Formidable Courage

Christian, Writer, Farm-girl, Fangirl. The rest, as they say, is history.

A quickie post + request!

I know I NEVER make more than one blogpost a day, but extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures!

My sister Emily has set up a GoFundMe for our brother TJ and sister-in-law Jenni. You can read their whole story here, but the long story made short is that they’ve lost both of their cars in the devastating floods, and we’re trying to raise $5,000 so they can “start from scratch.”

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If you can donate anything to this fund, even the smallest amount, every cent is greatly appreciated.

Thank y’all so much!

“the rain came pouring down…”

I just wanted to assure all my readers: yes, in spite of the horrific flooding in Louisiana, my family and I are all fine. Our house is safe. Light debris, very full ponds, and washed-out gravel in the driveways are the only indications that anything was ever out of the ordinary on our street.

Drive about 20 minutes from our house, though, and only two or three days ago things looked radically different.

 

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The above picture was taken on Saturday by a drone, and shows one of the main highways in Zachary, Louisiana. This is one of the roads we use to get to and from our house. The water’s gone down since then and the road is now open, but all those houses…their owners have a long, hard road to recovery ahead of them.

Friday morning I woke to a surprisingly heavy downpour. While I read my Bible and drank my coffee I could hear the rain pounding on the roof, along with…“wait, is that WIND?!” I actually jumped up from the couch and put my ear to a window, because it sounded more like a hurricane blowing in than a regular old Louisiana thunderstorm.

The rain just didn’t let up. Roads started to flood in Baton Rouge. By noon my mom was texting my dad, who works in Prairieville, just south of Baton Rouge: “Do you think you need to come home early?” He said no; the main highways out of the capital would stay open.

That picture above? That’s just one of those main highways he was talking about. By three o’clock it was obvious he wouldn’t be able to come home. But surely he’d be able to come home for the weekend, right?

Saturday morning it was STILL raining. Denham Springs, a prosperous little town west of Baton Rouge where my brother and his wife had their apartment, started flooding. TJ and Jenni tried to leave to meet up with her family but had to turn around immediately; the water had gotten too high in the streets. By that evening, the water had filled up their apartment complex’s parking lot. By Sunday morning, the water was up to the wheels of their cars.

And no, Daddy still couldn’t get home, either.

TJ, Jenni, and her sister ended up evacuating. They spent most of Sunday sheltering at a gas station before a boat finally picked them up and took them down the flooded interstate, until they got to a point where a truck took them to meet up with Daddy. By then some of the routes to our house were open, and the three of them finally came here in time for a warm supper, showers, and clean beds.

I choked up when Jenni walked into our house and wrapped me in a tight hug. I was so glad to see her safe and sound.

Many have not been so fortunate. Thousands of people, including Jenni’s family, have lost everything. It’s been a very stressful time, whether you’ve been flooded out and you’re trying to make it to high ground, or if you’re on dry ground like my mom, siblings, and I, waiting to hear from your friends and loved ones. And the bad thing is that nobody really expected this. It wasn’t like a hurricane where you had days in advance to get ready, stock your pantries, and hunker down.

In spite of all the tragedy, though, there have been some wonderful bright spots. Our community has had a very rough summer, between the racial protests and police shootings and now “the Great Flood of 2016”–but we’ve pulled together! They’ve turned a movie studio and the Baton Rouge River Center into shelters; churches are making meals for the first responders; neighbors are helping pull out carpet and sheetrock. Best of all, the “Cajun Navy” has set off in fishing boats everyday to rescue people off the streets or out of their homes.

Let nary a negative word be spoken against rednecks, ever ever again. Rednecks get the job done.

Keep Louisiana in your prayers, please. We haven’t experienced anything like this since Katrina, and yet between this stupid election and heaven knows what else, it doesn’t look like we’re getting a lot of coverage on the news. Part of that is because we’re handling it without much drama; we’re just getting the job done, and quietly going about our business doesn’t exactly make headlines. But we need the prayers, so please don’t forget about us.

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.

Psalm 57:1

Movie Review: “Star Trek Beyond”

If you want the short version, here it is: Star Trek Beyond is the finest installment of the franchise reboot, and I absolutely loved it.

Of course, short versions are always a little simplistic, so allow me to wax eloquent for a few more paragraphs 😉

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Over the past year I’ve become a walking, talking Star Trek: The Original Series encyclopedia. I’ve watched most of the episodes more than twice, I read LOTS of Star Trek novels, I browse Memory Alpha, I enjoy reading about the show’s production and its cast, and the characters are some of my best fictional friends.

Hence the reason why I never loved J.J. Abrams’ movies the way I loved the old show or its follow-up films like The Wrath of Khan or The Undiscovered Country. They were fun and I do enjoy them, and I really respect Abrams–but they didn’t feel like Star Trek.

Star Trek Beyond is totally different. My mom remarked that “it’s a film for the old fans.” If you don’t know much about Star Trek, I can see why this one might be bewildering. It can be campy at times (just like the old show). The science is iffy at best (just like the old show). References to “giant green hands in space” and lines like “Did you know Scotch was inwented by a leetle old lady in Leningrand?” or “I ripped my shirt again” will seem really random…if you don’t know the old show. It’s crazy, it’s fun, it’s character-driven, just like…well, you get my drift.

It finally feels like the old show, just on a grander, cinematic scale.

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We can thank Simon Pegg, his co-writer, Doug Jung, and new director Justin Lin, for this welcome shift from “boldly going into dark gritty angsty drama” to “boldly going into starry-eyed exploration and adventure.” They know the Original Series like the backs of their hands: they grew up watching and loving it (unlike Abrams, who admits that he always preferred Star Wars) and would reward themselves after a hard day of screenwriting with an original episode. Simon Pegg even credits Memory Alpha’s resources for helping him with the script.

The plot is simple, but compelling. The Enterprise walks (or rather, flies) into a well-laid trap and gets destroyed in a nerve-wracking, gut-wrenching scene. The crew is split up; most of them (including Sulu and Uhura) are captured by a mysterious villain, Krall, who literally drains the life out of his prisoners in order to regenerate himself. Others are stranded in the middle of nowhere on the other side of Krall’s planet: Kirk and Chekov land together in a forested area, Bones tries to keep a wounded Spock alive in an unhospitable cave, and Scotty makes friends with the fearsome yet adorable Jaylah, who makes her home in an old, downed Starfleet vessel, the Franklin.

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The stranded pairs, of course, have to find each other in time to rescue the captured crew and Starbase Yorktown. Throw in emotional subplots like the death of Ambassador Spock (AKA Leonard Nimoy), Jim struggling with whether or not he ought to accept a promotion to the admiralty, Jaylah’s loneliness and determination to avenge her dead father, and Spock and Uhura’s struggling romance…and you’ve just got a lot of feelings to deal with here.

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Jim Kirk IS Jim Kirk in this movie. Gone is the devil-may-care jerk of the first two films: this guy walks, talks, and acts like the old Captain Kirk we all know and love. Spock is more physically vulnerable in this movie than he has been since The Search for Spock, and more emotionally compromised than he has been since the original episode “The Naked Time.” With anyone else, it would feel out of character; with Spock, it’s like you’re discovering yet another layer of complexity. Dr. McCoy, meanwhile, steals the show with both his dry, no-nonsense humor and his surprisingly kind counsel to both Jim and to a Certain Vulcan he only pretends he can’t stand. “I’d throw a party if you left,” my foot. If Spock left the Enterprise, Bones wouldn’t know what to do with himself.

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Lieutenant Uhura is Queen of Trek, as always; her steely-eyed defiance of Krall is nothing short of awesome. Plus, she’s head-over-heels in love with a Certain Vulcan and he’s head-over-heels for her, and it’s ADORBS. I ship it so hard now. There was a lot of controversy over Sulu’s character this time, since he’s revealed in this universe as being (*ahem*) not straight. But for those of us who are uncomfortable with this change, we can be thankful it was revealed in an extremely discreet, 30-second scene.

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Chekov spends most of his time with Jim and had several good moments, including a full scene where he and the captain sneak into the wreckage of the Enterprise. Scotty spends most of his hilarious screen time rebuilding the Franklin with Jaylah, the somewhat naive, very fierce, but good-hearted alien girl who ultimately helps the crew save the day. It’s Scotty who soothes Jaylah’s fears with the same truth that Uhura uses to challenge Krall: there’s strength in unity, and “as my wee Granny used to say, ‘ye cannae break a stick in a bundle.”

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Yes, there were some plot holes, mostly involving Krall’s background and abilities/powers. We still don’t know exactly where Jaylah gets her uh-may-zing technology, either. And yes yes, I know, blasting the Beastie Boys at incredibly high frequencies won’t ever really defeat your enemies and rescue a starbase from complete annihilation (kids, please don’t try this at home). But hey, we live in a world that thrives on stories about scrawny American kids becoming superheroes by being dosed with VitaRays. I think we can handle “the beat and the shouting!” 😉

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One more thing before I close. Star Trek Beyond was released a year and a half after Leonard Nimoy’s death, and about a month and a half after Anton Yelchin’s. Beyond has several poignant tributes to Nimoy, the most obvious of which is the death of Original Spock and Reboot Spock’s conversation with Bones about him; a more subtle one would be the Franklin‘s serial number, NCC-326 (Leonard Nimoy’s birthday was March 26th). The time frame didn’t allow for many tributes to Anton Yelchin, but director Justin Lin did purposefully add a shot with Chekov when Kirk makes a toast to absent friends, and there’s a dual dedication to both Nimoy and Yelchin mid-credits.

In conclusion: yes, I’m a very happy Trekkie right now. Yes, I’m investigating a delightful little fanfic idea. Yes, I’m listening to the soundtrack on repeat. Yes, I’m budgeting for FunkoPOPS. Yes, I’m in a Star Trek Beyond mood, and nothing hurts.

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Live long and prosper, peeps.

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