Thursday, May 31, 2012

Places I go {Rome, Italy}

I can't believe I have been blogging for five months and this is my first travel post! I love to travel. I am that girl who would rather take a road trip across country then fly, or the girl who loves 14 hour plane rides because I know an adventure awaits! I don't know what I would do if I didn't have some sort of trip to look forward to. 

If you haven't noticed, my blog gets a lot of inspiration from Tolkien and Lord of the Rings (nerd alert). And, I have said that, hobbits and I have a special little connection. The only barrier I face is hobbits don't like to leave their holes - that is unless they have a little bit of "Took" blood in them, which is a clan of hobbits. The hobbits who do have "Took" in them, Bilbo and Frodo, are drawn to adventure. So, with that being said, I must have a little bit of "Took" blood in me (now I do realize these are fictional characters, and that I am slightly crazy)! In the real world, however, I do have "Cook" blood in me, so that counts right? One more crazy LOTR mention before I move on: my blog's tagline is also from LOTR, but it has become a life motto of sorts. 

{Not all those who wander are lost}

So now to Rome!

Italy is one of the most recent countries I have been blessed to visit. I have traveled with the same group of people the past few times I have been overseas. This particular trip, we went to Italy, Vatican City, and Greece. And yes, Vatican City is considered its own country, so you better believe I count it as one!

So here is a look at my trip! I won't document every little detail, but I will hit the high points! Get ready for picture overload!

Beautiful Vatican City:

The Vatican is actually located within Rome, and the entire city is walled off. I believe it like 1 mile by 1 mile, or something like that :) It isn't very big though! The population is around 800, so it is the smallest country in the world! 

St. Peter's Basilica! 
The Pieta by Michelangelo
The dome of St. Peter's Basilica! 
The Spanish Steps:

This was one of my favorite moments of the trip. We went to a little coffee house, Cafe Greco. It is the oldest coffee house in the city, and authors such as Mark Twain frequented it often. The coffee house still contains the original furniture that is over 200 years old - how cool! After drinking our Italian cappuccino, we walked about a block further and ran smack dab into the Spanish Steps! The steps themselves lead to a church, but the significance of this area is that it became known as the English Ghetto. This is because, people who developed TB because of the wet climate in England would travel to Italy for drier climate, and they would live in this area. My favorite Romantic poet, John Keats, was one of these people. He lived in a little apartment to the right of these steps. You can see the windows to the apartment in this pic. He actually ended up dying here. His life was a tragic, yet romantic, journey. If you are interested in British or Romantic poets you need to read him (sorry English Major moment). But anyways, we got to tour his room/museum as well!

The Spanish Steps
The Trevi Fountain:

The Trevi is one of the most famous fountains in the world. The legend says that if you toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain you are ensured a return trip to Rome! You better believe I threw some coins in that thing :)

The Pantheon:

The Pantheon is most famous for the big hole in it's celling! It was built in 126 AD as a temple to all the gods of Rome. It's circular shape and granite columns are still a marvel to look at. 

The Piazza Novona: 

Strolling along the Piazza Novona was not only one of my favorite moments, but I got to stroll along hand-in-hand with my boy! It was so special walking around with him looking at the local art work. Top moment of the trip!

The Church of St. Peter in Chains:

 What is Rome without the gorgeous churches. We were luckily enough to visit a handful of them. St. Peter in Chains is the Catholic church that believes they contain the chains that Peter himself wore. The church is also home of the Statue of Moses by Michelangelo - holy cow! 

Peter's Chains
Statue of Moses by Michelangelo.
The Colosseum:

I'm pretty sure you all know what the Colosseum is, so I don't think I need to go into details. But let me just say, it was one of those moments you don't forget. 
The boy and me inside the Colosseum!
The Roman Forum and Paul's Prison:

The Roman Forum is home to several ancient government buildings, but it most significantly would have functioned as a marketplace in ancient Rome. It is located at the center of Rome. Right next to the Forum, stands Mamertinum Prison - the prison that Paul (yes, from the Bible) wrote Second Timothy in. While we were standing in one of the confinements, we read a passage from Second Timothy. Let's just say, a few tears were shed at the moment. 
Roman Forum
The hole Paul would have been lowered down.

The Catacombs and St. Paul's Outside the Walls:

We got to tour the catacombs outside the Roman city walls. We weren't allowed to take pictures inside - I guess that might have been a little creepy! They were actually pretty cool though. We only looked at a small portion of the catacombs because the tombs stretched for miles under the surface of the ground. A few of us got lost while trying to keep up with the guide... I'm pretty sure we broke a few rules as we tried to find our way back! After the catacombs, we went to St. Paul's Outside the Walls. St. Paul's is another basilica, and the Catholic church believes that the tomb of Paul is located within the church. This was one of the most gorgeous churches I have ever been in, and I've been to a LOT of churches/cathedrals. The upper facade is one large mosaic.

Well this was just a little overview (a little overview equals 18 pictures; I wonder what an entire overview would consist of)! I hope you enjoy this little tour of Rome. I will be doing more posts about my travels in the future. Some of the other places I have traveled consist of: England, France, Greece, Nicaragua, and my U.S. travels!

All photos were taken by me. If you would like to use any of these photos for personal use, please ask me first and link them back to this blog.  

Monday, May 28, 2012

Musical {Guest Post - Sweeney Todd}

Well, I’m not Beccah but this is Monday Musical, or at least my iteration of it. Hi, I’m Arthur Gordon from The Round Table Review. Beccah has been running rampant the last couple of weeks, so she asked if I’d like to fill her shoes for the week.

This week we’ll be looking at Sweeney Todd  the Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Sweeney Todd marks the sixth collaboration between director Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands, Big Fish, Alice in Wonderland) and Johnny Depp (Duh). The two began working together in 1992 with Edward Scissorhands and in the last two decades they have made eight films together. I recently wrote an article over at ranking their first seven collaborations in anticipation of Dark Shadows; you can find that article here.

I chose Sweeney Todd because I don’t think Beccah will ever build up the nerve to watch it. While she may be a fan of musicals, she isn’t a fan of horror/slasher films. With that in mind, let us dive into the movie. The film opens and instantly the tone is set as dark music plays over animated credits involving blood and meat grinders. This wonderfully fades into a shot of a ship pulling into port in London as the cheery first notes of “No Place like London” begin playing. We then meet Anthony (Jamie Bower) who sings the first couple of lines, lines of hope and ambition. Enter Sweeney Todd (Depp) who takes the song down a more melancholy route, pushing us even farther down the dark abyss. We discover that Todd was once a barber by the name of Benjamin Barker who had a beautiful wife Lucy and a baby named Johanna. Barker/Todd was arrested and sent away by Judge Turpin; Turpin also loved Lucy and wanted her for himself. Upon Todd’s re-arrival to London we discover he has been away 15 years.

Upon leaving the ship Button seeks out answers about his former wife and child and in the process runs into Mrs. Lovett (Carter) a widow with a failing meat pie business. As she whispers sweet nothings into Todd’s ear, the want of revenge takes hold Todd and sends him to a point of no return. Todd reopens his barber shop above Lovett’s pie parlor and the two become partners, striking a horrific deal with the devil.

Apparently Burton saw the original musical, written by Steven Sondheim, while in film school in the seventies. It struck him at an early age as a very cinematic piece. For the last few decades Hollywood had been trying to get a film version going and even enlisted Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road) to direct and Russell Crowe star at one point. They eventually dropped out and Burton got the call, probably for the best. Mendes is a talented director, but the content of Sweeney Todd is right up Burton’s alley.

This certainly shows throughout the film. Burton is big on Gothic Horror elements and grey color palettes both which heavily set the stage for this production. Depp was cast in the lead and had never really sung in public before. The only other musical he had been in, Crybaby, contained a lip-synched performance by him. Burton’s long time lover Helena Bonham-Carter was cast as Mrs. Lovett, and Alan Rickman got the role of Judge Turpin. None of these actors are known for their singing ability, and their performances add a raw, stripped, emotional feel to their performances.

The movie contains some beautiful, haunting, and even humorous musical numbers. “No Place Like London”, “Worst Pies in London”, “My Friends”, “Pretty Women”, “Johanna”, and “By the Sea” are just a few of the stand out numbers in Sweeney Todd. In fact “By the Sea” may be some of the best direction in the film, as it slips out of ‘reality’ and adds a fantasy element allowing Burton to play around outside of the darkness of the reality he has created.

Final Decree7.5 out of 10 – Sweeney Todd had a strong showing, winning two Golden Globes (Best Picture –Musical, Best Actor – Depp) and one Oscar (Art Direction), while receiving numerous other nominations. It’s a solid film and great musical for people who may not normally enjoy musicals. The horror, dark comedy, and suspenseful aspects draw in another crowd all together.

Well there you have it folks, thanks for reading and thanks Beccah for letting me take your spot this week. Hopefully you will be good to go next week. For more movie reviews go over and check out my blog The Round Table Review, you can also ‘like’ my page on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, @RndTblReview.


Thank you so much Arthur! Not only is Arthur a personal friend; he is also an up-and-coming movie critic in OKC! So I hope you enjoyed my first guest post - woot woot - so go ahead and comment and show Arthur some love!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hello lovelies! I feel like my life will not slow down! This week I am out of town working for a friend while he is on vaca! I am having a fun little mini getaway myself, but I am not liking limited iternet (yes, I am a product of the 21st-century)!

Where I am staying, I have wifi. But my Mac is being screwy and won't open any webpages. So, needless to say, I am super frustrated at my computer! So, it has taken my a year to be able to post anything for you guys! I guess this is why people have guest posters when they are out of town!

I will keep trying to get you guys some posts, but bear with me if I suck a little this week! But next week, I am going to step it up in the blog world!


Friday, May 18, 2012

Two weeks in Review!

Do you ever feel guilty when life takes over and you can't seem to find time to write a blog! That is what the past two weeks have been for me! And even though I still consider myself a newbie at this whole blog stuff, I have been dying to get back on here and share with you all the exciting things that have been going on. So here is a breakdown of the past two weeks:

May 1st-ish, I started working on my best friends little engagement party gift! Which let me tell you, it took FOREVER! So, don't doubt my investment into this gift :) I made her (with the help of her wonderful momma) a pillow, which had Mr. Darcy's proposal from Pride and Prejudice on it! She is marrying a Brit, and she calls him Mr. Darcy :) There will be a tutorial for this up soon! It took forever, but it was easy smeasy! 

May 3rd-ish, one of my dearest friends took me out to get me pampered before the upcoming weekend. We did dinner and, of course, our fingers and toes! 

May 4th-ish, I graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma! Woot Woot! I officially have a Master's degree in English. And for all who are interested, my focus is in 20th and 21st Century Literature! After 2 1/2 long years, I am finally done! I don't know what my next step is, but all I can think about right now is I don't have to write another 20 page paper any time soon! 

May 5th-ish, I did more in one day then any girl should ever have to do! It started out at my alma mater's graduation. I had some dear friends graduating, so I had to attend. But, I cut out early for my graduation party that my family and friends were holding for me! Then, I had to head to my best friend's engagement party, which I was helping host! And all this in the midst of celebrating Cinco De Mayo! Ok, not really, but I was really craving some Mexican food!

Center pieces at my grad party!
My family!
Mr. Darcy (Greg) and Kaleigh! You can check out
 her post about the engagement party!
May 7th-ish I threw a dinner get-together for a friend who had also graduated! If you are an OKC native, we partied at Teds! Yum :) One of my dear friends made the sweet graduate a camera cake! She did a tutorial for the cake here!

By May 11th-ish, I felt like this! This was also my momma's birthday! 

May 12th-ish, my boy graduated with his Master's degree from Southern Nazarene University. His degree is in theology! I was a very proud gf! I also put together a little grad dinner for him that night! I'm all about hosting some parties! My dear friend, Keisha, mentioned above, also made the awesome lego cake for his party!

May 13th-ish, I celebrated Mother's day with my mom over the phone (we stayed up past midnight giggling about everything under the sun), with the boy's momma (who was visiting from North Carolina), and with my fur-babies (aka doggie Mother's Day).

My fur babies!
May 10th-16th-ish, I helped the boy out with entertaining his parents. The flew in from North Carolina to spend the week and celebrate all the festivities that were going on! We had a blast, but we went all day everyday! We wanted to make sure they went to all of OKC's best restaurants and places, which, of course, includes Pops!

 I know that was a ton of pics and info about my 'oh so exciting' life, but what the hey, it was a fun two weeks! But I will admit, I can't wait to get somewhat back on track with things!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Musical {Chicago}

Well... it has been about 2 years since my last post, so I know you are dying for my most recent Musical!! What have I been doing the past two weeks? I shall tell you in my next post! It has been insane to say the least. But, I am hopefully getting back into the swing of things. So without further ado... 

This week I am going to be talking about Chicago

All Pics via google
I am going to be referencing the 2002 film adaptation directed and choreographed by Rob Marshall. It of course had its stellar cast: Renee Zellweger, Richard Gere, and Catherine Zeta-Jones! In the avenue of musicals, this particular adaptation has received a lot of credit and has been widely viewed. One of those reasons may be that it won "Best Picture" at the 2002 Academy Awards. This was the first musical to win "Best Picture" since Oliver in 1969! So, chances are... a lot of you have seen this one. 

Renee Zellweger as Roxie Hart!
There are a lot of elements in this musical that are appealing to audiences. To start it off, the musical is set in the 1920's. The 1920's still fascinate people over 90 years later. I mean, what girl out there hasn't been a flapper for Halloween? It is such a fun decade and continues to be the setting for many Hollywood blockbusters.

Richard Gere as Billy Flynn and Catherine Zeta-Jones as Velma Kelly.
So our breakdown of the plot is nothing new to our 1920's lovers. It is about two murderesses, Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly. This is the time period when criminals turned into celebrity headlines overnight! We have Roxie Hart who is a housewife who lands herself in jail, and Velma Kelly who is a nightclub sensation who also landed herself in jail. They both find themselves fighting for the spotlight on Chicago's famous Murderess Row. Lucky for them, they also share the same lawyer, Billy Flynn. He is infamous for turning notorious criminals into local stars, which of course is what will keep them from the gallows. The only problem is, Chicago only needs one star!

Velma or Hart?
I of course can't get enough of this musical because of the singing and dancing! Zellweger and Zeta-Jones do a great job carrying the music, but they get a little help from Queen Latifah who does a fantastic job as Matron "Mama" Morton. Some of the smash songs are: "When You're Good to Mama," "Cell Block Tango," "I Can't do it Alone,"Mister Cellophane," and "All that Jazz." There are so many other great songs!

My favorite song from the show is "Cell Block Tango!" This song is so much more than just singing though. The dancing is absolutely incredible. There is also a stinkin' cool tap-dance scene with Richard Gere in the film! I have included the "Cell Block Tango" video for you to check out! 

If you guys haven't checked this film out, please do! You won't be disappointed. It is full of scandal, deceit, and murder! And all portrayed through song and dance - yeah, awesome! 

Until next week musical lovers,