Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tune in Tuesday (3)

Tune in Tuesday is hosted by Ginger at GReads. 

After reading the romantically themed young adult novel (The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight) I thought I'd share with everyone what I consider to be a very romantic--yet oddly emo-ish--song. Thunder by Boys Like Girls:

I'm not getting why this song and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight are merging together in my head, but there you have it.

Also, I feel like the song below fits the theme of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (I am getting tired of typing out that title). I Was Made for You by Zooey Deschanel's band She & Him.

Why this song? I have no idea. She just has a lovely voice and I can never get enough Zooey Deschanel (she's been my geeky crush ever since she played Trillian in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy).

Obligatory picture of Zooey as Trillian:

Monday, January 30, 2012

My take on the whole ALA vs. Bloggers thing (with cute animals).

And that's all I'm saying.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight - a review

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight - Jennifer E. Smith - 256 pages

This book was just sitting on a shelf at B&N and it said to me "I'm a cutesy ootsey bookey wootsey. Yes I am. You want to buys meeeee." I hate baby talk. But the title is clever and I'm a sucker for that. I'm also a sucker for a book that is so adorable that I can't even hear myself think over the awww noises that I make the entire freakin' time.

But I--as a man--am allowed to make these various noises because:
  • I run marathons. 
  • I drink straight bourbon. 
  • I watch Ice Road Truckers.
So I've earned my awwws and my Mancard can't be rejected.* Especially after I get the Deathstar tattooed on my back. Then I'll be double the man I am now.

Anyways, less talking about why I can read this book and more talking about the book.

Hadley Sullivan--an American Girl--is just sitting in an airport and a guy named Oliver--a British boy--walks up and asks her if she needs help carrying her luggage. (Luggage pickup lines are the best kind of pickup lines. You get to show your muscles and be chivalrous.) 

The two decide to sit next to one another on an eight hour plane ride to London from New York. They engage in deep and flirty conversations. The topics include the wedding Hadley is on her way to (she has daddy problems) and what Oliver's major at Yale University is (he has parental issues as well--a perfect match!).

Between Hadley dumping all of her issues on Oliver and a scene in which he steals some whiskey from a passing cart; the two start to fall in love at first sight. Hence the long and clever title.

The book is cutesy ootsey because of the flirty conversations and because it's over-the-top romantic comedy material. It's almost on the level of Elizabethtown and I love the movie Elizabethtown because it is over-the-top romcom material.

But at the same time I couldn't help thinking--just like with Elizabethtown--that it was all a little too convenient. At some points my brain was shouting:




But then there are moments where I was all like:


But none of that matters because Jennifer E. Smith pulls it off and makes it charming in a way that even I--as a manly man--enjoyed. If there's ever a movie version of this book I'd totally go see it under the pretense that my girlfriend dragged me there to see it.**

*Is Mancard one word or two? Or is it hyphenated?
**And I would secretly enjoy it but out loud I would shun it.

Friday, January 27, 2012

City of Bones - a review (kind of)

City of Bones - Cassandra Clare - 496 pages

What's this? A book with vampires and angels and werewolves and flyin' freakin' motorcycles? Sure. Sign me up I said. I don't care that the main character is a girl who has the whole love triangle with her male best friend and a blond haired dude thing going on. Sure, keep recommending this to me, Goodreads, Amazon, everyone else; I'm so sure I'll like this (insert eye roll).

Simon. The best friend.
Clary Fray is the one with the love triangle. Jace Wayland is the one blond hair. And Simon is her nerdy best friend (think Anthony Michael Hall in Sixteen Candles).

Lame Plot Breakdown that is Completely Unnecessary Because Everyone Else Has Already Read This: Clary finds out that angels do exist and so do all those other fairy tale creatures. She's out to rescue her kidnapped mother and there are demons and guys without eyes along the way (there's also this whole racist "angels are better than demons" thing going on the entire time but who cares when you HAVE FLYIN' FREAKIN' MOTORCYCLES!?).

"You named me Randy Giles!?"
After reading this book (it took one day) I did a Google search. I knew that this--book one of the Mortal Instruments series--had a large fan base. After I did a little searching around something stuck out in my mind: the comparisons to Twilight. Can I ask why? Why is this book being compared to Edward and Bella and their half-human half-vampire spawn child thing?

Comparing City of Bones to Twilight is like comparing apple sauce to pudding; sure they're both mushy and both are eaten when sick; but the taste is different, the texture, the variety. So if Twilight is apple sauce (plain and boring) than City of Bones is Jell-O Pudding (the S'mores kind).

If we're going to compare City of Bones to anything it has to be Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Snarky vampires who ride motorcycles, a blond sarcastic guy, a female lead character with a penchant for getting in trouble, and demons? How has this comparison not been made yet?

The thing that I liked most about this book is that it doesn't try to hard. The humor is there, the plot is there (which the characters kind of poke fun at), and the rapid pace story is there. It's a good quick read. I'm not obsessed with it, I don't plan on being obsessed with it, but I can understand the obsession with it.

I think that's a compliment.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Emma: The End

Chapters Read: Done
Sanity Level: Insane
Update: I'm done.

Nope. Not just with Emma. The ENTIRE Jane Austen challenge. Let me breakdown Emma's plot:

  • Strong Female Lead not looking for love meets a guy.
  • Everyone plays cards.
  • Strong Female Lead's BFF/Sister meets a guy.
  • Everyone goes for a walk.
  • BFF/Sister gets heart broken.
  • Everyone plays cards.
  • Everyone speculates on their "friends" relationships--while playing cards.
  • Someone gets sick/is bed ridden.
  • Strong Female Lead falls in love with male character she met within the first few chapters.
  • Everyone plays cards.
  • BFF/Sister falls in love.
  • Everyone has sexy time.
  • The end.
Oh wait. That's the plot to Pride & Prejudice. No wait. That's Sense & Sensibility. Noooo. It's Emma. And I'm quiet certain that that's what happens in The Book That Won't Be Named Park but I can't tell because it's a pile of word vomit and I don't know how to read word vomit.

The reason why I can't do anymore Austen is because I'm reading the same book over and over again. The only difference is character names and locations. Elizabeth Bennet is Elinor Dashwood is Emma Woodhouse. The equation is that simple. I'm not willing to venture further into Jane Austen's works. I am extremely, extremely bored with this entire venture.

My sister said it best the other day: "You look bored and really agitated." I am bored. I am agitated. 

Maybe a break is in order. I still have Persuasion and Northanger Abbey left. I'd be willing to give those two a go in several months. But for now I need a break. I need to get on my TBR pile (because it's growing) and get back to something that isn't Regency era spiel. 

With two more books to go I'm calling it quits. I'm tapping out. Zombie Austen wins. For now.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Emma: Get Down With the Sickness

Chapters Read: 9 - 18
Sanity Level: Whatever! As if!
Update: Jane Austen is a bit of a hack.

I don't mean a hack hack, like in the sense of George Lucas*. I mean more like she uses certain plot devices over and over again.  She's much more Agatha Christie and a lot less Charlotte Brontë than she's made out to be.

She's a hack in the way that Hey! Nothing has happened these past 100 pages... I'll make a character sick and bed ridden! Because you know, she has to have everyone sit around and play cards and do absolutely nothing for 100 pages and that's her only way out of that rut.

Harriet Smith is now sick. Just like how Marianne Dashwood (Sense & Sensibility), Jane Bennet (Pride & Prejudice), and Tom Whatever (The Book That Will Not Be Named Park) were sick.

Besides Brittany Murphy Harriet Smith being sick I have one other thing to talk about: Emma's attitude. If Emma were a real person I would've already removed her from my dating pool; that's right, I would ignore her. I don't care how handsome and pretty Emma Woodhouse is made out to be: she's a complete tool.

She's a tool in the sense that she thinks no one is good enough for her. That no man can meet her level of expectations. This lady is smug and I use the term lady lightly. There's an episode of How I Met Your Mother in which Neil Patrick Harris explains The Emma Woodhouse Situation perfectly.

Emma, unfortunately, falls into the red zone on the chart. She's essentially not worth the trouble no matter how pretty she is. Harriet Smith? Perfectly acceptable. Hell, we could throw Mr. Woodhouse on there and he falls far outside of the red zone.

Emma is in good company, though. She's up in that red zone with EVERYONE from The Book That Will Not Be Named Park.

*Post prequel trilogy. 

Tune in Tuesday (2)

Tune in Tuesday is hosted by Ginger at GReads.

Since I've been neglecting my friends, my work, and just about everyone else to read Jane Austen this month I thought it would be pertinent to pick a feel good song about "back stabbing every single one of my friends". Enter Relient K's This Week the Trend.

And since Mansfield Park is about a love triangle (of sorts) and adultery; I thought I'd just go ahead and throw out a song that I think fits the book. That'd be His Girl Friday by The Academy Is...

A song about cheating has never sounded so neat. Mansfield Park is still a bore, though.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Emma: The Felicity-less Report

Chapters Read: 1-8
Sanity Level: Completely Clueless
Update: Having a day off makes a difference.

It also hinders my progress. I read 50 pages of Emma yesterday. I'm faltering because I went to film an In My Mailbox vlog and saw all the wonderful books pouring in begging to be read.

I also have eight days left to read the three remaining Jane Austen novels. Thankfully I have nothing better to do with my time but read the rest of the novels (this is in no way a shock to me). Anyways.

Duuuude. Emma, is like, totally hot.
If you've seen the movie Clueless then you know the premise of Emma; Clueless is based on Emma. So naturally I keep imaging Alicia Silverstone dressed as Batgirl as Emma. And her best friend--the unattractive Harriet Smith--she's trying to hookup with Mr. Elton is Brittany Murphy (insert the all too soon zombie joke here).

See, Emma Woodhouse never wants to fall in love; she's a rich girl and her life is perfect as is. She spends all her time making other people fall in love; hooking them up with their significant others. She's quite good at it as her neighbors the Knightleys attest (Isabella Knightley is Emma's older sister and the other Knightley is her brother-in-law; I will forget this after another 50 pages of reading because everyone is Mr. This or Mrs. That or Miss This. Fuck having first names, right?).

Harriet has already had one proposal after arriving as the new girl in town. From a Mr. Martin. Emma talks Harriet out of accepting his proposal because Mr. Martin is so gross. I'm imaging Mr. Martin as the stoner dude from the movie Clueless. She then goes on to paint a portrait of Harriet for Elton. Elton is taking the portrait to London to get it framed.

That's not odd at all. It is completely normal to commission a painting of a girl you just met and hang it in your home. It's also completely normal for me to use the word felicity in conversation and get blank stares these days. Thanks a lot, Jane Austen. Thanks.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Mansfield Park: The Charlie Sheen Chronicles Part III

Chapters Read: 24 - "I'M DONE!"
Sanity Level: Relieved
Update: Ding dong the Park is dead. Which old Park!? Mansfield Park!

Does anyone remember that episode of Seinfeld where the crew talks about being "master of their own domain"? There's a moment (about an hour after the bet is made) that Kramer slides into Jerry's apartment and slams his money down on the counter and states "I'm out!"

Kramer just gave up. He quit. He couldn't do it. Err, or in this case, not not do it. I had that moment yesterday with Mansfield Park. I put the book down without a bookmark in it, gave it a glance, and didn't even think "Gee. I'll have to find my page again." At that point I knew I wasn't going to pick it back up.

I had about 80 pages left. I am not disappointed with my choice to give in. I am relieved.

I would like to think that I have a great love of books and great literature; but thankfully Mansfield Park is not considered great so I am still in good standing there. Now about the Park...

Mansfield Park is a conversation about the Regency era. I suppose that's why so many people hate it and that's why my connection to it has been strained; this is a book not relevant to today. We can take Pride & Prejudice and move it into the 21st century and talk about its themes of a love-hate relationship; I can take Sense & Sensibility and compare it to Daria and have a dialogue about raw emotion versus cold logic. I cannot do that with Mansfield Park; it is better left in the past.

I spent the entirety of this novel trying to figure out what it was about; I claim--as I have previously--that this is a book about nothing. I think that is the best compliment that I can pay it. I'm going on the assertion that Jane Austen herself was looking at the upper echelon of society (much as Fanny Price was doing) and saying  to herself: there is absolutely nothing going on here.

It's why the characters speak so much about one another. It's why they put on a play that has no point. It's why they go for a long walk in the park; these people are a tragic bore and Austen knew it. It just took me 400 pages and shouting "I'm out!" to get it.

Side Notes: "I'm out!"

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mansfield Park: The Charlie Sheen Chronicles Part II

Chapters Read: 13 - 24
Sanity Level: Peeta Post-Catching Fire
Update: There must be some kind of way out of here.

I really need to escape Mansfield Park. Quickly. I sat and read for forever yesterday and have nothing to talk about today. NOTHING HAS HAPPENED. Where's the adultery I've been promised? Why is everyone having long drawn out conversations and not actually doing anything? WHERE IS MY VICTORIAN REGENCY ERA SEX?!

Alright. I take that back. Sir Thomas has been out and about for a while so his kids of Mansfield decide to throw a play in his billiard room. He shows up. They get in trouble. The end.

It's a show about nothing!
100 pages and that's all that's happened? Yes.* I'm getting that the main character--Fanny Price--is a bit stuck up in her own ways; but what I'm not getting is why this is a book about nothing.

You know how when somebody says "Gee. Your car has a small oil leak" and you ignore them and say "Well, that doesn't really matter, I'll get it fixed next week." But you never do. You wait until it gushes out and becomes a serious problem because you figure it'd never turn into a major catastrophe? That's kind of like how I ignored everyone on Mansfield Park. Oh it can't be that bad. I lamented. Oh it's worse.

The absolute best part of this experience has been me reading Mansfield Park and watching a box of books (good books!) show up on my doorstep. I in no way want to claw my eyes out scream bloody murder over the fact that I will not be reading The Fault in Our Stars until February.

I have 13 days of this challenge left. If Emma isn't as delightful as everyone says it is I might give up.**

*There's a 20 page argument on what play they should perform.
**But I won't. I stick to commitments like how Predator hunts Schwarzenegger; with diligence and the desire to shoot things with lasers.
Side Note: When Sir Thomas comes back he is nicer to Fanny. He thinks she's grown into a delightful young woman who is very pretty. Which isn't creepy, because, ya know, Sir Thomas is her uncle and Fanny is in love with Edmund who is Tommy Boy's son and her cousin. Completely normal, those Regency Era folks.
Edited Post: Austen wrote during the Regency Era, not the Victorian Era. This is apparently a common misconception. Mad props to Elizabeth Fama for pointing this out.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mansfield Park: The Charlie Sheen Chronicles Part I

Chapters Read: 1 - 12
Sanity Level: Charlie Sheen
Update: Is it over yet?

Not the challenge. This book. I'm aware that it's hated by a majority of Austen fans. I was hoping--oh I was hoping--that I'd be different. Nope. At one point I snapped and threw the book across the room:
It was Fanny's first ball, though without the preparation or splendour of many a young lady's first ball, being the thought only of the afternoon, built on the late acquisition of a violin player in the servants' hall, and the possibility of raising five couple with the help of Mrs. Grant and a new intimate friend of Mr. Bertram's just arrived on a visit.
I've gone insane.
I am all for a 62 word sentence with four commas when it's well written. This isn't the case. It keeps happening over and over again. It's like Austen said "Hehe. I think I'll make this novel long and boring; just like a walk in the park."

The first few chapters had Austen introducing character after character and I couldn't keep up. Introductions would be made, the character would disappear for several long and boring chapters, and then reappear later. Which is fine with a modern novel; not so much with a Victorian one that I have to sit and decode.

Edmund and Fanny have talked about horses and walks in the park; others have joined them. Edmund and Fanny have grown up together. Edmund is currently flirting with other girls as far as I can tell (the wording of this novel keeps throwing me off as to what is actually happening) and Fanny is getting jealous.

Edmund cares a lot for Fanny while others do not. It is plainly stated by a Mrs. Bertram that Their rank, fortune, rights, and expectations will always be different. (Don't listen to Mrs. Bertram. She carries around a little puggle dog like Paris Hilton. She's also a rich snob and Edmund's mother. So, yeah, I keep picturing her as Paris Hilton.)

It's clear that Edmund and Fanny are destined to fall in love even though the--get this--the odds are against them. Because no couple ever in a Jane Austen novel ever had the odds against them.

I am having a lot of trouble determining what this one is about. Is it about Edmund going into the clergy? Is it about children (there's a lot)? Is it about adultery as the back cover suggests? I'm going to cut out my crankiness, grit my teeth, and just bare this one for a bit more.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pride & Prejudice: Come at me Bro!

Chapters Read: 22 - 61
Sanity Level: Gone like yesterday.
Update: Instead of "intelligence" can we just call it what it is? Gossip.
Their visit to Mrs. Phillips were now productive of the most interesting intelligence.
I've never watched Gossip Girl but I'm thinking the basis for those books/TV show might be Jane Austen's works. It's a bunch of Victorian he-said-she-said conjecture, after all. Even the grown men (except Darcy) fall into the trap of being a prissy 13-year-old girl on her cell phone talking about last night's make out party.

I also missed something on my initial read of this book (because I've only read it a dozen times). It made me think differently of Elizabeth Bennet:
..."Will you tell me how long you have loved him?"  
"It has been coming on so gradually that I hardly know when it began. But I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley." 
Wait. Hold up. Either you like the man because he keeps a clean garden or you like the man because his house is huge. I think it's the latter. Now I ain't sayin' she's a gold digger, but she ain't messin' with no broke, broke.

This time around I am astounded to realize that Darcy and Bingley are both bros. No. Not related. They're bros. Brahs. They spend a majority of the first half of the book talking about what girls they thought were hot and dismissing the ones that aren't. Bingley even throws parties so he can dance with all the young ladies. Darcy at one point talks to Bingley at a ball in Meryton:
“Which do you mean?” and turning round, he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said, “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.”
Let me get my bullshit translator out:
"Which chick, bro?" and turning around he looked at Elizabeth for a moment, caught her looking at him (going to the gym was starting to pay off, his triceps were huge!), turned back to Bingley and said flatly, "No way bro; she's not pretty enough for me; and I'm not in a good mood anyways because all these girls here are bitches of a lower order. You should go try to tap that Jane chick. Later bro."

And I'm suppose to think that Darcy is some redeemable character because he helped out Elizabeth's sister Lydia, forgave Wickham, and hooked Bingley and Jane back up?

No. No, no, no, no, no. Darcy does not deserve forgiveness. He only changed so he could get Elizabeth. Which a worthy cause, is not a real reason to change.

To quote Fall Out Boy: seasons change, people don't. Mr. Darcy changed so he could get something. That means his change is temporary. It also means that he only--as most bros would admit--wanted what he couldn't have. Elizabeth.

Maybe it's because it's early. Maybe it's because I'm already tired of this challenge. But damn it, this one just made me surly.

Tune in Tuesday (1)

Tune in Tuesday is hosted by Ginger at GReads.

There is a point where Jane Austen starts to bleed over into other areas of my life. This happened last night while I listened to my iPod on random. The following is Anberlin's Impossible.

For some odd reason I have no problem thinking of Mr. Darcy singing this straight to Elizabeth Bennet's face, grabbing her by her shirt, and saying "Take what you want from me!" Considering Mr. Darcy proposed marriage before Elizabeth even realized she loved the man.

And if Darcy gets his own song to sing to Elizabeth then clearly she needs one as well. I think that's Obvious by Hey Monday. If anything her sisters can makeup the rest of the band.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Pride & Prejudice: The Super Friends Edition

"Lady Catherine has never been
averse to the truly humble."
Chapters Read: 1- 21
Sanity Level: Gone like a freight train.
Update: This book has been discussed to death.

It's no wonder that while I'm sitting around my apartment and reading P&P that I keep thinking of other things. Like how Mr. Collins would be perfectly portrayed by Napoleon Dynamite. Or that maybe Batman was based partly on Mr. Darcy.

Let's observe: Mr. Darcy's parents are dead. Batman's parents are dead. Mr. Darcy and Batman both have large fortunes that allow them to move freely through society. Mr. Darcy clearly shows no emotion in the real world and carries with him an air of just not giving a damn; Bruce Wayne does the same (playing a millionaire playboy who doesn't give a flying frak is the perfect cover, after all).

Forget rewriting this book with zombies in it, or Mr. Darcy as a vampire, or a unicorn rider or whatever the heck people are doing with the story these days; it is so clear that we need a DC Universe Jane Austen mashup. Elizabeth Bennet would play the perfect Catwoman to Darcy's Batman. The relationship dynamic is the same. Bingley? Clearly the friendship that him and Darcy share is that of Batman and Robin.

But this is where my head goes because I've read this one before. I've seen this one before. I read it in high school, college, post college; it's one of those books that you just pick up and read every once and a while, but not really out of choice. It's because it's familiar and comfortable and you're so bored with everything else. The romance is there. The ridiculous nature of the entire cast of characters is there. It's comfort reading.

If I do have one observation so far it's that Elizabeth Bennet is Elinor Dashwood. That the central characters of two separate novels are essentially the same in body and spirit does not surprise me; what's surprising me is that I'm starting to think that this is how Austen saw herself. The level headed girl that isn't out for romance but finds it anyways. But then again I've also noticed that Mrs. Jennings and Mrs. Bennet are the same character. So maybe Austen thought her mom was a nosy bitch.

I don't know. I'm really out of ideas on this one.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sense & Sensibility: Everyone is a Cartoon Character

Chapters Read: 35- 50
Sanity Level: Gary Busey Light
Update: I said "Screw you Jane Austen. I'm finishing this book tonight."

When we last left off Elinor & Co were about to have dinner with Edward's mom. Edward's not there but it's awkward. Edward's mom (who in my mind looks like the old lady from Poltergeist) makes it abundantly clear that she does not like Elinor or Marianne (this is--seriously--the part where Marianne cries AGAIN). She does, however, love Ed's secret fiance Lucy Steele.

It turns out not to matter what Ed's mom thinks: everyone finds out about Lucy Steele and Her Secret Engagement* and Ed's mom disapproves so much that she disowns him.

It's now clear to Elinor that Colonel Brandon does indeed love Marianne. Oh Marianne, she's done nothing but cry the entire book. Between chapters 37 and 48 she is fairly sick and bed ridden (poor her). I lost sympathy for Marianne after chapter 20. She's like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh "Nobody cares. Nobody listens. Boo hoo."

Her sickness prompts a visit from Colonel Brandon. He decides to give Edward and his wife a rectory. That is not 19th century for ass kicking. That's 19th century for "Here. Take this old church I have and fix it up!"

Not. So. Quick. It turns out Edward has a brother named Robert. Robert has met Elinor and Marianne before. I just never thought anything of it because, ya know, Austen made him a nameless character talking about toothpicks and gardens, my two least favorite subjects**.

Elinor or Squidward? I can't tell.
It turns out Lucy has fallen out of love with Edward and he feels the same way. Elinor finds this out and cries tears of joy. Which is the only real emotion she's expressed the ENTIRE novel. Since I've made Marianne Eeyore; I'm making Elinor Squidward.

Well, Ed shows up and proposes and Elinor accepts. Colonel Brandon (in the last chapter) proposes to Marianne or something. Will Bow Bow is back on good terms with everyone. The Dashwood Sisters are happy and in love and everything is right in the world again.

I am so glad to be done with this one and onto the next (Pride & Prejudice). The entire book is full of speculation on relationships between characters, characters talking about other characters, what happened at the character's party last night, here say, rumors, tiny amounts of sexual tension, and not enough sex.

Tomorrow will bring Sense & Sensibility: A Critical Breakdown.

*This is the name of my band's first CD. 
**The third being guys who give other guys churches.
Side Note: Plump Mrs. Jennings, Margaret (the third sister), Mrs. Dashwood, Sir John "Creepy Van", Mrs. Palmer, Lucy's sister; are all ignored by me in this posting because they just don't matter. In high school you have the popular crowd. You have the popular girl everyone knows, the popular girl's best friend, the popular girl's boyfriend, the popular girl's best friend's boyfriend, and then the rest of the crew. These people? They're the rest of the crew and no one cares.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sense & Sensibility: The "With Friends Like These" Edition

Chapters Read: 31 - 34
Sanity Level: Gary Busey
Update: So much information in this book is distilled from various sources and given to a main character in the following formula: "I heard someone talking about it" + "I suspected it" = "It's totally true!" I've never wanted to punch every character in a book in the face but here we are.

The Dashwood sisters have not left London and are still with Plump Mrs. Jennings. Which is all fine by Colonel Brandon because he shows up to tell Elinor his back history. It's kind of like the mid-beginning point in Jurassic Park where George Hammond explains how the dinosaurs are made and how they won't rip off the faces of visitors.*

So anyways. Colonel Brandon explains Will Bow Bow's history to Elinor to tell Marianne to cheer her up. But that isn't exactly what happens. We find out more about Colonel Brandon than we do Will Bow Bow. To sum up four pages of back story: Colonel Brandon was in love with his childhood friend (awww) who was married off to his brother (ouch) and Marianne reminds him of her. To sum up what we find out about Will Bow Bow: he's a man-whore.

To sum up my summary of the already summarized summary above: it would appear that Colonel Brandon is telling Elinor a sob story to get into her panties.

From a night of more sleep than she had expected, Marianne awoke the next morning to the same consciousness of misery in which she had closed her eyes.
Yeah, Marianne is still Stephanie on Full House. If she does not stop crying, does not stop whining, then I might have to pretend she doesn't exist; just like how Austen pretends that Margaret (the third Dashwood sister in this book) doesn't exist.

Marianne has finally figured out that Mrs. Jennings only keeps her around because she's a source of drama. Mrs. Jennings reminds me of a few people I know. Good to know these people were mucking about in the 19th century.

There's also a part where the Dashwood Sisters run into their brother John Dashwood. He figures out fairly quick that Colonel Brandon likes Elinor and not Marianne. So I'm left wondering when Elinor (even after being told) will realize that Brandon likes her. It's been obvious the ENTIRE book. Which is why it's a shock to find out that he likes Marianne, because I didn't believe it.

Elinor & Co. are invited to dinner by John Dashwood at Edward's mother's house and she worries that she might run into Edward. Which raises the question of WHY IN THE FUCK WOULD YOU EVEN GO? I've known people to worry that they might run into so-and-so at a party and I always scream back at them the only common sense solution: DON'T GO.

Drama is so easy to avoid, but no one in this book wants to avoid it.

*Maybe I'm only thinking of Jurassic Park because I keep imagining Colonel Brandon as John "no expense spared" Hammond. The same actor also played Santa Claus in Miracle on 34th Street but that's irrelevant to this book (so far).

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sense & Sensibility: Un-Engage!

Chapters Read: 27 - 30
Sanity Level: On the edge.
Update: The great news is that I'm further ahead in this little project then I thought I would be. The bad news is that I am behind in blog posts.

So Elinor and Marianne are at a party being thrown by their cousin Sir "Van Without Windows Owner" John when they spot Will Bow Bow. Will Bow Bow is talking to another woman. Marianne approaches him and is all like "What up? How come you didn't come talk to me, give me a hug or a kiss? And who is this skank in a muslin dress?"

Well, Will Bow Bow kind of runs off after giving a hasty explanation. He then--and this pisses me off--sends Marianne the modern equivalent of a text message to break up with her; he writes her a short letter. He's engaged to another woman. Here Marianne thought she was his one and only.

So everyone, including Plump Mrs. Jennings, is talking about how much of a douche Will Bow Bow is and how he's just marrying this chick for money because Marianne doesn't have any and this other chick is loaded like Lindsay Lohan.*

What does all this mean for Mary? She cries more. Runs out of more rooms like Stephanie on Full House. And decides to leave London with Elinor; she was only there to see Will Bow Bow.

Oh and Colonel Brandon likes Mary. I didn't see that one coming but then again all the older dudes seem to be wanting the young ladies.

Can anyone else imagine Marianne's Facebook page at this point in time? She's a bit of a drama queen so you know she'd be the one to update her relationship status consistently without hiding it in her feed. I think it would read something like this:

Marianne Dashwood is... single.
... in a relationship.
... it's complicated.
... in an open relationship.
... is engaged to Will Bow Bow.
... is single.

Her relationship to Will Bow Bow was, of course, completely secret, but these days people don't really have secret engagements. These days people go out of their way to tell you they're engaged, not to hide it from you.

*This is a drug joke.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sense & Sensibility: Engage!

Chapters Read: 22 - 26
Sanity Level: Losing it.
Update: Let's start this Magic School Bus of a blog post out the right way. This is a conversation I had with a friend this morning:
Friend: What are you reading?
Me: Jane Austen. After Matched and Dash & Lily; I can't read any more books about teenage romance.
Friend: You're reading Jane Austen!
Me: .... Fuck.
Because that's exactly what I'm doing. I'm reading a book about girls that spend all their time thinking about boys. I am reading young adult novels for teenage girls right now; my copy of Emma was found in the young adult section of a B&N.


Edward is engaged! And Elinor finds out from the girl he's engaged to; the very stupid and illiterate (Austen's words, not mine) Lucy Steele! I was wondering why the Steele Sisters showed up as neither contributed to the advancement of the plot.

And just like the alien water death at the end of Signs, I did not see this plot twist coming: Edward has been engaged to Lucy Steele for four years.* It has thrown a wrench into Elinor's life plans. It turns out she does love him. She hasn't admitted it yet but it's apparent.

Still no Will Bow Bow for Marianne. But both Marianne and Elinor are on their way to London with Mrs. Jennings. The two don't even want to be seen in public with Big Jenny, but go anyways because their mom--Mrs Dashwood--wants to decorate their rooms while they're gone.

Only in the 19th century would a mother pawn off her two nubile teenage daughters to a completely annoying stranger and allow them to be taken to a major metropolitan area just so she can renovate their rooms. Let me restate that last sentence: a mother let a stranger she barely knows take her two daughters to a major city so she can decorate their rooms.

This book. It's insanity.

*For an ugly, boring, disagreeable guy who has zero self-confidence; Edward is reeling the women in.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sense & Sensibility: The Hot Topic Edition

Chapters Read: 14-21
Sanity Level: Semi-Normal
Update: Willoughby (Will Bow Bow) has left the room and Marianne has gone full emo. She might as well shop at Hot Topic for all the crying she does between chapters 14 and 18. No one will ever, ever understand the love she had with Will Bow Bow. At one point she misses him so much that she hallucinates him coming towards her on a horse. But it's not him! It's Edward (Elinor's awkward as hell "friend"). Talk about a plot twist worthy of M. Night Shyamalan.

All the while Mrs. Dashwood and Elinor are trying to figure out if the two are in love. If Marianne is running out of a room like Stephanie* on Full House; I'm guessing they are in love. And if Marianne is Stephanie then Mrs. Jennings (the prying neighbor) is Kimmy Gibbler. Colonel Brandon is still gone. So, he's like Danny Tanner's missing wife at this point (Danny can claim his wife died all he wants but we all know she faked her death and left him).

I hated Kimmy Gibbler too. There's also this lady Mrs. Palmer who shows up in chapter 19 or so with her cranky husband. Mr. Palmer is an asshole but no one asks him to leave.

There is a side note that I can slip in here: all the really annoying characters are ugly. Mrs. Palmer? Apparently she's quite plump. Mr. Palmer? Old and crunkled. Mrs. Jennings? Huge! Edward? Plain and boring. The eldest Steele sister? She looks like a public restroom.

But I'll tell everyone who I think is awesome: Mrs. Dashwood. Mrs. Dashwood is like Mrs. Garrett from The Facts of Life:
'But remember that the pain from parting from friends will be felt by everybody at times, whatever be their education or state.'
This is the problem with these chapters: nothing is going on. Sir Creepy White Van John keeps inviting people over (mostly young girls that are his cousins) and that's it. There's the Steele Sisters who are really into other peoples kids, and a conversation with Edward about landscapes**. 

I hope things start to pickup.

Notable Lines:
  • 'What have wealth or grandeur to do with happiness?
*I hated Stephanie. She always ran crying out of a room until Danny Tanner or John Stamos came and cheered her up.
**I lost my sanity here for a moment.

Edit: I originally confused Marianne with Elinor in a sentence. I have corrected it. Lets just blame that on very early morning blogging.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Sense & Sensibility: The Abercrombie & Fitch Experience

Chapters Read: 1-13
Sanity Level: Normal
Update: I could've done without the first few chapters of this book. So, like the third sister in this novel; I'm going to pretend like they don't exist.

Elinor and Marianne.
I really want to talk about Marianne and Elinor. The two sisters who remind me of Daria and Quinn from MTV's Daria. Elinor is a bit prudish, rude-ish, and sarcastic-ish. Marianne is a bit fancy free and falls down hills.* Both are ravishingly beautiful and have a ravishingly beautiful mother (Mrs. Dashwood).

The differences don't stop there, though. The two also have vastly different tastes in men. And let me tell you, there are tons of good looking guys in this book so far. Apparently in the 19th century everyone looks like an Abercrombie & Fitch model. I'm not even kidding:
"Sir John Middleton was a good-looking man about forty." 
"His manly beauty and more than common gracefulness were instantly the theme of general admiration" 
"Miss Dashwood had a delicate complexion, regular features, and a remarkably pretty figure."
I mean, Austen nailed it and she nailed it before anyone else thought of it: no one wants to read about ugly people and their love lives. The only person who is ugly is Sir John, Marianne and Elinor's weirdo cousin**. Oh and Mrs. Jennings. Who is fairly obese and gets into everyone's business. Also Edward. So it's not really an A&F catalog, it's more like Sears.

See, Elinor had this little somethin' somethin' goin' on back home with this guy named Edward. She moved, so it kind of ended abruptly. Now she spends all her time hanging out with a guy named Colonel Brandon. I call him Colonel Silverfox because he's, like, 20 years older than her but is totally going to hit that. Which I find strange but it's the 19th century and people are adhering to ridiculous social etiquette, so whatever.

Marianne (after falling down that pesky hill) meets Willoughby. Or Will Bow Bow as I've been calling him. Will Bow Bow is all about some Marianne. The two spend so much time together that everyone starts to make fun of them.
Such conduct of course made them exceedingly laughed at: but ridicule could not shame, and seemed hardly to provoke them.
That's Austen for "Wow. Those two are stuck up each others asses." At this point everyone is trying to figure out if they're engaged or not.

I am actually getting into this book and the characters. It's probably because every character gossips about every other character. It turns out I'm reading the 19th century version of Mall Rats. I can see how someone read Emma and went on to make Clueless.

Notable Lines:
  • The old gentleman died; his will was read, and like almost every other will, gave as much disappointment as pleasure.
  • She was sensible and clever, but eager in everything; her sorrows, her joys, could have no moderation.
  • The whole story would have been speedily formed under her active imagination, and everything established in the most melancholy order of disastrous love.
*I laughed extremely hard at this moment. Especially when a young strapping man shows up to carry her home. 
**Sir John is creepily nice to his female cousins. Giving them a place to live an all. He also throws parties for the younger crowd. All. The. Fucking. Time. If this book were written today Sir John would be driving a van without windows.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Jane Austen Head Spin Plan of Attack

It is a truth universally acknowledge that a blogger in possession of a good audience must be in want of a reading challenge. The challenge? Read all six of Jane Austen's novels in the month of January.

And just like how one can not simply walk into Mordor; one cannot simply walk into a reading challenge. I've outlined the order in which I will read them below. I'm going in order of publication date:
  • Sense & Sensibility (1811)
  • Pride & Prejudice (1813)
  • Mansfield Park (1814)
  • Emma (1815)
  • Northanger Abbey (1818)
  • Persuasion (1818)
I will update this blog with my progress a few times a week (every day if I can). I am using ratty copies of the novels that I purchased at a used bookstore as the free Kindle versions are oddly formatted.* 

Along the way I might even watch a few inspired movies based on the books. A few not so much**. It's going to be a Jane Austen fest this month.

Bring it on, Zombie Austen.

*Thanks Amazon! 
**the movie Clueless is loosely based on Emma, apparently.
Note: I am also reading 1Q84 this month. I figure it will balance out my sanity level. 
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