Monday, February 23, 2015

New banner and Criminal Minds! :)

I have to thank my sister Ivy for the AWESOME David Rossi banner now gracing the top of this blog!

As you can guess, I'm a Criminal Minds fan. Not totally obsessed, but very, very close.

And yes, Rossi is my favorite character.

And yes, that's largely due to the fact he's played by Joe Mantegna.

The Criminal Minds Cast
Shemar Moore as Derek Morgan, Kirsten Vangsness as Penelope Garcia, Paget Brewster as Emily Prentiss, Thomas Gibson as Aaron Hotchner, Joe Mantegna as David Rossi, AJ Cook as Jennifer "JJ" Jareau, Matthew Gray Gubler as Spencer Reid.
I like this show for a lot of reasons. One is the chemistry between the characters and how they've changed and grown over the years. Every character has gone through some horrific tragedy in their life, very similar to many of the criminals they hunt. Yet, over and over, they emphasize that while evil is inherent in all people, and sometimes environment plays a role in the making of a killer or in forming the criminal's mind, it's always a choice to act on those ideas and thoughts. I also like it because I've always had an interest in criminology ever since I was a kid. The show is set in Quantico, VA, which is just a couple hours from where I live, so they often refer to places I've been, which is neat. Some of the cases are based on real-life cases and a few took place where I live. I remember watching one episode that was set in Newport News and realized very quickly that it was based on a serial killer that was killing when I was a child. That one quite literally hit close to home!

The cast has gone through a few changes over the years but some of the characters have been with the show for the entire 10 year run. The seven in the picture above are considered the core cast. I'm thinking about doing a character synopsis of the cast members, starting all the way back in Season One...sounds like a weekend project to me!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

LOTR Blog Party!

Ok, so it's been MONTHS since I've posted anything. I am not a writer. That honor belongs to my sister, Ivy. I just like reading everyone else's creative thoughts. Anyway, Ivy told me about Bella's LOTR Blog Party and it sounded quite fun so I figured I'd give it a go - in between teaching classes and grading papers. :) I'm a day behind, so here's yesterday's assigment:

1.) How were you introduced to Tolkien? I loved the Rankin Bass Hobbit as a child. I could sing every song and knew most of the dialogue by heart.

Bilbo Baggins in the Rankin Bass Hobbit

2.) Did you read the books before the movies or after? Long before. I read The Hobbit first and then LOTR. I believe I was 8 when I read the Hobbit and 10 when I read LOTR.
3.) Do you like Tolkien's style of writing? I do. Some people consider him too verbose, but I am an extremely visual person and read very fast, so as I read it's easy for me to get an exact picture of what he's trying to say or create. I love how he gets into the minds of his characters too. 

The original covers for the three Lord of the Rings books

4.) Do you like the film adaption? Yes! Yes! Yes! I know that no movie can ever be perfectly faithful to a book, but I feel the Peter Jackson more than did justice to Tolkien's works. 

5.) What is one thing from the books that you wish Peter Jackson had included in the films? I would have loved to see Tom Bombadil and Frodo's dreams when he stay at his home. 

6.) What is one thing from the books that you are glad Peter Jackson cut/changed? I have to agree with Ivy here - Faramir. I feel that they still stayed true to Faramir's true nature - kind and noble, but at the same time they made him more human, and they showed a similar fallibility shared with his brother Boromir. Yet, where Boromir failed, Faramir succeed.

Faramir of Gondor

7.) What character do you think has the most strength and courage? This question is so not fair....But I'd have to go with Elrond. He's lived thousands of years, survived numerous wars, loved deeply and lost painfully, yet he still leads his people and the others of Middle Earth because he knows it was his duty from day one. 
Lord Elrond of Rivendell

 8.) Which character do you think you are most like? Probably Elrond. (And not just because he's my all time favorite Tolkien character ever!) As the second oldest of ten children I tend to be more contemplative, less rash, and think things through logically before proceeding. I'm also very protective of anyone put in my care. 

9.) Which is your favorite friendship? Oh may to choose from! Like Ivy, I think it would have to be Aragorn and Legolas. Legolas was actually far older than Aragorn, yet deferred to him as the king and served him without question. At the same time Aragorn knew the importance of Legolas' wisdom and assistance and took any advice he gave very seriously.

10.) Which is your favorite pairing? I LOVE Faramir and Eowyn - they are so sweet! But I also love Sam and Rosie. Sam changed so much during the story. Prior to leaving The Shire he was too afraid to even talk to Rosie, but by the time he returned he was a stronger, bolder, if somewhat sadder and more damaged person.

Rosie and Sam Gamgee

11.)Which Middle -earth villain terrified you the most? Definitely the Nazgul. They were scary enough in the book. Then Peter Jackson gave them that weird screeching noise. And no faces. The idea that they were once human kind of creeps me out too. 

12.) What is your favorite quote from the books? “I am old, Gandalf. I don't look it, but I am beginning to feel it in my heart of hearts. Well-preserved indeed! Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. That can't be right. I need a change, or something.” 
13.) What is your favorite quote from the movie? “Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened. Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

14.) Given the choice would you spend the day with a hobbit or with an elf? If the Elf is Elrond, I'm there! Otherwise, I'd be hanging with the Hobbits!
These people know how to do a party!

 15.) Mirkwood or Moria? Mirkwood - as long as the spiders are out of the way. I do not do spiders. 

16.) What is your favorite Middle Earth dress/style? I love the elegance of the elves clothing but the Hobbit clothes are just so pretty and fun!

17.) Red, brown, small and round! What did you just think of? Bilbo

18.) Rivendell or Lothlorien? Rivendell! That library! I'll be chilling there with the owner of Rivendell. ;) (Hey! He's a widower! It's all good!)
Rivendell in the morning

19.) Would you rather visit Rohan or Gondor? Rohan. I don't do well in big cities. I like wide open spaces. And everyone in Rohan looks like my family! (Blonde hair and blue eyes)

20.) What is something about Middle Earth that completely astounds you? Every race has the exact same accent.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Exams......and Ben-Hur.....and Charlton Heston...and other random musings.....

It's exam week here at StoneBridge, meaning the school year is almost over! Hallelujah! But we all have to survive exams first. I'll let you in on a little secret here:

I hate exams.

With a burning passion.

In all honesty I really don't see the use for them. I know it's supposed to test how much they've learned over the semester, but what was the point of all the other tests I gave then? It's so hard to write a fair exam in science too because there's so much material covered. So I make it easy for my students (and myself). I just tell them the exams are the most missed questions from the tests and quizzes with a few that everyone did well on thrown in for easy points. I figure if they knew it three months ago, they probably still know at least part of it now. I know a lot of kids may cram and forget, but that's their issue. Surprisingly, most of my students retain the basic information throughout the year. They're all good kids, but I might be just a bit biased here.

Today was the first day of exams. Mine are always on the last day, meaning I don't have much to do right now. (Work definitely comes in waves around this school - feast or famine). My entire classroom had to be packed up because the room is being renovated this summer (yeah!) so I don't even have much to clean up this year. It was an amazing chance to clean out and throw away a lot of stuff that I inherited when I started teaching here five years ago. I'm as good as a fire when it comes to cleaning! I've managed to get all of my stuff into just these boxes.

Keeping it compact

I still have to pack the textbooks but there are a few books still MIA out there somewhere...

Because I've gotten the packing done, I brought in something else to work on for a while. I had the urge to start a new crocheted blanket. I started it on Sunday and I'm loving how it looks now!

Nice, springy/summer colors
The title of the post had Ben-Hur and Charlton Heston in it. So, I can just see my sister Ivy over at Revealed In Time wondering, "How does that fit into this post?"

A few days ago Ivy and I decided to pull out Ben-Hur and watch it since I had finished all my grading and my exams had been approved and printed. A little girl's-night fun. :). She and I love all of the old epic movies. It's even better if Charlton Heston is in it.

Charlton Heston as Judah Ben-Hur
Charlton Heston was my first Hollywood crush. I loved anything he was in. Still do. Even as a kid I didn't like young actors - I always went for the older guys.

I think I was about 6 or so when I first saw Ben-Hur. I was absolutely mesmerized by the costumes and the music and my mom explained parts of the story when I was confused by something. I distinctly remember sitting on her lap in the rocking chair watching the scene where Judah is being marched to the galleys and they stop in Nazareth for water and the centurion won't let Judah have any. And then the man comes out, and gives him water, and touches his head, and Judah looks up into his face, and for a moment, he's at peace. Even the centurion backs away from the man. I remember asking who the man was and why was the soldier scared of him. He had a sword and the man didn't. My mom just said "Keep watching. You'll figure it out." Later on I did. I was so excited when I realized the man was Jesus - that Jesus had saved Judah's life just by giving him a drink of water.

Judah Ben-Hur looks into the face of his Savior.
The there was the chariot race.

Oh my gosh.

That race.

I was literally jumping up and down during the whole thing shouting for Judah to go faster and getting angrier by the minute at Messala.

Judah during the chariot race
Judah and Messala round the deadly turn.
But I wasn't ready for Messala to get thrown out of his chariot and trampled by the other charioteers. When Messala died I remember looking up at my mom and saying, "He's sad, Mama. Judah's sad that Messala's dead. He wanted to kill Messala, but now he's not happy that he's dead."It was the first time I had ever really seen a story where revenge was a part of it.

I loved the ending of the story. It was simple, but grand and powerful at the same time. Judah tries to give Jesus water as He's being led to Calvary, and in that moment where they look at each other, again, Judah's at peace.

Jesus and Judah

Judah watched Jesus' crucifixion, and there, at last, he finds what he was searching for the entire time. Forgiveness. As Jesus dies and the storm rages, it washes the blood off of the cross an d down into the river and nearby Judah's leprosy stricken mother and sister are healed.

As per the standards of the day, Jesus face was never seen, nor did he speak.
Several years after the movie I read the book Ben-Hur. There was so much more in the story than they could ever fit in the movie. I must have read the thing 50 times since then.

Even more impressive then the book was the story of how it came about.

It was written by General Lew Wallace, a Civil War general who had seen and experienced too much during the war. He believed that God was not involved in the lives of man whatsoever and that any man could have claimed to be the Messiah. He set out to write a book about "another Messiah" to prove his point. He said that he's make him the same age as Jesus, from the same tribe, and just for fun, he'd make him born on the same night.

As Lew Wallace began his in depth research for the book, his attitude and heart were changed. He came to the realization that only Jesus could have been the Messiah. The tone of the book changed and instead of it being about Judah Ben-Hur, the other Christ, it was Judah Ben-Hur, the man saved by Christ. The final title was "Ben-Hur: A Tale of The Christ." Jesus and Judah's stories are told in parallel throughout the book.

Oddly enough, as much as I loved this book, I never owned a copy. I just wore out the library's copy.  A few years ago I was at a homeschool conference in Georgia with my mom and my sister. One of the other vendors was a used book seller and as the conference was shutting down I went over to check out what they had. I had several book in hand when I saw a small green book at the bottom of a box. I picked it up, saw that it was Ben-Hur, and tossed it in my stack.

I didn't really get a chance to look at he book until I got home to Virginia. I could tell it was old by the cover and the pages, but I wasn't ready for what I saw when I looked at the copyright date.


That was the only date listed.

No second, third, fourth printing.

It hit me that 1880 was the year the book was published. I began to wonder - had I just bought a first edition of Ben-Hur without knowing it?

I started doing a little research. I found that based on the publication date, the dedication, two typos in the book, and the publisher's pages at the end I was indeed the owner of a first edition, first printing of the book, worth around $2,000, possibly more.

I paid $1 for it.

The book and the movie

The inside of the title page, which led me to think that I might have stumbled on something special. 

This is what ups the value of the book. The spine is completely intact as is the gilded print.
So this afternoon, because I don't have any exams to grade yet, but I still have to be at work, I plan on working on the blanket and watching "The Ten Commandments". Yes, I'm on a Charlton Heston kick right now. Another of the great epics, and I love Yul Brynner and Charlton Heston playing opposite each other. They were so different! Heston is calm and confident while Brynner is cocky and arrogant. It was amazing.

My favorite part of that movie though is something that happened behind the scenes.

Yochabel and Miriam set Moses on the Nile
See little baby Moses there? That's Fraser Heston, Charlton Heston's son.

Fraser Heston was about three months old when this part of the movie was filmed, the same age Moses was when he was sent on his trip down the Nile. When Charlton got the role of Moses, Lydia Heston was pregnant. Cecil B. De Mille told her that if the baby was a boy, he wanted to use little Heston as baby Moses. And thus began Fraser's first foray into film. He still works in the film industry to this day.

Charlton and Fraser Heston
Daddy getting Fraser settled

Parents of babies in movies are often called in between takes to keep the baby calm.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Thornton, Thorin, and the flawed hero

Recently I've been re-watching one of my all time favorite BBC miniseries: North & South.

Richart Armitage as John Thornton and
Daniela Denby-Ashe as Margaret Hale

Basic storyline: A father, mother, and daughter from the rural south of England moves to the mill town of Milton in the north. Margaret, young, a little naive, and quite outspoken, meets local cotton mill owner John Thorton, a quiet, brooding character with a bit of a temper and a sarcastic tongue that could clip a hedge. Sparks soon fly between the two and not the good kind. These two can't be in the same room without one or the other starting a verbal sparring match. I love the story because both have character flaws and both end up the hero. It's a very true to life story. We've all known someone like Margaret Hale or John Thornton. Maybe we are them. So, if you love period dramas, or stuff from the BBC, check this one out.

Now, when I first started this movie, I hated John Thornton. The book and the movie are written so you'll detest him at first, and hate him I did. I thought he was arrogant, stuck-up, condescending, and untrusting. As the story progressed I realized something. He was all of the above. But as you learned his back story, through the eyes of Margaret Hale, he became a little easier to relate to. By the end of the second episode his hard exterior had melted a bit and the compassionate and gentle man started to peek through.

What's really going on is a total clash of cultures and a misunderstanding of two vastly different ways of life. Toss in the fact the we're dealing with a male and a female attempting to communicate and the stage is set for a total disaster, blow-up, fights, and mistaken statements. The story keeps moving and has a couple of surprising twists. All in all, a very good watch.

One of the biggest reasons I love this movie?

It introduced me to Richard Armitage (John Thornton).

Oh my.

As you can see from the pictures above and below the man is breathtakingly beautiful.

John Thornton

Not handsome. Beautiful. There is a difference.

That dark hair and those blue eyes.

The deep voice and his natural accent.

How does England crank out men like this?

Anyway, when I found out that he would be playing Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit my first thought, I swear to you, was "Oh PLEASE do not cover up that face with a bunch of prosthetics and makeup!"

Thorin Oakenshield
Thankfully, Peter Jackson knew that Richard Armitage's face would draw a crowd and he left well enough alone.

Now, I've read both North & South and The Hobbit multiple times, but it wasn't until I saw The Hobbit and the re-watched North & South that I realized how alike Thornton and Thorin are, and not just in name.

Similarities between Thornton and Thorin

Don't talk much
Can be temperamental
Leader of their family
A particular person in the story irritates/infuriates them
Fiercely loyal
Highly intelligent
Genuinely concerned for those they are in charge of
Torn between difficult decisions
No matter what they decide, someone will end up hurt
A painful past and upbringing
Have lost everything at some point
Looked down on because of who they are and where they are from
Misjudge and misunderstand those around them and in turn are misjudged and misunderstood.
Seem to want to be left alone but are afraid of the loneliness

Thornton after his most recent fight with Margaret

Thorin about to kill something on the way to The Lonely Mountain
I probably just noticed the similarities between the two men because Richard Armitage played both characters, but even in the books the resemblance is uncanny. Both are what I'd call "the flawed hero". They're not the perfect sweep-in-on-the-white-horse-and-slay-the-dragon-and-rescue-the-princess type. They have faults, they make mistakes, they irritate people, they make bad decisions. At the same time, they learn from their mistakes, apologize to those they've hurt, and they move on with their lives, difficult as that may be.

A friend of mine told me one that there are only about seven or eight narratives (basic stories) in the world. Every story, from the shortest fable to the longest novel, can fall in one of those categories. He explained that the flawed hero category is one of them and contains some of the stories we're most attracted to. Why? Because even if it's set in 1800's Milton, England or who-knows-when Middle Earth, we can relate to the hero. The hero gives us hope. Stories with the perfect hero who makes all the right decisions at all the right times and everyone loves them don't do well on bookstore shelves.

Why not?

It isn't real.

No, Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves, and Wizards aren't real, but the situations they found themselves in aren't that fundamentally different from what we deal with day to day.

John Thornton and Margaret Hale aren't real, but the life changes, the relationships, the misunderstandings, and the frustrations they struggled with are.

That's why we like the flawed hero stories and are drawn to the flawed hero.

They are human.

They are us.

Thornton can smile, or smirk, on occasion

Thorin almost smiled here. Almost.
Wonder how much money he lost on the bet?
Thornton isn't quite sure what to make of newcomer Margaret Hale.

About that brooding look...
The tie is gone...the man has finally relaxed.
Yeah, he's relaxed.
Some women get all the luck...

Ok, I just had to add this one because it's freaking adorable.
I mean how many people can say they've been immortalized as a LEGO?

Monday, May 5, 2014

LOTR funnies

Ok, so I'm at school right now and very bored (I'm the teacher, not the student).

I actually don't have much to do since at the moment I'm subbing for another teacher and the kids are just taking a test. So what do I do? Find amusing Lord of the Rings and Hobbit pictures online. I love both and while looking up pictures of various people, mainly Thranduil today, (don't knock it - he's gorgeous!) I came across a few great ones. This is largely for my sister Ivy over at Revealed in Time. She has the same sick sense of humor I do.

Mmmm...Elven goodness.
That sword is epic. The upper potion of the blade is actually open scroll work. (You can see his hair through it)
Also, the designs on the shoulders of his robe looks like spider webs.

Enjoying a family bonding moment here.
(Yeah, I know Tauriel isn't family but she and Legolas would like to be!)

Legolas: "Uh, Dad, does Mom know you still have these pictures of you two when you were dating?"
Thranduil: "Oh God, she's going to kill me if she ever sees these..."
Tauriel: "Maybe I don't want to get mixed up with this family after all..."
Thranduil: "Turn it off!!!! Turn it off!!!! Turn it off!!!! Your mother's coming!"

Ok, how could you not laugh at this? Pretty much sums up Thranduil in one sentence.
Wonder how many times his kids got this look...

Getting chewed out by dad.
***Side note: Lee Pace (Thranduil) is actually two years younger than Orlando Bloom (Legolas)***
Ok, this guy is thousands of years old and the only gray hair he has is in his eyebrows. Whatever magic he's using, I want some. He's got gorgeous eyes too.
"Ok boys, fess up, who's been cutting splinters into this throne again?"
Yeah, so that's what I've been doing to amuse myself. Maybe I'll do a few more of these for other characters. Fili and Kili... I KNOW there has to be plenty of amusing material there....

Friday, April 11, 2014

I never knew that...

So, I was browsing around online, searching for pictures from one of my all time favorite movies, "The Scarlet Pimpernel".

I'll write a post sometime on the utter amazingness, wit, and beauty of this movie. Needless to say, I'm a tad bit obsessed. I know several parts of it by heart. Even so, I found out something new and interesting about it today. There was name that caught my eye in the cast list. Timothy Carlton. I knew I had heard that name before. Clicked on the name. Oh my.

He's Benedict Cumberbatch's father. 

Yes, the man who was half responsible for the beauty pictured above was in "The Scarlet Pimpernel". 

Timothy Carlton played the Count De Beaulieu. He, his wife, and young son are called forward to be executed during The Reign of Terror. They are taken away, presumably to be parted from their heads, but the Scarlet Pimpernel and his men have other plans. They sneak the family out of the city in coffins and whisk them away to England. 

Timothy Carlton's role is small, but he is he one who introduces the Scarlet Pimpernel and the League to us. 

I can see a bit of The Batch's nose and mouth in this picture, but he must look more like Mummy.

Benny must have gotten his height from Dad. He didn't fit in the coffin too well.

"Who are all these women running after my son?"

So there's your interesting tidbit for the day! Enjoy!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Beautiful Blog Award

Hamlette at Hamlett's Soliloquy has nominated me for The Beautiful Blog Award! How sweet of her!
Here are my answers to her questions:

What's the first movie you can remember seeing?
Honey I Shrunk The Kids (Wow, I am so old!)

What's your favorite fruit?

What's your least-favorite kind of pie?
I love pie of all kind, but if I had to skip one it would probably be rhubarb.

If you could be any superhero(ine) for a day, who would you like to be?
Thor. I'm part Scandinavian and he just rocks. :)

What was your favorite picture book when you were a child?
"Bonnie's Big Day" by James Herriot

What was the last board/card game you played?

Do you prefer feather pillows or foam?
Usually foam, but feathers are so nice..

What are three of your favorite blogs?
Revealed in Time
Hamlette's Soliloquy
Classic Ramblings

All right, so I have a few nominees for the award myself:

Ivy at Revealed in Time (She taught me everything about blogging)
Miss Jane Bennet at Classic Ramblings
Birdie at Lady of the Manor

My questions for you:

~What was your most memorable gift?
~If you could meet one famous author, who would it be?
~What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
~What is one holiday tradition that is unique to your family?
~How do you drink your coffee or tea?
~If you could witness any historical event, what would it be?
~What is your ideal way to spend a free afternoon?