Friday, November 30, 2012

November Favorites

1) Bite Beauty Discovery Set - I stumbled on Bite Beauty while browsing, and it's very exciting to find another natural-y brand. This set has five deluxe sample sized lip colors. Most of them are fairly mild in tint, but one (Pomegranate) has a very bright, vintage red--not sure I'm ready to wear it quite yet. Musk is a soft pink very close to my natural lip color; Fig is a little more pronounced, but also one of my favorites. Shiraz has a little more of a wine tone to its light pink, and Retsina is a nude color. What I like about these is that they don't look like/act like "natural" lipsticks--they're just themselves, made with good ingredients.

2) Perfume - I know this was on my list last month, but I have since acquired these wonderfully-sized samples, along with a few more of the regular little sample bottles. Miss Dior and Flowerbomb are both a little powdery for my tastes, but they're still nice and I do love the bottles.

3) Express Jeans - It had really been too long since I had bought jeans: finding ones that fit right is a task I loathe. What I like about these is that, though they are skinny jean style (I think one of them is even a legging jean), they aren't too tight (at least, even size zero isn't on me). They're also a comfortable, flexible material. I usually wear them tucked into boots.

4) Yerba Mate loose tea - Really, why do Americans never drink loose tea? Oh, that's right, most "normal" stores don't sell it. But there's something entrancing about loose tea--not to mention lots of cute tea infusers. I'm using a boring one right now, but I shall have to change that . . .

5) Mrs. Meyer's Dish Soap - Now, now, there is no rule that I can't include soap in this list. And this soap is worth the attention: I never buy any other kind. This one lasts longer, isn't harsh on your hands, has natural ingredients, and smells nice. And World Market sells it (Target, too, I think, and Whole Foods). I usually buy the lavender.

6) Christmas Decorating - I've decorated two full-sized tree and one tiny one I keep in my room, plus a couple of nativity sets and other trinkets. This picture is a silly vintage mouse I like to bring out.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Breaking Into the Dawn

My over a week's delay in posting my thoughts about Breaking Dawn Part 2 has not, in fact, been because I was unhappy over the movie and needed time to get my thoughts straight. I quite liked the movie and already watched it a second time the Tuesday after it came out. I would have wanted to post that night, but it was a long day. Then Wednesday was pumpkin pie baking day, Thursday was Thanksgiving, Friday was Christmas decorating, and the weekend has been catching up on school work (which I am still not done with--oh, this terribly busy semester). So if I am brief, it is because I have other things that need doing. (In fact, briefness may be just as well: I really shouldn't let these posts get too long, should I?) The advantage is that I shouldn't be spoiling anyone on the movie by now; but just in case, you must click to read on.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Harken Is Coming

Last week, I let you know about Kaleb Nation's upcoming novel, formerly known as the Secret Kaleb Book. Well, guess what? It now has a title, release date, and more detailed summary. Secret Kaleb Book has transformed into Harken.

The release date is less than two months away on January 13 of 2013, which is much sooner than I was expecting. This is for sure one I'll be pre-ordering. Here is Kaleb's announcement video:

I've also been able to catch a bit of the livestream tonight celebrating the title announcement--if you hurry, you may still be able to view some of it on YouTube. And though I could probably say more, I will wait until the preview chapters have been released (which you can sign up for on the readharken website.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Hillywood Hobbits

Infamously, yet also half secretly, one of Hilly and Hannah's videos before the formation of The Hillywood Show was based on The Lord of the Rings. So it's no surprise that they would make a parody for The Hobbit, too. The surprise is just that filming is already over--usually they like to watch a movie first. But the official announcement, which you can see here, identifies the project they have been working on as "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Parody."

Since they have had to work with trailers and other material from the movie that has been released already, I'm picturing this video as focusing on one scene, possibly the scene when the dwarves arrive at Bag End and explain their quest. If that's the case, wow, that's one detailed set to replicate and tons of detailed costumes to put together. And what characters will they be playing? Will Hilly be Bilbo? Will they introduce other characters? How is it going to be structured?

I'm very excited and also very curious; this has potential to be one of their best videos and also one of the videos that widens out their audience.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

# Secret Kaleb Book

Kaleb Nation is great at marketing.

If you don't know who Kaleb Nation is, let me just briefly say that he's an author, blogger, and YouTuber--click on his name in the tags at the end of this post to read my other posts about his books and such.

Two years ago, he did a "30 Days to Bran" promotion where he made a video every day for the month leading up to the release of Bran Hambric: The Specter Key. The newest Nation project has been going around the name of "Secret Kaleb Book." You can hear a little bit more about it by watching one of Kaleb's videos on the book here. While it's exciting that the actual title will be revealed in less than two weeks, I think some of us will feel sad about leaving behind our secret, insider nickname. As a way of building up for the novel, people have been tweeting pictures with the name, usually written on their hands, along with the book's slogan of "don't trust anyone." So I had to join in on the writing-on-hands fun, too:

You'll notice that my writing-on-hands skills improved on the second try, though my photography didn't. Anyway, it's exciting to see this happening: it's books approached by the modern audience, a type of marketing that wouldn't have taken place not just two hundred years ago but ten or less.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pre-Breaking Dawn Thoughts

Before I realized that I would literally not have the time to reread Breaking Dawn before the movie, I decided that, for once, I would skip this step. I've decided that this would only make me more focused on how the movie is different from the book, and that probably isn't the best approach for material like this. Instead, I'll be looking for two things in the movie: tone and characters. I'm sure I will still miss lines and scenes, but I will at least try and keep my "analysis" broad enough that it is focused on the right things.

As far as character, we must obviously see a transformation in Bella, physically and in terms of her maternal instincts. Also along these lines, Edward gets his fatherly side, and he and Jacob become closer in their brotherhood of sorts that began in the first part of the book. Moving further along, Alice becomes a central figure again with her visions and her departure with Jasper. Then comes the tricky part of characterizing so many new faces, though costumes will help this greatly. All these new faces are at least going to look different.

Tone goes through quite a journey--a journey that will probably make this a movie more friendly to audiences than Part 1. First comes the sense of fitting in, then the parenthood, and then the fears. Fears about Renesmee's future, the Volturi, the situation with Charlie, the mass coming together of so many vampires, etc. Then there is the feeling of power in unity, the mental preparedness that allows the Cullens to convince the Volturi. On this note, I'm wondering if that final scene will end up more action-based; it would seem strange to me if it does since Stephenie has talked about how the chess scene book cover represents that it wasn't that kind of battle.

Two other things I am very curious about are Renesmee and Nahuel. What we have seen of Renesmee so far has been wonderful, so I'm getting the idea that these two very important characters will come across just right.

I'll be seeing the movie (early) Friday morning. I make no promises about posting my reaction on Friday: I tend to like to wait until I've watched twice, but I don't know if or when that will be. We'll see.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Host Movie Poster Reaction

I just bought my movie ticket this morning to see Breaking Dawn Friday morning, but I think I'm actually more excited to see the trailer for The Host before the movie starts (note: I plan on doing a quick pre-Breaking Dawn post later this week). As a little teaser for that, the movie poster for The Host has been released--you can view it at the Twilight Lexicon.

Whew. Now I find myself fangirling over The Host. I'm just insanely curious how this movie will turn out, and the poster is a taste of the final product. Here are the things I noticed, hopefully in the order I noticed them in. While the cast is a bit younger than the novel pictures, they at least do have a bit of age ambiguity--they don't give out "high school drama," at least. There is a very sci-fi tone to the angles the three characters stand at, the colors (the contrast of the neon blue with the earthy, brown tones), and exoticness of the rocks in the background.

Which brings me to another point. Those rocks. They're not going to be the movie's version of Picachu Peak, are they? Because this is where my concern (well, part of it) about this movie is. New Mexico (where some of it was filmed) looks similar to Arizona, but very different to an Arizona native. And when you're dealing with a specific landmark like Picachu Peak, how do you deal with filming in a different state? Did they choose a different peak in New Mexico, or will they be superimposing Picachu Peak onto the New Mexico landscape?

But one of the exciting things about the poster is how remarkably Saoirse Ronan looks like Melanie/Wanderer. When she was cast, my reaction was, "she doesn't fit Melanie's physical description at all." But that's Melanie standing right there in the middle of the poster.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

They Make Movies in Australia, Too

One of the things I'm always praising Netflix for is the variety of things to watch they offer. Sure, they don't have nearly everything, but they have a lot. In addition to the big names, you also find some very obscure things and some foreign things. This year I have been discovering some Australian things, though I didn't know any of them were Australian until I started watching. And of course since I have no idea how these three films compare to the average Australian production, I can't generalize and say, these movies had these traits and therefore these must be traits of Australian movies. However, these three movies did have certain traits, and I would like to take a look at those.

First, the three movies are: Broken Hill, Opal Dream, and The Tree. That is the order I watched them in and also probably the order of my interest (from least to most). These movies all dealt with small towns, nature scenery, broken spirits, difficult choices, community, and dreams or imagination. The last two movies felt like they were just a step away from magical realism--but they never quite crossed into that fantasy realm. They stayed in harsh reality, with imagination (that hardly seems the right word) acting as hope for the community (which can mean family, too) to come together and believe in.

The closest thing I have to compare the atmosphere of these movies to is movies of the South. Not movies about southern belles, but movies about the common people and the strange place they live in. That's something I found compelling: the nature element. The Tree obviously had the largest nature element, but they all used it as something more than just a backdrop. The land affects the people trying to live on its surface--whether subtly or more obviously.

There is also a tendency toward the psychological or symbolic. Thematically, it's almost like the message was always that there is no way to win except to decide that you have already won. And not in an existential way, not like Remember Me or a story about rising out of poverty. It's something unique.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

New Horizons & Heights

I suppose a week should be long enough for me to have brought some thoughts together on Flyleaf's new album, New Horizons, right?

It did take some time for this album to soak in; I needed the time to contemplate the tone (Flyleaf's all about the tone for me) and listen to the lyrics. The sound of the album is something of a combination of Flyleaf's previous two, the harder sound of Flyleaf and the more melodic one of Memento Mori. And of course it also came with the announcement of Lacey's departure, which inevitably had to color my listening to the songs just a little bit. But this announcement had none of the awkwardness that might be expected (*cough* Paramore); you can read the official statements on their website. Lacey's message is so wonderfully put that I can't exactly have a reaction to this news. I can't rebel, I can't be sad--because there are three wonderful Flyleaf albums sitting in my iTunes library, songs that have grown with me and into me. To quote "New Horizons," I would say, "there is no such thing as time, inside this moment."

On to the album. I would characterize this one as standing on the edge of a cliff, feeling near weightless but not exactly breathless, stretched out and ready--not exactly to jump or fall, but to be lifted off into new area, New Horizons. The songs tend not to be painfully sad or necessarily painfully joyous. They are up and standing and thinking and doing. Besides the title song, I'm also really enjoying "Cage on the Ground," "Great Love," "Freedom," and "Stand." Of course, "Broken Wings" is also wonderful, and "Saving Grace" has really grown on me. And I like "Bury Your Heart" and "Fire, Fire," too. What's that? I've only left out two songs? I guess that expresses the main fact: another great Flyleaf album.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Where the Kids Are - EP

I must give a quick shout out to Blondfire's latest EP, just released today. Where the Kids Are leads up to the full length album that will be coming next year and includes two songs previously released as singles and two more previously available to listen to online. These are: "Where the Kids Are," "Hide and Seek,""Waves," and "Walking With Giants." Do note that the two singles are new performances; they do sound ever so slightly different from the singles and their lengths are also different.

Having listened to "Waves" quite a bit online, I'm very happy to finally own it--and of course very happy to support Blondfire more by buying the EP. I think I only listened to "Hide and Seek" once; it's an interesting song that I'm looking forward to spending more time with. I liked many Blondfire lyrics before, but this EP seems to show that their lyric-writing skills have progressed. You can view all of these songs on two levels, the happy/pop level and the more contemplative/melodic level.

And of course, there it is: the Warner Brothers Records label. It's a cautious thing for an indie band to sign with a label, so let's set aside our apprehensions and embrace these new heights. "We're walking with the giants, feeling ten feet tall . . . "

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Silver Chair & The Holy Grail

To read Part 1 of this little comparison, click here

Now that I have compared Caspian to King Arthur, let's move on to the events that take place after the two are established as rulers. Arthur has his knights set out on a quest for the Holy Grail that takes many years and involves many shortcomings from said knights. Caspian's people have been searching for Prince Rilian, who was stolen by the Lady of the Green Kirtle as a child. This search, too, takes many years.

It is only someone pure who is able to take the Grail--and isn't it similar with who is able to find Rilian, as well? Jill and Eustace are, at least, both children. Questers for the Grail also see visions, which they must interpret. Jill and Eustace are constantly having dreams or other messages from Aslan--which they usually misinterpret or forget or otherwise mess up. They have a very Grail-Quest-like guide, too, in Puddleglum.

I think also there is similarity in the tone. The Silver Chair has never been my favorite Narnia book, but I may find it the most relatable. The characters just never seem to do things right. But there is also a peculiar tone to this book that is simultaneously disconcerting and compelling. It is enhanced by both many harsh weather scenes and much magic--both the evil magic of the Lady of the Green Kirtle and the good magic of Aslan. These are "extraordinary events" that constantly come into the King Arthur legends, as well. The Lady of the Green Kirtle is not so different from Morgan le Fey, Arthur's half-sister and mother of Mordred (who gives Arthur his deadly wound). Both are women gone wrong whose enchantments must be overcome.

Once both quests are played out, the kingdom is brought to a better place--at at least out of the slump it was in before.

Friday, November 2, 2012

King Caspian = King Arthur?

On further thought, I have decided to divide out my (in truth, brief) comparison of Narnia and Arthuriana. This first section will focus on Caspian and his relation to Arthur; the second will be more about the "after events" of the searches for Rilian and the Holy Grail. I know I spoke very briefly on this subject three or four years ago, but I won't be concerned about repeating myself. If I do, I think it will be very little (since it was so briefly that I talked about it before), and I trust that most of my readers now weren't here quite so long ago.

We all know the story of King Arthur pulling the sword from the stone and thereby showing himself rightful heir to the throne. Caspian may not have quite a grand moment like this, but aren't the basics the same? He, too, was not raised by his parents, and he, too, became the young king endowed by fate and divinity into this position. Like Arthur, he became a Narnian legend--Caspian the Seafarer. Instead of his Knights of the Round Table, he has those who accompanied him on the voyage into the East.

And like Arthur, his death is complicated. Arthur receives his deadly wound from Mordred and is carried off to Avalon--leaving us with a more symbolic than practical hope that he will recover and return. Caspian, in his old age, sails off once more; when he dies, Eustace and Jill see him once more in Aslan's Country. After Aslan has restored him to youth, he even accompanies the two back to England briefly before going back with Aslan. So while Caspian definitely died and never came back to that Narnia again, his death is connected to life and continuance in a way that is similar to Arthur's.

You see, I am in a class right now on Arthurian legends and their many re-imaginings. Reading this material has made me in greater and greater awe of The Chronicles of Narnia. Their brilliance is in their fantastic simplicity; yet they still reference and evoke so much. Back when I first compared Eustace's constant failures on his search for Rilian to Percival's shortcomings searching for the Holy Grail, I didn't realize how right on the mark my "random" comparison actually was. But that is the topic for next time.

To read Part 2, click here