Sunday, June 14, 2009

sunsets and car kites

Currently listening to: The Crane Wife 3 by The Decemberists
Best lines I read this week: "They are not fit to associate with me." - from Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte 

Back in college, when I traipsed about London totally lost for a month, I often ended up in Covent Garden looking at used books. After staring at words for awhile, I walked past the paper lanterns, sat down on a sidewalk, and listened to a string quartet play.* The sky was usually grey. The rain usually fell. I don't remember many hard rains (those only happened when I was out in a park a billion miles from my flat with no umbrella). Usually random little raindrops would just plunk down into the puddles on the street, or onto my face (like the sky was reminding me that, sometimes, it's okay to cry just because). When I listened to the music in Covent Garden, I wasn't homesick, insecure, or all that concerned about what happened when the summer ended. The music made me feel like I was somewhere else for a bit. Sometimes summer nights feel like that too. Even without paper lanterns or Londoners with beautiful accents, summer feels magic. Summer nights make me rainy-day-happy, lost-in-the-music-happy. Once June rolls around, I gripe incessantly about the heat (I would take cold over hot any day), but nights like this change my mind. Today melted into something beautiful tonight, and now I'm watching it all fade into starlight from the back porch. I wish you could see it too. I hope you get a chance to sneak away and watch (and listen :) to the sunset this summer. (The only thing disenchanting about this experience is the vast amount of bug smash all over my screen. What gives, bugs? Go away!) 

I have an interview up at the blog of awesome belonging to Jenny B. Jones, so hello to you if you're dropping by over here from over there :) Jenny's blog is as hilarious and fun as her books. You will adore it. And you will note that, very often, I swipe her You Tube clips and take credit for finding them. Jenny is in Ireland kissing some bloke named Blarney, but the posts are still coming, still fun as ever. If you would like to know who I think should play me in a movie, or what smell grosses me out (and who wouldn't want to know those things?!), you can find that info over there (and you can win a book. Free = ♥). Part two of the interview comes on Monday. On that day, Jenny and I discuss the advice I wish I'd given my high school self and a person, dead or alive, I would meet given the chance.** One of the hardest questions to answer was my favorite line in a book. It's rare I have a favorite anything. I'm horrible at making decisions. My family has been known to drive in endless circles on Sundays because no one will pick a place to eat. We aren't even arguing about it ... we just can't decide. I can't pick a favorite artist, song, perfume, you name it. I do lists and columns and all that stuff you're supposed to do. And I still can't pick favorites. 

The line that popped into my mind first was, "Aslan is on the move." So I went with it. That's an odd choice I guess, because it isn't a line packed with swanky prose. The win is solely based on impact. As a kid, and as an adult, that line made me shiver. When it was said in the movie***, I felt my throat start to burn like I was about to cry. It's not like you always need a reason to love whatever art you love. In fact, I think you should pay particularly close attention to art that seems to resonate with you for no reason. I guess, for me, the line used to make me feel kinda brave. It still kinda does. Once a king or queen in Narnia, always a king or queen in Narnia ;)

I thought my car might blow away last week. A storm came and I happened to drive right into it. The wind made the rain blow sideways and, with it, my car. My poor little car,it does not do so well in wind. Spike (my car) is having an identity crisis anyway.I believe this began when the "Civic" sign fell off a few months ago. Apparently, yesterday my car believed itself to be a helicopter. Or a kite. A Frisbee. Something airborne. I made it home with my car in tact but there were branches and leaves all over the driveway. The wind also blew through the roses. Sad for the roses, which look a bit flimsy now, but there are red shards of petals all over the white porch. It looks quite pretty:

(Kind of like sheet music? :)

I'm re-reading Jane Eyre. I haven't read this book since High School (a mom recommendation - thank you, mom! :), but I remember some of the passages I liked the most. I get kind of excited when I re-read a book, and know I'm approaching my favorite scenes. *flies nerd flag* One of my favorite parts in Jane Eyre comes in chapter four. Actually, I like all of chapter four. The line I wanted to share with you, however, comes just after Jane's jerktastic family has wrongfully accused her of something, slapped her around, locked her in a haunted room, and told her how ugly and worthless she she is compared to her beautiful cousins. Jane is a nine year old orphan, you'll remember, staying with her only living relatives (relatives who make those dufus Dursleys look like parents of the year). Her cousin, John, is the most vile of the bunch. Twirp of a kid who throws things at her and gets her in trouble all the time. So. After they've done all these horrible things to this little girl, tried hard to stomp away any shred of confidence (she overheard an older cousin say he might have more sympathy for her if she were pretty), she hears John start cranking out another lie: 

I heard him in a blubbering tone commence the tale of how "that nasty Jane Eyre" had flown at him like a wild cat; he was stopped rather harshly --
"Don't talk to me about her, John: I told you not to go near her: she is not worthy of notice. I do not choose that either you or your sisters should associate with her."
Here, leaning over the banister, I cried out suddenly, and without at all deliberating on my words -- 
"They are not fit to associate with me." (from Jane Eyre, Chapter 4)

Wah! How stinking fabulous is Jane Eyre? I love it when heroines, real or fiction, get a little bit brave and sassy. The chapter gets better from there too. Her "aunt" brings in a mean old preacher who tells this nine year old girl she's going to hell if she doesn't stop "misbehaving". She quickly proves she knows more about the Bible than he does and, through the course of the novel, she manages to live out a kind of grace and love she was never shown as a child. I've read different commentaries on what Jane Eyre has to say in regards to "religion": pro, anti, somewhere in the middle. I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but I think interpretation of any novel is up to you, the reader, and not what a commentary tells you. I don't even think an author's interpretation changes how you interpret it. That said, I think Jane Eyre does an incredible job of pointing out how hypocritical some "religious" people were during the Victorian era (the more things change ...). Even if the novel is "anti-religion", it still has something lovely to say about true faith, and unconditional love (particularly in regards to appearances of kindness vs. actually being kind). Just interesting stuff to think about. I don't really care so much about that aspect anyway. It's mostly the love story that wins me over. This is beauty and the beast in reverse here; Jane chooses Rochester even after he's blind, burned, and maimed. It will melt your heart completely. I am a chronic fangirl when it comes to the Brontes

FYI: There's a scene in the end of Jane Eyre that makes me laugh pretty hard. It's always fun to find a piece of vernacular that's pretty and old fashioned. But, more fun, because I am immature, is when you find a turn of phrase that is currently used, only in a funny way. Such is the case here. Jane has just been reunited with Rochester. She's trying to make him a little jealous because she's been gone for awhile. This is what goes down. Jane says: 

"Yet I have been with good people; far better than you: a hundred times better people; possessed of ideas and views you never entertained in your life: quite more refined and exalted." 

Then Rochester says: 

"Who the deuce have you been with?"

Rochester, who was bringing sexy back in the late 1800's, who remains one of the most ironic and romantic men of Victorian literature, said "who the deuce have you been with". Day = made.****

So here's my question for you guys this week: if you could pick an actress to play you in a movie, who would it be? And/or ... what's your favorite line in a book? Talk amongst yourselves. (Regarding last week's comments: Anne Shirley is my pick :) I loved reading your comments too. Jo March is fabulous. Even if I'll never understand why she didn't choose Laurie...)

Have a happy week :)

* This is not the quartet I heard, but they were that fabulous. Isn't it crazy how you can hear music like that on the street?!
** Hint: I picked two. One was a feisty humanitarian. The other is a flashy country music singer.
*** I have both movies. I have the BBC version where the Beavers look like they're wearing cheap Big Foot costumes. And I have the new pretty Disney version. Weirdly, I'm still drawn to the goofy BBC one. Why is that? (Also heart the cartoon.)
**** This is not my favorite line from Jane Eyre. I do have a favorite line in this novel. But I'll give it a rest for today. :)


  1. I have to make a quick comment about Jo and Laurie...sometimes I think Jo didn't deserve him. I have a weird sort of love/dislike (hate is too strong a word) relationship w/ Jo. She frustrates me, especially when she spends so much time JERKING LAURIE'S CHAIN!!! ;-)

    I too heart the old BBC Narnia movies. I love the new "pretty" Disney versions too, but I think the old ones will always hold a special place in my heart because they first brought the stories to life for me. Plus SAM WEST plays Caspian. And I flippin' LOVE ME SOME SAM WEST!!

    I have been thinking I need to re-read Jane Eyre...I love that book. And I love Rochester. I also love Toby Stephens's portrayal of Rochester (talk about bringing sexy back, ROFLOL!). Have you seen that film version of JE? The reunion scenes at the end absolutely KILL me they are so beautiful. *sigh*

  2. Ruth, let me know the year and what not for the Jane Eyre movie you like. I want to Netflix a copy after I finish the book (I've never seen a movie version!) but I didn't know a good one. I really like Rochester too. He is a much better character than Heathcliff (better written and better in general :). Charlotte Bronte really takes her time moving through that book ... I think that's part of what makes the love story build in such a sweet way, don't you? If there's any girl who has a right to be bitter and nasty it's Jane. And she chooses better. I love that. Also, glad you're with me on the BBC Narnia movies :)

  3. The version w/ Toby Stephens is a 2-part miniseries from 2006. Interesting mash-up - Georgie Henley from the "pretty" Narnias (*wink*) plays young Jane (and does a fantastic job IMO!). I've also seen the 1997 version with Samantha Morton and Ciaran Hinds (she's pretty good as Jane, but I've never been a huge Ciaran Hinds fan and he's a little crazy here IMO) and the 1996 version with Charlotte Gainsbourg and William Hurt, and the 1983 version with Timothy Dalton as Rochester. The 1996 version is good & pretty faithful to the book if memory serves. The 1983 version isn't bad...Jane is VERY bland though (I think this was the actress's only role or something), but Timothy Dalton was (rather surprisingly) not bad. However, none of them have the "wow" factor that the 2006 version least in my view. Sure there are some alterations and tweaks the film takes in comparison to the book, but Toby Stephens's performance left me gobsmacked & in awe of his breath-taking yumminess. He does the whole dark, brooding, and passionate thing REALLY well.

  4. Wow, sorry my comments are so stinking long! LOL! Wish you lived closer as I would so invite you over for a Jane Eyre marathon!

    BTW, did you see my comment about reading Beastly by Alex Flinn? Thanks for the rec as I really enjoyed it!!

  5. Hoops and Yoyo are great. Sometimes I've considered buying something of theirs, but then I realize that the people around me are going to think they're positively obnoxious. :)

    A cartoon for you --
    It totally described my YIM team to El Paso one night as we drove 20-30 minutes to figure out what we wanted for dinner. "Sonic?" suggested Angela. "No, we already had that this week." "Chinese?" "Nah." "Hamburgers?" Finally Angela decided to place an order at Hardee's, and then we decided to walk down to Sonic. Go figure.

    Jane Eyre is (again) on my reading list. :)

    One of my favorite lines is from Pride and Prejudice, where Mrs. Bennet claims that her husband has no compassion for her poor nerves. He responds, saying they have been his constant companions for a number of years.

  6. Natalie, I'm not visiting from Jenny's blog but have I ever told you that I keep coming back because your blog is fabulously well-written? Sometimes I feel like I'm reading a novel because it's also lyrical and/or ponderful (I made that word up. Wonderful + Ponder (as in causes one to ponder).

    Anyway, sadly, I can't think of my favorite book quote, there's one that's stayed with me ever since I read it. "There was only one truth about forever....and that was this: it was happening...Now. Now. Now." It's in the Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen. I like it a lot, don't know if it's my favorite though.

    And as for who would play me in a movie, I know I should only look at their art and other objective things but I'd really like someone who was cool and respectable off-screen. Even though she looks NOTHING like me, I think anyone would be lucky to have Kate Winslet play them (though she would have to be more clothed than she has been in all her movies put together;).

    Ps: I haven't read Jane Eyre (please don't hate me) but I've read Wuthering Heights. What do you think of The Other Bronte sister?
    PSS: Did I mention I watched the Speak movie? It was good, pretty true to the book, but I still liked the book way better.
    And, um, my goal from hereon in is to make my comments less than a page long.

  7. Hey Sarah, thanks for the kind compliment! And thanks for sharing such a great line. I need to read Sarah Dessen. Also, Kate Winslet is a good choice! She's so talented. Maybe I'm just jaded but there aren't many actresses I'm bowled over by at the moment. Kate is, always, fantastic. And she's said some great things about body image and confidence and all that. Win! :)

    Also, I am not remotely bothered that you haven't read Jane Eyre. I'm not a pretentious reader (my taste in books is really bizarre and random). I don't think people who read Jane Eyre are smarter than people who read any thing else. Sometimes booklovers have a tendency to get snooty about "literary vs. commercial" and blah blah blah. I just like books. Before I go on a rant :), I have read Wuthering Heights. I like it a lot. I can see the lure of Heathcliff. He's crush worthy as far as bad boys in books go BUT I bet you'll like Rochester (Jane Eyre) more. He's cold but he has a good heart and does kind things for people. Heathcliff is just demented. Jane is a far far better character than lovestruck Cathy, imho. Both Brontes are good writers ... both write very much alike. I bet if you liked Heights you'll like Jane Eyre. Also - with you on Speak. The movie was good. The book was incredible.

  8. At least she's not kissing Swarley.

    I've never read Jane Eyre. I saw the movie once. My summer class finishes this week, so I think I'll do that this summer.

    One of my favorite parts of the Bible (and by favorite I mean the part that cracked me up the most and I looked around and hoped nobody was looking to see what I was laughing about) is the part in Galatians where Paul gets so upset at the "agitating" church leaders who kept preaching that circumsision was necessary for salvation, he goes on to say "I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!" Hee.

    I liked Covent Garden alot. We saw "Anything Goes" its closing week there. When I lived in Cyprus, my voice teacher was British and she used to perform in the Royal Covent Garden Opera House. She did one show with Rosemary Ashe, who was the original Lady Carlotta in Phantom of the Opera. She said Ms. Ashe sang her highest parts an octave above what was written. Insanulous.

  9. Ashley, that is funny! It makes it even worse when you find something like that in church and you're trying not to laugh :) I found another part like that in Jane Eyre that almost made me blow coke out of my mouth it was so surprising. Clearly this particular word had a very different meaning in the 1800's! :)

    I can't imagine how gorgeous Ms. Ashe's voice must be. I don't study music so work with me here: there's a note Sarah Brightman hits (or maybe it's not called a note..) during the scene where the phantom takes her to his lair ... happens after he says "sing for me!". Is she just climbing up crazy octaves or is that called something? There's this little chunk in Requiem where a lady does something simliar - does some crazy high pitched pretty with her voice. Does that have a name or is it just a scale they're singing?

  10. I would have Monique play me in a movie. You asked.

    My favorite line in a book is this, easily:

    "Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
    "That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
    "I don’t much care where--" said Alice.
    "Then it doesn’t matter which way you go," said the Cat.
    "--so long as I get SOMEWHERE," Alice added as an explanation.
    "Oh, you’re sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."