Sunday, December 14, 2014

Gloria in Excelsis Deo

I saw this video today- I highly recommend checking it out! It's a beautiful music video centering on the real meaning of Christmas (and it's filled with many who I'm sure you might recognize!) Enjoy!



(Who did you see? Aside from the obvious -The Piano Guys, Peter & Evynne Hollens and David Archuleta- I also spotted some familiar faces from Studio C and Kid History, as well as Alex Boy√©. Did you find anyone else?)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium (2007)


This is a movie I paid absolutely no attention to when it came out. However, several months ago, my family and I caught it on television, and after it came on TV again just the other day- and I enjoyed it just as much this second time around- I decided that it wouldn't hurt to write a quick review of it. I haven't written a movie review -aside from my Doctor Who posts- in quite some time, so forgive me if I'm a little rusty on it.

Desktop Backgrounds > Movies > Mr Magorium's - Wonder Emporium

Molly Mahoney is the manager of Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, the awesome toy store owned by Mr. Edward Magorium. Molly was a promising composer and piano player when she was a girl, and now she is a twenty-three year-old insecure woman that feels stuck in her job. Among the costumers of the Emporium is the lonely hat collector, Eric Applebaum, who has only Molly and Mr. Magorium for friends. When the last pair of shoes that Mr. Magorium bought in Toscana is worn, he hires the accountant, Henry Weston to adjust the accounts of the Emporium. Furthermore, he claims that he is two hundred and forty-three years old and his time to go has come; he gives a block of wood called Congreve cube to Molly and asks Henry to transfer the Emporium to her name. Molly tries to convince Mr. Magorium to stay in his magical toy store instead of "going".
- blurb from imdb.com....it's not really the best blurb out there, is it?



I think what I love about this movie is its quirkiness, something that comes not only from the magical toy store, but also from its characters. Mr. Magorium himself is obviously the most "interesting" but I can't help but love the secondary characters- Molly Mahooney (and her great "piano hand" quirk), Henry Weston the "mutant," and Eric and his marvelous hats. While strictly speaking, it is a "kid's movie"- and probably the reason I never paid much attention to it when it first came out- it's the type that anyone of any age can enjoy... if you have the right personality for it. You see, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium didn't get very good reviews at all. Maybe it's because the movie doesn't try to make sense. It's not jaded, loaded with the innuendos that plague kid's movies theses days, or trying to do something groundbreaking and fashionable. It's unabashedly sentimental. It's an old-fashioned story with a great cast and nearly as many quotable lines as- dare I say it?- The Princess Bride.


The only real flaw of this movie is it's ending; it's abrupt and leaves me wanting more. Then again, a movie where you want more is probably a better than a movie that you want less of. Still, it's a fun- if somewhat short- movie that I'm sure I'll watch again.

Do not come into this movie expecting something realistic; it's not. At all. But it does capture realism in the emotion and laughter of its characters, and the childlike wonder found in every corner of Mr. Magorium's magical, wonderful toy store.

My sister says this scene made her want to cry every time. That poor little sock monkey :(

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What I Look Like Doing NaNo

NaNo has been especially difficult this year. I'm writing in a genre I've never done before (sci-fi!) and I also have been trying to edit Hidden Pearls and my Five Enchanted Roses entry and yet most of the time at the computer is spent like this:



And then I get in my little bed after a day of writer's block and there's something kind of magical about being cozy under the covers because suddenly, I HAVE IDEAS.


So half of my head keeps trying and the other half is like, no


So I decide I need to go eat. And maybe take a walk.


And then, I have a moment of inspiration!!!


And I write like crazy.


And then I get stuck again.


I try to brainstorm more ideas....


....but halfway through , Pinterest temptation pulls me away. And of course, that's when my sister looks over my shoulder and I try to act like I've been writing the whole time.


But it doesn't fool her and she scolds me for my pinterest and tumblr browsing when I'm supposed to be writing. So I get annoyed and tell her to go away.


And then I kid myself into thinking I have plenty of time and that that deadline is far, far away.


It doesn't work.


So I spend lots of time lying around like this:

Leave me alone to die lilo and stitch

But I realize what I'm really doing:

Sponge Bob Procrastination

So I stumble back to the computer


And I try writing anyway. And slowly, slowly, things start to come.


I've also been craving really weird Japanese kit-kat bars that I've been seeing online, which doesn't help. But that doesn't really have much to do with the rest of this post...but they do look yummy, don't they? Well...sort of. :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Doctor Who Series 8

Note: I'll be using the words "season" and "series" interchangeably in this post. But rest assured they mean the same thing.

So this may be an insanely long review, partly because I wrote it while the season was on-going, so I had plenty of time to try and get my thoughts down, and partly because I've just got a lot to say. :D Overall, I really liked this season. That might be because it seemed like a throwback to some of the earlier seasons with Nine and Ten (in fact, almost every single episode reminded me of a particular episode from seasons 1-4) True, Series 8 wasn't perfect, but no series ever is, and despite a rather weak opening, this might be right up there with series 4 as one of my all-time favorite seasons of Doctor Who.

"Deep Breath"



I admit that "Deep Breath" definitely started slow. Remember David Tennant's first run as the doctor in "The Christmas Invasion" where he was unconscious half the time? That's kind of what it felt like here and it wasn't until halfway through that Peter Capaldi's doctor really began to shine. Still, despite some great banter with him and Clara, I found this episode lacking, and the lesbian relationship between Madame Vastra and Jenny was also a major detractor. Still, there were some really funny parts, and it sets the tone for Clara and the Doctor's relationship in further episodes.

reminded me of: "The Girl in the Fireplace" (with intentional parallels drawn within the episode) & "The Christmas Invasion"

"Into the Dalek"



Okay, so this episode does have its good points- namely, the humorous introduction of Danny Pink. However, I in all honesty found this episode really boring. I wouldn't say there was anything wrong with it, but I just wasn't interested.  (I feel like the review of this episode is really short...but I don't have a lot to say about it)

reminded me of: "Dalek" 

"Robot of Sherwood"



This is really where the season started to pick up. I loved this episode. Was it cheesy? Yes. But was it fun? Absolutely. The plot was rather weak and nothing terribly original, but it was funny and it had Robin Hood. I felt Twelve really got into "his" Doctor here and just...I liked it. A lot. Even with the slightly ridiculous ending.



And the actor they got to play Robin was perfect, despite my doubts after seeing the preview. Not to mention Clara's lovely medieval dress :)

reminded me of: "The Fires of Pompeii"

"Listen"



"Listen" only helped cement my high expectations for series 8 after "Robot of Sherwood." Clara is one of my favorite companions, and she was especially likable here. This episode was creepy and clever, and that twist at the end? I can honestly say I did NOT see it coming.

The ending of this one you'll probably love or hate- I admit it did take me time to get used to it; but after thinking about it I thought it was a good ending. *SPOILER* Although I still want to know what was under that blanket!!! or do I....? *END OF SPOILER*

This is truly classic Steven Moffat at his best.

reminded me of:"Blink"

"Time Heist"



Fun. Just, fun. That's what this episode was. Who doesn't like a good heist? While finer elements of the plot were at times a bit weak, this episode definitely had strength in its likable cast of characters and the fact that it was truly visually stunning. The filmwork here was great, and it also was more Doctor-centered than previous episodes had been thus far. The set-up -that a group of people have agreed to rob a bank without knowing why or even what they're robbing- was brilliant.

reminded me of: "42"  Also just a tad bit of "The God Complex," though that's not from the RTD years.

"The Caretaker"



Though this one at times felt a little disjointed, it was also heavy on the humor. (Plus Clara was teaching Pride and Prejudice...only to have the Doctor correct her. I feel like that deserves points right there.) It also showed little clips of various Doctor-and-Clara adventures and how that was affecting her personal life. And the miscommunications (the teacher in the bowtie! the "space dad" bit!) were pretty funny as well. I wouldn't say it was a stand-out, but I really enjoyed watching it.

reminded me of: "School Reunion"

"Kill the Moon"



A hiccup in an otherwise great run, I didn't hate this episode, but I didn't like it, either. *SPOILER* Though many people may disagree, the whole plot reminded me of the abortion debate, even though it's far from a perfect parallel (The question in this episode was not so much whether the creature was alive, but rather, "should we kill something that might be innocent or let it put the entire world at risk?") Clara's decision on one hand could be seen as doing what she believed to be right even when the entire world told her she was wrong- but it can also be seen as disregarding an entire planet's opinion just to do what she wanted even if it cost them their lives. It was one of those things where both choices were bad. *END OF SPOILER* I'm not sure I would have been happy with however this episode had ended. Also, certain things about this episode conflicted with other things that have been established in the Doctor Who universe, and there were plot holes that even I noticed.

However, the episode's greatest downfall was this: most of the time I feel great after watching an episode of Doctor Who, but after this one, I just felt...depressed. And a little let down. The fact that this one also had more language than any other episodes of the season didn't help, either.

reminded me of: "The Waters of Mars" and "The Impossible Planet"/"The Satan Pit"

"Mummy on the Orient Express"



Okay, this was an episode that I wasn't expecting much of judging from the preview-and the fact that the previous episode was somewhat of a let-down- but "Mummy on the Orient Express" was really great. I loved the references to Murder on the Orient Express and *SPOILER* The Doctor's use of the mummy line tickled me to death *END OF SPOILER* It had a great 20s vibe and the Doctor was amazing. It was, for me personally, one of the highlights of the season.

Another thing I will say is that a certain line the Doctor said really struck me- something to the effect that sometimes there are no good choices. This really tied in with the episode before it, where both of Clara's options were bad ones, and I wonder if that was intentional. I really enjoyed that about this season: there were so many things that kept shedding light on the characters of both Clara and the Doctor, but they were never so glaringly obvious that they shouted in your face.


*SPOILER* Also, some find Clara's decision to stay with the Doctor at the end of this episode bit erratic and contrary to character; however, though I admit it didn't translate to screen as well, I understood the reasoning behind it. The truth is, Clara's traveling with the Doctor is an addiction. She knows she should stop.  She even said she was with a there's-no-going-back attitude. But when it came down to it...she couldn't do it. It does make Clara's character feel a little...lacking, maybe? But I do think I understand what they were trying to do there. *END OF SPOILER* Oh...and might I have spied Mr. Collins from P&P '95?

reminded me of: "The Wasp and the Unicorn" & "Voyage of the Damned" With a bit of "Midnight" as well. (mainly because of the train:) Oh, and the countdown was a bit like in "42"

"Flatline"

We have a TARDIS about this size...and a sonice screwdriver too. :D
Okay, the beginning of this episode was pretty hilarious- I'll admit it. Still, though I felt this episode was important to character development, it belonged into the "I-don't-hate-it-but-I-don't-love-it" category. Don't get me wrong: I enjoyed watching it and I never got bored. Still, it didn't amaze me or go into the all-time favorites category. That being said, I do think it's one I'd happily watch again.

This episode is very Clara-centered, and while *SPOILER* she did well in her role as "doctor" for a day, I think I maybe got why it was so hard for the Doctor to tell her she did well at the end was this: (and I'm quoting tumblr here) "This episode was essentially the Doctor forced to watch the person he loves most in the universe become more and more the person that he hates most in the whole universe." That's just my opinion, but I do agree with that. *END OF SPOILER*

Also, one thing that might seem tiny to some people but really bothered me was the use of the word B****, especially because it was used by a likable character as...some term of endearment? I'm sorry, but I would find it highly offensive to be called that and it was just in bad taste. No reason for it whatsoever.

reminded me of: "Fear Her" and "The Idiot's Lantern" (and the Doctor's defeat-the-aliens-speech was reminiscent of "The Christmas Invasion")

"In The Forest of the Night"


Though many consider this episode a "filler" just before the finale, I actually enjoyed this one more than "Flatline." I especially liked Clara and Danny's "gifted and talented" kids group, because they were honestly fun to watch, even when they weren't strictly likable. A lot of time child actors/characters can be annoying, but this group wasn't, and I especially liked Maebh. The allusions to fairy tales was also a nice touch. The plot wasn't particularly amazing, but I wouldn't call it boring or weak, either. It's not one that has a lot of substance to "chew" on, but as a sort of fairy tale, it works. And I liked the bit near the end with the Doctor's lecture to Clara, Danny, and the kids in the TARDIS. It sort of went with the whole "school trip" thing. I've actually really loved how this season has shown the Doctor's interactions with children. :D


reminded me of: this is actually the only episode that didn't overtly reminded me of an older episode, although my sister did point out parts of it were similar to "The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe" in the current Steven Moffat years.

"Dark Water"/ "Death in Heaven"


From the gasp-filled beginning to the cliff-hanger ending, "Dark Water" was a great start to the finale. There was one major plot twist I had guessed at, but there were plenty of "gotcha' moments that I wasn't expecting.



However, the second part, "Death in Heaven' went a bit downhill for me. Don't misunderstand- I'm not saying I hated it. But while there were some good parts (The "president of the world" scene!) part of the conclusion just didn't jive right for me. Also, I found the ending- not unlike many past DW finales- tragic to watch. *SPOILER* First off, our scarf-and-bow-tie-wearing friend Osgood died! For some reason I had always really liked her. Also, no matter what happened, I just thought that there was some way Danny would come back...I mean, we had met his great-grandson! I understand that in DW "time can be re-written" but for some reason that really bothered me. And I wasn't crazy about a woman as the master, either, mainly because I'm really hoping that doesn't lead up to an eventual woman Doctor, which would be rather rubbish, to use a doctor-y phrase. One thing I did like- even if it was sad- was how both Clara and the Doctor's lying habit hurt them both in the end...without them even knowing it. Poignant but so, so sad *END OF SPOILER*

Oh- and did anyone else notice that in the last episode during the beginning theme, it was Clara's eyes you saw, rather than the Doctor's? I thought that was interesting.

reminded me of: "Doomsday" and the season finales of Seasons 3 & 4

Overall, Series 8 seemed to combine what I love about the Russel T. Davies years with what I truly enjoy about Steven Moffat's writing into a happy medium. I've also appreciated the fact that, aside from a small scattering of mild profanities in a few of the episodes (and the homosexual relationship in the first episode) this season has been very clean. Like all Doctor Who seasons, there was a "running" mystery thread throughout the episodes with mentions of "the promised land" and the character of Missy, which were enough to hint at the upcoming finale without overwhelming the other episodes. However, what I found to be even more interesting were the repeating threads to the Doctor's feelings towards war and soldiers, and his habit of lying- and how that affected Clara as well. Both of those were wrapped up very well in the season finale.

my personal favorite episodes: "Listen," "Mummy on the Orient Express," and "Robot of Sherwood."

I thought Peter Capaldi was brilliant as the Doctor. Honestly, in some ways it feels like he's been the doctor forever, even if he got a rather bumpy start. (which is not altogether his fault) Though Ten is at this point still my favorite Doctor (and that's tentatively- I love them all!) Twelve is definately a close second. He brings something all his own to the table as this beloved character, and yet when all is still said and done, he still feels like the Doctor. I'm already excited for his next season and I hope he stays around for a good long time.


One thing that I've heard a lot of complaints about is Clara's prominence and people complaining that it's not the Clara Oswald Show. This just confuses me, because Clara's role in Season 8 is actually very much like Rose Tyler's in Season 1 & 2- and I never heard anyone complain about the "Rose Tyler Show." Yes, Clara  is prominent, and while I can understand dislike of this from a certain point of view, I've found that throughout Doctor Who- or, at least, "New Who"-the story  is very much about the companions and their relationship with the Doctor- how they, and in essence, us- view this time traveling alien. In fact, while I'll always love the Doctor, I've never liked the episodes where he's traveling solo (Remember those specials in between season 4 & 5? Except for "The Waters of Mars" they were pretty much a bust) He needs his companions, and I like watching those relationships. Maybe that's my personal taste, but while I love a good villain, I care less about the monsters and more about the people fighting them.

(a bit of an edit- I wrote the above paragraph about halfway through the season, and I while I still agree with most of it, I do admit that the last few episodes did give Clara a more prominent part than I cared for, where she and the Doctor almost seemed to have switched places, with her taking on a more Doctor-like role. While I do still like Clara as a companion- that's just it. I like her as a companion, not as a replacement protagonist. So I'm really looking forward to -err, hoping for?- more Doctor-centered episodes in the future.)

This series was focused a lot on character development, and I liked that. There's weren't a whole lot of monsters, which is probably a disappointment to some. There were plenty of good plots, hilarious jokes, and even a few creepy aliens. But it all came down to the basics- the Doctor and his companion.

Oh, and looking over my hopes for Series 8, mentioned in my Series 7 DW review?

"Here’s to hoping that not only will the next Doctor be as brilliant as his predecessors have been, but that the upcoming seasons will have less objectionable content, less chaos, and more complex but understandable storylines. Geronimo!"

I have to admit....I think I pretty much got what I wanted. :)

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Classics Club: Nicholas Nickleby


Nicholas Nickleby was one book I knew I needed to read- the 2002 movie was one of the first Dickens adaptations that I ever saw- but it took me a while to get a hold of it and to have the time I needed to devote to actually reading.

Overall, this is one of my lesser-favorites of Dickens. It had some really memorable characters (I, for one, loved the acting troupe!) but I never really fell in love with Nicholas himself. While there were several times his actions made me want to cheer (beating up Mr. Squeers, anyone?) there was something about him that rubbed me a bit the wrong way at times. He seemed a little too perfect maybe, in a goody-two-shoes type of way. Rather like several characters- including the title one- in the original Elsie Dinsmore books.

Still, the book was saved by the other characters who made it memorable. While the first to come to my mind is Vincent Crummles and the rest of his associates, I also enjoyed the characters of John Browdie and his wife; the Kenwigs family; the Cheerybles; and Miss La Creevy. The most annoying character? Mrs. Nickleby. I was ready to tear my hair out over her sometimes!

Overall, while I was a little disappointed in this book, it wasn't a bad read, and there were many moments I really enjoyed. It's still probably down with Oliver Twist and Great Expectations as my not-so-favorite Dickens books, though.

I can't believe I'm almost to the end of my Classic Club List! Next up? Leo Tolstoy's War & Peace!
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