I don't know how many people have seen this yet, but if you haven't you need to. This is an audition from Britain's Got Talent and it's just phenomenal. It reminds me of a quote from C.S. Lewis "It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare." God has definitely given this kid a gift and it definitely goes to show that you should never judge people based on appearances. He has other stuff on youtube that is totally worth checking out. New favorite singer.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
I usually update this on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but I was too excited about this to wait! My roommates and I were wandering around etsy this weekend and realized that a lot of the stuff that people are selling we can make too, and, with our combined artistic talents, produce better and cheaper! So, our etsy adventure is underway. Right now all that we've made are book charms to put on necklaces and such, but we'll also be selling necklaces, charm bracelets, and various artistic prints as well. Here's a first look at some of our products!
This is a random assortment of some of the books that we've made so far! Titles include Emma, Harry Potter, the Hobbit, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Pride and Prejudice.
We noticed that all things Harry Potter are best sellers so here's our fandom contribution!
Close-ups of some the books.
We've made the books into necklaces. Customers will be able to choose between having a chain or leather cord.
The Books are made entirely out of paper in order to create a realistic feel, but are coated with a water-resistant substance. They are all about an inch tall, and each book is originally handcrafted with love. They're more skillfully made than other, similar products but are still are among the cheapest book charms to be bought on the internet. We're thinking about selling them for about 6-8 dollars. If anyone is interested in a title not listed above we would be more than willing to create a book specifically for you. In addition to this we'll also take requests for making/drawing/crafting anything that you could possibly desire. On staff we have some seriously talented people. I'll post a link to our esty shop later! Check us out :)
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Everybody’s heard of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey of the fantastic adventures of the heroes of Achilleus and Odysseus, these works are considered fundamental to the development of literature, and are even considered by some to be the greatest literary works of all time. However, if you had lived two or three hundred years ago, the odds would be that, given a classical education, you never would have read either of Homer’s epics. Why not? Were they lost? Were they written in some obscure, untranslatable Greek dialect? In a word – no. The fact of the matter is that two hundred years ago Homer’s epics were considered unimportant. In their place, and hailed since its conception as the paragon of literary achievement, was the Roman poet Virgil’s Aeneid. It chronicles the adventures of its title character, Aeneas, as he leaves Troy in the wake of the Trojan War and begins a journey to fulfill his destiny as the founder of what would one day become the Roman Empire.
Spiritual Content: 8/10
This is hard to rate. The novel accepts and even characterizes the traditional Greco-roman paragon of gods. It is a pagan work, but it’s also very tasteful. The gods, as portrayed by Virgil, are more like the Christian God than they are in other adaptations. They tend to be a bit withdrawn, and are shown to be pretty omniscient and omnipotent, although they do retain their vengeful and petty characters. I give it an 8/10 because it is so different from other representations of the pagan gods, and because the book, as a whole, shows a very deep respect for religion in general. And, as no one really accepts the reality of pagan gods anymore, the ideas that they represent are relatively harmless for a modern reader.
Again, this was hard. The Aeneid does have a lot of violence. A lot of the action of the plot takes place during war. A lot of killings are described in detail. The war parts are also really tedious and tend to read like lists. The violence can sound a little gross sometimes, but there’s nothing really disturbing about it. Most of it tends to run together.
Sexual Content: 9/10
This book is remarkably clean, which makes sense considering that it was written by a Roman. There is only one reference to sex in the whole book, and it’s really easy to miss/ misinterpret in an innocent way. There is also some reference to male love (gay relationships), but again, it’s really subtle. You have to look hard for it, and also understand a lot of what was going on culturally to get it.
This book has an amazing story line. The first six books were by far my favorite. It gets really boring after that, but I have been informed by some boys I know that after book six is when the story gets interesting. Keeping this in mind I elected to give the plot a 10/10 for the overall combined favorable review when the opinions of the two sexes are put together. The first part is more like a story, revolving around the growth and development of characters. The second half is like a war chronicle, which, if you’re a male, I’m told is very exciting. Anyways, I loved the first part immensely and that’s enough for it a warrant a 10 from me.
The style of this book was lovely. It’s set in Homer’s epic past – in fact it loosely follows the same timeline as Odysseus’ travels, and the characters of the Iliad and Odyssey are referenced an number of times. Virgil follows pretty closely Homer’s style in his book, using many of the same conventions. There’s a good reason for this. Before Virgil, Homer really was the undisputed master of the literary world. If anyone wanted to achieve greatness as an author they would have to approach, if not surpass Homer. Virgil, by following Homer’s style, reaches the poet’s level, but he doesn’t just approximate Homer’s style – he improves it. He takes all of Homer’s conventions, and even his style, and makes them his own. The thing that he did that I really geek out about is make his epic an eschatological vision. The entire story about the founding of Rome is also the story of the emergence of the Roman Empire and the victories of Caesar Augustus. This is an amazing story to read for Virgil’s stylistic devices, and is 10x more fun if you’re familiar with Roman history – from its founding to the emergence of the Empire.
The characters in this book were wonderful. Aeneas went through a wonderful character change, starting out as a bit of a coward and moving to come fully into his own as a brave commander, soldier, and Roman. There was also a strong cast of female and child characters. The story of Dido and Aeneas was wonderful, and I loved Aeneas’ son Illus. I actually loved the fact that there was a child in this book, because it made it a little bit more beautiful. Illus also offered some comic relief (unintentionally, there’s not much humor in this book) in the battle scenes when, presumably overwhelmed, he just kind of lay down and went to sleep. The characters were really rich and deep, and even more so than normal considering that many of them actually represented future events and people.
Despite everything else, the themes in this story are good, great even, but not quite in the upper echelon of themes. This is partially because the book doesn’t have a strict moral message that it’s trying to convey. The point of the book is to convey, eschatologically, the glory of Rome and the inevitability of its existence. In short, this work was commissioned to be, and is, a work of Roman propaganda. That being said, it’s a very good piece of propaganda, and its claims were, at the time, pretty well founded.
Overall Conclusion: 10/10
The great poet Dante used Virgil as his guide for much of his journey in the Divine Comedy. Many other poets, writers, painters, sculptors, etc. for centuries idolized Virgil and his work. Many Christians, even, were stuck by its poignancy, and many great church fathers and thinkers thought of Virgil as a proto-Christian. Virgil’s work has influenced centuries of artists and thinkers from diverse backgrounds and schools of thought. It’s a shame that this book is rarely taught anymore. There is little doubt in anyone’s mind as to the greatness of Homer’s works, just as there was no doubt in Virgil’s time. All that being said, I think that Homer would welcome Virgil to his island with joy and would love to spend time in the company of a man who understood his own literary vision, and surpassed him.
>Read this book. Do it. Now.<
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Alright, so, God has blessed me so much at the university that I'm currently attending, in ways that I couldn't even imagine when I applied! One of those ways is through all my awesome professors. They've taught me so much already. One of my professors, Dr. Louis Markos is a C.S. Lewis expert and has co-written a screenplay about Lewis' friendship with Tolkien and his journey to faith that will be released sometime next year. It's called The Lion Awakes! They have a teaser trailer out now, no actors yet, but even though it's entirely comprised of stock images it looks FANTASTIC! Watch it. it will make your day 10X better.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
Apparently it’s one of the marks of getting older (as I steadily approach the age of twenty) that one remembers doing things, but can’t really remember anything about them. I’ve been noticing this recently, especially as it has applied to books (seeing as how I spent most of my childhood reading). Thinking back, I’ve compiled a list of ten books or series of books that I remember loving, but can’t really remember (this with varying degrees of fuzziness). So – I present the list in order of forgetfulness (10 being most remembered, 1 being least remembered). Here are my Top 10 Most loved, forgotten books:
#10: The Beatrix Potter Series, by Beatrix Potter
The only one of these that I can even remotely recall is the one where Peter Rabbit steals from the farmer and loses all of his buttons. I remember the pictures being really pretty, though.
#9: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne
This one gets a little fuzzy because I find it hard to differentiate between what happened in the book and in the Disney movie (neither of which I remember with much clarity). All I know is that it took place on a submarine, there was a guy named captain Nemo, and there was a giant squid that ate some people, and Nemo tried to blow some place up.
#8: Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe
This was one of the best adventure books that I can remember reading. Actually, that’s not true. I don’t even remember reading this – but I know I did. I remember that it was about a shipwreck and this guy was alone on an island and there was rain and he had to build a shelter. He also had a run in with cannibals and named one of them Friday.
#7: The Little House on the Prairie Series, by Laura Ingalls-Wilder
I don’t remember much, collectively speaking, about these at all. There may be a reason for this. I used to enjoy them – then one day, when I did something wrong, my mom made me analyze Laura and Mary as examples of good behavior. I believe that those several instances may have fostered a seed of resentment, and I have never read them since.
#6: Timeline, by Michael Crichton
I absolutely loved this book when I read it, and I loved the movie. That being said, I can only remember the first chapter with any clarity whatsoever. After that, I think it’s about people who go back in time and find out that the middle ages weren’t like what they thought and one man has his ear cut off and marries Joan of Arc (but don’t quote me on that).
#5: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
Some classic images stayed with me (i.e. The whitewashed fence scene), but overall, I can’t remember what happened in this book other than it was fun, and it made me want to climb trees.
#4: White Fang, by Jack London
I remember this being about a wolf/dog that pulled a sled. I may also be confusing this with Balto. I also learned from this that burrowing in the snow will keep you warm if it is cold.
#3: Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery
I remember the names of about three characters, and that’s it. I also remember being very inspired by this book, and the cartoon which I watched. That actually makes my lack of memory stranger. I watched an Anne of Green Gables T.V. show and I have to memory of what happened.
#2: The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
The cover of this book tells me that it is also about dogs… I was only vaguely aware of this fact. All I remember is like this mental picture I have of the setting, which may or may not belong to this book. There was like a dirt circle where people boxed, and like a Spartan Alaskan outpost house. Also, there was snow.
#1: Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott
This is the strangest one. I remember reading it. I remember where I was when I read it. I remember thinking it was the coolest thing ever. I could not tell you what it was about, at all. I remember no character names, besides the title one (and I have been told that he’s hardly in it), I have no mental pictures, or anecdotal memories regarding the plot. I feel like there are some things standing on the edge of my memory, but I can’t quite reach them.
So, it seems that old age fast approacheth! These books that I loved are only a few of the many that I have read. I’m not really sure how many books I’ve forgotten completely! Still, the feelings surrounding the books listed here have stuck with me and I now have a strong urge to go and rediscover why these books made me feel the way that they did :)
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
So, this year the HBU honors college put on its first (hopefully annual) Murder Mystery Party. This was actually the second murder mystery party that I had ever been to. It was also the first that I was completely in charge of. Apparently being a last minute extra in one before qualifies me to run one. I say that like I didn’t volunteer. It was actually a really fun journey. I actually ended up writing the mystery used, and it was a really good opportunity for growth as a writer that I didn’t expect.
It all started, sometime before Christmas, when I tried to convince my roommates that this would be a great idea. Thankfully they agreed with me and threw themselves into the work needed to get the event approved.
After a few weeks we got the ok from our dean to go ahead with the idea and to choose the mystery that we would perform. This is where it started to get interesting. We had one picked out, but it wasn’t approved based on some of the content within the mystery. This made us sad because we had all had our hearts set on a 1920’s themed party (and when I say hearts what I really mean is wallets. And when I say we… I mean me… I had already bought a dress). The hard thing was, and if you’ve ever tried to do a mystery before you’ll know, it’s finding a clean mystery that’s also engaging and fun. We looked, and looked, and, giving up way too soon, decided that there was nothing that we wanted and that we should write our own (and when I say we… I mean me).
So, second semester starts and, in addition to taking 18 hours, and pledging for a sorority, I took upon myself to write a murder mystery party. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. It was a complete shot in the dark, but it was a lot of fun as well. I’ll spare you all the details surrounding the party’s conception and execution. Suffice to say that everything got written and designed (not without a lot of help from some friends), and that people actually volunteered to show up! The night finally came, and that was the fun/nerve wracking part. I was probably the only person that night who did not have much fun, and I say that with great pleasure. I have been assured by others that it was a blast, and it was fun to see my friends start to act like 1920’s mobsters and ditzy flappers. Here are some pictures from the night:
Here’s all the girls together in all our flapperish finery!
My roommate and I, looking very austere. She’s the one who designed the beautiful poster that we’re standing next to.
My other roommate and I posing. This would have been a great picture, except for the fact that I forgot that I had pinned my name tag to the back of my dress so it wouldn’t show for pictures… #epicfail
Here’s everyone together! We are a good looking bunch of people, If I do say so myself (and by we… I mean me).
Honestly, though, as much fun as this was, the best thing that I was able to take away from this is the boost that it gave my writing. It’s always scary to pour your heart and soul into something and then to give it to other people to be judged by them, and this was no different. The feedback I got was great though, and it also showed me some of my weaknesses in writing, and some technical mistakes I made in the execution of the mystery. It was difficult to write in ways that I didn’t expect. But writing this was so different from anything else I’ve ever written it actually ended up being a valuable tool in developing my personal style and technique.
I would recommend this exercise to any aspiring writer. It’s different from writing short stories or poetry, or even plays. It takes a lot of time but it gets you thinking about the technical aspect of writing, which is really important. You’re not just writing a story – you’re facilitating and event, you’re creating a world with enough structure to be coherent, and enough freedom to be fun and inspiring. As a writer it’s easy to make yourself the god of your own little world and to reconcile all the difficulties within it in your own mind. In doing something like this, however, there can’t be any inconsistencies, and your creation has to be able to stand (or fall) without you there to fix things up or clarify any confusion. It was a ton of fun to write, and I look forward to learning from my mistakes and doing more of these projects in the future.
Future MMP project: http://kemuri15.deviantart.com/art/Promo-Poster-290292611
Stock credit for Arsenic and Old Grudges poster goes to jinxmim and empty-paper-stock on deviantart
Sunday, March 11, 2012
This 1965 comedy revolves around the life of Stanley Ford. Stanley lives his life as a successful cartoonist, spends much of his time at the gym or working out new ideas for his strip, and, most importantly, is quite happily UNmarried. He's not lonely, however, he lives quite comfortably in his uptown townhouse and enjoys the company of his butler, Charles, and a slew of beautiful young women. But, all this won't last. His happy life is turned upside down one day when he awakes, after attending a party, to find himself married to the girl that was hired to come out of the cake!
As if this wasn't bad enough, it's too late for an annulment, the girl actually loves him, and, to top it all off, she doesn't speak a word of English. Consigned to his marital fate, Stanley takes out his frustrations with his wife and himself in his comic strip changing the focus from Brash Brannigan- secret agent to the exploits of Brash Brannigan - family clown. All this time his new wife is encroaching upon everything that he once held dear, turning his manly haven into a frilly, purple nightmare. One night, in a desperate attempt to take back some control of his life he concocts a plan to murder his wife - in the comic strip of course- and proceeds to illustrate the perfect murder plan. The only problem with all of this is, once the strip is published, his wife disappears, and everyone begins to think that he really killed her!
This movie did not deal with any spiritual themes at all. It was thoroughly secular.
Sexual Content: 5/10
There was no explicit sex in this movie. There was actually no, shown sex at all. That being said, there was plenty of innuendo and canoodling throughout the movie. Mrs. Ford smothers her husband with kisses nearly every time she sees him. The camera cuts away before any sexual content is seen at least six time, but leaves plenty implied. Twice Mrs. Ford is shown completely undressed, although covered with a blanket. It may be said, however, that the vast majority of the innuendo is done within a marital context, and Mrs. Ford even refuses Stanley's advances after a marital spat until he places her wedding ring back on her finger. Compared to a lot of films today the sexual content is very tame, still, it's something to be aware of.
Now, take this from a girl who loves comic books, violence, when used appropriately, can be fun to watch. There's something really satisfying in seeing the hero punch the villain in the face, or shoot the horrible person who is holding all the school children hostage. Call it cathartic if your will. There is a kind of violence, however, that is inherently disturbing (think the saw movies), and while this movie is pretty campy overall, there's something dark and disturbing in it too. Stanley often acts out his comic strips in real life in order that he might draw scenes more accurately. In the beginning there's some obviously staged gunfights and stage violence shown. Not a big deal. The disturbing stuff comes later in the movie through the cartoonish depictions is his wife's murder, and Stanley's acting out of this fantasy in the real world (substituting a manikin for his wife). It wasn't graphic in any way, but there was something disconcerting with the glee that Stanley possessed as he carried out his 'murder' and the sense of satisfaction that he gained from it. It was a little weird.
'How to Murder Your Wife' had a fairly engaging plot, although it did drag on a bit. It took too long to get started, and once it got started it took too long to finish. That being said, there were some pretty funny parts, which is good in a comedy, and the story line was certainly memorable. The problem is that there was no satisfying resolution to the story. The ending came off as contrived and cliche.
There really were no great characters in this movie. All of the men were presented as weak-willed and put upon by their wives, all of whom were shrewish and manipulative. The movie played very strongly into gender stereotypes - which was appropriate given the scope of the movie. There was, however, no character growth, and no reconciliation between the sexes - unless you count a manly embrace of chauvinism as character growth. Stanley exemplifies this. He never comes to appreciate or love his new wife in any sense, except a physical one. He never shows any remorse for 'killing' her, and is never made to feel like he should. In fact, his 'murder' of his wife is even celebrated as a justifiable homicide, and used to celebrate male freedom. This disappointed me. It could have been a great movie if it had treated some of its issues with a little more gravity and realism.
'How to Murder Your Wife', while still being a comedy, could have been a really deep and poignant look at the way married couples do, and ought, to function. It could have attempted to seek a resolution to the battle of the sexes. Instead, it played up the portrait of the poor married male who was dragged into marriage by his conniving wife, and was forced to surrender all of his freedom and happiness. The moral of the story was not that men and women compliment and need each other. It did not promote the biblical mandate for "Husbands to love their wives," and for "Wives to respect their husbands," (Eph. 5:22-33). It gives the message that marriage is an unnatural thing (this is specifically stated), and that the male figure would be better off without it. The only aspect of marriage presented as beneficial, and the only part Stanley didn't seem to mind, was the physical aspect. The movie starts out with the chauvinistic quip “Greetings, gentlemen! I assume your wives are not with you, as the very title of our piece is sufficient to strike terror into their hearts and cause them to remain at home in their kitchens - where they belong!” and ends just as chauvinistically with the conquered woman in the bedroom, waiting for her husband to come home.
Overall Conclusion: 4/10
Let me start this by saying that I am not a feminist. I believe in a Biblical picture of marriage, and I believe that that includes gender roles. That being said, I also believe that men should respect women (and vice versa). This movie served as one major dysfunction. It had some funny parts. I can throw a kitchen joke around with the best of them. Still, I kept watching this movie and kept wondering when it was going to get better. It had a foundation to be a really powerful movie - some comedies are - but it fell flat. It expressed a male frustration with the loss of freedom that comes with marriage, a frustration with the female invasion of their lives - totally understandable. I'm not speaking from experience, but I understand that marriage can be a difficult thing, especially when a wife doesn't take into account her husband's feelings when taking over the domestic sphere. 'How to Murder Your Wife', however, seemed to me to be a pathetic backlash of male frustration. There's no reconciliation between the two sexes. It's a hollow victory march for the men as they seek to scare their wives into submission and take control of their own lives once more. I guess my overall conclusion is that this movie dealt with a very adult subject in a very childish and insulting way. It's funny parts and interesting story line aren't enough to save this movie from a horrible message.
Thursday, March 8, 2012
So, today I was not able to go to classes due to an allergic reaction I experienced through the consumption of some, unidentified food substance. As a result I have been covered in hives and have been itching like mad. I must admit that I love this auto-immune response, because, if my body hadn't reacted like this, then the unknown food substance probably would have made some of my limbs fall off (my sarcasm hand is raised very high at the moment).
On the plus side, I was able to do some work on this blog, making it, in my opinion, much prettier and more fun to look at. Your thoughts and comments would be appreciated! I was also able to study for a midterm tomorrow! And be lonely... and itchy... sitting in my house all by myself... But that's enough about me. I'll probably start posting again next week, during spring break, but until then, please stare at this picture of a cute, fat, baby fairy: