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Today is very sad day for me. A very, very dear friend lost her battle with cancer on Monday. Her funeral is today. Nana, and everyone called her that, always brought a smile to face. Just seeing her would light up my day. She had this infectious joy about her; you couldn’t help smiling and laughing once you saw her.

The funeral is in a few hours. I miss her terribly already. I know she’s not in pain anymore, but still the thought of never seeing her again is one filled with regret and self-pity.

I just recently finished watching an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where the crew holds a memorial service for a fallen comrade. The reason this episode sticks in mind is because Data asks if missed the purpose of the gathering. His thoughts weren’t on the comrade but on himself and how much he would miss his friend. Captain Picard tells him he didn’t miss the point and he’s right. Funerals aren’t for the dead; they are a chance for the living to say their goodbyes.

So…goodbye, Nana. You will be sorely missed. I only hope I can learn from your example and be filled with as much joy, happiness, love and energy when I’m in my eighties.

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Merlin

I just finished reading T.A. Barron’s The Lost Years of Merlin for the first time. I’ve heard about this particular book many times over the years and had many people recommend it to me, but never picked it up until this morning. It is an utterly magnificent book and I regret it took me so long to read it.

All my life I have been drawn to tales of King Arthur, his knights, Camelot and Merlin. Especially Merlin. Barron’s tale brought Emrys to life and as I read I could see the man he would become. The actions a young boy on a quest to find his past took shaping his future.

A longing in my heart I can’t explain arose while I read of Fincarya. Ancient memories? The wistful dreams of a would-be bard and adventurer? Or just the longing of a child to visit a place found only in dreams and tales? I honestly don’t know. I do know a part of me mourned as I read the last page of The Lost Years of Merlin.

What is it about Merlin that calls to people of all ages? Is he a mere myth, a real person? No one really knows, but it doesn’t stop writers from penning tales of him, or children of dreaming of following in his footsteps. For me, he is real. As real as anything in this world.

     Tonight I watched a pretty good fantasy movie: The Golden Compass. Now I have never read the books and had only heard about the movie from friends and reading reviews. That said, I enjoyed the movie. It was a bit slow in places, but I did enjoy it. Adoring the fantasy genre as I do, it was a pleasure to see a well-made fantasy. Granted, these are more common since the debut of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
     Having heard from so many church friends and leaders that you shouldn’t go to see this movie because it talks about killing God and people personal demons, I looked for this in the movie. Not once was killing God mentioned. Nor did people have personal demons, per se…they had daemons, animals that held their souls. While the daemons had independent thought, they were still in symbiotic relationship with their humans. If the humans suffered, the daemons suffered and vice versa. So, I didn’t see anything that would should have kept anyone from seeing this movie because of religious reasons.
     As I said before I haven’t read the books. I did, however, pick up the first book of Philip Pullman’s The Dark Materials trilogy from the library today. Truth be told, I’m looking forward to reading it. But then again, I’m constantly explaining to all my friends that “Magic is magic, no matter if it’s in Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings or Disney’s Cinderella. It’s all magic no matter how the story is couched!”
     Am I going to let my kids watch the movie? YES! Am I going to let my eight-year-old read the book? Yes, if he wants to; it’s his choice. If he has questions, that’s why I’m here. In the end, it comes down to personal beliefs. I don’t see the harm in reading it, even if the religious people say I shouldn’t.

A Strong Female

For me, last night was a rare occasion. I was able to sit down and watch a movie without my children jumping up every five minutes wanting water or to go to the bathroom or even have me check their rooms once again for monsters. So I got to watch this absolutely fabulous movie, Elizabeth I, starring Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons. The costumes were fabulous, the story fantastic and the acting superb. After I finished watching, I realized how often authors draw parallels between Queen Elizabeth I and their own heroines.

Obviously, your first thought is: “What is she talking about?” While I realize Helen Mirren’s portrayal of Good Queen Bess is based on an author’s interpretation of her life, Mirren brings so much to her role it is easy to identify many things current fantasy/science fiction authors bring to life in their lead female characters. These women are strong, independent and often seen as cold, emotionless and unapproachable when the truth they’re not as bad as they seem. The circumstances of their lives (as dictated by plot) usually put them in a position of power or authority and quite often they must prove everyday to everyone, including other women, that they are quite capable of making decisions, even the hard ones. Of course, only the reader really sees how much these women have to give up to remain in power/authority. They’re giving up their chance at happiness, constantly deal with threats and their own fears, are criticized for not being a true woman, and in the end must live with their regrets. These are the type of heroines I love. They’re human and relatable, and the fact they usually kick ass is just icing on the proverbial cake!

Of course, I don’t think about things like that when I’m writing, I just write. But as I mentioned earlier, the life of Queen Elizabeth I really started me thinking. And while I know what watched in the movie Elizabeth I was only partly based on historical fact, it doesn’t change the fact Elizabeth lived a difficult life. Always in the public eye, never a moment to herself, always on her guard, never able to truly reveal her fears and doubts to anyone…at any time, she could have said “I’ve had enough! Leave me alone” but she didn’t. In time when women where considered unequal to men in everything, she ruled England and remained whole unto herself. An unforgettable woman!