There are so many reviews of The King's Speech out there that I don't need to write one. However, we loved the movie, which we finally saw today, and we talked about it all evening after getting home from the matinee.
Some random thoughts:
The movie is rated R for language - pretty much one word in repetition. It fits in with the plot and isn't the slightest bit gratuitious. I think Rent used the same word about that many times as a part of normal speech
Back in January, when we first decided to see it, we were trying to find someone for younger son to stay with. I got sick, then younger son, and older son got sick... then younger son got sick again...then dear husband and I both got sick... then (for the last 2 weeks) dear husband had the not-covered-by-the-flu-shot flu. This weekend was cold and rainy, we were all finally well, and older son didn't have a heavy college workload for the weekend. We were going to make sure to see it!
When it first came out, daughter saw it with friends. She said that the plot wasn't the slightest bit R-rated and that the rating was pretty much due to that one word. It's taken me about a month to get used to the idea of taking a 12 yo to a movie rated R, and, given the difficult time I had typing the first part of this sentence, I'm still not used to it.
I wasn't sure what younger son thought of the movie while we were watching, except that he thought the parts with the language were hilarious. It had long, slow, quiet parts. Was he finding it boring? After the credits finished (we always watch the credits), he turned to me with a smile and said that he loved it. It's one of his favorite movies!
The worst part, actually, in terms of ratings, was before the movie. The numerous previews were almost all horror or violence, and almost none of them looked interesting.* At the end of the previews, the lady in front of us said, "Well, there were seven duds!" I almost decided to go out in the hall with younger son, who didn't want to watch the previews and had his hands over his eyes and ears, when they finally had a preview for Hop. That made only six duds as far as we were concerned. I don't know who chose those previews to go before a thoughtful, historical movie, but nobody in the audience seemed to enjoy them.
I hated history when I was in school because it seemed to involve memorizing a lot of disconnected facts and dates (although I loved reading historical novels, and even read historical non-fiction for fun). I didn't realize that I loved history as a subject until I had a wonderful professor in college. He was one of those oft-criticized professors that taught from yellowed notes. What matters is what is in those yellowed notes, which, for him, contained theories about history. There were theories? You could actually think about history?! It was more than memorization!!!
I was determined that my kids wouldn't have that experience. Daughter loves history and has a mind like a steel trap for it. Older son enjoys it, although he doesn't have his sister's recall. What's surprised me is that younger son, who is fascinated by engineering and technology, also loves history... well, except that history is a series of whys and causation, which is right up his alley. I'm happy that they all enjoy it!
We spent an hour before dinner looking up the history behind the movie and the characters and then discussed it all through dinner. Some tidbits:
Albert was born on the same date that his great-grandfather died. In order to make this less sad for his great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, he was named after her late husband.
We wondered what happened to Lionel Logue's sons during the war. I didn't find that out, but they did all survive.
The Wikipedia quotes George V, Albert's father, as saying this about his older sons: "I pray God that my eldest son will never marry and that nothing will come between Bertie and Lilibet (Elizabeth II) and the throne."
Edward was respected for his role in the military during WWI. However, during WWII, as the Wikipedia reports, during his 1937 visit to Germany, he appeared to support Fascism, and Hitler and Speer both thought that Anglo-German relations would have been much closer had he not abdicated.
The Wikipedia was very useful: George V was first cousin to both Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.
The article on the queen consort (more recenly known as the Queen Mum) was one of my favorites. Some quotes:
"Unexpectedly, Elizabeth laid her bouquet at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior on her way into the Abbey; a gesture which every royal bride since has copied, though subsequent brides have chosen to do this on the way back from the altar rather than to it."
"She charmed the public in Fiji when shaking hands with a long line of official guests, as a stray dog walked in on the ceremony and she shook its paw as well."
"During the war, her seemingly indomitable spirit provided moral support to the British public. In recognition of her role as a propaganda tool, Adolf Hitler described her as 'the most dangerous woman in Europe'."
"When Buckingham Palace itself took several hits during the height of the bombing, Elizabeth was able to say, 'I'm glad we've been bombed. It makes me feel I can look the East End in the face.'"
"Sir Hugh Casson said she was like 'a wave breaking on a rock, because although she is sweet and pretty and charming, she also has a basic streak of toughness and tenacity. ... when a wave breaks on a rock, it showers and sparkles with a brilliant play of foam and droplets in the sun, yet beneath is really hard, tough rock, fused, in her case, from strong principles, physical courage and a sense of duty.'"
The performances were all fantastic, and I enjoyed seeing Helena Bonham Carter in a non-psychotic (non Bellatrix-or-Sweeny-Todd) role.
I loved watching the teacher-student interaction between Lionel and the king. Since I've had voice therapy, though mine was for having weak vocal folds which is miles away from stuttering, parts of it felt familiar. Thinking about it further, I really enjoy this sort of interaction - one to one tutor-type interaction. It's the way music lessons usually are so I've had this both with flute and voice. It involves challenge, encouragement, and exhortation - and it's all directed at what you're doing right now so you can focus and improve. After a lesson or a voice therapy session, I end up feeling like I've learned and grown so much - in a way that isn't even in the same ballpark as a regular classroom situation. Classrooms seem so impersonal in comparison.
I don't have the same gift for teaching that my voice or best flute teachers have, but I just realized that what I described in the last section was kind of how we homeschool.
About the movie:
The author, David Seidler suffered from a stammer as a child. Having heard George VI's wartime speech as a child, he (later in his adult life) had written to the Queen Mother asking for permission to use the King's story to create a film. The Queen Mother asked him not to during her lifetime, citing that the memories were too painful. Seidler respected her request. (IMDB)
Queen Elizabeth II, the reigning monarch of the Commonwealth realms and the daughter of King George VI, who as a small girl is portrayed in the film, was sent two copies of the film before Christmas 2010. The Sun newspaper reported she had watched the film in a private screening at Sandringham House. A "palace source" described her reaction as "touched by a moving portrayal of her father". Seidler called the reports "the highest honour" the film could receive. (Wikipedia)
At the climax of the movie, the background music is one of my favorite pieces of Beethovens' - the Second Movement (Allegretto) of the Seventh Symphony. Here is the New York Philharmonic conducted by Pierre Boulez:
* There was a time travel one that looked interesting, though the preview was still too loud and violent.
Before I clicked over to read it, I expected it to tell me that I could finally get rid of my Walkman. (Though someone please explain to me what I'm supposed to do with all of my audio cassettes of mixes I made by taping stuff off the radio. I can't get 1986's "Eat Me I'm a Danish" on iTunes.) But instead of hearing I should toss my '80s technology, I was encouraged to get rid of my desktop computer, point-and-shoot camera, and that USB thumb drive that is currently in my pocket. And my first thought was, you'll have to pry them out of my cold, dead, luddite hands...
I like her.
I don't use my Walkman any more, although it is still in a desk somewhere. I use the tapes all the time, though. I'm not dumping around 200 tapes worth of music! 200 tapes times about 20 songs per tape equals 4000 songs arranged in the order I want them in. I'm not doing all that work over again!
Here's my response to the NYT article (quotes in italics):
DESKTOP COMPUTER Lose it. You may have one now, but are you really going to replace that deskbound PC when it becomes out of date?...
...Assuming you are not a hardcore gamer or a video editor, laptops have all the necessary computing power the average user needs. If you want to replicate that desktop experience, you can always connect your laptop to a larger display and keyboard.
...and a mouse, in which case, why not just keep the desktop?*
CABLE TV Depends...
Except when younger son is sick, we watch very little cable besides Glee and the weather. I hate watching things on the computer, though, so that's not a viable alternative. The comfy chairs are in the living room.
POINT-AND-SHOOT CAMERA Lose it. Yes, a dedicated camera will probably take a better picture than the small lens and image sensor of a smartphone, but it will not be that much better...
My cellphone takes cruddy photos. Even though my Canon point-and-shoot isn't as powerful as my Canon DSLR, I can still make all sorts of adjustments on it. I never use the automatic setting.
...It is hard to share photos until you have transferred them to your computer...
...which is a good idea because at least then you'll (hopefully) notice that your photo NEEDS TO BE ROTATED 90 DEGREES!
I've stopped turning my head sideways to look at people's unrotated Facebook photos. I also "share" less than 1% of my photos on Facebook (I throw out lots of photos, and I'm not inundating my Facebook friends with photos)(that's what blogs are for :)
[Irrelevant Duke Gardens photo at the top]
Perhaps most important, a camera may or may not be close by when a photo-worthy moment arises, but it's very likely that your phone will.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. The camera goes almost everywhere. The phone only goes with me when I'm driving or when I'm expecting a call from older son, daughter or dear husband. It gets left in the car at gardens, museums, hikes, etc. It is a depressing and lonely thing to be my cell phone.
CAMCORDER Lose it.
Never had one. My kids will forever be deprived of video recordings of their lives.
USB THUMB DRIVE Lose it.
Have one. Rarely use it except to move photos between computers.
DIGITAL MUSIC PLAYER Lose it (probably). Do you have a smartphone? Then you have a music player...
I have a really stupid (and cheap, which is the major point) phone. No player.
I'm of two minds with the mp3 player. I put lots of music on it, about 1/3 of our cd collection, when I first got it because I had just had knee surgery and was told to rest a lot. I never got back to adding the other 2/3 of our cd collection, however. I keep intending to, but there are just too many more interesting things to do.
When I was doing lots of physical therapy, I found the mp3 player helped a lot. I also like to use it on walks on rainy days. Now that I'm doing zumba and Jazzercise, however, I don't need to bring my own workout music. It is great for recording voice lessons.
...Apple popularized the music player with its iPod, but when was the last time you saw that iconic white box with the dial on the front?...
This morning at Jazzercise. Instructors use them for the music playlists for their classes.
...Music is data, and many multifunction devices can handle it along with many other kinds of data (like video, e-mail and apps)...
I chose my mp3 player because the sound and fidelity were rated the highest of all (affordable) mp3 players. Even at that, I can tell the difference between the mp3 player sound and the sound from the original cds. I don't listen to the mp3 player in the car any more because of that, and I would never get a docking port to listen at home where I have a real stereo.
ALARM CLOCK Keep it.
Of course. I've had the same one for years. It has a dial for choosing radio stations.
But a recent daylight time glitch in iPhones that fouled up the clock could give some early risers pause.
That's what happens when you depend on others to set your clock.
GPS UNIT Lose it.
Don't have one. Won't have one. I can read maps just fine.
BOOKS Keep them (with one exception). Yes, e-readers are amazing, and yes, they will probably become a more dominant reading platform over time, but consider this about a book: It has a terrific, high-resolution display. It is pretty durable; you could get it a little wet and all would not be lost. It has tremendous battery life. It is often inexpensive enough that, if you misplaced it, you would not be too upset. You can even borrow them free at sites called libraries.
I quoted the whole thing because it made me happy. I may get an e-reader someday when my eyes are really bad and I can't read regular books anymore.
If you think our cd and tape collection are large, you should see our book collection! I make up for that with my limited clothes and makeup collection.
* The portability of a laptop is irrelevant. Like many long-time aerobics instructors, I occasionally have shoulder problems. I try to keep my purse as light as possible, and I would not carry around a laptop.
The only reason I'd want one is so that I could sit in a sunny room in the mornings when I'm on the computer (the desktop is next to a west facing window and doesn't get sun until the afternoon). Occasionally, I consider getting a used, cheap laptop for morning e-mails, Facebook, news, and library renewals, but, really, it would be a self-indulgent use of money. Besides, wanting to go into a sunny room gets me off the computer in the mornings!
I've really been enjoying theater dance this year. Last fall, it was challenging to get back into it after all of my knee problems/surgery, but, the last few months, I've really been able to make some progress. Even if I can't sing much right now, I can still dance. Last fall, I could barely do beginning chaine' turns. Yesterday evening, I did them in a straight line across the floor!* I could also do the 2 chassé, single pas de bourrée then pas de bourrée turn combination which has been challenging me!**
I've been having trouble doing hip things in theater dance and in zumba. No, it's not that I have hip problems. It's just that I'm not that flexible and it doesn't feel natural. I really worked on the hip movements yesterday, and I started getting them!
I also was able to get all the choreography for the dance we've been doing for the last few weeks. I don't remember the last time that I've been able to get all of a dance. I've been making progress in dancing in a way that I wasn't sure I'd even be able to do anymore after the knee problems.
You can't have a class of only one person, though, so the adult theater dance class will probably end next week. The classes have been small all year, but I was the only one yesterday. It was really wonderful of the teacher to teach it even though she only had one student. She's a great teacher - she encourages you and she pushes you to do better. I'll really miss her class.
At least we're going out on a high note. The dance we've been doing for the last few weeks is to Le Jazz Hot, sung by Julie Andrews in the movie musical, Victor/Victoria. It's one of my favorite movies, and Le Jazz Hot is one of my favorite songs from a musical. Here is the movie performance (our choreography doesn't really have anything to do with this choreography, but ours is a lot of fun!):
As much as I love The Sound of Music and The Music Man, this is my favorite movie for both Julie Andrews and Robert Preston. When I first saw this movie in the 80's, having only seen her in sweet roles in The Happiest Millionaire and Cinderella, it was also fun to see Lesley Ann Warren play... well... a bimbo. Everyone is excellent in this movie, which won an Oscar for the music and received nominations for Julie Andrews, Robert Preston, and Lesley Ann Warren.
* It helps that I've been practicing in the pool after I swim laps.
** It helps to do pas de bourrées down empty grocery store aisles.***
*** They were playing a favorite song of mine in the grocery store last Friday. I started doing pas de bourees down the aisle, and younger son smiled and said, "You couldn't resist, could you?!"
[Note: This is a train of though that has gradually unfolded over a few weeks at this point.]
I had an angsty afternoon a few weeks ago. I was at a social event, and I failed at small talk - or, at least, that's how I felt at the time. Those of you who know me on Facebook might have seen the long discussion.
Anyway, I felt really bad about how the event went, and, like always, I blamed it on myself. I got interrupted a few times, and I felt that I came across very blandly and didn't contribute anything to the conversation (though I did have a few good conversations with individuals after the event was over).
One of my friends on Facebook, near the end of the online discussion, mentioned that it sounded like those I was talking with weren't necessarily good at small talk either.
Ding! Light bulb moment!
Interrupting isn't good conversation. Emphasizing resumes isn't either. There was very definitely a strong trend, at this event, of mentioning all advanced degrees, universities, and jobs. My college background is rather... dense (5 universities (only 2 degrees)), my graduate degree is unusual, and I don't usually bother to mention either. Homeschooling isn't the sort of thing that will impress people. Quite frankly, I got the impression that I was interruptable because I homeschool and didn't display an impressive resume.
A few days later, I finally got to the point where I was happy for the few side conversations that went well, and stopped worrying about the rest. Overall, it obviously wasn't my kind of atmosphere.
On my way to dance this evening, I started thinking about it again. That's where the title of this post comes from. Why did I initially judge myself as failing when, really, I was in a situation where I didn't value what many people there seemed to value?
This is an ongoing thing for me. In any interaction or activity, if it doesn't go well, I blame myself. As in this case, I can only do as well as what I have to work with. It can take me a while to recognize this, though.
Also, often what I beat myself up about failing at, on further thought, turns out to be something that I don't value as much as other people do.
I'm not all that impressed by prestigious jobs or universities.* They don't really tell me much about a person. I'm interested in what people care about - what they're passionate about. To me, that's what defines a person.
Not only that, but people who define others by their resumes can irritate me. Once, someone, trying to compliment me, said that I must be pretty smart since I had a graduate degree. Unfortunately, rather than feel complimented, I just got angry both at the implication that degrees are the measure of intelligence and the insult that that attitude points at my friends and relatives who don't have graduate or doctoral degrees. One of our best friends didn't have a chance to go beyond high school. He's one of the most interesting, questioning, think-outside-of-the-box people we've ever known.
I went a step further in my thoughts during Theater Dance class today. The teacher danced in New York City. With this background, she could feel that our class - adult beginners - was way below her. She doesn't, though. She's focused and encouraging no matter how small the class or inexperienced the dancer. The same is true with the community theater group we're involved with. No matter how much experience the directors have, they're very encouraging to total beginners (like me).
Really good encouragers, and people who are able to open up their communities** and invite*** - they impress me!
* Also I went to one so impressing me with a prestigious university doesn't work.
** Something which our outside-the-box friend excels at.
*** The person that impressed me the most at this event, for obvious reasons, was the one who deftly and gracefully turned the conversation back to me after I was interrupted the second time.
I see the moon Up over my head It's full, and it's round, And it shines on my bed. And I wonder someday Will I live there instead On the cheek of my friend the moon?...
I See the Moon was one of my favorite songs to sing to my kids when they were little (okay, I still love to sing it to myself). Sally Rogers was one of the first singers we discovered when we started liking current folk music. I love the lilt of this song, the melody, and the harmonies.
I'm enjoying the warm weather so much. This evening, I sat in the court and talked with neighbors while the beautiful moon rose above us.
The next few days, it's supposed to be cloudy and sometimes rainy. This morning, OTOH, was beautifully sunny and in the mid-60's - a good day to wander around outside! I gave younger son the choice, and he decided that he'd like to wander in downtown Chapel Hill. All the early flowering trees (cherries, etc.) were in full bloom, and it was beautiful.
[No photos. We were too busy talking. I only brought my small camera, and I never got it out.]
We hadn't been to the Coker Arboretum in a while so he really wanted to go there. The daffodils and many of the early wildflowers were in bloom. We walked into the middle of a tall group of lonicera fragrantissima bushes. The smell was so sweet in there! The Coker Arboretum isn't all that large (5.3 acres), and, since we stayed there for quite a while, we ended up on the same paths again while we were talking.
We headed down Franklin St., and ended up at the new (okay, it's been there for a few months, but it's new to us) Krispy Kreme store. Younger son had never been interested in doughnuts until about five years ago when we went to the Krispy Kreme store near the science museum in Raleigh.* He was a quick convert, and he's been wanting to go try the Chapel Hill store.
In the Raleigh store, if you get there at the right time, you can watch the whole process of making doughnuts. The day we were there, they were making doughnut holes, which have a tendency to get caught in parts of the machinery.
At the Chapel Hill store, you just watch the end part of the process. They took some mostly-made doughnuts, and put them on the conveyor belt through the machine for three minutes. Younger son joked that it was very suspenseful. As the doughnuts were coming towards the curtain of falling glaze, one of the two college students behind us said, "It's a waterfall of happiness!"
Here's a video of how they make them. The whole video shows what they do at the Raleigh store. The part we saw in Chapel Hill starts at about 40 seconds.
Younger son had a hot doughnut off the belt. I had a chocolate glazed doughnut from the case. I don't care for boxed doughnuts in the grocery store - they're too stiff. OTOH, it's just as well that I don't usually end up near the Chapel Hill store where they're fresh and smooth.
We wandered on down Franklin St., and it was starting to get rather toasty compared to the weather we've had lately. We ended up at Chapel Hill Comics which is one of my favorite stores. I never know what I'm going to find there. They mostly have graphic novels (which I like) and comics (which I'm not so interested in), but there are other things here and there - e.g. other books, interesting stuffed animals, and Piperoids (pipe robots to put together) (right) (which were a hit last Christmas). They were having a buy two books get one free sale. We got two free books!
By the time we got back to the car and headed to the Carr Mill mall (a converted cotton mill) to get groceries, it was starting to feel hot. I'm not ready for that yet; I still feel like winter just ended (:::she writes while sitting in a tank top and shorts:::).
We stopped at the Ali Cat toy store to browse (because you can't go to the Carr Mill mall with a 12 yo boy and not go there) before getting groceries, and we stopped at Southern States to get seeds and some plants (snapdragons and thrift) after (because you can't go to Carrboro with me and not stop there...).
By the time we got home, I was done being outside for a while. The high this afternoon was somewhere in the low to mid-80's, which is too hot for March! I did head back outside in the early evening to talk to neighbors, and, after dinner, we watched the new Wallace and Gromit DVD, A Matter of Loaf and Death:
I don't usually just write a post about how the day went, but I had the title, "A waterfall of happiness," and I had to write something to go with it!
I'm also glad that, currently, our schedule is such that we can take a day like this and wander around!
I had a wonderful time this last week; older son and daughter were home on spring break, and dear husband took the week off. We had a good half week in Charleston and Folly Beach. The sun is back, the daffodils are blooming, and today we even get an extra hour of evening sunlight! We'll see daughter again in three weeks when we go to Asheville to see her dance in the Spring Dance Concert (she's leading one of the dances too).
After she left, dear husband and I went for a walk and then came back and stretched. I really thought I was fine, but after going upstairs for a minute, I came back down for lunch in tears. When dear husband and younger son looked at me questioningly, I said, "She left."
Younger son picked up Lina kitty and handed her to me for comfort.
[Pictured: Lina "meatloafing" on dear husband while he stretches.]
[Note: OTOH, Tamlin (boy kitty) has been a bit more psycho than usual this week. We all left him! He alternately follows people around demanding their attention (older son, daughter, and dear husband) or whacks people for no apparent reason whatsoever (me).]