May 13, 2017

Beauty and the Beast: Review

I don't know if this is true across the globe, but those new theater seats sure are comfy! You know the ones I'm talking about, the big leather recliners that are all plush and somehow aren't sticky with soda and popcorn? Yeah, those are cool!
Anyway, I got to sit in one of those when I saw Beauty and the Beast in a theater in March. It was on an especially large screen, and my family got there fashionably late so we only saw about 5 minutes of ads instead of the usual 20. So there were two pluses right off the bat!

But the movie itself was great too. True to the previous film (except for the giant elephant in the room, we'll touch on that later), beautiful costuming, and amazing technology. The feeling of fairytale France really came through, especially in the village scenes.

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Despite above appearances, this is NOT a remake of The Sound of Music. But based on this picture, you could've fooled me!
I think we all know the basic storyline, but allow me to refresh your memory: The Beast (aka Dan Stevens aka Mathew Crawley) was once a very vain prince who threw ostentatious parties where people put on cringe-worthy amounts of makeup on. At one of these balls, a woman comes in from a storm and asks for some shelter. The prince scoffs at her and throws her out, at which time the tech crew of the movie gleefully show off their first trick: she turns into a beautiful enchantress, who turns him into a beast, cursing him to stay that way until he finds true love. Everybody from the ballroom runs away, proving that he has no true friends. The servants turn into furniture, and the castle fades from memory (part of the spell).

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Meanwhile, Belle is getting tired of village life, and wishes there was more to read. The song she sings in the village is quite the number, and it's one of my favorite scenes. It's not even sung incredibly well, but the amount of things to look at is astounding!

And then there's Gaston. Readers, I must admit that I really almost liked Gaston in the beginning, almost rooting for him. I mean, at the start he's just a confident guy, more interested in being outside and hunting than academia. And he gives her flowers! As confident as he is, I really think he likes Belle in this movie, whereas in the cartoon it seemed more prevalent that he wanted Belle as another "trophy".

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See?? He gives her really nice flowers too! And the Lydia Bennet in me likes his hunting frock, ok?

Belle will not have him, however. Gaston's confidence is somewhat shaken, but not for long. While he forms Plan B, Belle's father takes a business trip which does not end well. At all. After losing his way and being attacked by terrifying wolves, he manages to stumble upon the long-forgotten castle of the Beast, where the Beast finds and imprisons him for trespassing and stealing (a rose). Phillipe, the faithful horse, gallops back to town to find Belle. Together they go back to the castle, where Belle, seeing her father in failing health in a cold dungeon, freely changes places with him. 

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Things can only look up, and they do. It's a long and beautifully detailed story so I won't describe it all to you, but with a lot of help from the furniture, Belle and the Beast slooowly fall in love. Belle does try to escape at first, but the Beast saves her life from the wolves, and Belle nurses him back to health (he got really beaten up from the awful creatures). This is the first point in the movie where Mathew Crawley starts poking through for me. It's kind of hard to see it, seeing as he is a beast and they lowered his voice artificially, but certain mannerisms and inflections start coming through. The Beast is behaving more like a gentleman! 

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Of course, things have been going too well for too long in the story, so it's time to bring trouble back into it. Belle's father comes into the village tavern where everyone is celebrating Gaston's greatness, and begs them to help free Belle from a beast in a castle. Everyone laughs at him, but Gaston decides to help him, thinking he'll get to marry Belle in return for his aid. But the journey to the castle is long and dangerous, and after getting a firm "no" on marrying Belle, Gaston patience is at an end. He ties Belle's father to a tree and drives off. I no longer like Gaston, you see. 

Meanwhile, Belle and the Beast have their iconic dance in the ballroom. (Belle's dress is rather underwhelming if you ask me, but whatever.) The Beast then allows Belle to see the room with the enchanted rose and mirror. The mirror can take them any place in the world, so together they travel to Belle's birthplace, where the audience discovers the sad truth of her mother's fate. Belle then uses the mirror to find her father. When she discovers what happened to him, the Beast, in love, allows her to find him. And that, my friends, is where our heartstrings pull.

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Belle rushes into town and shows the villagers that the Beast is real through the mirror. They don't react the way Belle thought, however. Instead of releasing Maurice, they lock both Belle and him up, and form a hunting party to kill the Beast. Led by (you guessed it) Gaston.
What follows is the climax of the film; Belle and her father escapes, the furniture defends the castle from the villagers, and Gaston seeks out the Beast, who is too sad over losing Belle to care. But then Belle comes back just in time, the Beast wins, and Gaston loses. Big time.

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Now that it is evident that Belle and the Beast love each other, the spell is broken! Right? Not right. Or at least, not right away. By the time the Beast dies, the last petal has fallen on the rose. One by one the enchanted furniture becomes totally lifeless. And it's super sad, because the servants are now presumably dead. Even the beautiful furniture they inhabited is left out in the rain.
But the enchantress has mysteriously appeared, and once she sees that Belle loves the Beast, she reverses the spell, and all is well. Then the castle becomes beautiful again, and all of the enchanted furniture becomes human. This is probably my favorite special effects part of the movie; it's so cool to see the castle be transformed!  I can't find any good pictures of the castle, but here's something else you'll like:
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The last scene is the beautiful wedding dance:
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So there you have it! I definitely think this movie is worth watching, despite what you've probably heard about LeFou being gay. Yeah, it's squirm-worthy at times, and it's not always terribly subtle. But I like to think of it this way: have we seen movies where two straight people have had sex outside of marriage? I have: Downton Abbey and Northanger Abbey are two examples. In fact, I can't think of a single movie where sin hasn't been involved. That would simply be unrealstic! However, does this mean that I watch these movies for the sin, or to see adultery? Absolutely not! So while we may not agree with the values peppered into this film, I believe that we can still see it in good conscience.

Have you seen Beauty and the Beast animated or live action? What do you think?
What do you think about the messages in this movie? Is there a reason you're not going to see it? (Don't worry I won't yell at you if you don't like what I said!)

April 21, 2017

Tag Time

6 more weeks of school.
                       6 more weeks of school.
                                                  6 more weeks of school.
This is by far the most prominent thought on my mind right now, and will be for the next..oh..6 weeks? ;)
Anyway, ready for another tag everyone? I've been tagged by Hamlette. It's all about books and reading, and therefore quite fun to fill out! :)

1. What book has been on your shelf the longest?
I've had a lot of books cycle in and out of my shelves over the years, so it's hard to say which is the oldest one. One that has consistently been on the shelf though, is "A is for Abigail" which is nice, 'cause that's my name! :)

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"Abigail" as in "Abigail Adams, who I really like.

I got this book for my 6th birthday. I love it because it has great illustrations and lots of interesting history. It's also pro-women without being whiny or anti-men.

2. What is your current read, your last read, and the book you'll read next?
I picked up a children's book called "Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt" from a little free library. It was about a slave girl who learned to sew, and made a quilt that was actually a map for slaves to escape. It was well-written and illustrated, and had a happy ending, so I can't ask for more! :)

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Right now I'm reading "The Penderwicks in Spring" and "The Heirloom Murders". "The Penderwicks in Spring" is more of a kid's novel, but I remember enjoying the first books in the series and couldn't resist seeing how it ended. But honestly it's making me feel kind of sad, because the first book focused on the two oldest sisters (of four) and now they're grown up to be the same age as me and this new book focuses on the youngest, who was four in the first book and now is eleven. It makes me feel all old and grown up, and I miss reading about the older sisters! 
"The Heirloom Murders" is also part of a series, involving a woman who works in historic preservation (like I want to!), and ends up getting involved in murders at living history museums. Think Nancy Drew plus my life plans, and you've got a great series! :) 

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What will I read next? Well, I just bought a book called "The Victoria Letters", so probably that. Unless I get distracted by something else. (I will get distracted by something else.)

3. What book did everyone like, but you hated?
Given that they're "classic" literature,  I'd say that these books are well-liked (though not many people in my school liked them!): "The Things They Carried", "Of Mice and Men", and "A Streetcar Named Desire". No thank you!

4. What book do you keep on telling yourself you'll read, but you probably won't?
I am still young and naiive enough to believe that I will read every book I want to, so there's no easy answer to this question. :P I'm guessing there will be some classic work of literature that I'll never get to read (books in heaven though?). 

5. What book are you saving for retirement?
I've never thought about this before! Probably a lot of historical biographies and other non-fiction that I'm too "carpe diem" to bother with now. 

6. Last page: read it first, or wait 'til the end?
Wait 'til the end, although I am often a hypocrite on this point. :P Especially if I'm partway through and really love a character and care about their in the last page. 

7. Ackknowledgement: waste of paper and ink, or interesting aside?
Interesting aside, when the author or story is interesting. I tend to read it last, though.

8. Which book character would you switch places with?
Catherine Morland of "Northanger Abbey"

Austen Heroines: Felicity Jones, Catherine Morland - Northanger Abbey directed by Jon Jones (TV, 2007) #janeausten:

9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life? (Place, time, person?) 
The series I'm reading right now (ie The Heirloom Murders) have a lot of situations that are really relatable and familiar to my work as a historic interpreter. It's so crazy and fun to see specific situations that I've been through pop up in a book! 

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This is the first one I read, and it takes place at Laura Ingall's houses!
10. Name a book that you have acquired in an interesting way.
I won a giveaway on Heather Vogel Frederick's website, who wrote some of my favorite books. I got a signed copy of "Absolutely Truly", which was great! I also got two lovely books from the Jane Austen blog celebration this year. 

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11. Have you ever given a book away for a special reason to a special person?
No, I don't recall doing that. Now I feel like a selfish book-hoarder. :/

12. Which book has been with you most places?
Pretty much all my books stay at home with me...I suppose I have taken some to work, but rarely beyond that.

13. Any "required reading" that you hated in high school that wasn't so bad later?
I'm still in high school, so there's nothing I've read here that I've changed my opinion on. I will say that though I've certainly never hated reading the Bible, I've come to enjoy it a lot more in the last year or so, and I get a lot more out of it than before.

14. Used or brand new?
Definitely....both. :P The real question is which smell better: new or used? To which the answer is still a definite "both"!

15. Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?
*looks up Dan Brown* Nope!

16. Have you ever seen a movie you liked more than the book?
Yeah, probably Little Women. It's a great book, but an even greater movie. Or at least, the story is amplified through the film, and the book is improved when I read it with the film's images in mind.

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17. Have you ever read a book that's made you hungry, cookbooks included?
"Pancakes, Pancakes!" by Eric Carle. I haven't read that book since I was like 5, but mmm I still remember wanting pancakes after I read it!

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18. Who is the person whose book advice you'll always take?
My mom's. :)

19. Is there a book out of your comfort zone (e.g. out of your usual reading genre) that you ended up loving?
My normal genres are classic literature and historical fiction, so the thought of reading a book on political theory wasn't on the top of my list. But after I read "The Road to Serfdom", my views on history, government, humanity...pretty much everything either changed or were validated. It's a pretty short book (more like a pamphlet, really), so I highly suggest reading it!

Now the rules say that I have to tag at least four people. Well perhaps I'm a terrible blogger, but let me put it this way: I'm pretty sure more than four people will read this post so...anyone who hasn't been tagged, you're it! If you want to be it, that is. ;) 

April 8, 2017

My Return From Life and a Tag

Hey there! It's been a while, hasn't it? *checks post history* Ok, so more than a while. I guess I've got some explaining to do:

What the authoress has been up to:

. Playing violin in four performances of "On the Town".
. Getting the flu for a week, and missing most of school.
. Fighting an uphill battle with senioritis, made worse by said missed school.
. Getting 4 wisdom teeth pulled out on the first day of spring break
. Having little inspiration/energy to blog, yet watching quite a few movies, such as:

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Florence Foster Jenkins. I have mixed feelings on this one. 
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Beauty and the Beast. Don't approve of everything in there, but still an amazing movie!

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Ever After: so lovely!

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Cinderella: I needed to see this again, and loved it!
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A Little Chaos. Do not be deceived by the picture, I actually didn't like this movie!
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War and Peace: 8 hours in 2 days. This one did something to me, for sure. 
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The Pianist. A Holocaust movie that will change the way you think about the world. 

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Bridge of Spies
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The Bronte Sisters

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The Young Victoria, which I had to see after watching Victoria. ;) 
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Amazing Grace. LOVE this movie!

Now I know you're probably thinking I'm a lazy bum/couch potato who doesn't do homework or even blogging! But I should point out that a. I was an invalid for 2 weeks with my flu and wisdom teeth, and b. now I have a lot of reviews to blog about! ;)

Next time, I'll try to post a literary tag that Hamlette kindly shared with me. Until then, toodle-oo!

Which of these movies have you seen?
Which movie do you especially want a review of?
Have you had your wisdom teeth out?
Are you suffering from senioritis? 

March 14, 2017

A Letter to Pi

Dear π,
While millions compare you to a delicious round of pastry, while so many dedicate a day to you alone, and while crowds idolize you to the point of attempting to memorize your endless swirl of obscure numbers, you ought to know that you are not as special as you suppose to be. So you're an irrational number, so what? So you work with circles, so what? There are hundreds, no thousands (at least!) of other values that are just as important as you, yet you demand an entire day, nay, betimes an entire math unite to you "awe-inspiring" qualities! Well, listen up, π! Your days are numbered! We other numbers demand our share of value and attention! Beware: step down or we will send 7 (who, as you know, ate 9) to you!
√, ∞, etc.

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March 2, 2017

A Prayer in Spring

Last week there were kids in shorts at school. We got to have some of our classes outside. I took a walk outside and saw tulip sprouts and snowdrops in bloom. And that was February.

My life in the woods:

Now that it is March, we have nearly a foot of snow on the ground, and school got out early because of the slippery roads.
Anyway, as life is quite hectic as of now, (my school's musical opens tonight!) I must leave you with a poem. I promise it's a lovely one! :)

A Prayer in Spring
Robert Frost

Oh give us pleasure in the flowers today,
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest, keep us here 
All simply in the springing of the year.


Oh give us pleasure in the orchard white
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts at night,
And make us happy in the happy bees
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees. 

All Things Shabby and Beautiful:

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

This is a Robin Red Breast. They frequent my garden to enjoy the apple's I put down. They have very good manners with all the other birds.:

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill. 

February 18, 2017

The Jane Austen Handbook: a Review

First of all, greetings from a very cheerful writer! It is unseasonably warm where I live right now: all of the snow is melting and it feels like spring, which I love. We usually don't get much spring around here; just a cold, slowly dying winter that goes straight to summer. After weeks of clouds, the sun is shining, and there's something about sunlight/sudden warm weather that makes one's house one's house. I'm not sure if it's the particular kind of dust in here or what, but the smell of "home" is strong today. Anybody know what I'm talking about? Anyone at all?

Williamsburg Virginia by Olahs Photography:
My guess is that we'll get a foot of snow after this week and we'll be cold through Easter. :( But my blog is changing to spring for March, no matter the weather!
I know this is the 4th post this week, and with everyone posting so much this time of year, it can seem like there's an information overload! But I am just too excited to share with you The Jane Austen Handbook by Margaret Sullivan. This review is inspired by Hamlette's I Love Austen Week (which if you haven't heard about yet, you have some catching up to do!).

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I got this book for my 15th birthday, and I doubt that even the perils of weeding through/condensing my books for college will convince me to part with it. It is split into four sections that cover status, inheritance, everyday activities, romance, and social gatherings. There is quite a bit of regency history in this book, but it is presented in such a charming way, one has no idea how much one is learning until the end! 

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The writing is witty, and emulates Jane Austen's style without exactly copying her. The titles to each 1-5 page section are often funny, like "How to Marry Off Your Daughter" or "How to Elope to Scotland". There are plenty of references to Jane Austen's books throughout the piece, both obvious and sly. It was fun to catch all the references and match them to the right book.

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This is from a section titled "How to Attend a Ball"

There are dozens of cute pictures and diagrams throughout the book, adding to its plentiful charm. Overall, this is a great book for anyone interested in a light read, laughs, and learning all in one!

February 14, 2017

Sunshine Blogger Award

Miss March of Sunshiny Corner has tagged, awarded, bestowed on me the great and honorable Sunshine Blogger Award! Which is quite perfect, if you think about it; the lady from Sunshiny corner is giving out sunshine awards. So thank you, Miss March! Some sunshine is greatly appreciated on these gloomy February days!

1. What was the last book you read?
Heh, well I just read two Calvin and Hobbes comic books...and two children's books before that! The last actual book I read was I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend, a reread for sure, but a delightful one!

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The cover's a bit meh on accuracy, but what's inside is wonderful!
2. On a typical evening at home, what are you most often found doing: reading a book, watching a movie, playing games with your siblings, twiddling your thumbs-what?
Mmmm let's see, I often read and go on Pinterest and watch Youtube, listen to music, and have an awful lot of fun frittering away time until it's almost bedtime and all of the sudden I have all these wonderful, purposeful ideas, not to mention any homework that I postpone until then.

Beautiful Autochrome:
But you see, this is what I fritter my time away with: learning from beautiful images like this!

3. You have the choice of being an only child or having 20 siblings. Which do you choose?
Man, 20?? I would definitely say yes to 10, but 20 is really really high! I would really miss the companionship and fun of siblings if I were an only child (just think of what you could do with that many people!) but I do like my fair share of attention and privacy. I'm going to have to go with only-child...with a lot of cousins! :)

The Yellow Dress - John Bulloch Souter:

4. Do you prefer bike riding or walking?
Walking, in general. Hills are not my friend when biking. :P Plus you don't typically fall and sprain anything when walking. Typically.

Pride & Prejudice (1995) This is a beautiful scene and dress!:
5. If you had to create your own family made up of characters from literature (or film) who would you choose to have as your father? As your mother? Choose a brother and a sister too, just for the fun of it! :)
I would like Pa Ingalls to be my pa, or maybe the reformed Captain von Trapp.  And Mrs. Bennet to be my mother. ;P Umm or maybe Ma Ingalls or Maria. After you choose a father, it's hard to imagine them without their wife. I would like Jane or Elizabeth Bennet or Jo March as a sister. As for a brother, I would like Peter Pevensie from Narnia, or Mr. Darcy in a purely fraternal way. Like if I were Georgianna, I think Mr. Darcy (or Mr. Tilney for that matter) would be excellent brothers. As you can see, I have not stuck to a single person for anyone in this crazy literary family. Maybe 20 siblings wasn't such a bad idea...


6. Did you ever receive money under your pillow after losing a tooth?
Not after every tooth, but sometimes there would be a quarter in a little pillow-ornament thingy that would hang by my bed. It was made specifically for that purpose! And once the tooth fairy left me a message about how she was happy to see I was a good little girl. And she did it in teeny, tiny handwriting on a post-it note. #parentinggoals.

7. What's your favorite color?
Huh! Must you even ask? ;) It's Lavender!


8. Would you rather wash dishes or iron clothes?
Ugh, wash dishes I guess. If I had music playing it wouldn't be so bad.

I'd actually like washing dishes in this kitchen!
9. What is your opinion on zoos? Interesting or boring?
A good zoo is definitely interesting, given that we don't spend hours there. Like I did on some class field trips. But you see, I understand those who wish to spend all day at the zoo, as I am like that about history/art museums.

happiest picture ever.:

10. Growing up, did you have a favorite doll? What was her name?
Yes. Her name was (is) Felicity Merriman, and she's a sprightly, spirited girl growing up at the time of the American Revolution in Williamsburg Virginia. Felicity has beautiful colonial clothing that inspired one little girl to have a career in history.

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Just look at that cardinal red cloak!

Thanks again, Miss March! :) Have a lovely day, everyone!