Downton Abbey, Les Miserables, And Happy Memories

Hello my lovelies, I hope you’re all having a wonderful Tuesday. Today’s been peaceful and quiet but I’m looking forward to tomorrow when my bestie and I high-tail it over to the store so I can grab the third season of my new favorite TV show Downton Abbey on DVD. Oh I sense another Downton marathon coming my way this weekend! *Happy sigh* I was going to be the good girl and wait until the entire season had played out on PBS before buying it but my mom said she couldn’t wait until March to see all that was going on this season. She has no patience for things like this, and in all honesty I don’t either. I’d rather watch something when I want to then have to worry about remembering to sit down at a specific time each week. But anyway, now I don’t have to feel guilty zooming through the entire season in two days nor do I have to suffer through the next month waiting to see how things turn out! 😀

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Image From Google

This past weekend was filled with packing for me for our upcoming move. I don’t know about you guys but I absolutely loathe packing, it takes forever and I’m just not good at it. I’m more of a un-packer and a room decorator. I like to tinker and spend time putting things in their place and making a room look pretty and inviting but I have no skill in consolidating a lifetime’s worth of items into cardboard boxes. I’m a bit of a pack-rat and that comes back to bite me in the rear when it comes time to move. Though there are a few perks of sorting through all my old stuff. Every now and then I come across things that are so jam-packed with memories I can’t help but sit back and bask in the remembering. Sunday I found such a keepsake, a book my mother gave me when she told me I would soon have a little brother.

This book helped me learn how to be a big sister!

It’s cute as all get out and it means the world to me. It’s about a little girl who takes care of her doll, Baby Dear, alongside her mother who is caring for the girl’s new baby sister. All in all it glorifies the awesomeness of being a big sister and I know it made me feel very helpful and even more excited than I already was when my little brother arrived. It’s a book I will treasure my whole life and finding it once again just made me smile and remember how thankful I am to be a big sister.

Isn’t it adorable!

And speaking of memories, I forgot to tell you guy’s about seeing Les Miserables! The bestie, Mom, and I went three weeks ago and finally saw it and it was AWESOME! I was surprised my Mom agreed to go and was excited as she was considering her reluctance to watch new musicals since the whole RENT debacle. But I pestered her about it long enough and as soon as she saw the first preview she started to get excited, and by the time we went to the theaters, all three of us were chomping at the bit to see the glory that is Les Mis. And it didn’t disappoint…much. The first hour was amazing, it made all of us weep (loudly) and that’s saying something because for years I was convinced by best friend was part cyborg or something because she NEVER cries at anything. I find it unnatural, but then I cry at the drop of a hat, so I guess we make a good contrast.

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So there the three of us were near sobbing at the woes of gentle Fantine and finding ourselves surprised by Russell Crowe’s excellent portrayal of Javert (I wasn’t sure he could pull it off but he did!) when I started to notice something was amuck. I won’t give away any spoilers just in case y’all have yet to see it, but to suffice it to say, if you’re a fan of Eponine (she’s my favorite Les Mis character)…prepare yourself. Not that Samantha Barks does a bad portrayal or anything, she doesn’t; she’s actually my favorite Eponine ever and starred in the wonderful 25th Anniversary Concert Edition, which I highly recommend you guys watch. But the writers did some creative work on the younger cast that my bestie and I did not appreciate and this included some changes to Eponine’s story. And I’m sorry movie-makers, but the songs go in a specific order for a reason, when you mix them up it loses some of the effect. But other than that, the movie was fantastic. I can’t wait to buy it when it comes out, but I will still love the concert version for showing what I think is the better story…in a sense.

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So what about y’all are there any TV shows you’re in love with at the moment, maybe Downton Abbey? What about precious keepsakes, are there things that bring back happy memories? And what about Les Miserables, did you guys like it; what was your favorite song and who’s your favorite character? (On My Own & Eponine!)

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Big Plans For 2013

Hey everybody, I hope you had awesome holidays and one heck of a good New Year’s! I don’t know about y’all, but this whole holiday break thing still has me a little sluggish on the blog-writing front! I know it’s time to write one but I keep telling myself: later…I’ll write one later… but I guess later has finally arrived. 😀 But anyway, as I hinted in my last post, there will be some new things to look forward to on this blog for 2013 that I hope you will enjoy. Nothing is set in stone yet and titles and general ideas are subject to change at my every whim of course but basically, I plan on having one or two planned pieces every week or every other week (as well as my usual posts of course) including a Movie Monday as well as a Book & Music selection of sorts. As you’ve all probably guessed by now, I’m a music freak and I LOVE discussing my favorite finds, so get ready to talk music people! And movies!

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I also will have a new segment that will appear sporadically –as in whenever I feel inspired to write one – that will be called Unsigned Letters, or something similar to that. Unsigned doesn’t feel exactly right though, because they’re more un-addressed than unsigned but I don’t think un-addressed is actually a word…is it? Either way, these will be letters from me to people I know (be they real or fictional), from character to other characters, and/or whatever else I think of at the moment. I think it sounds both exciting and cathartic at the same time. What do you guy’s think, good idea? I certainly like it!

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Now, all the business aside, let me just say…I SAW THE HOBBIT! Last Saturday my mom, my bestie, and I all went to the theaters and loaded up on buttery popcorn (ick) and cheesy nachos (YUM) and waited gleefully to fall back under the spell of Middle Earth. I didn’t know whether to sigh or squeal when that familiar music first reached my ears! After a bit of a slow start, the movie picked up its pace and I ended up loving it! Watching it felt like coming home again…but to a new and slightly odd family. I missed my favorite characters and I admit it took me a while to truly comprehend that this was a new story and that it wouldn’t be like the others or have the same feel (even though I’ve read the book before so go figure) but overall I enjoyed the movie and the new characters, and I can’t wait to see where the story goes from here! There was this funny moment though somewhere in the first thirty minutes where the movie got really really quiet and I randomly heard the beginning of One Day More from Les Miserables (which I guess was playing in the theater next to ours and which I will be going to see hopefully this Saturday!) and I almost jumped out of my seat because 1) I wasn’t sure if anyone else heard it or of it was just me (and if it was just me, what did that mean exactly…?) And 2) I hate having movies spoiled before I’ve seen them (even if I know what’s going to happen already) and I was worried it would ruin the movie for me somehow. Yes, I’m weird like that 😛 But thankfully, it didn’t spoil anything and my best friend leaned over after a second and whispered “Do you hear that?!” which reassured me that I was not hearing things!

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So what about y’all, anything new and exciting in the works for your blogs? Any awesome holiday stories to share? And have you seen the Hobbit yet and if so, what did you think?

It’s A Movie Conspiracy I Tell You!

Have y’all ever noticed that all the good movies hit the theaters at the same time? I’m pretty sure it’s a conspiracy of epic proportions, because we go through months or years of dry spells where there are literally only one or two good movies a year and then suddenly…HOLD ONTO YOUR WALLETS BECAUSE EVERY GOOD MOVIE THAT WE CAN IMAGINE IS COMING OUT AT THE SAME TIME! I mean seriously, they should plan this out a little better and spread out the awesomeness so that people aren’t so aware of the fact that they’re about to shell out a fortune to watch good entertainment. It seems that we’re now entering into one of these “good movie” spells that both excite us and bankrupt us at the same time because I’ve noticed there are a heck of a lot of good movies coming out in the next three or four months that I can’t wait to see. This leads me to my second blog list (squee, I love lists!):

MOONSTONEMAIDEN’S LIST OF HIGHLY ANTICIPATED UP-COMING MOVIES:

Les Miserables– (December 25th 2012) I’m eagerly awaiting the Christmas season for more than just my annual visit from Santa this year folks! I can already hear the music keying up in the background (though that’s probably because I play my Les Mis playlist on youtube pretty much every day but that’s beside the point)! But seriously, I can’t wait to finally watch this in theaters and finally hear the new renditions of these timeless songs!

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2) The Hobbit– (December 14th 2012) Do I even have to explain why I’m excited for this?! I think not, suffice it to say it’s more Lord of the Rings, the return of Gandalf, and the introduction of Richard Armitage (who captured my ardent interest after playing Mr. Thornton in BBC’s North and South. Check it out people!).

3) The Host– (March 29th 2013) Aliens freak me out but I absolutely love this book and I’m quite excited to see how it’s been translated it to film! The book emphasized both the glory and agony of human emotions through Wanderer’s (aka Wanda the soul/alien) interactions and relationships with her human host Melanie’s family, species, and boyfriend. I don’t want to give anything away for those who have not read the book or who plan on seeing the movie, but I will say this: read the book before you see the movie. The book is powerfully moving and no matter how good (or horrid) the movie is, it will never be all that the book is.

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4) Beautiful Creatures– (February 13th 2013) I actually have my best friend to thank for this one, she sent me the link of the preview last Friday and now it’s driving me nuts because I want to read the books so badly! Not only did the trailer for this film grab my attention with its paranormal, romantic, southern-gothic content, but it also played Seven Devils by Florence and the Machine in the background and that just automatically makes it awesome. I now have three months to read the four books in this series before the movie comes out…hardly a challenge (except finding the money to buy all these books…oh Santa darling)!

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5) Warm Bodies– (February 1st 2013) I saw the preview for this the other night and although zombies are not my normal thing, this movie looks rather interesting and I have to admit…I really really want to see it! I would never have thought to do a zombie romance movie/book/anything, but this looks so cute it’s not even funny. Check out the trailer on Imdb and let me know what y’all think!

6) Anna Karenina– (November 16th 2012) I love classics, and the Vivian Leigh version of this film was incredibly beautiful so I’m hoping that this movie doesn’t disappoint. I was completely enthused until I watched the trailer for the film and saw that it was a very artistic rendition of the book; it still looks rather good and I loved Moulin Rouge and over the top things like that so hopefully everything will turn out great and I will love this movie and it’s wacky, craziness!

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7) Cloud Atlas-(October 26th 2012) This movie looks amazing, with its interconnected stories and flashbacks and romance and redemption. It’s so far up my alley that it’s practically next door to my house (metaphorically speaking of course, lol). I’ve had this philosophical gem of a movie pegged for a few months now, waiting for it to come out and now that it has I can’t wait to go see it!

See, what did I tell you?! So many good-looking movies coming out in such a short time span and these are only the movies coming out in the next three to four months! I also can’t wait to see World War Z (June), The Great Gatsby (May), The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (November), and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (August). What about y’all, any movies you can’t wait to see? Are there some on my list that look good, or maybe some that I’ve missed?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to start on another list…

Dear Santa,

This year’s gonna be a big one, so let’s start with the easiest thing: money…

A Very Musical Samhain

Forest Scene- found on Facebook

Merry Samhain and Happy Halloween everyone! I love this day of the year, it’s so steeped in magic and the unknown that it just makes me feel all tingly and powerful inside for some reason. Maybe it’s my Irish/Celtic heritage kicking into overdrive, or perhaps I just have a wildly active imagination, but whatever the reason, I just adore today! The costumes, the food, the candy, the bright colors, it makes me giddy thinking about it all. Oddly enough though, I don’t really feel like doing a Samhain/Halloween blog or anything today (possibly because I’ve done a few autumn-themed blogs already) but I’ve had music and musicals on the brain lately so I think a music rant/list/blog thing is in order.

(Just to forewarn everyone: I’m a bit of a List nut, I don’t know why but I love making lists for everything, so there will probably be more of them in this blog’s future!)

So here we go:

MOONSTONEMAIDEN’S LIST OF ALL-TIME FAVORITE MUSICALS EVER

These are in no particular order of affection because I find it way too hard to pick just one of them as my favorite and then start delegating second/third/etc. place to the others because they’re all just so amazing!

1)       Les Miserables– I only recently (like six or seven months ago) discovered this musical for myself and have since fallen HEAD OVER HEELS in love with it! (And have since driven everyone I know crazy by talking about it so much and playing the music constantly, but really the sooner they succumb to the charms of Les Mis, the sooner their lives will be that much more complete.) I remember a few years back hearing it in a friend’s car and having her explain to me what was happening but I found it all very confusing and I didn’t think anything of it afterward; it didn’t sound all that special to me. How wrong I was. Eponine has quickly become my new favorite (musical) character of the moment, everything she sings just makes my heart wrench with understanding (I’m talking Lea Salonga and Samantha Barks rendition of ‘Eponine’ here). The music is just so powerful and sweeping and emotional, I love it! I want drama, I want theatrics and big musical numbers I can belt to and lose myself in and Les Mis certainly delivers. And I cannot wait to see the movie in December! Favorite Songs: On My Own, Red and Black, One Day More, Empty Chairs At Empty Tables…and the list goes on and on!

2)      The Phantom of the Opera– LOVE. There is just no describing how much I adore this fantastic musical, the drama, the passion, the romance, the MUSIC! My heart swells with joy and a slight tingle of fear every time the Overture begins and in moments I am swept away into a glittering underworld of Paris theater intrigue. The Phantom is hands down my favorite guy in a musical; he’s just larger than life and dripping with emotion and sexual tension. It’s no contest between the Phantom and Raoul for me; I’m a Phantom fan all the way! I love the movie (it was my first intro to the musical) and recently discovered the 25th Anniversary Concert and have fallen in love all over again (the Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess version). Favorite Songs: The Phantom of the Opera (obviously), Twisted Every Way, Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again, The Point Of No Return, and Down Once More.

3)      Love Never Dies– The sequel to The Phantom of the Opera and just amazing on its own. I was nervous at first at the thought of a follow-up to the POTO, and was not convinced at first that I liked the new music but it has quickly won me over. I won’t give away any details concerning plot here, but if you’re a Phantom fan and haven’t heard/seen LND then scurry on over to Wikipedia or Youtube and check it out! Though I forewarn you: if you like the ending of the Phantom of the Opera and have no desire to see anything change at all, this may not be a musical for you. Love Never Dies has one of the most beautiful scores I have ever heard in my life, it’s just…gorgeous and the songs are brilliant as well. Favorite Songs: ‘Til I Hear You Sing, Beneath A Moonless Sky, Devil Take The Hindmost (and reprise).

4)      RENT- This one is an oddball for me. I love it but it makes no sense for me to (there’s no fantasy elements, hardly any happy moments, and it’s set close enough to the present to make me lose any interest whatsoever) but somehow I’ve come to adore this melancholy musical. The music is heartfelt and powerful enough to bring tears to my eyes every time I hear certain songs and the story just breaks my heart. I will admit that I’ve only ever seen the movie with regards to RENT, but I’ve heard that it was a very good interpretation of the original work. There’s just something about singing my heart out to these songs that makes my world seem like a better place for a while. (My mom on the other hand, downright LOATHES this musical, I don’t actually know why, but I find her response amusing. Whenever it’s on she starts huffing angrily under breath and asking “Is THAT the last song…WHAT?! WHAT MORE COULD THEY SING ABOUT?! I’ve only gotten her to actually watch it once and she hasn’t trusted me with musicals since (even though she loves all the other musicals I’ve had her watch since then). It took me five years(!) to get her to watch The Phantom of the Opera after the RENT debacle, as I call it. And now she loves the Phantom but getting her to watch any new musical now takes months and months of hard work. I’m trying to get her to listen to Les Miserables now…it’s not working so far.) Favorite Songs: I’ll Cover You, Light My Candle, No Day But Today, La Vie Boheme.

 

5)      Wicked- There is just something in this beautiful piece of artistry that touches my heart and soul. I discovered Wicked when my parents were going through their divorce during my late second/early third year of college. My friend had given me a CD to listen to filled with music she thought I would like and on it was Defying Gravity. One moment, I’m sitting on my bed listening to new songs that would hopefully drown out the pain of what I was feeling, and the next thing I knew I was bawling my eyes out, gasping for breath thinking: This is exactly how I feel. Ever since that moment, Wicked has been a fierce favorite of mine; Elphaba seems so real to me…she seems like me and it helped to know that somewhere out there was a strong (green) woman who felt pretty much the same way I did. If you haven’t discovered Wicked yet, go do so now, my blog will be here when you come back. Favorite Songs: Defying Gravity, The Wizard And I, Dancing Through Life, I’m Not That Girl, Thank Goodness, No Good Deed, As Long As You’re Mine, and For Good.

6)      Hairspray- Oh the joyousness of this upbeat and dance-worthy musical! Again, I’ve only seen the movie version of this (and the old original movie that frankly I thought sucked) but still, I love it! I don’t know how true it was to the Broadway version, but the movie was good enough for me (until I see the other one anyway)! The music is just so peppy and happy that it just brightens my day to bounce around the house singing these songs at the top of my lungs 😀 Favorite Songs: Big, Blond, and Beautiful, I Can Hear The Bells, I Know Where I’ve Been, Without Love, and You Can’t Stop The Beat.

7)      Jekyll and Hyde- Now apparently there are quite a few interpretations of this musical, but to be clear the one I’m talking about is the 1995 Original Cast. The music and overall feel is just creepy and overly dramatic but I’m a sucker for drama, so this one is right up my alley! The lush and seedy story is romantic, wistful, frightening and haunting; there are musical numbers that utterly break my heart or make my blood run cold! Lucy is one of my all-time favorite musical heroines/characters! Favorite Songs: Bring On The Men, This Is The Moment, In His Eyes, The Girls Of The Night, No One Knows Who I Am, Dangerous Game (though not the 1995 version), and Confrontation.

8)      Mamma Mia– Just good fun! This musical is so bouncy and full of energy and love that it’s pretty much perfect (I’ve only seen the movie, but I can’t wait to see the real thing)! Mother/Daughter relationships, true love, hilarious hijinks, and GIRLPOWER…’nuf said. My best friend and I watched this again on my last birthday and it was fantastic fun, we sang our hearts out and I ended up with this musical stuck in my head for two weeks afterward! Favorite Songs: Does Your Mother Know That You’re Out, SOS, Mamma Mia, Dancing Queen…pretty much every song.

9)      Beauty and the Beast- Disney gold. Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie ever (though there are many others in my fav list) and so unless they just completely changed the story, it was a given that I would love this musical! It shocks me just how similar the Original Broadway Belle sounds like the Original movie Belle, and it made the transition to this new interpretation much easier to handle. For me there is no comparison or competition, I love the movie the most, but the musical is very very good as well. Favorite Songs: Me (funniest song ever), Home, No Matter What, Maison Des Lunes, The Mob Song, Transformation.

And that my lovelies, is my list of all-time favorite (and therefore bestest) musicals ever! The next musicals I plan on checking out are The Little Mermaid, and The Pirate Queen and I hope to love them both! What about you all? What musicals do you love the most? What songs make your heart soar? Are there any musicals you think I should look into? I’m always open to new music and suggestions are welcome!