Friday, December 31, 2010

The Promise - Chaim Potok


The Promise by Chaim Potok
A Fawcett Columbine Book published by Ballatine Books


Rating: 9
Readability: I rarely get impeded in a book where I can not function... I am perfectly capable of walking away from mainstream suspense, but not Potok.
Impact: High! An 8 or 9.


Read it Again: Yes.
Recommend It: Yes.

What to Expect:

The second book to The Chosen, but one that could also stand alone.

Danny and Reuven are both going through college and graduate school. The book focuses on controversies within their community and the life of a mentally ill young man they both get involved with. It also ties in the lives of Jews who traveled to America after being liberated after World War II.
Find out the rest for yourself... :-)

Compared to The Chosen, I think Potok's writing style was greatly improved and much more polished...however some books just have a soul to them in a way an author can not fully repeat.
I feel like this about Robert Peck, Potok, Sigmund Brouwer, and a few others. Not that their other works weren't amazing, but one certain book was the book they had to write.

Having said all that, The Promise is a wonderful book! It can stand alone beautifully and attests to the skill and wisdom of it's author.

My Squib:

After finishing The Chosen I was determined to write an intelligent and favorable review. If you recall...it didn't happen. I wrote about three or four unintelligible rambles.

There's just something I can't explain here. When I finish one of Potok's books I just don't feel like analyzing it...and that's weird for me.
He truly is a master story teller and he wraps things up so nicely and so beautifully it's almost like I don't dare open the book back up.
I have never read more satisfying endings, even to great epics. It's so strange.

I seriously think Potok was writing strait at my soul.
(Not soul as in my Soul. Don't worry, I'm not about to become Jewish. But soul as in... like "my gut". Maybe "gut" would be a better word but it sounds extremely unladylike... Yeah...anyways...)

Ok...Am I making any sense here?

The Facts are these-

I love Potok.
His style, his characters, his plots, his questions, his oddities.

And I love Daniel Saunders.
To bad he wouldn't spend sometime reading the New Testament instead of Freud. It's probably the only book he's never read...
Oh yeah...besides the fact that he's fictitious.

I will force myself to analyze and write an intelligent post about Potok's style and world soon. I actually have a lot of things I'd love to talk about, especially to anyone who's already read some Potok and has their own opinions.
And if you haven't...go do so.

From the Book:

"You understand what it is to make a choice...? A choice tells the world what is most important to a human being. When a man has a choice to make he chooses what is most important to him, and that choice tells the world what kind of man he is." -Rav Kalman

"That is the way the world is, Reuven. Each generation thinks it fights new battles. But the battles are the same. Only the people are different." ~David Malter


Have a good New Years Eve!

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickina

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tennessee Waltz - Colm Wilkinson


I finally used my ITunes gift card and bought Colm Wilkinson's Broadway and Beyond the Concert Songs.
Unfortunately I'm still a noob (in a big way) with my MP3 player and can't figure out how to get new music on it...but I have been able to listen to the album on my computer.

It is an extremely interesting variety and one of the songs included is this one....
I'm afraid he doesn't realize all we require him to do is to hold still and sing... Too many awesome musicals performances I guess. :-)
Even if his animation and stage presence annoys you stay until the end of the video. It's the best. ;-)

If you think this is a weird song for Colm Wilkinson track down his Whiskey in the Jar. LOL. :-)

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

P.S. Unless you get the wrong impression... I am not in general a musical fan...but I do love Colm Wilkinson's voice and I am a Les Miserables fan. In a big way. :-)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Answer - Me


Answer

They gave it all
Forsook sweet death
Swallowed gall to give them breath

All to answer
“Follow Me”

They knew the cost
Denied themselves
Bowed necks to receive the cross

All to answer
“Follow Me”

They stood alone
A thousand strong
Faith we hear in priceless song

All to answer
“Follow Me”

They smiled at fear
Fought unto blood
Made redemption courage flood

All to answer
“Follow Me”

Beauty and praise
Their battle cry
Steadfast love their alibi

All to answer
“Follow Me”

Lions yet sheep
They multiply
Lay down life, for others die

All to answer
“Follow Me”
They heard music
“Follow Me”
“Follow Me”

© Miss Pickwickian

This still needs some rhythm work, but I enjoyed writing it.

I always appreciate helpful criticism...

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Only Where God is Praised

Exalting is a part of existence.
It is so much a part of it, that when one has ceased to exalt God, something else must be exalted. Then God can be displaced by a man, an institution, an idea. Exalting remains a function of existence. World history demonstrates this.
Man must exalt something, and without such exalting there can apparently be no existence...If the praise of God, as the Psalms express it, belongs to existence, then the directing of this praise to a man, an idea, or an institution must disturb and finally destroy life itself.
The psalms say that only where God is praised is there life.

~Westermann

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sydney Carton - Polka Dot and Mama :-)

The spare hand does not tremble as he releases it; nothing worse than a sweet, bright constancy is in the patient face. She goes next before him--is gone; the knitting women count Twenty-Two.
"I am the Resurrection and the Life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die."
The murmuring of many voices, the upturning of many faces, the pressing on of many footsteps in the outskirts of the crowd, so that it swells forward in a mass, like one great heave of water, all flashes away.
Twenty three.

They said of him, about the city that night, that it was the peacefullest man's face ever beheld there. Many added that he looked sublime and prophetic....

"...It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known."

~ From A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens


Yes! My sister drew this and my mother water colored it! And it was for me! For Christmas!!!!! I love it so much.

I had a wonderful Christmas (and not just because I got this amazing picture:-). I hope you did too!

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian


Saturday, December 25, 2010

This Little Babe - Robert Southwell.



"Adoration of the Shepherds"
Anton Raphael Mengs (1728-1779
This little Babe so few days old,
Is come to rifle Satan's fold;
All hell doth at his presence quake,
Though he himself for cold do shake;
For in this weak unarmed wise
The gates of hell he will surprise.

With tears he fights and wins the field,
His naked breast stands for a shield;
His battering shot are babish cries,
His arrows made of weeping eyes,
His martial ensigns cold and need,
And feeble flesh his warrior's steed.

His camp is pitched in a stall,
His bulwark but a broken wall;
The crib his trench, haystalks his stakes,
Of shepherds he his muster makes;
And thus as sure his foe to wound,
The Angels' trumps alarum sound.

My soul with Christ join thou in fight,
Stick to the tents that he hath pight;
Within his crib is surest ward,
This little Babe will be thy guard;
If thou wilt foil thy foes with joy,
Then flit not from this heavenly boy.

-Robert Southwell

"If thou wilt foil thy foes with joy"... Love that.
I really like a lot of Christmas songs, but this is my favorite. :-)

Hope you are all are having an amazing Christmas. I am. :-)
Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas was God declaring war on the World


"Adoration of the Shepherds"
by Rembrandt
I've been very blessed to hear some amazing Christmas sermons this year.

Luke 1:26-33

"Fruitfulness comes by walking in the light and pursuing righteousness in the dark."

This one came at just the right time.
I don't really know why, but I've had a harder time getting excited about Christmas this year.
I was feeling pretty irritated (feeling irritated is not a way to fix it...just so you know) about the feeling when Mama and I went Christmas shopping over a week ago. I couldn't even find anything I wanted to buy (this is normally not a problem:-).
Several hours after we got home I realized part of the reason why...I'd caught the great church plague. :-P
After that was over (nearly a week latter) things were improved, but I've still been in a Christmas blah.
I don't know why exactly, but this pretty much fixed my problem. I think I was basically just being a jerk and than over analyzing it.
It's okay that every Christmas is different and just because it's Christmas doesn't mean our problems will disappear.

Plus, Pastor Tuuri read some Bob Dylan lyrics in the sermon. I love it when he does that. Score!

The Messiah in Isaiah (Part 4) by Greg Strawbridge
Isaiah 7
This sermon detailed more of what is going on during the famous Immanuel prophesy.

Besides the fact that I've been in love with Isaiah all year, this was also a convicting sermon for me.
Where do I turn to in trouble?

Joy to the World by Doug Wilson
1 Peter 1:6-9

Recently I've been studying and memorizing 1-2 Peter. I didn't even know the text when I turned this sermon on, but it made me really excited when I found out. :-)

This sermon really hit the nail on the head when it comes to the way we try to celebrate Christmas and how dumb it often is. I was trying to fold laundry while I was listening to it. I didn't get much done because I had to keep taking notes. This is one I really want to listen to again.

He really redirects back to the real essence of Christ's birth and what it has changed.

Here are a few notes I scribbled that really made an impression on me-

"The peace f God is our armor. It's not something we have to protect. Is the things that protects us."

"Peace is not the Gospel itself it is the result of the Gospel."

"Christmas is God's D-Day...the thunder of Heaven's guns."

"Sentimentalism is a pacifist...trying to celebrate the effect of Christmas without the story."

"True joy is fundementally realistic."

"The Magnificat is a declaration of war."

I found the whole sermon intoxicatingly joyful.

I'm very thankful God put this in my way!

General Christmasness


On Wednesday one of my brothers took me to downtown Portland, which was amazing. Even with all it's problems, I just love Portland so much! And even though we didn't go to Powell's it's near presence refreshed my spirit. ;-)
I also love my brother. He's pretty awesome. ;-)

Last night Mama and I were able to go to a beautiful Messiah performance. It was wonderful...of course. :-)
I also finally allowed myself to start another Chaim Potok novel. Happiness!!!!

Other recent Christmas activities include seeing Tangled, going out to eat, watching movies while wrapping presents, being ill, squeezing reading time in, receiving truck loads of Amazon packages, working on Christmas presents (mwhahaha), wonderful mail and Christmas cards, seeing lots family and friends, eating very unhealthily, listening to lots of music, and....very little writing. :-P There will be a schedule again though...Right? :-)

I have had the most amazing year. I am so grateful!!!!!

Christmas has been a flurry this last week and now I'm looking forward to the actual celebration of it all...which should include some relaxing time with good friends and family, good conversation, good food, good presents :-) and all beautiful Christmasified house!

But most of all, a celebration of victory. Christ came to save his people from their sins. To wage war (and to win!) against death. What more do we need to be joyful? What more do we need for such a clear mission?
There is so much to do and to learn!
Sometimes I feel quite hopeless...but only because there is such an wonderful, perfect, un-understandable, complex yet beautifully simple hope!

Have a very blessed and amazing Christmas. :-)
Many of you are in my prayers. I know I'll being seeing some of you soon.
Christmas!!!!! Yippee!

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

(Sorry this was a long rambling post. If you got to the end know that I am extremely grateful. :-)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Behold, I am a servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your Word.


"The Annunciation"
by Fra Angelico (1395-1455)

My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he had looked on the humble estate of his servant.

For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.

Luke 1:46b-55

"The Annunciation"
by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

"The Annunciation"
Woodcut
by Albrecht Durer (1471-1528)

"The Annunciation"
by Orazio Gentileschi (1563-1639)
I love the fabric folds in this one...

"The Annunciation"
by Anton Raphael Mengs 1728-1779
Sorry if little putti make you uncomfortable...

"Ecce Ancilla Domini"
by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)

"The Annunciation"
by John William Waterhouse (1849-1917)

"The Annunciation"
by Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937)

Do you have a favorite? I was having a hard time finding any more recent "Annunctions". Know of any?

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

For the pillars of the earth are the LORD's...and on them he has set the world.


"Hannah presenting her son Samuel to the priest Eli"
Gerbrand van den Eeckhout (1621-1674)


My heart exults in the Lord;
my strength is exalted in the Lord.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in your salvation.

There is none holy like the LORD;
there is none besides you;
there is no rock like our God.

Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the LORD is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.

The bows of the might are broken,
but the feeble bind on strength.
Those who were full have hired themselves for bread,
but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.

The LORD kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The LORD makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low and he exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the LORD's,
and on them he has set the world.

He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness,
for not by might shall a man prevail.
The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces;
against them he will thunder in heaven.
The LORD will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king
and exalt the power of his anointed.

~1 Samuel 2:1b-10~

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Gift


This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.

~Elisabeth Elliot

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Quest for Love - Elisabeth Elliot



Quest for Love: True Stories of Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot
Revell (A division of Baker Books) 2002
First publication in 1996


Rating: 8
Readability: 8
Impact: High. :-)

Read it Again: Yes
Recommend it: Yes!




What to Expect

A sort of sequel to Passion and Purity, this book combines the true stories of many different and diverse Christians as well as direct, biblical based wisdom from Elisabeth Elliot.

Short chapters with thought questions.

My Squib

I really enjoyed this book. It shows that there is no formula and God is creative and merciful. The important thing for us is to hold Him as the center of our lives...and that means our relationships too.
We must pursue Him and His will in all areas of life!

From the Book

I wrote a lot of quotes down from this book over time, but I shall restrain myself. :-)

He always answers the cry of the man or woman who wills (against all wanting) to do His will. It is here that the battle is waged.

Maturity is the acceptance of limitations. Every choice made in life rules out a thousand possibilities. Love, in the last analysis, is a choice.

Fear God and nothing else.

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Friday, December 17, 2010

In Which I Experience Steinbeck...



I finished John Steinbeck's The Wayward Bus recently. It's my first book of his...

I've heard that The Wayward Bus is considerably different then some of this other work. The whole book takes place in less than 24 hrs and is really more of a series of detailed, compelling character sketches.
It also deserves a rating beyond PG 13... Steinbeck has no notion of what is generally considered appropriate.

I loved the way he drew characters. Everybody was imperfect (actually most of them were pretty nasty) but you couldn't help liking everyone in someway or another (even if you really didn't want to). They were probably the most thoroughly old sin natured but likable characters I've read.

I also loved his description and the way he didn't seem to care about things. He just told the story as he saw it.

So...yeah...he's style and characters were the sort I really like, but that's kind of were it ended.

The god of the book is lust. And it takes everybody further into depression in sin by the last page of the novel.

With possibly the exception of Juan and Alice, everyone is much worse off by the end. After planning to run back to Mexico, Juan makes the decision to come back and help the people on the bus and return home to his wife...but on the way back commits adultery. Not sure if this is supposed to be redeeming of him or not. It doesn't seem like a very good turn around. :-P Alice didn't need much help going lower. She's drunk most of the book anyways.

Norma is probably the saddest case. She starts out as someone relatively innocent but ends up leaving for Hollywood (originally stocking Clark Gable..lol) and ends up coming under the wing of a disreputable woman that she attempts to emulate.

So...either Steinbeck was showing us how depressing life is if our god is ourselves or he just thinks that's all there is.

Don't get me wrong...I actually like dark stories (probably more than I should...especially if a lot of people die ;-). But you don't need this much blunt inappropriateness to get old sin nature across. I'm also hoping some of it is pretty twisted. It certainly doesn't give you any confidence in the race of men.

Either way, I loved the style, but wouldn't read it again or recommend it. The guy has some serious issues...

Have you had experience with Steinbeck? What was your impression?

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Evgeni Plushenko


The King of Ice...artist and athlete.

This is one of my favorite performances...


Although Andrea Bocelli and Plushenko together is pretty hard to beat!


Thanks for watching,
Miss Pickwickian

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Music from the Spring - Kruger Brothers



Wish the guy wouldn't talk... But this is the best video I could find related to this. I think it's really cool!
It's a little weird to see them in with ties, though... :-)

Enjoy,
Miss Pickwickian

Monday, December 13, 2010

Searching for God Knows What - Donald Miller



Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller
Nelson Books 2004


Rating: 7+
Readability: An easy, but sometimes rambling read. I guess it depends on what you like.
Impact: Really made me think hard about a lot of things. I certainly hope it helped change me.


Read it Again: Yes...
Recommend it: Yes (read review:-)


What to Expect

In a style now associated with it's author, Searching for God Knows What wanders through the problems of identity and an improper view on just who our God is.

It focuses on Christianity being relational.

Who is God? Who are we? And what is our relationship?

My Squib

I have mixed feelings. Sometimes he really made me wary. He writes extremes and I don't think he would always hold to them. Some of the iffy things he implied, you certainly could take them to mean something you wouldn't want them to. Perhaps in his exuberance to get across a point he goes a little off into the other ditch.
I'd love to discuss it with someone a lot smarter than me and get their perspective!

He denounces war terminology in any use. This seems pretty narrow. He never even attempts to address all the uses in the Bible. For a girl who loves The Son of God Goes Forth to War and Rise Again Ye Lion Hearted this was pretty bothersome. :-) It's also disappointing since he is normally pretty careful about only pushing stuff he thinks he can back up with Scripture.

On the whole, it is an amazing book and really gets you thinking and evaluating yourself. He points out some extremely interesting (and mostly really sad) things about how we seem to imagine God.
He bases a lot of his book against "the lifeboat theory" and shows how our identity is not "being ourself" but being defined by something else. We can try to get people to define us by their words or actions, or we can acknowledge and accept our identity in Christ. To be defined by our Creator is the only way to be secure and satisfied.

He is direct and frequent in his criticism of modern Christians (mostly conservatives). Most of it is well deserved, but could use some spice and humor. Blunt railings could be more effective if replaced with satire. :-)

It was actually very interesting that I was reading Searching for God Knows What while I was also reading A Serrated Edge . They both touched on identity and how it effects our relations so drastically with others and with God. It also gave two different angles on some of the very same passages from Jesus life. It was pretty interesting...

Identity is already something I've been thinking about a lot. (You know already if you remember my post on Survival in Auschwitz.) I picked up Searching for God Knows What and A Serrated Edge without knowing anything about them except my interest in both authors. It was very providential that they both addressed identity.

Donald Miller also gave an interesting perspective on Romeo and Juliet in the last chapter... That's a Shakespeare play I'm still very much trying to figure out...

I've extremely glad I read this book.

From the Book

If man was wired so that something outside himself told him who he was, and if God's presence was giving him a feeling of fulfillment, then when that relationship was broken, a man would be pining for other people to tell him that he was good, right, okay with the world, and eternally secure. As I wrote earlier, we all compare ourselves to others , and none of our emotions-- like jealousy and envy and lust-- would exist unless man was wired so that somebody else told him who he was, and that somebody was gone.

The second chapter of the book of James tells us, specifically, not to take a wealthy person and seat him in the place of honor and leave a poor person in the back. I take this to mean that in church the rules of the lifeboat don't apply, that church is a refuge, where the kingdom of God is emulated, not mocked.

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Justice

"Mercy, detached from Justice, grows unmerciful."
~ C. S. Lewis

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Serrated Edge - Douglas Wilson


A Serrated Edge: A Brief Defense of Biblical Satire and Trinitarian Skylarking by Douglas Wilson
Canon Press 2003

This was a quick, thought-provoking, and funny read.

If Doug Wilson and some of his writing make you uncomfortable, this would be a good book. (Or as an introduction to his writing in general, if you're not familiar with it.)


This is not mockery of what is sacred, but a defense of it. It is not contempt, but deep respect. Love which is really love, will fight for what it believes.

I feel like some of the passages from the book taken out of context could be either confusing or misleading... So I'm just going to stick with this quote. (Even as fond as we all are with quoting Doug Wilson out of context.)

When we find examples in Scripture (and in Church history) of men who can do both--comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable--we have to take care that we categorize them as the Bible teaches us to. They are not to be thought of as conflicted personalities, but rather as examples of obedience and balance."

I filled up another five pages in my journal with other portions. Hope that doesn't go against any copyright laws. ;-)

I really enjoyed this book and was completely persuaded in principle. In practice this seems like an area for caution, wisdom, and prayer. I think Christians have used this sort of satire well, but also badly and from a completely wrong spirit.

Wilson's greatest emphasis is diligent search of the Scriptures and to truly love in a biblical manner.
Who can argue with that?
Now, how well does our idea of love match Christ's? And how well do we read our Bibles (and is our translation The Message)?

It seems like this is all especially dangerous for us young people. There are great temptations in this sort of stuff and we already have enough. If our attitude is pride and elitism, we have some serious problems. Jesus' favorite victims of satire were, after all, the Pharisees.
Perhaps our greatest test is if we have first learned to laugh at ourselves.

Any thoughts?

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Friday, December 10, 2010

Howl's Moving Castle Music

The music from Howl's Moving Castle is beautiful!
Here are two examples. :-)






Hope you enjoyed.
Miss Pickwickian

Thursday, December 9, 2010

King Lear (TV 2009)



King Lear (Great TV Series 1972-)
Directed by Trevor Nunn



Rating: 6
Watch-ability: 7
Impact: ...


Watch it Again: Probably not.
Recommend it: I don't know...



Starring Ian McKellen, William Gaunt, Philip Winchester, Ben Meyjes, Francis Barber, Monica Dolan, Romola Garai, Sylvester McCoy, Jonathan Hyde, etc...

Not rated.
There is a great quantity of skin and the sisters are pretty creepy. The "out vile jelly" scene where Gloucester gets his eyes stomped out is disturbing. There is a hanging and some blood...obviously a lot of dying.
There's a lot of touching, like a lot of Shakespeare movies. This isn't necessarily bad, but if it creeps you out (like it does me) this movie would probably get a pretty harsh rating. ;-)

(See King Lear review.)

What to Expect

The sets are purposefully minimal and the whole movie is done more like a play. There are few characters and most of the sets are outside. There is no soundtrack. Always very dark lighting.

The costumes and setting/time period where pretty neat.

They do not add to the original play, but they do take out different sections. Sometimes a phrase, sometimes a chunk, and at least one whole scene.

I felt like some of the removed text is the best and most Christian. They took out some of Edger's best lines.

Also...their much more sympathetic to all the bad characters.

My Squib

As much as I do not Ian McKellen, he is an amazing actor.
I thought he did a great job as King Lear.

When he was insane he was especially convincing...

I loved the fool in the book, but he bothered me in the movie.

Goneril and Regan
These gals were the main sources of creepiness..

This is Philip Winchester as Edmund. (Think Flyboys and "Nights of the Air".)

He had considerably more hair in the movie version (some of these pictures are from a stage version). He played the part very well and was way to likeable.
Especially considering Edgar...

Frankly...he was awful.
He was a pathetic loser at the beginning and they totally have to make him start acting out of character to have him end up stabbing Edmund at the end. It's just plain weird.
It's like they couldn't stand having an awesome guy in the play.

This was the worst part about the movie....with no doubts.

Kent was comical...
I imagined him more sweet, yet cynical than comical, but he was interesting.

Romola Garai made a wonderful Cordelia.
I love a lot of movies that she plays in, but her acting style often bugs me. It's almost like she's overacting or something. But as Cordelia in a Shakespeare play this totally worked for me.

Poor Edmund is dead... Cwy. ;-)
Loved this creepy lady's coat!

Albany and Gloucester both did a really good job, I thought. I really liked Albany.

This scene was well done.
They insinuate that Kent goes off and shoots himself after this scene... You could interpret his last lines like that, but I hadn't thought of it that way before. Especially with the way they portray Kent, it didn't really fit.

Over all it had a very Trevor Nunn/Ian McKellen feel. Which means there were certain things I really liked about it, but mostly I didn't. ;-)

So yeah... That's my first experience with King Lear as a movie. :-)
Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

An Introduction to the Old Testament Historical Books - David M. Howard Jr.


An Introduction to the Old Testament Historical Books by David M. Howard Jr.
Moody Publishers 1993

Rating: 6
Readability: 5
Impact: I certainly could take a lot away from it.

Read it Again: Probably not...
Recommend it: After several other books on the same subject.


What to Expect

A basic overview on the historical books (Joshua-Esther) with background on authors, dates, and disputes concerning each book. He also briefly goes over the general theology and purpose of each book from his particular view point.

A smart guy, but not a great writer. Sometimes the style is extremely textbooky...in the worst sense ("we have noted," "and in conclusion", and "per se" are everywhere).
There is a lot to learn, but sometimes it's a real slog.

My Squib

Enjoyed this book, but wish he would have taken a firmer stand on a lot of issues. It could have been a lot more exciting if he brought in the big picture themes as well as interesting details instead of the overview middle stuff.

Certainly a good overview. Interesting to get a different angle. Got much more history and information on scholar's controversies than other books.

This was another book in my Ligonier course and I ended up supplement it with Peter Liethart and James Jordan. I just didn't feel like I was getting enough out of this book.

From the Book

Ultimately, that is the best reason for reading the Bible: to discover its revelation of God to us, to learn of His gracious plan of redemption, and to discern how to live. We cannot do so fully, however, without learning how read. This book is intended to point to the Book and whet reader's appetites for that Book. And, in the end that book itself is merely a guide and pointer to someone infinitely more important: the God revealed in its pages.

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Notes:
Inception is still good the third time (actually it's better :-).
Both of my nieces that are old enough to do so, think Javert's Stars is extremely suitable for rocking out to with their Aunt Bopey in the kitchen.
Katie is certain that the Mad Hatter is a princess. (It's either that or a "bad guy" these days...so maybe it's for the best.)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Why isn't a Pretty Girl like You Married? - Nancy Wilson



Why isn't a Pretty Girl like You Married?...and Other Useful Comments by Nancy Wilson
Canon Press 2010

Rating: 8
Readability: 8
Impact: Hopefully high!

Read it Again: Yes
Recommend it: Yes



What to Expect

Short, direct chapters on living in a Christian community as an unmarried woman.

Covers a variety of points on life in general, our relationship to our current families and our relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

...all inside a very cute cover!

My Squib

I felt like Why isn't a Pretty Girl like You Married? was less polished and perhaps slightly brash/blunt compared to Building Her House, but still thoroughly amazing. (If that makes any sense. ;-)

Very readable and packed with things us girls need to hear! And not just girls of marriageable age. I feel like the title might steer younger (or self-conscious) girls away from it, but this should be a must read for girls leaving highschool.

It points back over and over again to the point of our existence.
To glorify God.
Being an unmarried female does not change this goal or give us slack...or make us inferior or less productive in the kingdom.

From the Book

After all, our heavenly Father is king of the universe. We can live as though we really believe this. We can bring honor and glory to HIs name by the way we embrace His truth, His goodness, and His beauty. We can adorn the gospel with our holy conduct. We can walk worthy of the calling we have received. In this way, women, whether married or unmarried, can be cornerstones, reflecting the glory of the chief cornerstone, Jesus Christ Himself.

Very good book! If you've read it, I'd love to hear your impression. If not, and this is at all applicable to your stage of life, I highly recommend it. :-)

Thanks for reading.
Miss Pickwickian

BTW...Do you all know Inception came out today!!!!!!!!! Happiness!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Busy Writing



Recently I've been noticing some alarming patterns in my writing.

1) In my fiction, I can't seem to start a sentence with anything except the subject.

2) I have been throwing away and starting over instead of rewriting and editing (and I think this has been going on for years). And rewriting is the worst. :-)

3) I can't seem to write anything with out killing somebody. (In the story...you understand.)

4) I'm in the middle of too many projects.

I was able to get a lot of writing done over the last week.
The last Saturday of November I think I broke my record with 5,300 words in one project in one day.
I wrote over 15,00 words over the week and the end of Where Loyalties Lie is actually in site! That is exciting for me (like...really, really, really exciting!). I know it's going to need some extremely painful and deep rewriting, but at least something is getting down!

I need to focus on non-fiction writing projects for awhile, so I'm hoping I can finish the rough draft (which is still going to take some time and dedication) and then work through the non-fiction I need to do.

We'll see.
I've been working on several projects side by side, but I just need to storm some and finish them! (At least rough drafts...please!)

I've been doing a lot of reading...so you should be seeing some book reviews this week. (Not sure how many people will get excited about that, but there it is....)

I am currently down at my sister's getting refreshed by the wild, creative, and tireless imagination of an adorable little girl and the snuggles and sweetness of her little sister. Life is good...and I am exhausted.

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Friday, December 3, 2010

Potatoes


Modern masters of science are much impressed with the need of beginning all inquiry with a fact. The ancient masters of religion were quite equally impressed with that necessity. They began with the fact of sin--a fact as practical as potatoes.

-From Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Blue Christmas - Elvis and Bocelli :-)


I love this song. It was a favorite of my Grandma's (especially when my Grandpa was in the army).
Anyways...I love it. These are two different and wonderfully perfect performances. ;-)

I like Elvis Presely's version by himself best, but this one is good too. :-)

And of course I love Andrea Bocelli's... :-)

I've been enjoying all the Christmas music!

Thanks for looking,
Miss Pickwickian

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Look Upward Beyond

If you know me...you probably know that I love this song...
Pieces of it have been running through my head recently and this portion of kept coming back.

Serve God and be cheerful,
Look upward beyond
Beyond the darkness that masks
the surprises of dawn.


Serve God and be cheerful. I want to remember and apply that and not just have it running through the music section of my head!

Thanks for putting up with me and my Bob Dylan likes. :-)
Miss Pickwickian

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Supper at Emmaus - Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn


As much as I love Caravaggio, this last oil panting by Rembrandt is my favorite of the Supper at Emmaus.

Monday, November 29, 2010

What We Left Behind - The Trail Band



Kind of a strange video...but I like this song. It's written by Marv Ross and sung by his wife, Rindy Ross (love her voice).

We've been listening to Trail Band Christmas music a lot, but I couldn't find a good video. Lex Browning's vocals on their Christmas albums are a big part of Christmas for me. :-)

I've been fasting from Les Miserables for nearly four whole days! This has been made possible by Andrea Bocelli and Josh Groban and the fact that their Christmas CDs are now legal to play. And of course by great self-control and personal sacrifice. ;-)

Tonight we are going to watch the 10th Anniversary Dream Cast performance. This will be my fourth, but Suzy hasn't seen it at all yet...So I'm pretty excited!

Have a good Monday! I know sometimes that can be difficult. :-)

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Word War has begun!


Start typing!

Don't worry about not being able to devote all the time to writing. I certainly won't. Just start writing! (Read more about the word war.)

When it hits 6pm post your finished word count. Hope it goes well. :-)

Thanks for participating,
Miss Pickwickian

(P.S. Like the pic? lol)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Word War - Nov 27th 1-6pm

I'm hosting a Word War tomorrow at 1-6pm (west coast time).

If you haven't participated in a word war, it works like this-

You write during the specified. When it's over you count up your words and post your word count. Whoever got the most (obviously) wins!

Please be honest. Only count the words written during 1-6.
(It's a long window so that those of us that have to be interrupted still have a chance. I don't expect you all to write nonstop...but if you do, you'll probably win! ;-)

Hopefully this will help out some of you struggling to make your NaNoWrMo goal!

The prize is-

1) You will get a lot of writing done. ;-)
2) We will respect your creativity and typing abilities.
3) I will send you Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande

Get ready!
Feel free to chat on the comments page about what's going on and how you are doing.
I hope you can participate. Don't worry if you can't get a lot done-- join in anyways! Some of us are going to stay in the low hundreds, don't worry. You won't be alone. ;-)

Thanks so much!
Miss Pickwickian

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

His Steadfast Love is Forever!


Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I can not even begin to list the many blessings that have engulfed us this year.

God is good even when we can't understand Him. Even when we go through sorrows or confusion.
He is so much bigger and wiser than I possibly can imagine.

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
~James 1:16-18

We will miss you, our beautiful, loving, exuberant Grandy.
You have always been so much of our Thanksgiving, ever pointing us towards Christ and the many, many blessings he has showered on us!

One of those greatest blessings was you!

But now you are with him, enjoying a far greater feast in his presence. And you are well and there is no pain and no longing.
For now, we will miss you...
but mostly selfishly. :-)

May we rejoice in the two new lives God has given to our family. Although they may not have met their dear Grandy, they will grow in the shadow of devotion and we pray that someday mirror her dedication to Christ.

The Lord gives and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

One day we will all be together at a feast far beyond our imaginations and in the awesome presence of our Savior.

How can we not overflow with praise and thanksgiving?

May we be filled with gratitude and song while we work at the tasks He has given us.

Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil--this is the gift of God."
~Ecclesiastes 5:18-19

Give thanks to the Lord for His steadfast love is forever!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Miss Pickwickian


I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
~ G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Back to Routine


So, today I'm having a serious talk with myself. I need to get back to my daily word count.

I've been hammering through the rewrites on my short story, but now I've sent it to some trusted friends and I'm trying to remain at peace while I wait for feedback. Hopefully they'll still talk to me. :-)

This morning didn't go so well. You can ask Suzy. ;-)

I grabbed anything in arms reach to distract me...and since I've been trying to teach myself to enjoy poetry, Suzy got a good dose of Shakespeare's sonnets, Oscar Wilde, and Lord Byron.

I did discover a few things...

I've read Shakespeare's Sonnets more than once now, but it was an interesting review.

I'm fairly new to Oscar Wilde's poetry.
Suzy rejoiced over The Grave of Keats (I think Bright Star scared her forever) and reveled in The Dole of the King's Daughter although I'm not sure we figured out what it means exactly. I like Oscar Wilde's frequent references to Shakespeare and his characters too. His Ode to Portia is kind of cool.

I confessed I laughed during Byron's Lines Inscribed Upon a Cup Formed from a Skull. I don't think it was Suzy's favorite though. :-)
I discovered When we Two Parted which is what In Silence or Tears is based of (this is on the Gaudreau, Bennett, and Auldridge album, This Old Town). I had no idea. I love that song!
That was kind of cool.

All this caused me to irrupt in a few stanzas dedicated to Suzy, but she was not impressed.

So yes...I have writer's block.

But I will conquer it this afternoon.
I just need to tie myself to my chair, remove all the books from my reach, and start typing.
So yeah...I guess I should get going.

Sorry for the ramble,
Miss Pickwickian

Saturday, November 20, 2010

King Lear - William Shakespeare :-)


King Lear Admonishing Cordelia by Henri Fuseli
We were all set up to study King Lear in highschool, but something happened and we didn't. After reading Deep Comedy I knew I simply had to make it a priority. :-)

So I read it.
I tried to read it straight through without looking at any notes or criticism the first time round. Then I watched the latest movie version, reread the play, reread the portion in Deep Comedy that talks about King Lear, and then investigated some other interpretations. It was extremely interesting.

I'm really glad I worked through it on my own to start with.
I've never really done that with a Shakespeare play, and it was very good. And I didn't get too confused. :-) And I was able to figure who was bad and who was good all on my own! Yeah!

So, anyways...I really liked it. Even more than I thought I would.

Here's a few lines from the play

Edmund 1.2.118-128
"This is the excellent foppery of the world, that when we are sick in fortune-- often the surfeits of our own behavior-- we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, the stars, as if we were villains on necessity, fools by heavenly compulsion, knaves, thieves, and teachers by spherical predominance, drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforced obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in by a divine thrusting-on. An admirable evasion of whore-master man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of the star."

Albany 4.2.
"This shows you are above,
You justicers, that these our nether crimes
So speedily can venge! But, O poor Gloucester!
Lost he is other eye?"

Edgar 5.3
"The weight of this sad time we must obey;
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The oldest hath borne most: we that are young
Shall never see so much, nor live so long."

Squibbing

Deep Comedy has some really interesting, concise stuff on this play, and even if there weren't a hundred other reasons to read it, you should for Leithart's interpretation of King Lear.

Here's a chunk...

"In an important sense, this pattern of frustrated optimism is a sign of the effect of deep comedy on tragic drama. The play is filled with the unrealized possibility of restoration, redemption, resurrection, in a way that an ancient tragedy could never be. Ancient tragedy took place in a world where resurrection was unknown, where death was the end, but the world of King Lear is potentially a far happier place. The fact that this potential is not realized enhances the feeling of waste."

I wish I could quote all he has to say, but instead here's a paragraph from the conclusion.

"If ancient comedy is haunted by the fear of death, Christian tragedy is haunted by the hope of resurrection. A tragic vision of life makes ancient comedy sad; real hope of a new life in the Christian comic view of things makes Christian tragedy all the more poignant."

Christian tragedy is haunted by the hope of resurrection. I love that.

So I guess I don't have anything very profound to say about King Lear...Not surprising, I'm afraid. But I certainly recommend reading it and thinking about it. :-)

I'd love to hear your thoughts and any good film recommendations. I've watched the 2009 Trevor Nunn/Ian McKellen version (review to come).

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Les Miserables 25th Anniversary




So...where do I begin?

I am relatively new to Les Miserables as a musical. The actual story I have known and loved as long as I can remember. I have no idea why I didn't discover the musical earlier, but I'm glad I've now been thoroughly immersed.

Up until this year all I'd ever seen was some strange black and white video clips where Javert was practically dancing, something that really bothered me. (Note: All the clips I saw were not from professional performances.)

And as I am not a big musical fan in general (think Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, West Side Story, etc.) I didn't really look into it.
When I saw Philip Quast as Javert I changed my mind.

Last night we went and saw the broadcast of the 25th Anniversary performance.

First off, it was amazing. Not to say it was better than the 10th Anniversary Dream Cast, but it was really wonderful!

If I had to rate them, I'd have to say this new one is more visually pleasing, but on the whole I'd have to go with the Dream Cast's voices. Especially Marius, Fantine, and Jean Val Jean. I did like Enjolras, Gavroche, and the young Cosette a lot better in the new one. Gavroche was awesome. If vibrato bothers you, you'd probably like the 2010 performance better.

The 25th Anniversary performance is also longer and fills in a lot of what was taken out of the 1995 performance. This makes the story make more sense if you are not familiar with it. It also gives Gavroche another cool section. :-) But I can see why most of it wasn't in the 1995 performance. (It's also more severely PG-13 rated, I'm afraid.)

So, be forewarned. I am no connoisseur. I'll have to say is on personal taste. Don't take it too seriously or harshly. All Les Miserables is awesome, it can't help it. :-)


Alfie Boe as Jean Val Jean.
I felt like he depended more on acting than some other Valjeans and he just lost some of the depth and general awesomeness and drama of his songs. But this could just be me.
I did like him. But he wasn't Colm Wilkinson for sure. It was an interesting to see a different interpretation.
My biggest and weighing disappointment was Alfie Boe at Fantine's death scene. He totally ruined "run", which is like my favorite part! :-)


I thought I just didn't like the Cosettes I'd seen, but I guess it's just her part...
I thought this Eponine was really good.
(Lea Salonga, who played Eponine in the 1995 performance played Fantine in the 2010. It was a little weird, but I liked her voice much better then I did as Eponine. Still, she didn't sing "I Dreamed a Dream" like Ruthie Henshall. :-)
I had very mixed feelings about Nick Jonas being Marius. Even more so after Suzy told me he was one of the Jonas Brothers. LOL.


I thought Norm Lewis aced this. I was disappointed with his suicide scene, though.


Philip Quast remains Javert for me to the end. Norm Lewis was totally awesome at some points, but I thought he changed too quickly and his last couple songs were not Javert to me. The way Philip Quast sings "Javert" is amazing!


I was pretty scared about what was going to happen to this song...
Michael Ball is so awesome, but I thought at least Nick Jonas made up for something visually.

I'm sure he's going to get a lot of flak, but I seriously thought he did a pretty good job. As a young noob type Marius he was great.

But how could it possibly compare to this...

He's got to have one of my favorite voices ever.

This was the highlight for me! Colm Wilkinson is really outstanding. I have to say he's my favorite Jean Val Jean just because he puts so much emotion into his singing, while still keeping it completely beautiful. Also, he can hold a note for all eternity. :-) Something Alfie Boe barely tried.

This video is not from the actual performance we saw in the movie theater. A couple of the singers are different but the important thing is Colm Wilkinson, Ramin Karimloo, and Michael Ball are there. Sorry about the bad video quality.

You can find more videos on Youtube, if you'd like to see more of the performance.

So, there is really so much I can say, but I'm going to quit there. Someday I'll just have to have have a week for Les Miserables book, movies, dramatized tapes, and musical. ;-)

I've listened to a London and Broadway cast and still like the Dream Cast best. Does anyone have favorites for the parts or recommendations for other recordings?

How amazing is it that a musical this strongly Christian and with these themes has effected so many?
We need to produce more stuff this quality. You can't help but love it.

My conclusion...
I had an absolutely amazing night. I am so thankful I was introduced to this musical.
And we should own both the 2010 and 1995 DVDs and CD sets. ;-)

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian