Posts Tagged ‘TV’

We normally do not write about movies here, but I had to share this documentary because it is brilliant! Prohibition: A film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.

Prohibition Doc by Burns and NovickIn all fairness, I do have a soft spot for the 1910s-1920s. (I think I would have made an excellent spunky suffragette.) However, if you’re interested in American history, or just a well-made documentary, you should probably check this one out. I learned a lot about the era, and I really enjoyed all of the actual footage used.

Interesting tidbits among many that can be learned from the documentary:

After 1830, the average American over 15 years old drank almost seven gallons of pure alcohol a year! That comes to about three times as much as we drink today. Frankly, I don’t know how they functioned properly. If I drank three times the amount I drink now, I’d be completely useless.

The figures in terms of the economic consequences of Prohibition are staggering! In the state of New York, prior to Prohibition, nearly 75% of the state’s tax revenue came from taxes on liquor. Nationally, Prohibition cost the U.S. $11 billion in lost tax revenue. On top of which, it cost America another $300 million to enforce a practically unenforceable law.

I knew women played a large role in the Dry movement. With rampant alcohol abuse and the fact that spousal rape and abuse were not illegal, who can blame them? The Women’s Christian Temperance Union was quite a force. It’s still around, too. It is the oldest non-sectarian woman’s organization if the world. It also played a large role in women’s suffrage. What I did not know was there was another large, powerful woman’s group which was behind Repeal. The Woman’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform was founded by heiress and the first woman to serve on the Republican National Committee, Pauline Sabin.

Also, my new favorite historical figure is Lois Long the indelible flapper and writer for the New Yorker.


Watch Women in PROHIBITION Lois Long on PBS. See more from Ken Burns.

All of the facts (except maybe the bit about the WCTU which is on their website) can be found on the documentary or on the doc’s website: http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/prohibition/  You can basically watch all of it online, if that suits better.
A big thanks to PBS for funding such stellar productions.
Another big thanks to my pal, Brandon, for giving me the documentary as a Christmas present. I love it!

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While I have no romantic valentine, I did get 10 valentines. I feel so loved! Okay, so 6 of them were from 6 year olds at work (I work at a school), but I still feel pretty great! In honor of this lovely holiday, and so we can celebrate together on this Hallmark Holiday, since I plan on watching season 1 on DVD, I give you:

Downton Abbey Valentines!

http://thewunderblog.com/post/17600153514   has some great cards too, but I couldn’t hyperlink the pictures. Check them out though!

The following are from http://chad-thomas.com/

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Downton Abbey, A Love Affair

The title has two meanings. It can stand for either my love affair with Downton Abbey or the number of love affairs in the show. The acting, the story, the costumes, the set–everything about this show is superb. It even brought my dad, the man who thinks the British (and Scottish, Welsh and Irish) should come with subtitles, to the couch every Sunday. He now calls our old, half-blind dog the dowager. It’s actually a very good description. She’ll sit haughtily on her cushion as you call her name over and over and over again, and Lily just looks at you, like “I am far more superior to you, I will come when I want to.”

In honor of tonight’s episode, here are some of my favorite quotes from episode one.

The Dowager Countess finds out that Matthew and Mary are coming home on the same day unbeknownst to either party. When she finds out Mary is driving, she says, “Good. I hate Greek drama, where everything happens off stage.”

The Dowager Countess and the Countess discussing Lavinia, Matthew’s new fiance, after Lavinia’s introduction to the family at a large party:

“I’m afraid meeting us all together must be very intimidating” Countess

“I do hope so.” Dowager Countess

Hughes found out some very juicy, and troubling bit of gossip about Bates when she listened through the grate. She’s not normally a snoopy person, but Bates’s guest made her suspicious. When she talks to the butler, Carson, about this, he says “Now if I were a gentleman, I wouldn’t want to know.” “But you’re not,” Hughes replies. “Fortunately,” responds Carson.

Edith does her part for the war effort by driving the tractor for a local farmer who lost his help and cannot drive. The Dowager Countess does not approve. “Edith! You are a lady. Not Toad of Toad Hall.” (this one just might be my favorite for its reference to one of my most favorite books, The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.

As you can tell, I just love the Dowager. Dame Maggie Smith, you can do no wrong.

love that hat.

I always wanted Professor McGonagall to be my grandmother. Or in my life somehow.

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When Sapphire, Cornflower and myself started this blog we decided our focus would be boys, books and bygone times. For the most part I think we’ve stayed within our prescribed limits. However, today, I am going to break one. As a group we decided “bygone times,” for purposes of this blog would consist of books, events, pop-culture etc from pre-1960. The reason being, we were born in the 1980s, and really, the 1960s etc are not all that far away from our lifetimes, and by extent, today. Therefore, that can’t be considered bygone times? Can it? While I mostly think we made a good choice, I’ve recently questioned our reasoning. While cataloging books in the library of my new job, I was thinking, oh, “1992, that’s not that old. We’ll keep it.” Then it hit me. The years between today and 1992 is almost a whole person who can drink*. This revelation was only furthered when flipping through channels this evening I caught the last half of Grease. Then Footloose** (the original, with Kevin Bacon). And in all honesty these two movies seem to take place lifetimes ago.

Another hint at Grease's raunchiness-- John Travolta snuck in a saran wrap rub of his genitals it was a nod towards condoms and the original broadway musical. Yes, I love dvd extras and commentaries.

Perhaps it’s because they are movie musicals. Or maybe because there is a certain amount of innocence to them. Certainly, Grease is a little dirty. To the point that my mom turned the TV off during “Summer Lovin’” when I was 6-ish when we rented it because she forgot how mature it actually is and my violin teacher marked out sections of lyrics that came along with the sheet music. Even with all these clues to Grease’s overt raunchiness it didn’t hit me until I saw the movie on the big screen with Cornflower, with singalong lyrics. Wow. Yet, I still think of Grease as a good family film. Perhaps it’s the catchy tunes. Or maybe it’s because there is no nudity or steamy scenes (besides Rizzo and Kenickie necking in the backseat of the car, but really, that’s just funny). I think the biggest factor, however, are the lady’s costumes. Sure, part of that can be accounted for the story’s time period, but Cha-Cha sure looks like a skank, and I think the female characters wholesome appearance makes me think of the movie in a more positive light.

Even Dirty Dancing with its sex scene*** seems more innocent than so many of the teen movies that are out today. It makes me sad that the newer generations of teens don’t have movies like Grease, Footloose, any of the Brat Pack movies (The Breakfast Club is my favorite), or even the mid 90s movies like 10 Things I Hate ABout You**** and She’s All That. It makes me sad that the up and coming generations of teens only have movies like Superbad to look forward to.

Maybe I’m a crotchety old lady who always thinks that the new generation is going to hell, but I do fear for our young minds.Think about it, the little kids today are more over sexed than I was by the time I was in middle school. My 5-year-old second cousin is already informing me that she loves Justin Beiber and he’s so cute. I can’t help but wonder how she’ll act as a middle and high schooler. And that, my friends is a scary thought. Interestingly, I don’t think of the original Footloose as being bad, but I do think that the remake is overly sexualized. Maybe it has to do with today’s accepted form of dancing? I honestly don’t know.

If you take away my obvious inclination for movie musicals (Grease, Footloose, Dirty Dancing (and Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights), 10 Things I Hate ABout You, etc) I think the only movies in recent years, that I’ve seen, that encapsulates the smart humor and real feelings of teens, is Nick and Norah’s Infinite Play List and Charlie Bartlett. Coincidentally, Kat Dennings, star of the sex humor dependent show, 2 Broke Girls, stars in both films. Hmmm.

What are your favorite teen films? I am I being overly critical here and only taking years of popularity as proof as acceptability? 

* Friends reference, anyone?

** Oh, SJP you were so much cuter before you got super, scary, skinny (see Sex and the City 2)

*** When Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights came out I distinctly remember a friend of mine saying, “They better have sex. They did in the first movie.”

**** RIP Heath Ledger. I also remember my 8th grade civics teacher getting mad at the girls who continually tore out pictures of him from his People, Newsweek, and newspaper subscriptions that he had for “current events” work…

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Let’s Get Literary, Literary

In honor of there being snow in 49 of the 50 states (check it out here!) we have a fun post for you.  Sadly, it’s not about snow, but please send us any snow related ideas you may have.

I love Glee (almost as much as I love snow).  Watching Olivia Newton John and Sue Sylvester’s new music video for “Let’s Get Physical” is priceless.  I know it’s not for everyone—one friend of mine said, “I don’t understand the appeal.  It’s a teeny-bopper drama and then they break out into song and dance.”  Clearly, he doesn’t understand, because that is the appeal.

While watching my DVDs of season one this weekend I started thinking to myself, Finn is the modern day Mr. Bingley.  Obviously, I then had to figure out all the other male characters* and their literary counterpoints.  And this is what I came up with.  Feel free to disagree with me as some were quite difficult.

Finn: Mr. Bingley from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

Finn is an all around nice guy.  For the most part.  Like Mr. Bingley, Finn seems to have it all–he’s popular, attractive, quarterback of the football team, and dating the head cheerleader.  He can even sing!  Finn also sees the good in Rachel, protects Artie from his thugish football cronies, and coaches Kurt.  Yet, like Mr. Bingley, who initially looks past Jane Bennet’s eccentric family, he is easily swayed by what others think, and is persuaded to do whatever keeps him popular.  But in the end, Finn always rights his wrongs.  It’s his honesty which makes him so endearing.


Artie: Gilbert Blythe from L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables

Artie is one of the most unselfish characters on the show. When the club raises money to rent a wheelchair accessible Artie asks to install ramps in the auditorium, even though this means he’ll ride to competitions alone and miss out on the team bonding.  Like Gilbert, Artie is always thinking of others; in this case, present and future handicapped students.

His boyish charm doesn’t hurt either…



Kurt: Turnip Fitzhugh from Lauren Willig’s The Secret History of the Pink Carnation series (more specifically, The Mischief of the Mistletoe)

Ah, Kurt.  I love Kurt.  I also love Turnip (okay, his name isn’t Turnip, it’s actually Reginald, but everyone calls him Turnip).  Both are unafraid to be exactly who they are, even though both get teased mercilessly. Since both refuse to bend to social norms, both are quick to spot others who are hurt, mocked or otherwise disenfranchised.  Turnip befriends and eventually falls in love with a teacher, someone far below him in social status.  Besides being a teacher, Arabella’s family has recently weathered scandal and to top it all off, she isn’t considered pretty.  Despite all this, Turnip is able to see all of Arabella’s virtues.  Similarly, Kurt befriends Tina and Mercedes–minorities in the Ohio high school–and he is willing to put aside his own dreams and feelings for the sake of his father.  Kurt isn’t perfect.  But he’s a teenager and everything is confusing at that point in your life.

Mr. Schuester: Erik/the Phantom from Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera

This one might be a bit of a stretch, but hear me out.  Both Mr. Schue and The Phantom love a woman who is torn between to men.  Both are musically talented and both make extreme measures to prove themselves or be with the woman they love.  Mr. Schue willfully puts his students in situations above their comfort level when he produces The Rocky Horror Picture Show just so he can bond with Ms. Pillsbury.  Later he cuts out Sam and takes over his part, so he can prove to Ms. P just how sexy he is.  No, Mr. Schue didn’t kill Sam, like The Phantom does in his production of Don Juan Triumphant, but the concept is the same.  Both men act rashly and hurtfully to put themselves ahead and into situations with their lover.


I couldn’t for the life of me figure out a historical fiction character for Puck.  My very first thought was Gale from Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games and once I thought of that, no other literary character I could think of was quite right.  The closest I got was Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind, but it didn’t feel perfect enough.

Like Gale, Puck is a badass with a hidden heart.  Puck and Gale are willing to do whatever it takes to help their loved ones (in Puck’s case, Quinn and the baby, and Katniss  in Gale’s).  Their methods may be controversial, but they do what they think is right.  While neither have hearts of gold, they are nicer than they tend to let on.  But most importantly, they are both incredibly attractive.

What do you think?  Am I totally wrong about any of them?  All of them?  Who is your favorite Glee boy?

* I didn’t include Sam because I don’t think we know enough about him.  Same goes for Mike Chang.

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