Monday, May 31, 2010
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Thursday, May 27, 2010
I think the picture below (detail above) has been around for a while. . .
But I hadn't seen this one until today!
So far so good. I must say, though, I'm looking forward to seeing some pics of the latest Edward Fairfax Rochester. . .
Click here to view full-size versions of both pictures.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
What is beauty? How do you define it?
Since the beginning of mankind, womankind has been obsessed with the pursuit of superficial beauty. A rare few have had the wisdom to pursue inner beauty instead of or in addition to this. Contrary to popular belief, I don't think the desperate pursuit of physical beauty is always vanity-related. Sure, it can often spring from a selfish, narcissistic character - but I don't think it's as simple as that.
Who doesn't love beautiful things? Who isn't a passionate admirer of beauty? It could be in a landscape, a ray of light, a painting, a flower, a strain of music, a pretty girl. Whether it's a stunning landscape or a stunning woman, the general reaction is to stare dumbstruck for a few moments. :-) There are echoes of the Creator in all of this - both in the existence of beautiful things, and in our ability to admire those aforesaid things. We are made in His image. Do you think a frog takes any particular joy in looking at a waterlily covered in dewdrops, or a delicate spray of ferns? Only humans have the ability to recognise and appreciate beauty.
Does anyone remember this post I wrote a few months ago? The gist of it was that I sometimes get an odd, depressed feeling when I see the same old shabby houses in a shabby corner of town, and there is absolutely nothing I can do to "beautify" them! I think the same can be true of our attitude toward our bodies. We see some "flaw", some (in our opinion) ugly feature that needs to be fixed or covered up! We all tend to turn up our noses in disdain at the mere mention of plastic surgery, but I think I can partly understand why plastic surgery can be so addictive for some women (or men, in some cases!). The possibility of correcting something "wrong" with your appearance (bear in mind that showing any sign of ageing is seen as seriously "wrong" in our culture,) must be very tempting, and once you start, I can understand that it would be hard to stop - and hard to know when to stop.
Speaking as a woman, I can say that a major motivator for women in trying to keep up an attractive appearance is to bring pleasure to others, not just to feel good about yourself or puffing up your vanity. If you're married, you want to look good for your husband, and if you're single, you want to look pleasant and pretty - but hopefully without the intention of drawing inappropriate attention to your body. Modesty really is a heart issue. If you seek all your self-worth through the admiration of others, there's obviously a problem somewhere! But do you get what I'm trying to say? The desire to make yourself look pleasant is not necessarily vanity-related. I'm not sure if this is all making sense, so I'll move on. . .
I don't think it's wrong to dress attractively (but modestly, please!), to style your hair, or wear makeup (though I don't wear it myself). By all means, make the most of what you've got. But don't ever forget about the beauty of the human spirit. Don't forget about cultivating inner peace and beautiful character traits. If you're stressed, angry, complaining, and discontented on the inside, it will show. Equally so, if you're contented, at peace, and happy on the inside, it will show. If you cherish a genuine love and concern for the people around you, that will make you more beautiful than anything else could: even if you feel you are UGLY (and personally I'm convinced that very, very few people are genuinely "ugly" - there's always some good feature or other!), by the time someone has known you for 30 seconds, in their eyes you will be one of the most beautiful people they know. Have you ever noticed that you practically never think about whether your parents or other close family members or friends are "ugly"? Your mum and dad have (I pray!) cared for you and loved you to the best of their ability, and to you, what they look like on the outside doesn't matter in the least.
This is all a major challenge for myself, too!! Oh well. . . over the course of my lifetime I can at least endeavour to live up to some of my fine words voiced in the above paragraph. . .
I don't want to get legalistic about these things - each woman must act according to her own personal convictions - but what are your thoughts on cosmetic surgery? Botox injections? Colouring your hair? Are you okay with some or all of these things? Or do you perhaps even think it is morally questionable to alter your appearance in such a way - to tamper, as it were, with the way God has made you?
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Having just finished watching it, I had to write a post on this film. I had never even heard of it until yesterday, when I heard (perhaps I should say read) someone recommend it online (thanks Charity!! :-) ). What an outrage. . . it's a beautiful little film, and deserves to be far more widely-known and widely-viewed than it currently is.
The setting is 19th Cornwall, in England's beautiful, rugged West Country. Young Amy Foster (Rachel Weisz) is something of a village outcast. Her birth was marred by scandal. But besides that, she is - different. She always was different from the other children. Some say she is stupid, others even say she's a witch. Perhaps partly because of the years of hurt and humiliation, she rarely talks to any person. The sea is her closest companion.
A terrible shipwreck occurs off-shore from Amy's village. The ship was full of immigrants from the Ukraine - they were bound for America. Not one person survived the wreck - or so it was thought. Outside her kitchen window, Amy sees a bedraggled stranger (Vincent Perez) stumbling towards the house. The master of the house calls him a lunatic, beats him up and locks him into one of the outbuildings. Later in the in the night, Amy sneaks out to feed and tend to the by now barely-alive "lunatic" - who was of course the sole survivor of the shipwreck. The next day, the stranger is taken away, but he never forgets the girl who gave him bread.
And so begins the acquaintance between two outcasts - odd, unfathomable (in society's eyes) Amy and Yanko, the strange young foreign man with not a word of English.
It's a good, old-fashioned, sweeping, tragic romance. If you like Wuthering Heights, Tess of the D'Urbervilles, or Lorna Doone, this will be right up your alley. Having said that, this film is positively sweet and mellow when compared with Tess or Wuthering Heights, LOL! The protagonists are likeable (unlike WH!!), and even though there is tragedy, the film finishes on a note of reconciliation and hope.
As far as content goes, there was only one love scene, which I skipped right through, so I have no idea how graphic it is. But if you're prepared to fast-forward through one scene, there is very little else to make more conservative viewers (like me, haha!) squirm. I was pleasantly surprised here - morals are upheld, and as I said above, the film has a bittersweet, yet uplifting ending. I still wouldn't recommend it for very young viewers, though - teens and up would probably be the appropriate age bracket. For a complete overview of the film from a Christian perspective, see the Charity's Place review (much better-written and more comprehensive than my pathetic little post, LOL).
Did I mention that this film is STUNNING?! The cinematography is excellent, the landscapes are unbelievably beautiful, and the soundtrack by John Barry is haunting and lovely (my current blog music features a couple of tracks from the soundtrack). Even if the story turns out not to be your thing, the movie is worth viewing for the soundtrack and visuals alone.
Wrapping up. . . I simply had to share this little-known film with all of you. I think most of my readers would enjoy it. :-)
P.S. - someone has uploaded it onto Youtube - just search for "Swept from the Sea part 1".
Friday, May 14, 2010
It's sometimes very convenient when your favourite books are classics, because they are not copyrighted! Which means that you can read them online for free, or download free audiobooks to listen to while you iron or knit, as I have been doing recently. Beats watching TV while you iron, hands down! :-)
Most of you will be familiar with good ol' Gutenberg.org, but did you know that there are hundreds of free audiobooks you can download from the Gutenberg website? Here's a complete list of the human-read audiobooks, and a list of the computer-read audiobooks available.
Another great website to look at is Librivox.org.
Happy listening. . .
Oh, and one last tip: I usually use Opera as my web browser. When I tried to open one of the Gutenberg audiobook files while I was on Opera, it didn't work. Then I had the brilliant of trying Internet Explorer instead. . . and it worked with no problems. So, if you're using something like Opera or Firefox and are having trouble trying to download the file, try copying and pasting the URL into Internet Explorer. Stupid, smug little Internet Explorer. I don't like it, but sometimes I'm forced to make use of it. My browser of last resort.