Friday, December 10, 2010

Some days, I try to write poetry and recall Noel Bastable.

O Beetle how I weep to see
Thee lying on thy poor back!
It is so very sad indeed.
You were so shiny and black.
I wish you were alive again
But Eliza says wishing it is nonsense and a shame.

--- Edith Nesbit, The Story of the Treasure Seekers

Thursday, December 9, 2010

with illustrations by the author

The Coloured Lands by G.K. Chesterton. Illustrated by the author.

I put this on request at the library merely because it was written by G.K. Chesterton. I thought it might be a book of essays or something. Having only flipped through it and examined the table of contents thus far, I can't say more than this: It is utterly delightful. It appears to have a little bit of everything - comic poetry, stories and fairy tales, and pictures. Lots of pictures, actually. I never want to return it to the library.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

5 reasons to be happy

I woke up feeling rather down and the gloom has been hovering over me all day, so...

5 reasons to be happy:

5. I'm rereading Till We Have Faces. It's been a long time since my first reading (3 years, I think).

"No, no no," she said. "You don't understand. Not that kind of longing. It was when I was happiest that I longed most. It was on happy days when we were up there on the hills, the three of us, with the wind and the sunshine … where you couldn't see Glome or the palace. Do you remember? The colour and the smell, and looking at the Grey Mountain in the distance? And because it was so beautiful, it set me longing, always longing. Somewhere else there must be more of it. Everything seemed to be saying, Psyche come! But I couldn't (not yet) come and I didn't know where I was to come to. It almost hurt me. I felt like a bird in a cage when the other birds of its kind are flying home.

4. My Peter Pan cast. ♥

3. I learned how to do a heart in HTML. ♥ You have no idea how happy this makes me.

2. "This Charming Girl - handmade and vintage treasures for all your whimsical jewelry needs" - Camera Shy Necklace I didn't even know I had "whimsical jewelry needs" until I found this website.

1. The fact that I actually had to make myself stop at five. I have more reasons.

That in itself is very cheering. All right. I feel better now. :)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Confessions: Part the Second

Confession: I'm not obsessed with changing my layout... exactly. I just like everything to be perfect.

So it's still not finished yet.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Confession: I love blogs.

Another confession: I love quirky bloggers who post a lot of pictures and make pretty things.

A third confession: I wish I were a quirky blogger who posts a lot of pictures and makes pretty things.

But I am not.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Word On NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month.

50,000 words in 30 days.

I did it last year and won. And, to the dismay of my sister (who also happens to be my roommate), I'm gearing up for NaNoWriMo 2010. I have my laptop, my favorite tea cup, fingerless gloves to keep my hands warm as I type frantically in the cold hours of the morning, and a little friendly competition from my friends at the Fairy Tale Novel message boards to keep me motivated. Sounds like the only thing I'm really missing is an actual plot.

According to Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo, that's not a problem.

Some of my friends have detailed plot outlines and character sketches they've been working on for months. Most of them know how their novel will end. They all know their main character's full name and most likely, their backstory. And they all know their title!

With less than a week till November 1st, I admit it would be nice to know some of that stuff about my own novel.

I really admire anyone who can use NaNo as a way to grow in skill and discipline and actually make some progress on a project. But I'm not like that at all. I'm one of the "pantsers" (as in "seat of your pants"). We take a basic plot premise, one or two characters, and pretty much wing it for the whole month. This is obviously not the only way to do NaNo (and for some, it's not the best), but I had a blast last year. I love the thrill of not knowing exactly what's going to happen. That's the allure of NaNo for me. In other months, I can plan and plot and polish. And maybe someday I'll grow into a mature, thoughtful WriMo instead of a goofy, immature panster (though those "mature, thoughtful" WriMos have no choice but to become caffeine-high, crazed slaves to their novels during the month, same as everyone else). Maybe someday I'll spend a couple months outlining and working on a plot that could actually be readable in December.

But for now, my Novembers are reserved for nonsense and insanity. I dedicate this one to the mysterious and wonderful unknown.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Peter Pan Cast

I was cast as Mrs. Darling! My sisters were also cast in the roles they wanted (one of them is one of Tiger Lily's dancing friends, and the other is playing Liza the maid. I am one proud big sister ;) ).

I'm so excited about this show and this cast! I'm only sad that I only have to be at a handful of rehearsals. :)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

First Impressions

(I need a little sidebar banner that says "This blog is addicted to Jane Austen." Anybody care to make me one?)

So I was thinking about my first time with Jane's books. I started with Emma and loathed it and finished with Northanger Abbey and was utterly delighted. What happened in between? I'll show you.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS as well as second and third and sometimes fourth IN A NUTSHELL.
Mild spoilers inevitable.



Second reading: February 2008 Reaction: Uh, Emma? Mr. Elton is hitting on you, darling. WAKE UP.

Third reading: May 2009 Reaction: Romance! Knightley! Wittiness and humor!

Fourth reading: April 2010 Reaction: Jane Austen is my hero.

Pride & Prejudice

First reading: August 2007 These characters talk a lot.

Second reading: January 2008 Reaction: Happy sigh.

Third reading: May 2009 Reaction: Giggle, giggle, squee, chuckle, giggle, sigh.

Fourth reading: June 2010 Reaction: (Mute adoration of Jane) Also: I HAVE TO BLOG ABOUT THIS.

Sense & Sensibility

First reading: September 2007 Reaction: Edward, what have you done!?

Second reading: January 2009 Reaction: The Colonel is how old, please?

Third reading: January 2010 Reaction: Oh, Willoughby. How could you? :( :( :(

Fourth reading: July 2010 Reaction: Every teenage girl should read this book.

First reading: October 2007 Reaction: Oh, look! A new baby sister! (I was reading the book in the hospital the night my little sister was born)

Second reading: December 2009 Reaction: Pretty much: <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

Mansfield Park

First reading: November 2007 Reaction: Everyone is stupid.

Second reading: August 2009 Reaction: Hey, I like Fanny now. Poor girl, misunderstood by family AND readers. 60 pages later: Mmk, I'm done liking Fanny.

(Clearly, I need to give this one another chance)

Northanger Abbey

First reading November 2007 Reaction: Giggle, squee, giggle!

Second reading: October 2009 Reaction: Stupid people are funny!

- all in good fun, of course,

Friday, September 3, 2010

We're after the same rainbow's end...

Moon river, wider than a mile
I'm crossing you in style someday
Old dream-maker - you heart-breaker
Wherever you're going, I'm going your way

Two drifters, off to see the world
There's such a lot of world to see
We're after the same rainbow's end
Waitin' 'round the bend...
My huckleberry friend...
Moon river...
And me....

I simply can't find words to describe how this song moves me, particularly Audrey Hepburn's lovely, wistful performance of it in the film Breakfast at Tiffany's. Simply beautiful.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

At the beach


Some random children playing bakery with mud pies. :)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Finishing up Sense & Sensibility

Confession: I could read Sense & Sensibility over and over and over again. I really could. For some reason, this story pulls me in and keeps me entertained more than Jane's other books. It's not that it's my favorite (I still don't know which is my favorite. It's been Emma for a while). I just love spending time with these characters and the story they tell. It has the right mixture of sadness and joy, without leaving me with that bittersweet hollow feeling at the end. It helps that my copy (Penguin Classic's Hardbound Collection) is absolutely delicious: light blue and pink, with flowers on the cover that almost bring to mind the "art nouveau" style.


There are lots of good lessons to be learned in Sense & Sensibility. I was just rereading Elenatintil's wonderful review of the Emma Thompson/Kate Winslet Sense & Sensibility film. She writes, "Marianne and Elinor are not just dealing with the question of whether to marry for love or money, but with the question of "how does one conduct oneself when one is in love?" And that, believe it or not, is a question that every young person deals with. Do they show themselves richly enamored (as Marianne does) or remain guarded and aloof (like Elinor)? The times may be differant now, but even though our society embraces the openness of Marianne, we also see Marianne's heartbreak and embarassment repeating itself over and over again in our young people."

I don't even know what else to say. That's just so wonderfully put. :)

I'm almost finished with my re-read. Edward and Elinor are finally together. Everything is explained, everything is happy. I think Jane Austen gave Elinor the happiest possible ending. Instead of letting Edward come directly to her, tell her he couldn't think what he had ever seen in that Lucy Steele, and would Elinor pretty please marry him and make him the happiest man on earth, Jane put Elinor through a few pages of misery first and writes one of the most heartbreaking paragraphs I have ever read:

"Elinor now found the difference between the expectation of an unpleasant event, however certain the mind may be told to consider it, and certainty itself. She now found, that in spite of herself, she had always admitted a hope, while Edward remained single, that something would occur to prevent his marrying Lucy; that some resolution of his own, some mediation of friends, or some more eligible opportunity of establishment for the lady, would arise to assist the happiness of all. But he was now married, and she condemned her heart for the lurking flattery, which so much heightened the pain of the intelligence."

Even when Elinor hears that "Mr. Ferrars is married," she is calm. Amusingly, Marianne is the one who goes into hysterics.

Then, lo and behold, all misunderstandings are cleared away with the arrival of Edward. He is not married, and...

"Elinor could sit it no longer. She almost ran out of the room, and as soon as the door was closed, burst into tears of joy, which at first she thought would never cease."

That sudden sharp turn from misery to joy always gets me. :)

Another thing I love about this book is the warm, happy family atmosphere. Aside from Marianne and Elinor's obvious closeness, Mrs. Dashwood is a loving mother who takes good care of her children. Marianne clearly inherited her sense of drama from her mother, but Mrs. Dashwood is still a sensible woman who raised her daughters to be intelligent, virtuous and sweet young ladies. Unlike some other Austen mothers I can think of, whose children only turned out all right by some miracle of fate. The warmth of the Dashwood women's family life is very appealing, and it's so absent from Austen's other books. Think about it: In Pride & Prejudice, Jane and Lizzy are the only sane members of their family. Lizzy can't hold a conversation with her mother without giving up in exasperation at the latter's foolishness. In Mansfield Park, Fanny Price's parents give her up to rich relatives quite readily, and when Fanny goes back to visit them years later, she is disappointed with their vulgar manners and habits. Her relationship with the aforementioned rich relatives is no better. One aunt takes advantage of her submissive disposition and the other constantly picks on her. Her girl cousins look down on her and only her cousin Edmund pays her any proper attention or kindness. In Persuasion, Anne does not have ANYone of sense to talk to in her family. Her father and sister are conceited jerks and her younger sister is just silly. Emma never knew her mother and appears to take care of her aging father instead of the other way around. Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey spends so much of the novel away from her parents that an accurate picture of her relationship with her family can never be drawn. Sense & Sensibility is the only one of Jane's novels that portrays the heroine's family in a truly positive light.

Now I am off to read the last few pages of this delightful book. :) Next on my Jane Austen reading list: Northanger Abbey.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Catch-up post

Sound of Music is over. For a while I couldn't blog about it because it made me far too sad. Oh, who am I kidding, it still makes me sad to think of it being over. :) But then I just forgot. Anyhow, it was an incredible experience! I had an amazing time and I will never forget it. It really is hard to leave it behind, though. That character became such a part of me... and I miss all my Von Trapps so much. I miss all of the cast, but especially those Von Trapps. :)

Taming of the Shrew is also over. I was a little less sad to see that one end. It was a lot of fun, and as my first real Shakespearean part (not counting servants, messengers, etc. which I have played in the past) it was a great experience. But after 8 shows, I was done. I do rather miss my costumes, though. I only had three, but they were all gorgeous.

In other news, I have had plenty of time to read this month. Currently, I'm reading Sense & Sensibility... for the second time in one year! I rarely read books twice in one year. But I make special exceptions for comfort literature, school, and really short/easy books. Jane is comfort literature. :) I might take it into my head to do a S&S-themed blog post... oh, heavens, I didn't mean for this to turn into a Jane Austen blog! Though on that note...

Take a look at this Guide to Avoid Gossip - Jane Austen Style. I was particularly tickled by "If you’re male, be poor." It reminds me of that little poem:

"Oh if you’re a bird, be an early bird
And catch the worm for your breakfast plate.
If you’re a bird, be an early early bird
But if you’re a worm, sleep late."
--- Shel Silverstein

And of course that gave me a lovely image of Mr. Bingley as a poor, unsuspecting worm, with Mrs. Bennet as the ruthless early bird, trying to catch him and bring him home to feed to her children. Mwahahahaha.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sound of Music - So Begins Production Week

Production week, otherwise known as "tech week," (also known as "hell week") for The Sound of Music is about to begin. I'm so excited - yet terribly, terribly sad that it will all be over soon.

The cast has become a family. There are three casts of Von Trapp kids, and they've all grown close, but the cast I get to work with for their two shows has become particularly close. I love to watch them and listen to them, because they really are a family now. I'm going to miss all of these wonderful people so much when the show is over.

But it's too soon to be thinking about the end. :)

Production week is the best part of a show in this company. For one thing, there's the theater. Most of us have already been in this theater before, but that doesn't make it any less exciting to stand outside, waiting for the doors to open and rehearsals onstage to begin. Being there makes us realize just how close we are to opening. And then, there's getting to see everyone every day for a week. Then there are the uncomfortable things like sore feet from standing for hours at a time, and the smell of hairspray, and wearing too much make-up, and being utterly weary in mind and body- all of these things are exciting during production week and performances. And there are the times when everything looks like a total disaster. But somehow it all comes together by the first show.

Say a prayer for us all.

Friday, June 11, 2010

One last Pride & Prejudice post, some small news and a slight digression

It always makes me so sad to leave the world of Jane Austen. You have no idea how tempted I am to pick up Pride & Prejudice and simply start reading it all over again. Now the only Jane books I haven't read this year are Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion. And I'm barely halfway through the year! I'm going to have to break my rule of not reading the same books twice in one year, methinks.

But let me blog Pride & Prejudice once more before I move on. And once more, I will connect it to The Sound of Music.

There are many scary things about playing a lead role, not the least of which is: the looooove scenes. ;) (Particularly when you have younger siblings in the room) Personally, I think the relationship of Maria and Captain Von Trapp is not quite so important as Maria's relationship with the family as a whole, but it is still very important. So I was talking it over with my voice teacher. She was saying to me, "The thing about this relationship is that it really snuck up on Maria. She always thought of the Captain one way - and then suddenly, here she is, thinking of him in an entirely different way."

Oh, I couldn't help myself. I pulled my beautiful, hardbound book out of my purse and waved it around. "Pride & Prejudice!" I said.

"Oh! Yes!" said my voice teacher. "Yes, perfect example! Mr. Darcy is actually a really good correspondent for the Captain." We talked about how the specifics of the stories and the characters involved are very different of course, but there is still that common theme of being surprised by finding out who someone really is, and of being surprised by love.

And inwardly I was just saying, "Yesssssss." It was great that I could even find a way to fit Pride & Prejudice into a conversation with my teacher - even better that we could draw parallels from Lizzy & Darcy to the love story I'm portraying right now.

(And I'm going to go on a tangent right now and say this: We were watching the Cathy Rigby recording of Peter Pan the musical on YouTube, and it made me smile that the audience cheered every time Peter flew through the Darling's window. It made me think - I hear that there were a lot of screams and cheers in the theaters when Robert Pattinson showed up onscreen as Edward in Twilight. And it got me thinking - why don't we do the same for Mr. Darcy? And once I began to wonder this, I remembered that there have been several stage versions of Pride & Prejudice, some of them musicals. See this website: and this one: I think the perfect Pride & Prejudice musical would all come down to this: when Darcy enters the ballroom at Meryton, he would have to freeze for a full minute while every female in the audience clapped her hands raw and cheered her throat hoarse. Darcy has been a sort of icon long before Edward Cullen and Peter Pan were around. I think he deserves nothing less. Three cheers for Mr. Darcy! )

And on another note, take a look at the About The Musical page on the second P&P link. Are not the song names too perfect for words? It's like some kind of joke - "My Reasons For Marrying." "My Poor Nerves!" "I Can't Resist A Redcoat!")

Now that all that is out of the way, some other news of interest:

Full run-through of Sound of Music last night = much more encouraging than our last run through! The energy level was higher, and everything is just generally coming together. I'm nervous for the shows - but I'm also incredibly excited!

And rehearsals have started for Taming of the Shrew. I really don't want to talk about that right now, though. I feel like crying every time I think that I have rehearsals for both this show and Sound of Music every day (give or take a day or two) until... July? Pray for me. It's not that it's not going to be fun. It's just going to be really really hard... and exhausting... Even without "Shrew," my schedule would be pretty hectic - throw in another show that opens only a few days after the first, and it's basically insanity. Please please please don't ask how the heck I'm going to do it. I have to do it. So I'll find a way.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Dancing - and those possessed of two left feet

(Another post from the midst of Jane-land)

The two first dances, however, brought a return of distress; they were dances of mortification. Mr. Collins, awkward and solemn, apologising instead of attending, and often moving wrong without being aware of it, gave her all the shame and misery which a disagreeable partner for a couple of dances can give. The moment of her release from him was exstacy.

Dancing. With partners. Of the opposite sex. Many teenagers would find this distinctly unnerving. I know I did, when I was in my first musical (The Music Man). Luckily for me, there were more girls than there were boys (aren't there always?). The dances worked with boy-girl and girl-girl couples, and I ended up dancing with my sister for the show.

Due to the multiple casting, I'm spending three shows dancing in the Sound of Music ensemble. I love this system - I had a horror of being just one of the crowd before I danced in The Music Man ensemble, but now I've learned to love it. It's a different sort of acting, and it's often just as important. For Sound of Music, girl-girl partnering for the dancing is NOT acceptable. For one thing, there's a dip at the end of one dance. And if you think about the situations we're dancing in - in one scene, a big party - that really requires boy-girl partners. So each week we girls must leave our shyness at home and not be afraid to say to the boys, "Hey, wanna be partners?" Yes, I know, that's not the way it should be. It's so unlike the days of Jane Austen when the gentleman courteously engaged the young lady for the next dance. But since the boys do not take the initiative in finding partners, the director's tune has changed from "Guys, grab a girl," to: "Girls, grab a guy."

Choosing a partner can be a tricky business. Sometimes it's just a matter of who is left over after all the best dancers are picked. Sometimes it's a matter of "No, I am NOT dancing with the guy singing Sombody to Love in a falsetto voice." Height must be taken into consideration. My younger sister is so fortunate as to be especially chummy with one of the boys around her height and she always dances with him. Until the other night, when we were assigned our partners for the show, I really don't know if she danced with anyone else since rehearsals began. And I don't blame her. He's a very good dancer. Past experience with Certain People narrows down the list of possibilities a great deal(see anecdote under "often moving wrong without being aware of it" down below).

I myself have become a tolerable dancer since I first began. I have been put in the first row onstage in two shows - this was a huge confidence booster way back when I wasn't so confident about my dancing. To own the truth, I dance with more animation than real skill. My feet go where I want them to go, and they go there with great spirit, but I won't be winning any prizes for my uncommon gracefulness.

But I am a good enough dancer to be sensible of the discomfort that comes from dancing with a partner who seems to have two left feet. I have had my share of those "Mr. Collins" dancing partners.

"Awkward and solemn" - You could smile at me a little bit. I promise I won't think it means you're in love with me. And believe it or not, we are supposed to be touching each other. Once I danced with a guy who was either a terrible dancer, really nervous, or thought his girlfriend was watching. His hand was at least six inches from my waist. And then of course there are the not-so-solemn partners who always want to talk, prompting me to think of another quote from - guess where! "Do you talk by rule, then, while dancing?" My sister's assigned dancing partner seems very solemn indeed. She says he is most certainly of "an unsociable and taciturn disposition."

"Apologising instead of attending" - Once, a guy was trying to dip me. I could tell as I was going down that he wasn't supporting me enough. It is not pleasant to discover that your partner is not going to dip you properly when you're already halfway down. So I just sort of gently lowered myself to the floor, rather than lose my balance and fall ungracefully. So there I was, lying on the floor, laughing at the absurdity of the situation as the music ended. My partner was profusely apologetic. I really think he felt bad... he certainly wasn't laughing when he said "sorry" about six times. But I was uninjured, and it was certainly less embarrassing than it could have been.

"And often moving wrong without being aware of it" - By far my wildest dancing partner story is this: We were dancing the Grand Waltz. This is danced at the party at the end of Act 1, and the melody is a waltz version of My Favorite Things. I am usually very patient with my partners. Not everyone can learn the dances quickly - I've definitely been there! But this guy was really trying my patience. We twisted around, he saying, "No, get over there! Aaahhh!!! This is NOT one of my favorite things! No, that's wrong. Ah, crap!" I was trying to guide him as best as I could. Then, in the middle of the dance, he broke away and had, to all appearances, a tantrum. He just sort of ... shrieked... and flapped his arms around. I was horrified.

"I'm sorry," he said, "I just had to get that out of my system."
"Well now it's out," I said, "So please don't do it again!"

It was indeed a dance of mortification.

I'm always relieved when we learn who our permanent dancing partners are. Even though it's not such a big deal to find a partner for myself anymore, I like to be told who to dance with. We found out a few nights ago, and my partner is really not a bad sort. He's friendly enough (without being overly-chatty), doesn't swear when he misses a step, generally knows what he's doing, and can dip me quite competently.

All the discomfort and unpleasantness of finding a partner, getting your toes stepped on (or getting whacked in the face, or arm, or stomach, or ear), and standing for prolonged periods of time with your arms around each other aside, these dances have an old-fashioned grace and pattern that do make me feel like I could be at a ball at Meryton. Oftentimes I have been obliged to sit down due to the scarcity of gentlemen in the room, and this gives me leave to observe the people before me. Sometimes I even think I can find Pride & Prejudice correspondants for some of the people I see. There are no Mr. Darcys (our boys are forced to give consequence to young ladies who have been slighted by other gentleman - or weren't quick enough claiming a fellow). There are no Mrs. Bennets - thank Heaven! There are Charlotte Lucases, to share our dancing woes with. My sister is surely Jane Bennet, and her favorite partner is Mr. Bingley, who offended several young ladies by not asking them to dance (but they are not in love, I assure you all). There are, perhaps, Lydias and Kittys, but you didn't hear it from me. I'm sure there are Mary Bennets, who should infinitely prefer a book. There are Mr. Collinses to be sure. And every girl is, in her own way, a Lizzy Bennet.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My life is being swallowed by Pride & Prejudice. Again. Everytime I read it, or watch the movie, I constantly slip quotes into conversations, blog posts, journal entries, Facebook statuses. Maybe you've noticed?

I would like it to be known that I now have an "Emmy" label. Haha, this makes me laugh for some reason. She should feel proud.

I would also like it to be made known that a really really long blog post (about dancing... and Pride & Prejudice...) is forthcoming. Expect it tomorrow or the next day. (*whispers* It does not much signify when.) I think it's very amusing, but I must not decide on my own performance.

On a non-Austen note, my dad and brother brought home some tadpoles from the creek. Mixed in with the tadpoles were some mosquito larvae (yeugh). So we bought some guppies at the pet store to eat them. We named them Mr. Guppy and Mr. Barnacle... in tribute to Charles Dickens: Mr. Guppy of Kenge and Carboys (Bleak House) and ... one of the numerous Barnacles of the Circumlocution Office (Little Dorrit). The only thing I love so much as a good Jane Austen miniseries is a good Dickens miniseries. :)

And now, I have delighted you long enough. Farewell, until another time.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

More Pride & Prejudice (reclaiming the classic and utterly darling artwork)

Pride and Prejudice Without Zombies at "Reclaiming the Classic." I started my re-read half a month ahead of the event, but I'll still be following the blog. I'm a huge fan of anything without zombies, so this should be great. ;)

Pride & Prejudice illustrations by an Italian artist. No matter how much of a purist you are, no matter how much the idea of P&P as a Marvel comic revolts you, who could help but be delighted with these colorful and comical illustrations of the story!? Click on the different places on the map to see the pictures that go with each location. (Personal favorites: Mr. Collins wagging his tail at Lady Catherine at Rosings, Lizzy and Wickham envisioning Mr. Darcy with horns and a pitchfork at Meryton, Lizzy's petticoat "six inches deep in mud" at Netherfield Mr. Darcy offering his heart to Lizzy at Hunsford, Mr. Darcy in his pond... with a smitten frog atop his head!) Each illustration is accompanied by an appropriate quote from the novel. And I'm not certain, but I believe the page is a work in progress, so keep checking back for new illustrations.

Monday, May 31, 2010

It is a rule with me, that a person who can write a long letter, with ease, cannot write ill."

"That will not do for a compliment to Darcy, Caroline," cried her brother - "because he does not write with ease. He studies too much for words of four syllables. - Do not you, Darcy?"

"My style of writing is very different from yours."

"Oh!" cried Miss Bingley, "Charles writes in the most careless way imaginable. He leaves out half his words, and blots the rest."

"My ideas flow so rapidly that I have not time to express them - by which means my letters sometimes convey no ideas at all to my correspondents."

"Your humility, Mr. Bingley," said Elizabeth, "must disarm reproof."

"Nothing is more deceitful," said Darcy, "than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast."

"And which of the two do you call my little recent piece of modesty?"

"The indirect boast - for you are really proud of your defects in writing, because you consider them as proceeding from a rapidity of thought and carelessness of execution, which if not estimable, you think at least highly interesting."

I am re-reading Pride & Prejudice. Something about this book, more than any of Jane Austen's others, is so irresistably quotable and applicable to real life. Jane's dialogue never ceases to captivate me, and I particularly enjoy these conversations at Netherfield, while poor Miss Bennet is lying upstairs with a headache and sore throat. There's so much wit and thought, and so much going on between the lines. If I were Lizzy, I would never want to leave! Which tempts me to quote Miss Austen again:

'My idea of good company, Mr Elliot, is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.'

'You are mistaken,' said he gently, 'that is not good company; that is the best." ~ Persuasion

There will never be another Jane.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Happy Birthday, Emmy

Today is the birthday of my dear friend, Emmy, otherwise known as Miss Catholic Nerd Writer (read her blog, it's amazing). My tea-drinking, Janeite, soccer-loving, novel-writing sister.

I met her about two years ago on a little website called Maidens of Modesty, which is sadly inactive now. We "adopted" each other as sisters. Emmy is one of the most incredible girls I know. She has an inspiring faith (she probably wouldn't agree, but it has inspired me many times!). She's humble... but she's also got spunk. She's a kindred spirit, owns more BBC miniseries than I do, and has lent me awesome books. When we met up in January to wreak havoc on a bookstore, Emmy further proved to me that she is 100% awesome: she hugged the Jane Austen shelf and hid a book about Martin Luther without shame or thought for what people might think. She gives me good advice and warns me what not to read or watch, just as a big sister should. :) Because even though we're not really related, she IS my big sister. Being the oldest in a family of five kids, it means a lot to me to have an older Catholic girl in my life so I can be the little sister once in a while.

Happy birthday, Emmy. You're the best big sister. :) I love you so much!

I wanted to give you Henry Tilney, but he wouldn't agree to being gift-wrapped.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sound of Music Update

I thought some of you might be interested in how Sound of Music rehearsals are going :)

We're all supposed to be off book for act 1 now. We've blocked every major scene in the first act (except for the tail end of the party scene) and have only a few songs to block. So next week is our first full run through of act 1! That's always an exciting rehearsal, especially if you haven't watched every scene in rehearsals. When the directors just sit back and see how everything goes (stopping only for MAJOR trainwrecks in blocking) it's often amazing to see how everything begins to come together in a rough sort of way. It can also be frustrating if people don't know their lines. But at last night's rehearsal, the directors let all of the various cast members get a chance at something to get a feel for who they needed to get after to work on lines. :P

The part of Maria is double cast, and so my "double" is the same girl who played Marian in The Music Man. We've been friends ever since then, so we sometimes have way too much fun together. We tried on our costumes a few weeks ago. Our favorite is the wedding dress - it's got a long train that could be potentially dangerous backstage. The costumers will probably end up hemming it, sadly. My other favorite costume - the ugly dress. Isn't that ironic? It's sort of a dingy brown checkered material that's not very pretty, but the cut of the bodice and skirt are a tiny bit 40's-esque, the kind of cut that flatters anyone. So it's really not that ugly.

The more I rehearse, the more I realize that actually getting the part was only half the battle. There's all those lines to memorize, but I'm also not as strong a singer as the other Maria. And I'm not as experienced a singer as two of the girls I "beat out" for the role. I know that the directors cast me in this part for a reason, and they saw something they liked in my audition, but I do feel a lot of pressure to live up to everyone's expectations. I keep practicing my "trouble spots" at home. One of my biggest problems is in Do-Re-Mi - at the very end of the song, I have to hit a high G and hold it out for a very long time. This wouldn't be so much of a problem if I could just be standing still during this number. But Do-Re-Mi is a high-energy moving-around-and-around-and-around type of song. We blocked it last Friday. We (Maria and the Von Trapps) will have marched down through the audience and back up on the stage TWICE by the end of the song. By the time I hit that G, I'm completely worn out. All I can hope is that two months of hard practicing will pay off by the time the show comes around.

But the best part of this show is the Von Trapp kids. They make EVERYTHING worth it. There are three casts of Von Trapps (yes, THREE! It's crazy. But they did want to give as many kids a chance as they possibly could, and all 21 of them deserve it). The triple-casting makes it harder to bond with all of them, but we're making headway. ;) Now that everyone is getting more comfortable, we're starting to feel more like family and everyone's getting a lot crazier at rehearsals. The best is when the younger kids come up and hug me. :) My heart melts a teeny bit every time.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Thoughts on BBC's Emma

Beware of the SPOILERS.

I finally got around to watching BBC's new adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma. This is the only time I miss having television - when all my friends are watching long-awaited miniseries as they air and I have to wait to get the DVD from Netflix. But this was well worth the wait.

This is the third Emma adaptation I have seen, the other two being the Kate Beckinsale miniseries and the Gwynneth Paltrow movie. For some reason I could never explain, I was more picky about screen interpretations of Emma than any other Jane Austen film I've watched - some of you may know that while I love the Colin Firth Pride & Prejudice, I adore the '05 film with Keira Knightley, despite its flaws and condensed adaptation. As far as I'm concerned, Lizzy is open to interpretation. As Keira Knightley said on the DVD special features, girls have a hard time seeing actresses play Lizzy because they like to envision themselves as the character. But who wants to be Emma? She's spoiled, selfish and blind to the true feelings of others, and even her own. Nevertheless, I care more about her story and how it's portrayed than any of Austen's other heroines.

It may be because I've had an Austen-worthy love story with the novel itself. When I first read it, I hated it. Most emphatically. I was fourteen and inclined to be critical. To me, it read like 400 pages of petty, yawn-inducing village gossip, with flat characters who made long speeches full of words no one would ever use in real conversation. And the romance - ugh! To my fourteen-year-old self, nothing was more dissatisfying than for the young, pretty heroine of the story to end up with the old, cranky and OLD brother-of-the-brother-in-law. It was the first of Jane's books that I read, and I did re-read it after I had read all of her books and grown used to her "voice" (and even learned to thoroughly enjoy her sharp humor in Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey). I wrote a post about that reading on my other blog. I enjoyed it more, and forgave Mr. Knightley for being 16 years older than Emma, but I never called it my favorite.

When I reread the book last month and then watched the miniseries, one of Emma's lines (not in the book) to Mr. Knightley struck me: "I examined my own heart... and there you were." Yes, I did. I examined my own heart, and there was Emma. I've stopped fighting it and now I know it's my favorite. Which explained why I was always so critical of the movies, from the very start.

I could make long lists about what was wrong with the Beckinsale and Paltrow versions. For Beckinsale: Unappealing and detached leads was the most noticeable thing. I couldn't get interested in them. Olivia Williams was a perfect Jane Fairfax, looks-wise, but I just couldn't bring myself to care about Emma and Mr. Knightley. Paltrow: Jeremy Northam made a good Knightley, and there was a lot of good humor, but Harriet looked way too old, Jane looked foreign (and I can't even recall her saying ANYTHING). Miss Bates was excellent, but Mr. Woodhouse boring, and Frank Churchill wore the most awful wig I have ever seen in my time on this beautiful earth. And again, Emma, the title character, though far more engaging than Beckinsale's portrayal, fell woefully short.

Like I said, not everyone likes Emma. Yes, she "unites some of the best blessings of existence," yet those very blessings (wealth, intelligence, beauty) turn against her and make us frustrated with her spoiled ways and her ignorance of feelings and thoughtlessness towards others. But at the end of the day, all of Austen's heroines (with the exception of Fanny Price, who I have always found slightly unbearable) are keenly human, including Emma. I think any actress who takes on this role has a duty to make us understand this, put all her faults right there for all to see, yet make us love her all the more for them.

So BBC's Emma was pretty much perfection, as far as I'm concerned. I'm sorry to make this long blog post even longer, but you must allow me to list some of the reasons why I love it:

The leads were engaging and loveable. Romola Garai was everything I could have asked for as Emma, and I enjoyed Johnny Lee Miller's performance much more than I expected to.

All the supporting actors were amazing. From the incredible Michael Gambon as Mr. Woodhouse, who always seems to get shoved to the side in other Emma films, to Miss Bates, to the Knightleys in London (it's too easy to make them boring), to pompous Mr. Elton and the farmer Mr. Martin. I enjoyed watching every single one of them. Also, the minute I saw Harriet Smith, I got excited. I'm not exaggerating when I say she was exactly how I pictured her - those cute, school-girlish curls and all. And I loved how the way she spoke was so much in contrast with Emma's clear, precise voice.

Mrs. Elton was maddening. I must say, reading the novel for the first time, Mrs. Elton was the only character that roused any feeling in me at all. I do believe she (and my stubborn determination) was the reason I bothered to finish the book at all. (What if I hadn't? I may have given up on Austen completely!) Christina Cole as Mrs. Elton, from the minute she made her grand entrance in Highbury's church, had me pounding on my pillow in mingled exasperation and amusement. Even more hilarious are Emma's reactions to her (look at her face when Mrs. Elton calls Mr. Woodhouse her "old beau").

Emma's costumes had character. All the costumes did, really. Jane nearly always wore blue, Mrs. Elton was always "over-trimmed," Mr. Woodhouse often wore a warm scarf in his fear of a cold, and Emma had her own themes of bright colors and pairing coral and blue together. Who would have thought it could look that good?

And finally...

Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax. I never cared a great deal for their story until this miniseries. Jane was adorable, and Frank was... okay, he was adorable too. When I didn't want to slap his face, that is. Box Hill, anyone? Oh my goodness, I never imagined how excessive "flirting excessively" could be. If I could have slapped him for Jane, I would have. My younger sister aptly nicknamed him "the little stinker." Yet, near the end, when Frank and Jane get their very own reunion scene (!), I couldn't have felt happier for them. In the book, it's such a shock to Emma that you never really see how well they are suited to one another (though I believe Mrs. Weston makes an observation to that effect).

There are so many other things I would love to say. Things about the script and adaptation and more about characters, and all the little things I noticed and appreciated. But this blog post is already long enough.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How Do You Solve A Problem Like ... !?

No way.


I had been setting myself up for disappointment all day long. I've never wanted a role so badly, never felt so right in a character before. So I knew that if I didn't get it, the let-down would be painful. And now, the Sound of Music cast list comes out, and ... I can't even believe it, even now, after having two hours to celebrate. I get to play one of my top dream roles ever. I'm Maria. It blows my mind that these songs I've been singing since I was six years old are going to belong to me. It makes me feel giddy, whereas this morning I just felt sick because I was trying to convince myself that I wouldn't get the part, and that I would handle that with grace and dignity.

I tell you, there was nothing dignified about me when I saw my name there, in that spot where I feared it wouldn't be.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


My brother Noah is five, six in June. He's at that age where he's always thinking, and always saying the most interesting things. I've been collecting them:

Noah On Marshmallow Peeps
Noah: You know what I think these turn into when they get old?
Me: Stale?
Noah: Foam.

Noah, on formal occasions:
Mom, to me: You know that fancy white pants suit of mine? I'm going to try to sell it on ebay.
Noah: Mom, why do you want to sell it?
Mom: I don't really have anywhere to wear it.
Noah, getting genuinely distressed: Don't sell it! Keep it!
Mom: But it's really fancy, Noah. I don't have anywhere fancy to wear it.
Noah: Mom! Boston-in-the-fall!*

*in reference to the Pirates Who Don't Do Anything song. Noah believes Boston-in-the-fall is the name of a place.

Noah on Gardening
"Mistress Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? With silver bells and taco shells..."

Noah on Manners
Me: (moving aside so he could get in the car)
Noah: Thank you! (pause) I never knew a lady could be a gentleman!

Noah on ... ?
Noah: Mom, my name can't be Noah! My name is Baby Alligator, because I love salmon!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

first day of spring

It's hard to express how the beginning of spring makes me feel. Everything seems to look better, or smell better, or sound better, or simply feel more beautiful in early spring.


- spring cleaning with Desirae.
- windows open for the first time in - well, if not for six months, then for a VERY long while!
- North & South soundtrack (found here ). I first read and watched the miniseries last spring, so it feels rather perfect.
- quoting Little Dorrit incessantly. I guess I didn't mention that we've seen the second half four times now. Andy Serkis wears a fake nose. Hah.
- Desi's been embroidering:

- I've been taking pictures...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Theatre Happiness

I tried out for The Taming of the Shrew last weekend. The audition was quick, painless, and satisfying. Plus, it was nice to catch up with the director, who I hadn't seen since last summer (my, how time flies!). Last night, the phone rang. I've been given the role of Bianca, spoiled younger sister of Kate, the shrew. :) I'm much more excited about this than this post lets on.

Wednesday was audition night for The Sound of Music. I've done two musicals with this company (The Music Man and Li'l Abner) and have really enjoyed both. For this show, I'm aiming high and auditioning for Maria and the Baroness (who sings two delightful songs in the show which were sadly cut from the movie version). Those auditions were.... not so painless and not remotely quick. Everyone says I did really well, but I felt I could have done better. I did, however, manage to keep my energy level deceptively high - inwardly, I just wanted to collapse. The callback list will be posted on Tuesday, so... pray for me. :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

19th Century Craze

Lots of stuff has been going on. At least, that's the excuse I'm going with for not blogging lately. :)

Due to watching BBC's new miniseries adaptation of Emma, which I hope to blog about once I finish watching it, part of Sense & Sensibility 2008 on YouTube, and trailers for a few other costume dramas (including Bright Star, which comes highly recommended from Emmy) on that same highly useful website, my sister and I are going through a BBC 19th century miniseries/movie craze! We just can't get enough! On our list to watch next, aside from finishing Sense & Sensibility and Emma ;) are:

Daniel Deronda
Little Dorrit
Nicholas Nickleby
The Diary of Anne Frank (made just last year, I believe. No, it's not set in the 19th century, but I still want to see it)
Bright Star
Our Mutual Friend
BBC's Robin Hood series

Are we missing anything really good? Please do comment with any other suggestions!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Remember The Cat in ihe Hat Comes Back? I was inspired.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Monday thoughts

My five-year-old brother informed my mother that when he is grown-up, and a pirate prince with cowboy boots and a sword, he is going to have "swashbucklin' deventures!" (That's "adventures," for those of you who don't speak Noah.)

I'm certain that he will.

I took many pictures of the pretty snow last week, but haven't yet edited them to my satisfaction. But, seeing as that may never happen and I will probably only post the pictures on Facebook, here is one picture that I'm rather proud of:

Portrait of a dismebered snowman. (Dismembered is the word I want, isn't it?) It would have been much more effective with a straggly scarf, stray pebble-eyes and a forlorn and broken carrot nose. :)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

From the Rose in bloom

I saw this on the blog of my dear friend, known in the "blogosphere" as Lady Rose: A Rose In Bloom and as I have always wanted to do one of these things, I thought I would indulge my little whim tonight:

Date... The nineteenth of January.

Starting time... 7:32 PM

Mood... Introspective, having just read a beautiful plot post at Journey of a Catholic Nerd Writer.

Outside my window... It's very, um... dark.

I'm thinking... about summer fruits. Mmmm.

I'm reading... I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith and The Inimitible Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

I'm listening to... Hayley Westenra's Wuthering Heights on Lady Rose's blog. (And she has Jon Schmidt there too! I love her. ;-) )

I'm wearing... Pajamas. Boring, I know. I intended to go to bed early... until I got on the computer. Same old story.

Yesterday, I... got a shiny camera in the mail and took an amazing photograph of my toe. No, I will not show it to anyone. My mother laughed too hard when I showed her.

I'm excited for...A lot of different things. Among them: Mass tomorrow. A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner which comes out March 10. Seeing my godsister. High tea with Miss Catholic Nerd Writer (whenever that may be!)

I'm sad because... because... because... suddenly I'm not sad because I was reminded of Madeline Basset from Jeeves & Wooster. "Life is very sad, isn't it?" "Yes, well, for some people it is..." (Madeline and Bertie, Jeeves & Wooster episode "The Hunger Strike") Did I mention that in addition to reading a Wodehouse book, my sister Desirae had the television series on today? I'm in no mood for sadness.

I'm hungry for... summer fruits. I shan't go into any detail, but I described my ideal fruit salad (preferably served over plain white cake) to my mother earlier today... not happening this month. Or next month. Come to think of it, I AM a little sad about that...

The song stuck inside my head is... Hehehe... the Jeeves & Wooster theme song. ;-)

I want... summer fruit salad. No, I want to have tea with Emmy.

I love... that picture of my toe. Don't worry, I'm only joking!

I loathe... certain things that have slipped my mind at present. I don't feel like I could loathe anything at the moment. I'm in a sort of blissfully forgetful mood. I can't remember if I'm sad, or irritated, or anything. It's been an unusually peaceful day.

This week, my goal is... Oh...dear. Goals. Right. Um... to live through it? It's going to be a little tough, starting on Monday.

Did I meet last week's goal?... Mostly, yes. My goal (though I never said anything about it here) was to clean my room and do something else which I've forgotten, but I'm almost positive I did it... ho hum...

Ending time... 7:54 PM