Saturday, December 31, 2016

Character Sketch: Rebekah Mikaelson

     It's difficult being a teenage girl. It's even more difficult to be a teenage girl who is immortal and one of the oldest vampires in history. Rebekah Mikaleson waltzed onto The Vampire Diaries scene in season 3 after eighty years in a coffin. Beautiful, intelligent, naive and also possessing a selfish and vengeful nature, Rebekah is constantly battling her  vampire immortality with the desire to be a normal human girl.

     Rebekah was born over 1,000 years ago to a Viking family hailing from Norway. Before her birth, her mother and father left their homeland and traveled to North America where they settled in what is now Virginia. Rebekah grew up as the only girl surrounded by five brothers. She was a sweet and independent girl who adored her powerful mother and felt that her father underestimated her. For years her family and their small settlement lived in peace where they were protected by the servants of nature (witches) and were friendly with the native people who transformed into werewolves every full moon.

     However, Rebekah's happy life ended when her younger brother was killed by a werewolf during his transformation. Overwhelmed with grief (and already burdened by a lost of their oldest child back in Norway), Rebekah's parents defy the natural order and use magic and blood to make their family immortal. However, immortality and strength came at a cost and the whole Mikaleson family became slaves to their insatiable blood lusts. Soon, Rebekah and her brothers became hunted by their own father who seeks to destroy the evil he created.

     For as long as she has been a vampire, Rebekah has forever been on the run from her father. Fear can make people deny goodness and mercy in order to survive. In the beginning of The Vampire Diaries, Rebekah is just as cruel and inhumane as her brothers, but the overwhelming kindness and discipline from the residents of Mystic Falls (also her former home) begin to sink into Rebekah. Overtime, she begins to see that she can be good, decent and sacrificial. Once away from the influence of her brothers, Rebekah becomes the independent woman she always longed to be and know that her choices, her life and heart are hers and hers alone to control.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Women, A History: Emmeline Pankhurst - Forger of Women's Equality

Emmeline Pankhurst
Forger of Women's Equality

      Many women paved the way for social equality between men and women, but no one left such a mark as Emmeline Pankhurst. Any woman who voted in the Brexit and the election of the new prime minister last summer; and even women in the U.S. who voted in the presidential election, all owe a great deal of gratitude to Emmeline Pankhurst. She revolutionized women's suffrage and was not afraid to go beyond the boundaries of the law to make herself heard. 

     Born in Manchester England in 1858, Emmeline Goulden was the daughter of a modest merchant who provided well for his family.  The Gouldens were all active politically and socially. They were fierce abolitionists and Uncle Tom's Cabin was a frequent bedtime story to the Goulden children. Oftetimes abolitionists from the United States were frequent visitors to the Goulden household. Unfortunately, Emmeline's parents did not see much of a future for their daughter for advanced education even though they supported women's suffrage. 

     When Emmeline was fourteen she went and heard known suffragist, Lydia Becker speak. Emmeline was so movied by her speech that she declared herself a suffragist that day. When she was twenty, Emmeline met Richard Pankhurst, a forty-four year old barrister and supporter of women's suffrage. Despite her mother's objections, Emmeline and Richard were married a year later on December 18, 1879. Together they had five children; two of her daughters Christobel and Sylvia accompanied their mother during her suffragette travels. 

     In 1898, Richard Pankhurst died from health problems and Emmline was left to care for her large family with considerable debt. In 1903, Emmmeline founded the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) which separated itself from political parties. The WSPU was known for its violent activities such as breaking windows, bombings and public disorder all in the name of women's suffrage. Many women, Emmeline included, were arrested and faced abuse, humiliation and public disgrace. While in prison many women went on hunger strikes, became ill and even died.

     Eventually, the tactics of the WSPU were becoming too controversial and soon united with several other moderate organizations to become the National Union of Women's Suffrage Society (NUWSS). Arrests and hunger strikes still continued for the Suffragette movement, but was put on hold due to WWII where Emmeline believed the war should have the aid of all people. During the war, Emmeline traveled to the U.S. to give her aid and support to the Suffragette movement. 

     After spending time in Russia where she was well known due to her autobiography and where she urged the people not to side with Germany, Emmeline returned to England after the war ended and continued with her work. In 1918, the political atmosphere started to turn in favor to women's rights. Emmeline tried to put together an all women's political party, but was unsuccessful. Eventually, she became more active in the politics of British Unity than in women's suffrage but still continued to support the cause. 

     Years of travel and campaigning for different causes as well as issues with her daughter, Sylvia, began to wear on Emmeline's health. On June 14, 1928, Emmeline died at sixty-nine and is buried in London. She left behind an incredible legacy that is paralleled by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. It wasn't just her role in women's suffrage, but her role in politics in general that defined her as a formidable women with the intelligence and integrity to take on anyone who challenged her position, her thoughts and her beliefs. 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

     Upon hearing the rumors that a new Star Wars film was in the works, I though it was a joke. Then I found out it was a legitimate deal and I still thought it was a joke. However, when my family and I went to see it as a last minute decision last year on Christmas Eve 'Eve' I found myself pleasantly surprised and even happy to back in the Star Wars galaxy, even if the story left with me more questions than answers. 

~ ~ ~

     The Force Awakens is not one story; it's many stories that eventually come together by the end. This is the story of a honorable pilot determined to get the job done, a storm trooper who senses his own humanity and a young orphan who is anything but normal. The story of a family torn apart; a father angry at himself, a mother trying to put herself together again, a son who has given into darkness and a brother who is a legend and who is also lost. And all of these stories are brought together by an extraordinary little astramach droid simply known as BB-8. 

     Thirty years after the destruction of the final Death Star two new powers have taken over the Galactic Empire. The First Order of the Dark Side who seek to undermine all freedom and are adversaries of the New Republic, headed by General Leia Organa. When famed Jedi Luke Skywalker goes missing, Leia sends her best pilot, Poe Dameron, to the Jakku Planet to gain information. However, Jakku is attacked by the First Order and Poe is taken prisoner by Kylo Ren. Poe's droid BB-8 manages to escape with the needed information on Luke's whereabouts. 

     BB-8 is then rescued by Rey, a young scavenger who spends her life alone and waiting for her family to return to her. While at the street market, Rey and her new droid meet Finn. a former stormtrooper trying to keep his past as secret as possible. Yet, BB-8 is being hunted by the First Order and Rey, Finn and BB-8 must make a run for it in a 'piece of garbage' (originally known as the Millennium Falcon) and with little hope of survival. 

     Rey and Finn then find themselves caught in the middle of the dysfunctional Skywalker/Solo family issues. Han and Leia's son, Ben has turned his back on his family in order to live up to the legend of his famous grandfather, Darth Vader. Rey is especially drawn to the family, especially Han Solo who tells her of the extraordinary powers of the Force. Overtime, she begins to sense, to feel, to understand in abstract ways that are far from ordinary. Eventually, the New Republic and the First Order go head to head and family, friends and fate are all at the mercy of the newly awakened Force.

~ ~ ~

     This movie was good. Very good! It was most definitely a throwback to the Original trilogy with it's humor and fantastic one-liners. It's new main trio, Rey, Finn and Poe are all diverse characters and wonderful heroes for a new generation of Star Wars fans. Rey, especially as a female, was a risk for a primarily male dominated franchise, but she absolute charm and strength that made the movie so worthwhile. Poe and Finn are pretty much Han and Luke's bromance all over again. Both guys were wonderful supporting characters and I just love the idea of a possible interracial relationship between Rey and Finn (because sadly, we don't see enough of those relationships in the popular media). 

     The Force Awakens had the fun of the Originals, but the underlying darkness of the Prequels. While their is no small shortage of heartbreak, there is also the continuing storyline of good always triumphing evil even at the hardest of sacrifices. Beautifully filmed and wonderfully acted, The Force Awakens went back to the old school Star Wars and told a story about duty, loyalty and neverending hope.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we're here for something else besides ourselves.
 ~Eric Sevareid

Monday, December 19, 2016

Politics of Game of Thrones

When people are complaining 
about the new leadership of the country.

When a conservative is too afraid to 
voice his/her opinion in public

When the Republican Party pretty much
owned the whole election.

Face it, this whole election year has been a real life "Game of Thrones" with House Republican and House Democrat at constant war with one another. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Leverage (TNT)

      So I am almost done with this show...even though I've already finished it. Meaning, I saw the last several episodes of season 4 and then got totally hooked and watched all of season 5! At first I wasn't really interested, but after a particularly hysterical episode, my curiosity was piqued. Now, I've gone back and watched seasons 1, 2, 3 and I'm three episodes away from finishing season 4.

      I can understand why the show was so popular during its run though. It's funny and quirky, but also deals with heavy realities that bring a great deal of empathy and understanding to the characters. The characters themselves are what makes the show. There are also certain characteristics and a particularly fantastic episode (dealing with an interracial relationship) that has made the series such a success. 

~ ~ ~

Nathan (Nate) Ford// Moral Undertones 

      After his company refused to pay for his son's cancer treatment, which then led to his death, former insurance investor Nate Ford pretty much turns his back on the world. Then he gets a chance to do some good which requires doing some bad. Primarily lying, cheating, stealing, hacking and no small amount of physical violence. So, Nate puts together a team of thieves to take on the corruption of wealthy businesses and bring justice to innocent people who are being manipulated. 

     Nate Ford is a character whether you like him or hate him. I happen to like Nate. He's a good man who has been through hell and back. Yet, instead of letting the pain of his son's death destroy him, he fuels it into doing good for other people who have no help. Nate's one fatal flaw is his heavy drinking when he hits the low points in his life. It's a constant problem throughout the serious only Nate doesn't seem to care how it affects him, his work or the other working around him. However, his drinking doesn't deter him from doing his job nor does he allow the hard hits to keep him down for long.

     The show has some great moral undertones that balances out the humor. Many of these undertones deal with death, forgiveness, fear, loss, hope and integrity. So, it's not all comedy and fun and to have moral undertones within a story that deals with lying and stealing really gives a look at the human heart. All of these characters have had their own personal fears and conflicts, and their jobs sometimes coincides with these damaging flaws that can either break them or help them to build.

~ ~ ~

Sophie Devereaux//Family Love

     A beautiful and brilliant grifter and ex-art thief, Sophie is always on her mark...when it's illegal. Her real dream is to become an actress, but she destroys it everytime she hits the stage. So, when Nate Ford approaches her to become part of his team, she agrees, even though they both have some deep seeded issues between them and a rather racy past together. 

     Sophie's gift of being able to read people aids her well in her grifting job, but it is even more potent with the team she works with. There is no doubt that she is definitely the 'mom' of the group and she gives special attention to each member. Sophie brings a much needed balance to the team and is forever the moral compass, always on points and never faltering. Her extreme kindness and generosity is never overlooked and she is the one person that can never be broken by anything.

     Family love and loyalty is spread widely throughout the show. Every character has comes from some sort of dysfunction in their personal lives and together they somehow manage to find the right pieces. Like most families, there is no small shortage of fighting, arguing, making up, hugging it out, walking away and getting hit in the face. Genuine chemistry is important in a successful movie or show and the actors got the chemistry right for their characters. You really do see family and family love in each episode. 

~ ~ ~

Eliot Spencer//Fighting Your Demons

     Handsome hitter, retrieval specialist and former army officer, Eliot Spencer is good at...well, almost everything. Eliot's exterior may be deadly and dangerous as well as cold and withdrawn, but inside he's one of the most honorable and brave men you could ever hope to meet. While he knows how to fight and survive, he also understands suffering and has a strong sense of justice. Although Eliot is a consummate player with no desire for a long term relationship, he has a secret affection for children and has no patience for anyone who wants to hurt them. 

     Eliot's time in the army has had him do some terrible work that still haunts him. He doesn't open up easily and tries to hide his past in the work that he does for Nate. When Eliot isn't beating someone up, he is usually the older brother figure who is trying to bring the younger ones into the real world (and that's not always an easy task). Eliot is also the only person who isn't afraid to take Nate on when he feels he is not leading properly and Nate might even see Eliot as the man he had hoped one day his son could have become. 

     Every person has their demons. We all have those hidden sins in our lives that eat away at us even after we've moved on. No one on earth has an easy road and everyone's road is paved with secrets and lies that we could never want to share with the world. Leverage is forever exploring the dark pasts of its characters and how they have to fight their demons everyday to better themselves. The hardest thing we can do is allow the world to see us as we really are and sometimes that mean allowing them to see the good and the bad and what really makes us human.

~ ~ ~

Parker//Character Growth

     Parker is not someone you can sum up in three sentences or less. She's an extraordinary thief, money hoarder, adrenaline junkie, chocolate lover and extreme introvert with no concept of the real world or how people actually live. Orphaned at a young age, Parker spent her life tossed from foster home to foster home, causing severe psychological problems that she dealt with through stealing. Overtime she honed her skills and abilities, but also made a name for herself as being 'weird, strange and completely unrelatable to other people.' 

     The beauty about Parker is that she doesn't care about what anyone thinks about her. For Parker, it's about the rush, the excitement and getting the job done. Everyone on the team contributes to helping her become more adjusted to the real world, overcoming her introverted nature and understanding other people. While Parker's lack of social skills in the beginning can be grating, she slowly gets in tune to the world around her and obtains a new ability of unexpected leadership and responsibility. 

      Character growth and development is what separates a good show from a great show and Leverage's character development is very well done. The characters we have by the end are not the people we met in the beginning. Writing good characters can be difficult, because being good can be boring and predictable; the difference with Leverage is that these are former bad guys who are choosing (and at times struggling) to be good. Even while the characters grow, they still maintain elements of their personalities that carry them throughout the show. So by the end, you don't feel like you have a completely different character, but rather a much better character to love and admire. 

~ ~ ~

Alec Hardison//The Van Gogh Job

     One look at Alec Hardison and you would never think that someone that tall, handsome and socially charming could be a geeky computer genius. Yet, Hardison wears his geekdom proudly (in spite of Eliot's endless harassment) and has no problem proving that he's the best computer hacker out there. There is nothing Hardison can't crack, hack or break into and his competitive streak regarding other hackers out there knows no boundaries at all. As the unofficial comic relief of the show, Hardison's explosive tangents are always memorable and hysterical; he really is the funniest guy on the show, no questions asked.

     The creators veered away from the stereotype geek (small, skinny, glasses, no social skills) and brought out their interpretation of the 'modern day computer geek' that has now been socially accepted. Lets face it, our society is in the hands of tech geeks all over the world. Alec is just a small representation of that which is why his catch phrase is "Age of the Geek, Baby." It's characters like Hardison that can make anyone proud to be a geek. 

     Olivia from Meanwhile In Rivendell, who is a huge Leverage fan, talked about an episode from season 4, The Van Gogh Job, and remarked at how it was one the best episodes on the show. It truly is too. The story is about an interracial relationship during the 1940's. It's seen from Parker's POV as she imagines herself and her friends as the people from an old man's story of his past. The episode is beautiful, but heartbreaking as well. 

     Aldis Hodge's transition from lively and sarcastic Hardison to a reserved and soft-spoken man dealing with racial bigotry is definitely praiseworthy; I was very, very impressed by him! As a strong supporter of  interracial relationships (as long as it's between a man and a woman), I thought this was one of the finest stories about overcoming racist prejudice and injustice.

(Another great episode that was also written as the characters in a history setting is The D.B. Cooper Job which is more mystery, but also romance plays an important role. It was really good and had a surprising ending!)

~ ~ ~

     Sadly, Leverage ended after five successful seasons on TNT, but the storyline was left wide open for a possible movie. The best thing about the show is the "Robin Hood ideal" that bad guys can use their impressive gifts and talents to do good for others. The more good Nate and his team did for people, the better they themselves became. 

     However, I saw Leverage as more than just a show about robbing the rich to give to the poor. It explores how broken and damaged people can find a way to mend and heal nor do they don't have to do it alone. How family can be created through the most unlikely of circumstances. The characters have their ups and their downs; their ins and their outs; their good and their bad. Leverage exposes the evils of greed and cruelty and how heroes can come about if brought together by the right reasons. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Star Wars: The Prequel Trilogy (Episodes I, II, III)

       Oh, the awful, terrible, Star Wars prequels that are heresy to the Star Wars universe and anyone who claims to like them is a betrayer to the original least that's what most people think. I on the other hand have always enjoyed the prequel trilogy and probably because I grew up watching them. At 9, 12 and 14 years old, I'm not really caring about special effects or the continuing storyline. I loved them as fun films and I thought the stories in general were very well written. And then there was Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi....he may have contributed some small amount to the prequel love that I have. Whatever your opinion on the prequels may be, they are part of the Star Wars movieverse and they told the story that needed to be told. The rise of Darth Vader and the beginning of the Empire's power over the Galaxy.

~ ~ ~

Episode I: The Phantom Menace

      When the planet of Naboo becomes surrounded by Trade Federation blockades, Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi are sent to negotiate peace with the Federation. However the Federation is not interested in peace and plan to assassinate the Jedi. The two of them escape and run into a clumsy, absent minded Gungan named Jar-Jar Binks who takes them to his world of Gungan city. The leader, Boss Nass, enlists Jar-Jar to help navigate the Jedi through the dangerous Gungan Core and lead them to Naboo. 

     Meanwhile, the young leader of Naboo, Queen Amidala is at odds to know what to do for her planet. Young but determined, Amidala is willing to risk arrest to protect her people by refusing to sign a peace agreement between Noboo and the Federation. Soon, Amidala is rescued by the Jedi and they escape into the Galaxy. When Amidala's ship is badly damaged, they mjust land on the outskirts of the planet of Tatooine. Qui-Gon takes Jar-Jar, extraordinary little astromach droid R2-D2 and the queen's handmaiden, Padme with him to barter for parts for the ship repairs. 

     On Tatooine, Qui-Gon and his traveling crew come across nine year old slave boy, Anakin Skywalker who offers to help them obtain the parts for the ship by entering the dangerous pod-racing even. Kind, generous and insanely brave, Anakin is gifted with extreme insight and knowledge. Something that his single mother, Shmi Skywalker has always known and even feared. Qui-Gon becomes curious about Anakin and requires about his father. Shmi gives a shocking answer claiming there was no father in Anakin's conception and he seemed to be conceived from something greater than she can comprehend. Qui-Gon believes that Anakin may have been created by the Force itself and may be the prophesied savior who will bring balance to the Force.

     This revelation can prove to be dangerous to the secret maniacal leader of the Federation known only as the Emperor. He has been tracking the Jedi and sends his apprentice Sith, Darth Maul to capture them. After Anakin wins the pod-race and the parts for the ship, he unexpectedly wins his freedom, but must face a painful separation from his mother. After an attack from Darth Maul, the ship sets out to the planet of Coruscant where Amidala must plead the case for her planet to the Senate and where Qui-Gon asks for permission from the Jedi Council to train Anakin.

     When the Senate fails to aid Amidala and Qui-Gon defies the Council claiming that he will take Anakin as his apprentice, they all plan to save Naboo even if its just them against the Federation. Yet, thanks to Jar-Jar, an unexpected alliance is made between Queen Amidala and Boss Nass who will send his army of Gungan soldiers to fight for the Queen and Naboo. Soon an epic battle of good and evil is brought to the front and the fate of Naboo and the people fighting to protect it is all put on the line. 

~ ~ ~

Episode II: Attack of The Clones

      From the time he first met her in the junk shop of Tatooine, Anakin Skywalker has been madly in love with the beautiful and courageous political leader, Padme Amidala. As a Jedi though, Anakin is forbidden to hold any attachments of love or family. Yet, ten years of training with his master, Obi-Wan Kenobi cannot sway Anakin's ever growing feelings for Amidala. When Padme becomes targeted and narrowly misses an assassination attempt, Obi-Wan and Anakin are assigned to protect her. Now a senator of Naboo, Padme is still the the strong-willed, free thinker she was as Queen and refuses to falter in her beliefs nor will she let her personal feelings distract her from her duties.

     When a second assassination attempt is made on Padme's life, Obi-Wan is sent on a search and capture mission to find Padme's killer. Meanwhile, Anakin becomes Padme's personal protection aid and they are sent to a quiet river house where they begin to fall back into their old friendship. Yet, friendship quickly turns into something stronger and while Anakin cannot reign in his feelings, Padme refuses to comply believing that forbidden love between a Jedi and a political figure will destroy them both.

       For years Anakin has been having horrific nightmares about his mother and believes that he can no longer wait to free her. Anakin and Padme travel to Tatooine in search Anakin's mother, only to discover that she has been kidnapped by Tuskan nomads. When Anakin finds her, she has been beaten and dies in his arms. Angry with grief and hate, he kills every Tuskan in the camp which begins his pathway to the Dark Side and is only felt by Master Yoda. 

     Meanwhile, Obi-Wan's search for Padme's assassin leads him to Count Dooku, a former Jedi Knight who betrayed the Jedi Order years before and was cast out. Dooku has been creating clones for his personal army and upon finding out Obi-Wan as a Jedi, he arrests him and sentences him to death. Anakin and Padme set off to rescue Obi-Wan which leads their inevitable capture and death sentence alongside the Jedi Master. However, the trio are not alone and the Jedi Order, led by Mace Windu lead an attack on Count Dooku that begins the Clone Wars.

~ ~ ~

Episode III: Revenge of The Sith

     Five years after the start of the Clone Wars and five years after Anakin and Padme's secret marriage, Padme is pregnant. Anakin is happy with this news even though his wife is frightened of their marriage being founded out. Yet, Anakin's happiness about the baby is short lived when he has nightmares of Padme dying in childbirth. He seeks the help of his old friend and political mentor, Senator Palpetine who tells him of a dark nature so powerful it could create life and even stop death, but cannot be learned by a Jedi. 

    The Clone Wars has put a strain on the political atmosphere and relations between the Senate and and the Jedi Order is becoming tense. The council takes advantage of Anakin's friendship with Palpetine and ask him to spy in the senator. Annoyed by this deception, Anakin begins to reject the Jedi Order and grows closer to Palpetine. He soon becomes elusive, distant and hardened as his fears for Padme's life grows. Padme herself begins to fear for her husband as she watches the once kind and bold man become colder and darker.

     Eventually Anakin can take no more of the strife between the corrupt politics of the Senate and the self-righteousness of the Jedi Order. His fear for Padme's life has taken over and he becomes a pawn for Palpetine who reveals himself to be the Emperor. Anakin pledges his loyalty to the Emperor and in the hope of saving his wife, Anakin must issue out Order 66, the destruction of all Jedi, men, women and even younglings.  

     All over the Galaxy, Jedi are unmercifully slaughtered by the Clone armies. Only two survive, Yoda and Obi-Wan who make it back to the Jedi Temple. There they find the Temple filled with dead bodies of Jedi and children. Discovering that it was Anakin under the Emperor's manipulation, Obi-Wan and Padme set off to find him. Yet, Anakin Skywalker is becoming as cruel and inhumane as his new master. Obi-Wan refuses to let his friend be destroyed, but realizes that he is too far gone to be saved and leaved Anakin to die in the burning lava. He is rescued by the Emperor, but he is the never the same due to the extreme burn damage to his body. Anakin Skywalker is no more and is replaced by the deadly leader, Darth Vader.

    Padme's grief for Anakin causes her to go into early labor where she gives birth to twins, Luke and Leia. She dies afterwards and her body is brought back to her home planet of Naboo. Yoda and Obi-Wan know that if the Emperor knew about the twins he would stop at nothing to find and kill them. Leia is adopted by Bale Organa, the strong and noble leader of Alderaan and Luke is taken back to Tatooine to be raised by Anakin's step-brother, Owen Lars. Yoda goes into hiding, while Obi-Wan Kenobi remains on the outskirts of Tatooine's society, waiting and hoping for the day when Anakin's children will redeem their fallen father. 

~ ~ ~

     In The Phantom Menace, Yoda warns Anakin about the dangers of being afraid. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering. Anakin's most beautiful attribute is also his most fatal flaw. His ability to love deeply. Yet, if you love someone you will always live in fear of losing them. Anakin was created by darkness, but raised in the light of his mother's love. His own love was made manifest by Padme and then by their unborn child/children.

      However, Love no matter how strong can be weakened and even be destroyed by the evil of fear. If the prequels taught anything about life, it taught how fear (even in its smallest form) can be be our most detrimental enemy. Living alone in fear and not seeking help is a signing of our own death warrants. What might have happened if Anakin had gone to Obi-Wan and seek his help? Would things have been different?

     The prequels were not meant to tell a happy story. They were written as a timeline of a boy's journey from goodness into darkness. No, they don't have the silliness or humor of the Originals, because there is nothing humorous about someone's self-destruction. Yet, the story of Anakin Skywalker's transformation had to be told in a way that was real and heartbreaking.

     To take Darth Vader and make him a human who could feel and understand and love could be an insurmountable task. Yet, you only need to watch his death scene at the end of Return of The Jedi to see that the humane part of Anakin Skywalker had always been there. The prequels were made to be built on that final scene of redemption and human love. A husband's love to save his wife became a father's love that could overcome darkness and hate. An extreme love that defied fear and held on to hope. That was the love of Anakin Skywalker.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Little Things #16

1.) A Walk To Remember: I cry through this movie every single time!

2.) Carrie Underwood: She's always been classy and all American.

3.) Falling in love with a song the first time you hear it: This has happened so many times.

4.) Finding money in your pocket: Your day (no matter how bad) has just been made.

5.) Movie theater popcorn: All buttery, delicious and sinfully unhealthy!

6.) I grew up with Harry Potter: After seeing Magical Beasts and Where to Find Them, I felt right back at home in the wizarding world.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Christmas Layout.

Oddly enough, I really had no idea what I was going to do for my Christmas layout, so I just threw something together that matched the green and red background. When the preview loaded, I almost fell out of my chair; I couldn't believe how beautiful it turned out! Usually, I have to redo headers four, five, six times, but I got this in one shot!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Character Sketch: James Potter

     Sometimes to understand a child, one might need to understand the parent. That was most definitely Harry Potter's case when he started to learn about his father. James Potter can be considered a plethora characteristics both good and bad. We never actually meet James Potter until book five (The Order of The Phoenix) and even then that was in a biased memory from Professor Snape. So, during books one through four, Harry first grows up having no idea who his father is and then overnight (literally) is told that his dad is a hero in the wizarding world. For a lonely orphan, that can be the best description a child can get about his parent.

     As the books progress, Harry begins to delve deeper and deeper into who his father was. Upon meeting his godfather, Sirius Black and Professor Lupin, James' oldest and closest friends, Harry discovers who his father was in a much closer sense. James Potter was a Pureblood wizard from a large and lively family. He was somewhat spoiled, very intelligent and a troublemaker of the highest extreme, However, his trouble doesn't always com from malicious intent (that's what Harry is led to believe in the beginning), but rather to help others when no one else will. 

     However, not everyone is a fan of James Potter. While James was a good friend, he was a terrible adversary especially toward Severus Snape. When Harry was younger, Snape oftentimes told him how his arrogance, stubbornness and disregard for the rules came from his own father. How James ruined his life and made it miserable. Of course, Harry doesn't believe it until he gets a cold dose of reality when he discovers 'Snape's worst memory' is of James and his friends hazing and bullying Snape when they were at school together. 

      As a reader who (at the time) hated Snape, I both loved and hated the chapter. It was nice seeing the snarky professor get owned when he was a student. Yet, it also confirmed that everything Snape said about James was true; he was arrogant, self-centered, uncontrollable and a bully. Snape is the way that he is toward Harry because of James' treatment of him in school. However, what was hardest for Harry to believe was that his own mother hated James. For years he thought they had this wonderful perfect love story, but it turned out to be so much more complex. 

     Harry is comforted by Lupin and Sirius afterwards when they tell him that his father did settle down, left Snape alone and eventually Lily did fall madly in love with him. James finally decided to grow up and realize that there were worse and more evil enemies out in the world then the ones he had at school. James Potter did die sacrificing himself for his wife and his baby and became Harry's greatest inspiration for overcoming the growing darkness in his troubled life. 

     While I wouldn't say that James Potter is a controversial character, fans have had a lot of fun discussing his character as a student. Some people think he's terrible, but I simply say that he was a regular teenager who had a lot of growing up to do. The best thing about the character of James Potter is that he is only seen through memory and perception. And yet what we do mange to see was a flawed, but very brave (or reckless) boy who developed into an extraordinary man who defied fear and hate, even if it meant losing his life. Maybe James saw elements of his younger bullying self in the evil he was fighting and realized how prejudiced and cruelty can be the beginning of personal destruction. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Women, A History: Anne Bradstreet - Domestic Poet

Anne Bradstreet
Domestic Poet

      Like most Puritan women of her time, Anne Bradstreet was probably expected to fulfill the only duties women were expected to perform. Marry well and have children. Of which she did both. However, Anne Bradstreet was the first women to ever break beyond the boundaries of her societal expectations and become the first recognized female poet in North America. Drawing inspiration from her family life as a wife and mother, Anne wrote about her family, her love of nature, her faith and the happiness and hardships in her life. There was sensitivity, but strength in Anne's poems and she had an uncanny ability to speak to all people on all levels, not just with women.

     Born Anne Dudley in Northampton, England 1612, Anne grew up in a wealthy family where she was highly educated. She married Simon Bradstreet when she was sixteen and with him left England and sailed to Massachusetts. Anne and Simon had eight children of which seven of them manged to live to adulthood (a rarity back then). Simon Bradstreet was influential in the building of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and was governor from 1679-1686 and from 1689-1692. 

     Anne's poetry ranged from humorously sweet to suddenly dark and heartbreaking. The death of her child, her grandchildren and her daughter in law all impacted her greatly and more than once her faith was shaken. As a Puritan women she was expected to keep her feelings and private opinions to herself and to never speak of them out loud. Anne's poetry was her internal expression of her thoughts of her life as a wife and mother, as a women who loved God, but also as a person who struggled with loss and grief. You can view all of Anne's works here.

     Oddly enough, Anne never intended to be published. Women were not considered intelligent enough to understand the intellectual mind and for a women to even write about anything was unheard of. However, Anne's brother in law took her works and had them published without her knowing. Afterwards, Anne's poetry become the sound of the new America. While Anne may have broken several gender barriers, women still had a long way to go before they obtained social equality. Anne's insight on life as told through a homemaker and a Christian continues to inspire people today and is why she considered one of the most influential writers of the early American period. 

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