Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Waiting for the Great Pumpkin...

Halloween is, was, and ever shall be my favorite holiday. What other holiday has scary movies, gobs of candy, and hot apple cider? And if you are lucky, a cool crisp fall night with a full moon!!!

Spooky-Scary-3 Spooky-Scary-2

Spooky-Scary-1 Spooky-Scary

Monday, October 26, 2009

Leaf Peeping

Sister K and I took a leaf peeping driving tour through Litchfield County, Connecticut yesterday. It was lots of fun, and we ended up taking a lot of photos. It was a really beautiful day, and Sister K picked a great route that took us up into Cornwall, CT for a look at the Housatonic River and the West Cornwall covered bridge.

Covered bridge Lower River Rd

Covered bridge Housatonic River

Housatonic River Toll house

Covered bridge Covered bridge

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Movie reflections

I went to see An Education after work on Tuesday at the Coolidge Corner Cinema in Brookline. I love that theater, and they make awesome popcorn. I think that I cut my tongue though on a popcorn kernel because it feels like I have popcorn stuck in the back of my mouth and no amount of brushing or flossing is moving that sucker. Therefore, I think that I have a cut... or something.

ANYHOW, about the movie, believe the hype. This movie, in its understated indie way, is excellent, although it took me a day and a half of reflection to come up with that assessment. The film was much more character driven than plot, and there were all of these characters approaching this one situation with these varied viewpoints.

The story is this:
The 1960s were a time of change. So is life when you are 16. That combination propels An Education, set in London in 1961, and makes it an unforgettable coming-of-age story.Attractive, bright, 16-year-old Jenny is stifled by the tedium of adolescent routine; she can’t wait for adult life to begin. One rainy day her suburban existence is upended by the arrival of a much older suitor, David. Urbane and witty, David instantly charms Jenny and introduces her to a glittering new world of classical concerts, art auctions, smoky bars, and late-night suppers with his attractive friends. He replaces Jenny’s traditional education with his own more-dangerous version. Just as the family’s long-held dream of getting their brilliant daughter into Oxford has seemed within reach, Jenny is tempted by another kind of life. Will David be the making of Jenny, or her undoing?

In reviews I have read, there are a lot of comparisons between Carey Mulligan's character "Jenny" and "Holly Golightly", which I think is a mistake. Jenny and Holly couldn't be any more different if they tried. I do think that, as Jenny becomes more involved in David's world, she is channeling the style of a young Audrey Hepburn, but that is it. Jenny is her own self, trying to figure out her place in the world as she struggles with dichotomy presented by the opportunities David offers her and the "price" to be paid for them, which lays in conflict with her "bourgeois" values.

Dominic Cooper and Rosamund Pike are excellent as David (Peter Sarsgaard)'s friends, Danny and Helen, who epitomize the glamorous lifestyle that Jenny yearns for. They look fantastic, but underneath you can see that something is wrong with these people. They live in a world with fancy apartments, clothes, paintings, but something is off, and it makes them more interesting, especially as you realize that they are a huge part of Jenny's attraction to David's world. They claim they are looking out for Jenny, but are they? And what is the relationship between David and Danny really?

I always feel that Peter Sarsgaard plays a creep in movies; even if you like him at the start, there is something he is going to do in the story that is going to make you want to slug him in the nose by the end. Nothing new here. He is charming and does his best to charm Jenny and her parents, who are taken in by his car, his manners, and his "class". I understood why they all fell for him. The thing that wasn't clear to me was why he wanted to indoctrinate Jenny into his world in the first place. Is he a corrupter of youth, or instead does he want to reclaim that innocent excitement and response to his world that Jenny exhibits? Is David bored or disgusted with his life? That isn't clarified, but certainly, looking at it through Jenny's eyes would help make it appealing again.

I lovelovelove Carey Mulligan (from "Bleak House", "Northranger Abbey", "Doctor Who: Blink", etc.) and clearly the camera does too. (Maybe it is the dimples?) She holds her own in scenes with more seasoned actors like Emma Thompson and Olivia Williams (who is still rocking the "Dollhouse") and is such fun to watch with Rosamund Pike (her Pride and Prejudice big sister!) who cannot understand why Jenny wants to "read English books" at Oxford or spontaneously starts speaking French, but does have such fun dressing her up in her old clothes.

I said earlier on that it took me a day and a half of reflection to decide that I really enjoyed this film. The last film that made me feel like that was Rachel Getting Married. I am glad that they are making these wonderful films that don't hit us over the head with emotions, but make us think and work for them. There is something very satisfying about that.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Everything I know about lighthouses, I learned from Pete's Dragon

That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but the first place I learned about lighthouses was the Disney film Pete's Dragon, compliments of the "Wonderful World of Disney" on Sunday nights. (I loved the town's name, Passamaquoddy, and how the film's villain had a hard time pronouncing it.)

Last weekend, Sister K and I went for a walk with our aunt down on Harding's Beach in Chatham, and I took several photos of Stage Harbor light, which is no longer a working lighthouse (hence the lack of the actual light.) It was a beautiful, sunny, and really windy day, and a number of people were kite surfing. (You can see one of the kites in the second photo, the thing that looks like a bird.) The three of us got blown down the beach very well without kites.

Stage Harbor Light

Stage Harbor Light

Stage Harbor Light

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"If you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now, uh... Now you tell me what you know."

I have lived my entire life in New England, but this was the first year that I ever got to see a cranberry harvest! This particular bog, on Rte. 134 in Harwich, was being harvested this week, and, even though we got there towards the end of the harvest, there still were lots of cranberries left. It really was quite beautiful to see on a sunny fall day.

Cranberries for sale Cranberry bog

Cranberry bog Cranberry bog

Harvesting the cranberries Harvesting the cranberries

Harvesting the cranberries Cranberries for sale

Thanks to Groucho Marx's Animal Crackers for that "cranberry" quote in the title of today's post.

Friday, October 9, 2009

"Oh, there's no place like London"

One year ago today, Je Glide and I were in London.

I really wish we were going back this year. But even if I can't do that, I can still look through all my photos and remember a really fantastic time. (And there's always next year.)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Childhood loves

When I was a little kid, I got ear infections a lot. Not enough to have tubes, but enough that my mom didn't have to bring me to the pediatrician's office to get a prescription for ear drops. I even had my own special heating pad that I had to lie on with my sore ear. By the fourth grade, an in-school hearing test revealed that I had lost some of the low tones in my hearing.

Point being, I spent a lot of time in bed sick as a kid. Good thing I loved to read. And one of the things I really loved to read were the "Shoes" books by Noel Streatfeild. These books were about industrious kids in post-WWI or WWII England who, for one reason or another, found themselves in some sort of situation where they would become professional performers. There was Ballet Shoes, Dancing Shoes, Theater Shoes, Circus Shoes (shown here) and a ton of other ones that Dell Yearling published and sold to my parents (for me) at the local Caldor.

The one we never found on the shelves was Skating Shoes, which I really wanted to read, with my little Dorothy Hamill haircut and the Lake Placid Olympics not a too distant memory. But it was never there, so we never got it, and I never read it. The "Shoes" books kind of disappeared from the cultural consciousness - I guarantee my younger sisters didn't read them, even though they read the entire Baby Sitters Club collection. Meg Ryan's children's book shop owning character makes a quick reference to them in the film You Got Mail, and I know that several of my friends knew about them from their childhoods, but you couldn't find them in stores.

But lookee what I found today during a quick browse through the Shoes books are back - including Skating Shoes!! Hurrah!! I am going to finally get the chance to read it and save it on bookshelf I have created for the daughter I don't have (yet)!

It's the little things, people; it really is the little things.

(The image of the book is from Amazon. Doesn't the little girl really look English? I always thought so.)


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