… let’s celebrate! Here’s a goodie for you:
or, I Might Be Mean, But Other People Are Even Meaner ;-P
I really like Katy Towell’s style of illustration, and all of her short films are nicely spooky and deal with very strange little girls. More scary stuff of hers can be found on skary.net
I’m currently reading THE NEWCOMES by Thackeray in preparation for the seminar I’m going to teach this summer. I’ve found that reading and writing Regency-set historicals is a great help when it comes to reading Thackeray: THE NEWCOMES start in the 1820s and there are four-in-hand races, gentlemen’s clubs with bay windows, boxing, and other such lovely things. Indeed, I felt at home straight away! *g*
Thackeray’s writing, his subtle wit and irony, are simply delicious. Let me give you an example:
Julia says, that she had but that moment read in the Brighton papers the arrival of the Earl of Kew and the Honourable J. Belsize at the Albion.
“I am sure they are here for some mischief,” cries the old lady [i.e. Lady Kew, Kew’s grandmother], delighted. “Whenever George and John Belsize are together, I know there is some wickedness planning. What do you know, Doctor? I see by your face you know something. Do tell it me, that I may write it to his odious psalm-singing mother.”
Doctor H.’s face does indeed wear a knowing look. He simpers and says, “I did see Lord Kew driving this morning, first with the Honourable Mr. Belsize, and afterwards”–here he glances towards Lady Julia, as if to say, “Before an unmarried lady, I do not like to tell your ladyship with whom I saw Lord Kew driving, after he had left the Honourable Mr. Belsize, who went to play a match with Captain Huxtable at tennis.”
“Are you afraid to speak before Julia?” cries the elder lady. “Why, bless my soul, she is forty years old, and has heard everything that can beheard. Tell me about Kew this instant, Doctor H.”
The Doctor blandly acknowledges that Lord Kew had been driving Madame Pozzoprofondo [= “deep well”], the famous contralto of the Italian Opera, in his phaeton, for two hours, in the face of all Brighton.
“Yes, Doctor,” interposes Lady Julia, blushing; “but Signor Pozzoprofondo was in the carriage too–a-a-sitting behind with the groom. He was indeed, mamma.”
“Julia, vous n’etes qu’une panache,” says Lady Kew, shrugging her shoulders, and looking at her daughter from under her bushy black eyebrows. Her ladyship, a sister of the late lamented Marquis of Steyne, possessed no small share of the wit and intelligence, and a considerable resemblance to the features, of that distinguished nobleman.
Lady Kew bids her daughter take a pen and write:–“Monsieur le Mauvais Sujet,–Gentlemen who wish to take the sea air in private, or to avoid their relations, had best go to other places than Brighton, where their names are printed in the newspapers. If you are not drowned in a pozzo–“
“Mamma!” interposes the secretary.
“–in a pozzo-profondo, you will please come to dine with two old women, at half-past seven. You may bring Mr. Belsize, and must tell us a hundred stories.–Yours,
etc., L. Kew.”
Julia wrote all the letter as her mother dictated it, save only one sentence, and the note was sealed and despatched to my Lord Kew, who came to dinner with Jack Belsize. Jack Belsize liked to dine with Lady Kew. He said, “she was an old dear, and the wickedest old woman in all England;” and he liked to dine with Lady Julia, who was “a poor suffering dear, and the best woman in all England.” Jack Belsize liked every one, and every one liked him.
And as I’ve enjoyed the TV adaptation of CRANFORD so much and as everybody keeps telling me how lovely NORTH & SOUTH is (I’ve only watched the first episode so far — but my, John Thornton is delicious indeed. And that voice! Yum!), I’ve decided to teach a seminar on Elizabeth Gaskell’s novels next winter. 🙂
Well, not Gaiman himself. (Though that would certainly make a nice story: One morning, I opened my wardrobe, and there he was! A stranger sitting among my summer clothes! “What are you doing in my wardrobe!” I shrieked, because as you can imagine, finding a stranger sitting among my summer clothes in my wardrobe had come as a bit of a shock. — “I don’t know,” he said, clearly as puzzled as I was.) No, what I mean, of course, is that I’ve discovered his books. And I blame it all on play.com.
Because there I stumbled across the trailer for the film adaptation of STARDUST.
“Oh gosh,” I thought, “this looks like fun!” I was rather surprised because looking at the covers of his books in the Hugendubel (big German bookstore chain) (or is it chain bookstore? *scratching my head*), I assumed his novels were sort of dark. With no fun included. I mean, look at that:
It definitely looks sort of dark and … well … strange. I mean, would you assume a book with such a cover includes unicorns, pirates, witches, and the like???
This looks so much better, doesn’t it?
I’ve just finished watching it, and I have to tell you, it was such great fun!! Gaiman piles all of these wonderful, wild ideas on top of each other and creates a lovely tongue-in-cheek adventure / Sword & Sorcery / romance story: shopboy Tristan lives in a village called Wall as it is situated near a wall. And it’s not just any old wall, it’s a magical wall: nobody is allowed the cross to the other side, and a sort of “gatekeeper” keeps vigil at the only hole in the wall.
Tristan is courting the beautiful (but shallow) Victoria, who, however, is much enamoured by the dashing Humphrey. Yet one night, as Tristan and Victoria watch a falling star dash across the sky, she promises him to marry him if he brings her the fallen star. Unfortunately, though, the star has touched earth on the “wrong” side of the wall, in the magical kingdom of Stronghold. And there the star turns into a beautiful (occasionally glowing) girl.
Tristan crosses the Wall into Stronghold, yet he is not the only one in search of the Star: there’s also the wicked witch (who plans to cut out the girl’s heart, eat it and thus gain her youth and beauty back) and the black-hearted prince (who wants the jewel the girl is wearing as this would make him the new king of Stronghold).
STARDUST is an exhilarating and exciting story, full of unexpected twist and turns, wonderful humour as well as a dash of romance.
The cast of the movie is brilliant, too: Claire Danes as Yvaine, the Star; Michelle Pfeiffer as the wicked witch; Robert de Niro as Captain Shakespeare (the wardrobe scene! oooooh, the wardrobe scene!!!); and Rupert Everett (with squashed face and stormblown hair) as one of the (dead) princes.
Apparently, the novel was first published as a graphic novel:
The idea of the Star turning into a beautiful young girl (in flowing grey gown) reminded me of the Lady Amalthea in the film THE LAST UNICORN. And that girl on the cover of the graphic novel bears a faint resemblance to the humanized unicorn, too, imo.
True, there are many charming and downright funny scenes in CRANFORD (kitty devouring the lace collar — priceless!); the cast is brilliant; the costumes are lovely; the producers are the same as for that famous 1996 BBC adaptation of P&P (wet shirt scene, anybody?): Sue Birtwistle and Susie Conklin. Even some of the actors are the same! (Wow, that was strange: to see Julia Sawalha, the Lydia of P&P, playing a spinster approaching middle age.) In addition, there’s Greg Wise, who played Willoughby in the 1995 S&S, Simon Woods (Mr. Bingley in that other P&P version with Keira Please-Feed-Me Knightley), Imelda Staunton (she was also in the 1995 S&S adaptation), the wonderful Judi Dench, regal Eileen Atkins, and the sweet Julia McKenzie.
In each and every episode of CRANFORD somebody drops dead. That’s a bit depressing, if you ask me…
Only three more exams to go before I’m finished with the 26 I need to correct before the oral exams next week. And so far, only one person has failed. Not too bad.