Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Absentee Review

As you can surmise from the title, some of the content of this novel dwells on the problem of absenteeism of Irish landlords (in the 18th and 19th centuries). The young hero, Columbre, discovers the worth of his native land and sees firsthand some of the issues caused by his father's absence. His mother wastes money trying to outstrip her London acquaintances in glamour, and so she stands in the way of the careful stewardship of the family's Irish estates. For money and vanity she also stands in the way of her son's love match.

Circumstantial salvation saves the day (erg). While in Ireland Columbre almost falls prey to a scheming mother and daughter, despite being warned by an older person, and he only escapes after overhearing the schemers (the worst of this circumstantial salvation). His match prospers (I do not think he falls in love until well into the novel, and after the Irish trip) because the lady his mother intends him to marry discovers the love match and is too dignified and generous to disrupt it (I think she too marries for love eventually; I like when every decent character finds love and am disappointed when it does not occur). And I think Columbre's mother is convinced to move back to Ireland only after realizing how low her London acquaintances think of her. I do not know, but I do not think that she should have been allowed to waste money and force a marriage just because she is the mother (I do not think the father exerted much will-power although I think he was alive).

I am sorry for another scrambled review from a book I read quite a while ago.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Miracle Movie Review

Brief synopsis: this film portrays the story behind the 1980 American college-aged Olympic hockey team and the path to victory at the Olympics.

I missed the first part of the movie since I did not really intend to watch much of it. I just came down for the Dots (the most fake candy ever, but whatever). I am glad that I stayed; this film completely deserves the description of "the best sports movie ever." As always I liked the details, the daily life type scenes, the switching back and forth between types of scenes and/or characters, and the mini-plot lines. None of the scenes (except a pointedly long coach method scene, which is epic) lasted terribly long which is great for this girl.

The 1970's style is hilariously interesting. The hair, the mustaches, and the coach's plaid flare pants which my sisters hated. The film includes flashes of news events (this was the Cold War era).

The coach, Brooks is hilarious (in one conversation with his wife he is listing members of the intimidating Soviet team and ends with "Whatever-off"). His unconventional methods of coaching (which he could never get away with today in this era of easily offended people) are hilarious also. I found it amusing to watch the assistant coach; he at first finds Brook's methods troubling until he understands (in the epic long scene). I like the various means Brook uses to develop the team USA mentality. Brooks' method of dealing with the obnoxious press is quite satisfying (I love when people do not break for irritating and/or nosy people) and humorous, especially his answer to one reporter's accusation of self-focus. I appreciate the fact that the assistant coach supports him in his attitude toward the press.

I enjoyed how the pieces of the players back stories, their personalities, and their relationship unfold in conversations and in actions: the fight between rival college players; the way the players start to stick together against the coach's aggravation methods; the tear-stained face of one player badly injured just days before the Olympics; and after the anthem during the medal ceremony, the team captain calls the rest of the team over. I love the team building.

I appreciated that the film does not show all the games; the point of the exhibition time is the team building and then the first Soviet-American confrontation. Only the significant portions of the Olympic games are shown with key actions, reactions, plays, and injuries emphasized. I enjoy sports highlights, so this is more interesting to me than whole sports games.

At the end photos of the actors in character are shown with notes on the actual players' later careers. I did not catch this until Googling the movie, but one actor played his dad. That is awesome. And the actors did not just have auditions, but tryouts; therefore, many of them had backgrounds in hockey at some level (and one actor did not have any film experience).

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hard Times Review

This novel caught my interest faster than the other Dickens' novels that I have read. A brief glance at either the preface or introduction indicated that this novel is about a quarter the size of some of his other works which explains the lack of filler and tedious drag of plot and/or over-filled plot. I wonder if this work is short because not written as a serial? Anyway, for a Dickens' read to to start so smoothly and proceed so quickly I found quite refreshing. 

 A note of caution. Readers easily absorb the outlooks of an author especially when the author does not consciously state his world-view but rather displays his concepts of morality in the tone, action, and outcome of the story. I do not agree with Dickensian reasoning and morality always, especially in regards to the personal responsibility question which is an issue in this novel. The major issue in this novel for me regarded Louisa. Louisa was to blame for what she was and what she did. People are not merely acted upon by others; they also make choices, and Mr. Gradgrind neither could control Louisa's thoughts nor did he force her marry Mr. Bounderby; he did not really attempt to even strongly persuade really.

I found the mini-plot stories and the characters quite interesting (I apparently have a thing for mills and factory towns and master/worker strugglesNorth and South, Shirley, Mary Barton . . . ). I greatly appreciated the redemption of Louisa; she, unlike so many in her position, literally followed the Biblical principle to "flee sexual immorality." I also appreciated the belated repentance of Tom (whom I liked better than Louisa; Tom had to bear all his responsibility and his father did not receive much or any blame, quite unlike the Louisa situation). I found the obnoxious absurdity of Mr. Bounderby and the ludicrously extreme nosiness of Mrs. Sparsit quite well-executed, but Dickens' applied his humor, which is always rather grim, rather darkly in this novel. I found the mortifying of Mr. Harthouse quite satisfying. The story had no wholly good romance (certainly no happy one) and ended sadly (although less gloomily than much of the plot seemed to indicate), yet I still enjoyed it.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Story Girl Review

Montgomery wrote with her usual luminous, magical style of simplicity and enchantment, weaving in nature's beauty with an artist and poet's skill. I love the charactersboth their uniqueness in themselves and their overall types. I love the freedom and silliness and jolliness and innocence of the children's escapades. Their view of grownups and the grownups treatment/reaction to them. The little fights, trials, adorations/admirations, and skills. I love this sort of homespun story with sparkle. The world of these children is so different from ours.

Friday, August 8, 2014

My Birthday, The Hollow Crown, Knitting, and Etc.

I do not want to write a review of The Hollow Crown (the first play is overwhelmingly evil, and the last two are painfully wonderful; this is my mini-review), but since I mentioned The Hollow Crown previously, I feel duty compelled to give a warning as there are content issues in all (in varying intensities). If you are super oblivious, perhaps you could avoid reading and miss the problems; if you read warnings you will catch the problems.

ANYWAY. Back to not-mind-contorting fun.

I have four (yes, FOUR!!!) finished knitting projects to show. This also means that I have only three in my unfinished/will do soon category before I can start on new projects.


From top left clockwise.

The last beret! I like this pattern best (Little Flower Beret or Tam). The beret is larger, the head band area is smaller (less like a beanie, ugh, girls should NEVER wear beanies-so unfeminine, and only a few types of guys can pull them off), and the design is gorgeous (I purposely used this my-least-favorite yarn for the prettiest pattern) . . . even though hard to see because of the color.

Next is the forever pink sweater which is quite tight but can at least go on me. If I tried this pattern again, I would need to go up a size. I think I might want to go up another size more and downsize on the needles since I prefer a tighter knit. The neckline is too tight and not flattering period; I would make it more of a scoop.

White cuffs (Hetty's Sunday Cuffs from the Jane Austen Knits magazine, May 2012; also available to purchase and download here) to match the white beret for my youngest sister. I had to go up a needle size and probably could have gone up another. I knit tight, but I think these also must have been sized small because the cuffs are still tight. I mean I know we have largish hands in our family, but I do not have issues with the fingerless glove patterns I have tried.

Pink cowl for a gift (part of my longest ever gift procrastination . . . think like a decade :/). Do not look closely at this. I found this changing project irritating for a variety of reasons and so made up a stitch pattern and did not try to remedy all the mistakes (which it is a pain and sometimes danger to do with this yarn because it is easily destroyed). Oh, and despite the weird tinge of my iPhone app photo, the cowl is really just a light cotton candy pink.

Ah, yes. I bought new yarn, sue me. Probably not enough in each ball for a complete project, so I will have to order more which requires a huge order because of course I must get the discounts! Oops :)

I bought a lovely binder, so I can carefully store all my patterns in page protectors instead of dragging around the paper/magazines/leaflets and destroying them.


I turned 24 recently, so we had a girls' shopping day. I picked out loads of items from Half-Price and that was my gift from Mom. My brother gave me a Kohl's gift card and my grandparents $50 (yarn?!) and a blouse. The cupcake is from Panera where we had lunch. Oh, and the box I bought from T.J. Maxx. I love these types of boxes. They are so elegant.