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Showing posts from 2017

Amy's The Dark Tower Movie Review: "I Kill with My Heart"

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I went to see the movie The Dark Tower last night which was based on the Stephen King novels and was pleasantly surprised. If I am skeptical about a movie, I always read the reviews from Focus on the Family’s website, Plugged In Online. Their reviewers tell each and every part of the films being reviewed, so you’re never walking into a theater not knowing what you are about to see. If I feel weird about the content after reading one of their reviews, I just don’t go.I’ve never read a Stephen King novel, nor have I seen any of the film versions of his books, so this was a new experience for me. His book, On Writing, was excellent however.Critics didn’t have much good to say about it, but I am going to assume they’ve all read the series of books and are comparing the film to them. Obviously, it is pretty much impossible to fit an entire series into one movie, so their displeasure was inevitable. All I knew of the story was what I saw in the trailer.The idea of a gunslinger intrigued me …

Book Review: Steinbeck's The Moon is Down

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I recently finished reading a book made up of only 8 chapters. Short? Yes, but man, what a read.John Steinbeck’s novel, The Moon is Down, centers around a small Norwegian town occupied by the Nazis during WWII. Although the novel never explicitly labels the occupiers as Nazis, the book was published in 1942, when things in Europe were pretty heated and Hitler was dominating anyone and everyone who didn’t bow to his twisted leadership.I learned from the introduction written by Donald V. Coers that Steinbeck wrote the book as a propaganda piece to help the war effort in America. His critics were unduly harsh towards the novel when it was published, even going so far as to question his patriotism and anti-fascist beliefs because they felt he was not hard enough on the Nazis.Steinbeck said of his critics, “The war came on and I wrote The Moon is Down as a kind of celebration of the durability of democracy. I couldn’t conceive that the book would be denounced. I had written of Germans as m…

Colorado

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A few months ago, we took a trip to visit my Aunt Kim who lives is Denver, Colorado. Dad bought a nice little trailer a while back, so we reserved a spot at Chatfield State Park, about 30 minutes outside the city.The park was lovely, very clean and quiet. Of course we were there during the week, so when the weekend did roll around, families started pouring in. But it was nice to sit in our fold up chairs watching the little kids driving their child-size ATVs around and riding their bikes.We brought Scout along and he had a lot of fun walking and sitting with us during the day in the shade of the trailer's awning. We were there the week of Mother's day weekend, so on that day we attended a "bird banding" at the Audubon Center. The event planners had laid out breakfast foods for attendees and after we ate, the tour guide took us down a path and into the woods where the banding was took place.The lady doing the banding took small wild birds native to the area out of tin…

The Fairy Pools

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The glen where the fairy pools cut their way down the mountain was also full of magic.We walked down they very steep hill, then up the other side, hopping over small streams as we went. The pools are numerous and quite large, and are situated like a staircase, each one lower than the other forming lovely waterfalls. There were so many of them that I had most of them all to myself for several minutes as we walked down the path beside them.The water is turquoise, yet blue like the Mediterranean, which I have seen with my own eyes. Although I have never seen colors quite like these. The temperature of the water wasn't as cold as I thought it would be, but I still did not jump in, unlike some of the other hikers who were braver than me.After perusing the lower pools for a while and admiring their jeweled tones, I continued up the path and past the pools on my own. The mountains before me were so majestic they took my breath away. I couldn't do anything for a while but sit on a bou…

Sheildaig with Caroline

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Lots of beautiful scenery today. The sky changes constantly. We drove past a man standing in his sheep pen with the black faced sheep gathered in a bunch at one end. He was old and wrinkled, wearing a tweed jacket and hat. He stood with his arms crossed over his chest, just looking out over the loch. The water moved slowly and the clouds hung low over the stacked brown, green, and golden hills.Everyone has a Border Collie here. They are beautiful and run ahead of their owners.On our way to Sheildaig on Wednesday night, we saw a young man with about four Border Collies in a field. It looked like he was ending his work day with them.Sheildaig was beautiful. A quaint little loch side village with white buildings facing the water. A few people sped by on bikes, but a few walked with small dogs off leash trotting behind them. We had dinner in the pub next to our hotel. I had crab cakes and chips. They were delicious!Our beds were large and soft. They felt like sleeping in massive marshmall…

The Old Man of Storr

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Today, I tried to walk up the (very) steep path to see the Old Man of Storr rock, which was scaled by a man named Don Whillans, an Englishman, in 1955 for the first time. The climb was steep and I only made it halfway before a German couple came down and met me on the path.I asked them if the clouds were covering the rock that day, making the Old Man invisible. They said yes and that we shouldn't try today. Wasn't worth the climb, so I went back down. It really tuckered me out, but we will try again tomorrow when we pass by on the road.The next day: We saw this rocky tower from a distance as we drove along. The day before it had been covered in clouds and was totally invisible.The golden eagle, the national bird of Scotland, used to perch high on the Old Man's head. It is 160 feet high and stands dark and foreboding against the pink and golden light of evening. I am so glad I got to see it.I was afraid I had come all this way only to be disappointed by a cloud.We passed th…

Dunvegan Castle and Kilt Rock

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Today, we drove to Dunvegan castle, where Flora McDonald and Sir Walter Scott stayed many, many years ago. The oldest parts of the castle date back to the 14th century.The castle holds the Fairy Flag, a silk banner dating from somewhere between the 4th and 7th century, Bonnie Prince Charlie’s waistcoat, and a lock of his fine hair.Dunvegan was closed, sadly, but looking at it from the outside was stunning. It is built of dark stone and holds a commanding presence, like something out of a Gothic story or film. We stood on the edge of the water and looked at the castle, sitting on the edge of the water to our left. I could imagine Bonnie Prince Charlie in his tiny boat with Flora McDonald, on that dark night in 1746.As we drove along the edge of the island, we stopped and took in the sight of the cliffs near Trotternish that look like a giant kilt. These cliffs are straight up and down, and the formation of the rocks makes them look striped. The sun was hidden but we could see them clea…

South Uist: Flora and Bonnie Prince Charlie

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Today, we hope to visit Flora McDonald’s grave in South Uist, on the far North section of the island. Flora was the young woman who saved the life of Bonnie Prince Charlie, leader of the Jacobite rebellion from being English by helping him escape to Skye in 1746.It is said that Flora was buried wrapped in the sheet that the prince slept on.Dunvegan castle is on the way to her grave, and I learned that during their escape, Flora and Bonnie Prince Charlie rowed past it on their way. How deliciously romantic!At Flora McDonald's Grave in Kilmuir: The grave yard is a lard square area, the mossy green hills rising like funny bumps all over it, with headstones covered in green plants probably blown in from the sea which the graveyard overlooks.Flora's grave is a large white celtic cross that stands tall above the others. I imagine she enjoys looking out over her beloved coastline of Skye on stormy nights. There are lovely sentiments engraved on the stone which was replaced by her des…

Highland Roads

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This entry is from when we were on our way to the Isle of Skye. Ever since I discovered photographs of the island on the internet and mentions of it in books, I’ve wanted to visit and spend some time discovering all the wonderful delights it has to offer.Some people are beach lovers, and I do like the beach, but if I had to make a choice between the two I would choose a broody, misty island on the coast of Scotland to spend a nice holiday. I guess it’s just in my Scot/Irish blood to want to be where my ancestors raised their families, eventually emigrating to North America.After spending the night sleeping in fluffy beds in the little village of Sheildaig, we drove the Western Ross Coastal Road yesterday. It winds high up thru the highlands on a single lane road. There were several drop-offs that made us nervous, but we made it. The road was almost vertical at times as we climbed in Caroline’s tiny car. We made it to the top and found a stone bench cut into the mountainside with a sto…

Scotland Road Trip Memories

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I found some pages of the journal I took with me to Scotland in March 2016 wherein I documented our trip to the Isle of Skye. I tried to write down lots of details as we sat wrapped in warm blankets on the couch of our rented caravan each evening. I think I did a pretty good job of keeping the details straight while painting pictures with my words.I hope you enjoy the next few posts.Friday, March 18th, 2016 – Eilean Donan CastleSitting in our caravan the clouds outside hang low on the tops of the hills. They are high, but their tops are hidden by the mist that surrounds them. The weather can change in a second, like yesterday when we toured Eilean Donan castle. The clouds were there, but in five minutes, the sun came out and warmed us all so well. It lit up the loch, making the water sparkle and shine like diamonds.The castle stands tall and proud on its throne that is nestled in the water, connected to the mainland by a stone bridge. What a dream come true it would be to get married …

Paradiddles

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I received a thank you note in the mail yesterday from one of my former drum students for a gift I gave him at his graduation ceremony. Asa was one of the first boys I ever taught to play drums, when
I was still figuring out exactly how to teach.


The book I chose as a gift was Os Guinness’ (yes, I love Dr. Guinness’ work a lot) book, The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life. Along with the book I wrote a letter to Asa, offering him the wisdom I feel I have gleaned over the years as a young person. Wisdom is something that should be passed down, and I feel it is important for us to make it a point to actually write a letter to those younger than ourselves. Especially if you’ve been in some kind of leadership role in that person’s life.


Asa is a special kid. His siblings are all special but I’ve spent the most time with Asa during our drum lessons so I see him a little differently. I watched him learn how to hold his drumsticks correctly, stopping every so …

Trump's Warsaw Speech and Why It Matters

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I love to analyze speeches (I guess I did learn something in college), so I thought I’d do a small one for President Trump’s defining speech in Warsaw last week. The first one I did was for Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to a joint session of congress a few years ago. You know, the one Obama didn’t want or didn’t care about hearing?It is mostly me fleshing out my thoughts on his remarks, but writing them out helps me to think and consider the concepts more in-depth.On June 6th, President Trump gave a stirring speech to international leaders and a massive crowd gathered in the city of Warsaw, Poland. Most significantly, the speech was delivered in front of the Monument to the Heroes of the Warsaw Uprising, a magnificent statue that looms over Krasinski Square.President Trump paid tribute to the people it represents, stating “It is a profound honor to stand in this city, by this monument to the Warsaw Uprising, and to address the Polish nation that so many generations have dreamed of: a P…

Mini Review of Os Guinness' Impossible People

A lot of people ask me: “How do you know that?” when I start one of my mini speeches about literature, philosophy, history, or current events. I can’t seem to stop myself sometimes because I have so much information to share and I want people to discover something about a subject as I have.I thrive on discovery. I love it when after some doing some digging, I find some tidbit of information that no one else knows or that hasn’t been unearthed in a long, long time.It gives me quite a thrill when I am curious about something and store it in the back of my mind and later pick up a book that offers some answers inside its pages. Connecting the dots is exciting, especially when I find a solid answer to a huge question about culture or any other issue.Reading is such an integral part of discovery. Books hold so much information, some of it trash and some of it treasure. You have to know how to differentiate between the two in order to not digest lies. This is also a very important part of d…

What It's Like to Be Me

Lately, I've been working on a story that involves outer space. Don't ask what it is about because I am not going to tell you... Not yet anyway! Tonight during our writer's meeting, one of our members said to me "I wonder what it's like being you." For a minute I thought: 'What a nice compliment!' Then I thought: 'What IS it like being me?' I've only met her at least four times, so she doesn't know much about me except that I write fiction. When she said that, my mind began racing, taking me through a sort of drive-thru of my life and all the things that I've done and been for the past 28 years. I've recently gotten to know this new side of myself as a writer, which is interesting because I've been writing for a long time. Not whole books or anything, but I have been writing. This "new" side of me is something I've not tapped into for a while because of my internship in DC and my current job search. But going…

The Case for Christ: My Movie Review

I went to the movies tonight to see The Case for Christ, the story of author Lee Strobel's journey from atheism to faith in Christ. There was so much hype about the recent new release movie The Shack, which was also based on a best-selling book (fiction). What I want to know is why so much hype about that and not the movie I just saw? I guess a movie about evidence based on facts isn't that exciting (facts can be boring. Not to me though). His story isn't fictional, so maybe people just want to watch something that makes them feel good like The Shack. I haven't seen it and probably won't, so I don't know. The more I read and listen, the more I think I am becoming the intellectual type (without the big head), so a movie like this really appeals to me. As a real story about a real man, I think this film should be hyped more than movies like The Shack. Perhaps it is because The Shack novel was published only a few years ago, whereas Strobel's book wasn't.…

Beauty and the Beast: My Movie Review

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For almost a year now, I’ve been anticipating the release of the new Disney live-action Beauty and the Beast. Today I saw it with some friends who have been excited to see it.It was beautiful. I especially enjoyed the iridescent colors of the Be Our Guest scene. It was gorgeous and added to the beautiful animated 1991 version of the fairytale.I was pleasantly surprised with Emma Watson’s role as Belle. She has a young and innocent look, yet her character is strong and wise beyond her years.Watson said before signing on to the role of Belle that she was reluctant to play the role unless the character had more feminist qualities. At first I was disappointed that she had to say this, but after seeing the film I understand more about Belle’s role in this new version and the 1991 animated film.Belle has always been my favorite Disney “princess,” even though she isn’t really a princess at all. The only way she achieves this status is by marrying Adam, the prince. In the new version, the en…

Media Bias: A Capitol Hill Intern's Perspective

Since the mainstream media have been crying lately because Trump hurt their feelings by not calling on them during press briefings etc, I thought I would give you all my perspective on this since I just finished a semester as a small, insignificant intern reporter on Capitol Hill.I felt like a fly on the wall every time we’d go to a press briefing, like I was watching things happen that weren’t really happening, partly because I was so in awe of being on the Hill, during one of the most controversial Presidential elections in our nation’s history.Just to give you a taste of what it is like up there for an intern reporting for a (very cool) non-profit organization, I was not really high on the list to be called on by Paul Ryan. We were told that certain reporters had certain seats, so you weren’t to take their spot etc. I understand the turf thing, and I was just a lowly intern, but I thought it would be every man for himself at these briefings. Myself and my fellow intern arrived an h…

I Really Do Love My Job

My Dad asked me last night if I had to work this morning. I told him yes, I did. Then I said "I never dread going to work." Dad said that is a good thing, and it made me consider my situation and why I like my job. Even though I only work part-time at the church and have for the past five years or so, I really do enjoy it. I am, for lack of a better word, a janitor. But honestly, my position has offered so many benefits. I don't ever feel stressed, rushed, or micromanaged by my supervisor, and I am happy doing what I'm asked. It isn't the most glamorous job in the world, but there are janitors our there who deal with worse than I ever have. Working hard and seeing the finished product every day after I am through is satisfying. There aren't many people out there who can say that they feel satisfied after ending a full day of work. I am happy for those who can! There are times when I am embarrassed to tell people when they ask what I do, but I need to let tha…

Walking Ranger and Scout

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Before I left for my semester in Washington D.C., I was taking care of a friend's dog whose name is Ranger. He is half Basset Hound and half Australian Shepherd, which are two of the most animated and loyal breeds in the world. Like my Aussie Scout, Ranger is super smart and very athletic. He loves long walks and being close to his owner for cuddles. The Basset in him, from what I have experienced during our time together, makes him quite independent and strong-willed. He's not the kind of pup to mosey alongside you on a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood. He wants to get smell everything and log some miles! Now that I am back in Fort Worth and watching him some during the week, today I took the long leash that I use for Scout so he can go ahead of me and sniff. By the time I catch up, he is ready to move on. Ranger absolutely LOVED that. He is a feisty little guy, but I could tell he very much enjoyed the freedom a long leash walk afforded. As we walked on the sidewa…