Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Remember Who the Enemy Is

We cross the room, but in the doorway, Haymitch's voice stops us. "Katniss, when you're in the arena," he begins. Then he pauses. He's scowling in a way that makes me sure I've already disappointed him.

"What?" I ask defensively. 

"You just remember who the enemy is," Haymitch tells me. "That's all. Now go on. Get out of here."

- Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins 
Chapter 18



I've been recalling this scene a lot lately. It's a moment through the rest of the book Katniss has to keep reminding herself of and she doesn't completely understand it while she's in the arena for the second time. I think it's advice we all need to remember from time to time.

Our society has been in an uproar over so many things lately. Racism, sex scandals, terrorism, religion... need I go on? We've been trying to process all of these events happening, figuring out why, getting defensive, and we point fingers at why and who's fault it is. The witch from Into the Woods voice rings in my head "Of course what matters is to blame. Somebody to blame. If that's what you enjoy placing the blame if that's the aim give me the blame."


I know I've done it. In the heat of the moment you get angry and type things or say things because you're trying to sort through it all and then end up saying things you might not mean. Attacking somsone out of our pain and our anger thinking "if only they get justice!" or "we need to get rid of this person or this thing" and it will make it all okay again.

We forget who the enemy is.

Not long ago on Tumblr I saw a post comparing riots to The Hunger Games and how we should support those causing the riots. Which, maybe we should, or maybe we shouldn't. I don't know. But, a lot of people forget how in the Hunger Games books, Katniss still had compassion for the citizens of the Capitol. Because they weren't the enemy. 

Those who shoot others, who riot, who destroy, who uprise, who hurt, who abuse, are just people. Not that there shouldn't be justice or anything like that - of course there should be. But it's easy to dehumanize them isn't it? They're still people.

Hank Green made a video a few weeks ago about his favorite feelings. He mentioned how one of them wasn't seeing other people fail, even if they deserve it or you don't like them. You think it'll make you feel good, but it doesn't. It's just sad. (You really should watch the video, he says it way better than I do. Click here.) Because they're people.

They aren't the enemy. 

Who is the enemy? Who do we blame then? 

Racicm. Ignorence. Hate. Being narrow minded. Corruption. 

And dare I say it? Satan.

I'm not one to talk about Satan and such a whole lot. Bob Goff explains it best in his book Love Does. "When I think about satan, my thoughts go to how Jesus interacted with him in the desert. Jesus spoke with him for just a few seconds and then sent him away. Satan was a manipulator who wanted to control God, but Jesus had a relationship with God that satan didn't understand, and Jesus had no problem telling him off and getting rid of him. I think we should do the same. That's all I have to say about satan. He gets too much airtime already." 

But ultimately, he's the enemy. 

I'm not saying we can't get angry and justice shouldn't be served when people do terrible things. We people can do awful things.

But we're all still people. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Ah, The Good Old Days of Blogging

Do you remember the good old days of blogging when we had random awards and tags and we would nominate our favorite bloggers for them? It was a fun, simple time, without sponsors, ads, Pintrest, and Google Reader was a thing. We just blogged because it was fun and if someone happened to earn money from it, good for them! But for most of it, that just wasn't even on our radar.

Good times, right?

Well... I got nominated for the Liebster Award by Angie over at A Life More Kawaii!

It makes me think of those days of blogging and how much I miss that time period for blogging. Also, I didn't have a topic for today so this is perfect timing!

Here's what you do:


  1. Link back to who nominated you. 
  2. Answer the Qs the nominator asked you. 
  3. Nominate 11 other bloggers (preferably with less than 200 followers)
  4. Create 11 Qs for the 11 bloggers in step 3. 
  5. Notify your nominees!
These are the questions Angie asked me!
1. Quick! There's a zombie outside. What household item do you brandish as your weapon?!

Eek! Zombie???? We all know I'd probably be the first to die in a zombie apocalypse. Let's be honest. But to try and defend myself... (looking around the kitchen)... I'll attempt to throw a wooden chair at it.

2. What would your RPG class be? 

So, I totally had to Google what that meant. LOL. It's Role Playing Game Class. I actually never really got into role playing! A friend of mine in high school tried to get me into Dungeons and Dragons, and I remember having a lot of fun. But for some reason I never continued. You'd think loving theatre and story-telling so much, I would have been all about it. But nope. Therefore, I'm not sure!

3. What is your dream pet?

My dog Bandit of course! But seriously, I just love dogs. Dogs are the best. I'd go for something more exotic, but there is no way I'd be able to tame them. So... dogs. 

4. Do you have a favorite superstition? 

If you say the name of the Scottish play in a theatre - I will go crazy on you. I was never a believer, but then... OH BUT THEN! When I was in an outdoor show of Romeo and Juliet, our young Romeo said it and we were rained out the first night. The SAME ACTOR said it AGAIN when we were doing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and the Narrator lost her voice AND the jail for Joseph broke and almost hurt everyone on stage during a performance. 

A couple months later, I was co-directing a show and an actor said it before a performance... I flipped out and made them step outside, spit on the ground, and spin around three times. (That's how it goes away.) Because.... NOPE. 

5. What color represents you?

Pink!

6. What is your favorite myth?

Ooooooooo. Good question! I've actually always been fascinated by Greek Mythology. 

7. If you could perform one act in a circus, what act would you perform? 

I always felt like the tightrope walkers were so pretty and graceful!

8. Who is your current favorite fictional character?

Just ONE?????? Well, you know, Harry Potter, obviously. But of all time other than him, I think Snow White. It's my favorite Disney princess and my favorite fairy tale ever since I was two. So, we'll go with her.

9. Stealing this from Joie... What Pok√©mon are you?

Sigh... I'm a failure at my generation because I know nothing about Pokemon. Seriously, all I know is "I choose you Pikachu!" 

Seriously. That's it. So... Pikachu?

10. If you could bend one element (air, earth, water, fire, energy), which would you bend?

And another thing I don't know much about! :-( But the idea of bending energy sounds awesome.

11. What is your favorite moment, so far, from this year?

Oooooo. That's an AWESOME question!

The first thought that came to my mind was New Years Eve. I went to a Frozen themed party in Boystown and it was one of the best New Years Eve celebrations I've ever been to. Seriously, you haven't lived until you've belted Let it Go with an entire gay bar. 

I also FINALLY saw the musical Once at the Oriental downtown a couple of weeks ago and it was just so perfect and lovely... I wish I could watch it every single day. 

Now for MY questions:

1.  What TV show are you LOVING to binge watch right now?
2. Tell me about your dream home.
3. What's the best book you've read so far this year?
4. If you could run away and live in another country for a year, where would you go? Even name the exact city if you know!
5. I'm hungry. If I'm coming over to your place for lunch, what are we going to have?
6. Tell me about, or show me, your favorite photo you've taken so far this year and why it's your favorite.
7. What was your favorite part of summer when you were a kid?
8. If you could live inside of a movie, which one would it be?
9. What vacation do you wish you could repeat?
10. We complain about blogging a lot - what do you still LOVE about?
11. And I'm stealing from Angie because this question was just so good- what has been your favorite moment this year so far?

Okay, time to nominate other people!

Okay, I'm just going to nominate some of my favorites - if you want to participate in pretending it's the early blogging days, that's awesome. If not, that's cool too cause I know several of my nominees probably have their whole blogging schedule down and know what they're doing. lol

Michelle from Wide Open Spaces
Brittany from Pines and Palmettos
Sandy from Just Sandy
Amanda from Musical Poem
Amber from Mr. Thomas and Me
Jessica from A Coccoon of Books
Nadine from East &
Dayna from Princess Burlap
Bonnie from The Life of Bon

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Finding What Has Value

One of the realities of being an adult is that money is important.

I know, shocker. If you need to sit down or take a breather while taking in that information, I understand. The remainder of this blog post will be still be here when you're done processing.

Saying money is important isn't artistic, it makes me feel like I'm giving into "the man," and bowing down to evil corporate America. In case you missed the memo, I got a new job recently at a hotel. I don't know the rules with talking about work in social media and stuff so I won't say which hotel. But let's just say... I work for a pretty big hotel franchise which I'm pretty sure EVERYONE has heard of and I kind of feel like I'm in a forever episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. Which, makes me feel like I'm selling my soul to "the man."

Then I remember "Oh wait, I really like my job. I think I'm good at it. And I get awesome perks."

Then I'm okay with it.


And being in an ongoing episode of The Suite Life isn't too bad either.

Let's be honest - if we say having money (at least some) isn't important, then we're kidding ourselves. I'm not saying you have to be rich and have money rolling around everywhere. But you know, paying off debt and being able to pay bills and get food and have a roof over your head etc. all requires money.

Unless you live in the wildnerness or something. Then that's awesome. More power to you. I wish I could be that wild and carefree. But... I like the Internet, coffee, books, and indoor pluming. So, wildnerness living isn't in the cards for me.

Because of this, landing a good job and getting a decent size paycheck becomes a major priority for people. It makes sense. A large portion of our lives is dedicated to working, finding work, getting a degree for a specific job, getting ready for work. Our schedules revolve around the ones our bosses make for us. (Unless you're one of those lucky people who get to make their own.) As sad as it may sound, for a big portion of us, our lives revolve around our jobs.

It's so easy for everything to be about what we get paid to do.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw this quote on Twitter:

Don't be seduced into thinking that which does not make a profit is without value. - Arthur Miller


Isn't it so easy to lose sight of this?

This past month, I've had to do a lot of adjusting of my schedule and figuring out my priorities for how I'm going to spend my time on. I'm so used to working a part-time schedule where I work right away in the morning, adjusting to a full-time schedule where I tend to work more in the afternoon/evening, it's been difficult to figure out how to balance everything.

The other day, I was talking with one of my co-workers and I mentioned how I really value my free-time. He looked at me like I was a crazy person and joked, "Free time? What's that?" 

I was almost embaressed to admit I cared about having free time. But, it's true. As much as my job is a priority for me, so is my free time. Because that's when I get to see my family and friends. That's when I get to write, work on my blog, make videos, be in community theatre, and practice ukulele. With this new job, I have great perks for staying at hotels when I travel. If I don't have free time - I can't use those awesome perks.

Sometimes I'm embaressed to talk to people about my blog or my YouTube channel or my writing because I don't make money off of them. I'm not a big blogger or YouTuber, and most likely never will be. And I'm okay with that. But, I feel like there's this expectation when you talk to people about it that it needs to be really popular and/or you need to make money off of it in order for it to be worth your time.

But that's not true. 

As important as earning an income is, it's not the only important thing. 

It's good to have hobbies and to do things you don't necessairly get paid to do. They're important because it feeds your soul. Sometimes, I feel like there are certain things where if I were to get paid to do it, the thing would be ruined for me. Because then it would become all about how I can promote myself and earn more and do more. 

For some people, making their hobby their career is the perfect option. Which is awesome! There are some people who can making their hobby into a living and love every single moment. 

I don't think I'm one of those people.

Although, yes, someday I'd love to have a published novel. But, I also know it's incredibly rare to make a living off of just writing. Most authors have another job in addition to their writing. I'm okay with this. 

My other hobbies though? No, I don't get paid to do them. But that's okay. I kind of prefer it that way.

Also, spending time with people doesn't earn a profit either. Does that mean it's not importnat? Absolutely not! We need to invest in our relationships with people around us too. 

So, yes. My co-workers might think I'm crazy for valuing my free time and not jumping at every single opportunity to work overtime. I will at times though of course! Because I enjoy what I do and support the hotel where I work. It's all about finding a balance though. I'm absolutely dedicated to my job and will do my best at it and work hard. 

But I'm dedicated to those things which don't give me a paycheck too, and that's okay.

Then over on YouTube in case you missed it:


Friday, June 5, 2015

Speak Up!: Picnic

It's time to link-up with Amber and Annie for Speak Up! We link-up the first Friday of every month with vlogs based on the topic. This month we're talking about: If We Were on a Picnic.




Next month we're talking about Independence!

Go ahead and film your own videos, and check out Amber and Annie's blogs and everyone else linking up!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Theatre-Going 101

Last night, I spent a wonderful evening with two of my friends to go see the musical Once. It came on Broadway the same season as Newsies and won best musical at the Tony awards that year. When I went to New York to see Newsies, I would have loved to see Once as well. However, my bank account wouldn't let me see more than one show at a time. It was quite sad.

Don't you just love my bad Instagram photography?
The show was completely lovely, and wonderful, and bitter-sweet, and perfect. I'll be having dreams of musicians in Dublin for the next several weeks I'm sure.

As I was getting ready to go last night, I was thinking since I go out to the theatre so often, and I've been in theatre productions for so long, maybe I should give some tips for theatre-going for those who might be new at it.

What to Wear

I'm not going to lie, I'm a little bit of a theatre snob and a firm believer in looking nice when you go to see a show. You don't have to dress in a formal gown and a tux or anything like that. But, whenever I go I try to do a little more than just jeans and a t-shirt. Especially if you're going to classy theatre in the city. It's a bit more of a formal occasion than simply going out to the movies. Depending on the show and location, you can dress a bit more casually. If I'm going to a community theatre show or something along those lines, I might dress down a bit more. But, I still try my best to look put together out of respect for the performers. They're doing their best for us, so we should do the same for them. Here is what my friends and I wore last night:


See? Nothing outrageously fancy. But still put together and done well. I would also suggest bringing a light sweater or jacket just in case. Even in the middle of summer theatres can get cold from time to time.

What to Bring

When going to the theatre, I try to pack light. The rows and seats can get narrow and you may not have room for a gigantic purse. Here is what I brought last night:


My purse was on the smaller end but still had plenty of room to keep my stuff. It was a vintage Nine West (well... I think it was vintage. It used to be my grandma's) and had a small mirror inside which was handy in case I had to touch up my makeup. Inside was:

- My pink glitter pen/stylus. You never know when you need a pen!
- My cell phone (turned off during the show! More on that later.).
- Lip balm because my lips are always chapped.
- Lip stick for touch-ups.
- Binoculars because I usually end up in the back. While usually visibility is still great, sometimes it's nice to see the actors faces up close.
- Wallet with my ID, credit cards, cash, etc. What if you want to buy souvenirs?

And don't forget your tickets! Mine were not pictured because one of my friends had purchased them and were holding them for us.

Tickets

Let's be honest here - going to the theatre can get expensive. If you're on a tight budget like me, you need to learn how to work the system a bit. Even sitting in the back at a show, tickets can still cost you up to $40+. 

First, I learn to prioritise which shows I want to see. Unless I purchased season tickets for Broadway in Chicago, there is no way I would be able to see every single musical which came my way. When I see the ads for what's going to be in town, I make a mental list of the ones I know I HAVE to see and be sure I have money set aside for when they come.

It also helps to know people in the business and how to go around extra Ticketmaster fees. A lot of shows will have tickets you can purchase at the box office directly and you can avoid those. If my friend hadn't picked ours up in person, our tickets would have cost $51 instead of $40. Also, look out for deals. I follow Broadway in Chicago on social media and they'll have contests, a monthly deal of $25 on the 25th for certain shows, and some shows will have a raffle before the performance starts for great seats. You also can google for discount tickets and see what you can find on other sites. 

Just remember, you do sometimes get what you pay for. A few months ago I went to see Beauty and the Beast, and I got back row tickets for $18. Usually, even if you sit in the back, you can still see everything so I didn't mind. Then, when I arrived, I realised why they were so cheap. We were in the middle of a noisy Jr. High group and one of our seats was on a step which made it very uncomfortable!

Also, if you're hard-core about theatre or you see in a certain season you want to see almost every show, buying season tickets would be a smart choice.

Then of course, don't forget to support your local community and school theatres! Tickets tend to be less expensive, they tend to do shows which are tried and true crowd-pleasers, and you'll be supporting people in your own hometown. I'll be honest, when I lived in Missouri, the local Jr. High musical was almost always one of the best shows in town! Those kids were so talented!

Etiquette

Okay... here is where more of the snob in me comes out.

- PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONE. Last night there were one or two moments when the show was so quiet and lovely and perfect - then I heard someone's ring tone and it ruined the moment. Even if your phone is on silent, don't take it out because just like at the movie theatre, it's very distracting to everyone around you. Sometimes even the actors can see you on your phone! Can you imagine being on stage singing your heart out and out of the corner of your eye you see an audience member texting? Also, if you can, turn it completely off. Sometimes cell phones can mess with the sound system (especially if it's a lower-budget theatre) and that throws everyone off, 

By all means, tag, Tweet, share, take selfies, etc. In fact, you might even get a like or share from the theatre, or if you're really lucky - one of the actors! Just not during the performance itself.

- DO NOT SING ALONG WITH THE SONGS. Yes, I know this might be your favourite show of all time ever. I get it. It's hard to not sing along. But you, along with everyone else, paid to see the professionals perform. If this is hard for you, go ahead and get the soundtrack before you arrive and jam out to your hearts content before and after the show. Or if you want to sing a couple lyrics during intermission that's fine too. Just not during the performance. This goes for lip-syncing too. You might think you're not distracting anyone because you're not making sound, but you are.

- DON'T TALK DURING THE SHOW. Again, it's like going to the movies. Does anyone want to be at a movie with someone who talks the whole time? Nope. Granted, sometimes the nature of the show might allow for some audience interaction. When I went to go see Motown the Musical, one of my favorite parts was how the audience reacted with their "mmmmmHHHHHMmmmmms" and "AMENS!" So, be sure to read the audience and the show to know how to react appropriately. 

- ARRIVE EARLY. I like getting to the theatre a little early for a few reasons. If you're late, the ushers may not let you in right away. When I went to see Les Miserables, we were running late, and we had to watch the entire prologue on a screen because they wouldn't let us to our seats yet. Then, when we finally sat down we disturbed everyone else around us, and it took a little while to get adjusted and we weren't able to enjoy the beginning of the show as much as we would have liked. Or, at least that's how I felt. I can't speak for everyone else.

You also might miss something awesome if you get there late. A perfect example was when I went to see Once last night. The bar on stage was open for patrons to buy drinks and the performers were playing music as everyone was getting their drinks and sitting down. Then, they transitioned from there to the show, and it was one of the best beginnings of a show I've ever seen. If I had arrived late, or even "just on time" I would have missed it. 

Also, if you get there early you have time to go to the bathroom and stop by the merchandise table. It's annoying when people get up in the middle of a performance to do those things. ;-)

- PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE DURING CURTAIN CALL. I know, I know, you want to beat the crowds and traffic. I get it! But curtain call is very important for theatre. This is your time to thank the actors for their performance, but also their opportunity to thank you for coming. Can you imagine being a performer and putting your whole heart out on the stage and when you go to take your bow you see people leaving? How heart breaking! Even beyond that, more and more shows are adding extras at the end where they do an encore song, or a mash-up of all of the numbers. You don't want to miss that do you?

So, those are my tips for going to the theatre. Anything I missed? Anything you'd like to add?

And in case you missed it, here are the videos I put up on YouTube this week:


Monday, June 1, 2015

Hidden Huntress- Book Review


Hidden Huntress
The Malediction Trilogy Book Two
Author: Danielle L Jensen
Publisher: Angry Robot Books
Release Date: June 2, 2015 (TOMORROW!)

Basic Summary:

Hidden Huntress is the second book in The Malediction Trilogy  by Danielle L Jensen. The first book was Stolen Songbird which I reviewed here. I enjoyed Stolen Songbird, so I was excited for the release of this book. Thankfully, I was able to get it as an eARC to review it again. Cecille is now living with her mother in Trianon as an opera singer, but secretly her purpose is to find the witch Anushka. While Tristan is still in Trollus being tortured by his father and dealing with the fallout of the events of Stolen Songbird.

If you plan on reading this book I will try my best to not include spoilers.

What I Liked:

In an odd way, I enjoyed the first half of the book when Cecile and Tristan are separated. They were together so much in the first book, which was wonderful since it was a love story, I liked seeing how they functioned individually as a characters. This didn't take away from my being glad at their reunion later in the book. 

I also, again in an odd way, liked it when Cecile and Tristan argued. While I'm not happy when the characters are unhappy, I appreciate showing fiction couples having to figure out problems in their relationship. Every couple has spats, arguments, and disagreements. When these are shown in fiction, I appreciate it because it makes it more real. 

I liked how when Cecile returned to her world, everything with her family and friends wasn't simply "We're so happy you're home! Everything is normal now!" There were consequences to her being gone for so long and her family and friends had their own problems to deal with because of everything which happened in Stolen Songbird. It added more layers to all Ceciele had to deal with in the story.


What I Didn't Like:

I didn't enjoy this book nearly as much as I did the first one. Hidden Huntress had a severe middle of the story syndrome. While it is the middle of a trilogy, and therefore needs the book ends of the first and third books, it still didn't have much of it's own story. The sole purpose of this book was transitioning from the beginning of the trilogy to the conclusion in the next book. 

Whenever I read a second book in a series, especially in a trilogy, I expect it to step up the game. New characters, new elements of the world, and then taking all of the rules set in the first book and breaking them. While there were a couple of new characters, there wasn't much else to expand the world of Trollus and Trianon. The end of the story was exciting, but there wasn't much building up to the end.  When in the middle of the story it is difficult as a writer to keep it interesting, and when looking at this book as the middle in the grand scheme of the trilogy, it is understandable. But as a book on it's own, this would never stand. 

Much of the book also felt rushed, while also having nothing going on. It was an odd feeling while reading. Then, when something major did happen, I didn't feel anything and it happened so quickly I didn't even comprehend what was going on. 

The end, also, was rushed, and ended abruptly. When I was reading the last chapter and it was over it threw me off balance. While it's fine to have an ending with a cliffhanger or be more mysterious or obscure, it's another to have it abrupt and barely end at all. 

Overall Thoughts:

I was disappointed in this book. I enjoyed Stolen Songbird so much and thought it was such a fun twist on a Beauty and the Beast story and wanted to know what happened next. While there were elements I enjoyed and I was glad to be connected to the characters again, the plot fell short. This book easily could have been divided up into the first and third books (I'm assuming, even though the third book hasn't been released yet) because there simply hadn't been enough story in this one. It was an odd mix of feeling rushed while also having nothing happening. Although, because I am invested in the characters, I do plan on reading the conclusion of the trilogy.

I gave this book three stars on Goodreads

I received this book as an eARC from NetGally.com in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.