Friday, April 29, 2011

A Royal Wedding Celebration

This probably won't come as a surprise to anyone, I took today off to get up early (4am) and celebrate the royal wedding. Two of my friends, MEM & JR, slept over in order to be there when the festivities began, and we were later joined by Marta, who came directly from Logan having taken a red eye from Vegas. (Hard core fans, us.)

Over the course of the morning, we had tea and scones and (cup)cakes and champers (bellinis). We laughed; we teared up; we cheered for the happy couple. We also were DVRing the coverage and rewatched our favourite bits. [We all agreed that Kate's dress was gorgeous- simple, elegant, tasteful, while Princess Beatrice's hat was a seriously unfortunate choice.]

The music during the ceremony was beautiful. I hope they are releasing a soundtrack of their wedding music. It would be guaranteed to reach #1 on iTunes. (ETA: looks like they had the same idea.) Props to BBC America for showing the BBC live feed without any commercials. That was GREATLY appreciated by our viewing party. (Also appreciated not hearing trite American media commentary on the wedding.)

Me being me, I totally got into decorating for the party. I printed off a bunch of different things from links sent to me by friends who know I am a Royal-holic coupled with a couple of ideas of my own.


Monday, April 25, 2011

"My castle, my rules."*

The rules for watching The King's Speech at Sister K's house this weekend were as follows:
1. there is no talking
2. there is no pausing for a history lesson
3. and most importantly, there is no "Name that Brit".
All that being understood, she hit "play".
Then less than a minute into the film, Adrian Scarborough appeared playing a BBC announcer, and my mom asked where she has seen him recently. ("He's the butler in the new 'Upstairs Downstairs'." "Oh, yes.")

(Hilarious) bedlam ensued.

(Later in the film, Sister K called Timothy Spall, who is playing Winston Churchill, "Wormtail", and I felt better.)

* The King's Speech

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"Curiouser and curiouser"*

On Sunday, RJ and I went to the Museum of Fine Arts to see the new Dale Chihuly exhibit, entitled Chihuly: Through the Looking Glass. I have been a fan of Chihuly's work since the 1990s when I saw an exhibit of his sea forms, but this was RJ's first exposure to his work. The intense colors of the glass is the big draw for me, but I also love the fluidity in his studio's work. As RJ noted, some of it really looks like it could be alive... and slithering.

The exhibit is a collection of really different kinds of pieces (baskets, mille fiore, chandeliers, sea forms) from the last 30+ years. I loved the flow of the exhibit; the MFA did a great job putting it together. And I was so pleased for the museum because there was a really great turnout for this on a sunny-ish Sunday afternoon with the Sox playing at home.

Now, normally, I would not have taken photos of an exhibit at a museum, but there were TONS of people with cameras openly taking pictures, so I threw my cares to the wind and started snapping away. (No, I didn't - I took these photos very surreptitiously because I thought I was going to get snagged by a vigilant docent.)
Chihuly: Through the Looking Glass
Chihuly: Through the Looking Glass Chihuly: Through the Looking Glass
Chihuly: Through the Looking Glass

Gorgeous, don't you think? (And you don't have to pay extra to see it; it is part of the general admission!)

We also made our inaugural visit to the new Art of the Americas wing of the museum. We both loved it. In particular, I loved the room full of paintings of the early American presidents, but there is also a Winslow Homer room and a room full of Hudson River school painters. While plenty of old favorites were back up on the wall, like Childe Hassam's Boston Common at Twilight, there were a lot of new things to see, despite my frequent visits over the last 15 years. I definitely will be going back soon to spend more time there.

*quote from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Counting down to the big day!

I met my friend DM out for dinner in Harvard Square last night. (I always forget how much fun Harvard Square is! It isn't just for tourists.) Afterwards, we were walking around and passed by Cardullo's. There is a great display case in the window for the royal wedding.

I need to start planning what I am going to serve at my Royal Wedding viewing party! (Something that is easy to deal with at 5:00 a.m.!)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

"Charleston, Charleston, Made in Carolina"*

One of my absolutely favorite cities in the United States is Charleston, SC. I was there for a long weekend at Easter about five years ago and fell head over heels in love with the city. The architecture, the history, the food: it was all completely wonderful. We explored the Battery, took the boat out to Fort Sumter, and shopped in the city market. (I only wish I had been camera girl back then, although I probably would have been taking photos non-stop, which isn't that much fun for my traveling companions.) Sister K and I even went on a twilight ghost tour, which totally scared me into a completely sleepless night. (Turns out Charleston is one of the most haunted cities in America.)

Which leads me to my subject: author Karen White has released two books about haunted Charleston (with a third book to come out this fall) that are a lot of fun to read. The first one is The House on Tradd Street; its sequel is The Girl on Legare Street. The heroine of these stories is one Melanie Middleton: a successful realtor in her late thirties, single, utterly Type A, wicked sugar junkie, and inclined to see ghosts (which is unfortunate when you sell old houses in one of the most haunted cities in America.)

The first book begins with Melanie inheriting a neglected historical house on Tradd Street from an eccentric Charlestonian, with the caveat that she has to renovate it and live in it for a year before she can sell it. With her alcoholic father as the trustee and her architectural preservationist best friend insisting on using antiquated methods to restore the house, Melanie has her hands full, and that is before she realizes she isn't the only one "living" in the house. Enter Jack Trenholm, historical novelist (and the son of "Mellie's" mother's best friend), who comes to Melanie's aid researching the history of the house and trying to solve its mysteries. The second book picks up as Melanie's long estranged mother returns to Charleston to buy back the old family home when it comes on the market. The house on Legare Street is not only full of spirits, but secrets as well. It is up to Melanie, Jack, and an assortment of Charleston locals to solve the mystery there before someone else loses their life.

As I mentioned, these books are really fun to read. They have got a little something for everyone: a little mystery, a little romance, a little history, and a little humor. White does a great job recreating the feel of Charleston without drowning the story in description. The mysteries are clever, but are not too complicated, and the pacing of the stories is spot on. The characters are really well drawn, even the minor ones. (Melanie's secretary is obsessed with golf, and regularly Melanie comes upon her practicing her putting in the lobby.) Best of all: Melanie and Jack have a terrific flirty banter that recalls the "will they?/won't they?" of some of the best sitcom couples.

My mom had introduced these books to me because she noticed that I have several interesting bits of overlap with the main character, other than our first name. (There is nothing wrong with being well organized!!);-) With the anniversary of the start of the Civil War this week, I started thinking about them and bought copies for my Kindle. It has been great rereading them, and, unlike my actual visit to Charleston, these ghosts haven't given me any nightmares!

*Charleston, written by Cecil Mack and James P. Johnson

Monday, April 11, 2011

You found it okay?

So here I am in my new space on the web.  It looks an awful lot like the old space, I know, but the most important part is the name: BBCAmericanGirl.  That is me on Twitter and Flickr and is now me on Blogger.

Thanks for making the change, or if you're a new reader, thanks for stopping by!  Lots of new entries are being planned and should be making their debuts soon.  In the meantime, the back log from Diet Coke Addict is here for your reading pleasure!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lines Written in Early Spring*

Today happens to be the birthday of William Wordsworth (born 1770.) He is one of my favorite poets (although I am sure Byron, Shelley, and Coleridge would not be impressed with me for saying so.)

When I was in the eight grade, our "reading" teacher (because English still focused on grammar and spelling at that point) did a whole section on poetry. We had to memorize several poems of our own choosing to recite in front of the class, and we had to create an illustrated anthology of poems on a theme. It was around that time that I really began to take an interest in poetry. This was definitely spurred on by the soundtrack to the tv show "Beauty and the Beast", which had a significant number of tracks of Ron Pearlman reading poetry. (I loved the first two seasons of that show.)

The general public probably know William Wordsworth best for his poem, Daffodils, which begins:
I wander'd lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
But I prefer his poem about the city, Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802:
Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!
Several years ago, a film called Pandaemonium about the friendship of Wordsworth and Coleridge was released. John Hannah played Wordsworth, and Linus Roche played Coleridge. It isn't particularly historically accurate, but I thought it was entertaining (even though it makes Wordsworth out to be a competitive jerk who spoiled Kubla Khan for Coleridge.) I liked it on principle because I think that it is important to make films about people who create art.

*Lines Written in Early Spring is another poem by Wordsworth

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"It is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame."*

First off, a big congratulations to the UCONN men's basketball team on their third NCAA championship!!! Well done, Huskies! I am looking forward to enjoying a proper bedtime now that the "hoopla" of March Madness is over. (pun intended - WAH WAAAAH!)

Right, **SPOILERS** ahead, although as the book was written 164 years ago, if you don't know this story by now, probably aren't reading this blog anyhow.

On Sunday, "Miss Post" and I saw Cary Fukunaga's film of Jane Eyre. Before we went, I rewatched a couple of old versions of Jane Eyre (the Samantha Morton/Ciaran Hinds one and the Toby Stephens/Ruth Wilson one) for comparison's sake. The Zefferelli version with Charlotte Gainsbourg and William Hurt is permanently imprinted in my mind, so I didn't need to rewatch that one.

I liked the new version a lot, and it has a lot of good things going for it: great cast, gorgeous costumes (I want Jane's paisley shawl from the end), amazing scenery, and a beautiful score by Dario Marianelli, who did the score to Pride and Prejudice (2005). The film was very moody, and I felt it did a great job capturing the bleakness and solitude of living on the moors of Yorkshire. I thought that the cast also did a great job of conveying their loneliness, their longing, and their inner passion in the face of a repressive and (at times ambiguously) moral society.

Mia Wasikowska (who was brilliant in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland) strikes the perfect balance between Jane's shy, proper reserve and her inner passion. Sometimes adult Jane gets played a little too wishy-washy for my taste (Morton), but Wasikowska does a great job with this. Michael Fassbender's Rochester is sheer intensity, with a fierceness and cruelty to his wit. (Stephens played the part more sardonically; Fassbender is just mean.) When he is first introduced, he is definitely unattractive in his unlikeablity, but he starts to soften as the movie unfolds. The two leads have a good chemistry together (I had read some reviews stating otherwise). In particular, in the scene where Rochester gets Jane to help him with Mason after the attack, I felt like they were no longer two individuals, but a team. (Yay, Team Rochester!) Judi Dench was a very likeable Mrs. Fairfax, and Jamie Bell was very serious as St. John Rivers (I was concerned about the casting of both of those parts. Bell was perhaps a little too serious.) The Rivers' part of the story didn't get truncated the way it has been in other versions, which was good. It is as an important part of Jane's development as the red room and Lowood School.

My biggest complaint: by keeping to a 120 minute running time (with credits), things got cut, and because of that, some parts of the story moved far too fast. I find it interesting that they didn't add in even 10 minutes of incidents in the development of Jane and Rochester's relationship, which was shortchanged. A key part of the novel is Rochester's baiting of Jane, or, as Miss Post and I put it, "I love you so much; I am going to tell you that I am marrying someone else. Are you jealous? Are you miserable? APRIL FOOL!!"

I feel that 2011's Jane Eyre is to 2005's Pride & Prejudice as 2006's "Jane Eyre" is to 1995's "Pride & Prejudice". A beautiful piece to be sure, but an incomplete realization of the novel. The core audience for this movie will sit and watch a six hour miniseries on PBS or BBC video; they'd sit for 10 more minutes in a movie theater. (Even with the person who was sitting next to me doing her best impression of Catherine Morland reading The Mysteries of Udolpho. Lady, it wasn't that scary. Seriously.) I definitely will be adding this one to my collection, and I also think that a second viewing on the big screen might be in order.

*My favorite line of Jane Eyre (the imagery just gets me):
"Because, I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you- especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boisterous channel, and two hundred miles or so of land some broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion will be snapt; and then I've a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly. As for you, - you'd forget me."

"That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet"*

The weather has been so gloomy and rainy the last two days. I could use a little floral pick me up, and I thought I'd share (well, as much as I can on the internet.) These blooms were all in the Mable Ringling rose garden in Sarasota, FL.

Mable Ringling rose garden
Mable Ringling rose garden
Mable Ringling rose gardenMable Ringling rose garden

*Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare


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