Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Lord's Prayer (recited by children)

My latest YouTube video, done with the help of the lovely Ruth and some adorable children.

This was really fun to film and edit. A lot of the filming was just grabbing children after church, making them sit or stand, explaining in two to three sentences what we were doing and then telling them which line to say. Ruth was my evil assistant, crossing off which lines had already been said, and which needed to be redone just in case the first didn't turn out. The editing was pretty quick, and the music is from YouTube's free library. I'm very happy with how it turned out. I admit I may have teared up a little the first time it all came together. It's a precious thing to hear children recite great creeds of the Christian faith.

"Out of the mouth of babies and infants, You have established strength because of Your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger." Psalm 8:2

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Reasons the Trailer Thinks You Want To See The Hobbit 2

  • Middle Earth
  • More Middle Earth
  • Hey, guys, look, it's Middle Earth!
  • Richard Armitage, did anyone really forget about Richard Armitage?
  • The barrel scene, everyone.
  • Like, a really intense barrel scene
  • This is not the barrel scene from your childhood
  • Oh yeah, and by the way LEGOLAS
  • Bet you didn't see that coming
  • AND not only is Legolas in this movie but he also has an ELF GIRLFRIEND
  • *who was not in the book*
  • An elf girlfriend who can fight.... really good.... hmmmm, where did I see that before?
  • Sauron is totally not the Necromancer, nope, not even a little bit
  • Gandalf with a sword
  • Freaky close-up of Lee Pace's elaborate and grey-tinged eyebrows
  • *sweeping dramatic eyebrow shot*'
  • Did we mention Lee Pace was in this movie and he has eyebrows?
  • That pale orc you either didn't care about or hated because he wasn't in the book
  • Giant spiders
  • Aramis from Three Musketeers is Bard for anyone who actually watched Three Musketeers  (or remembers Bard in the first place)
  • Wizard fighting
  • Legolas shooting things at really, really close range
  • Fighting in the barrels during the barrel scene. Bet you don't remember that part! *Fanboys shriek and scream and dissolve in incoherent puddles of rage*
  • And let's not forget about the amazing, spectacular, stunning CGI dragon....
  • PSYCH! It's actually just Benedict Cumberbatch wearing heavy makeup
  • IN 3D 
  • Also 2D for the peasants
  • BUT MOSTLY 3D!!!!
"Hey, wasn't, like, that Bilbo guy supposed to be the star of this movie or something?"

Monday, September 2, 2013

“Mr. Dursley was the director of a firm called Grunnings, which made drills."

Harry Potter and the Series Review Part 1: Chapters 1-2

So I have not been keeping up with this review like I said I would because:

A) I got a summer job at a bookstore - in which I work ten-hour days with a 90-minute round trip commute, which doesn't leave me very much time for reading although

B) when I have had time for reading I've been opting instead to read other books,  like the works of certain British comedic fantasy and sci-fi writers, or whichever book I've seen or bought at work that day.

So I've put this review off in the hope of reading more Harry Potter before I write it, but I figure it's been long enough that I might as well just jump in.

To start with, here is my demons/occult count so far.

Demons summoned: 0
Occult mentioned/alluded to/glorified: 0 times
Blatant portrayal of Satanic worship: I got nothing.

So we're good on that front so far, but I am only two chapters into the book.

One thing I've noticed so far while reading it is how funny it is. Mr. Dursley is the director of a firm called Grunnings, which makes drills. The name, the occupation.... It's simple and mundane, but also edge-of-the-mind-twisting funny.

I also had to giggle at Mr. Dursley thinking cloaks were the latest fashion.

Some of the dialogue is as awkward as I remember it, but then some of it is good, so it feels like a toss-up on that end.

The set-up is classic, and reminiscent of the King Arthur myth. A child, born in a world too dangerous for him, his past and future steeped in destiny, his parents dead, sent by a Merlin-esque figure to live with adoptive parents and an adoptive brother who dislikes him/takes advantage of him. There are a lot more references to Arthur mythology in the continued stories but this is the first.

That's all for now. Two chapters down, the rest of the series to go. Next up we have Dudley's birthday and a strange encounter at the zoo, so we'll see how that goes. Already looking forward to it....

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

How to Remember Commonly Misspelled Words #2: Lose

The English language can be hard sometimes. It's a mishmash of a bunch of other languages with seemingly random grammar and spelling rules. Sometimes remembering the correct spelling of a word comes down to rote memorization. Lose and loose are two words that I see misspelled a lot. Here are some memory aids I sometimes use to remember the correct spelling.

Lose vs. Loose

Lose is a very lonely word to begin with.

To lose someone is to become more alone. To lose something is to be stripped of it, to be less without it. Lose is a word that stands all by itself, that echoes loneliness.

So when you're spelling lose, remember to never give it another O. Loose is a word that has a companion. Loose has two O's, has a friend in the middle. But lose is a word that has lost something. It's lesser without that second O. It's alone. To lose is to be alone.

Loose, on the other hand, is like a pocketful of loose change. The two round O's in the middle are two pennies, rattling around and banging into each other. Loose is a word that's relaxed and easy-going; where lose has that intense "z" sound, loose slides off the tongue with the "s" sound. Loose. Two pennies in a pocketful of change.

So remember this:
He knew that if he were to ever lose her, he would be lonely, the loneliest man in creation. Even the loose change in his pocket had friends, had other pennies and dimes it would meet and collide with. But if he lost her, he would be truly alone.
English is a pretty cool language.

If these word-pictures help you, that's great, but not all memory aids work for all people. Do you have a certain association in your mind that helps you remember certain spellings? What are some other commonly misspelled words that you'd like me to feature?

Monday, July 1, 2013

How to Remember Commonly Misspelled Words: Lightning

You know, the English language can be hard sometimes. It's a mishmash of a bunch of other languages with seemingly random grammar and spelling rules. Sometimes remembering the correct spelling of a word comes down to rote memorization.

Which is where this post comes in. The way I usually remember spelling rules is by associating the spelling of words with their meaning. Sometimes this comes unwilling due to some synesthetic tendencies that I have, such as letters having feelings or different spellings of words having different colors, which makes it easier to remember. But some of the spellings have to do with conscious memory aids, and I'd like to share some of them with you to see if they help.

Lightning vs. Lightening

I see this mixed up all the time. Let's see if we can shed a little light on the situation.

When talking about lightning, "a brilliant electric spark discharge in the atmosphere," remember, the word is short and snappy like the event itself: light-ning. No room for that "e" in here. Just two syllables. 

Imagine a streak of lightning. Feel the brilliant electricity crackling in the warm air. Then all of a sudden it flashes into light - and then it's gone. Light-ning.

However, when talking about lightening a load, that extra "e" is what stretches that word into three syllables: light-en-ing - as if you're lifting that pack off your back, swinging it down, and dropping it on the ground. Feel the weight of the load on your shoulder, feel the muscles stretching as you lift it off, feel the tug of the gravity pulling it down, feel the relief on your shoulders, the lightening. Light-en-ing.

So remember this: if you're talking about a streak of lightning say it short and snappy in your mind: light-ning. Otherwise spell it light-en-ing, three syllables, like the action.

Isn't English awesome?

If these word-pictures help you, that's great, but not all memory aids work for all people. Do you have a certain association in your mind that helps you remember certain spellings? What are some other commonly misspelled words that you'd like me to feature?

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Friday, June 21, 2013

Harry Potter and the Series Review

Harry Potter is one of those books that was a major part of my childhood. I read some of the earlier ones (1-5) multiple times when I was younger, but haven't re-read them since the seventh came out.

Of course, the books stirred up quite a bit of controversy in Christian circles at the time, and in fact still do. I've featured a guest post here before on why Christians can read Harry Potter, and I agree with all of those points, but those just touched on a few of the problems people have (or think they have) with the book. And my memory of the books is getting fainter and fainter, such that I find it hard to use specific examples to defend the books. All of which leads me to wonder if they are as good as I remember.

Another criticism I've heard is of J.K. Rowling's writing style. I remember loving it. My ten-year old self was very inspired by her writing. My fiction writing teacher, on the other hand, is apparently against her writing style, especially her use of psychological adverbs. Of course, he was against many things that famous writers did. (In case you're reading this, Mr. Jones *waving* hi! You were a fantastic teacher.) But a common criticism is that her book was popular in spite of her writing, and I just don't remember it well enough to lean either way. As I said before, I'm not necessarily reading to defend or apologize, but to judge for my (slightly more aware) self.

Instead of a book-by-book review, I'll just be reading the books and posting weeklyish about whatever section I'm on or have just finished, as well as other thoughts relating to the series. Possibly I'll also feature common objections to the Harry Potter series and work through them using the books and (if it's a Christian-based objection) the Bible. In fact, if you have a common objection to the series that you'd like me to address on my way through the series, go ahead and post it in the comments. If you have a strong opinion on the series and can condense it into 1,000 words, well, you know where to submit that idea....

So, to recap: this will be a summer series on Harry Potter that I'll be posting weeklyish. Since apparently Google Reader or Google Friend Connect (or something) is leaving July 1st, if you want to keep up with me in a way that is free from the whims of Blogger, I now have three options for you.

Take your pick. (Or, hey! Why settle? Follow all of them.)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Silence the Enemy and the Avenger

So. Graduation.

Here we all are, on the brink, as it were, the unseasoned troops itching for battle. We’re all ready to rush the front lines, swords drawn, armor clanking, banners blowing in the breeze, accompanied by the sound of a distant battlehorn, Lord of the Rings theme playing in the background. But what we meet on the other side looks a lot less like orcs, and a lot more like a bunch of hardened soldiers standing behind their thirty-ton tanks, dressed in camo and holding M16’s. And one of them has a flamethrower.

You see, in this world and in this time we hear and complain a lot about the gospel being silenced. The gospel is silenced in schools. The gospel is silenced in our media, in our government, in every public place. The gospel is pushed back into our churches, back inside the privacy of our homes. The gospel is suppressed, smothered, and shut up.

We’re told that we need to change our faith; that our beliefs are outdated and old-fashioned; that we should hope that the next generation of Christians (and that’s me; that’s all of us here up on this stage) will grow up without the biases and prejudices of the past. It’s time to trade in the sword of Biblical inerrancy for the much more effective M16 of love and tolerance.

You hear that silence, that ringing empty silence, in your workplace, in the news, in the movies? Do you miss all the words that should be there? Do you strain your ears for the words of the gospel? Do you know why the good news is silent?

It’s silent because you are silent. It’s silent because I am silent.

But praise be to God. We all up on this stage here, we were all brought up with a Christian or mostly Christian education, where the gospel was spoken and breathed and sung and told to us over and over again. The good news, that Jesus conquered the world, that Jesus rules the world, and that we are His children, we are the saved and the sanctified and the justified and the empowered, to speak words of healing in this broken world.

Because sin, it broke everything. Sure, things look solid, look whole, but that’s because our eyes are broken. But the author of our story came down into the story and was broken like us, was broken for us. The world is not silent when the Word Himself is here, when He says “let there be light,” and there is light. How can the world be silent when the Word Himself reigns on high?

We each have our place to go, our own silence to fill, to conquer. I hear and have always heard it loudest in storytelling, in media and entertainment, in books and films, and that’s where I feel called to go. To speak the words of truth in one of the most gospel-starved places of our culture, the entertainment industry. Storytelling is power, because words are powerful, and the lies that are written in our culture’s stories are powerful. But God has spread the light to all corners of the earth, and Jesus has conquered every culture, every medium, every industry, so now we just go to claim the victory, to spread the good news. Jesus has won!

The gospel is only silenced when we are silent. And we have the power of Christ in us. The gospel cannot and will not be silenced, because

Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have ordained strength,
Because of Your enemies,
That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.

Hunger, war, disease, and  poverty; liars and hypocrites; pride, arguments, sin; all the enemies of God, they are the ones who will be silenced. Sure, they think they’re part of the big army, they think they have the tanks and the bazookas and the grenades and the flamethrowers on their side, but what they don’t know is that they’re not an army. They’re not even a protest movement. They’re just a different head of the same old ugly, lying serpent.

And when they see us coming at them, rushing the front lines, sword swinging -

Man, they’re really going to lose their heads.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Miss Jack Lewis Baillot: Self-Publishing


That is the best way to start a guest post, right? Or maybe,

Hello, my name is Jack. I'm an author who is training to be a mad scientist and I would like to thank Lauren for letting me guest post on her wonderful blog.

Thank you, Lauren!

Lauren has asked me to do a post on self-publishing, Which I feel very honored to do.

When I first set out to publish I determined never to self-publish (this is why I now shout, “I WILL NEVER USE WALLACE'S SWORD IN A FIGHT!”) Things changed over the years I wrote and after a lot of research I began to realize self-publishing was the way I wished to go. But there is a lot about self-publishing people don't really understand yet – and a lot of it I got a crash course lesson in the closer I came to publishing.

Self-publishing is no longer just for the authors whose books aren't good enough for a publisher or for those who are just writing a family history. A lot of people are going with self, and are doing well at it. (Not that there is anything wrong with finding an agent and a publisher. That is what an author should first decide – because now you have the freedom too. Which publishing option would best suit you?)

Whichever you choose you must keep in mind that marketing is mostly in your hands now. Before you even finish your book you should have people interested in it. One of the best ways to do this is to set up a blog or website. Writing blog posts gives people a chance to get to know you and your work. But you must keep up on this. And you must read other blogs and comment. (Lots of work, but worth it.)

Keep things on your site professional, while still being yourself. I've been told this is a tricky feat, but so long as you look at writing as a serious - albeit it very fun - endeavor you should be able to succeed. Meet other authors as well. Twitter is a good place for this. And don't just follow and talk to other authors just starting out, meet those who are well known. I follow a few on twitter and have gotten a lot of help from them.

Keep up on the internet world. What is going on there? Is Facebook still popular enough that a page there would help you, or just get in your way? What big writers have blogs? (And be sure to find blogs which are kept by your target audience.)

Some things I also found one needs while self-publishing is an editor - find one. Hunt high and low and in the jungle but find one. And someone to help with the cover. Or, if you plan to do the cover on your own, set aside at least a month for it. (Trust me, even a month might not be enough time.) Also, for the cover, look up books in your genre. See what is popular and study their covers. If you are a reader you know, books are judged on covers and yours will need to look professional.

And remember, self-publishing is hard work. But if you stick at it it is worth it. Still, you might want to hire a support group and some cheerleaders to lift your spirits on bad days. And have chocolate always on hand.

I am still slightly new in the publishing world, but I would be glad to give hints, advice, or warn you about the next step if you need. (Also, I've a chocolate supply - I had a cookie supply but my pet hedgehog ate them all.) Feel free to contact me about any questions you might have. My email can be found on my blog, which is probably very handy. I also have a list of authors you can follow and contact - ones who helped me - and can give you a point in the right direction.

Thanks a lot for this guest post, Jack! I appreciate how encouraging you are to other writers, especially those considering self-publishing.

Miss Jack's self-published book, Haphazardly Implausible, is currently available as a paperback on Lulu or on Amazon for Kindle. The best way to help an author is to buy their work, you know!

Okay, everyone. What do you think about Jack's tips on self-publishing? Which path will you (or did you) choose for your book? There's a lot of discussion about this topic in the blogosphere. What's your take on it all?

Would you like to write a guest post for this blog? Click here.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Spam. Oh Joy!

It's Monday. It's the first full normal week of the New Year. I am still recovering from emotional trauma induced by Les Miserables. I thought I'd so something light-hearted and share some of the nicest spam I've gotten in the past or recently. This was partly inspired by MOV's recent post in which she did a similar thing.

I've enabled comment moderation for posts 7 days ago or longer, and Blogger's pretty good at picking up spam that way, although two spammers have already targeted my Les Mis post, probably because of the keywords. So mostly I can just look at this spam and laugh.

The funny thing about a few of these spam comments is that some of them I would keep if it weren't for their invitations to please check out my homepage.
This is the second time I've been to your site. Thnx for posting more details.
sweet blogging! keep up this awesome stuff
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simply excellent and that i can suppose you're an expert on this subject. Well along with your permission let me to clutch your feed to stay up to date with forthcoming post. Thank you 1,000,000 and please continue the enjoyable work.
What's up, yeah this paragraph is really fastidious and I have learned lot of things from it on the topic of blogging. thanks.

Hi there, just wanted to say, I liked this post. It was inspiring. Keep on posting!

I every time spent my half an hour to read this website's content every day along with a cup of coffee.

I got this web site from my buddy who shared with me about this website and at the moment this time I am browsing this website and reading very informative posts at this time.
I think my favorite has to be "reading very informative posts at this time." Or being told that my blogging is "sweet." Also, it's nice to know that one of the spammers reads my content for a half hour along with a cup of coffee. I don't post a half-hour's worth of content every day, though, so he must be an incredibly slow reader.

Friday, January 4, 2013

When Tomorrow Comes

I was a skeptic.

It was partly because it was recommended to me by everyone. It was partly because of the wild-eyed fanaticism that people had for the story (no offense to wild-eyed fanatics). It was partly because of the two songs I'd heard from the musical. It was partly because the story was about the French, and a Revolution, and I already had a favorite story about the French and a Revolution which did not have the world miserable in the title (The Scarlet Pimpernel). It was partly because I had little to no idea what the story was about. It was mostly because I was a snob.

When I heard the movie was coming out I knew I would finally have to see it, but mostly in a duty-bound way. I suppose I should give it a chance. I briefly thought about reading the book first, but dismissed that idea. My feelings toward it were kind of like my feelings toward Phantom of the Opera, another musical based on a book, in that I would give it a chance, watch the movie, listen to the music, read the book, and then be justified for disliking it.

The movie came out and the first reports came in on Facebook.
Just had my soul and emotions ripped out, manhandled and remade in 3 hours. 
I still cannot speak or function... 
I'm not sure I will be able to talk about it honestly and intelligently for awhile. Not to be missed by any serious Christian!
This did nothing to persuade me to see the movie. In fact, it made me want to avoid it more than ever. All this over a musical about French people (no offense to the French)? Really? Why would I go have my soul and emotions ripped out? Who needs that?

But then I realized. Maybe I needed that.

I believe that most of the time the things that I avoid doing are the things I need to do the most. My soul's first defense against change is curling up into a little ball and hiding from the light it desperately needs. As painful as it sounded.... maybe I should go into it with an open mind.

After all, it was just a story, right? Whose to say that it would really effect me at all? Might as well give it an honest chance. So I sat down in my theater seat, sighed, and the story began.

The rest, shall we say, is history.

Soon I'll be able to review Les Miserables. Soon I'll be able to think clearly about all the beautiful symbolism that I found in that story. About what it really means. But not today.

First I need to finish reading the book (which I picked up the night after seeing the movie). And I need to see the movie at least twice more. Having been a skeptic, I feel like I'm a little late to all this. I want to know what it means, know what's been said before about it, not so that I won't say it, but so that I'll know more about what it means.

via Fandango
Let's just say, I am no longer a skeptic. I will be reviewing Les Miserables someday soon.
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