& the slipper still fits

Downton Abbey, Season 2

Downton Abbey Season 2 starts on the 8th (this Sunday) for us slowpokes over here in the US on our local PBS stations. Season 1 is replaying now, but you can catch almost all of it on PBS online. I can't wait for more Downton drama! 

North and South episode 4

First please forgive me if there are some horrible typos...but I wanted this post posted before the New Year and find very little time to proof it.

Here we are, dear reader, at the wrap up of North and South. And while much has happened through the last episodes, this last hour is full of character arches and resolutions. Margaret has not only learned Milton ways, but begun to think more like an adult. And of course, we get to see a very happy ever after.

Brains to Work 
The strike is over, and what's worse, Nicholas is struggling to find work. As a leader of the strike, and as one of the union's strongest advocates, none of the mill owners will take him on. Compounded by the fact that Nicholas has taken on all of Boucher's children -- he's in a very tough place. Margaret urges him to take another chance on asking Thornton, reminding him that Thornton is a steady and reasonable man who would value Nicholas' work ethic and honesty over everything. When Nicholas goes to see Thornton, waiting all day for the chance to speak with him, Thornton throws him out. Nicholas finishes the meeting with this final line, "I was told to ask you by a woman who thought you had a kindness about you." Thornton knows exactly who that woman is.

After investigating Higgin's situation, Thornton does give him a job and the two men, though walking in very different "worlds" form a strong friendship based on honesty and even, dare I say it?, humor. The good of the worker is good for the mill and based on this principle, the two make a dynamic pair.

I LOVE the scenes with Thornton and Higgins. They are fantastic. Simply put. What you see, are two men who actually think a great deal alike, and they are just looking at situations from difference perspectives. Higgins begins to fulfill an older brother role for John and their mutual respect for each other is refreshing to see.

Goodbye, I love you
Mr. Hale never recovered from the death of his wife. And when he goes on holiday with Mr. Bell to his old college stomping grounds, we soon fear his fate. He never returns to Milton, and Margaret is left completely alone. Her aunt comes from London to take her back "home" and Margaret has no real other choice. Mr. Bell, her new guardian in name, doesn't live in Milton either. But before she goes, she wants to say goodbye to her friends.

As she says goodbye to the Thorntons you can feel her longing not to leave. And in seeing her eyes, John's cold heart melts towards her. Again she is the love of his life, and again he will loose her. But this time, it's not because she is rejecting him. As she leaves in the carriage, John utters the most memorable lines in the whole mini-series: "Look back, look back at me."

This might just be me, but I truly believe that if Margaret said, "I don't want to go." Thornton would have proposed again on the spot. Literally, the only thing keeping these two apart at the moment is their belief in the other's indifference. They both long to say they love one another, but pride and impressions make it impossible. I cry every time I see this scene. It's just so sadly lovely.

Despite hard Work, it all comes crashing down
The strike might not have helped the workers, but it sure didn't help the mill owners either. Thornton can't fill the orders he has on time, and he can't receive payment for them till they are filled. Long story short - he has a huge cash flow problem. It might, perhaps, be solved by a 100 to 1 speculation, but John refused to play with the money he's fought so hard to make, or the money to be paid the workers. And despite everything, John looses the mill he strove so hard to make prosperous.

Watching John slowly loose the mill, is heartbreaking. What's worse, is seeing the lives of the workers improve thanks to he and Higgins' ideas, only to know that soon none of it will matter.

Home Again
Mr. Bell comes to visit Margaret, give over all his fortune, and cheer her up with a walk down memory lane. They return to Hellstone for the day and Margaret realizes that her childhood home is not what she remembers now that her mother and father are gone. She returns with an adjusted sense of reality and a new maturity.

Returning to Hellstone makes the story come full circle for me. Margaret sees her home differently because it is no longer her home. I feel this is her last step to knowing she belongs with Thornton. It wouldn't matter if the North was the South or the South was London, so long as she could call living with John home. Margaret learns, what we have always heard, home is were the heart it.

You can Explain
Hearing that Thornton's mill has closed, Margaret rushes to see what she can do to help -- she is in love with him, after all. And Thornton, free for a moment of responsibility, ventures to the South to see the beauty which is bred into Margaret's soul. On their respective ways home, they cross each other's path at the train station. Somehow, after months apart, even thing that they couldn't say at their last meeting is implied and there is no pretense left. Margaret tells John of her business proposition, which will enable him to run the mill again. John knows she would not offer such a generous deal if she still thought of him as a cold businessman. Margaret, after offering fifteen thousand pounds and her love, returns home with John on the North-bound train.

This scene is not in the book. Well, it is, but it is done very differently. I adore the new version and its the HUGE payoff everyone dreams for in a costume drama. With the kiss between John and Margaret (and the reveal of Richard Armitage throat) costume drama is revived. Ask anyone -- there hadn't been a strong, beautifully adapted or filmed costume drama since 1995. And it was with this single, and final, scene we are given a new milestone in mini-series and hero to adore. It really is the best kiss in --I'm going to be 12 for a second -- forever, like completely forever.

North and South changed the BBC landscape. It proved you didn't have to have an Austen or Dickens attached to the title for it to be a runaway hit. North and South wasn't expected to do anything the season it aired and it has become a herald of the genre and a classic in its own right.

And now, with my winter rewatch complete, I can look to the spring and all the new films and seasons coming soon.

North and South Episode 3

Hello dear reader! After a whole week of insaneness at work, I've finally been able to get to my own computer for a few moments -- that is, until I get rushed out to Christmas shop in a few hours. But fighting the crazy crowds of Park City Center is not why you're here. You're here to read about our 3rd installment in my North and South rewatch.

Uneasy Relations
Thornton leaves the Hale household rejected and Margaret's words injure him more deeply than we thought possible. He walks Milton, not in anger, but in desperation. How is to forget the woman he loves? Even if she will never love him back. As episode three continues, We come to see that Margaret's impulsive actions to reject him may not have been her own true feelings. Many times throughout the episode we see Margaret and John orbit closely towards each other, a closeness binding them no one else can name. Even though Margaret refused John's hand, she defends him viciously to others and (since we know better) we see where she begins to love him and aknowledge that love. Personally, I love these tense and akward moments between John and Margaret. They begin to see each other differently, and that look is colored by quiet love. 

Margaret and Bessie
Bessie is Margaret's only confidant in Milton. Despite their social differences, they are both young women who are looking at the world, desperate to change it; and they are both the anchors of their family. Bessie suffers from fluff in her lung, an ailment that will take her life before she truly has a chance to live it. And in episode three we see Bessie pass quietly away. Bessie's friendship and the open-hearted welcome Margaret receives from her family, is a bright spot throughout the entire series. When Bessie dies it is like Margaret has lost another sibling. Seeing Bessie's passing Margaret's experience in Milton comes full circle and it maarks the death of her northern innocence.

Fredrick who?
Margaret has a brother...did we remember that? With her mother do I'll, Margaret sends of Fredick who is hiding in Spain. Fred's arrivals and stay. Use be Mel silent - he is wanted for mutiny and his presence in Milton, if known, would only cause more heartache for the Hale family. I love Fredrick. Not more than Thornton, but as much in a different way. He's passionate, loyal, and loving and you can tell that the only thing between him and his family in the world is the law. When he arrives, the family feels whole again and Margaret is able to breathe. Their closeness is refreshing and, even though it is a sad time, their time together is sweet. 

The Great Exhibition
Just before the turn of the century, Prince Albert commissioned a great exhibition from acrossed the empire to show England the vast reach of its people. Margaret is invited by her aunt to join her in London for it, and her mother encourages her to go. At the exhibition Margaret sees John, Fanny, and Miss Linton and defends the Milton men to London onloookers. John also meets Henry Lenox and knows exactly why he has joined Margaret' s party for the day. The great exhibition is the highlight of episode three. Margaret gives John hope and John stares done Henry fiercely. The new, lighter, setting of the scene is lovely and brings a brightness to the very heavy episode. We also get to see a sincerely emotionally tense moment between Margaret and John that is just too good to pass up. 

Mrs. Hale requests a favor 
While Margaret is in London, Mrs. Hale requests a favor from Mrs. Thornton - the irony of this does not escape the viewer. Mrs. Hale is dying and she wants Mrs. Thornton to help guide her daughter in her absence. Mrs. Thornton hesitantly agrees, her own feelings swallowed for the sake of the dying women. Here we see how differently life have treated these women. Mrs. Thornton really has no patience for Mrs. Hale and this emotion compounded with her anger towards Margaret, makes her agreement an even more honorable testament to her character. We start to realize there is more to these mothers than meeting the eye - there has to be, haven't you seen their children? 

All we have left is episode 4! Are you excited?

Episode 2, North and South

I was so excited for the four-day weekend, dear reader, because it meant even more time to watch North and South. But I've been good! And am determined to watch the episode then blog, the watch the next one. It's actually rather refreshing, I must say. I have for you the second post in this mini-series of four. I wonder what made this episode's cut?

Mother and Son
The second episode opens with a strike looming. While everything seems to be shaking around John, his mother is a powerful moor of strength.  We begin to see the everyday life of the people of Milton and learn much more of the Hale's history.

Throughout the second episode we get to see the amazing relationship John has with his mother. Her unflinching outlook on life, and her fierce determination to see John succeed, bolsters his own confidence. In many ways, Mrs. Thornton is John's only ally in his life. When seen with Mrs. Thornton, John is allowed to show his humorous side, his thoughtful side, he's able to be a bit of a dreamer. It's two actors acting brilliantly opposite each other. For example, John's conversation with Mrs. Thornton before he goes to propose to Margaret is stunning.

The Strike is Brewing
As word of a strike flows through Milton, Margaret is interested to learn more -- not so much the how, but why. On a errand for her mother, she ends up at Thornton's mill and has her first real conversation with him.Still struggling with the customs of Milton, Margaret is eager to learn as much as she can so that she knows how to help. And when the strike finally does occur, she stands her ground that helping those who need help is the only way to live.

Episode 2 is full of lovely Thornton and Margaret moments and many of them have an intense spark of emotion connected to them. I mean, come on -- those looks John gives with his eyes? SO delicious. 

The Dinner Party
The Thorntons always have an annual dinner on the same day, and -- even with the strike -- it brings out the best of Milton Society. And the key topic during dinner?  The strike. While Margaret is forced to defend her ideals, the rest of the party looks on, surprised and unsure. When she gets home, Margaret discovers that her mother is very unwell. Desperate to grant her mother's dying wish Margaret writes to her brother, living in hiding in Spain, hoping he will return home to see Mrs. Hale one last time. 

The dinner party has to be one of my favorite scenes in the whole mini-series. The coloring of the whole scene is beautiful and refreshing and the dialogue is crafted in such a way that tension builds ferociously, but is unable to climax due to the harsh demands of polite society. 

Strike breakers
The strike has continued on long past the Thornton's dinner party and everyone is becoming desperate. Nicholas struggles to help those union men who need more help to feed their families without work. John refuses to go quietly and enlists workers from Ireland. When some of the strikers get wind of the plot, they raid Thornton's mill, hungry for blood. Margaret happens to be there at the time and in rushes to help John against the mob after she pressures him to go and talk to them. Aiming for John, a rock hits Margaret and knocks her unconscious. Once Margaret falls, the strike is broken.

Margaret challenges John's outlook on the strikers directly during this scene, and faced with an angry mob and the openness of her convictions, he takes her advice. John trusts Margaret completely, is what we see; and afterwards, he's humbled that Margaret would defend him. He wants to marry her afterward because he can't imagine not being with her any longer. 

The Proposal 
After Margaret's injury at the mill, John wants to make sure she's alright -- and wants to marry her desperately -- Mrs. Thornton, however, doesn't see John desire as much as she sees his sense of propriety. Margaret's actions during the strike were VERY indelicate and imply that her and John have a more intimate relationship. To end gossip, it would only be proper for John to propose marriage. But then he goes to see Margaret the next day and she flatly refuses his advances and proposal.

Proposal scenes in general are cringe worthy for me. P&P - can't watch it. This was the first time ever I sat through the entire North and South proposal riveted. Richard Armitage is able to so brilliantly show his emotions subtly on his face that your heart breaks with his own when Margaret refuses him. Margaret blunders more, because she's trying to convince herself that she does not love him. Thus, she doesn't even consider his feelings in her remarks. 

At the end of episode 2, we've been in Milton almost a year with Margaret and John; we've been through the rise and fall of a strike; we're dealing with the harsh refusal of a hopeful proposal. Good lord, it can't get and worse.

A Thank You on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving this year seemed to creep up on me. And so all my thoughts on thankfulness have been condensed into the last 3 days. What have I been thankful for this year? Did I even want to think about all the changes that have happened in the last 12 months? Then I lifted my head and saw it. My New Year's resolutions. They've been posted all year by my desk -- just sitting there, challenging me. And as I looked at them, I realized I've accomplished more than I thought, but only thanks to some very special family and friends. And so, this year, I'm saying a

Resolution 1 - Be More Daring
Since last November 24, I feel like I've grown into myself. You know, its that gradual acceptance that its okay to have your own ideas and voice them; its okay to have thicker skin; its okay to impulsively (sometimes) say yes and just leap out of my comfort zone. I completely credit -- or blame -- my wonderful job and the many hats I am fortunate enough to wear during it. Thank you to my work family who, not only opened their offices, but their hearts and wisdom to me and give me the trust and freedom to grow. 

Resolution 2 - Realize I am beautiful 
I think, dear reader, all women struggle with positive self image -- and for a while, I was okay with being "kinda pretty". I never thought it could get better, and thank goodness it wasn't worse, so I just went through my everyday not thinking about striking beauty. 

In the last year though, with the unparalleled and gracious blog posts and comments from women like Ankia, Casee, Bere, and Lala, and the twitter rewatch crew (@darbydashwood @So_Meow @joybtx @ladyrelaynie @aramblingfancy) I've realized I'm not just average -- and no one is. Their confidence has continually boasted my own and their bright and warm  cheerfulness is infectious. Thank you dear bloggers and online friends. You've changed not only my outlook on life, but myself as well. 

Resolution 3 - Accept things I cannot change
Post graduation has really been a test of this resolution. There have been so many things in the last year that I haven't been able to control, that I've taken to heart the things I can. My identity, my truth, my relationships, my actions, my creativity and determination: I've realized that things happen to me not as much because of me, but because others have to live their lives as well, and if I keep to myself and be the best me, good things will always happen. 

I've an unnerving worry about the unknown. And this last year of life lessons has proved that true usefulness of "you can't plan for everything". Thank you to every oops, little change up, and unexpected surprise that has happened throughout the year to loosen me up.  

Resolution 4 - Remember to Dream Big
Dreaming over these last few years has certainly changed, at least what I dream about. It's not that I've "grown up" or that reality has somehow crushed my imagination, but I've realized that my dreams themselves have changed and they're just as big as before -- if not different. Because, you know that dream of having that book of mine completed and out for options is a huge dream...its just not being a huge movie star. Thank you to that family of mine, who let me be silly and rant and rave and dream, even when they don't get it at all. 

Have a very happy Thanksgiving all! Have a wonderful day!

Its a North and South thing, Ep 1

I remember the day I went to buy North and South at the bookstore, dear reader. I scavenged the movie section in vain for 30 minutes, only to be hopelessly disappointed when I couldn't find it. Then, in a delusion of desperation, I went to the clerk and asked if they had a copy of "North and South" in stock. Her reply, "Why would you want THAT movie." I gushed, "because it's a beautiful story with lovely scenery and John Thornton." She sneered, and said she was affronted I could think a movie about the horrors of the Civil War was beautiful. I stammered, shocked, we were not thinking of the same North and South, and before I could clarify it was a BBC miniseries about the industrial revolution and that I wasn't oogling 80's hair, the clerk was gone.

I left the store that day, embarrassed and without a purchase. Instead, I bought North and South 2 weeks later online and never looked back. Sometimes loving a little known movie here in the states can lead you to very strange conversations, or some shocking customer service. Its why only my really good friends, and you reader, know how much I love these classic stories turned into film.

And I must say, North and South is in a continual struggle with Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre for my top affections. However, around Thanksgiving the DVD begins calling me to watch it, begging me to return to the world of mills and trains and cravats. And I always give in. This year though, I thought you'd like to join me. 

Now I won't be summarizing N&S like I've done with The Borgias, I'll leave you a little mystery if you haven't seen it, but I thought over the next 4 weeks I would share my favorite moments from each hour-long episode -- with photos. 

The refusal of Henry Linton
When Margaret Hale gets married, she would like to just wake up one morning and walk to the church. Or so she tells the enamored Henry Linton at her cousin's wedding. And as Margaret leaves London to return to her home in the South, Henry follows--hoping that she will walk to the church with him one day. However, Margaret  is shocked by his proposal and stammers through a graceless refusal of his hand. 

I love the scenes between Henry and Margaret because you can see how dearly Henry does love the idea of marrying Margaret. She radiates strength and determination, kindness and an open heart that is as powerful an allure as hear beauty.  Margaret would make a man of Henry. Her refusal is painful, more so for Margaret than for Henry, because she's the one so horrified at breaking his heart. 

Furthermore, the lush green and gold of the scenes shot in Helstone provide a stunning contrast to the cool blues and purples we will face in Milton.

Coming to Milton
Mr. Hale is a man of his convictions. It is his quiet strength that his children have learned from. When he is challenged to reaffirm his faith in the Church and finds he is unable to, he takes his family to Milton for a fresh start. While Margaret is heartbroken to leave her life, she rises to the occasion, knowing despair and disappointment will help no one in this new place. While looking for a home in this new world of machines and dirt, Margaret meets Mr. Thornton, a wealthy mill owner whose hard life has taught him the virtues of perseverance and honestly; that doesn't mean his isn't still a little rough around the edges. 

The whole point of these first scenes with Margaret and Thornton is to highlight the clashing nature of their willful personalities. North and South and all their values monstrously collide in their first--and subsequent--meeting.
And that face. You get to see Richard Armitage taking the title of sexiest costume drama male lead away from Colin Firth from the very first moment he's onscreen, overlooking a room dancing with warm snow. 

They do things Differently Here
Milton, despite Margaret's best efforts, is not Helstone, and her first months are spent struggling with Northern custom, speech, and social protocol. She struggles to befriend Mrs. Thronton and her daughter, understandably, and is surprised to learn Nicholas Higgins and his daughter Bessie tend to agree with the austere and ungentlemanly John Thornton.  As fall sets in, Margaret finds herself unknowingly drawing and severing lines of friendship she'd be better off not to test.

Margaret is a stranger in Milton almost her entire time in the industrial town. She pays the counter revolutionary in their industrial revolution many times because their logic affronts her own. It is in these scenes she realizes her first impression of Thornton was very extreme and that her convictions are not so shining anymore in this smokey town.

Going to tea with a gentleman and his daughter
Mr. Hale must find work in Milton, and he does so as a tutor and speaker. One of his first pupils is Mr. Thornton, who soon after his first lesson comes to tea. Margaret may look tired, but John sees only the sweetness of a Southern gentlewoman in her movements, and worries that he is the one boring her. 

Does John Thornton love Margaret from the first moment he sees her? I argue yes. And the fact that she speaks her mind and is not afraid of him, only flames his love hotter. Margaret needs someone to embody all she hates about Milton, and -- unfortunately -- she chooses John to take her anger out on. She challenges his way of life as Milton itself challenges hers and he respond with abrupt honesty; as much as he would like to comfort her with sweet words, he knows no other way.

I've seen Hell, and its Snow White
The first episode closes with Margaret writing her cousin and lamenting how lost she feels in Milton, and the industrial workers meeting - a strike of the union imminent. If heaven was Helstone, than Milton is hell and Margaret, strong as she may be, and try as she might, feels the powerful despair or her displacement.

The final moments of the first episode are striking. You see the overwhelming wonder that is the mill spinning cotton with what looks like snow falling all around. It is at this moment we realize the next 3 hours of our journey with Margaret is not going to be easy or simple. It is at this moment we're dealing with more than just a hate-love love story. And its going to be brilliant.

Tumblr themes? Oh my!

Hello there all my tumblr readers! I'm back with an all new tumblr tutorial that will doll up your every day. Now this new information on themes might be old for many, but sometimes--if you're like me--you won't try the new thing until you've heard it won't crash your computer. Well, I'm here to tell you that after a 4 hour debate with my computer/internet educated brother and constant use at work, that themes are just dandy: for Firefox and Tumblr.

First things first -- if you want your tumblr dashboard to look like the above, you need to be using either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. (Download it here.) I use Firefox, so that's what we're stickin' with for this tutorial. If you haven't tried this type of internet web browser, its basically like Internet Explorer, but allows more creative freedom (basically, you can make it really pretty). As my brother warns, just be careful if you're going to search strange and varied regions of the internet. There's nothing wrong with Firefox, but Internet Explorer has some heightened security features that connect to you Windows System and work really well if surfing the web. 

As you can tell by my screencaps, Firefox itself allows you to select pretty themes for the top of your web browser, so your tumblr will be in very good company.. I'm not covering that today though, we're going to install a Firefox "Add On" called Stylish and turn your tumblr from blue to brilliant! 

Step 1: Open Firefox/Chrome and visit the Stylish Page. Once on userstyles.org, select download Stylish for Firefox.

Follow the download process which will take you to an authorized Mozilla page to download the add on. It will load and ask you to restart Firefox.
Step 2: Now that you've downloaded stylish, you can now go back to userstyles.org and download different tumblr themes. Install as many themes are you like. Go on, you know you'll want to change your dash theme more than you change socks. 

Step 3: Now you'll want to enable only 1 theme and disable all the others you've downloaded. To do this, go to Tools > Add Ons. You're Add Ons Manager will pop up in a new tab at the top. Select "User Styles". 

As you can see, I have 6 tumblr themes installed. On the right you have buttons to Edit, Enable/Disable, and Discard. At any one time, you should have 1 theme enabled. At this moment, I'm rocking "Wood Dash". To change your theme, just disable "Wood Dash" and enable a different one by clicking the enable/disable button. 

That's its! And now the next time you login to tumblr your dashboard will look like this: 

Another way to change your theme, and I think this is super easy, is to have the "Add-On Bar" enabled for Mozilla Firefox. That means this: 

Pros - You see your dash more than you ever see your actual layout for tumblr, and I love that I can make it a little different to fit my mood. You can also create your own, and while I haven't tried it yet, the process seems easy. If you can edit a webpage or change your blogger theme, I think you've got stylish nailed. 

Cons- Not all the pages are going to load right. For example, some of the buttons or boxes will always be tumblr blue. A good example is the last screencap, where it should be a lighter purple box, they are classic blue. The themes might take a moment to load and can be sluggish.

Overall, I think Themes and the use of Stylish just jazzes up my internet experience and when you spend as much time as I do on tumblr, its refreshing to see a new look!

American Horror Story?

While I gush often and lengthy, dear reader, on my favorite costume movies and obsess about upcoming feature films, I rarely talk about my favorite (and rather off the wall) TV shows. Do you need to hear how much I love Parks and Rec? Or that I live for Modern Family nights? No, not really and I don't want to waste your time reading me gush about last night's episode. But today, I'm breaking my rule a little bit. And this counts as my Halloween post two weeks late.

Normally, I don't like scary anything. I'll admit it, I sleep with a light on after a particularly creepy Paranormal State; so American Horror Story -- the show heralded as the be-all to end-all of horror concepts, didn't sit too pretty with me. I was further spurred away by several reviews stating the show was nothing but shock horror and melodramatics for 51 and a half minutes. And so the premiere came and went and I went on watching something decidedly more cheerful.

For the last week though my Tumblr has been racked with graphics, quotes, and more, from American Horror Story (brain-child of Glee creator Brian Murphy and his crew), specifically for Tate and Violet's relationship. And I decided I had to figure out what was going on with this show. And after watching the last 6 episodes in 2 days, I think I need to talk about this whole concept of most horrifying horror ever. (Spoiler! I'm sleeping with the lights off tonight.)

The short version: Murphy is blasting to the audience that real horror happens in everyday life. The creepy, horrifying, ghost bit in AHS? Well that's just cake. I can say with confidence, if you watched an episode, the credits would scare you more than the whole episode AND you'd be shocked by the actions of "living" people more than the dead ones.

Here's the plot: Bostonians Vivian (Connie Britton) and Ben (Dylan McDermott) Harmon move with their daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga) to LA after Vivian (grieving from a late-term miscarriage) finds Ben in bed with one of his students, hoping that it will help their marriage. The house they move into though is haunted by tragic murders and very unruly ghosts. Once in the house, Vivian and Ben  continue to struggle in their marriage and Violet discovers more about herself than she thought possible when she falls in love with one of her father's patients (alright, so I think she falls for him...my. opinion.). 

Other than creeped out, I've only been horrified by the emotional tragedies which plague the Harmon family and the brazen, unapologetic nature of the living who surround them. Have there been a few shock moments? Yes. And they are more disgusting and gruesome than "horrifying". What the characters have done to themselves is much worse than those "shock" (and referential, ie Rosemary's Baby anyone?) moments. For example, the juxtaposition of a Frankenstein-like scientist who haunts the house's halls (infrequently) against Ben who leaves his pregnant wife for a week to be with his mistress who is having an abortion, really makes you wonder which one is more horrifying...

I don't want to give too much away, because that's just not ladylike,  but I do want to talk about Violet and Tate (Evan Peters) just a little, since its the reason I started watching. Murphy stated in an interview that Violet doesn't need to read Twilight since she's living it. He's set out to make the audience love Tate like they love Edward. I think here is the really provoking part of the horror story -- Murphy's out to prove the borderline emotionless acceptance of violence and horror by his audience. No matter what Tate has done (and I warn you, you won't like it) we're driven to still like him as a character and find him redeemable. Murphy's making a more poignant commentary on society by just having viewers watch the show than he's making with his characters.

See, we're waiting for a really big scare -- this scare we've been told to expect every week-- and when we don't get it, we're disappointed. When really, we should be horrified by Tate, horrified -- if not disgusted -- with Ben and Vivian, horrified by the denial these characters are living in considering their severe emotional problems. 

To be honest, I'm more shocked at myself for thinking the show isn't that scary, but just morose and sad. The above waxing philosophic  now over, Jessica Lang is a commanding force and Evan Peters refreshing. The actors are putting in a valiant effort with a rather disjointed storyline that, despite its expanded timeline, is singularly one-dimensional.

It's truly an ensemble cast, with a large number of ghosts infusing some -- dare I say -- comedy or emotional variety into the bitter plot line. There's no question it's a new take on the "family buys a haunted house" storyline, that's for sure. And maybe, even 6 episodes in, its just too early to see how horrifying American Horror Story will be. But I'll watching, at least for 1 more episode

Are you watching AHS? Do you have any ideas about what Murphy and his crew are doing? I'm interested to hear what others are thinking and hearing and saying about this white whale of a show.

American Horror Story airs Wednesday nights at 10PM on FX | Watch the first 5 episodes online

Visions of Winter

If you've been with me for a while, dear reader, you know the thought of snow give me the largest anxiety attack known to man. I just can't shake that California clear skies, 65 degree winter out of my system. And with the threat of it from now until May 2012, I sometimes have a serious anti-holiday spirit.

But this year, I will not let it ruin me! No! I'm going to try and be as holly jolly as possible this year (although all in good time: How the Grinch Stole Christmas was on yesterday and I viciously changed the channel). And in gearing up for the holidays, I started on my "vision board" yesterday. 

The the mail, I had received some particularly lovely Winter/Holiday catalogs. Now, since I'm a poor college graduate and have no money, buying from these catalogs is slim to none at this point, but I can admire their beauty in a redefined way. I start by taking my favorite photos - the visions I want my holidays to hold- and cut them up/out/around. And then I just start putting them back together again. 

I love making collages, so this is really right down my alley. The best part, though, is the excitement making the board brings of me. I started to remember my favorite parts of winter and why in the past there was just tangible holiday magic. I felt for just a few moments, what its like when I just start setting up the Christmas tree. 
I know, we haven't even made it to Thanksgiving yet here in the states and its too early to be thinking of December 25th. I'm trying to temper the Christmas enthusiasm until the Thanksgiving fervor is complete, but I thought I little preview couldn't hurt.

Snow?! 5 scene that'll make you forget it's October

Did you hear it on the news dear reader? They're saying this is Nor'easter. And its not even Halloween yet! And since this freakish weather has me down in the dumps (If you haven't been with us long, I hate snow. With a passion. It's only good on Christmas Eve.), I've decided to bundle myself up in my favorite warm blanket, put on some hot coco and watch a little drama. And in a desperate attempt to find joy in this snow-trastrophy, I'm counting down my top 5 snow scenes in a costume drama.

5. Opening and Closing of Frankenstein
Despite the weather and foolishness going on outside, it is still Halloween season. And what better movie to mix both than Frankenstein? (It makes me start to think snow is appropriate on Halloween -- oh wait...) Frankenstein opens and closed with Victor Frankenstein scouring the North Pole for his creature. My fingers already feel numb just thinking about it.

4. Kiss Scene in Angel
Have you seen this scene? Well, now you have(assuming you watched the youtube video above) and don't you feel much happier about snow fall? The movie may be pretty horrible, but Michael Fassbender tries valiantly to save it and turns in a pretty stellar kiss mid-movie.
3. Your first look at Narnia
Admit is dear reader, if snow has to fall, it could at least look like the winter wonderland from Narnia while it does. And don't you wish you could go out in it with limited clothing on and a nice warm red scarf too? 

2. Final moments of Pride and Prejudice 1995
In many classic novels, marriages take place in the spring -- a complimentary allusion to renewal and fresh beginning, but in the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice Darcy and Elizabeth get married with snow all around. (And I can get cheesy here too - the snow would represent the purity of their love and the honesty they will share.) Even though it looks freezing, everyone is so cheerful about Lizzy and Jane's marriages that they don't even feel the cold.  

1. "Look back at me," North and South

I don't even have to type an explanation, do I?I hope I made your little snow day a little more cheery. I sure did mine!

Once Upon A Time

Did you catch Once Upon A Time last night dear reader? After thinking that the football was going to bulldoze over it for three hours and then finding out I was looking at the wrong channel, I did! Overall, I found the pilot interesting, entertaining, and just the right amount of fairytale.

You all know I'm horrible at general summaries, so I've found this just  for you: http://youtu.be/tcC85eDG6EI

Now, if you want my short version with SPOILERS (highlight to see): Prince Charming saves Snow White. The Evil Queen isn't dead, despite best efforts, and at their wedding she visits and says a horrible curse will befall the whole land because she's the only one without a happy ending. Freaked out and lots pregnant (months later), Snow White makes the Prince take her to see Rumpelstiltskin. In exchange for the name of Snow White's daughter, Rumplekins tells them what the curse will do. He also tells them that their child will have the power to free them all from the curse. Freaked out even more, Snow White calls a meeting of the council (which is a whole bunch of our favorite fairy tale characters); at the meeting, the blue fairy gives Snow a huge log -- enchanted! -- and says that if made into a wardrobe it can transport 1 person to Narnia safety. Snow and Prince Charming have an angsty moment, and then ask Gepetto to make the wardrobe. The curse comes, Snow White has the baby, the baby escapes in the wardrobe, and Prince Charming...kinda dies...before the curse overtakes them all. Enter the real world 28 years later, 28 year old, bounty hunter Emma and her 10 year old son, Henry, who she gave up for adoption. Her son knows the truth about the cursed town called Storybooke, and he comes to find Emma because as Snow White's daughter she's the only one who can help. After taking the boy back to Storybrooke, meeting his evil step mom, and seeing that the town is certainly strange, Emma decides to stay a little longer and figure out what Henry is talking about.
Now I'm a fairytale girl, so the chances of me not enjoying Once Upon A Time were slim, and within the first 10 minutes...those chances went to none. For a pilot we transitioned well between the fairytale world and the real world and got a clean background story for the rest of the season. And while the fairy tales will, of course, be a key factor in the whole series, the whimsical way they are addressed in the real world is a refreshing retelling of our favorite classics.

But above all, I'm adoring the cast. Ginnifer Goodwin and Jennifer Morrison are fantastic as Snow White and Emma and already have a chemistry that will be wonderful to see developed on screen. Likewise, I expected less out of Josh Dallas who plays Prince Charming, but was happily surprised to find him quite wonderful and...charming.

Based on the 1 hour yesterday, I would absolutely tune in next Sunday. Based on the preview for next Sunday, I'm confused. It seems we're going to learn how all the fairytale characters -- who are now locked in Storybrooke Maine and need Emma to save them -- became the fairytale heroes we know and love. Not like I won't adore this, but I was a little more invested in whole break the curse, modern storyline. Let's hope the balanced division of fairy story and modern mystery stays intacted.

I leave you only with 2 questions. One, why is Snow White the new top fairytale princess? And two, why are all my favorite shows set in Maine?

Dashboard Confessions

I'm sure you've slightly noticed, dear reader, that I've been a little quieter here on Rusty the last few months. After August, I just can't seem to get back on track. October was supposed to be that for me, but now that we're a week in,  I'm beginning to wonder where that idea has gone to. And I don't want to do what I used to and just go silent for a few months, so I'm little you in just a little bit more to my real-life word. Please don't think of them as excuses, more like explanations.

With fall and daylight quickly fading every day, my motivation seems to fly completely out the window. I'm worse than an older person, I'm the person who goes to bed at 8:30 on a Friday night. Ouch that was embarrassing to admit.

Add to that more hours at work -- which I'm super happy with -- and a new website to design for hire, I'm more than a little strapped for time. And lets not even talk about how I've not worked on the novel seriously for the last few months. I feel like its time for a priority evaluation. Maybe even a little redefinition.

What you're asking, right dear reader, is what does this mean for me? Well, it means that you should look for posts twice a week. It also means that at least 1 of those posts will be about a costume drama or in reference to one. Anything Period will still operate like its has been, and you can still catch me on twitter anytime you want. (Facebook, however, has gone goodbye.)

I'm not meaning to hold you up today, dears; just to give you a little info to take and do with what you will. <3

Operation Decoration - Fall

Hello everyone!
I would say welcome back, but since I've been the one gone, I don't think that sounds too rational. Anyway, my vacation was very lovely and I'm even more happy to be getting back into the blogging swing. I have to say, its very boring out there when you can't check your twitter or stalk your tumblr for a good week, but the disconnect was wonderfully refreshing. I guess it was a good break for me to have.

And speaking of breaks, I'm taking a break from my regular bedroom decor for the bright and vibrant colors of fall.

Decorating for fall always puts me in a good mood and I think its all the vibrant colors that I get to fill my world with. My mantle gets a whole new look, and my work spaces gets just a hint of a face lift. I change out the books piled up in places -- they all turn to Gothic novels or horror stories or monster mashups -- and fill vases full of very bright and sparkly leaves.

For my mantle, its all about the details. Everything on it (and on my desk for that matter) are found pieces from our fall boxes and other parts of the house. The pumpkin pie looking runner was a scrap of material from my fall quilt. The pillar candle holders are glass covered with scraps of material and the pine cones filling the bottom of the vase on the right were found in Sequoia National Park in California and brought cross country with us.

My favorite part is getting to change up my "featured" books. I love mixing classics with current fiction, hard backs and paper backs. When in doubt, placing a copy of Dracula or Frankenstein amongst your fall decor, will add just a hint of that Halloween feel to the room.

My work area gets a little face lift with another cut of pumpkin pie material and a few little fall details. Of course, moving some of my regular stuff around helps freshen up the corner. Like the mantle, its all about the little details. My only real Halloween item sits on the bottom shelf. While I would drown myself in Halloween creepy, I want to make my fall decorations sustainable for as long as possible. If you only put out a few Halloween-like items, it will give you an understated spooky and be easier to clean up at the end of October.

Feel like filling your space with fall but don't have the time or funds to make it happen? I have 5 easy tips that will help you to fall-i-fy your room!

5. Put out something orange. Even if its place mats or a sweater. For fall, color is key and just a few little pops laying around will help change your color palette. Since there is more gold, red, and orange filling nature outside, your eye will be drawn to those same colors inside.

4. Rearrange your room. If you are putting out some fall items, don't layer them on top of your normal set up. Remove a few items and rearrange others. Trust me, it will make everything look fresher.

3. Put Halloween in context. Remember, fall lasts a whole month after that 1 spookatular night of the year. Adding just a few touches will make it easier to transition into Thanksgiving and help your look stay fresh after October.

2. A pumpkin spice candle goes a long way. Your nose is considered one of the best memory receptors. Smelling pumpkin, or spices that sing fall, will help put you in the autumnal mood. Pumpkin Pie Harvest is on sale at Christmas Tree Shoppes for 2.99. Just saying.

1. Deck out your computer/phone/nook with a new wallpaper. Your computer screen acts just like a picture frame for your desk. Filling it with the scenes of fall will remind you just why you're in love with the season, even if the view out your window doesn't look like New England in November.

Gone Vacationing

Hello lovelies!

I'm sure you're having just as fantastic a September as I am. Tomorrow, after a surprise meeting in the state capital, I'm whisking off to the beach with my favorite soundtracks on play and Dunkin's coffee in my hand. So, while I'm sure I'll tweet, I probably won't be able to respond to tweets or emails for the next week. But I promise to bring back some fantastic photos and a fresh new take on our favorite fall (and winter) costume dramas.

See you soon <3

Inspiration Color - Fall

As much as I really dislike winter dear reader, I adore fall. I think I went to a New England school just for the changing colors and that haunted Halloween feel to everything. And so as the air gets colder at night and night seems to come on faster every day, I start to antsy for the bright and vibrant colors just out of reach.

This fall, I'm all about the "luxe" trend. I know, I'm still a whole style season behind. But the colors are just too beautiful and rich. Lets look:

Photo: http://weheartit.com/entry/3229031
The deep ruby color of pomegranates has always been one of my favorite colors to wear. And you can really pair any type of jewelry with it. I always remember the beautiful dress Marianne wears in the 2008 Sense and Sensibility and how vibrant and mysterious the color looks on her.

Photo: http://weheartit.com/entry/13804643
Who doesn't love mustard? Really! When this color came back last year I was so happy.  My favorite scarf is mustard color and I always feel so proper with it wrapped around my neck. Mustard is a great option if you're dead set against bright oranges or sunshine yellows. Its just the right about of powerful color and classy understatement.

Photo: http://weheartit.com/entry/12663234
I might be the only person to think this, and if that's the case, I'll put my foot in my mouth: figs are sexy. Figs, dates, sugar plums -- it doesn't get better than luxuriously eating one on a Sunday evening with a glass of wine. And the fig color is just as sexy. Purple -- soft ones with a hint of red to them, just hold a danger and a mystery you want to figure out. There's a reason most brothels in period pieces are the color purple or red, you know.

Photo: http://weheartit.com/entry/13844089
Its a list of fall colors people!! And I love my oranges! Blood orange is not pumpkin, but makes me smile just as much. Its not fall if you don't see those brilliant leaf colors spiraling through the air. Colors like blood orange remind me of walking my college campus during midterms; and seeing the color against bright white just makes me long for New England.

Photo: http://weheartit.com/entry/13858917
I always think you need one accent color that is completely different from everything else you're looking at. That's what aqua (okay so close aqua...I think...) is for me this season. All year I've had this love affair with old fashioned seaside looks and Hampton chic; aqua in this fall line up is an extension of the seaside trend for me.

I'm sure you're thinking this build up towards fall is WAY too early. But I love fall and I want to have as much time to bask in its glory as physically possible. So I start early and hold on to it for as long as I can, even after the last leaf has fallen. I hope you feel the same way about a season. I'd love to hear about it!


So dear reader, I've been scavenging around for new fall fashions and music for the last 2 weeks and keep coming across this commercial:

Can it be? They are actually making a modern Peter Pan story?! Now, I'm a sucker for modern classics retold, Peter Pan being one of my tops, but I remember how horribly the Tarzan retelling went on the WB and am not necessarily hopeful. That show had a former Calvin Klein model and well-known stars filling its cast--and that didn't even save it for 1 season.

Wendy has been created by the same people who bring us The Vampire Diaries (a plus) and features relative new comers Meaghan Martin and Tyler Blackburn (which is refreshing). Now I haven't seen Pretty Little Liars...but if you're pimping your new Peter to be the next Ben Barnes, I hope he can back it up. Blackburn can, however, sing. Hence how I found out about this new webseries.

The song, I love. I've already listened to it ... a lot. And its not fair they have this great song that gets stuck in your head with semi-referential lyrics to Peter Pan. Darn you mad men! Needless to say, I'm just a little hooked to the song.

The whole plot has been kept pretty tightly under wraps. We know Wendy has a boyfriend and is forced to choose between "the boy of her dreams and her real boy"... and that's about it. This new venture (okay, for me a new venture) into webseries world comes with me being very confused, but I'm optimistic that the show might actually have something to it. And if it doesn't, its about Peter Pan: I'll be watching anyway.

What has me so cautious about Wendy is its clear marketing connection. The producers of the show are Marcy's and Alloy: two large corporations ready and willing to strike at the teen market in fresh ways. You can already purchase any of the clothing featured on the show at Macy, and this blogger wonders where subtly went. Is Wendy just a shot in the dark at selling clothes and capitalizing on the fan base of the Vampire Diaries? Or do they believe "hot" boys sell girl's clothes now?

These are the sad, cynical questions a no-longer teen asks. And maybe I'm looking too hard into this. When new shows come on, I tend to be really stand-offish to them, because if I do like them from the start, it is sure to be the death of it. (Don't snicker dear reader! This is my version of baseball curses.) Shows that I start loving from the beginning either tank 2 seasons in or get canceled after 3 episodes.

Still, I'll be good and be hopeful for Wendy.
The series airs September 15th online. To find out more visit the Wendy facebook page. And you can download the new song too, which was really what I just spent 20 minutes figuring out how to get.

Author(s) of the month

As Austen is my Spring author, the Bronte's define my fall. There's just something about cuddling up with Jane Eyre or The Tenant of Wildfell Hall when the leaves are tumbling down from the trees that enchantes me. Of course, Gothic themes during my 3 favorite months were gothic themes are in vogue certainly helps.

And since we've focused a great deal on Jane Eyre (and it will be the primary focus of our adapation run down at the end of the month), and no matter how hard I try, I can't get through Wuthering Heights, I'm focusing all my energy on reading Anne Bronte's Agnes Grey.

Like Jane Eyre, Agnes Grey is about a Governess, struggling to find her way in the world. This, is where much of the similarities ends, where Jane blossoms with her close connection with Rochester, Agnes suffers isolation, indignation, and incolense. Anne is considered the "realistic sister" of the three, and roots her imagry and plot within the mindless structure of true society. After reading The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, a novel and really adored for its main characters, I can't wait to throw myself into Agnes Grey. I know it will be nothing like the rest I've read.

Books by Charlotte: Jane Eyre, Shirley, Villette, The Professor
Books by Emily: Wuthering Heights, Poems
Books by Anne: Agnes Grey, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Bronte resources:
The Bronte Parsonage Blog

The Jane Effect - St.John Rivers

When I first saw Jane Eyre dear reader (that's right, I saw a version before I read the novel), I thought St. John Rivers was a shocking shell of a man -- cold, intellectual, and everything completely opposite of Rochester. And then when I read the novel, my opinion was only solidified. Now that I'm older, I wonder why this is. Why do we think that St. John is such a awful person? Especially with the newest version of Jane Eyre, I think it more apparent St. John might be horribly misunderstood. Can we really denounce someone for choosing his work over love? Or believing he and his life will not fit the girl of his dreams? I pose we look a St. John just a little deeper and consider he's more likable than he first my seem.

Novel St.John - POV
Jane Eyre, as well all know, is a first person novel. Therefore, we are always in the mind of Jane. Really, Jane's thoughts, opinions, and beliefs are all we care about. I'm sure if the novel wasn't full of her inner thoughts we wouldn't love Rochester as much, or understand how important nature is to her. Thus, her reaction to St. John is colored by her own beliefs and opinions. To Jane, St. John is cold and calcualting  -- brilliant but un-nurturing, and deeply lacking in passion. She is continually comparing St. John and his actions to Rochester baisly. After all, she still deeply loves Edward when she is taken in by the Rivers. Therefore, we will never have a fair picture of St. John Rivers, because Jane's view of him isn't fair.

The Rochester Factor
By the time St. John appears on the screen or in the novel, we as watchers and readers have already fully invested in the dark and tormented soul of Edward Rochester. How does anyone compare to that? St. John comes at time when we're all waiting for Jane to return to Rochester. Let's face it, her going back is no surprise for us, and so we gloss over the option we know she'll not choose. They're both each other's second choice, and that's never good enough for a Bronte.

The Cold Imagery
Jane describes St. John, throughout her time with him, like ice -- immobile, frozen, cold-hearted. Who wants love that? My question is -- is that really how St. John is, or just how Jane sees him? I call in my defense Jamie Bell and his brilliant St. John Rivers (and this kinda goes into my next point as well). Maybe its because we start the movie with the Rivers, or maybe its because St.John is more Jane's age, or maybe its because his undying passion for Rosamund Oliver isn't featured in the 2011 version, but Bell makes me think Jane doesn't give him a fair shot at being a hero. With Jane, St.John continually thinks he must handle her with care, and stays weary of her becuase she is a stranger with no name, and when she needs a reality check, she recoils from his logic -- logic, might I add, that is very sound. He tells her to forget man who lied to her, was willing to force her into a fake marriage, and lasciviously endanger her soul. St. John might be abrupt when he confronts Jane, but its his passionate nature showing through; its just a different passion than she's used to.  Bell's proven to me that we've sided a little too blindly on Jane's side about this man.  

Mini-Series/Movie Time Cuts
As I stated above, St. John's placement in the the movie or novel is critical. If we start with him, he's more of an option for Jane; he compeats dually with our Rochester for our affections. If he's at the end and the end is cut up for time, then his complexity is thrown away. You must agree, there are a few versions were he is solely used as a plot device and nothing more. How then, are we able to understand him enough to connect to him? It's an injustice done to many characters, and just more often happens to poor St.John.

Like Rochester, St.John Rivers believes in educating women - alright he believes women can be educated. And even more so than Rochester, executes this fact. Where Jane is more like a pet (don't make me defend this with bird imagery. I will) to Rochester, St.John sees her as an equal, like his sisters (certainly not the equal in today's standard, but it was 1800's people). I believe St. John and Edward are far alike than we'd like them to be, and it is just a happy (or sad?) coincidence readers take to one and not the other.