Thursday, April 30, 2020


Lord of the Rings meme
Artwork by AuburnWolf91 on Deviant Art

I've loved Tolkien since I was fourteen years old and The Lord of the Rings since I was seventeen years old. The movie trilogy transformed my life in magnificent ways when all my sister and I could think of was the fear spawned by 9/11, the reality that suddenly our country wasn't as safe as we'd always assumed. This quote is as much for you as it is for me; a reminder that, in the words of Mr. Samwise Gamgee, "Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer." 

This time is hard. It's fraught with difficulties and loss, but that new day will come. Let this truth bring comfort to you if you need comfort today. God is faithful and his mercies are made new every morning. Bless you, all. ❤

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Classics Club: The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie (1961)

book cover of the 1963 pocketbook edition of The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie

The Pale Horse

Author: Agatha Christie

Year: 1961

My Rating★★

Ahh, yes, I promised myself I would get around to reviewing The Pale Horse one of these days for my Classics Club Page, and today is the day.

I have seen the new Amazon miniseries for The Pale Horse and not even Rufus Sewell could save it. I go into detail on my blog post The Pale Horse - Yet Another Non-Masterpiece by Sarah Phelps, so feel free to read that, but I also go on a mini-rant here, so take your pick.

But on to the book.

The Pale Horse is a riot. It really is an entertaining tale that deals with ghoulies and ghosties and a writer caught up in a mystery that he literally has no reason to be a part of. Unmarried author Mark Easterbrook witnesses a brawl between two girls in a cafe or a pub (honestly not sure which it is) and learns a few days later that one of the girls, a Thomasina Tuckerton, is now eminently deceased. A priest dies with a mysterious note of names in his pocket that he collected from a woman confessing her sins while on her deathbed. The name Tuckerton happens to be on that list, and a lady of the last name Hesketh-Dubois who is Mark's godmother, who also recently passed. Quite a swath of deaths in such a short time. Enters Inspector Lejuene and police consultation Dr. Corrigan (a friend of Mark's), whose name also happens to be on that list of people who are mysteriously managing to die. When Corrigan approaches Mark with questions about his godmother, Mark starts questioning the death of his kindly but austere godmother, especially when a place by the name of The Pale Horse keeps cropping up that appears to be associated with death, as in, there are rumors that if you go to The Pale Horse then you might just be able to finagle a deal for someone to meet their Maker ahead of schedule through the use of magic. Throw two girls into the mix, the literary Hermia and the quirky Poppie, both out for Mark's affection, and his friendship with the eminent novelist Ariadne Oliver (YES, you may remember her from episodes of Poirot and she's brilliant in her minor role in this book!) you have a decidedly fun and raucous novel.

For those who've seen the miniseries, does ANY of this sound at all like Sarah Phelps' attempt at recreating Agatha Christie? Whereas in the miniseries there was a demonic festival marching through the small town, in reality, Mark attends a church fête, as in a church festival. Note the word church. Mark also finds a solid ally in the local minister's wife, a stout woman of solid Christian faith. Mark is also decidedly SINGLE as in NEVER MARRIED, has never KILLED ANYONE IN HIS LIFE, and is overall a lovely, charming man who has never really brooded a day in his life. About the only thing that's remotely the same in the book and miniseries is the ending, sort of.

Ariadne Oliver as played by Zoë Wanamaker
Ariadne Oliver as played by Zoë Wanamaker
Because I absolutely must voice this, I ADORE Ariadne Oliver. Just love her. So it's excessively fun to have Mark either meet with her or speak with her on the telephone a handful of times throughout the novel. She's just the way she was presented in the masterful Poirot miniseries by Zoë Wanamaker. I could literally hear her in my head, so that was delightful. I have a confession to make. I never knew until reading The Pale Horse that Mrs. Oliver wasn't a literary invention by the scriptwriters solely for the Poirot miniseries. Oops!

The Pale Horse is, overall, a delightful, entertaining read, as are most of Christie's works. It can be a little sluggish in places, and it is a bit of a complex plot, especially if you're like me and weren't paying full attention at the beginning of the story to remember how Mark got involved in the first place. Which is why I outlined that bit of the plot for you. It turns out that The Pale Horse was a pub, but is now the home of WITCHES who claim they can kill as needed, although it's more delicately phrased. Of course, it's all just a bunch of malarkey, but the important thing is that they pretty much believe it and so they sell it to their customers. It's a creepy story that also throws in just the right amount of romance. I love Mark's romantic choice in the end, and in general, I just really like Mark. He's a supremely likable character, sort of like the younger Tommy in the Tommy and Tuppence stories.

Since I own a copy of The Pale Horse, wisely purchased before the pandemic, I know that I'll read it again. The story is authentically Agatha Christie if you know what I mean. The woman had a strong writing voice, and her voice is absolutely present in The Pale Horse. I highly recommend it as a fun, distracting read, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! ❤

Monday, April 20, 2020

Announcing the We Love Lucy Blogathon for 2020!

Lucille Ball gif

For as long as I can remember, I have loved Lucille Ball. My first exposure to her was in my very early teens, over twenty years ago now, and she has remained one of my top favorite classic Hollywood actresses ever since. I've seen every episode of I Love Lucy at least twenty-five times and I suspect that's on the low end of reality. I've watched The Lucy Show and Here's Lucy and enjoyed myriads of her films, a lot of them are lesser-known gems like Two Smart People in 1946 where she starred alongside John Hodiak, one of my favorite Hollywood leading men.

A national treasure, Lucille Ball deserves to be lauded for her contribution to television and film, and I couldn't resist the opportunity to host a blogathon in her honor on August 6th, her 109th birthday!

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Movie Review: Titanic (1953)

Poster of the film Titanic from 1953
I actually thought I had seen this film before this weekend, but I hadn't. Believe me, I would have remembered it.

Before I get started, let me just say that the film is lovely in its own way, full of wonderful Hollywood stars and lots of talent. There's no denying the skill of Clifton Webb, Barbara Stanwyck, or a frighteningly young Robert Wagner. They're all actors of the highest caliber and I respect each of them individually and jointly for the performances they gave in Titanic.

However, what the audience experiences in this 1953 film called Titanic is not a true representation of the sinking. Oh, maybe it's faithful enough, but it's hard to tell from the bare bones we see of the actual sinking of the ship. I realized afterward that Titanic from 1953 is very like Titanic from 1997 in some aspects. It tells you a story that takes place on board Titanic, but it is not the story of the sinking of Titanic. I never thought to differentiate between the two things before, but I have now, and it's true.

Go to my Classic Hollywood page to find all my Classic Hollywood reviews!

So, really, this film delivers depending on what the audience wants. The James Cameron film from 1997 and the 1953 Titanic both have merit. They've woven a story of individuals and relationships and tales told about people that may or may not have been on the ship. It's A Night to Remember from 1958 that gives the audience a mostly faithful rendering of what actually happened without flowery relational drama, and I will discuss that film in another post in a couple of days.

For now, we will stick to Titanic from 1953, what worked, what didn't work, and why I cried at the end.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Ruminating over Titanic

On April 10th, 1912, the "unsinkable" masterpiece Titanic set sail from Southampton in England on its maiden voyage, heading to New York City where it was supposed to dock on April 17th. Titanic stopped in Cherbourgh, France later on the 10th and Queenstown, Ireland on the 11th for additional passengers before making its way out to the open seas of the Atlantic, carrying 2,222 souls on board, counting passengers and crew.

Human nature wants to give a reason for this tragedy. There are more than enough theories running around the table as to why Titanic sank. The walls separating the bulkheads weren't sealed all the way to the top. That's weird. And unthinkable. Would Titanic have still sunk if the walls had gone all the way to the top? Maybe, maybe not. If we go that route then it's the fault of the ship's architect, Thomas Andrews, who nobly and tragically died on Titanic. Or it could be because there were no binoculars in the crow's nest for the lookouts so when the iceberg loomed out of the mist, the lookouts were only able to give First Officer Murdoch a 37-second warning to avoid the collision. But binoculars aren't common for lookouts because they actually inhibit their viewing range, so they can't really be considered at fault either. And no one can turn a ship the size of Titanic with only 37-seconds of warning. Then there are the 7 icebergs spotted on the 14th, but Captain Smith barreled on at full speed because the managing director of the White Star Line, Bruce Ismay, wanted to make the crossing in just 6 days.

Fault, as it were, could lie with any number of individuals, but honestly, Titanic sank because these things happen. Life happens, whether we want it to or not, and in the case of Titanic, the blame cannot be fully placed anywhere. A lot of little things added up to one massive tragedy that still fascinates the world today. It's remarkable to me that after all these years of knowing about the tragedy, that I haven't become jaded by it yet. I can watch a documentary on the sinking and tears still fill my eyes over the sheer loss of life that resulted from this tragedy. 

Over the next couple of days, I plan to watch the following films and maybe a few documentaries on Titanic: A Night to Remember (1958), Titanic (1953), and, of course, James Cameron's Titanic (1997). I've watched all of these films before, Cameron's film multiple times, but I think my favorite is A Night to Remember because it feels authentic to me since the sinking was still very much in living memory in the 1950s. It may seem morbid to spend time on such a tragedy right now while going through the COVID-19 pandemic, but I actually find comfort in tragedies that are different from what we're currently experiencing around the world. Despite all the tragedy, the world spins on. It will have a different look when we're on the other side of the pandemic and we may have different priorities than what we had previously. Many of us will have experienced loss by the end. Actually, maybe it makes this the perfect time to delve into the history of the Titanic.

My Posts Related to Titanic in 2020

A photo of the Titanic

Monday, April 6, 2020

The Winsome Qualities of Greer Garson in the 1940 Pride and Prejudice

1940 Pride and Prejudice film poster

I was roughly 20-years-old when I first watched the 1940 version of Pride and Prejudice, which served a twofold purpose: beginning a life-long love affair with Laurence Olivier and launching me into a deep-rooted adoration for Greer Garson. My family gathered in the living room and I lay on a mound of blankets and pillows on the carpet, absolutely enthralled with this film. I'd never read Jane Austen until my later twenties, so I wasn't at all familiar with her stories. I guess you could say that Greer and Larry got me started down a more literary path of interest in my life!

Friday, April 3, 2020

The Delights of Doris Day in That Touch of Mink (1962)

That Touch of Mink film poster

Well, here we go, it's time for The Fourth Doris Day Blogathon! If you are at all interested in reading other blog posts about Doris Day, then please do click on the blogathon links. There will be a ton of excellent content shared over the next couple of days.

I'm ashamed to admit that I've only seen a handful of her films, pretty much all of them from the 1960s, and I know almost nothing about her life other than she appeared absolutely charming. She has a warm, bubbly, spunky persona that always makes me smile, and she lives up to that reputation in That Touch of Mink, the film I chose to discuss for this fun blogathon.

The Fourth Doris Day Blogathon April 2020

Why That Touch of Mink, you might ask? Well, it costars Cary Grant for one thing despite what I will say about him later on, and it's a 1960s romantic comedy for another, and I LOVE the 1960s romantic comedies! There's a certain something about them that always entertain me. I think it's because they flirt with the dangerous side of romance more than the 40s and 50s (note that I did NOT mention the 30s since the 30s tended to get away with a LOT). But on the whole 1960s romances are more open about some previously taboo topics, and in my own quirky way, I love them. I could go on for days about Bob Hope comedies from the 1960s, but seeing as this is a Doris Day Blogathon, I'll refrain. 

Go to my Classic Hollywood page to find all my Classic Hollywood reviews!

Now, you may notice that I deliberately chose a different poster than the one usually associated with That Touch of Mink. This was purposeful because check out her eyes . . . rather like a frightened horse! 

And why should she be frightened you might ask? Well, we'll get into that in a minute.

But first, a summarization of That Touch of Mink told in screencaps.

Larissa Holland's Mr. Scrooge ornament prototype

Prototype for Scrooge - a doll by Larissa Holland

Oh my GOSH, I cannot even begin to describe how much I LOVE this pattern idea!

I've admired Larissa's work for years now, ever since she did The Twelve Days of Christmas set of patterns.

But since embroidery and making tiny stitches isn't my strength, I never actually tried my hand at making any of her patterns.

But I think for this one, I MUST, once the pattern is released!

My sister loves to embroider and is quite good at it, so I'll beg her help when the time comes!

I'm so excited! 🖤

Thursday, April 2, 2020

My Titanic April Bullet Journal Layout

Titanic bullet journal for April 2020

My bullet journal theme for April 2020 is Titanic because this month is about more than just staying at home.

Starting in January, for February, I began a bullet journal. If you're not sure what they are, just type in bullet journal on Pinterest. You will find a TON of examples.

They vary from gratitude journals to art journals to a planner journal that encompasses a little bit of a lot of topics. The latter is what I do. When my office closed and we all began working from home on THAT FATEFUL DAY in March (3/16), I determined to start filling in my April design immediately. You see, the idea is that you spend some of your time in a month creating your layout for the next month. And so on and so forth. I'm sure there are some people who design months at a time, but I like the freedom of thinking of what I want to do and being able to change my mind easily enough without ruining pages in my bullet journal.

My journal is a dot-grid journal. This allows me enough structure that I'm not staring at a blank sheet of paper. Blank sheets of paper and I are not friends.

Now, like I said, April is about more than continuing quarantine. It also happens to be the month of the Titanic tragedy which gripped so many hearts and continues to do so today. After deciding on the Titanic theme, the next step for my bullet journal was buying the Titanic Sticker Book

The Usborne Titanic Sticker Book

I am by no means an artist, so I was not going to attempt to sketch elements of that great ship. Stickers made life so much easier with the design, however, that is the only time I used stickers. I'm a little reluctant to purchase stickers for my bullet journal, actually. I can sit there and draw out habit trackers so why would I want to spend money on a sticker? Technically, the dots are there to give me a grid to draw on so the stickers, for me anyway, feel like cheating.

I do admire bullet journalers who use them though because their designs are lovely.

Now, on to my Titanic bullet journal pages for April 2020!

Titanic bullet journal for April 2020

Above is my main calendar at a glance, which I haven't filled in because, really, not much is happening in April for obvious reasons.

Titanic bullet journal for April 2020