Northanger Abbey: Men

Self must confess that the reason she started reading Jane Austen again is the movie Love & Friendship, directed by Whit Stillman, and starring the delicious trifecta of Kate Beckinsale, Chloe Sevigny, and Xavier Samuel (She would name more of the actors if she wasn’t so very short of time today). The movie was based on Austen’s unfinished novella, Lady Susan. Anyhoo, it’s quite a good movie, one of self’s favorites so far in 2016.

Northanger Abbey is not as self remembered. There are very long discussions of novels whose titles make them sound “genre” (See her previous post). And nothing happens other than: breakfast, tea, dances, and sitting in bed to recover from dances.

Since self writes fan fiction, she doesn’t mind genre. She doesn’t mind any kind of writing, as long as it’s good.

Anyhoo, the plot of Northanger Abbey concerns — as far as self can make out, the narrative is very circomlocutious — two young, unmarried women who meet at Bath, become fast friends, and then share opinions on everything from novels to keeping up appearances, to men. The novel thus far is just a series of conversations. Time is passing but who cares? The smallest detail of daily life is not too mundane to receive meticulous attention.

One of the young ladies (self forgets which) states that men “are very often amazingly impertinent if you do not treat them with spirit, and make them keep their distance.”

Her conversant protests that “they always behave very well to me.”

Upon which, the first lady responds:

  • Oh! They give themselves such airs. They are the most conceited creatures in the world, and think themselves of so much importance! — By the bye, though I have thought of it a hundred times, I have always forgotten to ask you what is your favorite complexion in a man. Do you like them best dark or fair?

To which the other lady responds that her preference is for “brown skin, with dark eyes, and rather dark hair.” The other says that she prefers her men “sallow.” (Pardon, self always mixes up “sallow” with “hepatitis B” or consumption or ill health)

Which is so fascinating, self wonders how old Jane Austen was when she wrote this, she is so looking forward to reading more! This would be considered chick lit if the sentences weren’t so very very very long and if something more were at stake than how to pass an indolent holiday in Bath.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Reading, in Bath: Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen

“Oh! I am delighted with the book! I should like to spend my whole life in reading it. I assure you, if it had not been to meet you, I would not have come away from it for all the world.”

“Dear creature! How much I am obliged to you; and when you have finished Udolpho, we will read the Italian together; and I have made out a list of ten or twelve more of the same kind for you.”

“Have you indeed! How glad I am! What are they all?”

“I will read you their names directly; here they are, in my pocket-book. Castle of Wolfenbach, Clermont, Mysterious Warning, Necromancer of the Black Forest, Midnight Bell, Orphan of the Rhine, and Horrid Mysteries. Those will last us some time.”

The Loneliness of the Swimmer

  • You get very tired and depressed, and you wish you had the social life that a lot of your friends have, you wish you could go out with this girl, but it’s so hard to have that. You’re too tired . . .  You wake up and your alarm goes off at five, and you just, you just hear the snow blowing outside, and you’re in a nice warm waterbed and you say, I don’t wanna go out there. Who wants to dive into water at five o’clock in the morning?

Victor Davis, in the swimming documentary The Fast and the Furious, by Alex Baumann

Seamus Heaney’s Translation of The Aeneid, Book VI

Earlier this year, self was in Ireland, cutting out book reviews from a copy of The Guardian at the breakfast table in the Main House of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig. She was explaining to a writer from Belfast that back home in California she had file drawers full of book review clippings and now . . .

The writer just smiled.

What is it about the Irish? Self never has to complete sentences there. Never. They’re pretty observant and never waste words.

In the Wall Street Journal of Wednesday, 17 August 2016, there’s a review of Seamus Heaney’s last work, a translation of the Aeneid, Book VI, which according to reviewer Christopher Carroll, he completed just a month before he died:

  • It is his last published poem, a poignant rendition of Aeneas’ arrival in Italy and journey into the underworld to see his dead father.

Right. Self is adding it to her reading list, as well as Heaney’s “Station Island” (1984) and “Route 110” (2010).

Stay tuned.

Once Upon a Time in Manila

At the wedding of a good friend in Manila, ages and ages ago, self was seated at a table next to the table of the newlyweds, and found herself being introduced to members of the groom’s family. The younger sister of the groom was a lively, sparkling, intelligent and pretty girl, studying in either Harvard or MIT or any way one of the more prestigious schools in Boston, definitely not a nerd, and she was absolutely great. Self’s first thought was: “This girl would make an excellent date for one of my brothers. I’m going to set them up.”

After many, many back-and-forth messages, which took a huge chunk out of self’s limited time, the blind date was arranged. While this monumental event was being staged, self had a vague thought that the process was complicated. But she was valiant in her resolve to get her brother to go out with this wonderful girl. She would show how self-sacrificing she was! She would show what a benevolent older sister she was! She would never give up! Never!

After the date, self’s brother returned home in a terrible mood. Self means A REALLY REALLY TERRIBLE MOOD. He growled: I thought you said she was pretty.

She was! The only word self can think of to describe her is “spabilada.”

Self’s brother said: “She wore glasses. She was wearing a jumpsuit.”

The image of a jump-suited girl with glasses was truly horrible. Self thought she would die of embarrassment. Plus: All that work — for nothing! The whole situation was like Cinderella in reverse.

As Jamie Dornan’s character the serial killer in the police procedural “The Fall” would go: What? What? What?

Self can’t even.

Speaking of “The Fall” (Self knows: this is a terrible digression), Jamie Dornan makes such a good serial killer. His day job is working as a grief counselor, and it’s absolutely perfect because he can scope out the most vulnerable women, meet with them, and during the guise of counseling, get them to reveal things about themselves that he wouldn’t otherwise get to know. He also does this most outrageous thing, which self has never seen any other serial killer in movies or television do, and that is: when he is chastised for going to a woman’s home, he just mimics everything his superintendent says to him. For instance:

Superintendent: What do you think you are doing?

Serial K: What do you think you are doing?

Superintendent: Do you realize the seriousness?

Serial K: Do you realize the seriousness?

Superintendent: Why did you go to the client’s home?

Serial K: Why did you go to the client’s home?

Almost the whole way through, Serial Killer Jamie does this, and his boss can do nothing but stare. Self knows what the boss is thinking: Has this man gone absolutely bonkers?

Well, of course he has! Don’t just sit there! Do something!

But of course the boss does nothing. Because he is so confused.

Who wrote this screenplay? Self would like to shake her/his hand!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Catching Up: “Gotham”

Young Bruce Wayne confronts his Manager of Operations!

Bruce: Wayne Enterprises is committing hundreds of crimes!

Manager: Of course! We are a multi-national corporation!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Verizon Customer Service

No one else seems to be bothered by Verizon as much as self. She’s made so many complaints over the years that Verizon follows HER on Twitter.

But the first time you get a bill for $1,700, you will never, ever forget it. It took self almost a year to pay off. That was because in 2012, she went to a writing residency in Hawthornden, in Scotland, then afterwards went to London, Amsterdam, and Paris. She enrolled in an International Calling Plan before she left the States, but Verizon did not tell her that she needed a different plan for each country she traveled to.

This morning, self decides to inquire why her bill this month is almost $200.

She even went on a plan before going to Canada for the Calgary Stampede.

The man, who she’s sure is Filipino, thankfully does not ask her (as every other Customer Service person seems to do): “Are you Filipino? I’m Filipino, too!” The last time, self said something like, “Yeah, so what’s that got to do with my bill?”

Sorry, it’s just that she hates calling Verizon, and hearing laughter and shouting and singing in the background puts her in a very bad mood. And the partying always happens when she gets her call answered in the Philippines. And then follows the inevitable question: “Are you Filipino?” Or: “What’s it like to live in the States?”

And then there’s the raucous background noise, the hooting and hollering and laughing. She knows it’s just the way Filipinos are: we’re a very social people (well, except for self. Self is a wet blanket.) But, when she has a problem that she needs to get fixed, and the person she is speaking to is surrounded by revelry, it makes self absolutely livid!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Feeling On Top of the World!

This week, share an image of what’s on top from your own life.

— Michelle W., The Daily Post

More of what’s on top:

  • Ferris wheel, Calgary Stampede:
DSCN9521

Self missed this ride at the 2016 Calgary Stampede!

  • Look up, and what do you see?
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Big, Clear, Prairie Sky! Calgary, July 2016

  • Finally, the view from self’s room in London, off Russell Square. She asked whose backyard that was, and was told: “It belongs to the Duke of Bedford and his heirs.” At least, he has nice art. Definitely, the cherry on top! (Self can’t quite get over the fact that something like this is sitting in someone’s private backyard. Something like this belongs in a museum! Wouldn’t you agree, dear blog readers? It reminds her of one of those thin Giacomettis.)
DSCN0037

In a Private Garden in Bloomsbury, June 2016

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

2nd ‘Alice in Wonderland’ Quote of the Day

If I meant that, I’d have said it.

— Humpty Dumpty to Alice in Alice in Wonderland, Chapter VI (“Humpty Dumpty”)

Quote of the Day: Lewis Carroll

“You alarm me!” said the King. “I feel faint — give me a ham sandwich!”

On which the messenger, to Alice’s great amusement, opened a bag that hung round his neck, and handed a sandwich to the King, who devoured it greedily.

“Another sandwich!” said the King.

Alice in Wonderland, Chapter VII (“The Lion and the Unicorn”)

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