Monday, January 26, 2009

Some of You Will Appreciate This...

the rest will be as confused as I am.

From "Seeking Enlightenment Hat by Hat: A Skeptic's Path to Religion," by Nevada Barr (the February "It's-Not-a-Book-Club" shindig-thingy book--Friday, Feb. 2oth, 8:30, my house, if you're interested):

"My friend Debra once defined optimism as walking into a bookstore thinking 'hey, maybe there'll be a new Jane Austen' " (23).

1.) I feel betrayed by Nevada Barr--I never would have pegged her for a JA lover. And if SHE, Ms. Dark & Twisted & Absolutely-NOT-Romantic-In-Any-Way Suspense Author, gets this whole JA thing, I'm really screwed (up).

2.) Um, is it just me or is there a difference between optimism and just plain stupid? Optimism would be walking into a bookstore thinking, 'hey--making J.K. Rowling decided to add another volume to the HP series,' or 'hey, maybe Stephenie Meyers published a graphic novel version of Twilight.' This is optimistic because both JK & Stephenie are STILL ALIVE, and therefore there is always the chance, however teeny, that your optimism could be justified and it might actually happen. But hoping for a 200-years dead author to suddenly pop off with a new addition to the canon strikes me as more on the 'stupid' end of the optimism spectrum.

3.) So, is this brand of 'optimism' a hallmark of JA fans? Because that would explain why I can't seem to share the joy. It would also make me feel better about not enjoying the books so much...

4.) Blogging out loud: maybe this is a tad bit personal for me because the MFKAMH frequently called me a pessimist. I prefer to think of it as pragmatic realism, and his brand of optimism as 'living in la-la land.' And really, which one is a happier place to be? If I expect the worst, 99% of the time I'll be delightfully surprised by just how joyful life actually is. If you live in la-la land and honestly think that maybe one of these days there will be a new JA, or the money fairies will give you millions of dollars just because you're so darn cute, or your wife will somehow never find out what's really going on...well, dang--you're just setting yourself up for chronic disappointment. Personally, I'd rather be surprised by joy. Mmm...that sounds like a C.S. Lewis title. Oh wait--it IS a C.S. Lewis title. Now there's an author I can enjoy anytime. I can read him on a plane, I can read him on a train, I can read him in the dark, I can read him on a lark, I can read him with a moose, I can read him just like Suess.

Okay, I'll stop now.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Musings on Sense & Sensibility Thus Far

Janie and I are in agreement (kinda):

"He is such a charming man, that it is quite a pity he should be so grave and dull" (77).

Amen, sister! Why, oh why, does Jane Austen believe that boring = appealing? I'm on page 93 of Sense and Sensibility, and I don't believe I've ever read more dull 'romantic heroes' than Edward Ferrars and Colonel Brandon. I can't even think of anything funny or remotely witty to say about them because they are just so blah.

Goodness, virtue, kindness, and rectitude are necessary in Romantic Guy-Types, but it is possible to be all those things AND at least a tiny bit interesting, too.

Shall I note that one on my Future Guy list? "Must have at least a speck of humor, a wee bit of charm, and a smidgen of personality, in addition to all the essential virtues." Is this asking too much? Are my expectations too high? Am I completely unrealistic and unreasonable?

I confess, at this point my sympathies are more with Marianne.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Catch-up on "Clueless"

Confession: I'm on page 66 of Sense & Sensibility, and I kinda want to blog about it thus far, but I feel compelled to wrap up Emma completely before moving on, and that means covering Clueless from last Friday. Random observations:

1.) I was highly distracted from the movie by having so many of my favorite people all in the same room at the same time.

2.) That sugar stuff on the truffles was a touch of divine inspiration.

3.) I think I prefer the tahini recipe of hummus better than the olive oil one, although the OO one certainly hit the spot.

4.) Alicia Silverstone has a weird mouth. Not bad-weird, just "I-can't-exactly-figure-out-what-it-is" weird.

5.) Stacey Dash is GORGEOUS. Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so. I just did a quick search for a pic to include in this post and most of them are semi-porno nudie shots with a hand covering strategic places. Well. I'll give her gorgeous; modest is apparently another issue.

6.) Hehe. Turk was in that movie. Turk with braces. I love Donald Faison. In a brother way. Like a cute, annoying little brother way.

7.) The convoluted relationship created to explain how the psuedo-Knightely could be sort of like a brother, yet not, didn't really work for me. Neither did the age gap. Neither did that whole relationship. But if anyone could have pulled it off, Alicia Silverstone could have done it. I was impressed in spite of myself.

8.) I'm still cracking up. During the 'bedroom' scene, Eric and I were feeling empathy for two totally different characters, for two totally different reasons. So cute!

9.) All said, it was a pretty clever, fun adaptation of Emma. Who knew?
10.) I'm pretty sure I would have turned it off after a few minutes if I were on my own. Being in good company definitely improved the film.
11.) It took me until yesterday to fully catch up on my sleep. Still worth it :)
12.) How cool is it that two of my favorite people were already favorite people together and we didn't even know it??!!! Having friends is great; sharing friends is even better.
Thanks for sharing the adventure--and the cold family room--with me!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Another Jane: "The Scottish Chiefs"

If goodness and virtue are the primary measuring sticks for my Romantic Ideal, this book had 'em in spades. Ms. Porter has some high ideals for romantic love, and I found myself mostly nodding along in agreement.

"Love, true heaven-born love, that pure affection which unites congenial spirits here, and with which the Creator will hereafter connect in one blest fraternity the whole kindred of mankind, has but one cause, The universal fairness of its object!--that bright perfection, which speaks of unchangeableness and immortality; a something so excellent, that the simple wish to partake of its essence, in the union of affection, to facilitate and to share its attainmentof true and lasting happiness, invigorates our virtue, and inspires our souls. These are the aims and joys of real love. It has nothing selfish: in every desire it soars above this earth; and anticipates, as the ultimatum of tis joy, the moment it shall meet its partner before the throne of God" (570).

I can't do justice to the book in this brief and limited review. It is well worth reading for the historical perspective and literary experience; I found it a fascinating saturation in gender identity, sexuality, concepts of self vs. community, nationalism, and pre-feminism. For purposes of this blog, however, I'll focus exclusively on how the book does or does not match my Romantic Ideal Personified in Fiction, or in other words, what does this book teach me about the Future Guy?

I've gotta say, I was right there with Ms. Jane Porter-Author-Lady, and William Wallace was looking mighty fine, right up to the very end. Nearing page 700, Willie and Helen finally get together, in true High-Flown-Ideal-Love fashion, with a prison cell/death bed marriage proposal. They know they only have a few days together as husband and wife before Willie-boy heads to the scaffold. So they sleep together. And by this I mean, literally SLEEP together. She falls asleep on his breast; he falls asleep in her arms. And that's it. Oh, in between long and flowery speeches about the purity of their love. This is not just a period convention from the authoress--she makes it very clear that absolutely no hanky-panky is going on. Their love is so pure and righteous and perfect that physical consummation would just be wrong. Willie refers to her as his "virgin bride," and Helen rapturously raves over the *blessing* of having her marriage bed also be her death bed. They refer to each other again and again as brother and sister (which kinda turned my stomach a bit, I've got to say), and thank God for this honorable and virtuous (read--sexless) love they share.

I'm all for purity, virtue, goodness, honor...the whole shebang. Without them, relationships--most especially marital relationships--are worthless. But I'm just not buying the whole "no-sex" thing.

To quote someone far wiser and with far greater authority in these matters than myself:

"...Human intimacy is reserved for a married couple because it is the ultimate symbol of total union, a totality and a union ordained and defined by God...physical intimacy is not only a symbolic union between a husband and a wife—the very uniting of their souls—but it is also symbolic of a shared relationship between them and their Father in Heaven. He is immortal and perfect. We are mortal and imperfect. Nevertheless we seek ways even in mortality whereby we can unite with Him spiritually. In so doing we gain some access to both the grace and the majesty of His power. Those special moments include kneeling at a marriage altar in the house of the Lord, blessing a newborn baby, baptizing and confirming a new member of the Church, partaking of the emblems of the Lord’s Supper, and so forth. These are moments when we quite literally unite our will with God’s will, our spirit with His spirit, where communion through the veil becomes very real. At such moments we not only acknowledge His divinity but we quite literally take something of that divinity to ourselves" (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Personal Purity,” Ensign, Nov 1998, 75)

I'm tempted to expound on this thought, but I think I'll just let it rest.

Good read, though. Lessons to file away in Wendy's Romantic Ideal File:
Purity, goodness, selflessness = Very Good Things.
Marital sex = Also a Very Good Thing.

Willie-boy is so, so, so very close to the Romantic Ideal. I really thought he was it. But, as I told Ms. Becky, if I ever brave wedded bliss again I DEFINITELY expect some sheet dancing--this celibate-marriage stuff is a load of hooey!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Clueless Reminder

Just a quick reminder & disclaimer:

Clueless, my house, this Friday, 8:30pm. Email or call if you need directions. Bring food if you want, but don't feel obligated--this isn't a potlucked-refreshment type of activity.

Normally I never bother apologizing for my house because I figure that if you are visiting me, you are my friend and you A.) know that housecleaning is rather far down the list of my priorities, B.) like me anyway, and C.) are used to it. But given the complete blitz-o of snow we've had recently, and the hours upon hours I've spent shoveling snow instead of, say, doing dishes and laundry, or even more essential things like showering and sleeping, it's looking bad even by my standards. And yes, the Christmas tree is still up.

Ignore the house. Come watch Clueless and enjoy good--albeit slightly snooty--company :).

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Diversion from Jane

Since the over-arching purpose to this noble quest was to determine what exactly in fiction hits my romance bone (assuming that I have one), I have been working in a few diversions to Ms. Jane along the way.

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis didn't do much for my romance bone but it did tickle my funny bone, and even better garnered a few appreciative grins and chuckles just for the sheer pleasure of reading something so cleverly intelligent disguised as your basic sci-fi/fantasy/time-travel/whatever the heck genre you'd call it.

On the "romance" side, it offered these little gems:

"Even lying there with her greenish-brown eyes closed and her mouth half-open, drooling gently onto a mildewed boat cushion, she was still the most beautiful creature I'd ever seen" (231).

"I'm completely recovered. I don't find you attractive at all" (260).

"He refused, we quarreled, and he threw me in the river, and then he kissed me, and oh, Mama, it was so romantic!" (379)

I just started "The Scottish Chiefs" by Jane Porter, on Trenya's recommendation for feeling twitterpated. That 700+ page book of teeny, weeny print is somewhat daunting.

Onward and upward!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Warning: This Post is Rated P for Sexual Innuendo (Betcha Want to Know What P Stands For)

I can't lay Emma to rest until I survive Alicia Silverstone in Clueless. Such a thing should not be attempted alone. As I said to a friend likewise untouched by Alicia S, "Let's be Clueless virgins together and lose our innocence in a group setting. Oh wait, that didn't come out quite right..."

Therefore, slacker that I am, we're skipping the sparkling, witty, and clever (read: pretentious and snobby) literary salon for January in favor of Emma dressed up in Hollywood's version of teen angst. Besides, I need an excuse to mop my floor since last month's shindig.

My house, Friday, January 9, 8:30pm. Bring cushions, pillows, blankets, and any other creature comforts desired, as my family room contains one lumpy futon and a hard wooden rocker and sometimes gets so cold that I avoided that level of the house entirely for months after watching Sixth Sense. Rumor has it that the Divine Miss B might bring her World-Famous Chocolate Truffles, but I'm not telling anyone that because I like our small, intimate, and snobby gatherings, and being overrun by the entire neighborhood would be so plebian. Though understandable, if you've had the truffles.

PS--come even if your Clueless virginity was lost long ago. We'll engage in verbal intercourse, strictly parthenogenetically speaking.