Sunday, September 28, 2014

You're a Good Man, Caleb Lee

I never wanted to be the only girl. I wanted someone to dress up with and play dolls with and have tea parties with. Daniel was too mature for that, and older brothers are supposed to torment you, not hang out with you. But for some reason, God decided I needed Joseph. And then He gave me you.

We have some great memories, don't we? We had the biggest imaginations. Who else would've pretended to be homeless kids with a pastor who owned a pizza parlor? (And why did you have a trash bag?)

How did we ever become Bill Clinton's step kids who got into the spiked punch at the inaugural ball? And I can't think of any other brothers who would willingly be Anastasia and Drizella for a 13th birthday tea party. With ball gowns and high heels to boot. Or how about the time we had a tea party for Grandma, where you inhaled your coffee (just like a boy)?

You really were the cutest kid ever. But you're not a kid anymore. You're 18 now. You're a man. And you're a good one.

I know men in your life have failed you, and you've seen so many weak men and careless men. But you are not those men.

I see your love for God, your dedication to Him. You haven't given up on God, even though life has provided more than one excuse to do so.

You're amazing with kids. They think you're cool because you're genuine. Kids have a sense for that, you know.

You're honest. You aren't afraid to tell things how they are. You give people all the details--not just the ones that make things look better than they actually are.

You are thoughtful and caring. You watch out for the family's cars, and you're considerate of people's feelings. You play Elvis just because LaVita loves it.

You are loyal to the death. We beat on each other occasionally, but I know that you would fight for me in a heartbeat. I trust you infinitely.

You are a gentleman. The world needs more guys like you. Guys who are polite to women, and appreciate girls for their brains instead of their rumps. And your manners are friendly and gracious--even when you pretend they don't exist.

You are funny. Your jokes and stunts are truly hilarious, without trying to be, which makes them funnier. I have no doubt that you could write the speech on "The Appropriation of Farting in Public Places", and no one would find it inappropriate.

 You work hard, even when no one appreciates it, or when it may all crash and burn someday. You rise to the occasion as a dependable and tireless worker.

Now I know you probably think I'm being silly, but I'm serious. I don't exactly know how to say this, but I want you to know that you're a good brother and an even better friend. Don't ever let anyone tell you differently. And I don't have any profound advice for you, but I give you David's speech to Solomon. He says everything that I mean to say:

"Now, my son, may the Lord be with you; and may you prosper, and build the house of the Lord your God, as He has said to you. Only may the Lord give you wisdom and understanding, and give you charge concerning Israel, that you may keep the law of the Lord your God. Then you will prosper, if you take care to fulfill the statutes and judgments with which the Lord charged Moses concerning Israel. Be strong and of good courage; do not fear nor be dismayed." 
1 Chron. 22:11

So, happy birthday. Go be 18.  Get out of my seat. Stop eating my chips. Don't do anything I wouldn't do. Yes, I know that leaves a lot you could do. Shut up.

I love you, babe. 

It's your birthday. I can say what I want.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

National Comic Book Day!

Today, I woke up for work and decided it was a good day to wear my Marvel shirt and my Thor bracelet. Then I got to work, read the news, and discovered that it was National Comic Book day.

What a perfectly wonderfully lovely coincidence.

So I'm sharing some of my favorite comic bookish stuff today because I couldn't resist.


[i think this makes me a licensed therapist.]

[this is why i need children. pronto. stat.]

[my whole life till now has been a lie.]

[this is why the Dark Knight trilogy disturbs me.]

[oh, you know it.]

[i can't handle the level of coolness here. someone needs to publish these books NOW.]

[rapunzel broke one, and bucky broke one. whoops.]

[i'm sorry, i just...]

[that's some genius art.]

[um, yeah. that's a medieval Hawkeye.]

[i love this to pieces.]

[you are now inspired.]

[there you go.]


[this would be the other reason i need children.]

[who could imagine sideburns would be so awesome.]

[watch the whole thing. to the very end. you will fall out of your chair, i promise.]

I leave you now to go listen to audio clips of James Spader threatening human extinction as Ultron.

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Tolkien Blog Party of Special Magnificence
Hamlette is hosting a Tolkien party! 

1.  Who introduced you to Tolkien's stories?

Okay, so I jumped the gun, and wrote half a post about this yesterday. My first best friend, Elizabeth, introduced me to Tolkien about 11 years ago.

[see? I am best friends with the Lady of Light. ;-) ]

2.  How old were you when you first ventured into Middle Earth?

I think I was about 13. 

3.  Did you read the books first, or see movie versions first?

Movies first. My brothers and I were spoiled, because we had friends who owned the extended versions, so we watched those several times before settling for the theatrical cuts. Then a small riot ensued because, of course, HOW could you leave out the lembas scene?!?

4.  A dragon or a balrog -- which would you rather fight?

Hah! Neither. I agree with Bilbo that people should just stay in their holes. If I had to choose, I'd go with a dragon. Having just finished Silmarillion, balrogs scare the ever-living snot out of me.

 [nopenopenope. SO. MUCH. NOPE.]

5.  Who are three of your favorite characters?  (Feel free to elaborate on why.)

Eowyn: I feel bad for her, and she reminds me of myself a little bit. The poor thing is so sad most of the story.
She's so strong, and she's a good leader, and she's beautiful, and brave, and noble, and she took down the Witch-King...but she pines because she can't go to battle.

Faramir: because he's gentle and humble. Not a weak, limp kind of gentle, but a strong, able-bodied man with a gentle spirit. (kind of like my main man Thor; no, seriously, he can be gentle.) Miss Jane explains it much better than I can.

Huan: No, don't laugh. I loved him. He's the hound of the Valinor, and he helps Berien and Luthien retrieve one Silmaril. I promise, the next dog I get will be a medium-sized male, and he will be named Huan.

 [I asked this question to some of my coworkers, just for kicks, and Jeff said Gomer Pyle. Jeff is disqualified from this conversation.]

6.  Have you ever dressed up like a Tolkien character?

Nope. I have a flowery headband that I wear across my head if I'm at home and I start to feel Eowyn-ish. And then--wow, this is embarrassing--I used to have a long, pale-green silk nightgown that I referred to as my Arwen dress. AANNDD that's where we'll end that.

7.  If someone asks you to go on adventure, how do you respond?

What day are you going? Because I have to ask off work.

8.  Have you read any of the "history of Middle Earth" books?

I tried. I tried to be clever and start with book 3, The Lays of Beleriand. I made it through about 4 poems and gave up. I was more lost than geese in a hailstorm.

9.  Would you rather drink a bowl of Ent Draught or a glass of Old Winyards?

Entdraught. It sounds wonderful.

10.  List up to ten of your favorite lines/quotes from the books or movies.

'And Eowyn looked at Faramir long and steadily; and Faramir said: "Do not scorn pity that is the gift of a gentle heart, Eowyn! But I do not offer you my pity. For you are a lady high and valiant and have yourself won renown that shall not be forgotten; and you are a lady beautiful, I deem, beyond even the words of the Elven-tongue to tell. And I love you. Once I pitied your sorrow. But now, were you sorrowless, without fear or any lack, were you the blissful Queen of Gondor, still I would love you. Eowyn, do you not love me?" '
[excuse me while I pick my puddled self up off the floor]

' "You thought I remained in Meduseld bent like an old tree under winter snow. So it was when you rode to war. But a west wind has shaken the boughs," said Theoden.'
[the first time I read this, I got chill bumps down my spine, and had to read it again.]

[c'mon, Legolas, you know you're beat.] 

"A sister they had, Galadriel, most beautiful of all the house of Finwe; her hair was lit with gold as though it had caught in a mesh the radiance of Laurelin."
 [hello, yes, boys? I am blonde, and this is an acceptable pickup line.]

[sorrynotsorry. I couldn't resist.]

I think I'll go back to crying over my LOTR board now. 
It's therapy, people, therapy, I tell you.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Into the West: What Tolkien Means to Me

When I was 13, I met this girl. Her name was Elizabeth. At first, I thought she was a stuck-up prig who would rather chase her siblings around like a proper big sister than talk with strangers. (No, I’ve never been that great at making new friends.)

Well, in a year, we were having heart-to-heart chats in her bedroom at 3 a.m., so obviously, we worked it out. She became the closest thing that I had, up until that time, for a sister. That’s a story for another day, though. Some nights we discussed troubles in our life, or our dreams for the future, or funny stuff we’d discovered recently. But a whole lot of the time, we discussed Tolkien.

Elizabeth, or “Eruwaedhiel,” which could be more appropriate for this post, is the sole reason I know what Ents are or that there are different types of Orcs.

I love The Lord of the Rings. And anything Middle-Earth related.

I will admit upfront that, yes, I have seen the movies more than I have read the books. But I am not so weak. I have read The Hobbit, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. I thought I would read The Histories of Middle-Earth, but got stuck because I tried to start with The Lays of Beleriand. I gave up on that, and read The Silmarillion instead. Now I'm struggling to resist the urge to proclaim that book's wonders to random members of the general public. I also work a full-time job, and have a lot of interests, and, well, I’m busy.

But I digress. Tolkiendil holds a special place in my heart because it was my original fandom. Which is hilarious, considering that 9 years ago, I thought Merry was a girl. (Hey, no one ever showed me the spelling!) And once Elizabeth converted me, it only took about a year to win over my younger brothers. They were a tad hard to convince, but Helm’s Deep finished them off, and they are now dedicated fans, too.

I also have Tolkien to thank for these:

1. I can politely insult people. 

Hey, if you smile through a “nostach be Orch gaer”, people’ll never guess you just degraded them lower than a pig. I also find that “labo vi Orodruin” makes me feel just as good as “shove off.”

2. I have learned the proper reaction to Gregorian chant. 


Look: I apologize if you love that style of music, but 99% of them make me want to rub my eyeballs with habañeros.  I have heard a couple of chants that sound ethereally beautiful, but most of them remind me of funeral dirges. 


Alright, so this is strictly from the movie. But, I say, something about knowing how twisted Denethor’s mind was, and the camera zooming in on him popping cherry tomatoes and ripping chicken meat off the bone really just messed with my mind. Hearing Pippin sing his terribly sad song in the background only made it worse.

4. Éowyn. Simply Éowyn.

I love her. And I didn't realize I loved her until I finished The Return of the King. Every time I watched the short scene between her and Faramir, I wondered what the story was behind that look. Now I know. Their love story had me in tears, and I finally saw how strong Éowyn was. And she wasn't afraid to change, once Faramir helped her realize that she was wasting her time pining for battle.  

5. Some days, it is perfectly okay to put on a cowboy hat, grab a spatula, and run outside yelling “FORTH, ÉORLINGAS!”

Okay, so maybe I didn’t actually do this. But, come on, I mean, Howard Shore’s scores are seriously motivating. The hat and spatula just happened to be sitting there. I was tempted, until I remembered that we have neighbors.

6. As I just said, the music, people, the music

I can’t think of very many other movies’ music that conveys so much emotion, and I always find myself relating those emotions to parts of my life. I am not joking when I say that I come close to tears whenever I hear the Shire theme. Frodo and Sam basically went to hell, and then finally came back home in one piece. And then, they had to help the people they loved put their beloved Shire back together. That’s a myriad of emotions right there, and, somehow, Howard Shore managed to convey that in a short arrangement of notes.  Then there’s “Into the West”. I don't think we should talk about the amount of tears that evokes. This version right here is the best rendition of all time of this song.

 7. Just the amount of time Tolkien has been in my life. 

My only regret is that I never read the books sooner. We’d be here all week if I tried to count how many times Elizabeth and her sisters and I watched the scene with Legolas swinging majestically onto a horse. And not only was my first best friend a LOTR fan, but my second best friend was also a fan. And her parents, and all four of her siblings. Add in my two brothers who are convinced Aragorn and Éomer were inspired by themselves, and, well…Middle-Earth is a large part of my life, and the people I love. 

EDIT to add: my mom's story. Her only experience with Tolkien is she "watched some animated movie in the 70s, and the only she could remember after 40 years was" EXTINGUISH MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [we happily helped trigger her memory. :D ]

I love Tolkien. What else can I say?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Drink Up Me Hearties, Yo Ho!

Hamlette is doing a Piratical Blogathon today for Internation Talk Like a Pirate Day!
I've enjoyed reading everyone else's posts, but I don't watch a lot of pirate movies, so I have no reviews to contribute. However, I love the music from the Pirates of the Caribbean series, so I wanted to share my favorite artist's AMAZING medley of the series' themes.
This is pure a cappella, nothing but voices, and the video is all fun. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

To the Anti-Tolkien Redhead Across From Me

We sit down to the lunch table at work.
We acknowledge each other briefly.
You watch me ask your neighbor if she has read The Silmarillion.
When she shakes her head no, you jump in with your completely unsolicited opinion.

To paraphrase: "I don't like Tolkien. He's just WEIRD. I like Lewis, because he has SUCH a good ideology. Tolkien had a weird ideology. His writing is so dark and depressing. Not like Lewis'."

I'm not quick-witted, so I outwardly ignored your comments. Besides, I had lunch to eat, books to shop for, and work to do, all of which was a better use of my time than bantering with a narrow-minded twit.

But I still have a few things I'd like to say to you.

To begin with, let's compare these two authors. Tolkien may require deeper study, but Lewis is no less meaningful than Tolkien.

Consider their audiences. To whom was The Chronicles of Narnia written? Children, for the most part. To whom did Tolkien write? Well, perhaps it was intellectuals, because I just recently read that Tolkien was surprised at his books' popularity, because he didn't think people would understand them.

So of course Tolkien will seem more dark, more depressing. Lewis didn't necessarily sugar-coat Narnia's evils, but they could've been portrayed in a much scarier way. But then it doesn't take much to convince children that evil is evil. 

Tolkien's evils, on the other hand, are deep-seated, purely bad, and utterly terrifying. Most of his villains come straight from the pits of hell.

But, knowing you as well as I do, I'm going to assume you haven't even read Tolkien, so allow me to explain it a bit.

The Silmarillion is beautiful fable of a world's beginning, bearing subtle influences of our own Creation story.
The Hobbit is the tale of a wearying journey to reclaim a homeland, a treasure, and a heritage; it mirrors some of our own life struggles.
The Lord of the Rings is a gritty, emotional picture of life, which often causes more tears than laughter, more loss than gain. This can especially be a picture of a Christian's lifelong battle with our Enemy.

I would think that all this would be enough to pique your interest, but, again, I didn't say anything, so you kept rambling. 

Then--then you were impudent enough to say that Persuasion is your favorite classic.

How can you infer to love the themes in an Austen and concurrently dismiss those same themes in Tolkien?

Anne never stopped loving Wentworth, even when she thought he would never return it.

Samwise Gamgee is the sole reason the Ring ever made it to Mount Doom. Every time Frodo was completely overwhelmed, Sam was right there to push him forward, or--literally--carry him forward.

Utter heartbreak: 
Anne loved Wentworth like no other, and had to give him up without any hope of getting him back. Then, when she had a sliver of hope, it was dashed, and she had to watch other girls fawn over him.

People die in Tolkien's books. Good reigns supreme in the end, but only at a steep cost. Saruman ruined so much of the Shire, and several hobbits gave their lives to take it back. Boromir, the hope of his people and the idol of his younger brother, died defending the Ringbearer. The Battle of Pelennor Fields was successful, but not before the death of Theoden King, one of the most valiant and noble leaders of his people. Gandalf sacrificed himself to protect the rest of the Fellowship without any hope of surviving. Thorin lived his whole life to reclaim his people's treasure and his family's heritage, only to die in the very battle that secured his goal. And we won't even try to count the number of people who die fighting over the Silmarils, most of all the Battle of Unnumbered Tears, all of which could've been avoided if Feanor hadn't been so selfish to begin with.

Being too easily persuaded: 
Anne let others convince her that marrying Wentworth at 19 was a bad idea. Granted, she didn't have a lot of say at her age, but she still had some choice.

Denethor II believed he was strong enough to look into the palantir, but he wasn't, and nearly caused the complete ruin of Gondor in the process.

Loving even when it isn't returned: 
This sort of ties into faithfulness. Anne could've given up on Wentworth, but she knew he was the one for her, and never quit loving him, even when it looked like he was interested in Louisa.

Faramir fell in love with Eowyn, and waited patiently for her to see this. Even though she didn't love him at first, his gentleness in helping her get past her infatuation with battles and with Aragorn won her over in the end.

Avoiding bitterness over family's mistreatment: 
Anne was the most sensible, level-headed member of her family, yet everyone treated her like she was stupid and knew nothing. She wisely didn't let their attitudes get to her and she kept on helping out like she had always done.

Faramir had a weighty reason to be bitter about life. Sure, his big brother loved and appreciated him, but Daddy Denethor barely gave the boy the time of day, and basically wrote him off as a worthless son. Faramir never let that affect his motivation and he chose to work just as hard on his strengths.

Treating every person with the same dignity and respect: 
Part of Anne's wisdom was that she treated everyone the same. Elizabeth and Sir Walter made sure they only associated with wealthy, important people, and Mary's attention deficit kept her chasing after the people who made her look good and had money. Anne, though, talked to anyone and helped anyone she could. Money made no difference to her, as we see in her attentions to Mrs. Smith.

Every person, no matter the height or bloodline, is important in Tolkien. The Lonely Mountain and its treasure was won only by the teamwork of the Eagles, 1 hobbit, dwarves, men, and elves. The Fellowship is purposely diverse: 4 hobbits, 1 dwarf, 1 elf, 1 Gondorian, 1 Numenorean, and 1 wizard. Every member of the Nine plays an equally important part. 

Always do your best no matter the criticism: 
Almost everybody ignored Anne, and plenty of people criticized her. But she still worked and helped out as much as she could in spite of that. She never hesitated to step in behind the scenes even though no one would notice.

I think every person in Middle-Earth that knew about the Ring's journey thought it was a lost cause. But every one of the Nine kept plodding along till the job was done. Even though it might have looked foolish to others, Aragorn led the charge on Mordor's gates because he believed it would give Frodo and Sam a fighting chance. And the hobbits probably were the most surprising. Merry and Pippin convinced the Ents to destroy Orthanc, Merry helped defeat the Witch-King, Frodo carried the Ring to Mordor, and Sam carried Frodo to Mordor! Then, to top it off, they came back and cleaned house on Saruman and his thugs.

 That's 7 common themes right there. I could go on, but you know what? It doesn't really matter. You don't read my blog, and I refuse to start an argument by making this visible to you on Facebook. Furthermore, I know I can't convince you. Of anything, actually, for that matter.

You would still ask me why anyone would read Tolkien, and this is all I can say to you. Because art imitates life, and the art of writing fiction is a way of grappling with life's often answerless questions. We read fantasy to temporarily escape reality. By reading about the conquests of our beloved heroes, we find the strength to reclaim our own stolen treasures; slay our own usurping dragons; and defeat the enemy threatening to overwhelm our own worlds. 

And until you grow some speck of imagination, I don't suppose you will ever understand that.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

20 Things You Might Not Know About Me

I was kind of sort of tagged in this one by Hamlette, again. :-)

Question 1: How tall are you?  5'7"

Question 2: Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what? I don’t really have any hidden talents. I didn’t know I could write, but when I started blogging, I got a lot of nice feedback, so I guess my writing was hidden?

Question 3: What’s your biggest blog-related pet peeve?  Ads. Confounded ads loading all over the page, slowing down my Internet, and popping up when I’m trying to read your writing.

Question 4: What’s your biggest non-blog related pet peeve? Right now in life, people who won’t look for their own answers before asking for help.

Question 5: What’s your favorite song?   I have several. Right now, one of my favorites that I find myself singing a lot is “Somewhere”, from West Side Story. When I get sad and down in the dumps, I sing it to feel better.

Oh, and then there's "Save the Last Dance for Me." I don't care what time of day it is, or how many days' worth of dishes I'm washing, or what homework is due, I will get up and dance to this song if it comes through Pandora.

Question 6: What’s your favorite Etsy shop that isn’t yours?   Uhm…I’ve never bought anything from Etsy.

Question 7: What’s your favorite way to spend your free time when you’re alone?   I usually go to the computer. But when I get bored of that, I like to read and/or work on a yarn project.

Question 8: What’s your favorite junk food?   Either cheesy puffs or Twix. Although, I experienced a deep-fried dill pickle last weekend, and my life has basically been forever changed.

Question 9: Do you have a pet or pets? If so, what kind and what are their names?  

*mumbles* are we allowed to opt out of a question if it makes us cry? If you asked this question in June, I would say I own 1 red purebred Pomeranian named Makita. Ask me now, I’m gonna say I had a fluffy, smiling three-footed baby named Makita Elizabeth, who had a blonde brain and the biggest heart you’ll ever see, who chased tennis balls and UPS trucks, loved carrots and hated green beans, and was half of my heart for 10 years. But she got lost, and I haven’t had a puppy kiss in 3 months. Stay a moment while I go bawl into my pillow.
 [She really is a Pom, but I cut her hair. ;-)]

Question 10: What are your number one favorite nonfiction and fiction books?   Well, we’ve been through this before. The Bible trumps everything because it is everything. But for anything else, #1 Fiction is An Old-Fashioned Girl (Alcott) and #1 Non-fiction is Angels Ride Shotgun (missionary autobiography by Ruth MacKinney)

Question 11: What’s your favorite beauty product?   *snort* Beauty products don’t exactly exist in my house. I used a red wax crayon for lipstick one time, but, other than that, well, I’m currently in love with the Mango Tango lip gloss from Bath & Body Works.

Question 12: When were you last embarrassed? What happened?   My mouth usually embarrasses me. Should I tell this or not… Okay, this may be slightly inappropriate, but I never meant it that way.

I have weird dreams. Not bad, but they make no sense whatsoever. Well, I’ve dreamed about this guy at work 2 different times (just stupid stuff), and the other guy was teasing me about it. He says, “Maybe your dreams are a sign.*wink* Maybe you should do what your dreams say.” Before I can catch myself, I retort, “Cody, if I did everything my dreams told me, I’d be screwed!”

I turn 4 shades of red all the way down to my toes while the rest of them fall out in the floor laughing….

Question 13: If you could only drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?   Ginger ale. Nectar of the gods, I say.

Question 14: What’s your favorite movie? Wow, um, how do I judge this…. My favorite from childhood that I adored was The Sound of Music. Julie Andrews was my idol. If we’re basing this on how many times I’ve watched a movie, that ties between Pride & Prejudice (2005) and Napoleon Dynamite.

Question 15: What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?   Well, I was homeschooled K-12, I was the only girl, and the only one in my grade. I was a nerd, and I was the dramatic one.

Question 16: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live? London. I want to live in British society, mostly because I want to wear a fascinator. Like this beaut. I would SERIOUSLY wear this in public.

Question 17: PC or Mac?  What is this Mac you speak of?

Question 18: Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?   Well, last night, I hugged the door of my man, Ken More, and he handed me the milk. It was a tender moment.

Question 19: Favorite celebrity?  I guess it would be Drew Barrymore. I have only seen her in Ever After, but I’ve had at least a dozen people tell me I look like her, so I follow her life. She is a little kooky, but sweet nonetheless.

Question 20: What blogger do you secretly want be best friends with? Well, Hamlette, of course, because she is a great writer and she also loves Thor. Then there’s Peregrin, who is also an amazing writer, and her faith-fangirling inspires me to be as passionate about my own faith.