How Will I Know If He Really Loves Me (in Jane Austen’s world)

  1. He asks your opinion about his house/grounds/etc.
  2. He tells you secrets about his family.
  3. He tells you nothing but the truth (even if it’s hard for you to hear).
  4. He wants you to improve your character (b/c men of sense do not want silly wives).
  5. He praises you to his family/friends/tenants/etc.
  6. He (secretly) helps your family out in a time of great trouble and takes no credit for it.
  7. He reads the books you suggested to him.
  8. He reads you poetry (with feeling).
  9. He dances with you (though he generally dislikes dancing).
  10. He buys you a horse.
  11. He writes you long letters.
  12. He puts you in a carriage when he sees you’re tired from a v. long walk.
  13. He says there is no one more capable than you (of handling a tough situation).
  14. He is concerned about the happiness of your lady friends.
  15. He brings your mother to see you when you have fallen ill.
  16. He (secretly) buys just-the-right-size pianoforte for your little house.
  17. He says he’ll live with you in your father’s house so the old man can be more comfortable.
  18. He rides through the rain to see you.
  19. He goes against the wishes of his family to be with you.
  20. He puts up with your (ill-mannered/unbalanced/scandalous) relatives.


Things I Learned from Jane Austen

  1. Reading novels is quite harmless for a young lady.
  2. It is possible to read too many novels. 
  3. Taking long walks is an enjoyable pastime.
  4. You never know what fine gentleman you will meet during a long walk.
  5. Clergymen can be quite handsome and amiable.
  6. Clergymen can be quite irritating and judgmental.
  7. You do not need wealth or connections to marry well (but it sure doesn’t hurt!)
  8. There can be no happiness in marriage when one partner does not respect the other.
  9. Not all ladies are romantic- some just want a comfortable home.
  10. Some gentlemen have happy manners all the time.
  11. Some gentlemen do not perform for strangers.
  12. You were not made pretty for no reason (it can you get a rich husband).
  13. If you are tolerable-looking, do not be distressed. (You may land an even richer husband than your hotter sis/cousin/friend!)
  14. Some mothers can cast a bad reflection on their daughters. 
  15. Some fathers can be negligent in reprimanding their daughters’ wild behavior.
  16. Some fathers do not like it when people get married and go away.
  17. Those that are good-natured when they are children become good-natured adults.
  18. Do not discount your older, wiser, wealthier, and slightly cranky neighbor as a potential husband.
  19. Do not jump from high places (expecting the guy you’re crushing on to catch you.)
  20. Women do not forget men as soon men forget women.
  21. Women love on when all hope is lost.
  22. It is difficult to make accommodations suitable for ladies on a ship.
  23. Women do not all want to be in calm waters.
  24. Too much poetry can be dangerous (so encourage your depressed friends to include a little prose in their reading).
  25. In some matters, it is better to use one’s head.
  26. Reserve is preferred by some couples though they are in love.
  27. A lady does not have to hide her regard upon first meeting a gentleman.
  28. We were not all made to be handsome.
  29. Family connections are always worth preserving.
  30. Do not get engaged too young (because someone better might come along.)
  31. Do not forget your old love (because she may still be single in her late 20s.)
  32. Naval men can be the finest men in the whole of England.
  33. The navy brings persons of obscure birth into high positions.
  34. It may raise a few eyebrows if younger sisters are all out (in society) before the older sisters are married.
  35. It is unfair to deprive younger sisters of society just because the older ones haven’t found the right guy.
  36. A simple, artless girl is infinitely preferable to a self-absorbed and haughty one.
  37. A governess can also be a fine lady.
  38. Your sister can be your best friend.
  39. Your sister can be a pain in the ass.
  40. A young farmer’s house can have two good parlors.
  41. If you are poor, you can still be brought up in some style by wealthy family friends.
  42. There is one thing a man can always do- his duty.
  43. Accomplished young ladies know how to play the pianoforte; many also know how to draw and sing!
  44. You should not humiliate old friends (especially in public gatherings).
  45. You should not distress people with word puzzles.
  46. A man may praise one lady in public (but be secretly engaged to another).
  47. A man may look on you as a sister (because he’s secretly engaged).
  48. Do not say you will never be in love (because you never know…)
  49. After you refuse a gentleman, it might not be a good idea to take a tour of his grand house and estate.
  50. After you see your old flame in town, it may be a bad idea to go hanging around with another guy.
  51. If you can’t say what you really mean, just write a letter.
  52. Don’t try to match up people that have absolutely nothing in common.
  53. A woman without children is the best preserver of furniture.
  54. Some people like to see rank preserved.
  55. People with extensive grounds are always happy to meet other people with extensive grounds.
  56. Some gentlemen are equally happy in the city and in the country.
  57. Half-sisters are not real sisters, so you don’t have to give then any luxuries.
  58. A cottage can be very quaint.
  59. Not everyone enjoys the pleasures of Bath.
  60. When a naval officer has no wife, he is eager to be at sea.   
  61. You sometimes can’t reason with a man in love.
  62. Men always think any woman they ask to marry is ready to have them.
  63. If a man, who hardly ever dances, chooses you as a partner- it’s a big deal.
  64. In the East Indies, the air is full of spices.
  65. The Nile is in Abyssinia.
  66. Some girls like wildflowers better than those from the hothouse.
  67. Some girls hide nothing, while others reveal nothing (of their emotions).
  68. A “gentleman” is a guy that has enough money that he doesn’t have to work.
  69. The eldest son in the family gets everything.
  70. The younger son must find a living for himself, or marry well.
  71. It is cruel to separate two people who have formed an attachment.
  72. If you are lucky, the girl/guy you happen to fall for will be rich.
  73. It is not proper to talk to a stranger (though he’s a hottie) if you have not been introduced.
  74. Only engaged people hug and kiss.
  75. The more you see of the world, the more you’ll be dissatisfied with it.
  76. Ignorance and prejudice form no bar to creating the strongest opinions.
  77. Girls usually do not dance with other guys if they are engaged.
  78. Riding horses with a guy you like is v. romantic.
  79. If there is a real superiority of mind, then it’s okay to be proud.
  80. If you’re not officially engaged to a guy, don’t get your hopes up too high.


A Little Tribute to Heath Ledger

By now most of you, esp. those in NYC, would have heard about the death of actor Heath Ledger.   You can still see him this summer as The Joker in The Dark Knight with (the ALWAYS wonderful) Christian Bale.  Instead of speculating on the personal stuff (which has no correlation w/ someone’s talent), I’d like to take a few mins. to talk about his work.

Like many of you, I first saw Heath Ledger in 10 Things I Hate About You, a teen rom com (based loosely on Shakespeare’s comedy The Taming of The Shrew).  That movie was breezy and fun, but in The Four Feathers (dir. by Shekar Kapur- he made the Elizabeth films w/ Cate B.) he got a chance to show some range.  Heath (Australian), Wes Bentley (American), and Kate Hudson (American) played 3 v. close friends in 19th c. England who who have v. different reactions to an impending war (in the Sudan).   Though this is a period piece with beautiful costumes, exotic locales, and all that- the young leads do a GREAT job of making it seem modern.  Heath and Wes have been best friends for a LONG time, and are both soldiers.  Heath and Kate get engaged, but Wes is (secretly) in love w/ Kate.  And then the guys are summoned to war in a far-off place, but Heath’s character refuses to fight (thus garnering 4 feathers of cowardice, from his fellow soldier pals AND his fiancee!)  His friends go off, BUT so does Heath (in disguise; he wants to protect Wes… and maybe get back some respect).

In that time, refusing to fight was (nearly) unheard of; Heath’s dad (also a military man) disowns him in this film.  Kate does NOT stand by her man, b/c she also feels he has made the wrong choice not to fight.  Wes Bentley, who is not a big star, but a FINE actor matches Heath’s work in The Four Feathers.  You will NOT be able to tell he’s a country boy from down South!    You can see Wes in the v. famous American Beauty and The Claim w/ Milla Jovovich and Nastassja Kinski.  Some of the best scenes in The Four Feathers involve Heath and Djimon Hounsou (also in Amistad and Blood Diamond), the no-nonsense Muslim African man who watches over him in the Sudan.  Yup, there was trouble between black and Arab folks even BACK then in Sudan! 

Heath was nominated for an Oscar (and rightly so) for his work as Ennis in Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain.  In my opinion, his role was MORE of a challenge than the one played by Jake Gyllenhaal.  It was a BIG surprise to ppl b/c Heath had never had such an opportunity to show his stuff.  Yes, Jake is easier to relate to, but Heath had a lot of (internal) stuff going on in the film.  I was crying in that last scene w/ the two shirts in the closet, just like half the theater!  The v. beautiful scenery is another reason to see Brokeback Mountain.

Some people have a LOT of potential, my mom used to say, but they don’t fully realize it. 

Update re: myself… and movies to (definitely) check out

Hey all! 

I have been sick (yes, even after being pretty sick in October) since last Sunday!!!  Well, it wasn’t THAT bad last Sunday, but it quickly became worse… and worse… and worse.  I went to my local dr. on Wed p.m., and he said I have strep throat.   I got meds to take for 7 days, and am being v. careful re: rest, eating, and drinking (tea, water, o.j.).  I don’t have health insurance yet, so had to fork over $50 to doc!!!  Oh, also got flu shot (recommended if you work w/ kids).  Also, my mom (Happy B-day today!!!) said I should do some exercise and eat yogurt (since ppl on antibiotics need that).  My dad is moving (again) to Washington D.C. area today!  I heard he was a bit emotional b/c he has to live away from my mom and lil bro (yes, again)!     

Okay, on to the main topic of the day!  Recently, I’ve seen some AWESOME movies that y’all should check out (when you get time).  Last week, I saw Atonement over at Kaufman Astoria.  What can I say- it’s like being transported to another time/place (esp. in the last 30 mins. or so).  It’s terrific, but in an understated way!  I heard that the book is really about words (the importance of language) and imagination.  However, the movie was marketed more as a romance.  The director is young, but does NOT do anything too flashy w/ technique.  I REALLY enjoyed the jumps forward and backward in time (used to show the little girl’s perspective and then what REALLy happened).  On to the actors…

Well, many ppl know by now that James McAvoy is a FABULOUS actor (and at such a young age, too.)  His role perfectly suited him, his background, and natural abilities!  I thought is was a BIT weird that some people (mainly online) commented that he was NOT good-looking enough for them!  Okay, so he’s not the TRADITIONAL leading man, but his looks really suited his role, Robbie.  If you see him, even back in his TV days, you can tell there is a lot of commitment he gives to his characters.  Hmmm… how about Keira?

Keira Knightley is NOT as strong as James, or even Romola Garai (she’s the older Briony), but she has GROWN a lot over the yrs.  Sorry to Keira haters, but Cecilia is a good role for her- a young woman who is rich, reserved, sheltered, but v. strong on the inside (you’ll see the decision she makes after Robbie is put in jail).  Romola, looking very unglamorous, does a GREAT job in this film (as usual).  One of her co-stars from Amazing Grace plays a villain in the movie.

The little pre-teen girl in the movie did a TERRIFIC job!  The viewer was seeing a LOT of things through her eyes (later on through Romola’s and Vanessa Redgrave’s).  She had QUITE an imagination!  What I liked most about the movie was that SO many young actors (under 30) demonstarted that they could do serious work.  Also, there were no wild theatrics or action put in to distract from the 3 main characters struggles and hopes.  Honestly, that flash-bam stuff wouldn’t have fit in this film. 

I just saw (today) a little foreign (Russian) film- The Cuckoo.  It is from a FEW yrs. back and is also very character-driven.  The time is the tail end of WWII (1944) in a remote area of Finland.  There are 3 v. different ppl put in a situation where they need each other to survive: a young Finnish soldier, a middle-aged Russian capt., and a young widow.  The widow lives alone on a little farm (her hubby went off to war more than 4 yrs. back).  The woman saves BOTH their lives, and brings them to (eventually) live in peace.  They give her something v. precious (you’ll see at end of film- don’t wanna give it away!)  The odd thing- none of these characters speak the same language!  It is not needed b/c the issues in the film are universal.  Believe me, if you like smart, sweet, quirky films- you’ll LOVE this one! 


My fave directors: Pedro Almodovar: This guy is a legend in his native Spain, and his films are unabashedly colorful, emotional, and well… out there (for many American viewers).  He can hook you in w/ his passion for his material, though, and the ride is worth it! Spike Lee: He’s colorful, bold (usu funny), and has his pulse on what is going on NOW; his characters (even the historical ones) pop off the screen b/c they are so easy to relate to; the music he chooses for his movies is always interesting as well.  The convos his characs have sound like REAL people, not movie people.  There is such a variety in this world, and he shows us a wide spectrum of black experiences, dreams, problems, etc. Mira Nair: She lives in-between many worlds, and her movies reflect the conflicts that generations of family members struggle with everyday.  How does what has come before affect someone today?  There is always a positive/hopeful thread woven in her films because most people (in the world) are trying to do the right thing.  John Sayles: He writes his movies as well, so that is a BIG advantage for those working w/ him; he loves to learn about communities (here and across the border in Latin America).  This guy does not use fancy camera tricks because his writing and character development are the focus.  His movies are about regular people and real issues (gentrification, international adoption, immigration, etc.)