Saturday, January 26, 2013

downton abbey (again). taco bell. and hello kitty.

Listening To: Birmingham by Shovels and Rope
Line Obsession: "I took a look around the dirt lot. Acre at least. Blank and ugly, full of dust and sky. But not for long. Not if I built a forest to get lost inside. Shade from the sun and a break from the wind. Show the world you could still own something special. A descent slope gave some perspective to play with, and I'd give them seasons, all right. Plastic leaves wired up to turn color and shrivel up on metal branches." - from Rootless by Chris Howard. Gorgeous, gorgeous book. 

I know this is an odd time to post, it being a weekend and all. And you guys are probably away from blogland, sleeping in or drinking coffee or skipping merrily through the ominous weather. But can we talk Downton Abbey just once more before we return to our regularly scheduled programming?

Because I have thoughts! Eight of them.

1. Ethyl. Do you know what I think of every time I hear someone say Ethyl's name? I think of the scenes in Shakespeare in Love, one of the most amazing movies ever, when Will keeps saying he's going to call his new play, "Romeo and Ethyl, The Pirate's Daughter." Check the 24 second mark.

Toward the end of the movie, Captain Barbosa, one of the theater's investors (...right?) says it like, "I thought you were going to call it Romeo and Ethyl the Pirates dough-tuh?" The way he says it (mostly because of his facial expression) makes me laugh.

That's what I think of when I hear Ethyl. So I chuckle, which seems inappropriate, because Downton Ethyl's scenes have been so tragic lately. But I'm not laughing at Downton Ethyl. So then I have to explain the "Romeo and Ethyl" thing to my Downton allies, and they look at me like Alex Trebek looks at the Jeopardy contestant who just wasted a minute of his life sharing a ridiculous story about her fossilized bacon collection. Alas.

Where was I?

2. Ethyl! She's got some serious fortitude. And based on previews, it seems someone in Camp Crawley might hire her again? That'd make me happy. I'm ready for her to be back. I like her character so much more now more than I did in her original season. Much like Thomas, she seems shaken by what she's been through. Of course she would be. And maybe that's what Mr. Fellows is trying to get across? It's one thing to pick yourself back up from a tragedy when you've got a family, a life to keep you busy(...ish), and a roof over your head (a fancy, gabled, gilded one). But people without the promise those things, like Thomas and Ethyl, couldn't so easily find their balance in the topsy-turny world. This is what else I like about Ethyl, The Pirate's Daughter: The Crawleys are forever making hard choices, and sometimes shady choices, because they're determined to pass their house, and their title, down to their heirs. That's their legacy. Ethyl is also making hard choices, the most difficult of all when she sent Charlie away with his grandparents, knowing she might never see him again. And she did it because she wants to give her son some footing in the new world, give him a start at a life with more opportunities than she had. That's a legacy too, of a whole other, wonderful, sacrificial sort.

For the record, I hope she somehow gets Charlie back. Also, I love the way her accent wraps around his name, kind of elegant and confectionery at the same time. Chollie. So pretty.

3. Edith. Is it just me ... or is Edith finally getting interesting?! While I thought it might be kinda cliche, at first, to make Edith a jilted writer, I'm willing to roll with it. And I kind of like that she's not acting very broken-hearted. Of course she's not, because Sir Mundane is about as difficult to get over as a midnight run to Taco Bell. You regret it the next day, briefly, but then you move on. You know?

The worst part of Edith's fling with Sir Anthony would probably be his crappy timing in leaving. (But how much do you love that Granny V. ran up to the altar, practically dancing a jig, and urged Edith to let him run?)

Despite being left behind, which had to do a number on her ego (even though it was only Anthony doing the leaving), does it seem like Edith's getting some confidence? She's always been cynical but now there's some spice to that cynicism, I think. Writing an editorial doesn't make someone a crusader, necessarily, but it's a start. I like the idea of having two suffragettes in the family. (History buffs, help me out ... did the actual suffragette movement happen just a bit before this? Or is it pretty much aligned with Downton time?) But whereas Sybil was really young when she begged the Brits to allow everyone to rock the vote ... and maybe more caught up in the romanticism of the cause than the cause itself(..?) ... Edith is different. She's more practical, a bit older, and, as we've seen, a bit more methodical in her maneuvering ... so this could be fun. I like that she's shaking the world quietly, for now.

Unfortunately, this probably means Edith won't be a flapper, but I can deal. Maybe she'll have a fling with the new footman. If you'd been alive at this time, do you think you would have been a suffragette? 

4. Crazy-Eyes Branson (!!!!) was a tool in this episode. First, he burned down the Irish family's manse. And then he realized that the family, whom he thought symbolized all that was wrong with Ireland ... was still just a family. And maybe burning down their house was actually very immature, asinine ... and also completely ineffective. What's brave about running a family out of their house? How does being a tyrant put an end to tyranny? He seemed legitimately remorseful for standing by and letting all that go down. Still, after that whole debacle, he snuck out of town and left Sybil to deal with it. Then Sybil comes home, and they get a dramatic kiss in the breezeway.

But just when you think that he's learning from his mistakes, and rethinking his dumbness, he waves his jerk flag again and insists that Sybil have her baby in Ireland. I wish Mary'd heard him say that. Sybil does okay taking up for herself, but her big sister has always done a better job. Sometimes, you need Mary to come along and belittle someone for you, bruise their ego and crush their spirit with an icy glare and an insult.

This is what I liked about Branson's story: I think it's possible at any age (but maybe especially when you're young?) to let passion and idealism ... blind you just a bit to how you might be hurting more people than you are helping. I don't think Branson is the sort to believe peace can only come through violence. He's tried to be that person, but he can't commit to that mindset. Maybe he'll learn (maybe from ... Edith?) that passion and intelligence and a dose of respect for humanity can all co-exist.

5. Sybil's haircut is not my favorite style statement this season, but I'm sure it's timely and fashionable. And that's a shallow thing to type, so I'm not going to make it my real #5. 

5. Mrs. Hughes got a toaster! I love toast, so I can understand her wild enthusiasm. Like Mrs. Hughes, I've bought a few toasters in my day, and each time I get a new one, I have to very seriously talk myself out of getting the Hello Kitty model, which leaves the Hello Kitty imprint on your toast!!!  I don't think Mrs. Hughes had the Hello Kitty model either. But maybe she did. She seemed awfully delighted.

6. Daisy ... is also becoming more assertive. She tried to flirt with the tall boy, but then the new maid dropped by and Tall Boy, who is oblivious to Daisy's romantic interest, flirted with the new girl. Right in front of her. Daisy could have shrunk away and faded into the shadows, but instead she went all Regina George on the new girl. Snubbed her with a fabulous stink eye. Perfect. Maybe Daisy will be my flapper.

7. True bit of trivia: My parents considered naming me Daisy, after my great-grandmother.

8. Bates and Anna. I like them, but their story bores me this season. But I'm okay with it never moving along, because when the scene opens with them sitting across from each other, that's my Pavlovian cue to go refill on snacks.

Also, after my last post, when I wrote that I couldn't get into Once Upon a Time, my wonderful friend Ruth sent me this: 

Resistance is futile at this point. Thanks for your comments urging me to try again ;)

How's your January winding down? Have you escaped the flu? Are you watching The Youth Media Awards on Monday morning?! I'm so excited that I'm anxious about it. That's my favorite awards ceremony in all of awards' season. (Fun fact: our beloved Sarah, The Green Bean Teen Queen, is on the Printz Committee this year!! *cheers, hoots, & hollers for Sarah!!!*)

Happy Weekending to you! :) 


  1. Well, I've yet to see a full episode of Downton Abbey, but now I am DYING to! If only for Ethyl the Pirates Dough-tuh!

    Maybe over President's day, I do a marathon or something and catch up. I hate being out of the loop on it all, but I am afraid to commit to a show right now with all the busy-ness of things around here.

    Take care!


    1. I understand not wanting to commit to a show. Downton is fun, for me, because it's a little bit soap opera drama (which means my brain gets to take a vacation) but the characterization is still awesome. It's a fun one. Let me know what you think if you get to have a marathon!!

      (I'm rooting for Trinket on Monday!!! :)

  2. I was highly disappointed with Branson. Seriously? Leaving your pregnant wife while you make a run for it? I may never trust him again. :) {I was never too fond of him in the first place.} And I agree about Sybil's hair. Her hair was gorgeous in season one! Now it just makes her look...older. And not in a good way.

    You really should give Once Upon a Time another chance. :) I'll admit that sometimes there might be a slightly boring episode, and sometimes things can get cheesy (I watch Full House and Boy Meets World, so I'm not the sort of person who has a problem with cheesy). But then every once in a while there's an episode that's so incredible that I'm like, wow. *This* is why I watch. Plus, I'm a Disney nerd and some of this stuff is nothing but classic animated Disney brought to life.

    P.S. I've never been the girl who fell for the bad guy type, but to be honest I'm crushing on Hook. :)


    1. Really, there has to be another short option that won't look so drab. Sybil's so gorgeous that she could wear a mohawk and still look elegant (...ish) but the new hair is not rocking my world. And how fun that you are crushing on captain hook! I've always said that really, REALLY, somebody needs to update Captain Hook and make him handsome. I've always thought he should have been more dark and dashing. More crush worthy. I'll try it again. Ruth says it's on Netflix, so as soon as I get a breather-weekend, I'll settle in and get hooked ;)

  3. "they look at me like Alex Trebek looks at the Jeopardy contestant who just wasted a minute of his life sharing a ridiculous story about her fossilized bacon collection." Is perhaps my most favorite thing you've ever blogged. :)
    I am very excited for Edith's story, maybe she'll meet a handsome writer man? I really want her to end up with someone that makes Matthew and Branson look like a pair of Mr. Collins compared to his dashing Darcy perfection.
    I still love Branson, maybe because I'm young and foolish as well. He was a tool but I think Lord Grantham is a tool too, and I loved it when he stood up to him. "What a harsh world you live in. We all live in a harsh world, but at least I know I do." Favorite line of the season so far.
    I would definitely be a suffragette. Yes, I see that happening...
    Awesome post, I could probably talk Downton all day. I did a little post after the first episode, but intend to do another soon...
    Little Fairy

  4. "I still love Branson, maybe because I'm young and foolish as well." - Love that. ME TOO. And even though I be was making me a bit eye-rolly, I really, really like that he's questioning HOW he's going about this new world he's trying to usher in. You are so right -- Lord Grantham was a tool too. He's that way a lot. I can't wait to read your post!! That would be SO AWESOME if Edith got the best guy in the end :)

  5. I haven't watched this season yet (I KNOW), but I'm planning on it! Anyway, just had to mention that I enjoy your Line Obsessions and I'm quite fond of "I like that she's shaking the world quietly..." :)

    Also! I'm a long time lurker but never been a commenter (is that spelled right? it doesn't look right but I don't wanna look it up). So....HI!

  6. Hi Kara! So glad you decided to chime in :) (And for the record - I never consider readers "lurkers". I figure if people post stuff on a public blog, there's no lurking involved. But please do holler out on here whenever you'd like! :) ROOTLESS (the novel with those fabulous lines) is a wonderful read. I'm trying to save most of it for a day I can totally devour it. (I rarely take books in small gulps.) But I can't help myself from reading further and further. Let me know what you think when you watch this season's Downton!

  7. I just finished the latest episode. SO SAD. That's all I will say in case you haven't seen it, but ohmygosh.

    I've never been a fan of Ethyl...or Matthew's mom, so their plot-line is not exciting me too much. But I did like her in this latest episode - I'm glad she's making an effort to change her life no matter what everyone thinks of her!

    I'm also not an Edith fan, but I'm happy she's finally found her thing and is succeeding at it - I can't wait to see where her plot line will go!

    Mary and Matthew are usually my favorites, but this season Mary is just getting on my nerves. Matthew can't do one thing without her snapping at him. I get that Mary has a harsh, icy determination at times, but she needs to warm up for her man.

    I am really liking the new maid even though she drives Daisy crazy and Mrs. Patmore might actually be a new favorite! In the past seasons she always seemed so harsh, but now she's showing her funny side PLUS her warm side. Love it.

    I can't wait to hear your thoughts on the latest episode!

    1. Courtney, I share in your sadness. That was a tough episode. Tough but so good, because how sweet were the reactions of the people downstairs? And Thomas!!! When he said he could count on one hand the number of people that had been nice to him!! Sigh. And I also agree on Mrs. Patmore. Who knew she'd be like the Yoda of the downstairs? I really like it. There's a sweetness to her that wasn't always there, and that makes me happy. One of the cool things about being with these people for years is seeing how they change, I think. I'm interested to see where the season goes from here. Do you think Tom will go back to Ireland? I'm especially interested to see what he does now.

  8. My January has been good - I have escaped the flu that has claimed days of work from my officemates. It was 20 degrees last week, and yesterday it was 70. My cat got stuck in the gate that keeps the dog out of the kitchen. I finally had Thai food. I also went to NY.

    Thanks for asking! Any more truffle balls lately?

    1. Why did you ever stop blogging? Your life is a nonstop adventure :) So jealous of NY!! And YES on the truffle balls, but not homemade. I got some swankified ones from The Hot Chocolatier downtown and they. Were. So. Delicious. Fudgey-cakey yumness with just a SLIGHT tang of whiskey. You need to go there next time you're in La Noog.

    2. You had me at Fudgey-cakey. Done.