Archive | April 2020

Normal Life

This past weekend, because we couldn’t have a proper baby shower for my little sister, I arranged a Drive-By Baby Shower instead. It was a providential day; God blessed us with sun and good weather. No one was sure how it was going to work, but we set up tables and chairs outside and told guests the time frame for dropping off gifts and picking up a cupcake. As people did show up in bunches, it was fun to just stand in the front yard grass and talk, and at the end, those who were still there spread out on the grass to watch the new mom open her gifts. It was just a normal, wonderful afternoon spent with family and friends that I’ve sorely missed.

A big part of my life has always been going to church, and I miss that, too, but we’ve been doing Drive-In Church Services, and they are quite fun. Especially in a snowstorm. Bible Studies Online have also been a wonderful blessing as well, and it’s great to see everyone on screen even if we can’t be with them in person. These times are sure interesting with people finding ways to connect that they never really thought about before.

Besides that, I’ve been doing a lot of writing. 20,000 words and counting on the first draft of Trolls for Dust, Season Three, and I have been watching some Korean dramas.

Two Weeks starring Li Joon Gi: I really, really wanted to like this show, but by episode 10, I just wasn’t into it. For an intense storyline, father escapes from police custody in order to make it to donate bone marrow to his dying daughter in two weeks, the episodes were rather slow. It also took forever for the writers to flesh out the back story, how the cute-as-a-button little girl’s mom and dad fell in love and out of love in the first place, how mom ended up with her new man, etc. I get why they did it that way, as a big crisis for the mom is realizing that her boyfriend is actually a very good man after all, but I found myself wanting more back history and less present time. The villains were also one note and tedious after the first couple of episodes. This is the reason I never finished Lawless Lawyer, also starring Li Joon Gi. The villains repeated the same scenes or very similar ones ad nauseam. Not even including flash backs.

Watching an uninteresting story, makes one crave interesting, good, well written ones, so I turned to W: Two Worlds Apart starring Lee Jong Suk and Han Hyo Joo. To say this show is well written is an understatement. In fact, I’m surprised Hollywood or an American television hasn’t done a remake of it yet. The show breaks 3rd wall, 4th wall, 5th wall, all the walls. It’s a really fun show to watch and keeps both the characters and the audience guessing. Lee Jong Suk is perfect as a leading man, though maybe just a bit too baby-faced. The actor who really shines is Kim Eui Sung, who plays writer Oh Sung Moo. Poor Oh gets wrung through the wringer and back. This show really has a good combination of character and plot development, and the plot is so interesting that it’s often okay that it overshadows the rest. The writer for W definitely hit her sweet spot with this project, and it’s definitely on my top ten list for Korean dramas.

The others on my top 10 list are, not in any particular order: City Hunter, Faith, Boys Over Flowers, Goblin, You’re All Surrounded, Hello Monster, High School King of Savvy, I am Not a Robot, and Descendants of the Sun. Although I like the romance in Korean dramas, it’s the more interesting, action or fantasy-oriented plots that really keep me hooked. Honorable mention to K2, except for the last four episodes or so. My next drama to try is Tell Me What You Saw starring the awesome Jang Hyuk from Fated to Love You (by a truckload of tissues for the latter half) and Slave Hunters (really long, but epic).

A Good Friday

Since Two Weeks is actually taking me a good two weeks to watch, I don’t the review ready yet. I will say, though, that so far Li Joon Gi (Scarlet Heart Ryeo) is almost having to overact to compensate for most of the other cast members who are all just phoning it in, especially the bad guys. Further review coming next week.

Aside from the shutdown or collective quarantine or coronavirus panic, or whatever we’re calling this craziness in 2020, I had planned to have this day off, anyway. Sometimes with work going on, many church services I wish to attend, and added duties like directing choir or getting Lenten meals set up, the Lenten season and Holy Week are often just too busy for me to reflect properly on the wonderful gift of salvation in Christ.

Today, I do have off for Good Friday, for once, and it’s great to have the time to just be quiet and think, to think on my sins, and more importantly, to think on their forgiveness. That a sin can be forgiven is true magic, otherworldly magic. No amount of pixie dust or cauldron spells can touch that. They can’t even come close, either in our imagination or our reality. The real suffering of Christ was from God’s abandonment, his forsaking of him at the cross, due to the world’s sins placed on his shoulders. It is the worst pain to ever exist and something we can’t even fathom. Sometimes in life, it seems like God has gone away from us, but usually it’s actually that we’ve gone away from Him, focused on other, earthly things, or fallen into a sin. If God had truly gone away, the world would stop, literally stop, and we would all be gone.

God could have truly abandoned us–we did and do deserve that, due to the evil in our hearts, but He didn’t. Instead, He abandoned His own perfect Son, who suffered and died in our place, transferring the benefits of his holy life to us, and taking on our sinfulness to himself. And that’s how Jesus won forgiveness, a truly great act of magic, only it’s real, there’s no trick behind it.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:13 (NIV)

The Scapegoat review (Spoilers)

To watch the movie first or read the book first? This was a tough call for me, but since I was certain the movie would lose some impact if I did read the book first, I went ahead and watched The Scapegoat starring Matthew Rhys. Now I’m chomping at the bit to read the book, but that probably won’t happen for awhile as there’s much on my plate as far as both reading and writing projects.

The Scapegoat (2012) is an adaptation of the novel by Daphne du Maurier. Recently, I have become a big fan of du Maurier and her amazing, atmospheric writing. She has great skill in writing in just about any time period and sounding relatively authentic, plus has a great affinity for thrilling plots. The Scapegoat is a doppelgänger tale, two strangers switch places and their lives are never the same after. The plot immediately brought to mind the works of Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr. Ripley), whose Strangers on a Train is also on my reading and eventual watch list.

Two identical strangers meet coincidentally in a pub. One’s rich, the other poor. Shades of Prince and the Pauper, and they do exchange places, though the poor, out of work schoolteacher gets tricked into it. John continues the charade of playing Johnny because he’s rather thrilled with the aspect of being rich for awhile: Cool car, big house, etc. After meeting Johnny’s family, however, he realizes that his twin isn’t a very nice person, keeping mistresses, continually cheating on his wife, lying, and generally being careless with the welfare of his family and company. It quickly becomes clear that a company deal Johnny was supposed to have brokered did not happen, and he’s placed John in a position to take the fall.

The schoolteacher’s character quickly becomes clear: He’s very kind to all of Johnny’s family, especially his very precocious, annoying daughter, nicknamed Piglet. Since John is more bookish and intelligent than Johnny, he even finds a way to remedy the company situation and ends up getting the deal done, anyway. Throughout the film, which takes the place over maybe a week or so, we see how John affects Johnny’s family in positive ways, hearing out their troubles, getting his mother (Eileen Atkins) to forgo her morphine addiction and get out and among people again, comforting his sister (Jodhi May) who is still in mourning for the loss of a loved one, and giving real hope to his brother and a chance for him to move forward career wise.

Johnny is placed firmly in the villain camp. He comes back to find John settling quite nicely into his rather great life, and is so jealous, especially of John’s connection with his wife (Alice Orr-Ewing), that Johnny actually manipulates her into committing suicide. Fortunately, due to the precocious yet very smart Piglet, John is alerted and gets there just in time to save her. It is heavily implicated that Johnny was the cause of the suicide of Rose, whom his sister loved, and that he likely manipulated her in the very same way. Despicable does not even begin to describe this person.

As Johnny would now like his life back, now that the schoolteacher has fixed everything, John finds that he must literally fight for his life in order to oppose him. It is only the housekeeper/nanny (Phoebe Nicholls) who calls John out as not actually being Johnny, and it’s something she does as a last resort to get the better man to stay, stay and keep doing good for the family. I think it likely the rest of the family members suspect something–how could they not–but like this new Johnny so much, they prefer not to question. This is truly a happy ending: The villain is dead and has gotten his just desserts, and a much better man is installed in his place.

The term scapegoat comes from the Bible’s Old Testament. The sins of all the Israelites were symbolically placed on a goat by a high priest and the goat was sent off into the desert to die. This concept of someone or something else punished in one’s place is found throughout the Bible, because Jesus the Savior, though he was innocent, took on all of the sins of the world, and the punishment and death for them. He also conquered death from rising from the dead, something that Christians celebrate every Easter.

Another story connected with this idea, is The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman, in which a poor boy is whipped or punished whenever the rich boy does something wrong. In this story, the boys also swap identities. In effect, that is what a scapegoat means, taking on the identity of another person.

A great watch, and I can’t wait to read the book. Next week I will be back to reviewing Korean dramas. Just started Two Weeks starring Li Joon-Gi from the popular Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo. It’s about a falsely accused man trying to prove in innocence and make it time to donate bone marrow for his daughter dying of leukemia. I’m also reading and immensely enjoying the book The Lies of Lock Lamora. I heard about the book from perusing reviews of Six of Crows, which I loved. This is also a fantasy heist/con artist story, and although I never got into the Game of Thrones TV series, I think fans of that would like this.