St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, England

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St. Paul’s Cathedral in London is absolutely gorgeous and with so much to explore inside. Also see that tower on the right? You can climb all the way to the top and believe it or not the girl who’s terrified of heights took a deep breath and went for it.

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The view was amazing, but it wasn’t enough. Visitors can climb up even higher if they so wish. It felt long, the staircase is winding and filled with a great deal of waiting time. The top is so narrow that only a few people can be up at a time and you must keep moving in the circle so the rest can take in the sights before night falls.

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This was easily one of the most terrifying, bravest, and brilliant decision I’ve ever made. The view was breathtaking with the sun just beginning to set behind London. I could see the Eye just off in the distance perfectly still as the city lights began to flicker to life. Just faintly I could see the outline of the Eiffel Tower from miles and miles off. For a moment I forgot that my knees should be shaking together. I wanted to stay up there until the sun set, but of course I had to keep moving. Still, it was one of the moments I can hardly capture in words, let alone in a blog post.

If you’re ever in London and the sun is setting, please take this climb. The serenity and just awe you feel is well worth the hike.

5 Best Opening Lines in Literature

5.) “It was a pleasure to burn.” Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

-Simple is the best word I can think to describe this. My favorite part about this quote is that it’s a paragraph all on it’s own. One simple sentence that says a thousand words about the protagonist. For him, it’s an enjoyment to be destructive. And this one line will play an intricate and pivotal role in the story.

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4.) “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” – J.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

– This line tells you that you’re in for a classic fairytale, but with a twist. It’s something original, but still familiar. A typical “once upon a time” opening, but not the one you’re expecting.

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3.) “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” _ George Orwell, 1984

– The mention of a thirteenth hour makes this line stand out. Also, for some reason I can picture a bright cold day in April so well. There is something so ominous about this picture. It made me want to dive further into the story’s world in a matter of seconds.

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2.) “One summer afternoon Mrs. Oedipa Maas came home from a Tupperware party whose hostess had put perhaps too much kirsch in the fondue to find that she, Oedipa, had been named executor, or she supposed executrix, of the estate of one Pierce Inverarity, a California real estate mogul who had once lost two million dollars in his spare time but still had assets numerous and tangled enough to make the job of sorting it all out more than honorary.”

– Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49

I love this quote because it tells you so much and yet nothing at all. It gives the reader a good sample of Pynchon’s writing style and a quick slice of Oedipa’s life. I remember reading this for the first time and thinking, “okay, this is going to be fun.”

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1.) “When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.” – S.E. Hinton, The Outsiders

– As you may have guessed, this is my absolute favorite opening line. I first read this book when I was in 7th grade and I still quote it. It’s hard to explain exactly why I love this one line the most. I guess it always felt real to me. I believed this character. He seemed like a person I would/have met. And the wording is specific enough to stand out without being overly artistic or striving to say something. It simply is. I adore it.

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Use of Color in Film

I can’t be the only one who has noticed that films in the past decade have grown increasingly darker and drained. I don’t mean the content (although that could be saved for another topic), I mean the cinematography.

The Wizard of Oz took every advantage it could of color when it first debuted in 1939. Every scene popped because the crew wanted it to be bright and fresh. The use of sepia tone at the beginning can be used to demonstrate the jump from something a little bland to an eye catching, fantastical world. A world of color with the change from black and white. This movie was just the beginning of presenting a different style and trend in entertainment.

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Although, today it seems that our directors want to  return to that lack of vibrancy.

Look at films like the Dark Knight Trilogy (or anything of Christopher Nolan’s), Man of Steel, Harry Potter, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Hunger Games, and almost any action movie. Even the latest Avengers movie was toned down incredibly in terms of color.

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There’s also the orange/teal discussion to bring into this. For a while now films have used teal in the background and orange on the actor’s faces (think Michael Bay). The idea is that this is supposed to create a complimentary contrast that’s aesthetically pleasing. The problem is, more and more film crews have decided to use the technique to the point where they become lazy with it. It’s become more of a fliter with the promise of looking good than taking the film’s appearance into consideration and seeking out the most ideal costumes, backgrounds, and lighting. Not to mention since we’ve been overexposed to the style, it doesn’t hold as much appeal.

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Personally, I love color. That’s one of the reasons I adore Wes Anderson because of his attention to pigments and what compliments what. I want to see more films with scenes in the middle of a sunny afternoon that aren’t romantic comedies. I want films to start steering away from this dimness and heading toward something a little brighter.

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I’m not saying these films need to go into a full on bubblegum atmosphere. I just want a little more light. I want some of these colors to pop. I also understand that some films need the darker tones to fit into the overall mood, but I’d also like to see a movie not rely on a gritty color scheme to be taken seriously. Twin Peaks, for example, uses copper tones to create this older look for the series. It allows itself a darker appearance, but it does it in a way that remains pleasing and original. It works best for Lynch’s view of the show without draining itself of any color. It also allows for some natural light to come in and present an autumnal appearance.

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The idea also brings to mind the British TV series Broadchurch. This is a drama series about discovering the murderer of a young boy in a small town. You would assume the colors would be dim to showcase the sorrow of the family who lost this child or the anxiety felt by the detectives trying to achieve justice. Instead the series is vibrant with a great deal of scenes taken place during the day (sunny days!). It’s beautifully shot in general, but the brightness in these scenes never takes away from the plot. When there’s a confrontation in front of a blue sky and green grass, I still feel every bit of emotion and anticipation. It’s one of the reasons I got hooked on the show.

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With the recent trailers for Mad Max it seems that the use of vibrancy hasn’t been completely lost. This film looks awfully sunny with plenty of daytime scenes along with the orange and red tones of the desert. Then again, there are also trailers like for Dawn of Justice which stands by the pitch black of previous DC films.

Maybe I’m the only one who finds dim tones unappealing, but I would be ecstatic to see more movies/series follow in the steps of Broadchurch or anything else that still hangs onto a unique use of color.

The Home of William Shakespeare

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I found that when I go into a place of history, it never hits me just where I  am. I mean I know where I’m standing. The signs are telling me I’m in the home of one of the most famous and influential playwrights. The tour guide is telling me this. The itinerary is telling me this. The people on the trip with me are telling me this.

And still it just doesn’t seem believable.

How these scraps of past centuries have survived so long is beyond me. People haven’t turned a simple house into dust. Storms haven’t shattered it beyond repair. It’s standing and it’s strong.

There’s another home of his in London which hasn’t been as lucky, but the crippled walls are still growing from the grass. Amongst the busy streets and towering buildings, there is still this shred of history happily resting in the middle of it all.

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It’s amazing how society will find something that speaks to them – something they deem crucial – and care for it generation after generation. If a simple playwright’s words didn’t affect or inspire or make some us laugh then this place would be nothing more than dust. I would have walked over a patch of grass where pieces of a man’s home who loved to write continued to decay under the dirt until it was entirely forgotten.

I feel lucky to have stepped into this place and to witness something so important to the arts. The same feeling emerges when I was standing in the same room where Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudiced or walking up the stairs of Charles Dicken’s home.

It feels unbelievable, but I’m incredibly grateful that these places are alive and still inspiring us.

 

Writing Hours

The Writing Hours. Those moments where the muse is alive and creativity flows like a bubbling spring. For some these times rarely appear. For others there’s no such thing as a specific hour in the day. For me, it’s the late hours of night and on into the early morning.

Something about the clarity of a mind after waking up or getting that second wind long after the day has passed. It’s no longer boggled down by concerns or checklists. This is the time dreams remain fresh or small details begin to come back all at once to offer inspiration. Maybe it’s just the simple tranquility that comes with the soft sky and silent streets. There’s little pressure to be anywhere or to be anyone.

To do anything.

The world is still sleeping, waiting for the sun to beckon it into another busy day.

This is the time my muse decides to show and I have to say, it’s incredibly inconvenient. And yet…at the same time, it becomes one of the most serene experiences for me. This is the only time that I can write and truly enter the world that this story takes place. I care less about making the perfect sentence. I don’t quit after a few lines because I’ve written myself into a corner.

I just write.

I don’t always produce the work I want to. In fact, it’s rare I’m ever fully pleased with what’s in front of me, but writing during those hours somehow makes the process fun again. I get into the characters. I come up with about 10 different pathways to choose from. I let myself write. No over thinking. No frustrated sighs.

Just the story and myself.

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May Flowers

IMGP9951IMGP9954blossoms May is one of my favorite months by far. It seems that May through October are some of the better times for me. Maybe it’s the atmosphere that comes between the budding of trees and the eventual fall of reds and golds. In May I think back to grade school and how during PE our class would go to the field to play kickball or baseball. I remember sitting on the grass and plucking dandelions when my team was up to bat. I remember walking out of school on the first warm day and being overcome with this sense of bliss when I realized I could shed the hefty coat over my shoulders. As I got older, it meant driving home with the windows unrolled. Having the Dairy Queen in our small town open up. Being able to take a walk through the park, maybe even drive up to a good hiking spot. Attending all of the summer blockbusters and feeling the pleasantly cool air walking back to the car. The scent of gentle thunderstorms. Fireflies blinking through the garden. Cicadas singing to one another as the sun goes down. May is just the start of that time. When the feeling of anticipation is still lingering, but we’re still receiving a good taste of what’s to come. It always feels like so many things are ending at this time and yet the promise of opportunity is in full swing. That freedom from all the restrictions winter can have brings out this idea that anything can happen from now until the leaves fall.