olde_fashioned: (American faith -- prayer at Valley Forge)
[personal profile] olde_fashioned
Lately I haven't been in the mood for navel gazing, so I figure I'd better take advantage of a lark while I have it, and give a real life update. ;)

I'm sick (again), probably bronchitis since my coughs usually turn into that. I'm over-worked, under-paid, tired, tired of having to work so much, and tired of being tired. I've had to call out sick a number of times during these past two weeks thanks to my good old friend the nasty cough.

The only good thing about this is I've had some time to actually read for a change, and finally finished The Scarlet Pimpernel (which I was getting sick of seeing on my sidebar, heh). Not a bad book, but definitely better in the general concept than the execution. Lots of generalized descriptions and over-used phrases which I found highly annoying, most especially Orczy's habit of describing Chauvlin as "fox-like" and perpetually having him rub his "long, bony fingers together". Yes, we know he's the villain. No, I don't need to be reminded of it every other page.

Now I've embarked on David McCullough's 1776, which I had to abandon 66 pages in three years ago (stupid library renewal limits). Actually owning a copy entirely removes any pressure from having to finish it by a certain time frame, which is lovely. I'm already past my previous point of progress, and am once again reminded of how heroic our Founding Fathers were. The things they endured! We have much to be grateful for, and very large shoes to fill. In the case of George Washington, I know he's generally lauded, but goshhe's wonderful--I think they broke the mold after he was born.

I almost hate to say this, especially as it's my own fault, but I was hoping for just a teensy bit more of backstory on the beginnings of the war; how it came about, etc. Apparently 1776 is more of an appendix to John Adams, so perhaps the latter has more of the information I'm seeking? Do any of my readers know? It wasn't high up on my reading list, but if his biography also contains a "play-by-play" of the steps leading to war with Britain then it would automatically become more interesting. ;)

Going back over some of my previous book reviews, it's become apparent that I've written considerably less and less of them in recent months. Part of this is natural; I've read less, due to having to work. Another facet of that issue, is it takes me longer to get through a book, which in turn means that my impressions and remarks fade much more quickly. Short of stopping the actual reading process to take scrupulous notes (which I've done, but it's tedious and very disruptive), how do you all prepare for composing book reviews, if you write them?

Date: 2011-05-12 11:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ladyneferankh.livejournal.com
Sink me! You will have to post a worthy review of The Scarlet Pimpernel when ye have the chance!

Hmm--unfortunately I don't remember John Adams as talking in much detail about the steps leading up to the war either, focusing mostly on personal or cultural struggles (Adams became estranged from several old friends due to the war). If you want a book that traces the beginning of the war you'll probably have to read one ofthese.

* hands you lemonade and hot soup *

Date: 2011-05-13 06:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olde-fashioned.livejournal.com
What, you mean that wasn't a worthy review?? ;P Honestly I'm not sure I can come up with much more to say--the story basically follows the plot of the Jane Seymour/Anthony Andrews film.

Okay...scratch that then. It can go back down towards the bottom of the list... And thanks for that list! Have you read any of those personally? (You know how much I rely on you!!)

Date: 2011-05-24 06:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ladyneferankh.livejournal.com
It's the comment before this one silly ;)

Unfortunately no, I don't think I've read many of those, since I usually tend to focus on the war itself.

Clearly this means we must both plunge further into 18th century culture, and you know what a dreadful burden that would be ;)

Date: 2011-05-25 03:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olde-fashioned.livejournal.com
*iz stoopid*

Thank youuuu....sigh.

And yes, what a tragedy, immersing one's self even deeper into the century dearest to our hearts! ;P

Date: 2011-05-12 11:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] areth-lovejoy.livejournal.com
When I write reviews, I tend to write down quick impressions throughout or shorthand about a point I know I want to discuss. But I don't stop and write out a detailed analysis. I generally actually will think about the book a few days and let my thoughts settle anyhow before reviewing as my feelings tend to shift after the initial post-reading buzz fades. If I really liked a book, I remember names and events vividly for weeks; it is the lackluster ones I have to go check up on names and such....

I do take down pages numbers and quotes too using tiny post-it-notes. Terribly handy items to have while reading imho.

Hope you feel better soon!

Date: 2011-05-13 06:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olde-fashioned.livejournal.com
Interesting--I'm used to trying to crank out a review as fast as possible in order to preserve my initial thoughts. Sometime I should try it your way! ;)

One of my other as-yet-to-be-written reviews I did take detailed notes, complete with page numbers!


Date: 2011-05-13 01:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anodiel.livejournal.com
Actually owning a copy entirely removes any pressure from having to finish it by a certain time frame, which is lovely.

Yes, it is. That's why I bought a copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray. I wanted to have plenty of time to take time to read it. If that makes sense.

When I saw 1776 in your tags for this post, I thought "huh?" Then I read it and see that you are picking it back up again. I thought you had finished it.

Another facet of that issue, is it takes me longer to get through a book, which in turn means that my impressions and remarks fade much more quickly. Short of stopping the actual reading process to take scrupulous notes

I was considering do that myself. I think what will help it from being disruptive is at the end of your reading session, write your impressions. That way you can read though until you want to stop and then do it. I like to read a chapter or two at a time. At the end of those one or two, I can write my impressions.

Date: 2011-05-13 07:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olde-fashioned.livejournal.com
I haven't tried any Wilde. How's the moral compass in his works?

Ahh, yes. I probably had to return it to the library about the time you stopped LJing, no?

Date: 2011-05-13 02:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anodiel.livejournal.com
Let's put it this way...Both the book and he were contraversial at the time. He was probably more scandalous than anything. The book on the other hand has a moral point. Beauty and immorality vs. age and goodness, basically. I can probably delve more into this once I get further into the book. I'm only like on chapter two.

Date: 2011-05-13 01:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] digne.livejournal.com
I totally agree with your assessment of Scarlet Pimpernel. I love the concept but the execution is lacking. This is one case where the film version have a chance to improve on the original. Unfortunately most of them fail. The best film version IMHO is the Jane Seymour/Anthony Andrews one. It's a major improvement of the concept. It's true to the spirit of the book while filling in its failings.

And I'll just say that the musical has some lovely songs, even though the book of it is terrible. You must listen to "When I look at you" if you've never heard it.

I can't comment on the John Adams thing. Both of those books are on my to be read pile. I just finished First Family: Abigail and John Adams by Joseph J. Ellis. But that isn't what you want if you are looking for a play-by-play of the revolution.

Date: 2011-05-13 07:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olde-fashioned.livejournal.com
Really!! Well I'm glad someone else shares that feeling--I felt a little mean putting it our there, but I can't help it haha. And yes yes yes, I love that movie!!!! I grew up on it, and it's why I picked up a copy of the novel to begin with. I suppose I can add TSP to my (very short) list of movies that are better than their books...

I'm aware of the musical, but haven't tried any of it yet. I'll have to look that song up!

Yeah, if I want an Adams bio I know who to go to. ;) I'm looking for something about the war in general.

Date: 2011-05-14 06:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] digne.livejournal.com
I had a whole message typed but them LJ or my email ate it!

My first exposure to SP was the musical (well the CD). Then I read the book and saw the 1930s film version, which is decent. Next I saw the Andrews/Seymour version and that is by far the best. Somewhere around in here I learned the book of the musical was written like a bad American sitcom. And then the Richard E. Grant version is just ... don't bother.

All in all I'm very impressed with what they did in Andrews/Seymour. It's true to the original's spirit while correcting its failings.

The best of the musical:

"When I Look at You"

"Into the Fire"

Date: 2011-05-15 10:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olde-fashioned.livejournal.com
Oh I hate it when that happens!! Usually when I'm writing something of longer length, I'll copy it as I go, so it'll be on my clipboard, just in case it disappears.

I've seen the Leslie Howard/Merle Oberon version, which wasn't dreadful, but somewhat lackluster. I tried not to think "ASHLEY WILKES!" every time LH was onscreen.

The Anthony Andrews/Jane Seymour version is indeed the best! And that end scene with Chauvlin getting "undressed" at the point of Sir Percy's sword is just priceless (as are his perpetual digs at the French fashions)!

I tried to like the Richard E. Grant/Elizabeth McGovern version, but ugh, it was just so wrong on so many different levels. Grant wasn't a bad Fop!Percy, but he lacked something to completely round out the character. As for McGovern, I was shocked at how much I hated her performance (even moreso after having recently watched Downton Abbey and liking her very much!). Marguerite was supposed to be exquisite and charming! Not petulant and grumpy. She had none of the elegance that the character required, which really ruined the series for me. The costumes were also lackluster, save for Emilia Fox's FABULOUS boysenberry-hued ensemble. ;)

Date: 2011-05-13 02:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/lady_jane_grey_/
Here, too, I shall give you hugs and Brittanytonin for your cough *hugs* *sets up OJ IV*

Date: 2011-05-13 07:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olde-fashioned.livejournal.com
Aww, thank you for taking the time to comment when you feel so bad yourself!!! <3

Date: 2011-05-13 04:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] visionsbeyond.livejournal.com
Damn those nasty coughs! *hugs* I`m starting Edith Wharton`s House of Mirth now. Been such a long time since I sat down and actually read something good :(

Date: 2011-05-13 07:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olde-fashioned.livejournal.com
Very well put Val, LOL!

And ooh, Wharton!! I've heard her compared to Austen, yet I didn't like The Age of Innocence at all when I watched the movie. Tell me the book is better...?!

As for reading something good...have you read North & South yet?

Date: 2011-05-13 05:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ceallaighgirl.livejournal.com
You know what you should totally do for fun? Watch the old 1776 musical. It even has Mr. Feeney from Boy Meets World (he plays John Adams). It's actually a really good musical.

Date: 2011-05-13 08:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olde-fashioned.livejournal.com
I never watched BMW, and you know I'm not big on musicals, but an 18th century one, well...I might just have to look it up on YouTube... ;)

Date: 2011-05-13 03:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ceallaighgirl.livejournal.com
Well, well it doesn't matter if you never watched BMW, that actor is actually a really good one (William Daniels, he's been around for a long time!).

I was skeptical at first when a friend told me to watch 1776 but I was delightfully surprised. It's not cheesy.

Date: 2011-05-15 06:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olde-fashioned.livejournal.com
I don't know if I can sit through 90 minutes (or however long) of that...

(However I did just get a huge kick out of the letter of Washington's that they read--I was just on that part in the book 1776, where he mentions wishing himself in a wigwam! LOL!)
Edited Date: 2011-05-15 06:44 am (UTC)

Date: 2011-05-13 11:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] winterlillies.livejournal.com
A friend of mine who teaches on the American Revolution uses this guide for her class especially those who didn't grow up in the US. Edmund S. Morgan's The Birth of the Republic, 1763-89 is a really good read too. I'd also recommend Thomas Paine's Common Sense which was written at the time and basically let the colonists who might not have understood the impact of a revolution understand why it was necessary to break free. I really do recommend reading Paine's book.

I do hope you feel better! Are there any clinics in CA you can go to that cater to any low income people? I know here in New Mexico you can go and they'll treat you for half of the cost. Since I'm unemployed and when I went to the hospital last year and I was enrolled in the state coverage program and only can go to the clinic's at the University of New Mexico, but the doctors there are pretty good. I don't have a co-pay and my meds are $5 if I need any and overall hospital stays with exams is $25 a day.

Date: 2011-05-15 06:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olde-fashioned.livejournal.com
OHHHH that list is awesome Jess!! Thank you!!!!! And of course anything contemporary to the period is highly valuable. It's finding a good, thorough, non-dry historical account that's harder, when I don't know anything about the author's trustworthiness. You'd recommend Morgan's, then?

There might be, but I haven't looked. Thanks for the suggestion, though. :)

Date: 2011-05-16 05:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] winterlillies.livejournal.com
It's been about 6 years since I read Morgan (showing my age here) and I had to read it for an undergrad class and he was okay. I thought he was easy to understand and get through. :)

You can find Thomas Paine's Common Sense over at the gutenberg project. Most historians will say it's a propaganda piece and rightly so, but I think it does so much more and it's a pity some call it that because I don't think it really is.

Date: 2011-05-17 03:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olde-fashioned.livejournal.com
Oh phoo, stop saying you're old! I'm right behind you so I don't want to hear it, LOL!

Glad to have a friend vouch for a historian--there's nothing worse to me than a dry bore who tries to distill history down to whatever level of idiocy they want.

Ahhh, I love that site, but it's hard on my eyes!!! And ink is so expensive, so I can't print it out. I'll just get it from the library (I refuse to buy an Nook/Kindle/JobKiller, grrr).

Well wasn't The Federalist Papers also technically a propaganda piece? When I read that, it did kind of smack of CHANGE YOUR MIND YE SINNERS!!! but at the same time it was fascinating to get a glimpse into 18th century reasoning.

Date: 2011-05-17 06:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] winterlillies.livejournal.com
I don't consider The Federalist Papers propaganda because it is a series of essays on the ratification of the Constitution. Besides not all of the papers were published outside NY and by the time majority of the papers had been published several states had already ratified the Constitution. Plus Hamilton (Fed paper number 84) did not want a Bill of Rights attached to the Constitution, but those who opposed the Federalist movement believed that we needed to have a Bill of Rights (as did Jefferson). The main reason I don't see it as propaganda is because federal judges do use the Federalist papers to interpret the Constitution to this day. Where some people might see it as the ideas of Hamilton, Madison, & company I see it more of the ideas OF the ideas they were promoting (does that make sense)?

I love my Sony e-reader & wouldn't give it up! I still buy books though and prefer them, but honestly if I ever were to head back to the UK for a PhD-all my fun books to read would have to be done and bought for the e-reader only because there's no way I could justify buying a book and moving back with TONS of them. It is bad enough I had to leave behind so many history related books.

You might be able to find a very cheap copy of Paine at a used bookstore-maybe a library. I know I don't have Paine or I'd offer to send you my copy, but alas I don't have him.

Date: 2011-05-19 06:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olde-fashioned.livejournal.com
Good point. I didn't realize you knew so much on this subject--I think I ought to be asking you YOUR opinion, not offering mine, hehe!!

Date: 2011-05-15 01:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ever-maedhros.livejournal.com
The Scarlet Pimpernel is one of my favorite books. Much as I adore the dashing and daring in the story, I have to agree that Orczy can be annoying at times.

Date: 2011-05-15 06:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olde-fashioned.livejournal.com
Exactly! I love the "formula" for the character? (I think that's why I'm drawn to TSP, Zorro, Batman, etc.) I'd like to see a different take on that story in more capable hands...

Date: 2011-05-15 04:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ever-maedhros.livejournal.com
Yes! I can't possibly decide whether I love TSP or Zorro better. It just depends upon whether I'm in the mood for a Brit Masked Avenger or a Spaniard Masked Avenger. ;)

As for Batman, I think he might be my favorite "super hero" ever. (I've been following your journal for a while, so I already know he's definitely your favorite.) It's so much more believable that a man of good fortune would use his money to create a host of crime-fighting gadgets, than that a high school boy would get bitten by a radio-active spider, or that an alien baby from a dying planet would get shipped to Earth by his parents.

Date: 2011-05-15 10:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olde-fashioned.livejournal.com
Well for me, it depends on which incarnation of TSP or Zorro that we're comparing. ;) I happen to prefer the older versions of Zorro (I'm sorry but Antonio Banderas just doesn't do it for me--I prefer Tyrone Power or even Guy Williams).

If we're going to get REALLY technical, I'd argue that Zorro is more akin to Robin Hood (rob the rich, feed the poor, etc.), while TSP is trying to snatch lives from the jaws of Madame Guillotine. Both worthy causes, but what TSP's doing is a little harder.

Yup, you are correct, and I'm glad you agree! Your reasoning is also mine; there's no virtue in someone who is impervious to bullets taking a hit for someone. Spiderman is arguably more heroic than Superman, but Batman trumps them all IMO. (I read an interesting piece in a fascinating book (http://www.amazon.com/Batman-Philosophy-Knight-Blackwell-Culture/dp/0470270306/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1305498447&sr=1-1). It argued that for similar reasons to those I just listed above, that Superman's "sacrifice" is significantly less than that of Batman, because he has much less at stake. He's not going to die stopping crime, while every night Batman goes out on patrol could be his last. Definitely worth a read, even if you think it might be lame (I did), but it was surprisingly intellectual and thought-provoking.

Date: 2011-05-16 02:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ever-maedhros.livejournal.com
With regard to TSP and Zorro, I actually had the books chiefly in mind. While I like both the Leslie Howard and Anthony Andrews version of TSP, no portrayal that I've seen has quite brought Zorro to life for me. Maybe somebody will make a new Zorro movie that will work . . .

I think you're right about Zorro and Robin Hood. (HOW did I forget about Robin and his band of merry men?!)

Batman and Philosophy? :D Lame or no, it does sound entertaining . . .

Date: 2011-05-17 03:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olde-fashioned.livejournal.com
I haven't read The Curse of Capistrano (which is what you're referring to for Zorro, correct?) yet, though I do have a "companion" edition to what I'm pretty sure was the Guy Williams TV show, by Disney.

LOL! Robin Hood is almost cliche, now, perhaps that's why. I never was particularly enamored of him; perhaps it's the green, versus the black. >;)

I thought it would be lame, but it wasn't! I'd definitely check it out (literally, from a library at least)!

Date: 2011-05-18 01:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ever-maedhros.livejournal.com
The Zorro book I was referring to was The Mark of Zorro by Johnston McCulley. (I couldn't find TCoC at my library, so I had to be content with that one. :D) Like TSP, it has its cheesy moments; but on the whole, I liked a lot, and was disappointed that it hadn't been followed more closely by the film adaptions I've seen.

I agree that black is far more fascinating than green.

Date: 2011-05-19 06:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olde-fashioned.livejournal.com
Was that a novelization of the movie, or...?

What is it about books from the early 20th century that have that element of corniness??

Date: 2011-05-21 04:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ever-maedhros.livejournal.com
I think it was the original story, or one of the original stories, that started the whole Zorro legend. I'm not sure. It was written in 1919, if my information's correct.

I don't know why 1900-esque books have their own special brand of corniness. I guess every era has its own goofy quirks. I know ours has a ton. :(

Date: 2011-05-22 07:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olde-fashioned.livejournal.com
My initial reaction was "I'll have to look for that and read it!" but now I'm thinking of yet another semi-silly early 20th century novel, and I'm not sure I'm up for another one just now, haha. I'll keep it in mind, though!

Yes, each era definitely has it's "distinguishing characteristics". Georgians liked rambling run-on sentences and capitalizing words like "Honour" and "Beauty". Victorians never knew when to shut up when describing something; they also like "literary allusions" (Gaskell is especially good/bad at this). More modern literature likes to be as shocking and sexualized as possible. Contemporary fiction (I refuse to say literature) seems to equate greatness with foul language and the breaking of all the rules of grammar and punctuation (*coughCormacMcCarthycough*). Hmm...

Date: 2011-05-22 08:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] victoria-tonks.livejournal.com
Hey, L.! I'm back to LJ (hopefully), so thought I'd say hello. How are you? What abou this nasty bronchitis? Hope it's gone by now!

Hope to talk to you soon. :) *hugs*

Date: 2011-05-22 07:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olde-fashioned.livejournal.com
Heyyyyy you!!!! So glad to see you back! :D :D :D

Bronchitis is still goin' strong--it's a 4-6 weeks deal, and I've only just entered the fourth week. Siiiiiigh.

Date: 2011-05-22 08:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] victoria-tonks.livejournal.com
Oh man - 4 to 6 weeks??? That's awful. :( Feel better soon! *sends loads of healthy vibes*

Date: 2011-05-22 08:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olde-fashioned.livejournal.com
Yeah I know. Oh well, at least now I know how it feels to have "fluff in me lungs", LOL! ;)

Date: 2011-05-22 08:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] victoria-tonks.livejournal.com
LOL! Of course, that 'LOL' is about the quote, not your feeling so bad. *hugs* What's your treatment - antibiotics?

Date: 2011-05-22 08:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olde-fashioned.livejournal.com
Of course, haha! ;)

And no--my brother had bronchitis and pneumonia at the same time, and they gave him an inhaler and told him to take an OTC decongestant. The latter is what I've been on, also cough medicine.

Date: 2011-05-22 08:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] victoria-tonks.livejournal.com
Hmmm, it's so different here then. I don't think bronchitis and/or prenumonia are ever treated here without antibiotics, usually with support of some inhalers or meds like Zyrtec for allergic people. Well, different country, different methods. But I do know how exhausting cough is. Hope the meds are helping!

Date: 2011-05-25 04:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olde-fashioned.livejournal.com
Thank you! :)


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