Sunday, November 12, 2017

Treat or Tripe? | Beauty and the Beast (2017)

*WARNING: Long post!*

Tale as old as time,
Tune as old as song.
Bitter-sweet and strange,
Finding you can change,
Learning you were wrong….

(Admit it, you were singing it in your head. 😊)

I didn’t want to see this movie.

Well, actually, right at first…OK, I was a little skeptical (par for the course with any new movie, even when it interests me). Remakes are always ticklish, and admittedly, a basically straight-up remake of Disney’s classic animated movie…well, it sounded a bit “milk-the-old-cash-cow”ish. But hey, nostalgia. I grew up with this story—and I’ve often wondered how it would do as a live-action—so like the rest of the Disney fandom, I eagerly awaited the release…not to see it in theaters…but to read the Christian reviews.

Oh my GOSH.

They did WHAT?!

They did THAT? In THIS movie?

BAM! Childhood ruined.

Thanks a heap, Disney. I am NEVER seeing this flick.

I am speaking, of course, of Disney’s decision to push the LGTBQ (RST…XYZ…MC-squared…“Alphabet Soup” :-P) agenda and make Lefou their token “gay” character (I still can’t quite can’t believe I’m writing this about Beauty and the Beast…). I was shocked, angry, heartsick, disgusted—dazed, even. And although the initial knee-jerk reaction has worn off into a sort of cynical acceptance, it still sickens me, not only that Disney caved in to the current societal pressure, but that they chose to do it with one of their classic works. I can accept that this sort of thing is coming—that sin is becoming more and more accepted in society at large, and that it will eventually creep into more and more movies. But if it must happen, I do wish Disney had waited to push that garbage in some other story and left this one—which so many of us have grown up with and loved since childhood—alone.

So why did I break my initial “vow” never to touch the new B&B with a ten-foot pole, and see it anyhow? Because there was (to use a legal term) reasonable doubt. Some of the commenters on Christian Spotlight declared the “gay” content didn’t detract from the main story. That it wasn’t as bad as people made it out to be, and that the rest of the movie was good.
And then my mother saw the last fifteen minutes or so while visiting my aunt and cousin in California this Summer, and said it was pretty good. She didn’t pick up on the “gay” aspect…because she didn’t know it was supposed to be there. It made us curious if all the fuss in the Christian community was just that—a lot of fuss.
So we stuck it in the NetFlix queue.

As far as the whole “gay” thing goes, there are really only one or two “uncomfortable” moments (Bro’s description), but overall, it’s very, very subtle, and if I hadn’t known Lefou was supposed to be a queer, most of his antics and lines that could be taken that way would just come off as goofy with a dash of “Wait, what?” Peter described it as “trying too hard to be funny.”
On the flip-side, I liked the other aspects of Lefou’s character development in this version. In the cartoon, Lefou was just Gaston’s goofy, caricatured, “whatever-Gaston-says-goes” little sidekick. In the cartoon, he was on Gaston’s team, so he was a bad guy. End of story. In this version, though, Lefou is a bit more complicated—a bit less black-and-white. As the movie progresses, he goes from hero-worshiping Gaston to becoming increasingly conflicted with his best friend’s actions, until he’s finally so disillusioned that he essentially turns against him. His line in “Kill the Beast” illustrates his growing inner conflict: “There’s a beast on the loose, there’s no question/But I fear the wrong monster’s released.” He’s seeing Gaston for who—and what—he really is: A self-centered, unfeeling “monster” who will stop at nothing to get what he wants, no matter who gets hurt.
In some ways, this was an improvement over the original character, and I really wish Disney had left it at that, rather than Doing The Thing.

What is more in-your-face, in my opinion, is the man who, when the Wardrobe dresses him up in women’s clothes, looks ridiculously pleased.
That, and the dog…um…marking his territory…on the hat stand’s foot…while the latter is turning back into a human. Totally ruined the moment.
*Eyeroll* Come on, Disney….
/RANT

I always knew that, if B&B were a live-action production, it would definitely earn a PG rating (in fact, I sometimes wonder if the cartoon shouldn’t have had that rating), given some of the dark and intense moments in the film. And those elements are darker and even more intense when rendered in live-action and realistic CGI (I actually kept forgetting that the Beast, the wolves, and the animated bric-a-brac weren’t real).
Personal caveat: Real wolves don’t viciously attack people unless they’re rabid or starving. Wolves get such a bad rap in stories anyhow, but the ones in B&B (both versions) are especially menacing. These ones, though, were even more so, and I felt their leader having that nasty scar over one eye was a bit over the top.  Bro’s theory is that, since the woods around the Beast’s castle were cursed,  perhaps the curse affected the wolves who lived there in some way.
Whatever the reason, the wolf-scenes (especially the Beast’s fight with them) are ten times more intense than in the cartoon. For this reason alone, I wouldn’t let anyone under ten see this movie, and even then, not without an adult present.
That said, there is no gore whatever—the Beast’s wounds look more like a bad sunburn under his fur than anything else. But it’s still hard to watch.

The Beast’s confrontation with Gaston is also ramped up a bit—mainly, again, due to being live-action. Having Gaston shoot the Beast in the back four times seemed overly vicious…but then, that’s Gaston. He figured if he couldn’t have Belle, at least the Beast wouldn’t, either. Plus the original knife-in-the-ribs thing probably would have jacked up the rating to a PG-13. Which would have been really sad.

At one point, the Beast tells Belle that he “received eternal damnation” for a rose, and when he catches Belle looking at that very (enchanted) rose, he shouts at her, “You could have damned us all!”
I don’t feel he’s swearing here—he’s using the word in its (mostly) proper sense…sort of. He feels the life he’s brought on himself (and all who live in his castle) is a living Hell, and he sees no way out of it (hence, “eternal”). His chance at restoration—and indeed, his servants’ very lives—are connected with the Rose, so if Belle had damaged it in any way, she would have sealed the Beast’s fate…and essentially killed everyone else in the castle.
But it still seems like rather strong wording for a family movie.

Personal observation/musing: When the last petal falls from the Rose, the Beast dies in Belle’s arms…and in this version, all his servants turn into lifeless furniture and knick-knacks. It isn’t until after this happens that Belle sobs, “I love you.” And it is at that moment that the Enchantress enters the room…and  lifts the curse.
Technically, she didn’t have to. The arrangement was, after all, for the Beast to earn the love of another by the time the last petal fell, and the last petal had already fallen before Belle’s declaration. But an Enchantress who could look into the Prince’s heart and find no love, surely could look into Belle’s heart and see that the Beast had earned Belle’s love long before she said it in words—before the last petal even wilted.
An interesting twist on this familiar and iconic scene, to be sure.

Admittedly, there were a lot of things that took some adjusting to, apart from the obvious live-action-versus-hand-drawn-animation. Little things, and not faults in anyway; just different.
While Emma Thompson’s Cockney (?) accent seems a bit forced (she doesn’t quite have Angela Lansbury’s soft, grandmotherly quality), her voice-acting and singing are pretty spot-on. And Ewan MacGregor does a good job of filling the late Jerry Orbach’s candlesticks.

Some of the familiar scenes are tweaked just enough that they’re different from the cartoon—sometimes for the better; other times, it made them fall flat by comparison. But they didn’t really harm the movie, on the whole. The exception is the scene where the Beast tells his servants he’s released Belle. When Cogsworth blurts out, “But why?!” it is Mrs. Potts who answers, “Because he loves her.” I felt this undermined the significance of the moment—robbed the Beast of confirming in words what he’s shown in actions: He has finally learned to love. I was also disappointed with the Magic Mirror. OK, I can understand their changing its appearance from frosted glass to heavily-modeled gold (there’s a lot of gilding in this movie)…but the looking-glass part looked tarnished around the edges and made images in it hard to see.

On the positive side, much of the bickering between Cogsworth and Lumiere is either toned down or cut out completely, which was nice. Sure, Lumiere teases and pokes fun at Cogsworth now and then, but overall they get along better. In fact, Cogsworth tells Lumiere, “It was an honor to serve with you.” To which Lumiere replies, “The honor was all mine.”

An interesting change from the original is that the one man in town who encourages Belle’s love of reading is the village priest, and his “library” is considerably smaller than the bookshop of the cartoon. It was interesting that Disney would take that route, especially considering the general anti-church attitudes in the world today.

Another change is that Belle asks her father to bring her a rose when he returns from…wherever he’s going (they don’t tell us in this version). Maurice, after nervously enjoying a good dinner at the Beast’s table, remembers Belle’s request upon seeing some roses blooming in the Beast’s garden—despite everything being frozen over…in June—and picks one to take to her. Little does he know, the Beast is watching from the shadows, and is none too pleased at this “theft.”
This is taken from the original fairytale—which my six-year-old self noticed immediately to be missing from the cartoon upon my first viewing—and it was neat to see it reinstalled in the live-action.

I’ll admit I wasn’t too thrilled with Disney’s choice for casting Belle, and I’ll own it was partly due to the fact that the other movies Emma Watson’s been in are on my Don’t Watch list.
Not to be mean, or anything, but to my eye, she didn’t really fit the image of Belle. Her acting also fell a bit flat in places, and I think it would have been better if Disney had hired someone to sing for her. Paige O’Hara might have been a little nasally now and then, but at least she had a good voice. I honestly can’t say whether Emma Watson has a good voice or not, as her singing was so heavily processed that it had an almost metallic edge to it in parts, which was rather distracting.

That said, the music—taken directly from the original cartoon and tweaked a little here and there—is superb. All the old favorites are there, with some of the lyrics cut out and new ones added, plus four new songs that give us a deeper look into the characters’ backstories. Really, this movie is almost an operetta.

I vaguely remember hearing good things about the Beast’s solo, “Evermore,” and when I actually heard it…WOW. Just…WOW
Honestly, Dan Stevens has to have the best voice in the whole cast.
Musically, it reminds me a little of “All I Ever Wanted” from Dreamworks’ Prince of Egypt, with a lot of emotional and visual similarities to “Out There” from Hunchback. Parts of it have a slight Phantom of the Opera flavor, too.
 “Evermore” is hauntingly beautiful, evoking a plethora of emotions and images in just over three minutes. My only beef is that it’s too short. It feels cut off, like it needs a couple more lines in the verses (and one or two more verses) to round it out.
It’s an oddly uplifting song, considering Belle has literally just left the castle, taking with her (as far as the Beast knows) all hope of breaking the curse. Even as he “rage[s] against the trials of love” and “curse[s] the fading of the light,” even as he accepts that the rest of his life will consist of “long, long nights” and “wasting in my lonely tower,” still under his curse, he still has Belle’s memory  and his love for her in his heart, and he’s grateful for it, and for the fact that, for a time, light did shine into his dark and lonely life. It’s as if he takes comfort in the fact that, twisted, cruel, selfish, and angry as he was, he was able to learn to love someone besides himself, and find the joy and beauty in life again. As if he’s happy just to have known Belle, to have had her in his life, and now her memory will “still inspire me/ Be a part of everything I do.” It was intriguing to have a glimpse of the Beast’s thoughts and feelings during this scene, and “Evermore” became my new favorite Disney song almost overnight…right on the heels of the afore-mentioned “Out There.”

This version fleshed out the characters a bit more—gave them more back story, thereby giving us a better idea of who they are and why they act the way they do. It answers a few questions the original left us asking—why Belle and Maurice came to the “little town” (which, BTW, is an even further departure from the fairy tale, but it totally works with how they’ve set up the story). Why no one in the village seems to have any knowledge of a CASTLE in the middle of the wood not five miles from their town. Why the Beast’s servants are still patient with and loyal to him, even though, as Belle points out, he’s basically responsible for their being cursed, even though they “did nothing” to deserve it, as he did. It even gives us a small glimpse into what happened to the Prince’s parents, and how he became “selfish and unkind to others.”

I’ll admit that I never cared for the Beast in the original movie—probably because he was rather loud and overdramatic. This incarnation has his tantrums, but they feel less explosive. This version’s Beast is more relatable. More human, even. One can better “see” the man behind the fur.
The movie delves deeper into the chemistry between him and Belle, which is at times humorously awkward, and later tender and endearing. This version showed me what Belle saw in the Beast…and made me love him, too. Or at least promote him to my Favorite Fictional Characters list. 😉

Perhaps my favorite addition (well, one of them) is the “travelling book” the Beast shows Belle—a magical book that will transport one anywhere in the world. While this, and the scene played out after its introduction, are a huge departure from the original fairytale, it totally worked, and provided so much wonderful character development, as well as a look at Belle’s past.
(Fun fact: If you watch Hunchback carefully, you’ll see Belle strolling through the street-scene in “Out There.” In this movie, the Book takes Belle and the Beast to Paris, with the cathedral of Notre Dame in view. Don’t know if Disney did that on purpose, but it was kinda cool anyhow!)

The costumes in this version are slightly more historically accurate, but with some whimsical details (on Belle’s frocks especially) that bump it into the “Fantasy” category. I was a bit disappointed in Belle’s peasant costume, as it sports a low neckline that shows some cleavage when she bends over—a sad departure from the beautifully modest (if rather modernly styled) original. On the up-side, though, her famous gold/yellow ballgown, while still sleeveless and low-cut, at least covers her shoulders and isn’t as shockingly low as the cartoon.

*EDIT 12-8-17*
Forgot to mention this originally, but it popped into my head the other day:
One of Lumiere's lines in "Be Our Guest" has been changed from Ten years we've been rusting... to Far too long we've been rusting..., which make the time factor a bit more ambiguous.
At the very beginning, the Prince is shown to be a young man (18 or 19 perhaps) when the Enchantress casts her spell. This fact, coupled with the afore-mentioned lyrics change, make a bit more sense; instead of punishing an eleven-year-old boy for being rude (which is really his parents' fault as much as his), she's showing a young man (who is basically an adult and therefore accountable for his behavior) that there are consequences to one's actions.

So, is the live-action remake better than the animated film? No.
Is it worse than its predecessor? No.
It’s a trade-off. The cartoon will always be a classic, and the remake will never completely replace it. The live-action lacks some of the charm, and is a bit darker and more serious (therefore not quite as “fun” as the original), but it has more depth. Yes, it has its issues—what movie doesn’t, especially ones made by worldly-minded filmmakers?—but they don’t “hijack” the movie. The main focus of the story is Belle and the Beast’s relationship, which is deeper, sweeter, and stronger for having more background and screen time. I’d make so bold as to say that that and “Evermore” alone make it worth wading through a bit of tripe.

The original was actually pretty “deep” for a cartoon, and I enjoyed it growing up. It’s great for kids and their families…but some of it fails to satisfy as one gets older. The remake takes that depth a step further and provides a slightly more mature portrayal. If it weren’t for the aforementioned tripe Disney felt they had to insert into this story (however subtle), this might become my favorite B&B retelling. I don’t think I could buy the DVD in good conscience, as that would feel like condoning that agenda. But I wouldn’t mind renting it every now and then.


What about you, Gentle Readers? What are your thoughts about this movie? Share them in the comment box!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

[Belated] Quote Queste | My Real Name




This is abominably late—Arielle posted this challenge back in March—but like the man said, Life is what happens when you’re making other plans. :P But the theme has been pottering around my brain and won’t go away, so I decided to give it a go. The quote:
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/44/cc/d3/44ccd3a697364889dd114ea46ba52288.jpg
Again, the real challenge was thinking up a good scene to feature this idea. I was going to do it with Prince Nácil and Lady Müriel…but that wasn’t going anywhere, so I wrote it with Tom and Ember instead.
A bit of background on this scene: Tom and Ciaran have just come to live in Glenwood Forest with Gil the Green and his band of Yeomen, but the Glenwood Orphan Home is full, so Mother Túla decides to have Tom live in an empty cottage with a few other young ladies, with a Yeomaiden who is of age to be “den-mother.” This scene takes place while they’re getting the cottage cleaned up and set up for its new inmates.

* * *
     Tom slipped away from the group, overwhelmed with shyness and the bustle of putting the cottage in order. She sought sanctuary in the lovely deep window seat in the sitting-room, clutching her bundle to her chest like a lifeline. Anton and Ciaran and some of the bigger boys from the orphan home carried bed-frames up the stairs amid Mother Túla’s admonitions to be careful. A few of the older girls whisked the covers off the furniture and shook off the dust in clouds, while one or two attacked it with feather-dusters and beeswax.
     Tom knew she ought to help out, but the sitting-room seemed so small, she feared she would only get in the way. And the thought of trying to converse with strange girls made her cringe. What’s the matter with me? she chided herself. I spent six months aboard a shipful of dirty, smelly, foul-mouthed pirates, and survived. Why am I suddenly terrified of a handful of nice girls only five years younger an myself—more or less? She sighed. But then, I never did get on with my peers, she recalled cynically, and as for the pirates—well, I had to act braver than I felt and not show weakness, otherwise I wouldn’t have survived.
     One of the girls—the willowy one with a mane of fiery, kinky-curly locks—spotted Tom, cocked her head with a thoughtful tilt of the mouth, and strode purposefully up to her. “I take it you’ve no love for housekeeping, neither,” she chuckled wryly, with a lovely soft Gaelic accent.
     “Er—well, no, actually,” Tom flubbed, unprepared for such a statement. “But I suppose I ought to help instead of—”
     “Och, never mind that,” the girl drawled, tossing a chunk of curls over her shoulder. “T’others can handle it. What say I give you a tour o’ the garden? ’Twill be much more pleasant than being shut up in this stuffy house.”
     Tom didn’t think the interior of the Rambling Rose so very stuffy—crowded, perhaps, just now, but not stuffy. On the other hand, she did long to examine the lovely flowers she’d seen growing in the yard….
     “Come on,” the redhead prodded, offering her hand. “They’ll not be needing us; there’s too many folk in here anyhow.”
     Tom rose, nodding, and timidly took the other girl’s hand.
     The red-haired girl fairly skipped out the door, dragging the still-reluctant Tom behind her. When they reached the front lawn, the girl dropped Tom’s hand and took a deep breath, closing her eyes in delight. “Ah, that’s better,” she remarked. “Too much dust swirling about in there. I’m Ember, by-the-bye,” she added, smiling at Tom. “Ember MacTavish.”
     “Tom—er, Fiona Godwyn,” Tom flubbed, mentally kicking herself for her slip-up.
     The Ember-girl raised an eyebrow. “Tom?”
     Tom sighed. “It’s…complicated. But I’d rather not discuss it. It—it might be…dangerous…for anyone to know my real name for a while.”
     “Dangerous, eh?” Ember chuckled, “’Tis exciting, that sounds! Yours must be an interesting story, for you to be having a boy’s name, and for it to be dangerous for anyone to know why.”
     “It’s short for Thomasina,” Tom explained reluctantly, “but I hate it.”
     “I don’t blame you,” Ember chuckled. “Fiona suits you better.” She grinned broadly. “I think we’re going to be good friends, you an’ I,” she declared.
     Tom blinked, torn between a half-second of panic and a sort of startled delight at this unexpected statement. “How do you know?” she asked timidly. “You don’t even know my real name—or much of anything about me.”
     “I’ve been watching you, I have, an’ I like you, Tommy-lass. And I don’t say that to just anybody.” She extended her hand. “Put ’er there.”
     Tom shook the offered hand with a feeling of being granted a special honor. She fought down the uncertainty that always accompanies a new friendship and smiled at Ember. “Thank you.”
     “For what, then?”
     Tom bit her lip. “For wanting me for a friend.”

* * *
As always, feel free to offer any suggestions/criticisms. It’s not quite how I wanted it, but I don’t know how to fix it. :-P

Until next time, Gentle Readers,
God bless,

~R~

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Great Overhaul Tag!

First off, today at 1:00 p.m….

MY BABY BROTHER TURNED THIRTY!!!

*Confetti*

So Happy Birthday to my favorite brother! :-D

Now to the point of this post.


It’s tag time again, Gentle Readers! Kendra is overhauling her “bookshelf” and running a giveaway—

Why are you writing that? Anyone who reads your blog already knows. *Eyeroll*

Who let you out of your cage?!

*Sulky sideways sneer* Ask that crazy Elf chick in the yellow toga who’s obsessed with glitter-bombs and confetti-floofs. :-P

Pixie….

*Silvery laugh* Every living Creature deserves to be free.

UGH.
So anyhoo, Kendra’s set up this loverly little tag to fill out while she’s busy overhauling.

Quit nattering and cut to the chase.

I’ll chase YOU right back in your cage, you bad imp! Scram!

*Gremlin scrams*

*Snort* Now, then….

1. How long have you been following Knitted By God's Plan and how did you find me? At least three or four years—maybe longer. And I honestly don’t remember how I found your blog. Seems like I’ve just always been here, reading your posts and enjoying your style and sense of humor. :-D
2. If you've read any of my books, which? And which are your favorites? If you haven't read any, which are you most interested in? I’ve read the first three Bookania Quests, The Ankulen, Saffron’s Big Plan, The Prior Quest, The Derao, Frogs, Tears and Laughter; Water Princess Fire Prince, and Lady Dragon Tela Du. Also the first several chapters of It’s SciFi, People! and Cayra.
3. If you could redesign any of my covers, how would it look? Feel free to photoshop something, or just describe it. I have a dream
She’s got a DREAM!!!

ANTON!
Ahem. I’d like to make some fan-art covers for the Rizkaland Legends eventually. Something like this…



…but more polished. The Kastle is all wrong, and I should reverse Clara’s and Andrew’s positions, since she was in Upper Klarand and he was in Lower Klarand initially. Need to find a pic of Andrew with a cleaner face, too (but it was the only I could find with him smiling). I’m pretty proud of Amber hiding in the corner, though….
4. Of my WIP's, which are you most eager for me to finish and publish? Just off the top of my head, Worth of a King, Half-Hidden, Collinda and the Swan’s Secret, The Trilogy of One, Mermaid Footprints, Infiltration, It’s SciFi, People!; HaV Academy, Sing, Aling; The Mikada Chronicles, Tales of Ooladada (sp?), and Fire and Song. I mean, they all sound interesting, but those are the ones that jump out at me.
5. Which of my Pinterest Storyboards do you find the most intriguing? The ones relating to your WIPs, the “Would Make Great Cover Art” board, and the one with fun facts and clever tips and such.
6. Pick a fairy tale and tell me how you would like to rewrite it. I once had an idea for One-eye, Two-eyes, and Three-eyes…only instead of three sisters, they were three rag dolls our heroine finds in an old attic, that come to life when she utters a special chant…. *Shrug* That, or something to do with Snow White and Rose Red.
7. Recommend a book for me to read. The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen, if you haven’t. Seriously my favorite Lloyd Alexander to date! Also check out The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. Such a sweet, delightful story, very well written, with a surprisingly (mostly) balanced reverence for God and elements of fantasy woven throughout, and lots of happy endings and loose ends neatly tied up. It’s like The Secret Garden, only longer. Go read it!
8. If you and I were stranded together on a desert island, how long do you think that we would survive? It would depend on two things: How well we could work out personality differences so we didn’t kill each other (I can be a perfect…cat…in one of my Moods….), and if I could keep bananas down if that was all that grew on said island. :-P
9. What is a project that you're working on that you can't wait to release into the world? My Ýdára fantasy series and its spin-offs! I can’t wait to give you-all a “proper” introduction to Victor and Jane and Robert, and Harold and Elsie, and Lady Müriel, and Walter and Owen, Shasta and Sierra, and Huckle, and the Dragons, and Sítára, and Pearla the Unicorn, and Lady Silvertongue, and Gil the Green and his band of Yeomen (and -maidens), and Pádma and Fintána, and of course the Heirs of Dunsmüir, who currently comprise most of the Peanut Gallery on the ol’ blog….
10. What is a burning question that you have for me? Will you come and visit me someday? I’ll make popcorn! :-D Or perhaps I could visit you? In which case I’ll bring the popcorn. :-D

Well, that was fun, as always. Best wishes to Kendra as she ploughs through her overhauling. I’m sure her hard work will pay off!

Until next time, Gentle Readers,
God bless,

~R~

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Randomness….

In lieu of actual blog post content (and until I can get my big Real Life Update post hammered out), some random thoughts from the mind of R. R. Goodwill:

~Quote of the Week~
So Mom and I were making supper, and she was shredding beets with the attachment on our mixer. A slice of beet got stuck between the plastic chute and the shredder and made a loud SQUEEEEEAK.
ME: *Chuckles* The screaming beet. …Actually, that pretty much accurately describes Rock ’n’ Roll.
MOM: “Squeak”?
ME: The Screaming Beat.
MOM: *Laughs*

~Conversations in my head~

I should totally learn Gaelic.

Aye, for sure! Erin go braugh!

Um, sweetie, you’re not Irish.

I am so!

OK, true, but you’re also Scottish, technically.

*Plays “Scotland the Brave” on bagpipes*

*Sigh*
AS I WAS SAYING….
I should totally learn Gaelic. No one can hear me when I talk anyhow. Then I could be going about muttering random junk like, “I want frozen yogurt,” or “Monkeys don’t like walnuts,” and if people asked me what I said, I could repeat it in Gaelic. And when they asked, “What does that mean?” I could smile impishly and reply, “Wouldn’t you like to know!” or, “That would be tellin’.”

Anka, you need a Tumblr account, not a weblog.

What? And have my thoughts posted in public??

Um…isn’t your blog public? I mean, you don’t have it in Protection Mode like you did your Xanga account, so…. *Shrug*

Ha! If all the Internet were an interactive, highly-detailed map of the world, my little blog would be a pin-prick on the coffee table.
In some old granny’s attic. :-P

Did you just call Blogger an old attic?

* * *
And just for laughs and giggles, a few of my favorite snippets from some of my WIPs. Ones without a book title attached are ones I’m still figuring out where they belong in the timeline. Ahh, the joys of non-linear inspiration….
(All pictures via Pinterest)
Enjoy:

     Another door opened down the hall, and a lady with bobbed silvery hair poked her head out. “What on earth is that racket downstairs?” she asked, adjusting her large, black-rimmed spectacles. “And what’s all this I hear about burglars?”
     “They—they’re trying to break down the door, Lillian!” Mrs. Daley wailed, running up to her with the poker in hand.
    “Then they must be rather stupid burglars,” Lillian quipped. “Thieves generally don’t alert their intended victims that they’re about to break into the house; they use lock-picks. You know that, Alice Daley.”
     “Oh—yes—of course,” Mrs. Daley gulped. “I—I just forgot. I haven’t my full senses at night.”
~Prince Nácil


     Jason smiled sheepishly, his face as hot as the sizzling bacon on the table, and held out the wildflowers. “Happy Birthday,” he squeaked in almost-perfect Gaelic.
"You told me to take time to smell the flowers!" *Inhales aggressively* "ACHOO!":      Ember blinked, still squinting, a few seconds as her groggy brain gradually processed his words. Then she beamed at him and took the flowers happily. “Oh!” she crowed. “Oh! ’Tis my birthday—of course! Thank’ee, boy-o; that was sweet of you to remember.” Then, smiling impishly, she practically shoved her face in the bouquet and inhaled their fragrance aggressively.
     “What are you doing?” Jason cried.
     “You told me to take time to smell the flowers,” she explained. Then she sneezed violently, scattering pollen and loose petals in his face.
~Jason Windrider



Iceheart:      “Henceforth, you are no longer my sister, but my enemy—a traitor to our people. You may style yourself as Queen of the Fae, O Krystála, but my allegiance is to Prince Nácil, and in his name I shall fight you.”
     Lady Krystála threw her head back and laughed heartily. “You?” she sneered. “What power do you possess to fight me, little Müriel? You who cannot cast a spell without the aid of your silly wand? You who tremble at every raised voice and loud noise? And as for your precious Prince Nácil,” she continued, narrowing her eyes and smirking, “he is as good as dead. He has suffered a mortal sorrow—”
     “—which you yourself inflicted upon him!” Müriel shouted.
“...Iceheart I name you, for you are cold as the winds upon the snow-capped mountains, with a heart as hard and pitiless as stone.” ~Lady Müriel:      “—and we all know that even the High-elves cannot last long in such a state,” Lady Krystála continued, ignoring her interruption. “He will die in the World of Men, and Ýdára shall be purged of Othniel’s line. Or, should he be foolish enough to return hither, he shall die regardless. Do not put your hope in him, little girl; he will not return.”
     Müriel started hard at her, a frown of anger, hurt and sorrow weighing down her countenance. “You are well named Krystála,” she said, “for its root—krystalos—means ‘ice’ in the tongues of Men. When they first beheld rock quartz, they believed it to be ice that was permanently frozen—as is your heart. Therefore Iceheart I name you, for you are cold as the winds upon the snow-capped mountains, with a heart as hard and pitiless as stone.”
~Rise of Iceheart



     “Ugh,” Tom snorted, wrinkling her nose; “love-letters are such slush—nothing but a bucketful of pure, sloppy, maple-syrup-infused, sentimental slush!”
     “Have you got enough adjectives there, Tommy-lass?” Ember snickered.
     “I daresay I’ve used up my quota for one sentence,” Tom smirked, “but seriously! Why can’t folk talk sensibly when they’re in love? If I wrote Ciaran and called him ‘my precious darling,’ he’d laugh his head off. Or think I’d gone daft. I never called him such silly names before I discovered I loved him; why should I do it afterwards? And if he was sappy enough to give me such an epitaph,” she concluded, “I’d call him a numpty.”

Numpty--Gaelic for "useless, bumbling idiot":
Scottish Gaelic



     “Tell you what,” Anton replied, sliding a comforting arm about Jason’s shoulders, “if you’re killed, I’ll guard your body ’till the fighting is over. Then I’ll have you burned and take your ashes to the Elves, and I’ll have them use them to make a precious gem. Then I’ll take your and Ember’s swords and have a sword maker combine them into a whacking-great claymore, and I’ll set the hilt with the gem made from your remains. I’ll give the thing to Ember, and she can find the people who killed you and hack them to pieces with the claymore.”
     Jason shot him a sideways dubious look. “Er…thank you…?”
     Ciaran raised his eyebrows. “’Tis both disturbin’ an’ amazin’ that be, at the same time.”
This is a bit macabre, yet inspiring:
The quote that inspired this snippet
 ~The Treasure of Rainbow Rock


     “Perhaps Jane woke up again, and Lillian had to reassure her that everything is all right,” Alice suggested.
     “My granddaughter,” Mrs. Whittaker explained, handing Victor a cup of tea. “She’s only seven, you see, and little girls frighten easily in thunderstorms like this.”
     Victor’s cup paused halfway to his mouth, and he stared into it silently for a moment. His friendly smile had faded into an expression of sadness, and his twilight-gray eyes misted over. “Yes,” he murmured, more to himself than to the two ladies, “yes, I know about—about little girls.”
~Prince Nácil



     To Tom’s horror, Shadow took a flying leap into the mixing-bowl containing the dry ingredients, and Midnight jumped in after his brother. Pouff! A cloud of flour shot up as the kittens scrambled to get out of the bowl. Tom wailed in despair and was about to grab them both by the scruff of the neck, when they leapt over the opposite side and skittered across the rest of the island, dropping to the floor with a plop and a small explosion of flour. Shadow shook off the remaining flour from his fluffy hide, but a good amount had stuck to Midnight’s face, looking for all the world like some sort of mask.
     “Cat, you look like a demon,” Tom snorted, still angry.
     Ember pretended to be frightened and crossed herself. “Elyon preserve us!” she ejaculated. “’Tis the Flour Demon!” Then she laughed at her own foolishness.

“Elyon preserve us!” [Ember] ejaculated. “’Tis the Flour Demon!”

     Anton snorted. “She always did treat me like her idiot brother.”
     “Well, frankly,” Jason remarked, “you sometimes act like it. Not that I’m calling you an idiot, mind,” he added quickly, “and I’m not taking her side against you, exactly… but, well…as I see it—personally—you are rather in the wrong here.”
     “So what am I supposed to do? Saddle my horse and chase after her? Dash into the theater and beg her forgiveness on bended knee?”
     “Oh, I’m sure she’d love that,” Jason chuckled ruefully. “Not to mention everyone in the theater. No, I’d wait for her to come home, and have something nice prepared for her—including a sincere apology.”
     Anton’s mouth curled into a mischievous smile.
     Jason pointed a finger in his face. “No exploding root beer!” he ordered.
     Anton made a face. “You’re no fun.”




     A chunk of the snow covering the boulder suddenly gave way under Yokúl’s hand, and he tumbled forward. The boulder happened to be on a slope, so down rolled Yokúl, head-over-heels, his clothes gathering snow along the way, straight for the circle of Snow-faeries. He passed right between two of the Snow Queen’s handmaidens—giving them quite a start—and crashed into the heels of Snow Queen herself before she had time to do more than look behind her. The snow he had accumulated burst off in a minor explosion, most of it coating the hem of her gown. Yokúl lay flat on his back, staring up into the upside-down face of the Snow Queen, who peered at him with a sort of cold curiosity.
     Yokúl flashed her a sheepish half-smile. “I don’t believe we’ve been properly introduced,” he quipped.
~Ice and Snow


     “You!”
     The Man froze in his tracks, his eyes wide with terror, his face taking on a grayish hue.
     “Come hither!” Obsidia commanded.
dragon eye by TatianaMakeeva on DeviantArt <--Looks like Obsidia's angry about something....:      The Man trembled all over himself, jerkily putting one foot before the other as he reluctantly approached the Dragoness. His mouth opened and closed, but no sound came forth.
     “Speak!” Obsidia bade him, snorting two thin wisps of smoke out her nose.
     “P-please,” he begged, his voice squeaking, “spare my life, I b-beg of you—and—and in return I—I shall give you my two young daughters. They will be sweeter, and tenderer, than an old goat like me—”
     Obsidia clashed her teeth together, her eyes flashing amber-red for a moment. “Am I one of the foul Ýrkhós”*—she spat out an ember as she said the word—“that you offer me Man-flesh?! I am Obsidia, the Black Fire-dragoness! And I. Do. Not. Eat. MAN!” She stared hard at him, her face moving closer and closer to his as she spoke, until their eyes were less than a foot apart.
     The Man shuddered worse than before, perspiration rolling down his face. “A-a thousand pardons, O Great One!” he began.
     “Cease your gibbering, Man—if indeed a man you be, and not a mouse,” she snorted, backing away a very little. “Now hearken! I have a request to make of you.”
     “I—I shall do whatever you ask,” the poor Man whimpered, “if you will but spare me.”
     Obsidia fixed him with a paralyzing gaze and stared at him steadily, unblinking, for several seconds, until the fellow looked ready to faint. “Teach me all there is to know about the preparation of food!” she ordered in her most imperious voice.
~Jason Windrider

*Ýrkhós = The collective name given to Goblins, Hobgoblins, and Orcs in Ýdára


     “What’s the matter? Why are you crying? Aren’t you happy here?”
     Jane wiped her eyes. “I—I am grateful—for—for all your kindness,” she slurred, “but—but—but what if I can’t get home again? What if I’m trapped here forever?”
     Harold blinked. “Oh, is that all? Why, if that happens, then you can stay here with me and Lady Müriel. She’ll take good care of you, and so will I.” He brightened. “See here! We could pretend you’re my sister, and—Well, now what’s wrong?”—as Jane’s eyes filled with tears again.
     “That’s what Robert says,” she whimpered.
     “Who is Robert, dear heart?” Lady Müriel asked gently.
     “My friend who lives over the hill in the West pasture,” Jane replied, rubbing her eye. “He’s so kind to me—he tells Teacher when the other boys tease me—and pretends I’m his little sister. He has ever so many big sisters,” she explained, dabbing her handkerchief at her nose, “but he says he always wanted a little sister to take care of, so he chose me.”
     “He sounds like a special person, indeed,” Lady Müriel smiled.
     Jane nodded. “Oh, he is. I—I wish he was here….” And she buried her face in her already sodden handkerchief.
~Prince Nácil



     Anton beat the drum at a regular interval—dum, dum, rat-tat-tump, dum, dum, rat-tat-tump—perfect for marching to. The others kept time more or less perfectly, but Anton of course could not be confined to merely marching. He skipped and hopped and pranced like a high-stepping pony—all in time to his drumbeat—chanting boldly and cheerfully at the top of his voice:

The Donkey and the Elephant
Went to the land of Hackenstant—
Tump, tump, tump, hilay!
And as they walked,
Nor never talked,
They sang this pleasant little chant:
Tump, tump, tump, hilay!
Tumpty-tumpty, tump, hilay!
Huzzah!

     “What nonsense might this be, then?” Ember muttered.
     “Oh, you know Anton,” Fiona whispered. “Whatever brings a smile to folks’ faces or provokes a good laugh, he’s sure to think of it.”
     “And run with it,” Jason chuckled.




     “Wait!” Yokúl cried.
     The Frost King halted and shot him an annoyed glance over his shoulder.
     “I—I have a request.”
     “What is it?” Krystalós sneered. “Are you going to beg for your life, Leaf-painter?”
     “No, sir; I know that would be useless. My request is simply this: If you’re going to kill me, then do it yourself—with your own hands. Anyone can have lackeys and underlings do their killing for them, but have you the courage to look me in the eye as you strike me down? To watch the life slowly fade from my eyes? If you’re going to take my life, Krystalós of the Frost, then you owe me that much. If you can’t, then you’re a bigger coward than I gave you credit for.”
     The Frost King glared at him several seconds in cold, stony silence. He turned to face Yokúl and took a few forceful steps forward, gripping the wolf’s-head handle of his sword. “Nothing would give me greater pleasure,” he growled.
---------------
     The blade whistled through the air as its sharp edge neared Yokúl’s neck. Yokúl swallowed involuntarily and closed his eyes, squaring his shoulders and taking what he believed to be his last breath.
     The whistling ceased suddenly, and the wolves and Efríts behind him groaned and yammered in dismay. Yokúl opened his eyes and saw the Frost King looking at him with confusion—and even a bit of fear—flickering across his face. He held the sword parallel to the snow-covered ground, barely an inch away from Yokúl’s neck.
     “No,” Krystalós intoned, his voice like a glacier. He brought the tip of the sword under Yokúl’s chin and lifted it up. “That is too quick and clean a death for an upstart like you.”
     Yokúl exhaled softly, relief flooding through him. He smirked up at his would-be executioner. “I knew you couldn’t do it.”
~Ice and Snow



     “When one person loves another very much, it’s as though that other person is a part of one—as though God Himself had knitted their hearts together in such a way that each can feel what the other is feeling. Perhaps your grandmother means that she loves you so much, little Jane, that, when you’re sad, or afraid, or hurt, she feels it with you. But love can also rejoice with the happiness of those we love,” he added, smiling slightly.
     “That’s like something Jesus said in the Bible!” Jane exclaimed. “He said to ‘weep with those who weep,’ and ‘rejoice with those who rejoice,’ but I never knew that was part of loving someone. But that makes sense…only…I can’t really explain why.”
~Prince Nácil



     The children circled the tower, feeling carefully along its smooth, beautifully carved walls. But there didn’t appear to be anything like a door anywhere.
     Sierra looked upwards, gazing at the windows. She chuckled as an idea came to her.
     “What?” Shasta asked, hearing her.
     Sierra blushed. “Oh, well,” she simpered, “I was just thinking of the story of Rapunzel. We’re kinda like the prince; we want to get in, but there’s no door.”
     “Say, there’s an idea!” Shasta beamed. With that, she faced the nearest window and cupped her hands around her mouth. “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!” she shouted.
     The children watched anxiously—Sierra rubbing her right ear, which Shasta had accidentally yelled into—but the windows remained shut.
     “Phooey,” Shasta grumbled.
~The Tower of Pearl



     “I don’t like the thought of dying any more than you do,” Robert continued. “But if I could save you somehow…then it wouldn’t be so bad. And if I can’t…well, I meant what I said: I’ll protect you, Jane—with my last breath, if necessary.”
     “Oh, please don’t talk like that.”
     “Why not? It’s true.”
     Jane’s body shook with a repressed sob, and she sniffled softly. “I don’t want to die,” she whimpered. “There were things I wanted to do before…before I went to Heaven.” She looked ruefully up at him. “I’m sure you feel the same way.”
     “If you only knew,” he murmured.
~The Obsidian Castle



     Othniel smiled softly at her. “Princess,” he murmured, “why are you doing this? Yesterday you did not know I existed, yet you are willing to help me become your partner for life. You have my admiration, yet I am curious as to your motives.”
     Again [Jael] looked up at him with eyes shining like sapphires, peering steadily at him without speaking for a moment. At length she replied, “You have become almost a legend among the peoples, much talked of and that right favorably. This day I have seen with my own eyes that the reports of you are true, and that has earned you my respect—which is not an easy thing to obtain, mind you.” Sadness clouded her face for a moment. “But there is a greater cause for me to approve of you: Sítára Halfelven was my friend, and her banishment is a bitter trial to those who love her. She wrote to me and told of how you changed her mother’s curse into a blessing, though she had wronged you greatly. For this, I have long admired you, and prayed Elyon that He would bless you for it.”
~The Labors of Othniel



     “Why, hullo there, Stardust.”
     “What? That.”
     “Come now, little one, you know a book when you see it.”
     “Book.”
     “That’s right. A very interesting book, which I’m trying to read just now.”
     “Teach!”
     “You want me to teach you to read?”
     “Read! Knowledge.”
Anton with the Dragonets:      “Well, I can’t argue with that. But this is rather advanced to start off with. If you’re going to learn reading, you’ll need to start at the beginning.”
     Anton closed the book, ignoring Stardust’s whimpering, and found a stout stick nearby. “We’ll begin with the letters.” He wrote out the alphabet in the dirt with the stick, reciting the name of the letters as he drew them. Stardust hovered over each letter and studied it carefully, repeating the names back to him.
     “Good. Now I’ll point to a letter, and you tell me what it is, all right?”
     “Right!”
    He pointed to a T. “What’s this letter?”
     “I!”
     “Try again.”
     “L!”
     “Try again.”     
     “Too hard.”
     “You give up too easily, little one. That’s a T. But perhaps I’m going too fast. Let’s say them all again from first to last.”
     Just then, Oriános fluttered down, landing squarely in the middle of the alphabet.
     “Teach Oriános, too!” he begged.
     “Well, all right, but you’ll have to move your tail, Golden Boy; you’re sitting on your lesson just now.”
~The Silver One

* * *

That’s enough for now. Many more snippets, and y’all won’t need to read my books when (Lord willing) they’re published, LOL.

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

Saturday, April 1, 2017

“Can I call you *Bob*?”




(Virtual cookies to whoever gets the joke! ;-))


I was—keyword WASgoing to do a Rapunzel-themed April Fool’s post today, and see if I could fake you-all out into thinking I’d gotten a chin-length bob….

…but then Blogger ATE MY DRAFT just because I accidentally went into edit mode and back out again without saving, even though I hadn’t made any changes. (WHAT?!) Hours of work—finding the right pix, linking to the sources like a good girl, writing it all out, polishing and proofreading and previewing to get it looking (mostly) just right—and months of waiting to spring my loverly, clever little joke on my Gentle Readers…down the flush.
You bet I was mad.
And I didn’t feel like re-writing it (and when I tried, it came out all stupid).

So instead, I’ll just come out and say it: I cut my hair. Actually, Mom cut my hair, but at my request.
And now some of you are looking at me like
No, nononono. Don't go! Stay with me, Eugene! Flower gleam and glow, let your powers shine...:
"What have you DONE?!"
Just stay with me here....
In a nutshell, it was too long to leave down without getting in the way (or tucked into my jeans along with my shirts :-P), and the waist-length braid was feeling rather stale and unflattering. I wanted something fresh and new…and that didn’t take ten or fifteen minutes to fix in the mornings when I feel like I need to go-go-go ASAP.


In all honesty, I actually did seriously consider a short bob (but a LOT better looking than that stupid Anime-inspired monstrosity they gave poor Rapunzel. FAIL). However…well, a chin-length bob with straight hair tends to look rather plain. And I feel plain enough as it is, most of the time.

OH, ANKA, YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL!!!

Thanks, boy-o…but you’re prejudiced. ;-)

Plus chin-length is rather short, almost too short to look feminine (on me, anyhow). So I took Mom’s advice and went with a less drastic length.


Ta-da! *Cue dorky smile*
All pix but this one taken by Mom

(Fun fact: The first thing out of my brothers mouth when he saw it was, "Hey, Jo." *Snicker*)

And now that you’ve (hopefully) recovered from my shocking bit of news, here are some better pix of my new ’do:

Mom wanted to curl the ends after cutting it,
to see how it would look.
Obviously, one side was still dampish :-P


Hair was still wet back there,
so it didn't curl, LOL
Cute, ja? 

This was actually a couple inches longer than I intended—I was thinking of just-barely-shoulder-length—but Mom cut it longer, and when I saw it, I realized it was quite short enough, and that any shorter would probably be hard to put up in the Summer. 
Its a bit plain, perhaps, and definitely a major change from what I’m used to, but soooo much easier to care for and deal with already. I love it!
(For the curious, we actually made the chop back in March, but it was too perfect an April Fool’s gag! Or would have been, if Blogger hadn't been such a snot.) 

This length will allow me to put it up if I’m so inclined (even in curlers, as pictured below), but is still short enough that I don’ t have to all the time. It pretty much stays out of my way, and I don’t have to deal with a three-foot hairy curtain or thickish braid sweeping the floor when I bend over, now. :-P

I look a bit stoned here, LOL
...although the pix we took before  were worse.
I miss being photogenic
My aunt gave me a bunch of headbands shortly before The Haircut, and Ive found they work really well! A pair of simple hair-clips is good for at-home days, too, and to my delight, I can still dress up my shorn locks with hair-flowers and ribbons!

Headband and Curls. (No, nobody punched my lights out.
I have permanent dark circles. Mreh.)
So, what are your thoughts?  
Did my news shock the tar out of you, or are you still chuckling?  
Do you love my new do, hate it, or not care one way or another? 
I want to know!
MOM: "OK, Licorice, tickle her so she'll smile."
*Cat rubs against ankles*
ME: *Laughs*
CAMERA: *Click*

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