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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Outlander, Part 2

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I’ve been thinking about Outlander a lot lately. Part of me wants to reread it, but with seven huge books, that’s quite a commitment. And I’ve got so many other books that I want to read that it’s hard to decide what to read first. On the other hand, I think it would be good to reread them all before the next one comes out next year. But then again, I’m honestly not sure if I have enough time to do that without neglecting the other really worthy books that I also want to get to.

I think I already told you that Diana Gabaldon has a podcast, also on iTunes. I should say, had; she hasn’t put out a new one in several years. However, she has become quite active on Facebook, where she often posts excerpts of the next Outlander book, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood. She’s also doing an imaginary casting call for a hypothetical Outlander movie.

She also may have inadvertantly come up with a solution to my reread dilemma – audiobooks. Audible.com is offering all seven unabridged audiobooks for just $7.49 each until May 1! You do need to be an audible.com member, but you do not have to sign up for a monthly plan in order to get this price. (You can sign up to be a member for free without committing to a plan.) It’s going to be a bit pricey to buy all of them at once, but with their regular prices ranging from $35 to $80, and with each clocking between 30 and 60 hours of entertainment, I think it’s a pretty hot deal. I think I probably will end up purchasing the set by Tuesday.

I’m really curious whether any of you have read these. I’d love to talk about the book in real life or on the blog! If you’re interested, leave me a comment!

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Fringe

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So I have a new TV obsession. I bought DVDs (Blu-rays, actually) of the first two seasons almost a year ago. But Lost was still on at the time, I was in school, and I was pretty sure that I would be obsessed with this show and want to watch them one after another. Turns out I was right about that. I’ve watched three seasons since the beginning of the year.

So what is it? Why it’s Fringe, of course! (Link is to season 1; seasons 2 and 3 are also available.) The premise intrigued me, and I watched the first couple of episodes when it first came on. It just didn’t hook me quite as fast as Lost had, though, and I didn’t have time to keep up with it. I gave up on it. Now, I realize that I quit just before it did hook me. It’s probably for the best, though, with all the other stuff I had going on at the time.

Fringe is a secret (obviously!) division of the FBI. Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) gets pulled into the division by Agent Broyles (Lance Reddick) in the first episode when she and her partner (who is also her secret lover) are called upon to investigate a mysterious happening that is tied to “the Pattern.” Olivia recruits Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) in order to get to his father, Walter (John Noble), a former scientist and current mental patient. Also playing significant parts in the show are Olivia’s assistant, Agent Astrid Farnsworth (Jasika Nicole), and Nina Sharp (Blair Brown), director of fictional mega-corp Massive Dynamic. It doesn’t take long for us to realize that many of the players know more about the Pattern than they are admitting. And just wait until you find out about the parallel universe!

This show has pretty much everything I love. Strange happenings. Science fiction elements. Heady themes about the nature of man and science. Complex characters with back-stories. And best of all an overarching mystery that doles out tiny clues all along the way.

Unfortunately for me, the show is still running, so I’m going to run out of new episodes pretty soon. I’m about to finish season 3, which is the last season available on DVD/Blu-ray. Season 4 is currently in progress. Fringe may have the distinction of being the first show to drive me to buying the episodes online rather than waiting for the DVD release. We’ll see. Fans seem to be really into season 4, and I’m just spoiled enough to know that season 3 is going to end on a big cliffhanger.

So if you can’t tell, I highly recommend this show! At least if you are a fan of shows like The X-Files and Lost I do.

Hunger Games, Part 2

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Well, I finally got to see The Hunger Games in the theater! DH and I wanted to go together, and it was hard to find some spare time together without the kidlet. I had bought movie tickets online from BuyWithMe (now apparently defunct), and we couldn’t use them on the opening weekend. I don’t like going on opening weekend anyway, especially for something that’s been so hyped up, since it’s always so crowded. So we finally made it last weekend.

Overall, I was very happy with it. The cast was wonderful. I thought Jennifer Lawrence captured Katniss’s awkwardness and naivete, as well as her resolve and courage. Liam Hemsworth was perfection as Gale; I can totally see him as the future Mockingjay-era Gale already. Elizabeth Banks’s Effie was also dead on, as were Donald Sutherland’s President Snow and Stanley Tucci’s Caesar Flickerman. Woody Harrelson was an excellent Haymitch Abernathy, and I just wish he had gotten more screen time. They seemed to cut out some of the depth of his character in the movie. Same complaint about Cinna, even though Lenny Kravitz played him perfectly. The weak link for me in the cast was Josh Hutcherson as Peeta. Not that he was bad or anything, but I just didn’t feel like he had a very inspired performance.

The other complaint I have about the movie is the clothing. Specifically, Katniss’s clothing. The clothes that she wore at the Capitol were described in such detail that I had a very specific idea what they should look like, and the movie didn’t even come close to living up to it, particularly the dress she wore for her interview with Caesar. I can see her jeweled dress very clearly in my mind’s eye, and the orange number that she wore in the movie is just blah in comparison, flames or no.

Overall, though, my complaints are pretty minor in the scope of the movie. I laughed and cried in all the right places. I cheered for Katniss, but I still felt sympathy for the other tributes, even Cato, for being just as much of a pawn of the Capitol as she was.

I’m very much looking forward to the next book coming to life on the big screen. Catching Fire is my favorite book in the trilogy, and there are quite a few new characters to meet.

So if you’ve read the book, go see the movie. I don’t think that you will be disappointed overall. If you haven’t read the book, still go see the movie. DH hasn’t read any of the books, but he enjoyed the show just as much as I did, and we spent quite a bit of time talking about it later in the day. Either way, I think this is one movie that’s worth seeing on the big screen.

Easter Reading

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For your Easter reading pleasure, I submit to you some beautiful posts from Rachel Held Evans – a four post series on the the women of the passion.

The Woman at Bethany Anoints Jesus
Mary’s Heart is Pierced (Again)
The Women Wait
Mary Magdalene, Apostle to the Apostles

Serious Saturday?

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So if Jon Acuff can have Serious Wednesdays, so can I. Except that it’s Saturday. And it’s the day before Easter, so it’s cheesy. And it scares me to lay stuff like this out there, because what if a more mature super-Christian sees it and is like, oh, yeah, I used to think that but now I understand this other reason why you are totally wrong?

But this is something that’s been on my mind and heart for a while, and I feel a need to share it. I’ve been trying to read the Bible all the way through, and I’m using The Message Remix 2.0. And one thing I’ve been struck by this time is how many times it says even the good kings who followed God also followed in their predecessors’ footsteps by not getting rid of the worship of other gods. Today the author of Kings just came out and said it (of Amaziah):

He lived the way GOD wanted and did the right thing. But he didn’t come up to the standards of his ancestor David; instead he lived pretty much as his father Joash had; the local sex-and-religion shrines continued to stay in business with people frequenting them.
II Kings 14:3-4

We talk all the time about how David was a “man after God’s own heart,” despite the greatness of his sins. I think sometimes I tend to think of him as a kind of super-saint who just messed up the one time, but David actually had more flaws than just the biggies that we remember the best. He could be passive-aggressive. His later rule seems weak, despite his early successes. And his parenting skills left a lot to be desired.

This passage laid out what made David great. He couldn’t stand sin, particularly his own. I think he really understood the greatness of his sin and how it separated him from fellowship with his Creator, even better than many of us do from this side of the Cross. His repentant psalms still cry out with anguish over the things he had done. And it wasn’t just the big sins, either. David repented of taking a census. A census? Hardly cause for worry. Surely nothing like the adultery/murder incident. Not even worth mentioning, really. Maybe if you’re feeling really pious just a quick, “oh, and God, sorry about that census thing” before bed.

Amaziah’s problem (and that of all the other otherwise good kings of Judah) was that he allowed sin to continue where he had the power to stop it. It was a sin of omission, rather than a sin of commission. It’s not like he was worshiping at the shrines. He didn’t have the power to change the people’s hearts, but he did have the power to stop the worst of the blatant acts of abuse and idolatry.

Like Amaziah, I consider myself to be a pretty good person. But so often I find myself, also like Amaziah, refusing to do the thing that I know God is asking me to do. Like I think Amaziah may have been, I am far too worried about what others will think. Better to let people alone than to come across as overbearing or judgmental. Better to stay silent than to say the wrong thing, even if the Holy Spirit is nudging me so hard that I can hardly breathe. I might say something dumb. I might come across like one of those really weird religious people.

I used to think that Christian maturity was a matter of committing fewer sins of commission. That sins of omission were “little sins” that I could work on when I was a more godly person. But when I compare David and Amaziah, I’m not sure that’s such a good idea. By my standards, Amaziah seems like a better guy than David. But according to scripture, it’s David who was the man after God’s own heart. And I have a long way to go.