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velkommen

Welcome. This is my blog, and you're my most coveted guest. If I seem a bit too intense, it's only because I have so much that I want to share with you, and I can see that you're eager to begin as well. So, please...make yourself at home, sip an East India cocktail (I blended the pomegranate juice myself), and sample some of my domestic and imported Arcana: useless, but fascinating information about Victoriana, Steampunk and other favoured topics; music which evokes that dark, lost Lenore sensibility; and other pleasant or, perhaps, unsettling non sequiters whispered in a darkened room. Linger long or short, leave a comment or refrain, but remember to come back soon to play a (shhhh) parlour game.
Velkommen. Dette er min blog, og du er min mest eftertragtedegæst. Hvis jeg synes en smule for intenst, det er kunfordi jeg har så meget at jeg vil dele med jer, og jeg kanse, at du er ivrig efter at begynde så godt. kan du ...føl dig hjemme, sip et East India cocktail (jeg blandetden granatæble juice mig selv), og prøve nogle af mine indenlandske o importerede Arcana: ubrugelig, menfascinerende oplysninger om Victoriana, Steampunkog andre begunstigede emner; musik der fremkalderdenne mørke, mistede Lenore sensibilitet, og andrebehagelige eller måske foruroligende, ikke sequitershviskede i et mørkelagt rum. Linger lang eller kort,efterlade en kommentar eller afstå, men husk at komme tilbage snart til at spille en (Shhhh) selskabsleg.

ABOUT ME

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I love my grown children, miss all the dogs I ever had, and I cry at the drop of a hat, I believe in true love, destiny, fairness, and compassion. If I could be anywhere right now, it would be the ocean. My favorite city is New York, but I am always longing for London and craving more time in Copenhagen. I'm drawn to desolate places, deserted buildings, and unknown byways. I don't care how society perceives me as long as my gut tells me that what I'm doing is right. I am interested in paranormal things, spiritual things, historical things, and things that glow at night. I like to drink, I smoke when I write, I can't stand small talk, and despite my quick temper, I would rather kiss than fight. I'm selfish with my writing time, a spendthrift with my love. My heart has been broken so many times that it's held together with super glue and duct tape. The upside is that, next time, I won't be tempted to give away what I no longer have to give. But I will let you buy me a Pink Squirrel.

Fuldmane

Fuldmane
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Helvede's så Nocturne

Helvede's så Nocturne
The raw, aching sadness with which the following words were typed has been reformatted to fit your screen. No need to adjust it. All names have been expunged to protect the innocent and the willfully insane.

Nocturne in G Flat major

Chopin, darkness, light, sand and wind, starlight tread. Beethoven, love, fear, madness, redemption in the night. Liszt, waltzing widows, desperate bargains, pleasure's secret plight. Now, then, before, always, forever. Promises made on lonely beaches, celestial summer's perfect kiss, passions quenched in salty breezes, the lure of distant mist-draped heights. Bitter interlude. Final, private nocturne. Burned down like a candle. Doomed bleeding beauty. Fated sacrificial night.
To be continued...

Gentle Visitor

Gentle Visitor
And now, Gentle Visitor, won't you please lend an eye (we've worked so hard)...
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
We love all things dark and mysterious, macabre and obscure, odd and unfathomable. Nothing is too strange or bizarre for our little blog. And although we would never presume to offer definitive answers to the great questions of life, we shall do our best to enlighten, inform and delight our visitors with our whimsical potpurri of facts, anecdotes, trivia and informational outpourings. We strive not to offend, but to edify those who wish to reach beyond their comfort zone and touch the fabric of another time and place, and of distant, but genuine worlds and lives. As Victorian-themed blogs go, ours may not be the most austere, nor the most comprehensive, but we know what we like, and if our readers like it as well, then all is as it should be in this ramshackle corner of our own personal Victorian empire.

A Musical Note

A Musical Note: We feel that our blog is best viewed when accompanied by one or more of the following musical selections. Then again, we also feel that our blog is best viewed when accompanied by a glass of absinthe, a bite of lemon cake, and a foot massage (preferably by someone you know). So, to paraphrase the otherwise completely irrelevant-to-our-blog Mr. Aleister Crowley, "Do what thou wilt...but be open to Chopin."
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And now we begin

And now we begin
"One must strive to show decorum even when scrolling." Queen Victoria, Buckingham Palace Blog, August 11,1879

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Friday, December 14, 2012

OUR FAVORITE SCROOGES



In case you haven't noticed, it's Christmas time again. For those who celebrate it, and even for many of those who don't, the holiday's imminent arrival means that for the next couple of weeks, it will be impossible to go anywhere, turn on the television, or read a newspaper without being reminded of the season and the many and varied ways in which one can spend money in its honor. Which brings us to the subject of this post. Of all the Christmas traditions that we, personally, have come to love or hate over the years, "A Christmas Carol", that classic cautionary tale by Charles Dickens, is one that still manages to wrest emotion from our partially calcified heart every time we watch it in movie form. That's not to say that some movie versions of Dickens' (arguably) best-loved work aren't better than others. And like everyone else, we have our personal favorites. Which brings us even more specifically to the subject of this post...i.e. our top three picks for the "best" movie version of "A Christmas Carol." All we ask is that, if you don't happen to agree with our picks, you refrain from throwing verbal brickbats our way. After all, if we have learned anything from the story, it's that Christmas is the one time of year in which we should put aside our more acerbic traits, cast aside our selfish notions, and join with the angels and the fake-beared Santas ringing bells on street corners in championing the higher concepts of joy and love throughout the land. So, then, with that in mind, we humbly offer our list of what we consider to be the top three best film depictions of that ol' rascal, Ebenezer Scrooge.


1.) A CHRISTMAS CAROL (GEORGE C. SCOTT, TV MOVIE, 1984)

For our money (which, to be perfectly honest, we must admit is not all that much) this TV movie version of A Christmas Carol, filmed on location in England, and first broadcast in 1984, is by far the best adaptation of Dickens' 1843 novella we have ever seen. Why is that? Well, for starters, because it stars George C. Scott, who won an Academy Award (which he refused to accept) for his portrayal of General George Patten in the eponymous 1970 film. Taking on the role of perennial tightwad Ebenezer Scrooge, Scott brought a depth to the character that forever raised the bar on all future attempts of the same. As Scrooge, Scott wasn't just a grouchy, stingy old man, he was a bitter, self-destructive fossil who had willingly sacrificed his soul to the pursuit of making money and holding on to as much of it as possible. That is...until his unexpected encounter with the ghost of his late business partner Jacob Marley one Christmas Eve. Scott's reaction when Marley's ghost first enters his bedroom is an amazing bit of acting that resonates with viewers not just because Scott's such was such a good actor, but because it is at that precise moment that we see the humanity still simmering underneath the old man's crusty exterior. By turns terrified, sarcastic, and, by the scene's end, touchingly confused, Scott shows us a side of Scrooge that seems as though it might actually be worth salvaging after all. Scott's consummate acting, as well as the beautifully shot scenes (especially those involving the appearances of ghosts) and excellent supporting cast, propel this version of A Christmas Carol into a realm far beyond the usual paint-by-numbers adaptation that litter the air waves every Christmas season. If you haven't seen it, do yourself a Christmas favor and make a point of renting it. Our favorite Christmas ghost in this version? That's an easy one. It's without question The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. Played by Michael Carter, this shrouded figure never so much as utters a word, but, my oh my, what the man does with a few (skeletal) hand gestures would put many other actors to shame. Don't wait for him to come visit you. See the movie now.

2.) SCROOGE (ALISTAIR SIM, BRITISH FEATURE FILM, 1951)


Scottish actor Alastair Sim already had a string of successful British films under his (dressing gown) belt when he signed on to play Ebenezer Scrooge in this 1951 British adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Released orginally in black and white (it was colorized in 1989), it received mixed reviews and was considered a critical failure, although it was one of Great Britian's most popular movies of 1952. Despite the disdain of critics, it is still in wide circulation on TV screens today, largely because of the poignancy that Sim brings to the character. Starting off in the usual cantankerous manner we have come to expect from our movie Scrooges, Sim's version soon begins to show signs of humanity, which is, of course, the standard path all Scrooges takes sooner or later. But it's the final scene that makes this our second favorite version of the story. Having finally grasped the error of his ways, Sim's Scrooge visits the Cratchit family just in time to watch them carve the huge goose he has anonymously purchased on their behalf, then makes a quick dash to his nephew's house, whose annual Christmas dinner invitation he had scroffed at before meeting up with the tutoring ghosts. As the maid ushers him into the front hallway of his nephew's house, and then toward the parlor door behind which his nephew is hosting a high-spirited Christmas soiree, Sim turns back to look at the maid with the saddest hint of a smile on his craggy old face...a smile in which we see the regret he feels for having denied himself the pleasure of a happy family Christmas for so many years. It's a magical, wonderful scene. And if for no other reason than allowing yourself the pleasure of watching it, this version of Scrooge's story deserves to be part of your holiday viewing.

3.) MISTER MAGOO'S CHRISTMAS CAROL (JIM BACKUS, ANIMATED TV SPECIAL, 1962)


First broadcast on NBC in 1962, this animated version of Dickens' beloved tale was voiced by a cast of well-known actors (Morey Amsterdam, Jack Cassidy) led by Jim Backus (Gilligan's Island) as Ebenezer Scrooge. It was the first animated holiday show ever produced specifically for television and features a musical score by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill, who went on (quite merrily) to compose the music for Funny Girl. As adaptations are concerned, it takes its share of license, but we can forgive that because of the creative manner in which the "movie" was presented to viewers...i.e. as a Broadway play, divided into separate acts with a curtain call at the end. The best part about it, at least in our opinion, is the fact that the major characters in the supporting cast are played by fictional American actors who are never seen directly and who speak with American accents. It's an ingenious, somewhat irreverant twist on a classic theme, and when we first saw it as a child back in the day, we were completely entranced (and a little scared since we were...well...a child). Other animated versions of A Christmas Carol have come and gone, leaving little or no impact in their wake, but this version still stands up, even after all these years, simply because it was (apparently) so much fun for those involved. We still love it...and if you watch it...we think that you will as well.

Well, there you have it. Our top three list of the best "A Christmas Carol" movie adaptations this side of the 1840s. We hope you agree with our choices, but if you don't, remember...no brickbats. It's all about love and peace and fellowship this time of year. So let us raise a glass of eggnog (mine has a dollop of whiskey in it, but it is Friday night) and join in a toast to the greatest of all Christmas stories. Except, of course, for the one that started it all. But that's an entirely different post. Well...if we're still sober come Sunday, that is.

Merry Christmas...and to all...a good...and safe...good night.


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