movie review: Scaramouche.

This review is a contribution to the MGM Blogathon hosted by Silver Screenings.

The French countryside seethes with talk of revolution, but Andre Moreau (Stewart Granger) has bigger problems on his mind—his father has stopped giving him money, his old flame Lenore (Eleanor Parker) is marrying someone else, and—worst of all—Andre just found out that Aline (Janet Leigh), the beautiful woman he met on the roadside and fell in love with, is his half-sister.

With so much on his mind, Andre brushes off his friend Phillipe’s talk of a coming day of reckoning for the French aristocracy. But when Phillipe is killed by Noel, the Marquis de Maynes (Mel Ferrar), Andre vows revenge. He will stop at nothing to avenge his friend—including joining a travelling theatre troupe and hiding behind the role of ridiculous clown Scaramouche.

Scaramouche is a movie I’ve seen many, many times, and it’s always lots of fun. I’m not much a fan of Andre himself—he’s a little too loose for my tastes (and I feel as though Granger is a bit too smug in the role). But the rest of the cast really shines. Eleanor Parker’s Lenore is fiery and breathtakingly gorgeous, giving as good as she gets and holding her own against Andre’s madcap ways. Parker and Granger’s scenes together are full of chemistry and sparks that almost set the screen on fire.

Janet Leigh also does good work, although Aline’s childish character fades a little into the background when contrasted with Lenore’s sparkling presence. (I do love how the two of them work together to save Andre from dueling Noel on more than one occasion. Female allyships are so great to see!)

My favorite character in Scaramouche, surprisingly enough, is Mel Ferrar’s villainous character Noel, the Marquis de Maynes. Noel and Andre are connected on a much more personal level than either of them suspect. Rewatching the film with knowledge of that connection adds even more depth to Noel’s encounters with Andre.

I’m not ordinarily a fan of Ferrar’s work, but he is, in my opinion, the best piece of casting in the whole film. Noel is proud and cruel toward those who cross him, a brilliant swordsman, and…actually a decent boyfriend? He is in love with the queen herself (Marie Antoinette!), but since that can never go anywhere, he courts Aline after the queen recommends her. The moments of thoughtfulness and care that we see from Noel in regards to Aline really do something to humanize him. (Also, Noel’s respectfulness toward women is such an interesting and marked contrast to Andre’s *cough* problematic treatment of Lenore.)

I’m not saying that Noel is not the villain of the film. He definitely is, remaining cold and calculating and heartless throughout. But I did like his relationship with Aline and how sweet he could be to her.

Anyway! I’m here to review Scaramouche, not write an essay about Noel. XD Besides the cast and characters, Scaramouche also boasts detailed, beautiful sets and costuming in vivid Technicolor. This is France just before the revolution and the costuming and set design reflect that. Bright, opulent excess on the part of the aristocrats, darker shades and tones for the common people (good for sneaking around and plotting).

In addition, Victor Young’s score is amazing: rich, thrilling, sumptuous. One of my favorite movie soundtracks. Here is the theme that plays over opening titles, so you can enjoy a sample of the music. (And really, the whole soundtrack is worth a listen.)

If you’re in the mood for an entertaining swashbuckler, I highly recommend Scaramouche. There are some The Scarlet Pimpernel vibes and some The Vikings (1958) vibes. Overall, it’s a terrific film that I’m sure I’ll enjoy for many years to come.

Have you watched Scaramouche? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!


mini movie reviews: june 2022 edition.

These days, I’ve been watching more TV shows than movies (planning one or two blog posts centered around those shows). But since I haven’t done one of these posts since February, I still have a good backlog of titles to review. Let’s get into it!

Edge of Doom (1950) – I watched this purely for Dana Andrews and Farley Granger (as one does). It’s a interesting, though odd story about an emotionally disturbed young man and a priest and how their lives connect in a rather tragic way. Noirish, if not exactly a film noir.

Witness for the Prosecution (1957) – Such a good twist at the end! Billy Wilder really knows how to make ’em.

Cat Ballou (1965) – Western comedies are such an underrated film genre! Cat Ballou follows a young woman through tragedy and outlaw escapades and creating the weirdest found family on earth. The songs in this are so catchy (still getting stuck in my head, months later) and Lee Marvin was a RIOT in his Oscar-winning dual role.

Hell on Frisco Bay (1955) – I love mob stories. And Alan Ladd. So a combination of the two was all but bound to win me over. And it totally did! I thought the romance subplot would go in a cliched direction when I started the movie, but I found myself really rooting for Steve (Alan) and Marcia to mend their marriage. As to whether or not they did, well…you’ll just have to watch the movie!

Boomerang! (1947) – Another Dana Andrews movie, telling the true story of a high-profile murder trial. Solid performances from Dana and Lee J. Cobb.

My Darling Clementine (1946)My Darling Clementine has a quiet wistfulness to it that other John Ford films share (like The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance). Henry Fonda was wonderfully steady as Wyatt Earp. I loved seeing Tim Holt and Ward Bond again as well. There’s so much to love about this thoughtful frontier Western!

Support Your Local Sheriff (1969) – Yep. You’ve just got to love Western comedies. I’m very familiar with Burt Kennedy’s snappy dialogue, thanks to his work on the WWII TV show Combat!, and it was a joy to have that same kind of clever humor present in a Western.

(By the way, if you’ve seen and enjoyed Support Your Local Sheriff, Rachel Kovaciny’s novel Dancing & Doughnuts has a very similar vibe.)

Double Indemnity (1944) – I knew there was a reason I didn’t trust Fred MacMurray. XD

Spider-Man (2002) – Would you all throw tomatoes at me if I told you that I don’t like Tobey Maguire’s portrayal of Spider-Man? *ducks* I’ve seen all three TM Spider-Man films more than once and I’m sure I’ll watch them again…but for Harry, not Peter. The best-friends-to-enemies/downward spiral trope is one of my favorites, weirdly enough. And Raimi’s trilogy did it so well.

Green Mansions (1959) Green Mansions is one of the absolute weirdest films I’ve ever seen. When I tell you that not even Audrey Hepburn and Anthony Perkins could save this movie, you know it’s bad.

House of Strangers (1949) – The story of an Italian family torn apart by greed and hatred and bitterness. Near the end of the film, the characters have a chance to break free of their family’s wretched generational cycle…but will they? This was a recommendation from The Classic Movie Muse, and it was great. I spent most of the movie disliking Richard Conte’s character (which was stressful, as he’s one of my favorite actors), but I loved Edward G. Robinson’s portrayal of the family patriarch. So much fun, even when he’s being mean, lol.

Little Men (1998) – A pleasant surprise! Any adaption of Little Men is viewed narrowly until I can judge its portrayal of Dan (as he’s my favorite fictional character), but I needn’t have worried. Ben Cook made an excellent Dan. And the rest of the film was a good adaption of a children’s classic. My little brothers enjoyed it immensely.

On the Beach (1959) – Nope. Nope. Nopeity nope. In a nutshell, On the Beach is about people living out their last days in Australia as a massive cloud of radiation moves ever closer to the continent. Depressing and disturbing. Excellent performances from great actors like Gregory Peck, Anthony Perkins, Ava Gardner, and Fred Astaire, but just…no.

God’s Not Dead: We the People (2021) – This is not a movie. It’s a sermon wrapped up in a few half-hearted performances. Which was disappointing, because I thought the previous movie in the series (God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness) was quite good, considering. But this fourth movie was most definitely not.

Red Eye (2005) – Another friend-recommended film, this time a recommendation from Charity. I love a good psychological thriller set on a plane, and Red Eye was certainly that. I want to see Rachel McAdams in more films now! And, of course, Cillian Murphy is always a good idea. 😉 (Even when he’s playing a horrid villain.)

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) – Why did it take me so long to see this delightful movie? I loved the 60’s aesthetic, Illya, the twisty plot, and Henry Cavill’s face (not necessarily in that order).

Have you seen any of these films? Spot any favorites on this list? Do let me know in the comments!


a measure of the mercy: the heroism of Frodo Baggins.

This post originally appeared on Femnista.

Mercy can be difficult to offer, no question about it. Because of that, characters who show mercy to those who oppose them are some of the most heroic (in my opinion). Jean Valjean refusing to shoot Javert (Les Misérables), Rey healing Kylo (Star Wars: The Return of Skywalker), and Bilbo deciding not to kill Gollum (The Hobbit)…these are all examples of grace extended when it wasn’t required. (And, often, when it didn’t seem to make sense from an outside perspective.)

In that vein, there is one fictional hero whose displays of mercy are extraordinary at times—and that hero is Frodo Baggins. There are three major characters in The Lord of the Rings to whom Frodo shows mercy, each in a different way.

First, and most famously, is Gollum. Like Bilbo, Frodo refrains from killing Gollum even when it seems quite foolish and dangerous to let him live. On first hearing Gollum is still alive, Frodo fiercely wishes Bilbo had ‘stab[bed] that vile creature, when he had a chance!’ It is only after meeting Gollum for himself (and heeding Gandalf’s warning to not be hasty in dealing out death) that Frodo finds himself moved with pity for Gollum.

Although he never trusts Gollum wholly, Frodo extends mercy to him. Yes, this is partly out of Frodo and Sam’s need for a guide to bring them to Mordor. But Frodo’s mercy isn’t simply of the ‘tolerating’ kind. It’s not as though he thinks “there, I won’t kill him, but that’s all I’ll do for him.” Instead, he tries to bring Gollum back to some form of goodness and decency and wholeness, doing more for Gollum than he had to (and, most notably, against the opinion of Frodo’s most faithful companion and friend, Sam).

The next person Frodo shows mercy is Boromir. In a poignant (if tense) moment, Frodo and Faramir have a conversation about Faramir’s older brother. When asked if he was a friend of Boromir, Frodo responds, “Yes, I was his friend, for my part.” And, when asked if he would grieve to learn Boromir is dead, he says he “would grieve indeed.” I believe Frodo had already forgiven Boromir at this point and displays mercy in that he doesn’t reveal Boromir’s rage and violence towards himself. Faramir figures out Boromir’s slip on his own, but (as far as I remember), Frodo doesn’t speak one bad word against Boromir even though the attack obviously hurt and shook him. This might not be as obvious a display of mercy as Frodo’s dealings with Gollum, but I still admire it.

Lastly, there’s Saruman. When Frodo and his friends return home, they find Saruman has taken over the Shire in their absence and has done many horrible things there (including ordering his henchman to murder at least one hobbit). When Saruman’s power is finally vanquished, Frodo allows him to leave unscathed. As Saruman is leaving, he attempts to stab and kill Frodo (only stopped by the mithril shirt Frodo wears). But even then, Frodo doesn’t allow Sam and the others to kill Saruman in return—not even when Saruman sneers at him and insults him for his mercy. It’s an astounding thing.

Frodo’s mercy fascinates me, partly because it’s an echo of the mercy God extends towards us every day. Like Gollum, we deserve death because of our sins. Like Boromir, we follow our own pride and self-will, giving into temptation. When we refuse to believe in Jesus and accept the sacrifice that He made for us on the cross, we reject His mercy just as Saruman rejected Frodo’s.

Near the beginning of The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf had this to say: ‘Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give that to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends.’

God can see ‘all ends’ and yet, like Frodo enduring Gollum’s nastiness or Saruman’s hatred, He still shows us mercy again and again.


my top five favorite Alan Ladd roles.

This is my take on the ‘Mad About Ladd’ tag, which Rachel was kind enough to tag me with. We’ve spent many a happy hour watching Alan Ladd movies together—in fact, that’s what we’ve done with all but one of the following films. He’s very special to us both. ❤

And now let’s jump into the list!

Luke Smith – Whispering Smith (1948)

Luke is pretty much the perfect guy…except for his poor taste in best friends. In Whispering Smith, Alan plays a railroad detective who gets wounded and has to recuperate at the house of his friend Murray. Murray’s wife practically throws herself at Luke, but Luke gently puts her off time and time again. He also tries to keep Murray on the straight and narrow, with ultimately tragic results. No one can portray gentle, regretful melancholy quite the way Alan was able to, and it really shows in Whispering Smith. *sniffles*

Jay Gatsby – The Great Gatsby (1949)

What was I saying about melancholy?


This adaption of The Great Gatsby is a little odd at times, and certainly deviates from the book in some major ways. Alan’s portrayal of Gatsby, however, is pitch perfect (right along with Shelley Winters’ turn as Myrtle—but I digress). Charming, wistful, magnetic, handsome, longing for what he can never have—this Gatsby is everything Gatsby ought to be. It’s worth watching the film just for Alan’s performance.

Webster Carey – Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950)

Captain Carey, U.S.A. begins during WWII where three friends carry out dangerous espionage work in war-torn Italy. Then they are discovered and Carey is the only one to make it out alive (or so he thinks). After the war, he returns to Italy, determined to find the person who betrayed him and his friends. Alan plays a man who is at turns vengeful, angry, heartbroken, despairing, and in love. Excellent work.

Choya – Branded (1950)

In Branded, Alan’s character Choya runs a long con on a wealthy family with the help of his business partner Leffingwell (a slimy Robert Keith). But Choya’s heart is turned by the family’s genuine kindness and he decides to help them instead of hurt them. While Peter Hansen ended up stealing my heart when I watched Branded (wasn’t expecting that!), Alan is great as Choya. You’ve got to love character development! Especially when it’s a person switching from being (relatively) heartless to “I’ll do anything for this family.” *chef’s kiss*

Shane – Shane (1953)

Shane was the second Alan movie I ever saw and Shane remains my favorite role of his. By far. There’s just something about the lonely, kind, strong-as-steel gunfighter that touches my heart every time—and Alan’s performance is a huge part of that.

One trademark of Alan’s acting is just how much he can communicate with his eyes, and that is never more clear than in his portrayal of Shane. So much yearning for a quiet life, knowing he can never have it. So much pride in the family that has taken him in. So much determination to make sure no harm comes to them. Those emotions go deep into my heart, giving me alllll the feels. And it’s all Alan’s fault. XD

Have you seen any of these films? Are you a fan of Alan Ladd? Do let me know in the comments!


new HAVOK story: Wings of Indigo.

the artwork that inspired ‘Wings of Indigo’.
artist: monokubo

It’s true! Today I have a new story out on Havok’s website. Five men hunt for a rare giant butterfly in a South American-esque jungle, there’s a prophecy involved, and you can read the whole thing here. Wings of Indigo is available to read for free right now, but after today it will only be accessible to Havok members. Just so you know. 😉

I listened to ‘Dos Oruguitas‘ from Encanto quite a bit while editing the story (and my editor even said the story reminded her of that scene), so…if you like Encanto, I hope you enjoy Wings of Indigo as well!


movie review: Ocean’s 11 (1960).

Ocean’s 11 tells the story of eleven guys, headed up by one Danny Ocean (Frank Sinatra), who plan an elaborate heist—one that involves stealing hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars from five Las Vegas hotels (all on the same night). The film takes a lot of time to showcase the personalities and personal lives of several of the eleven men before getting to the heist itself. (In fact, the film is nearly halfway over before you discover just what the eleven are planning to steal.)

If you go into Ocean’s 11 looking for lots of action scenes and thrilling heist montages and a plot that zips along…you won’t find it here. But if you want a movie that’s full of humor, a great twist ending, and fun performances from Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Peter Lawford (to name a few), well, you’re in luck. Especially when it comes to those performances. Because, I don’t know about you, but I don’t really watch Ocean’s 11 for the heist elements (though those are a riot). I watch it to see the characters play off each other. I watch it for the 60’s aesthetic. And yeah, I partly watch it for Richard Conte because he’s one of my favorites. ❤ But…mostly for the fun performances. So much humor sparks and fizzes across the screen throughout Ocean’s 11.

On a side note, I find it interesting that some contemporary critics condemned Ocean’s 11 for the amorality of its characters. (Read this for more details.) Today, morally gray characters and ‘slightly better than the Big Bad’ villainous main characters are all the rage. But even back in the 1960’s (which was a decade not exactly known for its morality), some people found the unrepentant attitudes of the eleven to be troubling.

Personally, the characters’ lack of morals doesn’t bother me so much—I don’t particularly admire any of the characters or aspire to be like them. And they do get their comeuppance in the end (no spoilers on just how it happens though).

When I watch Ocean’s 11, I’m not looking for role models. I’m looking for an entertaining movie experience. And that’s exactly what I get, every time. It’s soooo fun to see the different cast members play off each other, particularly the Rat Pack. Caesar Romero also gets a small, yet important role, and he makes the absolute most of it (as usual).

Is Ocean’s 11 for everyone? No. But if you’re a fan of slow-paced (yet interesting) films, male-centric casts, and/or the 1960’s in general, you just may love it.

Have you seen Ocean’s 11? What do you think of it? Let me know in the comments!


P.S. A very happy birthday to Dean Martin! I wasn’t planning to post this review on his birthday (since I didn’t even know when that was), but I’m glad it worked out that way. If you’re in the mood for more Dean content, my friend Jillian wrote two excellent blog posts about him: ‘Dean Martin, a Man of Hidden Depth‘ and ‘King of Cool.’

a chat about my favorite fictional character.

Portions of this post were originally published on Femnista.

Thousands of people the world over know and love Louisa May Alcott’s classic story of sisterhood, Little Women. But what not as many people know is Alcott wrote two follow-up books called Little Men and Jo’s Boys. Both books tell of the various adventures and mishaps of the students at Jo Bhaer’s country school, Plumfield. 

One of these boys, Daniel ‘Dan’ Kean, is my favorite fictional character.

Of all time.

And I’m going to tell you why.

My first introduction to Dan came when my mom read Little Men aloud to me and my siblings. I remember that experience vividly. It was difficult to like Dan at first. Alcott describes him as ‘a most unprepossessing boy’ who ‘slouch[es] in’ and has a ‘half bold, half sullen look.’ Dan quickly lives up to the title Alcott gives him—he’s definitely a ‘firebrand’ in that he turns the gentle, quiet world of Plumfield on its head (and eventually, literally sets it on fire).

And yet…

…he was kinder to animals than to people, he liked to rove about in the woods, and, best of all, little Ted was fond of him. What the secret was no one could discover, but Baby took to him…Teddy was the only creature to whom Dan showed an affection, and this was only manifested when he thought no one else would see it.

Unfortunately, try as Jo does to draw out Dan’s best qualities, her efforts prove in vain. Dan’s worst offense comes when he persuades a few of the younger boys to drink alcohol, smoke cigars, play cards, and swear.  After that, Jo and Professor Bhaer send Dan away from Plumfield.

Not the greatest character intro, right? So why is Dan my favorite fictional character?

Well, to begin with, Dan returns to Plumfield. He comes back, half-lame, exhausted and repentant, and hoping against hope to find a welcome there.  After a (very slight) hesitation, the Bhaers accept him back into their midst. That is where Dan really begins to change. He isn’t perfect, but he tries to do good. Before, he constantly looked for ways to test and try the Bhaers—but that is all reversed once they accept him unconditionally.

There’s really no better way to show Dan’s change of heart and mind than to talk about the incident of the stolen quarters. The chapter that deals with this event was what first captured my interest as a child, listening to my mom read. The memory of it was what made me seek out Little Men as a teenager, read it, and really fall in love with Dan. 

Some quick context: one of the students, Tommy, leaves four of his quarters lying out in the barn. Another student, Nat (a good friend of Dan’s) is falsely accused of the crime. Nat is treated with suspicion and dislike until Dan confesses to the crime.

The only catch? Dan didn’t take the quarters any more than Nat did. He takes responsibility for the theft, even though it means disappointing the Bhaers, the only people he respects in the world. He willingly endures shame and averted eyes and scorn from the other boys. All so that Nat won’t be accused and despised anymore.

I won’t tell you the outcome of the whole thing, in case you read the book, but it is a happy one for Dan. And he continues to mature and grow and become an even better person throughout the rest of Little Men. Dan’s character development and growth was the first redemption arc I ever really knew of; through all this time it’s remained my favorite. And so has he.

But Dan’s redemption arc isn’t the only reason I love him. I think the character trait of Dan’s that places him at the very top of my list of favorite characters is how he looks out for and defends those weaker than himself. This quality of Dan’s is clearly seen in the incident of the stolen quarters, but it crops up constantly throughout both Little Men and Jo’s Boys. Consider this scene where one of the other boys in the school makes fun of a mentally disabled student.

“Why is Billy like this nut?” asked Emil, who was frequently inspired with bad conundrums.

“Because he is cracked,” answered Ned.

“That’s not fair; you mustn’t make fun of Billy, because he can’t hit back again. It’s mean,” cried Dan, smashing a nut wrathfully.


Or, during the matter of the quarters, one of the students bullies Nat in an attempt to discover who really stole the money. Dan comes along and, well…

“I was only in fun,” said Ned.

“You are a sneak yourself to badger Nat round the corner. Let me catch you at it again, and I’ll souse you in the river next time. Get up, and clear out!” thundered Dan, in a rage.

As Dan grows up and becomes a man, he never loses his compassion for those weaker or less fortunate than himself. He never loses that sense of justice and fair play, that burning need to defend those who need him—whether or not the person in trouble has an ‘official’ claim on him. All of which is extremely admirable, something to be proud of.

Or so you would think.

Unfortunately, at some point between writing Little Men and Jo’s Boys, it seems that Louisa May Alcott decided that Dan’s best qualities were in fact somehow dangerous and that he needed a good dressing-down.

“I don’t drink, or do the things you dread; don’t care for ’em; but I get excited, and then this devilish temper of mine is more than I can manage…when you pitch into a man, no matter how great a scamp he is, you’ve got to look out. I shall kill some one some day; that’s all I’m afraid of. I do hate a sneak!”

And Dan brought his fist down on the table with a blow that made the lamp totter and the books skip.

Dan doesn’t want to accidentally kill anyone because of his temper—perfectly understandable. What is not understandable, however, is how Louisa May Alcott deals with the situation when Dan does accidentally take a man’s life.

To set the scene: on a trip west, Dan comes across a young man named Blair who reminds Dan of Teddy. (Side note: Dan and Teddy’s special bond is only strengthened during Jo’s Boys, and I do love that.) Dan keeps a careful watch over Blair and finds him in a gambling hall one night, playing with men who are “bound to have his money.”

…by the look of relief on Blair’s anxious face when he saw him Dan knew without words that things were going badly with him…

Eventually, Blair loses all of his money—and his brothers’ money—and Dan begs him to leave the gambling table before he loses even more. But Blair is determined to keep playing. Dan stays and watches the game closely.

Seeing Dan’s resolute face, keen eye, and traveled air, the sharpers were wary, played fair, and let [Blair] win a little; but they had no mind to give up their prey, and finding that Dan stood sentinel at the boy’s back, an ominous glance was exchanged between them, which meant: “We must get this fellow out of the way.”

Dan saw it, and was on his guard; for he and Blair were strangers, evil deeds are easily done in such places, and no tales told. But he would not desert the boy, and still kept watch of every card till he plainly detected false play, and boldly said so.

One of the cheats fires back with insulting words and a drawn pistol. Dan’s anger flares; he knocks the man down. The man falls back, hits his head on a stove, and dies.

A wild scene followed, but in the midst of it Dan whispered to the boy: “Get away, and hold your tongue. Don’t mind me.”

And for this, for standing in defense of Blair, hitting a man who drew a gun on him when Dan himself was unarmed, not meaning for the man to hit his head and die, Dan is branded (by the author, if not all the other characters) as a murderer with blood-stained hands. The narrator (so, Louisa May Alcott) says “Yes, Dan was in prison…his own bosom sin had brought him there, and this was to be the bitter lesson that tamed the lawless spirit and taught him self-control.

*takes a moment to calm down because I am Literally Infuriated on Dan’s behalf*

I just…it doesn’t make sense to me!

How is it a sin to defend yourself and another person for whom you feel responsible??? The man had a gun! Dan only had his fists! And as to Dan being angry…yes, being angry can be a sin. But there is such a thing as righteous anger. Dan had caught the men cheating. They insulted him. One of them drew out a weapon (still can’t get over that). So Dan punched him. And I would even go so far as to say that Dan was following Biblical principles (though I’m sure that wasn’t on his mind in the heat of the moment). After all, the Bible has this to say in Psalm 82:

Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.

Which is all exactly what Dan was doing. So take that, Louisa May Alcott.

I’m calm, I’m calm…

Anyway. Yes. Dan goes to prison for a year. He endures many trials, but at the end he is even more mature and wise and wonderful than before. And at the end of that year, he strikes out on his own again, not wanting to go back to Plumfield until he gets “the haggard look out of his face.” (Feeeels.) While out in the wide world, he ends up saving the lives of twenty men during a mining accident—and almost at the expense of his own life. Laurie and Teddy bring Dan back to Plumfield for rest and recuperation.

I’m not going to get into all that happens at Plumfield. Suffice to say that, during his time in prison, Dan fell in love with someone unattainable. Because of the hopelessness of that situation, he goes into the west (“he was eager to be off, to forget a vain love in hard work, and live for others, since he might not for himself“). Eventually, he dies out there in the exact way you would expect of Dan—in defense of those who need his help (a Native American tribe). And alone, but with “a smile on his face which seemed to say that [he] had fought his last fight and was at peace.”

And you know what? The travesty that is Jo’s Boys might actually have increased my love for Dan. After all, defending a fictional character is one of the best ways to get me to adore them. I’ll still even read snippets of Jo’s Boys because, although Louisa May Alcott does terrible things to Dan, Dan is still Dan. I can filter out the narrator’s censure of his actions and form my own views. And that’s just what I do.

After all, he’s my favorite. I have to take what I can get.

TL;DR—Dan is my favorite fictional character because 1) he defends those who need him and 2) he gets an amazing redemption arc. Also, Louisa May Alcott seriously messed up with Jo’s Boys.

Have you read Little Men and/or Jo’s Boys? Do you like Dan? What do you think of how Louisa May Alcott handled his story throughout both books? Let me know in the comments! I’m excited to hear from y’all.


the Jolly Genre Jubilee Tag.

I found this tag over on Christine Smith’s blog. I’ve seen it a few places before, but Christine tagged anyone who wanted to play along (thanks, Christine <3). So here I am!


  • Thank the blogger who tagged you, and leave a link back to their blog.
  • Leave a link back to the creator of the tag.
  • Answer the questions honestly, and include at least one (1) gif of a pelican >> it’s in the rules, folks. you have to do it.
  • Tag 3+ friends to do the tag on their own blogs! >> and make sure to give them cookies. because that’s always fun.


What is your favorite genre of fiction to write?

Westerns! I’ve exclusively written westerns for the last several months (excepting a few pieces of flash fiction for Havok) and it’s been wonderful. The aesthetic, admirable characters, and endless opportunities for adventures and heroism and gunfights…it stirs the blood, doesn’t it?

What genre would you NEVER get caught writing? . . .EVER.

Um…erotica? 😛 I’m pretty open to most every genre besides that. (Well, I’m not into horror either. Though I have had the sparks of an idea for a faith-infused zombie novel.)

What fictional genre feels most like home to you?

Westerns, without a doubt. When I began writing The Shoot-Out That Wasn’t in October 2021, I hadn’t written anything in the western genre for some time. But writing Shoot-Out (and then the beginnings of a sequel) truly felt like a homecoming. And I hope to write many more westerns in the years to come.

If you could transform your real life into any genre of your choosing, which would it be?

This is somewhat embarrassing, but…contemporary romance. 😉

What genre does your real life most resemble at the moment?

Family drama. Or literary fiction. Really, I don’t even know the right word for the genre I’m thinking of.

What’s a genre you’re interested in writing, even though you’ve never written it before?

I’ve written in almost all the ‘main’ genres, but I wouldn’t mind experimenting with the zombie novel I mentioned earlier. I think it would be interesting to see a concept like zombies explored from a Christian perspective. Seeing how the different characters held on to or abandoned their faith during the outbreak, that sort of thing. I’m intrigued!

What genre is your most recent plot bunny, and where did it come from?

Most recent? Sci-fi, inspired by watching Star Wars + working as a janitor. Hoping to have the story accepted by Havok! Then you can all read it. ❤

How many genres have you written thus far in your writing journey?

There is no way I’m going to remember all the genres I’ve worked with! But here goes: Regency romance, contemporary romance, historical fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, western, dystopian, fanfiction, adventure, WWII fiction, fairytale retellings…and I’m sure there are others I’m forgetting. I definitely like stretching myself as a writer and exploring different story worlds and genres.


What is your favorite genre of fiction to write?

What genre would you NEVER get caught writing? . . .EVER.

What fictional genre feels most like home to you?

If you could transform your real life into any genre of your choosing, which would it be?

What genre does your real life most resemble at the moment?

What’s a genre you’re interested in writing, even though you’ve never written it before?

What genre is your most recent plot bunny, and where did it come from?

How many genres have you written thus far in your writing journey?


Literally anyone who wants to do this. It’s late and I’m tired, hehe.

Did I mention any of your favorite genres in this post? What are some genres you can’t stand? Let me know in the comments!



dream casting ‘the great gatsby.’

Hello, old sports!

For the past several days, I’ve been collaborating with my friend Katie H. to bring you what is quite possibly the greatest dream cast of all time. (Get it?) It all started when I watched No Way Home for the first time and thought that Andrew Garfield would make an excellent Nick Carraway. Mainly because Andrew Garfield is good in every role—but also, I was already happily anticipating the numerous memes that would come of having ‘Spider-Man’ play Nick not once, but twice.

the kind of quality memery I’d expect to see.

Anyway. Knowing that Katie is as much a fan of Andrew Garfield as I am, I sent her a DM with my thoughts on Andrew-Garfield-as-Nick. She responded back with a suggestion that we just cast the whole of Gatsby (along with a genius idea for casting Gatsby himself) and well…here we are!

Now, without further speechifying, here is our dream cast for The Great Gatsby.

Owl Eyes: Josh Gad

Eva: Having only read The Great Gatsby once, I’m not super familiar with the minor characters. But when Katie suggested that Josh Gad play the vaguely bookish, somewhat inebriated, and very clueless Owl Eyes, I knew it was meant to be. XD To be sure, Owl Eyes is a minor role—but Josh Gad would make the absolute most of it.

Katie: He would indeed. He would milk every drop out of those scenes, especially the funeral. Besides, the only definite thing we know about Owl Eyes from the novel is that he looks like an owl. Josh Gad also looks like an owl. Ergo, Josh Gad as Owl Eyes is a no-brainer.

Mr. Wilson: Nicolas Cage

Katie: Look me in the eyes and tell me you don’t want to see Nicolas Cage sneak up behind Jay Gatsby and shoot him. You know you want to. The memes, you guys. Imagine the memes.

Eva: I’m just laughing so much picturing this. I am not a fan of Nicolas Cage (he’s probably my least favorite actor, to be quite honest) and neither am I a fan of Mr. Wilson. So…I APPROVE OF THIS CASTING. I believe that Nic Cage could pull off Mr. Wilson’s patheticness and weepiness very well.

Myrtle Wilson: Billie Piper

Eva: I think Myrtle mayyyy have been the casting choice Katie and I struggled with the most, simply because she has a particular look that not many actresses have. In the end, we looked to the other side of the pond for inspiration–British films and TV shows seem to have more actors and actresses who look like ‘real’ people. Billie Piper is a fantastic actress with a wildness to both her physical appearance and acting. I can very easily picture her playing Myrtle Wilson, in all her…flashy vulgarity.

Katie: I’ll be honest, I’ve had a crush on Billie Piper since her Doctor Who days. I think she’s absolutely gorgeous. As Eva says, her beauty is of a raw, earthy type you don’t often see in Hollywood, where polished daintiness is the order of the day. And that won’t do for Mrs. Wilson. You need somebody with a bit more “animal magnetism.”

Jordan: Saoirse Ronan

Katie: Not only does Saoirse Ronan have the perfect look for Jordan Baker with her lean frame and strong, masculine features, but she already has an impressive period drama resume (Little Women, Ammonite). Plus, she’s a brilliant actress who elevates every single movie she appears in. What’s not to love?

Eva: It takes zero effort for me to imagine Saoirse in the role. She would be amazing as Jordan, full stop.

Tom: Bradley Cooper

Eva: The main thing Katie and I looked for when trying to cast Tom was an actor who is physically imposing. Not just strong, but that sort of brutish strength. Chris Hemsworth had the muscles…but he’s just too sweet! After all, Tom is truly despicable–a bully with zero respect for women. In the end, we settled on Bradley Cooper. He’s tall, muscular, and a little frightening. Chilling, even.

Katie: Bradley Cooper terrifies me. That is all.

Eva: See? XD

Daisy: Amanda Seyfried

Katie: We agonized for days dramatic sigh over Daisy Buchanan’s casting before finally settling on Amanda Seyfried. Sheesh, we must have rejected six or seven other actresses! But Amanda seems like a good fit. After all, she’s made a career out of playing ~delicate flower~ types like Daisy. I think she’d be able to balance Daisy’s projected sweetness and innocence with her shallow, selfish core.

Eva: The more I think about it, the more I like Amanda Seyfried in the role. She has an almost fragile presence on-screen, one that would be such a great contrast to Bradley Cooper. It would be easy to sympathize with her–at first. And I would very much enjoy seeing what Seyfried did as the story progressed and the audience got to see more of Daisy’s selfish thoughtlessness.

Nick: Andrew Garfield

Eva: I’ve seen Andrew Garfield in a few different movies and he’s always knocked me out with just how great of an actor he is. Seems like just about every one of his performances is one for the ages. Nick is a quiet guy, mostly hanging around in the background and observing the tragedy unfolding before his eyes. (He really only steps in and Accomplishes Things after Gatsby dies.) I have every confidence that Andrew could convey Nick’s thoughts and feelings–even without a lot of dialogue.

And there is a 500% chance he’d break my heart by the film’s end. That’s always a plus. XD

Katie: Mmhhmmmmmm. We are massive Andrew Garfield fangirls around here. THIS IS AN ANDREW GARFIELD STAN BLOG.

And if I may be pedantic for a moment–Nick is really the central figure of The Great Gatsby. That’s what a lot of readers don’t understand, because it’s so easy to get caught up in Gatsby’s allure. I want this movie adaptation to truly focus on Nick, which means we need an actor who can carry the weight of that role. Andrew Garfield could handle it beautifully.

Eva: AMEN.

Gatsby: Dan Stevens

Katie: Dan Stevens, ladies and gentlemen. Dan Stevens as Jay Gatsby. THE BLUE EYES ALONE. I rest my case. Sure, I know he’s moved away from his period drama roots since Downton Abbey, but if anything could tempt him to return, I think it would be a role as iconic as Gatsby.

Eva: I may or may not have screamed internally when Katie suggested Dan Stevens for the role of Gatsby. That blond hair, those blue eyes, that gorgeous smile! Yep. One hundred percent Gatsby. And on a less cough shallow level, we’ve seen Dan pine over (seemingly) unreachable women in both Downton Abbey and Beauty and the Beast. He is such a good actor and would be truly brilliant as Gatsby. Plus, he’d also break my heart. Him and Andrew Garfield both. </3

Katie: Which is exactly what we want. Right, ladies?

So! You’ve reached the end of our dream cast. What did you think? Did any of our choices make you jump up and down with excitement? (The ultimate goal of any dream cast-er.) (Well, besides seeing one’s casting actually come true on the big screen.) (As if that ever happens.) (At least one can dream.)

If you’re looking for more Gatsby-themed enthusiasm, be sure to check out Katie’s blog post as well (same dream cast, but different pics and intro/outro—worth a visit!). And until next time…*attempts to offer a smile with a quality of eternal reassurance in it*…consider rereading The Great Gatsby. It really is great.


a review of Spider-Man: No Way Home.

This review will be full of unmarked spoilers. Just…so you know. 😉

The greatest superhero crossover event since Avengers: Endgame, No Way Home concluded the MCU’s Spider-Man trilogy with tons of fan-service and an emotional wallop (the two sometimes went hand in hand). I thought No Way Home was an excellent final installment to the trilogy; I’ve listed my favorite things about the film below!

Tom Holland’s Spider-Man

Although Andrew Garfield is my favorite Spider-Man (and we’ll get to him in this post, never fear), Tom Holland’s take on the character is an incredibly close second. We have followed Tom’s Peter from his introduction in Captain America: Civil War to that terrible Snap in Avengers: Infinity War and now finally find him grappling with the fact that everyone knows Spider-Man’s true identity. (Thanks to that creep Mysterio. *glares*)

“Come on. Wong. Hasn’t he been through enough?”

In answer to Doctor Strange’s question, I would give a resounding (and tearful) “YES.” MCU Peter has been through the wringer and then some. Tom Holland has played the character to perfection through all those ups and downs. He had a lot of emotional scenes and character beats to work with in No Way Home—everything from May’s death to Peter becoming friends with alternate versions of himself to having Ned and MJ forget who Peter Parker was. And yeah, like I said…perfection. Thanks to Tom Holland, you really feel Peter’s pain, heartbreak, enthusiasm, joy, love—all of it. You can’t help but want the absolute best for Peter Parker. </3

All the multiverse craziness

Full disclosure—when I watched No Way Home, I had only seen Spider-Man 2 and 3, of the Tobey Maguire films. And that was only once, quite a while ago. I feel that No Way Home could have had even more impact for me if I was more familiar with Tobey’s films. That being said, I still LOVED getting all those villains in one movie and seeing both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield team up with Tom Holland.

Especially Andrew Garfield. Because, like I said, he’s my fave. Which brings me to…

This moment

Literally worth watching the whole movie, just for this scene.

Michael Giacchino’s Score

Listening to it as I write this post and it is everything. Giacchino is my favorite film composer in general and he did such a good job with No Way Home. Here’s a ten minute soundtrack suite if you want to check it out!

The weight of responsibility and choices and all that grown-up stuff

We finally got the ‘great power/great responsibility’ line in an MCU movie. And the placement of it in this movie specifically was excellently timed. MCU Peter Parker has access to more power than any other iteration of Spider-Man that has come before him (in the movies, that is—I don’t know about the comics). Not only does MCU Peter have Stark tech, he also has a powerful wizard friend who can cast spells that wipe people’s memories, break open the multiverse, and who knows what else. Because of all that, Peter ends up pulling people—super-villains—out of their respective universes and into his own.

At first, I didn’t understand why it was Peter’s responsibility to cure the villains. I still think that there is some weak writing in that aspect of the plot: some of the villains might have genuinely had their minds changed by chips and serums and all that (like Doc Ock), but some of them were jerks—and a little bit of tech isn’t going to change that. (Looking at you, Electro.)

But you know what…whatever. I can handle some flaws for the sake of the overall plot (especially if I love the characters—and I do). And I understand better now why it was up to Peter to help the villains. By pulling them into his universe, however inadvertently, he became their nemesis as well. He had the power to cure them, thanks to Tony’s technology, and so he had the responsibility to try.

We’ve seen the ‘hero curing the villain’ plotline before (hello, The Amazing Spider-Man), but I don’t think it has ever been done on such a grand scale. The compassion shown for the villains by Peter, Peter, and Peter (XD) is such a rare and wonderful thing. Redemption for everyone—not just the villains, but the heroes as well. Grace upon grace. Truly beautiful.

My oldest brothers deride Marvel movies, claiming that each movie is the same as all the others—the good guys always defeat the bad guys. I find that so annoying because 1) it’s untrue (Infinity War, anyone?), 2) good triumphing over evil is, like, the most common plotline ever, and 3) just because good wins out over evil doesn’t mean that there aren’t other consequences. And that is certainly the case in No Way Home.

Doctor Strange mind-wipes everyone on the planet so that they forget Peter Parker. What’s more, he does this unwillingly, at Peter’s insistent request. The same Peter who, days before, ruined a spell because he couldn’t stand the thought of having to admit all over again to May that he was Spider-Man. The same Peter who, now changed forever by the events of those few days, sacrifices his identity and his relationships with those he most loves so that the world can be saved.

I admit I was expecting there to be some quick fix for the memory wipe. That MJ and Ned would, somehow, end up remembering Peter by the very end of the film. But nope. And what’s more—Peter accepts that. He doesn’t go crazy trying to force MJ to recognize him. He accepts the consequences of his actions, takes it on the chin, and continues to shoulder the responsibilities that are his, thanks to his extraordinary powers.

I think we all just saw Peter Parker grow up.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Spider-Man: No Way Home. Jon Watts stuck the landing. The entire trilogy is probably my favorite MCU trilogy, as the quality stays so consistent throughout. And…it’s Spider-Man! Far From Home is still my favorite of the three, but No Way Home was so good that I watched it three times in less than forty-eight hours. (It was a weekend, I have a bunch of family members who wanted to see it, and the rental period was very short. XD) And I’d still watch it again tomorrow, if I could. So there’s that.

Have you seen No Way Home? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!


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