Meet Absolem, My Mascot

Absolem is the blue caterpillar from the Lewis Carroll book Alice in Wonderland, and the Disney and Tim Burton movies by the same name. Smoking a hookah as he perches on a mushroom, Absolem first engages Alice in a cryptic conversation that begins with the question, “Who are you?” 

I have always liked the wise blue caterpillar. I loved him in the Tim Burton live action version. When I arrived at the family   Halloween party last month, I was delighted to find my niece Ashley had created a replica of Absolem, and placed him in the Alice in Wonderland area in her home. He was tiny perfection, and I wanted him. 

Absolem’s role in Alice’s life was to help her discover her destiny. I felt this little caterpillar would be the ideal companion for my journey next year, as my destiny continues to be revealed to me. Every year I receive a new word, a new symbol for the journey, and a song. For 2017 I’ve also been given a quote. Absolem isn’t my symbol. I’ll reveal more about that in January. No, the blue caterpillar has been given to me as my mascot, or talisman. 

I was led to him as surely as Alice found Wonderland by traveling through the rabbit hole. 

Early in the year, the world lost a great man when Alan Rickman passed away. More than an actor, Alan possessed creative genius and an expansive heart and soul. I was deeply saddened by his death. Shortly after he died, I found a quote of Alan’s that was destined to shape next year. “If only life could be a little more tender and art a little more robust.” 

From those words a seed was planted, from which grew my word for 2017. I am honored to have Alan’s quote as the foundation for all that has arisen from it already, and all that will flow from it next year. 

Alice Through the Looking Glass released in theaters this year, the sequel to Tim Burton’s previous film. In both movies, Absolem is voiced by Alan Rickman. It was bittersweet to hear his rich and distinctive voice giving life to the blue caterpillar who had transformed into a blue butterfly, knowing Alan had transitioned as well. 

Then, the fabulous Halloween party, with the Tim Burton theme that Ashley and Debbie selected last year, months before Alan passed, has as a decoration the blue caterpillar sitting on his mushroom. He called to me throughout the day, in that unmistakable baritone. “Who are you? And where are you going? Can you make life a little more tender next year, and art a little more robust?” 

He has continued to call to me. 

Today, Absolem came home with me. My niece allowed me to purchase him, knowing I will cherish him. He has a new mushroom to perch upon, that I bought tonight at Target. Both will rest on my writing table, in my creative studio, where I can look at Absolem daily and feel inspired to carry out my mission for 2017. 

I hope he asks me every day who I am. 

Movie Review: Love & Friendship

I declared tonight a movie night, feeling the need for a little nurturing self care. Comfy clothes on, wrapped up in my late father’s Harley Davidson throw, a cup of hot Scottish tea in hand, I settled on a Christmas movie. But moments into the film, I stopped it. The movie I had picked out didn’t feel right, not tonight. 

Instead, I selected another movie from my Watch List on Amazon Prime, Love & Friendship, a historical comedy, if such a genre exists, based upon the novella Lady Susan by Jane Austen. Written early in Austen’s writing career, this delightful little book wasn’t published until 50 plus years after her death. 

I was intrigued, being a fan of Jane Austen and of the many screen versions of her books. I have never read Lady Susan so I was unfamiliar with the story. As I began the movie, I knew I had made the right choice. 

Love & Friendship stars Kate Beckinsale, Chloe Sevigny, Xavier Samuel, Emma Greenwell, Morfydd Clark, Tom Bennett, Justin Edwards and Stephen Fry. This period piece that is classified as both a comedy and a drama, was directed by Whit Stillman. The movie carries a PG rating, for adult themes, and has a run time of 1 hour and 32 minutes. 

Set in England in the late 1700s, Love & Friendship tells the story of Lady Susan Vernon (Beckinsale), recently a widow, and totally without funds. She is not, however, without intelligence, wit and beauty…and the ability to manipulate others. Determined to find husbands for herself and for her reluctant teenage daughter, Frederica (Clark), Lady Susan moves both of them into Churchhill, the magnificent estate of her brother-in-law, Charles (Edwards).

Lady Susan charms the gentlemen, no matter their age or marital status, and invites rumors and scandal, everywhere she goes. Her sister-in-law, Catherine (Greenwell) is very distraught over her uninvited houseguests, especially when Lady Susan appears to have captured the attention and heart of her handsome younger brother, Reginald (Samuel). 

Her only confidante and ally is the American, Alicia (Sevigny), married to an upstanding older gentleman, Mr. Johnson (Fry). It is through her comical and frank conversations with her friend Alicia that Lady Susan’s motives are exposed. While she attempts to play matchmaker between her daughter and the rather silly but wealthy James Martin (Bennett), the past threatens to catch up with Lady Susan, foiling all of her carefully laid out plans. 

This was a wonderful Jane Austen adaptation. The dialogue and characters were very much in Austen’s style…witty, engaging, likable. I was reminded of another of her films, Emma. The difference is that while Emma appears to be conniving and manipulative, she has a good and sincere heart that is always concerned with the welfare of others. 

Not so with Lady Susan. Her plotting and scheming is all centered around her own needs and gains, without regard for the well being of others. Initially I waited for the goodness in Susan to be revealed, as it is in many of Austen’s characters in her other stories. Once I realized Lady Susan was exactly as portrayed, I relaxed and simply enjoyed the tale. 

For enjoy it I did. The clever dialogue, comedy, and over-the-top dramatics created a highly entertaining film that kept a grin on my face. The period costumes were gorgeous, and the stately homes and English countryside created the perfect backdrop for this little known Austen work, allowing the story to come alive. Love & Friendship was exactly what I needed tonight. 

By movie’s end, somehow all had sorted itself out, and Lady Susan played the unique role of both the villain in the story and the heroine. I loved that. And now, I must read the novella.