Thursday, August 30, 2012

*racks brains for a clever post title*

I could call it "The Future of This Blog."  I could call it "Updates and Blatherings."  I could call it "Randomness and More Randomness."  I could call it "Sarah MacLachlan's Voice Really Annoys Me" (but that would have absolutely nothing to do with the content of the post.)  Or I could just stop trying to find a good title for this post and instead just get down to business.

(Brain, stop playing "I'll Make a Man Out Of You."  Seriously.  I should be able to say "get down to business" without you chiming in "to defeeeeeeeeat the Huns!" every single time.  Make a note of that.)

Today begins a new episode in my life.  Today I attend my very first college class.

I'm taking a Shakespeare course at a local Christian college (for free! Well, almost for free!) this semester, and though I'm terribly excited about it (Shakespeeeeeeeeeare!), I'm also a little nervous.  You have to understand that I'm pretty much the epitome of the Nerdy Sheltered Homeschooler.  (Not that I mind.)  I've never taken any kind of class outside my house (except a nature study at a wildlife reserve when I was eight) and I've certainly never taken a college-level course.  So naturally, I'm a bit scared about being out of my element.

I'm also a bit nervous that my time might not be my own this year.  I have no idea what the workload for this class might entail, and though this is my senior year and I have a much lighter school schedule than I did in eleventh grade, I might find myself extremely busy with class assignments from now until December.

In other words, Yet Another Period Drama Blog might not receive quite as much attention as I'd like to give it.

So with that in mind, I'm purposing to make each post as good as it can be.  If the posts are to be few and far between (which they might very well be) then I want to focus on quality over quantity.  And that means I want to know what you want to see on here.

A couple of months ago, I held a poll asking what I should rename my blog.  Shelves in the Closet won out over Raindrops on Roses and Miss Dashwood's Writing Desk... and yet if you're one of those particularly observant people, you'll notice that my blog name has not been changed to Shelves in the Closet.  Because I simply couldn't bring myself to change the name.  I like YAPDB, and if it doesn't bother anyone else... well, I'll keep it.  (If it does bother you, no one is forcing you to read this. Just sayin'.)  Really, the only reason I had contemplated changing my blog name was that I felt my blog was becoming more than just a place for movie reviews.

And you know what?  That's okay.  Period drama and everything related thereunto is still the focus of this blog, but I'm getting excited about branching out into new things.  Since I joined the Classics Club back in April, I've begun writing book reviews here and getting a much better reception than I had hoped for.  (Note to self: finish that A Tale of Two Cities review sometime before Christmas, okay?)  I've recently become fascinated (almost obsessed) with sewing historical costumes, and I'm anxious to blog about sewing and the fun that comes with it.  There are so many fun ideas and hobbies and interests out there, and... well, it's a wonderful world and I want to write about it!

So this is where you come in.  If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you'll know that I positively adore comments.  And in this post, I am going to unashamedly beg you for them.  Drop me a line and tell me what you want to see on here!  Some suggestions to get you started...

~More movie reviews (if so, is there a specific film you'd like to see reviewed?)
~Character studies (do you enjoy the Defending Heroes series?  Do you have another series to suggest?  Should I try some villains, for a change?)
~Musical reviews (for the most part, I stick to reviewing period movies but I'm also a musical buff.  Would you be interested in seeing reviews of movies that aren't technically period dramas?)
~Sewing-related ramblings (pictures of projects?  Ideas for patterns?  Costume reproduction inspiration?)
~Cooking and recipes (I promise, this would NOT be a blase posting of a "recipe of the week".  I'd make it funny and interesting and include lots of Failure in the Kitchen stories, because if there's one thing I'm good at, it's forgetting to turn the oven on.  What think you?)
~Contests (everyone seems to enjoy those... do you have suggestions for new competitions?)
~Something else you might suggest?  Have at it!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Marianne Dashwood Photo Shoot

A dear bloggy friend who shall remain nameless (she knows who she is...) was recently teasing me about my inability to keep a secret.  We were chatting away on Gmail and the topic of Anne-girl's approaching fifteenth birthday came up.   I could not remember how the friend who shall remain nameless might have known that Anne-girl's birthday was coming close, so I asked and she responded with: "You, being as silent as the grave, of course, mentioned on the blog that you are making a Regency-era dress for her birthday and that you told her so way before her birthday."

This (to quote Mr. Knightley) is true.  But it is also true that I was compelled to tell the dear girl about the dress in order to make sure that it fit.  Because you know, it's a dreadful thing, Sparkler, to make a dress and find it doesn't fit.  Especially if it's a first attempt.  (The practice dress I made out of bedsheets does not count, and only Melody will ever know just how dreadful that one was... let's just say I have now learned which end of the skirt is supposed to go At the Top.)  So Anne-girl was accordingly told about the dress, fittings were held, measurements were taken, and then the sewing machine was whisked out and a great deal of work ensued, accompanied by my beloved Pandora (because I cannot sew without music).

The great day arrived, the dress was duly unwrapped and oohed and ahhed over, and shortly thereafter Anne-girl and I hied ourselves to the backyard with my trusty camera to do a Marianne Dashwood photo shoot.   (I dubbed it a Marianne Dashwood shoot because Anne-girl's hair reminds me of Marianne.  Someone back me up on this.)

Due to privacy concerns and creepers on the Internet and flying purple pirate monsters, we have elected to share only the pictures that do not show Sister Dear's face, as I'm sure you will all understand.  You can scroll to the top of the page for a front view of the dress...

...and here is the back view.

Oh, and at this point I should say that I used Simplicity Patter 4055, dress B, which turned out to be quite simple once I understood the directions and had some help from Melody.  (A friend in need is a friend who flies to her computer and frantically emails her Tween for advice when the placket instructions don't make sense.  A friend indeed is a friend who promptly emails back with minute instructions and is even kind enough to scan a pattern piece into her computer when the friend in need is so silly as to lose piece 17.)

I love how the back is so nice and full for ease of movement.
"But I've BEEN on a walk today!"
"You need another!"

When the photo shoot was over, Anne looked at her hair with the help of a hand mirror and said, "How did you do THAT?"  (She's expert at complex hairstyles.  I do ponytails.)
"Um, I grabbed it and bunched it flat against your head and stuck hairpins in until it stayed up without my hand."
"Yeah... well, it's falling out."

Humph.  It was pretty while it lasted.

The dress pattern does not call for trim on the sleeves, but I felt the black lace added a little flair to them and dressed it up a wee bit.  The sleeves are not intended to be this length, either, but at Melody's suggestion I shortened them from their original wrist-length.  I like them better this way.

"Oh, those Lucases are such artful people indeed. They are all for what they can get!  However, your coming just at this time is the greatest of comforts.  And we are very pleased to hear what you tell us about the latest fashions for long sleeves."
~Mrs. Bennet, P&P95

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Period Drama Trivia Quiz ... Answers!

And we have six winners!  Congratulations to Melody, Kiri Liz, Jessa Bri, Rachel, Margaret Hale and Marguerite Blakeney, who earned 24 points apiece.

The quote "I have now said quite enough, madam, so... good hunting!" is a two-parter.  The first phrase comes from Pride and Prejudice 1995, spoken by none other than Fitzwilliam Darcy in the Failed Proposal Scene.  The second phrase is originally from The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling but is also quoted in The Story of the Treasure Seekers by E. Nesbit (one of the best children's books out there).

1. What does Mr. Guppy call Esther Summerson?
a) "My angel."
Do we need any further commentary? :D
(Bleak House)

2. Why does John Ridd get dressed up in his good clothes on a weekday?
b) "No reason."
Boring answer, I think we all agree.
(Lorna Doone)

3. What kind of food does Hyacinth Clare find vulgar?
a) Cheese
As Scullery Maid pointed out, it is the whole of society minus Tom and Polly that find peanuts vulgar.
(Wives and Daughters)

4. What makes Mr. Bingley special in Mrs. Bennet's eyes?
d) His 5,000 a year.
"And he has FIVE THOUSAND a year!"
(Pride and Prejudice)

5. According to Squire Hamley, an engagement is not...
b) an elephant.
"Did I say an engagement was an elephant, mum?"
(Wives and Daughters)

6. According to Lizzy Bennet, what is a happy thought indeed?
a) shelves in the closet
"Shelves in the closet.  Happy thought indeed."
(Pride and Prejudice

7. What did John Chivery want inscribed over his ashes?
c) The name "Amy"
"Here lie the mortal remains of John Chivery, never anything worth mentioning..."
(Little Dorrit)

8. Complete this quote: "Look back..."
a) "Look back at me."
And of course, she didn't look back.  Heartless Margaret.  I would have.  (Thank you my dear, I think we have all apprehended that much...)
(North and South)

9. Why doesn't Mrs. Potter want tradesmen in the house?
a) They carry dust.
"I don't want tradesmen in the house, they carry dust."
(Miss Potter)

10. What epithet should be used to summon Mrs. Forrester's runaway cow?
c) "Bessie dearest"
The best part of this scene is the look on Major Gordon's face.

11. What does Colonel Brandon offer Edward Ferrars?
d) A living in Delaford
Actually, it's poor Elinor who's stuck doing the offering.
(Sense and Sensibility)

12. What does Marguerite Blakeney drop in the library?
a) Her earring
"How careless of you to have dropped it."
(The Scarlet Pimpernel)

Thanks for playing, everyone!  This was such fun!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Yep, it's another birthday...

We like August birthdays in my family.  :P

Today my littlest sister, known as Laura on this blog, turns eleven years old.  *Amy falls on the floor in a dead swoon, unable to comprehend this phenomenon*  Pretty much every birthday post or card I've ever written for my siblings contains some variation on the "I can't believe how old you're getting" theme, so I'll skip it this time and write a little open letter to Laura (not her real name, but you knew that).

Dear Laura,

First of all, happiest of happy birthdays!  You're a very fine girl with no nonsense about you, most of the time at least, and I'm so grateful to have you as a sister.

(The fact that you really do bear a startling resemblance to Melissa Gilbert in the Little House on the Prairie TV show is no small joke amongst our siblings, so I thought it quite fitting to have pictures of her to illustrate this post.)

Your bubbly sense of humor, your passion for the ridiculous, your flawless talent for mimicry and your easygoing nature make you a tremendously fun person to be around-- I love all our inside jokes!  I'll never look at prowl cars, dirty socks or the name Jeffrey in the same way ever again.  :D

Our family has so many special memories because of you--no one has forgotten the time you put a toad in your mouth at the age of two or when you locked yourself in the bathroom and promptly fell asleep the same year.  (Your talent for taking impromptu naps whenever and wherever was a great source of amusement to the rest of us when you were a toddler.)  I'll always remember the night you were born and how I was the first sibling to hold you.  I was so excited to have a third sister, and you've been an amazing one in the last eleven years.

Your tender heart and boundless compassion are a constant source of inspiration to me-- okay, maybe I'm not inspired so much as to feel sorry for half-dissolved vitamins that get thrown in the trash, but you've definitely taught me to be more thoughtful of other people's needs.  Because we all know you're very sensitive to other people's needs... right? :D

Every day you impress me a little more with your musical abilities-- I remember back when you were eight and picking out ragtime music and the William Tell Overture on the piano by ear.  You've progressed so far since then, and we're all so proud of you.  Just stick to playing "Happy Birthday" on the piano and not setting the pitch when we sing it, okay?  (For the rest of you: Laura's notorious for starting "Happy Birthday" somewhere around the D above high C.)

You're so special to me, little Miss Egbert!  Happy birthday!


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Blog parties and tags and more tags, oh my!

Kiri Liz over at Lianne Taimenlore is hosting a Disney blog party this week, and as part of the festivities she's shared these tag questions for her readers to fill out.  

Which is your favorite Disney film and why?

My favorite Disney film is one that not many people have heard of, actually... it's the 1946 live-action-slash-animated feature So Dear to My Heart.  I first saw this when I was about three, and it's remained a family favorite ever since.  It's heartwarming and endearing and funny and old-fashioned (takes place in 1903!), it emphasizes good Christian values, it has memorable songs and it features a square dance scene!  What's not to like?  I really should review it on here sometime... *adds to lengthy list*

Which is the most annoying/worst Disney film and why?

The Shaggy Dog (1959).  UGH.  We rented this one because it starred Fred MacMurray and Tommy Kirk, two actors whose performances we'd enjoyed in the hilarious Absent-Minded Professor (1961).  I'm not going to bother explaining what it's about-- if you're really curious, voila!  Wikipedia!  Have you ever heard of a shaggy dog story?  It's the kind that you tell at sleepovers, at 1 AM when everyone's really, really tired and goofy.  It goes on and on and on forever until finally it ends abruptly with a let-down ending.  (If you still don't know what kind of joke I'm talking about, leave me a comment or shoot me an email and I'll enlighten you.  You probably won't like me anymore afterwards, though, so I wouldn't advise it.)  I do not think it is a coincidence that this film was named The Shaggy Dog.

What was the first Disney film you can remember watching?

Bambi, but just barely.  My mom tells me I was two when I saw that.  I think I watched Winnie the Pooh before then, though.  Put it this way: I can't remember a time when I hadn't yet seen Pooh or Bambi.

What are some of your favorite quotes from Disney films?

Are you ready for this?  (Thanks, Kiri, for making it "quotes" with an S...)

"Do not speak to me of [such and such] at this time."  (Alpha, Up)
"But it's a TALKING DOG!" (Russell, Up)
"This is South America.  It's like America.  BUT SOUTH."  (Ellie, Up)
"Only one of them ram lambs is gonna win.  The rest is gonna lose.  But no matter what happens, I want to see you come out of that ring like a Kincaid.  Walkin' proud."  (Granny, So Dear to My Heart)
"Oh great.  Return of the Astro-Nut."  (Hamm, Toy Story 3)
"Don't worry! I know about Buzz's Spanish mode!" (Jessie, Toy Story 3)
"What are you lookin' at, feathers?"  (Mr. Potato Head, Toy Story 3)
"See that Lucifer gets his bahhhhhhhhhth."  (Evil Stepmother, Cinderella)
"Ooh-OOOH-ooh.  The CLAW." (Aliens, Toy Story 2 and 3)
"Madam, that is entirely beside the point!" (Mr. Banks, Mary Poppins)
"Hold my fin.  HOLD MY FIN."  (Marlin, Finding Nemo)
"They're called s'mores, Buzz."  (Woody, Toy Story 2)
"That doesn't even rhyme."  "Yeah, it does."  (Carl and Russell, Up)

Ahem... yes... I enjoy quoting.

Which Disney character do you think you are most like?

Probably Marlin from Finding Nemo.  Pathetic, I know, but I tend to be overprotective and paranoid just like him.  "Hey! That snail was about to CHARGE!"

What is your favorite Disney film song?

I have to pick one??? All right, fine.  Feed the Birds from Mary Poppins.  That happens to have been Walt Disney's favorite, too, but that's not why I like it so much.  :D

What is one Disney film you find yourself recommending over and over?

So Dear to My Heart (it's really sad how few people have seen it!).

What is one thing from any Disney film or films that really irks you?

The way they tend to butcher the book they adapt.  Now, in some cases this actually works out (see SDtMH) but in a lot of cases it makes for a crummy story.  Alice in Wonderland is just wacko.  The Swiss Family Robinson is laughable.  And do not speak to me of Johnny Tremain at this time.

Who is your favorite Disney heroine and why?

Hard call.  I'm not really a big fan of any of the Disney princesses, to be honest... Belle is the only one with any real sense about her (I don't consider Mulan a princess and I know basically nothing of Pocahontas), but it seems that a lot of people choose Belle as a favorite and I like to be different.  So I'll say Jessie from Toy Story.  Oh, and I always really liked Wendy in Peter Pan...

Who is your favorite Disney hero and why?

Bert in Mary Poppins, I think.  He's fun and entertaining and nice to everybody.  I'm afraid I'm not that partial to most Disney heroes... the princes tend to be losers (well, with a name like Charming, what can you expect?) and though I really like a lot of the other guy characters (like Buzz in Toy Story or Pooh in Winnie the Pooh) I'm not sure they could really be called heroes.   Wait, wait, I really do like the Beast in Beauty and the Beast before he became a prince.  That sounds weird, yes, but you know what else is weird?  His hair after the transformation.  Ewwww.

Who is your favorite Disney sidekick and why?

I have to choose one? Hmmm... okay, Dug from Up.  He's lovable, entertaining, loyal and always eager to help.

If you could spend a day in any Disney film, which one would you pick and why?

Probably Mary Poppins.  Why?  I grew up on that one and I'd feel right at home in it, I think.  Plus, the clothes.  Sighhhhh.

Choose any one Disney film character and place them in any Disney film (other than his or her own). How would the story be different?

Okay... so if you stuck Mr. Potato Head in Cinderella... wow, that'd be interesting.  He'd make sarcastic remarks about pretty much everything (including Cinderella herself) and would probably get booted out of the stepmother's house in five minutes flat.  Stepmother would probably sack Cinderella while she was at it, because she'd naturally blame poor Cinderella for the smart-mouthed tuber hanging around the kitchen, so Cinderella would be forced to earn her own living in the village.  She'd end up marrying the friendly grocer and live happily ever after with a guy who actually has a personality.  Score.

That's all for the Disney tag questions, but since I'm on a question-answering roll here, I'm going to respond to the questions Hayden tagged me with last week.  Thanks Hayden!

1. Tag five others and write a line or two on why you like their blog.
2. If tagged post your five favourite words.
3. Make up five questions for the persons you tag, and answer the five the person who tagged you asked you.

Here's who I'm tagging:

1) Alexandra - her blog is just so fun to read, and I adore her writing style.  Plus, she's an even bigger TSP fan than I am which is saying a lot.  :D
2) Eowyn - I love getting a little peek into her life when reading her blog, and she has all the right opinions regarding Les Miserables.  (Um, for the record, I DO like people who don't have the same ideas I do about Les Miz... not to give you the wrong idea or anything.)
3) Maria Elisabeth - Her blog was one of the first I started following.  I love reading her thoughts about books and movies and anything Jane Austen!
4) Petie - Her blog is so well-written and put-together... I always feel a little bit of jealousy when I read one of her brilliant posts. ;)
5) Rachel - I've linked to her "this, that and the other thing" blog, but when I first got acquainted with her it was through reading her writing blog, The Inkpen Authoress-- a constant source of inspiration to me!

My five favorite words:

1. Humuhumunukunukuapuaa.  It's a little Hawaiian fish, in case you didn't know, and it's pronounced "hoo-muh-hoo-muh-noo-kuh-noo-kuh-ah-puh-WAH-ah."  Don't listen to Mrs. Potato Head on the Toy Story 3 short.  She got it wrong.
2. Frippery.  This is just so fun to say.
3. Facetious.  I like to use this in place of "funny."  It makes me sound Wise and Learned, which is always a good thing.  :P
4. Triskaidekaphobia.  I'm not in the least afraid of the number 13, but it's fun to say.
5. Syzygy.  No vowels... it's just a weirdo.  Which is probably why I like it.  My grandfather taught me how to spell it when I was about five and it's stuck with me ever since.

Now for Hayden's questions:

1) What's one book character you think you should hate, but don't?

Oh, dear, I'm blanking on this one.  Javert in Les Miserables?  Well, I've never yet heard of anyone who actually DID hate Javert, despite his villainy... so maybe Charlie in Rose in Bloom.  There's every reason why I should despise him, but I just can't.  *sobs in corner*

2) What's the hardest thing you ever had to write?

Too many to pick from.  Maybe my research paper in 11th grade?

3) Now a little Pride and Prejudice-ness: How many Bennets does it take to change a lightbulb?

All seven, naturally.  Kitty to do the actual screwing in, Lydia to hold the ladder, Mary to make dire predictions about electrocution, Mrs. Bennet to fuss and fret about how the whole thing is frazzling her nerves, Lizzy to smirk over it all and hand extra lightbulbs after Kitty breaks each one, Jane to stand by the telephone ready to call 911 and Mr. Bennet to sit in his easy chair with his newspaper over his face (only present because his wife insisted).

4) What's your favorite type of flower?

Roses.  Standard answer, I know, but they're so pretty and they smell so good.

5) What's your favorite period in history?

Either the American Civil War or the Tudor period in England.  I also really like studying the World Wars, but that sounds rather morbid...

And now for my five questions:

1) What's the last book you checked out from the library?
2) You can have anything you like for dinner tonight-- budget, diet and what's-in-the-refrigerator don't enter into the equation.  What'll it be?
3) What's your favorite joke?  (And don't say "the one about the dog and the banana."  Tell it to us!)
4) Which famous person (living or dead) would be the most colossal bore to meet?  I'm trying to put a spin on the average "who would you like to spend a day with" question.
5) You have to pick just one-- Sense and Sensibility or Pride and Prejudice? Why?

If anyone else who didn't get tagged wants to fill out these questions, go for it! Consider yourself tagged as of now.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Period Drama Trivia Quiz

This picture has absolutely nothing to do with the post.  It's just funny
and I'm currently in a rather silly mood.

Last week, Anne-girl and I went to a sleepover at a dear friend's house, and naturally all three of us suffered from a serious overdose of Giggles.  During our visit, we put together a period drama trivia quiz just for laughs, and with the other girls' permission I decided to post it on here.

Each question is multiple-choice, with four choices per answer, and each comes from a different period drama (though some come from the same one).   You can get one point for each correct answer and one point for each correct guess as to which question comes from which film.  Maximum number of points: 24.  Comment with your guesses and I'll reveal all the correct answers next Saturday.  I won't publish your comments until then, to make it fair.  (There are some other random references/quotes sprinkled throughout the answers... you will not get any more points for identifying these, but you may tremendously impress me, so go for it!)

I have now said quite enough, madam, so... good hunting! (name THAT quote if you can.  The "good hunting" part, that is.)

1. What does Mr. Guppy call Esther Summerson?
a) "My angel"
b) "Woman"
c) "Your Highness"
d) "Lady Dedlock"

2. Why does John Ridd get dressed up in his good clothes on a weekday?
a) He's going to London to get his hair cut.
b) "No reason."
c) "It's Sunday, Annie.  Duh."
d) It makes him feel pretty.

3.  What kind of food does Hyacinth Clare find vulgar?
a) Cheese
b) Peanuts
c) Chocolate
d) Organic baby banana food

4.  What makes Mr. Bingley special in Mrs. Bennet's eyes?
a) His beautiful curly hair
b) His charming and elegant sisters
c) His private petting zoo
d) His 5,000 a year

5. According to Squire Hamley, an engagement is not...
a) something to be taken lightly
b) an elephant
c) a thing to be broken
d) a llama wearing pink pajamas with penguins on the bottom.

6. According to Lizzy Bennet, what is a happy thought indeed?
a) shelves in the closet
b) a single man in possession of a good fortune
c) Pemberley
d) Mr. Collins doing the cha-cha

7. What did John Chivery want inscribed over his ashes?
a) The name "Lorna Doone"
b) The word "Mother"
c) The name "Amy"
d) The symbol of Batman

8. Complete this quote: "Look back..."
a) "Look back at me."
b) "And don't move a muscle."
c) "And say goodbye."
d) "Do I have toothpaste on my face?"

9. Why doesn't Mrs. Potter want tradesmen in the house?
a) They carry dust.
b) They carry fleas.
c) They try to sell you things you don't want.
d) They eat all the leftovers.

10. What epithet should be used to summon Mrs. Forrester's runaway cow?
a) "Bonnie dearest"
b) "Betty dearest"
c) "Bessie dearest"
d) "Get back here immediately you stupid cow"

11. What does Colonel Brandon offer Edward Ferrars?
a) A coach and four
b) A goose that lays golden eggs
c) A spyglass monocle thingy
d) A living in Delaford

12.  What does Marguerite Blakeney drop in the library?
a) Her earring
b) Her glass slipper
c) Her glove
d) Her timey-wimey detector.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hipy Papy Bthuthdth Thuthda Bthuthdy

Pooh looked on admiringly.
"I'm just saying 'A Happy Birthday,' said Owl carelessly.  
"It's a nice long one," said Pooh, very much impressed by it.
"Well, actually, of course, I'm saying 'A Very Happy Birthday with love from Pooh.'  Naturally it takes a good deal of pencil to say a long thing like that."
"Oh, I see," said Pooh.
~In Which Eeyore Has a Birthday and Gets Two Presents

Today, ladies, is my sister Anne-girl's eighty-first birthday.  It seems like just yesterday we were little girls playing dress-up and cavorting around in the imaginary lands she dreamed up.  It seems like just yesterday we were... oh, you're not even paying attention, are you?  You're still staring at the first sentence in this paragraph and scratching your head.  What on EARTH is bothering--oh, is it the eighty-one thing?  Sorry, I've never been good at math.  Eighty-one or thereabouts, give or take sixty-six years.  Don't quibble about details.

I was two years and five months old when Anne-girl was born, and though I can remember things that happened before the advent of Her Sisterliness, I honestly don't remember what life in general was like without her.  She's the Marianne to my Elinor, the carefree to my cautious, the chocolate to my peanut butter, the Bertie to my Jeeves, the figmentation to my imagination (um... don't ask), the other half of me.

When we were little, it was Anne-girl who orchestrated our pretend games, who created the imaginary countries we'd travel to daily.   She spun adventures, created characters (and acted out most of them), invented political turmoil and intrigue and mysteries, designed elaborate costumes and towed me along with her wherever she went.  Sure, I was queen in name when we went to Jewelbank (the longest-running fantasy land, spanning me-at-nine-and-her-at-six to me-at-twelve-and-her-at-ten) but she was the puppeteer pulling my strings.  And I loved almost every minute of it.

I can hardly remember a time when we didn't play pretend games, but as we got a little older, our ways of entertainment began to vary a bit.  Winter evenings were frequently spent in the basement, lying on our stomachs on the cold cement floor as we crafted a never-ending story with our plastic Disney princess castle and its miniature figurines.  (American Girl paper dolls enjoyed their own flash of fame soon after that, and to this day we still burst into giggles when one of us innocently mentions something about Stirling Howard and a teddy bear.)  Summer evenings flashed by out in the backyard, playing runandhide (yes, it's one word) or abstractedly swinging on our creaky old swingset, watching fireflies and giggling about nothing.

Now that we're older, our tastes have changed.  Obviously.  We still gab, we still giggle, but instead of enacting talent showdowns between Cinderella and Princess Aurora, we challenge each other to writer wars.  American Girl books have been shelved and replaced with Pride and Prejudice and The Scarlet Pimpernel.  Little Bear is a thing of the past-- North and South has taken its place.  Winnie the Pooh, of course, remains the same, because nobody ever outgrows Winnie the Pooh.  (See quote at top of post.)

A decade and a half has passed, and a lot has changed, but it's been for the better.  We're closer now than we've ever been, and that makes me so happy.  Here's to the next fifteen years, sister o' mine.  Please continue.

Anne-girl at age 3 and Amy at age 6

Much love,
your Elinor

P.S.  Turnips care deeply about many things.  Turnips are strongly emotional vegetables.  Never forget that nugget of truth.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Lorna Doone (2000) Review

"Bring Carver here."
~Sir Ensor Doone, Lorna Doone

"Did he just say 'bring coffee here'?"
~Anne-girl ______, Real Life

Two movie reviews in a week?  Unheard of! Absurd! Two movie reviews in a week?  Unthinkable!

(Name the song I'm paraphrasing and you win... honor and glory.   Also Monopoly money, but don't spend it all in one place.)

Watching Lorna Doone with my sister earlier this week was a new experience for me in many ways.  It was the first period drama I'd seen that was based on a book I'd never read.  It also happened to be the first period drama I'd seen that was based on a book my sister had read before I got my hands on it.  (Usually it's the other way round.   Perks of being the oldest, you know.)  And it was the first period drama I'd seen in which I had almost no idea of what was going to happen next.

Lorna Doone is romantical.  It's suspenseful.  It's scary at times.  It keeps you on the edge of your seat and I guarantee that you will cry at least once.  Or twice.  Or thrice.  (I love saying "thrice."  It's much more fun than "three times.")  It doesn't follow the book very well at all (from what my sister tells me).  But it's a sweeping, beautiful story not easily forgotten, and for that reason I'm going to be very, very careful not to spoil anything for you in this post.  Lorna Doone seems to be one of those sadly-overlooked period dramas--while most people have seen or at least heard of P&P95, if you mention Lorna, you'll get blank looks--but it really shouldn't be that way.   So I'm going to do my best from here on out to convince you to watch it straightaway if you haven't done so already.

{Brief word of warning: though there is no inappropriate content and it is not really a gory story as far as blood-and-guts goes, there are a few violent scenes in Lorna involving some rather intense battles.  I do not recommend this movie for children.}

{Second brief word of warning: I really, really liked this movie.  However, I can never resist poking fun when there's something around to poke fun at, so I may make a few jokes at the characters' expense.  This does not in any way reflect upon my opinion of them--the hero in particular.  He's a great guy but he's also easy to laugh at.  Sorry, John.  No hard feelings, yes? You have a sense of humor too, you know.}

{End of words of warning.}

The story begins in the mid-seventeenth century with the sudden and unprovoked murder of Jack Ridd, a simple farmer in the valley of Exmoor, England.  He is murdered by a band of notorious outlaws, the legendary Doone family who come out of their fortress thingy every so often to rob and pillage the village.  (You see I'm a bit of a poet and you did not know it, what?)  Jack's fourteen-year-old son John swears to avenge his father's death and begins to harbor a strong hate for the Doone family.  His mother, however, convinces him that trying to kill his father's murderers will make him just as bad as they are.  "Killing is the Doone way.  Not ours."

Ooh! Did I mention that his mother is Miss Browning/Mrs. Jamieson/Mrs. Potter?  That is, Barbara Flynn? Because she is.  And she was awesome, by the way.  Here's a really bad-quality picture of her.  Behold.

Soon after this, John nearly drowns while fishing in the river near the Doone valley.  A little girl passing by drags him out of the current, and when he tries to thank her she tells him her name is Lorna but refuses to say anything else about herself, saying only that he should go away and never come back.  (First he teaches her to fish with a spear.  Then he leaves.  Grudgingly.)  It is unclear at this point in the story whether she is playing hard to get or simply doesn't want company today.  (Or perhaps there's another reason... but the audience doesn't know that yet.  Unless, of course, the audience has guessed that she's a Doone.  Which would be a very clever guess on the audience's part, especially if the clever audience has happened to glance at the title of the movie.  High five, clever audience.)

Eight years pass and John grows up while turning around in the hay field.  If you've seen the movie, you'll know what I'm talking about-- if you haven't, I'll just explain that I was making a joke there because the camera pans in on Young John working in the field, zooms in on his leather vest thingy, and then zooms out again and he turns around and boom, it's Mr. Coxe.  Er, that is, Older John.   (As you can see on the right, his hair's quite a bit less frightening in this movie than it was in Wives and Daughters.)

Anyways, John's now grown up and in charge of the farm, yada yada, and he and his family are getting ready for a party to welcome home their friend/relative/somethingorother Tom Faggus, who happens to be a notorious highwayman.  (It's also John's birthday but nobody really makes a big deal out of that.) Sad to relate, this Tom fellow--who happens to be Colonel Fitzwilliam from P&P95--wears no bunch of lace at his throat, but of course this was in the days before Sir Percy so it's excusable.  It is unclear why the honest Ridd family is so attached to this incorrigible bandit.  John's sister Annie seems to be especially fond of Tom, which is rather disturbing because he's her godfather.  Yeah, you read that right. Everybody say EWWWWWW.

Ahem.  Moving on.

The party goes on and everybody's happy until John's uncle, Reuben Huckabuck, comes riding into the shenanigans after having been beat up by a group of Doones (who set upon him for no reason whatsoever, which seems to be a kind of theme with them).  Furious, John and Reuben take the matter up with the magistrate, Baron de Whichehalse (I did NOT make that name up, seriously) who isn't much help because he sides with the Doones anyway.  Except that you aren't supposed to know that at this point.  Ooops.  (But you find it out about ten minutes later.  So I didn't really spoil anything.)

John and Reuben decide to take matters into their own hands and confront the Doones themselves, only Reuben's doctor has forbidden him to attack people with guns and things, so John goes up to deal with the Doones alone.  (While we're on the subject, I might add that the Doone territory is referred to as the "Doone valley", yet a good deal of it is on a hilltop.  This does not compute.)  As he passes the place where he fell in the river eight years ago, he sees a beautiful young woman fishing with a spear... and lo and behold, it's Lorna, the girl who had pulled him out of the river in the dear dead days gone by never to be spoken of.

Cue romantic kissy music.  (By the way.  The music in this film is spectacular.)

Many apologies for the bad quality of these pictures... you can
tell it's an obscure film when Google Images has so little to offer.
They have a highly interesting chase scene in which she goes running away and he goes thundering after her (so much for "quietly sneak up on the Doones and do something drastic-- I don't know what, but SOMETHING") and finally manages to convince her that he's not a man-eating elephant, but an adult version of the kid she pulled out of the river in the dear dead days.  (I may have embellished that description just a tad wee bit).  So he wants to come back and see her again, but she says No very decidedly, and so he tootles back home having apparently forgotten about his quest for vengeance.  You know the twitterpated scene in the movie Bambi?  Yeah.  That.

After being rather rudely kicked off the property by his fair lady, John puts on his Sunday clothes to go see her again.  Poor guy can't take a hint.  (When does he get any farm work done, I would like to know?)  This was one of Anne-girl's and my favorite scenes, because his sister Lizzie (or was it Annie? I forget) comes in to ask what he's getting all dressed up for, and he fumbles a moment before replying, "Uh... no reason."  We maintain that "uh, because it makes me feel pretty" would have been a more interesting answer.

Anyways, he goes to meet up with Lorna again, and though she's glad to see him, she tells him that they can never be together because they've only seen each other twice in their entire lives she's a Doone.  Horrified, John goes racing back home with conflicting emotions. "She's the granddaughter of the guy who killed your dad."  "Yeah, but she's PRETTY!"  His moodiness prompts his sisters and the hired hand to speculation about what's bothering him.

"What's the matter with John?"
"Bit by a mad dog, I suppose."

But John goes back to see Lorna again anyways, because hey!  True love is the greatest thing in the world, right?  Except, of course, for a nice MLT (mutton lettuce and tomata) where the mutton is nice and lean and... where was I?

There's only one big problem with John and Lorna's living happily ever afterward.  Well, two big problems.  The first is that she's a Doone.  ("Thank you, my dear...")  The second is a fellow whom Anne and I have fondly dubbed Coffee.

The truth of the matter is that his name is Carver.  Carver Doone, to be specific.  Grandson of Sir High Muckety-Muck Ensor Doone, lord of the Doones (who 'appens to be Nicodemus Boffin from Our Mutual Friend).  Son of a mysterious long-locked dude known as The Counsellor, a guy with no real power (who 'appens to be Mr. Merdle from Little Dorrit).  Heir to the seat of power in the Doone valley when Ensor kicks the bucket.  Proud wearer of a ridiculous hairdo that Anne and I have nicknamed The Smokin' Mocha Mohawk (playing on that coffee theme there, you know).  Nicknamed "Coffee" after a slight misunderstanding regarding a line his grandfather says near the beginning of the film (see the top of this post).  Villain of the piece... in love with the heroine.  Against her will.  Duhn-duhn-duhn.

Carver wants to marry Lorna (if we interpret "wants" as "has no other goal in life and will kill anyone who gets in the way of his pursuit of romance") and she definitely doesn't want him.  Her grandfather and guardian, Sir Ensor, is willing for them to marry, but won't let Lorna be forced into a marriage against her will.  John's determined to take Lorna out of Doone valley and back to his farm to be his wife, but Ensor is getting old and feeble and Lorna refuses to leave him.  Meanwhile, captain Jeremy Stickles of Charles II's army comes to the Ridd farm with a summons to appear before Judge Jeffreys in London (re. the complaint that Uncle Reuben launched to the king about the Doones-- yeah, when Reuben said he was going all the way to the top, he wasn't kidding).  This is another of my favorite portions of dialogue in the film, when Stickles hands John the court summons:

"You CAN read, can't you?"
*lowers scroll and eyelids*  "Yes."

And... that's about all I'm going to tell you as far as the story goes, because I don't want to spoil it.  For now, let's just say that there are a lot of plot twists.  Treachery.  Treason.  Daring rescues.  Epic battles.  Awkward proposals.  Learning to shoot guns (not too badly, for a woman :P).  Adorable weddings.  Returned letters.  Heartbreak.  More heartbreak.  Horses who know the way home.  Bonking people on the thumb with hammers (see below).  Endings that I'm dying to tell you about but won't for fear of spoiling it, like I said.  (I hold no such restrictions in the comments, however, so beware.)  What else can I say?  Watch it.

Look, Puddle, it's Daniel when he was little! Now you really MUST see this.
The cast in this movie is pretty close to perfect.  Richard Coyle is, frankly, not really big and intimidating enough to convincingly play John-Ridd-of-the-book, but according to Anne-girl, John-of-the-book and John-of-the-movie are pretty much two different people so it's all good.  Amelia Warner makes a lovely Lorna Doone (though The Sister says she's too tall...), even though poor Lorna doesn't get half the screen time she should, and when she does appear... she's not really given much to say.  Or do.  Except be beautiful.  Well, there is that one scene pictured below... but I promised I wouldn't spoil.  Let's just say that I cried during that part (surprise, surprise).

I'm usually a big fan of intricate hairstyles... but I like her hair better when
it's just down and loose.   What do y'all think?
Aidan Gillen was absolutely fabulous as Coffee.  I have to admit to something here... I actually kinda liked him.  *ducks*  Horrid, I know! I'm not supposed to like the villain (um, duh?) and he was most definitely the villain... but I just couldn't help it.  It was kind of a mix between "ewww, you slimeball, go away and never come back" and "aww, why can't you be a good guy?  'Cause you'd be an awesome good guy.  YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE ENDED THE WAY YOU DID."  (All you who have seen the movie... can I get an amen on that??)  Every time he appeared, the music would do this Wagnerian here-comes-the-bad-guy thing, and it basically sounded like... a warning signal of some kind.  Hard to describe.  But we took it to mean that the coffee had finished percolating.  (Seriously, it does sound like a timer going off.  Kind of.)  Hence the term Kaffeemusik.

Oh, and he had really cool boots.  So did John.  I'm finding myself rather liking 17th-century fashions.  Take a look at Lorna's dress in that waterfall picture at the top... isn't it purty?

Sadly enough, there are not that many really quotable lines from Lorna Doone-- not so many as, say, Little Dorrit or Anne of Green Gables.  I mean, it's a lot funnier and more apropos to run around the house saying, "Sparkler, be quiet!" than "You break my heart and then accuse ME of cruelty!".  Heehee.  But hey, when there are a lack of good lines to quote, Anne-girl and I make up our own.  Kaffeemusik!

The supporting characters (a multitude of whom were familiar faces from other period dramas--yay!) were all quite fabulous in their own right.  John's sisters, Annie and Lizzie, were a bit difficult to tell apart at first (hint: Lizzie has glasses) but I got used to them pretty quickly and their relationships with John were so cute.

"I'm not going to be marrying some ignorant farmer."
"Don't worry, nobody'll have you once he gets a look at you."

However, was I the only one who found it a bit far-fetched that Annie so calmly accepted the fact that John wanted to marry Lorna?
"She's a DOONE?"
"Yeah... does that bother you?"
"Eh, I just want you to be happy."  (Okay, I paraphrased that a bit because I don't remember exactly how it goes and IMDb is most unhelpful when it comes to Lorna Doone quotes.)

I didn't care for Tom Faggus at first, but found him more and more likable as the story went on--even though he had to be the bearer of Evil Tidings in the second half of the story (don't worry, I'm not revealing anything) it definitely wasn't his fault, and the One Big Really Stupid Thing that he did after THAT was actually a good thing in a way because... oh, nuts.  If you've seen it, drop me a line in the comments and we can gab about that part, okay?

Me?  Tear up at this part? Nevah.  Don't even incinerate such a thing.
Sarah Ridd, John's mother, is supposed to be a weak, wimpy-weepy sort of character in the book (according to Anne-girl) but I liked her strong portrayal in the movie.  It's nice to see a period drama mom with a bit of backbone to her.  When you think about, an awful lot of mothers in period dramas get a bad rap.  Either they're dead before the story starts (e.g. Mrs. Dorrit) or they're wishy-washy (e.g. Mrs. Dashwood) or they're complete morons (e.g. Mrs. Bennet) or they're selfish stepmothers (e.g. Mrs. Gibson).  Now, if Sir Percy had had a mom, she probably would have been fabulous... oh, wait, she was insane.  Scratch that.

Back to the supporting characters.  They were pretty much all great, the only notable exception being Young Lorna (is she a supporting character?).  She was kind of stupid.  Not quite annoying... but almost.  However, her rather flat performance is forgotten in the grand scheme of things, and boy is there ever a grand scheme of things.  Unrequited love, requited love, happy endings, sad endings, lots of mud (ahem), amazing music, gorgeous hairstyles, not-so-gorgeous hairstyles (smokin' mocha mokawk, anyone?), lies, honesty, stolen jewels, family secrets...

...just go watch it.  I promise you will not be disappointed.  In fact, you may even like it enough to watch it twice in one week.

I want that red blouse... very badly.
Not, of course, that my sister and I would have done such a thing.  What a dreadful idea.  How dare you even suggest it.  Off with your head.

*relents*  Oh, very well, I'll forgive you this once.  You'll still be hanged of course, but I'll spare you the drawing and quartering.

That was a joke.

Also a quote from Judge Jeffreys.  Not quite the sweetest person in the movie, but...

...never mind. It wasn't that funny.  Here's a Lorna Doone trailer.  I made it.  For you.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Journaling: My Hidden Catalyst {guest post by Elizabeth Rose}

Elizabeth Rose is taking a blog tour to promote her new book, Violets Are Blue, and she kindly agreed to stop off here and write a guest post for y'all to enjoy! 

“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”
— Anne Frank

I am a word crafter. More practically speaking, I write books. But where did this passion for the written word begin? Many have asked me this question before, and though I try to reply in a manner that is fresh and invigorating each time, the answer is ultimately the same: I journal.

The best advice I have been given on writing is to keep doing it. Just like a person cannot become a professional dancer solely through watching The Nutracker repeatedly, a writer will never grow unless he actually begins to put pen to paper. Journaling is the simplest step with which to begin, because it requires little invention on your own part (yes, I know that sounds terribly dull on the surface, but we all have to begin somewhere).

It was a warm day in late spring. I was almost six years old, and Momma and I were running some errands alone. As we strolled through the aisles in Walmart, my eyes lit on the shelf of journals. And there it was. Spiral-bound, dull pink, and with the words Jesus Loves Me inscribed on the cover. Little did I know then that this journal would be the catalyst that first inspired me to become a writer. And because she understood the cravings of my author's soul even at such a young age, Momma bought the little notebook for me.

I began writing in that little journal before we'd even backed out of the parking lot. I kept writing. I wrote about my day. I wrote about what I received for Christmas. I wrote the deepest secrets of my heart. Before too long, the journal was filled, and I moved on to another . . . and another . . . and another. Every time I began a new journal, I gave it a name and put the date on the inside cover, with a dash and a blank space for the elusive day I would fill the last page. Every time I finished a journal, I scratched the ending date on the inside cover, shelved the battered notebook proudly, and begged Momma to take me to Barnes & Noble to buy another.

My entries have changed and grown over the years. I once wrote quite simply about the events of my day. Then I started putting down my hopes and dreams for the future. There was even a period of my life when I never used my real name, and was constantly switching between all four March sisters, Felicity Merriman, Constance Hopkins, and others. (This is why that journal bears the title My Mixed-Up, Matched-Up Journal, With Pages From Me and Other Characters.) Now I write out my plans for the day, prayers, highlights of my life, Scripture verses, and secret dreams. As time has passed, I've tried to be more creative with my descriptions, more clever with the household dialogue I scribble down. Becoming a "real author" has been my life-long aspiration, and the possibility of others reading my journals when I am dead is something always lurking in the back of my mind.

I love to flip carefully through the messy pages of the six journals I have filled in the past nine years. Waves of remembrance wash over me like salty ocean swells, bringing to the surface of my memory glass that simpler time when I was a young child. I enjoy seeing how my writing has grown over the years, as well as how I have grown in my faith as a Christian. At the time I did not realize how much this record would mean to me, but now I am unspeakably glad that I wrote down even the simplest of things, for they mean more to me than gold. I dream of showing my journals to my children when I am a mama and sharing with them what life was like so many years ago.

Over the years, my writing repertoire has grown, and besides journaling, it currently includes poetry, short stories, and novels (mainly historical fiction). Though I now prefer having the power to create stories and characters all on my own, instead of simply relying on my daily activities to serve as the plot, I will never forget the pastime that first set me down on the path to authordom.

. . .

Elizabeth Rose is a follower of the Most High who seeks to live every day of her life in accordance with 1 Corinthians 10:31. She loves all sorts of books (the thicker the better), is convinced that Irish Breakfast tea is the closest thing this world will get to heaven, dances until her feet ache, stays up until all hours writing, wears pearls at every opportunity, and obsesses over Les Misérables and The Scarlet Pimpernel. In May 2012, she self-published her first book, Violets Are Blue. You can find her on Literary Lane, most likely with The Count of Monte Cristo in hand, and ink on her fingers. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sense and Sensibility (2008) Review

{Warning: Excessive long-winded-ness, much rambling and a great deal of nonsense lies ahead.  Also, here be monsters.  Proceed at your own risk.  Dead men tell no tales.}

I've never thought of myself as being much like Queen Victoria.  But in The Young Victoria, Queen Victoria confused stubbornness with strength.  And in the case of Sense and Sensibility 2008, I confused stubbornness with loyalty.

S&S 1995 was the very first movie I reviewed here on YAPDB.  The movie has sentimental connotations for me--it was the second Jane Austen novel I read, the second Jane Austen film adaptation I watched, and the second "just us two" movie that I'd watched with my mom.  It's a stunningly lovely film with superb acting and a well-written script.  So it's only natural that I would think it was the only S&S adaptation I would ever need.

And boy, was I stubborn in that respect.  When Melody suggested that I just give S&S08 a try, I laughed her off.  Surely no other adaptation could even come close to the splendor of the 1995 version.  Besides, hadn't I heard that the first scene was a little iffy?  I didn't want to watch that!

But Melody, bless her heart, kept right on pestering suggesting, reminding me how much fun we had had watching Little Dorrit together last December.  (We both watched the same episodes each night and then emailed each other the next morning to discuss them and quote our favorite lines-- it was loads of fun.)  Now she really wanted me to watch S&S08 with her, and it's hard to say no to my Tween, so I finally caved, ordered S&S from the library, and settled down with Anne-girl to see the first episode.  (By the way, we didn't even have to see a bit of that objectionable first scene-- all you have to do is navigate to the second scene in the scene selection, and then rewind until you get to the opening credits.  And bingo, you've avoided the whole thing.  The rest of the movie is perfectly okay.)

After fifteen minutes had passed, I was hooked.  And Melody was gracious enough not to say "I told you so."  (Well, not in so many words.)

I'm not even going to try to keep myself from comparing the two films in this review, because I know I won't be able to.  So I'll begin by comparing the '08 Dashwood sisters with their '95 counterparts.

First of all, Emma Thompson ('95) is the face of Elinor Dashwood for me.  So what if she was 35 when the movie was filmed and Elinor is only supposed to be 19?  She spoke Elinor, moved Elinor, breathed Elinor.  And I didn't think Hattie Morahan ('08) was going to measure up to Emma Thompson's standard.  (When I first wrote that sentence, I abbreviated Emma Thompson as E.T. ... then I looked at it again and decided not to. :P) Hattie Morahan's voice and manner of speaking are quite similar to Emma Thompson's, and though I don't know if that was intentional or not, it definitely helped me to get accustomed to her portrayal.  She's not very pretty at first glance, but as you get to know her better throughout the film, she becomes more and more lovely.  (I've noticed that with a lot of characters in period drama... they become more aesthetically pleasing as the story goes on and you become better acquainted with them.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I guess.)

As for Charity Wakefield as Marianne Dashwood... well, let's just say that Kate Winslet did a phenomenal job and leave it at that, shall we?

Oh, all right, she wasn't that bad.  I just felt that her portrayal of Marianne was much too self-centered and whiny-- and what was up with her running around with her hair down half the time? I think this movie was probably set around 1795, which was when Jane Austen first wrote it, and women did wear their hair down more often back then... but not as wildly as Marianne did in this movie.  Maybe it was an effort on the filmmakers' part to make her look younger, but I felt it just looked sloppy.  

Mrs. Dashwood and Margaret, however, were very well cast.  I've never been much of a fan of Gemma Jones' weepy Little Bo Peep performance in '95, and it was refreshing to see a Mrs. Dashwood who actually had some backbone.   However, Janet McTeer's performance wasn't quite on par with the Mrs. Dashwood of the book.  Mrs. Dashwood is supposed to be practically a carbon copy of Marianne-- easily swept away by feelings, etc.  She's supposed to be just as enamored of Willoughby as her daughter is (although of course she maintains later that there was always something in his eyes that she did not like).  Yet in this movie, she was shown to be a little suspicious of him, which wasn't exactly a bad thing but it wasn't quite in line with the book.

Lucy Boynton played Margaret quite nicely, and she improved as the story went on, but I still prefer Emelie Francois' performance.  Margaret suffers from a severe lack of personality in the original novel, but in the '95 movie she was made into a funny, likable character.  She's funny and likable in this version too-- "If she comes to live here, I MIGHT even POISON her"--but not quite as much.

Before I saw this adaptation, I was one of those who was firmly convinced that Hugh Grant did a splendid job portraying Edward Ferrars in '95.  This was because I had not yet seen how well Edward's role actually could be played.  I still think Hugh Grant did a good job, but he's no longer Edward in my book.  Dan Stevens brought out everything I liked about Edward (and everything I didn't like, which was good-- Edward's moodiness may annoy me, but it is in the book) and his eyes are much nicer than Hugh Grant's.  Ahem moving on.

I also really liked how Edward's relationship with Margaret was developed.  This may have been a little bit of copying off the '95 movie, but hey, it was cute.  Horseback riding isn't quite as fun as dueling with swords (that one scene where she stabs him in '95 is priceless, admit it) but it was still sweet when Edward took Margaret on his horse because that dreadful little Harry Dashwood was riding her pony.  (Speaking of Harry Dashwood.  That child's face was the single scariest thing in the entire movie.  I cowered under the bed when he came on screen.  Well, okay, not really, but it sounds good to say so.)

{I'd just like you all to know that everything that comes after this note has been rewritten from the original.  Because the original was EATEN by the bad, wicked Blogger, who cunningly and with malice aforethought ATE all the words that it TOLD me it had automatically saved.  And now it is smirking at me.  Blogger, why dost thou mock my pain?}

I also really liked how Edward's honor was portrayed so well in this version.  In '95, you have to draw your own conclusions about Edward's marrying Lucy-- here, they actually, you know, showed him standing up to his mother and keeping his agreement to a young woman who didn't deserve the time of day from him.  And the part where he talks to Elinor after Colonel Brandon's offer was heartbreaking in a very satisfactory way.  I was pleased.  Muchly.

Melody had convinced me not to watch Our Mutual Friend (1998) until I had seen S&S, because she said I would not be able to appreciate David Morrissey's Colonel Brandon if I saw him first as Bradley Headstone (the bad guy in OMF).  I took her advice, but when we began watching S&S, I began to think that Bradley Headstone had nothing to do with it and that I just wasn't going to like this guy.  At all.  He struck me as being just a bit stalker-ish in the way he stared at Marianne, and indeed I was inclined to agree with her when she said, "I think he is the kind of man who likes to find fault with everybody and everything."

But I changed my tune as the series went on and found myself liking this version of Colonel Brandon more and more.  Alan Rickman from '95 will always be my favorite, but I now grudgingly admit that there can be two very good portrayals of one character.  And I will quite freely admit that the Rescue Marianne In The Rainstorm scene is much more romantical in '08 than in '95.  In '95, the Colonel just goes out and carries Marianne in, sopping wet.  In '08, we see him thundering through forests and fields on his horse shouting her name, and eventually finds her and brings her back to the house.  It's far more Dramatic and Touching and "Oh-Look-He-Really-Loves-Her"-ish.

Speaking of which, the rainstorm scene was (in my humble opinion) a complete ripoff of the iconic scene from '95.  In the book, Marianne goes out for a walk and gets a bit chilled--a few days later, she comes down with a fever.  In '95, she goes out to see Combe Magna, says Sonnet 116 with the wet wind blowing her hair, gets rescued by Colonel Brandon and falls ill that very night.  In '08, she goes out walking to no place in particular with the wet wind blowing in her hair and her face turned up to the raining sky (doesn't she know you can drown that way???), gets rescued by Colonel Brandon and falls ill that very night.  It strikes me that '08 is trying to copy '95 as unobtrusively as possible.  I'm on to you, Andrew Davies.

Dominic Cooper was the worst Willoughby ever.  EVER.  Well, the only thing worse would be if they had cast David Tennant as Willoughby, because nobody would be able to hate him and poor Colonel Brandon would get booed off screen.  But I digress.  Dominic Cooper's Willoughby was not at all charming, as Willoughby is supposed to be--rather, he was creepy from the very start.  This did not reflect well upon the Dashwood women.  Mrs. Dashwood, Marianne and Margaret were made to look stupid for liking him in the first place, and as for Elinor (who didn't like him), it was kind of a "well, OBVIOUSLY" thing.

Seriously, if *I* had sprained my ankle and this guy came along offering
a lift, I'd run screaming.  Sprained ankle and all. 
I did, however, like that they included Willoughby's whining about how it's not my fault apology scene.  That is, if "like" is interpreted as "let's all punch Willoughby in the face.  Repeatedly."  But '95 left that scene out entirely, which I've always thought was a pity, and I guess half an apology (or a quarter... or an eighth... or whatever it was...) is better than none.  But why on earth was Marianne listening in?  That was NOT the way it was in the book.  She shouldn't even have been out of bed anyway.  Probably she didn't take her medicine either, the naughty girl.

Back to the characters.  Let's have a nice big round of applause for the Steele sisters, shall we?

... I can't heeeeeeear youuuuuuuuuuuu.

*covers ears*
Much better.

I cannot begin to describe how much I enjoyed the Steele sisters in this version.  They were so much better than in '95, it's almost ridiculous.  For instance, poor Nancy was left entirely out of '95.  And she's ten times more hilarious than her sister.  ("I'm sorry, I'm sorry, it just POPT out!")  Her dimwitted remarks really helped to lighten the more awkward scenes, and she was just all-around funny.  "For my part, I find them vastly agreeable, provided they dress smart and behave civil, but I can't bear to see them nasty and dirty, can you?" Lucy, too, was quite an improvement on her '95 counterpart.  In '95, I never quite understood why Lucy confided in Elinor when they first met-- in fact, when I first saw the movie, I thought they had changed it from the book and made it so that she only wanted to tell her secrets to someone.  But in '08, the Middletons discussed the Elusive Mr. F. right in front of Lucy, which gave her ample reason to treat Elinor to the Hands Off monologue.  In addition, the '08 Misses Steele talked bad grammar and seemed real uneducated, which is the way they was in the book.

I appreciated the addition of Mrs. Ferrars (although there were times when I felt a high kick or two, a la Fanny Dorrit, was in order for her) and you could definitely see where Fanny Dashwood's meanness came from.  "Ohhhh Edward, you know you only say these things to annoooooooy me."

Speaking of Fanny, why on earth did the girls call her "aunt"?  She was their sister-in-law.  Not their aunt.  Did Margaret begin referring to her sisters beaux as Uncle Christopher and Uncle Edward after the weddings?  I think not.  (And yes, I'm aware that the Christopher appellation is from '95 and not the book, but it seems to fit him.)   And did anyone else notice that her hairstyle was stolen straight from '95?  She looked ridiculous and Columbia Pictures should sue.  (Anne-girl is expected to "get" that reference, but she is the only one.)

The ball was interesting, but quite inaccurate to the book, and you're probably tired of hearing me spout off about the book, but hey, this is the treasurer of The Book Is Always Better (TBIAB) club speaking.  Mr. America Robert Ferrars and Colonel Brandon were not supposed to be there, though of course the Colonel was quite handy to have around later in the evening when Marianne had her kinda-sorta fainting thingy.  (Did she actually faint?  Or just... sink?)  I was not at all pleased with the way she shouted Willoughby's name across the room, but it certainly was effective when the whole company went quiet and Miss Grey gave the Look of Death.  If they hadn't played the Willoughby Danger Music right at that moment, I probably would have liked it better.

I'm rambling far, far too much and this review is getting way too long, but I'm afraid I'm being too negative so I do want to stick in some positive elements before I start complaining again.  I really liked Marianne's constant letters to Willoughby (and the poor patient footman who had to deal with Miss Why-hasn't-the-mail-come-yet every single morning).  And the whole Elinor/Colonel Brandon mixup was handled quite nicely indeed.  This was when I really began to like Colonel Brandon.
I like the trimming on this pillowcase.  Yes, that was random.

Marianne's illness, however, was not as good as in '95.  I just didn't feel as sad for some reason.  And Colonel Brandon didn't say my mom's favorite line ever ("Miss Dashwood, give me an occupation or I shall run mad") which was a bit of a disappointment. But then, if he HAD said it, I probably would have complained that they copied from '95, so they really can't win, it seems.  (And was anyone else extremely annoyed by the fact that the Colonel came into her bedroom to say get well soon?  That was not proper in those days, peeps.  Not.  In.  The.  Least.)

As for the minor characters, I'm afraid I was vastly disappointed.  Mrs. Jennings was merely adequate-- there was none of Elizabeth Spriggs' over-the-top hilarity, and Mr. Palmer... ugh.  There is only ONE real Mr. Palmer, and that is Bertie Wooster.  End of story.  Thank you, my dear.

Speaking of the end of the story, I was rather disappointed at first that no weddings were shown.  But then I decided that no Jane Austen wedding can possibly top Throw the Coins in '95, so kudos to the '08 directors for not even trying.  Instead, we got to see Colonel Brandon and his newly tamed horse--er, his bride--riding off into the sunset and we all felt happy and warm and fuzzy.  (Except for the horse taming references.  What was up with THAT??)

As for Edward and Elinor, this proposal ties with the memorable '95 "My heart is and ever will be... yours."  And before I watched S&S08, I honestly thought nothing could top that.  So I was prepared to be disappointed with this version, and instead I got a lovely surprise. Cutest thing ever, ladies.  Just go watch it as soon as possible.  (At this point I should insert a link to a video of that scene, but alas, 'tis not available on YouTube.  So you must do it the old-fashioned way and get thee to the library.)

My conclusion?  These versions almost tie.  That's a huge admission coming from me, considering how much I love the '95 version.  I never thought anything could top it-- and nothing has.  But S&S08 has come pretty close, and I know I'll be watching it again.

Isn't it fortunate, by the by, that it was Willoughby passing when Marianne fell?  I mean, it could have been some uncouth old farmer with no taste for Byron.  Horrors.