31 January, 2010

The Great Kate

I can't help myself, I have to post.
Last night I watched Holiday, starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant.  My second official Katharine Hepburn movie.  I saw Brining Up Baby the other day, on a recommendation from a friend and was completely enchanted.  I already adored Cary Grant - have for a few years now, since I saw Charade. My poor future spouse. With a wife who's been in love with Cary Grant since age 15, and, circa 2001, worshiped Gene Kelly  and Donald O'Connor (the man could run up walls and do backflips! Any eleven year old could loose her heart to him.), he will have a lot to live up to.
Katharine Heburn is, officially, a new movie idol. I am dying to have her accent.

"Looks like me."

Survey of British Lit 1

Beoeulf. AGAIN.  Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.  AGAIN.  Paradise Lost. AGAIN.
Why why WHY did I sign up for British Lit 1?  We slog through all the above and finish right before the romantics.  Like, right when things start to get fun.
Ugh.  Reading stuff that's good for you is not all it's cracked up to be.

The textbook we will be wading through is the four-inch-thick Norton Anthology of English Literature, first volume.  

And it is very heavy.
And the print is very


Oh, somebody call the waaaaambulance! 
Jan 31:
Beowulf was not as bad the second time around.  It's, undeniably, total man-lit, but the language (I'm reading - big surprise - Seamus Heaney's translation) is nice.  Elegant.  Which really, isn't really the point, is it?  I understand - according to Mr. Beowulf on the Beach - that there's another translation which retains some of the thudding, abrupt feel the actual poem has.  Or, at least, has the thudding, abrupt feel a piece of bloody, wassailing, guy lit ought to have.  I might check this version out and compare it to Seamus Heaney's.  Or I might not (read: probably, almost 100% sure, will not). I don't think I care enough.
I actually learned some cool stuff about the book when we discussed it in class.  Well, actually, the teacher lectured on it. Which, just so you know, I INFINITELY prefer to hearing guy-probably-named-Ryan-who-drinks-three-Red-Bulls-an-hour's opinion about things.   

Feb 5: Sir Gawain was better the second time around too.  The ceremonious armor putting on (how do you say that?  Armoring?) and hunting scenes got a bit tedious, but mostly good.  Even pretty occasionally.
 A lot of "well, I think..." in class instead of lecture. Discussion and opinions are all right in their way, but I can't handle three hours of it.  I want some facts and good history, here!  
You know, it really is amazing how many kids in my generation are named Ryan.  Why?  It's a fine name, but I don't get it.  Three Ryans in one class has been the record so far.  But I'm not complaining.  Can't remember someone's name?  I guess Ryan.  Nine times out of ten, Ryan is right.  It's great.

Feb 15:  I do try to understand why Chaucer is supposed to be so great.  Really, I do.  The bits declared humorous aren't lost on me - I just don't think it's that funny.  I liked some of the character descriptions in the General Prologue, but the rest of the "ohmygosh so funny!" parts didn't thrill me. (Read: bawdiness doesn't make me laugh.)  No major comprehension problems. I appreciated nice language here and there.  But I just can't like it.  Didn't like it in High School, don't like it now.   Maybe having to go back and forth between text and side notes and footnotes is what bothers me.  Breaking off in the middle of a sentence to figure out what the heck that means makes reading it feel choppy and disjointed.  Okay, honestly?  I usually don't have to use footnotes or word explanations - relying on them (okay, more being rescued from drowning by them) hurts my pride.  I don't know why I feel ashamed to have to look up words like "swynke" (work), but I do.
Disappointing not to see any of the double or triple meanings on words that my teacher told us to watch for.  I have no penetration and never stop to think when I'm reading.  I just read.  Um, why do I think I can manage an English degree?
Next day: Gee whiz, I love this class.  Reading Chaucer may have been a pain in the rear (oh dear, remembering some things...) but totally worth it.  I don't know that I would have caught this if I hadn't read an intro to the text beforehand, but the Miller's tale - as I understand it - basically jeers at the courtly love of the previous tale told by the knight.   But the info our teacher gave on it, expanding on that idea, was simply amazing.   The way Chaucer sort of overturned the genre of the miller's tale.  The commentary on religious beliefs of the time.  Good stuff.
One of the great things about this teacher is the way he doesn't foist his private opinions - about the text or author or ideas or morals - onto us.  I have never ever before felt I could trust a professor to be fair to every and any philosophy.  Explanation for that last singularly ambiguous sentence:  Tonight, we were discussing the elements in the Miller's tale that are based on the then-state of the church.  As the Bible was not written in the language of the common man - and, besides that, most people were illiterate - the church held sole control over what the people were told, and this gave them immense power over said people's lives.  The carpenter in the miller's tale fully accepts this - forgive the paraphrase - essentially saying, "we are not to pry into God's secrets."  A very nice way to be told, "we interpret for you, so don't even think about it, buddy."  My professor explained this, but then said something like, "and this all has to do with Martin Luther.  It was after this that he came along and said, 'No, people should be allowed to read and interpret for themselves.  Before that, the notion of a personal relationship with God didn't exist."  Gee whiz!  This is the first time in my entire college career that I have ever heard Martin Luther spoken of without venom.  First time EVER.  How sad is that?
In short, my prof gives us historical social and cultural background, unpacks the text, and discusses the issues at the heart of it all in the context of the times.   As far as I can tell, converting our young minds to his worldview is not high on the priority list. He just teaches us stuff.  Rather refreshing that. 

Feb 18: Margery Kemp strikes me as a, well... freak.  That is all I have to say.

30 January, 2010

Wait, what?!

My hometown pride has just been upped about ten thousand points.
Gregory Peck - let me say that again - GREGORY PECK was born in SAN DIEGO, California. My town! My place of birth!

 We San Diegans are a classy lot.

He went to High School next to Balboa Park, and then attended - get this - SDSU for a year, finishing school at Berkley.  How weird is that?!  SDSU!

This happy discovery prompted a search - again on Wikipedia, that blessed site - through their list of San Diegans to find other actors of note.  (i.e. ones I've heard of.)


I was delighted, overjoyed, to discover that Robert Duvall was born here as well.  That's something to be proud of.  Cameron Diaz is less thrilling, but hey, if I ever get famous we'll at least have something in common to talk about at the Vanity Fair party.  Better than nothing, right? A little ice-breaker? (Edit: Though, now that I think on it, I'm not sure I would want to talk to Cameron Diaz at parties.  What if someone took a picture of the revoltingly slender, fit, well-manicured, perfectly made up and coifed woman while I was standing next to her?  I don't think my self-confidence could take it.  I'm sure she's sweet and funny and that we would become total besties, but I would never be able to stand next to her without feeling a slobby, ill-dressed and manicured blimp.  Sorry Cam - our friendship will have to be strictly limited to texting only.  ttyl)


Mostly, depressingly, the notable thespians relating to my fair hometown are people like Adam Brody and Autumn Reeser, Mario Lopez and Jason Earles who may be huge within their fan base, but don't really thrill non-O.C. watching, pre-Saved by the Bell, Hannah haters like me.  There are a lot of people like Marion Ross, maths-touting Danica McKellar and - to a lesser degree - Nakia Burrise, etc., who are all known for one role they played on, like, Happy Days for eight thousand years and nothing else.  (It was Power Rangers for Burrise. No offense to any Rangers fans out there, but I think Happy Days probably was a more challenging gig than shouting things like, "it's Morphin' time!"  Thus, "to a lesser degree".)  The mean popular guy Mandy Moore likes in the first Princess Diaries movie - Zach or Ethan or whatever -  who, incidentally, voiced Sid in the first Toy Story, possibly the scariest villain ever to blow things up while cackling malevolently in the history of the entire world - was born in old SD as well.
But, honestly, I don't care very much.
There are also a few people - Harold Lloyd for instance (moved here as a kid), who, according to Wikipedia,  "ranks alongside Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton as one of the most popular and influential film comedians of the silent film era" - who I feel I ought to have heard of before, but haven't.

Yep.  Never seen him before.

In some ways, reading about dozens of very mildly successful careers - the variety most of San Diego's talent has boasted - is depressing.  SD is the ninth largest city in the U.S. - you'd think we would have produced more quality talent.  Puny half-dead industrial towns in England boast more thespians of note.
I guess it makes sense - when held up next to the states, England is comparatively compact; it shouldn't be surprising that every third actor was born in a suburb of London.  But still.  Are they hoarding the talent, or what?
Oh well. We got Gregory Peck - so na-na on you!

What have I done!?  About twenty seconds ago, I declared a fast from facebook! A fast intended to last until May 31! Am I a lunatic or something?!  I have to stay off now, because EVERYONE will know if I cheat.  Accountability, it's a terrible thing.  I wrote a "what are you thinking" or whatever it is, proclaiming my plans.  Ugh, stupid.
But right.  When you spend more time commenting with friends than talking face to face, I think there's a problem.
Aw, nuts.  Being mature is a total drag.

Later later:
feel a bit victorious.  I just deleted my Twitter account.  The darn thing is gone! Facebook will hurt, but I'm almost glad to be rid of Twitter.  I just couldn't go on writing mindless blurbs so deplorably titled "tweets".

19 January, 2010

save ferris

Oh. My. Gosh.
How is it that a slacker like me, a person who values idleness and adores teen films, until tonight, had never seen Ferris Bueller's Day Off ?

Shame, Kelsey.  Shame.
I just don't know what else to say except: I need that sweater vest.  No joke.  I NEED it. A Ferris Bueller vest is officially on my clothes to look for list.  I might have to sew one.

What a role model.

13 January, 2010

Clive Staples Lewis

Gee whiz, I love C.S. Lewis.
Of all the writers I have declared favorites, C.S. Lewis, without a doubt, has had the most influence on me.  Everything is tinted by his books.

This isn't to say that I don't have a tough time comprehending it sometimes.  Miracles - to use a slightly rude, but wholly accurate phrase - is kicking my butt.  Usually, I can just breeze along at a good clip when I read.  But even though his language and descriptions are crystal clear (he doesn't make things fluffy, if you know what I mean), I have to work. It's tough stuff.  The Narnia books and the space trilogy are so much easier.  Though, I must admit, That Hideous Strength took me forever to get through.  I listened to an audiobook of Till We Have Faces a few months ago, and besides a desultory and uncomprehending read in Junior high, I'd never actually gone through it before.  Incredible.  I need to read it - and the Great Divorce, and (oh heck) all the others - again. 
The Screwtape Letters is one of my favorite books; I can't begin to think how many times I've read it.  If you haven't (lucky! You'd get to read it for the first time!) I command you to leave this blog (though I'm sure this command is unnecessary because I'm the only person who reads this. But don't worry, I'm not bitter.) and drive to a Barnes and Noble and buy it and begin reading it right there at the attached Starbucks.  I give you permission to get a scone and a hot chocolate.  And maybe a rice krispy treat too. But not the gum because it is always gross and disappointing.  I'm serious. Now go.  And maybe bring me back a hot chocolate too. 

04 January, 2010

"You hear that George? Uhhhhhhhh? That's Jane Austen spinning in her grave like a cat in a tumble dryer."

Tonight a friend and I watched Lost in Austen - a British mini series and fantasy re-working of Pride and Prejudice.  I am a pretty hardcore Austen fan; I love her books because they're so dazzlingly funny and clear-sighted, if you know what I mean (which I doubt.)

That said, I am not a Darcy freak.  I don't sigh my life away over him.  Or as Amanda Price, main character of Lost in Austen puts it, "I do not sit at home with the pause button on Colin Firth in clingy pants, okay?" (Mr. Knightley on the other hand... just kidding. Sort of.)  I am not one of these much-novelized girls - Austenland, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict - who read Austen every night and wish they could be magically transported back into Regency England. I hold no allusions. (Though, I do think - if I were magically transported - I would do a lot better job of fitting in than old Amanda or the novel girls do.  Really, for alleged Austen fans they do the most painfully ridiculous things sometimes.  Amanda especially.)

In spite of all this - and all the way I, as an Austen purist think they could have gone wrong - I adored Lost in Austen.  Yes, Amanda's horrible social mistakes make me screech and cover my eyes, but the production was very well done.
Great lines popped up all over the place and there were a couple of truly hilarious Austen fan jokes.  ("I'm having a rather strange post-modern moment here." "But even Colin Firth isn't Colin Firth.  They had to change the shape of his head with make-up.")

It seemed like the writers had really read the book and understood the characters.  For instance, when Amanda returns to modern London (she and Lizzie swap places), Lizzie has cut her hair, gone macrobiotic and is excited by the free new world opened to her.  I mean, that is what Lizzie would do! Clever, clever. They writers were respectful, even as they turned the whole story upside down.

lizzie with her chopped-off hair, in modern London.

Relationships are expanded.  Characters are put into situations we have never seen them in before, and we get to see how they react. And, for the most part, they react the way my friend and I agreed that the real characters would.
I don't want to give the whole plot away, but I must say - in the end, my friend and I kept shouting to Amanda, "No! Marry Wickham!" How could two devout Austen lovers shout such a thing? You'll just have find out yourself.  I'm trying to give up emoticons (what a word), but if I hadn't banned them, I would put one at the end of that last sentence.
SPOILER - Although, really, how surprising is this - Amanda, the modern girl, ends up with Darcy.  My friend and I both agreed that this was done to delight the hearts of the Austen mad - the sort who do pause the screen on Colin Firth.  A completely unsubtle ploy, in my opinion. Like - See, if you were sent into Pride and Prejudice Darcy would fall in love with YOU!  Sigh sigh!
I though, frankly, that it was a cheap ending.  Wickham is so fantastic - why can't Amanda marry him? Ugh.

Perhaps the hat turned her off.

Oh well.  (wishing for emoticons again. Oh well.)

It's a good movie.  Or mini-series I guess. Worth a watch if you're an Austen fan who won't be scandalized or slowly stiffen into open-mouthed shock watching one of the most popular works of fiction unravel agonizingly and tangle itself into a giant knot ball.

01 January, 2010

old lang sign, my dear

Happy new year! Welcome cosmic children!
By the way, how do we say 2010?  "Twenty-ten"?  Because "two thousand ten" just sounds silly.  What about "this year of our Lord twenty twelve"?  I like that.

Okay, (this is the explanation for "cosmic children".  I don't actually say that, you know, on a regular basis.) I've watched Shrek three one too many times. For someone who declares herself decidedly not a Shrek fan, I like it a lot.  Just the third one though, not the others. No way the others.

What a day.  Last night, in semi-celebration I drank an entire bottle of Martinelli's sparkling cider (which, surprisingly, contains only 420 calories a bottle) by myself.  It was, however, like I said, a semi-celebration.  I drank the cider mainly because my wisdom teeth had been pulled the morning before and, for some unknown reason, I like a bottle of Martinelli's when I'm feeling peaky. I can't explain it. I will also never understand why, until a few years ago, whenever I felt poorly I would invariably watch Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.  Every time.  Why? What a weirdo.
For the first time in eight years, I was thoroughly sick (as in, threw up twice, which I'm sure you did not want to know) the day after the tooth-pulling.

I think I can safely say that this experience has, overall, not been pleasant.  I was almost looking forward to getting the old molars out; seriously, I was.  My sister had her wisdom teeth removed a few weeks ago and was consequently showered with love, Jamba Juice and DVD rentals.  It didn’t look like a bad gig to me.
Yesterday I wrote self-pityingly in my journal, "But now here I lie, afraid to eat anything but Saltine crackers, while my face expands like the blob.  I am not a happy camper."
Today, it's not so bad. My face is definitely not as swollen as my sister's was (wah-ha! Victory!) and I've got a whole load of DVDs to watch. It really isn't a bad gig.
To finish the story of The Happy Little Tooth:

Anyways, now that my very long tangent is over, let's talk about something else. I didn't actually intend to blab  again about the tooth-pulling.  Shareshareshare indeed.

Guess what? I have never made any new year's resolutions in my entire life.  Why?  Because I know I'm a slacker and will break them.  I also refuse to join in the resolution making because, for about four weeks around new years, all the comic strips do resolution gags. And it gets on my nerves.  I mean, it's so sappy. So, to show my resentment, I refuse to resolve. (Does that make sense? Refuse to resolve? I think it does.) See if I'm going to make myself a better person - not on your life you stupid Grand Avenue kids!  Shut up Adam at Home! Die Drabble!

Sorry, I had some anger to release there. Whoooo.

Guess what? I am going through a 90's teen comedy movie faze. How pathetic is that?  I mean, there are some great movies on Netflix instant right now, ones I've never seen - Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, On the Waterfront, Doubt - stuff I have been dying to see.  Yet here I am watching 10 Things I Hate About You, Clueless, and She's All That. What is wrong with me?

watch, like, serious movies? As if!

On a side note: When I came out of the anesthesia after the tooth-pulling, I kept trying to mutter "I coulda been a contender".  I cannot explain this.

I guess I just don't want to think at the moment.  It's so much easier watching mindless things like Clueless than tense, meaningful dramas.  Less stressful.
I also have a lot of really good books checked out from the library - On the Road, A collection of essays by Orhan Pamuk, a biography on Coco Chanel, and three books by Ian McEwan.  And yet I read my sister's Teen Vogue yesterday instead.  I learned about blogging queen Jane Aldridge, how to wear the new denim looks, and that, "Cards, candy and hearts have never been your style, but don't be surprised if this Valentine's day turns you into a believer.  Expect your most romantic year yet."  Oo, I can't wait.

I have to confess, before anyone forms any false impressions about my culture and intelligence levels, I am only reading the Orhan Pamuk because I heard Emma Thompson mention him in an interview.  See? Completely obsessed.  Could be worse though, I suppose.  I could be obsessed with, like, Jon and Kate and their will-need-serious-therapy-in-later-life Eight.

What a dull blogger I am. Oh well.

Happy New Year, dear void.