Tuesday, September 27, 2016

On Love

Well. Clearly I don't have enough time on my hands. I can hardly believe it's been almost 6 months since I wrote something here. Oops. Ah, well. Here we are again.

When I look back at my last post, its a little weird to realize that I am wrestling with much of the same. Since then I have moved to a new (and thankfully cheaper) apartment and I love it. The space is laid out in a way I like much better, and I have far more storage. Plus, it's not too much further from work (only about 10 minutes more), so that's nice too.

Things at my current job continue much as they have, though the promise of change (wahoo) has been presented (multiple times) and yet still with very little clarity on what it will actually look like or what effects it will have on specific departments and/or people.

I promise this has to do with love. Stay with me.

Because of those things mulling around and making me wonder if I'm doing what I ought to be doing, the following conversation shocked me a bit. Partly because I've been wondering lately (read: in the last year or so) if it is what I should be doing somehow, and partly because I cannot shake the desire I have to the desire to care for little people.

I had a conversation with my youngest brother about a month ago, in which we ended up somehow on the "what would you do if you had a million dollars" question. My go-to response is always: pay off my debts, pay off debts of my family (parents, brothers, etc.), help make my family stable, then see what I can do next (likely help someone somehow). Maybe buy a house. His response to me was something along the lines of "Oh. Yeah, I get that. But I think if you had a million dollars you'd start an orphanage."

It floored me. I have no idea how much I've said to him that I'd want to work with/care for orphans. (To be fair, I have an El Ed degree and have always loved kids but something as specific as an orphanage, well, I'm not sure how much we've talked about that... if ever.)  But he knew it to the point that it was what he expected me to do first with an overabundance. I said, "Well, yeah, that makes sense. I sort of have always wanted to do something like that. I love kids, and those kids need it most." He told me that that's exactly what he was thinking: my love of kids and my experience through a teaching degree, coupled with my administrative skill set and experience, running an orphanage seemed like the perfect thing.

Now, don't get me wrong. There is MUCH I don't know about running any type of business or anything in general much less an orphanage where you have to keep people alive and well and not neglected or starving (though plenty of places do just the opposite and are somehow still in business). But it struck a chord.

Today I saw an article posted by a friend's mom that talked about how many kids are literally dying - yes, you read that right: DYING - in orphanages today. Some because of disabilities so that the kids aren't seen as valuable enough to spend time caring for, some because of being grossly understaffed, some just because the convenience of a liquid diet and a cage are easier and keep your numbers of "cared for" up - sometimes because there seems to be no better way, and sometimes because they don't care. Why they work there/run the place boggles my mind. If you don't love children/orphans, WHY are you working in an orphanage??

The article was written by someone who had helped/visited/worked somewhere overseas and seen these terrible situations and couldn't get the kids who are dying out of her mind. She and her husband adopted a little boy from one of these places, and in just 6 months, of really loving and caring for him, he is SO MUCH BETTER. He has a disability (or maybe disabilities) that he will always live with that were present from birth, but he is not skin-and-bones - he is smiling; he is not banging his head against the bars of his crib (at 4 years old) - he is loved. She asks people to think seriously about adoption and what they can do - if not adopt themselves, donate to a family who is trying to bring their child home.

I don't know what to do with this, except to get it out, and to keep praying. I can donate, of course, and there are many places and ways to do so. Child sponsorship is another avenue.

So. If you have at least a million dollars to give away, and a heart for hurting kids, and want to donate to my cause... you know how to get a hold of me, right?

Seriously, though, be praying - not for me (or, not just for me), but for those kids. They need every prayer they can get. Love them through prayer if you can't do anything else. It matters, and it's powerful. Then, do what else you can.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Thinking Deeply: Purpose

In the last couple days I’ve come to the recognition/decision that I don’t spend enough time thinking anymore. Which is weird because I think a lot. I overthink, I plan, and I process things to death. I had a meeting with some of my colleagues on Tuesday, which has been followed by some interactions with articles shared by people from that meeting on a web based (for lack of a better term) chat we are doing together.

Typically, when I blog, I feel much better because I’ve taken the time to put into coherent words things that have been rolling around in my head for a while – several days at least. This time, it’s been only a day and a half since this thought process began. It’s been busy at work (as always) and to be honest I feel a bit guilty about spending time reading and thinking when I have tasks to do. But these thought times are what makes my mind work better, my decisions be faster and more accurate for situations, and begin me on the road to innovating better solutions so I can be more productive in my job and in my life. So it’s not actually a waste of time, even if I feel that way. (note to self…)

I have also been wrestling for about the last month with a large (and daunting) question: Am I really supposed to have a career as an admin? That’s where I’m headed, and I have many skills that make it seem like the right choice, but it is also very stressful to me, even in the best of times. So when you through curves (which of course happens everywhere, and always more frequently than I’d like) the stress just doubles and triples with hardly a backward glance. I honestly don't know if it is the right life-goal for me or not. It may be, but if it is, I have many things I need to learn (either really learn, or learn to cope with).

Part of the “problem” is that I’m too emotional. Word it how you like, but I don’t have the time right now to rethink that bit. I invest much of my emotional energy into everything (ok, 99% of what) I do. Due to this fact, I am almost always drained after work. Even if it was the best day ever, I am not energized, I am exhausted. That isn’t bad, but most people I interact with seem to be the opposite. When they accomplish something they could follow it up by running a marathon. I feel the exhilaration, but it takes it out of me. Yes, hello, my name is Kara, and I am indeed an introvert.

I have learned fairly well in my 33 years ways to counteract this, and how to cope (mostly, and so far at least, I’m quite sure there is much more to be learned). I go through phases of wishing I was more like “everybody” else (knowing that’s not actually accurate), and being super glad I am the way I am – after all, it’s how God made me.

That being said, I have started to try to analyze myself and whether or not I should have an administrative position. What is it that stresses me out? I can manage many tasks and prioritize them, and accomplish them in an appropriate amount of time. Everyone I’ve worked with or for up to this point (8 years so far in this field) has given me high praise for being high capacity and detail-oriented, which is very true. I tell people often in conversations regarding such things that I am not good at vision – coming up with the big picture. But if I am given the end goal, the picture you want to see, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, I can see most (if not all) of the pillars and detours and threats that hold up, detract from, or completely derail the train to get there. That is a really good thing, but it also frequently annoys the visionaries because it also points out inconsistencies or incomplete information in their dream. I love dreams. I have many. But mine get derailed faster because I see the issues and simply don’t start. Not good. Some I pursue, but I get overwhelmed and they get stalled.

Ok. So, when I take time to pick something apart, it can be really good or really unhelpful. However, being wired and being raised in a family who thinks deeply, widely, and frequently, I always feel most alive when I’m processing something that makes a difference – for my work/company, for people I care about, or for myself. Of course, that means I have to come up with a plan of action too, because thinking about stuff and never acting is exactly the definition of a stagnant life.

One article that was shared out of my colleague group this week began with a couple questions – right in the introduction:
"Will you join us on this journey of taking ownership of our lives rather than being victims to it? Will you become one of the people who do beautiful, amazing things with your life?"
What a punch. Right from the off.

Do I think of my life as just something that happens to me? I don’t think I’d say that, but I also clearly hate change while still understanding it is necessary and good. I choose change too! I chose to move to another state. I chose to start a new job. I chose to be an admin, at least for now. Often, smaller changes, like starting projects at home, or dying my hair feel much less heavy. My hair will grow, so if I don’t like it, time will give me another go. It’s just hair. My project at home may take longer, or may end up being abandoned, but it’s worth a try. But bigger changes feel more permanent. Why is that?

The article includes 5 principles, all written in sections. I believe they were blog posts to begin with so they were posted at least days apart if not a week or so. The first section/principle is literally this: “You were designed to change.” It’s about 2½ pages about the good of change, and why we feel we can’t do it, as well as some explanation that God created us that way. But.
“...nobody changes at all if they don’t believe they’re supposed to.
So here’s the question: Do you believe you were designed to change? And if so, what’s stopping you? I mean that literally. What’s stopping you from changing?”
I don’t have an answer to that yet. I am still ruminating. I keep finding more articles, on seemingly different topics, that are relating exactly to my mind and heart right now. I have more processing to do before I share more, (if I remember to do that), but I’m finding encouragement in those things right now. You can too.

For now, I will dedicate time each week, working up to each day, to spend time thinking. Some days I will also process by writing. Others, I won’t. My hope is that it helps me to keep learning and growing and to not lose sight of who I am and who I want to be by being weighed down in my day-to-day tasks and responsibilities. My calling is higher than getting through the work week. I’m thankful today for that realization.

Here are the articles currently rolling around together in my brain:

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Kara Views: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I’m trying something new today. Why? Because these movies are super long and it was the first time I’d seen it and I really didn’t want to write out what was happening along with my reactions/thoughts and bunches of pictures. So you get a few, and lots of thoughts. In order.(Obviously, spoilers abound.)

148 thoughts I had watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
  1. Didn’t expect the On Your Left jokes to start IMMEDIATELY. This means they won’t happen again for the whole flick and I thought it was a running gag… heh heh running gag…
  2. Sam Wilson: The Internet, so helpful. Hahahaha.
  3. Steve’s list is adorable.
  4. “I’m here to pick up a fossil” is the best line.
  5. Doesn’t ask the girl out cuz he knows she’ll say yes. Steve’s a good guy.
  6. No parachute. Steve’s also wicked cool.
  7. Ok… so he’s gonna take out everyone on the ship himself? I mean I guess he can’t get hurt very easily, so…
  8. Apparently Natasha is taking it on herself to get him a girl.
  9. She is also wicked cool.
  10. Who’s this guy? And how did Steve take out everyone else with like or 2 hits and now it takes an entire fight?
  11. And…. Steve looks like a puppy without his helmet.
  12. Epic music, as always. I love this stuff.
  13. “Agent Romanoff is comfortable with everything.” Awkward, Nick Fury. Awkward.
  14. What is all that stuff?? (SPoILErs for HUNGER GAMES) I feel like I did watching Hunger Games when Katniss discovers the weapons in 13.
  15. Name checking Stark. That’s nice.
  16. This time we’re way ahead of the curve.
  17. By holding a gun to everyone on earth and calling it protection.
  18. Cap definitely still wishes it was the 50s.
  19. Smithsonian, nice. Moment with the kid, nice.
  20. Aw, Bucky feels.
  21. AND Peggy feels?? NOT NICE, Marvel/Disney/filmmakers.
  22. PEGGY?!?! Ok, so does he go see her all the time? How did he find her? How long has this been going on? Aw, Peggy. OOOH she helped found SHEILD. Ok, nice to know. mmmm. MEAN she’s slipping…. SADNESS. Do Not Like.
  23. I’m so confused. Nick locked some file and he doesn’t know it? And he can’t get into it?? What?
  24. Hahahah ultimate fighting as an alternative for Cap is the best suggestion ever. Hilarious. Hhhahahhahahahahahahaha
  25. Nick’s car sounds weirdly like Jarvis. Ooh!
  26. WOAH why what the crap?? Nick being attacked is NOT THE BEST

  27. Must be nice to have a car that can drive itself to save you.
  28. “Well what’s not damaged?” Air conditioning fully operational. (Gee, thanks.)
  29. Ok well let’s just say now I understand how Fury got to be a director. He’s fantastic, fairly fearless, and very good at what he does.
  31. That’s “The Winter Soldier” right? It has to be. Yep. Dang. (Also, yes, I know it’s Bucky, who else could it be? Bucky feels followed super soon by face-obscured guy on the side of evil? Has to be Bucky. Stupid. I hate it.)
  32. Cap. Aw. Cute girl. Nat’s neighbor suggestion…
  33. He definitely didn’t leave his stereo on….
  34. Oh, phew, ok it’s Fury.
  35. Shield’s been compromised? Of course. Because this movie needs more stress.
  36. Ok I did not see that explosion coming. Fury doesn’t die, right? I can’t remember. I’ve seen the next 2 movies (Guardians and Avengers: Ultron, but can’t remember Fury in them?!? So I can’t recall if he’s alive?)
  37. SHE’s AN AGENT??? And we’re supposed to trust ANYONE but sure let’s leave dying Fury with this “Agent” chick you JUST found out about to chase the shooter (Winter Solider/Bucky) in STREET CLOTHES? Good idea, Steve. Oh wait, NO.
  38. Where’d his shield come from??
  39. Natasha has feelings. Woah.
  40. This shooter is fast and strong. Had a metal arm. Hmmm, I bet I know who that is…

  41. Agent Hill! Aw, sorry for the circumstances, but it’s nice to see you, Robin! (She’ll always be Robin to me.)
  42. Ok he died. BOO. So, like Coulson, then?
  43. And what in the wORLD is on that jump drive??
  44. Yes, he is, Natasha. Steve cannot tell a lie. That’s why we love him.
  45. Ok he put the thing in the vending machine….somehow I don’t think that’s safe?
  46. Nick bugged Steve’s apartment. Of course. I feel like I should see this stuff coming. Nick is now suspected (or not?) of piracy? Of selling secrets?
  47. OK is THIS GUY the sneak? The Council guy? (Pierce, yes, that’s his name.) Ok well he seems to be serious about finding out who murdered his friend (Nick) so…. But I don’t trust him…
  48. This agent/soldier guy in the elevator. I don’t like him, I don’t trust him. The one who brought him back to headquarters. No trust here. Ew. RIGHLY SO. He’s grabbing his gun…. I’m getting nervous. We stop at every floor and more get on. SO MANY PEOPLE. NOOOO I DON’T LIKE IT. They’re gonna hurt him.
  50. I KNEW IT.
  51. Good thing Steve is so fantastic.
  52. This guy (glasses man) watching on the screen. Is he bad? Soldier man says it’s not personal. Not personal? How is that even possible?
  53. “It kinda feels personal.” (Good answer Cap.)
  54. And now everyone’s attacking Cap? WhAT??
  55. RUN CAP RUN.
  56. Is literally ALL of SHEILD is corrupt? Except maybe Coulson’s group and the Avengers?? What in the world. No. Stop.
  57. Neighbor girl is there. That guy with the glasses who’s telling everyone to hunt Steve was saved on the pirate ship. Grr.
  58. I KNEW IT! He’s a bad guy! The Councilman Pierce is a bad guy! I HATE THIS MOVIE.
  59. Steve is at the hospital. How does he look good even with a hoodie pulled over his head?
  60. Natasha has the jump drive. It’s “safe” oh good. She knows about the Winter Soldier because he shot her. Great. 50 years… does she suspect someone Steve knows?
  61. Ok Natasha and Steve is becoming my favorite pair ever.
  62. “If I run in these shoes they’ll fall off” hahahaha
  63. “The person who developed this is slightly smarter than me. Slightly.” Yeah ok we get it Natasha. Calm down.

  64. The Apple Guy is my favorite. “If you guys need anything, I’ve been Aaron.”
  65. In a mall. Haha… the kiss is adorable even if it was just saving them from being seen.
  66. Steve: “I’m 95. I’m not dead.” (Hahaha)
  67. Natasha: “The file came from these coordinates.”
    Cap: “So did I.” (Like I wasn’t nervous enough before…)
  68. Oh my word it’s the beginning of Shield. It looks like an empty Agent Carter set.
  69. Nat: “Who’s the girl?” (It’s Peggy, Nat. Don’t ask stupid questions. How does she not know about her?)
  70. “If you’re already working in a secret office… why do you need to hide the elevator?” GOOD Question STEVE.
  71. So I don’t want to watch this anymore. It’s too stressful….
  72. OLD tech….But everything started up when she put the drive into the one piece of hardware that looks newer….?
  73. “Shall we play a game?” Nat smirks. Steve looks as nervous as I feel. (Also, should I get that reference?? Apparently I’m as old as Cap.)
  74. Ooh Toby Jones!
  75. Ooh, he’s terrifying. Forgot about that.
  76. Great. Hydra INSIDE SHIELD.
  77. Hydra killed Stark (Howard)? And obviously Fury too. Now Pierce and Project Insight and Hydra are taking over. Great.
  78. Was Nat screaming?
  79. Oh good job with the shield Cap. Thank you for not being dead and for saving (?) Nat. She better not be dead.
  80. Holy crap. Hide!
  81. Is that agent/soldier guy the head of like ALL Hydra missions now?
  82. “Call in the Asset.” Gee, I wonder who that could be.

  83. Now that I’ve been watching this move for like FOUR THOUSAND HOURS Bucky is finally gonna actually show up…. For more than four seconds in profile and quick shots.
  84. Who’s in Pierces’ house? PLEASE TELL ME IT’S Fury and he’s gonna kill … nope, can’t be Nick, Pierce is being friendly.
  85. AH. Bucky. Of course. He doesn't talk?
  86. Poor Renata. :( I hate Pierce.
  87. Steve: “We need a place to lay low.”
    Nat: “otherwise known as everyone we know is trying to kill us.”
  88. Poor Nat. Trading the KGB for Hydra, yeah that’s not really a good thing.
  89. Cap trusts Natasha. Yay. He’s always honest. I definitely like him more and more even if this movie is too stressful.
  90. He died? When? The ice thing? I mean, yes, sleeping for 70 years isn’t really living, but was he actually dead? Cuz of the superhuman thing? Or in hypersleep like the Star Trek baddie?
  91. Sam: “I made breakfast. If you guys eat that sorta thing.” (hhahaa)
  92. Who’s Jasper Sitwell?
  93. Sam, he’s…someone. He’s um… FALcoN YeS That’s IT! Maybe he can help now.
  94. Oh, Jasper Sitwell’s the glasses guy from the Pirate ship, the one who launched the man hunt for Steve, is Hydra, and reports to Pierce.
  95. And Nat’s still setting Steve up with every eligible girl.
  96. Name Check: STEVEN STRANGE!?!?!? (Did I hear that right? Nice and early, guys.)
  97. Who’s ZOLA?? (oh right, Toby Jones, computer man.)
  98. Finally: BUCKY. I mean…. Finally: THE WINTER SOLDIER.
  99. Such a saunter. What swagger you have, Bucky.
  100. Cap is a beast. And fearless. And impressive.

  102. Bucky could be if he wasn’t evil. Poor Bucky. Poor CAP…
  103. YEAH NAT. Something wrong with your arm Bucky? Oh no! Nat! NO!!
  105. Hand to hand with cap and Bucky. Bucky is definitely a machine. In more ways than one apparently.
  106. The mask is gone; Steve sees Bucky’s face. “Bucky?” MY HEART.
  107. “Who the hell is Bucky?” is the worst sentence ever uttered.
  108. Hydra is all here. Great.
  109. Steve’s face. So much emotion.
  110. Steve: “Even when I had nothing I had Bucky.” (*SOB*)
  111. “This thing was squeezing my brain.” Oh Robin Agent Hill, you’re so funny.
  112. YEAH FURY
  113. About stinkin’ time. Nice way to say hello.
  114. Bucky’s memory… poor Bucky. And he’s kept in a cage. You guys are great.
  115. Yeah hit the guy who can squeeze you to death right now. Smart. He’s brainwashed. And lied to. Lovely. I understand now why there’s a Bucky fandom.
  116. Haha, nice try liars. Freedom is exactly what Hydra doesn’t want.
  117. Wipe him and start over? Not cool. And he just goes with it. Oh man. How do they all live with themselves? How do they sleep at night?
  118. Falcon: “Don’t look at me. I do what he [Steve] does, just slower.” (Haha.)
  119. Pierce is gonna kill all the council people. I have a feeling. That’s the attempt at least.
  121. Pierce is gonna kill the council people. I TOLD YOU.
  122. Strike and Insight crew are hydra. Don’t know who else.

  123. YEAH councilwoman who can fight. Fantastic. OOhh, its Nat! NICE.
  124. “Detour” is a nice way to say you’re being chased by bombs and planes shooting at you. Oh, Falcon.
  125. I was wondering when Bucky would show up again. For a movie named after him, he hasn’t been in it much.
  126. That’s one heck of a return, Fury. Nicely done.
  127. From that jump, I think it’s safe to say Cap trusts Sam.
  129. Hydra head soldier: “There are no prisoners through Hydra only order. And order only comes through pain. You ready for yours?”
    Falcon: “Man, shut up.”
    (YES. Thank you.)
  131. He’s so brave, so selfless.
    Cap: “Do it. Do it now!”
    Hill: “But Steve…”
    Cap: “Do it!”
  132. Back to Pierce. UGH.
  133. Good job Nat. Please don’t be dead. Ok thanks.
  134. All those Hydra people are legit CRAZY.
  135. And Steve, who was shot so he’s gonna die BY BUCKY is trying to save Bucky. Of course. Cuz he’s that good.
  136. Nice catch-on Sam. Now go get Steve.
  138. James Buchanan Barnes :(((((
  139. Drop your shield. Good idea NOT REALLY
  140. “I’m with ya to the end of the line.” Yeah. You know him. (*MORE SOB*)
  141. THEY HAD BETTER CATCH CAP. NO, of course, back to the water. Just like the first time he died.
  142. Somebody save him. And save Bucky dang it.
  143. Not liking this movie right now even though yes, I know Cap’s ok in the end.
  144. Oh Bucky saved him by dragging him out of the water. And then leaving.
  145. Where ya going Buck?
  146. Steve wakes up in the hospital. I think Sam’s his new bestie.
  147. Sam: “On your left.” Nice.
  148. Bucky’s file. Aw, I love that Sam’s going with Steve. Good. Glad he won’t be alone as he “goes after” Bucky.

Bonus: 3 thoughts I had watching the Credits scene:
  1. LOKI’s Staff….. ???
  2. I thought Loki got that back?
  3. Those poor twins. They’re gonna be brainwashed like Bucky. Well not exactly like, but you know. Not good.

Extra bonus: 3 thoughts I had watching the After credits scene:
  1. Jerks.
  2. So many Bucky feels….now with Bucky! (*SOB*)
  3. Nice beard. Looks good on ya.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Relationships and Change are Hard

This has been an interesting few days. I've been mulling some thoughts around since Thursday or Friday night last week, but today, during a staff prayer time, it was broadened a bit, but not in the usual way. More like, um, broadened in my mind. Much of the same, but more. That doesn't make much sense, but there you have it.

So. Over the weekend I had conversations with several friends unexpectedly about deeper things. Things that we feel "weird" about, things we are struggling with, things that are making day-to-day life harder than we think it should be. It was a wide range of topics and ranged from our professional to personal lives, as well as our external to our internal lives. The outcome of each was that we would be committed to praying each other through this week. (Thank the good Lord for Christian friends.)

On to today: I don't go to the prayer time every week (though I often wish I could find the time), but some weeks I can tell I need extra time in prayer - not for myself, but for others, and for the fellowship of other believers. And since I'm still fairly new (less than a year, yet) at this job and in this city, these are people I see around (some more than others) but don't necessarily interact with much, and especially not outside of work projects. Today, we talked about navigating times of grief and knowing and trusting that God is still good. Because he is. He really is. It's too easy to lose track of that when you're hurting. Duh. (Yes, I'm typing that.)

Sometimes grief is due to loss of life (in one way or another) - death of a loved one, or even disaster in a city or country. There are SO MANY stories in the news these days about explosions, murders, sex trafficking, lack of clean water, starvation, orphaned children, and the list just keeps going on. But today what struck me was that sometimes the grief we experience is due to smaller things. Things like finances, or relationships, or loneliness, or an overly full task list.

When we see these things in light of the catastrophes around the world, we often push our "little" things away as they aren't really that big of a deal. I'm alive, I have clean water and plenty of food, I have not been sold to slavery of any kind, I have people to lean on, and I am not afraid for my life every moment of the day. But even when we try to put these things into perspective (which is important), we still come out hurting. And sometimes, we push it down well enough that later it erupts and is (or feels) even worse than before.

I don't have a solution, except this: to pray. Pray for one another. Pray honestly, pray often. If you don't know details, that's ok. Pray for the person. Pray for peace, for dependence on God. You can pray that for anyone - a Christian to remember to do so; an unbeliever to turn to him, maybe for the first time. If you do know more details, pray specifically! Boldly ask God for things. Don't forget to pray for yourself as well. It is easy to get hung up there, so always remember to pray for others, but it is important to lift yourself up as well. It builds relationship with him, which is how we really are able to get through. It also helps your relationships with those around you. When you pray for someone it changes your perspective about them. It doesn't fix issues magically, and it may not mean you're besties-for-life now. In fact, you may never talk to them again (see: forgiveness doesn't mean you have to reconcile the relationship to what it was previously). But it does make things better for both of you, even if one of you doesn't know it (yet?).

And... pray for those you don't agree with, for those you don't respect, for those you don't like. If they are in your sphere of influence or interaction, even a little bit, pray for them. Rather than just getting irritated or confused or frustrated, pray! It will take more than that, of course, and you may still have frustration or confusion; conversations will need to happen and solutions found - even if they aren't what everyone wants. But without prayer it becomes 'my way' vs. 'their way' and we pit ourselves against each other when, in the end, we're trying to reach the same goal. (This is often true even if we aren't all Christians - if we're working together, there's a reason, and it usually has some common purpose even if we understand that purpose differently.) So keep on praying!

One more thought and then I'll stop... each time I encounter grief of any kind, a change has occurred. Or many changes have. Even if it is good, and it isn't always, something has been lost. I have found that even when it was something I may have wanted to lose, the loss of it is still jarring to my internal system/thinking and an adjustment has to be made - I grieve what I knew. That idea of grief is fairly new in my working consciousness, and I struggle to not just dismiss it. "I wanted this, what's wrong with me," is often what I hear myself or others saying when good change has happened and they aren't doing well with it. Of course, this is true in unexpected change or changes you weren't entirely sure about as well.

Don't underestimate your struggle. Don't overestimate it either. It's tempting to go one way or the other. Don't diminish, but do keep perspective. Most importantly: do keep praying.

This post is much (MUCH) longer than I anticipated. The following verse is my current email signature on my personal emails. Every time I send an email I'm reminded. I have it posted by my desk at work as well. Romans 12:12NLT says, "Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying." It's the best advice there is. Our confident hope is in Jesus Christ. He has won, so we can rely on him, talk to him, and have patience and yes, even joy.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Kara Views: Thor: The Dark World, Part 2

Aaand we're back! Onward to the second installment of Thor: The Dark World... (Again, internet being dumb-super-slow, so hopefully the rest of the pictures will be incorporated later... sorry if that makes it hard and/or boring to read! But hopefully you can slog through. If it helps, I have confidence in you.)

If you don't recall the first part (now with pictures!), you can read it here (do it do it do it). Ok, time to jump in.

Back on earth again, Darcy is ranting to Ian that no one will call her back, not even S.H.E.I.L.D. (Ian: What’s shield? Darcy: Secret. Shut up, intern, I’m venting here.), and then leaves another message for Selvig before seeing the news report about him on television. Gotta love Darcy. ;)

Heimdall and Thor talk in a bar (? I think?) that Malekith will return. Heimey will not go against his king’s wishes, but Thor says that Odin is blinded by hatred and by grief. Heimey agrees to do whatever Thor asks of him. Thor says it will be treason of the highest order. Success will bring the highest exile and failure will bring death. Thor acts to save Asgard so Malekith doesn’t destroy it. There are ways off Asgard that don’t use the Bifrӧst Bridge, but there is only one who knows the way. Loki.

Thor visits Loki at his cell. Loki is mistrusting and wants to know why, after all this time, Thor comes to him.
Loki: Have you come to gloat? To mock?
Thor: Loki, enough. No more illusions.
The sheen fades and we see a broken Loki. Unkempt, furniture smashed, injured, grieving. He wants vengeance and Thor admits a common interest there. He tells Loki he can have his vengeance and afterward this cell again. Thor also says he can no longer trust Loki, and that if he is betrayed he will kill him. He no longer has hope that his brother is “still in there.” There is a cut to Fandral telling Thor Loki will betray him, to which Thor answers, “He will try.”

They walk together down a hall, Loki is clearly excited to be out. Now we come to one of the best exchanges in this film:
Loki: This is so unlike you, brother. So… clandestine. Are you sure you wouldn’t rather punch your way out?
Thor: If you keep talking, I just might.
Loki: Fine, as you wish. I’m not even here. (He shifts into a simple Asgardian soldier in full armor) Is this better?
Thor: It’s better company at least.
Loki: Still, we could be less conspicuous. (He shifts back to himself, and changes Thor into Sif) Mm, brother, you look ravishing.
Thor: It will hurt no less when I kill you in this form.
Very well, perhaps you prefer one of your new companions, given that you seem to like them so much. (Thor returns to his own form, and Loki becomes Captain America in full costume) Oh, this is much better! Woah. Costume’s a bit much. So tight! But the confidence. I can feel the righteousness surging. Hey! Wanna have a rousing discussion about truth, honor, patriotism? God bless Amer- (Thor stops his mouth and puts him against the wall and he returns to his own form) What? (he follows Thor’s gaze at a pair of guards passing by) You could at least furnish me with a weapon. My dagger. Something! (Thor puts something in Loki’s hands, we hear metal) At last, a little common sense. (He holds up his hands and we see they are in handcuffs.)
(smiles) I thought you liked tricks. (he chuckles)
We keep going back to the planning table as we see their conversation and how it actually plays out. Jane meets Loki. She has a penchant for slapping people. At least Loki deserves it. Odin gives the order to stop Thor with any means necessary. Sif threatens Loki before he leaves with Thor: betray him and I’ll kill you. Moments later, we see Volstagg threaten Loki if he betrays Thor as well.
Volstagg: If you even think about betraying him –
Loki: You’lllllllll kill me? Evidently there will be a line.
Loki and Thor are taking a ship from the hall (one of the villain's abandoned ones) to escape, and Thor has no idea what he's doing. Push the button/I am. Hahaha. Loki keeps telling him what he's doing wrong or that he should do something. This leads us to “Shut up, Loki," which is one of the funniest lines I’ve ever heard Thor say. It just seems so out of place for Mister Proper Speech. And we get to hear it again! Thor turns the ship around in the hall taking out most of the columns.
Loki: I think you missed a column.
Thor: Shut up!
Jane is collapsed on the floor but tells Thor she’s ok when he asks. Asgardian ships are following and shooting at them. Loki is being a very diligent commentator. “Well done, you just decapitated your grandfather.” Thanks for that, Captain Obvious. I preferred you as Captain America.
Loki: This is a tremendous idea. Let’s steal the biggest most obvious ship in the universe and escape in that! … It’s brilliant, Thor! It’s truly brillia-
(Thor hurls Loki out of the ship and jumps out with Jane in his arms, into a skiff piloted by Fandral.)
Fandral: (laughing) I see your time in the dungeon has made you no less graceful, Loki.
Loki: You lied to me! (he smiles) I’m impressed.
Nice one, Thor and Fandral. Nice.

Now the boys are fighting. Shocking. Ahahaha, Loki calls it out. Even their mother wouldn’t be shocked at their fighting. Loki tells Thor to trust his rage. Loki apparently loved Frigga. Good to know.

Meanwhile, Darcy and Ian are pretending Ian is Erik Selvig’s son so they can get him out of the mental hospital. Selvig embraces Darcy and won’t let go until she tells him it’s “getting weird now.”
Ian: Are you alright?
Selvig: I’ve had a god in my brain. I don’t recommend it.
(A flock of birds swirls around Selvig, Darcy and Ian as they leave the hospital. The birds then disappear into a portal.) WELL THAT WAS VERY 'THE BIRDS.' NO THANK YOU. Selvig, at least likes it, because it proves the world is crazier than he is, and he dumps his meds in a trash can.

Jane wakes up on the ship and has demon eyes. She knows Malekith is near. She whispers his name, which is creepy.

Battle scene. Thor and Loki and Jane approach Malekith and his army. Thor still does not trust Loki, as is right, especially since as soon as his handcuffs are off, he pulls his dagger and stabs Thor, kicking him down the mountain. Saying he never cared about Frigga or any of them. He cuts off Thor’s hand as he reaches for the Mjӧlnir. Um, No?

Loki takes Jane and gives her to Malekith. Thor is shown grasping his bleeding stump of a wrist, writhing on the ground in the background. Malekith kicks him over, and raises Jane into the air. He begins to remove the Aether from her as we see the worlds aligning and the Aether doing its work of creating darkness in her mind. She falls to the ground and Thor shouts “Loki! Now!” Ah, yes, I recall. Loki gestures toward Thor whose illusion fades and he stretches his arm (which is completely fine) out to grab the Mjӧlnir. Loki covers Jane as Thor strikes the Aether still hanging in the air with lighting from the Mjӧlnir. It is shredded but not destroyed. It begins to reassemble itself. Malekith seems to have control over it. Yep. It soars into him. Now he has demon eyes. (Like he needed to be any creepier.) One of the soldiers throws a disintegrating bomb and Loki throws Jane out of the path, which means he is sucked toward it. Thor flies by, saving him. They fight the soldiers of Malekith as he gets away on his ship. Loki is surrounded but does fairly well for himself. Thor is being pummeled by the large beasty thing like what we saw in the prison at Asgard. Loki stabs it from behind. It turns and pulls Loki onto the spears. Loki activates the imploding bomb. Loki is dying, and Thor is sad. He hadn’t actually given up hope, now, had he? He says he’ll tell their father what Loki did to save his people, the people of Asgard. Loki says he didn’t do it for Odin, and then Loki dies.

Side note: Is it bad that I still don’t trust Loki enough to believe that he’s dead? I mean, I know I just watched it, but I can’t remember how this ends, and yet I still think he’s gonna resurface…

Jane tells Thor what she saw – Malekith on earth. Thor comforts her that by finding the Aether, she kept Malekith from finding it that much longer. Their tender moment is interrupted by her terrible ringtone, which she answers. It’s Richard (Chris O’Dowd has a name!) and he’s adorable. She keeps him on the line so she can find the portal. Nice job, scientist. Thor and Jane get in the car they find (her car from earlier?) and they go to the apartment. Ah, yes, Thor hanging Mjӧlnir on the coatrack. Haha.

Selvig is thrilled that Loki’s dead but at least he has the courtesy to say he’s sorry.

Oh crap Loki. That soldier doesn’t look like Loki, but I bet you it is. Dang it. He tells Odin a body was found and Odin says “Loki” confirming to Loki that Odin expects him to fail. Boo. Loki and his grudges.GRR.

Of course the coordinates lead to Greenwich. Everything happens in England (see: Doctor Who). They go to Greenwich and start setting up the thing (that no one explains and Ian and Darcy don’t understand) and Malekith’s ship arrives. Screaming, running people, concrete being torn up, you know: the usual.

Something creepy’s going on with the sky. Ah, hello Thor. Malekith is now integrated with the Aether so it’s subject to his will. Great. Nice play by Thor to use the portals. Darcy and Ian get moved by the thing and two of Malekith’s soldiers appear. Ian screams like a little boy. Darcy grabs him and they run.

People in the library are taking pictures and video of Thor out the window instead of running for their lives. Jane calls them out. They point out that “Thor’s out there, with his hammer and everything!” Silly humans more concerned with getting footage of Thor than running for your life. Nice commentary there, writers/directors/producers.

A battle scene ensues between Thor and Malekith as well as the British army? and other ones? that takes us between portals constantly. Ian saves Darcy by using the low gravity to hit the alien soldiers with a car.

And here we have my other favorite interaction:
Darcy and Ian appear through a portal while kissing.  

Jane: Darcy?
Darcy: (drops Ian) Jane!
Erik: Ian!
Ian: Selvig!
Darcy: Mew-mew!
Thor’s Mjӧnir zooms by. 
If I didn't love how she says "mew-mew!" so much, I'd say she really needs to learn the word.

Thor winds up in a tube station, gets on to go back to Greenwich, we have the funny mini-scene of the woman falling against him as the tube starts up – and his cheeky little smirk.

We’re out of time! The Aether is encompassing Malekith’s ship and up into the other worlds. Thor takes the sticks from Jane. He can get close enough. Jane looks (rightly) worried. 

Thor, intelligently, throws the sticks at him so he thinks it’s a weapon – he catches it and loses limbs to other areas.
Malekith: The Aether cannot be destroyed.
Thor: But you can.
Classic hero-to-villain line.

Thor runs at him as he stretches his hand out for his hammer. He defeats Malekith, but falls to earth. Jane runs to protect him from the falling ship. Selvig does the trick one last time and the ship falls on Malekith on his homeworld instead. Thor will be ok. Darcy turns to kiss Ian because why not? The world’s been saved.

The scene shifts to the apartment (Jane's) a couple days later. Darcy reassures her he’ll come back, though last time it was two years… Jane says Thor had some things to work out with his father. After all, he did commit treason on his way out.

Odin talks with Thor in the throne room. Thor says he cannot be king, but he will protect it with his last breath. He says he’d rather be a good man than a great king. He tells Odin he doesn’t do it for Jane, that whatever he does is
Odin: One son who wanted the throne too much, and one who does not want it at all. Is this to be my legacy?
Thor: Loki died with honor. I will try to do the same. Is that not legacy enough?
Odin refuses to give his blessing. But then he says: If I were proud of the man my son had become, even that I could not say. It would speak only from my heart. Go, my son. (Finally, some caring coming through... I think.)

Aaaand, then we see Odin is actually Loki in one of his illusions. Great. (I TOLD you he’d be back!)

The credits roll.

Credits scene: This is obviously a teaser for Guardians of the Galaxy. Though why Sif and Volstagg are there doesn’t make sense to me. The Collector is creepy. The tesseract. Right. So he’s going to keep it safe. Uh, right.
The Collector: One down. Five to go.
So he’s collecting them for the evil guy? The red one I can’t recall the name of right now?? What the heck?

The music swells as the rest of the credits roll. This stuff is so … it makes you want to DO something. It’s like … motivational music. Thrilling in the best way. Then it slips into what sounds like loyalty-to-country-slash-funeral music for Frigga. Sad/soothing. I like this kind too. Good job, composer(s) and musicians.

After credits scene!
In the apartment, everyone (Darcy, Ian, Selvig, Jane) putzing around. We hear thunder. Thor appears on the balcony and Jane rushes out to meet him. They embrace in a kiss.*

Then, randomly, we see birds flying out of the warehouse and a giant lizard thing appearing next to it and chasing them. Guys, Jurassic World isn’t in the Marvel world. Wrong franchise. (Haha, yes, I know, it's one of the things from Malekith's world that escaped and is harmless or something. Still it looks like a Jurassic creature and a mistake of which world we're in - but it is funny.)

OK! That’s the end of my take on Thor: The Dark World! *whew*

*End note: The end scene of Thor and Jane kissing is Chris Hemsworth and his wife, Elsa Pataky, who’s the same height and build as Natalie Portman, as she (Natalie) was unavailable to shoot the additional scene. How sweet. :)

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Kara Views: Thor: The Dark World

Because movies (especially like this) are long, sometimes (like now) I will opt to break it into a couple (or more) posts. This one will be two.

I have seen Thor: The Dark World before, but it’s been a while, and I had not seen the rest of the Marvel movies leading up to it when I did. Then, about 6 months ago, I decided to start with Iron Man and watch them in order of release (skipping only The Hulk with Edward Norton). About a month and a half ago I watched Iron Man 3, which brings us to today. I’m really mostly watching it again since I now have more context for it and may catch more references this time around (don’t hold your breath), and I also really want to watch Cap 2, which I won’t do until I’ve seen this again. Plus, who doesn’t love a little Zac Levi? (That’s right folks, he’s in this one.) ;)

The Marvel music begins (listen!)
  with the Marvel pre-credits logo rolling and what began as an “I’ll-watch-this because-I’m-making-myself” has turned into an “I-can’t-wait-for-this-to-start.” The type of excitement you feel in your chest because the anticipation has grown so high. Music goes a long way fast, people. Good composers are not appreciated enough. I am seriously grinning where moments ago I looked like I couldn’t be more bored.

Ah, Anthony Hopkins with the intro voice over. “Dark elves…” will never cease to make me think of The Lord of the Rings. Sorry not sorry. And hello, Nine. Oh wait, I mean Malekith. Right – he’s evil in this one (like most other things he’s been in). Good to see Christopher Eccleston anyway, even if he’s an evil alien-god-type creature.

The Aether looks terrifying. It’s like blood that floats through the air. Oh this is history, right. Ok so Odin’s father Bor fought this war against Malekith. You have to admit, even in alien tongue, Chris Eccleston has a great voice. Very commanding. Terrifying. The dark elves fall because Asgard takes the weapon from Malekith, who then sacrifices his people to keep the chance to rebuild his homeworld.
Odin: And the Aether was no more. Or so we believed.
Bor: Bury it deep where no one will find it. Yeah, that’ll work.
Loki in chains, still smirking as always. It’s in these moments that I see why people find him appealing. Of course Tom Hiddleston is, himself, but Loki is evil. Perhaps not the same evil as Malekith, but not good like Thor, or even Odin.

Odin, for having been a fairly good father, is suddenly very harsh and mean with Loki. Which, given what happened in Thor makes some sense, but taking and raising Loki as a son to then simply yell at him (literally) that his birthright is not a kingdom (though he was born a prince) but rather was to die seems to be going a bit overboard.

Thor and his friends are in battle on Vanaheim presumably to “fix what Loki has done” as Odin said, and we get our first glance at Zachary Levi taking over the role of Fandral.

Side note: I just remembered we’ll get more Darcy in this movie, and I cannot wait. I love her.

Uh, giant stone looking giant thing. Not good. Of course, as were only about 5 minutes into this movie, I’m sure Thor will beat him. Probably easily. Yup. One swing of the hammer.
Thor: Anyone else?

 Oh, you.

Seems the peace is nearly won and Thor thanks the leader there saying he can come to Asgard later. Heimdall takes them home.
Odin: You must think I’m a piece of bread, that needs to be buttered so heavily.
Ooh, son, don’t tell me I should be there, you did just fine without me.
Odin warns Thor of his confused and distracted heart, and Thor immediately mentions Jane. Odin tells him that the lives of humans are short, and he should embrace his victory and prepare to ascend the throne as king.

Celebrations. Men with arms around multiple women and drinking to celebrate success of the battle. This is what it is always like in these historic type settings in movies. Um, probably for historical reasons?

Meanwhile, on earth, Jane is on a date. Why is Jane on a date? But that guy… (who is he? … ah, yes, Chris O’Dowd.) I like him, but he certainly won’t win out against Thor. Poor guy. OH, poor guy! Poor cheated on guy. Aw. :(

DARCY! Yay! I love that she just sits down and starts eating. She never stops talking, does she? Jane says she better have ReASONS for interrupting. Oh, she has reasons. She mentions the “science-y thing” and that it seems to be malfunctioning but that the readings are ones that Erik was talking about. Wait, I can’t recall if Erik (Selvig) got… er… fixed? or not. Is he still under Loki’s spell? Or is he crazy because he has been?

Repeating sea bass isn’t gonna help, Jane. Give up. Go with Darcy. Good girl. Thank you. Bye O’Dowd. Good luck with the next one.

Darcy has an intern. Hilarious. He’s adorable. Darcy is a crazy driver, as you would expect. Not sure where they’re going. Maybe to their lab to check out the “science-y thing.”

Oh, I’m recalling as Jane calls Selvig, that he’s nuts in this one. Yup. iTV news with the story. We are in London, after all.
Darcy: Come on, this is exciting. Look! The intern is excited!
Ian: Ian.
Darcy: (ignoring him completely, speaking to Jane) Do you want the phase-meter? Look dude, I can’t be bothered to remember who you are. I’m just excited there’s an intern, ok? OK. (my insertion)
Jane: No.
Darcy: Bring the phase-meter. (chucks the keys at Ian) The toaster-looking thing.
Ian: (mostly to himself) Yeah, I know what the phase-meter is.
Oh Ian, don’t worry. I bet you’ll get her in the end (he does, right? I can’t recall)
They walk toward an abandoned building.
Darcy: (to Jane) The intern says it’s this way.
Ian: Ian, my name’s Ian.
Makes you wonder how long Darcy’s had him around. Too funny. She’s like Fandral in reverse. Poor Ian. Now there’s a floating truck. Weird. I forget what this means. Portal? It’s very Doctor Who. Or, ahem, Portal. And now we’ve lost the phone. Sometimes they come back, sometimes they don’t. Now you tell me.
Jane: I haven’t seen readings like this since…
Darcy: New Mexico? (smirks) Gimme your shoe.
Car keys in the portal. Good idea Ian. Good grief.

Um. Jane just got sucked through a wall. Not good. She shouts for Darcy, but of course she’s likely on another world now. Hey, that looks like the Aether. Not good at all! I’m didn’t remember that this movie was this dark. Oh, things are coming back to me now. This is NOT GOOD. Jane collapses and we see Malekith’s ship floating in space and it seems he is waking up out of a deep slumber.
Malekith: The Aether awakens.
No crap, dude.

On Asgard, Thor comes to speak with Heimdall.
Heimdall: You’re late.
Thor: Merriment can sometimes be a heavier burden than battle.
Heimdall: Then you’re doing one of them incorrectly.
Haha. Nice jab, Heimey.

Heimdall and Thor discuss the convergence and Jane. Heimey (yes, I'm calling him that from now on) says he can no longer see her, at which point we cut to her being enveloped by the Aether. She awakens in the middle of the warehouse and rushes outside and starts yelling at Darcy. And uh, it’s not raining on her. Weird.

Thor’s here! She runs to him, leaving Darcy in the rain, and smacks him. Haha. Twice. Ok, gimmicky, but whatever. This is the sappy part. Not gonna lie, sappy as it is, I do love it. I am a chick-flick girl, after all.

Seriously, this could just be a post of the things Darcy says which crack me up. Which is about 99% of her dialogue. One more interaction, and then I’ll try to stop.
Darcy: (interrupting said cheesy moment with Thor and Jane, pointing to sky, addresses Thor) Is this you?
The rain stops.
Jane: Uh, we’re kinda in the middle of something here.
Darcy: Um, I’m pretty sure we are getting arrested.
Jane: (to Thor) Hold that thought. (She heads toward the police.)
Darcy: (to Thor, poking his chest and grinning) Look at you! Still all muscly and everything. How’s space?
Thor: Space is fine.
Seriously. Laughing out loud and bothering my neighbors.

Jane blows up the whole (little) area when the policeman tries to take her arm. It’s the Aether, and it’s creepy. Thor runs to her and helps her up. Then they are beamed up (sorry, don’t know what else to call it) by Heimey (not Scotty haha, ok sorry) to Asgard. At least this time Darcy sees it happen so she knows Jane’s not exactly lost.

On Svartalfheim, his homeworld, Malekith discovers that the Aether has indeed woken, but is no longer there. He declares his intentions to make Asgard pay and to reclaim his world.

Jane is being cared for on Asgard as Thor looks on. Oh, that girl, the nurse talking to Thor… she’s from Doctor Who too. She was in the Library. Sorry, chute. Back to the movie. This nurse tells Thor Jane won’t survive the amount of energy surging through her. Jane proves her smarty pants brain by knowing what it is they’re doing – even if they use a different name for it.

Dear old dad (Odin) says to send her to earth for their doctors to deal with her – that is, until she can’t be touched without her body (the Aether, really) defending itself. Ah, yes, now Odin will help. As it’s related to the Aether. Apparently, it can take host bodies and uses their life force to bring darkness. And the book Odin has doesn’t give instruction for removing the Aether. Great. Also, Odin believed the Dark Elves were all killed by Bor, his father, which we know isn’t true, and that the Aether was destroyed, which he now knows isn’t true because it’s there, in Jane. Super smart, aren’t you, Odin.

Malekith’s servant Algrim is very true. He will sacrifice and destroy everything for his leader’s cause. Always good to have a loyal servant.

Loki in prison. His mother visits him, how nice. But he is ungrateful and rude to her.
Loki: …I was born to be a king.
Frigga: A king? A true king admits his faults.
Touché, my lady.

He tries to touch her hand and she disappears. She was only there as a projection or perhaps she can appear and disappear like Loki can. In any case…does that mean she’s projecting in, or that he’s imagining her there? Odin did say he’d not see her again. Perhaps not in physical proximity.

Thor and Jane talk on a balcony. He’s always the protector of Jane while sort of guarding her with his stance. He explains the convergence of the worlds to her. All I can thing is that her hands are tiny compared to his. It’s sort of funny.

Ew. Down in the dungeons someone has just pulled a heart out of someone (or maybe out of himself), and the guy looks like he’s gonna explode…so his heart was a grenade pin? Yep. He’s some kind of fire being. Trying to escape. Prisoners dying by being forced against the cages’ electrical-magical barriers. Who is this guy? He looks sort of like Malekith’s armor, so maybe it’s Algrim? Or one of their race at least? In any case he kills a couple guards and frees other prisoners, but does not free Loki, despite their touching moment staring at each other. Loki suggests the real way out for him.

Fandral’s making the jokes while trying to subdue the prisoners. Loki sitting in a corner reading like he’s a content as anything. Thor comes to help get everything under control Odin gives instructions to his army to deal with the issue. Frigga obviously has a plan and tells Jane to do everything she asks, no questions.

Cut to Heimey running up the bridge because he’s amazing and could see the ship even though it was invisible. Nice but not quick enough. Sorry Idris. He does manage to crash it, but as it was only a decoy, the others come quickly behind it. Just like that, they’re at war with Malekith.

Many are dead in the halls of Odin, and the guy we saw in the prison (not Algrim, turns out he’s with Malekith) walks into the heard of the palace and disables the shield. The ships fly directly into the building. So much damage. Fandral and Thor react to the dust falling on their heads in the dungeon. Loki looks smug, and not at all surprised. Creepy as usual.

Malekith apparently didn’t lose all his people because there are many of them fighting for him now. They have a weapon that seems to disintegrate whomever it hits. Malekith saunters in, heading toward the throne, and destroys it with a disintegrating bomb thing. We get a shot of Loki as the only one still in his cell. Odin realizes that Frigga will be attacked in her rooms. Malekith walks into her chambers and they fight. Jane hides as she has been instructed, but Malekith knows she has the Aether, and he wants it back. But of course, Frigga has projected her there so she is safe. Frigga dies at the hand of Algrim, and Thor arrives a moment too late. He attacks Malekith, but he gets away. Odin and Thor grieve over Frigga and Jane enters the room.

The scene shifts to Frigga’s funeral. It is a somber moment, but there are few tears. She is put out to sea on her berth, and arrows are shot to light it aflame as it sails over the waterfall. She turns into starlight and is drawn into the heavens of Asgard. Loki is informed, and after the guard leaves him, we see the slightest emotion from him as he throws all his furniture with one swift movement of his power.

Erik Solveig is teaching the details of the alignment to... the mental ward, and we get our Stan Lee cameo.

The Aether calls to Jane. She sees it taking over all of Asgard. Her eyes look like a demon’s. But when she blinks it clears and she’s herself again. She’s brought before Odin. Fandral tells the King
that they are all but defenseless. Thor comes to discuss his plan with Odin, which involved Malekith taking the Aether from Jane and destroying it and him when it is vulnerable. Odin would rather use every drop of Asgardian blood to wipe him out than risk losing against Malekith. Thor asks him how he is different from Malekith, and Odin says “because I will win.” Ok, then.

Until next week....

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Kara Views: When Calls the Heart

I recently finished watching season one of this Hallmark Channel Original series, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Shout out to Stephanie who gave me the kick in the pants to start watching it! I had begun once before but had trouble getting into it, and gave up. She encouraged me to keep going and I'm so glad I did. It's cheesy, old-west-y, Hallmark-y goodness. This will be a long post because of the inclusion of the season one background information.

**Note: This show likes to change scenes OFTEN. So, while I'll try to keep it clear that we're changing by not just having one big body of text, I apologize in advance for the back and forth and back again nature of this. It doesn't make for good writing. But it is what it is. I'll try to still make it worth reading - and not give you a headache in the process!

Season one synopsis from dove.org:
“When Calls the Heart” tells the captivating story of Elizabeth Thatcher (Erin Krakow), a young teacher accustomed to her high society life, who receives her first classroom assignment in Coal Valley, a small coalmining town where life is simple, but often fraught with challenges. Lori Loughlin plays Abigail Stanton, a wife and mother whose husband, the foreman of the mine, along with a dozen other miners, has just been killed in an explosion. The newly widowed women find their faith is tested when they must go to work in the mines to keep a roof over their heads. Elizabeth charms most everyone in Coal Valley, except Constable Jack Thornton (Daniel Lissing) who believes Thatcher’s wealthy father has doomed the lawman’s career by insisting he be assigned in town to protect the shipping magnate’s daughter. Living in a 19th century coal town, Elizabeth will have to learn the ways of the frontier if she wishes to thrive in the rural west on her own.
Here come the spoilers, so you're ready for season two.

There are several characters I love who deserve more space than this, but for getting-going reasons, I will just give you the major plot points that are important to move forward. When/if we encounter these other folks, I'll fill you in as we go. When we ended season one, Mr. Gowan (head of the mining company, and thus, basically the whole town) was being as evil as usual and worrying all of us that he will do something dastardly to ruin our lives. Elizabeth decided to stay in Coal Valley instead of taking a teaching job back home near her rich family. Abigail was falling for the lawyer Bill Avery who's helping with the case of the mine disaster. Or, she was until she found a picture of his wife and child in his room when he asked her to get something for the judge. AND, Mountie Jack finally (!) told Elizabeth how he really felt (she's the one!).

So now, we move on to season two! Episode one is "Trials of the Heart." Woah, we've got an hour and a half to go on this one. Ok. GO.

Well if the credits are any indication, Elizabeth's going home and it's going to seem very ... Downton Abbey. Not sure I'm ok with that (much as I loved Downton).

Oh, I forgot how adorable Jack is. He's super adorable. And he's teasing her already. Ah, new love. Haha. Of course, in the middle of the most adorable (read: cheesy) riding lesson every, we are treated to Mr. Gowan meeting the new judge. Ew. Gowan gives me the creeps.

Shoot. Jack's ex-fiance is still here. Forgot about her and that she was gonna stay. Miss Rosemary LaVeaux with her giggles and false friendliness. She's super annoying and frustrating.

The lawyer arrives, and is a woman. How shocking for this town and time. Good old high strung Florence is gonna hate this. Yup, she does. She wants to hire someone else who won't lose. Good ol' Jack welcomes Miss Samantha (Sam) Madison and says he's grateful she's here. Keeper of the peace, that guy.

And why, why (!?) is the judge friends with Gowan. The last judge (who was known to be cantankerous) has recently left under strange circumstances.
Judge Parker: You didn't have anything to do with that now, did you Mr. Gowan?
Gowan: Man got bit by a rattlesnake...
Judge Parker: Yes, in his room!
Gowan: (smirking) An unfortunate situation. Because I did it but don't want to get caught. 
(I will sometimes put words in their mouths. Hey, if the shoe fits...)

Sam Madison (the lawyer for the widows) seems suspicious of these men. Rightly so. And the judge isn't playing nice with her. Only with Gowan and his lawyer. Ugh. At least the widows are being friendly with her now.

Jack checks in with Elizabeth and Abigail about Madison and the judge.
Jack: Let's just say... I have heard he has a unique interpretation of justice.
Oh crud. 

Abigail has a confrontation with the judge who's playing poker with the defendant (Gowan). At least it gave Abigail and Bill Avery time to clear the air. I wondered if it was that his family had died. Sheesh. Glad that's cleared up. Now they can go back to their courting in peace (for now... I expect Gowan will shake things up somehow. It always seems to be him).

And of course, Elizabeth and Rosemary (Jack's ex), are cooking together at Abigail's cafe for the afternoon so Abigail can have some time with Bill. Jack walks in on them fighting (well, Rosemary's very passive aggressive and Elizabeth is her blunt self) about who's the better cook. Those of us watching know Elizabeth burns most things. When they notice him standing there, he just says, "You know, uh, I'm really not that hungry after all," and tries to leave. Good luck, Jack.

Nope. Both ladies are going to make him try it. Yikes. Good man, as always he eats Elizabeth's - and doesn't grimace. At least she admits she's not a great cook.

Ah, what's this? A telegram? Elizabeth, your mother's sick. Come home as quickly as you can. SHOCKING. (grr.) Jack is gonna go with her to ensure a safe journey. He insists. How gentlemanly. But I smell issues with the rich family coming on...

Mr. Sweeney, who we've never heard of, is apparently going to testify because he knew Noah (Abigail's deceased husband). Gowan's report is a forgery. Again, shocking. But for some reason, I don't trust this guy. One witness with no paper report... they'll need all the luck and prayer they can get. I'm concerned about this witness. Especially with his reaction to "oh, you'll only pay me for this with food." I mean he seems ok with it, but... I don't think he really is.

In Hamilton, Jack and Elizabeth run into a "friend" of hers as they get off the train. Jack is making me laugh out loud.
Elizabeth: Very upper crust. Her family's been around forever.
Jack: Like the plague.
Haahaha. You go Jack.

A random girl walks out of the train station and sees an article in the newspaper about the upcoming coal mining trial, looks concerned, and walks off. What is that about? Weird. WEIRD.

Now, we see a motorcycle coming into Coal Valley and all the young boys are fascinated. Who's this guy? This show has taught me to not trust anyone. Good grief. And he's already flirting with Rosemary. Oh my.

Hamilton again, and we meet the family. Oh Julie, her little sister. Naive but sweet. And Viola her older sister. Not super excited to see her sister. Good times. Ah, it's because we all know Jack has kissed her. Scandalous! Viola seems like a peach. (Smell the sarcasm?) And her father, Mr. William Thatcher, is exactly as you'd expect him to be. Don't upset your mother with anything which of course means, don't even think about Jack. *rolls eyes*

Jack and Elizabeth meet in town and he says she owes him another kiss to pay for horse riding lessons. She kisses him on the cheek and says, "Consider it a down payment." We then get to see Daniel Lissing's adorable dimples. Nice perk to this show.

Trial time in Coal Valley. Gah. Gowan is evil and Judge Parker seems to be in his pocket. Gowan's counselor is a suck up and creepy too. Yuck.

Back to the big house... sisters talking about Jack... and we run into CHARLES? Who the heck is Charles?! Shoot. I smell love triangle (numero dos). Blech. Just let these people be happy, people! Charles is a handsome devil, I'll give you that. And of course, they haven't seen each other for several years. And he works for her father. Her parents are too proud of this set up.

Jack meets Tom, his brother at a bar in Hamilton. You've grown. You too. Aww. But of course Tom's a troublemaker.

Mr. Sweeney's up at the trial, and he is a liar. He gets on the stand and says the opposite of what he said to them in the cafe. He's been paid off. Gross. So much speculation. So much lying. This is so irritating. I knew that Sweeney was bad news. And he's running away! Coward.

Rosemary and the motorcycle stranger are talking about the trial and she wonders why he's interested. Yes, good question Rosemary. Why IS a stranger interested in the mine trial. And does he have a connection to that strange woman we saw earlier? Hm...

We now follow a lovely walk in the garden at the Thatcher's house. Aw, Charles and Elizabeth grew up together. Great. (He really seems nice...) The truth of it - C: Elizabeth, are you ruling out coming home? What exactly is keeping you there? Something other than teaching? E: Yes. He's very special. Charles at least takes this well and says they can remain friends, that nothing will stop that (not giving up, are we chap?). Her father is spying and hoping they'll get together, but her mom knows better than to get hopes up prematurely. She's also lightheaded. Not good.

Back at the trial, the judge overrules a request for a mistrial and calls for closing statements. Oh! The mystery woman shows up, finds the mystery man, and is looking for "Mr. Sam Madison"... let's hope she's a witness. Hugs to the lawyer, good, I think this is good. Oh crap, was Noah cheating? No! Oh my. She's Clara Stanton. Peter Stanton's widow. Peter was the son. We did NOT know he was married. And we have the original report! Hooray! That's right Gowan, rub your eyes. You've lost. Thank goodness the judge isn't crooked enough to throw things out without cause. Seems this might actually be ok. (That's Gowan to the left there. Grim, huh? Sometimes I wish he'd be redeemed but I don't expect it will happen.)

Gowan and his counselor are trying to figure out how to get out of this, and literally have a conversation about how to prove the girl was lying (she wasn't, which is clear from their conversation). Pay whatever it takes. Ew.

Back to Tom and Jack in the bar in Hamilton. Tom got in a fight and put in jail. "No big deal..." and he's a drinker. Great. And he owes people money. Aaaand of course they get thrown out just in front of Elizabeth and her sisters. And also of course, Julie has a crush on Tom, because he's male and he moves and she just met him.

Gowan's lawyer is trying to bribe the judge. Parker says it's a federal crime, and is told by the lawyer to think of it as future poker game winnings. He tells the lawyer he's very clever. Ugh.

Abigail and Clara (Peter's bride) bonding over the only picture she has - of their wedding. How sweet. And heartbreaking.

HOORAY THE JUDGE MADE THE RIGHT CALL. But now the mine is shut down so no one has jobs. And Gowan is lying about his part in it. But it can't be proven, and Gowan too is an employee so he's out of a job... but I bet he's not done yet. That's scary in it's own right.

Still don't know who mystery man is...and Clara won't entertain the thought of staying. Something's up...

Oh yeah, the judge gave his bribe to Abigail. Nice.
Judge Parker: Mrs. Stanton, this is for the widow's fund. (He opens the bag slightly so she can see how much money there is.) And if you tell anyone, I'll say you're a liar.
Cheeky. ;)

Now we're gonna be a saw mill town instead of a coal town. Ok...? The mystery man, who's name is Leland Coulter, asks for a guide to help him find an office for his mill. Abigail made me laugh by rolling her eyes at Rosemary's jump to be Coulter's guide. Also, now Abigail can move on with Bill. New life. New start.

Jack brought flowers to the party for the mother. Sweet. He's not just an escort for your daughter, lady. He's in love with her. 
Hoity-toity sounding Aunt Agatha: William who's the man in the suit?  
William (Elizabeth's father): Elizabeth's Mountie friend. I hate him simply because I don't know him and he's obviously not rich, and so I am going to keep pushing Charles Kensington at her.
Ew. Charles arrives and he brought flowers too - and they're more fancy than Jack's. Elizabeth introduces them and then is whisked off by her mother to talk to her aunt. This conversation ensues:

Charles: So, the life of a Mountie must be dangerous. Especially on the frontier. Jack: Yeah, it has its good days and its bad days.
Charles: I'm guessing having to escort Elizabeth to Hamilton was one of the good days.
Jack: That wasn't an assignment.
Charles: Oh. So she asked you to come.
Jack: Well actually, I insisted.
Charles: (looks uncomfortable) Well, I'm glad you did. She can be rather
          Jack: Ha! Yeah, I've noticed. even if it isn't always in her best interest. (brief pause) So, 
          working with Elizabeth's father must be interesting.
          Charles: He's really taken me under his wing. Sometimes it feels like I'm the son he never           had. Take that, Mountie. (Charles walks away.)  

dun dun DUNNNN

The dinner conversation revolving around horses (boring) and Jack's being thrown out of a "drinking establishment" (uh, oh for Jack) ended up being quite entertaining. Even for Aunt Agatha. Nice.

After a joke from Jack regarding dessert, Aunt Agatha is quickly starting to become a favorite of mine:
Aunt Agatha: Your Mountie has a very nice sense of humor, my dear.
Elizabeth: He isn't my Mountie, Aunt Agatha.
Aunt Agatha: (raises eyebrows) Oh, isn't he?
Dear old dad brings Jack a drink while they all watch Charles and Elizabeth play the piano together. Jack is trying to be as polite as possible, without backing down from Elizabeth. Her father is playing the "she follows her heart instead of her head" card. Not fair. She deserves money? Is that what you're saying dad? Jack for the win.
Jack: I'm sure you don't have to worry about that sir. If she follows her heart, I'm sure she'll be just fine. 
In Coal Valley, Rosemary and Coulter are flirting again. Ok if Rosemary goes for this Leland Coulter guy, I might grow to like her. Also, just like that we're changing the name of the town? I mean I get that it's weird to have a town that doesn't do coal be called Coal Valley, but that seems abrupt. The trial just ended an hour ago (I'm estimating in-world time).

Oooo, Jack pulled out the "Miss Thatcher" to say goodbye at the Thatcher's party. Not good. Poor Jack. Poor Elizabeth.

Shoot. During a brief encounter between Coutler and Bill Avery we see that Bill has a packet of what looks like counterfeit or bribe money for something we don't know yet. WHY. He JUST got back on our good sides. I don't know if Coulter saw it or not.

Ok I like Hope Valley. Good choice on the new town name, people. Gowan buddies up to Coulter after the name reveal. Coulter, don't trust Gowan! Gowan says he's staying in town because it's such a good town, and he'll take advantage of any opportunity he can. Taking advantage indeed. Gowan is so evil! Yuck!

Aunt Agatha with the advice for Elizabeth who's realizing she missed home more than she thought.
Elizabeth: I didn't realize I missed it here. And how good it is to see everyone. Even Viola.
Aunt Agatha: Viola? Let's not go overboard. 
I also love that Aunt Agatha is the one encouraging her to tell Jack how she feels so he doesn't confuse her need to be with her family for a change in heart. You go, Aunt Agatha!

Elizabeth rushes to the Hamilton train station and says she doesn't want to part that way, giving him a kiss on the cheek to "take with him" as he goes.

Next episode: "Heart and Soul"
42 minutes