Sunday, July 31, 2011

Week 21 - Challenge Week!

All right! Here we have our second of five challenge weeks! Christina offered us a challenge on charities for this week -- hopefully you have all completed said challenges. I look forward to hearing about your charities!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Greetings from Connecticut

Look, I'm on time and everything! Well then, onto the post.

To answer Alexandra's question, I've never been to any cons, but not for lack of desire. It kills me that I wasn't at LeakyCon a couple weeks ago! Reading everyone's tweets and watching videos from people who were there was exciting, but also just torturous. It looked so amazing and I wish I could have gone! I'd also love to make it to Comic Con someday, but that will have to wait until I'm able to get out to California.

The past week was spent at my family cottage in Connecticut with my friends. Our cottage is on a camp ground with many other cottages and generations upon generations of families have been coming here for camp meeting in August for over 125 years now. To give some idea of how much of a tradition it is, I am the fifth or sixth generation of my family to be coming here. There are many other families at camp who have been coming just as long, so each generation of the same families have grown up and played together each summer. My friends had heard many stories about camp over the years, but had never seen it. But that's finally changed now! We all drove over together last Saturday and spent the last week here (with a one-day trip to New York to see Dan Radcliffe in How to Succeed!). It was really fun and I wish they hadn't had to leave so soon! They left early this morning, so today it was back to the usual camp routine: sitting around, reading, helping around the cottage and camp grounds, and sitting around some more. I have some friends at camp, but they're not here yet and I'm not sure when they're arriving, so it's a waiting game at the moment. My friend introduced me to an ipod/iphone game called Fruit Ninja, so that occupied quite a bit of my time today (more than I'd like to admit). Currently, I'm trying out Words With Friends, which is fun so far though I'm on the "not so good" side of the ability spectrum at the moment. Ah well, better read some more to learn some new words!

That's really what I've been up to lately, sorry to not have anything more exciting to report! I do really enjoy camp despite the seeming boringness. It's nice to just relax and get a break from technology as well. If I hadn't had to write this blog I wouldn't have even turned on my laptop today, and I generally leave my cellphone in the cottage when I'm out around the grounds. It may drive people trying to call me nuts, but it's nice to not be tethered to it for at least one week.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Just another Thursday

Well, I preordered my copy of The Fault in Our Stars, so I'm excited to finally receive a book by an author I enjoy which happens to be signed. Yay! Also, should be receiving Psych: Season Five sometime next week.

Honestly, I don't have that much to write about for this just another day blog. I could tell you how much I really want a Snuggie right now (seriously, my arms really are cold) but that's boring.

I don't know what it is about this week, but it's just had a really bad feeling behind it. Maybe it's because I've been getting less sleep and more food than usual, or that Arabic is really hard to understand when you're listening to it (and I have enough problems in English!). But yeah...

Also, I hate ants. My place is filled with them, and they like to get into things they ought not get into.

Sorry for making you all read this really long facebook status update.

Wednesday is the flakiest of all the things

::crumples to knees in despair:: NNNOOOOOOOOO!!!


By a lot.


Dang it.

Bring on the punishments, ladies... Verily I deserve it.


Dang it.


Cassie: I LOVED sky dancers. Those things were awesome.

Christina: I do have a Twitter, though I never use it. carlyncampbell--I know, terribly original. But good idea! I'd be willing to get tweets from you ladies.

Cassie: What a voyage! If you got at all close to Missoula's M, there's a fair chance you saw my aunt and/or uncle. They live in Missoula and hike the M several times a month. Also, PRINCESS BRIDE. Yes.

Alexandra: Props for such creativity! An author who can stick to her characters is a worthy author indeed. I, for one, would love to read your opus.

And now for my week!

I have a halfway decent reason, if not an excuse, for not having posted on time this week. I turned 22 on Tuesday (otherwise a rather nondescript day)! But that's not my reason. I have, of late, been spending unprecedented amounts of time with someone increasingly important with me. In fact, I am writing this on her computer, whose battery is about to die, and so this is going to be a very short post. The person in question is my of-almost-two-months girlfriend. She is the most remarkable human being, and, near as I can tell, she is absolutely perfect for me.

I'm sure I will be updating you all in more detail in the weeks to come, but feel free to cheer in celebration with me! I am one happy, if distracted, Wednesday.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday's Mostly Just Been Writing

Road trips and I have a long, sordid history together that has given me a certain fondness for aeroplanes, something I still am willing to say after taking a plane ride nearing 15 hours, from New York to Tokyo. After that experience, you must understand how much I hate road trips. Being in the car for over an hour is torture, and frankly, anything in the states I'd want to see is very accessible by plane or train.

Speaking of train, I'm going to PAX this year (by train, from Vancouver to Seattle) - anyone else attend any cons? E3, PAX-East, Comic Con, VidCon?

Anyway, my topic of choice for this week will be writing, which is mostly what I've been doing for this past month. My long-term project, "The Dust of Dead Desire", is on a rocky road right now. I'm at that point where I know my book inside-out. I can recite certain passages from memory without stammering, and that is grossly detrimental to my ability to continue with it. I can't read the passages blindly, I fill in blanks without realizing there were blanks to begin with. As an example, say I wrote the sentence "The quick brown fox jumps over lazy dog." Let's say you've written that sentence about eleven times now over the course of three years, obsessively plotting it and planning it, and you can recite the entire paragraph it is found in. Your eyes just sort of... glaze over while reading it. You don't notice that the the in the sentence is missing from this draft, because you're so used to it being there that you see it there.

As such, I am left with basically just saying that this is the final draft, giving it a few good edits and fixing a few sentences, and settling. After that, I don't really know. Not the most marketable piece. Everything is very tied together at this point in it's existence, every subplot is as essential as the main plot, and to remove any character will require at least two further drafts to work. I love how my piece is, but there are many things in it that a publisher would definitely want to cut. The relatonship between a fourteen-year-old girl, a twenty-something man, and his father, for instance, is not high marketability. It's basically Lolita, except it doesn't really condemn it and they are all elves. The aforementioned girl has a brother in a homosexual, polygamist relationship that I doubt the world's quite progressive enough to handle as an unspoken of element of the story.

On the same token, I don't really want to self-publish it. I have other projects waiting to be written that are at least a bit more marketable, and one that looks as though it could be my literary opus (though "The Dust of Dead Desire" will always be my creative opus), and there's still a lot of stigma attached to self-publication, enough that if I'm not successful with my attempts at selling "The Dust of Dead Desire", and again: paedophilia, polygamy, all cool, then I would have to hide it from future publishers for my other works. Which basically means I am just going to have to put it, my baby, in a folder for many years until I can fine tune it and present it with confidence to my established agent and publisher.

Oh well. It'll always be there for me to revisit. I suppose I may as well tell you about my newest project, the one which will likely occupy my efforts now that I'm done with this. Titled, "Tremble" mostly for the other name for 'milk sickness'. Takes place in a world with a single continent, one which stretches in full around the world. The only way to cross would be through the lands or by a river or canal. A couple hundred years ago, snakeroot - a fantasy weed based mostly on the real plant - spread like a plague and made the lands barren, and the livestock inedible. People took to the seas, on grand ships of unspeakable magnitude, though there were those who stayed on land, many immune to the trembles.

The main character is Regulus, one of the seafarers, who want to cross to the other sea to obtain a rare basilisk's eye (Regulus is often cited as the Latin name for basilisk, as an aside), however the world's ever increasing heat has dried up many canals and made the rivers too narrow or shallow to sail. He finds a desert dweller, a woman named Galene, and she offers to help him cross the savannah, the safest place for the two of them. The whole thing is rather surreal after the premise is established, though. Lots of unspeakable horrors on the continent, things with two many eyes or mouths, an elephant with a thousand trunks, and just your standard fare of fantasy foe (there are sphinxes featured prominently in the desert scenes). It's also not particularly happy, I reckon I'll just have them both die in the desert. :P

Monday, July 25, 2011

Friday has a (quasi) excuse, but is still sorry

*sulks into frame* Yeah.... hey guys... sorry I'm late and stuff. I was going to be posting late on Saturday anyway, but I wasn't going to be this late. To clarify, I'm in Connecticut right now at my family cottage with some friends. We drove from Michigan to here in one go on Saturday (12.5 hours). As I do, I left my packing until the last minute on Friday, so I chose to forego blogging in favor of getting to bed before midnight (I got to bed at 1:30). We spent Saturday driving and I was planning on blogging when we got to Connecticut, but tiredness got the best of me. And then (!) on Sunday, the internet here was not working so, well, there you go. Well, I'm here now! (Also, I think it would be helpful if you guys know my twitter (cestchristina), I can update it via text so if I ever don't have internet again, I can let you know. Do any of you have twitters?

So, onto the topic... I had trouble thinking of what to write about for this last week. I haven't lost much in my life so far. My grandma, my cat, some classmates that I didn't know well or even really talk to... I decided finally to talk about college, more specifically the campus. I went to the University of Michigan (and okay, I still technically live right by campus, but only for a couple more weeks and then I'll be gone from Ann Arbor). I love Ann Arbor and will miss it so much. I love walking around campus (which, unlike many campuses, is integrated into the city, there's no separate U of M campus), walking through the downtown streets, going to the Arboretum. One of my favorite ways to spend the evening is walking to the library, stopping at my bank, and just stopping in to any shops I pass that I feel like going in that day. My favorite used book shop, Dawn Treader, is right around the corner from my apartment and I love just going in there and browsing the shelves and shelves of obscure books (and I always stop in the kids' section to see what copies of Harry Potter they have at the moment). The original Borders is also right by my apartment and I am so sad to be seeing it go. In Ann Arbor, Borders feels more like a local book store than a huge national chain. It was started by two U of M grads and has been right there in downtown Ann Arbor since it first began. It's sad to see the going out of business signs in the windows now. In mid-August, I'll also be losing, along with Ann Arbor, some of the friends that I've made here. One is moving out to New York City, another will be going to grad school at Berkley, my roommate to med school at WashU in St. Louis... Some I probably won't see again. I know I'll see my roommate again, but don't know when. I always knew this time would come and I'm really to move on from college (and move to France!), but going through it is still sad.

My friends and I are now heading out to lunch in a nearby town, so I will be seeing you all on Friday (on time!). I await my punishment...

Monday is a seasoned traveler!

Hello, girls, it’s Monday, and I’m back in my home time zone. But more on that later. First stop, punishments!

Carlyn and Christina – This will by no means be the extent of your punishments, but you have each earned three weeks of topic choosing. I shall let you know which weeks in due course. Christina, I do hope everything’s all right, since we haven’t heard from you at all over the weekend.

And now for JAB week. As one might expect, I will be talking about my vacation.

So, you all knew I was heading out to Seattle for my cousin’s wedding. But what I am not entirely sure of is whether or not I mentioned that we were driving. My family of five grown adults. In a five-seat car. From Bowling Green, Ohio to Seattle, Washington. I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in.

Over the course of my seventeen-day trip, we drove a total of 5,300-some miles, crossed through twelve states (Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Iowa), listened to the entire Percy Jackson series on audio book, visited at least five national parks and one national monument, and saw much, much more of the country than I have ever seen before. Of the twelve states we visited, six were entirely new to me (Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming), one was essentially new, as I’ve only seen an airport in Minnesota, and Iowa was the wild card, as I honestly can’t remember whether I’ve been there before or not.

The driving part of the trip was honestly not as bad as I thought it would be. Like I said, we spent quite a bit of it listening to the entire Percy Jackson series on audio book. That was 52 hours of material, so it took up quite a bit of time. The rest of the time we listened to soundtracks from musicals, and then for a bit of nostalgia, the old Tom Chapin kids’ tapes we still know by heart from when we made a fairly regular drive from Illinois to Ohio and back three times a year. So the time passed actually fairly quickly, especially on the drive out, when were logging between 400 and 600 miles a day.

Time passes very surreally in that case. For five days, all we did was drive, eat, and check in at motels. Occasionally we stopped at a few natural landmarks. We commented frequently in the beginning that eastern North Dakota looked a lot like Minnesota which looked a lot like Wisconsin which looked a lot like Illinois which looked a lot like Indiana which looked a lot like Ohio, but once we hit a pull-off at the Painted Canyon of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the North Dakota Badlands, that changed. Like a lot. You don’t get views like that anywhere in Ohio, or anywhere in the Midwest. The vastness of it is what took my breath away. The vastness of that whole state, actually. Northwest Ohio where I live is flat as flat can be, but we have forest and trees that break up the view. In North Dakota? Same flatness, but nothing to stop you from seeing for miles and miles. It’s so huge, and so sparse. We could drive for hours and barely see another living soul, and then BAM! Civilization popped up out of nowhere. Teddy Roosevelt credits North Dakota for inspiring him to run for President, actually (fun fact). It’s not a place I’d want to live – far too few people for my liking – but it’s a beautiful state.

Montana was similar. There’s a reason they call it Big Sky country. We spent the night in Billings, and saw the slightly famed Boothill Cemetery, where people would bury their dead on the way out to the west coast. Also resting there is the scout who brought the news of Custer’s defeat. Billings is also home to The Place Where the White Horse Went Down, after a story of two Indian braves who returned to their tribal lands only to find their entire tribe dead or dying of the white man’s plagues. Rather than succumb to the disease, they rode their horses straight over the cliff, to die a faster and more noble death.

We made it through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and part of Minnesota on our first day’s drive. The next two days, however, were devoted almost entirely to North Dakota and Montana, respectively, just to give you a sense of the scope of things. Then, after spending whole days in a single state, we crossed Idaho in about an hour and a half. The last day’s push was to Seattle.

Eastern Washington looks nothing like you’d expect Washington to look. If I hadn’t known where we were, I would have guessed Arizona or New Mexico. Eastern Washington is a desert, a place where pull-offs warn you to watch for rattlesnakes and the ground is dry, sandy, and covered in brush. We stopped at the Ginkgo Petrified Forest National Park and did a modicum of hiking to see the petrified stumps of ancient trees.

Once in Seattle, our days were filled in a much more . . . urban way. Our first full day in Seattle, once all the family had arrived, we visited Pike’s Place Market downtown, which is a huge, multi-story farmer’s market. Ever seen fish flinging in Seattle? This is where it happens. It is home to the usual fruit and vegetable and jam and bread vendors, of course, but in its basement level, it houses bookstores and candy stores and clothing stores and one completely geektastic store where you can buy pretty much every movie screenplay ever written, and no few scripts for television shows as well. I bought The Princess Bride, and it is amazing. My brother bought the first draft of Star Wars: A New Hope. Understand, they filmed like the sixth or seventh.

Our next day in Seattle, we actually drove three hours away, to visit Mt, Rainier. My super outdoorsy uncle wanted to take us on a seven-mile loop hike near the summit, but we were unable to go through with that plan. Why? Eleven feet of snow might have had something to do with it.

I’ve never been able to throw snowballs at my brothers in the middle of July before, and I’ve really been missing out. We ended up doing a three-mile hike further down the mountain, away from the snow, but still enjoying temperatures of around sixty degrees. Mt. Rainier is beautiful, absolutely awe-inspiring. I was exhausted by the end of the day, but it was worth it for the sights we got to see. The Seattle weather even broke long enough for us to see the mountain’s summit.

The next two days were dedicated to the wedding, with the bridal shower on Thursday (followed by a production of The Tempest in the park) and the wedding itself on Friday (after a noon showing of Harry Potter seven, of course. I have my priorities straight). The wedding was beautiful. My cousin Carrie and her now-husband David got married on a dock by the bay, and it rained through the entire ceremony. The facility had huge white umbrellas that the maid of honor and best man held over the bride and groom, and they kept passing umbrellas out for the crowd as well. My aunt performed the ceremony and had so many nice things to say, even if those of us not enjoying the protection of an umbrella wished she hadn’t said quite so many.

We all consoled the bride and groom about the rain by saying it was a true Seattle wedding, and as true Seattle residents, they should be proud. The reception was lovely, and my uncle gave a Father of the Bride speech that brought everyone to tears – and if you knew my goofball of an uncle, you’d understand just how impressive that is.

Saturday, we celebrated my grandma’s 90th birthday with a huge family dinner at one of the houses we’d rented. We were going to grill salmon for everyone, but the wedding hall gave my aunt and uncle all the leftover food they’d paid for, so we had a huge meal of wedding leftovers instead! Then we did our classic family singalong and taught my cousin-in-law Jon all the sign language to our favorite Tom Chapin song “Family Tree.” You could call that a rite of passage to our family.

Sunday was a dim sum brunch in downtown Seattle with the bride and groom before they left on their honeymoon. I’d never had dim sum before, but I do recommend it if you get the chance. It’s a fun way to share a meal. Then my family took off, to start the long drive back home.

We stopped to see the Missoula M in Missoula, Montana, and said a technical hello to Hank Green. We also paid our two dollars each to see the Berkeley Pit of Butte, Montana, and I cannot get over the fact that the poisoned pit of acid in the old open copper mine that is threatening to poison the town in ten years’ time is a tourist attraction. With a gift store. And a giant statue of the Virgin Mary looking over it. This is America, folks.

We spent a full day in Yellowstone on our way through Wyoming, and that was gorgeous and totally made up for the fact that we ran out of gas on the way there and had to wait for AAA to come bring us a can to get us back on our feet. In Yellowstone we saw moose and buffalo (bison?) and some kind of antelope. Old Faithful was a bit of a tease and seven minutes late, and so failed to live up to its name, but was impressive nonetheless.

We saw Mt. Rushmore on our way through South Dakota, and can I just say, I thought it would be bigger. But I learned a lot of really neat trivia there, like the fact that the figures were originally going to be portrayed from the waist up, but they ran out of good rock halfway down, so had to settle for headshots. And Jefferson was originally on Washington’s left until the sculptor decided he didn’t like the visual and so blasted the face off and started over. Also, Delaware has no national parks and Gutzon is an awesome name you wish got used more.

Once we were out of Mt. Rushmore and the South Dakota badlands, though, there were no more sights to see, really, and that’s when we all started to get a little impatient and eager to be home. My brothers and I started playing the “Oh my god, what do you mean, we’re still in South Dakota?” game. We all rejoiced when we hit Minnesota that day, before immediately going into the “When are we out of Minnesota?” game.

But we made it back, safe and sound, and it was quite a trip, all things considered. Believe it or not, I’ve given you the shortened version here. Kudos if you read through all my ramblings. I was going to leave you with a picture of my family in front of a snowbank, but that will have to be edited in later once I'm on my own computer and not the library's.

I hope your last two weeks have been as enjoyable as mine, and Alexandra, I'll see you tomorrow!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Week 20: JAB Week

So, it's week 20, and you all know what that means! First, it's time for Just Another Blog. Second -- holy cow, we've been doing this thing for five months!!

And it looks like we've got a couple punishments to hand out as well, one for Carlyn and one for Christina. Thoughts?

Also, don't forget that next week is Christina's challenge -- I hope you've all found some great charities. I look forward to hearing about them!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thursday is Materialistic

So far, every one of you have made me cry, so I'm going to write about something completely stupid and try to be funny.

I miss Fairy Winkles. And Sky Dancers. I don't know about you, but I used to love these toys dearly. I was as dedicated to my Fairy Winkles as most girls were to their Barbies (and they were a lot less perfect, and some of them were downright ugly). I loved going through my collection and sorting out the different fairy winkles based on size and characteristics, and I absolutely hated it if the different characters were placed with different sets. I am almost certain that I used to have every single Fairy Winkle set in existence, and I would sell half of my soul if I could find all of them, in perfect condition. I'd sell the other half for my Sky Dancers. They were like helicopter toys, except they were pretty fairies too, like if Barbie could fly, or be weaponized against your sisters (and believe me, Barbies can hurt if you sling them by the hair like David fighting Goliath). The biggest acheivement for me or my sisters was being able to set a Sky Dancer to flight, and then catch it in its launcher. The launchers! They were just as cool as the actual fairies, and would sometimes sparkle.

Why can't they make as cool of toys now as they used to? Seriously?

Also, please tell me that I'm not just imagining that toys these cool used to exist.

And I do believe this is my last week of choosing topics (until a week or two from now anyways), but someone please tell me if I'm wrong.

Wednesday is... going to receive punishment.


I wish I could claim a different time zone… but I can’t. I’m late. Again, I say DANG IT.

So anyway… on with the blogging…

Casey: I agree whole-heartedly with your many HP scene references. Neville especially. I agree with Cassie (and probably everyone else) that he is the ballin’est of all. Which is also now a word : )

Christina: I also agree. The twins are about Numbers 1 and 2 on my favorite HP character list, with Neville not far behind. And Snape, and Lupin… Okay, yeah, good list!

Cassie: You are indeed a storyteller, and I feel honored to have read your depiction of your cousin Ethan. He sounds like a unique and important part of your life, and I’m glad you chose to share him with us.

Alexandra: Your story of Kris resonates with me. It’s hard to lose a friend, especially one who sits so close to our hearts. I hope you hear from her sometime, and I hope she’s doing well.

Like Alexandra, I have lost little in my life. I have lost three grandparents, but one was when I was pretty young, and the other two I never really knew. I have lost touch with friends, both intentionally and unintentionally. And I have gone through lots of distinct phases in my life that are no longer with me.

I’ve had a hard time deciding what to write about this week. I could write about my friend Eric who killed himself. Or about Valerie, my childhood friend with Down syndrome who died at 11 of leukemia. Or about Reis, who was the roommate of the (now) gay guy I dated my freshman year of college who dropped out after a semester due to mental health concerns. Or I could write about the religion I was raised with but no longer espouse, or friends I have chosen to cut ties with for various reasons.

But I think I’m going to do something different. I’m going to tell you about Ramone.

Ramone was a cat. When I was about 9, my mom took my sister and me to a farm about an hour away. When we got out of the car and started walking towards the barn, two tiny black kittens skittered across our path. We looked at Mom and knew: we were getting a kitten.

Once in the barn, Farmer Dan (honestly the man’s name, I tell you) showed us the kittens. There were just the two left, but my sister and I were enthralled by the little things. Seeing how much we adored the creatures, Farmer Dan told us to hold on a minute. He went into the house and came back out holding a black cat. It was full-grown, but about half the size of a normal cat and with a squished little face that looked like it had run into a wall at full tilt. Its name was Ramone, and it had been the runt of the last litter six months before. Farmer Dan told us that Ramone needed a good home, and threw in one of the littler kittens (whom we named Dart, and who lived for 9 wonderful years after that) for free once Mom decided that Ramone could come home with us. The two cats cost $2.50 each, once all was said and done.

Ramone was the most wonderful of cats. No matter where you were in the house, Ramone was there, ready to be picked up and flipped over and held like a baby, purring outrageously all the while. I slept on the top bunk in my room, and most nights I would be awakened by the sound of footsteps on my ladder—Ramone, of course, climbing up to sleep under the covers at my feet. Once, Ramone slipped and fell off the ladder; luckily, I caught a paw and hoisted a very frightened and grateful cat up to curl up with me.

When I was 11, I went with People to People to Australia. I missed my family, of course, and my friends, and familiar territory. But when I talked to my friends about what I was going to do first when I got home, my story was always the same: I was going to pick up Ramone and never let go. I loved that cat.

I got home from Australia on July 7, 2001. On July 8, Ramone started acting funny. On July 9, Ramone was clearly quite ill. On July 10, we took Ramone to the veterinarian. We were informed that, probably due to some congenital defect or disease, Ramone was a very ill cat—and, as a side note, was not the female cat we had assumed. We were cautioned that Ramone might not last much longer; that night, I cried harder than I ever have in my whole life, stricken through by the knowledge that I was about to lose my best little cat friend.

The morning of July 11, Ramone didn’t wake up.

We buried her in a shoebox in the woods behind our house, putting with her in the box a butter wrapper. She always loved butter… which was a little weird. But then, she always was a weird cat.

For several months after that, I’d have dreams every once in a while where Ramone would make an appearance. Unlike other dead-pet dreams I’ve had, Ramone’s presence was always welcome and calming—like the dream wherein she was inexplicably sitting on the kitchen counter when I came home from school, probably after eating an entire stick of butter, as she was unfortunately wont to do.

That is the story of Ramone the Cat. She was not meant for this world, but she was a shining gem of a little cat friend that will ever remain in my memory and in those of those who knew her.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday's Lost Little but Friends

Truthfully, my life has been one free of any hardships or loves. The closest person to me who has ever died was my granddad, a right old codger who I never liked and was too young to appreciate. Most of my friends just grew apart from me naturally, through distance and through time. Even Harry Potter doesn't affect me too heavily. It's been a huge part of my life for very long, but I have greater concerns than I once did and it just doesn't hold that same spot in my heart. It's nowhere near my favourite book series - probably not even in the Top 50 - and though I have that heart of nostalgia, it just doesn't resonate as strongly as it may have before.

The only thing that ever meant anything to me that I am truly saddened to see end was a friendship, with a girl named Kristen. Kris, I usually called her. We were very close. We met in seventh grade, around January in our math class, and we were close. Loved Harry Potter, loved Yu-Gi-Oh!, loved a lot of the same bands, same anime, same movies (we both loved us some Freddy and Jason). We had a lot in common, and until the tenth grade, we were right inseparable. She got mono that year, the old "kissing" disease (though I doubt highly she got it from kissing; not the type), and after that, things fell down hill. I still went to her house often, we watched telly and talked on the phone about our favourite books. But over the year, at school, I grew closer to Carina, who at the time was more of a casual friend. We were basically best friends by the end of the year, hanging out after school once a week, at the library once a week, and often at one another's homes for a sleepover or just for five or six hours to do nothing. Kris came back to school, for a time, but things had changed.

She was a hypochondriac, and paranoid to the highest degree. She looked down on education and considered their inability to compensate for her constant absence to be the school's fault, and she dropped out. She began studying her own thing, taking the Regents (state tests in NY) at other schools, she got her GED. Over those years, I became closer and closer with Carina, and the group we formed with Eric and Gayle. But through it all, I still considered Kris to be my closest friend. We had a bond, and it was hard to pull apart. Even when she became more and more paranoid, when she refused to talk to any of her friends but me, when she removed all traces of herself from the internet - the only form in which she ever socialized any more. She grew to have a rather unhealthy obsession with Joseph Stalin, of all things, and she locked her interests in place, refusing to ever watch a new show or read a new book if it weren't part of the worlds she knew. We only saw each other every few months, we only talked a couple times a month, but hell, I still remember her phone number.

I moved to Vancouver - opposite coast, quite the distance. I fell out of touch with many of my friends, and these days the only ones I speak to regularly are Carina and our mutual friend, Nick. Kristen, though, she couldn't handle it. I was her link, her connection to the world outside her overcramped apartment (they were hoarders, too, just to add to the list) with her out-of-work mother. They moved to Washington, not wanting to cross the border but willing to move to be close.

We've seen each other once since then. I used to call her often. I told her about my classes - she decided not to go to college, so she could write her books (I hope she still writes; she never had great stories, but she was a fantastic writer in terms of prose alone). I went to their house for Columbus Day (up here, that's Thanksgiving - I don't know why it is different in Canada). Their apartment was smaller, and they slept on fold out couches meant for children - they were both small, her mother was under 5' - and still neither worked, but they spent money like it grew on trees. I had a fair amount of money at the time, my parents were still paying for me and we never wanted for anything, but even I was more conservative than she. We went to an EB Games and a Borders (R.I.P.), and I spent about $70. Got the first volume of a manga I love, a DS game, and an anthology of one of my favourite fantasy series of all time. She spent $200 on the first day, and about $150 the second. On games I knew she never played, on manga that I knew it took her weeks to read. And they did this often. All of the clerks knew them by name. And their apartment was a mess. The books were all neatly organized - she wouldn't have it any other way - but they were in piles as high as the ceiling, the bookcases long since filled sideways, long ways, even diagonally if nothing else worked. I remember she even had a doll house - an old, plastic Fisher Price one that I remembered having as a kid. A little girl in my fiance's family has that same doll house, too.

The last time I spoke to Kris was on her 19th birthday. I called, I told her I was moving into an apartment with a friend, and I wished her well. I've tried to call her since, but the phone has been disconnected. I've tried to find her, I've even considered calling her grandmother (who always liked me, and always worried about the pair of them, as I did), and I just about did the day I got engaged. I wish I could speak with her again, tell her about my life, see if she has changed. A part of me worries about her, if her finances held up, if she's gone to school... but I may never know.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday's got heart

Hello, girls, it’s Monday, and I’m in Montana! I say this because that puts me in Mountain Time. I am staying honest as to my location. :)

So, my cousin’s wedding was beautiful and a blast, and I’ve seen a lot of awesome and awe-inspiring sights and countryside, but I’ll likely talk about all that next week, so I shan’t say any more about it. Onto more important matters.

Harry Potter. I saw it, though (for the first time ever) unfortunately not at midnight on the 15th *shakes fist at unfortunate circumstances* But I did see it on the 15th, and I really enjoyed it. I think it’s one of the best that they’ve made, and while I had some minor issues with some minor points, I felt that it was very strong overall. I sobbed more than once, and I can’t wait to see it again. Neville is awesome, and I’m totally leaving my boyfriend for him (my boyfriend knows and accepts this).

But as this is NOT Harry Potter week, I will not dwell on the movie, but move on to more serious topics.

It’s interesting for me that Casey chose this topic this week, as it touches on something I was going to talk about when I hit Christina’s challenge week. I certainly don’t mind talking about it now, though it won’t be near as poetic and well thought out as it might otherwise have been.

We’re getting to a pretty nostalgic time of year for me, enhanced by the fact that I just spent a week with my extended family. See, July 28th is coming up right around the corner, and sixteen years ago on July 28th, my cousin Ethan was born. Six months later, he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He wasn’t expected to live more than a few months. He lived for ten years. Whenever my family gets together as the end of July approaches, our thoughts will invariably turn to Ethan. And when I’m asked to remember something that was a huge part of my life that is no longer present, it is Ethan that I think of immediately.

I could tell you he was an extraordinary kid. I could tell you that he was and is an inspiration to everyone who knew him. I could tell you that he lived his life to the fullest, every moment of it. And all of those things would be true. But the more I’ve been researching charities (spoiler warning for the kind of charity I’ll be supporting?), the more I’ve noticed that these are the things that always get said about kids who die young. Not just kids who die from cancer, but any child who dies before his or her time. And this started me thinking . . . is it the cancer that makes the kids this way? I might be inclined to answer yes, in a way, if not for those others. The sudden deaths. The ones who die without warning and still have such attributes assigned to them.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t deny that these things are true. I believe fully that every child described as living every moment of his or her life to the fullest is described accurately. But I also think this is something true of every child who lives.

Kids are curious. Kids are in love with life. Kids live. But when kids die young, we as adults recognize our own mortality, and so it’s this love of life that sticks out. It’s the love of life that we remember.

I’m not expressing this well because my clock’s counting out the time til midnight and I’m in a room with my family and so can’t think out loud and I can’t get up and walk out my thoughts. I think what I’m trying to say is this: the tragedy of a short life reminds us all how precious life is. And when we reflect on that, we attribute our awareness of life to the life that was lived.

My cousin Ethan loved life, and lived every minute of it to the fullest. But so does my cousin Ben. And my little brother. And the kids I direct in shows. The kids themselves are the miracle. The goal for adults is to remember to live our lives that way at all times, not just when a life is cut short. That’s what Ethan and all my other cousins have taught me.

Around this time of year, I start reflecting on the life that was lived and the person who lived it. If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to do that here this year.

Ethan Lillard liked to sing.

He loved to laugh and make others laugh.

His favorite card game was UNO.

Carrie, the cousin who just got married, was his favorite cousin.

The kid had a whole lot of snark, especially for a six, eight, ten-year-old.

He could throw a mean temper tantrum about whether or not it was time to go to bed.

He liked to pull my hair.

He constantly exceeded expectations.

He hugged like he meant it – because he did.

He inspired the jumpstart in my writing.

He was incredibly stubborn.

Showtunes were his favorite – and he knew a ton of them by heart.

He was a fighter.

He frequently beat me at UNO – and I sure as hell didn’t let him win!

He loved chocolate.

While his parents were having to break to all the family in April of 2005 that his tumors were spreading and not responding to any available treatments, he was singing “You Gotta Have Heart” in the background and making up his own words.

The last time I saw him was at Christmas 2004, almost ten months before he died. I didn’t see him laid out in his coffin. I didn’t want to. I wanted my last memory of him to be the smiling, singing, laughing boy I’d loved so well. And it is. But I enjoy remembering everything else – that he wasn’t perfect. That he had a stubborn streak a mile wide. That he could, occasionally, get on my nerves. Those memories make him human, and I am grateful for that.

This post is in memory of him. Not quite on the same level as Harry Potter, I guess, but this time of year, there really isn’t much else for me to talk about. I’ll leave you with a photo, and the lyrics to his favorite song. My cousin played this as the prelude to her wedding, in honor of Ethan. It’s from a musical about baseball, but that hardly matters.

“Gotta Have Heart” from Damn Yankees

You've gotta have heart
All you really need is heart
When the odds are sayin' you'll never win
That's when the grin should start

You've gotta have hope
Mustn't sit around and mope
Nothin's half as bad as it may appear
Wait'll next year and hope

When your luck is battin' zero
Get your chin up off the floor
Mister you can be a hero
You can open any door, there's nothin' to it but to do it

You've gotta have heart
Miles 'n miles n' miles of heart
Oh, it's fine to be a genius of course
But keep that old horse
Before the cart
First you've gotta have heart

A great slugger we haven't got

A great pitcher we haven't got

A great ball club we haven't got

What've we got?

We've got heart
All you really need is heart
When the odds are sayin' you'll never win
That's when the grin should start

We've got hope
We don't sit around and mope
Not a solitary sob do wwe heave
Mister, 'cause we've got hope

We're so happy that we're laugh'
That's the hearty thing to do
‘Cause we know our ship will come in
So it's ten years overdue

We've got heart
Miles 'n miles 'n miles o' heart
Oh, it's fine to be a genius of course
But keep that old horse before the cart

So what the hecks the use of cryin'?
Why should we curse?
We've gotta get better, 'cause we can't get worse!
And to add to it, we've got heart.

Ethan Robert Lillard
July 28, 1995 - September 28, 2005

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Week 19: In Memory of...

Well, Harry Potter is gone, and we no longer have the movies or books to look forward to. I hope that Pottermore will be good, but there's no way of knowing yet.

In memory of a series that has touched not just our lives but the lives of everyone in our generation (because even if you haven't seen or read Harry Potter, you know it's there), the theme this week will be to write about something that was a big part of your life at one point in time, but for whatever reasons is no longer physically there. Good luck, and look forward to your posts.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Blogging from the other side (no spoilers)

Well, it's out. We're on the other side of Harry Potter, so to speak, and it feels so odd. I still can't wrap my head around it and I don't really want to. I'll put it out there, after the last scene faded to black last night, I sobbed. There was a steady stream of tears going from The Prince's Tale through the end. Once the credits started rolling it just hit me that it was over and I couldn't keep it in. But enough about the sadness! What did you guys think of the movie? My first reaction? I thought it was amazing! In the past, upon leaving the theater for the first time I'd be critical of what they changed in the movie and what I didn't like, gradually warming up to the movie and talking about what I liked. With Part 2, though, my first thought after it was over (and after the tears) was "that was amazing!" I'm seeing it again in about an hour, so I'll be able to cement my opinion of it, but as of now it's my favorite of the movies. Yes, of course things were changed, but I think the movie was true to the spirit of the book and a great send off for the fans.

Okay, onto the list! Given today's momentous occasion, I've been planning on doing a Harry Potter related top five. I was actually going to do a top five list of moments from Harry Potter, but Casey beat me to it! So instead, I present to you my top five characters (excluding the trio).

1. Neville Longbottom. Do I even need to explain this one? No? Okay, good. I will a little bit anyway, though. Neville is a very real character to me. He's not the bravest, not the smartest, not the "-est" really (except in Herbology), but he always tries his best and doesn't lose heart. He's lived with tragedy his whole life, but perseveres regardless. And, come on, it's Neville. Okay, I will amend my earlier statement: Neville is the bad ass-est. (Which is now a word.)

2. Remus Lupin. My love for Lupin really started when I last reread Prisoner of Azkaban. It had only been a year or so since I'd last read it, but reading it as a 21 year old gave me an oddly different viewpoint of the book than reading it as a 20 year old. Maybe I'd grown up and matured more than I'd realized in that past year, but I felt like I was getting a much more "adult" view of the book than I had on previous readings. That new viewpoint made me sympathize with Lupin's character much more than I had before. He was really a wonderful role model for Harry and I wish we could have seen more of him in the books.

3. Bellatrix Lestrange. Evil to the core, yes, but she's so fascinating. She really is just bat shit crazy and we love and hate her for it. I'm failing at coming up with more reasoning behind this choice, but really she just fascinates me.

4. Severus Snape. You can't deny it, for the most part he really is a huge ass, but he's a brave ass who did the right thing. He lived with only one man knowing the truth about him, while nearly everyone else around him believed him to be deeply evil and despised him. Not the nicest or best person, but one of the best characters.

5. George Weasley. I always struggle when it gets to this point in a "favorite HP characters" list. I want to put down both Fred and George because the books and movies don't always make it the easiest task to discriminate between the two of them, but they are two different characters. I've chosen George because I do like his more reserved nature. Fred was the one who instigated most of their pranks and was more immediately outgoing, whereas George was a bit quieter and displayed a more caring nature. Both great characters, but what pushes me slightly over to George is that (if I had to choose), I think I'd rather be friends with him.

And there we are! I wish I could spend more time on this list to go into more detail about the characters, but I'm off to see Part 2 again!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thursday is going to see Harry Potter!!!

I want to hurry up and type my post so I can sleep before going to the midnight show of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two (HPDH2) so my post will be a little bit short today. And because Harry Potter is so close I can smell him (a lot like treacle tart if you're curious) I am going to post my top five favorite moments from the series. These are from the book only, because none of the movies created a moment which could top anything J.K. Rowling came up with (except maybe the end of CoS, when the whole Great Hall is applauding Hagrid's return from Azkaban, even if it was stupid and heartwarming). Also, no particular order.

1. The Seven Potters (because you can't pluralize Harry) from DH
I enjoyed this chapter so much because, c'mon, it's got seven people trying to be Harry. The Weasley twins are cracking jokes, Hermione's making fun of his eyesight, and Fluer just goes for the throat and calls him "hideous". This is one of those scenes that was actually very enjoyable on screen because I got to see Dan in a bra, and without a shirt on. Also, it was very nice to have a little bit of comedy before Jo goes on a murder rampage as soon as Harry leaves Privet Drive.

Best Line: Fred and George - "Hey! We're identical!"

2. Malfoy the Bouncing Ferret from GoF
Do I really need to explain these? Malfoy has a case of bigarseholeitis and it was perhaps the shining moment of the fourth book (and for sure the fourth movie) when he finally gets his comeuppance. Crazed psycho killer torturer or not, Barty Crouch Jr. gets some serious kudos for pulling this stunt.

Best Line: Professor McGonnagal - "Is that a student?!?"

3. Wizard Chess from PS/SS
I love Ron, for all his tactlessness. Honestly, Harry and Hermione tend to get on my nerves every so often, so even Ron constantly complaining in DH was able to evade my irritation. However, for some reason, everyone seems to dump on Ron, including Jo. In the first book, she displays Ron's prowess at strategy when he defeats a life size wizard chess set enchanted by McGonnagal, who by no means is incapable of logical strategic thinking (see DH for more details), but no mention or hint is given in the rest of the books to Ron's potential leadership skills. This is one of my favorite moments because only one other scene in the books displays Ron's skills or virtues to my satisfaction.

Best Line: There really isn't one I can think of right now.

4. Ron Destroys Horcrux, Saves Harry from DH
This of course is the other scene in which Ron is shown as the hero everyone secretly knows he is. Having just gone through some pretty rough times after leaving the group (though admittedly not as rough as Harry and Hermione), he heads back to them using the Illuminator and finds Harry in a bit of a pickle because Harry is sorta busy drowning in a freezing cold pond. Without pause, Ron jumps in fully clothed to drag Harry's ass and the sword of Gryffindor to safety. Then later, after hugs and happiness, Ron is able to destroy the locket even though it too is rubbing in his face how not good he is. Arsehole locket.

Best Line: Again, can't think of any specific line.

5. Neville PWNS Voldemort from DH
I really could have picked any scene of Neville being awesome in any books (though really, that only happens in the last two), but this scene is epic win. Faced with certain death, Neville refuses to give in to Voldemort, and after Voldemort attacks him with a Flaming Sorting Hat, Neville just shrugs it off, pulls out the sword of Gryffindor, and decapitates Lord Voldemort's most very favorite piece of his soul. Just another day in the life of Neville Longbottom, badass.

Best Line: Please, anything Neville says in DH is gold.

You may notice that many of my favorite scenes are from DH, but this is only because I remember it better, and it really does include some of the best scenes for many characters.

Honorable Mention: GOT YOUR CONK!!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wednesday is feeling--OH LOOK a butterfly!

Christina: YAY HP7:2! I've got my tickets, seeing as it's a double feature in my town. Part 1 starts at 9, followed by the premiere of Part 2 at midnight. I wish it weren't in 3D, but I guess that's just the way things are going these days. My perceptual preferences will have to get used to it.

Cassie: My favorite fairy tales... I'm not nearly so versed in them as you are, but just from the summaries you've related here, I may count those among my top few! Most of the fairy tales I've encountered have had distressingly weak characters (most often the "heroine"), so I never really found myself their particular fan.

Top 5 Favorite Random Things (in no particular order):

A) Favorite musical interval: Minor sixth.
This is the interval made by starting at one note and playing the one a minor sixth (up a major scale to the perfect fifth and then up one more half step). I couldn't really say why it's my favorite; it just resonates in my soul. And my synesthesia dictates that nostalgia sounds like it.

2) Favorite movie: Evening.
Not a whole lot of people know about this movie, but has an all-star cast (Claire Danes and Meryl Streep, to name just two) and is absolutely beautifully done. The story is of a woman at the end of her life, and her two daughters have come to help her out. In the woman's dreams, we get to see portions of her life and the people who came and went and the love that was (and was not). It is amazing. You must see it.

III) Favorite artist: Wassily Kandinsky.
I'm afraid I can't claim to know very much about the history or circumstances surrounding Kandinsky's life and work, but all of it is amazing. His use of color is mesmerizing, and the shapes he creates with that color are out-of-this-world delightful.

....-) Favorite webcomic: Toothpaste for Dinner.
Natalie Dee is amazing. She and Drew (her husband), if you don't know, have a network of webcomics that will keep you in stitches for hours (or, if you're like me and went through the entire archives as soon as you discover her, days and perhaps months). TfD is a hilarious commentary on such things as grammar, politics, dreams, family life, boring office work, and pretty much anything else. If you are a nerd, you will love Toothpaste for Dinner. But then, you may already have known that.

101) Favorite cold-weather garment: Mittens.
Mittens rock. They keep all your fingers together in one happy family. Also, in my own happy family at home, we call them "flap units" and hit each other with them every time we wear them. That is why mittens are my favorite cold-weather garment. (Upon reading this paragraph, I also realize that it sounds like a fourth-grade response to a writing prompt.)

SO YEAH. Those are my top five favorite random things.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tuesday's Tops and Tumblr, Too

By some happy coincidence, I am doing a top five/top ten list week over the span of this week over on my tumblr, which I started prior to know what the theme would be over here. Haha. Please enjoy this convenient link. Over there, I will have my top ten favourite anime, manga, books, movies, tv shows, cartoons, authors, artists, songs, bands, etc. All the usual stuff. But as I am not really explaining any of those choices, I guess I will pick one at random and elaborate on each of the top five. :P

Arbitrarily, I have chosen to talk about manga! Don't read it? Deal with it.

Saikano: The Last Love Song on this Little Planet
 This is a great love story told midst the end of the world. The story is told in flash back, of a world destroyed by man (ambiguous, but likely the usual pollution, global warming, and so on sort of schtick). Japan is the last habitable place on Earth, and someone, perhaps everyone, has waged war on them. It focuses on two young teens in love, one of whom becomes the ultimate weapon for Japan. The story is about people during a war as much as it is about a weapon of mass destruction, and many of the side stories have little to do with the main couple, instead focusing on other couples who are torn apart by the war, becoming soldiers, civilian deaths, etc.

Vinland Saga
You may have gathered over our months blogging together that I happen to like vikings, Norse Mythology, etc. Vinland Saga is a great, historical drama about them, following mainly a man exploring North America. You'll see battles you could look up, real places, even a few real people. And it doesn't shy away from the more gruesome (bloody, cruel) aspects of the culture. It's violent, people die, and it doesn't really sugar coat it. The art is fantastic in this one, too, and the detail on some of the ships and clothing is fantastic. And the Vikings don't even have silly horns on their hats.

Dengeki Daisy
A romantic comedy, even! My tastes really kind of change when it comes to manga and anime; I hate romantic comedies, but damn the Japanese are good at it. It's about a high schooler whose brother died when she was young, leaving her the number of DAISY, who would support her if she felt she needed it. The two became friends through texts, but never met. After causing some trouble at school, she is forced to work alongside the curmudgeon, but young (and attractive), janitor who - you guessed it! - happens to be DAISY. 

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou
 And a bit more from the post-apocalyptic but not really what you'd expect from the genre crowd, here is Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, a story about an android who likes to ride her bike, take photographs, make friends, and shop. S'about it. The world appears to be flooded, and Japan's coast line is far closer than it should be, some cities are flooded or slowly flooding as the story progresses. It focuses on a lot of things, but mostly, it's just about people living out their lives as well as they can. Lots of pretty scenery shots, here, and a few questions about immortality (the android will outlive all of her human friends). It's just really, really sweet.

And on the exact opposite side of the spectrum, we have Uzumaki. Uzumaki is the Japanese word for spiral, and oh god, does this manga have spirals. It follows a young woman named Kirie and her boyfriend. She lives in a small, coastal town which is haunted by... spirals. Though a seemingly absurd premise, this is the most frightening thing in the world and you will never eat a cinnabun again. In fact, I recommend this if you are about to go on a diet. Please think of something that is spiral shaped, or something that spins. Yes, someone is going to be killed by it. Early on, the boyfriend's father becomes obsessed with spirals. He collects clay pots and plates, barber poles, etc. and eventually he curls himself up inside the washing machine and dies. Then, the mother and wife, becomes spiralphobic and cuts off her hair and finger tips, only to realize that there is a spiral inside of your ear, and she stabs herself in the head. Other people turn into snails, get strangled by curly hair, oh god the hand drills, get pulled up in tornadoes, and even just literally turn into spirals themselves and die from breaking their spine. :D

And to answer your fine questions,

I don't think I really have a favourite weather condition. I don't like it being very hot; I'd prefer very cold, but definitely prefer moderate-chilly to both of those. I like a bit of wind, and a light drizzle, but not heavy rain or anything. Definitely not too fond of the snow; I hate having to shovel and it makes getting places a pain. Indifferent otherwise.

My favourite thing about the 90s? Gargoyles. Disney cartoon that showed when I was a kid, never loved it much then, but I certainly love it now. Honestly can't say what I would have said at 9 or 10 (how old I would have been when the 90s ended). Probably Darkwing Duck. I used to love that show. I still do.

Final Harry Potter film? Excited, anxious. It really, really doesn't look like it will be that good, if I am honest. Particularly that dumb scene, "let's end this the way we started, Tom, together!" *hug, fall off cliff?* What is that? But it doesn't matter, I'll see it dozens of times and buy it on Blu-Ray and cry when that Warner Bros. logo pops up and during every scene. And I am going to the midnight premier.

As for fairy tales, I must admit that I'm more of a mythology woman, myself. I suppose there is a fair bit of crossover - some things that were myths received a bit of ambiguity and became fairy tales, or simply became fairy tales after the old religions were lost, but the heritage stayed around. Certainly grew up with the Disney movies, and I've read my Anderson and Grimm, but they never really caught my interest as thoroughly as other folklore. I suppose I like The Firebird and Princess Vasilisa.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday likes fairy tales -- and she isn't late!

So, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “It’s after midnight on Monday, and Cassie hasn’t posted yet! Hehehe, she’s totally gonna get punished!” Well, you would be correct – were I still in Ohio. But, sorry to disappoint you all, I am not. I am in Seattle, Washington, and it is only approaching ten o’clock out here. FYI, I will also be in this time zone next week, though by the week after, I should be back in home sweet Eastern Time Zone home.


Favorite weather: mid to high 70s, sun with a few clouds, no humidity. Mix that up with a few warm summer rains and a few impressive thunderstorms, and I am good to go.

Favorite thing about the 90s: 90s Nickelodeon TV. Clarissa Explains it All, Boy Meets World, the original All That, yes please. Kthnxbye.

Alexandra: I agree with your assessment of the first two HP movies. I know they get a lot of slack, but I really liked them, and I thought they were really pretty faithful, especially the first. I felt like I was watching the book play out in front of me, and that’s always gonna win this book lover’s heart. I disagree concerning Order of the Phoenix, but that’s a conversation for another day. :)

Carlyn: No shame concerning Little Mermaid – I loved the film when I was younger. I was actually a little obsessed. I had a Little Mermaid themed birthday party the year I turned five. I hold people in no shame for loving the movie as a child. But then I watched it after spending time researching fairy tales and learning about storytelling . . . and then I was appalled. As for the original story, it’s certainly not perfect (Anderson is very heavy-handed with his Christian morals and messages), but it’s overall message is beautiful, and it’s certainly worth the read.

Casey: I’m really enjoying your themes thus far! And I completely agree with Ella Enchanted – I liked the film for what it was, but it was not an adaptation of Levine’s beautiful novel. It wasn’t even Cinderella anymore. And while I don’t mind what the movie was, at some point, in my mind, you should really just write your own story if you’re going to change things that much.

Christina: Lord of the Rings: yes, yes, and more yes. I love the movies so much. I struggled through the books, and I feel like the movies captured the essence of the story so incredibly well! It’s like my mom and Jane Austen – I love the story. I have a really hard time reading the way it’s written. If I’d gone top five, it likely would have made my list.

And speaking of top fives, onto this week’s theme!

I went back and forth on what to do, but if the end, I settled on what I feel is most fitting for me. I have told you I’m a storyteller, I have discussed my favorite books, I have given you a taste of my opinion on The Little Mermaid, but it is time to truly break out a list uniquely suited to me:

Cassie’s Top Five Favorite Fairy Tales

5. Janet and Tam Lin (Scotland)

This is an old Scottish ballad. A young maiden by the name of Janet is warned never to go through the woods on her father’s land, because it is haunted by the fair folk. But she goes anyway, to an old ruin called Carter Hall, and when she breaks off a rose there, she is greeted by a young man named Tam Lin. Tam Lin is a servant of the fairy queen, and he and Janet fall in love, and eventually, one thing leads to another, and Janet becomes pregnant. Desperate to be with Tam Lin and give her child a father, she asks how she can break the spell that holds him to the fairy queen. He outlines the trials for her, and it is her task then to overcome them and rescue him.

I love this story because Janet is so incredibly kick ass. Here’s a girl, pregnant, who goes into the woods in the middle of the night to outwit the fairy queen through bravery, physical strength, and a test of her love – and wins. Janet is an incredibly strong character, rescuing her prince rather than the other way around. She is anything but passive.

Retelling worth reading: An Earthly Knight by Janet McNaughton

4. The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson

A young boy, named Kai, is kidnaped by the Snow Queen, the ruler of the winter. His best friend Gerda is left behind, and though everyone else believes him to be dead, she insists he is still alive, and so she sets out to find him. She must journey through each of the seasons and its challenges until she reaches the palace of the Snow Queen. There she must not only battle the frigid queen herself, she must also free Kai from the splinter of enchanted mirror lodged in his heart.

Again, kick-ass heroine, but what I love about this story is that there is no romance in it at all. It’s a girl going to save her dearest friend, the boy who is like a brother, but it’s not a romantic story. It’s a story of pure friendship, and there really aren’t enough of those. I also love the creation myth in this story, the origin of the seasons, and the personification of each that Gerda meets on her way.

Retelling worth seeing: The Hallmark movie with Brigit Fonda

3. The Lute Player (or, in my mind, the Minstrel Queen) from Andrew Lang’s Violet Fairy Book

A Queen’s husband is lost in battle, and for three years, all in his kingdom believe that he is dead. But then, one day, a message from the king gets through to his wife. He has been captured and is being held prisoner in a distant kingdom. He urges his wife to sell the castle and empty the coffers to gather money for his ransom. But the Queen doubts that the enemy king will release her husband for the gold, so she devises a different plan. She disguises herself as a minstrel boy and travels to the distant kingdom, using her music to free him from his prison. He doesn’t recognize her, however, and so once he is returned to his kingdom, he denounces her for her selfishness until she reveals her secret.

Are you noticing the pattern with these stories? I love this queen, unnamed, and her cleverness and initiative and bravery. She wasn’t content to let someone else free her husband – she took the risk herself. And in the end, she showed her true worth and how clever she really was until the king saw and appreciated her for her true self.

Retelling worth hearing: Heather Forrest’s minstrel storytelling version

2. The Squire’s Bride (Norwegian)

A greedy and selfish squire decides that he wants to marry the most beautiful girl in the lands under his command, who happens to be the daughter of a farmer who owes him money. The squire tells the farmer that he will forgive all the debt if the man gives him his daughter in marriage. The farmer tells the squire it is up to the daughter, who refuses to marry anyone for money. But the squire bullies the farmer into agreeing anyway, but the farmer can’t bring himself to tell his daughter. On the day of the wedding, the squire sends a servant for the girl, but neglects to tell the servant what exactly he’s fetching, and the farmer is too embarrassed to tell his daughter, so he sends the servant in his place. The daughter, figuring out what has happened and taking advantage of the situation, sends the horse back to the squire. Hijinks ensue.

This story is hilarious. Seriously, it’s one of the funniest fairy tales I’ve ever encountered. My summary doesn’t do it justice – you have to go read it for yourself. Again, another clever heroine, who takes her life into her own hands and doesn’t let herself be led around.

Retelling worth hearing: Heather Forrest’s minstrel storytelling version

1. East of the Sun, West of the Moon (Norwegian)

A White bear appears to a poor family and says he will improve their fortunes if they give him their youngest daughter. The family protests, but the daughter agrees to go. She is given every grand thing in the White Bear’s palace in the mountains, but every night a strange thing happens. The lights go out and cannot be relit, and someone slips into her bed and sleeps beside her. She cannot solve the mystery, but she grows accustomed to it, until she begins to sicken with homesickness. The White Bear agrees to let her visit her family. While home, her mother gets the story of the stranger out of her, and before she leaves to return to the white bear, her mother gives her a magic candle that will stay lit no matter what. Frightened of what sleeps beside her, the girl uses it, and discovers a young prince shares her bed. But the wax from her candle drips onto his shirt, and he wakes, revealing that he is the white bear, cursed by the trolls to live as a white bear by day and a man by night unless a maiden could sleep for a year beside him without seeing his face. She had nearly broken the spell, but she had failed, and so he would be taken to the land of the trolls, east of the sun and west of the moon, to marry the troll princess. And then she sets out to save him.

This story is far too complicated to summarize well. If I had to compare it to anything, I’d classify it as a Beauty and the Beast story, but it’s so much better than Beauty and the Beast. I love the heroine – because she’s human. She’s too curious, and it gets her into trouble. She’s flawed, and giving into her flaw has serious consequences. But rather than give up, she sets out to put things to rights. She journeys east of the sun and west of the moon to undo the damage she did and save the man who was a white bear from an unwanted marriage. I love that she makes mistakes and isn’t perfect, and I love that she rescues her prince in the end.

Retellings worth reading: East by Edith Pattou; Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George; Ice by Sarah Beth Durst

That’s my list. I’m curious. What are your favorite fairy tales?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Week 18: Top Five

This week we're going to blog about our top five...whatever. Which means, you can pick whatever type of favorite thing you want to blog about and then write about the five top things in that category. Should be simple, and should be fun!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Friday apparently has not seen many movies based on books

Fave weather:  Spring when it’s about 70 degrees and nicely sunny, but not too hot in the sun and with a nice breeze.  Also Fall under the same conditions, but about 60 degrees so you can comfortably wear a light jacket.

Fave thing about the 90s: This one’s hard! All my childhood nostalgia comes from the 90s, as that’s when I grew up (as we all did!), but I’ll pick just one part. I think my favorite part of it may have actually been that childhood wasn’t yet dominated by technology and the internet. Children didn’t have cell phones (hardly anyone except hardcore businessmen had cell phones when I was in elementary school), families were only just starting to get house computers, and more. When I’d play with my friends after school, we played with our toys, went outside to the playground, and in general used lots of imagination in everything. So, to sum up, my fave thing about the 90s would be that we lived without the massive connection to technology that we have now. (Don’t get me wrong, I love technology, but it’s always nice to get some time away.)

Okay, book-to-movie adaptations! First off, I’ll talk about some of my favorites:

1.       1. The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Yes, Peter Jackson changed some things, added in some, and edited out others, but I just love the finished product. I think the movies do a wonderful job of portraying the books and also led a whole new group of people to love the stories. It was the movies that led me to the books and the fandom, so they’ll always hold a special place in my heart for that reason as well.

2.     2.   Harry Potter-wise, Deathly Hallows Part 1 is also one of my favorite adaptations. In addition to the first and second films, I think this was the most book-accurate of the Harry Potter movies. There are omissions of course (Dumbledore’s family, anyone?), but overall the style and feel of the movie is, I think, very similar to the feel of the first half of the book. (I also have to take this moment to freak out a bit- Part 2 in one week?????? I’ve got my tickets and costume ready and will be bringing a pursefull of tissues to the theater, that’s for sure.)

As for bad adaptations:

1.      1.  I also have to mention Ella Enchanted. I loved that book when I read it in elementary school and the movie just did not do the job of telling the original story well. That scene where she jumps up, spins around, and kicks a bunch of people? No, just no.

2.       2. Again, Harry Potter-wise…. My least favorite HP book-movie adaptation is probably Order of the Phoenix. This may, actually, have something to do with the fact that OotP is my least favorite HP book. It also happens to be my least favorite HP movie. I found it to be very forgettable and it didn’t completely feel like a Harry Potter movie, you know?

My question for everyone: What are your thoughts on the last Harry Potter movie coming out and what are you doing next week for the premiere?!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thursday Wants to be a Millionaire!

First, I just want to say I love warm weather with some sun, but plenty of cloud cover to prevent painful sunburns.

As for my favorite books turned into movies, I have approximately two of them. First one being Slumdog Millionaire (directed by Danny Boyle who is pretty much one of the greatest directors ever). The original book was called Q & A, written by Vikus Swarup. I didn't read the book until a few days ago, but I have to say it was pretty amazing, even if it was slightly reminiscent of Forrest Gump (another really amazing book to movie adaptation). The thing that makes the movie work so well is how it makes all the truly improbably happenings from the book seem like they could really happen (as well as strengthen the romantic angle). Granted, almost everything in the movie is completely different from the book, but this isn't a book where the story is the most important thing, but the idea behind the story; that sometimes you get really lucky and it's the little insignificant things in our lives that make them so amazing.

The other one I would like to mention is Breakfast on Pluto (book by Patrick McCabe). I'll be completely honest; I haven't read the novel for this movie, but how can a movie with Liam Neeson, Brendan Gleeson, Stephen Rea, and Cillian Murphy (IN DRAG!) not be a truly amazing film? I'm pretty sure that there are discrepencies between the versions, but as with Slumdog Millionaire, this doesn't neccessarily take away from the quality of the film, and can even make it better sometimes.

Now, as for horrible adaptations, I would most definately say it's Eragon (really, no one liked it). They had a perfect cast (except for Sienna Guillory as Arya) and an amazing production value, but the script and story was horribly lacking the the director completely failed to direct anything (if you make Jeremy Irons look like a hack actor you suck at your job). Also, they totally botched the ending so horribly that a sequel wasn't even possible because there wouldn't have been any coherent thought between the first film and any proposed sequel films. And we all know that the point of making movies based on book series is to make more money by actually making more movies of those books. I know that y'all have already discussed this, but I need to vent my anger over the worst adaptation ever. Seriously, Twilight was better and that wasn't even a good book (although I suppose some argue the same for Eragon, but I digress).

I also think that Ella Enchanted was a failed attempt to adapt the novel by Gail Carson Levine. I sorta liked the movie; it had Anne Hathaway (perhaps my favorite actress), Cary Elwes (As you wish!), and I actually sorta enjoyed the anachronisms such as the wooden escalator. But having said that, I didn't feel like the movie had the right essence of the novel portrayed on screen. I can't pinpoint it exactly, but I think it's because the novel has a slightly darker tone, whereas the film felt really lighthearted and didn't bring those dark elements with it. Which makes sense, because it is marketed as a family film.

I almost always enjoy the books more than the movie, so any movie that I even consider to be on the same level as the book is either a really good movie, or the book was just horrible to begin with (such as anything written by Nicholas Sparks or Stephanie Meyer).

OMG, I forgot about Stardust! So I guess you'll have to read/watch to see how awesome it is.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wednesday is feeling a bit childish...

Casey: I was ALL ABOUT BARNEY when I was little… That and Lamb Chop. Also Disney movies are made of pure win. My favorite was The Little Mermaid (though Cassie will surely hold me in highest disdain for such a claim!).

Christina: I love your challenge! As soon as I read it, I knew just what charity I would pick. I’ll do more research on it, as per your requirement, but this charity is a recent addition to my life, and so it’s not just one I’ve known about for a while and picked by default.

Cassie: Very serious agreement on your Princess Bride #1 placement. I haven’t read the book (cue shame), but the movie is incredibly effective and wonderful and among my favorites as well. Clearly our opinions of The Little Mermaid differ, but that’s only because my opinion is rooted in the delightedness of a four-year-old version of myself. I’m sure if I were to (a) know the original story (cue more shame) and (b) watch the movie for the first time at my age now, I would harbor thoughts similar to yours.

Alexandra: Ditto your thoughts on Eragon. It’s been a long time since I either read the book or saw the movie, and my post has (slightly) more detail on my musings, but ditto nevertheless.

Near as I can figure, the best movie adaptation of a book (or at least a really good one) is The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Forgive me my juvenility, because neither the book nor the movie deserves great acclaim, but I enjoyed the book and then liked the movie even better. Sure, the characters are pretty cookie-cutter in both formats, but I loved them and the way they worked together. The movie didn’t stick exactly to the book (pretty close, but no cigar—movies that get the cigar tend not to be great, I think we all can probably agree), but it was close enough that it conveyed the same messages.

Don’t get me started on the second SotTP movie. The book wasn’t that great, and the movie was sheerly TERRIBLE. I can barely force myself to watch even a minute of it when it’s on and friends want to watch it. It’s a complete failure of a cinematic experience in every way. But because I didn’t care for the book either, I can’t say that it was the movie’s fault. Therefore, I bring you my final paragraph of the day.

Off the top of my head, I can claim with a bit of confidence that Eragon is the worst movie adaptation of a book. Maybe not ever, but in my experience, at least. It came out when I was in the midst of my early-teen dragon phase, and the author was admirably young (19 and a NYT Bestseller!), so I devoured the copy my aunt bought me. I’m sure it would have different value for me if I read it today for the first time, but I loved it. And then there was a movie made!... if you can call it that. I remember vaguely enjoying parts of the “movie,” but leaving the theater utterly dejected. It could have been so good! And it just… it just sucked. What had been a vibrant plot and character set became two-dimensional and jumbled. I was sorely disappointed.

Random question of the day!: What’s your favorite weather?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tuesday Is A Bit of a Cinema Buff

It's true, that. I get touchy when people tell me how original a film is, and I am forced to point out that it is a remake of a Chinese black and white film or an adaptation of an obscure, rather bad book from twenty decades prior. I know my adaptations, and I love them. And, perhaps coming with the love of film, I am very forgiving of adaptations. I accept the limitations and abilities of film over other mediums, be that television or the written word. And I have seen it done well enough times to know that there is no excuse for a bad adaptation.

My favourite book-movie adaptation would probably have to be Jaws. Jaws is a flawless film, the book is... not. As an adaptation, I wouldn't call it great. If we're just talking about how well it conveys the same information in the new medium, yeah, it changes things. But it makes it much, much better than the book ever did. It's honestly a pretty terrible book. Things that I would rank in a similar category with this would be Silence of the Lambs, The Godfather, etc. Where the movie is near inarguably superior to the book it is based on. If you'd just like something that adapts it with few changes and does it well, I guess I would go with Fight Club. Even the author admits to that one.

And, since I feel it should be addressed given the Potter lovers in the group, I would say that of all of the Harry Potter films, my favourites were probably the first two. Though not as well acted or as nice looking, I felt like - as adaptations - they were the best. They didn't keep all of the content, but more than the others, they kept the feeling, and I think that's the most important thing. I don't really care how they got rid of Norbert or if we see Snape's contribution to the protection of the Stone, I just want to feel the same way I did reading the books.

My least favourite book-movie adaptation would be Eragon. I preface this by saying that I don't like Eragon, but my problems with it aren't really in regards to storytelling. For all of its problems, it isn't incoherent nonsense, which is what the film is. The film version of Eragon skips very large, very important chunks of the novel in favour of... nothing, absolutely nothing. I feel like the director took seven chapters at random and chose to adapt those and nothing else. It's a bit troubling, honestly. A similar instance of this would be Everything is Illuminated, another book I didn't really like but oh god did they ruin it with the movie. That, however, was because of the book. I would put the book alongside House of Leaves in terms of how much the narrative itself is important to the book, and a film would have to work hard to come up with something similar. And they just didn't try.

For Harry Potter, honestly, movies 3 through 5 all left a bad taste in my mouth. I love Half-Blood Prince, and the first half of Deathly Hallows, but... Prisoner of Azkaban was a jumbled up mess that I really couldn't appreciate, and that still it ends on (the one with Harry on the firebolt) just made me more annoyed when the credits came around. Goblet of Fire was just... confusing, honestly. Reminds me of The Last Airbender (though not based on a book, I should point out now that this was the worst adaptation ever made of anything in history). And Order of the Phoenix, more than any of the others, broke the rule I mentioned above. It didn't feel like the book, at all. I don't care about the changes, I care about the tone, and I just felt that it was really off. And it didn't improve anything with it. HBP was a bit off in tone, but I liked it. Same with Deathly Hallows - I honestly like the movie more than I like the first half of the book, because at least it wasn't boring.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Monday will tear apart your childhood nostalgia . . . and she'll even be mildly sorry for it

Hello, girls! It’s Monday. And a holiday . . . in the US, that is. I hope, if you celebrated, that your Independence Days have all be relaxing and enjoyable. I celebrated the way I celebrate every year – with my birthday. My birthday was yesterday, and it was a very nice day – I got to spend time with my family (including my three-year-old second cousin once removed Tyler, who spent the whole day calling me “New Friend,” which was utterly adorable). I got mostly practical gifts (a new suitcase, a new messenger bag, badly needed dress sweaters) and quite a few books, but the best gift of all? Not having to pick the themes for the next fifteen weeks! :)

But I am excited to talk about Casey’s topic. So. Books into movies and how well down they are.

I used to be of the mind that movies would always always always be better than they’re movie counterparts, no contest. But then my brother started this series on YouTube called Books vs. Movies, and that taught me pretty quickly to really think about adaptations and whether or not they’re truly well done. Since he started that, I have realized that not only can movies be excellent adaptations of their inspiring material, they can, in some instances, be better than the books they’re based on.

So, I’m going to tell you about not just one favorite/least favorite, but my top three in each category.

Favorite Adaptations!

3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

I am well aware that any opinion on the Harry Potter movies is likely to be highly contested, but I for one truly enjoyed 7.1. I think the decision to split Deathly Hallows in half was a very smart one to make (though it bugs me that everyone else is now jumping on that wagon *coughTwilightcough*) because splitting allowed the film to tell a better story. I won’t even say “stay closer to the books” because I’m not a movie purist. Some of my favorite scenes from the movies have been ones that were added and not in the books at all. Keeping to the spirit of the story and to the overall story is what I find important, and 7.1 did that very well in my mind. What they added was engaging and interesting, and what was cut was well chosen and not obtrusive. They captured the spirit of the first half of this book, and I just hope the second half lives up to what they established with part one.

2. The Little Princess

Now, with Little Princess, we’re talking the Alfonso Cuaron film, not the Shirley Temple one. Just to make that clear. This movie was made in 1995, and they did a superb job with it. They took Burnett’s beautiful story about the power of imagination and used the medium of film to their advantage. I love the framing device – the Indian legend that Sara tells throughout the film echoes what’s happening in her own life and really makes that sense of imagination come to life. The choice to have the actors who play her parents also play Rama and the princess in the story scenes. The movie’s climax is heart-wrenching and gorgeous, and while there are a few things that they could have done better, overall the movie is incredibly well done.

1. The Princess Bride

This is one of my all-time favorite movies, and it is the perfect example, in my mind, of using the  different mediums of storytelling to their greatest advantage. If the movie had chosen to follow exactly what was set up in the book, it wouldn’t have worked. The literary device Goldman used was just that – a literally device. It would not have translated to screen. So instead of being married to the exact story, those who put the screenplay together looked instead at what the book was trying to do, and they found a way to do the same thing cinematically. Enter the framing device. It was brilliantly done, as was the choice to incorporate character backstory in the scenes and dialogue rather than flashbacks. It worked wonderfully, and is, I believe, part of the reason that the movie has endured and will likely continue to do so.

Now for my least favorites . . . those travesties to literature, to paraphrase Casey’s stipulations.

Least Favorite Adaptations

3. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Again, I am aware that I may draw dissent, but this movie was awful, easily the worst of all seven so far. Kloves (the screenwriter) got lazy and sloppy and instead of seriously looking at the story and figuring out how best to tell it, he picked the most exciting scenes and counted on the audience having read the book to fill in the story. Because say what you want about the movie and how great the special effects were or what have you, THERE WAS NO STORY. None. There was absolutely no throughline, and if you hadn’t read the book, you were completely lost fifteen minutes in. I know. I saw the movie with people who hadn’t read the book. It was just one action scene after another with no cohesion or connection either to itself or to the movies that had come before. And that doesn’t even start into the complete character destruction of Ron and Dumbledore (to name just two) or the horrible directing style and choices. But we will leave those things as a rant for another day.

2. 1940s Pride and Prejudice

So I, unlike most, am no fan of Keira Knightley’s Pride and Prejudice. I found the to be historically inaccurate on several levels (which is just inexcusable, I’m sorry), Knightley’s portrayal of Elizabeth to be utterly uninspired, and their version of Darcy to be angsty and irritating. Also, the screenwriters’ dialogue was entirely out of place next to Austen’s. But that’s neither here nor there, since the truly heinous adaptation of Pride and Prejudice is the movie made in the 1940's. The women are all dressed like Southern Belles from the 1860s and Darcy was whining and, again, irritating, but I could have looked past those things, if not for the end. Oh Good God, the end of this movie. Talk about killing the spirit of the book! If you don’t know the story, this won’t mean anything to you, but basically, in this movie, Lady Catherine’s confrontation with Elizabeth over whether or not she’s going to marry Darcy is just a front, to test Elizabeth’s love for Darcy because Lady Catherine’s been behind the match the whole time! So, basically, they remove any power Darcy had at all, as he needs his aunt to go catch his girl for him, and they also, you know, eliminate the recognition of one of the main conflicts of the movie – that Elizabeth is socially beneath Darcy in a time when such a match would have been met with what, you know, AUSTEN WROTE IN THE FIRST PLACE! I just . . . I have no words. None. Except that if you want to write that story, then write it! The hatred to love is a common enough trope that you should have no problem with it. But don’t choose to tell a classic story if you’re just going to turn around and change what makes it classic. This same note is given to the 1980s adaptation of Northanger Abbey.

1. The Little Mermaid

Yes, I’m about to bash a cherished and treasured Disney film. Brace yourselves. I get so much dissention for this opinion, but Disney’s Little Mermaid was awful. Not only did it mangle Anderson’s beautifully tragic short story almost beyond recognition, it didn’t replace what was heinously ripped away with anything worthwhile. Now, I have problems with pretty much all of Disney’s animated fairy tale films prior to Beauty and the Beast, but I have a bigger problem with The Little Mermaid, and I’ll tell you why. Those other movies – Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White – have awful messages, yes, but they’re pretty faithful to the story they’re based on, singing animals notwithstanding. They started with Perrault’s stories and they pretty much ended with Perrault’s stories, awful messages and all. But The Little Mermaid was different. First of all, despite what many people believe, the Little Mermaid is not an oral tradition tale like those others, passed down through cultures and generations. It has an actual author – Hans Christian Anderson. It was a short story written in the style of oral tradition fairy tales, and Disney completely ignored that in favor of giving the story a happy ending. But even that, I wouldn’t take too much issue with – after all, Ponyo is essentially a retelling of Little Mermaid with a happy ending, and I liked that movie just find. No, the difference is that in giving their movie a happy ending, Disney completely destroyed Anderson’s beautiful and moving message of sacrifice in love and didn’t replace it with anything else. That’s my problem – not that they changed the end, but that they took this beautiful and tragic but necessary lesson that love requires sacrifice and that sometimes the happiness of those we love is more important than our own selfish wishes, and replaced it with: act like a childish, petulant teenager, defy your father, change your physical appearance, and go after that guy you don’t know at all, and not only won’t you get punished, someone else will clean up all your messes and you’ll get whatever you want in the end!    

And that’s all the love and rage we really need from me this week. I look forward to hearing your own thoughts!