Monday, September 19, 2011

Review: The Pageant of Georgian England by Elizabeth Burton

I was bored, having a Jane Austen/Regency craving, and at the library. I have, of course, read Jane Austen’s novels several times over, and find Georgette Heyer to be infinitely boring. (Really, after a while the characters start running together. Independent female lead who is quite witty meets rakish but otherwise good natured male lead. Throw in some hot headed young heiress and her lover. Add a few quirky family members. Hilarity Ensues.) So, I started looking through the books about England. And it was in the travel section, of all places, I found this book. I figured I would give it a try, if nothing else. I was pleasantly surprised.

Keeping in mind the book was written in the 60’s, and most likely some of the information has been found to be inaccurate at this point, I still found the book both informative and entertaining. Burton has a light-hearted style that keeps the book from becoming merely “a history book”. And certainly one can’t imagine her droning on in a monotone on the subject. In fact, the book reads less like a lecture and more like a conversation. She makes snarky comments about the scandals of the nobility, which gave me the idea of Regency Reality TV, Just Add Hot Tub. Sometimes she’ll be discussing one person, and mention that they’ve met this other famous person in a rather nonsequitur aside. This is common in regular conversation, especially if the person talking is easily distracted. She has copious footnotes that give brief explanations without overwhelming the text. All this did was leave me wanting to learn more.

Another strength of this book is that it focuses more on minutiae, little details. The first chapter is a general overview of the Georgian period but the rest details various aspects of day to day life: the various types of housing, decorations, medicine, etc. Most appropriately it ends with gardening, the crowning glory of the English. I found this chapter most interesting, especially with regards to landscaping and improving, which was a big topic in my favorite Austen novel, Mansfield Park. The paragraphs on Repton also put Henry Crawford and Mr. Rushworth in a clearer context. If I understand Ms. Burton aright, Repton would have found both to be rather silly (mostly Rushworth).

It was a fun read overall, and I’m thinking of reading the other books in her series. She has written about the Elizabethan and Stuart eras. But that won’t be till I’m done with my other five hundred books.

Also, Happy Talk Like A Pirate Day

Has anyone noticed Will is a fop?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Review: Cowboys and Aliens

I am not a typical female. When Dale and I go on a date, I do not want to go see some sappy movie in which female lead and male lead dance around each other for 2 hours until they declare their love in a heartwarming/amusing way, and then the bells ring and everyone smiles. Most of the time those movies bore me to tears. This is a good thing, though. Dale and I can enjoy the same movies. So, naturally, we went to see "Cowboys and Aliens", because that's a good romantic movie for our fifth anniversary, right?

After sitting through five hours of previews (I exaggerate, but really Rave Motion Pictures, how many previews do you need to show before starting the movie??), Dale and I realized we had run out of Coke right before the movie started (that was Dale's fault). So Dale missed the beginning but there wasn't much to miss, since our poor woobie protagonist was just as confused as we were.

The movie follows the hero's journey of Jake, last name difficult to spell, who has a typical Western movie name. He wakes up in the middle of the desert, bloodied and wounded, with some weird metal device attached to his wrist. As this is the Old West, there was no cry of "OMGALIEN", but much about "OMGDEMON". After dealing with some guys who decide he must be an escaped convict (dealing with = killing them and taking their horse and their dog), he wanders into a nearby town (which I believe is called Absolution) and makes friends with the preacher, a.k.a. The Wise Old Mentor Figure. There are some serious gaps in his memory, which he realizes when the sheriff decides to arrest him as a convict who robbed the stagecoach of the erstwhile army colonel Harrison Ford (becoming gruffer by the year-because, according to Mayor Thodos, he is old and he hurts). Between being arrested, dealing with Colonel McGruffMan's whiny son, and having some strange girl come up and rattle off cryptic things at him, he has his hands full.

Then the "demons" show up and start abducting people via grappling hooks.

So all must team together to stop these "demons", and learn about themselves and have their character arcs.

Honestly, it was a great movie. It was a little cheesy, which is what one would expect from a movie called "Cowboys and Aliens", but it wasn't nearly as cheesy as I expected, and it actually had a decent plot. The aliens were all right, but creepier when they weren't shown. They looked like the lovechildren of Battle Toads and District 9 aliens. Some of it made me wonder (so why do the aliens have to use grappling hooks?) and some of it made me laugh (the alien's eyes bugging out like a frog's...OH THE LULZ), but it was good fun overall.


They call them demons, but really...

Go see that movie. And avoid scary hair guy. (Clearly he works for the Shadows.)