Friday, November 10, 2017

An Apology (and a Laugh or Two)



I must apologize to you, dear readers.

Some of you may have noticed that there is no Mid-Week Music post this week. That is not just a mistake or glitch. We have been extremely busy for the past... well, several weeks, I suppose. And all that is coming to a head this week. I haven't even had time to think of a song to put up here. I'm very sorry, especially since I said there would be one every week, no matter what.

But never fear. There will be a MWM post next week for certain. The cause for all this busyness will be explained then. While we wait for Wednesday, I will give you a picture. Hopefully, it will make you laugh long enough for me to get back on track. I know I laughed for several minutes when I first saw it.



Oh my word, I'm laughing at it right now. It's hilarious. Please do comment if you laughed at it too!Anyway, busyness is calling my name, so I will go now. Actua1lly, my mother is now calling my name, so... bye! Mid-Week Music will return next Wednesday!


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Mid-Week Music #18 - A Mighty Fortress Is Our God



Last week, I put up a song called "The Last Halloween". It was one of the funniest Halloween songs I've ever run across, especially with Dakota singing the whole thing. But, like my dad reminds me, things like that are like cotton candy, really. They're fun to have sometimes, but we need things that will fill us--the meat and potatoes of the thing, really. And today, I am posting a song that is just along those lines. It's not a song, though: not just a song, I mean. This is a hymn, to remind us of why we celebrate.

"But Grace!" you may say. "You're getting mixed up! It's not Christmastime yet--now's not the time to be pulling out 'Reason for the Season' messages." Still others may wonder what on earth I'm talking about: Halloween isn't a Christian holiday. Everybody knows it. Ask anyone you like. Unless you happen to be one of the few who do realize my reasons for this, do read on for your own knowledge.

You see, Halloween (especially by that name) has always been Christian. The name itself means "All Hallows Eve", which precedes All Hallows Day. Just like Christmas Eve precedes Christmas Day. From what I've been told, the origin of the way we celebrate today was that people believed that demons and all manner of evil would run wild on All Hallow's Eve, in order to try and ruin the festivities of the next day. Thus (and this is according to people I've heard), the folks would dress as demons, goblins, and witches because they were afraid of them, and wanted to hide and protect themselves from the creatures.

Some Christians today believe this means All Hallow's Eve is a holiday that's all about evil, and the Devil, and so are wary of celebrating it. The Adventures in Odyssey lost episode "What Are We Gonna Do About Halloween?" addresses this. All Hallow's Eve was just a day for the Devil to run wild--why would they want to celebrate it?

But, in case any of you are thinking of stowing your Halloween costumes next year, let me tell the real reason we celebrate, why we dress up in costumes like that every October the 31st. You see, people didn't dress like demons and things like that out of fear--they were mocking the evil things. No one thought all witches were green with warts all over them, no one thought the Devil was red with pointy horns and a pitchfork. They were doing it to mock him and his servants, because they knew he can't stand being mocked. He and his hate it, and so we do it even more.

And we can do it, because we know they can't hurt us. The servants of darkness can't separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, no matter what they do. That's why they run wild, you see: it's as if they're making a last desperate attempt to gain a victory. But Jesus has thrown their kingdom into disarray, and we will surely be the victors. A theologian by the name of James Jordan has a wonderful article on the matter, which has even more than what I've included here. Please do give it a read.

That's not the only reason, either, as my brothers and sisters eagerly pointed out when we listened to the Odyssey episode. It was on this very day that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenburg and begun the Reformation, 500 years ago. That's part of the reason why I chose this hymn: to commemorate Luther and the Reformation. This is his most famous hymn, and has been called the Battle Hymn of the Reformation. 500th anniversaries only come once, you know.

The second reason I chose this hymn was because of what Luther preached. Among other things, he taught that the Bible said we cannot be saved through works of the flesh. Without God, we are nothing. If Jesus had not died to conquer sin, then risen again to conquer death, we would have good reason to fear these demons and witches and evil spirits. But because God has saved us, and we have faith in this promise, we will not fear the Prince of Darkness or his servants. Whatever happens, God's Truth abideth still, and His Kingdom is forever. And if God is for us, who--be they witch or demon, goblin or ghoul--can stand against us?

With that in mind, dear readers, let us listen to the great hymn, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God".




A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God's own choosing:
Dost ask Who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His Truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little Word shall fell him.

That Word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God's Truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Mid-Week Music #17 - The Last Halloween



Today's MWM has to do with two things: Halloween, and Milo Murphy's Law. The second one is a cartoon show rather in the vein (and universe) of Phineas and Ferb, and made by the same people. The show is about a boy named Milo Murphy, who has some of the strangest luck I've ever heard tell of. Basically, it's the idea of "Whatever can go wrong will go wrong" come to life: bad and absurdly weird things happen to him and his friends every day, and a cyclone of calamity follows him wherever he goes. However, his constant optimism and crazy preparedness somehow always manage to bring him good luck and allow him to escape serious harm. So he either has the worst luck in history or the best luck in history. It's honestly almost a superpower.

I must admit, this show has grown to be a bit of a favorite in our household, especially of mine. Part of the reason for this is the time-travelling twosome, Cavendish and Dakota. They're from the future, you see, and they're in the 21st century because... well, the reason changes over the course of the show, but it always has to do with pistachios. They're very funny, and an important part of the show, as well as two of my favorite characters overall. This week's MWM has to do with them in particular.

The song is from the Halloween special, Milo Murphy's Halloween Scream-a-Torium. Yeah, odd name, I know, but it's an odd show in general. And the song itself is... well, pretty much absolutely ridiculous. Very Phineas-and-Ferb-ish. But what can I say? After a few times, it's grown on me. That's probably why it's the first song on my Halloween Playlist. Besides, it's Cavendish and Dakota, whaddya gonna do?

Anyway, in the episode, it turns out that there is no Halloween in Cavendish and Dakota's time. And they're in the 21st century on the last Halloween in history. (What comes of that plot point is both hilarious and awesome). They do some sort of research to figure out how the thing works. And... how shall I put this?... they get it wrong. Well, they got the costumes part right--Dakota's costume is pretty clever!--but they get everything else completely mixed up. The following scene occurs...

Welcome, my friends, to The Last Halloween!



***

I think I understand, I think I get the knack
It's just a way to get free candy--what a racket!
We are gonna score tonight, it's gonna be a phenomenon!

Halloween is just the best! Too bad it's the last one
We need to stop at every house--oh wait, we just passed one
We got to make the most of this while it's still going on

We're going door to door, just asking for candy
On any other night, it would be panhandling
I think you know what I mean
It's the last Halloween

Look at this candy--look at this loot!
We should avoid that house, I hear they're giving fresh fruit
But right next door, they've got full-sized candy bars

Oh, hey, I got an idea--it's a little bit shady
But if we change costumes, that same old lady's
Gonna give us more candy, cause she won't know who we are

Wear a costume that's simple, or really elaborate
Using papier-mache, or just cheap fabric
You can be a ghost, and I can be a Fronk-en-shteen

We're going door to door, just asking for candy
On any other night, this would be panhandling
But live it up folks, cause tonight's the last Halloween
Yeah, live it up, folks
Cause tonight's the last Halloween!


Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Second Anniversary of the Future



Well, by now, you've probably figured out that this is the special post that I told you about earlier in the week. And in that special post, I said that it was an anniversary. Well, today is the second anniversary of the future. By which, I mean...

Image result for back to the future

BACK TO THE FUTURE!

That's right: today is the second anniversary of the day Marty McFly and Doc Brown travelled to the future. In fact, I scheduled this post to come out at the exact time--4:29 PM--that they arrived. Put quite briefly, I am a very big fan of this trilogy. They're some of the few movies that make me get all excited every time I watch them, and probably the only series that makes me get that way over every single movie in it. That is what this post is going to be about.

Now, I've got to tell you: before I watched Back to the Future, I liked time travel. I really did. But after I watched it... I loved time travel. The first time I watched it was the night before we went to a certain Renaissance Faire somewhere in our state. The Renaissance Faire had a theme: it was Time Traveller's Weekend. And at that Renaissance Faire, they had the DeLorean. It played music from the movies and everything. I was very, very excited!

Image result for back to the future

Well, enough background: now on to the movies themselves. Now, I won't go into every little detail that make those movies great in this post. I do need something for later Back to the Future posts, and I'll go into the specifics in those. But for now, I'm going to tell you, in general terms, a few things I like about the Back to the Future trilogy.

First, it's time travel. I've said already that I liked time travel anyway, and, having watched these movies, I now love it. You could see some of your favorite times in the past, or discover how things will look after your time, far in the future. There are so many possibilities, but I think my favorite parts would be when I could meet people--from heroes in days past to distant grandchildren, and yes, even my parents and grandparents when they were my age.

Back to the Future is a wonderful example. Not only is it a Time Travel Story, but it's also a Time Paradox Story as well. Those are always fun, if sometimes a bit brain-breaking. The logic of the thing generally holds up well enough (except for one slight discrepancy in the third one, but it really isn't that big a deal), and it also doesn't break my brain when I think about it. Usually. But I haven't thought about it hard in a while, so I may have to get back to you on that.



Second, the characters are so memorable. Marty is almost a master of ceremonies, taking us--the -audience--through these many adventures, characters, and good times (and even some bad ones). Doc Brown is very funny, Great-Scotting every-which-way, and being hilariously expressive about everything. Biff, the constant villain, is a wonderful source of comedy as well. He always messes up his puns, and he too is incredibly expressive. And there are multiple versions of him too, all played by the same man, so for every version to be funny is pretty good on the film-makers. The rest of the characters are interesting too: a few of my favorites are Clara Clayton and George McFly. They all just sort of... click, I suppose. They work well together.

And this is an important part of the story to me. The story partly hinges on this point, on whether or not you have great characters. That's why I try to bring to life great characters in my writing, characters who are real but can take people by the hand and lead them into any fancied world I invent. And I don't mean realistic, which has now come to mean dark and depressing, humourless and perpetually hopeless. No, characters must be real to the readers. Or watchers, or listeners. And the characters in Back to the Future do that, for me anyway. I don't think about the acting: I think about the characters themselves. They're real to me.

This is one reason why I hope that they never remake or reboot Back to the Future, because at the current rate of reboots, they will screw up colossally, especially with the characters. But I get the feeling that it will not happen anytime soon, so that's a relief.



Along with those two reasons, the whole thing's just so well done. It's well-written, and the funny lines just keep coming, one after another after another. It's well-acted, on all counts, and well-directed, and well-cast. The special effects look particularly great for that day and age, and the music--well, let's just say it's been played a lot through the past few days, and is also going to be played a lot in the very near future. You may have actually heard one of the songs recently on this blog.

Not only that, but the action in this thing has me practically hopping up and down on the edge of my seat, despite knowing what's going to happen. It's exciting, and there are so many moments worthy of a fist pump and a yelled-out "Yes!!" My family actually says every time we watch it "No, we can't watch it anymore, it makes Grace too happy." But we always watch them again anyway. Whatever else they may be, the Back to the Future movies are some of the most fun movies of all time.

I think there's a term some people use, where people just love some movie or TV show to death, and never get tired of it. What is it... fangirl? Yeah, that's the word for it. I'm a fangirl of Back to the Future. If I'm a fangirl of anything, it'd probably be Back to the Future. I know there are flaws and shortcomings, as there are in every movie. And I'll willingly acknowledge those, and point them out. But because I can pick them out and say they're wrong without messing up the movie, I'd say it's absolutely worth it.

In short, fast-paced action and quick-witted characters are revved all the way up to 88 in this epic classic. Little wonder that this movie is one for the ages.

This clip is about how I feel every time I watch a Back to the Future movie.

In an earlier post, I mentioned that watching this movie had partially inspired a certain script I've been working on. It isn't really the main project I'm working on (or the main one I should be working on), but, you know, I've been working on it. It's currently called There and Back in Time. Funny, considering the picture that was included in that earlier post. But no, it's not a time-travel story having to do with Middle Earth. That one will come even later on.

You see, this one has a main character named Ben. He accidentally time-travels from his time (early 18th century/1700s) to this one (early 21st century, for those who don't know to which time they have jumped). He makes friends with a few different people, not least among them a girl called Glory. He furthermore makes enemies with a familiar-looking fellow named Jack Tanyer. So he has to figure out not only how to navigate this odd new world, but also how to get back home.

Now, the script's not done, and it may be some time before it's recorded and ready for listening. I'm pretty busy with other things, and those keep getting interrupted anyway. So don't be surprised if it's more than months before I say I have made an end. However, I have been working on it, and several of the details are influenced by the Back to the Future trilogy. A character here, a scene there, a few odd references dotted around, and probably more, too. What did you expect?



Well, that about wraps it up for this post. But I would also like to say that I am going to begin a tradition for this day. From now on, October 21 is Time Travel Day. The week preceding could also be considered Time Travel Week, but I won't make that official. The Mid-Week Music for that week will have something to do with either Back to the Future or time travel of another kind. And on every October 21, I will do a post having to do with the Back to the Future trilogy.

But as I said, that's about it for now. I have some things I need to do that are waiting impatiently. Great Scott, it's later than I thought. Perfect. Sorry, gotta go now. Don't want to be late again! *So take me away/I don't mi-i-i-ind/But you better promise me/I'll be back in time!*


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Mid-Week Music #16 - Johnny B. Goode



Today, I had two prominent ideas for this week's MWM. But, since a recent MWM was Flying Colors, one of the ideas was not really a working option. I also thought about Kansas, but it's also prog-rock, so I guess that wasn't going to fly either. Then I had another idea.

Next weekend, my family is having their Halloween party at my grandparents' house. I could have used this song then, but I think I'm going to do a more spooky sort of thing then. Anyway, the party has a theme of the 1950s. So, what better song to do than one from the 1950s? And according to somebody or other, it was the very song that started the whole rock 'n' roll movement. But I got that from a movie, so who knows?

Anyway, a final note: I decided to put up two versions. I like the newer one better for some reasons, but I feel like I should put up the original version as well. So, without further ado, allow me to introduce you to Johnny B. Goode!




There's the original version. Now, here is the version heard by his cousin, Marvin Berry, at a high school dance in 1955. Let me know which version you like better in the comments below!



***

Way down in Lousiana, down in New Orleans
Way back up in the woods among the evergreens
There stood a log cabin made of earth and wood
Where lived a country boy, name o' Johnny B. Goode
Who never ever learned to read or write so well
But he could play the guitar just like he's ringing a bell

(chorus)
Go, go
Go, Johnny, go, go
Go, Johnny, go, go, go
Go, Johnny, go, go
Go, Johnny, go, go, go
Johnny B. Goode

He used to carry his guitar in a gunny sack
Go sit beneath the tree beside the railroad track
The engineer would see him sitting in the shade
Strumming to the rhythm that the driver made
The people passing by, they would stop and say
"Oh my, that little country boy sure can play!"

(chorus)

***


His mother told him "Someday you will be a man
"And you will be the leader of a big ol' band
"Many people comin' from miles around
"To hear you play your music 'til the sun go down
"And maybe someday your name'll be in lights
"Saying 'Johnny B. Goode Tonight!'"

(chorus)
Go, go, go, Johnny, go
Go, go, go, Johnny, go
Oh, go, go, Johnny, go
Oh, go, go, Johnny, go
Go, Johnny B. Goode


(PS: my apologies for any differences in the lyrics written here and the videos. They are two different versions, after all, so I put in parts of each one. Again, sorry about that. I think my lyrics are closest to the original, though, if that helps at all.)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Special Post Announcement



There is an anniversary coming up in four days. It's the second anniversary of a certain occurrence. And no, it's not a birthday. Not that I know of, anyway. But it's an exciting day for me, so I am going to be putting up a special post to commemorate it.

This particular occurrence partly inspired a certain script that I've been working on recently. I won't say the title--yet--but I think I might on Saturday. Yes, it actually has a title. I should probably be working on Hanesion House (see WRITING PROJECTS), but I have gotten a lot done on this script in the time I've been working on it just recently.

Now, I'm thinking that in all these little inbetween posts, I will post a fun picture. That is now a tradition. So, here is a picture that has (something) to do with last week's Mid-Week Music. And it is very funny.

Les plus beaux fan arts de Retour vers le Futur rejoué par ...

See? Very funny. I can just imagine the possibilities. "This is heavy, Gandalf!"

Anyway, I suppose that's about all for this post. Keep a weather-eye on this space, because I think there's a thunder-storm brewing. Or quite possibly lightning. Well, here's hoping I will see you back again in the very near future. Bye!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Mid-Week Music #15 - Gandalf's Reflection



Tonight's MWM may, to some of you, be familiar. If you've read J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, that is. Just like I'm doing currently. And just as my younger brothers and sisters are about to do as well. Then again, it may be familiar to you if you've seen MWM #6. It's another (and, in my own opinion, somewhat better) version of the first part of this song. Not to say that this first part is bad: quite the opposite. It's a fun little piece.

However, it's the second part I really like. My dad always says it captures the mystery and eeriness and solemnity of the dwarves; that you could really see them singing there, wreathed in the smoke-rings from Gandalf's pipe. I definitely agree: it gives me chills every time. Such songs as this always capture the imagination, in humans as well as hobbits, and conjure up images in the mind better than any wizard. And that is important to me.

Still not convinced? Here's a third opinion, worded far better than mine.

"As they sang the hobbit felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him, a fierce and jealous love, the desire of the hearts of dwarves. Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick. He looked out of the window. The stars were out in a dark sky above the trees. He thought of the jewels of the dwarves shining in dark caverns. Suddenly in the wood beyond The Water a flame leapt up--probably somebody lighting a wood-fire--and he thought of plundering dragons settling on his quiet Hill and kindling it all to flames. He shuddered; and very quickly he was plain Mr. Baggins of Bag-End, Under-Hill, again."
 ~ J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, Chapter I, An Unexpected Party. 


***

Dwarves (sung):
Chip the glasses, crack the plates
That's what Bilbo Baggins hates
That's what Bilbo Baggins hates
So carefully, carefully with the plates!

Blunt the knives and bend the forks
Smash the bottles, burn the corks
That's what Bilbo Baggins hates
So carefully, carefully with
The
Plates

**

Far o'er the Misty Mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold


**

Gandalf (spoken):
The dwarves of yore made mighty spells
While hammers fell like ringing bells
In places deep, where dark things sleep
In hollow halls beneath the fells

Goblets they carved there for themselves
And harps of gold where no man delves
There lay they long, and many a song
Was sung unheard by men or elves

For ancient king and elvish lord
There many a gleaming golden hoard
They shaped and wrought, and light they caught
To hide in gems on hilt of sword

On silver necklaces they strung
The flow'ring stars, on crowns they hung
The dragon-fire, in twisted wire
They meshed the light of moon and sun

*

The pines were roaring on the height
The winds were moaning in the night
The fire was red, it flaming spread
The trees like torches blazed with light

The bells were ringing in the dale
The men looked up with faces pale
The dragon's ire, more fierce than fire
Laid low their towers and houses frail

The mountain smoked beneath the moon
The dwarves, they heard the tramp of doom
They fled their hall to dying fall
Beneath his feet, beneath the moon

**

Dwarves (sung):
We must away ere break of day
To win our harps and gold from him