I did get some party prep done today by cleaning out the hall bathroom, tidying up more things, and giving Willow a bath. I really need to apply myself to this, but it's a bunch of tiny little bits that need cleaning up rather than just one big thing (well, except for the kitchen, and that's James' job). I was also slightly handicapped by waking up with terrible pain in my middle and ring finger of my right hand. I have no idea why, as when I went to bed the hand was fine; I woke up with it this way. I can barely bend the middle finger past a 90 degree angle. I can type relatively painlessly, but the finger feels odd and swollen. James says I was talking loudly in my sleep last night, but as far as he knew I wasn't thrashing around in a manner in which I would have hit it. I took three ibuprofin and went back to bed for a half hour, and that didn't help.
After breakfast and some tidying, I decided to go out for a little while. I wanted to check out the clearance at the Barnes & Noble at the Avenue at West Cobb. This store usually has the best clearance items, but the pickin's were slim today. I did find the Christmas issue of a British magazine called "LandScape," which I probably won't buy in spring because gardening bores me silly, but I did want this issue because it was all about Christmas plants and animals: reindeer, mistletoe, robins...and it also had articles about sledding and change ringing (as in Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey mystery The Nine Tailors). It will be my last Christmas magazine unless I can find the December issue of "The Oldie," which is a British commentary/nostalgia magazine.
On the way back I stopped at Lowes, looking for an organizer I want to buy for the closet. Unfortunately it was too heavy for me to lift. I did get a new triple-tap for the plug behind James' recliner.
When I got home I should have been cleaning more, and, later, I did scrub the bath and then the dog, and got her bedding and towels washed. But I was scanning the DVR contents and came upon The March Sisters at Christmas, which I had recorded a month ago. This television movie, a modern-day take on Little Women, had garnered some virulent criticism, and I was almost afraid to watch it, but a Louisa May Alcott blog I read said it was not bad, so I turned it on.
Surprisingly, it was pretty good. This was a Lifetime movie, so the male casting was weak: Laurie, here known as Teddy, was a good-natured but sort of nondescript jock instead of the sensitive musician of the book, and John Brooke was a nebbish (but no worse than the Eric Stoltz version in the 1994 film). The actor playing Bhaer (here named Marcus and a book editor rather than a teacher) fared better and John Shea was an entertaining Mr. Lawrence (here Teddy's custodial uncle, not his grandfather).
The sisters were updated in the spirit of the 21st century: Meg, a law student, and John (her college classmate) were not chaste; Jo ghostwrites celebrity twitter feeds rather than penning blood-and-thunder tales; Beth is a superlative pianist who is shy of the goals her family wants her to achieve; and Amy is an updated version of the brat she is in the book, a girl who is familiar with partying and using a fake ID.
The pivot around which the story revolves is that their parents plan to sell the family home (called Orchard House like the real Alcott homestead, which is seen briefly at the beginning of the film) after Mr. March, a war correspondent, is hurt, and they cannot afford to have the decrepit home remodeled. The sisters decide to do the work themselves while their mother is off helping with the father's recovery, and Teddy and John endeavor to help them. Basic Little Women plot points are touched on: Amy does something stupid in revenge for Jo's criticism and she and Jo quarrel, Jo tells Teddy they are best friends and nothing more, Marcus tells Jo her real writing (she accidentally e-mails him her generational novel instead of a prospectus to ghostwrite a young singer's "autobiography") is better than the crap that is earning her money, etc. The only thing that doesn't happen is that Beth does not meet the same fate as in the book. So the prospect of Laurie being a hunk or Meg and John having sex might horrify you, but it is pretty well translated to 2012. I enjoyed it.
An Old-Fashioned Christmas, Rochelle and Nicholas Pennington
This is the "nostalgic book" I bought at Bronner's last year, a picture and text remembrance of Christmases past, from 1930 through 1960. Black-and-while photographs and color and black-and-white ads and other illustrations (including the inevitable Norman Rockwell) illustrate the warm memories of home-cooked meals, home-baked cookies, hard times softened by love, gatherings, and Christmas celebrations, going to church, assemblies at school, playing in the snow, listening to radio programs. A whole bunch of cozy wrapped up in hardcover. Comes with a CD of the "Billie the Brownie" radio program from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.