ceebeegee: (Default)
So, just how was Flowers in the Attic? Um, not great. But not terrible--but I will admit, I was hoping for much better. They got the atmosphere okay--I liked the claustrophobia of the room and I liked how the attic looked. Chris at least was good looking and could act (sort of), and the twins were cute, and Heather Graham--was a'ight, I thought. She sure looks like Corrine, and she pulls off that vibe of the pretty girl that never had to do anything hard. But I kept getting stuck on Kiernan Sjipka who is just. not. Cathy. She just isn't. You need a girl who is conventionally pretty, and Kiernan Shipka really isn't. Cathy is supposed to look JUST LIKE her mother, and Corrine is the classic gorgeous, rich, WASPy blonde. Also KS's voice is pitched very low for a young girl and it just detracts from the Cathy-look and -feel. Cathy is also a ballet dancer in training (so, she's super-fit with long legs) and she must--MUST--have LONG BLONDE HAIR. She has it when they first enter the house (because her father had always liked her hair) and then they're in there for 3+ years and she says "each of grew lots of hair." Why must the moviemakers always overlook this? This is important not just for her characterization (Cathy's fragile-pretty looks are ironic since she's the strongest and the toughest of the four kids, the only one who stands up to Corrine) but Chris's as well. These characters are not supposed to look ordinary, every day--they're supposed to look like they've stepped out of a fairy tale, because that's the kind of story it is. And that's how they think--Cathy thinks of Chris as the knight who will protect her and save her, and the grandmother is the evil witch.

Also, sorry to say that Ellen Bursten, while a terrific actor, really wasn't playing the grandmother. She was too...how can I say this...kind of messy in her line readings, too...trivial, too openly emotional. The grandmother is a stone cold, absolutely heartless* character. Think Ursa from Superman II--THAT kind of cold. She despises them but she's always, always in control. Ellen looked more annoyed and harried than anything, and it just wasn't right. You need to be able to imagine Corrine growing up with a mother like that so you can understand why she turned out the way she did.

At least the incest hadn't been cut but it was weird--way too romantic, and not rape the way it was in the book. In the book they dance closer and closer to how they feel about each other and they talk about it, in hints. Cathy says "then you do think I'm pretty?" and Chris says yes, "but brothers don't think about sisters as girls." And he kisses her full on the lips when he goes out to explore the house one night, and she thinks "such a peculiar long kiss, to give me the sensation that I was falling down, down, down, when I was already lying down." And he stares at her when she's dancing--it's all very romantic until he explodes and then it's not remotely soft-focus, it's obviously traumatic and violent. And afterward they're horrified at what they've done, they go out onto the roof and stare up at the moon, imagining it to be the eye of God, judging them.

In the Lifetime version they lead up to it fine but instead of him exploding they melt into consensual sex and they even have an AFTERGLOW--which poor Carrie witnesses because she comes in to tell them that Cory is sick! EW!!!! I'm not opposed in principle to changing it from rape since that's a huge TW for a lot of people but it *should* be messed up and weird, NOT romantic. And certainly their baby sister should not have to see them cuddling afterward.

Say NO to the afterglow!

I did like that they had the party. They also showed the Swan Bed but it did not look as I imagined it (wasn't it supposed to be round? I guess round bedding would be difficult to get but hey--THEY'RE FOXWORTHS). I wish they'd explored Cory a bit more--he necessarily gets such short shrift in the series because he dies so soon, but I loved how thoughtful he was and I even loved that he was such a good musican at such a young age. "I wish the night would end/I wish the day'd begin..." Dee-pressing!

Anyway overall I'd say this version was a solid double, as opposed to the 3-called-strikes humiliation of the first movie. And apparently it got good enough ratings that Lifetime is making the sequel, Petals on the Wind! THERE'S a good book, so much plot you need a concordance! And great characters like Julian and Bart Winslow and Yolands. (Although Dr. Paul was gross.)

We lived in the attic
Christopher, Cory, Carrie and me
Now there are only three

*Or is she? There are a couple of hints in FITA that Olivia has some interesting layers and is not completely heartless, and then her character is explored in great depth in Garden of Shadows.
ceebeegee: (Helen of Troy)
So last night I was working out and put on Lifetime on the TV (Pretty Woman was playing). And while I was there I was LUCKY enough to see several airings of the latest trailer for the Lifetime adaptation of Flowers in the Attic, which is airing next month (YAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYY). I hung out with Lori last week and we discussed this AT LENGTH--I am a huge fan of the series and know this book pretty much by heart. It is one of my treasured guilty pleasures from my teens and college years. For those who have never read it, it's about a beautiful family called the Dollangangers who go to live with the mother's parents in Virginia when the father dies. When they get there the mother, Corrine, tells the kids (a son of 14, Christopher, a daughter of 12, Cathy, and twins Cory and Carrie who are 5) that they will have to be hidden "for a little while" up in the attic until they break the news to the grandfather that the prodigal daughter has returned (she eloped with her now-dead husband who was in fact her half-uncle). The "little while" stretches on and on into years--and meanwhile the grandmother, who hates the children as products of an incestuous marriage, is violently abusive. She whips them, she puts tar into Cathy's hair as punishment for what she deems vanity, she starves them. Eventually it becomes clear that Corrine just doesn't care about them anymore, certainly not in comparison to the enormous inheritance that awaits her if she can win back her father, and they start to plan an escape. All this while Chris and Cathy are growing up, entering puberty, and the only person of the opposite sex they see is each other...

The book is usually dismissed as teenage trash, and sometimes compared to Twilight. Look, I love me some Twilight but FitA is far, FAR superior. For one thing there is actual character development--Corrine, Cathy and Chris change and grow (or devolve in Corrine's case) very much throughout the book. Chris and Cathy are scarred and changed by the end of the book--in fact Cathy reenacts the events in the attic, relives these issues again and again throughout the rest of the series. [SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN'T READ IT: The grandmother starts poisoning them with donuts--Cory, the sickly one, ends up dying [Corrine and the grandmother's callousness is truly horrific in this scene] and Chris rapes Cathy but she forgives him. The three left alive escape at the end of the book after finding out the grandfather has been dead for a long time--therefore there was no need to keep them locked up other than to protect Corrine's inheritance.] Chris is in some ways even harder hit because he truly cannot love anyone else after they leave the attic--Cathy is the ONLY one he can love. Similarly Carrie is terribly scarred and ends up killing herself with a bite from a poisoned donut, so she can die the same way her beloved twin did. There is a tragic quality to the saga that is ignored I think because of its core audience (teenage girls) and because the narrative voice is so girly and colloquial. It's also fascinating to read how carefully Andrews charts Chris and Cathy's growing attraction to each other--it is very, very subtly done. At first they are play-parents to the twins and he is her knight in shining armor. And very, very gradually he starts to notice her and she him--because there is no one else. There's a scene after they are both whipped--Cathy passes out from the pain and she wakes up in his arms. They cuddle together and he caresses her, starts to kiss her and she stops him.

That night I went to sleep after thinking of his kiss, and not the whipping or the blows from the brush. Swelling up in both of us was a turmoil of whirling emotions. Something sleeping deep inside of me had awakened, quickened, just as Aurora until the Prince came to put on her quiet lips a long lover's kiss.

That was the way of all fairy tales--ending with the kiss, and the happy-ever-after. There had to be some other prince for me to bring about a happy ending.

I was telling Lori how my sophomore year in college we had an extended period of snow--we even had a snow day which was rare for that area. So I was stuck inside quite a bit and feeling *extremely* claustrophobic. Sweet Briar, my alma mater, is in a rural section of Virginia (LIKE FOXWORTH HALL), in the piedmont area, and there is a train nearby which I used to hear at night (LIKE CHRIS AND CATHY USED TO HEAR). One day I was so sick of snow and ice that I drew flowers--roses and tulips and so forth--onto paper and then outlined them with colored yarn and put that up on my dorm walls (JUST LIKE HOW CHRIS, CATHY AND THE TWINS DECORATED THEIR ATTIC WITH PAPER FLOWERS). It hit me--I'm in Virginia, in the country, there's a train nearby, I HAVE LONG BLONDE HAIR AND MY NAME BEGINS WITH C OH MY GOOOOOODDDDDDDDD....So yeah, I had a great affection for Catherine and her messed-up story.

Here is an hilarious take on my beloved book:

He Ain't Sexy, He's My Brother

Okay, back to Lifetime. Now by and large I am happy with the casting--Heather Graham seems dead-on for Corrine, Ellen Burstyn is gonna knock it out of the park as the grandmother and the kid who's playing Chris looks good as well. I am a little concerned about Kiernan Shipka as Cathy though. Shipka, while a fine young actor, is a *character* actor--at least that's how she comes off to me. You need a young leading lady type for Cathy--you need that grace and coltish elegance because she is very much a younger version of her mother (this point is made many times in the book). Think young Natalie Portman (but blonde of course). Or Amanda Seyfried, if she can pull of the fiestiness (Cathy is the only one of the four who calls Corrine on her shit, Chris is far too busy working out his Oedipus complex).

And it is ESSENTIAL that Cathy have LONG BLONDE HAIR--Chris loves her hair, and when the grandmother puts tar on it, he slaves for a day to get the tar off. That's part of how they become closer! And later on they have a conversation about her hair, about how beautiful it is, how he thinks she might have on her head the most beautiful hair in the world--it's as much a character in the book as Janie's in Their Eyes Were Watching God! The four siblings look exactly alike, perfect, fair and blonde--like Dresden dolls, as they're called by the neighbors (and of course the fact that they're inbred contributes to that).

And there's a scene where Cathy sneaks into their mother's bedroom to steal money for their escape and stumbles upon their new stepfather who is dozing. She gazes upon him and then kisses him--and it transpires later that he was only half-asleep, remembered the kiss and thought he was dreaming. [And if you're going to stay faithful to the book you *have* to have this scene as it leads directly to Chris flipping out from jealousy and raping Cathy.] The stepfather remembers her as a kind of princess, looking longingly at him and from the footage I've seen, Shipka has short, light brown hair. She's adorable as Sally in Mad Men but I don't see her as Cathy--YET. I will absolutely keep an open mind because I really want this version to be great. [We're all still recovering from the 1987 debacle--that movie was so terrible, I literally forgot about huge chunks of it after seeing it. Oh GOD was it terrible.]
ceebeegee: (Rocky Horror)
So we had two performances--our first two in front of any kind of an audience--on Saturday at the cemetery and they went VERY very well.  I got there bright and early, ready to help set stuff up and dressed for the chilly October day in loose jeans and a sweatshirt.  I took the cast through a very rough "this is where this entrance will take place and we're not using these props" kind of thing about two hours before we went up.  The idea was full costumes and makeup but few props or set pieces.

The first performance was cold--I had to wear gloves a few times.  Bob had provided most of us with these Michael-Jackson-looking jackets that helped a bit.  We had an honored guest--the sister of a guy named Sal Piro, who was a big participant in the early shadow casts of Rocky, back in the '70s, and who is the current president of the RHPS fan club.  His sister was there at the show because their parents were actually buried at the cemetery, very coincidentally.  Eileen, the woman who is in charge of the cemetery and its restoration, was kind of slopping all over us ("you guise are SO GREAT, thank you SO MUCH, you're all so talented..."--she interrupted me in the middle of an Address to the Troops to say this and I think my expression must have been forbidding because she quickly backed off).  Before the show she introduced the sister to the audience only it was more of an homily--she talked for something like 5 minutes as we shivered backstage, waiting to START THE SHOW.  Like, wrap it up already.  But the show went fine--I was very proud of my ducklings because cold can be incredibly debilitating and after the first show my feet were like blocks of ice.  But they all dealt with it like troupers, no complaining at all. Right after we went down I grabbed my clothes and ran to the house on the grounds where we all huddled and chattered and warmed up.  Eileen had ordered pizza for us--it was kind of gross (why are so many local pizzerias in the northeast so terrible?  It's not that hard to make a good pizza!  If I can do it, you can, just use good cheese and add some olive oil (and don't cut the tomato sauce with sugar)) so I only had half of one piece.  But it was fun hanging out with the cast--Stephen wanted to know how to analyze poetry so I talked with him at length about various poetic techniques.  Then later Christine and I talked about my favorite old school romance novelists--she's read a lot of Jude Deveraux (we both agree--not bad but her writing is so embarrassingly childish and simplistic) but NO Rosemary Rogers!  I was shocked--gurrl, Rogers invented the industry!  I told her she HAD to read Sweet Savage Love.  I also recommended Jennifer Blake, perhaps my favorite.

 The second show went even better--even though the sun had gone down, we had lights and they actually warmed us up quite well.  For both shows, of course, I had to "air" tap since we were performing on top of turf, on top of concrete.  Both audiences loved us and were quite enthusiastic although very quiet (i.e., not that many shoutouts).  Still, lots of fun and both shows were clean and high-energy.  Can't ask for more than that!  We dragged ourself off and I went home and crashed.  And slept until 2:00 the next day!  Sunday was very relaxing--I had a Dolphman soccer game at 6:15 and then the game after us needed female players so I played two games!  At the bar afterward my team was talking about how they're coming to see Rocky next week--yay!

Eileen friended me on Facebook and I kid you not, she has been posting CONSTANTLY about the show, sending direct messages to all the cast members, everyone involved, posting every day about how "compliments are STILL coming in..."  She seems a little...off, somehow, like she might be bipolar or something, she just seems a little manic with her constant expressions of gratitude.  Frankly I would've just preferred some decent pizza!
ceebeegee: (Default)
I've rediscovered a couple of old buddies--the Hardy Boys. I read a recent biography of Leslie McFarlane (the original ghost writer of the Hardy Boys series, hired by the Stratmeyer Syndicate to write the first 20 or so titles)--the bio itself was not that great (although well-written) but it got me to thinking again about the series, which I DEVOURED in 4th and 5th grades. A little bit in 6th grade as well. I also loved the Bobbsey Twins and I read a little Nancy Drew but my big thing was the Hardy Boys--I read every one of the original titles published by Grosset and Dunlop, and I still have many of them. Two brothers, a year apart (either 15 & 16 or 17 & 18, depending on which version). Frank was the older and had brown hair and brown eyes, and was more serious; Joe was the younger, with blue eyes and blond hair, and more impulsive. Man, now I want to go home and reread them all! I made my friends play Hardy Boys with me, and I usually insisted on being Joe. AND I wrote fanfiction--the very first I ever wrote, and sadly I do not have it. (I have almost everything I ever wrote, but not The Hardy Twins. See, this is why I'm so hard on fanfiction, I know how bad it really is--FROM EXPERIENCE.) Quite coincidentally I had a huge crush on Shaun Cassidy, and when I found out that Shaun was going to play my hero in a TV version of the books!--you can imagine my reaction. I LOVED that show. I've been catching some of the episodes on YouTube and it actually stands up quite well! Creaky '70s sets and haircuts aside, what matters most is the relationship between the two brothers, and Shaun Cassidy and Parker Stevenson are adorable together. My favorite episode was called "Sole Survivor"--Joe wakes up in a Hong Kong hospital and is told that he's been in a coma for a year and his brother and father (Fenton Hardy, who used to work for the NYPD!) were killed. Shaun acts the shit out of this, no, I am not kidding. (His mother IS an Academy Award winner after all; he's got good acting genes.) Lots of misty-water-colored flashbacks about his brother. They're just so cute together, great chemistry. Of course it turns out not to be true--he's been in the hospital for a week. the first clue should've been your hair, Joe--even with that incredibly long '70s hair, you would've noticed if it had been a foot longer!

As bare-bones as the prose was, the books were not completely devoid of literary merit--I actually learned some interesting things when I read them. For instance The Clue of the Broken Blade taught me the three different kinds of fencing blades--foil, épée and sabre. And The Clue of the Hissing Serpent taught me the Persian phrase "Shāh Māt" meaning "the King is captured" and also how hard jade is. In The Crisscross Shadow I learned about lacrosse and how it was an old Indian game, and in The Witchmaster's Key the London Blitz was referenced, so I looked that up. Very educational! :)


Apr. 27th, 2012 04:58 pm
ceebeegee: (coach)
To Rachel (whom I know loves her) and Paula and everybody:

What. The. Fuck?  Noooooooo!  There's a BJ store near where I did my kid's show on the Upper East Side and I used to splurge on one of her pretty little sweaters every spring--the yellow polka-dotted sweater I wore to Rachel's shebang a few years ago was hers.  Nooooo!  I love her stuff!

I have to get a fashion icon.  Well, my Coach icon will do for now.

Read The Hunger Games this week--wicked!  Great story, great execution.  Although I didn't forsee how it would end--I thought something else would happen.  And does anyone else totally get a Slytherin vibe from the Careers?  Katniss is obviously a Gryffindor (fire, chivalrous) and Peeta is a Hufflepuff.  The boy from District 3 who's good with explosives is a Ravenclaw.  I'm going to try to catch the movie this weekend.

I saw Titanic 3-D.  The 3-D is *excellent,* well worth the extra $.  The scene on the water in the aftermath, when they're waiting for the lifeboats to come back, is especially great with the effects--you really feel as though you're there.  Still think Cal has hottter chemistry with Rose, although I believed Rose and Jack as a couple a little bit more.  Mainly because they're both such good actors.  It's kind of...awful, BTW, that Rose lets her mother think she's dead.  I can see why she felt she had to do it, because it's the only way she could have her life, but still...her mother isn't THAT bad, she's just stuck in a terrible situation and sincerely believes that's the only way out, and frankly she's not a horrible mother for thinking that way.  Most mothers would've done the same thing, especially since I doubt Cal shows his abusive side around the mother.  I hope at some point Rose wrote her a postcard or something, letting her know she lived.

But oh my Lord, you have to feel for the actors who play Jack's friends.  At least the Irish guy gets to be snarky--the Italian guy just has the absolute SUCKIEST lines.  "I-uh see the statue-uh of Liberty!"  All he's missing is a pizza in his hands as he dances around singing Abbondanza!

I REALLY want that beautiful green comb that Rose wears.  (Not that it would stay in my stick-straight hair!  But it's so beautiful...)

HATE the obnoxious guy with the beard--his part is just soooo terribly written and he is terrible in the role.  Yes, people like that exist, insensitive people, treasure hunters, etc. but really, after his "fine forensic analysis" NO ONE said anything reprovingly to him?  No one shot him a "hey jerk, STFU, this actually happened to her, it's not 'cool'" look?  Cameron's script TRIES TOO HARD.  The bad guys are too obviously bad and the good...well, Rose and Jack are pretty nuanced but the steerage passengers are all grimily noble.

People need to shut it about the damn door.  There was room but no bouyancy--it wouldn't have held both of them, that's established that when they both try to climb on and it flips over.

I loooove that scene, that endless delineation, when she is dying and hears the lifeboat.  She hears it--and I love how it's muted and changed because she is that close to death.  Slowly, slowly she realizes, and there's that heart-breaking moment where she doesn't get it, that Jack is now dead.  And when did that happen?  Surely he was dying when he told her not to give up.  She finally realizes and then it seems she gives up--she's just going to lie there and give in to despair and go with him.  But then, no--slowly, she forces herself to keep her promise.  It's a great sequence--something about that process, that here's where she makes that decision, here's where it could go either way, is fascinating to me.

Still love that ending.
ceebeegee: (Eloise in mirror)

It seems that Tina Fey's Bossypants and Ayn Rand are very popular. And I noticed one kid was reading That Was Then, This Is Now--deeeeepressing book. S.E. Hinton was pretty damn good for a teenage writer.

I clicked several pages, wondering if my recent bout with Larry McDonald's A Colossal Failure of Common Sense (finally finished it) would show up but alas, no. I'm wading back into Ulysses, maybe that'll impress them.
ceebeegee: (Columbia)
So, as I said in my last entry, I had an interesting meeting with my professor a few weeks ago. I wanted to touch base with him, mainly, on my paper (at that point I was worried I wouldn't have enough material in the Annales Gendanses text to flesh out my analysis on the Battle of the Golden Spurs), but also on a few other issues. I started out by telling him first off, I love the class and I want to apologize for always blurting out the answer. He started to laugh and said, holding up his fingers close together, just give the rest of the class a beat before you jump in. I said it's a function of several things--1) I'm an actor, and hence a show off. 2) I'm an athlete, so I hate being beaten to the answer. And 3) this is my thing*, this is medieval history, my big interest. He then asked me--what are you doing here at Columbia? I said do you mean what else am I taking this semester, or in the larger sense? He said--well, you're clearly extremely bright, very capable, and you read the texts very carefully. And you're in a non-degree program. I said well, I'm part of the Post-baccalaureate Studies Program. I want to get my master's in history but I majored in English and music, and had never actually taken a history class before I started here, although I'd certainly read a lot of history on my own. So this is part of putting together a competitive application, to get some history credits. He said to me--save your money. You're certainly capable of doing the work--you should have no difficulty getting into a good program, either here or somewhere else. All you need are your GREs and a recommendation, which I'm happy to write for you. I said--but Columbia doesn't really have a master's in history--it's part of a Ph.D. track-program. He said no, but they offer a master's in medieval/Renaissance studies. My eyes got big. First of all, that he's looked up my record (knew that I am currently in a non-degree program); second, that he's, like, strategizing for me!

So--food for thought. I have not pre-registered yet for the fall because I need to think this summer about this application--if I want to commit to it, to apply for the fall of 2012. I'd been thinking about taking off the semester anyway just to give my savings a break. I also have to talk to the PTB and make sure I can go part-time (less than that, really, one class at a time)--although for an actual master's, I would be more comfortable with actually getting a loan instead of just paying out my savings. It wouldn't be that much, since a humanities master's only takes about a year (full-time). And think about taking the GREs--again. I took them back when I was a college senior--I did well on them (high 600s-low 700s--I got like 720 on the logic section) but that was awhile ago.

And besides Kosto, I have no doubt that Professors Kaye (Intellectual Medieval Life) and Maiuro (Roman History) would also write me recommendations. Maiuro and I got along like a house afire, and everytime I see Kaye he asks me when I'm going to take another class of his.

*At one point I noticed he had a book by Norman Cantor on my shelves--I interrupted myself and said oh, I love him! I have several books of his, including Inventing the Middle Ages, Medieval Lives and In the Wake of the Plague. I'm so easily distracted--oooh, pretty shiny!

My paper

Apr. 28th, 2011 04:57 pm
ceebeegee: (Virginia)
After the thorough defeat of the English at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, early medieval observers could be forgiven if they believed they had witnessed the demise of the infantry. Harold’s tight column of foot soldiers had ultimately proven no match for the mobility, speed, and sheer force of weight displayed by William the Conqueror’s Norman cavalry, and the 11th century nascent warrior society, which William exemplified perfectly, took notice. And so, encouraged by William of Poitiers’s panegyric portrait of the Conqueror leading his troops on horseback to overwhelming victory and the vivid, dashing imagery of the Bayeux Tapestry, the cult of Chaucer’s “verray, parfit, gentil knyght,” the elite mounted warrior guided by a moral and social code, emerged in the generations following Hastings, inspiring poet and historian, king and soldier. For over 200 years the cavalry’s invincibility in medieval warfare and the mystical righteousness of the knight were held as an article of faith—until the Battle of the Golden Spurs at Courtrai in 1302 proved the infantry was far from obsolete, and that the highly trained warrior caste could in fact be brought low by its presumed inferiors....

Whew. Banged out most of this Monday night but did some Tuesday night and Wednesday as well. This was actually kind of interesting because I used the Bayeux Tapestry as a source, and "quoted" sections of it in the paper, c&p-ing it into the body of the paper.

Even the etymology of Poitiers’s original text binds soldier to horse—William’s sobriquet of “redoubtable mounted warrior” reads as “terribilem equitem” in Latin. Appropriately the Norman horses share in their masters’ triumph: we read “[e]ven the hooves of the horses inflicted punishment on the dead as they galloped over their bodies” and the final image in the Tapestry shows William’s cavalry pursuing the fleeing English.

And my conclusion:

...[L]ater on we read “[m]ore than a thousand simple knights…fell there, and more than three thousand splendid chargers and valuable horses were stabbed during the battle.” These horses are not just valuable but splendid—the bewilderment of the anonymous Annales chronicler at this disaster is manifest and there is an elegiac quality to these passages, as though medieval chivalry itself were dying. Generations of cavaliers, nurtured on tales of the Conqueror and inspired by the imagery of the Tapestry, are now betrayed by their faith in the assumed superiority of the mounted warrior. But perhaps the knights themselves betrayed the code of chivalry—perhaps, as the cult of medieval knighthood developed and armor grew heavier, they took for granted their own invulnerability, and trusted that a cavalry charge and elite status were proof enough against the rabble. Courtrai would challenge such comfortable assumptions—and as a final insult to knightly and aristocratic privilege, we are told that “[d]uring the battle many [infantry]…who previously little thought that such a thing could happen to them, were knighted.”

I think you can tell I'm a Southerner from this passage! There is an echo of Rhett and Ashley's wistfulness for gallantry and the old days in this writing, now that I think of it, especially when Ashley looks at Scarlett and admires her gallantry (in the book, it's when she's making the dress out of the curtains). And the Southerners were crazy for medieval chivalry, they loved Sir Walter Scott.

DONE. Now, on to finals. And softball.
ceebeegee: (Default)
Weather is kicking my ass lately. So, so sick of all this disgusting cold and rain. All I wanted to do this morning was stay in bed with Tatia draping herself across the pillow.

We have a paper due in three weeks and the professor asks that we submit our sources in advance--citations were due today. He also wants us to have the BOOK in hand as we write the paper, just so we don't get taken by surprise and find out there's not enough material for our paper. So last night I'm putting together my sources and looking up the books on the Columbia online library catalogue. Of course my network at work has all sorts of firewalls, and just generally not all the software is up to date, so since I have to stop by the campus anyway to get the books, I'll look them up there. Leave work and it's freezing--so I decide to go home first to change, feed cats, etc. I look up the books there--and as it turns out, one of the books I need isn't at Butler, the main library--it's at the library at Union Theological Seminary, the campus of which is affiliated with and adjacent to Columbia. So not too far away but--eep!--it closes an hour earlier, at 10 pm. I get there by 9:30--but they've started to close the stacks. But since I had the call number in hand, they let me sneak in, grab my book, and be done. So nice! The source I need from that library was a translation of William of Poitiers's Gesta Guillelmi, about William the Conqueror--my paper will be about the role of the cavalry (and its implications for chivalry) in the Battles of Hastings (i.e., the 1066 Norman Invasion) and the Battle of the Golden Spurs. Oh, and I'm also using the Bayeux Tapestry as a source!

I really liked the UTS campus--it's built a bit like a combination of an English manor house, long hallways and such, and a high medieval castle, with vaulted ceiling and doorways. Very, very cozy walking down that long hallway to get to the library, which is preceded by a really beautiful Rotunda. I wonder if they offer undergrad courses at UTS? It would be so nice, so peaceful, going there for class--maybe a class in medieval theology?

After that I walked back up to the main campus to Butler Library, slipped into the stacks and grabbed my other source. To get to the stacks, you walk into Butler, walk up the main staircase, go around the circulation desk and through a door to a tiny internal staircase. The stacks...ahhhhhh. It's like entering another world. So peaceful and quiet, and the smell of all those old, old books. It makes me think of my childhood, reading my cousin's old copies of the Thornton W. Burgess Old Mother West Wind books. I got my source quickly (Annales Gendanses, a Flemish annal--I'm using it as my source for the Battle of the Golden Spurs, which was Flemish versus French). I would've loved to have just...stayed there. Stayed there draped over a table, bent over a book, occasionally rising to get some other fragile book about some old, old battle. Old unhappy far-off things/and battles long ago... Libraries are like church to me.


Jan. 3rd, 2011 06:20 pm
ceebeegee: (Columbia)
Last week I ordered most of my books for this semester--we have quite a few (like 6-7). Many of them arrived today, including A Knight's Own Book of Chivalry, Medieval Warfare: A History, What Were the Crusades? and Froissart's Chronicles. We also have the Penguin edition of Henry V on the list--I'm going to ask the professor if he can distribute the critical essays in .pdf format or something, since I already have at least two copies of Hank the Cinq. But--DROOL. The book on the Crusades looks delicious--I'm going to be even more of an Hermione and read it before class, as well as a few of the others.

Amazon has started a new program--Amazon Student. You give them your .edu email address, they verify that you're a student, and then for a year you can try out all the benefits of Amazon Prime (which for my purposes means faster shipping). Class doesn't start for another couple of weeks so I didn't really need the books that quickly but it's nice to have anyway.
ceebeegee: (Columbia)

I got an A on my 2nd paper!  I was absolutely thrilled--because for a number of reasons, I wasn't sure how good that paper was.  I wasn't really feeling the material as much and kept changing my mind on which topic I would write (he gave us a choice of three).  Also, I got an A- (not a full A) on the first paper which made me unhappy, and frankly I connected with Eloise and Abelard much more, and wasn't sure if I agreed with his reasons for the minus.  Someone suggested I should contest it but I detest grade grubbing and would only do that if I truly felt wronged.  I just have to figure out how to get the A without compromising what I really want to say.

Anyway, this second paper was quite taxing, I pretty much SWEATED it out.  The papers all have to be between 4-6 pages and it is easy for me to skate right up to the edge of 6 pages, I can wax quite eloquent!  I was kind of feeling my way through this one--the topic on which I finally settled was to explore the scientific elements of Bernardus Sylvestris's Cosmographia, and then compare them to Roger Bacon's scientific writings.  The former is an allegory about the creation of the universe divided into two parts--"Macrocosmos" and "Microcosmos" (which deals with the creation of man and explicitly positions man as the mirror-image of the universe).  As a piece of literature it's a little...overwrought, with long incomprehensible passages about Sylva and Noys and Hyle and the swirling darkness and I don't know whatall.  (It's a little easier to "get" when you compare it to the Great Clearances of the early Middle Ages, with man taming the darkness of the forests by leveling them.  Order out of chaos was a big thing at this time.)  But when you start reading Cosmographia as proto-science, it's pretty interesting, lots of descriptions about the four elements and their properties, and noticing patterns in the universe.  In the introduction, I wrote:  In a way, Cosmographia could be seen as the macro-Hamlet, its message “What a piece of work is the universe.” 

I plowed through the discussion of its scientific elements, then Man (The First Scientist?  As I wrote Man is then both outside observer and integral participant, scientist and high priest. Science is in fact the seat and justification of man’s authority…  ), then moved on to Roger Bacon, whose Opus Majus was much more explicitly scientific in purpose, format and tone.  Blah blah blah about scientific elements, comparisons, etc. etc.  Then I'm at the ending (having SWEATED this out, this paper really did make me work) and I write: In fact one might even see in Opus Majus—or in Bacon himself—the realization of Cosmographia’s “ruler and high priest of creation”: Surveyor, Perceiver and Thinker, the one cosmos governing the other, exercising the “gift of reason” and in doing so, fulfilling the promise of Science.  I'm all pleased with that, it wraps it up.  I am barely under 6 pages at this point.  I reread the paper, trying to see it with a fresh pair of eyes, and I pick up on the Hamlet reference again and it hits me:  I add to the end of the paper, right after the last sentence, what a piece of work is man.  This is now literally at the utmost limit of 6 pages.  Then it occurs to me--I think the line is what a piece of work is a man, I was remembering the song in Hair (which of course references both Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet both explicitly and thematically, and there's a song that goes What a piece of work is man/How noble in reason/In form and movement, how express and admirable).  I google it to make sure of the correct, Shakespearean phrasing, then I go back and add one letter and a space to the quotation.  BAM!  That takes me over onto 7 pages.  Arrrgh!  At this point I've already resorted to widening the margins to give me more room, so I'm reduced to--get this--reducing the font size between paragraphs juuuuust enough to get that down to 6 pages again.  Is that pathetic or what?  I told Anya, and she said "oh man, normally it's the other way around, you're trying to pad it to make it longer."  I said "I know!  I know all those tricks too!"

So anyway, wasn't quite sure how good it was.  Today, on my way to class, I took a bad fall on the scooter, really slammed my left side and was actually kind of stunned when I picked myself up.  I got to class and was in a bit of a daze and the professor was talking about de Meun's
Roman de la Rose, and how boundary-challenging it was, and he was saying "there's a word, for that--oh, what is the word for something that's trying to push the boundaries?"  I burted out "transgressive?"  He said "YES!  That's it, thank you."  Hermione is back :)  He was talking about the scientific writings and saying that one of the students had complained about them, saying s/he didn't really like them, and he said that every year someone questions them, and he doesn't have to include them, he could include instead political writings or theology, and why does he include them?  He then said that this batch of papers was the best on the science writings that he'd ever had in all the time he's taught the class.  He said "not everyone but most of them were extremely good."  But I thought "you don't know, maybe yours was one of the few not-so-good."  He hands them out at the end of class, I scuttle back to the subway platform and thought "well, let's have the bad news."  BAM!  A!  A full A.  The difference between an A- and an A is so small, but so significant!

Back to class again--we were talking about the Roman, and he asked for thoughts--I said I thought it was kind of devolutionary, that the professor had said earlier in the term that one of the geniuses of this culture was that they were able to transform all this aggressive, militaristic, rapacious energy and channel it into the interactions of courtly love, which rewarded gentlessness and restraint--and here is de Meun upending all of that and mocking it.  He nodded vigorously.  Going further (I didn't say this in class, this is occurring to me now), perhaps it is because the clerical culture that received the Roman so well were far enough removed from the chaos of the Dark Ages that they took the relative peace for granted and thought the whole courtly love thing was just soooooo played out.  I dunno though, the 13th century wasn't THAT peaceful.  Not quite the complete balls-up trainwreck that was the 14th century, but still, they had a few Crusades going on yet).  Anyway I also mentioned that I saw a comparison to the works of Neil LaBute (Roman de la Rose is pretty explicitly misogynistic under the guise of satire, so much so that de Meun basically inspired the birth of what we would now call feminism, although they referred to it as la querelle de la Rose--BTW, please note that the paper to which I just linked from by a Sweet Briar student!)  I said that LaBute has a complicated reputation, that he is seen as pretty misogynistic and I wasn't sure if I agreed, because portraying misogyny is not the same thing as endorsing it, but he too (like de Meun) is criticized as taking the satire, the "hook," too far.  You could hear the minds of 3/4 of the class, who've never heard of LaBute, checking out but the professor really liked this.

Oh, and in other news--the woman for whom I work on Mondays and Thursdays had me go to Barnes and Noble yesterday to get some Christmas gifts, and she told me to get one for myself, so I got a book I've been eyeing longingly for awhile, The Little Ice Age, by Brian Fagan.  YUM.  Glaciers swallowing Swiss towns whole and torrential rainpours leading to had harvests and famine--sign me up.
ceebeegee: (Crescent Moon)
 Oh, on the way back I watched the Sex and the City sequel.  I don't get at all the clutching of pearls over how terrible this movie supposedly was.  It's a comedy, guys.  Yes, it's over the top.  Yes, there are lame puns.  Did any of the reviewers ever even watch the show?  At its heart the movie is about being a woman--working, mothering, partnering--and more importantly, female friendship.  I mean, some of these reviews are...unbelievable.  Really, openly misogynistic--the Salon review actually muses that it would be "kinder" for SJP et al. to be "shot in the head or skinned alive by Arkansas rednecks," complete with a graphic of SJP being stabbed.  The posters responding to the reviews just slamming, savaging the appearances of these women.  They're not just "ugly," they're an offense to human eyesight everywhere.  They're all too old, too hideous.  One poster actually quoted her 15 year old son saying "false advertising--not in the city and not sexy."  (Oh, well, if some 15 year old BOY doesn't think four women 40 years and old and over isn't sexy, hand me the razor blades now!)  They're "degenerate," "bitches" (they're called this a lot), "desperate," "frantic." Another poster "forsees" a murder-suicide pact between SJP & Matthew Broderick.  Really pretty creepy.  Disturbing.  I see some of this over-the-top hatred for the Twilight series as well--(I'm not talking legit criticism--I am the last person to defend Twilight's actual literary merit--they're not well-written, but they are FUN.  I'm talking about non-stop ranting).  If you don't like it, DON'T WATCH IT.  See how easy that is?  Do you think spend my time watching and trashing Transformers or whatever fanboy franchise there is out there?  I could care less what someone else watches, if it's just mindless fun--which both Twilight and SATC are.  Oh, but wait, there's another element in here--as one poster on Salon put it:

And for many of the commenters here, piss off, you sexist, misogynistic pricks who can't stand that after 60 plus years of television there's FINALLY a show in which you are NOT the center of attention.

And that is really the crux of the overreaction to Twilight and SATC, IMO.

ceebeegee: (Harry Potter)
So, I saw Part One last night.  Yesterday was crazy-busy, insanely scheduled--work 9-5, more work 5-7, only I left early for the show.  Rush to get to the show, rush around like crazy because the shirt and pants of my costume were missing so I had to wear the pants I work to work (brown matchstick cords, they went pretty well with my riding boots) and Duncan's shirt, which is already huge on HIM!  Tim was at the show last night so he was able to give me a ride back into the city.  I'd already bought my tickets online so in theory I should've just been able to pick them up at one of the machines but they were not working correctly--none of them, I tried four.  Very frustrating, pretty much negating the whole point of those machines in the first place, since I had to get in line to get the ticket.

So--Here There Be Spoilers )

So overall I loved it but will be going back soon to catch it again, hopefully with a better audience!  I just couldn't immerse myself the way I wanted to.


Sep. 16th, 2010 06:00 pm
ceebeegee: (Family)
So, Rachel's post reminded me that I haven't yet posted this news on LJ--my middlest brother, Erik, and his wife are now the proud parents of twins!  YAAAAAAAAY!  Twins!  A girl and a boy, Erik, Jr. and Emily.  So, so, so flipping adorable!  It's all kinds of perfect because Erik and I are the two siblings who are closest in age, only 18 months apart, and we used to pass ourselves off as twins all the time.  The hilarious thing is, we're not even blood related--Erik is adopted--but we both had blonde hair, freckles and blue eyes, and people bought it.  (Until they found out we were two grades apart, then we just blithely said "oh, he was held back and I skipped a grade." Heh.)  Even now Erik will teasingly call me his "twin," you'll see this on FB sometimes.  Even better, when we were kids I LOVED the Bobbsey Twins books--I read all of them, the original editions and the rewrites--and we used to play Bobbsey Twins all the time.  I loved that both sets of Bobbsey Twins were boy and girl, like a perfect little matched set, and within both sets each one looked like the other. Bert and Nan had straight brown hair and brown eyes, and the younger set, Freddie and Flossie, had curly blonde hair and blue eyes.  Something for everyone!  I just loved the matchiness of it.  So I am loving that my niece and nephew have alliterative names, and they'd BETTER look alike!

So, it's been a little scary so far--they've had some problems with the babies--but it looks as though everything is coming together and they're going to be fine. I'm so happy for them both.
ceebeegee: (Columbia)
I registered for class yesterday. "Medieval Intellectual Life 1050-1400," here I come! We get to study Eloise and Abelard (which I read back in undergrad), Dante's Comedy (excellent, I can whip out my pictures of the Lago d'Averno in Campagnia) and The Book of the City of Ladies. Never read that but that's what I'm here for. This class should be much easier than Roman History, which covered so much--1200 years of history, no less. This is more like people sitting around and thinking deep thoughts and shit.

I found all the books on Amazon for muuuuch less than the publisher's list price. Ehhhxcellent *steeples fingers* And the class is on the Barnard campus! I always feel so cozy when I'm over there, like, aww, you guys, I went to a Seven Sisters school too! Women's college love!

I really am excited, can you tell? :)
ceebeegee: (Default)

So, among other things, I'm reading Seymour Hersh's The Dark Side of Camelot right now.  Can someone tell me, did JFK run over Hersh's dog or something?  It's just so one-sided--unrelentingly muck-raking, one long laundry list of how terrible JFK and all the male Kennedys were.  (On the other hand, he does seem to have a soft spot for Jackie and Marilyn.  It's rather touching.)  Lots of salacious details, lots of anonymous interviews (if you claim to have had a long-term affair with Kennedy and you still refuse to identify yourself after nearly 50 years, it's difficult for me to take you too seriously) and some really shoddy journalism--unsupported conclusions, perfunctory documentary evidence.  It's actually pretty terrible, I find it hard to credit this guy's a Pulitzer winner but he broke the My Lai story so he must have some journalistic skills.  I think that's part of the problem (he's a journalist)--he doesn't really write a good book, there's no arc to the book, even within the chapters.  I'm actually not going to finish it, which is rare for me--I even finished The Daughter of Time and Atlas Shrugged, as dreadful as they both were (hey, at least Atlas Shrugged had some hottt sex scenes ;)

And as fascinating as I find the Kennedys (as I've said before, they remind me greatly of my own family--large, wealthy and lots of teeth), I'm not blind to the faults of any of them.  Jack was a terrible philanderer, a truly entitled man who treated women like props.  My mother and I have discussed it from time to time--she said that my grandmother thought it might have to do with the medication he was on for the Addison's disease, that it made him hyper-sexual.  I'm sure that's part of it, but his disgusting father probably had something to do with it as well.  Joe Kennedy was a remarkable man in many ways, and definitely a better parent than Rose, but he was a P-I-G pig with regards to women--he used to hit on his teenage daughters' friends, UGH!

ANYWAY.  So my point is that even a critical work about the Kennedy family should be interesting--I reread Peter Collier and David Borowitz's The Kennedys every now and then, and Lord knows Hersh's reputation is much better than Borowitz's, who is a total creepy ranter, IMO.  But the book is very interesting.  I think The Kennedys is where I first read the hilarious story about the long-suffering cook/housekeeper/something like that at Hickory Hill, who heard out a long list of Ethel demands and told her flatly "Mrs. Kennedy, you can wish in one hand and shit in the other, and see which one fills up first."  You have to admire that kind of salt of the earth fearlessness.  (Especially toward Ethel, whom I can't stand.  I can't remember who it was who referred to her as "more-Kennedy-than-thou" but it is dead on.)


Jul. 21st, 2010 07:04 pm
ceebeegee: (Ireland)

I've been suffering these bouts of dizziness during or after workouts--have no idea what the problem is.  I do have pretty low blood pressure so I try to compensate by adding salt to my diet but I know I also need to eat more red meat.  Longish week--between shows for Duncan, seeing other people's shows, and cat-sitting for Tesse (and also proctoring), I've been trying not to fall asleep in the middle of the day.  Yesterday killed me, way too much to do.

On a brighter note, more on Operation Dubh Linn (meaning black pool).  A friend of mine lives in Wales not too far from Holyhead so we are making plans to meet--my idea is that I take the ferry there so I can see Wales for a bit, and then maybe she can come back to Dublin with me so she can see Dublin.  There are a couple of ferry companies that ply this route--the regular crossing (on the MV Ulysses) is about 3.5 hours, but they have a faster one (the MV Jonathan Swift) that is under 2 hours!  I'm thinking at least one of those crossings will be on the faster vessel--don't want to give up two precious hours!  And it's not as expensive as I'd feared, only about 30€.

Oooh, I just love planning trips!

I've been reading some more books, including a biography of Alice Roosevelt Longworth, Theodore Roosevelt's oldest daughter.  It's been a little disappointing--it takes some doing to write a dull biography of Alice Roosevelt, a truly unique personality who grew from hoyden to protofeminist to Washington power player, but this is it.  For one thing all the pictures chosen for the book don't show off how how gorgeous she was--"Princess Alice" was a notorious beauty, the quintessential Gibson girl, and the pictures in the book all make her look colorless.  Also the section that deals with her teen years relies perhaps a little too much on quotations from Alice's diaries, with its typically post-Victorian over-effusive prose, the worst example of which is the diary of the Empress Alexandra.  Reading excerpts from Alexandra's diary is like swallowing sugar cubes straight.  At least Alice had a sense of humor about herself--the Tsaritsa was just so EARNEST.  Although I guess her pessimism was justified...

I'm also finishing up Silver's Mississippi: A Closed Society--I came across a gold mine of archival footage today, a web site that gathers togather all sorts of links to various archival sites, so I can watch actual news reels and so forth.  I get such a kick out of watching archival footage--it just seems so historical


Jul. 2nd, 2010 12:54 pm
ceebeegee: (Virginia)

So I'm reading several very interesting books right now.  One is about the Lehman Brothers collapse in '08, called A Colossal Failure of Common Sense.  It is really very dense going so after getting a concentrated lesson on convertible bonds and securitization, I literally have to stop reading for a little while to let it sink in.  But I am following most of it thanks to the book's readibility.  Ghost-written or not, it's still fascinating, although apparently somewhat polarizing among the cogniscenti

Also, via the ever-helpful Columbia library system (A Thing of Beauty), I got my hot little historian hands on a copy of James W. Silver's Mississippi: The Closed Society.  I read this book back in college--Silver was a professor of history at Ole Miss and personally witnessed the riot the night James Meredith (the first black student at Ole Miss) arrived on campus.  He wrote this book in response, a book-length treatment of a speech he made when stepping down from Ole Miss.  And so (like the Michener book below) it's very much of the time, which is fantastic.  When he wrote it, the Civil Rights bill hadn't yet been passed so he didn't yet know how things would turn out.  This is why I love reading contemporary accounts--it's great to read people's thoughtful analysis of what HAS happened, and very useful, but it is genuinely thrilling to read a running account of what IS happening.  Some fascinating, and relevant, analysis of the political insanity and the lengths to which people will go to justify their positions.  Of course we see some of the same thing today, only it's more coded and covert.

It occurs to me that Silver must've been at Ole Miss when Florence King was there, and I think her Master's was in history.  I wonder if she worked with him?

I also bought a great copy of James Michener's Kent State: What Happened and Why on Amazon Marketplace.  Such an excellent book--this is another book I read back in college that sparked my interest in Kent State.  KS is one of those historical incidents that, as shocking as it was, people seem to have closed the door on.  And this was indeed truly shocking--four students were murdered, shot dead during a peaceful protest (and two of them weren't even involved in the protest, they were walking to class).  My theory is that it was so terrible and unexpected, there was a kind of sea change of consciousness--students and activists decided that if that was the potential price for activism, it wasn't worth it.  So terribly sad. I find the opinions posted on Amazon interesting--most people who are still interested in KS tend to be (in my experience) liberal, probably because of what I said above, that KS hasn't been meaningfully addressed in our national history, it is still unresolved.  And a great many Amazon posters see the Michener book is conservative and therefore biased--I'm not sure I agree.  He sure doesn't have much regard for the SDS but the last part of his book is taken up by a kind of "where do we go from here?" manifesto and it is very sympathetic to the counter-culture. He also lists numerous examples of how badly the "other side" (non-hippies, conservatives) acted in the wake of the massacre, spreading all sorts of terrible stories about the dead, and sending "you should've died" cards to the wounded and even saying things like "the score is four/and next time more."  Just unbelievable.  Reading that book radicalized me to some extent (well, as far as Kent State is concerned--radical is always a relative term with me!); I don't see it as particularly conservative.  One thing I'm enjoying is the historically coded language--early on in the book he talks about people who'd appeared in the KS campus, non-students (in the contemporary lingo, outside agitators--no one's son or daughter ever came up with anything bad on their own, it was always blamed on outside agitators).  He describes them, and says something kind of throwaway about how they resembled "those monsters in California."  And that's it.  Of course he was talking about the Manson murderers--that casual reference, which apparently needed no explanation, tells how much the Manson killings two years before terrified the nation.  They killed the counter-culture as much as anybody.

Another book, also a contemporary piece--The Summer That Didn't End: The Story of the Mississippi Civil Rights Project of 1964.  This is a first-hand account of Freedom Summer, when a large group of trained activists, black and white, went down to the Magnolia State for a multi-pronged offensive:  to register more blacks to vote, to educate black kids and generally to raise consciousness--all without protection from the federal givernment.  This is of course the setting for the notorious murders in Neshoba County, when the sheriff and his hee haw thug deputy and their ilk, arrested three civil rights workers, jailed them and beat them, set them loose and then followed them out of town and murdered them and hid the bodies.  Undoubtedly because two of them were white, the case aroused an enormous amount of attention and the Feds came down (FINALLY), combed the area, finally found the bodies due to a tipster, and prosecuted the case.  The case inspired the (somewhat romanticized) movie Mississippi Burning and also a poster (this image is from their trial) with the sardonic slogan "Support Your Local Sheriff."

As you can see by the books, I've really been immersing myself in the history of the '50s/'60s/'70s.  It's riveting.  We post-Civil Rights babies take for granted what an amazing thing took place--when you read about pre-civil rights Missiissippi and Alabama, how utterly hostile and awful those societies were towards blacks and anyone who wasn't absolutely conformist to a specific orthodoxy, how literally savagely they behaved towards those who challenged the orthodoxy in any way--you start to comprehend what an incredible sea change happened--and in less than a generation.
ceebeegee: (Magical Dance)

Yay! Love this book, it's my favorite of the Narnia books. Pleasepleaseplease do justice to the Dark Island and Goldwater Island sequences. The Sweet Sea of the East looks lovely, with the flowers.
ceebeegee: (oz)
So I finished Wicked a few days ago. Um...hmmm. Color me somewhat underwhelmed. I love the premise, and the weird, carnival-mirror version of Oz is a great idea and fun to explore. But I do not find Elphaba a satisfactory protagonist. It took me a little while to figure out why and it's this--she doesn't do that much, and what little she does do is never carried to its dramatic conclusion. In college she carries on Dr. Dillamond's research--does this go anywhere? Other than teaching Chister how to mimic, not really. In the Emerald City she does one fully realized thing--she has the affair with Fyero (I guess you could say she falls in love, allows herself to be vulnerable). But the dramatic conclusion to that, the apology to Sarima--piddles off into nowhere. She lives there for years and never apologizes and makes her own peace with what she did--yes, I realize that Sarima wouldn't let her but you have to develop that, you have to raise the stakes. If she couldn't do the thing that brought her to the Vinkus, why did she live there for so many years then? Did her feelings change then, did she somehow come to terms with what she did? You can't just have her plop down and then not raise the tension, develop it further. Getting back to her time in the Emerald City, she most noticeably doesn't do something--she fails to kill Madame Morrible. Of course later on she does--or does she? He tries to make it a big mystery--did she or didn't she kill Morrible at the end--but her pathetically bragging about it, while still unsure of what she actually did, just undermined the whole thing and I didn't care in the end. I shouldn't feel that way about the protagonist confronting a major villain.

She really doesn't do much magic at all, and doesn't seem very devoted to or even interested in its practice or study. In fact other than Animal rights, I'm not sure what she stood for.

The lack of decisive action is really noticeable when Dorothy enters the picture. All she does is track her and wait for her! She doesn't do SHIT to confront her, stop her, talk to her--that whole subplot was a major disappointment. I found myself much more interested in Dorothy than in Elphaba. (I will say, I thought the whole section where she sends the dogs, the crows and the bees gripping--like her destiny was inevitably approaching. Of course this was helped by everyone's knowing how the Witch ends up.)

She's really not a terribly likable or admirable character, IMO. Maguire's elliptical writing style doesn't help that much--sure, Baum was WAY in the other direction as a writer (but of course he wrote for kids), rarely did Baum write anything particularly witty or clever. But Maguire seems to be opaque for the sake of being opaque. It's kind of annoying, there's no payoff. Why did Morrible enchant the three girls and why didn't they end up carrying out her plans? What was the point of the Philosophy Club sequence and how did it affect the participants? Why did her friendship with Glinda peter out? And why am I supposed to care about Sarima and her sisters and the children?

Although reading the synopsis of the musical--wow. They really DID change a lot! It's interesting, at first I thought "why the hell did Maguire allow that?" then I thought "well, they aren't his characters to begin with!" I did think the aftermath of the Witch's murder was beautifully depicted, and it's a shame that was changed.


ceebeegee: (Default)

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