Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tidbits: December Edition

Picture / Photo Find

Something I Did / Video I Watched Too Many Times

More like something I will do for the holidays. I love winter and am, like the next person, a big fan of cooing over plastic snowmen and candy cane floor mats. However, you won't find me sitting in front of the television, watching hours of Christmas movies. I'm just not that into them. I find them to be very corny and more predictable than most made-for-TV movies. Of course, there's always the classics - like Rudolph and Jack Frost, the lovely claymation creations that can make anyone smile. But I watch them in the summer months, or on a whim, and rarely during the time I should - this chilly month. 

However, there is one movie that I always watch, every year, ever since I was reunited with it during college. Haha, sounds epic, right. It's an animated film called The Nutcracker Prince (1990), a movie I saw when I was a child and fell in love with right away. Our VHS was lost to time and moving, just like some of my other favorite childhood things (most of which I've recovered thanks to Amazon, haha!). So now I own the DVD and thoroughly enjoy sitting down with my chin on my knees, big eyes shining. The animation style is gorgeous and fluid and the dreamlike quality to the setting just gets me every time.

Here's the description on the back of the DVD:

"The magic begins with a Christmas party at the house of aspiring ballerina Clara. Her godfather Drosselmeier brings one special gift: a nutcracker that is really his nephew, Hans, transformed into a doll by a curse of the evil Mousequeen. The nutcracker becomes a prince, who rules over the land of dolls, but will return to human form when the spell if broken. Join young Clara, whose new wooden nutcracker draws her into a glorious realm of adventure and enchantment."

Kiefer Sutherland (A very young one) plays the voice of the Nutcracker Prince - I would follow him anywhere, I think, if I ever heard his voice leak from a nutcracker's mouth, haha. The story is very mature for a cartoon; it takes the original, simple nutcracker story and takes it to the next level, bringing in an entire backstory and wondrous ending (makes me tear up and sigh). Clara, when dancing with the wooden nutcracker, even sings lyrics to the melody of Tchaikovsky's Waltz of the Flowers. That, my friends, is epic.

Now, the awesome part about all this is that someone uploaded the entire movie on Youtube. So please, if you want to enjoy an intricate, romantic, and whimsical rendition of the nutcracker story, then click away!

Quote from a Book I Love

Although I always have a huge pile of books to read, I wanted to spend a good portion of my break reading charming and adventurous stories led by very young, spunky protagonists. The more dated the story, the better. My model for finding such books is a favorite, The Little White Horse, so I tried to keep a look out for other novels that seemed to give off the same vibe. And so I came across The Aviary by Kathleen O'Dell. 

The description on the front flap does a great job at setting the scene:

"Twelve-year-old Clara Dooley has spent her whole life in the Glendoveer mansion, where her mother is a servant to the kind and elderly matron of the house. Clara has never known another home. In fact, she's confined to the grand estate due to a mysterious heart condition. But it's a comfortable life, and if it weren't for the creepy squawking birds in the aviary out back, a completely peaceful one too. 

But once old Mrs. Glendoveer passes away, Clara comes to learn many dark secrets about the family. The Glendoveers suffered a horrific tragedy: their children were kidnapped, then drowned. And their father George Glendoveer, a famous magician and illusionist, stood accused until his death. As Clara digs deeper and deeper into the terrifying events, the five birds in the aviary seem to be trying to tell her something. And Clara comes to wonder: what is their true identity? Clara sets out to solve a decades-old mystery - and in doing so, unlocks a secret in her own life, too."

I literally read through this book in day, staying up way too late to race to the ending. My eyes hurt so bad by the time I closed the book and drifted off to sleep. I didn't bother to check the time. I like how whimsical  and dusty this world is; there are secrets everywhere, and all of them kept me biting my nails. I won't give too much away, but I will say that there are ghosts. Plenty of them. And - I'd love to discuss this you've read it - I loved the ghosts so much that I wished the ending... ended a bit different. I kind of developed a crush on one of them and it was a shame to have to say goodbye and shut the book. Still, this really is a wonderful read. I'm so glad to have found it.

Here's a quote from the book:

"In spite of herself, Clara let out a scream, and then clamped her mouth shut. There, knocking on the pane with his sturdy black beak, was the white cockatoo, his sulfur-tinted head feathers raised high. 
Mustering her nerve, Clara unlatched the window and pulled it up, praying she would not frighten the bird away. But the cockatoo stood patiently until the sash was lifted, looked at Clara with his golden eyes, and pleaded in such a rich, melancholy voice that she was bound to him with all her sympathies: 
'Please? Please? Oh, please?"

A Writer Thing

Winter break usually is a strange time for writing. The semester ends with me staggering into my bed-nest of perfumed pillows, plushies, and thick quilts (I keep the ceiling fan on to pretend to simulate a cold winter night). My brain is constantly twitchy, poised for rest but not quite getting it. I called one of my friends the other day, making belated plans to spend the holidays together, and I could barely form sentences when I left a message on her machine. I listened to myself bumble and wondered if I'd ever recover fast enough to enjoy the short vacation until the next semester begins. I'm still seeing read from a lot of grading, haha.

So that leads me to writing. I'm itching to put my fingers to the keyboard and just write, write, write until I'm left hazy and smiling with a pile of words. But a ghostly headache has been following me to the laptop and after a few paragraphs, I have to give up and try to turn up the volume on my inspiration. It's different from writer's block, I think. I know how to handle that. This is probably sheer exhaustion. But I wonder exactly what I need to do to get some real rest. I've been relaxing, drinking lots of tea, wearing sweaters, gawking at the food competitions on the Food Network, and eating too much peppermint bark. 

I've even taken the air with a few wandering shopping trips. So, hmmm, any remedies to suggest? I'm sure this is only a temporary thing - I have to remember that school ended only a few short days ago, that break has only just begun. Time is strange around this time of year. Very heavy and slow. I like my winter breaks long, as long as you can stretch ribbon candy on rack. And I'm sure my writing rhythm will start up again. I just need to figure it out... or take a nap, haha.

Song I Can't Stop Repeating

"Lost and Found" by Katie Herzig

I found a great singer named Katie Herzig and I've been wondering what particular song to showcase. I've been listening to her album, The Waking Sleep, way too much in these past few weeks, but I can't say I regret it. Her music has such spirit and rhythm to it. Makes me want to write (always a good thing). One of her more well-known songs is called "Lost and Found" - and after hearing it the first time, I got major chills. It's the perfect song to listen to while writing one of my writing projects (top secret! haha). The lyrics and melody are stunning:

I know you left me standing there

Out of the calm of the coldest air

I don't believe the words you said
But I can't find the words I want
Oh, I can't find the words I want

If you were gone in another life
I don't believe I would just survive
I could feel you next to me
An escape from the world I'm in
Oh, I'm afraid of the world I'm in


Somebody found me here

Somebody held my breath

Somebody saved me from the world you left
If you're gonna cry my tears
If you're gonna hold my breath
If you're gonna let me see the sun you set
Oh, I am lost and found
Oh, I am lost and found