Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Secret Austen

Let's admit it: Jane Austen has permeated our culture in a way that no other author has.  Okay, so we have Dickens's A Christmas Carol floating around every Christmas.  And Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre is a big favorite.  And Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights has a fanbase (though I can never figure out why--why?!).  But, love her or hate her (I, for one, simply adore her), Jane Austen can--and will--slink onto your bookshelf, your TV screen, your local movie theatre somehow, even though she's long, long gone.  So what that she was born 236 (and six days) ago?  She's still totally modern!  And she somehow keeps popping up in twentieth and twenty-first century pop culture (without containing the words "pride", "prejudice", "sense", "sensibility", "mansfield", "northanger", "emma", or "persuasion").  If you're a Janeite itching for something that doesn't involve empire-waist dresses and with fewer cravats, this Janeite recommends you check out some updated, but heavily Austen influenced, books and movies:

1. You've Got Mail (1996 film): Written by Nora and Delia Ephron (the former of whom is going to turn Lost in Austen into a film--woohoo!  And the former is a YA author, so basically they both win awesome points by me), this has got to be one of my favorite movies ever.  Okay, so, on the surface, this film about really, really old technology and AOL chatting in its most primitive days really doesn't seem like the most Austen-influence thing ever.  The heavy influences and allusions to Pride and Prejudice are simply staggering.  Basically, replace GBP with bookstores and throw in an ancient Internet system, put Meg Ryan in Elizabeth Bennet's place and Tom Hanks in Mr Darcy's, and thus results You've Got Mail.  (Also: watching Hanks chuck a copy of a Firth/Ehle edition of P&P across a table in favor of some booze is just freaking hilarious.)

2. The Lake House (2006 film): Time-travel and a funky boxy-ish--no, this is not Doctor Who.  Calm down, Whovians.  I'm talking about the last time Reeves/Bullock worked together on a movie, and it wasn't on Speed.  Okay, so I'm including this on the list because, uh, a really old copy of Persuasion is almost waved across the screen to tell the audience, "THIS IS ONE OF OUR INFLUENCES AND AUSTEN IS AMAZING."  In this very underrated flick, Keanu Reeves is more or less the Wentworth counterpart (and instead of one amazing letter at the end, it's a series of a lot of shorter ones) and Sandra Bullock is, I suppose, Anne Elliot.  As if the writer of this movie couldn't scream Austen enough, they even had Bullock read out of Persuasion: "There could have been no two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feelings so in unison, no countenances so beloved." Heart!

3. I Capture the Castle (1948 novel, 2003 film): If you thought Dodie Smith was always preoccupied with spotty dalmatians, you're wrong--in fact, she's quite the Janeite!  I Capture the Castle is simply speckled with Austen references--at the very start of the novel, one character asks the protagonist about living in an Austen or a Bronte novel kind of life: "Which would be nicest--Jane with a touch of Charlotte, or Charlotte with a touch of Jane?"  (If you're not squeeing already, read the book and I dare you not to squee during the whole of it.)  Frankly, I haven't seen the film and can't be much of a judge whether it is accurate or even any good at all (though it seems to have low reviews--however, Romola Garai stars in it!  Of course, that merit doesn't necessarily make it any good--Angel was a disaster and had her as the star...but that's another rant-y tangent).

 4. Harry Potter: Did you know that along with C.S. Lewis, Jane Austen is J.K. Rowling's favorite author?  In fact, she once spoke of her favorite Austen novel, Emma, that "I have never set up a surprise ending in a Harry Potter book without knowing I can never, and will never, do it anywhere near as well as Austen did in Emma."  And Argus Filch's beloved cat, Mrs. Norris, is named after none other than Mansfield Park's annoying aunt, Mrs. Norris.

5. Rudyard Kipling: Okay, okay--so I cheated here.  Rudyard Kipling is not a book or a movie, but a person--aka "the dude who wrote The Jungle Book".  So Baloo dancing to and singing "Bare Necessities" frankly has nothing to do with Marianne Dashwood weeping "Willoughby, Willoughby!" whilst longingly watching Combe Magna, but the creator of the former character was a huge fan of the creator of the latter character.  When I say huge, I mean huge--to the extent that the guy is the one who popularized the term "Janeites", the word Austen-maniacs (like yours truly) call themselves, through a story about a bunch of veterans (dudes, obviously) who are really big Austen fans (to be honest, I haven't read it...yet; and apparently another famous Austen fan, C.S. Lewis, actually blasted the story--but that's another tangent I won't get into) and even wrote a lovely--and perhaps even tear-inducing--poem entitled "Jane's Marriage" (yes, that Jane).  I could really write a whole 'nother post about Austen's other big author fans, but Kipling is probably the most prominent (as in most influential) of them all.

Sneaky Miss Austen!  She just turns up everywhere in culture--where else have you folks seen her (that is, in places not directly related to her works)?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Top 10 Things Hollywood Gets Wrong About High School

For a while now it has bugged me how Hollywood has portrayed high schools. Sure it's a movie and we all know it's not real--even the ones based on a true story--but most of the high school movies have moved on to the point of being absolutely absurd. So to satisfy my practical side, I've come up with a list of 10 things Hollywood just doesn't get right about high school.

1. There is no clear distiction between the "cool kids" and the "nerds". Just like every person is multifaceted with several interests, so are the "subsects" of high school social classes. Just because one person is in the marching band doesn't mean that they can't also be an awesome soccer player or the school mascot is a complete loser. Our school mascot was also on the track team, was well liked, could do or build anything, and now, five years later, works for NASA.
Although I don't think the all white plus white lipstick helps.

2. Not all high schoolers--even the most popular--drive cars that cost loads of money or drive at all. Fact is parents having money is not equal to popularity AND just because they have money doesn't mean that they're willing to spend a great amount on an inexperienced driver. In these economic times I don't think many parents can afford cars for themselves let alone teenagers. Back when times were a little easier there were still a plethora of licensed drivers taking the bus. Not only is it cheaper (considering cost of car, insurance, tags, and gas), but it's more ecofriendly.

3. Dress code. There is no way students would be allowed to wear hardly anything you see them wear in movies or on TV. Most schools' dress code is as follows: no hats, no baggy pants, no revealing of underwear, skirt can be no shorter than a few inches above the knee, all tank tops must have straps several inches wide, no tight-fitting clothing and forget about wearing anything revealing--you'll be sent home. Even school dances have dress codes and again, they will send you home!

Yes, all three of you need to go home and change right now.
4. Lack of backpacks/bags. Particularly with the female students the lack of having some sort of bag to carry all the essentials (other than some small purse that would barely hold today's large-screen-but-really-small cell phones) is like they're showing a school worthy of the "Twilight Zone". Your locker--which I will get to later--is probably located in some absurd location that you never have time to visit. The few minutes you have to get to your next class is not enough time to make it to your locker located 5 miles away. Thus, you need a bag to hold your various sets of books and notebooks--and then probably a bigger bag just to haul all of your homework home.

5. Kids/teens are not so self-absorbed in current culture that they have no sense history. Usually this is used as a comedic reference as to the cultural differences between the misunderstood teen and the dorky adult. Hollywood seems to think that if it's not part of the current fad, then the youth is unaware of it. Heads up, Hollywood, I have a friend who is 17 and is the biggest fan of Frank Sinatra as well as the rest of the Rat Pack. A few teens I know are crazy about math and are learning its history! Also, I know a rather petulant person who is completely obsessed with ancient civilizations. People aren't oblivious up until the day of graduation and then suddenly realize they want to be botanists.

Sorry, Seventeen magazine says I don't care about that.

6. PDA. Very much like the dress code, the blatant Public Displays of Affection follow a strict set of rules. In the movies you see the typical couple being completely inappropriate on the protagonist's locker. No school would ever allow for this to happen--particularly repeat offenses. Teachers do monitor the halls in between classes and several schools have surveillance cameras set up throughout the building. Usually the most couples can do is hug...not quite the same as what you've seen in theaters is it?

7. High schoolers do not look like they are in their mid-20s. This is probably one of my biggest pet peeves on the list. You don't go from middle school/junior high looking like your family's favorite pet name for you is "munchkin" to being one of those models from Abercrombie and Fitch. It just doesn't work like that. At this time in our lives we're working on growing into ourselves. That means crooked teeth, awkward hair decisions, squeaking voices, and yes, ZITS! Not even the girls that I was completely envious of got to escape the dreaded pimple.

Only 3 of us actually were teens when this movie was released.

8. Pristine schools which include ample locker space. Come on, Hollywood! This is a public building...filled with teenagers...rushing in a herd of other teenagers to get to their respective classes...for years on end. Things will get scuffed. Paint gets chipped. Lockers? Scratched and dented. Also, since I mentioned lockers, you would be hard pressed to find a school that has lockers that can fit a nerdy student. Lockers usually don't extend all the way to the ground--what a waste of space! You might be lucky to get a top locker or you may have to squeeze in between the legs of other students to get to your bottom locker. My last year of  high school had Freshmen and Sophomores sharing lockers due to how crowded we were.

9. Everyone knows a choreographed dance and performs it during the big school dance. Are you kidding me? People couldn't even get coordinated enough to stand up at the same time to cheer on their team. (Invention of the Wave anyone?) Also, people actually exist outside of school. Once the last bell rings, people are going to practice, study groups, home, work, or another million possibilities. Sure you could say that there could be a dance (during the dance) committee to teach everyone how to do a specified dance, but it would be extremely hard to get the entire school to show. Unless it's something like the Hokey Pokey, the Macarena, or the Funky Chicken (which no one wants to bring out at a formal) there isn't going to be a super cool dance everyone knows done at a predetermined time.

Even while doing the "cool" dance they still look goofy.

10. The anti-freshman mentality. The main worry of mine transitioning from middle school to high school was the fact that there was going to be an ENTIRE year before me of relentless torture. All the TV shows and movies I saw showed that the whole student body thought Freshmen were the scum of humanity. You should just lay low and pray for Sophomore year to come swiftly. Guess what? Not. True. The other students couldn't care less that I was a Freshman. In fact, on my first day, when I had a hard time finding my classes, several pointed me in the right direction. As long as your ambition isn't to thoroughly annoy the upperclassmen, then most will pay you no mind or take you under their wing.

There you have it! Is your mind blown? Did you nod in agreement at least once? Are there any that you think are obvious, but I've missed?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Addiction of the Week 1.1: Wakey!Wakey!

This is a new feature that is a part of the new NftN.  Every week, a contributor will feature one thing that they're currently obsessed with--whether it be an artist, a certain dish, a TV show, whatever!

As I usually do, I was flipping through Pandora (my Internet radio app) and was recommended a spectacular little gem by an indie artist I'd never heard of: Wakey!Wakey!  (The name is obviously completely awesome.)  I haven't looked too much into the artist yet, but I believe it's a band that occasionally gets help from other musicians but relies mostly on one guy, Michael Grubbs, who sings, writes, and plays the piano--basically, it's almost a one-man band.

Pandora had recommended me "Square Peg Round Hole"--take a listen and see if you're hooked.
(To be honest, I have no idea where the cover art is from, but it's not from Wakey!Wakey!  I chose this video because it has the best quality of sound, and that's what matters, right?)

If this song doesn't give you the earworm, check out "Almost Everything" and "Take It Like a Man" (the latter just confirms that this guy is the closest you'll get to a male Regina Spektor--amazing!)

What other Wakey!Wakey! songs do you guys recommend?  Anything you're addicted to this week?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

An Announcement: Reinventing NftN (for GOOD, this time)

First off...hi, again, fellow nerds and nerdettes! I've missed you all, and I've missed this blog, even though I've cared and maintained for it VERY sporadically.

So. It's time for a change. For REAL, this time.

I guess I have to start with a wee anecdote. A lot of things have changed since I made my last post back in March this year. I finished my last AP classes/tests, ever. I graduated from high school. Then the-summer-in-which-I-was-hardly-ever-on-the-Internets. And then college. Now, my first quarter is over--and I'm itching to start blogging again. I'd been reading a few other blogs--not review blogs, actually, but stuff like HelloGiggles and SparksLife. If you've never set foot on either site, do so NOW. You're obviously a seriously deprived human being (blog-wise, that is). Anywho, but all that occasional blog-reading made me really want to restart this little corner of the Internet.

Then, I had this fantastic (or, at least, I think it is. I may just be narcissistic) idea: make NftN into a blog that's not just about reviews, but about a whole slew of other topics. Fun topics. Random topics. Even fangirl-y topics. Maybe advice topics. The kind of posts you want to read when you're having a bad day and want something uplifting or something that will crack your sides open with laughter. But let's face it--I kind of have a lot of stuff on my plate. And so do a lot of other bloggers and wannabe bloggers. Plus, blogging takes up a ridiculous amount of time. But what if we had a team, working on this new NftN? Everyone pitches in a bit, and the blog becomes a well-oiled machine?

Okay, so maybe I'm not pitching this right. Maybe you're a little confused what this "new NftN is". Allow me to demonstrate.

Old NftN:
  • Solely a review blog, theoretically with contests and interviews
  • Run by one person (yours truly)
  • Posts once every blue moon
  • That one person goes "blah blah blah me me me" too much
New NftN:
  • Contains reviews of books, movies, and music, as well as interviews and contests, but also contains a potpourri of other topics. These can include things about life, advice, tv recaps, things in general. I'll be posting some things to give you an idea.
  • Run by multiple people (including maybe even YOU)
  • More people = more posts more often
  • More posts more often by more people = a variety of topics and viewpoints
  • A direct focus on girls--of all ages, young and old! (though boys can join in on the fun, too--we're not discriminatory here! I just don't know too many guys who'd be interested in joining/reading a blog with "Nerdette" in the title)--who consider themselves Nerdettes: gals who love books, movies, music, and culture in general. And maybe fangirling, usually over said items.
As stated, this is a brand-new NftN. And this isn't any old blog*. But I can't do this alone. I already have one contributor on board--the absolutely amazing, sweet, and funny Kim of And Anything Bookish--but even we can't do it by ourselves. We need help. We need YOU. If you're even mildly interested, e-mail me PRONTO at: notesfromthenerdette (at) gmail (dot) com. Or, if you're ready to contribute, fill out the form here (after reading the policy link on that, of course!).

Thank you, and stay tuned! :D

*I am certainly not trying to deprecate other review blogs! I've read many, many review blogs, and I find them all special and wonderful. Yet, somehow, I myself could never manage to do one so well. So maybe with a little help, NftN could be a uniquely fabulous blog, too--but nothing to be compared to other blogs. Like apples and oranges.