Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Five Male Characters Tag

Remember the Five Female Characters Tag I did earlier this month?  Olivia of Meanwhile, in Rivendell has tagged me with its counterpart :-)  So here goes!

1.) List 5 of your favorite male characters (book or screen)
2.) Tagging other people is optional
3.) If you are tagged link back to the person that tagged you
4.) Link back to Revealed In Time

Choose one from each category:

1.) Hero
2.) Villain
3.) Anti-hero
4.) Best book-to-screen adaption
5.) Best character perception change (as explained here by the tag's originator, Ivy Miranda)

Right, so here goes.  Once again, I'm very happy that this tag specifies these can be "five OF your favorite male characters" because I could choose five or ten for each of these categories. So here are the ones I feel like talking about today:

1.) Hero:  Jim Craig (Tom Burlinson) in The Man from Snowy River (1982)

The Man from Snowy River (1982) has been my favorite movie since I was 2 years old.  I've blogged about it before here and here.  The man himself, Jim Craig, has been object of my aspirations for more than 30 years.  When I watched this the last time, about a year and a half ago, I realized that I have spent my life trying to be like Jim Craig.  Honest, innocent-yet-not-naive, forthright, stubborn, determined, kind, helpful -- that's Jim Craig, and that's what I try to be.

2.) Villain:  Calverra (Eli Wallach) in The Magnificent Seven (1960)

Yeah, I have trouble with villains.  I tend to adamantly dislike them, and the idea of "favorite villain" is a hard one for me.  But I am genuinely fond of Calverra.  I wrote a whole post about him here, but to recap, I like him because he treats the business of being a bandit chieftain as just another day job. He isn't out to be Mean and Nasty and Evul. Robbing just happens to be how he makes his living and provides for the men who depend on him.

3.) Anti-hero:  Sawyer (Josh Holloway) on Lost (2004-2010).

Um, yeah.  Sawyer.  ::Sigh::  How can I explain Sawyer?  He's a con artist who grew up hating con artists.  He works hard to make people dislike him because he dislikes himself.  He tries time and again not to do the right thing because he doesn't believe he's the right kind of guy... but despite himself, over the course of six seasons, he becomes a genuinely Good Guy.  Because I tend to blog about characters I dearly love, I've got a whole post about him too, here.

4.) Best book-to-screen adaption:  Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe) and Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany) from Master and Commander:  The Far Side of the World (2003)

When I blogged about the soundtrack here on James the Movie Reviewer's blog, someone commented that my calling M&C "one of the finest book-to-film adaptations ever" made it seem like I hadn't read the book, because the plot of the movie has very little to do with the plot of Patrick O'Brian's book Master and Commander.  And that's true.  Because the movie pulls from several of the 20 books in the series, all of which I have read.  And when it comes to capturing the essence of characters, and also their mannerisms, foibles, habits, and even physicality, I have yet to see the match of these two.  And yes, I'm talking about both of them because you can't talk about Aubrey without Maturin, and vice versa.  It doesn't work.

5.) Best character perception change  (as explained here by the tag's originator, Ivy Miranda):  Bud White (Russell Crowe) in LA Confidential (1997)

I need to put a big disclaimer here before I talk about Bud.  I would not recommend LA Confidential to most of my blogging friends.  It's not a nice movie.  There's a lot of bad stuff in it:  prostitution, murder, drug use, corruption, violence, greed, lust, anger, woman-hitting, homosexuality, and rotting corpses.  It fully earns its R rating.  I don't ordinarily watch movies like it.  I don't recommend that you do, either.

However.  Bud White.  Just look at him in that picture, and maybe you can understand why the phrase "in his eyes, all the sadness of the world" comes to my mind when I think of Bud.  (Yeah, that's from Phantom of the Opera.  Everything gets mashed together in my head.  It's a fun place.)

When we first meet Bud White, we see him as a thuggish police officer, valuable only for his fists and willingness to use them on command.  He's just a big slab of unemotional muscle.  But as the story unfolds, we get to see the mind behind those muscles, the emotions he fears and tries to control.  When he unleashes his anger and pain, it is fearsome, much more so than the sight of him punching someone when his boss tells him to.  And when we get to see the clever mind behind both the muscles and the emotions, we finally see him for what he is:  an intelligent, damaged, but redeemable man.

Once again, I'm not tagging anyone because I'm supposed to be getting ready for my Hamlet read-along, which starts tomorrow.  However, if you want to do either this tag or the Five Female Characters version, have at it!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

"Conspiracy Theory" Soundtrack Review

I've got another soundtrack review up here on James' blog.  This time it's for Conspiracy Theory (1997), one of my favorite action movies.  I first saw it as a freshman in college, and bought the soundtrack the following summer.  I used to listen to a couple of my favorite tracks to psych myself up to go job-hunting, and later to boost my energy before heading off to the job I'd acquired as a Walmart cashier.  That summer and this album are insolubly linked for me as a result.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Tolkien Blog Party 2015

It's Tolkien Week again!  Which means time for my annual Tolkien Blog Party on my other blog, The Edge of the Precipice.  As usual, I'm going to answer the questions myself over here :-)

1. What draws you to Tolkien's stories? (The characters, the quests, the themes, the worlds, etc.) 

The characters, mostly.  Yes, Middle Earth is a cool place, but without the characters who people it, I wouldn't be interested in it.  I want to hang out with these imaginary people, help them, comfort them, just live my life beside theirs.  That's what brings me back to these stories over and over.  And that's probably why I'm struggling with The Silmarillion so much -- I only care about a few of the characters, and they're only in a chapter or two each.

2. What was the first Middle Earth book you read and/or movie you saw? What did you think of it?

I first read The Hobbit when I was probably 15 or 16.  I liked it kind of okay.  Truth be told, I still like it only kind of okay.  Anyway, I didn't like it enough to want to read another thousand pages of what I assumed would be more of the same, so I never read The Lord of the Rings.

At least, not until 2001, when Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring came to theaters.  After just one viewing, I was enthralled with Middle Earth, promptly bought the book and started reading, and have been a devoted fan ever since.

3. Name three of your favorite characters and tell us why you like them. 

In 2013, I talked about Boromir, Sam, and Gandalf.  In 2014, I talked about Eomer, Aragorn, and Faramir.  Who on earth can I talk about this year?

Bard, of course.  Back in April, I wrote this whole long post about him, so here I will briefly quote what I said in this other post:   I identify very strongly with Bard -- the decisions he makes, the way he interacts with people, even the words he chooses are all things I feel I would do if I were in his position.  His family is his focus; everything he does, he does to care for and protect them, and that is very much my life.

And I've always been fond of Elrond.  He's wise, he's stalwart, he's kind, he's helpful.  And, as the flashbacks in LOTR and the magnificent fight scene from TBOTFA showed, he's a crazy awesome warrior. 

Thanks to Peter Jackson's movies, I'm also terribly fond of Bilbo Baggins now.  He still kind of bores me in the books, but in the movies, he's wonderful.  I think he's got one of the greatest character arcs I've ever seen, going from a complacent homebody to a determined ambassador for doing the right thing.

4. Are there any secondary characters you think deserve more attention? 

Definitely.  Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth and Glorfindel both got shunted aside for the movies, which I find really annoying.  They're both awesome warriors and fairly important in the books, and I like imagining who should have played them.

Also, Elrond's sons Elrohir and Elladan are super cool and don't get mentioned much.  And they're not in the movies either.  I like imagining Aragorn growing up around them and being so happy when he was old and capable enough to go on real adventures with them.

5. What Middle Earth character do you relate to the most? 

Bard the Bowman, as I said above.  Movie Bard, that is -- Book Bard is woefully underdeveloped, IMHO.  I also identify greatly with Samwise Gamgee, in both book and movie.

6. If you could ask Professor Tolkien one Middle Earth-related question, what would you like to ask him?

Did you forget about Elrohir and Elladan being along when they were going down the Paths of the Dead and you kept nattering on about how Legolas was the only one who wasn't afraid, because he was an elf?  Or did they not count because they're half-elven?  Or is it a special Wood Elf thing to not be afraid of ghosts?  Or did you just plain forget about them for a couple chapters?  (Yes, that's really all one question.)

7. Are there any pieces of Middle Earth merchandise you would particularly like to own, but don't? 

Right when TBOTFA came out last year, I found an amazing replica of Bard's coat on Etsy.  It cost like $500, so obviously I didn't buy it, but yeah, I drooled.

8. What battle would you absolutely not want to be part of? 

Well, any of them, to be honest.  But particularly Helm's Deep.  It makes me feel trapped.  I guess I wouldn't mind being one of Eomer's troops that rides to the rescue, though.

9. Would you rather eat a meal at the Rivendell or Bag End? 

Rivendell.  I've got a Hobbit cookbook, and Hobbit food is extremely tasty!  But... I can make it myself.  Elvish food, on the other hand, must surely be beyond human skill, and also be more tasty than I can even imagine.

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

(Once again, I'm choosing different answers from the past two years.  The great thing about these books is that I have so many favorite lines, I won't be running out of 'new' ones any time soon!)

"Look out for me, especially at unlikely times!" -- Gandalf

The road wound away before them like a piece of string. (Fellowship of the Ring.)

"A hunted man sometimes wearies of distrust and longs for friendship." -- Aragorn

"The time of my thought is my own to spend." -- Dain

"May your beer be laid under an enchantment of surpassing excellence for seven years!" --Gandalf

"However it may prove, one must tread the path that need chooses!" -- Gandalf

In the dark at the rear, grim and silent, walked Aragorn.  (Fellowship of the Ring)

"Ah! the green smell!" he said. "It is better than much sleep. Let us run!" -- Legolas

"In the morning counsels are best, and night changes many thoughts." -- Theoden

"Need brooks no delay, yet late is better than never." -- Eomer

Please join the party if you're a Tolkien fan!  The initial post with these questions and the link-up is here, the giveaways are here, and I'll be posting games and other Tolkieny goodness all week long.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

My Autumn To-Do List

Since my summer to-do list was such a great motivator, I thought I'd try something similar for autumn.  You'll notice some of the same goals from last time, plus lots of new ones.  I'm going to do my best to finish all of these by the end of November.

~ Transfer my languishing lavender plants to the ground

~ Read 3 books about Robin Hood

~ Read 3 other books from my TBR shelves

~ Read 3 other books from the library

~ Watch the Ioan Gruffudd version of Great Expectations

~ Watch 5 other movies from my TBW shelves

~ Watch the Patrick Stewart version of North & South

~ Finish rewriting my current WIP, "The Rose-Covered Cabin," and begin editing it

~ Make mushroom soup from the recipe in An Unexpected Cookbook

~ Make Mr. Thornton Cupcakes

~ Make one more trip to the local ice cream spot before it closes for the winter

(This is what their soft-serve cones are like!)

~ Take my kids to the state park forest

~ Make leaf crafts using all the leaves we collected last year and never used

~ Finish sewing my autumnal layered skirt

~ Make jumpers for my daughters from the fabric they've chosen

I think all of that ought to keep me busy, don't you?  Do you have anything you're hoping or planning to accomplish before December?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Um... so... then there's this...

I'm writing a story for a contest.  The Five Magic Spindles contest.  A western retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story.  There, now you know.

I don't like telling people ahead of time that I'm submitting a story somewhere -- that way, if I get rejected, I don't feel publicly humiliated.  However, I'm breaking that habit, at least this time.  Lots of people who are writing an entry for this contest have submitted a short synopsis of their projects, which all got published here today, mine included.  I call it "The Rose-Covered Cabin" right now, and it's 7th from the top.

And today I went ahead and made an "inspiration board" for this story on Pinterest.  I've never done that before, but it was kinda fun!

So now you know.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

"Chocolat" Soundtrack Review Up

I've got another soundtrack review up here on J and J Productions, this time for Chocolat (2000), the delicious, quirky fable about a chocolatier and the way she liberates a village from their addiction to works-righteousness.  The music is as yummy as the movie, and I hope you enjoy it.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Upcoming Blog Events

Just a quick heads-up for everyone here about some stuff happening soon on my other blog, The Edge of the Precipice, and also on a friend's blog.  Just in case you want to join us :-)

First, in just 11 days, my annual Tolkien blog party will begin.  As usual, lots of games, giveaways, and other good stuff will be involved.  Go here to learn more.

Then, beginning October 1, I'll be hosting a read-along of my beloved Shakespeare play, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.  We'll be reading and discussing it at a nice, steady pace of one scene every 2 or 3 days.

Finally, Birdie of Lady of the Manor is hosting a watch-along of the BBC's 1998 Far from the Madding Crowd adaptation, and I'm planning to join that.  More info on that here.

Lots to look forward to this fall!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

5 Female Characters Tag

Sarah of How to Watch a Movie tagged me with this ages ago, and I've finally got time to post about it.  Thanks, Sarah!  This is a nice companion to the Ten Favorite Screen Characters Tag I did a couple months ago.  I ended up listing all men, and was thinking of doing a second list of all women, but never did.  Truth is, I tend to not pay much attention to gender when it comes to identifying with or loving a character -- it's who they are, not whether they're male or female, that interests me.  Be that as it may, I've been trying to pay more attention when I find a strong, well-rounded, compelling female character, as the world keeps telling me they're few and far between.  I'm not convinced of that, but whatever.  Here's the tag.


1. List 5 of your favorite female characters (book or screen).
2. Tagging other people is optional
3. If you are tagged link back to the person that tagged you.
4. Link back to Revealed In Time

Choose one character from each category:
1. Protagonist
2. Villain
3. Superhero
4. That I would want to be friends with
5. That I wish had better development

I'm very happy that this tag specifies these can be "five OF your favorite female characters" because I could choose five or ten for each of these categories.  So here are the ones I feel like talking about today:

1.  Protagonist:  Lucy Eleanor Moderatz (Sandra Bullock) in While You Were Sleeping (1995).

I wrote here last year about how much I identify with Lucy.  More than with any other fictional character.  She's quiet, loyal, protective, generous -- wonderful character.

2.  Villain:  Drusilla (Juliet Landau)

This is hard for me to answer, because I tend to dislike villains, and there are very few I'm actually fond of.  But I get a kick out of Dru, and I love the tenderness of her relationship with Spike, its sweetness contrasting with their ruthless ways so niftily.

3.  Superhero:  Rogue/Marie (Anna Paquin) in the X-Men movies.

Yes, I chose Rogue over Black Widow.  I've loved her longer, you see -- ever since I first saw X-Men (2000).  I already loved Wolverine from the comics, and I knew he had a habit of semi-adopting young female characters as a sort of younger sister/daughter, so I absolutely loved the movie's depiction of his relationship with Rogue.

She grounds my Wolvie, gives him someone to care about and come home to, someone to protect and even mentor a little.  She reminds him that he's human, I think.  I love her mix of honesty and tentativeness, and the way she blooms over the next few movies into a confident young woman.

4.  That I would want to be friends with:  Nora Charles (Myrna Loy) from the Thin Man movies.

I must admit I have only seen the first 3 Thin Man movies, but I'm working on seeing the rest :-)  They are delicious!  Nick (William Powell) was a working stiff, a private investigator at that, and Nora is a socialite who scandalized her family and friends by marrying "beneath her."  They are an adorable couple, always pretending to bicker but really being the best pals ever, and I would love to hang out with them.

5.  That I wish had better development:  Kate McKay (Meg Ryan) in Kate & Leopold (2001).

I have issues with this movie and its character development. I do enjoy it, because how can I not enjoy Hugh Jackman and Liev Schreiber?  But Kate bothers me.  She's whiny and selfish and unpleasant and needy.  And she doesn't change much by the end.  So I wish she could go from being all those annoying things into someone happier and nicer, but I never feel like she really does.

Okay, I am not tagging anybody in particular because it took me sooooooooooooooooo long to do this myself.  But if you want to do this tag, please do!  It's a fun one.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

"The Man from UNCLE" (2015) -- More Thoughts and a Soundtrack Review

I've now seen The Man from U.N.C.L.E. four times, and I'm hoping to go for a fifth viewing this weekend.  (Cowboy is the coolest husband ever, by the way -- he does not bat an eye at me going to the same movie over and over anymore.  I guess he's grown accustomed to my weirdness.)  This movie is just plain fun, folks.  It's like going on a vacation.  Pretty views, attractive people, cheerful music -- it's a playful, play-filled movie, and I love it.  I do.

The first two viewings, I mostly loved Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) and focused on him.  But by the third, I had gotten used to Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and decided I could trust him.  Um, yes, this was an issue for me.  Sometimes I don't trust fictional characters, especially if they don't always treat other fictional characters I love the way I think they should.  I loved Illya from the get-go -- yes, yes, I was predisposed toward him because he's played by Armie Hammer, but by the time they finished filling in his back story in a few deft sentences, I was a goner.  So I got really upset with Solo the first time I watched it, especially when he took a long time to rescue Illya at one point, and i was getting desperate.  The second time, I was more okay with him, but it took until that third viewing for me to truly like him.  But now I do, so it's all good.

And then there's Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander).  She's like a sparkler -- spitting and fizzing and lighting up everything around her.  She's just as smart and intrepid as the boys, and has no problem taking them to task if she thinks they're going off track.  She's also beautiful, and her hair is about the same color as mine, which makes me ridiculously happy.  She's not afraid to get dirty, she's willing to admit it when she's scared, and she's not afraid to be feminine.  I want her hats.  And Illya's.

I've read a criticism or two of the fact that Gaby needs to be rescued in the final act being a damsel-in-distress cliche, but I find this completely fatuous.  Solo had to rescue Illya, and Illya had to rescue Solo, so why shouldn't Gaby get her turn being rescued?  Silly people.

I wish soooo much that this movie had done better at the box office, because I crave a sequel.  But I fear it is not to be.  Which is a crying shame, because this movie works so well on so many levels and truly deserves a sequel.  It's smart, playful, funny, stylish... the leads are genuinely likable (yes, Solo too -- it's only my protectiveness of Illya that made me not like him at first), the sets and costumes are delicious, and overall... I love it.  Did I say that already?

Time to talk about the soundtrack.  I've reviewed it for James the Movie Reviewer's blog, and you can read my thoughts about it here.  While I don't love every track on the album, I do enjoy it as a whole, and there's only one track that I generally skip ("Compared to What" by Roberta Flack has a bad word in it I don't want my kids hearing).  Sam likes one song ("Circular Story") so much he asked if I could put it on his laptop so he can listen to it while he writes.  (When my first laptop got old and crotchety and wasn't supported by Microsoft anymore, we took all the internet capabilities and most of the programs off it and gave it to Sam.  He loves to write stories on it while listening to music "just like Mommy.")

I have a million other things I could say about this movie -- favorite lines, favorite moments, things that make me laugh (Solo's apron!  Illya changing his tie because Solo says it doesn't match his suit!  Gaby dancing!), plot points I find so smart and sensible... but I'm tired, and I need to post this so you know where to find my soundtrack review.

Friday, September 04, 2015

How'd I Fare with My Summer To-Do List?

Remember that Summer To-Do List I posted way back at the end of May?  I thought I'd do a follow-up post about whether or not I accomplished those goals.

~Start writing my next novel, another YA western.  Sorta check.  I did write the first page or so, but then I had to switch to a short story with a deadline.  It's also a western, and my first draft runs about 15,000 words.  I'm on the cusp of the second draft, which I expect will be more like 12,000 words.

~Go see Age of Ultron again.  Check.  Decided I liked it a whole lot, but don't love it.

(Still, it wasn't until this week that I stopped having this as my cover photo in Facebook.)

~Read 3 books about Robin Hood.  Fail.  I read two, The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle and Rowan Hood by Nancy Springer.  I also started The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley, but someone else put a hold on it at the library, so I couldn't renew it and had to return it.  I've put a hold on it again myself, so hoping it comes back to me soon.

~Read at least 6 other books from my TBR shelves.  Check!  I read Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper by SARK, The Trouble with Poetry by Billy Collins, Wanderlust Creek and Other Stories by Elisabeth Grace Foley,  In the Company of Sherlock edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger, An Unexpected Cookbook by Chris-Rachael Oseland, and Dear Enemy by Jean Webster.

~Read at least 3 other books from the library.  Check and check!  In fact, I read more than twice that many.  I read A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd, Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen, Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman, Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, The 13th Floor by Sid Fleischman, and Baby by Patricia MacLachlan.

~Have a squirt gun fight with my kids.  Check!  (It ended in a draw.)

~Have friends over for a sprinkler party.  Fail.  (Logistics were too tricky.)

~Clean out and organize my "crafting corner."  Check!

(This is a major improvement!)

~Make a collage of inspirational writing quotes to hang above our computer desk.  Check!

~Finish watching Agents of SHIELD.  Check!

~Watch Cranford and Return to Cranford.  Check!

~Try new popsicle recipes.  Check!  We made pudding pops for the first time, blueberry-banana pops, watermelon pops several times, and peach-lemonade pops.

~Make lavender lemonade.  Check!  Cowboy and I liked it, but the kids didn't.

~Dance in the rain.  Check!  Did that more than once, in fact.

~Clean the pantry.  Check!  And I put down new shelf paper, too.

~Watch at least 6 movies from my TBW shelf.  Check!  I watched Legend of the Black Scorpion (aka The Banquet) (2006), Robin Hood (2005), The Long Riders (1980), Princess of Thieves (2001), Wyatt Earp (1994), and Saints and Soldiers (2003), all of which are now off my TBW shelves and either shelved with the rest of my movies, or in the bin to sell to the used book store.  And I still have two shelves of movies I haven't watched yet.  Sigh.

~Figure out if the dragon story in my head is workable.  Check!  It was, but I don't have time for it right now, so into the simmering pot it goes.

(I'm imagining Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin are toasting me here.)

Yay me!  I only failed a couple things, so overall, I think I had a pretty successful summer as far as checking boxes on my list goes.  In fact, I found this so helpful, I'm working on a to-do list for the fall right now too, and hope to post it by Labor Day.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Movies I Want to See This Fall and Winter

I finally finished savoring Entertainment Weekly's Fall Movie Preview issue, and I thought that instead of just writing things down on my calendar to remind me when they come out, I'd also share them here with you.  So here are the movies I'm thinking I might want to see in the theater this fall:


The Martian (10-2-15), about Matt Damon being stuck on Mars.  I hear the book is awesome, and you know I love me some Matt Damon.

Pan (10-9-15), that Peter Pan movie with Hugh Jackman in a maniacal mustache.

Bridge of Spies (10-16-15), in which Tom Hanks goes behind the iron curtain to um... do lawyer stuff involving hostages.  Right now I'm wishing it also involved the United Network Command of Law and Enforcement too, of course, but I'll deal.

Suffragette (10-23-15), about British women fighting for their right to vote.  I'm in this one for the cast too:  Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Meryl Streep, and Ramola Garai!

(I'd like to see any of those in the theater, but I'd be okay with most of them on DVD.  I probably will make the most effort to see The Martian and Pan on the big screen.)


Spectre (11-6-15), the new James Bond movie.  What more is there to say?

Trumbo (11-6-15), about Dalton Trumbo, screenwriter of movies like Roman Holiday and Spartacus.

Creed (11-25-15), a Rocky spin-off!  That I didn't even know existed until I read this issue of EW!

I Saw the Light (11-27-15), where Tom Hiddleston plays Hank Williams.  And does all his own singing.

(I WILL see Spectre in the theater, and probably Creed.  The others, we'll see if they're showing around here or not.)


In the Heart of the Sea (12-11-15), based on the true story that inspired Moby-Dick.  Chris Hemsworth and tall ships and Ron Howard.

Star Wars:  The Force Awakens (12-18-15).  Enough said.

(I WILL see both of these in the theater, but possibly not until after Christmas, we'll see.)

Are any of these on your radar?