Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Thoughts on "Thor"

I know I'm behind the times, but I only just recently got to see Thor (first movie in 3D). The following are random thoughts, not a well-thought-out movie review... Proceed with caution. ;-)

I really had no inclination to see Thor until I heard that it was another Kenneth Branagh/Patrick Doyle director/soundtrack team.

My original indifference was mostly because I'm not a huge superhero/Marvel fan and for some reason it just really seemed like Chris Hemsworth should be Sean Bean...and he wasn't. (Don't try to make sense of that one.)

I walked into the theater with a lot of recommendations but not much idea of who as acting or what the story was all about.

It was a good movie.

Thor was a refreshing character...far from perfect but not blatantly retarded (not the typical "bad boy"). I thought Hemsworth acted wonderfully. Thor was a sympathetic, changing, and mildly complex character who acted realistically (even with the god-factor in there). He turned into a true hero...the best produced by hollywood in a long time.
By the end of the movie, I forgave him for not being Sean Bean, but that was about as far as it got.

Anthony Hopkins was superb (duh). His character (the king) kept much of the movie from becoming cliche.

The whole cast is very typical of a Kenneth Branagh film and meshes together beautifully.

There were moments of goofiness, predictability, or complete unbelievability, but over all, the movie was a fun and clean 114 minutes.

If you know me...you might know what is coming next...
Depending on how you look at it, plot spoilers may lie ahead. Also...let me just say that Tom Hiddleston looks a lot different with straight, black hair.

From the first moment you see Loki you know that they are going to make him have all of these unresolved issues and that he's going to turn against Thor. He's the good boy who will turn bad, while the bad boy will turn good. I was literally hoping beyond hope that they would have just let him be an amazing brother and son. I loved him from the beginning and I knew they would do this to him. Come on. It's so overused.

He could have been amazing.
I want to see a movie where there is simply a supporting character like Loki could have been. I want to see a movie where the child can truly accept the fact that his parents love him for who he is, no matter where he came from. I want to see a movie where a guy can be from the enemy race and still be a good guy.

There were just so many things about the whole situation that I didn't like. It really put a damper on the movie.
Please don't sacrifice a potentially awesome character just to come up with a plot element. There are other more original options.

And of course he's not dead. Who dies in these type of movies?

I know it's all based of a comic book and I'm going to refrain from blaming people like Kenneth Branagh, but it makes me want to rewrite the story.

Having said all that, I did think it was the best superhero movie to perhaps ever come out (maybe not my favorite, but the best).

They did a great job keeping it interesting, crazy, and clean. Thor was very much the lion and Loki was very much the serpent, but at the same time the characters were more morally complex. It had an interesting focus on the purpose and place of war and actions of individual characters.

At first I thought they were going to do a lot with the whole "god" thing, but they actually go out of their way to explain him as not being a god at all (although he still is the god of thunder...not sure how that works). Certainly the most unobjectionable movie of its type.

Really enjoyed it. I'll just have to make up an alternate reality for the whole Loki aspect.

Visit my sister's blog to see her take.
I would enjoy hearing your thoughts.

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Monday, May 30, 2011

"Les Miserables" for Life

Thank you to all who contributed in various ways to the Les Miserables event.

Unfortunately I had the flu last week and was swamped creating a new missions blog, editing my sad book, and trying to catch up on life after engagements, graduations, and general insanity. I would have liked to dedicate much more time and thought to the whole event, but I'm happy with the participation, ideas, and fun.

Thank you to those who donated their time, efforts, and resources. It is all greatly appreciated.

Les Miserables is far from done on the Erratic Muse. It's probably going to pop up on a regular occasion. There will be more Javert posts...I'm sorry. It doesn't seem like I ever get tired of it and I continually think of things to wonder about the story...just not sure how to say them.

I'm still waiting to sit in front of a live production and to see a decent, true movie adaption. We'll see. I'm sure Les Miserables is not done with me or the world at large.

Thanks again,
Miss Pickwickian

P.S. Tomorrow I'll finally post my Thor review that's been waiting and then I'm going to finally talk about Poland! YAY!

Second Prize Essay

Visit Unoriginal Originality to see Jennoenell's second prize essay, Redemption.  You'll enjoy it. :-)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

What was Victor Hugo trying to say?

Today I refer you to Rosanne's blog to read her winning essay, The Root of the Matter: Victor Hugo's Les Miserables.
An excellent look at how a religiously confused author could write something so amazing and how we should look at it.

Read it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

~Les Miserables Contest Winners~

Original artwork by Elizabeth from My Father's World

Thank you everyone who participated. I only picked the top seven essays for placement, but I appreciate all who took the time and entered.

I learned a lot from reading your essays, not only on Les Miserables as a story, musical, and movie but also on completely different views. I was surprised at some of the plot elements that came up differently depending on where the essay writer had first experienced the story (musical, book, movie versions).
The viewpoints were so wide and wonderful that I got a much bigger idea of how Les Miserables is seen by many people. I didn't agree with you all, but I found it all fascinating and educational. Thanks for your hard work!

We had four judges who worked hard to rate these essays on style, grammar, content, and interest. This was a blind contest. The judges did not know the essay authors.

If you are a winner you will receive an email with info on receiving your prize and remarks on your essay. Thanks for participating.

Now...to the placements. :-)

"24601: Chains will never bind me"

Ring by Foxwise

7th Place
Charity from Live in Living Color for her essay, Rescue and Redemption.

Original artwork by Elizabeth from My Father's World
6th Place
Anna for her essay Les Miserables, Popular from Day One!

Charm Necklace
5th Place
Susannah from Life is too short not to wear Red Shoes for her essay, Eponine vs. Cosette, in the musical of Les Miserables.

"There is a flame that never dies."

Bracelet by Foxwise

4th Place
Emma Selmo Johnson for her essay, Les Miserables Essay on changes in the new American tour.

Say it Sweet
has a beautiful collection of Les Miserables themed posters full of awesome Victor Hugo quotes.
3rd Place
Katelyn for her essay, Mercy, Justice, and other Melodies in Les Miserables.

Amazing 20 page long book with graphics, quotes, and lyrics from Les Miserables designed and created especially fort his event by Picture Perfect.
2nd Place
Jennoelle from Unoriginal Originality for her essay, Redemption.

1st Place
Rosanne from Rosanne E. Lortz for her essay, The Root of the Matter: Victor Hugo's Les Miserables

Thank you all again.

A huge thank you to all the people who contributed greatly to the prizes--for your creativity and generosity.
Thank you to the judges and everyone who gave feedback.

Hopefully you'll be seeing some of these essays around soon. :-)

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Music and Victor Hugo

Music expresses that which can not be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.
~Victor Hugo

I think he would approve of the musical.

Essay winners will be announced tomorrow. :-)

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

In which I go on about Javert again....

I know I've talked about Javert at great length before...but this is Les Miserables week after all. I can't possibly talk about Les Miz without Javert.

Without Javert, Les Miz would lose its beautiful story.

I don't mean that Javert is the main character or that he is highly admirable. But without his contrast against Jean Valjean, you would lose much of the compelling character elements of the story.
Isn't one of the major elements of the story how Javert and Jean Valjean react differently to similar changes, feelings, and circumstances?
The musical highlights this directly and beautifully and the book more subtly and satisfyingly. I can't really even talk about the movie versions. Most of them have some fatal error (in my opinion) when depicting Javert. Geoffry Rush does a great job in moments, but the whole ending is awful.

I sincerely believe that Javert is one of the most fascinating characters in all of fiction. Victor Hugo really shows his genius with his creation.

One of my great disappointments with the musical is the way it handles the section when Javert reacts after accusing Monsieur Madeleine of being Jean Valjean. This is a major point of Javert's character. It proves that he holds himself to the same standards. This is one of the only points I resonate with Geoffry Rush's portrayal.

The musical shows this briefly in Javert's last scenes when he insists Jean Valjean should shoot him, but I think it's an important part of Javert that should be shown as it is in the book. The way the musical is, that earlier section doesn't even really make sense.

Having said that, I think otherwise the musical does a fabulous job of capturing the complexities of Javert...an unimaginably hard task. My original turn off for the musical when I only heard about it was picturing Javert singing. Somehow they pulled it off beautifully.

I want to write characters as complex and intriguing, as consistent yet changing, as human and yet bigger than life as Javert. And I'm going to keep studying Victor Hugo until I can. I know I'll never master it, so this probably means I should die with Les Miserables in my hands, but I want to learn all of it I can.

What do you think? What other characters really stand out to you in fiction? They don't have to be good. They just need to feel real and fascinating. How do authors do it?

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Beautiful Piano Arrangements

Random Updates and House Cleaning


Even the Darkest Night by Zavalick Designs on Etsy was won by Cassie! Congratulations!

Thank you so much Zavalick Designs for hosting this awesome giveaway and thank you to all who entered. Cassie, email me so we can get this shipped out to you!


You all have until 4pm to send in your essays for the contest! Email me at pickwickian.forever(at)gmail(dot)com.

Last Week

-My younger sister graduated and my older brother got engaged! Crazy, awesome week.

-I have until June 10th to finish my book. Insanity!

-After June 12th, I will be taking a more relaxed view of blogging for a month while I have a blast at our Church camp and spend two weeks in Poland. Right now I'm struggling to keep posts interesting, timely, and lively. After I return full force in July, I want to give the Erratic Muse some rethinking and possible reorganizing.

-I'm terribly excited about Les Miserables week and I hope I can come up with some intelligent posts. With last week, I had no time to prepare and this morning I woke up at 3am with the flu...again. Unpleasant surprise.

-I'm currently trying to work on/help with some other blog projects including our farm blog and a blog with info about our Poland trip. I'll be posting more about that soon.

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Monday, May 23, 2011

24 Hours for your Entries!

Welcome Les Miserables Week! Link up on the event page and let the miserableness begin!

For you who are still trying to send your Les Miz essays in you are now beginning the 24 hr grace period. By 4pm tomorrow all entries will be closed.

To add to your motivation (or anticipation if you are one who has already submitted their entry) look at these following amazing prizes. It has been a pleasure to work with different artists, etsy shops, and others who have helped donate or give input to this event.

Runner up prizes will include Les Miz themed jewelry, artwork, books, and posters.

If we more than 100 essays are submitted a recording of Les Miz will go to the second prize winner.

Picture coming soon!

Book of Les Miz themed photo art along with phrases from the lyrics.

"There is a flame that never dies."

Bracelet by Foxwise

"24601: Chains will never bind me"

Ring by Foxwise

Say it Sweet
has a beautiful collection of Les Miserables themed posters full of awesome Victor Hugo quotes. The winner will be able to choose their favorite quote as well as background, colors, etc.

Coming Soon!
Original Les Miz artwork!

Charm Necklace
Charms could be worn together or alone. I think Rustic Charm did an awesome job combining different themes and phrases from Les Miz.

Thanks for reading! I am excited about the upcoming week.

Miss Pickwickian

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hansken - Rembrandt

It's time for another Rembrandt...

By Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669)

Love his sketches and since one of my sisters' current fascination is elephants, I thought this was appropriate. :-) I also learned all sorts of things about Hanskin herself on Wikipedia...

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Word by Word

What I have in advance are people I want to write about and a problem or problems that I see those people encountering and that I want to explore - it all proceeds sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, and scene by scene.

~Chaim Potok

Monday, May 16, 2011

Les Miserables Giveaway

by Zavalick Designs on Etsy

The deadline for your Les Miserables Essays is one week away! We have some amazing, wonderful prizes lined up including posters, books, jewelry, and original artwork. Enter away. :-)

To start the Les Miserables week hype, I'm hosting this giveaway! If you're planning on posting about Les Miz, please read about the event and link up here . Spread the word!

To Enter-

-Tell me about your favorite part, song, and/or phrase of Les Miz.

-Visit Zavalick Designs awesome shop and tell me what you like.

-Spread the word about Les Miz week on your blog, facebook, or other available means and link back to The Erratic Muse.

-Put the Les Miz sidebar button on your blog. (If you have already done this, I love you!)

You can do one or all of the above, just make sure you tell me about it in separate comments.

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Friday, May 13, 2011

Editing and readjusting my Mind

...with the mall, my sister, and 50 cent elephants

Earlier this week we spent three beautiful days in Lincoln City writing. I know many of you are probably hideously jealous... But the actual writing part wasn't all that dandy.

I'm on the fourth round of edits for my current nonfiction writing project and it's complete torture. For some reason this book has been extremely painful to write. And you can tell. I'm pretty sure the whole things sounds like someone typing while being hung by their toes.

My deadline is June 10th. I just know I'm not ready to write this book.

Thank God for other people! I have gotten so much input on this project. I am so thankful.

Many people have met with me, emailed me, talked with me, and advised me. And if it all turns rotten, I'm just going to blame it on them. ;-)

As in most things, my sistah friend (a.k.a. Polka Dot/Susannah) has been a huge help. (And yes, I did pirate the above picture directly off her blog.)

We went through the entire manuscript word by word. It was abstract, she made it personal. It was drab, she made it shiny. It was dull as tombs, she made it bouncy and lively. She can think of just the right word or phrase without even pausing. Why is it that writing comes so easy to those who don't even want to pursue it?

After sending the poor book back out for feedback, we packed our suitcases and hit the outlet malls. Susannah found one of those elephants you put quarters in so kids can ride...and yes, she did it. Only it wasn't meant for someone as tall as 5'9". An elderly man walked past and kept looking around and hollering, "That's too funny." So much for being discrete...

We came home and had internet again and Blogger was shut down for over 24hrs. Nice.

I tutor writing on Thursdays. I love writing with kids. They don't bang their head against the table and moan (generally), they just write. And it comes so easy and beautiful and imaginative! I can't begin to explain how teaching writing refreshes, encourages, and readjust my head about the whole thing.

You don't want to hear about our Clackamas Town Center adventure...that's a completely different story. ;-)

Let's just say it's been an interesting, wild, productive, and learning week. In the midst of a beautiful insane weekend, I am going to think about this--

Why is writing so hard for writers?

I think my mind needs some editing.

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Favorite Keyboard Feature

I am in the midst of a three day writing retreat. My nonfiction rough draft is not shaping up...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Ring Giveaway Winner

Thank you so much Khalima for sponsoring this giveaway and for all of you who entered and gave encouraging or helpful comments.

If any of you still have any suggestions or opinions on improvements or posts for The Erratic Muse, please let me know. :-)

The winner is Edith F. Congratulations! Please contact me. :-)

Thank you, all you who participated.
Miss Pickwickian

Black Eyes - The Paganini Duo

Not the best recoding, but this type of violin is...my type. :-)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Shadow of Death - William Holman Hunt

Shadow of Death
by William Holman Hunt (1827-1910)
I think the different themes are fascinating.

If you're not familiar with this painting, read this Wikipedia squib. I don't think they catch all of the symbolism, but it has some interest tidbits.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Les Miserables Event, Contest, and Giveaway

I am now officially ready to launch the Les Miserables project. :-)

I'm hoping this can be a fun event for us all. Please read more and link up if you're interested in participating by reading the event page.

The deadline for the essay contest is also the kickoff for Les Miserables week. Please submit your essays before May 23rd. There are going to be some truly amazing prizes (and they're not all girly, so guys, be motivated too).

I'll be hosting a Les Miserables giveaway to start the fun as soon as I get details figured out.

If you aren't familiar with Les Miz, you really should and it's not too late. Read this post for some ideas to get started.

Artwork for this amazing blog button was done by PolkaDot. Please appreciate her artistry by adorning your blog with it. :-)

Post your link on the event page!

Let me know if you have any questions. I'm very excited about this. :-)

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Riverside - John Gorka


Time is a river
With no riverside
Space a sea
That has no tide

Can't get across, no
It's too wide
If you have loved then
You have cried

We are dust that was
Made in stars
Now we roll off
To work in cars

When we were young
We'd spill our
Dreams in bars
Now we clean up the mess

A little bit of thought
Can make a lot of sense
And every little day
Can make a difference

Yes, I'm speaking in
Present tense
Where my faults
And seams wear through

I can be more than
Than a little dance
You're gonna get splinters
If you ride that fence

Still I like the way
The river bends
When it turns
Back to you

We called it gravy
Never called it sauce
You better learn something
If you love gets lost

Like how hard the hurt
How high the cost
How all smooth
Goes to rust

Time is a river
With no riverside
Space a sea
That has no tide

Can't get across, no
It's too wide
If you have loved then
You have cried.

~By John Gorka

Monday, May 2, 2011

Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ - by John Piper

Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ by John Piper
Crossway Books 2004


In this book soley focused on knowing Jesus, John Piper studies various Scriptures and expounds on different names and attributes. He delves into the character of Christ as portrayed in the entire Bible while ending each chapter with a written prayer.

Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ is an excellent and beautiful study that brings you straight to the core of the Gospel and will make you think about our awe-inspiring God.

Unfortunately, Piper doesn't give you much direct application, which could lead you to put the book down and continue life without much long-term impact. It would be good to ask, “What does this mean for me and my actions?” after every chapter.
Yes, we must see and savor the character of Christ, but what does that mean about our character? Do we act like our Savior is all powerful, wise, merciful, just, selfless, and most of all, alive and reigning?

Overall it is a helpful study, but certainly not all inclusive. I certainly have much I can learn from it...

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian