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Originally published at Am I the Only One Dancing?. Please leave any comments there.

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you have not already discovered Downton Abbey (and if not, why not?), it is a British period television show filmed at Highclere Castle in England that begins on the morning after the Titanic sinks and continues to follow the Earl and Lady Grantham (‘the Crawley family’) and their staff and the people of their estate through the next few decades.

The show examines class and wealth and privilege while providing an entertaining and intelligent human drama that is set firmly in place and time. The relationships are interesting and complicated, and for those of us who like pretty things, there is plenty of eye candy to be had.

Viewers who watch in Great Britain get to watch each season approximately six months ahead of those in America (except for those industrious enough to track down a British version of the show). As an American, I am (usually) patient enough to wait until it comes over the airwaves here, so currently I am on episode three of season three.

I’m going to break the question set in two, one for those who have never seen the series, and one for those who have. Please, no season 3 spoilers in the comments, as I know there are fans from all over the world who read the posts here.

If you have never seen Downton Abbey:

  • From what you have heard of the series, what appeals to you? What doesn’t appeal to you?
  • Are you thinking of watching it at some point, or are you just sick of listening to us enthusiastic fans?
  • Do you like period pieces in general or is that one of the reasons you haven’t watched the show?
  • Are there access problems keeping you from watching the show? Is it not available locally to you or are there financial issues?
  • Is it on your ‘to watch’ list?
  • Do you like to wait to watch some series so that you can watch them ‘all at once’?
  • What would it take for someone to convince you to watch it right now, today?

If you watch Downton Abbey:

  • Who is your favorite character? Why?
  • What storyline do you find most believable? Least believable?
  • How well do you think the series handles the class issues it attempts to portray? What does it do well? What could it do better?
  • If you were a new character in Downton Abbey, who would you be and how would you be introduced?
  • Imagining yourself in the life of one of the staff members, how would that compare to a working or middle class job today? Easier or harder? In what ways?
  • Imagine yourself one of the nobility of that time. Do you think that Downton Abbey ‘soft pedals’ the attitude of the aristocracy to the people of their estates and to their servants?
  • In what ways are the women in the series more alike than different despite class?
  • In what ways are the men in the series more alike than different despite class?
  • How different is the world of Downton Abbey from today’s world? How is it similar?
  • What do you find funny in the show? Tragic? Heartwarming? (remember, no season 3 spoilers)

As with every other Today’s Dance, feel free to ponder your responses silently, leave them below, and share them with friends using the buttons at the bottom of the post.

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Originally published at Am I the Only One Dancing?. Please leave any comments there.

The Cat Came Back

Not Charlie Sheen. This kitten is a standin as my photo uploader wouldn’t work and I had to use stock.

Charlie Sheen is the cat who came back. Already. Our lovely little bundle of purr has decided that her favorite place to rest her head when I’m at home is on my lap, with her head and paws on the track pad of my laptop (which I keep switched off because I use a mouse instead.)

From that position she bats at my hands as I type. All. Day. Long. (I type a lot). So I put her gently on the floor. Her hind feet haven’t even fully hit the floor before she’s twisting in midair to jump back into my lap. I pass her to Overthinker or Husband. She politely accepts scritches from them, then makes her way back to me.

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Originally published at Am I the Only One Dancing?. Please leave any comments there.

The Sims 3 (console video game)

The Sims 3 in my Life

I have a proposition for a new Sims 3 expansion I would like to call Sims 3 Real Life. I love The Sims 3. In any given month, I “waste” hours upon hours creating families and the homes they live in, designing their clothes, and getting frustrated because my trusty laptop, now getting into its fifth year, is struggling to play it.

Along with all of the expansions from Electronic Arts, I play with the NRaas suite of mods, and almost never without Master Controller and Story Progression from that suite because it adds so much to the game.

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Originally published at Am I the Only One Dancing?. Please leave any comments there.

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The Essential Thanksgiving


Turkey, despite all rumors to the contrary, is not essential to Thanksgiving, even in the US. Blasphemy, right? Thanksgiving is a harvest festival, and of course the fruits of harvest are important to the festival, but it is more than that. The essential Thanksgiving doesn’t require particular foods or table settings, but these ideals. 

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Originally published at Am I the Only One Dancing?. Please leave any comments there.

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This little video has a catchy tune and an important message: Don’t do dumb stuff that will kill you.

For many years, an unofficial competition has raged, the Darwin Awards. At the link you will find over 400 documented cases of ‘What the f*ck was he/she thinking” for which we will never know the answer because the person died.

There’s a tendency to a great deal of schadenfreude in these cases, and to some extent, rightly so. When a person has spent his life fighting helmet laws and dies from a head injury after a car wreck it’s funny, right?

Except that it’s not. And deep down we know it, and that’s why we laugh. To err is human. “Man is the animal that laughs at himself” as Valentine Michael Smith said (via Robert Heinlein). And we laugh at ourselves because it hurts so bad. So yeah. Sometimes we abandon compassion, for a moment, because the ultimate human moment is to laugh at death, and the many, many ways we bring it on.

And then, we get back to shared joy and shared pain. We continue to try to improve our lives and the lives of others around us. We abandon judgment and embrace compassion. We seek knowledge. And still, we get it wrong. To err is human, remember?

As Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) said:

Easier To Fool

Mark Twain (from Facebook meme, originally from an image in public domain)

People believe a lot of untrue things, sometimes as many (to misquote the White Queen) as three before breakfast.

I’m sometimes guilty of that myself. But my challenge for myself, over the next several years, is to use my compassion and my ability to write to help people distinguish between useful knowledge and ‘knowledge’ that causes problems for people by preventing them from investigating further, which is perhaps one of the best definitions of truth.

The Darwin Awards (film)

The Darwin Awards (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back to the Darwin awards. There are lots of dumb ways to die. We invent more every day. It’s entirely possible that you or I might succumb to one of those. More importantly, however, there are a lot of dumb ways to live, ways that hurt us and the people around us, and we don’t have a nifty internet meme to identify them  and point and laugh.

Maybe instead we shoule be looking for ways to teach, to share, and to help people, rather than laughing and judging. So yeah, go ahead and laugh. The video, especially, is adorable. And then…

Maybe its time to start identifying ways to live better, and to keep on spreading joy until there’s no room for the sort of fear and hate that keep infecting the world. Or as Lennon said, ‘Give peace a chance’.

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Originally published at Am I the Only One Dancing?. Please leave any comments there.

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Mr Migraine is visiting today, so in lieu of the post I intended to work on today, I’m going to introduce you to some writers of fine articles and poems I have found on the web. Curated links and editing old posts seem to be the extent of my intellectual capacity today. Enjoy!

Elizabethann, who also goes by Elsie (in my tree) has been writing beautiful and challenging poetry for many years on Livejournal. Sometimes it borders on doggerel in style, but in a really good way (much like Robert Service). It is the subject matter that can be challenging.

Elsie, as she tells it in her journal, has had a very difficult life, and her ambivalence about how it has affected her is a frequent topic of her poetry. It can be shocking and hard to read even as its beauty and lyricism is compelling. Here, go have a look at her latest, and then look back over others she has posted.

Cathain has written a scathing indictment of What is Wrong with Kansas? Cait is from Kansas, and I live a scant dozen miles (or less) from Kansas, with family and friends on the Jayhawks side of the border. I think Cait accurately lays the problems in the state at the feet of ideology. I would be interested in solutions that the readers of this post can come up with, because I suspect they will be more widely applicable after the next midterms.

From Daily Kos comes an article about veiled threats being bantered around about ‘making Joe Biden President’. My observation: Our contry (the US) is a representative democracy. Voting is a bloodless revolution every four years. If you don’t like the outcome of the revolution, rather than bring blood in it, seek to have the next bloodless revolution turn your way.

Lest you think I have nothing good to say about business owners and people in power, there’s this: The owner of Bob’s Red Mill is giving his company to his employees.

Finally, I have seen this video mentioned in Huffington Post several times from friends on Facebook. It gives me the giggles, partially, in fact, because my husband can compete with those handsome fellas in the video in every particular except in the whole being gay thing: Gay Men will Marry Your Girlfriends

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Originally published at Am I the Only One Dancing?. Please leave any comments there.

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Sunset at Huntington Beach, California.

Sunset at Huntington Beach, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Turns out there was good reason for Love and Consequences by Margaret (Peggy) B. Jones to not be named “Truth and Consequences”. There was no truth in it, and Margaret was afraid of the consequences.

Turns out Margaret B. Jones, (supposedly half white, half Native American, poverty class) was actually Margaret Seltzer, an all white woman from Sherman Oaks, a wealthy suburb of Los Angeles. She “borrowed” the stories of people she worked with while doing anti-poverty and white ally work in Los Angeles gang territories, and worked them into a “memoir” about “her” difficult life.

There are so many things wrong with what Ms. Seltzer did that it’s difficult to pick a “worst”, but my vote would be on the betrayal of all those who considered her an ally by appropriating their stories for profit, without credit, without attribution.

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