Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Nashville Skyline

I am have now given Nashville Skyline, Bob Dylan's country album, a thorough listening to. At first I didn't like it, but then I decided that whether I did or not I ought to finish listening to it. Like John Wesley Harding, this is rustic and very different from his more bold and rockish albums such as Highway 61 Revisited.
Girl From the North Country, which was first released on The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, his second album, is the first song and is sung with Johnny Cash, another legendary figure in American Music. Johnny Cash has a sharp and very deep voice, as opposed to Dylan's high voice which crooned throughout Nashville Skyline. This is unusual for him. I've been listening to these CD's for awhile...I don't know a whole lot about him, but so far my favorite album is Highway 61 Revisited. The second song, Nashville Skyline Rag, is an instrumental.
My other two favorites are 'I Threw It All Away,' and 'Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You.'

Although I didn't like it at first, when I listened to it over several times it grew on me. I don't think I like it quite as well as John Wesley Harding. It also has a poem of sorts on the back of the cover about Bob Dylan that Johnny Cash wrote that is really cool.
Definitely worth listening to if you are a Dylan fan! I don't think I would put any of the songs on this album on my top Dylan songs list....unless it where 'Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You.'
I don't stand by that though, because I'll probably decide that 'I Threw It All Away' is just as good, or decide that I like both of them well enough to put up there with 'Like A Rolling Stone.'
So I'm going to shut up about that.
Thanks for reading! Be patient with me. I'm new to reviewing music.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Notes from the Upperground: The Spiderwick Chronicles

There are a few errors on the previous post......

I spelled Jared the an e and two r's. Also, the Focus on the Family link does not work. I retyped the URL, but it still doesn't go to that web page.

that's the URL, so if you want to go to the site you might have paste that in your browser or type it yourself. Sorry about all that!


Monday, February 18, 2008

The Spiderwick Chronicles

Tonight we went to see The Spiderwick Chronicles....and I was very impressed. Freddie Highmore plays Jerrod and Simon Grace, two twins, each with very different attitudes. Jerrod is the main character, the ring leader, and the one with issues. Simon is the quiet one, the pacifist, the one that talks to animals. He is very sarcastic. Mallory is the older sister....ruthlessly sarcastic and bossy. Typical teenager. And then there is Mom....stressed out mom, who always means well, but is about to lose it. Literally. Mallory is played by Sarah Bolger and Mary-Louise Parker plays Mom/Helen Grace.

These are the four main characters (main human characters) of The Spiderwick Chronicles, a movie which I have been waiting for for months.

I was a little disappointed in the CGI for the Griffin, which looks a little unrealistic compared to Harry Potter, and also disappointed that a Phooka didn't appear. But other than that, the movie was great. My dad liked it as well as Monsters Inc., and that really is saying something!
Freddie Highmore is a great actor. The characters were played so well....I think my favorite part was actually when Simon is captured by Goblins, because he deals with it just like a real person would. Not to well. In other words, he doesn't deal with it. He can't. He can't see anything, and he doesn't understand. Jerrod is the stronger of the two, but he never makes any smart remarks or anything about how his brother took it. Don't ask me why that was my favorite part......

In fact, there were a lot of great family lessons to be learned. Don't miss your family, whether there are sprites under your nose or not, for one; and another, Jerrod realizes that some of the things he has said to his mom are wrong and hurtful, and he meekly asks for everything to be okay between them again.

This is a real family with real problems, and they deal with the faeries like real people would if there were such things. I think that might be why I liked it so was so real the way the actors portrayed their characters. It has been compared to Jumanji, but it lacks the underlining humor, and it has much better CGI. I also just like it better as a movie. The whole concept is more believable. Something that Focus on the Family pointed out was that the way they fight these goblins is not by charms and's with tomato sauce and salt. The music, when I paid it attention, was the same casual sort of excitement that was found in Night at the Museum's soundtrack. The style was very similar. I am also eager to finish reading the books. I wanted to before I saw the movie, but they are all expensive and I didn't have time to read them in the store. My library doesn't have them.

This movie was definitely worth watching. The acting was spectacular, and the CGI was worthy of the story. Not as many of the 'nice' faeries as in the books, but they can't put in everything. In comparison to Leven Thumps and Harry Potter, Spiderwick is a lot more toned down in color. It is a more natural and earthy fantasy, and closer to the classic picture: a huge and spooky old house with all kinds of secrets. Who doesn't love that? Spiderwick takes it one step further. What are those secrets? The movie and book will answer all those questions. Spiderwick is, in popularity, probably about the same as A Series of Unfortunate Events, which most of us now know and love. My brothers took me to see it, and I own it...FUNNY stuff mon! (Coincidentally, both are Nickelodeon Movies.)

I also like this better than Bridge to Terabithia, which was another movie involving kids and fantasy and CGI and good acting. This, however, is a comedy (at least if you go by Aristotle's standards...I think it was him that came up with the concept of tragedy and comedy.) It has a happy ending, while Bridge to Terabithia has a sad ending. I think I like the actors better in Spiderwick than Terabithia, for one thing, and I related to Simon and Jerrod better than Leslie and Jesse. So there you are. Great movie! Enjoyable to the whole family....(really. my dad liked it!)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Notes from the Upperground: Tolkien and Lewis

I noted that I have a lot more to say about Lewis than Tolkien on all of these books and posts that I've been doing. I just thought I would do a quick Upperground post on it.

Lewis is definitely easier to read that Tolkien. He was not very thorough, at least compared to Tolkien. Lewis had a big, booming voice (that actually inspired Treebeard's voice), and he did not take care of what clothes he put on. They were usually rumpled. He sent manuscripts off without looking them over very carefully. Tolkien would rewrite before he sent them off...and after reading the biography I think it took a long time! Tolkien was the one that attended to details, and his books are longer. Lewis is easier to read, and he focuses on a smaller picture than Tolkien. Tolkien is harder to read, and seems to focus on a larger picture by covering more characters. Maybe I'm not ready to have the kind of thoughts I have on Lewis on Tolkien. Tolkien may be too much for me still...especially since it is a big undertaking to read the works of Tolkien!

Perhaps later this year or next year (more like the next time I read the trilogy) I will do what I have done with Till We Have Faces. Or what I am doing. I'm not saying that Tolkien is better than Lewis...just that both have different talents for writing, and from what I can see, Lewis is easier to deal with. Hmm. Anyway, more Upperground notes on this later...but after thinking it over, I think that I'm not ready for intense stuff on Tolkien (not that any of that stuff on Faces is intense.) I'm not mature enough in my mind to tackle Tolkien yet.
That's what I was trying to say this whole post, and now I've said it. :)

Till We Have Faces: Chapters 9-15

Of course I meant to read three chapters and then do a new entry, but I couldn't stop reading on our way to church. I did look through my Book of C.S. Lewis Letters, but this morning I looked in the wrong place in the Index, and then I didn't find anything else, so I picked up a different book. I picked it up again a minute ago and found the right spot in the Index and found that there was still a ton of stuff I could find out...but perhaps when I do an Overview at the end.

Chapter Nine:
In this chapter, one of Lewis's line stood out (perhaps partially because I had read it online while looking for information on the story. Actually, a lot of surfing was what lead to knowing which letters to look at.)

The line was : "Why should our hearts not dance?"

It's obvious why this is a beautiful line. (Some how this reminds me of a scene in Ted Dekker's book The Martyr's Song....and the song itself....maybe I'll reread it sometime and I'll explain it all on the review. Consequently, Dekker was influenced by Lewis.) I think this is what we must feel like when we are most happy. I wonder if Lewis knew what that felt like? He certainly knew what sadness felt like, because when he was a child his mother died. He described crying in a way I could relate too, although I can't remember the exact words. It is an obvious question, yet it is like a line of poetry. Why? It's like an exclamation of: "Why shouldn't I be happy?" or "Why shouldn't I laugh?" Lewis had some ingenious little golden lines in his books that just stand out. They might make you laugh or they might just make happiness swell up and make your eyes lift. The line that I'm thinking of in Perelandra is...."Ransome could have danced with impatience."
It made me laugh out loud....I think I highlighted it. It was just funny to me. I didn't notice that both of those lines contained the word dance until now. :)

We also get to see more of Bardia in Chapter Nine, which I enjoyed....I think Bardia would be a good name for a sweet tempered Golden Retriever. I've had an obsession with dogs and dog names lately for some reason. :)

Chapter Ten:
In Chapter Ten, we find that Psyche is alive. Oh joy! But Orual is soon dismayed at hearing of Psyche's adventure and her account of the gods in that story. As soon as she hears of the palace and finds that she cannot see it, she is immediately angry and confused with Psyche and herself. The fact that Orual cannot see Psyche's great palace is something that Lewis talked about a lot in his letters to others about 'TWHF.' In Orual's eyes, Psyche is wearing a rag, when she is really wearing a robe. She cannot see any of the beautiful riches around her.

Chapter Eleven:
Tensions rise. Orual is confused and suspicious. Psyche is a little confused at first, I think. And probably very disappointed. Orual is her sister. Orual practically raised her. Orual is almost a mother to her. Imagine her shock and horror when Orual insists that Psyche has gone mad. Psyche bids Orual go across the river back to Bardia.

I think that Orual's love for Psyche becomes possessive and selfish, and understandably so. I wonder if Orual has desired to be like Psyche, and as beautiful as Psyche, because of her ugliness. In Chapter Fifteen, Cupid says to Orual, "You shall also be Psyche."
I don't claim all of these thoughts to be correct, but based on what I have read and what I have found out by surfing, this may be part of the reason of the title. I'll wait until I get to this later in the book to talk about it any more.

Chapter Twelve-Fifteen:
Most of my best thoughts are for chapter fifteen. Orual insists that Psyche should light the lamp to see the face of Cupid. Orual is kind of like Doubting Thomas...she doesn't believe in all of those things because she can't see them. It's irrational. It's silly. Why should she believe in them? She desires to make Psyche see things her way, because everybody always has to be right.

Every way of man is just in his own eyes.

That's part of a scripture in Proverbs.

Orual also tempted Psyche, and argued with her and taunted her until she agreed to light the lamp, even when she herself began to doubt it. Orual knew that it was wrong, after she pondered. Yet, she did not call Psyche off of lighting the lamp. However, Psyche in turn did as her sister asked. She also knew it was wrong, and she knew there would be dire consequences.

I better stop now before I make a mess of the book....I feel like I didn't have anything very good to say about these chapters, but thanks for reading them. :)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Update on Commentary and Thoughts:

I just wanted to let everybody know ( I had to share some excitement about this) that I will continue my 'commentary' on Till We Have Faces tomorrow, hopefully. I was going to do it tonight, but then I thought I would dig around in my C.S. Lewis letters a little bit before I did, and I realized as I began leafing through the pages looking for names concerning the work that there was actually a lot that I could glean from it. I have not (I say this a little shame-facedly) hardly touched my C.S. Lewis letters since I got them. Having so many books to read is very overwhelming, especially since the littler Warriors phenomenon hit to distract me from reading better works. However, there is a nice long drive to church tomorrow, so perhaps a Letter Volume and Till We Have Faces will occupy me until we get there. You will have to be patient with me on this whole commentary thing...I have never read Till We Have Faces before and I think I (and everybody else) would get more from it if I had read it all the way through already, but I think that this time I'll go on with what I am doing. But we'll see....I may change my mind! I am very excited about the letters, because I stumbled upon several concerning characters and title notes and things like that.

At the thought of an overwhelming (and growing) pile of books to start, read and finish, does anybody have any tips on reading schedules/goals? In January I made a sheet and designated days to get to finish or get to a certain point in a book, or read such and such chapters...but that was a little overwhelming, especially when I didn't meet daily goals and thus had to juggle them around to get it done. With school and my bad nocturnal habits of TV time, there isn't a whole lot of time for reading. The TV is a distraction, admittedly...I should really probably try to wean myself from it and start building brain cells instead of killing them. But any tips on reading schedules and goals and what works for anybody in particular would be welcome. I would like to develop some good reading habits....I'm already very much behind this month. I think it was the Warrior's fault, and I'm behind on a theology book. :(
It is too bad that there is not more time in a day. In a year even. It scares me to think that a month and a half of this year are already gone, and that I haven't fifteen whole books yet. Maybe ten books a month is too much......but now I'm blabbing, and I need to start winding down. Long day tomorrow. :)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Till We Have Faces: Chapters 1-8

Well, I agreed to do a Running Commentary on Till We Have Faces. I think it'll be interesting to see what I can think up to say about it....on a more serious note I will try to give something worth reading.

I remember when I started that I was immediately interested. I had heard so much about it and everybody gave it high praise. I was intrigued by the characters....perhaps the most by The Fox and Psyche. (Psyche! I adored the name as soon as I read it. I also love the TV show....:) It is an unusual name, and I was thrilled that Lewis used it on a girl. It's funny: when I'm looking for names, I usually carefully pick girl's names and just grab what I can find for boys. However, I have been told before that my male characters are written better than my females. I usually pick a random name for a new character. I wonder how long Lewis pondered Psyche's name?)

I also had to do a little research...I couldn't resist. What does the name (the word for that matter) mean? Well, Till We Have Faces is 'A Myth Retold' about Cupid and Psyche, a story from Greek Mythology. So Psyche is the name of a goddess. Or more specifically, a personification of the soul. The word psych (without the e) is more complicated. It has longer definitions and it has several different meanings. Psychology is used in most of those. It means to figure out psychologically, to make nervous, to excite emotionally.....and it has many other meanings concerning excitement of the mind. It's a state of mind.

However, Psyche with an e on the end refers to the girl that Eros loved or human soul, spirit or mind. (Consequently, it also refers to a female given name.)
So Psyche has lots of meaning behind it!

Another thing I noticed in the first eight chapters is their living conditions. This is the King and his daughters and his servants, yet they live like they are poor. The land is suffering, obviously. As far as I can tell the King really isn't a likable fellow. :) He doesn't seem like a very good King either.

The Fox obviously represents the sage so often found in fantasy stories and fairy-tales and myths. Gandalf is perhaps the best example. I love the relationship he develops with Orual and Psyche. Lewis was very good at relationships, and this is a wonderful bond and friendship which the three form.

Orual definitely cares for Psyche far more than she does her sister Redival. Is it because Psyche is very beautiful, or because of her sweet nature, or both? Orual yearns to be beautiful, and she yearns to be loved. Oddly, Orual is the one with the hot temper, and Psyche the one with the sweet one. This is a little surprising, since in stories that concern the beautiful and the ugly it is usually the ugly that is good-natured, to show that it means more to be beautiful on the inside. I have never been comfortable writing ugly's a concept which never really appealed to me. This is a fresh start to good/bad and pretty/ugly. Oh but I've forgotten Beauty and the Beast! I've heard this compared to it.

I don't remember every thing that I have read, so I'll just close up Chapters 1-8 with one more note on two things:

I could imagine the pain very well whenever The King abused Orual. Lewis was very good at describing pain. It seems like there was a passage in The Space Trilogy that made me squeamish, although I can't remember it. I also have developed an interest in Bardia. I think it is the name, perhaps....Bardia. I like that. He also has a kind and loving nature, which I would value highly in a guard! I wanted to compare him to Aragorn, but now that I think about it I think that Legolas would be better. That's what my impression of Bardia is.

That's enough for now! I'll continue my thoughts (hopefully they will be a little less abrupt and spotty than these!) I'm looking forward to continuing.

Monday, February 11, 2008

New Blog Look

I decided that I was tired of seeing black and blue all the time, so I decided to do something a little different.

I like the black on it, because it stays true to the feeling that has surrounded my posts before now. I like red and gray because I think it adds some color and abstract personality. I'll probably go back to my all black page again sometime, but I need a change for awhile! I'm also thinking about changing the name, so if you have any suggestions don't hesitate to tell me! I'm probably going to conjure up something that has to do with one of my obsessions (J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, or Bob Dylan....)

I nearly named it At the Sign of the Prancing Pony but I didn't like it. I'll keep searching for a good Tolkien name or Dylan name ( the problem is I do book and fantasy stuff more than music stuff, so that seems a little inappropriate...but maybe not. It doesn't have to be about music anyway.)


Seven Random Things about Me

My big brother tagged me to for the seven-times-seventy blog thing (???) and it doesn't look too I have to tell you seven things about me and then tag seven other people. (!!!!!)

1. I'm going to copy something that Brian said....that three of his very best friends were his siblings. I've always considered my three brothers my best friends too. It would take me a whole blog to explain the wonderful relationship I have with each of them. I've always felt so blessed that I have that, and that my brothers are also my best friends. Isn't that cool? I'm also glad when I notice personality traits in myself that resemble each of them...I'm not sure why, but I think I picked up on a lot of habits and feelings that they all have. I couldn't have asked for better role models!

2. I'm eclectic, so I have a really hard time deciding on a 'favorite', even though I love to hear about other people's favorites! I'm also not good at making up my mind about important fun things. :) That means that writing a book is really hard because I change my mind about the plot all the time.

3. My first crush was Harrison Ford under the influence of Indiana Jones and Star Wars. When I was younger I always had to be Indiana in games and things, even though I was a girl!

4. I really like looking at Baby Name Books

5. My favorite Harry Potter movie is Prisoner of Azkaban, but my favorite book is....probably that one or any of the last three of that series. Told you I couldn't decide stuff like this!

6. I decide I like things without thinking through WHY. Andy loves to get on to me for that. He's right, of course.

7. My favorite flowers are orange roses.

My Tags:

Scottish Flame

Me, Myself and My Life

My Kids, My Camera, My Life

A Poor Cat's Life

Silver Sea Jewelry

I'm afraid that is the best I can do for tagging. I don't know if you are aloud to tag people that have already been tagged. If you are, then I would tag In the Hedges and Light and Heat, but since both of those have been then....shrugs.

Running Commentary, Part 2

I have decided that at some point I will do Till We Have Faces, and then I'll probably do another one. I've already read several chapters, but I'll try to do like an every three chapter 'special ' after I comment a little on the beginning that I have already read.

Feel free to criticize my criticism.....:D



You know, when I was little and I read as many books of the Pony Pals and Saddle Club and The Boxcar Children and Nancy Drew....I never realized that a lot were written by ghostwriters, something I didn't know the meaning of until today. In fact, most of those books that had more than forty in the series were written by ghostwriters. Pony Pals wasn't, actually, but the other ones I mentioned were.
It is obvious that some of those books can be good, like Nancy Drew. I was hurt to find that I had been reading books without meaning though. I guess it's like listening to Country Music....I mean, a songwriting team puts it together, but this is a lot worse, in my opinion. I'm glad I grew out of most of those, even Nancy Drews are still entertaining every now and then. I do owe the fact that I am a writer to those books....reading is what made me want to write.

I'm glad that Warriors are not written by ghostwriters. Collaborating and giving each writer credit isn't ghostwriting. So beware the series that go on forever! Especially from the Saddle Club/Babysitter Club time period....Animal Ark is written by more than one author as well. It's disappointing that those were written to sell. That isn't why you write. You write because you are a writer, because you MUST write or you will go crazy from not writing. Not to make money. That isn't what it is about. Nancy Drew are still enjoyable, but I'm still some disappointed. I knew that not all of the books were written by Carolyn Keene (duh....there were supposed to be fifty books and all of a sudden there are fifty-six.) Actually a lot of the Nancy Drews were written by the same guy (yes it was a man that actually wrote them) so it is more forgivable than the others. It makes me mad that I spent all of those hours reading Scholastic books that were written with no meaning at all. Does that even make it a book if it was written like that?
I can't get past it because of Nancy Drew though.
But now.....well, let's just say Saddle Clubs are still entertaining enough, I guess....I spent a lot of hours reading them! Interesting enough. But I'll never call them Literature. Are they even worthy of the title Book?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography

I just finished my first Tolkien Biography. I got it for Christmas, and last month I felt a wild interest in it and I started reading in it regularly.

It was full of information on Tolkien's life and his personality. I know him better as a person now. I find that he had similar feelings on a lot of things...and it was thrilling to find that we are very similar. (Also on more than languages and literary tastes...Tolkien had a nice tempter too! And he disagreed with C.S. Lewis on a lot. In my circle of friends, I consider myself a Tolkien of sorts and I have another friend which is a Lewis of sorts. Naturally we don't agree on everything!)
Carpenter's book gave details on Tolkien's early childhood up to his death. Most enjoyable were perhaps the notes on his writings and how they came about....and also his relationship with his wife, Edith Bratt. How hard finishing a work was for Tolkien makes me feel a little better....all my friends know that I have never finished a book before, except in my head! When I was fascinated with dog stories and Lady and the Tramp the second, I spun a tale starring my own dogs in my head at night, narrating in my brain before I fell asleep, and I eventually finished narrating in my head. I never wrote it down.
It is also a comfort to know that Tolkien would have preferred the editions of his books that appear today to the ones that were first published. There were countless new editions within a ten year period after they were all with a terrible cover (featuring a Christmas Tree....which from the description sounded to me more like a great oak with red oranges on it) and Tolkien was horrified and said " I feel as if I have entered a madhouse." I'm sure I would have felt this same.
I learned of that delightful picture Der Berggeist from this book, along with loads of other details on his languages and his personality and his close relationship with his children ( it seemed as if Christopher was the most interested in his works...he is now the official editor of all of Tolkien's works which were published posthumously.

If you want to understand the man behind the mythology, you should read this. It was an easy and interesting read, and Carpenter opened with a delightful prologue that featured himself and Tolkien as the far as I know it is true, 'characters' or not. Five star bio.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Warriors: The Darkest Hour

I have just finished the last book in the first Warriors Saga.
It was by far the darkest of all that I have read so far....last night there were times when my heart was beating wildly, and I was even a little spooked when I went to bed!

Firestar is now leader of ThunderClan. He now has nine lives, and he must make important decisions regarding the whole clan. An evil threat has arose, darker even than the blood-thirsty dogs from A Dangerous Path.

Plus, a new Clan has risen....BloodClan, a clan which was there all the time, but one that has one fatal weakness. Scourge, a small black cat which leads BloodClan, is more than he seems when he kills Firestar's most dreaded enemy....and then becomes that enemy himself.

Treachery, wrong, alliance, rivalry, and the threat of winter are only a few of the challenges that Firestar has to face.
StarClan is more prominent in this book than any of the others, as Firestar visits and 'shares tongues' with them himself when he receives his nine lives. That in itself is an intriguing prospect, as well all know the over-used legend that cats have nine lives. The way he receives those nine lives is also very interesting and creative. The plots and characters are, again, very well written, but I will say that the writing itself, or the 'voice' is not very poetic. I have decided that this is one of the three best modern children's books I have read. Harry Potter, The Inkheart Trilogy and Warriors. Harry Potter and Warriors are not written very poetically....certainly no comparison to Tolkien or Lewis's Perelandra. The Inkheart Trilogy is probably more strengthened in Plot and the Voice of the author, although the characters are good too. Each of these books have their strengths and weaknesses in writing. I'm excited that I have a new series to flock after. Feels like the old days when I was still reading Pony Pals! Harry Potter is finished now, and there is only one more book in the Inkheart Trilogy, but I have several trilogies, super editions, manga books, and at least two more cycles and some field guides to read in Warriors!

Obviously I decided not to do the running commentary on this book, and I"m glad I didn't!

I'll probably about two or three posts on Till We Have Faces in the next few weeks and I may do the same for The Silmarillion.

Five stars for the Darkest Hour!
I think I'll wait awhile before I read anymore Warrior books, just so I don't get tired of them and so I can make some progress on Tolkien and Lewis and even Dekker.....and the ever formidable classics!
I am looking forward to reading and owning Firestar's Quest, which is the next book I should read for chronological reasons. After I finish the classics I am reading right now, I expect that I shall start Treasure Island and Ben-Hur...and I plan to keep up a Tolkien and Lewis book for each month, or every two-three months, depending. I ditched the reading schedule for this month, because I don't want to burn myself out and I was tired of it. I know how that works and I think I'll go on with my usual happy medium, with some guidelines!

Friday, February 8, 2008

You Know....

You never fails to throw me surprises. Everyday, even if I don't notice them. It always amazes me when I realize that I'm such a miracle....I mean the fact that I'm a living breathing person and that I've lived this long. My hand in itself is a miracle. Even the bushes outside our house are miracles!

There have been times when I have wondered vaguely about all of this cloning business....I mean, if man can make another animal out of some other animal's genes, then what does that say about the creation? I dumbly forgot that even if they can do stuff like that (and I'm not saying that they can), they still can't create a real live creature out of NOTHING. Only God can do that, and that's a kind of comfort, isn't it? Even if somebody says that they have made another horse, it isn't the same because it's worked over with science. God doesn't need science. He invented it, and He understands so many things that we don't. Since He created everything that science is about, He knows so much more than scientists do. He knows about every single species of insect, and He knows all about the life of each insect in that species. We don't even know how many different species of insects there are. Isn't it cool that He knows us better than we know ourselves? I feel like sometimes He changes my heart with everyday things, things that you wouldn't think would, but it still happens.

I'm just really glad that He has EVERYTHING under control and he KNOWS a WHOLE LOT more than I do, because I don't know as much as I think I do.
He is so awesome, don't you think?

I just felt like sharing that with you.

"Running Commentary"

Okay, I just had an idea.

What if, instead of just writing a review of a book, I wrote a review of each chapter in a certain book? I'm not sure when I would do this, but it will be sometime in the next few months.

I'm going to let everybody try to influence me in which book I read.

The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien (if you want this one, you'll have to wait a month or more!)
The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
Darkest Hour by Erin Hunter (this would be a good one since I'll start it tonight...end of the week and all!)

and Finally....

If you want I can start from where I am on Till We Have Faces, but I don't know if I could say anything very interesting about it! Post comments for your opinion. If you pick a book that I don't want to do....(I need you to help me decide so I know which ones above I don't want to do. Influence me!)


If I get one or two comments by tomorrow at noon, then I'll go ahead and start on one. If there are no comments before then, then I guess you have until Monday at noon instead, and then I'll decide.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Warriors: A Dangerous Path

I have just finished. I began reading the last chapters and I could not stop. Again I am awed by how well the life of the cats is shown with the talents of the three authors working under the pen name Erin Hunter.

Fireheart is deputy, and he now struggles with his fears of Tigerstar and the sordid prophecies of a 'pack' in the forest. Disloyalty within the clan, and Fireheart has to deal with learning to trust. He has to hide Bluestar's weakness from the other clans, and deal with her distrust of him. Again a worthy successor to the last book!
I nearly cried at the end again. Fury and evil envelop this book with something that is actually reminiscent of the desperation in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
The words 'Pack pack' and 'Kill kill' become words of horror as cats are torn apart by giant dogs, hungry only for the warm blood of freshly killed things. This is perhaps the first time that dogs have become truly evil in my eyes...even in Bambi they didn't matter. And, from the viewpoint of the cats, these aren't dogs. They are monsters. They desire to kill, and they don't care why or how.
A Dangerous Path is darker than the first four for that reason. Cloudpaw becomes a warrior, and Fireheart takes on a new apprentice; Bramblepaw, the son of the dreaded warrior Tigerstar, who has tried (and sometimes succeeded) to kill cats of his own Clan with a mad desire for power and leadership.

Greystripe again becomes a prominent character after he saves Fireheart from being shredded by his leader, Leapordstar. He is banished from RiverClan and joins ThunderClan once again.
Perhaps the greatest moment (if not the only moment) of triumph and joy is when Bluestar attacks the lead dog and saves Fireheart, after calling him a traitor for so long, and finally realizing that her Clan is loyal.

As always, the whole StarClan thing is something to be cautious about with younger readers and to be mindful of while reading. It is the cats' mythology; and it really does resemble other mythology with lots of rituals and 'rules' or 'rubrics' that must be followed lest StarClan be angry.
Five stars for A Dangerous path.

NOTE: This post was actually published on February 8, but I started a draft on February 7, and that's why it is published under that date. I finished it on February 8.

American Idol, Jordin Spark's Tattoo

Very very fast thoughts on music and American Idol this year.

I actually haven't had a lot of time to watch it yet this year, because we go to Lubbock a lot during the week these days. What I have seen has been very funny, and Simon is as....well he's still Simon.

I have also been listening to Jordin Spark's single, called Tattoo (most of you will recall that she was Idol's season six winner.) I'm thinking about buying her CD. I think that she is popular on Radio Disney, which surprised me a little. Blake Lewis also makes an appearance in her Tattoo music video.
I'm looking forward most to the Idol stage, which is the most interesting, although I missed Hollywood Week last year. Hopefully I'll see it next week though.
Carrie Underwood also has another album out now...called Carnival Ride. I don't have any Idol albums, although I would like to get Carrie's and Jordin Spark's.

To see Jordin Spark's Tattoo video, click on the link below.



Warriors: Rising Storm

I just finished Rising! Ever since Fire and Ice, I have been shocked and delighted at how good these are. Maybe it's a personal obsession, but either way, I intend to collect every single one of these, including the Manga series. Greystripe is the star of those. Fireheart is deputy of Thunderclan. Fireheart is an adult cat, now dealing with harder and more awkward situations than before. This time, he has to cover up the leader's weakness and be strong for the other cats. A disobedient apprentice with a shocking secret, the death of close friends, the deathly threat of a rogue cat, and the possible treachery and definite spite of members of his own clan are just a few challenges that Fireheart has to face, and almost alone, because his best friend has left the clan.

There were times when I felt like I was breathing in smoke along with the cats as they traveled through a burning forest, and there were classic introductions to old characters, now close friends to those who have read from the beginning of the series.
I did some researching on the series earlier, and to my thrill there are a lot more books coming out.

Of course, everything I said about StarClan before stays. But then again, similar things (seers, near worship of the stars, prophecies) all appear in books like The Lord of the Rings. For that reason, I think it is better for mature readers.

Also in this chronicle of Thunderclan's adventures, a surprising (I don't know if I like it or not really....but I guess it will be alright) are the beginnings of a chemistry between two unlikely cats. I won't say who so you can be surprised if you read it! A worthy successor to Forest of Secrets, Rising Storm is full of surprises and continuous pratfalls for Fireheart and Cloudpaw, Sandstorm and Bluestar. If you do decide to read these, DO NOT check out plot lines before reading later books. You'll ruin some surprises. Good ones. One of the rules of writing is to make everything that could possibly go wrong for you character go wrong. The authors are masters at this. The plots are so complex....and the books are very serious. These are real-life problems that Fireheart deals with, despite the fact that he is a cat, but that is why we like animal stories. We are supposed to relate to them.

Behind the complex plots are the territorial behaviors found in most childhood games and in cats as well...even in real life. Spying, trespassing, and battles are all factors important to the Warrior life. Five stars for the fourth chronicle in the Warriors saga!
Note on Labels: For Epics and Sagas both, the label will be Epics.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Notes from the Upperground: Perelandra

This is the first in my new post cycles. Notes from the Upperground will appear on the titles of posts that are about things, books or movies that I have posted on before. Notes from the Underground is book by Fydo (I can't spell this guy's real name, but he also wrote The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov.)

This one is on Perelandra and the Lord of the Rings. I was just thinking on the way home about the differences of Perelandra from The Lord of the Rings.

Perelandra is shorter and it isn't exactly an epic. Tolkien's has an immediate epic feel about it. Perelandra is so real and surreal all at once. It begins with Lewis himself as a character, and that grabs our attention and we see emotions and inner thoughts so clearly in his characters...Perelandra is in a class all by itself.

The Lord of the Rings is much, much longer. Tolkien really didn't want it to be a trilogy to begin with; he didn't have a choice in splitting it up. The Lord of the Rings isn't quite as heavy with emotions as Perelandra is, and there are a lot more characters to deal with, and therefore there is a lot less personal thought. However, the feelings of the characters come through clearly none the less.

The Lord of the Rings follows several characters on their journey to save Middle-Earth; Perelandra follows the journey of Ransom as he saves Perelandra from falling as Thulcandra did. There are very few characters in Perelandra compared to The Lord of the Rings; all of them being ingenious. I think that one of the main points in Perelandra is the atmosphere and setting. I felt like I was there most of the time when I was reading it, because I had a very clear picture of what it was like. The Golden Sky was so made me wish we had a gold one rather than blue. I wanted to really be at Perelandra. Another cool thing about it is that for several chapters, Ransom was blissfully (if not maddeningly) alone, and he could explore the floating islands in peace...there was little or no fear of harm, but there was still that horror of being alone, so it was an adventure. Lewis focused himself on smaller circles than Tolkien, and Tolkien created a complete world with mythology and cultures. I often have visions in my head of places in the Lord of the Rings that are not mentioned in the book or movie that I found myself because of the many rich descriptions of the world...I know it well enough that I know what other places must look like. I'll probably return to this topic later....but I have a new book to get started on!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Book Update

I'm not going to tell you a whole lot.

I'll just tell you that I have started over three times since Christmas, and that I have decided to take a vacation for at least a month and work on something else. I don't know what is is yet....I may even just write some junk for my eyes only! My plan is to try following some different outline steps and confining the new Dwalyn novel to twenty chapters and then ending the first book. I may also make it a trilogy, but I think that (quite possibly at least) the majority will be five books. That's the plan anyway.....

But you won't hear anymore. I'm probably going to stop giving updates on it for awhile, because I keep changing my mind. I've already changed my mind about seven times since yesterday about what I'm going to do with it and for how long! So that's probably enough. Goodbye!

The Iliad and Moi Again: Odd Musings for your own personal enjoyment.

Well, I've been reading in the Iliad a lot lately, so I thought I would share some fast thoughts on it.

First, I can say that it isn't an easy read. It's written in verse and the language is so different from modern day, so it's a really different mindset.

Second, I enjoy it well enough. After I finish it I can say that the Odyssey will not be at the top of my priority reading list. I'll probably tackle that next year or in a couple isn't important to me right now. I don't like the Iliad well enough to pursue it right away, even though I am enjoying it!

Third, I think it's a good book to read. It's some of the greatest lit there is, obviously. The story is full of Greek Culture and Mythology....some of the characters are Greek gods. I'm going to read seven books in it this month and finish it in March. Right now it is one of my priorities....I bought it nearly a year ago, and left it lying around for a while, and then I got interested enough to start it in September. I have enjoyed it a lot. The footnotes also include lots of insights as to what Homer might have been thinking or eluding to. I think I'll enjoy reading it a second time better because all of my highlighted passages and phrases will be there to see. It makes books more interesting and special if they are highlighted, I think. I don't highlight modern literature and novels (meaning I don't highlight things like Leven Thumps or Warriors) even though I will probably stamp the Warrior books.

The Iliad is interesting but also very hard to follow. A lot of the names are hard to pronounce and they are so similar that when you see one name you don't know if you have seen it before or not (except for main characters like Paris and Hector and Achilles and Helen and Zeus....and all of the goddesses that get involved. Their names are easier to remember.)
Obviously a great work all mature ages to read. I do enjoy reading it, but I'm also pushing some whenever I pick it up. I always look forward to any mentions of immortal horses though! Those are fun and interesting. Also at one point in a recent book....I want to say book 10....a group of guys (Achilles included) went on some sort of mission (see it's already left me) and each one wore the skin of a different animal. The translator suggested that this was a clue to each of their personalities. Notes like that bring so much more meaning and depth to the actions and feelings of the characters.
I think that when I'm finished, I will have enjoyed it, but it won't be on my favorite books list. It isn't quite my personal taste, even though I'm getting more interested in epic-like things, and this was one of the beginnings of Epics! (The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Bible came first.) I have the Barnes and Noble translation. I remember buying it last April on a trip to Barnes and Noble with Abby, my cousin, and how I picked it out just before I was dragged out. The grownups were ready to go....anyway I bought the book on a spur of the moment impulse along with a floral denim journal that I never use. You never know with journals. You may write in it all the time, or you may let it sit on the shelf and never touch it. The denim journal has very little pages filled out.