Miss Woodhouse's Musings

…about life, the universe, and everything. Don't panic!

In Which We Discuss Handsome British Actors

Gentle Readers,

Tonight I came home from work to find the family watching the 2008 version of the Agatha Christie’s Murder Is Easy. It is chock full of some of our favourite character actors: the evil Bingley sister from the A&E Pride and Prejudice, the brother from My Family and Other Animals (incidently, he’s in some Doctor Who as well!), that one brother from Notting Hill, and Benedict Cumberbatch.

Now, now, stop laughing at his name. Because, in my opinion, this man is singlehandedly changing the face of British book adaptations. Namely, Sherlock Holmes. He plays a stunning Sherlock, brilliant and true to the original character even though the show is set in the modern day. He is edgy, sharp, brilliant, funny, nuanced, and just the right amount of “off.”

To be honest, he’s good in pretty much everthing I’ve seen him in. Take Murder Is Easy as an example. He doesn’t have a huge role, but when he is on screen you notice. Not in an annoying way, but in an “I have presence and know how to use it” way. He’s good! Awesome! Great!

So, what’s the takeaway here? What’s the moral? Here it is: if you haven’t already, watch Sherlock. If you’ve seen Sherlock, watch is again. Revel in the awesome Cumberbatchyness of it all! You’ll be glad you did.

Until tomorrow,

Miss W

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Ladylike List

Top 10 Things I Love About Downton Abby, Season One:

10. The horses. So graceful!

9. The shots in the library. Oh, to have a room like that one day!

8. Anna and Mr. Bates. They make me smile.

7. Mrs. Patmore’s flutter of kitchen activity and the food she sends upstairs (10 second rules and all!).

6. The setting. Starting with the sinking of the Titanic is historically brilliant, and the physical estate is breathtaking.

5. Mrs. C. I admire her spunk, fortitude, and kindness.

4. Matthew. He’s been dealt an odd hand, but he is willing to make the most of it.

3. The Dowager Countess. Her dry, biting humour is just what the show needs most of the time.

2. Sybil with her new frocks and radical political ideals. But I love how she is still more mindful of other’s feelings than her own wishes.

1. Those costumes! Those lovely, detailed, vintage, classic costumes. They honestly don’t make clothes of that beauty and quality anymore. Some of the costumes really are 100+ years old!!!!!!

What do you like about Downton?

(No spoilers, please! I’m still in season one!!!)

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Collection of Thoughts

Gentle Readers,

* Teaching Tinturn Abby ito my class went much better than teaching Songs of Innocence and Experience. I will admit, this is a first in my teaching experience.

* I think Farm Fresh employees hate their lives. I can’t blame them at all.

* They found Richard III’s bones while building a car park. There might be irony enough in that for a whole blog post, we will see.

* Though I never would have ordered it on my own, pepperoni and pineapple pizza with cheese stuffed crust is quite yummy.

* When “It’s your thing, do what you wanna do” comes on, you have to sing along with it. That’s a rule.

* If you are going to preach about pitching tents, make sure to say pitching tents. Still laughing about that, D!

* Midsomer must be an awful place to live. So many murders…thanks, Mystery!.

* Josh Groban’s new album came out today, All That Echoes. Go. Buy. Listen. Repeat.

Until tomorrow,

Miss W

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Superbrawl Sunday

Gentle Readers,

The thought crossed my mind tonight that we, as a people in general, are very myoptic. Take today, for example: Superbowl Sunday. The day that brings strangers together, divides families into factions, causes pastors to cut short their sermons, and makes watching commercials worthwhile. Bottle-making companies raise a glass. Buffalos hide their wings. Chips prepare to be dipped.

It all sounds like fun.

But there’s another side to all of this. When the beer has all been consumed, people then get behind the wheel. Chicken bones lodge in throats. Dips sit out too long and breed bacteria. (Sounds lovely, I know. Hang in there, I do have a point.) Feuds surface. Fights break out.

People get hurt.

For police, fire, EMS, and hospitals, days like today aren’t fun and games. They are busy nights, crazy nights, nights where people do stupid things and they have to fix it. They deserve a round of applause and thanks for giving up their fun times to be ready and alert to fix whatever aftermath might occur from everyone else’s fun times.

So, next Superbowl/4th of July/Halloween/random holiday, think before you act. Remember that your actions have consequences, and your consequences could affect other people around you.

In simplest terms: don’t be stupid. I’m sure your local ER will thank you!

Until tomorrow,

Miss W

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Boom!

Last night our family headed out to catch the tail end of an outdoor concert, and hoped to see the fireworks.

Well, boy did we luck out! Our car was less than 200 yards from the display, and we had a great view. Awesome view. Clear view. Perfect!

Happy 4th, be safe!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daZlMhijGnk&feature=youtube_gdata_player

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Reviewing

One of the things I really regretted not being able to do while in school was go to the movies. So, now that I’m out, with money to spare and great movies coming to the big screen left right and center, I’ve been seeing some great flicks.

And some not so amazing ones too, come to think of it.

So, for the fun of it, here are my thoughts on some of the summer blockbusters!

THE HUNGER GAMES

Rating: PG-13

My Rating: Meh

Thoughts: I can’t imagine that it is easy to make a movie of books that are so well loved and widely read by a young audience. However, Peter Jackson and David Yates managed it, but Gary Ross didn’t do such a great job. The first hour was full of shaky camera shots, and the next hour glossed way too quickly over many important events in the book. The last half hour was sheer torture for me, but that probably had more to do with me wanting it to be over than bad pacing.

The casting was fantastic, especially putting Stanley Tucci in as Caesar. No one could have played him half as well. The scenery too was perfect, and the special effects were impeccable. Really, my only complaint was that they made some serious assumptions, the biggest one being that they made the assumption that the people seeing the movie had already read the book. For about 80% of viewers I’m sure that’s the case, but I feel bad for the people that showed up and didn’t know what was going on.

Conclusion: Solid movie for the existing fan of the book series, but I’m not going to sit around pining until Catching Fire is released.

 

MIRROR MIRROR

Rating: PG

My Rating: Cute!

Thoughts: Two words: Julia Roberts. She rules this movie! Sure, it’s a kid’s movie first and foremost, but adults will really connect with her character’s motivation: not wanting to age. No one wants to grow old, and when someone as freshly young as Snow White (played somewhat schizophrenically by Lily Collins) is sitting in your castle, well it only makes sense that you would feel your age even more.

With that as a subplot, the “main” plot of Snow White finding her courage comes across as a little contrived. However, the dwarves do wonders in spicing up her story line, and are completely fabulous! It’s the best handling of those characters I’ve ever seen.

In the end, this reboot is to Snow White what Ella Enchanted was to Cinderella. Is it a true interpretation? Not in the least. However, it is fun, entertaining, and elicits a few giggles along the way. Worth seeing!

 

 

THE AVENGERS

Rating: PG-13

My Rating: OH MY GOSH!!!!! Emma liked a superhero movie!!!!!!!

 

Thoughts: I stopped watching Spiderman during part two. I fell asleep during Batman Begins. Someone had to tell me that Thor was a superhero. This genre just isn’t my thing, at all. So, when I heard about The Avengers, I paid no attention. I knew that someone named Jeremy Renner was in it, but that was the extent of my knowledge.

So, why see it? Good question. Well, since both of my childhood friends are moving away this summer, we figured it was the last thing we’d all be able to do together for a year or so. Because I love my friends, I went to the movie. Now, I knew I wouldn’t get everything about the movie because I hadn’t seen the Ironmans, the Hulks, Thor, Captain America, or any of the movies made that led up to the phenomenon  that is The Avengers.

For me, Ironman (played by RDJ) stole the movie. He was amazing! Which is saying a lot, because the other characters were all amazing as well, which should give you a small idea of just how awesome RDJ must have been. So, not only did I enjoy a superhero movie, but I plan on going to see it again! And I also plan on watching the Ironman movies soon. Also, it has an epic soundtrack. And RDJ.

 

MEN IN BLACK 3

Rating: RG-13

My Rating: AWESOME!

Thoughts: Men in Black 1 was okay. Men in Black 2 was all over the map. To be honest, it never crossed my mind to hope for another movie. BIG mistake. With Will Smith in the mix, it was silly not to think that a third MIB movie would be extraordinary. And it was. A little silly in places, and sure it was far fetched from start to finish….

But man, the finish! I don’t want to be spoiler-y, but it was a really good narrative. Now, in all fairness I think that the narrative felt extraordinarily sophisticated against the lightness of the preceding movies, but it was good nonetheless. Overall, it was a solid, good film that leaves me thinking fondly of the entire MIB franchise. I would definitely recommend going to see this.

As an aside, there’s an added bonus of the majority of the movie being set in 1969, which is a HOOT. They did a really good job with the historical details, and let’s face it, I’ve never seen Andy Warhol explained so perfectly. And if that doesn’t make you want to go see the movie, then nothing will.

 

PROMETHEUS 

Rating: R (in my defense, I had no idea until I got TO the theater)

My Rating: Uhhhhhh….

Thoughts: I’m torn about Prometheus (which, for the record, was my first opening night showing ever!!!!). In many ways, it is a solid movie. Gripping plot, interesting characters, and a compelling story line. Oh, and the visual effects are gorgeous! Some of it was shot in Iceland, which was the perfect choice for the sparseness and ruggedness needed to accompany the story.

On the other hand, things seemed to be a bit all over the place. Some areas lacked finesse, while other areas were so finessed as to be incomprehensible. Sometimes the plot made sense, and other times, well…it didn’t. At all. It was also the most intense movie I’ve ever seen, hands down. That explains the rating, and the intensity was very well done. In the end though, I don’t think it’s a movie I’m wild to see again. If there’s a sequel, and there should be a sequel, I’m all there. Some elements of the movie are too good to just leave hanging.

 

There you have it! My scattered thoughts on the summer movies. I still want to see Snow White and the Huntsman, and after viewing this clip of Madagascar 3…well, that might be on the docket as well.

Yeah, it’s catchy all right. So, what about you all? Have you seen any of these? What about the other movies showing? Leave your thoughts, comments, and reviews below!

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Green Day

Things To Do On March 17th:

– Have a beer. Or an O’Doul’s. Or pretend to have a beer.

– Kiss someone Irish. If you’re Irish, con someone into kissing you.

– Wear green! If you are REALLY Protestant, feel free to wear orange.

– Add o’ to the beginning of all your words. O’just o’like o’this.

– Use begosh and begorrah a lot, either seriously or ironically.

– Dye your hair red and get a tight perm (this is for the hardcore celebrators!).

– Watch Riverdance.

– Go buy the new Chieftains 50th Anniversary album and enjoy it!

 

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Romance Or Something Like It

It’s rare that my classes fall on a holiday, so I was so excited last night when I realized that not only was my British Literature class meeting on Valentine’s Day, but I didn’t have to report for jury duty!!! This meant I was free to deviate from our study on the Romantics (which aren’t as romantic as the title would have you believe…but that’s a post for another time) and give the kids a whirlwind tour of how England’s famous writers created the Hallmark company. Erm, excuse me. I meant to say “Valentine’s Day.” Same diff?

So, we all have the basic idea that Valentine was some sort of martyr/saint/good guy, right? What you may not know is that there are actually *three* Valentines in the Roman Catholic Encyclopedia (yes, there is such a thing): one from Rome, one from Terni, and one from Africa. Their lives had nothing at all to do with love, romance, poetry, or hearts (except for the fact that theirs stopped beating because of their faith in God and their dedication to the gospel). In fact, there’s absolutely no reason why Chaucer, while writing a poem to commemorate the engagement of Richard II, would reference Valentine…but he did so.

It’s actually a lovely little poem called The Parliament of Fowls that I enjoy reading very much. It’s also 5 hundred million or so lines long, so I’ll just post some pertinent stanzas.

For this was on Saint Valentine’s day,

When every fowl comes there his mate to take,

Of every species that men know, I say,

And then so huge a crowd did they make,

That earth and sea, and tree, and every lake

Was so full, that there was scarcely space

For me to stand, so full was all the place.

Saint Valentine, who art full high aloft –

Thus sing the small fowls for your sake –

Now welcome summer, with your sun soft,

That this winter’s weather does off-shake.

 

Well have they cause to rejoice full oft,

Since each a marriage with its mate does make;

Full joyous may they sing when they wake;

Now welcome summer, with your sun soft,

That this wintry weather does off-shake,

And the long nights’ black away does take.’

 

And with the cries, when their song was done,

That the fowls made as they flew away,

I woke, and other books to read upon

I then took up, and still I read always;

I hope in truth to read something someday

Such that I dream what brings me better fare,

And thus my time from reading I’ll not spare.

The rest of the poem is a bunch of birds talking to each other about love and classic pairs of lovers. As one of my students said, it’s like Narnia. If you have the time, Norton has a lovely rendition online in the Middle English. Delightful!

The next major writer to start a Valentine’s tradition is Edmund Spenser, writer of The Faerie Queen. Do you know what he started? Here’s a quote to give you a hint:

She bath’d with roses red, and violets blew,
And all the sweetest flowres, that in the forrest grew.

Did you figure it out? Oh yes, the much maligned “roses are red, violets are blue” verse! I’m as big a fan of plays on this as the next person, so it made me laugh when the lovey Ponderiss shared “Roses are red, violets are blueish. If it weren’t for Christmas, we’d all be Jewish.” I laughed for a good 5 minutes over that one.

Shakespeare? He didn’t neglect the fad either. In his famous Ophelia scenes (where she runs in and out of court singing songs, throwing around flowers, and generally running mad), she sings a Valentine’s Day song!

To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.

England continued on in this same vein for the next several hundred years, making them one of the most dedicated countries when it comes to this holiday. Did you know that in the 1700’s they even had Valentine factories??? Whole factories that churned out nothing but ornate, flowery Valentines. It’s a pretty cool idea.

So, there you have it! A whirlwind tour through the beginnings of Valentine’s Day! What did you do to celebrate this year?

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Trying To Shine Through

Tomorrow may rain, so I’ll follow the sun.

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What’s It All About?

A few months back, a friend of a friend died. Though I didn’t know him, I was sad for her and as a show of support Mum and I went to this man’s funeral.

I’ve been to a lot of funerals, and this one was unlike any other. No singing, no photo montages. No songs at all. Instead, the man’s son gave an hour long biography of his father, pausing only to invite certain key figures from his father’s life to come up and speak as well (my friend being one of these people). However, what really struck me was what an awesome life this man led. Really, he did things that most of us can only dream about. It was a good, long, full, exciting life.

Except, I found myself being really sad that I’d never met this man. I’d have loved to hear him tell these stories.

Then, I forgot all about it.

That is, until tonight. Mum and I went over to help our friend with moving some stuff out of the deceased man’s house in preparation for an estate sale. She gave us the grand tour of the house, ending in a room that must have served as a sort of study for this man. Hung all over the walls in this room are commendations, signed prints and pictures, and other documents recording the wonderful things that the man had done.

His family does not want them. They will be sold in the estate sale.

This knocked me sideways. This man devoted his life to a career. He worked really hard doing dangerous and crazy things. He earned rewards and commendations that few people do because of his hard work.

And they will be purchased by a complete stranger for…what use? It won’t conjure up memories of this man for them, they don’t know him. The buyer won’t know what this man did to earn that certificate, or how he was presented with this commendation.

The name on those documents means nothing to them.

What then, is the point of all this? Those things obviously brought joy to him, brought to mind good memories and proud thoughts. Now, they simply are an impersonal collector’s item.

Is this what life comes down to? All the things that defined this man’s life, all the things that made him proud…they are being assessed for their market value. And that’s that.

End of story.

Or is it? Thornton Wilder, in his book The Bridge of San Luis Rey, examined this idea of memories, life, happiness, and love. His summation of the novel is brilliant (SPOILER ALERT!):

But soon we shall die and all memory of those five will have left earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.

Perhaps he is on to something. Maybe the memories we leave behind are enough. No matter what we do or do not leave behind us, our actions still count for something.

I really hope Wilder is correct.

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