Monday, August 2, 2010

Are we related? (Part II)

On the morning of my Jane Austen party, I was cleaning tea cups in the sink when my little brother, Stuart, asked me, "Jane Austen made movies, right?" Assuming he meant were Jane Austen's books turned into movies, I replied, "Yeah, of course!"
"Oh," he said as if he was telling me something incredibly creative new idea, "You should watch a movie at the party!"
"Stuart, that's what I have been planning to do from the very beginning. It says on the invitation we are having tea and watching a movie!"
"But you are going to watch Pride and Prejudice, aren't you! That's stupid! You should watch a Jane Austen movie, not silly Pride and Prejudice! You are so dumb, Serena!"
To this, all I could do was throw back my head and laugh. Stuart stared at me, uncomprehending. I explained that Jane Austen was an author and that Pride and Prejudice is by far her most well known novel. I have no idea how he didn't at least have an inkling of this, considering that he is almost 13, and that I have read, and frequently mention, all of Austen's novels.
"Stuart," I said despairingly, "Do you know who Marie Antoinette was?"

Are we related?

Scene: a room downstairs. Serena is typing an invitation to her Jane Austen birthday party, and her mother Linda is asking her questions about what to write on the cake.

Linda: Isn't there some Jane Austen quote that would be appropriate? (Jokingly) Didn't she say "Let them drink tea?"

Serena: Haha. You know very well that it was Marie Antoinette who allegedly said, "Let them eat cake."

Sophia: Who's Marie Antoinette?

Serena stares blankly at her for several seconds

Serena: You don't know who Marie Antoinette was?

Sophia: No, I'm not a nerd like you.

Serena: No, but almost everyone knows who she is! It is just one of those things that's common knowledge.

Sophia: Oh. Realizing that she should know, she quickly covers her mistake. I know who she is! I just forget, exactly.

Serena: Well, what nationality is she?

Sophia: AFRICAN! A Pause. ...WHITE! Caucasian!

Serena: She was the queen of France.

Sophia: Oh, I knew that. I just got it mixed up. African, French... They both have an "F"! aFRICAN, French, Friken French...

Serena: She was the queen during the French Revolution, and she was beheaded.

Linda reenters the room.

Sophia: To Linda Mom, do you know who Marie Antoinette is? She was the queen of France, and they be-cutted off her head! Her head was be-cutted off! To Serena, enthusiastically I have it in my room! But don't look at it, because then you'll die, because she has snake hair!!!

Sophia leaves. Five minutes go by, in which Serena finishes the invitations and prints them off. Sophia reenters, and pokes her head around the door.

Sophia: Triumphantly No, I was just kidding about the snake hair. That was Madonna!! Closes door.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Flash Fiction

On one of the practice AP tests we took in AP Lit this year, there was a short piece of fiction about a man and wife at a restaurant on his birthday. I can't find it (I don't remember the title or author) but I remember being impressed that an entire story was told in a paragraph or two.
Melody told me a story about an incident that she witnessed while driving in Hollister, and I was inspired to, with her help, turn it into a short, short story. Tell me what you think. Is there any thing you would add or take out?

It was an unusual chase scene, to say the least. The heavyset woman ran down the road as quickly as she could. She was so out of shape, however, that she ran at the pace of an average person walking quickly. Luckily for her, the man pursuing her was also overweight, though he puttered after her with admirable determination. His thin braided ponytail of greasy black hair thumped on the back of his sweaty white t-shirt as he followed.

“Sharon,” he yelled, “Come back, please!”

“No! I told you, I won’t come back!” Sharon said as she glanced over her shoulder. The oppressive heat had made her curly dark blond hair even more frizzy than usual. “I’m sick and tired of coming back and trying again.”

Their words came out in sputtering but vehement gasps. One got the feeling that this was a habitual occurrence.

“Try to be reasonable,” he said. “Let’s be rational and talk about this. I’ll try to understand!”

“I don’t want to talk anymore! You won’t convince me to come back again,” said Sharon. “This time I’m leaving you for good, Juan!” To punctuate her statement, she put even more effort into running, and began to wheeze from the exertion.

“No you won’t. You know you won’t!” Juan continued doggedly.

The outcome of this repeated conflict was clear; one was only left to wonder who would tire first.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Heart Asks Pleasure First

Most people who know me know that I don't believe in the idea of following one's heart. If conflicting, I believe one's intellect and reason should always take precedence over one's feelings. Feelings can lie, or lead one to do selfish, foolish things.
Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"
I know that believing this makes me disagree with almost every romantic comedy and children's movie. Think about any movie in which the main character is with a reliable, if boring, person. The main character than meets someone attractive and exciting, and decides to follow the giddy feeling of infatuation. Is this the smartest thing to do? Not in every case.

The other side of the heart is one I normally don't think of. Proverbs 4:23 says, " Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. " I suppose our emotions can be either good and bad. The Bible speaks many times of God creating pure hearts in us. This is something I want: for God to create a clean, pure heart in me that conforms to his will, so I don't have to fight against unreasonable emotions. I want to desire what is right, rather than having to reason away sinful desires.

While I am on the subject of the heart, this is a lovely song that I recommend listening to. I am learning it on the piano right now, and it is actually easier than it sounds. The Heart Asks Pleasure First

The title comes from an Emily Dickinson poem:

The heart asks pleasure first,
And then, excuse from pain;
And then, those little anodynes
That deaden suffering;
And then, to go to sleep;
And then, if it should be
The will of its Inquisitor,
The liberty to die

Friday, July 9, 2010

Jane Austen's Men

Just the other day, I finished watching Mansfield Park (The newer version I believe) and Emma (the Gwyneth Paltrow version) with my good friend Kaitlin. Our two favorite men out of all of Austen's characters are Mr. Knightley and Captain Frederick Wentworth. What we wanted to figure out was who is our favorite of the two. We settled on Knightley and then proceeded to debate the merits of several of her other male protagonists. Here for your enjoyment (or argument) is my list of ranked Austen men.

Note: I haven't seen all of the movies, but I've read all six of her books, so this list is based solely on the novels, although the movies might have unconsciously influenced me. This also doesn't reflect which Austen works are my favorite, just the male characters.

1. Mr. George Knightley (of Emma): Mr. Knightley has character, maturity, and wisdom. He recognizes (and often points out) Emma's faults, but he loves her in spite of them. He cares about those less fortunate, as evinced by his sensitivity to Miss Bates, and is a true gentleman, shown when he asks the spurned Harriet to dance with him.

2. Captain Frederick Wentworth (of Persuasion): His constancy to Anne, even after 8 years of separation, is truly admirable. He admires her not on a merely superficial level, but because he recognizes her character. The love letter he writes to her at the end of the novel is so eloquent and romantic.

3/4. Henry Tilney (of Northanger Abbey): Henry is utterly charming, intelligent, and witty. He is hard to place on this list, because, as the novel is a parody of gothic literature, you only get to know his personality, and not his character. However, I know that he has all the charm of a Willoughby, without the character defects.

3/4. Edmund Bertram (of Mansfield Park): Edmund is so caring. He is the only one concerned with Fanny's wellbeing, even before he falls in love with her.

5. Edward Ferrars (of Sense and Sensibility): I'm not sure about my placement of him, because I don't remember his characterization very well from the book. He is intelligent and kindhearted, and he displays a very honorable desire to keep his word when he is engaged to Lucy Steele, whom he does not love.

6. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy (of Pride and Prejudice): I know he is considered the perfect man by some, but I think he pales in comparison to many of Austen's other protagonists. That being said, I admire his wit, his respectable character, his devotion to Elizabeth, and the character change he undergoes throughout the book.

7. Colonel Brandon (from Sense and Sensibility): I don't think Brandon should be last, but I don't know where to place him. I never really got to know him during Sense and Sensibility, and I never (ever) understood his attachment to Marianne, as she hardly spoke to him or noticed his presence. He is however, a kind and loyal man. If anyone can suggest a place for him in the ranking, it would be greatly appreciated.

There you have it. I am not firm in the placement of any of them except the first two, and that Darcy be rather near the end. How would you rank Austen's men?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


I think I am incapable of serious posts in the summer. I just got back from Italy, so maybe I just haven't had the time to write anything serious, but it surprises me that I don't have much discipline for serious writing during the summer. Serious thoughts maybe, but forming those thoughts into a coherently organized blogpost is a different matter. I am too fickle, flighty, and fidgety when I am on vacation. (For example, I started this post a week ago and stopped, until now, where I placed the *) It is the same with books. I don't know how many times this summer I have started a book, read * 20 pages, and then put it down to read something else, because I have so many options and I just can't choose.

I wanted to turn this into some serious musing, but my thoughts are racing in a thousand happy directions instead of staying focused.

Since summer is difficult intellectually, I've decided I might post slightly more casual things. I absolutely promise that I won't post egocentric rants about my feelings that no one can relate to or enjoy. I'll try my best keep things interesting and relevant. They just might be a bit less pedantic.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Extended Metaphor

I was in my room a few days ago, trying to figure out how to explain The Book Thief to someone I know who liked The Hiding Place and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. This was my inner monologue:

Well, If The Hiding Place and Guernsey had a baby together, it would be The Book Thief. But that doesn't sufficiently explain the style of Book Thief. Oh I've got it! Then the baby was given up for adoption and adopted by My Sister's Keeper and The Elegance of the Hedgehog. But wait! The Elegance of the Hedgehog and My Sister's Keeper would NEVER get married...
Besides, which couple would be the biological and which the adoptive parents based on the nature/nurture info I've learned in Psych class?

Another lovely metaphor, from a conversation I was having with Melody:
"Don't you hate it when you have a pregnant idea... (I want to express that I hate it when I can't accomplish an idea with so many possibilities) and it gets aborted?"

I should probably start speaking plain English. I haven't quite mastered figurative language, apparently.