Downton Abbey 2012 Christmas Special

Downton Abbey goes Scottish!  Spoilery thoughts below (random things first and more overall storyline ones later, because that’s how I take my Downton):

 

1. I love everyone’s faces as the bagpiper goes around the table.  Next time I need to find out anyone’s real personality in a pinch I’m gonna get in a bagpiper.  Their face will tell me all I need to know about their gut reactions to things.

2. I really liked how Cora’s reaction to the Susan-Rose dynamic brought up Sybil so palpably.  It hit just the right balance between connecting to the past to hold the story believably together and not dwelling on the past so much it’s melodramatic and and a buzzkill.

3. I LOVE Rose’s dress that makes her look like a “slut.”  Yes, I would have loved anything that makes a Downton Abbey character call slut, but I genuinely like that color on Rose and the way the back straps fly.

4. KILTS.  That is all.

5. I really want to know how the Scottish fans felt about having Gilly (the Scottish accented servant) described as speaking with a voice from a “bygone age.”  That just seemed like an odd and badly-chosen term.

6. Seeing someone naked is TOTALLY the way to know how ‘nice’ someone is.  Let everyone who’s not been called back by someone after they had sex know-there should have been clues in their naked body that they were not nice enough to call.  That line was hilarious.

7. I know it’s taking awhile, but I’m tickled coral pink by the Edith Eyre storyline.  Plus, if the show pushed that relationship any quicker it’d seem more like a flighty, ill-considered, irresponsible gambit such as Edith’s been entangled in before, rather than the real relationship it’s evolving into now.  That being said, Gregson needs to figure out how to make his case without this incessant whining.  Rochester had cross-dressing, storming, and domination to overshadow his complaints, and no matter how you feel about that in a romantic hero, it beats the hell out of whining.  Gregson needs to get something like that soon.

8. Hurrah for the fair!  Just what we need in order to keep Carson’s range of disapproval going.  Carson’s Disapproval is like garlic-the always reliable, tasty, basic ingredient of this show.

9. They actually found a baby whose facial features reminded me of Sybil.  I am impressed.

10. I think incorporating Rose into the season is a very smart move.  They need more young blood, particularly with more mourning around, and there’s an awful lot of potential for interesting dynamics between her and both Cora and Maggie Smith.

11. Mrs. Patmore was the cutest thing all episode long.  Wearing a coat over her blouse so it doesn’t “jump” on people is exactly the sort of thing I’d say back then.  I would have liked it a little better if they’d shown the spice guy taking at least a few moments to try and distract Mrs. Patmore before flirting with other girls so she’d have at least that excuse and he’d be showing her at least that pinch of respect, but it’ll do.  Mainly because of the way Patmore SOLD IT when she was overcome with relief at finding out he wasn’t a real opportunity.

12. I really liked the Jimmy and Tom storyline.  Is it a little sad that Tom had to be physically assaulted to earn Jimmy’s acceptance?  Of course.  Is it believable?  Hell yeah, and good TV to boot.  When you’re constantly living with someone it’s really hard to do something out-of-the-ordinary enough to really change their opinion of you.  It made total sense to me that something that dramatic actually had to happen in order to alter their dynamic, so this didn’t even feel like punching it up to make drama like sometimes happens with this show.  It was really well done.  Also, I vehemently disagree with those who think friendship will be more cruel to Tom than awkwardness.  Tom feels guilt at himself, he feels disgust-whenever he encountered awkwardness from Jimmy all those internalized things from society would be emphasized and strengthened.  Tom needs Jimmy’s acceptance to feel all right about himself again, to erase the guilt, and to just feel like a proper human being with rights instead of the disgraced, shameful person he’d been before.  Also, I don’t think this is how the show will play it up, but in my head it makes total sense that once Jimmy does accept and forgive him, Tom will be able to stop obsessing about him.  Let’s face it-he didn’t know Jimmy enough to have anything like serious feelings for him, he was just a hot piece of ass who seemed to maybe actually be GAY and HERE and that was TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE.  It’s not love-Tom is obsessed with this because of what the reaction did to him, and now that it’s FINALLY blowing over they should be able to be true friends and even the sexual tension should start getting erased.  It’ll be great.

13. It made me so happy and Christmassy to see Ivy and Daisy, and Alfred and Jimmy, being friends.  Just everything about it=merry!

14. I took a quiz during Season 1 about which Downton Abbey character I was, and got Anna.  This first time I have ever been able to see it is when she sat there saying, “I am racy.”

15. Did anyone else expect O’Brien to get hired by Susan and jaunt off to India?  She said she’d like to see a new place, she’s losing her position on the show as evil mistress due to lack of enemies now Alfred’s all settled, and she’s totally in with Susan because of the hair issue.  I’m still surprised that did not happen.

16. Perhaps it’s because I missed the episode where Sybil died, but Matthew’s death didn’t seem in any way over-the-top or too cliched to me.  Was it a cliche?  TOTALLY.  I sat there from the instant he was all joyful-looking in his car to the end of the show saying, “They’re doing it!”  However, it felt like a Niagra Falls type of cliche: Is it what you want?  No.  Does it have any bearing on real life?  Not so much anymore, but there was a time.  Is it shiny and foreseeable?  Utterly so.  Is it incredibly easy to just melt into it and let it run its course?  For me-yes.  That’s what’s going to happen, it made sense, it was there, it fit in with the time and the series’ shiny way, and it went.  (Also, it reminded me of “Lady and the Tramp.”)  I’m fine with it.

17. Well, Branson finally got a taste of his own stalkery-bullying-persistent method of courtship.  It seems fitting.

18. Everyone needs to stop predicting Branson and Mary getting together.  That is utterly absurd.  If it happens I will have to stop watching.  Even if it is going to happen, let me keep my illusions that the writers have more sense than that for as long as possible.

19. Hurrah, Downton Abbey!  This one really worked for me.  I loved it!

Colossus: Stone and Steel-Quarrying Queries

In my review of David Blixt’s Colossus: Stone and Steel here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/colossus-stone-and-steel/ I say that it “invites intellectual debate.”  Now I’m going to follow through on that by going through the cumbersome quarries of material within this book to chisel out some interesting queries.  (I’m sorry, I had to.)

 

I present to you, Colossus: Stone and Steel Discussion Questions! 

(Expect spoilers).

1. The question of Florus’s wife Cleopatra bothers me.  As the property of Florus, at the time of this novel it would’ve been seen as fitting that she share her husband’s fate.  Undoubtedly, as his wife, she shared in the spoils of his greed and mistreatment of the Judeans.  On the other hand, can any of the blame really fall on her?  The descriptions and inner thoughts of Florus hardly include Cleopatra, let alone giving any hint that he would have behaved differently if she wasn’t there.  None of the victims mention Cleopatra as having done anything offensive on her own.  Even Berenice speaks only of Florus, and surely she would have mentioned Cleopatra by name if this wife had also slighted her.  True, Cleopatra’s personality isn’t stellar-she’s obnoxious and selfish.  Still, is that any reason for her to share the tortuous end of Florus?  Shouldn’t someone have at least thought that Cleopatra might deserve a separate fate?

 

2. Speaking of Cleopatra, is there any way in which this portrayal of Queen Berenice is not reminiscent of Elizabeth Taylor’s Cleopatra?

 

3. Colossus: Stone and Steel frequently refers to the worth of blood and ancestors.  One of the first ways this is set up is in the contrast between the businesses of Judah and Phannius.  While it’s natural to resent such differences now, particularly from the view of non-aristocrats like Judah, can all the blame really always be laid at the door of the “superior-blooded”?  Phannius is constantly described as a ‘lout’, largely because he doesn’t seem to work as hard to Judah and Asher.  He’s even indiscriminately punched in the face by Judah, for no immediate reason, only latent resentments against decisions that are not all, or even mostly, Phannius’ fault, but his mother’s.  Is it any easier for those on the upper side of the scale to overlook such attitudes concerning them?  Should it be?

-On that note, does the fact that Vespasian and Titus are allowed to flourish according to their military prowess in Rome, in spite of their lack of famous ancestors, demonstrate that Roman laws are more progressive than Judea’s?

 

4. Omens appear frequently in this book.  However, whereas Judean omens seem to derive from different interpretations of the same original texts or themes, Roman omens seem to leave more room for individuality.  Titus feels blessed because of something that happened when he was vowing over the Fifteenth’s eagle.  The eagle itself is an established historical symbol, but the wind event derives from the immediate stimulus of visual impact and shared feeling.  Titus does not need to recite other times this same event happened to other people to ensure its validity.    It is valid because he was there and it seemed propitious to those who saw it.  Nor does he need to become anything other than what he is.  Unlike Yosef, who tries to become the mahsiah, Titus’ omen is not so much about his place in society as about external events he will take part in.  Similarly, whereas Yosef’s new interpretation of Hebrew prophesies centers on Vespasian becoming an archetype in relation to others, the Roman prophesy about Vespasian’s family winning the war is purely about outside outside happenings.

-Are omens more powerful as foretellers of events or as declarations of a person’s destined place in the world?  Or more dangerous?  Titus and Vespasian may be less encumbered with deep thoughts about prophesies, but is that good or bad?  Is Yosef’s spiritual journey less genuine because it’s always tied to omens he wants to work himself into?  Or is that responsible for Yosef’s great power to adapt and therefore possibly a positive thing?

 

5. Sex appears over and over again as an underlying theme.  Yet, this too is represented very differently for the Romans and the Hebrews.  The potential for sex appears as something negative whenever the Judeans encounter it: the potential for shame if Judah and Deborah engage in it, the sexual threats to Perel, Edith, and Asher, derogatory comments about Queen Berenice, and the lesson that sexual activity removes the Lord’s presence.  On the other hand, sex is used to bolster the Roman egos-they will win the war like a seducer winning a fuck, they revel in the phallic nature of their weapons, individual men gain strength from their sexual partners.  What does this say about these culture’s views on sex?  Aside from that, which of these sexual attitudes is shown to lead to the healthiest attitudes about women?  Or is it all just foreshadowing of what side will win and which will be violated, and each character should be viewed as creating their own views on sexuality and women?

 

6. Was anyone else’s favorite scene Yosef’s mathematicide?  It was delightful in its inevitability, understated intensity, and flow!  What are some other favorite scenes and why?

 

7. The question of performance versus intention comes up a lot.  Is Deborah really who she seems to be around Judah, if she has to try to act this way?  Is Yosef really brave when fighting if he does it for the sake of those watching instead?  Are Judah and Asher really heroic for firing Roman weaponry, or is their deed tarnished by their desire to be seen as heroes like Atlas?

-Is the real difference between Yosef’s fighting and the twins’ that the twins were willing to die?  Yosef certainly believed he might die.  Was the difference that the twins truly believed it was worth it, while Yosef thought it was madness?  In that case, many of the zelotes’ deeds become noble because their doers truly thought they were needed.  Was it that Asher and Judah performed their fighting for the present moment, whereas Yosef is always thinking ahead?  If so, a lot of us are in trouble because it’s deemed wise and necessary to look ahead.  Is the difference that Asher and Judah respected the people who were watching them, while Yosef did not?

 

8. The question of whether death is greater than life offers a rich quarry, indeed.  Many people are remembered more for how they died than how they lived, the Romans believed that to die with honor was worth more than anything, is immortality granted by the living or by gods?  The side issue of whether suicide or homicide is better also plays a large role.  Is the willingness to die for a cause greater than themselves the true measure of honor?  Or is dying to prove something about yourself equally noble?  Or is either reason simply misguided?

 

9. Yosef gets a lot of flack for continually manipulating everything to try and prove who he thinks he should be.  Most notably, he kills people off to ensure he will live because he believes he’s a person who must.  However, Judah commits very similar acts.  Judah believes that his purpose in life is to be a warrior-that is who he is, the same way Yosef believes he’s a great priest.  Several times, Judah is willing to sacrifice everything and everyone else to partake in the feelings and actions of a warrior.  He rushes out of the shield wall, he wants to stay and die fighting, even if it dooms his twin and his friends, because a warrior’s who he believes he’s meant to be.  Does the fact that Judah is killing Romans instead of Judeans really excuse him from the same personality flaws as Yosef?  Judah’s actions are a more emotional response while Yosef’s are planned, but does that make them different?  Yosef’s belief can be as genuine as Judah’s and Judah’s lack of concern for others when opposed to his personal self-purpose is arguably equal to Yosef’s.  Is it just the end goal of dying (as a warrior) versus living (as a leader) that makes us more sympathetic to Judah?  If so, what does that say about current beliefs about death being greater than life?

 

10. Who betrayed Jotapata?  (Personally, I think the clues are quite clear, but it seems a fitting question to end on.)

 

 

Women’s Sexuality in “Firefly” and “Serenity”

Realization: the female characters in Firefly and Serenity have personalities that can be defined by their sexuality as seen through the heteronormative gaze.

 

How is Kaylie sexually?  Open, enthusiastic, available, nonassertive.  What is Kaylie like?  Open/friendly, enthusiastic/cheerful, available/helpful-she does the most work on that ship, and nonassertive.  She wants Simon right away, but it’s never really her choice whether they actually have sex or not.  In her line of work-she knows her stuff from the start, but nothing she does is really her decision-she takes orders from others.  How are we told to see this character?  As nice, likeable.  Why?  Because sexually available, while not officially considered the best way to live, is seen as a desirable thing in a woman by the patriarchal culture.  Hence, we are shown that Kaylie can be happy, deserves happiness, but she rarely fully achieves it since, after all, officially she is judged as a slut.

 

How is Inara sexually?  In control, independent, calculated, dramatic, and confident.  What is Inara’s personality like?  She’s highly independent, confident, she calculates her moves/picks her clients and location, has the ultimate say in her life instead of listening even to Mal, and her presence tends to be dramatic in the show-sexual tension, exotic stories, having a large presence.  Yet, as basically a courtesan, we are shown that she will never achieve happiness-this calculating, independent way of life/sexuality stands between her and Mal, and basically Inara and happiness.  Why?  Because the current culture frowns on courtesans.

 

How is Saffron sexually?  Manipulative, calculating, opportunistic, and dangerous insomuch as she uses seduction as a weapon.  What is Saffron like?  Manipulative, calculating, opportunistic, and dangerous inasmuch as she uses everything in her arsenal as a weapon.  Does Saffron ever really win?  Nope, she always ends up the worse for wear.  After all, can’t have a woman who uses sex to her own gain, or as a weapon, ever be happy, unless it’s proved to be an illusion.

 

How is Zoe sexually?  As a married woman with a clearly active sex life she’s loyal, athletic, private, and always working in a relationship.  How does Zoe function as a character?  She’s loyal, athletic, private inasmuch as whenever Zoe tells a story from the past it’s a big deal, and always working within a relationship-even when she’s apart from Mal she’s generally operating within orders given by him or previously worked out with him.  This is not to say she’s the lesser partner in her relationships-she’s often the commander, the more dominant one, but still-always within relationships instead of on her own.  Is Zoe happy?  As the woman in the heteronormatively approved marriage relationship, yes, Zoe is generally seen as happy (dangerous exploits notwithstanding).

 

River, naturally, is harder to talk about but basically is seen as a nonsexual entity, just as she’s viewed as something-other-than-normal-human category in life, so the trend continues.

 

This is not meant to detract from the show, but rather the sharing of a sudden realization I had while looking at Firefly paraphernalia.  Any thoughts yea/nay?

Compromising Prudence (The Mad Hatterlys)

Compromising Prudence (The Mad Hatterlys #1)

By: Marguerite Butler

(http://margueritebutler.blogspot.com/)

Aurora Regency (Musa Publishing) 2010

An historical romance fiction review

(Review of The Mad Hatterlys #2 at https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/becoming-mr-brooking-the-mad-hatterlys/)

 

When Prudence decides to take control of her own destiny her defiant spirit quickly enmeshes her with strange men, strange places, and more alcohol than is advisable to imbibe.  When her path crosses with bird-loving Charles Hatterly, Prudence finds that compromising may be the key to achieving her new, independent life.  Charles Hatterly is far from used to compromising, but finds himself doing so more and more when it comes to Prudence.  Will their arrangement rescue them both from their family’s censure?  Or will it just lead them into imprudent decisions and compromised positions?

Compromising Prudence is a tuxedo strawberry of a book!  It’s sweet, fresh, and charming, with an orderly outside to complement its natural inner deliciousness.  The rules of society surround Butler’s story, but always come second to the main characters’ personalities.  Prudence is wonderfully strong-willed without becoming the stereotypical headstrong heroine.  Likewise, Charles’ ability to adapt his thinking gives him more maturity than the usual bewildered bachelor.  The emotions of these characters, particularly Prudence, read as very organic and relatable.  Their relationship dynamic is delightful because once they’ve met it arises from simple experience of each other rather than relying on shocking events or societal values.  The lack of melodrama doesn’t dull Butler’s book, but adds extra lightness, making this a quick, easy read for whiling away plane time, car trips, rainy days, or tea time.  But it’s the inherent likability of Charles and Prudence that drives this romance to the level of sweetness that turns Compromising Prudence from plain fruit into tuxedo strawberries.

Elijah Wood on Classy

This photo from the September issue of Vogue is marvelous!  It purports to be from a movie concerning Henry James and Edith Wharton, but it’s clear what is really happening here.  These guys got together over their insistence that the new version of “classiness” has existed in all classes in the past and decided to get a custom photo done for that purpose, as preparation for launching their acapella quartet called “Class Half  Full”.  Their signature thing is that every song intro involves these puppies barking: their names are Camella and Maximillien.  However, as they were setting up a “bypasser” named Dominic Monaghan informed Elijah that it wasn’t classy to just leave a middle button undone like that.  Elijah was not amused, especially as Dom was wearing his leather cuffs, rainbow-painted nails, and scruffiest outfit for the day.  Also, his trademark smirk.  Elijah here is about to respond with an incredulous, scornful remark.  The guy on the far right is also insulted and ready to back Elijah up.  The guy on the far left just wants to get the picture taken so he can go home and figure out if it’s still worth it to go into the band with these rowdy guys, who might actually be nothing but riffraff.  The girl is enjoying the spectacle and getting a tad turned on.  By the end of this incident, there will be naked mud wrestling.  Maybe even in a classy way.

“Garden of Bones” GoT 2×4

WHAT IN THE HOLY FUCK?  LITERALLY.  Also, spoilers.

Dear Robb, are you trying to switch from here to being a prince in Ever After?  You clearly share taste in girls, going by the nurse’s ranting.  Good on you for remembering to always send the direwolf in first, winning, refusing torture, and being helpful, though.  However, what do you mean you have no idea what to do if you win the war?  I do not have the time to educate you on this and you won’t have time to figure it out later.  At the very least plan out who to delegate finding a proper plan for that to.

Dear scriptwriters, why is it always a leg amputation?  Couldn’t it at least be an arm sometimes, so it doesn’t get so old?

Dear Joffrey, why?  You could’ve been interesting as the only really necessary requirements for you to be villainous here are to be a bastard and side with Cersei.  Why must you go all psycho?  I imagine you and Christian Bale from American Psycho could have a grand, old time.

Dear Sansa, very good!  Hold the party line!  I’m impressed.

Dear Natalie Dormer, what the hell are they making you wear?  That dress looks like the bottom two result of a Project Runway assignment for something avant garde who thinks making stupid necklines is the way of the future and really wanted to use gold gold somewhere but didn’t get enough fabric for the original idea, so just added the ridiculous flower things at the armpits.  And was that blue leopard print???

Dear Baelish, go study Shakespeare’s Richard III.  He could’ve gotten Jaime and a betrothal to Catelyn, too.  Go on.  Shoo.

Dear writers, who are ‘the brotherhood’?  Why add all the new prisoners to the batch of old ones when you know they won’t know anything you want to know?  If you really want to know this, why just one a day?  Just to stall so the main characters can be saved?  Cause I don’t approve of that.

Dear Tywin, much love, as always!  I’d like it if you put a shrewder man in charge of your operation here, but I understand-this is your Isengard and sometimes you’ve just got to send out orcs and hope they don’t mess up or eat all your prisoners instead of bringing you things alive and unspoiled.  I look forward to more of your company.

Dear Renley and Stannis, congratulations!  You finally managed to show up in the same episode!  At the same time, even!  Renley wins most meta remark for noting that a battle between folks with the same standard would be ‘terribly confusing’.  Stannis wins a point in his comments to Catelyn.

Dear Daenerys, maybe you could let Jorah talk for you once in awhile.  Or at least point out that you’re not Dothraki?  Or perhaps negotiate for having food and water sent out if they’re that adverse to letting Dothraki in?  I know it worked out, but that was alll luck, girl-that guy didn’t have to step up for you.  You had other options is what I’m saying here, and you didn’t seem to think you had any more.  Think.  You get a pass this time due to dehydration and hunger.  Also, because the guy who stepped up for you did a good job spinning that well by calling it, “breathing fire.”

Dear Tyrion, very fun and a much better impression of Shakespeare’s Richard III than Baelish.  I hope you’re not planning to trust that kid too far, though-he reminds me of Wembley Fraggle.  Blonde hair, noisy, unable to stick to decisions, goes along with everyone else…he even looks side to side in a similar way when he’s flustered.  What’s wrong with him, is he not really a Lannister?  *raises brow*  Also, good one with ‘anointed’.

Dear ‘Onion Knight’, what’s with that name?  More importantly, WHY ARE YOU NOT RUNNING?  OR SCREAMING?  Or throwing the lamp on the…holy hell thing?

Dear Melisandre, WHAT IN THE HOLY HELL?  I thought “dark and full of terrors” was supposed to describe what happens to your enemies, not, ya know, YOUR LOINS!  Wait…is that why having sex with her equals giving oneself to her god?  Because he’s INSIDE OF THERE and will then have access to anointing  you, or injecting your veins with the drugs, when your dick is also inside her?  I need to not be watching this anymore right now.

The (Other) Borgia Bulletin: Tom Fontana’s “Borgia”

Fontana’s Netflixed version of the Borgias’ story was a wonderful find to tide me over until Showtime’s version begins again inasmuch as it was so wonderfully different that it’s difficult to compare the two.  Of course, I’m about to do so anyway.

 

First and Overall impressions: The scenery and costumes are beautiful, with a more understated vibe.  This is attempting to show how people actually had pomp and circumstance, rather than bringing in TV pomp and circumstance to sell it.  This version sports accents on a spectrum, with those who soaked it up like Lucrezia forcing me to pause a moment to figure out what she’s saying til I got used to it, while others who didn’t pick it up well, like Rodrigo, sounding normal.  As the season goes on these discrepancies fade, but it made it difficult to stay in the show until that part.  The season starts earlier than the Showtimes’ version and ends in the same place as Showtimes’ second season.  This is because Fontana’s “Borgia” is focused much more on linear, intersecting stories that connect their dots, whereas Showtime’s “Borgias” tends to get caught up in certain themes and gratuity, allowing for sudden segues and some rambling storytelling.  Fontana also enhances context by ensuring that the influence of outside monarchs and European politics like those of Queen Isabella is keenly felt and placing the Borgia family firmly within the physical history of Rome.

Both versions are full of violence and nudity, but whereas Showtime cloaks these things in the aura of glamor, sexiness, showmanship, this version is the complete opposite: it offers up these things with no accompanying pageantry at all.  Lots of people are nude, many of them are not attractive.  If you have sex, you’re showing skin, we’re not making a big deal out of it-it’s just here for the logistics.  Violence was part of everyday life and we’re pounding that home with a whooole lot of bloody, pounding, simple acts.  There’s no music to lend it meaning, no quarter for those who’d rather blunt that side, no gratuitous feeling about the high dosage of in-your-face brutality.  We’ve got a couple naked guys strung upside down, getting sawed in half cock-first.  That’s just what we’ve got to deal with here. *shrug*

Most importantly, this version incorporates Cardinal-punching.  Cardinals punching each other in the face, in front of all the others and sometimes the Pope,too, is what is missing from the Showtime version.  Although, Showtime has monkeys and panthers.  This one has a sad lack of wildlife.

 

Characters:

On Cesare: Here is the greatest difference from the Showtime version.  Whereas that Cesare is a sophisticated manipulator and actor, suave in what he does, this version is just completely out of control and at the mercy of his “passions.”  Frankly, I don’t know that this version could pull off Machiavellian, which is interesting.  He is the epitome of this show’s vibe that the  family is just batshit, balls-out INSANE, rather than the cool, mafia-esque family of Showtime.  This shows Cesare going from elegant villain like early Lucius Malfoy to the psychopath that is Bellatrix, with God standing in for Bellatrix’s Voldemort.

On Juan: The events of his life and what stripe his deeds are marks the main line of agreement between the two versions.

On Lucrezia: Her story arc is the most exciting!  While both versions show Lucrezia starting out childlike, this version seems to act young for far longer.  Moreover, all possible incest rumors concerning her are taken on much more straight-on: the causes of the rumors, the potential for truth, what her policy on sex is-all are dealt with directly, rather than being winked at by the Showtime version.

On Giulia Farnese: This character is far more intriguing here.  While powerful in both versions, this Giulia is much more present and involved in all aspects of the family’s life.  Moreover, her power seems much more her own, while the other version makes it clear that she wields it through Rodrigo.  Not that this isn’t the case here, but she’s endowed with wiles and deviousness here, as well as standing from the Pope.  In fact, this Giulia holds so much power that she seems to lack direction in the use of it here.  She’s slinking around the Vatican like a woman at the party.  Most femme fatals either go in for the kill like that and move on to other parties/areas to work in, or work through the guests creating the mood or atmosphere that she likes, such as chaos.  This Giulia Farnese simply slinks around most of the time, influencing a few things here and there, but basically just adding an element of excitement and glamor to the crowd.  And while this crowd needs that, it’d be nice to see her slinking more aggressively or directly sometimes, instead of sticking to general slinkage.

On Alessandro Farnese: This character is unique to Fontana’s “Borgia” and is possibly my favorite.  Cesare’s best friend and Giulia’s brother, Alessandro is the guest who is popular with everyone because he’s so nice and so in-provocative that he makes no enemies, but the reader of the mystery story suspects he’s really the killer just because they’ve noticed it’s usually who you don’t expect (and also he constantly has access and opportunity).  The possibility of seeing his character develop more fully would be the main inducement to make more of this series, I think.

On Della Rovere: This version of the character is a violent, impulsive little troll who could never play poker because his temper would make him crumple the cards whenever he got a bad hand.  Showtime’s version gives him nobility, piety, patience, a plan, and a monkey.  This version makes him the instigator of the Cardinal-punching.  Frankly, I don’t know which is more fun.

Rodrigo I simply cannot compare, since it’s hardly this actor’s fault that he is not Jeremy Irons.  Michiletto I am also unable to discuss as he is largely a silent character in this version.  All I can really say is that the possibility of exploring him further is another good argument for making more of this series.  On the other hand, I’m just find not seeing anymore, simply because I find the in-your-face violence scenes difficult to swallow and the underlying current of INSANITY makes me stare in awe rather than experience more enjoyable reactions.  On the other hand, these are purely matters of taste, which is really the main thing that separates “Borgia” and “Borgias.”  If you prefer linear stories and scenes with less flashy showmanship, than this is the one for you.  I officially gift the dangerous, violent thing to you, a la PANTHER!

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Similar Posts:

-https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/06/22/the-borgia-bulletin-3×10-the-prince/

https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/05/27/attested-development-thoughts-on-arrested-development-season-4-as-a-whole/

Little Otik

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0228687/

 

This film, based on a Czech fairy tale, is bizarre and horrifying.  The tale goes that a couple wants a child, but is barren.  One day the man finds a tree stump that reminds him of a child, so he shapes it like one. It, Otik/Otesanek comes alive, eats his parents, and rampages around eating mammals until he finds a cabbage patch.  He eats cabbages too, but the old woman who grew them guts him with a hoe.  Otik dies and everybody he ate comes back out.

 

This movie brings things into the modern day.  The barren wife is the Miss Haversham of wanting a child.  The director adds a lot of strange, obsessive oddities about food.  There’s a neighbor girl who ‘feeds’ Otik people to eat after his father gets creeped out and hides him.  Otik does wind up eating cabbages and presumably getting gutted by a hoe.  However, the (really long) film ends before we see his demise.

 

I have some theories about all this.

1-“Little Otik” is a statement promoting vegetarianism.  The thing eats whatever it’s told is food.  His parents quickly learn that after he’s tasted meat, Otik wants meat and he doesn’t distinguish between meat other people consume and people.  His interaction with the neighbor girl where she tells him she is not food shows that it can learn and distinguish, but that it sees no difference on its own between pork, cats, and humans.  It’s nothing but a great appetite that eats cattle and people in the tale.  As the girl says, it is ‘blameless’ because it only follows urges that it’s learned.  It even washes its ‘hands’, showing that it can be civilized when someone shows it how.  The thing is, everyone else eats meat too, so no one can explain the line between being carnivorous and murder.  When Otik discovers cabbages, that switch signals the end of this frightening appetite.  The old woman who grew the cabbages is never shown to eat anything else, so has no connection to anything but vegetables.  The ‘vegetarian’, then, saves the day by having the power to stop appetites from eating things they should not.  The director wants us to apply this to ourselves and become vegetarian.  We don’t need to see the actual climax of Otik dying because the consuming of cabbages is what’s really important here.

 

2. While not specifically vegetarian oriented, this film is demonstrating that the way we approach food is the same way that we approach the other fundamental aspects of life, death and sex.  The father sees babies in, of all things, food during is obsession (perhaps because they’re alive?).  The tree stump was the first non-food item.  Perhaps Otik constantly ate meat because he was a wooden thing trying to become the meat, flesh-and-blood baby the father wanted.  Eat enough meat he’ll become meat, or good enough.

The neighbor girl constantly read/talked about sex and birth while eating or when her mother cooked.  She also had a habit of oddly touching her food.  Clearly, in matters of sex, birth, and food she saw connections and wanted to be involved.  No wonder she was the one who linked food with death by feeding Otik humans.  That’s how she eats, so that’s how she’ll judge the line of behaviour concerning others’ life, death, and food.  Her father’s hallucinations about food just further illustrated that the way you perceive everything else in your life will always come back to what and how you eat.  As the frugal foodmaker, the girl’s mother was the one with the sense and fear to barricade people in and try to protect her family.  This is reminiscent of other fairy tales where wives are chosen and people are evaluated based on watching them eat (cheese, in the version I know).  Thus, the old woman has the power to kill Otik because she not only eats, she balances it out with growing more food to replenish the cycle.  Balance triumphs over excess!

 

3. Saying that sex and food are two appetites that everybody thinks they know about, but that still encounter all kinds of problems all the time.  The old pedophile’s desire for small girls-wrong, but the adults still like him and refuse to see it.  It’s clear the couple’s desire for a baby is unhealthy, but everyone refuses to see the awful results until the little girl basically tells them by reciting the fairy tale.  Everyone gets together and eats every day, but the food represents their own obsessions-sex, what alcohol does to commercials, children.  Only the person who grows their own food, who’s intimately acquainted with nurturing what goes into their body, instead of consuming or killing it, has the willpower and self-control to stop human appetites when they get nasty.  This version could say the film is a plea to return to more organic things food, or simply to be more aware of what’s around you.  Inside every human is a desire with the size and potential to become like Otik-slaughtering everything in its path.  Be aware and ready to control it!  And, for God’s sake, never just stand by and let someone be the Miss Haversham of anything, ever!

 

I know some of those overlapped, but I needed all thoughts about this movie out of my head.

In more palatable news (…sortof)

the ragbag – how to make cockle bread -or- for wunderpantry:….

Apparently England used to host a specialty baked good called “cockle bread.”  It involved women kneading/shaping bread dough to their nether regions and then presenting the baked loaf to their preferred man.

“cockle bread was a popular stuart-era baked good said to excite the passions of men. young women would make it for the objects of their affection by sitting on raw dough with their naked derriere, kneading it with their privy parts by madly wriggling around and singing the cockle bread song:

my dame is sick and gonne to bed
and i’ll go mould my cockle bread
up with my heels and down with my head
and this is the way to mould cockle bread”

-Apparently garnered from brand’s popular antiques (1905).

I went looking into this and found an alternative shaping method in Lisa Splittgerber :: Aphrodisiacs in the Libro de buen amor: Serranas’ Sexy Secrets:

“…the tradition of cockle bread which was described as:

. . . a small piece of dough which the girl would knead and then press against the vulva. The dough, moulded to this shape, was then baked in the normal way and the loaf presented to the man she sought to attract. If he ate it, he would fall beneath her spell and be powerless to resist. Similar types of charms have been used throughout Europe and indeed may still be used in primitive country regions (Taberner 46-47).”

Wikipedia says:

John Aubrey wrote of it: Young wenches have a wanton sport which they call ‘moulding of cocklebread’ – they get upon a table-board, and then gather up their knees and their coates with their hands as high as they can then they wabble to and fro with their buttocks as if they were kneading of dough with their arses, and say these words: ‘My dame is sick and gone to bed/ And I’ll go mould my cocklebread’. I did imagine nothing to have been in this but mere wantonness of youth … but I find in Buchardus’s book Methodus Confitendi … one of the articles of interrogating a young woman is, if she did ever subjugere panem clunibus, and then bake it, and give it to the one she loved to eat … So here I find it to be a relic of natural magic, an unlawful philtrum [i.e. aphrodisiac or love charm]. [from A. McLaren, Reproductive Rituals (1984), p. 37].

Nursery rhyme

In the 19th and 20th centuries, Cockle-Bread was a children’s game in which one squats on his/her haunches with hands clasped beneath the thighs, while others grasp his/her arms and swing him/her to and fro. This action was often accompanied by a rhyme:

My granny is sick and now is dead
And we’ll go mould some cocklety bread
Up with the heels and down with the head
And that’s the way to make cocklety bread.”
—-
Forget bread and circuses!  Give me bread, sex, magic, and rhymes-it’s a much more rounded survival plan.    Also, as entertaining!  If the arenas hosted competition in these arts…actually, that picture’s not really that different from how ancient Roman life is often depicted now.  Still, the point is made. 

Sleeping Beauty as Stalker

Breezes from Wonderland » Blog Archive » Sleeping Beauty as Stalker.

 

“With Disney in production on a Sleeping Beauty film with  Angelina Jolie starring Maleficent, producer Neal Moritz is moving forward with a comedy take of  the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale that turns the slumbering sweetie into a pesky stalker.

The 21 Jump Street producer is developing a modern-day retelling that finds the male protagonist accidentally awakening Sleeping Beauty and finding that he can’t get rid of the lovestruck heroine.”

 

Here’s the thing about this: doesn’t it sound just like the beginning of Twilight?  There’s a ‘special’ guy (prince/vampire/just rich guy(?), what’s the difference in this vampire fetish age?) who attracts the attention of a young girl.  The young girl feels this man is the source of her ‘awakened’ self, her interest in this new world she finds herself in, and refuses to let him shake her off.  If this Sleeping Beauty starts stalking the guy without knowing what makes him ‘special’ then the similarities get even scarier.  At least a prince’s sparkles, no matter what time period he’s in, are likely to be confined to his clothes.

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