Probably too much fun, and I should do some actual work.
56 Delightful Victorian Phrases
How to Speak 19th Century - Brought to you by a guy who saw George Washington wear a "surtout." And "oakum" isn't something you stick in your pipe and smoke... There are a lot of words on here I already know, because, yup, I like old stuff.
Manly Slang from the 19th Century - artofmanliness.com is just a fantastic site! It comes up a lot when I'm doing story research. If you enjoy writing historical stuff, be it novels or fanfics, artofmanliness is a stop you have to make along your research journey. (Unless you know everything already.)
Here are some interesting books...
The Humors of Falconbridge
A Journey to Ohio in 1810
Journals and Letters of ... a Plantation Tutor of the Old Dominion - the Old Dominion in this case is Virginia. Sorry, Canadians. (I was slightly disappointed, too.) I spent most of the morning reading this, and it's really fascinating. Only if you like old things, though. And if you can stand to read awkward English, with lots of ampersands (&'s!), and Random Capitalization of Letters, including Improper Nouns, and Verbs that do not Open sentences. And I skipped the first two chapters...
Ah, well, in retrospect, "made it through" is overstating...
Our Modern Maidens
This is a fun jazz-age romp. Really much better than you'd expect, and much better than the ratings systems ... at least everywhere that I've read about this movie... would have you believe. But I've always had a history of liking two-star films more than those with three or four stars. This is also a silent film, although it has a "sound effects track," which is what I called it without knowing its proper, technical name. This means that it has the occasional sound effect added in, like laughter, applause, music (other than the score) ... and maybe some squealing car tires. (I've already forgotten.)
Here's IMDB's one-sentence summary: A flapper charms a diplomat to procure her fiancé a career opportunity, while the fiancé starts a relationship with her best friend.
If it sounds a little strange, yes, it is. If it sounds like a plot you'd see in a film today, you're not wrong. It just wouldn't be as much fun as this kitschy 76-minute romance of rich people having the time of their lives, and then feeling down when they don't get what they want!
Anyway... When I say Jazz Age, I mean it! The film hit theaters in September of 1929, with a young and beautiful Joan Crawford as Billie. Joan sports a Frodo-inspired haircut, funky shoes, cloche hats ... and starring next to her real-life fiance, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Did I mention that he also plays her secret affianced in this awesome, "pre code" frolic? Did I mention yet that it has a riveting Anita Page as "Kentucky," Billie's best chum, and totally in love with Billie's beau Gil?
Through happenstance, Billie runs into the diplomat, played so convincingly by Rod LaRocque. Looking to get Gil away from the apron strings and having him settled at a Paris embassy, Billie pursues Abbot the diplomat in the hopes of buttering him up long enough to propel Gil through the red tape. Billie's carefree tendencies, and her amour with Gil just between him, her and the fly on the wall, soon comes back to bite her in the rump. Meanwhile, while Billie's running around with Mr. Pencil-thin Mustache, Kentucky is getting along marvelously with her old friend Gil. And I do mean marvelously! Actually, while watching the movie, I thought Gil and Kentucky were cuter together than Gil and Billie. It really did keep me on the edge of my seat wondering how the whole thing would work out. I wasn't disappointed.
Joan Crawford was a damn firecracker, if you've never seen one of her early movies. I don't even know what modern star I'd be able to compare her to... Well, I thought she had great presence, used up space well with her arms and posturing, and she had magnificent use of her eyes. Strangely, it's Anita Page who often gets credited with using her eyes so well. The thing I loved best about Anita Page was her hair. Am I superficial? I did, though. I loved her hair. It was fluffy, bleached, bobbed and wavy, completely destroyed by chemicals and products, but it was epic. I also loved the affectionate relationship between Billie and Kentucky. Precode or not, these girls were sweet together, and, sadly, affection like that is often lost in entertainment these days. (Because you wouldn't want to put ideas into people's heads — this is where I doff my hat to you, oh writers/creators/staff of Rizzoli & Isles!) Billie and Kentucky had a lot of on-screen time together, while, interestingly enough, I don't remember Mr. Pencil-thin Mustache and Gil saying that many words to one another.
Traditionally, I'm really hard on male actors of the silver screen era. Most of them were fine to look at, but most of them were rather atrocious in the talent department. This film happens to have two of my favorites: Rod LaRocque and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Fairbanks first captured my attention in the 1937 release of The Prisoner of Zenda, the best adaptation of Anthony Hope's novel. It wouldn't be hard for Fairbanks to play a bombastic swashbuckling villain, I suppose—but he did it with such ease and affability it was hard not to realize the depth of his talent (despite the DNA of his awesome gene pool). But both of these men are splendid in Our Modern Maidens. Rod's a little over-the-top, perhaps, but that was en vogue then, and I won't hold it against him. Fairbanks was splendidly subdued, and while watching it I felt that he was holding back a little, really into his character... or just trying hard not to outshine his lustrous bride-to-be. (Fairbanks and Crawford were married about four years.) Another reason to enjoy this film? The men were pretty—pretty AND pointless. They served as plot points around which our female protagonists parried. I like it when a man's importance is turned down a notch or two.
There are two other films in this "series." Our Dancing Daughters from 1928, and Our Blushing Brides in 1930. The films are unrelated, except in style and feel. I'd like to see them too someday. I think I'd enjoy them. If you'd like a visual romp at the end of the jazz age, before the downfall of world economy brought on by the Great Depression, you'd like Our Modern Maidens.
Relative Strangers, 2006.
I couldn't finish this one. I couldn't even get thirty minutes into it. Since I spend a lot of my time writing novels in which the characters from small, rural towns are NOT squeezed into stereotypes, the characterizations of a country couple in this film really annoyed me. It just wasn't funny to me, being too stale and overdone. But is there any more believable couple appearing in a film together besides Neve Campbell and Ron Livingston?
A Damsel in Distress - 1937
Believe it or not, Joan Fontaine dances — a little — in this movie!
I know, I couldn't believe it either... not until I was seeing it. She was pretty adorable in this movie. Loved her costumes—they were so perfectly suited for her and her character (was there really much difference?). Loved the schemes Fred Astaire had to come up with to get to her. There's a lot of twisting with standard film ploys, and that was entertaining. Also fun were the Gershwin songs I wasn't really familiar with... and the few that I was familiar with, like "Foggy Day." I found George Burns and Gracie Allen to be annoying and, thankfully, forgettable. I found Reginald Gardiner to be one of the secret highlights of the film, including his hilarious escape to burst into song to avoid his mistress from eyeballing him and belittling his love of opera. The consummate professional, Constance Collier, is also in this film (as the one eyeballing her opera-lover butler). I would've enjoyed it more had the comic relief come directly from Astaire, who certainly showed that he was capable of it, or from Reginald Gardiner... and not from George and Gracie.
Seems to be okay if I'm typing, though, so I don't think the [accidentally self-inflicted] injury will prevent me from reaching any writing goals this week.
I spent part of this evening looking up moon phases on the almanac site. I don't remember coming across any blue moons this year. Did I miss something?
But I did notice a strong New Moon presence in March. Look for lots of energy, strange dreams and an inability to sleep as well as you're used to.
Two planets, Mars and Saturn, go retrograde on the first and second of the month. This occurs at the time of the New Moon (also on the first), so expect to be frustrated about not being able to sleep, and an inability to use that extra energy wisely.
If anyone else is thinking of this right now... You are not alone.
So Carrie Underwood has responded to the criticism in a predictable but still cringe-inducing way.
Plain and simple: Mean people need Jesus. They will be in my prayers tonight… 1 Peter 2:1-25
— Carrie Underwood (@carrieunderwood) December 7, 2013
Carrie, let me tell you a story … about Halle Berry. Halle won the Best Actress Oscar for Monster’s Ball, and was on top of the world. A couple of years later, she won another award – The Razzie for Worst Actress for Catwoman. Did she stew in her own self-pity? No, she accepted the award in person. Why? “If you’re not willing to take criticism, you’re not worthy of praise.”
hehe... important for anyone in a public and creative pursuit to remember.
I should ask Ms. Underwood why she thinks good things happen to bad people, and why bad things happen to good people. And what happens if someone is mean and of a different religion?
Then again, who cares? There are sparkle ponies in the world.