Sunday, August 28, 2016

Pete's Dragon (2016) Review

Okay, it's been about a week since I saw this movie so it's not exactly fresh in my memory...I'm actually way more excited about another movie that just arrived on my radar (The Little Prince, 2016 coming up), so we'll see how focused this review is.

The story: Pete is left alone as a small child in the forest after a car crash and he befriends a dragon named Elliot, who is the victim of townspeople' prejudice. If you've seen the classic 1977 movie, yep, that's the plot.

Good or bad? 

*clicks fingers at my amateur-film-critic-minions* Bring in the Black Mambaaaaaaaaaaa!

Bad! This movie was bad.

Muahahaha, that's so satisfying to say! I love having a strong negative opinion on things because usually I really like them or I'm sort of indifferent, but this was just an awful movie. It was failed to keep my interest, so much so that I actually started wondering, "When is this going to end?", which is a rare experience for me.  

I'll talk about the good stuff first, though. The good thing was that it had Bones in it *swoons*
Those who aren't familiar with that character in the new Star Trek movies will know him as the bad guy in Red or as...I dunno, some guy. He's not super handsome or anything but I love his acting for some reason. And I like the shape of his face. (It's a thing. Some face shapes are just nice to look at.)

The sass!

Anyway, he does a great job with the limited reactionary, greedy part that the moviemakers gave him. He does not, however, come close to the wonderful hokeyness of the villain from the '70s version:

Why don't they make musicals like this anymore? These lyrics are fantastic.   xD

So yes, the main perk of this movie is that Bones was in it. The flying scenes and the forest were gorgeous, though. And Lindsey Stirling and the Lumineers were in the soundtrack, the awesomeness of which cannot be ignored. Also, the first scene was beautiful. So don't get me wrong, I did like some things about this film.

Ya ready for the bad stuff yet? Here we go: 

I grew up with the old version, so I'm definitely biased, but objectively I really don't think this movie was very good. The plot was thin--even thinner than the '70s plot, which is hard to believe. They actually cut out that wonderful side plot with the main woman, Nora, waiting for her fiancĂ©. ("I'l be your candle on the water. My love for you will always burn...") They also cut out the side plot with her bar-frequenting father, which is understandable but disappointing.

In addition there is very little character development, which was perhaps the main thing that made this movie seem lacking. I love seeing characters grow and change, and I have trouble caring about a story if it's not character-driven. Pete is the same throughout, as with the other wooden child actor and the adults who all act either concerned, terrified, or angry.

The old movie, in my opinion, was good because it covered these character and plot problems with awesome songs. Seriously, who can beat the lyrics of songs like "Passamaquoddy"?

The songs reflected the soul of the '70s version, too: lighthearted, not trying to be anything more than a cheesy family movie. Case in point:

I love this version of Elliot.  :)
The 2016 remake changed the feel of the movie to that of a depressing slice-of-life drama, which made it drag and exaggerated the thin plot and acting. I left the theater feeling down, which defeats the purpose of watching a movie in my opinion. I think even the saddest movies are feel-good, if they're any good, because they have some sort of redemptive message. The only message I got out of this was that certain fixtures of the environment can be saved (such as dragons). 

It could have used more jingle-jangle sound. (Oh yeeeeeaaaaaah!)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Back-to-school something-or-other

That's the reaction of most of my friends to the beginning of another school year, but personally I'm always super excited until one or two days into the school week, and then I realize that this school year is just as hard as the previous ones if not harder. So I basically have the same reaction of everyone else, just delayed.

Sorry, I really don't know where to go with this because I just wanted to get a post out for the beginning of school, and I'm super tired right now...

Oh yeah, I should talk about procrastination. That's the biggest problem I have with homeschooling--after I've been doing math for five minutes I usually end up thinking "Oh, I should just go check my email for a sec..." and I end up going on YouTube, Pinterest, and essentially everything except my email.

Then the vicious cycle repeats.

This being my final year of high school, I want to use it to defeat the habit of procrastination and to get used to controlling my own schedule. So I taped these slides on the window by my desk (from a guy who gave a TED talk on procrastination--highly recommended, but I'm too tired to add a link--you can find it):

It's a good point, because when I'm procrastinating whatever I end up doing tends to be pointless and contaminated by feelings of dread and guilt. It really makes no sense.

So yeah, on that happy note, have an amazing school year! Or if you're not in school, have an amazing rest of 2016 because that's how normal people count their years.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'll go faceplant on my bed.

Oh, and if you have any thoughts on school, procrastination, or hedgehogs, feel free to comment!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

In Which I Rant about a Pinterest Post

So, I was sitting in my computer chair (probably in my "comfort" posture, which is when one leg is tucked in with the knee leaning up against the armrest--my parents think I'm crazy for this and for many other reasons) and browsing Pinterest when this showed up.

I don't know who Elizabet(h?) Scott is, but in case she reads this blog post, I'm sorry, Elizabet(h?). I just want to correct this little thing here and I'm sure you're a cool person, it's just that this quote makes my blood pressure rise every time I see it.

Seriously, I saw this Pin and was nodding happily with the first sentence but then when I read the rest of it I was so upset that I saved it and thought, "I NEED to write a blog post about this." So here's my rant.

No, I wasn't just annoyed by the incomplete quotation marks. What concerned me was the philosophy behind the quote: namely, that fiction is way more interesting than real life, and therefore it's better to immerse yourself in fiction than to immerse yourself in your life.

This has always been one of my greatest temptations. When I discovered The Hobbit for the first time I read it over and over, trying to ignore the outside world as much as possible.

How about a card game?


I could never resist a world where anything could happen, where there were dwarves and courage and enchantments.

If you think about it though, the problem with living in fiction is that nothing can happen. 

Really, immersing myself in fiction to fulfill my desire for adventure was like trying to satisfy my desire for meat by eating tofu (no offense, vegetarians). The real adventure was right in front of my face, if I would just look up from my book's latest cliffhanger.

I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with fiction, I just think it's important to keep in mind...well, Gandalf (ironically) says it better: 

I like to think that when you and I were born that was God's way of saying, "I'm looking for someone to share in an adventure." 

The kind of adventure in which we can make a difference, in which we're not relegated to the sidelines watching other people make decisions in the world of a book or movie. The kind of adventure in which every action matters, in which every decision leads us closer to Him who loved us into existence, or further away.

Let's see the literary genres beat that.

(I can't resist leaving you with Stephen Curtis Chapman's Home." Take it away, Stephen!)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Mr. Holmes Review

Ok, you got me. I'm writing this review just so I can cover my blog with pictures of this movie's gorgeous scenery and costumery. That said, I'll still give you my opinion.  ;)

The story: An aging Sherlock Holmes seeks to unravel a mystery in his past while he struggles with the fear of death and loneliness.

Good or bad? Really good. The gem of this film is the acting. If you thought Ian McKellan was good in LoTR, you should watch this movie because he blows his Gandalf performance out of the water.
And isn't this makeup amazing?
The other actors (basically only three other main characters), are all marvelous too.

Also, the dialogue was brilliant:

"There seems to be an outbreak of mortality."
"When you're a detective, and a man comes to see you, it's usually about his wife."
And the plot was unpredictable (at least for me as a relatively inexperienced film connoisseur). I can't recall a time that I knew where the story was going, so that made it interesting and more realistic.

Speaking of realism, Mr. Holmes doesn't brush Sherlock's "high-functioning sociopath"ness to the side; rather, it examines it.

I like this because the BBC show (the only Sherlock adaptation I've seen--sorry) seems to mainly make light of the detective's antisocial tendencies rather than to address them. (I've only seen 3 episodes, though, so if any Sherlockians are reading feel free to correct me). There are some times when this problem is addressed, but it is all too easy to brush it off because…well…he's Benedict Cumberbatch! His sociopathness is kind of eaten up in his youthful spirit and his ridiculously amazing acting abilities and his gorgeous voice and...and this gif, and...

I'm getting a bit distracted.

The point is that this film, focusing on an older, more broken Sherlock, puts a more tragic light on his social difficulties--a view of him that I think is much more realistic and much easier to identify with.

I highly recommend that you watch it, and I'd love to hear your opinion!

Whoops, wrong Mr. Holmes. How silly of me.     ;)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Guest Post: Pope Francis!

I thought I'd share with you some of Pope Francis' speech from the prayer vigil on World Youth Day. Thousands of people were there from all over the world, and I think he gave it in Spanish so there were radio broadcasters doing live translations of the speech into various other languages. It was amazing to hear Pope Francis' voice and to know that he was really close to where we were. We were behind the stage so we couldn't see him, but it was still amazing!

Have you heard the Simon and Garfunkel song "I Am a Rock"? Here it is, and I assure you it's related:

This is one of the saddest songs I've ever heard, but also the most relatable. It's so easy to get wrapped up in books, poetry, blogging (!) and forget that there's more meaning to life than enjoyment.

That's why what Pope Francis said about "couch-potato happiness" really resonated with me.

 "[…] the Apostles on the day of Pentecost. Picturing them can help us come to appreciate all that God dreams of accomplishing in our lives, in us and with us. That day, the disciples were together behind locked doors, out of fear. They felt threatened, surrounded by an atmosphere of persecution that had cornered them in a little room and left them silent and paralyzed. Fear had taken hold of them. 

Then, in that situation, something spectacular, something grandiose, occurred. The Holy
Spirit and tongues as of fire came to rest upon each of them, propelling them towards an undreamt-of adventure.

We have heard three testimonies. Our hearts were touched by their stories, their lives. We have seen how, like the disciples, they experienced similar moments, living through times of great fear, when it seemed like everything was falling apart. The fear and anguish born of knowing that leaving home might mean never again seeing their loved ones, the fear of not feeling appreciated or loved, the fear of having no choices. They shared with us the same experience the disciples had; they felt the kind of fear that only leads to one thing: the feeling of being closed in on oneself, trapped. 

Once we feel that way, our fear starts to fester and is inevitably joined by its "twin sister”, paralysis: the feeling of being paralyzed. Thinking that in this world, in our cities and our communities, there is no longer any room to grow, to dream, to create, to gaze at new horizons – in a word to live – is one of the worst things that can happen to us in life. When we are paralyzed, we miss the magic of encountering others, making friends, sharing dreams, walking at the side of others.

But in life there is another, even more dangerous, kind of paralysis. It is not easy to put our finger on it. I like to describe it as the paralysis that comes from confusing happiness with a sofa. In other words, to think that in order to be happy all we need is a good sofa. A sofa that makes us feel comfortable, calm, safe. A sofa like one of those we have
nowadays with a built-in massage unit to put us to sleep. A sofa that promises us hours of comfort so we can escape to the world of videogames and spend all kinds of time in front of a computer screen. A sofa that keeps us safe from any kind of pain and fear. A sofa that allows us to stay home without needing to work at, or worry about, anything. 

"Sofa-happiness”! That is probably the most harmful and insidious form of paralysis, since little by little, without even realizing it, we start to nod off, to grow drowsy and dull while others – perhaps more alert than we are, but not necessarily better – decide our future for us.

For many people in fact, it is much easier and better to have drowsy and dull kids who confuse happiness with a sofa. For many people, that is more convenient than having young people who are alert and searching, trying to respond to God’s dream and to all the restlessness present in the human heart. The truth, though, is something else. 

Dear young people, we didn’t come into this work to "vegetate”, to take it easy, to make our lives a comfortable sofa to fall asleep on. No, we came for another reason: to leave a mark. It is very sad to pass through life without leaving a mark. But when we opt for ease and convenience, for confusing happiness with consumption, then we end up paying a high price indeed: we lose our freedom.

This is itself a great form of paralysis, whenever we start thinking that happiness is the same as comfort and convenience, that being happy means going through life asleep or on tranquillizers, that the only way to be happy is to live in a haze. Certainly, drugs are bad, but there are plenty of other socially acceptable drugs, that can end up enslaving us just the same. One way or the other, they rob us of our greatest treasure: our freedom.

My friends, Jesus is the Lord of risk, of the eternal "more”. Jesus is not the Lord of
comfort, security and ease. Following Jesus demands a good dose of courage, a readiness to trade in the sofa for a pair of walking shoes and to set out on new and uncharted paths. 

To blaze trails that open up new horizons capable of spreading joy, the joy that is born of God’s love and wells up in your hearts with every act of mercy. 

To take the path of the "craziness” of our God, who teaches us to encounter him in the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, the friend in trouble, the prisoner, the refugee and the migrant, and our neighbours who feel abandoned. 

To take the path of our God, who encourages us to be politicians, thinkers, social activists. The God who asks us to devise an economy inspired by solidarity. 

In all the settings in which you find yourselves, God’s love invites you bring the Good News, making of your own lives a gift to him and to others.

You might say to me: Father, that is not for everybody, but just for a chosen few. 

True, and those chosen are all who are ready to share their lives with others. Just as the Holy Spirit transformed the hearts of the disciples on the day of Pentecost, so he did with our friends who shared their testimonies. I will use your own words, Miguel. You told us that in the "Facenda” on the day they entrusted you with the responsibility for helping make the house run better, you began to understand that God was asking something of you. That is when things began to change.

That is the secret, dear friends, and all of us are called to share in it. God expects something from you. God wants something from you. God hopes in you. God comes to
break down all our fences. He comes to open the doors of our lives, our dreams, our ways of seeing things. God comes to break open everything that keeps you closed in. He is encouraging you to dream. He wants to make you see that, with you, the world can be different. For the fact is, unless you offer the best of yourselves, the world will never be different.

The times we live in do not call for young "couch potatoes” but for young people with shoes, or better, boots laced. It only takes players on the first string, and it has no room for bench-warmers. Today’s world demands that you be a protagonist of history because life is always beautiful when we choose to live it fully, when we choose to leave a mark

History today calls us to defend our dignity and not to let others decide our future. As he did on Pentecost, the Lord wants to work one of the greatest miracles we can experience; he wants to turn your hands, my hands, our hands, into signs of reconciliation, of communion, of creation. He wants your hands to continue building the world of today. And he wants to build that world with you.

You might say to me: Father, but I have my limits, I am a sinner, what can I do? When the Lord calls us, he doesn’t worry about what we are, what we have been, or what we have done or not done. Quite the opposite. When he calls us, he is thinking about everything we have to give, all the love we are capable of spreading. His bets are on the future, on tomorrow. Jesus is pointing you to the future.

So today, my friends, Jesus is inviting you, calling you, to leave your mark on life, to leave a mark on history, your own and that of many others as well. Life nowadays tells us that it is much easier to concentrate on what divides us, what keeps us apart. People try to make us believe that being closed in on ourselves is the best way to keep safe from harm. Today, we adults need you to teach us how to live in diversity, in dialogue, to experience multiculturalism not as a threat but an opportunity. 

Have the courage to teach us that it is easier to build bridges than walls! Together we ask that you challenge us to take the path of fraternity. To build bridges... Do you know the first bridge that has to be built? It is a bridge that we can build here and now – by reaching out and taking each other’s hand. Come on, build it now, here, this first of 
bridges: take each other’s hand. 

[Here, the whole crowd started shaking each others' hands.]

This is a great bridge of brotherhood, and would that the powers of this world might learn to build it... not for pictures on the evening news but for building ever bigger bridges. May this human bridge be the beginning of many, many others; in that way, it will leave a mark.

Today Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life, is calling you to leave your mark on history. He, who is life, is asking each of you to leave a mark that brings life to your own history and that of many others. He, who is truth, is asking you to abandon the paths of rejection, division and emptiness. Are you up to this? What answer will you give, with your hands and with your feet, to the Lord, who is the way, the truth and the life?"

YEAH!  When he finished this I was pumped. 

I guess killing orcs isn't exactly building bridges, but you know what I mean, right?    :D

What are your thoughts? Hopefully you weren't too distracted by the fact that the pictures somehow became Tolkien themed.  xD

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Mid-Year Freak Out Tag

My friend Meredith over at On Stories and Words nominated anyone who has read Chesterton this year for the Mid-Year Freak Out Tag, and since good ol' GKC has had a huge impact on my way of thinking and I'm pretty sure I read a few of his essays this year, I couldn't resist.

Disclaimer: I honestly haven't read that much this year, so I'll have to try hard to think of enough books to answer all the questions.
Yeah, I know, it's sad.  :P

Here we go!

1) Best book you've read so far in 2016

Definitely Bridge to Terabithia.

This book was beautiful and my pillow may or may not have been soaked in tears by the time I was done…it was really sad to see characters dealing with tragedy from a secular viewpoint, since without faith in God suffering appears to have no redemptive value.

2) Best sequel you've read so far in 2016

I really haven't read any good sequels in 2016, so we'll have to go with "least bad." That would probably be Calamity by Brandon Sanderson.

It's the third book in a series though, so I don't know if it'd be called a sequel…what else would it be, though? A triquel? Anyway, it was pretty good until the end. Sanderson is a genius at good plot twists, the ones that surprise me but make me kick myself since I didn't see them coming. He must've given up on Calamity, though, because the final plot twist made no sense and the end was a complete deus ex machina. A big disappointment, especially since his conclusion to the Mistborn trilogy is probably my favorite conclusion to any series ever (besides The Return of the King, of course).

3) New release you haven't read yet but want to


I actually have a copy of it, but I'm trying to reread the rest of the Lunar Chronicles beforehand so I can have the story fresh in my mind.

4) Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

*looks up Brandon Sanderson new releases, like I didn't just complain about his writing*

Arcanum Unbounded, a collection of short fiction by Brandon Sanderson. He has an overarching fantasy world called the Cosmere that most of his novels are set in, so this collection appears to reference a lot of his books.

5) Biggest Disappointment

Mistborn: Bands of Mourning. Also by--you guessed it--Brandon Sanderson. This post has made me realize that I need to branch out.  xP

6) Biggest Surprise

In a used book shop in Ireland, I found a collection of unsent "letters" to both fictional and real people written by Pope John Paul I (before he became pope). He died one month after becoming pope, but he always seemed really joyful so people called him "the smiling pope." I was not expecting to find anything written by him, much less in that bookstore! It's really good, though. He has a letter to G.K. Chesterton which is especially interesting.

7) Favorite New Author

F. Scott Fitzgerald. I read The Great Gatsby for school and I had read it and liked it previously, but this time I appreciated it a lot more. I love his imagery and realism. But I haven't read any of his other stuff, so if you've read anything else by him, I'd be interested to know how it is.

8) Newest fiction crush/ship


Steris and Wax. Despite listing Mistborn: Bands of Mourning as my greatest disappointment, it does contain one of my favorite scenes ever written. I wouldn't recommend reading this spinoff series, so I'll include this brief scene so you know what I'm talking about.

It takes a preface, though, if you're not familiar with the magic system. Wax is flying through the air with Steris. He uses "anchors," objects below him that he uses to mentally "push" on so he can fly. He "burns" metals inside his body to fuel this power. Hopefully that helps.

Oh, and before this Wax and Steris have been had a fairly distant, businesslike relationship. Anyway:
Wax looked down at her [Steris] as she held to him while trying to stare in every direction at once. He suddenly found something burning in him, like a metal. A protectiveness for this woman in his arms, so full of logic and yet so full of wonder at the same time. And a powerful affection. 
So he let himself kiss her. She was surprised by it, but melted into the embrace. They started to drift sideways and arc downward as he lost his balance on his anchors, but he held on to the kiss, letting them slip back down into the churning mists.

Don't you just love that symbolism of him finally letting go? I didn't really care about their relationship before then, but after that…well...
Ok, let's move on.

9) Newest favorite character

Captain Thorne. I forgot how much I liked him until I started rereading Scarlet. I know he's a controversial choice, but for some reason I tend to fall in love with cocky, obnoxious, morally challenged male characters. 

Like this guy.

10) Book that made you cry

Bridge to Terabithia. *sniff*

11) Book that made you happy

The Bible. In particular I've been slowly working my way through the Psalms, and they are truly epic.

12) Favorite book-to-film adaptation you saw this year

Sherlock's The Abominable Bride. It's more tv than film, but my parents and I went and saw it on the big screen so it felt quite cinematic. There was good character tension, a few jump scares, and an abundance of clever one-liners. 

13) Favorite post you have done so far this year

There aren't many to choose from so far, but I'd have to go with this. Nothing like some good self-inspiration!

14) Most beautiful book you've bought so far this year

The John Paul I book:

15) Books you need to read by the end of this year

The first few are for a competition that our parish is hosting:

Evangelizing Catholics: a Mission Manual for the New Evangelization; Scott Hahn
The Joyful Beggar; Louis de Wohl
Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves; Jason Evert
He Leadeth Me; Walter J. Ciszek, S.J.

And a few miscellaneous ones: 

Arcanum Unbounded; Brandon Sanderson 
Diary of a Young Girl; Anne Frank
Winter; Marissa Meyer
The Great Divorce; C.S. Lewis

Also I want to slog through something Russian, like War and Peace or The Brothers Karamazov, but school and my limited attention span might put a damper on that.  

That was really satisfying. I think I like tags. Thanks, Meredith, for the bookish inspiration! 

I hereby nominate anyone who reads this post! And if you don't have a blog feel free to leave your answers in the comments.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Well, I'm back

Sean Astin <3  (I had vowed never to use one of those heart emoticons, but I'll do it for him)
Hail, friends! I have returned! I returned about 3 am yesterday morning and after checking my email and some other stuff I went to bed. And then I slept until 3 pm. It felt amazing because traveling home took about 2 days on and off airplanes, since our flights were really messed up.

I feel really epic now because I woke up this morning at 3 am and couldn't get back to sleep, so now I'm perched in front of the mac playing Tim McGraw really quietly so that I won't wake up my parents, and trying to give you all a semi-coherent post. Right now I'm thankful for the wonder that is blogging, because even though it's 4:25 am right now I can still talk to people. If this counts.

Anyway, I'll get to what you (hopefully) have been waiting to hear about: World Youth Day!

First of all, it was not fun. Definitely not fun. There were 118 people in our group (made up of people from Alaska and Oregon), and traveling even with about half that group for the Ireland part was still difficult, so when we got to Poland and the whole group was together it was definitely a pilgrimage experience. Lots of people were late for things, so our group was always behind schedule, and whenever we walked somewhere we had to wait up for the slower people in the back so everything took us forever.

But that's not a bad thing: as our group leader pointed out, the trip was really easy compared to old-fashioned pilgrimages, in which people would have to ride camels through the desert for weeks. Also, the point of a pilgrimage isn't to have fun; it's to grow closer to God and to offer up the resulting suffering to Him. And as far as that part was concerned, I think the pilgrimage worked out for most people, including me.  *jazz hands*

Wow, I'm tired.

Anyway, let's get to the actual trip! I'm too lazy right now to talk about all the particular places we visited because there were a lot of them, but I feel like giving you some random facts about Ireland and Poland, so here you go:


  • Roundabouts are really confusing, since everyone drives on the left side of the road.
  • Also, the roads are, say, 24 feet wide and each lane is 12 feet wide. This is fun when you're in a 12 foot wide tour bus, and another tour bus comes along. Our bus driver, Fergal (don't you just love that name?), got a lot of cheers. ("Fer-gal, Fer-gal, Fer-gal," *cheers* *applause* etc. With about 40 teenagers on each bus there was a lot of enthusiasm.)
  • Live music! In the streets there accordion players, guitarists, Irish dancers accompanied by a bass and other tradition instruments, etc. Being a music freak, I loved this. Also because of the no-technology policy, I was happy to hear any music. 
  • Oh, speaking of music, the Irish seem to like American stuff a lot--one of our chaperones said that when he was in a bar the only live music they played was Simon and Garfunkel. We heard Adele quite a bit too, which I guess makes more sense because she's from the UK.
*trots off to get snacks*

*holds apple slice in right hand and uses pinky finger for the letters on the right side of the keyboard*
  • Their butter is to-die-for.
  • They have random ruined castles everywhere in the countryside. We started out our trip freaking out about every ruin that we saw, and by the end when we saw one on the side of the road we were more like:

There's way more to write about Ireland, but for now I'll move on.


  • This country does not believe in toilet paper, evidently, since there were a lot of shortages. Also, you had to pay to use a lot of the bathrooms. These are the main reasons I'm overjoyed to be back in good ole America.  ;P
  • Pirogies really aren't that good. Ok, that's more my personal preference than a fact, but I'm just throwing that out there.
  • There are so many gorgeous churches! This is true in Ireland too, but St. Mary's basilica, for example, (pictured in the…er…picture) is ridiculously amazing. Actually it's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. When I walked in, I realized a few minutes later that my mouth was hanging open. The ceiling is so high! It goes all the way up to the top of the building, and the gothic architecture on the inside is stunning. The pictures don't do it justice, but here's one that I found online (picture sharing from the trip hasn't happened yet, and I prefer not to take pictures in churches):
It's way cooler in real life, but this gives you a taste.

  • The Poles like their sparkling water.
  • There are so many awesome saints from Poland! Pope St. John Paul II, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Faustina…awesomeness. It was amazing to see the same places they must have seen, especially when we got to go to John Paul II's actual childhood home, and to the chapel at St. Faustina's convent. 
  • Accordions! They were a big thing. We saw three guys playing the William Tell Overture arranged for 3 accordions, and it was fantastic. They were playing Vivaldi later, too, about which I briefly fangirled.  :D
  • Stuff is really cheap there. I got a largish, hand-carved chess set for 65 zloty or so, which is about 16 bucks. (A picture of it is forthcoming.) Needless to say, souvenir shopping there was rather addicting!
*leaves to get candy bar*

Wow, this Snickers bar is really good. I don't know if it's the early morning or the fact that I haven't had American chocolate for two weeks.

All right, I should try to get some more sleep so here ends my first WYD post, with more to follow! 

One more Matt Smith gif. It is necessary.