Assorted Thoughts on a Sunday Morning.

Credit Dave at Blogography for the inspiration for this overdue blog post.

So Erin has become addicted to Downton Abbey. And while I don’t share her love of the series, I’ve seen enough of it to appreciate its high calibre of acting (especially Michelle Dockery, whom I first discovered after watching The Hogfather), the drive of its writing, and the allure of its Upstairs, Downstairs nature.

However, I did happen to watch the third season Christmas special. As I recall, this took place after one of the daughters of the estate went into labour, delivered a baby, and then subsequently died of an embolism, and so all of the people in the estate are understandably wary as Michelle Dockery’s Mary approaches her own labour. But the delivery goes well, and Mary and her husband share a tender moment with their newborn son.

It’s at this point that Vivian came downstairs claiming that she could not sleep. We’ve been trying to convince her that not all adult television is full of scary, sad material, so while she shied away from the TV set, Erin told Vivian that this was a nice tender moment at the end of the Christmas special that we could all share in watching. And then we noticed that the tone of the music had changed, and become more ominous.

Erin, knowing something was up, swept Vivian up to her bedroom to help her get to sleep. I watched about ten seconds more as the husband headed home to bring the news to the family, only to have the scene quick-cut to a truck speeding up the same narrow road in the opposite direction, all overlaid with Mary’s monologue about hope and joy finally coming back to Downton Abbey. I could guess what was coming next.

So, I think I’ve got the peg of this series, now. Let me see if I’ve got this right: at the end of the next Christmas special, they all get Ebola, correct? And after that, an asteroid strikes the mansion, killing everything in a world-destroying fireball? I mean, seriously, does Joss Whedon write for this show? I know George R.R. Martin doesn’t, because if he did, the family would never get out of a wedding alive.

Is there some rule in television that characters can’t be happy for prolonged periods of time?

On another note, Erin and I had a rare evening off from the kids last night, thanks to grandma Rosemarie and poppa Michael, and we settled down to watch a movie. Sadly, Captain America: the Winter Soldier is not yet available on iTunes, but we did discover a surprisingly sweet and offbeat flick called Safety Not Guaranteed. The story focuses on a young intern named Darius (played by Aubrey Plaza), working for a Seattle-based magazine. She’s roped into an investigative report when one of the writers decides to follow up on a strange classified ad placed in a local newspaper. Someone is claiming to have invented time travel, and wants a partner to go with him on his journey. “Bring your own weapons, safety not guaranteed”. Clearly a nutcase, but possibly an interesting nutcase.

So the writer and the intern (along with another intern) check it out, and get roped up in a young man’s kinda, sorta harmless delusions (but are they delusions). And Darius, who has been crushed into cynicism by the senseless death of her mother years before, discovers that, though she doesn’t believe this guy, she wants to believe in him. There’s a couple of bizarre sub-plots, one involving the writer’s attempt to meet an old flame of his youth and recapture the thrill of a relationship lost in the decades that followed, and there’s a pair of government agents investigating said time-traveller less out of sinister intent, and more because they find the whole thing just a little weird and disturbing.

It’s a sweet movie with funny moments that could have used one more pass of an editor’s pen, in my opinion (some plot elements are left dangling; the money the would-be time traveller hands to a co-worker with a sick wife, and the part in the classified ad where he states “I’ve done this once before”, to name but two), but it is all held together by the acting of the principals, especially Aubrey Plaza. She is compelling to watch as her emotions run the gamut from cynical, to wry, to hopeful and bewildered. I also think she’d make a very good Perpetua if The Night Girl ever got adapted to film.

So, if you can access it via iTunes or Netflix, or if you can rent it, I recommend doing so. It’s a nice way to spend an evening.

In writing news, things are continuing apace, with promise of news that I can deliver staying juuuust out of reach. Watch this space over the next couple of weeks. The column for the Kitchener Post continues to go well, and here are a few things that I’ve written or revised in the past couple of months:

‘till later!

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