Monday, October 16, 2017

For All Those Who Live In (or Near) Virginia

As you may know, I live in Virginia. Several of my blogging friends do too, and we're going to meet up at the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton this fall. If you'd be interested in joining us, please email me at rachelkovaciny at gmail dot com and I'll fill you in on details.

To avoid creepy stalker types of people, I'm not posting the names of other people who are meeting up with me, or which date and time we'll be there. Not that I know I have any creepy stalkers in my life or anything like that, but better safe than sorry, you know?

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Announcing the Inspirational Heroes Blogathon

You know those movies that make you want to stand up and cheer?  Maybe even inspire you to actually do so, whether you're in the theater or the comfort of your own living room?  I love those movies.  If you do too, then you're in for a treat.


Quiggy at The Midnite Drive-In has invited me to co-host another cool blogathon!  We invite you to join us as we celebrate films about inspirational heroes, those men and women who inspire us with their beyond-ordinary achievements.  Maybe they're average, ordinary people standing up for what they believe in.  Maybe they're aliens or mutants or the product of science experiments that gave them superpowers.  Maybe they're champions of old, saving a damsel or righting a wrong. Whatever the case, we are here to celebrate those heroes and heroines with this event!


If you'd like to join us, but aren't sure what movie to blog about, a good place to find ideas would be the American Film Institute's list of the 100 most-inspiring movies of all time.


Since there are a massive number of movies with inspiring heroes in them, we are asking that there please be no duplicates.  Of course, if one person chooses to write about Rocky, but someone else wants to write about the character arcs presented in the whole series, that would be okay.  But no multiple reviews of the same movie, got it?  If you're not sure if your idea would qualify, just ask!


This blogathon will run from December 29 to January 1 -- let's ring in the new year with a round of cheers for heroes, both fictional ones and those drawn from history! Since the holidays are very busy, we will allow early entries, and we'll probably be fairly forgiving of late ones too.  But we'd appreciate it if you'd aim to post during the four days of the event.


If you're interested in joining us, you can sign up either on this post, or over on Quiggy's announcement post.  And share the news so others can join!  Feel free to use any of these banner/button/images on your own blog, invite friends, and so on.


The Roster:

The Midnite Drive-In -- Rocky (1976) and Hoosiers (1986)
Hamlette's Soliloquy -- Apollo 13 (1995)
Angelman's Place -- It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
Caftan Woman -- Torchy Blane
Cinematic Scribblings -- The Ascent (1977)
The Story and You -- Good Will Hunting (1997)
Maddy Loves Her Classic Films -- To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Jessica Prescott guest post -- Stand By Me (1986)
Movies Meet Their Match -- Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Silver Screenings -- The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
Meanwhile, in Rivendell... -- Secretariat (2010) and Megan Leavey (2017)
Love Letters to Old Hollywood -- His Girl Friday (1940)
The Wonderful World of Cinema -- Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)
Coffee, Classics, and Craziness -- Mister Roberts (1955)

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Why am I a Lutheran?


I had these big plans to do a post every month for all of 2017 to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing the 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenburg church.  And then I kept letting those plans slide, and now here we are in October, and the Big Day is just a few weeks away (it's October 31st, if you don't know), and I've done one post.

Time to change that.  Over on my book blog, I've started reviewing some Reformation-related books for different ages.  And I have some things I want to write about over here too, starting with... what are Lutherans, and why am I one?



I'll start with the second question.  When I was a kid, the answer would have been easy.  My dad is a Lutheran pastor, so of course, that's where I went to church.  Obvious.

As I grew up and learned more about the Bible, about various different Christian denominations and what they taught, and specifically what different Lutheran synods taught, that answer started to change.  When I was in my teens and knew that I wanted to be a wife and mom some day, I realized that I might possibly meet my future husband in college.  And if being a Lutheran, marrying a Lutheran, and raising my kids to be Lutherans was important to me, it might be a really good idea to go to a Lutheran college.  So I did.  I went to college hundreds and hundreds of miles away from home because I found a college that fit me personally but that I also was pretty sure would attract the sort of guy I might want to marry.

Which, as you probably know, it totally did.  Cowboy and I met in college, got married a month after I graduated with my BA, and so on.

But why was I so focused on finding a Lutheran husband?  And not just any brand of Lutheran (there are several), but what is called a "confessional" Lutheran husband?  What is a Lutheran, anyway?

Well, I'll tell you what a Lutheran isn't.  It's not somebody who worships Martin Luther.


Martin Luther was just a human being.  A sinner like you and me.  A brilliant, brave, flawed, stubborn, weird, angst-ridden, unhealthy, outspoken, generous, angry, loud German who loved beer and sausage and probably told fart jokes.

Martin Luther does not save sinners.  Only God does that.  Martin Luther did not die for my sins.  Only God did that.  Martin Luther did not create faith in my heart.  Only God did that.

In fact, Martin Luther did NOT want people to call themselves Lutherans.  He wanted them to call themselves Christians.  But a lot of their detractors would call them Lutherans, and eventually, those who followed his ideas adopted the name.

So anyway.  Lutherans are Protestant Christians who follow the ideas of Martin Luther and his cohorts.  Confessional Lutherans are a particular branch of conservative ones who are kind of... I don't want to say militant, so maybe I'll just say stubborn... they're stubborn about adhering to these things called the Lutheran Confessions that are basically statements of belief about various doctrines that were drawn up by Martin Luther and his fellow reformers -- they're collected in something called The Book of Concord, which is not about tasty grapes (Concord grapes are my fave, just so you know), but about agreement -- "concord" can mean "agreement," you see.  If you want to learn more about it, this website has lots of amazing information as well as the full text.

And basically, the Lutheran Confessions are just all about how the Bible is the basis of our faith, not people's ideas.  If someone has an idea about God and it doesn't agree with what the Bible says, then it's a wrong idea.  That's kind of a simplistic explanation, I know, but this is a blog post, not a thesis or something.

So, yeah.  I'm a Confessional Lutheran because I believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant word of God; that I (like all people) was born a sinner and cannot save myself from my sins; that the only thing that can save me from my sins is the loving grace of God; and that the Bible is the only place I can learn about God and his forgiveness.


Okay, that's enough for today.  More about the Reformation and Luther later.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Exchanging Mugs

Do you remember when I said I was going to take part in the 11th tea cup and mug exchange hosted by the Enchanted Rose?  Well, the exchange has taken place!  Here is what I received:


That's a floral scarf that kind of matches the travel mug, plus some hot cocoa mix, plus a portrait of Arwen from LOTR, plus a cute hair clip from Lilla Rose!  As you may know, I have LOTS of hair (about 4 feet right now), and it's hard to find clips and so on that are strong enough and big enough to hold it all up.  I tried this one out right away, and here's an awkward-cuz-I-took-it-myself picture of the hair clip in action:


It's really springy and strong, which it would have to be to hold up my heavy hair.  I'm not sure if it will work if my hair is loose and then coiled up, but when I have it braided and then coiled like I do right now, it does the trick!

Just for fun, here's a shot of what I sent off to the person whose name and address I received:


She said she likes to read and that she has country/western decor in her home, so I sent her an autographed copy of Cloaked and a mug from Tweetsie Railroad, one of my favorite places on earth.  It's a little Wild West theme park in the North Carolina mountains with a real steam engine to ride and so on.  The mug is actually enamel-covered metal, just so cute.  I also sent her a cowboy boot Christmas ornament and a pack of Tim Tams.  Tim Tams are Australian cookies that a Combat! friend of mine taught me to love years ago.  Once in a while I can find them in stores here in the US, which always makes me so excited.  So when I found them while getting coffee for this package, I was really happy because I could include them too.  (Caffe Verona is my fave blend from Starbucks, just in case you were wondering.)

So, that was my adventure participating in the exchange!  I will definitely be doing this again in the future -- maybe not every time, but once a year for sure.

Winners of the "Cloaked" Bookmark Giveaway!

Congratulations to Niki T, Lydia B, Olivia F, Faith T, and Jessica G! You won the giveaway of five bookmarks (handmade by me) that reflect some elements of Little Red Riding Hood that I used in Cloaked.

Winners, I will be contacting you later today via the email address you supplied to the Rafflecopter widget. I'll need your mailing address so I can send you your bookmark, so please keep an eye out for that email!

And everyone, thank you again for supporting me as I wrote, revised, and prepped Cloaked for publication. In case you hadn't heard, I'm already working on the next story for my Once Upon a Western collection -- a retelling of "Twelve Dancing Princesses" set in the Old West!

Sunday, October 01, 2017

"Texas Across the River" (1966)

Okay, so before we get started, I need to make very clear that Texas Across the River is not only an extraordinarily silly spoof of a movie, but it's also a product of its times.  By which I mean it's not politically correct in the slightest.  It makes fun of Native Americans, Europeans, Texans, the US Cavalry, men, women, and cattle.  It doesn't poke fun at horses, though.  I mean, you have to draw the line somewhere, right?

The opening credits make it very plain that this is NOT going to be a serious movie.  Or a movie you can take seriously.  But it's going to be a lot of rootin'-tootin' fun.


It all begins at a plantation outside Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1845.


Phoebe Ann (Rosemary Forsyth) is about to be married.


Her husband to be is Don Andrea Balthazar (Alain Delon), a Spanish nobleman prone to kissing people on both cheeks when he's happy.  This doesn't go down so well with his future father-in-law, or many other people.  Guys in particular get very touchy about it.


While the wedding march begins, two cavalry officers burst in.


The bride and her bridesmaids are appalled.


Why are the cavalry here?  One of them is a guy named Yancy (Stuart Anderson) who insists Phoebe Ann is engaged to him.  He drags her upstairs to her room and forces kisses on her.


Don Andrea comes to her rescue and challenges Yancy to a due.


Yancy loses.  And I'm not a bit sorry, because yeah, he was creepy.  Unfortunately, the other cavalry boys there are his cousins, and they vow to avenge Yancy's death by hanging Don Andrea.  The death was accidental, but they don't care.


Phoebe Ann convinces Don Andrea to flee across the river to Texas, where she will find him.  She's sure that will be easy because, as she says, "Texas isn't even a state -- how big could it be?"

Meanwhile, at a little town on the Louisiana side of the river, a Texan named Sam Hollis (Dean Martin) has a problem.


He also has a Native American sidekick named Kronk, who is played by Joey Bishop, who isn't remotely Native (Polish-Jewish, actually).  If this is going to bother you, don't watch this movie.


Sam Hollis and Kronk are trying to take a load of guns to some settlers in Moccasin Flats, Texas, but they have to cross Comanche territory to get them there.  So they want a military escort.  But the cavalry won't accompany them because Texas isn't part of the US.  Also because the two guys in charge (Peter Graves and Andrew Prine) are Yancy's cousins and more interested in chasing his "murderer" than doing anything else.


Speaking of whom, Don Andrea arrives in town, looking for a way to get to Texas.


Sam Hollis and Kronk discover Don Andrea is a great shot and trick him into accompanying them to Texas.

Don Andrea is an honorable man, and he worries that Sam will not want him along if he knows Don Andrea is wanted for murder.  But, being an honorable man, he feels he must confess the truth.


Sam Hollis spends a lot of time being confused by Don Andrea's behavior.


Finally, Don Andrea confesses that he's wanted for murder.  Sam knows this, but he pretends to be shocked.


Don Andrea almost shoots Kronk, who hides under his horse.  Kronk is quite silly, but also more level-headed and intelligent than either Don Andrea or Sam Hollis.  If this is going to bother you, don't watch this movie.


The trio try riding at night and sleeping during the day to avoid getting caught by Comanche warriors.  But the first morning they try to get some rest, Sam and Kronk are disturbed by Don Andrea shouting.


Thinking he's been attacked by Comanche, they run over to rescue him, but are puzzled by what they see.


Yeah, Don Andrea is pretending he's a bullfighter.


The double-takes and reaction shots from Dean Martin and Joey Bishop are priceless all throughout this movie.  I could have filled this whole post with them, but I didn't.  Shocking, I know.


Okay, so it turns out there really are some Comanche warriors skulking around, trying to steal the guns and shoot the three heroes.  But they're part of an incredibly inept band of warriors.  While watching this with my kids this past week, I tried to figure out why I'm not bothered by this portrayal of Native Americans, and I think it's because it's not pretending to be factual in any way.  This whole movie is just meant to be silly and funny, and everyone making it knows it.  It's poking fun at western movie tropes, but not at any group of people.


Okay, back to the plot.  Don Andrea discovers that Sam and Kronk totally know who he is and tricked him into coming with them.  He slaps Sam's face to challenge him to a duel.


Kronk is shocked.


That goes on for a while, until our attention is diverted by a Comanche Medicine Man (Richard Farnsworth.  I kid you not) who's performing a death ceremony involving a young woman named Lonetta (Tina Aumont billed as Tina Marquand).


Our heroes look on, appalled.


The ceremony involves two rattlesnakes and a whole lot of yelling and chanting.


Don Andrea, as I have said, is an honorable man.  He rushes down to save the girl.  Kronk and Sam are sympathetic, but unhelpful.


Don Andrea saves the girl, but gets bitten by a snake in the process.  Sam goes about that time-honored movie tradition of cutting open the snake bite so he can suck out the venom, which he does not really want to do at all.


Lonetta ends up helping.  She's clearly smitten by Don Andrea (because, honestly, who wouldn't be?).  The two of them continue on toward Moccasin Flats while Sam and Kronk go find their herd of cattle that some other folks are bringing there.


Guess who else is interested in that cattle herd-slash-wagon train?


This is Iron Jacket (Michael Ansara -- also not a Native American.  He was Syrian, I believe), a Comanche chief.


This is Iron Jacket's small band of inept warriors.  Well, most of them aren't all that inept, just one.  Who happens to be Iron Jacket's son.  The rest of them are just kind of bored and sarcastic most of the time.


Meanwhile, remember that chick from the beginning, Phoebe Ann?  She's come along with that wagon train-slash-cattle drive to find Don Andrea in Texas.  But right now she's taking a swim and washing her hair.  And the chief's son has just sneaked up on her -- you can see his reflection in the pool.  She could too, if she was paying attention.  But I've got to admit that Phoebe Ann is not the sharpest rowel on the spur.  If this is going to bother you, don't watch this movie.


She has zero idea Yellow Knife (Linden Chiles -- also not a Native American as far as I know) is there.


But Yellow Knife is very aware of her.


Before he can do more than steal her dress, Sam Hollis arrives, there to shepherd Phoebe Ann back to the wagons so they can skedaddle.  He finds her very annoying.


She returns the sentiment.  (Also, that's the most skin we see from her, I promise.)


Because her dress is gone, Sam cuts a hole in his own blanket so she can get out of the pond decently.  She is not even the least bit grateful.


Yellow Knife heads back to find his dad, who is quite disgusted with his son's latest mishaps.


Oh, the Medicine Man is trailing Don Andrea and Lonetta.  I'm still tripping over the fact that he's played by the same guy who would eventually play Matthew Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables (1985).  Richard Farnsworth started out as a stuntman, though, which makes the role make sense, as he has to do a lot of horse riding and a couple stunts.


Meanwhile, Don Andrea and Lonetta get acquainted.


Sam Hollis tries to get acquainted with Phoebe Ann too.  And gets his face slapped.


Kronk makes this face.  You're welcome.


Don Andrea and Lonetta finally reach Moccasin Flats.  Not much of a town -- keeps production costs down, you know.


Yellow Knife tries to recapture Lonetta or something... anyway, he challenges Don Andrea to a fight.  You can see how well that goes.  Also, he's now wearing Phoebe Ann's dress as a cape.  Because why not.


Yellow Knife gets bonked on the head during the fight.  What's better than Alain Delon in a western?  TWO Alain Delons, of course!


Yellow Knife fights just as well as he does everything else.


The rest of Iron Jacket's warriors are used to this.


Six Alain Delons might be just a bit much.  Yellow Knife retreats.


Iron Jacket is thoroughly ashamed of his son's ineptitude and suggests a less-than-honorable end for Don Andrea, who is leaving.


Before Don Andrea can leave, who comes upon the scene but Sam Hollis!


As Sam mounts up after yelling at Don Andrea for a while, this happens:


Yeah, he's making that face because Yellow Knife shoots just as well as he fights.


Poor Sam salvages what dignity he can and rides off in a peculiar way.  Which really can't have been easy to do, and Dean Martin was almost 50 at this time, so hey, good riding there, Dino.


Sam decides to pretend he's been grievously wounded to get sympathy from Phoebe Ann.


It works.


Meanwhile, Lonetta teaches Don Andrea how to tame cattle "the Indian way."


But eventually, Don Andrea goes back to town, where he finds Phoebe Ann nursing Sam Hollis back to health.  Sam suddenly gets better.  Don Andrea gets jealous.  Phoebe Ann gets disgusted with both of them.


The news arrives that Texas has been made a state!  And who should arrive to celebrate but the cavalry.  And since there's only one band of cavalry on the border between Texas and Louisiana (just like there's only one band of Comanche), here come Yancy's cousins again, out for blood.


When Lonetta and Phoebe Ann meet, they consider drawing some blood themselves.


And Iron Jacket returns with all his warriors to avenge his son's disgrace or something.


A battle between settlers and natives ensues.


And then, after the smoke and dust clears, Sam Hollis and Don Andrea can finally have their duel.  Only they have a big argument over how to do it.  Don Andrea wants to stand back-to-back, walk ten paces, turn and fire.  Sam Hollis insists they have to go to opposite ends of town and march toward each other.


Lonetta and Phoebe Ann think they're both ridiculous.  But they worry that one or both of them might get killed.


Sam gets ready for the showdown.


Don Andrea gets ready for the showdown.


But, in the end, neither of them shoots the other.  And everyone ends up covered in oil because Andrew Prine strikes a gusher while digging a grave for whoever loses the duel.


Because what's a movie about Texas without a bunch of people covered in oil, right?


Um, yes.  Utterly ridiculous movie.  I showed it to my kids this past week for the first time, and they were laughing so hard that we had to back it up several times to hear dialog we missed because of all the laughing.  So it definitely appeals to the sensibilities of 5- and 7- and 9-year-olds.

Is it family friendly?  Well, I did let my family watch it.  There are two cusswords at the very beginning, a lot of shooting with no bloodshed shown, and some mild innuendo (Phoebe Ann swimming naked, Sam Hollis taking an unseen liberty with her and getting his face slapped, and snide remarks about how Don Andrea and Lonetta were alone with each other for several days and nights).


This was my second contribution to the Texas Blogathon hosted by the Midnite Drive-In.  Adios!