Book Club Pick: Far Side of the Sea

So as you all know I started a book club, because you know me and books…

Every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed. What can I say, I just love books.

As you know, I am behind in my Book Club Pick reviews-but I am trying to catch up.

Eventually I will get them all done.

Haha…sure

There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. This time it was my turn and I chose:

Far Side of the Sea (California Rising #2) by Paula Scott

So I had first been introduced to this book when I worked at our local museum. I actaully got to meet the author and speak to her, and after hearing about how she researched and just listening to how she spoke about her work I  decided to borrow the book from the library and read: Until the Day Breaks.

This book came out and my coworker said she enjoyed, so I purchased a copy for a friend. A couple weeks later I was at work and realized, I had forgot to bring a book to pass the time when we had no one visiting the museum.

That is not good,

Yes, I always brought a book or two to read in the downtime, as sometimes we had a lot of people visiting, and other times we only had a few. This week there was a special event happening in the area so I knew we weren’t going to have a lot of people, it would be the perfect time to read.

But this time I had forgotten my book! I was looking at four very quiet and boring hours.

As I started tidying up the gift shop, wondering what I was going to do with my time, I spotted the Far Side of the Sea and bought it.

I quickly devoured it, and then a year later in book club I decided it would be great to read this series. So we read the first book, then Wuthering Heights, and Desperate Pastor’s Wives; and before you know it, it was my turn again to pick.

Months had gone by since we had read the first book, and while I had really wanted to read the second book, I also really wanted to read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I thought afterwards we could all watch the movie together.

Yes!

But at the time I was going to this divorce class/support group and the day I had to choose our book, my reading for the class was Psalm 139, where this title comes from.

So I knew, we had to read it.

I gotcha!

Until the Day Breaks, we had protestant Rachel Tyler coming to California, where her father has brokered a marriage between her and a member of a very old and important Californio family, Roman Vasquez. The two do not know each, and neither is sure of the marriage, but before anything can immediately be done-California independence and the Bear Flag Revolt breaks out. There is romance, war, and fantastic characters. To read more, click here.

At the end of the first book, Rachel and Roman left to Monterey, where they are married. We begin book two with Rachel’s awful father, Joshua Tyler, returning from the revolt and finding his new wife Sarita and child dead and buried, Rachel gone, and becomes very angry. With the war-he had decided to marry Rachel off to someone else, but as now he does not have that, or his wife, he uses the heavy debts of the Vasquez family to blackmail the patriarch into giving him Roman’s sister, Maria Vasquez, to marry.

Roman’s sister Maria, is a beautiful and fiery redhead. She has been riding horses since a child, has gone on grizzly bear hunts, loves to dance, and is stubborn, passionate, and extremely strong-willed. She does not want to marry Joshua Tyler, but as her uncle controls her fate she has to.

Maria is haughty and angry, which just fuels Joshua Tyler on more. When they reach Monterey, they search for the priest to marry them, but he cannot be found (he had married Rachel and Roman and left to celebrate with them.) Joshua doesn’t care and decides to take Maria as his own, raping her.

Maria tries to get free, but Joshua is too strong, she does manage to grab a knife from him while he is distracted by her and stabs him-murdering a man, a hanging offense.

That is not good,

For Maria, this is something that should never have happened to her. Being raised as one of the gente de razon, she was always treated respectfully, kindly, etc. She feels dirty, scared, alone-and then she remembers something from long ago. When Maria’s mother was ill, she came into the room with a special feather, and at that same exact moment her mother died. One of her mother’s Indian slaves said that she was cursed with the mark of death and will bring death wherever she goes.

Death walks into the room…

Maria goes from the priest’s room into the church, feeling dirty, ashamed, and alone. No loner a virgin, no longer worth anything, and what will she do now? She can’t stay her and she can’t go back home.

One of Joshua’s mercenaries, Gavilan, decides to help her and the two disguise her as a boy and sign up to be deckhands on a ship headed to Boston. On the way they will pass through Chile, an Gavilan’s home, and they can stay there.

They are on the ship with they realize that the Captain is none other than Dominic Mason. In the last book, Dominic was bringing Rachel’s fiancé Steven from Boston to come after her. Steven lead him to the Lord and they became fast friends. When they reached California, the two quickly bonded with Roman as well. Maria fell in love with Dominic from that first moment she saw him, and he was incredibly attracted to her. Maria decided he was going to be her first kiss, and after she got it from him, he told her he was engaged already back home.

Maria tries to hide from Dominic, and while at first he doesn’t recognize her, eventually her secret comes out. Gavilan and Dominic become friends, although both have a deep interest in Maria. Maria wants Dominic, but as much as he wants her-he is engaged and must do his duty to Sally, his fiancé.

When they reach Argentina, they discover that Gavilan belongs to a wealthy family-but they do not want to stay there. The people are all about pleasure, Gavilan’s sister-in-law hitting on every man. Also there is a dreaded ghost from Dominic’s past, the evil, cruel, dreaded Captain Wade.

Ugh!!

Captain Wade was Dominic’s first Captain, and after seeing all the atrocities that he did, Dominic tried to leave as soon as he could and get his own boat. Now does he tell Maria-the most beautiful woman in the world and Captain Wade’s new interest all about this? No, he just tells her to stay away. And of course the fiery, stubborn, Maria does not like being told what to do.

From there they go East to Boston. Maria stays with Dominic’s family and faces not only an incredible culture shock being in Protestant East, but snubs and prejudice from being Latina and Catholic. Dominic’s father and sister try to treat her like family-but Dominic’s mother remembers the Catholic’s treatment of Protestants back in Ireland.

Dominic and Sally plan their wedding, and its decided to be sooner rather than later. Dominic still has feelings for Maria, head over heels in love-but Sally-loyal, dependable, sweet, and caring; has waited all these years for him.

Also reading this again, I felt that there was a strong undercurrent here of interesting class distinction. Sally’s father owns the ships Dominic captains, while Dominic’s father is a dockworker. Makes you wonder if marrying Sally had a little extra pressure…

Hmm…

Anyways, the wedding comes, and Maria is heartbroken. Dominic returns to his ships, Sally to their beautiful new house, and Maria is stuck in the frozen Boston and dreary Mason house.

Sally gets pregnant, and the pregnancy really treats her body rough. She calls in Maria to help her. No one else likes Maria-for being what she is, and Dominic’s mom senses the attraction, and all treat her bad-Maria not helping with the situation.

But not Sally. Sally loves Maria and encourages, supports, leads, and is there for her. She reads the bible with her, teaches her about God, and just gives her friendship. She gives her the titler psalm and becomes such a calming and sweet presence for her. Maria helps her with the pregnancy, along with taking care of baby Dominic “Nicky”.

When Dominic arrives, Nicky is 2 and Maria is the nanny. Sally has never recovered from her pregnancy and is not strong enough to care for Nicky on her own.

Dominic has made enough money that he has left his old business, struck out on his own, and is moving the family to San Francisco. He wants to take Maria back to her brother-but Sally won’t let her go. Sally is Maria’s best friend, and after she gets pregnant, does not want Maria to go. Dominic sets sail, taking his younger sister Chloe, hoping that she will take over Maria’s duties instead.

Unfortunately, delicate Sally does not survive the second child, and passes away. Maria tries to save the newborn, named after her, but she dies as well. Maria once again feels that she is carrying death to those she cares for.

Nooooooooooooooo

Maria finally makes it back to her brother. Roman lost the ranch as the Californios could not keep their property when California became a state, but Rachel inherited her father’s estate. They stay there for a while, Dominic realizing that he still is hopelessly in love with Maria and asks to marry her.

Maria agrees until Dominic is almost killed. She starts hearing voices telling her of death, and that she needs to leave him alone-go far away in order to protect him.

She returns to San Francisco and to Captain Wade. He turns out to be more than she bargained for-an abusive, cruel, demonic filled man. Will Maria die in this hell on Earth, or will she finally hear God’s voice and freedom?

I LOOOOOOOOOVED it!!! I really enjoyed the first book, but I found this one compelling. When I read the book the first time I couldn’t stop-page after page after page just whizzed past as I needed to find out what happened next.

Each time I have read it, that desire has not waned.

Of course reading the book after being in an abusive relationship, made the book just soooo relatable. It was powerful how she described how Maria was feeling, the hopelessness, wanting life to be over, the fear, feeling trapped, unsure of what to do…she just captured it.

There is a powerful scene when Captain Wade is attacking Maria and she starts praying and pulls out the gold crucifix, which stops the Captain Wade from doing anything further. This stuck such a cord with me as the last time I was with my ex-husband we were in the car together and he starts speeding down the freeway, in and out of lanes telling me that he is going to kill us both as he would rather have me dead then be apart from him. All I could do was pray and pray that God would save me-and my ex-husband stopped and I was able to get away. Thank God for that. The day I was legally divorced I heard on the radio the same thing happened to another woman, but she wasn’t as lucky-he crashed the car and killed her.

A powerful book that I strongly recommend.

For more book club books, go to Book Club Picks: Desperate Pastors’ Wives

For more by Paula Scott, go to Book Club Picks: Until the Day Breaks

For more bible verses, go to Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: The Widow of Larkspur Inn

For more Jane Austen quotes, go to Earl Grey Infused Blueberry Smoothie

On a sad note, given the context of this book I wanted to add this:

Are you being abused?

It’s abuse when someone who should care about you does or says things that hurt you or make you feel afraid, helpless or worthless. Here are only a few examples:

  • Slapping, hitting, punching, choking, grabbing, shoving, kicking you or your kids, your pets
  • Threatening you, your kids, friends, family or pets
  • Hitting, kicking, slamming walls, doors, furniture, possessions
  • Forcing you to have sex
  • Calling you names, swearing at you, yelling
  • Controlling all the money, even money you earn
  • Blaming you or your kids for everything
  • Putting you down, making you feel like nothing you do is ever good enough
  • Treating you like a servant or slave
  • Controlling where you go, what you do, what you wear
  • Controlling who you see, who you talk to
  • Humiliating you in front of other people
  • Refusing to let you leave the relationship

If you are in danger call 911, a local hotline, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.

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Why Everyone Should Read Gone With the Wind

B is for Best-Selling Novel

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Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

When it came to look for a Best-Seller to put on the list I decided to start first with 1916, as that book would be celebrating its 100th anniversary.

Double double yay

But I didn’t see any I was a very big fan of so I went to 1926. Nothing there as well.

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I decided I would then check 1936 and if I couldn’t find a book I was a fan of I would try 1896, then 1886, then 1876, and then go back to 1946 and on and on until I finally found something.

However, I stopped at 1936 with Gone With the Wind.

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Gone With the Wind was published in 1936 and at time sold 176,000 copies. It was a best seller in 1936 and 1937, winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1937, and by 1938 sold a million copies. In 1939 the film came out and the book sold two million copies.

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My first introduction to Gone With the Wind was when I first watched the film when a friend and I were going through AFI’s list of the best films. We made it to #15 before we became too busy and haven’t finished doing it since.

Oh well.

Oh well.

Anyways, I watched it and thought the movie was really good. The cinematography was absolutely stunning, it was full of good quotes, and Clark Gable was just amazing as Rhett Butler (funny thing is Margaret Mitchell didn’t want him as she thought he wasn’t handsome enough to be Rhett).

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I didn’t care for Scarlett as I thought she was a…

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And thought she was just horrible, not Vivian Leigh’s performance but her.

Then three years later, as it was on my reading list, I decided to read it, borrowing my mother’s copy. And when I read it I was amazed at how it was a truly fantastic book!

Mal_huh Whoa Wow what

And I believe that everyone should read it at least once.

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So the book is a huge epic! It follows the Irish O’Hara clan from the father’s immigration into the new world and settling in the South, the radical changes from the Antebellum period, to the Civil War, and the Reconstruction era.  At the heart of all this chaos is the story of the beautiful, ruthless Scarlett ‘O’ Hara and the dashing soldier of fortune, Rhett Butler.

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So let’s list off why one should read this book:

A) Shows How the Irish were Viewed in America

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So we start off with Gerald O’Hara, head of the clan. Back in Ireland he was a part of a Catholic Emancipation group, like the Ribbonmen or such and ends up having to flee because of his political activities. He comes to America and isn’t always treated very nicely, as the Irish weren’t. Often they were made fun off, not allowed in certain areas, and thought to be taking over jobs. He starts working in his brother’s store but what he really wants is land, the very land that was denied him back in Ireland as no Catholic Irish could ever own anything.

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He eventually wins a plantation in a poker game and spends a long time building it up and having it be one of the richest ones in the area. He then decides to marry, but while these Southern families enjoy his wealth and propsperity; none could ever think of marrying their daughter to an Irish immigrant who’s family is unknown. The only thing for him to do is try to find a woman somewhere else, as he returns to his brother for help in finding a bride.

Yes, most don’t realize this but the wealthy South wanted to be like the old manors of Europe. Be the master of the land with pure bloodlines of other wealthy families, not bringing any low class in, and very racist against any that weren’t established in their group. This kind of racism against the Irish and Catholics went much farther than the South and was seen all over the country. Many times Irishmen and women had the lowest class jobs, found it hard to get land and keep it, and found themselves competing against African Americans who would work for lower wages (in the North). While Gerald O’Hara does extremely well, a lot of Irish weren’t able to ever reach that, especially in the South at this time.

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B) Scarlet O’Hara

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Scarlett is a Southern women in the Antebellum period and has very little schooling. All that is expected of her is to marry well and have plenty of children. But Scarlet has always felt different and out of touch with the time she lives in.

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She is extremely intelligent and has great business acumen. In fact it is often remarked that if her brain had been born into a boy she would have been able to go far.

Scarlet doesn’t have life easy either. With the Civil War she finds herself becoming a nurse, a midwife, and eventually has to take on the plantation or risk starvation. Because of those experiences it makes her hard, as with the book we see how she is constantly worried if things will turn out alright, if they can make it, or if they will be back to starvation; everyone looking at her to take care of everything.

I don't know what to do

That is an incredible burden to be laid on a teenager (as she is about 17 or 18), let alone one who’s education was “how to look her prettiest”. She becomes tough because if she doesn’t, none of them will survive.

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When the home is attacked, she defends it shooting the deserter and protecting the home and people.

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Now she does steal her sister’s boyfriend, so she has faults, but she does it because she has foresight none of the others do. He has a hardware store, but when Scarlet takes over she also creates a lumber mill, triples the money, and is able to provide for everyone. Even though she accomplishes all this everyone still tells her she isn’t being a lady, running businesses and doing better than her husband. They try to convince her to stop, but she keeps on doing it. Using her “ladies mind” which contains a powerful way with numbers.

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She continues to be this strong, forceful woman throughout the rest of the novel; even though she does make a lot of bad personal decisions. Still, for a woman in the 1800s to have her own business, earn her own money, choose who she will marry (several times), is pretty awesome! She is a powerhouse of a character.

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C) Not as Racist as People Think

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People had slaves and if a book mentions it, that is not racist. In fact in this book the slaves aren’t really shown to be stupid, slow, or other clichés; except Lettie who is mentally disabled (something we understand more now than we did then). There is the house slave who didn’t want to work in the fields, but being a house slave was seen as better than an outdoor slave and slaves on the inside often treated the field slaves as being lower class.

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In fact this book isn’t racist to African Americans, but points out racism and hypocrisy that African Americans faced from those who were trying to free them. It is often remarked that while the North wanted the Southern slaves to be free, that did not mean they actually wanted to work with those freed slaves or have them near. There were plenty of racist people living in the North fighting for African American rights, but if they were near an African American they would still treat them cruelly. Mitchell points this out when the new Republicans brought in by Reconstruction say they would never have an African American nanny their children as they have “diseases” and “uncouth ways”. In fact they would much rather ship over an Irish immigrant than ever let their child be touched by someone black.

What jerks

What jerks

Many say that Mitchell started this “Mamie” stereotype  creating a myth that all Africans were pleased with being slaves; which Mitchell does not do. Like The Help, which by the way everyone loved and praised, she shows that because the nannies lived in the house and raised the children they sometimes became like family. It didn’t happen with everyone, but in this case Mamie was a mother to Scarlet more than her own mother.

Also people are all different and have their own views, even if they live in the same area. Mitchell presents a look at the many ways people regarded slavery; indifferent as Scarlet, necessary as Mr. O’Hara; and how some treat African Americans rudely, cruelly, or like family.

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D) The Person You Love are Not Always True

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Scarlet is in love with Ashley Wilkes, but they could never marry as her blood (Irish) is too inferior for the Wilkes family. He is to marry none other than his cousin, but instead of flat out saying that to Scarlett, Ashley likes how this beautiful woman who everyone wants loves him and leads Scarlett on, trying to make sure her “flames of love kept burning” because it made him feel good. He was such a jerk and a coward! I mean we’ve all had guys like that who say “they would make the commitment”, but their life isn’t quite together yet. They haven’t reached their plans. And then when you try to move on, they always snag you back, bemoaning that if only things were different; trying to get you to wait for them.

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They get their poisonious hook into you and keep you.

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My friend was in the snare of a guy like Ashley for three years. He would go on about how they couldn’t be together, she deserved someone better; but as soon as she started to move on or see other people he would pop in about how much he cared about her. Constantly stringing her along in this cycle.

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Thankfully she finally realized it or she would have been like Scarlett constantly pining after something she thought she needed when the real prize laid before her. It is horrible, and this book really teaches you the errors of being stuck on someones hook.

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E) Stop Looking to the Past

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Like most people, Scarlett gets stuck in the past. All she can do is think of Ashley and wish of Ashley.

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How many of us have had a broken heart and instead of realizing how that person wasn’t right and deciding to move on, we cling to the past dreaming, wishing hoping. How many of us waste our time like Scarlett?

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Scarlett was so consumed with her dreams and thoughts of the past that she was blind to the person who really loved her, that if she had only let her dream of Ashley die and stop mooning about him she would have seen how much better Rhett was for her.

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F) Never Be afraid to Say How You Feel

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Everyone talks about Scarlett’s blindness and how she was unable to see what she has but you know who was a real coward? Rhett! Rhett never told her he loved her until the very end. Maybe if he had not been so afraid to admit his real feelings and told her the truth about how he felt instead of distancing himself for the fear of her breaking his heart or lording over him, then they might have had a chance at true happiness.

Yes it can be hard to be vulnerable, or share your heart with others. Things can go very wrong of the person doesn’t care. But they can go just as bad of you say nothing and let the person you love pass you on by.

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G) Hold On to Tomorrow

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As Little orphan Annie says, “So you got to hang on ’til tomorrow, come what may!” Even after all she’s been through, Scarlett has an optimism that seems to go against everything else about her. She has faith that in tomorrow things can change. Life is hard now but in the flip of a dime it could turn out better. This kind of optimism we should instill in our life as well. Anything could happen tomorrow, don’t give up as things can get better.

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To start the 30 day challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

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For more on Gone With the Wind, go to At the End of the Rainbow: 17 More Irish Heroes

For more on Margaret Mitchell, go to I Will Survive

For more Ayn Rand quotes, go to The Power is Yours

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Today’s carol is O Little Town of Bethlehem. Phillip Brooks visited Bethlehem in 1865 and three years later wrote the poem, asking his organist Lewis Redner to write the music.

“As Christmas of 1868 approached, Mr. Brooks told me that he had written a simple little carol for the Christmas Sunday-school service, and he asked me to write the tune to it. The simple music was written in great haste and under great pressure. We were to practice it on the following Sunday. Mr. Brooks came to me on Friday, and said, ‘Redner, have you ground out that music yet to “O Little Town of Bethlehem”? I replied, ‘No,’ but that he should have it by Sunday. On the Saturday night previous my brain was all confused about the tune. I thought more about my Sunday-school lesson than I did about the music. But I was roused from sleep late in the night hearing an angel-strain whispering in my ear, and seizing a piece of music paper I jotted down the treble of the tune as we now have it, and on Sunday morning before going to church I filled in the harmony. Neither Mr. Brooks nor I ever thought the carol or the music to it would live beyond that Christmas of 1868.”

Amazing. Now it is famous and such a part of the festive year. My favorite version is the Nat King Cole one.

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For more Christmas carols, go to We Wish You A Merry Christmas

Dracula. Not Myth, Nor Ravings of a Mad Irish Novelist, Oh No, He’s Real: Dracula 2000 (2000)

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Dracula. Dracula: not myth, nor ravings of a mad Irish novelist, oh no. He’s real, I assure you.

A long time ago, AMC used to do Fear Fridays. Every friday night at 8 they would show a horror film, and not stop until early Saturday morning. But then they pushed it back to 9, then 10, then 11, then 12, then 1 am, then 2 am; still calling it Fear Friday although it was actually Saturday morning. And then they just stopped doing it, which deeply saddened me as I saw many a good, creepy film those Friday nights.

Why did it end?

Why did it end?

This however, wasn’t one of those good movies.

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My sister and I saw this on one of those Friday nights and I hated this film. I thought it was dumb, stupid, boring, made no sense and couldn’t hold a candle to Bela Lugosi in Dracula (1931). And I vowed to never see it ever again.

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Last week, my friend and I were having a horror film marathon. We saw Once Bitten and then were in the mood for a more serious film. She was going through the list and wanted to see Dracula 2000 as she has never seen it before. I was like

No thank youhowaboutno

She then asked me what the film was about, if I could give her a summary, and I tried to tell her…

Uhhhhhhh

Uhhhhhhh

But I couldn’t remember. The only thing I could think of was that it had Johnny Lee Miller (who played Mr. Knightley in Emma (2009) and Edmund Bertram in Mansfield Park (1999) as the regular person thrust in the adventure (the only character I liked); Gerald Butler as Dracula (the reason I watched it the first time) but he was so young that it didn’t even look like him and I hated his character; a weird scene in the record store; and that I hated it. Why did I hate it, I couldn’t remember. The movie must have been so horrible I just wiped it from my memory banks.

Where

Since I couldn’t remember it, and thought maybe I was too harsh a judge, we decided to watch it and see if it was different this go round.

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I HATED IT!

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I thought it was horrible and stupid. So you know what that means! A countdown!!! Yes, let’s go over everything I liked (barely anything) to everything I hated (practically everything!)

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Synopsis:

The film is supposed to be Dracula set in modern times rather than 1831, so the year is 2000. In London, Matthew Van Helsing (Abraham’s descendent) has an antique store in which he is training Simon (Johnny Lee Miller). That night everyone but Matthew goes home, and unbeknownst to him his secretary Solina is part of a ring of thieves that breaks into his vault. They find nothing in there but crosses and a coffin, taking it as it must be valuable.

But something terrible lurks inside.

But something terrible lurks inside.

When Matthew discovers the theft, he goes after them, leaving Simon to watch over the business. However, Simon is worried about his mentor and follows him instead.

The thieves open the coffin and reveal that it is Dracula (Gerald Butler) who turns them all into vampires.

Renfield: He came and stood below my window in the moonlight. And he promised me things, not in words, but by doing them. Van Helsing: Doing them? Renfield: By making them happen. A red mist spread over the lawn, coming on like a flame of fire! And then he parted it, and I could see that there were thousands of rats, with their eyes blazing red,l ike his, only smaller. Then he held up his hand, and they all stopped, and I thought he seemed to be saying: "Rats! Rats! Rats! Thousands! Millions of them! All red-blood! All these will I give you! If you will obey me!" Van Helsing: What did he want you to do? Renfield: That which has already been done! [giggles sinisterly]

Renfield: He came and stood below my window in the moonlight. And he promised me things, not in words, but by doing them.
Van Helsing: Doing them?
Renfield: By making them happen. A red mist spread over the lawn, coming on like a flame of fire! And then he parted it, and I could see that there were thousands of rats, with their eyes blazing red,l ike his, only smaller. Then he held up his hand, and they all stopped, and I thought he seemed to be saying: “Rats! Rats! Rats! Thousands! Millions of them! All red-blood! All these will I give you! If you will obey me!”
Van Helsing: What did he want you to do?
Renfield: That which has already been done!
[giggles sinisterly]

He then heads to New Orleans, LA. There lives Mary Heller, a devout Catholic, who has had strange dreams/visions her whole life but they seem worse now than ever before. She keeps seeing this man, unsure of who he is, but us viewers know him as Dracula.

Dracula

Simon and Matthew team up and try to destroy the new vampires, Simon originally shocked but after being attacked admits they are real. Matthew then reveals his secret, he is really Abraham Van Helsing, the Van Helsing.

Count Dracula: Van Helsing. [Van Helsing turns to face Count Dracula] Count Dracula: Now that you have learned what you have learned, it would be well for you to return to your own country. Van Helsing: I prefer to remain and protect those whom you would destroy. Count Dracula: You are too late. My blood now flows through her veins. She will live through the centuries to come, as I have lived. Van Helsing: Should you escape us, Dracula. We know how to save Miss Mina's soul if not her life. Count Dracula: If she dies by day. But I shall see that she dies by night. Van Helsing: And I will have Carfax Abbey torn down, stone by stone, excavated a mile around. I will find your earth-box and drive that stake through your heart. Count Dracula: Come here. [Dracula raises his hand to hypnotise Van Helsing] Count Dracula: Come here...Your will is strong, Van Helsing. [Van Helsing reaches out for his crucifix as Dracula looms toward him] Count Dracula: More wolfbane? Van Helsing: More effective than wolfbane, Count. Count Dracula: Indeed. [Dracula lunges towards Van Helsing. Van Helsing holds up the crucifix. Dracula snarls and turns away. Van Helsing, in triumph, puts away the crucifix]

[Dracula lunges towards Van Helsing. Van Helsing holds up the crucifix. Dracula snarls and turns away. Van Helsing, in triumph, puts away the crucifix]

When he discovered nothing worked to kill Dracula, he imprisoned him in a coffin and took his blood to keep him young as he continued to try to find a way to destroy him. He was married and they had a daughter Mary, and in her blood is Dracula’s blood. When he told his wife the whole story, she left him and took his daughter to America.

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Dracula has lost his male vampires, but has three wives: Solina, the secretary; Valerie, a news reporter; and Lucy, Mary’s best friend. Simon and Helsing split up to look for Mary, Helsing being killed by Dracula and the wives at Mary’s house. Simon finds Mary and they escape, only for Mary to be captured later. Simon tries to help her; but is no match for all the vampires.

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Before Dracula turns Mary into a vampire, he reveals that he is Judas Iscariot and that is why he hates silver and crosses. He tried to hang himself, but the “rope broke” and God turned him into a vampire.

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I know. He turns Mary into a vampire, but I guess her already vampire blood counteracts it as she is not his slave.

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She saves Simon, kills Dracula, and decides to continue the family business (although if she killed Dracula it is over) turning into a female Blade, kinda-sorta.

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So What Was Good?

There was only one thing I liked in this entire film, and that was Johnny Lee Miller’s character, Simon.

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Simon was extremely likable because he was just a regular person thrown into this situation and trying to make sense of it. All his reactions are spot on to when he thinks people are crazy to finally becoming a butt-kicking vampire hunter. He is kind, compassionate, caring, intelligent, and extremely witty.

Marcus: [Simon produces a cross] Sorry sport. I’m an atheist.

Simon Sheppard: [a dagger pops out of the cross’ base] God loves you anyway.

The other thing I like about him was how he represented the everyman or everywoman. Here is a guy who has read old inscriptions, heard stories, studied antique weaponry, etc; but studying and hearing it is much different than having to use it, have the myths be real, and be expected to hunt down vampires. He tries his best as he discovers this new reality, and even though he makes mistakes, all is forgiven as he is us, the viewer, in a sense. I thought he was fun and the best thought out thing in the film.

I like it!

I like it!

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So What Was Bad?

Everything else. Seriously, I mean it. The rest of the film was absolutely horrid.

1) Too Many Stars

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Like Scre4m it is hard to focus on a plot of a film when you are being hit right and left with people who are really famous. In every scene it felt more like a game of “Which Star Will Pop Up Next” rather than watching a film about Dracula. I mean we have Shane West, Christopher Plummer, Johnny Lee Miller, Omar Epps, Nathan Fillion, Vitamin C, etc. When casting you really have to be careful and not have too many recognizable people, or else your audience will be going bug-eyed.

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2) For a Dracula film there isn’t a lot of Dracula in it.

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Dracula is supposed to be about Dracula; but Dracula actually has a small role in this film. And unlike previous films, Dracula wasn’t even played by a big star with top billing; instead they choose Gerald Butler who had very little on his acting resume at the time this film was made. To me that is incredibly strange as he is the main character, THE TITLE CHARACTER. He should be the star, the biggest personality. Instead Dracula has very little dialogue and spends most of his time just creepily staring at people.

He's creepin' in your windows. He's starin' at your people.

He’s creepin’ in your windows. He’s starin’ at your people.

I didn’t like that, not one bit. As much as I disliked Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and I did a lot, at least that one knew what to focus on, DRACULA! It was a weird decision made by the writers, and a bad one.

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3) Mary, Mary Quite Boring

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Mary was so boring! I mean it what a yawnfest. All she did was cower, snivel, and act as if she was going to have a breakdown. Her character was bland and completely underdeveloped other than “good”, “Catholic”, and “British”. Now don’t get me wrong, the breakdown character can work but only in films where it is about psychological damage, like Rebecca, Gaslight or Under Capricorn, not a monster movie. In this type of film that kind of behavior is boring!

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4) Taking Blood to Live Longer, Yet He Doesn’t Become a Vampire

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In the book Dracula, the way to have someone become a vampire is to give them vampire blood. In this film Van Helsing keeps transfusing vampire blood into his body to live longer, but doesn’t become a vampire. That makes zero sense! If you ingest vampire blood you are a vampire. Pure and simple.

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5) Dracula is Judas

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Yes. It turns out the reason Dracula hates silver, crosses, bibles, Christianity, etc…is because he is Judas.

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Why would God turn him into a vampire? Why would God create a being that cannot be killed but kill his people making their souls unable to move on? That is just unbelievably dumb.

I mean if the devil was the one who did it, it would still be really dumb, but make a lil’ more sense.

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So yes it was dumb, incredibly dumb. Just stupid and horribly boring. My advice? Just skip it.

And after we finished the film, I asked my friend “What do you think of it?” Her response:

You as in the film

You as in the film

So there you go, not just me.

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To start Horrorfest V from the beginning, go to Who You Gonna Call?: Ghostbusters (1984)

For the previous post, go to I’m…a Werewolf: Teen Wolf (1985)

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For more Dracula, go to We’ve Seen Dracula, the Wolf Man, and Frankenstein’s Monster: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

For more vampire films, go to I Don’t Want to Be a Vampire. I’m a Day Person: Once Bitten (1985)

For more on Judas Iscariot, go to The Arrest

For more modern remakes, go to Heroes are Not Born, They’re Created: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

For more sucky remakes, go to Every Three Thousand Years, the Stars Align. Unleashing an Army of Monsters: TMNT (2007)

For more Gerald Butler, go to Pot o’ Gold: 17 Irish Heroes

Pot o’ Gold: 17 Irish Heroes

Hey everyone! Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

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So like I mentioned before, I wanted to do something to honor Saint Patrick’s Day but I didn’t really feel it was possible to do 17 posts about Irish-themed films as I wasn’t sure I could think of 17 films. Instead I decided to do something similar to the Chinese New Year Post and I am going to honor 17 awesome Irishmen and women from books and movies.

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17) Joseph Donnelly from Far and Away

Joseph Donnelly (Tom Cruise) is a poor Irishman, who after his father’s death could no longer pay the high rent. After his family farm is burned down, he goes off to take his revenge on the landlord Daniel Christie. That attempt fails, and by some strange coincidence he finds himself being a valet to Christie’s daughter Shannon on her voyage to America. What was thought as being a temporary arrangement becomes more permanent, as all of Shannon’s things are stolen and she finds herself becoming dependent on Joseph for survival. With the two masquerading as brother and sister they start working in the factories to earn enough money to buy land West. As the two continue to work in America they find out that their road West will not be an easy one.

Why Joseph is awesome:

Now I love Tom Cruise in everything he is in; as I find him to be a superb actor and very good-looking. So of course I loved him in this. Besides the fact that he is played by Tom Cruise,  Joseph is a great character. Joseph is an amazing guy because of his patience and compassion. He cares for the spoiled Shannon, which is no easy feat. If I was Joseph I would have left that mean and spiteful thing to fend for herself. However, he eagerly tries to make her happy and when they reach their lowest point and Joseph cannot provide for her, he returns her to her family; sacrificing his love and happiness to save her life.

Besides that, he is hilarious. His “I do not wish to fight you” lines always leave me rolling with laughter. Plus you gotta love a tough scrapper.

For more on Far and Away go to With a Little Luck of the Irish: 17 More Irish Heroes

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16) Fiona O’Shea from The Widow of Larkspur Inn by Lawana Blackwell

After the death of her husband, newly-widowed Julia Hollis finds herself being evicted from her home and losing everything. Her only option is to move herself and her three children, Philip, Adele, and Grace to the country side and turn the old Larkspur Inn into a lodging house. Aided by her butler and joined by her trusty maid and friend Fiona O’Shea, she sets out to try and secure a good life for herself and her family.

Why Fiona is awesome:

While Fiona isn’t the main character, she is one of the best ones in there. Fiona is a girl that has had many trials and tribulations, yet still has a caring, sweet demeanor and a heart of gold. At a young age her father traded her to another man for a goat. Even though Fiona was legally married, her role in the household consisted of her being more of a slave than a wife. Forced to cook, clean, and care for his children; Fiona only hangs on through her faith in Christ. After she loses her child, Fiona bravely takes off for England in hopes of a better life. There she serves under Julia, becoming more than a servant; a best friend. Giving up the security of a job, she follows Julia to Larkspur Inn, knowing that without her help there Julia would never survive.

At the hotel, she becomes head housekeeper and cares for everyone who comes through the doors; helping all to feel loved and welcomed. She even goes to see the Keegans, an Irish family that is shunned by almost the entire village for being Irish and Catholic.

Through her kindness and compassion she is able to help heal one of the lodgers, Mr. Ambrose Clay, an actor who suffers from depression. While the two love each other, Fiona remains true to her vows, and instead of risking any destruction to the progress made in Mr. Clay’s case; she leaves Larkspur Inn. Throughout the whole book Fiona’s compassion and selfishness makes you want to be just like her. In the end her husband dies and she and Mr. Clay are able to be reunited with each other and their old friends.

For more on The Widow of Larkspur Inn, go to Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: The Widow of Larkspur Inn

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15) Kyle Johnson from Luck of the Irish

Disney used to play this film every March 17th, and I am so glad as it is hilarious. Kyle is the golden child; captain of the basketball team, straight-A student, and Lady Luck always seems to be smiling down at him. However, that all changes when Kyle’s lucky coin is stolen from him. He then discovers that his mother’s family are leprechauns and that the coin held their family luck, also allowing them to walk about the Earth looking like normal humans. With his mom shrinking, and him becoming shorter and more leprechauny every minute, he sets out to track down the thief and restore his family luck.

Why Kyle is awesome:

I must confess that when I first watched this movie back in 2001, I had the hugest crush on Ryan Merriman. Besides that, I always thought Kyle was cool because of how he grows as a person when things are no longer easy for him; we see a real strength of character and a heart of gold. When he finds the stolen coins, instead of taking them all, like his grandpa suggests, he just takes his, even though he could have been very lucky and wealthy. Then there are his mad dancing skills he exhibits in the competition against the evil Seamus McTiernen. But most of all, it is when he passes the basketball to his friend in the last game, instead of making the shot-he gives his friend the glory, something the old Kyle never would have thought of doing. Plus you have to admire his wittiness to sending Seamus  to Lake Erie, Ohio instead of Lake Eire, Ireland.

For more Luck of the Irish, go to Friday Night Fun

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14) Sean Thornton from The Quiet Man

The Quiet Man tells the story of Irish-American born boxer, Sean “Trooper Thorn” Thornton (John Wayne), returning to Ireland to regain his family land. What no one but Father Lonergan knows is that Thornton killed a man in the ring, and decided to give up boxing and fighting for good. While in Ireland, Thornton falls for the feisty, traditional Mary Kate Danagher (Maureen O’Hara). Thornton wants to date her, but has to go through all the traditional methods of courtship, something extremely foreign to him.

Why Sean Thornton is awesome:

Just going to get it out of the way, but the fact that he is played by John Wayne earned him a spot on this list. But seriously, Thornton is awesome because while he feels all the rules of courtship and hoops he has to jump through are silly, he still does them because he loves Mary Kate and knows that it is what she wants-he lays down his pride to make her happy. Later, when her brother is being spiteful and withholds her dowry, he goes out to purchase everything she wanted with his own money. What an amazing guy! Of course Maureen O’Hara plays a spitfire who cannot see the goodness of Thornton’s actions as clearly as us movie audience members.

For more on The Quiet Man, go to With a Little Luck of the Irish: 17 More Irish Heroes

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13) Gerry from P.S. I Love You

After Holly’s husband Gerry dies of a brain tumor, she becomes so depressed that she doesn’t want to live anymore. To her surprise she begins receiving letters from Gerry, these letters encouraging her and eventually helping her heal and move on in her life.

Why Gerry is awesome:

Gerry is the ultimate husband. How amazing is it that he spent so much of his last moments constructing all these messages to send his wife to help her after he was gone. Such a selfless man to be considering her needs above his.

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12) Tom Branson from Downtown Abbey

Irish chauffer that wins the heart of the Earl’s youngest daughter Sybil. Hotheaded and very into politics and speaking his mind on the subject.

Why Tom Branson is awesome:

At first I disliked Branson. Sybil was my favorite character and I felt that he wasn’t good enough for her as he was an anarchist and trying to free Ireland from the English’s rule through violence. But after the two marry and Sybil dies in childbirth I began to like him better. He became more subdued and realized that his destructive thoughts might not really be the best thing. He helped Matthew with the reforms on estate, utilizing his farming skills and helping the home flourish. One of the best things he does though, is stay with the family so they have full access to baby Sybil. I mean it would have been so easy to be selfish and take the baby far away, but he knows that the rest of the family is hurting for their missing member and while Baby Sybil will never replace the hole her mother left, she can help repair it.

For more on Tom Branson and Downton Abbey, go to Fantastic Fantasies

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11) Micky Ward from The Fighter

The Fighter is based on the story of Micky Ward. It chronicles his desire to become a big-time boxer, the struggle with his brother’s drug addiction, the trials of having his mother manage him, attempts at staying connected to his daughter, his developing relationship with Charlene Fleming, and his journey to reach the top.

Why Micky Ward is awesome:

Ignoring the fact that he is played by Mark Wahlberg, Micky’s story is something that everyone can connect to. We all have the dream to make something of ourselves and here we have a man who kept trying and eventually did it. He had some hard times, he almost gave up, but in the end he kept on swingin’. The only travesty is that this film failed to win the oscar (I mean it was much better than The King’s Speech) along with the evil academy completely snubbing Wahlberg by nominating everyone but him. He totally should have received a nom, at least in my opinion. I highly recommend it as it is a great movie with one amazing soundtrack.

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10) Blarney Kilakilarney from A Leprechaun’s Christmas Gold

Blarney Kilakilarney is the leprechaun narrator of A Leprechaun’s Christmas Gold. In the film young cabin boy, Dinky Doyl, is shipwrecked on an uncharted, Irish, Leprechaun-filled, island. As it is Christmas, he searches the place for the perfect tree to cut down for his celebration. Unwittingly, when he chops that tree down he releases Old Mag the Hag, the evil banshee after the Kilakilarney clans’ gold. The wee folk with the help of Dinky must find a way to stop her.

Why Blarney Kilakilarney is awesome:

First of all, Blarney is adorable. Look at his wee little spectacles and adorable little face. Besides that, he is kind and caring. Even though Dinky manages to make plenty of screw-ups, Blarney is merciful and doesn’t parade his mistakes or criticize him.  He’s the type of person one is always eager to have as a friend.

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9) Reilly O’Reilly from The Luck of the Irish

Disney used to play this film every March 17th, and I am so glad as it is hilarious. Kyle is the golden child; captain of the basketball team, straight-A student, and Lady Luck always seems to be smiling down at him. However, that all changes when Kyle’s lucky coin is stolen from him. He then discovers that his mother’s family are leprechauns and that the coin held their family luck, also allowing them to walk about the Earth looking like normal humans. With his mom shrinking, and him becoming shorter and more leprechauny every minute, he sets out to track down the thief and restore his family luck.

Why Reilly O’Reilly is awesome:

Well besides being a 200 year old leprechaun, he traveled to America a poor immigrant and worked hard to establish a successful potato chip factory. Not to mention he can play the flute, has a trunkful of shoes to repair, and glorious white beard that Gandalf and Dumbledore would be jealous of, and loves to follow rainbows. True he had a disagreement with his daughter over her marriage, but that all gets resolved in the end. Besides, he helps Bonny be able to play basketball by securing her an internship at his factory and getting her father off her back.

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8) Father Charles “Chuck” O’Malley from Going My Way

Going My Way tells the story of the young Priest, Father O’Malley, clashing with the older priest, Father Fitzgibbon, in trying to help the church, Saint Dominic’s. At first Father Fitzgibbon hates the way Father O’Malley is running things, but in time sees that what Father O’Malley is doing, is actually helping the church be stronger.

Why Father O’Malley is awesome:

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, having this particular actor play the part just made the film. Bing Crosby is amazing as Father O’Malley, not just because of his singing voice but how he is able to put such excitement and energy into the character.  Father O’Malley not only cares for the children in his choir and the parishioners; but also for the older Father Fitzgibbon. He is there for everyone and always lends a helping hand.

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7) Banshee AKA Sean Cassidy from X-Men

Banshee is an Irish mutant that has a sonic scream that enables him to harm other’s auditory systems and create vibrations. These vibrations enable him to fly as they help propel him upward. He first joins the X-Men in 1975 when Xavier is recreating the team. Replacing Angel, the Beast, Iceman, and Marvel Girl  with Banshee, Sunfire, Wolverine,  Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus and Thunderbird. He later meets up with Dr. Moira MacTaggert and falls in love with her.

Why Banshee is awesome:

Being an X-men automatically makes you one of the cool crew. I mean if you haven’t read the comics then you can’t really understand how Banshee’s character is so likable. He’s just one of those characters you fall in love with. But stick to the original comics, the newer ones and alternate dimensions always screw up the things you love.

They managed to do a pretty good job of representing him in the new X-Men movie, X-Men: First Class. My only problem was that they made him too young.

For more on X-Men go to Push All the Buttons!

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6) Priest Vallon from Gangs of New York

While only in the first few minutes of the film, Priest Vallon sets up the rest of the plot. It is the year 1846 and the “Natives” (American born) are about to have a West Side Storyian type rumble with Dead Rabbits (Irish Catholic immigrants). The leader of the Natives is Bill the Butcher (Daniel Day-Lewis who I absolutely adore) and the leader of the Dead Rabbits being Vallon (Liam Neeson who is also amazing). Battle ensues and Vallon is killed by The Butcher. Vallon’s son Amsterdam (Leonardo DiCaprio) vows to avenge his father’s death.

Why Priest Vallon is awesome:

Hello, its LIAM NEESON! Dare I really say more? No, but really even though we only have a few minuets of him in the film, throughout it he is revealed to be an honorable man, kind, compassionate, and super tough. Even if Amsterdam and Bill didn’t sing his praises throughout the film, you would still get the same sense of what a great man he is from those few scenes of him.

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5) Mr. Connors from Behind the Waterfall

Behind the Waterfall is a Feature Family Film, a company that creates film fit for the whole family. The movie is about two siblings, Tommy and his older sister Becky, who are sent to stay with their aunt for the summer after the death of their father. While they are there they met Irishmen Mr. Conners, who Tommy is convinced is a leprechaun and can bring their father back. With Mr. Conners’ help, the two kids come to terms with their father’s death and are able to move on.

Why Mr. Conners is awesome:

For an older man who really enjoys his privacy, he puts up with a lot of Tommy’s silly notions. He becomes a father figure to him and helps him see that while he can’t bring his father back, he can always carry him in his heart. Plus when Tommy is convinced that he is a leprechaun, Mr. Conners kind of plays along. By the end of it, he has you wondering if he really is a leprechaun or just an elderly man.

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4) Matthew Murdock AKA Daredevil from Daredevil 

Matthew Murdock is a young Irishman growing up in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City. After an encounter with radioactive substances (they fell off a moving truck) he loses his sight. From there on he is mentored on how to see the world through his other senses, gaining super sensitivity. After the death of his father he becomes a lawyer by day and superhero extraordinaire by night.

Why Matt Murdock AKA Daredevil is awesome:

Well it’s DAREDEVIL! How is he not cool? Grew up in Hell’s Kitchen and despite that neighborhood and blindness, he is able to become a lawyer and superhero. While he can’t see, his other senses have heightened making him  truly terrible foe. I mean how much cooler can you get?

He totally does the whole Clark Kent thing too, but in a much less annoying way. (Pretends to be helpless so no one suspects his other identity.) Only Marvel could come up with a character this amazing. (I love DC, but in comparison Marvel has some much better superheroes.)

I must admit that though I absolutely love Ben Affleck, the Daredevil film was not as good as it could have been. Ben was amazing as Matt, but some of the other characters were poorly portrayed. And I hate how they kill off his amazing villain. I hate it when they kill off these super-awesome villains in the first movie! I mean, hello, don’t you think it would be better to keep them alive so they can be in the sequels?

For more on Daredevil, go to Old Fandoms and New Fancies

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3) Stephen the Irishman from Braveheart

Braveheart tells the story of William Wallace‘s fight for freedom. After an English lord tries to rape his wife, and kills her; Wallace starts a rebellion against King Edward I of England (AKA Edward Longshanks). 

Why Stephen is awesome:

Stephen is an Irishman that Wallace comes across in the woods. While at first he seems a little addled he proves his mettle by killing an assassin trying to murder Wallace. He ends up one of Wallace’s right hand men and is one the best and hilarious characters in the movie. One of the best scenes is when he convinces the conscripted Irishmen to fight on behalf of Scotland instead of England. King Edward I sends out the Irishman, and is extremely surprised to find that instead of fighting they are cordially greeting the Scottish.

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2) Marty McFly from Back to the Future 

I love Marty! Marty is sooooooooo awesome! The only reason he isn’t number one is because how could I put anyone over Saint Patrick in a Saint Patrick’s Day honoring post? That makes no sense.

Anyways, so Back to the Future is about a guy, Marty McFly, who accidentally goes back in time in a time machine built by his friend, Dr. Emmet “Doc” Brown. When he gets there he accidentally changes the future by causing his parents to not meet. Now he has to get them back together or else he will cease to exist.

Why Marty is Awesome:

Well first of all, Marty is played by Michael J. Fox, I mean already his level of awesomeness is through the roof. Michael J. Fox is just gorgeous and has an amazing voice. But I digress…well Marty is the essence of cool. He plays guitar, has his own band, wears great clothes, etc. He also is loyal friend and great guy. Others may see Doc as crazy, but Marty looks past all the rumors and befriends the eccentric guy. He is also brave, willing to take down those stronger than him and do some crazy stunts in order to protect the people he loves.

Now he isn’t without his faults, but that just makes you love him more as he just seems so real. He hates being disrespected which does cause him to do some stupid stuff. He also can give up easily on things, or try to take the easy way out; but these are all things he is working on. By the end of the trilogy we see a lot of growth in him as he has learned how to be a better person.

As you may have guessed by now, I love this film. It is my absolute fav so Marty is high in my best fictional guys list.

For more on Back to the Future go to The Clock is Ticking!

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1) Sucat AKA Patrick from Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander

So of course Patrick has to be number one on the list, after all the day is named after him. I mean how could I not put him first?

So the story of Time Cat is that Gareth, the cat, takes his master Jason on nine adventures through time. They travel from the ancient Egypt all the way to Colonial America. Along the way they stop in Ireland 411 BC

Why Patrick is Awesome:

In the story Patrick was a slave brought to Ireland and is one of the few to stand up to the evil magician Lugad who is trying to control the king and retain a high position by utilizing the superstitions of the area to his best advantage. He’s smart, educated, brave, but also loyal. He saves Jason and Gareth from being killed and goes off to help everyone in Ireland.

“It’s a curious thing,’ he said, ‘but I have come to love this country even as a slave…I understand now what I must do…I shall go into the world…I shall learn and bring back what I learn. There shall be no more need for magicians then.”–Time Cat, pg 70.

The real Saint Patrick actually did those things, going throughout Ireland teaching the gospel and helping educate people. In many of his sermons he used the three-leaf clover as a symbol of the Holy Trinity, that’s why it became such a symbol on his day. March 17th was when he died, and that is why we honor him, although lately, it has become more of an excuse to get as drunk as you want.

For more Lloyd Alexander, go to I’m No Warrior, I’m an Assistant Pig-Keeper: The Black Cauldron (1985)

I hope you all have a great holiday, and don’t forget to wear green! I always do as there are many out there who like to pinch the non-wearers.

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