Friday, December 19, 2014

A Very Fond But Heartbroken Farewell ~ The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies

bilbo the battle of five armies
  The journey is over. My heart is broken. Today I saw The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies with the family finally, and it was well worth the wait. The movie was spectacular. The battle carries the whole story, the end leaving us sorrowful, with the feeling of having watched something that happened, not a just another typically structured movie that has its points. I was surprised at how little Smaug featured in it, that his fall would be so soon (or at least what felt so soon). It was somewhat anti-climatic, but I suspect that many scenes were cut from this movie and that more will be added to the attack of Smaug in the extended edition. However, I did love how there was a presence of Smaug throughout the movie, his words--his insights--that figured greatly in the thoughts and fears of the characters. It was as if he was still lurking in the shadows.

   I loved how in the moment and climatic the beginning was. It carried right over from Desolation of Smaug, the danger and fear palpable and immediate. It brought you in, to the level of those suffering the consequences of their actions, and those on the receiving end of the actions of others. The desolation and sadness is truly felt. That's what I loved about the last installment of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit. I'm just heartbroken that it's over, as I knew I would be. 

  What I've loved most in this story, (and in stories in general) was the story of the best sort of friendship. And the friendship of Thorin and Bilbo is the gold in this one. Throughout the trilogy, really--but it comes to a head here. It is what I'm most in love with, the thing I sorrow for most, and what my heart splits for. (Aside from the fact that the movies are done).

   I've never been much taken with the love story between Kili and Tauriel, but it turned out okay for me, in the end--in the end I felt for them. I was wrapped up enough in the story to forget that I'm not a fan of their love story. I liked them well enough. And at the end of that story arc, I love how well it served the characters involved. I cared for them, and what it meant when it came to it.

 I was also intrigued that you got more of glimpse into why Thranduil was such a strange, seemingly cold person. You get a look, however brief, into his history, his own loss. His own madness. It wasn't what I had expected, but something very similar. I loved that you got to know Bard and his strength better--his family is what makes him the man he is. Alfrid presents (in some ways he reminds one of Wormtongue) an interesting aspect to how Bard tries to do well by people, to try to see the possible change one might attain should they chose, and receive the chance. I thought him giving Alfrid a sort of second chance intriguing, though he does not trust him. Only enough to use him in moments of desperation--but even then, in the end, we see that Alfrid will always be a snake simply because he chooses to be--not because he wasn't given a second chance. That's what I appreciated of this aspect of the story. (Although I did expect him to give Alfrid a whack when yanking on the arm of his child, and he didn't--I found that really strange).

  I really enjoyed the storming of Dol Guldur--that was cool. The power of the White Council was stunning and beautiful. Although I didn't like the dark aspect they gave Galadriel, because that was used in Fellowship showing her temptation to the Ring, to something evil--here, in this instance, she is fighting the evil that is Sauron with Light. Yet they make her look like something dark and twisted. Powerful and fearsome, certainly. But her dark image really didn't make sense. But still, overall, very cool, loved it--but really of the opinion that they cut out a lot here as well.

  Over all, you see real people in this story. Pulling together, surviving--pulling away, turning mad, grasping at what pieces of themselves are left--trying to remember what you believe in. And trying to do the part of a friend. I found the movie incredibly real. In this one, it wasn't as much about spectacle and fun as the others were (in my opinion) it was about their relationships in the now. Their own stories, and the difference they can possibly make. The change that their choices will effect.

  You get to savor the sorrow and the joy, the gloried relief of the honorable choice in some instances, the fear of losing all that matters in life and possibly losing sight of yourself. The fear of the true enemy winning is real, even though we have a good idea of how the story ends, especially those of us who read the book. The core of the story is the power that we as individuals have in making our choices. It is simply will we or will we not fight to realize what is right, or possibly something in between. It is never so simple. Priorities are mixed, but in a way that still engages our love and respect.

  In the end, we have the bittersweet return home, remembering the good and the bad, left with the sorrow of loss, but with the blessing of friendships that have been forged. And the discovery of the type of person you yourself are. I love how the very end was, bleeding into the beginning of The Fellowship, leaving us with a taste of the joys that still come, that the story of our lives go on, and we carry our memories with us. The words of Billy Boyd in his Last Goodbye are very fitting.

 And, oh, where the road then takes me,
I cannot tell
We came all this way
But now comes the day
To bid you farewell

Many places I have been
Many sorrows I have seen
But don't regret
Nor will I forget
All who took that road with me




  I probably will be writing more on this, but I just needed to get this down. Can't keep it to myself right now. My heart is too broken! Would love to hear anything you have to share about what you think of the story.

And what a story. Thank you to Tolkien, Peter Jackson, and everyone involved with getting us to care enough to share in the sorrow and the joy. 

  Until next time and another tissue,

  Elora Carmen Shore

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Once Upon a Western Way, Interview with Markie Madden

author Markie Madden
Author Markie Madden
  We have a guest today! Recently Markie Madden invited several authors to exchange interviews with her, and I was one of those who accepted. My interview with her, which was a lot of fun, was featured just the other day, and you can read it here on her website! She started Metamorph Publishing in 2014 as a means of publishing her three books, and is dedicated to helping other independent or aspiring authors to reach their dreams!

 
  Here's the interview!


  Tell me a little bit about yourself! Where do you live, do you have a "real" job, do you ahve any children/pets, and so on?


  I was born August 19, 1975 in Midland, Texas, though I grew up in Flushing, Michigan. I went to high school there, and was on the staff for the school paper. I won a National Quill and Scroll Society award for best picture in a school newspaper. I've been married for 10 years, and have two teenage daughters, three rescue dogs, and a horse. We now live in the small country town of Fisk, Missouri.


  Tell me about your latest book! What inspired you to write it? Where did you get the ideas for your plot and characters?

Once Upon a Western Way Markie Madden
  All three came out at the same time, so I'll pick Once Upon a Western Way to talk abut. I started writing this story in high school, and it was the first I ever tried to publish. It was based on teh game my best friend and I used play as kids. The main characters of course were based on me and him, and a lot of the supporting characters were based on our pets at the time. 


  When did your book come out, adn where can readers find it?

  All my books came out in Sept 2014, except for Western Way which was originally published digitally only at Smashwords in 2012. They can all be found at CreateSpace, Amazon, Barnes and Noble (print versions), as well as several other retailers, and for Kindle digitally, though their enrollement period is almost up so they'll be back at Smashwords for Nook and iPhone soon. 


  What distinguishes your book/plot/characters from others? Don't give away any spoilers, but what's the "hook" that you think will draw the readers to your book?

  Western Way is a romantic fantasy about epic love surviving all obstacles, and full of adventure, princes, ad preincesses in a world that's a far simpler time than our own. The main characters hae to fight an evil foe (and you'll never guess who that is, but NO spoilers!) and live to escape his clutches. 


  Waht would you like your readers to take away from your book? What emotions and thoughts do you hope to invoke?


  This book was intended to entertain, to let the reader escape their own world and lose themselves in a other for a time.



  Are you planning a sequel, or another book?

  I'm not planning a sequel for Western Way, but I am currently working on a series called The Undead Unit Series. Book One is called Fang and Claw, and we meet Lacey, who's a detective with the Dallas police department. She's also a vampire. Her partner, Colton, is a werewolf with anger management issues. They're a part of an elite new squad dedicated to solving crimes involving other members of the Undead. 


  What genre do you place your book in?

  Western Way is a romantic fantasy with a touch of paranormal. I also have two non-fiction books: a memoir and a self-help guide to horse care.


  how did you publish? Are you independent or do you have a publisher? How did you decide to publish?


  I'm independently published. I tried for years submitting Western Way to publishers, first on my own, then using my income tax refund to hire an agent for a year. And still, I was unsuccessful. So I went at it on my own.



  What's your marketing plan? Do you use social media to help you market, and if so, which ones? Do you have any new ideas for marketing that you'd like to share?

  I use all social media to help promote my books, as well as swapping blog interviews with other authors, and I'm planning book signings for next year.


  Are you a member of any writing/reading groups (i.e. Shelfari, Goodreads, Scribophile, etc.)?

  You can find me at Shelfari, Goodreads, and Scribophile, as well as several writing roups on Facebook and LinkedIn.


  Thanks for the time, Markie! Looking forward to more of your news.

  Marguerite Madden's books can be found here on Amazon and Amazon Kindle, Smashwords,  and Barnes and Noble.

  Other sites where you can follow Markie Madden are her blog, her Tumblr, her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.



  ~Elora Carmen Shore



Friday, November 14, 2014

A Hobbit Journey at it's End



  There and back again. Well, the end is certainly drawing nearer. I'm so excited to see the last installment of the Hobbit Trilogy, but man, it's excruciating--in a blink of an eye it'll be over. I feel like it was yesterday that I was putting brand new An Unexpected Journey set shots up as my desktop background. It's been three years already! Time certainly flies, and while I'm so glad I was there for the ride, I'm sad that it'll be completely over. I just can't believe it. I'm intrigued to know what Peter Jackson is planning next (more kiwi movies, according to this one interview) but regardless, I wonder what he'll say when his work on The Hobbit is officially over. I bet we're going to see a lot of tear-stained video clips of cast and crew. I bet working on this trilogy was one heck of a ride for everyone involved. And that's what I love to see when I watch the behind the scenes on Lotr, or The Hobbit--everyone literally looks like they LOVE their job. Even in the rough parts.

  The movies have gotten a lot of smack about how they don't adhere to parts of the story, etc. Personally, I still enjoy them. I don't watch an adaption with the expectation that they'll do the exact same. I want to see how they'll do it differently, while keeping some things the same--and staying true to the story's essence. Lotr was incredible. Granted, I come from the point of view of one who was introduced to Middle Earth through the movies--but even after reading the books and falling in love with them, I was astounded at how the stories had the same lifeblood, the same breath. With all the movies' differences, there was something there that still provided a true, honest reflection. Hobbit has done that, although perhaps not as well, but I may feel that way simply because I like the Lotr books infinitely more than The Hobbit. I feel the characters, their comedy, their sense of home-love and lost kingdoms, is the same. And I love that they showed you who Thorin really is, instead of just a snooty, grumpy royal. I sensed that there was so much more to Thorin, when reading the book (which I read before the movies were being made). It was my greatest frustration that Tolkien didn't expound on him more. Delve into him. Someone who has the audacity and guts to take back their homeland with a rowdy bunch of dwarves takes someone with something real. I wanted to know him more, but I didn't get that from the book. I feel I get that in the movies. And Bilbo is done to perfection. I fell in love quickly. So proud, and so thankful that Bilbo was done so superbly. Bilbo walked in front of my eyes, and expressed his mannerisms, the thoughts behind his eyes--and I knew him.
   And heaven knows that Smaug--well, is a masterpiece. The only things I don't like about the movies so far is that the strange love aspect between Tauriel and Kili. While sweet in thought, it doesn't feel crucial to the story, or like a real part of it. I like Tauriel's character--I love that her strength is exemplified by her kindness, and not just her prowess. We don't always get characters like that. But I doubt I would have missed this aspect of the story, if it had never been part of it. But still, as it is an aspect of the story, I'm curious as to where her story will lead.

  I am so ready to sit down in the theater to see a Hobbit film for the last time. But I know that I will be so sad when I leave. I've finally found out what it must have been like to be a fan, and watch the movies being made, coming out. I just pray that someone someday will get the rights to do The Silmarillion--and do it well.


  Elora Carmen Shore


The Road goes ever on and on,
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Patriot, Fighting Grace


the patriot, family pic

Note: This article first appeared in the July/August issue of Femnista, found here. This is my opinion on one of my favorite movies of all time. It deserved such a long post--and deserved the long time spent mulling over it. 

the patriot tavington
  Benjamin Martin sits at the end of the stairs having put his children to bed, overwhelmed by all he has lost that day. He saved his son Gabriel, lost his son Thomas and all he owned—and his children's innocence. They have seen the brutality of war on their front steps. In his pain and in his rage, they have seen him, a bloody man who long ago butchered his own innocence. His story will coincide with the that of a nation trying to stand tall, proudly, free. It needs those who believe in something more than present safety, who understand what is really being fought for.

"You have done nothing for which you should be ashamed," Charlotte, his sister-in-law, tells him.

the patriot jonathan
"I have done nothing," he replies. "And for that I am ashamed."

There are few stories that stick at the forefront of my mind when I think of a truly good movie. The Patriot is one that with every time I see it, I see something more, something deeper, a truth that gives even greater meaning to the trials that the characters face—most notably, Benjamin Martin's. The man whose sins, he knows, will surely come visit him again someday, and exact vengeance. The cost is a steep one—a terrible one. 

But it isn't all that comes to pass.

In the beginning we see him as a widower, a father. His heart aches for his departed wife, his motherless children—and the past that he cannot forget. He is still a wounded soldier, who knows that the drums of war are beginning to sound again. Benjamin Martin refuses to vote for a levy, refuses to fight. Yet he knows the men around him, and what they strive for. The War will most definitely come. 

Standing before them he states, "But mark my words. This war will be fought, not on the frontier...or on some distant battlefield...but amongst us. Among our homes. Our children will learn of it with their own eyes. And the innocent will die with the rest of us." 

the patriot father and son
War comes quickly, like a thief, until it is in his home. When Col. Tavington of the Dragoons coldly shoots Thomas in the back for attempting to free his brother Gabriel, Tavington looks down at Benjamin's stricken face and says, "Stupid boy." Tavington has just stripped something from Benjamin, not just his son. Benjamin and Gabriel will never forget those words. This is the making of what Benjamin will become.

It is shortly after this Benjamin realizes that he has to protect his family a different way. Joining Gabriel he joins the army, easing right back into the soldier he had once been, savvy and knowing. He knows what he's defending, and he has the strength to see it through—I think that is what so many of his men respect—not just his prowess, but his steady belief in what he's fighting for. For home. Many fought for that simple reason, completely aside from the idea of freedom, although there were so many who filled the ranks because they did believe in that ideal. 

the patriot john billingsThrough the course of the movie you see Benjamin Martin really coming out into what becomes known as "The Ghost", the nemesis of Col. Tavington. Through it we see how there are times when the brutal life he knew is coming back to him, but it is his son Gabriel that reminds him that they are better men. Men that stay the course, do the honorable thing. And when Martin loses him, it is the flag that Gabriel has faithfully mended that reminds him of the worthiness of the cause for freedom. It is that, which enables him to carry on. He stays the course. He returns to fight alongside his men, leading them valiantly in the next battle where he confronts Tavington again—that man that now has taken two of his sons. Yet, even as he first glimpses him, Benjamin's comrade in alarm alerts him that the line is faltering—the men are turning back. He must make his choice. Benjamin turns aside, and seizes a flag and waves it high, yelling for his men hold. Boys, men, old men—they turn back after him, to the fight, and they take the ground. This is the power of faith and belief. Many people just need someone who will enable them to hold the course. That day Benjamin Martin was that man, for everyone there fighting for everything that mattered: family, friends, freedom. 

the patriot battle flag

Benjamin Martin still has his brutal fight with Col. William Tavington. The battle is being won, but it looks like Benjamin might die, seeing the soldiers rush past in jubilation even as some keep on fighting. Tavington does not have that satisfaction—and neither does Benjamin Martin. Not in the way that he had originally intended. He set out for vengeance. It has been his sons, and his faith that has endured through it all, that has changed him. 

In the moment when he is sure of his personal victory, Tavington sneers, "Kill me before the war ends, will you? Well, it appears that you are not the better man." Benjamin ducks and twists, thrusting him through. He then picks up a bayonet piece from the burning wreckage. "No. I'm not. My sons were better men." He slits Tavington's throat. 

the patriot daughter
Benjamin continues to stay the course fighting until the end. I constantly mull over the feeling of personal grace, aligned with the fight for freedom in this movie. I think it has much to do simply with showing The Man—his sins, his fears, and his fight for his own spiritual freedom, to escape from the wretchedness of his own sins. The man that needs to feel grace. To be forgiven, and to forgive himself, to an extent. Needs a new start. I believe Benjamin reached his freedom when he realized what was truly worth believing in, fighting for—Gabriel and Thomas taught him that. They believed in the chance to make a better nation—to an extent, grace for their country, a new birth.

Benjamin truly emerged as a defender of freedom, and as living evidence of true grace. He found his place. And I'm happy to say, that it was worth it. Freedom for a nation, grace for The Man. 


 Hope you enjoyed the article! Now go watch the movie, and please tell me your own thoughts when you're done!


  ~Elora Carmen Shore

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Saving More Than Mr. Banks~My Experience

saving mr. banks poster
  I am delighted when I am surprised. Saving Mr. Banks was something that surprised me. I only was aware of it, before it came to theaters, from a trailer a friend had shared. I thought it looked fun and interesting, intermingled with sweetness--and it had Walt Disney, played by Tom Hanks! I immediately felt like he'd make a perfect Walt Disney, and I was intrigued to see Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility) play something different than what I knew her from most.

  But I did not expect it to be about Pamela Travers' father. At first, I wasn't sure if I liked this story better than what I had assumed it would be about--although to be honest, now I'm not sure what I was expecting. I think I was expecting something goofier, more--chipper. I knew nothing of the history of the stories, had never read them--had bare memories of the classic movie. But what made me realize how much I truly liked the movie was the fact that I couldn't stop thinking about it, about how her relationship with her father fed the story--in fact, drove it. Her whole world centered around the person she had loved over everything else, the person she wanted redeemed so badly. Her father had given her the gift of a childhood of imagination and joy, but it all went downhill when he lost faith in himself, and could not keep it together. That was what hurt her most--the fact that not only had her father lost his own faith and joy in life, but that she lost him altogether in the end, broken and sad.

  When I finished watching the movie this evening, I thought about how suited the title was. And then I smiled. Because it isn't just about saving Mr. Banks, or saving the memory of Travers Goff and all he stood for. It was about saving Pamela. It was about saving her from the clutches of her heartbroken past. About her stepping forward to something new. Having faith.

  That said, being the most important thing--now I'm just going to comment on the rest. I loved it all. I loved the sixties environment, loved the natural, human cast, and LOVED Emma Thompson as P. L. Travers with her smart quips, Paul Giamatti as Ralph, (one of the most memorable characters--his loving, sunny and likable character I felt added even more life and beauty to the movie) and Tom Hanks was absolutely perfect as Walt Disney. Truly memorable. Stellar performances by everyone.

  I am grateful that this movie was made. And I can't wait to have it on my shelf.


  ~Elora Carmen Shore

 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

American Youth~George Lucas and American Graffiti


george lucas american graffiti
Image via kitbashed
  Finally, today I was able to watch one of George Lucas's first movies--American Graffiti. Ever since reading about it when I was studying Geroge Lucas's early work, I really wanted to see it. Especially once I read about how he had wanted to build the story around a "playlist", if you'll allow the modern term, of songs he felt had defined that time in America. Interesting idea! It intrigued me more, because I had thought before how times of my life could very well be defined by the songs my parents would play at the time. There's music that I have distinct memories tied to--and I felt like that came across in the movie, how the music was a part of the story. You get a feel of the rhythm of the times, the youthfulness and hope. The story is spearheaded by the fact that two dudes are about to go back to college the next day--they want one last night on the town, one last chance to kick up their heels and burn rubber on the strip.

Image via Drafthouse
  You come to love the characters, just because they're normal, relatable and--stupid. At times. I just had to laugh at the foolishness and complete likeability of the whole story. It was fun, and it was real. Goofy, with young adults getting into scrapes just as we'd expect. American youth. If ever there was a term to perfectly describe a movie, that'd be it for American Graffiti. Looking forward to watching it again.

  Especially for the gorgeous cars. And a young Harrison Ford. Always been a fan of his movies, and it was fun to see something from before Star Wars IV: A New Hope. And Richard Dreyfuss--that was fun! The most intriguing thing must be, I think, is that you can't help but watch the movie and see George Lucas himself in his youth. After all, before making movies he wanted to be a racer. It's interesting to learn more about someone, to see things you didn't expect.


  ~E. C. Shore

Friday, August 29, 2014

Among the Beasts


man and the beast, the island of doctor moreau

  I just finished reading The Island of Doctor Moreau. I was first intrigued about the story when I was introduced to it by the book Doctor Franklin's Island by Ann Halam. It was a terrific story, and to be honest, I prefer it to H.G. Well's book. That's not to say that his was not great--it was. I enjoyed it immensely, and loved the intrigue and examination of what made the inhabitants of the island so different--or rather, not. It spoke of the animal in all of us. The biggest example, arguably, is Moreau. The man who can coldly set aside any empathy for a fellow creature's senses, and feelings, to cut them apart while alive and rebuild them into something they didn't even understand. Yes, I find that fascinating. He is the predator that takes his prey as he needs them, uses and disposes them according to the requirements of his curiosity. Montgomery is the man caught in between--he understands both, he is Moreau's creature in that he has let Moreau desensitize his empathy to a great extent. Prendick, our main character, is the story's creature. The island is is torture chamber, his mental hell where he challenges and struggles against all he encounters, human or humanoid...in many ways, he is the man who has been cast adrift on his own inner terrain, taken by the things that make us regress in what we, as a "civilized" people, view as morals--bring out the animal stirrings. The fear of the unnatural, the instinct of what is a natural enemy, etc. Daily clashing with horrors and fear, with evidence of things that challenge his and others' "humanity", Prendick is a good representative of Humanity itself.

  But what intrigued me most (and if I seem to be using that word too much, I'm sorry--it's one of my favorites, and I do so like to be intrigued) was the ending. Even if it was something I expected. Once you see the animal, see the jungle--you tend to see it everywhere else. It's hard to go back to what you were, and for many, you never do. Prendick struggled to not see his neighbors as animals--to fear that he saw the Creature that was furtive and fearful and dangerous in their faces, in their gestures. It took so long for him to acclimate again, and even then, he had times where he regressed. But I was surprised by the very ending. Hope? I do believe in it--something one must hold onto, if they are to survive, in my opinion, but I did not expect Prendick to end with a refrain of humanity's hope.

  "My days I devote to reading and to experiments in chemistry, and I spend many of the clear nights in the study of astronomy. There is--though I do not know how there is or why there is--a sense of infinite peace and protection in the glittering hosts of heaven. There it must be, I think, in the vast and eternal laws of matter, and not in the daily cares and sins and troubles of men, that whatever is more than animal within us must find its solace and its hope. I hope, or I could not live.
     And so, in hope and solitude, my story ends.  --Edward Prendick"

  A swift read, The Island of Doctor Moreau is an interesting examination of Humanity and the Beast.


  ~E.C.Shore