Thursday, September 3, 2009

in which we discuss the proper care and feeding of hermits.

Currently Listening To: Beautiful by Phil Wickham
Love this part: "I see your face in every sunrise. The colors of the morning burn inside your eyes." This whole album is amazing. Did you know the whole thing is a FREE download?!

Sometimes the world erupts with excitement, and I can't blog fast enough before it is old news. For example:

Apparently the chupacabra was caught in Texas. Henceforth, I shall blame the chupacabra for stealing the CD player from my car when I lived in Dallas. This is my favorite part of the article:

Ayer says he plans to preserve the animal and then donate it to a local museum so it can be enjoyed by others. As the taxidermist puts it, the beast is "a tremendous conversation piece." Sort of like the Mona Lisa or a really stellar collection of garden gnomes.

This week Sarah and I had a Gilmore Girls moment. We feasted on pizza snacks, chips, Oreos, and grape soda while we watched movies. The aftertaste was not so pleasant (who knew?). And I ended up popping Tums like candy for the rest of the night. But it was fun going down and I can't wait to do it again someday. We used to have junk food marathons like that in high school. In fact, I remember when Melanie, Sarah, and I would walk the track together, then drive to Sonic for slushies. It's all about balance, I guess. I don't remember mainlining Tums back then though. Is this a sad side effect that comes with getting older? Junk food makes me queasy en masse (and also makes me en masse in general). Swings give me motion sickness. When people act the fool in movie theaters, and text and talk on their ultra-bright cell phones, I am compelled to throw things. Also, and this is significant ...

... I like eating breakfast at Cracker Barrel. Those are all warning signs, aren't they?

Our junk food extravaganza was fun though and it had a purpose. We Netflix'd a PBS show called Regency House Party. Have you heard of it? Regency House is a British reality show following nine individuals who all agree to trade their hipster London clothes, lives, and friends for Regency life (think Jane Austen).* Then they're all moved to a gorgeous old house for nine weeks to live like they would have lived back then. They're given different society ranks, different fictional family scenarios, and ... matchmakers. Apparently matchmakers were sort of like romance brokers for Regency elite: masterminding each and every possible union between families, trying to make their client (?) come out better financially through wedded bliss. Marriage was more about business than love back then, which truly blows. So Regency House is set up kind of like a game. But, the participants really were hoping to fall in love on this show. It was quite interesting, even though it wasn't as funny as I thought (hoped) it would be.

Now. I've seen the BBC Pride and Prejudice many times, so many you would tease me if you knew the number.** I have a great admiration for Jane Austen. But I have never, ever been one of those girls who wishes she was born in any century but this one. Chamber pots? No, thank you. Corsets? Gag. One full day in a corset, and I'm fairly certain I would unleash the beast and assault someone with my needle point. Did I mention the girls on this show had to sit inside and do needle work for six hours while the guys got to shoot pistols? Eventually they let them shoot too, and they did way better than the boys did. Good times. Two things in particular need to be mentioned here:

Thing the First: Did you know regency men would pay hermits to live on their property? They required them to dress rustic, grow out their fingernails, grow long gnarly beards. The hermit lived in a simple little shack and killed his own food, etc. But, when the Regency gent (regency "buck" is what they call them in this series) needed spiritual guidance, he went out to visit his hermit. Or, on this show, he mostly went out to drink with the hermit. Potato, Po-tah-toe.

Sarah said: Why did that fall out of fashion? I would like a hermit.
I said: I'm kind of a hermit.
Sarah said: No ... I mean I want one in my back yard.

Interesting isn't it? What might that look like in this century? Could you go online and find the right hermit match? Would Home Depot sell little rustic hermit houses for your hermit to live in? It is worth noting that, on this show, the hermit was very handsome. He wasn't as scruffy as hermits were in Regency times. He was more scruffy like guys in American Eagle times. One of the ladies of the house kept sneaking away to {makes quotation marks in the air} seek advice.

Thing the Second: Sometimes less is more.
When the show first started, I thought they guys were all jerks. They met all the girls then sat down, drank a gallon of wine, and made lists about what they liked and disliked about each girl. They were smug and cocky and just generally all the things girls hope guys try not to be. But then they surprised me.

One of the guys didn't fall in love with the 25 year old he was supposed to fall in love with (she was the right social class, very pretty, etc.). He fell in love with her chaperon/matchmaker, who I would estimate to be in her late 40's. He was in his early thirties so it didn't come off awkward or even cougary. It just came off really sweet.

Another one of the guys (in his 20's, I think) spent a long time making a chain out of wildflowers for a girl he was interested in. Then he had the servants arrange the flower-chain on her pillow. He talked about how it was like a regency text message. He said flirting was so easy for him because he could text. But he liked that guys back then had to think about how to flirt. As the show progressed, he seriously started falling for her. It was storybook stuff: he got nervous and smiley whenever she walked into the room. She blushed whenever he gave her a compliment. All his little daisy chains and quirky trinkets were anonymous, so he smiled and eavesdropped while she tried to figure out who was sending them. It was pretty much adorable. (One time he tried to serenade her while he was drunk. This was not as successful. Time does not change some things.)

Another guy snuck out and spent an entire night writing a message to his love interest with hay and rose petals. She nearly cried when she opened her window and saw it the next morning.

The guys really got into it, without being prodded to do so. And the girls gushed. The guys and girls couldn't have much physical contact with each other. But when they danced, when their hands barely brushed against each other as they made awkward circles around the room, it was like fireworks. I was surprised by how it all played out. The girls were allowed to wear Regency eyeliner but they mostly weren't wearing makeup by the end. They were all pretty anyway, but not like the perfectly impossible standard guys were measuring them against at the beginning. And by the end, the guys didn't care. They were all raving about how gorgeous the girls were. It was all very sweet. Very interesting.

Riley Tea has up a great review of Robin Jones Gunn's new book, Coming Attractions. I like reading anybody's thoughts on Young Adult lit. It's truly a fantastic genre. But I especially love it when I get to read/hear teens talking about YA. It's fun to find a book that relates to any part of your life (which Young Adult novels do, even when you're past the demographic. I love them ... and I'm pretty far past the demographic ... :) But it's especially cool to find one that relates to specific situations you're going through right now. RT does a really sweet review and mentions how all the ways she can relate to the main character. Also check out her gorgeous sketches!

Speaking of books, I stayed up into 3 am finishing Jenny's new book Just Between You and Me. If you see me today, and you see the faint dark circles under my eyes, they are her fault. Not mine. I'm not going to tell you what I thought about it. Other than I loved it. And that I felt my eyes get watery in the end. And that I laughed and smiled my way through entire passages. And that it's one of the best novels I've read this year. But that's ALL I'm writing, for now. :) However, I will be talking more about why I like it so much. And I'm trying to come up with some fun interview questions for Jenny to answer. Which lead to an epiphany of sorts. I thought you might have a question to toss in the mix?

If you have a question for Jenny B. Jones - about writing, about how she thinks up such great characters, about teaching, about her time as a fire juggler on a cruise ship in Belize - leave that question in the comments. Or you can email me the question (nat.lloyd[at] You may not have any. You might want to just sit back and read, and that is also totally okay. But if you can think of something you would like to know, fire away. Just try not to make the question too spoilery if you've already read JBY&M. I'm trying too. *sigh* Why do spoilers delight me so?

My question for you: how do you think you would do in the regency era? And what should a girl look for when shopping for hermits?

Gorgeous icon was discovered amidst a sea of gorgeous icons designed by austen_anne on livejournal.

* Nine strangers. Sent to live in a house full of chamber pots and find out what happens when people stop being polite. Or ... start being weirdly, excessively polite. And start getting real.
** I shall not name names, but a dear friend of mine refused to watch Pride and Prejudice for years. She called it Puke and Purgatory. I finally talked her into watching it, promising she could make fun of it whenever she wanted. She owns it now. Just saying.
***Regency House sort of reminds me of the Shannon Hale novel Austenland, which is such a fun read if you love updated Pride and Prejudice stories. Ruth, if you are reading the footnotes, and you haven't read Austenland, I think you would really enjoy it! :)


  1. I absolutely love the BBC Pride & Prejudice. I often watch it when I am home alone, but I have suckered a few other girls into watching it with me and they always end up liking it. That is the best movie to watch when pigging out on the junk food - my friend Katie and I have given ourselves a "wallowing day" in which we wallow in self-pity and eat lots of food and don't count calories.

    I don't know if I could make it back in that time... sometimes, I really love the idea of it and the slow pace and the technology-free society, but some days I am really attached to my computer and don't think I could wear dresses ALL the time.

  2. My life on the cruise ship (back when I was known as Tiki Tossing Tina) was just between us. Thanks for divulging what I told you in confidence.

  3. I don't think I could make it in a thrown back world like Regency House aims for... make if I hadn't spent my life with technology and modern conveniences at every corner I could. Although I've done week long trips hiking in the woods with no modern conveniences somehow this seems different. Maybe I've lost my sense of adventure!
    I still love your footnotes... sometimes I sneak to the bottom and read them first because I can't wait!

  4. I LOVE the BBC Pride and Prejudice!
    It's one of my favorite movies!

    No Offense to anyone who might love living in that age, but I this k I would very much dislike living back then.
    This might sound bad but I like all the appliances and technology we have now .

    If I was shopping for my own hermit, I would want someone who I could go to whenever I wanted and would listen to me and help me sort out my problems, and give me spiritual advice.


  5. Sam, everybody deserves a wallowing day! I miss laying around in pj's with my college roomies watching movies. I agree with you on the simplicity issue. I think there are loads of things in my life I need to limit ... but I can't imagine limiting them to the point of not existing! Life with no internet? No fun. Also, jeans are pretty much my favorite thing to wear. It would be sad to give them up.

    JBJ, I meant torches! I said you were juggling fire. That's funny. I made you sound like a wizard.

    Kaylene, you are very adventurous! The Regency era was not about adventure. It was about torturous corsets.

    Michelle, I'm with you! I love modern conveniences too :) It sounds like you would be really sweet to your hermit. I think I would ask mine to walk the dog and take out the trash. I might be missing the point ... :) Thanks for commenting!

  6. Actually, I've always wanted to have tried a life in that era. I love happy endings (and Pride and Prejudice is one of my favs), but I don't know that I could deal with the corsets and all that drama! You know, the way the girls would over-analyze every look from a guy - it's just like high school today!
    Also, I don't know if I could live without pizza, microwaves, and refrigerators...
    Haha, I am not sure if I want a hermit. :)

  7. Have you seen Lost In Austen? It comes on Ovation TV sometimes airs it, it's a miniseries about a girl in London who finds a time warp loophole and switches places with Elizabeth Bennett. It gets kind of strange, but it provided a few hours of entertainment. You might like it and you might hate it. I still can't decide where I stand on it, but I think I liked it. It was funny to watch her reaction to their toothbrushes.

    Also, have I mentioned that beyond the Bible, Robin Jones Gunn's books have taught me more about God than any other book ever? I am forever indebted. Does that make me a loser?

    When I'm hanging out in my room, it's perfectly normal to find my television displaying Jennifer Ehle's squinty glare and pursed lips. I won't make any claims, but there's a chance I've seen it more than you have.

  8. I don't think I'd do so well in the Regency era, but mostly because of the whole romance thing. I would hate the idea of marrying only for money or a higher social position. Jane Austen said, "Anything is to be preferred or endured rather than marrying without Affection," and I have to agree with her. That show does sound interesting, though. And when I first started reading about it, I thought, "That sounds like Austenland!" That was a pretty good book, although I much prefer Shannon Hale's fairy-tale fiction (especially "The Goose Girl").
    The BBC version of "Pride and Prejudice" is okay, but I'm excessively attached to the new (2005) version. It's my favorite movie ever. The scenery and music are perfect, making up for any differences from the book. It's so romantic in a subtle way, especially with the ways that Mr. Darcy reacts to and looks at Lizzie. *swoons* =)

  9. Also, I'm pretty sure I would be officially creeped out if I lived on a land with a professional hermit. Can you say nightmares?

  10. I know this is completely off topic, but I was too lazy to search for your blog about Project Runway. I caught it on Thursday night and watched an entire episode for the first time. AWESOME! What is it about that show that reminds me of bait on a fish hook- and I'm the fish? I love the little petite black-haired lady with glasses. Both episodes I saw had some awesome designs by her, and she seemed sweet!

    And on to this blog post...I love Cracker Barrel for breakfast, too. But I've loved it for many years. So maybe I've been old longer than I thought....

  11. Rachael, you are so right. No matter the time period, no matter how tech savvy we get, guys and girls still overanalyze each other :) That's kind of a sweet thought. I think that's why the P&P theme is still so effective. It was probably written even before P&P,but she really nailed it with that book!

    Ashley, it is not remotely loserish to grow closer to God via great books! I can think of so many books, as a kid, a teen, and an adult that have had a big impact on me spiritually. I think any artform can do that. I didn't know about Robin Jones Gunn when I was growing up, but I bet I would have loved her books. I'll have to Netflix Lost in Austen. I'm intrigued. Also, I would be willing to bet that if hermits were in fashion, mine would be a creeper.

    Kristin, I'm reading The Goose Girl for the first time! It is really beautiful. I'd only read Austenland before, but I'm excited to pick up some more of Shannon Hale's books now. The way she writes makes me so happy. And a little bit jealous but mostly happy! :) The new P&P is fab too. The colors. The music. The cinematography. It's beautiful.

    Mel, get baited! Get baited! Watch Project Runway so we can discuss!! It gets even better as the season rolls on and you get to know more about the designers. The girl you're talking about - did she make the winning pregnancy look? The dress with the jacket? If so, I agree. She seems really really good. There's another lady on there I like who is a little bit older ... long red-ish hair. She got stuck with a designer who did some weird stuff this week, but when she's on her own she's really good!

  12. Natalie, have you read any of Robin Jones Gunn's books? I'll bet you would still love them today! :) and you would probably breeze through them more quickly than the average high school student who reads them. I agree with Ashley in that her books have taught me more about God than anything else but the Bible! :) Of course In Step in Brio was next after that!!! :) I'm reading Gunn's Katie Wheldon series now and I know they are a gift straight from God to my heart in how Katie's situations speak to me and my life right now. :)

  13. Abby, thank you so much for such a sweet compliment! I haven't read RGJ's books, but I'll check them out. I've talked to so many girls who found a real connection with her characters. She must be one talented writer!

  14. Ok, I stand by the Puke and Purgatory moniker, as that was specifically in reference to having to do that as a play in drama. Can you imagine how awful that would have been?! Yikes! Otherwise, I have already conceded that I was wrong in my hasty dismissal of the BBC version. It is great. There, I said it!

  15. It would have been horrific to do that in drama class. How someone could imagine THAT story would be best told through THAT group of people makes me laugh, but only in retrospect. Only in a "thank goodness we never had to do that" sort of way. We need to watch it sometime! I've been in a P&P mood lately.

  16. "The Goose Girl" is awesome. It's definitely one of my favorite fairy-tale retellings/expansions ever, and I've read a lot, LOL (some other favorites are Gail Carson Levine's stories and "Beauty" by Robin McKinley). My other favorite of her's is "Princess Academy." I think I've read all of her books except "River Secrets."