25 December 2011

happy christmas

"Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee
O Isreal."

"Fall on your knees!
O hear the angel voices:
'O night divine!
O night when Christ was born!'"

"Gloria! In excelsis deo!"

"Yea, Lord, we greet Thee,
born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be glory given;
Word of the Father, now
in flesh appearing."

14 December 2011

bookie wooks

I have just finished The Stand by Stephen King, an enthralling 1164 page apocalyptic novel with supernatural elements. Like most King novels, the build-up was much better than the conclusion that was built up to, but I enjoyed it all the same. It was much better than IT, anyway.

Like most people with terrible attention spans, I always have a zillion books on the go at once. Right now, minus the one I just finished, I am currently digging into:

- Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (a complete and unabridged translation by Signet classics)
- I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison (I'm on the last short story!)
- Dawn by Octavia E. Butler (borrowed from Lizzy, who read it for school)
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (will it be as great as the Swedish film?)
- Saga of the Swamp Thing, Book 1 by Alan Moore (Moore's take on this comic book series)

These lovelies are pictured above in a tantalizing stack, flanked by a delicious pot of mango tea. I look forward to a wonderful afternoon.

10 December 2011

Dec 10

- an entire pot of Fortnum & Mason's Earl Gray, all by myself
- writing about the extent of justification for Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia
- working on a timeline (the evolution of classical liberalism)
- listening to Amy Winehouse
- making curtains for Dad's office
- planning a 2-3 kilometer walk (for later tonight)
- contemplating The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and gingerbread

09 December 2011

I love Alan Rickman.

Need I say more?

If he isn't hatin' on Harry Potter as the Potions master of Hogwarts, than he's hatin' on Robin Hood as the Sheriff of Nottingham. If that's not enough hatin', than he hates on our beloved John McLane as a German terrorist, or on Sweeney Todd as a daughter-stealing Judge. Basically, he is every excellent movie-villain ever.

A surprisingly common characteristic found in standard Good vs. Evil films, is the attempt to keep the villain somewhat likable --or, to use more "industry-relevant" terms, they try to "keep the villain human." This means that filmmakers don't want audiences hating the villain too much, because this can make the film seem too dark, too unpleasant, or too fake. An example of this working well can be seen in the original Star Wars trilogy, through the iconic villain Darth Vader. Sure, he was "evil," but once you get to The Return of the Jedi you discover his "good side" - or, the side of him that remained human - and he becomes a more sympathetic and likable character. This device is often found in books, too, and I think it's one of the cleverest traits an author/filmmaker can include in their villainous characters. Often, the films (and books) I enjoy the most include evil-but-likable (human) villains. And, if I were to write you a list of these villains, you would find several Alan Rickman characters close to the top.

 C'mon, you can't tell me you didn't cry during the Deathly Hallows.

Movie-wise, there are few things more effective than a well-performed villain. Sometimes, an actor can redeem an originally bland or terribly-written character through the power of a good performance. This is one of Alan Rickman's keenest talents. Recently, I got around to watching Rickman's cult-status, villainous performance opposite the forgettable/bland/annoying Kevin Costner in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. This film is tiresome, long, and annoying, but Rickman's hilarious performance as the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham was hugely enjoyable and nearly redeemed the extra-bland performance Costner gave as Robin Hood. (This is a snatch of this delightfully over-the-top performance, for your viewing pleasure.)

Seriously, when a villain declares, "...and call-off Christmas!" as the concluding factor in his evil scheme, you know you've found yourself an epic villain. And he could only have been played by Alan Rickman.

Also, I just might have a thing for scary dudes in beards.

Rickman's first big-time film role was as the terrorist-villain Hans Gruber in the first Die Hard film, opposite action-star Bruce Willis. To this day, Hans Gruber is considered to be one of the greatest villains of film history; not to mention one of the downright best villains ever. I can tell you honestly that Rickman - not the screenwriter! - made that happen.

The main trouble with action-movie villains is that they are often boring, typical, and downright hatable. With Rickman's Hans Gruber, this is not the case. Though you egg Bruce Willis's character on through the entire film, you still watch Rickman carry out his evilness with equal enjoyment. As a result, Die Hard is one of the best films of this genre that I have ever seen.

*As a sidenote, I will add that Die Hard, being set during Christmas Eve, is also my favorite Christmas movie of all time, and I've forced my family to watch it every year since first seeing it. My father enjoys this tradition, but mum and Lana prefer It's A Wonderful Life, hands down.

Who isn't overcome with Christmas cheer when they look into that face?

Surprisingly, Rickman has also seen his share of romantic, standard, and black comedies; lust-thrillers, parodies, and even musicals (most famously as the corrupt judge in Tim Burton's Sweeny Todd). In fact, it can be deduced upon examining Rickman's various performances that he really isn't a serious guy. Almost every role he's played has some kind of comedic or soft-hearted edge, making whatever character he plays much more interesting and agreeable.


However, I must conclude by saying that his best role by far has been as Severus Snape. As often as this has already been said, he was just too perfect for it. In fact, Alan Rickman was J. K. Rowling's personal choice to portray her "favorite character;" and she even let him in on spoilers concerning Snape's character very early on in the Harry Potter films. So basically, Alan Rickman is probably the only person on earth to have found out about Snape-spoilers so early; and frankly, he's the only person on that same earth to have deserved such a priveledge. Apparantly, even Rowling thought so, too.

In the end, then, we have discovered two things: 1) Alan Rickman is epic, and 2) Laura found this fact worthy enough to base an entire Cracked-style blog post around it. All she can say, is that she hopes you enjoyed the post, and that you will come to further enjoy the subject matter himself.

Best. Pout. Ever.

Recommended Alan Rickman films:
2011 - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II 
2008 - Bottle Shock  
2007 - Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
1999 - Galaxy Quest
1995 - Sense and Sensibility
1991 - Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves  
1988 - Die Hard

07 December 2011

one week in

Last week, Dec 1, we decorated the house for Christmas. It was great fun. As usual, I was in charge of setting up the tree itself, mum put on the lights, Lana set up the candles and the ornaments, and Bing sang to us about holly jolliness as we did so. Christmas preparation is the most delightful tradition of my household.

The above picture is a shot of the coffee table beside my favorite film-watching chair. Pictured, you can see my Charlie Brown Christmas tree, a mug of chai tea, and the last ball of my second scarf (its pearly-pink, extremely soft, and will be gifted to my Grandmother). I have a plum scarf to whip up after Grandma's is finished and I am still considering whether or not to swap Lana's pomegranite one with the plum? I'm invisioning the latter to go better with the eyes of that sister of mine... but we'll see.

Anyways, I am very excited for Christmas! I've already had three peppermint hot chocolates from Starbucks this month (a seasonal drink I wait all year for), finished all of my Christmas shopping, and I've been singing The First Noel and Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas to myself ever since the tree went up. I think it's going to be a wonderful Yuletide this year (I don't know, but that may have something to do with the fact that I can drink acoholic egg nog at last?) and my cousins from British Columbia are coming over for it for the first time since our ages added a number. There will be much hijinks going down this year, folks!

04 December 2011


Origami stars are great for any and every occasion. This one just happens to be Christmas.