30 January 2008

Guilt: Something I Will Not Be Doing Today.

I will be the first to admit I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. Either side would have been wrong, as I most definitely did NOT want to get out of my warm bed. It hasn't been over 32 degrees here in weeks and snow blankets everthing and it is inconvenient. Additionally I have been working out, pushing myself on the treadmill, doing real crunches, using free weights and this morning was the morning it tipped from being pleasantly sore to unpleasantly sore. It may have tipped earlier, since I couldn't get comfortable and hardly slept last night. The January blahs have set in and I doubt they will lift until March. So I was really not in the mood to go out into the 3 degree weather this morning and drive through the compact snow to work. And I really wasn't in the mood to listen to ChattyCathy's further familial woes.

ChattyCathy and her sister have been feuding and not-talking for the last 6 months and I have heard the full extent of it. Today, I was not in the mood the hear about how the feud had moved to their respective MySpace pages and how she was so upset at her sister. Her step-mother rightfully told her to just move on and to stop. This advice she did not like. As it was similar to my advice, I shut the conversation down quickly and spent the morning wallowing in my own self-pity and unhappiness. She spent various bits of the morning in the bathroom crying. I refuse to feel bad about it.

28 January 2008

In Which I Hear the Alsatians Baying at the Door

I was born in 1978 which means, for those of you non-math people, that I will be turning 30 this year. Luckily it isn't until the autumn, but it is still looming. I've decided I'm okay with turning 30, as there isn't much of an alternative. What I am not okay with is where I am at in my life. I am a glorified office slave at a job with very little upward potential. And even if there were, I'm quite sure I wouldn't want to stay. I live with my dad in the home I grew up in. It is pretty much the exact same place I was ten years ago. I do have a Bachelor's degree, which at this point is fairly useless. I do have plans, but starting school again doesn't seem very glamorous. Which is part of the reason I cooked up the England trip. All of this is redundant to my loyal readers. But it needed to be restated to emphasize the state of mind I ended up in after this weekend.

This weekend was our Stake Conference (for those not fluent in LDSpeak, a 'stake' is a regional grouping of multiple congregations. I believe it is similar to a diocese, but I'm not certain. Stake Conference is a meeting or meetings of this regional unit and happens twice a year.) and a fairly exciting one, as the current Stake Presidency was being released and a new one called. The Saturday night session had six speakers, three of which spoke on strengthening marriage and family, one in particular on how the Book of Mormon could improve a couple's relationship. Which is great for the 98% of the congregation that are married couples. But for me the 45 minute block filled by these speakers was long. I tried not to be annoyed, as I was the minority and the minority shouldn't dictate events. But by the third speaker I was so ready to be done.

Part of my impatience had to do with a conversation I had previously. I ran into an old friend who I hadn't seen in some time and we took a few minutes to catch-up. The following is an inexact transcript of part of our conversation:

Friend: So, how is your dad doing?

Scully: Okay. Next month is my mom's birthday, but he is planning on going to the temple that day, which is good.

Friend: Yeah, that is always good. How long has it been?

Scully: Since the beginning of June.

Friend: Oh, so not even a year yet.

Scully: No.

Friend: Because my sister has a friend who is going through a divorce. Her ex was abusive every way but physically. She needs a good man in her life.

Scully: . . .

Friend: I just thought, you know. . . . She has red hair. She has seven kids, but only one at home. She just really deserves a good man, you know.

Scully: I don't think my dad is quite at that point yet. Um, I should get going. We should get together sometime.

Now, I'm a worst-case scenario person and I have thought about my dad remarrying. Not right away mind, but at some point. And I can honestly say I'm okay with the idea. I might be less sanguine about it if it becomes more than an hypothetical, but it isn't something I have Catherine Earnshaw Linton level hysterics about. The thought that did stop me in my tracks was the thought that my father could get re-married before I even get a date. Here was a well-meaning woman I respect all ready to line my father up and my last date was almost a year ago. Yikes. I don't think I'm the bitter type. I managed fairly well when my younger brother, Mime, got married and I like to think I'm nothing but supportive with my friends. But the idea that my recently-widowed father could find love and marriage a second time before I find it for the first time (stalking FBLers doesn't count) was more than I could handle.

27 January 2008

Mansfield Park

I mentioned last week that I looked forward to seeing what ITV had done with Mansfield Park. The last adaptation, in 1999, leaped off the rails at one point and took a few too many liberties with the plot, liberties which changed the essence of the characters. That is a cardinal sin in my book. Additionally, the first time I read Mansfield Park it seemed a death-march. I had to force myself to continue reading it, something I had never had to do with an Austen novel before. It was work to slog through some of the chapters. The heroine is very unlike Austen's others. Additionally, more of her childhood and adolescence is in the book. I re-read it a couple of years later and liked it much better. I know a lot of people dislike the character of Fanny Price. They think her insipid, or boring, or judgemental. And I believe a lot of readers think her very plain, which isn't necessarily true. The book mentions how her relatives started to notice how well she looked after others noticed. In my mind, that doesn't mean she was plain or unattractive, just that her relatives never really looked at her. She was a sort of non-entity in the house, who was only noticed when something went awry. I think because Fanny Price is, for the most part, timid and quiet we get much more of her internal musings than we get with other of Austen's heroines.

All of which is to say that with a character that spends so much time within her own head, an adaptation is fraught with difficulty. If readers believe her to be plain and insipid then any actress cast will be 'not Fanny' in their minds. If the adaptors share the opinion of readers and try to spice Fanny up a bit, we end up with the last adaptation, which was more an interpretation filtered through 20th century attitudes. I know the casting of Billie Piper as Fanny Price was controversial to many, who thought her very much 'not Fanny' in that she was blonde and buxom. I thought she did quite well with the character. I may be in the minority, but I highly enjoyed this adaptation. I realize it cut down the intricacies of the story to fit with the time alloted, but they covered the important points quite well. I have only a few quibbles.

My first quibble, in importance if not in chronology, is that Sir Thomas didn't send Fanny to Portsmouth. That is a very important part of the story, especially in Fanny's response to her family and their lifestyle. It is a wake-up call for Fanny, just not in the way Sir Thomas wanted it to be. Leaving Fanny in solitude at Mansfield Park was a very poor substitute. I assume the change had to do with shooting schedules and production costs, but it left out a very important part of the growth that both Fanny, and the Bertrams attitude toward Fanny, go through. It seems to lessen Fanny's happy ending to leave out the really unhappy alternative she faced.

A second quibble is the lack of explanation afforded to the Bertram's attitudes toward Fanny. The short scene in which she runs crying from a gooseberry tart doesn't really explain how frightening it was for Fanny to deal with the Bertrams' ways. Additionally, this adaptation softened both Lady Bertram and Mrs. Norris considerably. Lady Bertram was always silly, but the adaptation gave her a bit of redemption at the end, which I don't know was deserved. And Mrs. Norris got off extremely easy. She is such a loathesome character and her diminished screen time didn't set up what a delightful punishment her self-imposed banishment with Maria was nor why she deserved it. Maybe I'm just too short on mercy of late, but I feel that the film glossed over how much of a hand Mrs. Norris had in all the evil that befell the Bertrams.

This brings me to my last quibble. All the time that was taken up with the happy ending. My favorite part of the novel is Austen's admission of the forgone conclusion of Fanny and Edmund, while leaving it up to the reader to decide the particulars. The addition of the new-fangled waltz at the end seemed incongruous for the characters of Fanny and Edmund. I'm happy for them, and seeing Edmund suffer uncertainty for a night while Fanny got a bit of her own back was enjoyable, but I would have rather they spent those 10 minutes in Portsmouth, or fleshing out Mrs. Norris or giving Julia a bit more consideration. It seemed unecessary in comparison with what was glossed over or left out.

All told, however, I enjoyed it and I enjoyed Billie Piper as Fanny. I did spend a lot of time trying to figure out where I had seen the rest of the cast before. The whole movie was spend thinking 'Hey, it's that guy/girl!' and not being able to remember where they were from. Except for the Bionic Woman. She and her decolletage were pretty memorable as Maria.

24 January 2008

Runaway. Escape. Flee

I apologize for being a bit absent of late. I haven't had much to say. Life has been 'same old, same old' for some time now. Plus, everyone else seems really busy, judging by the drop in comments. Or I'm boring, which brings us back to my first point. Either way, blogging hasn't been a huge priority. Dealing with reality is draining all my energy.

I have a regular trajectory I follow when I encounter stress. First, I valiantly try to avoid and ignore whatever the stressor is. This occasionally works, especially after years of practice. I can realistically crown myself one of the Queens of Avoidance and Ignoring. Sadly, stressors can assert themselves into your life in ways that can't be avoided or ignored. This is when I move on to procrastinating dealing with them. I spend a lot of time in front of the TV, curled up with a good book, or reading piles of fashion, home, and entertainment magazines. If that doesn't work, I will sleep for 12 hours and see if that doesn't help the situation. Usually it does. If I still can't get away from the stressor, or still haven't found a solution, I enter the fight or flight mode. Well, mostly the flight part. I get the very real urge to runaway from whatever it is that is plagueing me. Honestly, sometimes the only reason I don't runaway is that a) money is required to buy gas and food, which would quickly run out because you can't hold down a full-time job AND runaway and b) my bed is bigger than my car and I really don't want to give it up.

After a pretty craptacular and hellish 17 months, I'm getting the bug to runaway more than ever. I tried to asuage the urge with the promise of a trip to the U.K. but it hasn't been helping. The WGA strike has ensured that there is nothing remotely interesting on TV. I have been Netflixing (is that a recognized verb? Because I use it as one on a regular basis.) tv shows I was never able to watch before. Right now I'm nearly through with the past seasons of the Doctor Who series, which might be contributing to my overwhelming desire to get out of my current life. Who wouldn't want to travel through space and time in a blue Police Box? Especially when one is travelling with a dashing alien. Even with all the dangerous scrapes, near misses, and life-altering occurences the characters face, it still seems better than the grinding repetition of reality. Especially my reality. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to escape some more reality.

20 January 2008

KSPS, You Have Been Warned!

Last week, Masterpiece ended up on Miss Nemesis's craplist. Today, my local PBS affiliate is on mine. Seriously, KSPS is one strike away from being Dead To Me. Forever. I was in my flannel pajamas, wrapped up in blankets (It is seriously cold here. Like, in the teens plus 20 mph winds) ready to enjoy another hour and a half of Austonia, when what should be on my television but some fundraising marathon of a travel show that only old people would watch. Until 10 pm. So I had to wait an additional two hours, for which I was already upset. THEN the fundraising didn't end at 10, it ended at 10:05. Followed by some distrubing blurb on astronomy! At 10:15 a title card came up informing me that since the program was already running, we would join it In Progress. AND THEN the title card stayed up for two whole minutes, meaning I missed 17 minutes of the show. The only thing that kept KSPS from getting an irate phone call was the fact that I have tomorrow off (Yay for working in an industry that depends on banks and government entities!) and can stay up until 1 o'clock to catch the first 17 minutes of the re-airing. And I didn't have their phone number handy. But on with the show.

Up front, I must confess that Northanger Abbey is my least favorite Jane Austen novel. I read it over ten years ago, but didn't enjoy it enough to read it multiple times like every other novel Austen wrote, including the novella Lady Susan and the uncompleted Sanditon. So I have to say that my anticipation for tonight's adaptation was half of what it was for Persuasion, maybe less. Which is possibly another reason KSPS hasn't been screamed at. Yet.
  • I really like the young lady they cast as Catherine. She looks age-appropriate and believably innocent.
  • Ding-Dong! Mr. Tilney is very handsome. I do remember liking him in the book. The actors are perfectly cast.

  • Wow, John Thorpe is hideous.
  • These dream sequences are hilariously perfect. I love the tree-leaning ecstasy. Hee!
  • I forgot how perfectly repellent the Thorpes were. Especially in contrast to Mr. Tilney and his sister.
  • I can't believe Isabella Tilney hasn't had a "wardrobe malfunction." She is totally popping out ALL OVER!
  • General Tilney is scary. Captain Tilney looks like he could give you syphillis just by breathing on you. Ick.
  • Okay, now I remember exactly why I didn't like the book. I spent the whole time being agonizingly embarrassed for Catherine and her ridiculous and silly imaginings. I had no sympathy for her at all when Henry berated her. And that embarrassment is making it hard to watch this.
  • Looks like Isabella Thorpe had one ginormous wardrobe malfunction into Captain Tilney's bed. I don't remember if Austen intimated that happened, but I like the way the screenwriter handled it. Does that make me a bad person?
  • I think we all got that Mr. Tilney rode a white horse, they didn't have to have one of the Moreland kids spell it out for us. Honestly.
  • Oh, I forgot how much I liked Catherine's parents.
  • I would totally make out with Mr. Tilney under an arbor. Way to go Catherine!
  • I'm so glad Eleanor Tilney was able to marry her beloved. I remember that was a major concern for me when I read the book and I had forgotten the outcome. She was such a wonderful person.
All in all, still my least favorite. Although I will probably end up owning it, just to complete my collection, especially since Northanger Abbey isn't often adapted for the screen. Next week: Mansfield Park. It couldn't be less faithful to the book than the 1999 adaptation and its obsession with slavery in the West Indies. Plus, I like Billie Piper from her work in Doctor Who. If I have any great epiphanies after watching the first 17 minutes, I'll let you know.

16 January 2008

Melodic Memories

Today whilst driving home for lunch, I was flipping through radio stations and the oldies station was playing "You Sexy Thing" by Hot Chocolate. Immediately I was transported back to 2002 in Washington D.C. in the Commons area of the 3rd floor of the Milton A. Barlow Center watching my friend Elizabeth -- a usually dignified pre-law student -- recreate a commercial she had seen, involving a mouse singing this song to some cheese. Needless to say it was late at night and hilarious. Anytime I hear that song, I think of that night and of Elizabeth. So I thought I would share the music that has the power to viscerally transport me back to a certain time and place.
  • Sunshine On Leith, The Proclaimers -- I bought this CD in the early 90s, sometime between junior high and high school, but it always reminds me of my senior year in high school when I was half in love with a boy who declared this to be one of his favorite albums. I listened to it a lot. I don't know if it was because I thought it meant something, or would give us something to talk about, or if it simply made me feel closer to someone who barely acknowledged my existence, but the music is irrevocably melded in my mind with that boy, his Mustang, and Mr. Robertson's College English class, in which we sat by one another.

  • "Here With Me", No Angel, Dido -- This song takes me back to the second year Parker and I were roommates. We would listen to this song on repeat as we lay in our respective crappy beds under The Shrine to David Duchovny that took up three of our walls. We listened to this song ad infinitum because we were just a little bit obsessed with the first season of a show called Roswell about 3 aliens masquerading as teenagers in Roswell, New Mexico. One of the actors playing an alien was a clone of David Duchovny. I think he is on CSI: Miami now, but the obsession died a quick death the next year and I only really think about it when I hear this song. Sorry if I outed a little too much of our geekiness, Parker.
  • Details, Frou Frou -- Parker and I became preoccupied with the song "Let Go" on this album after hearing it on the Garden State trailer, so one day she came home with the soundtrack to the movie AND the Frou Frou album it came from. We listened to both fairly regularly. So everytime I listen to this CD, I am back in our freezing living room in that first apartment in Salt Lake, also known as The Rat Hole, reading Anthropology of an American Girl. I never actually finished the book, but I'll remember it forever, thanks to the music.

  • A Cheap and Evil Girl, Bree Sharp -- This CD and the book Bridget Jones's Diary entered Parker and my apartment the same week during the spring of my junior year at BYU. Because of the song "David Duchovny" the CD became an instant hit with us. The rest of the CD is great too, so it was constantly playing for about two weeks, until we were forced to return it to the friend who lent it to us.. The book was just hilarious and we spent a lot of time laughing hysterically over various passages while Bree was playing in the background. So now the two are inextricably linked in my personal narrative.

  • "Why Does It Always Rain On Me", The Man Who, Travis -- I first heard this song on the radio when I was living in London. I loved it instantly and it became my Karma Hates Me theme song. Everytime I hear it, I'm back in London, walking down the sidewalk between the Notting Hill Tube stop and Palace Court Road, where the BYU London Center is located. On the other side of the road I can see Hyde Park and I feel the humidity and smell the acrid combination of bus exhaust, urine, and garbage that permeates most metropolitan streets. The song always makes me homesick for London, but in a pleasantly melancholy way.
So there you have it, a little peak into my odd little psyche. Feel free to share any music-memory associations you have.

15 January 2008

Why Scully Should No Longer Be Allowed To Own Portable Electronics

I'm sure you remember the Washing of the Cell Phone from last spring. Well, my absent-mindedness has struck again. Over the weekend I opened the washing machine to find that I had washed my iPod Shuffle. The earphones still work, but sadly the iPod itself is not functional. Now I'm stuck with music-free workouts until I can save up for the Nano I want.

13 January 2008

And Scene!

So here are my initial, scattered reactions to the new adaptation of Persuasion on Masterpiece Theatre (or should I stop being stubborn and adopt the new name Masterpiece Classic? Anyone know why they changed it?)
  • I was driven to distraction by Gillian Anderson's hair being parted in the middle. I'm so used to seeing her with 'Scully hair' that I couldn't pay attention to what she was saying.
  • The leads, Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones, totally sold it. I thought Ms. Hawkins especially did an amazing job of capturing the character of Anne Elliott, focusing on her sacrifice(s) without being maudlin about it.
  • I liked the way the director and the actors, especially Anthony Head (Giles, for any Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans) did an excellent job of capturing the viciousness of Anne's family. People are prone to protraying Sir Elliott, Elizabeth, and Mary as silly, which they are, but in focusing on the foolishness, they overlook how truly cruel they are to Anne and others. I think that is one of the greatest strengths about this adaptation.
  • I understand needing to mess with timelines and speed things up when adapting a novel for the screen, but to completely disorder the entire denouement short-changes how wonderful Austen's plotting is in the book.
  • I have read Persuasion many times; it is my favorite Austen novel. However, I never in any of my many readings got the implication that Mr. Elliot planned in ANY way to make Mrs. Clay his mistress. I think that part of the adaptation drove me the most nuts. Harriet Smith is declaring Mr. Elliot's sins to the whole of Camden Place, completely shoe-horned into the ending, just so the audience could know how vile he is. That part of the scene took me out of the film so totally, I couldn't concentrate on the rest of the it.
  • Kiss her already, you moron! Seriously, it was on the verge of becoming embarrassingly cruel to watch her wait for it so long. Honestly!
  • I'm ambivalent about the adaptation insinuating Captain Wentworth bought Kellynch Hall as a wedding present. Unless I'm wrong and he just took over the lease from his sister and brother-in-law. That explanation works for me much better. I think I'll go with it.
  • I think this did an excellent job of introducing Austen neophytes to the book, but I think the 1995 adaptation with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds is a more faithful adaptation and, therefore, more enjoyable to those who already love the book.
  • All you lovers of lush, literary adaptations and/or British men have to check out this link from the Masterpiece Classic website: The Men of Austen. It cracked me up. Although knowing what their fortune is worth in today's economy is quite helpful. I think my heart still belongs to Mr. Thornton, however. Captain Wentworth runs a close second. Followed by Mr. Darcy, Edward Ferrars, and Mr. Knightly rounding out my top 5 literary crushes. If you were curious.

11 January 2008

Synchronize Your Watches!

Just wanted to remind all you fans of lush literary adaptations that the Masterpiece Theatre Austen-athon starts on Sunday. For me, it means that at 8 o'clock for the next ten Sundays I will be found ensconced on the couch in my flannel pajamas with some dark chocolate . I've heard good things about the version of Persuasion they are airing Sunday. Oh, and for you X-Philes, Gillian Anderson (aka the REAL Scully) is the new host of Masterpiece Theatre. Enjoy!

08 January 2008

The Plan

Not too long ago I announced my intention to travel to England this year. The original plan was to go in August, but with the arrival of my niece/nephew scheduled for then, I was forced to reconsider. Apparently Mime found my not rescheduling the trip offensive. It isn't like I can even enjoy the auntly privileges of spoiling the child rotten and returning her/him to her/his parents all sugared up and out of control for at least a year. Although in the case of Mime, teaching her/him to love broccoli and eat organic would be the more sinister route. But I digress.

With my original plan frowned upon, I set about finding a new plan. I checked the schedule of the university I want to attend and discovered they don't actually start until the end of September. So the trip is back on, pushed into the beginning of September. Huzzah!

The next difficulty lay in organizing the itinerary. I had two travel guides I picked up at Barnes & Noble, but they seemed too overwhelming without a proper, unifying theme. Thanks to BlackJazz, I have one. He kindly emailed me with a few suggestions about places I should think about and specifically recommended Chatsworth, an estate at which bits of the most recent Pride & Prejudice adaptation was filmed. As I perused both the websites I just linked, I hit upon an excellent idea. I will visit places that play important roles in some of my favorite novels and/or adaptations of my favorite novels. My list of possibilities thus far:

Chatsworth (Pride & Prejudice, 2005)
Lyme Park and/or Belton House (Pride & Prejudice, 1995)
Whitby (Possession: A Romance)
Helmshore Textile Museum (North & South, 2004)
Haworth (the Bronte sisters' home, now has a museum)
Lots of other places in Derbyshire (Jane Eyre, 2006)
The Peak District (Mostly because it looks so breathtakingly beautiful, but also because it is features prominently in Pride & Prejudice AND the 2006 adaptation of Jane Eyre)

I'm sure I'll come up with more ideas, but if any of you have ideas, I would love th hear them!

03 January 2008

Saving Me From Myself.

I fear I am becoming one of those girls. The ones with the curtains of hair who will cut one if one so much as mentions cutting their hair. They can be seen quite frequently in BYU singles wards and on What Not To Wear. They seem to get their sense of identity from the curtain of hair that falls from their head to near their waist. My hair has never, ever fallen anywhere near my waist, but it has become quite long. And I started having panic attacks when I thought about getting a hair cut. Even though this is what I have been dealing with:

That, my friends, is a long, ratty, prone-to-tangles mess. And that picture was taken on a particularly good hair day. Nothing I did kept it from looking shaggy. So I was faced with a choice: look like a homeless person or cut my hair. Which started me hyperventilating again. The craziest part is that my hair grows quite quickly. The picture taken below was taken almost exactly two years ago:

My hair was barely chin length then, meaning my hair grew around 12 inches between December 2005 and December 2007. Which, if I'm doing my math right, means that my hair grows about 1/2 an inch per month. I should not be having anxiety attacks about cutting my hair; it grows like a weed. Which is why today after work I faced my fears and paid my lovely stylist to do this:

I lost 5 or 6 inches and gained a lovely auburn shade. But more importantly, despite the somewhat sullen expression in the above photo, I got a hair cut I love. And if I really want them back, I'll have those lost inches by next Christmas.

Sidenote: I just realized I'm wearing three different sweaters in the exact same shade of blue-green. Maybe someone should alert What Not To Wear after all.