Monday, December 30, 2019

"Moana" (2016) -- Initial Thoughts

Yes, I've finally seen this!  Squeezed in one last new-to-me movie before the end of the year :-)

Overall, I enjoyed it, but I didn't love it.  I might have loved it if we hadn't had twenty minutes of nonsense in the middle of it -- that crab did not need a song-and-dance routine, and those coconut critters were pointless.  But the middle and the end were good.

And Dwayne Johnson was hilarious.  Even with just his voice present, he was still the best part of this movie.  Like he is with every movie.  In fact, of the 11 things I've seen him in, the only one he wasn't the best part of was The Mummy Returns (2001), and that was his first movie, so let's all cut him some slack on that one. 

Know what else I really dug about this movie?  That Moana was strong-willed, but not rebellious.  I mean, you could boil this movie down to "royal daughter disobeys father to follow dream," and it would sound just like The Little Mermaid (1989), which I hate.  Because Ariel is a foolish, rebellious child, and everyone acts like she's a great heroine.  No, she's not.  So yeah, that's a hard thing to portray, being strong-willed without being rebellious and defiant.  I think the difference is, Moana isn't selfish.  She's not following her dream because doggone it, that's what SHE wants!  And she needs to get what she wants!  Nope, she disobeys her parents in order to save her people.  Also, you know, she's an adult and a leader, and she's doing what leaders are supposed to do: make hard choices and lead by example. 

Anyway.  Yeah.  I wouldn't mind watching this with my kids sometime, and a second or third viewing might bump it up in my estimation.  Especially if I can fast-forward through a couple chunks of the middle.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" (2019) -- Initial Thoughts

Thanks to my intense feeling of ho-hum-ness regarding The Last Jedi (2017), I went into Rise of Skywalker with very few hopes.  Aside from the hope that it would make sense of this trilogy, if possible.

And happily, it did make this trilogy make sense.  Honestly, it's no worse than the prequels.  Not better either, overall, even though The Force Awakens (2015) was awesome.  I mean, I guess that does make it better than the prequels, since none of them were awesome, though I liked Revenge of the Sith (2005) enough to go see it three times.

Overall, I found this movie emotionally satisfying, and I'm good with that.  I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it, and I feel like that's a win.

Anyway.  Um.  Spoilage below, as I'm mostly just going to talk about the things I did like, and the one thing I loved.

OBVIOUSLY, the one thing I loved was Han Solo (Harrison Ford) appearing to his son in a... vision?  Dream?  Imagining?  thing.  That scene, I loved so much, I could see myself watching this movie again just for it.  Everything there pleased me.  Ben Solo (Adam Driver) echoing his words from the moment he killed his father in The Force Awakens, but meaning something totally different with it.  Him not being able to tell his father he loved him, but Han saying, "I know," and we all know what he means by that.  Ben flinging his lightsaber into the sea. (At which point, I was like, "CRAP!  All of a sudden, I like him, and now he's gonna die.  Phooey.")

Also, I really dug Ben Solo willingly, knowingly, deliberately spending himself to bring Rey (Daisy Ridley) back.  It completed his redemption arc, and I'm pleased.

I like that Leia (Carrie Fisher) was an active part in bringing her son back to the light side.  Her using all her life force to save Ben nicely foreshadowed him doing the same to save Rey.  I like that sort of thing.  And I reeeally liked the flashback of Leia training to be a Jedi with Luke when they were young.  That was nifty.

Also, Poe (Oscar Isaac) was really hot in this.  I don't remember him being this hot before.  Yummy.

Finn (John Boyega) felt a little shunted off to the side at times, but him meeting up with other former Storm Troopers and bonding with them was excellent.  And I love that he and Poe got to just hang out and have adventures together again.  I missed that so much in The Last Jedi.

Honestly, I saw this before Christmas, well over a week ago, and my memories on it are fading.  I went to see Midway again yesterday (twice!), and that's what most of my mind is focused on.  But I promised a few people I'd write up my thoughts on this, so... now I have :-)

Monday, December 16, 2019

Happy Birthday, Jane Austen! (And Why I Love Persuasion So Much)

It's Jane Austen's 244th birthday!  To celebrate, I'm burning a candle from Floating Starlights, I shared a pretty candy-cane-inspired picture of Austen-related books on Instagram, and it just so happens that my latest Femnista article is all about my favorite Austen novel, Persuasion.  You can read that right here.

How are YOU celebrating Jane Austen today?

Friday, December 13, 2019

Winter 2019/20 To-Do List

I've got lots of things I want to do between now and the end of February!  How about you?  And man oh man, it's almost mid-December already.  That cold really pushed a lot of things to the side for me, including posting this list.

Anyway, here are the things I want to do over the next 2 1/2 months:

~ Finish the second draft of One Bad Apple and be editing it

~ Read 3 titles for my Classics Club list

~ Read 6 books off my TBR shelves

~ Read 3 books from the library

~ Watch 5 movies off my TBW shelves

~ Go see A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

~ Go see Frozen II

~ Go see Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

~ Go see Little Women

~ Go see Dolittle

~ Go see The Call of the Wild

~ Go see An American in Paris (1951) on the big screen, via TCM & Fathom Events

~ Finish decorating for Christmas

~ Get my Christmas cards sent

~ Finish wrapping gifts in time for them to get opened

~ Finish the Christmas skirt I started making last year

~ Make Christmas dresses for my daughters' 18" and 14" dolls

~ Host a Ukrainian Christmas shindig at our house

~ Repaint my kitchen

Okay, that's plenty to keep me hopping, don't you think?  Especially over the next couple weeks...

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

I'm Not Dead Yet!

Just a little timely levity from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975).

I've had a cold.  Not the worst cold I've ever had, to be honest, except that it knocked me off my feet for about three days straight. I can't remember ever being this tired when I didn't also have a newborn around.  So, so tired.

But today, I'm back to feeling like I can do more than the bare minimum required to keep my kids happy and healthy.  Which means... blogging :-)

Mainly, I'm here to tell you I've had another article about homeschooling published by Blest the House.  It's called "This is How We Do It," and it's all about our typical school day routine.  If that sounds interesting to you, you can read it here.

In other news... I'm still tired.  I'm still not quite better.  But I hope to be soon.  Because the only Christmas decorating I've done so far is to put up our tree and decorate it, and That Is Not Enough.  So I'm hoping that this weekend will be a whirlwind of decorating and general festivity and cheer.

How are you faring this December?  Egad, it's the 11th already.  Christmas is two weeks from today!  It's a good thing I shop early!!!  I'd be soooo behind right now if I didn't...

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

This is How We Do It -- Article at Blest the House

I've got a second article called "This is How We Do It" posted here on the homeschooling blog Blest The House today.  This one is part of a series of homeschool families sharing what their daily school routines look like.  If you're curious about what a day in our house looks like, check it out!

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Finished with My 2019 Autumn To-Do List

December is here, together with all things wintery and Christmasy, at least in my head, so time to report in on my Autumn To-Do List and see how I did.

~ Finish the second draft of my western Snow White retelling Fail.  I am about half done with this round of revisions, but this book started out longer than the previous two, and it's bulking up a LOT.  So I just keep working on it and trust that God will see me through.

~ Read 3 titles from my Classics Club list  Check!  I finished War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy and read two others, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery and a combo volume containing "Nutcracker and Mouse King" by ETA Hoffmann PLUS "The Tale of the Nutcracker" by Alexandre Dumas, which sounds like three titles, but I'm only counting as two.

~ Read 6 books off my TBR shelves  Check!  I got eight books off my TBR shelves this fall:  Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, Grace Alone by Ruth E. Meyer, Mycroft and Sherlock by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse, Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula by Loren D. Estleman, the Graveyard Book graphic novel by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell, Lady of Quality by Georgette Heyer, South by Java Head by Alistair MacLean, and "Nutcracker and Mouse King" by ETA Hoffmann PLUS "The Tale of the Nutcracker" by Alexandre Dumas (in one volume).

~ Read 3 books from the library  Check!  In fact, I read SIX.  Wahoo!  It was an excellent autumn as far as reading goes.  From the library, I read: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse, Mycroft and Sherlock: The Empty Birdcage by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse, Killing Floor by Lee Child, and She Came to Slay: The Life and Times of Harriet Tubman by Erica Armstrong Dunbar.

~ Watch 5 movies off my TBW shelves  Check!  I watched seven: License to Kill (1989), One Foot in Hell (1960), Murders in the Rue Morgue (1986), The Quick and the Dead (1987), Men in Black: International (2019), The Lego Batman Movie (2017), and Antony and Cleopatra (1972).

~ Go see Rear Window (1954) on the big screen  Check!  I also got to see To Catch a Thief (1955) and Shadow of a Doubt (1943) on the big screen.  So thrilling!

~ Go see Gemini Man  Fail.

~ Go see Midway  Check!  I've been twice so far.  Here are my initial thoughts, and here's a more review-like collection of my thoughts.  TL;DR = I LOVE IT.

~ Go see Charlie's Angels  Fail.

~ Go see The Good Liar  Fail.

~ Go see 
21 Bridges  Fail.

~ Go see A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood  Fail so far... but I'm still hoping to see it.

~ Go see Frozen II  Fail so far... but I'm also hoping to catch this one yet.

~ Make a new skirt  Check!  I finished the fall skirt that I bought fabric for last year but never made.  It has cowboys on part of it.  I love it.

~ Help my daughters sew dresses for their dolls  Check!  This is going to be an ongoing project, but we did make jackets for both their big dolls, a skirt and shirt for one, and leggings for the other.

~ Crochet a blanket for my 7-yr-old's bed  Semi-fail.  I've started it, but shoulder and neck pain keeps halting my progress.

~ Try a new bread recipe.  Fail.  I did bake bread, just not from a new recipe.

~ Repaint my living room  Fail.

~ Host an Oktoberfest shindig at our house  Check!  And it was lots of fun.

That's all!  And that's enough ;-)  New to-do list coming soon!

Monday, December 02, 2019

The 12 Days of Christmas Movie Tag

Time for a festive movie tag!  I came up with this idea a few months ago and have been waiting so eagerly for December so I could share it with you :-)


#1 Use a different movie for each prompt
#2 Add photos and/or explanations of how your choices fit the prompts
#3 Tag a few friends to play along

(They're more like guidelines, actually.  Just so you know.)

My reviews linked to titles where applicable :-)

1. A Partridge in a Pear Tree -- movie that involves agriculture

Friendly Persuasion (1956).  Gary Cooper, Dorothy McGuire, and Anthony Perkins play Quaker farmers grappling with how their beliefs clash with the world around them during the American Civil War.  Which doesn't sound like a comedy, but I consider it one anyway.

2.  Turtledoves -- movie about a long-lasting relationship

Giant (1956).  Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor play a married couple whose life together we trace for more than twenty-five years.  This is a movie I grew up with.

3.  French Hens -- movie that takes place in France

Chocolat (2000).  Juliette Binoche meets Johnny Depp in France, and there's a lot of chocolate involved.  Totally delicious, and I need to review it one of these days.

4.  Calling Birds -- movie where people talk on the phone

Bells are Ringing (1960).  Judy Holliday works for a phone answering service (because answering machines and voicemail hadn't been invented yet), and she falls in love with one of her clients, Dean Martin, who thinks she's a matronly older woman.  Musical comedy hijinks ensue.

5.  Golden Rings -- movie with multiple romances

The Holiday (2006).  Both recently heartbroken, Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz are total strangers who switch houses with each other for a few weeks, one travelling to LA and one to Britain.  They then find new romance while on vacation in each others' worlds.  It all involves Jude Law at his yummiest, plus Jack Black, Rufus Sewell, and a darling Eli Wallach.

6.  Geese A-laying -- movie with a birth or that features babies

Stagecoach (1939).  While under threat of hostile Indians and other dangers, a woman (Louise Platt) gives birth to her first child with only strangers, her fellow stagecoach passengers, to help her.  That's a small piece of the story, but an important one that affects everyone.

7.  Swans A-swimming -- movie where someone goes swimming

Hamlet (2000)  Julia Stiles, as Ophelia, literally goes swimming, imagines she's swimming, and eventually drowns herself.  One of my absolute favorite Hamlet productions.

8.  Maids A-milking -- movie with cows

Witness (1985).  Harrison Ford plays a Philly cop who hides out with the Amish while protecting a murder witness.  He learns to milk cows.  And has to wake up really early to do so.

9.  Ladies Dancing -- movie with a dance scene

Emma (1996).  Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Toni Collette, and Jeremy Northam do quite a bit of dancing.  Alan Cumming, however, is an old married man whose dancing days are sadly over.  This is my favorite Jane Austen movie adaptation.

10.  Lords A-leaping -- movie about athletes

Chariots of Fire (1981).  True story about a bunch of Olympic runners who have powerful religious beliefs.  And run a lot.  On the beach, through the school, around race tracks, wherever they can.

11.  Pipers Piping -- movie with someone playing a musical instrument

That Thing You Do! (1996).  A band of young musicians almost makes it really big in the '60s music scene, guided by music producer Tom Hanks.  I can't believe I've never reviewed this movie!  I adore it for its cheerful, happy-go-lucky vibe.

12.  Drummers Drumming -- movie with characters in the military

The Patriot (2000).  Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Jason Isaacs, the American Revolution -- something for everyone here!  One of the first movies I saw multiple times in the theater.

Now, I said that those rules were more like guidelines, actually.  I'm going to break one of them by not tagging anyone with this because... I don't feel like it.  If you want to do this on your own blog, then consider yourself tagged with it!