Posts Tagged Bridget Jones’ Diary

It is a Truth Universally Acknowledged that Diaries Are Full of Crap: 10 Signs You Might be Obsessed with Bridget Jones

Driving home from a party several weeks ago, a friend and I got onto the topic of relationships and marriage, as single girls often do.
“You know,” she said suddenly, “I kind of have this picture of you with a Mark Darcy-looking husband, reindeer jumper and everything, holding a baby.”
“Hmm, that doesn’t sound half bad,” I admitted. “But don’t get my hopes up, because it is a truth universally acknowledged that attractive English gentlemen in reindeer jumpers don’t casually stroll into my life on a regular basis. If they did, I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in right now.”

As I reflected on her words, I wondered just what they said about me. The truth forces me to admit that Bridget Jones’ Diary is probably my personal scripture—one that’s proven alternately bolstering and baffling, depending on my mood. ON the one hand, every other page, I find myself identifying with Bridget as I would with any of my “real” girlfriends, and Bridget’s endless stream of self-deprecation about her weight, lack of a boyfriend, and culinary ineptitude makes me feel better about myself. ON the other, if Bridget is such a realistic portrait of the late-twenties/early-thirties single female experience, then it should logically follow that we will all find our Mark Darcy, but I digress.

As I found myself running late for the same event after which the above conversation had occurred, cursing to myself over my inability to locate a clean pair of nickers, I had a frightening realization: “Oh my god, you’re turning into Bridget Jones. It’s finally happened.” I’m now convinced that “Bridget Jones Syndrome” is going to become the modern-day form of female hysteria. Compilers of the DSM, get on this, stat! I’ll even do some of the work for you: ten signs you might have Bridget Jones Syndrome:

1. You find yourself running late for a party, searching in a panic through your closet and hamper for a pair of nickers muttering, “Shit. Shit. Arghargharghargh. Cannot find nickers. Maybe will check behind sofa.” (You subsequently discover said nickers behind the sofa with no recollection of how they might have gotten there).
2. You think that a man whose wardrobe includes a reindeer or diamond-patterned sweater or bumblebee socks has a superior fashion sense.
3. When the guy you’ve secretly fancied for ages asks you on a date and you immediately send an email to three of your closest friends with the subject line: “State of emergency! Meet at Café Rouge! Now!”
4. When you find yourself preparing for a date by making a checklist that includes the following items: hide diary, grannie panties, and incriminating photos; clean flat; wax legs; exercise stomach muscles; develop inner poise.
5. When you refer to your commitment-phobic ex-boyfriend as “Daniel” and fantasize about him being beaten to a pulp (quite rightly) By Colin Firth as Mark Darcy…or Colin Firth as self, because essentially in the collective female imagination, the two have become irreversibly conflated.
6. When the phrase “Turkey Curry Buffet” is code for dinner party at your parents’ oldest friends’ home, where people who’ve known you since you were running round the lawn with no clothes on will make suggestive comments about your singleton status and biological clock and men you’ve called “Uncle” since you were 3 years-old who aren’t really your uncle will pinch your bottom and inquire obnoxiously about your love life.
7. When your ex rings or texts you and you find yourself pausing before reaching for the phone to whisper the mantra “cool, unavailable ice-queen.”
8. When not hearing from your current boyfriend for several days leads you to concoct increasingly elaborate theories about his silence, ranging from the simple “He’s just extremely busy” to the slightly far-fetched (or paranoid) “Oh God, he’s been kidnapped, or eaten by an Alsatian, or fled the country to avoid having sex with me.”
9. When you find yourself studying an atlas before dates with your extremely intelligent boyfriend in the event he quizzes you about the geographic location of obscure foreign countries (or, you know, not-so-obscure foreign countries, like Germany).
10. When you consider your boyfriend’s tendency to diffuse awkward situations by going into the bathroom as good relationship diplomacy.
So: there you have it. If you recognize any or all of the above signs in your behavior, you might have Bridget Jones Syndrome. Extensive research has shown that the best remedy is eating chocolate and drinking a Bloody Mary (tomatoes =vegetable serving to counteract low nutrition value of chocolate) while watching the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

Now, I’m going to send this off with a suggestion for inclusion in the DSM, but—oh, goody! Telephone! Maybe is Mark Darcy! Byeeee!

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Channeling My Inner Bridget Jones: My Birthday part 2

As promised in my last post, I am continuing to channel my inner Bridget Jones, and what follows is (roughly) accurate, give or take a few drinks. Names have been concealed where possible to protect the guilty from further incrimination.

Thursday, October 20. 6:30 A.M: I have to clean my entire house by tomorrow, besides working, continuing to edit my current dissertation chapter, and possibly making yet another attempt at world domination. Somehow, I will accomplish everything, and live to tell the story.

6:45 A.M: Apparently the world will end tomorrow (again), according to Harold Camping. Well, isn’t this convenient. How many people can say Jesus gatecrashed their birthday party? Of course, since my life is nothing if not a continuous reminder that God gave control of the universe over to Murphy’s law eons ago, the world would naturally choose to end during my first attempt in about ten years to celebrate my birthday with people outside my family who legitimately care that I inhabit the planet. I predict the moment of total obliteration at approximately the point at which I’m blowing out my candles and wishing that Mark Darcy would make a spectacular entrance, singing a rendition of “Happy Birthday” in which he actually knows my name.

11:25 A.M: I’m trying to decide whether I should clean my house, or torch the place, collect the insurance, and build a replica of Pemberley…on the beach…complete with stunning grounds, lake, and a live-in Darcy.

2:30 P.M: My house is cleaned. Maybe I’ll just convert this place into a mosque and ask everyone to remove their shoes at the entrance.

11:00 P.M: I should attempt going to bed, but can’t sleep. Have I got enough sauce for the meatballs? Will there be enough food? (Translation: to an Italian, “enough food” means that each guest can partake of at least 3 helpings of each dish, and there will still be left-overs).

1:00 A.M: Can’t sleep. I’m having visions of blue meatballs dancing in my head. This is all going to go horribly wrong. These meatballs are going to be the most incredible shit. Have I got any eggs in the house? If any of the food actually is blue, I might die of humiliation (or laughter). Unfortunately, K is probably the only guest who would spot the humor in the situation; K remains the only one of my local friends who appreciates the hilarity that is Bridget Jones’ Diary.

Friday, October 21. 6:30 A.M: The fact that I’m concentrating on remembering to defrost the meatballs before I’ve started the coffee says something about my fervent desire to avoid culinary disaster.

12:28 P.M: 6 and a half hours till my grown-up birthday party; this is either going to be the bash to end all bashes, or no one will show up, and I’ll wind up sitting alone in my apartment with a crockpot full of meatballs, watching Pride and Prejudice.

3:45 P.M: In a little over three hours, people will be descending upon me; what made me even think I could throw a party? I’m going to crawl into a dark hole with a bottle of wine and stay there until everyone goes away.

6:30 PM: mercifully, everything is done, with half an hour to spare. I’m going to stop compulsively rearranging the bread dish and pass the time constructively by watching an episode of Will and Grace.

7:00 P.M: R arrives, closely followed by K; K bears a birthday cake containing a cryptic message that she will have to read to me, R with “another surprise dessert”. I’m slightly alarmed, and have officially put K on poison control watch.

Several (possibly 2, perhaps 3) mimosas later– I have officially lost track of the hours and am measuring the passage of time in alcohol units: I have officially been crowned the birthday princess—I have the crown to prove it. A.A has decked me out in an “It’s my Birthday” hat and a string of pink beads that, not through any planned color coordination, happen to match the stripes on my shirt. Hurrah for an arbitrary moment of appearing to have a fashion sense.

K ceremoniously unveils what we have been referring to all week as “the cake of epic awesomeness”; it is, in K’s exact words, “totally a Mark Darcy cake”. She has written the following, in blue cookie-icing: “Blue is good, and so are you. Just as you are. Happy Birthday.” The message is bordered by decorative blue squiggles, meant to represent string. K later informs me: I actually went and looked up the scene to make sure I got it right.
Me: Wow! You actually did research for my cake. Now that’s cool.

My friends then proceed to read their birthday cards to me aloud, and K presents me with a gift of a copy of the latest film adaptation of /Jane Eyre/, because “Every girl needs a copy of Jane Eyre”

Later: R: Are you ready to try the other surprise dessert?
Me (hesitating): I don’t know.
R hands me a plate laden with something that, when I dig into it with my fork, feels lumpy and moist, but otherwise unidentifiable; I am instructed to taste and identify the substance.
Me: What’s the surprise? Is it Mark Darcy?
R: Yes, I’ve minced up Mark Darcy, and you’re eating him.
Me: Noooo! (Turning to K): I thought you were on poison control watch!
K: It looks safe. I promise. It doesn’t look anything like human flesh.

I take a fork-full of the as-yet unidentified dessert and, still hesitating, taste it.
Me: Yummy, and it doesn’t taste anything like Mark Darcy.
R: How do you know? How do you know what Mark Darcy tastes like?
Me: Because Mark Darcy doesn’t taste like pumpkin. (It has taken me several bites, but I have now identified the surprise dessert as pumpkin flan, which is perfectly delicious).

Me: This really is very good. Allow me to tell you how much I ardently admire and love your pumpkin flan.

Still later: A.M arrives and is forgiven for his tardiness because he comes bearing cake. Chatter and alcohol continue to flow steadily; topics of conversation range from our respective jobs to the reasons why it might be unsafe to place a blind person behind the wheel of a car. R makes a badly-timed joke while K is midway through swallowing a mouthful of wine, and she only narrowly avoids choking. We envision the headlines in the local paper the following day charging R with having caused K’s demise, and I lament the tragedy of having to write the article about Sherlock Holmes K and I are working on entirely by myself were she to randomly succumb to sudden death.

11:30 P.M: all guests have left the building, with the exception of K; after returning the apartment to relative order, we spend another half-hour or so giggling over an NPR “Fresh Air” interview of Colin Firth, inserting commentary when appropriate.

K (referring to Terry Gross’ description of Mark Darcy’s attire at the beginning of Bridget Jones’ Diary as “a silly sweater with a ridiculous moose head on it”): A silly sweater with a ridiculous moose head on it? Its! A! Reindeer! Jumper!
WE determined that Terry Gross is an abysmally bad interviewer, and Colin Firth is heroically attempting (not altogether with success) to keep an “You can’t see this, listeners, but I’m rolling my eyes” note out of his voice.
K (about CF’s description of the BBC’s humorous attempt to create underwear for the lake scene in Pride and Prejudice that resembled white silk sailor’s pants): God! That’s just screaming for someone to write fan-fiction about Mark Darcy in pirate pants.
Me: Don’t give me any ideas.

12:05 A.M: K has gone. I cannot sleep; I feel enveloped in large, invisible, snuggy-like warmth; I have the most amazing friends, there’s Bridget Jones birthday cake in my fridge, and the world did not in fact end according to the Camping calculation. I am at peace with the world and all its inhabitants.

This post brought to you by the color blue.

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Mark Darcy’s Gourmet Grocer: Specializing in the Most Increddible Shit

for quite some time now–possibly the last five years or so–I’ve been searching for solid, verifiable proof that prolonged exposure to graduate school
has long-term, negative effects on brain function. Finally, I think I can safely say I have it.

last night, I fell asleep with three things bouncing hither and thither in my brain:
1- the fact that my kitchen cabinets were dangerously approaching empty.
2- a conversation with a friend about the film “Love Actually” and the talents of a certain Colin Firth.
3- hesitation about whether or not to suggest cooking this weekend for a friend who’s never been exposed to my culinary experiments.

These three things in combination prompted perhaps one of the strangest dreams I’ve had in living memory. I was standing with a friend in front of a grocery
store, over which was posted the sign: “Mark Darcy’s Gourmet Grocer: specializing in the Most Incredible Shit.” Anyone familiar with “Bridget Jones’ Diary”
will recognize my brain’s reference to Mark Darcy’s description of Bridget’s botched attempt at cooking: “I have to say, this really is the most incredible
shit”. My friend and I stepped inside and found ourselves surrounded by items like stuffed olives and enormous blocks of cheese in roughly five-pound increments.
I haven’t yet decided why anyone would want five pounds of cheese–we’ll just file that under life’s mysteries. I realized immediately that, on my very
small graduate student teacher pay, I couldn’t afford to shop at such an upscale grocer and insisted that my friend and I leave immediately, because we’d
somehow managed to catch the attention of the proprietor–Mark Darcy himself–naturally played by a rather dashing, somewhat overbearing Colin Firth. Fortunately
we escaped before he could talk us into purchasing several pounds of some unpronounceable cheese and a very appetizing-looking bread that I think would
have cost my entire paycheck. At which point, fortunately–for me–I awoke.

NO one wishes more than I that this was made up; I’d dearly love to tell you that this has all been some ridiculous fabricated story cooked up by my overactive
brain to make you all laugh–and give you a concrete reason to have me chucked into the nuthouse. Admittedly, this was, in fact, cooked up by my overactive
brain, but I swear truthfully that it was not consciously done. I have thus reached three very important conclusions:
1- must acquire food.
2- Must attempt, whenever possible, to get eight hours of sleep (insert derisive noise of your choice here)
3- adopt new mantra: say yes to Jesus, no to graduate school.

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The Firthday Five: Viewing and Reviewing Colin at his Best

For years–ever since I was a child–I’ve been an avid Colin Firth fan, and over time, my fascination has evolved into an academic investment of sorts,
from the occasional graduate student seminar paper addressing his work in literary adaptation to employing it as a teaching tool in my own courses (God
bless you, Colin, for being almost single-handedly responsible for contributing to renewed student interest in Jane Austen. If literary academia hasn’t
collectively written you a letter of thanks, It’s high time we did).

In a celebratory tribute to the man on his birthday, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite Colin performances. For purposes of practicality, time, and space, I’ve limited the list to five films, mostly because any more than that would make narrowing my choices considerably more challenging. Four out of five of these films are literary adaptations because I think that this branch of film represents some of Colin’s most impressive work. The intuitiveness with which he brings literary characters to life manages to tap into the popular imagination’s image of that character while presenting an authentic interpretation of his own. So: let’s have a look!

1. A Single Man (2009) This adaptation of the Christopher Isherwood novel of the same title features Colin as the middle-aged, British English professor George Falconer as he struggles to cope with life following the tragic death of his partner, Jim. After nearly two years since seeing this movie in theater, Colin’s performance still resonates with me—the way he gives every fiber of his being over to the character of George. In general, the movie strikes at the white hot center of life, snaps your head around and challenges you to stare your own mortality in the face, and Colin captures that so well. He dissolves the boundary between actor and audience and invites us into his personal space. At once shocking and sensitive, heart-warming and heart-wrenching, I’ve only since reluctantly forgiven the Academy for overlooking this performance because they redeemed themselves with “The King’s Speech”.

2. The King’s Speech (2010) I’ve never missed an opportunity to wax rhapsodic about this film; Colin’s portrayal of the stammering monarch George VI is masterful; he maneuvers the mechanics of stammering with amazing authenticity and presents an intimate portrait of Bertie as a man, not a monarch. Needless to say, a very well-deserved Oscar. Kudos to the king.

3. Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003) Yet another of Colin’s appearances in a literary film adaptation and, I think, one of his best. Here he plays Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer in an adaptation of Tracy Chevalier’s historical novel of the same title. Though his character has little screen time, he is allocated a very pervasive presence throughout the film, and Colin capitalizes on every visible moment he does have. His interpretation of Vermeer is precisely how I imagined him when reading the novel; seemingly withdrawn and enigmatic, with a quiet, mesmerizing intensity, he draws his audience into his gaze and into Vermeer’s world—a world of swirling colors and intense passion. We feel, even as he entraps us in this web of color, that we want to be held captive by his gaze, if only for a moment.

4. Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001) This film needs no introduction; in a witty adaptation of Helen Fielding’s novel—itself a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s /Pride and Prejudice/, Colin’s portrayal of Mark Darcy manages to pay tribute both to the Mr. Darcy of Austen’s making that remains one of popular culture’s iconic Byronic heroes and to Fielding’s contemporary recasting of Darcy while reprising his own legendary performance of Mr. Darcy in the BBC/A & E Pride and Prejudice with grace and good humor.

5. The Importance of being Earnest (2002) I first saw this adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s play as an undergraduate in a Victorian Literature course several years ago, and it’s the Firth film I inevitably reach for when my life needs a little comic relief. Alternately witty and ridiculous, Colin’s spot-on performance of Jack Worthing is one of which I think Wilde himself would have been proud—a true tribute to one of the Victorian era’s most celebrated playwrights.

Finally: two bonus picks:
Pride and Prejudice (1995) I didn’t include this in the above list because I think—and Jane Austen and Colin fans alike will likely agree with me—this performance defies categorization. A staple of the Austen film phenomenon, Colin’s Mr. Darcy brings our beloved hero to life in a memorable and, I think, unmatchable performance.

Lastly: The Secret Garden (1987) I’ve included this one purely for sentimental value; Colin appears briefly here as the adult Colin Craven in Hallmark’s television adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic children’s novel, and it was my first encounter with Colin. Short-lived and little-known though this role is, I remember, as an eleven year-old girl, being mesmerized by that face. There wasn’t anything immediately remarkable about it;
so neutral in appearance, so passive in expression, but with a hint of something rippling beneath the surface like a lake stirred by a light wind. That
was what intrigued me; that carefully modulated reserve; that passion kept in check, a characteristic Colinesque trait that fans have come to love and admire over the years.

So, Happy Birthday, Colin Firth; your talent is a gift that many cherish. Thank you for serving as a constant reminder to me, as to many others, that a life without laughter is no life at all.

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Just Another Love Story: Susan Mallery’s The Best of Friends

Warm, comforting, and sweet–a mug of hot chocolate on a blustery fall afternoon. That was what I expected when I picked up Susan Mallery’s novel /The Best of Friends/; that was what I
got. IF you enjoy light, easy-on-the-brain romance fiction, you won’t be disappointed.

Synopsis: Jane Scott has been a surrogate member of her friend Rebecca Worden’s family since she was seventeen, when she lost her mother to breast-cancer.
The product of a single parent home, Jane is treated as part daughter, part unpaid servant by the rich Wordens, who own a very successful jewelry store
in Beverly Hills. After walking out on her family ten years ago, Rebecca Worden is back, principly to make trouble for her haughty, overbearing mother
Elizabeth. When her older brother David returns home as well to take his place at the head of the family business and, as Elizabeth insists, to settle
down with a wife, the Wordens are forced to confront their past–a past that threatens to destroy them–and Jane is caught in the midst of it, not to mention
being entangled in David’s arms (and his bedsheets). Throw in a mysterious blue diamond, an opportunistic mother intent on selecting her son’s bride from
Beverly Hills’s best (a shortlist that does not of course include Jane), and the uncovering of some very explosive family secrets, and you’ve got one hell
of a bombshow.

Susan Mallery’s plot is predictable; we know precisely where and
with whom the characters will wind up, but like the Jane Austen novels from which Mallery draws upon so heavily, the magic of this romantic story is not
the thrill of finding out what happens in the end, but how the characters get there.
I liked the way that Mallery laid emphasis on David as the prize plumb; we’re all aware–at least if we’ve read /Pride and Prejudice/–that “it is a truth
universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife,” but all to often we forget that these young men,
semeingly on the hunt for rich heiresses, are frequently the pawns in the match-making games of many an ambitious mother. Mallery drives this idea home
(like an icepick to the brain) through Elizabeth’s character. an interesting combination of Mrs. Bennet’s irritating, nosy interference and Lady Catherine
DeBurgh’s haughty, overinflated opinion of self-worth, Elizabeth Worden might not be charming, but she’s fully alive to the fact that, whether 19th century
England or 21st Century Beverly Hills, the mother pulls the strings from which her son must dangle precariously on the marriage market.

If we’re going to read this as a contemporary retelling of Pride and Prejudice, that’s probably Mallery’s strongest selling point; aside from that, between
the frequent mentions of Austen, the teasing jab at (to quote Rebecca) the “long version of Pride and Prejudice…the Colin Firth version,” and the Lifetime movie comparisons,
I felt like I was being beaten over the head with cliches, though admittedly, I should have expected nothing less and only have myself to blame for not
wearing my chicklit armor. I don’t know whether Mallery was intending to convince her readers that her novel isn’t just another retelling of Jane Austen
or if she was trying to carve a creative niche for herself within that sub-genre; if the former, methinks the lady doth protest too much. IF the latter,
the novel doesn’t strike me as any better or worse than similar stories. Fans of Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones novels might appreciate the sexual tension
(not to mention the wink and nudge in the direction of the “long version” of Pride and Prejudice that inspired the creation of Mark Darcy, but they’ll
miss the tongue-in-cheek
British humor and colorful pros that make
Fielding’s novels the perfect blend of hilarious and heartwarming.

About the characters: I found them to be simply-rendered, but convincing. We have no problem cheering for Jane as she transforms from a shy, unassuming
girl into a strong, self-assertive woman; we fall, with very little pushing, into David’s open arms; we’re alternately irritated with and sorry for Rebecca–I’ve-got-everything
glamor girl on the outside, insecure child on the inside; we feel a savage pleasure as we witness Elizabeth’s downfall.

Altogether not one of my personal favorites, but like that cup of hot chocolate, it hits the spot if you’re in the mood for something warm and fluffy.

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