Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween, from Princess Zuryzel!

So, about the second I logged off my last blog post, it occurred to me: Why shouldn't I go as Princess Zuryzel?

I don't know why I haven't done that before, but I haven't. So, this year, I did!

Yes, this year I dressed up as my main character, the Wraith Mouse princess. It didn't quite go as I expected, partly since I'm definitely no makeup artist, but I don't think it's too bad for my first try!

She typically wears blue, not green, but the green shirt there works too, I think. Also, she wears her sword across her back, but I couldn't make that belt work, so it went around my waist. I guess this is how she wears her sword for special occasions, when she doesn't expect to be hiking or climbing or running anywhere! 

Honestly, this was a lot of fun! I also now have a lot of things to think about for Zuryzel in future books.

Happy Halloween, everyone! I hope you had a wonderful time and you let your imagination go wild!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

It's October!

Fall is my favorite time of year, so I'm pretty happy that it's October (school notwithstanding). I'm pretty excited for Halloween, and I think instead of getting a new costume this year I'm just going to add a bunch of accessories to some of the costumes I've worn in the past.

See, that's the thing - Halloween costumes are so freaking expensive that I've only ever bought the costumes, and not the cool accessories that go with them. This year, I plan to wear one of my old costumes, but add some pretty decorations to it. So, since most of my costumes all look like medieval dresses, I'm thinking I need some kind of crown, some of those bracelet-ring combos, and some pretty face decorations.

I should also probably check and make sure that Halloween costumes are allowed at work... see, I'm working two jobs again, and last fall Halloween was on a day when I was at school, but this year it's on a day when I'm at the insurance company. I don't know that their dress code allows for medieval Halloween costumes... Yeah, I need to make sure it does. 

Anyway, if you're wearing an epic Halloween costume that you're very, very excited about, post a picture to my Facebook page (if your parents are cool with that). I would really love to see what all my readers do for Halloween!

And, if you dress up as a character from Darkwoods, I'd really love to see that! ;) 

In other news, I'll have a list of craft shows I'll be selling at soon. I think they're more spaced out this year, time-wise (the first one is in the middle of October), and I'm trying to visit some places I've never been yet. Once I have the complete list, I'll post it here. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

What I Think of the Three Live-Action Fairy Tails I Just Saw

Don't worry, I'll get back to the Travel Blog, but I want to make a quick note of this.

Turkish Airlines has a fabulous selection of movies to watch (including Ant-Man!) and on the list (under the category of blockbusters, incidentally) were Snow White and the Huntsman, The Huntsman: Winter War, and the live-action Beauty and the Beast. I had seen most of SWH before, but never watched it all the way through; as to HWW, I only knew of the two trailers, and I never even bothered with live-action BB, but I heard some very bad reviews about it.

On the trip over, I watched SWH all the way through. It's pretty much everything I expected... Snow White is bland, the evil queen is worse, and basically the only redeeming characters were the Huntsman and William, although I never bought the romance between Snow White and the Huntsman (I actually forgot the Huntsman was the one who was supposed to kiss SW). The plot was a bare bones plot with I think more scenic shots than actual dialogue or story. The comic relief was more stupid than funny. The fairy realm came out of nowhere and made no sense, but it looked cool, and there were a few cool shots of castles and mountains and what have you. Meh.

On the flight back, I watched BB. Obviously I had low expectations for it, but I was absolutely amazed. I clearly underestimated Disney's ability to make a bad movie out of a good story. The biggest problem I had was that every single person (except Emma Thompson, the teapot) very strongly resembled a child's windup toy. How they walk, speak, sing, dress, whatever, all made me feel like I was watching a windup toy display. There was almost no energy and no passion. For example, when Maurice was running away from wolves - wolves! - he does a lot of mild chuckling; I think he yells in fear once. Then there was that scene right after Gaston proposes to Belle, which is practically identical to the original cartoon; in the cartoon, I think that's one of Belle's angriest moments, but in this, Emma Watson just sounds bored. Gaston was the only mildly interesting character, and even then, only sometimes.

Another thing about BB that really infuriated me was the way they handled those crowd conversations. You know how in the opening song, you get shots of these random conversations all around the town, in different places, with different people, thereby getting a wider view of the town? In this movie, they all happen in about four square feet of each other, and between like a quarter of the people. And it's not like they were short on extras, so I don't know what was up with that. It just felt so much smaller and cheaper, and it sure didn't look like they put the same amount of effort in. The other crowd scenes are all pretty similar, but that opening one was the worst.

And finally, one more thing that drives me crazy: the very good ideas they had that were never fulfilled. The one that really gets under my skin was that every time a rose petal fell, part of the castle crumbled and the people inside got a little more like their inanimate selves (the feather duster grew more feathers, the candle couldn't bend his knees as well, the clock chimes, etc.). That is a very good idea that we see happen all of twice in the movie, once when it was introduced and once at the very end. That was it. Also, after it was introduced, the differences were completely unnoticeable for the rest of the movie; the candle's knees wouldn't squeak, the clock didn't keep chiming, the father duster didn't drop more feathers, etc. So basically, it was mentioned, forgotten, I think mentioned once more when they were explaining the curse to Belle, forgotten again, and then becomes part of the climax. Seriously? That was such a good idea, and it was all but wasted! There were a few others as well, but that's the one that annoyed me the most.

Part of the reason this gets under my skin is that Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie. It was also one of the first DVD's we ever bought - I remember about the time my Dad installed our first DVD player, someone gave us Beauty and the Beast and Monster's Inc, and those were the first DVD's we watched. So Beauty and the Beast is near and dear to my heart. This thing that came out is cheap-looking and way below anything Disney is capable of. There are a few interesting things and the occasional interesting song (still sung weakly, but interesting anyway) that made it watchable, but nothing made it good.

Which brings me to HWW. And that was ... actually, it was pretty good. Do keep in mind that I had pretty low standards at this point, but to my utter astonishment, this movie actually had a story. As in, a full story that filled up the movie's run time and even made sense. It's not a particularly contained story, as in, it's all over the place, but the progression from place to place actually worked out. The comic relief was still more stupid than funny, but there was so much less of it, thank you! The villains were terribly dull - they speak in these slow, trance-like voices the entire time, except for the occasional screech from Ravenna. Also, I wouldn't have called this Winter War, because the "winter war" part of it lasts for about 25 minutes. I would have called it Huntsman and the Mirror, or something similar, because the mirror had more to do with the story than "winter war" did, but whatever. And finally, there was a lot of stuff in it that doesn't really belong in a fairy tail... this was definitely a more adult version of a fairy tail than SWH. But, all in all, it was pretty decent - for the low standards I set.

Well, that's it. My plane is boarding - got to go!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!

Today we celebrate Christ's victorious Resurrection, and the promise that our sins are forgiven and after death Christians can look forward to our own resurrection and joining Christ in Heaven.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Credit Where It's Due

The TSA gets a pretty bad rap, and I think a lot of the time it's completely deserved. But I thought I'd give credit where it is due and give a shout-out to the TSA folks at the SeaTac airport this morning. Every one of them was polite, helpful, and respectful. It was especially noticeable to me because I'm something of a difficult traveler - I never pack in a way that lets me take stuff out of my bags quickly and efficiently for security, so I always take a long time. I also ask if I can keep my shoes on to help protect my feet (remember that I have dance-induced arthritis in at least one toe, and sometimes cold tile or pressure changes can make that hurt badly for a while; if they tell me to take my shoes off, I do, but I always figure it never hurts to ask), which makes me an extra pain to deal with. Finally, there was something in my bag that looked suspicious (I suspect it was the birthday present Haleigh's parents asked me to bring to her - I don't know what it is, and it's all wrapped up), so they had to open it to test for dangerous things. 

Well, the fellow who had to deal with me taking a long time was perfectly polite and courteous; the lady I asked about my shoes was accommodating, and the lady who ran the extra test on my shoes was accommodating, polite, and respectful; and the guy who searched my bag didn't make a mess, ran a quick test without being invasive, and was respectful and polite to me the entire time. That's actually something else I should mention - all the agents I interacted with were friendly, professional, and polite. 

So, to the SeaTac TSA agents of this morning: thank you very much for helping to keep us safe and also being professional and courteous. I said it in person, but I'll say it again: I hope the rest of your weekend is interesting, but uneventful.

Now it's off to Milwaukee for Faith's wedding!!! 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Idle Thoughts

I'm on spring break, at least from my classes, so I'm spending a lot of time mostly just relaxing. I'm trying to read some so that I can prepare for Turkey, and I'm trying to find books in SPU's library that are relevant to where we'll be going.

I really am working on Arashna. I don't know at all when I'll have it done, but I am working on it.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

A Return to My Travel Blog!

Lovers of my Travel Blog, I have some exciting news!

Remember last July, how I posted that my trip to Turkey to photograph old Roman roads was cancelled? Well, on Tuesday I heard from my professor, letting me know that there is another opportunity to travel to Turkey for the same project this May! I had to ask around to see if I could get off work and school, and if I'd have done enough school work by then, but it looks as though I will be good to go!

So, starting this May, remember to check out my Travel Blog!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Recent Events

Part of my struggles in posting new blog posts is that most of my life these days is taken up by things I really can't blog about. At the one job at an insurance company, where I deal with people's highly personal information, I really can't share what happens each day on the internet. My other job is working at a school, where I'm around kids, who I'm really hesitant to blog about. It just seems like a bad idea or an invitation for trouble to talk about them to the entire world, (to say nothing of the fact that it's a little disrespectful). But I will say this: on multiple occasions, the kids have said things to me that remind me that a life of serving others is the most rewarding life out there. I'm going to miss those kids when I have to do student teaching!

That's about all I have for now... More later!

Monday, February 6, 2017

There Be Snow!

Hey everyone! If you're in western Washington, you probably heard that snow is shutting down most of the Seattle area, which includes my Monday job. So I'm currently home working on the next Darkwoods novel! I've already made lots of progress - three pages longer! (Trust me, that's lots of progress compared to how I've been doing.)

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Here's a Singer for Fantasy Fans!

I'm so silly - I've been trying to think of something to post about for quite a while now, but I completely forgot about one very obvious topic!

Do you all remember last year when I posted about one of Celtic Woman's music videos? Well, the guest singer in that video is Oonagh, a German singer. I don't know why, but for some reason I didn't really investigate to see what else she sang. I Googled her, which is how I know she's German, and I vaguely remember finding a video of her singing some heavily electronic song that just wasn't my cup of tea.

Anyway, fast forward to last summer, about mid-July. I was listening to Tir na nOg on YouTube, and YouTube's Autoplay, instead of playing more Celtic Woman, sent me to one of Oonagh's videos called Orome. I think I was writing something at the time, so when I heard the opening sounds, you can imagine my surprise. But I listened to the video, thinking that "Orome" really sounded familiar, but I couldn't place it. So I scrolled through the comments on the video, and I came across one comment (from a woman with my first name, no less) explaining that Orome is one of Middle-Earth's Valar! Replies to that comment added that Oonagh sings a lot of the choruses in Tolkien's Elvish!

To put it mildly, I was thrilled. I went scouring all over the web looking for her music, and I found out that, in addition to singing about Tolkien's stories (mostly from Silmarillion), she also uses mythology, legends, and fairy tails. But from what I can tell, most of her songs are inspired by Tolkien.

She had two albums out over the summer, called "Oonagh" and "Aeria"; then in October, she released a third album called "Märchen Enden Gut", which according to Google Translate means "Fairy Tales End Well". Every album a few songs about Silmarillion characters or places, and each one also has a few songs about other stories. So, if you're into fantasy (which I assume you are because you're reading this blog), you might like Oonagh!

The problem is that her music isn't on iTunes, and it's not available for Amazon Music in America, so you'd have to get one of the CD's from Amazon, Ebay, or some similar site. I recommend getting the extended versions of each CD if you can.

If you're curious, here's her Facebook page. There's a link there to a pretty amazing website that plays excerpts from "Märchen Enden Gut".

Oonagh (Attea Ranta)
Aeria (Sartoranta)
Märchen Enden Gut (Deluxe)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

From Twilight to New Moon

So, while I was revisiting some of my old posts looking for inspiration for a new post, I reread a lot of my old book reviews, including the two Twilight books reviews. (Twilight and Eclipse.) In the Eclipse review, I just briefly said that New Moon was enjoyable except for the parts that had Edward in them.

Unfortunately, I completely forgot what I said about the first Twilight, and when I reread that review, I realized I liked Twilight and New Moon for completely different reasons. Twilight had the characters acting like decent people, I wouldn't call it particularly deep or insightful, but there were a few statements and actions that, I thought, merited a little consideration and reflection, kind of in the same way some of those pretty Facebook memes do (just without having to scroll through all the negative that Facebook offers in order to find that one positive thing). You know - not profound, but not bad. Characters were just trying to act like decent people.

New Moon, I enjoyed for a completely different reason, which I feel a particularly strong need to mention because of Bella's idiocy in trying to put herself in danger. I didn't feel the need to mention that at the time because it has been soundly discussed already, and also because Bella realized she was wrong  - she changed. She has at least one scene, even before Edward comes back, when she realizes she was acting selfishly. (As I mentioned previously, she did not do that in Eclipse.) However - given what I said about the previous book, I should probably make the distinction. What I said about the characters in Twilight does not carry over into New Moon. I like New Moon because of the book's atmosphere. There was an element of mystery around the werewolves that really wasn't around the vampires. Even though Bella had to kind of figure out what they were, there was still this scene where Edward just offers up all this information with very little prodding. The werewolves didn't do that very quickly, and I think it made for a mysterious atmosphere. I already knew a lot about these particular werewolves even before I read the book, so I think the mystery in the atmosphere was due to the writing. It was also nice that this book spends more time discussing nature and the outdoors than its predecessor. I think that may be why I liked it - at least, until Alice showed up.

So, that's my summary. I found Twilight pleasant because of the characters, but that does not hold true for New Moon - I enjoyed that because of the atmosphere. Given how irrationally Bella acted in New Moon, I should have made that clear right at first. But better late than never, right?

Monday, January 2, 2017

I Hope Everyone's Holidays Were Great!!!

This fall, I had a plan to post at least one Christmas carol once a week and do a little background research on the hymn's origins. Then I got hit with the reality of school, work, and holiday preparations - and truthfully, I didn't even do that many holiday preparations. Most of the presents I bought, I bought either online or at the craft shows I went to, and I only managed to make four types of Christmas cookies (although, in my defense, they were pretty labor-intensive cookies). I didn't post anything for Advent, Christmas, or New Years because I was just resting most of the time. I watched a lot of TV and anime, and yes, I did work on the next Darkwoods novel.

In any case, I hope everyone had a relaxing and meaningful Christmas, and that everyone is beginning this new year with hope and a refreshed spirit. God bless you all!