Friday, January 31, 2014

Look! I made a bow and arrow!

This is what I do at 10:30 at night.

I saw a picture of a crossbow made from pencils... and since all of our pencils aren't the same size (as those were in the picture), I went to my handy dandy box of pencil crayons.
But then I decided to upgrade the model and ditch three of the pencils...
So basically, I stuck two pins in either side of the pencil crayon (and then I taped the pins on just in case they decided to fall out - which they did... before the tape). Then I taped one of those chip-clip-things to the pencil crayon and tada! Just add one rubberband and a pen through the clip-thing and you have a ready-made mini-weapon, just in case squirrels come to invade your house.

Actually... in light of the above picture... a giant robot brandishing a banjo being driven by David Crowder might be better than a mini-bow made out of a pencil crayon...

Live long and prosper! And don't be attacked by squirrels.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Facing my fears.

I have many fears. Some are more defined (such as the fear of getting a migraine) but most are the Great Fear of the Unknown.
This big giant fear is something that most people struggle with... It includes general things such as: fear the future, fear of going to a foreign country, fear of trying new foods, etc. I think that as people, we fear the unknown because we're afraid of getting hurt somehow.
These past two days, I was forced to face some of these Unknown Fears.

Yesterday, I took the train all by myself down to visit my friend at her Bible college.
This was my first time going on a trip all by myself without parents, church people, or friends with me. Not only that, I took the train, which is something I've only done once before (and that was probably six or seven years ago - and I had my mom and a bunch of other homeschoolers with me). Not only that, I had to socialize with people I didn't know. Not only that, they were college people I didn't know.
Recently, I discovered that I really don't like talking to people because I have this weird thing in my head that either they'll judge whatever I say, or they just won't care about what I'm talking about. This is increased tenfold when I have to talk to someone of the opposite gender. I also don't like talking to people because they most likely won't ask me anything interesting... they'll ask me either a) what grade are you in? (someone I'm incapable of answering because we have never defined my grade) or b) where are you thinking of going to college/what colleges have you looked into? (something I'd really really really like to NOT talk about right now because all the stress and SATs and grades and requirements and the threat of dorm life and having to interact with people makes me want to cry - which goes back to the weird thing where I think people will either judge me or not care about what I'm talking about/interested in. Plus I'm still a highschooled teenager, and all highschoolers are basically empty-headed-care-only-about-drama-and-can't-have-deep-thoughts, right?).
Anyway, the impending threat of having to talk to people and somehow fit in with my friend's crowd (which is very, very different than people I would normally be drawn to) was very, very terrifying for me. Even more terrifying than the train ride and going somewhere by myself.

I'd like to share how I got through these fears.
First of all, with a lot of prayer, and some Bible reading (the Matthew verses about 'do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself.' I don't know the reference right off the top of my head. Also the end of Philippians 3 and all of Phil. 4. It has some really good verses about who we, as Christians, are working for, and the goal we are working towards. Also two of my favorite verses... Phil. 4:8 - think on whatever is pure, right, holy, etc. and Phil. 4:6-7 which is another 'do not worry' verse [but by prayer and petition and thanksgiving present your request to the Lord]).
The above verses are really, really encouraging and help me to remember that God is in control. He's got this. I don't need to worry. (Which reminds me of another verse that our guitarist shared at worship practice tonight - 1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you).

The other thing that helps me face my fears is just doing it. If I sit and think about the scary things, they get more scary. But if I don't think about them/focus on them, and just do whatever it is, I can get through relatively unscathed.
Like talking to people. I went to bed last night thinking "Oh no, tomorrow I have to meet/interact with more of the people here!" But I didn't let myself focus on that. Talking to people and interacting with them is inevitable. I would love to hole up in my room and never have to worry about talking to people again... never have to worry about good impressions... never have to worry that people think I'm weird/not good enough/an idiot/empty-headed/cares only about trivial things... But I can't become a hermit. God created us to be in relationship with one another, and the best way to do that is to be out interacting with people - building strong relationships, not holed up somewhere online.
So no matter how awful talking with people makes me feel, I know it's good for me. So I just do it. I talk to people. I introduce myself to people. I'm friendly. I shake people's hands. I ask them about things (because people love to talk about themselves). Who cares what they think of me? Their opinion doesn't matter! The only opinion that matters is God's. He sees my heart and my mind. He knows my good intentions and my selfish ones. He knows that I'm not weird(er than other people). He knows that I'm not an idiot. He knows I don't care only for trivial things. So what does other people's opinions mean to me? Well, they're a nice affirmation of things that I already know. But if people have the wrong idea about me, that's their problem because they didn't get to know me and jumped to conclusions. (I struggle with that; jumping to conclusions too quickly. It's partly 'cause of my imagination - I imagine the woman in the boots walking down the street is actually a mastermind criminal from outerspace masquerading as a human. [Okay, maybe not that farfetched]. It's something I'm working on).

The train is something that I really just had to do without thinking much about it, because if I started thinking too much about it, I'd probably have freaked myself out. Not so much the train part... but the going without my parents part (what would happen if I got a migraine? Thank the Lord that I didn't!).
Actually, the train ride (and the trip to the bookstore and my friend's theology class) was the best part of the trip. I LOVE trains and was super excited about getting to travel on one. I'd travel by train always if I could (has anyone seen the commercial where the guy wins the lottery and builds himself a train? If I ever come into a substantial amount of money... look out!).

Anyway, I'm not exactly sure how to end this post... it's become sort of a culmination of all the feelings that have been keeping me awake at night for the past few forevers... (mostly the past few weeks. My friend calls the thoughts that keep you up at night "the committee." It fits). Sometimes you just have to blah all the feelings out.

I'll leave you with two things:
1- If you see me, please refrain from asking about colleges. Instead, ask me how life is going. Ask me about my writing, my music, books, Star Trek, what I will study at college (not what college I'll attend. Why is so much emphasis put on the where and not what we'll be doing once we get there?).

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, season 1, episode 1, Emissary.

One of my new year's "resolutions" was to rewatch Star Trek's third incarnation of the series... Deep Space Nine. It was kind of a half-series half-joking goal. If I had time, I'd watch it. Well, I watched the first episode. And I figured, if I'm going to watch it, I may as well review each episode!
So I present to you... the first episode of Deep Space Nine: Emissary. (A warning: this summary will most likely be very long, since this is the first episode, and characters and plot must be established.)

Summary: On Stardate 43997, Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Federation starship Enterprise was kidnapped for six days by an invading force known as the Borg. Surgically altered, he was forced to lead an assault on Starfleet at Wolf 359...
Commander Benjamin Sisko was aboard the U.S.S. Saratoga, one of 39 out of 40 ships that didn't make it through Wolf 359. When the bridge is hit by a Borg beam, Commander Sisko must take over command - the captain is dead. The warp core breaches and Sisko orders evacuation. He goes to his quarters to find his family... His young son Jake is alive! but his wife is not. Another officer helps Commander Sisko to a shuttlecraft, where they escape the massacre of Wolf 359.
Three years later, Ben Sisko and Jake are on their way to Deep Space Nine. It is a space station in the farthest reaches of Federation space, and hovers above the planet Bajor. Until just recently, Bajor had been occupied by the Cardassians. They had been fighting a war against their oppressors and had finally won after long, long years of struggling. The new Bajoran government turned to Starfleet for help, and Starfleet have sent Commander Sikso to be in charge of Deep Space Nine, formerly Terok Nor under Cardassian rule, the new Federation presence in that sector.
On the station, Ben meets Miles O'Brien - a familiar face to Next Generation watchers - who is the new chief of operations. O'Brien takes him on a mini-tour, showing him the havoc the Cardassians left behind when they left. After dropping Jake off in their new quarters, Ben and O'Brien head up to ops, the center of the station.
There they run into Major Kira Nerys, a former resistance fighter - and Sikso's new second in-command. She openly tells him that she doesn't want the Federation to be there. She thinks that within a week, the Federation will be gone, and then Bajor will have Civil War, unless Kai Opaka - Bajor's spiritual leader - prevents it. Later, we learn that Ben Sisko doesn't want to be on Deep Space Nine either. Being a single parent is hard and he'd rather raise Jake on earth.
Major Kira is called away to check on a break-in. Lot of them have been happening since the Cardassians left. Ben follows her and they catch the thieves red-handed ("What color are their hands now?" - Muppets). One of the thieves is Nog, the nephew of Quark, who is a Ferengi bar-owner. Quark, his brother Rom, Nog, and the other bar-workers were going to leave the next day, but Ben makes Quark a deal. If he stays and re-opens his bar on the promenade (a part of the station full of shops and restaurants), Ben won't put Nog in the brig. Quark agrees, though not happily. Constable Odo is also not happy. He's had a lot of trouble with Quark in the past.
Ben is then called down to the planet of Bajor, where he meets Kai Opaka. She shows him an orb and tells him that there were once nine of them, but the Cardassian's stole the others. The orbs were sent by the Prophets, and Ben must find the Celestial Temple before the Cardassians. She gives him the orb and tells him that he is their Emissary.
The next day the science and medical personal arrive and Ben is reunited with an old friend, Dax. He also meets the new chief medical officer, Julian Bashir, who obviously has a crush on Dax, and asks her out to dinner. "Jadzia! Maybe we could get together later for dinner ororororor-or a ddrink?"
Dax: "I'd be delighted."
Ben: "Isn't he a little young for you?"
Dax: "He's 27, I'm 28."
Ben: "328 you mean. Does he know about that worm in your belly?"
Back in ops, a Cardassian ship is sighted. It's the former leader of Deep Space Nine, Gul Dukat. He's come to "welcome" the new Starfleet presence, and "offer" his help. His real purpose in coming is to size Sisko up and ask him about the orb that Kai Opaka gave him.
After Dukat leaves, Sisko and Dax start examining the orb. They figure out that they need to go and look at the nearby Dinorius Belt, but have to find a way to get past the Cardassians unseen.
They employ Odo, who is a shape-shifter, to do the task. He sneaks aboard the Cardassian vessel, disguised as a bag of money, and muddles their sensors. Then, Dax and Ben, in a shuttlecraft, are able to fly out to the Dinorius Belt to have a look.
What they find is astonishing - the only stable wormhole in the known galaxy! They land inside the wormhole (also astonishing) and another orb floats towards them.
A typical Star Trek scene plays out.
"It's scanning us! Let's scan it back. Let's try to talk to it! Hello-" BAM and it blasts them. As Sisko struggle up, Dax is materialized into the orb, and it takes her back to Deep Space Nine. Sisko remains in the wormhole and meets the wormhole aliens, who the Bajorans mistakenly think are gods. Really, they are highly advanced aliens who are outside of linear time. Ben explains linear time to them (and he doesn't use "wibbly, wobbly, timey, wimey... stuff") and also life and death. They take him back through his experiences and he lives the death of his wife over again. He learns that he's never truly let go of her, and that in order to be an effective leader and father, he must learn to get over his wife's death.
Back on Deep Space Nine, senior officers are trying to figure out what happened to Sisko, and how to get him out. They plan a rescue mission and go out in a shuttlecraft. By now, Gul Dukat's ship is working again and they've noticed the wormhole. They fly towards it and enter - only to have the wormhole collapse once they've gone through! Now there's no hope for the rescue mission.
To further complicate things, Kira wants O'Brien to move the massive station to the mouth of where the wormhole used to be - to stake a claim to it. He does... and then three Cardassian ships arrive! demanding to know where Gul Dukat's ship is. They don't believe Kira, who tells them that their leader's ship went into a wormhole, which then collapsed. They give Kira one hour to tell the truth, or they'll destroy Deep Space Nine.
Since Deep Space Nine was stripped by the Cardassians when they left, there is no weapons and hardly any shields. O'Brien does some clever stuff with a computer and gives them about 30% shields, and the appearance that they have more shields and weapons than they actually have. The Cardassians don't fall for the rouse and start attacking the station.
Suddenly the wormhole opens up again and Sisko comes out in the shuttlecraft, dragging Gul Dukat's ship with him. Everything is explained and the Cardassians leave. The wormhole aliens agree to let any ships through to the gamma quadrant (which is on the other side) without interfering.
The episode ends with station life settling into normality. Sisko and O'Brien walk down the promenade, discussing things to improve the station, Kira and Odo whip Quark into shape, and Julain settles into his role as doctor.

Thoughts on plot: For a one and a half hour show, they did an EXCELLENT job fitting everything in. They had to introduce the Bajorans, who made an appearance in the Next Generation, but weren't a huge part of the show. Not only did they have to introduce the Bajorans, they had to introduce the Bajorans religion and their history... For the past few decades, they've been occupied by a race called the Cardassians. They finally overthrew their oppressors, and all of that had to be introduced. On top of introducing a whole new cast of characters (Deep Space Nine has one of the largest casts in the Star Trek universe. Off the top of my head, I can think of 15 main characters and even more secondary characters. And Morn).

Thoughts on characters: Here are the characters that were introduced this episode:
Commander Benjamin Sisko: The new commander of Deep Space Nine. His wife was killed at Wolf 359 and he has a 14-year-old son named Jake. Ben is a fair commander who can get along with most anyone. Anyone he doesn't get along with, he's extremely polite to. He loves baseball. He is good friends with the Dax symbiot.

Major Kira Nerys: She is a the Bajoran first officer, and a former resistance fighter. She is most definitely an ex-soldier and is blunt, gruff and strong-willed because of it.

Chief Miles O'Brien: O'Brien is the Irish chief of operations on the station. He makes sure everything is working right. He was introduced in the first episode of Next Generation as transporter chief and made appearances in the show frequently. He is married to Keiko, and they have one daughter named Molly.

Jadzia Dax: Jadzia is the main science officer. She is the Spock or Data-like character... logical and very smart. She also has a mischievous side to her and enjoys having fun. Jadzia is a Trill and is joined to the Dax symbiot. She is Dax's ninth host. The previous host was Curzon, an old man, and friend of Ben Sisko's. As a result, Ben often calls Dax "old man."

Constable Odo: Odo was constable over the station when the Cardassian's were in charge, though he was always sympathetic towards to Bajorans. He has stayed on as constable now. He is a shape-shifter and no one really knows where he came from or what he is. He is a mystery. He is gruff and would like nothing better than to put Quark under bars for good. He and Kira are friends.

Julian Bashir: Chief medical officer. Julian is British and fresh out of Starfleet. He was offered any job in the Federation and chose to come to Deep Space Nine to experience "real frontier medicine." He is eager and very smart. He has a crush on Dax. Also, he was my first fictional crush. He's the type of person you either love or hate.

Quark: Quark is a Ferengi who owned a bar on Deep Space Nine during the occupation. Ben Sisko convinced him to stay after the Federation moved in. Quark's bar in the center of entertainment on the promenade. Quark is a swindler and crook and definitely not to be trusted. He's only out to make more acquisition. But he's Ferengi, so we really shouldn't be surprised.

Gul Dukat: The former Cardassian in charge of the station. He is sneaky, sly, and just has this evil slimy presence about him. Ugh, maybe I'm biased, because I've seen the rest of the series... but argh Dukat is so slimy! He's one of the best bad guys I've ever seen.

Jake Sisko: Ben's 14-year old son.

Nog: Quark's young nephew, quickly learning dishonesty and the other ways of Ferengi.

Things to be wary of: There are a few swear words and some low-cut dresses. Also, the Bajorans weird religion is introduced. They believe that the aliens in the wormhole are their "prophets." Their religion focuses a lot of meditation and finding your inner peace and inner self and stuff.

Rating/overall thoughts: 10/10 for a new Star Trek show. I think that characters and plot were introduced greatly and I'm looking forward to watching the next episode!

Best line or scene: (Kira and Julian are in the infirmary)
Kira: "Sorry about the mess... it looks like looters got in here too."
Julian: "Oh, this will be perfect! Real... frontier medicine."
Kira: "Frontier medicine?"
Julian: "Major, I had my pick of any job in the fleet. I didn't want a cushy job or a research grant. I wanted this - the farthest reaches of the galaxy. One of the remotest places. This is where adventure is! This is where heroes are made! Right here in the wilderness."
Kira: "This wilderness is my home."
Julian: *awkward silence as Kira storms out*

Morn sighting: There is one character who shows up in every single episode of Deep Space Nine. He is Morn, a patron of Quark's bar. He rarely talks and blends into the background, but's he's a staple.
Here is his first appearance:

Next time on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine... A Bajoran terrorist with ties to Kira shows up on the station, with Cardassians hot on his trail.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

An After the Twelfth Night related update... among other things.

I know that I said the eBook version of After the Twelfth Night would be out by the end of January... but I'm not so sure of that now. Life's been busy and I have other priorities. I'm just now starting to look at's eBook guide and it's looking like a lot more work than I anticipated or have time for at the present.
Never fear!
Eventually the eBook version - and the Amazon version - will be out. I'm just not sure when that will be. I need to sit down with my dad some Saturday and figure it all out (ironically, at least the next two Saturdays, we're both busy with various activities).

Until then, you can always check out the paperback version on The first three pages of the story (plus the table of contents and boring stuff like that) are available for preview to whet your curiosity.

On this blog, you can expect (also in the undefined future) to see book reviews on all the literature books I've fallen behind on reviewing (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, The Faerie Queene Book 1, King Lear... and by the time I get caught up, Paradise Lost and Pride and Prejudice too, probably!) and also a review-ish sort of thing on the first episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Other than that... what would you like me to blog about? Since After the Twelfth Night is out, I could stop being so secretive and introduce you to some of the characters, settings, or thought-processes behind it all. Or I could read the first chapter aloud... or share some first-draft to polished-draft changes... or show you the step-by-step of the new cover... or show you a character sketch I did of Antonio waaay back before I even started writing the book (he looks nothing like the picture anymore)...
Or I could blog about something totally different. Dolls? Books? Things that matter? My new secret project?
I'm trying to be less secretive about my writing this year. Not sure how that's going to turn out... At any rate, I'll tell you two things about my secret project:
1. Even though it's fantasy-esque, I'm doing research on various mythical/fantastical races. Currently open in my browser is the Wikipedia page for "elf."
2. Characters keep popping up and I have no clue where they came from. Characters I thought were just guards are becoming more important... and a character who I thought was more important is stepping back into the shadows (well, he is sort of a hermit). And a character I thought was nice is actually grumpy.

EDIT: I forgot to add something... I'm trying to get better at answering people's comments in the comments box. I haven't done too much of that in the past, but am starting now.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. (Phil. 4:23)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sherlock: The Empty Hearse

BEWARE SPOILERS! DO NOT ENTER if you have not seen Sherlock season 3, episode 1 (or, do not enter if you want to be spoiled).

He's back.

Sunday was a good day. The Seahawks are going to the Superbowl, Sherlock returned, and church was great.
Sherlock had been in the back of my mind for about a week... and the hour before the premier I got more and more antsy, waiting for the clock to strike 9:58. It finally did, and there I sat, huddled under the quilt.
My excitement peaked in the first few minutes and then I was able to watch the rest of the episode like a sane person.
Here are my thoughts:

I loved how the focus was on John and Sherlock's relationship, and not on the actual plotline. This is what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle does in The Empty House story as well. The plot is a nice side story... but it's really only stuck in there so the story doesn't look like plotless fluff.
However... I did feel like some things could have been explained better/shot with more clarity. I felt like a lot of scenes catered right to the fangirl's heart. And while that's all good and stuff... this is a professional TV show. It shouldn't play out like a fanfiction.
Some examples of confusing things... at the beginning someone is running through the woods and he's surrounded. We cut to a shot of someone being beaten in an underground prison. I've read that the running person is Sherlock, and we all know that he's the one getting beat up, but for me, there wasn't enough point A to point B to connect the two scenes.
Similarly, at the end, when John and Sherlock are in the subway car, we suddenly go straight into a shot of Sherlock telling Anderson how he survived the Fall. Seemingly, this is the real answer... But then Sherlock walks away as Anderson is pointing out all the faults.
Huh? How does that fit into the near-death situation that John and Sherlock were in at that moment? (Except, of course, to make the watcher think that Moffat's not going to resolve the situation in this episode.) Was that something that Sherlock was remembering (if so, odd time to remember it), or something that John was imagining? Or was it happening at the same time? Did it even happen at all, or was it a fantasy?

Speaking of all the scenes where Sherlock "survived"...
Wasn't that BRILLIANT?
I think it was absolutely a brilliant scheme of the writers to write all the fan plots into the story!
Anyone remember THIS POST?
Well, you can guess how excited I was at the beginning. I was like, "They used my idea! I can't believe it's in there!"
Now I'm afraid that Moffat will never tell us how he actually fell. Someone said that the last one, where Sherlock is telling Anderson, is the real story... but somehow I just don't believe it.

I had several favorite parts. One was at the beginning, when John is about to propose to Mary, and Sherlock stealing people's things so he can pretend to be a waiter. That was so hilarious.

And all the moustache jokes that he made about John! "He has to lose that. He looks ancient! I can't be seen wandering around with an old man." "Does yours wipe off too?" "Seriously, are you going to keep that?" and all the while, you can just see the confusion and anger building up in John until he finally just has to tackle Sherlock. 

My other favorite part was when Sherlock and Mycroft were playing "deductions."
That was a bit of amazing writing (and acting! All those lines!). Mycroft is my favorite Sherlock Holmes character anyway... But that scene was so cool. And right out of the book. Maybe in the book they weren't necessarily deducting a pom-pom hat... but they were certainly trying to out-deduce each other! I've been waiting for a scene like that.
Speaking of Sherlock's family life...

And those were Benedict Cumberbatch's real parents too! Isn't that cool? I hope they show up again. That would be cool. If they're so normal, how come their kids are such super-geniuses? "He's adopted."

I loved the introduction of Mary Morstan.

I loved her character and it will be sad if/when she dies, which I'm afraid is imminent. She makes such a good addition to the team! And her and John make such a great pair. Plus she's played by Martin Freeman's real-life partner, which is pretty cool.

Molly was nice in this episode too, though she's always nice. It was cute when she was Sherlock's "John" for a day. One of their cases was a story from the books (the one about the step-father pretending to be his daughter's online boyfriend)! And it was great when she was telling Sherlock about her boyfriend and she said "I didn't meet him at work." Haha, after Moriarty, that will never happen again. I loved how her boyfriend dresses like Sherlock.

And did you hear that song near the end?? They were playing 'Do you hear the people sing, singing the songs of angry men...' from Les Miserables. We're singing that in my choir this year! All Saturday evening I was listening to that song because I've never seen Les Mis and I wanted to hear how the song went and then I just couldn't stop listening to it because it was so catchy and then it showed up in Sherlock! Crazy.

There were, of course, parts that could have been skipped/left out... The whole scene where John is working at the hospital I'm gonna skip if I ever watch the episode again. There was a whole bunch of stuff in there that is not suitable for any eyes.
Also, near the beginning, there's that scene where Mrs. Hudson and John are talking about Mary and Mrs. Hudson thinks that John's new 'somebody' is a guy and John replies that he's "not gay!" That joke is starting to feel overused. Even a reporter in his review of the episode felt it.
And the roof scene (another theory by one of Anderson's minions) where Sherlock and Moriarty lean in for a kiss... Thankfully Anderson interrupts the girl before she can go into detail.

Anyway, there are my thoughts. I'm looking forward to next week's episode and I'm wondering what's going to happen. I'm guessing that there will be another attempt on John's life by the new baddy (is it Augustus Milverton? I can't remember) amidst all the wedding-y stuff. Poor Sherlock, having to be best man. And he can't get out of it by an "engagement" either this time  (like the birthday video).

Live long and prosper!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Desolation of Smaug.

Thoughts upon first viewing:
Well, that was a good movie! When does The Hobbit start?
I had just finished the book the day before and could spot every single deviation from the plot. It was as if P. Jackson went into an old building, ripped out all the wallpaper, furniture, pictures, and fixtures, and replaced them all with new. The foundation of the building/story was still there, but all the decorations/details were changed.
I was a bit disappointed... It was a good movie, but it could have been so much better if they had added some parts from the book into it! There are countless brilliant parts in the book that would have been amazing if they had been put into the movie... Such as Bilbo yelling "attercop!" at the spiders. And Gandalf bringing the Dwarves in by two to meet Beorn (more on that a little later).
Other initial reactions... (these are to individual scenes)...

Balin (in the elf prison): "A deal was our only hope."
Me: "No! Obi-wan is your only hope!"

Gandalf: *is looking at an elven statue just inside the borders of Mirkwood forest*
My dad (whispers to me): "Is that a Sleeping Angel?"

Gandalf: *is in the tomb of the Nine Riders. He nearly falls off a ledge after sliding down a slope. He tries to get down to the tomb*
Me: "Where are the controls for the bridge?" "I think I just blasted them!"

Gandalf (this will be a rough paraphrase): "Radagast, promise to go away!"
Radagast: "Alright."
Me: "Rule no. 1 - the Doctor always lies!"
Radagast: *comes back*
Me: "I knew it!"
Radagast: "Wait, Gandalf! What if it's a trap?"
Me: "Luke, it's a trap!"
Gandalf: "Just go! It's undoubtedly a trap."

I obviously had Star Wars and Doctor Who on my mind that night, for no particular reason.

Thoughts upon second viewing: I enjoyed that much, much more! The additions aren't as horrible as I originally thought, and some of them are even pretty cool... though I still wish that some of the fun parts from the book had been added.
Smaug was absolutely AMAZING. I loved him! He was absolutely brilliant. Benedict Cumberbatch did an amazing job with the voice and also with the motion capture. He was also great as the Necromancer. I think that Smaug and Laketown were tied for my favorite things in the film.
Speaking of Laketown... Wow. It was amazing. It reminded me slightly of City of Ember, except above the ground. Especially with the greedy Master of the city, and his sly helper-dude.
I love the idea of a city floating on the water. Isn't there something like that in C.S. Lewis' space trilogy? When Ransom first lands in Perelandra?
Peter Jackson portrayed Laketown wonderfully, and the people within it. I would have loved to live there in it's glory days - when the lake ran with gold and trade was good.
Anyway, Bard was wonderful. I loved his children too. In the book, he only has the one son (Bain), I believe... but the addition of two daughters were lovely. Especially because they were played by James Nesbitt's (Bofor - my favorite Dwarf) two daughters.
It was cool to see the inside of the Lonely Mountain too. Wow, what a lot of treasure! I thought that was done brilliantly too. Especially the bit where Bilbo is looking for the Arkenstone and she shushes the coins that are moving under his feet. Hee hee.
Another great part was the barrel scene. It's very different from the book. In the book there's no huge battle... but I liked the battle part. It was hilarious when Bombur went rolling all over the place, squishing all the bad guys.
Tauriel. I didn't mind her, and actually liked her. I don't like the reason she was added (just for a female character), but I did like her. She's got great hair, and I think she's got her head in the right place. But let me say this... if Kili dies defending her instead of Thorin... I am going to hunt Peter Jackson down and slap him upside the head with The Hobbit book.

I could mention a thousand small things that were "wrong" with The Hobbit movie... but I'm only going to mention the three biggest things that bothered me.
First: Gandalf. I had a huge problem with Gandalf in this movie. Partly in relation to Bilbo (which I'll talk about now) and partly in relation to Beorn (which I'll talk about in a moment).
In the book, Gandalf makes it known to the Dwarves that this is their quest. He doesn't want anything to do with it. But they want a fourteenth member, so they aren't an unlucky number. Gandalf provides Bilbo and at the first opportunity, leaves them (at the head of Mirkwood forest) to go tend to his own business (like taking care of the Necromancer).
In the movie... well, Gandalf takes much more interest in the quest. The opening scene of the Desolation of Smaug is Gandalf and Thorin talking in the Prancing Pony Inn. Gandalf urges Thorin to go and reclaim the mountain and to unite the Dwarves, but Thorin is wary because he doesn't have the Arkenstone, which is the thing that unites everybody. So Gandalf's like, "You need a burglar." Peter Jackson totally changed Bilbo's reason for being in the quest! In the book, it was more about getting the Dwarves their fourteenth member, and also getting Bilbo out his front door and on an adventure, to change him for the better. In the movie, he's there to steal the Arkenstone.
I didn't really appreciate that deviation... And when Gandalf says "Don't go into that mountain without me" I cringe because it totally goes against his character. In the book, he makes it very apparent that it is the Dwarves quest, not his. He doesn't want to take part in it. What happened to "The incident with the dragon? I was barely involved"?
So that bugged me...
The second thing that bugged me was that four of the Dwarves get left in Laketown while the others continue on to the mountain. What?! Why? Actually, this is how I figured out the above point. I totally missed it at both viewings of the movie... but then I was writing this post and I was trying to make it logical to myself that the Dwarves would need fourteen members, and then leave four behind, when I realized that the "fourteen" plot hadn't even really been relevant in the movie!
That made the leaving of four Dwarves behind a little more bearable... But still, I really don't think that they would leave each other behind. Did they leave Bombur (in the book) when he fell into the river in Mirkwood which made him fall into a deep sleep? No! They carried him with them, even though he's the heaviest of them all.
The third point is the biggest. It annoys me SO much. It has to do with Gandalf and Beorn. In the book, Gandalf is courteous enough to meet Beorn at his house, with only Bilbo in his company, and explain their reasons for being there. He starts telling the tale of their escape from the goblins under the Misty Mountains. Two Dwarves come around the corner every few minutes. The story gets interrupted and Beorn's curiosity is aroused. By the end of the story, all thirteen Dwarves are there and Beorn decides to help them, even though he hates beggars and people in general. He's a bit of a hermit.
In the movie, however... Gandalf bursts into Beorn's living and even locks the skin-changer out of his own house! He doesn't have any respect for Beorn's privacy. He comes in and tells everyone to get comfortable. Don't worry, your host might kill you when he gets home, but for now just get comfortable in his hay!
I think that's very rude and totally against Gandalf's personality. Sure, he's a wizard, the mighty Gandalf the Grey, who is always in the right... but that doesn't give him the right to go bursting into people's houses.
That's my biggest problem with the movie. I did, however, LOVE that they included Beorn's giant bees in the movie. I was watching for them. =)

Okay, one more complaint about the movie... What in the world was up with Thraduil and Legolas' eyes? Can you say creepy? If I met someone who just stared like this all the time...

...I would turn around and walk the other way very quickly!
Let me post something less-scary to leave you with:

Anyway, I really enjoyed the Desolation of Smaug. I thought it was a great movie... I just wish they'd had more of The Hobbit in it. I'm curious to see what's in store for the next movie.

Live long and prosper!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Miniature Literature Review on Canterbury Tales.

Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer!

This book is an epic poem about a diverse group of people on a pilgrimage (which, for 14th century guys, is kind of the equivalent of a vacation) to the city of Canterbury. On the way, to entertain themselves, each member has to tell two stories. The Host, when they reach Canterbury, will determine the winner and everyone else will have to buy him a meal.

The book is comprised of the stories of the various persons involved.

Since there are many types of people (merchants, nuns, monks, rich lady, lawyer, cook, physician, pardoner, etc. Even Chaucer himself is one of the pilgrims!) there are many types of stories. There were some really good stories... and there were some horrible stories that I wish I had never read. The good ones had near-perfect women who ran into hardship but persevered by trusting God. A good message, though the characters were flawless and a bit unbelievable.
The bad stories... (the Miller's Tale and the Reeve's Tale were the worst) were absolutely horrible. I was reading the Penguin Classics version which translated all the old-English poetry into modern language. Let me tell you, the Miller's Tale and Reeve's Tale were very explicit! And it wasn't like TV, that you could turn your head away. If any of you ever read Canterbury Tales, do yourself a favor and skip those two. Those two tales were the whole reason I marked it down to a four of ten stars.
The language was pretty cool... and I admire the person who made translated it all into modern English. That's a lot of poetry and rhyming! I admire Chaucer too... He came up with a whole new style of writing to write his poem in - Iambic Pentameter! Those familiar with Shakespeare probably know what Iambic Pentameter is, as Shakespeare wrote in it. Chaucer was the one who made it up.
Basically, it is a form of poetical speech that, if you read it, it will come out in a ba-dum-ba-dum-ba-dum-ba-dum-ba-dum form.
Try it out for yourself! (Shakespeare's Sonnet #12) When-I-do-count-the-clock-that-tells-the-time,
One thing I really like about Canterbury Tales was the framed narrative. A framed narrative is essentially a story inside a story... A good example is the One Hundred and One Nights/Arabian Nights... The king's wife, to stay alive, must tell stories to the king every night before he goes to bed. There's that plotline, and then there's the all the stories she tells him inside of that.
Canterbury Tales is like this too. It has the overarching plot of travelling to Canterbury (they never actually reach it... the story is unfinished. Or is it? There's lot of debate over that) and then there's all the stories that the pilgrims tell.
Another thing that I think is cool about the story is that Chaucer puts himself in as one of the pilgrims. He tries to tell a story but is shot down 'cause it's too boring, so he tells a different tale.

I rated this book a 4/10 stars. I didn't particularly enjoy it and found it a tedious read. A lot of the stories had similar plots and themes and I kind of felt like I was reading the same thing over and over again. Stick in the two explicit stories, plus some others that were just plain gross/rude, and it didn't make for an enjoyable read. At least for me. I think that if we had had time to study it in depth I would have enjoyed it more.
So, if you are ever going to read this, I would encourage doing lots of homework and deciding which tales are alright to read, and which ones you should skip over.

Live long and prosper.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

I can not pretend to be something I'm not...

Something has been pressing on my heart very much in the past month, and the past year.

People label me a geek. People label me a Trekkie. I don't mind the Trekkie so much... And the geek I allow. But if I want to be known as one thing, I want to be known as a Christian.
In youth group, I was for awhile the "Star Trek" one and that hurts me. I want to be the "one who loves God."
I look around me and see girls all over the world spending their time alone in their rooms watching Doctor Who... Or blogging alone in their rooms. Remember that guy from Doctor Who, in the god Complex episode? He was a blogger, and he was made fun of because he was weird and alone all the time.
Does God call us to be like that? No! He calls us to go out and tell the world of His love! The Great Commission!

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:16-20

Do you think Jesus was kidding?  How can we be out making disciples if we're in our rooms all the live long day being anti-social hermits?
I spent the last three days watching the first season of BBC'S Robin Hood. I really enjoyed it. But when I wasn't watching it, I was thinking about watching it. I was wondering what happened next. My dad and I played Star Trek: Catan... Was I thinking seriously about the game? Not really... I wanted to go and watch more Robin Hood. Last night, I stayed up way late past my bedtime just to watch one more episode when I knew full well that I had to be up at 7:00 in the morning to go to worship practice. This afternoon I skimped on my piano practice just to get back to watching it.
Is that healthy? No. It's not. Would I ever recommend watching a TV show in 3-days? No. I would not. Because they become idols, without us meaning them to be. We don't even realize that they've become idols until we're in too deep. 

I fear someday that someone will come up to me and say "You're such a fangirl!" (in a jokingly "good" way) or "Welcome to the fangirl ranks, Abbey!" I don't want that to happen! I don't want to be a fangirl! I never want to be known as a fangirl! Because I look at their lives and think, what substance do they have? How can they spend so much time on things that don't matter in the end.
When you get to heaven, will God look at you - at me - and say "Well done for watching all the popular TV shows and joining all the fandoms!" No. I believe that he'll say, "Why did you spend so much time watching those popular TV shows when you could have been spending time with me? I called to you but you didn't listen."

I wonder how many amazing things we're missing out on by shifting our focus off of God? By putting our focus on idols that we think will make us happy? You name it, and I've probably made it an idol in my life... right now it's fear and doubt for my future - fear and doubt that I'll be alone - that I am alone - and that I'll have no friends. I know God will always be there for me... but we were created to be in relationship with each other too! And how can we build good relationships when we're glued to our screens all day? How can we share the love of Christ if we're glued to our screens all day?
I don't believe that the Word of God can effectively be shared to strangers across the internet. For one, on the internet, just by the way you write things, you could come off as pushy and rude, when, in real life, you were intending to be satirical and funny. Inflection and body language is very important. Without it, too many arguments break out online.

I've tried to "fit in" with the "cool kids." In the real world it was trying to breach the gap between the "cool kids" and the "quiet kids" in youth group. I exposed myself to some bad youtube channels/videos (Ellen DeGeneres... Kids React...) and some bad TV shows (Friends and other sitcoms) and also started being more outspoken and a bit brash and maybe even a bit flirtatious. On the internet world... Getting involved in Doctor Who and Sherlock, and trying to copy what I thought was the "cool way" to write blog posts in the author blogsphere... when I'm not even sure if God wants me to be an author/writer!

Those things are not me. Undoubtedly I will fall back into these things... trying to be like others by acting like them... countless times in the rest of my life, but that's not who I want to be.
I want to be a messenger of God. I want to learn more about Him and tell others about Him. I want to make friends in real life and I want to build relationships with people in real life so that maybe, if they aren't Christians, they can see something different about me... I want to live for God. But I have to stop leading a double life. I need to stop struggling and let him take over.

Does this mean I'm giving up blogging? Doctor Who? Star Trek? Being a geek?
No. Because it's okay to be all those things. It's okay to be a geek... Just so long as it doesn't come before God.
There's a story in Gospels... I'm going to copy it from Luke 9 (the story is also in Matthew 8). The little header above the paragraphs is called "The Cost of Following Jesus."
So here it is... the cost of following the one who Created everything. The cost of following the one who saved your life by giving His own (because there is a cost. It's not just "I accept God and now I'm going to heaven. Done"):

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go."
Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head. He said to another man, "Follow me."
But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."
Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God."
Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family."
Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."
(vs. 57-62)

Are burying your father or saying goodbye to your family bad things? No. But if they come between you and God, then yes they are.
If Jesus came up to you, and said "follow me" would you unhesitatingly say "yes!" or would you say "just a minute... but first let me..."?
If Jesus came up to you in the middle of Sherlock premier on Sunday, right before Sherlock revealed how he fell at the end of season two - if Jesus came up to you at this point and asked you to follow him, would you unhesitatingly say "yes!" and get up and leave without seeing the resolution to the long-awaited season three of Sherlock?

Casting down idols (whether they be addictions, entertainment, money, fear, doubt, guys, attention, or even little gold figurines) is something that has been in my mind a lot this year. And I've struggled over whether to post about it on my blog or not... But now I just have to. I have to make my priorities straight.
I still enjoy a good sci-fy show, and I really really love and appreciate well-written books and classical music. I'm a geek. I'm still going to post about the things I enjoy, such as Tolkien, and movies, and Doctor Who.
But at the core of all that, I am a follower of Christ. I never want any TV show, book, or piece of music get in the way of my relationship with Jesus. And I want you all to know that. This girl belongs to God first and foremost above everything else!
Will I fail? Yes. I'm going to fail tomorrow, because I am a sin-filled being. I'm probably going to fail tonight, even though I go to bed soon.
But I'm going to try my hardest not to fail. I want to be conscious of every time I fail, so that the next time, I can resist temptation to "just watch one more episode" or to "let's just skip Bible this morning 'cause we're too busy."

So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"
He said to them, "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
Acts 1:6-8

In the Old Testament, before Jesus, only specific people could go into the temple at specific times to be in the presence of God and offer the sacrifices to him. It was a privilege to be in the presence of God and only happened once a year. The majority of normal people didn't have the requirements to be a priest and be in the presence of God in the Holy of Holies in the temple. But that changed when Jesus came and died to save us from our sins. That wall was broken down. We can speak to God freely whenever we want to! And "we will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on us." The people in Old Testament didn't have that option... They didn't even have the option to accept that power. But we do. And everyday, more people throw that power out the window. Kinda dumb don't you think? We have the power of God on our side and we choose to throw it out the window.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:11-13

Be content believers! Be content with God! Don't try to fill your life with meaningless fluff! Take hold of his free gift of salvation, and take hold of the power he offers to help you through life!

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If our God is for us, who can be against us?
Romans 8:31

Because you can't take the stuff with you. It doesn't matter in the end.

Naked a man comes from his mother's womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand.
This too is a grievous evil: As a man comes, so he departs, and what does he gain, since he toils for the wind?
Ecclesiastes 5:15-17

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A rainy Saturday part II

I had just retired to my room to write when the storm passed on... The rain fell to a drizzle, the clouds went away, and the sun came out! Rats. I had hoped to write with the storm. Oh well... And then I saw a gigantic rainbow just outside the house, crossing the whole sky! It was brilliant!

I start to write... and then it starts getting darker. The light fades. I can't see the words I write as well as I could a minute ago. The light fades quickly. And then it starts storming again! Rain pours.
Now the rain is back to a drizzle. The trees are still dancing in the background, though... And it's gotten much lighter again.
My mom has brought the space heater into my room 'cause I'm under my covers. She's afraid I'll catch a cold. I won't. And I'm not cold. It's just cozy underneath the blankets. Besides, the space heater makes the air smell funny - like chlorine.
Now I'm listening to the music from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake and trying to ignore the video that goes with it (an actual production of the ballet). I'm about halfway done with chapter seven and I can't quit now! I've promised myself that if I finish chapter seven, I can take all the books of my shelf, in preparation for rearranging them.
Back to writing!

Almost done with chapter seven and it's really dark now! And raining steadily again. I'm sure if someone were to come in and check on me, they'd tell me to turn a light on - I'm ruining my eyes. Maybe I will turn a light on. It kind of ruins the atmosphere though.
WHOA! It got really windy and rainy now! I turned around to look out the window and there was a branch flying past.

Now it's light once more. I think the sun might be coming out again. Here comes the sun, do do do do...
I finished chapter seven and am now writing chapter eight. Two characters that I was really looking forward to writing are introduced in this chapter. One of the characters I've known about for awhile. The other just came to me this morning. I'm really enjoying writing her. I've never written a character like this before.

Okay, time for a break... My hand is cramping up. Time to reorganize the bookshelf!

The shelf is reorganized (mostly) and I'm back from the movie! I really enjoyed How To Train Your Dragon! Now I know why so many love it! I loved the flying scenes... wow. Great animation.

What did you do this Saturday?

Live long and prosper!

A rainy Saturday

A rainy Saturday... the perfect day to work on my new writing project. I'm just dying to tell people (other than my parents) about it... but I'm afraid that once I tell someone, I won't want to write it anymore. I'm writing it all out on paper, and so far, everything that I've ever tried to write on paper before has never gotten finished.
Of course, that was before NaNoWriMo. And then, more often than not, I would try to pants it and would have no direction of where the plot was going. I'm not a pantser, I'm a planner, so that method never worked for me... and therefore, none of my written-on-paper-books ever got finished (except for one... two actually, if you count the Warriors fanfiction).
My goal for this new story is to have it done by the end of April. My other goal is to write in it every day, and, if possible, write a chapter a day. We'll see how that goes.
So far today I've finished chapter six... I want write chapter seven and chapter eight today also. I've got until 5:00 (that's about five hours) because at 5:00 I need to start getting ready to go to a friend's house to watch How To Train Your Dragon for the first time!

Though I can't tell you much about this story... I can tell you a couple of things.
The genre I'm writing in is somewhere in between fairy tale and fantasy and I'm having fun/am looking forward to having fun with the various mythical creatures that come with those genres.
The "theme song," if you want to call it that, for this story is the Peer Gynt Suites by Edvard Grieg. If you're unfamiliar with it by name... maybe this song will spark your memory:

It's really hard to find good classical music that sounds fantasy-ish. The Peer Gynt Suites fit the bill perfectly, and I was wondering why. So I looked them up and found out something really interesting!
Peer Gynt is actually a play by a man named Henrik Ibsen. It's about a lazy man named Peer Gynt who goes around thinking that the world is his and that he doesn't need to work for it. In one part, he gets drunk and hits his head on a rock and has a "dream" where he visits a troll "In the Hall of the Mountain King," which is where the above piece of music gets it's name...
The storyline is really strange, and it's message is something along the lines of don't procrastinate because at the end of your life, you'll regret not doing anything worthwhile.
Ibsen contacted composer Edvard Grieg to compose the music for the play, and Grieg agreed (though reportedly he liked writing his music from his head, rather than from suggestions). He wrote all of the music for Peer Gynt, but in the end, only the two suites that you normally here today (running approx. 33 minutes) premiered with the play in 1876. The rest of the music that Grieg wrote wasn't published until 1908, a year after he died.
Isn't that interesting? I think it's very interesting.

Well, I'm off to finish my lunch and then get writing! I think I shall hideaway in my bedroom... It's storming outside (not with thunder or anything - yet - but with lots and lots of rain and wind. Glorious! This is my favorite type of weather, especially for doing something creative like writing or reading, and especially if there's some nice exciting classical music in the background) and soon my mom's friend will be coming over the quilt with my mom... My bedroom will be the safest place to hideaway and write privately, while still being able to see the weather outside, since they'll be taking over the living room.

Live long and prosper!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

My thoughts on the new Girl of the Year, Isabelle.

New year, new American Girl of the Year.

This is Isabelle. She's a dancer and also enjoys sewing costumes and clothes. When she's accepted into a prestigious dance school, she struggles with comparing herself to the other, better dancers. She must focus on her individual talents and gifts.
As far as American Girl's recent stories... this pretty much fits in right with their core message "follow your inner star." I like how the focus is on individual gifts, and not comparing yourself to others. I think that that's something that lots of girls struggle with. I know I've struggled with it in the past.
The doll herself has layered, caramel-colored hair and hazel eyes. She also comes with a pink hairpiece that you can clip underneath her hair to give her highlights. From what I've read/heard from reviewers of the doll, the hairpiece doesn't work that well and it's really hard to put in, and once it's in you can't see it that well.

On to Isabelle's clothing!
Isabelle's got lots of outfits... and the ridiculous thing is, nearly every individual piece of clothing is sold separately! Every piece costs $8-14.

You can mix and match the clothing up at the top for many unique looks... But $8-$14 for one of the above pieces of clothing? That's a lot of money... Especially for stuff that could you could easily make yourself. That plain pink shirt right in the middle, for example. $14! For a plain shirt!
She does have a few other outfits...

I don't understand this one... It looks like the dress is falling off (thank goodness for the shirt-thing underneath!). The belt, however, is very cute.

Then there's this outfit, which I think is adorable. I love the ballet-type shoes.

Finally there are Isabelle's pajamas. The pants look comfy, but who sleeps in sequins? I would imagine that would be very uncomfortable.

Now the furniture and accessories:

Isabelle's accessories come with a very cute jean jacket, a gold sequiny purse, some wrist warmers, a hairpiece, an ID, and a Metro pass. I these are pretty cute accessories (except for the purse. It looks like something from Build-A-Bear).

This is Isabelle's cat Tutu, who's pretty cute, though not handsome enough to tempt me.

This is a little case full of hair accessories and, it looks like, slippers in the pocket. This set costs a whopping $44! I can't believe it! Most of these things I have already... like the hairbands and bobby pins. I can't imagine paying $44 for a case of stuff that you could buy at the drug store.

This is Isabelle's dance barre. I don't even want to know how much it costs... but it's a pretty cool set.  2012's Girl of the Year, McKenna, had a balancing beam, which didn't seem very doll-appropriate, because all you can really do is stand the doll on the beam and hope she doesn't fall off (though for littler girls, they could twirl the doll around and pretend she's doing gymnastics).
This set seems a lot more doll-friendly. I saw a picture in the catalog of Isabelle standing with one foot on the barre, like ballet dancers do, and it looked pretty real! Plus, the accessories that come with the barre are pretty cool too. Though it's kind of weird that you have to buy the set just to get the ballet shoes... A money-making scheme, I deem. (You see, I am a poet, and you did not know it, what!)

Last but not least, you have Isabelle's sewing studio, which costs $275. It has a nice cabinet, which closes and has mirrors and a barre on the outside. It also has the mannequin, and a sewing machine and a poof (aka a tuffet... or a chair, depending on who you're talking to). It looks like there's nice storage and some nice accessories that come with set. I think it's super cool to have a doll that's into sewing, because today, it seems like girls are doing all they can do be less feminine.

So that's Isabelle's collection! Overall, it's an okay collection... I really like the basis for her stories, and the sewing theme. As for originality in the actual pieces of the collection... well, I don't think American Girl did a very good job.
Isabelle, for example, looks like a mix between 2010's Girl of the Year, Lanie (for face mold and eyes), and the Just Like You/My American Girl doll #39 (for face mold and hair).

(Sorry for the blurriness. The three pictures were all different sizes. Also... another thing to note... On American Girl's website, it looks almost like Isabelle has Felicity's bright green eyes. She doesn't. They are hazel.)

I also had this problem with McKenna... who had the exact same face mold and eye color as Chrissa, Girl of the Year 2009, and Saige, last year's Girl of the Year, who had nearly the same face as Nikki (who, I believe, was from 2007?). Also, the newest historical character Caroline, has very similar features as Lanie and several of the Just Like You/My American Girls.
What's up American Girl? There are plenty of different face pigmentations and eye colors and hair shades to chose from. Why keep choosing ones that look like other dolls? There's only ever been one dark-skinned Girl of the Year - Kanani from Hawaii. Why can't we have an African-American Girl of the Year? I think an African-American dancer named Isabelle who likes to sew would be an adorable addition to the world of American Girl.

Another problem I have with Isabelle's collection is all the pink and purple! You look at all of American Girl's outfits and accessories and nearly all of them have something pink or purple in them, and often both colors. Just take a look at Isabelle's pajamas. They're all a nice shade of purple... and then there's a random pink bow thrown in. Her black and gold tutu set looks very professional and smart... and then there's the pink flower. Her sewing room is all pink and purple. I'm getting very tired of the same colors in every single outfit.
American Girl's motto is "follow your inner star" and "be yourself."
What I really think they're trying to say is "be yourself by being like everyone else."

American Girl says to be yourself and follow your inner star... but underneath all of that... all of their dolls and outfits are starting to look exactly the same. Even their stories are all starting to sound alike. I recently read the Marie-Grace and Cecile books and was saddened to find out that they were mostly about character development, and not as much about the rich culture of New Orleans. Sure, the author told us about New Orleans, but it wasn't much more than that.
Marie-Grace went into the market and passed fruit stands with colored women in bright turbans selling their wares.
That was about as descriptive as it got. I wanted more history! More description! I wanted to feel like I was there with Marie-Grace!

Anyway, I should stop my ranting about American Girl. Every time I talk about them, I get just a bit upset and very sad. They were such an amazing company when their focus was on the historical characters, and making everything unique. Now, the focus is on the modern girls, and everything is pink, purple, and plastic. American Girl Dolls are turning into giant Barbies.

xD I'm kidding. Sort of...

So what do you think of American Girl's newest doll Isabelle? What about their change from historical and unique to Giant Barbie?

Live long and prosper!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Audrey Hepburn

Sammy Davis Jr.

Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra.

Frank Sinatra.

Anthony Newley.

Gene Kelley.

Bing Crosby.

Nancy Sinatra.

Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, and George Harrison.

Dean Martin.

 Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork, Michael Nesmith, Davy Jones.

Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra, and Vivian Blaine.

Tim Conway.

Typical Danny Kaye.

Bernadette Peters.

Linda McCartney.

Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and daughter.

Liberace, and Rowlf the Dog.

George Gershwin.

J.R.R. Tolkien.