor characters in Sherlock. New Scotland Yard, in the form of Detective Inspector Lestrade and occasionally Sergeant Donovan (who stubbornly refers to Sherlock as “Freak”), grudgingly applies to Sherlock for help in its most puzzling cases. Played by Gatiss himself, the cynical and rather dramatic Mycroft likes to keep a watchful eye on his younger brother Sherlock. He even attempts bribing John into spying on him! Jim Moriarty is Sherlock’s theatrical archenemy, brilliantly portrayed by Andrew Scott. The ultimate villain, Moriarty enjoys “playing” with Sherlock and calling him out, much like in a western shootout.
This younger, more contemporary Sherlock still plays the violin when cases get rough and mopes on the sofa when there’s none to solve, but does have his differences.
As smoking in public has become practically illegal in London, Sherlock is forced to wear nicotine patches, instead of smoking cigarettes or a pipe. He’s addicted to texting and intensely dislikes the increasing public adulation caused by the publication of his cases on John’s Internet blog. Oh, and by the way, the whole deerstalker hat was all a mistake. Sherlock hates how he looks in one.
Unlike previous adaptations, Sherlock gives viewers a vivid insight in the workings of Sherlock’s mind by using fast-paced dialogue and special camera movement. When Sherlock assesses a person or an object, the camera acting as his eyes zoom in on specific details, such as a spot on someone’s lapel or the ring on a lady’s hand. Then, Sherlock’s mental deductions will appear in faint words on the screen, explaining the reasoning behind his seemingly outrageous conclusions.
I thought the best aspect of Sherlock is how Moffat and Gatiss humorized Sherlock and John’s close relationship by playing off today’s issue of homosexuality. Various people throughout the series mistake John for Sherlock’s boyfriend. For instance, when John first decides to move in with Sherlock at 221B Baker St., the landlady—not housekeeper—Mrs. Hudson asks if they’ll be needing two beds because the landlady across the street’s “got married ones.” The mixup often frustrates John as this, coupled Sherlock’s eccentric behavior, often hinders or completely obliterates John’s chances of keeping a steady girlfriend.
With creative twists to the original stories and multi-colored characters, Sherlock gives viewers a whole new perspective into the adventurous world of British crime and deduction. Whether a die-hard Holmsian or not, Sherlock is sure to offer an interesting plot, fantastic deductions, and plenty of humor. Other film adaptations have done well, but this is definitely the perfect Sherlock for the modern generation. The only consolation fans have while they wait (most impatiently!) for the airing of Season 3 is to immerse themselves in previous episodes—and that just intensifies the anticipation.