Sahara

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“The angel wing clam…. Underwater, they glow in the dark. Now the amazing thing about that is this: modern science cannot explain why…. Tell you my theory: is that they do it because they can. World would be a lot cooler place if more of us were like that, huh?” — Dirk Pitt

Following the trend of genre-hopping all over the place… this week’s movie recommendation comes in the form of an action/adventure/mystery/comedy. Sahara. Another movie that has a little bit of everything… which is apparently a recipe for a movie that I am guaranteed to love to pieces.

This is one of those movies the critics initially hated, but I loved. It tends to work out that way the vast majority of the time. It is also the kind of movie where there is a lot going on, and at first glance, none of it seems to be related.

Meet Dirk Pitt: a sort of modern-day Indiana Jones searching for a lost Civil War era ship that has aboard it a box of legendary gold coins minted by the Confederacy. Though finding this legend is his main goal, he also has a real job with the National Underwater Marine Agency as a salvager of wrecked ships, which he uses “to pay the bills” as Inigo Montoya would say. At the other end of this story, you have Eva, a doctor with W.H.O. who is investigating the source of a strange outbreak in Africa. When their paths and stories collide, the discoveries that Dirk and Eva make are bigger than either of them expected.

This movie is an all-out adventure. The plot twists and turns like a snake in the desert. All while Dirk’s best friend, Al Giordino (played by the ever marvelous Steve Zahn) provides quippy comic relief… but don’t worry he isn’t just a humorous side-kick, this guy knows his stuff and is very good at what he does. Possibly one of my favorite roles for Matthew McConaughey ever… except for one other… which I will talk about next week.

If you skipped this movie back when it came out in 2005… you should definitely remedy that and give it a look now. It is so much fun, and has some of the best quotable lines since The Princess Bride. (And THAT is saying quite a lot).

If you love movies like Indiana Jones or National Treasure, you will not want to miss out on Sahara!

Looks like this one is available to rent online at all the usual places.

~ jenelle

Bridge to Terabithia

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Today’s Favorite Family Film is a more recent discovery (how was 2007 ten years ago already?) The story itself is much older, though. I grew up reading Bridge to Terabithia over and over again. It was never one that got read out loud, or at least, I don’t remember it being one that either of my parents ever read to us. It was one I read to myself. I checked it out of the library so many times, I think I pretty much wore out the binding. I KNOW that I left tear-stains on a few of the pages.

Imagine my delight (and skepticism) when I found out they were making this beloved story into a movie!

This is one of those rare occasions where the movie version is just as good as the book. And that’s a tough thing to come by, especially with a book I loved so dearly. But when I watch it, I really feel as though the writers and directors pulled the images directly from my imagination.

Travel back in time to simpler days with Jess, a young boy who lives on a farm and is a bit of a social outcast in school. As the movie opens, Jess has been training hard in order to win a footrace and hopes to use that victory to propel him into the good graces of his classmates. However, when he is beaten in the race by a new student… and a girl… Jess feels that his hopes of acceptance are lost. Despite this rocky start to their relationship, Jess and Leslie soon become true friends. Leslie encourages Jess in his love of art, and then sweeps Jess along into an imaginary world of her own creation where they are King and Queen of Terabithia: a magical realm filled with amazing creatures. Together they go on epic adventures in their imagination and translate what they learn in their make-believe play into courage and loyalty in the real world.

I must warn you, though. I thought everyone had read this book. It was kind of a staple of my childhood. All of my friends were required to read it in grade school… so I just sort of assumed it was like Tom Sawyer… and that everyone was familiar with the plot. When I went to see it in the theaters, imagine my surprise at discovering my husband had never read the book. Not knowing this, I did not warn him that the end is very sad. Those tear-stains I mentioned? Yeah, that’s not just because this is a sweet story. It is also achingly tragic. The end of this movie will rip your heart out and make you cry… so, be warned, the story stays unswervingly close to the original storyline. (My husband… erm… refuses to ever watch this movie again).

But there is beauty in this sorrow. I highly recommend you read the book… and then watch the movie. Or watch the movie… and then read the book. They are both that good, I don’t even know which to recommend first! (Upon further consideration… probably read the book first. It might soften the blow at the end of the movie… since you’ll know it’s coming and be prepared for it).

I’m not even sure what genre to put this movie into. Perhaps it fits best where most of my favorite movies go, as my sister once said to a classmate who couldn’t believe she hadn’t seen some big-name movie, “If there was a category in the video-store labelled ‘wholesome,’ I’ve probably seen every movie that would be in that section.”

Have you seen this movie? Have you read the book? Which did you enjoy more? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

~ jenelle

A Long Winter’s Nap

Good morning, dear Reader! Whew. July just blasted right on by, didn’t it? I hope you enjoyed all the doings over here as much as I did! I thought I’d do a June/July -Ishness post, since I didn’t really do one for June. It’s been a whirlwind of a summer, but in a very good way.

Ishness is a meme created by Deborah over at Road of a Writer as a monthly recap on what one has filled the previous month with.

Writing/Editing

I wrote 11,549 words as I finished writing the rough draft of Mantles of Oak and Iron, the second book in the Turrim Archive.

To date I have finished editing 14 chapters of Minstrel’s Call. Out of 50 total. It’s going a bit more slowly than I was hoping, but there has been a lot of rearranging and restructuring… which has necessitated some re-writing of scenes from the ground up. I have written approximately 6,000 new words, but I have also cut about 7,000 old words… which means that overall the book is already a tiny bit shorter than it was, despite all the new material. Also… I don’t even know how many words I’ve written in emails and blog posts the past two months… but it was a lot!

Reading

STILL working my way through The Aeronaut’s Windlass. How embarrassing! Truly, I am loving the book. And usually I am a very fast reader. But you can only get so far when your reading time is contained to 15 minute increments and sometimes days go by between those reading spaces.

I did finish reading More Stories From Grandma’s Attic out loud to the kids, and we’ve since started up the second Boxcar Children book.

I also re-read a bunch of The Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion while creating the poem for the Scavenger Hunt as well as my post for the Most Nefarious Villain presentation. I think I need to do a serious re-read soon.

Watching

NCIS season 14. This would be the main reason I haven’t had time to read… the latest season came available on Netflix, and we had to go back and hang out with our crime-solving besties!

Also Blue Bloods season 7. We do enjoy crime shows around here.

I watched Miracle a few weeks ago, because while writing up the Favorite Family Films feature for it, I remembered how much I love that movie, and just felt like it was high time I re-watched it.

We wanted to get to see the new Spiderman, but haven’t gotten to it yet. NOBODY TELL ME ANYTHING!

Cubs baseball! My husband managed to snag a deal to get the entire rest of the season of MLB TV for just TEN DOLLARS back in June, so we’ve been getting to watch baseball again, which is fantastic.

Blogging

You might have noticed it’s been a bit busy around here in the past month. Well, the second annual Silmarillion Awards came back around, and it was an absolute blast! Thanks so much to everyone who participated, read, commented, shared, voted, donated prizes, and otherwise cheered us on in our epic endeavor! Without you, these awards wouldn’t be nearly as much fun. Also, a special thanks to the nine amazing bloggers who joined me on this adventure! Thank you for your creativity, your helpful thoughts and ideas, and just for being part of this year’s “fellowship”!

Thanks to the Awards, July was this little blog’s BEST month ever with both the most overall views and the highest average per-day views! I am overwhelmed by the response and thrilled to have met so many fellow Tolkien-fans!

In case you missed it, here is the list of awards that were presented this year.

Wisest Councillor

Least Competent Henchman

Most Silver-Tongued

Most Epic Hero

Strangest Character

Most Epic Heroine

Most Mischievous Imp

Most Magnificent Dragon

Most Faithful Friend

Most Nefarious Villain

We are very much looking forward to hosting this fun event again next year! Put it on your calendars!

Life-ing

Swim lessons, science curriculum, visits to the library, picnics in the park, observing baby robins in the bushes outside our door hatch from their eggs and grow and leave the nest, bike rides, playgrounds, swimming, sprinklers, popsicles… these are the things that have made up the majority of our summer.

We also got to take a nice trip down to Chicago-land last week and see numerous friends and family while at the Dupage County Fair where my sister was performing! It was super fun to hang out with cousins and see friends from high school. It was also nice to get some of my favorite pizza (Pal Joey’s, deep dish, ham and pineapple… if you’re ever near Wheaton, IL, you really need to stop and get some!) and have Portillo’s. We also went and walked through my old high school… which has grown and changed a lot… but then, so have I. Ah, nostalgia and memory lane: nice places to hang out. But it was also nice to come home.

And that’s about all I can think of, dear Reader! I hope you’ve had a lovely summer. I don’t know about you, but I am exhausted. And I really need to buckle down on editing Minstrel’s Call… so I think it will be slightly quieter around here through August… I’ll still be around, and I definitely plan to continue the Favorite Family Films features on Friday for the foreseeable future (oooh! You have to admit that was pretty phenomenal alliteration… right?!) but it will definitely be quieter around the blog for a bit.

I would love to hear about your summer adventures!

~ jenelle