Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Quick Reminder of How Depression Works

It's easy for those with depression to look at their lives and be certain that they're only depressed because something in their life is going wrong. That soon that circumstance will be removed and everything will automatically be OK again.

For me, it used to be, "Well, it'll be different when I'm in a relationship."

Then, "Well, it'll be different when I get my arthritis under control."

Then, "Well, it'll be different when I have a teaching job and can use my degree."

And now all those things have happened, and the depression still lurks.

In the back of my mind, I know that circumstances lining up won't automatically "fix" depression. I know that that's not how it works for me. Because depression isn't just being sad that something's wrong, it's a whole different ball game. It can be even easier for people on the outside of depression looking in to think that kind of thing, like I just need to get over bad circumstances or find a way to fix things.

That kind of thinking can be gross when you're dealing with depression and there actually are major things going wrong in your life, but it can also be gross when you're depressed and there is seemingly no reason for it.

That's where I've been the last couple weeks. There's nothing wrong with my life right now. I love where I am and who I'm with and what I get to do. I am extremely fortunate. And yet I've spent chunks of each weekend this month sitting on my bed just crying because everything in my mind was terrible and there was no reason for it.

And then the part of my brain that tries to be rational tried to sternly lecture myself out of my depression: "Why are you depressed? Stop it. Everything's fine."

But as we all know (or should know if we don't), you cannot out-rationalize depression. Fortunately, once you remember depression is not rational, that can take some of the pressure off. You don't have to start blaming yourself for feeling bad for no reason. That's what depression does. That's one thing that separates depression from regular sadness. So you may not be able to stop feeling depressed or stop feeling sad, but maybe it'll be easier to remind yourself, "Depression is being stupid and lying to you right now, you have a lot to be thankful for whether you realize it or not right now."

That was one of the reasons I started my Reasons to Dance Twitter account (which I wrote about on Monday). Because it may not fix anything, but the depression has to fight just a little harder to tell me that my life is pointless when I have all these reasons to celebrate on the screen in front of me, and anything that makes life tougher for my depression is OK with me.

So... there's no real end to this blog. Just a reminder that depression isn't rational, and that you don't have to justify your feelings to yourself if you're feeling depressed.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Reasons to Dance: #201-300

It's been close to a year since I posted a new entry in this series, and that's unfortunate. There HAVE been good things happening for me this year, I just haven't been doing a great job of cataloging them. Here are the things I have gone out of my way to celebrate on Twitter, though.

That production of Frankenstein we watched tonight. Gorgeous and moving.

I got accepted to a blogging position I applied for. WIN!

Making progress toward paying off student loans, slowly but surely.

Long weekends!

The giant mole/jet pack fight in Arrested Development.

A car next to us in the parking lot had Carcassonne and Nyarlathotep bumper stickers. Nerds are cool.

That sausage breakfast burrito was definitely the right food choice. Yum.

My mom sent me an unexpected care package with my favorite cookies!

Gosh, that huge emotional music build in "Gethsemane" from JCS... gets me EVERY time.

The Tony performance of I Believe. Love me some Andrew Rannells.

Catching up on my NaNo.
Man in a robe. from Flickr via Wylio
© 2007 tripleigrek, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

My bathrobe is deliciously warm after a very cold shower.

Sometimes the Internet gets used for kind and wonderful things.

Watching a video of Andrew Rannells singing "The Origin of Love." There's just something about this song that gets me every time.

There are some people I just really want to be happy. And when they are, I get happy.

I'm so thankful for in-laws who never pressure me to be what I'm not or measure up to a standard I'm not capable of.

Some days I wake up and just feel everything is overwhelmingly good. This is rare, but when it happens it is SO BEAUTIFUL.

Finding Christmas gifts I think the other person will like.

I finally FINALLY have a driver's license with my married name on it.

I might get to see some good friends over Christmas break that I haven't spent time with in several years. :-)

When my Enbrel injection barely hurts at all. Like today. That was a fun surprise.

Christmas is soon :-)

That cheese pasta bake Jacob makes sometimes is super delicious.

Texting Bethany back and forth as the family Christmas shops. Makes me feel a little bit like I'm back home.

Getting tricky medication refill stuff figured out SO much faster than I anticipated. I'll be back on meds by Monday!

Gas is $1.99 today! I can't even remember the last time I saw it that cheap.

Jacob made me French toast just because I casually mentioned I loved it. I love the man I married.

Little kids getting Christmas gifts. I may not want kids of my own, but there's something magical about their surprise and delight.

Finding the exact words for what I want to say and feeling I said it well.

Long substantial discussions with Jacob.

Our new tires cost so much less than I anticipated. Whee!

Unexpectedly got to see Breana! Yay for spontaneous friend visits :-)
Visiting so many people this week! On our way to see Tim and Jessie now and I'm SO excited about it.

Some days I wake up and just feel happy and energized. Holding onto that feeling today because it's rare and wonderful.

When I feel like I have something to offer in a conversation.

"My name is Robert." #KidSnippets

Having enough money that we can add a little to our savings again.

Getting back on a regular (workable) sleep schedule.

Gouda. Yummmm.

Having a particularly bad day. Jacob sent me a very long, very sweet text from work that helped a little.

Dad jokingly requested a Picasso-style picture of Puppy. Jacob's actually drawing one.

It's been a couple days and I haven't killed my new Sims baby yet! Whoo!

Fitness First Gym from Flickr via Wylio
© 2013 Health Gauge, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio
First day at the gym was a success. I can do this the rest of the year!

"Bears bears bears bears bears..." #AdventureTime

When teaching goes right.

My legs feel awesome after that massage chair at the gym.

We get enchiladas for dinner!

Long weekend with Jacob.

I had a really nice chat with my mom tonight while watching a concert of Christian musicians she used to love.

My incredible friend Dani, who is so gracious and loving to me even when we disagree.

Perfect casting for the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Every character is spot on.

I had a really good time with God tonight. I feel better.

A new weekend schedule that lets me spend time with Jacob!

Today, for the first time, I left the gym feeling invigorated from my workout rather than exhausted.

Missy Elliot. She's just so cool.

I feel...emotionally strong today. That hasn't happened in a while. It's nice.

Last night, a horrible nightmare woke me up. But it turns out Jacob was awake too, and he cuddled with me until I felt better.

The unfollow feature on Facebook, which lets me stay on good terms with people who I could not be otherwise.

My delightful friend Jojo is getting married this year, and it just brings me so much joy to see her joy.

Coming up with fun assignments for my English/writing course I'm doing with the siblings. Super satisfying.

The music video for "I Luv Rap Music" by DC Talk. It's so cheerfully dorky and silly.

When somebody else loves The Last Five Years. I'm so excited when it happens that any response is basically just fangirl squealing.

Payday! Especially when we were especially low on funds.
I don't care how overdone it is, "I Dreamed a Dream" is still GORGEOUS.

There may be nothing more delightful to me than spending a day with my best friend. And since we're married, I get to do that often!

Finding musical theater people in TV shows and movies.

Audra McDonald. Gosh, what a talented, classy lady she is.

The final scene of The Full Monty. That is just a delightful ending to that movie.

I get a long weekend with Jacob over Easter. :-)

It's been a long time since my last eye appointment, but the doctor says my eyes are really healthy! Phew!

My amazing husband who stays up way too late with me talking stuff through when I can't stop crying.

The geeky chocolate store we found today. I'm so glad that exists.

When friends I've been worried about are doing a little better.

I was awake when Jacob got home this morning and got to chat with him before he went to sleep. That was nice.

The nice shoes we had to get for Jacob's feet were not as expensive as we worried they'd be.
Writing just for me can be so cathartic. I should do it more.

I'm so thankful for people who stand up for the underdogs. That's what I want to be like.

The wonderful, kind generosity of my friend Sarah.

We got our truck working again as an emergency backup vehicle! Now we can get our car fixed!

The repairs for our car didn't cost nearly as much as I worried they would!

My favorite Christian blogger gave me a really nice response tweet & is following me now. I feel so cool!

When I say "Bedtime," Puppy immediately trots off to her bed. I like that I've accidentally taught her this command.

When Jacob accidentally set his wake up alarm as a Facebook event & then did it on purpose later that afternoon. 10 people attended.

The hilarious and weird sheet music instructions for the Heathers score.

"Be Prepared" is in some ways so campy, but that doesn't keep it from being deliciously chilling.

I just like that Commentary! The Musical exists.

Vincent from Bojack Horseman. Easily the best part of the whole show.

Playing Scattergories with my family over Skype last night.

Woke up to a mushy text Jacob sent me this morning as I was sleeping. :-)

Songwriting can be very cathartic.

I feel humbled every time my amazing husband prioritizes my needs over his just to make me feel better. I don't deserve him.

San Francisco from Flickr via Wylio
© 2012 Jeff Gunn, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio
I feel like I finally have some options open to me in my job hunt. This was a good day of moving forward.

I'm moving to San Francisco :-)

My dad played Forbidden Desert. Then he played every possible 2- and 3-player variation by himself to figure out how to win.

My NLDC generation is the most welcoming, hilarious, talented, delightful group of people ever. Being with them is water for my soul.

I love getting to sleep in a bed with my husband again.

Huh. I really like my eyes today for no particular reason.

Pretty sure I married the kindest, most compassionate man in the world.

I love getting to work someplace where seeing amazing plays is part of my job.

Today one of my co-workers asked me if I was OK after seeing me post yesterday about anxiety. I work with such supportive people.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Quest for Forgiveness: A Funeral and a Tour

Last time... well, last time Ethan uncovered a nonsensical conspiracy theory and Rothdiener gleefully reported Susan and Alana's well-deserved horrific deaths, because miraculous forgiveness doesn't save you once you've hit the point of no return for not attending church anymore.

So, I forgot, this is where we remember that Brianna is a rich pop star who can do anything:
After using their political pull, and at the request of the President of the United States, Iraq agreed to release the body of Brianna’s mother.
Because of course the President is going to spend his time demanding that an Iraqi family ship their daughter's body off to the U.S. on a pop star's whim. That seems like an excellent move for relations between the Middle East and the United States.
Ethan, Brianna, and her bodyguards flew to Iraq on the star’s private jet.
...Better yet, Ethan, Brianna, and her bodyguard are apparently going to bring her mother's remains back themselves. In a private jet. That seems awesome.

After visiting her mother's grave, they visit the hospital where Brianna was born. They find a nurse who smuggled Brianna out of the hospital and they all reminisce together and it's all quite boring, or maybe I'm just not in a snarky enough mood.

We abruptly switch to them leaving Iraq. We learn that Brianna's grandmother has left her husband, who was then killed along with her two sons, and she inherited all his money. I don't have the energy tonight to look up whether that would be an actual thing allowed in their area of the world, but it is a nice tidy solution. Rothdiener opted to kill off everyone who wasn't a Christian by the end of the book.

Brianna's grandmother reveals that the charm Brianna found in her box of her mother's things is a 2500-year-old charm where every gem in the charm is one of the rarest gems in the entire world. Because Brianna definitely couldn't have a charm that WASN'T outrageously valuable. That would imply that her goodness wouldn't always lead to wealth, and that would be ridiculous.

So then they fly back to Colorado and they have a little funeral for Brianna's mother. They fly in that pastor of that church Brianna got saved in to do the service. Brianna and Ethan sing.

That's the end of the chapter. I'm not stopping there for this blog because, uh, nothing happened. All of this is so BORING. But at least it's not infuriating like the last chapter was, so I guess that's a step up. Either way, let's keep going.

(This chapter begins with this verse, quoted exactly here: "Now then, stand still and see this greet thing the LORD is about to do before your eyes!" This... what thing? I hope the Lord is about to teach us a new handshake. That would be a good greet thing.)

Brianna releases her new CD, which, of course, "quickly raced to the top of the charts," and then she goes off on a year-long tour while Sonya steps down as her manager for... no reason. Just that "it was time for the attorney to begin a new life of her own." Good luck going back to work as a lawyer after leaving your successful law office to work as a tour manager and personal assistant for seven years. Those fields are not terribly connected.

Everybody is sad and says bye to Sonya, although Rothdiener reminds us that "with modern technology she would only be a phone call away." Yes, so different than when we started this story in the 19th century.

Ethan takes over managing Brianna, because "[h]is people skills and knowledge of the world made him a perfect fit for the job." Yup. People skills and knowledge of the world are pretty much all you need. We don't want anyone with actual managing experience involved apparently, Brianna's career pretty much drives itself.

Brianna shares her conversion with everyone on tour, and everyone's happy because she's SO open with them that it makes them think of her as a family member. (I don't quite get that reasoning, but that's what our author is claiming.)

Ethan and Brianna also go to Paris together as part of her mega tour. But then...
After the final concert in Paris, Ethan said he was tired and going to bed early. Brianna thought it strange, and was afraid her father was ill. He had looked slightly pale. “I’m fine. I’m just very tired.”
What? Ethan's a Christian. He can't die. Only the non-Christians die in this book, and they die horribly and with no possible hope. I can't actually remember if he dies, and he might just be faking it, because he suggests she and Conrad go see the sights, and I KNOW she and Conrad have gotta get together at some point, so it's probably here.

However, I'm pretty sure I can't stomach reading more awkward flirting between Brianna and her bodyguard who was flirting with her back when she was barely-16 and hasn't gotten any better at it since then, so I'm going to call it a day and try to tackle the rest of this next week. Sorry nothing happened in these chapters.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Top 100: Beauty and the Beast

The Top 100 is a blog series where I rewatch and rerank the movies that were in my Flickchart top 100 at the beginning of the challenge. I'm watching them in a random order to be as unbiased as possible in terms of reranking.

Well, hi. Remember when I said I was initially going to be blogging about this? Yeah, that was June 15, which was the day I took the job at Marin Theatre Company and moved my entire life across the country and never had time to do anything. But now things have settled down a bit, I have some weekends free, and it's time to get back to work on this challenge.

Beauty and the Beast was #6 on my Flickchart when I began this challenge. Since Casablanca moved down the list, Beauty and the Beast moved up and is at #5 as of this viewing. For a long time, this has been my favorite Disney movie. Belle is my favorite Disney princess. These are most of my favorite Disney songs. It's one of my favorite Disney movie messages.

So it has a lot going for it, but I haven't seen it in a very long time. We're talking years, possibly a decade. Let's find out if it holds up after all this time.

Here are my live-blogged thoughts as I watch.

  • Oh. Looks like I got my hands on the extended version. I've never seen this before.
  • Oh, man. That opening castle shot is gorgeous.
  • Ending of the prologue gave me chills.
  • One reason I like Belle so much is that I always identified with her as a bookworm who doesn't fit in.
  • And the townspeople don't even bother getting to know her. They just don't get her, so they give up.
  • I also like that Belle stands up for the people she loves. Who the people around her also don't understand.
  • I never noticed that the background music here was later used as the verse for "No Matter What" in the stage musical.
  • Maurice seems so vulnerable in this scene in the forest. He started running & I immediately thought, "He can't possibly outrun the wolves."
  • This opening intro to the servants is charming, and the intro to the Beast wonderfully ominous.
  • LOL, I forgot Gaston has the entire wedding in place before proposing.
  • Belle and Maurice have a puddle full of pigs directly outside their door?
  • I remember even as a kid bring blown away by the visuals in the "Belle" reprise. They're so pretty.
  • These far away shots of Belle exploring the castle are so atmospheric.
  • As a child, I was terrified of that spider coach.
  • I love that moment where you first sense Beast isn't entirely terrible, where he clearly has sympathy for Belle's loss of her father.
  • "Gaston" was my favorite song to perform. Let's see if it's as fun here.
  • This is a very minor detail, but I like that Gaston and the Beast both have blue eyes. Drawing that similarity is interesting to me.
  • "I could be wrong, but that may not be the best way to win the girl's affection."
  • I really like that the Beast's behavior is not excused as, "Oh, he's a tortured soul." Belle doesn't tolerate him being an entitled jerk.
  • Interestingly, he then takes her rejection as a rejection of him PHYSICALLY, rather than his personality.
  • Belle is the one person who might NOT judge him on his appearance and he's immediately alienating her with his behavior.
  • Yay, big ensemble number!
  • I really like that weird abstract shot of dancing plates and cups.
  • The Beast's instant regret of his outburst in the west wing is really nice.
  • Huh. I guess Philippe HAS been chilling at the castle, since the spider coach took Maurice home.
  • Gosh, the animation on the Beast's wolf attack is stunning. That shadowy reaction shot of Belle... Wow.
  • "Thank you for saving my life." "You're welcome." This is a lovely exchange.
  • This scene with the asylum owner is the first step toward Gaston being a truly evil villain instead of just a narcissistic buffoon.
  • Oh, how I used to dream of this castle library.
  • The oatmeal scene is gorgeous. He tries to do what she wants, does it poorly, and she extends a compromise to help him save face.
  • Ah, here's the extended scene that I've never seen before. 
  • Oh right, "Human Again" was added to this version. Not my favorite song and since I'm not used to it in here it feels like an interruption.
  • That above shot of dancing mops is lovely, though.
  • I admit I can't take the "Learn how to read" subplot seriously since the Community horror story episode.
  • Pretty sure the title song is one of the most romantic moments in all Disney movies. It looks and sounds so gorgeous.
  • "He's no monster, Gaston. You are."
  • The Mob Song is one of the scariest Disney villain songs to me. So much fear mongering.
  • "Praise the Lord and here we go" is my favorite line in that song.
  • "Fifty Frenchmen can't be wrong" is another good one.
  • And here at the end, Gaston still makes it all about ownership of Belle. He hates the Beast for being the one she cares about.
  • I like that the Beast doesn't deliberately kill Gaston. I think that's necessary.
  • "At least I got to see you one last time."
  • What I like about this is that while there is romance in it, their story is also heavily about friendship.
  • The servants all turned into objects resembling themselves... Now I can't stop wondering what I would be.

Immediate thoughts: This absolutely, absolutely holds up. The animation is gorgeous, the songs are great, and the love story is every bit as good as I thought it was as a child. Seeing it now as an adult, I'm struck (as I mentioned in my tweets) by how strongly this is about friendship. It's not just about Belle finding someone to love, it's about finding someone she connects with at all. When she laments to her father about being alone at the beginning, it's not that she is searching for a husband. She instead says, "There's no one I can really talk to." She wants a companion first and foremost, and so it makes sense that her relationship with the Beast flows naturally out of that companionship.

This movie is sometimes torn down for being essentially a romantic story of Stockholm Syndrome, compared to other women-and-their-monster-men stories like Twilight. But there's a huge difference between this and Twilight, or this and The Phantom of the Opera (which I love but think is a terrible love story). It's that the Beast's awful kidnapper behavior in the first half of the movie is not condoned or romanticized. His servants try to make excuses for him, but Belle will have none of it (and I think some of that is more for their own well-being than for his anyway; after all, if she gives him a chance, they may get back their human bodies). It's not until she calls him out on his bad behavior and he starts making an attempt to change that she starts falling for him.

At the beginning of the story, nearly everyone, including the Beast himself, puts all their emphasis on the outward appearance. When Belle rejects him, it's because why wouldn't she reject him, with the way he looks? And when Belle rejects Gaston, she clearly must be crazy. Belle and Belle alone is the person who looks beneath the surface. In the Beast, she sees potential for good. In Gaston, she sees self-centeredness and manipulation. In her father, she sees hidden genius. That makes her suspect and works against her in her own village, but it's what lets her find happiness with the Beast.

This movie still deeply resonates with me. I'm not as angsty now as I was as a child or a teenager, but I still am very aware that I get misinterpreted a lot by people (I don't think I'm that complicated, but apparently so). I understand Belle's frustration of having no one to talk to because no one gets her. And I understand how awesome it is when you find somebody who is willing to do the little extra digging necessary to understand you.

Easily still my favorite Disney movie. Let's see if it stays at #5.

vs. The Sunshine Boys (1996) - We could at least pretend this was a contest if it was the original 1975 version, but this one is pretty lackluster and Beauty and the Beast easily snatches away the win.

vs. Rurouni Kenshin (2012) - I watched this for my movie challenge last year, and while I remember it having some very lovely cinematography, it's definitely not going to win.

vs. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011) - This was the first film to beat Schindler's List on my last Top 100 challenge. But it isn't going to beat Beauty and the Beast. I like ELAIC more than a lot of people do, but I'm not blind to its flaws. Beauty and the Beast has no such flaws. Or, well, if it does, I am blind to them.

vs. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004) - I really like Anchorman, though I think Anchorman 2 is more solidly funny. Beauty and the Beast would also beat Anchorman 2, so it's definitely beating Anchorman 1.

vs. The Remains of the Day (1993) - This is one I'd have to rewatch to be sure of how I feel about it. I remember liking it very much overall, but individual moments didn't speak to me as much as with Beauty and the Beast.

vs. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) - Certainly my favorite of the Python movies, but, yeah, I'm disappointed by that ending. At least enough to give Beauty and the Beast the win.

vs. Back to the Future (1985) - This is the first one that might be a tough call, but, really, I didn't debate it for long. While Back to the Future is delightful and fun, it doesn't connect with me emotionally the way Beauty and the Beast does. I did not cry when Doc died and came back to life. I did for the Beast.

vs. The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) - Now that we're pitting it against other top 20 movies, I have to seriously think about my matches. But though it may bounce back out when I rewatch it, for now, The Purple Rose is going to lose to Beauty and the Beast.

vs. Singin' in the Rain (1952) - Ouch. This is definitely a tough call. OK. I think if Singin' in the Rain didn't have the Broadway Melody sequence, or if it was only 2 1/2 minutes instead of like 15, I think Singin' in the Rain would win. But because that section drags down the film for me and there's nothing in Beauty and the Beast that drags, it's going to win.

vs. Moulin Rouge! (2001) - Ohhhhhhhhhhhh this is so difficult to choose. OK. OK. OK. I think for now I'm choosing Beauty and the Beast, which is the first chart shift of this reranking. But while I love Moulin Rouge! so so so much for its music and its visuals, it does fall down in the area of story. I don't care even a little bit about Christian and Satine. Beauty and the Beast, however, looks amazing, makes me care about the characters, and sounds fantastic. So... it's going to take the win here.

vs. Love Actually (2003) - OK. I think this is the only one I'm going to let Beauty and the Beast lose to right now. Because there is something transcendentally amazing about Love Actually that makes me happy every single time I watch it, and while I love Beauty and the Beast so, so, so much, it doesn't quite reach those levels. So Love Actually wins here. For now.

Beauty and the Beast has moved from #6 on the original chart to #2 on my new chart. Wow. But, gosh, the movie's so good. The switching up of my top 20 continues.

Time to randomly choose my next movie to rewatch and rerank! Looks like I'll be checking out my original #49, a movie I've only seen once: Amelie (2001). I'll be writing about that no earlier than October 5th (and possibly a lot later, as was the case here), so feel free to rewatch it and discuss it along with me.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Movie Plots... Backwards

About a week ago, I had a lot of fun playing around with a question posed on AskReddit: What's one of your favorite movie plots that sound awesome backward?

I immediately started reversing movie plots in my head, and these were the results. Can you identify all of them? And leave your own suggestions below!

After a man tries to kill his next door neighbor, the neighbor begins spying on him, becoming more and more convinced that he's a pretty good guy after all.

A magical nanny arrives to take care of two children whose doting father loves them and plays with them. She spends time with the children until their father becomes cold and distant, then she leaves.

12 jurors convince each other that a boy on trial for murder is guilty before the trial even happens.

An ogre and a princess fall in love, so he imprisons her in a tower and goes to live in a swamp, where he invites fairy tale creatures to live with him.

A father fish encourages his son to go be free but immediately panics about him being gone. He starts looking for him, and when he finds him, he refuses to let him go anywhere again.

A mentally unstable ballerina comes back to life just in time to do a spectacular performance of Swan Lake and ultimately regains her health and her sanity as she becomes less obsessed with her work.

A man is freed from prison and tries to manipulate his wife into thinking that she's not crazy.

Several young adults escape from the Blair Witch and bond as they happily find their way out of the forest.

A woman forces an alien to get into her spaceship then chases it around until it revives everyone on the ship.

A computer is challenged to playing tic-tac-toe, which convinces it to start a global thermonuclear war. A teenager accidentally hacks into the computer and stops the impending doom.

A group of men feel confident when they put on a strip show for their whole town, but as soon as it's over they feel ashamed, everyone makes fun of them, and they completely lose their senses of self-worth.

A man feels very fortunate with his life, but then an angel shows him vignettes from an alternate version of his life that make him more and more depressed. His uncle finds some money, and this returns him to his regular cheerful self.

A group of dinosaur children leave their parents and grandparents to venture out into the wilderness and live where there is no food.

Two Broadway producers are let out of jail. They panic, fire everyone working on their new successful play, and return to unfulfilling jobs.

Two dogs and a cat leave their owners and trek for miles across the country to get away from them, but eventually the owners find them and take them back.

A boy leaves his village home to live with the animals in the jungle until he is abandoned by wolves.

A man's wife and child come to meet him at his hotel workplace. He yells at them for awhile and they are alarmed but everyone calms down eventually. The weather gets nicer and eventually they leave.

A choir of nuns get worse and worse under their director's supervision, until she stops being a nun and decides to be a night club singer instead.

A writer locks himself up in a fan's house with a broken leg. Once it heals, she kicks him out.

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Day in the Life of Flickchart: Part 3

Looks like it's time to rank some movies on my Flickchart account and talk about them here! If you missed how this works, you can check out my previous posts in the series here and here.

Let's jump right in.

1. Billy Elliot (2000) vs. Legally Blonde (2001)

This is kind of an interesting one, because both these movies were later made into musicals. If we're comparing the musicals, I would choose Legally Blonde because Laurence O'Keefe's music trumps Elton John's any day. But when it comes to the original core movies, Billy Elliot is far more compelling and beautifully done. Billy Elliot wins.

2. Les Miserables in Concert (1995) vs. Footloose (2001)

There are two other possible versions of both of these movies -- the Les Miserables concert cast from 2010 and the original 1984 Footloose. The earlier versions of both movies are better. I was unimpressed with the 2011 Footloose remake, and it definitely didn't help that the fun 1980s soundtrack was replaced by country music. Les Mis wins.

3. Holiday Inn (1942) vs. Cheaper by the Dozen (2003)

I am not sold on Holiday Inn as a great movie, although it does have some fun sequences. But it certainly beats the mess that was Cheaper by the Dozen. I had a large family. I knew large families. And that movie was written by someone who had no idea what they were talking about. Holiday Inn wins.

4. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) vs. The Matador (2005)

I remember enjoying The Matador when I watched it as part of my movie challenge last year, so it's a little puzzling that I can recall almost nothing of what actually happened in it. I had to remind myself that I actually had watched it at all. But I do remember liking it, so it beats Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy which I remember not liking. The Matador wins.

5. Fatal Attraction (1987) vs. Rosemary's Baby (1968)

At first I thought, "Ooh, this is a tough choice," but then I realized it really wasn't. I just wanted it to be a tough choice because I wanted to like Rosemary's Baby more than I did. It just never gripped me, and its final scene struck me as silly rather than scary. Fatal Attraction isn't a spectacular movie, but it's a thriller that thrills, and that was more than I got from its opponent here. Fatal Attraction wins.

6. The Karate Kid (1984) vs. Lyle, the Kindly Viking (2001)

Lyle, the Kindly Viking is a VeggieTales movie, and it's a pretty decent one. It's a parody of Gilbert and Sullivan musicals, which is, unsurprisingly, a gimmick that works for me. That being said, though, it's not my favorite VeggieTales movie, and while the music is great, the story is kind of blah. The Karate Kid is a better story as a whole. The Karate Kid wins.

7. Freaky Friday (1976) vs. The Others (2001)

I'm oddly fascinated by body-swap stories, so I should like Freaky Friday, but Jodie Foster's acting as a child rubs me the wrong way. The Others is a really beautifully-filmed story that easily takes the match here. The Others wins.

8. John Q. (2002) vs. The Women (1939)

The Women is another movie that I watched last year that has mostly slipped my mind. Maybe that's the peril of watching five movies a week. But it is undoubtedly better than John Q., which had a potentially interesting concept and a poorly executed script. The Women wins.

9. Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks With a Circus (1960) vs. P.S. I Love You (2007)

...Well, this is a gross matchup because I hate both of these movies. Toby Tyler is about a very annoying young boy who runs away to join the circus. We had it on VHS when I was growing up. P.S. I Love You was a movie I watched with some of my dormmates in an attempt to bond with them but, wow, did I hate that movie. I'm really not sure what to vote for here. I checked their current stats and it looks like Toby Tyler is eight spots ahead of P.S. I Love You, so it's not surprising that I'm having trouble choosing between them. I'm going to vote for Toby Tyler for now because that way at least nobody's gaining any spots on my chart. Neither one of them deserves to climb up.

10. Ali (2001) vs. Mighty Aphrodite (1995)

I'm a big fan of Mighty Aphrodite. It's one of my favorite Woody Allen comedies. I find it funny and delightful. Ali, on the other hand, is not funny and delightful (which it did not try to be) nor interesting and inspirational (which it did try to be). Mighty Aphrodite wins.

No shake-ups this time around. After 145,000 rankings, my chart's in pretty good order. Maybe I should start an entirely new Flickchart account from scratch for this blog series, to show how the charts take shape before you've ranked most of your movies into place. What do you guys think? And did I get any of these decisions wrong? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Quest for Forgiveness: The Worst Chapter. THE WORST CHAPTER.

Last time... three months ago... Brianna and Ethan found Susan to "confront" her only to find out that she had lost her hair, her teeth, and her mind because she and her kids stopped going to church after Ethan went to jail. That is only a very slightly exaggeration.

Brianna and Ethan start feeling bad for Susan, as they should because OH MY GOSH SHE IS A MESS.

She manages to stay coherent long enough to tell some sort of weird narrative about how she was going to "destroy" Ethan and Brianna by telling the courtroom that Brianna was Ethan's daughter, but that she changed her mind when she saw him:
“When I saw you in that courtroom, a broken man who had done nothing wrong, I realized that it was I who was wrong. I decided I could not hurt you by telling the truth about Janna and her identity. I realized you were doing what you had to as a father— protecting your child. At that moment, I understood.”
Yeah, too bad NONE of that came through in the trial, where she worked as hard as she could to testify that Ethan and Brianna had an inappropriate relationship going on.

She then talks for awhile about how great her life was after the trial, how she never had time for her kids, and how she somehow accidentally told Brianna's evil uncles about Brianna being Ethan's daughter.

Then we get this revelation.
“I never thought they would hurt your dad. Days later, I heard the news of your father being killed while he walked to his car. The report said it was an accident, a hit-and-run driver. The newspaper reported that a black truck with two men hit him and fled the scene. I knew it was the same men because I saw them leave my house in a black truck.”

OK, so apparently I wrote up to this point on this blog and then just left it and walked away because I could not process that ridiculous twist. It's now approximately three weeks later than it was when I started writing this blog, and when I reread where I'd gotten to on my draft, I still can't process it.

First of all, it's nice that there's only one black truck in the world. Makes it easy to figure out when the people in it are murdering people.

Secondly, apparently Ethan was right to be super worried about Brianna's family, because turns out they were all completely movie-serial-killer-obsessive about hunting her down and killing her, to the point where they just murdered her grandfather out of nowhere...

...but thirdly, that murder really makes zero sense. There was no reason to think that that would lead them any closer to Brianna. Why did that even happen? It's not like they got a hold of either Ethan or Susan and said, "Bring Brianna to us or this will happen again." Why was randomly killing her grandfather without telling anyone about it part of the plan? How was that going to help them? Were they just mad that Brianna had a grandfather?

The conspiracy theory goes deeper:
[Ethan] thought about the man of Arab descent who stabbed him in prison. Everything began to make sense. “They came after me too, didn’t they?”
Because apparently EVERYBODY FROM THE MIDDLE EAST is involved in a vast conspiracy to kill Brianna's family. And prisoner-on-prisoner violence is, of course, so rare that for a man of Arab descent to stab Ethan, he must be connected to them.

I think here I have to quote myself talking about The Quest for Skye, because here we're running into one of the same problems that that book had (well, a lot of them, because Rothdiener's just as crappy a writer no matter what the story is):
There's a movie I really love (which I'm not revealing the name of because I have to get super spoilery here to make my point). The basic idea is that an extremely paranoid man ends up getting very close to a very lonely woman, and by the end of the movie, the relationship has gotten all psychologically tangled up in the paranoia, which she has kind of latched onto in her mind as a way of relating to him. The final scene is this completely terrifying scene where he helps her create this enormous conspiracy encompassing nearly everything that's ever happened to her, making it fit, making the inexplicable facts of one person's life fit someone else's. It's a horrifying almost-monologue as you watch her just spiral and spiral and spiral into madness. 
That is what that paragraph was like.
The paranoia and Islamophobia and ridiculous leaps of logic they have to take to make everything fit here ("They drove a black truck!" "An Arabic man once stabbed me in prison!") are just utterly incomprehensible. And I want to give up and consider this blog post done because, whoo, ranting about that was intense, but we only have a couple pages left in this chapter and maybe we'll find out MORE stupid conspiracy theories, so I'm charging on.

Brianna reassures Susan that they won't come after them anymore:
Brianna finally spoke. “A few months ago, I confronted them. Conrad told them in no uncertain terms that if they ever tried to harm me, or anyone I love, they would have to face his wrath, and that of the United States military.”
I forgot they'd threatened them with the entire military. During this reiteration, though, I am extremely amused that Conrad felt he had to include himself in there. Like, "The military went after you... and also ME." This theme continues:
Susan asked, “Who is Conrad?”  
“He’s my bodyguard . . . ”  
“It’s really over?” Relief showed on Susan’s face.
"Because, of course, if a BODYGUARD threatened them, I'm sure these guys who wandered around America killing people and have been rabidly hunting Brianna for 20 years will back off now. Should've thought to have a bodyguard threaten them earlier!"

Ethan forgives Susan while musing how sad it is that she will remain in her own locked little world forever, because he's apparently decided there is to be no real redemption for Susan and no mental healing whatsoever, so that's pleasant.

OH WHAT AND APPARENTLY HE IS RIGHT because in the next scene Susan kills herself.



Way to bring closure to what is clearly supposed to be an inspirational story about forgiveness by having them forgive someone who hurt them significantly, only to have that person consumed by guilt and overdose on pills.

And then Rothdiener just casually throws in that Alana (Susan and Ethan's daughter) died of a drug overdose, too, though that one was probably accidental.

We end the chapter with this grave sentence:
Alana was like many of the young people in her generation, she thought she had time... but her time ran out.
Neither Susan nor Alana are mentioned again in the last few chapters of the book.

This is the worst "uplifting" Christian book ever.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Top 5, Bottom 5: Coming-of-Age Movies

Let's get back into blogging with a Top 5, Bottom 5 post! Whooooo! I apparently watched my 100th and 101st coming-of-age movies this year (Albatross and Finding Forrester) so this seems like a good time to write about my favorite and least favorite movies in the genre.

Top 5:
1. Charlie Bartlett (2007, #24). It's been a long time since I rewatched it -- though if I ever get back to my Top 100 project, I'll get around to it -- but I still remember how delightful I found Anton Yelchin and how compelling I found Robert Downey, Jr. And there was a period of time where I recommended it to everyone around me.
2. Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986, #31). I've written about this one before in my list of the happiest movies of all time, and I still think it belongs in that list. There's a tremendous sense of the freedom in this movie, and it always makes me feel better watching it.
3. American Beauty (1999, #34). I always forget about the coming-of-age aspect of this movie, since I think of it as revolving so much around Kevin Spacey's midlife crisis. But it is one of my favorite movies.
4. Donnie Darko (2001, #35). This movie is propelled almost entirely by Jake Gyllenhaal's fascinating performance, but it totally works.
5. Napoleon Dynamite (2004, #71). After several coming-of-age movies stuck together in the 30s of my Flickchart, we jump down several slots to find this weird little film that always makes me laugh.

Caution: Teenagers from Flickr via Wylio
© 2006 CGP Grey, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio
Bottom 5:
5. Hoot (2006, #2329 out of 2374). This movie is terrible. It's unfunny and uninteresting and propaganda trying to masquerade as a story, and I don't have a lot of tolerance for that.
4. Bee Season (2005, #2318). I don't remember much about this one except that I found it extremely disappointing.
3. Anne B. Real (2003, #2276). Well, there could've been a story here, but it got drowned out by ridiculousness.
2. Mean Streets (1973, #2267). This is maybe unfairly ranked so low. I really don't remember it. But I don't think I'll ever care enough to want to watch it again.
1. Tuck Everlasting (2002, #2140). I was a moderate fan of the book but was not so much a fan of this sappy movie.

Top 5 Unseen:
1. City of God (2002, global #201)
2. The Last Picture Show (1971, #223)
3. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984, #227)
4. Come and See (1985, #471)
5. Dazed and Confused (1993, #476)

What are your favorite and least favorite coming-of-age movies? Which of my top unseen ones should I watch first?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Blogging Again?


It's been awhile.

And I can't guarantee I'll be back as regularly. My new job doesn't necessarily take a lot of time, but as it gets going it's going to take a lot of energy, and of what I have left, I don't know how much will get devoted to blogging. I'm going to try to write up blogs over the weekend so that they're just ready to post throughout the week.

I would definitely like to try and make space for Quest for Forgiveness blogs again, as well as trying to post one other time a week, maybe on Wednesdays. Or maybe I'll try to pull together something that I can post on Mondays that will be entertaining but not take up a ton of time so I can focus on Wednesday and Friday blogs.

Sorry to have left you all hanging for so long. I've missed blogging, and I'm posting this as a hopeful, tentative promise that I'm on my way back.

And there's my Monday blog. TA-DA!