Saturday, August 30, 2014

Hell on Wheels Twitter Roundup

It's been a busy summer for the Hell on Wheels cast and crew! They're currently filming season 4 around Calgary, and I've JUST started watched season 3. It took forever for the library to stock it, then I had to get in the queue. It started off a bit slow, but it's picking up the pace by episode 4. My favourite thing about it is the Alberta scenery, I think. And Eva is my favourite character. It's fun to keep an eye on Twitter and see what they're up to, even if there are minor spoilers.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Washington State 2014

For our holiday in 2012, we went to Seattle, and this year we decided to visit some other places in Washington, based totally on where KOAs are located. First up was Lynden, which has what's probably the most beautiful campground I've ever been to. The campsites are in a ring around a large pond, which makes it feel more open and spread out. The people of Lynden are some of the friendliest I've ever seen - if you go into a store, EVERYONE wants to help you, and you don't have to play 'hunt for an employee' the way you do in Calgary!

The best thing is that Lynden is only 30 minutes from the coast, a little community called Birch Bay, which has lots of public beach access as well as a state park. We got delicious sandwiches from the Lynden bakery, and spent a day at Birch Bay. It's really beautiful - it reminds me so much of my favourite beach, Rathtrevor Provincial Park on Vancouver Island. The view from Birch Bay, on a clear day, is of BC's Gulf Islands, that's how close it is to Canada.

Birch Bay at low tide

Birch Bay with the tide in

At Birch Bay

Birch Bay State Park

After a couple of nights in Lyden, we headed south, hitting our favourite outlet mall, Seattle Premium Outlets, on the way. I love it because you walk around outdoors, in shady breezeways, so I don't get a headache from florescent lights the way I do in regular malls. And I scored a pair of TARDIS earrings from Hot Topic, which was very exciting. We also took a slight detour for Krispy Kreme.

On the Kingston-Edmonds ferry from just north of Seattle over to the Olympic Peninsula

Taking the Kingston-Edmonds ferry cuts out having to drive all the way south of Seattle to connect to the Olympic Peninsula. It was only a 20-minute crossing, and unlike BC Ferries, it wasn't expensive at all, and saved on a lot of gas.

There's a KOA located half-way between Port Angeles and Sequim. It's under new management, and you can tell the old management was letting it get run down, but the new owners are working on fixing it up. First they assigned us a TERRIBLE site, but they were great about letting us move to a less-trafficked area of the campground. Putting a tent on a tiny site at the convergence of three roads, right beside the main office/bathrooms is not a quiet way to spend the better part of the week...but the second site was big, green, and most importantly, quiet.

Now I had, rather naively, as it turns out, thought that we would be surrounded by beaches, seeing as how we were surrounded by ocean, and based on how many beaches there had been around Seattle. That turned out to not be the case, and we spent three days pursing my dream of sitting quietly on a beach, reading.

Dungeness Spit, near Sequim, Washington

I had seen that Dungeness Spit was a long peninsula sticking out into the ocean, and that there was a wildlife sanctuary there, so we headed there after church on the Sunday, our first full day there. Alas, you had to pay a fee to hike what was an approximately 9K trail each way, with no beach. As you can see from the photo above, the Spit has sheer cliffs. So, no beach there, although very beautiful scenery. I ended up just reading at the campground that day.

I was also surprised by how small Port Angeles is. Since there's a large ferry that goes to and from Victoria, I was expecting to find a city of a similar size. Alas, PA doesn't even have a Target. So we did the historical walking tour. PA has a history similar to Seattle's in that they had to raise the city because of issues with tides and sewage. They don't have as extensive an underground as Seattle, but there were some bits of it in the tour. The guide was really great and knowledgeable. The other two couples on the same tour, all older Americans, were slightly entertaining. The couple from Jersey had never heard of Alberta ("Oh, it's in Canada! That's why I've never heard of it!") and the couple who had been to Banff exclaimed not over our pristine mountain scenery...but over the cleanliness of the public bathrooms.

Mural in downtown Port Angeles, a stop on the walking tour

This very cool mural is of a ferry called the Kalakala, built in the 1930s. The artist is Cory Ench, and he did several murals around PA. The mural has an optical illusion that makes it looks like the ferry is moving as you cross the parking lot, and it looks like an airship, so it was worth the stop.

The underground bits of the tour were interesting, including a massive two-walled mural in what used to be an underground mini golf, but there was no way I could get a decent shot of it. There's one wall here and one wall here, though. The tour wound up in what's now a shoe store, but used to be a brothel, and we got to go upstairs and check out all the vintage detritus lurking in the dusty corners. That was my favourite part. I love Old Stuff. :) This lady's got some really good photos on her blog, including of the old theatre which we didn't get to see because it's closed on Mondays.

Port Angeles' octopus

Port Angeles' real live octopus at the Feiro Marine Life Center

PA has a little aquarium called the Feiro, much smaller than Seattle's, but it had some interesting critters.

Nudibranchs, otherwise known as sea slugs, at the Feiro Marine Life Center

I've been fascinated by nudibranchs ever since National Geographic did a special on them a few years back, and I've never seen any in real life before. They're also known as sea slugs, for obvious reasons.

On Ediz Hook by Port Angeles

PA has a long spit you can drive out on, and at the very end there's a coast guard station. Unfortunately, it was far too open and windy to sit and read, but we did see an Osprey landing and taking off from the station. It's a very cool aircraft, because it can land and take off like a helicopter, but then once it's in the air it can re-position the propellers and fly like a plane.

An Osprey taking off from the Port Angeles coast guard station

On the Tuesday, we went into the national park to hike one of the trails from Crescent Lake. We chose the Marymere Falls trail, and it was beautiful. 

Marymere Falls

Then we were off to a beach - or so we thought. I had read about Salt Creek Recreation Area, which in addition to being on the waterfront, had some old military bunkers and a campground. I just assumed there was a beach there, but there wasn't, just more cliffs.

View from former Camp Hayden

We did drive by a beautiful long crescent-shaped white sand beach - but it was privately owned by an RV park and only guests could use it! I don't think you can own beaches in Canada? I was pretty disappointed! Not to mention the fact that our Garmin seems to have a thing for the scenic route rather than the straightforward one, so by this point it was getting late in the afternoon.

Finally we ended up at this boat launch, which had a tiny strip of beach on either side of it. It had some good beach combing, and later on we saw otters.

Otters at Freshwater Bay boat launch

On Wednesday, our final full day in the PA area, I finally found my favourite place in Washington. It's called Port Townsend, and it's by Fort Worden State Park. It was about an hour from where we were camping, so it was a trek for just a day, but oh my...

The mini castle at Fort Worden

The main feature of Fort Worden, beside the beach, is Artillery Hill, which is mazed with hiking trials that loop around the old artillery placements. There are also several small museums, and did I mention the beach? They have a campground, and many of the old homes and military dorms are now available as vacation rentals. We didn't even have time to get to the museums, or explore charming and historic downtown Port Townsend. Sign me up for a return trip!!!

Military decay at Fort Worden

Deer crossing

At the top of Artillery Hill

Mount Baker from the top of Fort Worden's Artillery Hill

The beach is everything a beach should be. Long and white, with great views, and lots of nice clean bathrooms. We had to pay $10 for parking, but I was totally ok with that.

Fort Worden State Park beach

At Fort Worden beach, you can see Mount Baker to the left...
...and Mount Rainier to the right!

We grabbed some lunch at the Chinese restaurant in Port Townsend, which is just so charming. In fact, the town and the state park remind me irresistably of a much smaller, more American version of Halifax and its Citadel Hill, which might be one of the reasons I feel so drawn to it.

Port Townsend

Port Townsend

And that was the end of our adventures in Washington. Thursday morning we packed up and caught the Coho to Victoria. I lived in Victoria for years, and I was born on the island, so it was a nice feeling of going sort of home.

On the Coho, heading back to Canada

Eating Ivar's clam chowder on the Coho

Ivar's is a really excellent Seattle-area chain of fast seafood, which I highly recommend...

We won't be going back to the States next summer, but hopefully in 2016 I will get to spend more time in Port Townsend/Fort Worden!

That wasn't the end of my summer adventures though - last weekend I went to a local reader con, and this week I'm off to visit my family in NS, so hopefully there will be more adventures coming here soon!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Middle Earth Comes to Calgary

To continue my recap of the Calgary Comic Expo at the end of April, I recount what might possibly have been my favourite bits: Billy Boyd (Pippin in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and three of the dwarves from the Hobbit. Jed Brophy (Nori) Dean O'Gorman (Kili), and Mark Hadlow (Dori) were the dwarves who came, with the bonus of Jed's son Sadwyn Brophy, who played Aragorn and Arwen's son in the Return of the King.

Billy Boyd was HILLARIOUS. SO FUNNY. If you ever go to a Q and A and get a chance to ask him a question, start by telling him your cat/dog/hamster/whatever is named Pippin. Apparently he gets that a lot. :)

Billy's interviewer was a lady called Greendragon, a moderator of the biggest LotR fansite, The One Ring. I forget her real life name, but she moderated all of the Middle Earth panels, and she was fab. Kirsten, maybe?

My brother getting a henna tattoo, in Elvish.

The Being Dwarvish panel. It was SO MUCH FUN.
Sean Astin

Sean's panel turned into a bit of a bummer, because somehow the topic got onto bad experiences he had working on the films, and it was a bit depressing!

Unfortunately I wasn't able to find any good videos of any of the panels, but I assure you, Billy and the dwarves were a barrel of fun. (Ha!) My only disappointment was that because of the special Middle Earth super-panel that you had to pay extra for, Billy wasn't allowed to sing at his Q and A, and at the dwarvish panel, the actors didn't want to re-tell stories that they'd already told at the super-panel. It's one thing to sell tickets for this extra-special multi-media event, but another thing to take away from the main event to do that. So that was sad.

The only thing missing was Martin Freeman, who'd been in Calgary filming Fargo for most of the winter, and who left just weeks before Expo started. So sad! Depending on how the season of Fargo ends, maybe he'll be back next year...hint, hint...

Ok, I think that's it for my Comic Expo re-capping this year - we also saw Garrett Wong, Adrian Paul, and Tom Felton, but alas, my memories are fading and I'm not sure I have anything to share at this point. It was nice that Tom finally made it to Expo though! :)

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Doctor Who Comes to Calgary

Doctor Who has been on my to-watch list forever, and in January this year, thanks to a gift of season 1 and 2 on DVD, we finally got started with the ninth doctor, played by Christopher Eccleston, and now we're into season 6 with the eleventh doctor, played by Matt Smith.

Well, we started with Eccleston, but couldn't really get into it, so we skipped ahead to David Tennant. I already knew him as my favourite Hamlet - he's a fantastic Shakespearean actor - and it was an excellent strategic decision. Then we went back and watched Eccleston once we cared more. I have a lot of feelings about Doctor Who now.

David Tennant as Hamlet. Patrick Stewart co-stars as his dead father/crazy uncle.

The tenth Doctor is definitely my favourite, although I do also like the eleventh. The ninth; not so much. His habit of calling people "stupid apes" really got on my nerves.

I've been applying serious effort to choosing a favourite companion, but I can't decide - I like them all! I really ship Rose and Ten, and I related to Martha. Donna and Amy are both so spunky and outgoing and totally unlike me, so that I enjoy watching them do crazy things I would never do, and living a bit vicariously. I love Mickey, but he doesn't really count as a companion. Amy's my brother's favourite, so I can't decide - maybe it'll be Clara when we get to her?

And in April, Matt Smith and Karen Gillan were at Comic Expo! We hadn't gotten to their time on the show yet, but we went to their panel anyway. They were so fun - it made me not dread quite so much the transition from the tenth to the eleventh doctor that I knew was coming. I still bawled like a baby when it happened, but that's beside the point. Trevor said that Matt and Karen basically spent the whole panel flirting, which I think is an accurate depiction of their relationship. It's sort of bad form to ship real live people, but I don't think that either of them is in a romantic relationship with anyone else, so I totally do ship them.

Anyway, here's a video of the Q and A portion of the panel, if you're interested.

Bonus Lego Dalek

Matt and Karen being ridiculous.

Epic backdrop for the panel

Here's another video, it's part one of four of the whole panel, which is nice, so I can relive the memories. :)

Here's a Twitter roundup from someone who live-Tweeted the panel:

Anyway, it was a FAB panel, even thought a lot of the references went over my head. Even just six weeks and a whole season and a half of Doctor Who later, now that I'm re-watching the panel I'm getting more of the references. Hopefully we'll see more Doctor Who guests at Comic Expo in the coming years...hint, hint! :)

I can't quite put my finger on what it is about the show that I love so much - it must be the characters and the character-driven story lines. And I LOVE the episodes set in the past, like the one with Agatha Christie, and the one with Shakespeare. I'm also entertained when I notice guest stars that I recognize from somewhere else - the episode we watched tonight guest-starred the Earl of Grantham from Downton Abbey as a pirate captain. So if the estate goes bankrupt, he can always turn to piracy. Arrr!

Yesterday we watched the arc with the Silence and I realized why cats always seem to stare at random things that no one else can's because THEY can see the Silence! That realization creeped me out. I'm also now wary of garden statuary. It's such a good show - if you like Firefly, Stargate, Star Trek, or Star Wars, and haven't watched Doctor Who yet, than what are you waiting for? Allons-y!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Fourth Season of Hell on Wheels

The Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo was a MONTH ago already! How did that happen? I still want to recap with whole weekend, because it was an epic one, but I'm going to start with a Hell on Wheels roundup.

Hell on Wheels was not only renewed for a fourth season, they're doing 12 episodes instead of just 10. The cast and some assorted behind-the-scenes people did a panel at Comic Expo, and it was about time! Unfortunately it started rather late, and because there were so many people on the panel (which was great, but...) it was logistically complicated and there wasn't as much time to hear them talk as would have been nice to have. There were some spoilers for season three, which I haven't seen because it's not out on DVD yet, but I was kind of expecting that might happen. The cast did a free autograph signing (mostly you pay for autographs at cons) after, but I had to go get in line for Tom Felton so I couldn't go. I hope they come back again next year!

Also, I don't know what it is about Comic Expo lighting, but you're not allowed to use a flash (which makes sense, but...) which means that unless you're a professional or at least a serious photography hobbyist, your photos don't turn out very well. Sigh...

I totally approve of Dohn's Darth Vader shirt.

Anson brought his new dog, Mac, who's basically now the star of Anson's twitter account.
I realized as I was sorting through these that I took a disproportionately high number of pictures of Chris...

Feel the bromance!

And most importantly, I give you a massive roundup of tweets going back through March - all about Hell on Wheels! And thanks to Suzette Chan's live-tweeting of the HoW panel, most of the highlights are here too. It's been a busy spring for them. I'm very excited for season four! And to see season three when it FINALLY comes out on DVD in July...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Recent Addtion to the Oxford English Dictionary

When I first started my English degree, I took a required class in fundamentals of being an English major, including how to use the dictionary and the Dewey Decimal System. One of the assignments was to make a mock dictionary entry for some sort of language used in our day-to-day lives, but not found in the Oxford English Dictionary. It was lots of fun. of the new uses of a common word that I used is actually being added to the OED!

They announced it on their blog last week, and they used BBC Sherlock's Sherlock/Molly shippers (of which, I confess, I am one) as an example.

Louise Brealey, who plays Molly, reacted on Twitter:

I hope she doesn't really retire though - we need more Molly next season! ;)

Here's my entry, including links to words already in the OED (which probably won't work for you unless you have a subscription to it). I think my entry is perfect, but we'll see how it looks when it arrives in the OED online... :) It was a fun assignment - and I if I lived in England, I would be applying for a job at the OED.

to ship, v.

Etymology: The suffix ‘ship’ abbreviated from the noun ‘relationship’ and used as a verb. Developed in the late 20th century, on the Internet.

The psychological connection of a fan of a work of fiction (i.e. a book, movie, or television series) to a certain relational paring of the fictional characters. A dedicated fan will ship their ‘one true pair’, and perhaps have other minor ships, and the act of shipping may involve writing fan fiction, creating fan art, discussing or advocating the relationship in fan forums or on blogs, or simply by being emotionally invested in the outcome of the characters’ situation. The more passionate the fan, the more intense the involvement in shipping culture, usually online. Trendy shipping slogans include “I ship them so hard it hurts” and “I will go down with this ship”.

2005    The San Francisco Chronicle August 2005 In the Harry Potter fandom, 'shipping (short for "relationshipping") simply means championing a romantic relationship between certain series characters, either within canon or in works of fan fiction (fan-penned fiction that spins off an original narrative).

2009    University Of Pittsburgh Law Review 70.3 2009 Related concepts include het (romantic and/or erotic stories involving characters of different genders, such as Harry/Hermione), femmeslash and femslash (slash with female rather than male characters, e.g. Buffy/Faith from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer), transgender slash, friendship fiction (indicated by an ampersand, such as Harry & Draco, to denote a story in which the two characters are friends, in contrast to their canonical relationship), and shipping (devotion to a particular non-canonical romantic relationship, or ship). Ships are often given names, such as HMS Harmony (for Harry/Hermione)…

2010 January 2010 For those who’ve never heard of the phrase “shipping war”: this is fandom lingo for flamewars disagreements amongst fans about intimate relationships between fictional characters. Various opinions on character pairings—canon or not, bizarre or not, straight or not—are also referred to as “ships.” You may have heard of references to the Hermione/Harry ship and the Hermione/Ron ship in Harry Potter fandom; this is what that means.

Chonin, Neva. “If you’re An Obsessed Harry Potter fan, Voldemort Isn't the Problem. It's Hermione Versus Ginny”. The San Francisco Chronicle. 3 Aug. 2005. Factiva. Web. 2 March 2012.

Jericho, Arachne. The Sherlock Holmes Fandom: Dawn of the Shipping Wars. Macmillan, 4 Jan. 2010. Web. 29 Feb. 2012.

Schwabach, Aaron. "The Harry Potter Lexicon and the World of Fandom: Fan Fiction, Outsider Works, and Copyright". University Of Pittsburgh Law Review 70.3 (2009): 387-434. OmniFile Full Text Select. Web. 29 Feb. 2012.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

A review of 'Dateable: Are you? Are they?' by Justin Lookadoo and Hayley DiMarco

(This is a bit of a departure from my usual blog stuff - I mostly just needed somewhere to put this so that I could link to it from Goodreads! If a Christian perspective on teen dating isn't your thing, feel free to scroll on to the Monty Python post. :)

Overall, despite a few good things, I’m thoroughly unimpressed with this book. A wise and discerning teenager could find the wheat and discard the chaff, but a teenager that wise and discerning wouldn’t need the book in the first place. It bills itself as being a Christian book, but doesn’t seem to be written from a solidly Biblical worldview; rather from a moralistic worldview with some references to God and a few misapplied scripture verses thrown in.

If I were writing a book about teen dating (and given that this book review is clocking in at just over 2,000 words, maybe I should!), I would start by asking the teenager ‘why do you want to date?’. The answer to that question would probably come in a few forms, such as; ‘because everyone’s dating and I don’t feel cool because I’m not’, ‘because I want someone to think I’m special’, ‘because this guy/girl is so cute and I want him/her to notice me’, or ‘because it would be fun to hang out with the person I have a crush on’, etc. I don’t think that there would be much of a happy ending for any relationship based on any of those answers, because they’re reasons that seek self-gratification, and even more dangerously, seek self-gratification in the recognition of peers rather than the security found in a relationship with Jesus.

My opinion is that the answer to the question of ‘why do you want to date?’ is that a person should date in order to find a spouse. Old-fashioned, I know, but far more sensible than spending several years in high school getting emotionally and physically entangled with a person you might never see again. And when I say ‘date’, I mean a young man and a young woman spending time together, getting to know each other’s faith and life stories in order to determine if they could decide to spend the rest of their lives together, putting each other first, rather than seeking to be validated by the other.

Actually, forget me writing a book. Pastor Jonathan Fisk says pretty much everything I think is relevant to the subject in his YouTube video called “Not Until I Say I Do”. I highly recommend taking twenty minutes to watch it.

This book’s premise seems to be that most high schoolers today will ‘date’, or rather, be physically intimate/sexually active in high school with a large number of people, just because dating is what kids do these days, and the book seems to be seeking to mitigate the severity of the consequences of that attitude, which isn’t bad per say, but doesn’t go far enough. Instead of approaching the modern cultural myth of dating with a solid Biblical stance, it waffles. Instead of asking the reader to analyze their reasons for dating, it simply seeks to mitigate the consequences of what the writers see as inevitable.

Page 8 starts out strongly, advocating the wise use of passion, but then uses the ‘d’ word: destiny. As much as I love a good Disney princess movie, ‘destiny’ is not a Christian thing. The English Standard Version of the Bible uses the word ‘destiny’ exactly once, in Isaiah 65:11, and it’s a Bad Thing that people who have forsaken God worship. While the authors’ advice to forsake chasing a date for doing something that will develop your life skills is solid, they could have done that without invoking destiny.

On page 9 they go on to do what Pastor Fisk calls “if the out-of-context verse fits then misapply it”. Isaiah 40:31 does NOT mean what they think it means. It has NOTHING to do with Mission: Impossible works-based quasi-theology.

On page 12, the authors in all their wisdom, assure the reader that whatever relationship they’re in, even at age 18, will not last. While I do realize that’s true for a lot of high school dating relationships, as I can attest, it’s not unequivocally true in the way they state it (my husband and I got engaged when he was 17 and I was 18, and married at 20 and 21 – and we’ve been married for almost 12 years)! I get WHY they’re saying it, but one of the first things I learned in a university writing class was not to make grand statements about supposedly universal truths, especially when you can’t back them up.

On page 13 there are some statistics about the number people who marry their high school crush, and the divorce rate. They don’t take the opportunity to discuss godly marriage with a person who shares the same faith and how a relationship based in God will be sturdier than the average marriage of high school sweethearts who likely had a sin-based dating relationship, with no church family support.

On page 14 the writers ask the reader to do some math based on how many crushes they have in a given span of time, and assume that the reader won’t get married until the age of 25. Somehow these numbers put together have something to with the sustainability of a high school dating relationship. I don’t disagree with their point, but wonder at the wisdom of approaching it that way anyway. A better approach would be to contrast a crush with true love, and show its fleetingness in a way that makes a bit more logical sense than some random numbers based on a flawed formula.

On page 15 the authors set out their goal for the book; they want the teen reader to be “datable”. Again, such a lost opportunity to assure the reader that he or she is a beloved child of God, and spending their high school years dating when they couldn’t marry anyway is a waste of time that sets them up for temptation. They state a few “solid truths”, which are that dating won’t necessarily result in marriage, dating experiences will shape your married life, a person “will” date more than one person before marriage, and spiritual beliefs impact a dating relationship. I do agree with them all except the third one, since I’m walking proof that the “true” statement they make is not actually always the case.

On page 17 is perhaps the most dangerous advice in the book; “do not get your family deeply involved in your relationships”. They go on to qualify that they mean that a short-term casual dating relationship should not be so entwined with someone’s family that breaking up is as divisive as getting divorced, but for a teen looking to keep a dating relationship secret, or to a teen caught in an abusive relationship, and so on, this has the potential to cause a lot of damage. Good, high-quality parenting should equal being very involved in a teenager’s dating life. That’s why God created parents.

For the young person who is determined to date, page 33 has some really great advice about not pouring one’s entire being into a high school dating relationship. Page 34 cautions against becoming so involved in a boyfriend or girlfriend that long-time friends are neglected and pushed out. Page 35 points out that physical affection “creates a soul connection” and cautions the reader against investing physically in a relationship that is not a marriage, which is excellent advice.

Pages 51 offers good advice about developing a life with hobbies and interests outside of school. But it’s because the authors want the reader to “be the one that got away”, so that “you will drive him wild”, not so that you can be a well-rounded person with an interest in things outside your own limited life experience.

However, the advice on page 53 is a bit shocking; the writers advise a teen girl to practice laughing in order to be more datable! It advises “faking it”!

Pages 91 and 92 offer three basic must-haves in a date; a Christian, a non-smoker, and someone firm about abstaining from sex outside of marriage. Great list! Now, if only they talked about not dating anyone until that marriageable person came along when the reader is actually old enough to get married...

One chapter called “If What You’re Showing Ain’t on the Menu, Keep it Covered Up” is a refreshing change to today’s attitude that a woman can wear whatever she wants in public, and anyone tempted to lust is not her fault. It’s true that a person can’t be responsible for the thoughts of every single person they come in contact with, but use a little common sense! You wouldn’t leave your ATM withdrawal sitting on the dashboard of your unlocked car, would you? This terrible worldview is actually a huge pet peeve of mine, and if I could legally photocopy this chapter and hand it out at every youth gathering I’m responsible for, I would. I’d include a note about grace and forgiveness to balance out all the law in it, but otherwise this chapter has a lot of good things to say.

A lot of kids ask “how far is too far?” and a wise friend of mine recently answered that with “if you’re asking that question, you’ve probably already gone too far”! But page 123 does offer a pretty comprehensive and valuable list of boundaries, although for a kid in high school I would probably even nix kissing, partly because once that boundary is crossed, the other ones start to look more exciting, and partly because kissing is also spiritually and emotionally connecting and should definitely be handled with caution.

Page 125 quotes a verse from 1 Corinthians, but doesn’t give the exact reference for the curious youth to then go and look it up, which I would call a definite fail. Citations are valuable.

On page 158, there’s a little ‘Ask Justin’ letter from a 14-year-old girl whose boyfriend is different when he’s with his friends than he is when he’s with her, and he and his friends together make her uncomfortable. Justin’s advice is that “girlfriends come and go, but friends are for life”. His advice should be to stop dating a guy who makes her uncomfortable! And friends, especially high school friends, are not at all necessarily for life, either.

On page 160, the authors finally come out and say “I actually think guys and girls should just hang out and be friends. I don’t think you should worry about this whole dating thing until you are ready to get married.” THANK YOU! Now, why on earth didn’t you say that before? And why don’t you go on to make a case for that, instead of going on to say “But I also know that’s not reality”?

Page 192 advocates the kind of dishonest communication that drives me crazy. One of a series of tips advises “never accept a quickie date”. Not bad advice, but their advice is to say “I have plans”. A better response would be ‘I like to have more notice for plans. Maybe ask me earlier some other time?’ It’s more honest and says exactly what you’re expecting when being asked out on a date, rather than being misleading (a trope in rom coms that is responsible for this kind of thing driving me crazy!). Not that you should be asked out on a date in high school anyway, IMHO...

The last chapter cautions the reader against pornography, which is great, and a real growing concern. The last meaty bit of the book comes on page 214 though, when is says “every new sexual experience when you are not married puts another ding, another scratch, another scar on who you are”. Such a valuable caution! But rather than a chapter about porn, the book really should end with a chapter assuring the teen who has fallen into sexual sin of God’s love and grace through Jesus’ death and resurrection.

This book is full of law, and the law is valuable. But without a firm knowledge of forgiveness in Jesus the young person who has broken the law could be driven even further away from that saving grace. And that, I think, is the most dangerous thing of all about this little book.