May 2010

Part II: Pride and Prejudice, cont’d

Bridget Jones’s Diary was released in 2001 and is based on the book of the same name by Helen Fielding.  It is one of the funniest books I have ever read and I was very excited to see the movie.  The New York chapter of JASNA asked me to write a review of the film, which I agreed to do.  The review was subsequently published in both the New York and Toronto chapter newsletters and I don’t think they’ll mind if I reprint it here in my own blog:


Helen Fielding has freely admitted that she took the idea for her best-selling novel directly from her favorite book, Pride and Prejudice. There are some obvious similarities between the two — both have heroines with ditzy mothers, fiercely loyal friends, adoring fathers and, most notably, haughty, aloof, rich (and HANDSOME) heroes named Darcy.  The book charmed millions of readers around the world, Janeites and not, and many were dubious about the film.  Not to worry.  The film is, in a word, delightful.

As was the case with another modernization of an Austen novel, Amy Heckerling’s Clueless, some scenes from the book were omitted while others were added. But, on the whole, BJD works both as a movie in its own right and as an adaptation.  It works quite well, in fact.

Renee Zellwegger is simply wonderful as Bridget.  Her accent is, as a native Londoner of my acquaintance put it, spot on, and she seems to revel in the part.  Colin Firth’s Mark Darcy is not as dark or brooding as was his Fitzwilliam Darcy, but who cares?  He has a delightful smile and is just adorable as the successful, reserved barrister whose heart is stolen by the free-spirited Bridget.  Hugh Grant may have taken a risk by leaving behind his familiar role as a shy, stammering leading man, but the risk paid off.  He is outstanding as Bridget’s caddish boss, Daniel Cleaver.  Gemma Jones and Jim Broadbent are well-cast as Bridget’s parents.  Jones’s journey from suburban housewife to television presenter and back was very well done.  We don’t see as much of Broadbent as I might have liked, but his performance as Jones’s befuddled husband is excellent. I’d read in several places that the leads enjoyed themselves immensely while making this film.  It shows.

You don’t have to have read Pride and Prejudice to enjoy the film, but the screenwriters (Helen Fielding, Andrew Davies and Richard Curtis) make a point of paying homage to Our Dear Jane.  Part of the fun of watching the film is trying to spot these “P&P-isms.”  For example, I was pleased to see that the firm for which Bridget and Daniel work is called Pemberley Press.  In addition, Crispin Bonham-Carter (Mr. Bingley in P&P95) even has a couple of uncredited cameos in the film.

The film does deserve its R-rating because of profanity and some sexual situations, but it is absolutely one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in years. In short, run, don’t walk, to see Bridget Jones’s Diary.


I just watched this movie again today, and I still love it to pieces.  I still think that Colin Firth is better as Mark Darcy than as Fitzwilliam Darcy, and I still think this is Hugh Grant’s best role.  Helen Fielding wrote a sequel to BJD, called Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, that is based on Austen’s Persuasion (and which manages to be just as funny as BJD), but (alas) the film is not, and so I will not be discussing it in any columns concerning that novel.

Part II: Pride and Prejudice, cont’d

I finally finished watching P&P05.  It’s been on television recently, but I can’t stand to watch it with all the commercials so I have not seen it in its entirety in more than 2 years.  I saw it at least 9 times in the theater and enjoyed it very much.

This film has been the subject of controversy among FoJs since its UK release in the autumn of 2005.  Some declared that P&P95 was the “definitive” version and no other version should ever be attempted.  Others were not happy because of various casting choices (including the presence of a Canadian and an American as members of the Bennet family).  Etc.  But I went into it with an open mind when it first came out, and went into it with an open mind this time.

From the beginning, we see that these Bennets have a considerably happier marriage than do Austen’s Bennets, and this is not challenged at all during the film.  Obviously, that is a strike against this adaptation, because Mr. and Mrs. Bennet are the proverbial “chalk and cheese” type of couple.  That said, I do think that Brenda Blethyn is a very good Mrs. Bennet.  We see the remnants of the young Miss Gardiner who so captivated Mr. Bennet. We see her anxious about her daughters’ future. She’s still a silly, ignorant woman, but she is not shrill or shrieky. Donald Sutherland’s Mr. Bennet irks me (and the fact that he is a Canadian who cannot do an English accent to save his life has very little to do with my opinion of him in the role). As I’ve said before in other situations, an actor can only do what he’s been told to do and, in this case, what Mr. Sutherland was told to do does not work in an adaptation of P&P. Austen’s Mr. Bennet is not in love with his wife. Austen’s Mr. Bennet is not a caring, thoughtful parent. Austen’s Mr. Bennet is not a man who is terribly empathetic.  Sutherland’s Mr. Bennet is all of the above.

This adaptation does, however, have the single best Meryton Assembly I have ever seen. Here, it is blatantly obvious just why Darcy and Miss Bingley think they are above their company. This is a gathering of the local townspeople rather than a more formal occasion. Anyone who can afford a ticket can go, from the butcher to the mayor to the biggest landowner in the area. As Miss Bingley puts it, “we are a long way from Grosvenor Square…”  You are correct, Caroline. Other Meryton Assemblies that we’ve seen are far more formal affairs, and Bingley’s party is not subjected to quite so much riff raff as they are here. The music is wonderful, and the dancers all look as if they are having the time of their lives. It really is wonderful. Speaking of the Assembly, I know the “one poor sonnet will kill it forever” comment does not belong in this scene, but I’m very glad they included it in the movie. The “definitive” P&P does not have it (but P&P80 does).

One scene in particular that bothers self-described purists is the exchange between Lizzy (this film calls her “Lizzie,” but that’s not how she is referred to in the book) and Wickham where Wickham says that old Mr. Darcy “liked me better.”  Well, something very similar to that exchange actually is in the book.  From chapter 16:

A thorough, determined dislike of me — a dislike which I cannot but attribute in some measure to jealousy. Had the late Mr. Darcy liked me less, his son might have borne with me better; but his father’s uncommon attachment to me, irritated him I believe very early in life. He had not a temper to bear the sort of competition in which we stood — the sort of preference which was often given me.

No, not in exactly the same words, but yes, this Wickham is saying the same exact thing as the book’s Wickham.

I happened to like Keira Knightley as Elizabeth in this version. We see her maturation from girl to woman. We see her distancing herself from her sisters, even Jane. We see her coming into her own as a person. I love the scene where she digests Darcy’s letter. We see her thinking and processing its (truncated) details and realizing that even she can be wrong. It’s the same kind of “lightbulb moment” that Austen’s Elizabeth has and that Elizabeth Garvie’s Elizabeth has, but that Jennifer Ehle’s Elizabeth does not. Knightley shows us some of the girlish, fun-loving side of Elizabeth Bennet without being another Lydia.

Matthew Macfadyen has beautiful eyes and a very sexy voice, and he’s also a wonderful actor. Unfortunately, however, even though he and Keira Knightley are well matched, I don’t love him as Darcy. He brings out more of the character’s vulnerability than other men in the role have, but he also plays the character as too shy, which does not sit well with me. We know from interviews that Colin Firth also thought Darcy was shy and attempted to play him that way, but he must have done something wrong, because I never once thought that Firth’s Darcy was shy.

The Wickham/Lydia part of the plot was handled very clumsily, in my opinion. Rupert Friend’s Wickham is not handsome and charming — he is androgynous and petulant — and I never took him seriously as an experienced seducer of young girls. The actors who played the Gardiners looked like farmers instead of people of fashion from London. Georgiana Darcy was not a shy, quiet girl — this is a girl who could easily have been a cheerleader or homecoming queen. She’s outgoing and friendly.

Simon Woods’ Bingley did not impress me in the slightest. I simply cannot imagine Austen’s Darcy calling this man his best friend.  It boggles the mind. For the most part, I liked Claudie Blakeley as Charlotte, but once she married, I thought she played Charlotte as more in awe of Lady Catherine than Austen’s Charlotte (or, for that matter, the other Charlottes we’ve discussed thus far) was. Tom Hollander does not match Austen’s physical description of Mr. Collins, but he has the pompousness and self-absorption down pat. Kelly Reilly’s Miss Bingley is an excellent ice queen.  Even at the Netherfield Ball,when she’s dancing with Darcy, she’s very cool and very aloof and, frankly, not very graceful.  She looks as if she’s doing it simply because she has to, not because she wants to.  She can show off her ability to remember the steps, but she doesn’t seem to feel the music while she dances.  I really like the scene at the Ball where Darcy and Elizabeth dance alone — I know it wasn’t their original intent, but it works very nicely.  And I gather that newer versions of the movie have cleaned this up, but I still saw Keira’s earpiece after the dance.

I adored the sculpture gallery and how it replaced the portrait gallery in the book.  The pristine whiteness of the room and the marble was breathtaking.  Many of these pieces were in the house when Austen was alive, and it is not out of the realm of possibility that she saw some of these pieces.  Seeing Elizabeth staring at the bust of Darcy, while Mrs. Reynolds (known to fans of Upstairs Downstairs as Hazel Bellamy) talks to the Gardiners in the background, was very moving.  I really, really love this scene.

My friend “K2L” has told me that her mother-in-law kept track of how many lines from the book are actually in this adaptation, and her work paid off — this adaptation is closer to the book than Emma Thompson’s S&S95 is to Austen’s S&S. And this is, frankly, rather ironic because Emma Thompson is thanked in this adaptation and also reportedly came up with the lines of dialogue that anger purists the most. Life does work in mysterious ways, does it not?

All in all, I like this adaptation very much. It does not pretend to be definitive nor “the book come to life,” and its fans don’t claim that it is either. It is, however, beautiful to behold and tells the story quite nicely in a 2-hour time frame. I highly recommend it to fans with an open mind.

The Mets just finished a sweep of the hated Philadelphia Phillies in which the Phillies scored zero runs.  This, of course, comes on the heels of a series win (the first rubber game win, in fact) of the even-more-hated New York Yankees.

Reyes (3 hits last night) looks like his old self.  Bay is hitting.  Pelfrey (7-1) is looking like the top-of-the-rotation pitcher he was drafted to be.   Anthony DiComo has a good piece about the game at

Shortly after completing one of baseball’s rarer achievements, Mike Pelfrey was told that the only other time the Mets shut out the same team in a three-game series came back in 1969, when Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Nolan Ryan and two others took the mound.

“Those guys aren’t bad, are they?” Pelfrey said.

And what of Pelfrey, R.A. Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi?

“Comparable,” Pelfrey said, rolling his eyes.

Yet this week — if only for a week — they were.

Box is here.

If only David Wright would start hitting.  He was 0-4 last night, with 1 strikeout and 5 men left on base.  My own personal thinking is that he needs to see a sports psychologist to deal with last year’s beaning.  He hasn’t been the same since.  The Wall Street Journal had a good piece about David and his troubles that has his numbers before and after being hit in the head by the Giants’ Matt Cain last August.  The resulting concussion put him on the 15-day DL and the difference in his performance between BC (Before Concussion) and AC (After Concussion) is mind-boggling.  According to the WSJ piece, he’s hitting 74 points lower overall, and 86 points lower against righties. His strikeouts-per-at-bat are alarming. Anyone who watches the games can see that opponents have noticed his problems and are routinely pitching him inside.

David is a special player who was putting up Hall of Fame numbers.  He needs to get some professional help, or else he won’t be a special player much longer.

I’ve known for a few months now that I was going to need a new car.  Well, due to circumstances beyond my control, I had to buy one as soon as possible.  I’d been toying around with getting a Honda Fit, but ended up with a 2010 Toyota Corolla LE in Barcelona Red.”  In an odd twist of fate, my very first car was also a red Corolla.

The caption for this picture says it’s a 1966; I cannot remember what year my first Corolla was, but it looked a lot like this one (only in red and without the mirrors on the hood).  I bought it for around $350 back in 1982.  Here is the new one.  There is definitely a difference!  I wanted a manual, but they are hard to come by, so I “settled” for an automatic.  I’ve been driving it for a day and a half, and my left foot is bored and my right hand still rests on the gear shift, just itching to move it. 😀  Old habits die hard, I guess.

As an aside, Real Life is kind of crazy right now, but I do hope to have a column on P&P05 posted by Wednesday.  To be honest, I’m rather disappointed that no rabid P&P95 fans have come here to abuse me for daring to say it’s not perfect.  Oh well.

Part II: Pride and Prejudice, cont’d.

P&P95 is next on the list of P&P adaptations.  It’s the longest adaptation so this is a rather long column.

I hadn’t watched it in quite a while (it’s been at least 2 years), and was looking forward to seeing it again. It’s hard to forget that there has been a lot of hype about this adaptation; I’ve heard it called “the best BBC adaptation ever,” “the book come to life” and “perfection itself.” So, does it live up to the hype? Alas, in my not-so-humble opinion, the answer is “no.”

The BBC (and its co-producers, such as the US cable network A&E) had a very large budget, and the production is gorgeous.  The sets, the costumes and the music are all breath-taking, and when I add the remastered box set to my collection it will be even more gorgeous. My problems are, however, not with the production values, but with the production itself.   Most of the cast members are too old for their roles, most notably Julia Sawalha as Lydia.  A 25+-year-old playing a 15-year-old?  Sorry, but she was not convincing in the slightest and seemed to try too hard to be naive and immature.  She flung herself around the room, snorted while laughing and Davies gave her jokes laced with sexual innuendos.  Jennifer Ehle’s Elizabeth is way too matronly and mature at the start of the story; she never really grows up and matures the way Austen’s Elizabeth does.  The scenes where this very self-contained Elizabeth scampers about the countryside and plays with the dog at Netherfield are positively cringe-worthy and out of character.

Ehle’s Elizabeth is also very rude to Darcy.  She rolls her eyes when he speaks to her and is very curt when she speaks back.  As I have mentioned before, we cannot forget that Austen tells us the following:

Elizabeth, having rather expected to affront him, was amazed at his gallantry; but there was a mixture of sweetness and archness in her manner which made it difficult for her to affront anybody; and Darcy had never been so bewitched by any woman as he was by her. He really believed, that were it not for the inferiority of her connections, he should be in some danger. (emphasis mine)

“Arch,” as we know, means “saucy,” or “roguish” or “impertinent.”  Ehle’s Elizabeth is none of the above, and I honestly fail to grasp what this Darcy sees in her.  During their dance at the Netherfield ball, she rolls her eyes and contorts her face, spits out her lines and is generally very disagreeable.  And Firth always looks angry. I would too, if I had to spend any time with this Elizabeth Bennet.  If I were Darcy, I’d run as far as I could from this woman.  It’s patently obvious she hates him and, in the book, he is unaware of her true feelings for him.  Granted, it’s not all Ehle’s fault – after all, she can only do what the director and writer tell her to do — but I find no basis in the text for this kind of behavior.

This Elizabeth never has her “lightbulb moment.”  The book’s Elizabeth reads Darcy’s letter and says “until this moment I never knew myself.”  And she means it.  This is, in my opinion, the turning point of the novel, the point when Elizabeth starts to have the self-awareness needed for her growth into a mature adult.  In this adaptation, she does say the line, but she says it to Jane several days later, back at Longbourn, so it really doesn’t pack the same punch as it does in the book (or, dare I say it?) in P&P80.  And, speaking of the letter, I don’t understand what possessed Andrew Davies to flip the contents and talk about Wickham first, and deal with Jane and Bingley later. This makes no sense to me at all. As an aside, there’s a head-scratching moment during the flashbacks – after Wickham gets his check for law school from Darcy, he leaves the room and greets Emilia Fox as Georgiana.  But, since this all happened 5 years previously, Georgiana should only be around 11 years old.  Someone obviously was not paying attention.

Scenes from the book that I miss include Elizabeth singing at the Lucas’ party, Miss Bingley offering to repair Darcy’s pen, Darcy asking Elizabeth to dance a reel and Mrs. Gardiner warning Elizabeth about falling in love with Wickham, among others.  Instead of these scenes, however, there are several scenes invented by Andrew Davies that I am not fond of.  For example, I don’t understand why Mrs. Bennet tries to convince Darcy to dance with Elizabeth at the Meryton Assembly, and I want to throw something at the TV when Elizabeth talks about how “only the deepest love will induce [her] into matrimony.”  Talk about cringe-worthy!  And then there’s the scene where Elizabeth and Wickham talk about his engagement to Mary King and he says something to the effect that “if only circumstances were different…”  That scene really doesn’t work for me (nor does a similar scene where Wickham tells Elizabeth that he’s “loath to part” from her). I also don’t like the scene where Lydia is running around in her underwear, bumps into Mr. Collins and starts laughing.  That is just completely inappropriate.

I think the biggest problem I have with this adaptation is all of the “extra Darcy.”  Austen’s Darcy is not around very often, and we get to know him as Elizabeth does.  This Darcy is not quite omnipresent, but we do see him far more often than we do in the book.  The simple fact that this is referred to as “the Colin Firth version” is very telling.  We’re not supposed to know so much about Darcy before Elizabeth does. The scenes in the bathtub and at the fencing school are gratuitous.  The pond scene is ridiculous and makes me very angry.  It is just so un-Darcy-like and I find it to be purely gratuitous.  Darcy knows full well that the grounds of Pemberley are often visited by the public, and I cannot picture Austen’s character diving into that scummy pond. And then there’s his “quick-change” act — he gets into the house, runs up to his room, dries off, changes his clothes and runs back downstairs again — all in the time it takes for Elizabeth and the Gardiners to walk across the lawn back to their waiting carriage.  Did he borrow Doc Brown’s flux capacitor?  And I haven’t even mentioned yet that the pond scene ruins the surprise that Darcy has arrived.  If Austen had wanted us to know that Darcy was at Pemberley before Elizabeth does, she’d have told us.  She did not do so.  The scenes where we see Darcy going off to London in search of Lydia also tick me off – they ruin that surprise completely too.  What reason could Davies possibly have for doing this?  Not everyone out there has read the book.  Why ruin it for them?

Another made-up scene that I am not fond of is when Mr. Collins comes to the Bennet house to “condole” with the girls while Mr. Bennet is searching for Lydia in London. In the book he wrote a letter expressing his sentiments.  And that makes sense, because it’s already been established that Longbourn is a good 50 miles from Hunsford.  We know from Mr. Collins’ visit to Longbourn and Elizabeth’s to Hunsford that this trip takes more than a day, and that distance is why he wrote a letter.  The distance is also why it’s such a big deal for Lady Catherine to travel to Longbourn to warn Elizabeth not to marry Darcy.

If I close my eyes when Alison Steadman is on screen, I hear Monty Python’s Terry Jones pretending to be a woman.  Steadman’s shrillness and shrieking are extremely annoying.  Yes, Mrs. Bennet is supposed to be annoying, but she’s never described as a shrieking fishwife. There is no hint whatsoever of the beautiful, good-humored girl Mr. Bennet fell for all those years ago.

Despite this very long list of quibbles, I actually do like this adaptation. I like that they include the scene near the end where Elizabeth tells Jane how long she’s loved Darcy, and I also like that they have the scene where Mr. Bennet tells Elizabeth that he’s given Darcy permission to marry her.  But the second proposal is not well done at all.  Instead of sounding like a man who’s “violently in love,” Darcy sounds as if he’s agreeing to a business transaction.  I have heard that even Andrew Davies himself has admitted that this scene is not as good as it could have been.

Unfortunately, however, all the hype and hysteria surrounding this adaptation – particularly in the aftermath of the release of P&P05 – made me go back and watch it more critically than I ever had before, and I honestly don’t think it holds up well to intense scrutiny. It absolutely is not “the book come to life,” but it is still a whole lot of fun and I enjoy watching it.

OK, now despise me if you dare.

Part II: Pride and Prejudice, cont’d

I’ve been watching P&P80 over the past couple of days and just finished last night.  I am so glad I hadn’t seen it (or any of the other “traditional” adaptations) in more than a year because I want to be as objective as possible. I believe I managed to be rather objective with the S&S adaptations, and I hope to do the same with P&P.

That said, I have loved P&P80 since I first saw it during my senior year in college.  All of the girls on the hall stopped what we were doing on Sunday nights at 9 and crowded into a tiny dorm room to watch it on a 13″ television.  We were enthralled.  The only other adaptation that had ever been shown in the US was P&P40, and this one was so much closer to the book that we could not help but appreciate it.  We’d all read the book and found a lot to like about this adaptation.  The opening credits are very clever — to this day, for days after watching it, I find myself humming the theme song and seeing the scenes from the book scroll by.

I still love Elizabeth Garvie as Elizabeth and David Rintoul as Darcy.  Garvie’s Elizabeth is just as “arch” and “sweet” as Austen tells us the character is.  And Rintoul’s Darcy is as aloof, aristocratic and enigmatic as he is in the book. This adaptation’s other characters are also outstanding, particularly Bingley, Miss Bingley, Lydia, the Gardiners, Mr. Collins, Lady Catherine and Mr. Wickham.  I can very easily imagine  a man like Darcy being good friends with Charles Bingley as played by Osmund Bullock.  Other Bingleys are rather insipid and I cannot for the life of me understand why any Darcy would choose one of those Bingleys to be his friend.  Marsha Fitzalan is wonderful at being the nasty piece of work that is Miss Bingley.  Natalie Ogle’s Lydia is flighty and silly and flirtatious, just as Austen tells us she is.  The Gardiners are terrific.  The book tells us that they could be mistaken for people of fashion, and these Gardiners both fit the bill perfectly.  In the book, we are told that Mr. Collins is a tall, heavy-set man, and he is exactly that in this series. And Judy Parfitt’s Lady Catherine is simply outstanding.  This is a woman whom one can imagine ordering her driver to take her the 50 miles to Meryton so she can berate that upstart Miss Elizabeth Bennet.  I love her in this role. Austen’s Mr. Wickham is handsome and able to hide his true character because of his good looks and his charm, and Peter Settelen does this beautifully.

I must also put in a few good words for Moray Watson (Mr. Bennet) and Priscilla Morgan (Mrs. Bennet). I think they are both outstanding. They are EXACTLY the way I picture the characters when I read the book.  Some say that Watson’s Mr. Bennet is too mean, but his portrayal fits with my take on Mr. Bennet.  As I said in an earlier post, I don’t like Austen’s Mr. Bennet very much, and Watson gives us a very unlikeable man.  Priscilla Morgan’s Mrs. Bennet is hilarious.  Austen tells us that Mr. Bennet married Miss Gardiner because she was very pretty and very lively, and Morgan’s Mrs. Bennet shows us hints of what Miss Gardiner once was.

The lead actors are all close to the appropriate age for their characters — Elizabeth Garvie was 22/23, David Rintoul was around 31, Osmund Bullock was about 27, Sabina Franklyn (Jane) was around 25 and Natalie Ogle was maybe 20 — and I like this too.

The production values are admittedly not very good.  They used videotape for the interior scenes and film for the exterior scenes and there are marked differences between the two.  Some people have said that this production is like watching a play, and I can understand that.  But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.  Many of the actors are classically trained and have performed on the stage, and that’s perhaps why this is very “play-like,”  but that does not bother me in the slightest.  Nor do, by the way, most of the made-up scenes that Fay Weldon added to her script.  The scene with Mr. Collins and the flotation hat is made up, but it always makes me laugh and is perfectly in character.  The one made-up scene that does bother me is when Elizabeth runs to Pemberley to tell her aunt and uncle about Lydia’s elopement. Granted, we are never once told in this adaptation that Lambton is only 5 miles from Pemberley, but the running is still ridiculous. Luckily, this is the only scene that really irks me.  And, it is rather pristine — for example, Elizabeth’s gown never really is “six inches deep in mud” after she walks to Netherfield from Longbourn.  But, given that it’s a product of its time, that’s not surprising. Adapters didn’t seem to pay attention to that level of “realism” until P95 came along, and even then that trend didn’t really catch on until the 21st century adaptations.

Despite the made-up scenes and dialogue, this version does still keep certain scenes from the book that no other adaptation has.  For example, we get to see the scene when Darcy and Caroline are taking a walk at Netherfield and Caroline taunts Darcy about hanging Mr. Phillips’ portrait at Pemberley; or the scene at Netherfield when Darcy asks Elizabeth to dance a reel; or the scene at Pemberley where the Gardiners talk about the age of the house.  As an aside, the scene where Elizabeth and Darcy first see each other at Pemberley is the inspiration for the ending of “You’ve Got Mail,” when Meg Ryan realizes that her “secret admirer” is really Tom Hanks.  I remember stifling a squee of delight when I saw that scene in the theater.  Nora Ephron has said that P&P is her favorite book, and I’m glad she honored this series in her movie.

It’s nice to know that I am not alone in loving Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul as Elizabeth and Darcy.  About a year ago, there was a fundraiser at Chawton House where Garvie and Rintoul reprised their roles as Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy.  Here are some pictures of the event.  And here is a video clip of the ball itself.  It is interesting that the music in the background comes from the Netherfield Ball scene in P&P05.

This adaptation is readily available to those of us in Region 1 (US/Canada), but is not quite as easy to obtain outside of this Region. sells a Dutch import to Region 2 customers. I do not know off the top of my head if it can be purchased outside Regions 1 and 2, but I do know that there are some clips over on YouTube.  The full series may have been there at one point, but unfortunately it’s not there now.  I do hope Janeites who may have missed this wonderful adaptation get to see it.

It’s lovebug season here in Florida.  These disgusting little creatures seem to spend their entire short lives mating.  They fly around, attached to each other, and quite often end up splattered all over windshields and grilles all over Florida (I guess that some might say “what a way to go!” but I just can’t — they’re way too annoying and gross).  The resulting mess is hard to get rid of, so most people don’t bother until after the 3-week invasion is over unless it’s absolutely necessary.  I don’t normally cite Wikipedia as a source, but this article echoes everything I know about them:

The adult lovebug feeds on the nectar of flowering plants. Upon reaching maturity the lovebug spends almost the entirety of its remaining life copulating with its mate, hence its numerous romantic nicknames. The male and female attach themselves at the rear of the abdomen and remain that way at all times, even in flight. In fact, after mating, the male dies and is dragged around by the female until she lays her eggs. Females lay up to 350 eggs in debris, and about 20 days later the eggs hatch into larvae. The larval stage may last up to nine months.

They are everywhere, and their mating season has only just started.  We have 2 more weeks of this.  I itch just thinking about them.  In a word, bleagh.  

I’m about 24 hours late to the party on this one, but Real Life got in the way.  I decided to post it for those who may not have had the chance to see it yet: MSA member at UCSD tells David Horowitz how she really feels about Jews and Israel.

From the transcript:

Horowitz: If you don’t condemn Hamas, obviously you support it.  Case closed.  I have had this experience at UC Santa Barbara, where there were 50 members of the Muslim Students Association sitting right in the rows there.  And throughout my hour talk I kept asking them, will you condemn Hizbollah and Hamas. And none of them would.  And then when the question period came, the president of the Muslim Students Association was the first person to ask a question. And I said, ‘Before you start, will you condemn Hizbollah?’ And he said, ‘Well, that question is too complicated for a yes or no answer.’  So I said, ‘Okay, I’ll put it to you this way.  I am a Jew.  The head of Hizbollah has said that he hopes that we will gather in Israel so he doesn’t have to hunt us down globally.  For or Against it?

MSA member: For it.

Horowitz: Thank you for coming and showing everybody what’s here.

A lot of Leftists around the world don’t entirely disagree with this young woman, and that scares the bejeezus out of me.   How come she’s not being hounded by the school’s PTB for hate speech?

Never mind.  I think we all know the answer.   

Until last night, the Mets had not come back to win a game they’d been losing after 6 innings.  They were 0-12 in previous attempts.  But last night, they scored 6 runs in the 8th inning to beat the Nationals by a final score of 8-6, showing that they just may believe in their own comebacks.

It was a 16-hit attack (box is here), but there’s still something wrong in Metland. Wright and Bay, who went a combined 6-for-8, somehow managed only 1 RBI between them, Reyes went hitless and Niese looked bad giving up 6 earned runs on 6 hits with 5 walks in only 4.1 innings.  Chris Carter drove in a run with a double in his first Mets at-bat, immediately making the blue-and-orange faithful forget about Frank Catalanotto.

But a win is a win is a win, and I don’t want to allow myself to get too upset over the negatives right now.  However, the fact remains that there are negatives, and I’m sure I’ll be thinking about them if Big Pelf looks bad in today’s matinée (preview here).



Updated, 7:24 p.m.

Despite my efforts to the contrary, I dwelt on the negatives this afternoon.  It wasn’t hard.

Pelf didn’t look great; not godawful, but not great either.  Frankie gave up the go-ahead runs on a home run to a kid who hadn’t had a single homer before today (now he has 2).  Reyes still can’t buy a hit.  The team BA is .247.  They’re by themselves in 3rd place, 2.5 back of the Phillies and 2 games ahead of the Marlins and Braves.  Box is here.

I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to read FM: The Rise and Fall of Rock Radio; the book came out in 2001 and I only just picked it up from the library the other day.

FM is by Richard Neer, who has been a disc jockey, talk show host, music director and programmer for a variety of radio stations in the New York area, including WNEW-FM, an iconic progressive-rock radio station in New York City. Their slogan was “Where Rock Lives,” and they weren’t kidding.  Sadly, the station itself doesn’t exist anymore — 102.7 is now WWFS, “hot adult contemporary” (whatever that means) — but the old “Where Rock Lives” format is available online at and on HD radio.   If you’ve figured out by now that I loved this radio station, you’d be right.  My taste in music has always been eclectic — everything from 60s pop to bluegrass to country to classic rock to classical to baroque — and WNEW-FM was one of my presets for many, many years.  XM has two stations that are similar, channel 46 (Classic Vinyl) and channel 49 (Classic Rewind) and, in fact, several former WNEW DJ’s host shows on these stations (including Richard’s brother, Dan Neer), and both are presets on my XM radio right now.

These days, Neer is a weekend and fill-in host at WFAN in New York, the country’s first all sports station. He’s been called “Sir Sominex” by media writer Bob Raissman, but his fans call him “The Voice of Reason.” I happen to like Neer’s quiet, restrained style (despite his periodic left-wing political pronouncements) and still listen to him on Saturday mornings (this time, through the miracle that is streaming audio via and think he’s one of the best hosts at that station.  Yes, I admit it — one of my vices is a fondness for sports radio.  When I’m home on weekends, I pretty much always have WFAN streaming in the background.

But that’s not why I have long wanted to read the book.  FM is a fascinating look at the New York radio scene starting with the invention of FM radio in the 1950s.  It’s well-written and is chock-full of interesting anecdotes about people and events that will be familiar to anyone who loves radio and rock music, even if they’re not from New York.  I cannot recommend it highly enough and will be sorry to have to return it to the library.  Amazon has it in stock, so I might find myself buying it some day.  It’s also the last non-“light reading” I’ll be doing for a while.  Summer semester starts tomorrow, and I’m taking civil procedure and a very intensive class on computer applications for law firms, so I won’t have as much time for pleasure reading through the end of July.  It’s a good thing that both Julia Quinn and Lisa Kleypas have books coming out in the next few weeks because they are likely all I’ll be in the mood for.

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