Oh No, Not Another Little Women

Forget my last post. THIS, apparently is what brought me back to blogging: the need to rant about yet another version of my precious Little Women, which has somehow found its way onto the big screen, again. Yes, a new film was released around two weeks ago, claiming to represent the beloved Louisa May Alcott work about four sisters and their coming of age story. Just how many versions of this story can be made, one may ask? Well, if you were to include silent films, theatrical plays, musicals, operas, radio programs, tv shows, and films, there would be a grand total of 20 documented versions of Little Women.

You may have read my post on the PBS’s Masterpiece version that was released just last year, and I’ve promised myself that I won’t be as harsh with this one. . . if at all possible.  I’m sure we can all agree that Gillian Armstrong’s 1994 version of Little Women has for certain, risen above all other attempts and that Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March were represented extremely well by Trini Alvarado, Winona Ryder, Claire Danes, and Kirsten Dunst, and it stands to reason that there will never be a better Laurie than young Christian Bale.

Now, after watching the film trailer, which can be found on YouTube, I’ve decided not to pay thirteen dollars to see this new version in theater because I would surely disrupt it for other viewers as I stand upon my seat screaming “That’s not historically correct!” or “That’s not even in the book!” After all, you can have all the best lighting, sets, color grading, and visual effects, but those things don’t really compete with the way the actual story of Little Women is told, and how the dialog and costumes are used to make us truly believe we’re in the middle of the Civil War.

On the other hand, maybe you’ve seen this new take on the book and found it enjoyable? That’s completely fine! Remember this is only me sharing my personal opinion. However, I did notice a few things in the official 3-minute-long trailer which at this moment has half a million views. Here’s what I noticed:

0:12 – We see four sister walking down a snowy street, two without any hats or bonnets (historically inaccurate). They also look a little homeless, but maybe I’m just too picky?

0:23 – We hear Amy tell her sisters that she wants to be the best artist in the world. Is it just me or does she seem older than all the sisters, and not the youngest child in the family? Why didn’t they find a younger actress to play ten-year-old Amy instead of trying to fool us out of knowing that the actress is actually twenty-three years old in real life?

0:57 – Jo’s at a party with her hair down. How did she get away with that? Quite shocking if you were to ask any historical reenactress today.

1:23 – It sounds like Jo is trying to convince Meg that they should run away from home? What?

1:32 – Ok, what in the world were they thinking? It’s Meg’s wedding day and she appears to be wearing something perhaps more fitting for the 1970s rather than 1870s, with her hair DOWN, uncurled, and with a side part (very historically inaccurate). With a budget of $40 million dollars, couldn’t they have hired someone who knew a little something about the standards of 1860s-1870s beauty? It’s her wedding day and is looking as though she forgot to wake up in time to do her hair. All throughout the trailer in fact, we see side parts and either straight or beach wavy hair, down about their shoulders and not up where it should be while in public, historically.

1:43 – Why is Jo burning her own writing? What happened to that being Amy’s trademark?

2:00 – Here is a staircase full of women presumedly at the Moffat party, perhaps? Ten girls dressed in basically the same dress, only each in a different pastel color with matching elbow length gloves, (not actually in fashion during the Civil War). It reminds me of a Disney cartoon/fairytale, instead of a historical drama in the way that each dress is the same. But that is only my personal opinion, of course. I also want to mention that I DID see many historically accurate gowns and outfits in the trailer that were quite beautiful in fact, ones that I absolutely cannot complain about.

2:29 – Jo is fashioned in a man’s jacket and derby. That would have been almost as strange to the people of New York in the 1870s as a man in a dress, literally. Yes, we all know Jo is a tomboy, but I doubt she would actually get away with that in public and not be harshly questioned for it.

What also riled me was that along with this new movie comes the selling of a book that a few people I know have bought. The front cover is a photo from the new film and inside are more pictures of the same. What I want to know is: Is this book the original book, or it is the 2019 adaptation that changes the plot to match Greta Gerwig’s script? Because, after reading a few articles, I know that not only little changes were made, but big ones too, like the ending. Emma Thompson, screenwriter and co-star of Sense and Sensibility 1995 once wrote in her production journal, “The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and Dairies” that she strongly rejected the idea to republish Jane Austen’s book as a “novelisation” adapted to match Thompson’s screenplay, and sell it as the real thing. She said the idea was revolting, meaning that if someone wanted to read Sense and Sensibility, they should read Austen’s original work. I must agree with our dear Emma.

Little Women 2019, which stars a slew of famous names, has been spoken of well by film critics (but we all know that means almost nothing) and was already nominated for two Golden Globe Awards, Saoirse Ronan for Best Actress and Alexandre Desplat for Best Original Score. Now, I’ve done some little detective work and have found the following interesting facts:

  1. Winona Ryder was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress as Jo March in 1994 but lost to Jessica Lange for Blue Sky.
  2. Thomas Newman was nominated for Best Original Score in 1994 but lost to Hans Zimmer for The Lion King.
  3. The great Colleen Atwood was nominated for Best Costume Design in 1994 but lost to Tim Chappel for a movie I’ve never even heard of.
  4. Little Women, 1994 budget was $18 million dollars. Little Women, 2019 budget was $40 million dollars.

Now for a few more recent facts about the 77th Golden Globe Awards, held on January 5th, 2020:

  1. Christian Bale (Laurie, Little Women, 1994) was nominated for Best Actor in Ford vs. Ferrari.
  2. Thomas Newman (score composer, Little Women, 1994) was nominated for Best Original Score in 1917 and was against Alexandre Desplat who wrote the new score for the 2019 Little Women.
  3. Kirsten Dunst (Young Amy, Little Women, 1994) was nominated for Best Actress in a Television Series.

None of these nominations ended up winning last night, but I did see that both Thomas Newman and Kirsten Dunst were at the awards on Sunday night, (no Christian Bale though). Now, I was thinking. What do Christian, Thomas, and Kirsten, who are all heavily connected to the previous Little Women think about this new production? What do the rest of the cast and crew think? Do they think it was time for a remake, or are they like me and not ready for a new take on this beloved story?

Maybe I’m a little sour over this whole ordeal, but what else am I to think while feeling as though the book has been ripped from my hands, cut up, pasted back together with modernly crafted glue, plastered with an unknown photo from a film, stripped from its universally known ending, then released to the entire world to accept as once before? What do you think? Please let me know! I want to hear any and all opinions!

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Have you seen this 2019 version? Am I dreadfully wrong not to see it and yet criticize it?

Should I stop this continuous ranting of movies I don’t like? (Insert mysterious pirate accent here: Because I hear tell there be a trailer for a “Secret Garden” remake that I feel the need to tear apart, being a strong believer in the treasure that is the 1993 version, arrgg!)

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Megan Joy

A Dozen Ways to Keep Busy During a Power Outage

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A few weeks ago, I lived by candlelight. No electricity, no internet, no running water, no refrigerator, no heat, and no oven. It was fun for a while; it was like living in the past! However, after continually trying to get things done and failing miserably for four days, life got very frustrating, very fast. So, I’ve put together a list of fun things to do to keep you busy during a power outage!

1)      Collect candles. Gather every candle and lantern that you can find in the house. Also, for more light, gather some empty glass jars, put tea lights inside, and place them all on a big metal tray (not plastic) and carry it around from room to room for some extra light. Just be cautious and extra safe about where you put flames and never leave them unattended.

2)      Play a board game. Gather your family and use candles or a flashlight to illuminate the room. Scrabble, Clue, and Life are some fun games to try!

3)      Make music. You could sing or play an acoustic instrument. If it’s too dark to read music, try playing by ear.

4)      Play hide-and-seek (or sardines). Make special rules like: you can only hide on one level of the house, or only the seeker can have a flashlight. It can make the game so much more thrilling when the seeker has to go through a pitch-black house searching for everyone! Do not use any real flames when doing this! (p.s. no one is ever too old to play a game of hide-and-seek)

5)      Do a coloring page. Get some colored pencils and a coloring book. A power outage is a great excuse to do something you wouldn’t have time to do ordinarily, like coloring. I personally like this book!

6)      Read these verses. 

John 8:12 – “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

Psalms 119:105 – “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

John 9:5 – “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Psalms 139:12 – “Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.”

Ephesians 5:8 – “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:”

7)      Write in a journal. Document everything that happens and write down how life is different with and without electricity.

8)      Play the story round game. Set a flashlight on the floor facing up and gather around it, (maybe with blankets and snacks). Have one person begin a story with one sentence. Then have the next person in line continue it, and so on until the story ends. Make it as wild or as mild as you wish!

9)      Make shadow puppets. Use a flashlight to cast shadows on the wall. There are so many different animals to do, you could make up a whole show. Make it a game by casting a shadow and having the others guess what it is.

10)  Read a book. It only takes one candle to illuminate a page. You could even read it aloud to someone, if you wanted.

11)  Make a list of all the things you have to get caught up on once the power is back on, things like, reset all the clocks, dispose of thawed out food in the refrigerator, and recharge all electric devices.

12)  Remember the olden days. Electricity is one of the world’s more modern discoveries! Up until the late 1800s, every family had to live without running water, electric lights, and heaters. They used candles or lanterns for light, wood or coal for warmth, and hand-drawn water every day! Thinking about it this way can even make us feel spoiled by all the many “luxuries” we’ve all been given, like flipping a switch to brighten a room, not to mention cell phones, computers, or toaster ovens!

Living in the past for a while has certainly made me more appreciative of what my ancestors once lived without, and I feel very thankful that I do not have to continue without power permanently. What are some other fun things that you could do during a power outage?

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Which board game is better: Scrabble, Clue, or Life?

Have you had a power outage yet this winter?

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Megan Joy

Poems of Old // Afton Water

This poem by the Scottish writer, Robert Burns, was composed in 1791, and later put to music as Flow Gently, Sweet Afton in 1837, by Jonathan Spilman. By what I’ve been recently told, I may be in some way related to Robert Burns the poet, so I feel a special connection to the words I’ve been singing for years. I love the words Burns chose to rhythm together; it’s such a lovely piece to read.

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Flow gently, sweet Afton, among thy green braes,

Flow gently, I’ll sing thee a song in thy praise;

My Mary’s asleep by thy murmuring stream,

Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream.

 

Thou stock-dove, whose echo resounds thro’ the glen,

Ye wild whistling blackbirds in yon thorny den,

Thou green-crested lapwing, thy screaming forbear,

I charge you disturb not my slumbering fair.

 

How lofty, sweet Afton, thy neighbouring hills,

Far mark’d with the courses of clear winding rills;

There daily I wander as noon rises high,

My flocks and my Mary’s sweet cot in my eye.

 

How pleasant thy banks and green valleys below,

Where wild in the woodlands the primroses blow;

There oft, as mild Ev’ning sweeps over the lea,

The sweet-scented birk shades my Mary and me.

 

Thy crystal stream, Afton, how lovely it glides,

And winds by the cot where my Mary resides,

How wanton thy waters her snowy feet lave,

As gathering sweet flowrets she stems thy clear wave.

 

Flow gently, sweet Afton, among thy green braes,

Flow gently, sweet river, the theme of my lays;

My Mary’s asleep by thy murmuring stream,

Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream.

Robert Burns, 1791

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Do you know this as a song or a poem?

Did you ever find out that one of your ancestors is well-known?

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Megan Joy

Sunday Bests // Red Tie in the Morning

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When I first put this outfit together, it was missing something, and it wasn’t until I walked past my brother’s tie collection that a bell chimed in my head. A tie! That’s what this jacket needs! I threw a red one around my neck, changed my shoes and purse to match, and ran out the door for church. At a reception afterward, a dear older man said that my outfit reminded him of a retro airline stewardess! I thought that was such a nice thing to say!

This “stewardess” outfit consists of mostly things that aren’t mine! The tie is my brother’s, the shoes are my sisters, and the skirt was sewn by my mom over 30 years ago. So now you know: I’m a clothes thief! However, the blouse and jacket are mine; they were gifts found at a thrift store. So I guess this outfit is even more special considering it didn’t cost me a cent! 

To go along with my post title, I’ve decided to include the old saying:

“Red sky at night,

Sailor’s delight.

Red sky in morning,

Sailor’s warning.”

It seems like I’ve known this little saying forever. Looking up at a blazing sky was a sign that tomorrow would be a beautiful day! What I didn’t know all those years, was that this little saying comes from the Bible! In the first book of the New Testament, Jesus was talking with the Pharisees and the Sadducees (leaders of the Jewish church). In Matthew 16:2-3 it says, “He answered and said unto them, when it is evening, ye say, it will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, it will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” KJV

In my own words, Jesus basically said, “You can know what the weather is going to be like tomorrow by looking at the sky, but you can’t figure out what is going to happen in the future by looking at the past?”

Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus said this, and it is still entirely true in today’s modern world of complex technology. Weather forecasters have all these instruments and devices to predict the weather, which they broadcast all across the country. If we are so proficient in the weather in that we can know the exact percentage of tomorrow’s precipitation, why is not everyone capable of looking at past history and learning from it? We can detect, or as Jesus says, discern, the future by looking at the past. History is forever repeating itself, so why not use our own brains to research it and use our knowledge to better the future? We each hold the brainpower to learn and to discern. I, personally, love history, though I know many people who have pledged their hearts against it. But history is not just all about dates and names. It’s about stories, great legends, and the lives of our very own ancestors!

Let’s not forget how smart we can be,

when we learn from our history!

Ok, I’m done my rant now! Until next time, faithful readers, carry on!

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skirt // made by my mom

jacket // thrifted

blouse // thrifted

tie // my brother’s

shoes // payless (my sister’s)

purse // thrifted

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Do you like the little red sky saying?
Did you know that it is from the Bible?
What do you think about learning from history?
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Megan Joy

Five Things Learned at a Civil War Reenactment

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If you’ve ever attended a Civil War reenactment, you’ve probably seen the rifles, cannons, tents, and hoop skirts. It’s like stepping into another world of the past. But recently, I was able to experience it like a true reenactor because. . .

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I now own a tent!

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Along with having a tent is the necessity of knowledge and experience about such things. Unfortunately, you don’t have this knowledge or experience until after you’ve attended multiple reenactments and have learned as you go. I’ve certainly learned a lot from my latest reenactment! Here are five things I learned at a Civil War reenactment.

1)     When pitching your tent, it’s best to know which way the wind is blowing.

Explanation: When we arrived at the Civilian’s camp, there was a large bit of land across from many other tents and a cooking fire. The fire burns all day to boil water, bake bread, cook stew, and is there for anyone’s use. What I hadn’t known was that I had staked my tent directly in line of the smoke trail from the fire. All weekend, it burnt our eyes, made us cough, and blew ashes and sparks into the tent, hence the empty plot of land that nobody had wanted for those reasons!

2) Get accustomed to people taking your picture.

Explanation: Being dressed up and doing living history in public means that people are going to take your picture. Some are so kind as to ask permission politely and sometimes little kids come up and stand next to you and smile. Others, on the other hand, don’t ask. They either get out their phone and tap the screen a million times, or they pull out a huge camera with a lens seven feet long. Then they stand in front of you from 5 seconds to 5 minutes taking your picture. Some will even instruct you how to pose while others catch you when your bonnet flies away with your hair in a mess.

3)     Learn to bite your tongue.

Explanation: As the battle reenactment occurs, you watch from afar with many other viewers. You must learn to bite your tongue when someone behind you begins “explaining” to their friend that the Battle of Gettysburg was the Japanese fighting against the Americans (yes, I actually heard this one). You must also learn to remain quiet when you hear questions among others like:

“Where are their tri-cornered hats?”

“Did the soldiers hide behind all those monuments on the battlefield?”

“Did the British win the Civil War?”

4)     Say, “thank you” a lot.

Explanation: People like to complement those dressed in historical clothes, so you must get used to replying, “thank you” when someone pronounces a quite common statement such as – “I love your dress!” Not that I’m complaining, it’s just something I’ve learned. The last time this happened to me I was watching my brother in the battle about to be shot (pretend, of course!) and a woman tapped me on the shoulder to say how much she liked my dress. After I said, “thank you” and eventually turned back to the battle, my brother was already down in the grass! I had missed the whole thing!

5)  Don’t stay in the soldier’s camp too long.

Explanation: If you’re in ear range of where the men gather around the fire to talk, you’re bound to hear a few words that may not be very suitable. . . so, it’s just better not to listen too carefully to their conversations!

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There are five things I learned at a Civil War reenactment!

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Have you ever been to a Civil War reenactment?

Have any of these things happened to you?

Megan Joy

On the Waterfront // 1863 Camp Dress

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This weekend, I attended my first Civil War reenactment of the year! The three-day event was filled with dresses, tents, campfires, and soldiers. There were two mock battles fought and many drills performed. My brother even joined the Union army and marched into the battles this year! I was so pleased when he came out alive. (Just a note, no one was using real bullets, of course; just blanks.)

After the last battle, my sister and I were able to sneak down to the waterfront and snap a few photos.

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This is my new camp dress that I bought from one of the sutlers at the reenactment. Sadly, the first time I wore it, it was torn while getting out of a truck! It’s only a minor rip and I can sew it up, so it’s not too bad.

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I found a stone that looked like a nugget of gold! It wasn’t, though.

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Now, I’d like to share a story that occurred after the event had concluded!

After leaving the reenactment, we stopped at the nearest mini mart for a snack to eat on the way home. We were still dressed in our Civil War attire, but weren’t too concerned about the funny looks we might get. To our amazement, a Confederate soldier entered the store just as we did, and we laughed to see each other. After departing the store with a snack and a cheerful story to tell later, we never could have imagined what would be added to our tale! As we neared our truck, we noticed that something was dangling from beneath the engine. Upon opening the hood and taking a closer look, we noticed that the fan belt had frayed and half of it had dislocated itself from the rest. When trying to remove the loose piece, we realized that it was stuck, tangled, and in need of some brute force to get it free. My brother, dressed as a Union soldier, crawled underneath the truck, and attempted to untangle the mess but to no avail. At the same moment, the same Confederate soldier was then exiting the store and noticed our troubles. He offered his help and suggestions to dislodge the piece and managed to pry it a little looser.

Meanwhile, another Confederate had parked just ahead, and when sighting our dismay, came to help. Seeing that more help had arrived, we thanked the first Confederate and he drove off on his long ride home. Now, the second Confederate was able to pull the belt free with my brother helping from beneath the truck, while my sister and I watched from the side. This task was completed. Now, the next question: could the truck be driven the long ride home with half of the fan belt? Probably not. As we discussed this, two more Confederates pulled up and asked if they could help! They helpfully told us of four auto stores nearby, and offered directions to them. After a game plan had been settled, we thanked all the Confederates and we dispersed on our own separate ways. It had been a joyful reunion between both strangers and “enemies” – Yankees and Rebels. It was surprising to realize that four Confederate soldiers would be so gracious as to help a Union clad solider when just hours before, they were in battle against each other! It proves that there are good people in the world, and found in the most unusual circumstances, too!

So, to carry on with the story, we had to drive to several mechanical stores until we found someone willing to help us so near to closing time. Once our truck was accepted (I sound like we were trying to get it into college!) and was pulled into our last resort garage, we were asked to wait while the mechanics replaced the belt. Then we realized that the snack we had bought in the first place was now five feet high on the car lifter thing in the garage! We had spotted a Wendy’s down the block earlier and decided that some of us could eat there. We assembled a parade and marched down the busy street in fashion! We received many a strange look once inside, but smiled and had a grand old time. Soon the truck was fixed and we headed home with a new experience to keep under our hats!

The moral of this story: “When in doubt, ask a Confederate!”

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dress // sulter tent

bonnet // sulter tent

belt // handmade

bag // thrifted

shoes // thrifted

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Have you ever been to a Civil War reenactment?

Can you relate to any part of this story?

I challenge anyone to walk into a Wendy’s, wearing an historical outfit, and order fries to go! If you do, don’t forget to take a photo, and send it to me via email! The first person to capitalize on this awesome challenge before the end of May will win a $10 Wendy’s gift card!

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Megan Joy