on watching Ben-Hur (1959) as an adult (feat. a little life update).

photo by kiwi thompson via unsplash.

Hi, guys.

Remember me?

My last post was published all the way back in November 2022 and my life has been crazy since then. I mean, it was crazy before…but November 2022 was where things got real. That was the month where, one day, I resolved that the next 365 days would be a year of intentional singleness, with the goal of seeking God first. I was sick of struggling with thoughts of discontent, always wondering if this guy or that guy might be ‘the one.’ So I gave my singleness to God and in return, He began showing me just how good and satisfying He is.

That isn’t to say that my life has been perfect since I set aside this year to seek God. Actually, the first three or so months of 2023 were some of the darkest of my life as Satan attacked. I felt as though God was finished with me, could never love me, and so many other dark emotions. (The key word there is ‘felt.’ If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s that I cannot trust my feelings–only God’s Word!) But it has been worth it all. I went into this year with a desire to know Jesus more…and I do. He’s my Savior and I love Him and there’s still so much more to learn.

And, yes, I’m still single. Prospectless, in fact–which is actually fine. November isn’t here yet. 😉 I’m not expecting that a flood of guys will appear at my front door when that specific date rolls around. (Just one–the right one–would be nice though…) And even when this season of singleness ends (or if it never does), I want my main goal to be that I will know and love God more each and every day.

Now for those thoughts on Ben-Hur (1959)…

Until a few days ago, I’d never actually seen Ben-Hur in its entirety. Although I watched it many, many times as a kid, there were always scenes that we skipped–either because they were too ‘boring’ (Judah and Esther’s romantic rendezvous) or too intense for younger viewers. Once I was old enough to watch the whole thing, I never did…for a pretty shallow reason. I’m not a fan of Charlton Heston, so sitting through a nearly four hour long movie starring him didn’t excite me.

But last week, I finally did see Ben-Hur from start to finish. (Minus the overture/intermission, because I was watching it with other people who didn’t appreciate the glorious music.) And here are some things that stood out to me.

They really don’t make ’em like they used to.

I know that’s a very cliched thing to say about old Hollywood epics like Ben-Hur, but that thought kept coming to my mind over and over again as I watched it. The sets, the extras, the matte backdrops, the sheer scope of the story, the larger-than-life characters, the exhaustive soundtrack, the chariot race (!!!!!!!!!!)…I was in awe from start to finish. Watching Ben-Hur as an adult was a much more satisfying experience than watching it as a kid, since I was able to really appreciate the plot, character arcs, and massive amounts of work that went into the film as a whole.

Charlton Heston still isn’t my favorite, but he turns in a great performance.

Judah’s journey from the highest highs to lowest lows (and back again) is incredibly engaging and intense–and that’s thanks in large part to Charlton Heston. Heston’s acting style annoys me sometimes (he can be a liiittle over-dramatic, imo), but I was still invested in Judah’s story from start to finish. I’m getting a little choked up even now, thinking back to some of Heston’s work in the scenes involving Judah and his mother and sister. So good.

Messala terrifies me.

One of the best movie villains…and one of the most chilling. The way he instantly turns on Judah (and the Hur family as a whole!) is shocking. He’s an evil guy, right up to the end of his part in the story, but there’s still a bit of sadness in the back of my mind for what he was and what he could have been. 😦

Judah’s revenge/redemption arc is beautiful…but lacking in one way.

I really liked Judah’s character arc in Ben-Hur, no question about it. But what would have made me love it is if there had been a longer denouement before the film’s end. I don’t have a clear picture of what that could have looked like, but I think including news of Christ’s resurrection would have been nice. Judah was impacted so powerfully by Jesus and without the resurrection there’s a bit of a sense that Jesus was just a good man who helped Judah. I also would have liked a scene or two of the Hur family after their initial reunion. They were so sweet and happy together at the start of the movie; after multiple hours of separation and misery, seeing them reconnecting would have been wonderful.

(“And I felt His voice take the sword out of my hand” is still the best line in the movie though. A great ending to Judah’s arc, even if the rest of the denouement feels a little rushed.)

When this movie is powerful, it’s really, really, REALLY powerful.

I’ve tried just now to write about what makes Ben-Hur such a powerful film, over sixty years after its release, but words really do fail me. Its a powerful character study that grapples with themes of revenge and forgiveness and fear and death and life. The chariot race is still spectacular in every way (as well as being a clear inspiration for the podrace in The Phantom Menace). And the very human, relatable characters will capture your heart. Ben-Hur is food for the spirit. If you haven’t seen it yet, take the next available opportunity to do so!

I don’t know if I’ll return to posting regularly here (or even semi-regularly). But I did really enjoy writing this blog post. Let me know how you all are doing and if you’ve seen Ben-Hur (and what you thought of it, if you have).



ranking Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth movies (extended editions, naturally).

This blog post is a contribution to A Tolkien Blog Party 2022 hosted by The Edge of the Precipice.

I may have some quibbles with how Peter Jackson chose to portray Tolkien’s stories and characters (more on that later), but the fact remains that Jackson got many, many more things right than he got wrong. I truly love both the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy! But…I do love some of those films more than the others, so today I’ll be ranking all six from least-favorite to most-favorite. There will be fangirling, a few critiques, and maybe a controversial ranking or two. Let’s go!

6. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

What I like: The usual suspects—Martin Freeman’s Bilbo, everything with Smaug, the beautiful visuals. The spider fight in Mirkwood is also good stuff, particularly the bit where Bilbo goes crazy over the ring. Excellent work from our beloved Martin Freeman. I also enjoy the soundtrack! The new leitmotifs for Kili + Tauriel and Laketown are great.

What I don’t like: It’s boring? Really boring? Your mileage may vary, of course, but there are only a handful of scenes in The Desolation of Smaug that really capture my attention. Beorn, Mirkwood, Gandalf investigating the return of Sauron…sadly, I’m bored more often than not. Oh, and don’t get me started on the orc attack in Laketwon. *yawns*

Ultimately: One of these films had to be in last place. There’s still a lot about Desolation that I like, but at the end of the day I’m not a fan of its too-long sequences (river chase, sneaking around Laketown, orc attack) and downer ending.

5. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

What I like: All of the Shire scenes are pitch-perfect, no question about it. And casting was not one of the faults of the Hobbit trilogy. I know I’ve already mentioned Martin Freeman’s Bilbo, but he bears mentioning again! Rarely have I seen an actor and a character so well suited for each other. The opening bit with him and Gandalf and “good morning” is cinematic gold.

(Oh, and the soundtrack is also splendid, as always.)

What I don’t like: Radagast. 😛 And the whole Goblin-town sequence is (again) boring.

Ultimately: An Unexpected Journey is perhaps the coziest of Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth films. I’ll always be happy to rewatch it, even if I do skip over Radagast’s scenes. (I just do. not. like. him.)

4. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

What I like: Rohan, Théoden & family, Gandalf’s return, Andy Serkis’ brilliant performance, Helm’s Deep, “Look for my coming,” THE MUSIC, the flashback scene w/ Boromir, the last march of the Ents, Merry and Pippin.

What I don’t like: I’m not going to talk about this at great length, but Faramir’s character (or lack thereof) in The Two Towers consistently rubs me the wrong way. Not a fan. I also think that TTT is the slowest-paced and least uplifting installment in the LOTR trilogy. (Which I suppose isn’t suprising, as it’s the middle section and so much still has to be resolved.)

I also don’t care for the subplot with Aragorn’s ‘death.’ It doesn’t add much (if anything) to the overall story, so it feels like a waste of time.

Ultimately: There really is a lot to love about The Two Towers (especially Théoden’s character arc!!!), but even Sam’s speech at the end can’t lift the forboding, gloomy vibes.

3. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

What I like: It’s the cast and characters that really elevate this movie. Bilbo, Thorin, Gandalf, Bard, Thranduil, Kili, Fili and the list goes on. I love them! The relationships between these characters, the drama, Thorin’s downward spiral and subsequent redemption, Bilbo’s return home, that final scene, ‘The Last Goodbye’…it’s all so good. Not as epic as The Return of the King, no doubt, but very, very good in its own right.

What I don’t like: The titular battle drags on and on and, if you watch the extended (R-rated) edition, it ends up being extremely gory. Ugh.

Ultimately: On a different day, I might have ranked The Two Towers above The Battle of the Five Armies. But I really do love Armies this much. It’s bittersweet and beautiful and I want to rewatch it right now.

2. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

What I like: Where to begin??? I’m getting choked up just thinking of certain scenes and lines from this glorious film. But I’ll try to write out a list of my absolute favorite things. They are…

Minas Tirith, Faramir and Pippin’s friendship, Frodo not giving up, the music (always have to mention that), the ride of the Rohirrim (!!!!!!!!!), the 1.5 scenes devoted to Éowyn and Faramir’s romance, Gandalf and Pippin discussing the afterlife, Gandalf and Pippin’s friendship in general, everything after the ring is destroyed, and I could keep going.

What I don’t like: Frodo and Sam’s fight on the Stairs of Cirith Ungol. Nope, nope, nope.

Ultimately: The Return of the King is a masterpiece, deep and detailed and wonderful in every sense of the word. The very best send-off possible for both the characters and the fans. I doubt it will ever be surpassed, as epic finales go.

1. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

What I like: Pretty much everything. No lie.

What I don’t like: I’m sure there’s something, but…what?

Ultimately: The Fellowship of the Ring has three things going for it that no other Middle-earth film has—the entire fellowship travelling and fighting and sightseeing together, (almost) all of Boromir’s scenes, and Howard Shore’s indescribable ‘The Breaking of the Fellowship.’ I absolutely love this film, and it could never have been anywhere on this list but here.

Are you shocked, absolutely shocked that I placed The Battle of the Five Armies higher than The Two Towers? How would you rank these six films? Do let me know in the comments!


a Tolkien Blog Party 2022 tag.

The annual Tolkien Blog Party (hosted by Rachel @ The Edge of the Precipice) is running for the duration of this week, and it’s been a LOT of fun so far. As always, Rachel has provided a tag for the party participants to fill out. Here are my answers!

Who first introduced you to Middle-earth?

My oldest brother. He bought all three LOTR films (extended editions, thankfully) and showed them to my family. Although it wasn’t until I watched the trilogy by myself a few weeks later that I became really obsessed, I’ll always have my brother to thank for opening my eyes to the wonders of Middle-earth.

Has your love of Middle-earth affected your life?

I have a whole shelf dedicated to Tolkien books and movies and merch, so…yeah. 😉 The books and movies and movie soundtracks are all so beautiful; my life is richer because of them.

Have you ever dressed up like a Tolkien character?

Nope. Maybe someday though!

What people in your real life would you want in your company if you had to take the ring to Mordor?

The first person I thought of was my pastor. Which might sound a little odd, but he’s a good archer and knows a lot about the outdoors, camping, edible plants, and all that. He’d also provide spiritual guidance and encouragement when the ring/the quest threatened to send us all plunging into despair. I see this as an absolute win.

As for the rest of our group, I can think of a few other people in my church who’d be good to bring along. But my pastor is my number one pick.

What Middle-earth location would you most like to visit?

Rivendell, for Elrond and the beauty and nostalgia and friendliness of it all. My second and third picks are easily Minas Tirith and Ithilien

Are there any secondary characters you think deserve more attention?

Éomer. Farmer Maggot. Beregond. Almost everyone from The Silmarillion.

Would you rather attend Faramir’s wedding or Samwise’s wedding?

I’M TORN. Probably Sam’s wedding, even though I love Faramir a lot more. If I saw Faramir, I’d probably end up wishing I was the one marrying him. XD Whereas at Sam’s wedding, I could focus on the delicious food and possibly have a chat with Frodo and/or Merry. Which would be wonderful.

How many books by J.R.R. Tolkien have you read?

The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, Letters from Father Christmas, and Leaf by Niggle (which is more a short story than a full book).

Are there any books about Middle-earth or Professor Tolkien (but not written by him) that you recommend?

A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War was quite good. As was On the Shoulders of Hobbits.

List up to ten of your favorite lines/quotations from the Middle-earth books and/or movies.

...[the Ring] abandoned Gollum. Only to be picked up by the most unlikely person imaginable: Bilbo from the Shire! Behind that there was something else at work, beyond any design of the Ring-maker. I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker. In which case you also were meant to have it. And that may be an encouraging thought. —LOTR, ‘The Shadow of the Past’

The dark figure streaming with fire raced towards them. The orcs yelled and poured over the stone gangways. Then Boromir raised his horn and blew. Loud the challenge rang and bellowed, like the shout of many throats under the cavernous roof. For a moment the orcs quailed and the fiery shadow halted. —LOTR, ‘The Bridge of Khazad-dûm’

“But it does not seem that I can trust anyone,” said Frodo.

Sam looked at him unhappily. “It all depends on what you want,” put in Merry. “You can trust us to stick with you through thick and thin – to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours – closer than you keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo. Anyway: there it is. We know most of what Gandalf has told you. We know a good deal about the ring. We are horribly afraid – but we are coming with you; or following you like hounds.” —LOTR, ‘A Conspiracy Unmasked’

“Look at me. You look at me.” —Bard, The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

“A great Shadow has departed,” said Gandalf, and then he laughed, and the sound was like music, or like water in a parched land… —LOTR, ‘The Field of Cormallen’

“If ever beyond hope you return to the lands of the living and we re-tell our tales, sitting by a wall in the sun, laughing at old grief, you shall tell me then.” —LOTR, ‘The Forbidden Pool’ (especially because Tolkien also quoted this in one of his letters to Christopher, who was away fighting during WWII 😭)

And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed on into the West, until at last on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise. —LOTR, ‘The Grey Havens’

There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach. —LOTR, ‘The Land of Shadow’

And as if in answer there came from far away another note. Horns, horns, horns, in dark Mindolluin’s sides they dimly echoed. Great horns of the north wildly blowing. Rohan had come at last. —LOTR, ‘The Siege of Gondor’

“I will take the Ring,’ he said, ‘though I do not know the way.—LOTR, ‘The Council of Elrond’

How were you introduced to Middle-earth? What are some of your favorite Tolkien quotes? Let me know in the comments!


my top five favorite Robin Williams roles.

About a month ago, we passed the eighth anniversary of Robin Williams’ death (August 11). Back in 2014, I hadn’t seen any of Williams’ films besides (and I’m unsure of this) Aladdin—and so I didn’t really ‘get’ the great outpouring of grief and love that dominated the internet during that time.

Now, eight years later, I do.

I’ve watched and enjoyed several of Williams’ films since 2014, but my liking for him runs deeper than the fact that he starred in many enjoyable (and even great) films. There was truly something special about Robin Williams and his performances. So today, I thought I’d share a list of my favorite roles of his.

5. Teddy Roosevelt / Night at the Museum trilogy

This is more of a nostalgic choice than anything, since Teddy doesn’t feature much in any of the Night at the Museum films. But no matter how small a role he was given, Robin Williams always found a way to make that role memorable. Teddy’s sweet romance with Sacagawea is a highlight for me! And I always get choked up watching his farewell to Larry in the third film.

4. Bob Munro / RV

RV is a silly movie, one that was panned by critics. But it’s a favorite of mine. Bob may be something of a clichéd character—a work-obsessed dad who learns to appreciate his family by the end of the film—but because he’s portrayed by Robin Williams, I can forgive all the clichés. And it is pretty sweet to see Bob finally learn to value his wife and kids.

3. John Keating / Dead Poets Society

I want to sit in on one of Keating’s classes. He has a passion for classic literature and poetry that is second only to his passion for making a positive difference in the lives of his students. Dead Poets Society is tragic, but it ends with a spark of life and joy because of Keating and his influence on Todd and the others. And Robin Williams’ performance is just excellent.

2. Genie / Aladdin (1992)

I can’t think of a more iconic character/actor pairing in an animated Disney film than this one. While I enjoy the entirety of Aladdin—all the songs and all the characters—the Genie really is something special. Robin Williams brought his own magic to Aladdin, no doubt about it.

1. Sean Maguire / Good Will Hunting

It doesn’t surprise me that one of Williams’ most weighty and dramatic roles is my favorite of his. Even though I do love his more comedic roles, I’ve always gravitated toward stories with a bit more seriousness. Good Will Hunting is Matt Damon’s movie, but without Robin Williams there wouldn’t have been a movie. (Or, at least, it wouldn’t have been nearly as good.) I can’t think of anyone else better suited to the role of Will’s persistent, compassionate therapist than Robin.

Have you watched any of these movies? What is your favorite Robin Williams’ performance? Let me know in the comments! ❤


Wyatt Earp & Doc Holliday in ‘Hour of the Gun’: a legendary friendship.

This blog post is a contribution to Legends of Western Cinema Week.

The dust has settled following the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. The Earps and Doc Holliday stand trial for the shooting. The courtroom is crowded, jumpy, hostile. Doc Holliday takes the witness stand.

“I don’t need a badge to kill,” he says, in response to the prosecutor’s barbed questions.

“Only the word of Wyatt Earp,” the prosecutor sneers.

“I’d go to hell and back on the word of Wyatt Earp,” Doc snaps. Little does he know that that is exactly what he will do: follow Wyatt into the hell of one man’s relentless, bloodthirsty hunt for vengeance.

But let’s go back to the beginning…

Hour of the Gun is a tense Western, unique in that it deals with the aftermath of an event that most films would instead build to as the finale: the shoot-out at the O.K. Corral. That narrative choice makes for a fascinating look at the character of both Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, and their friendship. And that’s because we see Wyatt and Doc essentially switch roles as they each deal with the consequences of the gunfight.

At the beginning of the film, Wyatt is shown to be a law-abiding, law-upholding man. He is one of the most respected men in Tombstone. He follows the letter of the law and the dictates of his own conscience, the two working together in unison. Doc admires Wyatt’s honesty and sense of honor, even though he might sometimes scoff at Wyatt’s (relative) uprightness.

Wyatt begins to change, however, when Ike Clanton’s men cripple Virgil Earp and kill Morgan Earp, Wyatt’s brothers. The case against Clanton’s men is thrown out of court, so Wyatt and Doc form a posse to bring in Clanton’s gang. (It’s legal for them to do so, though I’m fuzzy on the details.) They are supposed to bring in the men alive, if they want the bounty money, but the first three members of the gang end up being killed—by Wyatt.

Each time, it’s a case of self-defense. Each time, Wyatt had no choice but to shoot. Each time, there were ‘extenuating circumstances.’

And by the third time, Doc begins to suspect something is wrong.

When Wyatt’s posse finds the last member of the gang, Wyatt forces the outlaw into a draw and then loses all self-control, shooting the man multiple times. And Doc sees the truth about his friend.

“Those aren’t warrants you’ve got there. Those are hunting licenses.”

Wyatt has become vicious. Vindictive. Vengeful.

It’s a difficult scene that follows, one where Doc tears into Wyatt for stooping to what is basically (if not technically) murder, for turning his back on law and order.

It’s a scene in which Wyatt says nothing, the truth of Doc’s words clearly shown by his silence.

“Five minutes after we left the OK Corral, I wanted to say, ‘Get Clanton, Wyatt. Get him before he gets you.’ But I didn’t. You don’t speak that way to Wyatt Earp. You’ve got too much respect for him.”

I think on some level, Doc’s bitter rant against Wyatt’s actions is due to the fact that Doc has always looked up to Wyatt a little. Respected him, definitely. And now to see that Wyatt has been engaged in a vengeful killing spree the whole time, that he’s been eaten up by cold, calculated hate…it rattles Doc. Doc has always been ‘the wild one,’ if you will. The one who drinks too much and gambles too much—and kills too much. But now the roles have been reversed. Now Doc is the level-headed one, the man standing on a higher moral plane than Wyatt.

Wyatt was a hero, in Doc’s eyes. But not anymore. And Doc’s anger and regret and even sadness boils over into a tirade that is almost as painful for us to hear as it is for Wyatt. Why? Because Wyatt and Doc are friends. We know this. They know this. So as much as Wyatt needs to hear what Doc has to say, it still hurts.

It hurts so much, in fact, that Wyatt ends up hitting Doc. (I hate that. So much.)

“That’s all right,” says Doc as he fights off a coughing fit. “This stops.” But Wyatt’s mission of vengeance won’t.

Wyatt is offered the job of Chief U.S. Marshal by men who have no idea that he’s turned vengeful. Instead of giving an answer right away, Wyatt heads down to Mexico to seek vengeance one last time—against Ike Clanton, the man who orchestrated Virgil’s injury and Morgan’s death. Wyatt intends to go alone, but Doc figures out what he’s doing and gets on the same train. Wyatt doesn’t want him along (for obvious reasons), but Doc doesn’t care.

“Buy a return ticket and go take care of yourself.”
“No thank you.”

You have to understand that this isn’t just a friend refusing to leave another friend (though it is that). It’s a dying man refusing to go home and get the treatment that could, if not save his life, then at least prolong it. Doc is dying of tuberculosis, but he won’t leave Wyatt alone. Even if he can’t stop Wyatt from taking his revenge one last time, he’s not going to desert his friend. He’s not going to stop trying to bring Wyatt back to the right side of the law and common morality.

Doc points out that when Wyatt killed Clanton’s gang, it was at least under cover of the law. But tracking Clanton to Mexico and killing him will be a completely lawless act.

“You’re throwing away all the years you’ve lived by the rules.”
“I don’t care about the rules.”
“They’re the only rules there are. And they’re more important to you than you think. You can’t live like me.”

But Wyatt doesn’t listen. “Go back to the hotel. Take care of yourself,” he tells Doc, as he fingers the badge that doesn’t seem to mean much to him anymore.

“No thanks,” Doc says again. In his own way, he’s as relentless as Wyatt.

They find Clanton. And as Wyatt prepares for a shoot-out with the man who killed his brother, he pulls his badge from his pocket and throws it aside. He won’t dishonor the badge, won’t hide behind it any longer.

Whether Wyatt intentionally threw the badge to Doc or not, Doc does catch it. It’s a small moment, but one loaded with meaning. Consider this exchange between Wyatt and Doc from the beginning of the film:

“Doc? Did Virg deputize you?”
“I swore to something he was muttering about.”
wear the badge.”

Throughout the course of the film, Wyatt has stepped further and further outside the law—maybe not always judicial law, but certainly moral law. And Doc has, from the moment he decided to go to the O.K. Corral, been driven toward the law and justice and doing what’s right…all for the sake of his friend. As Wyatt’s moral compass corrodes, Doc’s begins to work again.

And now Doc catches Wyatt’s badge. He has gone from having to be ordered to wear the badge, to safeguarding that symbol of law and order—just as he has tried to safeguard Wyatt’s sense of law and order throughout the film.

Wyatt does kill Clanton (it’s a fair draw…but still vengeance). A few days (weeks?) later, Doc gives Wyatt back his badge and, in effect, gives Wyatt his blessing in regards to continuing to work as a marshal. Wyatt takes the badge, but he won’t work for the law again.

I like to think that Wyatt makes that choice because he has seen how wrong he’s been, that Doc was right all along, and that it wouldn’t be honorable for him to take up his old job (or a new one, as Chief U.S. Marshal), with the trail of vengeance killings stretching behind him. I like to think all that because it means that Doc did get through to Wyatt and helped re-align his skewed moral compass.

Doc may not have been able to save the lawman, in the end, but he did save the man. He stuck by Wyatt and remained his friend even when they disagreed so sharply, even when it would have been easier and safer to return home and let Wyatt continue to spiral downward.

Hour of the Gun may be bleak at times. But in the middle of the killings, the thirst for vengeance, and the fracturing of a legendary hero, you’ll find a loyal man trying in his own feeble, sarcastic way to rescue his best friend. And that is something worth seeing—worth emulating, even.

Have you ever watched Hour of the Gun? What did you think of it? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!


the Legends of Western Cinema Week tag.

It’s that time of year again, folks, and I am so excited! Rachel, Heidi, and Olivia are once again hosting the Legends of Western Cinema Week, complete with all sorts of fun festivities as we celebrate our favorite Western films and characters. I’ve got a blog post about Hour of the Gun (1967) planned for later this week, but right now I’ll be answering the tag questions created by our hosts.

1) Favorite western focused on a lone hero?

I love Shane (1953). A quiet stranger defends the lives, freedoms, and peace of a small group of farmers, then leaves as suddenly as he arrived. Shane is the quintessential Western loner—he represents everything I like and admire about the character type.

2) Favorite western focused on a group of compadres?

The Magnificent Seven (1960) is the obvious answer, and it’s certainly my favorite. But Rio Bravo (1959) is worth a mention as well. Four very different guys band together to ensure a murderer is brought to justice. My favorite of those guys is Dude (Dean Martin), but they all have their good points.

3) Favorite western with a female main character?

True Grit (2010)! Mattie is brave, resourceful, and stubborn—one of my favorite female characters in general. The fact that she’s only fourteen makes her daring deeds all the more impressive. A close second on my favorites list would be Cat Ballou (1965). Jane Fonda’s plays Cat, another young woman who hires a grubby gunfighter to avenge her father’s death. Almost a comedy version of True Grit, if you think about it!

4) Favorite western with a POC main character?

You know, I don’t think I’ve ever watched one. Sigh. I’ve started one: The Magnificent Seven (2016), which I should really give another chance. (It bored me, so I gave up. I think I’d like it better now though.) Any other recs for POC-led Westerns?

5) Favorite western with kids in it?

Does Old Yeller (1957) count as a Western? I think so! Anyway, that’s my pick. If I can manage to type through my tears, that is… 😉

6) Favorite western set somewhere other than the United States?

You know, I thought that The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966) might have been set in Mexico—but nope. It takes place in New Mexico. So I’m going with Hidalgo (2004), because sometimes The Vibes are more important than The Decade In Which the Film Is Set.

7) Favorite “western” that doesn’t fit the genre’s dictionary definition?

THE MANDALORIAN. Impeccable Old West energy. Din sounds like a young Clint Eastwood and it’s delightful. He also protects the weak, has a fast draw, and tames a blurrg. What more do you want in a cowboy???

(If you’d like a more in-depth look at TheMandalorian-as-a-Western, check out ‘The Mandalorian: Cowboys in Outer Space‘, an article written by our very own host Rachel!)

8) Favorite funny western?

Support Your Local Sheriff (1969) because I LOVE JAMES GARNER.

(I just rewatched Hour of the Gun last night, so I’m a bit hyper when it comes to JG. Apologies extended. XD)

Seriously though, Support Your Local Sheriff is an absolutely hilarious Western. Jason McCullough (James Garner) arrives in the town of Calendar, CO and is almost immediately elected sheriff of the brawling town. Jason cleans up the town, falls in love with the mayor’s daughter, and faces off against the dastardly Danby family. Such a fun film—I can’t recommend it highly enough for fans of Westerns!

9) Favorite tragic/sad western?

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) is steeped in sadness from its very first scene.

Like…the cactus rose. CAN YOU NOT, JOHN FORD?

10) Favorite western TV show?

Wanted: Dead or Alive, starring Steve McQueen, has been my favorite for several years now. Each episode is short (less than a half hour), but many of them pack a narrative punch unmatched by some longer and more well-known shows. I also love F Troop and I think I’d love Maverick if I watched more of it. Oh, and there’s Bonanza and Rawhide of course! But Wanted remains my favorite. ❤

this is one of the funniest production stills
I’ve ever seen.

What are some of your favorite Westerns? Let me know in the comments!


ranking the Air Bud movies.

When I was a kid, my siblings and I had the Air Bud films on a rotation system at the library. We almost always had at least one Air Bud movie in the house. And we rewatched those films over and over and over again. Needless to say, they were a formative and influential part of my childhood—and beyond. (One big example: the first film’s excellent soundtrack was the first movie score I ever really noticed, leading to an appreciation of movie soundtracks that’s lasted my whole life.)

In case you didn’t know, the Air Bud movies follow the adventures of a dog called Buddy and his family, the Framms. Buddy is a whiz at playing all different kinds of sports (basketball, football, you name it). Each film focuses on a different sport, but they all follow the same basic story beats: kid is depressed, starts playing a sport, teams fails until Buddy joins the team, they win the championship and the kid’s problems are all solved. And the villains are the kind of crazy idiots found in low budget kids’ films. Nostalgia is definitely the main appeal of the series to me now. (Also, Kevin Zegers as Josh Framm.)

Now that I’ve explained some of the context, I thought I’d rank the Air Bud movies (for myself, if no one else). So here we go!

(Note: I will not be ranking the awful Air Buddies movies in this post. They are dead to me. XD)

Air Bud: Spikes Back (2003)

Andrea Framm (Josh’s little sister) needs to save enough money for a trip to California, to visit her best friend who recently moved there. She joins the local volleyball team, since the team that wins the championships will go to California. The team is doing poorly…until a certain dog joins in the fun. Oh, and two thieves want to kidnap Buddy to steal a giant diamond. (Because it’s an unwritten rule of the franchise that someone always wants to kidnap Buddy.)

This is the Air Bud movie my siblings and I watched the least. The franchise had worn out its welcome by this point, in my opinion, and I’m not surprised that Spikes Back was the last Air Bud film made. This is the only movie in which Josh doesn’t make an appearance, which instantly lowers the film’s credibility. (Josh was the one who originally found Buddy, in the first movie). Andrea is played by a different actress than in the previous two films and there’s a needlessly graphic vomiting scene that I guess was there to get laughs from the kids? But it just comes across as gross. I don’t want to see that. 😛

I’ll be happy never watching this one again.

Air Bud: World Pup (2000)

Josh falls in love with his little sister’s soccer coach (a fellow high school student) and…that’s about it? Sure, there are some sports scenes and the typical villainous plot to dognap Buddy, but the story’s main focus is the teen romance (and a dog romance as well).

I didn’t watch this one a lot when I was a kid (because romance is ew, hehe), and I’m not really a fan these days either. Josh acts kinda dumb (he is, after all, a teenager in love) and the film as a whole is pretty meh.

Air Bud: Golden Receiver (1998)

When Josh’s mom begins dating again (after Josh’s dad died a few years back), Josh turns to football as a way to escape his worries about the future.

This movie is a good example of how revisiting childhood favorites as an adult can take some of the shine off a beloved story. See, this used to be my favorite Air Bud movie. I loved how the series grew right along with Josh, what with him having to deal with growing up, seeing his mom move forward, and having to learn how to do the same. I always teared up at the end of the film when Josh finally accepts Patrick (the guy Mrs. Framm fell in love with).

But this time around that ending just didn’t work for me, mainly because I’m now able to see that Patrick is a jerk. At one point in the film, Josh snoops around Patrick’s office in an attempt to see if Patrick is hiding anything from Josh’s mom. Josh finds pictures of three different women in Patrick’s wallet, and he’s understandably upset and disturbed by that. He confronts Patrick about the pictures and Patrick patronizingly explains that those women are his sisters (while also mocking Josh for the subterfuge Josh used to gain access to Patrick’s office in the first place). And that totally rubbed me the wrong way. Patrick should have recognized Josh’s concerns, explained himself, and commended Josh for wanting to protect his mom. But instead, he belittled Josh.


So yeah, Golden Receiver isn’t my favorite anymore. There are still some things I like about (the football coach is great and a true father figure to Josh). But I can’t get over Patrick’s annoyingness.

Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch (2002)

Now this film is almost as good as the first one, and that’s because it returns to focusing on the main character’s internal struggles instead of the dumb villains or even the cute dogs. Josh leaves for college and Andrea is left at home, lonely and struggling to find her place in her family/school/the world.

I really enjoy the brother/sister dynamic between Josh and Andrea in this film (Kevin Zegers and Caitlin Wachs even look like siblings!). I also don’t mind the wacky villains in this film. Overall, it’s heartwarming, lots of fun, and even tear-jerking in one or two places. I don’t ask for much more than from an Air Bud movie.

Air Bud (1997)

The OG—and the best.

Josh Framm finds a lost circus dog with a remarkable ability to play basketball. A simplistic plot, but what a movie! (So says my nostalgia. 😉 Though Air Bud is still a lot of fun even without rose-tinted glasses.)

Things I love about Air Bud:

  • the 90’s vibes
  • Kevin Zegers as Josh is the best thing to happen to the franchise. He’s a great actor and very likable/believable on-screen (which isn’t always a given in kids’ movies).
  • an actually menacing villain for once
  • Bill Cobbs makes a great basketball coach
  • have I mentioned the soundtrack???
  • Josh’s secret basketball court
  • nostalgia
  • real heart behind the story and characters <333

To put it another way…I love almost everything about the original Air Bud movie, and I’m so glad it was a part of my childhood. ❤

Have you seen any films in the Air Bud series? Which is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!


the honestea tag.

The time has come for me to bare my soul in this tag of brutal honesty. XD

Let it begin!


  • No lies allowed. If an answer is too shameful to expose you may substitute the answer with a gif/image of someone drinking tea.
  • There are optional bonus additions to questions but these are not for the faint of heart.
  • You complete the tag having answered every question + the bonus additions (no gifs used), you are dubbed a certified tea chugger, and you deserve a badge to show the world that you are not afraid of a steaming hot cup of TRUTH.
  • Tag at least one other person (a tea party with just one is not very fun. trust me.) Untagged persons are more than welcome to fill it out as well (nothing cooler than crashing a tea party).


What is a ‘bad’ (generally disliked) movie that you actually love?

I know that many people love Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man now, but I think that his solo movies (particularly the second one) still get a bad rap. So I’ll just say it: I love The Amazing Spider-Man. And I like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 more than I dislike it. I do wish Harry had been the main/only villain, but oh well.

What is your most shocking reading habit?

This isn’t a habit, since I don’t personally do it, but I really see nothing wrong with dog-earing pages.

Tell us the number one lie you write in your posts.

I try not to lie in any of my posts. On occasion, I will hype up a book or movie a tiny bit more than I really feel like doing. (As in, I may have felt a bit more meh about a book than I let on in the review.) But I do really try to be honest with my reviews! Especially since I’ve been gypped by gushing reviews. (Don’t get me started…)

Tell us the worst character name you’ve ever thought up. {Bonus: share a character name you find ridiculous in a book/movie.}

I’m sure there are bad character names I’ve come up with, but I’m drawing a blank.

Okay, okay.

I wrote a western once upon a time where the main character’s name was ‘Edward Smythers.’ Not the worst, but what is that last name??

As for another author’s character name that I find ridiculous, Charles Dickens has a lot. But they’re meant to be ridiculous, so I doubt that counts.

What is the real reason you procrastinate writing your work in progress?

Laziness. And probably some fear of failing to write perfectly.

What is a genre of music you secretly love?

I don’t know about genre per se, but I’ve enjoyed songs from ABBA despite not listening to their music/that genre in general.

If you’re a plotter, what do you really think of pansters? If you’re a panster, what do you really think of plotters?

I’m a hardcore plotter. I don’t understand pantsers at all. But if it works for them, who am I to say nay?

Share at least three lines of dialogue from one of your first writing projects. {Bonus: give us the good stuff. your most gruesome butchering of the English language.}

From an extremely juvenile horse story I wrote a decade or so ago:

“This horse is pretty bad-looking,” Mrs. Smith was talking. “But if anyone can pull him through, you can Mr. Hardy.”

“Well Mrs. Smith, we’ll do our best.”

“Do you want to keep the horse once we’re finished with him?” Burt asked.

“Do you think he’ll be any good as a saddle horse?” Mrs. Smith queried.

“I think there’s a fine horse under all this dirt, and I’m determined to get that horse out. Just leave it to us.”

” ‘Us’, what do you mean ‘us’? I thought it was a one man operation here.” said Mrs. Smith.

“No, I do the actual training and that, but my daughter brushes and talks to the horse, winning his trust you know, and my wife is kind of the treasurer of these stables.”


Tell us the title & artist of the last song you listened to.

Rubber Ball‘ by Bobby Vee.

Which beloved book/movie character do you dislike & why?

Samwise Gamgee.

But before you unfollow me, let me explain!!!

Although I do dislike Sam more than I probably should, I also recognize how wonderfully self-sacrificing and loyal he is. (And please note that ‘dislike’ does not equal ‘hate.’)

My dislike of Sam stems from a couple things. I resent him because he gets all (or most) of the praise from the fandom, and Frodo (my favorite!) is generally and unfairly overlooked. I recognize this is quite petty. XD But my second reason? Sam is actually horrid to Gollum time and time again. He undoes all the work Frodo has done with/for Gollum in trying to bring Gollum back to the side of goodness.

Now of course there are extenuating circumstances. They’re in dangerous territory, Gollum really is quite a fiend, and Sam feels a big responsibility to protect Frodo from any danger. All well and good. But Sam antagonizes Gollum a LOT when he could have just held his tongue and followed Frodo’s example of mercy and kindness. He didn’t though. And the fandom all but ignores that side of Sam, which really bugs me.

Anyway, just take a look at what Tolkien said in Letter #246!

Sam is meant to be lovable and laughable. Some readers he irritates and even infuriates. I can well understand it. All hobbits at times affect me in the same way, though I remain very fond of them. But Sam can be very ‘trying’…If he had understood better what was going on between Frodo and Gollum, things might have turned out differently in the end.

For me perhaps the most tragic moment in the Tale comes in II 323 ff. when Sam fails to note the complete change in Gollum’s tone and aspect. ‘Nothing, nothing’, said Gollum softly. ‘Nice master!’. His repentance is blighted and all Frodo’s pity is (in a sense) wasted. Shelob’s lair became inevitable.”

If no one agrees with me, it’s okay. Tolkien would have. =)

Tell us the title & topic of a post you have left in draft.

‘The Christian Themes of A Quiet Place

Will it ever see the light of day? Who knows!

What is a book you pretend you’ve read/would like to read but know you never will? {Bonus: share a time when claiming you’ve read a classic/well-known book didn’t end well}

I don’t pretend to have read books. (At least not anymore.) There’s no shame in not having read a book!

Tell us the title & topic of the most embarrassing post you’ve ever written. {Bonus: include. the. link.}

Too many to choose from, hehe.


I’m not going to specifically tag anyone. It’s open to anyone who’d like to answer these questions, as indicated in the tag rules, and I’ve included a ‘clean’ copy of the questions below, for your convenience. 🙂

What is a ‘bad’ (generally disliked) movie that you actually love?

What is your most shocking reading habit?

Tell us the number one lie you write in your posts.

Tell us the worst character name you’ve ever thought up. {Bonus: share a character name you find ridiculous in a book/movie.}

What is the real reason you procrastinate writing your work in progress?

What is a genre of music you secretly love?

If you’re a plotter, what do you really think of pansters? If you’re a panster, what do you really think of plotters?

Share at least three lines of dialogue from one of your first writing projects. {Bonus: give us the good stuff. your most gruesome butchering of the English language.}

Tell us the title & artist of the last song you listened to.

Which beloved book/movie character do you dislike & why?

Tell us the title & topic of a post you have left in draft.

What is a book you pretend you’ve read/would like to read but know you never will? {Bonus: share a time when claiming you’ve read a classic/well-known book didn’t end well}

Tell us the title & topic of the most embarrassing post you’ve ever written. {Bonus: include. the. link.}

What’s a genre of music do you secretly love? A movie you adore that critics despised? Let me know in the comments!


‘you are my lucky star’: Don & Kathy’s romance in Singin’ in the Rain.

This blog post is a contribution to The Singin’ in the Rain Blogathon hosted by The Classic Movie Muse.

2022 marks the 70th anniversary of Singin’ in the Rain, a film which is quite possibly the greatest movie musical of all time. Originally, I planned to write about my personal history with the film (including my childhood crush on Gene Kelly), but then I started to think about how many of the musical numbers in the film illustrate the progression of Don and Kathy’s romance. The more I started thinking about that concept, the more fascinated I became. So that’s what I’m going to talk about today!

“All I Do Is Dream of You”

Don and Kathy’s relationship doesn’t begin in the most conventional way. Don jumps into Kathy’s car in a frantic attempt to escape his rabid fans. The conversation that follows degenerates into trading insults. When Don finally exits Kathy’s car, they’re sure they will never see each other again. But just a few minutes later, Kathy and her chorus girl colleagues show up to entertain the guests at a party held in Don’s honor.

This is the song they sing:

At this point in the story, Kathy and Don are in the ‘enemies’ stage of the enemies to lovers trope. Kathy even tries to throw a pie in Don’s face after the performance! Still, this musical number is a sign of things to come. Don does end up thinking about Kathy all. the. time. after she runs out of the party that evening.

(This wasn’t included in the movie, but originally there was a scene where Don sings a wistful reprise of “All I Do” after Kathy leaves. I would have loved to see that.)

“You Were Meant for Me”

Man. This scene and this song made my heart go crazy, back in the day. 😉

At this point in Don and Kathy’s relationship, they’re on good speaking terms. There’s even some hints of a budding attraction. But Don isn’t ready to commit. Yes, he sings a very, very romantic song to Kathy. He even sings it with great sincerity and tenderness. But he’s still holding something back—just look at the lyrics.

If I but dared

To think you cared

This is what I’d say to you

And then the rest of the song is what he would have said…if she cared. At that point, it’s pretty clear that Kathy does care about Don. A lot. But he’s not yet willing to be completely vulnerable and tell her right out how he feels, without relying on a stage or an ‘if only’ song.

“Singin’ in the Rain”

Having bonded over the terrible preview for The Dueling Cavalier, Don and Kathy are truly falling in love. Don walks home in the rain after Kathy bids him goodnight, and he bursts into the spontaneous song we all know and love. By now, Don is becoming more comfortable with admitting that he’s falling in love.

The sun’s in my heart

And I’m ready for love

However, the important thing to note is that Kathy isn’t there to hear his (near) declaration of love. Yes, Don is opening up…but only to himself. (So far.)

“Would You”

Once Cosmo’s idea of dubbing Lina Lamont’s screechy voice is implemented, Don and Kathy spend lots of time together in the recording studio, working on their lines. By this point in the film, they’re in love with each other and know it. But they’re keeping the relationship a secret until after The Dancing Cavalier is released. (It’s kept a secret because Lina isn’t supposed to know that Kathy is on set, much less dubbing her voice.)

In one scene, Kathy dubs over a particularly poignant line while Don watches.

“Our love will last ’til the stars turn cold.”

This line, as spoken by Kathy, moves Don so much that he declares they shouldn’t wait any longer to reveal their secret relationship. He’s ready to move forward with Kathy and let the chips fall where they may. But then Lina bursts in, furious and threatening to blackmail the entire studio…

“You Are My Lucky Star”

Lina’s machinations are finally uncovered in front of everyone. Kathy runs down the aisle, eager to escape the stares and murmurs of the audience. But Don steps in and, uncaring of the hundreds of people watching, begins singing a song meant for Kathy and Kathy alone. A song in which he shares with Kathy just how much she means to him.

You’ve opened heaven’s portal

Here on earth for this poor mortal

Kathy responds in kind. And the film ends with Don and Kathy kissing, fully in love and completely open about that love. It’s a wonderful character arc for both of them, particularly Don (which makes sense, as he’s the main character).

Have you watching Singin’ in the Rain? What’s your favorite song in it? Did you ever have a crush on Gene Kelly? Do let me know in the comments!


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!


Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑