Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Movie Review: The Quiet Man



    It is the 1920s, and retired boxer Sean Thornton has returned to his childhood home of Inisfree, sporting a Pittsburgh accent and a calmer demeanor than the Irish usually have. He immediately causes a ruckus when he buys his family’s old farm, raising the ire of local squire Will Danaher. And, complicating matters, Thornton has just gotten a glimpse of Danaher’s feisty sister Mary Kate. When he finds out that American courting isn’t going to cut it, he has to learn the ways of the Irish to win Mary Kate and frustrate Danaher’s stubbornness.

     This has been called the quintessential Irish film, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a pleasant little story about Irish country customs with some beautiful views of Mayo and Galway, the places where they filmed. It’s an idealized place, with the Catholics and local Anglican minister getting along swimmingly, and the IRA living there doing nothing more than drinking too much and trolling the squire.

     The opening scene pretty much sets up the rest of the film: Thornton arrives, and about five locals get into an argument about which way he should go to Inisfree, ending in him walking off and driving away, leaving them stunned.

     Our first view of Mary Kate shows the other side of Ireland-pastoral beauty. She is herding sheep through a field and it’s enough to nearly knock Thornton on his back. (She is played by the lovely Maureen O’Hara, after all.) The film also did a good job of showing cultural differences in a very funny manner. Your only dates are riding along in a wagon, driven by the fairly drunk “matchmaker” of the town who shouts at you if you get too close to one another, and you still have to literally have permission to marry.

Although plying said matchmaker with more whiskey seems to help things go smoothly.


     The bigger part of the drama comes after the match has been made. Once Danaher realizes he has been tricked into allowing the marriage, he tries to hold back Mary Kate’s possessions and her dowry, leading her to feeling the marriage is unequal. Thornton, steeped in American thought, is mystified by this, and when he refuses to fight Danaher (he retired from boxing after accidentally killing an opponent), Mary Kate decides they aren’t really married. The story takes a bit of a downturn after this (although the scene with line “positively Homeric” is probably the funniest part).

     The best part, and probably the reason most people call this the quintessential Irish film, is the Really Big Fight At The End. The huge fight (called a “donnybrook”-that wacky Irish slang, amirite?) takes up a good chunk of the movie, and pretty much characterizes everyone’s view of the Irish: gleefully fighting just because they like to.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!



     

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Erica Writes Poetry: Haikus!

We looked at traditional and modern haikus. Then Dale tried to write a haiku but it turned into about five or six lines of poetry. It was a really long moment to capture.

Japanese haiku:

The curtains open
     Illuminating the room
          Corner in shadow


Modern haiku:

Child again
    Grandfather tosses me up
        I awake

Monday, April 27, 2015

Links and Babbling

     Every now and then, I see something Cool on The Internet. Instead of making a blog post every time this happens, I like to collect them and throw them at you all at once.

     So, what's the big news?

     Well, Evan, the genius behind the StanFrederick series, has started a new Slender series, and so far it has been just as compelling as the last one. The whole plot? The sun went down, and has not come back up. Apparently Slendy can now affect the universe as a whole, which may be completely terrifying. The series just started, so get to watching now.




     On this note, the THAC boys have started teasing their new series. We knew the series would take place within the same universe as Marble Hornets, but now it appears that someone is starting to investigate the events. Bits and pieces of Alex's old website are being uncovered. (Ironically, the website everyone thought was a gamejack at the beginning. Talk about trolling your audience.) We also have codes, lots and lots of codes, because of course we do. So, will D. Scott discover the truth behind the Marble Hornets project? Will we get to see the movie in all its pretentious glory? Will the Operator appear, or has he moved to Hollywood permanently? THE WORLD MAY NEVER KNOW.



     Over here, we got the pastor facial hair map, which describes how your facial hair should look depending on your denomination. It's as ridiculous as it sounds.



     On Ancient Faith Radio, one podcast ponders ye olde religion vs. science debate, and how it doesn't really have to be a debate. I haven't listened to the second part, but it's an interesting look at this particular controversy.



     Finally, Bach on boomwhackers. You're welcome.


Friday, April 24, 2015

Erica Writes Poetry: SHOES

Shoes

My shoes have holes in them
I step off my porch onto the wet stone
Hoping the tread will hold up as I tiptoe carefully
Delicate as a ballerina
Down the makeshift path
The soles slap out a wet rhythm in the melted snow
My feet brisk, finding the driest spots
Sometimes I stretch my legs wide
Vaulting over puddles, balancing on one foot, then setting it back down
Another quiet splash, and I’m on my way
It can’t be like this forever
The water stretches across the sidewalk, hemmed on both sides by snow
I look back, and wonder how far
I will have to go to get around the obstacle
Then I take a deep breath
Set one old shoe into the snow and wince
As the icy water touches my sock
Take another step, this time the snow is to my ankle
My feet are no longer warm
No longer dry
But I am on the other side

Thursday, April 23, 2015

NuWho Reviews: The Unquiet Dead, Aliens of London, and World War Three

NuWho: Series 1, Part 2

     So here we are, continuing our journey with Christopher Eccleston and his ears. When last we left our heroes, Rose was enjoying an Earth that had not been consumed by the sun. But it’s time to leave modern times and go into the Victorian Era, which I’m pretty sure is the Doctor’s favorite Earth era ever.

The Unquiet Dead

     The Doctor still cannot properly pilot his own spaceship. Instead of arriving in Naples, they wind up in Cardiff, most likely near the BBC quarry. See, the zombie apocalypse is happening.

     No, really. Zombie apocalypse. Dead people are getting taken over by a blue vapor and start wandering around. One wanders into Charles Dickens’ reading of A Christmas Carol. Hijinks ensue, Rose is kidnapped because she decided to see why someone was carting the previously vapor’d dead woman away, and the Doctor pursues with Dickens. (He also fanboys over Dickens, and it is adorable.)

"Can...can I touch you?"


     They find Rose at a funeral parlor manned by a clairvoyant maid and populated with a couple zombies. The Doctor decides a séance is in order, and everything goes…surprisingly smoothly. There’s a spacetime rift in Cardiff, and some aliens who were displaced from their homeworld and bodies thanks to the Time War. Can they have some new bodies, and a place to chill? Rose is a bit freaked out by it, but the Doctor is fine with it because guilt. So everything seems to be going smoothly, it looks like we’ll all go home happy if a little freaked out by zombi—

     Oh, come on, you want to take over the entire world too? What is with these aliens? They can’t just be like “ohai humans, we can haz apartment?” No, they want the whole world. It’s a big place! With lots of beaches! We can all share! Overpopulation be damned, you’re aliens, you have technologies.

You're probably Force Ghosts too, which makes it even more ridiculous!


     So this was a fun episode, and a bit creepy as well. It was interesting to see them continue to use the idea of clairvoyance and telepathy (I think at this point it had been established that all humans are passively telepathic in the Doctor Who universe. But don’t quote me on that.) I was a bit disappointed with the Gelth, as there seemed to be no particular reason they would want to TAKE OVER THE WORLD.

     We also get a few more arc points. This shows us the continued devastation from the Time War, and Gwyneth sees something about the Bad Wolf in Rose’s mind, which indicates it will center around her. (Or, rather, in her.) It also started the joke about Cardiff being so important because of the Rift (when in reality it’s because that’s where they film the show).


Aliens of London

     The Doctor and Rose arrive back in London after their previous adventures.

     Only...it’s not been twelve hours.

     It’s been twelve months.

     In a shocking dose of reality, Rose’s mother has been in agony, Mickey has been interrogated time and again because they thought he kidnapped Rose, and the Doctor discovers the more common connotation of the phrase “companion” when everyone gives him the side eye.

     But enough of that, because a spaceship crashes into Big Ben, and appears to have been piloted by genetically modified pigs. 

*Insert Amnesia/House on the Borderlands reference here*


     Also the spaceship was actually launched from Earth, and Harriet Jones, MP for Flydale North, would like to talk about cottage hospitals. She sneaks into a meeting, only to discover that the acting PM is in fact an alien. In a human suit. Yep, unzips at the forehead and everything. Only downside is that they have to compress their forms, which causes fart jokes to ensue. Meanwhile, Jackie calls UNIT on the Doctor, who promptly make him work for them again.

     Aaaand that’s the top alien experts of the world all gathered in one place. This can’t end badly, right?

     So I enjoyed this first half of the two parter. It actually showed the consequences of faffing around the universe without telling anyone. It also gave us a very, very weird beginning and some very weird aliens. And also Harriet Jones, who is completely awesome.

"Look at all the f***s I give!"



World War Three

     When we last left our heroes, they had all been killed by electricity. Except the Doctor, he gets to live. Mickey had discovered an impostor policeman trying to kill Jackie, and it turns out the aliens really just want to raid Earth to sell crap. Well, it’s…original. They’re also kind of crazy, because hunting people is a thing they do for amusement.

Marco!


     So, the Doctor’s plan? Seal them all in a room together, then use Rose’s super-magic-timey-phone to call Mickey and walk him through how to hack into UNIT, which is probably the silliest hacking job ever. By hacking into UNIT, he can launch a naval missile at 10 Downing Street, which is probably what a lot of people have wanted to do for a long time. And in their sealed room, they can apparently withstand said missile.

     The day is saved, Harriet Jones, MP for Flydale North takes charge and the Doctor recognizes her as a future PM, and Mickey is still feeling very “nope” about very dangerous adventures in the space-time continuum. So it’s off for more adventures! With the Doctor promising to get Rose back by dinner time now.

I know, Doctor, mums spoil all the fun.


     It was a fun little ride. A bit convoluted, but fairly lighthearted in comparison to the last two episodes.


     Next up, AN EPISODE THAT MADE ME FEEL A LOT OF FEELS.

     

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Book Review: Redwall

     Sometimes, you just need a sanity book. A book that doesn’t require you to think through tough concepts, a book that doesn’t leave you depressed or confused at the end, a book that maintains a lighthearted tone without being foolish. That is Redwall.



     It is summer, and peaceful Redwall Abbey is preparing for a celebration while the clumsy novice Matthias daydreams about older times when warriors defended the land. He’s young, he’s bored, and he wants to fight something, which pretty much describes every teenage boy ever. Unfortunately, his wish is about to come true.

     Y’see, CLUNY THE SCOURGE is on his way with his band of Vikings rats. (I use all-caps because I imagine CLUNY THE SCOURGE being voiced by BRIAN BLESSED.) CLUNY THE SCOURGE wants to conquer ALL OF THE THINGS, and when he stumbles across the well-fortified abbey with its abundant gardens, he finds he wants to conquer that as well.

     What follows next is a surprisingly accurate portrayal of siege warfare in a children’s book about talking animals. As CLUNY THE SCOURGE tries different ways to get in, he continually gets outwitted. Having nightmares about being pursued by Martin the Warrior probably doesn’t help with his sanity. Between that and a snake with the painfully obvious name of Asmodeus going around eating the villains to help out the plot, it appears that CLUNY THE SCOURGE is going to have a difficult time of it.

     Meanwhile, Matthias begins to find out he has a DESTINY. Despite being clumsy he is a good hand with a sword, and also he needs to find Martin the Warrior’s sword, which has been stolen by a Caligula-sparrow. (Seriously. Off his rocker.) With the help of a variety of wacky friends, he sets out on a quest while the Abbey is defended by a ragtag band of misfits.

     Okay, I’m starting to reference TV Tropes like crazy, and that’s because this is a very simplistic hero’s quest that just happens to be astonishingly violent. (Seriously, animals get crushed, stabbed, poisoned, burnt, and tortured. IT’S FOR CHILDREN.) The hero’s home is threatened; the hero discovers his destiny; the hero pursues his destiny into a symbolic entrance into the afterlife. (And Matthias’ experience in Asmodeus’ lair is only slightly less symbolic than Aslan’s death and resurrection.) And, while the tale itself was simple, I do wish the language did not sound so simplistic. In many places it sounded like a story written for very small children just learning to read.

     I was also confused by the Matthias-Martin connection. Okay, I get that Martin probably foresaw a warrior, but apparently there’s also a physical resemblance, so is Matthias a descendant, or is there some weird reincarnation-y thing going on? It will probably be explained in further books (probably).

     All that said, it was a ripping good yarn. The trend in books is to make the conflict very much gray vs. grey (there I go, troping again): both sides do very bad things, and it’s hard to know which person is really right. While this is often the way real life works, sometimes it’s pleasant to have one side you can completely root for, because sometimes the world works that way as well. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Erica Writes Poetry: Found Poetry

Our latest assignment was to write a poem by taking bits of other things we've read. After reading of the martyrdom of the 30 Christians yesterday, I felt very strongly that I should write this poem. Most of it is taken from a Daily Mail article about the deaths and quotes from St. Nikolai Velimirovic.

Lament for the Martyrs

I repent for all the slayers of men
Sixteen in a desert, twelve on a beach
Preparing to die for the one who died for them
Lord have mercy
Forgive them, for they know not what they do
Thirty beheaded and shot, and twenty one in February
Ancient wars spurring them to atrocity
Lord have mercy
No religion orders the killing of other people
But it is often the excuse
They do not know that there are not two lives in the universe, but one
Not two men in the universe
But one

Lord have mercy


Monday, April 20, 2015

Erica Writes Poetry: I hate winter, metaphorically and literally

I wrote this back when it was cold. And the wasps were dead...


The Midwinter Siege

The warning came two days ago, a messenger from the next city
The invader was on its way
We mended parts of the wall that had fallen in with bits of stone and insulation
Stockpiled firewood
Made ready our warmest armor
Then the invader arrived
The first wave was tentative, a test of our will, all bluster and no bite
We fought back hard, and the walls stood
That night the king feasted us in the bright hall.
The second wave took us aback
The walls chipped, the windows of the castle rattled
Our armor was not so useful now
But still we fought, padding ourselves out, smiling despite it all
Then, the invader changed tactics
Snuck in while we slept
The stone and insulation holding up the walls failed
The tapestries torn down
The fire in the hall went out, and all the wood
Exposed and soaked through
The invader lives here now, a constant in our lives
They say it will leave soon, and then all will be well once more
The messenger from the next city sent a second warning
Another invader is on its way

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Quick Lit April 2015: More History and Some Bunnies

I only have two books this month, which is good because I don't want another brain meltdown.



1.

     So far I've only gotten a couple chapters in, thanks to the reading I have to do for my actual history class. It's been an enjoyable couple of chapters, though. Martin has given a good overview of what little we know about prehistoric Greece and the cultural background of the Mycenaeans. It's a shame we don't have more information. Most interesting is that the people of prehistoric Greece were already developing that proud warrior culture that the Mycenaeans were known for.



2. 

    
    This was the book recommended to me on the Modern Mrs. Darcy book matchmaking. And oh boy, is it a good recommendation. I've had trouble putting it down. Adams makes his characters so real, and his description of the English countryside is beautiful. I think what I like most is that, even though it's a "children's" book, he doesn't talk down to the reader. Also, I'm about halfway through and I still have no idea where this is going to end up. That's refreshing.


     I'll be linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy, as usual, and you can check out other book recommendations there.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Centurions Talk About Their Day

Lack of sleep gives me really strange ideas.

It turns out, being a centurion came with some really weird hazards.







Saturday, April 11, 2015

Video Saturday: George R.R. Martin has a Blank Page!


Sure, it seemed like a good career move for Danaerys, right up until she discovered that Martin is psychotic.

don't talk to me about jon that last scene never happened, understand, NEVER HAPPENED

Friday, April 10, 2015

So I've been reading the Chronicles of the Fourth Crusades...

Villehardouin really wants you to know how awesome the Doge is.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Erica Writes Poetry: Let's sing a ballad!

This seems like an appropriate day for posting my little ballad...

besides everyone knows the war never ended in the South, that's why we're all crazy there


The Ballad of Hanging Rock

There was a battle at Hanging Rock
Down in old Virginia
Yankees and Rebels together fought
Way down in old Virginia

Hunter was running for the west
Down in old Virginia
But Jubal Early gave him no rest
Way down in old Virginia

The battle was long and the battle was fierce
Down in old Virginia
Hunter’s men were sorely pierced
Way down in old Virginia

They fled across the Appalachians
Down in old Virginia
They fled the rock in great chagrin
Way down in old Virginia

They tried to burn the county courthouse
Down in old Virginia
But Hunter made them move on out
Way down in old Virginia

Potts’ Mountain would prove fatal
Down in old Virginia
Seven hundred horses fell like cattle
Way down in old Virginia

We still remember Hunter’s Raid
Down in old Virginia
As we relax in the courthouse shade
Way down in old Virginia

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Erica Writes Poetry: Getting Iambic Up In Here

The Walk

I walked along the field at night

The silence touched my icy arms

Like fingers with no warmth or source

Grass slid against my jeans, dew soaked

Stars glimmered, cold and far away

But I didn't want to go home

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Womenfolk can't know how to football

You know, sexism doesn't actually exist. Girls just take things way out of context. In fact, most men are happy to be nice to girls, as long as they are pretty women and go on dates with them whenever they ask. Sexism does not exist.

I mean, take this chick who just got hired as the first female NFL ref. Sarah Thomas. Sure, she's officiated football before, but people are worried you guys. They're not mad that a girl is doing man things, they're just worried for her. So worried. They don't want her to get herself hurt. It's not safe out there for a little woman, you know? I mean, there's a lot of big scary manly men out there on the field. What if the NFL is just doing this for publicity? Is she really even qualified?


Fricking periods, how do they work?


Why can't the ladies just leave the men to their menning?


But these men are extra manly. Don't you see how super manly they are? They're, like, Conan, or something. She's gonna get Crom's attention doing this, and you all know that's a bad idea.


Lol. Sexism. Not even a real thing.


Inb4 five million people insist I'm just being a silly emotional woman, because that's how you win arguments. But seriously, do you want your every move questioned based on your equipment?

Friday, April 3, 2015

NuWho Reviews: Rose and The End of the World

     Well, we made it. Here we are, NuWho. Where companions are not so awkwardly dressed and the Doctor is going through an extended mid-life crisis. Also, ears.


Rose

     Rose Tyler is your average girl: devoted boyfriend, boring job at the shop, plastic mannequins coming to life and 



NONONOWHYWHYWHYWHYWHYDOYOUDOTHISTOMEWHYWHYWHYWHY

     I hate Autons.

     Luckily for Rose, a man in a leather jacket appears out of nowhere, introduces himself as the Doctor, and tells her to run. He then blows up the shop.

      Bless you, Nine.

     Naturally, this isn’t the end of it. A plastic arm has followed Rose home, and the Doctor shows up again to defeat the plastic menace. Again. Rose Googles the Doctor, and instead of realistically coming up with five thousand fan sites, she only finds actual Doctors. Until she discovers Clive the totally-not-an-obsessed-Doctor-Who-fan. She heads to his house and discovers the Doctor has been seen throughout time, while her boyfriend Mickey gets replaced by a plastic duplicate, because that’s the kind of life poor Mickey has.

     Not!Mickey doesn’t know how to human, the Doctor arrives to save Rose again, and then while he searches for the base of the Nestene Consciousness Rose points out the giant obvious London Eye in the background. The Doctor goes there to…negotiate? Turns out, he wasn’t able to save their homeworld in some big war. So he wants to help them! However, during that same big war, he did something that seriously freaked them out, even more than they freak me out. Also they’d much rather just annihilate human life instead of, you know, coexisting. (This happens a lot on Doctor Who.) Rose manages to save the day, and runs off with the Doctor…after being a jerk to poor Mickey.

     So…how does this compare? It was fun, I hate Autons, and the Ninth Doctor is awesome. They start setting up the big mystery surrounding the Doctor, but I had trouble with Rose because of how much of a jerk she was to Mickey. Seriously, if I was faced with Autons, I would cry like a little girl. Let’s see how this pans out…



The End of the World

     


     I kid. It’s not the end of the world. Well, not for us. The Doctor decides to really impress Rose by taking her to the literal end of the world. Platform One, a space station that orbits the Earth, is the site of a huge going away party for the Earth. Turns out everyone had been staving off the sun’s expansion to preserve Earth, but they finally decided it’s high time for it to go. We meet many bizarre aliens: the wise and mysterious Face of Boe (who is a literal giant face in a container), sentient tree people from the Forest of Cheem (after the Doctor gives “the gift of breath from his lungs” Jabe appears to develop a crush on him), and the Adherents of the Repeated Meme, who are not in fact contributors to the Know Your Meme website. Also in attendance is the “last pure human”, the Lady Cassandra who is a giant sheet of skin on a frame that must be constantly moisturized. She is also extremely annoying.

     It’s all a bit overwhelming for Rose, especially when they start playing “Toxic”. This is pre-50 Shades, but no doubt Rose has some sort of clairvoyance and knew what madness would be wrought with that song. But none of that matters, because the Adherents have released cybernetic spiders of death that tamper with the systems and start lowering the solar shielding-meaning everyone will be burned up A LOT.

The Doctor has strange ideas about "romantic first dates"...


     Also Lady Cassandra is behind it all, in case she wasn’t obvious enough for you.


     I think this was a better one, partly because we see Rose actually thinking about what just happened. She’s lonely and confused, and probably wondering why she ran off with a man she barely knows, and if she’ll ever get home. We also get some plot points: someone mentions “Bad Wolf” which will become super incredibly very important, and in a conversation with Jabe we discover that the Doctor is the last of the Time Lords and that Gallifrey was destroyed in that huge war. Overall, this is where we start getting a sense of setting and character. It also kicks off the arc for the next eight series.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Dragons Are Real! Dragons Are Real!

Nature magazine insists dragons are real, and name-drops Newt Scamander.

I IMMEDIATELY BELIEVE ALL OF THIS.

AND NOT JUST BECAUSE I WANT A DRAGON OR ANYTHING LOL

Dragons with Anchorman references, specifically.

There were horses, and a man on fire, and Spike killed a guy with a trident.