July 2011


Summers here are oppressive.  I pack my lunch every day to save money, but I also do it because going outside at high noon is decidedly unappealing.  Unfortunately for me, two of my work colleagues sit in the kitchen and watch Cheaters, which is, I believe, even worse than that Joan Rivers show that I’d previously stated should be considered for the title of Worst Show Ever. This show is awful.  And it’s loud.  And I just couldn’t take it anymore, so I’ve started to take my lunch and my book and go into a conference room and read in the peace and quiet.

So, what have I been reading?  Righteous Indignation, by Andrew Breitbart.  It’s a combination of a memoir and a rant against the mainstream media.  I liked it.  My current book is Bought and Paid For, by Charlie Gasparino.  I just started it, but it’s been very interesting so far.  I worked in and around Wall Street for many years, and I’m betting that very little of what’s in this book will surprise me.  I’ve known for years that the biggest of the big muckety-mucks on Wall Street aren’t Republicans, but it’s in the Left’s best interests to continue to promulgate that myth, and millions of people around the country believe it.

A book I bought for my Kindle because the library doesn’t have it (yet?) is Reckless Endangerment by Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner.  I haven’t read much yet because of all the library books, but it’s interesting so far.  Morgenson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning business writer with the New York Times, and I saw a couple of interviews she’s given about the book, so I decided to read it.  Morgenson and Rosner take no prisoners.  They name names and, based on what I know so far about the story they have to tell, they tell us that the blame for the financial crisis that hit us in 2007/2008 doesn’t just belong to Wall Street investment banks.  Quite a lot of it rests on the shoulders of Washington politicians. My own opinion (based on having worked with people whose homes are in foreclosure) is that some of the blame belongs to to people making $75K who happily sign the paperwork for a no-money-down loan on a house valued at $350K; this tells me that there is more than enough blame (and greed) to go around.

On a lighter note, there’s P.S. I Love You (not this cover), by Celia Ahern.  I’d rented the movie a couple of weeks ago, and had had no idea that it was based on a book.  So, of course, I had to take out the book.  Holly is a young widow whose husband, Gerry, died of a brain tumor. He knew just how difficult Holly’s life would be, so he writes her letters that are to be given to her after his death, and they help her cope with the loneliness and also with the idea of moving on with her life.  The movie made me cry almost from the opening credits, but the book didn’t.  I think the reason is that the book showed more humor than the movie did.  But the book and the movie are both very sweet and I recommend them.

Another book I took out is Mansfield Revisited by Joan Aiken.  Yes, it’s based on Austen’s Mansfield Park, which means it’ll be the subject of its own post later on.

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N and I went to see DH2 this morning.  The theater was pretty crowded for a 9:30 show, but we did get to sit together and were far from being the last people in the theater.

The movie was just amazing. It was breathtaking.  It was gripping.  It was heartbreaking. We knew how it was going to end, but we were still on the edge of our seats at some parts, and we still cried at others.

There were, however, a couple of things that I don’t understand.

First, what reason could they have for omitting having Harry explain the whole Elder Wand business to Voldemort in front of the whole crowd? Instead, he just tells Ron and Hermione when they’re all alone.

Second, I thought that the scene in the book, where Harry repairs his old wand with the Elder Wand and then decides to put the Elder Wand back in Dumbledore’s grave was very moving. What possessed them to have him just break it in two and toss it away?

Third, why wasn’t Crabbe in the Room of Requirement? I thought I’d seen him earlier (he’s in the credits). And who was the new character in the Room with Goyle and Malfoy?

And, last but not least, I didn’t like the way the diadem was handled. Luna doesn’t tell Harry that he should ask the Gray Lady; he comes up with that on his own. And why did they change the Gray Lady’s story? It was perfectly fine the way Jo Rowling wrote it.

You may say I’m being nitpicky and a purist.  But I disagree.  These were changes that weren’t made in the interest of time (after all, what was the point of having Harry and Voldemort fly around the castle?), and changes that didn’t affect the story materially.  They just seemed to be change for the sake of change.  And the way the diadem was handled reminded me of something in Half-Blood Prince that annoyed me — in that movie, we never saw Harry put the diadem on the bust so he’d have an idea of where to look for it later on. Instead, they have him being able to hear the horcruxes.  That was, in my opinion, a bit over the top.

I cried for most of the second half of the movie.  I liked seeing Harry able to speak with his parents, Sirius and Lupin.  I did think Snape’s memories were too short, but we did get to see how much he loved Lily.  Alan Rickman is a brilliant actor, and he shows his talents to us once again in this film.  The audience applauded when Molly killed Bellatrix.  I’m glad that Ciarán Hinds found his way into a Potter movie (as Aberforth Dumbledore); I’m just sorry we didn’t see more of him.   The epilogue was very sweet, and I’m glad they re-shot the scene.  The actors looked so much better this time than they did in the clips that were leaked last year.

Overall, I really, really loved the movie.  I cannot wait to see it again, and I will definitely be buying it as soon as it comes out on DVD.  If you’re a Potter fan, run, don’t walk, to see it.  You will not regret it.

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On Edit — I have found out why Crabbe (Jamie Waylett) doesn’t appear in DH2.  He was arrested in 2009 for both possessing and growing marijuana.   His character doesn’t appear in DH1 at all, so I didn’t notice his absence until DH2.  I could have sworn I’d seen him at some point in the movie.  Maybe it was in a flashback.  I’ll pay more attention next time I see the film.

Sarasota may not have a world-class orchestra to call its own, but we do have a world-class venue.

The Van Wezel (pronounced wayzel) Performing Arts Hall is a gigantic purple structure right on the waterfront.  The view is breathtaking. It is situated in Centennial Park which isn’t much in and of itself, but it does mean that there is plenty of lawn for outdoor events.  And, on the third Friday of every month, the Van Wezel hosts Friday Fest, a free, outdoor concert series that attracts a whole lot of people to that lawn. This month’s show was by Yesterdayze which, as I’ve said before, is my favorite local band.  About 10 or 12 of us met up there and had a blast.  There was barbecue from J&J (excellent!), beer, ice cream, chicken sandwiches from Michael’s on East and lots of singing and dancing. When we went last year, there was a massive thunderstorm which literally put a damper on the evening, but last night was lovely (at least in our part of the area — further inland it poured) and the concert went on uninterrupted.

A fine time was had by all.

Tomorrow is the finals of the Women’s World Cup, and the USA is playing against Japan.  During the semis on Wednesday, one of the partners arranged for pizza and lunchtime was spent watching the American women beat France, 3-1.  I’m hoping to check out La Princesse de Montpensier at the Lakewood Ranch Cinema tomorrow, but I do expect to be home in time to watch the game.

And, speaking of movies, DH2 is here.  I leave in just over an hour to meet N at the theater.  We’ll go out for lunch afterwards for a rehashing session. I can  hardly wait!

Part II: The Films

Since it’s already been established that I am anal-retentive nitpicker, I am watching the Jane Eyre movies in chronological order.  First up is a black-and-white version from 1934 starring Virginia Bruce as Jane and Colin Clive (he played Dr. Frankenstein opposite Boris Karloff as the monster) as Edward.  Instead of watching the endless All Star Game pre-game show, I watched JE34 instead.

I checked the film out over at IMDb, and there is not a single person in it whose name rings a bell.  Edith Fellows plays “Adèle Rochester” (this makes me wonder just how the film handles her character).  She was in a bunch of films as a child (she was born in 1923), and then had cameos in U.S. television shows in the 80s.

The film is only 62 minutes long, so I’m figuring that most of the original plot will be missing.  Here’s how the Netflix envelope describes the film:

Colin Clive stars in the first all-talking version of Charlotte Brontë’s classic  novel, one of the great romantic melodramas of all time.  Raised in an orphanage and trained as a teacher, Jane Eyre (Virginia Bruce) goes to work as a governess for Edward Rochester (Clive).  Inappropriately, she falls for her handsome employer, little realizing the dark, hidden secrets of his past. When Jane finally faces the truth, it may be too late.

Handsome employer?  Hmm.  This should be interesting, to say the least. On with the show!

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The film opens with John Reed and a sister tormenting Jane.  All three actors are American, and none of them can do a decent English accent, even though they all seem to try very hard.  Granted, classically trained actors of that period spoke with an accent that mimicked an upper-class English accent (think Barrymores), but these are children and they really don’t succeed.  Jane is wearing pettipants that make me think of Little Bo Peep (like these)  and John Reed positively reeks of Little Lord Fauntleroy (except, of course, in his behavior — he’s still a prat).  The film is less than 5 minutes old and Mrs. Reed has already told Jane she’s going to an orphanage.  Young Jane is played by a girl named Jean Darling (who seems to be the only cast member still alive).  She is a lovely little girl with Shirley Temple-type golden corkscrew curls.  The curls are cut off almost immediately at Lowood, but Jane is still quite pretty.  [Ms. Darling was “Jean” in a slew of “Our Gang” shorts, but she did not pursue an acting career as an adult.]

To show the passage of time, we see pages of the novel flipping forward, and all of a sudden we’re at chapter 10, when Jane has been at Lowood for 10 years.  There’s no Helen Burns, and Mr. Brocklehurst is never forced out.  In fact, he’s still at the school when Jane is a teacher, and he fires her for not disciplining her students properly.  When she informs Miss Temple (I think it’s Miss Temple) that she’s leaving, she says she’ll live on the money her uncle left her while she looks for work.  Ohhkayyyyyyy…

We are still less than 10 minutes into the film, and Jane is sitting with a drunk Cockney carriage driver driving through the woods.  She takes over the reins at one point when he’s speeding.  She finally can’t take him anymore and she gets off the carriage and walks away…without her luggage.  I guess it’s because of the time constraints, but Jane and (I’m guessing) Rochester have their meeting in the woods as Jane is heading to Thornfield for the first time.  I didn’t realize just how tall Virginia Bruce is.  She’s just so “un-Jane-like” — she’s very tall and very blonde.  Once Jane arrives at Thornfield, we meet Mrs. Fairfax and Adèle.  The latter is Rochester’s niece, and she’s not French.  She runs into the Cockney carriage driver at Thornfield (he apparently works for Mr. Rochester) and he warns her to lock her door at night.

The interior of Thornfield is light, bright and airy — nothing at all the way one pictures it in the book.  We do get to meet Grace Poole, who is a rather disagreeable woman, and who is, apparently, married to the drunk Cockney.

Jane and Rochester meet for tea that afternoon, and I think she’s taller than he is.  He’s immediately smitten — he keeps staring at her, and she’s a little nervous from his staring.

Nightfall arrives, and Jane hears some screaming.  It sounds as if it’s coming from the next room, but it’s from upstairs, where Adèle tells Jane nobody is allowed to go except for Grace Poole.

Adèle is a big-time klutz.  She gets caught in a tree, she falls and hurts her knee while dancing on the lawn, and then she falls into a gigantic vase…which Jane has to break to rescue her from.  That’s when we meet Blanche Ingram who is, for some reason, called “Lady Blanche.”  For a change, Blanche is a brunette.  And she tells Edward that the governess is very pretty, without a hint of malice.

Rochester wants Jane to attend his party downstairs and, all of a sudden, all of the guests are waltzing, but there’s no orchestra.  And, during the party, Adèle is sitting on Lord Ingram’s lap, making fun of the other guests.  As an aside, Lord Ingram bears an uncanny resemblance to Captain Kangaroo.

After Edward and the guests get back from London, he tucks Adèle into bed, and she tries to convince him to marry Jane.  Edward asks Jane to help him with wedding preparations, and she does so unwillingly.  It feels as if she’s been in the house a week at most, but she’s already in love with him and miserable at the thought of his marrying (Lady) Blanche.  The movie is now 3/4 of the way through, and Jane has asked for a holiday.  No visit to Aunt Reed on her deathbed, just a holiday.  Edward sees her just before she leaves, and he asks her to marry him. She says yes and they snog. Adèle sees them and is very happy.

Edward and Jane are in a drawing room with Mrs. Fairfax and a man who appears to be a minister, discussing the wedding, when all of a sudden a rather odd-looking woman appears.  She calls Edward her husband and says she’s been looking for him for ages.  She looks right at Jane and asks if Jane is going to be a guest at their wedding (hers and Edward’s).  Edward calls her Bertha and a servant leads her away.  He tells Jane that their marriage has been annulled and that he’s free to marry her.

Jane disappears immediately and, all of a sudden, Thornfield is burning.  Next thing we see Jane agreeing to go to India with Dr. John Rivers as his wife.  Sam Poole (Grace’s husband, the drunk Cockney) appears out of nowhere and tells Jane that Thornfield has burned to the ground and that Bertha is dead.  Jane drops what she’s doing and runs back to Thornfield.  Edward refuses to have anything to do with her until she convinces him otherwise.

Finis.

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This was BAD.  I’m not just referring to the fact that next to nothing remains of the original story; it’s just bad in general (the acting, the accents, the weird plot, etc.).  It’s so bad it’s funny.  So, if you want a good giggle, rent this.  If you want Jane Eyre, however, don’t bother.

A jury declared that Casey Anthony was not guilty of killing her little girl.  All she’s supposedly guilty of is lying to the police and, given that those 4 counts are worth only a year in prison each, she will likely go free based on the time she’s already served.

Someone put duct tape on Caylee’s skull.  Someone put chloroform in that car. Someone put Caylee in those bags and put her in the car and then dumped her body in the swamp.

And someone was partying for 31 days after Caylee went missing and wearing a tattoo that translates into “Beautiful Life.”

In my not-so-humble opinion, those “someones” are the same person: Casey Anthony.

Why would Cindy perjure herself if she didn’t think that Casey was guilty?   Why would Casey lie repeatedly to the police if she didn’t have something to hide?  She is a raging narcissist and I cannot imagine she isn’t pleased as punch with herself for getting away with murder.  I hope and pray she never has another child.  God only knows what she’d try to do to that one.

May God bless Caylee Anthony’s soul.

Part I: The Book, cont’d

I finished Jane Eyre a little while back but it took a while for me to process my thoughts.

For the most part, Charlotte Brontë did not like Jane Austen’s novels.  In her letters, she said that Austen’s work was “without sentiment, ” without poetry” and that “she cannot be great.”  Once again, Austen was not a Romantic, but Brontë most definitely was. Some people claim that Austen was the mother of the modern romance novel, but I would argue that Brontë is more closely related to modern romance novels than Austen is.  This post is not intended to compare Austen with Brontë; I am merely trying to explain how I came to some of my conclusions.

I’ve mentioned along the way that I read romance novels.  I am very picky about which ones I read, so I am not as well versed in the genre as I could be.  But modern romance novels are, for the most part, filled with overt passion.  In some books, the characters seem to have nothing but passion in common.  The modern romance novel has sex in it.  Jane Eyre does not contain graphic sex scenes, but it is definitely filled with passion.  It is as obvious that Rochester and Jane burn for each other as it is for any characters in a Stephanie Laurens novel.  These characters are willing to give up everything they have (including their lives) for love — a choice that Austen’s characters never get (except maybe Marianne Dashwood). Personally, while I sincerely love this book, I do find that all of the characters, including Jane and Rochester, are various degrees of “over the top.”  St John Rivers is the opposite of Jane and Rochester — he feels passion but, unlike Jane and Rochester, he fights it and ends up cold and alone.  Jane seems to think he’s noble, but she refuses to marry him because she cannot love him as anything else than a cousin or brother.  Personally, I find him rather pitiable.  He had a chance at true love, but he tossed it away.  True, Rosamund would not likely have been a good missionary’s wife, but shouldn’t he have given her the choice? Instead, he makes the choice for her and allows her to marry someone else.

I like and respect Jane.  She can be rational and tough as nails, but she’s also very passionate and emotional.  She is also intensely moral. Rochester is, I think, somewhat less rational than Jane, and more apt to think with his heart rather than his head.  The whole Bertha situation is indicative of that, I think.  He wants Jane, and he intends to have her. The fact that he’s married doesn’t stop him from trying to get what he wants.  But Jane thinks about the bigger picture.  She thinks about what will happen in the years to come.  She refuses to allow herself to do everything her heart wants her to do. I find her to be very admirable.  I’m not always sure what I think about Rochester.  When I was younger, I found him to be swoon-worthy; now I’m a tad more skeptical and I find him to be somewhat manipulative and overly emotional.

The language is very flowery and reflects the Romantic nature of the book.  I don’t know if I could make a steady diet of this type of writing, but if all the stories are as good as this one, I’d give it my best shot.

Tonight is the second and last installment of the 2011 Subway Series.  The Yankees took 2 of the 3 games up in the Bronx.  This weekend’s games are in Queens.  The last time they played in Queens over 4th of July weekend the Mets swept the series (it was in 2003 — and I was there for all 3 games).  Let us hope that history repeats itself.

The Mets are one game over .500 at the end of the real first half: 41-40.  The Yankees are 48-31, and have the 2nd best record in baseball. The Mets’ record is, however, a little bit misleading.  They got off to a 5-13 start, meaning that they are  36-18 since.  Since their first 18 games (11-7 record), the Yankees’ record is 37-24.  The Yankees have played 3 fewer games than the Mets have (79 vs. 83), and this series may not be as much of a slam dunk for the Yankees as their fans think.  The Mets played the A’s, the Rangers and the Tigers really well.  They did lose 2 of 3 to the Angels, but they should have won the first game and, if former Angel Frankie Rodriguez hadn’t imploded, they would have.

Anyway, for fans out of town, tonight’s game is on MLB Network, tomorrow’s is on Fox for most of the country and Sunday’s game is on TBS.

LET’S GO METS! LET’S GO METS!