Wells Cathedral


My group visited about a cathedral a day while we were in England. So much that the reaction to seeing another was “Again? How many are there?”

Not a great reaction to pieces of history that are simultaneously beautiful to look at. The Wells Cathedral was one of the last we visited and I’ll admit that I wasn’t thrilled at first because I wanted to see some other sights. The moment we arrived that awe I had going into the first cathedral on the first day came right back with a renewed edge. This was one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever been to and the inside is just as stunning as the exterior. It’s still one of the most memorable destinations we were at. Unfortunately, I was unable to take any photos outside the lawn area.

The sheer detail in every bannister, every window, every inch of ceiling, every floor piece is inspiring. It’s so easy to become lost in those halls for a day.

A Film with No Director

twin peaks

I was a little late to discovering just who killed Laura Palmer in the 90’s cult series Twin Peaks, seeing it for the first time only after both seasons were placed onto Netflix and after my brother binge watched it and convinced me to do the same. After episode 3 I was hooked and this amazingly bizarre, emotional, and gorgeous show has become an all-time favorite of mine.

Unfortunately, the show was canceled after season 2 due to low ratings and the absence of mystery and character that attracted its audience in the beginning. Although, that dark charm slithered back in near the end and ultimately left viewers with an intense cliffhanger never to be resolved.

About 6 months ago it announced that Twin Peaks will be returning in 2016 on Showtime so that fans can finally have that season 3 and the series can have a proper conclusion.

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Of course, with all great things, there are always complications. The director, David Lynch, has stated that he will not be returning to the show due to conflicts with Showtime. He needs more money to do the series properly (wanting it done entirely on film and shot on location) and the people at Showtime don’t want to go over their budget.

Here’s why they should: A film needs a director.

For Twin Peaks that director is David Lynch. He’s truly the heart of the show and it was only after he left the project halfway through season 2, that the series started to take it’s downfall. That grim charm was suddenly absent. The plots became too bizarre and not in an entertaining way. The show lost it’s core and because of that, it fell apart.

It was only after Lynch returned that the story started to pick up again and it was only because Lynch said he would be directing again in 2016 that fans got excited. Most of the iconic scenes in Twin Peaks were not scripted. The Black Lodge was created while filming and became a vital part of the overarching story. The character of Bob came about because a sound man accidentally placed himself in a shot and Lynch decided to go with it. He saw something in that one mistake and created a pivotal character out of it.

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If you’ve ever seen a David Lynch film, you’ll know that has this distinct aesthetic. It feels like it was meant to be that he and Mark Frost would come together and combine their styles. Frost giving this pleasant and charming facade that the town of Twin Peaks puts on and Lynch creating the darkness that lies beneath. It was this aesthetic that showered the characters and story in an atmosphere unlike any other. To have one taken away would make a continuation this late in the game unnecessary.

The returning actors recently did a video showing their support for Lynch by each giving a line in coordination to their characters. Each one goes by the same formula – Twin Peaks without David Lynch is like a blank without a blank.

Sometimes I wonder if I’d still love the films I do under a different director. I can’t imagine Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas without Terry Gilliam because it’s one of the few films I can honestly say I like more than book and that’s all due to his style. I think of the Wes Anderson films and how much I love them because of the colors, designs, and quirkiness Anderson brings to the table. What would Clockwork Orange or the Shining be without Stanley Kubrick? What would Seventh Seal be without Ingmar Bergman? Annie Hall without Woody Allen? Say what you will about Tim Burton’s talent as of late, but what would Edward Scissorhands be without him? Or the glorious disaster that is the Room without Tommy Wiseau?

Directors have immense influence on their media. Some for the better and some for the worse. With David Lynch being so vital to the way Twin Peaks looks and feels, I’ve never once felt worried that season 3 could ruin the show. I sincerely hope that he and Showtime can reach a deal or that he can find another way to give Twin Peaks the resolution that it’s earned.

After all, Twin Peaks without David Lynch is like a mug without some damn fine coffee.

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Live Action Fairytale Remakes: Yes or No?

After the recent adaptation of Cinderella hit theaters, news came up of other fairytales/memorable Disney classics (Beauty and the Beast, Dumbo) following suit. Really, it’s nothing more than a new trend Disney is trying out, but do we need live action versions of all the animated films most of us grew up on?

cinderalla 2015

I say yes.

I view fairytales in the same way I view Shakespeare – both of the source materials are well known and old enough that they can be interpreted in a thousand different ways, each with a new twist to keep it refreshing and shed new light onto the story. Cinderella has been retold in about ten different ways in the past two decades alone. This has been seen in Ever After, A Cinderella Story, the Roger and Hammerstein musical, Into the Woods, and a few episodes of Once Upon a Time. Each different from the last, but still clinging onto what made the original story endearing.

Seeing these new versions with the right costume designers, the right cinematographers, the right directors, cast, etc, would be brilliant. The major issue I take is that these will apparently all be handled by the same company.

For this trend to work, it’d be best that different parties do their own spins rather than Disney pushing out a new one every year. Disney will try to keep to their animated adaptations while other companies would have more courage to stray away from the more well known versions to make something more unique. There’s also the chance that we could end up with a wonderfully more grim storyline that fits well into the source material which is rarely seen and, when it is, rarely executed well.

I think back to Belle et la Bette and how dark that film felt at times just by the atmosphere, but also how beautiful the set was. It’s a little bizarre and a little grim, but it works. I’d like to see at least one revamp in the same spirit as this French film. Just one that plays around with the history and darker elements of the tale with a beautiful design. I’m also hoping for a film that will rely on traditional costume and makeup instead of CGI for the beast or any other elements depending on the story they choose.

la belle et la bete

I also know there is a Hunchback of Notre Dame stage musical and I would be ecstatic to see that turn into a motion picture much like Les Miserables. I see a great amount of opportunity here for some refreshing, yet nostalgic films. I’m only hoping that opportunity is ceased.


Beauty of Winter


There’s a dismal solitude that arrives with the first day of winter

Flowers wilt

Skies are left silent

Trees lose their color

But there can be beauty

In the vibrant blue above a fresh blanket of snow

Sunlight glimmering off fair mountains

The luminescent shimmer of holiday lights

Powdered branches

The scent of cocoa

The feeling of a fleece blanket lying over your lap

When I see beauty in winter

I’m reminded of warmth

Promises of sunlight

A dash of vibrant hues

A reminder of spring

For me the beauty of winter

is shown in fragments

of seasons that have passed

and ones not far away

Waiting for the Mail

cb mailbox

I’ve found that one of the most difficult parts of being someone in their 20’s is that I’m constantly looking for a way to establish myself. I might as well have a check list for all the items I need in order to be considered a “successful adult.”

Each day I look at this list and continue to chew on my pencil. The boxes are left blank aside from one or two (those being: “make bed” and “put on clean clothes”). Sometimes I feel like I’m doing my best and life is going at a relatively normal pace, but then I log onto social media. I see peers checking off more boxes than me. I see them creating entirely different lists because they completed the general one already. I see them doing wonderful things – creating, living, traveling, and I’m happy for them. I am. They should be proud of how far they’ve come at the age of 22/23.

The thing is, it doesn’t take long for me to reflect on myself. Why am I not complete with my list? Why have I hardly started my list? It’s not that I’m lazy or unwilling for change. I anticipate change. I crave it, but my life events just aren’t arriving as quickly.

Some days it feels like I’m waiting outside for the mail like someone will do in film. The kid will sit on the steps of her house, elbows on knees, and stare off down the street. Will the mail carrier be there at noon? Is he running late? Did he already come? The mailbox remains empty, so that’s a no on the last question. So the girl continues to wait and when the mail carrier does arrive all she receives is junk mail or letters for someone else. Across the road, her neighbor is jumping up and down at her special letter. She knows that another friend received their letter just a few days ago. Another a month ago. Did hers get lost? She wonders why she’s still waiting on the steps and how long she’ll continue to be stagnant. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the mail delivery service. Her letter just simply hasn’t arrived.

The longer the wait the less important she feels. It’s almost like the world is telling her “there isn’t any room for you out there.”

And so she waits some more.

I don’t have enough life experience to say how this waiting game plays out, but I’m hoping the end result is worth it. I’m realizing that the best thing to do is to stop comparing my check list to that of everyone else. Stop staring down the street for the mail. Start finding things to do during the wait. Try not to pull yourself into a hole of stress and anxiety because who knows what you’ll miss if you can’t climb out?

If all you have to put on your checklist is the fact that you made your bed or did laundry, then don’t feel ashamed. At least you’re doing something. You’re occupying yourself during the wait (and those are good habits regardless). Take pride in even the smallest of accomplishments. One day that letter will arrive and things will start to move again. Nothing truly lasts. Not the good, not the bad, not even this limbo between college and starting a career.

Some of you didn’t have to wait long at all and that’s amazing. Some of you had to wait months and some of us are still waiting and that’s alright too.

Keep that checklist and continue to mark things off no matter how small. Keep your chin up.

The mail will get here.

Film Strip


In my house there’s a cardboard box filled to the brim with old photographs. Most don’t mean much – mostly pictures of old pets and landscape. The more I dig through the more I find and the older the photo, the more character it tends to have. When I find a picture of me riding a bike at 7, I can see that blur that comes with old film. I can’t tell if I love that blur because it cries out vintage or because it cries out nostalgia. Either way, the flaw of a 90’s camera creates unintentional charm.

Left over film strips are littered across the bottom of the box. If I hold them up to the light, I can just scarcely make out the photos that were meant to be developed. Pieces of life trapped in a root beer colored rectangle.

That’s what inspired me to edit the image above. On the surface, those three sunsets are nothing more than the trial and error of grabbing the perfect photograph (which unfortunately, didn’t happen). I was just about to hit delete, but as I looked at the different coloring of a quickly fading scene, I was brought back in time. There’s too much shadow, the edges are blurred, the color is off, but there’s character to it. Each one looked like it belonged in the box.

Three images holding a different point in the sun’s time before it vanished for the night. Something that may not be beautiful at first, but over time allows rose tinted memories.


Creative Ways of Dealing with Writer’s Block: Part 2


A few weeks ago, I made this post talking about a unique way to beat writer’s block. For this week, I have a different method that might help. If you’re stuck on what to write next, maybe the best thing to do would be to write something else. Take a step back from the story your working on and try creating a flash fiction piece instead.

That advice might sound odd. Why throw yourself into another project when you can’t get past the one you’re on? It could be you’re stuck because these characters aren’t grabbing you, the plot isn’t interesting you, or the pacing is too slow at this point. The story just isn’t moving along, but you want to write. Why not put that energy into a different piece of work?

The nice thing about flash fiction is that it’s short. It takes less time to reread it and revise it than it would a 200 page novel, which is nice when all you want to do is be at that finishing point. I get writer’s block for a number of reasons, but sometimes it’s not because I have a lack of ideas, but because I have too many ideas. There’s an abundance of plots and characters that I want to put on paper, but I don’t know how to make those notes coherent. When I do, it becomes a mess that I have to gradually sort through until the story appears and sometimes that feels like an impossible task. It can be incredibly refreshing to turn your attention towards a project that deals with one character and one setting. It’s like stepping out of a crowded hall and into an empty room with open windows. There’s fresh air and you can finally breathe.

Turning over to a flash fiction piece (even if you’re having writer’s block on a flash fiction piece) can be a less time committed way to exercise your writing and give your thoughts a chance to spread out. When I use flash fiction this way, I normally write whatever comes to me. I don’t try to create anything complex or even entertaining. I’ll pick a particular setting, drop a random character into it, and see what happens. Sometimes, the piece ends up being awful, but I can keep revising until I get better ideas. Those ideas can spark my motivation and before long,  I’ll be ready to dive back into the story I’m avoiding.

It may also help to use a character from your main story on and work solely on developing their personality or drive through flash fiction. Only need to expand the setting?Use it as a backdrop for this piece to better understand the layout. Eventually the ideas will come and you’ll be able to continue working with a clear mind.

No matter what, you’re being productive and not banging your head against the keyboard.

Pulteney Bridge – Bath, England

Considering the freezing temperature here in IL and the lack of lakes, rivers, and ocean, I decided to search my folders for better scenery.

These were all taken at the Pulteney Bridge in Bath, England. It’s a beautiful location and (something I got overexcited about) was used in the film adaption of Les Miserables.

I hope I’ll get the chance to go back soon with a better camera.

My Favorite Spider-Man Film


One of my top 10 favorite films of all time is Spider-Man 2 directed by Sam Raimi which made its cinematic debut in 2004. I’ve been a fan for about a decade now and because of that, I’ve heard every possible complaint for the movie.

And yet, I still love it more than I can say.

I think what makes the Sam Raimi trilogy special for me is that these are movies I grew with. I remember my dad renting them and I’d come into the living room and watch pieces of it here and there. When I was 12/13 I thought I’d outgrown superheroes until I spent the night at a friend’s and she put on the first Spider-Man. It was late and I remember the other girls falling asleep half-way through, but I was up until the DVD looped back to the title screen. I was blown away by this story of a nerdy Toby Maguire acquiring spider powers.

The next weekend I rented the sequel and at the tail end of my freshmen year I went to see Spider-Man 3 in theaters and walked away as happy as could be (I honestly can’t find it in me to hate the third one.) sm2

Apart from the nostalgia factor, I see these films as having their own unique charm. I think that’s what helped draw me in. There’s a silly comic book vibe to them, but they still maintain a basis of reality.

For example, Uncle’s Ben’s death scene. Some poke fun at Maguire’s acting there because he isn’t the most graceful crier, but who is? His reaction felt normal to me and it still does. It doesn’t appear as a perfectly executed cinematic weeping, it appears raw and uncontrolled. It’s ugly. He comes across the most important figure in his life lying on the cement with a bullet hole in his chest. I would be crying like that too. It’s shocking and painful and Maguire delivers that.

What made Spider-Man 2  land in my top 10 was that it worked off these two aspects – it kept the fun comic book theme while still creating quiet and serious moments that didn’t feel forced or rushed. My favorite line is something Aunt May tells Peter:

Everybody loves a hero. People line up for them, cheer them, scream their names. And years later, they’ll tell how they stood in the rain for hours just to get a glimpse of the one who taught them how to hold on a second longer. I believe there’s a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble, and finally allows us to die with pride, even though sometimes we have to be steady, and give up the thing we want the most. Even our dreams.

I find this line incredibly sweet and it explains the whole trilogy for me. Each movie slid directly into the next and each deals with the same idea – that Peter is seeking out balance. He’s learning to be a hero or even if he wants to be a hero. Even though he gets a big head over his fame, in the end it’s all about supporting those around him. Learning to take sacrifices, to not give up, to forgive, to help and make a difference. Not to say the other movies didn’t touch on this, but the lessons and growth shown in this particular trilogy was achieved at a natural pace.

Viewers see so much of these character’s lives that suddenly it becomes less of a superhero movie and more of a movie about people growing into better people – realizing that what they think they deserve may not be what they need and taking mistakes from the past to mold themselves into something heroic for the future.

sm2 aunt may

Spider-Man 2 especially shows this with Peter believing he doesn’t need to be Spider-Man anymore. The city’s issues are not his issues. When he sees a man being mugged in the alley he turns away because he doesn’t see a crime as his business anymore. Yet he ends up rushing into a burning building later on because try as me might, he can’t turn a blind eye.

The costume is a way of projecting that message out. Peter can act as a reminder to the public to help each other out. He encourages them to be a  “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.”

Apart from that the movie has great one-liners, a perfect Jonah Jameson, some great action sequences (even if a little outdated now), cliffhangers, and, above all else – heart.

Spider-Man 2 is charming. I can’t help, but smile when I watch it. I get teary eyed during the bus scene. I love the “Harry finds out who Peter really is” bit. I like the inclusion of the song “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head.” This movie is flawed, yes, but there is nothing else like it. I even love the cheesy moments because that’s all part of the film’s atmosphere. It allows itself to be goofy, but it also allows itself to be serious. It can become melodramatic at times, but those high emotions fit perfectly into the comic book vibe I mentioned earlier

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Am I ready for another reboot? No. I enjoyed the Amazing Spider-Man and I honestly didn’t hate the sequel. I wish we could have gotten a proper conclusion and while it’s best that Spider-Man return to Marvel, it still feels too soon for a cinematic return.

All I can say is that Toby Maguire will forever be my Spider-Man. No matter how many years pass, this trilogy will have a special place in my heart because it’s impossible for me not to be charmed by this film.

Creative Ways to Deal with Writer’s Block

tis what

Sometimes I think I get writer’s block more than the average person should. I’m constantly writing one line, closing my Word tab, and then opening it up again ten minutes later only stare blankly at the screen or write another sentence before repeating. All in all, I still manage to get my words on paper, but having issues with writer’s block for so long has allowed me to get creative.

One thing I’ve recently started doing is using a Pinterest board. I know that once I wrote Pinterest, some of you rolled your eyes, but hear me out. I’m a visual learner and sometimes that trait carries into how I handle general tasks. I need to be able to see a picture of what I’m doing or what I should be doing. Even with writing, I often need to be staring at an image of a tree to describe a tree. My mind can’t always come up solutions without clear imagery. It’s been this way since I was a kid.

I got a Pinterest after having my mom nudge me towards it. I wasn’t sure what to pin and left my page relatively blank for months. Then I got the idea to start finding images that fit the stories I was trying to write. So far it’s helped tremendously in grasping the aesthetic I’m looking for. If I have a character who wears a baseball cap, I type in baseball cap and place it in the *insert story title here* board. From then on out the hat stands for the character who wears it and I can build the personality or motives around that one image. Same goes for the town I want to create or even just a building.

It’s a nice way to break away from writing while still doing something that involves your current project. Then there’s always the chance you’ll come across a pin that might inspire you for your next story that you can keep archived until needed. You can also keep the boards locked so that only you can view them if you feel the need for privacy.

Pinterest may not be your thing or it might be exactly what you’ve been looking for. The choice is up to you, but I know for me using it as a loose story board has been incredibly helpful and kept me on track. I love being able to open up a board, look at what I’ve found, and be reminded of where I want my story to go and get inspired to continue writing.