Friday, December 21, 2012

I SAW THE HOBBIT.

And it was....pretty glorious.  Not perfect, but I am not disappointed in the least.  I don't really know where to start in reviewing it, especially since I feel like by now y'all have heard it all a million times.  Oh! It was also the first time I've seen a 3-D film.  At first it seemed a little weird, with moths flying out at me and stuff, but after a while I got used to it and appreciated it.  It does make things more realistic.  It also makes it easier to *cough* hide unobtrusively from the scary orcs.

This is me when there were orc closeups. Take the glasses off, orcs go bye-bye and there's just a bunch of blurry movements.
 Okay, actually, the orcs weren't as scary as I remember them being in the Lord of the Rings films.  I really did make them nice and blurry a couple times, though - just cause they're so gosh-darn ugly.

Spoilers ahoy and fangirling ahead.  Motorists, proceed with caution.

Speaking of orcs, that is one thing I was not super happy about.  As most of you know, the whole Azog thing was not in the original book.  He was killed, by Dain, I believe, but I guess the producers wanted to have a present and tangible villain.  It makes sense.  I didn't mind for most of the time, but I felt the deviation from the fifteen birds in five fir-trees scene to be dramatic license overkill, just to bulk up the drama.  The pathetic "fight" between Thorin and Azog was just not necessary, and to have Gandalf either heal Thorin or bring him back to life (which it was, I couldn't decide) just doesn't make sense. If he could heal like that, why didn't he heal all those who fell in the Battle of Five Armies, and later, Faramir, Eowyn, and Frodo in The Lord of the Rings?  The only good thing that fiery Azog/Thorin/Bilbo fight scene did was to give Richard Armitage a chance to melt his poor fans with his ability to act pain and dismay with such heartbreaking perfection. All the man has to do is look.
 Also, I wish they had kept the original Hobbit way of calling them goblins instead of orcs.  The "orcs" in The Hobbit are a bit different than the LOTR ones, and anyway I just like the word "goblin."

I didn't realize it while I watching the film, but they really cut a lot of good dialogue.  What happened to "I am Mr. Bilbo Baggins, and I have lost my dwarves, my wizard, and my way?"  That's just one example. Of course, I do understand that as I was not personally consulted by the producers (an insufferable slight, but what can I do?), I cannot blame them for skipping my personal favorites.  They've got a lot of fans to please.  BUT.  They added dialogue, some of which made me laugh, some of which I found quite unnecessary, so why couldn't they keep more of the original dialogue?

The trolls were actually better then I expected, but the...er...use of Bilbo as a handkerchief was just flat-out gross.  I don't know why they had to do that.

One more thing before I'm done complaining.  Radagast.   Though we hear next to nothing about him in the books, I'm sure Tolkien didn't mean for him to be a dirty, mentally unstable kook.  In my mind, Radagast was a clean-shaved, brown-haired, introverted man who just quietly went about the job of being a steward of the forest.  Also, I don't see why he had to meet up with the dwarves.  I was hoping to just see Gandalf go to visit him and talk about wizardy stuff, and I do hope that he's not going to replace Beorn, as Rosamund suggests.

Well, that's all for my complaints.  It looks more extensive than it should be.

I actually didn't mind the little White Council meeting at Rivendell.  Galadriel looked gorgeous and wasn't as creepy as she usually is.  Also, I didn't see the supposed flirtation between her and Gandalf as a flirtation at all, just friendship.  I think it could be interpreted either way.

Another deviation that I actually liked was the insertion of Gollum's split-personality problem into the riddle-game.  I especially enjoyed how he kept telling himself to shut up.  I feel for you, Gollum.  My internal monologues go kinda the same way.  And, I never thought I'd say this, EVER, but his expression when Bilbo's about to smite him was really almost heart-wrenching.   Another thing I loved about the Gollum encounter was the line "if Baggins loses, we eats it whole," accompanied my a matter-of-fact shrug.  And then Bilbo replies, "Eh...fair enough."  I LOVE IT.

That brings me to the Hobbit himself.  Guys.  I don't think they could have found a more perfect actor for the part then Martin Freeman.  He was just Bilbo all over, exactly how I imagined.  Of course, there was a certain act of almost-disloyalty which was not true to the character at all, but that is not Mr. Freeman's fault.  I just can't get over what perfect casting it was.



 I'm going to be just be honest here and say that yes, I do find Fili and Kili to be annoyingly attractive.  I like that Kili's not just a pretty face like Legolas, though - his character actually has depth.

Speaking of attractiveness and perfect casting....THORIN.  You knew this was coming, internet.  As a North & South fan, I can't help but be a Thorin fan.  Richard Armitage plays the role to PERFECTION. (Chills-inducing voice, check.  Glowering expression, check.  Regal bearing, check.  Ability to convey volumes with a look, check.  All-round awesomeness, triple-check.) I was a little worried as to how he was going to be transformed into a dwarf, but I had nothing to worry about.  There's an internet meme going around about Thorin's majesticness (which isn't even a word), and I think that just about sums it up. Thorin is majestic.  He's just...gah.  I always loved the character (and would cry at a Certain Tragic Event which will happen in the third movie), and then to bring Mr. Thornton into it was the icing on the cake.  Absolutely perfect icing, too.



Now for my very favorite aspects of the film: the music and the scenery.

They did a lovely job with creating the right atmosphere for each place...can I just live in them all at once, please?  Bag End was so homey and cozy, you could definitely see why Bilbo missed it on his Adventure.  It was the nicest home a hobbit (or a human) could wish for.

Then there's Erebor. (Quick note: wasn't Erebor the Elves' name for Lonely Mountain? Why would Thorin, who hates Elves, use the elvish name for his home?) I've never been able to imagine what the Mountain looked like in Thror's day, so I was uncritical.  And it was breathtaking, as was the astounding amount of gold.  In a story with goblins, elves, wizards, and dragons, the amount of gold was the only thing I couldn't believe.

The sweeping panoramas of plains and mountains and green fields just made me want to book a plane ticket to New Zealand on the spot.  It was beautiful.

Then Rivendell.  Once again, I don't know what to say.  It was just lovely.  All the little waterfalls catching the moonlight and the sunrise...just...ahhh.  The sunrise scene especially was just unbelievably lovely.

And finally, the music.  They included Crack the Plates and, of course, the beloved Misty Mountains song from the book.  I did miss the tra-la-la-lally song from the entrance into Rivendell, but I am not surprised that they omitted it, as it doesn't quite fit with the more solemn portrayal of the Elves in LOTR, and thus with Peter Jackson's portrayal of them.  Once again, if they had consulted me....
There's also the fifteen birds in five fir-trees song that the goblins sing, but since the fifteen birds were stuck in one tree, it wouldn't have made sense.  Also, I'm not sure I really wanted to hear goblins sing.  It might have given me nightmares for life.

I thought that the Crack the Plates song was well done - rowdy enough for a bunch of rather unmannerly dwarves, but with a melody that made it pleasant to listen to.  As a matter of fact, I thought the whole dish-washing scene particularly well-done.

I needn't even say how lovely and perfect the Misty Mountains song was, especially since it would include more squeeing over a certain individual and his voice.  I shall simply say that it was just as I had always imagined it and I can't think how it could possibly be bettered.  That's saying a lot, too, because I've always loved it to bits.  They carried it over instrumentally throughout the film, which I think was a perfect artistic decision, as it conveys the sense of the deep longing and sadness of the dwarves for their lost homeland.  And of course it sounds gorgeous.

I haven't even actually seen all of the three LOTR movies, but when they played the theme Concerning Hobbits I could have cried.  I love that theme.  Howard Shore is wonderful.  The end.

*dies of excessive fangirling*

I think I shall go before I embarrass myself further.  Long story short, the book is always better, but the film was very lovely and OBVIOUSLY good enough to warrant an excessive post such as this.

Oh, wait.  One word of warning before I resume dying.  As you may have noticed, I'm a Tolkien fan.  You're probably a Tolkien fan too, if you've read this far.  However, if by some chance you're not, I will say that the film will not be as bright and shiny and perfect to a non-fan.  The thing is three hours long, people.  My dad, who, unfortunately, is at best a casual fan, was not amused.  So if you're not a fan, consider carefully.  If you are, and you haven't seen it yet, WHAT IN MIDDLE-EARTH ARE YOU WAITING FOR?  Four-and-a-half out of five stars, and I'd say suitable for ages 13 and up.  If you've seen LOTR, you'll be fine.  We didn't take my eleven-year-old sister, and I was glad we didn't.  There's nothing sinful, just what the rating association calls "disturbing images."  LIKE ORCSES.  AND GOLLUMS, PRECIOUS.

*resumes dying*


Editor's note: re-reading this review-ish thing, it is not as good as I at first hoped.  However, I shall not continue to edit it cause life calls.  So sorry if I am at all unintelligible or uninformative.  It's hard to make sense when you're dying of an excess of fangirling.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Life and Stuff

I haven't posted in over a week, and yet I'm still getting lots of views every day.  Wow.  That makes me feel a bit guilty.

So, this is just your regular I've-been-super-busy-blah-blah kind of post, I'm afraid.  I've been finding schoolwork rather overwhelming and so haven't had the mental energy or creativity to write up any posts.  Also, IT'S ALMOST CHRISTMAS.  HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?  It feels like Advent should still have like three weeks left.  Despite the nearness of Christmas, let us not forget that it's still Advent, and thus still a penitential season.  It's not time for cookies and carols quite yet, but don't worry - we Catholics have over a month in which to sing and eat sweets, because Christmas technically doesn't end until February 2nd.  (And yes, I do use that as an excuse to eat extra dessert during that time.)  Also, just want to remind y'all that the O Antiphons started today.  Last year I made little graphics for each day and posted them here.  I'm reminding you because I've gained many more followers since then, and I was rather proud of my O Antiphons and thus want everyone to see them. :)  (Speaking of followers, a warm welcome to my new ones! I'm amazed that so many people will follow such an inconstant blogger.)

In other news, I might be getting to see The Hobbit this week, so I'll hopefully write a review-ish thing of that.  Hopefully.  I can't wait.



Well, happy Gaudete Sunday to you all!  I'll be remembering you all at Mass next week as a peace offering for being a bad blogger.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Appreciating Persuasion

So a couple days ago I got to thinking about Jane Austen's "most mature" novel, Persuasion, and I realized that I've really changed towards the story since I first read it five years ago.  When I first read it, I thought it was a bit boring (FORGIVE ME, I WAS TWELVE) - it’s a  story about an introverted, very-old-to-preteen-me, not necessarily pretty woman whom everyone walks all over and treats like dirt.  Basically, Cinderella with no mice or pumpkins or princes who instantly fall in love with you even though they’ve never seen you before.  Ahem. The film adaptation had none of the wit and sparkle of Pride and Prejudice and very little dialogue between the protagonists.  At the time I also thought both the book and the film to be very passionless and tame.
Now, over the years, I have developed a rule: if one does not appreciate a certain book, one must reread it over and over until he or she learns to appreciate it.  That’s what I did with Jane Eyre - but that’s another post - and that’s what I did with Persuasion.  And finally, on perhaps the third reading, I got it.  I learnt to admire Anne’s faithfulness and patience, got to understand Wentworth’s frustration with her (though for the first half of the book I still mentally shout at him that Anne loves him and he loves Anne and they need to just make it up already), understood the subtle (and the not-so-subtle) humor, appreciated the ongoing references to poetry and it’s effects on the temperament, and finally the book started playing in my head like a film, the way all good books do.  I got so into the “letter scene” that even now I can see it vividly in my imagination, just as I did when I read it.  I think for a while there I started to think that what Miss Austen was describing was happening to me.  My heartbeat quickened and I was in agonies for the few minutes it took to get and read the Captain’s letter.  This is how you know that a book is good.
As for the film, the second time I watched it, I payed more attention to the facial expressions and realized how talented the acting was, nearly everything conveyed in glances and stares.  (Of course, the scene where Anne runs down the streets like a hoyden still makes me want to throw things.)
This is probably going to sound cliché and stuck-up, but I really think Persuasion is just one of those books that takes some maturity and thoughtfulness to appreciate.  I’ll probably get even more out of it if I read it again when I’m more mature myself.
This has been your literary ramble of the day.  You’re welcome.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Tag: Braids, Baking, and Playing Favorites

Another tag, given by another Elizabeth - The Country Handmaiden. This time I'll actually do the "eleven things about me" part.

1)  My life motto is pretty much "better late than never."
2)  My middle name is Annette.
3)  I stay up way too late sometimes (don't we all?) and regret it horridly in the morning.
4)  I get very protective of certain unappreciated/misunderstood fictional characters.
5)  Sometimes I really really really wish that I had red hair, but in reality I would look horrible if my hair were any color other than boring ol' brown.  (My skin has an olive/yellowish tone.)  Guess God knew what he was doing.
6)  My favorite mystery of the Rosary is the Annunciation.
7)  I prefer pearls to diamonds and silver to gold.
8)  I wear scarves indoors.  (And occasionally hats, too.)
9)  I had to put a block on my favorite websites so I wouldn't get so distracted during school hours.  What do you know, I still find ways to get distracted...who knew paint programs could be so engrossing?
10)  I use the aforesaid paint program to color internet coloring pages. It's great fun. *grins*
11)  I love things that are almond-scented.

Now for the actual questions.

1.  Who is your favorite author?
You know how parents aren't supposed to have favorites among their children?  Well, that's kinda how I feel about books and authors, see.  But I will say that J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and Elizabeth Gaskell are all high on the list.

2.  If you were to go to one place in the world, where would it be? 
Just one place in the world? Oh dear. Um...some place in Europe...I'd be quite happy just going back to Germany, actually.

3.  What is your favorite color?
My first favorite color is blue, and green second.  Actually, I'm particularly fond of the shade on my blog background.

4.  What do you usually do with your hair day-to-day?
Well, on lazy days (read: most of the time), I just put it in a braid.  If by chance I'm feeling a bit fancier, though, I'll probably do a diagonal dutch braid ending in a side bun, or something of that sort.


5.  Pumps or flats?
Flats for everyday, pumps for Sunday.  Especially because they make me a bit taller, which is always appreciated.

6.  Cats or dogs?
I hate to be giving equivocal answers to all of these, but once again...both?  I had a dog once of which I was very fond, but I do like cats as well.  I just don't like it when they decide that they're too good to be petted.


7.  Do you like baking, or are you better at cooking?
Definitely baking.  I enjoy it more than regular cooking, and it generally comes out better, too.  I'm not very talented in the spicing department.


8. Would you rather work with paint or clay?
I'm gonna say paint.  Clay is messier and, in my opinion, more difficult - though I'm not much of a painter, either.  But I do like painting, even if my masterpieces could be mistaken for a ten-year-old's.

9.  What is the weather usually like where you live?
It's surprisingly rainy here in southern Virginia.  The sky is nearly always cloudy.  I don't mind, really, because after growing up in Germany, I rather like cloudy days.  They're sort of calm and cozy - but don't get me wrong,  I love sunlight too.  A shaft of sunlight just makes me think of Heaven.

10.  Do you have a favorite hobby?
 I have multiple favorite things to do, but I don't know if any of them could be considered a "hobby."  I guess editing pictures is the closest thing that I have to a hobby.  I also make poster-y things with photo editors and random quotes, like this:


My other activities include reading (and reading-related activities such as looking up little-known tidbits about books and drooling at library shelves), keeping a very irregular diary, and perfecting the art of procrastination.

11.  Where would you rather get lost: a craft store or a bookstore?
No hesitation here - A BOOKSTORE.  As a matter of fact, I recently had dinner with a friend I haven't seen in nearly a year, and after we ate we strolled over to Barnes & Noble, where we spent probably about two hours.  It was delicious.  (The B&N, I mean.  The food was yummy too, but the books were the icing on the cake.)

Well, that's it for this time.  I believe I still have two more tags to do...





Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tag: Classic Books, Tea, and Sandwiches

This is what happens when you're lazy. Your tags pile up like crazy and the nice people who tagged you probably think you're ignoring their niceness. Bad Victoria.  So I have four tags to do, but I'll be good and put them in separate posts.  Also, I uh... *cough*...I will not be following any rules.  At all.  On any of them.  (Well, aside from answering the questions, of course.)  Sorry.  Don't execute me, please.

First from Elizabeth at The Endless Road:

1. I have heard it said that some people  don't want to read classics because they are too long. Yet some of these same people read Harry Potter(and those are not short books). Do you think is really the length of the book, or something else? 
No, I do not think that it's the length of the book at all.  I think it's the level and style of the writing.  I have never read Harry Potter, and never mean to, but I've come across excerpts and I've seen the writing level.  It's not that hard.  (Not bashing - the books were written for kids, so they can be excused for being easy reading.)  Classics, on the other hand, often have advanced vocabularies, as well as unfamiliar colloquialisms and antiquated styles.  They're usually not action-oriented, and sometimes they have a sleep-inducing amount of description.  (Yes, Dickens, I am looking at you.)

2. If you could pick a dead author to talk to who would it be: Jane Austen, one of the Bronte sisters, Mark Twain, or Thomas Hardy? 
Jane Austen, hands down.  She seems like she must have been such a funny lady.  I've never read Hardy, I have a healthy dislike of Mark Twain, and the Brontes scare me.


3. Do you have a favorite board game? 
Hmm....not that I can think of.  I like Battleship, but that's not really a board game.  Do checkers count?  I like that.

4. Who is your favorite actor? And what is your favorite character they have played? 
I like Richard Armitage and David Tennant.  Richard Armitage's best role was, of course, Mr. Thornton in North & South, and David Tennant...he was brilliant as the Doctor, and I also really liked his rendition of Hamlet.

 5. Do you think being a fan of Jane Austen is becoming/is a fad?   
Among certain groups, perhapsTo be honest, I don't know.  I don't care, if it makes more people read worthwhile books.

 6. We all pick out names that we like that we say we will name our children. What are some of yours? 
Um...I don't think I've ever done that, so I'll make something up now.  Let's see...well, if I had children, they'd all be named after saints.  I should like one daughter to be Rose, another Imelda, maybe Catherine as well.  For boys, Paul and William and maybe Thomas.  There, that wasn't too hard.

 7. Would you call yourself a morning person?
DEFINITELY NOT.  No way.  Don't get me wrong, I love the early, peaceful sorts of mornings, but those are few and far between and soon over.  In normal life, I'm basically miserable until two in the afternoon.

 8. Tea or Coffee? 
 Tea.  There was a time when I would have said "both," (see here to know what I'm like when I drink coffee), but now coffee makes me inexplicably sick, so I just drink tea.  Anyway, tea is more refined and British-y and, let's face it, it tastes better.  So I'm not too bummed out about not being able to drink coffee - unless my mom starts making puppydog faces at me when she needs a coffee-drinking companion again.  Who know that drinking coffee was a social activity, right?

 
 9. Have you come across a book where you liked the movie version better?
 Nobody kill me for saying this, but when I first saw Prince Caspian I decided that I liked it better than the book. *cringes*  I know, blasphemy.  Allow me to say, however, that I no longer hold this heretical position, and I can proudly say that I have never harbored such thoughts in regard to any other movie.

10. What is your favorite place to read a book? 
Well, the best place ever is the novices' recreation room at St. Joseph's Novitiate, but at home, the best is lying on my bed with the windows open (not during the winter) with a snack of some sort.  I have a terrible habit of eating and reading at the same time.


11. Do you have a food that you don't like, but everyone else does? 
Do you know, I don't believe that there is a food in existence that isn't disliked by someone.  In general, though....I am a bit particular, but I don't think I have any extraordinary dislikes. Ooh, but I don't like condiments on sandwiches and I have to have the cheese melted.  I guess that's a bit odd.




Sunday, October 28, 2012

All Buttoned Up

**Notice: this post was begun on July 26.  What happened was, I couldn't think of any subject-matter for buttons after the North & South one.  I just now finished with the last two buttons.  So yeah.  I'm basically the queen of procrastinators**

 Ladies and gentlemen, this is a very special day.  Why is it a special day, you ask?  Because, my dear, thanks to Miss Rosamund Gregory, I HAVE LEARNED HOW TO MAKE BLOG BUTTONS.  Now you may rejoice. 

Raindrops and Moonlight
I didn't put the code box because this isn't an official R&M button.  But I think it is rather cute. :)
Are you done rejoicing?  Good.  I must tell you, if you've never made a blog button, get thee to Rosamund's tutorial and learn how.  You needn't be scared.  It's actually very easy.

Now, I probably won't have an official button for my blog for a while yet, because, you see, it has to be just so.  But in the meantime, I've made a couple fun little things, just to get the hang of it.


Raindrops and Moonlight



BLOG TITLE



Raindrops and Moonlight


 So, there you go!  My first attempts at buttonmaking.  By-the-by, I really do have no idea what's going on with the alignment there.  My code boxes are randomly off to the side and I'm not sure why...

Oh, and if by some chance you wanted to use any of these, I'd be delighted.  :)

Stuff.

I'm so creative with titles, am I not?

I know, I know, I haven't posted for nearly a month.  I've got reasons, though.  See, a couple weeks ago it hit me that I have just six months of my life left in which to do school.  No, I'm not going to die in six months (hopefully), but I am going to graduate (again, hopefully).  There are some other life-y things that are taking - and will continue to take - a great deal of mental and emotional energy as well.  So yeah.  There's that.  Also (and this one is more interesting), a week ago I got home from my first ever spiritual retreat! It was lovely.  I strongly encourage anyone who's never gone on one to check it out.  Mine was a silent retreat: no talking at all for two-and-a-half days, excepting hymns, rosary, and the like.  It was actually wonderful to not have to say anything.  I quite liked it.  When you don't have to worry about talking to people, your mind is free to listen to God.  The difference is pretty amazing.  Also, nuns are awesome. The end.

Here we have Sr. Mary Veronica playing basketball after retreat. Many of the sisters are scarily good at sports.
So...what else was I going to say?  Oh, yes.  I must ask a question.  What is your opinion on personal posts?  I hate writing them because it seems so very self-centered, plus I'm not sure I really want my life splattered across the internet, but sometimes I can't think of anything to talk about, and I don't know if it's better to complain run on about my petty little doings or to just stay silent until I think of something worth posting about.  Let me know what you think in the comments.

Speaking of personal posts, I have been tagged by multiple people since I last posted, and I just wanted to let y'all know that I'm not ignoring you - I shall get to the tags soon-ish-ish.  (For the uninitiated, two "ishes" means it will probably take double the time of one "ish."  You're welcome.)

Well, that's about it.  God bless, and if you're in the path of the hurricane, don't die.  Kay? Good then.
(please don't be offended - the weathermen's hype drives me crazy and that's my retaliation right there.)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Don't Be Alone

via
I'm not really sure if I'm an introvert or not.  I do spend a lot of time alone, I need my space, and I don't like noise or large crowds, but on the other hand, I can definitely be a chatterbox and if I don't see anyone for too long I turn into a mushy mess of self-pitying loneliness. Introvert or not, we all need people - not just to make us happy, but to show us ourselves.   I know that sounds a bit pretentious and silly, but really.  We think we know ourselves best, that others don't understand us.  In reality, other people see things about us that we miss - quite often, unpleasant things that we shut our eyes to.  I think that when we spend too much time alone, we start to think that we're the best thing in creation.  Living in your own mind, you get all wrapped up in yourself, your preferences, your thought processes, which is nearly always bad.  I know that personally, when I spend too much time alone I start to think that I'm this extraordinarily superior, intelligent being, forced to suffer through the inferiority of a mundane, unintelligent world.  (That sentence would have been more effective if you could have heard the way my mental voice said it...)  When I go out among other people, though, all of a sudden I realize that I'm a normal person, not as smart as I could be, with plenty of annoying qualities and issues just like everyone else. Society (of the right kind) is quite humbling.


So basically, what I'm trying to say is don't be alone.  Not all the time.  I do not, of course, recommend a whirlwind of social events - indeed, I'm a firm believer in the value of quiet - but make sure you're not always alone.  It's especially easy (and tempting) to be too much alone in this day and age, with our iPods and laptops and whatever other gadgets we've got now.   But don't do it.  Call up a friend and make a date, help your mom make dinner,  hang around after church, whatever it takes.  Heck, sit in a mall and people-watch, if you have to.  But don't be alone.

via

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Feast of the Guardian Angels

Google Images, touched up in Pixlr.
 
From Tradition in Action
"The Angels are pure spirits, mighty Princes of Heaven who stand before God. They are burning fires of love, filled with the plenitude of happiness. No two Angels are alike and there are too many to be numbered. All of them are indescribably beautiful. 

There are angels in Heaven and also on earth, each with different jobs to do. Nations, cities, families, towns - all have their special Angels. St Thomas Aquinas teaches us that there are Angels that guide the stars, the moon, the sun, and the planets, keeping everything in harmony according to God's plan. Scripture tells us of the Angels that perform duties that some attribute to chance.
It is interesting to note that at the time of the Renaissance, Angels began to be portrayed as fat, sweet babies with wings. This artistic style continues to our day. It is a shame for such militant warriors to be reduced to these weak, infantile representations. In the mind of the viewer, the role of the Angel as protector and avenger fades away, replaced by a different idea. It is a subtle way of gradually changing the notion of the principle that life is a war between good and evil with the agents of each side fighting to win the souls of men. There is no spirit of fight in the fat baby angels – in fact, they are so smiling and happy that it appears nothing is amiss in their world."
 I like the idea of angels as strong protectors and warriors infinitely better than the idea of them as pretty figures with wings.  Angels are cool.  *refrains from multiple Doctor Who references*  Ahem.

made entirely by me via PicMonkey and Pixlr.

Friday, September 21, 2012

GUEST POST!

My guest post for Shaylynn's Tolkien Month got published on her blog this morning!  Eeeee!  I'm super excited - this was my first guest post ever, and on Shealynn's Fairy Shop, which is a long-time favorite of mine.  It was one of the very first blogs I ever discovered!  I am honored.

Check it out here, and be sure to read the rest of the Tolkien Month posts as well.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

*blows dust from keyboard* (alternate title: complaints about schoolwork)

That title is metaphorical, actually.  My keyboard is used everyday and is never dusty.  But my *new post* button would definitely be dusty if was actually real and not just a combination of pixels.   I'm not gonna apologize about not posting for ten days, so if you wanted to hear that you can just skedaddle.  It's not happening.

September is a really busy month, apparently.  I figured it would be no different from August, but I was wrong.  You know the saying - "good grades, social life, blogging, and enough sleep: pick two."  (Well, maybe it doesn't go quite like that....)  September seems like it's going the month of good grades and social life.  BUT, I am working on my first guest post ever, which is awesome and scary.  It's a proof of my lack of time, though, that I only get about two sentences written at a time before I remember that I really need to answer the study question for English 11 because I have to do that and English 12 before the end of May, or I haven't done American Government for three days and I need to catch up, or...well, you get the idea.  Whoever said twelfth grade was the easiest is a LIAR.  DON'T LISTEN TO THEM.  It's really, really stressful.  You're welcome. 

Well, I'm off to clean stuff and write some of my guest post and watch babies.  Happy feast of the Nativity of Mary, by the way.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Someday Lists

Lately I've been saying a lot of things like "before I die I'm going to ---" or "someday I'll ---".  So I decided to just make bucket lists.

Why plural, you ask?  Well, because being the pessimistic practical person that I am, I have two lists.  The first is stuff I could conceivably do, if I set my mind to it, and the second consists of things that are improbable or  practically impossible - and, also, things that I forgot to add to the first list.  Oh, and by the way - I hate the name "bucket list".  I prefer to call them "someday lists".  And I don't care if you think that's cheesy, either, so there.

This is the "attainable" list.  (made with Pixlr)


I was going to write out the "impractical" list with Pixlr as well, but I got lazy and busy and stuff, so it's just gonna be in regular text:

 - direct a movie based on an undervalued, movie-less book. 

 - Be an epic, dedicated, real librarian.

 - Be an awesome Catholic, modest singer who single-handedly starts trends of nice skirts and reading Chesterton and being a lady.

 - Become a bestselling, awe-inducing poet or novelist or essayist.  I'm not particular which it is, though novelists are more universally enjoyed than poets or especially essayists.

 -  Go skydiving or some other extremely scary foolhardy activity.  (In real life I've too much sense for this, plus I don't crave such thrills.)

 - Meet somebody and become friends with them, speaking in a British accent the whole time.  They will always think I'm British, and then one day when we've known each other for years I'll casually tell them I'm American.

 - Perform in the kind of play that one pays to see.  (Preferably Shakespeare.)

 - Memorize an entire book.

 -  Give an interview.

 - Travel the world over and see every amazing thing I've ever wanted to.

~~~

Do you have a bucket list?  What's on it?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Homeschool Tips from a Setonite

via pinterest
Since I've just started twelfth grade (woohoo!) and I know most of you are starting the school year about now as well, I thought I'd share some homeschooler's "helps" to get one through the agony.  I am by no means a whiz at schoolwork, but over twelve years of torture I've had time to discover some helpful little tips and tricks.  I daresay they're mostly common-sense, but since that particular quality is sadly lacking these days, I don't think anyone will notice.

  • Music.  This doesn't work for everyone, but most people will find that there's maybe just one subject that gets done faster or more easily when they're listening to music.  Personally, I need music for subjects that don't take up much brainpower, because if my brain isn't occupied, I get antsy and am likely to just stop doing whatever it is.  I also need music for subjects that frustrate me and for things that I can hardly force myself to do.  (At this point you might be wondering what I do without music.  Wellll.....precious little.  A grand total of two subjects out of seven, to be precise.)  Now, I know tons of people already listen to music while doing schoolwork, but here's the thing: a lot of them listen to the wrong kind.  Face it, most popular music isn't going to help you think.  Sorry darling.  Now, of course everyone has their preferences, but as a rule, calmer music is better, and instrumental is always good.  That doesn't necessarily mean classical, either, though classical is a good choice.  Personally, I like Enya, Mozart, and string-quartet versions of more upbeat songs.   
  • Location.  If you're easily distracted (like me), the revered dining-room-table method is probably the worst choice.  There are always people walking through, yelling in the next rooms, and talking to you when you're trying to work.  Not to mention that eventually your family forgets you're there and thus unwittingly lets you eavesdrop on various conversations.  NOT that I would know anything about that.  *whistles*  Ideally, I think the best thing to do is to change your position for different subjects.  If you always do a certain subject in a certain place, simply going to that place will make your brain prepare for the subject.  For instance, I do math and logic in the dining room (no, I do not follow my own advice), English on my bed, Literature sitting in my rocking chair, science on the couch, and everything else at my desk (which is really a dumpster table, but don't tell anyone).
  •  Food and drink.  One, eat breakfast.  I never do (hate that meal) and then I'm sitting with a math book at ten o' clock about to faint.  It's not conductive to understanding or efficiency.   Two, find out if caffeine really helps at all.  I drink black tea every morning, but it's more to stop hunger than to help me work.  Caffeine can do more harm then good where school is concerned, because it makes you jittery and easily distracted.  Some people are still helped by it, though, so find out what it does for you personally.  Finally, I've discovered that a snack or drink in the afternoon really helps with that 3 o' clock slump.  I haven't tried it in the winter yet, so I'm not sure what would be best, but during the summer I would get a glass of iced tea, juice, a cookie, or some other little thing (often sweet) to nibble or sip while I worked.  It really helped, especially because I always feel a need to occupy my brain whilst I eat or drink.
  • The black hole of procrastination.  I refer to the internet.  This is the biggest no-brainer ever, and yet no one can resist it.  If you can't use sheer willpower (and it's harder than it sounds), just disconnect your computer.  Then that little orange fox (or whatever, dependeding on which internet service you use) is no use, and you are forced to work.  If for whatever reason you can't do that, a lesser solution is to just visit all your pet sites at a stated time.  That way you've seen all the updates and you don't get that curiosity in the back of your mind to check what's new on Pinterest or see if there are any new posts on your favorite blogs.  This isn't a perfect solution because, besides the fact that you've given in to the temptation, you still tend to get lost in the intricacies of blog links or youtube videos and lose track of time, with often disastrous results.  Bottom line, you're gonna have to expend some willpower no matter what, but there are ways to minimize it.
  • Bribe yourself.  "If I finish this essay today, I'll watch an extra episode of _________ later."  Or "I'll have a nice dessert after dinner."  Or whatever it takes.  I must confess that I have been known to give myself the reward even if I don't complete the task.  Don't do that.  Just...no.  It's ridiculous.  You only get the prize if you do the work. And, speaking of indulgence, celebrate your perfect scores.  I remember one of the only times I got 100% on a math test, my mom called my dad and told him, and he brought me back a little fairy craft as reward when he came home that night.  That was in....probably seventh grade.  Now, as a highschooler, you don't expect prizes, and I'm not even saying you should buy yourself something.  Just, tell your family, do a happy dance, and eat a cookie.  Cookies are good for everything.
  • Tell others about what you're doing.  Seriously, this helps.  If you discuss your book analysis with your mom, a sibling, or anyone whom you see very often, you'll get more interested in it yourself.  Plus, they'll often ask you how it's going, and then of course you want to give a favorable answer, so you work on it more and make a better effort than if no knew but you.  If you're lucky (and it doesn't annoy you too much), you can convince someone to nag you about a despised subject or assignment till you do it.  I've tried numerous times to get my mom to force me to work, and she just WON'T DO IT.  Hopefully you have someone more cooperative.  *glares*

Well, hopefully something in that gave you some ideas.   Good luck with the school year!  Say a prayer to St. Thomas Aquinas when you're stuck.  He's the patron saint of scholars.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Essence of Charity

A couple of days ago I came across an extra-beautiful meditation in the book Divine Intimacy, which, as you may remember, I have posted about before.   This one is about the essence of love of God, and I thought it was pretty amazing.  Some of it could apply to human love as well, I think, tying in with that one post I wrote about true love.  But, leaving that aside, it's just lovely.  Read and see:

Meditation 255: The Act of Love
p. 762-763

"To love a person is to desire his well-being.  We understand, therefore, that the essence of love is in the act of the will by which we wish good.  This does not take away from the fact that the act may often be accompanied by sensible affection, making our love both an act of the will and of the sensibility.  Nevertheless, it is clear that the substance of real love is not to be found in the emotions but in the act of the will.  Charity does not change our manner of loving, but penetrates it, supernaturalizes it, making the will and the sensibility capable of loving God.  Yes, even sensible affection can be engaged in the act of supernatural love; God does not despise this humbler and less lofty manifestation of our love for Him, because He has commanded us to love Him not only with our whole mind and our whole soul, but also with our whole heart.  All our powers---intellectual, volitive, and affective---are engaged in the act of love, and yet the substance of this act is not found in the feelings but in the will.  Therefore, when our emotions are cold in our love of God, and we "feel" nothing, there is no reason for us to be disturbed; we will find less satisfaction in our love---for it is much more peasant for us to feel that we are loving---but our act of love will be equally true and perfect.  Even more, lacking the impetus and pleasure which come from our feelings, we will be obliged to apply ourself more resolutely to the act of the will and this, far from harming it, will make it more voluntary, and therefore, more meritorious.  Precisely because the substance of love is in the act of the will that wishes good to God, in order to make our love purer and more intense, Our Lord will often deprive us of all consoling feelings; we will no longer feel that we love God---and this will give us pain---but in reality, we will love Him in the measure that we will with determination what He wills, and want His good pleasure and delight above all things.  Besides, it is not [always] in our power to feel love but it is always in our power to make voluntary acts of love; it is always in our power to wish good to God, striving with all our strength to live for Him and to please Him."


Photograph by me, edited with Picmonkey.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Picking Peaches

Remember my post on apple-picking?  Well, about a month ago, on the coolest day we could find, my family and I drove down long country roads and through lookalikes of the Great Dismal Swamp to a lovely farm which had pick-your-own peaches.  We picked forty-three pounds of the the things, but even so I managed to take lots of pictures.  They came out rather well, too.  (This post is getting up so late because it took me until now to edit everything.)



From the parking lot, we had to walk about half a mile down to the orchard.  Some intelligent people drove down, but we walked.  It was just as well, because I wouldn't have been able to take photos from the car, and I'm not sure our giant of a fifteen-passenger van would have made it down there anyway. 

There was a lovely little pond with a bridge across it, so I got to practice landscape photography.


There was a lot of Queen Anne's Lace growing by that pond.  I love Queen Anne's Lace (or yarrow, as some call it), so I couldn't resist taking pictures of it. 

Now you know what it looks like. Yarrow has medicinal properties, but I can't remember what they are anymore.   


This is the super-edited version of the first photo.  I would love fabric with this print...

I kinda sorta really like this one, even though it's a bit blurry.  It looks so fairy-ish.
Then we reached the actual orchard:



These are nectarines.  Just thought you might be wondering why they're red...


Despite asking me and my mom if every peach they picked was "good," my siblings did pretty well.  All the buckets were at least halfway filled.  (Hence the forty-three pounds.) 





Some of them had to be lifted.
I really like this sepia-toned photo.  Sepia makes everything better, doesn't it? :)
 I thought it was fun.  Orchard peaches and nectarines taste so much better than the grocery-store variety, I promise you.  Really, everything tastes better when it's not from a grocery store.
 

And yes, I am left-handed.

After we paid, we all sat out on the picnic benches and tried our lovely (and hard-earned) fruit.  I think it was worth carrying an over-ten-pound bucket (plus a sibling's smaller one) half a mile in the noon heat.  I do have a picture of us all sitting around stuffing our faces with peaches, but I'm thinking my mom would kill me if her picture was up here.  She'd say she looked fat, which is, by the way, nonsense.  My mom weighs ten pounds more than I do, and I am not fat.  Anyway, one of my brothers looks like a creep in that picture, and I wouldn't want you get nightmares.  Seriously.  He looks like the Grim Reaper or something. 


When we got home, we cut up and froze about two-thirds of the peaches.  Now my mom won't let us eat any until winter, which I protest is not fair, but she doesn't seem to care.  (I hate it when my sentences unintentionally rhyme...the rhymes are always so dumb. Ergh.)

Speaking of my mom, she did a peach-picking post (ha! Alliteration! Oh my gosh, I am such a poetry geek...) as well.  Voila: http://mrsrabbitsmusings.blogspot.com/2012/07/picking-peaches.html


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Song Saturday

Summer Rain by Hayley Westenra.  This is one of my favorite of her songs, and I actually found it accidentally:  I bought it mistaking it for another Hayley Westenra song.  (The one I was looking for was Summer Fly.  That's what happens when someone has two songs containing the word 'summer' in the title...I like this one better now, anyway.)



Sunday, July 29, 2012

Excuses and Whatnot

I just wanted to publicly bewail the fact that summer has not brought the blogging time, motivation, and inspiration that I thought it would.  I had all sorts of wonderful half-formed ideas, but, well....they're not happening.  Fact is, I'm still doing schoolwork, and by the time I'm done this year I'll be starting next year.  Which is my senior year, which is scary.  I can't imagine a life without tests and textbooks looming over me every hour and poking at my conscience when I ignore them.  Sounds too good to be true.  I guess once school's over one has other difficulties looming over oneself...like work and money (or lack thereof) and goodness knows what else.  I just want to go on trips, read books all day, and get good at piano.  Is that too much to ask? 
*inner common sense answers "yes, you idiot."*

So, I just now realized that I never wrote the promised review of North and South.  I think that's partly because I cannot form anything more articulate on the subject than asdkfn;sdlfn;s*squee*.   But I shall do that....eventually.  Also, just so you know there's going to be some random (possibly annoying) polls popping up in the near future, because polls are fun and I am too indecisive to figure things out without the aid of the internet (a.k.a. the intelligence-sucking monster of procrastination).  The polls (I made a typo and it said "pools".  Ha.  Hahaha.  That's funny.) will mostly have to do with blog-setup stuff until I get those nagging questions resolved.


Okay...I'm rambling.  I just kinda wanted to write a post but didn't feel like, y'know, thinking.   So...yeah.  Hi.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Of Poodles, Pasta, And Tags


Once again I have been deluged in lovely awards by lovely people!

First:


The Versatile Blogger Award by the wonderful Clare of  Come Further Up!  I've already gotten this award, actually, but I don't mind doing it again.  I shan't pass it on, though, because I'm too lazy and I have seized on an excuse-- because it seems like overkill, since I've done it already.

The rules are to list seven random things about myself.

1.  I can go from long-faced and acting as if I'm under a vow of silence to hyper, talk-till-I'm-out-of-breath in about twenty minutes.  I can compare myself to a rollercoaster with much accuracy.

2.  I rather enjoy writing a lot of my English assignments - interpretive essays, some book analyses, a lot of the essay questions on the tests, etc.  I guess that's weird, isn't it?  One is not supposed to like such things. *grins*

3.  I have a thing for butterflies.  And peacocks, which is kinda awkward considering they symbolize vanity and pride.

4.  I have fuzzy brown hair which has been described by three people as looking like a poodle.  One of these people was my best friend. I now keep my poodle firmly braided or bunned. 
(Yes, I know "bunned" isn't a word -- that is, it wasn't till I made it up just now.)

5.  I can never fall asleep until 11:45 PM, and sometimes not until even later.  I blame it on the Puerto Rican party girl blood in me.  (Note: I am not to be described as a party girl.  Just half of my blood is.)

6.  The Italian half of me likes pasta.  A lot.  As a matter of fact, the Puerto Rican half of me likes pasta too.  All of me likes it.  Pasta is bliss.  I don't think you really cared to know that, did you?...

7.  My dream job is to be a librarian.  I even have the cliche spectacles and top-knot.

I was also given two awards by the Mad Elvish Poet, whom I mentally designate "Mep."  It's the initials of her pseudonym, don't'cha know.



You're supposed to tag five people with these.  Let's see...

Meggy at Magic, Ink, and Dreams (poor Meggy,..I'm always tagging her.)
Emily at Let Beauty Awake
Rosamund at Shoes of Paper ♥ Stockings of Buttermilk (Because I really REALLY love her blog)
The Kindred Spirit at A Trail of Flowers
I can't find a fifth.  Sorry.  Too late at night.  Must get post posted.

All righty then.  I'm done.  Thanks for tagging me, ladies. :)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Happy Birthday to R&M!

Well folks, it has finally come.  I HAVE BEEN BLOGGING FOR ONE WHOLE YEAR! *jumps up and down with excitement*  Isn't it amazing?  One year, one hundred posts (yes, I timed it on purpose, and yes, some of them are still drafts), fifty-two followers, and 3,935 pageviews.  You all are so sweet.   I know it sounds cliche, but I really wouldn't have kept blogging without all the awesome feedback I get.  I've discovered all sorts of cool people, too.

So, have I learned anything by blogging?  I think I have.  I've discovered that I really like article-style writing, for one.  I think it's what I'm best at, really.  (I know what you're thinking.  If that's what she's best at...)  I've also realized that it's stupid to apologize for my opinions and tastes.  It just makes me sound rant-y and insecure and who knows what else.  Not to mention, a shocking amount of people actually agree with me, which is kind of awesome.

So, happy birthday to me.  And thank you all for being amazing.  *gives gigantic internet hug*

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Ramble-y Post on *The Scarlet Letter*

 People.  This book.  I thought I was going to hate it, but I don't.  It's full of interestingness and ideas and STUFF, which I will now proceed to ramble about.  Oh, and I must put out a major spoiler alert.  Don't say I didn't warn you.  You won't understand what I'm talking about, if you haven't read the book, by the way, because I'm not going to explain who or what I'm discussing.  I have to do that all the time in real life, and I very much dislike it.

First of all, The Scarlet Letter made me very grateful to be a Catholic.  Catholic confession would have been the saving of Dimmesdale!  He wouldn't have had to struggle with all that guilt and hypocrisy, because his sin would have been cleansed by the sacrament of Penance.  But no, he was a Puritan, and so he had to struggle with his guilt and try to avenge it on his own.  I do feel very, very sorry for him, even if he was a spineless jerk most of the time.  But shame is a horrible thing to bear.  It's not even explainable, it's so ghastly.  So I feel for Dimmesdale, and I wish I could hop in a TARDIS or something and bring him a Catholic priest.  (Do TARDISes go to fiction?  I'm not very well-versed in Who-ology.)  I did like that the author had confession (in a general way) be essential to Dimmesdale's redemption.  Hawthorne didn't just have him say "oh, in my heart I'm sorry for this, and that's all it takes so everything's fine now.  Glory hallelujah."  Also, the author didn't make excuses for the sin.  I mean, the whole book is about the consequences of a couple's adultery.

Random point #2: Pearl scares me.  I know she's supposed to be the living incarnation of her parents' sin and their punishment, but the girl is freaky.  You have no idea how relieved I was to find out that she was "humanized by sorrow" and eventually married and had a child.  I would have liked to see what she was like after her "transformation."  Too bad Nathaniel Hawthorne is dead.  A Pearl-centered sequel would have been interesting.

Speaking of weirdness, I was a bit confused by all the mentions of witchcraft.  Did Hawthorne mean to imply that all the flying about in the sky and whatnot actually happened, or was he just giving  the local opinions?  Very strange.

I found the characterization to be very good.  All the characters were three-dimensional: no one was  all good or all bad, yet the division between good and evil was very visible.  Even revengeful old Roger Chillingworth had his sympathetic moment in the beginning of the story, when he admits that he was wrong to marry Hester.   One almost feels sorry for him at that point.

Well, I'd better wrap this up.  It's nearly dinnertime and I'm too hungry to think anymore.  But I shall make this into a proper review by giving The Scarlet Letter 7 stars out of 10, a PG-13 movie-style rating (for mature themes), and recommending the book for readers age fifteen & up.

Note: I did not give the "mature readers"/"ordinary readers" distinction because once a reader is old enough for the mature themes, he/she is already old enough to be comfortable with the style.  Hope that makes sense. 

If you've read The Scarlet Letter, what did you think of it?  (Seton students, my eye is upon you.  I know you've read it because it's required for 11th-grade English, so I am expecting your comments.  Muahaha.)


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