Risky Regencies

Words, words, words

My post this week is going to be a bit of a mish-mash (I know–what else is new??). Like Megan, I’ve been working on a new proposal, and have expended a lot of energy at the day job pretending to be entering sales data into the computer while actually revising my synopsis or looking at websites on Imperial Russia and Go Fug Yourself (shhh! Don’t tell). I’ve also spent a lot of time watching Project Runway and Dancing With the Stars, my current obsessions in life. My thoughts are always occupied with things like “Is Laura right–did Jeffrey have help sewing his collection? And wow, that past drug addiction thing really explains those tattoos. And how can I end chapter two on a cliffhanger?” And, after reading Janet’s post, “I must eliminate all ‘manroot’ from my WIP! And ‘petals of passion.’ And stop beginning sentences with ‘and’.”

Anyway, to get off the Irrelevancy Train and onto my post. My topics this week are inspired by Elena’s post on the forthcoming Persuasion movie, and by Janet’s post on language (sort of). I love costume films, and I’m not really terribly picky about what I watch. Good, bad, horrible, bizarre–if it has long dresses and accents of some sort, I’m there. On Megan’s ‘guilty pleasures’ post, I could have listed a dozen. Not that I don’t sometimes gripe about them afterward, or pick apart the details of the costume design and the sets, but that’s all part of the fun.

And one thing I found to be a great deal of fun this past week was Masterpiece Theater’s new version of Casanova (part two airing tomorrow night). I was wary after that dumb Heath Ledger/Sienna Miller movie a few months ago, which totally wasted the glories of Venice and some not–bad costumes on a film far too dull even to be a guilty pleasure. I’m also usually not much for the ‘modernist’ approach to costume drama–Moulin Rouge gave me a headache. But Casanova is charming and so full of giddy fun I totally enjoyed it. There’s also genuine emotion, and a sense of exhiliration in some of the scenes (like Casanova’s engagement ball with the former castrato Bellino–it’s a long story, involving unexpected revelations of the sausage variety. The clothes are a swirl of reds, golds, and bright blues, with soaring music and unrealized love). It’s not perfect–nothing ever is. I’m not entirely convinced that David Tennant (pictured above–he’s also the new Dr. Who!) grows up to be Peter O’Toole. And Henritte’s hairdo is VERY distracting. It must take hours to tie in all those bows just so she looks like she forgot to take her curlers out before she left the house. But it’s all great fun. I can’t wait to see what happens in Part Two!

The other part of my post has to do with language. Every year the Washington Post sponsors a neologism contest, where they ask readers to send in alternate meanings to common words. The results are always entertaining! Here are a few of my favorites from this year:
Flabbergasted: appalled over how much weight you have gained
Abdicate: to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach (sadly applied to me!)
Esplanade: to attempt an explanation while drunk
Negligent: describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown
Gargoyle: olive-flavored mouthwash
Balderdash: a rapidly receding hairline
Pokemon: a Rastafarian proctologist
(There was also a Style Invitational, where readers were asked to take a word, alter it by adding, subtracting, or adding one letter, and supply a new definition. Some favorites:)
Bozone: the substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating
Cashtration: the act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period
Sarchasm: the gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it
Osteopornosis: a degenerate disease (this one got extra credit!)
Karmageddon: it’s like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the earth explodes and it’s like a serious bummer

So, now it’s your turn. Any new costume films you like? Or hate? Or any ideas for your own neologisms? I would try and supply one myself, but I’m afraid my mind is affected by the bozone layer at the moment, and entirely taken up with constructing my dreaded synopsis. Plus, wondering if Mario and Karina on Dancing With the Stars actually ARE an item off the dance floor, or if that’s just a D-listed rumor. Plus, wondering if I have now spent far too much time reading D-listed.

Have a great weekend!

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Diane Perkins
16 years ago

I love Project Runway! I just discovered it late this summer and I am seriously hooked. I thought last week was the end and I was shocked when it just stopped….on a cliffhanger. I love Laura. She is so glamorous, but such a real person, too, tearing up, losing confidence, finding turtles.
I also love costume movies, but I can’t think of any particular ones at the moment. I saw David Tennant in a BBC America suspense movie. He was such a great bad guy that I’ve forever type-cast him as such.
Love the Washington Post stuff too, but my creativity just does not go in that direction. Love that other people are so clever.

Amanda McCabe
16 years ago

Laura is my favorite, too! I love her clothes–they’re so wearable and professionally done, where so many of the others are just–strange (Angela and her never-ending fleurettes! Ack!) Can’t wait for next week.

I don’t think I’ve seen David Tennant in anything else besides Harry Potter, and he makes a kind of goofy, fun Casanova. Very different from a suspense villain!!

16 years ago

A couple of years ago I wandered innocently into a used bookstore (strange how that happens) and picked up a book only slightly smaller than the Oxford English Dictionary, which was entitled “The Memoirs of Casanova.” Cool! I thought, and bought it; and when I got it home, I discovered that it was in fact only volume one of Casanova’s memoirs. Which was a little disheartening.

However, I then discovered that all of Casanova’s memoirs are available for free in electronic format from Project Gutenberg; so now I’ve downloaded it onto my ebook-reading PDA, where I can slowly read it over the next–well, pretty much the rest of my life.


16 years ago

A couple of word plays, one of each type (with no claims of actual merit!):

Bloviate: what happens when you hear a really funny joke while drinking vegetable juice.

Residude: like, I totally have no idea what smell you’re talking about, Mom


Cara King
16 years ago

I’m just going to sulk at you for a little bit, Amanda. Because I liked the Heath Ledger “Casanova.” A lot. It was pretty, silly fun. With some wit. And Heath Ledger. It was good!

{sulk sulk sulk}

It was, it was, it was. So there.

{pouty face}


Amanda McCabe
16 years ago

Okay, Cara, I will admit that I enjoyed the subplot of the mother and the “lard king of Genoa,” which was very cute. And I liked the balloon. And the sets and costumes were lovely. But the lack of any chemistry between Ledger and Miller (who I’m still not convinced is actually an actress and not just a famous-for-being-famous person) sort of killed the romantic elements for me. And Casanova should be romantic. That’s all I meant. 🙂

And Todd, I think you made me bloviate my tea. 🙂

Cara King
16 years ago

Okay, here are a couple (bad) tries at those word play things, just for Amanda, cuz she said some nice things about the Heath Ledger “Casanova”:

1) Your lips may be chapped because you listened to your ipod while lying in the sun too long, but I was out there way longer than you, reading my *book* — so my lips are even chapter.

2) Some people claim that Colin Farrell is the #1 best looking Colin on the planet, but they’re wrong — because it’s quite a different Colin who is truly Firth.

3) Some people think David Rintoul was the best Darcy ever, but others prefer a different televersion.

Cara (Amanda made me do it!)

16 years ago

I am also always looking for any historical movies – or TV series. Not too crazy about the “Casanova”, but I am looking forward to the upcoming Showtime series “The Tudors” with Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the young Henry VIII. – That’s what I call creative casting. – It also has Sam Neill as Thomas Wolsey and Jeremy Northam (mmmmm) as Sir Thomas More. And it’s Renaissance on cable – so I expect raunchiness.

BTW, a while ago I read an article where I think it was Joss Whedon talking about what’s next on TV, he jokingly made up something about a Jane Austen-era story, but produced in the vein of “Deathwood” or “Rome”. But ever since I read this, I can’t get this idea out of my head – how about a cable series about those naughty Regency rakes? Prinny and his entourage alone could provide enough material for several episodes. – What do you think?

As to movies, I already mentioned a whole bunch under that previous post, but I have to mention “North and South” – again – (the Victorian one based on Elizabeth Gaskell’s book, not the Civil War one), it’s just sooo good and I want to spread the word. I also have to add “Stage Beauty” which I watch every time they show it on the SHO/TMC channels (and I will get the DVD) most of all for the witty dialogue. It is about one of the last male actors to portray female roles on stage during the Restoration era. Billy Cruddup and Clare Danes in the lead roles, Rupert Everett hilarious as Charles II. Very entertaining, great acting and, as I mentioned, just so funny (there are so many memorable quotes.) Also a very affecting Othello death scene at the end.

Kalen Hughes
16 years ago

Hmmmmmm I loathe Laura and love Jeffrey (hello architect lady, he’s a freaken PROFESSIONAL designer; did you see his portfolio?). Different Strokes I guess . . . her clothes are beautiful, but they all seem very derivative (as was expressed by the judges during the Couture episode). There’s just nothing original happening there (which isn’t to say I wouldn’t buy them all were they in my local Macy’s).

As for costume dramas, I’m something of a purist. I like the clothes to be accurate. This is one of the major reasons I disliked the latest P&P, but loved Stoppard’s SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE (outrageous plot, but spot on costumes; the only error I found was whats-her-face’s shoe during the Juliet death scene, it was 18th century). Loved THE LIBERTINE. Loved 90% of THE AFFAIR OF THE NECKLACE (can anyone explain what her hoops are made out of?).

Pam Rosenthal
16 years ago

Don’t know squat about the accuracy of the costumes in THE ILLUSIONIST, but it was a lovely, juicy costume drama, and kept you guessing. I wonder about the accuracy of THE NEW WORLD, costume and otherwise. I can understand anyone not wanting to see it because Native Americans are usually so badly portrayed on screen. But the opening 10 minutes, as the English wooden ships enter the bay and the Native Americans watch in astonishment, and WE know that nothing will ever be the same again — the wonderful music and the slowless of it — gorgeous. And I loved some of the 17th century English costumes.

Amanda McCabe
16 years ago

I’ve been meaning to go see The Illusionist, Pam, now I will definitely have to! I really enjoyed “Stage Beauty,” as well as “The Libertine” 9why can’t there be more Restoration-set movies???), plus “The New World.” The people sitting behind me in that movie thought it very dull and expressed these feelings at various times, which drove me CRAZY. I thought it was gorgeous and sad.

And on PR, Jeffrey had one design I liked very much, the one at the last challenge, which was skewered by the judges!!! I have to “question their taste level”, LOL

Pam Rosenthal
16 years ago

And I adored MOULIN ROUGE and do want to recommend it. I never thought of calling it a costume movie, though, more like a huge long silly joke about costume movies and screen romanticism. My husband and I giggled all the way through the DVD, and wondered how we’d describe it. All we could come up with was that if you think think (as we did) that John Leguizamo as Toulouse-Lautrec is inspired casting, this might be a movie for you.

Diane Perkins
16 years ago

I just thought of a costume drama I didn’t like. Braveheart. Mostly because the costumes were all wrong and the real story and the real costumes would have been terrific.

Amanda, re: Project Runway. I didn’t like Jeffrey’s dress. I think they were all trying too hard on that challenge – Uli seemed to make her dress by accident, or intuition…

By the way I looked at the website. And I think I know what happens next week….

There’s a trailer for next week’s show.

Kalen Hughes
16 years ago

One of the sales clerks at my local Macy’s let the cat out of the bag weeks ago and told who won (this persons designs are ALREADY on the racks!).

Diane Perkins
16 years ago

Oh, Kalen, Don’t tell who won! I want to be surprises, although I think I can guess. During Fashion Week, I saw a quick showing of the collections of the finalists and I think I can guess who won.

Megan Frampton
16 years ago

Oh, I am way late, but I LOVE this post, Amanda!

And thanks in no small part to you, I am hooked on PR.

Plus, is this me, or what? Esplanade: to attempt an explanation while drunk.


Keira Soleore
16 years ago

I’m really late commenting on this post, because I have a confession to make.

I hadn’t seen a single Project Runway show till last night. After reading all your comments, I decided to catch the re-runs on Bravo of the last few shows leading up to the finale. I didn’t like the first one, thought it was a bit silly, but the Riskies had recommended it so highly, so I sat through a couple more.

And I was HOOKED!! I love Laura: her grscious smile, her impeccable sense of style, her glam designs, her fabulous loft/apartment, and the free-form living that allows every member of her family to express themselves. (The poop scene was so funny.)

I like Uli’s designs, too, flowy and fun. The men—eh, whatever! They try too hard to be cool.

I’ve recorded the last show, so I can watch it this afternoon before the finale.

Keira Soleore
16 years ago

The finale tonight was superb. Laura was my favorite going in to the show, and she didn’t disappoint at all!! I really enjoyed seeing Uli’s work. She really made the gorgeous view outside her window a part of her dresses. Some of the items in Jeffrey’s collection were too outre for me–not anything I would wear–but nevertheless, I thought he was very innovative. My vote was for Uli.

Diane Perkins
16 years ago

Me, too, Keira! I voted for Uli, too, but Laura was still my overall favorite.

16 years ago

I love PR, but haven’t seen the season ender yet (i’ll catch on the weekend) so I’m skimming here in case someone’s talking about it!

Just wanted to say I caught the second half of Casanova and loved it. (Course, I’m a huge Dr Who fan so yes it was inevitable I’d love it! David is so yummy!)

WAIT David is in HP??? WHAT? What character???

You do know that David Tennet is playing the new Dr Who right?

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