Book the Fourth

So I finally got the digital edition of this book from the library and it’s super awesome because, drumroll please, it has screenshots from Anne of Avonlea (the made-for-TV-movie, not the book, because that would make zero sense).

Edith Wharton's The Mount, a house that certainly warrants a name.

Edith Wharton’s The Mount, a house that certainly warrants a name.

The book is set in Summerside which is just Avonlea with strangers and, if possible, more gossip. I realized when I was almost done with this book that it was like an episode of Gilmore Girls. Most of the story comes from the bizarre background characters that pop in and out rambling about their bizarre personal lives. I’ve always thought Stars Hollow seemed like hell but I’m also pretty much a misanthrope.

Katherine Brooke, whether you know it or not, what you want is a good spanking.

Anyway. I really thought Windy Poplars was the town’s name but it’s actually a house. Do people name their houses? Like I get naming an estate or like a manor but a regular house? Really? The town is, as apparently all towns in Prince Edward Island were, populated almost exclusively by one family. That skeeves me out for obvious reasons. Unlike the people in Avonlea and Glen St. Mary, this family is just a bunch of (as my friend says) butt-nuggets. The book is almost exclusively letters from Anne,who apparently has a perfect memory of everything she’s said or heard, to Gilbert, her fiance. There are, however, often omitted pages which I assume are full of Victorian era sexting (smutty letters, maybe sketches. I don’t really know). if that’s not why they’re missing, this quote shouldn’t be the only romance in the whole book:

Are you sure you kiss me in suitable places, Gilbert? I’m afraid Mrs. Gibson would think the nape of the neck, for instance, most unsuitable.

It also gives Anne her second room facing a graveyard. The fact that I can recall that information angers me more than I can say. I’m becoming a repository of Anne Shirley trivia. This book, like Anne’s House of Dreams suffers from busybodying. Anne is engaged so she isn’t getting into romantic situations and she’s grown up so she’s not getting herself into scrapes so she has to deal with everyone else’s problems.

This was the edition I had.

At one point, Anne is assisting with a town history (which is mostly boring) and discovers a grim tale of cannibalism. This reminds me of, spoiler alert, one of my favorite books (in theory, I haven’t read it in a while. It has a lot of stuff I like [cannibalism, made up beasts, shipwrecks, and Newfoundland dogs]): The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. I want to read about the shipwreck and subsequent suicide & cannibalism but instead I get this nonsense.

One bright spot in this boring collection of vignettes masquerading as a novel was the use of the word Endor, which got my attention… for about 5 seconds before I realized that there would be no forest moon and no Ewoks. Endor is mentioned in the context of some sort of witch or ghost, which just reminded me of the two Ewok spin-off movies that were featured on We Hate Movies episodes 24 & 33 (both are gold). Listen to them both especially the second one because there are a lot of Wilford Brimley impressions.

There used to be a feature on the podcast Doug Loves Movies called “Watch this, not that,” so listen to We Hate Movies or read The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, not Anne of Windy Poplars.

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Movie the First Special Features

I did check out the DVD that I had requested. To my surprise and joy, it had special features. I love special features in a way that I cannot completely explain. I’m still angry that I only have the 4 dics extended edition box sets of the first two LOTR movies and only the boring 2 disc edition of the third movie.

I’ve listened to the commentaries on all of the original Star Wars movies even though it’s almost exclusively commentary by the sound guy (who I hate). The lack of gag/blooper reel on this particular double-sided DVD irks me.

The disc started with previews of all the other Anne movies including an animated edition which features a talking pet squirrel. Ew. I can’t find clips from that but I found this from the animated TV series. It’s probably the same.

Sorry I’m not sorry. I will never watch that. It also shows a commercial for the third movie in the series which features Anne chasing Gilbert across WWI Europe. I don’t know what to do with that information except anticipate watching it.

And Texts from Avonlea makes its triumphant return!

And Texts from Avonlea makes its triumphant return!

The deleted scenes were really more like extended scenes that add nothing to the plot. It’s just Anne fangiriling over the minister’s wife, who is a delight in the books and in the movie barely appears at all. It’s really just the minister’s wife and Anne’s neighbor. There are also “missing” scenes. I’m not sure what the distinction is although some of the “missing” scenes have no sound so maybe that’s what that refers to. Humorously, one has the sound of an airplane flying overhead. They do feature Matthew, my fave, and the haunted woods, another fave because who hasn’t randomly creeped them-self out for no reason. In another scene, Gilbert and Anne are flirting with each other which is pretty good fan service I guess.

There’s a camera test for Megan Follows, who plays Anne. She’s an alright child actor. I’m really not sure why it’s on the DVD. It contributes nothing. Actually I’d say that of all the special features. They’re no Alias bloopers. Those are amazing.All five season of bloopers are gold (I think this says something coming from someone who hates pretty much everything).

There’s also a 2 minute CBC making of/ behind the scenes thing which is fine. I drew the line at watching the whole thing with the director’s commentary.

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The 1985 Film Adaptation

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Look at that facial hair. Look at it & despair!

I’ve taken several days off from L. M. M. because I was on the brink of insanity and needed a break. During that time, I did find the first Kevin Sullivan made-for-TV-movie online in 15 minute segments. Coincidentally, as I started watching the 12th of 14 segments, I got an email from the library that the DVD version I requested has come in.

I’m writing this in one tab & watching the movie in another. It starts with Anne-girl walking through the woods and reading out loud to herself. I’ve always been amazed by people who can walk and read. As I’ve said before, I lack the body awareness (a term I’ve gleaned from having to watch Nick Jr. when I babysit) to do even simple tasks. This is all pre-Cuthberts, pre-orphanage so she’s surrounded by children and this shitty caregiver. Not like edge of insanity shitty like Ms. Hannigan (Carol Burnett, who I love) but like a petty tyrant. We also see her mirror-friend which is like an imaginary friend who lives in a mirror and another one that lives in a window. Ugh. Obviously it’s all very sad. Like Charlotte Bronte on the Dead Author’s podcast (which is amaze. I love Jessica St. Clair [also her Twitter picture is this Anne Shirley. Coincidence?]).

Well in body but considerably ruffled in spirit.

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That is dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.

I like that the movie, despite being a movie,  maintains that Anne spells her name with an “e.” It reminds me of my great-grandmother, Sara who was emphatic that her name had not “h.” My family and I joke that it’s because the “h” stands for “ho.”

In movies, hangovers and bad hair dye do the same thing to your hair.

In movies, hangovers and bad hair dye do the same thing to your hair.

Anyway, the movie is surprisingly true to the book but with a tons of spirit gum, smock-like dresses, and high collars. It is decidedly lacking in story-telling club and cooking mishaps. The directors also saw fit to add semaphore, which I love, and a student-teacher romance, which I found deeply upsetting. Frankly, it would be faster to translate it four times each way like that time on West Wing. It also has Gilbert Blythe exhibiting some Hider in the House behavior by watching Anne & Diana hang out and do bosom friend stuff (god that sounds dirty).

Farewell my beloved friend. Henceforth we shall be strangers living side by side.

And that’s why I think the new schoolteacher assumes Anne & Diana are in love when they’re banned from being friends. There could easily be a queer interpretation of their relationship in this movie.

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Notice his facial hair goes unremarked upon. Matthew is the best.

I spent a fair amount of this moving trying on the various winter hats in my apartment so that’s what’s up. My dad calls one my “people hunting hat,” like in Catcher in the Rye. Actually, it kind of looks like Matthew’s when I fold up all the flaps. Another had several pom-poms and earflaps. Hats that I’ve had for years are more interesting than this movie.

There’ll be plenty of balls when you get older.

Look at the puffs. Never stop looking at the puffs. All shall love me and despair!

Look at the puffs. Never stop looking at the puffs. All shall love me and despair!

On a related note- Marilla does not “approve of balls.” On another note- I refuse to put anything related to balls in context.

If you were to watch one 15 minute block of the movie, I’d highly recommend this one which features some superb melodramatic teen acting, if only for Ruby Gillis’s part which is hilar. Sadly, no one actually dies. Otherwise, I’d say the movie is above average for made-for-TV. It’s a pretty true adaptation and the acting is better than I anticipated although it’s not exactly Masterpiece Theater/ Classic.

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Book the Fifth

So I’m totally confused by the ebook I bought. I thought it was the whole Anne Shirley series but it is not. I have to skip books the fourth and sixth until I get library copies (they’re not even on Google books because the later books aren’t public domain yet. So annoying). I refuse to put in the effort to find another version of them. I am looking for the movies online so I might give myself a break before Rainbow Valley to watch one of them. Hopefully the one with Dave Foley of TV’s Newsradio which was such a good show and is on Hulu. I recommend Super Karate Monkey Death Car because I have fancy pants & plans to match.

My main problems with Anne’s House of Dreams are that nothing happens and there are only really 5 characters. In all the other books, there are background characters with their own goings-on and things happen. I only know that this book takes place over two years because it mentions two New Years celebrations.

The Red-Headed Snippet Hulks Out: Volumes I-XII

The Red-Headed Snippet Hulks Out: Volumes I-XII

It’s ironic that one character laments a book taking like a hundred chapters just to get to the characters getting married since this one takes like forty chapters for nothing to happen. I’m sorry. I’m just full of rage about this book. I’m mad at L. M. M. for writing it and myself for reading it. Is there a word for having general rage at the universe? I’m comforting myself with A) Texts from Avonlea B) tom yum soup & C) the knowledge that the super is having a new stove delivered today! Last night I ate soup until my lips turned purple.

L. M. Montgomery, forever unclean!

L. M. Montgomery, forever unclean!

There are some inadvertently funny parts of this book, which I highlighted for future reference. Bear in mind that I recently watched all of The League so my mind is a gutter:

  • “Wasn’t that like a man? I told him I wasn’t in the habit of fertilising (sic) my back yard with cream.”
  • When their work was done and Gilbert was out of the way, they gave themselves over to shameless orgies of love-making and ecstasies of adoration, such as that in which Owen Ford had surprised them.

These were the only bright spots in this whole stupid book. Anne & Gilbert become parents so there’s a lot of that and I don’t care for children until they’re old enough to carry on a conversation so it’s super boring.

Both this book and Anne of the Island provide perspective into late 19th/ early 20th century life. There’s a trepanation subplot which is cool since I learned all about it from Sawbones a podcast about medical history, which everyone should listen to. I’m going to go listen to it because the stove was supposed to be here hours ago and now I’m furious about that too.

Percent of ebook completed: 51%, thank god.

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Books the Second and Third

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Thanks, Aileen!

I’ve made a lot of progress with these books despite my holiday break, especially since I spent a lot of time trying to avoid being hit in the face by my tot cousins. Christmas was super fun & I got great presents (not a football helmet though, which would have been handy), especially the fancy knives I’ve been asking for, my rubberband bracelet loom and an awesome ASoIaF/ GoT t-shirt just like Anna Kendrick has. We also might be getting an exciting new stove in my apartment because ours is kind of a death trap.

As the titles (Anne of Avonlea and Anne of the Island) indicate, we’re getting a view of Anne Shirley in the larger world, doing her manic-pixie-dreamgirl thing where everyone is so enchanted by her and she’s so good at everything. To quote my favorite teen black comedy “fuck me gently with a chainsaw.”

I shall just be myself. I shall not TRY to make a good impression.

People in these books are constantly quoting poetry and books and the Bible off the top of their heads. I’ve read a lot but I’ve never willingly memorized something because it sounded nice, then recalled it at a moment’s notice. Sure, I do that with movies, TV and real life but that’s not the same. I don’t know anyone who does that. It can’t be that we’re stupid, I think we’ve collectively realized how dick-ish stuff like that is. Like obviously I can do it with Heathers because it’s endlessly quotable. God, now I want to watch Heathers while I read Anne’s House of Dreams. Seriously, why aren’t you watching Heathers right now? It’s on Netflix Instant. Why aren’t we all always watching Heathers? Also, my aforementioned knives are for cooking. It’s not a Heathers thing. God, why am I even typing this? Why is that where my head goes? I’ll stop now, I promise. In case you haven’t realized, this is going to be a long post.

Never write a line you would be ashamed to read at your own funeral.

I do love all the letter writing, not so much as a device but as an idea. Like at one point Anne gets a packet of letters written by her parents and no one has that any more. I haven’t written a letter in years but I like the way it sounds to have like a running correspondence with someone. I just don’t have the handwriting for it. I guess the closest contemporary parallel is vlogbrothers.

I keep imagining dudes back then alone in their houses like Mokiki. Just like rambling around and spewing venom.

I keep imagining dudes back then alone in their houses like Mokiki. Just like rambling around and spewing venom.

So there’s this weird thing that starts happening in Anne of the Island where dudes just propose to random female acquaintances. The thought process is like “you’re pretty & capable of doing basic life stuff (cooking, cleaning, laundry) and we don’t hate each other so let’s get married & see what happens.” Originally I had an exclamation point here but that’s too much enthusiasm for what L. M. M. writes. I’m pretty sure I stopped reading around that point or when Ruby Gillis died of consumption. That’s right, childhood pal of our Anne-girl died of tuberculosis. Like in Moulin Rouge, which is apparently my only reference for that disease. That was either too real or too confusing for my 7 year old brain.

That book starts with this epigraph “to all the girls all over the world who have “wanted more” about Anne,” which explains why it was written 6 years after Anne of Avonlea. Was our girl L. M. M. like a world traveller? Was she creepily corresponding with little girls?

RIP Younglove (see what I did there?). Actual grave at Oakwood Cemetery.

RIP Younglove (see what I did there?).
Actual grave at Oakwood Cemetery.

I imagine all these little girls madly shipping Anne & Gilbert, even though that phrase didn’t exist back then. Like obviously they have to get together but when you’re a kid, you don’t know how stories work, so maybe they won’t. I’ll admit that as a kid, when Anne refused Gilbert’s first proposal, I was so sad. That also could be when I stopped reading.

Percentage of series completed: 41%*

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Unfortunately, the ebook I have is missing a book (such a tragedy) so I unknowingly skipped Anne of Windy Poplars and am now waiting for a library copy to arrive since it’s not on Google books.

*figure doesn’t include movies or Anne of Windy Poplars.

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Book the First aka Anne of Green Gables

Disclaimer: I’m not summarizing or really reviewing the books.

Barry's Pond?

Barry’s Pond?

I read a lot of young adult books and assumed that this children’s book would be a quick read but it’s 429 pages. I mean it’s still a quick read since it’s not like complex or deep but that’s a long book for a kid.

I remember as a kid that this book took a long time to read. Not as long as Treasure Island, which I remember spending a year (a year! I was a smart kid. How did that take a year?) reading, but a long time.

Two things stood out to me reading this book:

  1. Use of the word “ejaculate,” instead of “interject,” or similar words that aren’t as icky to 21st century readers. To paraphrase Fat Amy in Pitch Perfect, “not a good enough reason to use the word ‘ejaculate.’”
  2. Weird ethnic and racial insults/ stereotypes. For example, Marilla adopts a child from Nova Scotia because she doesn’t want a “London street Arab,” whatever that means.
    Are sketchy pizza guys a real Italian stereotype?

    Are sketchy pizza guys a real Italian stereotype?

    She also doesn’t want Italian peddlers in the house. She specifies Italians. Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace is set at a similar time in Canada & the peddler in that is named Jeremiah so it’s not like all peddlers were Italian. It’s not like all peddlers in Canada are Italian. She’s right about peddlers generally since one sells Anne hair dye that turns her red hair green instead of black which is not ideal. It’s about a hundred years too early for that to be cool.
    There are weird almost anti-American sentiments where they are suspicious of like the American tourists.
    The phrase sitting “Turk-fashion,” is used in place of cross-legged which isn’t so surprising since I remember it being called “Indian-style,” when I was a kid.
    I think L. M. Montgomery might be an eentsy-bit racist. It’s probably a cultural thing. Like none of these characters know anything about the outside world. It’s not like late 1800s Prince Edward Island is portrayed as diverse or a hotbed of progressive thought.

I solemnly swear to be faithful to my bosom friend, Diana Barry, as long as the sun and moon shall endure.

For those of you who haven’t read the books, Anne and Diana have, I believe, one of the greatest friendships ever. They’re really more like soulmates than best friends. I’m very excited to see how this friendship develops through the series.

When twilight drops her curtain down
And pins it with a star
Remember that you have a friend
Though she may wander far.

White Way of Delight

White Way of Delight

The book ends with Anne becoming the teacher at her childhood school after one year of not-quite-college training. She gives up her college scholarship because her adopted father-figure dies so she stays with her adopted mother-figure to run the family farm.

It reminds me of the Little House books where you become the teacher once you’re the tallest girl who hasn’t left to A) run the family farm following a tragedy, B) moved further into the wild, or C) gotten married. At least Anne had some professional training.

In the long-term, it’s worth noting that, at a fair, Anne’s fortune is chosen by a bird (that’s a thing we’ve all had done, right? Birds are known far & wide [and not just in ASoIaF] for their soothsaying abilities). It states that she will marry “a dark-complected man who was wealthy, and [she] would go across water to live.” Diana, Anne’s bosom friend, also receives a fortune but it’s nature is not disclosed.

Percentage of series completed: 15%

Hopefully I’ll finish Anne of Avonlea by this weekend.

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Anne of Green Gables

I went through a prolonged Anne of Green Gables phase as a kid.

It was like this but green and the necklace may have been a locket.

It was like this but green and the necklace may have been a locket.

The movie was going to be on TV & somehow my mom talked me into reading the book first. It was actually a pretty cool book (mostly because my edition came with a necklace. Not because other 7 year olds thought the 90 year old book about a weird redhead was cool). I read the first two and most of the second, never saw the movie, & forgot that the movie existed. Smooth move, Mom. You won that one.

I pretty much forgot about the series until I listened to Janet Varney interviewing June Diane Rafael for her podcast. I couldn’t find the movie online and all hope was lost until I discovered the Texts from Avonlea tumblr and specifically the fan trailer for Rilla of Ingleside which won’t embed properly so I’m trusting you to watch it. Or don’t. It’s not that important.

I want to read that book. I’ve been in a period-piece drought since I gave up on Downton Abbey. Unfortunately, I am a completionist so I can’t skip the first 7 books and just read that. My brain won’t allow it so I’m embarking on a new project to reread the whole Lucy Maud Montgomery-Anne Shirley series and blogging about it because I’m sure parts of it will be hilarious (especially the made-for-TV-movies, the unpleasant bird in Anne of Avonlea, and drunk child Diana Barry). The entire series are available $0.99 as a collection for Kindle and I’ll watch whatever movies/ TV shows I can find, so prepare for my descent into Canadian madness.

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This will most likely turn out to have been a mistake.
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