Wednesday Words ~ Spotlight on “Sunscreen”

Hello dear Readers and happy hump day!

We’re already at the middle of the week… Can you believe it?  I’m extremely grateful for the fact that this week seems to be flying by because there is just too much excitement in my life at the moment to sit at work all day!  I’m getting restless, to say the least.

Welcome to my first ever Wednesday Words post.  I’m not going to lie to you all and pretend that this sort of post is going to become a weekly thing here on the blog, because Lord knows that I find it hard to do weekly updates, what with being torn between reading and writing reviews for the 2.5 million books I have in my room.  Having said that, I was thinking that whenever I have a particular passage or quote or song lyric I’d like to share, I’m going to try to do it on a Wednesday (what can I say, I’m a fan of alliteration!) and go into greater depth analyzing the quote in detail.  So, look out for more Wednesday Words posts in the future (if not consistently)!

Today’s spotlight is on a song that I recently stumbled upon in this great Spotify playlist called “Your Favorite Coffeehouse”.  I’m new to Spotify – I have an iPod which I update regularly, so I never felt the need to use the Spotify app – and I am loving it!  Although my iPod is great for listening to music at the gym or on the subway, it doesn’t allow me to discover new music or artists, and I find it hard to listen to music for too long with headphones, so I wanted a means of listening to music out loud from my work computer.  Spotify allows me the perfect opportunity to do that, and I’ve already found a bunch of new songs that I am really fond of and would’ve never heard otherwise.  It also has some great playlist collections, like the Coffeehouse one which is absolutely brilliant, and I was able to save entire albums from artists I adore, like HAIM (Something To Tell You is THE album of the year, in my opinion) and Bruce Springsteen.  I swear, there is nothing Spotify doesn’t have and I love having all this music at my fingertips!

One of those amazing and new (to me) songs is called “Sunscreen” by Ira Wolf.  I have to admit, I know nothing about Ira Wolf.  Although I saved a bunch of her other songs on my Spotify account, I haven’t gotten around to listening to them just yet…because I have been listening to “Sunscreen” on repeat ever since I first heard it.  Honestly, I made a playlist called “On repeat…” with just this one song so that I can listen to it over and over, uninterrupted.  It is just the loveliest little song – so romantic and simple and easy to listen to that I can’t stop.  I latched onto the lyrics as soon as I heard them because they so eloquently and creatively emphasize the routine, mundane and simplistic aspects of love.  Love is about being accepted, of course, but also about having that companion who may be flawed but perfectly complements you in every way.  Love is about having someone with you for the everyday moments, for the little events and occurrences that no one else can possibly fathom or appreciate.  I think Ira Wolf hits the nail on the head with her lyrics about wanting someone to be there every single day, to support and guide her, and to put in that effort to be a true friend and lover.  The lyrics speak for themselves, so I am going to include them here and highlight the portions that touched me most profoundly.

“Sunscreen” is a beautiful song, a work of poetry put to music, and I sincerely encourage you all to have a listen!

Enjoy your Wednesday and look out for more song recommendations coming soon!

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

*Note: This post was in no way sponsored by Spotify…trust me, I’m not enough of a music aficionado to have Spotify pay me any particular attention – haha!

Advertisements

What’s The Buzz? The Most Underrated Books (…in my opinion!)

Recently, I was on Goodreads, about to add a fellow reader with similar bookish interests to mine as a friend when I was bombarded by his Friend Request Question. I think these questions are a lot of fun (I set one for my profile too) because it gives you a chance to immediately get to know the person you’re becoming friends with, and gain some insight into their reading habits and preferences. I also enjoy answering these questions because they get me thinking about my own love of books and different genres that I’ve encountered.

This particular Goodreads user’s question was very challenging, though! It asked:

What underrated book would you recommend?

For the life of me, I could not think of an underrated book to recommend, which struck me as really peculiar! I don’t think my reading preferences are all that cliché or common, and while I definitely enjoy checking out buzzworthy books, I also like to pick up novels that are more obscure and not as mainstream. Nothing came to mind when I was faced with this question, however, and so I decided to dig into my Favourites Shelf to garner some ideas…and in so doing, I discovered a bunch of underrated or unappreciated (in my opinion!) novels that I thought I should be listing and recommending here on my blog as well. I was reminded of a bunch of stories I read that I haven’t seen many other people picking up, and it struck me as a darn shame! So, with that said, here is my list of a few underrated or less popular books that I ADORED and recommend to anyone who’s looking for something new and unexpectedly awesome to read…

Poignant and Timely Non-Fiction

I don’t read a lot of non-fiction, to be perfectly honest, but one book that totally blew me away was Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. This could have a lot to do with the fact that my fiancé was born in Iran, but I think it has more to do with Nafisi’s very unique approach to non-fiction: she describes her struggles, and those of many women living in Iran, through the lens of various literary works she secretly read during her time living in the Middle East. It was absolutely fascinating to rediscover novels I had read and enjoyed through the eyes of a woman living in a much less liberal and open-minded society, and I learned a great deal about Persian culture and the troubled Iranian government through the guise of literature.

Acclaimed Theatre

There is no play out there that has touched me as much as Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. Yes, I know this play is extremely popular and critically acclaimed, but I would say that it is underrated because I just don’t know of many readers who rush to pick up theatre. I have never been more moved by a story than I was by Angels in America though, and it touches on such a variety of topics like religion and sexuality and politics, that there is truly something in it for everyone! There are so many great lessons to be learned from this text and I am convinced that anyone who picks it up and delves into it becomes a better person for it!

Perfectly Paced Short Stories

There’s no doubt that Alice Munro is the ultimate short story writer, and she is undoubtedly my favourite. However, I am equally a fan of fellow Canadian short story writer Mavis Gallant, and her collections Montreal Stories and Varieties of Exile are forever favourites of mine. Gallant’s style is very similar to Munro’s in that she focuses on the ordinary and mundane, but highlights the extraordinary and interesting about it. She takes the most everyday activities and characters, such as a woman commuting to work on the subway, and infuses them with a special quality that immediately connects the reader to them. Plus, her use of language is gorgeous and very similar to Munro’s, so if you are a fan of Alice Munro, I guarantee you will love Gallant’s short fiction as well.

Poetry from the Distant Past

Poetry is probably the literary genre I have the least amount of experience with, and most of my reading of poetry has been for literature courses rather than for pleasure. Having said that, I have encountered some truly EPIC poems in my day (I’m think of a certain Paradise Lost, as an example) and one of my favourite, lesser appreciated long poems is Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. This is the quintessential medieval tale, with references to King Arthur and his valiant Knights of the Round Table, and although I had to study it for a class, I absolutely fell in love with the tale and with the adventure and, of course, with chivalrous Sir Gawain. This is definitely a fun one and it is so easy to get swept up into the tale!

Tear-Inducing Children’s Lit.

Why not throw a picture book on this list? Love You Forever by Robert Munsch is a story I grew up having read to me and is probably the first book I ever encountered in my life. It is touching and moving and lovely, and I swear, everyone needs to read it to their kids. It’s a classic, in my opinion!

Hard-Hitting Young Adult Lit.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, EVERYONE should read Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. It treats the same subject matter as Thirteen Reasons Why, but, to me, is a far superior novel. It is deep and engrossing, and the main character Sam Kingston is easily relatable but also hopelessly flawed. I can’t say enough good things about this novel, and the film adaptation (starring Zoey Deutch) is equally good! If you only pick up one book from this list, make it this one!

Heartbreaking Romance

If I say too much about The First Last Kiss by Ali Harris, I will cry. It is a tearjerker in every sense of the word, but it is also a uniquely structured and stylized romance. The way it is written makes it truly stand out (by focusing on telling the stories of different first kisses between the two main characters), and I have it on my list of favourite novels of all time…considering that I’m a big rom-com reader, this should tell you something, since it clearly stands out!

Midnight Mystery

Although The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins is technically a Victorian novel, it is the ultimate mystery that I think rivals stories told my Agatha Christie and more contemporary mystery writers. It is a story that instantly draws the reader in, with its family politics, deceptions and unreliable narrators, and there are so many different narratives that it never gets boring. The reader is swept up in a mystery that is genuinely difficult to solve, what with all the competing theories swirling around between the many characters, and it is a truly fun and suspenseful ride. I adore this novel and I’ve read it several times…knowing the end result doesn’t even phase me because the ride is the best part!

Haunting Historical Fiction

I’m going to label The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson a historical fiction novel, although it also contains fantastical elements and is a contemporary novel, so really it fits into three categories. Whatever genre it is, it is without doubt one of the best novels I have EVER read, and this is all down to the remarkable narrator. He’s so flawed, complex and complicated, at once detestable and so loveable, and I was so moved by this novel that it has left a permanent mark on my heart. It’s an emotional and troubling story, but it is so worth the read because it will truly blow you away! HIGHLY recommend this one!

Crazy Classic

Jude the Obscure is one messed up novel…but what else do you expect from an author like Thomas Hardy? I have a lot of favourite Victorian novels, and there are other novels by Hardy that I prefer, but Jude the Obscure is totally underrated in that barely anyone reads it, as far as I know. Readers are more inclined to pick up Tess of the D’Ubervilles (and with good reason, of course), but they forget about Jude entirely even though it seems to be Hardy’s darkest novel. Honestly, I can’t even explain some of the crazy stuff that happens in this book, but it is just so dark and gothic and really worth picking up if you’re into classics.

And finally…

Oh Canada!

Being the extremely proud Canadian I am, I had to include an underrated Canadian novel on this list, and I chose The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. Montgomery is best known for Anne of Green Gables, and I have huge respect for that story, but in my opinion, The Blue Castle is just better. It is more adult and sophisticated, and it also features this indomitable and fierce female character, Valancy Stirling (what a great name, eh?), who I instantly fell in love with! She actually became a role model for me and I admit that I think about her often when I’m in social or professional situations that require me to have a bit more backbone than usual. I don’t think many readers know about this novel and that is a serious shame because it is at once hilarious and profound and entertaining. And, talk about girl power, because Valancy knows how to hold her own, no matter who she is up against…I LOVE IT!

Let me know in the comments below if you plan to pick up one of these underrated novels…or if you already have, let me know what you thought and if you too would recommend it!

xox

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

Acton – A Study of the Bells, Part III

Acton Bell

In today’s final blog post in the string of entries about the poetry of the Brontë sisters, I’ll investigate the works of youngest sibling Acton Bell (aka Anne Brontë). My reading of the first text ever published by the Brontë sisters, Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell, has significantly informed my understanding of and appreciation for their other texts. It is obvious that each sister had her own distinct authorial voice and style, and this is no more evident than in Anne’s poems. Anne’s poems are a bit more juvenile, a tad childish, and the overall subject matter is lighter and simpler. Although her articulation of emotions and scenes is lovely, at times the best word I could use to describe her poems was cute. She is clearly the youngest sibling, and it seems like her skills were just developing at this time; she was growing as a writer and she was working on channeling a bit more edge in her voice, which does eventually come through in her final novel The Tennant of Wildfell Hall.

Home = all three of the Brontë sisters were very attached to their home, and AB reflects on this while a governess (very autobiographical).

Music on Christmas Morning = from the title, AB’s subject seems lighter, simpler and more childish; in truth, the poem deals with melancholy and sadness in an otherwise joyful season.

= AB uses capitalization A LOT = her emphasis seems heavy-handed and obvious.

= AB’s poems are sweet, but they are not as poignant or memorable as her sisters’.

To Cowper = for a poet; AB’s subjects are more obvious, less veiled and metaphorical.

The Doubter’s Prayer = closer to EB’s reflections on religion.

The Elect = more intellectual, controversial, and highly critical of religious ideologies.

Lines Composed In a Wood on a Windy Day = only word I can think of to describe this is CUTE. Same sentiment for The Captive Dove.

Views of Life = “Or not enjoy a smiling sky, / because a tempest may be near?”

Appeal = short but so sad!

My Favourite Poem of AB’s Collection

A Reminiscence = very telling given AB’s biography and her possible affection for former curate at the Brontë Parsonage, William Weightman.

= very sweet and romantic.

= a more optimistic take on death than in any of EB’s poems.

It is interesting that I’ve quoted less actual lines from Anne’s poetry than from both Charlotte and Emily’s poems. It seems that her poetry left a less profound impact on me while reading, and the lines were less profound, unique and memorable. However, her sentiments were lovely all the same, if less sophisticated and lofty!

To give some final thoughts on the works of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell, it is somewhat baffling to me that any readers of their texts during the Victorian era believed them to be men. I find their words to sound distinctly feminine, with perhaps the exception of Emily who occasionally slips into a masculine mood. Maybe this is my modern perspective coming through in my reading, but the poems are full of such grace and are so heavily focused on love and affection for men. They are captivating and quite haunting, and I would recommend that any true lover of the Brontës read this original published text, as it gives remarkable insight into the real lives and preoccupations of such formidable and famous women!

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

Ellis – A Study of the Bells, Part II

Ellis Bell

If you’ve been keeping up here on the blog, you’ll know that I recently delved into one of the only works by the Brontë sisters I had yet to read, Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell, their first formally published work. I recently reviewed the works included in this tome by eldest sibling Currer Bell (aka Charlotte Brontë, my truest literary inspiration), and now it’s time to move onto my perceptions of the poems written by reclusive, isolated and melancholy sister Emily. Although I have read Wuthering Heights twice, it has never been one of my favourite Victorian novels; I find it too harsh, jumbled and fragmentary. However, I thoroughly enjoyed Emily’s poems (perhaps I prefer her writing style in smaller doses?) and I found them to be very eloquent and sophisticated in terms of structure, style, rhyme and technique. Although the subject matter and emotion was less impactful and memorable to me than Charlotte’s poems, I do believe that Emily took more risks with her writing. Her voice is also the most distinctly masculine; she earns the name of Ellis Bell.

Faith and Despondency = so eloquently written with excellent pacing!

Stars = EB’s poems seem much more metaphorical and less straightforward.

Remembrance = much darker than CB’s poems.

“Have I forgot, my only Love, to love thee, /

Severed at last by Time’s all-severing wave?”

= almost uses a masculine voice/tone.

Song = a male voice; EB MASTERS this!

Anticipation = EB takes more risks with rhyming styles and structure.

Hope = so very pessimistic, depressed, morose.

A Day Dream = EB’s speaker cannot enjoy a moment.

To Imagination = EB prefers to live in inner world (introspective), rather than real-life.

“Sure solacer of human cares,

And sweeter hope, when hope despairs!”

How Clear She Shines = impossibly sad!

“And Joy the surest path to Pain; /

And Peace, the lethargy of Grief; /

And Hope, a phantom of the soul”

Death = funny enough, she is optimistic in this morosely named poem.

“little mourned I for the parted gladness, /

…Hope was there, and laughed me out of sadness.”

= and then she becomes sad again…

“No! the morning sunshine mocks my anguish /

Time, for me, must never blossom more!”

= EB cannot stay away from dark topics for long!

My Favourite Poems of EB’s Collection

A Death-Scene = in a woman’s voice; almost anti-heaven and sacrilegious.

“Believe not what they urge /

Of Eden isles beyond; /

Turn back, from that tempestuous surge /

To thy own native land.”

The Prisoner = a truly haunting character! EB chooses more risky subject matter!

Ellis Bell’s poems are terrifying and pessimistic. They don’t give the reader any sense of hope, joy or optimism. However, they are poignant and profound for their often painful but always honest depiction of depression, isolation and solitude. I would definitely recommend them to lovers of the dark, sinister and complex world of Wuthering Heights.

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

Currer – A Study of the Bells, Part I

Currer Bell

There are very few literary works by Charlotte Brontë that I haven’t read. I’ve read all of her famous novels (Fun Fact: Other than Jane Eyre, the ultimate Victorian romance, Shirley is my favourite, which is a rather unpopular opinion among Victorianists!), and I’ve also read several biographies of her life. Having said that, it is a wonder to me that I hadn’t gotten around to reading her poetry until this week. I’ve been immersed in Claire Harman’s new biography Charlotte Brontë: A Fiery Heart, and all the quotes from Charlotte’s poems as well as the discussion of how she went about getting her first collection of poetry (along with her sisters’ poems) published was fascinating to me, and made me feel that I absolutely had to read this first text published by the Brontë sisters. So, I got my hands on a copy of Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell (aka Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë) and I started reading, planning to finish the poetry of one sister each day. I did just that, I have now completed the entire tome. As a result, I’ve decided to review each of the sisters’ poems separately and document my exact thoughts on some of the poems I enjoyed the most and that spoke to me most profoundly. I’ve also documented lines and passages that I found particularly moving. Today, I’ll begin my study of the poetry of the Bells with an analysis of the works of Currer, the eldest sibling.

Charlotte Brontë is basically my god, my inspiration, my daily encouragement and idol. I’m obsessed with her novels, as I stated above, but I’ve also always enjoyed whatever poems are included in her novels, such as “Rochester’s Song for Jane Eyre” and the lovely poem featured in her first completed novel The Professor. It’s no wonder, then, that I thoroughly enjoyed the poems she published as Currer Bell, all of which tell a distinct story and speak profoundly about love and human relationships. Here are the highlights of what I thought about many of Currer’s poems:

Pilate’s Wife’s Dream = impressive to behold, in terms of sheer length.

Mementos = such a distinct and clear voice; I really felt the description of the woman and the child profoundly.

“The bookshelves were her darling treasure /

She rarely seemed the time to measure /

While she could read alone.”

The Wife’s Will = “For oh! most truly – I love thee!”

Life = more upbeat and positive.

“Oft a little morning rain /

Foretells a pleasant day.”

The Letter = so simple but lovely and sad; possibly reflective of CB’s letter writing process.

Presentiment = conversation between CB and her sister Emily (as character Jane, which was her middle name)? Does CB wish to die?

Passion = “Could I gain thy love to-night / I’d hazard death to-morrow.”

Stanzas = just as moving and melancholy as Presentiment and Passion.

“My love is almost anguish now, /

It beats so strong and true.”

Apostasy = reminiscent of CB’s own confession at the Catholic Church in Brussels…perhaps autobiographical?

“Priest – MUST I cease to think of him?”

The Missionary = the model for St. John Rivers of Jane Eyre?

My Favourite Poems of CB’s Collection

Frances = heartbreaking, especially if you know CB’s biography and details about her unrequited love for Monsieur Constantin Héger. “Mementos, on the chamber wall” (= connection to poem of this name? both poems intended for one specific reader/Héger?)

“She will not sleep, for fear of dreams”

“Stamped deep on vision, heart and brain”

~Hope for rekindled love…BUT then CB chastises herself.

“Love may restore him yet to me /

False thought – false hope – in scorn be banished! /

I am not loved – nor loved have been.”

Gilbert = woman helpless and weak in love. Is this how CB felt? As if she lost her dignity?

“And truly it was sweet /

To see so fair a woman kneel, /

In bondage, at my feet.”

= the man is heartless, egotistical and mean. “a selfish heart” The poem is critical of how men treat and use women. GOTHIC!

“No kindness in his tone…

Speaks coldly there alone.”

= the man should therefore be haunted and punished (an investigation of his guilty psychology).

“His features well his heart can mask, /

With smiles and smoothness bland.”

= Vengeance! Revenge! Gilbert commits suicide and CB gets her sinister revenge and makes the man suffer.

These notes may seem a bit scattered, but they give an adequate picture of my experience while reading Currer Bell’s poetry. As with any of Charlotte Brontë’s works, so many emotions are at play, all at once, and Charlotte is not shy about speaking up and expressing her emotions and sentiments without veil or reluctance. In reading Charlotte’s poems while immersed in her biography, it is clear just how acutely she suffered in love, but also just how big and expressive her gorgeous and wonderful heart was.

I would recommend Currer Bell’s poems to any reader who adored the heart-wrenching quality of Jane Eyre and Villette.

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

And Write…

‘Fool,’ said my Muse to me, ‘look in thy heart and write’.

– “Astrophil and Stella”, Sir Philip Sidney

Welcome to 2016 here at The World of my Green Heart!

To ring in the New Year and get myself amped up and excited for all the blog posts I intend to write in 2016, I decided that today I’d feature one of my favourite Christmas gifts that I received over the holidays.

What is a reader without her (or his) hardware?  Previously on the blog, I wrote about purchasing a new (third) pair of glasses – a momentous occasion for me because I feel that my specks are an integral part of my identity as an avid reader – after all, if it wasn’t for all the reading I’ve done throughout my life in dimly lit libraries, my eyesight would probably be much better.  I was truly excited to pick out a pair of unique, eccentric and bold frames, and I’ve gotten many compliments on them since.  And every time I do, as well as any time I wear one of my multiples pairs of glasses, I feel like I am proclaiming to the world, Look at me – I’m wearing glasses because I need them to see some special words on a very special page of an even more special novel that I am currently immersed in!  To me, being a reader is equally about those awesome accessories you get to wear – just like being a music lover might be about purchasing the latest iPod or sporting some gorgeous and stylish headphones, and being a hardcore runner might be about donning some colourful sneakers.  I’m a reader, and I was a reader before I was most other things in my life, so I like the world to have an idea about that when they look at me!

Now, in the same vein, I’d like to pose the question: What is a writer without her (or his) hardware?  Yes, yes, I’m typing this post up on my Macbook right now, and I love all the latest gadgets, especially the fact that my lovely gold iPhone 6 lets me type notes that will instantly appear on my laptop.  The way of the writer’s future is pretty marvelous!  But, I’m also seriously old school…like to the point where I never once brought my laptop with me to any of my university classes.  I preferred to write my lecture notes out by hand…yes, that’s right, with an actual pen and piece of paper.  A lot of people think this is absolutely nuts.  They’d often ask me how I could keep up with the professor’s speaking (trust me, it takes practice), or how I could prevent my hand from getting cramped or tired (I didn’t – I just persevered).  My answers to these questions were never adequate because they could never convey just how happy I felt at the end of a three hour class, looking at my colourful, highlighted, handwritten notes.  It just felt so nice to have a notebook full of my own scribbling and shorthand at the end of a semester, and I still have many of these notebooks (you never know when you might need to look back at some lecture notes when writing a blog post, am I right?).

So, to me, one of the most important things that I can possess is a good, high quality, fully functioning, totally reliable black pen.  I used to write with only blue pen for awhile, mainly when I was in high school, but as I moved into my university years, I started to prefer black ink because it seemed a bit more professional, less flashy and easier to read.  Since then, I’ve stuck to strictly black pen, and I’ve been incredibly fortunate that any time someone has gifted me with a pen, it’s just happened to be a black one.  Writer’s win!

And this Christmas, I received some awesome pens (people know me well enough by now to purchase them for me on every occasion) – but one pen stood out to me in particular.  My darling boyfriend SS bought me an absolutely gorgeous (black!) pen from Swarovski.  It is decorated with rose gold crystals – and since rose gold is unquestionably my favourite, it suits me perfectly!  I love it, and with it I intend to write lengthy blog posts, creative stories, anything and everything my green heart desires!

My powerful pen.

My powerful pen.

Stay tuned for what my pen will produce this year!

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart (and a Pink Pen)

my green heart

 

Lady Janille and the Green Knight

Hello again Everyone!

I’m back! I’ve returned home (only a 50 minute train ride, but never mind that) from my Toronto staycation and…I’m just as depressed and upset as I expected to be. I had the best 4 days in the city with my boyfriend and it was so amazing to be able to explore and go to many different sites without having to worry about trekking all the way back to the suburbs. I’m more than a little nervous about returning to work tomorrow and getting back to reality, but I’m already daydreaming about trips my boyfriend and I can take in the future!

Although I hadn’t intended to write a post today because I didn’t post any #JNGReads/#JNGListens quotes this past week, something happened during my staycation that was too much of a coincidence not to feature on the blog. My boyfriend and I decided to go to Medieval Times on Friday night. SS is a HUGE fan of the show Game of Thrones, and when I found that out on our first date, I agreed to marathon the show with him over our Reading Week last year since I had never even seen an episode. When SS’s birthday rolled around, after only just over a month of us dating, I had to come up with an appropriate present idea and I immediately thought of getting him something Game of Thrones related. That’s when Medieval Times came to mind, and I thought it would be cute to get him a gift certificate so that the two of us could pick a date and go watch the show together.

Cut to a year later and we still hadn’t used the gift certificate. Last summer was super busy and we did various little day trips, but we never found a time to go to Medieval Times. It’s also a bit out of the city (by Exhibition station, which is quite a distance from Union and the heart of downtown), so when we planned our staycation, we thought it would be the most perfect time to go as we wouldn’t have to travel to our separate homes after and would only need to make it back to our hotel. So we chose Friday, the last night of our staycation, and we went to the 7:30pm show.

I had no idea what to expect because I had never been before, and neither had SS. I thought maybe it would be more geared toward children, and it was definitely family friendly…but it was also so well done and extremely exciting! Everyone who worked there was so committed to their roles and to making the whole thing an unforgettable, unique experience, and the jousting and fighting was actually quite realistic and really fun to watch! SS and I absolutely loved it…and we really got into every aspect of the tournament! I should also say that the food was INCREDIBLE! It was awesome to eat without utensils, and the chicken, potatoes and corn were ridiculously delicious! I wasn’t expecting the meal itself to be so good, and I was pleasantly surprised! And, at the end of the whole night, SS and I ventured into the dungeon to take a look at the museum of torture they have there – needless to say, this attraction was geared more toward adults, but it was really interesting and informative.

And the best part of the whole experience and the reason why I had to feature it on my blog today? Well, as some of you may know, when you enter the castle at the beginning of the show, the employees randomly select a knight for you to cheer for. As soon as we walked in, I declared that I wanted to be on the Green Knight’s team. Obviously I figured it would be incredibly poetic, what with the theme of my blog and all, but I’ve also been a huge fan of the medieval poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight since I first read it in my British Literature class in second year university. I even wrote an essay on the poem, and it was the first English essay I wrote in university where I felt that I truly developed my academic and critical voice. So, I wanted to cheer for the Green Knight and wear a green crown, but SS and I didn’t have a choice in the matter, so I didn’t know how likely it would be.

But guess what! As we approached the “wench” (she called herself that) in charge of the seating arrangements, she handed us a GREEN card and said we would be cheering for the Green Knight! It felt like Fate! I was so excited and I didn’t take my green crown off for the whole night. I also made sure to get some pictures of the Green Knight in action…and a picture with him after the tournament was over!

Medieval Times #3

Medieval Times #4

Lady Janille and the Green Knight

Lady Janille and the Green Knight

All in all, I would definitely recommend Medieval Times as a super enjoyable, creative way to spend an evening. It’s perfect for kids of all ages, but I also think it makes a great date idea and it’s much more entertaining than any movie you could go and see. It’s right up there for me with some of the theatre performances I’ve seen, and it’s certainly a delightful atmosphere to be in!

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

PS – SS is actively considering applying to be part of Medieval Times – and I think he would look pretty good in those tights, if I do say so myself, so I’m going to encourage his ambitions! 😉

Medieval Times with SS

Kubla Confused

Some things never change apparently.

I’ve recently (as in, last night) finished watching the new Netflix original series Marco Polo.  Now, let me start by saying that if you are my boyfriend (SS) STOP READING THIS POST IMMEDIATELY!!! Do you hear me???  STOP READING NOW!!!  As lovely and supportive as you are, this is one blog post you don’t need to read.  K, thanks!

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I have to admit that I didn’t love the show.  This admission would probably break my poor boyfriend’s heart since I’m pretty sure that he’s obsessed with it.  In my defense, I haven’t practiced martial arts for years and years like he has (Sidenote: And he’s a pro…excuse me a moment while I brag about him, but he’s seriously incredible!  I mean, he’s won gold medals in Ontario and everything…so yeah, my boyfriend is definitely badass!), and I don’t really know anything about history, so I found it difficult to follow the story.  But, I did really find the fighting scenes beautiful and artistically done, and I have actually asked SS to teach me some martial arts because I would love to be able to move my body like that…and because it never hurts to become a bit more badass!  The fight scenes aside, though, I wasn’t really grabbed by the show and I found it very difficult to keep track of the characters and different plot points.

But obviously I’m not going to tell SS that because I get how important it is to him.  (Sidenote: TV is very important to both of us and is a fundamental aspect of our relationship – we spent our entire first date talking about our favourite shows, which all happened to be the same!)  So, I decided that I would persevere and I made it to the end of the show…and in the process, I remembered a piece of literature I had studied in my undergrad that dealt with the same subject matter: Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “Kubla Khan”.  I immediately decided to share it with SS because I thought it would be a good bonding tool for us!  (Not that we need any, but since he’s been mentioning lately how I never did get around to finishing Watchmen…oopsie…I thought it wouldn’t hurt to show a little extra interest in Marco Polo!)  This morning, I found a copy of the poem online and I sent it to him…

…but not before re-reading it and thinking that it was completely incomprehensible!  I found it difficult to understand in first year too, but I had hoped two successfully completed literature degrees would give me the knowledge to decipher it this time around.  No dice.  I’m still just as lost as ever.  The TA who gave the poem to me in first year was my absolute inspiration during my undergrad degree – I wanted to become her and I desperately wanted to say something significant about her favourite poem as a result.  Now, I want to impress my darn boyfriend and I still can’t say a single thing about it!  Okay, I’ve never been a poetry expert, but I swear I can’t even dissect a measly line of the text.  It’s so frustrating!  The poem is more difficult to understand than the TV show!

So, exactly zero boyfriends were impressed today by my fine poetry analyzing skills.  I blame Coleridge for this…and Wordsworth too, for good measure!

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

Thoughts on a Master’s Contemplations

I’ve recently (finally) started a full-time position at a company I am very proud and excited to work for. Fortunately for me, the lover of all things French, my position involves quite a bit of contact with the French language…so I determined that it was time for my first ever French literary review. I had been reading Victor Hugo’s collection of poetry “Les Contemplations” for a rather long time, and after I finished it at the beginning of this week, I knew that I had to write a detailed post about it! For my francophone friends, enjoy! To my English speaking friends…à bientôt !

Je n’aime guère les collections de la poésie parce que je préfère les textes longs et les histoires complexes avec une quantité énorme des personnages et les intrigues vastes. Néanmoins, je trouve que j’adore les poèmes français qui me donnent l’occasion d’interagir avec la structure de ma langue favorite. J’ai étudié la linguistique française depuis la première année de mes études universitaire, et je me trouvais tellement fascinée par les aspects phonologiques et morphologiques de la langue. Je ne serai jamais contente avec ma capacité de parler français à cause de mon accent et de ma prononciation assez anglaise, mais j’adore les sons doux et beaux de cette langue romane et j’aimerais écouter aux chansons et aux émissions françaises pendant mes temps libres. Je trouve que la lecture de la poésie française s’aligne aux mêmes préoccupations et, quand je me plonge dans les structures syntactiques de la poésie française, je m’occupe des mots du vocabulaire riche et littéraire, des rimes et des rythmes sonores et musicaux, et des descriptions émotives qui me rendent passionnée.

Avec ce texte particulier, on se trouve au cœur d’un écrivain important et influent ; on se trouve au milieu de sa psychologie interne et personnelle, et cet endroit macabre s’interroge aux images grotesques et tristes, et aux thèmes de la mort, de l’amour perdu, du désespoir et de la solitude profonde.

Victor Hugo montre ses souffrances, et même s’il parle parfois de ses moments du bonheur forts et intenses, ses circonstances se mélangent aux descriptions de la mélancolie et de la dépression – il semble que les sentiments heureux de l’auteur sont éphémères et qu’il ne peut pas les garder. (Une idée supplémentaire : l’adaptation du roman de Victor Hugo « Notre Dame de Paris » en style d’une comédie musicale avec le chanteur québécois Garou est excellente ! Les chansons sont si belles et on les chantera pendant toute la journée parce que les voix des acteurs et des actrices superbes se répèteront sans cesse au cerveau ! L’interprétation du texte est détaillée et les écrivains ont rendu hommage à une histoire classique de la littérature française.)

Par exemple, le poème « Demain dès l’aube » est un des poèmes les plus difficiles du livre. Ce poème-ci est sans doute mon texte préféré de toute la littérature française. Les phrases sont courtes, les descriptions sont assez claires et précises, et même si on peut identifier les métaphores et les figures du style sophistiqués, on ne pourrait pas oublier le message simple du texte. Hugo perd sa fille, et donc il perd son optimisme, son espoir et son désir de vivre comme partie du monde humain. Il ne veut que rester avec sa fille, avec l’enfant qui lui donnait l’amour pur, et on voyage avec l’auteur triste, avec le père qui éprouve la grève immense, au cimetière de son imagination. C’est un voyage qui ne prend ni beaucoup de temps (pour le lecteur) ni beaucoup d’espace physique sur la page du livre, mais ce voyage laisse le lecteur sans choix, sans occasion d’échapper ou de se sauver – on suit l’auteur à l’abîme de sa tristesse.

Par conséquent, j’adore la poésie de Victor Hugo parce que j’éprouve les sentiments profonds – je me sens froide (au sens métaphorique), j’ai peur de la mort, du caractère cyclique de la vie humaine, et je m’aligne fortement sur un homme français stoïque et contemplatif du XIXe siècle.

Le Thème Favori de Monsieur Hugo:

« Ô mort ! heure splendide ! ô rayons mortuaires ! / Avez-vous quelquefois soulevé des suaires ? »

« Ils parlent à la solitude, / Et la solitude comprend… »

« Je suis seul, car je suis le penseur… »

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart