Thursday, February 26, 2009

Some of my best friends....

Do you have certain books that you love to re-read because it is like a good friend visiting again after a long absence? Here is my list of a few books that feel like that to me, books like “Persuasion”,” The Count of Monte Cristo” (unabridged),” Huckleberry Finn”, and my newest “friend”, “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”. However enjoyable these books are, whenever I re-read any of Charles Dickens’ books, it is the characters that I personally feel like I am meeting again because, in my opinion there is not any author that I have read that can create characters as real to me as Dickens can.

Charles Dickens

I, like most of you was introduced to Charles Dickens by reading “Great Expectations”. Although I was not happy with the ending, I loved certain characters in the book, especially Pip’s brother –in- law Joe. I remember feeling so happy for him when his wretched wife died and he remarried someone else as sweet as he is. In “A Tale of Two Cities” we are taught of what true love is and the ultimate unselfishness in giving your life for someone else.

Then I read “A Christmas Carol”, and enjoyed equally as much, Bob Cratchit, and the Ghost of Christmas Present. Then came David Copperfield, and I was introduced to my friends, Mr. and Mrs. Mawcaber, him with his irresponsibility with finances and her with a child constantly at her breast nursing. What great characters. Even the evil Uriah Heep, who is so slimy and evil, that when he gets caught in his lies, I rejoice all over again.
Oliver Twist
Several characters I have been introduced to through the movies, or plays that I have seen like, “Oliver Twist”, and “Nicholas Nickleby” and the fantastic production of “Bleak House”.

Now that I am reading “Our Mutual Friend”, I have new friends from Charles Dickens. My favorite from this book is another couple who are absolutely perfect. I really wished they were actual people and at some future time I could meet them and sit and visit with them. It is Mr. and Mrs. Boffin. Without going into too much detail, they have inherited money meant for someone else who was unexpectedly killed. They immediately, try to help those that they think the first heir would have helped. And they are so in love!

"Our Mutual Friend"

Read this great passage from the book. It is Mr. Boffin describing the parting of the child that had been in Mrs. Boffin’s care and how it affected them both. I tear up every time I read it because of the tenderness it portrays:

'The last time me and Mrs. Boffin saw the poor boy,' said Mr. Boffin, warming (as fat usually does) with a tendency to melt, 'he was a child of seven year old…. He was going away, all alone and forlorn, to that foreign school, and he come into our place, situate up the yard of the present Bower, to have a warm at our fire. There was his little scanty travelling clothes upon him. There was his little scanty box outside in the shivering wind, which I was going to carry for him down to the steamboat, as the old man wouldn't hear of allowing a sixpence coach-money.Mrs Boffin, then quite a young woman and pictur of a full-blown rose, stands him by her, kneels down at the fire, warms her two open hands, and falls to rubbing his cheeks; but seeing the tears come into the child's eyes, the tears come fast into her own, and she holds him round the neck, like as if she was protecting him, and cries to me, "I'd give the wide wide world, I would, to run away with him!" I don't say but what it cut me, and but what it at the same time heightened my feelings of admiration for Mrs Boffin. The poor child clings to her for awhile, as she clings to him, and then, when the old man calls, he says "I must go! God bless you!" and for a moment rests his heart against her bosom, and looks up at both of us, as if it was in pain--in agony. Such a look! I went aboard with him (I gave him first what little treat I thought he'd like), and I left him when he had fallen asleep in his berth, and I came back to Mrs Boffin.But tell her what I would of how I had left him, it all went for nothing, for, according to her thoughts, he never changed that look that he had looked up at us two. But it did one piece of good. Mrs Boffin and me had no child of our own, and had sometimes wished that how we had one. But not now. "We might both of us die," says Mrs Boffin, "and other eyes might see that lonely look in our child." So of a night, when it was very cold, or when the wind roared, or the rain dripped heavy, she would wake sobbing, and call out in a fluster, "Don't you see the poor child's face? O shelter the poor child!"--till in course of years it gently wore out, as many things do."

Now doesn’t that passage make them so real? What sweet people they are. I hope that Dickens really knew a couple like this and that he fashioned the Boffin’s after them.

Oliver Twist (2007)

PBS is in the process of doing several Dickens classics on Masterpiece Classics through the month of May. They just finished “Oliver Twist”. It was an excellent production, equal to the 1999 and 2005 versions which are both great. I always judge how good an “Oliver” is by how good the Fagin character is portrayed, and he is great in all 3 of these versions. I recommend you watch all three. Next week they start “David Copperfield”. This is a great version and it is fun to see Daniel Radcliff (Harry Potter) in his first major role as the young Copperfield, but the best character in this is his aunt, Betsey Trotwood, played by Maggie Smith.


Anyway, thanks for letting me enjoy Charles Dickens with you and if you have a favorite Dickens’ character, leave a comment for others to read why. (Sorry this was so long!)

Nicholas Nickleby (2002)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

There will never be another Cary Grant!

After raising 6 children, I still miss the noise around the house, so you can usually find the TV on or Stereo playing because I don't like the quiet. So today, while I was cleaning the house (Thursday is my BIG cleaning day), I was happy to find one of my all-time favorite Cary Grant movies playing on TCM. It is "The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer". It stars, besides CG, the ever beautiful, Myrna Loy and a rarely seen teenager, Shirley Temple. It is hilarious and I decided I wanted to list all my favorite Cary Grant movies for those who haven't seen a lot of his work.

In the "Suspense" genre these are my top favorites that you could watch:
North By Northwest
To Catch a Thief
(These aren't in any particular order because I can't decide which I like best)
North by Northwest
In the "Comedies", there are so many "bust-a-gut-from laughing" so I listed some of my top vote getter's. Again in no particular order because it is too hard to pick a favorite:
Monkey Business
The Awful Truth
Bringing up Baby
Arsenic and Old Lace
The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer
Father Goose
His Girl Friday
I was a Male War Bride
My Favorite Wife
Mr. Blanding Builds His Dream House
The Philadelphia Story
Monkey Business (with a very young Marilyn Monroe)
Then of course you have his romantic movies, although all of the comedies also have a lot of romance in them but are more for the laughs.
Bringing up Baby
Romantic movies are:
An Affair to Remember (sob-sob)
The Bishops Wife
(this next one is rarely seen but worth finding-)
Every Girl Should be Married
Operation Petticoat
That Touch of Mink
Penny Serenade
and his last movie that he made--
Walk Don't Run
Arsenic and Old Lace

The Philadelphia Story

His Girl Friday
I have seen all of these movies multiple times and I laugh and cry still in all the same places. I don't think there will ever be another actor as classy as him although every "new" actor seems to be compared to him. The movies that Hollywood has tried to remake of some of these classics never even come close to the original. There should be a law against re-making any of the "classics". Not just Cary Grant's but so many of the other classic movies from the 30's-50's.
So if you can't find anything good on TV (which is usually the case), and you haven't seen some of these movies, try one of them and I promise you will be rewarded with great entertainment!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I Support Kellogg's

I, like most of America, watched with excitement each time Michael Phelps won another medal at the summer Olympics of 2008. I also appreciated that he was such a great role model to kids in working for and then achieving their goals. However...
I was so disappointed when he was caught in a photo smoking marijuana. But I think the thing that upsets me even more is how the media is trying to down-play what he did. I keep hearing how "he shouldn't be punished for doing something everyone else has done"! Well, I know for a fact that not everyone else has smoked pot and we certainly don't want our kids to think it is ok to make that kind of "mistake". I don't mean to sound like a "goody-two-shoes" but what he did was illegal and I for one am impressed that Kellogg's dropped him and I will start buying more Kellogg's cereal to show them my support for their decision. I also will think twice about supporting any company that uses him as a spokesman. He has completely dropped off my map of people to admire for what they have accomplished, because he couldn't keep up the standards he set for himself when supposedly no one was watching.
Again, thanks for letting me vent and I will now go have some Frosted Mini-Wheat's for lunch!

Friday, February 6, 2009

The difference between boys and girls---

We don't really have the controversy today that we used to have, about boys and girls being "equal". Doesn't everyone pretty much believe that boys and girls are born with differences? I am constantly reminded of it when my grandkids are over for "Grandma Day". Just this week I saw one of my granddaughters take the Captain Hook's pirate ship (that I bought for the boys to play with), and the Disney fairy action figures and set up house for the fairies on the ship.
Now the fairies came with their own house, but no, she wanted them to have a house on the pirate ship. I don't think Tinker Bell would have been too happy with this arrangement. You know what a temper Tink has...

Then one time, I saw the boys, get out the doll houses (we have 2), and they got out the Medieval toys soldiers and proceeded to have a battle between the two houses with the soldiers.
Now, I didn't have a castle for them to set up the war with but I do have blocks and so I thought it quite funny that they wanted the battle to happen on the "ramparts" of the doll houses. Of course they had the time of their lives until the girls got the idea that the Polly Pocket dolls should be the princesses that the soldiers save. That took all the fun out of the battle and the boys quickly lost interest. The soldiers then turned into the dads that lived in the doll house with the Polly Pockets.
I have even seen one of the girls get out the dinosaurs and depending on the size, they became a complete family. Who knew that a Tyrannosaurus Rex and a Brontosaurus could produce a family of Stegosaurus'!?!
The difference between boys and girls is so amazing!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A glimmer of HOPE and a Movie review-

First the Glimmer of Hope! Michael Steele was finally elected as Chairman of the Republican Party!! YIP YIP YAHOO!! He is the guy to watch! Sorry if you aren't Republican but let me have my minute of optimism! We haven't had much of that lately as Conservatives.
"You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by encouraging class hatred. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot build character and courage by taking away man's initiative and incentive. And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they should do for themselves." Michael Steele

If you didn't get the chance to see "City of Ember" in the Theaters, now is your chance. The movie begins as something terrible is happening to Earth. At first I was expecting the "global warming-we ruined the earth" lecture, but luckily, the filmmakers spared us that tired old story line and left it up to our imaginations what exactly might be happening. We just know that mankind had to be moved into the center of the earth to a city built to sustain life, the city of Ember. Many, many years pass and now the city is starting to fall apart also. The citizens are concerned about what will happen to them if their generator or light goes out and they are left in the dark. Bill Murray plays the current Mayor, who like most politicians, is only looking out for himself. He is great in the role. The hero's of the movie are played by Saoirse Ronan, as Lina Mayfleet, and Harry Treadaway as Doon Harrow and they are the characters who try to save the city before the "light" goes out for good. They believe that the "builders" wouldn't have built the city without a way out and so they try to find the way. The movie is exciting, suspenseful and entertaining. I think children over the age of 8 years old will enjoy it also. Any younger and it might be too intense for them. The movie is produced by "Playtone" which is Tom Hanks' company and the special effects were done by Walden Media who have done the "Narnia" movies among others. We really enjoyed this movie and I think it is a great movie for adults and children to enjoy together.