Monday, May 26, 2008

On a Lighter Note...

This is the first in a series of some illustrations I found in early 20th century editions of Emma and Mansfield Park. This lovely picture is by C.E. and H.M. Brock from Emma. The caption reads:

"Most Beloved Emma - tell me at once, say 'No' if it is to be said."

Don't you adore Knightley?

Knocked Out And Down For The Count

“Sometimes, I think, our impulses come not from the past, but from the future.”

Mary Stewart, The Ivy Tree

This is the way I am feeling today. A bit wistful about the future. Last night I watched the movie “Knocked Up.” I watched it because I had read many very glowing reviews and as a result was inclined to be entertained by the movie. Instead, I found I was dismayed. First of all, I would like to officially declare that our culture is leaving me behind in the dust. I am certainly no activist so no one needs to worry that I will agitate about the decline of decorum. But I have this blog so, I will write about my disgust.

It wasn’t the getting pregnant after a night of drunken carousing that has left me feeling so dismayed. Although, as a plot line it is getting tiresome. Certainly, this is nothing new, and I was young once and I am not going to cast any aspersions on momentary passion. The pregnancy part of the movie was fine, except I do think Hollywood for once should be true to their political positions and make a movie about a young girl who decides to have an abortion, go to Yale, become a doctor, meet a nice young man, get pregnant responsibly and raise a lovely child. Hollywood is all about Rowe v Wade, but they are also COWARDS. There is a flip side to abortion. It is the part no one ever talks about. I agree about safe and rare etc. I also think trying to undo abortion is stupid.. But all this wink and nod film pontificating gets us no where. How many sixteen year olds will think Juno is the way to go? It’s a lovely movie but…I think the character of Juno appeared to be exceptionally bright and capable. Light years ahead of many young girls who will find themselves in her position. Maybe we need to refrain from glorifying the youth culture and their casual approach to “hooking up” and over use of the F word ... Oooo! which brings me back to Knocked Up… Sorry – I got off track.

I think it was the raw display of flat out bad behavior in this movie that blew me away. Lazy, foul mouthed slackers are not only glorified but portrayed as normal and somehow preferable to ANYONE RESPONSIBLE. (big sigh) The message of the movie seemed to be: it is a desirable outcome to become like the five adult males who were the roommates, or the miserable husband who does ANYTHING to stay away from his family. The five LOSERS smoke dope all day, watch porn and screw randomly all while spewing a constant stream of sentences containing the F word, one even went to Yale! That makes everything okay! Even well educated young men can become bums! Now that's progress. So much for an Ivy League education. Also, I love the way women are portrayed. What great writing! Who was the brilliant Hollywood mind that came up with the oriental girlfriend? First of all she didn’t seem to be in complete possession of her marbles. Oh! And I loved the dark, cave like atmosphere of the room, it was heart warming (as in heart burn) the mentally challenged oriental 'girlfriend' pathetically watching lesbian porn next to the disgusting boyfriend... what an embrace of multi culturalism, how cutting edge! Does anyone else see the dehumanizing despair in this scene?

Not only that – it was implied by “Knocked Up’ that exposing a little eight or nine year old girl to adults repeatedly calling a friend of her aunt a “prick” is hunky dory. Upon answering the door the day of her birthday party,and finding said “prick” on the doorstep, her query to the “prick” is “what does prick mean?” The movie seems to promote the okie dokie notion that our hero will now"instruct" our little birthday girl. She is happily and calmly informed in dulcet, smooth, normal tones “prick” means penis! Yea! An anatomy lesson out of a slur! This is certainly a useful example of responsible parenting! I think the whole scene is sickening and somewhat akin to advocating a form of child abuse. It's every bit as damaging as the FLDS bunch down in Texas. The mother of the little girl who played that part should be ashamed. I can’t help thinking that little girl is headed for a spread in Vanity Fair soon. Heck, her agent is probably trying to figure a way to work that out.

I did not laugh much during this movie. It made me sad and Okay, embarrased. It made me feel old and crochety. And I don't want to feel old and crotchety. But YUCK...the mainstreaming of strip joints (the Las vegas scene, a married man with his face buried in the buttocks of a pole dancer, giggle, tee hee, haa haa!) drug use (if it comes out of the ground it's OKAY! says the wise old, hippie turned capitalist father who only smoked dope once a day during the week and then all day Saturday and Sunday! Hey Everyone, shrooms all around!) and incredibly rude behavior throughout (screaming and repeating F---this, F--- you, F--- us, in all sorts of public places, with no reagrd for the people around you who MAY be offended by such language) makes me have to say my impulse is to despair: because the future is upon us, we are here, we have arrived and we are not going to be allowed to be a gentle or kind society. Not if Hollywood has their say. This is my rant for the day. I will follow this post with something soothing. I just had to get this off my chest.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Secret Fairy Society Newsletter - Special End of School Edition!

SHHHHHHH! The Fairies are sending this today - Summer is on the way! (click the newsletter to make it big enough to read!)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Take the Jane Austen Survey!!!

If you are a lover of Jane Austen - I am attaching a link to the new Jane Austen Survey being conducted by JASNA. I hope to attend the annual meeting someday and possibly contribute to the newsletter as well. I am also going to begin counting the days to June 2009 at which time I plan to finally visit Chawton and drink in all that is Jane. Cheers!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Dorothy Trades Places with the Tin Man

I just won a writing contest at Memoirs Ink. It is the first contest I have ever won. Being a grown up, it felt like all the Christmas mornings of my childhood.

I began this writing journey four years ago when I enrolled in the MALS program (Master of Arts in Liberal Studies) at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Feeling restless and bored, sensing I needed something more, I responded to a curriculum catalog I picked up on a newsstand for the University which listed a class called “Writing for Readers.” I thought to myself, “I read, I used to write, why not?”

I remember feeling humble and scared at the first class. The teacher (amazing woman) had us go around the room and introduce ourselves and then she made us write. Everyone in the room was hesitant. We had to respond to a writing prompt with a mere paragraph. It was agony. For ten minutes we struggled and erased and crossed out and there seemed to be a collective groan pulsing like high frequency sound waves in the air. To top it off, she requested we read our responses out loud. She didn’t force us, but we could sense her eagerness and we already recognized her amazing-ness, so we acquiesced.

I will never forget driving home from that class. It was about a twenty minute trip and I wrote a poem in my head all the way and ran into my house to write it down. I still have it. I think it may be a very bad poem, but I love it. Since my name is Dorothy, I wrote a sort of metaphor about The Wizard of Oz and how Dorothy had kind of morphed into the Tin Man and how I, Dorothy, was now the Tin Man, released from my frozen, rusted state. I wrote that “words” had the same effect as oil and suddenly I was alive again, my pen limber and flowing. The poem may be dreck, but the sentiment is real. I began writing again that night and have never stopped.

I say I began again, because I have always loved to write. As a girl I wrote stories. I remember starting a novel in the fourth grade. “The Mystery at Blackberry Hill.” Obviously an homage to Nancy Drew. I wrote myths and fables. In six grade, I wrote a story called, “A Girl from California.” It was about a girl from California (duh) who moved to a suburb of Chicago and had trouble making friends and then she finds a really great boyfriend so everything is peachy again. It was written in the style of the short stories that appeared in Seventeen and Mademoiselle Magazines. Reading the short stories was the first thing I did when I received the magazines. I loved them.

“A Girl from California” was all me. Constance (the girl) looked like me and wore the same shade of lipstick as me (secretly, on the way to and from school.) The plot was me, the boyfriend was the boy I had a crush on and the mean friends were my mean friends. My teacher wrote on the story, “Very good story, did you really write it?” It didn’t occur to her that all the reading I did may have shown me a few tricks and informed my writing.I was devastated. Of course I had really written it. But her reaction, even though she apologized to me when I went to her in tears to proclaim the story was all me, spoiled writing for me a bit. I still wrote stories in high school, but dread always followed when I handed them in. I think I became gun shy.

When I saw the class “Writing for Readers,” I remembered sixth grade and thought, “see, reading DOES teach you a thing or two.” And it did and does. All of the stories written in my class, by supposed novices, were incredible. I even belong to a writing group now, "Scribblers," with two of my former classmates. When the class ended the amazing teacher reminded us to keep reading, “read when you get stuck,” she said, “it will help your writing.” It’s true. It’s like saying “open sesame.” It works. I wish I could tell my sixth grade teacher THAT.

I want to thank Felice Austin of Memoirs Ink for choosing my memoir. I also want to congratulate the other winners whose stories I just finished. WOW. They are amazing as well. I love your stories, Deborah Thompson, Lisa Piorczynski and Merry Gordon.

Words are wonderful. Life is good.



Words to Live By

" desiring what is perfectly good, even when we don't quite know what it is and cannot do what we would, we are part of the divine power against evil - widening the skirts of light and making the struggle with darkness narrower."

Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot) Middlemarch

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