Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Last Goodbye?

Greetings again, dear friends.
 
Last night, I had the immense pleasure of attending a midnight showing of the third and final installment of the beloved Hobbit trilogy, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies.

You know me.  I am the very epitome of a fangirl.  I spent several hours after the film spazzing about this and that and everything beyond and in-between.  Smaug’s siege and destruction.  The battle scenes.  The one-on-ones.  The wraiths.  Elrond.  Everything about Thranduil.  Bard.  Legolas (despite the fact that he is a sassypants show-off like his father).  Those rams large enough to ride on up the side of a mountain.  Kiliel (I SHIP IT).  Bilbo's little nose twitch thing.  And lots of other things that aren’t coming to my mind as I write this.  Pretty much the whole movie.  It’s been a while, oddly enough, since I so heavily abused caps lock, exclamation points, and nonsensical emoticons.

After my inner (and outer…) fangirl calmed down to a stable state, however, I realized what my true emotions were in regards to the film.

            Tauriel: ‘…Why does it hurt so much?’
            Thranduil: ‘Because it was real.’

I have ventured to many distant lands.  Each one has a special place in my heart and mind that is a permanent part of my being.  Middle Earth holds some of my particularly fondest memories.

The point is that The Battle of Five Armies, another end to another fantastic adventure, will continue to haunt me with sentimentality and nostalgia for many years to come.

When The Return of the King released, I was still quite young and a bit naïve in the ways of the world, but now that I’m an adult and am burdened with my cares and experiences, I’ve learned to value these childhood fantasies and to approach them in a very different way than I did before.  The wonderful thing is, that I can always relive them.

          “There and back again.”

As I mentioned in my previous post, I tend to judge films very subjectively.  That’s just how I am.  I wouldn’t necessarily call myself my Tolkien purist, but I am in agreement that this movie is in no way perfect in relation to the book.  There are so many things that I could pick at and whine about, but honestly, this movie was so epic that I feel like I can overlook those things quite easily, for the most part.  There are several things that I wish weren’t left out and certain things that I would change if I could, but that’s not what this post is about so I won’t go there.

The book is the book and the movie is the movie.

This movie made me feel so...inspired.  As an artist and a writer, this is a most beautiful feeling.  Battle of the Five Armies was entertaining from start to finish, with nonstop action and continuous development of both character and story.  I’m quite surprised, honestly, how much was covered in just two hours and a half.  I am impressed.

It goes without saying that this is something very near and dear to me.  What I have been able to articulate and put together to form this blog post barely scratches the surface of my thoughts on this topic.  There is so much more that could be said.

            “To these memories I will hold
            With your blessing I will go
            To turn at last to paths that lead home
            And though where the road then takes me
            I cannot tell
            We came all this way
            But now comes the day
            To bid you farewell.”

            —“The Last Goodbye,” Billy Boyd

Despite previously declaring that Battle of the Five Armies would be his last film within the Tolkien universe, director Peter Jackson recently stated that he would “probably” be up for another journey in Middle Earth.  Mr. Jackson, I’d definitely be up for that, too.

So is this really the last goodbye?

Personally, I’m going to hope that this isn’t the case. I think that the greatest stories are the ones that are never-ending; the ones that will forever be immortalized within the hearts of those who believe that there are much higher things in this existence, even if some of those things are just in our imaginations.

 Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate,
And though I oft have passed them by,
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.”

“The Road Goes Ever On,” J.R.R. Tolkien


Sunday, December 14, 2014

NOVEMBER FAVORITES ♥

Hello again~  Well.  November flew right by due to my sky-high pile of projects… and December certainly snuck up on me.  I can hardly believe that Christmas is in two weeks!  *flails*  I’ve only just started gift shopping!

…But anyway.  Before it’s too late, I wanted to post some favorites from last month.  Because I was so busy, I didn’t keep a list like I usually do, so I’ve just covered a few of the basics for November.


Music
Kyuhyun – At Gwanghwamun

As elaborated upon in my previous post, Cho Kyuhyun, my favorite South Korean vocalist (and quite possibly my favorite vocalist of all time), released his first album At Gwanghwamun, during the month of November.  I managed to snag a copy of it as an early Christmas present to myself, and I have to say that I am impressed—and very much in love with this album.
          You have heard me talk about Kyuhyun’s voice before.  It’s just beautiful.  There are no words that can do it justice.  This album perfectly highlights everything that I love about his warm, distinctive vocals.  His voice was definitely made for the ballads that make up most of this album, but Kyu hints at his versatility with the fun, folk-like track “Flying, Deep In The Night.” 
          I love all of the tracks on this album, but if I had to pick a favorite, “Eternal Sunshine” would be the easy choice.  This absolutely gorgeous song was composed by Japanese pianist Yiruma, who also plays the instrument in the song.  …Oh goodness.  I cried when I heard this song for the first time because it is musical perfection.
          The jacket design for this album is beautiful, too!  It’s simple yet elegant.  The theme is autumn, and I have to say that the photoshoot is one of the best that I’ve seen in Asian music, at least in my opinion.
          But ya’ll know that I’m totally not biased.



Film
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I

“Are you
Are you
Coming to the tree?
Where I told you to run, so we’d both be free?
Strange things did happen here
No stranger would it be
If we met up at midnight in the hanging tree.”

—“The Hanging Tree”

If it’s one aspect of film—or any type of entertainment, really—that I particularly enjoy, it’s how likely I am to think about it over and over again even long after the viewing experience.  I find that if a movie or book continues to “haunt” me, that work has succeeded in its mission of making an impression on my mind.
          Mockingjay Part I is definitely one of these works.  I’ve heard mixed reviews on it, but based on my personal response, I think it’s a fine film.  It’s deep, fascinating, and eerily beautiful.  It’s a movie with a lot to say about society and the human condition.  But that is a whole another blog post in itself, and I’m too lazy to go there. Ha ha ha.
          What impressed me most about this movie was how it dealt with the incredibly dense storyline of the Mockingjay book almost effortlessly.  It explains everything well without being too explicit.  It leaves what should be left to the minds of those in the audience.  I have to admit that the first time I read the book, I got about halfway through before I realized that I had no idea what was going on, so I went back to page one!  As I said, the film adaptation clarified the complex events in an effective manner.


Product
CéraVe Renewing SA Lotion

As the winter chill has crept in and settled, my problem skin has been demanding even more care.  During this time of the year, it is of the utmost importance that I keep my psoriasis in check.  One product that I acquired recently was this lotion from dermatologist-based brand CéraVe.  It’s a salicylic acid (SA) lotion and according to the packaging it “provides patented controlled release of ingredients to help exfoliate, soften, and smooth extremely dry, rough, and bumpy skin.”  I’ve recently started a healthier diet with exercise and out of all the products that I’m currently using to help ease my external psoriasis symptoms, this one has helped the most to prevent scaling, calm redness, and heal my patches.  I apply it three times daily: after cleansing in the morning, when I get home from work in the afternoon, and at night right before I go to bed.  It has worked wonders for me!




Book
Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist

This was a novel that I had to read for my “Monsters in Literature” course this past term, and I have to say, out of all the books I’ve read this year, this one disturbed me the most.  And by disturbed I mean that the story broke the monotony of my normal reading material in an abrupt and unorthodox way.
          What’s it about? Zombies.  No, don’t make that face.  And forget about what modern entertainment has told you about zombies.  Handling the Undead is very, very different, and would probably shock a follower of series such as The Walking Dead.
          The crux is that Lindqvist takes quite the opposite approach to the undead, which he calls the “reliving.”  Instead of portraying the reliving as violent and terrifying, the author chooses to emphasize their human value and focuses on the individual emotion of and interpersonal relationships between their still-living family, friends, and neighbors.  The three main storylines take place parallel to each other and at several points they do intersect, but each character in the story stands for different things and thus has differing motives for doing what they choose to do in regards to the reliving.  They are written in a very thoughtful, intelligent manner.


          Bottom line: the novel is dark, brooding, and eerily fascinating.  You’ll never forget this one.  Because of the subject matter, though, this book certainly isn’t for everyone.  Read up on it and decide for yourself.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Cho Kyuhyun The First Mini Album 'At Gwanghwamun'


That's right, Super Junior's Cho Kyuhyun, a.k.a., quite possibly my favorite vocalist, is making his solo debut with a mini album and a concert!  Words cannot describe my joy and excitement at hearing this news.  Even now, about a week later, I simply cannot even begin to articulate my feelings.  I fell in love with Kyuhyun's warm, clear voice a year ago, and I was surprised that he didn't already have several solo albums.

























His first album, titled 'At Gwanghwamun' is set to be released on November 13th, 2014.  The album will feature 7 tracks, with compositions by pianist Yiruma and TVXQ's Shim Changmin.  The theme is autumn, which evokes thoughts of calm contemplation, gentle breezes, and falling leaves of every color.

You can click on the picture on the right (above) to view the album tracklist.

I expect that most of the tracks will be comparable to Kyuhyun's preexisting song, "Late Autumn," (2011) which was the result of a collaboration with fellow musician Yoon Jong Shin.



And here are more shots from the album's gorgeous photoshoot~





It seems as though Kyuhyun and I have a lot in common, hahaha.  There's the obvious things like our love of music smarts, and good looks *snark* but also: gaming is one of our favorite hobbies, we eat maybe a little too much, we're only slightly evil, and we both have a thing for Loki and the fall season. x')

My ramblings aside...I'm beyond thrilled for and proud of Kyuhyun, and I eagerly await his upcoming solo debut~!