In which dance steps tell a terrifying truth which we in North America ignore every single day…

[Warning: the following review contains spoilers and disturbing subject matter. Reader discretion is advised.]

No Woman’s Land is a dance production created by Roshanak Jaberi and performed by the Jaberi Dance Theatre. They performed this show in Toronto from March 14 to March 16. Before the performance, audiences are given a program which explains not only the show, but also unfolds to reveal a map which highlights prominent refugee camps and where rape is used as a tool of war.

 

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Said map

 

This performance was conceived on the actual testimonies of refugee women. The show combines light, sound, narration, dance and props to bring a harrowing tale that won’t be leaving your psyche anytime soon…

Before we get started, I would like to add that unfortunately, audience members were allowed to take photographs during the production, so there won’t be any in this post.

 

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Theater bar area

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Theater bar area and steps to upper theater seats

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View from theater bar

 

The Good:

I loved the way they set the mood of the performance. The theater where the show was performed was constructed with a lot of metal and bars on the boxes. Throughout the space, echoed whispers and voice interrogating those whispers with the cold, unfeeling questions of: Where is your husband? What language do you speak? Have you ever suffered from mental illness? 

I highlight that question because it struck a powerful chord with me, as a person with a mental illness. The notion that someone could be denied entry into the country for something that is beyond their control, or something that may have been induced by the traumas they’ve faced is disgusting.

 

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Programs

 

The special effects during the presentation were off the charts. They used a projector to simulate crowds, words and water. They only used a few props while onstage, but all of them were used so effectively. Silk streams turned into a swing, a womb and a waterfall before your eyes. A metal cage turned into a prison and then into a boat.

The dancers were dressed in combat gear for most of the show, to represent the war zone and violence that refugee women have to endure.

The one scene that I’ll never forget and which has been burned permanently into my eyes and mind is the scene with the madwoman. In it, one member of the company is dressed in white. She sits on a silver bucket, twisting and trembling. As she moves around the bucket, her dress falls partly off, revealing her breasts, while her eyes twitch. At one point during this scene, the madwoman goes behind the metal cage and wraps her arms in the silks. She then moves open-mouthed and spins around in a circle, while over the loudspeakers a voice moans.

It is a beautiful and haunting performance.

In addition, before the performance, the audience members were given cards where they could write their own review of the show’s subject material, which demonstrates an openness by the company to improve and reinvent their material. There was also a talk-back on the night I attended -sadly, I had a train to catch- which makes a more productive and interactive experience.

The bad:

This play isn’t meant for everyone. Viewers with sensitivities to rape, violence and trauma as well as partial nudity should approach this production with caution. This play also uses special effects that could trigger epilepsy and vertigo.

That being said, they did have a counselor on-hand in the audience, that audience members could talk to about what they saw in the show after the performance.

While the production is beautiful and moving, there are a few moments where what the dancers were trying to go for isn’t clear at all, for example, the scene where the twelve-year old is getting married and she’s painfully walking on silver buckets.

I walked away from that performance asking myself a lot of questions that I don’t think will be answered anytime soon.

Spiritual Perspective:

God instructs us in His Holy Word to treat strangers and foreigners with dignity. He also tells us to love our neighbours and help those in need. That night, watching this performance, I found myself convicted and tried. I don’t do much to help refugees and I don’t think about their plight at all.

That is something that needs to change.

This performance has motivated me to spread the word about the suffering of refugees (for example, posting this review). It has also motivated me to try and step up where so many of my brothers and sisters are failing.

We as Christians need to do more to help these people. We need to help them find shelter, counsel them, comfort them and treat them with dignity. How many times have we looked on the refugee as “the invader” or “the other” or “the thief who takes our jobs”, not realizing that it is our heavenly duty to provide for and care for those in need.

 

[Please note that the featured image in this post comes from the Harbourfront Centre website. All other photos were taken by me.]

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In which there is a close encounter of the goth kind…

Hello, today I saw you on the train today. You didn’t see me, but I knew who you were from the moment I saw your purple fuzzy legwarmers and your corset-back coat.

Pierced skin, hair as black as night.

Most people on the train probably either ignored you or stared in ignorance.

I didn’t. I looked at you with admiration and respect.

You were braver than me, today. You showed your true colours. I sat there incognito, dressed like your average commuter.

I admire you for your effort today. I applaud your courage to be different. And I want to thank you; you let me know I wasn’t alone, that goth isn’t dead, that it’s still alive and well.

Soldier on, my friend. Keep the night weird and wonderful.

 

abstract art blur bright

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In which a group of scumbags turn a blind eye to their coworker harassing his ex-wife in a fight for who shall be crowned alpha male…

[WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!]

Ocean’s Eleven is a 2001 major disappointment of a movie in which a man, Danny Ocean, who has just been released from prison, decides to celebrate his freedom by getting together ten other criminals in order to rob three hotel/casinos.

 

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Some of Danny’s criminal scumbag friends…

 

As a Christian, I can’t tell you the amount of moral dilemmas I faced while watching this film.

 

The good: 

That being said, there are a few entertaining moments in the film and there are a few laughs. The photography is nice. The settings and wardrobe are phenomenal -props to the set and costume designers! In addition, I applaud the movie’s diverse racial cast, especially at a period in time when that was not the norm.

 

The bad:

Oh boy, this’ll be fun.

The soundtrack is forgettable, the dialogue is terrible and barely audible at most times. The majority of the characters are all unlikable and morally decrepit -not to mention the fact that Danny can’t handle the fact that his ex-wife, Tess, has entered into a relationship with another man. So, he begins to stalk her, harass her physically and emotionally. Bonus: in the climax of the film, Danny manipulates her into coming back to him.

He also refers to his ex-wife as a possession when he gets out of jail for the second time. And we’re supposed to be rooting for Danny? Why?

 

Alphamalebattle

Hello, I’m Danny, I’ll be your stalker for this evening…

 

If that’s not enough to make you think twice about watching this movie on Netflix, then I’ve got some bad news for you: you will probably not remember the names of most of the characters in this film.

I guarantee it. This movie doesn’t even try to make you remember them.

 

Spiritual Perspective:

The Ten Commandments tell us not to steal, covet or lie. Most of the characters in this film break these commandments. The film itself glorifies criminals, crime and being immoral. What’s worse, is that we as the audience are supposed to empathize and cheer these scumbags on.

Jesus would watch this film and weep!

Furthermore, The Bible also commands us to love each other as we love ourselves, but narcissistic Danny clearly only obeys half of that golden rule and doesn’t show love to others, especially his ex-wife. The loving thing to do in his situation, when he got out of prison, would be to respect her wishes and leave her alone.

When he got out of prison, Danny could have repented of his life of crime and instead maybe even used his knowledge of the criminal world to help police/FBI/CIA catch lowlifes.

But no, Danny had to pull off an ego-tripping mega heist, now didn’t he?

Heck, I would’ve even enjoyed Ocean’s Eleven if it had been about a group of criminals trying to do some good in their community and showing a genuine desire for self-improvement.

 

Phew! Rant over.

Computer, please cue Steal That Car by Alice Cooper, so we can get out of here…

 

[Please note all photos and supplementary film information came from IMDB].

 

 

In which there is another weekly prayer request…

I’ll try my best to pray for all of you. If I can’t pray for you (due to a high volume of requests), I’ll get other Christians I know to pray for your situation.

That being said, what do you need prayer for?

 

 

In which my body is on lockdown…

Well, it’s official.

My body is now holding me hostage. No, that’s not an exaggeration, either. After beating me down for days, leaving me vulnerable both spiritually and mentally, I’m physically unable to do what I want to do.

black chain

Photo by lalesh aldarwish on Pexels.com

Even now, as I try to write this post, my body is fighting against me, wearing me down like an abuser.

But I’m not going down without a fight.

My body can try and take me hostage. The depression/mania police may have come to take me away, but I’ll be darned if I go in quietly.

Hey D. Can I call you D?

I made myself dinner tonight. I’m writing this post. I sorted my laundry. I went to meet with my professor today.

Hey M. Can I call you M?

You and your anxiety aftershocks can take a hike. Also, I would appreciate it if you didn’t give me the libido from hell. It’s very distracting and it makes it hard to concentrate on work.

Oh, and, while we’re on the subject of anxiety. I’d like to able to ride in an elevator without freaking out. Think you can manage?

I’m through playing nice with you two.

police army commando special task force

Photo by Somchai Kongkamsri on Pexels.com

 

My soul is raising an army of positivity and empowerment, the likes of which has never been seen before, in me. Plans have been put into motion, that you couldn’t stop, no matter how hard you try.

Haven’t you heard? I’m redecorating my space. Soon, there’ll be flameless candles and a skull rug in my dorm room, transforming it from drab nothingness to the goth safe space of my dreams.

And don’t forget, I’m riding off to victory with the King of Kings riding by my side.

So take that!

Computer, cue All The King’s Horses by Petra, because I’m looking for an epic soundtrack to fuel my battle cry.

 

 

 

 

In which I find myself dragging my body around…

Right now I feel unmotivated.

Like…

selective focus photography of skeleton

Photo by Chris Mitchell on Pexels.com

…like this guy, above, like death.

Do I let it drag me down? Do I stay in bed?

No. I lecture myself like there’s no tomorrow and get up anyways. I review that plan for my thesis. I push myself to write a blog post. I text a friend. I declare war against sinful flesh and soldier onward.

As a Christian, giving up is not an option.

Treat everything you do as a major accomplishment. Did the dishes? Outstanding. Brushed your teeth? Amazing! Said a prayer for a stranger? Good for you!

Just keep at it and you will feel the difference in your life…

Maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, but much sooner than you think.

black cat holding persons arm

Photo by Ruca Souza on Pexels.com

 

[And before you even ask, yes, the title of this blog post was inspired by a Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks duet.]

In which a well swallows a deadly secret…

[Warning: Spoilers Ahead!!!]

1922 is a Stephen King-inspired horror/suspense film. In it, a farmer, desperate to keep his land and the land his wife has just recently inherited, murders the latter, shoving her body down and well, and killing a cow to cover the deed up. Unfortunately, his doing so curses the land around him, causing everything he loves and values to die or wither away.

The film culminates with his death.

 

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The farmer and the well, the farmer and the well, hi-ho, the derry-o, the farmer and the well…

The good:

The filmography of the film is excellent. The shots are magnificent and so are the special effects. You can tell a lot of time and effort went into making this film.

In addition, the actors’ performances are stellar, especially that of our leading man, Thomas Jane. Molly Parker also does a fantastic job at becoming the detestable, loud and crude wife, a performance that only helps to create sympathy for our equally-detestable farmer.

The movie is also a pretty good horror film. Not the best, but considering what they’re churning out nowadays, this film has tons of creepiness and chills to spare!

The bad:

You are going to hate every single character in this film. Seriously, there is not one likable character among them. Also, if you have mental health issues -particularly depression- you shouldn’t be watching this film because it will leave you more depressed than you were when you went into this movie.

Spiritual Perspective:

The film tells a classic familiar tale of the lust for greed and patriarchal control. As the Good Book says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs,” (1 Timothy 6:10).

The film also tells the story of a broken marriage, where neither husband nor wife respect each other or wish to cooperate with each other. The farmer, for his part, wants to be a man and control his wife. In his mind, his wife’s newly-acquired property is his. As for the wife, she wants to be free of the farm and move to the city…one can only wonder if this is selfishness on her part, or if she now finally has the power to assert herself over her husband’s wishes.

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The detestable wife

One aspect that Christian viewers might find uncomfortable is the wife’s mouth, particularly in her encouraging her son to sexually pursue his sweetheart and to masturbate.

Yeah. (*backs away from computer slowly*)

Computer, cue to the folk song singalong with the altered lyrics so we can get the hay out of here. Altogether now!

The farmer kills his wife, the farmer kills his wife, hi-ho, the derry-o, the farmer kills his wife. 

The farmer shoots his cow, the farmer shoots his cow, hi-ho, the derry-o, the farmer shoots his cow. 

His farm’s now gone to pot, his farm’s now gone to pot, hi-ho, the derry-o, his farm’s now gone to pot. 

His wife’s a vengeful ghost, his wife’s a vengeful ghost, hi-ho, the derry-o, his wife’s a vengeful ghost.

Feel free to create you own verses in the comments section down below!

[Please note all photos and actor information come from IMDB. The lyrics to the “Farmer in the Dell” come from this website].

In which there is a most unproductive week…

As you probably guessed from the title, I’m not having a good week. Productivity is down (though I’ve managed to get two loads of laundry done, do the dishes, do the garbage and clean up around the apartment.)

Mostly, the lack of productivity comes down to schoolwork. I’ve been experiencing severe chest pains and I tire easily, so I haven’t been able to work for long periods of time.

Yay.

As for my spiritual life, I’ve been missing out on church…a lot. On the other hand, I’ve been doing a lot of Bible reading.

In other news, my fear of heights has increased to the point where it’s hard for me to use an elevator.

Whoo.

 

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Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

In which I am a stubborn mule…

I’m a stubborn mule.

If it came to a divide between the sheep and the goats. I am most definitely a goat, no questions asked.

I never listen. I never learn. Well, scratch that, I’m learning to listen and I’m learning to learn. God’s testing my patience and I’m sure I’m testing His.

I often can’t tell the difference between right and wrong and even though I look to God for answers, He knows in my heart that I often really don’t want to hear what He has to say. 

Ex: I’m looking for answers God, but they better be the ones I want.

Still, Jesus did ride into Jerusalem on a donkey, so who knows? Maybe there’s a spot reserved for me when He comes back.

 

 

 

In which I talk about feeling powerless…

I hate the way my body works sometimes. I know I’m supposed to love my body because God made it. And someplace, in the very back of my mind, I know I’m supposed to love myself so I can love others.

However, today I don’t feel the self-love.

I tried to conserve my energy today, so I could have enough strength to get through class. Then, an hour before class, my body started to twitch, causing me pain.

So, no class for me.

Even though the professor eventually cancelled the course, I still felt like an abysmal failure.

Usually when I’m in a moment like this, the “Christians” around me tend to rely on the same-old, same-old. They encourage me to look on the positive side of things. They don’t offer comfort, they don’t offer understanding, they instead start quoting verses (which ultimately makes me feel like I’m a bad Christian for having negative feelings about the situation I’m in) and then proceed to tell me that it is all “for the best”.

 

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Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

 

After a while, that same-old, same-old gets stale.

If you’re in my shoes, with a truckload of issues and suffering from your childhood, some of which still continues to this day, this rhetoric is the last thing you want to hear. It doesn’t empower your struggle, and instead feels like I way to get you to shut up and stop talking.

It’s kind of like “pray the gay away”, except, this time it’s “pray the sorrow/sickness/pain away”.

 

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

So to all Christians I say the following. The next time you hear someone talking about problems or struggles in their life do the following:

1)Listen to them.

2)Shut up and listen to them.

3)Offer gentle words.

4)Be compassionate.

5)Mourn with them. (We’re called to mourn with those who mourn, remember?)

6)Don’t talk about how this is all part of God’s plan. Nobody with schizophrenia or Cancer needs to hear how this is all for God’s glory or how they’ll come out of their trial with a greater understanding of the universe. It makes God seem sadistic, cruel and apathetic.

7)Offer them help. (Did a child in your church tell you they were being abused? Offer them a place to stay and raise them as your own.)

And for those of you who choose to ignore the above suggestions, don’t worry, I’m sure Jesus will be more than understanding when you tell Him you did your best and quoted the most excellent verses for the given situation.

Not.

As Christians, we’re supposed to be God’s first and last line of defense against the powers of darkness. So, leave no man behind and give your fallen brothers and sisters the encouragement needed to stand up and fight.

 

 

As for me, I’m still in a dark place, so let’s play some fitting music.

 

 

In which there is a weekly prayer request list…

I’ve decided to introduce a new section on my blog in which I invite you the readers to post down your prayer requests into the comment section below. I will try my best to pray for all of you. If I can’t pray for you (due to a high volume of requests), I will get other Christians I know to pray for your situation.

That being said, what do you need prayer for?

In which I talk about the healing power of water…

Stop. Before anyone accuses me of going off the New Age deep end…Stop. Just stop and actually read the following post before anyone accuses anyone of anything.

Hear me out.

I’ve faced a lot of depression and despair in my life. One of the things that helped me the most was time spent in water.

 

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It was amazing the effect a hot bath or a warm shower would have. When I felt really bad, I would just curl up on the floor of the shower and let the water rain down all over my body.

It was a wonderful, calming and reassuring feeling.

Some of my best creative ideas came from time spent in the shower or bath. It’s one of God’s greatest gifts to me; because usually I come into the shower angry, confused, stressed, resentful or bitter, but then, once the water hits my skin, and the shower walls get all misty and covered with little droplets, I generally calm down or find a solution to my problem.

Some of my best and worst conversation with my Heavenly Father also happen when I’m in water.

Sometimes, I wonder if God gave me the gift of water just to make sure I’d keep talking to Him.

Even as a child, one of my favorite places to go was the waterpark at Canada’s Wonderland (not in its latest incarnation, the old-school waterpark at Canada’s Wonderland with the four absurdly steep, white water slides. You know the ones). I hated going into the water -the part where you’re warm and you enter the usually freezing cold water- but then, after a few minutes of pain, the world would turn into complete bliss. Especially in the wave pool.

 

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Photo by Sabrina Schulz on Pexels.com

 

I had an exceptionally difficult childhood, but a few minutes in the wavepool were enough to soothe my troubles. It would take me away to another world, where I wasn’t in a bad situation anymore, but I was a magical mermaid in the deep, blue sea frolicking with my fellow merpeople.

Merpersons?

Merinviduals?

Based on my own experience, I’d tell my fellow mental health sufferers out there to give water therapy a try. Seriously.

Having a bad day? Got into a fight with a friend? Had an argument with your boss? The world seems bleak?

Get into the bathtub, the shower, the jacuzzi, the hot tub or the steam shower. And talk to God. Even if you don’t believe in Him, just try it. You’ll find that dialogue rewarding, I promise.

 

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Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

 

Go to a spa where they have really fancy pools with jets. Alternatively, spend a day at the waterpark. Or even go the Grandma’s place and use her hot tub. If you’re in an area that has them, try some hot springs.

Also, I’d like to recommend to any academics reading this post, you may want to try and do a study on mental health and water.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to follow my own advice.

What are you waiting for? Jump in!

And computer, cue that Enya song. (You can’t have a blog post on water without the Enya.)

In which everything is still awesome!!!

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part. 

At first, I was hesitant to go see this movie. My local newspaper gave it a one-star rating. When I saw that rating, I became disheartened. I loved the original and the Lego Batman spinoff, so I felt cheated by a franchise I had come to trust.

But, as I walked into that theatre and took my seat, I couldn’t have imagined that for the next hour and forty-seven minutes I would treated to a heartwarming message and a story with good moral grounding.

I daresay, it’s a movie even Jesus would be proud of.

The story begins where the last Lego Movie ended. Emmet, our hero, attempts to negotiate with the little sister’s Lego minions. He tries to befriend them, instead of fighting them, which leads to said minions going berserk and -apparently- destroying the heart that Emmet had made for them.

Flash forward in time.

Emmet’s world has now become a dark and gritty Mad Max-style post-apocalyptic wasteland.

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Said post-apocalyptic wasteland.

However, this is news to our hero, as he continues to be a good neighbour and to be of good cheer, much to the disappointment of his girlfriend, Lucy. She wants Emmet to be dark, brooding and tough. Essentially, she wants him to be more a stereotypical man, instead of who he really is.

Eventually, an alien invades to kidnap some of Emmet’s friends for a wedding.

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Said invading alien.

During the movie, it is revealed that the struggle between Emmet’s world and the alien invader’s world is the result of a brother-sister conflict in the human world. The brother, at first, hates his sister intruding on his playtime and considers her a menace and it is only when he realizes compassion and opens his heart towards his sister that the two sibling begin to play with each other, which leads to peace in the human world and saves the day in Emmet’s.

The pros:

The movie has an amazing score. So amazing that I bought the soundtrack immediately after I left the theater. The pacing of the story is good and there are many satisfying and unexpected twists throughout. The voice acting is wonderful and you can tell the actors are very much into the characters they play.

There is very little violence in the movie and there is a gender-balanced cast (which is a thing not often seen, even in movies of today.)

Another good part of the film is the Bruce Willis cameos (just go watch the film, you’ll understand what I mean.)

The cons:

It’s not as funny as the first movie. In addition, the cast could be more racially diverse (Lego Lando Calrissian, anyone?) One aspect that viewers might find bothersome is that the film completely ditches the characters and canon of the Lego Batman Movie.

Spiritual perspective:

The movie is a wonderful example of cooperation between siblings and cooperation between the genders. It has a beautiful message about not judging a book by its cover and how there is nothing wrong with being kindhearted and compassionate: traits that are normally seen as weak and useless by our fallen world.

Emmet’s character is very Christ-like in general. His only flaw is believing that he needed to become more invested in being angry and tough (which he is taught means: you act like you know everything, you don’t care about the well-being of others and become completely self-centered and selfish). While Emmet is tempted to believe in the lie of “being tough”, Emmet eventually rejects it and even Lucy helps him out of that dark path, admitting that she was wrong to force him to be something he wasn’t (and quite frankly, didn’t need to change).

Is it the greatest movie of all time? Nope. But, it’s a good movie and you’ll have a great time watching it by yourself or with friends, family or your significant other if you have one.

Remember how I said the songs from the movie are amazing. Allow me to demonstrate. Ahem. Computer, cue the peppy song that will never leave anyone’s brain anytime soon*.

*Cue evil sadistic laugh

[A big thanks to IMDB for photos and for information about the movie.]

 

In which I make a list of interesting goth accessories from around the web

Hello everyone! While I’m working on my next film review, (and since I’m feeling better), I thought I’d post a list of affordable goth accessories that come from all over the internet. There’s something here for everyone, so enjoy!

And before we get to the list, here is some heavy metal Christian music. Call it appropriate mood music.

1)DEATHLY FATE SKULL CUFF

Deathly fate skull cuff

Image from DOLLS KILL website

[Note: a word of warning to those looking at the DOLLS KILL website. Their clothing brand is NOT SAFE FOR WORK. They have some modest clothes, but buyer, seriously beware.]

2) SKELLI BONES PATCH

 

Skelli Bones patch

Image from Borderline Plus

 

3)SUSPENDER STORE MEN’S SKULL SUSPENDERS

Skull suspenders

Image from Suspender Store’s Amazon store

 

4)PUNK SKULL BACKPACK

Punk Skull Backpack

Image from RebelsMarket

 

[Please note, when you click on the link, the above backpack comes in four different designs, the one featured here is called “Angel of Death.”]

5)LUNAR CYCLE MOON PHASES NECKLACE

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Image from Trivium

 

6)BROCADE CORSET BELT

BTKA_15122867443875656_c34229c403a9527cf938777d768b74

Image from Rosie The Rebel

 

7)CHILL PILL GLOW IN THE DARK UV REACTIVE CHESHIRE

 

UVMASK

Image from ChillPillClubWear’s Etsy shop page

 

8)GLOW IN THE DARK ZOMBIE CAMEO RING

 

[The two above images are from cameojewlerysupply’s Etsy shop page]

9)BLEACH SUNGLASSES

Sunglasses

Image from Disturbia

 

10) LONG ARM WARMER GOTHIC GLOVES WITH BUCKLES

 

Arm warmer

Image from The Gothic Shop

 

Hope you enjoyed the list!

 

Frustration and Mental Health

Sometimes it comes when you read a blog post by a pastor who calls OCD a sin. If you’re like me and have clinical OCD, you walk away from that post feeling as if it’s just one more way you’re letting God down.

It also doesn’t help when some days you can’t tell if you’re possessed or just insane. Trust me, as a Christian, I sometimes wonder if it makes more sense to blame it all on demons because there are moments when I get prideful and assume that my brain couldn’t be capable of all of this.

Then, there are the irrational fears that build up, as a result of trauma from long ago. The ghosts that take over the body and ravage it, leaving nothing behind but an empty shell that lounges in bed all day, dishes not done, laundry not washed and hair not brushed.

monochrome photography of person on dark room

Photo by Akshar Dave on Pexels.com

The attitudes towards women in the Christian community also doesn’t help. If anything, it drives me further into a web of despair and gives Satan far too much leeway to make a case against God.

My mental health also doesn’t help me as a woman. I’ve been hurt before, and I don’t want to be hurt again. When I’m outside, I’m scared of being alone because I’m worried that someone might jump out and attack me. It sounds paranoid, but it’s a common fear to have. It’s worse if you’re a goth, as people assume that because you wear a spiked collar you must be a superfreak who’s up for anything (I can’t speak for all goths, but I’m quite conservative, myself).

Right now, I’ve been dealing with a lot (which is why you haven’t heard from me for a long time). My mental health is in the pits and I’m trying to dig myself out. Still, even with all the bad days I’ve described above, there are seconds, minutes and hours when I still manage to jump up and praise His name. Even when I’m angry and screaming at God, I find it incredible that the response I get is “I love you” and “Take care of yourself” and “Stop being so hard on yourself.”

afterglow backlit bokeh dark

Photo by luizclas on Pexels.com

There are many moments throughout the week when I ignore that advice, only to have God direct those messages through the people around me. (Spiritual advice: if you get the same friendly advice from friends and colleagues around you repeated consistently in one day, the Almighty is probably trying to tell you something.)

I’m not even sure what I was trying to accomplish with this post, but hopefully it can inspire others and urge them to keep praying and continue on.

You’ll make it, trust me.

mountains with crepuscular ray

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

In which you can forget about turning the other cheek and the blessings of the peacemakers… break your opponent in half!!!

Baki season 1 (which you can watch on Netflix) is a Japanese fighting/action anime. The story follows Baki, who is a young martial artist and former fighting champion who, with the help of some of his former opponents, must take down several criminals. These criminals have escaped in order to find…

-wait for it-

…defeat.

Pros:

The artwork is incredibly impressive, as can be seen by the screenshots below:

Baki tattoo

Baki father

The motivation of the escaped convicts is unique and interesting. It seems to act as a spiritual commentary on how we as human beings have an innate need to seek to surrender ourselves before a higher power.

Another element that gets a serious thumbs up is the character of Baki. While he is a fighter, he’s got the sensitivity and loving side of a David or of a Solomon. He’s also brave, protects his friends and accepts defeat most graciously.

Baki and Kozue

Baki (right) and his girlfriend, Kozue (left).

Another plus is the low sexual content (aside from kissing and a few crass references), yet one of the tensest moments of the series comes from waiting for Baki and his girlfriend, Kozue, to decide whether or not to have sex. I wish more emphasis had been placed on the emotional content of their relationship and discussions about marriage, instead of having a “carpe diem” approach to their relationship.

Cons:

The violence and gore in this series is completely unnecessary and excessive. In addition, with the exception of Baki, these are not men to look up to. I feel as if the series would’ve had more meat if they included a message which talks about how there should be more to life than fighting and make fighting not all that the male characters do. I would’ve liked to see these fighters doing good in the community – maybe volunteering at a hospital, etc.

In addition, in the future, this series needs better characterization. Yes, they’re fighters… but what else? Most action movies have romantic interests, characters with families, hobbies, relationship struggles, etc. It would have been better to see this.

Another element that gives this series a downgrade, is the lack of female characters which boggles my mind completely as there are female martial artists in this world and a history of women fighters in Japan. Why are they not represented here?

Homoerotica (there are a lot of almost-naked men with muscles) ‘nuff said. In addition, Baki is drawn more effeminately than his girlfriend, Kozue. You can take that however you want to.

This series will scar you for life, especially the one scene where a villain who has brutally injured many people is riding on carousel and tea cup ride at an amusement park and having a good time like a child. It’s jarring. Later, that same villain looses his mind. The last we see of him is him in an ambulance, begging for candy.

Also, I should warn you that the series contains violence against animals. So, sensitive viewers be advised.

Lastly, you might be wondering why -besides Baki- I haven’t mentioned any of the characters’ names or backstories in great detail. Well, that’s because characters are introduced with so much exposition, you’ll forget at least 50-70% of who and what they are, depending on the character in question.

Spiritual Message:

Unfortunately, there’s not much here in the spiritual department, which is another strike against the anime.

I wish these men were more warriors for God. Then again, despite this review, I’m hoping things will improve in later seasons… (one can only hope). As of right now, in Japan, (according to IMDB), there are more episodes that have been released, but they are not available on Canadian Netflix, so I can’t talk about those episodes here. If anybody has seen them, please let me know in the comments section if things have improved.

Before I go and shamelessly look at some websites for a nice pair of Goth boots, I would like to play this song as an encouragement to Baki and his friends to rise up and fight in the service of the One True King.

 

[Please note that all photos in this post come from IMDB.]

In which I help my fellow Goths redecorate…

After Halloween is the perfect time of year for Goths to redecorate, that’s when all the Skeletons, skulls, tombstones and black roses go on sale!

So, suffer from a small apartment? Or a case of everything-Goth-I-want-to-buy-is-too-freaking-expensive-itis?

Then, look no further, dark and mysterious stranger, for I have some wonderful Goth decorating tips to tickle any child of darkness’ fancy.

We begin with the dilemma of the small apartment. A mock silk-screen room divider doesn’t exactly scream “non-conformity.” Nope, for this deadly decorating dilemma -good grief, I’m starting to sound like the Cryptkeeper, sorry John Kassir!- we’ll need a little something from IKEA.

KALLAX Shelf unit IKEA You can use the furniture as a room divider because it looks good from every angle.

The Kallax shelf works perfectly as a room divider. But, if the open holes in your partition wall bother you, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. First, begin by filling your shelves with items in a diagonal fashion. For  example, one row could hold glow-in-the- dark skulls, another row could hold ravens, and another row could hold a vases of red dark red roses or fishbowls with black and red/purple rocks. Just alternate the decoration of choice by row. (For example, put a skull in diagonal row one, put ravens in diagonal row two, etc.) For those handy with DIY home projects, you could easily put a wooden board on the back of the shelf, transforming the shelf into an even thicker barrier.

Another decor tip I want to share is don’t paint your house all black. A darker color makes the rooms seem smaller. If you want to get the most out of your space, try painting the walls grey. It will make your rooms look bigger, plus it’ll go nicely with some black, red, dark green or purple furniture.

 File:Color icon gray.svg

Lastly, if you’re looking for ways to spice up your room, try painting two walls one colour (ex: electric green), while painting the other two walls a different colour (ex: black). This will send a bold colour statement and will bring some serious energy to your living space.

Well, that’s it for my decorating tips. Make sure to tune in next time!

Computer, cue Black Cars so we can all go home.

 

[Please note all images used in this post come from IKEA and Wikimedia Commons.]

In which all canon gets scrapped. Oh, and there’s eco-terrorism, a rebellion and tons of plot-convenient magic.

I’d do video reviews, but I don’t have the budget for that.

Highlander II: The Quickening (aka there can only be one who jumps the shark) is a movie that’s hard to define. It’s an enjoyable watch, but the film itself is…

Where to start with this movie…where…to…start…

Let me put it like this; if you can correctly interpret the movie’s introduction, then God has blessed you with discernment capabilities beyond that of mere mortals.

Yeah, it’s that confusing.

One things that separates this movie from its predecessor, is that the second film is darker, with almost all of it being shown in total or partial darkness for the outside shots.

 

Pros:

Despite the confusion, it’s still a good movie; the scene where Sean Connery’s character gets a suit is worth a watch alone. In fact, all of Connery’s bits in the film get two thumbs up in my book, for example, “Hit it, dude”. Sean Connery saying that line is pure gold. The film also moves fairly fast and yet still finds room to play with the viewer’s emotions in some moments. The musical score is fun and moving, but it’s not as outstanding as that of the first film.

The most epic part of the film is when MacLeod regenerates into his youthful self. This is done in the most over-the-top but amazing way possible : glorious rebirth by lightening and enough pyrotechnics and explosions to make Michael Bay jealous.

The overall production quality is okay, some parts of the film are better than others.

You can also tell that a lot of time and effort was put into the action sequences. However, some of the action is extremely campy at the beginning of the movie.

 

Cons:

As for the plot, don’t ask me what’s going on. I have no idea what’s going on. All I know is Sean Connery’s character was dead. He still is dead. But, he’s not dead. And a rebellion and fighting. And another black knight? Maybe?

Oh yeah, and everything you knew from the first film…it’s all one big lie.

Yep. A lie. A whole bunch of canonical information just got shot down.

And the film’s villains are well, dumb and over-the-top.

 

Campy Katana

The campy main villain, Katana.

 

Two of the film’s villains have a cyber-punk-goth feel-

Wait a minute! The first movie had a punk-goth villain. Hey, that’s discriminating against fashion subcultures! As a goth, I’m deeply offended! (That being said, as a member of an alternative fashion community, I adore the costume design of the bad guys, especially the electro-dreds.)

 

Electro dred villain

Fabulous electro-dred villain vs. an aged MacLeod.

 

Spiritual Perspective:

All in all, the film does offer a good, strong, eco-friendly message. We were put in charge of God’s creation, as its caretakers – which, if you look at pollution and littering, serves as a reminder of how much we abuse our lofty position and should ultimately do better.

In addition, the film -like its predecessor- is vaguely homoerotic, though I can appreciate the Immortals “Golden Rule” which is to never fight on Holy Ground.

Another interesting aspect of the film, is that it takes the glamour out of eternal life and eternal youth, something that humans often aspire to, and what makes films about vampires so appealing. Yet, much like the film Interview With The Vampire, the film shows the downsides and restrictions of immortality. The most powerful image in the film is that of the spiral staircase in MacLeod’s home which stands as a metaphor for his life as a never-ending, lonely journey.

Then again, there are moments in the film which make me, a Christian person, wince. The first one that comes to mind is when Amazing Grace is playing during Ramirez’s use of magic to stop the ceiling fan: it’s a little contradictory since magic is not the mark of a practicing Christian, (a touch blasphemous, perhaps?)

Another element of the movie is that is proposes that through a magical bond, people who are dead are both able communicate with a living person and come back from the dead through invocation. This is extremely problematic from a Christian p.o.v.

 

Highlander bond

Said magical bond.

 

There is also the problem of explicit nudity. On another note, thankfully, the makers of this film did tone down the violence; it’s not as bad as in the first Highlander movie. However, there is one scene where the villain, Katana, crushes a man’s genitals.

Yeah.

The film has milder sexual content than its predecessor, and, before I close this review I want to mention one other element. One aspect that I found spiritually admirable is the film’s ending (as narrated by Connery) which offers a philosophical message: to seize the day, which reminds me of the following verse;

 

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. (Colossians 4:5)

 

Computer, cue Tourniquet by Knife Party.

(I know that song has nothing to do with the movie I just reviewed. But, if the filmmakers didn’t try to make any sense, then I won’t either…)

 

[Please note that all images from this post come from IMDB.]

In which a antique dealer with a katana battles to eliminate all others while Queen plays in the background…

Highlander is a 1986 movie, starring Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery. The film’s plot revolves around an Immortal, Connor MacCleod, who must do battle with other Immortals in order to achieve “the prize.”

 

Pros:

Queen did the soundtrack. Some of the tracks are good, some of them are bad. On the plus side, Sean Connery’s accent is much clearer in this movie, which makes his dialogue easy to understand.

There are some very cool special effects in this movie, especially The Kurgan’s death scene, which I would recommend any film student or aspiring special FX student watch. The underwater effects had me baffled as to how they pulled those off.

The film has a lot of good establishing shots and has good editing. Another plus is that the film is good at moving the audience -emotionally speaking- there are parts that will make you cry and laugh, there are parts that will make you scared and other moments where you will be on the edge of your seat.

 

HighlanderClimax

The final showdown between The Kurgan and MacLeod.

 

There are some truly phenomenal action sequences in the movie, especially when The Kurgan is driving onto oncoming traffic with one of the lead female characters, Brenda, and the sword fight during the film’s climax.

Cons:

If you’re looking for a movie that’s easy to understand, the intro will have you asking more questions that don’t…really…get…answered.

Yeah.

The film also has one of the most boring intros I’ve ever seen. No tension, no hype. It’s flat. For Christian parents, viewer beware, the film is slightly homoerotic in nature. The film’s quality is poor in some shots. There is also blatant racism and homophobia in the film.

Yay.

Parents be warned, there is some heavy sexual content and brutal violence in this film, so proceed with caution.

 

Spiritual Perspective:

I’m sorry to say this about a film that had a whole bunch of spiritual potential, Highlander sends the wrong message about romantic attachments and family, putting an emphasis on the fact that Immortals have to “go it alone” or else risk being hurt.

Even Jesus recognized the need for friends. Even God said -in the very beginning I might add- it is NOT GOOD FOR MAN TO BE ALONE.

Let’s not forget that MacLeod is a liar who has been lying to the police from the get-go. AND, that he is a murderer. AND, he’s been overly cruel and harsh with the female lead. So, what does she do once she finds out he’s a liar, after he’s treated her so badly…why she hops into bed with him.

Wait, what?

Oh, and afterwards, he tells her it’s not going to work out. And she’s totally fine with it.

Yeah…

And the fact that one of the songs by Queen has the following lyric: “I am the God of Kingdom Come” is very spiritually disturbing for any Christian.

The whole competition where there can only be one victor takes away from God’s mercy and grace entirely. A merciful and loving God wouldn’t create Immortals for the sole purpose of pitting them against each other in some sick murder-filled contest.

Worse still, at the end of the film, MacLeod’s reward is eternal knowledge and being one with the universe (which sounds pretty Buddhist or Hindu to me, giving the film a very new age-y feel. However, it’s noble that MacLeod wants to use his gift to help people, so there’s that.

That being said, this movie’s perspective on Christianity is unusually balanced for Hollywood. Sean Connery’s character, Ramirez, mentions that “faith” is one of the ways he’s survived all his centuries.

 

Highlanderrunning

(From Left to Right) Ramirez and MacLeod

 

Well, that’s that. Computer, cue Mister Mister so we can all go home. May God indeed have mercy on the road that MacLeod must travel…

 

[Please note all photos used in this post come from IMDB.]

In which a wig gets reviewed…

I bought a wig from Amazon during the summer and I thought I’d review it in the most Christ-like way possible.

Which is going to very hard to do. But, I’ll try my best.

Pros:

One thing this wig has going for it is its nice use of colour, it also fits pretty well. It’s a very realistic wig, so realistic that most people thought it was my actual hair that had been dyed.

 

img_2054.jpg

 

Cons:

That being said, it obvious that the wig is cheaply made; it’s already starting to fall apart. As for the free wig cap that supposed to come with this wig, the seller forgot to include it, twice.

As much as I want to positive and gentle, there’s no way of softening the truth. I hope that when reading this, you can avoid the mistake I’ve made and be aware when trying to buy wigs from Wigood. It’s a cheap wig and you get what you paid for.

 

[Please note that I’m not receiving any money, gifts or items in exchange for this review. This review is 100% honest.]