Archive | October 2021

Updates: Crazy week ahead

As I’ve picked up some seasonal hours this week and am working every single day, I won’t likely have energy to post this coming week. I still am enjoying both Yumi’s Cells (also plan to read the webtoon), and Kairos, and also the webtoon CinnamonRoll. Elantris is a good read so far, but a little slow, and The Possessed is just all of the usual Dostoevsky weirdness. “See” you again after Reformation, aka Halloween. –Pixie

The Chronicles of Narnia, Book Two, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Like Agatha Christie, C.S. Lewis is great at describing the character of people, more than their appearance. Especially for new writers, it’s easy to get overly anxious about describing what the characters and people look like, rather than focusing on who they are and how they act. How someone looks is important, but how someone acts is more important, especially in a good story.

But that’s all just an aside. Today I will be reviewing The Chronicles of Narnia, book two, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, or LWW, because my typing fingers are tired today. The beginning of this book is a classic in fantasy. Is there any better beginning than Lucy hiding in the wardrobe and finding Narnia? It’s almost a cliche reference at this point, so engrained is it in western society. In the fairly recent movie remake of this by Disney this scene and also when Lucy meets Mr. Tumnus, the faun, they did almost perfectly. Whoever cast James McAvoy as Mr. Tumnus should be congratulated, as he is one of the best actors out there. Also, remember LWW was the first book written and published in the series, and an awesome beginning. I don’t think if The Magician’s Nephew had been published first the series would have been quite so popular. LWW has more action and thankfully lacks the creepy uncle.

Despite liking this book very much, there’s so much of the story that as a kid I found tedious and boring and as an adult as well. Always at the point when the kids reach the Beavers’ house everything slows down and I have to take a break from the book. Something about animals in stories, even talking ones bores me to tears. Although I like animals, I wouldn’t describe myself as an animal lover and have never owned a pet, so perhaps that is the heart of the problem.

More striking in the book and the series as a whole: Lewis does not shrink from blood, fighting, battle, none of it. And sometime’s it’s almost shocking to think this is in a “kids” book, but I like that it is, and it’s good that it is. It’s also refreshing to have the boys doing the big fighting here. The girls also do not insist on fighting to prove something for all women. Men are generally better and more interested in physical fighting than women are. That’s okay. We understand from Susan’s and Lucy’s characters that they are capable and willing to fight if necessary. Susan with her bow and arrows, Lucy with her faith and persistence. Lewis’s complete embrace of fantasy is also refreshing. It’s okay for fauns, satyrs, nyphms, etc., to exist, even in a “Christian” work.

Speaking of Christianity, although Aslan isn’t a perfect stand in for Jesus Christ, the lion is a great symbol of our Savior and his sacrifice for all mankind. Because we have such a strong sense of justice built into us, it is often hard to reconcile someone dying to save others. The “others” feel unworthy. That’s okay, we are unworthy, but our feelings of that should quickly just be gratitude. We can’t earn salvation and we’re not going to earn salvation and faith helps us make peace with those feelings. Edmund is saved and forgiven and becomes a stronger young man, one who easily thereafter steps into being a king of Narnia. I also like the picture of a lion to reference Christ because we all too often think of Jesus being harmless and really, he is the Son of God, the most powerful being in the universe, and although he is loving, he is also the most dangerous person in same universe.

Reading this book reminded me that I still haven’t ever tried Turkish Delight. I have always wondered what this wonderful dessert is that Edmund eats. Maybe it was common in England back when this story was written, but today in America it’s just not something really around. Perhaps it goes under a different name here. I don’t really know. Anyway, it’s on my bucket list of things to try. Now, if it was Tiramisu, I would instantly understand the addiction.

I still really like the idea of the White Witch and how she’s controlled Narnia for long, as I do the parts seeing when her power fails and things are beginning to melt, but Jadis just isn’t really as interesting a villain to me as she was in The Magician’s Nephew. Probably because I already know she’s going to fail and will only be a footnote in Narnia history thereafter. As a side note, the casting for the White Which in the Disney movie was so off, despite Tilda Swinton being a very good actress.

All in all, I enjoyed the LWW, but was really looking forward to book five, the Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The ending, however, is truly marvelous. The four siblings stay in Narnia and become kings and queens in it. They live there for years upon years–who know how many year–and then one day rediscover the lamppost stuck in the ground and then the back of the wardrobe that leads back to our world. Upon arriving, they are kids again, and it’s only a few seconds or minutes since they left! They quickly revert back to being kids again, but their adult lives in Narnia are sort of always with them, maybe like our courage and strength in our daydreams are always with us, too. I sorta like the ridiculous way they talk as adults in Narnia. I mean, if one is going to be a king or queen in a fantasyland, one has to do it right and completely.

How Bad Is It?

I continue sharing these things in the hope of keeping people informed. Big Tech, Big Pharma, and Big Government are all bent on hiding information from we, the people, about the safety and efficacy of not only this new vaccines, but all vaccines. Dr. Peter McCullough: Therapeutic Nihilism and Untested Novel Therapies. Presented to the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons on October 2nd, 2021. They know this harmful and they know what they are doing. Plan accordingly for your families and God be with you always.

Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely

This is a great video showing exactly how bad it is for anyone to have too much power. Conspiracies are not theories, but reality on a staggering scale. At the end of the day, I feel bad for these people. They have literally gained the whole world, but lost everything, especially salvation and eternal life in the world to come in heaven. They are as foolish, perhaps more so, than those who built the Tower of Babel so long ago. Christians ultimately have little to fear from these people, but we can do what we can to resist and stop them from harming our fellow human beings. The first and best weapon we have is prayer and I pray daily that God would thwart the plans of the wicked. Monopoly, Who Owns the World?

The Chronicles of Narnia, Book One, The Magician’s Nephew

In my rereading of The Chronicles of Narnia, I just finished book six and am onto book seven, so might as well begin my reviews. C.S. Lewis doesn’t disappoint. He has such great ways of describing things and was also such a thinker of his time, but also a forward, big picture, thinker. Both are reflected in his writing.

The Magician’s Nephew

Copyrighted 1955. This is actually the second book Lewis wrote in The Chronicles of Narnia, but in order of the series timeline, the first. It is the creation story of Narnia. This one has always been in my top three of the Narnia books and even now, I’m still not sure if I like this or The Silver Chair better. This is the story of how Digory and his neighbor Polly run into Digory’s wicked uncle and end up in fantasyland.

Although there’s something about this story that always feels unformed to me, I think it works in the series as a whole, for on the one hand the plot is merely a precursor to the the next book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. On the other hand, in it’s own right The Magician’s Nephew deals very well with sin and evil. As the series is a Christian allegory, the sins of Digory, Uncle Andrew, and the rest are fully on display here, echoing the fall of humanity into sin in the Garden of Eden. It’s a good foreshadowing of more mistakes, temptations, and evil to come with the rest of the series, but also the promise that Aslan, a stand-in for God, or more specifically, for Jesus Christ, will reconcile everything and make it good again.

The magic green and yellow rings always fascinated me in this book, as did the long row of houses and how Polly and Digory move from one to the other in the attics and accidentally find Uncle Andrew’s office. Speaking of him, Uncle Andrew is seriously creepy! It’s an entirely different experience looking at him from an adult perspective rather than the child and young adult I was when I first read the series. He’s a gamma if there ever was one, even later thinking that the witch, Jadis, would fall in love with him. What a riot! Even to the end, he calls her a “dem fine woman.” Today he would totally be a male feminist. Uncle Andrew’s also so proud to be a super special secret magician, not once considering that just because one can do something, doesn’t mean that should do something. He perfectly embodies the mad scientists of today with their gain of function research and other monstrous experiments. Ironically, Uncle Andrew is important. Without him, the rest of the series wouldn’t have happened. Just as if Adam and Even hadn’t fallen, our great awesome salvation story wouldn’t have happened? Well, it’s interesting to think about, anyway.

The dying world Jadis comes from is interesting in its emptiness and of course Digory just has to ring that bell. I would be the same. It would be too tempting. As for the new world just beginning, I love the way Lewis describes Aslan and the creation of Narnia here. It’s a cool way to picture what the creation of our own world might have looked like.

Jadis is a haughty, evil diva. She is a more worthy opponent than evil guys like Uncle Andrew. She is through and through a villain. So is Andrew, but he’s so pitiful, one would rather just avoid him. Okay, now I can’t decide which kind of evil is worse, the one one you know you should confront right away, or the one that is awful, but doesn’t seem worth fighting, at least at first. Both have their place and both have been used throughout the world’s history.

I also like how Lewis embraces fantasy–really embraces it with all the weird creatures, not thinking them bad or wrong, but they could possibly exist. God could/could have create/d the and that would be just fine. Great, even. He can embrace it, because he has a good root, a sure faith in the real world and truth. I also like how humble people like cabbies can become kings. And what an awesome origin story for the lamppost!

As for the overly religious part: I like how Lewis deals a bit with the Tree of Life and how later Aslan tells Digory that if he had given some to his mother both would have regretted it. We don’t often really seriously think about what would have happened if Adam and Eve had eaten from the Tree of Life after Eating from the Tree of Knowledge. Imagine the constantly degrading world, constantly decaying, one’s body decaying and giving out and then not even being able to die. A whole different ball of wax than what we have now. In The Magician’s Nephew, Digory ultimately resists the temptation. This is a test from Aslan, a way to right Digory’s wrong of bringing Jadis to this world. I am happy he passes the test. I wish we could all pass the tests given to us, but it takes great faith, courage, and humbleness. The sacrifice of God necessary to truly atone for sin, Lewis leaves, or rather, wrote first in the second book that introduces us to the future kings and queens of Narnia: Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy.

And, cooly, Lewis slips in that Digory is The Professor in the next book and how the wood from Narnia was made into the magical wardrobe from The Lion, the Witch, and the….

On Writing Stories

The magic of writing or telling stories is that one doesn’t always know how the stories are going to end up. A drama could suddenly become a thriller, a western could morph in sci-fi, a procedural could be entwined with a romance. Characters are also unpredictable. Many have lives of their own and just sort of take off. Some authors I supposed wrangle them into fitting into a neat and orderly outline or a textbook journey of the hero, but for me it’s fun to see where they take me. Sometimes I do make outlines, but more often than not completely forget about them. That is probably a horrible way to write that one would never teach in creative writing, but I enjoy it. I enjoy keeping what outline there may be simply in my head and imagination, replaying possibilities over and over in my head until they finally turn out on paper.

A big tragedy for me is coming up with an excellent title. Often I have a title first and then think of the story later. Once I wrote what was going to be sprawling epic fantasy and hadn’t ironed out the title first. Because I couldn’t come up with a good enough title, I just wasn’t truly into finishing the story after awhile, no matter how awesome it–maybe–was. Likewise, my heart almost breaks when I can’t think of a story to go along with a great title.

Some writers can write all day, or at least every day from nine to five. Not me. I find I write best in sprints of 500-1,000 words and after that mark is hit it’s as if my writing spirit is exhausted. Continual practice helps, but I practice writing in odd times, often if I’m almost too busy, and then often when I finally have a good break to think and meditate. A truly jam-packed schedule is a definite deterrent, but so is too many empty hours of free time. It’s horrible how stories call to me at the most inopportune times and yet I love it. I love how the characters and scenes crowd into my head and I really start to envision them as if, yes, this is something I could actually write down.

Right now I am working on Trolls for Dust, Season Three and also an intriguing short story, the plot of which is a bit tricky, but interesting. With NaNoWriMo coming soon, it’s a good time to push myself with writing and really see if I can produce more. Cold weather is helpful for being productive. It also makes me want to hibernate, but that’s entirely due to the amazing invention of indoor heating, of hot drinks that go so well with sugar, and binge-worthy stories that my fellow wonderful writers continually create. The coziness equals couch hibernation.

Speaking of binge-worthy stories: I am enjoying Elantris by Brandon Sanderson, and also the kdramas Yumi’s Cells and Kairos. And, who is looking forward to Dune coming out soon? Me, me, me!

Kdrama partial Review: Yumi’s Cells

What is really going on in people’s heads, especially men and women, and especially when it comes to romance? Kdrama Yumi’s Cells takes this literally, showing in animation the feelings and thoughts the main characters are experiencing. It is quite entertaining, to say the least, but the drama is only six episodes in, so I’m a little worried the writers won’t be able to sustain the awesome momentum they have going on.

Fortunately, Yumi’s Cells is based on a webtoon, so has a solid source to play off of and use. Starring drama It Girl, Kim Go-Eun (Goblin, Eternal Monarch) and handsome Ahn Bo-Hyun (Kairos), the story follows a slightly boring and depressed Kim Yu-Mi as she searches for love once again. Despite her depression and fear, Yumi is really not afraid to keep trying, and that hope is ultimately great to see. Kim nails her acting as usual. Ahn’s acting is a bit expressionless at times, but he plays his character well, a smart dude who needs a push from a friend to jump into dating. After that he’s all for it, and although I think I’ve grown past the Shaggy, Scooby-Doo look since college, his long hair has grown on me over the episodes. The chemistry between the two is great and both know how to kiss onscreen, always a plus.

The X factor with this show are the cells, computer animations of what Yumi and other characters are thinking and feeling. At first they just seemed like annoying decoration, but over the story I’ve come to really like them and they are super funny. Important note: These are not cartoons for kids. The show isn’t super smutty or anything–at least not presently–but it is clearly a drama and animation for adults, not children. One will either love or hate the cells, and if you find yourself hating them, this show will not be for you. It’s certainly not a new concept, but probably something that hasn’t been done in an entire TV show before.

The humor in the show is pretty spot on as it deals largely with romance and the different approaches men and women have, as well as the misunderstandings. These are things most of us can relate to, especially the embarrassing parts, and makes for an addictive watch. So far the minor characters aren’t really standouts to me, any passible actor could play them, but I like the soundtrack, the writing, and the flip-flopping between the drama and the animation. The fact that Yumi and her love are kinda boring on the outside actually works great with the fireworks going on in their insides. Wonderful contrast, and, again, relatable for a lot of people, especially us emotion-filled women. Looking forward to seeing where it’s going and hoping the show can keep up the good momentum. Only on