Stars, Stripes, and Rainbows

I don’t believe there is anyone over the age of five that doesn’t know about the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage.  It’s a matter that has been discussed heatedly all over the world for decades.

I doubt it will come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that I do not — cannot — support this decision.  Let me explain.

I’m a Christian.  I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  As such, I’ve made a choice.  There are two options here: agree with the world or agree with God.  As a God-fearing woman, the first is out of the question for me.  Could I really say to God, “Hey, I’m going to ignore what You want in favor of what these people wish me to believe?”  I can’t.

At the same time, we are commanded to love others.  And I do.  I have many loved ones and sweet acquaintances who either are gay or support gay marriage.  Mind you, I have nothing against the feelings that belong to a homosexual.  It’s the action with which I disagree.  Just as having desire for a member of the opposite gender is fine unless it leads to lust, adultery, or premarital sex.  There are rights and wrongs, opposition in all things, and certain rules that we should and should not uphold.  I love those that disagree with me.  They’re also children of God and deserve respect and kindness.  But that love does not transcend into agreement and support of their actions, for the simple but profound reason that I love God more.

Something that frightens me about this issue is that those who oppose gay marriage are being persecuted and silenced.  That’s not what America is about.  I understand we all have equal rights and I don’t mind at all that those with differing opinions speak as they will.  What bothers and genuinely scares me is that anyone who disagrees with gay marriage, transgender topics, or things also related to this are so heavily rebuked for exercising the same rights those who support LGBT communities enjoy.  This is an opposition of ideals.  Both sides believe they are right.  So why are those of us who disagree with the ruling being so persecuted?  We are belittled into silence, feeling shamed by the public, even the government.  This is not fair.  In a country that touts equality and civil rights as the basis for our every action, how can the public justify fighting tooth and nail for their wishes while simultaneously crushing ours into the ground?  America was founded on the God-given rights of free speech and freedom of religion.  These are part of the First Amendment of the Constitution.  The Constitution is what this nation is founded upon.  In shaming us into silence, they are denying us the very rights upon which the United States of America is predicated.  If disallowing gay marriage is unconstitutional, then this definitely is.

I ask you to think of this objectively.  Christians and others who oppose gay marriage are (or at least should be) kind and caring to those who disagree with our beliefs.  Please support giving us the same courtesy.

Sincerely,

Ana

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“I will walk together.”

I’ve mentioned before my great love of the Japanese rock band the GazettE.  (And the reason the ‘e’ is capitalized is just because it looks cool).

the GazettE

(Left to right: Aoi, Reita, Kai, Uruha, and Ruki is sitting).

I first was ‘introduced’ to them by my friend Mirriam Neal’s blog.  She had pictures of Aoi and Kai (with the awesome hair pictured above) and I was curious.  When I first looked into their music, I was a little confused and weirded out.  I thought they were okay, but they weren’t anything I’d come in contact with before.  But I still went foraging through the internet to look for their clean music.  (While I don’t speak Japanese, the overall theme of a song is still very apparent in the music even if the words are foreign to the listener.)

I acquired a bit of a collection, but I branched out into other types of j-rock.  A lot of them are good, but I quickly realized that the GazettE is one of the cleaner bands.  It’s so hard to find songs even in my native language that are clean and it frustrates and angers me to no end.  So I was certainly impressed and proud that the Gazette didn’t block me out of their artistry.  That’s not to say that all of their stuff is perfectly clean — it’s not.  But something that I love about them is that if they choose to make something inappropriate for someone with my standards to listen to, the content usually includes only swearing or themes of violence.  In today’s world sexuality is glorified.  It’s pathetically hard to find a song that doesn’t highlight this in some way.  That’s one reason why I don’t listen to a lot of modern pop music (plus it’s not really my thing).  One has to search diligently on the internet and be prepared to wade through things no one should have to come in contact with just to find a good song.  It’s pathetic and disgusting.  But for the most part, the GazettE stay away from involving that particular theme in their music.

Aoi.Reita(The GazettE)

(Aoi and Reita).

The GazettE get life.  None of them have had it easy, perhaps Ruki, the vocalist, in particular.  He was treated very poorly by his family to the extent that he had nothing to do with his father until the band began to get popular.  These guys have seen sadness and pain but not only has it made them fuller, better people, they’ve been able to help others through their experiences.  That’s how hardships should be used.  So many of their songs are uplifting, and many of them deal with harsh topics such as abuse and death.  One of my favorite songs is Miseinen, and to paraphrase the song, it’s basically a story of growing up.  In youth, you rebel and your pride lifts you up, but that’s not really how it’s supposed to go.  It’s okay to rely on friends and family, to be broken, because it makes you stronger.  I think it not only sums up the amazing mentality of the band, but the hope we can have for our own lives.

The GazettE have helped me very much in my life.  I have a very hot temper and their music is one of the few things that calm me down sufficiently.  As anyone who knows me understands, I struggle so much with math.  (And my dad’s an accountant.  Sad, right?)  I would get so wound up that my emotional state would be on the range between ‘frustrated’ and ‘angry’.  I don’t like being mad.  It leaves a bitter feeling that’s hard to shake.  So as I studied up in my room, I’d turn on Baretta and Best Friends.  It really helped.  One fan has said, “They understand what my family doesn’t.”  And while I don’t share those feelings about my family not understanding, I love that I can listen to a couple of songs by the GazettE and then be calm enough to express myself to those close to me.  ‘Cause it really stinks to be so frustrated that when I try to speak, all of it boils up and I wind up doing something I regret.  Or even if I’m feeling down, listening to Cassis calms me and gives me hope.  To me, that’s really the GazettE’s message: hope.  Both in their music and how they live their lives.

The GazettE

They’re actually really shy, private people.  My dad avoids the topic of them because I think they make him wary, which, in my opinion, is kind of funny.  Mirriam and I talked quite a bit about them the other day, and the way she described them when her mother looked askance at them was that they’re sweet babies.  And she’s right.  They have such sweet spirits.  Their music is downright awesome — they’re a highly talented bunch.  But their spirits have the opportunity to speak through it.  They try so hard to be tough, but they’re polite and funny and just genuinely people who make me smile.  When I’m upset in any way, they’re one of the things with the highest percentage of cheering me up and giving me hope.

the GazettE. I love their smiles. :D <3

I could go on about them forever, but I’ll just keep this short and sweet.  The GazettE have reached into my heart and give me confidence and help me strive toward who I want to be.  I have a very strong fear of failure and they help calm me down and let me see more of my potential.  I don’t know them and they don’t know me, but the hope and strength they give me will forever be something I treasure.

Cheers!

Ana

P.S. New album in August!  Someone tell me how it is, as I’ll be on a mission.

Favorite Screen Characters Tag

My awesome friend Tracey Dyck tagged me in this lovely thing.  (Look her up and read her list.  It’s awesome).

So, rules:

-List your ten favorite screen characters.

-Tag ten other bloggers.

And I apologize profusely — I don’t know anyone that Tracey hasn’t already tagged!  So consider yourself tagged and give me the link to your post in the comments.  Please, darlings.

Ah-right, on to the list.  Although I have no idea what to do with this, seeing as there are so many characters that have won my heart fully and completely.  I think these are my top favorites….  And I tried to put them in order from 10 to 1, but I think I may have failed.

10) EUGENE FITZHERBERT/FLYNN RIDER

If you do not have this on your board, you are wrong

I’m a sucker for Disney, and Tangled is no exception.  And as much as I love Rapunzel, Gothel, Pascal, etc., Eugene has to win my favorite character slot.  He’s so human.  We meet him as a common thief with sweeping dreams and an even bigger ego, but as he moves forward through the story, he grows and realizes what is truly important in life.  He starts off as a bloke so self-centered he wouldn’t even think of anyone else, but when the film ends he has changed in the most beautiful of ways.  He’s kind, courageous, and was perfectly willing to sacrifice everything for the person he loved.  And he has a killer sense of humor.

9) FRANCIS SULLIVAN/JACK KELLY

15 Struggles Only "Newsies" Fans Understand - BuzzFeed

Ah, Jack Kelly.

Sorry, Broadway, I’m sure Newsies is a mega-hit and everyone loves it.  It’s still not the movie.

Jack, despite his laughter, teasing, and swashbuckling attitude, is a very sad soul.  He yearns for family, for love, for happiness.  He’s sick and tired of being trodden on by the big-wigs in their lust for money and power — so he stands up to fight them.  He gets knocked down and bribed, but he doesn’t give up.  He’s lived his whole life scraping for a living, battling for respect.  The other newsies love him and follow his lead, but he doesn’t realize how much they care until the end.  His friends have become his family.  He’s finally won that happiness.

8) THE EVIL QUEEN/REGINA MILLS

This face #EvilRegal

Regina is one of those characters you can watch forever and always find another layer.  She has been through so much pain and suffering, some caused by circumstances beyond her control, some that she created herself.  She starts out in Once Upon a Time as the Evil Queen — her entire existence is wrapped up in taking revenge on Snow White.

Regina’s is perhaps one of the best redemption stories ever to be told.  Human souls crave love, and evil queens are no exception.  She ‘achieves’ her goal of destroying everyone’s happy endings, but her new life is surprisingly empty.  She adopts a son, and now she finally has someone to fulfill her.  But she doesn’t truly know how to be a mother, despite her love for Henry.  As the series progresses, however, Regina learns what it is to genuinely love.  Love is service.  Love is kindness.  Love is forgiveness.  And as she lets go of her past, of the hatred that burns within her, destroying her, she’s almost … almost reborn, in a sense.  Heck, it’s a hard journey, but she’s not about to give up.  I relate very strongly to Regina because I’ve done some terrible things myself.  I love her steadfastness in even just trying to stay on the right path.  It gives me hope for myself, too.

7) GUY OF GISBORNE

Favorite Bad Guy: If you've seen my board then you know my answer - Guy of Gisborne! His character held a kind of depth that made me wish he could be redeemed! Yes, he was evil at times, but he did have some humanity in him. I also loved his back story in series three - it showed a lot of things that helped me understand him better, and plus he and Meg were amazing together!

Guy is one of those characters so terrible but with so much potential for redemption that no matter what he does, you root for him.  Plus the man is drop-dead gorgeous.  He’s the sheriff’s right-hand man and while he’s not entirely happy in his position, he craves power and respect and serving the sheriff is a way to get that.  When Marian asks him why he works for the sheriff, he replies, “I choose power.  He is my route to position, standing.”

But all those redeemable qualities finally come to fruition.  His love for Marian begins to drive him, rather than his lust for power.  Granted, he makes many, many mistakes along the way, but I can’t help but love him.  Guy is — in my opinion — one of the few good features of the third season of Robin Hood.  His character arc is finally finished, and when the show ends, you can’t help feeling pride for his progress and a respect that he has finally earned.

6) CYRANO DE BERGERAC

Gerard Depardieu in Cyrano De Bergerac. Every time I watch this movie I think two things, the first is that  no one could ever play Cyrano besides Depardieu and second, I wish I was him.

Cyrano is one of the wittiest characters in the history of literature.  He is a literal genius with words.  He can make you laugh, make you sit on the edge of your seat, make you cry just with words.  He’s a poet in love with the beautiful, intelligent Roxanne, but his confidence as a romantic partner is so diminished by his facial deformity.  His nose is overly long and large, but while he is constantly rising above that insecurity, declaring his love for Roxanne is something he can never quite do.  All hope for him seems lost when Roxanne falls in love with one of his cadets, the handsome Christian.  Christian, however, is not good with words, so Cyrano ‘lends’ him his.  For months, it is the words of Cyrano that holds Roxanne’s heart, but she thinks they are Christian’s.  Even when Christian dies, Cyrano doesn’t say a word to his beloved until the very end of his life.  Even then, she guesses it and he still barely is able to admit to it.  He is selfless, and in the end, he is remembered as a brilliant mind and a great man who rose above every challenge laid upon him.

5) JARETH, THE GOBLIN KING

smiling Jareth gif

I know I basically did an entire post dedicated to this guy, but he is one of my favorite characters.  He has lots of faults, but he’s awesome.

Jareth is extremely selfish.  He always has to be right, always has to be in control, and always has to win.  He makes a formidable antagonist, even as his heart softens toward the young Sarah.

I’ve always wondered what his backstory was.  How did he come to be this way?  Even the woman he has come to love isn’t exempt from his malevolent schemes as she strives to rescue her baby brother from him.  Did he have no examples of love or kindness?  What terrible experiences have so hardened him against others?  It’s questions like these that make me hold him upside down and take him apart piece-by-piece to examine his potential for redemption.  I think he really has it.  But it’s going to take a lot of work for him to get back to a good path, and first, he has to want to.

4) THE BEAST

I don't even know what to say to this.(gif) XD BUILD THE SNOWMAN

By now you’ve probably noticed the recurring ‘redemption arc’ theme.  I think that that’s what humans really crave.  And I think the Beast is one of the best examples of a redemption arc.  He begins the film as a selfish, sometimes cruel, creature who can’t stand not getting his way.  He’s really very immature.  He’s been punished to live as an animal for ten years after an enchantress saw that “there was no love in his heart.”  The only way for the spell to be lifted was for him to love another, and for them to love him in return, before the rose linked to his life dies.  At first he doesn’t like Belle — she’s only a tool for him to be free.  But it’s not long before he falls head-over-heels in love with her.  He learns to serve her and be kind to her, and his heart slowly understands what it is to truly love.  He begins to care for his servants, ask their advice, and treat them with kindness.  The curse is finally broken when Belle also admits her love for him.  (Although, for the record, I cannot for the life of me connect that idiot-seeming prince at the end with the Beast with a man’s heart I had come to love during the course of the film.  At least keep the voice, Disney!)

3) BELLE

"I want so much more than they've got planned..."

This girl is smart.  She stands out in a “poor, provincial town” like a sore thumb.  Everyone expects women to be subservient and simpering, but that’s just not Belle’s thing.  She values education, learning, and kindness, and those are a little on the short side where she lives.  She longs for adventure, for a place that can welcome her and appreciate her without judgment.  She adores her father, and when he is taken prisoner by the Beast, she offers to take his place.  What an act of selflessness.  And at first the spunky girl is not too keen on her furry captor, but as he begins to change, she realizes it.  I think sometimes we hold people to a certain level that we expect from them, and even when they rise above it, we have too much hatred to actually see it.  Belle doesn’t do that.  She learns to see into his new heart and loves him back.  She uses her head, but her heart is well-utilized — she is a shining example of what a person can achieve.

2) LOKI

I don’t think it’s possible for a person not to love Loki.  In the first Thor film, he is portrayed as a young man who is often shoved aside for the glory of his elder brother.  In the Avengers, he has grown and hardened into a man whose wounds have healed all wrong, making him very dangerous.  In the second Thor film, his actions and experiences have taken their toll, but what really spurs him is the death of his mother.  Grief-stricken, he’ll go to any lengths to avenge her.

I feel so bad for Loki.  Despite his strength and intelligence, he’s a broken man.  He discovers he’s the son of a mortal enemy of his family and no longer feels that he truly belongs in the place he’s always thought himself an integral part of.  I think Loki feels things very strongly, so these new revelations push him over the edge, breaking his heart.  He’s mischievous and dangerous, and combined with his hurt things get bad quickly … and they stay bad.  Thrashing violently to get out of the pit in which he’s found himself, he just digs himself in deeper.

It’s such a sad situation.  We’ve all had emotional pain and we’ve all lashed out because of it.  But he is capable of so many more crimes than a normal human — being, y’know, not human — and at the same time, his potential is so great.  I want to shake him and tell him how much he’s capable of.  He’s done terrible, terrible things, but I don’t believe he’s past the point of no return.  I want him to come back.  I want him to find happiness.

1) QUASIMODO

Quasimodo, Wipe Out. | Community Post: 20 Disney Characters That Would Be Perfect For Reality TV

My favorite film in all the world is the Hunchback of Notre Dame.  Quasimodo is an exceptional human being.  His entire life he’s been trapped in the bell tower of Notre Dame (NO-tre DOM, not NO-ter DAYM), told he’s a monster, and overall emotionally abused.  Yet despite all of it, his heart is large enough to hold the empire of the world.  His sweetness and innocence is beautiful, just beautiful, to behold.  He has soaring dreams and a soul capable of the most tender of loves.  He’s brave, compassionate, imaginative, talented, and kind.  He can see past the skin just as he thinks others are incapable of doing to him.  His forgiveness and love are an example for all the nations.  He is protective over those he cares about and even loves those who hurt him.  I wish he could see just how important he is.  At the end of the film, when he is finally free both literally and figuritively, it’s enough to make you weep from joy.


Okay, that was long and I enjoyed every moment of it.  I love people, and characters are just people that I can revisit over and over again in ways I can’t really do with my average neighbor.  These people inspire me and teach me, and I’m proud to know them.

And Rumpelstiltskin probably would’ve made it onto the list somewhere except that I’m still ticked off at him for everything that’s happened since the end of the third season.  Emma Swan is another of my favorites, and — oh, my word, how on earth did I forget Jack Sparrow?  I feel like such a failure now….  Jack, forgive me….  Anyway, had I blinking had my brain attached when I made the list, he totally would’ve been one of the primary ones on here.  But I’m way too lazy to go back and fix it.

And Shelby, if I tag you, will you get a blog?

Cheers!

Ana

Such a Pity

My mother had the love and wisdom to introduce Jim Henson’s film ‘Labyrinth’ to us as children.  It’s pure magic.  For those of you who don’t know the story/need a refresher, here’s the synopsis:

Fed up with her stepmother’s insistence that she watch her baby half-brother, fifteen-year-old Sarah wishes the infant into the care of the goblins and their malevolent king.  Desperate, Sarah fights her way through the Goblin King’s dangerous labyrinth with the help of some unlikely new friends to reclaim her infant brother and defeat the evil king.

Labyrinth haha! Love this!

(I just couldn’t resist, guys, and I’m not sorry).

We loved this film so much as kids that my sister painted the most adorable picture of His Royal Jerkface, complete with awesome hair, that was up on the door forever.  Dang, I wonder where it went….

(Complete sidenote, but this is exciting — my mother agreed to let my daddy buy me white bread hamburger buns!)

It’s been over a decade since I first saw the film, but my love for it has just grown throughout the years.  I love the goblins, I love the music, I love Sarah’s hair, I love Jareth’s smile, I love the blinking glitter—  What’s not to love?  It’s a story of overcoming obstacles for the love of your family.  Sure, it was released in ’86 and there are some aspects that really need help, but it’s still a sweeping tale rife with beauty, magic and mystery.

Jennifer Connelly was only fourteen when she was cast as Sarah.  I think it was her first real role, and to tell the truth, she was a terrible actress back then.  (If you haven’t seen a Beautiful Mind, do yourself a favor and turn it on.  While not perfect, she does a fantastic job and the story is too amazing for words).  But she did the best she could and I think her nose is adorable.  I love her nose.  As for the character, Sarah begins as a frustrated teen, and while I totally understand her point of view — y’know, father remarrying someone quite unlikable, being expected to be the perfect child, perfect babysitter, and losing the attention of her father, just to name a few things — she does go about dealing with it all in the wrong way.  She’s embittered toward the little baby and resents that she’s constantly pulled from the world of fantasy she has created around herself as a buffer from the unhappiness of her life.  She thrives on story, and her favorite book is a small, worn thing that she’s constantly quoting.  It’s called ‘the Labyrinth.’  When she wishes away her brother and the story actually begins happening, she quickly realizes that the adventure is not as great as it was in the book.

Sarah: For my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom as great — You have no power over me. Labyrinth, 1986

(I think this is the most beautiful picture).

As Sarah goes along her story, winding through the labyrinth, she meets three folk who will become her dear friends: Hoggle, Ludo, and Sir Didymus.  At first Hoggle gets on her nerves and she treats him rather rudely, but she ultimately has a good heart and learns to trust him.  Ludo, a big, furry yeti, wins her over immediately due to his sweet nature and adorable childlikeness.  Sir Didymus is a fox-looking knight, and I think she’s amused by and appreciative of his gallantry towards her.

Despite Jenny’s sadly lacking acting ability, Sarah’s personality and abilities do shine through.  She loves stories and fantasy, and she’s brave and determined.  Though Jareth, the Goblin King, takes every opportunity to throw things in her path (literally and figuratively), she doesn’t let it deter her.  She’s nearly turned to mincemeat, dumped in a bog, mindwashed, sliced in half, shot, but she continues steadfastly in her mission to save her little brother.  As she realizes how far she’s willing to go to get him back, her dormant love for him blossoms and when her adventure ends, the audience senses that forevermore, Sarah will love and protect Toby no matter what.  She learns the true meaning of love and how it can change her life for the better.

Sarah begins as a lonely child, a girl longing for attention and love.  But as she learns what it means to trust others as well as herself and becomes aware of how much she is capable of, she transforms into a woman.  Her journey through the labyrinth wasn’t just to save her brother — it was to learn about herself.  She is brave, loyal, compassionate, and strong.  She has a heart that is capable of loving and forgiving despite betrayal and hurt.  At the end of the film, we see her putting away the relics of her childhood as she realizes that if she wants to move forward, she can’t be held back by her pain and loneliness.  As wonderful as these childhood books and toys were, no matter how much they helped her, she understands it’s time to move on to different tools, ones that will carry her into womanhood.  Still, one can’t outgrow love and friendship, and she invites all her friends back and they celebrate together.  She still needs them, and perhaps she always will.  They remind her of who she truly is, and they encourage her to be her best.  They have become her family, and it’s beautiful.

Sarah from Labyrinth. I'm putting this on my

(Sarah and Hoggle).

Hoggle — whose name always seems to be mutilated most embarrassingly — begins as a grudging ally of Jareth.  Originally entrusted with taking Sarah back to the beginning of the labyrinth, Sarah bribes him with her plastic bracelet.  Hoggle says of himself, “See, you’ve got to understand my position.  I’m a coward, and Jareth scares me.”  It’s true, Hoggle is a coward, and while he’s extremely touched when Sarah calls him her friend, the instant he hears a terrifying roaring (which happens to be Ludo) he takes off, despite Sarah having taken his little bag of jewels in an attempt to make him stay and lead her to the palace.

Hoggle was my favorite character when I was a kid.  He’s funny and curmudgeonly, unaware of how utterly adorable he is.  He pretends to be hard, but he’s really just an old softie.  He begins as a ‘fend-for-myself-’cause-it’s-safest’ guy, but as Sarah worms her way into his heart he realizes there’s more to life than regretfully doing the Goblin King’s bidding.  Jareth bullies him into giving Sarah an enchanted peach, and Hoggle can’t forgive himself.  He sits alone, huddled by a fire, and says softly, “She’ll never forgive me.  What have I done?  I’ve lost my only friend.  That’s what I’ve done.”  He himself claims not to have any pride, and subsequently his self-esteem is all but non-existent, which Jareth takes full advantage of.  Sarah helps him to realize his true importance and that he can be loved for himself.  When Sarah and the others approach the gates to the Goblin City, Hoggle braves runs across the wall and stops the electronic goblin machine that was trying to kill the little crew.  When Sarah rushes to see if he’s all right, he confesses that Jareth made him give her the peach, tells her that he doesn’t care what she thinks of him and he ain’t interested in being friends.  Softly, she replies, “I forgive you, Hoggle.”  He’s shocked, and is further moved when Sir Didymus adds, “And I commend you.  Rarely have I seen such courage.  You are a valiant man, Sir Hoggle.”  And Ludo gently taps him and says simply, “Hoggle and Ludo friends.”  Sarah thanks him and gives him back his pouch of jewels, and buoyed up by the love surrounding him, he stands and heroically declares, “Well, what are we waiting for?  Let’s go get that rat who calls himself Jareth.”

A movie I've adored for many years. I love the smile on her face in this picture.

(Sarah and Ludo).

Isn’t Ludo adorable?  When Sarah finds him, he’s hanging upside-down from a tree, being tortured by a small group of armed goblins.  Sarah saves him, and he asks if she’s his friend.  When she replies in the affirmative, he’s overjoyed.  He’s basically a big puppy-child, his sweet nature and unconditional love something Sarah desperately needs.  He’s playful and kind, almost incapable of understanding evil, such is his innocence.  He’s easily frightened and sticks very close to Sarah while in the glittering, ominous forest.  He is able to control rocks, calling them his friends, and this ability is what saves the small band during the Battle of the Goblin City — the poor goblins didn’t know what hit them.

Ludo is extremely loyal, and while he knows to protect himself, his nature is one that is primarily kind and gentle.  His heart is large enough to hold the world, and he, more than anyone, is the one who teaches Sarah how to let her own goodness free from the restraints she had built up.

Sir Didymus, Hoggle and Ludo (Labyrinth)

(Didymus, Hoggle, and Ludo).

Sir Didymus is kind of a loony.  He believes himself to be the bravest and most noble of knights and is gallant to the point that there are times you might want to headdesk.  When Ludo all but defeats him in a ‘ferocious battle,’ Didymus yields and adopts Ludo as his brother.  He’s willing to fight to the death for any cause that comes his way, even if his sheepdog steed isn’t so keen on his courtly ideals.

Didymus lacks a few brains cells despite his bravery.  Anything that moves ought to be fought, he lifts a weapon and he’s immediately won, and is constantly convinced he’s unbeatable.  For instance, when he finally convinces his mount to stop running and they are encircled by some of the goblin cavaliers, he says, “Don’t worry, […] I think we’ve got them surrounded.”  He’s humorous but doesn’t get it, chivalrous but makes mistakes, and rushes headlong into any situation that bears a promise of a noble fight.  And he looks cute and cuddly until you see him move — he’s almost like a squirrel.  Oh, so adorable, right? — then its teeth are sunk deep into your finger.  But he’s still cute.  Although he would be deeply affronted to ever hear that.  Warriors are not ‘cute.’

Sarah, Sarah, Sarah. Turn back, Sarah. Turn back before it's too late!

Jareth.

King of the goblins, expert in the art of magic, and a royal jerk.

How can you not love him?

But there are times when anyone in their right mind wants to whack him about the ears.

But there’s just something about him that draws you in, just as it did Sarah.  Jareth is immature and manipulative, but there are times when you see past that.  The one-and-only David Bowie portrays him and even got to compose all the songs for the film (the score was done by Trevor Jones).  He’s dangerous and has obviously spent way more time than he would’ve liked among his rather idiotic subjects.  He goes around whisking away babies and the magic of the labyrinth turns them into goblins within a day.  He does everything in his (considerable) power to intimidate and stop Sarah, often in ways that would harm her greatly to say the least.  For him, I don’t think it’s so much about keeping the baby — it’s about conquering this headstrong young girl who’s doing way too well in overcoming his labyrinth.

Jareth fascinates me.  There are so many layers to his character that you just long to peel back to see the real man inside.  Like all the characters, there’s definitely an arc during the course of the movie for Jareth.  He’s proud and dangerous, and when he offers Sarah the chance to find her brother, I really don’t think he actually expects her to do it.  What he’s counting on even less is the help his own subjects — most especially Hoggle — toward the girl.  He’s insufferably domineering over everyone, cruel and mischievous, and likes to think he’s on top of the world.  He wants the baby.  He wants control.

Yet there’s something beneath his glittery cruelty that compels and sparks the mind.  Something I love that Bowie did with the music was tell Jareth’s story.  The first song, Underground, alludes to Jareth understanding Sarah’s pain at being rejected and ignored.  The second, Magic Dance, is a hilarious, catchy romp that almost has to do with little baby Toby.  Jareth dances among the goblins — the puppeteering is amazing, says the puppeteer’s granddaughter — as they sing the playful number.  Jareth is very childish and insists the goblins laugh when he laughs, shut up when he wants them to, and otherwise do his immature bidding.

(Jareth and Toby).

His relationship with — at? — Sarah is quite interesting.  At first you get the feeling that she’s just another specimen to watch and do his bidding, a sort of test rat to run through his maze.  But he seems to be genuinely intrigued by her.  As she nears his fortress, he pulls string to make her fall into a sort of trance.  In her dream, she’s in a ballroom, looking for Jareth, and the song that plays — and that he later sings — hints that he’d like her to stay.  He seems honestly concerned and sad when she breaks free, though it could’ve been worry for her mind slipping back to rescuing her brother, but when she regains her memory and finds him and Toby in the palace’ Escher room, his attitude is strangely raw.  The entire scene is basically Sarah running around trying to get to a gravity-defying Toby as Jareth sings Within You.  The song begins as he’s berating her for turning his world upside-down, but finishes in a rather sad way.  He says he believes in her and softly asks her to “Live without [her] sunlight.  Love without [her] heartbeat.”  He seems almost overcome with emotion.

(The dress, guys.  The dress.  The hair.)

Okay, one of the main reasons I’m writing this blog post is because of a problem I have with fangirls.

Guys, Jareth is pretty, mysterious, and we all love him, but he’s not some whimpering puppy you can take home to mama.  It frustrates me how blind girls can be to the ‘sexy’ guys faults.  He’s not nice.  Yeah, he has pain, but that doesn’t mean he’s some poor, innocent baby you can cuddle and allow to dawdle after you forever.  He won’t.  Maybe someday he can change, but until then, stop acting as if he’s some misunderstood darling who only wants love.  Yeah, he does want love, but the way he goes about it is twisted and cruel.  And he would be the first to admit it.  Excuse my harshness, but use your heads.  (The same principle goes for the majority of guys in today’s popular stories).  And as much as I love him, I try to see him as the manipulative jerk he actually is.  That doesn’t mean he isn’t redeemable, but I’d need to love him from afar.

Okay, after that rant, let me finish my little yeah-I-love-Jareth monologue. Anyway, the last scene between Sarah and the Goblin King is so dynamic.  He tells her to beware, for “[he had] been generous up until now, but [he] can be cruel.”  When she doubts this, he tells her he has done everything she wanted.  He took her brother, reordered time, turned the world upside down … and all for her.  He claims that he’s exhausted from living up to her expectations of him. She then begins the most powerful speech of the whole movie, one that is incredibly moving and inspiring.

“Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the child that you have stolen.  For my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom as great.”

He interrupts.  He’s afraid.  He offers her her dreams, and as she steps forward, steadfastly continuing the speech, and in near desperation, he says, “I ask for so little.  Just let me rule you, and you can have everything that you want.”  There’s a certain line that Sarah can never remember, and she visibly struggles as he leaps on his moment.  “Just fear me,” he says, “love me, do as I say, and I will be your slave.”

Sarah looks up, and his fear heightens.

“You have no power over me.”

Those were the words that destroyed him.  When Sarah spoke them, he twisted through the air, collapsing, until he turned into his owl form and Sarah reappeared in her home just as the clock struck midnight.

I genuinely believe that Jareth cared for Sarah.  She’s different, someone who believes in him and has the strength to overpower even him.  David Bowie said, “He’s completely smitten,” and adds, basically, that her purity and goodness was another thing that drew him to her.  But Jareth doesn’t know what it is to love.  His heart is so hardened by what he has done that he can’t understand what it is to truly care about someone.  And I pity him for that.

I love the ending of the film.  Sarah has grown, she recognizes that there’s more to her than the lonely child she was before.  As she invites her dear friends back into her life, I get the feeling that these unconventional companions are going to be her example of unconditional love.  They are her family now, and we finally get to see her truly happy.  Outside her window, a white owl perches on a branch, but as the celebrations continue, Jareth flies away toward the moon.

Ludo: [in the mirror] Goodbye, Sarah.  Didymus: And remember, fair maiden, should you need us... Hoggle: Yes, should you need us, for any reason at all... Sarah: I need you, Hoggle.  Hoggle: You do?   Sarah: [nods] I don't know why, but every now and again in my life - for no reason at all - I need you. All of you.   Hoggle: You do? Well WHY DIDN'T YOU SAY SO? *Epic Goblin party ensues*

The story of Labyrinth is love.  For family, for friends, and for yourself.  Sarah’s friends help her find herself, and she does the same for them.  She understands how much her brother means to her, and I like to think that those dear friends from the labyrinth will be the companions of Toby’s life as well.

Love really can conquer all.

Cheers!

Ana

P.S. It’s further than you think.  Time is short.

Stereotypes and Modesty

Modest is sexy.

It’s a fact of life.

Unfortunately, people so often are of the opinion that being ‘modest’ means wearing frumpy old-lady clothes.  Clothes that are so bad they have never been anywhere near the spectum of ‘fashionable,’ t-shirts that could double as tents, jeans that come up to your ribcage.

That opinion is rather sad, actually, because so often the cutest clothes are the ones that are modest.  The ones that speak for themselves and flatter you while still leaving things to the imagination.

Others also think that modesty is restricting, that it’s oppressive and keeps you from fully expressing yourself.  I think this opinion is twisted.  Our bodies are a gift.  Say you had a precious Ming vase, ‘kay?  Would you put it in your front yard to bleach in the sun and for every neighborhood child to trap dragonflies in?  No — you’d keep it on display in your house, probably in a special case to protect it.  Your guests would be honored to view it, to have the opportunity to marvel at its unique beauty.

Teen girls! You are valuable! Please read this article from a great website, full of resources for young and old!

We are each important.  You wouldn’t pawn off your gold watch for a bag of plastic bugs, would you?  We are of too much worth to sell ourselves like that.  We aren’t cheap — we are priceless.  It’s time society recognized that.  Instead, we are expected to show off our assets, let everyone know how ‘sexy’ we are, but really, that’s just degrading.  Society preaches respect and equality, yet both men and women are looked down on if we show an ounce of it for ourselves and our sacred gifts.

Something about many of the modesty lessons is the reaction of the opposite sex.  I hate it.  “You’ll help the boys by dressing modestly.”  “Don’t tempt the girls by sagging your jeans.”  Yeah, it’s important to help and respect those around you, but I think the true reason to dress modestly is for ourselves.  We need to show the world that we are confident without showing off, that we respect ourselves enough to keep those sacred parts of us away from the cheap, low-minded bidders prowling around with glittering eyes.

On redefining sexy: | 12 Stevie Nicks Quotes To Live By

(Quote by Stevie Nicks that I found on Pinterest).

Another subject I’d like to touch on is stereotypes.  For instance, my style is basically that of a Japanese rocker.  I wear spiked boots, skull-embellished shirts, hip belts and skeleton-cameo necklaces.  As weird as it sounds, I almost feel most complete when my nails are painted black.  I’m usually in black and have a growing collection of spikes and leather.  But I’m always modest.  I live in a small town that wasn’t sure what to do with me when I first came, and that really confused me and made me sad.  I don’t try to be tempting and I strive to be kind and polite with clean language, but I was still rather labeled as a sort of rebel, an unwanted divergent.

I would even wear the nose-thing. XD

(Reita from the GazettE).

That’s one kind of stereotype.  When you see a girl with frills and pink lipstick, don’t label her as shallow and brainless.  When you see a girl with false eyelashes even longer than mine, don’t immediately conclude that she’s a tramp.  This is something I really struggle with, don’t get me wrong.  I’m one of those people that just naturally labels and judges.  But as I’ve gone throughout my life, made friends, worked at Subway, I’ve learned to see past the skin.  True, you don’t agree with the girl who comes in with her neckline down to her bellybutton.  But maybe she’s nice.  The young man with the scowl over there might be bullied and doesn’t know how to show that he’s not mean and rude, or maybe his attitude is a protection against those who wish to hurt him further.  Maybe the girl dressed as a hippie is beaten at home and the way she copes is by clinging to the ideals of peace.

Mormon chick, baby! ;D  This is the sweetest picture, too!

(Isn’t this picture perfectly adorable?)

This post is as much for me as it is for everyone else.  True, there are some folks out there that you instinctively know to stay away from.  You aren’t always going to want to be friends with everybody.  But we mustn’t forget that beneath the outer layer, there is a child of God, one that is precious in His sight and should also be in ours.

We should also notice our own worth.  Don’t beat yourself up over your mistakes — that’s what Christ’s Atonement is for.  We live, we fall, we get back up.  And we never do it alone.  We have the potential to rise above it all — yeah, it’s gonna take a long time to get to that point.  But who says we shouldn’t try?

Cheers!

Ana

(Sorry, I had to).

An Open Letter to Everyone

I’m proud to be part of a writing group whose members simply call it ‘the Pack.’  We follow the writer Mirriam Neal (our pack leader), and encourage each other in every endeavor we — either wisely or ridiculously — choose to pursue.  It’s through this wonderful group of girls that I met my best friend.  These awe-inspiring people have taught me the true meaning of friendship and unconditional love, even for those of us that are the most flawed.

We’re an odd bunch.  Any one of us will admit that.  And I think that unorthodox-ness sometimes makes us feel inferior, other, or unwanted.

I recently read a blog post by a very, very dear friend of mine.  The overall feeling I got was that she doesn’t see her full worth.  I look at her and see someone funny, beautiful, and wise beyond her years.  Her soul is inspiring, whether it’s making me giggle or see the world through the beautiful stained-glass window she has created.  She thinks she’s awkward and hard to love, but all the qualities that she thinks make her lesser are what I love most about her.  They make her who she is.  And if someone doesn’t love you for who you are … get rid of them.

I am here to tell you of your importance.  As I’ve come closer to Christ, I’ve truly began to understand the power of love for others.  I may not know you personally, but I testify to you that the qualities you have are not what make you inferior, but what make you special.  Perhaps you have a strange sense of humor.  Perhaps you like to read about neuroscience.  Perhaps you don’t get metaphors.  Perhaps you have difficulty around people.  I don’t care — you are special.  You, just by existing, make the world a better place.

Think about it: where would the world be without you?  I can tell you most assuredly that it would be empty.  Maybe the world would continue to spin, but it would feel the absence.  Have you ever seen the Christmas film It’s a Wonderful Life?  It’s one of my dad’s favorite movies, and I finally watched it last December.  It’s about how a man who feels everyone would be better without him is shown how the world would have been different had he never been born.  In the end, he realizes how many blessings he has, and what a blessing he has been.

You are a blessing.  Maybe you’re a social butterfly, maybe you’re Muslim, maybe you’re a survivor of abuse.  You are unique, wonderful, irreplaceable, inspiring.  I want you to look in the mirror and see what I could see: an amazing individual who deserves every chance.  Someone who is loved.  Someone who deserves to be loved by themselves.

Learn to love yourself.  I love you.  But most importantly, God loves you.  He’s given everything for you, and I want you to know that no matter what you feel, you can always turn to Him.  Maybe you won’t get your answer immediately, but He is there, His hand outstretched, just waiting for you to take it.

Don’t cut.  Don’t cry.  Know that there’s someone out there, even if she doesn’t know you, who prays for you and cares about you.  If a perfect stranger can do that, please do it for yourself, too.

With all the love in my heart,

Ana

(Read this adorable thing I found).

This is exactly how I feel about you. (yes, you!!!) :: if you know the artist who drew this, please let me know as I'd love to give them credit. the site this links to searched but could not find the source and neither could I. xoxo

“Hello. What’s Your Deepest Secret?”

Danger lurks around the bend  I’ve always struggled with character development.  I would get a great idea for a book, put together a cast of characters, give them names, and they would just stare at me with blank expressions, somewhere in their minds accusing me of not creating them properly.  And, as much as I hate to admit it, they were right.

My novel Metamorphosis was my trial-run.  I’d written before, and while my technique was good, the rest was sloppy and inexperienced.  I was working on a novel that had inspired Metamorphosis, and getting bored of it and excited for my new project, I abandoned it and began to write Fraina, one of my principal characters.

She had initially started in my mind as a Mary Sue — yuck, right?  Then her hair got shorn, I saw her petite little mouth always set in this tough line, and I witnessed the lightning-fast, penetrating look in her grey eyes.  She became real.

(My model for Fraina).

So, I hadn’t had much experience creating my own characters well before this.  I had always loved stories, but I had never really finished a novel.  Not even close.  I can’t tell you how many notebooks and Microsoft Word documents are two pages long, the few paragraphs filled with such promise, then abandoned when I realized I had no idea what to do with them.  The best I had done was a historical fiction novel that I really need to get back to and the sweet, pathetic story that helped Metamorphosis come to be.  (They will both get their spotlight.  Eventually).  Then Metamorphosis happened.  I loved the idea, the characters, and no matter how hard it was or how confused I got, I kept pressing forward.

Perhaps there is magic in the world.  Because somehow, miraculously, all the frayed strands wove together into something that I never could have accomplished alone.  Now I know how important it is to get to know your characters before you start your story, but thankfully my team of misfits didn’t kill me as we struggled to come to terms with the others’ idiosyncrasies and shortcomings.  As I wrote, I came to know them.  Brunnhilde and I had a bit where I thought she should be regal and wise, and she wasn’t having it.  She’s regal, yes, but in a fiery, wild way.  She was underdeveloped because we were constantly fighting over who she was — it pays to listen to your characters, because the story became so much better after I admitted that she was right.  (Thank you, Shelby, for helping me with that).

(Reference to Brunnhilde’s wings).

But with as much as I learned, even in the beginning chapters of my book, I still struggled with knowing who I was writing.  I didn’t understand how to accomplish that.  I asked my sisters, my friends, and they all said the same thing: ask them questions.  In desperation, I emailed my friend Mirriam Neal and begged for assistance.  She sent me a list of questions she asks her characters, and I still wasn’t sure exactly how to go about this.

I had a brilliant idea.  (Okay, being Christian, I understand that most of my brilliant ideas have had a little help getting through my often-thick skull, so I am immeasurably grateful for a God who puts up with me).  I simply wrote myself into a scene with them.  I basically had my five protagonists in Metamorphosis covered, but I needed real antagonists.  I knew their names, their species’, but nothing of their souls.  Here’s an example of my interview with Quintessa, the Amazon:

Ana shrugged. “You basically tell me what happens and I write it down. Everyone controls their own fate – I just make it happen, being the writer. But I can’t do it properly until I’ve talked to each of you and gotten to know you better. I’d rather write you honestly and as you’d like to be portrayed. I don’t want to make a mistake, y’know?” She refrained from reminding them that they were the villains, and in order for them to seem as powerful and real as they were, she really needed to interview them. She gestured at Quintessa. “Let’s start with you, babe.”

            One elegant eyebrow curved upward at the pet name, but she waved her hand and her companions rose and reluctantly left the tent, staring over their shoulders suspiciously.

            Ana dragged Takeshi’s chair closer until when she sat down her knees would be but a foot from Quintessa’s. Pulling out her dad’s laptop, she lifted the top and opened Microsoft Word.

            “One sec,” she said absently, frowning down at the screen. “Let me write down what you look like.” Jotting quickly, glancing continually up at the regal leader of the Invaders, she managed to write:

QUINTESSA

THE EPITOME OF ROMAN BEAUTY, EVEN IF HER HISTORY IS GREEK (NOT LIKE SHE KNOWS THAT). HER FACE IS OVAL WITH A PLEASANTLY DISTINCT JAW, RATHER RECTANGULAR. HER NOSE IS FIRM, AND HER EYES ARE LARGE AND BROWN WITH THICK, LONG LASHES. HER EYEBROWS ARE STRANGELY ELEGANT, AND HER CURLY DARK HAIR IS BRAIDED DOWN HER BACK. MAN, THIS WOMAN IS TALL! SHE IS ALSO VERY MUSCULAR, ALMOST LIKE A JAGUAR. OH, AND HER LIPS ARE MEDIUM-FULL.

            “There,” she said finally, “I think I got it. Can you read?”

            Her eyes narrowed. “No.”

            Ana shrugged, secretly relieved. “That’s fine. So, let’s get on with it.”

            “I thought we’d already started,” she said coldly, obviously irritated at the inconvenience Ana was proving to be.

            Ana laughed. “Not formally, no. I have a few questions suggested by a friend and I few I’ll add myself.”

            “Which friend?” Ana could tell that what she really meant was, ‘what does this person know about me?’ She didn’t care about ‘which friend.’

            “She doesn’t know about you,” Ana reassured her, “but she’s got some good interview ideas. So, what do you like to wear?”

            A corner of Quintessa’s mouth twitched, as if she were hiding a smile. “And I thought these would be deep, probing questions that I would be seriously reluctant to answer. This is a bit trivial, don’t you think?”

            “Don’t worry, we’ll get to the difficult ones soon, babe.”

As a result of my interview with a Vampire (ha, ha, I’m so funny!) and other beings, I truly was able to know and understand these individuals.  Despite their villainy, I love them.  I know their — sometimes-questionable — motives, their fears, their joys.  They blossomed into real people, one that someday, could even be called my friends.  (Considering they nearly wanted to murder me for invading their privacy, I doubt that it will be anytime soon).

Very Takeshi. XD

(Takeshi, the Vampire in Metamorphosis and my friend Ashley’s husband).

But even with this technique, sometimes it’s really hard to understand your own ‘babies.’  An idea I had after getting frustrated with Marian’s complete lack of interest in the project she’s the protagonist of was assigning them each a song.  I grew up a dancer, so my second home was backstage.  I have three different categories: Disney, Broadway, and pop.  (Opera’s hard to work with because a lot of it is so specific to the characters and plot of its own production).  My naughty characters were each given a Disney song and lovingly forced to perform it.  I would write from each of their perspectives as they had to belt ‘Cruella de Vil’ and ‘Let It Go.’  I carefully selected the songs that fit each of the characters — ‘Be Prepared’ for Magar, ‘I See the Light’ for Nicky and (an older) Piper — and as they performed, seeing their perspectives, getting used to writing their individuality, I became closer to them and could understand them even more.  Even their rage and irritation towards me for making them do all this helped me get to know them.  (Really, I’m lucky I’m alive.  Hugo wants my head).  They even had ‘I’ve Got a Dream’ as the grand finale — it was awesome!  So right now we’re struggling through the Broadway category, and it’s just as fun.  And Hugo may or may not need a restraining order.

Stages of Choosing A Disney Movie to Watch | Oh My Disney...@Jennifer Edgington Curley I feel like this was a way of life when we wanted to watch ANY movie in school...

(This — this right here is the definition of magic).

These are some of the ideas I’ve had to get to know my characters from the inside out.  They have become completely real to me.  I feel like they’re my friends, like they’re my children.  I love them very, very much — simply for being who they are.  I am so proud I get to share my life with them.

I genuinely hope that if you struggle with character development, that you can find ways to come to know your people.  Perhaps this blog post will help, perhaps it won’t.  But I know that you can find a way that will be true to you, your writing style, and your characters.  They will be some of your best friends.

Cheers!

Ana