Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Hold your candle steady
And keep a sharp lookout 
For back among the shadows
You'll see goblins peeping out 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

North & South (2004 BBC mini-series)

     I just finished watching an amazing mini-series!!! BBCs North & South based on Elizabeth's Gaskell's novel. I had heard of it and there seemed to be the same cult following similar to BBCs Pride Prejudice. My curiosity and intrigue was well fed, because once I saw the first episode I was completely in love with the story, the characters, the music, the costumes, all of it!

   Set in the in 1850s, lively, lovely, and outspoken Margaret Hale enjoys her life in the countryside of Helstone. Her idyllic world comes to a halt when her father uproots their family and moves to Milton, a cold, harsh city in industrial North of London. While there, Margaret finds unlikely friendship, courage, happiness, and most of all the most unlikely of men.

  ~ ~ ~
Daniela Denby-Ashe as Margaret Hale
     Margaret Hale is as kind and compassionate as she is strong and independent. From the very beginning, she is outspoken and not afraid to let her opinions be heard. Her genuine love for the people around her, whether they be in southern Helstone or northern Milton, is the base of her character.

     Margaret expects the absolute best of people regardless of their position in the society, which is why she becomes so loved by the lower working class people in Milton. At the same time, her generosity to the poor comes at strict odds with the upper class society who think that she is doing great damage by helping others considered below them. Nothing pleases Margaret more than proving people wrong and she gives herself wholeheartedly to those in need

     The only person that Margaret sees no hope for is John Thornton, owner Marlborough Mills.

~ ~ ~

Richard Armitage as John Thornton
      John Thornton is as cold as the Milton winds and as hard as the winter's ice. After his father committed suicide, leaving him and his mother and sister in poverty, John works his way up the social ladder, through hard work, iron will, determination and a mother who ceaselessly instilled all of these qualities into him. He becomes one of the most respected business in London as well as the most eligible.

     Margaret's first 'meeting' with Mr. Thornton is rather an unfortunate one, when she sees him beating an employer for smoking in the mill. John's reason for doing so is for the safety of the mill and the workers, but Margaret refuses to see any truth and writes Thornton off as a cruel and harsh taskmaster.

~ ~ ~

Brendon Coyle as Nicholas Higgins
     A leader of the union workers, Nicholas is fed up with the poor living conditions of his fellow workers and their families, while the wealthy are ignorant of the squalor around them. His oldest daughter, Bessy, befriends Margaret and eventually she is welcomed into the Higgins home.

     In spite of his revolutionary ways, Nicholas is calm and level headed. He wants a better life for his class, but not at the expense of harming others around him. Eventually, Nicholas becomes an ally to Thornton and helps him to develop better ways to improve the mill.

~ ~ ~

John & Margaret
     Revolution makes strange friends and even stranger love interests. After Margaret is attacked by a union worker, things begin to unravel between her and John. Over the course of the story John's cold will becomes warmed and sees the workers and the lower class in a different light. Margaret finds herself in even deeper trouble when she is caught in a scandal, but when Thornton covers it up, her opinion of him changes.

     Their story is similar to Darcy and Elizabeth's, only darker and grittier. Their ups and downs are are very real and heartbreaking. They both have been through love and loss, but through loss they find love again in one another.

~ ~ ~

    This is really a great watch; I loved the exquisite costumes and the extraordinary music. The history and romance were woven very well together, as well. The other characters in the series are well worth the enjoyment. Maragaret's loving parents and exiled brother, John's calculating mother and his insipid sister, and the hardworking Higgins family.

   The best part for me was seeing John and Margaret's transforming opinions of each other. Their different backgrounds, beliefs, and social attitudes become challenged during revolution and eventually mutual respect becomes unexpected love in a cold climate.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Malala Yousafzai, schoolgirl shot by Taliban, now in UK

 Dr David Rosser: "We do have very extensive experience of this sort of traumatic, bullet-related injury"

Fourteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in Swat, has arrived in the UK for medical treatment. A renowned campaigner for girls' education, she was attacked on her way home from school last Tuesday and a bullet was removed from her skull.

The Taliban said they targeted her for "promoting secularism".

She is in a serious condition and is being seen by doctors at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. Malala was flown from Pakistan on board an air ambulance provided by the United Arab Emirates and accompanied by a full medical team. A bullet which hit Malala's skull was removed by surgeons in Peshawar in north-west Pakistan last week but she was later transferred to a military hospital for more specialist treatment.

Although Pakistan had initially insisted she could be treated in her home country, a military statement said that a panel of doctors had recommended she be "shifted abroad to a UK centre which has the capability to provide integrated care to children who have sustained severe injury".

On arrival at Birmingham Airport, she was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital by ambulance, traveling at a slow speed because of the nature of her wounds. The hospital has a recently-opened major trauma centre specialising in both gunshot wounds and head injuries. Its specialist team has 10 years of experience of treating UK military casualties and Medical Director Dr. David Rosser said Malala Yousafzai "could be viewed as a battle casualty", which put doctors there "in a good position to treat her". Security, he added, was taken very seriously "at the best of times".

Education campaigner, Malala Yousafzai came to prominence in 2009 at the age of 11, when she started writing a diary for BBC Urdu about life under the Taliban.

Malala Yousafzai (file image)

 Under the pen-name Gul Makai, she described the problems caused by militants who had taken control of the Swat Valley where she lived in 2007 and ordered girls' schools to close.

Although the Taliban were ousted from Swat in 2009, her role as a young campaigner for girls' education meant that she received death threats. She was attacked last week as she returned home from school in the town of Mingora, in the Swat Valley. Two armed men stopped the van she was traveling in. One of them entered the vehicle, asked which of the girls inside was Malala, and fired three shots, hitting her in the head and wounding two others. The bullet that went into her skull had to be removed from close to her spinal cord.

"I felt hurt on opening my wardrobe and seeing my uniform, school bag and geometry box. Boys' schools are opening tomorrow, but the Taliban have banned girls' education”
Malala Yousafzai Diary entry, 8 February 2009 

After she was moved to a military hospital in Rawalpindi, a panel of doctors decided she needed "prolonged care to fully recover from the physical and psychological effects of trauma", the Pakistani military said.
The doctors had advised that if she were to be moved abroad, it should be "during this time window whilst her condition was optimal and before any unforeseen complications had set in," the statement added.

Once Malala recovers sufficiently, she is expected to need treatment to repair or replace damaged bones in her skull and to undergo neurological treatment. The Taliban have threatened to target her again. She was given tight security while she was being treated in

Pakistan and on board the air ambulance, which stopped in Abu Dhabi on its way to Birmingham. 'Example to us all' Dozens of people have been arrested in Swat in connection with the shooting, and most have since been released on bail.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague: "It was a cowardly attack on her and her school friends." A rally in the Pakistani port city of Karachi on Sunday attracted thousands of demonstrators in support of the teenaged campaigner, by far the largest protest against the attack. The UK's Foreign Secretary William Hague said the shooting had "shocked Pakistan and the world" and her bravery was "an example to us all".

"The public revulsion and condemnation of this cowardly attack shows that the people of Pakistan will not be beaten by terrorists," he said. "The UK stands shoulder to shoulder with Pakistan in its fight against terrorism."

Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown - now the UN's Special Envoy for Global Education - has announced the launch of a petition in Malala's name "in support of what Malala fought for."

"The petition calls on Pakistan to ensure that every girl like Malala has the chance to go to school," he said, while also calling on the international community to ensure all children have access to education by the end of 2015.

Mr Brown said he would hand the petition to Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari when he visited Islamabad next month.

Source: BBC News
~ ~ ~

All I can say is that the day of The Woman is coming in the Middle-East and all those who oppose it had better pray for deliverance whether from Allah or God himself.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Stream of Consciousness #5

     Prompt: Being Just me

     I have never really liked talking about myself, and I mean that in all honesty. Sometimes it's not a bad thing, but people have to know who you are, right?

    Well...I tend to be a very eclectic and at the same time picky person. Example, I have never cared about super heroes or comic books until I saw the Avengers and now I love them, but I'm not like super crazy about them.

     I love animals! Especially butterflies and dolphins! I would love to swim with dolphins one day, but I might need to learn how to swim first.

     Reading and writing have always been my favorite activities, but I definitely prefer writing to reading.

     I love shopping, but I don't like doing it with other people, especially clothes boring!!!

     And while most women my age are watching Vampire Diaries, I'm watching Downton Abbey. I prefer my men real be real, thank you very much.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Downton Abbey Confession #10

Tom Branson (Allen Leech) and Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens)

Enough said.

 “I’ve told you before, if we’re mad enough to take on the Crawley girls, we have to stick together"

~ Matthew Crawley to Tom Branson

Monday, October 8, 2012

Snow White and The Huntsman

     So...I don't know what was up with the whole Snow White obsession this year. Mirror Mirror came out in the spring and it was really cute and then then I was really interested in this more 'adult version' of Snow White. It was different to say the least. As a matter of fact this could have been a great stand alone story in itself instead of just making it 'another Snow White movie.'

~ ~ ~

Princess Snow White
     I was actually quite surprised when I found out that Kristen Stewart had been cast as the beloved fairy-tale princess, but then again, this movie is anything but I fairy-tale. She did a good job at it, but she is no Lily Collins.

     The one complaint that people have always had with her, and I agree, is that she is so wooden in her performances. If she had been cast as Snow White for Mirror, Mirror, then that would have been a joke, but Kristen's often times steely exterior worked for the dark portrayal of this film.
     Snow White in this is not a singing dancing princess. She's been in prison since she was ten years old (by her step-mother of all people), she then escapes, runs into a rugged huntsman, and that's pretty much when her story begins. Snow finds out that along with being a princess, she must become a leader. Leadership comes through compassion as well as courage and Kristen Stewart did a decent job at pulling that off.

~ ~ ~

     This is basically Thor, just with an ax not a hammer. In all seriousness though, Chris Hemmsworth did a good job at this role (he was the only reason I went and saw the movie anyway). We never know the Huntsman name, so he's just known by his occupational name.

     Huntsman is a widower, who has some major drinking and anger problems, and is sent out to find Snow when she runs away. When he finds her in the forest, he never bothers to ask her name and so he just assumes that she is just a lost girl. He teaches her how to fight and defend herself and also manages tough negotiations with the dwarves.

     Throughout the course of the film, we get to see Huntsman's cold and cautious nature break down. Burdened by the guilt of his late wife's death, he has cut (no pun intended) everyone out of his life. He wants no one around him, until Snow comes. I wouldn't exactly say it was her sweetness that changed him, but more or less her will to survive and her passion to save her people.

     The most emotional scene is when he tells an unconsciousness Snow (who is supposedly dead) about how he has lived his life blaming himself for the loss of his wife. All was also hard to except the fact that he was crying (yeah, watching Chris Hemsworth cry is really heartbreaking) over Kristen Stewart of all people, but all things considered he came out of it by breaking the spell and becoming Snow's (very unlikely) true love.

~ ~ ~

Queen Ravena
     Creepy, evil, awful, terrible queen!!! Queen Ravena was about the best evil step-mother queen this story has ever had! Charlize Theron was beautiful and played this role with complete ease and grace. What they did so well with this character was they really went into Ravena's background and discover why she is the way that she is.

     When the king finds Ravena as a prisoner in an enemy camp, he falls immediately in love and marries her the next day. All according to Ravena's plan to take over the kingdom. She then kills the king, puts Snow in prison, and rules the people with a terrible will.

    Ravena's ability stay beautiful is by sucking the youth out of younger woman (which is what happened to Huntman's wife), a morbid and horrific way to do things, but unique at the same time. The best thing about the character is that we get to see how Ravena came to evil and why she is compelled to do what she does. Most of the time you just want to take a knife and stab her in the back and then there are rare moments where you do really pity her.

~ ~ ~

Prince William
     At first I was confused as to where William fit into all this. He's Snow's childhood friend and when Ravena's forces take over, he and his father flee to the forest. Now by that point I thought that William was going to become the Huntsman and it would be this whole deal of childhood friends reuniting and falling in love. Not so in this case. William and Huntsman are two very different men, with very similar values.

     When we meet William again, he's a feisty and headstrong soldier who is ready to take Ravena down and restore Snow back to her throne. He and Snow find one another in this whole tangled mess and there's an instant love renewal between them...except Snow keeps looking behind her shoulder to that shifty Huntsman.

     You could immediately make the conclusion that William is going to be a jealous and over-bearing prince who wants Snow to himself, but he is completely opposite of all that. He's everything you would think Snow White's prince to be, loyal, courageous, and honorable, but in the end only one man can be Snow White's true love.
~ ~ ~

Huntsman and the dwarfs
     And what's Snow White without the seven merry dwarfs? Ok, these guys are far from merry, but they are definitely the comic relief of the whole movie. Their storyline in this isn't too different from Mirror, Mirror. They're basically thieves and bandits who have been forced to live in the deep forest and will kill (or at least terrify) anyone who comes near their territory. Through Snow's compassion, Huntsman trust, and William's loyalty, they become great assets to bringing Snow back to her throne.

~ ~ ~

     An interesting movie, a bit gory, with intense action, and some fabulous costumes. It was probably the most different take on fairy-tale story that I've seen yet, but sometimes different and new can be a bit of a relief, because who really wants to see the same story over and over again?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Masterpiece Magic

     With the terrible lack of Downton Abbey looming over the US right now, Masterpiece Theater is showing not one, but two of their other mini-series. Call The Midwife and the remake of Upstairs, Downstairs. My mom and I watched the pilot episode of Midwife on Sunday and that was followed by season one of Upstairs, Downstairs. We had both seen season one when it premiered last year, but we were thrilled when we found out that season two is premiering this Sunday!!!

     The hard truth about having a show as popular as Downton Abbey is that eclipses everything else around it. Like what Harry Potter did with Lemony Snicket. I had read that Call The Midwife was a smash hit in England when it premiered last year and so I was really excited to see it. Upstairs, Downstairs has had a harder time because it came out the same time Downton Abbey did and was totally left in the dust.

~ ~ ~

     Call The Midwife is based on the memoirs of Jennifer Lee (Worth) who becomes a midwife in the East End of London in 1957. She leaves her family, friends, and home to live at Nonnatus House, a nursing convent with several nuns and two other young midwives.

     Now, this show is about as far away from the glamor and beauty of Downton Abbey as you can get. You get a real hard look at the working class life in the 1950s. It's about childbirth, so the stories are painful and brutally honest. 

      Jenny is a great protagonist character and you really just jump into the storyline. The other nuns she lives with are hilarious and her two other co-workers are just as passionate about the midwifery profession as she is.This is a show you probably wouldn't want your younger children watching. There are some circumstances during the childbirth scenes than can almost cause you to get ill, but like I said, it's a very real story. They don't hide or cover anything up.

     This show is going to be a definite favorite.

~ ~ ~

      Upstairs, Downstairs is a remake of the popular 1971 show that has become a classic in British media. It takes a time span between 1903-1930 and follows the lives of the wealthy Belamy family on 165 Eaton Place in London.

     Season 1 of the remake takes place in 1936 with Sir Hallum and Lady Agnes Holland. Hallum is a diplomat who is ready to settle down in the busy life of London and Agnes is more than eager to make their name a popular one.

     Rose Buck, served at Eaton Place as a maid for almost forty years before the house was emptied. Now she comes back (same actress as well) as the housekeeper and most of the Downstairs life is told through her experienced point of view. Eileen Atkins also guest stars as Hallum's sometimes overbearing, but well meaning mother, who grates on Agnes' nerves at every opportunity, at least it seems that way in the beginning.
     Similar to Downton Abbey there are characters you grow to love and you grow to hate. The only actual love story (for now) is between Hallum and Agnus, but season 2 might change that. I can't wait for season 2 which has six episodes, so I'll be in a happy Sunday heaven for quite a while.

Sir Hallam and Lady Agnes Holland
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