Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"Nothing lovely is over and done with until the last person who remembers it forgets."

Well, I'm back.

Back from Melody's house, that is.  Back from eight glorious days with my best friend and one rather stressful night spent in a strange city due to flight delays.  Back from giggles and nonsense and serious late-night conversations and more strawberries than were good for me.  

I'm really not sure how to describe the visit, to be honest-- the picture above is worth a thousand words.    In fact, the thing that's coming to my mind at the moment is (surprise, surprise) a song lyric.  

It well may be that we will never meet again in this lifetime
[but I certainly hope it's not!!!]
So let me say before we part-- so much of me is made from what I learned from you
You'll be with me, like a handprint on my heart.
And now whatever way our stories end, I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend.

"So much of me is made of what I learned from you..." that's the bit that sticks out to me at the moment.  What did I learn on this trip? A lot.   

For starters, I learned...

... just how short eight days can be, especially when you've been anticipating them for about two hundred.

... how much fun it is to do mundane tasks when you're with your best friend.  Setting up a bed for yourself on her bedroom floor is the greatest thing ever, and drying dishes is the best pastime you could imagine.

...that no matter how self-conscious you may normally be about Causing Scenes in a Public Place, you will drop everything and run through an airport terminal to meet your Tween without caring what people think of your crazy, laughing, spinning, crying, tripping-over-luggage, absolutely swelliferous first hug.

... that little things will be the ones that stick in your memory the most.  Like the way Melody brought the pocket dolls I'd sent her last year to the airport with her to meet me, and how squealy and delighted I was when she pulled them out of the side pocket thingy in the car.  {side note: isn't her purse adorable?  That's what they're sitting on.}

... to be careful about laughing too loudly or appearing to be enjoying oneself too much when one is in an antique mall.  Otherwise the employee who comes to unlock the ladies' room for you might be prompted to mournfully observe that "you girls are having way too much fun."  Yes.  Yes, we are.  Is there a problem.

... that when two people are as close as Melody and I are, their minds tend to work in the same wondrous ways.  Which is why I should not have been surprised when we opened presents from each other and discovered that each had given the other a white teacup and saucer with pink roses on them.  They're not identical... but they're similar enough to give us a good laugh.  Plus the fact that we both thought of teacups, of all things we could have given... yep, it was amusing in the extreme.  (I love my teacup muchly, by the way.  I wish I'd gotten a picture of both of them together but alas, I forgot.)

... that burritos can be reheated nicely and tacos can't.  Therefore...
"Amy should eat her taco tonight and save the burrito for tomorrow since she doesn't want both at once."
"Wait, no, she's never had a burrito so she should have the burrito tonight."
"But the taco will get rubbery if it's reheated."  
"Okay, so she should eat the taco... wait, what about the burrito?  She'll probably like the burrito better."
"If she doesn't eat the burrito, someone else can eat it." 
"Why doesn't someone else just eat the taco?"
"What if she DOESN'T like the burrito?"
"Why doesn't she just eat the taco and cut off a bite or so of the burrito so she can see what it tastes like, and then if she doesn't like it someone else can eat it?"
(This was, in fact, the final outcome.  And I did like it.  But someone else ate it anyway because I'd already had the taco.)

... that the wake-up alarm on my cell phone is annoying to other people.

...that frightfully hot weather can keep one in a continual state of inelegance.

...that apple-carrot-ginger juice is really gross.  (Yes, Tween, I know you told me so. What can I say? I'm adventurous.) 

...that the danger of an open fire pit in the backyard can be minimized by the presence of a working hose and a glass of milk.

...that everything is funny when you've had too many shmoes.  ("They're called s'mores, Buzz.")
"You know what?  The wooden soldiers."

...that the best time to jump on the trampoline is when daylight dissolves into darkness... DARKNESS...

...that everything can be turned into a Phantom quote.  "Poooooor fool, he makes me laugh!"

...that when one is telling spooky (okay, not so spooky) stories around the campfire, there is no reason to jump and half-shriek when Melody's mom innocently opens the kitchen door and comes outside.  Because I was the one telling the story, therefore I should not have been scared.  Logic.

... that you are not supposed to say "go fish" when you're playing Authors.  Also, it is more important to collect all four Jane Austen cards than to actually win.

...that when you are playing ImaginIff, it's tremendous fun to put fictional characters' names into the mix if you don't have enough players to make all eight.  "If Mr. Collins were an annoying habit, what would he be?"

...that you can have fun at a water park even if it's only 85 degrees out and you're beginning to turn blue after getting dunked at the bottom of a slide.

..that you don't lay on mats to go down a slide.  You lie on them.  (Listen and learn, O Peoples Who Write Directions on Signs at Water Parks.)

...that the game Password is fiendishly hard but delightful nonetheless.

...that it is a Federal offense to record people's conversations without their knowledge.  (Okay, well, I already knew that one... but I was REMINDED of it.  And no, I wasn't the guilty party in this episode.  For once.  :P)

....that sleep is for the weak and caffeine is for the courageous.  You can sleep when you're dead.

...that Melody is really good at doing people's hair.

...that it makes them sound so much more sophisticated when you say "squares de lemoooooon" in a French-ish voice rather than just boring old "lemon squares."

...that when you make gingerbread for a party, you need to tell people ahead of time that it's gingerbread and not brownies so they don't bite into it thinking it's a brownie and then wonder why it's molasses-flavored.

...that if a trampoline MUST be in the way during an Old-Fashioned Elegance Tea, you can make the best of it by draping said trampoline with artificial flower garlands.

...that the best nicknames are the ones people don't know they have.  We are good at making up names for people, we are.  :D

...that it's really fun to whistle Blandois' little tune from Little Dorrit when you're in an echo-y place so you can (hopefully) scare the wits out of your Tween.  It doesn't always work but it's still fun.

...that if you're going to read aloud to each other by candlelight, you have to have fire extinguishers handy.  If the fire extinguishers come in the shapes of Dixie cups full of water from the bathroom sink, so be it.  (Stop laughing, Melody, your bedroom could have burned down if those candles had fallen over.  BURNED.  DOWN.   To the GROUND.)

...that it is quite easy to communicate with just a look when Melody is the person I'm communicating with.  A wink, a smirk, a raised eyebrow, whatever... if someone says something funny, all we have to do is glance at each other.

...that "if there's anything worse than a young girl making goo-goo eyes at a young boy, it's some old bat making a fool out of herself for some old geezer!"  (It's a quote, guys.  Now, if you know what it's from, you'll get imaginary squares de lemoooon.)

...that it is hard to write in a journal when you're on a twisty, bumpy dirt road.  (Thank you for pointing that out, my dear.)

...that mountain lakes are gorgeous, gorgeous things of gorgeousness.

...that you are never too old to write your name in the dust on your friend's car after you've traversed fourteen miles of twisty, bumpy dirt road.  (It says "Melody and Amy were here, 7/15/13," in case you couldn't make it out."

...that it's really hard to find cute matching pajamas for a good price at Walmart, but it IS possible.  (and no, there will be no pictures of Melody and me in our matching pajamas.  sorry.)

...that whoever invented subtitles for movies is a genius, because how else could you talk and giggle through every scene in Emma and still be able to follow what's going on? Well, unless you'd seen the movie 4 and 12 times respectively.  That helps too.

...that if you're going to jump on the trampoline at one o'clock in the morning (of the day you're supposed to go home), there is a slim chance that you might get locked out of the house.  Melody's dad (haha, first I typed "Mr. Melody'slastname" and then had to erase that...) came downstairs at one point to get a snack or something, noticed that the porch light was on, and came over to turn it off.  Then he must have gotten suspicious as to why it was on in the first place, so he poked his head out the door to see what was up.  We, of course, were lying flat on our stomachs on the trampoline stifling giggles.  He must have heard our muffled laughter, because he looked around, shook his head, left the light on and went back into the house without locking the door.  Thankfully.  Though we did have backup plans in case we DID get locked out for real.
"Let's dig a hole under the foundation of the house and get in from below!"
"Or we could just throw rocks at [Melody's brother's] window until he wakes up and lets us in."
"Or we could just spend the night on the trampoline."
"It's gonna get cold out here..."
"I don't think it's really locked."
"Yeah, we're good.  Let's bounce some more.  Quietly."
The door was not actually locked, though I did (unsuccessfully) try to convince Melody that it WAS since I reached it first when we were done bouncing.  But she's not so easily fooled.

...that "one AM, two AM, three!" are the best times of night (er, day) for baring your soul and telling your most appalling secrets.

...that there is a My Fair Lady quote for almost everything.  Aoooowwwwww.  (We didn't do that one enough, Tween.  I can only think of two instances.  Sad, that.)

...that Eliza Doolittle and Freddy Eynsford-Hill are the ideal roles to play if you ever get an opportunity to be in MFL.   I mean, seriously, you get to scream your head off and throw temper tantrums like a crazy person or run crazily around the stage and smack into fences like a complete dork.  What's not to love?

...that cute little tea shops are way. too. much. fun.  And Cherry Rose Festival tea is delicious.  And it's actually not bright yellow like it appears in the picture.  More of a transparent beige.

...that acting out the Haunted Wood scene from Anne of Green Gables while up in the mountains is tremendous fun, but it won't take long before your mothers figure out what you're doing ("well, you went off into the woods alone with a script and were giggling your heads off...") and are heartily amused by it.

...that the only way to eat an apple properly is to say "Really?" in a Katherine Brooke voice before taking your first big chompy bite.  Precede all following bites with quotes from other books and movies, if possible.  If not possible, just giggle and eat the apple normally.

...that "Winifred" rhymes with "empty head."  (Okay, now you get to name THAT quote.)

...that if you try too hard to make sense of a time-travel movie, your brain will hurt, so just watch the movie and sigh over the romantic parts and cry over the sad parts and eat strawberries and don't worry about logic.

...that if it hadn't been for Jane Austen, Melody and I never would have met.  We owe a lot to that woman, we do.

...that it is never a bad time to spontaneously break into Christine's part from the Final Lair.  "Pitiful creature of darkness, what kind of life have you known?  God give me courage to show you, you are not aloooooooooone!"  *loudly hums orchestra's part*

...that we ought to be thankful that Sarah Brightman's style of singing is so personalized, because we can recognize that it is she who is singing and promptly turn it off.

....that if you serve chocolate raspberry sticks at a party, they will get eaten much faster than you think.

...that parting is not sweet sorrow, it's just sorrow.

...that there comes a time when hiding in the closet so you don't have to go home ceases to be an option.  "I shall not leave... but shall hi-ide... over THERE."  (Seriously, if you get all these quotes, you are either Melody or a very smart person.  The two are not mutually exclusive.)

...that there is no shame in crying in a busy airport.

...that "no matter where our stories end, I know you have rewritten mine by being my friend."

Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
I do believe I have been changed for the better
And because I knew you
I have been changed for good.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

It's the Big Three-Oh-Oh!

I don't normally post updates on how many followers this blog has, but I happened to log on just now and see that we've finally hit 300 lovely people on that Google Friend Connect box after teetering for so long around 297.  Soooo I just want to say that you are all awesome and I love you muchly and I seriously wouldn't be writing this blog if it weren't for you and your fabulous comments and support and all that.  And I promise I will not be so scarce around here in the weeks to come.  I hope.

And, uh, what was up with Google Friend Connect going away?  Because it's still there as far as I can see... and I signed up for Bloglovin' to no avail, apparently.  Shnibbles.  Silly Google.

It's late and I'm supposed to be in bed but I'm laughing way too hard over this (probably because I should be in bed) and had to share it before I turn in.

There ya go.  Have yourselves a good giggle and then you should get to bed too, unless you live in Australia in which case go do something productive.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"Well, I'd like to fly and spit diamonds, but that don't make it so."

Annnnnnd we're back!  Here to tell the tea shop story, as requested.  This is our last day together (SOB)-- in point of fact, we have but forty-five minutes remaining before we have to leave for the airport--so we shall make this snappy and try not to weep and wail too much.  (This is Amy.)

Well, then, tell the story. And don't forget the goatee. (This is Melody.)

I'll begin if you want me to, but I make no promises about shoving the laptop at you and saying, "Your turn."  :D

So it all happened on July 10th, when we went to the Pemberley Mall together to do what teenage girls do at malls (and a great deal that most teenage girls don't do).  We call it the Pemberley Mall because that was not actually its name, and we happen to like naming things after Jane Austen Stuff.  Let's see, what all did we do at the mall? *shoves laptop*

Heh, heh, well, SOME of it I think should stay 'tween you and me.  Muwahahaha. *wink wink*

Oh very well, but we can at least tell some of the less embarrassing stuff.  Like making faces to match that Grumpy Cat t-shirt?  And the old coot who walked by while you were making your grumpy face and told you to smile? 

Oh, good grief. Apparently old coots have a habit of saying that to me. :P

Okay, well, we were walking by this shop that had a really dumb name regarding teas, which we won't share here in case it's not a chain and some of you might look it up and figure out where Melody lives.  Heh heh heh.  Anyways, they had some free samples on the edge between the store and the mall hall or whatever you call it, and so we decided to sample some, and THEN....

THEN he was like the Spirit of Christmas Present except more quiet. You know, "COME IN AND KNOW ME BETTER, MAN!"

Okay, that's a little freaky sounding.  It wasn't quite that bad.  More like, "Pleeeeeeease come in and sample more teeeeeeeeeeea."  This dude was an employee, by the by.  Whom we suspect strongly of working on commission.

Indubitably.  He had all the sales lines down, too. "This is our most expennnnsive teeeea. Connoisseurs think it quite diviiiine." *strokes little goatee on tip of chin*

Wait, you have a goatee, Miss M????

Not me, silly. Him.

"Him?  Who him?"

Okay, so when we were still standing kind of outside the shop (he came along and decided to assist us with sampling the two teas by the doorway) and after giving us some, he looks us over and says "Hmmm, you girls seem very conservative."  And we were like... o.O

I can't decide which of our multiple body piercings, tattoos and dyed hair gave him that impression... anyways, we said, "And you look like a weirdie."

Thought. She means thought. :P

Technicalities, technicalities.

You know I like to be technical when it suits my purposes. ;)
Anyway, after those two samples he kept taking us in farther, crisscrossing back and forth along the two tables and giving us more tiny samples of tea. Which tasted quite expensive.  However, Amy rather liked the tea (as did I, but she is more of a tea person than I am), and wanted to know how much it was. Heh, heh, heh. 

"No, don't ask," said I.  "There aren't any prices anywhere. That means it must be ridiculously expensive." 

But I do not listen to reason, at least not when it suits me not to, and I asked the dude how much the tea cost.  After all, I am more adventurous than my friend.  (Ha... that was another strange remark he made, when I tried this Strawberry Champagne stuff [IT WAS NOT ACTUALLY CHAMPAGNE] and Melody primly refused.)  As it turns out, the cheapest kind was $64 per pound.  "Oh dear saints above, I shall swoooooooon."

And I just kind of stood there like "I told you sooooo." Then we fled out as soon as possible. 

And giggled about it as we moved through the rest of the mall.  We're still giggling about it, in point of fact.  Giggling is what we do best.  Poor fool, he makes us laugh.


Um, we've been singing that line ALL WEEK.  Like, every few minutes.  And everything fits that tune, too. 

We must wrap this up so that we can spend time together other than tapping and sniggering. Which is of course fun, but you know. THE TIME IS RUNNING DOWWWWN.  
So here. Wrap it. :P

You peoples reading this must understand that this has been the best week of our lives.  I don't think I exaggerate, and if I do, it is not my own fault, is it, Mrs. Allen?

My dear, you tumble my gown. (But you do not exaggerate. :D)

We have had so much fun and done so many things, which we hope to tell you about in the near future, but we have not the time today.  For instance, the tale of being on the trampoline after one AM last night (er, this morning) when Melody's papa came downstairs and nearly locked us out of the house...

Hahahahaha. More on that later. ;)

But for now... we shall have to say farewell.  So long, farewell and all that jazz.  GOOOOOO! GO NOW AND LEEEEEEEEAVE MEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Let us not have tears. Partings are a natural part of life.

To ease the pain of this news, I have glad tidings. We shall adjourn early this afternoon, make our way to the Spurgeon farm, where Moody's parents have consented to host a celebration in honor of my departure.

...Nobody told ME.

P.S.  The post title is a quote from the Road to Avonlea episode "Hearts and Flowers," which we watched together, and the quote has nothing to do with this post but we found it funny.  :D

Friday, July 12, 2013

Didn't we say we'd post something together in real life? Yes, I think we did.

*watching Emma 2009 last night*
Mr. Weston: Which two letters of the alphabet express perfection?
Emma: Two letters...? I am sure I do not know!
Mr. Weston: M and A! Do you understand?
Melody: *squeals* MELODY AND AMY!!!!!

How shall we begin?  Which of our important nothings shall we tell you first?

Well, first of all, we have met in real life and are together at long last.  And in case you couldn't tell, "we" refers to Amy and Melody (Miss Dashwood and Miss Marianne).   Okay, Melody, it's your turn to talk now. 

Um... that's all I can think of. :P

You goose.

I am NOT a goose.

Of COURSE you are.

If I am a wild Beast I cannot help it. It is not my own fault. (Is it, Mrs. Allen?)

My dear, you tumble my gown.

We're nuts. But y'all knew that, right??

Two nuts in a case.  Indubitably.
Okay, we should probably write something of substance now instead of quoting at each other.

But... oh, fine, if you insist. Okay, by the way, everything in green is Amy and everything in purple is me. Er, Melody. 
Here, YOU say something of substance.

Perhaps we should tell you all what we have been doing.  Well, giggling has been first and foremost.  Melody is snorting even as I write this.  Er, snicker-snorting.  Which is more interesting.

If you sy so. :D

I didn't sy so, Eliza; I didn't even SAY so.

Um... we're doing it again. Naughty us.

You promised me a jig, you NAUGHTY boy!

Just don't know where to stop, do ya?

If I am a wild Beast... oh, right, you said that before.  

Yup. Hush up, can't you? ;) ;)

This is beginning to look like a gmail chat.  Our readers will be bored to death with it.  Bored to death with the rain, bored to death with their lives, bored to death with themselves.  How about we show them some pictures and tell them about what we've been doing?

Pictures! Good plan. Go ahead.

Very well, I shall do all the work and you can sit there and snigger at me.

I was just going to say "and I can just sit there and giggle," but you sort of beat me to the general idea. (HOW MANY TIMES HAS THAT HAPPENED.)

Really, it's unbelievable how many times we've said the same thing together already.  :D :D 

So.  Let's see.  Well, we've gone out for a walk and listened to music together on dual headphones, which was kind of hilarious (wait, what do I mean "kind of"?) because we kept lip syncing along to various songs and acting all dramatic.  "Pitiful creeeeeeature of darkness, what kind of life have you known?  God give me courage to show youuuuuuuu, you are not aaaaaaalooooooooooooooone!!!!!"  

She just shoved the laptop at me again. Well well. Yes, that was just the first evening. We can't possibly cover everything right now... although I'm thinking we'll probably give you another rundown after the fact. (Only I would prefer not to think of after the fact. :P "If I could, I would tell you how I wish our time together could go oooon and oooon and neeeever eeend..." Um, that's from the S&S musical...)

We've also been watching period dramas.  Emma first, now we're on Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel.  And I just said that for an excuse to include this picture 'cause it's purty.

We went to the mall and goofed around a lot... as teenaged girls are supposed to do-- only, um, our own take on it. ;D (We would tell you about the weird guy in the tea shop but we probably don't have time.) And yesterday a dear friend of mine (who lives near me) came over and we had a delightful time, quite delightful indeed, and then after she left we went to a water park and yelled songs while coming down the slides. The way my voice sounds today proves this fact. :P

Haha, yeah, the Lark Rise to Candleford theme was the best, I think, but we did a pretty good job with "Just You Wait," too.  And of course we had way too much fun making fun of the people around us wearing spandex underwear.  Well, hey, they asked for it.  And we did it quietly.

We've been doing this too. :D

And a great deal of this... we're good at this one.

*Amy shoves laptop at Melody*  Take it.  

I'm not feeling creative, ma'am. 

She's got a proud something-or-other, this one.  (Brain?  Fingertips?)  Give 'er a meal of chaff, I say.

Um... ew.

Yes, Auntie, I'll give her a meal of chaff... come along, Arthur...

My name isn't Arthur.
Well, we seem to be running out of sensible things to say (um... have we actually said anything sensible? ... o.O) so here's another picture.  Worth a thousand words and all that.

We're hiding our faces so the world will never find us.  One must be careful on the Internets, you know.  :D 

On rereading this before publishing.. all I can think of is that we're pretty amusing.

But no one will ever be as entertained by us as us.  :D

I mean, here we are singing "Six Little Ducks That I Once Knew"... yep, we're crazy.  We're all mad here.

Indubitably. :D

Just so you know...

...there so happens to be a delightful giveaway going on over at the P&P95Forever Club.  Melody and I arranged it in celebration of the fact that we're together at long last (yep, at this identical minute-- post coming on that topic later today, hopefully!).  So I just wanted to tell you you should hop over there and check it out.  You could win something lovely!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Les Miserables 2012: Part Two

"Have you asked of yourselves... what's the price you might pay?"
~Enjolras, Red and Black

Part Two! Part Two is here!  I shall restrain myself and not gush like a screaming fangirl, I promise--
--oh, who am I kidding.  I really will do my best to remain mature and level-headed, but I can't promise that there won't be a few squeals.

So my sister and I were calmly clapping and doing happy wiggle dances when "Stars" ended (no, no, not because it was over--we're not THAT rude, and besides it really was pretty good) and then the screen changed to show THE ELEPHANT and the whole Paris of 1832 thing and I literally levitated.  Or bounced on my bed.  Whatever.  Because, you know, SQUEEEE, MY BABY IS STORMING PARIS WITH HIS BAND OF CUTE FOLLOWERS.

That was definitely a squeal.

Um, anyways.   I was really apprehensive about Daniel Huttlestone as Gavroche... my first impression was that he was too cutesy and not tough enough to play the toughest character in the musical.  I was quite happily proven wrong... and Adam Searles has been bumped off his top spot as Favorite Gavroche.  (TAC still rules though.  Just saying.)

There was just too much adorableness bouncing around in that scene.  The extra verses added to Look Down (loved those!) and the jumping onto Courfeyrac's back... can we talk about how cute the Gavroche/Courfeyrac relationship was?  I'm only disappointed that there wasn't more of it... according to an interview someone did with Fra Fee, there were several other scenes featuring the two of them that got cut.  Sigh.

Oh, and for more on Gavroche, check out this post I wrote for Eva's blog... it'll save me from repeating it all here.

And then a certain someone's face was flashing onto the screen and THIS was what I've been waiting for since... since birth.  Er, since last January when I first found out that the movie was being made.  Whatever.  "Look Down" was awesome.  So much passion, so much anger, so many people singing all at once.  Even the concerts didn't have that many.  The sheer magnitude of this film overwhelmed me many times, and this was one of those times.

Shall we take this thing in an orderly manner and deal with all the barricade boys, one by one?  We shall.  And, naturally, we will begin at the beginning.

I'm sorry, was that too many pictures?  I'm just bowing to requests from the people who read this blog.  If it were up to me the whole post would be photo-free.  Just so you know.

Certain people who happen to be my siblings have pointed out that when I first found out Aaron Tveit (and not Ramin Karimloo) would be playing Enjolras in the movie, I was somewhat disgusted.  "Oh, some Broadway pretty boy with a voice like Justin Bieber.  He'll ruin the part and he probably can't hit the notes in One Day More."

Well, uh, I do not remember such words.  Don't say that you remember them.  I will do remembering.

Basically, Aaron Tveit was the best Enjolras I've ever seen.  I know, I know.  The Ramin fans are approaching with menacing expressions and muskets held high even as we speak.  Let me clarify.  I still think Ramin Karimloo was an absolutely fabulous Enjo.  He will always hold a special place in my estimation as the one who made the character come alive for me.  (Michael Maguire was great and all, but he just didn't cut it.  Sorry.)  And his voice is still the greatest as far as Enjolras is concerned.  No dispute there.

But Aaron Tveit is the Enjolras of the book.  The leader, the chief, the heart of the revolution, the one who could yell at his friends for mooning over girls and getting drunk instead of planning a riot, but in the next minute snap his fingers and have everyone's attention and loyalty to the end.  (And I do mean the end.  SNIFF.)  The marble lover of liberty, the boy disowned by his wealthy parents because of his political opinions, the man whose greatest love was his country (which is referred to as Patria, and please tell me I'm not the only one who used to think that was a girl's name...), the charismatic law student who is repeatedly described as angelically handsome.  (Cough.  Cough.)

Also he's a really good singer.

"The processes of revolution have always been the same, and to lead men into them there have always been required, first, a cause or pretence to enlist adherents; second, an end, or something as a practical achievement. As a rule he fights well who has wrongs to redress; but vastly better fights he who, with wrongs as a spur, has also steadily before him a glorious result in prospect--a result in which he can discern balm for wounds, compensation for valour, remembrance and gratitude in the event of death."
~Lew Wallace, Ben-Hur

Logically, we shall proceed next to Courfeyrac.  Played to perfection by Fra Fee, who has the most amusing name in the credits and the most adorable accent in the entire film, Courfeyrac is one of my favorite barricade boys.  Or revolutionaries.  Or students.  Or les Amis.  Or whatever you want to call them.  He's just so much fun.  Gregarious, bubbly, always ready to discuss politics or doeskin trousers (whichever topic comes up first), Courfeyrac is the glue that holds les Amis together.  He's the one who welcomes Marius into the group, gives him a place to stay and shuts him up when his ranting about Napoleon begins entering dangerous waters.  (Enjolras doesn't take kindly to opposition in debate.)  Not one of the barricade boys gets the amount of attention he deserves in the film (I know, I know, time constraints) but Courf's personality shines through despite his limited screen time.

And as we all know, nothing beats that line.

On to Combeferre.  "Enjolras was the chief, Courfeyrac was the center, Combeferre was the guide."  Victor Hugo tells us that Combeferre completed Enjolras, that where Enjolras was severe, Combeferre was gentle.  Gentle and yet resilient-- one gets the impression, at least in the movie, that Combeferre is tough as nails.  Killian Donnelly (who, incidentally, has also played Enjolras and Courfeyrac) does a fabulous job of playing the student who took care of everyone else (even under cannon fire and while dodging bayonets) and spouted long harangues on everything under the sun, yet summing up the thing they were all striving for--"to be free"--in three simple words.  Enjo's my favorite, as you probably already guessed, but Combeferre comes second.  And he, too, has a great voice.  But hey, almost all the barricade boys are seasoned West End veterans, well-versed (pun not intended...) in Les Mis long before they were cast in the movie.

I'll admit, I had my misgivings about George Blagden's ability to play Grantaire.  Most of these stemmed from the fact that he looks nothing like Hadley Fraser, who played R in the 25th Anniversary Concert (and also happens to be one of my favorite musical theatre actors) and that he wasn't a Broadway or West End star.  I was quite happy to be proven wrong-- his Grantaire is everything that book-Grantaire ought to be, with an excellent voice to boot.  Am I sounding redundant?  Well, who cares.  The barricade boys should have their own band.  Just saying.  (There will be a ranting session in Part Three about how "Drink With Me" was cut down to practically nothing... be prepared.)  Anyways, Grantaire is the cynic of the group who also happens to have the best sense of humor (which is why he wasn't booted out of the Cafe Musain ages ago).  He basically worships the ground Enjolras walks on, because Enjolras is everything he isn't-- charismatic, focused, has a goal in life, doesn't get drunk before breakfast, etc.  George Blagden did a wonderful job of communicating all this just with a few facial expressions and, like, ten and a half minutes of screen time.  Bravo!

Joly is just adorable, okay?  (So is Hugh Skinner... but that's not the point.)  He's a medical student who's more knowledgeable in How to Be a Patient than How to Be a Doctor-- that is, he's les Amis' resident hypochondriac, but he's also hilarious.  And a proud member of the Make Fun of Marius Club.  (We're getting to Marius.  Be patient.)  In the book, he whiles away the time before the final attack calmly inspecting his tongue in the mirror.  Looking for strep throat, maybe?  I don't know.  But it's funny.  In a morbidly tragic kind of way.

Jean Prouvaire (sometimes known as Jehan to the other Amis) is a real sweetheart.  Hugo tells us that he liked to go for long walks and write poetry, that he was in love, that he wanted freedom for the people just as much as anyone else but he went about it gently.  Alistair Brammer played Prouvaire in the 25th Anniversary Concert as well, and he did beautifully in both parts.  I liked how he portrayed Jehan as quiet and affectionate without being a wimp... too often poor Jehan gets labeled "prissy" or "weak" by the fandom, and I think that's a crying shame.

It's also interesting to note that Jehan and Combeferre wear the exact same outfit in "Do You Hear the People Sing?"-- was that intentional?

We are told that Bossuet was a cheery fellow who was unlucky, but unfortunately Stuart Neal as Bossuet (or Lesgles, his actual name) has so few appearances that we don't really get to see that side of his character.  We see the cheery bit, that is, because he's literally ALWAYS smiling except when he's getting killed (and warning the others about more soldiers), but we don't really see the unlucky part.  I do, however, wish to point out that the Bossuet of the book is the oldest of the group when they are first introduced (twenty-five, how frightfully Methusalehsque!) and has already lost most of his hair... whereas Stuart Neal looks about fifteen and has more hair than Aaron Tveit (and that's sayin' a lot).

The pathetic shortage of pictures of Bahorel from the movie have forced me to resort to using this one, from The Young Revolutionaries DVD extra.  (Go watch it.  Well worth your six minutes.)  Bahorel's pretty young and he gets excited easily and he likes to smash things up.  And he dies in Enjolras' lap.  Which is sad.  We'll get to that.  Umm.... that's about it.  We're getting into Obscure Character Territory here.  

Last one, I promise.  This poor barricade boy doesn't even have a name, but he's played by Jamie Muscato, a West End actor who portrayed Joly in... (everyone together) ....the 25th Anniversary concert!  I've named him Pierre, since the screenwriters didn't see fit to give him a real name, and I get excited and point like a two-year-old when his face flashes blurrily on the screen.  Why?  I'm not really sure.  I just remembered him as the only one of les Amis other than Enjo and Grantaire who stood out to me on my first couple viewings of the 25th concert (probably his distinctive nose and hair had something to do with it) and when I discovered he was in the movie, it was like seeing an old friend.  Or at least a familiar face.  Whatever.

I don't want to keep you guys here all night, so I'll just sum up my opinion on the barricade boys with a Sound of Music quote-- "love them, Captain, LOVE THEM ALL!"

On to... everyone's favorite loser.

Oh, now come on.  Put the bottles down.  Marius IS kind of a loser.  You have to grant me that.  But he's a lovable loser.  And it's absolutely impossible to hate him, because whether we admit it or not, we all have a little bit of Marius in us.  Failure to see things staring us in the face, making the wrong remark at the wrong time, getting overdramatic when we don't get our way... yeah, don't pretend you don't see a trend.  Marius is relatable whether we want him to be or not.  

I feel like a broken record here, but Eddie Redmayne was another of the "I-am-totally-not-sure-about-this-actor's-ability-to-play-that-character" people.  I believe my initial reaction upon seeing a picture of him for the first time was something along the lines of "ewww."

I need to work on my people skills, I think.

At any rate, I was proven wrong... AGAIN... and Eddie Redmayne was a great Marius.  Still not Michael Ball.  But then, who is?  (Don't say Michael Ball.  You knew what I meant.)  His voice is not quite up to my impossibly high standards where Marii are concerned, but he did a pretty good job with most of the songs and his "Empty Chairs" was phenomenal.  I can't help being amused by the way his head shakes every time he attempts to hold a note... but hey, that's about a billion levels above Nick Jonas' Marius, who didn't even know what a note was, let alone how to hold it. 

Um, moving on.

However much I may admire Michael Ball's incredible vocal abilities and count his performance as my favorite, it cannot be denied that Eddie Redmayne's Marius is much closer to brick-Marius than any other portrayal I've seen.  Michael Ball plays musical-Marius, which is great, but musical-Marius is head over heels for Cosette, incredibly loyal to his friends, completely ignorant of Eponine's feelings for him and that's pretty much it.  Brick-Marius is a staunch Bonapartist (something not covered in the stage musical OR the movie, sigh...), a bit of a rebel (at least where his grandfather is concerned), head over heels for Cosette, incredibly loyal to his friends and completely ignorant of Eponine's feelings for him.  In my not at all humble opinion (seriously, if my opinion was humble I wouldn't be posting it on my blog for all the world to see), Eddie Redmayne blended brick-Marius and musical-Marius beautifully.  He had the political fervor Marius is supposed to have (even if it was republican... but hey, better than nothing), his interaction with Cosette was UNBELIEVABLY cute (did anyone else just completely melt every time they looked at each other), his rapport with Eponine was just right and the way he got along with les Amis was hilarious to behold.   And he really did sing pretty well.

I definitely approve.  And I hereby apologize for all the bad things I ever said about Eddie Redmayne as Marius.  Because I hereby take them all back.  *hunts for receipt*

It is a truth universally acknowledged (at least in my wee Les-Mis-loving circle) that Samantha Barks is the only person currently living on the planet who could have played Eponine so perfectly in the movie.  (Lea Salonga has, sadly, aged out of the part.)  She has a voice that could knock your socks off if you happen to be wearing socks (I'm typing this post while barefoot, so that's not an option for me), the kind of facial expressions that can convey an entire monologue with one eyebrow lift (think of Anthony Andrews as Sir Percy if you don't know what I mean), she's completely gorgeous even when she's a) a mud-covered street rat or b) dressed as a boy, and did I mention she's an amazing singer, possibly the best in the movie?  Yeah, that too.

One thing that did bug me in her interaction with Marius, though, was the way the lyrics were so messed up.  (Totally not Eponine's fault, though.  Blame the screenwriter.)  I don't think I would have minded so much if the rewritten song had sounded a little better--after all, it did explain to the viewers about Marius' grandpa and all that--but the silly thing doesn't even rhyme.  (Don't say "yeah it does.")  

"Hey there, monsieur, what's new with you? Plotting to overthrow the state?
You still pretending to be poor?  Come on, I know your grandpa's rich..."  

Guys, that's even worse than Freddy Eynsford-Hill's attempts at poetry.  At least "bother me" and "rather be" almost rhyme, if you're British and don't discriminate between M and B.  And what was up with cutting out Eponine's first few lines about knowing a lot of things?  It didn't make any sense, later on, when she said, "You see I told you so, there's lots of things I know..."  Sorry, honey, but you DIDN'T tell him so.   And so the later line didn't make SENSE.   I ranted as much to Anne-girl when it was all over, but all she would do was put on her best Josh voice and say, "But then it would have been like a six hour movie!  THINK ABOUT IT!" and my argument became invalid because you can't argue with Blimey Cow.

Where was I.

Oh, yes, Eponine.  Basically, my only complaint about her was that I felt like Samantha Barks didn't get enough screen time-- I mean, her Eponine was flawless because, y'know, SHE is flawless, but I wanted to see more of her.  

I have always been something of a skeptic where Marius and Cosette are concerned, at least in the musical.  I elaborated on my opinions regarding love at first sigh here, and I don't retract any of my statements, but...

(yes, I'm well aware that there are an awful lot of buts in this post, and an awful lot of crow-eating on my part)

... Marius and Cosette in the movie were too sweet for words.  And it really has to be attributed to splendiferous acting from Eddie Redmayne and Amanda Seyfried.  From the moment their eyes met across the crowded street, I knew they were destined to be together.  (Well, obviously... I HAVE read the book AND seen both concerts AND seen the stage play, so if I didn't know by now that Marius and Cosette end up together, I must be pretty dense.  Um, hope I didn't just spoil anything for you.  Spoilers-- they get married.)

Amanda Seyfried was a lovely, lovely Cosette.  I know the brick says Cosette is supposed to be a brunette, but I always pictured her as a blonde, and now it's pretty much impossible for me to picture her as anyone but Amanda Seyfried.  She looks like a living doll, and isn't that what Cosette is supposed to be?  Kind of symbolic with the doll Valjean bought for her when she was little... first she had the doll, then she grew up and became the doll.  Because he spoiled her with clothes and whatnot, y'know.

Anyways.  This Cosette was not bratty or spoiled as some Cosettes seem to be, however-- though she wanted to know more about the past and got upset when Valjean refused to tell her, she didn't get angry the way Katie Hall does in the 25th concert (an element that always annoyed me.  Girl, you have no idea how much this man gave up for you!!).  Nor does her wealth and privilege seem to have made any kind of Veruca-Salt-ish character out of her... the first time we see her as an adult, she's distributing money to the poor.  I love that that's where Marius gets his first glimpse of her-- doing good for the people, just as he and his friends are trying to do in their own way.

But then the Thenardiers have to come along and ruin it all.
Not that I didn't enjoy the ruining, because it was hilarious.

Was I the only one who got chills when Javert picked up Gavroche?  Then when Random Other Police Officer (whom I'm convinced was just thrown in there, along with the dudes at Fantine's arrest, just to prove that Javert is NOT the only cop in Paris, despite evidence to the contrary) was holding onto him while Javert was doing his I'm In Charge Here thing, my sister and I were vociferating our indignation quite... verbosely.  LET THE CHILD GO, PUT HIM DOWN, HE'S NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS, IF YOU WANT TO ARREST SOMEONE, TAKE MONTPARNASSE AND HIS NICK JONAS POUT.

Ooooh, it would have been cool if Nick Jonas had played Montparnasse.  I would have been way too amused.  Even more so if they had left in the little bit at the end of "Look Down" where Gavroche is introducing Eponine and she elbows Parnasse in the stomach.  That would have been entertaining.

Also, Russell Crowe's singing amused me (agaaaaain) in this one.  "Let the old man keep on running, I will run him off his feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet.... [pauses and looks around in embarrassment, remembering that he is a cop and not a pop star] everyoneaboutyourbusiness, clearthisgarbageoffthestreet!"

"Red and Black" was everything I wanted it to be, as long as I ignored the fact that a bunch of lyrics were cut off at the beginning.  (Ahem.  This is becoming rather a mantra.)   The Marius-teasing was perfect (a combination of lightening the mood at what was probably a boring political meeting and just plain goofing off), Marius' reaction was exactly as it ought to be (a blend of confused, embarrassed and not-really-caring-because-did-you-guys-SEE-her???) and the singing was fabulous... but you knew that.  It's the barricade boys.  (Side note: Hadley Fraser's "ooh and ahh" used to be my favorite, but I'm becoming rather partial to George Blagden's after repeated listenings.)  

This song, I think, is when we see Enjolras' full personality in its best light.  We see him getting frustrated with both Marius and Grantaire, attempting to drag Marius back into the Real World (though the "who cares about your lonely soul!" is more of a "dude, wake up," than an expression of callousness, which I appreciated) and taking instant action when the news of Lamarque's death arrives. Speaking of which... is it just me or are those tears?  Yeah, those are tears.  I'd never thought about it before... but the students would have been sad over Lamarque's death.  "From the candles of grief we will kindle our flame..."

And then, of course, Marius ducks out with Eponine to go see Cosette, and Enjolras is left staring over the bannister at... someone.  Now, I'm not ashamed to tell you that I'm an Enjolras/Eponine shipper.  IF they had both survived the barricades and IF the story had ended very differently, I would have loved to see them get married.  She desperately needed someone to love her, and he desperately needed something (or someone) to believe in after the revolution failed.  Yes, you can argue that the wistful look on Enjo's face is more of a "drat, Marius is deserting us again" than a "sheesh, who IS that gorgeous woman?" but I would much rather be romantical than accurate.  In this case, anyway.

Come on, now... that face isn't the kind of face you make just because your best guy friend decided not to stay for the rest of the meeting.  And look at Combeferre, will you?  That's shock right there.  Shock that Enjolras is noticing a girl.  I will go down with this ship.

"In My Life" was one of the best I'd ever seen.  I LOVED the little bit where Marius is swinging Eponine around and running down the street singing about his love.  (Ha... if you've read the Vogue interview, that should be humorous.)  I really, really liked the Cosette and Valjean interaction during that song... it made so much more sense for Cosette to be asking her father about his past instead of her own.  She was eight when she left the Thenardiers... surely she would remember at least a little bit about her childhood.  And I liked the way the candlesticks kept popping up in Valjean's rooms throughout the movie-- a lovely little touch showing how the Bishop's influence is following him through his life.

Amanda Seyfried's voice left something to be desired in both this song and "A Heart Full of Love"-- she really couldn't quite hit those high notes-- yet I'm okay with that.  I saw an interview in which Samantha Barks was describing her costar's voice as almost birdlike, very tremulous and flute-y, which fits in perfectly with the brick's running comparison of Cosette to a lark.  On stage I like a Cosette with a really strong soprano, but in the movie I'm willing to overlook technicalities.  (Such condescension!)

On my most recent watching of the film, I burst into tears during "A Heart Full of Love." Odd, that-- it's a sweet song and I have a romantical turn of mind, but it's not the kind of song that usually makes listeners weep.  And I wasn't even crying because Eponine was (literally) left out in the cold, though my sadness did stem from her presence.  Mostly I was crying because all I could think of was, "gahhh, she loves Marius and he doesn't love her back and she's going to die."

Silly, isn't it? I knew Eponine was going to die.  (Now you do too, if you didn't already.)  I'm well-versed in this story.  Why on earth should I suddenly start operating the waterworks just because I remembered what was going to happen in Act Two?

I think perhaps that, too, is a testimony to how great this film is.  Here's a story I know like the back of my hand, a character who may very well be my favorite in the whole shebang (I still can't deciiiiiiide, though), a song I've heard literally hundreds of times.  Yet seeing it in a new interpretation brought tears to my eyes (and face... and pillowcase...).  This story still has the power to move me in ways I hadn't thought possible, even after many, many viewings.  That's pretty incredible.

Okay, sappiness over.  Back to our normal programming.

"Attack on the Rue Plumet" felt a bit rushed, probably because they cut the first couple verses.  Sigh.  YET AGAIN.  But it was still handled well on Samantha Barks' part, anyway.  Though nothing can top Lea Salonga's scream in the TAC.  That thing ought to be patented.  Just like Colm Wilkinson's eyebrows.

And the cutting of some of the more important lines did make this piece of nonsense possible, of which I'm still pretty proud.  I mean, really.

Now, in Valjean's defense, Thenardier (or one of his gang) DID shout "police!" as he was fleeing, so Valjean did have some reason to believe Javert might be there... but at first glance it still looks a bit odd.

"On My Own" was breathtaking.  I fully approve of the people-who-boss-such-things' decision to move it back in time and have it take place right after AHFOL.  The impact of just having seen the man she loved meeting the woman HE loved would definitely be devastating to poor Eponine, and since she doesn't have to play the Pony Express in this version, it makes sense for her to sing her famous soliloquy here instead of on her way back from delivering Marius' letter.

Interesting to note-- just as she sings the line "the streets are full of strangers," some random dude walks by in the background.  I wouldn't call that street exactly full, but hey, there's one stranger. It makes more sense than it does onstage, when she's completely alone for the entire song.  Ha.

Really, though, I wish Samantha Barks had been nominated for Best Supporting Actress along with Anne Hathaway.  I almost wish she'd won instead.  She put so much emotion into that song, so much of what Eponine was feeling and thinking, that I felt like I knew Eponine better than I ever had before.  That line, "I love him, but every day I'm learning..." when she brings her head up from her knees is just spine-tingling.  Also tearjerking.  But hey, that's a given.

"One Day More"... I don't have words.  It was incredible.  So well executed, so well sung (okay, except for Valjean and Javert... sorry guys...) and so breathtaking.  Eponine dressing as a boy, Marius' frantic search for Cosette, Enjolras and the students preparing for the barricades (um, yes, I cried again... because THEY'RE going to die TOO), the Thenardiers pinching pistols and kissing people (poor Joly, I bet he fumigated himself afterwards) and the crowd of people getting swept up in the whole thing.

 Pity it didn't last.  One minute there... then they were gone.  Sure, it was easy to get caught up in the emotionalism of the moment, to pledge to support the revolution and stand strong, but as soon as the going got rough and the soldiers arrived, things took a different turn.  "You in the barricades, listen to this-- no one is coming to help you to fight..."

But I won't spoil the epic-ness of this song with morbid thoughts of what's to come.  For now, let's just enjoy one of the most amazing songs in the musical.

For my part, I've been singing and humming this song all day today.  Because for me it really is one day more--- one day until I see my best friend, live and in person.  Which means that blogging will be pretty much nonexistent until I get back from the state-where-Melody-lives.  We do hope to update you all during our visit, but I will definitely not be posting Part Three until I get back.

Sooooo... this will have to do for the present.  But never fear, I shall return.  To haunt you.

One more dawn, one more day, ONE DAY MORE!