Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Title:  Northanger Abbey

Author:  Jane Austen

published: 1817 (originally)

ISBN:  9781551114795

Challenges:  Everything Austen Challenge at Stephanie’s Written Word

“You think me foolish to call instruction a torment, but if you had been as much used as myself to hear poor little children first learning their letters and then learning to spell, if you had ever seen how stupid they can be for a whole morning together, and how tired my poor mother is at the end of it, as I am in the habit of seeing almost every day of my life at home, you would allow that to torment and to instruct might sometimes be used as synonimous words.”

“Very probably.  But historians are not accountable for the difficulty of learning to read; and even you yourself, who do not altogether seem particularly friendly to very severe, very intense application, may perhaps be brought to acknowledge that it is very well worth while to be tormented for two or three years of one’s life, for the sake of being able to read all the rest of it.  Consider – if reading had not been taught, Mrs Radcliffe would have written in vain – or perhaps might not have written at all.”

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, pages 123-124

Northanger Abbey was actually Jane Austen’s first novel, though it wasn’t published until after her death.  It was sold for ten pounds to a publisher who decided against publishing it and returned it to Jane’s brother, Henry, who did finally publish towards the end of 1817 (1818 on the original title page).  The wonderful thing about this book being the first, and almost lost forever, book Austen wrote is that it just oozes with her raw wit and satirical voice.  It displays her sharp tongue and passion about reading, women’s rights and plight in society, and the true value of novels.

The purpose of Northanger Abbey, besides using the text and characters as a mouthpiece to express Austen’s own thoughts, is to parody the gothic romance novels of her day, with particularly appreciation and affection for Mrs. Radcliffe’s.  Young Catherine Morland is an ingenue taking her first trip to Bath, the place for polite society to see and be seen by each other.  Miss Morland meets Henry Tilney and falls for him by the end of the evening.  However, his quick departure leaves her open to the influences of other new acquaintances, the Thorpes, who are rather vulgar and self-serving.  John Thorpe lies to make himself look better, lies to General Tilney (Henry’s father) about Catherine’s financial outlook, and lies to Catherine about Tilney in order to get her to go with him on a day trip.  Catherine is forced to develop her own judgment and to excercise it.

When she goes to Northanger Abbey, the family manse of the Tilneys, she begins to stretch these muscles to excess and begins to see a villain in every wardrobe, and a tale of cruelty behind every locked door.  She goes from blindly accepting that everyone is good and does good to deciding General Tilney is a cruel husband who has either murdered his wife or keeps her locked in a dungeon, feeding her gruel every night after the household has gone to bed.

Originally, I had issue with this sudden flip in personality.  I thought it a weak ploy to be able to parody Radcliffe, et al’s work.  However, after thinking it over, it occurred to me that Catherine was in love with Henry, and because of that wanted to be like him.  In his presence, she defers to his judgment on all things.  But when he’s gone from the Abbey, she tries to reason like him, but ends up over thinking everything to the point of ridiculousness.

“If I understand you rightly, you had formed a surmise of such horror as I have hardly words to – Dear Miss Morland, consider the dreadful nature of the suspicions you have entertained.  What have you been judging from?  Remember the country and the age in which we live.  Remember that we are English, that we are Christians… Dearest Miss Morland, what ideas have you been admitting?” -Henry Tilney, pages 195-196

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Northanger Abbey, and found it delightful to read a “new” (to me) Jane Austen.  You know, everyone always reads Pride and Prejudice, and it’s a great book, I won’t argue that.  But I think even those who are less-than-enthused by Austen’s writing can appreciate this book.  It’s not quite as multi-layered as her other novels where people say one thing and everyone knows they mean a completely different thing (“Oh, Mrs Nesbit!  What a lovely frock” really means, “Die, bitch! DIE!!!!”)

Northanger Abbey is my new favorite Austen book, toppling the long-standing, afore-mentioned Pride and Prejudice (still very much-loved, just second place, now)  AND it has given me a new book crush.  Oh, Mr. Tilney!  *sigh… flutter… swoon* 😀  Also, reading this book was like taking a look back at the teenage version of me.  I was definitely Cathy Morland:  Dense in the way things really work, romantic-minded, and wanted what I read in books to be a reality.  Ah, then I grew up into Elizabeth Bennet/Elinor Dashwood.

Obviously, I give Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen 5 out of 5 stars 😀

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How to Be a Villian by Neil Zawacki

Title:  How to Be  a Villain:  Evil Laughs, Secret Lairs, Master Plans, and More!!!

Author:  Neil Zawacki

Illustrator:  James Dignan

Hardback:  160 pages

Date Published:  2003

PublisherChronicle Books

ISBN:  9780811846660

Being evil is more than a job, it’s a lifestyle.  By embracing the dark forces, otherwise ordinary men, women, and even children and pets can gain power and wealth beyond their wildest dreams.  Perhaps the single greatest benefit of a career in evil is equal access to executive level positions.  Black, white, or green; male, female, or alien life form; spikes, scales, or brain in a jar – nothing prevents a devotee of darkness from rising to the top of the quagmire of destruction.

– “The Benefits of Being Evil” from How to Be a Villain by Neil Zawacki, page 10

In these troubling times, jobless rates on the rise, paychecks dwindling into microscopic amounts, and a general malaise about the economy, you might be considering a career change.  If so, might I suggest a career in EVIL?

The field of Evil-Doer is wide open, and you have a delicious variety of career paths that include:

  • Becoming a criminal mastermind!  Whether you choose to rob banks or send out emails asking for help to move your multi-million dollar wealth out of your impoverished, third-world country, crime is the tried-and-true classic medium for a villain to flex his wicked muscles.
  • Try your hand as a necromancer!  If graveyards and funeral parlors are your favorite places to hang out, and you can get your mitts on ancient books of the  occult, why not take possession of your true purpose and give Ol’ Scratch a run for the “Most Evil” award this year.
  • Take that corner office with the wall of windows and become a corporate bastard!  You can even mix career advancement and the pleasure of revenge by taking over and destroying the very company that let you go.  Make sure to funnel off all the executive pension fund before it’s demise, though, or you’ll be back to square one, JOBLESS and BROKE.
  • Have a knack for mixing ingredients?  Give mad scientista try!  Build up your army of mutant eight-legged simians, actual spider-monkeys, and take over the world.  Then you can set about re-create MAN in your OWN image.
  • If you like horseback riding and wearing metal clothing, black knight might be the path for you!  You will derive endless pleasure from making peasants your neighbors bow before you, quaking in terror, wondering if today will finally be the day you make good on your threat to “gut them like the pigs they are.”
  • If you own a lonely motel on a lonely stretch of never-used highway AND  have conversations with your long-since deceased mother, horror-movie villain may have your name written all over it!  Rub elbows with A-list actors and slay sexy starlets, not to mention peeping on the co-eds getting busy in the next room, are all in a days work!
  • Take dominion of the spirit world as an avatar for a god/demon/supernatural creature beyond all comprehension!  While allowing the forces of evil to use your body, you’ll be enjoying all the perks of your new-found godhood.
  • Not quite up to all-out evil?  Try a career as a marketing executive!  Shape the way future generations think by creating advertisements that mesh their favorite, beloved underwater hero and a sexually-depraved rapper.
  • You may even try your hand at an evil-lite career as a villain and become a telemarketer!  Endless pleasure can be derived from interrupting dinners, sleep, and the recipients physical fun with their significant other.  This career as an evil-doer, however, has been in a steady decline since the invention of caller ID.

How to Be a Villainby Neil Zawacki is a fun, light read full of tongue-in-cheek, dead-pan humor that feels like an actual tutorial how-to guide.  The quirky and fun illustrations, however, let assure you the book does not take itself seriously.  Get in touch with your inner villain by picking up a copy today 😀  I give this book 3 1/2  out of 5 black hats.

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This video is cheesy (on purpose)  and is an example of the information found in How to Be a Villain by Neil Zawacki.   They do not credit the book, so I don’t know if it’s where they got their ideas, but it’s great 😀  (seriously, though, cheese factor is off the charts!)

Viral Video Wednesday – It’s Spoof-a-licious!

Okay, so last week’s VVW seemed to be terribly depressing and invoked pity, so I thought I’d spoof it up this week. Who needs to be depressed this close to Christmas? Isn’t it hard enough already?

So I went a-huntin’ for some spoofs and parodies of popular movies…

First off, in honor of my finishing the Twilight series, I found a funny… stupid, yes… corny and goofy, definately… spoof using scenes from Twilight. As it is a parody, it has it’s own story line… include WHAT exactly the Cullens eat and why James was really after Bella. Hair ya go!

Now, if you’ve seen the movie “Bolt,” I’m sure you picked up on the fact that the Pigeons were reminiscent of television gangsters… particularly Goodfellas. The following parody brings the two movies EVEN closer.

One of my all-time favorite movies as a teenager, and one of the defining movies of the 80s, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” was an inspiration and an example to all slackers and ditchers everywhere. And now it’s been taken and folded into the 21st century concious. The following is a spoofed trailer for Dawn of the Bueller.

Star Wars meets organic foods in: The Grocery Store Wars!

We’ve just watched the newest Batman movie, “The Dark Knight,” my favorite parts were the Joker parts. The following is a mash-up of The Night Before Christmas and Batman… unfortunately, no Joker parts…

And I think that video is a perfect one to end on. Merry Christmas!

So, what’s your favorite spoofs and parodies? Post them in your comment, or… EVEN BETTER… blog yours and link back in the comments 😀

and don’t forget to enter for your chance to win a $25, $15. $10, and $5 gift card to your choice of Borders, Amazon, or Barnes & Nobles. Click the link in the “Wanna Be a Winner?” widget in the sidebar for details!

Viral Video Wednesday -Numa Numa

One of my favorite posts I’ve done on Mt. TBR was Fred Discovery, in which I shared a few fun videos and asked you to share your favorites with me. Julie offered Fart in the Duck, fyreflybooks posted Where the Hell is Matt?, and Suey confessed an addiction to VlogBrothers. It was a lot of fun sharing our vids, so I want to make it a regular thing on Mt. TBR.

I enjoyed the post and kept going back to it to watch the vids again and again. If anyone wants to join me in VVW, post your link in the comments. It’d be so much fun to make a meme of it! I’d love to see what y’all find and share 😀

And now, my first Viral Video Wednesday: The Numa Numa Dance

Okay, so Numa Numa isn’t exactly a new Viral Video, but it’s fun to see what all has been done with Numa Numa. First let’s start with the original Numa Numa video… not Gary, but the REAL music video by the Moldovan band, O-Zone. The actual name of the song is “Dragostea Din Tei”.

Then, along came Gary Brolsma, aka The Numa Numa Guy, who posted this video on Newgrounds.com in 2004…

This video is the 2nd most viewed viral video in history second only to The Star Wars Kid, according to Wikepedia.This vid got Gary on ABC, NBC, and VH1, who listed him as Number 1 on the Top 40 Internet Superstars (I didn’t even know there was a list!). He got his own website titled… wait for it… Gary Brolsma & New Numa

Wait, New Numa? Yes, Gary made a new Numa video:

However, this drew some flak from video viewers everywhere, because Gary decided if Milli Vanilli could get rich by lip synching, why couldn’t he? Mr. Safety made this parody called, “I Will Not Pay”

Evidently Numa has paid Gary well, because he held a contest “New Numa Fatty Contest”, paying the Grand Prize winner $25,000 with a $10,000 and $5,000 prize winners, as well. (List of the winners for your perusing pleasure)

Other bizarre but hilarious Numa Numa videos:

Kitties, Meerkats, and what the hell is that thing??!

Win over a hot chick doing the Numa Dance:

Who knew all we had to do was play Numa Numa outside the caves to get Osama?!:

Yoda does the Numa Numa, too:

If you want to graduate from the 5th grade at this school, you had to Numa Numa:

Numa Numa Navy:

WTF? Numa Numa on (Foreign) Idol? OOOOH…. I sooo wish Simon was there!

Spanish… um, amigos de Dorotea?… Doing the Numa:

They are doing Numa Numa all over the world:
Israeli Numa, Japanese Numa, Chinese Numa, Vietnamese Numa (gotta show this to Maggie), Indonesian Numa, Korean Numa, Thai Numa, Spanish Numa

In case you’ve ever wanted to know what they were singing, here’s an English language version:

AND, if all THAT wasn’t enough…. How ’bout Numa Opera!:

There are Lord of the Rings Numa, Pirates of the Caribbean Numa, Shrek Numa, silly kids in class Numa, If you’re not already ready to drive a phillips number six into your eardrums from Numa-overload, go nuts with a Numa Numa search!