& the slipper still fits

Lets get literary: Tillie Olsen & requirements for creativity

There is something to be said about true inspiration dear reader. True inspiration is that spark of a fantastic idea, that lightning that rushes through you--I think inspiration is the lifesblood of writing. And then there's motivation. If inspiration is writing's lifesblood, motivation is the body inspiration courses through.

But what happens when your inspiration has begun to flicker down from a flaming fire to a soft ember? What happens when you loose all motivation to write? You could try the categorically standard actions that help you to get inspired/motivated (this is not that kinda of post), but sometimes, even when the page calls, you simply cannot muster up the words.

When this happens, and it happens often, I look back to my English senior seminar and the foundation book for the whole semester, Tillie Olsen's Silences:
By exploring the social and economic conditions that make creativity possible, Olsen sheds new light into the gaps in the literary landscape and canon. She reveals that working-class people, people of color, and all women have in fact always written--though their work has been officially ignored--and she examines the forces they have struggled against in order to create, forces that led in many cases to premature silence.
Now I will not compare myself with the literary giants: there is no need to go there dear reader. To say my strife equals that of Christina Rossetti or Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, or any other female writer, is ignorant and not why I bring up Silences. In the text, Olsen breaks down the conditions which make creativity possible, and thus, what makes creativity impossible. And today, I won't even be touching the political and social silences that can occur once one is looking for publishing, or is published. Today, I'm just looking at three of  the forces which can effect the act of writing, and can lead to the silencing of a writer before anything is published. Silences is literary philosophy at its best, dear reader, and I love it.

"The Knife of the perfectionist attitude in art and life."
So often as writers, and as women, we strive for our personal best all the time. And if you've read many quotes by writers, they say the most important part is to just get the words on paper. You do not need the clean perfection of a finished novel, just the ghastly roughness of a first draft. And while this concept: word vomit first, clean it up later, sounds logical and can be effective, I find that if I don't feel like I'm going to write something at least worth writing, I simply won't click the keys. And then nothing gets written, because I don't think I'll write anything good at the time. The point though, is if you do this every time...when are we actually writing? Certainly, less than we want to be.

"Constant toil is the law of art, as it is of life."
To be good, if not brilliant, in something, you must practice--you must devote a large part of your life to perfecting what you practice. And for many of us blossoming writers, we do not get enough practice. Novel writing has a very long incubation time. There can be years spent working on the same story before anyone ever sets eyes on a draft. And then the revisions begin. Unless you actively work on your writing, piece by piece, acknowledging your obstacles and striving to overcome them consistently "the artist assists the suicide of his own talent..." (Silences, 154). No wonder this force is under "The work of creations and the Circumstances it Demands for Full Functioning". I look at this silences not just as actively committing to your art, but also having the ability to devote time to your commitment. Likewise, having the ability to self-critique and the perseverence to do so.

"Unconfined Solitude."
Dear reader, please tell me the last time you had a day--a whole day--where you were able to feel refreshed, fulfilled, and unburdened with the stress of one's stressful life, to simply write. Unconfined Solitude does not just mean  having a  quiet space and time to write, it also means the structure of an environment where motivation and inspiration are able to meet on demand; it means mental solitude in combination with physical solitude. The quote by Nathaniel Hawthorne printed in Silences highlights this idea perfectly: "I doubt I shall succeed in writing here, I have not the sense of perfect seclusion which has always been essential to my power of producing anything."

For me, it all boils down to time and solitude. By the end of a very long 12 hour work day, where I've lost beautiful sentences--unable to write them down, and even more beautiful plot points--where the busy work day replays in my head: I simply do not have enough motivation, or even energy, to write. And every time this happens, and oh it has happens so many days, I think back to Olsen and am continually astounded by the women (and men) who rise above what I'm lost in. And on those blissful days, when motivation strikes and I stay up late, rattling amongst the keys, I never take the moment for granted because I know how easily I could loose it. And I mourn for all the beautiful novels, poems, short stories, and art which has been silenced because an artist did just that, lost it.   

 Now you might say, that I'm blaming living life for my own personal deficiency, my own lack of motivation. And I can own up to that. Yes, at the end of the day it is my personal choice to write or not write. Physical exhaustion or parched creativity is not a good reason (insert name of blog here...). And many have criticized Silences as well, stating this same argument. I argue then, we change the context: say you work an impossibly long day, you come home and all you want to do is watch your favorite TV show, but you have to make dinner, and wash clothes, and there are another 10 things on your to do list, and by the time you're able to watch your 10PM show, you've missed half of it and are too tired to care about the other half. You give up and go to bed. In the morning, you're sorry you missed the show, but think you'll be able to watch it again in a few days and other "real life things" got done in the process. A few days later, you miss the show because you have a meeting, and after the meeting, you realize you won't catch it again and another episode is airing. You can't watch the next one without seeing the one you missed. So you stop watching. 3, 4 episodes go by and now you're no longer connected emotionally to the show or its characters, so you just let the whole show go. Of no fault of your own, because you thought you'd have time later, you've given up your favorite TV show. And sure, you could catch it on marathon, but think of how much you've missed out on, watching it week to week, how much time you've wasted missing out, and the marathon will never be the same as watching it week after week. Can you see the parallels? See where time and good intentions and everything else seemed to get in the way and now you've lost time? This is the kind of slow death I fear for my writing, the almost indescribable oblivion Olsen touches on in Silences. When writing is unable to be a primary focus in your day to day life, there will always be a fear of loosing it to the every day minutia of living.

And my literary rambling is over for today. And despite best intentions, I have a feeling, the novel doc won't be opened tonight.

One more episode, The Crimson Petal & the White

It was a rainy week here in east coast ville, and I've been ready for this weekend for the last month. So, as a little bit of a reward for a very long week and month, I'm watching the third episode of The Crimson Petal & the White, and new BBC costume drama adapted from the 2002 Michael Farber novel.

I remember when the novel first came out: I found it in the corner of a Borders, just sitting there all alone on a high shelf, one of only four copies. I was drawn to it because the beautiful red color, the name, and how huge it was; my mother still makes fun that I only read books over 800 pages. And then I read the first page and I couldn't put it down. I placed in at the bottom of my pile and hoped my mom wasn't going to ask to look at it first. She didn't, she just laughed at how thick it was. Over the next few months I was enraptured, and shocked. It was the first time I realized just how Victorian London was. The characters, the life, the settings were all so vivid, so unabashed: its one of those novels I always think of fondly and place as a marker of change in my literary reading life.

So when I found out they were making an adaption, I was extremely trepidatious. The novel is so expansive; I wasn't sure how anyone could fit it all into four episodes, even if anyone included the writer himself. While I'm sure it is much better I didn't reread the book before starting the new miniseries, I find The Crimson Petal & the White not half bad. I know, that's a lack luster statement, but I find I'm somewhat without great praise for the series, though I cetainly do enjoy it.

I think my fondness  is due to the performances more than the content of the show. I have seen Romola Garai in many roles, and in many of them I find her, well, annoying. But as Sugar (and even as Emma before) I find her rather refreshing. Chris O'Dawd as William Rackham is also just as strong, and while he is certainly not what I pictured for the wealthy perfumer, he plays the complex character well. But it is Amanda Hale (yep. miss sicky Elliot in Persuasion) who pulls out a stunning performance as the half-mad Agnes Rackham. In the novel, I don't remember thinking her quite insane, but more extremely sheltered and immature for her upbringing. Hale is able to take these fundamental themes in Agnes' inner dialogue throughout the novel and nuance them into her performance. It is heartbreaking and beautiful to see. Much had been made of Gillian Anderson's performance as Mrs. Castaway, but truthfully I think she has been under used and over publicized.

With still one episode left, I haven't felt much has been rushed; I'll enjoy seeing how the ending, rather confusing for me (dear lord) over 8 years ago, is worked. The Crimson Petal & the White is not a showy piece highlighting Victorian London like other dramas have been, but that is not what the goal of this drama was. The goal was some serious acting with some serious complex characters. And though much of the sexuality waxes on the squeamish side, the performances do make up for it.

Quote Poster #003

The third quote poster in our series highlights one of my very favorite quotes in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. One of the best parts of P&P is the almost interchangeability of Darcy and Elizabeth's dialogue. Did Darcy say the above? Or did Elizabeth? Though we see them set as opposites, they are really very much more alike than either would admit.

1860 x 10401024 x 768

Jane Eyre, the Rusty review

Dear readers, yesterday a miracle happened: the stars aligned, the box office was bored, or someone at the Penn Cinema has a serious love of period drama. Jane Eyre was playing. Playing more than once. Like, for serious. And when I found out the theatre was only 30 minutes away (which is WAY closer than one would imagine), I roped my mother into taking me to the matinee. (Click here to see if its playing in your town.) There were only 11 people in the theatre, of whom I was the youngest, and half were forced into seeing the movies with their girlfriends or wives. Now that I've set the scene, lets discuss the movie.

I'll warn you now, if you thought this would be a glowing review, put your big girl corest on, you might not like me much at the end. That being said, somethings were done REALLY well, but if I was only 4 years younger, this adaptation would be called the bane of my existence. Bronte purists stay away. There. I've warned you.

First off, I want to give credit where credit it completely due: if you haven't read this Jane Eyre Review by Jean and Vic, posted at Jane Austen Today, you must. It describes the foundational plot issues in the new Jane Eyre, which I agree with fully. Even I, who has seen -- and you know I'm not joking -- practically every adaptation, was confused by the first seconds of the movie. Had I not be warned by the above article, I wouldn't have been able to coach my mother through the first 15 minutes with the proper back story. And she's seen a few Jane Eyres too. The short version - post Rochester meltdown, wandering on the Moors. Likewise, the use of flashbacks as a central plot device changes the tone of the story in very interesting ways.

Condensing events and scenes chomps at the plot and dizzies the viewer. This adaption plays more like a highlight reel for Jane Eyre fans, more than a cohesive, understandable story that can stand on its own. For instance, Adele and her mother's story is never told; Rochester's bed one night, just shows up lit on fire; There is no gypsy scene period and the proposal has no strong build up and falls pathetically flat. Bertha -- wait for it -- is characterized as a ghost-vampire that haunts the halls at night, but the suspense and fear she could invoke is never capitalized on.

Clearly Fukunaga could not commit to making either a romance or a suspense, and both story lines suffer for it. I would have been happy to see either road taken; however, this washy, middle of the road muddiness plays out as a symptom of the whole film's mediocrity. His characters suffer from a strange flatness I didn't expect and the stark locations only seem to heighten how flat everything is. I wasn't sure what to commit to, wasn't sure who to be afraid of: the intensity to stand behind a character simply wasn't there.

Its not that this Jane Eyre is awful. Its not. But neither is it brilliant, neither is it passionate, neither is it intense. Instead of getting the sense that Fukunaga strove for something and it just didn't work, like that hideous Ciran Hinds version, this film just ambles along. Its content to be just another adaptation in a long line of adaptations.

Michael Fassbender's Rochester is not excluded from the above critique. I shall try to be diplomatic, I know I need to see the film again, and I know I WAS HIS BIGGEST SUPPORTER FOR THIS ROLE. I know. Trust me, I know. Fassbender plays Rochester with a tortured subtly. His performance does not reflect Rochester's changeability, depressions, or fierce longing for Jane. Overall, he reminds me of Michael Jayston Rochester. (And you all know I like my Rochesters broody, but I respect the interpretation of the character.) Personally, I was expecting a touch of his character from HEX to show up: the cockiness, the latent danger, the recklessness. Not getting that was a let down; chalk this one up to completely personal preference, but I was disappointed. It wasn't bad, but it was good. And with only 1 real moment of brilliance, it just doesn't stack up for me. 

That moment? What I call the "Jane don't leave me scene." Fassbender struck something there that was breathtaking. Its beautiful, its painful, its not really hampered by wordiness, and the emotion is overwhelming. This is the only scene where I think Fassbender and Mia Wasikawska have powerful chemistry. Any chemistry at all, actually.

If Jane doesn't have chemistry with Rochester, who does she then? Go figure...St.John. Yep. Mista St.John Rivers has more chemistry with Jane than MR. ROCHESTER. I know, I die a little too just writing it. His reaction to Jane's refusal later in the film is just as powerful as Rochester's and striking. I honestly think his reaction in those 3 minutes are my favorite part of the movie. (At least 1 of my reasons to watch Jane Eyre panned out right.)

You meet Jane around the same time as St.John at the beginning of the film, and Jamie Bell is brilliant. Actually, I will openly argue with anyone that he's the standout performance of this adaption. Meeting him when we do, seeing him with his sisters, before we meet Rochester and without Jane's colored perspective, we see a St.John who is kind and sweet, and a very normal young man. He is neither overly cold, nor is he austere; he is simply a man. It is refreshing to think of him finally in a different way.

While St.John is a fully fleshed character for the first time, characters such as Grace Pool and Bertha, yes even Bertha, are practically non-existent. Others like Mason and Helen are quick plot devices in relation. And Jane? Well Wasikawska isn't Ruth Wilson. I'm sorry, she was better than most Janes, but without any of her own conviction, or any chemistry with Rochester, what else can I say? She shines, as do all the characters, in the scenes with the Rivers. There she has chemistry, there she has unreserved conviction, there we have a little but more life in our character.

And then, there's the fan service moment. What is fan service? Its normally in fanfiction and its a moment created JUST for fans to make them scream or giggle or forgive all injustices anywhere else in a story.This Jane Eyre has one. Fukunaga doesn't even try to hide it. Its just there. More like, BAM, o! hi! If you've seen the movie, you know the moment I'm talking about. If you haven't I'll set the scene: snow. door. Rochester. Kiss. YOU WISH THIS WAS REAL. Yep. A total fan service moment meant to make us Jane Eyre fans forget all the things we weren't sure of in this adaptation. While I applaud the effort, a little more finesse would have been nice. Even my mom knew exactly what I meant when I whispered "fan service?!" to her in the theater.

Overall, what does this reviewer think? Well, I think I think what I always was nervous about happened: the new, shiny, 2011 version is just an okay Jane Eyre adaptation. My hopes weren't particularly high; how could they be after Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson basically changed how the game is played? I'm still very glad I saw it. And I will still buy when it comes out. And will I still post pictures from it? Heck yes. But I am most glad I only had to spend $7.50 plus gas instead of +$60 to see it.

Spring! Rewatch: Northanger Abbey

Dear readers! you know you want to join in! What are we rewatching this time? The 2007 version of Northanger Abbey.

When: April 29, 2011 @ 8pm EST (Yep. The day of the Royal Wedding. I know, I'll be half dead too ;) )
Where: Twitter: #REanger
look for @heatherfrances and all the rest of the fantastic rewatch group: @CaseeMarie, @Ladyrelaynie, @darbydashwood, @sheblog, and @so_meow

Who: Everyone!

Why: Because we can. And its an absolutely adorable Austen drama. There are only 2 twitter rewatches left for the season! Get into the last 2 before its too late!

Incentive: Like with the S&S rewatch, I will be posting rewatch-only wallpapers and photos. Feel like showing off your photoshop skills too? The more the merrier! Stop by and tweet your fan art. We love sharing!

Check back the day of for youtube links and more. RSVP on Rusty Sarcasm's facebook page to get a special wallpaper.

The guiltiest of gulity pleasures - Girl's Next Door

Do you need a laugh, dear reader? Maybe a trip down fangirl memory lane of not so long ago? Well, if your inner fangirl bindged on Labyrinth, Phantom of the Opera, and Pirates of the Caribbean (with particular and frequent stops around the fanfiction.net buffet), I have a web comic that is just for you.

Girl's Next Door follows Christine Daee and Sarah Williams as they are tormented by their unrequited admirers Erik and Jareth. Written and drawn by Rebecca Morse, or pika-la-cynique if you follow her on Deviant Art, Girl's Next Door in a spinoff of the very popular Roommates, also a dA online comic, written and drawn by Ashe Rhyder.

Now I love GND for more reasons than you can count, least of all the extremely cute Owl-Jareth that makes apperances at rather oppertune moments. Erik is still the creep-tastic phantom, but with a heart of gold. And dear James Norrington and Javert are just along for the crazy filled ride. But the best part has to be all of the quirky, surprising, and just down right hysterical guest characters. I don't want to name names, but characters from Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Good Omens, and yes, even Twlight, guest star. 

Start at the beginning and you're in for a treat. Click on a random page in the gallery, and I'm sure you'll leave laughing. On a day were I need just a little inspiration and a lot of laugh, I head over to GND. It always makes me feel better.

Image clipped from GND pages 112 and "Spehul"

Didn't Catch Upstairs Downstairs?

PBS, the wonders that they always are, has made the first episode available online for a limited time. (They also have 39 Steps up, which, if you haven't seen it, block out a 3 hour chunk and watch it too.)

Upstairs Downstairs is a revival of the 70's classic by the same name about the next generation tenants at 165 Eaton Place. Set around the turn of the century, Upstairs Downstairs will remind you of Dowton Abbey: the juxtaposition of life in service to life in elegance, the sweet and strained relationships, and, of course, beautiful houses. 

With only watching the first episode, I have to say my verdict is still out. I enjoyed episode one, I thought it went rather fast, but there wasn't much of a deeper connecetion for me. Since its only three episodes long, there are interesting storylines and fabulous character moments that are quickly glossed over and moved past, which is really the biggest shame. I certainly will be watching episode two, and three though.


I tweet a lot: professionally for my job, continually for the blog, and constantly to keep in touch with good friends. And lately, both professionally and not, I've been asked what the difference is between following a person and listing a person. I have my own complete list of pros and cons for both as well, and so now I indulge and we shall wax philosophic on tweeting. (O yeah, I went there.)

The basics are this: many people, almost all bloggers, and most businesses, tweet, or have a page on facebook. I tweet a number of ways: through my twitter page, through text, and also through the platform TweetDeck. And it is because of TweetDeck that I'm a huge fan of the list.

The twitter list function was founded in 2009 as another way to "follow" people without having them show up on your main feed. You can create your own list or view other people's lists at any time. Why do I like the list? Because it keeps my main twitter feed clean. I tend to only follow close friends, or people and organizations I connect with frequently. I don't follow very many people, but in total I'm looking at over 100 people's twitter accounts through TweetDeck. Likewise, some of the twitters I want to follow tweet over 60 times a day; following them can feel like you've just opened your email with pages and pages of spam waiting to be opened, when all you wanted to do was read your best friend's email. A list allows me to follow them without being weighed down.  

For the blog, I want quick and easy access to upcoming film, literature, and other blog news without having to see it constantly. With listing, I can select when and how many tweets I want to see. Additionally, using TweetDeck I can see them all at once. It makes digesting large amounts of varied information much easier.

What do your lists look like? Mine are very simple: good to know, authors and blogs, austen-bronte-gaskell, celebs, and all followed. In these 4 categories I can place almost any twitter user and be able to view their tweets in real time without following all of them. TweetDeck makes retweeting from these lists super easy AND will shorten URLs for you. It also has the ability to make a list of all your @mentions, or #specifichashtags which is invaluable during the rewatches and gives me the ability to quickly reply to my blogging peers.

On the other hand, if you do follow a lot of people, you can make lists that would categorize the people you follow. Think about it as the above way, simply reversed.

But isn't following better? Professionally, yes. At work, our goal is to get more followers to share our mission and connect with the local community, which often means following others first. We only have one list and that's resources for the organization, many of whom we also follow. And while I do consider this blog a professional venture, I use twitter more as an information tool than a promotional hub. As such, I'm not nearly as interested in the amount of followers I have, but that I am giving interesting and appropriate information out through my tweets. This also doesn't mean that if I start by listing an individual I won't end up directly following them.

I am all for learning and all for changing. There is something to be said about the friendly follow back. People liked to be followed and many individuals will follow others back if you make the gesture first. But remember, getting followers really shouldn't be the only goal.

All things considered, using lists becomes much easier and more of an option when using a platform like TweetDeck. It all depends on your perspective, preference, and your personal tweeting philosophy.

#REsense recap

Dear reader, I'm positive no one had more fun last night than us at our #REsense twitter party. My lovely beyond lovely cohoestess @CaseeMarie and some of my favorite twitter ladies: @darbydashwood, @ladyrelaynie, @sheblog, and @so_meow, dropped by to enjoy a lot of Austen, and even more Austen discussion. Wondering what some of the top rewatch moments were? They're below, or read the twitter log here.

The twitter silence any time Brandon walked on screen/talked.
There was a good 8 minutes where no one typed anything. I thought twitter might be having a meltdown, or my computer was going to blow up, then the tweets started again and everyone realized we had been silent. And then, we figured out why -- Col. Brandon, in that oh so sexy Alan Rickman voice, was telling us his history in connection with Willoughby. This happened again twice later on in the night and was an amazingly entertaining coincidence. A theory was also thrown out that most women think Snape is a closet gentleman because Rickman played Brandon. Okay, so I'm the one that brought it up and I'm the one that thinks it, but I still think its true! 

Our mutual distaste for Lucy & Fanny
There will always be one Austen character we just can't stand, or certainly love to hate. For Sense and Sensibility that title was won by both Lucy and Fanny. Two women equally ridiculous and equally spiteful.

The inevitable comparison to the '08 adaptation, and subsequent desire to watch the '08 adaptation
Need I say more? I didn't think so.

A argument must be made that Edward and Elinor rival Darcy and Elizabeth  
Darcy and Elizabeth are iconic. They're iconic because of their hate-love relationship, but during the rewatch we questioned why Elinor and Edward are seen as a lesser couple. They're are just as honorable, just as hopelessly in love, and in many ways, act more mature than Darcy and Lizzy. Therefore, I'm arguing today that, while Darcy and Lizzy can keep their reigning title, Elinor and Edward need to get a little more respect as a top Austen couple.

2 more rewatched have be forged (Forgive the medieval sword references, I've been watching too much Camelot)
YEP. Two more rewatches! Northanger Abbey  and Pride and Prejudice '05 will be our next rewatches. This will include more Austen fabulousness, more wallpapers, more photos, and lots more tweets. Pencil in April 29th for Northanger and May 20th for Pride and Prejudice. I know, it feels like a long way away, but it will SO be worth it! More details to come.


In honor of the Sense and Sensibility rewatch tomorrow, our second quote poster is rockin' a little sense and sensibility. Feel like snagging the wallpaper? It will be posted during the rewatch tomorrow. Look for the link along with several others!

S&S rewatch, reasons to be excited

Dear reader, are you as excited for the rewatch as I am? I have my dvd all set out already, I've got all the wallpapers and photos ready. I even...I know this is bad...watched the 2008 BBC adaptation to get ready. Now, I figured there is no reason to sing the newest adaptations praises, we'll be comparing it to the fantastic '95 version in just 2 days, so why not talk a little literary today?

As Jane Austen's first published work, Sense and Sensibility asks many of the same questions as her first novel, (and her last published) Northanger Abbey: what is true love, true romance, and true good sense. What is different in S&S is that we get to see two starkly contrasted relationships grow at the same time. And while different, both relationships question what makes sense and what social sensibility dictates. And, like every Austen novel -- good sense wins, and most of the time is complimentary to social sensibility.

What I love about the novel is Austen's narrator has such a strong voice throughout. In the adaptations, Elinor takes on much of that strength. Thus, its undertone in her character deeply impacts her silent suffering. Anytime Elinor's on screen you feel her love suffocating her, you feel her desires chocking in her throat. Its a brilliant example of how, though some things are lost in translation, other, beautiful nuances take their place.

I can't wait to see what we think during the rewatch! I always love adaptation discussion.

Feel like catching up on your S&S?

And to all my blogging bellas, I'm so sorry I've been MIA around your comment pages and tweets. Real life's been cah-razy. I can't wait to kick back and #REsense on Friday!


By now, dear reader, you have probably heard more about The Borgias than you feel like repeating. And, if you haven't watched it, you've already heard a millions reasons why you should. I've been trying to figure out a creative way to review The Borgias without it sounding like everyone else's review (which undoubtedly is: OMG! I love it! It's wonderful!!!). So, I thought I'd take the most blanket statements about The Borgias and tell you my take. And then there might be a short review at the end...

If you loved The Tudors, you'll love The Borgias.
I know I've been saying this. And for me, the statement is true, but for many there will be chagrin. If you loved The Tudors, the fact is you probably loved it for the actual content of the show: the history of Henry VIII and his 6 wives, the characterization of Henry, his wives and the court, and, of course, the acting. But loving Tudor Era England and Borgias Era Italy can be 2 totally different things. On paper, at a glace, in general, we can make a statement like the above, but when we get down to serious specifics we're in a totally different time period, with totally different characters, and, in some cases, totally different values and villains. The goal of The Borgias production is to humanize a family many consider villains. Henry VIII, through a self-indulgent, haughty, wife-killer, was never considered a villain to the level of Cezare Borgias. In short, if you enjoyed The Tudors, you might tune in for the first episode of The Borgias, and if you like it, you'll keep watching.

It's like The Godfather, but in Renaissance Italy.
Did Mario Puzo base much of his novel The Family (which would later be turned into the classic film The Godfather) on the Borgia family? Yes. And yes, for those fans who have seen The Godfather, it will not be hard to parallel the characters. However, there is so much more to The Borgias than a simple mob family comparission. Like the first statement, I've been one of the people saying this, and for that I'm sorry. Now seeing the pilot, I realize that while the fundamentals like, family loyalty and dynamic, are the same, the feel of The Borgias is very different from the feel of The Godfather. If you are looking for something more Sopranos than The Tudors, you are going to find The Borgias lacking. There is murder, there is deception, but the tone is very different.

The Borgias is a period drama for thinking people.
I never understood this statement. It implies that other period dramas are not fantastic or complex, AND that there is a learning curve to watching great television. Note pop culture blogs: telling half your readership a show isn't for them because you think they're stupid...not a good plan. The Borgias is simply fantastic drama: well shot, well acted, and well edited. As is most period drama. Period drama is drama, simply set in a different era, which is often portrayed more decadently, or more glamorously. Why now are we getting all this mainstream attention? Because a big-budget production is being made; a big-budget production which is hoping to snag all The Tudors fans. Notice, Mildred Pierce received little media attention (it is a period drama, it has famous actors, it has been critically acclaimed) and when was the last time a Masterpiece Theatre mini-series ever hit the mainstream? Dowton Abbey came close; the closest a production had made it in years. Thus, the statement that The Borgias is for thinking people is the same as saying it is for people who love the Godfather: its another hook, another tempting soundbite to entice people to watch. We're thinking people, right? So we must watch...

All those answers sound a little cynical, didn't they? And certainly didn't highlight why I enjoyed the pilot. So here it goes, my SHORT happy review:

Going in to The Borgias I only knew they were considered the serious "bad asses" of history. In most history books, if they are even referenced, its like the Borgias invented the words villain and lasciviousness. So, my blank-slate of a mind, had some serious doodles already in relation to this historical family. What I found fascinating is the show is written not like they are villains, but rising heroes who will have history turned against them. Think about it, had the Bogria family succeeded in unifying Italy and holding on to the papacy, their portrayal in history itself would be very much different.

This is most clearly seen in Cesare's character. Francois Arnaud plays the eldest son of Rodrigo Borgia like a reluctant hero. He has the virtues we associate with a hero: courage, honor to his family, loyalty to his family, and the determination be a protector. He has all these things and listens to the will of his father, even when it runs counter current to his own desires. Like The Tudors, The Borgias is character-driven and Cesare will be its foundation.

The costumes are beautiful, the scenery is impeccable, the acting can wax a tad melodramatic, and the pacing of the 2 hour pilot can drag slightly in the middle, but all in all, it is a strong showing for the new Showtime series.

To learn more about the show visit here. To learn more about the Borgia family visit here. To see lots of fabulous photos, fanart, and gifs visit here.

OOTD - I can't believe I'm doing this

Beware dear reader! This is not a normal Heather post! Well, it will be characteristically Heather; however, it is not about what we normally cover here. Today, I'm doing my first (and probably only lol) OOTD, which stands for Outfit of the Day. Trust me, I am not a fashionista. Sure I love Chanel as much as the next girl, and shopping, and most of the time I try to coordinate my colors, but on the whole, my fashion posts could never be a fantastic as Casee's or Anika's. (Who, by the way, have totally sucked me in to fashion blogs.) I do though, have a little fashion story to tell you today.

A few days ago Anika (whose blog is always so inspiring and fun to read) posted a piece about the nude fashion trend. I have always been a fan of this trend. I love the light pink hues of it mixed with soft and dark greys. Somehow, I think its not so far away from my staple South Hampton nautical feel. Wanting to follow this trend is actually the reason I bought this particular dress from H&M. Sort of. Unlike the other piece I'd bought that same day (a thin stripe blue dress), Mom talked me into this one. She loved it. And she loved it so much, I thought "hey, it might look good; I'll just get it."

And you know what? It sat. It sat in my closet for 3 months. Every time I put it on, thought I'd wear it to work, I took if off. I thought it looked too childish or too frumpy. Says something about buying clothes you don't love, right?

Fridays are casual day at work, and yesterday I just seemed to not care. I put caution to the wind, threw on a white tank under it, put jeans on and went to work. And go figure! I got more compliments yesterday on the shirt/dress than basically any other outfit I've ever worn. I was so surprised, so shocked, that my thoughts about the dress ran in contrast to everyone else's, that I just had to tell Anika and thank her for giving me the final little push I needed to wear the nude-pink dress out of the house. I finished it with these shiny little shoes and made a fashionista for the day.

O! And I figured, why waste a great shot of my desk?! Yep. That is all the #REsense info on the white board. Yep. I do have a Lord of the Rings sword on my wall. My Keep Calm poster? What you can't see is that the line ends: And stay pretty.


Are you as furiously excited as I am, dear reader?! If you've already seen it, still watch it on Sunday too! And if you have Direct TV, bets are you have seen it. 101 has been playing it now for the last two days. The official air date is tomorrow @ 9 pm on Showtime. I'm sure the twitter tag #theborgias will be blowing up my search feed. See you there!

Everything you need to know about the S&S rewatch

Dear readers! We're doing it again. That's right! Another rewatch!
This time? The 1997 version of Sense and Sensibility hosted by yours truly and the fantastic Casee from The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower.

When: April 8th at 8:00 pm EST
Where: Twitter: #REsense
Who: Everyone!
Why: Because we can. And everyone loves to watch Alan Rickman play Col. Brandon, but if you want to have a twitter discussion on why David Morrissey is better, totally I'm game. (btw David Morrissey HAS a twitter (ignore the very strange profile pic. I'm pretty positive its him.) I'm sure if we @ him enough, he might be intrigued..)
Incentive: Isn't rewatching enough?! If its not, I'll be posting special links to S&S fanart wallpapers and high res images not yet posted on fycd during the April 8th rewatch. The links will only be good for the 2 hour rewatch window.

Keep checking back for more rewatch info! Of special interest: Wednesday and Thursday.


Brush Set #004, March 2011 Photoshop CS4+
Feel like creating a foggy world with a little wonderland in it? This set is 9 brushes with starlight and fog. Created with wave stock photos and grunge textures, it is a set perfect for masking in photos or use as overlay and mutiply texture.