Thursday, December 31, 2009

Movies of 2009

Here are my movies and series that I watched in the second half of 2009, with mini-reviews.
I started the year with Heroes: Season 3, but it was getting so dark I stopped watching. I may go back to it sometime, but it seems like another one of those series that will never let the characters be happy because the writers think we need more and more "tension" to stay interested. There's got to be some hope.
Then I watched The Tudors: Season 1 - Historically interesting, and very racy.
Slumdog Millionaire - good, but not for family.
Titanic (again) - one of my favorites.
Titanic Survivor Stories - Documentary filmed in 1982, when several survivors were alive and related fascinating stories. At the end there's film footage of the actual ship leaving port.
Nights in Rodanthe - Better than I expected, and not as predictable as the trailers led me to believe.
Pride and Prejudice - (again) one of my favorites.
Monkey Business - cute, with all four Marx brothers.
The Great Race - I've always liked Tony Curtis, but this was not as good as I expected. Very campy, Road-Runner type violence/humor, and back when making fun of suffragettes was apparently funny.
Spaceballs - for the first time! light humor.
The Other Boleyn Girl - Quite a different version from The Tudors. Not very happy, but I suppose with those historical events that would be impossible. Intriguing.
Airplane! - for the first time in many years! funny.
Pirates of the Caribbean (again) - a favorite. I tried to add in the "deleted scene" where Elizabeth teaches him the pirate song.
The Importance of Being Earnest (1952) - Entertaining.
The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice - More somber than the first two movies. Enjoyed it.
The Buccaneers - Miniseries based on Edith Wharton's unfinished novel. Interesting, but not sure I would recommend it. Lots of "dark" (unhappy) scenes. I'm told her books were much better.
Saving Grace - Hilarious! (no, this is not some American series. It's an English feature) This tops my list and I would definitely buy a copy.
The Fifth Element (again) - I had forgotten most of the movie. Enjoyable.
Born Yesterday (1950) - A Pygmalion type story. Liked it.
Holiday (1938, K.Hepburn & C.Grant) - Liked it.
Berkeley Square - I recommend this miniseries, much better than The Buccaneers. Some reality and hardship, but it gives hope. And good historical detail; I now know what a footman does!
Home Alone (1st one) - I hadn't seen this in so long I forgot most of it. Funny.
Star Trek (the new one, DVD) - Good enough to watch again.
While You Were Sleeping (again) - My favorite Christmas movie, especially if you're blue.
Timeline - Entertaining, but turn off your reality switch.
Four Christmases - OK, but don't need to watch it again. It's like Christmas Vacation humor, which isn't me. But I didn't realize it had such an all-star cast! 'like the supporting actors.
Sometime in the past few months I watched Serenity and forgot to write it down. Although I had seen it in the theatre, I had since watched the Firefly series so everything had whole new meanings for me. Would like to watch the series and then the movie again.
Ben Hur - Watching this week (not finished). So far, it's awesome!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Character conundrum - Elizabeth English

(spoiler alert!) As I try to write these chapters about young Elizabeth English, my mental image of her gets confused. After my research trip to South Carolina, when I knew her as an old maid aunt of colonial Camden, I pictured her as tall, aloof, light brown hair always tucked neatly under her bonnet. The sailors on the Hitchcock would have noticed her high cheekbones and lovely face.

I somehow forgot that vision during my research trip to Ireland. When I found out that a very young (14-15) Elizabeth ran away and married either a Catholic or Church of Ireland member, I pictured her as petite, with long, black, wavy hair and green eyes.

About this point, my friends usually say, Oh, you know everybody got married young back then. Not my family. Elizabeth's parents, grandparents and aunt didn't marry until their mid-20s at least! That may have been the Quaker influence and not necessarily what the general population did. I gather from the records that Quakers believed in choosing one's own mate as opposed to arranged marriages - but that mate had better be a Friend, and everybody and their brother had to approve the match, a very lengthy process.

Back to my conundrum. I can't seem to write these new scenes without my petite, raven-haired beauty. But practically, those features do not run in my family (except the green eyes), and she would have worn a modest bonnet all the time. Will that image fit into the second book, when she lives the hard life of an American pioneer?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A treasure trove of genealogy books

Have you ever gone to a research library and wished that you could take some of those wonderful books home? Well, the Historical Collection at High Point Library decided to clean out some duplicates and little-used items. They sent out an e-mail, listing books and pamphlets for about $1 to $3. I came home with an armload for $14.50 - woo hoo!

Now, the major family histories and reference books are still safely on the library shelves for me and other researchers. But here's the fun stuff I collected.

The Pirates of Colonial North Carolina - a gift for my cousin, who loves pirate lore.
a short biography of Inglis Fletcher, "Chronicler of North Carolina" (no year)
A Southern View of the Invasion of the Southern States and War of 1861-65 (2nd edition, 1938)
Tracing Your Scottish Ancestry (1991)
The First Hundred Years of Historic Guilford, 1771-1871 - includes photographs of letters and lists Quakers (possibly relatives) who refused to fight.
A Guide to South Carolina Genealogical Research and Records (1991)
When Racing Was Racing - museum publication with photos of people from my town, and autographs
Several issues of "The Southern Friend" - Quaker history. I chose the ones about Cary's Rebellion, the Clayton family (possibly mine), Centre Friends Meeting minutes, farm life, tanning, the Civil War and Clara Cox (our first pastor).

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Advent Calendar - Dec. 24, Christmas Eve

As long as I can remember, my mom's side of the family, the MANESS family, has gotten together for Christmas Eve. Just like Thanksgiving, we have a potluck meal with lots of yummy food. When I was very small, we gathered at Mamaw and Papaw's house, but for many years we have taken turns hosting Christmas Eve at different houses. In 1996 I wrote down what food we had: turkey, stuffing, potato and sweet potato casseroles, artichoke dip, pinto beans, salad, pecan pie "and lots more!"

When my generation was little (school-age), each family branch gave us a gift and got a gift for my grandparents. After we grew up and starting having our own families, we drew names at Thanksgiving to give one nice present on Christmas Eve. Last year, we did away with the present thing. The family has grown and sometimes the name drawn would be almost a stranger. Less stress for the women of the family, who tend to do most of the shopping, and for the breadwinners, who save some money.

Again, when we were little, the church held a cantata and candlelight service late on Christmas Eve. Sometimes we went to the service, but 11pm seemed to feel later and later, and as we stopped going, the church changed to a Sunday morning service the week of Christmas. We had a couple of attempts to incorporate the Christmas story into the family gathering - my little cousin performed his own cantata one year. We enjoyed it, but never kept up with a particular tradition.

In 1992, before I knew about scrapbooking, I bought a Christmas book. Every Christmas Eve, we sign our names in it and write down the big events that happened in our family that year.

We always enjoy being together. Our fourth generation has to leave early to celebrate with in-laws, and some have started staying home with their babies. But many of us stick around just to visit. The women gravitate toward the kitchen with cups of coffee for our "hen party," and the men relax in the living room to talk about hunting or cars.

I think as long as my (3rd) generation is able, we will keep gathering on Christmas Eve. We cherish our time together - and good food! - too much to give it up.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Advent Calendar - Dec. 10, Christmas presents

Today's Geneabloggers Advent Calendar prompt brought back a childhood memory. One Christmas morning, I woke up and went to the living room to find what Santa had left me under the tree. At our house, Santa's gifts were never wrapped, but they were set up, assembled and sort of set out in display style.

My Santa gift that year was a Mission Control Center! I was a big fan of the Six Million Dollar Man, and this little facility had a blow-up, clear dome over a space-age looking cardboard set. You could hook up wires, change out pictures in the display screen - no batteries required, back then!

I don't remember which I got that same year, but over time I acquired the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman dolls, and Oscar Goldman and his exploding briefcase!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

December, already

Whew! I did that thing we think we're too old to do anymore - stay up late almost every night the last part of November! Nanowrimo is over now, but I'm still exhausted. I didn't quite make my goal of 25,000 words, but I met my real goal of adding lots of needed scenes as I revised my draft from Nov. 2008. I finished with just over 20,000 words, and got virtual pats on the back for it being all handwritten. Several people that I met at the coffee-shop write-ins won this year, cranking out 50K on their laptops and Neos - way to go!! And, we drank lots of coffee and had fun.

Now, what? First, I'm trying to catch up on sleep. Second, I'm back to reading. Writing is great, but that fire needs fuel and books are a good source.

Today I saw that Geneabloggers has an idea for people who are writing more about their ancestors than about their own lives: an Advent Calendar of blog prompts. Although I missed Dec. 1, I'm going to answer the one about Christmas trees. Here's a picture version of the calendar.

When I was small, we had one of those aluminum, silver trees. I think we may have hung a few ornaments on it, but it didn't need any extra glitter or sparkle. We had one of those rotating lights that hypnotically turned it into different colors (the 60s version of a lava lamp!). Somewhere in our family's collection is a photograph of me with my "Dancerina" doll, lit only by the red glow of that light.

(The link is to someone else's YouTube video; we didn't have videos back then.)