This illustration is from Jules Verne's 1870 work of science fiction, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea: A Tour Of The Underwater World. In the novel, noted marine biologist Pierre Aronnax (who is narrating) has joined an expedition investigating a series of reported sightings of some sort of sea monster in the Pacific. It turns out that the "monster" is actually a submarine vessel commanded by the imposing- and possibly crazy- Captain Nemo who takes Aronnax, his servant Conseil, and Canadian whaler and harpoon enthusiast Ned Land as captives. At one point during their captivity Nemo, who at first regards Aronnax as a fellow scientist/ colleague takes them on an ocean floor walk to oyster beds and an underwater cave, all of them clad in early diving suits. While there, they see an Indian pearl diver who is plying his trade get set upon by a shark. Nemo leaps into action, attacking the shark and managing to stab it with the dagger he's carrying. This naturally enough enrages the shark, which appears to be about to kill Nemo when Ned intervenes, killing the beast with his harpoon. Captain Nemo rescues the unconscious pearl diver, taking him back to his boat on the surface.
Volunteering at the annual "Share The Warmth" event, making quilts for the local shelters:
"Little bits of fabric Sewn into a quilt Form a warm and loving blanket From which memories are built. And when you seek peace and comfort In the quiet of the night It will keep you warm and snug Until the morning's light."
We didn't continue with Cranford last Sunday night due to an unfortunate mistake. We were holding movie night at a different location and my sister was bringing the DVDs, but she forgot the one we were watching last week was still in her DVD player and just brought the case. We ended up watching the 1998 movie Little Men which is, obviously, an adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's 1871 novel of the same name. It picks up where Little Women left off, with Jo and her husband Prof. Bhaer opening a school on the estate she inherited from her Aunt Josephine. The film version concentrates-naturally enough- on the school's students, the "little men," especially two of them: Nat and Dan. I had seen this film once before ages ago but didn't remember a lot about it; it's... harmless. Mariel Hemingway stars as Jo and, while her acting is fine, the character bears little resemblance to the tomboyish Jo Marsh of Little Women. Chris Sarandon plays a rather stern Professor Bhaer and is believable enough if you can manage to not think of him as Prince Humperdinck. The kids are all predictably cute and nice, with even the rebellious one being well-intentioned despite his rough edges. The plot is predictable even if you haven't read the book, and the ending is super cheesy. Oh, and there's a really annoying- and unnecessary- narrator who cuts in every once in a while to explain things which are perfectly obvious. This is starting to sound a bit negative but it's really not a bad movie... just bit bland and forgettable. My favourite character is actually a pretty minor one: Silas Blake the crusty old handyman: "The last man who tried that on me is pushing up daisies at Gettysburg." I would have preferred to watch a movie about him.
"If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive." -Eleonora Duse
C.S. Lewis once said, "You can't get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me." One of my young nieces put her own spin on this when attempting to make herself some herbal tea for the first time: Niece: “I was just reading and having some tea... actually, it was mostly just water and sugar.. the tea bag was disgusting!” “You’re not supposed to chew it.” “Oh.”
This image is from the 1941 satirical comedy Sullivan's Travels. In it, Joel McCrea stars as John Sullivan, a wealthy and successful director of comedic movies who yearns to make serious films. He decides to film an adaptation of a currently popular book of social conscience: O Brother, Where Art Thou? over the objections of his studio. Sullivan decides that, to inject realism into the project, he must experience first-hand what it is to be impoverished and determines to travel around the country as a hobo, riding the rails and sleeping in shelters. While in this guise, he meets a failed young actress (played by Veronica Lake) who is leaving Hollywood and returning home. She believes that Sullivan is an actual tramp and buys him breakfast. To repay her kindness, Sullivan decides to return to his estate and get his car so he can give her a lift to where she's going. Unfortunately, he neglects to inform his staff that he's doing this and they report the car stolen. The police locate the vehicle with Sullivan and the girl in it and take them into custody for the theft of the car. The truth comes out and the two are released. Though initially angry over his deception, the Girl eventually decides to go with tramping with Sullivan, disguised as a boy. Shenanigans ensue as Sullivan gradually learns that there is value in producing films which provide laughter and enjoyment to the public:"There's a lot to be said for making people laugh. Did you know that's all some people have? It isn't much, but it's better than nothing in this cockeyed caravan." Fun Facts: Sullivan's Travels was written and directed by Preston Sturges, who wanted to make a statement about the way a number of comedies at the time had become really preachy, sacrificing huour for earnestness. The title is, of course, a play on Jonathan Swift's 1726 satirical novel Gulliver's Travels. : The Coen brothers' 2000 movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? takes its name and several plot points from Sullivan's Travels. In an interview, they suggested that their film is the one Sullivan would have made after his journey of self-discovery. : The movie's dedication reads: "To the memory of those who made us laugh: the motley mountebanks, the clowns, the buffoons, in all times and in all nations, whose efforts have lightened our burden a little, this picture is affectionately dedicated."
In this section of the novel, Professor Lidenbrock and Axel make their way to Iceland- or, more accurately, Lidenbrock drags Axel there- and they hire the third member of their expedition, Hans. If Lidenbrock is the obsessed scientist and Axel the reluctant apprentice, then Hans is the professional workman. He never questions why they're going where they are, or protests the danger: he just expertly gets them where they need to go and takes part in the exploration of the subterranean passageways. Axel- the narrator- never mentions Hans voicing any complaints about the hardships and hazards (unlike Axel himself). He also doesn't record Hans being awestruck by any of the wonders they see... what he does mention is Hans drawing his pay on a regular basis, even when they're far under the surface of the earth. Strong, competent and stoic, Hans is integral to the expedition, saves their lives on at least one occasion- and unhesitatingly risks his own. He gets the job done and expects to be well paid for it.
Meanwhile, Professor Otto Lidenbrock continues to be driven, brusque and frequently insensitive to the concerns and feelings of others (mostly Axel) in his zeal to reach the center of the earth. There are, however, occasional chinks in his armour of indifference; Lidenbrock is kind- almost fatherly- when he revives a dehydrated Axel from his faint with a drink of water. He also evinces great relief when he and Hans manage to find Axel when he gets lost in the tunnels. It seems that under all his crustiness, Lidenbrock has an affection for the poor schlub. For all my irritation with Axel for his constant naysaying and gloomy outlook, I'm not without some sympathy for the fellow. As I mentioned previously, he's definitely intelligent: he was just never cut out to be a rugged outdoorsman or adventurer. He's always stumbling after his much older- and much more energetic- uncle, tired and worried. It's Axel who collapses, insensate, from thirst. It's Axel who manages to get himself turned around and lost in the tunnels... which, by the way, is a rather horrifying thought: being lost and alone in a maze far below the earth, wandering in the dark until you die. Or, fortunately for Axel, until he is located. Also, as they get further and further beneath the surface, we do see Axel becoming more invested in the expedition, able to be awed and amazed by some of the wonders that they are seeing.
And there are certainly a lot of wonders to be seen, especially when the three men leave the tunnel and enter the giant sized cavern with it's huge mushroom forest and seemingly limitless sea. As they build a raft and set sail into the unknown, it seems likely that the men will see many more incredible things and experience many more exciting- and potentially deadly- adventures.