Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas at the Town House

This will be our first Christmas in our new home, and overall, the Christmas Season has been good this year. There have been some hard times, feelings of “bah humbug” and “all the magic of Christmas is gone!” but there have been some blessings tucked here and there.
[And I was going to post a pic of the new house with its new paint-job here, but apparently I haven't uploaded it from Mr. Phonie yet....]

We hosted a dinner party in the middle of the month with our Monday night Bible study group and had a blast. Everyone brought something to share, and everything was delicious!

The Bells of Grants Pass performed three times this month, the last “gig” earning us a new member—a young fellow who played handbells in college and learned some advanced techniques. Hallelujah!

It’s become a tradition in our family to see the live annual performance of the Nutcracker Ballet, and this year was no exception. They mayn’t have the best technique or choreography, but it’s still a good show, and it’s always fun to see what new things they add each year.
Speaking of which, our Nutcracker collection has mushroomed in the last few months. This has seriously been the Year of the Nutcracker for us, LOL. I’ve actually toyed (oops, my Cat Noir is showing 😊) with doing a Nutcracker Advent blog series like Kendra did a few years back....

This year, we joined up with a fellow member of the Bells of Grants Pass and her friend to form a recorder quintet. Despite some setbacks and scheduling what-nots, we were able to play some Christmas carols for a open house at one of the historic houses in town.
Clockwise from left: Sylvia & yours truly on Soprano,
Mom on Bass, Peter on Tenor, Ellen on Alto

I must say, I didn’t realize how much I missed playing my recorder until we started this group. Hopefully we can keep it up and do some of the Baroque and Renaissance music we looked at intitally. ’Cos that’s my music Happy Place. 😊

Anyroad, here’s wishing all my Gentle Readers—and anyone who happens to stumble onto my wee corner of the Blogosphere—a very Merry Christmas, a Blessed New Year, and much, much Joy!

God bless,
~ℛ~

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Know the Novel | Part Two

And here’s Part Two of Christine’s fun writing tag, Know The Novel. The tag originates on Christine’s blog, Musings of an Elf. Check out her post for more details.

So this time, I get to yak about how the actual writing is going, gush about my Characters, and sundry what-nots like that.

AntonArgentos:
Characters who, oddly enough, haven’t made it to Peanut Gallery* status.

Perhaps because I didn’t intend to get as emotionally involved with them as with you lot? :-P This *was* going to be a “nice little bit of fluff to play with while I take a break from Prince Nácil,” after all. *Eyeroll*

OK, enough rambling. On to the Tag!

* Peanut Gallery = The various and sundry Voices in My Head/facets of my complicated psyche, whom I’ve personified as several Characters from my many WIPs.

QUESTIONS


1. How’s the writing going? FINISHED!!! I got to the end of the book on November 23rd with an official wordcount of 32,231 words (62 pages in Open Office). It was kinda weird, finishing an entire book in a little over three weeks. It’s also a little sad that I didn’t make it to the 50,000 words goal...but I’ve told all of the story I wanted to tell (that would have fit without feeling dragged-out or shoehorned in), so continuing to write woud just be so much excess fluff at this point. I think my brother said it best: “It’s just not a 50,000-word story.” Besides, my main reason for doing NaNo this year was to get into the habit of writing each day, which I’ve done, so that’s a win, aye?
As far as the actual process went, it felt like it took me f o r e v e r to progress the plot (especially the Party Scene, ’ikes!), yet writing basically all day, every day got me to the end of the book before the month was out. Crazy! But cool, too.
2. What’s been the most fun aspect about writing this novel so far? Combining two very dissimilar “fairytales” into one story, and weaving in dances from the Ballet, plus bits of live performances I’ve seen over the years.
3. Has your novel surprised you in any way? Mainly in the area of organic development. Despite writing out a list of main/important plot-points I wanted to include in the book, detailing how those events unfolded within the story just...had a mind of its own still. :-P
On a pleasanter note, the Magic Mirror spouted a pretty cool Prophecy out of the Blue (see snippets below), which I think gave the story a bit more depth.
4. What do you think of your characters at this point? Who’s your favorite to write about? ’On the whole, I like them. They’re basically how I envisioned them. Princess Starflower is sweet and encouraging, with just enough initial bashfulness around Liam to be believable. Liam himself...wow, what a sweetheart. <3 Herr Weisskopf ended up with a smaller role than I intended, but perhaps I can fix that in the next draft. Fritz is the perfect fop that you love to hate, and the Queen of the Night turned out deliciously crafty and...well, evil.
5. If you were transported into your novel and became any one of the characters, which one do you think you’d be? Would you take any different actions than they have? I’d totally be Princess Starflower. When I myself was twelve years old, I still enjoyed games of Let’s Pretend...and was horribly shy of boys! (Still am, actually, although it’s gotten a bit better in recent years.) Don’t think I’d do anything different than Starflower does in the story—nothing positive, anyhow. I’d probably sulk the rest of the evening after Fritz broke the nutcracker, and my twelve-year-old self for sure wouldn’t get over being afraid of Liam that quickly! >_<
6. Give us the first sentence or paragraph and then 2 (or 3!) more favorite snippets!
First sentence: The Kingdom of Ardonia had enjoyed many years of peace and prosperity, ruled by the wise and fair Moon King and his beloved Star Queen.
~Favorite snippets~
The Queen jumped and threw a saucy grin at her husband. “Ah! My lord, I did not hear you approach. Fie, for shame, to startle a woman with child.”
I’m certain you shall come to forgive me in time.” He kissed her tenderly. “As for our Small One yonder”—patting the Queen’s belly—“I would be very much surprised if it looked aught but how you’ve described, considering our own complexions.” He gave her dark locks a playful tug and pinched her rosy cheek as he spoke. “The real question will be whether God shall bless us with a fair daughter to inherit your soft curls and dark eyes, or a strapping son blessed with my manly physique.” He struck a heroic pose, meriting a laugh from the Queen.
[Author Intrusion: In which the Moon King suddenly channeled Anton Argentos. XD]


Fritz looked a bit foolish, turning the lever over in his hands. Then he gave a nervous laugh and shrugged his shoulders. “What a lot of fuss over a silly toy.” He dropped the lever and began to walk towards Starflower. “Come, now, Cousin Starflower; let’s finish the dance.”
Starflower glared up at him. “I don’t want to dance with you, you great bully.” A tear slid down her cheek, and she hugged the nutcracker to her heart.
Fritz began to reply, extending his hand to her in a way that made her anxious.
Liam stepped protectively in front of her. “The Princess says she doesn’t want to dance with you,” he growled.
Fritz stopped short, eyes wide in astonished outrage.
Liam gulped, but stood firm.
Hold your tongue, little man,” Fritz sneered. “You forget yourself. Or do you not realize whom you are addressing?” He looked down his nose at Liam, head held high, his whole being radiating hauteur.
Liam lifted his chin. “I may not be of noble birth, mein herr,” he retorted, “but I’m more of a gentleman than you are.”


Magic Mirror,” she intoned, “tell me if there is any danger to this plan of action, and how I may prevent it.”
Again the Mirror growled and turned black, answering in the same low tones:

True Love’s Sword shall be thy bane,
True Love’s Call shall wake the slain,
True Love’s Kiss shall win the fight,
And Love United sets it right.”

The Mirror showed an image of a young couple in splendid clothes, with crowns on their heads, facing each other with clasped hands. A bright light shone behind them, and a kind of fog shrouded the image, so Frau Ratzenburger couldn’t make out their exact features or any other details that might point to their identities. She asked the Mirror to tell her more about them, but it only repeated its previous answer. To Frau Ratzenburger, it sounded like a prophecy of doom....


7. Have you come across any problem areas? Mainly figuring out how to incorporate the dances from the Ballet and make them interesting. Too little detail, and it’s like, “What does this even accomplish?” Too much detail, and my readers might as well just go see the Ballet, LOL. I also had a spot of bother fitting in the Magic Mirror...until I realized Frau Ratzenburger/the Queen of the Night’s reason for hating Starflower wasn’t jealousy of her looks....
8. What’s been your biggest victory with writing this novel at this point? Besides finishing a whole book in three weeks? ;-P Probably the fact that the two stories really did mesh pretty well.
9. Be honest, have you killed any characters off yet? Anyone who’s read Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and at least seen the Nutcracker Ballet knows there’s at least one death involved. Anyone who’s actually read E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Nutcracker and Mouse King knows there are at least two (we won’t count Snow White and the Nutcracker because they either weren’t really dead or came back to life).
I did kill off one other character besides the villains...but...ehehe, spoilers, sweetie.
10. Take us on a tour of a what a normal writing day for this particular novel has looked like. Where do you write? What time of day? Alone or with others? Is a lot of coffee (or some other drink) consumed? Do you light candles? Play music? Get distracted by social media (*cough, cough*)? Tell all! A typical day of writing for R.R. Goodwill generally began around 10:30 or 11:00 a.m., after I’d done the usual morning things and what-not...and OK, yeah, gotten distracted by YouTube videos, e-mail checking, Pinterest rabbit-holes, and/or jewelry projects that suddenly decided to inspire me. :-P I have my laptop (affectionately christened “Batman” due to its black and silver exterior) set up in my room, where I can shut myself away from the rest of the house for a while.
No coffee for this little monkey (can’t handle the Caffeine Buzzzzzz), nor tea (too expensive to drink casually), nor cocoa (don’t have mix, and I hate making it from scratch because it turns out bitter)...however, I did nosh on at least a roll a day of Smarties (leftover Trick-or-Treat fodder) while writing this book. Oddly appropriate, actually....
And while I generally don’t listen to music while writing, I found it helpful to play parts of the Nutcracker Suite and Waltz of the Snowflakes, to help get a feel for the mood of the scene I wanted to write.

I don’t tag anyone, because the only two people left on the Blogosphere that I actually know have already done it. :-P Eagerly awaiting Part Three!


Until next time, Gentle Readers,
God bless,
~ℛ~

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Know the Novel | Princess Starflower

Taking a break from NaNoWriMo to participate in this fun little tag, which my friend and fellow “scribbler”/NaNoite,* Melody Muffin, featured on her blog recently. The tag originates on Christine’s blog, Musings of an Elf. Check out her post for more details.
Sadly, the link-up for this part of the tag is now closed, but Christine says she’ll post Part Two this month.

* NaNoite = Participant in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo/NaNo)

Below, I’ll share tidbits about my current NaNo WIP, Princess Starflower. I had already started jotting down some notes and a couple snippets (which I will be re-writing word-for-word to keep my project “legal,” LOL) a year ago, but not much. I chose it as my NaNo projects because it seemed like something I could write a bit less intensely than Prince Nácil or any of my other Ýdära books.

Shout-out to Shawn P., a long-time friend who suggested (last Summer, but hey, better late than never, wot?) that I participate in NaNo . It was kinda cool he even remembered I write books, so...here we are. 😊

OK, enough rambling. On to the Tag!

QUESTIONS
~All photos via Pinterest~

1. What first sparked the idea for this novel?
A dream I had in November 2017, which was a mashup of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs but also featured a live Nutcracker. It seemed like a cool basis for a novel, so I started jotting down ideas and snippets. I know its kind of a strange mix, but it totally works!
2. Share a blurb! *Suddenly realizes she stinks at thinking up blurbs* Um...y’all can read the one I wrote for my NaNo page....
3. Where does the story take place? In the fictional Kingdom of Ardonia, ruled by the Moon King and Star Queen.
What are some of your favorite aspects about the setting? *Sheepish* I...actually haven’t given much thought to the setting, apart from the fact that Our Heroine and her family live in a Castle, and there’s a creepy wood at the border of the kingdom called the Forest of the Night. As usual, I’m focusing more on the characters and the interactions more than the world they live in. *So lame*
Princess Starflower4. Tell us about your protagonist. Princess Starflower, AKA the “Snow White”/“Clara”-character of this story. Our Heroine is a bit shy and prefers quiet activities like reading, embroidery, and playing Let’s Pretend with her toys, but she can be friendly and outgoing with people she knows.

“But she’s so pretty, Uncle,” Liam protested. “... She’d never even look at a plain fellow like me.”
Oddly enough, the male lead in this story—Liam, the character inspired by Drosselmeir’s apprentice—gets quite a bit of POV, too, so I guess he’s the secondary protagonist. I hadn’t intended it, but...well, it just felt right. ;-P Liam is quiet and thoughtful, a bit shy, but kind and empathic. He has a highly-developed power of observation and justice. (Really, so many of my “boys” are such sweethearts!)
Queen of the Night and the Magic Mirror (The Snow Queen by P.J.Lynch)
(LOL, this reminds me of Diana Rigg's
portrayal in the Cannon MovieTale film!)

5. Who (or what) is the antagonist? Starflower’s aunt, Frau Ratzenburger, a bitter, scheming woman with ambitions for setting up her eldest son, Fritz, as Moon King...no matter what it takes.
6. What excites you the most about this novel? Finally making a literal dream into a reality!
7. Is this going to be a series? Standalone? Something else? Standalone.
8. Are you plotting? Pantsing? Plansting? Totally Plansting. I wrote out a basic outline/list of plot-points I wanted for the story, but actually writing the actual story between the plot-points has proved...*interesting.* “Filler” always seems to have a mind of its own....
9. Name a few things that makes this story unique. Probably the fact that it’s a mash-up of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the Nutcracker Ballet, with nods to E.T.A Hoffmann’s original story. I’m weaving in bits from the live performances of the Ballet my family have seen, and scenes inspired by them (the interaction between Our Heroine and the Nephew/Apprentice in particular). Also, the Evil Queen in this retelling is the protagonist's aunt, not her step-mother, and the Fritz-character is her eldest cousin, not her brother. (Fun fact: In my dream, the Evil Queen/Queen of the Night actually was Starflower’s stepmother—she tricked the King into thinking the real Queen was dead so he’d marry her—but I decided that might be a bit...awkward...for a children’s story. And I just realized I gave y’all a spoiler. Aw well. ;-))
10. Share a fun “extra” of the story (a song or full playlist, some aesthetics, a collage, a Pinterest board, a map you’ve made, a special theme you’re going to incorporate, ANYTHING you want to share!). My Pinterest board for this book: ~Click Me!~
The Nutcracker Suite.* I listened to this several times while writing the Royal Christmas Party scene. I usually don’t listen to music while writing—the images conjured up move more quickly than my fingers can type!—but it was necessary to get the “feel” of the dances, and their basic chronology.
* We actually have this on CD, but I didn’t want to lug the player u pto my room. Plus my headphones have better sound, LOL. My only beef with this version is that it omits several of the Party Dances and the Waltz of the Snowflakes.
Enjoy some of my favorite snippets so far:

The Queen jumped and threw a saucy grin at her husband. “Ah! My lord, I did not hear you approach. Fie, for shame, to startle a woman with child.”
I’m certain you shall come to forgive me in time.” He kissed her tenderly. “As for our Small One yonder”—patting the Queen’s belly—“I would be very much surprised if it looked aught but how you’ve described, considering our own complexions.” He gave her dark locks a playful tug and pinched her rosy cheek as he spoke. “The real question will be whether God shall bless us with a fair daughter to inherit your soft curls and dark eyes, or a strapping son blessed with my manly physique.” He struck a heroic pose, meriting a laugh from the Queen.


But she’s so pretty, Uncle,” Liam protested. “That is—well, they do say she’s the fairest maiden in the kingdom. She’d never even look at a plain fellow like me.”
Pish-posh!” Herr Weisskopf chuckled. “You’re not so plain as you style yourself, my boy, and in any case, you’ve not done growing yet. Remember; every majestic oak-tree was once a spindly little sapling. Like them, you’ll soon grow out of your awkward stage and rise to become something better. Just keep telling yourself, ‘I am an oak-tree.’”


Starflower glared up at him. “I don’t want to dance with you, you great bully.” A tear slid down her cheek, and she hugged the nutcracker to her heart.
Fritz began to reply, extending his hand to her in a way that made her anxious.
Liam stepped protectively in front of her. “The Princess says she doesn’t want to dance with you,” he growled.
Fritz stopped short, eyes wide in astonished outrage.
Liam gulped, but stood firm.
Hold your tongue, little man,” Fritz sneered. “You forget yourself. Or do you not realize whom you are addressing?” He looked down his nose at Liam, head held high, his whole being radiating hauteur.
Liam lifted his chin. “I may not be of noble birth, mein herr,” he retorted, “but I’m more of a gentleman than you are.”


The air around her and Liam seemed to sparkle, and a blueish light shone about them. Liam suddenly jumped up and extended his hand, and to Staflower’s astonishment, she found herself taking it. She and Liam skipped and spun across the dance floor, waltzing in unison as though they’d been taking lessons together all their lives.
Princess!” Frau Ratzenburger’s sharp voice scolded.
The blue light disappeared. The sparkles vanished. Liam and Starflower halted in mid-step and stood looking at each other in confusion.

I don’t tag anyone, because the only two people left on the Blogosphere that I actually know have already done it. :-P Eagerly awaiting Parts Two and Three!

Until next time, Gentle Readers,
God bless,
~ℛ~

Friday, July 20, 2018

Treat or Tripe? | Miraculous




All pix via Pinterest

Now that we live in town and are out from under that crazy bandwidth cap, I’ve finally been able to check out a show I’ve been curious about for quite a while now (hurrah for YouTube). I started seeing pictures and fan-art for the French-Korean TV show Miraculous (also called Miraculous Ladybug) on Kendra’s Pinterest feed and quickly fell down the rabbit-hole of the Ladybug fandom. And now I finally know what all the hype is about (well, mostly...).

This is different than my previous “Treat or Tripe?” posts, as it deals with a series as a whole, not just one movie. And since it would be too tedious for words to analyze every episode separately, I’m just going to give my general impressions of the show. I’m assuming anyone reading this has already seen it, but in case you haven’t, be aware that beyond here be spoilers.

Overall, I like it. While it’s not as “deep” as Pixar or even some of Disney’s latest flicks, Miraculous does have some positive messages, and even a bit of food for thought if you scratch under the surface fluff (especially in Season One). Admittedly, I wasn’t sure about it, due to some rumors about some of the secondary characters...but having watched the show, it seems like you’d have to read A LOT into things to see it, and I doubt the target audience (7-12-year-olds, I believe) would even think along those lines. (And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you don’t want to, and I ain’t tellin’.) Of course, the fandom doesn’t consist mainly of grade-schoolers. Many teens and twenty-somethings enjoy the show, too.

Anton Argentos:
And one thirty-something. XD
You guys are so adorable. I love this show, and I was born in 1985. Do the math. ;-)

<_< Thank you for airing the family laundry.

*Wink*

(Save it for Isabella, Silver One. Now scat; I have a post to write.)

*Trots off to find Isabella*

Oy.
/HIJACK
The infamous "Love Square" of Miraculous :-P
Of course, I heard all about the infamous “Love Square” and wondered if my overly-romantic inner self could survive da feelz...but I find I’m not as into it as I thought I would be (well, not until “Glacinator,” but even still...). 
After watching the Origins episodes (which I saw after four or five regular episodes ’cos I figured the rest of the show would make more sense if I knew how it all began), I found myself rooting for Adrien to find friends after (we assume) a lifetime of isolation from other kids (except Chloé, ugh). Friends, not romance. Yet.
One of my favorite moments on the show--this lonely, isolated boy goes to public school to make some friends, and he gets his wish. :D (Be patient, Marinette, and enjoy the honor of being his friend for now. Love will come at just the right time. Don't put the noodles in until the water boils. ;-) )I can sympathize with Marinette’s unrequited crush on Adrien (or is it? >:-)), but I found myself wishing she’d realize what an awesome thing it is to be Adrien’s friend. Wishing she’d cool her jets, hold her horses, pull back a little, and just enjoy the friendship for a while. 
Be patient and trust that love will come when the time is right (after all, these kids are only FOURTEEN, so it’s not like they’re going to get married anytime soon). As Master Fu said, wait until the water boils to put the noodles in. ;-)


 (Speaking of which....)
One thing that I find unique and interesting about this show is the ancient Chinese twist. Being something of a jewelry artist, I love the fact that the superpowers come from magical jewelry. Probably not an original idea, but a fun one—especially since it looks like many of them represent the various animals in the Chinese Zodiac. Some might argue that the show is subtly pushing the Eastern/New Age philosophy, but I prefer to look at it mostly as mythology or urban fantasy.

If anyone were to ask me who’s my favorite character on the show, I’d have to say Adrien/Cat Noir (yes, I know it’s technically Chat Noir, but they say Cat on the English dub, so there you are. Why they didn’t go ahead and call him Black Cat in the English version, I’ll never know).
Adrien
 Adrien is such a gentleman, really. I especially love the fact that he’s not afraid to call Chloé out when she’s being mean (encouraging her to try and act better), or as Cat Noir, tell Ladybug when she’s being unreasonable, yet he does it without harsh accusations or yelling. Also, he has a strong sense of chivalry and fair play. I like that he takes fencing lessons, plays classical piano, and knows how to waltz (mind you, these were probably at his dad’s insistence, but on the whole, Adrien seems to enjoy them, and they are a part of who he is). All that to say, I love the slightly old-fashioned gentleman vibe this boy has, and how he makes it look “cool” rather than...well, old-fashioned. :-P As Cat Noir, he’s reckless and a notorious punster, but there’s still a bit of the chivalrous gentleman there...it’s just more playful than when he’s Adrien. Kitty is also a bit of a flirt and tries too hard to impress Ladybug...which of course just endears him to his fans all the more. (And on a personal note, I see a lot of my boy Anton in this Cat....)
LadyNoir in one picture. LOL
















Don’t get me wrong; I like Marinette, too. She’s cute and perky, creative and caring, helpful and supportive, and I love that she enjoys both fashion design and video games. A nice balance between “girly” and “nerdy.” I just find myself leaning more towards Adrien/Cat Noir.

Favorite secondary characters would be Alya, Nino, Juleka, Nathaniel, Max, and Markov.
 
Alya Césaire
Everyone needs a BFF like Alya. I love how positive and confident she is, always encouraging Marinette even while teasing her. Totally on board to help Marinette declare her feelings for Adrien...no matter how ridiculous her plans for doing so (see “Gigantitan”—ooh-ha!).

Nino Lahife
Nino is kind of a laid-back version of Alya—positive, supportive of his buddy...just not as impulsive or pushy as Alya tends to be. And can we take a moment to appreciate the fact that Nino is the only person (so far) to be akumatized because of righteous anger (or rather, what began as righteous anger), i.e. being angry because his best friend was being treated unfairly? 

filing_images_6865a9e13eec.jpg (200×200)
(Ironically enough, it's hard to find
good pix of Juleka....)
 
I mainly like Juleka because her favorite color is obviously purple 😊...and because nobody ever seems to hear or understand what I’m saying half the time, either. *Grunt* Quiet-voiced folk, UNITE!!! (“Stop shouting....”) /RANT 
Plus I like Midnights.† ^.^
Smiling Nathanael!
Is it just me, or does the emblem on his shirt
look like the Rebel Alliance logo from Star Wars?
 
And Nathanael...I mean, come on, he’s a redhead. ;-) (Actually, I kinda chuckle gleefully to myself over how many Flames* there are on this show.) But more than that, he’s quiet, sensitive, and artistic. In other words, not your typical rough-and-tumble or “macho” boy. Hopefully he’ll get more screentime/character development in later seasons.

†Midnight(s) = Collective term for black- or dark-haired people.
* Flame(s) = Collective term for red-haired person or persons. Coined in early 2018 as an alternative to the derrogatory-sounding "redhead" and "carrot-top," and the inaccurate "ginger."
~Tom's Dictionary of Whacked-out Terms and Old Family Sayings

Max is the typical computer nerd/boy genius-cum-inventor, which I think is really cool (especially since his best friend seems to be Kim, the class jock). And Markov is hands-down the cutest. Robot. EVER!
Max and Markov (Robostus - Episode 6 - Season 2)
Also, shoutout to Miss (Mrs.?) Bustier for her positive, caring attitude towards her students, and her efforts to help them with their troubles, and get them to treat each other nicely. Not to mention protecting Marinette from the akuma and initially resisting Hawkmoth’s influence. You go, girl. No matter everyone in your class (even Chloé!) loves you so much.

My biggest beefs and personal caveats with the show:

  • The rock ’n’ roll background/credits music, and the recurring theme of rock/pop stars. ’Cos I grew up with strong musical convictions, and heavy back-beat/loud music in general disturbs me. THAT SAID, it doesn’t detract from the main story that much and is easy enough to filter out or mute altogether.
  • More than one Transformation scene in one (20-minute) episode. Yeah, it’s cool and flashy and all, but come on; we don’t need to see it every time Adrien and Marinette have to become Cat Noir and Ladybug. It slows down the plot. (To the show’s credit, there’s a lot less of this in the latter part of Season One and what there is of Season Two. In fact, sometimes we don’t even see Cat’s transformation, or it’s modified.)
  • THE LIES! Just once, I’d like to see a show about teen superheroes where the kids actually take their parents/guardians into their confidence, and the parents are wise enough to keep the secret, and be a powerful support and source of wisdom for their super-kid. In that vein, it’s kind of ironic that Marinette/Ladybug is portrayed as hating lies and liars (“Liars are losers”), yet she continually lies to everyone around her...and not just about her secret identity, either.
  • All the singing in the Christmas Special. Don’t get me wrong; I grew up on Disney flicks, so I’m not opposed to singing in movies and such...but Miraculous isn’t that kind of show, so the singing felt out of character. Even Plagg sang. Plagg! And my childhood died when Santa Claws did his little number....
    I think it would have been much better with half the singing, and Plagg pulling a Flynn Rider and snarking, “What’s with all the singing?” and Adrien replying, “It’s Christmas.” :-P But I’m not sorry I watched it, for reasons listed in the Favorite Moments section....
  • I JUST REALIZED recently that Hawkmoth’s signature color is purple! AURGH! Why is purple always a villain color?! They’d better reform this guy in later seasons, or else give his Miraculous to someone who will use it properly (and treat poor little Nooroo better *hugs Nooroo*).
  • While skin-tight “super-suits” seem to be par for the course with superhero flicks, I’ a wee bit uncomfortable with them. Cat Noir’s isn’t so bad, as his suit has things like shoulder-pads/epaulets, boots, and his belt/“tail” to break it up visually. I kinda wish Ladybug’s suit had similar details, rather than being basically a second skin. Sometimes I feel they’re subtly making Ladybug a little too...but maybe that’s just my overly analytical mind reading more adult content where it doesn’t belong again. :-P *Bad Tom*

Things I love about the show (in no particular order):

Marinette and her parentsMarinette comes from a two-parent family who love each other dearly and support and encourage one another. It’s obvious Tom Dupain and Sabine Cheng are devoted to one another, and that Marinette enjoys spending time with them (especially her video game-playing dad). A refreshing element for a kids’ show.

  • Friendship, teamwork, loyalty, and love are highly valued.
  • While Ladybug and Cat Noir do their share of fighting with the villains, instead of killing them (too heavy for a kids’ show, after all) or throwing them in jail, they deal with the root cause of their villainy and free them from Hawkmoth’s evil influence. I also love that Ladybug has the power to put things back to normal after the battle is over (how many times have they toppled the Eiffle Tower on this show?!). Our Heros’ main focus—besides saving Paris and capturing akumas—is helping people. Ladybug often gives the victims a word of affirmation or encouragement afterwards.
  • Marinette is willing to admit when she’s in the wrong and does her best to make it right.
  • The fact that Marinette’s circle of friends encompass so many types of people, yet they all enjoy doing things together and repeatedly support and stand of for each other.

Favorite moments:
  • Cat Noir jumping in front of Ladybug to protect her from Timebreaker. He basically died for his lady. (But of course he didn’t stay dead because...Temporal Mechanics. ;-))
  • Ladybug giving Cat chin-scritches (“Good job, Kitty!”)
  • Ladybug basically organizing a “garbage band” to sing Mylene’s favorite song to help de-akumatize her. (CAT NOIR: Seriously, “smelly wolf”?! [My thoughts exactly, Kitty, LOL]) And all her friends being willing to pitch in and save their friend.
  • Ladybug chasing Cat Noir and calling, “Here, Kitty-kitty-kitty!” LOL!
  • Cat Noir licking himself just like a real cat, after Ladybug dumped his hypnotized self in the Seine. Ooh-hah!
  • Basically any time Cat Noir does anything like a real cat. XD
  • Pretty much Hawkmoth’s entire interaction with “Gigantitan.” (Seriously, Hawkmoth? Did you really think it would work to akumatize a baby?!)
  • Hawkmoth’s “I have made a terrible mistake” moments when akumatizing little kids (or robots with the mentality of little kids, LOL).
  • Cat Noir’s solo in the Christmas Special. Seriously, this bit contains some of the deepest Adrien/Cat Noir character development on the show prior to Season Two. And somehow, putting his angst and loneliness into song made it that much stronger. (“Im alone, like a cat in the night!”) The first of several moments from that point on where I just wanted to give Kitty a big hug. And when his anger culminates into “I’ll take your symbol of Christmas and burn it to the ground!” I’m sitting there thinking, “No, Cat! Don’t do it—don’t do it!” at the same time wondering what would happen if a Miraculous holder used his powers for evil, even though he isn’t akumatized. Then suddenly—Mom.
    It’s evident he loved his mother and misses her terribly, but I think this scene also indicates that she loved Christmas and made it a special time for him and his father. In that one brief second, he realizes he can’t go through with it, because it would have dishonored his mother’s memory.
    And that, friends, is when Cat Noir became my favorite character on the show.
    😊
  • The “Balcony Scene.” Wow—now I know why this is such a fave in the fandom. So many feels here, and so cool to see “the sensitive side of Cat Noir” (to quote Tikki). I found it interesting that he’d seek out Marinette for comfort after his disappointment. My theory is that, by this time, he realizes how kind and supportive Marinette is, and feels comfortable talking to her.
  • Pretty much all of “Befana.” Such a fun episode all-round!
  • Hawkmoth pleading with Adrien to transform after Adrien jumps off a building. He’s obviously terrified he’s mistaken about his son being Cat Noir, and that he’ll lose him. Shows the guy actually does care about his son after all.
  • Gabriel and Adrien watching the movie with Mrs. Agreste in the leading role.
  • Gabriel playing a piano duet with Adrien. Makes me wonder if he’ll reform eventually....
  • Kim asking Ondine on a date. Maybe the dude finally got it through his noggin that Chloé isn’t worth his affections...?
  • The fact that Chloé still treasures her favorite toy from childhood...and based her personal style on it! (Seriously—the bear is yellow with rhinestone buttons for eyes and has a black-and-white-striped tummy! Compare it to Chloé’s outfit and see if I’m right. ;-))
  • Chloé’s confession near the end of “Zombizou.” Wow, serious character development there.
  • Nino staying with Alya, even though he knew she’d turn into a zombie any moment and infect him.
  • Cat Noir driving a bus. Because *of course* a fourteen-year-old knows how to drive. XD
  • Marinette’s “date” with Nathanael (OK, technically he was The Evillustrator at that point, but whatever). So stinkin’ cute.

And a bunch more I’ve forgotten, but that’s enough. ;-P
I’m thinking of doing a couple more Miraculous-themed posts—one on my favorite and least-favorite episodes (the former of which will be hard, as most of them are pretty good), and perhaps a bit of fan-theory. If anyone’s interested, of course. No sense putting out all that effort if no one wants to read it, wot?

*EDIT* I was going to mention some Biblical/Christian parallels I saw in the show (which I'm sure were purely unintentional, as this is a secular show, after all)...but this fellow pretty much said most of what I had in mind, so check it out!

What are some of your favorite things about Miraculous? Any beefs? Shall I do some more MLB-related posts? If you haven’t seen the show yet, why not?

Friday, April 27, 2018

30 Day Song Challenge | Day 27: Song You Wish You Could Play

Träumerei (“Reverie”) by Robert Schumann. One of my favorite piano pieces! I tried to learn it many moons ago…but piano music is hard for me to read. And my hands are tiny. So I’ll just leave it to the professionals and enjoy listening….

Thursday, April 26, 2018

30 Day Song Challenge | Day 26: Song You Can Play on an Instrument

Having a music major for a mother (and a father who had latent-but-never-developed musical talent), I couldn’t very well escape having some musical talent myself. Which meant playing or singing with the family and/or various groups through the years.

My dad taught me the basics of how to play the soprano recorder when I was nine, and now I play all but the tenor and bass (tiny hands :-P). One of my favorite songs to play on the alto recorder is “Masters in This Hall,”* as I have a liking for Medieval/Renaissance music, and it’s one of the few pieces I can play by memory.

Several years ago, the community chorale we were in performed this song for our Christmas concert, at which time I learned it told the story of Jesus’ birth, making it one of my favorite lesser-known Christmas carols. 😊

* Note: This is not the arrangement we sang with the chorale, but it was the best I could find.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

30 Day Song Challenge | Day 25: Song that Makes You Laugh

To be honest, very little makes me actually LOL...but several things can at least elicit a smile or a chuckle, and “The Llama Song” is one of them. Many moons ago now, one of my cyber-friends and fellow message-board members (writing under the screenname of Crazed Celt) posted the link to this crazy video, and I was hooked. I think she also said their family had this as their answering machine message....

Ahh, fun times....