Saturday, May 30, 2015

Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot Collective Review

Hello from Princess Procrastinator. Here is my Poirot collection "review" written who knows when after reading who knows when. If you want a shorter version it is this: I am not a fan.

These are pretty silly and melodramatic although apparently some such as The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and Murder on the Orient Express are supposed to be considered "good" mysteries, and they may stand a little above Christies other works in plot, but the quality of composition and characterization is still considerably lower than Doyle's and Sayer's work (particularly the latter's). And often the plots of Christie's works are so fantastic that they are absurd. Cheap and attention-catching but flimsy.

Oh . . . and the little issue of Holmes-baiting (but, since of course he cannot be baited, it is only an attempt at baiting). Um, DO NOT YOU DARE touch him. You are not worthy to touch the ground he walks on. A few pokes must be allowed in order that Holmes worshipers not be thought pompous but this goes too far.

I have some notes from reading The Big Four (notice the title mock) for example, but I think that they are on my dead computer. I will just have to edit this disgustingly late post even more obscenely later. Everyone will live. Adieu,

Friday, May 29, 2015

Practical Fashion Needs: Infrequently Needed Items

I have thought about this topic because I have felt the need over the past year or so rather acutely. Sometimes we think that because we can rarely use something we ought not to have it, and then we are flustered when an event leaves us unprepared (or at least my family and I do :/). For example, in our family we have had some trouble with wedding attire. The last wedding we attended three of the females in our family bought dresses the day of the wedding because we happened to have race at an outlet mall. I did not find anything and was less than pleased with what I did wear. I have got to just get what I need before I need it already because I am SO picky! When I do have one aspect of an outfit that I need I may not have all the accessories to match (or I may only have an accessory).

Special Events.

~Dresses in enough variety that if one attends a wedding one will not match the wedding party

~Neutral shoes for winter and summer

~Neutral clutches, wraps, and dressy enough coats

~Hose

Travel

~I personally do not find those outfit and packing suggestions on Pinterest helpful because they do not suit my style, and I know I do not have enough to mix and match so easily, but I know that lots of girls do have styles that easily lend themselves to this orderliness so be sure to look up mixing and matching options; the sort of 30 for 30 on a small scale.

~A cross body small purse or two with a practical, zippered or other tightly closed style in my neutrals. I have small purse, but it is more of a hand/arm bag which is not the greatest for travel, it is smaller on the inside than it could be for its size, it is pink, and it only snaps shut which is not secure enough for travel.

~Cute and practical shoes. I hate athletic shoes for anything but their intended purpose. For airports, a slip on style is practical. I want to find a dressy style for site-seeing. Surely something exists.

Outdoor

~I want Mary Jane types of shoes for hiking and walking outside and in the water on vacations.

~Obviously shorts and pants are the safer, more modest, more practical option for many activities. White short do not deserve all the aforementioned adjectives, so I really need some shorts. Except I do not want to buy shorts for my fat self which is incidentally as the the reason why I did not want to wear jeans and why I started wearing mostly skirts. Now, I just prefer it . . . at the moment.

~Hats. My mom always tried to get us to wear hats in the woods in an attempt to keep off ticks. I would like a nice floppy sunhat for the beach. A smaller hat for hiking and ballgames is probably necessary too although I cannot think of a cute option other than a sort of Easter/old-fashioned style hat which is old-ladyish. I could just burn. Which side of vanity wins?

~Oh, yeah swimwear. I hate this category. The end.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Books and Libraries

After some other bloggers mentioned libraries, I realized that I never really thought much about how all these bloggers get the books they read and realized that I rarely mention how I get the books I read. I mainly use the library; most of the books that I own I have already read and that is what I prefer generally. I want to buy books that I know I love. I do not like e-books at all. I do own some e-books (but no reader), but I really would prefer to buy the hard copy (literally, I want to try to buy hardbacks when available) of the book I want. I just think hard copies are more convenient and comfortable.

I think we have a really nice library system for our state (and said state is not high on any good charts for much of anything). I am quite pleased that working in the county has enabled me to use this system for free (we live in a rural county with a tiny library). I basically order my books online and then pick them up, and now we have self-checkout at the location I use which I think is just awesome.

Over 6 months ago I re-tried out inter-library loans. My mom used this service often when we were little. I tried it at our county library, but I think it might be too expensive for them to find the really obscure books I often want. I feel so adventurous receiving books from all across the country (literally, the first time). I ordered twice successfully, I think the full amount of three, but the third time I tried two could not be found (one did not surprise me) and one the library said it would buy . . . eventually (I should have looked at a different publication date . . . I think I will do that the next time).

I have for the last maybe two years almost constantly had piles of library books in my room. I am rarely without any library books. I have also racked up too many fines because I am not careful about renewing and returning. I am trying to do better at reading all the novels, but I also need to work on seriously looking at the nonfiction.

Our library also has links to old newspapers (I used this during college; I much preferred the city library site and system to the university one), free learning sites, e-books, audio books, e-music, free computer classes, movies (we just borrowed The Music Man; more on this in another post) and etc. I really need to utilize this resource better. Oh, and as of right now I have over 30 books out; I am nuts. But some of them are knitting and such, so there!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Cinderella 2015

I think gushes and squeals would pretty much describe my feelings on this movie. My mom and all the sisters at home and I all went to see it when it came out in March, and we all wanted to see it again. When my other sister gets back from overseas, I think we are going to try and watch it with her. Also, I do not want to hear a word of criticism for this movie.

I felt like the movie was a perfect blend of Ever After and the animated Disney Cinderella.

I liked how Kit and Cinderella meet before, but they still do not know one another well.

There are no really ugly "scenes" (there are many in Ever After).

I liked that Cinderella's father realizes that he made a mistake about her step-mother.

The scene when Cinderella retorts in French is funny.

I like how the film did the mice.

I loved the part with her mother and how Cinderella always clings to her words, "Have courage and be kind." Cinderella is such as sweet character, sweet, but without completely allowing her step-mother to rule over/beat her down (as in Ever After) or to fool/stupefy her (as in the animated version). She did stand up to her step-mother near the end, but she was not arrogant or self-righteous, and then later, she forgave her (which looks especially nice when juxtaposed against the cringe-worthy last step-mother scene in Ever After).

And the Prince.* What an absolute darling. He was sooo sweet, and I just loved the scene with his father just before his father died. He was respectful but resolute. I am glad his father was not such a bully as kings are often portrayed. I love how the Prince is clever and the Duke does not deceive him completely. That scene when he takes off his helmet! Cinderella and Kit are such a humble, sweet, yet strong pair!

I loved the leitmotif of Lavender's Blue. I loved that the filmmakers used a folk song period, but to have it as Cinderella's theme is wonderful. The dance of the future royal pair is marvelously choreographed and beautiful.

I want her wedding gown. Her ballgown is gorgeous and I loved the butterflies on it. The whole movie is so bright and beautiful. But I am going to have a wedding gown like hers; it is so elegant and lovely and modest, and I loved the embroidered flowers.

So much of this movie is so harmonious, peaceful, graceful. The Prince and Cinderella are so gracious. The buildings, clothing, animals, outdoors, and etc. is all so fresh and bright. The music is old-fashioned and sweet. It is literally a fairytale of a fairytale movie.


*Do not for one moment think that I still do not love spoiled, silly, darling, bratty Prince Henry. I still think he is awesome in his complete not-awesomeness.


Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies

Yes, I know this is horrifyingly late. You are welcome.

I think this is a mediocre movie on its own, but it is a travesty as a Tolkien adaptation. The film is so hectic.  I think the film cut back and forth too much between its too many plot lines (Bard and his group plus their mini-plot lines, Dale, Gandalf and company, Legolas spying, the dwarves, the orcs, and etc.). The Laketown tragedy felt shortened, less severe, and the film did not show the trip to the mountain. That whole saga felt rushed. The battle itself felt unrealistically short (I know a movie cannot give justice to the length of battles with such weapons, but I know the directors could have done better than this . . . by cutting out some of the additional fluff such as the earth eaters and Legolas's spying trip and by leaving such things as the desolation of Smaug to the movie of that name).  In addition, this movie like the two before it, fell far, far short of the quality of The Lord of the Rings films even as they in turn fell far short of doing justice to Tolkien's work.

The first film had so little in it and the last so much (including as others have noted the actual desolation of Smaug). I understand that the filmmakers wanted to tie in the Hobbit with the rest of Tolkien's story. I think that one film would have made the story seem rushed, but cut out the orcs until they belonged and shorten the Necromancer section, and we would have enough to make two grand films.

The film also contained waaay too much melodrama. Actually, it was a melodrama. I think many of my family thought that the crowning absurdity was Legolas' falling rock hopping. But I thought also that the the earth eaters and the white orc under water (and the white orc period) beyond too much.  I thought the Necromancer scenes quite over the top as well.

Then there are some of the "smaller" issues. That Alfrid character received far too much screen time and his role was quite silly. Tauriel did not exist in the novels, and so I felt that she ought to have died along with Kili. Instead she had this weird interlude with Thranduil. I wonder if we are supposed to think this whole Tauriel drama is the reason why Legolas is so eager at the end of the Return of the King to go West; he was not one of the High Elves after all, he could not feel with the same intensity as they did the desire to West.

Legolas may not have been literally in the book, but he was alive in the Tolkien universe and so likely would have fought. Unless of course Thranduil grounded him and left him in Mirkwood smoulder-sulking, which is totally plausible.

Thraduil is so awesome.

But while we are on the topic of elves, why must the film makers put the elves in a negative light constantly? There is this absurd ignoring of roles and raising the lower people. If anything, the greed of all dwarves, should have been shown more. But since the elves are beautiful, they must also be selfish or somehow lesser. In Lord of the Rings the films omit to show THAT LOTH LORIEN WAS BESEIGED. Do you really think that somehow the elves are untouched? Of course Loth Lorien would be besieged; it was in a rather central location, and the elves there had harbored the Fellowship. Instead the elves come to help the Rohirrim (as if they would choose them over Gondor, the kings of which descended from the elves). In the same way, Theoden expects the king of the nation that bears the brunt of the problem and who is LIEGE LORD to the Rohirrim is somehow responsible to help fight his battles. Yeah, no, you live on land granted you by Gondor, you pay service to Gondor. 
I disliked the confrontation between Legolas, Tauriel, and Thranduil; it was ugly, tasteless, ill-bred (and therefore, un-elvish).



Friday, May 22, 2015

Bleak House Review

So I did not entirely like this novel. Oh, I enjoyed it while I read it, but I found many aspects that I did not like.

I found Esther rather irritating. I thought her false modesty and silly "innocence" of why other people like her was extremely annoying; true humility and goodness do not focus on self at all. She spoils her character by speaking, and her character would have been better not displayed in first person. I thought her silly humility rather out of character for Dickens; I feel like he usually caricatures this type of person.

Mr. Jardyce annoyed me because he avoids issues instead of repairing them. I loathed Mr. Skimpole* and the way Mr. Jardyce aids his leech behavior is disgusting. Speaking of disgusting, how gross and selfish of Mr. Jardyce, who might almost be Esther's grandfather, to propose to Esther?! I had wondered before I reached this point in the novel whether or not he had been in love with her mother.

I did not really feel sorry for Lady Dedlock. She is so selfish and proud. She had married into great wealth and made herself famous. She does not help Rosa, except to thwart Mr. Tulkinghorn, I think. I felt sorry for Captain Hawdon. I want to know why Hawdon and Lady Dedlock had not married. What happened? Whose fault was the separation? I kind of wondered/wished she had been the one who broke off the connection. Had her sister a hand in it? I did not think that Hawdon was the Willoughby type at all. Plus he had kept her letters. He had sent her letters of instruction. He helps poor Jo. If Lady Dedlock did not know that the baby survived, I wonder if Hawdon ever knows about the baby at all. What were those letters of instruction George Rouncewell delivers to Esther? George seems to be very loyal to Hawdon as if Hawdon deserves some help or has some merit. I do not like all these unfinished ties.

Ada Clare and Allan Woodcourt do not have enough character development. Except towards the end they have hardly even any personality. I liked what glimpses and shadows of Allan I saw until I received a chill at his reaction poor Jo.

Jo is probably my favorite character in point of unmixed favor. George Rouncewell comes next in that respect. Poor Jo. What cruelness and neglect and manipulation he endures at the hands of the evil and/or more noticeably selfish characters and the world in general. What cold "pity" and "aid" the "kind" characters extend to him! And this: "He wos wery good to me, he wos" . . . and his tears!

I felt the number of the characters more in this novel. Everything seemed less developed and every character either barely connected (the Jellybys)* or too connected. I know Dickens has random characters, but often they are harmless and/or turn out to be more important than first appears. Not so in this novel.


* All of these characters are typical Dickens caricatures or displays of certain types of troublesome people; I appreciated them for that because, as is usual, these descriptions of error and selfishness ring quite true.



Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Last of the Mohicans

I had skimmed a version of this novel (I think it may have been abridged or paraphrased). What I understood from the story I remembered thus (and seemingly this is not perfectly accurate): two Anglo-American sisters, one (whom I did not like at all) loved and is beloved by another Anglo-American, the other loved and is beloved by an Indian; the last mentioned couple both died, and I remembered an illustration of him holding her dead form as the rest of the party tops the hill; I also think that I thought she was shot.

Anyway, I enjoyed this novel much better than The Deerslayer. The Deerslayer (Hawkeye) himself was faaaar less loquacious and irritating by comparison to his younger self. Although he was still annoying.

The prose style is stereotypical and stiff. Naturally I most was interested in Uncas and Cora and naturally less was said about them. I realized that although what I remembered was correct about Uncas, I am not sure that Cora necessarily reciprocated his feelings; the book gives no definite hint of her having any other feeling than that of admiration of him (Alice admired him as well, though probably less), but the admiration may have been more as of a savage than as of a man. I want to know what caused Cora's depression when after their first adventure, the girls conversed at the fort; this is one place where we could read Cora's romantic feelings in, but for whom? Did Cora love Heyward and know that he loved her sister? Did she love Uncas and this troubled her because of their stations? Did she think that Heyward or any like him would not love her because of her heritage? And it is irritating that this sister, beloved of the "Indian," had to be the one with that heritage.

Obviously the story was also unsatisfactory to me because of the tragic ending, doubly so because of the lack of romantic scenes between the interesting couple. The tragedy was unnecessarily, horribly random because I am not sure that Magua would have killed Cora, he was attracted to her, and I KNOW that he would have hesitated long enough for her to be saved had not that other savage killed her. Uncas would not have died if he had been better prepared. And why oh why did that usually Mr. Perfect scout have to lag behind?

Why so much unnecessary detail of the geography of the land? The novel read like a geography book often. Too many unnecessary events and details described. Too many important details left out.

Who cares about they absolutely worthless Alice and the annoyingly prominent Heyward? We can find such a pair in any silly book of the time. Why the title if not the focus on that character? Obviously this book is more famous for subject and drama of plot than artistic merit, characterization, creativity, and plot development.



Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Review of Little Dorrit

The miniseries preview first somewhat inspired me to know this story. I was not ready for Dickens at this point, and when I picked up the book and perused it, Mr. Clennam's age and that awful Pet disgusted me. I still loathe Pet and her family. How dare she exist for Clennam to love. How dare he love a young woman who is not Little Dorrit. I hate that it hurts him for so long, and it is not him that separates them but her. If he had ceased to love her, that would make all the difference in the world. I wish she had turned out shallow, so that he never could have truly loved her.

I do not mind his first love; he was younger then and does not love her at the time of the story. She and her "mermaid" manner and her extremely convoluted speech and Clennam's  reaction to her, both his diffident gentlemanliness and his embarrassment are quite interesting, if not often hilarious, moments in the story.

I loathed Mr. Dorrit; his conceit is tangible. And of the most irritating kind, sensitive. The rapier sort. I pitied poor, sweet Mr. Frederick Dorrit, and later I pitied the ill-fated Edward Dorrit. Fanny and Edmund Sparkler. They provided another rare glimpse of humor in this novel. The way Fanny "shuts him up like a box"!

I feel like the story had some loose ends with Arthur's story, with not fully explaining (at least to my understanding) Mr. Merdle's story, and with the mystery surrounding Miss bitter.





But oh, the end when Arthur is in the Marshalsea. When he finds out Little Dorrit loves him. When he loves her. Oh.


Monday, May 18, 2015

1940's Styles

When wishfully thinking about joining a sewing blog event last fall, I started looking at a 1940's style dress pattern. I have recently searched to find a similar, cheaper option and so, inadvently, introduced myself to 1940's styles. I have been amazed at the abundance of lovely necklines.

I have been less than thrilled with modern necklines. The oxford collar and v-neck are extremely unflattering for my sloping shoulders and small chest, respectively. Boat-necks and circle cuts can get boring (and need decently sized necklaces and scarves). I need interest up at top to balance my figure. Cowls, yokes, ruffles, bows, and square necks are few and far between. Gathered necklines are often combined with raglan sleeves which make my sloping shoulders look more sloping.

I have tried to start collecting patterns with lovely neckline details, and I was amazed at how many options which are flattering to me are available in 1940's pattern collections: Peter pan collars, bows, sweetheart , yoked, gathered square, square, peasant/gathered circle, ruffled, scalloped button placket.

And I ordered a 1940's pattern from ebay!!!! I will show display it soon!