Tuesday, October 9, 2018

1931 Dracula

Dracula (c)1931
The 1931 movie version of Dracula, with the title character acted by Bela Lugosi, produced by Universal, and directed by Tod Browning is a classic movie that will probably be famous for ages to come as a wonderfully made and acted story in its genre. The story changes a little, with Renfield going to Transylvania instead of Jonathan Harker, likely done to explain Renfield's insanity later. As might be expected, Renfield's excursion to Dracula's castle doesn't go as well for him as Harker's does in the book. After this, we get an exciting story with characters recognized from the book but changed a little to adapt to the screen. We're missing Arthur and Quincey, but we still get John Seward, no longer a twenty-something young doctor, but a middle-aged man, and the apparently widowed father of Mina. He's still in charge of the same asylum as in the book, and Renfield is a patient there. Jonathan Harker is still there, as is Lucy, whose fate is the same as in the book. The heroic Van Helsing played by Edward Van Sloan  is also one of the main protagonists in the fight to save Mina from Dracula.

I enjoy the movie every time I watch it, and I recommend it for anyone who enjoys slightly scary classical movies with little blood, and no foul language.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis

The Magician's Nephew (c) 1955
I reviewed The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis back in January, but wanted to review it again, because it is such an uplifting book that, while a fantasy, teaches important truths. Diggory and Polly are tricked by Diggory's Uncle Andrew into setting off on an adventure between worlds, and as they travel, they come into contact with Jadis, an evil, power hungry queen from a dying planet who grabs them, and forces them against their wills to take her along with them. After wreaking havoc in London for a few hours, Jadis is transported by Diggory and Polly who are trying to protect their home, into a new world called Narnia. Along with them, come a horse named Strawberry, Strawberry's owner, a cabby named Frank, and Diggory's Uncle Andrew.

They come at the very birth of Narnia, which is being created by Aslan, the Lion, the Son of the Emperor Beyond the Sea. Aslan, clearly a analogy of Jesus Christ, sends Polly and Diggory on a mission to get an apple that will become a tree that will protect Narnia from Jadis' evil, the evil queen who ran off into the wilderness when she realized she could not hurt Aslan.

Meanwhile, while Frank, Polly, Diggory, and eventually Strawberry (who becomes a talking and flying horse) can understand Aslan's speech and the speech of the talking animals he creates, Uncle Andrew cannot. It isn't chance that makes him unable to understand. As the narration explains, from the moment their group found themselves in Narnia and started to hear Aslan's song calling the world to life, Uncle Andrew (who had already made selfish, unrighteous choices already) denied to himself that it was a song, and continued denying it after the light started to increase, and he saw Aslan and the other talking animals. He denied so much that Aslan's words were a song, that Uncle Andrew reached a point where he could not hear the song, and only heard, in his own mind, roars and growls, and from the talking animals, only various animal sounds. C. S. Lewis was a brilliant teacher who taught great truths with his stories, and this particular part of the story teaches me that in order to be able to hear, to sense truth, I need to tune myself to learn it.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula, (c) 1897
Dracula, written by Bram Stoker and published in 1897 is a frightening story about a vampire named Dracula, who was based on a real life man named Vlad Dracula. He was also known as Vlad the Impaler, because of his most often used form of execution.

Dracula begins with one of the main protagonists, Jonathan Harker going to Dracula's castle, thinking that the man he's going to see is simply a Transylvanian noble who is looking to buy property in England. He quickly learns that he is in great danger, and though the situation is terrifying, he is able to keep his wits about himself, and finds a way to escape Dracula's three wives who were planning on devouring him, as Dracula and multiple coffins are carted away to begin his journey to England.

Meanwhile, his fiance, Mina's friend, Lucy Westenra is murdered by Dracula, and Jonathan, Mina, Lucy's fiance Arthur, two friends, John Seward and Quincey Morris, and the wise and brave Dr. Abraham Van Helsing set out to stop Dracula from doing the same to others.

One line from Dracula that I really like, is something Van Helsing says in the text: "Devils, or no devils, or all the devils at once, it matters not. We fight him all the same."

What I get out of the book Dracula, is that it is possible to face difficult, even terrifying situations, and cruel people who are certain they will succeed while their victims fail, and still overcome the designs and plans of these cruel people.

Throughout the book, the characters, especially Van Helsing, repeatedly petition God, and reference Diety as a source of hope and help, and I like that. I don't necessarily agree with the idea that someone can be made evil and unworthy by the actions of someone else as the book implies, but I like the idea that with courage, and with the blessings of a benevolent higher power, cruelty can be stopped. Maybe not right away, maybe not as quickly as we hope, but it can still happen.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers- Vernal Theater

The Vernal Theater, which shows fantastic plays using a local cast, recently finished showing Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I went with two of my children on the 20th, and enjoyed a great performance. 

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers follows the troubles and triumphs of Adam and his six brothers in their quest for romance. At the beginning of the story Adam meets and marries Milly, a spunky, brave woman who isn't afraid of adventure. But his brothers don't have it so easy. The way they set about meeting and courting girls they're interested in sets a wedge between Milly and Adam, as well as between their whole family and the rest of the town! Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is a fun play that I recommend to anyone who enjoys fun musicals.

The Vernal Theater regularly shows some fantastic plays. 
The next one coming up is Wait Until Dark, and will be played during Halloween time. It sounds like a pretty scary play! I don't care much for scary plays or movies, but if you do, I'm sure you'll enjoy it if it's as well done as Seven Brides for Seven Brothers!! 

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Candy Shop War: Arcade Catastrophy by Brandon Mull

The Candy Shop War: Arcade Catastrophe
(c) 2012 by Brandon Mull
Candy Shop War: Arcade Catastrophe by Brandon Mull continues the story of Nate, Summer, Trevor, Pigeon, and their new friend Lindy, as they investigate a new Arcade in town, Arcade Land, which seems to be linked to the disappearance of Mozag and John Dar, who have been policing the magical community for misbehaving magicians. When they discover that the own of Arcade Land is Jonas White, the brother of their last nemesis, Belinda White, they realize that things are even more dangerous than they first appeared. With Jonas White wanting to recruit kids to help him collect magical items for some sinister scheme, will the kids be able to work together to defeat him? Read the book, and find out!
Kids and adults who enjoy magical adventures will enjoy reading this book!

Friday, September 21, 2018

My Son is Home From His Mission!

A few days ago, my son, who went to the Philippines two years ago to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, has recently returned, and I am super excited to have him home! He served in the Philippines Manila mission, and from all that I've heard so far, had a great experience, did a lot of good, and made some great memories!

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

I found this poem, The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, and liked it very much. It reminds me that what we appear to be on the outside doesn't matter nearly as much as who we really are inside, and what we believe in and live for.

It doesn't interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me
how old you are.
I want to know 
if you will risk 
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesnt interest me
what planets are 
squaring your moon...
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life's betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you 
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn't interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

It doesn't interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know 
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone 
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

Source: https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/the-invitation-by-oriah-mountain-dreamer