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May / June 2011

Wild Animals & Perilous Places


THE PRODUCT OF HALLUCINAGENICS or genius? You tell me. Page 4. A TOTAL PSYCHOPATH AND A NICE GUY fight for the woman they both luuuve. Gee, I wonder who wins? Page 6. LIONS TIGERS & BEARS: oh my! learn more about wildlife sanctuaries. Page 8. WHAT!? SYMBOLISM IN CAMELOT? … you mean you didn’t notice? =P Page 12. IS DON DRAPER STILL A LIAR? Is the Pope Catholic? Page 14. WHY IS DEATH IN MY LIVING ROOM? Probably ‘coz he’s delivering presents. Page 18. CAN YOU DO THIS WITH PAPER? Yeah. Didn’t think so. Page 20.

RICH PEOPLE CAN BE ANNOYING unless they leave you all their money. Page 22. AND YOU THINK YOUR LIFE STINKS wait until you read theirs. Page 24. THE CURE FOR BOREDOM is to solve everyone’s problems. Page 26.

Of the films in this issue: Alice in Wonderland Camelot Cold Comfort Farm The Inheritance Hogfather Lemony Snicket Mad Men Merlin North & South Sucker Punch Water for Elephants

STOP CRYING, JANE. WE LOVE YOU even if she prefers Elizabeth Gaskell. Page 28. SOMEDAY HE’LL BE KING... or so we hope, since right now he’s a total loser! Page 30. SOMETIMES LOVE HURTS but not usually this bad. Page 32. CRAZIES ARE RUNNING THE ASYLUM … so what else is new? Page 34.

www.charitysplace.com. 2


No, this is not me. I’m not a brunette.

othered ] b e b n a c [ when she

ey.

n r u jo a is e f li y Ever

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t starts in childhood and grows as an adult. I began this particular journey at eleven when I opened a ratty notebook and wrote my very first story, about a pair of fedora and trench coat wearing felines who solved mysteries together. (What can I say, I liked cats and Nancy Drew books.) In the many years since, writing has become my passion… it is a talent, obsession, and interest shared by many other readers, movie-goers, and aspiring authors. For awhile as a teenager I had my own newsletter. Eventually, I shut it down and moved on to other things but the desire to have my own publication

continued to haunt me. The desire was filled for several years when I became the co -editor of a webzine that revolved around costume dramas. Many of you are no doubt familiar with the Costume Chronicles. We released 14 amazing issues full of glorious pictures and articles about some truly amazing costume dramas. Yet in my heart I wanted more. I wanted to talk about more than costume dramas, as much as I love them; I wanted to encourage others to expand their minds and see things anew. The end result of that passion is what you see before you, a webzine centered around everything I love: books, movies, art,

drama, history, faith, and much more, with a hip, contemporary flavor. We have a number of talented contributors that in this and future issues will cover an assortment of material. I am very excited about my new columnists and what we have planned for future installments. I also hope this will give new writers a voice, a chance for recognition, and inspire them to hone their skills. In the end, this publication is really in appreciation of writers… authors, screenwriters, anyone who tells a story and does it well. (Or in a few cases, not so well. Please stop writing books. You know who you are!!) If you have a passion for

writing and a topic you feel would make a good column let me know. If you simply want to write about a film, book, or series that fits in with our current theme, let me know! If you have an idea for a future theme, let me know! If you have a complaint, please write it down, tear it into many small pieces, and throw it in the trash. That saves me from doing it for you. (What? I’m an INTJ. Look it up and fear me.) To find out our next theme and contribute please see our back cover. And in the meantime, enjoy this exploration of interesting topics and causes you might not have been aware of before now. ■ 3


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alling into a place where a story is going to take place is a unique method of transportation, but that is exactly how the heroine of Lewis Carroll’s classic children’s fables arrives at her destination. Within a reasonably short period of time, two versions of Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland were released in film form. One was directed by Tim Burton for Disney and the other was on the silver screen by way of SyFy’s miniseries Alice. The only thing the two productions have in common are strong -willed heroines who share the loss of a father and the same first name. The blockbuster was a project Burton took seriously; his 4

interpretation of the classic fairytale is a series of events rather than character -driven. He wanted to make a story that told us something about Alice as a person rather than just her wandering through an enchanted forest. This is a novel approach to material that was really nothing more than a child falling into a world not her own. His Alice is a young woman who goes through the humdrum routines of proper life but doesn’t really know who she is. A bit of a rebel, Alice finds even the smallest social requirements in her life bothersome and her choice to dismiss them makes her stand out; she hates wearing corsets and

conforming to expectations and instead demands to know who defines what is proper. Her father died, leaving her in the care of a mother she has never been close to, but her mother expects a good match. It isn’t until she is at a garden party that her future comes clear when she realizes her husband has already been chosen for her. Questioning what she really wants in a split second with a crowd of well-wishers as her captive audience, she spots a funny White Rabbit and that is when her life begins. Alice detests what her life has become—with her father gone, her life is no longer filled with laughter, understanding, or even by her standards, acceptance.

She is pushed toward a conventional marriage but her emotions are in such a jumble that had she not seen an alternative, the answer that would have made her family happy was on the tip of her tongue. She is in an awkward place in her life, considered a woman but not fully emotionally matured. On her arrival in Underland everyone quickly decides she is not “the Alice,” the one to return the kingdom to its former glory; the girl who visited as a child. The wise Absolem implies it isn’t so much a question of whether or not she is who they have been searching for but rather that she doesn’t know herself. Her closest friendship develops


with the Hatter; even he is skeptical, claiming she has lost her “muchness” having once been much more. All these exchanges show her lack of direction and it takes a crisis for her to realize it is she who decides her own path and no one else. Then there is Alice. This miniseries had the potential to become the “same-old, same-old” but instead of falling into that trap it upped expectations by setting its story in modern times, with hints of an old world era. This Alice is interesting and stronger than Burton’s. With an independent streak that worries her mother, Alice is an expert black-belt parttime instructor at a school, and is crazy about a man named Jack. But that doesn’t mean things are rosy in her life; they are not. She has some personal trust issues with a father who abandoned her, so when Jack proposes marriage she isn’t sure she is at that level in the relationship and does what she does best—sends him away. When he leaves the ring behind, she dashes out after him only to see several strange men forcing him into a truck. Not about to stand by and do nothing, Alice follows him and awakens in a land unlike anything she has ever seen before. She is determined to stay until she has reunited with Jack. What both female protagonists bring to mind are hints of feminism; one in a world dominated by

men, the other by her fearless personality. I won’t lie. I like characters (male or female) to be strong leads. A lady doesn’t need to be so independent that her attitude toward life pushes everyone away, but I do not mind if she is confident enough to know her own strengths and weaknesses. That is how I think of Caterina’s Alice. She is independent but vulnerable to a void in her life —flawed as any human being. She doesn’t always have it all together, but she isn’t so lost that she doesn’t know what she wants. Marriage isn’t something she needs to feel “complete,” and though she isn’t afraid of relationships, fear of total commitment does send her running in the opposite direction. Or as her mother puts it, in a split second she weighed all the possible cons with unlikely pros. (Burton’s Alice lived in a time when feminism was just gaining popularity and eventually that was what her choices implied.) Her choice to follow her beau is because she cares for him and is experiencing regret over turning down his proposal.

Seeing an Alice who isn’t as confused is an interesting switch-up, since this one’s one stumbling block is a lack of trust, and it seems to work for the overall wackiness of the series. Her continuing distrust encompasses the small things in life as well

as the bigger stuff. At first Alice doesn’t believe in people (Jack, Hatter) then we learn she has grave fears about heights; all fostered by a feeling of abandonment and inadequacy. Alice’s bizarre journey is a rite of passage for her; when all is said and done, her questions are answered, she realizes the truth and doesn’t need to hang onto the comfortable, safe things about her life

anymore—she learns what she needs, enabling her to move on in healthier ways. How the filmmakers put viewers in mind of the classic tale was adorable while adding their own unique spin and taking their production and interpretations of it in completely different directions. Both the retellings give Alice a fabulous onscreen support group, mainly in their respective Hatters; both of whom are memorable for different reasons. In the latter adaptation, writers seem to have a better grip on realizing and bringing out the heroine’s full potential. That isn’t to say I don’t like the big blockbuster; in fact, the truth is quite the opposite. The set, fantasy design, and costumes are all brilliant, but so is the whimsy in the series. The stronger emphasis on the leading lady and a much more charismatic actress is where it has an upper hand advantage; sadly, for me Burton’s Alice just doesn’t quite capture the heart of its heroine or more accurately, as Hatter would put it, the other Alice has much more “muchness.” ■

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ara Gruen’s historical fiction novel, Water for Elephants, was published in 2007 and became a best seller. For Christmas, my aunt had given me the book when it first came out and I neglected to read it for some time but I finally managed to delve into the story of veterinary student Jacob Janikowski struggling with the loss of his parents and trying to find himself among the many creatures great and small of the Benzini Brothers Circus. With the traveling circus, he finds his niche and camaraderie with the people that work in it. In 2011, the film version of Water for Elephants comes to the big screen with Robert Pattinson, Christoph Waltz, and Reese Witherspoon in the leading roles as Jacob, August, and Marlena respectively. It is a fine adaptation of Gruen’s novel, but like most adaptations, it leaves a few details out. Some are minor and not worth discussing but there are a few aspects of the book that have been omitted from the film. One of these glittering omissions is not necessarily an aspect or detail but a character in the book. In the novel, the owner and ringleader of Benzini Brothers Circus is a man named Uncle Al. He is in charge of who gets paid 6


and who is redlighted, or thrown from the train in the middle of the night for being unproductive. Uncle Al is abusive and cruel to employees who aren’t pulling their own weight and forces Marlena to perform with her abusive husband August despite the fact that she is scared to be with him, because their elephant act is a great money-making venture. In the film, Uncle Al is nonexistent and August is the one in charge of the circus, whereas formerly August was just an animal trainer. I think it would’ve been interesting to keep the Uncle Al character and cast Danny DeVito in that role; it would be nice to see him performing a corrupt and cruel circus manager and possibly get an Oscar for it. In the book, August is described as a paranoid schizophrenic whose nasty temper tantrums are usually directed at Marlena and Jacob. Shortly afterward, August will apologize profusely to both and offer to take them out to dinner as a way of making nice. He is also abusive to Rosie, the newly acquired elephant for Marlena’s performance act. On screen August doesn’t appear to be afflicted with mental illness; he merely seems to be jealous, abusive, hotheaded, and possessive. He

he is seen apologizing for hitting Rosie with a bull hook but not for his behavior toward Marlena. Going in I expected him to be a paranoid version of mathematician John Nash, complete with visual and auditory hallucinations, which would’ve vastly “improved” his character’s evil side; in fact, it would’ve made the film more faithful to the novel. Unfortunately, the film makers took liberty with Waltz’s character and toned him down a little. One of the few obvious differences between the book Water for Elephants and the film version has to do with the older Jacob staying in a retirement home. In both the book and the movie, it is implied that Jacob lives in a retirement home he isn’t really fond of. In the beginning of the novel, Jacob is seen in the home, getting into a heated argument with another man who claims to have been in the circus. Jacob didn’t believe him. This gets him banished to his room by the rest home staff and he has to eat his meals in his room by himself and not with his friends. The book then depicts Jacob talking to the nursing staff about his time at the circus through a series of flashbacks to 1931 two years after the Great Depression hit the United

States. In the film, Jacob is attending a circus and the staff finds him wandering the grounds at night. He ends up telling the circus owner about his time with Benzini Brothers. While both the opening scenes are different, the beginning of the film is actually a new take on the ending of the novel. I think the script writers should’ve stuck with the original setup but that wouldn’t be feasible to make the movie work; in a sense, this change was necessary. I did like how they took the end and created an interesting way to make a beginning. Like most adaptations of books this is not entirely true to the written word for various reasons; one of them is to keep the running time relatively short.

Sometimes these omissions don’t make a difference but others have an immense effect on the plot. With Water for Elephants, some editing was necessary to simplify the story but a few more changes would have improved the film for the better. While altering the beginning of the story was a good thing for the film, the character of Uncle Al should’ve been included as well as August’s dark side of mental illness. If the film makers featured him having hallucinations and acting on them, it would make his character a lot darker and more sinister than how he was originally depicted. Still, the movie version of Water for Elephants is more faithful than disloyal to Sara Gruen’s novel. ■

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Article written by Charity Bishop. Images reprinted off the official website: www.wildanimalsanctuary.org


d on gras e lk a w r e v e n d a h r a The Be

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t stuck its head outside the cage and sniffed at the strange green turf, then put one foot in front of the other and stepped out. This might seem like a strange sight on the high plans of Colorado but is a regular happening at the Wild Animal Sanctuary. Home to over 1,500 of God’s creatures, it offers a safe home to abandoned, abused, and mistreated lions, tigers, bears, wolves, and other carnivores. Each has a story, many of them tragic, from the mountain lion whose owners abused her so badly she arrived with skull fractures to a bear whose poor eyesight has dimmed to blindness. Rescued from zoos, private collections, circuses, roadside attractions, and shelters throughout the US and abroad (25 lions just arrived from Bolivia), these animals faced euthanasia if not taken in. Their stories are heartbreaking ‌leopard cubs found in an air heating duct when their owners tried to hide them from the authorities, a lion kept in a filthy pit dug in a backyard (the owners fed him dogs from the nearest animal shelter!), and bears who were not even given water, so they resorted to drinking their own urine. It’s hard to read these tragic accounts

of mistreatment but each has a happy ending: a new life at the Sanctuary. Unlike animals captured in the wild, these large animals could never fend for themselves. Not only have many suffered abuse that would make survival impossible, most were raised from a young age in a human environment. The cats do not know how to hunt and the bears are used to humans and would become a nuisance. Visiting the Sanctuary is a lifechanging experience both for its ability to tug at your heart and its way of permitting access to the animals. Visitors are confined to observation decks so as not to disturb the normal behavior of the residents. The animals raised together remain so while others adapt to new friends and environments. To prevent bringing up more animals in captivity, the males are neutered on arrival but because this process would cause lions

s before.

to lose their rich, luscious manes, the female lions are kept out of season with safe hormone treatments. The Sanctuary tries to replicate an eating schedule similar to what the animals would experience in the wild, so the animals are fed not everyday but on a routine (this allows their bodies to process the food naturally) and the meat is frozen so it

takes longer to consume. Their most famous resident is a black leopard named Eddie, featured on Animal Planet. Born at the Sanctuary to feral black leopards, it was apparent that he would die without proper care so he was raised in the home of owner Pat Craig. At first Eddy had trouble getting all the nutrients he 9


needed… the goat’s milk that usually works for big cats was not doing its job and his hair was falling out. Fortunately, they soon found a vitamin-rich milk compound that allowed him to grow and for the first six months he lived in the main house and interacted with the children and bulldogs. Now at 160 lb and too big to interact safely with the family, the exquisite Eddy lives in an enclosure with seven other leopards. The lions are content to roam their little savannah, the bears enjoy sitting around, and the tigers love to sun themselves and go for swims in the pond. The wolves are more reclusive, hiding in underground dens, which like all similar underground cement hideyholes in the individual pens maintain a constant sixty degrees, summer or winter. One of the foremost authorities in the field, Pat Craig started rescuing animals at age nineteen when he adopted a jaguar cub and was licensed to keep it on the family farm. Thirty years later, he has the largest Sanctuary in North America. He is not alone in his passion for protecting and caring for these large beasts; many other organizations have followed in his footsteps. Monkeys, elephants, bears, and big cats are the most commonly rescued. It is sobering to realize more tigers exist in captivity than in the wild. While the Sanctuary is open to the public, no 10

profit is made off the animals. All entrance fees and donations go to providing for them, and it costs over $1,500,000 a year to keep the Sanctuary running and provide for its many happy residents. If this outreach touches your heart, there are ways to help through financial support or if you are in the area by volunteering at this and other similar Sanctuaries. You can either give a one-time donation through their website, or have the opportunity to “adopt” an animal. ($30 a month for large animals, $20 a month for medium-sized animals, and $10 a month for small animals.) The most difficult thing is picking which animal to support. I couldn’t, so they chose for me, a beautiful tiger named Meeka. My visit reminded me it is our responsibility to care for all of God’s creatures. Much is revealed about a society in how it treats its animals. These did not choose to be here but now because of the kindness of Pat Craig and the financial support of people like you, they have a happy life. If each of us chose a cause we believed in and took action either through financial support or by volunteering, our world would be a much better place. Saving one animal may not change the world, but for one animal their world changes forever. ■

You can find out all about this particular Sanctuary, adopt your very own animal, and more at www.wildanimalsanctuary.org


ENGLAND Monkey World USA: Colorado: Wild Animal Sanctuary Florida: EARS Jungle Friends Save the Chimps Big Cat Rescue Indiana: Black Pine Louisiana: Chimp Haven New York: Call of the Wild Oklahoma: Safari’s Oregon: Chimps Inc. Tennessee: Elephant Sanctuary Texas: International Exotic Primarily Primates

If the plight of abused animals touches your heart there are ways to help. Sanctuaries all over the world have been founded to take in wild animals in captivity. They rely on donations and volunteers to remain in business. You can help by donating time and money. Many are open to the public. There may even be one in your area.

This magazine does not vouch for these charitable organizations; please research carefully before donating your time and money.

There are many nonprofit organizations dedicated to saving the lives of cats, dogs, horses, donkeys, and other domestic pets. To find out how to help, call your local shelter, the Dumb Friends League or do an internet search to locate rescue and adoption programs in your area. 11


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he new series Camelot creates a storyline different to what we know of the legend of King Arthur. It begins with him as the child of peasants, naive and innocent to what has happened to the Kingdom until one day Merlin arrives and declares that the King, Uther Pendragon, is dead and Arthur is heir to the throne. Unfortunately for Arthur, his half sister Morgan also has a rightful claim to the throne as his sole heir… until Merlin proves Arthur is Uther’s illegitimate child. This causes Morgan to create an army that threatens the new king before his kingdom is even established. The newly crowned Arthur is faced with the possibility of war upon his discovery and the lives of he and his men are

threatened if they do not leave within a week. Morgan, her warlord allies and the people do not believe Arthur is capable of being king, but importantly Arthur does not believe he is meant to be king. But Merlin has experienced visions of future destruction and war in the land and believes Arthur is the king who will bring peace and unity to Camelot. For days, he speaks words of hope and life into young Arthur’s heart, who does not know that within him lies a great king who has wisdom, strength and power, but no one, including his own men, sees this in Arthur. To encourage belief in the new king, Merlin tells Arthur of the legend of the “Sword of Mars.” Whoever has the strength and wisdom to retrieve the sword from

its perilous perch is foretold as the crowned king. Arthur is reluctant to do this at first because fear has captured his heart since all who have tried to retrieve the sword have perished. Even his bravest soldier tells Merlin that he is sending the new king to his death by having him retrieve the sword. The only person who believes Arthur has the power within himself to complete the task is Merlin, who knows he can conquer his fear of death and bring back the sword victoriously. Merlin’s open and honest belief in Arthur challenges him to overcome his fears, so with ingenuity, strength, knowledge, and eventually pain, Arthur obtains the sword and proves to the people, and mostly himself, that he can and will be king. The most beautiful part

of this story to me is Merlin’s persistent belief and hope that inside the naive, innocent, weak Arthur is a genuine king who not only had the strength but the knowledge and wisdom to accomplish such a great task. Merlin reminds me of our Father, who believes in us when no one else does. He is the one whispering words of encouragement and love to us when we do not believe in ourselves. He does not always protect us from the pain and harm that may come to us through a growing time but allows it to happen because when we have retrieved the sword we will have walked and grown into our true identity as He sees us. It is because of Him that we can embrace being the child He knows we are capable of being. ■

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WHERE THETRUTH

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adison Avenue is best known either for the New York Life Insurance Building or the fashionable high end shops that line its street, but in the 1950s and ‘60s it was populated with so many advertising agencies that the term “Madison Avenue� became almost synonymous with advertising itself. To be a an ad man on Madison Avenue was considered a glamorous job in a world that was quickly changing. It was a time of excess, of three martini lunches, expense accounts, and meetings in rooms filled 14

with cigarette smoke, a time when sexism, racism, homophobia and antiSemitism were accepted and commonplace. The United States was on the brink of war, a young new president and his lovely wife and children had just taken their place in the White House, and people were working to obtain the American dream of a car, house, a loving spouse, happy children and the products that proposed to give them just that. People consumed beverages, wore clothes, and purchased products on the promise of happiness each item would

bring, all the while failing to realize the American dream they were striving for was carefully crafted for them by advertising agencies. The 1960s were a revolutionary time for advertising agencies and the ways in which they went about branding a product. Television was emerging as a valid medium with which to reach the consumer, large tobacco companies, once considered elite accounts to hold, were becoming a liability with the release of new medical research, and many agencies were putting

a lot more credence, as well as a good deal more money, into focus groups and advertising research than had been done in the past with the understanding there was more to what people wanted than what they said they wanted. It is here, at this change in world outlook and practices, at the fictitious advertising agency Sterling Cooper that writer Matthew Weiner chose to set his award winning television show Mad Men, which views the past through advertising. It explores the relationships between the changing world and how


those in the ad business work with, tweak and adapt their campaigns to it while simultaneously using the products and characters to further reflect the desires and developments of the age. After all, to look at a vintage advertisement is to see what was considered the ideal feminine figure,

vs. lies, fantasy vs. reality. It is about the lies the advertising men tell in order to make people buy the products they are trying to sell, how they make them believe it will fill a missing void, and how that affects the society and culture of the era. But more than anything, it is about

consumers. It is a job at which he is extremely successful, mainly because he is not all he appears to be. Donald Draper is in fact Dick Whitman. As a child, we see the seeds of understanding the differences between what is true vs. what is represented planted when as a child he

“beware of the dog,” while a scythe means “a dishonest man lives here.” When Dick’s father refuses the hobo the money he has earned, Dick runs to the gatepost and pushes back the weeds to find it had already been marked long ago with the image of a scythe. Dick sees a symbol

the perfect family, house, or cleaning product. It is to see what everyone wanted or what advertisers tried to tell them they should want. It is to view the past through a lens that is not entirely true but what people wanted to be true. At its core that is what Mad Men is really about — what people want vs. what they say they want, what people believe vs. what they choose to do, who people present to the world vs. who they really are at their core. It is about truth

the false front each character puts on every day not only as deception for the outside world, a form of advertising and branding in and of itself, but also as a practice in self deception. No one better represents this than Don Draper. On the outside he appears to have everything: he is handsome and charming with a beautiful wife and children, living an idyllic life in suburbia as he manages accounts and campaigns for products based on the desires of

befriends a hobo who is promised payment after a day’s work. The hobo tells him the story of how he had a different identity with a family, home and job but freed himself and started a new life. Then, tossing a piece of chalk to the boy, he tells him about the Hobo Code, which is a series of symbols on gateposts outside homes that represent what is on the inside. A circle with an X represents a pie, which means “The food here is good,” a jagged line means

of dishonesty juxtaposed with the image of his dad. Like the hobo, Dick tries to run away from his family, eventually ending up serving in the Korean War. When his Lieutenant, Donald Draper, is killed in a terrible accident, Dick sees an opportunity to cover up his unwanted past, switches dog tags and officially begins his life as Don Draper. He is good at his job because it requires him to invent desires, to understand the wants and needs of consumers and 15


promise that a product will fulfill them. His job is to brand a product around a lie or a half truth, and he is excellent at what he does because he branded himself on a lie he lives out every single day. Don is the embodiment of what the core of advertising actually is. Even the name Don (to put on) and drape (to cover up) suggests all is not what it seems. But the show is not just about Don. He is who we follow, the one who brings all the pieces together and solidifies them for the viewer. He is our medium for the entire message going on around him but at the end of the day each character serves to echo Don’s message of falseness 16

in their own unique way. Everyone is putting forth something that is untrue, desperately trying to hide something America is not ready to admit or accept in a futile effort to convince themselves they are good people and are happy. As Don tells us, advertising is “a billboard on the side of the road that screams the reassurance that whatever you’re doing, it’s okay. You’re okay.” They live lives of falsehood, branding themselves as something they are not in search of whatever they think will bring them the happiness they ultimately crave. Men like Don Draper, Roger Sterling, and Pete Campbell must hide multiple infidelities from

their wives and pretend their marriages are happy ones. Copywriter Paul Kinsey espouses a number of Bohemian beliefs in an effort to cover up a background of affluence and Ivy League education, going so far as to date a black woman just to prove how progressive he actually is. For Peggy Olson it is a baby out of wedlock, along with the startling revelation that climbing the corporate ladder is far more exciting to her than the prescribed gender roles of the day. Joan, the office manager, believes she should be happy with her job, being admired as an object of desire by most of the men in the office. However, as the years go by, the novelty

wears off and she has to do her best to contain her visible discontent. But it is the character of Betty Draper that gives the most unsettling picture, for she illustrates exactly what the perfect woman of the 1960s was supposed to be: she has the house, the husband, the Grace Kelly looks, and the children society has told her will make her happy, yet she is a perfect example of self deception. When her neighbor Francine comes to her for advice because she suspects her husband may be having an affair, Betty is shocked and wonders why Francine would ask her to weigh in a situation she would know nothing about. She has successfully deceived herself into


believing what she knows is untrue—that her husband is faithful. The realization that other people can see past the happy family image she has worked so hard to put up is unsettling to her. In another instance, on meeting a new neighbor who divorced her husband rather than put up with his infidelities Betty feigns concern for her children rather than admit this more independent, politically active woman has discovered something that shakes her to her core: there is more out there, the things society promised would bring happiness do not always work, a woman does not have to be just a housewife or put up with infidelities and pretend as if everything is perfect. Time and again the characters and their hidden desires are used to reflect the products they are selling. “Everything he says means something else,” one woman remarks of Don. When the client Caldecott Farms, which makes dog food out of horse meat, wants the agency to rename the meat but keep the company name to help lessen public outrage over the product’s contents, Don tells the client “The product is good….but the name is poisoned… I’m not saying a new name is easy to find, but it’s a label on a can.” He’s not talking about the product, he’s talking about himself. Don Draper is the

label he chooses to show the world; it gets him where he wants to go and hides what he doesn’t want others to see. When Don smokes pot with a group of the Beat Generation one of them tells him he can’t go outside while high as there are policemen out there. Dressed in his suit and tie, Don places his hat on his

the consumer. We think to ourselves, Thank God we are no longer like that, that we live in a more enlightened time, and we are no longer that selfish, or racist or sexist. We cringe as we watch the mistakes of the past and congratulate ourselves on being better all the while doing exactly as all the

head and knowing he looks the part of an upstanding business man, exclaims to the unkempt looking beatnik, “No, you can’t” before walking out the door and passing a police officer who simply nods. In many ways we are all Don Draper and in a sense the show Mad Men speaks to the viewer in much the same way advertising does

characters do… donning a false identity of happiness, success, fulfillment or simple indifference. Like an advertisement, the complete lack of morality shown by many characters on the show makes us feel better by comparison about ourselves and the lives we lead every day, covering up things we may be ashamed to let others see, no matter

how small. It makes us feel the labels we’ve chosen pale in comparison. As Don so wisely said earlier, “It screams the reassurance that whatever you’re doing it’s okay. You’re okay.” We become repeatedly frustrated with characters who never seem to be able to change and ask ourselves “When will they learn?” all the while often failing to realize that the message is equally as valid today as it has ever been. And so we keep on living the lives we are living, branding ourselves for the world, covering up the outside instead of changing the inside, all the while convincing ourselves that we are better than those who have come before us—more moral, more enlightened, that we’re beautiful, perfect, that what we’re doing is okay. But at the end of the day none of us is really any different than Don Draper. In some small way, in some small portion of our lives, some element of who we are is still just a label on a can, and as Don goes back to his office and shuts his door which bears the name he stole, it echoes the symbol carved into the fence post, echoes what all of know but few of us will admit in our lives filled with self deception: a dishonest man lives here. ■

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ormality can be challenging if you can walk through walls and see monsters hiding under beds. Susan wants to be left alone and hopes to make others forget her notorious parentage by working as a governess. (Death adopted her parents and as such she inherited certain of his … ah, abilities.) The children are delighted that she can routinely beat up make-believe thugs with fire irons and more than once she has impressed the lady of the house by referring to various Important People by their first name, but all that is about to come to an end when someone comes down the chimney on Hogswatch Eve that isn’t supposed to be delivering presents…

Life isn’t easy if your hair has a mind of its own, you live in a place where fairy tale characters actually exist (and a few might be planning your death) and you grew up calling the Grim Reaper “Grandpa.” 18


In Hogfather, wizards are a bit mad, there is a Guild for everything, it is possible you may be eaten by dragons, and fairy tale characters are in danger of being assassinated. Filled with memorable characters and supernatural beings like gods, vampires, werewolves and even the Tooth Fairy, Terry Pratchett keeps you laughing as you follow the exploits of his grim and unique protagonists. Although there are multiple plots unfolding, all of them revolve around the disappearance of the Hogfather (Discworld’s version of Santa Clause). Susan puts her mind to discovering what has happened to him, Death delivers presents in his stead, and the sinister Mr. Teatime plots to kill him altogether. And then there is the new bathroom at the Unseen University... The strength of the story lies in its embrace of wit and absurdity. Cultural references abound; Susan muses on her decision to become a governess and concludes that she would rather die than dance with a chimney sweep on the roof. We meet a variety of useful beings, such as the oh god of hangovers (others drink, he experiences their headaches, much to his own remorse, as he is tired of waking up in a puddle of sick). The writing style is intentionally droll, at times employing amusing detailed footnotes to explain the social-political-historical significance of certain

places and individuals. Discworld, while setting out merely to amuse and more than succeeding, does have occasional moments of depth. Beings cease to exist if no one believes in them, so if all children refuse to accept the Hogfather is real he will

maintain a balance. It takes a certain amount of patience to read Pratchett since his stories unfold at a measured pace because the action is entwined with character development and… well, moments of sheer absurdity. It is not

die. When this becomes apparent and Susan questions it, Death tells her it is important for people to believe in small things so big things can come true. They are pretending until belief becomes reality. One could see this as an assault on faith but it works two ways in suggesting faith becomes reality, and reality relies on faith in order to

immediately apparent where the story is going or the significance of unconnected events but rarely is a person or situation introduced that is not important later. You need a reasonable grasp of British life and familiarity with pop culture references in order to get many of the subtler (sometimes blatant) puns. Many consider his

Unseen University to be the inspiration in part for the Harry Potter novels, although there is where the resemblance ends (well, apart from the dragons of course). While wizards do feature in his stories, in most instances they are background characters. Three of his novels have been turned into miniseries: The Colour of Magic, Going Postal, and Hogfather. While minor changes are made here and there, each is mostly faithful to the source material and spirit of the author. The dialogue is frequently taken directly from the book and the marvelous world in which the quirky characters live comes to life with vivid Victorian imagery. The ensemble cast includes such notable English actors as Jeremy Irons, Charles Dance, Michelle Dockery and Sean Astin, among others. Though fans are divided in their opinion of the final result and are known to dicker over minor changes, Pratchett’s sense of humor remains intact. He will not suit all readers since it takes a certain morbidity to truly appreciate him but for those in search of a unique series, he is wonderful. After all, who would not want to read an author whose character concludes, after a man has appeared literally out of thin air: “I didn’t even have any of that salmon mousse! Will you look a it? His foot’s in it! It’s all over the place! Do you want yours?” ■ 19


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aper is a marvelous tool, a blank canvas that invites the imaginative to express themselves. It can be used in many ways, and for many purposes. It has been my favorite medium my entire life because it is so versatile. I started using paper as a creative outlet when I was little and loved to make small books. I would write a short story, illustrate it (or sometimes it was the other way around) and then staple the pages together. I was so proud of myself every time I finished one! I saved them all and now a box is filled with my little books. I love to take them out from time to time and remind myself of how far I’ve come and how much I’ve learned. When I got a little older, I started to use paper as a way to express my growing interest in history. I would spend hours in my room when I was a young teen designing outfits in the many styles of historical fashion. Movies like Gone With the Wind, Finding Neverland, Titanic, and Pride and Prejudice made a major impact on my impressionable young mind and the fashions I saw became the springboard for my own designs. While my ardor for deigning clothes has cooled in recent years, I still love to watch period films and imagine my own

characters populating their fashionable worlds. Recently, paper has taken an entirely new form in my life. While I still love to write and draw, the possibilities of the paper itself has taken hold. A few Christmases ago, my mother bought my sister a card-making set. Looking back, I believe she gave it

other things in my life. Now cards are only one of many things I can make with paper. Boxes, wreaths, flowers, and garlands are equal investments of my time. I am inspired with new ideas constantly, and the endless range of creative possibilities is incredible. Paper is such a simple

to the wrong person! I helped my sister make a few cards and instantly became enthralled with the folding, crimping, and gluing processes. I took over her gift entirely, using the accompanying book as a training guide. After I had mastered the techniques presented in the book, I began to search for new sources of inspiration, new techniques, and new things to make. The cardmaking book became a springboard, like so many

medium, but it can take so many forms. For example, a simple piece of white cardstock is as blank a canvas as one could wish for. It is my favorite paper to use, because it is the backbone of anything. I can fold it into a card or box, or cut pieces of it out to shape into flowers. Sometimes, I make small boxes and decorate them with flowers from the same piece of paper. A rose, lily or hydrangea makes a

beautiful accent for a box or card. Paper flowers are the most versatile kind of paper creation of my experience, because they can be used in so many different ways. They are beautiful on their own but are also wonderful to mix and match together in a bouquet, wreath or garland. They also last much longer than real flowers (except in a rainstorm) and can be given to anyone, allergies or not. As you can see, I have a love of paper. I also have a love of imagination. Creativity is what gives color to my life and makes it meaningful. Without it, I must admit, life would be a dull, gray place. Every good movie I watch, every song I listen to, every painting I look at, is an inspiration to me in some way. Sometimes the influence is strong and plays a part in shaping who I am (for example, in movies like Lord of the Rings or Star Wars, or paintings by Vermeer and Michelangelo), other times a piece is merely added to my cognitive store of ideas. The way other people have filled their creative canvases influences the way I fill mine, even if their canvas is a silver screen and mine is merely a blank sheet of paper. â–

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s in the other arts, aptitude and enthusiasm for writing tends to manifest itself early. Precociousness marks out some of the authors who have left their legacy of words with us, and the earliest works of these writers can simultaneously impress and demonstrate the growth of their ability in their later works. Louisa May Alcott was only 17 when she wrote The Inheritance and it is a case in point. The plot owes a lot to fairy tales but the entertainment of reading it can not be denied. The same can be said of it’s film version. The adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s The Inheritance is a interesting mixture of invention, faithfulness, and modernization, but the most important theme of the book retains it’s clearness in film form: virtue is rewarded. The Inheritance is less well known than Little Women, so a brief plot synopsis here seems necessary. In Victorian England, the wealthy Hamilton family employs Edith Adelon, an orphan they have sheltered since she was a child, as

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companion to their daughter Amy. A cousin of the family, Lady Ida, arrives to stay with them, with the intention of making a match for herself. One other visitor to the estate, Lord Percy, stands out but his attraction to Edith (which is reciprocated) quickly makes itself clear. Struggles between the heart and circumstances, as well as the deceitful machinations of others, conspire to ruin Edith’s life but destiny has in store for her a surprise. She is actually the daughter of the present Lord Hamilton’s late older brother. Since Lord Hamilton is deceased before the story opens, Edith is a titled and landed woman, free to love whom she chooses. A television film was adapted from it in 2004, and stars Cari Shayne as Edith, Thomas Gibson as Percy, and Meredith Baxter as Lady Hamilton. Despite the lack of royalty, the classic fairy-tale aspects of the plot fit the story comfortably into the period drama genre. The adaptation of a work like this necessitates some changes and the film version has differences both big and small. Let’s start with the setting. In


keeping with the association between Alcott and the New England region, the film shifts the estate from England to Massachusetts. The estate is even given a name— Evenswood. This means the characters’ titles are gone but the emphasis on social class remains as the time period hasn’t been changed. Some viewers might welcome the lack of any kind of accent this change of place entails! Differences in the plot are less significant. The central premise of Edith’s birthright is the same, as are most of the details. There is a tense moment when Amy nearly falls off a precipice and Edith is integral to rescuing her— present in both book and film. A subplot about theft in the house and Lady Ida’s spiteful and conniving accusation of Edith is also featured in both. Happily, the romance between Edith and Percy is also fully developed, perhaps even more so than in the book. For example, a brief meeting between them before they are formally introduced shows their connection. What is different in the film is the addition of a local annual horse race, the Greens Cup, as the impetus for all the visitors to the estate. It also provides some exciting racing footage. The biggest difference of all ties to plot and character. In the film, Lord

Hamilton is alive. Having been angered at his brother on his death he simply put away his brother’s papers when he took over the estate. He happens upon them one day, though, shortly before a fatal heart attack fells him and that is how Edith learns her identity. In the book, an old servant of her father reveals all to her. The way everyone else finds out is the same in both book and film—it’s a nice resolution, and I’ll let viewers enjoy it for themselves. Another minor but necessary character change is the fact that the Hamiltons have a son in the book, Arthur, but he doesn’t exist in the film— which leaves Edith free to inherit. (In the book the wealth is simply hers as the heir’s oldest child.) Edith is where this topic of adaptation gets truly interesting. The novel’s heroine seems too good to be true, beautiful and good to an almost saintly degree. She forbears all malicious behavior towards her and selflessly tries to hide her true birth to benefit the Hamiltons. Modern readers may begin to wince at the saccharine sweetness of Edith on the page. On film, she is more palatable. Shayne, though very pretty, isn’t perfect

looking, thankfully, and while Edith is still a thoroughly good person in the adaptation, she is also clearly dealing with the confines of a woman’s place in that time. One invented scene which deepens her romance with Percy has Edith confessing that “Everything else is such a struggle of etiquette and propriety.” She is referring to riding, a pursuit the novel Edith doesn’t enjoy. The film goes so far as to have Edith actually ride her uncle’s entry in the horse race, even—gasp!—riding astride. (She wins.) This is a change that can only smooth the way for today’s viewers to relate to Edith. Empathy from the audience is essential since Edith is the embodiment of the theme of the novel: that virtue and goodness are rewarded. Edith’s saintly example in print becomes a strong morality and self-

respect on screen, which allows the viewer to root for her. We want to see Edith obtain not only her rightful inheritance but also Percy’s love, even if it’s by overcoming obstacles she sets in place herself by not crossing class boundaries to be with him. Like the fairy tales we all know and love, Alcott was ahead of her time in suggesting that true worth comes not from money and birth but from a person’s character. Edith is favored with a happy ending that hands her the affluence she needs to attain the social position that mirrors the kind of person she is. Alcott had to operate within the conventions of the time to give her heroine that ending, but today, as Prince William and Kate Middleton have proven, happily ever after comes with only one convention… It must be real. ■

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he first time I saw Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, I fell in love with it. Since the movie was so good, I decided to read the books it was based on, and decided it's one of those rare instances when a movie is better than the book. The books are witty and original and fastpaced, but I found myself left with a bad taste in my mouth after finishing the last one. Many storylines are left unfinished and mysteries unsolved. The movie, while changing certain things from the books, keeps the same flavor but the ending is far more satisfactory. The world created in the movie is brilliant. It really comes to life, something that is at once old fashioned and modern. It's steampunk at its finest. In fact, you find yourself noticing yet another odd or perfect detail with each subsequent viewing. From the costumes to the actors, the world Lemony Snicket wrote of is made real in a way that isn't fully developed in the books. The costumes alone make it worth watching. The rich fabrics, beautiful

details, the flamboyance of so many of them only add to the setting. Violet Baudelaire's dress is full of details—lace, netting, and tiny stitches—that transform what could have been a simple gray gown into a work of art. Count Olaf's many outfits are perfect, full of whimsical details and outrageous designs. No costume is bland so watching them becomes a visual treat. The actors are flawless. While I don't care for Jim Carrey in general, the producers could not have picked a better actor to portray Count Olaf. He is witty and melodramatic and stingy and cruel and determined, often all in one scene. You get the sense he's more than a little bit crazy. The Baudelaire children are played perfectly, from Emily Browning's portrayal of Violet, a 14year-old inventor suddenly put in charge of a younger brother and sister, to Liam Aiken as Klaus, a 12-yearold with a continual thirst for knowledge who manages to save both sisters, to little Kara and Shelby Hoffman who play Sunny, an infant with the

insatiable desire to bite. Also, though the twins play a non-speaking part, their acting is amazing. I truly believed they were speaking the words printed on the screen whenever they babbled. The settings, too, are often grand. With large rooms, sweeping staircases, and intricate windows the houses are transformed into places where anything might happen. The outdoor settings as well are well thought out. No detail is forgotten, from the fruit stands in the market to the beautiful cars. Even the dominant colors in the movie, browns and grays and dull yellows, further the mood. What I love best about it though is the message of hope that shines through. When the Baudelaire children learn of Count Olaf's true plan and are locked in a room by themselves they don't lose hope. Instead, they band together to make a sanctuary for themselves. Using silhouettes of their dead parents, they manage to create a safe place, for however brief a time. They repeat this dedication

to one another countless times throughout the story. They are provided with one guardian after another, and though they grow weary of trying to escape Olaf, they face each new situation with hope, knowing they have each other even when all else is gone. In the final moments the importance of love and family is really brought home. The three children have been brought to the home they lost and as they stand among the wreckage, an envelope pops through what's left of the mail slot. It's the letter from their parents that was lost in the mail years ago. In it, their parents offer their love, and remind them that even if they (the parents) perish, not to despair. As long as the children have each other they are not alone. And then their parents pass on a telescope, a link to their lives and a passing on of the torch, if you will. Though the movie ends without the Baudelaire's fate decided, you know they will be okay. Better than okay, actually, because they have each other and the love we all need in order to live the best lives we can. â–

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t's not that all literary adaptations are serious, melodramatic, or devoid of humor. In fact, some of the most popular costume films are based on works by two of the cleverest writers in history: Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde. For sheer wit, it's hard to beat those two. But real comedic silliness is rare in costume drama. That's one reason why I love the little-known 1995 film Cold Comfort Farm. You'd think more people would rave about this gem of a comedy. It's got more great British actors than you can shake a stick at: Eileen Atkins, Ian McKellen, Stephen Fry, Kate Beckinsale, Rufus Sewell. It's got period charm, set in the 1930s. And it's funny. Cold Comfort Farm follows a young woman named Flora Poste who has been recently orphaned and left without a steady source of income. Rather than get a job she schemes 26

to put her organizational talents to use by angling for an invitation to stay with some of her many and very eccentric relatives. Flora chooses to accept her aunt Judith Starkadder's invitation to Cold Comfort Farm because unlike the other invitations she receives it sounds “interesting and appalling” instead of just appalling. Once there, the slightly bossy Flora manages to reform ghastly and gothic Cold Comfort Farm into a cheerful and smoothly running operation. And at the same time, she finds useful occupations or romantic matches for its gloomy residents, like Jane Austen's Emma, only with much better success. The original novel was written by Stella Gibbons as a multi-layered parody. The most obvious target is the popular gothic novel in the tradition of Wuthering Heights, but she also alludes to other of her contemporary writers such

as D. H. Lawrence, while mixing in over-the-top purple prose and meta commentary on literature. The two-hour film does a spectacular job of translating the spirit of parody to the screen. In fact, I think the movie has even more fun with it than the book. In keeping with the broad range of satiric ideas, it includes some visual allusions to other dramatic film moments, such as a farewell scene that echoes the end of Gone with the Wind, complete with soaring “Tara's Theme” in the background. And half of the enjoyment is in watching the actors’ expressions and listening to the way they deliver their lines. All of them, many of whom are great British comedians, play their parts perfectly. Ian McKellen is strangely believable as a crazy zealot who delivers all his lines in an angry roar. Stephen Fry is hilarious in a small

part as Mr. Mybug, Flora's obnoxious but harmless stalker. Eileen Atkins plays up the gloomy melodrama with gusto—I don't think she cracks a smile during the entire film, though her role is completely ridiculous and her lines written with overwrought histrionics. Language plays a major part in Cold Comfort Farm's humor but not in the same way as a witty Oscar Wilde one-liner. Instead, this movie tends to use hilarious contrasts, such as between Flora's practical advice and the doom and gloom constantly dispensed by the Starkadders. Stella Gibbons originally wrote made-up words into the supposed country dialect, and I love that the script keeps them intact. It's even funnier when actors like Eileen Atkins deliver them straight-faced. Flora as the central character carries much of the satire, embodying


some contradictory contrasts herself. She has aspirations of becoming a great novelist at the start of the story but the excerpts of her manuscript we hear in voiceovers are deliberately awful. Flora seems unaware of the irony, the contrast between her idealistic approach to writing a novel, and the down-to-earth, mundane advice she gives her Starkadder relatives. One of the funniest scenes is when she orders a new dish mop for the hired help so he won't have to clean the dishes with a twig. She also counters the crazy family matriarch's usual pronouncement of family curses by getting her interested in high society fashion magazines. Part of movie's charm is that in spite of Flora's bossiness and the silliness of the humor, it's easy to identify with her. Haven't we all read an overdramatic book and thought that if only we could sit down with the characters and give them some common-sense advice, the plot would be over quickly and with no needless tragedy? This is exactly what Flora gets to do in Cold Comfort Farm. I have already compared her to Emma Woodhouse. It's an easy comparison, especially given that Kate Beckinsale played Emma,

too. But unlike Emma, Flora doesn't seem to undergo any major character development because the movie focuses on her success rather than her failure at solving everyone else's problems. In itself I suspect this is a sly reversal on the author's part. But when Flora gets her own happy ending, she seems to abandon her sentimental novelwriting mid-sentence. The viewer suspects Flora will always be happier in her neat, tidy, well-organized world rather than the theatricality she writes. I don't know why Cold Comfort Farm isn't more popular. But I suspect it might be partly because it fits into the genre of parody with a mixture of sly satire and overthe-top silliness. In order to appreciate parody you have to be willing to abandon dignity and laugh at the very things you love the most: the dramatic plots, menacing villains, and historic settings of many costume dramas. I for one love the quirky combination. Cold Comfort Farm will always make me laugh. I wish there were more movies like it. â– 27


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love reading classics, and one of my favorite classic authors is Jane Austen. In her writing, I believed I had found literary perfection: witty dialogue between characters, descriptive settings and simple yet deep plots are all present in her books. I have read almost the entirety of her “canon,” as I once heard it called, including her most popular works. I considered it a sort of literary heaven. Yet one day I stumbled on the saga of North and South and my world shifted, so to speak. I first came across the story in the form of the BBC miniseries. It is wellcast and features beautiful cinematography and gorgeous costumes as well as a moving soundtrack. It is set in Industrial England in, as the name suggests, the north and south regions. The story follows the levels of societal conflict and issues of work and class in England at the time, yet also details what could arguably be called one of the greatest fictional love stories ever told. It didn’t take long for me to become captivated by it. Shortly after viewing the series on Netflix I purchased a copy of the DVD and almost immediately after I bought the book. After many hours spent on benches in quiet nooks on my college campus, I completed reading it and continue to be amazed by the depth of

the quality of storytelling to be found in it. In the following, I will try to steer clear of being overlyspecific about the plot, as I think the story is one that ought to be experienced (whether in book or film) with its wonderful sense of mystery intact. I never thought Jane Austen would be challenged in my mind as one of the greatest writers of classical literature, yet Elizabeth Cleighorn Gaskell, the author of North and South, has perhaps more claim to the title. Jane Austen has said to have been critical of her own experience as an authoress, saying she had little claim to be an author because of her lack of life experience. Gaskell, on the other hand, became married at one point in her life, and had a larger scope of life experience. For example, one thing I found interesting about the book is the story allows for the revealing of both the male and female perspectives at different times when it is appropriate. This is something I have never found, or at least not to the same degree, in Austen’s work. It brings a new dimension to the typical nineteenth century novel and gives the reader a greater glimpse into what life was like for people during that time. One instance of this is that we are shown the lifestyles of mill workers and the desperate, and learn how

strikes affected the owners of cotton mills and their employees alike. Gaskell’s broader life experience may be the very factor that allows her book to explore a broad social territory, from the very poor to the prideful aristocrats. Gaskell causes the reader to be transported into a world of fast-paced and slower struggles, in which everyone is striving for some cause or other. Often these take the form of employees pitted against masters or new lines of thought measured against tradition. We get a sense of everyone’s shared humanity and the links between people. Unlike Austen, Gaskell seems to have a more serious pen versus a witty one. In both her book and the BBC production, her overarching seriousness can be appreciated almost more than Austen’s humorous tongue-in-cheek writing style because of the depth it brings to her storytelling. Beyond the seriousness and the eye on social structure included in the story, the depth of character to be found in North and South is unusual. I have read many books written in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and most of them tend to leave you assuming the characters in the novels have at least a nominal Christian faith and attend church, even including

moral themes, however, this novel sets a new standard for blatant inclusion of Christianity. This is not as clear in the series, though it is still present somewhat. In the book, Gaskell goes into detail about prayer, faith, the difficulties and differences of opinion early clergy members faced, and a heavy sense of awareness of one’s wrongdoings; pleasure in right is clear throughout the book. This is something that allows you to get to know the inner workings of each character much more than those of many other nineteenth century novels. Gaskell’s characters are full of faults and follies, but also the desire to do right. Pride and prejudices are present just as in Austen’s work but with a new and perhaps more meaningful potency. Gaskell’s figures possess a kind of gentle strength and determination that somehow seems unusual. They can serve not only as inspiration for a reader’s imagination but might move your heart as well. They may seem to issue you challenges to your integrity, just as a trusted friend, or offer you advice that considers integrity over circumstances. Or perhaps I am the only one who befriends nineteenth century fictional characters. ■

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ne legend has intrigued people for generations: the stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table have been told in many different ways over the years from an animated version about a clumsy boy discovering his true purpose to the heartbreak of a King finding out his finest knight is in love with his wife. These tales often focus on Arthur: who he is, how he became king, or how he deals with being king. In the background but just as much a part of the 30

legend as Arthur is, is Merlin, the mysterious wizard, sometimes funny, sometimes serious, but always powerful and there to help Arthur. One story that is rarely told is the story of Merlin. He’s always there, already powerful and he knows the destiny of Arthur and is helping him toward it. But what if Merlin’s journey was just as difficult and confusing as Arthur’s? In 2008, the BBC aired it’s new series Merlin, about just that. The beauty of the Arthurian legends is there

is no wrong way to tell the story. Though there are certain characters and events that many consider canon, the story lends itself to interpretation. Merlin has many of the same characters and tales familiar to Arthur fans, but they are presented in a fun and creative new way. When the show begins, Merlin is young man still learning to control his magic in a land where it is forbidden and punishable by death. Merlin is sent to Camelot to live with the court physician when his

mother realizes he needs to learn to control his powers. A man who once studied magic as well, Gaius helps train and guide Merlin as he begins to understand his powers. In this version, Arthur is not a child unaware of his heritage but an over confident, arrogant prince ready to blindly follow his father, Uther. Breaking with usual tradition where Arthur is unaware of his heritage until Merlin tells him, this provides an interesting new dynamic between the beliefs of Arthur and his


father, especially as he grapples with his hatred of magic and quick judgment against those who use it The story grows around Merlin meeting Arthur and becoming his servant. The first episode introduces a dragon living beneath the castle who tells Merlin it is his destiny to help Arthur become the greatest King Camelot has ever known, but he can’t do it without Merlin’s help. However, Merlin is none too pleased to learn he must be a part of Arthur’s life. The first season revolves around Merlin and Arthur trying to work together, and more often than not, Arthur getting frustrated with Merlin, and Merlin doubting his destiny to help Arthur. Yet despite their troubles in the beginning, the two eventually grow to become friends, even if Arthur rarely likes to admit it. During all of this, Merlin must continue to protect Arthur, sometimes from outside forces trying to kill him and even at times from the prince’s own stupidity, all without revealing the secret that he’s a wizard. This usually means that Arthur gets all the glory while Merlin must continue to hide in the background

As the series continues we are introduced to the familiar characters of Guinevere, Morgana, Nimueh, Lancelot, Gawain, the Lady of the Lake, and

One unique difference in this version is the fact that Guinevere is a lady’s maid to Morgana, and Morgana a ward of Uther. Guinevere, not being the princess she is

shows like Doctor Who, but with often brilliant and witty writing as well as superb acting from the main cast, this show is a fun and exciting new take on

even Excalibur. Each one enters Arthur’s life and helps him grow and become the King he will one day be, whether they are good or evil. The dragon continues to give Merlin answers in riddles, challenging him to continue to protect Arthur and later providing an interesting twist to the story, leaving the viewer unsure if the dragon’s intentions are good or not.

often portrayed as, adds interesting conflict to the story as Arthur begins to fall in love with her knowing he will never be allowed to marry a servant. Morgana, often portrayed as Arthur’s aunt, is later discovered to be his half-sister and becomes one of the series’ best antagonists. The show at times can be campy, clearly not having the budget of bigger BBC

Arthurian legend. Each episode takes the time to build the relationship between Arthur and Merlin and further bring about the story that will one day be so well known. If you’re a fan of Arthur and looking for an enjoyable take on this legend, Merlin is definitely a show not to miss. ■

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ubtitles have never been my thing. I struggle reading books written in first person, so imagine the focus needed for subtitles! How could I ever watch an entire television show that needed them? That’s what I thought until I stumbled across Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge, based off a manga series. It won me over by the end of the first episode. What started my interest? Maybe since the lead is dazzling and I’m not 32

blind, or the heroine’s tendency to knock out every man in the room because he’s too “bright,” or maybe I was staggered by the idea of love as represented in the series. When do you find agape love in a relationship these days? Our world favors eros so agape is pushed aside. Agape love is selfsacrificing, runs deeper than emotions, and acts in the best interest of someone else even if it means losing something in return.

Takano Kyohei starts off on the wrong foot with severe anger management and intimacy issues. Who can blame him since he’s spent his entire life being chased because of his pretty face. His mother denied him love and he wandered the street since he couldn’t hold down a job and had nowhere else to go. Kyohei stumbles into the lives of three other ikemen who live together at a ritzy mansion run by a lady with a heart of gold. That’s when he is

first shown agape love. The guys go out of their way to make him welcome. He becomes a member of their family and while it doesn’t solve his problems, at least he has “comrades” as Yuki calls them. So he’s taken his first step toward emotional healing. Then Nakaharo Sunako, the landlady’s niece, enters the picture. If she were an attractive and normal girl then Kyohei would never have given her a second thought but she is different!


When Sunako was in high school, she confessed her love to a boy who told her he didn’t like ugly girls. This ruined her self image. She hides from people, wears a black cloak for protection, watches slasher movies, and surrounds herself with the grim and gruesome trappings of horror. Sunako can barely stand to look at any of the guys in the mansion. Every time one of them gets close their good looks compel her to smack her head into theirs just to get them out of her line of sight. This is a switch for Kyohei; a girl who doesn’t like his face, and wishes he was ordinary so she could simply look at him? He can’t escape his good looks and Sunako can’t flee her perceived ugliness. When he sees her face for the first time he realizes her self image is false. Exterior ugliness is not her problem! With her hair pulled back and a little makeup applied, she’s radiant. It is her behavior, her fear and self-loathing that make her ugly and make people afraid of her and she of them. He sees in her a girl who is not ugly because of her looks but because she cannot love herself… just like he cannot love himself. He looks in a mirror and hates himself. He hears the cold voice of his mother calling him a

nuisance and wishing he was never born. Kyohei cannot heal himself just like Sunako cannot heal herself. But together the two learn to care for each other, not based on looks, but in discovering the person under the outside appearance. The biggest question is whether Kyohei is capable of loving someone. No

one ever likes him for who he is, only what he appears to be on the outside, so he withdraws from connecting emotionally to anyone. It hurts less that way. The idea of love is completely foreign to him, yet he runs after Sunako in the night when a precious possession of hers is stolen. While she looks for her doll, Kyohei looks for her. When she is in danger of marrying a truly perverted man, he

fights his way out of a crowd of henchmen to stop the wedding. One night he is so insecure that he clings to Sunako’s arm and pleads with her to stay with him. She doesn’t pull away and

when he wakes up there she is, his head curled against her side, with his hand gently covering hers. He looks at her and sees the gentle person she is inside. Kyohei dreams of her one night. He sees her running, dressed all in red. Evil follows her but his feet are glued to the ground. He struggles and pulls but can’t wrench himself free. He is immobile and mute while Sunako is shot right in front of him. Why can’t

he protect her? It’s because he doesn’t understand that the pressure in his chest, the need to keep her safe, is love; it’s not lust or mere desire but agape love. It’s the love his roommates extended to him when they first met, the love he gave his mother when he offered her forgiveness and she wept in his arms. Kyohei reaches the point in his relationship with Sunako where her safety and happiness are more important than his own life. There is a scene at the end where something clicks in his mind. They’re in a deadly situation and he pleads with an enemy, “If you want to sell her, sell me. If you’re going to shoot her, shoot me instead. I’m begging you not to hurt her!” This is the moment where he graduates to agape love; when it really counts, he doesn’t remain silent. He overcomes the fear of rejection that filled his dream and speaks of his love for her. I not only survived subtitles but found myself reading between the lines to the message underneath! You can mix agape love with romantic love. Isn’t it awesome the two aren’t mutually exclusive? It’s delightful watching Kyohei and Sunako fall in love but their romantic love is made even better by the purer love that came first. The lesson is for people to love themselves and by doing so, learn to love others. Konichiwa! ■ 33


Some call it a masterpiece 34

Others think it’s crap

is it just a sexy head trip

or is it more?


S

ucker Punch is a combination of warfare and psychology set in a highly stylized version of the 1950’s. The story opens with a death. Baby Doll is then sent to an asylum where in five days she will be lobotomized. With Rocket, Sweet Pea, Amber, and Blondie, she devises a plan to escape by retreating into an imaginary world she has created to help her avoid the horror of reality. This film is a reality within a reality and neither of them are real. We are asked to discern the meaning of the false realities, the first a brothel and the second a fantasy realm filled with dark forces Baby Doll and her friends must defeat to escape. One could argue the “first reality” is all in Baby Doll’s mind but I believe it is a shared delusion between her and Sweet Pea that reflects how they feel about being locked up. For Baby Doll the threat of a lobotomy equates to a “mind-rape,” thus the asylum becomes a brothel. Her stepfather assumes the role of an evil priest (someone who should care for her but is perverse and corrupt), and Blue, the manager of the asylum, is a thug threatening her virtue (her mind). There, he has influence over their madam (therapist) but in the actual world is forging her name on medical documents. For Sweet Pea, the brothel is a reflection of her state of mind and each “sacrifice” in

either dream state is meant to represent an incident in the real world—electroshock therapy, heavy medication, or being lobotomized. Because of her lack of self-worth and the abuse she endured at the asylum, she views herself as someone to be used rather than as a warrior. It is this obvious distinguishing factor that sets them apart and ensures one will survive where the other will perish,

It could be that the two realities are separate, that Sweet Pea’s is the first and Baby Doll’s the second. Since the narrative is told by Sweet Pea rather than Baby Doll, this idea is valid and worth considering. A shaman guides them in the fantasy realm and offers rare insights of wisdom, such as his assertion that “if you stand for nothing, you will believe anything.” If he

being Sweet Pea. She offers the girls hope and a way out. She is betrayed and set for execution, but makes a personal sacrifice so Sweet Pea can escape. Blue thinks he has won but his triumph over her becomes his undoing when the truth is revealed. In her own way, Baby Doll defeats him and forever changes the asylum; meanwhile, Sweet Pea is permitted to return to the real world, inferring that those who choose to accept salvation live and those who betray or reject it die or remain enslaved to it. The asylum represents our forced servitude to sin, its routine violations and imprisonment indicating our Fallen state; even the innocent are not entirely innocent (like the therapist). Sweet Pea’s escape is her decision to Believe and Accept, which completes her shift from a Reluctant Follower to someone who has not because of her faults but is a manifestation of Baby Chosen Truth. Other because she is the stronger Doll’s inner-psyche, it characters do not make it all of the two and much more speaks of her desire to fight the way and could be seen capable of self-sacrifice. not only for her life but also as images of our individual Baby Doll is strong but spiritual paths through life: her friends. vulnerable, capable of Rocket as the faithful, One could point out the fighting back but subdued by spiritual symbolism in the Amber as a causality of sin, the stronger forces in her different realities: Baby Doll and Blondie as a betrayer. life (her stepfather, the Finally, there is the message as Jesus, the shaman as a police, and Blue). Her that it is not enough just to Prophet, the brothel as the invention of the second sinful state of mankind, Blue survive the pain thrown our reality represents her inner as the Devil, and the end a way but important to choose self and what she hopes to what we believe and fight state of ascension. Baby become, also how she sees Doll enters a world devoid for it. Existence is not herself, as a leader and enough; we must have a of hope and quickly gains warrior more than capable purpose to truly live. ■ followers, the most of survival. outspoken and reluctant 35


July & Aug 2011: “A Time of War” Any topic between 1930 thru the end of WWII fits in this issue.

COMING SOON Sci-Fi Nazis: What happens when a Time Lord confronts the Daleks in war-torn Great Britain?

Gone With the Wind The book that became an publisher’s dream and the film that brought it to life.

Classic Hollywood How the movies rallied public support for troops overseas.

& much more!

charitystude@gmail.com

- Forced to Rule (The King's Speech) - German Heroes (Valkyrie, Bonhoffer,) - Ghosts in the Hall (From Time to Time) - Depression Pastimes (Seabiscuit or Cinderella Man) - A Life of Courage: Anne Frank - How It Could Have Happened (Inglorious Basterds) - Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day - Fascism & Politics: Upstairs Downstairs - Whodunit? Foyle's War - Popular Authors of the 1930’s

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Femnista May June 2011  

Alice in Wonderland, Water for Elephants, Wild Animal Sanctuary, Camelot, Mad Men, Hogfather, Terri Pratchett, Louisa May Alcott's The Inher...

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