Emily M. DeArdo

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movies

#13 Paul, Apostle of Christ

journal, movies, Take Up and ReadEmily DeArdoComment
paul poster.jpg

I totally missed this movie when it was in the theaters, but I picked it up on DVD, and it’s great!

I gotta say, I knew very little about Paul’s life until I worked on Flourish, the new Take Up and Read book that focuses on the Book of Romans (and that you can BUY RIGHT NOW HERE!). Watching this movie was a great way to cement that knowledge and also watch some great acting. (I love Jim Caviezel!)

So if you haven’t seen it, I recommend it. And the Flourish study starts October 14! I’ll post more about it—INCLUDING a give away!—as we get closer to the start date!

My Favorite Christmas Movies

moviesEmily DeArdoComment

I've shared with you some of my favorite Christmas songs, and Christmas books, and now it's time for Christmas Movies!!! Few things say Christmas more to me than certain films. 

In no particular order, here are my favorite Christmas movies (or cartoons): 

** Mickey's Christmas Carol: This is from the 80s and features some dynamite Disney animators in their early stages; names like Glenn Keane and John Lasseter are in the credits. It's not entirely authentic to Dickens' tale, but it's a great introduction to the story, with beautifully animated characters and a pitch-perfect Scrooge McDuck. And how can you not love the Ghost of Christmas Present? 

Candied fruits with spiced sugar cakes! 

Candied fruits with spiced sugar cakes! 

** The Santa Clause: Kids today will be blown away by the size of the cordless phone....but the movie holds up well. Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) finds a fallen Santa Claus in his front yard on Christmas Eve, puts on the Santa suit, and becomes...Santa Claus. Only he doesn't believe it. But when he starts gaining weight by the ton and growing an impressive Santa beard right after shaving.....maybe there's something going on after all. A great family movie that will probably make you want cocoa. 

Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) tries a cocoa recipe 1500 years in the making at the North Pole. 

Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) tries a cocoa recipe 1500 years in the making at the North Pole. 

**'Twas the Night Before Christmas: This is an OLD Rankin-Bass cartoon. The town of Junctionville, NY has annoyed Santa because someone wrote a letter calling him a "fraudulent myth". How can the town get Santa to forgive them? 

**How The Grinch Stole Christmas: (both of them) Of course, the animated version cannot be beat. But the live-action one has its charms, especially in some of the dialogue. 

**A Charlie Brown Christmas: Right? I mean, you just have to watch it. 

 

** Muppet Christmas Carol: I LOVE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL. I usually watch it at least twice. If you haven't seen it, you must, because it's the most faithful movie version I've found, with the narrator (Gonzo) actually reading parts of the prose as the narration. Michael Caine is Scrooge, Kermit is Bob Cratchit, and Miss Piggy is his wife, Emily. Rizzo the rat is Gonzo's sidekick. The whole gang is here, with great music, too. 

Michael Caine and the muppets 

Michael Caine and the muppets 

**The Family Man: This is sort of a take on It's a Wonderful Life. High-flying financier Jack Campbell has the perfect life: a penthouse in Manhattan, a fancy car, and a huge salary. But one Christmas Eve he gets the chance to see what would've happened if he'd chosen to marry his college girlfriend, Kate (Tea Leoni)--and he wakes up the next morning in suburban New Jersey, with a wife, two kids, and a job at a tire store. One of my favorite parts of the movie is when Jack, in his alternative life, is given the chance to have the job he has back in "real" life. He tells Kate, "we could have a life that other people envy!"

"Oh, Jack," Kate says. "They already do envy us."

**The Holiday: A sweet movie wherein two women--Kate Winslet in England, and Cameron Diaz in LA--decided to switch homes over the holidays as they try to escape their lives. The movie really is sweet (meaning touching) and features great performances by Jude Law and Jack Black as the men in the women's lives. 

**The only "Old" movie on this list: Meet Me In St. Louis. I love it mostly for Judy Garland, and the movie gave us the song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Which, of course, Judy slays. 

 

**And finally, the coupe de grace of all Christmas movies: A Christmas Story. In my family, we could probably recite this guy. If you haven't seen the tale of Ralphie and his Red-Ryder BB gun (with this thing that tells time!), you are missing out. FIX IT. 

The Parker Clan of Cleveland Street: L-R: Mom, the "Old Man", Randy, and Ralphie. 

The Parker Clan of Cleveland Street: L-R: Mom, the "Old Man", Randy, and Ralphie. 

Seven Quick Takes No. 129: Happy birthday, Jane!

7 Quick Takes, Jane Austen, books, holidays, history, linksEmily DeArdo3 Comments

I. 
Today is Jane Austen's 241st birthday!!! Yay!

This is definitely something to celebrate. So here's some links to help you celebrate, too! 

II. 

Here is one of my series on Jane's writing, if you want to catch up: 

Jane, Aristotle, and Aquinas

Also, Jane's characters figured prominently in my Seven Characters post! 

III. 

A wonderful way to celebrate today is to watch Pride and Prejudice. The ONLY Pride and Prejudice. As in, the one featuring Colin F as Mr. Darcy. Because I do not acknowledge any others. :-P Keira Knightly is not Lizzie in my world. 

IV.

If you would like to watch a Jane biopic, there is Becoming Jane, which I recommend. Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy are fantastic. 

Anne Hathaway as Jane in  Becoming Jane

Anne Hathaway as Jane in Becoming Jane

V. 

You could also practice your instruments if you play any. Be like Marianne and play a "powerful concerto".  Or just listen to the Sense and Sensibility movie soundtrack, which is perfection. 

And since it's Christmastime (well, almost), we might wonder what carols would Jane have known? Here's a piece about Regency Christmas carols, and here's one from the Jane Austen Center. Also, Messiah was composed in 1741, thirty-four years before Jane was born, so she might have been familiar with some of the pieces. (It was first performed in Dublin, but had its London premiere in March 1743).  Her father was a clergyman, and the piece was performed in cathedrals around the country after the London premiere, so it might have been possible for Jane, or members of her family, to have heard it. 

Not familiar with some of the regency carols? I've provided some audio for your listening pleasure. 

VI. 

A little bit about Jane's family: her father, George Austen, was a clergyman who married Cassandra Leigh on April 26, 1764. Jane was the seventh of eight children and the second (and last) daughter--her sister, Cassandra, who was her best friend, was two years older than she was, and outlived Jane by twenty-eight years. 

The rest of the siblings were: Rev. James Austen; George Austen (who was severely disabled--either with epilepsy or cerebral palsy, we're not quite sure); Edward Austen-Knight (he was adopted by the Knight family as their heir, thus his last name); Henry Austen, Jane's favorite brother; Francis (Frank), who became a vice-admiral in the British Navy (giving Jane plenty of knowledge about the navy for her novels, especially Mansfield Park and Persuasion); and her younger brother, and youngest sibling, Charles, who also joined the Navy. 

Edward ended up being instrumental in the care of his widowed mother and unmarried sisters after their father died in 1805; he provided them with Chawton Cottage, where Jane did most of her writing, and where she died on July 18, 1817 at the age of forty-two.  (All of the brothers, though, helped support the women in the family after the reverend's death, with money and offerings of housing, etc.) 

VII. 

And finally, we must have tea! if you really want to drink tea like Jane did, get some Twinings, which was the brand she and her family drank! From the Twinings website: 

A century later, writer Jane Austen was a devoted customer because, at a time when tea leaves were sometimes mixed with tree leaves by unscrupulous vendors and smugglers, Austen could be sure of buying unadulterated leaves at Twinings. In an 1814 letter to her sister Cassandra, she mentions: “I am sorry to hear that there has been a rise in tea. I do not mean to pay Twining til later in the day, when we may order a fresh supply.” 

She visited the shop to buy tea for herself and her family when she was in town (meaning London) visiting her brother, Henry.  So, we must have tea on Jane's birthday. Their Lady Grey tea is an excellent choice for afternoon tea drinking.

 Here's a piece on tea in the Regency Era , and one on tea in her novels. 

There is also the delightful book Tea with Jane Austen as well as At Home With Jane Austen.  One day I WILL get to England and do the Jane Austen tour. My entire bucket list is basically that. 

Happy birthday, dear Jane!

Seven Quick Takes No. 126

7 Quick Takes, family, travelEmily DeArdoComment

I. 

Until the election, I'm doing 30 Days of Beauty. It's a series where I post images, book and movie recommendations, and music to serve as a bit of peace and loveliness in the crazy. They're not very long, but hopefully you enjoy them as much as I've enjoyed putting them together!

II. 

Makeup recommendation time (this is where all the guys scroll down!): Best mascara I've ever tried is Maybelline's Last Stiletto. Seriously. Try it. Works just as well as Lancome's Definicils and better than any Bobbi Brown I've tried. Needed to share this with y'all. 

III. 

I am going to Houston on Sunday! My sister's birthday is on Monday and she wanted me to come visit her, so I am complying. I'll be there for a few days. 

The extra-fun part is that my sister shares a birthday with two of our cousins, one of which also lives in Houston. So it's gonna be one big party. Yay!

(I do love birthdays. So much.)

IV. 

On Tuesday we're going to the beach. Here's how that conversation went:
Mel: So we'll go to the beach on Tuesday.
Me: Guess I won't need to pack my sweater, then....

It's going to 90 when I'm there. The beach in October? That just seems wrong. 

Oh well! Better than not being on the beach, right? 

V. 

I haven't been to Houston in about five years, so I'm excited to go back. I also get to meet my sister's boyfriend, whom I haven't met yet. Hopefully I don't scare him away. :-P 

VI. 

The TSA agents really do not help women. I mean, seriously. ONE little bag to carry on of toiletries? This, and my meds, is why I have to check baggage. Seriously. I need more than one little baggie, TSA people. 

(First world problem, I know. At least I'm flying Southwest and my checked bag is free.) 

VII. 

Hockey season has begun and my heart is happy. Hockey season always makes me happy. Except when/if my teams are tanking. I don't want that to happen. That's not happy. 

 

Sugarcoating Suicide: Me Before You (Or: Why you should not read this book or see this movie)

life issues, transplantEmily DeArdo27 Comments

I get really, really tired of defending my existence.

If it isn't people telling me that my transplant was immoral, it's people who think that assisted suicide for disabled people is a good idea, and a sign of love. 

Yes. Because, you know, nothing says I love you like KILLING YOU. 

Let's look at the cognitive dissonance, here: When someone--say, Robin Williams--commits suicide, social media is flooded with messages like, "suicide isn't the answer", "please get help-- don't be afraid of getting it", "I wish people knew that they could talk to me if they're ever feeling like this." Etcetera. You all know how this goes. People are sad, as they should be. People continually say that suicide is NOT a good option. And it's not. 

But: when it's a disabled person who kills himself, oh, well, that's love

And that's exactly what happens in the new movie Me Before You, based on the novel of the same name by JoJo Moyes. In it, a woman falls in love with a quadriplegic man she's taking care of--but, oh, he wants to kill himself. Because, you know, life in a wheelchair isn't worth living. And if she REALLY loved him, she'd go with him to Switzerland and be there when he kills himself. Because that's love: supporting you in all your bad choices! 

No. You know what love is? Love is what Mary Lenaburg and her family did for her daughter, Courtney. Love is what Kelly Mantoan and countless other parents do every day for their kids who need their help. Love is my mom washing my hair when I'm nineteen years old and her back hurts, or my dad staying up during countless ER runs with me, or my siblings learning how to reconstitute and push IV drugs. THAT is love. 

My life isn't perfect. Show me someone who says his life is perfect, and I'll say that this person is a liar. Did it suck, being twenty-three years old and not being able to brush my teeth without sitting down after? Does it suck now, when I have to ask people to repeat things because I don't always understand them, or when my CI malfunctions? Yeah. But I would never, ever say that that was worth being dead. Obviously, I like my life just fine, since I've been to the edge of death and come back from it five times. I must think that something is worth living for. 

When we start sugarcoating assisted suicide--like in The Sea Inside, Million Dollar Baby, and The English Patient--we are trying to make it morally acceptable. We're trying to tell people that suffering is bad and we should avoid it at all costs, even by killing people who are suffering. Guys. That's not love. That's not living boldly, as the movie's tagline execrably proclaims. 

Living boldly is living the way my friend Sage does, while she waits for a lung transplant.  It's what Andi's kids do every day, whether they're running crazily at a T-ball game or singing in show choir. Living boldly is embracing life in all its highs and lows and living anyway.  

I've had people tell me that they would've aborted me, if they'd been my mom. 

To my face, people. 

* * * 

In The Giver, a dystopian novel by Lois Lowry, Jonah, the main character, discovers that what everyone calls "release" is actually euthanasia. In his community, old people are killed, people who break the rules three times are killed, even one of a set of twins is killed. Babies that don't sleep through the night when they're a year old are killed. Why? Because they are inconvenient. Because they make life difficult for the community. Jonah can't live in a system like that, and runs away with Gabriel, a baby that is slated for "release." He risks his own life to save the baby's--because if you try to escape from the community and are caught, you are "released." 

The community's highest value is ease of life. No one experiences pain. No one, actually, experiences any emotions. People take a pill every day so that they don't have emotions. Parents don't have children--they are "given" children, who are born via artificial insemination. When Jonas asks his parents if they love him, they laugh at him and say it's a meaningless word. And thus, the community medicates away their humanity--and kills what is inconvenient. 

Yeah, it's a book--but are we that far off from that? Where do we stop? 

The abortion rate for Down Syndrome kids in the U.S. is 67% In Europe, it's 92%. We are killing babies because they are imperfect. Because they are inconvenient.  This Atlantic headline pretty much says it all--why on EARTH would you keep an imperfect baby? 

People sue for "wrongful birth"--saying that they wish their babies had never been born. Not all cases of CF are detectable in utero, because there are thousands of possible mutations. So if a kid with CF is born, and his parents don't like it, they sue. They can pretty it up all they want and say they need the money for the kid's care--but it's not about money. It's about having a kid who isn't perfect, and someone needs to pay for that. Someone made "a mistake."

Jesus had something to say about this: 

 

You know who made the "mistake", here? It was God. And no, it's not a mistake. God did all this for a purpose, and for a reason. My crazy genetic code exists to bring Glory to God. That's why I'm here.  

Suicide is not an answer for anyone, at any time. It's not romantic and it's not brave. In the case of assisted suicide, it's reprehensible. 

Life has value beyond its utility. We are not cogs in a machine. We are human beings created in the image and likeness of God. And to purposefully commit suicide is not brave. It's cowardly. It flies in the face of bravery. 

I'm not a hero. I'm not a saint. I screw up. But the answer to challenges isn't to give up. The answer is to live the best you can, in the circumstances you are in. Love is helping people find a way to live--not by helping them die. 

 

Questions, I Have: Star Wars Episode VII

moviesEmily DeArdoComment

So, this is very SPOILER HEAVY. If you  don't want spoilers, then skip this post. Go read yesterday's! 

 

(you were warned)

 

 

Ok, we're going now. :) 

 

So I saw Episode VIII: The Force Awakens last week, and overall, I liked it. The dialogue was five million times better than in any previous installments, the effects were well done, the acting was solid, the music was great. I really liked the blend of old and new characters. 

THAT BEING SAID: I have a list of questions. In no particular order:  

  1. Where the HECK did the First Order come from? The Sith is gone, presumably, at the end of ROTJ (Episode VI), because the Emperor and Darth Vader are dead, and "two there are", Yoda tells us in the prequels. And that's it. There's not like a Sith Training Academy. You have a master and an apprentice--and both are dead. So there's no Sith, and presumably no one to run the Empire, because I'm pretty sure the Rebellion/Republic went after them with all the Power of the Force and we saw all those parties at the end of the Reworked Episode VI, Indicating that we were free from evil, Ding Dong the Witch is Dead, Etc. 
    So...First Order. Where did you come from? 
  2. We know, from the prequels, that the Stormtroopers are basically disposable clones. Well, obviously, Finn is not a clone of Bobba Fett's Dad. So are we doing like a Lunar Chronicles thing and stealing them from their parents when they're born and basically brainwashing them into being Stormtroopers? (I'm not saying that HUGE PLOT HOLES aren't a part of the Canonical Star Wars Universe, because they are...)
  3. Also, Finn: When you were being trained as a Stormtrooper, what did you think you were going to be doing? Petting kittens? 
  4. Why Do Rey and Luke want to get back to these crummy desert planets?! SERIOUSLY?!?!?! It's a DESERT! ( I know, I know: it's home. OK. Fine. STILL.) 
  5. Why did Mark Hamill get top billing and the have precisely one scene, at the very end, with NO DIALOGUE? Also, why did he act like a Disney Princess and play the "this is all my fault, I'll run away now" card when Ben Solo/Kylo Ren Is turned....evil? 
  6. Also, why is he living on Skellig Michael? Has he become an Ancient Irish Monk? 
  7. Are Han and Leia divorced? Were they married to begin with, ever? If they were, does that make Han Galactic Royalty?  If they're divorced: did they have irreconcilable differences? Is there no fault divorce in this galaxy? 
  8. Why do the bounty hunters want Han and Chewie? 
  9. Why did they get rid off/sell the Falcon
  10. If they knew where the Falcon was all the time, why didn't they go get it?
  11. WHO is the crazy Supreme Leader Snoke? Is he REALLY a crazy huge thing, or is this like the Wizard? Pay no attention to the man behind the projection? Is he some sort of Sith derivative? 
  12. Don't we NEED the Sith to balance the force? So are they really gone? 
  13. Rey sure has a lot of power for never being trained as a Jedi. I mean, she almost took Kylo Ren down and he's supposed to be like, the MAN, here. (Random side note: He is MUCH more intimidating with the mask. Also, does he remind anyone else of Syndrome from Incredibles?) 
  14. Which guy--Finn or Poe--is Rey going to fall for? 
  15. I would've liked it if Han had said "If you strike me down, I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine" before his son killed him. (Fathers and sons have SERIOUS issues in these movies.)
  16. Who makes up the Rebellion? WHY is there a rebellion, when they won? (That connects to the first question)
  17. Are there Ewoks in our future? I hope so. (This really isn't a serious question)
  18. Why are the Empire/First Order weapons so FREAKING EASY TO DEFEAT? "Oh, yes, it's completely unbeatable, except for this glaring error that is easily spottable by our enemies! Ha ha! And it's basically the same problem we had thirty some years ago! (No, we do NOT learn from our mistakes.) "
  19. Also, how does one turn a planet into a weapon? Without, you know, destroying said planet?  (Yes, I know the planet was destroyed at the end of the movie.) 
  20. How long do Wookies live? 
  21. WHY would you have Daniel Craig in a movie and not SHOW us Daniel Craig? I mean, come on, JJ! 
  22. Why don't the stormtroopers have better armor after all this time?
  23. Why does C3PO STILL think that everything is going to turn out badly? Come on, 3PO. Trust the humans and R2 and BB8 (who is AWESOME, by the way).
  24. Is Rey Luke's daughter? I want some massive Rey backstory, here. What is going on with parents leaving her, etc. Why do parents leave their kids so much in these stories? And if Rey is Luke's daughter, then who is Rey's mom? Who was taking care of her? Because I doubt she was scavenging parts and brining them to trade as a four year old. Is she some sort of crazy collection of Midichlorians that make her magical, or something? 
  25. I still don't really know what a Midichlorian is. 

Daybook No. 111

Daybook, current projects, writing, books, fiction, Tidying UpEmily DeArdoComment

Outside my window::

Gray and rainy, sort of windy. The last few leaves are clinging to the trees and it really feels like fall out there. Not that I mind. I'm ready for it, because I do love my sweaters, tea, books, and blankets. As long as it's not snowing (heaven forbid), I'm fine. 

(It's actually not my window. I'm at Starbucks, writing and getting lots of stuff done with a Peppermint Mocha to hand.) 

Wearing::

jeans, navy blue flats, fake diamond studs, and a sweater from Lands End that's "vicuna" (that's what they call this sort of creamy khaki color) and black stripped. It's super cozy and perfect for today. 

Reading::

North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell; The Betrothed for Facebook Catholic Ladies' Book Club; The Fiery Cross (again). I've also got one more Neapolitan novel to read, but I think I'm going to wait to pick that one up. It's the last one, so savoring is appropriate. I'm also re-dedicating myself to finishing City of God sometime in the near future. It's just sitting on my "to read" pile and mocking me. 

Writing::

So, NaNoWriMo is still off and running, and man, I am writing fast, but the book has changed a lot from my initial conception. I've changed the title, I've changed the plot--basically, the characters have told me that they want this story. Forgiveness is a major theme. I'm wondering if this should even be--gasp--a series. Because it might be too long for just one book. I can certainly write them as two. 

Julie (My protagonist) is a fascinating character to write, because she's really not like me, and that's a first. Most of my protagonists, up until now, have had some basis in myself. But not Julie. This is also a YA novel, and I've never purposefully written one of those before. 

I'm really excited about this project, which is funny, because at first I wasn't sure if I was going to Do NaNo at all--but now I've got characters that are really clicking, and a long-winding plot that might go for two books. I should hit the "winning" total- 50K- by the end of this week. 

Creativity In Other Areas::

My friend Sarah is going to help me master the art of knitting and purling in the same project! So we're going to hopefully have a yarn along update for you guys tomorrow! I'm also working on a bunch of new blog post ideas, including the return of the Food Stories posts. 

Quick Movie Review::

spectre-poster-black-white.jpg

I saw Spectre with my brother last night, and it was better than I thought it would be. I don't know if it was as good as Skyfall, but it's really close, in my opinion. I love how the writers drew all of the Daniel Craig Bond plots together into a cohesive web. I don't know if we needed the car chase through Rome, but "reason not the need", as Lear says. Daniel Craig is great as Bond, and I love Ralph Fiennes as M (although I miss Judi Dench!). 

The ending was a bit abrupt and left me wondering what the next movie will be like. Speculation on the Interwebs is saying that movie will be out in 2017, so I guess I don't have too long to wait. 

(Although, one thing--can we stop with the efforts to dismantle the 00 Program, please? I mean, how many movies do we need before the British Government realizes that it's a very bad idea to do away with Bond and his ilk? Come on, guys!) 

(I also now feel the urge to watch all the Craig Bonds in succession. Maybe I'll do that after I finish writing today.) 

Tidying Up::

I have just about reached the end of the categories! The next step in the book is "finding a place for everything", and that might take some time. I'm going to re-read that section and try to get an idea of a game plan. 

Kondo talks about a "click point"--as in, you'll know when you're reached the optimal number of things you need in a category. I don't think I've hit it yet with my books or DVDs, so I'm going to keep culling. 

Listening To: