Saturday, January 30, 2016

Awk & Awe // Stories waiting to be told

 :

    My life is basically a series of stories. Stories that have already happened, and stories that are going to happen somewhere down the road, and stories that are waiting to be told. I'm a story girl; I read them, I write them, and then I live them. It makes for a lot of stories. ;-)

    They're not all happy stories. Some of them are, and I love to look back on them and remember what it was like to live that. Some of them you might look at and say, what did that even happen for? Or why on earth would anyone do that? What's the point?

     I haven't figured out all my stories yet; mine or the people's around me. Sometimes they make me giddy with happiness. Sometimes they make absolutely no sense to me. Many times, I'd like to rewrite them, put in what I think should happen, and give happier endings. But there's only so much I can control; sometimes I feel like the characters in my head are the only ones I have any say over. It's easy because I tell them what to do, what to say, and I figure out where it's going to lead, and then when I write it down, there you have it -- it's all there, in order. A good story. But the only way life and fiction are the same is that one imitates the other. Fiction imitates life, life doesn't imitate fiction. 


     I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by all the stories needing to be told around me -- the ones I'm living, the ones people around me are living, and the ones I'm feeling pressed to write. It's daunting, not gonna lie. Because living is complicated. You're constantly around other people, and people are complicated (and often plain-down stupid.) Sometimes it feels like someone jammed their head into the keyboard and messed up the entire plot of whatever story you think you're supposed to be living. It all goes crooked and you're left to wonder -- what happened? What's supposed to happen? What will happen?

     I don't know, and chances are you don't know either. But in a moment of quiet peace, this is all I can come up with: God Is The Master Storyteller. Yes, with all the capital letters. He is the one who guides our steps, if we put away our human stubbornness long enough to let Him. His paths are best -- hasn't He shown us that? The stories I live, and the stories I make up inside my own little mind, why, they're just a gift from Him. He will show me my story when it's time, and from that, I'll be able to understand how to write the stories I yearn to bring alive. 


     :

     Wow, this turned out to be way more contemplative than I thought. ;-) That's the thing about Me Writing a Blog Post -- I start writing thinking it'll go this way, and it loops in an entirely different direction. (Hey, isn't that what I was just talking about?)

    Anyway. Stories. I've had a few in the last month. It's been awhile since I shared some of my life on The Blog, and I miss that. So here's my ever-faithful Awkward and Awesome, because there will allllways be awkward and awesome stories to tell. :-)

~Awkward
  • when your sister helpfully points out that you've been wearing your skirt inside out the whole morning, when you've already been at church for about three hours. (Thank you, Sadie. What would I do without your help?) Moral of the story: don't get dressed in the dark.

  • walking from the barn to the house with a big feed sack full of straw, imagining that the neighbors are watching from their windows and wondering what they might be thinking. No, I am not running away from home. These are not all my personal effects, this is just straw for my bunnies. What are you looking at?

  • breaking into your cousin's locker at school to get something she forgot. Actually that wasn't hard at all. It's very easy to be a criminal when you know the lock combination.

  • back to the bunnies: imagine you're putting handfuls of chaff into your bunny's cage, and suddenly you see a big milkweed pod. You pick it up by the stem -- but it's not a stem, it's a tail!!!! The cold, slithery tail of a dead mouse! Marilla, would you excuse me a moment? I have to check something outside...

  • I could mention the Time I Went Skiing For the First Time Ever...but then again, we don't need to go there. (Besides, my mother specifically told me not to write a blog post about it, it was that bad. ;-P) Let's just put it this way: if you're at a ski resort you've never been to before, and you've never even been skiing before, don't assume you're going to be great at it right from the first. And don't underestimate the size of the place and think you can go wherever you want and your family will magically find you. Oh yeah, and those black diamond things on the signs? Those mean 'most difficult'. Trust me on this one. (Moral of that story: read the signs before you try to go down the slope.)

  • when your sister starts massaging your bunny. That's awkward. She was reading a book on massage therapy, and I guess the bunny was the closest thing she had to practice on. The cat saw this and was immediately at the door asking to be let out.

  • when you can't get your CD player to work and decide it must be junk, then pester your mother about getting a new one...and then a few days later find that it had only come unplugged. Hehe.

  • when you start labeling all your journal entries 'June' instead of 'January' because the main character in the book you're writing is named June. I seem to remember this same thing happened last year...
~Awesome

  • making good progress on your current writing project!!!! YUSSSS. (And yes, it happens to have a protagonist by the name of June.) I needed something like this to get my writing juices pumped again. Strangely, it seems like this time of year is when I get my best writing inspiration, which is weird because everybody knows January is the most boring month of the whole year. (In my neck of the woods, anyway.) I guess it takes being pent up for awhile to get my creative streak to fully come alive. ;-)

  • a trip to the library with your mom in the Big Red Ford. :-) With yours truly driving, of course. I got to try out four-wheel drive, and our truck is old so you have to actually get out and turn the little thingys on the wheels, which for some reason was really cool. AND as a result of that trip I now have a whole pile of good books to be ingested.

  • when you're sitting on your sister's bed writing and your cat -- who happens to be the most spectacular feline in the entire world -- leaps up and settles down next to you. Oliver is my writing buddy. It's great because all he does is lie there and sleep.

  • when you get random, exciting ideas about things you'll do someday. Here's one such random idea: yesterday I imagined myself walking barefoot out to the mailbox at night to post a letter on a warm summer's evening, under the light of the moon. Doesn't that sound like fun? This may have been inspired by a scene in Buttermilk Sky, I admit. ;-)
     There was a sense of freedom in daring to walk barefoot down the sidewalk in the middle of the night. Goodness, what might she do next? Throw away her lightly boned corset? Chew gum? Deliberately fail to indent a paragraph on her next typing test? Oh, the glory of doing the unexpected.

(Golly, I love this little book. :-))
  • going to your favorite restaurant for your sister's birthday, and then watching Tim Hawkins parodies on the way home with her brand-new phone (which gets wi-fi anywhere and isn't that INCREDIBLE?) Then when we got home, being in the mood to laugh more, we watched an entire DVD of Tim Hawkins and I nearly hospitalized myself laughing so hard. The 'Christian cuss words' are what really killed me.
(EDIT: I have been informed by my ultra-savvy cousin that I am an idiot and my sister's phone does not get wi-fi everywhere, as that is in fact impossible. She has data (whatever that means) which is entirely different. I dunno.)

  • when you have those moments where you realize: no matter what crazy things happen, God will take care of me. No matter where I go, or who I'm with, He'll be there just the same. I wish I had faith like that all the time. As it is, I can barely grasp it. But I think it's coming. I understand it better than I did a year ago.

  • when you've been talking to your best friend so much you almost run out of things to tell her, but you still think of things to talk about. (That make any sense?) 
..:

     Oh, Naomi, I love you. We are a pair, you and I. There is nothing really better than having a friend who understands you, knows all your weirdness, and still thinks you're awesome despite it all. :-)

  • I had another one, but then my sister walked into the room and started talking to me and now I've forgotten what I was going to write. I'm telling you, my brain. *sigh* I was doing math with my mom the other day (which is like playing one of those computer games where everywhere you go there's a bomb underneath the ground ready to explode) and I was getting the problem all wrong (which is the norm). Mama, in desperation, said, "Why are you losing your brain???" "I DON'T KNOW".
     No, I'm really not losing my brain. :-) It's here. It's just...um, got a mind of its own. Heh.

    While I'm talking about random things, you probably noticed this blog has a new background! (Yes, I know, I keep changing it and it's really annoying and you're probably all rolling your eyes right now...let me explain.) I was lazily searching for blog backgrounds, and when I saw this one I stopped, blinked, and did a double take. Because this is the same background I once used, two years ago, and the moment I saw it I was immediately taken back to that time. It was one of my favorite blog looks, and I remembered it so fondly that I just had to use it again. :-)

This is, like, use-all-my-favorite-pictures day.


    That's about all the rambling I have to do right. Having just watched Forrest Gump last night, it seems fitting I should end this post with this:

"That's all I have to say about that."

    Have a good day, friends. :-)   

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Well, I thought, why not?

...because this is pretty much the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life.
 

      I have so many posts I should be writing, and I usually don't like to get hung up on tags because of that very reason....buuuut Hamlette created this fun 'Blogging About Blogs' tag and tagged me with it and I thought, why not? Besides, I love my blogging friends and it's always nice to acknowledge them, and to share some of my favorite blogs with y'all. So here we go!

     (Note: this post is also a good excuse for me to bombard you all with my collection of Joe Black gifs that I've been waiting for ages to use but haven't yet because they don't really relate to anything.)


Blog that makes me laugh

Miss Dashwood at Yet Another Period Drama Blog almost always makes me laugh with her posts. Also Olivia at Meanwhile, in Rivendell..., whose sense of humor very often coincides with mine. ;-)


Blog that makes me think

Ashley/Eowyn's blog, Inklings Press, tends to make me think deep. Pretty much everything she writes is mind-blowingly amazing and her blog is one of my very favorites. Also Olivia's blog The Cwtch -- she writes with a fresh, wholesome rawness, and her poetry is amaaaazing.

she takes care of you
*sigh*

Blog that teaches me things

I used to LOOOOVE Alexandra's blog, Of Trims and Frills and Furbelows. In fact, it was reading her blog that really made me want to start blogging myself, and I learned so much from raiding her archives and reading all her old posts. (Confession time.) I'm still super-duper disappointed that she made it private and I can't read it anymore. :-(

Another favorite blog I've learned from is author Melissa Tagg's blog. I've never actually read any of her books yet, but I discovered her blog a few months back and I LOVE it. Her posts have such a happy, scatterbrained personality that makes me feel cozy and at home. I also love it that she always replies to my comments!


Blog with beautiful headers

Wonderland Creek has the best headers, in my opinion. Every time she comes out with a new one I nearly have a heart attack from the sheer beauty. (But then I don't. Because, you see, I'm still here.) 

lightning could strike. :-)

Blogger who takes great pictures

Natalie at Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens does some pretty awesome photography! Her pictures are always gorgeous.


Blogger whose recommendations I trust

Olivia at Meanwhile, in Rivendell... Our tastes in movies and books often coincide as well. ;-) Also Hamlette at Hamlette's Soliloquy (because she's seen so many westerns) and Naomi at Wonderland Creek (because we usually like the same things -- with the exception of dirty westerns, which I dig and she doesn't ;-))


New blog I'm enjoying

Abby just started her blog Lavender Spring a few months ago, and so far I'm really enjoying what she's got going!


Blog I've followed the longest

The first blog I followed was Old-Fashioned Charm, Miss Laurie's blog, and I still enjoy her period-drama-steeped posts. :-)

smile
YOU SMILED. YOU KNOW YOU DID.

Blog I've started following the most recently

Uh-huhhhh....*thinking*...besides Lavender Spring, which I just mentioned, probably Julia's blog, The Barefoot Gal. Her posts are also filled with neat photography and stories about her siblings, which I find very amusing. :-)


Blog that is always a refreshing happiness

(Thank you, Heidi, for taking the liberty to add these last two categories -- I approve :-))
Probably Eowyn's blog Captured by the Word. Her writing exudes a freshness and simplicity and open-minded beauty that always makes me feel refreshed.


Blog where I revel in the words

Olivia's blog The Cwtch. Her words are alive. :-)


"What are you eating?"  "Peanut buttuh."
Joe Black agrees with me

     I'm grateful for all my blogging friends! Hey, if I didn't mention your blog, don't take it to mean that I don't like it any less -- I say this because when I read other people's tag answers and didn't see mine I turned a little bit green and was slightly disappointed for a moment, but then I thought, "This is ridiculous. Of course they like you, Emma." I really do love you all. :-)

AAAAHHHHHH!!!!!
     
     (So does Joe Black.)

     (Okay, I'll stop with the Joe Black stuff.)


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Seventeen Things

                 “There is one friend in the life of each of us who seems not a separate person, however dear and beloved, but an expansion, an interpretation, of one’s self, the very meaning of one’s soul.” –Edith Wharton

 :

   
      My Grandpa said once, if you find one person in this life who you can truly call a best friend, you're luckier than most.

     I'm luckier than most, because I have found someone I can call a best friend. Though, it would be a more true statement to say that Naomi found me first.

     Today my darling friend Naomi turns 17! She is now one year older than me...for about nine days. Then we'll be equals again. ;-) I've known Naomi since she was fourteen...which seems super strange now, because that means we've known each other almost three years. We've been best friends for about two years. Sometimes it feels like it was just the other day the name Naomi was just an anonymous commenter here on The Blog, and now Naomi means one of the brightest, dearest, best people in my life.


     Anywho, it being her special day -- her special seventeenth day -- I wanted to do something in her honor here on the ol' blog. For a long time I couldn't think what. I wanted it to be memorable, unexpected, but not cliche. I thought for awhile, and this is what I came up with: a list of Ten Things. Just like in Because of Winn-Dixie, when Opal gets her daddy the Preacher to tell her ten things about her mama; one thing for each year she's been alive. I wanted to make a list of Seventeen Things about Naomi; Seventeen Things about what she's like, and why she's the bestest best friend a girl could ever have.

Ruth


~ Seventeen Things ~

#1 Naomi has a huge imagination. She's always making up wonderful stories, wondering things about people, coming up with clever scenarios that make life much more interesting. If she's ever bored (which, trust me, doesn't happen often) she'll pretend she's a character in a book. (It helps.) Oh, and do you know what she told me once when I was moaning about how stressed I was over school? 

     "You know what you should do? Pretend you’re in a terrible Oliver-Twist-like school and that you HAVE to work real hard or otherwise you’ll get a public thrashing. It helps."

     Isn't that SWEET?


#2 Naomi is a creative soul. She likes things to look nice. She's always telling me about re-decorating her room and I WISH I could see it in person. Oh, and her blog always looks tidy and lovely and fresh.

#3 She loves gossip. The good kind of gossip. This is something we share. ;-)

#4 She reads books like CRAZY. Seriously, it's insane. You never knew anybody who reads faster than Naomi does. She is reported to have read GWTW in a single day and lived through it. *stares blankly in the face of such heroism*

#5 She also writes like crazy; she's always working on some story or other. I've read three of her books and some of her short stories, and if you don't know this already, the GIRL HAS GOT TALENT. (Even though she misspells things sometimes. That's what I'm here for.) ;-P I consider myself extremely fortunate to have the honor of being the first to read much of her writing.

#6 She writes really long and fluttery letters, and equally long and interesting emails. She doesn't see a long-distance friendship as a burden -- we both know we're incredibly blessed to be able to talk to each other at ALL across so many miles and oceans.

     And her letters are stinkin' beautiful -- the first card she ever sent me had a picture of Emma Woodhouse and Mrs. Weston on it. :-) AND she always adds little notes to the postman on her envelopes, which I imagine must tantalize him like crazy.


#7 Naomi makes up words. Like 'spinkly' and 'alore' and, my personal favorite, 'magneglyforious.' That's GENIUS, folks.


#8 She loves Newsies as much as I do, and someday we're going to stand on top of a roof and sing "I'm the King of New York!" loud enough to deafen all the neighbors.


#9 Naomi cares about people. She loves her parents (who, admittedly, are pretty stinkin' awesome), all her millions of siblings (Naomi is one of those people who was meant to be born in a huge family), her friends, even strangers in her French class. Above all she loves the Lord, and you can see that radiate through everything she does.


#10 She is really good at giving compliments -- and she means them, too. She once told me one of my characters was a "darling bumblebee". How's that for a special compliment?


#11 Naomi is honest. If she doesn't like something, she'll tell you. (She'll try to be very nice about it, though.)


#12 She doesn't like animals -- at all. We're working on this. ;-) Though she does admit that my bunnies are the cutest she's ever seen. (You did say that, didn't you dear?)


#13 She's trustworthy. Tell her something that's weighing on your heart, and she won't take it lightly. She won't tell anyone else, either, if you don't want her to.


#14 Naomi's smart. If she doesn't know how to do something, you can bet she'll figure it out.


#15 She's insatiably curious. She wants to know everything, be in on everything. She asks a LOT of questions. This is annoying and lovable all at once. ;-)


#16 She doesn't like spending time outside much. See, her books are inside, and she doesn't like reading outside. (????) I keep telling her to get more sunshine. (So does her grandma.)


#17 Naomi can make a person laugh. If you've read her blog posts you probably know this. ;-) She has this witty, sparkly sense of humor that can be subtly funny without having to use exclamation points. (Funniest of all -- in my opinion -- are the conversations we often have in caps lock. We have strong emotions, see, Naomi and I. Thank goodness we've got each other.)



     Thank goodness indeed. No, how about thank God. There's definitely something divinely orchestrated about this wacky friendship of ours. Who'da thunk a farmgirl from the Empire State and a delightfully crazy bibliophile from this teensy European country called Belgium would ever find each other? What's more, become inseparable best friends? It didn't just happen. It was fate, luck; no, it was a blessing. God knew we needed each other. And I'm so, so, so eternally grateful. :-)



So Happy Birthday, dear old pal. Here's to seventeen!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

In which the author expresses her violent love for a Certain Miniseries...

 
     Guys, I'm completely obsessed with North and South.

Orry and George's graduation ceremony from the Military Academy at West Point, 1846.:

     When I think about how this miniseries has splashed into my life and my feelings for it have changed, I have to laugh. Have I mentioned how I usually have to hate something before I can love it? Well, case in point. N&S is the poster example for that principle. At first, it was just an old miniseries from the 80's about the Civil War. It had very little chance of being as good as my beloved The Blue and the Gray, which in my mind nothing could top. I started watching it one snowy February night with my family, and at first I was unimpressed. Then I was disgusted with how many undressing-scenes kept popping up. The characters annoyed me, I got sick of their drama, and after a few episodes I decided to give it up. 

     However, the rest of my family didn't. ;-P (Turns out they were the smart ones.) I was down in the basement one night, typing away on some writing project or another, when my sister called me upstairs because "John Brown was there and he's Johnny Cash!" Of course, I had to see this, so I dashed up the stairs. And then I stayed...and I somehow got sucked back into the story...and I've never been the same since.

     ....Alright, that may be a slight overstatement. But I'm making a point. The point is, I LOVE NORTH AND SOUTH.

      It's one of the best American miniseries ever made. (Heck, it even made me love Patrick Swayze.) It's the story that completely wrecked my life for about two months...

     ...and it's doing it again. 

     See, there has been a catastrophic occurrence in the Anderson household. Somehow North and South -- the whole miniseries, collector's edition (aaaaaahhhhhhhh)-- showed up underneath the Christmas tree. And it was someone's crazy idea to watch it again. And now...my heart cannot take all this.

Be still, my heart.:

*insert uncontrollable fangirly noises*

          I can't believe how much I hated this miniseries before, and how much I desperately love it now. What happened?! I guess it just proves what a love/hate tendency I have. If something makes me feel enough to actually hate it, chances are those feelings are going to turn around sooner or later and speed full-force in the other direction.

Oh, oh, OH. I can't take this.:

      Well, yes....it's got some issues. There's a heap of melodrama. And yes, it's a bit of a soap opera. But it's so much more than that. It's chock-full of history and action and romance and tension and DEPTH. Watching it for the second time around, basically all I can do is sit there and stare bug-eyed and go "WOW." (And squeal over how adorable Charles is, and laugh at Bent's ridiculous accent, and sigh with maternal pride when George meets Constance, and bawl with emotion over Orry and George's friendship. Oh, and shriek whenever Orry's face appears.)

     I happen to be a Patrick Swayze fan, yes. Is there a problem?
   

 

     Really, through all the drama and romance and fluff, it's Orry and George's friendship that makes me see through the bad and appreciate all the good there is in this show. It's what I most love about N&S. I love these two SO much. I love their loyalty to each other, and while they plow through miles of differences between their families, their lifestyles, their beliefs. George represents the North, and Orry represents the South. They are separate, but equal. They are the kind of true friends who stick by each other, even when they don't agree, even when it's difficult -- even when they must risk their lives for each other. And THAT'S why Orry and George are the best ever.


North and South:

      Anyway. The purpose of this post (oh, so it has one?) is not to go deep; not yet. I could describe to you how Constance Flynn Hazard is my role model, or how Bent is so ridiculously evil it's hysterical, or how Charles Main is about as cool as you can get (especially in his brown suede coat)....but I wanted to ask y'all first, before I bombard you with all my violent emotions. (Yes, this is one of those rare instances where I actually ask my readers' opinion. You're surprised? Nonsense.) 

     Here's the deal: before I launch into a very long and very detailed and very passionate review of the North and South series, I thought I should ask you all first. Would you be interested in that? The reason I ask is because I know this series isn't very widely-watched anymore, and I *personally* am not over-the-moon interested in reading about shows I have never watched. SO. What do you say, people? Are you in for it? 

     Be warned, I may go ahead and write my long six-part review anyway. But I do want your opinion. :-)
   
Orry and Madeline:

     In the meantime, I will be all right as long as Orry and Madeline get married.

    *goes off whistling Dixie*


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Winter Sunlight


     It's cold today.

     All day, there's been a white rage blowing out my window. This afternoon I went for a walk with Willie, and just as we were on our way back the snow started to clear. The sky calmed, the clouds softened, and the sun came out. After I put Willie away I dashed into the house to grab my camera, so I could take some of the beauty with me before the sun went away.




B


Because my daddy's truck is just so awesome.


(And so are my yellow boots.)









     It was so beautiful, I just had to share the pictures with someone. Plus, I rarely take good pictures, so when I do it's an event to be celebrated. ;-)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

These Days


        These days in the middle of winter can be very uninspiring. They can also be thrilling, and wonderful, and exciting, and beautiful. January is weird that way. Some days I feel ready to burst with creativity and inspiration and energy to do amazing things; other days, all I want to do is curl up and watch episode after episode of Northern Exposure.

"Chris in the Morning" Reading List | The New York Public Library:
Read to me, Chris.

     Today has been one of those days. I've been in a funk all day long and haven't been able to accomplish anything of much value, so I decided, heck, let's write a blog post.

     All day I've been trying to read, and getting distracted. I've been trying to write, and find myself crossing out every other word. I've been trying to be cheerful (well, I was this morning but then I kind of gave up, heh heh), and finding that it's actually easier to frown than it is to smile. Basically...I'm blue.

     And I don't want to be.

    Come to think of it, I always get this way in the wintertime. It usually only lasts a few days. Something about January gets me really excited and bores me out of my mind all at once. One minute I'm scribbling furiously at my latest writing project, and the next I'm lackadaisically eating popcorn and bemoaning to my mother the fact that I'm such a terrible writer and in general a terrible person and I basically can't do anything right.

     Yup. This is what January does to me.

     On the good days, I love winter. I love the white freshness, the brisk cold air, the chilly sense of possibility that comes with every new year. On the bad days, I just wish it was summer and I could go for a bike ride and release all my tension, or go jump in the creek, or run barefoot through a meadow. And on some days -- like this one -- I don't even know what I want!
     
Give that old dark night of the soul a hug. John Corbett as Chris the DJ in Northern Exposure. | dark ride |:
     
     (Actually, on days like today I feel like I could be a character on Northern Exposure.)

     The purpose of this post is not to bother you all with my complicated emotions. ;-) I guess you could say the purpose is to try to restore some stability to my feelings right now, and the best way to do that would be a generous dose of the Happy Side of things right now, don't you think? Here's some things that make even the most confusing winter days something to smile about.

  • ~ emails from friends -- you girls are the best. I really mean that. I don't know what I would do without you. :-)
  • ~ beautiful and emotional soundtracks (I'm looking at you, Bruce Broughton)
  • ~ making plans for my sister Sadie's 15th birthday this weekend! Now, that is something to look forward to. :-D
  • ~ molasses cookies
  • ~ Sara Evans' old songs, this one especially
  • ~ beautiful, soul-tingling Bible verses -- I never get tired of Proverbs
  • ~ my bunnies, who are ALWAYS cute ;-P
  • ~ memories of last January, which I got through, and even think fondly on. That's a hopeful sign, I guess.
I like this because I like the quote and because I love Chris (Chris Stevens, played by John Corbett, in "Northern Exposure").:
Thanks, Chris.

     I guess that's all I needed to say. Strangely, I feel better now. :-) I hope y'all are holding your own this January, whether you're in snow-slogged Alaska or balmy, sunny Australia. Winter, this is a strange relationship we have going -- we'll be friends yet!

      Peace out,
       ~Emma


P.S. That's hilarious, I never say 'peace out'. I told you, I'm in a funk. ;-P

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Copperhead // 2013


"Blessed are the peacemakers. That still in the Bible?"
~Abner Beech

     Copperhead is not your usual Civil War movie. Most movies about this time in US history have storylines that focus on people living on either side of the Mason-Dixon line; with plenty of battlefield action, dramatic tension between families, and some famous actor dressed up in a beard and fake wrinkles to look like Abraham Lincoln. Copperhead is...well, different. In comparison to high-action war movies it's very slow. You might call it a 'home front' Civil War movie. The events are very concentrated in one area, never taking you to the Southern states, so the scope is a little less than, say, Gone With the Wind. (But then, it's not fair to compare anything to GWTW.) It's not so much about the actions of the war as the sentiment of the war. The story gives insight on those who thought the war should never have happened in the first place.

     And let me tell you, it. is. so. GOOD.

     Directed by Ron Maxwell, Copperhead is sort of a follow-up to the movies Gettysburg and Gods and Generals. It's very different from the other two, though, so you can't really consider them a series. And for some reason it's not nearly as popular; probably because it was made so much later, it deals with less popular views, and there are no famous actors in it. (Well, there's Peter Fonda, but no one really cares about him.) But I happen to love this movie, and I think it deserves just as much credit as the other two. In fact it's my favorite of the three. It's one of my favorite Civil War movies in general. Now, let me tell you why.

     First, the cast of characters is amazing. Some of them I love, some of them I hate, but every one of them is interesting.
  • Abner Beech: humble, honest farmer; staunch upholder of the Constitution; opposed to war and unnecessary violence.
  • Jeff Beech: Abner's less-conscious son; a boy in love with a girl, basically. ;-P
  • Jee Hagadorn: powerful citizen; over-the-top abolitionist; unstable in his mind.
  • Esther Hagadorn: Gee's dutiful daughter; schoolteacher; obedient but independent willed.
  • Ni Hagadorn: Gee's good-natured son; easygoing, loyal; wants to do right by his fellow man. (NI IS MY FAVORITE CHARACTER.)
  • Jimmy: orphan employed by the Beech family; watchful, quiet, earnest.
  • Avery: the Beech's neighbor; blacksmith; salty and perceptive.
  • Timothy Hurley: employee of the Beech's
  • Warner Pitts: a fancy man, town character, boyfriend of one of the Beech's servant girls

     If this movie has one main character, it's Abner Beech. Abner is so cool. There are times when Abner's tight morals make me frustrated (like when Ni comes to talk to him and he puts Ni off) but most of the time I just sit there watching him with wide eyes because he's just such an amaaaazing character. Abner wants peace and doesn't believe the North should be fighting the South, which puts him at odds with practically all his neighbors and gives him the label 'copperhead'. Abner gets the mean treatment from Jee Hagadorn, especially, who doesn't like the fact that Abner's son Jeff is sparking his daughter Esther.


     Jee Hagadorn, quite frankly, is absolutely nuts. He strongly supports the war and the abolitionist cause, to the point where it consumes him entirely and he doesn't seem to give a hoot about anything else. (The part where he tells Ni what a disappointment he is just because Ni would rather stay home to work the farm than sign up to get himself killed is when I get really mad at him. *angry glare*) Yeah, I really don't like Jee Hagadorn. He annoys me through the roof, especially the way he treats Esther and Ni. Basically he's a first-class creep.


     Jeff (whoops, sorry, Tom, as he would rather be called) and Esther are a darling couple. I like Jeff alright, even though he's somewhat of a pushover; I like Esther even more. Still their little love story is one of the more boring parts of the movie, in my opinion. Give me some more drama and tension. *rubs hands and grins maniacally*


     But NI. Ni is my favorite. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE NI. (His full name is Beniah, by the way, and for the record I don't know how to spell it.) Ni is sensible and still fun-loving, submissive to authority (um, his lunatic father) but still holds to his own instincts and beliefs. He also has the coolest accent you've ever heard (and I mean even better than Tom Cruise's Irish accent). I love when he comes to speak with Abner, when he goes South to find Jeff, and then when the two of them come back and tell Avery about their experiences. That scene in Avery's shop is my favorite in the whole darn movie. "Mighty glad to see you back, Jeff. You too, Ni."

      OH and the part when Ni gives hi little speech at *SPOILER* Jee's funeral *END OF SPOILER* makes me an emotional mess. I do believe the first time I watched it a tear or two slid down my face. Such a powerful scene. "What happened to love thy neighbor?"  AHHHHHH I LOVE NI SO MUCH.


     Jimmy is the third coming-of-age figure in the midst of all this (along with Jeff and Ni). Jimmy doesn't say much; he basically just does what he's supposed to do and observes everyone else. Jimmy is very perceptive, though, and seems to study and learn from the actions of people around him, especially Abner, whom he looks up to a lot. I like Jimmy. He's kind of boring, admittedly; but I he's a good kid.


     The whole setting of the movie is very quaint and old-fashioned; you really get the feel of the time, the way they live, and the values of the people. The little town -- called 'The Corners' -- is in upstate New York, and the scenery is absolutely beautiful. There's the cozy little town, the green fields and forests, pastures lined with split rail fences with horses grazing inside. I don't know where they filmed this baby, but I want to go there (and possibly not leave).


          What makes Copperhead so incredibly moving is the deep sense of family, loyalty, and neighborly love. You don't see many movies like this nowadays. The story rings true in ever sense -- in the historical detail, the honest emotion, the very real pain experienced by the characters. I think it's wonderful, and I think anyone who appreciates a good Civil War story should watch it.

      Copperhead is rated PG-13 for a disturbing sequence, which obviously has to do with spoilers so I'm not going to tell you what it is. There's also some language scattered throughout; pretty much what you'd expect from a historical film, nothing too horrendous. I think the PG-13 is a little unnecessary and it could have gotten away just fine with a PG rating, but I wouldn't recommend watching it with young 'uns, as it is a rather dark premise. But believe me, it is SUCH a good story. :-)

       And of course I cannot complete my review without mentioning the MUSIC! Because this is one of my favorite soundtracks ever. It's divinely, unbelievably gorgeous. You never heard anything so beautiful in all your living life. It breathes Civil War. You can listen to the whole soundtrack on Youtube; my favorite tracks are 'The Picnic' and 'Sharp Shooters on the Ridge'.


      (Oh, and when I told my sister Sadie I was writing a review of this movie, she wanted me to add something from her, so here it is:)

     "Best movie EVER!"

     I am inclined to agree. :-)
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