Going to the Chapel: Readings

Roddy, Not Another Happy Ending (2013)

Not Another Happy Ending (2013)

You’d think that having spent numerous years and money studying and teaching literature I would be able to come up with readings for my own wedding. But friends, it is really hard.

I mean, sure, I have a few scripture ideas, and Shakespeare is very inspirational, but I’m hitting a wall.

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Two Stars Keep Not Their Motion In One Sphere

It’s the Egotist’s Club’s fault, really.

A few weeks ago, when it was still only April, I decided to catch up on my favorite bloggers, and subsequently found myself reading a lovely post by Melpomene on the Donmar Warehouse production of William Shakespeare’s Coriolanus. I had heard about the production but hadn’t seen it, and–after a few moments of fangirling–I took to the Internet to read a little more about the play itself.

And as it so often happens with the Internet, one page led to another link, to another play…

I wanted to read everything Shakespearean—to study it, to see it—to immerse myself in it.

Which is why this month I will see the American Shakespeare Center perform Othello and Henry IV, Part I at the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, VA. I am so excited, it’s ridiculous.

In preparation, I read Henry IV, Part I. (I had great plans to read Othello, too, but since Henry took me 3 weeks, I don’t think I will have it finished in time.) There are so many fantastic scenes that I can’t wait to see. And I might be skulking around on YouTube, sneaking looks at other performances.

Like this one, starring Jamie Parker as Henry, the Prince of Wales, better known as “Hal,” and Roger Allam as Falstaff:

I really enjoy this play. I love the duplicity of Hal–that he takes his future as king seriously, even though he does not behave like a good prince should. Like his younger brother does, or his rival Harry Percy.

I am the Prince of Wales; and think not, Percy, 

To share with me in glory any more:

Two stars keep not their motion in one sphere;

Nor can one England brook a double reign,

Of Harry Percy and the Prince of Wales. 

Act V, Scene iv. 

I love Percy–or as he’s better known, Hotspur–too, spurred on by his hurt honor and self-righteous justice. And I love how Shakespeare pits these two against each other in such a way that when Hal does triumph over Hotspur in the end, he emerges from the battle with a better understanding of the honor that Hotspur so valued. He still has a ways to go before he becomes the king seen in Henry V, but it’s a start.

But if it be a sin to covet honor,

I am the most offending soul alive. 

Henry V, Act IV, Scene iii. 


Nope, Never Read It

This past week, Egotist’s Club did a series called “Why I Haven’t Read That Book Yet.”

To sum it up best in Internet vernacular, This.


So much this.

If you’re a reader, you’ll appreciate this series. Or if you’re not a reader but all your friends are, and you sometimes feel stupid and uncultured, then read these and know that it’s okay. I think you will also agree with me that they are so this.


books to check out journalAfter reading their last post, I got out my handy-dandy notebook that my mother gave me for Christmas years ago. So far I’ve only filled up 3 pages with 115 entries of books I want to read. About 50 of those books are a part of various series, and 33 are stand-alone books by 5 different authors.

2 entries are simply the names of 2 authors I want to read, ie. “PG Wodehouse, 18 novels.”

There are 5 Russian authors and 3 Turkish authors.

37 are detective books, 22 of which feature some version of Sherlock Holmes.

34 are crossed off as read, and only 1 of those is a lie–I just grew bored and set it aside.

Looking around my room, I have several books that I just haven’t started reading. Books like Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy (saw the BBC TV movie) and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (saw many movies–the SyFy Channel’s TV movie is my favorite–and 2 episodes of that horrible TV show), which are both on my list. I also have The Last Station by Jay Parini (saw the movie–still haven’t read the book).

I never did finish Anna Karenina.

I have a random Anne Lamott because everyone says she’s amazing, and I found it for 5 dollars in a bin at some grocery store, but I don’t really know what to expect, so it just sits on my shelf and looks nice.

I have started a few series but for one reason or other have never finished them: I still need to read Tuck so I can finish the King Raven Trilogy by Stephen R. Lawhead, but it’s been 5 years since it was released, and I only have Scarlet in possession. I think Hood was borrowed by someone who probably now lives in some country with a beach facing the Pacific Ocean.

I want to read Son by Lois Lowry, and I reread The Giver about 2 years ago, so I think that’s covered, but there’s still Gathering Blue to reread, and I’d have to find a copy of Messenger before I could read Son, and the last I looked Son was only available in hardback, and I feel like if I should read Son, I should own Son, so that I have the complete series, even though I don’t know where Messenger has gotten to.

Looking at Terpsichore’s list, I’m reminded of the fact that I never actually read all of Canterbury Tales (Chaucer), Morte d’Arthur (Mallory), or The Grapes of Wrath (Steinbeck). I was always just given sections to read in high school and college.

There are a lot of holes in my Shakespeare reading. Do I really need to read Othello? It’s sounds depressing, and I’m pretty sure The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) spoiled it for me.

I like fantasy fiction, but do I really have to read all of George MacDonald?

And what’s so great about Kurt Vonnegut anyway? Can anyone tell me?

So there you go. I read, and I understand that it is impossible for me to read everything. And I have accepted that.

What have you not been reading lately?

Dystopian Inspiration

Have you ever heard of Lori Nix and Kathleen Gerber? No? Neither had I until today. Apparently, they’re a pair of artists who have created a fascinating photograph series called The City.

Check these out:

Lori Nix Subway 2012

Lori Nix, “Subway” 2012 via Ryot.Org


Lori Nix, “Library” 2007 via Ryot.Org

Lori Nix, Circulation Desk

Lori Nix, “Circulation Desk” 2012 via Ryot.Org

How amazing are these? I feel inspired to write a dystopian story. Possibly with zombies.

Or I could finally complete the horror story I started writing in college that one semester when our city was hit by an ice storm, and I ended up stuck in my dorm with about a few other girls and no heat, no electricity, and no security. (The inspiration for that came from a blacked-out lobby with an ice machine that melted and overflowed all over the carpet that was already probably twenty years old.)

Then there’s the artist Suzanne Heintz who has spent 14 years creating her series Life Once Removed, which is, in her terms, about “Spinsterhood, and the American Way.” Not quite as Divergent-y as the photographs above, but definitely a little Stepford Wives-y.


Suzanne Heintz

We love & obey the formatted image of a well-lived life. So deeply ingrained is that strange auto-grin we put on when a camera is present. Do we live our lives with a keen awareness of how it feels, or just how it looks?

Suzanne Heintz, from her description of Life Once Removed.

There’s a story there, too.

To see more of Lori Nix and Kathleen Gerber’s amazing series The City, look here, and be sure to check out Lori Nix’s other series Unnatural HistoryLost, Some Other Placeand Accidentally Kansas.
To see more of Suzanne Heintz, check out her portfolio.
I first read about Lori Nix, Kathleen Gerber, and Suzanne Heintz on Ryot.Org, which is an awesome site for not just reading your daily news but making a difference about it. You should check them out: Artists Build Breathtaking Scenes Of A Modern Apocalypse and Artist Plays House For 14 Years With Her Fake Family

Emily Reads A Game Of Thrones

I'm just following the map.

I’m just following the map.

This week I was lent a copy of George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. For the last few years – I guess since the HBO show premiered – I have considered reading the series, but I always hesitate.

jessica day gif

I’m not really sure I can handle it.

Plus, now everyone loves Game of Thrones because of the show – even President Obama. It’s just too… mainstream.

hipster alice

Oh gosh.

Anyway. I now have A Game Of Thrones sitting so innocently next to me, and I think—I think–I’m going to read it. Yeah. I’m going to do it.

I’m going blind into this. I haven’t watched the show, and even though it’s widely popular, I’ve only picked up on a few things:

  • There’s a throne.
  • And maybe a game, but that could be just a metaphor.
  • Sean Bean is (was?) in the show, so obviously at least his character dies.
  • But I did see this, so I guess I shouldn’t get attached to anyone.
  • I’m not going to be able to pronounce anyone’s name.
  • There’s some chick with dragons, and she’s apparently awesome.
  • There was something called the “red wedding,” and it freaked everyone out.
  • Oh, and winter’s coming.


adam young owl city gif

I have to psych myself up for this. And I think I’m going to have to be real nerdy and read this while making character charts and taking notes. Just to keep track of everything. I could treat it as training for The Brothers Karamazov. (I still got to read that one. Time is running out.)


Has anyone else read A Game Of Thrones? What did you think? Any bets how long it’s going to take me to finish this? You know, because I have to work and write and babysit and eat and sleep. I have a life. Of sorts.

jessica day gif

Rediscovering The Beauty of Fairy Tales

Tangled Lanterns Rapunzel

A few weeks ago I was babysitting my niece. The Bean loves music, and she loves to dance. YouTube music videos and clips are the best for the Bean’s attention span, so babysitting usually finds us dancing to Swan Lake, “What Does The Fox Say?,” Disney musical numbers, and Hillsong:

I was hesitant to show the Bean Disney. There seems to be two camps about Walt Disney’s legacy: those who love it and those who abhor it. While I don’t think I could personally support the Disney Princess franchise, I do love Disney films. I love fairy tales, and my childhood introduction to most of them was through Disney.

I worry that Disney and other media powerhouses aimed at children will have a negative effect on the Bean’s self-esteem and life expectations. I want her to be excited about more than just a “happy ever after” romance.

As the Bean’s awesome, cool, single aunt, I hope she will be a self-aware, independent, and ambitious woman of God, who understands that her identity is found in her Savior and not in her appearance or marital status. I pray that her parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncle will be able to speak truth and not fiction to her. That we will be able to give her a strong foundation in her childhood so that her adulthood will be one full of optimism and hope, but also guided by discernment, wisdom, and empathy.

But that’s on us. That’s our responsibility. It’s not the responsibility of Disney, or PBS, or Barbie.

And it’s not Disney’s fault if we fail.

Earlier this year, I saw Saving Mr. Banks, a film retelling the story of how Walt Disney convinced author P.L. Travers to let him make the movie Mary Poppins. Watching Banks was a little difficult because it was an obviously Disney-approved and biased version of the story. Propaganda.

And yet, I was struck by a theme of the movie: stories may be written and created by authors, but they are rebirthed in the imagination of readers. In Banks, the story that Travers wrote was different from the story that Walt Disney read. Both had a strong and personal claim to Mary Poppins, Travers as her creator and Disney as her Reader.

Stories reveal who we are to ourselves. When we identify with a story, a character, a quotation—a fandom—we are discovering who we are, what we like, and what we believe.

“The writer is, after all, only half his book. The other half is the reader and from the reader the writer learns.”

P.L. Travers

One night as the Bean and I surfed YouTube, we happened across one special Disney song. I hesitated in playing it, as the song is a slow ballad, and the Bean likes a song with a good beat to which she can head bang.

But we had just danced along with The Jungle Book’s I Wanna Be Like You,” (with the Bean giving a fantastic impression of a monkey), and this auntie needed a quiet moment to catch her breath.

So I pressed play, and the Bean and I watched this clip from Disney’s Tangled:

Tangled: “I See The Light” by Mandy Moore & Zachary Levi

The transformation in the Bean was astounding. She stood still, her mouth slightly opened, completely focused on the clip. I was terrified.

When the song was over, the Bean looked at me and simply said, “Peas?” (Please?)

I can’t refuse her, so I played it again.

And again.

And again.

Tangled Young Rapunzel Lanterns

The Bean loves this song. It’s fascinating to watch her when the clip plays because you can tell that she thinks it’s absolutely beautiful. Grace said that since the Bean discovered “I See The Light” she’s learned the word “dar!” (“star”). If she sees a “dar,” she always points it out to us, whether it’s the lanterns from Tangled or the illustrations in Goodnight Moon.

And when we listen to “I See The Light” and she is so obviously inspired and appreciative of its beauty, I get goosebumps. I want her to find beauty in the world, even if it’s through Disney.

Last week, Grace and I decided to go on an adventure and take the Bean to the movie theatre to see Disney’s Frozen. (Verdict: the Bean is not ready for movie theatres as she doesn’t understand why anyone would want to sit still for more than 30 seconds at a time.) Just before we went, we stopped for some lunch. While the Bean crawled around on the restaurant’s playground, another little girl stared at my sister and I before walking over to us and excitedly telling us all about her dolls “Elsa” and “Anna” and the movie Frozen. Almost everything she said was in Spanish, a language I don’t know. I could only catch a few words: names I would later discover were of characters in the film; technical terms like “DVD,” “Blue-Ray,” and “tears” (“theatres”); and, “Let it go!”, which the child did not speak but sang as loud as she could.

Like the Bean with “I See The Light,” I found this girl’s love for Elsa and Anna mesmerizing. Not because of what Frozen is, but because of what Frozen, Tangled, and other Disney films do: they introduce children to creativity, story, and beauty.

The Bean hasn’t seen all of Tangled, and when she’s older, she might not even like it. That’s okay. I’m just thankful that I get to see her discover the power of imagination.

Fairy tales are important, whether they are Disney or Grimm.

 hank green disney tangled

hank green disney tangled

 Thank you, Hank Green.




Catching Fire: Is It November Yet?

On Sunday, the trailer for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was released, and friends, I am so excited, that


Catching Fire is my favorite book in Suzanne Collin’s trilogy, and I am strongly protective of it. As a sequel, it deepened my understanding of the story’s setting and of the characters for whom I was cheering.

The trailer both excites and worries me.

It excites me because it looks fantastic! I mean – and please excuse my fangirling – it just looks right. The districts are a third-world America, the Capitol a perfect blend of flamboyance and gluttony, and Katniss—

Katniss Everdeen is stunning.

I really want this movie to be good.

And that’s what worries me – hoping for a movie based on a book that I love to be good? What does that even mean? What do fans want when they say a movie has to be “just like the book?”

I don’t think we really know. For me, I want the story that I first read.

I want to spend 120 minutes, give or take, exploring Panem and falling in love with Peeta. I want to trust Finnick and solve the Arena. I want to outsmart the Games.

I want to be the spark that starts a revolution.

But to expect a film to encapsulate the world created by Suzanne Collins’ imagination and mine is a lot to ask. So instead I ask Francis Lawrence for a faithful adaptation, one that maintains the integrity of its characters and their struggles.

And yet one that is its own story.

Do you think that’s possible, readers? Can a movie be all of that?

I can think of two that are —  Atonement (2007) and The Perks of Being a Walflower (2012).

Atonement was director Joe Wright’s vision of Ian McEwan’s novel. It’s one of my favorite films, and is a standard by which I judge all other movie adaptions.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a rarity: the novel’s author Stephen Chbosky not only wrote the screenplay but also directed the film. It is a masterpiece.

Obviously, not all authors are as lucky as Chbosky, and any Hunger Games fan who dares to argue that Suzanne Collins co-wrote the first film’s screenplay, and therefore we shouldn’t be upset with changes made to the story, needs a slap in the face: “Too Little Liam Hemsworth? Hunger Games Writers Tried Out Some Ideas To Add More Gale!” (E! Online). Collins, what were you thinking?

But these are just two, and I would love to discover more.

So readers, are there any films out there that actually do justice to the books they are based on?

Ooh, and here’s a thought: anyone have an especially horrible film adaption? One that should just have never been made?

(May I suggest Timeline? Oh goodness, Timeline is a travesty.)

What do you think, my fellow Capitol citizens? Yay or nay?

I love it, but where’s Finnick? Where’s Joanna? Where’s Hawaii the Arena? It’s like this trailer is only the first half of the book, if that.

And the second half of the book is pretty much this:

Jack, Kate, and Sawyer - Lost

Kidding, kidding.

It’s really more like this:


And more Smoke Monster and less Polar Bears.

Aw, man. I miss Lost.