Month: September 2014

Treat yo self, and while you are at it treat someone else as well

When I was a kid I had a board game called Séance. The players are all the nieces and nephews of Old Uncle Everett who passed on and left the bulk of his estate to his parrot Zeke, kind of like Leona Helmsley, only unlike little dogs, parrots live forever and probably do need a lot of money to get by on. Weird Uncle Everett leaves his nieces and nephews some money and the chance to get more if they all come to his scary mansion for a séance where he will give further instructions from the great beyond on how to do so.

In Séance you set up a room and I think some of it glowed in the dark, but I could be making that part up since it was a long time ago and it makes it sound more interesting. There was a big plastic table you assembled that had a button you pressed in order to get Uncle Everett to speak when it was your turn to find out what your move was to be. It had a bunch of canned sayings, most of which either put you ahead or put you behind and one that essentially meant you had no turn because you got this, “Nothing is sure in life but death and taxes”, it was kind of like getting the dud was supposed to be in Mystery Date, but since we all thought he was the cutest one it was not. I hated getting that saying when it was my turn. It made life and the future seem bleak and I did not get any valuable possessions to sell for more money and that was the whole point of the game. I really loved Séance and as an only child (sort of) I often times played it with my dog or the cat or by myself if neither of them were down with it. Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do when you are the only person in the house under forty whose dad thinks Cribbage is fun for children. Let me tell you it’s not, but Séance or Mystery Date sure were.

There is WAY more to life than death and taxes!

There is WAY more to life than death and taxes!

I did not want to imagine life to be nothing but death (duh) and taxes (how else do you pay for stuff like schools, parks and cops?). Even my ten-year-old self figured there was a lot more fun stuff in life than boring stuff. One of the best things about being an adult with your own money is you get to decide just what you want to spend it on, within reason of course since we all have bills to pay. Just like Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle from Parks and Rec, sometimes you just have to treat yo self, whether you had a bad day or a good day, or you just feel like it because life is far too short to only think about death and taxes.

 

Bodywork: no, we are not talking about cars here, or CrossFit or even plastic surgery, Botox on the other hand someday, maybe. Manicures (not so much my thing), pedicures (much more my thing) massage (yes please) and facials (mega yes please) are an excellent way to treat yo self. Whatever floats your proverbial boat, body work does your body good and it is not just me saying that. No less medical authorities than the Mayo Clinic and Emory University have done studies that say the very same thing. Human touch can help relieve stress and anxiety and I only wish my health insurance paid for it so I could go more often.

I really, really love facials, but they are spendy. I try to spread the body work love around but since I am neither an heiress nor a trust fund kid I try to use the very best products I can find in between facial appointments. Truth be told, before I turn into the female equivalent of Old Uncle Everett, I am going to fight the aging process with every conceivable weapon available to my middle-class means. Skin care products can be ridiculously expensive, like say La Mer or even more moderately so like Sisley, but there are other options out there that are not only heaps cheaper (yeah!) but also superior in quality, and they don’t test on animals which is a deal breaker in my book no matter how hard I am fighting gravity.
The Lady Cassandra says "moisturize me!"

The Lady Cassandra says “moisturize me!”

Now I have what could be called troublesome skin, much like a juvenile delinquent, the simplest thing can set it off down a bad path so I am not big on experimentation because once you are a grown up you can’t stay home from work because a bump appeared on your chin. Nope you have to suck it up and go in and pretend that it isn’t there even though you and everybody else on the planet damn well knows it is. So I tried Good Karma Skincare with more than a little bit of trepidation and am pleased to say that not only were there no awkward I-don’t-see-it-if-you don’t-see-it-moments with my co-workers or elevator mates but it also smelled heavenly and felt luxurious and that it precisely what treat yo self is all about.

I test drove all the products in their Lux 7 kit, using the four-in-one cream instead of the oil. Chemical-free, cruelty-free and in the grand scheme of skin care products you don’t need to be an heiress or a trust fund kid to buy it. And since we are also advocating treating someone else as well as yo self, it is worth mentioning that GKS donates a portion of every purchase towards providing meals to animals in shelters awaiting their forever homes.

Treat your skin and feed a puppy. Tom Hardy would approve.

Treat your skin and feed a puppy. Tom Hardy would approve.

 

Leave the country: and no, spring break at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico does not count (but props to you if you have done that, Mexico is awesome), nor does any location in Canada count, except maybe Montreal or someplace in Quebec, but only if they speak French and are rude to you. The point is to go some place else and even if it is an English-speaking country and it seems pretty much the same it really isn’t and the longer you stay the more that will become true. Go to the grocery store, take public transport, don’t stay at an American hotel, eat KFC or only go to the usual tourist-y attractions. The point is to experience a different way of living if only for a little while.

Truth be told, I never really realized how very American I was until I went to another country, Ireland to be exact. My family heritage is seventy-five percent Irish, and that heritage was celebrated and not by getting drunk on St. Patrick’s Day either. In fact we never had liquor in the house, except weirdly a bottle of Mogen David that was in our fridge for years–not exactly sure why, but I did grow up in a predominantly Jewish town and my mother probably thought she was just blending in with the neighbors.

It took spending part of a summer in college in Ireland for me to find out just how very American I was and that was not a bad thing to know. I would have figured it out no matter where I went but the fact that is was Ireland was a shocking revelation to my seventy-five person Irish-American self. I had a great time, the people were lovely, the food and the weather were meh but I would not have changed a thing except for maybe that time we chased George Michael down Grafton Street but it was the 80’s and he was at his hotness peak so on second thought no, I for sure would not change a thing. Finding out you are American and what exactly that means to you is invaluable. This does not mean you all of a sudden become a cheerleader for ‘Murica and start watching Fox News. Nor does it mean you get to come back and be a pretentious twat and start  every conversation with “When I was in Prague “. Don’t be that guy.

 

Great Footwear: before you leave the country it might not be a bad idea to think about some good walking shoes. Nothing ruins a vacation more than not being able to enjoy it because your feet hurt and the shoes that didn’t bother you in one whit in America all of a sudden bother you big time in another country and you have blisters the size of quarters and the very thought of walking another step seems impossible. Been there, done that, don’t ever want to do it again. Between bad trip experiences and my feet just not being able to take wearing the towering platforms that have been my friend since sophomore year of high school,  good supportive shoes have become my saviour. Having always liked borderline ugly shoes to begin with, the transition to MBTs was pretty easy for me. I have worn these shoes and walked all over NYC, from the Upper East Side to downtown to Battery Park and I could have kept going on until Jersey as far as my feet were concerned, but for my head, not so much. The simple fact is with a pedicure and good pair of walking shoes, no matter how ugly, you can go just about anywhere you want.

The shoes were made for walking, and that's just what you'll do

The shoes were made for walking, and that’s just what you’ll do

 

 

Treat someone else: I am not sure I 100% agree with the saying that it is better to give than to receive, because it kind of depends on what you are getting but I understand the sentiment. Sometimes if you can make someone else very happy it does come awfully close to getting something really good yourself. Way back in the 90’s there was this girl group from Britain that a certainly little someone in my life really loved. She had all the CDs and the dolls (which all looked abysmal because she thought they were bath toys) and when they came on their one and only US tour she really wanted to go. So a friend and I got up super early and went to a ticket location at a grocery store in a tiny town because we figured it would be the best way to emerge victorious with tickets for the show which was destined to sell out quickly as these things do. Months later when we went to the show and the lights came up and the Spice Girls, minus Ginger (who had to be a jerk and quit because she very mistakenly thought she could do better on her own), the look of pure joy on that cute little face made me realize that yeah, sometimes it is better to give than to receive. Despite the show starting late, the constant high-pitched screaming of thousands of ‘tween girls and poor deluded Ginger not being there, it was a blast. By the way, Victoria “Posh” Beckham will always be my favorite Spice Girl. She might not sing that great, and you could practically see her counting her steps out loud as she danced her little heart out that night, but man she looked FIERCE while doing it.

 

Totally worth it–the life edition

I am a Taurus and like all Taurus’s we like material things much more than say the average Gemini or Scorpio. Taureans like to buy stuff, functional stuff, not so functional stuff, just a whole lot of stuff. When we find something that we want we generally have to have it sooner rather than later which is why none of us is named Warren Buffet, because while we are excellent at finding things to buy, for ourselves and even for other people, some of us are not so excellent at saving money to do so. I honestly can’t remember a time when there wasn’t something I wanted to have which currently is a rather pricey hair dryer, and given my poor track record with hair dryers is probably not a very good investment. I am intrigued though and that is not a good sign for my checking account.

The fact that there are so very many things out there to want kind of makes life worth living, in fact, if there ever comes a day that I don’t want something in the future than I am either brain-dead or dead-dead because that is precisely what keeps me going. There are many barriers to wanting many things, money being the biggest. Adding to that problem is that given the choice between say a passable, okay version of whatever I might want or the super-duper deluxe version I am pretty much going to want the latter. This started for me at a very young age. One of my earliest memories involves a red velvet coat with mink trim (no judging, I was only three years old), that was at a local department store, the one my father worked for so we got a discount (I learned to calculate 25% off  before I could read) and I remember being pretty upset when it seemed like they were trying to fob off an inferior coat on me. Long story short I got the one I wanted and wore it until I outgrew it and my mother gave it away. Since then there have been many metaphorical red velvet coats with mink trims in my life, some of which I though I would share because they are totally worth checking out. Not all of them are even expensive, but even if they do cost a bit more than their cheaper counterparts, they are better built, better looking and also a much better investment in the long run. Just not the type of investment Mr. Buffet probably recommends.

Loyal, artistic, independent, materialistic but only in a good way

Loyal, artistic, independent, materialistic and just a little stubborn when need be

Sonic Care Toothbrush: My Sonicare toothbrush and I go way back, in fact I can’t even remember how long I have had it, which only goes to prove that while it costs more than a regular electric toothbrush it is worth it. Mine hasn’t been able to hold a charge properly for about a year and now it can’t even make it through a two minute toothbrushing cycle without pooping out on me so it’s only a matter of days before it goes to that great big toothbrush heaven in the sky and I will be super sad because I can’t possibly live without my Sonicare.  That is not even me being all overly dramatic and all because if you ask any hygienist or dentist they will rave about Sonicare toothbrushes too. Did you know that human teeth were only designed to last about forty years, since that was about how long humans used to last before modern medicine, education and science practically doubled our life expectancy? Since forty is in my rear-view mirror I am not taking any chances and a new Sonicare is in my very near future.

There should be an adult version of the tooth fairy for these kind of things. Unless that is what my FSA is for?

There should be an adult version of the tooth fairy for this.

In the years since I bought my last one, the Sonicare offerings have become much more plentiful and even more impressive with prices running the gamut from the not-so-bad to the OMFG that much money for a toothbrush price range. But I swear they are worth it and since I am not really prone to cavities I have to be all worried about my gums and these toothbrushes can be your ally in the fight against the horrors of periodontal disease or your teeth expiring way before you do which would be majorly uncool. Now I just have to decide if I want the one with the UV sanitizer (one less thing for me to clean) or the Diamond one (more attractive but more expensive), hmm, it’s like the Sophie’s choice of toothbrushes. All I know is whichever one I end up with, one thing is for sure, I am going to accessorize the heck out of it.

Tiny Wigs – watch more funny videos

 

Fitbit: Yes it’s true, my Fitbit and I just recently celebrated our first anniversary and what a glorious year it has been. I am not sure what we are getting each other to celebrate (no cake or ice cream, please), but I am sure that this relationship is forever, no more unreliable bad boyfriend-like pedometers for me. The Fitbit was practically invented for people like me who are known to be a bit competitive and slightly obsessive. If I don’t get at least ten thousand steps in a day I will run around my house like a crazy person freaking out all the animals who can only assume that a tornado is imminent (we have practiced this when the sirens have gone off but the cats don’t cooperate and are not even nice about being saved so in the unlikely event there ever is an actual tornado they are on their own, like this kitty). I am not quite to the David Sedaris level of Fitbit crazy, I think the most I have ever had logged in one day was 23,000 and half of those  were done while I was terrified walking across hanging bridges in the Costa Rican rain forest, something I will NEVER do again. The hanging bridges that is, not Costa Rica, I would go back there in a heartbeat but next time I will keep my feet firmly planted on the ground, not swaying in the breeze thousand of feet above certain death.

 

Dualit Toaster: Never underestimate the power of good toast, and while you are at it never underestimate the beauty of a good-looking toaster. Sure, there are about as many toasters to choose from in the marketplace as a certain Minnesota football player with the initials AP appears to have children (roughly a thousand), but there is only one truly gorgeous toaster in the world and it will set you back a bit, $250 to be exact, However, just like Stonehenge, the MINI Cooper and Tom Hardy, there are just some things design-wise that the British do better than anyone else and the Dualit toaster is one of them.

How much for Tom Hardy AND a puppy?

Perfection. The puppy is not bad either

One of my friend’s father was very particular about his toast and would routinely send it back at restaurants if it was not up to his standards. He wasn’t rude about it, he just had toast expectations which I think we all do. Some people like their toast barely toasted, some people like theirs charred (I like mine somewhere in between) but no matter, this baby can handle anything, even bagels and other super chubby bread products, no problem. I have had mine for ten years and it still looks brand spanking new. If its good enough for the Barefoot Contessa it is good enough for you too.

Definitely cheaper than Tom Hardy but probably more expensive than the pitty

A little bit spendy but a whole lot of sexy

 

Madewell High Riser Jeans: shopping for jeans is not the most fun thing in the world to do and while perhaps not as self-deflating as swimsuit shopping can be it nonetheless requires a certain mindset. For the last decade or so the only jeans you could find were low rise, sometimes so ridiculously low that the zippers were about two inches long. Now there are only a few people in the world of billions who look good in those kind of jeans and none of them is named me. I don’t care what you weigh low-rise jean gives most people, even skinny ones, muffin tops. I am kinda short but I have a long waist and absolutely none of those jeans ever felt very comfortable to me. Really it’s no wonder people dress like slobs on airplanes these days, tiny space + uncomfortable pants = very low fashionability.

Low rise jeans were the bane of my existence and while they have gotten a bit less low over the years, they still were not my idea of perfection. That is until I got one of the seventeen emails a day I get from Madewel that said they had new high riser jeans. I was intrigued, could these new jeans actually come within the same area code of my belly button? I went to Madewell the very next day and tried on the Alley Straight High Riser jeans even though it was still hot out and I was not even remotely ready for fall let alone jean wearing weather.

Man, I have legs for miles in these things!

Man, I have legs for miles in these things!*

For the first time in forever I put on a pair of jeans that not only fit but were also super comfortable, it was like jean nirvana had finally been achieved. I hate to admit I have spent more on jeans than these cost me ($128) but I would rather not pay that much again so here is a tip for you, Madewell will give you $20 off a new pair of their jeans if you bring in an old pair of yours for them to recycle into insulation. They can be as low-rise and as ratty as you currently have shoved in a closet somewhere so while the low-risers might not have been very good at keeping your bottom warm they will soon turn into something that will keep multiple bottoms warm. And that my friend is a very good thing.

 

Roku: As you can tell by the amount of blog posts dedicated to non-American episodic television shows I am a major streaming queen. In a pinch I have watched shows on my phone (desperate), on my computer (less desperate, still not ideal) but I much prefer to use a Roku. Call me old-fashioned but I prefer to watch TV on a TV. I liked my original Roku so very much that I bought a second one when I replaced my big old tube TV this summer.

1000+ channels? What are you waiting for!

1000+ channels? What are you waiting for!

One of the nicest things about Rokus is that you can pick and choose from a bunch of different channels, some for pay and some for free. Lots of basic cable channels have their own Roku channels as well as PBS (Downton Abbey fans will love that feature), and there are also some obscure quirky little channels where you can find things you can’t on Amazon or Netflix. The new streaming stick is super cheap, less than fifty bucks ($49.99) which is pretty reasonable and half the cost of Apple TV, which I still want in the near future though so I can get rid of the great Satan in my house otherwise known as Comcast.

Replacements: twenty plus years and 150% worth the wait. Yes, it was a not-so-balmy 52 degrees out and there were now two replacement Replacements since I last saw them but that did not matter to me, the band or the other 13,999 people at Midway. The ‘Mats were so good that even if I would have had to pay a scalper to be there (which I did not), it would have been worth every penny and a privilege to do so, which is why if they ever play another show I highly recommend you attend.

 

 * not really Oh-Amy’s legs in Madewell jeans, but she can dream, can’t she?

Five period dramas to give you the vapours*–and none of them are called Downton Abbey

Since I have made slightly disparaging remarks about Downton in my last two posts (counting this one), I thought I should explain why. As someone who has pretty much watched every series on Masterpiece Theatre since the 80’s I can easily say that there have been at least a hundred shows that were ten times better than Downton Abbey in just about every respect, yet Downton is the one that seems to get all the hoopla. Downton is like the Marcia, Marcia, Marcia of PBS and every other show is slighted middle child Jan who has to make up fake boyfriends to get attention when she shouldn’t have to because she is actually the superior sister like just about every other offering from PBS. Honestly, Downton is one of their weakest shows despite Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess and Isis the lab (her kidnapping scenes were heart-breaking) out actress-ing everyone else on the show, in particular former Oscar contender Elizabeth McGovern. (a best supporting actress nominee, really?) Without even taxing myself I can think of five other PBS mini-series that beat Downton by a mile, at least in my book.

 

Lady Edith, have you been time traveling again?

Lady Edith, have you been time traveling again?

 

North & South: no, not the cheesy one from the mid-80’s with Kirstie Alley  (always the mark of a high quality production) and Patrick Swayze (RIP). Believe it or not there are other countries who also have their own version of the Mason/Dixon line and this one happens to be in England (although I am not sure where that imaginary line dividing north and south is), but no matter because this North & South is from the BBC based on the Elizabeth Gaskell novel of the same name and stars Daniela Denby-Ashe as Margaret Hale, a woman originally from the more sophisticated south who moves to the not as chic industrial north because her reverend father left the Church of England and was essentially run out-of-town for being a nonconformist (i.e. heathen–how very American Bible Belt of them) and takes the family to a mill town in the north. Her father becomes a private tutor and starts book learning the local mill owner John Thornton, played by Richard Armitage.

Just like in Pride & Prejudice, Margaret and John get off to a bad start and it only goes downhill from there. Of course John Thornton isn’t really a bad guy (just a proud misunderstood man trying to improve both production and the lives of his mill workers), and Margaret Hale is really not that sweet even though she does charitable work and ends up being friends with a doomed dying girl (Anna Maxwell) and her father, the one and only Mr. Bates himself (Brendan Coyle) although in this series he is called Nicholas Higgins and he is the north of England’s own Norma Rae but in male attire.

Hotter than a hobbit has a right to be

Hotter than a hobbit has a right to be

When Ms.Denby-Ashe was on EastEnders her character Sarah was beyond annoying so initially I had a hard time letting go of that bias but by the end even I was rooting for Margaret and John to get it together. This show pretty much launched Richard Armitage’s career, but he really needs to go back to being a spy, he was dead sexy as Lucas North on MI-5** or even a love-sick jerk like Guy of Gisborne in the BBC version of Robin Hood. He looks way better with long hair and guyliner than as a singing dwarf in those Hobbit movies. (Netflix)

 

 

Persuasion: The 1995 Ciaran Hinds/Amanda Root version is the one I usually think when I think of filmed versions of this Jane Austen novel but PBS did a bang up job of it as well back in 2007 and since it stars Rupert Penry-Jones, (aka Adam Carter, the hottest Spook from MI-5 known to man, sorry Richard Armitage, you’re a close second though) and the theme of this post is PBS shows BETTER than Downton, we will stick to this one. That being said, the 1995 theatrical version is pretty swoon-worthy in and of itself so I recommend watching both.

Girl, what were you thinking?

Girl, what were you thinking?

The story is typical Jane Austen fare which is why it is so freaking fabulous. Anne Elliott (Sally Hawkins) is the lead female character who eight years prior broke her engagement to naval officer Frederick Wentworth (silly silly woman), because her snobby awful family thought he was socially inferior and a poor to boot so Anne foolishly dumped him. Eight years later their paths cross again and guess who shows up at the high school reunion (Bath, actually, but sort of the same thing) all rich and fabulous and on the prowl for a lady to call his own? Why if you guessed CAPTAIN  (he got promoted in those eight years) Freddy Wentworth then you know exactly how Jane Austen novels work and how she handsomely rewards the previously snubbed/less wealthy on a regular basis. And now guess who is poor as a proverbial church mouse because their snobby awful father (Giles from Buffy) lost all their family money AND home? If you guess Anne and her snobby awful family then you probably have read an Austen novel or two. Austen bonus points if you also guessed that Captain Wentworth is now living in said lost home. (God, I love Jane Austen, she was such a righteous bitch to those who deserved it.)

Only Anne isn’t awful and snobby like her family and we the audience are left rooting for her to get her groove back before she turns thirty. Only Freddy is a bit of a grudge holder and is now the one holding all the love cards in this messed up deck of romance. Will Anne’s innate goodness and lack of bitterness win Freddy’s heart once again? Is there really any question? But watching that unfold is lovely. (Amazon for purchase only but shows up on PBS sporadically, the movie can be found on Amazon Instant)

 

 

Midlemarch: remember that brief time period back in the early 90’s when Rufus Sewell was seemingly everywhere and seemed destined for Hollywood heart-throb status? Well, it doesn’t really matter if you don’t because that never quite happened for him which is too bad because he is so very good in this adaptation of George Eliot’s novel. Dorothea Brooke (Juliet Aubrey) is an idealistic, wealthy, educated do-gooder in a time and place when women like her were supposed to just get married and start producing heirs. But instead of marrying the boy next door like everyone thought she would, Dorothea marries a much older man, Edward Casaubon, who considers himself a great intellect and aspiring author with whom she could share her deep thoughts with. After the honeymoon is over Dorothea finds out that shit ain’t gonna happen and like so many women before her realizes what a bitter disappointment marriage is for a lady with ambitions. Disappointing husband does have a younger, infinitely more attractive cousin named Will Ladislaw and that is where Mr. Sewell enters the picture. Old cranky pants husband notices their mutual attraction and before he dies makes a will that expressly forbids Dorothea from inheriting his fortune if she ever hooks up with cuter cousin. Bastard.

Cute and artistic to boot

Cute and artistic to boot

Tons of other characters with their own trials and tribulations also appear but let’s face it, the real story here is will Dorothea give up her inheritance for love? Hmm, loads of money or Rufus Sewell at his cuteness peak? I know what I would do in that situation and it is not what Dorothea does. You will have to watch to find out which is which. (Netflix)

 

 

Forsyte Saga: I loved this 2002 adaptation so much when the first part aired I had to read the book, no small undertaking since it is three John Galsworthy novels in one and about eleventy billion pages. You could probably just watch the mini series and call it a day, unless you like to read LONG stories like Bleak House or War and Peace which I normally don’t but I was that sucked in. Set out over the course of decades, the Forsyte Saga is the story of two cousins (again) Soames (Damian Lewis)  and Jolyon Forsyte (Rupert Graves). Soames is a man of property and just wants to own things and people, in particular the lovely Irene (pronounced Irenie and played by Gina McKee) who does become his wife. Big mistake Irene, big mistake. Not only does Soames want to possess Irene, he wants to get her the hell out of London and isolate her from all her friends and family, which is never a good sign in a life partner. Because Soames is such an abysmal husband Irene falls for the architect building her new, not-in-London marital home, who also just happens to be a friend’s fiance and just when you think that things can’t get any worse for Irene they do, they really do.

I honestly have not been able to trust Damian Lewis in any other role (including real life) since this show aired. Someone that good at being an asshole is perhaps not that good at acting? In fact the minute I saw his face as Brody in Homeland I knew he was going to be trouble. Damian Lewis could play St. Francis, the best saint in all of sainthood (patron of the animals), and I still wouldn’t let him anywhere near my dog, ever. He is one scary ginger.

Definitely not anyone's idea of a pet sitter

Definitely not anyone’s idea of a pet sitter

After one final showdown between the two of them Irene leaves but Soame’s refuses to give her a divorce and accuses her of having an affair with the already somewhat disgraced cousin Jolyon (who had ran off years before with his daughter’s nanny). This is not true initially but eventually becomes true which I am sure made family holidays more than a little trying. Soames continues to be a major pain in everyone’s backside until he meets a young French woman and finally agrees to a divorce. Irene goes on to marry Jolyon, they have a son Jon, while  Soames marries the French woman and they have a daughter Fleur, and from there on you can pretty much guess what happens in the third series. It’s like Romeo and Juliette all over again. (Netflix)

 

Brideshead Revisited: Quite possibly the best mini series PBS ever aired (and it’s not just me saying that), this 1982 adaptation is the granddaddy of them all starring a slew of British actors from Jeremy Irons in his break-out role as Charles Ryder to Lawrence Olivier and Claire Bloom (the Doctor’s mother in The End of Time) as the estranged Lord and Lady Marchmain and John Gielgud as Charles’s sardonic scamp of a dad. Evelyn Waugh’s novel tells the story of the well and truly messed up aristocratic Flyte family as told by Charles. Mister Ryder first meets Lord Sebastian Flyte (Anthony Andrews) at Oxford where both are students after a late night puking episode and just who hasn’t met a future BFF or two after a similar college experience? It’s a bonding thing not just reserved for girls. The teddy-bear-toting Sebastian (teddy is named Aloysius) brings Charles home to meet the family at the eponymously named Brideshead and once Charles sees all that glorious real estate and meets Sebastian’s family he pretty much gets sucked in to all their drama for life.

Plenty of closet space and a view, what more could you ask for?

Plenty of closet space and a view, what more could you ask for?

Lord and Lady Marchmain are married, but the Lord (that sounds all sorts of wrong) lives in exile in Italy with his much younger mistress and the Lady lives at the estate compete with her own church and therein lies the problem. The Lady is super uber Catholic and D-I-V-O-R-C-E is not an option, no way no how, so everyone suffers because of it. Also in the pious pile of the Flyte family is Bridey (Simon Jones, Arthur Dent from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy–the original tv series, not the movie), Sebastian’s eldest brother and Cordelia (Phoebe Nicholls, Sienna Miller’s child’s paternal grandma, if you want to feel real OLD) who despite her religious zeal has been deemed the “worst” girl at her private school by her head mistress. However, it’s Julia (Diana Quick), Sebastian other sister who Charles falls head over heels in love with, not in the least because (according to the book), she looks a lot like Sebastian. (Diana Quick and Anthony Andrews look NOTHING alike, and there was some criticism of this at the time but it was a minor kerfuffle.) And while they never really come out and say it, the assumption is that Charles and Sebastian had a bit of a thing going on. Lady Marchmain and Sebastian do not get a long, and she is particularly hard on him. Hmm, wonder why???

There is no greater love than that between a grown up man and his teddy

There is no greater love than that between a grown-ass man and his teddy

The years go by, teddy-bear-toter Sebastian develops a drinking problem, love struck couple Charles and Julia marry other people, the war happens, Lord Marchmain returns to Britain to die at Brideshead and all throughout Catholicism plays a huge role in every characters development to one degree or another. Evelyn Waugh himself was a convert and is said to have based the story on the real life Lygon family and the parallels are dead obvious. Check out their story here, it is pretty fascinating and sad all at the same time, much like this series. (Amazon Instant)

 

 

 

* British spelling for British teevee shows and to not confuse anyone that this post was about a band, also British, but spelled the proper American way.

 

** In my last streaming post I noted that all British actors seem to have appeared on either Doctor Who or EastEnders or both at some point in their careers. I am amending that to include MI-5 since they killed off so many characters and ran for so many years lots of people cycled through that show as well