Thursday, October 27, 2016

Anne is . . . Mercurial?

I've heard a little about this new Anne of Green Gables mini-series.  One article described Anne as being "mercurial." Um, what? Like Scarlett O'Hara or something? What books are you re . . . oh, wait you think the first mini-series is accurate.

My sisters and I have talked this over. Anne is a dreamer, as in romantic dreamer of ideals, not harum-scarum ladder climbing goal-setter. Also, Anne is not Jo March (who could be described as mercurial); I think this is probably the type of character everyone seems to think a girl writer in the 19th century has to be (why?).* If you have to imitate another literary character, and not the original . . . try Marianne Dashwood, she is faaaar more like Anne than tomboy Jo March was.

I was skimming through a book about L.M. Montgomery and came across a clip of a stage actress whom Montgomery thought represented her idea of Anne. Trust me, not at all like the coarse faced, common-looking Meghan Follows. And the looks match the character and manners, the book Anne is refined, the movie Anne is brassy. Also, Anne of Green Gables took place in about 1876 not the late 1890 which is what both series chose.

Yeah, I think this series might even end up even worse (there were more ridiculous descriptions) than the first. Ah, me. What was wrong with the books?!!!! I mean, I guess they're better as books and a lot could be lost in translation, but I still think the film-makers could've captured the spirit.

*And Gilbert is NOT supposed to Laurie. And yes, he was somewhat stolen from Little Women also. I mean, in the second mini-series, the film-makers literally plagiarized a scene from Little Women. Now, I realize that Gilbert's character is not as well-developed as Anne's in the books, but taking another literary character from another novel plus giving him lines from a grumpy old man in the Anne books is a bit ridiculous.

Monday, October 24, 2016

More Old Movies on Amazon Prime and AFI's Top Old Hollywood Actors and Actresses List

Made for Each Other (1939)
A little humor, sweetness, romance, and drama. I liked it much better than Penny Serenade (I considered the simple home life genre similar), but it received much poorer ratings. Jimmy Stewart (and what a man: Reagan Republican and WWII hero!) is much handsomer and nicer seeming than Cary Grant (who I think is fit for romantic comedy, emphasizing the comedy).

An Affair to Remember (1957)
Again, I like Cary Grant in comedy, not gushing romantic movies; I cannot take him seriously in a serious role. I found this plot boring and frothy. And wow, was the main woman stupid. And I thought her first boyfriend much handsomer . . . and he was probably nicer. She was just such a goose. However, this line from Grant's character is hilarious, "I'll just take my ego for a walk."

Annie Get Your Gun (1950)
This was SO stupid. Howard Keel is handsome (he looks so different without a mustache) and the song, "I Can Do Anything Better Than You" is hilarious. But the music wasn't very good, the acting and singing of the Annie Oakley actress was awful, and the plot was tedious. I skipped through much of the movie. I had watched a clip of the song before, and I should've just done that again. It was disappointing because the singers were not equal in talent.

Also, you should check out the American Film Institutes 100 Years . . . 100 Stars. What do you think of the categorization? And how many of these have you seen? I feel like I have seen more men from this list than women. Even though neither Humphrey Bogart nor Cary Grant are my favorites, I can understand why they are near the top.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Chicago Pizza

We went to visit friends near Chicago a couple months ago. So we couldn't go to a downtown place, but we still did manage two pizza places in one day, the first for thin crust and the second for deep dish.

We ate at Aurelio's first, and we ordered one big (18") pizza and a couple people got a few other items. I got pasta and a salad and had a tiny bit of pizza. But between 8 women and teenage girls the pizza disappeared (with some encouragement and challenging). Also, if you go, you need to ask for brick oven crust to have the best crust made on the old ovens.

For supper we ate at Beggar's, a restaurant in an old theater. I had enough brains to get a iphone photo of the pizza but not enough to get one of the venue :(. And here we had deep dish. Now, I am not a pizza person in large part because I am not a tomato person, so I was not expecting to love a pizza famous for tons of sauce. I didn't, but I loved the crust from this place. It might have sauce in it (oh, contradictory person) as it was peachy colored, but in any case it was delicious.

After pizza we wound up with ice cream from an old-fashioned ice cream shop called Gayety's. Perfect.

Monday, October 17, 2016

On Leaving Books Unfinished

I feel that I have put down more and more books down. I think it is probably because I have spent more time actively trying new books. Anyway, I wanted to talk about my vague reasoning behind choosing to discontinue a book.

All of this is intuitive for me mostly. I just like to think out or hear others think out why we do or ought to do things. There are so many things that I feel instinctively are wrong but am not able to express why. Anyway, I am happy to eventually get to the point when I can figure out a sound reason for the why of what I sense.

Content Concerns
I think we all know the content issues: immorality, vulgarity, foul language, violence, revenge, etc. But we don't want perfect books with boring characters . . . i.e. total unreality. And the previously mentioned list would limit historical fiction to about zip. Some good concepts to consider are both how the issue is presented and how it is described. Is it overly graphic or intended for vicariousness? Is the author sympathetic to the action? I find understated descriptions, implied actions, and hints to be faaaaar more effective in eliciting emotion and far less desensitizing.

Quality Concerns
When we read pointless and poorly written writing our aesthetic discernment and mental acumen is weakened in the same way more serious content concern deadens the conscience. And an exciting plot does not equal a good book. Actually, sometimes exciting plots are quite ridiculous. Melodrama is no substitute for art. "Grittiness" and "realism" is no substitute for talent.

I find it far easier to put away troubling books than candy-fluff books. I need to work on selectivity, especially since reading is a leisure activity.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Review of Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways to America

I had this book recommended to me twice and was pleasantly surprised to realize that this is a serious, well-researched scholarly monograph. The subject is how certain immigration patterns in the early part of United States history shaped our developing nation. The author is very detailed and traces patterns from old to new world in four different areas: Puritan Massachusetts, the Chesapeake, Quaker Delaware Valley, and the American Back-country via a multitude of cultural patterns. He describes the differences and then demonstrates how these cultures and their clashes shaped U.S. history.

I consider this an absolute must for anyone slightly interested in U.S. history. I am learning more and more that we have to understand the cultural background (and this includes the worldview that shapes the culture) in order to understand the people and events that spring from culture. In college I noticed that in both history and literature classes some people cannot or will not understand that people thought in completely different ways in different times (and this is true for different places; we are seeing this in Europe's issues with migrant assimilation . . . and criticism of U.S. gun laws). People automatically assume that anything religious or spiritual is subservient to science and reasoning, and they don't or won't understand the difference in value systems or the difference between blind trust in scientists and fallacious reasoning. We must understand limitations of science and reason within the academic scope of the scientific method, critical thinking, and logic; blind trust in the vague category of "science" is as stupid as supernatural superstition.

This book explains the worldviews in as unbiased a manner as I have ever come across. He does not pass judgment with adjectives overly often even though many activities and attitudes are condemned now; he explains how these people arrived at their ideas and how these ideas shaped their culture.

I would advise you to read it thus: the preface and introduction first, then the conclusion up to page 808 and take a look at the charts on pages 813-815, and then go and start with part 1 and read through to end.

Although the book is scholarly, I found the writing style to be quite readable. And even if you aren't planning any particular historical use when reading this book, the book has fascinating stand alone information. I found the speech ways section particularly interesting, especially as I feel that my speech ways have been influenced by multiple areas.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Guardians of the Galaxy

Years ago, a blogger mentioned the magnitude of civilian death in Superman: Man of Steel. I feel that it actually wasn't near as much as most superhero movies, but I have been more sensitive to this issue since that blogger pointed it  out, and what with the violence in our nation, criticism of our guns laws, and Islamic extremist, I am thinking more and more of violence and the attitude toward life.

I am trying to realize that America HAS committed crimes. I am trying to understand that we have done great thing and we have done horrible things, but that the horrible things do not outweigh the great and that we have not been overall as evil as many/most nations and continents. Balance and facts, peoples.

Even if someone is evil, I don't think you should rejoice in that person's death, and the Sadism in some of the wars and etc.

Anyway, people were so casual about life in this movie. I mean, really, really. And nothing else about the movie stood out as spectacular.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Yarn Along: Entrelac and A Little Taste of Poison

I am linking up again after a period of laziness here at Ginny Sheller's Yarn Along. You will have to forgive the iphone photo. And the junk at the bottom; my room will never stay clean.

Since I am knitting two items and reading two books (just kidding, I have several books and knitting projects started, this are just the most diligently pursued at the moment). My sisters and I enjoyed the first Uncommon Magic book, A Pocket Full of Murder, and we are happy to finally read the second installment, A Little Taste of Poison. Don't you just love the titles? The covers, especially the first, are adorable. If you haven't read any R.J. Anderson, you definitely should. Her Faery Rebels trilogy and Swift duo are amazing (they are connected, but not a series). Unfortunately only the first two titles are available in the U.S.; I ordered the others via Worth it.

I've been making my way through Mildred Taylor's Logan family saga. I meant to read the stories chronological order, but I got mixed up a little although not in the "main" story. I am working on my first entrelac project, a blanket. I mean for this to be slow since it is so huge and to complete other projects at the same time. I am knitting a cashmere blend scarf with this gorgeous textured triangle stitch also. I really need to stop the scarf and shawl deluge a bit and work on sweaters. I am aiming to work through "Handknit Garment Design" class on Craftsy to design a couple sweaters.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Film Review of Brooklyn

Okay, review might be too dignified for this. But whatever.

Tony! He was so sweet and precious and that accent (Northeastern American accents are not top in my fav/admired/respected accents) is so cute on him. He was adorable in character and person.

Oh, right the movie. Sweet overall, pretty clothes, interesting perspective. I liked that look at the 1950's; I usually think of poorer Irish immigrants coming over far earlier. I still don't "get" New York though. After reading Albion's Seed, I learned that it doesn't really fit in the original American cultural landscape. Another person suggested that I might find Boston more interesting because of the history. That might be part of it. People talk of New York fashion, but I just think steel, concrete, cookie cutter and mainstream rich materialistic snobs. The poorer side and the Italian Mafia and the Irish mob and Harlem have more originality (BTW. this is all in my mind, this Southern Belle has never been that far Northeast). New York just doesn't appeal to me. A little too much melodrama and some unnecessary disgusting scenes. I felt that overall the movie lacked something . . . salt, spice. I don't know. Take Tony out and you have the flat story of a silly and rather selfish and spoiled girl. Eilis wasn't good because she tried to be good, she was just sort of good because. She seemed to lack a will. And when she went back to Ireland her actions emphasize, expanded on this issue.

 I wasn't thrilled with Eilis' behavior back home; I can understand her wanting to stay, but flirting with that poor Jim was frivolous and cruel (as was ignoring Tony's letters). She was only in Ireland around a month. I could understand if she had stayed a year and ignored Tony's letters, that she might have wandered (which is wrong period, but I am talking about the understanding of it). But this just made her seem fickle. I don't think the struggle is very well-portrayed. And she seems defensive in the scene with that gossip. And as if she was only stating herself just to show up that lady and not exactly because she could make up her own mind.

I would watch it again, though. I could get more out of it. But I think that my expectations were too high.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Anne of Green Gables Week and Tag

More Anne of Green Gables things?! Yes, why not. Evie @OvertheHills is hosting a Anne of Green Gables week, and here is the link to the tag.

1. How did you get introduced to Anne of Green Gables?
Friends of our got rid of some of their books, specifically, 2-5 and 7. I grew up with Anne of Avonlea.

2. Are you more like Anne or Diana? Why?

I can be as extreme as Anne (you know that conversation with Marilla about soaring and plunging) while I can be rather too literal like Diana.

3. If Rachel Lynde called your hair as red as carrots how would you react? 

Probably almost exactly like Anne did.

4. Gilbert or Morgan Harris? 

I disdain to answer this.

5. Honest opinion on the third Anne film. 

Raving, maniac hatred. Let's please not think about it.

6. Have you seen the New Anne film? 

No. And isn't there a Netflix series coming too? I think that will be more professional than the movie. Probably not more book accurate than the first series though.

7. What in your own words is a Kindred Spirit?

Someone who share similar connotations; you don't have to explain everything you mean in childish detail. Someone you can trust.

8.  Movie Gilbert or Green Gables Fables Gilbert?

Yes, yes, yes, to this question. Green Gables Fables all the way. He combines the humor from the adult Dr. Blythe with the practically but romantic young Gilbert. The other one was a poor spoof on Laurie.

9.  Does anyone know where we can watch Road to Avonlea online?

10. Favourite book cover? 

Well, in the "original" ones I grew up with, I like Rainbow Valley (even though the children are not all and not accurately displayed), because while I like the style or posing of some of the others, the colors and hairstyles are just awful, not at all the like Anne who had excellent taste. I love this new covers series (although Blue Castle wins the entire series) best and feel it really accurately expresses the books aesthetically.

11. The Films or The Books?

The books. What a question. The films had some serious imitation plagiarization problems from the novel Little Women. Seriously, the books are nothing alike.  And the characters aren't either; Anne is nothing like Jo and Gilbert is not Laurie. The films take a small section from the novels and stretch it, change it and simplify it to cover Anne's whole life. They don't show her as an idealistic, romantic dreamer, but a immature, hasty, eccentric. She wasn't an immature eleven year old her whole life people.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Studio C Video on Millenials and Entitlement. . . or Really Anyone Today, "You Deserve a Better You"

Watch this video. It's hilarious. One of the laughing out loud videos. While you are on the Studio C channel, watch, "You're so Lucky." Another good recent one dealing with the competitiveness of hardships (!) and the condescending, "I wish I had your kind of time" attitude. Not as good as "You Deserve a Better You"  but still hilarious. Yay, for clean humor. And yay, for particularly relevant humor.

Monday, October 3, 2016

State Fair (1945)

Okay, Gregory Peck has a rival in Dana Andrews (okay, so Peck is probably still my favorite leading man, but Andrews comes in close second).

I enjoyed this film. Dana Andrews is so handsome, Margie's outfits are so pretty (I mean to make some similar), the Frake parents are hilarious, and its just fun. But I thought Margie and Wayne's naivete rather disconcerting. Hers, because normally for a story like this, the guy is a Wickham or Willoughby who means naught, and his, because a grown man should not be that dumb. Also, I can understand Margie's discontent; she had a unattractive, boring, maybe suitor, and wanted a more interesting life. But Wayne had everything he wanted and needed. I think their stories show the difference between not wanting to settle versus discontent. And I am glad of the ending, even though I think early Hollywood has a desire to make everything end unnaturally happy (more on this theme). I mean more often (Roman Holiday does exist after all) than modern films and more wholly.