31 March 2008

Because It Is Way Too Late

. . . to call Miss Nemesis and squee like 14 year-old girls.  I was checking the TWoP forums for Sense & Sensibility when I got sidetracked by their thread for North & South.  And I was informed that one Mr. Richard Armitage will be joining the BBC's Spooks.  You can read about it here.  I am seriously too excited to sleep now.  I started watching Spooks ages ago when A&E still ran shows worth watching.  Then life got busy and I lost track of it.  But I still remember it fondly and it is occupying quite a bit of space on my Netflix queue.  It was where I first became aware of Mr. Matthew Macfayden AKA the new Mr. Darcy.  Right now Mr. Rupert Penry-Jones (the new Capt. Wentworth) is the lead on the show.  And starting soon, our beloved Mr. Thornton will be taking his place amongst the agents of MI-5.  If there is anything as dreamy as a gruff, but lovable, literary hero, it is a gruff, but lovable, secret agent.  I think I just might spontaneously combust.


30 March 2008

Sense & Sensibility

We're trying something new tonight while watching Masterpiece's presentation of Sense & Sensibility. Writing the post while watching! Three 'Huzzahs!' for lovely new laptops! First of all, I must note that Emma Thompson's 1995 adaptation is second only to  the 1995 Persuasion in my list of Most Beloved Austen Adaptations. It is even more beloved than Pride & Prejudice. I know, Blasphemy!, but chalk it up to me being Elinor Dashwood, just like the internet said. Therefore, Mr. Davies is really going to need to bring it tonight if he wants my approval. Because it is going to be difficult to top the Emma Thompson/Alan Rickman/Kate Winslet/Hugh Laurie combo (I know Hugh Laurie is only in, like, four scenes, but he makes them awesome. And he gets retroactive House love).

All that being said, on with the show.

Oh, Gillian, I can't wait to see you back to your regular scheduled Scully-ness.

Um, what the crap!?! Willoughby shouldn't open the story! Your not supposed to know he is a morally reprehensible cad until later. Did I mention I was watching this with my father, Mr. Davies?

Did the Regency era people really kit themselves out like Victorians in mourning?

Is this Elinor trying to sound like Emma Thompson or do they just have smiliar accents?

What is going on with Fanny's hair? Are the curls taped down?

Well, Edward has the appropriate smiling eyes and floppy hair. Rather like Hugh Grant's younger brother or nephew or something.  (Some superficial research at IMDB reveals that this actor played Lord Holmwood in the catastrophe that was the most recent adaptation of Dracula and was born 6 months after my younger brother.  I am old.)

Question: Whatever became of the little girl that played Margaret in the previous adaptation? She was rather likable. Much like this one.

Could Fanny ever look like she isn't sucking on a lemon?

I like Mrs. Dashwood - "You are not yet 17, I would not despair of finding a true love." Hee.

I honestly cannot wait to see this Fanny go all screaming banshee on Lucy Steele.  Seriously my favorite part of the book and adaptation.

Wow, Edward is heart-breaking while saying things that would otherwise make him seem a total tool. What a good actor.

Why do they always make the buffonish characters like John Dashwood red-heads. It is an insult to our kind.

Ah, he gave her flowers. Only ones that a) wouldn't die and 2) she could draw. What a thoughtful man.

I want a cottage by the sea. Even if it is a fraction of the size of Norland.

How awful it would be to be dependent on servants and not even know if you could light a fire or not.

Is that Mr. Headstone from Our Mutual Friend as Col. Brandon!?! I don't know how to feel about that. Like, at all. He was such a frightening psychostalker in Our Mutual Friend. maybe he can acquit himself in this.

This one does do a better job of setting up the eventual union of Marianne and Col. Brandon. They do establish some footing of friendship.

Ok, favorite line thus far: "She'll bear him some big, fine sons." Said just like half the old ladies in Relief Society.

How awkward to have to entertain for two hours and not have anything to say.

Well, that was a much more precipitous fall than Kate Winslet endured. Off a cliff for heaven's sake.

Margaret's goldfish beg the question: What did they feed goldfish before they created freeze-dried flakes?

Willoughby resembles a hobbit. Not nearly so dashing as the previous incarnation.

Seriously, if I'm not looking at the TV, I would swear it is Emma Thompson as Elinor.

Poor, poor Col. Brandon. Oh, Willoughby is a coward to stand behind Mrs. Dashwood. And how the musical swells ominously! Even if I didn't know it already, it would tell me Willoughby must be a cad.

So, curly hair = free spirit, straight = practical, and Margaret falls somewhere in between. I wonder if that was in the notes for the casting directors.

I must say that the confrontation between Col. Brandon and Willoughby is rather ridiculous. Especially considering that Willoughby is such a people-pleaser that he tries to pull the wool over EVERYONE'S eyes, including Col. Brandon.

A horse? As a gift? What is going on with this show. Maybe I need to re-read the book. But I very much don't remember the gift of a horse.

Sir Middleton brings up an interesting point. If Willoughby had not have been a cad and Marianne had married him and Edward had not been dumped by Lucy Steele, would Elinor and Col. Brandon have eventually wed or would they have remained platonic friends for the rest of their days. I imagine that in subsequent years they would have eventually have married and had an agreeable marriage. They wouldn't have been in love, but they would have had some semblance of happiness. What do you think?

Oh dear, here is Col. Brandon's very bad news. I do dislike this Willoughby. Greg Wise made him seem a modicum less smarmy in the previous adaptation. Here he just seems very ill-mannered.

Oh, Marianne, the conventions are what keep you safe from snakes like Willoughby. Only the snakes ask you to defy conventions. Also - NOT IN THE BOOK! Just the curricle ride is scandalous enough, Mr. Davies. You do NOT need to sex Austen up. The story is fine without it. I hate it when people modernize stories like that. If a story takes place in a certain era, then let it stay within the confines of said story and said era. I had the same problem with the most recent adaptation of Jane Eyre. Jane would never have allowed herself to be alone in her bed chamber with Mr. Rochester, let alone horizontal on the bed. While I think Marianne would be enough of a free spirit to allow Willoughby to take a lock of hair, I think she would be rather hesitant to go unchaperoned to his aunt's home and even more hesitant to be kissed by him.

Wow, nice blocking with Willoughby's body language when approached by Mrs. Dashwood and Elinor. On the defensive much?

Poor Margaret, always forming attachments with her sister's non-suitors and having to watch them disappear over the horizon. I do miss the bit about the atlas. It was such a lovely way for Edward and Margaret to connect. 

WHAT! This is a two-parter? I can't wait until next week. How dare you, PBS!

28 March 2008

I Wish I Could Share The Experience With You All

Our stake decided to put on Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat for the community and have been working at breakneck speed since January to have it ready to open Wednesday.  I went to see it last night with some friends from the ward.  The show itself was quite well done, especially considering they had only been rehearsing since January. Everyone did so well, I only rolled my eyes a little when the audience gave them a standing ovation.  

Before the curtain went up on the show, there was some 'pre-show' entertainment, which was an a cappella group.  A cappella isn't really my cup of tea, but I wasn't too worried as it wouldn't last long.  The seven gentlemen walked out on stage and started "Silhouette On the Shade," which I think is a fairly standard a cappella song.  Feel free to correct me if I am wrong. What I have not heard before with a cappella groups is having one member who sole duty is beatboxing.  But they had one. Which I found odd.  No one else seemed to find it odd.  Their second number was "Breakfast At Tiffanys," which was performed in a disconcertingly upbeat manner considering it is a break-up song and contains the phrase "I hate when things are over."  Their last song choice kind of blew my mind, in that it was Toto's "Africa," a song which kind of depends on being a little over-produced.  One of the a cappella group's members was solely tasked with making the weird little trilling part of the song, at which he was only moderately successful.  The audience seemed to love it, but I just sat there wishing I could have recorded it and shared it with all of you.  Because I'm fairly sure I will never experience something like that again.

26 March 2008

My One True Love

Other than George, of course.  Although, I can take this one to bed with me and no one bats an eye

23 March 2008

At Last, Another Fix

So the long dearth of PBS fundraising is over (I shouldn't complain as I never donate and am thus a freeloader, but whatever my intentions I end up spending my money on other things, like cute handbags by Isaac Mizrahi) and the Masterpiece Austen-a-thon has returned. I have never actually seen the BBC version of Emma with Kate Beckinsale. I am rather partial to the other 1996 version of Emma starring Gwyneth Paltrow (during her "I swear I'm NOT British" phase) but mostly due to Jeremy Northam. And I couldn't help but make comparisons between the two.

I do very much think the BBC miniseries suffers from a lack of Jeremy Northam. He is perfect as Mr. Knightley. Also, he is dreamy. But I also missed the presence of Sophie Thompson as Miss Bates and Juliet Stevenson as Mrs. Elton. They both had such positively wonderful deliveries of some of the best lines in the book. The actors in the BBC version were good, but I thought there was just a little less sparkle. It is quite possible that I am wrong and simply showing my bias towards the US film version.

I did, however, love the opening and closing of the show with the chicken thieves. What an analogy for poor Mr. Woodhouse. All these young men coming to steal his women out from under him. First John Knightley takes Isabella away, then Mr. Weston takes Miss Taylor, and finally his dear friend Mr. Knightley steals his last solace, his daughter Emma, right out from under him. Poor man. What a witty use of the theme by the BBC team. I also liked Olivia Williams as Jane Fairfax. She seemed more emotive than the Jane Fairfax in the US film version. Perhaps it is because they included her scenes from the strawberry-picking outing and the word game, but she seemed more human and less passive than the US film would lead you to believe.

And finally, although it is possibly in bad taste, I must say that Kate Beckinsale has done something to her face. It isn't that she is unrecognizable from then to now, but it is as if the shape of her face has changed. Do you think it was dental work? I can't put my finger on it, but it is different. Maybe someone out there can point me in the right direction.

I hope you all enjoyed the return of the Austen-a-thon. Next up: a new version of Sense & Sensibility. I have an open mind, but I do think it will suffer from a lack of Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson. As most films do.

20 March 2008

Taking One For The Team

So, my office has an annual NCAA 'March Madness' pool. Although no one put in any money, which is odd. I'm not really clear on the details, but I think one of the owners is so very obsessed with the NCAA tournament that he foots the bill. So we all got 5 teams, drawn out of a box, and if they win their first game, we get $1, the second, $2 and so one. Well, I didn't get a team seeded above 7 in their division/conference. And most of my teams eventually play one another, meaning I will lose out no matter what. But I did decide to trade someone for BYU, my alma mater. They aren't expected to go that far, being seeded 8th in their division conference. But at least I feel I showed some school spirit. And if they do win, then I can rub it in all my co-workers' faces.

17 March 2008

At The End Of The Rainbow

Or, rather, the end of the month, this will be arriving at my door:

I cannot tell you how giddy I am. So giddy, in fact, that I am very, very tempted to call in sick the day it is supposed to be delivered, so someone will definitely be here to sign for it AND I can start playing with it immediately. Also coming along for the ride:

It is silver, even though the picture makes it look white. Although mine will never have Nelly Furtado on it. Like, ever.

Hope everyone else's St. Patrick's Day is going as nicely!

13 March 2008

Because I Am A Big Dork

Ok, so the death flu has passed, but it left me on the verge of laryngitis and I sound like I have been smoking a carton a day since kindergarten. I have sounded like this for more than a week. Not attractive. But that really doesn't matter, as I have spent an inordinate amount of time sitting in front of my computer a) obsessively checking the status of my graduate school application and 2) watching the trailer for Leatherheads, starring two of my favorite FBLers George Clooney and John Krasinski. You can all watch it here. I CANNOT wait to see this movie. I'm so there opening night. I also stumbled upon the trailer for the new Incredible Hulk movie, which I guess they felt obligated to make because the first one sucked so badly. The new incarnation of Bruce Banner is Edward Norton, who I find strangely attractive even though half the time he plays characters so psychotic and scary I can't even handle it like in Primal Fear (which I caught on TNT one night and found it so freaking creepy I had to keep flipping between channels, but I couldn't ignore it either. It was mesmerizing. Do check out The Illusionist, however, because he is totally dreamy and non-creepy in it). When I was little I LOVED The Incredible Hulk and thought it was the coolest show, second only to Wonder Woman. Anyway, I stumbled across the trailer and I think I will have to check this one out as well.

When not ogling FBLers on my computer screen, I have been indulging my TV addiction by checking out FOX's new show New Amsterdam of which they aired 3 episodes in 10 days and I got interested in spite of myself. The show is about a guy, Johann van der Zee (now John Amsterdam), who saved a Native American woman's life in 1642, on the island that is now Manhattan, by stepping in front of a sword aimed her way and she brought him back to life, with the caveat he wouldn't die until he found his One True Love. So he has been alive for 400 years and is now a detective for the NYPD. For the five of us who watched The Lone Gunmen, the actress who played Yves Adele Harlow is Amsterdam's partner. Anyway, I got sucked in because a) I am a TV addict and the dearth of new shows in this post-strike world is killing me and 2) I could not figure out who the actor playing John Amsterdam (his name is Nikolaj Coster-Waldau which I can neither pronounce nor spell. I had to cut-and-paste it from Wikipedia.) reminded me of. This is what he looks like:

Who do you think he looks like?

I finally decided it was as if some producer took DNA from Aaron Eckhart:

and mixed it in a test tube with DNA from Denis Leary:

and created the leading man he thought could carry the show.

But now that I'm hooked, I must say it is a fun show. They have flashbacks of his previous lives woven in with the present-day procedural stuff, which is fun. If you want to check it out, you can download the pilot from iTunes for free.

06 March 2008

Austenland Part II

I generally assume everybody's opinion is more valid than my own, so after posting my last entry, I decided to re-read Austenland, just to make sure I was right about how ludicrous Mountain Mama's complaint about the book was. And I was right. There is exactly one mention of the word 'groin' in the book. And, as BlackJazz pointed out in is comment on the last entry, 'groin' is used medically to describe an area under the pelvis that can be injured or pulled. An injury that can occur in athletes of either sex. Which makes 'groin' the least offensive term Ms. Hale could have used to describe the scene. And I will stop harping on it now.

Mountain Mama's other complaint, that the writing wasn't consistent, is much, much less ludicrous. During my second reading, in which I could spend more time paying attention to details, I noticed that the name of the beneficient aunt was alternately spelled Carolyn/Caroline throughout the book. A good editor should have noticed that. There is only one character in the book with that name and it should have had the same spelling each and every time it was used. I would assume that the manuscript was read by its editor at least twice and if I -- still fairly doped up on decongestants and cough medicine -- noticed it, he or she should have noticed. Also, there are instances where the grammar completely changes. This is acceptable in scenes in which individuals are valiantly trying to mimic the speech patterns of Regency England, but it is not acceptable in the middle of the heroine's internal monologue. It takes the reader out of the book.

With all those nitpicks intact, I still really like the book. There are moments of truth in the story that are very relatable. Who hasn't, at one time or another, wanted to announce to roommates, Family Home Evening groups, or the universe in general, "I refuse to be Fanny Price." Who hasn't realized that her obssession with Mr. Darcy/Thornton/Rochester/Wentworth/
Hornblower just might be getting in the way of her real life? Who hasn't succumbed to the ephemeral delights of FantasyLand? I have spent a lot of time traipsing around FantasyLand these past few years. When life is hard it is easy to want to escape, part of what this novel is wrestling with is whether that doesn't make life harder. Obviously, in the grand tradition of Austen, the heroine gets the (right) guy, which just feeds into the fantasy. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

03 March 2008

This Is Not An Overreaction

I think I'm dying. I may sound like I only have the sniffles or slight congestion, but I'm dying. Seriously, walking from my bed to the kitchen wipes me out. I'm not coughing, how could I hurt this much? Anyway, I had mentally composed a book review of Austenland by Shannon Hale, but it has drowned in the mucus that is currently residing where my brain should be. Suffice it to say, I suggest you read the book, it is fun and the first "chick lit" (I hate that term.) that I have actively enjoyed. Sure it treads the same ground as those that have come before it and sure the main character is Bridget Jones's American cousin, but there are some fresh and new things about it AND nothing to warn about if you should recommend it to your mother. Despite what one reviewer on Amazon.com wrote:
1.0 out of 5 stars I find nothing to recommend it., August 20, 2007
By Mountain Mama "MM" - See all my reviews

I bought Austenland to read with my teenage daughter. It sounded so promising! But the writing wasn't consistent and I felt that the references to male genitalia were in very poor taste.
I could find only one reference to "male genitalia" and that is when the main character, out of necessity due to being drunkenly accosted, knees a man in the groin. IN THOSE EXACT WORDS. I cannot for the life of me figure out why the term 'groin' is any more obscene or indelicate, than, say, 'genitalia' but it appears that to Mountain Mama, it is. So consider yourselves warned. This book could be the ruin of your maidenly innocence.