Browsing Archives for February 2012

Downton Abbey? – Hmmmmm…

February 8th, 2012

Along with what seems like the rest of the country, I too have been watching Masterpiece Theater’s Downton Abbey.  I really liked the first season and was anxious for the second season to begin.  Strangely, I have found the second season to be weirdly melodramatic, sometimes very silly, absurdly repetitive and filled with overwrought acting.  To me, Downton Abbey seems to be an American mini-series disguised as a British mini-series.  There are moments, especially when Maggie Smith is delivering a line, that the show almost seems more like a satire of itself than a serious period drama.  I understand that her character is meant to be something of a caricature, but she seems to be too aware of the cartoonish quality of her role and that makes is all seem like a Monty Python sketch.

What I have always loved about British shows is the stoic reserve, the biting dialogue and the normal looking people (uneven teeth, imperfect complexions, the less than glamorous female actresses) and the fabulous backdrops (imposing estates, lush gardens, rain drenched cobblestones, gloomy cityscapes, foreboding cliffs, boggy peats, luminous forests, small stone cottages with curly cues of smoke rising from the chimney and wind swept meadows strewn with the corpses of a thousand brides).  (Never mind that last one…)  But what I am saying is that this second season of Downton Abbey has somehow been weirdly Americanized.  It’s mostly to do with the writing and the delivery of the lines, the repetition of the storylines (seriously – how may times does the youngest daughter have to have the exact same conversation with the lovelorn chauffeur?)  and what is it with the ridiculous amount of long panning camera shots on characters that are doing nothing other than glowering and/or pouting and/or looking pensive off into the middle distance?  Do I really need another slow pan over the face of the evil lady’s maid O’Brien and her sidekick Thomas the plotting footman?  How many more lingering gazes does the camera need to rest on Lady Mary?  She is a very attractive actress, but I have looked at her for so long that I have come to think that she has the most monstrous eyebrows in the universe.  Perhaps if I had not had to stare at her stricken face for approximately half of every episode, I might still think she had very normal eyebrows.  And could someone please put some blush on the pale kitchen maid Daisy!  She looks like the walking dead!  Why did poor William fall so hard for her?  She looks anemic!  Perhaps she is the inspiration behind my English meadow full of dead brides!

I do love the palpable disdain that the Earl of Grantham has for his middle daughter Edith.  At this point, it is the only part of the show that is keeping me entertained.  Overall, I love the Brits for their reserve, their icy delivery, their gimlet eyed view of the world, their inablity to emote and the way that everything they think, feel and believe is expressed in their playful use of language. I don’t want to stare at a British character.  I want to listen to what they say. And I want them to say it in a garden that is in front of a looming estate that hides a secret room that is filled with dead brides.

Downton Abbey has at least got the looming estate and the garden right.  Now if we could just get those characters to say something interesting.

I know that for some reason, America has fallen in love with this show.  And that is great for PBS especially in this climate of such vitriol towards all things publicly funded.  Still, I think that the popularity of this show has worked against it.  I imagine that I will continue to watch this season, but I am already tired of it.

Except for this dress…

I am not at all tired of Lady Mary’s black evening dress with the velvet ribboned sleeves.

What do you think of the show?


February 7th, 2012

My eldest is seventeen now.

He’s really tall and has great cheek bones.

I don’t know if you are supposed to note your son’s cheek bones, but I can’t help it.

He’s taller than his dad…

and of course his mom.

But I still outweigh him!

He’s a great kid.

I’ve got him for another year and a half.

And then he will fly.

There are so many things he needs to know before he goes!

I better start making a list!

My Parents Hosted a Wedding

February 7th, 2012

A little over a year ago, my parents moved to be closer to their kids and grandkids.  Before they moved, they sold almost all of their old furniture. Then they moved into a small rental house in their new city and began the process of looking for a house to buy. When they found that house, they spent about six months remodeling the kitchen and the bathrooms and the living spaces. Their new house turned out beautifully and now they have been working on finding furniture to go in the house.  At this point, they still do not have any furniture for the main floor living room.  When we visit them we hang out around the kitchen and dining room tables and in the comfortably furnished basement.

Since moving, my parents have found a church and they attend a weekly bible study. A young couple in their bible study wanted to get married, but they did not have much money to spend on a ceremony. The leaders of the bible study offered to host the wedding for the couple in their home, but there was a problem. They had too much furniture in their house and they didn’t have any place to put the furniture to create a big enough space for a wedding ceremony.  My parents, on the other hand had very little furniture making their home a perfect place to host a wedding. Their empty living room could be used for the ceremony and then re-configured into a dining hall to host a wedding supper. The young couple thought that this idea was superb and that is how my parents ended up hosting a wedding in their home.

I took some photos. None of them turned out very good, but it’s better than nothing! Enjoy!

The bride gets ready in my parent’s bathroom.

Bride with mom and grandma.

The very nervous groom.

He had a headache and asked my mom for some ibuprofen.  My mom told me to get some for him in her bathroom.  I went back there, where the bride was getting ready and together we rooted through my mom’s enormous collection of pills and creams and lotions and vitamins to try and find some ibuprofen.  We didn’t find any, but the bride recognized a type of medicine that she thought would help with her groom’s headache. She handed me the bottle.  “Give him one of these.” she said.

Me – Uh… you want me to give the groom one of these tiny blue pills?

Bride – Yes, I think that this is a very good headache medicine.

So I took the tiny blue pill out to the groom and I gave him the pill.

Me – The bride said you should take this little blue pill.

Groom – What is it?

Me – I have no idea.

Groom – She wants me to take this pill?

Me – Yes.

Groom – Uh… well…(pause and sigh)… okay.

And so he took it.  I have no idea what it was, but he seemed to be fine throughout the ceremony.

The buffet.

Everyone in the bible study contributed food.

They had BBQ sandwiches, potato salad, and crudite.

The mother of the groom made the wedding cake.

Transforming the ceremony hall into the dining hall.

My parents requested that young kids eat in the dining room where there were wood floors instead of carpet.  There were a little over sixty people in attendance.  We opened up a few windows when the house started to get warm.  That is why the bride has a suit coat over her dress.  She was chilly.

That’s my mom standing up at the back of the newly created dining hall.

They cut the cake in the breakfast nook.

Everyone stayed around to help clean up.

My mom and dad are in the center of the photo.

The end.