Friday, December 31, 2010
I think we need another New Year's movie for A Happy Meeting. How about:
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Nicola is the name of the villainess and Betty Debbie comes from just a geeky enough family to be forcibly reminded of brilliant electrical engineer Nikola Tesla. Though not blonde, he is flat-chested (as presumably Nicola was) and a bit of a cold fish (which you just know she is). Tesla never married. He was celibate and claimed that his chastity was very helpful to his scientific abilities. Nonetheless there have been numerous accounts of women vying for Tesla's affection, even some madly in love with him. Tesla, though polite, behaved rather ambivalently to these women in the romantic sense.
I don't know if I buy that. He's got a look, that one.
An epergne generally has a large central "bowl" or basket sitting on three to five feet. From this center "bowl" radiate branches supporting small baskets, dishes, or candle holders. There may be between two and seven branches. Epergnes were traditionally made from silver, however from around the turn of the century glass was also employed.
The epergne is a large table centerpiece which may hold any type of food or dessert. It may also be used as a designer object to hold candles, flowers or ornaments for a holiday etc.
In traditional use, the epergne was a fancy way to display side dishes, fruit, or sweetmeats, or can be used for chips, dips, or other finger foods etc.
Chips and dips? An epergne would come in very useful at World Cup or Super Bowl parties.
- Aldrick takes a trip to Argentina...or Brazil - somewhere in South America.
- Charity has her baby.
- While the cat's away, Nicola drives up to Friesland to play. She flashes a diamond engagement ring and allows Cressy to think it's from Aldrick.
- Moggy is in dire straits - her sister has died and Moggy is about to be turned out of house and home.
- Cressy uses this excuse to flee back to England.
- Aldrick returns from South America, finds Cressy gone, goes to England, buys a house for Moggy and proposes.
Him: I love you.
Her: I'd like some explanations...
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
So, what do you do? Party? Sleep? Curl up on the sofa and ring in a Rockin' New Year with the near-perfectly preserved plasticized remains of Dick Clark?
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
What a darling word--perfectly sounding just what it is--a furtive, patronizing thing. It reminds me of that line in My Fair Lady when Eliza uses the term with semi-disastrous results:
Lord Boxington: Do you mean he drank?
Eliza Doolittle: Drank? My word something chronic.
[responding to Freddy's laughter]
Eliza Doolittle: Here! What are you sniggering at?
Freddy Eynsford-Hill: The new small talk, you do it so awfully well.
Eliza Doolittle: Well if I was doing it proper, what was you sniggering at? Have I said anything I oughtn't?
Mrs. Higgins: No my dear.
Eliza Doolittle: Well that's a mercy anyhow...
Monday, December 27, 2010
Her father is never around but we find out that his job is as QC (Queen's Council, I think)--he's rather well known. This novel was published in 1996. Umm, my question is, why, oh why doesn't her father ever call home and talk to his daughter? He is completely absent. Not even any emails. He seems have been gone for at least several months, perhaps years. Obviously there hasn't been a ton of father/daughter bonding. At least not enough so that Bertha feels comfortable telling her dad that the only clothes she has to wear are her younger step-sister's hand-me-downs.
Bertha's acid-yellow dress makes Oliver 'full of rage'. Hahahahahahahahaha!!! Despised yellow dresses? Takes me back to my wedding...and the hordes of sisters in yellow dresses, some of whom have yet to forgive me for that. So yes, yellow dresses can be rage inducing.
Oliver does a little psychological warfare against Berta's sister Clare, asking her to read for the old woman knowing she will refuse and let Bertha do it. Clare's response: 'Yuk. How absolutely grim.' He's brilliant at reading Clare and Mrs. Soames - he knows just when to use the reverse psychology. I love using reverse psychology on kids. Unfortunately...well, I guess fortunately, my kids are pretty smart and have all outgrown my amateurish attempts at reverse psychology.
Bertha. Discuss. I'm thinking of those lines in Voyage of the Dawn Treader: "There once was a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it." Bertha. Gah. Bertha??? Really? Bertha has got to be near the very top (or bottom - if you turn it upside down)of my list of Worst Names Ever, right next to Beulah, Gertrude and Maxine... And now, for your educational enlightenment, I give you A Bertha From History (courtesy of wikipedia):
Bertha of Holland (c. 1055–1093) was the first wife and queen of Philip I of France, King of France.
She was the daughter of Floris I, Count of Holland, by his wife Gertrude of Saxony, the daughter of Bernard II, Duke of Saxony. After her father died in 1061, her mother remarried to Robert I, Count of Flanders, called Le Frisian. In 1072 her stepfather concluded a peace treaty with King Philip. As part of the terms of the treaty Bertha was married to Philip.
Nine years passed before Bertha produced the desired son and heir, Louis. Reportedly, her fertility was only restored thanks to the prayers of a hermit, Arnoul, who also named the child. In 1092, Philip repudiated Bertha, alleging that she was too fat. He confined her to the fortress of Montreuil-sur-Mer, and took up with Bertrade de Montfort, the countess of Anjou.
What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet...
Let's go test that theory, shall we?
Bertha Soames' parents had a chip on their shoulder. They had to have. Who looks at the miracle of a tiny defenseless newborn and thinks to themselves, 'It is never too early to begin blighting a life. Bertha it is.' I will allow that the name sounds infinitely better with a British accent but there is a reason (see right) that the popularity of the name resembles a precipice you'd need crampons, an ice pick and a Sherpa guide to conquer.
Professor Oliver Hay-Smythe is one of those handy unattached bachelors--the demand of which always outpaces supply. So when his friends tow him along to a socialite's birthday party he is sure of a ready welcome.
He sees an abominable outfit--elaborate and ill-fitting shrimp-pink. And then he sees the girl in it.
Maybe he's sorry for her--there's a lot of compassion in his make-up (your average lame-dogs-over-stiles fellow) and she's having a dire night. Persuading her that he's hungry and bored, he spirits her out of the house and off to a pub.
Editorial Note: Other than not believing for a minute that Oliver would have nothing better to do than hang about with strangers for a cocktail and un-filling bits and pieces, the meet-cute is very...er...cute.
Clare, the indispensable step-sister, appropriates Oliver, puts a premature notch in her lipstick case and awaits his eventual proposal.
Oliver, meanwhile, wants to help little Bertha (you're imagining a bosomy Teutonic lass, now aren't you?) get a job. He asks her to read to Mrs. Duke who likes romances. (I wonder if Mrs. Duke liked the racy stuff. Reading that aloud would be a job...)
Meanwhile, Bertha takes every opportunity to display her awesomeness. Street thugs mug an old woman? She descends like a Fury. Clare takes the credit? Bertha holds her tongue and lets Clare hang herself. (Oliver invites them down to his house in the country on the strength of their trauma. Poor Bertha has to wear a vile acid-yellow get-up. And after a while you really have to wonder if Clare is buying such unsuitable sartorial abominations just to pass them on.) Child nearly flattened by the wheels of a speeding car? Bertha pushes little Timmy out of the way and earns a concussion and shredded leg for her pains.
That last one lands her in the hospital (in one of Oliver's beds! Marinate on that a while...). Clare and Step-mommy-dearest can't come. Clare is so sensitive to pain and distressing scenes. (cough*pansy*cough)
They aren't earning any points with Oliver who sends Bertha flowers and makes those middle of the night 'Oh, Sister, I'm just on the ward to check on one of my patients...the one with the empurpled eye...I'll just be looking at her for twenty minutes or so in the dark without taking a pulse or anything...' visits. For her part, Bertha finally realizes that she's in love with the generous professor. ('So that's why I wanted to bawl the steps out when they wanted to hand-me-down more wretched clothes.' (smacks head))
On the very next page we get the long and complete history of Oliver's love. It started in the shrimp pink, continued in the lime green...he's loved her all along.
Editorial Note: He unpacks the story of his dawning realization in all the hurry of a man with no clean clothes and a business trip in the morning. I take issue with this as this story would have been marvelous if The Great Betty had sprinkled his feelings a little more liberally throughout the earlier pages. As it stands, many of his actions appear perilously similar to pity. In contrast, he makes it clear enough that he hates her clothes which got me thinking. At The Church of the Founding Bettys (that does sound official) we have a lay clergy (leaders are chosen from congregations and hold down full-time jobs in addition to their church-y duties). A few years back, when the Stake President (head of a group of 5,000 or so) was called, there was an audible gasp of dismay in the audience. See...he's my OB/GYN (delivered most of my kids, in fact) and the OB/GYN of hundreds of other ladies in our area. (He's a brilliant delivery doctor.) I won't pretend that the idea of him having seen...(gulp)...everything was potentially mortifying. Thank heavens, he seems to have a happy knack of mentally segmenting every woman he meets at the neck. At his offices he's a genial and folksy professional, walking you through a breast self-exam with a matter-of-fact aplomb. At church he can't see anything below the Clavicle. Oliver has that happy knack as well...I think he keeps his chin well up so that lime-green and putty-beige dresses fade into the unimportant periphery.
Oliver invites her to his mother's for Christmas and she's all set to go when the steps engineer a sudden emergency at Aunt Back-of-beyond's. There is no emergency, of course, but Aunt is happy to see her anyway and effect a much-needed make-over. (Bibbity-bobbity,boo!) And when Oliver finally shows up there is nary an acid or electric or abrasive hue in sight.
Kisses, proposals and hopes for a hasty marriage!
Rating: Hm. It did no good that this one was so memorable by reason of those hideous outfits because, while on one hand those outfits make this book, on the other hand, I had remembered this as a shade better than it turned out being. So, I think if I'm a wee bit dissatisfied it is just because the re-read didn't quite come up to expectations. I generally love La Neels' shorter stories--she really shines at a hundred pages--but this needed a little more self-awareness (by our hero) earlier on.
Still, it is pretty good.
Clare was enjoyably nasty and step-mama, though predictably horrible, did the thing with verve. I mean, if you are troubling to make Cinderella comparisons I'd say she holds up.
And the clothes. Great Cesar's ghost they were awesome. The Great Betty surpassed herself. Brilliant! Acid-yellow! Shrimp pink! My retinas are burning.
So, anywho, I'm waffling on this but I'll give it a dollop of Treacle Tart and a dash of Mince Pies and take my licks like a Betty.
Food: Bangers and mash and some 'old and mild' (which I think refers to some beer), tonic water, tea and meat paste sandwiches, orange cream souffles, miniature onion tarts. A breakfast comprising bacon (Up with bacon!), mushrooms freshly picked, fried bread, a sausage or two, egg garnished with tomato, which Betty describes as 'a meal to put heart into a faint-hearted man.'
Fashion: Where to start? He falls in love with her while she's wearing an 'elaborate shrimp-pink' number. We get a 'brilliant' thin linen dress, a lime green dress with too wide shoulders, a jersey two-piece in a 'ghastly color' (this is the acid-yellow one). Clare, meanwhile swans about wearing high-heels and perfectly-fitting blue and white gowns and, if Oliver hadn't shown up, I wonder if Bertha could have had those sooner or later.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
And I have to say it looks about 1000 times more awesome in real life. Thanks, Betty Kylene! You're the best! When I die they'll have to rip this from my cold, dead hands...
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Betty in the Wild on Christmas morning on a frosty Montana day. All of the trees are coated in frost and it is beautiful Especially the ponderosa trees. Betty was also seen in my vintage reproduction stocking! [editor's note: stocking picture to come later]
Expect more Montana Betty pics, I WILL get a picture with a cowboy!
Isn't it a comforting thought that whatever happenings the year has brought with it, Christmas is the time we all look forward to? Families gather together, small differences are forgotten, friends send their yearly letters and the children are in their own little seventh heaven.
And as for romance, there must be many of you who remember being kissed under the mistletoe--a kiss that may have led to your own romance and, even if it didn't, is a memory never quite forgotten.
I do hope that this Christmas--with or without the mistletoe--will be a romantic one for you.
A very happy Christmas.
The Founding Bettys add our wishes to hers. Merry Christmas to all!
Friday, December 24, 2010
Oss van Oss could easily pass for Scrooge's (Fulk's) wretched vision of Christmas future...
I really don't mind Scrooged one little bit either and The Princess Bride also almost made the cut when I found a picture of supposedly-ill Fred Savage being read to by Peter Falk with a Santa Claus craft hanging on the wall behind him. (But even I couldn't torture logic that much...)
I'm not going even try to tie in A Christmas Romance in with my next pick. It's simply my favorite Christmas movie ever:
We always watch it after Thanksgiving and shush (and hang by their toes in the dungeons) anyone who tries to talk over the Peter Ustinov bits. I suppose, as an anemic tie-in, it does have a Christmas romance (or two).
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Hugo kisses Theodosia goodbye on the cheek--Aunt Mary disapproves of 'casual kissing'. I was in an elevator during our Hawaii excursion with a man from Montenegro. Our party had had a conversation with him the day before in the lobby and when he stepped into the elevator he remembered me. He leaned over and did that hand-shaking-cheek-kissing thing. Alone in an elevator? Near stranger? I think I might be with Aunt Mary on this one. I cheek-kiss my father, brothers, nephews (sometimes) and...that's about it. Still, Hugo wasn't really being casual, now was he?
As many of you know, I don't have any family except for the Great-Aunts. Before Hugo, I was sharing an attic bedsit with Gustavus(my cat) and counting my meager blessings, when Hugo and I met at the hospital. It was sheer chance that Miss Prescott should send me down to Sister's office with some diet sheets at the same time Hugo was looking for them. It was love at first sight for him. I took a week or two longer.
Of course I needed to take the box of food to the Great-Aunts that weekend, and Hugo very sweetly fibbed and said it just so happened that he was going that way also. I nearly froze to death during my weekend with the aunts...they are enthusiastic environmentalists! They eat much of their food either cold or underdone, not only that, but they keep their thermostat set at a positively glacial temperature. Brrr. Hugo could see right away that I wasn't in good tick, so he very sweetly swung by his home to give me a nice hot dinner and some medication for my cold. When he dropped me off at my bedsit he kissed me. I was concerned that he might catch my cold, but he must have a iron-clad immune system. That kiss is what made me realize I was in love. TMI?
Hugo ran me home to change(I was covered in blood *shudder*) - then we went to his place for a proper breakfast. This was the day we got Maximilian! Hugo saw the look in my eye and that was all it took. He never can resist that look.
The following weekend, Hugo invited me to see his country cottage. It may not be big and fancy, but it is a delightful place to retreat to. Hugo gave me a big scare while we were there - he said that he planned to get married and that the girl he was going to marry approved of the cottage. How was I supposed to know he meant me? This led to a tiny misunderstanding on my part when I saw him with his arm draped across ANOTHER WOMAN(!!!) a few days later. Little did I realize that woman was my soon to be best friend and sister-in-law, Rosie.
We really are blissfully happy. Hugo works hard at the hospital, but spends every spare minute he can with me, Max and Gustavus. In other news, we expect a new addition(s) to our little family any day now.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Eleanor (Roses for Christmas) seems to have had the same type of wish list as we would present to our parents. A few things that we really really wanted (but didn't expect) a few more reasonably priced things, and finally a couple of cheap things, to prove we weren't greedy, ungrateful children. Which we really weren't.
Christmas 1973 was arguably both my worst Christmas AND my best. There were only two presents for me under the tree. One was from my grandmother(might have been something useful like socks), and the other was from whichever of my siblings had drawn my name that year (the default present back then was a $1 bottle of bubble bath). That's it. Dad handed out presents to all the kids, but he kept having to skip me, because there were no presents to give me. I was just 14 years old...and trying to be mature about the whole thing, but there were definitely some tears that escaped and trickled down my cheeks from time to time. When there were absolutely no more presents left under the tree, my dad pulled an envelope from the tree and handed it to me. It was the first clue to a treasure hunt. The treasure? A very expensive new flute that I had no idea my parents had bought. I knew exactly how much that flute cost ($180 - which was a lot for one child of a large family - especially in 1973), and I knew how much of a sacrifice it was for my parents to get it for me...the funny thing was, I never expected to get a new flute. If it was even on any Christmas list of mine (unlikely), it would have been the equivalent of Eleanor's sable coat.
...except we're not handing out free stuff and you don't have to cry at the terry-cloth robes.
An Ordinary Girl (it sparkles with fun and was an unexpected find)
The Hasty Marriage (is it wrong that I chose to mention this one just to drive Betty JoDee out of her mind? My Betty muse says no.)
The Promise of Happiness (his stalking her to the chamber music concert makes this for me)
and (one we haven't reviewed yet)
The Little Dragon (intentionally dousing someone with a cocktail qualifies as awesome in my book)
What are yours?
P.S. I was reading my review of The Promise of Happiness and muttered to Mijnheer van Voorhees, 'Ugh, it's hard to read a review better than anything you've written in a month.' (I blame the holidays.) His reply, which is really why I married him in the first place: 'And that is why bands break up.' True that.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
It's been one year since we catapulted ourselves headlong into the Land of Betty. Honestly, we didn't know what we were getting ourselves into. Our very first post (here) seems like such a slender little toe-hold--like we didn't really mean it and we weren't really sure what we were going to do. (All true, by the way.)
Betty Debbie (despite my lusty shoving of her under any handy bus) has done the yeoman's work of organizing and slave driving. She's the heart and soul of The Uncrushable Jersey Dress--assigning books out and adjusting post times and answering emails. Without her, my affection for Betty would probably have prompted me to post three paragraphs every fortnight or so before I succumbed to my inherent slackerishness. She's kept us moving at a nice clip and makes us find time for Betty, sandwiched in between keeping house for all our kids and Mijnheers and other similarly pressing details of life. So three cheers for Betty Debbie! (Huzzah!, etc.)
And then there are you guys--no, The Venerable Betty would never have referred to her compatriots and friends as 'guys'--so, I'll amend it to you 'darlings'. You darlings have kept us going and, in many cases, have steered the course of The Uncrushable Jersey Dress. Your comments and feuds are such a delightful dividend. We would have plowed through this unheralded and unsung, doggedly doing our duty to the blog, but how fun not to have to. (I'm still very John Mellencamp about all of you: 'Still hayseed enough to say look who's in the big town...'. We have readers! Squee!)
For a fabulous year we thank you, dear Bettys. Happy Anniversary!