Tuesday, December 29, 2015

How To Write Good

This is, after all the Pen of Awdur. So I must blog about writing. That is why I am copying down a few tips that I found very helpful in my writing. Especially as I'll soon be in the editing stage of the Arthurian Chronicles and I need all the serious writing style tips I can get. I hope these are helpful for you too!

1. Avoid alliteration always.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. Avoid cliches like the plague. They're old hat.
4. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
5. Be more or less specific.
6. Writers should never generalize.
Seven: Be consistent!
8. Don't be redundant; don't use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.
9. Who needs rhetorical questions?
10. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.


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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Movie Review: Kate and Leopold (2001)

What do you get when you cross Somewhere in Time with Hugh Jackman and twenty-first century writers?
A good movie, that's what.

Yes, Hugh Jackman stars as Leopold Alexis Elijah Walker Gareth Thomas Mountbatten of Albany, a brilliant but poor duke living in the 1870s. An odd but also brilliant creature named Stuart (just Stuart), a rather ill-bred man from 2001, discovers a gap in time that allows him to visit Leopold's era by simply jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge. The curious duke sees him a few times during the day and follows him back to the twenty-first century.
That's where he meets Kate McKay (Meg Ryan), a disillusioned, hard-working New Yorker and Stuart's ex-girlfriend.
You can guess what happens next.

A Movie Review

General Opinion (actors and etc):
I call this a redeemed Somewhere in Time. The romance is sweet, the storyline well-written, and the characters unique.
But to continue with the synopsis...
Stuart explains to Leopold what has happened. Leopold, being a scientist himself (and faced with no other explanation), believes him. Stuart leaves the apartment to take out his dog, falls down and elevator shaft, and breaks a lot of bones. This leaves Leopold on his own for the majority of the movie.
Kate comes to the apartment shortly after Stuart leaves, and there meets Leopold. As the dog obviously still needs to be taken out, they both exit the apartment building together. Leopold takes care of the dog (see link below to watch this hilarious clip), and meets Kate's brother Charlie after his return.
While Leopold explores NYC and learns all of its strange objects (toasters, for instance), we see Kate at work in an advertising company. She is endeavoring to advance in the company, no matter what pond scum she has to deal with.

Speaking of pond scum:

I loathe this man. Kate's coarse, sleazy boss, J.J. is ignorant, rude, and ill-bred in every way. He is the antithesis of Leopold. His arrogance, his treatment of Kate... This guy deserves any insult you feel like bestowing on him. No, really. I just love it when Leopold calls him out on his ignorance at a dinner once. J.J. has been horridly flirting with Kate, and talking about this opera La Bohéme which helped him learn French fluently, and blah blah blah.
"This guy's charming, Kate," J.J. says, "The Duke of Margarine thinks me a serpent." Leopold's retort, "No, not a serpent; that's too grand a word. Simply a braggart and a cad, who knows less French than I, if that's possible. And by the way, there's no Andre is La Bohéme, it's Rudolpho. And though it takes place in France, it is rarely played in French, as it is written in Italian." HA! So THERE.

This guy, though:

Stuart too, has treated Kate poorly. At his line "Those were your best?" my whole family winces (if you watch the scene you'll understand how horrid it is).  But he does help Kate in the end; and you get the idea that he isn't a really bad sort (coughcoughJJcoughcough), only selfish (as most human beings are), plus wrapped up in/sensitive about his scientific experiments.  He also has a cute dog and plays the piano. I can't dislike the guy too much. Also Liev Schreiber is a good actor (and apparently he and Hugh Jackman take the leading guy roles again in Wolverine?)

I couldn't resist showing the dog.
But back to the storyline. Kate and Leopold continue to spend time with each other, as Leopold (I refuse to call him Leo) and Charlie make friends, Leo disapproves strongly of J.J., and Kate decides to use Leopold as an advertisement actor person. 
The situation between Kate and Leopold's opposing upbringings, personalities and habits is a thought-provoking one. When Leopold tastes the butter he is a selling, he is outraged that he has to lie to help her sell something so disgusting. I think his position is one worth considering. Advertising is often straight-out lying. Is it right? Kate retorts that he hasn't had to work a day in his life and he can't understand her position. She basically says, "I am tired, and if I have to peddle a little pondscum to get some rest, I'll do it". Her side also has some validity. Does Leopold have a right to demand higher standards when he's always been in a position where those standards are easy to keep? 
Personally... I think he does. More on that in a minute.

This scene was a HOOT. "Dogs are colorblind, Gretchen."
This (below) is Darci. She is also very funny. She's a hopeless romantic, funny and sweet. My sister Matilda (my new blog-name for our middle sister; see this page for thoughts on that) and I decided that Stuart helps her get back in time, too, and she marries a fairy tale prince of her own.

Honestly, I don't like Kate very much. She isn't really a ladylike lady. Charlie (Kate's brother) says at one point, "I know she seems pretty tough but she hasn't had it easy. She's always getting stuck with people who don't hold up their end — like me." So I understand why she is the way she is, and I feel bad for her, but she still isn't very likable.
A big reason I like this movie, then (besides TIME TRAVEL), is Leopold. I love the sweet way he woes her and breaks through her tough shell with his gallantry. As I mentioned above, I think he does have a right to higher standards. I think his attitudes and manners ARE applicable in this time period. It DOES work to treat ladies nicely and be courteous and honest. Kate's point of view is certainly something to consider, but in the end I think I side with Leopold.

There is a regrettable amount of swearing in this movie. I counted half a dozen s-words, two or three each of a--, d---, and improperly-used hell, plus one use of p--s and another half-dozen uses of God's name in vain. The word "whore" is used once (in an appropriate way, not in a weird conversation or anything). This is the only reason for which I would hesitate to recommend this movie. I guess that's why it's rated PG-13, but it was all entirely unnecessary. There is a Clearplay version (and perhaps other clean cut versions), so that would be an option.
Someone is referred to as being thought "gay" (he isn't), Charlie has a brief weird comment about some show he saw, and J.J. asks Kate "are you sleeping with him?" at one point. This is all pretty minor, but once again an edited version would take it right out.

Another thing I didn't like: after Kate and Leopold are falling for each other, they sit on her balcony and chat a little. Kate gets tired, Leopold carries her to her bed, and turns to leave. Kate says, "No, stay,". So, he lies down next to her (fully clothed). Now, it's implied that nothing happens. It doesn't go any further than her not wanting him to leave. But you know what? I don't care. Leopold would never do that. I'll give you two good reasons this shouldn't have happened.
1) Consider his time period. That would NOT have been okay. I don't care if he is adjusting to the twenty-first century, that would seriously endanger her reputation. He would NEVER do that.
2) The fact that he treats her differently is the whole POINT of this movie. J.J. might stay with her, Stuart might have done that, but this is Leopold, and he treats her like a LADY. He does not sleep in her bedroom. It's not like this is a desperate situation where this would be necessary (say, they're on the run and have little money so they only get one hotel room). This is a totally normal, safe night, and she just asks him to sleep in her bed. It's unrealistic, weird, pointless and out of place. In my mind, it didn't happen at all and that was a serious directorial mistake.

There is also a fair amount of drinking in this movie. That doesn't bother me but I know it does bother some people.

The soundtrack is nothing stellar but pretty and suited to the movie. The costumes in the 1870s are lovely, but since the majority of the movie takes place in 2001 we don't get to see much of them. The 2001 costumes are nothing to speak of. I honestly don't like any of Kate's clothes. The last scene gray-purple dress is kind of pretty, and the black lace dress (see above) is also okay, I guess, but her taste is very different from mine.

A brief note on historical accuracy: it isn't. Leopold references things from after 1876, the costumes in various pictures are no in 1870s styles, even the language of flowers that he mentions is incorrect. But personally that doesn't really bug me in this movie. This isn't a Jane Austen novel or some other period drama where accuracy would be important (it mostly takes place in the 2001 anyhow). 

Aww, don't they look happy!
Listing the unpleasant parts of this movie seems like a lot (and honestly, it could have done with a lot less), but on the whole this is a really sweet movie. Leopold is so... he's just great. The development of the characters is well-done. His experiences in twenty-first century New York City are hilarious. So I definitely recommend it, with the cautions above.

And it's always nice to finish with a trailer:

Merry Christmas!

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Pfeffernüsse: What I baked today

I saw a package of pfeffernusse cookies in Trader Joes yesterday and almost couldn't resist buying them. I am reading a book for school about Catherine the Great of Russia and she mentions eating pfeffernusse (she's German). So obviously I needed to eat these things. But I'm glad I didn't buy them, because I made these for cheaper and got more:
Gluten-Free Homemade: Pfeffernüsse—The Best Gluten-free German Christmas...
Plus they're gluten free and delicious!

I'm going to endeavor to post a little something more regularly, but you know how ambition often falls flat. But for now, au revoir.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Recipe: Sautéed Spinach

Yes, yes, I know, I'm a lax blog author, but I really don't want to begin 30% of my posts with an apology, so I'm not going to. So there.

No, indeed, I have not the time for an apology, because I'm here to post a recipe which I hath invented this very eve!

Wild garlic in some nice part of the world. Be quiet, it's not random, it's pretty.

Braised Spinach*

Cook Time: 5-10 minutes
Serves Two

1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 an onion, chopped
Olive Oil
About 1 1/2 cups chopped spinach, fresh or frozen
1 tsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Optional: Red pepper flakes or cooked corn

Heat a little oil (about a teaspoon or two) in a pot. Sauté onions and garlic until soft and golden. Add spinach and lemon juice, and cook until spinach is wilted. Salt and pepper generously. Garnish with red pepper flakes if desired. This is also nice with corn mixed in.

*No, this is not technically braised, but doesn't braised sound better than plain old "sautéed spinach"?

Au revoir, my readers.
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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Another Dance

My dear twinsie and I have successfully hosted our third dance. Though we held it on Friday the thirteenth, my middle sister (who was born on Friday the thirteenth) attended so as to make the day lucky. Perhaps that was why it went well? I doubt it, though— it mostly went well due to the assistance of my self-sacrificing mother, twin, and the sixteen lovely ladies who attended. And God's providence, of course. We managed to remember all the various things one must pack when hosting a dance away from one's home (like tape...) and set-up the space in plenty of time.
We danced eight dances. The Grand March, of course, opened the night, as is tradition, followed by a dance partly of my twin and I's invention that we call Babbling Brook, then Hole in the Wall, Yellow Stockings, Well Hall, Virginia Reel, Conversation, and Bittersweet (another partially invented one which we've made our traditional ending dance). Hole in the Wall and Well Hall both got a little mixed up (we had quite a few new girls) but otherwise things went smoothly. I've never called the Grand March before and I had a lot of fun going under people's arms and causing much laughter in the group. Virginia Reel, naturally, was also a ton of fun. I think everyone enjoyed it; I know I definitely did!
(If you are interested in holding your own dance or are curious about possible dance organizations in your area, regencydances.org is a great resource, as it has lists of dance societies, dozens of dance instructions, and much, much more!)

On another note, our homeschool drama group plays are this week!!! Eep! I have more parts than I've ever had before (considering I've only ever been in one play and only ever had one part). In The Unpleasantness at Bludleigh Court, I have the great pleasure of playing Charlotte Mulliner, as I mentioned before. She is a ladylike, vegetarian British poet, so I feel I have a lot in common with her, being a British-loving pescatarian writer myself, and a person who always aims at being a lady. Only twice more to perform the script and then it's over! :(
Also, I'm the fairy godmother in Cinderella, and a dancer at the ball (perhaps the fairy godmother is worried about how Cindy will fare so she goes in disguise to watch her??). And lastly, I'm "Extra Two" in Prince Rabbit. I was told I'd have to stand on stage and look pretty, and I though,t 'How hard can that be?' It's more than one scene, however, and we only get two practices (the first being last Thursday, the second being the day before performance), and I have LINES. They may be only a handful of short sentences, but still, there are quite a few cues to be memorized over two practices.

As ever, I am enjoying babysitting my dear little niece, Frances, and I am very excited about showing her off if she attends the plays.

There's so much going on right now that I could say, but I haven't the time (ironic, isn't it?). I have several posts in drafts, though, and hope to return to writing after the plays are over. I can't say when I last wrote in Arthur or any other story (and oh yes, I have writing group in less than two weeks that I have to write a skit for...), and I'm looking forward to getting back into that writing, too.
In meantime ~ in case I don't see you, good afternoon, good evening and good night!
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Sunday, November 1, 2015

Old Friends and New Fancies: A Book Review

I saw Old Friends and New Fancies mentioned on Miss Dashwood's blog, and liked the description of it: "The first Jane Austen sequel". So I got it from the library, and was... rather disappointed.
I have high standards, mind you. The plot was good, the writing decent, but some of the characters were not written as I should have liked. Of course I didn't expect, nor receive, the wit of Jane Austen. So mostly what I was disappointed about was the portrayal of some of my favorites. I think that the author and I had different characters that we liked. For instance, I like Emma Woodhouse. I think I'm like her in some ways. I know some people find her intolerable and can't even get through the book. I am not one of them, but I believe Sybil Brinton might be.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. First, a brief synopsis. The book is set a few years after Jane Austen's six published novels. It includes at least a few characters from each: from Emma, only Emma and Mr. Knightley; from Northanger Abbey, James Morland, Eleanor Tilney, Isabella Thorpe, and John Thorpe; from Pride and Prejudice, there are Jane, Elizabeth, Mr. Bingley, Mr. Darcy, Kitty Bennet, Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst, Georgiana Darcy, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, perhaps others. Mansfield Park gives us Mary and Henry Crawford, Tom and Julia Bertram, Mrs. Grant, Mr. Yates and William Price; Sense and Sensibility brings Elinor, Mrs. Jennings, Robert Ferrars, the Steele sisters, and Mr. Palmer; and Persuasion has Captain Wentworth and the Elliot family.

Georgiana Darcy (with Mr. Darcy behind her, and Elizabeth with her back to us)

The story drops into the minds of multiple characters, so it'd be hard to say who is the "main" character, but I would say the book is from the perspective of Elizabeth or Georgiana Darcy the most. The story opens that Georgiana, who is now twenty and lives at home still, has just been engaged to Colonel Fitzwilliam, but neither of them are happy about it. Elizabeth convinces them to break the engagement (despite Lady Catherine's disapproval of the action), giving both relief. Darcy, Elizabeth and Col. Fitzwilliam accompany Lady Catherine to Bath, where they meet several old and new friends. Colonel Fitzwilliam becomes acquainted with Mary Crawford while there, but she is affronted by Lady Catherine, which puts a divide in their growing relationship. Darcy and Elizabeth return to Pemberley about this point, and Kitty Bennet comes to stay with them.

It's difficult to explain much more without giving either my opinions or spoilers, so I'll just start into the review.
First, I must say that the writing style is not Jane Austen's. Not even close. It lacks the wit and cleverness that characterizes all of Jane's works. However, it's not insipid, either. The storyline is a bit slow, and the half-dozen romances are predictable (but aren't most? When Mr. Bingley walks into the room we KNOW he and Jane are going to fall for each other, and no on thinks for a minute that John Thorpe can hold a candle to Henry Tilney), but the writing isn't bad. For a non-Janeite, I wouldn't recommend it, simply because on its own it doesn't have that much to offer (I would instead recommend Pride and Prejudice). It's unfair to expect someone to live up to Jane's standard, though.
For a lover of Jane Austen, I would say it's fun to think about how the characters would interact with each other, and to fancy what their lives are like after the last page of each book. In some places, I disagree with Ms. Brinton's thoughts. All the "good" characters like all "good" characters and dislike all the "bad" characters. Would Elizabeth Bennet really be good friends with Anne Elliot and Elinor Dashwood? I'm not so sure. She would appreciate Anne and Elinor's strength of character, but honestly I don't think she'd like Elinor. *SPOILER ALERT* I'm also not sure whether or not Kitty could fall for a minister. *END SPOILER*
In my addition, anyway, there were also several typos and a few inconsistencies (ie, a "theatre party" is proposed in the beginning of Chapter X, then called a "water party" towards the end of the chapter, and in the next chapter is an "exploration party").
One thing that I really didn't like was how Emma and Mary Crawford were treated. A little while back I heard someone say that you either like Mary Crawford or you hate her (and the same with Fanny Price). Personally, I like Fanny. I identify with her in many ways (and it really bothers me that many modern movie makers think they need to convert her personality into Elizabeth Bennet's to make her a likable heroine— but I'm getting sidetracked here). I've never liked Mary Crawford. At her core she is a selfish, vain woman without modesty. Ms. Brinton, I believe, is in the class that is fooled by attracted to Miss Crawford's wit and perhaps sees more than self-gratification in her treatment of Fanny (I don't); in any case we are supposed to cheer on her marriage to a good man. Ms. Brinton also dislikes Mr. Yates, who in Mansfield Park is portrayed as a good-natured, if loose-moralled, young man.

Mary Crawford at her harp. Note: I have not seen and therefore can't recommend this adaption of Mansfield Park.
I could overlook Miss Crawford, but not Emma. Emma may be vain and sometimes thoughtless, but she really does want to help people. Ms. Brinton seems to believe that Emma seeks the matrimony of her friends for her own silly amusement only, not because she wants to be helpful. She isn't a kind woman, but annoying really. A quote to illustrate the point:
"It was always a little difficult for Emma to realize that people had important affairs of their own; and that they should have had any existence apart from that which she had chosen to imagine for them constitued the surprise." (She then spends a man's entire visit acting bewildered that he isn't in another town or in love with another girl).
One wonders that Mr. Knightley would marry such a person!

Emma Woodhouse

Is Emma as perceptive as she thinks herself at the beginning of the novel? No, but she is somewhat perceptive— and by the end of the novel she has realized her own failings and is humbler for it. She's also a well-bred hostess. She doesn't sit acting bewildered and practically ignoring a guest who she knows she won't see for some months. She may be scheming, but that isn't her main characteristic (she also isn't as obvious as Ms. Brinton makes her be).

A few other small details that I don't agree with:

  • I rather doubt that Julia would have William Price staying with her. He isn't the type of fellow to attract her attention and she is a very self-gratifying girl, unlikely to do things she doesn't like.
  • The Elliots are poor. They took up residence in Bath. I don't think we'd find them in London, unless they'd been invited to stay at the house of a friend.
  • Georgianna's character seemed inconsistent. She mostly goes about a lot and isn't shy, but then at other times she is very timid.

All that said, it really was interesting to think of what might happen to the characters at the end of their books (and fun to get to include screenshots from various movies!).

Kitty Bennet

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Monday, October 19, 2015

It's been a while

...since I posted.
I have several posts waiting in the wings, but I've been so crazy busy I haven't had time for blogging. I'm starting to realize that busyness in a fact of life — my life, anyway. And also that, although I do have a limit (after which I turn into the Grouch), I rather thrive on busyness. Perhaps thrive a little too strong a word, but I like being busy, and a lot of the busyness is self-imposed.
What I've been doing:

  • Writing! I just got done with a short story fairy tale (12,000 words), with an Arabian feel. It's a combination of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp (two really weird original fairy tales, by the way), and something else entirely. Now that that's finished, I've returned again to my Arthurian Chronicles and writing 500 words a day before checking my email (that's a good way to make yourself write past the tough spots, by the way). Aaand I'm working on query letters when I get the chance, so that I can submit a book of five fairy tales for publication. Eep! It's really exciting and nerve-wracking also. I've come to the realization, though, that God knows I'm submitting and preparing to submit, and if he wants me to get published, I will. And if not, I won't. He can use rotten query letters and oh-so-perfect ones may come to nothing.
  • Acting! It's fall and that means school, and school means Drama season! This semester we're doing senior-directed one-act plays. I'm the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella (more on that in a minute) and Charlotte Mulliner in The Unpleasantness at Bludleigh court. I've never been in more than one play at once. I'm also an extra in two plays, another first for me. It's a lot of fun, but I'm currently scrambling to find a 1920s English every-day kind of dress for Charlotte (which means I'm rifling through my closet whenever I have a moment and I'm searching Pinterest for Downton Abbey day dresses).
  • Memorizing! In addition to my two different parts in Drama, I also have a lot of vocabulary for Advanced Biology/Human Body/Anatomy class. 
  • Reading! I just finished Old Friends and New Fancies (review coming as soon as ever I can write it), and I'm currently reading Minding the Manor: The Memoir of a 1930s English Kitchen Maid. I saw it on the shelf when browsing the library and immediately knew it was something I'd be interested in. 
  • Studying! Happily, I finished all my maths last year (unless I unthinkingly decide to take calculus...). That leaves me with Advanced Biology, Government, History (currently Elizabethan age), online French, and various other little things. Soon we'll be reading Hamlet, also. Last Wednesday I took the PSAT. My mother just informed me I might not know my score for over a month!?!? Not that it really matters, but there's just a suspense in not knowing how any test went.
  • Playing! That sounds as if I'm really into board games right now... I could have said "Playing Piano" but then it wouldn't have fit with my one-word description, and "Musicing" just doesn't sound right. I've been steadily working on The Wedding at Troldhaugen by Edvard Grieg for over a month. It's ten pages long and I love it. I just started Mozart's K282 Sonata. It's cool that I can finally play actual songs that the composers wrote, and not an arranged version. I never thought I'd be able to.
  • Sewing! As mentioned above, I'm the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella. Funnily enough, the Author and I made a video rendition of Cinderella together, where I played the fairy Godmother. The characters are rather different, however...  Anyhow, I felt like being a junior in high school, acting in two plays and spending one long day out of town every week wasn't enough. Therefore I decided I should have an elaborate costume. Great idea, right? I had this very clear image in my head of an eighteenth-century fairy godmother, and even though I figured that would probably be hard, I decided to google the idea, and found this:
Incidentally, I did NOT know that the fairy godmother in the new Cinderella movie (which I just saw and very much endorse) was dressed in eighteenth-century clothes.

So, I searched my closet and found a very 80s prom dress, which I found at a garage sale a few years ago. At that time I had very few old-fashioned dresses, so something so like a ball gown couldn't be passed up. 
It also had a weird diagonal flap running across the front, and a giant rosette on the left shoulder. Although I did nothing more to it for a year and a half, the asymmetry and strangeness of those two features bothered me enough that I immediately cut them both off.

The sleeves were very weird; they were puffed, but also wrapped, and for the style they fell too low on the arm.
The neckline was also very high. The waistline and bodice were the closest thing I had to an 18th century dress, however, so I nervously removed the sleeves and cut down the neckline. I traced the a straight sleeve I had in my closet, cut it out, pinned it on, and altered it as necessary. My sewing machine is having problems, so I hand-sewed the neckline and both the sleeves, then attached lace.

Worn with a hoop skirt, loaned from a good friend.

It would have been perfect if it had been a paler color, white perhaps. But if it was white I probably wouldn't have bought it, as I don't as a rule wear the color.

I'm also working on tailoring a jacket given to me by a friend (a post on that as soon as I can finish it).

Oh, and I mentioned being out of town one day a week? That's because I get to help babysit this adorable little one:

Yup, that's my niece. Nine months old tomorrow. Eek! 

I make no promises, but my schedule gets rather less busy when October is over (until we start having dress rehearsals for the plays), so I intend to be around here rather more often. 
Au revoir,
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Friday, September 25, 2015


Whelp, I haven't been around here much as of late. I'm taking a break from Arthur to work on a short story for my writer's group, so there's nothing to say about that.
So, as I'm too lazy to write my Scarlet Pimpernel review right now, I'm just posting about a random character from Arthur.
This character, a knight friend of Arthur's, is an actual friend of mine. He is 6' 4.75" and a staff member at the youth group that I attend. He has light brown hair, which covers the frontal, parietal, occipital, and temporal bones, as well as lightly dusting the mandible and maxilla. On a missions trip I once ignored him for an entire meal, though he persistently bugged me in attempt to get me to acknowledge his existence. He is amusing to talk to (although I'm forced to basically stare up since I'm 5' .5").

Hopefully I'll soon get around to writing that review. Or perhaps post a snippet from my Arabian short story. Until then,
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Monday, September 7, 2015

Masked Blog Party: Tag!

I'm quite pleased to be doing the tag for the Masked Blog party!

Yet Another Period Drama Blog

I'm thrilled about the impending series and curious to see how the story is changed into modern form.

1. The obvious question... how'd you get introduced to the Scarlet Pimpernel?
When I started my blog in 2012 and started following others', then I saw it mentioned here and there, but really had no idea what it was about. Then one of my older sisters read it for a class, and I got my hands on it as soon as possible after hearing it so highly recommended.

2.  If you could meet any of the characters in real life, who would you choose and why? (you can use the obvious answer of Sir Percy if you really want to, but this is your chance to get creative. ;))
Ooh, of course I'd love to meet Sir Percy, but I'll be original and say… hm. I think Chauvelin. Partly because I have trouble picturing him and partly because I find him very interesting. I'd also like to meet Marguerite, because I'm not sure if she and I would get along or not and I'd like to find out. Armand would be interesting also.

3.  What are your top 3 favorite quotes from the books or movies? (yes, just three)
Hm, hard to pick. There a lots, even though I've only read the first book and recently watched the 1982 movie (review to follow!). It's been a while since I've read the book (I'm in the process of rereading but I'm only just halfway through), so I'm trying to remember my very favorites.
Alright, well, I definitely like Sir Percy's poem:

We seek him here, we seek him there,
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere.
Is he in heaven? — Is he in hell?
That d***ed, elusive Pimpernel!

I can't say whether these next two are my very favorite quotes, as there are so many, but I do like:
 "A woman’s heart is such a complex problem – the owner thereof is often most incompetent to find the solution of this puzzle."
And, horribly unoriginal: 
Odd's fish, m'dear, the man can't even tie his own cravate!

4. Who is your favorite supporting character in the books? (Percy and Marguerite are ineligible)
I like Armand.

5. Which film versions have you seen and which do you like best?
Well, I've only seen the 1982 version (as of Friday night, actually!). I thought the plot was a bit different but the acting sublime. Sir Percy was PERFECT.

6. What's your top-absolute-favorite scene in the first book? (if you've read it-- if not, what's your favorite scene in whichever movie you prefer?)
That is way too hard. PICK A FAVORITE SCENE? IT'S A BRILLIANT WORK. There isn't a bad scene in it.
But I love the scene where Sir Percy kisses the steps were Marguerite walked (and I like the whole scene before that, in the garden, although it's tortuous too). I also like the scene with the cart-driver, towards the end of the first book (I'm being deliberately vague to keep from spoiling things from those of my friends who might be reading this without having read the book). And the very first chapter is good, too...

7. If you could dream-cast a new adaptation of the book (a period piece, that is) who would you choose to play the roles of Sir Percy, Marguerite and Chauvelin?
Ooh, that's hard (especially because of my limited knowledge of actors...). Let's see:
Marguerite~ I think Gwyneth Paltrow might do a good job. 
Sir Percy~ Very tough. He's played so well by Anthony Andrews. I think Robert Downey Jr. could maybe do Percy's humourous side, but not his more serious moments.
Chauvelin~ Perhaps Hugo Weaving. I also saw someone else who did the tag suggested Jason Isaacs, and I have to say he'd probably be pretty good at the part.

8. Do you think the Scarlet Pimpernel does his rescue work purely for "the love of sport," as the narrative would tell us (and as he would often claim) or does he have more noble motives that he won't admit?  Explain your answer.  Show your work.
I don't think so. I'm sure the love of the adventure plays into it, but I think young men who would do such a thing for sport are not very deep characters, and I think the Scarlet Pimpernel is a very deep character. *SPOILER ALERT TO THOSE WHO HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK* His persistent love for his wife, despite circumstances which should have led him to despise her, also shows him to be a very caring person.  *END SPOILER* Then also, there are all the lives of his men that he endangers— sure, if it was just himself, he might do it only for sport, but would he let them risk his lives if he didn't believe this was something really important?

9.  Second to Chauvelin, who is the worst villain in the book series, and why?
Once again I must be honest— I have only read the first book. So I'll pass this one.

10.  What's your favorite novel in the series (if you've read more than one)?  If not, which one are you most excited to read?
I really haven't heard much about the various books, but I plan to dig them out of my library as soon as possible.

11.  If you could change one thing about your favorite version of the movie, what would it be?
I would change the Chauvelin-romance thing. I think there were three categories of change that the 1982 movie used: 1) plot parts taken from El Dorado 2) book-to-movie transitions which changed the plot line or characters minimally, and 3) the Chauvelin romance addition. I accepted 1) because it says at the beginning that it's combined with El Dorado, and 2) is excusable also — if they'd started at the beginning of the book, instead of before Marguerite's marriage, then it would be tough to show all the backstory in a concise way. But I don't really see the point of 3).

12.  Lastly... how would you convince a skeptical friend to read/watch TSP?  What is it that you love about it?
I would say the adventure is exciting and the romance is one of the best I know. And I love things set back in time.

I'm interested to see how Masked keeps the original story, while changing it. I wonder if they'll have any book quotes? And will they use the Scarlet Pimpernel seal??  But most important of all—will the Scarlet Pimpernel himself be as wonderful, now in modern day?
I guess I'll find out tomorrow...

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Finally getting around to...

August Beautiful People!

I wasn't kidding in my last post when I said that ⅓ of all of my thoughts concern Arthur. When you write 500-1000 words per day, you have to be thinking about the story a lot. It used to be that when I fell asleep, thinking about a scene in Arthur would be a sort of pleasure I gave myself. Now when I go to bed, if I consider writing myself to sleep, my mind reacts with a shudder. This isn't a fun little thing any longer— this is work!
I'm kidding, I'm kidding.
Sort of.

Anyway, this month BP is doing a "friendship edition". Naturally, I'm picking characters from Arthur.

August Beautiful People: Kay and Geraint
Kay (in very modern clothes, how strange)

1. How long have they known each other, and how close are they?
They met when Geraint was fifteen and Kay twenty-one; that was almost fifteen years ago, as Geraint is now twenty-nine and Kay is thirty-six. How close are they is difficult to say. They became fast friends, despite the difference in their ages, but they quarreled and separated when Kay was twenty-six. They didn't see each other for ten years because of that, but on meeting again, they were both secretly very pleased to see the other and affectedly very irritated at the other. There is no awkwardness at being  long apart, though, which I think shows they're pretty close.

2. What's their earliest memory of being friends?
They pulled a prank on the castle steward together, and it was a that moment, sitting in a tree and laughing, that they realized they were friends.

3. Do they fight? How long do they typical fight for?
They argue all the time. B.Q. (Before the Quarrel), they didn't argue as much, but would still get into lively debates, which could last all day. They always parted for the evening as friends, though. They did have the occasional fist fight. A.Q. (After the Quarrel) they are constantly arguing, but as they've been back together for less than twenty-four hours I don't think that's to be expected and shouldn't last.

4. Are their personalities similar or do they compliment each other?
Geraint and Kay are both sharp-tongued, Geraint because he's painfully blunt and Kay because he's terribly sarcastic. They're both honest (Geraint more so; see former sentence), hate injustice, and are very loyal. There the similarities end: Kay is generally good-natured and jovial, though, while Geraint can tend to brood (particularly A.Q. ); when together, they balance each other out.

5. Who is the leader of the friendship (if anyone)?
B.Q. it might have been Kay, because Geraint looked up to him (as he was the older one and he had just been knighted, rather than being still a page). A.Q., there is none, as Geraint has ceased to care about the latter difference and the former difference is now inconsequential.

6. Do they have any secrets from each other?
B.Q.: none, except for one large one which Kay kept from Geraint. Kay was enamored with a young lady, who Geraint was also in love with. Well, that came out, of course. A.Q. they have many things they haven't shared (an absence of ten years will do that, you know), but nothing which is deliberately secret. After the rent in the friendship, both came to abhor unnecessary deception, particularly Geraint.

7. How well do they know each other's quirks and habits?
B.Q. Very well, as they were with each other as much as possible for five and half years. A.Q. Little quirks don't change a lot over ten years, so I'd say they still know those, although habits are now very different as their respective lives have changed a lot.

8. What kind of things do they like to do together?
B.Q. Hunting, playing pranks, sparring, debating, swimming—they shared almost all of their interests. A.Q. Arguing vehemently.

9. Describe each character's fashion style (use pictures if you'd like!) How are their styles different/similar?
B.Q. Very similar. Young medieval knight/knight-in-training. A.Q. Geraint dresses in the plain clothes of a forester, while Kay still dresses like a noble (well, currently he too is dressed like a forester, because he's living in a cottage in the woods). So their style is actually still pretty much the same when they meet again.

10. How would their lives be different without each other?
Geraint would be left in PEACE (shut up, Geraint) and Kay would be bored without someone worth laughing at (I suppose that's their versions of saying they'd be lonely; certainly it's true that Kay's early twenties would have been friendless, as he didn't meet Bedivere or Raymond till after the split, and Geraint wouldn't have had anyone either. Without the big hubaloo with Kay in his twentieth year, Geraint would have gone through with becoming a knight, only to discover afterwards how much he disliked nobles).

Well! Doing Beautiful People always helps me get out my thoughts about my characters, although (sadly) a lot of what I get worked out changes later. Even if I don't stick to what I wrote here, though, it always helps me, because having some terrible frame to edit and perfect is always easier to work with than a hazy blob that isn't here nor there.
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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

First Guest Post

Hello, readers! This post is to inform you that I just did my first guest post, over at The Red Book, a blog for Lord of the Rings fans. I scarcely blog about it, but I really do love LotR (movies and book) and the world of Middle Earth. So pop over and check it out!

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Post To Share Random Websites Related to the Middle Ages

Basically right now I think about three things (besides friends and God): my niece, Arthur, and my niece. Just kidding. My niece, Arthur, and school, is what I should have written. Particularly Arthur. I don't feel like sharing any of my precious manuscript right now, and I really have nothing else to say that you haven't already heard, so instead I bring you:

Random Things to Help You with Writing Medieval Fiction*

Because literally that is the only useful thing I have to post.

1. Medieval careers. You're writing along, and up comes a random peasant character who you don't want to waste time developing but who needs to have some kind of job. What did they do back then besides farm and fight, anyhow? Well, here's a link with one HUNDRED careers to pick from: http://abutterflydreaming.com/2009/02/06/100-medieval-careers/
Along the same idea, I recently discovered the Mendel Almshouse Portraits, which were portraits of craftsmen doing their crafts (ex. wire makers, cutlers, butchers, etc.). They were painted in the 15th century, I believe. Starting from the last three pictures on this page, and continuing on the succeeding pages, you can find the portraits here:
I find them pretty fascinating.

2. Medieval Prices. Everybody needs to eat. Your character goes to the store – um, market – and asks the price of that block of cheese. What does the clerk answer? 5 bucks? 3 pounds? This website has a list of English currency and conversions, and a list of the prices of common items (for instance, you could buy 80 pounds of cheese for only 3 shillings, 4 pence).

3. Medieval names. Everyone knows people weren't called Betty or Methuselah back then, but what were they called? You only need the name for a minor character and don't want to spend the time searching. Voila! Here are two lists, one of the top 100 medieval boy names, the other of the top 100 medieval girl names:

4. Medieval weapons. Eventually, you'll likely write a battle scene of some sort. So what did they fight with? Were there pikes in the 1300s or were those used in the 1500s? When did plated armor come about? This list isn't exhaustive, but if you're looking for basic Scottish weaponry, I found it helpful:

5. Medieval titles. What did you call the queen's sister? Did a knight's son have a title? Were barons higher or lower than dukes? These two pages answer those questions:

6. Medieval Heraldry. Ever wondered about the meanings of different colors and symbols on a coat of arms? This website provides that information:
Follow the link, then click "Meaning of Arms" on the left sidebar. From that page, click "List of Heraldic Meanings" on the right sidebar, and it takes you to a large chart with lists of colors, textures, and symbols.

7. Completely random medieval questions. Such as, did they wash? Did they use sheets?
This particular page is about beds in the Middle Ages (note: this website contains information about a variety of other time periods also). Explore the site to see different information about washing clothes, cooking, and other domestic items/habits.

I hope you enjoyed this very useful list and that you find it… useful.

*With some random medieval-ish pictures for you to [hopeful] enjoy.
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Sunday, July 26, 2015

I say!

That is a quote from a movie I just watched. Actually, it's a quote from a lot of British things, but specifically I'm referring to Jeeves and Wooster, which my dear twin convinced me to watch. Being British, set in the early 20th century, and recommended by her, I naturally enjoyed it.
This is a combo post,  in which I share a few little letters and a few little snippets.

Dear Frances,
Being your aunt is every bit as fun as I thought it would be. Seeing you two days in a row makes me miss you terribly on Thursdays. Please feel free to chew on my shoulder anytime you want. 

Dear Harry Potter,
What?! Done already? And seven books always seemed like so much. They ended better than I could have foreseen.

Dear Jeeves and Wooster,
I've seen less than two episodes yet already a fan. You both can do the best faces. Jeeves... you crack me up with your oh-so-polite persuasion.

Dear Summer,
You're flying by so fast, especially since my last month is filling up already. What with so much traveling, I haven't had a lot of time to really enjoy you. But then, I'll be glad for less heat (thank you for all the rain, though).

Dear Fast-approaching Junior Year,
I'm really looking forward to the fall. Advanced Biology homework? Not so much. Being in my last two years of high school? Aiieee. Drama? Very much so. I really do take pleasure in schoolwork, though the time off in summer is quite necessary. So please come towards me in an unhurried way, but know I shall enjoy you when you do arrive.

Dear French Language,
While being quite beautiful and enjoyable to learn, sometimes the way you work seems illogical. I just don't see why every word has to be female or male (although in the case of animals it is sensible and useful). Nor does it make any sense to me why the entire sentence has to change to plural form if you want to make one word plural. Why can't you just add an "s" to the end of the noun? A few things about you do make more sense than English, I admit, such as having animal nouns be female or male. I suppose I just have to accept the rest.

Dear Arthur,
I'm very glad to be working with you so much these days. We have finished Part One together already. The word count meter currently says 39283 words of 65000, which means I'm supposedly 60% done. What I think it actually means is that this book is going to be longer than 65,000 words! I'm getting very attached to you and all of your friends (and enemies, incidentally). I'm sorry to say you have much to go through before you get through this war; I really do feel bad about those who won't make it with you. You're in a story, though, so it's for the greater good and all that.

Clockwise from bottom left: Merlin, Rayfus, Gwennie, Arthur, Virgil, Vivian, Kay

I'm wary of posting too many snippets from Arthur because if I should publish, I don't want too many spoilers on the internet. That is why I have hesitated from posting any lately. I shall content myself with just a few short ones.


Arthur was entirely surrounded by people, like a crowded market day. But this was nothing like market day. The men did not stop to greet him or push past calling their wares or pause to wave at friends. They did not smile. The faces he saw were grim. The voices he heard were screaming. For this was a battle, not a market.

Arthur found his arm was bleeding, though he had no memory of being injured. The clatter of metal and the war-cries of desperate men filled his ears, and Arthur was desperate with them, clinging to the hope that Rayfus knew what he was doing.

Arthur laughed. Once he laughed once, he laughed again, laughed hard and unstoppably. Even to his own ears, his laugh sounded foreign, loud and empty, not like his usual quiet chuckle. He laughed that strange ringing laugh until he cried, until tears ran down his face and into his untrimmed stubbly beard as unstoppable as his laughter.
It felt like someone was pouring a bucket of thin pond slime on top of Arthur’s head; it dripped slowly all the way down his body. The substance was warm, though not unpleasantly so; it rather tickled. He held still with difficulty.

All of the snippets are sad ones today (except for that last one, which is just plain strange).

See you later – or rather, talk to you later (not when you talk to me, since you won't; in fact, it should be "write to you later"). Au revoir!
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