This has nothing to do with Keanu Reeves dating terminally ill women, just to be clear.
- This is some amazing Austenian…is dollcraft a word? It is now. In context, they’re are actually kind of strange, in the sense that they’re for little kids AND skip approximately 63% of the novel (the MIDDLE 63%, so…good luck with that), but the visuals are fantastic. Action Jane weeps with envy; the only man she gets is Action Poe.
- Need some advice from a two-hundred-year old fictional character? Of course you do, and you’re in luck: Mrs. Elton Sez, everybody’s favorite Austenian Agony Aunt, has deep archives and plenty to say! I mean, of COURSE she does.
Enjoy, Austen Nation.
It’s Halloween again, so if you don’t normally partake in things that make you shiver in fear and anticipation, now’s the time to give it a try! I, for one, can’t deal with zombie movies. (No judgement! Zombies may move slowly, but they’re tenacious and keep coming at you.) So here are some other ideas.
• Have you read Dracula? Seriously . . . if you have not read Dracula, you need to read it. Now. I read it in high school and was a little meh about it. But I re-read it a few years ago, and I was freaked the heck out! Like, holy-crap-old-and-musty-smells-like-rot-Nosferatu-gonna-kill-me!
• And there’s always Edgar Allen Poe. Secretly, I imagine that his action figure wants to make out with our Jane action figure. But I’m pretty sure Action Jane wouldn’t want to have anything to do with him. She would have disapproved of his marrying his 13-year-old cousin and possible alcoholism-rabies-and/or-syphilitic death. (Then again, in the afterlife, Jane would enjoy a good laugh over people still trying to figure out how they both died.)
• If you’re more of a visual person, my new favorite time sink is looking at “spirit photography.” And I’m not just talking about what you see on Google. Even museums and archives have these sorts of images! Check out SFMOMA’s Artscope. Type in “spirit photography” into the search box, and all sorts of goodies show up. Those photos are almost as creepy as when Nicole Kidman finds the book of dead people in The Others. *shiver*
Jeez, now I’ve thoroughly creeped myself out. Why did I let myself watch that scene again? That’s almost as bad as when the dead girl comes out of the tv in The Ring. (There is nothing that will entice me to search for that clip on YouTube. I’ve been scarred for life seeing The Ring.) Rainbows! Unicorns! Colin Firth diving into a pond! Sunshiny goodness! Okay, I’m back.
• Maybe you should give Northanger Abbey another whirl. What’s not to love about a parody of gothic novels? It’s not scary.
• Or you could watch Revolution on NBC and wonder if it’s really possible for people to go a little feral when the power goes out. Timely, no? (Then again, Hurricane Sandy may have knocked out the power on the east coast, yet people still seem to be able to update their Facebook pages. Guess those phone chargers for the car were a good investment after all.)
Whatever your choice in spooky entertainment, we at Austenacious wish you a very safe and happy Halloween!
Let’s face it: the range of Austenian Halloween costumes for ladies is not that great. Like, congratulations! You have a lovely empire-waist gown and a spencer! You are…one of any number of unidentifiable Regency characters? No clever object costumes, either—bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens, as I imagine the Sound of Music folks would do, assuming there are in fact Sound of Music folks out there (who aren’t also attending the sing-along)—which brings up a whole thing about the relative unimportance of objects, symbolic or otherwise, in Jane’s work, but we’re not here to talk about objects symbolic or otherwise. We’re here to talk about Halloween.
(Somewhat ironically for a writer whose works are so generally female-centric, more recognizable male-oriented costumes spring to mind. Wear a pink cloak and be Mr. Rushworth! And of course, all glory, laud, and honor to any man who has the foresight to wear wet breeches and a soaked shirt and call himself Mr. Darcy.)
In any case, may we offer a few last-minute costume ideas for the Regency-attired?
- Action Jane
White dress, green spencer, plastic face—or at the very least, painted-on smile. Arms that bend only in unnatural ways. Photo album of all your adventures?
- Kitty Bennet
Be as suggestible as possible. Cough.
- Fanny Price
Sit on a bench somewhere, preferably near a locked gate. Disapprove.
- Marianne Dashwood
Tumble down a hill; if nobody handsome appears, lather, rinse, repeat. (Liability? What liability?)
I feel like I’m missing someone. Who am I missing?
(Also, we might judge you just a skosh for adding “slutty” to any of these costumes…but then, you don’t have to tell us.)
Happy holidays, everybody! Keep warm, make merry, and we’ll see you in 2012.
Is it just me, or are people diving into the holidays with extra gusto this year? More than one of my friends confessed, with a definite air of asking for forgiveness, to breaking out the tinsel and Bing Crosby before Thanksgiving. (They shall remain nameless…FOR NOW.) My day-job officemates hung lights before I even arrived at work on Monday, and keep them lit despite the specter of blowing various circuits in our electrically dubious building. I even realized earlier this week that, if I don’t cool it, I might be sick of my favorite Andy Williams rendition of “Do You Hear What I Hear?” before it’s actually time to hear what Andy hears. What is going on here? Is it because Nordstrom wouldn’t decorate early? Whatever it is, apparently we all need a little Christmas, right this very minute. (If the New Christy Minstrels just popped, fully formed, into your head…well, you’re welcome.)
If you’re feeling the Christmas spirit this first day of December, well, you’re in luck: get to know this pile of classic Austenacious Christmas cheer! And if you’re not yet in the groove, what are you waiting for? Pull your Action Jane off the shelf, turn up your preferred version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” and consider the month ahead. After all, you only have twenty-five days to explode from holiday-induced stress/joy. Better get on it.
- Looking for the perfect gift for the Austenite in your life? Check out our 2011 Jane Austen gift guide! Still looking for some inspiration and maybe some Etsy stores to peruse? See previous gift guides here and here.
- Everything you can do, Jane can do better: Action Jane’s Christmas!
- There’s no combination like Jane, classic holiday ballet, and a short-story contest: Jane and Mrs. Fitzpatrick take on The Nutcracker.
- Looking for a Christmas craft with a Jane twist, or just need something to put on top of the tree? Make your Action Jane into a Christmas tree topper!
- For your holiday cheer and possibly a nice outing for the fire extinguisher: How to make plum pudding!
- From the English countryside to the north pole: Play the Letters to Santa game, Jane Austen style!
The votes are in, the back-room meetings are concluded, and we have a winner for the Jane Austen Fancy-Dress Costume Contest!
Actually, that’s a lie. We have two winners. WHAT. You wanna make something of it? We like you, okay?
In the category of Outstanding Performance by a Costume Made from Kitchen Accessories, we have:
The Tin Man on the yellow sponge road! Ta-da! The judges were especially impressed by the heart personally chewed into shape by the artist, as well as the thoughtful use of the Emerald City in the background. Points for completeness and adorability. Congratulations, Miss Tarango!
In the category of Outstanding Use of a Scene That Is Really More of a Diorama Than A Costume, we present…
…Jane in 127 Hours! The judges commented specifically on the use of a slightly maimed Action Jane for artistic purposes, as well as the thoughtful recreation of southern Utah behind the main subject. Well played, Mr. Lim and Mr. Yoo! Appropriate prizes will be distributed in a timely manner.
Thank you to all our entrants, and congratulations to the winners!
The time has come and the submissions are in—just in time for Halloween, it’s the Jane Austen Fancy-Dress Costume Contest! We received a number of fine entries for our consideration, and we thank all who participated and/or cheered on the participants. Jane’s, er, new experiences included:
Jane lives her life like a candle in the wind. Or like something in the wind, anyway. (Via Mr. Lim)
Jane follows the yellow sponge road to the emerald city! (Courtesy of Miss Tarango and her teeth, which apparently personally shaped the gummy heart—and whose sacrifice we all appreciate.)
Jane horrifies all possible populations by dressing up in a dress of meat. “This was my idea, and nobody else has done it before,” she said. (Via Miss Ball)
Jane regrets sawing her own arm off, but some things can’t be helped. Would the BRONTEs have done it? We think not. (Via Mr. Lim & Mr. Yoo)
Jane terrifies small children Captain Hook, or possibly Jon Hamm on 30 Rock. Hard to say. (Via Miss Chong)
Stay tuned for the victory announcement—and in the mean time, feel free to champion the Jane of your choice in the comments. Happy Halloween, Austen-Nation! Stay safe out there.
So, it’s exactly twelve days until Halloween–and no, I don’t think there’s a song about birds in trees or golden rings for that one–and while I KNOW you have your OWN costume squared away, I’ve gotta ask you: What’s Jane going to be?
You…you ARE dressing up your Action Jane, aren’t you?
All I’m saying is, that green bodice/”here’s my feather and writing desk” thing has got to get soooo oooold for our dear Action Jane, and a change of thematic/sartorial scenery can’t hurt. So here’s what we’re going to do: We’re going to have an Action Jane costume contest. (Excuse me: a “fancy dress” contest.) Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to:
1) dress up your Action Jane in the Halloween costume of your choice,
2) take a picture of your handiwork, and
3) send the photo and a description of your Jane’s costume to missb at austenacious dot com by 6 PM PST, Sunday, October 30.
See? Like taking candy corn from a tiny trick-or-treater.
Don’t have an Action Jane? Don’t panic; just know that creative interpretations of the instructions may be rewarded.
The winner and her Action Jane get a prize, and by “prize,” I actually don’t just mean “bragging rights for having successfully clothed a six-inch plastic doll.”
Get on it, people! And spread the news!
After being such a good sport about hiking 100-plus miles in Glacier National Park this summer, I owed Jane a vacation that was a little less sweat inducing and a little more cerebral. Our dear friend, Mrs. Light, extended a gracious invitation to spend a few days at her cottage in Massachusetts. What could be better than autumn in New England?
The flight was uneventful, though we both lamented the state of meals while traveling. Gone are the days of leisurely stops at an inn, where one is served a roast and some wine to revive one’s spirits. Instead, eight grapes, half a walnut, and some cheese and crackers were the best we managed to acquire on the airplane.
Life became more civilized when we arrived in Amherst and made our way to the Emily Dickinson Museum. We marveled at Emily having a spacious room of her own and a writing desk that was at least four inches larger than Jane’s!
In that space Ms. Dickinson wrote nearly 1,800 poems! I am fond of this one:
I died for beauty, but was scarce
Adjusted in the tomb,
When one who died for truth was lain
In an adjoining room.
He questioned softly why I failed?
“For beauty,” I replied.
“And I for truth, — the two are one;
We brethren are,” he said.
And so, as kinsmen met a night,
We talked between the rooms,
Until the moss had reached our lips,
And covered up our names.
After the tour, Jane and Emily spent some time in the garden comparing notes about the difficulties of writing when your little sister was butchering Mozart on the piano in the back parlor. (I’m pretty sure I also heard them debating the merits of Gerard Butler and Jon Stewart when they thought we weren’t listening. Scandalous!)
The following day, we took a leisurely drive north through Vermont with a detour through Plainfield, New Hampshire to admire a display of Maxfield Parrish paintings and prints at the Town Hall. We were delighted to make the acquaintance of the artist’s granddaughter! Jane particularly admired the luminous quality of the print that Mrs. Light purchased.
Today we plan to cap our New England adventure with a visit to the Norman Rockwell Museum and a last look at the fall colors. Our minds and spirits have been revived with splendid scenery, art, friendship, poetry, and Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.
My Dearest Miss Ball and Mrs. Fitzpatrick,
Greetings from Glacier National Park! Miss Austen and I have been in the park for several days now, and each day has been filled with the most delightful wildflowers, animal sightings, and hikes for miles and miles. One of my favorite short hikes is from Swiftcurrent to Red Rock Falls. (Don’t tell Jane, but my friend Maggie saw me taking this photo and asked, “Oh, how cute . . . is that Aunt Jemima?” Next time I’m in Safeway I’ll have to stroll down the maple syrup aisle and see if there’s any resemblance.) On this particular hike, we saw a magnificent grizzly bear (far away in the hills) as well as a young grizzly fairly up close, though it was walking away. I think that convinced us to purchase bear spray.
The winter in Glacier was very long, so several of my favorite trails were not passable yet because of the snow. Jane and I opted to try the Cracker Lake Trail. The signage was not wrong: the trail was indeed a hearty 12 miles, and we saw the pictured mountain goat as well as a moose and a hoary marmot.
We were both mesmerized by the beautiful shade of blue of the lake! However, Jane seemed a little irritated when a passing hiker asked if she lost her arm like that guy in 127 Hours. Jane being Jane, she did not rat out my niece, Ella, for breaking her arm last summer on our Bermuda cruise. She simply told the hiker that her bionic arm was in the shop.
After so much hiking, we, of course, went to my favorite place to eat: the Park Cafe in St. Mary. What’s not to like about a restaurant with the motto “Pie for Strength”? We tried different flavors of pie almost every day. I had the apple, strawberry rhubarb (3 times!), and raspberry cherry. Thank goodness we’re averaging 9 or 10 miles of hiking a day!
One of my favorite hikes was the trail to Scenic Point, which started in the Two Medicine area. I had never hiked in that part of the park (it’s south of the Many Glacier area where we are staying), but the trail we had intended to hike to Grinnell Glacier was closed become some idiot thought it was a good idea to throw his backpack at a grizzly bear. So the park rangers closed the trail rather than allow more dumb humans to interact with bears, and we needed a new plan. Scenic Point was amazing because the view from the top included Two Medicine Lake and mountains in one direction (below) and the Montana plains going out into the distance in the opposite direction.
The next day, despite the threat of rain and more cold weather, we hiked to Otokomi Lake.
I’m afraid that Jane was a little uncomfortable traveling in my pack (oh the indignities she suffers!). Maybe I should have put the Cheeze-Its in the same pocket.
I didn’t think she had such a flare for the dramatic, but the next thing I knew she was wielding my Swiss Army knife as though we were going to duel!
We made up (eventually), and got back to the business of photographing the views and wildflowers. We even had some fun snowshoeing at Logan Pass. It’s hard to believe it’s July here!
I miss you guys! Hope all’s well in Cali, and I’ll see you soon.
PS—On the way back from Iceberg Lake, we ran into a grouse with a bunch of newborn chicks. My friend Heather made this video that makes me laugh, laugh, laugh. (Poor little silly chick.)