I think it makes Hipster Robot too douchey.

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Cockroach Woes

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A couple of my sisters are deathly afraid of insects.  One of them, you even mention you saw a tick thousands of miles away ten years ago and she starts freaking out saying she feels them crawling all over her.

I quite like insects.  I don’t know a lot about them and if I find something biting me I will smoosh their arthropod asses, but I do like them.  I became really interested in insects last year ago while I was working in the Connecticut woods.  It was then that I got my first Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches (Bill & Ted).  They died, tragically, in an overheated greenhouse.  But before they went they were extremely useful in helping children be less afraid of bugs.

Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches are big, so you can see the different parts; they don’t fly or jump, so it’s unlikely you’ll accidentally release an exotic species into an area; and, they don’t bite, so you don’t have to be afraid of children, or other nervous folk, handling them.  I got my current Madagascar Hissing Cockroach, Frankie, recently so I can use her to teach about insects this coming fall.

Lately, however, I’ve been a little creeped out.  We’ve been finding other roach-like insects in the house.  Today, alone, I’ve squashed two insects I am sure were German Cockroaches (which are, apparently, very common and like to eat books).  A few weeks ago, my parents call me in a panic because they thought Frankie was having babies.  After we did some research we were confident they were other bugs that got into the tank.  The ones I saw looked roach-like, but I still wasn’t convinced they came from Frankie.

My question now is: are these other insects showing up because of Frankie?  Or were they already here, attracted by the muggy humidity of a New England Summer?  What do I do?

Why I Love Abigail Armstrong.

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Why I Love Abigail Armstrong.

Abigail (Dena Kaplan), with Sammy (Tom Green), at the ice rink at the end of series two.

Recently I have started watching the third series of Dance Academy on Netflix and through this, and through rewatching the first and second, I have decided that Abigail Armstrong is, in fact, my favorite character. Tara is, naturally, our heroine, and Kat is a hot mess, and Ben is just wonderful, and Grace is mildly interesting, and Sammy…. oh god, Sammy….. *

But: Abigail.  Abigail Armstrong is the most interesting character on the program.  Oddly self-aware for a teen, Abigail is the mean girl you secretly, or not-so-secretly, root for when all the other characters are being insipid or weird or selfish or competent.  Abigail is the most normal character, and the most consistent character.  She is only sometimes mean just to be mean, mostly she’s mean because she is a straightforward person, no nonsense, brief and to the point.  She thinks she’s stupid because she has never explored interests other than ballet, but she’s actually quite intelligent.  She has trouble trusting other people after her best friend dropped her for the rebellious life.  But she has stayed focused and ambitious.  But she isn’t an automaton devoid of feeling.  We see Abigail fall in love, we see her open herself up to possibility, we see her reach out and stand up for her friends, and for herself.  She doesn’t back down from a challenge, and she doesn’t let setbacks keep her from trying.

I really hope Abigail’s storyline ends well.  I’m really rooting for this character.  I’ve really enjoyed her story arch, watching her growth as a character, and seeing the lovely Dena Kaplan show us this character and all her depth and dynamics.

 

*you’ll notice I didn’t mention Christian: Screw Christian, I’m so tired of him and his mopey ways; it’s like book five of Harry Potter, fcuk Harry.

It’s My Birthday!

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It's My Birthday!

I turned 29 today. Hard to tell, right? (I know, I’m so damn youthful!)
I thought I’d share this (lovely) picture of me waiting for the candles to be lit with you lovely people.

The things I spent my day doing:

  • Drank ALL the coffee (all of a sudden the pot was empty – I have no idea what happened, I swear!)
  • Writing
  • Writing
  • Writing
  • Tabled the scene I was working on for about an hour because I suddenly realized it didn’t work in the place I was writing it and moved on to the next part
  • Writing
  • Ate BBQ chicken and pineapple pizza
  • Didn’t finish the pot of tea I brewed
  • Went out for cow with my household (parents & one sister)
  • Cut the cake (and took the creepy picture above)
  • Responded to all the FB messages I received today (amazing how popular we are on our birthdays… — no, for real: once, in HS TWO SEPARATE groups of friends had me sent balloons at lunch; granted it was awkward considering the balloons came in bunches of 12 and I had to go around the rest of the day with twenty four balloons… still, I was supes popular for a day!)
  • Shared the creepy knife photo with the Internet.

Thanks for helping make my bday awesome!

Happy reading and Writing, friends!

Xx Bex

Did you hear about Cookie Cott?

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Did you hear about Cookie Cott?

An organization called Pro-Life Waco has, yet again, set up a campaign to boycott the Girl Scout Cookie Program: Cookie Cott 2014. First done in 2004, the boycott was chiefly because Pro-Life Waco did not like the local council’s loose affiliation with the local Planned Parenthood and it’s “Nobody’s Fool” summer sex education camp program.  The boycott resulted in a statement issued from the Girl Scouts that severed it’s ties with Planned Parenthood and revoked their sponsorship of the Nobody’s Fool summer camp.  Pro-Life Waco salivated with joy over this success.

The current campaign, once again, has nothing to do with the girls and everything to do with politics.  Recently the Girl Scouts shared a link on Twitter to a Huffington Post video in which women were discussing ‘Women of the Year’.  The women in the Huffington Post conversation mention Texas State Senator Wendy Davis as a potential ‘Woman of the Year’ candidate (Davis recently fought to block proposed changes to Texas abortion regulations – obviously Pro-Life Waco aren’t her biggest fans).  But it was the Girl Scouts’ sharing of the link that unleashed a torrent of comments and launched Pro-Life Waco’s protest, despite the Girl Scouts’ rebuttal to an antagonistic response: “We shared the list, we didn’t choose or endorse it.”  The non-profit organization wanted to be clear they weren’t advocating anyone mentioned, they were asking who would you add to the list of candidates for a ‘Woman of the Year’ status.  But Pro-Life Waco went on the defensive and decided to boycott the cookies.

The Girl Scout Cookie Program is, yes, the largest fundraising event of GSUSA’s year, but it’s so much more than a fundraiser.  (And it’s more than you stocking up on your next years binge supplies.)  The Girl Scout Cookie Program is an opportunity; it’s an opportunity for girls to learn a little bit about business, finances, and talking to people.  I, for example, was a kid who needed to learn how to talk to people.  I mean, look at her:

Seriously.  Second grade, man; second grade.

Second grade, man; second grade.

This is the awkward face of a pokey girl who needed to be pushed outside her comfort zone far more often than it happened.  The Girl Scout Cookie Sale was a fun, safe way to do that.  I rang the bells and knocked on the doors in my neighborhood while, when I was real young, an older person waited for me on the sidewalk.  When I was older, and more responsible, I was allowed to go on my own around the neighborhood.  By that time I’d been ringing their bells for so long they all knew who I was when I came to the door and I knew them.  And I wasn’t scared anymore to go to a new house, or a house with new owners and ask them to buy cookies, and I was no longer afraid to tell the waiter what I wanted to eat, or the sales lady what size jeans I’m looking for, or to yell ‘Trick or treat’ when the neighbor opened their door (on Halloween, or any old night of the year).  Because of the Girl Scout Cookie Sale I learned how to interact with strangers. 2014-01-31 20.34.44

This skill is not one all folk are born with; it must be learned (some people never get good at small talk).  Also a good skill to learn, even at age six, money handling.  Because the girl is responsible for all the money for the orders she submits.  It is her responsibility to collect the money owed and pass it along (just like a paper route).  The girl is required to total up the money she’s collected and make sure what she’s got equals the numbers she totaled on her order sheet.  If she is lacking funds, it is her responsibility to either find out who didn’t pay and collect (hire some thugs, break some thumbs, whatever it takes) or cover the gap herself. 2014-01-31 20.30.23

One could also argue that it’s not that bloody difficult for an eight year old to sell at least one box of cookies to every single one of her neighbors.  Especially if she’s got her sash or vest on with her badges and pins (even easier if she’s in full uniform), hair braided, a song in her smile and eyes full of hope and promise – partly because she is giddy with a sense of responsibility and being the center of attention with each open door, but also because she gets to see inside her neighbors’ houses.  (Or, if her neighbors are anything like mine growing up, she get’s to play with the neighbor’s seven pet birds for a few minutes.)  But, even though a girl’s innocence and adorableness is what gets the neighbor to open the door, that still doesn’t guarantee a sale, she must learn how to talk up the cookies and entice the grownup to commit to at least one box.

We have a new flavor this year, it’s called Mango Creme* and it’s a bit like a Golden Oreo, have you had those?  Well, these are meant to be better because the cream doesn’t just taste like gross fake sugar, but fruity fake sugar!

If that doesn’t work, the girl might be able to convince them they can’t have too many Thin Mints, even if they’ve already ordered a box from their niece/granddaughter/boyfriend’s little sister.  Very few people want to see the expression of a little girl walking away without a sale.  An older girl, however, they’re less worried about disappointing.  These girls might do better to head down to the bank, mall, or subway stop to learn about booth sales and/or retail.  Something that also doesn’t come easily to all people.  A booth sale gives a girl exposure to the sort of work that will probably be her part time job in high school and college.  Once again, she’ll have to talk to people, catch people’s attention, and convince people who hadn’t previously thought about it that they do, in fact, want that box of Samoas.

The Girl Scout Cookie Program is an opportunity for girls to learn these skills and to gain confidence; it empowers girls to be their own person, gives them a chance to shoulder some responsibility, gives them a proper sense of pride, and gives them a chance to take ownership of a thing.  The Cookie Program is, sure, a fundraiser for the national organization, but it does so much more for the girls who choose to participate.  The program shouldn’t be about the organization as a corporation, it ought to be about the girls.  Protesting the cookie sale because of decisions made at the corporate level completely takes the girls out of the equation.  Those girls are not going to understand why you are saying hurtful things about what they are doing, all they are going to see are grownups saying they don’t like them because they’re selling cookies.  Your protest tells those girls they’re doing something wrong when they are not.  It’s not your intention with your protest, but it’s a possible byproduct.  If you go around handing flyers to the people at booth sales, then, logically, at least one grownup somewhere is going to have to reassure at least one little girl that she’s isn’t ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ because she is selling Girl Scout Cookies.  And no little girl should be made to feel guilty for selling cookies.

I grew up with the Girl Scout Cookie Program, I know what it did for me, I see what it does for the girls I buy cookies from when I’m out and about.  One of my favorite things in the winter is to spend a few minutes talking to the girls at booth sales.  Because the Girl Scouts, the Cookie Program, the summer camps all work to help girls understand that they can do anything; they give girls a place where they can be themselves without judgement; they help girls build essential life skills.  Some girls need a little extra encouragement and the Girl Scouts provide that.  To boycott the program because of your petty politics is to take away a valuable experience for the girls involved.  And what’s more important, your political agenda or your girls?

*The Mango Cremes were super gross.

** All these pictures are me, mine and are my own cookie sale patches from girlhood.

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I don’t like snow.

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I don't like snow.

Unpopular opinion time: I don’t like snow. I know I’m not the only one: I know there are thousands of people who feel the same, but I feel like I know zero people who do not like snow the same way I do not like snow.  It’s cold, it’s wet; it makes everything it touches cold and wet.  And there really isn’t anything worse than being cold and wet.  (Cold and dry, meh; Hot and wet, ok.)

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It certainly makes everything awfully pretty.  Postcard pretty.  Just about the loveliest picture of the serene and hopeful.  Everything might be cold and shitty, but one day all this is going to melt and we’ll have spring again.  Winter is really the hopeful season.  Nothing better than anticipation.

With that sentiment, you’d think I’d enjoy snow and winter.  But I don’t.  It’s still cold and wet.  I still feel like I’m stuck in a time suck; stasis.  Like I am trapped.  Because I am.  As a pedestrian snow traps me.  Let me qualify: snow traps me anywhere that isn’t a city.  (Which could get me started on the lack of public transportation in this country, but I’ll spare you the soapbox.)

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Snowplows come around about a million times before, during, and after a snowfall and push the horrid stuff onto the sidewalks, which outside the predominantly Urban, no one is required to clear.  Which, in such a family-oriented suburb, like the hellish one I grew up in, I think is a colossal mistake (ask me about the times I almost got hit by a car walking home from middle school).  Without sidewalks, people don’t walk places, unless they have to (another conversation, re: the homeless).  Those with no pressing place they must be, or much incentive to be anywhere, who don’t like being wet and cold, have a propensity to become reclusive shut-ins whenever there is snow.

(I know I’m whinging up a storm here.)

The paradox I struggle with comes mainly from my position as a staunch New Englander – we accept the struggle of a snowy winter here (builds character) the same way we accept the struggle of rooting for the beloved/reviled underdogs, the Boston Red Sox, season after season (willing to accept the intense mind games, and cling to the countless wildcards, because we might just see 2004 again).  It is ingrained in my very being to embrace the horrors of winter because that’s what we do.  And the caged up cabin fever I develop every season I spend in wintry Subruban Hell is, apparently, tolerable enough that I rarely break out the seldom used snow pants and ridiculously adolescent snow boots and go tromping outdoors because I just can’t take the tedium within anymore.

A stupidly outdoorsy person, I love the wilderness.  I’d rather be outside than in.  I cannot stand working in a building for hours at a time, I’d much rather a job that allowed me to be outside, basking in sunlight, surrounded by god’s green earth, or deep blue ocean.  Except in the winter.  Winter in New England.  “The worst of the worst, the most hated and cursed.”  It makes me long for summer, bare feet, sleeveless shirts, and warm sunshine.

Here is where you tell me: without the bitter we can’t appreciate the sweet.  But, honestly, I don’t think I was meant for suburban New England Winter.  What I really need is to get my act together, move somewhere it never drops below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, and continue to hate the snow when I return to NE to spend Christmas with my family.

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The play’s the thing!

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The play's the thing!

Plays, musicals, skits, pantomimes, drama, all are used time and time again to tell a story, share a message, and educate the masses about one thing or another. Churches have been using drama for centuries to tell bible stories and morality tales. A tradition that has not died, but fallen out of fashion. Except around Christmas, and sometimes Easter.

The Christmas Eve pageant was always something we children looked forward to every year at my church growing up. Two lucky girls got to play angels in the third grade, four or five fourth graders got to look forward to being shepherds, three special fifth and sixth graders were wise men, and a boy and a girl from the seventh and eighth grade Sunday School class could be Mary and Joseph. We did the same tableau every year until I was in the fourth grade. (You have no idea how excited I was to be angel that last year.) After that we did a few really cheesy musical plays that called for rudimentary dance numbers, costumes, and lines.

I’ve always sort of missed the traditional tableau pageant. My favorite Christmas book will forever be The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (I’m bummed I’ll never get to play Gladys Herdman); I even sort of like the movie with Major “Hotlips” Houlihan and the chick from The Craft. I love a simple Christmas pageant, with a simple formula, and a simple story. But the musical plays have their place and their purpose.

The performers’ intentions must be considered when choosing what sort of production to put on.  A simple tableau is great for the church family to contemplate what happened the night Jesus was born and the miracle of His birth and the reason He came to us in the first place, but it doesn’t necessarily do much for a person who doesn’t know what’s so important.  If the performers are looking to educate people about the birth of Christ, then a cheesy, musical performance that details the message in the simplest of terms as a Scrooge-like character learns about the ‘true meaning of Christmas’ is the way to go.

My parents’ church this year put together a production of ‘A Time For Christmas’.  We went to the final performance the other night and it was cute.  Bearing in mind it was an amateur, church production, my expectations for quality were not high.  The musical numbers and the singers were mostly excellent (something these people do well), but the rest of it was a little less dazzling.  The story itself was a bit much, a Christmas Carol ripoff, that follows workaholic Bill who is prepared to spend Christmas alone, working, his dad having split when he was young and his mother long passed, no siblings to speak of, or, apparently aunts, uncles, or grandparents.  A colleague, Mary, is the only person he even remotely cares about and she puts up with his petulance due to a naive, Luke Skywalkerish believe that there is still good in him… somewhere.  A single mother, whose exhusband is already married to someone new, Mary tries very hard to not let her frustrations weigh her down, or affect her daughter, especially around the holiday; and even though she knows it’s a long shot, she holds out hope for Bill and invites him over for Christmas.

Bill’s heart is mostly cold, however, and while he’s flattered Mary would invite him, he is determined to stay home and get his work done.  That is, until some obscure Christmas Spirit, who styles himself Bartholomew, appears in Bill’s dreams and takes him on an historical tour of Christmas celebrations.  You can figure out what happens next.

The play was cute.  I’m always slightly startled at how beautifully the man playing Bill can sing.  In his real life, he’s so nice and unassuming, but he really has the potential for greatness.  If only he knew what to do with his hands while on stage.  ‘Bill’ is certainly the biggest role in the play, followed closely by ‘Bartholomew’.  That man was unexpectedly good, except no one seems to ever have taught him how to cheat to the audience and his accent vacillated between a bad Dickens character and Ringo Starr.  And he too had some errant gesticulations.  But unexpectedly impressive was his performance all the same.

Despite the accents I would have nixed, some scenes I would have reblocked, missing acting exercises and character development on the part of the actor, a few poor lighting choices, and a couple of periods that kept the audience in the dark for a little bit too long, the play, I would say, was a rousing success.  (Remember: it’s being put on in a church sanctuary that used to be a basketball court.)  It was definitely cute, the children were enthusiastic, only one line was obviously (and hilariously) blundered, but the message was clear, and people responded to it.  The show ain’t hittin’ the road, but that was never the intention.

Unfortunately, some of my friends know me a little too well and were wondering what my critical mind must have been thinking, but I know better than to expect the quality of the performance to be high; and, I don’t think it matters.  In this production of ‘A Time For Christmas’, quality isn’t important, what’s truly important is heart.  And this production was overflowing.

That’s your favorite book? I’ll have to check it out!

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Rachel Sugar over at The Date Report wrote this piece: All the Books I Lied About Reading to Impress Guys (And Then Read Anyway).  It’s pretty funny.  And: who hasn’t read something because the person we like said they did?  I’ve done it.  Dudes have done it for me.  And it’s always weird.

Although, if you’re lucky, you can get a good read out of the situation.  Unlike Sugar, I’ve had an OK reading experience when I’ve read a book because a dude told me it was his fave.  Not on my top ten.  I haven’t read either book a second time.  But they weren’t bad.  The first one was Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut.  The Dastardly Pirate who recommended it to me wasn’t aghast when I said I hadn’t read any Vonnegut, but he claimed I would like him.  After that conversation I went out and bought Bluebeard and read it immediately.  I didn’t hate it.  I didn’t love it.  I still haven’t read anything else by Vonnegut, but it was an interesting read and I appreciated it.  I also found it extremely interesting that the Pirate’s favorite book is a story about a cantankerous artist who did the art that everyone else was doing because everyone was doing it until it started falling apart.

The other book I’ve read “because it’s his favorite book”, he actually gave to me as a Christmas present.  We were barely dating and I didn’t think presents were necessary, but he showed up days after Christmas with a pair of earrings he made for me and a copy of John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row.  For our relationship, this wasn’t promising.  The TMM wanted me to give Steinbeck a second chance (because I hate him more than the overturned turtle hates crossing the road).  I think the vehemence in my speech concerning Steinbeck made him sad.  He assured me I “didn’t have to read” the book, and certainly not “right away”, but he fucking gave me his favorite book as a present: of course I had to read it.  I didn’t hate it nearly as much as I hate both The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men.  I understood his point about the language being beautiful (I even cried at the end, it was so lovely), but I knew our relationship was doomed as I started to see the TMM in both Doc and Mack (or vice versa).  Even though my eyes were beginning to open, I held onto that relationship for far longer than I ought to have.

Sugar’s life lessons learned from reading books for dudes were: “be yourself” and “you are not Charles Bukowski’s target audience” (amen).  Mine is: don’t read his favorite book unless you’re sure you want to know these things about him.  At the time we all thought it was super sexy when Jess Mariano wrote margin notes in Rory Gilmore’s copy of “Howl”, but now that we’re grown and more experienced we all know it was fucking punk move.  Any dude who wants to color your experience with a text is a thoughtless doofus.  As Sugar points out: “…identical reading lists are not the key to romantic compatibility”.  Neither, as it turns out, is being from the same area or playing the same instrument (which I already knew from high school: I never found the boys who played the same instrument as me attractive – unless he was Brazilian).  It takes more than liking the same books, or music, or movies, or comic book villains, or ethnic food, or historical era, or African songbirds to make a healthy relationship.

Mercedes.

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Two cars, both alike in dignity,
In scuzzy Marlborough, where we lay our scene,
Two machines rolled off the same factory floor,
Hardly different, except in name,
A tweak, here and there,
A white stripe here, a taillight there,
Something internal different from the other.
Minute, yet grand enough to cause those
That care to believe one superior to the other.
While the C280 protests it’s worthiness
To, at least, equal the C300.
A cursory glance tells the passersby the two are but the same:
Black sedan, silver; same decal
Centrally adorned
Only closer inspection, as through the
Cafe window, shows the subtle
Differences.  So subtle, but great enough.
The owner of the right
Tediously argues it’s merits and the
Shortcomings of the left.
While weary hearers heave heavy sighs.
She who arrived on foot finds the conversation
One-sided and boring.  She takes up her
Knitting, begins her audiobook,
Drowns out the empty, mechanical details.
Knit one, purl one, while
Neil Gaiman sonorously tells her tales.

— Rebecca

Now that I’ve read it: I do not like this version of ‘Emma’

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It is with a heavy heart that I announce: I do not like this version of 'Emma'

This is not shocking to most who enjoy the works of Jane Austen and critique the film adaptations, but it must be noted that this version of Emma, with Gweneth Paltrow as the title character and Jeremy Northam as the gallant ‘Mr. Knightley’, was actually my introduction to Jane Austen.  In theaters on the heels of Amy Heckerling’s Clueless, the modernized adaptation of Austen’s novel, both films were a great favorite in our household.  (Never ask my sisters and I if we know any quotations from either movie, rest assured we have both memorized.)  And we relished in the elegance and humor of both movies.

When I was in high school, someone or other, probably my mother, suggested I read Pride and Prejudice.  I loved it.  I’ve read it many times hence.  I sort of enjoy the Jennifer Ehle/Colin Firth BBC teleplay; and I took arbitrary pleasure at seeing the Kiera Knightly version in theaters whilst actually in Enlgand.  Some time later, I read Mansfield Park in Google Books and was somewhat shocked at the liberties filmmakers had taken in the 1999 Frances O’Connor/Jonny Lee Miller version of said film (Billie Piper and Blake Ritson’s 2007 portrayal on the BBC is so very much better than the former).  Northanger Abbey I read sometime later (and thoroughly enjoyed Felicity Jones and JJ Fields as Catherine and Mr. Tilney); then later still I read Persuasion after seeing an extremely boring TV production starring Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones.  I could not, in good faith, believe one of Austen’s novels to be as boring as that.  So I read it.  And was correct.

The only, of the six, novel that I actively did not watch a film version of before reading the novel was Sense and Sensibility.  My only knowledge of it was that it is a story of two sisters, in a 1995 attempt on the screen, played by Emma Thompson (whom I have loved ever since I first saw Much Ado About Nothing on Masterpiece Theater) and Kate Winslet (who’s Titanic fame never much warmed her to me).  I was resolved to not let any movie adaptation color my opinion of the story as had happened with Emma and Persuasion.  I have since read Sense and Sensibility, just last winter, in fact, and found it to be supremely charming (actually I hated it for a while, then I started to appreciate it — go here and read all about it).

I have a few times endeavored to read Emma, always assuming since I already am familiar with the story that it would be nothing.  But every time I have been frustrated and found I must put the book down.  Why?  I cannot be sure.  Sunday, December 1st, I was feeling amazingly grumpy about many things.  A chance post on Tumblr of Neil Gaiman reading a short story he wrote about December happened to pull me out of my mood.  Recently I have been enjoying this particular gentleman reading his works from the album “An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer” and desirous of hearing a story, rather than half listening to a movie or TV show, while I cleaned, I searched the Internet for audiobooks.

Free audiobooks are interesting hard to come by on the Internet.

But I landed on LibriVox.  No Neil to be found, as LibriVox only caters to works within Public Domain, but I did find old Classics that I either hold dear, or have been meaning to read.  I was going to put on Melville’s Moby Dick, but I thought better of it and discovered Austen’s Emma.  It took a few tries to find a voice that was not objectionable, but find one I did (I recommend version 5, read by Moira Fogarty).  And now, after two days’ listening, I can reasonably say that I have, indeed, read all of Jane Austen’s novels (although, now I do want to attempt actually reading Emma).

Upon ‘reading’ Emma, I have, now, a much greater understanding and appreciation of Jane Fairfax – why film adaptations gloss over her, as they seem to do, is quite silly – and I feel as though I have a better understanding of Emma herself.  Generally her character is to be captured in adaptations, but I find that neither Gweneth, nor Kate Beckinsale really did her justice (although I’ve heard Ramola Garai is lovely).  I now feel as though I understand the complexities of the story – it is more than your garden variety love story about a man who feels more and a girl who realizes almost too late.  No, no, Emma is much more than that: it is a story about relations.  The relationship between men and women, women and women, friends, neighbors, and family members.  It is very much a delightful commentary on how we treat, and how we ought to treat, our neighbors and our friends.  Also, strangers.  Lest we forget Robert Martin.  Emma shows us how, essentially, to be a good person.

I rewatched the 1996 version of Emma after finishing listening to the audiobook – and it was a letdown.  I hated it.  Most of it, anyway.  Everything from how quick the pace of the story is, to Gweneth’s fake British accent (odd she played so many English women in her career).  The most best parts of the movie remain the scene outside the ball when Emma and Mr. Knightly are talking, and when he’s just returned from London and runs into Emma in the lane.  Because, I think, those two scenes retained the most of the original dialogue and sentiment from the novel.  Mr. Knightly says to Emma things actually written out in the novel, and Jeremy Northam, I think captured Mr. Knightly, if not very well, then mostly (much better than whatshisface opposite the Beckinsale – although he’s supposed to be excellent in other things).  But, my point being, I am saddened that I now find my introduction to Jane Austen so disappointing.  It’s a shame really.  The thing that gave me a taste, a thing so beloved and cherished for so long, is now an afterthought.

It is my own fault, I probably shouldn’t have watched it immediately after finishing the audiobook.  I will, one day, watch it again and find it sweet and feel nostalgic, but not so close to reading the novel, I should think.