Friday, October 23, 2009

So when you said "I'll talk to you soon" I thought you meant "soon" like "soon", my mistake


Long story short: I'll be studying at the University of Oxford till June. I have a second dissertation to write this year (last year was about humour in Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, this year it's about the 2007, 8 and 9 TV adaptations of 5 of her novels (everything except Pride and Prejudice, thank goodness, and that includes Emma that is currently being broadcast here in the UK as we speak) and I'm taking some classes on the side, just for myself. One of these classes is a general introduction to feminist theory. It's honestly one of the best classes I've ever taken: the lectures are open to everybody, even the general public who doesn't attend the University of Oxford so if you live in Oxford, I strongly recommend joining us - they take place each week on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 to 3pm in the Exam Schools (on High Street) in Room 11. The lecturers change every week and we focus on three different authors or directors each time. The lectures are very engrossing and I've learned a lot. They have me wonder why I didn't pick Women's Studies as my major.
Moving out has proven to be terribly time-consuming, which explains my silence. I'm trying to find a new rhythm and it's taking me a while but I'm still breathing and therefore I still need to talk about exciting things somewhere. My #1 reason for picking Oxford was that I could pretend I'd be attending Hogwarts and so far it's working really well. It's so easy to pretend I did receive my letter from Hogwarts - the center of town reminds me of Hogsmeade, it's a medieval village, really. My College is New College, one of the few whose common name isn't religious so I'm quite proud of that, it's really gorgeous. The scene in which Mad-Eye turns Draco into a ferret in the movie adaptation of Goblet of Fire was filmed in my college. You can watch it here. Haven't climbed up the tree yet, though, but just you wait.

The Radcliffe camera. Great loo, helpful staff.

One of the first things I did when moving in was join the local library - it's heaven not having to buy all the books I want to read. The first book I borrowed was Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. You'll perhaps remember that The Hunger Games, the first book in the trilogy, has been one of my best YA reads this year so I couldn't wait to get my hands on the sequel, Catching Fire. The problem is that Catching Fire is the second book in a trilogy and it shows. The thing is, I wanted to explain precisely why the book didn't live up to my expectations but rather made me even more impatient to read the third one but, as usual, I found somebody else who already said it all for me. Read this excellent review right here: this is what I think.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer got such positive reviews everywhere, perhaps my expectations were once again too high for it was really disappointing. It wasn't long enough for me to feel like I knew the characters and books actually don't play that big a part in this novel, the title is a tad misleading, although it was fascinating to learn about the Nazi Occupation of the Channel Islands (you can read something about it here on Wikipedia).
So it seems my only comfort in books for pleasure these days has come from an old friend: Angela Carter, whose Magic Toyshop was simply delightful. Her grasp of language is incredible - I know I've already stressed it but it needs to be said. I completely fell in love with the heroine of the book, Melanie, who has to grow in an oppressive environment and manages to do so in very surprising ways. I was really flabbergasted to find out the book was adapted as a movie in 1987. Out of curiosity, I'm really eager to see the result - the atmosphere of Angela Carter's books is so eerie I always feel animated movies would do them more justice.

Moving pictures now. Not much to say, I'm afraid. It's so very hard to find good things to watch, there are so few and far between. The first season of Skins did make a impression, though. I find this show refreshing - it focuses on a group of teenagers living in Bristol. The direction is completely different from what you're likely to have seen before, it's an odd mixture of extreme realism (in that the topics and the way they're dealt with are authentic and ring true) and very staged moments that gives the show a pretty unique visual identity. My favourite character is a girl named Cassie who is actually responsible for a lot of these staged moments - she's a tragic figure and she brings a Hitchcockian quality to everything she does, which makes for heartbreaking viewing. I recommend the show - even if it's a little too soapy sometimes, I'm very glad I found it.

Cassie Ainsworth played by Hannah Murray, who attends the uni of Oxford as well, it's a small world after all.

Some music to warm your heart. You should know my taste by now so I'm coming up with an artist who's a bit off the beaten path for me, but whom I adore unconditionally. Roy Orbison. Absolutely wonderful, I can't get enough of him. His voice is pure honey and his songs are incredibly generous - he gives and gives and gives. Most artists celebrate or narrate, Roy Orbison just showers the listener with gifts wrapped into notes, it's beautiful. He makes me want to drive my Ford Anglia convertible to new places.

Only the lonely
Know the way I feel tonight
Only the lonely
Know this feelin' ain't right

There goes my baby
There goes my heart
They're gone forever
So far apart


Have a good weekend!

The one and only Emma Thompson. Role model, really.