Monday, July 27, 2015

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Vlog #7 - July


Talking about the summer of the 'tire apocalypse,' summer movies and television shows and catching up on what I've been reading.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Middle-Child Media Study


     This was partly inspired by Naomi's (Wonderland Creekpost about busting the stereotype of older sisters and partly because I am a middle child and can understand the complexities of middle child syndrome. All middle children are different, but the term "middle child syndrome" exists for a reason. Oftentimes, middle children tend to be loners, preferring to go at their own rate and pace. Middle children seem lost in the shuffle and oftentimes don't open up easily to people.

     Literature and media seem to enjoy separating the middle child character and making them as different from the rest of the family as possible. Whether it's the (overly unfair) stereotype of the plain boring sister (Edith Crawley and Mary Bennett) or the popular wild child with no regards for rules (Tristan Ludlow and Arya Stark) or the person who is just finding their own way (Marianne Dashwood and Laura Ingalls Wilder), no two middle children are the same.

~ ~ ~

The Invisible Sister

Edith Crawley 
L-R: Lady Edith, Lady Mary and Lady Sybil
     How I will always love Julian Fellowes for popularizing the invisible sister in the most negative way. Edith Crawley came onto the Downton Abbey scene in the pilot episode of season 1 and was immediately dubbed, the ugly sister. Fellowes went the extra mile by also giving Edith a mean, vengeful, shallow personality and oftentimes came off as thinking only of herself. As a matter of fact the Mary//Edith debate is a consistent point of contention between my older sister, who is always defending Mary and me, who tries to see the good in Edith when no one else can. For the first two seasons of Dowton Abbey, Edith was thoroughly unliked and even the media enjoyed making fun of her. To be honest, I think it was a terrible portrayal for the middle child, but it is Julian's story. 

     In season 3, Edith's life takes a drastic turn when she is jilted at the alter and sadly, most of the blame is on her father. Afterwards, there was a new perspective to Edith. For so long she was seen as manipulative and cruel and people longed for the day when she would get her comeuppance, but then it happens and guess what? Fans are furious!! Edith didn't deserve that! She deserves to have someone love her! If Mary can marry the man of her dreams, why can't Edith???

      Eventually Edith gains her own independence and pretty much forges her own life separate from Downton Abbey. By the time season 5 ended, mistakes and hard life experience, mixed in with a little forgiveness and grace have created a completely different Edith who is now one of the most beloved characters on the show. Edith isn't an angel, but she isn't a demon either. As with middle children portrayal, she's complex and confusing and desperate for attention, but she's also creative, understanding and willing to except change and change for Lady Edith is a very good thing.

Mary Bennet
L-R: Lizzy Bennet, Jane Bennet and Mary Bennet
     I have always had a hard time understanding the point behind Mary Bennet or if she was written to prove that not all the Bennet girls were lovely? In the book (and films) Mary Bennet is another negative portrayal of the ugly invisible sister. Although she's a talented pianist and avid reader, Mary is boring with no sense of humor and give little care to her appearance. Sandwiched between her two beautiful older sister's, Jane and Lizzy, and her two mischievous, but equally pretty younger sister, Kitty and Lydia, Mary spends most of her time by herself and not invading either of the biological buddy systems in the Bennet household. In the book, little attention is given to Mary and what is given is usually in a humiliating and irritating form. By the end, Mary seems to have gone through some mild changes, but still there is no focus on her as a character. Quite frankly, I think the books would have done just fine with four sisters who all had equal representation than with five sisters where one child serves no purpose at all.

~ ~ ~

The Rebel Child

Tristan Ludlow
L-R: Alfred Ludlow, Samuel Ludlow and Tristan Ludlow
     My first introduction to Brad Pitt came in his award winning characterization of the rebel middle son, Tristan Ludlow in Legends of The Fall. Set in Montana in 1914, Tristan Ludlow has had the luxury of always being everyone's favorite. Placed between his practical older brother, Alfred and his educated, but naive younger brother, Samuel, Tristan is the somewhat odd child who doesn't fit in with his family's traditional and proper Edwardian ways. He would rather hunt bears and catch wild stallions than sit in a dining room drinking tea. He's stubborn, but generous and is courageous to a fault. Everyone loves and admires him. So it's no surprise when Samuel's beautiful fiance, Susannah, falls in love with Tristan too. 

     When his little brother is killed in war, Tristan goes through an intense time of grieving and mourning and eventually gives in to his harbored feelings to Susannah. This doesn't sit well with Alfred who is also in love with her and feels that Tristan tried to seduce her while she was still engaged to Samuel. What I love about Tristan is that he can be very sacrificial. Rather than stay and have his brother as his enemy, Tristan leaves to try and figure himself out and after several years, returns home a changed man. 

     While Tristan's problems are far from over, his natural rebel nature is what keeps him going. Tristan always hated being the favorite, he hated the Alfred was overlooked and that he was never there for his brothers when they needed him. As the middle child, Tristan is portrayed in the unusual opposing light as being the favored child, but also keeping with the characteristics of the lonewolf who lives by his own rules.

Arya Stark
L-R: Bran Stark, Arya Stark and Sansa Stark
     I am surprised that I managed to muscle my way through season 1 of Game of Thrones. I could understand why it's so popular; the storyline in general is gripping and the characters are well written and personable. So, when I was introduced the the popular character of Arya Stark I could see why people loved her so much. Arya is the the tomboyish daughter of Eddard and Catelyn Stark of Winterfell and middle of the five Stark children. While she lives in the shadow of her beautiful ladylike older sister, Sansa, Arya is spoiled by her older brother and has no problem bullying her younger brothers. She is especially close to her father's bastard son Jon Snow, who sees the warrior heart that Arya possesses and believes that one day she is going to make a difference as a skilled fighter. Arya uses her position as the middle child to her advantage. She is able to sneak away with no one noticing and is able to dream about a life far away from Winterfell. As true to the loner characteristics so often seen in middle children, Arya survives because she is better on her own. 

~ ~ ~

The Balanced Child

Laura Ingalls Wilder
L-R: Mary Ingalls, Carrie Ingalls and Laura Ingalls
     As a child, Laura Ingalls always seemed to be one-upped by her prettier older sister Mary, but that was what made her life story so endearing. The simple life of the middle sister moving all around the American prairie. Laura Ingalls can easily be described as a romantic, a person who strives to see the beauty in anything and everything and oftentimes that nature is seen in the middle child who is caught between both the younger child and the older child. While Laura's main problems seemed to be with Mary when they were little girls, she never seemed to have any general middle child syndrome and that was probably because her little sister Carrie came when she and Mary were older. And Laura enjoyed being an older sister to Carrie who eventually became her best friend after Mary went off to school, which was hard on the whole family, but especially Laura who had developed a deep close friendship with Mary over the years. Laura is a perfect example of a middle child who doesn't seem to bear the usual innate qualities of middle child syndrome. She's balanced in who she is as a daughter and most especially as a devoted sister.

Marianne Dashwood
L-R: Elinor Dashwood, Margaret Dashwood and Marianne Dashwood
     Marianne Dashwood is a middle child who actually seems to enjoy her position! While constantly fussed over by her older sister Elinor, Marianne has no problems bullying her younger sister Margaret. She is a romantic by heart and oftentimes lets her emotions overcome her common sense. Marianne is hardly someone who prefers to be left alone and enjoys parties and social gatherings. While she may be balanced in her position as the middle sister, she tends to demand too much of both sisters. Marianne expects Margaret to have the social graces of someone twice her age and for Elinor to step down from her role as the dutiful older sister and have fun. I wouldn't call Marianne a spoiled child, but she is very use to seeing the world her own way. As her character develops in the story, Marianne must learn that the world is a far greater place than she imagined and must understand that too much expectations of a person, can cause you to never understand them at all. 

~ ~ ~


      I can't say that I enjoy being the middle child, but I've been the middle child for 16 years and so it just becomes an identification for me. I can also say that I am prone to middle child syndrome and trying to get my family to understand the stresses of being the middle child is next to impossible. That's why I have a blog; I'm able to say what I want to say without the aggravation of being interrupted or the humiliation of being ignored. While some say that the middle child is social, I disagree and believe that the major common denominator is that middle children are oftentimes alone and secluded, which is why they also tend to be creative and work hard at what they're good at. There's is no perfect position in the family (and never will be), there's no denying that the middle tends to be the most unique.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Jonathan & Martha Kent Appreciation Post


      Writing real and honest parents for a television show nowadays is almost impossible. More often than not, parents play little to no role in the lives of their onscreen children and when they do, they are annoying, passive and completely unbelievable. In the case of Smallville, the writers got Jonathan and Martha Kent absolutely right. They struck a perfect balance of strict but doting parents who gave young Clark Kent a childhood and growing up experience that was nothing short of idyllic. 

     In the Superman mythos, Jonathan and Martha only play a small role in as Clark's adopted parents, but Smallville completely fleshed out both characters by giving them both deep and emotional backgrounds that play into the storyarch of Clark Kent's growing up. When I first started watching Smallville, Jonathan and Martha were immediate favorites. I loved how they were written as just ordinary people who were also very good people and how their simple moral lives heavily influenced, not only their son, but everyone they came in contact with. Throughout the show people are always remarking the hardworking and honest Kents, they're respected in their community and even the Luthors have a great deal of respect for them.  

Jonathan and Martha
     I think I enjoyed the Kents so much is because Jonathan and Martha reminded me of my parents and the Kents household wasn't too different from my own household. The Kents struggle financially and because of that, Clark isn't always able have what he wants. While Martha and Jonathan aren't able to give their son material wealth, they are able to provide him with a great deal of love and nurturing, as well as discipline and wisdom. 

     Jonathan Kent is just a great character and is probably the best television dad I've seen (and I haven't seen a lot). It's abundantly clear that he loves his family and will do whatever it takes to protect his wife and son. However, the show didn't make Jonathan perfect; he has a beastly temper and can be judgmental with people he doesn't trust. There were times even I felt that Jonathan could lighten up on his son and on other people, but that was the reality of Jonathan. He does what he thinks is right, not based on the opinions of others. The most human aspect of Jonathan Kent is truly found in his deep moral nature and how he passes these moral characteristics on to his son. 

     Martha Kent was amazing from beginning to end! After Jonathan died in S5, they could have just wrapped up Martha's story by having her stay at home as a widow, but instead they created a whole new story for Mrs Kent. Martha becomes senator of Kansas and then went off to the U.S. Senate which then left Clark free to leave Smallville and move to Metropolis. By the end of the show, the Martha at Clark's wedding is very different from the Martha that was getting her son ready for his first day of high school. Yet, she is still Clark's mother whether a homemaking farmer's wife or the head of the Senate.

  

      A story that portrays parents in a positive, but honest light is a story that is probably worth looking into. Smallville made Jonathan and Martha Kent two characters worthy of respect and not for any great deeds done, but rather as two decent people who loved deeply and never compromised in whatever situation they were in. Jonathan and Martha raised their son to be a good man, an honorable man who would one day change the world.


Friday, July 17, 2015

Si Volvieras A Mi (If You Would Come Back To Me)


     I love Josh Groban! I've been listeing to him since I was about 9 or 10 years old and it's impossible to choose a favorite song, but this Spanish love song would definitely be a top favorite.

Here's the English translation:

How to survive
How to calm my thirst
How can I continue without you
How can I jump without a net [to catch me]
With that farewell so savage and cruel
You took away all I had
Time came to a halt
And my heart is now a desert

Oh if you came back to me
The sun would raise 1000 spring times
If you but came back to me
Every kiss you gave me would be miraculous
But today you're gone
And there is no turning back

What is there after you?
More than these tears
Like the rain in a garden
Playing endless music,
Cold and tragic.
Now on bended knee I plead to God
That for the good of us both
Something might break inside you when you listen
To this idiot dying of love

Oh if you came back to me
The sun would raise 1000 spring times
If you but came back to me
Every sight of me would be miraculous.
But today you are gone
And there is no return for us

You let loose a hurricane,
The fire and fury of a volcano
That I don't know how to stem
Being the fool that I was
A slave to you
I just can't do that anymore.

Oh if you would just come back to my life,
if you come back
If you returned me,
I would be happy once again
But today you are gone
And there is no turning back.


Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July!!

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me.
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free
While God is marching on.

~Julia Ward Howe

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Karol: A Man who became Pope//The Pope, the Man


     When Pope John-Paul II (formerly Karol Wojtyla , pronounced Voy-tee-wuh) died ten years ago, April 2005, I really had no idea who the man was, other than he was the head of the Catholic Church. Being a Protestant, I was never raised to believe in one leader of the church. However, that week was one of the most fascinating weeks I’ll ever remember.

     There was already in a great deal of hype due to the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles who were to marry that Friday. Then the whole world (Catholic, Protestant and non-believers alike) sat in silence during the televised funeral of the longest reigning pontiff in history, then in anticipation of the Conclave at St. Peter’s Basilica and the impending decision of the new chosen Pope.

     So, fast forward four months later and we see a preview on Hallmark promoting a movie about the life of Karol Wojtyla, simply titled Karol: A man who became Pope. Our first reaction was, “That was fast!” Then later on we found out that the movie had been made almost two years before and had even been screened at the Vatican. So, my family and I decided to sit down and watch it. By the end of the three hours I honestly never felt such an understanding of any person (real or fictional) in my life. It was that good.

~ ~ ~

Karol: A man who became Pope


     On September 1, 1939 in Poland, Hitler launches his attack on the Polish people. 19 year old Karol Wojtyla (Piotr Adamczyk), a young college student, finds all he holds dear being torn away from him as the war progresses. Jews being dragged to concentration camps, priests being shot, innocent people being murdered if they resist the laws of the diabolical governor general Hans Frank (Matt Craven); one by one, Karol must watch as his friends are killed for no other reason than they are believed to be a degenerate race of people.

     In the midst of this horror, Karol questions how he survives and if there is some purpose for him. Eventually, he comes to see that God is calling him to the most unlikely vocation, the priesthood. Sworn to absolute secrecy, Karol studies for the priesthood and by the time the war ends, he believes that that this as truly God’s calling for him.

     With the ending of Nazism, came the beginning of Communism. While there is a strained relationship between government and religion in Poland, the Communist Party has given the Poles more freedom of religion than most of Soviet Blok countries. Now Father Karol is teaching at Lublin University as a professor of religious ethics and becomes a favorite among all the young students.

     However, not everyone is impressed with the up and coming priest, most especially, Julian Kordek (Hristo Shopov) a law-bound government official (think the Polish version of Javert from "Les Miserables") becomes aggravated by Karol’s religious intellect and spiritual insight on every matter in life. While Kordek does everything in his power to bring the young priest down, Karol continues to gain more popularity and power through his theological teaching, generous nature, risk-taking motives and understanding of human suffering.

     In 1979, following the unexpected death of Pope John-Paul I, Karol Cardinal Wojtyla (age 58) finds himself far from his beloved homeland and sitting at St. Peter’s Basilica voting for a new Pope. Suddenly, his mentor, Cardinal Wyszynski, comes and informs him of his belief that God has chosen Karol to be made Pope. Shocked and frightened, but obedient, Karol wins by a landslide and is made the first Polish Pope in history and is named Pope John-Paul II. At the end of the film, actual footage is shown on the real John-Paul addressing the crowds in Vatican Square for the first time, beginning his legacy as one of the greatest Popes in history.

~ ~ ~

Karol: The Pope, the Man

     April 2005 - As Pope John-Paul II lies in his Vatican apartment; ill and dying, while people stand out in Vatican Square praying for the beloved Pope whose dignity, courage and humanity changed the world. In his twenty-seven years as Pope, John Paul remained a man of the people, someone who wasn’t unattainable, a man who spoke to the human heart and understood loss and suffering, a Pope who preached love and lived it every single day.

     1979-2005 - After John-Paul’s election, the Communist Party is anything but thrilled as the idea of a Pope from behind the Iron Curtain (a term used for the Soviet Blok countries). After a failed assassination attempt and the assassin, Ali Agha, caught and in prison, they realize that they have created a living martyr that has only brought him closer to the world. By 1989, John-Paul has helped to end Communism and give back to Poland and other Communist countries the freedom they so desperately fought and died for.

     Being the Pope is not easy and is often times a lonely life. For John-Paul, though, he made every minute count through traveling to foreign countries. He journeys to Mexico where he condemns the Catholic Church for aiding the corrupt government, to India where he visits Mother Theresa in her hospitals and Uganda where the people suffer from the rebel armies, but where one young priest refuses to back down from their terror.

     While back in Italy, he remains a priestly character when he comforts a mother who lost her young son, visiting sick children and remaining a voice of reason in world and social issues. Yet, his health from the assassination attempt, eventually paired with Parkinsons begins to slowly drain the physical life out of him until he is finally bed-ridden and left to recount his extraordinary journey as a Pope, a leader, a friend, a counselor, an ally and above all, a man who obeyed God.

~ ~ ~


     I love good accurate biographies, but these two films went beyond good. They gave such a sense of reality and personal feeling to a great man who the world owes a great deal of gratitude to. Filmed entirely in Poland and Rome with an exceptional international cast and music done by the legendary Ennio Morricone, the Karol series tell the story of a man who answered God’s call from an early age and remained faithful to that call till the day he died.


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